“Mistress!” Ey said running to the bottom of the stairs. “I think Mr Doctor is hurt!”
“Ey, it is ok,” the 12th Doctor said, breathing in slow but deep breaths. “It will pass in a moment.”
The 10th Doctor and the Mistress exchanged a look that simply said ‘later’. She descended the stairs, returning her attention to the 12th Doctor. He was now sitting, his elbows resting on his knees, his hands rubbing his temples.
“I remember what happened,” the 12th Doctor said, looking up at the others. “I remember it all.”
The Tardis materialized in the sewers of a planet simply called N5. Originally it was to be called New York, but since that was taken, New New York, which too was taken. The settlers realized it would in fact have been New New New New New York if they wanted to name it properly.
The 11th incarnation of the Time Lord known as the Doctor poked his head of the the door and looked about. He had on a suit, a bow tie and a quizzical look on his face.
“And that is why they simply called it N5,” he finished.
His companion, a girl named Amy Pond wore a short skirt and tennis shoes, and her long red hair draped over her shoulders. She followed him from his blue box despite the unpleasant scenery she saw.
“I see…” she said, following the Doctor out of the Tardis. “So why are we in the sewers again?”
“Good question,” the Doctor said, looking about. He scanned the area with his screwdriver and gave it a once over.
“Ah, because there is something over that way,” he said, pointing. He looked again at the screwdriver. “Right. I mean that way.”
Amy looked at him incredulously, but followed anyway as the two set out into the sewers.
“Does the Tardis do this often?” she asked. Looking down a the liquid flowing in the trench beside them. It glowed a dull green and provided light to the tunnels.
“Do what?” the Doctor asked. He was looking in all directions but the one he was going, attempted to find what it was he was meant to find.
“Just take you random places?”
“This isn’t random!” the Doctor said, stopping and turning around to protest. “Random would be a carny on New Orleans, or the wrong side of Plaxes’s J-2 mountain. No, this is not random, but rather very specific.”
“And what does that mean?”
“I don’t know,” the Doctor answered. “Yet.”
“Doctor!” Amy said, looking down.
The Doctor had stepped to one side and his shoes were in the green liquid of the sewers, which aside from smelling bad, was apparently acidic. The bottoms of his shoes began to smoke and the Doctor could feel heat from the soles.
“Oh! Oh! Hot!” he said, jumping back to the side. He sat down and quickly pulled off his shoes and socks, throwing them into the stream. They were not seen for much longer as the liquid reduced the material to its molecular form.
“Well, that is good to know. Don’t touch the green stuff,” he said, wiggling his toes. As he did he looked down the tunnel and saw a small opening in the wall with a room behind it. He scanned it with his screwdriver.
“Hello…” he said, standing. “What do we have in here?”
The Doctor walked to the end of the tunnel. Here a larger tunnel went left and right. But it was the opening across the stream that had his attention. Carefully he lept over the sewer stream to the other side. Amy followed behind. The two slipped inside the opening into the room beyond.
The chamber was small and looked different from the construction of the rest of the sewers. Instead of having the large grey rocks that lined most of the walls in the tunnels, this room had small red brick.
“This was created later,” the Doctor said, looking around at the walls. He turned and examined the way they had come in. “And until recently had been closed up.”
“Doctor, what’s this?” Amy said. She was standing over a box in the center of the room. It was small and metallic. Several lights blinked on its top, and the front sat open. There was a blackened mark on the door, and another on the ground in front of the box.
“It looks like a cat carrier…” Amy said with confusion in her tone.
“That,” the Doctor said, scanning the box. “Is a Dax box.”
“What’s in it?” Amy asked and started to lean down to look. The Doctor grabbed her and pulled her back.
“If we are lucky, absolutely nothing,” he said.
He leaned down and peered in cautiously.
“No Dax,” he said, relieved.
“What is a Dax?”
“Nasty little things,” the Doctor said. “Parasites, they attach to a host and take over their bodies. They control the host, but also have access to their memories. Once they were a noble species, good relations with hosts and all, but generations of being used by other races for espionage and torture had turned them, how shall we say… bitter.”
The Doctor stood up and turned around to face Amy. For a brief moment she had a confused but painful look on her face before she fell to the ground.
There was a man behind her holding a stun gun in one hand. He lowered it and stepped closer to the Doctor. Time Lord found himself face to face with himself.
“What?” he said.
This second Doctor’s neck was covered with black spots, the tell tale signs of being a Dax host. He paused only one moment before plunging a knife blade deep into the Doctor’s abdomen.
In a voice that struggled against internal restraints, the Dax controlled Doctor spoke.
“Save us, Doctor,” it said, the last bit of familiarity fading from his eyes. “Save us all.”
He pulled the blade from the Doctor who fell to his hands and knees. The Keeper grabbed Amy Pond and threw her over his shoulder and left.
Blood stained the Doctor’s shirt and suit. He held one hand over the wound, but blood flowed down through his fingers. His legs were uncertain as he made his way down the tunnel to the Tardis.
He pushed open the door and fell to the floor inside of the Tardis. Already his hands were beginning to glow; the regeneration was beginning.
The Doctor reached up and threw one of the levers on the control panel and as the Tardis dematerialized the regeneration began.
Yellow glowing light shot from every part of the Time Lord’s body. His form changed, his wounds healed. He fell again to the floor of the Tardis, unconscious.
“And when I woke up,” the 12th Doctor said, finishing the story. “I didn’t remember any of it.”
“So the Keeper is us, but under the control of a Dax,” the 10th Doctor said. “Well, that certainly complicates things.”
“But why stab me?”
“It forced the regeneration,” the 10th Doctor said. “Just going back and telling you to not go in there wouldn’t have worked. The timeline would have still found a way. By forcing the regeneration, it forces a new timeline. Gives more time to fix things.”
“And also causes the paradox. I’m the water drop,” the 12th Doctor said. “Oh Sami, I found it.”
The Maid Marian walked cautiously through the walls of Nottingham Keep. It was true that she still had access to its hallways, her permissions were not what they were before the arrival of the Man in Black.
Still, despite the warning of the Professor and of Robin, she had to know what the Sheriff and the Man in Black were hiding in the basement of this keep.
She was still not sure she trusted the Professor and the Doctor. Robin gave his trust too quickly sometimes.
At this hour, most of the occupants were sound asleep. Still, Marian needed to be careful, so rather than walk as herself, she had donned her other persona: the Night Watchman.
The danger would be higher if she were caught, but she thought it for the best. If Marian were seen down here, there would be questions. If the Night Watchman was found down here there would only be fighting and a chase. That seemed much easier.
There were two guards in front of the door to the cellar. Marian threw a small stone down the hallway away from her.
“What was that?” one said.
The two stepped cautiously away from the door, looking down the hallway. The Night Watchman slipped behind them and knocked them both out.
She grabbed the keys from one and opened the door, walking into the room.
There was an unnatural glow to the room she had never seen before. Multi-colored pinpoints of lights blinked all over the room. Large cylinders like pillars stretched upwards throughout the room.
Marian approached the first one. Inside floated a large sphere that slowly turned. There was a panel with more lights and things that looked like words but in a language she did not understand.
Cautiously she made her way further into the room. She passed more glass cylinders with spheres. Then she came across the ones in the back. These held not spheres, but people. Mostly women, they floated seemingly frozen.
There was a blonde woman floating in one. Marian approached it closely and got a better look at her face. Her dress was strange. Nothing about her revealed who she could be or from where.
Marian was not satisfied with the lack of answers, and pressed further into the room.
“So, so very predictable,” a voice said. Marian turned. The Man in Black stood behind her holding a small object in one hand. He pointed at her as if it was a weapon.
“I like the mask, Marian,” the Keeper said. “Always thought it suited you well.”
He pulled the trigger and blue energy shot from the end. Marian remembered a shot of pain through her body and then fading into blackness.
The 12th Doctor sat on the stairwell, an ursa cub at his feet and another at his left side. The 10th Doctor paced back and forth in front of them a miniature noga following in his footsteps. An android called D-96 stood motionless next to the Tardis.
“He told me and I didn’t see it,” the 12th Doctor said, shaking his head.
“Who? Who told you?”
“Tea?” Katherine asked emerging from the kitchen.
“Please,” the 12th Doctor said.
“No, thanks,” the 10th Doctor said.
The 12th Doctor took the cup and saucer from Katherine and sipped slowly on it. Despite the distraction of his memories coming back, he did notice it was good tea.
“I ran into the Beast from the pit,” the 12th Doctor said. The 10th Doctor turned with a look of surprise. “He said he didn’t know what was going on, but was not surprised to find me at the middle of it.”
The 12th Doctor gave a slight laugh and took a sip of tea.
“What information did your gizmo get?” the 10th Doctor asked.
“Oh!” The 12th Doctor pulled it out of his pocket and began to read off the recordings.
“That was indeed the control center and engine of the Tardis. It seems it is being used to stabilize the timeline.”
“Similar to the Master,” the 10th Doctor commented.
“Yes, but that was such a crude solution, I can’t believe that we, uh he, would use that as a solution…” the 12th Doctor paused as he read more of the data.
“What?” the 10th Doctor said coming over to look.
“Sometimes I hate being right all the time,” the 12th Doctor said. “Using the Tardis to stabilize the timeline is a crude way of doing it. You run out of power and the field breaks down and time restores itself.”
“That would explain all the planets in the basement. All of that power would work for a long time,” the 10th Doctor offered.
“But not forever. And really, we could do better, right?”
“Well, yeah, if I were going to do it, I’d go for a permanent route, something like…”
A light bulb went on in the 10th Doctor’s head.
“Oh no,” he said.
The 12th Doctor nodded and handed the gizmo to the 10th Doctor.
“He cannot be serious,” the 10th Doctor said, reading the data for himself. “This is a bit much even for us.”
“A time bomb,” the 12th Doctor said. “A device that would rip through the fabric of time. If it works correctly, it will shred apart the paradoxical timelines and when time reattaches this timeline will become the right one.”
“And the Paradox will be send away.”
“The ripple becomes frozen in the water.”
The two looked at each other.
“But it is just theory. No one has ever tried this before, not even on an experimental level,” the 10th Doctor said.
“Can you think of anyone more qualified to try than us?”
“Afraid not,” he replied, handing the gizmo back. “That explains the planets, the Keeper needs them for power, but why the companions? Why collect them?”
“It must be a connection with the memories of the Doctor in his head and the Dax. He’s collecting the companions and keeping them in stasis because of those memories. Once the time bomb goes off the timeline where they are here is set. Then they can be taken safely out of statis.
“I think it does explain my memory loss,” the 12th Doctor added.
“Well, every time the Keeper did something: took a companion or a planet. Any time he changed the timeline, it affected what I remembered since I am in a timeline after that point.”
“And since I am in the one before, my memories aren’t affected.”
The 12th Doctor nodded.
“We have to stop him,” the 12th Doctor said.
“For all of them.”
“But how? Simply collapsing the field won’t work this time. This isn’t a single point paradox like the Master situation. This is all over time.”
“But it is a single point paradox,” the 12th Doctor corrected. “Me.”
The two looked at each other again.
“If we could cancel out the signal for a short time…” the 10th Doctor said.
“…we could get on the original timeline…” the 12th Doctor continued.
“…and stop us from getting to the Dax…”
“…which would prevent the water drop in the first place.”
The 10th Doctor returned to pacing. The 12th Doctor sat and thought.
“He is using a Tardis to make those waves, we can use a Tardis to jam them,” the 12th Doctor started. “We modify my Tardis to transmit on the counter frequency and we’ll have our disruption.”
“Oh is that all,” the 10th Doctor said. “The controls and engine are who knows where. We’d have pull it into normal space and put another Tardis practically on top of it in time and space transmitting the precise frequency creating a window large enough for another Tardis to travel to a specific point in time and space. That’s…”
“Well, yes,” the 10th Doctor said.
The 12th Doctor got a huge grin on his face which confused his other self.
“Highly improbable I can do,” he said.
Alan of Dale sat in a pub in Nottingham holding playing cards and trying to suppress a huge grin on his face. There was a collection of coins in front of him that was only about to get bigger.
Naturally for Alan, his luck didn’t last.
“Alan of Dale,” a voice said behind him.
“Never heard of him,” Alan said, never taking his eyes of the game. He laid down the cards and the other three men called out in frustration.
“Some of us are just better at this game than others,” he said, reaching to grab the pot of money in the center.
Instead a hand grabbed him by the shoulder and sent him backwards onto the floor. Three of the Sheriff’s men stood over top of him.
“It is rude to ignore someone talking to you,” the voice said again. “Alan of Dale.”
“I told you,” Alan started.
The Sheriff of Nottingham stepped on Alan’s hand. The man screamed in pain.
“Do I want to continue this charade? A clue: no.”
“Ok, ok, what do you want?” Alan said, trying to pull his hand out from under the Sheriff’s boot.
“You will deliver a message to Robin Hood for me: We have Marian and she will die unless you bring us the Doctor.”
“Doctor, what Doctor?” Alan asked. The Sheriff stepped down again and again Alan screamed out. “Ok ok, the Doctor, I’ll tell him.”
“Good,” the Sheriff said smiling. He leaned down, putting his face close to Alan’s. “Mention to dear Robin that a rescue attempt will ensure her hasty execution.”
Alan nodded. The Sheriff stepped back, as did his men. Alan got to his feet, holding his hand. He eyed the winnings on the table briefly, but the Sheriff caught his look and shook his head ‘no’.
“Consider this a small price to pay for letting you walk out of here with all of your body parts,” the Sheriff said.
Alan sighed and ran from the pub.
The 12th Doctor sat atop his Tardis with a long cable in one hand and a piece of metal in another; his sonic screwdriver hung out from his mouth.
Two ursa cubs sat at the base of the Tardis, each holding a makeshift metal antenna. The android D-96 was running cable back to the control console.
Mistress Katherine walked out into the foyer and surveyed the situation.
“Doctor, how are you doing?” she asked the 12th Doctor.
“We are helping!” Yu said from one side.
“Mr Doctor said we were good assistants!” Ey added.
“Good,” Katherine said. “Good.”
The 10th Doctor walked out from the Tardis and looked at her.
“Doctor,” the 12th Doctor said looking down at his other self. “Could you go inside to check the connections? Should be ready now.”
“Ah, of course,” he said, going into the Tardis.
The 12th Doctor adjusted the new antenna. It looked a bit like an umbrella with no cloth on it and spread out over the entire top of the Taridis.
“I think I’ve seen something like that before,” James said.
“Probably in one of those old movies you like to watch,” Leonard quipped.
The two men shook their heads and went back to work.
“No no,” James said as they walked upstairs. “I think I was in San Dimas…”
“I think that looks good!” the 10th Doctor called out. The 12th Doctor slid off the roof of the Tardis and walked in.
“So this Max Hodges guy actually figured out a way to capture Paradox monsters?” the 10th Doctor asked, incredulously as he stared, but did not touch, the gargoyle in front of him.
“Yeah,” the 12th Doctor answered. “Seems the Keeper was trying to use them for power as well. I’ll give him this: he was resourceful.”
“Good stock to start with,” the 10th Doctor said.
“Ok, Heart of Gold, talk to me,” the 12th Doctor said.
“Most glad to,” it said in a cheerful voice. “The probability of successfully navigating the requested maneuver is 2342300834 to 1, which is well within my design parameters.”
“Good,” the 12th Doctor said. “Alright baby,” he said now to the Tardis. “I need you two to play nice just one more time for me.”
He reached into the console and reattached the cables that had connected the controls of the Tardis to the Heart of Gold.
The 12th Doctor would have sworn he heard a reluctant sigh in that moment.
“All the readings show good, Doctor,” the 10th Doctor said monitoring a panel displaying flashing data.
“Then it is ready,” the 12th Doctor said.
The two Doctor’s looked at each other for a moment.
“We’ll head back to Nottingham to get your Tardis. Then you know what to do,” the 12th Doctor started.
“Right, I need to go somewhere in the timeline outside of the interference, so when I come forward, I come to the right point.”
“Right. And then you stop us from merging with the Dax. That will prevent the water drop. No water drop, no ripples,” the 12th Doctor said, walking around the 10th Doctor to check the settings one more time.
“Doctor…” the 10th Doctor said, grabbing the other by the arm. The two looked at each other. The 10th Doctor had a defeated look on his face.
“I know,” the 12th Doctor simply replied.
“There has to be another way, a different path we can take.”
“Not this time. When the timeline returns, Ey and Yu wake up in their home with their father. Kanna Prime will return and Carmen Zaed will sing again. All of the companions will go back to where and when they were. And Sami. Sami will be…”
The 12th Doctor caught himself. He clenched his teeth and took a deep breath.
“It has to happen this way,” the 12th Doctor finished.
“There is a chance,” the 10th Doctor said. “If we can collapse of the time line at the right…”
“No Doctor. No. I’ll be too far away from the center of collapse. I’m the paradox. I’m not coming out the other side of this. We have to set the timeline right,” the 12th Doctor took a deep breath.
“Besides, maybe next time I show up I won’t have this unfashionable accent.”
He smiled. The 10th Doctor followed suit.
“Very well, Doctor.”
“Gisbourne!” the Sherriff yelled. Guy of Gisbourne rolled his eyes as he swiftly walked down the hallways of the castle. His face went cold again before turning the corner of the hallway.
“Yes, m’lord,” Guy said.
“Ah, there you are,” the Sheriff said. He had an odd tone of pleasure in his voice. He stood at one of the windows overlooking the market below.
“Look below, what do you see?”
Guy looked, now repressing his unconcern.
“The market, m’lord.”
“Ah, yes, but look again. See something? Something strange?”
Guy looked again shaking his head as he scanned. The market looked as it always did: bread merchant with two carts; a vegetable stand nearby; three cotton sellers; a large blue box; two jugglers; the normal morning throngs.
“What’s that blue box?”
“Shh,” the Sheriff said with a smile. “That, Gisbourne, is how we are going to capture this ‘Doctor’ for ourselves. Our Man in Black wants that man very much so.”
“Therefor, you want him first,” Gisbourne added.
“Yes!” the Sheriff put his arm around Guy and the two began to walk. “You see, Gisbourne, I prefer to be the top of the bad guy chain in these parts and while the Man in Black has been most helpful lately, what with the Night Watchman and all. Oh right, sorry Gisbourne, that one turned out to be your fiance. Awkward.”
Gisbourne looked away, biting his tongue.
“You were the fool who fell for a woman. And what for? Were you going to get her? A clue: no. But that is not the point, Gisbourne. The point is that this ‘Doctor’ has power over our Man in Black, and he will be the key to getting control back of my castle.”
“And what do you wish from me, m’lord?” Gisbourne said
“Keep your eye on that box. We haven’t told the Keeper it is out there yet, and somehow most people don’t see it, even if they walk right past it. Take some men with you. When this Doctor person shows up, grab him and bring him to the dungeon.”
“As you wish,” he said, and began to walk off.
“And Gisbourne,” the Sheriff said. Guy stopped and turned. “Don’t screw this one up, or you’ll be spending the rest of your short life at Marian’s side.”
The Sheriff stretched out his neck and pulled on an imaginary rope around it making choking sounds.
“I’m going to change,” the 12th Doctor said, looking down. His sweater was torn and his shirt was covered in various stains from working on the Tardis.
“I should look my best for the Keeper.”
The 10th Doctor nodded and watched the other set off into the back rooms of the Tardis.
Once in the wardrobe, the 12th Doctor was immediately reminded of Arthur Dent. He looked where his long scarf usually hung, but there was only several empty hooks.
“Right,” he said. “I forgot to grab that.”
The Doctor pulled off his sweater and the shirt and tie underneath. He slipped on a newer shirt and pulled a crimson tie from the rack. He remembered being on a desert planet on vacation with Sami:
“I got you something,” She said and handed him a small box. The Doctor opened it and inside was a tie.
“A nice one. Much better than that drab one you wear all the time.”
“Crimson,” she corrected. “And quite noble looking, I might add.”
The Doctor looked at it, held it up to his neck for a moment.
“See? Much better.”
The Doctor draped the tie over his neck and while watching in the mirror tied it into a half Windsor. He inspected it from both sides and adjusted it once.
“Much better,” he agreed with his memories.
A new sweater vest followed, then a trench coat. He looked himself up and down in the mirror.
“Alright, 12th me,” he said to his reflection. “We have one more adventure to go.”
The 10th Doctor stepped outside of the Tardis while he awaited as the 12th Doctor changed. Mistress Katherine was outside, seemingly waiting.
“What are you doing here?” the 10th Doctor asked. His face was hardened as he looked at her.
“It’s good to see you too, Doctor,” she said.
“No games, Rani. What are you doing here? What is it? Experiments? What are you doing to these people?”
“The greatest experiment of my life, Doctor,” she answered. “Can one organism affect the survival of the organisms around it.”
The Doctor gave her a confused look.
“My collection of the lost here, Doctor, are now safe. Orphans, runaways, rejects, they find refuge here under my care.”
“At what cost?”
“I regenerated right before the Time War,” she continued. “This incarnation had something I’d never had before: guilt. I ran, Doctor. Ran from Gallefrey, ran from my old life. I came here to see if I could do good.”
The Doctor stepped closer, looking at her. He inspected her face and head. He paused and listened.
“You are not a Time Lord,” he said.
“No, I am not. I only get to do this experiment once, Doctor. I changed myself to human so I could hide from you, of all people.”
Katherine looked over at the blue wooden box behind the 10th Doctor.
“And then you just walked right in my door,” she said. “I should have known time would bring you here. But you didn’t know who I was. You took one of my orphans with you on these adventures.”
The two looked at each other for a moment.
“Don’t say anything,” Katherine said. “I don’t expect you to believe me.”
“Mistress,” she corrected. “I am Mistress Katherine. And you will call me such in my home.”
She looked past the 10th Doctor and her face lightened.
“I like your tie,” she said.
The 10th Doctor turned to look at the 12th Doctor.
“It was a gift,” he said.
“You will say goodbye to the cubs, won’t you?” Katherine asked.
“Uh, of course,” the 12th Doctor said, then turned to the 10th Doctor. “Be right there.”
“I’ll get the car started,” the 10th Doctor said, wandering back into the Tardis.
“Tag!” the 12th Doctor heard in his mind. He chased two invisible psychic polar bear cubs thrice around the Tardis before embracing them both and saying goodbye.
The 12th Doctor went to the door of the Tardis where Katherine waited. She adjusted the top of his tie and smoothed out the front of his sweater.
“When this is all done,” she started. “You should come back and visit me.”
“Yes, mistress,” the 12th Doctor said with a smile.
Inside the Tardis the 10th Doctor patted the 12th Doctor’s shoulder a few times.
“Shall we?” he asked.
The 12th Doctor went to the big lever and grabbed ahold, then paused.
“Doctor, I need a favor from you,” the 12th Doctor said to the other.
“Of course,” he answered.
“Her name,” the 12th Doctor stared, this time not fighting the tears, “is Sami. She is a bit much to handle. But she is as good at getting out of trouble as she is at getting into it. She loves crepes and I promised I would take her on a real vacation.”
The 12th Doctor’s voice was close to breaking and he took a deep breath.
“I have forgotten so much,” he continued. “So, so much. Don’t let me forget her. Please.”
“I promise,” the 10th Doctor said. “I promise we will remember her.”
“Thank you,” the 12th Doctor forced a smile. “Thank you.”
There was a silent moment between the two.
The 12th Doctor threw the leaver.
In the foyer of the Mistress’s home the blue police box faded from view. Only Katherine stood to watch.
A few moments later in the foyer of the home of Mistress Katherine a blue police box faded back into view. The door opened and the 12th Doctor emerged holding something heavy, wiggling and invisible.
“Ey, you have have to stay here,” he said, putting the cub down. The cub turned visible so his pouting face could be seen.
“Awww,” he said in the Doctor’s mind.
“And you, young lady,” the 10th Doctor said, emerging with his own armload of invisible wiggling. “You have to stay too.”
“Ok, ok,” Yu said.
The two Doctor’s turned and went back into the Tardis.
“Goodbye Mr Doctor,” Ey said telepathically to the 12th Doctor.
“We’ll miss you!” Yu said next.
The 12th Doctor smiled.
“And I’ll miss you,” he said aloud, once again throwing the big lever.