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Title: Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T/M (violence, whump)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Sequel to “Altered History: The Runaway Bride”. The Doctor's getting the location wrong (again) lands him and Donna in Pompeii on Volcano Day. She's determined to save as many as possible, but for him the events bring back the nightmare that still haunts him. Donna is in for a lesson on the consequences of the Dark Times.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I only just got into Classic Who heavily in the last three years. This idea would've been unthinkable for me back in early 2014.
Dedication: My friends cassikat and hezikiah, who between them brought me to an appreciation for the Eighth Doctor. The rest was all my own doing. I also thank my beta, tardis_mole, whose impatience for this brought my muse to start writing right away. And... since I'm positive I wouldn't have had the idea without seeing him at Gallifrey One this year, the always delightful Paul McGann. Although I'm not sure I ever want him or any DW actor reading any fanfiction I write... Of course, if the next showrunner wants to bring Donna back then he or she can read them all they want for ideas. Just appreciate an acknowledgement in that case. ;)
Author's Note: If you haven't read “Altered History: The Runaway Bride”, go back and read it now. Then come back to this one. Otherwise you will be very confused.

Posted in honor of bas_math_girl's birthday, which has already passed where she is. I owe you something, BMG. *hugs* Since you've been one of the few who've commented on this, I'm adding more of the ready parts in your honor.


Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii

Started March 20, 2017
Story unfinished as of start of posting
Finished (month day), 2017

Chapter 1 / Chapter 2


Chapter Three: Prophecy of Doom

Karn, in the Kasterborus System
Date up for debate, in Human terms – but somewhere around 1100AD by Earth reckoning

The TARDIS landed in the quiet, open plain. A few small dwellings dotted the landscape, almost blending into the scenery. The inhabitants had made a concerted effort to blend in. Or perhaps, more accurately, to hide. Some of the dwellings resembled piles of tumbled rocks, others like the burrows of animals, and others were disguised as part of the canopy of trees that dotted the landscape. It depended what material was to hand in that specific locality. Not that they were spread out all that much. Several were clustered together to form a knot of what appeared to be ant hills. But the point to the dwellings was that they were hiding, and difficult to see unless the eye discerned a movement. But even then, you could be mistaken for thinking there were only six such dwellings, when the true number was closer to six hundred. Or just one.

And the inhabitants of the motley collection had more than just scavengers and carnivores to worry about. They avoided the guards sent to keep them on this world that was not theirs by birth. A world they were forced upon. Guards they had to be careful to avoid angering lest they receive brutal punishment. Their tracks were well-worn from centuries of use. Few dared come close from either side.

There were others, travellers, that sought to lure them out. For sport or simply to kill. There had been rumors, nothing more, but then dead bodies didn’t tell you much. Even here, away from where they had once called home, the monsters would come. The monsters with their torture and their lies; their cruelty and their jealousy. It was all the same in the end.

Their abilities had been banned, as if they could help having them. You could ban weapons. Just remove them from the population. But how did you ban an ability? The Time Lords had many ways to accomplish such a thing. Each one bloodier and more painful than the last.

One such dwelling, though, was not as disguised as the others. In fact, it wasn’t disguised at all. It was built like a cairn, half buried, half visible, like a large spot, a boil of stone shards and blocks, all fitted together like a tightly packed 3D jigsaw. And its entrance was a door, double but low in height, simple wood but clearly visible by its painted design. A slap in the face to any passing Time Lord. It spoke of defiance. Here I am, come and get me. Many had tried. All had failed.

All despite those Guards. They had created careful ways of letting the Guards take the brunt of those travellers' aims. Although sometimes the Guards preferred to stop those visitors because they were interfering with their own sport of scaring the inhabitants witless.

And beside it stood an even more conspicuous object. A brightly painted box. Blue in the landscape of greens, browns and slate grey.

The doors slowly opened, and the Doctor stepped out cautiously. He straightened his frock coat with one hand. His eyes scanned for people and other things.

His other hand was holding an object of infinitesimal worth. It looked innocuous enough, a stout stick, but made of an artificial substance. It was a cylinder, as thick as the Doctor’s arm, cream at both ends and dull bluish grey in the middle. It pulsed every now and then, turning the cream to a faint green. And when it did he would shush it, as if it was a crying babe. And in some ways, that was exactly what it was. It was a long way from home. Lost and in grave danger. Hunted, and defenseless. He could feel an energy within, and his instincts suspected that it would be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Dangerous because it could only call to him and accept his reassurances if he had a personal tie to it. He strongly suspected what it had to be, something missing from his House for centuries. But given the suddenness of finding it and the tensions back home, it was not safe to return it. Hence coming to a place he wished to never return to.

Soon he could see members of the Sisterhood of Karn exiting their dwellings and heading towards him. Not that he could see the dwellings, but he knew that was deliberate. And they, in turn, were not dressed to hide, retaining the blood-red robes of their Order, which stood out like branchless trees on the hillside. Most alarmingly, he had not told them he was coming, nor had he told them who he was or why he was here. He was certain he could recognize a few. Once they were closer he grimaced as his suspicions were confirmed. Orthena and Haspira, the two he dealt with when he and Lucie were kidnapped by them. The two who had been ready to kill them in a misguided attempt to stop the reviving of Morbius.

But they had someone else at their head. A woman whose face held the vague familiarity when it became clear. A hint that he had seen her face in the Untempered Schism. Hespira might have been in charge when he was last here, but the woman at their head was the true power behind Karn. Ohila.

It was she who had called them together to meet him as he arrived. Her mental powers scared the Doctor, as much as they comforted him. In many ways, her telepathy meant he had little left to explain. In others, he had far more. But more than that, a bond that he had worked so hard to hide from the universe risked being exposed here. A forbidden bond. It not only risked his life, but risked their exposure to those who hunted them as much as those who hunted what he carried.

His only comfort was that Ohila had no reason to reveal it. Indeed, she benefited from keeping mum.

The Doctor ignored the majority of the women who converged on him, like a pack of lions approaching from all directions, and focused his attention on the one who was familiar. Ohila seemed to have avoided the touch of time. And for that he was glad.

When she stopped walking, so did he, and so did they, though he was less than comfortable standing in the circle of silent women. There seemed to be an ominous tinge to the air. Although he trusted Ohila with his life, her people were a different matter. And to that; he and she were not on friendly terms.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“No greeting?” he wondered easily. “Besides, you already know why I am here,” he added.

He lifted his arm straight out in front of him and showed her the item he carried. The women in the circle thought and acted as one, tensing ready for a battle of the minds, of the magic. Ohila would have none of it. She held out a placating arm and silently called for calm.

“I know what it is,” she told him dourly. “I know what it does. Why in all that’s just… do you have it?”

The Doctor ignored the sneer. He welcomed it, if truth be told. He had asked himself the same question. “My journey through time and space is random,” he responded. “Forced upon me by the High Council. That I found this on one such journey is pure chance. I had no time to prepare myself or it. I came straight here.”

“Sometimes,” Ohila countered. “Your TARDIS has more influence on your journeys than you know, and senses when you are needed somewhere. The High Council may have forced some journeys upon you, but this time the Universe cried for help. What I do not yet see is why.”

He frowned. He was close enough to pick up on her amusement over his chagrin. Even the hint of an affectionate edge did nothing to soothe him. “Then I have even less say over my life than I had previously thought?”

Ohila’s eyes narrowed, watching his expressions, his eyes, feeling his emotional state. He was not in a good place. “I take it she has left you.”

The Doctor tried very hard not to allow the sob of grief become audible, but when surrounded by a horde of distrusting and potentially violent telepaths, he was well-aware how futile that was. A single tear escape his left eye and rolled down his cheek. After a quivering breath, he opened up the anger at the Universe for forcing him to return to this place, the planet of refugees and exiles. Karn, for all it meant to him, would offer him no welcome. He did not want to be here, any more than they wanted him here. Nor did he forgive them completely for what the Sisters had done. He was convinced his grief was their fault. Allowing Morbius to be revived was their fault, for he could have prevented it without being imprisoned by them. That Lucie had ‘left him’, as Ohila had put it, was their fault. And she made no apology or comfort.

It was even less comfort that the events so bright in his mind had been wiped from history. As if Lucie meant nothing. As if her suffering and being found again by the Headhunter meant nothing. As if she had no worth even as she had given her life to stop the Daleks. And for that, his pain was justified. No matter the details, it felt like Lucie’s death was their fault.

Not to mention his great-grandson's. Perhaps it could all have been prevented had his and Ohila's ancestors not been bitter enemies. Which made it too easy to blame them.

Ohila seemed to falter in the face of his emotions. She kept her footing, only just, but she seemed stunned by the strength and ferocity of his pain. She did not quite recover the nonchalance she had shown at his arrival. It would have been cruel and a lie.

All around her, the Sisters tensed, ready to make an end of the intruder in their midst. But Ohila held up her hand again. She kept her gaze on him and took another step closer to where he stood. “We acted without enough visions,” she said, by way of apology. “I make no excuses beyond that. There was no other way we could act given what we knew.”

The Doctor wanted to nod in acceptance, wanted to tell her that he understood, but his voice wouldn’t respond. He sucked in a breath and manfully drew back the wall of grief, devastating loss and anger and returned to the modicum of calm that he had arrived with. “You know why I am here,” he continued where he had left off before Ohila had interrupted him. He focused his mind, not wanting to see Lucie’s face in his mind, nor to feel the gaping space she and Alex – however little time he had spent in the lad's company – had left behind. “I bring you this. A gesture of good faith. If you will?”

Ohila cast her eyes over it, as if it was a trinket brought by a lover. “It is very pretty,” she remarked. “No suitor brought me finer.”

The Doctor’s mouth twitched at the corners in wry amusement. Not just at her words but also over the confusion of the Sisterhood. “Do you like it?” he asked, as if he was pleased by her approval.

“I am indeed liking it,” she said, aware that the Sisterhood had relaxed, believing that the object was harmless. And it was. For now.

To the Doctor’s secret horror, she reached out and laid her hand over it. At once, her body stiffened and began to shake violently. He kept his horror in check, but he could feel and hear the Sisterhood react. The object was waking up. To his mounting horror, he knew he had to do something before the Sisterhood took this turn of events as an attack and destroyed him, object and all. None of them understood what was happening or what she was experiencing.

He reached out his other hand and covered Ohila’s. “There, my little friend,” he crooned to the cylinder. “There is no threat here. You are safe. Be calm. There is nothing to fear.”

He said the words, but he was not so sure in his mind that they were justified or accurate. This object, for all its beauty and benign appearance, was far more dangerous than he had accounted for, and certainly far more dangerous than the Sisterhood could ever realise. And, to top it all, it was screaming in his mind, drilling a headache into his psyche with the skill of a master miner. Both he and Ohila dropped to their knees under the onslaught.

Then, just as suddenly as it woke, it went silent and let them both go. Haspira and Orthena went to Ohika's side, and the Sisterhood moved towards the Doctor to deal with him. Only Ohila – as out of it as she was – raised a hand and sent a psychic command to halt.

“Rassilon, what else is this thing?” the Doctor groaned. “It packs a right mental wallop.”

He looked up. Ohila recovered very slowly, moaning as if still in pain. But the Sisterhood was not moving against him, which meant she was more aware than she seemed. Amazing given that the object's ability to do that to her confirmed the great secret he had long suspected. It was the Loom of his House. And if Ohila was still alive after touching it, then it recognized her blood as kin, however distant.

The Time Lords would kill them both over that detail. Assuming the Sisterhood didn't get to them first.

“Chief Priestess?” asked Haspira. “Are you well? Is it safe for us to have that?”

Ohila smiled faintly. “I shall be,” she whispered. “I presumed wrongly about the object, and it rightly rebuked me for my hubris. No, it will not harm me again now that we understand each other. Yet I will not permit anyone else to touch it.”

The Sisterhood's acceptance of their leader's cover story was a relief, but it couldn't last. “I think I should leave now,” the Doctor said, letting go of the heart of the family Loom. “My job here is done.”

Before he could stand, Ohila grabbed his arm. “No! Doctor, you are the only hope of stopping the gravest threat the Universe has ever known!”

“I am? Oh. My work is never done,” he attempted dismissively.

“It’s more than that,” she rebuked him. “They will not just take your life, they will destroy you from the end to the beginning.”

“Wait, wait, wait, what?!” he breathed. “I know you were seized with a vision, but what does that have to do with me?”

Her body was still shaking, but her words were confident and firm. "The World-Ender seeks our destruction, to part us all from you. Doctor, you are the only one who can prevent her from using the Dalek invasion for her own ends!"

“What Dalek invasion? Which planet?”

“Gallifrey.”

The Sisterhood gasped in horror, murmuring amongst themselves aloud and telepathically.

“And all its colonies,” Ohila added.

Not that her words were necessary to anyone other than the Doctor. The Sisterhood understood well that, for all the pains Gallifrey put them through, if that world fell then Karn would be unprotected and even worse things could befall the Universe and Time itself.

The Doctor was still, contemplating the words. “The troubles that are beginning to brew, the dangerous signs... you mean that a war is coming?”

“Another Great Time War. The Last. But it will be stopped if you act.”

He shook his head. “I won't have to get involved. It won't get that far.”

“It will, Doctor,” Ohila insisted, her trembling ceasing yet her grip on him remaining firm. “You must heed my warning about the Time War, which will ensure that all your remaining family, everyone on Gallifrey will be lost. Unless you stop it.”

He shook her off, standing sharply. “You want me to become a warrior?! I will not! You must know what happened the last time I lost people precious to me! It just happened for me!”

“You would find the strength to stop the Would-Be-King from starting the Final Sanction,” Ohila said darkly.

“The Final Sanction?” cried Haspira. “That will turn all Time Lords into beings of pure consciousness, as the legends say we all once were! It will destroy all of Creation!”

“I don't believe this,” the Doctor insisted. “It can't be. And who is the Would-Be-King?”

“Someone resurrected from the wrong time in his past lives, to stop the Time War made worse by the desperate act of the Lady Lord President to change what was, to reunite our peoples and prevent the Parting.”

“You're not saying that Romana will-? No, she's wiser than that!”

“You underestimate what your companions are capable of when pushed to their limits. She will see no other choice. She had already begun the journey. Did you not notice something about our guards?”

The Doctor looked back where he came from. Behind the TARDIS was the zone of the horrible guards that Rassilon had imposed on Karn when all the Magic Lords were exiled from Gallifrey. The Cloister Wraiths should have been moving along their chosen tracks, a ghostly reminder to both the Karnaan and anyone who would invade them. He sucked in a breath. “Where are they?!”

Cries erupted from the Sisterhood. None of them had noticed the lack of the daily banes of their lives.

“Things are worse on your homeworld than you know,” Ohila said, silencing the commotion. “Unless you can prevent it all by stopping the ultimate weapon, the World-Ender, from ever beguiling you.”

“What? If I'm in danger-”

“Not this you. But the one who will become a Warrior, who must become someone he will hate if he is born during the War. Someone all future incarnations will despise and attempt to forget.” Ohila pushed herself to standing, ignoring the helping hands trying to support her as her gaze bore into the Doctor's. “He is the one who the World-Ender intends to beguile because he will be desperate to stop the War to save the Universe. But this you has my warning. Find the right way, Doctor, and she cannot destroy everything left that is good of the cultures of Rassilon and the Pythia.”


Chapter Four: The Growing Fires

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dm12
Sep. 5th, 2017 12:50 pm (UTC)
Hmm... now that's interesting. He found his family loom in his travels, and Ohila is somehow related to the Doctor's family.

Good warning, not to become beguiled by the World-Ender. Gee, I wonder what she looks like.
tkel_paris
Sep. 5th, 2017 04:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, something he was not expecting to find. And the wrong hands right now may include people in his own House.

Wait and see... ;)

And thank you for commenting! :D
bas_math_girl
Sep. 5th, 2017 08:33 pm (UTC)
Sorry I've only just been able to come back and comment.

The whole business about Ohila is very intriguing. As is him walking around with the family loom in his hands.

Thank you so much for posting this for my birthday! *hugs* :D
tkel_paris
Sep. 6th, 2017 03:29 am (UTC)
You've had a lot on your plate. *hugs*

Yes. It's meant to be. :)

Thank you for commenting! I'll post more when I complete one of the later chapters. While I have two more completed, the one after them is nowhere near done. So I want that one off to beta before I post again. Which means I'd better do a little bit of writing tonight. :)
cassikat
Sep. 5th, 2017 10:11 pm (UTC)
What, by Rassilon's left nut, was the core of the Doctor's family Loom doing off Gallifrey? And whyever bring it to Ohila? There's intriguing hints there, m'dear, and curiosity has me bouncing in my seat!

That was an excellent warning, regarding not being beguiled by the World-Ender...are we tying into the ominous from last chapter regarding a certain she who wants Donna to have something on her back? Can't wait to find out!

*attempts cat-at-mousehole patience* *fails due to fidgets*
tkel_paris
Sep. 6th, 2017 03:32 am (UTC)
Ah, patience... All will be revealed, but the fact that he felt it necessary to keep it OFF Gallifrey will be a clue to how serious the situation is. He's brought it to the one person in the universe he feels is able to shield it from notice and who wouldn't use it against him.

You know I can't answer that. ;)

*sighs* Off to write some more! :) And yes, I owe you a slew of betas!
timeapprentice
Sep. 7th, 2017 04:09 am (UTC)
Wow! This is such a fascinating story! You are so wonderful for writing and posting it!

Ohilia related to the Doctor? The Loom of the Doctor's family?
The poor Doctor with his pain from losing his loved companions. I am so interested in Ohilia's warnings and the Doctor's reactions.

You make me wonder so much, thank you for writing this! It's fun and interesting. I'm only sorry that I'm just now catching up on it!
tkel_paris
Sep. 7th, 2017 06:33 am (UTC)
Thank you! Have you read the first story in the series? That one makes this story a bit easier to understand. A bit. :)

Yes, and yes.

I know. I hated making him go through all that pain. And to have his life upended right after all those losses.

Keep watching for more. I'm working on Chapter 6 right now, and it needs work before I'm willing to post Chapter 4.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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