Doctor Who: The Dying of the Light - Prologue

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Doctor Who: The Dying of the Light - Prologue

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As soon as the TARDIS doors opened, Emily knew something had gone terribly, horribly wrong.

The Doctor was staggering, his breath ragged. His clothes were unchanged, apart from light singe marks in a few spots, but as soon as the Time Lord looked up, Emily gasped—his hair had gone completely grey at the temples, as if a decade had passed in just under an hour. His eyes were bloodshot; his face, haggard.

He opened his mouth to say something, only to groan and pitch forward.

Emily ran to his side, pulling him further into the console room as the TARDIS doors closed behind him.

“....killed me,” the Time Lord muttered. “He's killed me....”

“Doctor?!” Footsteps from further back in the TARDIS echoed, but Emily paid them no heed. “What happened?” she asked, trying to keep her voice even. “Who did this to you?” She helped the Doctor to his feet, guiding him to the console—and shocked to see that his hands, for just a moment, looked to have aged by 50 years. Just as suddenly as she'd noticed, she watched them “reverse-age” to look more like the hands of a 30-something—stained with dirt and a bit of blood, but otherwise normal.

Her question was answered with a nod from the Doctor, towards the largest control on the console panel near her.

As Emily moved to operate the controls, two of the Doctor's closest (and most powerful) allies had arrived in the console room—the white-clad Oberon, and the gynoid Galatea, wearing her usual purple-and-pink ensemble (with a fair bit more pink than purple, in this permutation of her look). Oberon took one look at the Time Lord and shook his head. “....he's done it, hasn't he?”

The Doctor nodded. “Ambush. Never saw it coming. I didn't even have time to yell.”

Galatea was at his side in an instant, her eyes cycling through the entire color spectrum as she looked him over. “It's already started. We can stave it off for another decade or so, maybe, but—”

What's started?” Emily pleaded. “Doctor, what happened?!

The Time Lord turned to regard her with a tired stare. “The Master happened,” he intoned. “And he's killed me.”

His grip on the edge of the console tightened. “Third incarnation,” he explained. “The one who stole your father's appearance, Emily—he apparently thought it'd be 'more poignant' if you'd been out here with me...” He muttered something under his breath before continuing. “It wasn't supposed to end this way. I was supposed to die on the Blackstar, not in some stupid ambush from that idiot...”

“We can get you back to Gallifrey,” Emily reminded him. “They can—”

“Emily,” the Doctor breathed, “my body has been internally aged by well over five centuries and blasted with a form of radiation that accelerates the cellular breakdown that precedes regeneration. I have no idea how long I've got left to live....” He punched the console panel, the sound ringing through the console room. “I had so much left to do,” he groaned, “so many places to go....all of it, GONE, just like that....just because ONE IDIOT decided he wanted to screw around with my 'destiny' and give me a big fat V-sign right to my face...”

Oberon and Galatea exchanged worried looks. “Doctor,” Oberon volunteered, “if you—”

“No. It's not ending this way.” The Time Lord, nearly on his knees by now, managed to draw himself up to his full height. “It wasn't supposed to end this way, and it won't. I'm not letting some IDIOT decide my fate!” There was something unnerving in his stare as he looked up. “Nobody decides but me. Not anymore.”

“Doctor...” Emily found herself backing away slightly. “...what....”

The familiar VWROP, VWROP filled the console room. The TARDIS was departing.

“They drilled it into my head, back at the Academy,” the Doctor stated, pacing around the console like a caged lion. “I had to follow the Laws of Time, for my safety and the safety of all. Well, look where that got me!” He stopped, mid-stride, throwing his arms out. “Grey at the temples and one foot in the grave! This is the price I pay for playing fair, for doing things 'by the book'!”

Oberon took a step forward, but Galatea stopped him. “Not yet.”

“...never hurt anyone, and Lindsay doesn't count, what happened to her was her own fault. I always, ALWAYS did my best to heal, instead of hurt! I did good wherever I went, or at least I tried to...” The Doctor glanced at Emily, Oberon and Galatea. “You know that, right? You've all seen that I've done good wherever I've gone!” Without waiting for a response, he continued pacing. “Oh, but they never played by the book. The Master, the Rani, the Monk—oh, they'd be laughing right now, if they knew. He already knows—the Master, at least, he's the spackhead who did this to me, after all...” He clenched his fists as he talked. “And that's not even going into Fenton Wilcox,or Davros, or Faceless, or any of the other legions of two-bit crooks and criminal scum who think they have a right to a quick profit at the expense of people's welfare, their lives....and STILL, I'M the 'renegade'! I'M the 'bad influence'!

A harsh, acerbic chuckle left his lips. “They want a renegade?”

He turned to regard his companions, his smile dangerously close to a sneer. “They've got one.

“I suggest you choose your next words carefully, Doctor,” Oberon warned. “Friends we may be, I still have the power to detain you and bring you back to Gallifrey, or to be judged by a higher power than even the Time Lords—”

“I don't doubt that.” The Doctor had already turned away. “Just like I don't doubt that you all think I'm insane, or that you will.” There was a manic edge to his movements around the console. “I'm not going to stop helping people, or trying to make the world a better place,” he stated, almost as if to assure his companions. “No burning, pillaging, looting, plundering or anything like that. Just doing what I do best—healing, instead of hurting...” He paused, his head cocked. “...well, there might be a little bit of hurting,” he admitted. “But only where it's needed.”

“'Where it's needed'?” Galatea echoed, aghast. “What are you—”

“Pick a name, someone who you'd want to save if you had the chance—if you had my resources.”

Oberon shook his head. “Don't do this, Doctor—”

“My father.”

Oberon and Emily both stared at Galatea, whose own gaze was locked on the Time Lord. “If I couldn't save him,” she continued, “then I'd at least want to say goodbye to him, one last time—”

“Added to the list, then.”

The gynoid's eyes (anyone being pedantic would've called them “ocular receptors”, but that was the last thought on her mind) widened. “....you'd really do it?” she murmured. “You'd....let me....”

“I'll help you, if you really want to commit to this.”

“Enough.” Oberon brushed past his protege, glaring at the Time Lord. “Listen to yourself, Doctor! You stand, at this moment, on a precipice—”

“I'm already off the precipice,” the Doctor countered, without looking up from the TARDIS controls. “The Master was the one who kicked me. I'm dying, for Clom's sake, and I'm not going to spend a decade, or however long I've got left, sequestering myself in the TARDIS at the far-flung edges of Creation just to reflect on my life and think back on how I could've done things differently!”

Now, he did looked up, blood mingling with the tears on his face. “I'm going to do things differently. Starting now.”

Before anyone could react, he moved to another console panel. “And to HELL with the Laws of Time,” he added. “I'm sick of hearing 'non-intervention' this, and 'observation, not interaction' that! They want the Titanic sinking to be a fixed point in time? Fine by me. I'll look somewhere else to find someone to save.” He stared into a monitor on the adjacent panel for a moment. “....we could even do something about Wyvern Station, now that I—”

NO.” Oberon was mere feet away from the Doctor, now. “One more word, Doctor—”

You're not one of them,” the Time Lord growled. “Not a Time Lord, or a Wyvern—you don't answer to any of them.”

“Do you even have the slightest inkling of what you're suggesting?!” Oberon took a step closer.

“I do. And I know that you want to help me, more than anything else, but you're too afraid of what might happen to you if you do.”

Galatea was prepared to lunge forward, to stop Oberon from striking the Doctor where he stood...but the fight had left him at that point. “Doctor,” he intoned, “don't make this difficult.”

“There's nothing difficult about it. We're going off the book to do what I do best. End of discussion—”

“DOCTOR.” Oberon was staring at the Time Lord, doing his best to hold himself back. “What you're proposing...this utterly mad course of action...they'll know. They'll find out sooner or later. The more alterations you make to history, to your own reality—”

“Who said I had to stick to my own?”

That question, accompanied by the all-too-familiar gleam in the Doctor's eye, effectively neutralized Oberon's second wind. “....what?”

“Some of what I intend to accomplish, I'll do here,” the Doctor explained, again side-stepping around the console and manipulating various controls. “Other things...we push the TARDIS as far as she'll go, through the Reality Wall, find a place that needs a helping hand or someone who could change the world....” He snapped his fingers, a grin crossing his face. “John Lennon.”

Galatea and Emily exchanged confused looks.

“I save him in baseline history, the Time Lords will be on me like stink on...well, you get the idea. I hop over the Wall to another reality and save him...” His grin widened. “Endless potential, yes? A 40-year-old legend gets to live out his years without worry, the world gets more great music, two children get to have their father in their lives...truly a win-win if I say so myself.”

He glanced at Galatea and Emily, ignoring Oberon (who was simply standing there, muttering to himself) for the time being. “The great heroes have always undertaken epic quests, done their 'twelve labours' or whatever before they met their end,” he explained. “Hercules, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Jason—of the Argonauts, not of Crystal Lake....even Superman, at one point.” He chuckled. “Despite a few missteps along the way,” he admitted, “I'd like to think of myself as a hero....and if I have to die before my time—which I don't intend to...” He shook his head. “Whatever the case may be, I figure I've got twelve big adventures left in me. Twelve more chances to change the world—or worlds, in this particular case. Twelve more opportunities to heal lives that would've otherwise been shattered—”

“The Daleks,” Oberon croaked. “You're not going to go back and wipe them out, are you?”

“Tried that, once...didn't have it in me. I still don't.” The Doctor sighed. “And I really don't feel like breaking up that iceberg to let the Titanic sail on its merry way, or plugging up Vesuvius for the sake of Pompeii. That's thinking too big. Have to stay small, one at a time...” He glanced at another panel of the console. “...otherwise they'd twig right from the off, and I'd be finished.”

“They'll twig sooner or later,” Oberon muttered. “They'll know.”

“Like they knew about the Master? The Rani? The Monk?” The Doctor scoffed. “Fat lot of good that's done. If they think I've finally lost it, then they're welcome to it.” He moved around the console again, adjusting a few of the controls and occasionally muttering to himself.

“...is he really doing this?” Emily quietly asked. “Are we....”

Galatea couldn't look her in the eye. “I don't know.”

“And what he said, about....changing things...”

Again, the gynoid couldn't meet her stare.

“....apologies to make, for all the times I've screwed up, that one betrayal of trust—an honest mistake, on my part, I never should've run my mouth and then asked that stupid question, I've kicked myself ever since....anyway...” The Doctor retrieved the pocket square from his coat and dabbed at his eyes. “...side trips out of the way first, then start on the Twelve Labours. Actually, 'Twelve Labours' has already been done—I mentioned Hercules, he's the one who pulled those off....I'll think of a better name later—”

“Doctor.” Oberon had finally decided to end his meditation on the Time Lord's decision. “Are you positive—and I mean absolutely, totally sure that you want to go through with this?”

He didn't have to wait long for an answer. “I've never been more sure of anything in my life.”

“But what about...y'know, consequences?” Emily pleaded. “The Butterfly Effect, and all that...”

“Whether it's one flapping its wings in Peking and creating a typhoon off the West Coast, or stepping on one in the Cretaceous period and changing the way the English language is written...” The Doctor chuckled. “Either way, it won't be a problem.”

“But—”

“If my fate can be changed,” the Doctor blithely informed Emily, “then anyone's can. Simple as that.”

“....but John Lennon,” Emily protested. “There were memorials, and tributes, and songs written about his death, and his life—”

“All of which left out the fact that he'd been a prick for years, leading up to 1980. He was turning his life around at the time, and could've gone any which way with it had it not been for one worthless mental defective with a fixation on Holden Caulfield and a .38 Charter Arms revolver.” The Doctor never looked up as he spoke, his stare focused on the TARDIS controls as he manipulated sliders, pressed buttons and flipped switches. “If nothing else,” he added, “I want to see how this one turns out. Just how keeping John Lennon alive past the night of Monday, 08, 1980, would change things.”

“You're starting to sound like Wilcox, now.” Galatea regarded the Doctor with an icy frown. “He—”

“Fenton Wilcox,” the Doctor hissed, “was and still is a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur. He wanted to be a 'god ascendant', and went on monologues about it every chance he got. He used a forbidden genetic engineering technique and time travel to make himself immune to the changes he made, at the genetic level, to his own race. All I'm doing is making the odd save here and there.”

“And how is that—”

“I'm not calling myself a god. I'm just a dying man with a time machine who wants to set a few things right. It's that simple.” The Doctor glanced up at the Time rotor. “And no, we're not 'intervening' in Vietnam or Korea.”

Galatea said nothing. She still remembered the last time a Doctor had decided to ignore the Laws of Time....

“If any of you want out,” the Doctor stated, “just say the word and you'll be back home in a femtosecond. I won't hold it against you. Speak now, and forever hold your rice pudding, or however it goes.”

After a moment's silence, Oberon sighed. “....you're mad,” he muttered. “Absolutely, utterly, irreparably mad.”

“That's you out, then?”

“Absolutely not. Someone has to make damn sure you don't get your head shot off or a bullet through either of your hearts.” He shook his head. “Just so we're clear,” he warned the Time Lord, “I still think you're making a tremendous mistake, doing this. There are other ways—”

“You and I both know they wouldn't have worked.” The Doctor glanced at Emily and Galatea. “And you two?”

“....if he's staying,” Galatea replied, “then I'm staying, too.”

“And my earlier offer—” The gynoid shot him a glare, instantly cutting off the question. “Right...sorry.”

A full minute passed before Galatea spoke again: “Don't make me regret this decision, Doctor.”

“You won't. I promise.” He nodded as Galatea moved to stand by Oberon. “Last, but most definitely not least...”

“....this is all scaring me, Doctor. What you're saying, suggesting...” Emily found herself far more interested in the floor than wanting to look up at the Time Lord. “What if too much changes? What if any of us changes?”

“You won't. Especially not you, Emily.”

“....but how can you—”

Emily nearly flinched as she felt the Doctor's hands on her shoulders. “Just because I'm dying,” the Doctor reminded her, “and possibly going ever so slightly insane, it doesn't mean I'd do anything to willfully or intentionally put you in harm's way. You have my word.”

“...but....” She wanted to protest one more time, to mention that perhaps John Lennon needed to die...

“Everything I'm going to do,” the Doctor intoned, “is going to change someone's life, or the world, for the better.”

“....you're sure?” Emily looked up, almost afraid of what she might see in the Doctor's eyes...

...only to be met with a familiar smile. “Cross my hearts, hope to die. Do you trust me?”

“....I...I don't know, Doctor. I'm....” Without another word, she pulled him closer, crying into his coat. “...I just don't want you to die....”

“I'd have died at the Blackstar anyway—that was supposed to be how I left the universe.” The Doctor sighed. “And I shouldn't have to remind you about the whole 'regeneration' thing....” He let his gentle rebuike trail off, allowing Emily to embrace him. “I won't die,” he assured her. “And neither will you.”

Once Emily had pulled away, wiping her eyes with the back of her sleeve, the Doctor nodded. “So that's all three of you onboard. Can't call River—she'd panic and get everything too complicated. Jack would either want in, or say he has to report me to the proper authorities....shame. Both of them would've been really helpful for some of this.”

He shrugged. “More's the pity, I suppose.” He turned to regard the Time Rotor again, cracking his knuckles. “'Do not go gently into that good night,'” he intoned, his fingers brushing against the console panel. “'Rage, rage against the dying of the light'.....”

With a final nod, he threw the biggest lever. “What better time than now?”
-----------------------------------------------------------
The Doctor has been left near-death by the machinations of an old foe with a new face. His body is left severely weakened, even if all he has to show for it is a bit of grey at the temples; regeneration is the only thing that can keep him alive, and even then, he still has to board the Blackstar and give up his current life, the way he'd been meant to before this sneak-attack left him closer to death than he should be!

The Doctor had so much left to live for, so much to do...and he's not about to die before his time. Nor is he going to just let nature run its course and regenerate early. This brush with death has brought out a new, dark side to the Time Lord, one that has no patience for the laws of time. Before he meets his fate, before he consigns himself to oblivion, the Doctor is going to do a few things his way. Granted, he'll still be helping people, changing lives for the better and doing his part to make the universe a brighter place...it's just that he won't be going “by the book” anymore.

Great heroes of ages past—Hercules, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, even Superman—have done “labors”, gone on epic quests and generally fought the good fight well before they were meant to meet their fates. The Doctor is no exception. From stopping the death of a rock'n'roll icon to bringing down a reality-hopping space station everyone else is leaving alone, the son of Gallifrey knows he's going to go down for the count soon—and he'll go kicking, screaming and fighting all the way! Even if his own kind threatens to exile him, even with some of his dearest friends and closest, most trusted allies begging him to not be so rash in his final days, he's dead-set on carrying out his last will and testament.

Twelve labors, each more outrageous than the last.

Twelve more adventures before the Blackstar.

Twelve chances to make a difference.

The Doctor will rage against the dying of the light, and to Hell with anyone who stands in his way.

Doctor Who: The Dying of the Light
Summer 2021
Through the darkness of future past
the magician longs to see.
One chants out between two worlds
Fire....walk with me.

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KingYcranos
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Re: Doctor Who: The Dying of the Light - Prologue

Post by KingYcranos »

Oh my god that was amazing!!! One of the best fanfics I've read in a while!!! A very well done to you :D
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porcelaingirl
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Re: Doctor Who: The Dying of the Light - Prologue

Post by porcelaingirl »

I told you so.

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