Firstly, things are not as clear-cut as they seem. I wanted be dramatic, but it's by no means as simple as it looks. Still, I am fully allowed to tease.
This is more or less just an introduction, to make things dramatic.
So, anyway, this is the seventh story, sequel to Changes, Light, Darkness, Mind Games, The Call, and Loss. Thanks to all of those who've read through them, and to anyone who's just opened this, you'll need to read the others to understand.
The blue box wheezed, groaned, until the time machine landed, once more without the Doctor's choice. The TARDIS moved of its own volition; taking the Doctor where it was he needed to go.
Time was in danger; the TARDIS could sense it, easily, and was willing to do all she could to save it. The Doctor would also; if only he knew.
The Time Lord yanked a lever on the console down, trying to fly away; an instant later, the TARDIS moved the lever back to where it had been before. Staying put on this unknown world.
The Doctor darted sideways, fingers skating along the scanner, before he groaned; "We need to see Amy!" the Doctor shouted up at the machine; emotions running riot through him, "She's in danger!" There was silence; not even a wheeze. Eventually, the Doctor slumped, speaking again to the machine, calmer; "Alright then, as long as you promise to take me straight to her, next."
A gentle groan; one the Doctor took to be an affirmative. Smiling at that, he turned around, walking to the TARDIS doors and letting them swing open.
Beyond was a truly beautiful world; covered entirely in ice and snow, huge, breathtaking formations, so awe-inspiring it was hard to believe they were purely natural. And there was more than just the visual beauty of frost; there was noise, a great song, cresting, like waves, like the ocean, pouring over him; such beautiful, beautiful music.
Just steps away, the Doctor soon noticed, all-but concealed in the perpetual blizzard, was the Elder of the Ood, garbed in its normal, sanctified white robes, lifting its external brain to the level of its eye. The distinctive, duel-hemisphere cranium gave away the importance of this particular Ood; it moved closer to the Doctor with strange grace.
Ah, Doctor. You have been awaited. The universe needs you; now, perhaps, more than ever. It is screaming; can you not hear it?
The Doctor blinked; the Elder had not spoken a single word aloud; telepathy, once more, the Ood's' voice in his head. No, the voice of more than just the one Elder; so many of the Ood seemed to be partaking of the dialogue, even though he could see no others.
Around them, the Song of the Ood changed; an odd, harsher resonance entering the oft-peaceful melody. The Doctor span around, looking desperately for the source of the corrupted melody; the once-beautiful now tinged with darkness. It seemed to even be reflected in nature itself; the snowflakes whirled past, harsh, cold. More than before, wind whipping past.
It burns; all the universe is burning, every planet, every atom, every person. Everything is burning: except of course, for one thing: there has always been one thing, just one thing that will never burn. The fire, Doctor; fire. It touches the whole of creation, sets all alight: everything burns, save for the one trigger.
The Doctor stumbled, overwhelmed by the sudden cacophony of voices. He took a step forward, away from the open TARDIS, and towards the Elder of the Ood.
The Song grew louder.
Hesitant, the Doctor met the Elder's pale eyes. The expression of the Ood was almost emotionless; it was hard to read its face, the odd squid-like details, yet the eyes… Oh, the eyes. Pained, maybe even afraid, urging the Doctor to listen, perhaps even begging for help.
It was enough for the Time Lord; he stood, straighter now, extending a hand to aid the communication. The Elder tilted its head, observing for a few seconds before, still graceful, lifting its free hand, lightly touching the Time Lord's.
For a moment, there was nothing. Just the odd, leathery feel of its skin, the creases, the inhuman cold, and the vice-like grip. And then the world was ripped away.
After the instant had passed, the Doctor stared forwards, feeling human skin on his hand. A pause; realizing the man holding his hand, the man just in front of him: was himself. Bow tie, tweed jacket, eyes closed and oddly quirky grin, despite the freezing snow. And one more change.
He was staring out the Ood's eyes, into the Ood-Sphere, the endless blizzard, the eternal ice. A psychic link; but was this truly how the aliens saw the world?
Fire. Just as the Elder had stated.
The fire was everywhere, burning; each snowflake embodied by a small flame around it, ghostly; a phantom blaze even sprouting from the lapels of his own jacket. The inferno raged, swirling around his body, a strange combination of burning red and mild indigo, a twister ascending so, so high from tousled hair. And yet he felt nothing.
The ground beneath his feet, softly shining; the burning present even on snow, occasionally cresting, sparks shooting high, waves of fire, undulating like the sea, a rise, a fall. If he tried, he could feel the heat, the flames licking at his heels, the ubiquitous burning.
The sky. Oh the sky. Just visible through the storm of blazing snow; fire streaked across it, no clouds visible, nor the true shade of the atmosphere. Just the indigo/crimson burning, ever-present, rolling so high above, from every speck of snow, from every piece of air.
The Doctor tore his hand away, unable to bear it any longer, in his own body once more as he gasped. The world was aflame, perhaps even more; yet he couldn't see it, couldn't feel it, without the impossibly time-sensitive Ood.
The snow beneath his feet was a cold white, the sky an endless pale of clouds. The Elder Ood before him, neutral, hand still reached out, though there was no imperative to take it.
It burns Doctor; it burns with possibility. It burns for freedom, for what has been stolen, it burns against every death, and burns against the corruption of reality beginning so, so many years ago. The effects stretch all the way to here, Doctor: it has already happened, but has yet to take root: but we feel it, we feel the fire.
The Time Lord hesitated, both awed and afraid by the news. Time had been changed? But to this degree, that was practically unheard of. No Reapers, so changes, corruptions must have been made at changeable points; but nothing known could predict each of those points, and make such a grand difference, enough to create this hell.
"But what," the Doctor began, taking in a breath, more than a little scared of the cause, "What caused this?"
The Elder Ood tilted its head once, lifting its external brain. The Time Lord tensed, ready for the telepathic message; one strangely gentle by comparison to the others, yet bearing more emphasis.
One man's mistake. Just one man. He set the world, the Earth alight, and from there the fire spread: the universe burns with just three things. Darkness, corruption, and one word, one word repeated again and again, until all life has ceased, and even the possibility of it has faded.
The Doctor paused, thinking over the words again in his head. Had that actually answered him? Didn't sound like it.
Still, the Time Lord stayed silent, thoughtful, trying to comprehend the messages from the Ood; they were constrained by what they could tell, hints read from the timeline, and what they could say without damaging time yet further.
"Who?" the Doctor began, frowning, "What man, and what word?" Voice urgent, needing answers, especially to these questions.
The Ood met his eyes, lowering its brain. It was not going to speak; the Doctor could see that all too quickly. Whether its silence was due to a lack of knowledge, or due to unknown rules, the Doctor could not tell.
And the Elder raised its hand once more, slow, smooth, palm facing up; gesturing for the Doctor to take it once more.
Around them, the Song of the Ood burned with yet greater intensity, traces of the once-divine beauty lost, replaced by something angrier, something harsh; maybe even afraid. A choir of voices, in warning, in fear, in urgency; if only he could read the purpose behind them.
The Doctor touched the Ood's hand once more.
The fire was once again visible, burning from peak to peak, violent, raging, through the empty air and crossing vast gaps with terrifying, impossible ease. But this was not the Ood-Sphere; he was being treated to their sights, their prophecies that parted the veil of time and space.
The landscape changed, smooth, yet sudden; no sense of displacement. And they were looking down on a vast lake; a planet of purely water, gradually moving away, viewing the rise and fall of the tides, the very face of the very world morphing. And still it burned, burned with that same spectral flame; yet it was unlike and real fire, it was an inferno of potential, or corrupted time, a perpetual burning; a dimension of time itself aflame.
One more world; trees, ivy, brambles, full of life. Filled still with the spectral fire; and yet, it seemed somehow greater, brighter. The flame reached a crest; a flash of light, white light, directed, and there was real fire. Real flame; a jet of white light, aimed specifically. A creature fell from a distant, tall tree, struck my the white light and now lifeless. The whole forest burned now; burning with real fire, and that real fire ablaze with the spectral inferno of corrupted time.
A horribly familiar silhouette in the firelight.
The Doctor went pale; and yet another world appeared. Another place viewed by the Ood, burning with the same conflagration, the same ethereal blaze from every atom, searing time. A creature; some great titan, a huge, beautiful creature, fell. The white light once more.
The Doctor fell to the floor of the Ood-Sphere, overwhelmed, gasping at the knowledge, the power of the Ood; and on top of that, the things he'd seen… Incredible, and impossible.
The Elder lowered its hands, unwilling to subject the Doctor to any more of their visions; yet its mental voice spoke.
Your companion. You placed her in false time. The time as would happen in the fire. Even now, she burns. Return to her, protect her from the changes to the universe, and hope to cure time. We have seen what comes should the burning spread.
There was no need to touch the Doctor; the Song, now tragic, with an unusually harsh edge, painted the image perfectly.
There was darkness; that was the Song now. An ode to darkness, and to utter emptiness, complete void. Then the instants, moments where the Song was almost painful to behold, warning, the darkness within the darkness. Life, the last life, perhaps even the only life to have ever existed.
The Doctor shuddered at the thought alone, feeling the Elder of the Ood speak once more.
The Word was spoken, and as soon as it sounded, it echoed, and echoed, and echoed, until all that could be heard was just that noise, a haunting, terrible grating noise: the intensity even overwhelming the other senses.
The Doctor soon felt it, the 'Word', the word that thrummed within the spectral fire; he reached out, lightly touched the Elder's hand-
And was overcome. The Ood looked into the eternal inferno, and the word came out of it, spoken so, so often it became embedded in the corrupted timeline, the ethereal burning shouting the Word in so many pitches, so many intensities; yet always, the same, ugly grating.
The noise could be seen, smelt tasted, felt all the way to the bone, making the Doctor fall away from the Elder's hand; eyes wide, face pale. The word still echoed in his head. The inhuman, pitiful grating, even as the Time Lord turned to run to the TARDIS, to fly to Earth, save Amy from the corruption, whatever it may be, and do whatever he could to prevent the fire. And all the while, the Word resounded in his mind.