Disclaimer for entire story: I still do not own Doctor who.
A shout out to Vallora who threw this plot bunny at me a while back and it had to be written.
Palms sweaty, the Doctor's eyes kept flickering to the stasis cube rigged up to the TARDIS. It caught the light in his worn, Victorian style control room, and twinkled in a way that nearly taunted him for what he was doing. "Treason" Romana had called it, yet he was pretty sure that she was one of he 12 voices he heard over the closed communications. Not positive, of course, but he was pretty sure somewhere between her losing her presidency and the resurrection of Rassilon she likely regenerated.
"On your mark, Doctor." A deep, raspy voice filled the TARDIS, feeling louder than it likely was.
He wished he knew who these Time Lords were. He knew they weren't all him; it would be stupid and irresponsible to go to the past and ask for help from himself involving a war that he didn't want to be part of to begin with. He was the only one who offered his name, and it really came as no shock to any of them who was inadvertently leading such a rebellious cause. He didn't care much about the rest wanting to keep their identities safe at the time, but now that those twelve were about to be the only other Time Lords left in the Universe, in this Universe, he wanted to know if any of them actually ever liked him.
He really, really hoped Romana among them.
"On three, we tuck Gallifrey away for the safety of everyone. " He said, his voice much clearer and more commanding than he expected. He quickly brushed his palm against his dark green, worn frock coat before hovering his hand on over the console. "One, two, … three."
He pushed he big, red button.
The Doctor was probably he only one in their little gang to see fit to have a big, red button to push at the moment of action. Something about it felt right, the way his palm cupped the curve, and the color of finality there against his skin.
He looked to the monitor and watched as the beams of white light circled the planet. Ships cloaked to blend in with the universe around them were suddenly seen hovering around the atmosphere while the energy they let loose made a cage of sorts around the red planet. The light brightening illuminated their outline dangerously inside the Dalek line of fire, but they knew the risks. It was discussed at length.
But the Doctor could hardly focus on that, his eyes riveted on the planet. His respiratory bypass kicked in as his hearts began to beat quicker. What if it didn't work? What if they destroyed the planet? What if Rassilon found a way to stop it? There were so many things that could happen, all the results of one faulty calculation. The light grew brighter, and the Doctor's eyes widened.
Then in a blink, Gallifrey disappeared.
A slow smile spread along the Doctor's face, causing his eyes to crinkle a bit in the corner. A soft chuckle began to bubble up from his chest, and he was soon laughing joyously. Clapping his hands together, he continued to laugh with himself, jumping up for a moment before he remembered that this body was supposed to be elegant and dangerous in this body. Yet he hadn't felt this exuberant since he had regenerated, and found comfortable shoes and memories of who he was and why he was on Earth.
There was the solemn, easy congratulatory conversation carrying over the intercom, the common sound of the Time Lords stoically patting themselves on the back despite that the lot of them would have had to have been at least a bit rebellious to have had to pull that off. Still, the Doctor couldn't fault them, and he ventured over to the console to join in on the conversation.
"Yes, well done. Perhaps we should convene in person, have a proper toast? I suggest we …."
The TARDIS shook violently, knocking the Doctor to the floor hard enough to knock the wind out of him. His vision blurred for a moment, and he shook his head in an attempt to clear it. Pushing himself up, he was nearly instantly sent back down by another, violent shake. His ears were ringing, and he wasn't entirely sure the alarms blaring weren't entirely in his head.
"What the bloody hell is happening?" The Doctor ground out as he pushed himself up. He flung himself forward, pulling himself up using the edge of the console to get a peek of the monitor. There was debris everywhere, blocking most of his view of the universe. A chunk must of have hit the side of the TARDIS as there was a lurch that had him lose his footing. The vertigo from keeping himself upright made him want to swallow every word of his superior biology he'd ever muttered to anyone ever.
"What's happening, Ol' Girl?" He asked the time ship, his head pounding. There was a sad, hummed lament that he couldn't really focus on, and something warm trickled down the back of his neck.
Another lurch, the world spun, and then it went dark.
When he came around, the Doctor looked about the console room from his place on the floor. His reading chair and tea table were over turned. Well, actually, now that he really looked at it, it seemed that everything was over turned or in pieces. His hearts ached for the broken bits that was his gramophone. The books from the shelves, he worried for a moment, might be too damaged to repair. Some of them were bent quite terribly with the weight of the shelves. The carpet was damaged, and he could feel the pain of the TARDIS echoing in his mind. There was nothing for it, he would need a new desktop.
"And we've had this one for so long." He lamented as he managed to push himself up.
His whole body ached, and it surprised him he hadn't regenerated for all the pain his was in. He could feel damage to his ribs, though if he had broken them, they were already on their way to healing. The back of his head stung, and he was more certain than ever there had been a gash there. Probably still was. Getting to his feet, he knew instantly there was damage to his right ankle. The string of curses in a few different languages and the sense that the TARDIS would have blushed if she were flesh reflected how bad the damage was.
Limping, he headed for the corridor. When he approached the doors and they would not open, he looked to the ceiling. "I'm going to need the med bay." He told the ship.
She hummed another sad lament, though this one was laced with guilt and apologies.
"Whatever happened, you took on a lot of damage, didn't you?"
"That's why she landed you here." Ohila, leader of the sisterhood of Kahn, stated from the main doors of his TARDIS.
The Doctor leaned against the wall by the entrance to the corridor and scowled. "I'm not dying, and you can't try and convince me that I am. Again. Why would she land us here?"
"Because we were the closest planet that could provide you any kind of help for the damage that has been done. Come, your ship needs to heal as much as you do, and she can not do that with you still inside."
The Doctor frowned, a scathing retort on the tip of his tongue, when his ship hummed a desperate plea for him to listen.
"Fine." He growled softly, mostly for himself and the TARDIS, then hobbled toward Ohila using the wall for support. It took a lot longer this way, the room being fairly vast, but at least Ohila hadn't attempted to do more than stand on the threshold. As much as her help could have sped things along, the Doctor was at least grateful she hadn't presumed her welcome.
"You gave a proper right of passage to Cass?" He asked, gritting his teeth through the pain.
"Proper for those of Kahn, at least. As we didn't know where she came from or who her people might have been, we did what we could."
"It was all I asked." The Doctor replied, reaching out for the older woman as he got near enough. She grasped his hand tightly, irritating the scraps on his knuckles, though he didn't say anything. "I entered the war, as you asked. I believe it's safe to say we won."
"But at what cost to you, Doctor?" Ohila asked kindly as she guided him out of the TARDIS. She guided his hobble toward the mouth of the cave before them where a half dozen of the other sisters stood around a stone alter, each holding a smoking goblet.
"Oh not this again." The Doctor groaned, gesturing the to women cloaked in red. "I told you, I'm not dying or dead, and you can't try that on me again."
"No, you're not. And no, we're not. The Elixir of Life is not the only potion we of Kahn can produce. We can heal the current body as well, help guide the regenerative energy to heal the body without transforming it, or having it count toward your lives used."
"How inventive of you." The Doctor replied as he was brought to the alter. He hoisted himself up, grateful to be off his aching legs, and lifted the one with the bad ankle to rest on the flat surface.
"The Time Lords bade us help them with what ever means we possible could. We have made the Draught of Healing, which we will give to you, as well a few other … controversial potions in their quest to win the Time War. This was before, of course, it had gotten so terribly out of hand. When Rassilon was first resurrected."
"And what did you lot get in return? Oh, come now, don't look so surprised, Ohila. You wouldn't do something for nothing. And don't think I haven't figured out that it was Rassilon and the council that encouraged you to convince me of my death should I ever find myself stranded here. They wanted me in the war, and they wanted me regenerated into a man willing to fight."
Ohila at least looked a touch guilty as her frown slowly faded into a more neutral expression. She looked over the vast, barren landscape behind the cave, seeming lost in thought. As she looked out, one of the sisters brought over a goblet, and the Doctor unthinkingly took a drink.
He could feel a subtle fire stirring within, the same sensation that preceded his transformation into another man. But the fire never grew, only intensified in the areas of his body that were damaged. Admittedly, it was more than he realized, and fatigue began to take over.
"They gave us protection." Ohila finally spoke. "They shielded our planet from the effects of the Time War, allowing us to live in peace. When the Time Lords were destroyed, that shield evaporated, allowing your ship to land here along with some of the debris that followed you."
"Time Lords weren't destroyed," The Doctor slurred, his eyes growing heavy as he made a great effort to finish the last of the liquid in his cup. "There were hidden."
"Yes, most were hidden. Nearly all of them. But there were some of you left behind. One of them was the keeper of our shield. But they're gone now."
"Gone?" The Doctor asked, fighting the urge to sleep as his hearts picked up speed and the word of Ohila made their way through the fog of his brain.
"Dead. Destroyed. There were thirteen Time Lords left in this Universe for less than an hour. Now, there is only one."
Before the Doctor could argue that point, or feel anything other than confusion, his eyes rolled back and he was out.
When the Doctor abruptly awoke, he looked at his hands. Same hands he'd had for a few centuries, now unmarred from his tumble around the TARDIS. At least, he was sure it was a few centuries. He never could properly keep track. But they were the same, which meant that when he finally caught his reflection he'd still see the same face he had when he last shaved. The beginnings of lines around his blue eyes, a visage that was starting to show the signs of age but was still as handsome as it had been in it's more youthful appearance. He liked this body, this face, and he wanted to hold on to it. He ran his familiar hand over the back of his head, fingers feeling through the short curls for the cut that was no longer there. Sometimes he missed his longer hair, but the cropped look was much more practical.
He rolled his ankle, and felt no grinding or popping to indicate damage, though it wasn't the most comfortable movement in the gaiters and ankle boots. He suddenly realized how odd it was for the sisterhood to have left them on, seeing as how his frock coat and blue ascot were removed. He looked around, spotting them neatly folded on the ground beside the alter he laid on. He looked down his torso as he patted himself. His brocade, muted gold and black waistcoat was still in place, as was the chain attached to it, one end leading to the small pocket that held his pocket watch. His sonic screwdriver would be tucked away in coat. The sleeves of his ivory oxford had been unbuttoned and rolled up, so he promptly went about righting those.
"How do you feel, Doctor?" Ohila's voice startled him slightly, but he merely whipped his head up to look at her as he finished putting himself back together.
"Quite well, actually. Like a new man, except I'm not. Quite the feat you've pulled, Ohila."
"And what of your mind?" She asked cautiously.
"What of it?" He asked as he hopped off the alter, bending briefly to retrieve his coat and ascot. He plopped the former down on the alter behind him as he went about retying the latter around his neck.
"Does it feel empty? Is it too quiet inside your head without them?" Ohila asked.
"The Time Lords."
The Doctor frowned as he focused on his telepathic centers. While touch was more or less required for true communication, there was always a buzz in the back of his mind, the hum of the presence of other Time Lords. Well, mostly when they were nearby, but there had also always been a light connection. Or maybe that was just with his ship? He stretched his mind, seeking for others, finding only the TARDIS.
"It would make sense that I wouldn't feel them, what with them being in another Universe." He replied as he slipped his coat back on over his shoulders.
"Yes," Ohila replied. "But you should still have been able to sense another twelve souls, and I know you do not."
The Doctor adjusted his coat as he ignored the growing unease in his chest. "They are simply too far away."
"They are simply dead, Doctor. Dead, and there is nothing we can do to bring them back. They are lost to us."
"No," He said simply. He moved for the TARDIS, seeing the ship outside the cave, waiting for him with a stoic hum. He attempted to keep his steps casual, but the urgency to learn the truth was making his pace a bit too quick. He reached into his inner coat pocket for a key, paying no mind to how it felt different in his hand. He unlocked and opened the door, ignoring the differences the back of his mind was registering as he went for the console.
He quickly opened up the closed communication he had with the other TARDISes. "Hello? Hello? This is the Doctor, can you read me? Is anyone there?" He tried, getting nothing but static. He refused to believe the silence in his mind was permanent, that he would never feel the brush of another Time Lord in his mind again.
"With your planet hidden, and the others who joined you on such a foolish endeavor to do so gone, I'm afraid you're the only Time Lord left." Ohila said.
"But I can't be." The Doctor said softly to himself. He tried to think if there was a way he could bring Gallifrey back, knew there had to be some sort of log that indicated where it was. If not, he could calculate the possible location. It was only a pocket universe, there couldn't be that many.
His hearts were racing, his mind following suit even as the TARDIS merely hummed a little sadly.
"Doctor." Ohila said, getting his attention. He looked over his shoulder, seeing her standing in the doorway once more. It was only by the sharp contrast of her red robes that he clued in that the walls of his time ship were light once more.
Teal, it seemed, with a hexagonal pattern on the lower part of the walls. All around him, the rails and supports were much more organic in design, reminding him of TARDIS coral when it was just beginning to properly grow. The floors were smooth, light grey, a metal of some variety that looked like marble and sounded so under his feet. The jump seats hardly looked comfortable, straight backed and hard, ribbed and unpleasant. The time rotor extended to the ceiling, emitting a blueish-green light. It ended at the base of a collection of names in Gallifreyan. He caught a few: Susan, Sarah-Jane, Lucie, Ace. Companions, and with a few blank spaces among them for ones yet to come.
"Doctor," Ohila repeated, bringing the focus back to her. Without permission, she entered the TARDIS and walked up to him. "Take these." She said, handing him three bottles. "One is for healing, one is to aid in a regeneration, the other … is something we made just for you. One day, you will understand why we gave it to you. But there is something you have to understand: you are the only one left. There are no more. They are gone, and so you must be the one to uphold the laws of time. If you don't, terrible things will happen."
"I won't be alone, not for long. I will find them, Ohila, it's only a matter of …."
"Time. Something you are intimately familiar with. But each time you scan the Universe, ask yourself this: is it wise to bring them back? With the way they were in the end, the lengths you went to to ensure they would not unleash their tyranny on the universe, is it worth it to have the connection?"
"If you were the only one of the Sisterhood of Kahn left here, would you not find a way to bring the others back?" He countered.
"No," She replied. "I would simply seek out new sisters." She paused, her blue eyes locking with the Doctor's as she stared at him intensely. After a few hearts beats, she blinked, and offered a faint smile. "I will leave you, Doctor, so that you may get back out into the stars and set right what the Time War has made wrong with the Universe. You are not the only one left displaced or confused."
Without another word, Ohila turned and left the TARDIS, closing the doors behind her.
The Doctor slumped against the console, mind reeling from all that happened. His time sense told him he'd been out for a day, something that weighted down the fact he was the only survivor. How? Why? He had an older ship, certainly if he survived … whatever it was, than they did, too.
The Doctor moved around the control panel, setting up a scanning system for anything Gallifreyan.
After hours passed, he set off and explored the layout of his TARDIS. Nothing about her looked the way he was used to, but at the same time she was familiar in that she mimicked designs of the past. He would wander until he was exhausted, knowing in both hearts that she would shift his bedroom to where he was when he needed rest. He'd lie down with certainty that if the scanner detected anything, she would put his room right next to the console room, and he could land in an instant.
Eventually, hours of wandering turned to days of waiting. Each one that passed made his hearts grow heavier, the loneliness increase.
Alone, so alone.
"What am I to do, Ol' Girl?" He asked his time ship as he slumped in the corridor, peering into the console room.
There was a ping, not one to alert him to the presence of anything Gallifreyan, but a different one he set up before. A different alarm that informed him when something or someone was on his favorite planet, his second home.
"I need to disable that," He muttered as he went to the console. A few flicks of the controls, and he disabled it permanently.
The TARDIS hummed something that sounded like a growl.
"Oh don't give me that." The Doctor said without bite. "We want to find the other Time Lords, not …." He peered down at the controls and read what had been detected and when. "Oh, hello, what's this?" He said, fingers running along the circles of his language. "Autons, London, 2005. Why is it always London?" He muttered to himself as he went about setting the controls and flipped the switch. "Well, Ol' Girl, looks like my time of perpetual mourning and moping is done. Should probably grab some supplies before landing. Doubt I'll find the Nestene Consciousness first go, might need to blow a few things up, first."