The Lost Girl

People get lost in time sometimes, but there's no one quite as lost as Amanda Grey. She's spent an eternity jumping from place to place, much like the Doctor does, but she can't control it, can't stop it. She's alone in the universe, but she has hope. There are stories scattered through time about the Doctor. Fair warning - female Doctor. If you don't like don't read.

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8. Warzone

I found myself ducking and rolling as something whizzed past my ear at a terrific speed, and the ground beneath me shuddered as my back struck the ground. I rolled instinctively back onto my feet and started running, past vague shapes and glittering metal, headlong through the conflict. I didn’t stop to breathe. I was dressed in civilian clothes in the middle of a warzone. Now was not the time for chatting. A few hundred metres to my left, a missile smashed into the ground, sending massive cracks through the rock. My feet were torn from under me and I fell, a scream clawing up my throat.

Someone grabbed my arm and I slammed painfully against a shelf of jagged rock. The fissure continued down into darkness. I planted my trainers on the wall and scrambled up, clutching a heavily muscled arm. Before I could sweep my hair out of my eyes I was pulled into a bone-crushing hug, and someone said gruffly in my ear, “Long time, no see, Amanda”.

I let out a weary, relieved chuckle, “Oh Bones! I’ve missed you!” It took me a moment to remember the right language. He brushed my hair back off my face with one giant hand and cupped my jaw almost tenderly, smiling, but his eyes were searching my skin for blemishes, microscopic needles embedded into the skin from terrabombs (which were almost undetectable explosions that smothered the victim in miniscule bots which then carefully deconstruct whatever flesh they touch). He completely ignored another missile as it crashed down in the distance, scattering troops in all directions, wounding some, swallowing others, like it had been about to swallow me. Satisfied with my physical wellbeing, he clapped me on the shoulder hard enough to make my knees buckle.

I grinned ruefully, “That’s another one of my nine lives I owe you”, I said.

Bones was a member of a rebel Sontaran group, set on defying the warlike constitution the Sontaran were held by. It was treason, and they were being chased all over the universe for it, but their numbers were growing, or at least they had been when I fought with him last. They were strictly against war, but you can’t exactly hold a peaceful protest against sacred Sontaran doctrines. There were entire generations of Sontaran now who had grown up in a peaceful base hidden in the cosmos. It was the most dramatic culture change I’d ever seen, in all my long years, which is why I supported it the last time.

“How long has it been?” I asked airily.

Bones scrutinised me for a moment, “Five years”. He glanced over his shoulder at the Sontaran fighting one another, “But we’d better continue this conversation elsewhere. I have found my desire to be blow to a million pieces far diminished over the past few years”.

We ran to a large bunker set into the planet surface, battered by missiles but holding strong. Innovation was going a long way to helping the free Sontaran win the war against their indoctrinated brothers. It didn’t seem to bother Bones: killing members of his own species, but then humans had never been too bothered when they killed other humans. In any case, Sontaran from his generation hadn’t really been brought up to care for one other beyond the cultish military sense of unity that they found necessary to fuel their endless wars.

He pulled open the door and ushered me inside. The room held only a few of the cleverest Sontaran, controlling drones in the air, deciding which ships to attack, where to deploy troops, but in a calculated way that was bewildering to their enemies. The Sontaran had always relied on brute strength and manipulation, not tactical superiority, to win wars for them.

Bones sat down heavily and regarded me with veiled suspicion, “Last I checked you’d hijacked one of my best ships and set off into the stars”. I flushed, recalling that particular incident. Bones glared at my chagrin, “What brought you back into my warzone?”

“Necessity”, I replied, “I need firepower”.

“And you think I owe you that?”

I raised an eyebrow and sat back in my chair, flinging one leg over the other, “Yes I do”.

Bones continued to glare for a few moments, but I didn’t waver, and eventually he rolled his eyes, “I suppose you’re right”, he said reluctantly, “What do you need?”

“Bullets”, I said, “And lots of them”.

He nodded, “Those I have”.

I handed him a slip of paper, stowed in my sock, which was spattered with blood and dust from the battleground outside. Bones read the co-ordinates and shouted at the techies to check it out. We exchanged glares as the young Sontaran keyed in the numbers. The image that showed up on screen was a patch of empty space. It was close enough to a few stars, but it was nothing special on a universal scale. Bones looked at me for clarification, and I nodded, “That’s the place”.

He raised his lumpy excuse for an eyebrow, “I don’t see anything there I can throw a grenade at”, he said grumpily. I stood and moved over to the computer. The techie clutched his seat possessively, but Bones indicated for him to move, “But do throw her out if she starts doing something I wouldn’t approve of”, he added.

My fingers skimmed over the keyboard and I entered the correct algorithm, something that had cost me a lot to get my hands on. An image flickered onto the screen. The techie jumped a little bit, clearly not the blood and guts kind of Sontaran, when he saw the image on the screen. Taking note of his reaction, Bones stomped over and brushed him aside, staring at the gaping blackness, surrounded by tendrils of ghostly fire, which sat centre screen.

Yawning wide, it sent a shiver down my spine too, and I’d seen it before. Bones’ lip twitched, but he otherwise betrayed no emotion, “I’ve never wasted bullets shooting at a black hole before”, he grumbled.

“It isn’t a black hole”, I said.

He snapped his lumpy brown head around to face me, “Nonsense”, he snarled.

I rolled my eyes. There was still old Sontaran blood in him, still a root of ignorance in his careful mind, but he was a friend, so I just kept staring at him, and eventually he sighed loudly, “Pray tell me what it is then”.

“It’s a prison”, I said, “The most effective prison in the universe. People used to think that it was the Pandorica, but it never was. The Time Lords hid this in a deserted back end of the universe when they were still alive. It holds the most feared being in the universe, the real monster behind all those Gallifreyan ghost stories. It used to rip holes in the universe for fun, and then the Time Lords stopped it, and imprisoned it in there. It’s a complicated construction, a feat of temporal magic only the Time Lords could ever hope to achieve. Technically, everything inside that hole doesn’t exist, but once you’re inside the hole, everything outside of it doesn’t exist”. Bones nodded totally without comprehending, “Tardises can get in and out of it, which explains why the Doctor was able to escape, and if I’m right, he’s going back in to break whatever hold that creature has on me”.

“What hold?” Bones demanded, looking me up and down almost fearfully, as though I might be carrying some horrific disease.

I winced, “I’ve been gone for five years, yes?”

“That’s what I said”, Bones replied impatiently.

“But the thing is, Bones, I haven’t seen you in two hundred years. That’s how long it’s been for me. I didn’t just drive away, I was pulled out of that ship and into another time, into hundreds of other times, and I don’t stay long. I’m being dragged through time. I am very, very old, older than you can imagine”. Bones looked as though he had a stomach ache, trying to follow what I was saying. Cleverness wasn’t really his area.

But he surprised me by coming up with a moderately clever question, “So what’s the problem with you being dragged through time?” He cleared his throat loudly at the end and seemed startled by his own wit. Asking an intelligent question was a considerable achievement for a Sontaran.

“Time travel is damage”, I explained, “I’m tearing apart the universe when I’m dragged through it. I shouldn’t be here, and there’s no Tardis to protect me from hurting the universe when I time travel”. It was as close as I had come to understanding it all.

Bones pointed at the screen, “Bullets there, then, yes?”

I nodded, and then smiled at him, “I asked you last time if you could put out the feelers for that thing?”

He thought for a moment, and then smiled, “Oh yes! That thing! I got you one, with great difficulty, I might add”. He clicked his fingers and a Sontaran came running. He grumbled a few quick instructions and the soldier went running.

Bones didn’t bother with small talk as we waited. He glared fixedly at the wall over my shoulder, and my stomach was twisting with nerves at what I was about to try and do, so I didn’t try to initiate conversation. The soldier returned a few minutes later, holding a small box, which he passed without a word to Bones.

He handed it to me and I opened it with shaking hands. It lay inside on a red velvet cushion, the way it had been bought, no doubt. Bones didn’t strike me as the red velvet type. I yanked it out and dropped the box onto a table. Fixed around my wrist, it made me feel secure for the first time in an almost literal forever. It was a vortex manipulator, a rudimentary time travelling device given to Time Agents and frequently stolen from them.

I keyed in the co-ordinates, my fingers shaking a little. Bones observed my actions curiously, and flinched when I hugged him, not just a sweaty battle hug, protocol to check for wounds while exposing the smallest target possible to the enemy, but a real hug, gentle and sincere. He stepped back awkwardly when I pulled away and gave me a salute.

I smiled, “See you soon”, I said as jauntily as I could, and pressed the button.

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