Disclaimer: I own none of it. Never have, never will. Although I would like anyone working for the BBC to interpret these stories as job applications for a writing position on Doctor Who.
Also during the full course of this story (for which this will be my only disclaimer) there will be, a Wayne's World quote. One ickle Stagate reference you'll not even see if you're not an avid fan of those shows. A blatant Terminator reference. One relatively obvious Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy quote. A small Star Trek reference. And an obvious Back to the Future reference.
Wow, I didn't actually plan to use all those, just added them in here as I spotted them in my proofreading. Spot them all, win a cookie (please note, no actual cookies may be reimbursed over Internet communications). Still, not mine.
Summary: Sequel to Arithmancy. You need to read Arithmancy to understand what happened to Donna. Although Arithmancy was a Harry Potter crossover, there are no witches or wizards in this story. Plenty of Time Lords, though.
Author's Note: I have never actually seen Gallifrey, or any episodes involving it in any way. Only thing I've seen for sure is the parts of the newer series that reference it. And its article on Wikipedia, which I am probably relying too heavily on.
And I know that it said somewhere official that it called the Rani a Time Lady once, and a lot of people have picked up on that and done this thing where Rose somehow becomes a 'Time Lady' - I just don't like the term, so I'm using the title Time Lord to mean both genders, it's been used in that way before, anyhow. I firmly believe the Time Lady thing was a mistake, and will continue to believe so until someone from the BBC offers me a job on their writing staff and in the interview says "oh, by the way, the Time Lady thing wasn't a mistake". So yeah.
I decided this story was best broken up into chapters, even though I actually wrote it in one piece, because it seems to be the only way to get enough reviews (hint hint). Now, if you've found this story and not Arithmancy or either of my other two stories in this series, go look at my author page. Seriously. I wrote this story fourth in the series (though as long as you read Arithmancy first, you can read the rest of these in any order, really).
WARNING: This story contains a lot of time travel, if you are not good at following time-paradox plot-lines, you may have some trouble following what's going on. It's a Time War, what did you expect, nothing but straight all-out fighting? Ha!
x x x
"Time is our ally,
Death is our friend,
Where you world breaks,
Our world will bend.
What never was,
And never will be,
Is here and now,
And we all shall see.
That things that once were,
And things that now are,
Shall never have been,
That is our power"
-Time Lord, by Bad Werewolf.
x x x
Chapter 1: Seat-belts
x x x
It was a bumpy ride, that's for sure. The TARDIS literally had to jump through hoops to get through the field that locked out temporal interference. During the journey they found themselves floating in mid-air three feet off the TARDIS floor, before being thrown towards one wall, just swerving in time to crash into the ceiling instead of the wall, before becoming weightless for another few seconds. This went on in a similar pattern for several minutes.
Finally they landed in an unceremonious heap. He was on top of her, and her knee was in a very uncomfortable place.
An alarm began to sound.
He groaned in pain, and rolled over to the side, allowing her to get up. She did so with one fluid motion and soon stood over him looking quite smug.
"Remind me to install seat-belts next time I try that." she said, her tone somehow taking on an effected aristocratic accent he had never heard her use before.
"If there is a next time." the Doctor grumbled, sitting up wearily, rubbing a bruise in the side of his head.
She shrugged innocently.
"What's with your accent?" he asked.
"What this? Stole it, sort of. Well you gave it to me. It was the Master's." she smiled, "Good, isn't it?" she added in her own natural accent, "Now you can tell when I'm channelling his bad attitude and when it's my own bad attitude you've got to worry about, space boy."
"Brilliant." the Doctor said sarcastcally, picking himself up off the ground and going to investigate the alarm, "And you can't really call me that anymore."
"Watch me." she leaned past him to look at the alarm, "Oh that sounds like the hull pressure alarm. I did re-route that, it really means we've broken through the temporal barrier, successfully."
"Uh huh." the Doctor said, examining the crossed wires to see she was probably right. He still didn't really believe it was possible, but at least there wasn't really a hull breach.
"You know where you're going here, now, right?" she asked, "Or do you want me to drive?"
"No!" the Doctor snapped quickly as she made to touch the control panel, "No no, I know where we're going. Don't need you throwing us all over the ship again. Really don't."
Donna grinned at him, and settled comfortably on the couch, which was conveniently placed on the far side of the room from where they had been thrown into walls, as if fate wanted to make them suffer for their insolence by denying them a soft landing.
"What did you intend to do once we got here, anyway?"
"It's about a decade before the Time War affected, if my calculations-" Donna started, but the Doctor interrupted her.
"Never say that! If you ever utter that sentence then your calculations will be way off." Earthlings call it Sod's Law, Time Lords had never really believed in it before the Doctor had gone and scientifically proved its existence.
"For you maybe. I have a better track record with calculations, if you remember." she said in her 'Master' voice.
The Doctor pulled an unamused face and began setting the very familiar course to Gallifrey. It had been so long, but he could never forget his way home.
x x x
"It's not here." the Doctor said flatly, pointing at the view screen and wondering what had gone wrong this time. They had arrived in the constellation of Kasterborous, and should now have been in orbit of Gallifrey. The Doctor knew they were in the right place, but where his homeworld should be there was only a sparse asteroid field circling around a binary pair of dying white dwarf stars incapable of sustaining life.
"Maybe the timelock only stopped it hitting the rest of the galaxy, but they kept jumping back anyway?" Donna suggested, her accent held not a hint of the Master in it, so he guessed it was the human part of her mind that had come up with it. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable assumption to make, too.
The real horror of the Time War had been that it had involved subversive attacks on planets' histories. In many cases the Time Lords would suddenly discover one of their greatest allies had never even evolved as far as bipedal let alone sentience, or one of their other enemies had been strengthened a thousandfold by a single Dalek at a key point in history.
The Time Lords had used the same tactic, too, and the Doctor knew damned well he had had the perfect opportunity to actually eliminate the Daleks at their creation but had been too soft to go through with it. Had he known then what he knew now, even with his current incarnation's aversion to the idea of genocide, he would have done it in a heartbeat.
"So how far back?" he asked her.
"Not very. Judging by the distance of the debris, the temperature of the stars and the distinct smell of asphalt, I'd say about six thousand years?" that was all the Master, he would have known without the accent.
"The smell, I wouldn't have thought of that, I would have said about four thousand." the Doctor said, starting to set the TARDIS to go back about seven thousand years.
"Temporpal-astrogational mathematics was never your top subject at the Academy, was it?"
"I preferred evolutionary temporal physics." the Doctor grumbled as the TARDIS started its journey back in time, remaining in the same physical location.
x x x
"That's the collision warning alarm." the Master's tone of voice informed him at its most evilly amused.
"I noticed." and at the Doctor's instruction the TARDIS hopped to a point directly behind the offending object. When he brought it up on scanners it turned out to be a Dalek warship.
"We could have been earlier." the Master informed, in the tone that wished they had. The Doctor was starting to think of it as three people in the ship instead of two, Donna's natural tone and the Master's were very different, even though he did realise it was only one mind with a bunch of extra memories.
Donna danced around to the other side of the control panel and hit the shields-up button before the Doctor had time to finish adjusting their course. Soon the warship had turned to face them and a barrage of laser beams rocked the ship, thankfully absorbed by the shield in spite of the inertially offensive side-effect, before the Doctor activated another time jump and they were out of there. Well, out of then. Back another thousand years.
x x x
"Not as bad as last time." Donna noted, leaning over the view screen to look at the golden-orange world they now orbited.
"Something's wrong, though." the Doctor noted, before pulling up a closer view of the planet. Its surface was completely barren, no atmosphere. No life.
"When do you reckon that happened?" she asked.
"It wasn't radiation, so there's no way to be sure."
"Keep hopping back a thousand at a time?" she suggested.
"Probably the best idea."
"Or we could go right to the big bang and hit the fast-forward button." she joked.
"I prefer the first idea, probably quicker." the Doctor said, silently wishing there was also a mute button.
x x x