Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A World Without Angels – The Complete Version

As promised, here is a complete version of the story, so if you'd rather read it all through in one go, now you can!
A World Without Angels - The Complete Version

    "Night's coming. The sun's gone, no clouds. Look at the stars, out in force tonight. But you're not here anymore. No one but me." He looked out at the sky with his one good eye, a look of sorrow crossing his face, mirroring the thoughts running through his mind at that moment. "I should have got in the way, should have saved you. At least I would have lived. Probably."
    He turned where he stood, away from the view out across the sea back in to a small pile of rocks marking what seemed to be a grave. The best he could do. A tear trickled down his cheek as he knelt to the ground, touching it with reverence. He barely held back further tears as he spoke.     "Goodbye, Amy Pond."


12 Hours Earlier
    Everything was calm. All around the sea was still, the wind a gentle breeze. The storm had passed, the danger disappearing into a crack in time, forgotten. The journey out of the ship had been simplicity itself comparing to surviving amongst killers who almost defied logic.
    River stood, watching the Doctor comfort Amy, reassuring her that everything was fine now. River knew that no matter how calm things seemed there was always something that could potentially go wrong; especially if the Doctor was involved. She looked down at her wrists, trapped once more within the bonds of confinement. It could be freedom this time, she knew that. Yet, since the Angels had disappeared without a trace, would anyone know what had happened? Would they assume she had crashed the ship in an attempt to escape? Probably not, but she could never be sure.
    It was then that the plan began to formulate in her mind. He'd forgive her – he always had. And she'd wouldn't strand him here indefinitely – she couldn't; her own past depended on him. She watched in her periphery as he approached her, all the while thinking of the exact moment it had to be done.
    She glanced at him, then continued to look straight ahead. "You...me..." she raised her arms and looked to him, "handcuffs...must it always end this way?" She smiled playfully at him, noticing the smile on his own face.
    He leaned in. "What now?" He moved in front of River, his back to her momentarily.
    "Prison ship's in orbit. They'll beam me up any second. Which is why I've got to do this now." She reached forward, hands still bound, and plucked the sonic screwdriver from his pocket. Before he could object, she deftly released the catches on the handcuffs, placed them on the Doctor, and watched as he and the guard assigned to escort her were teleported away.   
    As he disappeared, she couldn't tell if it was a look of annoyance or amusement on his face. "Sorry sweetie, but I'll be back before you know it. And so will you."
    Whether he heard or not she wasn't sure, but the Doctor's departing cry of "Amy!" immediately alerted his companion to the situation.
    River was already running, Amy trying her best to keep up but falling behind. The situation on the Byzantium had drained her both mentally and physically, and she had little energy left. She watched helplessly as the older woman reached the TARDIS, clicking her fingers to open the doors.
    "River, wait! What are you doing?"
    River turned in the doorway. "Don't worry. Everything will be fine. At the moment there's something very wrong with the Doctor's timeline, and since I know he won't do anything about it, I have to."
    Amy was about to respond, but didn't get a chance before River continued. "And before you say you'll come, I can't let you. I can't tell you either, but you'll have to trust me." Amy watched as River closed the door and the TARDIS dematerialised soundlessly.
    "What choice have I got?" she said to herself, the solitary figure on the now deserted beach.


    The Doctor whirled around, dizzied by the effects of the teleportation device. "No, no, no, no, no, NO! Where am I, who are you and where is Amy? And River? And...and...." He tapped the side of his head, thinking. "It'll come to me, give it a minute. The old synapses tend to get a bit scrambled when...my TARDIS! See, told you it'd come to me. The old synapses tend to..." He paused. "Did I just say that?"
    The cleric next to the Doctor looked slightly puzzled. "Say what sir?"
    The Doctor waved a hand around to dismiss the issue. "That's not the point. The point is why am I here? I'm presuming you meant to pick up Doctor Song, and if I'm not mistaken last time I looked I wasn't female. Unless I've regenerated again. Oh no, surely not. No, wait," his hand reached up to his face. "Ah, there it is, nice prominent chin. Still me!" He whirled around. "No, sorry. Distracted again, but more importantly I need to get back down to that planet. I need to get Amy away from there and that needs to happen now. So, zap me back down there and we'll forget all about it."
    The Doctor gave a short smile at the cleric, proffering his bound wrists. Yet, the cleric seemed unwilling to move, expressionless, simply staring at the Doctor. The Doctor waved his hands as best he could in front of the cleric's face, but no movement was forthcoming. He walked towards him, all around and prodded the man hard in the chest.
    Still no reaction.
    "Now, that is very interesting. And a little bit scary. Not a stasis field, I'd feel it. Some kind of time bubble? Perhaps, but why here? Why now? Is it some kind of residue from the crack or something far worse in fact and..." He stopped, suddenly realising that no one was there to listen. "This, Amy Pond, is why I need you around. If I start talking to myself I'm going to start going a little bit cuckoo and me plus bonkers isn't a good combination, so first things first. How do I get off this ship?"
    From nowhere, yet all around, came the sound of laughter. Not mocking or harsh, but a familiar gentle chuckle that the Doctor recognised all too well. The Doctor turned, and the source became readily apparent.
    In a wall was set a small screen on which was the face of an old man. Receding white hair and an aristocratic brow almost looked down at him, or would have had the screen been placed higher.        
    "So my boy, you've ended up here! Not where you should be, not where you should be at all!"
    The Doctor looked at himself, remembering how young he'd once been. "Now anytime I see me there's always some terrible danger so you showing up here is really very not good. Where are you broadcasting from?" He paused. "That's assuming you're not a recording, but then the time fluctuation here would seem to indicate that that's not possible, so..."
    The other Doctor coughed. "When you've quite finished! Where I am is of little importance at the present, but it'll all become clear in time. Your friend here has a message for me...you...me. It's all very confusing!"
    The Doctor raised his hands. "Yes, and I'm still in handcuffs! Tied up, stuck on a ship circling a planet that up until a couple of hours ago was full of rampaging statues, and now trapped in the middle of some time distortion! How is this getting any better any time soon?"
    He'd been unaware of the change on the screen, his younger self moving aside to reveal another figure. The one who'd seemingly trapped him in this situation.
    "Sorry sweetie! But trust me, there's a very good reason that I did what I did. Hold still." She pointed the sonic screwdriver – his sonic screwdriver – at the screen. Not wanting to question exactly how it had happened but grateful all the same, the Doctor nodded his thanks as the cuffs fell away from his wrists.
    "River! Where exactly are you? I thought this was your way off Alfava Metraxis, and now you're, what, on the other side of the galaxy?"
    She smiled at him, that same smile that seemed to somehow pierce through any hostility he could possibly have towards her. "Oh, much further than that. Can't say any more now though..."
    He waved his hands in irritation. "Yes, spoilers, I know. But why are you contacting me? You've trapped me up here for a reason."
    "So that I could send you this message of course." Her face turned from playful to serious in the blink of an eye. "When the time bubble bursts you'll have seconds to use the teleport to get back to the planet. I can tell you two things and two things only."
    The Doctor gesticulated. "Well hurry it up then. I know what these things are like! Get. To. The. Point."
    River raised an eyebrow. "Alright, keep you bow tie on! So, first of all remember that it will get better, but before it does it's going to get worse. A lot worse."
    "Right, worse then better. Ok, I can do that. What else?"
    River turned, looking behind her. "They're coming. But it's imperative that you stop them, make sure you count..."   
    With no warning at all, she seemed to disappear. Her and the other Doctor. No one was on the other end of the communication link, just a background of some kind of corridor. Yet in the background the Doctor was sure he could see...He cut the link quickly, dashed over to the still static cleric.
    Just managing to wrestle the teleport controls from the man's grasp, the Doctor closed his eyes and pressed a button.
    And vanished.


    Amy looked around at the deserted beach. No Doctor. No TARDIS. No River. She picked up a stone, skimming it across the water like she had as a child. Then another, and another, though the novelty had worn off by the time number four was picked ready for throwing. She dropped it back to the ground, cursing under her breath.   
    Looking up at the sky she noticed darkness beginning to creep into daylight. "C'mon Doctor! If you're not back here on the count of 5 then..." She stopped, realising that there was nothing she could say that would have any resonance, any real worth.
    She kicked the stones under her feet, holding back the urge to cry. All that she'd been through and now she was here, deserted on some alien world while the Doctor and his 'wife' were off on some jaunt.   
    It was then that she saw it, above her head. Fire streaking, setting the heavens ablaze. Amy wondered if it could be a meteorite or a comet, but the rate and shape of its descent didn't ring true with that theory. She'd not seen enough of them to be certain, but she was fairly sure it was some kind of spacecraft.
    "Whoever it is, they're going to need help, and since I'm all ALONE," she looked to where the Doctor had been minutes ago, "I'll have to do it by myself." She just stopped short of imitating the Doctor's "Come along Pond!" realising that that way lay a step closer to madness.   
    The encroaching darkness made it hard to find a safe path to where the ship was headed, as did the sulphurous air. Suddenly, and with an almighty noise, it made its presence on the planet felt, green-tinged smoke billowing up from where it had crashed.
    Amy pressed on, eager to arrive at the site and assist in any way she could. If she'd learnt anything in her short time travelling with the Doctor it was that wherever she went there was always someone in need of help. It didn't concern her that she could be walking into danger; she had no qualms whatsoever. Was she too trusting? She certainly wasn't naive. All those years waiting for him saw to that.
    As she drew nearer to the crashed ship the smoke became thicker, clogging her lungs, forcing her to use the sleeve of her top to try to breathe through. She shielded her eyes as best she could, the fumes stinging her eyes causing tears to fall in an attempt to clear the dust from them.
    The wreckage was becoming clearer, though Amy wasn't sure exactly what it was the remains of. It looked like...but it couldn't have been...could it? She shook her head, and the image before her eyes seemed to change, as if she'd not really seen the true form of the craft. Now it looked nothing like she'd ever seen before; battered metal, the exact shape of which she couldn't discern through the flames. She could see that a door appeared to open...no, not a door. It seemed that the craft had been ripped open upon impact, the metal pulled apart like a tin of sardines.
    "Hello!" Amy shouted in the hole. "Is anyone alive in there?" Gingerly, she inched further forward, peering into the blackness of the ship. For a second, she swore she saw the image of a woman, slightly older than herself with dark hair, reaching out to her. In a moment she was gone.
    "Ghosts now Pond? C'mon, pull yourself together girl!" She attempted to reassure herself, but while outwardly she may have appeared her usual fiery self, inside she was scared. Her mind raced back to the Doctor, to him vanishing, to the TARDIS. None of these memories were of much comfort; she was still alone, with no apparent way off this planet. Then she thought of him, of Rory, and she smiled. Her breathing calmed, her resolve strengthened. Under her breath she muttered, "I'll coming back for you Rory Williams. We've got ourselves a wedding to have!" With that, she stepped into the darkness.


    The Doctor pivoted on one foot, spinning three hundred and sixty degrees. "...and this isn't Alfava Metraxis. So where is it? Can't trust this nasty 51st Century technology, full and bugs and glitches and...hello..." He stared at the clock on the wall. "Now that is not a piece of 51st Century technology, rather," he walked over to it, drawing in a deep breath, "early 21st century. So either someone is rather fond of antiques or somehow that time bubble has sent me back in time. Marvellous!"   
    A roaring fire was ablaze in a rather ornate looking hearth, two plush armchairs adjacent to it. From one of the chairs rose a man who stared at the Doctor for a full minute, the Doctor returning the gaze, a somewhat puzzled look on his face. The man then stepped forward, offering a hand in greeting.
    "Apologies, Doctor, but I had to be sure it was you."
    The Doctor took his hand and shook it a little uncertainly. "Riiiiight. So, you know me, but I have no idea who you are, what you are, where I am, when I am – well, a little bit on that one, early 21st century?" The man shook his head. "In that case I'm completely at a loss. So, let's start at the beginning and work from there."
    The man smiled. "Doctor, there are far more pressing matters than the trivialities of who, where and when."
    The Doctor seemed affronted. "Well I rather like those 'trivialities'. I need to get my bearings, find out what's going on. It may not be important to you, but it is to me. So," the Doctor took a seat in the other armchair, "explain."
    The man stood up to his full height. "I can do better than that Doctor, I can show you. Observe." The man pointed to the clock the Doctor had been inspecting, the fascia now replaced with what appeared to be a small screen. The Doctor peering intently at it, recognising the figure of Amy immediately. She seemed to be in a hurry, following a trail of dense black smoke that concealed her exact movements.
    "Doctor, Miss Pond needs to be stopped. If she enters that ship..."
    The Doctor turned away from the screen to stare expectantly at his companion in the room. "Yes? What if she enters that ship? What if she goes inside in an attempt to help any fallen or wounded?" And then he understood. "But how can you know what'll happen? You'd need some kind of prognostication device, some way to navigate the timelines to see all possible outcomes and...that's exactly what you've got, isn't it?"
    The man nodded slowly, no sense of victory or pleasure in his action. Before he or the Doctor could speak came the noise. Soft at first, but building gradually. It came from the screen, like a heartbeat only harsher, more metallic.
    The Doctor whirled round in horror. "No, no, not there, not now." He grabbed the man by the shoulders. "With all this power you have, you must be able to get me back there and you need to do it now. Amy Pond is about to walk into an ambush."
    The man put a hand out to silence any further words from the Time Lord's lips. "Of course I can, but you see you may not get there in time. It's a calculated risk Doctor, and there are those who will attempt to prevent it."
    "Haha! They've got no chance! I'm the Oncoming Storm; who's going to get in the way of that?"
    The man shook his head, reached over the Doctor and pressed a button set into the arm of his chair. "For your sake and for hers, I hope no one will. But be warned, this might not have a happy ending."
    The Doctor smiled. "Oh it will, and I'll make sure of that. Any trolls to be vanquished, I'm your m...." And with that he disappeared.
    The man looked wistfully at the space the other had occupied. "Good luck Doctor, the universe is counting on you."
    River darted around the console with indecent speed, trying desperately to ensure that she was on the right course. The note she'd found in her pocket whilst they'd been in the wreckage of the Byzantium shouldn't have surprised her, but did. It was his handwriting, undoubtedly, but not him, not this Doctor. She wasn't sure when or how it had appeared there. Was it merely some temporal manifestation? Would it cease to be once she'd done what she needed to? At present, she wasn't certain, but all she knew was that she had to follow these coordinates.
    There was a name listed with them, not one that she'd seen before. She'd heard it, one of those words that had passed down through time, almost becoming legendary. She remembered the Pandorica, though her memories of that were starting to become confused. She shook her head, remembering what had occurred – later for this Doctor, but already in her past. How he'd saved the universe once again; how she'd nearly been stuck forever in the very ship she was now piloting to ensure that that very event still took place.
    She looked down at the paper once again. Was it his writing? She was certain at first, but now...it certainly looked familiar. She'd seen his script a thousand times, she knew the games he liked to play with words. Yet this, this was different. The location in coordinates she didn't understand, but the ship seemed to. The flight was going smoothly, and she'd had time to change back into the elegant black number she'd been wearing when she'd met him this time.
    It hadn't taken her mind off the note for long though, and she stood, staring at it, at that word. Yet, just as the Doctor hadn't believed in the Pandorica, River had never thought of this as anything real. It was a myth, nothing more.
    The TARDIS began to land as silently as it had left Alfava Metraxis. River checked the environment outside; air was breathable, but it was artificial. She checked the scanner, unsurprised to find the enclosed environs of a teleport station.
    She opened the doors, stepping out elegantly into the abandoned metallic shell of what once had been a thriving enterprise. The power was evidently limited to life support and, by the looks of it, one teleport booth.
    Wasting no time, River stepped into the cubicle, punching in the word from the paper. The coordinates appeared, the booth powering up immediately. Seconds later River was gone, the last of the power draining out of the station though momentarily leaving her destination illuminated on the display.


    The lighting in the craft was minimal. Amy tentatively moved further into it, scanning around for any sign of familiarity. There was an ominous noise all around her, rather feint now though perhaps once stronger and louder. It sounded to Amy like a mirroring of her own beating heart, steadily thumping as she ventured into the unknown.
    As she looked around she noticed three immobile figures, the shapes of which were all too familiar. It seemed like only days ago – had it been longer? She wasn't entirely sure – that she'd first seen them.
    She kicked one experimentally. No movement. "Ha! Beaten already Dalek! From what the Doctor said you were supposed to be the most feared beings in....ever. And look at you!" Despite her rather bravura performance, she was terrified inside. She knew not to under-estimate anything she came across in her travels with the Doctor, and this was no exception.
    She walked around the other apparently dormant creatures – three in total – eyeing them warily. As she passed each one, she rapped on the upper part of the casing, fully expecting at least one of them to move or speak. She circled them, racking her brains as to why they hadn't moved or even flinched.
    "Something is definitely not right here." She paused. "What would the Doctor do?" Amy saw a heavy looking something on the floor, and with all her might hefted it up and swung it at the nearest Dalek. "C'mon, move! I know you're not dead!" She swung again and again, hitting the casing repeatedly. Still no reaction. "Ok maybe, just maybe, I'm wrong and you all died in this crash. But why here? Why now?" She used her foot to kick at a Dalek, immediately regretting it. Luckily, no one was around to hear the language that followed.
    Amy, nursing a bruised foot, slowly made her way to the control panel at the front of the ship. As far as she could discern, half of the instrumentation had been burned out in the crash, the rest indecipherable to her without the aid of the TARDIS. There was little light coming from any of the sections, save for one half-sphere shaped protuberance. In her mind she could see why it was shaped as such, allowing the Daleks the ability to 'touch' the control, to manipulate whatever system of the ship that it pertained to. Even though she knew deep down that she shouldn't, she felt inexorably drawn to it, as if it were reaching into her mind, willing her to place her hand on it. She shook her head to be free of the force, trying to think of the Doctor, Rory, River, anyone or anything to focus her thoughts elsewhere. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, the object was still in front of her, and her hand was moving ever closer to it.
    Amy closed her eyes, desperately seeking to avoid touching that part of the ship. She had no idea what it would do, but it didn't feel in anyway safe or right or good. Opening her eyes, she could see that her hand was now hovering over it, her other arm gripping onto it, trying to pull it away. She knew that if she weren't so frightened of what might happen she'd laugh at the ridiculousness of the scene unfolding before her.
    Then, it happened. Her hand touched the control, fingers splayed around it. She stayed perfectly still, expecting the Daleks to move, yet they did not. The feeling that had forced her to reach out to the control in the first place was an overwhelming sensation throughout her body now, and her thoughts were shifting in perspective. Rory...that name meant something, but what was it? As hard as she tried, she could no longer focus on him, even picture his face.
    River Song...a name to be feared. Was that right? Surely not, they'd just been...what? No, it was fading, the memory dissipating the faster she tried to recall it. And then there was the Doctor. With his...striped suit...no, that wasn't right, his...leather jacket and cropped hair and...no, no, that wasn't it...wavy hair, velvet coat....question mark umbrella...yellow trousers...fair hair....and....and....
    Amy's mind fought harder, attempting to remember him, the Doctor. She kept trying to bring him back in front of her, to imagine the picture of him that had been in her mind mere moments before...yet it wouldn't come.
    It was then that it happened, the image now clear. Not the actual visual likeness of the man, more what he represented. Burning deep into her brain were words that Amy had not known before, words that she had no reason to believe would ever relate to him. Yet, her perception was altered, memories shifted, changed, twisted to fit a new morality.
    The Oncoming Storm. The Enemy. He must be stopped. He must be EX-TER-MIN-ATED.

    The room was no different, save for the absence of the Doctor. The man stoked the fire, the embers floating in the feint breeze from the flue. In an adjacent chair to his own sat the other figure, the one the Doctor hadn't noticed before his abrupt departure. He was sat, a newspaper wide open, shielding himself from the view of any who glanced in his direction. It was no accident that he wasn't seen; that was exactly how he'd wanted it to be.
    The man stared across at him, waiting for the newspaper to lower, for his companion to speak about the events that he'd helped set in motion, but nothing was forthcoming. The screen that the Doctor had been watching was now shimmering, no fixed image visible.
    He thought about attempting a dialogue with the other, but thought better of it. He moved to the screen in an effort to resolve the problem, ready to pull wires or even use physical force should it be necessary.
    "It's not broken. The timelines are in flux. Until the Doctor does something you won't get any clear picture." The newspaper remained where it was, but the voice behind it was very clear; a trace of an accent possibly. "That's assuming he ended up in the right place. I have a feeling that things aren't as clear cut as they could be." The other paused. "And I should know."
    The man took a moment before responding. "And...and why is that?"
    The other rose, and pulled a small gun-like device from an inside pocket. "If I told you, I'd have to kill you." It was the smile on his face that let the man know that he wasn't joking. That and the searing heat that burned into his body as the end of the weapon glowed red.

    River stared at the scanner screen, watching the image of the Mandrasta Archive fade as it was consumed by the black hole where it had been anchored. Flicking a switch, the scanner turned off, and River turned to her companion, the Barbara she'd rescued from the Archive, the one who didn't belong in the Doctor's universe. Not the Doctor's universe as it was, as it should be. Yet River was uncertain if they had passed through the wormhole or not, whether this was indeed this other Barbara's place of origin.
    "So, he's started it. Me, here, this!" River spun around on the spot. "This isn't even his TARDIS, not really."
    Barbara sighed. "Yes, he stole it. That's exactly why I had no qualms about taking it in the first place."
    River shook her head, fixing her eyes on her companion. "You don't understand. This isn't a TARDIS. At all. It's what was out there. The Archive."
    Barbara looked confused. "So, the Archive was this ship – is this ship?"
    River looked around at the room around her."I'm not sure. The other TARDIS had a bigger control room, brighter. This one is more...white. I don't know where this version came from. It could be the genuine article..." There was doubt in even her mind, but it all made a sort of sense. Or did it? Her memories felt hazy, as if she wasn't sure exactly what had happened and what was false.
    Without looking at Barbara, she picked up her diary hoping that the written word would provide some more concrete answers to reinforce what she knew – or at least thought she knew – to be the true version of events. She opened it to the last entry, scanning the notes she'd made. She flicked back to the pages on the Bone Meadows – all still intact as they had been. Yet, the more she looked, the words seemed to shimmer on the page; not actually changing, but threatening to, the menace evident in their mere appearance. She shut it defiantly and tossed it to one side of the console room.
    "We've got to find the Doctor." She pulled levers, pressed buttons, all to Barbara's eyes in an increasingly haphazard fashion.
    "We did find him, he was on the Archive!" Barbara said incredulously.
    "Not that one! Too early – or is it late? No, he didn't recognise me, but then his timeline may have been altered." River continued manipulating seemingly random controls, then threw a lever with a flourish and began to explain before Barbara had a chance to ask the inevitable. "He changes. His body dies and he changes. His appearance, his personality, but still the same man. Trouble is, I don't know which one we're looking for." She pulled a small device from her pocket and inserted it into the console. The scanner screen lit up with a line and several blinking dots. "In the other ship, the one I had to leave behind to get to the Archive..." She waved a hand dismissively at Barbara. "I know, it's more complicated than even I'm used to!" She pointed back to the screen. "These dots here represent the Doctor in his different incarnations. I followed the trail back to the Archive with a little help from a note I found."
    Barbara had to interrupt at this juncture, the tales that River was telling sending her head spinning in bewilderment. "So how many of these 'TARDISes' are there? And how many Doctors? Do they have one each?"
    "No, just one TARDIS! And I don't know how many there are of him, but so far I've found 11 different traces."
    Suddenly around them boomed a loud dull clanging noise, an ominous sound that River had heard before and Barbara knew was not a signal of anything joyful occurring.
    "The cloister bell." She added before interruption, "The ship's in imminent danger."
    River flicked on the scanner screen. They were still hovering where they'd observed the 'destruction' of the Archive and the black hole that contained it. No force of gravity seemed to be drawing them in, but with a sudden jolt, the ship lurched wildly. An unexpected colossal sound, the impact of another craft on the ship, echoed around them, merging with the tolling of the bell. The central column of the ship began a stuttered rise and fall, smoke pouring from various fissures around the console.
    "Is there anything we can do? Whatever hit us, it's almost as if it's killed the ship!"
    River tried hitting various controls, attempting to perform some kind of miracle recovery of the TARDIS, but to no avail. "The best thing we can do," she yelled over the increasingly loud noise of the bell, "is to hold on tight. We're going to crash!"
    Both women held on tight to the console as it began to fade in and out of reality and simultaneously began to plummet to the planet below.
    A planet that seemed to be a magnet for ships, two having crashed there in recent time. First the Byzantium, then the ship that had forced the TARDIS into this position, and now the Doctor's craft itself.
    River didn't know it, but she was plunging headlong back to Alfava Metraxis.

    Amy's mind was torn. At the forefront now was this new knowledge, all the words of the legends of the Doctor, that he needed to be destroyed; but somewhere, at the back of her mind, she remembered him as he was. The Raggedy Doctor, the one she'd waited 14 years to come back. Yet, she couldn't differentiate which was true, the real man she'd met. It surely was this destroyer of worlds, he who must be stopped under any circumstances.
    She wasn't aware of what was taking place around her. Her hand still affixed to the control, though she was lying down now, automated systems making her as comfortable as possible for the procedure.
    She wasn't aware of being anaesthetised, her body numb and unresponsive to the pain that it would shortly undergo.
    She wasn't aware of the small tools that did their job, extracting genetic material from her and injecting it with nutrients and chemicals, forcing it to grow at an unnaturally fast rate.
    She wasn't aware of these 'things' being placed into the casings of the dead crew of the ship, as they stretched and awoke in their new surroundings, mutated from her own flesh and given the knowledge that she possessed of the man she travelled with, whose name was becoming a ghost in her mind.
    And she wasn't aware as the operation finished and the cables were attached to her, wiring her into the ship so that it 'lived'.
    The last fleeting word that fell from her mind before it was no longer her own – 'Rory'.
    The creatures she had given birth to saluted their 'mother' with gun-sticks and eyestalks, and saw – without recognising what it was – a single tear drop fall from her eye before they moved out of the ship, intent on revenge once more.


    The Doctor landed with a thump on the rocks. "Ow! Nothing like a nice soft landing and that was nothing like a nice soft landing. Now am I in the right place this time?" He licked one of the rocks, and moved his tongue around his mouth in an attempt to see if this was indeed the same location. "I think he cracked it, good old whoever he was ...and I have got to stop doing that!" He attempted to spit out the taste of the rock, wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket. "So, time's passed, a few hours by the look of it. TARDIS is still not back and...where is Amy?" He looked around the immediate area calling "Pond!" every few seconds.
    He started to walk away from where he'd landed. He wasn't far from the wreck of the Byzantium and could still see the remains of the ship slowly burning amongst the city of the dead they'd traversed mere hours before. Yet there seemed to be a lot of smoke, more than he'd have thought possible from the wreck of just one star-liner. He ventured towards it, picking up his pace as he moved nearer.
    The Byzantium was only slightly smouldering now, yet some distance away from it there were more clouds of smoke. Looking at the ground, the Doctor made out more debris, detritus which certainly didn't belong to the star-liner. He walked further towards it, reaching into his pocket for his sonic screwdriver only to remember that River had taken it from him when she'd left him stranded here in the first place.
    He moved more cautiously, not having his trusty tool to fall back on this time. Something didn't feel right. He wasn't sure exactly what it was that was making him feel so uneasy, but he knew that unusually for him he wasn't going to step in unprepared. It served him well as a familiar silhouette appeared in front of him, gun-arm raised and firing indiscriminately.   
    The Doctor moved back, looking for cover of any kind. A Dalek firing wildly was a lot more dangerous than a Dalek simply firing in his direction, he reasoned. He found a narrow crevice between two rocks and stared amazed as two more Daleks appeared behind the first, though these were scanning, probing the air for any sign of life, the Doctor assumed. He watched as they moved further out and as they did so, he crept in the direction they had come from, presumably from whatever had been throwing up the smoke.
    He saw the craft in front of him, obviously heavily damaged from the impact on the hard terrain. Up close the smoke wasn't as dense as it had appeared and the vessel was not as damaged as the amount of debris had suggested. "You've been busy little Daleks, repairing already, but what else have you been up to?" The Doctor could see light coming from the ship and hear the throbbing of an automated heartbeat that signified it was definitely of Dalek origin.
    Gingerly he moved towards it, checking around to ensure that he wasn't going to be shot in the back. He certainly wouldn't put it past them, and he knew never to underestimate Daleks. The throbbing became louder as he moved into the craft, and the lighting seemed to respond to his presence. It wasn't a sizeable vessel and certainly hadn't utilised the dimensionally transcendental technology that they had embraced in their more recent efforts. This was something older yet, the Doctor suspected, no less deadly.
    He made his way towards the flight deck of the ship, and saw a high-backed chair of sorts looking like it had been rather hastily cobbled together from parts of the wreckage, facing the controls. There was an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach as he approached it. He knew that no other humanoid life forms had been present on Alfava Metraxis, and the Daleks would only construct something to accommodate one if they had something to gain from doing so. His footsteps slowed as he could see the pale skin of an arm with wires protruding from it and connected to the control bank. He didn't want to look, but he forced himself to.   
    "Oh Amy, Amy, what have they done to you?" His voice was full of sadness, though anger bubbled close to the surface. He looked despondently at the wires and connections between his companion and the ship. He could see where the Daleks had taken parts of her to rebirth themselves, a hasty 'repair' job on Amy yielding several scars across her arms and legs. One arm seemed to be stuck to the control nodule that Amy had first touched when she entered the ship, the Doctor unable or unwilling to move it.
    Without warning Amy's eyes widened, and from her throat came an approximation of a Dalek voice. "AL-ERT! THE DOC-TOR IS HERE! ALL U-NITS RE-GROUP AND EX-TER-MIN-ATE!"
    The Doctor turned, his sadness giving way to the rising anger within him as the three Daleks he'd seen earlier glided into the ship. His voice remained calm as he spoke, though internally the Doctor wanted to destroy all of them yet knew this was no solution. "Whatever you've done to Amy you're going to reverse it. You going to do it now and I...well I might let you live." He paused. "No, on second thoughts that's not going to happen, and I'll tell you exactly why that's not going to happen and that is because..."
    "CEASE YOUR WORDS. WE HAVE NO FEAR OF THE DOC-TOR. HE HAS NOTH-ING TO USE AG-AIN-ST US. WE WILL EX-TER-MIN-ATE HIM." The lead Dalek aimed its gun-arm at the Doctor who for the first time in a long time was completely powerless. No plan, no way out.
    The Dalek fired, but as it did so it ricocheted from some invisible force onto the flight computer. Amy jolted in her seat and slumped forward over the controls. Another Dalek fired, yet this time the blast glanced the Doctor as he turned to investigate the damage the first had done. Luckily for him it only just reached, but it was where it hit that was the problem. The Doctor fell to the ground, clutching his right eye. He stood up quickly, knowing he would be killed if he didn't keep moving. As he blinked he realised he'd been blinded in that eye, though the fact that he was still alive was scant comfort to him now.
    Another shot, though the invisible barrier seemed to ricochet it again around the ship. Then another and another, all being repelled by some force. The Doctor looked with his good eye to see the familiar form of the TARDIS attempting to solidify in front of him. In and out of reality, he could see the door open and heard a familiar voice shout, "I'm going to make it all right. You're not going to like it, but I have to alter your timeline. This isn't how it was meant to be!"
    The Doctor was on the floor, confused, nursing his eye and watching as a figure seemed to solidify in front of him just as the TARDIS vanished once more. The figure pulled the Doctor out of the ship, past the Daleks who were firing blindly and unaware of the two humanoids dashing past them in the confusion.
    Outside, the Doctor leant on a rock and looked up at the figure. "Barbara?" He was sure he recognised his former companion, but he was sure it couldn't have been.
    She nodded. "Yes, but not the Barbara you know. I've made some unwise choices in my life, but now I have to do something for you, something that's going to make sense of everything I've done in the past." She pulled something from her waist. It looked to the Doctor very much like a temporal dispersal grenade. Barbara could see what he was thinking and nodded once more. "Yes, and it's the only way. Sorry."
    The Doctor, weary, watched as Barbara entered the ship, and attempted to follow her. His cry of "Stop!" went unheard as the ship and all it contained imploded, vanishing to nothing.
    The Doctor fell back on the ground, and all around him faded to black.

6 Hours Later
    "Night's coming. The sun's gone, no clouds. Look at the stars, out in force tonight. But you're not here anymore. No one but me." He looked out at the sky with his one good eye, a look of sorrow crossing his face, mirroring the thoughts running through his mind at that moment. "I should have got in the way, should have saved you. At least I would have lived. Probably."
    He turned where he stood, away from the view out across the sea back in to a small pile of rocks marking what seemed to be a grave. The best he could do. A tear trickled down his cheek as he knelt to the ground, touching it with reverence. He barely held back further tears as he spoke.     "Goodbye, Amy Pond."
    He looked around himself, the scene oddly serene in spite of all that had happened. He looked to the sky once more, at the stars and wondered. If River went through with her plan then none of this would occur. He crossed his fingers, hoping that everything around him would change, his memory would alter and suddenly he'd find himself back...


...in the TARDIS River had already begun to formulate her plan. The first stop had been easy, and she knew it would begin to change things. Slowly at first, but with a snowballing effect.
    She wasn't quite sure why she couldn't control the TARDIS now, as it seemed to be landing independently. She performed an environment check and satisfied that it was safe – if not where she'd intended to be – she stepped out.
    She walked into a room with a very ornate fireplace, and two very plush armchairs positioned next to it. She could see a figure looking at a clock face, though swore a picture was fading from it as she moved towards it.
    The figure turned and glared at her. Those eyes looked familiar, but...no, surely not? The figure held out a gun-like device, pointing it in River's direction. "So, here you are. After all you've done, I've finally caught you." River could swear she detected traces of an accent in the man's voice.
    "So you brought me here? Why?"
    The man gestured towards the seats by the fire. "Why else? To kill you, to end your meddling. Do you know just how much trouble you have caused? How much chaos has been created by your tampering with timelines?"
    River smiled. "I'm just putting things right. There's a greater power at work here, trust me."
    The man sneered. "Trust you? Why should I? After what I witnessed on Alfava Metraxis I should have killed you as you walked in the room, put an end to the suffering immediately."
    The two of them sat, River now aware of just who he was. "You could do that, but why don't you let me tell you a story? Just one – then, if you still want to kill me, there's nothing I can do to stop you."
    She was sure that the man almost smiled, a flicker of recognition, of some distant memory that connected the two of them.
    "Alright. One story." He paused. "Though after all you've done to me I shouldn't even tolerate that."
    A smile crossed her lips. "Oh you'll like this story. And by the end of it, I'm sure you'll be a different man." She looked him in the eyes. "Now if you're ready Doctor, I'll begin..."

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