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Altered History: Echos on Ood Sphere (4/7)

Title: Altered History: Echos on Ood Sphere
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T (violence, angst-ridden Doctor)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: On another major journey the Doctor and Donna land on a planet of beings aware of him, but he doesn't know them. The danger compells him to reveal more about the past he is still fighting against, how he fears the Moment is still haunting him. And Donna sees reason to share his worries.
Disclaimer: Imagine what might have been had the Movie turned into a series as originally intended. What else would have been? So... clearly not mine. Still.
Dedication: cassikat, who kept pressing me to write more of this series. Thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo, I got started on this story when the others stalled hard. Although it took me a while to get cranking on it again.
Author's Notes: Now the series starts providing more answers about the differences the Eighth Doctor's still being alive has caused, and the effects they have. And it's clearly leading toward more. And please, go back and read the first two stories, The Runaway Bride and Prophecies and Pompeii, before reading this one.

I suppose it's worth mentioning that some of the lines in the first chapter were influenced by both the Big Finish audio “Max Warp” and the BBC documentary “The Petrol Age”. The former is an Eight and Lucie adventure set on a space station in the future, and involves both spaceships and a mystery. (Worth finding!) The latter is a four-part series all about British automotive history, and hosted by Paul McGann. I will admit that I originally watched it out of an idle curiosity about the history of cars and had discovered it via a YouTube search for stuff PM was in. While he definitely made it more enjoyable to watch and listen to, I think I would've still found it interesting with a different host; there's a lot of interesting history surrounding the evolution of the car.

And no, you won't find the full thing on YouTube anymore. I enjoyed it so much I may buy a copy. While Amazon Prime members can stream it, it isn't shown in the order I saw on YouTube, the order it was aired in. Oh, and the closed captioning is off. As in comically off.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three


Altered History: Echos on Ood Sphere

Started April 24, 2017
Unfinished as of original posting
Finished December 15, 2018




Chapter Four: Investigations and Instigations

March 5, 2004
London


The Doctor listened carefully to the sounds his ship made as he waited in hidden orbit around Earth. Mercifully they were all normal.

“Normal is not something to ease my mind right now,” he muttered as he checked the scans. “How long does a check of the Internet need even in this era? I know the amount of data was beginning its explosion, but I didn't think even you would need this much time, Old Girl.”

A sudden, blunt chime sounded.

He glared at the rotor. “No, no, no! Don't give me a rude noise! I get enough cheek from you during our journeys. I don't need any now. And I definitely don't need to be looking at recipes or science websites! How in Rassilon's name am I connected with food?! Are you punishing me because you took my innocent comment as an insult?!”

At last the monitor stopped its rapid changing and settled on one image. After a shorter blunt chime.

He could have kissed the controls, but he was still irritated. So he ignored the chime. “Oh, thank you for finding something! Let's see what it is.” He frowned the instant he saw it. “A website? 'Have you seen this man? Contact Clive.' But... that's the Tenth me! Did he remember as me him saying to look out for this?”

He quickly went through what little existed of the site. “Nothing substantial. Just a contact email. Let's trace the ISP address, find where this man is. He may know far more than I want out there... Aha! London, of course. Now, let's try tracing the email traffic to and from that email. Oh... he's getting an email inquiry. Who's seen that me now?”

Seconds later his eyes flared in indignation. “The inquiry email belongs to a Mickey Smith, but the sender used the name 'Rose Tyler'. Lovely, she's started to investigate me. I suppose I should be grateful she's not found out anything about me. Yet. Time to see what this... Clive fellow knows. I hope it's nowhere near as much as I fear.”

He quickly went through the materialization sequence. “I want this over with right away,” he muttered. “Best use stealth mode. Don't want to be spotted.”

/=/=/=/=/=/

The Doctor slipped out of the TARDIS and looked around. “Right outside a back garden. Easy enough to get in; that lock is metal.”

Within seconds he had closed the doors, sonicked the lock open and hurried inside, pushing it back into place. He scanned with both the sonic and his handheld connection to the TARDIS. “Nothing seems out of the ordinary. What am I looking for?”

A pair of voices prompted him to hide behind a tree. The male he didn't recognize, but the female he did. “Her,” he whispered. “That girl who might be the Moment. They're heading for the shed.”

He waited until they were inside and then crept right up to the structure. “I know I have a stethoscope. I can listen in through that, and wait.”

He needed several seconds to get set up, but then the words started floating into his ears.

“A lot of this stuff's quite sensitive, I couldn't just send it to you,” he heard Clive say. The man sounded like he was in his element, talking about something he had studied for years. “People might intercept it, if you know what I mean. If you dig deep enough - keep a lively mind - this Doctor keeps cropping up all over the place. Political diaries, conspiracy theories. Even ghost stories.”

The Doctor flinched. “How careless have I been over my lives?”

“No first name, no last name. Just 'The Doctor'. Always The Doctor. And the title seems to have been passed down from father to son, it appears to be an inheritance.”

A scoff erupted from the Doctor's throat like a canon. Mercifully it couldn't be heard.

“That's your Doctor there, isn't it?”

Even without visual prompts the Doctor knew that Clive was pointing at a photo of Ten. But his eyes bulged at the phrasing and he paled. “He knows about more than one of me.”

“Yeah,” he heard Rose say even as he whispered to himself, making him shiver.

“I tracked it down to the Washington public archive last year. The online photo's enhanced, but if we look at the original...”

“I'm going to hear things I ought not know,” the Doctor murmured. “Yet I can't stop him.”

“November the 22nd, 1963. The assassination of President Kennedy.”

“Must be his father,” Rose said softly, in clear disbelief.

The Doctor smirked. “Wonder if he remembers my hearing that.”

“Going further back... April 1912,” Clive continued. “This is a photo of the Daniels family, Southampton. And friend. This was taken the day before they were due to set sail for the New World. On the Titanic. And for some unknown reason, they cancelled the trip and survived.”

“So their deaths weren't fixed points. I wouldn't want to mess with any more fixed points after Charlie,” the Doctor whispered, insides going cold over the memory of another lost companion.

“And...” Clive paused as if going through papers. “1883. Another Doctor. And look - the same lineage. He's identical. This one washed up on the coast of Sumatra on the very day Krakatoa exploded.”

The Doctor sighed. “Massive disaster. How like me to end up there.”

“The Doctor is a legend woven throughout history,” Clive continued, talking almost immediately. “When disaster comes, he's there. He has a storm in his wake. And he has one constant companion...”

“Who's that?” Rose asked.

“Death.”

The Doctor almost recoiled, eyes huge. “Is that how I seem? Like a monster?”

“If the Doctor's back... if you've seen him, Rose... then one thing's for certain - we're all in danger,” Clive carried on.

“You sound like a conspiracy nutter,” the Doctor muttered. “I do my best to save people.”

“If he's singled you out... if the Doctor's making house calls... then God help you,” Clive added grimly.

The Doctor forced his jaw to unclench. “Yes, God help you if you're the reincarnation of who I think you are.”

“Who is he? Who do you think he is?” Rose asked.

“I can't wait to hear this,” the Doctor said, grim and tight.

There was a pause, as if Clive were considering the question. “I think he's the same man. I think he's immortal. I think he's an alien from another world.”

The Doctor was silent for a few seconds, wanting to remove the stethoscope and yet frozen in place. “What was the clue?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Rose said, sounding very distracted. “Look, my boyfriend is probably getting impatient. I'd best be off.”

“Okay,” Clive said. “Just remember what I said.”

The Doctor heard no answer. Just the sounds of papers bring put away and then footsteps moving away. When the door opened on the other side he lowered the stethoscope and risked moving for a better look. After hearing a lock turn, he watched as Clive walked Rose back into the house.

As soon as they were out of sight even through the windows the Doctor hurried to the shed's door. He made quick work of the lock and slipped inside.

“Oh, dear,” he whispered, taking in the inside. “This is almost a shrine to me! I don't need anyone thinking of me or any of the Time Lords as gods. This stops now. Shame there are so many things to go through, but I read fast. Maybe I can summon the Old Girl...”

But a quick signal through a sonic burst yielded a weird noise.

“What? You can't move?!” He groaned. “Have to follow the slow path here.”

He rushed through the papers out in the open, stuffing most of them into his satchel. Only ones that he knew were completely innocuous were left alone, and those were few. Then he broke into cabinets and found far more to snatch. “Mostly papers and photos. Good. Artifacts would be far more alarming.”

After a few minutes he heard an exclamation outside. “Oh, dear. Time to meet Clive.”

Seconds later the door flew open and the man he saw earlier burst inside. “You're breaking into my property!”

The Doctor stood as tall as he could and fixed a glare on him. “You have put your family in danger by having this. There are some who would have kidnapped your child for this, and there are people in the government who would arrest you for merely possessing it. I'm doing you a favour by appropriating every last relevant item.”

“Who are you?”

“Oh, you don't recognise me?” the Doctor asked, feigning disappointment. “Remarkable given all the things you have in your stash. I noticed that you didn't tell that stupid girl about the other men who have gone by that name. Interesting since she saw me as well. So she didn't mention this me? Good. She might be forgetting about me. Some of my previous incarnations would have been offended, and normally I would be, but I'd rather that she forgot this me.”

Clive's eyes narrowed as the Doctor talked, but then they widened as the penny dropped. “Oh, my god.”

“No. Just 'Doctor'. And all of them will tell you the same thing if you asked. No name. Just 'Doctor'.”

“So... all those men... they're you?”

He had verbally flipped Clive off and the man didn't notice. If things weren't so serious he would laugh. “At one point or another. Some of them haven't happened for me yet, and that includes the events you were speaking about. For the record, it's wrong to tell someone what's coming in their future, even a time traveler. They lose what freedom of choice they had to begin with. And I want to note for the record that I don't go looking for trouble. It merely finds me somehow. Every time,” he added quietly, fighting back the reminder of a conversation early in his time with Lucie.

“But if you're here and so's another you... is the danger worse?”

He decided to give some honesty. Clive did not seem like a dangerous person. Just perhaps someone who had spotted him during some event yet to happen in his own timeline. “Perhaps. Word of advice: keep your family away from places with mannequins and other large amounts of plastics.”

Clive's eyes went even larger. “Plastics?! How can they be dangerous?”

The impression of the roundels nearly made the Doctor smile, but he kept it to a twitch in his lips. “You don't want to know. For your sake and your family's sake, take down that website and change your email. Now. And deny you ever started it. Now... go back inside and don't come out for at least two hours. It'll take me that long to clear your things. And...” He drew out a USB device from his pocket. “Put this into your computer. It will wipe the evidence of your site and the communications.”

“But... some of the people I've met are good friends. We also talk about other things through the emails.”

“What's more important, your and your family's safety or some written exchanges?”

Clive opened his mouth, but had no answer.

“Correct. Now... get to it. And count yourself lucky if you miss the events that I'm trying to prevent.”

The Human wanted to challenge him. It was in his posture and eyes. But he was wise enough to know when to retreat. He nodded, accepted the USB, and sighed. “For what it's worth, I never actually spoke with that other you. I only saw the aftermath, but I got a glimpse of you. I always wondered if my insatiable curiosity would be the death of me, and yet I couldn't stop looking for more.”

“I have that unfortunate effect on people,” the Doctor acknowledged. “Get out while you still can.”

Clive nodded. “I suppose... in a way it's an honour to speak with you on peaceful terms. Just... keep my planet safe.”

“I will find a way to leave things better than I found them. That's a promise.”

He only hoped it would stand.

/=/=/=/=/=/

At last he was back inside the TARDIS, the job of removing any traces of his existence from that shed complete. And he made a point of being thorough. Which meant it took all of the two hours he allotted himself. Even with his fast reading there was still a lot to collect and eliminate.

“Well, let's hope Clive took me seriously. Would hate to have to return to enforce the changes. And what was the problem, Old Girl? You could have saved me a lot of time if you had just materialised around the shed. But no, you had to keep me busy the hard way. Did I have to hear all of that?! And don't chime at me this time. I have a lot to do and a lot is at stake!”

Instead of chiming some bells went off, as if talking.

The Doctor sighed. “Okay, fair point. I'm rattled, and for all I knew there could have been a trap set for you. Okay, so, what now?”

The TARDIS control panels looked normal on first glance, but then he noticed something. “That light shouldn't be on. What have you detected, Old Girl?”

He watched the readings pass by and paled. “A Nestene signal very close by. Oh, dear. Someone was captured by them right outside Clive's home. That's two signals. One was traveling in the car, and the other... It seems that the person was sent to the Nestene's hiding place. So they need whoever it is alive. You saw the girl walk to the same car? They must want information from the girl and learned enough to suggest she wouldn't give anything up if captured. Or they detect something that says it'd be trouble if they tried. Not the reason I would want to see. I hope that Ten is also detecting this. Because I'm going after the prisoner, not the girl.”

Just as he thought it he saw the signal flicker. “Oh, no, no, no!”

His hands raced through the tracing and dematerialization sequence. “Come on, Old Girl. Follow that signal and get me close!”

Just as the TARDIS landed the signal cut off.

He let out an inarticulate swear word. Even for Gallifreyan. “I hope I got it right. I don't want to have to hunt on my own.”

The Doctor went outside, putting on the satchel as he exited. With the doors locked he began scanning by sight. “The London Eye. Oh, dear. That could be used to broadcast the signal. No doubt I'm very close.”

The scanner in his hand flashed the silent alarm. “Nestene are near.”

“What about down here?”

He flinched at the words coming from nearby. “Her voice. What's she doing here?”

“Looks good to me,” he heard Ten saying. Then he heard two sets of footsteps running down some stairs.

The silent Nestene alarm signaled stronger. “Oh, dear. I need to hide. And the only way seems to be following Me and Her.”

So he went in the same direction, avoiding where the signals seemed to be coming from. Just before he lost sight of the TARDIS, he stilled. Four Nestene-infused mannequins approached the TARDIS and grabbed his ship. They took it and an opening swallowed them all.

“Oh, no!” he breathed. “Now I can't leave. Oh, I wonder how they knew. Have they got better at detecting me?” He looked around and checked the scanner again. “Oh, I don't have time for this! Time to take my chances and go in the same direction that my future self took the girl, Rose. Who may or may not be the Moment,” he added under his breath as he hurried to get down the grimy manhole. Thank the Eternals it wasn't smelly as well.

He took the journey through the red-lighted area carefully, scanning the whole way. “Some kind of pumping station connected to the underground network. That's far too many Nestene around for my journey to be straightforward,” he whispered. “I only hope Ten is smart enough to not get caught.”

“Doctor!”

His head whipped in the direction of Rose's cry, muffled by the corridors. “Oh, that's not promising.”

“That was just insurance! I wasn't going to use it.”

Eight groaned at the sound of Ten's frantic voice. “What the hell am I going to be become?”

“I was not attacking you. I'm here to help. I'm not your enemy. I swear, I'm not... what do you mean?”

The sounds of the Nestene Consciousness and doors flew his way as he sought a way in.

“Oh, oh no - honestly, no! Yes, that's my ship.”

As the plastic being roared Eight could tell from the hint of confusion that something was off. “Oh,” he realized. “It's my Old Girl, not his.”

“That's not true. I should know, I was there. I stopped the war overall but there were packets of activity - it wasn't my fault! I couldn't save your world! I couldn't save everyone!”

“Oh, no. Not a good picture of my future.”

And the presence of walking Nestene in his sight was not a good picture either.

“The Nestene has identified it as superior technology - it's terrified!” Ten said, evidently carrying on some explanation. Probably to Rose. “It's going to the final phase. It's starting the invasion! Get out, Rose! Just leg it! Now!”

Eight had to dodge several Nestene coming his way, using the scanner to find a path to lead him towards Ten to help him save the Earth. They were closing in.

Suddenly a sonic blast from seemingly everywhere sent the plastic group shaking, unable to continue the pursuit.

“Not looking a gift horse in the mouth!” He legged it. He would see what the scanners said about that blast later. It wasn't like he detected any speakers in the area.

His speed increased when he could hear the sounds of the signal running at what had to be full strength. And there were crashing sounds that suggested he would find it problematic to help.

“The stairs have gone!” shouted Rose. And a second later, “I haven't got a key!”

“We're gonna die!” cried an unknown male voice.

“The unfortunate kidnap victim. Stay out of their way and you will live,” Eight muttered as he squeezed through another tight spot to get to the chamber.

“Just leave him!” shouted the male voice.

“Shining example of what fear does to Humans,” Eight said as he saw the entrance finally in reach.

“There's nothing you can do!” the same voice cried out suddenly.

“Oh, it sounds like she's up to something. And that's not comforting me.”

“I've got no A Levels,” he heard Rose say. “No job. No future.” He heard the sound of something hacking against something else. “But I tell you what I have got. Jericho Street Junior School under 7s gymnastic team,” Rose's voice continued as a chain seemed to come loose. “I got the bronze!”

Eight made it into the upper levels just as Rose swung across the gap over the Consciousness. She kicked the two Autons holding the Doctor hostage into the vat holding the Nestene Consciousness. He saw a vial drop from one of their hands. “Anti-plastic,” he breathed, realizing what Ten had prepared to do.

It worked. The Consciousness immediately writhed and screamed in agony.

Eight managed to climb his way down to the level the TARDIS rested on. He knew Rose would be helped by his future self, and getting everyone out meant something he was not going to like. “Please stay locked away,” he whispered in prayer as he approached the frightened young man.

“Who are you?!”

“Right now, your friend and your ticket home. Come on!” Eight said as he unlocked the TARDIS. “The signal's been cut off, but this is about to collapse and I doubt you want to be here any longer.”

He could hear Ten and Rose hurrying their way to the TARDIS. Meanwhile he helped the young man to his feet. “And you are?”

The young man hesitated a second. “Mickey Smith.”

“Well, welcome aboard, Mickey Smith. Get in! Doctor, close the doors behind you!”

“Just get us ready to leave!”

Eight rushed Mickey inside, ignoring the inevitable shocked reaction. He rushed through the start of the dematerialization sequence, waiting only until he heard the doors close.

It felt like far too long before they did. “It's dying!”

“Then help me fly this back to the last place your TARDIS departed from!” Eight snapped back as he pressed the key button.

“Wait, what is this place?” Rose's voice was disbelieving. “Are you also an alien?”

“We need to concentrate!”

“Come on, Eight,” Ten retorted. “Ignore the stupid apes for a bit. We're there.”

A thump confirmed it.

Mickey ran almost backwards out of the TARDIS and fell over, eyes huge and skin far paler than it ought to have been. He backed against a wall, unable to take his eyes off the sight

Rose merely stepped out – albeit hastily – and hit a speed-dial on her mobile.

Neither Doctor could quite hear the conversation, but the laughter on her face and eyes told a story.

“Will you really have to offer to take her on as a companion?” Eight whispered, trying to hold Ten back.

It was a vain hope; Ten was far stronger. “It's in the timelines,” he shot back, walking to lean against the door frame.

“A fat lot of good you were!” Rose snapped as she walked to Mickey's side.

“Oh, have some pity on your boyfriend,” Eight scolded her sharply. “First alien encounter and he was kidnapped. I say it looks poorly on you for chiding him.”

Mickey's face changed from whimpering to surprised.

Ten had to hide a smirk, although he knew the twitching in his posture would be detected by his earlier self. “Nestene Consciousness?” He snapped his fingers. “Easy.”

Rose looked unimpressed, even as she smiled. “You were useless in there. You'd be dead if it wasn't for me.”

Ten glanced at Eight, wordlessly asking for silence. The latter's protesting face was a picture, which the later Doctor ignored. “Yes, I would. Thank you. Right then! We'll get my ship back, and then I'll be off! Unless, uh... I don't know... you could come with me.”

Eight wanted to gag as he watched Rose look at Ten, putting her hands in her pockets. “Just how young is she?” he whispered.

Ten heard the implication that Rose's actions suggested someone younger than she claimed to be and knew the meaning of her body language, but carried on with a tightly concealed tension washing through him. “My box isn't just a London hopper, you know, it goes anywhere in the universe free of charge.”

“Don't!” cried Mickey. “He's an alien! He's a thing!”

“I'm sure we'll talk later when you've had a chance to calm down,” Eight called out. “Discuss that speciesism you just displayed.”

“Yes, no invitation at this time for you yet,” added Ten. And thank you for not making me insult him. He doesn't deserve it.

Eight straightened at the telepathic remark. What did Ten remember, and how much of that was influencing his actions now? Did he remember hearing this conversation from this side?

“What do you think? You could stay here and fill your life with work and food and sleep, or you could go, uh... anywhere.”

“Is it always this dangerous?”

Eight wanted to know how much of the hesitation he heard was genuine, and how much was an act. He wished he would never know, and dreaded the answer.

“Yeah,” Ten answered with a nod. Although who he was answering was a good question.

Mickey wrapped his arms around Rose's legs, looking like a small child in terror. Eight hoped that the young man would prove far stronger than that; he would need it. And yet he felt a strange sense from Ten. Like he knew him in the past and was saddened to see this repeat of his old behaviors.

“Yeah, I can't...” Rose's voice dripped with hesitation. “I've um... gotta go and find my mum and um... someone's gotta look after this stupid lump...” she finished with a little laugh, patting Mickey on the back. “So...”

Eight scowled. “That's an act,” he whispered at his future self.

“Okay.” Ten said. Again, it was difficult to tell who he was answering. “See you around.” He stepped backward and closed the doors.

“At last!” Eight breathed, tension draining from his body as he hurried to get them away. “How old is she? Those little actions, that's a sign of a child playing at being an adult.”

“If the Moment were fully influencing her actions then she would be more convincing, wouldn't she?”

Eight had no answer to that. But he had to keep on protesting. “You're seriously going to go back for her?”

“Because the timelines require it. She has a potential to help, and the people around her need to see that they're better than they thought they were. That young man, Mickey Smith? The idiot routine he pulls is an act because Rose endured things no one ought to and he wanted her to feel safe. I don't remember it all, but if I don't go back her mother and Mickey will not reach their potential, and it's vital that Mickey Smith reaches his potential. Don't let your worries hurt them.”

Eight stopped to listen to the time lines where Mickey was concerned, and he could hear a shining future. Sighing, he shook his head as he landed the TARDIS. “Okay, I'll trust you. Just be careful.”

“I have to be. I have a lot more to lose than ever.”

“What?!”

“To use a word you're going to come to hate... and with cause... spoilers. And thanks for landing so near,” Ten added as he headed for the doors. “You actually provoked Rose to act faster, and likely saved lives.”

“Wait, wait, wait!”

Ten stopped and looked back, a puzzled frown marring his face.

“If you were captured... then who made that sonic blast?”

Ten blinked, the frown instantly vanishing as he cast about his memories. “Oh. Good question. I think I once knew, but forgot.”

“Fantastic,” Eight muttered.

“Oi, that's my word now.”

“When did any of us have exclusive rights to particular words?”

“Some things make more sense with certain incarnations compared with others. Just like our clothes. Anyway, be careful. Keep your future and my past on track. See ya soon enough!”

“See ya,” Eight returned softly, watching as Ten bounded out and went to his own TARDIS. “Not happy to be ya in the future. Danger often comes from the last place you expect it. Be careful, Me.”

Chapter Five: Twists in the Tale

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Dec. 31st, 2018 04:37 pm (UTC)
Can I say that I do like your digs at Rose in this story... *snickers*

I know we're not supposed to apply logic to Doctor Who, but when RTD claimed that the Doctor chose Rose because she was the first face he saw, how do you explain all those photos Clive has? He could have chosen someone the Daniels family knew, one of the crowd in Austin, Texas.... or any of the other places he obviously went without Rose to get in those photos.

Aside from all that, I'm loving the differences, and especially Eight's reactions. :D
tkel_paris
Dec. 31st, 2018 07:10 pm (UTC)
Ah, and this reminds me that I haven't updated this story on LJ. Oops... :)

I knew you'd enjoy them. And there are more to come... You just need to go to A03 for now. :)

It doesn't help that I'm a naturally logical person, and find it next to impossible to NOT apply logic to things. As a writer I know there's a minimum level of logic needed for any story or it doesn't work. I could live with a lot more of the bad writing if I felt THAT were being honored.

Yes, this was a good one, wasn't it? And there's another flashback chapter in this story! :DDDD
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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