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FIC: Not Everyone Should Be Saved (1/5)

Title: Not Everyone Should Be Saved

Genre: Doctor Who

Rating: T

Author: tkel_paris

Summary: When the TARDIS is caught in a loop, Twelve realizes that a new weapon has been created to use against him thanks to an earlier act of what he thought was compassion. The only way he can free the TARDIS is to get a message to an earlier self to prevent two critical things from happening, even though it will cause a dangerous paradox.

Disclaimer: Not mine, and probably never will be.

Dedication: tardis_mole, for reminding me about this one inadvertently during our prompt-a-thon. We had so much fun!

Author’s Note: One of the many things I thought someone should’ve thought of before ending the Library episodes. And so I’m righting a few things. It may seem cruel, but there are pointed questions behind the actions within. Along with pointing out ways the solutions of the episodes could’ve gone wrong, and… well… did.


And apologies to Bill, as well as Pearl Mackie. When I wrote this, we had almost nothing to go on for what Bill is like. So to not get her totally wrong… I used a convenient plot device. Oops. :D



Not Everyone Should Be Saved


Started June 20, 2016

Finished June 22, 2016


Chapter One: Extract


The Doctor was guiding the TARDIS through the Vortex, seeing what might be interesting for an adventure. Assuming of course that the Old Girl didn’t take matters into her own hands. Bill had already had plenty to deal with as a new companion.


He thought it too soon.


The TARDIS lurched violently, sending them both onto the grating. The Doctor grumbled and dragged himself to his feet. “Come on, Bill! It’s just a time eddy.”


But Bill wasn’t answering. She was sprawled, unmoving.


He managed to reach the Controls and perform two quick scans at once. The first reassured him about his companion; a concussion strong enough to head into unconsciousness, but no sign of future brain bleeding.


The second scan’s results were not so reassuring.


“A computer weapon! So that’s why we’re going around in circles, it’s interfering with her flying! But how?!”


The TARDIS moaned and groaned, showing the results of another scan.


“Able to run a scan on your own? Well, that’s a good sign, isn’t it?” He observed the results and paled. “What? It’s infecting the TARDIS systems, one by one! Like it knows them! How is that possible?!”


An alarm went off, nearly drowning all other sounds.


He slammed a button, and the alarm went quiet. Not that it made him feel any better. “What did you find, Old Girl?”


The screen showed a news alert, and reading it made his surroundings seemingly fade away:


THE LIBRARY ROBBED!

Freed for only twenty years from the flesh-eating shadow swarm, the Library endured another indignity as vandals broke into the computer core. Fifteen visitors died, shot for merely being in the way.

“It is difficult to say what was taken,” said Strackman Lux, grandson of The Library founder, Thelman Lux. “What we can detect is that two objects were removed that were left within the computer core basement, which was supposed to be locked away. And these vandals put a virus into the system to extract something.”


The Doctor’s eyes went huge. “River. They took River, her sonic, and her diary. That’s how they can know the systems so well! They’ve removed her from the Library and uploaded her into a computer as a weapon! And she can’t do anything about it!”


Explosions racked the TARDIS, nearly sending him off his feet.


He growled as he frantically worked the controls. “I can’t exit the Vortex without them finding me immediately, and I won’t let us be captured! What can I do to get out?”


His eyes drifted to the screen, and he drew out his psychic paper. His eyebrows furrowed as he thought of something. Putting away the paper he hurriedly entered commands.


/=/=/=/=/


“So where are we going next, Spaceman? You said we’re going to a beach.”


The Doctor looked up at his ginger companion and grinned. “Oh, there are so many options. Kotto Flo Kr, the Humming Sands of the Sahaera, the rainbow sands of Inubis 12. Although you might need a space suit for-”


His gob was cut off by the screen suddenly flickering.


“What’s it doing?” Donna demanded.


“It’s like someone is trying to get through.” He pressed a few buttons, and hit the screen. “Come on! Who are you? Let’s have a look at you!”


“Oh, I did like the sound of my own voice back then, didn’t I? Almost as much as I liked my looks!”


The voice made them both pause, but not as much as when the flickering cleared into the image of an older version of someone they had met. Behind him was something that while different from anything they had seen felt very familiar.


“Caecilius?!” they both cried.


“No, but I did choose the face. To remind me that I save people,” the man on the screen snapped. “Now, the TARDIS is in grave danger and I need your help to get out!”


The brown-haired Doctor paled. “You’re me in the future.”


“You what?!” burst Donna.


The future Doctor cracked a tiny smile, eyes going suspiciously moist. “Oh, Donna, I’ve missed you. And maybe… maybe I can fix one more regret!” His face lit up, like a man who felt that he’d been pardoned.


“What’s happening to you?!” demanded the brown-haired Doctor.


“Thieves invaded a place you’re soon to go to. They took two things and downloaded someone into some computer that they’re using as a weapon against the Old Girl. I’m stuck in the Vortex unless I fly right into their trap.”


“Do you need me to send energy through time?”


“It’ll take too long on my end to make that work! No, I need you to create a paradox.”


“How will that help?!”


“You’ll get a summons on the Psychic Paper soon. I would’ve used that instead, but this takes less time. There’s a sonic device and a journal that you must not leave behind. Best that you destroy them instead. Along with one thing stolen from the TARDIS in the future. Also… there’s a certain someone you’ll meet. Do not save her, and do not - under any circumstances - let her whisper into your ear. I just spent 24 years with her and it felt like 50! An experience I wish I could wipe from my memory! Do you understand?”


“Destroy a sonic and a diary, stop some tart from whispering in his ear, and then let her die?” Donna paraphrased.


“Well, she’s going to die anyway there. But that me and the one after found a way to give her a second chance. Trouble is, someone found out and is using her against me. Never mind that she might not have deserved being saved in the first place, and what I thought was a nice retirement would actually drive anyone mad in the end. For the universe’s sake, and for ours, alter events!”


The image flickered out.


The Doctor blinked rapidly. “A computer weapon that can hurt the TARDIS with help from someone who became a digital download?!”


The screen flickered again, and the older Doctor reappeared. “One more thing! And this is vital, so neither of you forget! Donna, Me, do not, I repeat, DO NOT part the Threefold Man. You might get more years together.”


Now the image faded and the screen seemed normal again.


The Doctor winced and drew out the Psychic Paper. “Blimey, he wasn’t joking about!” He opened it so Donna could see it as well.


It slowly appeared: “The Library, come as quick as you can.” Along with a date and “X”.


Donna scoffed. “A cry for help with a kiss? Who does that, and especially toward you?”


He was a bit miffed and let it show. “Lots of us have done that, but… I’ll admit that’s a first for me. I can think of a few who would’ve done it if they could, but… I don’t know who’s sending this.”


“Well, that future you… wearing his face… seemed to know. Must be that woman he would’ve erased from his past if he could. Wish he’d been able to tell us. So… what is the Library and how are we going to do this? Just fly in, or check it from orbit?”


“The latter is definitely not my style, but after the shocks we’ve already endured…”


Soon there they were in orbit. The Doctor had regaled her with stories about what the Library was, what it contained, and where Humanity had come to by the 51st century.


Donna listened intently as the Doctor began his scans and they used the screen to view inside the planet’s rooms. She immediately spotted something important, but waited for him to finish a warning about spoilers - after she contested that traveling with him was a giant spoiler. “Where are all the people?”


“Excellent question, Donna. Let’s try using the computers to scan for life-signs.”


The result was empty.


“That’s weird. All the ships are still here, except for that one moving right now.”


He looked at the reading Donna spotted. One rocket was approaching a dock. “According to the computer, that’s the first ship here in about 100 years. And… wait, there’s a cordon around the planet.”


“So someone asked you to come to a planet that might be in the middle of a police investigation? Sounds like something out of a horror movie if you ask me.”


“Yeah… and to make matters worse, here’s the last message the system sent, on that same date:”


Four thousand and twenty-two saved. No survivors.


“But how can anyone be safe if there were no survivors? And only a nutter says ‘saved’ instead of ‘safe’.”


“Yet I can’t see evidence of bodies. People in these days are always carrying something that would be left behind ever after decay. Which suggests teleportation, except that the transports would only work the distance of the docks. And according to the computer, not one ship has left since that day one hundred years ago.”


“They couldn’t have vanished into the books, could they?” she breathed.


“You mean like into the computer?” The Doctor pondered that for a few seconds. Then his eyes widened. “Of course! That explains this massive surge of power the system recorded on that same day!”


Naturally they were interrupted, but this time it was the Automated Welcome Node nearest to one of the screens they had activated remotely. The Doctor had a time calming Donna after the revelations about the Nodes, but the messages recorded chilled them. Especially the second:


“Count the shadows. For God’s sake, remember. If you want to live, count the shadows.”


The Doctor cut off the image.


Donna was breathing heavily, shaking. “Doctor, we’re not going to land, are we? What is this threat they all vanished from?”


“The Vashta Nerada. Literally translates as ‘the shadows that eat flesh’. They’re from a spore that evolved from a tree fungus, spreading through wood pulp in papermaking. They’re usually in very small groups on every world that Humans have reached, living off roadkill. Very occasionally a person who goes into the dark. But this… is a swarm that’s covered the whole planet. But there should have been a whole set of decontamination procedures to prevent this! Scans of every book and person who comes in to prevent the spread of disease and plague and spores!”


“So what happened?”


“I’ll see if I can find out,” he muttered, running one final scan.


Within seconds he had his answer, and he sagged. “Okay, do you want the good news, the bad news, or the worse news?”


“Tell it in order,” she suggested quietly.


He sighed and launched into the quietest explanation of this incarnation.


“The bad news is that someone somehow put a virus into the computer system right from the start of the Library. And set it to hinder efforts to eliminate spores. Specifically of the type the Vashta Nerada are. Which makes me wonder if they’re connected to the people attacking the future me.”


“Seems a bit of a coincidence, mate.”


“I agree. They have to be connected. The good news is that I can reset them to rid the Library of this infestation, and set a dead-lock to prevent anyone from deactivating it ever again. Anyone who tries accessing those systems will alert security.”


“So… what’s the worse news?”


He gave her a baleful look. “It needs codes that only the owners of the Library would have. If I make an effort it could set off a system that’ll make it twenty times harder to get into the computer. And the only access point is in the computer core at the center of the planet, requiring manual entry.”


Donna’s freckles suddenly looked dark as her eyes tried to imitate the roundels. “You’re going to have to go in there,” she whispered.


“Yeah,” he whispered back. “And I can’t risk anything happening to you.”


“But who’s going to help keep that woman from whispering into your ear?”


His eyebrow rose as a thought occurred to him.


Chapter Two: Tricks of Light

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
tardis_mole
Jun. 23rd, 2016 02:34 am (UTC)
I love this one. And a very good plot device for the opening scene. :D
tkel_paris
Jun. 23rd, 2016 03:57 am (UTC)
Once I catch up, I'll probably feel a little bad about that. A little. :)
tardis_mole
Jun. 23rd, 2016 05:19 am (UTC)
Just a little. :)

I'm hoping that's the reason no one's read Crossed Wires. I thought it might be because no one liked it that there were so few reviews, but it's more that no one's actually read it yet. So, some catching up on all sides. :)
bas_math_girl
Jun. 23rd, 2016 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oooh, this is a really intriguing idea. I love the premise
tkel_paris
Jun. 26th, 2016 12:07 pm (UTC)
Let me know when you've read it all. :)
youreintown
Jun. 26th, 2016 06:55 am (UTC)
Nice!

Now stating the obvious: Why not materialise the TARDIS at the Core instead of running around, trying to find the entrance to that Core?
Or would that make it too simple? Of course they wouldn't have Lux with them, but then materialise around Lux and take him with them to the Core in the TARDIS. They can identify everybody that is in that group. He would not understand at once, but he could be briefed before they exited at the Core. And this way they would not have to meet River at all.
tkel_paris
Jun. 26th, 2016 12:11 pm (UTC)
Good point, and something I should have addressed. My thinking is that teleporting directly into the Core was not possible, and there were protections established to avoid anyone materalizing. All to protect CAL. Which the Doctor would have detected, but not known the reason.

Also, he wouldn't want to risk the Vastha Nerada getting into the TARDIS. It might also be necessary for a visual confirmation that the person has only one shadow. I do believe I stated that the Doctor needed both the hand-held scanner and the TARDIS to know where the swarms were.

But a good point raised! Thank you. It might end up inspiring something else.
youreintown
Jun. 26th, 2016 02:12 pm (UTC)
You have good points for not materialising at the Core too. Though the TARDIS is more advanced than anything in that era.
Would the TARDIS not be able to extract only and just only the person of interest and let him/her appear somewhere else without any unwanted attachments?
tkel_paris
Jun. 26th, 2016 02:17 pm (UTC)
True. I got the impression that the Vashta Nerada were one threat that there's not a lot of information about even for the Time Lords. And there have been things that alter where the TARDIS lands, so... technology gets sneakier and smarter all the time.
dtstrainers
Jul. 1st, 2016 06:28 am (UTC)
Perhaps it's more a matter of whatever they're using to protect CAL would interfere just enough with the navigation system to make piloting the TARDIS with precision dangerous? And while Ten is arguably the best pilot of all the Doctor's incarnations, can we please remember he readily admits that he failed his driver's test?
;-)

Good story, and yes- I'm woefully behind in reading and even more so in commenting. RL is being a right pain in the arse right now. Hope you had a wonderful trip and happy you're back safe and sound.

Edited at 2016-07-01 09:30 am (UTC)
tkel_paris
Jul. 1st, 2016 01:31 pm (UTC)
Well, I wasn't thinking about his driving record. ;)

It's okay. I have a lot to do now that I'm home, and have to work through the inertia that's been hindering my efforts to improve my life. Trust me, I had a ball! I only wish it could've lasted all summer. :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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