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Title: Altered History: Echos on Oodsphere
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 / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six


Altered History: Echos on Ood Sphere

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




Chapter Seven: The Ood Odds

The Doctor sucked in a breath, eyes going huge and fixed on his companion. “You can't mean that,” he whispered.

“I was right. It is terrible out here-”

She cut herself off as they heard the sounds of banging against the door outside.

“Donna, please, I'll get us out of this and I will show you that the good makes the bad easier to cope with. Just please don't make me take you home!”

There was no time for Donna to answer or react to his pleas and wide-eyed stammering. There was a loud thud, and the door opened.

“They're with the Ood, sir,” came the faint sound of a guard's voice.

The Doctor stood and closed the door of the cage, locking himself and Donna inside with the Ood. He smirked in the face of the bewildered guards. “Oh, what were you going to do, then? Arrest us? Lock us up? Throw us in a cage? Well, too late! I beat you to it!”

Donna winced. “Doubt it'll last.”

She was proven right as the guards promptly opened the doors and seized them both. The Doctor and Donna remained resolutely silent as they were cuffed and taken back to the main building. There they were handcuffed to some pipes.

The man in the suit, addressed by the guards as Mr Halpen, scowled at them. “Why don't you just come out and say it? FOTO activists! You want to tell the universe that the Ood are sentient and have emotions.”

Not knowing what was going on rarely left the Doctor without words. Although that deserved a retort. “If that's what Friends Of The Ood are trying to prove, then yes!”

Mr Halpen's face did not change. “The Ood were nothing without us, just animals roaming around on the ice.”

“That's because you can't hear them,” the Doctor protested. “They don't communicate the same way you do.”

“They welcomed it!” Mr Halpen claimed. “It's not as if they put up a fight.”

“You idiot!” Donna shouted, recovering most of her fire. “They're born with their brains in their hands. Don't you see, that makes them peaceful! They've got to be, cos a creature like that would have to trust anyone it meets.”

The Doctor's eyes widened in appreciation. “Oh, excellent point!”

“Thank you!” she snapped.

“The system's worked for 200 years. All we've got is a rogue batch. But the infection is about to be sterilised.” He spoke into the nearby intercom. “Mr Kess? How do we stand?”

“Canisters primed, sir.”

The Doctor's lips pursed at the sound of the man who had apparently been responsible for the claw going after him. Not that the voice knew that as Kess continued.

“As soon as the core heats up, the gas is released. Give it 200 marks and counting.”

The Doctor caught on. “But you're going to gas them?!”

Mr Halpen smiled. “Kill the livestock. The classic foot-and-mouth solution from the olden days. Still works.”

An alarm's wail interrupted Halpen's tirade. “What the hell?” he demanded. He was followed by a man in a lab jacket, with “Dr. Ryder” listed on the tag, checking what was happening outside.

The Doctor and Donna glanced at each other. They couldn't attempt to escape with some guards and the one Ood serving Halpen present. But that didn't stop the Doctor trying to figure out how much leeway he had in reaching or potentially breaking the cuffs. After all, he did have far more strength than most species, even factoring this slimmer than usual body.

All efforts had to stop when Mr Halpen and Dr Ryder returned to the room.

“Change of plan,” said Mr. Halpen to the guards.

“There are no reports of trouble off-world, sir, it's still contained to the Ood Sphere,” said Dr. Ryder.

“Then we've got a public duty to stop it before it spreads,” Mr Halpen decided.

“What's happening?” demanded the Doctor.

Mr Halpen's scowl tightened. “Everything you wanted, Doctor. No doubt there'll be a full police investigation once this place has been sterilised, so I can't risk a bullet to the head. I'll leave you to the mercies of the Ood.”

While he wanted the man out of the room, the Doctor also wanted more answers, and if there was one thing he knew he was good at when held captive it was talking. “But Mr Halpen, there's something else, isn't there? Something we haven't seen!”

“What d'you mean?” asked Donna, trying to follow his line of thought.

“Think about it, Donna. A creature couldn't survive with a separate forebrain and hind brain, they'd be at war with themselves. There's got to be something else, a third element, am I right?” he added, looking right at Mr. Halpen.

“And again, so clever!” came the mocking reply.

The Doctor ignored it. “But it's got to be connected to the red-eye, what is it?”

“'It' won't exist for very much longer,” Mr. Halpen added, now smirking. “Enjoy your Ood.” He promptly left, followed by Dr Ryder, the Ood servant and the two guards.

Immediately the Doctor and Donna attempted to work themselves free. “If only I could reach the Sonic,” he muttered. “Come on!”

“Well, do something! You're the one with all the tricks! You must've met Houdini!”

He quickly decided there was no point in denying or equivocating. “Three lives ago. He was nearly turned against me. And these are really good handcuffs! His weren't that good.”

Donna groaned, “Oh, well I'm glad of that. I mean, at least we've got quality!”

“My species is stronger than it looks. You know that from Christmas Eve.”

The door suddenly opened and three red-eyed Ood entered, silencing the argument and ceasing their struggles. Independently, they tried to come up with something that would connect to them.

“Doctor, Donna, friends,” blurted the Doctor.

“The circle must be broken,” added Donna.

The red-eyed Oods still advanced. So they talked over each other.

“Doctor, Donna, friends!”

“The circle must be broken!”

“Doctor, Donna, friends!”

“The circle must be broken!”

“Friends, friends, friends!” cried the Doctor as the balls came within inches of their heads.

But at the last second, the Ood stopped and bowed their heads.

“What's happening?” Donna whispered.

The Doctor's fear was marred by a frown. “I can hear the natural-born Ood. It's like they're calling to them.”

“Well, let's hope that they listen,” she prayed aloud.

After what seemed like an eternity even to the Doctor, the Ood looked back up at the Doctor and Donna, and to their relief the red-eye was gone.

The voice they had heard from Delta 50 came, and the balls flickered with the words. “Doctor. Donna. Friends.”

The pair spoke at the same time. “Yes! That's us! Friends! Oh, yes!”

“Would you please release us from these cuffs?” asked the Doctor.

The two on the ends did so.

As soon as they were free, Donna pleaded with the Ood. “Keep yourselves safe!”

The Doctor led her outside, holding her hand tightly.

“Scared to lose me, are you?”

“Yes. Give me a chance to prove things can still be beautiful despite the horrors!”

Donna was shocked into silence. His admitting that said volumes about how frantic he was – not merely over the situation but also the idea of her leaving. She wondered how much it was due to the unresolved PTSD he seemed to suffer from.

Once outside they looked around on the yard that had transformed into a real battlefield. Guns rattled everywhere, people shouted in panic, and fires were erupting everywhere.

“I don't know where it is! I don't know where they've gone!” the Doctor cried, looking around and turning to help himself look. He had to let Donna's hand go a few times, but he always took it again.

“What are we looking for?” she asked, hoping to focus him and be of help.

“Might be underground, like some sort of cave, or a cavern, or... something else I haven't thought of yet-”

Another explosion threw them off their feet. Mercifully, they could push themselves up within seconds. And neither had any smoke in their lungs.

“You all right?

She nodded, out of breath. But almost as one, they both sensed they were being watched. When they looked up, they saw the Ood servant watching them.

He made no effort to attack them, but nodded. “You may follow me. I will lead you to Warehouse 15.”

“Are you going to lead us into a trap?” the Doctor asked. “Or are you really on our side?”

“What's your name?” Donna added.

“Odd Sigma,” he answered, bowing his head again.

The manner bothered the Doctor, but he stood. “Donna, things are getting out of hand. If we accept his help then we might be able to help him!”

She accepted his hand to get to her feet. “Okay, then. Lead on, Macduff!”

As Sigma walked off between two buildings, the Doctor had to smile. “Shakespeare fan, Donna? You have very hidden depths. Why keep them hidden?”

“You met my mother. You met my friends. Think someone interested in woodworking, languages, science and literature would be made welcome?”

He scowled. “Clearly I need to pay a few visits.”

“Don't bother. It's not worth it.”

“If you are leaving me, I am not going to let you be hurt by them again.”

Donna was spared from replying because Sigma stopped in front of a locked door. On the side was a sign for Warehouse 15. The Doctor quickly opened the door with the sonic. They hurried inside and soon stopped by the balustrade. Their eyes fixed on the thing below: a giant brain.

The Doctor smiled in awe. “The Ood Brain. Now it all makes sense, that's the missing link, the third element, binding them together. Forebrain, hind brain, and this - the telepathic centre. It's a shared mind, connecting all the Ood in song.”

They heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see Mr Halpen appear, pointing a gun at them.

“Cargo,” he said. “I can always go into cargo. I've got the rockets, I've got the sheds. Smaller business, much more manageable, without livestock.”

“He's mined the area,” said Dr. Ryder.

“They're gonna kill it?” Donna gasped.

Mr Halpen's disgust poured out in his words. “They found that...thing centuries ago beneath the Northern Glacier.”

“Those pylons,” mused the Doctor.

Donna figured it out instantly. “In a circle. 'The circle must be broken.'”

“Damping the telepathic field. Stopping the Ood from connecting for 200 years. If it weren't so evil I could almost praise the ingeniousness of it,” the Doctor added, voice wound tighter than a string.

“And you, Ood Sigma, you brought them here,” stated Mr. Halpen. “I expected better.”

Sigma shocked the Doctor and Donna by walking calmly away from them. “My place is at your side, sir.”

“Ha-ha! Still subservient. Good Ood.”

“If that barrier thing's in place, how come the Ood started breaking out?” Donna said, hoping to buy time.

“Maybe it's taken centuries to adapt. The subconscious reaching out in all sorts of ways.”

“But the process was too slow,” interrupted Dr. Ryder, whose growing smile startled the Humans and the Doctor. “Had to be accelerated. You should never have given me access to those controls, Mr Halpen. I lowered the barrier to its minimum. Friends Of The Ood, sir. It's taken me ten years to infiltrate the company. And I succeeded.”

Mr. Halpen's scowl did not even flicker. “Yes. Yes, you did.” Then he smiled and pushed Dr Ryder over the balustrade. The screaming man was absorbed by the brain.

“You... murdered him!” Donna cried.

“Very observant, Ginger,” Mr Halpen said, as scornful as Lance had been. He had no reaction to the Doctor slowly stepping between Donna and him, or Donna trying to stop him. “Now, then... can't say I've ever shot anyone before. Can't say I'm gonna like it. But it's not exactly a normal day, is it? Still...”

Sigma suddenly appeared with a glass in hand. “Would you like a drink, sir?”

“I think hair loss is the least of my problems right now, thanks.” The tone was barely polite.

Without flinching, Sigma stepped between the Doctor and Mr Halpen. “Please have a drink, sir.”

Now Mr. Halpen was a little rattled. “If... If you're going to stand in their way, I'll shoot you too.”

“Please have a drink, sir.”

“Have... Have you... poisoned me?” accused Mr. Halpen, his body starting to tremble as his voice slurred.

“Natural Ood must never kill, sir.”

“Wait, wait wait!” interrupted the Doctor. “What is in that glass?”

Sigma turned to face the Doctor. “Ood-graft suspended in a biological compound, sir.”

Mr Halpen was finally scared. “What the hell does that mean?!”

The Doctor's eyes widened as Sigma's actions finally made sense. “Oh, dear...”

“Tell me!” shouted Halpen, eyes looking unfocused.

Addressing all of them, the Doctor mused aloud. “It's a funny thing, the subconscious. Takes all sorts of shapes. Came out in the red-eye as revenge. Came out in the rabid Ood as anger. And then, there was patience. All that intelligence and mercy, focused on Ood Sigma. How's the hair loss, Mr Halpen?”

Mr. Halpen touched his head, and a bunch of hair came easily out between his fingers. “What have you done?” he whimpered at Sigma.

“Oh, they've been preparing you for a very long time. And now you're standing next to the Ood Brain. Mr Halpen, can you hear it? Listen...”

The head of Ood Operations began choking. “What have you...? I'm...not...!” He dropped the gun, no longer able to hold on to it and bent forward in pain. He then grabbed the skin on his head as if to scratch an itch. Instead, it peeled off as he pulled, revealing an Ood scull below. Tentacles popped out of his mouth and his hands lost their old tone. He had transformed completely into an Ood.

Only the shock of watching it kept Donna from drawing back. As it was, she had to hang on to the Doctor's arm. “They... They turned him into an Ood?!”

“Yeah...” he murmured, not fully believing his own eyes.

'He's an Ood,” she whispered.

“I noticed that.”

The Ood who had been Halpen made a sneezing action and sound, and a small hind brain fell into his hands. Not even the Doctor's keen eyes could be certain it came from the mouth, although the connection looked like it.

“He has become Oodkind,” Sigma said, calm-as-you-please. “And we will take care of him.”

Donna tried to get her bearings, and failed. “It's weird, being with you. I can't tell what's right and what's wrong anymore,” she muttered to the Doctor.

He reached for her hand and gave a tiny, reassuring smile. “It's better that way. People who think they know for certain tend to be like Mr Halpen.”

The detonators beeped, interrupting them.

“Ooh, we can't have that now!” He reached the controls and twisted one. Immediately the countdown stopped and the sounds silenced. “That's better. And now... Sigma, would you allow Donna and me the honour?”

Sigma bowed his head. “It is yours, DoctorDonna.”

“Help me out?” he asked Donna, hand over the specific controls.

Donna moved slowly and, just as she had in Pompeii, helped him. Only this time it was to turn off the electric field around the brain, not destroy an entire city.

Immediately the Doctor could hear something and his grin was as bright as the sun at midday. “Oh, that's magnificent! Stifled for 200 years, but not any more. The circle is broken. The Ood can sing!”

Over the sound of his voice, a song began. Calling it beautiful and joyous belittled the music. The Doctor laughed in delight, and Donna looked up in awe.

“I can hear it!,” she cried. “It's...”

“I know. There are no words,” he said, taking her hand as they watched as Sigma and Halpen lifted their palms into the air and joined with the song.

/=/=/=/=/=/

It seemed like hours before the Doctor and Donna returned to the TARDIS, accompanied by several Ood. And of course Sigma led the group. They had seen proof that the fighting stopped, and the Humans acting as guards were smart enough to stop fighting when they saw the threat had ended. Perhaps the unknown had bewildered them enough to look to the nearest leader. Who turned out to be another member of Friends Of The Ood.

With Halpen transformed and the rest of the leadership dead or disgraced, it was not long before the remaining Ood Operations personnel accepted the change. Only minutes. Most probably knew they were facing criminal charges back home and would be arrested as soon as more authorities arrived.

“I can confirm that the message has gone out,” the Doctor said. “That song resonated across the galaxies, everyone heard it. Everyone knows. The rockets are bringing them back. The Ood are coming home. Not common that I do so much good in spite of the deaths.”

Sigma drew his ball from the holder on his uniform with the same grace he always had. “We thank you, DoctorDonna. Friends of Oodkind. And what of you now, will you stay? There is room in the song for you.”

The Doctor blinked. “Me? Oh, that's not-that's not possible. I've... I've still got a home and... I sort of have a song of my own. But thank you.”

The Ood leader stared at him, unblinking as he tilted his head. “I think your song must change again soon.”

The Time Lord frowned. “And that means...?”

“Every song must end, and your story is yet to express the song the visions of the Ood have shown. Your song has changed from what an evil song wishes it to be, and that song will act again. It has already acted today, placing your song in greater danger than it originally planned,” Sigma added, turning slightly to face Donna.

“Yeah... thanks,” the Doctor quietly said. He promptly turned to Donna, trying for calm. “Well, what about you? Do you still want to go home?”

Donna looked at his barely concealed plea, and slowly smiled. She had reached her decision hours ago, and it was time to calm him. “No. Definitely not. You're right; the good we do makes all the difference, and it's far more than I have open to me back home.”

His shoulders sagged, tension melting like fresh snow in the sun as his smile broke out. “Good! Well, I suppose we'll be off.”

“Take this song with you,” Sigma announced. Seconds later, after he returned his ball to storage, all the Ood lifted their palms and began singing a new song.

Donna's eyes watered at the sound. It did not hurt the way the song of captivity had. This felt warming and reassuring, like hope had been rediscovered and it filled her with a quiet pride in them. “We will.”

“Always,” the Doctor promised.

Sigma paused in his contribution to the song to speak again. “And know this, DoctorDonna. You will never be forgotten. Our children will sing of the DoctorDonna, and our children's children. And the wind and the ice and the snow will carry your names forever. Treasure the journey, and do not let the songs of wickedness and deception destroy you. For those will appear in many ways.”

“Oh. Thank you,” the Doctor said for lack of a better thing to say. He then opened the door and let Donna in first.

As soon as the inner doors closed, Donna followed the Doctor to the screen. He turned it on to show the Ood standing outside, singing. “Let's give them something to sing about,” he said as he started the dematerialisation sequence. “You know which buttons to press.”

Donna smiled, glad that he had taken her words at Christmastime to heart. She might have just started, but aside from that enormous eddy they ran into it had gone well.

Seconds later, once Donna could tell they were in the Vortex, she had to ask. “What did he mean, that the evil song put me in greater danger?”

The Doctor sighed and leaned against the Control console. “Do you remember Evelina and the Sybil speaking of a different me supposed to be there?”

“Yeah. Someone with very different hair, for starters. What does you changing history have to do with anything?”

“There's only one 'song' Sigma could mean. Only one who would be angry that things are different, and want to make you leave to attempt to bring things more like she wanted.”

Donna stilled as her eyes fixed on him. “You mean...?” She nodded at the rotor rather than speak it.

He nodded. “Thank you for not speaking it. It means that we must be on our guard, Donna. Things will likely become increasingly dangerous for both of us. Are you still willing to risk it?”

Her eyes flashed with fire. “I lived through almost everyone at school teasing me for my hair. I dealt with the girls mocking me for not being a stick figure. I survived things that drove others to self-harm. I'm not going to let some ancient weapon's remains that infested the TARDIS like a bad smell drive me home.”

The Doctor smiled softly as he set the TARDIS to drift safely in the Vortex so they could unwind. “Well, we'll have to give her some adventures to be angry about. But first, tea and supper.”

“Oi, I'll fight for an alternative when she tries giving us a Kubiashi Maru situation,” Donna added as they went into the inner rooms for their repast.

“Kubi-what?” he blurted after a few seconds.

Donna laughed. “If we have some down time I'll have to show you. Got a telly and ways to see old Earth shows?”

“Of course! On formats you're yet to see. But which one is that from?”

Their voices faded. Meanwhile, the rotor's inner colors tinted to a strong green tinge, sending ominous vibrations from inside the core.

THE END...

TO BE CONTINUED IN... TIME TRIALS

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Jan. 4th, 2019 10:33 pm (UTC)
Oooh, lots of portents that things are going to get evil; especially at the end there. But the Ood warning was downright creepy. No wonder Donna questioned the Doctor about it.

Do you think the Ood Operations staff knew Halpern had changed into an Ood, or do you reckon they assumed he'd been killed? [yes, sometimes I wonder about these things]

Not common that I do so much good in spite of the deaths.
It must have cheered the Doctor up a great deal to be able to compliment himself in this way.
tkel_paris
Jan. 4th, 2019 10:49 pm (UTC)
Portents do seem to be part of this series, don't they? And the echoes of what was supposed to be.

I suspect they assumed he was dead. I think that was for the best, given all the problems they already faced. But I never gave that any thought.

It did. And was important to boosting his mood. Although I enjoyed Donna getting to teach him a little about Star Trek. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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