DISCLAIMER: The mighty Beeb owns Dr Who in all its incarnations. And Russell T Davies is a genius.
CHALLENGE: Written for the 'Last Year of Our Life' challenge - spoilers for the Doctor Who series three finale.
SPOILERS: Will help if you've watched Season 2 Age of Steel. Set at the end of (new) series 3.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

First Rule
By Celievamp


Angela Price wasn't just one to sit by and let the world go to hell without doing something to stop it. She'd been unable to prevent her youngest son being victim of the 'Decimation' on the first day the Toclafane arrived and she'd seen far too many people die since. Families had been split up sent to different labour camps. She thought her ex-husband was up near Glasgow and her oldest son she'd had word of somewhere down near Liverpool. Conditions were bad there but he was doing okay. He was like her, a scrapper. He would survive.

Within a couple of weeks of being sent to the Jarrow work camp she'd found herself the person everyone went to for advice, to make the decisions. She'd always been active in the community – had even stood for the council once or twice over the years but this was the first time people seemed to really take notice of her for herself, not just as Mickey Price's other half or Mark and Daniel's mum. If the circumstances weren't so fucking dire, she might even have enjoyed it. "Okay people, down to business. First: We need a better supply route for drugs into the camp, particularly antibiotics – tetracycline especially. And one that stops the black marketers getting them first. Two more kids have come down with that bacteriological infection. If the Toclafane find out they'll just sterilize the area," she told the huddled group of people in the basement of the old apartment block.

Everyone knew what that meant. The Toclafane only tolerated children in the camps if they were healthy. Small fingers and small bodies could get places that adults couldn't get. They also seemed to have a higher tolerance for the radiation given off by the rocket engines. That didn't get them any special privileges however. First sign of weakness and they were killed.

"We've stripped the Royal, the General and every doctor's surgery and clinic in the city and across the river," Jake said. "There's scrap teams heading north tomorrow out past Ashington - we could tell them to keep a look out for likely sources."

Most of Newcastle and Gateshead was in ruins, everything that could be broken up for its metal content and carted off to make the rockets for the Master's fleet had long been done so. No one there, especially not the home-grown 'Geordies' had been able to stop from shedding a tear when the iconic bridges across the Tyne had come down and the Angel of the North had been toppled from his stance.

"Is there any progress on bringing down one of the spheres – seeing what these bastards really look like?" Angela had some ideas on that herself. She'd seen people try to take them down with dynamite, bricks, bullets, acetylene torches… even drop a building on one. The little spheres just kept on coming. The one thing the Toclafane didn't seem to respond well to was a strong electrical field.

"Only rumours," Jake said. "It's like all the other rumours. Everyone knows someone who's stood next to someone in a food line…"

"Who's actually talked to Martha Jones," the pony-tailed young woman who'd introduced herself as 'Dorothy' said. There was a chorus of muted laughter. Dorothy was new to the camp, a munitions and demolitions expert brought in by the Toclafane to speed up the recycling programme. Her work here was nearly done though, she'd be moved on again soon. What the Toclafane didn't know was that Dorothy was also active in the resistance, a vital communications link between the camps.

"We know they don't do well in intense electrical fields," Mrs Moore said. "That's a weakness we can probably exploit."

"We'd need a pretty powerful generator," Dorothy said. "And something to keep it in once we catch it, stop it talking to the others calling in the troops on us."

"Faraday cage," Angela said abruptly. They all looked at her. "Hey, I studied physics, back in the day, okay. A Faraday cage stops all electromagnetic fields dead. Isolates what's inside from what's outside. No communication, no weapons hopefully. They're supposed to be pretty easy to build."

"I could help you with that," Dorothy said.

Angela hadn't been ready to trust the new girl at first but Dorothy had proven herself. Angela had been a computer tech before the world went to hell, she had always had an affinity for science and electrical systems. Now her boys were grown she had seriously considered going back to college getting herself properly qualified. Before everything went to hell anyway.

"Great, I can use all the help I can get. There's a few old storage containers that are still intact at the back of the compound. We can use one of those as the shell, rig it up."

The next day Dorothy and Angela secreted themselves at the far side of the compound intent on rigging up one of the storage containers as an impromptu Toclafane containment unit. They worked well together, and soon had the power couplings rigged.

"So you've met this Martha Jones."

"No… not exactly," Dorothy said. "But I know who she is… what she is. The guy she talks about."

"This mysterious alien…"

"The Doctor. I used to travel with him, a long time ago now. I was only a kid, a real trouble maker. I called myself 'Ace' of all things, back then. Talk about trying to overcompensate. Anyway, the Doctor, he saved my life, got me out of a bad situation, showed me things… places… you can't imagine. He turned me around gave me a purpose."

"So you've seen… other planets, aliens… it's all real." The two women flattened themselves against a wall as a trio of Toclafane spheres drifted past their hiding place talking amongst themselves in their weird childlike voices.

"Quick… under here," Dorothy whispered, pulling Angela down. They shimmied into the crawlspace under the hut. Angela was aware of Dorothy's body pressed against hers in the narrow space, the faint scent of soap and shampoo pleasant above the dank earthy smell, the stink of oil and grease and brick dust that seemed to permeate everything and everyone these days. Even though they were all packed in the huts like battery hens she hadn't been this close to anyone for a long time. Some might say that this wasn't the time or the place but this past year had taught everyone that the present moment was a precious thing. She rested her head on the other woman's shoulder for a moment, drawing comfort from her presence, her strength of spirit. She felt Dorothy's hand touch her cheek. The sheer rush of emotion was overpowering for a moment and she lowered her head breathing deeply. Christ, living on the edge so long even that simple touch was like having the most mind blowing sex. One day, she vowed to herself. One day she'd get through this and she and Dorothy would have their time in a proper bed, on clean sheets with soft music playing and a bottle of good wine in a cooler waiting for them. And strawberries. And chocolate. The Toclafane forgotten for a moment she stared at Dorothy in the dim light, drinking in every curve, every inch of her. She realized that Dorothy was studying her just intently. This woman who claimed to have traveled to the stars to have traveled with the Doctor. Angela realized that she believed her. "What am I saying… of course it's bloody real. Which means the Doctor is real." And you are real and what I am feeling right now is real.

"Yes, he is. I think you'd like him. He'd like you," Dorothy smiled. "I like you."

Angela shook her head. "Just when you think you've heard everything… So how come it's this Martha Jones that's out preaching goodness and faith and not you."

"We all have our strengths, Angela. First rule of survival: play to your strengths. Yours is organizing all of this, keeping everyone together, everyone focused. Mine's blowing things up. We just have to trust that Martha and the Doctor play to their strengths and will put things right again afterwards."

The End

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