The Doctor looked at Lilith with a smile on his face, one she returned.
“That's not supposed to happen,” he said.
“Observation gallery?” Lilith suggested.
The three of them returned to the main observation gallery, the steward’s voice came over the loud speaker. “Honored guests may be reassured that gravity pockets may cause slight turbulence, thanking you.”
They entered the room just in time for Lilith to catch a bit of what the Moxx of Balhoon was saying. “Indubitably, this is the Bad Wolf scenario. I find the inherent laxity of the on-going multiverse—” Bad Wolf.
“That wasn't a gravity pocket. I know gravity pockets and they don't feel like that. What do you think, Jabe?” the Doctor asked as the tree joined them “Listen to the engines. They've pitched up about thirty Hertz. That dodgy or what?”
Jabe shrugged. “It's the sound of metal. It doesn't make any sense to me.”
“Do you know where the engine room is?” Lilith asked
“I don't know,” Jabe answered, turning to the Doctor, “but the maintenance duct is just behind our guest suite, I could show you, your , and friend.
“She's not my wife,” the Doctor immediately said. Lilith struggled to keep silent. If only they knew.
“Prostitute?” she suggested after a moment of thought. Lilith had to bite her tongue to keep from cracking up. Rose shot her a dirty look.
“Whatever I am, it must be invisible. Do you mind?” Rose snapped. “Tell you what, you two go and pollinate. I'm going to catch up with family. Quick word with Michael Jackson.” She started to walk away.
“Don't start a fight,” the Doctor told her. Lilith linked her arm through his and he offered Jabe his other arm. “We’re all yours.”
“And I want you two home by midnight.” Rose called after them.
“Earth Death in fifteen minutes. Earth Death in fifteen minutes,” the computerized voice announced.
“Who's in charge of Platform One?” the Doctor inquired. “Is there a Captain or what?”
“There’s just the steward and the staff. All the rest is controlled by the metal mind.” Jabe said.
“You mean the computer? But who controls that?”
“The Corporation. They move Platform One from one artistic event to another.”
The Doctor frowned. “But there's no one from the Corporation on board.”
“They're not needed. This facility is purely automatic,” the tree explained. “It's the height of the Alpha class. Nothing can go wrong.”
“Unsinkable?” the Doctor looked at Lilith.
“If you like. The nautical metaphor is appropriate.”
“You're telling me. I was on board another ship once. They said that was unsinkable.”
“He got a life boat,” Lilith said, “I ended up clinging to an iceberg.”
The Doctor got back to the point. “So, what you're saying is, if we get in trouble there's no one to help us out?”
“I'm afraid not.”
He grinned at his niece. “Fantastic.”
“I don't understand. In what way is that fantastic?” Jabe frowned.
“So tell me, Jabe,” Lilith said conversationally, “what's a tree like you doing in a place like this?”
“Respect for the Earth,” she responded.
“Oh, come on. Everyone on this platform's worth zillions.”
“Well, perhaps it's a case of having to be seen at the right occasions.”
Lilith laughed. “In case your share prices drop? I know your kind. You've got massive forests everywhere, roots everywhere, and there's always money in land.
Jabe looked a bit miffed. “All the same, we respect the Earth as family. So many species evolved from that planet. Mankind is only one. I'm another. My ancestors were transplanted from the planet down below, and I'm a direct descendant of the tropical rainforest.”
Lilith raised her eyebrows. “Impressive.”
The Doctor scanned a door panel marked ‘Welcome to Platform One. Guide of Platform One Do You Need Assistance’. A keypad labeled ‘Maintenance log in’, then ‘Access denied’.
“And what about your ancestry, Doctor?” Jabe asked. “Perhaps you could tell a story or two. Perhaps a man only enjoys trouble when there's nothing else left.” She paused. “I scanned you earlier. The metal machine had trouble identifying your species. It refused to admit your existence. And even when it named you, I wouldn't believe it. But it was right. I know where you're from. Forgive me for intruding, but it's remarkable that you even exist. I just wanted to say how sorry I am.”
The Doctor looked away. Lilith put her hand on his arm, and the Doctor put his hand over hers. She sent him a wave of comfort. He got the door open.
They found themselves by a catwalk that ran through a series of large fans.
“Is it me or is it a bit nippy?” the Doctor said. “Fair do's, though, that's a great bit of air conditioning. Sort of nice and old fashioned. Bet they call it retro.” He scanned a panel. “Gotcha.”
He pulled it off. A mechanical spider scuttles out and up the wall. “What the hell's that?” Lilith gasped.
“Is it part of the ‘retro’?” Jabe asked.
“I don't think so. Hold on.” The Doctor aimed his screwdriver at the spider, and then Jabe lassoed it.
“Hey, nice liana.”
Jabe smiled. “Thank you. We're not supposed to show them in public.”
Lilith elbowed her, playfully. “Don't worry, we won't tell anybody. So, who's been bringing their pets on board?”
“What does it do?” Jabe wondered.
“Sabotage,” the Doctor said.
“Earth Death in ten minutes. Earth Death in ten minutes,” the computerized voice announced.
“And the temperature's about to rocket. Come on.”
The trio raced back through the maintenance tunnel. Back in the halls, they found smoke from a room is filling the corridor and a glare is coming through a small glass panel in the door. The little assistants had gathered around.
“Hold on. Get back,” the Doctor said. He pointed the sonic at a panel and the tool buzzed.
“Sun filter rising. Sun filter rising,” the computer said.
“Is the steward in there?” Jabe exclaimed.
Lilith wrinkled her nose. “You can smell him.”
“Hold on, there's another sun filter programmed to descend.” The Doctor ran off. Lilith followed him at top speed, a knot in her stomach. She had a feeling which filter it was.
The Doctor came to a stop outside another door and started sonicing the computer panel. “Anyone in there?” he called out.
“Let me out!” Rose yelled from the other side of the door.
“Oh, well, it would be you,” the Time Lord muttered.
Lilith smacked him on the arm. “Open the door!”
“Hold on, Rose!” the Doctor shouted. “Give us two ticks.”
The panel beeped. “Sun filter rising. Sun filter rising.” Then, after a moment, it changed its computerized mind. “Sun filter descending.”
“Just what we need. The computer's getting clever.”
“Stop mucking about!” Rose yelled.
“I’m not mucking about. It's fighting back.”
“Open the door!”
“Working on it, Tyler!” Lilith shouted.
She could sense Rose’s panic. “The lock's melted!”
“Sun filter descending. Sun filter descending.” The Doctor shoved the sonic into the wiring. “Sun filter rising. Sun filter rising.”
“The whole thing's jammed. I can't open the doors. Stay there! Don't move!” he said.
Lilith could see Rose rolling her eyes. “Where are am I going to go, Ipswich?”
“Earth Death in five minutes,” came the announcement.
“The metal machine confirms.” Jabe announced to the aliens in the observation gallery. “The spider devices have infiltrated the whole of Platform One.”
“How's that possible?” Cassandra demanded. “Our private rooms are protected by a code wall. Moisturize me, moisturize me.”
“Summon the steward!” the Moxx of Balhoon suggested.
“The steward is dead.” Lilith said.
Murmurs flew through the room. “Who killed him?”
“This whole event was sponsored by the Face of Boe. He invited us. Talk to the Face. Talk to the Face,” the trampoline woman accused.
The Face of Bow made an audible sound of protest. Lilith growled quietly and the Doctor shot her an odd look.
“Easy way of finding out,” he said. “Someone bought their little pet on board. Let's send him back to master.” The Doctor put down the spider that Jabe was scanning, and it scuttled off toward Cassandra before going to the black robed group.
“The Adherents of the Repeated Meme. J'accuse!” Cassandra said.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “That's all very well, and really kind of obvious, but if you stop and think about it,” he went over to the Adherents. Their leader tried to hit him, so he pulled of its arm. “A Repeated Meme is just an idea. And that's all they are, an idea.”
He pulled one of the wires dangling from the arm, and the Adherents all collapsed. “Remote controlled Droids. Nice little cover for the real troublemaker. Go on, Jimbo,” He nudged the spider with his foot, “go home.”
It returned to Cassandra. “I bet you were the school swot and never got kissed.” Lilith tried very hard not to snicker at that. “At arms!”
Cassandra’s attendants raised their spray guns.
“What are you going to do, moisturize me?” the Doctor asked, sarcastically.
“With acid. Oh, you're too late, anyway. My spiders have control of the mainframe. Oh, you all carried them as gifts; tax free, past every code wall. I'm not just as pretty face.”
Lilith laughed sharply. “You’re not even that. Sabotaging a ship while you're still inside it? How stupid's that?”
“I'd hoped to manufacture a hostage situation with myself as one of the victims. The compensation would have been enormous.” Cassandra explained.
“Five billion years and it still comes down to money,” the Doctor said, disapprovingly.
“Do you think it's cheap, looking like this? Flatness costs a fortune. I am the last human, Doctor. Me. Not that freaky little kid of yours.” Cassandra hissed.
“Arrest her, the infidel!” cried the Moxx of Balhoon.
“Oh, shut it, pixie. I've still got my final option.”
“Earth Death in three minutes,” announced the computer.
“And here it comes. You're just as useful dead, all of you. I have shares in your rival companies and they'll triple in price as soon as you're dead.” Cassandra said. “My spiders are primed and ready to destroy the safety systems. How did that old Earth song go? Burn, baby, burn.
“Then you'll burn with us.” Jabe retorted.
Cassandra rolled her eyes and sarcastically said, “Oh, I'm so sorry. I know the use of teleportation is strictly forbidden, but I'm such a naughty thing. Spiders activate.”
There was a series of explosions throughout the Platform. “Force fields gone with the planet about to explode. At least it'll be quick. Just like my fifth husband. Oh, shame on me.” The trampoline chuckled. “Bye, bye, darlings. Bye, bye, my darlings.” Cassandra and her attendants teleported away.
“Heat levels rising,” the computerized voice said.
“Reset the computer!” the Moxx of Balhoon panicked.
“Only the Steward would know how.” Jabe said.
Lilith stepped up. “No. I bet we can do it by hand.”
The Doctor nodded. “Lilith is right. There must be a system restore switch. Jabe, come on. You lot, just chill.”
They sprinted back towards the maintenance duct. Lilith looked at Jabe. “How do you run in that dress?”
“That’s what you’re focusing on now?” the Doctor asked, incredulously.
“It’s a legitimate question.” Lilith defended.
When they reached the ventilation chamber, the computer was saying, “Earth Death in two minutes. Earth Death in two minutes. Heat levels critical.”
“Oh. And guess where the switch is.” It was on the other side of the turning razor sharp fans.
“Heat levels rising. Heat levels rising.” The Doctor pulled a breaker lever and the fans slowed a little, but it reset as soon as he let go of it. “External temperature five thousand degrees.”
“Thanks for that.” Lilith muttered. Jabe pulled the breaker and held it down.
“You can't,” the Doctor protested. “The heat's going to vent through this place.”
Lilith took the lever. “I got this, Jabe. Just get the hell out of here, Jabe, you're made of wood.” Hesitantly and against her will, Jabe rushed off. Lilith turned to face her uncle. “Now stop wasting time, Time Lord.”
“Heat levels rising. Heat levels hazardous.”
Back in Gallery 15, the windows began to crack.
“Shields malfunction. Shields malfunction. Shields malfunction,” the computer said.
Random rays of deadly light lanced into the room.
Come on, Lil, Doctor. Please help me. Rose thought.
“Heat levels critical. Heat levels critical,” announced the computer.
Come on, Lil, Doctor. Please help me, the Doctor heard in his mind. He looked back at Lilith, confused, and then timed his run past the second fan.
“Heat levels rising. Heat levels rising.”
“Hurry, Uncle!” Lilith yelled. “The lever is pushing back up!”
The computer did nothing to ease the tension. “Planet explodes in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,” The Doctor rushed past the last fan, “four, three,"
He dashed for the reset breaker. “Raise shields!” he yelled and pulled.
Lilith felt the tremor of the station as the shields were reset and the tremor of the timelines as the fixed point of the earth’s death slotted into place. She grinned as the Doctor put his arm around her. “Let’s not do that again, yeah?”
Rose and Lilith entered the observation gallery. Lilith saw the little blue people were gathered around the Moxx of Balhoon’s transport pod. The glare must have fried him, Lilith thought.
The Doctor came into the gallery and goes over to the trees to check on Jabe. When he went over to the two girls, Rose hugged him. He looked surprised at first, but hugged her back. Lilith couldn’t hide her grin, which confused the Time Lord.
“You all right?” Rose asked.
The Doctor gave her a tight smile. “Yeah, I'm fine. I'm full of ideas; I'm bristling with them. Idea number one, teleportation through five thousand degrees needs some kind of feed. Idea number two, this feed must be hidden nearby.” He smashed open the alleged ostrich egg to reveal a small device. “Idea number three, if you're as clever as me, then a teleportation feed can be reversed.” He twisted something on the device.
A disembodied voice spoke. “Oh, you should have seen their little alien faces. Cassandra faded into existence. “Oh.”
“The last human,” the Doctor said with a glare.
“So, you passed my little test. Bravo. This makes you eligible to join, the, er,” the skin struggled for words, “the Human Club.”
Lilith rolled her eyes. “If you’re human, that’s the last thing anyone would want to be. People have died, Cassandra. You murdered them.”
“It depends on your definition of ‘people’, and that's enough of a technicality to keep your lawyers dizzy for centuries.” Cassandra said smugly. "Take me to court, then, Doctor, and watch me smile and cry and flutter.” Creak.
“Creak,” he repeated. “You're creaking.”
“What? Ah! I'm drying out!” Cassandra panicked. “Oh, sweet heavens. Moisturize me, moisturize me! Where are my surgeons? My lovely boys! It's too hot!”
“You raised the temperature,” the Doctor deadpanned.
Cassandra continued to beg. “Have pity! Moisturize me! Oh, oh, Doctor. I'm sorry. I'll do anything.”
“Help her.” Rose said quietly.
“Everything has its time and everything dies.”
“There’s nothing we can do.”
The only word that could describe the following sound is ‘splat’. Cassandra ripped onto pieces that flew across the room. Lilith gagged as she flicked off a piece that had landed on the Doctor, who was expressionless. He walked off, leaving Lilith and Rose behind.
“Is he okay?” Rose asked.
Lilith shrugged. “These people were killed for no real reason. He may be gruff but he cares about these kinds of things, deeply. Besides, Rose, you nearly died.”
“Don’t remind me,” the human groaned.
Lilith shot her a slight smile. “Come on, let’s go back to the TARDIS. There’s some ice cream left that calling our names.”
“You go on head. I need a… human moment.”
She nodded, understanding, and passed the Doctor on her way out of the gallery. She stopped to listen in on their conversation.
“The end of the Earth.” Rose was saying. “It's gone. We were too busy saving ourselves, no one saw it go. All those years, all that history, and no one was even looking. It’s just…” she trailed off.
The Doctor held out his hand and she took it. “Come with me,” he said.
Lilith sat in the console room eating her peanut butter ice cream, memories to the stories her mother had told her about the conversation that was taking place between her two companions out on the streets of London returning to their proper place.
“You think it'll last forever, people and cars and concrete, but it won't. One day it's all gone. Even the sky. My planet's gone. It's dead. It burned like the Earth. It's just rocks and dust before it's time.”
“There was a war and we lost.”
“A war with who? What about your people?”
“I'm a Time Lord, one of the two remaining. They're all gone. Lilith and I, we’re the only survivors; left travelling on our own ‘cause there's no one else.”
He would tell her that traveling with them was dangerous and ask if she wanted to go home.
She’d shake her head, then get distracted by the smell of chips.
He’d laugh and agree to go get some with her.
He wouldn’t be able to pay.
Her mother always joked about that, about the adventure on Platform One as ‘the first date’. Lilith supposed it was. She had watched her uncle start to fall for an ordinary human girl and the ordinary girl start to fall for the last of the Time Lords.
One thing was for certain; everything was turning out fantastic.