Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble, Nerys
Summary: The Doctor investigates one of the most serious time anomalies he's ever encountered, right here on Earth.
Word Count (chapter): 1186
The TIme Lord blinked hard and slapped his hands to his face, trying to scrub a stream of sudden, intense visions out of his mind’s eye. He’d been furiously trying to sort through the incoming invasion reports, which had been landing on his vidscreen so fast that the notifications were scrolling away faster than he could read them, when what seemed like a lifetime of hallucinations flooded him. His first thought was that he’d been attacked somehow, but it hadn’t the feel of a psychic intrusion. Too personal, too familiar, he thought, more like a retroregenerative psychosis, though I’d think this face is too old for that now. Just a momentary breakdown, then. Perhaps stress-induced. That was an understatement. The current situation went far beyond stress. Whatever the episode had been, he couldn’t afford to worry about it now. He had work to do. He forced himself to focus again on his work and promised himself that if they got out of this mess, he’d see a doctor straightaway.
All the images in his head coalesced into an entire alternate timeline centered on that one word, the last person he had seen as it had shattered and reformed into this reality. The Doctor had gotten ahold of the Spear of Rassilon and used it on him, selecting a single moment in his life to tweak, to change the majority of his lives and place him… here and now, he groaned to himself. So this is what revenge is like on the receiving end. An unwinnable situation and a brutal, ignoble death.
But it was more than that. So much had changed. In this reality, he’d never joined the Celestial Intervention Agency and hadn’t spent lives as a temporal spy both on Gallifrey and across the universe. He hadn’t been tasked to change the Doctor’s mistake and thus forced to the front lines of a war for which he’d had no training or experience. In this life, he was a military man, a distinguished commander of the Chancellory Guard for two whole incarnations, who’d volunteered for the army when the planet went to war. He’d led battalions, risen to the rank of colonel, and now served on the General’s commanding staff.
His jaw dropped open as he scanned back through his lives and pinpointed the tiny change the Doctor had made. In his eighty-first year at the Academy, a computer glitch had registered him in the wrong class. That was the moment the timeline had branched. An unexpected elective hadn’t made much of a difference in his education, but for once, he hadn’t been among his usual mates. Instead, he’d met Tharan. Tharan, who’d never left his side since, who’d suggested his temperament was better suited for the Guard than for espionage, who’d given him a reason to remain planetside. Their two children, from two incarnations past for him and one for Tharan, were long grown and had become Time Lords themselves, and they’d planned for more once the war ended. If it ended well.
The Doctor hadn’t sought revenge, hadn’t sent him to his death. He’d given him a partner. A family. A career. A life.
He clapped a hand to his mouth as his eyes followed the notifications flying across his screen, then sprang from his console in the corner of the War Room and dashed out toward comms. As he ducked out into the corridor, he nearly collided with the person he needed to see: the General, returning from ordering more reinforcements to Arcadia in a vain attempt to save the city.
“Sir!” he cried, snapping to attention. “I -”
“Gone through all of the reports already?” the General spat at him. “I suppose it’s easy when all they say is, ‘Daleks have landed!’”
“Yes, sir,” he blurted, “I mean, no, sir, but I’ve got something important to tell you.”
“Then spit it out, Androgar, or you might never get another chance.”
“Sir, it’s the Doctor,” Androgar began, but the General cut him off with an irritable wave of his hand.
“Yes, yes, it’s always the Doctor,” he barked. “What, did he graffiti more walls?”
“No, sir. Not at all.” He swallowed, drumming up his courage. “But there’s something you need to know about him.”
The General tapped his hand on his robes, betraying his irritation. “And what’s that?”
“He’s planning something, sir -”
“We already know that!” the General snapped. “He’s got the Moment and he’s mad enough to use it. Do not waste my time, Androgar.”
“I am not, sir!” Androgar insisted. “I am telling you, the Doctor is not mad.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He is not mad,” Androgar reiterated. “He knows what he’s doing. I don’t know what he’s planning, but, sir, you have to trust him and do what he says.”
The General’s eyes narrowed. “Where did this come from, Androgar? Why are you saying this now?”
Androgar clenched his fists and forced himself to remain calm and rational. “I can’t say, sir,” he replied with deference. “All I know is that he’s trying, and he is our best chance of surviving this. If there’s a way out, he’ll find it.”
The General’s hard gaze bored into Androgar’s eyes for a long moment. Then his nose wrinkled into a brief scowl before he nodded. “I shall take your opinion into consideration.” It was all Androgar could hope for.
An alert blared out of the War Room, and general and colonel turned as one to see the hologram floating above the battlefield monitor in the centre of the room. It proclaimed in tall, clear sigils, “GALLIFREY STANDS”.
“Another one,” Androgar breathed. The Doctor certainly did like his graffiti.
“Are you sure the message is from him?” the General demanded as they strode in and took their places amongst the other officers.
Androgar kept his countenance neutral. “Oh, yes.”
“Why would he do that? What’s the mad fool talking about now.”
He is not mad, Androgar repeated to himself.
A floating holo screen blinked on above their heads, and a figure with floppy hair and an excited grin turned toward them. Androgar didn’t recognise this one.”Hello! Hello! Gallifrey High Command, this is the Doctor speaking.”
Another screen appeared, and the face that appeared was the one that Androgar had last seen only a microspan earlier in some kind of strange subjective time. “Hello! Also the Doctor. Can you hear me?” Hope blossomed in his chest, though he couldn’t help wondering if, after all of these time shifts and, in this “new” timeline, face changes, this Doctor had any idea who he was.
A third screen flashed on, and Androgar saw his old comrade - his old quarry - joining his future incarnations. “Also the Doctor, standing ready.” This Doctor hadn’t a clue; a half century of fighting the Daleks together and trying to save the universe from destruction was now only a fogged memory.
“Dear God, three of them,” the General muttered beside him. “All my worst nightmares at once.”
The Doctor in the pinstripe suit stepped forward. “General, we have a plan.”
And Androgar knew that the war was finally over.