IMPORTANT: THIS IS AN ALTERNATE ENDING. It diverts from Part Eight of Viera, my main Doctor Who project. If you haven't read that then this won't make a whole lot of sense.
ALLERGEN WARNING: The following product may contain faith, doubt, SPOILERS for Doctor Who, an OC, the occasional monologue, and more than a few nuts.
Rebirth: "If Dante Had Wings" by Kerry Muzzey
ALTERNATE PART EIGHT – WATERS OF MARS
Alteration Three – History Goes Unchanged
She felt like she was drowning, all the thoughts and will that were her own washing away in the flood. Distantly she heard the Doctor cry out, but she couldn't breathe let alone struggle for a reply.
The Flood washed through her body, tearing Viera free from every cell as it changed them. Soon her body would be as foreign as the being inside of it. She was numb in moments, no longer connected to any of her physical senses. She couldn't see, couldn't smell or feel or hear. The Flood began to peel her thoughts free of her mind as well, but there it ran into a snag.
The power channels dug deeply into Viera's spirit and mind could not be corrupted the way her body had been; they were hers and hers alone. Her soul, her thoughts and memories clung to them, protected in some part from the Flood's influence. She was helpless still, but she could not be banished completely.
Time meant nothing in the parody of existence that was all that remained to Viera. There was no pain, no change, just survival. Her thoughts were fragmented, too dazed to put words to anything. She had no room for fear or panic within her. She simply was.
Then there was light. And just like that all her senses returned.
Viera tried to breathe and panicked when water gurgled through her chest instead. She struggled, but the harder she fought the more frightening her helplessness was. The more she struggled the more she could feel something fighting back. A moan trickled from a throat not entirely under her control.
"Calm down," the Doctor's familiar voice ordered. Her eyes rolled wildly as she tried to look for him without proper motor control. She couldn't manage any sort of coordination with half the cells in her body fighting against her. Still, she managed to get a fix on worried brown eyes and stay there. "Don't try to breathe. Just relax. Let your body take care of itself." He grimaced slightly, knowing his words weren't as comforting as he'd have liked them to be. "You don't need oxygen the way you used to."
Viera forced herself to still, as though she were holding her breath. There was no sense of straining or dizziness, though full minutes passed without an attempt to breathe. He was right. She really didn't need to.
Her muscles kept twitching, still getting mixed signals from her brain. She could feel the other presence if she tried. It was… primal. There was intelligence there, quiet whispers in the back of her mind that she couldn't yet translate, but it was instinct that overrode everything. It wasn't entirely foreign, not anymore. It was twined within her spirit, its instincts tainting hers, though her thoughts remained her own aside from the whispers. Calm wasn't as hard to reach as perhaps it should have been.
Frankly Viera felt a little drugged, almost separated from her emotions, distant from the situation now that she'd stopped panicking. She wondered if the Doctor had sedated her or whether she'd always feel that way.
Somehow she knew already that it could not be undone.
"How are you feeling?" the Doctor asked, searching her expression. She simply looked back at him, part of her mind processing too slowly while the other part was already considering whether or not she could speak as she was. Strain deepened the lines around the Doctor's eyes. "Do you remember me? Viera?"
Maggie had spoken. She should be able to as well. She had to try. She was worrying him. Viera tried to take a breath and gurgled. She had to fight back panic again. Alright. Bad idea. Try again. She attempted to let go of what she knew about talking and just let it happen.
"Yes," she managed a moment later.
The Doctor's expression lightened a little with hope. "Do you remember what happened?"
She remembered fear. It had been quite different than the instinctual panic she felt if she tried and failed to breathe. She remembered feeling horrified and scared before it had all been washed away. The emotions had been so strong and vibrant, felt to the depths of her soul. She wasn't sure anything could reach that far within her any longer. It all felt sort of… distant.
"Infected," Viera answered, slowly getting the hang of speech through water-logged vocal chords. Infected makes it sound like some sort of disease. It's not though. Not quite. Her nose wrinkled slightly as she sought a more accurate term. "Changed."
"Yes," he sighed. He kept studying her like he was looking for signs of… Well, of something. She wasn't entirely sure. He looked troubled though, and she wished he didn't. "I'm sorry. I thought I'd have more time. You can't infect anyone else. I could manage that much, but I can't- I can't fix this."
She didn't really need fixing. Viera didn't react beyond blinking and the Doctor looked more upset, something fracturing beneath his steady calm.
That bothered her. It was like an itch beneath her skin that demanded attention. A frown pulled at her lips and she reached a surprisingly dry palm up to rest against his cheek. He leaned into the touch, catching her hand in one of his.
"I'm sorry," he repeated.
"I'm not," Viera offered. That only seemed to hurt him, which wasn't at all her intention. She tilted her head to get a better look at him. "I don't want you to be sad."
He took a deep breath and nodded, attempting a smile. She could see through it easily, but she pretended she couldn't. Her muscles shook with faint tremors as she sat up and the whispers grew louder in the back of Viera's mind. She paused a moment to listen. While she still couldn't understand their meanings, the whispers calmed as soon as she paid them a bit of attention.
"I'm different, not dead," Viera stated when she could focus on the world outside of her mind again. She flexed her fingers, ignoring the faint, foreign sense of rage that flickered in the depths of her spirit at the sight of dry skin. She was glad she couldn't infect anyone else. She knew the anger was from the remnants of the Flood that remained.
She knew herself, her thoughts, her beliefs. The desire to cause harm was not her and she would not entertain that instinct or the emotions that came with it. As long as she kept her mind clear, Viera would never lose herself to the parasite. She was quite alright with what she'd become. She didn't like the near-mourning she saw in the Doctor's eyes, but he was accustomed to change. He'd get used to the differences in her as well.
Viera wondered absently whether he ever changed so much between regenerations.
"Am I well enough to travel?" she asked. It wasn't quite hope or excitement that prompted the question, but she did want to explore. Viera was pleased to find that her voice grew less monotone the more she used it.
"I think so, yes," the Doctor replied. He hesitated a moment before offering his hand, as though he wasn't sure whether she'd take it.
Viera wrapped her fingers around his without a pause. That was one instinct she had no desire to fight.
His smile was more real the second time around.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I hope that's not too confusing. It makes sense in my head, but that doesn't always mean anything. For clarification: Everyone else on Mars died. Viera still looks mostly human and she's not leaking water the way the others did. She is, however, changed irrevocably mentally and emotionally. She still reacts according to her morals, but she won't ever feel things the way she once did. The fierce empathy and compassion that once so defined her are faded; it's all sort of distant and logic-based to her now.
This makes me sad (though I find Viera interesting this way; she'd be braver this way, and have to struggle with the Flood's influence from time to time. I think she'd end up stronger but less innocent). Therefore this is only a what-might-have-been and I'm going to go back to writing the real Viera.