The War On Earth (7/8)

Title: The War On Earth
Author: sarah531
Rating: PG13, possibly bordering on R
A Sequel To: Turn of the Earth and all related ficlets (but it just about makes sense without it)
Characters: Trisha Delaney, Shareen Costello, Maggie and Thomas Finch (Clive’s wife and son), Elton Pope, many OCs
Summary: Bad Wolf went everywhere, including people’s heads. That in itself would be troublesome enough without half a million Daleks destroying your planet. Or having the man who changed your life leave to defend an alternate universe. Or knowing that the person who saved Rose Tyler is not coming to save you.

Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five
Part six

Deux ex machina. That was what it called. Or dea ex machina. God from the machine.

They walked. Trisha threw her piece of rock from one hand to the other. No-one was saying much. They entered the flat and climbed the stairs, climbed until they reached Howard’s place. It was the nearest. Half the party stood ineffectually in the doorway.

“I want my mum,” Alex said tonelessly. “I want my mum and I want Lloyd.”

“Where did Lloyd go, honey?” Rob asked her, in a voice Trisha had never heard him use before.

“I dunno. Just out. Mum went to work.” She was crying now, the tears falling down onto tangled locks of hair. “I don’t know where they are! And the phones aren’t working.”

Nothing to do except wait, Trisha thought. The god from the machine didn’t stick around to fix phone lines. She wanted to cry herself, but kept it in. Howard turned on the TV. Nothing. Then he tried the radio, and they got short static bursts with words between them.

Torchwood.” said the radio. “Torchwood Tower-”

And then it flickered off. They stood around in silence.

“We’d better…be getting back?” Shareen’s mother finally spoke up. “If…if nothing more is coming…”

“I’d like to stay with Trisha if that’s okay,” Shareen said. She was staring into the middle distance, not looking at anybody. “Yeah?”

“We’ll stay here then,” Shania said. She too looked as though the truth of the situation was only just starting to dawn. She sat on the sofa, then got up and stared out of the window. Howard started to quietly take food from his cupboards and make a fruit salad.

*****

Nobody could stomach any food, though. Roger was sick again, in Howard’s bathroom this time. Maggie sat with Thomas. Alex cried, and Rob held her. It stayed like that for half a hour.

Elton sat down next to Trisha and Shareen.

“Torchwood,” he whispered. “I read up about Torchwood.”

Both girls figured there was something major coming. “Yeah?” Shareen whispered back. No-one was raising their voice. “What about it?”

“I know how it started,” Elton said. “It’s an interesting story.”

“Let’s hear it,” Trisha said, shivering.

Elton leaned towards her. “Well, y’see…once upon a time, in Scotland…there was a bad wolf.”

He glanced at Trisha. She bit her lip and did nothing.

“A bad wolf?” Shareen said. “Like…what? A werewolf?”

“Yeah. A werewolf. At least that’s what the legends say. A werewolf at the Torchwood Estate. They also make mention of a visiting Doctor,” Elton went on, “and he might have had some wild girl with him. They were banished from the Empire. Queen Vic didn’t think too much of them…I guess. Even though I think they saved her from the werewolf. And she set up Torchwood to fight aliens, like them.”

He finished there. Trisha tried to sort it all out, but Shareen did it quicker.

“Did Torchwood…what do they have to do with what happened today?” Her voice quivered. “I heard that name on the radio and stuff. Who are they? Do you know, Elton?”

“Sort of,” Elton said. “If we heard about them on the radio today- they must have had something to do with it. People say- I honestly dunno about this one- people say Torchwood set up base in Canary Wharf. And that was where the Cybermen went, remember?”

Trisha choked, “So…”

“Did the Doctor do this?” someone said. Trisha looked up, and Thomas Finch, who was barely older than her little brother, was standing up with hatred in his eyes. “Did he do this? Did he g-get Torchwood started a-a-and they brought the monsters and he did it?” His fists were clenched and he was shaking. Maggie pulled at his t-shirt. She looked very tired.

“Come on, Thomas. Sit down.”

“The bad wolf,” Trisha breathed.

Everybody’s dead!”

“The bad wolf started this. And it’s written on the walls right across London!”

There was silence. Most people in the room looked confused, but slowly all eyes went to Elton.

“I dunno how much of that is true,” he admitted. “It came from lots of different sources. Ursula and my mates, they told me some of that stuff…I dunno.”

“Sounds plausible to me,” Howard said.

“Lloyd’s dead,” Alex sobbed. There was no proof of that yet, but she clearly was not optimistic. “Oh god, they’re all dead!”

Suddenly it wasn’t quiet anymore- there was more noise in the room than Trisha could stand.

“He’s not dead,” Rob said fiercely. “I swear, Alex! They’re all alright.”

“But Bad Wolf was something to do with Rose,” Shareen said. “Oh Christ, it’s time travel again, isn’t it? It’s so fucked up.”

“Time travel?” Shania asked.

Trisha left the room, went to the window, and stared out. People were started to gather outside the flats. There was a blonde boy walking forwards, but he wasn’t close enough for Trisha to see him properly.

“He didn’t do it on purpose,” Elton murmured. “If that’s even how it happened.”

Alex sobbed, burying her face in Rob’s shoulder.

“Well, very few people would do something like that on purpose,” Howard said.

“Who’s the Doctor?” Shareen’s father said timidly.

“Can I explain later?” Shareen said.

“Alex!” Trisha yelled.

Alex shot to the window. “What? Is Lloyd out there? My mum?” She pushed her face to the glass, leaving her tears smeared across it. “Are they alright?”

“There’s Lloyd,” Trisha said. “Please tell me that’s him.”

Alex let out a little shriek. She raced to the door, flung it open, and tore down the corridor. Trisha ran after her, not knowing what to do, and Shareen and most of the others followed on. They ran down all the stairs, through the back door and outside into the cold air. Lloyd was sitting on a wall, staring at his mobile phone.

Lloyd!” Alex shouted.

He looked up and saw her. He jumped to his feet instantly.

“Alex! Oh God, Alex!”

They crushed each other in a hug, both of them crying but Alex more. Trisha looked and saw Elton behind her, a sad smile on his face.

“What about Mum?” Alex asked, when her brother let her go. “Have you seen her?”

Lloyd shook his head.

Trisha started to cry then. She couldn’t help it- the emotions she’d forced down were fighting their way through her. She took Alex’s hand. She could do nothing else.

*****

Alex and Lloyd slept at Howard’s place, neither wanting to return to their dark and empty flat. Rob stayed with Alex there. Everyone else took refuge with the Delaneys, not wanting to venture out until morning at least. Roger had no objections to any of this, and Trisha was surprised but somewhat grateful.

It was precisely 11: 27 (the time was flickering red on the clock radio) when Trisha, cradling a cup of coffee and sitting next to Shareen, heard Maggie’s voice from the dark of the living room.

“Elton? I have a question.”

All the others, in their various positions around the flat, glanced up at this, possibly thinking another revelation was on its way.

“Yeah?” Elton said. He swallowed, as if he’d been expecting this all evening. “What question?”

“What happened to Ursula?”

It was a tremendously dramatic question- although diminished by the fact that the day’s drama quota had been thoroughly fufilled already- but to his credit, Elton didn’t give a dramatic answer, I killed her or anything in that vein. He looked Maggie in the eye and said, “Are you sure you want to hear about it?”

“Yes,” Maggie said, almost before he’d finished speaking.

Elton glanced around at his audience- everybody in the room- and swallowed again and said, “Well, you know what happened to her first.” A few people in the room nodded. Trisha made a mental note to try and explain all this to the others once things had calmed down.

“And we were alright for a while, we honestly were,” Elton said. “We were normal as things could get under the circumstances. She was still Ursula. But, you know…slowly over time, we started to argue about things. Maybe we’d have done that anyway. Maybe everyone does that.” He glanced at the floor, and out of the corner of her eye Trisha saw her mother glance at the floor as well. “Yeah. Just little arguments, but they got worse and worse. She…she started telling me she felt like just my possession, or a…a s-s-sex toy, and I didn’t know what to do!” He looked right at Maggie again. “I suppose that would have to have happened, wouldn’t it?” He blinked furiously. “You can have magic wands and clever solutions but you can’t change how people feel. And that was how she felt. Hell, if I was the one stuck in a bit of rock I’d probably have felt the same, but it wasn’t me it happened to,” He lifted his hand to his face to check for tears. “So we fought. A bit. Sometimes. And it got worse, and she’d start saying she wished all of us had just let her die, and…and one day I snapped back at her. I can’t remember what I said…” But his eyes showed plainly that he could, and that what he had said had been nasty. “But it wasn’t…good. I said if she felt like that, if she felt like rejecting her second chance why didn’t she do it-” A short pause. “And she did.”

Everyone was quiet. No-one demanded a better explanation, or even spoke their own opinion out loud. Elton was staring at Maggie intently: it was like they were the only ones in the room.

Maggie said simply, “Oh.”

“How did she do it?” Thomas said. His eyes were wide. “I mean…how?”

Elton gave a sad little shrug. “I don’t know. But I don’t see why she wouldn’t be able to, if she wanted. Technically half of her was already dead- the heart wasn’t there. That was plain magic keeping her alive, and you can reject magic whenever you like.”

There was an almost-silence this time. Trisha became aware of the noises outside: sirens and alarms. The day wasn’t over, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be alright in the morning. She slurped her coffee.

“We all have our rocks,” Elton said. Trisha thought that was directed at her, but she didn’t know what it meant, and she figured he didn’t know either.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Maggie said. She was blinking back tears herself. “You didn’t know that would happen.”

“No.”

Maggie said nothing after that. She just looked at him, and Trisha purposely stared at the floor instead: this was a private moment. Then Maggie sighed, and took Elton’s hand, and led him to the kitchen for some tea.