Rose ran into the TARDIS with a grin on her face, one that Lilith returned. “Glad to have you with us, girl.”
“Right then, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said, “you tell me. Where do you want to go?”
“Backwards or forwards in time.” Lilith added, spinning around the console. “It's your choice. What's it going to be?”
“Forwards.” Rose decided.
“One hundred years.”
Lilith laughed. “Oh, come on Tyler, you can do better than that.”
“She’s right, 22nd century London isn’t all that different. It’s a bit boring. Do you want to go further?”
“Fine by me.” Rose said with a grin.
‘New Rome?’ The Doctor suggested telepathically. Lilith spun a wheel and flipped a few levers while the Doctor pumped what looked suspiciously like a bicycle pump and twisted a couple knobs. The TARDIS began to shake and the three travelers were forced to grab onto the edge of the console.
“Ten thousand years in the future. Step outside; it's the year 12,005, the New Roman Empire.”
“You think you're so impressive.” Rose teased.
“I am so impressive!” the Doctor said, defensively.
“You wish.” Lilith snorted.
“Right then, you asked for it. I know exactly where to go.” He shoved Lilith out of the way and went about setting the coordinates. “Hold on!”
The TARDIS shook and Rose clung to the console like her life depended on it. Lilith, on the other hand, was lit up like she was having the time of her lives. “YES!” she shouted. “Oh, but I’ve missed this!”
“Where are we?” Rose asked once the TARDIS had landed. The Doctor gestured to the door. “What's out there?”
He gestured again. Lilith lightly shoved Rose. “Go. Take a look.”
She doesn’t hesitate before walking out of the TARDIS and out onto what Lilith faintly recalled to be called Platform One. Lilith and the Doctor followed her out silently, letting their companion take in her surroundings.
Rose went down a flight of steps and a large shutter in the wall descended to reveal an orbital view of Earth.
The Doctor approached her. “You lot, you spend all your time thinking about dying, like you're going to get killed by eggs or beef or global warming or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible, that maybe you survive. This is the year 5.5/apple/26. Five billion years in your future, and this is the day,” He looked at his watch, “hold on.” The sun flared and turned red. “This is the day the sun expands.”
Lilith took her place at Rose’s other side. “Welcome to the end of the world.”
“ Shuttles five and six now docking. Guests are reminded that Platform One forbids the use of weapons, teleportation and religion. Earth Death is scheduled for 15:39, followed by drinks in the Manchester Suite, ” a computerized voice announced over a loud speaker.
The Doctor, Lilith, and Rose walked along a corridor. “So, when it says guests, does that mean people?” Rose asked.
“Depends what you mean by people.” Lilith answered.
Rose frowned “I mean people. What do you mean?”
“What are they doing on board this spaceship? What's it all for?”
“It's not really a spaceship,” the Doctor said. “More like an observation deck. The great and the good are gathering to watch the planet burn.” He used his sonic screwdriver on a wall panel.
Lilith shrugged. “Fun.” On the other side of the door was a large area with a few display cases and a view of space to the front and above. “Mind you, when he says ‘the great and the good’, what he means is, ‘the rich’.”
“But, hold on,” Rose said, “they did this once on Newsround Extra. The sun expanding, that takes hundreds of years.”
“Millions,” the Doctor corrected. “But the planet's now property of the National Trust. They've been keeping it preserved. See down there?” He pointed out the window.
“Gravity satellites holding back the sun.”
“The planet looks the same as ever. I thought the continents shifted and things.”
“They did,” Lilith said. “Then the Trust shifted them back. That's a classic Earth. But now the money's run out, nature takes over.”
“How long's it got?” Rose asked.
The Doctor checked his watch again. “About half an hour and then the planet gets roasted.”
“Is that why we're here? I mean, is that what you do? Jump in at the last minute and save the Earth?”
“I’m not saving it,” he said, leaning towards her. “Time's up.”
“But what about the people?”
“It's empty. They're all gone. No one left.” Lilith assured Rose.
Rose didn’t take it like she expected. “Just me, then.”
A blue-skinned person with golden slit eyes strode towards them. Probably the steward, Lilith noted. “Who the hell are you?” he demanded.
“Oh, that's nice, thanks,” the Doctor said, sarcastically.
“But how did you get in? This is a maximum hospitality zone. The guests have disembarked. They're on their way any second now.”
“That's us. We’re guests. Look, I've got an invitation.” He pulled the psychic paper out of his pocket. “Look. There, you see? It's fine, you see? The Doctor and Lilithanadir Smith plus one. I'm the Doctor, this is Lilithanadir Smith, and she’s Rose Tyler. She's our plus one. Is that all right?”
The steward took a moment to regain his composure. “Well, obviously. Apologies, et cetera. If you're on board, we'd better start. Enjoy.” He went over to a podium.
“The paper's slightly psychic,” the Doctor explained for Rose. “It shows them whatever I want them to see. Saves a lot of time.”
“Handy little trinket.” Lilith added. “Great for party crashing.”
“He's blue.” Rose said to her friend.
“Yep,” she responded. “You should see Mandalorians. They’re orange.”
Rose nodded, numbly. “Okay.”
“We have in attendance the Doctor, Lilithanadir Smith and Rose Tyler. Thank you. All staff to their positions,” The steward announced. A bunch of small, blue people appeared. “Hurry, now, thank you. Quick as we can, come along, come along. And now, might I introduce the next honored guest; representing the Forest of Cheem, we have trees, namely, Jabe, Lute and Coffa.”
A bark-skinned woman entered with two larger male escorts. A memory of Lilith’s slipped through of something her mother had said about a tree called Jabe.
“There will be an exchange of gifts representing peace. If you could keep the room circulating, thank you. Next,” the Steward continued, “from the solicitors Jolco and Jolco, we have the Moxx of Balhoon.”
Another blue alien entered the room. Mostly head and body, he was sitting on a sort of transport pod.
“Watch out for that one,” Lilith whispered to Rose. “He spits.”
“And next, from Financial Family Seven, we have the Adherents of the Repeated Meme.”
“The Gift of Peace.” Jabe said, approaching the trio with her two escorts. “I bring you a cutting of my Grandfather.” She gave the Doctor a rooted twig in a small pot.
“Thank you,” the Doctor said sincerely, handing the twig to Rose. “Yes, gifts. Er, I give you in return…” He patted his pockets, frantically.
“A cutting of his niece.” Lilith interrupted. She handed Jab a few strands of her own hair.
“How… kind of you.” Jabe said, cautiously. She moved on.
“A cutting of yourself?” the Doctor asked Lilith, she shrugged.
“Why not? What else do we have to give her? Air from our lungs?”
Rose chuckled. “Nutters, you two are.”
The steward wasn’t done introducing the guests. “From the Silver Devastation, the sponsor of the main event, please welcome the Face of Boe.” A large glass case barely made it through the doorway. It contained a giant humanoid head with straggly hair and squinting eyes. Lilith made a choking sound.
“Friend of yours?” Rose asked.
Lilith bit her lip. “Oh, the Face and I go way back.”
“The Moxx of Balhoon,” the Doctor greeted as said alien approached.
“My felicitations on this historical happenstance,” the Moxx said. “I give you the gift of bodily salvias.” He spat and the saliva hit the Doctor in the face. Lilith and Rose snickered.
“Thank you very much,” the Doctor said, wiping the spit off his cheek. The black-robed group glided up. “Ah! The Adherents of the Repeated Meme. I bring you cuttings from my companions.” He pulled strands of hair out of the two girls heads.
One of the figures extended a large metal hand held out a metal ball. “A gift of peace in all good faith,” it said.
“And last but not least, our very special guest. Ladies and gentlemen, and trees and multiforms, consider the Earth below. In memory of this dying world, we call forth the last Human. The Lady Cassandra O'Brien.Delta17,” the steward finished.
Two men hidden in top-to-toe hospital whites wheeled in a face in a piece of thin skin stretched in a rectangular frame. “Oh, now, don't stare. I know, I know it's shocking, isn't it? I've had my chin completely taken away and look at the difference. Look how thin I am. Thin and dainty. I don't look a day over two thousand. Moisturize me. Moisturize me.” One of her attendants used a pump spray on the skin. Lilith snorted, Rose looked appalled, and the Doctor looked as though he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
“Truly, I am the last Human. My father was a Texan; my mother was from the Arctic Desert. They were born on the Earth and were the last to be buried in its soil. I have come to honor them and say goodbye.” As Cassandra spoke, Rose slowly walked around her, getting a view from all angles. (“Humans,” the Doctor sighed.) “Oh, no tears, no tears. I'm sorry. But behold, I bring gifts. From Earth itself, the last remaining ostrich egg.” A man brought in an ostrich egg. “Legend says it had a wingspan of fifty feet and blew fire from its nostrils.”
Lilith fought back her laughter. “Really?” she whispered.
Rose, by then, had walked around the back of Cassandra to see just how thin she was, and a 50's juke box was wheeled in.
“And here, another rarity.” Cassandra continued. “According to the archives, this was called an iPod. It stores classical music from humanity's greatest composers. Play on!”
One of the little attendants pressed a button, a 45 was selected and the strains of Tainted Love by Soft Cell ran out. Lilith couldn’t contain her laughter any longer.
“Refreshments will now be served. Earth Death in thirty minutes,” the steward said.
Rose, overwhelmed by the all of the aliens, ran out of the room. The Doctor went to follow her, but got intercepted by Jabe. “Doctor?” The device she was holding flashed. “Thank you.”
Lilith made to follow her uncle, but was distracted by the sight of the Face of Boe. She couldn’t help herself; she went over to him.‘Hello,’ she said telepathically.
‘Hello, Lilithanadir,’ the Face greeted. ‘It has been too long.’
‘For you, maybe, I saw you a few years ago. Right before I left.’ Lilith trailed off.
The Face of Boe looked at her with understanding. ‘The path ahead of you will not be easy, my girl.’
‘I know, it’s just… odd, you know? She barely knows me and I know her so well.’
‘I do not even get to talk to her. I miss Rose.’ He mentally sighed. ‘But tell me, my girl, how are you traveling with them without tangling timelines?’
Lilith bit the inside of her cheek. ‘I hid my memories of all the stories they told me about their adventures. I don’t remember until the events come to pass. Everything is new for me.’
‘Clever,’ the Face of Boe complimented.
‘Why, thank you.’ Lilith thought with a grin. ‘I should probably go. God knows what trouble the two of them have gotten into by now.’
‘Farewell, my Lilithanadir.’
‘Bye, Uncle Jack.’
The little assistants were wheeling the TARDIS away. “Oi, now, careful with that,” the Doctor yelled. “Park it properly. No scratches.” One of them handed the Doctor a ticket. It said on one side, ‘Have A Nice Day’.
“You got the TARDIS toed?” Lilith said, shaking her head as she joined the Doctor. “For shame, Uncle.”
“Rose?” the Doctor called through the door. “Are you in there?” He and Lilith joined Rose in the observation room. “Aye, aye. What do you think, then?” he asked, sitting across the ramp from her. Lilith plopped herself next to Rose.
“Great. Yeah, fine.” Rose said. “Once you get past the slightly psychic paper. They're just so alien. The aliens are so alien. You look at 'em and they're alien.”
“Good thing I didn't take you to the Deep South,” the Doctor said.
“Where are you from?” Rose asked after a moment.
“Uh oh.” Lilith muttered to herself.
The Doctor looked away. “All over the place,” he said, dismissively.
“They all speak English.” Rose pointed out.
“No, you just hear English.” The Doctor leaned back on his arm. “It's a gift of the TARDIS. Telepathic field, gets inside your brain and translates.”
Lilith groaned at her uncle’s stupidity.
“It's inside my brain?”
He shrugged. “Well, in a good way.”
“Your machine gets inside my head. It gets inside and it changes my mind, and you didn't even ask?”
“It’s not like the TARDIS can change your thoughts around, Rose. She just makes it so you can understand alien languages.”
“Who are you, then, Doctor?” Rose asked, ignoring Lilith’s assurances. “What are you called? What sort of alien are you?”
Lilith made a face. “Here we go.”
“I'm just the Doctor,” he responded, shortly.
“From what planet?”
“Well, it's not as if you'll know where it is!” He forced a laughed.
“Where are you from?” Rose demanded.
“What does it matter?” the Doctor shot back.
“Tell me who you are!”
The Doctor's eye flashed. “This is who I am, right here, right now, all right? All that counts is here and now, and this is me.”
Rose opened her mouth to retort, but Lilith put a comforting hand on her shoulder. The Doctor got up, abruptly and walked over to the window.
“He doesn’t like to talk about home,” the young alien said quietly. “It’s a painful topic, for the both of us.”
Rose looked contrite as a computerized voiced announced, “Earth Death in twenty minutes. Earth Death in twenty minutes.” Lilith slid off the seat and went to comfort her uncle.
After a moment, Rose joined them. “All right. As my mate Shareen says, don't argue with the designated driver.” She took out her cell phone. “Can't exactly call for a taxi. There's no signal. We're out of range. Just a bit,” she joked, lightheartedly
“Tell you what,” the Doctor said, taking the phone apart. “With a little bit of jiggery pokery...”
Lilith chuckled and Rose smiled. “Is that a technical term, jiggery pokery?”
“Yeah, I came first in jiggery pokery. What about you?”
“No, I failed hullabaloo.”
He handed it back to her. “There you go.”
Rose pressed the call button and wandered away. “Mum?”
Lilith slipped her hand into the Doctor’s and squeezed it. “You okay?”
“Don’t give me that deflecting crap, Uncle Theta.” The Doctor flinched at the name. “I know talking about… what happened doesn’t bring up the happiest memories, but try not to blow up at our companion. Humans find it a bit off-putting, you know.”
The Doctor made a face at his niece.
“No. I'm fine.” Rose told her mum. “Top of the world.”
Jackie said something on the other end, then hung up.
“Think that's amazing, you want to see the bill,” the Doctor said.
“That was five billion years ago.” Rose marveled, then sobered. “So, she's dead now. Five billion years later, my mum's dead.”
“You really are a bundle of laughs, Tyler.” Lilith snorted.
Suddenly, the entire platform shook. The Doctor looked at Lilith with a smile on his face, one she returned.
“That's not supposed to happen.”