shivver13 (shivver13) wrote,

"A Choice of a Lifetime" - chapter 1/6

This is the one I'm the least proud of. It's very rough (mostly unedited), drags on in some parts, and is sometimes very heavy-handed. (Yes, here I am giving reasons not to read this!) However, it's very important to the storyline in this AU, since it sets up all of the rest of the stories. I can see how to fix this thing - what to remove, what to rewrite, what needs to change - but I'm just not sure it's worth the time. I would truly love any criticisms on this, to let me know what's wrong and how I could tighten it up.

I do think the last chapter is rather cool, though.

This story starts at the very last paragraph of The Actor. I'll try to post a chapter a day, but I'm going to be doing some traveling soon so that cadence might get interrupted. After the entire story is posted, I'll post a summary, for those of you who can't quite stomach reading the whole thing. :)

Next chapter

David held the watch in the palm of his hand and lightly traced the symbols on the cover with a trembling finger. Swallowing nervously, he inhaled deep into his chest and let his breath issue slowly from his mouth. He hesitated for one more moment, then set his jaw as his thumb brushed the device's latch. The next moment, the wail of the time rotor crescendoed to fill his ears and the glass floor beneath him bucked. As he was thrown off his feet, the watch popped out of his hand and he crashed to the ground, the device skittering across the floor and clattering down the stairs.

Amy's startled shriek told him that the others were just as surprised as he was by the sudden movement of the TARDIS. He grabbed at the nearby bannister to haul himself up, but the tremors of the ship were so violent, it was all he could do to cling to the railing to keep from tumbling around the console chamber. He had already lost sight of the watch, but he could hear it clanging about below.

As Rory struggled to pin his fiance against the jumpseats to keep her secure, the Doctor shouted his confusion at the TARDIS and launched himself at the console. He grabbed the first thing that his hand met, which turned out to be the free-swinging monitor, and the Time Lord careened around the platform like a chair on a carnival ride. On his second attempt, he managed to latch onto a toggle handle, giving him enough stability to start flipping levers and twisting dials, all the while yelling what David suspected might be Gallifreyan epithets. Though it looked like the Doctor was activating controls at random, the violent shaking began to abate enough that David could find purchase with his feet. With his arms still wrapped around the railing, he leaned over it to peer down toward where he last heard the watch bounce. Whatever might have happened to the TARDIS, the most important thing was to retrieve the chameleon arch and keep it safe.

"All right! Calm down, old girl!" Though the ship was still shuddering, the Doctor planted himself in front of the monitor and studied the screen whilst his hands danced about the hodge-podge of controls, tuning this, adjusting that, and batting at that one lever that never seemed to do anything. "What's the matter this time? We weren't even in the vortex!" Behind him, Amy pushed Rory off of her, impatient to get to the console to see what was wrong.

Hearing the rattle of the watch, David spied it and slipped under the railing to jump down to the main floor as the time rotor slowed for landing. As he landed, the ship jerked again, sending him sprawling with a surprised grunt as his target bounced away from him. The exclamation of pain caught the Doctor's attention, and he swept an arm at Amy and Rory. "Help David! Get the watch safe!" As the two of them acknowledged his commands and ran downstairs, the Doctor froze in dumbfounded confusion. "But this didn't...! What's...?" He pounded the console. "What happened?"

David scrambled to his feet and spotted the watch near the blue double doors, but stopped and gaped for a moment as both doors flew open. His eyes wide with panic, he lunged for the watch, but the TARDIS lurched one final time, and the device bounced out. There was nothing he could do: he had to get it back. Without looking to see where he was going, he sprinted through the doors after the dull brass watch that held his true life force.

His hands tearing at his hair, the Doctor groaned in frustration. "Go after him! We need that watch back. I've got to figure out..." His words trailed off as something flashed on the monitor, catching his attention.

"Right!" Amy grabbed Rory's hand and the couple dashed out of the TARDIS, but they pulled up short at the scene in front of them. In a large gallery with towering marble statues, five armoured men stood in a loose semicircle pointing their various weapons at David, who was kneeling, crouched on the carpet with his hands shielding his head, the tail of his brown overcoat flared out behind him. Not three feet in front of him, the leader stood with his heavy metal boot stepping on the small brass disc. A few other people, garbed in robes, dresses, and tunics, stood to the side, watching nervously. The two guards on the ends advanced on the couple with their swords.

"More demons!" Though the leader's demeanor was commanding, there was an undercurrent of fear in the slight quaver of his voice. "You will submit, or we will cut out your hearts where you stand!"

As Amy's and Rory's hands shot up in surrender, the TARDIS doors slammed shut and the familiar groaning of the time rotor reverberated through the echoing chamber. Everyone whirled to watch as the blue police box faded into nothingness, the guards with terror in their eyes, Amy and Rory with confusion in theirs, and David in astonished horror. Each of the men traced what looked like a protective sigil in the air with their free hands, then turned back to their prisoners.

"No more of your evil magics!" He shook his sword at David. "Get up!"

As David climbed to his feet, Amy pleaded with the leader. "Please! We don't mean any harm. We're here by mistake. All we want is the watch, and we'll leave."

One of the guards stepped forward and hooked David's arm, yanking him away from the leader, who then stooped to pick up the device under his boot. He sneered as he stared at it, flipping it over in his hand. "A demonic artefact, no doubt. The High Father will know what to do with it. Come!" Spinning on his heel, he strode towards the ornate doors at the far end of the room. His men urged the trio forward with their weapons, and they had no choice but to follow as prisoners.

"David, what -" Amy began, but the guard next to her grabbed her arm and silenced her with a growl. Rory moved to protect her with an affronted "Hey!" and was immediately yanked back by the guard behind him.

"Quiet!" the man yelled, and as the TARDIS crew proceeded without another word, Amy jerked her arm out of the guard's grasp. They were led through stately halls hung with lavish tapestries to a polished wooden door embossed with elaborate gold scrollwork. The leader knocked on it, and after a muffled acknowledgement from within, opened the door and gestured for the three prisoners to precede him.

They entered what was obviously an office, plainly decorated except for the rows and rows of shelving covering most of the walls and packed with thick tomes. A man in deep green robes, seated at a large desk covered in papers and more books, rose from his chair. Behind him, the one wall in the room with no shelving was covered almost entirely by a symbol consisting of a complex twist of ribbon within a circle, similar to a Celtic knot but without any simple symmetry.

"What is this, Captain?" The man spoke with an air of command and elegance.

The guard captain gestured at the three. "We caught these intruders in the Hall of Silence, High Father. We brought them to you at once."

"The Hall of Silence? They should never have gotten so far." His brow furrowed slightly as he looked over each of the prisoners.

The captain straightened his shoulders, determined not to admit to any negligence on his part. "They are clearly demons, sire. A blue shack which howled and shrieked appeared there. We all saw it form from nothing. Then its doors opened, and the three of them emerged. Once they stepped out, the doors closed and it disappeared like it arrived."

"It appeared and disappeared, do you say? That certainly sounds suspicious." He nodded sagely. "However, the chariots of holy messengers also appear where they please." The guards jerked and bristled, nervous that if these were indeed envoys from the heavens, they might have offended them. The robed man smirked. "But I highly doubt it, Captain. I am sure that His Holiness would have informed us if he were expecting any such visits." He turned to the prisoners. "I am Cardinal Deretyr, First Servant to His Holiness Orsanal of the High Heavens. Who are you and what are you doing here?"

Amy tried to push past Rory to speak but he held her back, determined to protect her and, if he had to, speak for her. David thus felt that he needed to answer the man himself. "My name is David. Our ship landed here by accident, and we would be happy to leave in peace, but we need the watch that your captain holds."

"A 'watch'?" the leader queried. He gestured at the captain with little patience. "What is this he speaks of?"

"This." The captain held his hand out, revealing the brass disc in his palm. "It flew out of the shack when the doors opened, and this one tried to get it, but I retrieved it first."

"You will surrender that to me!" boomed a voice from the hallway. A robed man strode in, holding his hand out for the watch. "Demonic artefacts are my specialty, as you know." He beckoned peremptorily, and the captain glanced at the cardinal for approval.

Deretyr sighed. "Yes, yes, give it to him." David groaned to himself as the captain stepped over to the newcomer and dropped the watch in his palm. "Captain, search them. They may have more objects of power on them."

The captain nodded to his men, who moved in and patted down their prisoners. Rory protested, "Hey!" as the guard on him thrust a gloved hand into his pocket and pulled out the blue-tipped sonic screwdriver.

"What is this?"

Ignoring the nurse, who stammered out the name of the object, the guard stepped to his captain and handed the tool to him. "This one had this on him."

The captain rolled it in his hand. "Another evil thing!" The newcomer waved him over with an impatient gesture, and with a glance at the cardinal, who nodded, the captain handed him the rod. Inspecting it with the eagerness of a child about to open his birthday present, the man retreated behind the cardinal.

Pursing his lips, Deretyr flicked a dismissive hand at Amy and David. "Take those two to the solitary rooms. This one will talk, if only to get his female back."

As the guards began pushing a screaming Amy and David out of the door, the captain held Rory at bay at swordpoint. "Amy! It'll be ok. I'll get you!"

Once the clatter of armour from the hallway faded away, the cardinal addressed Rory. "Now. Who are you, why have you entered sacred ground, and how did you get so far? Answer carefully, for His Holiness will glean the truth from your soul and punish you accordingly if you lie."

Rory gulped. He had no idea who "His Holiness" was, but fervent religious adherents were often the easiest to offend and the most difficult to convince, and even if he was completely honest, his "truth" was not exactly the easiest to believe. However, honesty was probably best, especially if this man was planning to compare his story with Amy's and David's. "My... my name is Rory. Uh, Rory Williams. I come, I mean, we come from a planet called Earth. We've been travelling with a friend, called the Doctor, in his spaceship that disappears and reappears wherever it likes. I'm not sure why we came here, but we just landed in that big room back there, and David dropped his watch - that's that round thing in his hand behind you. All we want is to get that back, and we'll be gone. Really."

"And this?" The artefact specialist held up the screwdriver. "What is this thing?"

"That belongs to the Doctor. It's his sonic screwdriver. He'd want that back as well, of course."

The cardinal frowned. "And where is this Doctor?" He turned to the guard captain. "Captain Jalla, did you see this other man?"

"No, High Father. Just the shack and these three."

"I don't know where he's gone, sir," interjected Rory, "but he'll be back. The Doctor wouldn't leave us here."

The cardinal stared at Rory, pondering his statements, then shook his head. "None of this makes sense. Why should you come here, to the inner sanctum of the sacred temple, without announcing yourselves?"

"David told you," Rory pointed out. "We came here by accident."

"How do you suddenly appear in the most heavily guarded building in the world by accident?" Deretyr dismissed the notion with a wave of his hand. "Only those who would mean harm to His Holiness would sneak into the temple. But you sneak in with a noisy 'ship', as you call it, and you cannot pretend to go unnoticed in your strange garments. Was it your intention to be captured? Why would that be so?" He turned to the specialist. "Perhaps, Bishop Tullet, these are a trap. They knew we would take these objects, and they mean us some harm. What is your opinion?"

"Let me take a look at them." The bishop stowed the screwdriver in a pocket, then inspected the watch carefully. After a half a minute, he mumbled. "The cover etching is very interesting. Geometric patterns. Pretty, but not much order to them. There is a hinge here, which makes me think that this button here would let it fall open, like a mollusk."

"No!" protested Rory. "Please. Don't open it." Panicking, he couldn't come up with a good reason why not. "It's David's. If you want to see inside of it, he really should be the one who opens it."

"It hides some secret, does it not?" Tullet's tone was triumphant. "Something you don't want us to see. Then we must see it." Holding the watch in one hand, he pressed the button of the watch with the forefinger of the other hand. The cover the watch popped open and golden light burst out, startling the man into dropping it with a surprised cry. As the light filled the room, a cloud of shimmering gold tendrils began to snake out of the device. Tracing protective sigils over their face and chest, Tullet and Deretyr scampered away as Captain Jalla jumped forward and brought the pommel of his sword down on the watch's face. The crystal shattered, the glass shards tinkling across the marble tiles.

"Stop!" cried Rory. Darting forward, he snatched up the watch and tried to close it, but the casing was warped, the cogs inside peeking out from under its bent lip, and the latch was broken. He held the two halves closed as best he could, faint glimmers of light peeking between his fingers. The golden cloud pulsed as it floated in the room, then suddenly sank into the floor.

"What was that?" Tullet was staring at the floor where the mass of energy had disappeared.

"I don't know." Rory shook his head. "I don't think that was supposed to happen."

"I am firmly of the opinion that these three will need to be dealt with by His Holiness himself." Deretyr straightened his robe. "I think we are far out of our depths. Captain, retrieve that object and make sure it stays closed." Jalla brandished his sword at Rory, who glared at him as he handed over the watch. The captain tucked it very carefully into a tight pocket to secure it. "Take him to the cells to await his judgment."

Jalla stared meaningfully at Rory, and the nurse rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I see how this is going." He sighed and walked out of the office, the guard following him closely.

Next chapter

Tags: amy pond, david tennant, doctor who, eleventh doctor, rory williams, the actor au 2, writing

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