Chapter Two: The Tara Maclay
In her time with the Doctor, she had seen a lot. But this was new. She had never encountered magic, or witches. The Doctor had never mentioned them before. Everything had a scientific explanation.
She needed to get one.
“Doctor?” Rose asked, pushing her way to the control panel.
“What is it?” He looked up from what he was doing.
“Can you explain what’s going on? I mean, swords shouldn’t be able to affect Daleks, and humans can’t shoot lightning from their fingertips. When I ask what’s going on, they tell me it’s magic.”
“I got no idea, Rose,” the Doctor replied evenly. “It might be something native to this reality, but I have no idea how it works. All I know is that there are a ton of Daleks, and these humans are able to fight them, so I’m going to do what they say.”
“We’re out of the atmosphere,” Captain Jack announced.
Smith came over. “OK. You want to go… here.” He pointed to an icon on the screen.
The Doctor frowned. “Scans show that’s an asteroid… wait a minute… I’m getting power readings and lifesigns.” He looked up at Smith. “An asteroid ship?”
“Of course. The Tara Maclay
The evacuees murmured.
“What’s an asteroid ship?” Rose whispered.
“It’s an asteroid that’s been converted into a spaceship. Mostly used by species that don’t have much in the way of orbital shipyards. You just stick on an engine, life support modules, and presto! Instant spaceship.”
As they approached, Smith tensed up for a moment. He then lifted his voice. As he spoke, Rose noticed for the first time that he had a London accent.
“Attention! We are about to arrive onboard the Tara. Once on board, all evacuees will disembark, and follow me to the Sunkissed Glade, where you will rest and receive food. Make sure to keep any belongings you have with you.”
“What about us?” Jack asked.
Smith lowered his voice. “General Rosenberg wants you for questioning.”
“Why, did we do something wrong?”
“No, she just wants to know what three human civilians were doing on Andammarin V in the middle of a Dalek invasion. Speaking of which, I’ll need to get your names.” He turned to the Doctor first. “You are?”
“I’m the Doctor,” he said in his characteristic manner. “Just the Doctor.”
Smith shrugged before turning to Jack. “And you?”
“Captain Jack Harkness.”
“Captain of what?”
“Nothing at the moment, I just like the title.”
Finally, he turned to Rose. “And what’s your name?”
Smith stepped back in shock. “No… that’s impossible.”
“What do you mean? I’m Rose Tyler. I’m from London.”
“It can’t be, it can’t be…” Smith repeated.
“Because I knew a Rose Tyler on Earth. She was killed when the Daleks first invaded.” A tear streamed down his face.
“What do you mean, you knew her?” Realization crept into her mind. “Who are you?”
He wiped away a tear. “My name is Lieutenant Mickey Smith, Champion of Gaia.”Mickey
In that moment, Rose recognized him. He was apparently in his thirties. The Mickey she knew was no weakling, but this one had an aura of war-weariness about him.
No doubt about it. They were in an alternate reality.
It was incredible.
Jack had seen asteroidal ships before, but the Tara Maclay
was unlike any other. For a start, it had an atmosphere on its surface – 70% nitrogen, 28% oxygen, according to the sensors. Earth-normal. It was obviously contained by a forcefield. He had never before seen a ship – asteroidal or not – with an artificial atmosphere on the outside
But even more amazing than that were the plants. The asteroid was literally covered
in greenery. There were forests, grasslands, even what seemed to be a swamp. It was simply unbelievable.
Smith – who was apparently the local counterpart to Rose’s boyfriend in their reality – guided the TARDIS to a grassy field near a deciduous forest. After landing, the other passengers disembarked. Smith led them into the forest, leaving Jack, the Doctor, and Rose behind.
No sooner had he left, Willow teleported in front of the TARDIS. She was accompanied by the dark-haired girl with the red axe.
“Doctor. Captain Harkness. Miss Tyler,” she addressed them. “I am General Willow Rosenberg. This is my chief of staff, General Kennedy Samson. Please, sit down.” She waved her hand, and five folding chairs appeared on the grass outside of the TARDIS.
After a moment’s hesitation, the three took their seats. Rosenberg and Samson sat opposite them. Rosenberg addressed Rose first.
“You gave your name to Lt. Smith as Rose Tyler. That name, and your description, matches the Rose Tyler who was killed on Invasion Day.”
“Um, how did you know that? I didn’t see him speak to you,” Rose asked.
“I’m telepathic. It isn’t easy, and I prefer speech, but I can communicate without words.”
“Now, it is entirely possible that you are that Rose Tyler. People do come back from the dead on occasion – I’ve brought someone back myself.”
“Really?” Jack asked.
“Yep.” She turned to the Doctor. “You, on the other hand, are a true paradox. You are a Time Lord, a species that no longer exists. The Time Lords were wiped out by the Daleks a thousand years ago.”
The Doctor took the news pretty well – understandable, considering that in their reality, he was the last of the Time Lords.
“Now, can you explain this?”
Rose, the Doctor, and Jack replied simultaneously:
Their deadpan reply surprised even Jack. Equally surprising was Rosenberg’s reaction:
“Oh. I see.”
There was a time when Willow would have struggled to comprehend all of this. Now, there was very little in the universe that could faze her. Alternate realities were a part of her world.
“So, in your
reality, the Time Lords and the Daleks wiped each other out?” she clarified.
“Except for me,” the Doctor said glumly.
“So,” Rose changed the subject, “How did the humans end up fighting the Daleks – and where did you get magic?”
“Well,” Willow leaned back, “in our reality at least, magic has always existed. I was an incredibly powerful witch even before the Daleks showed up. Kennedy,” she took her girlfriend’s hand, “is a Slayer – a girl chosen to fight the forces of evil, and gifted with superhuman strength and speed. There used to be only one, but I did a spell that activated all the Potentials – the girls who could become a Slayer.”
“When did that happen?” the Doctor asked.
“2003,” answered Kennedy. “Now, in early 2005, the Slayers started getting visions. Now, we normally do get prescient dreams, but we were having a lot of them, and all about the same thing. We saw Daleks – we didn’t know what they were at the time, only that they posed a threat – descending on London. We sensed that they were from beyond this planet, which meant that they couldn’t have very strong magic.”
“Why’s that?” Jack asked.
Time for Willow to explain. “In this dimension, magic is tied to the Earth. No seer has ever detected a magical presence beyond the Solar System. So we stocked up on magical weapons – which we had only just learned to forge – and gathered our forces in London.”
“Then, on October 5, 2005, it happened. They came.”