The Doctor struggled to his feet. “I’m sorry, it’s too late. I’m regenerating.”
“Dad!” Lilith cried.
Energy burst out from his skin through the sleeves and neck of his suit. Jack put his arms around the three girls and Lilith hung on tightly to the blonde as they hid their faces from the blinding light.
With much difficulty, the Doctor turned around and directed the energy towards the hand in the jar that sat under the console, making it glow and bubble wildly. The energy faded away and the Doctor leaned on the console for support, gasping, but still looking the same. “Now then, where were we?”
Donna, Rose, and Jack stared at him in disbelief, but Lilith flung herself at him and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Rassilon, Dad. Never do that again.”
The Doctor squeezed her back, then knelt in front of the hand in the jar, which was still bubbling and glowing. He blew on the jar; the glow faded and the bubbling stopped.
“You see? Used the regeneration energy to heal myself, but soon as I was done, I didn’t need to change. I didn’t want to, why would I? Look at me!” he said, adjusting his tie with a smug expression. “So, to stop the energy from going all the way, I siphoned off the rest into a handy bio-matching receptacle, namely my hand, my hand there. My handy spare hand!”
He stood up. “Remember Christmas Day? Sycorax? Lost my hand in a sword fight?” he asked Rose. “That’s my hand. What do you think?”
Rose took a tentative step forward. “You’re… you’re still you?”
“I’m still me,” he confirmed, gently.
And, after all their time apart, they finally hugged each other, the Doctor only pulling back to kiss Rose hard on the lips. The three others watched with smiles on their faces.
“You can hug me, if you want,” Donna said to Jack. He laughed. “No, really. You can hug me!”
The Doctor and Rose parted. “I think there’s someone else who wants to say hi,” he said.
Rose turned to Lilith, who bit her lip and shifted awkwardly. “You’re ginger,” the former noted.
“His influence, I suppose.” Lilith wiped away a tear. “God damn it, I shouldn’t still be crying.”
“Then why are you?” Rose asked, teasingly.
“Because I freaking missed you, Tyler.” Lilith crushed her in a hug, clinging desperately to the other girl. “I missed you, Mom,” she whispered.
Rose hugged her back just as tightly. “I missed you too.”
Lilith stepped back and cleared her throat. “So, what’s going on with the Daleks?”
“There’s a massive Dalek ship at the center of the planets,” Jack informed them. “They’re calling it the Crucible. Guess that’s our destination.”
“Lilith said these planets were like an engine,” said Donna. “But what for?”
The Doctor thought for a moment, then turned to Rose. “You’ve been in a parallel world, that world’s running ahead of this universe. You’ve seen the future. What was it?”
“It’s the darkness,” she answered quietly.
“The stars were going out,” Donna remembered.
“One by one. We looked up at the sky and they were just dying. Basically, we’ve been building this, er, this travel machine. This, er, Dimension Cannon. So I could, well, so I could…”
“What?” the Doctor questioned.
“So I could come back.” He beamed at her. “Shut up. Anyway, suddenly, it started to work and the dimensions started to collapse. Not just in our world, not just in yours, but the whole of reality. Even the Void was dead. Something is destroying everything.”
Lilith frowned. “In the parallel reality you said something about Donna?”
Rose nodded. “The Dimension Cannon could measure timelines, and it’s…it’s weird, Donna, but they all seem to converge on you.”
“But why me? I mean, what have I ever done? I’m a temp. From Chiswick!” Donna protested.
Something beeped and the Doctor checked the monitor. “The Dalek Crucible. All aboard.”
The TARDIS shook slightly and the lights all went out. It was a moment before voices filtered in from beyond the doors. “The TARDIS is secured.”
“Doctor, you will step forth or die,” commanded a slightly lower pitched Dalek voice. It reminded Lilith of the Emperor of the Daleks; she shivered.
“Well have to go out,” the Doctor said. “’Cause if we don’t, they’ll get in.”
“You told be nothing could get through those doors,” Rose pointed out.
“You’ve got extrapolator shielding,” Jack added.
The Doctor just shook his head. “Last time we fought the Daleks, they were scavengers and hybrids and mad. But this is a fully-fledged Dalek Empire, at the height of its power. Experts at fighting TARDISes, they can do anything. Right now, that wooden door… is just wood."
“What about your Dimension Jump?” Jack asked Rose.
“It needs another twenty minutes, and anyway, I’m not leaving.”
“Your teleport?” Lilith suggested.
“Went down with the power loss,” Jack admitted. “Your vortex manipulator?”
Lilith bit her lip. “To many people, and it’s a bit unstable considering we’re out of synch with the rest of the universe.”
“Right, then, all of us together,” the Doctor decided. He noticed Donna’s absence from the conversation. “Donna? Donna?”
She snapped out of whatever reverie she was in. “Yeah.”
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing else we can do.”
“Surrender, Doctor, and face your Dalek masters.”
“Stupid pepper pots and their superiority complex,” Lilith muttered. Rose and Jack chuckled nervously.
“It’s been good, though, hasn’t it? All of us, all of it, everything we did.” The Doctor turned to Donna. “You were brilliant.” He looked at Jack. “And you were brilliant.” He gently cupped Rose’s cheek. “You were fantastic.” She smiled at him. “And Lilith—”
Lilith held up a hand. “Cut the sentimentality, Dad. I refuse to start crying again.”
The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS, followed by Rose, Lilith, and Jack.
“Daleks reign supreme,” declared the Supreme Dalek. “All hail the Daleks!”
“Daleks reign supreme. All hail the Daleks!” chanted the rest of them. “Daleks reign supreme. All hail the Daleks!”
The four watched the countless Daleks swarming in the air. Lilith noticed the Donna hadn’t followed; she was still inside. “Donna, you’re no safer in there.”
Suddenly, before Donna could join them, the TARDIS doors slammed shut. “What?”
She banged on the door from the inside. “Doctor? What have you done?”
“It wasn’t me, I didn’t do anything!”
“Oi! Oi, I’m not staying behind!”
The Doctor spun back around to face the Supreme Dalek. “What did you do?” he demanded.
“This is not of Dalek origin,” the red Dalek claimed.
“Stop it! She’s my friend, now open the door and let her out!”
“This is Time Lord treachery. Nevertheless, the TARDIS is a weapon and it will be destroyed.”
A trapdoor opened beneath the TARDIS and it fell. “What are you doing? Bring it back!” the Doctor shouted. “What’ve you done, where’s it going?”
“The Crucible had a heart of Z-Neutrino energy. The TARDIS will be deposited into the core,” the Supreme Dalek answered.
Lilith could feel the TARDIS’ panic in her mind. “You can’t!” she protested. “You took the defenses down! She’ll be torn apart! Donna’s still in there!”
“The female and the TARDIS will perish together. Observe!” It activated a holographic screen that showed the TARDIS falling. “The last children of Gallifrey are powerless.”
The Doctor’s panic was just as evident as the TARDIS’, rolling off him in waves. “Please, I’m begging you, I’ll do anything! Put me in her place, you can do anything to me! I don’t care, just get her out of there!”
“You are connected to the TARDIS. Now feel it die!”
Lilith gripped the Doctor’s left hand and Rose held the right. They watched the TARDIS on the screen, resisting the urge to look away.
“Total TARDIS destruction in ten rels. Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…” The TARDIS disappeared. “The TARDIS has been destroyed. Now tell me Doctor, Collector. What do you feel? Anger? Sorrow? Despair?”
The TARDIS was gone, but Lilith hadn’t felt the pain she knew would accompany the ship’s death. She and the Doctor exchanged confused glances. “Yeah.”
“Then if emotions are so important, surely we have enhanced you.”
“Yeah? Feel this!” Jack yelled, shooting the Supreme Dalek with his handgun, but causing no damage at all.
“Exterminate!” The Supreme Dalek’s death ray hit Jack and he collapsed, dead. Rose knelt down next to him.
“Jack! Oh my god! Oh, no!”
Lilith gently pulled her away from Jack’s body. “Rose, come on. Leave him.”
“They killed him,” she breathed.
“I know. I’m sorry.” Lilith pulled Rose to her feet. “There’s nothing we can do.”
“Take them to the Vault,” the Supreme Dalek ordered one of the soldiers. “They are the playthings of Davros now.”
As they were led away, Lilith looked back at Jack, who winked at her. She took a deep breath and continued to follow the Dalek to the Vault.
“Activate holding cells.” The Doctor, Lilith, and Rose stood several feet from each other, the holding cells were force fields surrounding them individually. Davros rolled towards the Doctor. “Excellent. Even when powerless, a Time Lord is best contained.”
“Still scared of me, then?” The Doctor reached out and touched the edge of the holding cell. It rippled with blue light.
“It’s time we talked, Doctor,” Davros said. “After so very long.”
“No, no, no, we’re not doing the nostalgia tour. I want to know what’s happening, right here, right now. ‘Cause the Supreme Dalek said Vault, yeah?” The Doctor looked around. “As in dungeon? Cellar? Prison? You’re not in charge of the Daleks, are you? They’ve got you locked away down here in the basement like, what, a servant? Slave? Court jester? No, no. I’ve got the word. You’re the Dalek’s pet!”
Davros moved to Rose. “So very full of fire, is he not? And to think you crossed entire universes, striding parallel to parallel to find him again.” He turned to Lilith. “And you, risking time to defend him. Both his past and his present.”
“Leave them alone,” the Doctor warned.
If Davros had real eyes, he’d be glaring at the Time Lord. “They are mine to do as I please.”
“Then why are we still alive?” Rose asked.
“You must be here. It was foretold. Even the Supreme Dalek would not dare to contradict the prophecies of Dalek Caan.”
“So cold and dark, fire is coming, the endless flames…” the other Dalek said in its creepy sing-song voice.
Rose stared at it. “What is that thing?”
“You’ve met before,” the Doctor said, darkly. “The last of the Cult of Skaro. But it flew into the Time War unprotected.”
“Caan did more than that. He saw time, its infinite complexity and majesty, raging through his mind. And he saw you. All three of you.”
“This I have foreseen, in the wild, and the wind. The Doctor will be here as witness at the end of everything. The Doctor and his precious Children of Time.” Dalek Caan giggled. “The True One will leave and one of them will die!”
“Was it you, Caan? Did you kill Donna?” the Doctor demanded, angrily. “Why did the TARDIS doors close? Tell me!”
“Oh, that’s it! The anger, the fire, the rage of a Time Lord who butchered millions,” Davros taunted. “There he is! Why so shy? Show your child. Show your companion. Show them your true self. Dalek Caan has promised me that, too.”
Caan chuckled. “I have seen. At the time of ending, the Doctor’s soul will be revealed.”
“Shut up,” Lilith hissed at the Dalek.
“We will discover it together, Doctor. Our final journey,” Davros said. “Because the ending approaches, the testing begins.”
“Testing of what?” the Doctor questioned.
“The Reality Bomb.” Davros flicked a switch and another holographic screen appeared, showing a group of humans. “Beheld the apotheosis of my genius!”
They could hear the Supreme Dalek counting down. “Testing calibration of the Reality Bomb! Firing in ten rels, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. Activate planetary alignment field!”
“That’s Z-Neutrino energy flattened by the alignment of the twenty seven planets into a single string.” The Doctor stared at Davros in horror. “No! Davros, you can’t! You can’t! No!”
Lilith swore quietly in Gallifreyan.
On the screen, the humans all dissolved into glowing dust. “Doctor?” Rose asked. “What happened?”
The Doctor couldn’t answer, but Davros did. “Electrical energy, Miss Tyler. Every atom in existence is bound by an electrical field. The Reality Bomb cancels it out; structure falls apart. The test was focused on the prisoners alone. Full transmission will dissolve every form of matter.”
Rose’s eye widened in realization. “The stars are going out…”
“Across the entire universe. Never stopping, never faltering, never fading. People and planets and stars will become dust, and the dust will become atoms, and the atoms will become... nothing. And the wavelength will continue, breaking through the Rift at the heart of the Medusa Cascade into every dimension, every parallel, every single corner of creation! This is my ultimate victory, Doctor! The destruction of reality itself!”
“Prepare for universal detonation! The fleet will gather at the Crucible! All Daleks will return to shelter from the cataclysm! We will become the only life forms in existence!”