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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 / Chapter Five


Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii

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



Chapter Six: Pushed to the Breaking Point

Things were absolutely quiet on Karn in the aftermath of Ohila's prophecy. Not even the Sisterhood could make a sound to be heard over the quiet wind that was the constant companion of the transplanted inhabitants.

Even the Loom was silent.

The Doctor looked at Ohila in horror. That she believed everything she said was alarming enough. But to know that the dreadful remnants of the Dark Ages that were supposed to be guarding the population of Karn – if you used the term loosely – were missing?

He stumbled to his feet and moved towards the TARDIS. The Sisterhood parted silently, still in shock yet aware enough to know he was no threat to them. Nor should they be one to him. Their eyes were on the object that had shocked their leader, and nothing had happened to force their attention away.

The Doctor made it to the TARDIS doors but did not open them. He preferred to know that the Sisterhood had moved away, for the Old Girl's sake. But he did lean against them, head resting on the familiar blue wood that offered a little bit of comfort. That calm solidarity, that unfailing absolute in a universe of questions and lies and half-truths. He begged the silent witness, the Old Girl herself, to tell him he was hallucinating and the Guardians were there, just out of sight. Perhaps a trick of the eye, or the light? But the Old Girl, her ancient song in his mind, denied him any such reassurance.

“I knew that things were heating up, but I thought that I had time to work on other things,” he breathed, barely loud enough to be called a whisper as the reality sank in. “How stressful and terrible have things become on Gallifrey that Romana would think about bringing about things that might bring about a Time War? Can she even see what the risks are? Have I been away too long? What can I do to stop her?”

He could feel soft waves of energy pulsing gently through the wood. The TARDIS was trying to offer a bit more comfort than her mere physical presence did.

His lips could not attempt a smile, but his mood lifted ever so slightly. “Thank you, Old Girl. But which weapon does she mean? There are so many left in the vaults, weapons we swore we would never use and left locked away. But... if the High Council got engrossed in a war and things got desperate then I could see some arguing to unlock the deepest vaults. Yet which one could be called female? Ohila spoke like this weapon either gained sentience or was sentient before becoming trapped into a weapon. There could only be- No. No, no, no. It can't be.”

“Doctor?”

He jumped and whipped around. He had been so engrossed in his thoughts that he allowed someone who might be a formidable opponent to startle him. “Orethena?”

Only she seemed anything but as she spoke. “The Chief Priestess has requested you remain a while longer. She has more to say to you now that she is recovered.”

The Doctor looked behind her and noticed that Ohila and the rest of the Sisterhood were nowhere in sight. That was just as well. Haspira still seemed out for his blood, At least this one, the one who had acted in charge when he and Lucie were brought to the Sisterhood's hiding place, could see reason as he knew it. “No one else has touched the object, have they?”

She frowned but was prompt in answering. “No. I asked if it was safe and she said that now that she and the object understood each other it would trust her to carry it. She took it to her chambers and bade us all to remain outside.”

“So that none of you may know where she hides it. I approve.”

“Why would you bring something of Gallifrey here?”

“Think why an individual would wish to hide something. You can likely come close enough to the reason to understand. And in light of this news about possible war consuming Gallifrey my decision is wiser than I knew at the time I chose to come here. Not that I wished to return.”

She lowered her gaze and spoke softly. “The Chief Priestess has spoken with Haspira and myself in sharp terms. She made it clear that we could have interpreted the visions differently. As was the case in many of the legends from the planet your companion came from.”

He winced at the mention of Lucie, but held in the grief. It sounded like the closest he would get to an apology given how proud Orethena was. Not that it would help him much. “I wasn't aware that she knew of any of them.”

Orethena grimaced, but there was a hint of amusement. “She said there was a king who sought an oracle's advice on whether he should invade another king's domain. The oracle said that if he attacked, he would destroy a great kingdom.”

“And he never thought that the kingdom would be his own. Yes, prophecies can be read in multiple ways. As much as evidence in a criminal case requires interpretation to be understandable.”

“And yet to challenge the words of a prophet of the Pythia used to be punishable by death.”

“It isn't still, here?”

“So many of us were killed when Rassilon exiled us,” she spat. “We are lucky to have been able to continue our kind.”

“At least your people can. Ours lost what abilities we had many millennia ago, by the hand of your own ancestor,” he spat back. “Technology had to come to our aid and now even that has failed for most of us. So your anger with me is a mere trifling in comparison, wouldn't you agree?”

The Karnaan was stunned that he would willingly admit to such a thing, and more so to hear the actions of her ancestor thrown in her face. She staggered back, unable to meet his gaze.

The satisfaction he felt was very welcome.

Then Orethena suddenly turned and bowed. Ohila was approaching again, only accompanied by Haspira. The leader's cloak partly concealed the Karnaan version of a satchel, looking rather like a simple cloth bag in the same red as much of the robes themselves.

The latter's face was wide in alarm. “Chief Priestess, I beg you-!”

“Enough!” Ohila snapped, turning on Haspira and making her fall to her knees in supplication. “You are still too blood-thirsty. Remember what I told you before. Perhaps in killing those Time Lords you made our lives worse once Morbius was defeated. Had you succeeded in killing the Doctor our Sisterhood would have perished at Moribus' hand!”

The Doctor watched as Haspira was reduced to a whimpering wreck. He thought about speaking and decided against it. He had to wait for the Chief Priestess to calm.

Ohila nodded slightly as she saw her over-eager sister silently plead that she had learned the lesson. “I am resolved. The visions I saw say that I am needed.”

Orethena found her voice. “But what will happen to you if you arrive on Gallifrey?!”

The Doctor's eyes popped, and he recoiled. “Ohila, you can't be serious!”

“I saw myself helping you, Doctor. My sisters and daughters need me to ensure your quest is successful. You will need my help. And so will Gallifrey.”

“But a Karnaan won't be safe on Gallifrey.”

Just after he said it, something echoed in his mind. Like a memory forgotten or altered. Had Ohila been on Gallifrey before? He could almost swear that his last self had seen her there. But the memory faded from view too quickly for him to make sense of it.

“With the right actions my presence shall be tolerated, if not accepted. And what you are remembering is an echo of the timeline as it was, Doctor. Somehow that object's being located allowed a tiny shift in the timelines, which permits you to act. Your memories will be sharpened once back on Gallifrey.”

He grimaced and shifted awkwardly at her words. Such alterations were not spoken of among his people, and for her to say it here smarted. “Even Romana would not go against the traditions of our people.”

“Not unless they are proved to be wrong. She has seen differently, has she not?”

It now seemed strange that he preferred to think about the horrific dangers that accompanied the criminal Skagra's quest to find Shada, the ancient prison of Gallifrey, than what Ohila was asking. And yet he could not help but remember the end events or what he and Romana spoke of after. “We both know our ancestors acted horribly and without justification. Yet I do not know how much she understands that it extends to you and your kin. And there is the matter of convincing her to let me act and to keep the High Council out of the way.”

“What is the one way you can be certain that they will all obey you?”

His face contorted into a giant grimace while his body jolted like he had been shocked by a voltage that would have felled a Human. “You can't be serious! I can't do that again! It nearly killed me the last time!”

“Is there any other way? And what else will ensure that you have the power to stop the World-Ender?”

He wanted to argue with her. He wanted to find any other option than what she was suggesting! He could not imagine going through with that awful situation again.

And yet the danger to what family he had left, not to mention Gallifrey and the whole universe, was driving him to come up with a drastic solution. There was no other option than what Ohila was urging him to do.

He sighed heavily, leaning against the TARDIS. The weight of the burdens placed on him were keeping him from making his usual gestures or posture. In a small sense, he had hoped to share that weight with the TARDIS, but it seemed a vain hope indeed. “Fine, fine, fine. Come on. We probably have no time to lose. At least, if the usual things happen around me. But only you, Ohila.”

She nodded and looked at Orethena and Haspira. “Keep the Sisterhood's rituals going. Do not worry. I shall return. My going to Gallifrey will create a bridgehead that will keep our worlds on the same speed.”

Her subordinates knew when they were outmaneuvered, and bowed to her silently.

/=/=/=/=/

They had been journeying for a few minutes without a word said. He was focusing completely on making sure the TARDIS went exactly where she was supposed to go, no detours allowed.

“So far all is well,” the Doctor noted. “No time eddies, no strange readings to throw the Old Girl off. She seems as determined to arrive promptly as we are.”

Ohila sat quietly in the Jump Seat. Her eyes looked around the whole Control Room in silent contemplation of her surroundings. Her own hovel notwithstanding, the place could certainly use a woman's touch, but she said nothing. The Doctor's lack of a woman was her fault, indirectly. That said, he did not seem to have wasted any time at all in doing a little cleaning himself, either. In fact, she was silently contemplating the miss-match of architectural styles, from the ancient to the contemporary to the absurd, which jostled for space in the eaves of what had to be an ostentatious basilica. Either that, or he had gained notoriety most recently for his arrogance. She kept these thoughts to herself.

He looked at her, noting the path that her eyes traversed. He could guess some of her thoughts. “You haven't said a word since your orders to your Sisterhood. Did you have a vision of what the TARDIS looked like inside? Did you know what we have done with technology and science? Or were you noticing the décor, instead?” he added blandly. “I'm very aware that at the moment, a strong argument could be made that it looks like a half-finished cathedral in the wings of a theatre, where the designers took one look at it, threw their hands in the air and decided to go home. The fact is, the TARDIS ran out of energy in the Growing Room half way through the remodelling work. Let's just say, the lamentable tastes of my previous incarnations are not just crimes against fashion, but crimes against sentience. It's simply not been a high priority of late.”

Those were not questions she had been expecting, and that was no small feat on his part. She thanked the Grand Prophetess – with a guarded amount of spite regardless – that he had not asked her opinion of his or his predecessors' taste in décor and design. That might have proven her undoing in its answering. Better to stay on firmer ground, and he had given her an out in the process.“A great many good things were made possible by Rassilon's vision for Gallifrey. I can and shall concede that, Doctor.”

He blinked at her. “What?! You can say that after his orders to exile your people?”

“The ancient Gallifreyans were far too war-like. Even the Pythia demanded far too much of her followers. Progress cannot be made without some challenges to the existing powers. She could not accept that. Magic was the be-all and end-all for her and nothing else was needed.”

“So you believe that time travel has its merits?”

“Like all things, there must be balance. Once a technology is created there will always be those who will use it to their own advantage and not care about others. Therefore, people like yourself must be guardians of Time, to ensure there is no lasting damage caused by those who would use Time for their own ends.”

“Like the World-Ender? What if the stories about its abilities are exaggerated?”

“What if they understated because they did not know what Rassilon had truly permitted to exist?”

“If those legends are correct then the World-Ender was imprisoned at a great cost. Destroying it will not be easy.”

“I never said that the journey before you would be easy.”

“No, you said very little. Which I suppose I should be thankful for. The last thing I need are fixed points that don't need to be there.”

Ohila took a deep breath, all blinking ceasing.

The Doctor knew very little about the Pythia's descendants. What he thought he knew might be the propaganda of Rassilon's followers to discredit the Karnaan and make the Time Lords convinced that their peoples were two distinct species. However, he wondered how much difference really existed between the Gallifreyans and the Karnaans. Many things he had taken for granted, however reluctantly, had been proved false over the course of his adventures. What else would be cast aside here?

The TARDIS landed with a gentle bump, preventing him from asking questions for the moment. “There. I've landed us inside the Presidential Quarters. It's the sort of thing they've come to expect from me. Ohila, are you well?”

She shook herself, as if shivering from cold. “Your words, Doctor. I just sensed that someone will try to do that to you.”

“You mean the World-Ender?”

“No. I mean someone in the future. She seemed strange, like her very existence ought to have been prevented. I sense in her the very danger that the Lady Lord President will unintentionally unleash on the universe if you do not succeed.”

“You spoke to them like you were confident.”

“If I had not, they would have attacked you. That would serve no useful purpose to Time or the Universe.”

He sighed. “Okay, okay, okay. Time to see what it'll take to convince Romana that this is necessary. I doubt begging will work like the last time.”

He was not looking at Ohila and thus missed the twitching of her lips in amusement. And missed sensing her thoughts about how fortunate the Doctor was that there were no recordings of that or many would have excellent blackmail material to use against him. Of course, she was quite able to do just that without knowing the full details, but that was not why she had come.

Instead of commenting on that rather untimely topic, Ohila followed the Doctor to the TARDIS doors.

“Normally I might let a lady exit first, but given the danger to yourself I must insist that you wait for me to summon you to come out. I know that goes against everything you have ever believed and been told, but believe me when I say I want to keep you safe from harm.”

“I accept it, Doctor. Now get to it.”

He took a deep breath. “Well, here goes,” he muttered as he opened the doors.

“Doctor?!”

“Doctor?”

“Barging in as usual?”

The last remark was not unexpected from Romana given her situation, but the first two responses were surprises since it was unusual for the Gallifreyan equivalent of a policeman and his wife to gain an audience with the Lord President. Even now. “Ah! Leela! Andred! It's good to see you both!”

“Good to see you, too, sir,” said Andred, still as polite as ever.

“Must be an interesting summons that brings a Guard and his wife to an audience with the Lady Lord President. How is married life treating you?”

“We are well-”

“He has to say that or I will gut him with his own sword.”

The Doctor's lips twitched. Leela was the same as ever, no matter the veneer of civilization she carried. “Quite. Not tamed her at all yet, then, Andred?”

“Er, no. I can't say that I have. But she has tamed me.”

“Good god,” groaned Romana, drawing all their attention on her and stopping Leela from a bit of bragging. “All those years in the TARDIS and you thought I'd seen it all. Tell me, since as you can see I am rather busy, what is it that you want, Doctor?”

Get on with it,” Ohila hissed into the Doctor's mind. She smirked secretively, feeling his jolt of surprise.

“Very well. I would not be here if I hadn't received a warning about something you're planning, Romana. And finding my former companion and my distant cousin here does not comfort me.”

She did not react. “And does any of that have anything to do with whoever is still inside your TARDIS?”

The Doctor eyed her. “Why would you think that, Romana?”

“You started right before you got to the point. I sensed someone communicating telepathically with you, but I could hear none of it. It makes sense that they are inside. But you hardly take stock of prophecies.”

“This one came from someone I must trust sees accurately.”

Ohila took that as her cue to appear, and did so. At once, Andred had his sword drawn and held out in front of him, ready to defend the Doctor and the Lord President. Leela had no idea what was so dangerous about the woman, but she trusted her husband to be right and plucked out a small hunting knife that she still carried at her belt. In contrast, Romana let out a frightful yell of horror and disgust that such a creature could be on Gallifrey at all, much less in her private office. She wrenched open a drawer behind her desk and plucked out a small handgun and pointed it at Ohila.

The Doctor tried to silently placate all three, with arms and hands outstretched as he stepped between them and Ohila. However, time would tell if he was successful or not. And he had even bigger concerns. Three Chancellery Guards rushed in, probably at the sound of Romana's cry.

“Get out!” the Doctor bellowed, barely sparing them a glance.

The Guard practically fumbled over each other as they hurried out even faster than they had come in. So, he still had some sway as a former Lord President. Good. That was very good. Brilliant, even.

Only Ohila was calm. She had already seen this reaction. She was destined to see the man and wife again soon enough, at which point their reactions would be vastly different to the greeting they gave her now. But her attention focused on Romana.

“Lady Lord President, you know not what you would unleash with this attempt to prevent the Curse from ever happening. Two timelines would exist side-by-side, and the only way to keep the Universe from collapsing under the strain would be to give injections to every last person on this planet, to corrupt them genetically. You would unleash a collection of Neverweres, children who would only exist had the Curse never happened. And then would come the Meanwhiles, whose existence would make every Time Lord's stomach churn before they are used to take over this and other worlds. And that would all happen before you make the ultimate mistake of reviving Rassilon – at the wrong point in his life! And all this after you convince these two to trust that you can help them conceive. Only you will turn husband against wife by telling him when it suits you that she was unfaithful and the child is not his, and he abandons them to their fate. And it is all possible because Leela trusts you as a friend.”

The Doctor's mouth slackened. The only reason he could believe it was that it solidified the memories of what had been. He had come to Gallifrey as his last incarnation, and Leela had sought his help for her and her unborn son. And yet now that somehow never happened. Or not yet. Something or someone was meddling with his timeline.

Romana was appalled, but not convinced to trust her, even if she had exposed the core of what she had planned to do. And that was the part she reacted to. Her aim wavered as she gave in to the guilt she had refused to let herself feel earlier.

Leela and Andred's gaze flicked from the intruder to Romana and back again. They moved back a step as one, feeling very uneasy about the woman's announcement. But there was a certain ring to it that dug at them. And it struck them both at the same time. Romana had used Leela's friendship to draw them in today as pawns in her game. And they had never seen it coming.

“If your wish is to conceive, I can make that possible,” Ohila told the couple. “But this woman should not be a part of your plans. No child, even yours, would live long in such circumstances. Can you not see that? Trust me. A child of your union created with her help would be a hybrid, and that would cause a war of such magnitude that even Gallifrey would fall.” She knew very well that she was using the most persuasive language she could summon, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

“How dare you spout your vile prophecies-!”

“The prophecies concerning the Hybrid are manifest from the dawn of this civilisation!” Ohila snapped, cutting Romana off. “You've forgotten to read them, and I wonder if you even remember how,” she added in disgust.

“I have no use for prophecies!” Romana threw back at her. “The magic of your species is not welcome here. You have no right. Andred, arrest this creature! Have the Chancellery Guard execute her at once!”

The Doctor watched in horror as the fiasco played out before him. Romana was engrossed in her plans, utterly convinced that it was the only way. He'd seen that in many a megalomaniac who started out with what might have once been good intentions. “The road to Hell really is paved with them,” he whispered to himself. “This requires something drastic to get through to her.”

He marched right up to Romana, who was carrying on with her rant and not aware that Andred was hesitating to carry out the order.

“I will not have you corrupting the minds of my citizens with your filth! That is why your species was banned from Galli-!”

The Doctor grabbed Romana and butted foreheads. Hard enough that the sound was clearly heard by all five of them.

“Ah!” Romana squawked. She held her head, dropping the handgun into the drawer, and moaned.

“What was that, Doctor?” Leela demanded. She heard Andred beside her cough an almost-laugh, to which she threw him a glare and slapped his arm.

“A rather forceful way of transferring memories,” he explained as he briefly rubbed his head. “Now she can see what I have chosen to share, as though she were the one who lived through it. She had to see why I've brought Ohila to Gallifrey, what led me to Karn in the first place, and what I need of her. It will leave her with a right headache, but that will fade. Eventually.”

Romana looked up at him through the haze of pain. “You hated it. You told me many times. How can you-?”

“It is the only way I can have the power needed to contain the World-Ender as I make sure she can't force a future me to do something dreadful in order to protect the Universe. I need the Keys. Romana, abdicate in my favour.”


Chapter Seven: Multiple Explosions

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
helloprilly
Sep. 28th, 2017 12:29 am (UTC)
DAGNABBIT. it reads so awesome but I am soooo lost!! *LOL*

Written very well and I remember reading about Leela and Andred in some of my research but I obviously need to research the actual Time War more... :D

super exciting though because I think I can figure out WHAT he is referring to at the end... oo ooo...
tkel_paris
Sep. 29th, 2017 02:49 am (UTC)
Bear in mind, I'm also writing about characters I have either barely seen or barely heard of. So I had to be spoiled quite a bit in order to write this. :)

It's going to get tense in two chapters, I can tell you that. ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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