“So, Doctor,” Lilith said, grinning from ear to ear as she stood at the console. “Where are you taking Rose for the first date in with your new face? No, better question,” she pinned him to the spot with a teasing look. “Are you gonna kiss her again?”
The Doctor made a face at her. “Keep your mouth shut and set the coordinates for New Earth.”
Lilith stuck her tongue out at him, but did as she was told as Rose bounded into the console room. “So where’re we going?” she asked.
The Doctor leaned in. “Farther then we’ve ever gone before.”
The two Gallifreyans danced around the console as the TARDIS flew through the vortex to their destination. Rose was the first one out of the ship.
The TARDIS had materialized across the river from a massive city. Flying cars zoomed overhead. “It's the year five billion and twenty three. We're in the galaxy M87, and this? This is New Earth.”
“That's just…” Rose looked around at the flying cars. “That's just…” she laughed.
“Not bad.” Lilith mused with a smile. “Not bad at all.”
“That's amazing.” Rose marveled. “I'll never get used to this. Never. Different ground beneath my feet, different sky. What's that smell?”
The Doctor bent over and picked some of the grass, sniffing it. “Apple grass.”
“Apple grass.” Rose chuckled. “It's beautiful. Oh, I love this. Can I just say, travelling with you two, I love it.”
“Ditto, Tyler.” Lilith bumped shoulders with the human girl.
“Me too,” the Doctor said. “Come on.” He grabbed their hands and ran down the hill. At the bottom, the Doctor laid out his coat like a blanket for he and Rose to sit on, Lilith just laid down on the apple grass.
“The city is gorgeous.” She gushed.
“So, the year five billion, the sun expands, the Earth gets roasted.”
“That was our first date.” Rose remembered.
“We had chips,” the Doctor smiled. Lilith pretended to gag. “So anyway, planet gone, all rocks and dust, but the human race lives on, spread out across the stars. Soon as the Earth burns up, oh yeah, they get all nostalgic, big revival movement, but then find this place. Same size as the Earth, same air, same orbit. Lovely. Call goes out, the humans move in.”
“What's the city called?” Rose asked.
“New New York.”
“Oh, come on,” she scoffed, dismissively.
“It is. It's the city of New New York. Strictly speaking, it's the fifteenth New York since the original, so that makes it New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York,” the Doctor stopped when he noticed Rose was staring at him. “What?”
“You're so different,” she said.
“New New Doctor,” he joked.
“So!” Lilith jumped up. “How’s about we go and visit New New York, so good they named it twice?”
“Well, I thought we might go there first.” the Doctor pointed to an elegant pair of curved skyscrapers standing apart from the city on their side of the river.
“Why, what is it?” Rose questioned.
“Some sort of hospital. Green moon on the side. That's the universal symbol for hospitals. I got this. A message on the psychic paper.” The paper read: Ward 26 Please Come. “Someone wants to see me.”
“Hmm. And I thought we were just sight-seeing.” Rose said. “Come on, then. Let's go and buy some grapes.”
Lilith’s mind wandered as the trio walked into the hospital. She tried to remember what advisary her parents had run into on their first trip to New Earth, but her attempts were futile. The details locked away until the events come to pass.
“Bit rich coming from you.” Rose was saying.
“I can't help it,” the Doctor shrugged. “I don't like hospitals. They give me the creeps. No shop,” he noted. “I like the little shop.”
“I thought this far in the future, they'd have cured everything.” Rose said.
“The human race evolves,” Lilith said. “But so do the viruses. It's an ongoing war and all.”
One of the nurses walked past, nodding politely. Rose did a double take, noticing the faces of the nursing staff in their nun-like wimples. “They're cats.”
“Now, don't stare,” the Doctor chided. “Think what you look like to them, all pink and yellow. That's where I'd put the shop. Right there.”
The Doctor walked into one of the elevators, followed by Lilith. “Ward 26, thanks!”
“Hold on! Hold on!” Rose called, running over. But the doors closed.
“Oh, too late. We’re going up,” the Doctor said through the doors.
“It's all right, there's another lift.”
“Ward 26,” the Doctor reminded her. “And watch out for the disinfectant.”
Lilith frowned. “The disinfectant?”
“The what?” Rose yelled.
“The di— oh, she’ll find out.”
“Doctor, what do you mean ‘watch out for the disinfectant’?”
“Commence stage one disinfection,” said a computerized voice. There was a beeping and green lights, then the two were drenched in some sort of shower.
Lilith spat out some that had gotten in her mouth. “Disinfectant.”
The next stage was apparently blow dry and when the doors dinged open, Lilith was completely dry. The Doctor strolled out of the elevator like nothing had happened.
They were escorted by a veiled nurse into a larger room. “Nice place,” the Doctor complimented. “No shop, downstairs. I'd have a shop. Not a big one. Just a shop, so people can shop.”
The nurse removed her veil. “The hospital is a place of healing.”
“A shop does some people the world of good. Not me. Other people.”
“The Sisters of Plentitude take a lifelong vow to help and to mend,” said the cat nurse.
They passed an open cubicle. “Excuse me!” a woman snapped. “Members of the public may only gaze upon the Duke of Manhattan with written permission from the Senate of New New York.”
“That's Petrifold Regression, right?” Lilith asked.
“I'm dying, Miss. A lifetime of charity and abstinence, and it ends like this,” the Duke of Manhattan groaned.
“Any statements made by the Duke of Manhattan may not be made public without official clearance,” the woman said.
“Frau Clovis! I'm so weak.”
“Sister. A little privacy, please.”
The cat nurse, Sister Jatt, motioned that they move on. “He'll be up and about in no time.”
“I doubt it,” the Doctor said. “Petrifold Regression? He's turning to stone. There won't be a cure for oh, a thousand years? He might be up and about, but only as a statue.”
“Have faith in the Sisterhood. But is there no one here you recognize?” Jatt asked. “It's rather unusual to visit without knowing the patient.”
“Ah, I think I've found him.” Lilith said, nodding to a large face in a container by the picture window with a view of the city.
“Novice Hame, if I can leave this gentleman in your care?”
The cat nurse attending to the Face of Boe nodded.
“Oh, I think my friend got lost. Rose Tyler. Could you ask at reception?” the Doctor added.
“Certainly, sir.” Sister Jatt walked away.
“I'm afraid the Face of Boe is asleep. That's all he tends to do these days.” Novice Hame said. “Are you a friend, or…?”
“We met just the once on Platform One.”
“I’m a friend.” Lilith said, gazing at the face worriedly.
The Doctor frowned. “You actually know the Face of Boe?”
“I had my fair share of travels before joining you, you know.” Lilith snipped, then turned to Novice Hame. “What's wrong with him?”
“I'm so sorry. I thought you knew. The Face of Boe is dying.”
Wait, what? “Of what?”
“Old age. The one thing we can't cure.” Hame said sadly. “He's thousands of years old. Some people say millions, although that's impossible.”
“Oh, I don't know,” the Doctor scratched the back of his neck. “I like impossible.” He knelt in front of the face. “I'm here. I look a bit different, but it's me, it's the Doctor.”
‘Wake up.’ Lilith begged. ‘Please, Uncle Jack, wake up.’
But the Face of Boe stayed asleep.
Lilith sat there next to the Face, telepathically relaying all of the adventures she had been on with Rose and the Doctor since Platform One. She only half listened to the Doctor’s conversation with Novice Hame.
He had brought Hame a cup of water. “That's very kind,” she said. “There's no need.”
“You're the one working,” he shrugged.
“There's not much to do,” Hame admitted. “Just maintain his smoke. And I suppose I'm company. I can hear him singing, sometimes, in my mind. Such ancient songs.”
“Am I the only visitor?” the Doctor asked.
“The rest of Boe-kind became extinct long ago. He's the only one left. Legend says that the Face of Boe has watched the universe grow old. There's all sorts of superstitions around him. One story says that just before his death, the Face of Boe will impart his great secret, that he will speak those words only to one like himself.”
“What does that mean?”
“It's just a story.” Hame dismissed.
“Tell me the rest,” the Doctor insisted gently.
“It's said he'll talk to a wanderer. To the man without a home, the lonely god.”
Lilith groaned. Well, if that’s not going to go to his head. But the Doctor seemed lost in thought. Lilith got up and handed him her cell phone. “Call Tyler,” she instructed the phone. It began to ring.
“Rose, where are you? Where have you been? How long does it take to get to Ward 26?”
‘Rude, Doctor.’ Lilith chided mentally.
“You’ll never guess. We’re with the Face of Boe. Remember him?”
There was a commotion over by where the Duke of Manhattan was staying. The Doctor frowned. “I’d better go. See you in a minute.”
“What’s going on over there?” Lilith wondered.
“I don’t know,” the Doctor said. They walked over to find the Duke completely flesh and drinking champagne.
“Didn't think I was going to make it!” he was laughing. “It's that young lady again! She's my good luck charm. Come in. Don't be shy.”
“Any friendship expressed by the Duke of Manhattan does not constitute a form of legal contract,” the woman, Clovis, said.
“Winch me up. Up! Look at me. No sign of infection.”
“Champagne, sir?” a waiter offered the Doctor.
“No, thanks,” he said, and then turned to the Duke. “You had Petrifold Regression, right?”
“That being the operative word. Past tense. Completely cured.”
The Doctor shook his head. “But that's impossible.”
“Primitive species would accuse us of magic,” a cat nurse said, approaching them. “But it's merely the tender application of science.”
“How on Earth did you cure him?” the Doctor questioned.
“How on New Earth, you might say,” the cat nurse corrected kindly.
“What's in that solution?” Lilith asked, nodding to the baggie of liquid.
“A simple remedy,” the nurse replied vaguely.
“Then tell me what it is,” the Doctor said.
“I'm sorry. Patient confidentiality. I don't believe we've met. My name is Matron Casp.”
“I'm the Doctor and this is Lilith.”
“I think you'll find that we're the doctors here,” Casp said, a little sharply.
Sister Jatt came over. “Matron Casp, you're needed in Intensive Care.”
“If you would excuse me.”
“I don’t like this.” Lilith said once the two cats were gone. The Doctor didn’t say anything. He just took out his glasses and went around studying all the patients. Lilith followed him in silence.
That was when Rose came in.
“There you are!” the Doctor said. “Come and look at this patient. Marconi's Disease. Should take years to recover. Two days. I've never seen anything like it. They've invented a cell washing cascade. It's amazing. Their medical science is way advanced. And this one,” he moved to a man as white as his bed gown, “Pallidome Pancrosis. Kills you in ten minutes, and he's fine. I need to find a terminal. I've got to see how they do this. Because if they've got the best medicine in the world, then why is it such a secret?”
“I can't Adam and Eve it.” Rose said. She sounded strange.
The Doctor frowned. “What's… what's with the voice?”
“Oh, I don't know. Just larking about. New Earth, new me.”
“Well, I can talk. New New Doctor,” he chuckled.
“Mm, aren't you just.” Rose grabbed the Doctor and kissed him, long and hard. “T-t-terminal's this way,” she breathed once she stepped back, and walked away.
The Doctor stood frozen for a moment. ‘Something’s wrong.’
Lilith rolled her eyes and followed Rose. ‘I’m not disagreeing, but Rose decides to passionately kiss you and that means something is wrong?’
‘That’s not how Rose kisses,’ the Doctor thought back.
‘You would know, wouldn’t you?’
‘Shut it, you.’
“Nope, nothing odd,” the Doctor concluded, looking over the terminal. “Surgery, post-op, nano-dentistry. No sign of a shop. They should have a shop.”
“No, it's missing something else.” Rose insisted. “When I was downstairs, those nurse/cat/nuns were talking about Intensive Care. Where is it?”
“You're right. Well done.”
“Why would they hide a whole department? It's got to be there somewhere. Search the sub-frame.” Rose almost ordered.
“What if the sub-frame's locked?” the Doctor asked.
“Try the installation protocol.” Rose said impatiently.
“Yeah. Of course. Sorry. Hold on.”
Lilith sighed, exasperated. ‘Please tell me you’re being intentionally dim.’
‘Rose wouldn’t know this stuff.’ The Doctor used the sonic screwdriver on the interface, and the whole wall slid down to reveal a corridor.
“I.C.,” Lilith said, “it certainly looks intensive.” She followed Rose and the Doctor as they went deeper into the department. When they came to a staircase, she stayed behind, watching Rose and the Doctor continue on from a distance.
‘What are you doing?’ the Doctor asked.
‘What does it look like I’m doing? Making sure one of us is out of the way is Rose turns on us.’
The whole place was lined with the cells, thousands of them. The Doctor opened one at random. He sent Lilith a mental image of what he saw. It contained a very sick looking man.
“That's disgusting.” Rose said. “What's wrong with him?”
“I'm sorry,” the Doctor whispered to the man. “I'm so sorry.” He closed the door and moved on to the next. Inside was a young woman.
“What disease is that?” Rose asked, clearly disgusted.
“All of them.” the Doctor told her. “Every single disease in the galaxy. They've been infected with everything.”
“What about us? Are we safe?” She started to sound a little panicked.
“The air's sterile,” he assured her. “Just don't touch them.” He closed the door.
Someone touched Lilith’s shoulder and she jumped. It was Novice Hame. “What are you doing up here?” the cat nurse asked.
“Keeping my distance.” Lilith whispered back. “Go on, don’t mind me.”
“How many patients are there?” Rose wondered.
“They're not patients.”
“But they're sick.”
“They were born sick. They're meant to be sick. They exist to be sick. Lab rats. No wonder the Sisters have got a cure for everything. They've built the ultimate research laboratory. A human farm.”
Lilith could hear the disdain and anger in his voice.
“Why don't they just die?”
“Plague carriers. The last to go.”
“It's for the greater cause,” Novice Hame said.
“Novice Hame,” the Doctor hissed. “When you took your vows, did you agree to this?”
“The Sisterhood has sworn to help.”
“What, by killing?”
“But they're not real people. They're specially grown. They have no proper existence.”
“What's the turnover, hmm?” he spat. “Thousand a day? Thousand the next? Thousand the next? How many thousands? For how many years? How many!”
“Mankind needed us.” Novice Hame insisted. “They came to this planet with so many illnesses. We couldn't cope. We did try. We tried everything. We tried using clone-meat and bio-cattle, but the results were too slow, so the Sisterhood grew its own flesh. That's all they are. Flesh.”
“These people are alive,” the Doctor growled.
“But think of those Humans out there, healthy and happy, because of us. “
“If they live because of this, then life is worthless.”
The cat continued to look at the duo calmly. “But who are you to decide that?”
“I'm the Doctor. And if you don't like it, if you want to take it to a higher authority, then there isn't one.” He got in her face. “It stops with me.”
“Just to confirm,” Rose cut in, “none of the humans in the city actually know about this?”
“We thought it best not.”
“Hold on,” the Doctor said. “I can understand the bodies. I can understand your vows. One thing I can't understand. What have you done to Rose?”
‘Ah, to the point now.’
Novice Hame frowned. “I don't know what you mean.”
“And I'm being very, very calm. You want to be aware of that. Very, very calm. And the only reason I'm being so very, very calm is that the brain is a delicate thing. Whatever you've done to Rose's head, I want it reversed.”
“We haven't done anything.” Hame said.
“I'm perfectly fine.” Rose said.
“These people are dying, and Rose would care.”
Rose’s demeanor immediately changed. “Oh, all right, clever clogs. Smarty pants. Lady-killer.”
“What's happened to you?” the Doctor asked.
“I knew something was going on in this hospital, but I needed this body and your mind to find it out.” ‘Rose’ said.
“Who are you?”
Lilith watched as not-Rose leaned in and whispered something in the Doctor’s ear. The memory unlocked just as the Doctor realized who they were dealing with.
“Wake up and smell the perfume,” she snapped. She pulled a vial out of her shirt and squirted it at the Doctor. He collapsed.
Lilith swore in Gallifreyan.