Title- The Year That Never Was
Characters/Pairings- Many, various
Rating- T for teh violence, because come on, it's 366 days of genocide... I couldn't rate that for kiddies, now could I?
Summary- "You're a time traveler now... it changes the way you see the universe, forever!" Come on, you didn't think that Martha was the only companion fighting the good fight, did you?
A/N- Didn't you ever wonder what all the other companions were doing? Where was Sarah Jane? What were Tegan and Ace and Ian and Barbara and Polly and the rest of the 20th/21st-century residents doing when the Master was all "Im on ur Earth, killin ur doodz"? (and yes, I did just type that. I know. I'm ashamed, too.) This, like my other oneshot collections, will be updated whenever I happen to have a plot bunny. It's a side project to my "mainstream" fics, if you like.
And yes, in an otherwise serious fic, I did work in a "the Master's balls" joke. Can you blame me?
She was not sure why they picked her. Out of everyone those Tocla-whatsits found huddled in that bomb shelter, hoping to survive on tinned pears and wait until someone- anyone- found a way to end the Time Lord's reign of terror, she was the one they elected to spare. She could still hear her mother shrieking in pain and terror as she died, her father dropping wordlessly as the spheres struck him down, her grandfather screaming at her to run, just run, save herself, just leave him...
That was only three weeks after the nightmare began.
Months passed, and the shock faded. Donna Noble was broken, but she was far from beaten. If the Master and his steel balls thought they owned the Earth while there was still breath in her body, they had another think coming.
She snuck into the London Public Library in the middle of the night, and stayed there. She pored through text after text about advanced military-grade weapons, her super-temp mental card catalogue and photographic memory serving her well. She went through the library's microfiche collection as well, reading obscure reports, largely from the 70's, about UNIT encounters with aliens. Oh, certainly the reports had been stripped down and tailored to make them fit for public consumption, but she was just clever enough to read between the lines and piece together what had really happened (weather balloon, her foot!).
Donna spent all of February scrounging up the materials for and constructing the junk-heap equivalent of a sniper rifle. She spent the first three weeks of March learning how to aim. The shots attracted Toclafane, but somehow- she had no idea, and chalked it up to luck- she managed to avoid them every time.
Then she went out on patrol.
Whenever the Master's soldiers invaded the houses where people crouched, clustered in the dark and just hoping to survive, she crept out of the dark and shot them down, one by one.
She knew as well as anyone else that the humans he had working under him had no more love for him than anyone else. They were just trying to survive, or trying to buy their families survival. But she didn't care. If the positions had been reversed, she'd have rather died than work for that maniac. The least she could do was prevent them from doing the Master's evil.
Part of her- she wasn't sure how big a part- kept hoping. Hoping that a skinny little Spaceman in a funny blue box would come to find her and take her out of this hell. Or, better yet, that her strange visitor from the stars would leave her well enough alone and put his talents to work saving the rest of Earth instead. Donna usually ignored that hope. The Doctor had worked one (mixed) miracle for her. She couldn't expect two. There was no handsome hero here to save her now. Besides, she'd lost everything that was worth keeping. All that was left to her was to make sure that the same thing didn't happen to anyone else.
Sometimes she heard whispers. A woman she had saved, a fresh-faced young woman with motorcycle jacket and eyes far too old for someone who could only be thirty at the absolute oldest, mentioned a Time Lord like the Master, but good. The Doctor, she said. "The Doctor'll get us out of this," the woman said, before pressing a few buttons on the leather strap on her wrist and disappearing silently. And there were others.
And she had the tiniest spark of hope. Just enough to keep her running, keep her stealing guns and throwing herself into the line of fire again and again.
The citizens of London took to calling her Little Red, the one who would fight to save them from the big bad wolf in the sky when no one else had the courage to try.
Except the thing they never tell you on television about those distopic hells that are so entertaining in a ninety-minute film is that, if you're gaining notoriety with the oppressed populace, guaranteed the big bads have heard of you as well.
She is hunted down eventually. They tried to attack her before, but always in crack teams of four or five, which she was usually able to handle with (relative) ease. This time, though, there were easily twenty armed men flooding into the bombed-out building she had been calling home for the last week or two. Donna tried to run, but the only way she could hold them back far enough is by firing at them, and shooting and running backwards over uneven, fire-scarred pavement are not two things that go together well, and not only was her speed reduced, she somehow found herself in a walled-up alley. No escape. And then, to make things worse, she ran out of ammo.
That's what you get for letting your guard down...
Weapons were useless. This was it, then. She was in a dead end, facing absolute certain death. Well, goddammit, she was Little Red. She was Donna Noble, and she was not going down crying and begging! She tossed her guns to the ground and threw her arms out wide, making herself an easy target, chin raised defiantly.
"Any last words?" barked a man she has seen before, an old, bitter soldier with a scar running across his throat. She gave him that scar, which explains the sadistic smile with which he delivers the question.
She pulled herself up to the absolute limit of her height, prepared to deliver a simple "fuck you,"- straight, effective, and to the point- but as she opened her mouth, different words came to mind.
"Save us, Doctor!" she screamed to the heavens, eyes wide open and staring at the sky. She heard a shot, and the world went hazy red as she felt her chest rip open. The world went sort of fluid as she dropped to her knees.
And then Time reversed.
The whole universe tilted and shook and her vision goes wibbly for a moment, and then suddenly she was right back where she started at the beginning of this year of hell, before those spheres ever showed up. She was in her living room with her mother and her father and her grandfather.
"Donna?" Sylvia asked, shocked. "You're white as a ghost. What's the matter?"
"The-the Master... the Toclafane?" Donna asked. "What happened to them?"
Sylvia stared at her. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Her mind worked quickly, placing events in order. Somehow- she had no clue how, but somehow- time had turned in on itself and dumped her back where she was one year ago yesterday. She would recognize this exact day and moment anywhere. It was the last sane day in her life, and she had clung to that last moment of contentment throughout the past year. So here she was... only no spheres were appearing. And no one else seemed to remember what had occurred (would occur?). Donna's head ached from trying to understand it all.
The aftereffects of being dead and then resurrected in a timeslide take a toll on the body. Harmless in the long run to anyone in good health, but if one is not in good health...
Geoffrey Noble was not in good health. The subcellular shock of the Year That Never Was caused his heart to fail.
As he collapsed unexpectedly in the middle of the living room, Donna took charge, calling an ambulance and calming the hysterical Sylvia. She had no time to process the impossible things that had taken place as she worked her way through unhelpful hospital staff and paperwork obviously written by someone extremely obtuse. Afterwards, she was busy making funeral arrangements, because Sylvia couldn't and Wilf, bless his soul, was lousy at organizing things.
It wasn't until after her father was safely ensconced in a seven-foot cherrywood casket that Donna finally had time to think. She had time to consider her next move (because how could she go on like this, in an ordinary life, after the hell she had just been through?). She had to get out. She had to get away from London. Everywhere she looked, she saw the bodies of the men she had killed (would kill? Could have killed? Verb tenses suddenly drove her mad) and the lifeless eyes of those she had failed to save. London was a city of ghosts to her now, and no one else could possibly understand why.
There was only one option. There was only way she could possibly get far enough away from this damn city. The only question was: would she ever be able to find him again?
A/N2- Before you ask... yes it was Ace. Yes, I'm going to tie that back in later. ¿Reviews, por favor?