“Run.” The Doctor grabbed Rose’s hand and they took off running. Pushing through the double doors, he opened the elevator where there was already someone waiting.
“Lilith?” Rose said in disbelief.
The girl grinned. “Sup, Tyler?” she said in her American accent. Lilith brushed a lock of her short brown hair out of her face as she assessed her friend. She was nowhere near hyperventilation. Keeping her cool, Rose Tyler for you.
The doors started to close but before they could, one of the mannequins reached its arm through the gap. The Doctor tugged on it furiously. Lilith brought her hand down on the plastic arm and it he was able to pull it off, letting the elevator doors close.
“Damn Autons.” Lilith muttered. “I’d almost gone two months without incident.”
“You’ve been here for two months?” the Doctor asked, with his eyebrows raised.
Rose stared at him in shock. “You pulled his arm off!” she exclaimed.
“Yep.” He tossed her the arm. Rose fumbled with it. “Plastic.”
“Very clever. Nice trick, Lil,” she turned to Lilith. “Who were they then, students? Is this a student thing or what?”
The Doctor frowned. “Why would they be students?”
“I don't know.”
“Well, you said it. Why students?”
“'Cos to get that many people dressed up and being silly, they got to be students.” Rose reasoned.
“That makes sense,” the Doctor turned to Lilith. “She’s making sense. Well done picking her.”
“Thanks.” Lilith and Rose snorted at the same time.
“They're not students.”
“Whoever they are, when Wilson finds them, he's going to call the police.”
The Doctor turned to look at her. “Who's Wilson?”
“Chief electrician.” Rose answered. The doors opened.
Lilith put her arm on Rose’s shoulder. “Sorry.” She left the elevator.
Rose followed them out. “That's just not funny. That's sick!” she protested.
“Hold on,” the Doctor said. “Mind your eyes.”
“What’s going on?” Rose asked, turning to her friend.
Lilith shrugged. “You just sorta go with it, you know?”
The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver, disabled the lift controls, and darted off with Lilith on his heels.
“Who are you, then? Who's that lot down there?” Rose demanded before following. “I said, ‘who are they’?”
“Autons. They're made of plastic.” Lilith explained. “Living plastic creatures.”
“They're being controlled by a relay device in the roof,” the Doctor added. “Which would be a great big problem if I didn't have this.” He held up a small device. "So, I'm going to go up there and blow them up, and I might well die in the process, but don't worry about me.”
“Now wait jus-” Lilith tried to protest.
“No, you two go home. Go on. Go and have your lovely beans on toast. Don't tell anyone about this, because if you do, you'll get them killed.” He shut the door behind him then, after a moment, opened it again. “I'm the Doctor, by the way. What's your name?”
“Rose.” Rose said.
“Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!” The Doctor slammed the door again.
“Damned twit.” Lilith growled. “Listen Rose, you can’t remember that I was here.” She touched Rose’s temple, then pressed a button on her large watch and disappeared in a flash.
Rose shook her head and ran off.
“There's Finch's.” Jackie suggested. “You could try them. They've always got jobs.”
“Oh, great.” Rose muttered. “The butchers.”
“Well, it might do you good. That shop was giving you airs and graces. And I'm not joking about compensation. You've had genuine shock and trauma. Arianna got two thousand quid off the council just because the old man behind the desk said she looked Greek!” She went into the other room. “I know she is Greek, but that's not the point. It was a valid claim.”
The cat flap rattled.
“Mum, you're such a liar. I told you to nail that cat flap down. We're going to get strays.”
“I did it weeks back!” Jackie called from her bedroom.
“No, you thought about it.”
When she reached the door, Rose found the screws for the cat flap lying on the floor. Then, the flap moved. Rose opened it and gasped. It was the Doctor. She opened the door. There stood himself with Lilith standing behind him, her arms crossed and looking amused.
“What're you doing here?” the Doctor asked.
“I told you before. She lives here.” Lilith said.
“Well, what do you do that for?” he asked Rose, ignoring Lilith.
“Because I do. I'm only at home because someone blew up my job.” Rose said pointedly.
“I must have got the wrong signal,” the Doctor mused, buzzing his sonic. “You're not plastic, are you?” He rapped on her forehead. “No, bonehead. Bye, then.”
Rose grabbed his arm. “You. Inside. Right now.”
She pushed the Doctor into the flat. Lilith followed. “And what are you doing here?” she asked her. Lilith raised her eyebrows.
“I’m with him,” she answered.
“Who is it?” Jackie yelled.
“Go grill him. I’ll distract your mom.” Lilith winked. “It’s me, Jackie! I brought a guy who wanted to talk to Rose about last night! They’ll just be a few minutes!”
“She deserves compensation.” Jackie insisted as the Doctor walked past her bedroom.
“Ha, we’re talking millions.”
Rose’s mom froze. “Um, ahem, I’m in my dressing gown.”
“Yes, you are.”’
Lilith giggled. The Doctor shot her an odd look.
“There’s a strange man in my bedroom.”
“Yes, there is.”
“Well, anything could happen.”
Lilith shattered and she broke into laughter.
“No,” the Doctor said and walked away.
“Well, that’s rude.” Jackie sniffed.
Lilith regained her composure. “That’s… That’s him. He’s never really polite. Besides, Jackie, he’s taken.”
Jackie pouted and Lilith giggled again. She meandered off in the direction Rose and the Doctor had gone.
“It said on the news they found a body.” Rose was saying.
The Doctor looked at his reflection in a mirror and frowned. “Ah, could've been worse. Look at the ears.”
“Satellite dishes.” Lilith chuckled, looking over his shoulder.
He turned to her. “Why didn’t you tell me they were that big?”
She shrugged. “You didn’t ask.”
“I want you to explain everything,” the blond continued, oblivious to their conversation. The cat flap rattled.
“What's that, then? You got a cat?” the Doctor asked, brushing past Lilith.
The Auton arm flew out from behind the couch and grabbed the Doctor by the throat. Lilith shot over and tried to pry it off.
“We did have, but now they're just strays. They come in off the estate.”
Rose came in from the kitchen area with two mugs of coffee. The Doctor was still being strangled, but she just rolled her eyes. “He’s not serious, Lil. I told Mickey to chuck that out. You're all the same. Give a man a plastic hand.”
“Rose.” Lilith said through gritted teeth.
The Doctor managed to throw the arm off. It stopped in mid air and grabbed Rose's face instead. The Doctor and Lilith pulled at it, pulling Rose down on top of the Doctor and they fell onto the coffee table and smashed it. The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to get it off Rose, then jabed the device into its palm. The fingers stopped flexing.
“It's all right,” he said, “I've stopped it. There you go, you see? Harmless.”
“Do you think?” Rose hit him with the arm.
Lilith pulled the Doctor toward the door. “Come on, we’ve got the arm, we can get the signal.”
“Hold on a minute. You can't just go swanning off!” Rose called after them and followed them to the staircase.
“Yes we can,” the Doctor said. “Here we are. This is me, swanning off. See you.”
“But that arm was moving. It tried to kill me.”
“Ten out of ten for observation.” Lilith muttered.
Rose caught her arm. “You can't just walk away. That's not fair. You've got to tell me what's going on.”
“No, we don't.” Lilith said shortly.
“All right, then. I'll go to the police.” Rose said as the three made it out of the building. “I'll tell everyone. You said if I did that, I'd get people killed. So, your choice. Tell me, or I'll start talking.”
“Is that supposed to sound tough?” the Doctor snorted.
“Who are you?” Rose asked for what seemed like the tenth time.
“Told you. The Doctor. This is Lilith but you already seem to know that.”
Rose glanced at Lilith, who waved cheerily at her. “Yeah, but Doctor what?”
“Just the Doctor,” he and Lilith answered in unison.
She snorted. “Is that supposed to sound impressive?”
“Come on, then. You can tell me.” Rose insisted, picking up her pace. “I've seen enough. Are you the police?
“No, We were just passing through.”
Rose frowned. “‘Passing through’? Lil’s been here for months.”
Lilith barked out a laugh. “I was only supposed to be here a few days. Good thing he’s late, though. We would’ve missed the Autons.”
Rose shook her head. “But what have I done wrong? How comes those plastic things keep coming after me?”
“Oh, suddenly the entire world revolves around you,” the Doctor said, mockingly. “You were just an accident. You got in the way, that's all.”
“It tried to kill me.”
“It was after me, not you. Last night, in the shop, I was there, you blundered in, almost ruined the whole thing.”
“Bit rude there, Doc.” Lilith muttered.
“This morning,” he continued, “I was tracking it down, it was tracking me down. The only reason it fixed on you is 'cos you've met me.”
“So what you're saying is, the entire world revolves around you.” Rose snipped.
The Doctor nodded. “Sort of, yeah.”
“You're full of it.”
“Sort of, yeah.” Lilith chuckled.
“But, all this plastic stuff,” Rose pushed on, “who else knows about it?”
“No one,” the Doctor said. “Just you, me, and my niece.”
The frown seemed etched into Rose’s face. “What, you two're on your own?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Well, who else is there? I mean, you lot, all you do is eat chips, go to bed, and watch telly, while all the time, underneath you, there's a war going on.”
“Here we go,” Lilith groaned, “the superiority complex.”
“Oi!” the Doctor protested.
The brunette rolled her eyes. “I’m headed home. Explain this to her, Uncle. Rose Tyler isn’t going to leave this topic alone.”
“Okay. Start from the beginning.” Rose said to the Doctor as Lilith jogged ahead of the other two. She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her denim jacket as she approached the TARDIS.
“Hey, Old Girl.” She said, pushing the door open.
‘Hello, Dear One.’ The ship hummed back. Lilith smiled at the endearment and at the knowledge that it was she the TARDIS was talking to, not her uncle. At that moment, the man in question came into the TARDIS with a brooding look on his face.
“What, no Rose?” Lilith asked.
“How do you know that girl?” the Doctor demanded, hooking the plastic arm up to the TARDIS.
“You were late,” the young Time Lady said. “When you have to sit still for months, you tend to make friends.”
The Doctor stepped back from the console and swore in Gallifreyan. “The signal’s not strong enough. We need something better than an arm.”
“Well, you can go out and find that ‘something better’. I need some time on the TARDIS."
The Doctor didn’t argue.
The Doctor strode calmly into the TARDIS holding a plastic head under his arm. Lilith’s magazine, and jaw, dropped.
“Is that…Mickey Smith’s head?”
The Time Lord proceeded to hook it up to the TARDIS, the way he did the arm. “Auton head. It spoke after I pulled it off the body. Did you know they could do that?”
Lilith shook her head. “But if that’s Micks, then where’s—?”
Rose burst into the ship.
She ran out.
The younger Gallifreyan sighed. “Even the best can’t believe. They all have to do the obligatory circle, don’t they?”
“It's going to follow us!” Rose shouted.
“Calm down, Tyler.” Lilith said, hopping off the jump seat.
“The assembled hoards of Genghis Khan couldn't get through that door,” the Doctor boasted. “And believe me, they've tried. Now, shut up a minute.”
“Lilith, do you see this?” Rose breathed, looking around the TARDIS. “Are you seeing this?”
Lilith rocked back on her heels. “Uhm, yeah, Rose. I’m seeing it.”
“You see, the arm was too simple,” the Time Lord began, “but the head's perfect. I can use it to trace the signal back to the original source. Right.” He turned to Rose. “Where do you want to start?”
Rose gulped. “Er, the inside's bigger than the outside?”
“Yes,” the Doctor said.
“Are you alien?”
“Yes.” The Doctor shifted. “Is that all right?”
“Yeah.” Rose said immediately. She looked at Lilith. “You’re his niece, yeah? Does that make you alien too?”
Lilith bit the inside of her lip and nodded. “I’d have told you, but would you have believed me?”
“No.” Rose admitted. “So this is, what, your space ship?”
“It's called the TARDIS,” the Doctor explained. “T-A-R-D-I-S. That's Time And Relative Dimension In Space.”
Rose trailed her eyes over the time rotor and console, landing on the decapitated Mickey-head. She started to sob.
“That's okay,” he said. “Culture shock. Happens to the best of us.”
Lilith rolled her eyes.
“Did they kill him?” Rose choked. “Mickey? Did they kill Mickey? Is he dead?”
“They’re probably keeping him alive to maintain the copy.” Lilith assured her. “Right, Uncle?”
The Doctor frowned. “I didn't think of that.”
Rose glared at him. “He's my boyfriend. You pulled off his head. They copied him and you didn't even think? And now you're just going to let him melt?”
“Melt?” The plastic head was, in fact, melting on the console where it was attached by cables. “Oh, no, no, no, no, no! Lilith!”
“Got it!” Lilith shouted, rushing over to the other side of the console. She threw a few switches as the Doctor set the TARDIS in motion
“What're you doing?” Rose demanded.
The Doctor raced around the console. “Following the signal. It's fading.”
“I've got it!” Lilith yelled. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Almost there. Almost there.”
“Here we go!” The TARDIS landed, the Doctor and Lilith ran for the door.
“You can't go out there. It's not safe!” Rose yelled after them.
“Lost the signal,” the Doctor sighed. Lilith leaned against the wall in defeat. “We got so close.”
“We've moved.” Rose said, studying the exterior of the TARDIS. “Does it fly?”
“Disappears there and reappears here.” The Doctor barely glanced back at her. “You wouldn't understand.”
“If we're somewhere else, what about that headless thing? It's still on the loose.”
“It melted with the head.” He bushed past the human girl. “Are you going to witter on all night?”
Lilith shook her head. “Rude.”
“I'll have to tell his mother.” Rose sighed. The Doctor turned and looked at Rose, confused. Rose glared back at him. “Mickey. I'll have to tell his mother he's dead, and you just went and forgot him, again! You were right, you are alien.”
“He might not be dead, Rose.” Lilith tried to say.
“Look, if I did forget some kid called Mickey—”
“Yeah, he's not a kid.” Rose interrupted.
The Doctor ignored her. “It's because I'm trying to save the life of every stupid ape blundering on top of this planet, all right?”
Rose spluttered, “All right?!”
“Yes, it is!”
Lilith put her hand on Rose’s arm. “He insults species when he’s stressed, it’s nothing personal.”
Rose huffed and crossed her arms. “If you are an alien, how comes you sound like you're from the North?”
“Lots of planets have a north,” the Doctor responded automatically.
“And I s’pose lots of planets have an America too, then.” Rose looked pointedly at Lilith.
The Time Lady shrugged. “Nah, I just spend too much time with my godfather.”
“And what's a… police public call box?”
The Doctor’s demeanor lightened. “It's a telephone box from the 1950s. It's a disguise.”
“Okay.” Rose chuckled at the fond smile on the Time Lord’s face. “And this, this living plastic? What's it got against us?”
“Nothing. It loves you. You've got such a good planet. Lots of smoke and oil, plenty of toxins and dioxins in the air, perfect,” the Doctor said. “Just what the Nestene Consciousness needs. It's food stock was destroyed in the war, all its protein plants rotted, so Earth, dinner!”
“Any way of stopping it?”
The Doctor held up a tube of blue liquid. “Anti-plastic.”
“Anti-plastic.” Rose repeated.
Lilith smiled, observing the two. The Doctor leaned slightly in conspiratorially. “Anti-plastic. But first I've got to find it.” He straightened up and walked off. “How can you hide something that big in a city this small?”
“Hold on,” Rose said, following, “hide what?”
“The transmitter. The Consciousness is controlling every single piece of plastic, so it needs a transmitter to boost the signal.”
“What's it look like?”
“Like a transmitter. Round and massive, slap bang in the middle of London. A huge circular metal structure like a dish, like a wheel. Radial. Close to where we're standing. Must be completely invisible.” He stopped pacing and crossed his arms. Only then, did he notice the way that Lilith and Rose were looking at him. “What?”
The Doctor turned and looked at what Rose was staring at on the south bank, and then turned back. Lilith giggled behind her hand.
“What?” He looked back again. Lilith’s giggles increased. “What is it? What?”
He turns around one more time and finally caught on to what the two girls were looking at. The London Eye.
“Oh.” The Doctor grinned manically at Lilith and Rose. “Fantastic.”
The three of them took off running. Lilith couldn’t stop her giggles from turning into a full on laugh when the Doctor reached out and took Rose’s hand as they ran.
“Think of it,” the Doctor said. “Plastic all over the world, every artificial thing waiting to come alive. The shop window dummies, the phones, the wires, the cables.”
“The breast implants.” Rose added.
“Still,” Lilith said, “we've found the transmitter. The Consciousness must be somewhere underneath.”
Rose looked over the parapet and saw a large manhole entrance at the bottom of some steps. “What about down here?”
The Doctor exchanged looks with Lilith. “Looks good to me.”
Lilith nodded and lifted her arm. “Because this will inevitably go wrong,” she said with a grin and pressed a button on the large watch on her wrist. In a flash of light, she was gone. The Doctor and Rose ran down and the Doctor opened up the hatch. There was red light inside.
‘GET IN THE TARDIS!’ The Doctor’s voice suddenly rang out in Lilith’s mind. ‘They found the anti-plastic! The Consciousness started the invasion! Get in the TARDIS!’
‘Like hell.’ Lilith mentally growled back. The streets were chaos. Mannequins hobbled round with they’re hands in gun mode, shooting at every other person they fixated on. Three brides were particularly focused on a familiar bottle-blond woman. “Jackie!” Lilith shouted. She grabbed the elder woman’s wrist and sprinted as fast as she could away from the murderous trio.
“Lilith?” Jackie panted.
Once they were a good distance away, and around a corner, Lilith let go, but didn’t stop running. “See you around, Jackie!” she yelled over her shoulder as she rounded another corner. Skidding to a stop, she caught her breath and pressed the button on her vortex manipulator. She materialized inside the TARDIS just as the Doctor pushed Mickey inside, followed by Rose.
“Lil-Lilith?” Mickey stuttered. “Lilith knows alien stuff too?”
“Lilith is alien stuff, Micks.” Lilith said wit a wide grin. She waved cheerily at him. “Hello.” The TARDIS landed and Mickey stumbled backwards and out the door. Lilith chuckled to herself as Rose exited the ship, dialing what she assumed was Jackie’s number on her cell phone. Lilith heard Jackie’s chatter on the other end and Rose laughed and hung up
Rose ran over to Mickey, who was trying to hide behind a pallet. “A fat lot of good you were,” she teased, trying to pull him to his feet.
“Nestene Consciousness?” The Doctor and Lilith stood in the doorway of the TARDIS. The Doctor snapped his fingers. “Easy.”
“You were useless in there. You'd be dead if it wasn't for me.” Rose put her hands in her pockets.
“Yes, I would,” the Doctor said. “Thank you.”
“Really, Tyler,” Lilith said, “thanks.”
“Right then,” he continued jovially. “We'll be off, unless, er, I don't know, you could come with us,” he said hesitantly. “This box isn't just a London hopper, you know. It goes anywhere in the universe free of charge.”
“Don't.” Mickey managed to say. “They’re aliens. They’re things.”
“He's not invited,” the Doctor added. “What do you think? You could stay here, fill your life with work and food and sleep, or you could go anywhere.”
“Is it always this dangerous?” Rose asked.
“Yeah.” Lilith and the Doctor said with matching smiles.
Rose took a deep breath. “Yeah, I can't. I've er, I've got to go and find my mum and someone's got to look after this stupid lump, so.”
The Doctor visibly deflated. “Okay. See you around.” The two aliens disappeared into the TARDIS.
The Doctor trudged up the ramp and dematerialized the TARDIS. Uncle and niece stood in complete silence. The elder of the two turned to leave the console room but was stopped by the other roughly pulling levers on the console.
“What are you doing?” the Doctor demanded.
“You forgot our companion, Uncle.” Lilith said simply.
“Have you gone deaf? She said no, Lilith.”
“You didn’t give her the information she needed to make the correct choice. You left out a very important bit about the TARDIS.”
Said ship materialized ten seconds after it had left. Lilith shoved the Doctor towards the door.
She grinned and mouthed the words as the Doctor said them. The sentence that would change a universe.
“Did I mention it also travels in time?”