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Altered History: Chasing Unicorns and Wasps (3/6)

Title: Chasing Unicorns and Wasps
Series: Altered History
Genre: Doctor Who
Author: tkel_paris
Rating: T/M (attempted murder, emotionally constipated characters)
Summary: The Library left a mark on both Eight and Donna. They each realized they had feelings for the other, but felt unable to act on them. How will meeting Agatha Christie and his nearly dying change their dynamic?
Disclaimer: Utterly not mine. Just taking things from canon, mixing in Big Finish stories, and adding a healthy dose of my imagination.
Dedication: cassikat, for getting me interested in the Eighth Doctor in the first place. tardis_mole for being an awesome beta. And bas_math_girl for encouraging me to continue the series and keep posting.
Author's Note: Started during NaNoWriMo when I suddenly found “Echos on Oodsphere” finishing two chapters sooner than I expected (leaving one flashback bit out in the original draft), and to keep me going. I had to figure out on the fly what else I needed to write, and figured out later where the ideas would fit.

Once again, please make sure you've read the earlier installments: The Runaway Bride, Prophecies and Pompeii, Echoes on Ood Sphere, and Time Trials. Otherwise you'll have no context for why Donna is traveling with Eight.

Originally, I was not going to include “The Unicorn and the Wasp” as one of the DT-era stories moved into this series. However, when the flashbacks in the last story stopped naturally at the end of “The Christmas Invasion” and did not continue to the needed final flashbacks, I knew I needed one more story. So the idea from my beta of using some brief flashbacks of things needed to show the evolution of Eight and Donna's relationship turned into a full-blown story. I think it works better this way, because it prepares for the rest of the series. I did rewatch the episode before posting, to catch any details I previously missed. Mind, the American DVDs have terrible closed captioning for the episodes; a lot of lines are presented incorrectly.

And this is not Eight's first time investigating a murder. If you can get hold of a copy of “Max Warp,” I highly recommend it. It's basically “Top Gear in space meets Agatha Christie”. PM's own description of the story.

Canon Error Reset Alert Note: You might have noticed that I developed a habit of giving the date for when a chapter is set wherever possible. Well, when I looked up when Agatha Christie disappeared so I could give the date, I was stunned to learn that RTD allowed a writer to place it during the summer and not the near winter when it actually happened. I know Doctor Who is known for bad writing, but this made me face-palm myself. So... I'm adjusting the setting to the historical date, and adjusting the events and scenes as needed. Also, the sheer number of historical research fails were abnormally high in this episode even for Doctor Who. Hence a lot of adjustments in addition to the season change.

Chapter One / Chapter Two

Altered History: Chasing Unicorns and Wasps

Started November 22, 2018
Finished January 6, 2019

Chapter Three: Blowing Threats Away

Canary Wharf, London
June 2006

With a brief flash, the Doctor materialized with the once-again loaned Vortex Manipulator. “They say that after this it will return to the right me for good. I'll believe that when I see it.”

He looked around and paled as he got a look outside. “Oh, no!”

Outside in the air was a Time Lord prison Ark. Somehow, its prisoners were escaping thanks to its spinning. “Daleks. They're from that one contingent that had to be contained during the aftereffects of the near Time War!”

His scanner at his side beeped, but only at a sonic cadence. He looked at it. “Oh, it gets better. Cybermen all over the world.”

A group of people ran in, and they all stopped. “Who are you? Where'd you come from?” asked the oldest man among them.

The Doctor turned and managed a small smile at two members of the group. “Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler. Where is he?”

“Should be right behind us,” Mickey said. “Along with-”

Rose and the Eleventh Doctor came racing in. The former stopped still. “Not you, again!”

“Ah, good!” exclaimed Eleven, stopping Rose's rant. “Your timing is perfect. Unusual for us, isn't it?”

“How the hell did that horde of Daleks escape?!” Eight demanded in lieu of a greeting. “And how did that Ark get to Earth?”

“Someone managed to misuse equipment later on. Unfortunately I couldn't correct it as I knew this had to happen.”

“Where are all those creatures coming from?” asked Jackie.

“Time Lord science,” Eleven explained. “It's bigger on the inside.”

“Did the Time Lords put those Daleks in there? What for?” asked Mickey.

“It's a prison ship.”

Rose was horrified. “How many Daleks?”

“Millions,” Eight answered. “Well, Doctor, have you got a solution for us?”

“Yes. Contact?”

Eight quickly met Eleven halfway, and they stood side-by-side, closing their eyes. “Contact,” Eight replied.

To the others it looked like nothing was happening. Pete had had enough. “I'm sorry, but you've had it. This world's going to crash and burn. There's nothing we can do. We're going home,” he said, taking a spare yellow medallion from one of the commandos with them. “Jacks, take this. You're coming with us.”

Jackie looked at the medallion. “But they're destroying the city.”

The Doctors were vaguely aware of the words being exchanged. But they both came out of their own exchange. “Okay,” Eight said, confident. “Go and explain. I'll set most of it up!” He promptly went to one of the terminals and starting imputing commands.

“Good!” Eleven said, turning around to look back at where they had come from and bringing something to his face.

“I'd forgotten you could argue,” Pete continued, smiling ruefully. “It's not just London, it's the whole world. But there's another world just waiting for you, Jacks. And it's safe as long as the Doctor closes the breach. Doctor?”

Eleven turned around, wearing the cheap-looking 3D glasses common to that time's most complex cinemas. “Oh, I'm ready. We've got the equipment right here. Thank you, Torchwood.”

“We can slam it down and close off both universes,” Eight announced, rapidly continuing his work.

“Rebooting systems,” the computer announced.

“But we can't just leave,” Rose said, sounding wise – which drew Eight's attention briefly away from his work. “What about the Daleks? And the Cybermen?”

“They're part of the problem, and that makes them part of the solution. Oh yes!” Eleven cried in triumph.

Eight might have smiled under other circumstances. He knew he was making sure that once the others were out of harm's way they could quickly act.

Eleven turned to face the Humans. “Well? Isn't anyone going to ask 'what is it with the glasses'?”

Rose took the bait. “What is it with the glasses?”

“I can see, that's what,” he said. “Because we've got two separate worlds, but in between the two separate worlds, we've got the Void. That's where the Daleks were hiding. And the Cybermen travelled through the Void to get here. And you lot, one world to another, via the Void. Oh, I like that. Via the Void. Look,” he said, giving the glasses to Rose. “By this point in my timeline I've been through it. Do you see?”

Eight knew that Rose was seeing red and blue specs floating around Eleven, and given her hand reaching out she was trying to touch them.

“Reboot in three minutes,” said the Computer.

“If that,” Eight muttered.

“What is it?” asked Rose, at the same time.

“Void stuff,” Eleven answered.

“Like er, background radiation,” she guessed.

“That's it. Look at the others. And the only Human who hasn't been through the Void, your mother. Lucky you, Jackie.”

“Thanks, I think,” Jackie replied pertly.

“And look at the earlier me,” Eleven ordered.

“What?” Rose cried, turning toward Eight anyway. “Yeah, he doesn't have any around him, either.”

“Well, he wouldn't,” Eleven remarked. “I hadn't crossed the Void at that point in my timeline.”

Rose turned her eyes back on Eleven. “What do you mean?!”

“I barely avoided saying it on the Sycorax ship, Rose,” Eight answered. “I'm the Eighth Doctor. He's the Eleventh. We're the same man, just at different points in our history.”

Pete and the commando's eyes were enormous. “But-”

“They're like phoenixes,” Mickey explained. “And definitely the same man. The Doctor we've met repeated things that only that Doctor could've told me.”

Rose went silent. Her pale, dismayed expression showed that it had not truly sunk in.

“But the Daleks lived inside the Void,” Eleven explained, taking advantage of the silence. “They're bristling with it. Cybermen, all of them. I just open the Void and reverse. The Void stuff gets sucked back inside.”

“And pulling them all in!” Eight declared, pleased with the progress and solution.

“Exactly!” Eleven agreed.

“Sorry, what's the Void?” asked Mickey.

“The dead space,” Eight answered, not looking up from his work. “Some people call it Hell.”

“So you're sending the Daleks and Cybermen to Hell. Man, I told you he was good,” he said to Pete.

Rose held a hand in front of her eyes, seeing the material floating around her as well. “But it's like you said. We've all got Void stuff. Me too, because we went to that parallel world. We're all contaminated. We'll get pulled in,” she finished weakly, numbly as she removed the glasses.

“That's why you've got to go,” Eleven ordered, taking the glasses off her.

“Reboot in two minutes,” the computer said.

“Back to Pete's world. Hey, we should call it that. Pete's World. I'm opening the Void, but only on this side. You'll be safe on that side,” Eleven said to the others.

“And then you close it, for good?” Pete clarified.

Eleven nodded. “The breach itself is soaked in Void stuff. In the end it'll close itself. And that's it. Kaput. And before you say I'll get pulled in...” He held up a giant magnetic clamp. “That's why I got this. I'll just have to hold on tight. I've been doing it all my life. He won't need one, since he's clean.”

“I'm supposed to go,” Rose repeated.

“Yeah,” Eleven said, rushing to get the clamp in place on the wall. He would put it on the floor, but with another him it was unnecessary.

“To another world, and then it gets sealed off,” she continued, realizing what that meant for her.

“Yeah,” Eleven repeated, the clamp activating into place.

“Forever. That's not going to happen,” Rose declared.

“As my future self's foster daughter, you don't get a choice in the matter,” Eight said. “They're all set to sixes, Doctor,” he added quickly before stepping right into Rose's space and giving her a what-for he had been waiting to give. “The instant that system is ready, he and I will be pushing the levers. That clamp is only big enough for one person to hold on to. Anyone not safely on Pete's World will be pulled into the Void. Your place is with your mum.”

“If he's you then that means you never gave us a chance, Doctor!” Rose protested to Eleven.

“Rose!” Jackie cried. “Listen to them!”

'Reboot in one minute,” the computer said at the same time.

Rose looked at her mother sadly. “I've had a life with you for nineteen years, but then I met the Doctor, and all the things I've seen him do for me, for you, for all of us. For the whole stupid planet and every planet out there. He does it alone, mum. But not anymore, because now he's got me.”

“No, Rose, you never listened!” Eleven snapped, shocking her into silence. “I treated you like a daughter, and you wilfully misinterpreted my actions every time since the first Slitheen invasion. Not to mention attempted to manipulate everyone into thinking I'm your boyfriend!”

Eight held his questions back. This was not to be missed. Now he finally understood what Mickey Smith had meant by a popcorn moment.

“I have family and friends back on Gallifrey, and they would have helped me with the Daleks on the Game Station had the timelines not given us a warning that you would abuse the TARDIS as you did. If we didn't know that some of it was, unfortunately, necessary for future events, and that you were supposed to be there for some events after they wouldn't have let you hurt the Old Girl. But my family has had enough and so have I! I told you we were about to part ways, and today is the storm that does it!” Eleven quickly put another medallion around Rose's neck as he added, “If you're not on Pete's World when we pull those levers then you're getting sucked into the Void. And it'll be on your head if that happens.”

Pete pressed his button just as Rose asked, “What're you-”

The instant she and the others vanished, Eight and Eleven burst into action, pressing the final controls. “All ready,” Eleven confirmed.

“Systems rebooted. Open access,” announced the computer.

“We've got Cybermen on the way up,” Eight noticed on the scanners. “One floor down, but one's stopping them.”

“Levers operational,” said the computer.

“Are you ready?” Eleven asked as he moved into position.

“Yes, and so are they,” Eight said, noticing the Daleks appearing outside the window once he was in position.

They heard a flash and Rose appeared again, throwing the medallion off her neck the next instant. “That's the button-”

“I warned you, Rose,” Eleven said. “Now!”

Eight and Eleven both pushed the levers as Rose ran to the Doctor she knew.

“Online,” announced the computer.

A bright light appeared out of the breach and a strong wind blasted into it. Eleven barely made it to the Magnaclamp in time, and Eight ducked as much behind his lever as he could. All around them the breach sucked the first Daleks through the windows and into itself.

“Emergency!” a Dalek cried as it vanished.

Rose reached the lever near Eleven and managed to grab it with both hands. She clung tightly to it, her feet flying off the ground and trying to leave the rest of her behind. “Doctor, stop it!”

“The breach is open! All the Daleks and Cybermen are going into the Void! Ha!” Eleven cried. “And what were you thinking?!” he shouted at her as more of their enemies flew by them. “Once the breach collapses, that's it. You will never be able to see her again. Your own mother! You'll get sucked in!”

“I made my choice a long time ago, and I'm never going to leave you!” she cried. “Why do you keep sending me away?!”

Eight kept low, looking for an opening to help deal with this unwanted intrusion. But the steady stream of Daleks and Cybermen all being sucked through the one broken window into the Void kept him in place.

Rose's grip on the lever slowly moved it a little. It was enough that the Doctors felt the suction decreasing.

“Offline,” announced the computer.

“Give her the medallion back!” Eleven told Eight.

“It got sucked into the Void with the Daleks and Cybermen,” Eight informed him. It had been an unwelcome sight. Now none of the Daleks or Cybermen could be sucked in.

Rose could now let go with one hand to reach for the Doctor. “Help me first!” she cried.

Eleven tried his best to avoid her reach, yet it looked like she would get a grip on his suit.

But Eight took the chance and hurried over. His hair and clothes were blown by the wind and yet his steps were sure. He drew out the sonic, adjusted the setting as a precaution, and reached the lever from the other side. He pulled the lever back into place.

“Online and locked,” the computer confirmed as they all felt the suction grow back to its previous intensity. Eight threw himself against the wall near Eleven to avoid the incoming, shouting enemies.

Rose screamed, needing to grip the lever again with both hands as her body again went fully horizontal. The momentum from her hand being drawn away from the Doctor she thought of as hers weakened her grip enough that she lost contact.

Eleven and Eight watched as she flew toward the Void. Suddenly Pete appeared, caught Rose and vanished with her in his arms. Seconds later the wind died down rapidly and the light of the Void closed itself like it had never existed in the first place.

“Systems closed,” the computer confirmed.

Eleven let go of the Magnaclamp, breathing heavily. “That stun setting wasn't necessary.”

“I couldn't be certain what she would try,” Eight retorted.

“No, you couldn't. But it's no longer our concern. I'm rid of her. I warned her that her time with me was ending, that I could see it in the timelines.”

“But she wanted to possess you,” Eight voiced aloud, guessing more than he wanted to. “You even risked acting like we have more than just our small remaining family on Gallifrey.”

Eleven would not look him in the eye. He simply kept looking at where Rose had last been in their universe. “She never respected me. She wouldn't even respect her mother in the end. Not for a little bit. Poor Jackie. If only she and Pete can make Rose listen now that she has to stay with them.”

“You don't sound hopeful.”

“Just... a sense. Based on what little I think I remember.”

“From what?”

“Not sure, but I don't think it'd be a good idea to tell you even if I knew. Tell you what, help me clean up a bit here, collect items that Torchwood doesn't need to keep, and then I'll take you back to your TARDIS. You can leave the Manipulator with me. It's mine, after all.”

Eight followed him out of the room. “So who are those ladies wearing our House colors?”

“Part of the House of Lungbarrow. In your future.”

“Yes, yes, yes, I know that. But who are they to us?”

Eleven's lips twisted into a grimace. “You know why I can't tell you. Anyway, get yourself ready. Life is about to change.”


“You'll see. Now stop asking questions I can't answer and help me instead! And please hand me that Vortex Manipulator.”

Eight did stop asking, and he handed over the Manipulator. But he constantly wondered. He couldn't help it any more than he could understand why he kept wondering about it.

He continued speculating silently, feeling the pressure of not knowing as he returned to his TARDIS. And he leaned against his ship's controls as he and the Old Girl resumed their journey. “Just let something good come my way for a change, please,” he muttered aloud.

Seconds later, the controls signaled something had changed within the TARDIS. His next adventure had begun, and it brought a new intruder to the TARDIS. One who would become as welcome as the last one foisted on him, and then some.

Chapter Four: A Mutually Great Big Shock
Tags: bas_math_girl, cassikat, doctor who, eight, fanfic, fic!presents, ficverse = altered history, jackie tyler, mickey smith, rating = t, tardis-mole, ten

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