Disclaimer: The rights to Doctor Who? Well, you know what it's like - new fanfic, all that paperwork... I think it's down the back of the settee; I did have a quick look - I found a pen, a sweet, a bus ticket and...uh...nope, no rights to Doctor Who. Huh. Guess they must still be with the BBC.
Summary: What if the Daleks had found out that two Time Lords survived the Time War? This fanfic basically starts by combining the 2009 Christmas special "End of Time" with the season five episode "Victory of the Daleks". You don't need to have seen either of those episodes to understand this.
Warnings: Hey, there's Daleks. Warnings for exterminations, obviously. There's also the Master being his charming self, although that'll be no worse than he was in "End of Time". And, as usual for my longer fics, I do address insanity in some detail.
A bit of patience might be required at first in this fic, since for a number of reasons (namely making the whole thing flow better, and making it readable for people who haven't seen or can't remember "End of Time"), I've retold quite a bit of the beginning of "End of Time" part one. It will move into AU territory and become a story in its own right, don't worry - but for the initial chapters, much of it might sound awfully familiar. I've split it up so that there's something original in each chapter, though.
As for canon...well, the details are all accurate - I've just gone and...let's say, put my own spin on some of the ideas in the canon episode. Stirred it up a bit, added some Daleks, tossed in a bit more angst and just a dash of insanity...
...best served hot! :D
The December air was cold, biting at the cheeks and throats of last-minute Christmas shoppers who milled through the festively-lit streets of London. Fairy-lights adorned every shop window and doorway; overhead, tinsel was wound around power-lines, glimmering in the light from the street lamps; and outside one shop, below a towering Christmas tree, a brass band were piping out a cheerful rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" to the passing shoppers.
One shopper, arms laden with carrier bags, nodded amicably at the people he passed. Although wrapped up warmly in a heavy coat and woollen hat, his breath came in foggy billows – if it didn't snow tonight, there would certainly be a frost in the morning. Wilfred Mott wrapped his chilled fingers around the handles of his bags. Carols…lights…presents… He paused for a moment beside the brass band, drinking in the familiar sounds of the season – but even there, bathed in the glow of the tree lights, surrounded by the merriment of Christmas, he felt inexplicably uneasy. Something gnawed in the pit of his stomach, an icy weight of premonition and dread.
It had started with the nightmares. Every night, the same dream had haunted him for some time now. He knew that Sylvia's sleep, too, had been troubled – if nothing else, the extra half teaspoon of coffee in the mornings gave it away – but, stoic as ever, she had said nothing. Perhaps she didn't even remember once daylight returned. Wilf himself could barely recall much more than that there had been a nightmare.
Briefly, a memory flashed before his mind's eye, bringing with it the terror of the darkness and the nightmares. A face, a voice – a man, laughing in triumph, with a glint in his eye that sparked with insanity and power. Taken unawares, Wilf recoiled at the vividness of the vision, his breath catching in his throat. It passed as quickly as it had struck him, and at a concerned look from a woman, he hastened to compose himself and sent her a friendly nod as she passed him. Still, he shivered, and not from the winter chill that hung in the still air. It was getting late, and he made to hurry home, but he had barely taken two steps forward when something caught his eye. He couldn't be certain how, but his attention had landed on the bell tower of a grey stone church some way ahead. Perhaps it was the distant sound of the church choir, which could be made out now that the brass band were packing up; perhaps it was just almost-forgotten memories of sleepy Sunday mornings as a boy in church with his old grandmother, who had died before the Second World War. She had never lived to see her grandson standing tall and proud in his new military uniform with the cold metal of a revolver in his hand. Before he knew it, he found himself heading towards the ancient steeple.
Inside the church, the air was musty with the odours of damp pew cushions and yellowing hymn books. Almost subconsciously, his hand moved to his head and removed his hat. The choir sang on, their lilting voices washing around the candlelit church in a soft wave of sound that rose and fell with Wilf's breath as he made his way slowly down the aisle. Above the altar, a stained glass window was illuminated by the street lamps outside – and there, almost hidden by the surrounding saints and religious figures, was a tiny but unmistakable image that took Wilf's breath away.
There was no doubt about it – it was the TARDIS.
"They call it the legend of the blue box."
Wilf turned, startled, to see a woman standing in the aisle, her expression solemn. She was dressed in white with a buttoned, smart white blazer and simple necklace; something about her gave Wilf the impression that she was older than he could guess from the streaks of grey in her hair.
"Oh – I…" Wilf took a moment to gather his thoughts, and his gaze drifted back to the stained glass window. "Never been in here before – I'm not one for churches. Too cold."
"This was the site of a convent, back in the 1300s," the woman continued behind him, and he turned back to face her. "It's said a demon fell from the sky. Then a man appeared – a man in a blue box." For a moment, Wilf smiled, lost in bittersweet memories, and the woman smiled back. "He smote the demon, and then disappeared."
"That's a bit of a coincidence," Wilf muttered, raising his eyes once again to the window. What a coincidence, the woman could not possibly guess.
"It's said there's no such thing as coincidence. Who knows – perhaps he's coming back." Facing away, Wilf missed the smile that passed across her face as she spoke, but her words struck a chord of longing in his heart that he felt every time he looked at his granddaughter.
"Oh, that would make my Christmas!" he said vehemently, and turned.
The woman had vanished.
Unsettled, his stomach lurched. The choir had fallen silent, and not a sound from the streets outside penetrated the stone walls of the church. An icy prickle ran down his spine as he scanned the dim hall and saw no sign of the woman. It was as if she had never even been there. Again, Wilf shuddered with almost imagined horror as the manic laughter from his nightmares passed through his mind, and he screwed his eyes tightly shut, as if that could block out the face that seemed to taunt him from his memory. But a last look at the painfully familiar image of the TARDIS in the window, and he knew what he had to do. It was a long shot, but he had to try – after all, what if the woman had been right?
"It's said there's no such thing as coincidence…"
Snow was falling over the rugged landscape of the Ood-Sphere as the TARDIS materialized with its distinctive wheezing groan. Curved stone arches, rocky slopes and towering grey mountains were blanketed in white, and the powdery snow whirled in little eddies around the silent figure of an Ood who watched as the time capsule gradually became solid. Eventually, the door opened and the Doctor emerged, leaning around the door frame as if checking his surroundings. He was clad in his usual brown suit and trenchcoat, but a garland of pink blossoms was strung around his neck and a straw hat covered his unruly hair. Through dark sunglasses, his eyes fell on the Ood.
"Ah! Now…sorry. There you are!" he exclaimed, stepping out into the snow and swinging the door shut behind him. "So, where were we? I was summoned, wasn't I? An Ood in the snow, calling to me." He shoved his hands in his pockets and strolled with a casual air towards the Ood, who remained silent, watching and still waiting.
"Well, I didn't exactly come straight here. Had a bit of fun – you know, travelled about, did this and that…got into trouble – you know me! It was brilliant…" He was rambling, he knew – and the Ood knew it too, that even a Time Lord would resort to such an insignificant way of holding back time if it meant prolonging the inevitable for just this final stretch. Eventually, he reached the Ood and paused, clearing his throat.
"Anyway. What do you want?"
The Ood raised its artificial communication globe in one hand.
"You should not have delayed."
"Last time I was here, you said my song would be ending soon," the Doctor replied. "And I'm in no hurry for that."
"You will come with me," the Ood commanded in its flat voice.
"Hold on – better lock the TARDIS," said the Doctor, rummaging in his pocket and pulling out a key which he pointed behind him. The light on the roof of the TARDIS flashed and it emitted a high-pitched bleeping sound.
"See – like a car!" the Doctor grinned, holding the key up for the Ood to see. "I…I locked it like a car," he repeated, when the Ood made no response. It tilted its head to one side, blinking in disapproval. "That's…funny. No? Little bit?" Impatient, the Ood turned and began walking away, and the Doctor shoved the key back in his pocket with an exasperated sigh. "Blimey – try to make an Ood laugh…"
The snow crunched underfoot as the Doctor followed the Ood through a narrow ravine, still undeterred in his futile attempts at conversation.
"So, how old are you now, Ood Sigma?" he asked lightly, removing his hat for a better view as they rounded a snowdrift and stopped short at the astonishing tableau that met them. Elegant stone buildings filled the valley – tall columns that spiralled upwards to point into the sky, the gaps between them spanned by craggy yet perfectly carved granite arches and bridges.
"Magnificent!" he breathed, beaming with pride. He nudged Ood Sigma with his elbow. "Oh, come on – that is! Splendid! You've achieved all this in how long?"
"One hundred years," Ood Sigma answered expressionlessly, and the Doctor's smile vanished abruptly.
"Then we've got a problem," he said, all trace of joviality gone from his voice. "'Cause all this is way too fast… Not just the city – I mean your ability to call me, reaching all the way back to the 21st century. Something's accelerating your species way beyond normal…"
"And the mind of the Ood is troubled," Ood Sigma added.
"Why? What's happened?"
"Every night, Doctor – every night, we have bad dreams."
The sirens wailed, an undulating cry that chilled the citizens of London to the bone, signalling an approaching air raid. Across the city, lights were extinguished until only the smouldering embers of previously bombed buildings stood out in the darkness. Here and there were momentary glimmers as families hurried across their gardens to the safety of bomb shelters.
Far below ground, the strategists and coordinators of the war effort waited in the Cabinet War Rooms with bated breath. This was the worst part – the waiting. Between air raids, day or night, the frantic pace of activity left no time to dwell on thought. But then the sirens sounded, the lights were extinguished, and there, in the stifling dark, all they could do was think. And wait. Around them, they could make out distant explosions, some closer than others and all sending their hearts leaping into their mouths. At any minute, it could all be over; for all too many people across London, it already was. No matter how complete the blackout, there would always be as many lives extinguished as lights. They could only hope that the beacon of hope remained alight for Britain.
Blanche Breen had removed her headset and placed it on the table, and was nervously gnawing the tips of her fingernails. Feeling a hand touch her arm in the darkness, she flinched with a muffled gasp, and then relaxed as the voice of another young woman – she couldn't make out who – whispered in her ear.
"Squadron 41 is to be deployed in three days. I thought you should know." Blanche's chest tightened with fear, and she found her hands fumbling in the dark to grip the arm of the young woman who had spoken.
"Reg…" she murmured.
"I'm sorry, Blanche." The voice sounded strained, choked – and so young. Blanche felt concern wash over her.
"How are you holding up?" she whispered back.
"I…" The young woman's voice cracked, and she hesitated. "I…oh, Blanche, I can't sleep. There's these dreams – nightmares – and I can't remember them, but…" As she trailed off, Blanche drew in her breath sharply. She, too, had had restless nights, and the fear which ran cold in her veins at the memory was comparable only to the low rumble of the explosions that now rent the night air.
"I've had nightmares too," she confessed. "But we must stay strong."
"Quite right," the gruff voice of Winston Churchill snapped from across the room. "This war affects us all." There was a whirring hum, and Blanche drew back as one of the Ironsides glided past, the end of its eyestalk shining blue through the blackness.
"You've had bad dreams too, sir?" the voice of a young man boldly spoke up. The Ironside's eyestalk swivelled to face Churchill, and Blanche had the unsettling impression – not for the first time – that the machine was listening. Not merely taking in the voice pattern and analyzing for instructions – listening, hearing the words and understanding.
"This war affects us all," Churchill repeated. "But that's what binds us together as humanity. We will stand shoulder to shoulder, and we will rise against all fear until our enemies have been vanquished."