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Title: Altered History: The Runaway Bride
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T (language, Donna anger, Doctor anger)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Donna Noble's wedding day wasn't what she expected. Disappearing, kidnapped by robots (twice!), being attacked, and learning she had a worthless fiancée. But the most unsettling part is her savior: an alien ponce who makes all Human men look bad. Even when he is acting like the Spaceman that he is.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm taking the Whoniverse and meddling drastically with it.
Special Author's Note: This opening is listed a little different. A special dedication will be at the end of the chapters. Why? I'm trying to surprise at least some of you. If I say right here what brought about this story, I think it'll spoil it. Suffice to say... be prepared for a ride.
Dedication: Two this time. One is cassikat, who I owe more of The Noble Girl to. So sorry, my friend. I hope this compensates a bit. I know I owe you for birthday and Christmas. And also to hezikiah, whose birthday prodded me to rush to get the first chapter ready and posted. And yes, I owe you a prompt. Muse stalled on it, hard. And a huge thanks to tardis_mole for awesome beta work.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five


Altered History: The Runaway Bride

Started February 25, 2017
Story Unfinished as of start of posting
Finished March 17, 2017



Chapter Note: Since the release of “The Runaway Bride”, the scientific understanding surrounding the Earth's formation and the start of life has been changed. A hypothesis from decades ago has become widely accepted and is now taught in science museums. As my beta could tell you, it's more than possible for what's being taught to drastically change in just ten years, never mind what changes over a century. But for Doctor Who it means that the formation shown in TRB is wrong. So I've taken the liberty of showing what could have been done instead to show the Theia Impact.


Chapter Six: Innerspace and Outerspace

The voice seemed to come from everywhere as the one walls without anything on it slid upwards. It revealed a secret chamber, huge, square and empty, lined with bare concrete, but with a flight of steps off to one side and a ledge around the perimeter some three meters above the floor. The Doctor's attention was caught by the enormous round hole in the floor.

“I have waited so long, hibernating at the edge of the universe... until the secret heart was uncovered and called out to waken!” the voice declared.

At the same instant, the Doctor noticed two things. One was that Lance had fled, something he had expected but that Donna hadn't noticed yet. Or if she had, she was too distracted by the being's words. And second, the walls of the chamber were lined with Roboforms. These lacked the Santa disguise. Their normal masks were exposed, and they wore black hoods as they turned to train their weapons on them.

The Doctor held a hand back toward Donna, silently signaling that she should stay close. He suspected that it was her best chance, and he was grateful that her shock was enough that she followed closely. Once they were close enough, he looked a little down the hole. “Someone's been digging. How very Torchwood. Drilled by laser. How far down does it go?”

“Down and down, all the way to the centre of the Earth!”

“Wait, wait, wait... What for?”

“Dinosaurs.”

Donna's sudden word started him. “What?”

“Dinosaurs?” she asked.

“What about dinosaurs? Why would dinosaurs be down at the centre of the Earth?”

“There was a film, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, with dinosaurs. Trying to help!” she protested at his narrowed look.

“Well, we'll have to see. Nothing should be able to survive those temperatures.”

“Such a sweet couple,” the voice mocked.

The Doctor felt his patience slipping away. He turned around, walking a little around Donna as he addressed the voice. “In my long experience, only a madman talks to thin air. Obviously you've never heard of me or you wouldn't want to make me mad. Where are you?”

“High in the sky, floating so high on Christmas Night,” the voice bragged.

“If you think I came all this way to talk on the intercom, you are mistaken! So come out! Let's have a look at you!”

“Who are you with such command?”

That kind of tone never sat well with any of his people, the one thing he definitely had in common with them. Even if they were equally guilty of it. “I'm the Doctor,” he proclaimed testily.

A brief pause, and then the answer came. “Prepare your best medicines, doctor-man, for you will be sick at heart.”

A large figure teleported into the chamber, and then snarling and growling hit their ears. Donna recoiled at the sight of giant, red-toned creature. The torso looked Human enough and was the size of a typical female, but the arms, top of the head, and body were anything but. Below the torso it was the type of spider that made the stuff of nightmares. Claws were in the place of hands, proportioned to the body. And the head had extra eyes on her hard crown head, although it was hard to tell how many of them actually saw anything. Although she had a sickly feeling that perhaps they all saw too much.

The Doctor's eyes went huge. “The Racnoss... Y-You're one of the Racnoss...! But that's impossible!”

“Empress of the Racnoss,” the being said, imperiously.

“If you're the Empress, where did the rest of the Racnoss go? Or are you the only one?”

“Such a sharp mind.”

The praise felt nothing like it. “That's it, the last of your kind. Something that makes anyone turn mad.” He leaned back to address Donna, explaining things he knew both from being taught and from genetic memory. “The Racnoss come from the Dark Times, billions of years ago, billions. They were carnivores, omnivores, they devoured whole planets.”

The Empress had snarled throughout the explanation, but his words caught her attention. “Racnoss are born starving, is that our fault?” she snapped.

Donna's recoil was stronger this time. “They eat people?” she squawked.

He was about to answer, but something caught his eye. “H C Clements, what kind of shoes did he wear? Were they... black and white? Whatever they're called?”

Her eyes lit in memory. “He did! We used to laugh, we used to call him the fat cat in spats.”

He winced and pointed to a web on the ceiling. Donna looked up to see a pair of black and white shoes still attached to a body, just poking out of the web. “Oh, my God!” she cried.

The Empress was happy. “Mm, my Christmas dinner,” she bragged, cackling.

The Doctor shook his head and narrowed his eyes at the Empress. “You shouldn't even exist! Long ago in history, the Fledgling Empires went to war against the Racnoss, who were wiped out,” he explained to Donna.

As he explained, they both saw Lance step onto a balcony above the Racnoss', silently. He was holding an axe. Lance motioned to Donna to stay silent.

“Except for me,” the Empress declared, proudly.

Donna found her courage and decided to distract the Empress. “But that's what I've got inside me, that Huon energy thing. Oi! Look at me, lady, I'm talking. Where do I fit in? How comes I get all stacked up with these Huon particles?”

The Doctor was impressed with Donna's determination. He hoped that as Lance descended the stairs, axe at the ready, would prove to have some worth. But something in Lance's manner told him not to be too optimistic.

“Look at me, you!” Donna demanded, keeping the being's attention. “Look me in the eye and tell me.”

“The bride is so feisty!”

“Yes, I am! And I don't know what you are, you big... thing. But a spider's just a spider and an axe is an axe! Now, do it!”

Lance swung the axe. The Empress whipped her torso around and hissed. But then he stopped, glancing round at Donna. Suddenly he started to laugh and lowered the axe. The Empress laughed with him as he said to her, “That was a good one. Your face!”

She turned back to look at Donna and the Doctor, the latter's face hardening as things began to make sense. “Lance is funny,” the Empress said.

“What??” Donna blurted.

The Doctor touched her arm. “I'm sorry,” he whispered.

“Sorry for what? Lance, don't be so stupid! Get her!”

“God, she's thick,” Lance said, harsh and cold. He seemed completely aware of her looking right back at him, utterly confused. “Months I had to put up with her. Months. A woman who can't even point to Germany on a map.”

“I don't understand,” Donna said, weakly.

The Doctor touched her arms to turn her to look away from Lance. “How did you meet him?”

“In the office,” she said quietly, like she couldn't quite believe he had forgotten.

“He made you coffee. That's how the Huons got into you. It was the coffee.”

“What??” she breathed.

“Every day, I made you coffee,” Lance said, witheringly.

The Doctor's speculation finally solidified. “I suspect that you had to be dosed with liquid particles over six months.”

“He was poisoning me?” she said, the pin dropping as it crushed her dreams.

He nodded and let go to confront Lance. “It was all there in the job title -- the Head of Human Resources.”

“This time, it's personnel,” he bragged, laughing in tune with the Empress.

“Was Donna the only one you poisoned? Or was she the only one who it seemed to take in?”

“She was the easiest to dose,” Lance smirked. “The ones who didn't get sick from it to begin with were all collected for the Racnoss.”

Donna made one last attempt to salvage the memories she had treasured, even in the face of her fiancée being involved in something so horrible to her colleagues. “But... we were getting married.”

Lance's words were nasty, sharp, and aimed to cut deep. “Well, I couldn't risk you running off. I had to say yes. And then I was stuck with a woman who thinks the height of excitement is a new flavour Pringle. Oh, I had to sit there and listen to all that yap yap yap -- "oh, Brad and Angelina -- is Posh pregnant?" X Factor, Atkins Diet, Feng Shui, split ends, text me, text me, text me. Dear God, the never ending fountain of fat, stupid trivia.”

The Doctor thought about interrupting Lance more than once, because he couldn't think of anything that could justify speaking to anyone like that. Even when he confronted the Master and had to pop his ego – which kept happening, against all odds – he was not deliberately cruel. But what stayed him was the need to consider how to get them out of the chamber, because he did not want them to capture Donna for whatever they wanted.

Yet he kept a gentle hold on Donna's shoulder to try giving her an anchor against the storm. Sadly she seemed to be unaware.

“I deserve a medal,” Lance finished, the contempt for Donna choking the room.

“Wait, wait, wait... A medal? Is that what you have been offered? By the Empress? What are you? Her consort?” He let his own contempt for the idea dripping from every word. He wished he could've had him right before him, like with Arnold Korns after the unreasonable manager had led Trisha Tomorrow to her death. Although in Korns' defence, he was simply an arrogant person who could be humbled. Not a villain like Lance was proving to be.

“It's better than a night with her.”

Donna had to make one final plea, and it made the Doctor close his eyes briefly in compassion. “But I love you.”

Lance was practically smug in his nastiness. “That's what made it easy. It's like you said, Doctor -- the big picture -- what's the point of it all if the Human Race is nothing? That's what the Empress can give me. The chance to... go out there. To see it. The size of it all. I think you understand that, don't you, Doctor?”

“Motives never compensate for bad means,” the Doctor instantly countered. “If you think I can justify using an innocent person for selfish reasons, then you have underestimated me.”

“Who is this little physician?” the Empress asked Lance.

“She said Martian.”

The Doctor was definitely not going to give the straight answer. Not until he was certain he had the advantage over the Racnoss and Lance. “Oh, me? I'm a sort of... traveler. But the point is, what's down here? The Racnoss are extinct. What's going to help you four thousand miles down? That's just the molten core of the Earth. How can anything survive that?”

“I think he wants us to talk,” Lance said, almost sing-song like.

“I think so too,” the Empress agreed.

“Well, tough! All we need is Donna!”

“Kill this chattering little doctor-man!” she commanded the Roboforms.

“Don't you hurt him!” Donna cried, stepping in-between the Doctor and the robots.

The Doctor tried to move Donna behind him. “No, no, it's all right.”

She was implacable. “No, I won't let them!”

“At arms!” the Empress cried, ignoring Donna.

As the robots pointed their guns at the Doctor, he reached into his pocket. “You're really going to risk hitting Donna?!”

“They won't hit the bride,” she hissed at him. “They're such very good shots.”

“Wait, wait, wait! You've forgotten something important,” the Doctor declared as he produced the vial from earlier. “When the particles activated in Donna they drew her inside my spaceship. So, reverse it... and my spaceship comes to her,” he added as he twisted the dial, but in the opposite direction than before. The particles glowed both in the tube and Donna, startling her.

“Take aim!” the Empress shouted as the TARDIS materialized around the Doctor and Donna. “Fire!”

They barely heard the last word, because the Old Girl was solid enough to protect them from the bullets.

“Let's go!” he cried, hurrying to the controls and making the ship dematerialize. “Now, the Old Girl is a time machine, and now we're going to use that,” he announced as he spun them through the vortex. “We need to find out what the Empress of the Racnoss is digging up. If something's buried at the planet core, it must've been there since the beginning.” His eyes lit in eagerness. “That's fantastic. I've always wanted to see this. Donna -- we're going further back than I've ever been before.”

He looked back, and quieted. Donna had found the pilot seat, and was facing away from him. He thought he saw her nod slightly, but her shoulders were shuddering and she was absolutely quiet. A clear sign of shedding silent tears. Given how much she was shaking, he guessed that the tears were pouring down her cheeks.

Sighing quietly, he turned back. He doubted he could do anything for her until they arrived. He had seen people whose world had collapsed around them. Like Tommy Tomorrow once the Other Ones had gone, left with the knowledge that the aliens he summoned had killed his twin. The depths that desperation could send a person to.

He had seen in it his own people. He had barely averted it, and at great cost. Only a few of those whose lives were destroyed could be helped by him. He vowed that he would not let Donna sink to those depths.

It seemed too long before the TARDIS arrived at their destination, and he was reassured by the quiet clicks as the Old Girl settled down. He leaned around the console to catch Donna's attention. “Donna, we've arrived. Want to see?”

She shrugged, not looking up. “I s'pose,” she muttered.

The Doctor glanced at the monitor and frowned. “This is too small. Your way will be best.” He started towards the doors when he saw how consumed she was by grief and humiliation. So he stopped and walked right next to her. He knelt to catch her attention.

She looked up at him. “What does it matter?” she whispered.

He held out his hands. “Come on.”

Donna stood resignedly, accepting his hands as a lead.

“No Human has ever seen this,” he enthused. “You'll be the first.”

“All I want to see is my bed.”

Once they reached the doors, he let go of her. “Donna Noble, welcome to the creation of the Earth,” he announced softly as he opened the doors.

Donna's mouth fell open. Sunlight shone through beautiful colored dust and gas clouds. Rocks ranging from smallish to enormous floated around them.

The Doctor beamed at the sight, drinking it in. “We've gone back 4.6 billion years. There's no Sol system yet. Only dust, rocks and gas. That's the Sun over there, brand new. Just beginning to burn.”

“Where's the Earth?” Donna breathed, struggling to take it in.

“It's all around us, Donna. In the dust. Everything and everyone ever born on Earth exists because of this.”

She was silent for several seconds, but managed to speak. “Puts the wedding in perspective. Lance was right. We're just... tiny.”

He shook his head and took her hand to gently knock her out of the melancholy threatening to take over her soul. “No, he doesn't understand. That's what you do, the Human race. Making sense out of chaos. Marking it out with weddings, birthdays Christmas and calendars; all those patterns your species loves so much. This whole process is beautiful, but only if it's being observed.”

Donna felt her spirits lift a bit and she looked back out, marveling at the sight. “So, I came out of all this?”

“Isn't that marvelous?” he asked, just as a massive chunk of rock floated lazily into their sight.

An urge to crack a joke hit Donna, and she had to let it out. “I think that's the Isle of Wight.”

He laughed with her. “Unless it's Uluru. What about Brighton? They always tell me to try some Brighton Rock, but I never had much of an affinity for boulders in my food,” he teased in mock seriousness. Once her bigger laugh quieted he explained what was to come. “Eventually, gravity takes hold. One big rock, heavier than the others, will start to pull other rocks towards it. All the dust, gas and elements get pulled in, everything, piling in until you get...”

“The Earth,” Donna finished for him.

His enthusiasm began to quiet as the hunt for answers began again. “But the question is... what was that first rock?”

As several long seconds passed without anything happening, the Doctor grew impatient. He rushed back to console and began turning a wheel.

“What are you doing?” Donna asked.

“Making time speed up around up around us, so we can see what they're doing. See the instant that the Racnoss ship got inside. What's happening out there?”

Donna watched as the rocks, particles of dust and gas zoomed towards one larger rock. It all gathered together, turning into something much bigger. “Exactly what you said, but there's no sign of a spaceship.”

He rushed over to see for himself, and sure enough he confirmed it. “But the ship had to have managed its way inside during the formation. How could we have missed it? The war was still going on now, and the Empress would have had to hide both herself and her ship before it went horribly wrong for them. It had to be now.”

Donna gasped. “Wait, wasn't the Earth hit by some Mars-sized planet?”

“How did you know that?”

“My granddad, he's utterly fascinated by the stars,” she explained. “He told me how the Moon's rocks are partly identical to Earth rocks and partly not, and how scientists came up with another planet smashing into Earth to explain it.”

The Doctor snapped his fingers. “Of course! I'll speed things up more!” he cried as he hurried back to the Controls. “Tell me when you see the impact!”

Donna watched as the Earth formed, looking lifeless and dark. “It's so weird. No water. No signs of continents. Nothing like what I'm used to, or imagined could be possible.”

The Doctor was trying to watch from his position, but he could barely take his eyes off the controls. Still, he could answer. “Which means the impact probably seeded the Earth with the fuel it needed to sustain life. I've known about the impact since before I first visited the Earth, but there is nothing like seeing it for yourself.”

“Wait, here it comes!” she cried.

The Doctor was at her side in an instant. They watched as Theia flew into sight and slammed into Earth at an angle. Rocks flew from both of them, but a few details became obvious as they saw the Moon form and the two planets fused into one. He voiced his observations.

“So the Earth's core came apart, and slowly absorbed Theia's. That explains why the Earth's core is twice the size it should be. The Racnoss ship definitely couldn't have survived. Which means...”

“Which means what?” she asked as she noticed him trailing off, his eyes going huge with some realization.

His feet flew him back again to the Controls. “We're going to reverse it and follow Theia. Let's find out how she came to be! Donna, you will be the first and likely only Human to know what truly happened!”

Donna smiled in a little daze, the thought that she would know something the leading astronomers could only dream of knowing humbling. She watched as the impact was reversed and the TARDIS began following Theia across space.

The Doctor eyed the Controls, talking the whole time. “Be watching for clues that the planet is beginning to break apart as the reverse journey slows. At least I assume that the TARDIS will be stopping. It's possible she won't. After all, Theia had to be set on a path toward crashing into the Earth. And how did the Racnoss hide from the war?”

At length even he could feel the TARDIS slowing down, letting time slow to closer to real time. “What's going on out there?”

“Theia's starting to break apart, and she's spinning,” Donna answered.

“Keep watching! We need to see if there's any clues for what we're looking for. Somehow the Racnoss hid themselves, and the Empress had to have a hiding place-”

“Look!” Donna exclaimed as she saw the hints of a star-shaped ship in the middle of everything.

The Doctor bounded over and stilled as he watched the reversing actions slowing toward real time. “The Racnoss,” he breathed, his eyes trying to imitate the roundels. “Oh. They didn't just bury something at the centre of Theia... they became the centre of Theia. The first rock. Well, this would alter all of the hypotheses about the Earth's formation. One of the cores is actually a nest.”

The TARDIS suddenly shook violently, nearly knocking them off their feet.

“What was that?” Donna cried.

“Whatever it was, it didn't feel good,” he said, closing the doors and rushing back to the Controls.

Donna followed as best she could, but they both had to struggle to keep their balance against the shudders and tilting. “What the hell's it doing?!” Donna shouted as she held on to the Console, tightly.

“Remember that little trick I pulled -- particles pulling particles? Well, it works in reverse, and they're pulling us back!” He fought to manage the controls. “Even the Old Girl can't fight it.”

“Well, can't you stop it? Hasn't it got a handbrake? Can't you reverse or warp or beam or something?”

He winced. “Another backseat driver. Grace would have loved you... Grace. Wait, wait wait!” After a pause to think. he reached underneath the console and managed to draw out a large piece of rock with knobs on it. “The extrapolator! It can't stop us from landing there, but it should give us a good bump!” He placed it onto the Console. “Now we need a mallet!”

“Like this thing hiding under here?”

He looked up as Donna held up exactly what he wanted and he grinned. “So that's your talent – seeing the key details that those like me might miss.”

“Prawn,” she said as she handed it over, a little chuffed over the praise.

The TARDIS materialized back in the chamber, and as soon as she indicated that it had happened, the Doctor whacked the extrapolator. They felt the TARDIS jolt, and then stop just as suddenly.

He checked the scanner. “We're about 200 yards to the right. Come on!” He led her outside at a run.

Soon they arrived back at the doorway leading up to the Thames Flood Barrier.

Donna was out of breath from the whole day and stopped a bit behind him. “But what do we do?”

He scanned with the sonic, listening to everything it was telling him. “I'm thinking. I make it up as I go along! But trust me, I've got a history.”

“But I still don't understand. I'm full of particles -- but what for?”

He kept scanning for a path toward stopping the Empress. “There's a Racnoss web at the centre of the Earth, but my people unravelled their power source. The Huon particles ceased to exist and so the Racnoss are stuck. They've been in hibernation for billions of years. So you're the new key. Brand new particles, living particles! They need you to open it – and you have never been so quiet.”

He looked behind him and Donna wasn't there.

“No! When did you lot become so quiet?”

He looked up and down the empty corridor. He had to rush to save her and stop the Racnoss. “If there's one of you who could move that quietly, then I suspect there's another nearby.” He opened the door with his sonic screwdriver, and was confronted with an armed robot. The Doctor's eyes glazed over.

“Ah. There you are.”

/=/=/=/=/

Special Dedication and Rest of the Author's Note: In a sense, this is ultimately dedicated to a charming and talented man known as Paul McGann. I saw him for the third con this February at Gallifrey One. I went despite recently being sick (that's what you have to do with work when your job doesn't have sick days, and I made sure my doctor didn't think I needed special precautions because I would have had to stay home in that case – something that would've devastated me), and felt a huge emotional boost merely from being there. And of course, any chance to see him is worth a lot. Put simply, he makes any con worth going to. (Read what you will into that.)

And with having seen him, I came home and listened to every last copy of an Eighth Doctor Adventure from Big Finish that I owned and hadn't listened to yet. I'm hungry for more, and had already gained at least two plot bunnies from talking with PM. But this one? Huge, and came to me randomly afterward.

So if you haven't figured it out yet, it's not Nine who Donna's met. It's Eight. And he thinks the Time Lords have imposed another witness protection person on him. For clarification, a passing knowledge of Lucie Miller's first Big Finish adventure, Blood of the Daleks, is useful for understanding his mindset. She's one of Eight's companions, and... much like with Donna... she didn't get on with the Doctor at first. And perhaps had more reason to take out anger on him.

If anyone is blinking over the Doctor's described outfit, I can explain. It wasn't seen on screen in either the Movie or Night of the Doctor, but it is from the Dark Eyes series from Big Finish. (While I don't currently own any copies, I will one day soon! I keep hearing great things about it.) I was going to use the Night of the Doctor outfit, but it dawned on me that the Dark Eyes one allowed me to potentially throw some confusion into the mix. Couldn't resist.

Throughout the story I will occasionally make a Big Finish reference, but I've kept it to three total adventures. The two-part Blood of the Daleks is one. Horror of Glam Rock is the second, and The Vengence of Moribus is the last. One note: the last is the cliffhanger for the second run of Eight and Lucie adventures, so I'd hold off on that one until you've caught up a bit. Not like I did...

Please enjoy the rest of the ride!


Chapter Seven: Aliens and Human Natures

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
cassikat
Mar. 21st, 2017 08:46 pm (UTC)
I always hated this part, where Lance is ripping Donna to shreds. But this Doctor is giving her more support, even if she doesn't consciously realise it.

Ooh, love the new science rewrite! And it makes more sense than the original version... except that the heat and pressure at the center of either planet would have destroyed a powerless ship over time, and there wouldn't have been any Racnoss to find. (Which was my big problem with the way it was filmed as well.) Good thing they had power at the time of collision and coalescence, or they wouldn't have survived that either. Still, really good rewrite! :D

And now waiting (until I finish catching up on reviews *L*) to find out how Eight resolves his Roboform issue. :)
tkel_paris
Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:30 am (UTC)
(And you're the first to actually comment! :D And just for your icon... ;D)

Yeah, I don't like this. Although learning from TM why Donna was so hurt by the pencil in a mug thing comes close. It felt natural to have Eight put his hand on her shoulder.

Well, yes, it shouldn't have been able to. It must have special shielding to withstand the heat and the pressure, but not a collision. It dawned on me after I sent the chapter to TM for beta reading that the whole Theia thing altered things drastically. Thank you!

Off to review your next comment! And... I posted the final chapter! :D
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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