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FIC: The Noble Girl: The Unquiet Dead (5/6)

Title: The Noble Girl – The Unquiet Dead

Rating: T


Author: tkel_paris

Summary: Jenny's random joke possibly triggered the TARDIS to take them to the Victorian Era. The historical aspects – and the clothes – are amazing, but they weren't expecting to actually see Charles Dickens surrounded by ghosts. At Christmas. Written and posted for cassikat's birthday.

Disclaimer: Hugely AU. So no, I own nothing. Also, involves racism and other nasty things.

Dedication: cassikat, of course. Happy birthday, my friend! :D And tardis_mole and bas_math_girl, for beta-reading.

Author's Note: This idea was floating around in my head because I thought that a certain character looked more like another character than the one who was her (sole) parent in canon. And I know cassikat wanted a Nine story without Rose. So we both get our wish here! :D

Everyone has had the idea of taking a character and putting them into a different family situation. So, take one character from Who, transform the circumstances of her birth into something normal (or as normal as one can get in DW), and give her a different family. What do you get? Possibly this story. If you eliminate one other character...

Also, working on this fic made me realize how sheltered the companions who were – well, not of a “different race” appears to be the term even though I don't like using it – were. As if Mickey didn't have enough to deal with in canon; being ignored by his girlfriend for one, the Press that denied his place as the first Black companion, being called an Idiot when he was only playing the fool (which actually makes two things), then he chose to escape the girlfriend by going to a world that had to be at least as intolerant as the one he fled from, and who knows what he dealt with while Rose tried to work that Cannon. Here, I have faced the ethnicity issue head on and... well, read on. You may want a pillow to punch at times, as I have kept it true to the era in which this episode was set. Fair warning.

And as always, please review first with the idea that this was New Who airing for the first time. Then compare. :D Oh, and make sure you've read the whole series, starting with "Jenny". It'll help. A lot. ;D


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four





CHAPTER FIVE: TALKING WITH THE DEAD

The entire group sat themselves around a table in Sneed's dining room. Gwyneth was composing herself at what was usually considered the head of the table. The Doctor sat to her right, then Sneed, Jenny, Mickey, and Dickens rounded out the table. Jenny had to sit next to Sneed since she felt that he would've had a apolectic fit if he had to be near Mickey. Besides, Dickens seemed to hold a measure of respect for Mickey, which raised him in her estimation.


This is how Madam Mortlock summons those from the Land of Mists. Down in Mid Town,” Gwyneth explained. She started to get a little excited over being able to lead, and smiled. “Come. We must all join hands.”

Dickens shook his head. “I can't take part in this,” he declared, getting up.

The Doctor almost snorted. “Humbug? Come on, open mind.”

This is precisely the sort of cheap mummery I try to un-mask. Séances? Nothing but luminous tambourines and a squeeze box concealed between the knees. This girl knows nothing.”

Jenny scowled at him. Good author he was, but his people skills right now left a lot to be desired. Mickey's narrowed eyes told her he was thinking along similar lines.

Now, don't antagonize her,” the Doctor insisted. “I love a happy medium.”

Mickey groaned. “I can't believe you just said that.”

The Doctor ignored Mickey, and Jenny – who swallowed her own noise. “Come on, we might need you.” Dickens frowned at him, but sat down again and joined hands. “Good man,” the Doctor praised. “Now, Gwyneth. Reach out.”

Gwyneth took a deep breath, steadying herself as she spoke. She looked up with her eyes. “Speak to us. Are you there? Spirits?”

Dickens rolled his eyes. Jenny was glad that Gwyneth wasn't paying attention to anything other than her concentration.

Come,” Gwyneth called out. “Speak to us that we may relieve your burden.”

She suddenly raised her eyes to the ceiling. Murmuring came into the room.

Mickey felt chilled. “Can you hear that?”

Nothing can happen,” Dickens declared, as though not hearing the noises. “This is sheer folly.”

Jenny shook her head. “Look at her,” she insisted quietly.

I feel them. I feel them!” As Gwyneth spoke, the blue gas – creatures, Jenny and Mickey now knew – began to fill the ceiling above. Her eyes were fixed on the sight.

Mickey gulped. “What're they saying?”

They can't get through the rift. Gwyneth, it's not controlling you, you're controlling it,” the Doctor soothed. “Now look deep. Allow them through.”

I can't!”

Jenny opened her mouth to beg her to stop then, but the Doctor was too quick. “Yes you can. Just believe it. I have faith in you, Gwyneth. Make the link.”

Gwyneth looked pained to Jenny and Mickey's eyes. Then, as suddenly as the murmurs appeared, she closed her eyes and lowered her head. Suddenly she lifted her gaze and opened her eyes, staring sightlessly behind Jenny. “Yes.”

Three gaseous figures – humanoid in shape – appeared behind her. Dickens' mouth dropped open. So did Jenny and Mickey's.

Great God,” whispered Sneed. “Spirits from the other side!”

The other side of the universe,” the Doctor muttered with a slight smile. He didn't recognize the exact people, but he had a sensation that he knew their kind. He just couldn't put his finger on it yet.

Jenny and Mickey looked at each other. He recognized them?!

Pity us,” the creatures begged in a medely of child-like voices. “Pity the Gelth. There is so little time, help us.” Their voices were filled with agony and despair. And Gwyneth's mouth moved with their words.

If not for the requirements of the séance, the Doctor would've stood to address them. Especially since he knew their species. “What do you want us to do?”

The rift. Take the girl to the rift. Make the bridge.”

Jenny shuddered. She didn't like the sound of that.

What for?” The Doctor didn't feel worried, except for what had happened to the Gelth.

We are so very few. The last of our kind. We face extinction.” Agony rained from the tone.

The Doctor tried to make eye contact, even though they seemed to gaze without focus. “Why, what happened?”

Once we had a physical form like you. But then the war came.”

War?” Dickens interjected. “What war?”

The Time War.”

Jenny and Mickey looked right at the Doctor, who paled as he lowered his gaze, unable to look at the Gelth. The dots connected in their heads – that was the war that had cost him his planet, his people. This had to cut deep.

The whole universe convulsed,” the Gelth continued, seeming unaware of the torment they were causing one member of the room. “The Time War raged invisible to smaller species but devastating to higher forms. Our bodies wasted away. We're trapped in this gaseous state.”

The Doctor took a deep breath. “So that's why you need the corpses.”

We want to stand tall. To feel the sunlight. To live again. We need a physical form, and your dead are abandoned. They're going to waste, give them to us!”

Mickey shivered. “But we can't!”

The Doctor fixed a gaze on him. “Why not?”

The young man squirmed. “It's not... I mean, it's not...” He couldn't find the words to explain his reluctance.

Not decent? Not polite? It could save their lives.” The Doctor knew he would win the staring match with Mickey.

Jenny's eyes flicked back to the Gelth. Was there more to the story? Her instincts were flaring again, but it was something even harder to explain than the perceptions she had of others.

Open the rift. Let the Gelth through. We're dying. Help us. Pity the Gelth!” They disappeared into a lamp and Gwyneth instantly collapsed against the table.

Jenny shot up. “Gwyneth!” Mickey followed her in checking on the woman.

All true,” Dickens breathed.

Jenny drew Gwyneth against her and felt for a pulse. She heaved in relief. “Heartbeat's a bit fast, but she's alive.”

It's all true,” Dickens muttered.

The Doctor was silent, thinking about what had to happen next. He suspected that his companions would need a little explanation before they would come even close to accepting the idea.




In Sneed's drawing room, Jenny was mopping Gwyneth's forehead as she lay asleep on a couch. Mickey and the Doctor stood nearby, the former eyeing the latter – who was leaning against the wall behind Jenny – with concern. “You're not really going to make her do that, are you? How do we know they're telling the truth?”

I saw the Gelth suffering in the Time War.”

Mickey wanted to ask further, but the haunted and tight look he saw encouraged him to keep his mouth shut.

Slowly, Gwyneth's eyes opened, and she fidgeted as awareness kicked in.

It's alright,” Jenny soothed. “You just sleep.”

But my angels, miss,” Gwyneth interrupted. “They came, didn't they? They need me?”

The Doctor stepped forward. “They do need you, Gwyneth. You're their only chance of survival.”

Jenny flashed an angry glare that rivaled her mother for intensity. “Leave her alone,” she growled. “She's exhausted and she's not fighting your battles. Don't you dare make her!”

The Doctor leaned his head back and sighed. This was going to be harder than he thought.

Jenny turned her attention back to Gwyneth, ready with a cup of hot sweet tea. “Here. Drink this.”

Sneed spoke up from his corner. “Well, what did you say, Doctor? Explain it again. What are they?”

Aliens.”

The undertaker stared. “Like... foreigners, you mean?”

Pretty foreign, yeah. From up there.” He pointed skywards.

Sneed looked about twenty steps beyond confused. “Brecon?”

The Doctor shrugged, not inclined to explain it more than necessary. “Close. They've been trying to get through from Brecon to Cardiff but the road's blocked. Only a few can get through and even then they're weak. They can only test drive the bodies for so long, then they have to revert to gas and hide in the pipes.”

Which is why they need the girl,” Dickens mused while he held the glass of wine he had been nursing since they entered the room. He had also shed his jacket.

Mickey whirled on the Doctor. “They're not having her!”

But she can help,” the Doctor insisted. “Living on the rift, she's become part of it. She can open it up, make a bridge and let them through.”

Dickens marveled, “Incredible. Ghosts that are not ghosts but beings from another world who can only exist in our world by inhabiting cadavers.”

Good system. It might work.”

Anything further was halted when Mickey, tossing all cover aside, stood in front of the Doctor like an avenging angel. “You're seriously going to let them run around inside dead people?”

The Doctor blinked at her. “Why not? It's like recycling.”

Mickey shook his head while Jenny was silent, thinking about what to say. He interjected, “Seriously though, you can't.”

Seriously though, I can.”

It's just... wrong!” Mickey tried to find the words to explain his reservations. “Those bodies were living people! Aren't we supposed to respect them even in death?”

Do you carry a donor card?”

The sharp retort left Mickey momentarily speechless. “What's that got to do with it?!”

It's different, that's what you're thinking. It's a different morality. Get used to it or go home.”

They chose to give parts of them to help others. These people don't get a choice, and neither do their families! It's a matter of respect!”

The Doctor sighed and softened his tone. “You heard what they said, time's short. I can't worry about a few corpses when the last of the Gelth could be dying.”

What if they're not telling the whole story?” The room looked at Jenny as she found her voice, her thoughts. “What does history say about this, Doctor? Is this really how things are supposed to go? Can what you're saying really happen? Should it?”

Don't I get a say, miss?” The room turned to look at Gwyneth, who sat up fully. “I see what you're worried about, miss. You're scared about what could happen if the spirits are not angels, and you want to protect people. No one's ever wanted to protect me, so that's nice. You're the first person who hasn't looked at me and thought I'm stupid.”

Mickey's face fell. He'd forgotten how hard a time women had in getting an education. His own ancestors had a lot in common with Gwyneth and the Welsh in general.

Things might be very different where you're from,” Gwyneth allowed. “But here and now, I know my own mind. And the angels need me. Doctor, what do I have to do?”

The Doctor paused a moment, knowing he had to make sure it was truly her choice. “You don't have to do anything.”

They've been singing to me since I was a child,” Gwyneth declared. “Sent by my mum on a holy mission. So tell me.”

The Doctor smiled at her. Holy mission? Well, if that comforted her she could believe it. “We need to find the rift.” He turned toward Sneed and Dickens, focusing more on the owner. “This house is on a weak spot, so there must be a spot that's weaker than any other. Mr. Sneed. What's the weakest part of this house: the place where most of the ghosts have been seen?”

The answer came promptly. “That would be... the Morgue.”

Jenny rolled her eyes and groaned. “How did I know you were going to say that?”

Everyone looked at her like she wasn't helping. Except Mickey, who sent the tiniest and briefest smile possible her way. He understood she felt weird over this. He certainly did. “Wasn’t a chance you were going to say gazebo, was that?” he added defeatedly.




With the men all wearing their jackets and Jenny her cloak, Sneed turned his key and they all trouped into the Morgue, led by the Doctor. He looked around. Corpses covered in white sheets were on nearly every table, one to each. It had floors that looked unfinished to Jenny and Mickey's modern eyes, and walls so dark they looked like faded black. “Talk about Bleak House.”

It didn't even get a reaction from Dickens. And he wrote it.

Mickey shook his head. “The thing is, Doctor – the Gelth don't succeed. 'Cause I know they don't. I know for a fact there weren't corpses walking around in 1869. That's hard to conceal from the history books.”

The Doctor fixed a stare on him. “Time's in flux. It's changing every second. Your cozy little world could be rewritten like that.” He clicked his fingers. “Nothing is safe. Remember that. Nothing.”

Not even our births?” Jenny demanded. “Doesn't that mean my family could be wiped out before I'm even born? I know about paradoxes, but what could go wrong?”

The Doctor's eyes widened. It wasn't a possibility he wanted to think about. How had she figured out it could happen? His musing was interrupted by Dickens noting, “Doctor – I think the room is getting colder.”

Here they come,” Mickey muttered, shivering from a mixture of emotions. They watched as the Gelth flooded into the room. More of them this time.

One positioned itself in an archway. In the voice of a young female child, it called out. “You have come to help! Praise the Doctor! Praise him!”

Promise you won't hurt her!” cried Jenny and Mickey.

Hurry!” the voice begged. “Please. So little time. Pity the Gelth.”

I'll take you somewhere else after the transfer,” the Doctor announced. “Somewhere you can build proper bodies. This isn't a permanent solution, alright?”

Jenny and Mickey flinched. Neither felt easy about this, she more so.

My angels,” Gwyneth breathed. “I can help them live.”

The Doctor nodded. No going back. “Okay, where's the weak point?”

Here,” the child-like voice cried, “beneath the arch.”

Gwyneth walked herself there. “Beneath the arch,” she repeated.

Jenny rushed forward, stopping her just short of being underneath. “You don't have to do this,” she pleaded. “So much could go wrong.”

With a suddenly happy smile, Gwyneth placed her hands on Jenny's cheeks. “I must help my angels. And do not fret, Jenny. Your family will be reunited, when you most desperately want it, Restorer.”

Jenny staggered backwards, shocked. Mickey took her in his arms, trying to comfort her.

As Gwyneth moved fully under the arch, the Gelth cried, “Establish the bridge, reach out to the Void, let us through!”

Yes. I can see you!” Gwyneth's eyes shone like she'd found her calling and her hands drifted a little away from her sides. “I can see you! Come!”

Bridgehead establishing.” The Gelth's words provoked Mickey and Jenny to clutch each other.

Come!” called Gwyneth. “Come to me! Come to this world, poor lost souls!”

It is begun! The bridge is made!” Gwyneth's body went stiff. “She has given herself to the Gelth!” Her mouth opened and more Gelth poured out of the glowing opening. Her eyes lifted slightly to the ceiling.

The five other people ducked instinctively as the creatures flowed throughout the room. Dickens shuddered. “There's rather a lot of them, eh?”

The bridge is open. We descend.” The speaking figure suddenly turned demonic and it turned from blue to red. The Gelth will come through in force,” it declared triumphantly.

The Doctor's eyes widened as Dickens exclaimed, “You said that you were few in number!”

A few billion. And all of us in need of corpses.” One of the bodies in the room removed its cover, showing a bearded male as it sat upright.

Sneed moved toward his servant, not quite desperate but closing in on panic. “Gwyneth... stop this! Listen to your master! This has gone far enough. Stop dabbling, child, leave these things alone. I beg of you--”

Jenny and Mickey spotted the corpse coming up behind him. “Mr. Sneed! Get back!”

But it was too late. The male corpse grabbed Sneed and held him still to snap his neck. Another of the Gelth flew into his body through his mouth. Sneed's body sank to its knees. The Doctor, Jenny, Mickey and Dickens leaped back. Dickens was separated from them. Sneed suddenly looked up at the trio through blank, dead eyes.

I think it's gone a little bit wrong,” the Doctor said.

You think?!” Jenny snapped, her mother's Chiswick tone coming out in force.

I have joined the legions of the Gelth,” the Gelth in Sneed's body said in his voice. “Come. March with us.”

No!” Dickens screamed as Sneed's corpse rose and his companion advanced on the Doctor, Jenny, and Mickey.

We need bodies,” the Gelth said, more voices rising to join as they backed the trio towards a dungeon gate. “All of you. Dead. The human race. Dead.”

Gwyneth, stop them!” the Doctor shouted. “Send them back! Now!”

She didn't seem to hear.

Three more bodies,” the demon Gelth announced. “Make them vessels for the Gelth.”

Dickens shook his head hard. “I-- I can't! I'm sorry!” It slowly dawned on him that the corpses were ignoring him. “This new world of yours is too much for me!”

The Doctor looked behind him, spotting the dungeon gate. He swiftly pushed Jenny and Mickey in there with him and slammed it shut. He locked it behind them, sealing them in there.

It's too much for me! I'm so--” Dickens rushed from the Morgue as one of the Gelth screeched and swooped at him.

The corpses reached to get in the dungeon, rattling the door. But unable to reach the trio.

Give yourself to glory,” the voice cried as the Gelth stared at them, unable to reach them yet. “Sacrifice your lives for the Gelth.”

I trusted you. I pitied you!” the Doctor shouted back.

Jenny let out a strangled oath. Mickey swallowed his own.

We don't want your pity! We want this world and all its flesh.” The rattling grew worse.

Not while I'm alive,” the Doctor declared.

Jenny and Mickey both knew those were famous last words. It still didn't prepare them to hear, “Then live no more.”




Dickens ran out of the room, down the hall and hurriedly opened the door. He panted in relief. But blue gas seeped around the door and formed into one of the creatures. It followed him out to the street where he kept running.


Chapter Six: An Unsung Heroine

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