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FIC: Not Everyone Should Be Saved (3/5)

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


Chapter One / Chapter Two


Not Everyone Should Be Saved

Started June 20, 2016
Finished June 22, 2016


Chapter Three: Running For Time

“Will you let us stop?!” the same male voice from earlier cried several minutes later.

“You can ask questions now and die, or live and ask later!” snapped Holo-Donna, the only one other than the Doctor showing no signs of exertion.

But she did it turning around, stopping the impression of running and just floating backwards at the Doctor’s speed.

The way the others shook as they ran, they looked like they thought they were seeing a ghost.

She rolled her eyes. “Keep going! You heard him!”

“You mean we can’t take even a few second’s rest?” said one other female.

“Yeah, you can rest as long as you keep running,” the Doctor snapped.

He had had to use the Squareness gun several times by this point to get them through the fastest route to the room that held the access to the Computer Core. He figured they could get there in less than a minute if they kept at this speed. Unfortunately Humans tended to tire a lot faster than Time Lords. The Neverwere, on the other hand, would keep up this pace for far longer than he could, which annoyed him a fair amount. Who would have thought that a genetic enhancement would disgust him given his origins?

Good thing fear was a good motivator. Even Neverweres felt fear. He’d pause to mourn the one death later.

Suddenly he could hear one staggering behind. “Donna, what’s going on?”

She knew he knew she’d dropped the pretence of running, so she could see their unwelcome charges clearly. “One of the men is falling behind… and he has two shadows. Proper Dave, I think his name is.”

The TARDIS had managed to read a lot about the people, and passed the information on to both of them.

The Doctor flinched. “The rest of you, run faster! Proper Dave, I’m so sorry. You’ll have to stay here.”

The shock was enough that that man stopped, and he remained right there. The suit took several seconds to collapse.

“Why wasn’t that one as quick?” Holo-Donna asked.

“The swarm might have a hive intelligence, and is trying to figure out how to communicate since it can’t catch me. Thing of it is, I’m not in a mood to listen. They’ve already taken two more lives, and that was at least three too many!”

The next time he needed to use the Squareness gun, he held off reforming the barrier behind them. Instead he used it to create a different barrier to block access to the Blue Reading Room, their destination on the surface.

He paused to double-check all of their unruly but shrunken group. “Right, no one has two shadows. That’s good!” He took out his sonic and aimed at a circle in the floor, opening the gravity lift to the Core.

Lux, out of breath, could still protest. “How could you do that?!”

“Special access key,” the Doctor snapped.

“Well, if you have that, why do you need the codes?” asked the Neverwere.

“We scanned from orbit,” Holo-Donna snapped. “Believe me, if we could’ve fixed this there, we would have! But no, the system needs them entered down there! So get on!”

“What are you?” asked the surviving other man. “You look like a spectre.”

“The name’s Donna, and you’re lucky I’m not solid or I’d slap you into line, Other Dave.”

“Donna?” asked the Neverwere, suddenly losing her confidence. “Do you mean Donna Noble?”

“Wasting time! All of you, get on!” the Doctor interrupted.

The others all did, following the Doctor and Holo-Donna’s lead. The Neverwere got on at the last second before the gravity lift lowered. Impatient, the Doctor used the sonic to speed their progress, uncaring that it alarmed all but the Neverwere.

On the way down, Holo-Donna sent a smug smile back at her questioner. “That’s for the Doctor to know, and yours not to ask.”

“More like she has no right to ask anything, Donna,” the Doctor said.

“Doctor, what’s going on?” the Neverwere insisted.

“Professor Song, why doesn’t he like you much?” Lux asked the Neverwere.

“I don’t like her at all,” the Doctor corrected. “And I was warned about her, so I don’t trust her at all, either. And if she even tries to get close to me again I’ll find a shadow swarm and push her into it. Any questions, Professor Song? If that is your real name?”

River Song, the creation of the Silents, was unable to speak. For the first time in her adult years, she knew her flirting would only get her into bigger trouble. This was not anything like the Doctor she thought she knew. Any of them. And this was one she had never met before. He looked very young, even factoring the appearance of the one she knew best. This meant it was very early days for him. But he had them moving at such a brisk pace she hadn’t had a chance to compare diaries.

A sudden thought filled her. What if this was the Doctor before he had ever met her? The last one she hadn’t known, and it had felt like he was repaying her for something she did before. Maybe this day?

The Doctor was relieved when they reached the Core. He pulled Lux along, this time not as sharply. “Right, which interfact point has the command entry for the decontamination protocols?”

Lux bristled. “This is my family’s property. I’m not giving out business secrets!”

“Death waits for no patent,” the Doctor reminded him. “Besides, you’ll be the one entering them.”

“They’re hurting the Library.”

They all stopped short at the sound of a voice. It was a little girl’s voice. Lux drew away from the Doctor and led them into the next room. As they entered, a node turned around to face them.

Holo-Donna gasped and got right in Lux’s face. “Who is that?! Did a child donate their face?!”

Lux, trapped between two very angry faces, sighed. “It’s a bit more complicated than that. That’s CAL.”

“CAL, that’s the term for the Library’s computer,” said the other woman, Anita.

“It stands for Charlotte Abigail Lux, my aunt.” Lux then led them closer to the interface panel beside the node.

The node with the girl’s face on it turned on, as if to watch them. She looked very sad and worried. “Shadows… forcing the systems... to shut down. I can’t… defend the Library.”

The horrified silence allowed Lux a moment to speak. “See, she’s family. She was my grandfather’s youngest daughter. She was dying, so he built her a library, and put her living mind inside, with a moon to watch over her, and all of human history to pass the time, any era to live in, any book to read. She loved books more than anything. He gave her them all. He asked only that she be left in peace. A secret, not a freak show.” He approached it slowly.

Holo-Donna’s face softened. “So you weren't protecting a patent, you were protecting her. Your aunt.”

“This is only half a life, of course,” he admitted, gently stroking the girl's face. “But it's forever. Never dying, but forever dreaming.”

“You should have told us,” the Doctor said. “I needed to know this, especially given the shadows.”

“Shadows,” the girl whimpered. “I have to... I have to save. Have to save...”

“And she saved them,” Holo-Donna whispered in awe. “She saved everyone in the Library.”

Lux nodded, and voiced the final piece of the puzzle. “She folded them into her dreams and kept them safe.”

“Then why didn't she tell us?”

“Because she's forgotten. She's got over 4,000 living minds chatting away inside her head, it must be like... being... well, like me,” the Doctor answered. “And if those shadows reach into here… they’ll connect to her remaining biological traces.”

Holo-Donna balked at the thought. “She’ll be eaten.”

“If that happened, the Library would go into self-destruct,” Lux said, quietly. The thought gave him a grim determination as he turned back to the Doctor. “So we reset the protocols. That doesn’t solve her having more minds within her than she can handle.”

The Doctor scanned the systems as best as he could. “And there’s a problem in solving that. She doesn’t have the memory space left to return the Saved back to the planet.” He grew silent for a moment. “It means someone with a large enough brain has to sit in that chair and give their life so the others can live again.”

“Doctor!” cried Holo-Donna, at once horrified that he seemed to be contemplating volunteering.

“No, no, no, no, no. Not me,” he insisted, looking at her with a soft, reassuring gaze. “I’m needed for other things, including getting you lot out and making sure the Vashta Nerada are gone,” he added, his voice turning harsh as he faced the others one by one. There, I told you the threat’s name.”

The name seemed to bring some recognition to the four survivors of the expedition.

“But then who will do it?” asked Lux, a little nervous. “Me?”

“No, not you. Not to be too blunt about it, but your brain isn’t big enough. We need someone with a bigger brain than a Human, someone… similar to my kind. River Song?”

River stilled. “How do you know I’m like you? And how do you know my name?”

“My ship read your neural relays, telling us your names. As for knowing what you are? Your scent. It reeks even through that sealed spacesuit. Although how you can be talking I don’t know. Besides, I had a prophecy that you would die today.”

“Funny, so did I,” she retorted, trying to knock him off kilter so she could tell him who she really was to him.

“Then, for once, behave yourself and follow the prophecy. You have a sonic device, if my source is correct? And I bet, just like the gun, it wasn’t yours to begin with.”

“I’m not handing it over. It was a gift. I didn’t take it from you!”

“You’re not going to need it for long.”

“Doctor, that’s a bit a harsh even if she is a Neverwere,” Holo-Donna said, having finally managed to get the TARDIS to explain the term. She was watching the Professor’s expressions and felt empathy for the pain radiating from her.

“We’re facing being eaten by a living swarm, Donna. Besides, would you trust a stranger who greeted you the way she did me? And I didn’t hear her denying that she stole the gun from a bag belonging to a former companion of mine.”

“Both are beside the point. She’s about to die!”

“Donna, would my future self have been so adamant that we had to ensure that she couldn’t be saved if there was anything worth saving about her?”

River sucked in a breath. “Do you mean the tall you with a bow-tie?”

He grimaced, having a little flashback to what that him would look like. “No, gray hair and attack eyebrows.”

River’s face paled to chalk. She had just spent the equivalent of 24 years with him, and this him was indicating that that Doctor had lied through his teeth and she never suspected. “He just turned up on my doorstep. New suit and a haircut. I had no idea who he was at first. His face didn’t fit any of the others. Nor did his sexy accent.”

“Take off your helmet, get into that chair, and shut up!” he thundered, glowering at her.

She swallowed and removed her helmet, dropping it to the floor. “Get on with the decontamination. I’ll set up the chair.” And she went right into the chair room with her bag, checking the settings.

The Doctor turned to Lux. “Which interface do we need?”

Lux walked right up to one in the other room and entered codes. After a few seconds a screen popped up showing, “Decontamination protocol access”.

“Perfect,” said the Doctor. “Let me.”

Lux stepped aside and let the Doctor use the sonic to power in the new protocols and reactivate the needed ones.

“Warning,” said CAL. “Decontamination about to begin. Please remain absolutely still. All registered users will be unaffected.”

“Doctor, are we all registered users?” asked Holo-Donna.

“Don’t worry. As part of the entries, I registered all of us. Their neural relays gave me their identities.”

“But you’re not wearing one! And I’m there as a hologram!”

He smiled and tapped his head with his sonic secretively. “This will keep us both safe. Now, stay still.”

“Doctor!” shouted Lux.

The Doctor rushed to his side in the other room. The cause of his cry was evident. Shadows had appeared in the Core.

“Decontamination begins in three....”

The shadows came closer.

“Two…”

The shadows came within feet of them.

“One…”

Holo-Donna screamed instinctively.

Chapter Four: Forcing Her Hand

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
youreintown
Jun. 26th, 2016 10:43 am (UTC)
River wanted to compare diaries? Why? She hadn't met him before, that would have been enough. What would she have to compare then? She wanted to know if this Doctor, she had never met before, had met her before? Wouldn't that be a spoiler?

And taking time to explain everything before entering the codes? Why not after entering? This is waisting the precious time that they had before the swarm would reach them.

I hope the decontamination is in time...
tkel_paris
Jun. 26th, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC)
Recall in the episode that she wanted to compare diaries, which didn't strike me as terribly concerned with the laws of Time and avoiding spoilers. Not to mention avoiding creating a false fixed point. Never mind that there are ways of checking where you are in the other's timeline without spoiling something for the other. (And it just dawned on me that the Doctor didn't warn her that she would one day meet him and he wouldn't know who she was at all. Doesn't sound like the act of a loving partner.)

Lux is being stubborn, as you noticed. And there's still making sure there's no whisper in the Doctor's ear. You have to imagine the Doctor is faster than normal, and yet he's not getting the speed he wants from others.
youreintown
Jun. 26th, 2016 06:05 pm (UTC)
In Canon the Doctor never warns River that she might encounter younger versions of him that perhaps would not know of her.
She does tell Rory though that she thinks that when she meets a Doctor that doesn't know her, it will kill her. I'm not so sure she doesn't mean it litterally.
tkel_paris
Jun. 26th, 2016 06:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't see that as the act of someone who really cares. No warning in even vague terms. Not nice

That sounds a bit overblown. There have to be ones, and that line sounds like she can't stand on her own. Anyway...
bas_math_girl
Jun. 26th, 2016 04:20 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, knicker-gripping moment at the end there. For some reason I'm pleased that River's flirting isn't working on the Doctor. Although he was a little bit harsh with her, fortunately Donna was around to compassionately prod him in the right direction.
tkel_paris
Jun. 26th, 2016 04:28 pm (UTC)
Love that phrase. ;)

Yes, but he's seeing the delays this group is causing, and it's shortening his fuse. Which is already short because he knows the danger to his future self this day poses.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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