Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A World Without Angels – Part 3

So here it is! The end of the series 2 finale! It's been a long time coming but now it has an ending! I may post the whole story as one post soon too, just for the sake of completeness. I hope you enjoy it but be warned, it does end on a cliffhanger! There won't be so long to wait until that one's resolved though – next week in fact with the Winter Special!



A World Without Angels – Part 3

    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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