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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.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four


Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii

Started March 20, 2017
Story unfinished as of start of posting
Finished September 25, 2017



Chapter Five: Battles of Fire and Stone

Inside Caecilius' villa, Donna and Evelina were kneeling before the household gods. Donna was listening intently to Evelina's instructions when the ground shook hard beneath them. A roaring sound seemed to surround them.

“What is it? What's that noise?” Metella cried.

“Doesn't sound like Vesuvius,” Caecilius said as he tried to locate the origin.

The Doctor burst into the room, with Quintus on his heels. “Caecilius! All of you, get out!”

“Doctor, what is it?” Donna demanded.

“I think we're being followed,” he panted

An instant later they all started as the grille over the hypocaust was blown into the air.

“Just get out!” the Doctor shouted as he tried to herd everyone out the door.

But he forgot about the train wreck phenomenon. Not only Humans stopped to look at disasters.

The ground beneath the hypocaust cracked and an even louder growling rose from the depths. No one moved as a creature made of stone and magma began forcing its way through.

“The gods are with us,” Evelina breathed.

“Water!” the Doctor shouted. “We need water! Quintus, all of you, get water! Donna!”

Donna, Quintus and one of the servants ran out of the room for water. But Rhombus stepped towards the creature as if transfixed.

“Blessed are we to see the gods,” the servant vowed.

The creature breathed fire, instantly burning Rhombus into ash.

“Well, here goes,” the Doctor muttered before approaching with his hands out. “Talk to me! Listen to me! I want to talk. Tell me who you are. Don't hurt these people. They are innocent!”

As Donna made her way back with water, two members of the Sisterhood grabbed her, covering her mouth. “Doctor” Doctor!” she cried through the hand, but no one heard her.

Yet Evelina witnessed it, and her eyes widened. Her body stilled as another vision overtook her.

“Talk to me. I'm the Doctor. Tell me who you are.”

The Doctor's words had no effect. The creature prepared to breathe on him, but Quintus and another servant returned with urns. “Doctor!” the young man shouted as he dipped it into the pool. They threw the water at the creature. It wailed in pain as it briefly froze solid before falling and crumbling to pieces.

“What was it?” Caecilius breathed as soon as he could speak.

“Carapace of stone... held together by internal magma,” the Doctor pondered. “Not too difficult to stop. But I believe that's just a foot soldier.”

“Doctor... or whatever your name is... you bring bad luck in this house,” Metella said, trembling.

He looked at her with a hard stare. “I thought your son was brilliant. Aren't you going to thank him?”

Quintus looked bug-eyed at the Doctor, stunned that he would say something so praising. It did the trick, and Metella hugged him with a huge smile.

The Doctor took a deep breath. “Well... there are obviously aliens at work in Pompeii and it's a good thing we stayed, isn't it, Donna?”

There was no answer. He turned around and his eyes widened. “Donna?! Donna, where are you?!”

“The Sisterhood took her on orders from Spurrina, who only answers to the High Priestess.”

Evelina's words horrified the room, but the Doctor's glare sent her trembling as he approached. “Why?”

“I... I shared with them the prophecy she spoke of, of Pompeii's destruction.”

“Through those eyes painted on your hands, the way the Sisterhood show each other things across distances,” he said, not needing to guess. “They see her as a threat because of you.”

“But just as I stopped sharing with the Sisterhood, I had another vision. Of her standing before some... very strange object. She was the Savior of Everything, and must do a great deal before that happens. I am telling you, so you may save her so she can fulfill the destiny that binds you together. You will find her at the Temple of the Sibylline. Walk to the end of Foss street. Take last left onto Via dell-Abbondanza, stay on that street until you cross the plaza and pass the Temple of Appollo. Sibyl's Temple stands at the far end, on the left.”

The Doctor's eyes flashed with hints of the Storm he kept tightly controlled. “If they have harmed her, I promise you that not only will there be no Sisterhood for you to join but that you will be lucky if I leave you to live with yourself for enabling a murder.”

He bolted out of the villa. Fear added to his speed.

Caecilius was the first to find his voice. “Evelina, what have you done?”

“I have righted my mistake, in time,” she answered softly in the face of her father's quiet glare. “But I now fear that Donna's vision is closer to the truth than the Sisterhood knows.”

“How dare you defy me and my authority in this house!” he thundered, startling everyone left in the villa. “I am your father, first and foremost. You have not been given to the Sisterhood yet! Only promised. My word is still law!”

Evelina's eyes filled with tears and she lowered her head, silently acknowledging her father's words. Yet she had no voice to answer him with.

Caecilius felt his own eyes water, and he drew her to him to embrace her. “But you have done the right thing,” he added softly. “The Sisterhood will kill you for defying them. But I am proud of you. No more vapours, my daughter. The Doctor said they are not good for you.”

Then his eyes caught sight of Quintus and he extended a hand out to him. When his son came close he was also drawn into an embrace. “You, too, my son. Proud of you.” He kissed them both.

/=/=/=/=/

“You have got to be kidding me.”

Donna could not believe where she was: lying on a sacrificial altar with her hands bound over her head while a woman with strange paint on her face and hands was holding a dagger above her.

“The false prophet will surrender both her blood and her breath,” the dagger-woman declared before her sisterhood.

“I'll surrender you in a minute. Don't you dare!” Donna said defiantly. “The Doctor will make you pay for this, and you'll wish you only had to deal with me!”

“You will be silent.”

“You might have eyes on the back of your hands but you'll have eyes in the back of your head by the time I finish with you! Let. Me. Go!”

The woman was unmoved. “This prattling will cease... forever.” She raised dagger above her head in preparation to strike.

“Touch her and it'll be your entire Sisterhood whose prattling will cease... prematurely.”

The women of the Sisterhood gasped as they realized the Doctor was behind them. The shock was enough to stay the one woman's hand. “No man is allowed to enter the Temple of Sybil.”

“Oh, that's all right. I'm sort of an old friend of the Sibyl,” he said, stepping closer. The energy of the Storm within was dangerously close to the surface, and it worked to make the Sisterhood step away from Donna and the alter. “Very interesting woman. Knew all the dances of the ages, and could certainly dance a tarantella. And lest you think she was immune to worldly urges, I recall she had a bit of an inclination for me. I said it would never last. She said, 'I know'. Well, she certainly earned the name 'soothsayer'.” He paused to look down at Donna, who looked up at him. “Are you unharmed?”

“Oh, never better,” she grated, sarcastically. Not even sensing the same energy that she felt when she came between him and her mother could halt that from tripping off her tongue.

“I didn't say it before, but the toga suits you,” he said as he reached into his pocket for the sonic.

Donna blushed at the honest praise. “Thank you. And the ropes?”

“Oh, not so much.” He made quick work of the ropes with the sonic.

Donna got up promptly. The woman holding the dagger cried, “What magic is this?”

The Doctor slipped the sonic away, and glared at all the women. His voice boomed through the room. “Let me tell you about the Sibyl... the founder of this religion. She would be ashamed of you lot. All her wisdom and insight turned sour. Is that how you spread the word... Spurrina? On the blade of a knife?”

The woman's jolt of surprise told him that he had correctly attributed the name. But she was defiant. “Yes... a knife that now welcomes you!” she cried, raising the knife.

“Show me this man.”

The Doctor and Donna watched in shock as the Sisterhood all turned towards the curtain, the source of the voice, and kneeled.

“High Priestess, the stranger would defy us!” Spurrina cried, having dropped the dagger in her haste.

“Let me see,” the High Priestess called out, her intrigue evident. “This one is different. He carries starlight in his wake. And yet not the tone the gods said would be shown.”

The Doctor led Donna as he approached the curtain.

“Very perceptive, High Priestess. Where do these words of wisdom come from?”

“The gods whisper to me.”

“Oh, they've done far more than that. I've seen it in the young woman who told me where I would find Donna. Might I beg audience and look upon the High Priestess?”

The curtains parted, their source not evident.

Donna gasped, grabbing the Doctor's arm with her free hand. “Oh my God! What's happened to you?”

The High Priestess sat serenely upon a bed of cushions, looking upon them calmly. Her body was almost converted completely to stone. “The heavens have blessed me.”

The Doctor eyed her transformation. “Of course. This is making sense now. If I might step closer?”

She watched his hand motion, and slowly raised her arm.

The Doctor knelt and touched it. It felt like the stone on Evelina's arm. “Does it hurt?” he asked kindly.

“It is necessary,” she said, matter-of-fact.

“Who told you that?” he asked.

“The voices.”

“Is that what's happening to Evelina?” Donna demanded, turning towards the Sisters. “Is this what's gonna happen to all of you?”

Spurrina approached, pushing her sleeves up. “The blessings are manifold.”

Now that she had the advantage, Donna had no fear of touching her would-be-murderer's arms. “They're stone.”

“Exactly,” the Doctor said. He stood and walked back to Donna's side. “The people of Pompeii are turning to stone before the volcano erupts. But why?”

The High Priestess frowned. “This word... this image in your mind, this 'volcano', what is that?”

“The more important question to ask is, why don't you know about it? Who are you?”

“High Priestess of the Sibyline.”

“No, no, no. I'm talking to the creature inside you. The thing that's seeding itself into a human body, in the dust in the lungs... taking over the flesh and turning it into... what?”

“Your knowledge is impossible.”

“Oh, but you can read my mind to an extent, and you sensed that the timelines have changed from what they once were. You know it's not. I demand you tell me who you are!”

The High Priestess began to stand. “We... are... awakening!” she cried, her voice echoing.

“The voice of the gods!” Spurrina cried as she fell to her knees.

“Words of wisdom, words of power,” the Sisterhood chanted, bodies moving with the words. “Words of wisdom, words of power.”

The Doctor ignored them. “Name yourself! Planet of origin, galactic coordinates, species designation according to the universal ratification of the Shadow Proclamation.”

“We... are... rising!” the High Priestess called out again, still echoing.

“Tell me your name!”

She threw her hood back, revealing no hair on her head. “Pyrovile!”

“Pyrovile. Pyrovile,” the Sisterhood chanted, now repeating that word only.

“What's a Pyrovile?” Donna asked the Doctor.

“That's a Pyrovile... growing inside her. She's at the halfway stage,” he explained.

“Well, and that turns into?”

“That thing in the villa was an adult Pyrovile.”

“And the breath of a Pyrovile will incinerate you, Doctor,” the High Priestess vowed.

“And I'm warning you... I'm armed.” He pulled a water pistol out of his satchel, pointing it right at the High Priestess. “Donna, get that grille open.”

Donna started. “What are...?”

“Please, just do it,” he urged, jerking his head in the grille's direction.

Donna needed no further prompting. She wanted out of there. “Okay.”

“What are the Pyrovile doing here?” the Doctor demanded, keeping aim on the High Priestess.

She seemed unaffected by his threat. “We fell from the heavens. We fell so far and so fast we were rendered into dust.”

“Right. Creatures of stone shatter on impact. When was that, seventeen years ago?”

“We have slept beneath for thousands of years.”

The Doctor accepted that and mused aloud. “Okay, so seventeen years ago woke you up and now you're using human bodies to reconstitute yourself, but why the psychic powers?”

“We opened their minds and found such gifts.”

“Okay, okay, okay. So you force yourself inside a human brain, use the latent psychic talent to bond. I can understand how that works. But seeing the future, that is far beyond psychic. You can see through time. Where does the gift of prophecy come from?”

“I got it!” Donna cried, noticing that her would-be-murderer was watching them intently, no longer chanting. The others still were.

“Good. Now get down,” he commanded, moving backwards towards her, water pistol still aimed at the High Priestess.

“What, down there?” she squawked.

“Yes, down there!” he hissed before turning his full attention back to the Sisterhood, even though he spoke to Donna. “Why can't this lot predict the volcano? Why is it being hidden?”

“Sisters, I see into his mind,” called out Spurrina. “The weapon is harmless.”

“Might be non-lethal, but it's got a right sting to it!” He shot water at the High Priestess, who immediately moaned in pain. The Sisterhood rushed to her side. “That's them distracted. Get down there!”

Donna dropped through the opening, coughing a little against the smoky smell. The Doctor followed a few seconds later. As soon as he was at her side, Donna had to voice how impressed she was, but in her own way. “You fought her off with a water pistol. I bloody love you.”

The Doctor grinned. “Always the charmer, aren't you? This way, Donna.”

“Where are we going now?”

“Into the volcano.”

She stopped still. “No way.”

He nodded, keeping the pistol at his side. “Actually yes. Appian way,” he motioned. “Has to be better than some ways I've been.”

As he led her along, she had to ask. “Like the path that Ohila woman wanted you to go on? What happened after that prophecy?”


Chapter Six: Pushed to the Breaking Point

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
cassikat
Sep. 26th, 2017 08:57 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Someone's angry! But at least Evelina had the fortitude (or vision?) to tell him where to go - and some of the future she could see. Wasn't expecting Caecilius to castigate Evelina, but it was his right as she endangered a guest. Good that he was proud of her late decision to put things right though. And Quintus - I always thought he was just acting out cos Evelina was gifted. Good that he got some recognition from his dad!

And there's the Storm again...shivers! But I like how Donna hardly even gives a flip, just gets all sarcastic with him. Some nice differences...but it's starting to make me wonder, all these soothsayers and seers saying he should have been Hedgehog Hair - how much further is that going to play into things as the series goes on? (I know, you can't say. I had to ask though. *L*)

And still the water pistol! This time in his satchel, rather than his jacket, but still! Love that water pistol! And...are they flirting?! Or just being cheeky?

*dundundun!* Time for another flashback? Ooo!
tkel_paris
Sep. 27th, 2017 12:30 am (UTC)
I always wondered whether she told the Doctor in canon. Here I knew she had to because she already saw evidence that Donna had to live. Eight's already lost enough to not be in a conciliatory mood. And Donna might get hit with a little of it. And that's all the spoilers you're getting. :)

The difference is not something much of the universe will be prepared for. Things are still settling from what Eight does in the upcoming flashback chapters, and he has no idea how much that will alter other events. Have a different Doctor and it's an utterly different dynamic to the episode.

Had to keep that. Well... maybe Donna's teasing is encouraging Eight's cheeky side and allows for some playful banter that could become flirting. Again, can't say for sure. ;D

And just because you posted two comments today... I'm going to post the next part early! :DDDDD
helloprilly
Sep. 27th, 2017 02:09 am (UTC)
Ooooo I like it! Especially with the Doctor's rage focused squarely on evelina. She at least realized enough to know that Donna absutely HAD to live.

Super excited to see what happens next and the explanation the flashback chapters will bring.

The Doctor has always been less than concilliatory in his later lives, interesting to see that 8 was the same way if not even moreso.
tkel_paris
Sep. 27th, 2017 02:33 am (UTC)
Without spoilers, I can say that Eight's been through a lot of loss and pain. That altered him to a dark place, and now with Donna he can really come out into the light again. Thus becoming more like he was at the start. But he isn't ready to lose anyone else, and so the Storm is bubbling close to the surface under that restraint.

But I'm not sure I'd say he was less conciliatory than his successors. He tried as hard as any to save lives, although he would call someone an idiot if they deserved it.

The next flashback will be interesting. I assure you. :D
helloprilly
Sep. 27th, 2017 12:26 pm (UTC)
Hmmm well I am fascinated to see where he goes from here. The Doctor never did loss well at least towards his later incarnations so depending on the manner of that loss I can see how it would definitely let the rage out of its containment more readily.

Cant wait want it NOW! LOL. 😜
tkel_paris
Sep. 27th, 2017 02:19 pm (UTC)
Eight had two major ones back-to-back in canon, and the flashback parts are set practically right after it happened. And he was put through the wringer afterward. Add what's happening next in these flashbacks and you'll see why he's not got a lot to be happy about. He has to find hope again. I'm yet to listen to Dark Eyes, so I don't know how much of it he found before he met Donna here.

It's up! :D
helloprilly
Sep. 27th, 2017 09:07 pm (UTC)
oooo okay, well I can't wait to see where it goes!

*falls over myself to get to the next chapter*
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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