They were cornered, the suit coming at them from one end of the aisle and shadows moving closer from the other. “Doctor, what are we going to do?” River panicked.
“Donna Noble has left the Library. Donna Noble has been saved.”
“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”
Lilith swore in Gallifreyan.
River grabbed Lilith’s blaster and used it to make another hole in the wall. “This way! Quickly, move!” The rest of the group ran through the hole and they kept going until the squareness gun opened a hole to a rotunda. “Okay, we’ve got a clear spot. In, in, in! Right in the center, in the middle of the light. Quickly! Don’t let your shadows cross. Doctor?”
“I’m on it.” He started scanning the shadows with his sonic screwdriver.
Lilith looked at the skylight. “Sunset’s coming. Soon we’ll all be dead meat. Found anything yet?”
“Maybe, it’s getting harder to tell.” The Doctor smacked the sonic against his hand. “What’s wrong with you?”
“We’re gonna need a chicken leg. Who’s got a chicken leg?” Other Dave handed River one and she tossed it into the shadow. It was stripped before it hit the floor. “Okay, we’ve got a hot one. Watch your feet.”
“They won’t attack until there’s enough of them,” the Doctor said. “But they’ve got our scent now, they’re coming.”
“I really hate things I can’t shoot,” Lilith muttered.
“Who are they?” Other Dave asked River. “You haven’t even told us. You just expect up to trust them.”
Lilith glared at him. “He’s the Doctor.”
“And who are you?” Mr. Lux asked.
“She’s Lilith Smith,” River said, fixing the man with a protective stare. “They’re the only story you’ll ever tell— if you survive them.”
“You say the Doctor’s your friend, but he doesn’t even know who you are,” Anita pointed out.
“Listen, all you need to know is this: I’d trust that man to he end of the universe. And, actually, he’s been.”
“He doesn’t act like he trusts you.”
River looked back at the Doctor, who was angrily messing with the sonic. “Yeah, there’s a tiny problem. He hasn’t met me yet.”
She and Lilith went over to the Doctor. Lilith knelt next to him. “What’s wrong with it?”
“There’s a signal coming from somewhere, interfering with it.” He frowned at the piece of technology in his hands.
“Then use the red settings,” River suggested.
“It doesn’t have the red settings yet,” Lilith reminded her.
“Well, use the dampers.”
“It doesn’t have those yet either.”
“Try this one.” River offered the Doctor her screwdriver.
The Doctor took it and stood. “So some time in the future I just give you a screwdriver.”
She smiled. “Yeah.”
“Why would I do that?”
River shrugged. “Lilith had been nagging you about giving me one for years.” The Doctor looked at her suspiciously. “Look, I didn’t pluck it from your cold dead hands, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“And I know that because…?”
She stepped back, hurt flashing through her eyes. “Listen to me. You’ve lost your friend, you’re angry, I understand. But you need to be less emotional, Doctor. Right now there are six people in this room still alive, focus on that. Dear god, you’re hard work young!”
“Young? Who are you?” the Doctor demanded.
“Enough!” Lilith shouted. Both adults turned to look at her. She lowered her voice so the others couldn’t hear. “Dad, one day she’s going to be one of the people you trust most in this universe. We don’t have the time for you to figure that out, so if you won’t take her word for it, take mine. Aunt River is family. We can trust her.”
The Doctor stared at her, taken aback. River looked at him. “Doctor, are we good?”
He nodded slowly. “Yeah… yeah, we’re good.”
“Good.” They went back to the rest of the group.
“Know what’s interesting about my screwdriver? Very hard to interfere with, practically nothing’s strong enough. Well, some hairdryers, but I’m working on that. So there’s a very strong signal coming from somewhere, and it wasn’t there before. So what’s new? What’s changed?” The group of humans just looked at each other. “Come on! What’s different?”
“I don’t know, nothing,” Other Dave said. “It’s getting dark?”
The Doctor was unimpressed. “It’s a screwdriver, it works in the dark.”
Lilith looked around the room, searching for something different or out of place. Her gaze landed on the moon overhead. “Moonrise…”
“Tell me about the moon. What’s there?” the Doctor asked Mr. Lux.
“It’s not real, it was built as a part of the Library,” Mr. Lux told him. “It’s just a doctor moon.”
“What’s a doctor moon?” Lilith queried.
“A virus checker. It supports and maintains the main computer at the core of the planet.”
The Doctor buzzed the sonic. “Well, still active. It’s signaling. Someone somewhere in this Library is alive and communicating with the moon. Or, possibly, alive and drying their hair.”
Lilith slapped the Doctor’s arm. “Focus!”
“Alright! The signal is definitely coming from the moon. I’m blocking it, but it’s trying to break through...”
Suddenly, a fuzzy image of Donna appeared. “Dad!” Lilith shouted.
The Doctor looked up from his screwdriver. “Donna!” The image faded. “Hold on, hold on, hold on. I’m trying to find the wavelength. Ah, I’m being blocked.”
“Er, Professor?” Anita spoke up, voice shaky.
“Just a moment.”
“It’s important,” she said. “I have two shadows.”
They all whipped around to look at Anita. “Okay. Helmets on, everyone,” River ordered. “Anita, I’ll get yours.”
“It didn’t do Proper Dave any good.”
“Just keep it together, okay?” River helped Anita get the helmet on.
“Keeping it together, I’m only crying. I’m about to die, it’s not an overreaction.”
“Hang on,” the Doctor said, sonicing the visor. It went dark. “I’ve tinted her visor. Maybe they’ll think they’re already in there, leave her alone.”
“Do you think they can be tricked like that?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. It’s a swarm, it’s not like we chat.”
Lilith glanced around the room and bit her lip. “Dad? Aunt River? A word?”
“What’s wrong, Lilith?” River asked.
“What is it?”
Lilith spoke quietly. “Aunt River said that there are six people still alive in this room.”
“There aren’t six of us. There are seven.” They turned around to see another figure in a spacesuit standing in the background.
“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”
“Run!” They sprinted out of the room, spacesuit chasing them.
“Hey! Who turned out the lights? Hey! Who turned out the lights? Hey! Who turned out the lights?”
They ran as fast as they could, coming to one of the hallways that connected to of the buildings. “Professor, go ahead, find a safe spot,” the Doctor said.
“It’s a carnivorous swarm in a suit, you can’t reason with it!” River protested.
She glared at him. “Other Dave, stay with him. Pull him out when he’s too stupid to live. Two minutes, Doctor.” She took Lilith’s hand and pulled her into the next building.
“This is literally becoming my worst nightmare,” Lilith grumbled. “I can’t use my vortex manipulator, I can’t use my blaster, we’re leaving Dad behind… All that’s missing is Darkel getting kidnapped by Daleks and Mom getting upgraded.”
They came to a large, round room with a little light. River stopped to scan the shadows with her screwdriver. “You know,” she said slowly, “it’s funny. I keep wishing the Doctor was here.”
“The Doctor is here, isn’t he?” Anita questioned. “He’s coming back, right?”
River sighed. “You know when you see a photograph of someone you know, but it’s from years before you knew them? It’s like they’re not quite…finished. They’re not done yet. Well, yes, the Doctor’s here. He came when I called, just like he always does. But not my Doctor.
“Now my Doctor, I’ve seen whole armies turn and run away from him and his wife. And they’d just swagger off back to the kids and open the TARDIS doors with a snap of their fingers. The Doctor and his family in the TARDIS. Next stop, everywhere.”
“Spoilers.” All four of them jumped at the sound of the Doctor’s voice. “Nobody can open a TARDIS by snapping their fingers. It doesn’t work like that.”
River smirked. “It does for the Doctor.”
“I am the Doctor.”
“One of the Doctors,” Lilith corrected. “There are twelve of you flying around out there, you know.”
He glared at her and walked over to Anita. “How are you doing?”
“Where’s Other Dave?” River asked.
“Not coming, sorry.”
“Well, if they’ve taken him, why haven’t they gotten me yet?” Anita wondered.
“I don’t know.” He shrugged, looking down at Anita’s two shadows. “Maybe tinting your visor’s making a difference.”
“It’s making a difference all right. No one’s ever going to see my face again.”
“Can I get you anything?”
Anita chuckled weakly. “An old age would be nice. Anything you can do?” She sighed. “Doctor… when we first met you, you didn’t trust Professor Song. And then Lilith whispered something to you, and you did. My life so far… I could do with something like that. What did she say?” The Doctor didn’t answer. “Give a dead girl a break. Your secrets are safe with me.”
“Safe…” the Doctor repeated, quietly.
“Safe,” he said again. “You don’t saved, nobody says saved, you say safe. The data fragment! What did it say?”
“4,022 people saved. No survivors,” Lilith reiterated.
“Nobody says saved, nutters say saved, you say safe. But you see, it didn’t mean safe. It meant… it literally meant saved!”
The Doctor dashed to an information terminal. “See, there it is, right there! A hundred years ago, massive power surge, all the teleports going at once. Soon as the Vashta Nerada hit their hatching cycle, they attack. Someone hits the alarm; the computer tries to teleport everyone out.”
“It tried to teleport 4,022 people?”
“Succeeded, pulled them all out. But then what? Nowhere to send them, nowhere is safe in the whole Library, Vashta Nerada growing in every shadow. 4,022 people all beamed up and nowhere to go. They’re stuck in the system, waiting to be sent, like emails. So what’s a computer to do? What does it always do?”
Lilith’s eyes widened in realization. “It saved them.”
“The Library, a whole world of books, and right at the core, the biggest hard drive in history. The index to everything ever written, back up copies of every single book. The computer saved 4,022 people the only way a computer can.”
“It saved them to the hard drive.”
An alarm started to sound. “What is it?” Mr. Lux asked, looking around. “What’s wrong?”
“Autodestruct enabled in twenty minutes.”
Lilith swore in Gallifreyan. “Twenty minutes and the planet cracks like an egg.”
“No! No, it’s all right, the doctor moon will stop it,” Mr. Lux insisted. “It’s programmed to protect CAL.”
The screen of the information terminal went blank. “No, no, no, no, no, no!” the Doctor cried.
“All Library systems are permanently offline. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
“We need to stop this, we’ve got to save CAL!”
“What is it, what is CAL?” the Doctor demanded.
“We need to get to the main computer, I’ll show you,” the human said.
Lilith frowned. “It’s at the core of the planet.”
“Well, then,” River said. “Let’s go!” She soniced the symbol at the center of the room, and it opened. “Gravity platform!”
The Doctor grinned. “I bet I like you.”
“You do.” The four of them stepped onto the platform and it started to descend.