The TARDIS jolted as she landed, though not quite as rough as her usual landings. Lilith had a feeling that the old girl was showing off for the newest crew member. The Doctor was the first one out the door, followed by Mickey.
“It's a spaceship!” Mickey breathed. “Brilliant! I got a spaceship on my first go.”
There were lots of bits and pieces of equipment scattered around. “It looks kind of abandoned,” Rose noted. “Anyone on board?”
“Nah, nothing here. Well, nothing dangerous. Well, not that dangerous.” He paused. “You know what, I'll just have a quick scan, in case there's anything dangerous.”
“So, what's the date? How far have we gone?” Rose asked
“About three thousand years into your future, give or take,” the Doctor shrugged. He found the light switch on a console. Part of the ceiling opened up to show the stars. “Fifty first century. Diagmar Cluster, you're a long way from home, Mickey. Two and a half galaxies.”
“Mickey Smith, meet the universe.” Lilith beamed at his expression. “See anything you like?”
“It's so realistic!”
“Dear me, had some cowboys in here. Got a ton of repair work going on,” the Doctor said. “Now that's odd. Look at that.” He waved Lilith over.
“All the warp engines are going. Full capacity,” she noted. “There's enough power running through this ship to punch a hole in the damn universe, but we're not moving. So where's all that power going?”
“Where'd all the crew go?” Rose wondered.
The Doctor frowned. “Good question. No life readings on board.”
“Well, we're in deep space. They didn't sneak out the back door for a quick smoke.”
The Doctor made a face. “Can you smell that?”
“Yeah, someone's cooking.”
“Sunday roast, definitely.” Mickey agreed.
Lilith had a feeling it wasn’t something as nice as Sunday roast, but kept her opinions to herself. The Doctor flicked a switch and a door slid open. “Well, there’s something you don’t see in your average spaceship.”
The far wall was paneled, and contained a blazing fire in an ornate fireplace, with an ormolu clock on the mantelpiece.
“Eighteenth century. French. Nice mantle.” the Doctor scanned the mantle with the sonic screwdriver. “Not a hologram. It's not even a reproduction. This actually is an eighteenth century French fireplace. Double sided. There's another room through there.
Rose looked out of a porthole in the same wall. “There can't be. That's the outer hull of the ship. Look.”
Lilith looked down to see whom the Doctor was talking to and say a young girl in a nightgown, kneeling by the fire on the other side of the fireplace. “Hello.”
“What's your name?” the Doctor asked.
“Reinette, that's a lovely name,” Lilith said, squatting down next to the Doctor. “Can you tell me where you are at the moment, Reinette?”
“In my bedroom.”
“And where's your bedroom? Where do you live, hun?”
“Paris, of course,” Reinette said.
“Paris,” the Doctor repeated. “Right!”
“Monsieur, Madam, what are you doing in my fireplace?” Reinette asked.
“Oh, it's just a routine fire check,” the Doctor said. “Can you tell me what year it is?”
“Of course I can.” Reinette smiled. “Seventeen hundred and twenty seven.”
“Right, lovely. One of my favorites. August is rubbish though. Stay indoors. Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for your help. Hope you enjoy the rest of the fire. Night, night.”
“Goodnight Monsieur. Goodnight Madam.”
They all stood up. “You said this was the fifty first century,” Mickey said accusingly.
“Lilith also said this ship was generating enough power to punch a hole in the universe. I think we just found the hole,” the Doctor said. “Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink.”
Lilith rolled her eyes. “It’s not anything. He just didn't want to say magic door.”
“And on the other side of the magic door is France in 1727?” Rose asked.
The Doctor shrugged. “Well, she was speaking French. Right period French, too.”
“She was speaking English,” Mickey argued. “I heard her.”
“That's the TARDIS. Translates for you,” Rose explained.
“Maybe there’s some sort of mechanism that changes where the hole goes,” Lilith mused, examining the mantle. “Check the other side.”
“Gotcha!” the Doctor exclaimed, pulling a small lever.
“Doctor!” Rose cried.
The entire fireplace shifted and turn around, putting the two Gallifreyans in what Lilith assumed was Reinette’s room. A ticking noise echoed around the Room as the Doctor walked over and looked out the window. Reinette was asleep in her bed, but woke with a start.
“It's okay. Don't scream. It's us,” Lilith said soothingly. "It's the fireplace people. Look.” She elbowed the Doctor and he lit a candle with the sonic screwdriver. “We were talking just a moment ago. We were in your fireplace.”
“Madam, that was weeks ago,” Reinette said. “That was months.”
“Really?” the Doctor interrupted. “Oh. Must be a loose connection. Need to get a man in.”
“Who are you?” Reinette asked. “And what are you doing here?”
“We’re just passing through. Checking to make sure you’re safe,” Lilith assured her.
The Doctor looked at the clock on the mantel. The ticking was fairly loud. “Okay, that's scary."
Reinette frowned. “You're scared of a broken clock?”
Lilith eyes went wide and darted aronud the room when she realized why. “Just a bit scared, yeah. Just a little tiny bit,” the Doctor said. “Because, you see, if this clock's broken, and it's the only clock in the room, then what's that?” The ticking noise continued. “Because, you see, that's not a clock. You can tell by the resonance. Too big. Six feet, I'd say. The size of a man.”
“What is it?” the little girl asked.
“Well, let's think about it logically,” Lilith said. “If you were a thing that ticked and you were hiding in someone's bedroom, first thing you do would be to break the clock. No one notices the sound of one clock ticking, but two? You might start to wonder if you're the only one in the room.”
The Doctor scanned the room, his eye landing on the foot of Reinette’s bed. “Stay on the bed. Right in the middle,” he instructed. “Don't put your hands or feet over the edge.”
The Doctor waved the screwdriver under the bed. Something shot out and knocked it out of his hand.
“Reinette,” Lilith whispered, “don't turn around, okay?” A figure in a smiley mask was standing on the other side of the bed. “Stay exactly where you are. Hold still, let me look.” She held Reinette's head and looked deep into her eyes. She turned to look at the Doctor. “They’ve been scanning her brain.”
“What, you've crossed two galaxies and thousands of years just to scan a child's brain? What could there be in a little girl's mind worth blowing a hole in the universe?” the Doctor demanded.
“I don't understand,” Reinette said. “It wants me? You want me?”
“Not yet,” the figure, a droid, said robotically. “You are incomplete.”
“Incomplete?” the Doctor repeated. “What's that mean, incomplete? You can answer her, you can answer me, what do you mean incomplete?” He pointed the sonic at the droid.
The android walked around the bed and a blade came out of its hand.
Lilith put herself between the droid and Reinette. The young girl looked over her shoulder. “Monsieur, be careful,” she begged.
“Just a nightmare, hun, don't worry about it,” Lilith said reassuringly. “Everyone has nightmares.”
The android slashed and the Doctor dodged. ‘Get over to the fireplace,’ the Doctor telepathically ordered. Lilith did. “Even monsters from under the bed have nightmares, don't you, monster?” he said aloud, dodging again. The blade got stuck in the mantelpiece.
“What do monsters have nightmares about?” Reinette asked.
The Doctor activated the mechanism and the fireplace rotated again. “Me!”
“Doctor!” Rose exclaimed.
The Doctor grabbed a tube from a nearby rack and fired its contents over the android. It seized up.
“Excellent.” Mickey said, grinning. “Ice gun.”
“Fire extinguisher,” the Doctor corrected, tossing the fire extinguisher to Rose.
She caught it. “Where did that thing come from?”
“So why is it dressed like that?” Mickey wondered.
“Field trip to France. Some kind of basic camouflage protocol. Nice needlework, shame about the face.” The Doctor removed the android's face to reveal clockwork. “Oh, you are beautiful! No, really, you are. You're gorgeous! Look at that. Space age clockwork, I love it. I've got chills! Listen, seriously, I mean this from the heart, and, by the way, count those, it would be a crime, it would be an act of vandalism to disassemble you.” Lilith glared at him. “But that won't stop me.”
The android beamed away.
“What—?” Mickey blinked.
“Short range teleport. Can't have got far,” Lilith explained. “Doctor, we should check on Reinette.”
“Don't go looking for it!” the Doctor said to the two humans.
“Where're you going?” Rose asked.
“To make sure the little girl is okay,” Lilith said. “We’ll be back in a sec.”
The Doctor flicked the fireplace-rotating switch again. This time, it was day and it didn’t look like a little girl’s room. It was a big, plush, split level room.
“Reinette?” Lilith called out. “We’re just checking to see if you're okay.”
The Doctor looked around and played a few notes on a harp. Someone cleared their throat, a young woman. “Oh, hello,” Lilith said. “Ah, we were just looking for Reinette. This is still her room, isn't it? We've been away, not sure how long."
“Reinette! We're ready to go!” a woman’s voice called.
“Go to the carriage, Mother. I will join you there.” She turned to the duo. “It is customary, I think, to have imaginary friends only during one's childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.”
The Doctor’s eyes widened. “Reinette! Well. Goodness, how you've grown.”
“And you do not appear to have aged a single day. That is tremendously impolite of you.” She walked up to him, somewhat ignoring Lilith.
“Right, yes, sorry. Listen, lovely to catch up, but better be off, eh? Don't want your mother finding you up here with strange people, do we?”
“Strange?” Reinette repeated. “How could you be a stranger to me? I've known you since I was seven years old.”
“Yeah, I suppose you have,” the Doctor shrugged. “I came the quick route.”
Reinette put her hand on the Doctor’s cheek and his nervous smile dropped. Lilith bristled. “You seem to be flesh and blood, at any rate, but this is absurd,” the young woman said. “Reason tells me you cannot be real.”
“Oh, you never want to listen to reason.”
“Mademoiselle!” a man yelled. “Your mother grows impatient.”
“A moment!” Reinette yelled back before returning her attention to the Doctor. “So many questions, so little time.” Reinette kissed the Doctor, pushing him up against the wall. Lilith stepped up and pulled her back before the Doctor could react.
“Nope! Not happening!” Lilith declared. “There will be no making out with my uncle. Not today, not ever. Sorry, but no.”
“Very well.” Reinette sighed.
“Mademoiselle Poisson!” the man shouted. Reinette ran out and the man entered.
“Poisson? Reinette Poisson?” the Doctor asked. “No! No, no, no, no, no way. Reinette Poisson? Later Madame Etoiles? Later still mistress of Louis the Fifteenth, uncrowned Queen of France? Actress, artist, musician, dancer, courtesan, fantastic gardener!” Lilith rolled her eyes.
“Who the hell are you?” the man demanded.
“Nobody. We’re two nobodies and we’re leaving. Bye.” Lilith said firmly and the fireplace swung around. “Rose? Micks?”
“Every time,” the Doctor complained. “Every time, it's rule one. Don't wander off. I tell them, I do. Rule one. There could be anything on this ship.”
Apparently, ‘anything’ included a horse.
“That’s it,” Lilith said. “I’m out of here. I’m looking for Micks and Rose on my own. Goodbye."
“Maybe it wasn't a real heart,” Mickey suggested.
“Course it was a real heart,” Rose scoffed.
“Is this like normal for you? Is this an average day?”
“This is life with the Doctor, Micks. No more average days.” The two humans spun around to see Lilith join them. “What happened to don’t wander off?”
Rose shrugged. “Got bored. What have you been doing?”
“Stopped the Doctor from doing something stupid. So, nothing out of the ordinary.”
They stopped by a large window. “It's France again.” Mickey said. “We can see France.”
“I think we're looking through a mirror.”
A man in fancy clothes entered the room on the other side of the mirror with two men. “Blimey, look at this guy. Who does he think he is?” Mickey asked unimpressed.
“The King of France.” the Doctor came over.
“Oh, here's trouble.” Rose said with a smile. “What you been up to?”
“Oh, this and that,” the Doctor shrugged. “Became the imaginary friend of a future French aristocrat, picked a fight with a clockwork man.” The horse from earlier neighed. “Oh, and I met a horse.”
“What's a horse doing on a spaceship?”
“Mickey, what's pre-Revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective. See these?” The Doctor gestured to the window. “They're all over the place, on every deck, gateways to history. But not just any old history.” Reinette entered the room and curtseyed to the King. “Hers. Time windows deliberately arranged along the life of one particular woman. A spaceship from the fifty first century is stalking a woman from the eighteenth. Why?”
“Who is she?” Rose asked.
“Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, known to her friends as Reinette. One of the most accomplished women who ever lived.”
“So has she got plans of being the Queen, then?”
Lilith shook her head. “No, he's already got a Queen. She's got plans of being his mistress.”
“I think this is the night they met,” the Doctor said. “The night of the Yew Tree ball. In no time at flat, she'll get herself established as his official mistress, with her own rooms at the palace. Even her own title. Madame de Pompadour.”
“More like Madame de Pompous-ass.” Lilith muttered to herself.
The King and his servants left and Reinette checked her appearance in the mirror/window.
“The Queen must have loved her.” Rose said.
“Oh, she did.” the Doctor replied. “They get on very well.”
“The King's wife and the King's girlfriend?” Mickey asked in disbelief.
“France,” the Doctor said dismissively. “It's a different planet.”
They watched as Reinette whirled around to a figure standing in the corner of the room with its back to her. She said something they couldn't hear, and then the figure turned around. It was one of the clockwork men. The Doctor grabbed Mickey's fire extinguisher and pushed past them, swinging the mirror out toward Reinette.
"Hello, Reinette," he said quickly as he walked past her. "Hasn't time flown?"
"Fireplace man!" she exclaimed in surprise.
The Doctor sprayed the android thoroughly and threw the extinguisher back to Mickey. The android creaked.
“What's it doing?” Mickey asked.
“Switching back on. Melting the ice,” the Doctor answered.
“And then what?”
“Then it kills everyone in the room. Focuses the mind, doesn't it? Who are you? Identify yourself!” the Doctor demanded. “Order it to answer me,” he said to Reinette.
“Why should it listen to me?” she asked.
“I don't know. It did when you were a child. Let's see if you've still got it.”
“Answer his question,” Reinette told the droid. “Answer any and all questions put to you.”
“I am repair droid seven,” the droid said finally.
“What happened to the ship?” Lilith asked. “There was a lot of damage.”
“Ion storm. Eighty two percent systems failure,” it replied.
“That ship hasn't moved in over a year,” the Doctor said. “What's taken you so long?”
“We did not have the parts.”
Mickey chuckled. “Always comes down to that, doesn't it? The parts.”
“What's happened to the crew? Where are they?”
“We did not have the parts.”
“There should have been over fifty people on your ship. Where did they go?”
“We did not have the parts,” the droid repeated.
“Fifty people don't just disappear!” Lilith snapped. “Where…” her eyes widened. “Oh. You didn't have the parts, so you used the crew.”
“The crew?” Mickey asked.
“We found a camera with an eye in it,” Rose said slowly. “And there was a heart wired into machinery.”
“It was just doing what it was programmed to. Repairing the ship any way it can, with whatever it could find,” the Doctor said. “No one told it the crew weren't on the menu. What did you say the flight deck smelt of?”
“Flesh plus heat. Barbeque.”
Lilith gagged. “That’s freaking disgusting.”
“But what are you doing here?” the Doctor asked. “You've opened up time windows. That takes colossal energy. Why come here? You could have gone to your repair yard. Instead you come to eighteenth century France? Why?”
“One more part is required.” It jerked its head toward Reinette.
“Then why haven't you taken it?”
“She is incomplete,” it replied.
“What, so, that's the plan, then? Just keep opening up more and more time windows, scanning her brain, checking to see if she's done yet?” the Doctor asked in disgust.
“Why her?” Everyone turned to look at Rose. “You've got all of history to choose from. Why specifically her?”
“We are the same.”
“We are not the same!” Reinette cried. “We are in no sense the same!”
“We are the same,” the droid said again.
“Get out of here!” Reinette demanded. “Get out of here this instant!”
“Reinette, no,” the Doctor said. The droid teleported away. “It's back on the ship. Rose, take Mickey and Arthur. Get after it. Follow it. Don't approach it, just watch what it does.”
“I’m going with them.”
“Arthur?” Rose questioned.
“Good name for a horse.”
“No, you're not keeping the horse,” Rose insisted.
“I let you keep Mickey. Now go! Go! Go!”
Lilith followed Rose and Mickey through the time window and the Doctor closed it behind them.