"What could possibly be holding back the human Empire?” she wondered aloud, pacing as the Doctor was using his sonic screwdriver on a pair of double doors.
“What indeed?” he agreed.
“We are so going to get in trouble.” Cathica muttered. “You're not allowed to touch the mainframe. You're going to get told off.”
“Lilith, tell her to button it.”
“Can it, Journalist.”
“You can't just vandalize the place.” Cathica insisted. “Someone's going to notice!” The doors opened. The sonic buzzed as the Doctor messed with something amongst the mare's nest of wiring. Something sparked. “This is nothing to do with me. I'm going back to work.”
“Go on, then. See you!” the Doctor said without looking back.
“I can't just leave you, can I?”
Lilith rolled her eyes.
“If you want to be useful, get them to turn the heating down. It's boiling.” Rose said. “What's wrong with this place? Can't they do something about it?”
Cathica shrugged. “I don't know. We keep asking. Something to do with the turbine.”
“‘Something to do with the turbine,’” the Doctor mocked.
“Well, I don't know!”
“Exactly!” he exclaimed. “I give up on you, Cathica. Now, Rose. Look at Rose. Rose is asking the right kind of question.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“Why is it so hot?” the Doctor questioned.
Cathica threw up her hands. “One minute you're worried about the Empire and the next it's the central heating!”
“Well, never underestimate plumbing. Plumbing's very important.” The Doctor held up a bundle of ripped wires and frowned. He reached back into the wiring and pulled out a monitor with a schematic on it. “Here we go. Satellite Five, pipes and plumbing. Look at the layout.”
Cathica looked at the screen with wide eyes. “This is ridiculous. You've got access to the computer's core. You can look at the archive, the news, the stock exchange, and you're looking at pipes?”
“Something’s wrong.” Lilith mused, frowning.
“Why, what is it?” Rose asked.
“The ventilation system.” Cathica answered. “Cooling ducts, ice filters, all working flat out channeling massive amounts of heat down.”
“All the way from the top,” the Doctor added.
“Floor five hundred.”
“Something up there is generating tons and tons of heat,” he said.
“Well, I don't know about you,” Rose said. “But I feel like I'm missing out on a party. It's all going on upstairs. Fancy a trip?"
Cathica shook her head. “You can't. You need a key.”
“Keys are just codes, and I've got the codes right here.” The Doctor took the monitor back. “Here we go. Override two one five point nine.”
The monitor read 215.9976/31
“How come it's given you the code?” Cathica almost whined.
“Someone up there likes me.”
“Come on,” Rose said to Cathica as the got in the elevator, “come with us.”
“No way.” Cathica shook her head.
“Bye!” the Doctor said, waving cheerily
“Well, don't mention my name. When you get in trouble, just don't involve me.” The journalist stalked away.
“So she’s gone,” Lilith said, “and Adam's given up. Looks like it's just the three of us.”
Rose smiled. “Yeah.”
The Doctor took Rose’s hand. “Good.”
Lilith eyed their joined hands and smirked. “Yep.” The elevator reached the top in less than thirty seconds. The doors opened to what Lilith could only describe as a floor that was just as frozen as it was deserted.
“The walls are not made of gold,” the Doctor said, noting the ice and frost covered walls. “You should go back downstairs, Rose.”
Rose crossed her arms. “Tough.”
‘Did you really expect that to work?’ Lilith asked, telepathically.
The Doctor sighed. ‘No.’
Exploring the frozen five hundreth floor, the came across a platform where stood a man with shocking white hair. Half a dozen other people, including Suki, Lilith noted, sat in chairs working at computers.
“I started without you,” the man said, still staring at a large computer screen. “This is fascinating. Satellite Five contains every piece of information within the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. Birth certificates, shopping habits, bank statements, but you three, you don't exist. Not a trace. No birth, no job, not the slightest kiss. How can you walk through the world and not leave a single footprint?”
“Suki. Suki!” Rose breathed, running to the girl’s side. “Hello? Can you hear me? Suki?” The former journalist just kept on working. “What have you done to her?” Rose demanded.
“I think she's dead,” the Doctor said.
“But she's working.”
“They've all got chips in their head, and the chips keep going, like puppets.” Lilith explained with distaste.
“Oh! You're full of information!” the man said happily. “But it's only fair we get some information back, because apparently, you're no one. It's so rare not to know something. Who are you?”
“It doesn't matter, because we're off. Nice to meet you. Come on.”
Rose tried to go back over to the Doctor, but Suki grabbed her arm. Two other puppet zombies grabbed the Doctor and Lilith. “Tell me who you are,” the man insisted.
Lilith stayed silent and glared at the pale man. The Doctor answered. “Since that information's keeping us alive, I'm hardly going to say, am I?”
“Well, perhaps my Editor in Chief can convince you otherwise.”
“And who's that?”
“It may interest you to know that this is not the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire,” the man stage whispered. “In fact, it's not actually human at all. It's merely a place where humans happen to live.”
Something above their head growled fiercely. Lilith gulped, but didn’t look up.
“Yeah,” He allowed as the snarling continued. “Yeah, sorry. It's a place where humans are allowed to live by kind permission of my client.” He pointed up. Lilith and the Doctor glanced at each other before looking in that direction.
There, hanging from the ceiling, was giant lump with a very nasty set of teeth in a mouth on the end of a pseudopod. And, like any nasty alien, it just had to be slimy.
Rose’s eyes widened. “What is that?”
“You mean that glob in charge of Satellite Five?” Lilith asked, incredulously.
“That ‘glob’, as you put it, is in charge of the human race. For almost a hundred years, mankind has been shaped and guided, his knowledge and ambition strictly controlled by it's broadcast news, edited by my superior, your master, and humanity's guiding light, the mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. I call him Max.”
“Max.” Lilith repeated, shaking her head. “Why can’t the bad guys be sane for once?”
The Doctor, Lilith, and Rose were placed in hefty sets of manacles.
“Create a climate of fear and it's easy to keep the borders closed. It's just a matter of emphasis,” the man, the Editor, said. “The right word in the right broadcast repeated often enough can destabilize an economy, invent an enemy, change a vote.”
“So all the people on Earth are like, slaves.” Rose said with a glare.
“Well, now, there's an interesting point. Is a slave a slave if he doesn't know he's enslaved?”
“Yes.” Lilith and the Doctor said together.
The Editor frowned. “Oh. I was hoping for a philosophical debate. Is that all I'm going to get? Yes?”
“You're no fun.”
“Let me out of these manacles,” the Doctor growled. “You'll find out how much fun I am.”
“Oh, he's tough, isn't he? But, come on. Isn't it a great system? You've got to admire it, just a little bit.”
“You can't hide something on this scale. Somebody must have noticed.” Rose said.
The Editor motioned to the group of people still working. “From time to time, someone, yes, but the computer chip system allows me to see inside their brains. I can see the smallest doubt and crush it.” He turned back to face them. “Then they just carry on, living the life, strutting about downstairs and all over the surface of the Earth like they're so individual, when of course, they're not. They're just cattle. In that respect, the Jagrafess hasn't changed a thing.”
Lilith spotted Cathica through a window behind the Editor's back. ‘You see her?’
‘I see her.’
“What about you?” Rose asked. "You're not a Jagra…a…belly.”
“Jagrafess.” Lilith corrected.
“Jagrafess. You're not a Jagrafess. You're human.”
“Yeah, well, simply being human doesn't pay very well.”
Rose looked at him incredulously. “But you couldn't have done this all on your own.”
The Editor chuckled. “No. I represent a consortium of banks. Money prefers a long-term investment. Also, the Jagrafess needed a little hand to install himself.”
“No wonder, a creature that size. What's his life span?” the Doctor asked.
“Three thousand years,” the Editor told him.
“That's one hell of a metabolism generating all that heat. That's why Satellite Five's so hot. You pump it out of the creature; channel it downstairs. Jagrafess stays cool; it stays alive. Satellite Five is one great big life support system.”
“But that's why you're so dangerous,” the Editor said. “Knowledge is power, but you remain unknown. Who are you?” He snapped his fingers and energy surged through the manacles, causing the trio to convulse.
“Leave them alone!” the Doctor yelled. “I'm the Doctor, they’re Rose Tyler and Lilith Smith! We're nothing; we're just wandering!”
“Tell me who you are!”
“He just said!” Lilith snapped.
“Yes, but who do you work for? Who sent you? Who knows about us? Who exactly—” He stopped. The Jagrafess growled. “Time Lords.”
“Oh, yes. The last of the Time Lords in their travelling machine. Oh, with the little human girl from long ago.” The Editor stroked Rose’s cheek.
“You don't know what you're talking about.”
The Doctor glared at him. “Someone's been telling you lies.”
The Editor raised his eyebrows. “Young master Adam Mitchell?” He snapped, calling up a holographic monitor showing Adam in the broadcast chair.
“Oh my God. His head!” Rose breathed
“Tyler,” Lilith growled, “you’re pet human is getting us in trouble.”
“What the hell's he done? What the hell's he gone and done?” the Doctor demanded. “They're reading his mind. He's telling them everything.”
“And through him, I know everything about you,” the Editor said smugly. “Every piece of information in his head is now mine. And you have infinite knowledge, Doctor. The Human Empire is tiny compared to what you've seen in your T-A-R-D-I-S. TARDIS.”
“Well, you'll never get your hands on it. I'll die first!” the Doctor hissed.
“Die all you like,” the Editor shrugged. “I don't need you. I've got the key.”
On the screen, the TARDIS key levitated out from Adam's pocket.
“You and your boyfriends!” the Doctor hissed at Rose.
“Today, we are the headlines. We can rewrite history.”
“And no one's going to stop you because you've bred a human race that doesn't bother to ask questions. Stupid little slaves, believing every lie.” Unbeknownst to the Editor, the Doctor was aiming his words at the eavesdropping journalist. “They'll just trot right into the slaughter house if they're told it's made of gold. “
Lilith watched as Cathica left.
“We could prevent mankind from ever developing!” the Editor continued, ignoring the Time Lord. Suddenly, alarms started going off. Lilith grinned; Cathica got the message. “What’s happening?”
The Jagrafess screeched. The beam that connected Adam to the computer receded and the key dropped to the floor.
“Someone's disengaged the safety.” He called the image up on the holo-screen. “Who's that?”
“It's Cathica.” Rose gasped.
“And she's thinking. She's using what she knows,” the Doctor said.
“Terminate her access!” the Editor ordered the puppets.
“Everything I told her about Satellite Five. The pipes, the filters, she's reversing it. Look at that.” The icicles and frost were starting to melt. “It's getting hot.”
“I said, terminate. Burn out her mind!” the Editor growled at Suki’s corpse.
Alarms kept blaring, the Jagrafess kept screeching, and all of the monitors started to burst into sparks as the dead operators collapsed. Rose managed to get out of her manacles.
“She's venting the heat up here. The Jagrafess needs to stay cool and now it's sitting on top of a volcano,” the Doctor laughed.
The Jagrafess continued to snarl. “Yes, I'm trying, sir, but I don't know how she did it.” The Editor addressed the creature. “It's impossible, a member of staff with an idea.” He took Suki's seat while Rose tried to free the Doctor. She took the sonic screwdriver from his pocket.
“What do I do?”
“Flick the switch!” Lilith told her. Rose did so, and the manacles holding the Doctor and Lilith snapped open.
“Oi, mate, want to bank on a certainty?” the Doctor said with a manic smile. “Massive heat in a massive body, massive bang. See you in the headlines!”
They darted away. “You two get to the elevator, I’ll go grab Cathica.” Lilith said.
The Doctor nodded, grabbed Rose’s hand, and they parted ways. Lilith ran for the broadcast area as chunks of ice fell from the ceiling, the entire satellite shudders and the Jagrafess’s growl echoed through the rooms.
Lilith snapped her fingers and closed Cathica's portal. They ran past the platform just as the Jagrafess exploded. The two made it to the elevator just before the door closed. Lilith looked at Rose. “That,” she said, “was one of the grossest things I have ever seen."
Lilith could see the sun rising over the Earth through the windows as everyone was cleaning up on floor one three nine.
“We're just going to go,” the Doctor was saying to Cathica. “I hate tidying up. Too many questions. You'll manage.”
“You'll have to stay and explain it.” Cathica insisted. “No one's going to believe me.”
“Oh, they might start believing a lot of things now. The human race should accelerate. All back to normal.”
“What about your friend?” she asked, nodding towards Adam, who was waiting by the TARDIS.
“He's not my friend,” the Doctor said darkly.
“Now, don't—” Rose tried. Lilith could almost hear the rest of the sentence. –Do anything you regret.
Wait, did she hear it? Lilith shook the thought out of her head and followed her uncle to the TARDIS.
“I'm all right now. Much better. And I've got the key,” the human said, failing to wear a look of innocence. “Look, it's. It all worked out for the best, didn't it? You know, it's not actually my fault, because you were in charge.”
The Doctor pushed Adam into the TARDIS and marched over to the console, immediately bringing the old girl into the Vortex. Adam stood paralyzed under Lilith’s death glare. When the ship landed, the Doctor shoved the boy out the doors.
“It's my house. I'm home!” he cried. “Oh, my God, I'm home! Blimey. I thought you were going to chuck me out of an airlock.”
“Oh, believe me, he wanted to.” Lilith said darkly.
“Is there something else you want to tell me?” the Doctor questioned with a cold look.
Adam shifted, uncomfortably. “No. What do you mean?”
The Doctor picked up the answering machine. “The archive of Satellite Five. One second of that message could've changed the world.” He soniced the phone; it exploded. “That's it, then. See ya.”
“How do you mean, see you?” Adam asked.
“As in goodbye.”
“But what about me? You can't just go. I've got my head. I've got a chip type two. My head opens.”
“What, like this?” The Doctor snapped and the door in Adam’s head opened.
“Don't.” Adam closed it.
“Don't do what?”
Lilith snapped her fingers with a cruel smile.
“All right now, Doctor, Lilith, that's enough. Stop it.” Rose said.
Adam looked at her. “Thank you.”
She snapped her fingers.
“Sorry,” she giggled. “I couldn't resist.”
Adam closed it again.
“The whole of history could have changed because of you,” the Doctor said.
“I just wanted to help.” Adam protested.
“You were helping yourself.” Lilith said snippily.
“And I'm sorry. I've said I'm sorry, and I am, I really am, but you can't just leave me like this.”
“Yes I can. 'Cause if you show that head to anyone, they'll dissect you in seconds. You'll have to live a very quiet life. Keep out of trouble,” the Doctor warned him. “Be average, unseen. Good luck.”
“But I want to come with you.”
“We only take the best. We've got Rose.”
They heard the front door open. Lilith raised her eyebrows. “Sounds like someone’s home."
Adam panicked. “Oh my God. It's me, mum! Don't come in! Wait there a minute!
Lilith went into the ship and helped the Doctor start the dematerialization sequence just as Rose came in. “Sorry your pet human didn’t work out,” she said to Rose.
Rose rolled her eyes. “I’d rather have a goldfish.”
Lilith laughed and wrapped her arm around Rose’s shoulders. “Were to next, Tyler?”
“Anywhere. Let’s go anywhere.”