A Room with a Point of View

Doctor Who Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. It belongs to the BBC and any other relevant copyright holders. This is a work of fanfiction and not for profit. Author’s Note: Set some time Impossible Astronaut. On a rare occasion that River, Rory and Amy are in the TARDIS at the same time, the Doctor gives Amy and Rory an extended tour. Leading to a discussion about propaganda in a time war. Why is there a printing press in the TARDIS?

A Room With a Point of View

He paused at the end of the corridor. “Let’s see…” he muttered before pointing to each door in turn. “That’s the water chute, flower cupboard, petting zoo… um…” He opened the door and closed it again as the contents fell toward him leaving the floor covered in cardboard containers… “Oh, another box room…”

“And what’s that one?” Amy asked, pointing to a door he had ignored.

“That’s the Print Room,” he told her. “It’s for printing.”

“Why would you keep a print room in a TARDIS though?” Amy asked. “What do you need a printing press for anyway?”

“Because there was a war on,” River replied, noticing the discomfort on her husband’s face. “And while the Doctor was unwilling to pick up a gun and fight, he was prepared to prove that words have power… for a while anyway.”

“I don’t understand,” Rory admitted. “How does a printing press help when your fighting through time and space?”

“Okay, imagine you have a food fight,” the Doctor began. “The biggest, dirtiest food fight in history with all the messiest foods you could even imagine being flung across the hall. Actually forget the food fight, it’s just making me hungry.” He took a deep breath, his eyes darkening and his face seeming to age. “The Time War was not your ordinary sort of war. It was fought on a battleground that crossed time and space, all over existence. And it involved two advanced races capable of time travelling precisely where they wanted to go. How long do you think it took before one side or the other thought to themselves that if they went back in time they could alter something to bring them an advantage.”

“Not long,” Amy admitted.

“So the Daleks cheated,” Rory surmised.

“The Time Lords cheated,” the Doctor stated. “Funnily enough it was always the Time Lords that escalated the battles and the methods. The Daleks were quite happy wading in and exterminating everything in their path until the Time Lords decided to mess with history. Of course once they did, both sides were at it and battles seemed to drag on forever.

“That doesn’t explain the printing press.”

“The problem with simply time travelling to win an advantage is that sooner or later you start crossing paths with those that have already made changes,” River explained. “History becomes a mess and whole galaxies vanish before you have time to realise what went wrong.”

“Precisely. Two sides time travelling back in time to effect the present is all well and good, aside from wiping out countless lives in the process. But to be really really effective, you need to be able to dictate how those changes take affect and how they influence events. You need to win first and then travel back in time and put events in motion to secure that victory.”

“But when both sides are fooling with history, travelling to the future can be hazardous,” River pointed out.

The Doctor nodded. “Time has a habit of creating snapshots based on how things were at a certain point. The future half-an-hour ago could be very different than the future after I started this explanation. If you go forward in time to see the outcome you might miss a change that brings disaster. So you need another way, a way that means you stay in the here and now but will be able to effect those changes… You play the Time Game. You convince yourself that you are going to win and that as soon as you’ve won you will travel back and make the changes needed. You focus on your future self carrying out those actions after the war has been won.”

“Of course the other side does the same thing,” River chimed in. “And you end up with both sides declaring the actions they will take following their victory while upping the the stakes the entire time.”

“One problem!” the Doctor proclaimed. “One big snag in all this temporal one-upmanship: sooner or later somebody has to lose and at that point everything they thought they were setting in place will be undone – unless the enemy tricks them by making the changes for them. Both sides are determined to win, travel back and make the changes they need to become the winner. But you need something more than just determination to win that sort of warfare: you need belief. You need the universe to believe that you will triumph so that it will follow your design. That’s why doing this sort of thing is so difficult because it relies on making others believe that you can win.”

“Imagine it, a war many cannot begin to understand and you have two sides proclaiming they will be victorious, not an easy task for either side. So you need to show them how you are winning and why wanting you to win is in their best interests. So you record the stories, print it out and distribute it in a universal propaganda campaign and hope that it is enough. That was my job during the early days of the Great Time War, allow the rest of the universe to glimpse the power of the Time Lords and describe our path to victory.”

“And what happened?” Rory asked. “Because you’ve told us so many times that the Daleks were the ones that won.”

The Doctor looked away, not willing to show weakness. River however had no qualms about telling them. She found it amusing. “He got writer’s block.”

End


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The Real Issue

Doctor Who Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. This story is set a few days after the events in Orphan 55. The TARDIS is back on Earth for a short period before the next adventure.
Author’s note: Okay this is not likely to go anywhere, but I consider this story a starting point for a new adventure leading to one of two possible masterminds behind the orphan planets that have been blamed on their population: the Time Lords or something a little bigger.

The Real Issue

The TARDIS was a complex machine. Large, advanced technology with engines that stretched for miles and a power core that in its current configuration resembled a trapped supernova. Technicians spent months working on such machines to keep them in working order and that was just for routine maintenance issues. Regular longer distance services could take decades to complete and required a complete strip down and rebuild of most of the craft’s components.

So naturally when she was well aware that the first step in the servicing of a TARDIS was to empty every room and then switch off the circuits that allowed it to be bigger on the inside, the Doctor had opted instead to treat like a human would treat an automobile in need of an oil change. It was the sort of make do engineering that likely ensured that none of her planet’s technicians would have the slightest idea where to start with an approved service; some parts had been so heavily modifies that eve the Doctor was not aware of how they continued to work.

It was during one of these unorthodox overhauls of the left side landing coupling, which involved the delicate application of a hammer to a small crystal, that Graham walked in.

Her three companions had been a little quiet since their return from Orphan 55. If she were honest with herself the Doctor realised that was likely her fault. She had launched into a rant about how the planet they had visited could have been Earth. She had pointed out the likely path that had led to the devastated and lifeless world. She had pressed to them that the decisions made in their own time could have been the starting point that led to the world’s decision. And her words had hit home a little harder than she would have wanted.

“You okay there Doc?” Graham asked as he walked in, taking in the work that she had been doing.

During his time travelling with the Doctor, Graham had found he could assess her mood by the sort of work she was doing. Heavy violence with small breakable objects meant that she was thinking about something.

“How are they?” she asked, referring to Yaz and Ryan.

All three companions had been taken aback by her speech, but the younger travellers had taken things a lot more to heart. She hadn’t seen them for a couple of days after an awkward return to Earth.

“Yaz is catching up with paperwork,” Graham replied, watching as the hammer struck the crystal again. “Shouldn’t that break?”

“Vesuvium Tear Crystal,” the Doctor replied, delivering another sharp blow. “Formed in the heart of a dwarf star and then dropped into the core of an ice planet… cosmic Prince Rupert Drop I guess you could say. As long as you stay away from the tail it’s almost unbreakable.”

“And if you hit the tail?”

“Oh you end up shattering the structure and unleashing all the solar radiation trapped in side, likely vaporise a few star systems in the process.”

“Right, don’t break the tail,” Graham confirmed.

There was a short silence as the Doctor studied where to place the next hammer blow. For such a brutal operation it required a great deal of thought and consideration.

“I came on a little too strong, didn’t I?” the Doctor asked after a while.

“Full Sermon on the Mount, Doc,” Graham replied. “Really channelled your inner Thunberg.”

“Right, bit strong,” she agreed. There was another pause as she brought the hammer down hard before smelling as it lit up. “Thing is though, it got me thinking. I knew there were orphan planets out there. They’ve been around for centuries and I was always told that that was how they came about. Never really thought twice about it to be honest. But Orphan 55… that was Earth. I know Earth, I keep some of my stuff here. I’ve seen where Earth goes and what happens to it. Ending up as Orphan 55 wasn’t what I expected.”

“Yeah about that Doc,” Graham said. “Cause you told us that was one possible future and we were wondering, does us knowing about it change what happens?”

The Doctor did not reply immediately. She needed to be as honest as possible without hiding the truth.

“Everything dies eventually Graham. People, planets… even this big old universe has a time when it will fade… although that changed too for a while. Point is that one day the Earth will die, nothing can change that. Nothing lives forever. But the when and the how, well those are things that can be influenced and perhaps knowing is half the battle.”

“Right,” Graham said, sort of understanding.

“Look, time is a funny thing,” the Doctor continued. “You have your fixed points sticking up above the water line that absolutely cannot be changed. End of the world with a piece of tape stretched across a finish line. Cross the line and that event is done. But then you have the rest of time, rough currents, gentle rivers, the occasional calm lake with the surprise whirlpool in the centre. You might find a few foot holds just beneath the surface to guide you on the way, but ultimately how you reach that finish line and how long it takes you… sprinter or marathon running in a diving bell?”

She closed the lid on the crystal.

“I’ve seen the end of the Earth,” she admitted. “I watched as the planet was destroyed after a long life. The humans and other life on the planet had long since spread their space wings and the world just passed into the night with a final bang.” She smiled fondly. “Tough old thing the Earth. Do you know it has been moved through space multiple times and been towed by an obsolete TARDIS? And it survived all that. It’s been bombed, drilled, invaded and used as a galactic dumping ground, and still held in there.”

“So why does Orphan 55 have you so upset?” Graham asked. “Cause I can see it bothered you.”

“Fifty Five,” was the response. “All this time I’ve known about orphan planets and how they came about. I never questioned it, they were just a passing topic in Galactic History class. That was Orphan 55. I never thought about how many there were out there or where they were… Look!”

She pulled round the monitor so that Graham could see a map of the stars. Orphan 55 was highlighted with glowing red text. Around it were other worlds labelled orphans.

“One world on its own driven to the brink of extinction, yeah I can accept that. But you humans are not stupid enough to ignore the signs. If somebody saw a nearby world do that to itself, do you think they wouldn’t ask why and take steps to prevent it?”

And there it was, the problem that had been bothering her since they had returned to Earth. Oh she had given them the speech and in all likelihood had given Yaz and especially Ryan a lot to think about. But afterwards when left on her own she had thought about Orphan 55 and the worlds around it that had also become orphan planets. There were hundreds of them, spreading out across the stars, all within travelling distance by the time of their eventual demise. So what had really happened and why had she been taught something that barely stood up to scrutiny?

“Sounds like you have a bit of a mystery there Doc,” Graham commented.

“Oh I’ll solve it, don’t you worry,” the Doctor promised.

And when she did she wondered if she regret not just accepting what she had been told.

“Still as holidays go, I think we should have gone to Butlins,” Graham confided, forgetting that the whole thing had started because of his free tickets. “You know, stick to some holiday camp on Earth.”

“That didn’t work out so well last time,” the Doctor answered. Come to think of it she couldn’t remember the last time she had attempted to take a holiday and it had worked out well.

“Oh, tell me more,” Graham insisted, earning a chuckle from the Doctor.

There would be time to investigate later, for now the opportunity for a diversion was just too tempting/

“Well there was this one time I decided to visit a carnival…”

End


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What did You Do?

Doctor Who Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. This story is set somewhere between the end of Spyfall Pt 2 and Fugitive of the Judoon.

What Did You Do?

She watched the flames as they seemed to burn on into the eternal night. Gallifrey was gone, its people slaughtered by a madman. And despite knowing that the Master was to blame, she could only ask one question: What did you do?

For the Doctor had known the Master since childhood. She had known him when they were best of friends and the greatest of foes. She had seen him at his most noble, which admittedly set the bar quite low, and at his most cruel and depraved. She had seen him scared, driven, murderous, greedy and even on a few occassions… genuine. She had seen the hate that he held for her and she knew the lengths he would go to to get his way.

But the anger he had shown her, directed not at the Doctor, but at the Time Lords… that was a level of anger and fury she had never seen before. There had been no spark of happiness in his eyes when he had told her what he had done, but she had seen the conviction. In his own way he was absolutely certain that they deserved their fate. And while he was known to do many things, the Master had never really bothere with trying to rationalise his actions.

So what had happened that had caused the Master to destroy the whole planet? And she didn’t think for a moment that actually killing the population of his home world and burning it to the ground was outside of his character. There had been times before when his actions had brought Gallifrey to ts knees and almost destroyed the planet.

This was different because this time the Master had not been acting out of greed or some new scheme to grab power. He had not been selfishly seeking a way to cure himself after being found near death. And it was not some petit act of vengeance against a race he had turned on time and time again.

This had been done out of anger. He had discovered something on Gallifrey that had caused him to turn on his own people in a brutal fashion. Some secret he had exposed had driven him to kill and burn those around him. And although she did not believe for a moment that he had returned home just for a visit given that he had been brutally kicked off the planet as soon as they returned to the universe, she believed him that he had not gone there with genocide on his mind.

So what had they done that was so bad? What had they done that was worse than the things she knew they had done?

The Time Lords were by no means innocent. Their crimes during the Time War should have seen them executed yet there was nobody to stand and judge them. Almost every escalation in the war, every new weapon that the Daleks had turned back against them, had been a Time Lord development. They had developed plan after hideous plan to one up the Daleks and if those plans never cost the lives of innocents it was only because the Daleks had found a way to overcome them.

The Time Lords had burned galaxies and entire centuries to try and win a war they should have known they would lose. Had engaged in acts of sabotage against other races that had led to extinctions of entire cultures. They had infected a child’s mind with a drumbeat that had driven him insane and then allowed him to run free. And they had been the ones to rationalise their actions as being necessary.

So what could they have done that was worse than that? What could they have done to the Master that was worse than driving him beyond the point of insanity? And why when the Master told her about it did he tell her that whatever they had done involved not only himself, but also the Doctor?

He had wanted it to hurt. There was no doubt that he considered the truth to be something that would destroy her. And he had drawn her in just to set her on the path to uncover the truth knowing that she would not stop until she found out… no matter how painful that truth could be.

But where would she even start to look for answers when all those that could tell her had been consumed by flames?

Well, all but one. The Master was still alive as far as she knew. He was trapped in another dimension, imprisoned by those he had been planning to betray at his earliest convenience. But he was alive and the Doctor had no doubt whatsoever that he would escape sooner rather than later. It was just one of those things about the Master. He would seem to die or be trapped on board a ship falling into a black hole, or find himself imprisoned in an alien dimension and somehow you could guarantee he would return. It was not a matter of if, but when.

And so she would have to wait and keep watch. She would search for signs that he had returned just so that when he did she would be able to seek him out and get her answers. Until then she would keep returning to the flames hoping that she would find the answers she needed.

“What did you do to make him do this?” she asked yet again. “And why do I feel like you deserved it?”

End


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