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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.

And the pleas of bas_math_girl encouraged me to post as soon as I finished some other goals today. You're welcome. :D


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six / Chapter Seven


Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii

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


Chapter warning: A bit of violence within. Brace yourself... *runs off to hide until tomorrow*


Chapter Eight: Dangerous Confrontations

Gallifrey – the Year One Billion

Romana stared at the Doctor in disbelief. She remembered well his complaints about having to take on the Lord Presidency, his distrust of having such power in his hands. It was not pleasant to listen to, and she had felt fairly comfortable taking on the power herself despite all the odds against her.

Outside the room the guards stood by, ready to act yet holding back. They needed an order or provocation to attack the interloper from Karn. But the Doctor was now standing right in their way, and he was a former Lord President. The laws and traditions were clear about what happened to those who attacked one without authorization, and the Chancellory Guard was expected to obey orders from them as well, short of a few exceptions.

At last Romana closed her eyes briefly and exhaled loudly. The act was unusual for her, and caught even Leela's attention. “Who are you?”

The difference in tone, the lack of violence, and the resignation reassured Ohila, who somehow stood taller and filled the room. “I am Ohila, Chief Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn. I am heir to the Pythia, and it is my interference that prevented the Doctor and his last companion from being killed by two of my Sisterhood.”

The Doctor blinked. “I thought Orethena came to the decision to let us go herself.”

Ohila smiled and shook her head. “You could not hear me speaking to them. I had only just discovered what they had done and stopped them. They chose to make it look like they were the ones in charge, and I made them pay for that presumption. Only a need to keep them alive would have spared them in the Dark Ages, but I am more compassionate than my ancestors.”

Romana shook her head. “But why should I believe you even if my good friend does?”

“I will refer to the one thing that I suspect encouraged some of your more stringent opponents to cease their challenge to your assuming the Lord Presidency. There was a prophecy from the Dark Ages about a woman taking the office. Find it in its entirety, and then tell me that there is nothing to prophecy.”

The Doctor watched with baited breath as Romana turned to her computer and pressed a few buttons. He knew the system well enough to know which she pressed and could guess the search she ran. He eyed her reaction as the information sped across the screen. Her expression, normally so placid and focused, slackened as her face paled sharply.

“What is it, Romana?” asked Leela, one of the few who could speak to her so.

Romana swallowed and read the words without emotion. “'A lady of a good house, brilliant and determined and originally promised to a former Lord President, shall be recognised by the Keys as the rightful Lord President. Then she will pacify past and present and future to separate the Unholy Time from the Holy Time and three worlds will be opened in one place in order to bring forth new generations. Her actions, though noble and compassionate, will open the Eye of Harmony, burning all of Gallifrey and her sisters through a war that shall unleash the worst creations of Gallifrey upon the Universe and Time. It will reopen the Rift at the Heart of Medusa, bringing about the Final Victory that will switch off the suns.'”

Leela was utterly silent. She was never so unless she was hunting. And she was unaware of her husband's equal shock. He had mentioned something of a prophecy to her when Romana had become Lady Lord President, but had been ignorant of the details. Now, they all knew too many. “Has anyone read that prophecy in detail since the Dark Ages?” she asked quietly.

“None, I fear.” the Doctor answered for her. “But is that all there is to the prophecy, Romana?”

Romana shook her head numbly. “Yet if she listens to an old friend and someone she views as an enemy of her people, she will help stop the true demon in their midst and heal the breach between all Gallifreyans. In trusting the man who would have been her husband shall she save all of Gallifrey – acknowledged and unacknowledged.'”

All could see the fight going out of her.

Andred's voice was shaky as he asked a shocked question. “That cited Karnaans as being the same species as the Rassionites? And to think we were taught otherwise.” He looked to Romana and the Doctor for confirmation or otherwise. He only saw the former, which unsettled him. All he had been taught about the past seemed to be lies.

The Doctor vaguely heard the horrified sounds of the Guards outside. He figured the shock would keep word from spreading before it could be properly handled.

“I have to summon the High Council,” Romana said.

“There may not be time, Romana. They will cause delays we can't afford and I want this over with as soon as possible. We have to do it in its simplest form,” the Doctor insisted.

“You think it shall be as easy as my taking off the Keys and you putting them back on?!”

“You will not know until you carry it out,” Ohila said, calm as you please.

The Doctor decided to ignore the smug hint in his kin's voice. “Well, what say you, Romana?”

After a few seconds Romana walked slowly to the table in the center of the room. It was a table easily ignored as unimportant and out-of-place, being small and round, like an occasional table, unadorned with lamp or book and standing by itself in the middle of the room. But it was neither unimportant nor out-of-place, nor was it unadorned. Its surface was inlaid with richly colored wood to form the Seal of Rassilon, and from it rose an invisible field of energy. In the ancient texts, it was rumored that the hand of Rassilon was embedded within the wood, but no one had dared take the table apart to prove it. And, indeed, the energy would have killed them had they tried. It gave the Holder of The Keys instant access to the Mind of Rassilon. Were any President given to cheat or lie or break the laws as set out by Rassilon while in office and after, the energy field would erase such thoughts. She half hoped the field would find him in error, but she suspected and feared, since reading the prophecy, that she would not.

The Doctor walked to stand across from her. The others all waited in silence as she took out the Badge of Office, and placed it on the table, right in the center of the inlay. At once, rings and symbols embedded in the wood, hitherto invisible, lit up with a golden light from within and the rising air above it hummed and prickled at the Doctor's and Romana's faces. The Power of Rassilon had locked them both into place, and reading their minds, their intent and their status.

After several seconds, Romana spoke, her voice firm and steady. Steadier than she felt.

“Powers of Rassilon, of the Great Keys of the Lord Presidency, I relinquish all claim to you as the Doctor needs you to defend against a grave threat that I did not see coming. For the safety of Gallifrey and the Universe and all of Creation, free me and let him control you once more as Lord President!”

Her hands were freed. She first removed the Crown, then set down the Rod, and finally removed the Sash. She shuddered slightly for a few seconds and then exhaled in relief. “They are out of my head.”

“Very well.” With that the Doctor used his now freed hands and took the items in reverse order, ignoring the gasps around him and saying nothing the whole time. Only his giant grimace and closed eyes told them that he was feeling the effects of the Keys on his mind.

Then he gave himself a slight shake before opening his eyes again. His expression was clear and his resolve firm. “I need to go to the Vaults immediately.”

“Now?” Romana blurted.

“No reason to wait.”

“Doctor, we are going with you,” Andred said. From the look on his wife's face she was on the verge of saying it first, although she did not slap his arm for it.

“No! No one else is going to put themselves at risk. I don't think I can risk removing the World-Ender from the Vault.”

“You'll need help nearby,” Ohila insisted. “She will not make things easy, and there are other grave weapons that would attempt to beguile you.”

“And how would I be certain that they are safe? Have them inside the TARDIS?”

“Yes.”

“I agree with her,” Romana said.

“What?!” the Doctor breathed.

“What if this injures you? Help nearby could mean the difference between life and death, and I am not prepared to see my old friend die yet.”

Ohila looked like she had a thought on that, but she held it in. To speak it would be too much shared too soon. Instead, she voiced a suggestion. “Surely the TARDIS can be set to guard against intruders of any type, keeping those within shielded as she acts powered down.”

“The World-Ender may see through it.”

“She will not be expecting this you, and that will work to our advantage. And perhaps your Keys will act as an additional shield by keeping her attention on yourself, which is already to be expected.”

He had no answer to that. “Get in,” he muttered, waving to Leela, Andred, Romana, and Ohila. He looked briefly toward the doors. “You, Guards, keep anyone else from coming in here!” he ordered.

The Guards leaned in and watched in silence as the quintet entered the TARDIS and it dematerialized.

/=/=/=/=/

As soon as the TARDIS had landed, the Doctor pressed a series of levers and buttons. “Okay, I've diverted all the power I can to the shielding. It's all I can do to protect you. Stay inside no matter what until the danger is clearly passed.”

Leela was not entirely convinced. “You are certain? How many times have you been wrong about not needing help?”

“This time, anyone not protected by the Keys has no chance. Notice that not even the leader of the old Magic Lords dares to step outside. Now, wait here in the Control Room!”

With that, he walked out and firmly closed the doors behind him.

Romana hurried to the screen and powered it up so that they could watch through the TARDIS' eyes. “This will tell us if we do need to help, whatever the cost.”

Leela and Andred joined on either side of her to see, even despite their new distrust of her. Ohila chose not to watch the screen. Instead she stared in the direction of the doors, but was really seeing outside without any help from the ship. “By the powers of my birthright, to mother-dirt and father-time, to the vouces of the air, to the waters of the sky, to the fires of the earth beneath and to the ancients of life, death, and rebirth; please keep my kin safe,” she whispered so quietly that not even Romana's ears could pick it up.

/=/=/=/=/

The Doctor stepped up to the doors of the most ancient part of the Vaults of the Forbidden of All Gallifrey. There was dust on them, a sign that they had been left alone since Rassilon sealed them away at the start of his era of peace. Once he had become Rassilon the Benevolent he had been a better person than his predecessors. “Perhaps that was the best thing he did amongst all the other beginnings of Time Lord culture,” he mused aloud as he drew out the Sonic to break open the locks.

They gave a cracking sound as they released, and he set them aside before pushing the doors open. The creaking did little to reassure him as he made his way inside, using the Sonic to light the fixtures within the Vaults to help him locate the one he needed; the Vault of Forbidden Weapons. The door, more a fate of wrought iron, was not even locked, and wailed like an angry cat as he pushed it open.

The room was lighter than he expected. Although most was in shadow he could see the outlines of things he had only ever imagined when he and his Academy classmates had heard the whispers about them. Koschei had been particularly interested. No surprise there.

The whispering from the weapons was no surprise, either. They seemed to all speak to him at once. Or 'at' him, to be precise. Enough that it was difficult to make out specific voices. But he could sense the power source behind the legendary lasers that had probably caused the damage to the various continents of Gallifrey, the devices that had created the Cloister Wraiths in the first place, and the awful guns that he was sure all the Pythia's followers' descendants cursed on a daily basis in their genetic memory. The ones that allowed the Time Lords to round the Magic Lords up and force them onto the ships for Karn. The mental weight felt like walking through molasses.

But none held his interest for long. What caught and held his gaze was the object with the best lighting in the room. He approached and paced slowly around it to take its measure. It was a large box, made from Gallifreyan blood mahogany wood, equal in all dimensions, including the forth, in which an empty universe dwelt, inhabited by one being - sleeping at present, for which the Doctor was glad. Each side of the box differed from the others. One facet held nothing but a slot for the Seal of Rassilon, and two small lights, which for now were unlit. Another was the face of a clock, keeping the time since the Demon had been locked inside. The third side was written the name of the creature imprisoned behind it; Bad Wolf, which the Doctor did not dare utter, even in his mind. It was a summoning spell. On the forth side was a keypad of oddly shaped buttons, the correct sequences for which would unlock the box. On the fifth side was the locking mechanism itself, a simple collection of geared wheels. Each of the decorations were gilt in gold and the box itself was rimmed in bronze. And on the final facet was a text, written in ancient Gallifreyan symbols. Less of a message, but more of a warning. None were alive now who could read it.

None save the Doctor himself; taught in secret by the Hermit of Mount Lung. A secret he had been sworn to keep by the very man who gave him his title. The writing of the Dark Times was forbidden and forgotten. Even the TARDIS, locked by the addition of the Record of Rassilon, a Key of Rassilon itself, was unable to translate it for him. But to the Doctor, the words were as clear as if written in New Gallifreyan: Behold the Moment. He who presses my lever unleashes the World-Ender upon many systems.

The Doctor narrowed his eyes. “Understatement, I'm sure. Except there is no lever,” he whispered aloud as he stared at the box's top, eying for anything that he should be wary of touching. “The legends spoke of a big red lever. It must be in hiding at the top.”

Then he noticed that the chattering inside his head had silenced. The other weapons had noticed where his attention was.

“Don't want to attract her attention, do you?” he asked the room softly. “Wise choice. Now... do I risk scanning it? I don't yet want to pick it up, and yet I need something more. Well, here goes.”

He raised the sonic screwdriver and aimed the gentlest scan he could manage, trying to see the inner workings as best he could. “Awfully simplistic,” he mused as he translated the sounds coming back to him. “Almost no lock on it at all. How has she not simply opened the box and escaped? Or, more importantly, why?”

He failed to notice the odd-shaped buttons on the fourth side lighting up silently in sequence, inadvertently pressed by the sonic cadence of the scan. Suddenly, the top opened. He stopped the scan and stepped back. A handle rose out of the top. It was the same color as the etchings, and looked like metal petals covering a center. Those edges lowered once the handle stopped moving, revealing a deep rose-colored gem.

“The lever,” he whispered. “What would activate her powers.”

His senses prickled and his eyes widened. “She's coming,” he whispered. “I'm ready to face her. Good that my companions for this adventure listened. I cannot be too careful, even if this is a departure from my history.”

Then he heard the footsteps he had been dreading. They came from the shadows right at the edge of the Vault and were softer than he was expecting. “But perhaps that was the plan,” he whispered to himself as he moved into the shadows opposite her, to not be in sight when she entered fully formed. “She wishes to appear harmless.”

At last the physical form that the Moment had created for herself appeared. He took in her appearance, the image she had chosen to beguile him.

She wore the tattered garments of an initiate of the Academy. She seemed like a Human teenager, her hair wild like it was teased within an itch of its life – unless it was naturally that way. Although his eyes told him that the color did not look typical for a Gallifreyan. A Gallifreyan who naturally had hair that was light everywhere except at the roots and with their eyebrows matching those dark roots was rarer than smiles from the Monks who guarded the Untempered Schism. Her dark eyes appeared innocent, but he could swear he saw a hint of something deadly in them. And her face was distinctive, one which some might call lovely and others would not. The expression bothered him, for it reminded him of the worst in Human teenagers.

But he could see her with clear eyes. Unlike the future him who was supposed to have met her. That future him was clouded by grief, but not by the weight of a galactic war that he had taken reluctant part in. Or perhaps not quite so reluctant, as he did not know what his next self would be like. Either way, he was far more prepared than the time-lines originally expected. So much the better.

At first, she looked around, as if curious about her surroundings. Then she caught sight of him and stilled. Her eyes widened briefly before she adopted the curious look again. “Who are you?”

He stood slowly, allowing himself a tiny smile at her poorly concealed dismay. “I'm the Doctor. But obviously not the one you were expecting.”

She tried to conceal her dismay, and began playing the game she was meant to play with the War Doctor, this man's ninth self. She brought out her seductive and deepest malevolence, allowing it to burn in her eyes for an instant as she closed the gap between them. She looked him up and down, licking her lips, like a Dominatrix about to strike.

But he was not falling for her act, and that stalled her, rooting her to the spot. None of her telepathic words were getting through to his mind. She was ready to play a careful word game to tempt him into falling into her guise of innocence. But he was not inclined to fall for such tricks. The look in his eyes silently called her out on her child-like appearance, like he was disgusted with her attempt at seduction. It felt like a game of cat and mouse, but who was which flip-flopped so rapidly it left her dizzy and confused. It was like the Doctor was using that surprise to keep her on her toes. She was rapidly losing the will to continue the battle of wits.

The Doctor, a blank wall to her, and he knew it, was painfully aware that there was a skill needed to make his plan work. A plan formed in his mind, shielded from her advances, as he managed to outwit her and translate the readings from the Sonic a bit further. The war between them, on external appearances, seemed only to be a glare, as if between two cats facing-off, but those few seconds were as crucial and vital as they were short.

"You are not aroused by me?" she finally asked aloud.

The Doctor frowned. She seemed unable to hear the child's tone to her words. “Not even slightly. Now if you'll excuse me, I think it's time to settle this silly nonsense.”

“What nonsense?”

“Yours,” he said as he drew out the Badge of the Lord President, a powerful symbol of Rassilon's might and influence, and aimed it and the Septre at her. He spoke in the same version of Gallifreyan the box's words were written. “Demon of the Ancient World, hear my command of the powers of Rassilon the Great-!”

The Moment stilled like a Weeping Angel observed. Except her mouth opened in protest. “You cannot-”

“-Return to your prison realm and remain there, unbidden, until your existence turns to dust, to be blown by the winds of Time itself! Forgotten, you will cease to exist, cease to hold power over your victims, and cease to be a threat to Gallifrey and to the universe. I, Rassilon's successor, do banish you! Forever!”

/=/=/=/=/

Inside the TARDIS, Ohila, Romana, Leela, and Andred held their breaths. This was the moment of truth, whether the Doctor's will was enough to force his way to overpower the creature that was the bane and object of ultimate fear in their almost war-torn society.

The air quivered around them, and even Leela felt sick. Yet she did not dare ask what was happening. Not aloud. Andred had answers for her.

But Romana and Ohila understood exactly what was happening. This point existed in two rival timelines at once, and those timelines were merging. It was the merging that might permit the healing of Gallifrey and Karn.

All of Gallifrey had to be feeling it, and perhaps Karn as well. And no one else would understand why it was happening. Which would make the panic even greater.

/=/=/=/=/

The Moment glowed as her hands extended without her obvious consent. Her eyes showed the struggle to maintain control over her own power, and the anger that she was being outwitted. She continued to attempt to silently beguile him, increasing her ferocity, gnashing her teeth and peeling back the Human layer to reveal the gorgon underneath.

The humming coming from the box itself had upped an octave and increased in decibels. The Doctor's breath shot out of him and he sucked hard to get the next one in. The air around him seemed charged with electricity, and realized that the bomb had been activated, without his saying or even thinking her name. Oh god, he thought silently. In my arrogance, I had unwittingly let her in. I should not have taken my eyes off her. Dearest brother, I should have paid more attention to your teaching of the soul walking technique. I should have been in two places at once. Or had a companion with me after all.

The bomb would not need a hand to pressed the gem downwards to detonate, he realized, glancing at it briefly. It was going to detonate on its own. She was doing it, her rage at his rebuttal. The humming now was at a resonance that was causing his insides to shudder. If it continued, he was going to be ripped apart. But he had to find a way to stop her before it reached that point. And then he had an idea. The silence from the rest of the Vault. There had to be a reason why they had fallen silent. Maybe if he summoned them, as their Lord President, they would have no choice but to obey.

This would need subtlety. With his eyes holding her attention, he reached out and peeled the Seal from the box, transfered it to his right hand and held it out for the other weapons to see. In his mind, he called out to them in the same ancient tongue: Fight back against the Demon you have been forced to share the Vault with!

If he could persuade them to overwhelm her and drive her back into the box, the weapons would render themselves useless and become forever dormant. The other boxes, unlike The Moment, were unlocked.

Secondary to that, the pocket of time that surrounded him, painful as it was, would close in mere seconds, resetting what Romana had done to Gallifrey's defences, and, if he was exceptionally lucky, the Dalek fleet that was on its way was fall right into the heart of the rift between the two timelines and be lost to the Void. It would work, as long as Romana hasn't done more than recall the Cloister Wraiths. Otherwise, the war that would destroy Gallifrey would be inevitable.

Suddenly, the Demon's eyes flashed. “You will not win this war!” she cried. Her body turned into energy and it flew at the Doctor, an attack.

The Doctor screamed in shock, barely standing upright. His eyes closed in the face of the flaming energy that the Moment created around him. He forced all his thought into using the Power of the Keys to defend himself.

That was risky. The Keys defended themselves, and extended that protection reluctantly to their wearer.

And things got worse. The other weapons suddenly activated and aimed his way. But in the second before he thought his life was up, the lesser Demons swarmed on The Moment, and she screamed in agony.

The box offered her no safety. Some of the Demons were attacking it, and the box disintegrated- its power fading fast. Soon all that was left was the rose-colored gem, lying in the dust of what had been its case.

An explosion of light burst, and a small shock-wave flew from the Vaults, and the other demons shot away from it and disappeared, their energy spent completely.

The shock-wave closed the pocket of time, healing the changes to Gallifrey. Yet the TARDIS received a big jolt. She remained upright, but it knocked all her occupants to the ground as the lights flickered briefly.

The Vault was silent for a second before a loud, wet thud sounded from the corner. The Doctor had sagged to the stone floor, blooded and broken from his being in the way of the Demons. No living flesh was meant to be touched by them. So the legends said. Now he knew it to be true. In the stillness, he released a thin, agonized wail before losing consciousness completely.


Chapter Nine: Breathing Space

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Oct. 29th, 2017 07:39 pm (UTC)
So the Moment still managed to be the cause of his death? Fingers crossed that I'm wrong.

She wore the tattered garments of an initiate of the Academy.
is it wrong of me to confess that, when she was first reveal in the 50th anniversary, I couldn't help thinking that she was a poor man's Kim Wilde? Showing my age, if nothing else. At least you let me keep my impulse to punch her one...
tkel_paris
Oct. 29th, 2017 07:45 pm (UTC)
Keep reading! Remember, things have changed!

You know, I had to look her up. And yes, that does fit. ;) I'd never try to push away such an impulse in you. *hugs*
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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