The TARDIS shook violently as it flew through the air, landing with a rough jolt. The Doctor stumbled towards the door. “Here we are then, London. Earth. The Solar System. We did it.”
“And you’re sure that’s the Doctor?” Rose asked Lilith with her eyebrows raised.
Lilith sighed. “Sadly. Last time he regenerated, all he got was a freaking fever. Not this.”
They came out of the TARDIS to find the Doctor unconscious on the ground.
“What happened? Is he all right?” Rose panicked.
“I don't know; he just keeled over.” Mickey said. “But who is he? Where's the Doctor?”
“That's him, right in front of you. That's the Doctor.” Lilith said.
Jackie looked up at them. “What do you mean, that's the Doctor? Doctor who?”
The four of them took the Doctor up to the Tyler apartment where Lilith and Rose dressed him in pajamas and laid him on a bed.
Jackie came in with a stethoscope. “Here we go. Tina the cleaner's got this lodger, a medical student, and she was fast asleep, so I just took it. Though I still say we should take him to hospital.”
“We can't.” Lilith said, taking the stethoscope. “He’s alien, remember? They'd lock him up and dissect him. One bottle of his blood could change the future of the human race.” She listened to both sides of the Doctor's chest and sighed in relief. “Both working.”
Jackie frowned. “What do you mean ‘both’?”
“Well, he's got two hearts.” Rose explained.
“Oh, don't be stupid,” she said dismissively.
“Anything else he's got two of?” Jackie asked, eyeing the Time Lord.
Lilith snorted. “Because Rose would know.”
“Leave him alone.” Rose said, blushing.
Rose and Jackie left. Lilith looked down at the man she had called her father for fifty years. “I know you said it was a fixed point.” She sighed. “But look what you’ve gotten yourself into. I wish I knew how to fix this. I’m sorry, Dad.”
The Doctor just exhaled some more Artron energy.
Rose poked her head in. “Lil, come check this out. It’s Harriet Jones.” They went into the living room where Harriet Jones was on the TV.
“She's Prime Minister now.” Jackie said. “I'm eighteen quid a week better off. They're calling it Britain's Golden Age. I keep on saying my Rose has met her.”
“Did more than that. Stopped World War Three with her. Harriet Jones.”
Lilith’s smile faltered as her father’s yet to be spoken words filtered into her mind. Don’t you think she looks tired?
“Prime Minister, what about those calling the Guinevere One Space Probe a waste of money?” asked a reporter on TV.
“Now, that's where you're wrong. I completely disagree if you don't mind. The Guinevere One Space Probe represents this country's limitless ambition. British workmanship sailing up there among the stars.”
Lilith found it hard to listen as they walked about the space probe. She may not remember what was about to happen, but she knew that it was going to be nothing good. Especially with the Doctor out cold in a healing coma.
“I’m going to head down back to the TARDIS. The landing must’ve been rough on her,” the Time Lady said. Sticking her hands in the pockets of her denim jacket, she wandered back to the Time Ship. “Hello,” she greeted the TARDIS.
‘Hello, Dear One.’ The TARDIS responded telepathically.
Lilith smiled and laid down on the jump seat. Just a quick nap.
She woke to the sound of her phone ringing. “’Lo?” she yawned.
“Lilith?” Rose said on the other end of the line, sounding panicked. “Mickey and I were attacked. Meet us back at the flat, okay?”
Lilith jumped up. “See you there,” she said, ending the call. She sprinted out of the TARDIS, into the building, and up the stairs, running into Mickey and Rose just outside the door to the Tyler’s apartment.
Rose threw the door open. “Get off the phone!” she ordered her mother.
“It's only Bev. She says hello.” Jackie said, hands on her hips
Rose took the phone from her. “Bev? Yeah. Look, it'll have to wait.” She hung up. “Right, it's not safe. We've got to get out. Where can we go?”
“My mate Stan,” Mickey suggested. “He'll put us up.”
“That's only two streets away. What about Mo? Where's she living now?” Rose asked Jackie.
Jackie shrugged. “I don't know. Peak District.”
“Well, we'll go to cousin Mo's then.”
“No, it's Christmas Eve!” Jackie protested. “We're not going anywhere! What're you babbling about?”
“Uh, Jackie? Where'd you get that tree?” Lilith asked. The Christmas tree, which was previously white, was taller and green. “That's a new tree. Where'd you get it?”
“I thought it was Rose.”
Rose frowned. “How can it be me?”
“Well, you went shopping. There was a ring at the door, and there it was!” Jackie said.
“No, that wasn't me.”
“Then who was it?” the elder blond wondered.
The tree lit up by itself and started playing Jingle Bells.
“Oh, you're kidding me.” Rose sighed.
Sections of the tree stared to rotate in different directions, creating a strong wind. It began to move, chopping through a coffee table. Not the one Rose and the Doctor had smashed the previous year, Lilith noted. Mickey picked up a chair to fend it off as Jackie, Rose, and Lilith ran for the door.
“We've got to save the Doctor!” Rose yelled.
“What're you doing?” Jackie demanded.
“We can't just leave him!”
“Mickey Leave it! Get out! Get out!”
“Micks!” Lilith yelled. “Get out of there!”
Mickey dropped the chair and ran into the bedroom where Rose and Lilith were. The Doctor was still laying in the bed, unresponsive to the commotion around him.
“Get in here!” Mickey shouted to Jackie.
Jackie did as the tree headed for them. She and Mickey pulled a wardrobe across the door.
“Doctor, wake up!” Rose begged.
Lilith got the sonic screwdriver from the jacket pocket and put it in the Doctor's hand just as the tree smashed through the door. She backed away.
“I'm going to get killed by a Christmas tree!” Jackie shrieked.
Rose whispers into the Doctor's ear. “Help me.”
He suddenly sat bolt upright and aimed the screwdriver at the tree. It exploded. “Remote control,” the Doctor mused. “But who's controlling it?” He got out of bed slipped on some slippers and grabbed a robe, heading outside. Down on the ground, three Santas gazed up, one holding a radio controller.
“That's them.” Mickey said. “What are they?”
Rose and Lilith shushed him.
The Doctor pointed the screwdriver at them and the Santas backed away. They beamed away in bolts of blue light.
“They've just gone.” Mickey scoffed. “What kind of rubbish were they? I mean, no offence, but they're not much cop if a sonic screwdriver's going to scare them off.”
“Pilot fish,” the Doctor said.
“What?” Rose asked.
“They were just pilot fish.” He told them, and then collapsed against the wall in pain.
“Doctor!” Lilith exclaimed.
“You woke me up too soon. I'm still regenerating,” the Doctor panted. “I'm bursting with energy.” He exhaled the golden Artron energy. “You see? The pilot fish could smell it a million miles away. So they eliminate the defense, that's you lot, and they carry me off. They could run their batteries on me for a couple of— ow!” He curled up in pain.
Lilith pushed Rose and Jackie away. “Stay back, guys.”
“My head! I'm having a neuron implosion. I need…”
Lilith laid her forehead against his. ‘Calm down. Just tell me what to do and I’ll take care of it.’
“We haven't got much time. If there's pilot fish, then…” he paused and pulled an apple out of the pocket. “Why's there an apple in my dressing gown?”
“Oh, that's Howard. Sorry.” Jackie apologized.
“He keeps apples in his dressing gown?” Lilith questioned.
“He gets hungry.”
“What, he gets hungry in his sleep?” the Doctor asked in disbelief.
He let out another shout of pain. “Brain collapsing. The pilot fish. The pilot fish mean that something, something…”
“Something’s coming.” Lilith guessed.
The Doctor nodded and passed out.
“Oh Rassilon, this is all my fault.” Lilith muttered.
The Doctor was back in bed, sweating and shivering this time. Rose was dabbing his head with a washcloth. “How is it your fault?”
“I could’ve taken his place. It should be me in that bed. Not him.”
“How do you deal with it?” Rose asked, putting the washcloth down. “People changing their faces like this.”
Lilith shrugged. “I guess you just get used to it. It’s part of who we are as Time Lords and Ladies.” She bit her lip. “I had to watch my dad regenerate once. He had held in all the energy to say goodbye to… to some friends so the change was really explosive. Nearly blew up our TARDIS.
“One second my dad is standing there with tears in his eyes, next thing I know there’s a new man in his place. All younger and floppy haired. The TARDIS is crashing and he’s hanging on to the edge of the ship for dear life yelling ‘Geronimo!’”
“Sounds like an interesting bloke, your dad.” Rose said.
Lilith chuckled. “Oh, you’d love him.”
They went into the living room again.
“Any change?” Jackie asked.
“He's worse,” Rose sighed. “Just one heart beating.”
The people on the TV were talking about the space probe, but none of the four were really listening.
“Here we go, pilot fish.” Mickey said. “Scavengers, like the Doctor said. Harmless. They're tiny. But the point is, the little fish swim alongside the big fish.”
“Do you mean like sharks?” Rose asked.
“Great big sharks.” Mickey confirmed. “So, what the Doctor means is, we had them, now we get that.” He showed a graphic of a shark attacking.
“Something is coming.” Lilith repeated. “How close?”
“There's no way of telling, but the pilot fish don't swim far from their daddy.”
“Funny sort of rocks.” Jackie said, now watching the TV.
Rose and Lilith joined her. “That's not rocks.”
It was a red-eyed ugly alien with a head like a goat's skull. It growled at the screen. They all jumped back. Lilith swore in Gallifreyan.
“Micks, can you hack into UNIT surveillance?” Lilith asked.
Mickey nodded and started working while Rose flipped through the channels, all reporting on the picture of the alien. “They're tracking a spaceship.” Mickey told them. “It's big, it's fast, and it's coming this way.”
“Great.” Lilith muttered.
“Coming for what, though?” Rose wondered. “The Doctor?”
“I don't know. Maybe it's coming for all of us.” He got a clear image of four of the aliens. “Have you seen them before?”
“No.” Rose shook her head.
“Sycorax.” Lilith growled. One of the aliens spoke in what Lilith assumed was their native language. “I don't understand what they're saying,” she said, frustrated. “The TARDIS translates alien languages I don’t know all the time, why isn’t she translating now?”
“I don't know. Must be the Doctor.” Rose said. “Like he's part of the circuit, and he's, he's broken.” She got up and wandered over to the bedroom. Mickey and Lilith followed.
“The old Doctor wouldn’t do this, would he?” Mickey said. “The proper Doctor, I mean. He wouldn’t sleep through a crisis.”
“He is the proper Doctor, Mickey.” Rose snapped. “But he’s sick. He’d be helping if he could, but he can’t.”
Lilith pushed past them and lay down next to the Doctor, where she stayed while the humans slept. “I’m sorry, Dad,” she whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
Lilith moved to the living room at some point during the night and that is where Rose and Mickey found her after finding out about all the people on the roof. Harriet Jones came on the TV.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if I may take a moment during this terrible time. It's hardly the Queen's speech. I'm afraid that's been cancelled. Did we ask about the royal family? Oh. They're on the roof. But, ladies and gentlemen, this crisis is unique, and I'm afraid to say, it might get much worse. I would ask you all to remain calm. But I have one request. Doctor, if you're out there, we need you. I don't know what to do. If you can hear me, Doctor. If anyone knows the Doctor, if anyone can find him, the situation has never been more desperate. Help us. Please, Doctor. Help us. God help us.”
Rose burst into tears.
“He's gone,” she sobbed. “The Doctor's gone. He's left me, mum. He's left me.”
“It's all right. I'm sorry.” Jackie soothed.
Suddenly, all the glass in the block of apartments shattered. “That’s it.” Lilith announced. “I’m going to do something about this.”
“What are you going to do?” Mickey asked.
“Code Nine is the Doctor, Lilith.” Rose said.
Lilith shook her head. “The first time the Slitheen attacked, the people at 10 Downing Street expected the Doctor and the Collector. And by the Collector, they meant me. I’m not sure what I did to get involved in Code Nine, but I am. I can help.” She pressed a few buttons on her vortex manipulator and disappeared.
She reappeared in UNIT HQ. “Ah, hell,” she said stumbling. “That wasn’t a fun one.” Immediately, a dozen guns were trained on her. “Whoa, chill guys. And I thought Americans were trigger happy.”
“Stand down.” Harriet Jones ordered walking into the room. “Hello, Lilith.”
“Harriet Jones!” Lilith beamed. “You called for a doctor, you get the next best thing.”
“But where is he?” Harriet asked.
“Indisposed, I’m afraid.” Lilith frowned. “Healing comas will do that to you.”
“They're transmitting.” Llewellyn announced. “Onscreen.”
The Sycorax leader spoke, and a young man translated. “Will the leader of this world stand forward?”
Lilith shared a look with Harriet and stepped forward. “I will represent this planet.”
It spoke again and the man translated, “Come aboard.”
Lilith crossed her arms. “And how are we supposed to do that?
The group of people around her was enveloped in light.
“Wh-what's happening?” Llewellyn stammered.
“I would imagine it's called a teleport.” Harriet said. Suddenly, they were standing in the Sycorax’s ship.
The leader walked up to them and started to remove it’s bone helmet.
“It's a helmet.” Llewellyn gasped. “They might be like us.” The face underneath was flatter, but still bony. “Or not.”
The leader spoke.
“You will surrender, or I will release the final curse and your people will jump,” the young man translated.
“If I can speak,” said Llewellyn.
“Mister Llewellyn, you're a civilian,” a military man protested.
“No, I sent out the probe. I started it. I made contact with these people. This whole thing's my responsibility. With respect sir, the human race is taking its first step towards the stars, but we are like children compared to you. Children who need help, children who need compassion. I beg of you now, show that compassion.”
The Sycorax raised a glowing force-whip, cracked it around Llewellyn's neck and disintegrated his flesh.
“That man was your prisoner!” the military amn exclaimed, outraged. “Even your species must have articles of war, forbidding—“
And he got the same treatment. Lilith looked down at the two skeletons in heaps on the floor.
Lilith tried to step forward, enraged by the death, but Harriet put a hand out to stop her. The Prime Minister stepped forward. “Harriet Jones, Prime Minister.”
The man translated the Sycorax’s words. “Yes, we know who you are. Surrender or they will die.”
“If I do surrender, how would that be better?”
“Half is sold into slavery or one-third dies. Your choice.” Something started beeping, and it seemed to irritate the Sycorax. “The noise. The bleeping. They say it's machinery. Foreign machinery. They're accusing us of hiding it. Conspiring. Bring it on board.”
Lilith sucked in a breath as a large blue box was beamed onto the ship. The Sycorax had found the TARDIS.