The scene was something out of a horror movie. Well, more accurately, a movie outlining war and suffering. The field, only a small section of land not covered by trees, was covered in bodies of wounded Time Lord soldiers. How many of them were truly expired, The Doctor couldn’t immediately assess. Random flashes of brilliant amber light exploded from a few, as regenerations took over their dying forms. Some were unmoving, likely exhausted of artron and unable to regenerate. Many of them were moaning in pain from injuries not quite severe enough to result in death or regeneration.
Blood, more orange than crimson, covered the ground and many of the men. The smell of iron was almost as strong as Artron, and as a combination, it was a vapid and choking aroma that would rival any other stench across the universe.
Only two battle capsules were still left standing, and even those machines were lilted to one side and exhausted. They were covered in soot and scars of Dalek ray strikes. The three other capsules lay dead and silent on their sides, their outer casing dented and ripped apart from the hard impact into the ground below.
There was no actual fire from the capsules themselves. Lighting came only from randomly set orbs and the occasional flash of regeneration.
Doctor and Martha ran hand in hand down the steep embankment toward the scene. His free hand was clenched into a fist, hers covering her mouth with horror. When they made it to the back, and to the feet of a non-moving soldier, the Doctor removed his hand from hers to drop into a crouch beside him. Martha’s other hand flew up to join the one already covering her mouth.
“My God, Doctor,” she breathed out sadly. “I just can’t…”
“Not the time to get emotional,” the Doctor ordered her firmly as he pressed his fingers against the throat of the soldier, hoping to feel any kind of life within him. “We need to focus, and to help. If the Doctor back up at the Ark’s cannot hold back the Daleks, then we face them coming down here to finish the job.”
Her hands were still over her mouth, but she nodded as she fought back tears.
There was no pulse underneath his fingers, and the Doctor lowered his head for a short Gallifreyan prayer to their ancestors. He then looked up to her as he slowly lifted to a stand. “My elder self said that you were a medical student. I’ll assume that I have then spoken to you about the Gallifreyan body and the differences between you and us.” He swallowed when she shook her head. “I see. How much do you know about Gallifreyan physiology, then?”
“Two hearts,” she answered softly. “That’s all.”
He nodded. “That’s actually important, and could be quite helpful.” He took her hand and led her deeper into the field, looking at each man carefully. “Essentially, we are the same. So any first-aid or lifesaving efforts you would use on a human will work well enough on a Galifreyan.” He put his hands on her waist to lit her up over a fallen tree trunk. He kept his eyes on hers. “I can’t hold your hand right now,” he reminded her. “You’re going to have to work much of this on your own. Can I count on you to help?”
She nodded quickly. “I can.”
“Brilliant,” he said with a smile. “Now, just remember, my people regenerate. Well. Those that have regenerations left will, at any rate. Don’t try and save someone who can’t be saved. Work on those who have a better chance of pulling through instead.”
He released her waist and removed his jacket. “I’ll handle the tougher cases.”
“Of – of course, Doctor,” she answered, business slowly taking over from horror.
“And don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know,” he said with a smile. “Even from the man you’re treating.”
“Will do,” she quickly jogged away in search of her first patient.
The Doctor rolled up his shirtsleeves and huffed out a breath as he took a look around. A young Gallifreyan medic, only about 25 by Earth standards, jogged up to him. The young man looked harried and definitely out of depth. Despite being the owner of a respiratory bypass that should have prevented breathlessness, the young fellow was most definitely out of breath.
“Lord Doctor,” he panted with relief. “You’re here?”
“I am,’ he confirmed, although unnecessary. He looked up to Martha, who was already on her knees at the side of a soldier on the ground. “And I’ve brought along with me a young medical student who should be able to provide some support as well.” He waited until the man looked back at her, and then to him. “Yes. She’s human, but she’s very capable. I will expect you to offer her all of the respect and resources you would any of my staff in Arcadia.”
He nodded. “Understood, sir.”
He started to walk, observing the men on the ground as he passed them. “There is loss of life,” he remarked. “Too much of it. How are only some, but not all of the men regenerating?”
“New Dalek weaponry,” he said worriedly. “They’ve developed a new weapon that prevents regeneration.” He looked around. “Not all of the men were hit with these specific arms… but those that did.” He looked with panic toward the Time Lord. “They’re helpless, Sir. We can regenerate from a Dalek ray shot. But these aren’t rays, they’re round balls of death that embed themselves in the flesh and stop Lindos production.” He looked almost defeated. “Nerala, over there,” he pointed to a young man silent and still on the ground. “He was only on his second regeneration. He shold have been able to regenerate.”
The Doctor blew out a long breath. “So we have to assume now that none of these men can regenerate, which just made more accurate triage that much more important.”
“If they bleed,” the young man advised. “Then they won’t regenerate. If they don’t have any easily identifiable injuries, then it’s likely a Dalek ray hit – They’ll regenerate if they’ve got any incarnations left.”
“Good,” he breathed out. Repeating the word again as he took a second to think. “If we remove the implant in their skin,” the Doctor ventured with a look around, “then the implanbt could no longer suppress the Lindos production. Theoretically speaking, those that need to regenerate should be able to do so.”
“In theory,” the young medic agreed. “But who knows how long the implant’s effects will hold over?”
“One way to find out,” he boomed. “How many medics do we have on hand, and what supplies are left?”
“Three medics,” he answered quickly. “Not including yourself or your Human companion.”
“Martha,” he advised.
The medic nodded. “Martha. Of course.” He scratched his head. “As for supplies. We retrieved anything we could from the remaining two capsules. We have technicians on board working to repair them to flight status.” He looked at the downed crafts. “We can’t access anything or anyone from the three dead capsules.. I’m afraid we have to accept those as casualties. Rassilon be with them.”
“Rassilon be with them,” the Doctor repeated solemnly. He then lifted his head. “Right. Enough natter. Let’s get to work, shall we?”
It was only fifteen minutes, but it felt like hours to Martha. She had certainly done her time in the emergency room back in London. During World Cup Soccer, the emergency room could be a nightmare. Fights, Alcohol related disasters, car accidents, you name it. She’d seen it, and typically all in one night. Bu this? This was horror on a whole new level, and as she ran her fingers over the eyes of yet another soldier and said a silent prayer to her own deity for safe passage to heaven, she tried to steel herself to face another.
She approached a young man, who was conscious and writing in pain. His shoulder was weeping orange-red blood from a gaping wound half hidden underneath the thick leather of his jacket. He was shuddering when she knelt down beside him.
“Hello,” she greeted quietly.
He answered her in a language she didn’t understand at all. His speech was rapid, yet quiet, and even though she couldn’t understand him at all, she knew the words were broken and stuttered.
“I’m sorry,” she said gently. “I don’t speak Gallifreyan.” Her eyes lifted to look into his. “And I know you don’t understand me, but I’m here to help.”
“H-Human,” he managed to stammer out. “English?”
She gave him a broad smile. “Yes, I am. You can speak my language?”
He smiled, his teeth lined red with blood. “Translation circuit in my capsule,” he admitted. “M-Mine’s still alive.”
She unzipped the front of his jacket, revealing a blood-stained white tunic underneath. “I’m sorry, but this might hurt. I need to get your jacket off.”
“Are you a Doctor?” he asked with a wince as her hand slid underneath his jacket and over his shoulders. He lifted his back to help her with the garment. “I mean on Earth?”
Relieved that he was able enough to help her divest him of the jacket, she gave him a tender smile. “Medical student,” she confirmed. “Well on my way to being a doctor.”
“You’re friends with him,” he noted with a look down his nose toward the Doctor, who was with another soldier, scalpel in hand to remove something from his leg. “The Lord Doctor.”
“Don’t know that I’d call him a Lord,” she quipped back with a cheeky smile as she pressed around the edges of the wound. “insufferable git, maybe. But yes, he and I are friends.” She kissed the air. “Well, the older version of him anyway.”
The young Time Lord tried to laugh, but ended up coughing. “Don’t tell me there’s two of him here.”
Her nose turned up in a tease. “Bad for timelines and basically the fate of all of reality, right?” She bit at her lip and looked into his eyes. “I want you to think of something really wonderful,” she advised him. “Something to take your mind off what I’m about to do.”
“What are you going to do?”
“You really don’t want to know,” she admitted. There was something embedded in his shoulder, and she really needed to get it out to assess the damage underneath. “Do you have a wife or a girlfriend?”
“You mean a mate?” he clarified. He then shook his head. “No. I don’t. The ladies I went to the academy with prefer Lords with status – a council member - not a lowly soldier.”
“Well they’re foolish,” she quipped with a smile as she prepared to make this poor lad hurt. “Better to have a partner who can stand up and defend you when needed, then just prattle on nonsense and make everyone else’s lives miserable with their self-serving decisions and demands for tax increases.” She pulled a small knife from her pocket. “Think of something beautiful,” she suggested. “Something amazing. Hold on to that image for just a little while?”
“You’re beautiful,” he said with a soft smile. “I’ll think of you.”
She laughed. “Are all of you Time Lords insufferable flirts?”
“Are we all what?” he let out a long yell of agony as Martha stuck the knife deep into his shoulder.
“I’m so sorry,” she pleaded as she shifted the knife to dislodge the shrapnel lodged in there. “Almost done.”
He wailed a long cry of agony in a breath no human man or woman could ever possess. It was long, pained, and haunting.
And then it stopped. Abruptly,. As the marble-sized metal ball flipped up, and then out of the wound. Martha only watched it flick to the ground for a second before she turned with panic to the young man. Silence was never a good sign, and she hoped beyond all hope that she hadn’t killed the poor lad.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Her words hiccupped to see his lavender eyes open and gazing lazily at her. It wasn’t the stare of death – that she knew all too well – instead it was a gaze of thanks and affection. “Are you okay?”
“I am now,” he said with a look down at his shoulder. Already it was sparkling amber as his body worked fast to repair itself. His eyes moved to hers again. “Thanks to you.”
She blew out a relieved breath, and petted her hand on his chest. “It was my pleasure.”
He covered her hand in his, and lifted his other hand to her head. Soft words in an alien language passed through his lips as he reached upward.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” the Doctor’s voice boomed out angrily from behind Martha’s shoulder. He leaned over and slapped the wandering hand away. “Wrong timeline, young Lord. Not for you to imprint on.” He grabbed Martha by the arm and drew her to a stand, making sure to set her behind him. “Damn sneaky Ceruleans.”
“She saved me,’ he argued lightly. “And she’s absolutely…” The Gallifreyan words for beauty flew reverently through his lips.
“Yes, indeed,” the Doctor agreed. “But unless you plan to follow this one back to Earth…” He paused at the widening in the young Lord’s eyes. “Nope. Scrap that. Forget I said it.” He led Martha away with one arm across her back, and the other loosely holding her arm.
Martha was highly amused. “What was that about?”
“You almost had a mate of sorts,” he answered her. “He was readying to imprint on you.”
“I’m going to guess that’s not a good thing.”
“Quite the contrary,” he breathed out on a happy breath. “It’s actually quite a beautiful thing. It’s a permanent telepathic link that ensures that no matter the time, the place, or the incarnation, you will know that young Time Lord, and trust him.” He smiled. “Maybe even love him.”
“I met him five minutes ago,” she whispered. “How can I…?”
“You’re welcome,” he said with a smile. He led them both toward another group of men. “I need your help here, Martha. Were nowhere near done yet.”
Relief finally arrived at the scene when the first of two cylinders huffed, whined, and dematerialised. One ship finally on its way back to Gallifrey, carrying the heroic dead soldiers to materialise inside an honour guard at the Captiol. The second capsule would depart in only a few moments, her occupants were the survivors – both injured and regenerated.
The Doctor wiped his hands and forearms on a dirty terrycloth towel as he walked over to where Martha was seated on a rock. Rassilon bless the girl, she was exhausted. Her head was down low in her shoulders and she hung forward over an empty water bottle held in her hands. She was coated in as much blood and mud as he was, and so he grabbed a fresh towel and a waterbottle from one of the medics and walked toward her.
“You were amazing,” he said with pride as he took a seat beside her and handed her the bottle and a towel. “I’m very proud of you.”
She shuddered as she opened the waterbottle and poured it onto her hands. “That was awful,” she admitted sadly. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“And I hope you never have to again,” he breathed out. He lifted his eyes to the horizon, to where the sun was beginning to rise. “We saved some good men today. Sent them home to their families.” He looked to her. “That should give you at least a little peace.”
“I think as many were lost as what we saved,” she said gravely. “Why didn’t they all regenerate?”
“New weapons,” he admitted. “Those that were hit with the new arms, well, they were prevented from being able to produce enough enzyme energy to bring on a regeneration. It’s a frightening thought to know that the Daleks have engineered a weapon like that.”
“Speaking of Daleks,” she said with a worried sigh. “The Doctor and Leela. I’m worried about them. It’s been a couple of hours at least, and we haven’t seen nor heard from them at all.” She looked to him. “Do you think they’re okay?”
“If I know me, and I thinks it’s a safe bet to say that I do,” he bumped her shoulder with his. “Then I think he’ll be okay – your Doctor.” His mouth turned in a smile. “And Leela won’t let anything happen to him. Not without a damn good fight first.”
“Still,” she said. “We should head back over. See if they need our help?”
“We can,” he assured her. “As long as you feel rested enough. What we did here tonight, that must’ve been exhausting. If you need some time…”
“I’m good,” she vowed with a firm nod of her head as she finished wiping her hands and then tossed the towel off to one side. She held her hand to him in a request that he help her to stand. “Let’s go. I’ll feel better when I know the Doctor is okay, and still in one piece.”
He smiled as he brought himself up to a stand and held out his hand to hers. “I am happy to acquiesce to whatever your heart des…” The remainder of that word came out as a spray of orange-crimson blood, that splattered into her face and across her hair.
She was too caught up in surprise to immediately react in any appropriate way to it, but when he swayed, staggered, and then fell to a knee, all she could do was cry out his name in horror.
“Exterminate the Doctor!” A metallic voice commanded over his shoulder. “Exterminate!”
The metal rod moved and shifted toward the Doctor, but before it could fire, there was a zinging sound of heat from behind. Very quickly the metal turned orange and then read and aa large crack opened up along its middle. Then with a cry from inside the machine, the casing exploded. All that was left was a cooked and oozing mess of slime and flesh atop a bubbled pedestal. Behind the pedestal was a lone Time Lord soldier, one arm in a sling, and a large gun teetering awkwardly in the other.
“I think I got him, beautiful,” the Time Lord said with a smile as the gun faltered and then fell from his hand. “But don’t consider us even.” He stumbled, and was immediately caught by another of the Time Lords, who took him back toward the waiting travel capsule.
She should have called out her thanks, but Martha’s panic rendered her unable to do so. With the Doctor down on one knee, swaying and barely conscious, all she could think of was rushing to his aid. His name bellowed with terror from deep inside her chest as she fell to her knees infront of him.
“Doctor! Doctor, what happened?” Her hands flew across his chest, ripping open his shirt, but she couldn’t see where he was hurt. “Doctor, tell me!”
His eyes were wide and pained. There was terror within them as they finally found focus on her. He shook his head. “I- I can’t regenerate,” he told her with fear.
“Do-do you need to?” she asked in panic.
“Get the Doctor,” he begged s he faltered completely to one side. “I have to tell him…” His words cut with a cough, and the Doctor fell forward into the dirt.
The sight of his back, and the rapidly spreading bloodstain on his shirt made her scream. It wasn’t a controlled outburst by any means, the sound that left her throat was one that contained multiple emotions, the most obvious of which were devastation, fear, and heartbreak.
A young medic dropped to his knees beside the Doctor, his hands moving swiftly along his back. Less panicked and much more concerned that he was about to lose yet another Time Lord today, the young man called for help.
Martha staggered backward, falling to her arse, and shuffling further away. Her hands flew up to her face to cover her mouth as another scream tore out from inside her.
There was a worried yell of her name from the trees, and she spun with hope. In the arch of the rising sun, she saw his silhouette: Tall, and lean, his thick coat billowing out behind him as he ran. Although completely in shadow, she could imagine his expression: his face lengthened, yet tight with purpose. His eyes wide and wild, his mouth set with his lips stretched open around teeth grit tightly against his hissing breath.
She called out to him, her voice destroyed and defeated.
He was on his knees in the dirt beside her in a second. His hands took hold of her arms and his eyes searched her blood-stained face with fear. “Martha,” he breathed out worriedly. “Rassilon, what happened?”
Her answer of his name was spoken at the same moment that Leela’s horrified voice screeched out the name of her own Doctor.
Ten immediately flicked his head toward Leela, his eyes wide and wild and suddenly very scared. He half pushed Martha out of his hold, using the push to quickly move toward her. “Leela?”
Her eyes were sodden. “By the Gods, Doctor,” she whimpered. “He. He’s dead.” Her head shook. “H-How can he be dead?”
His eyes moved from hers toward the man lying on the dirt. On his hands and knees, he scrambled toward him, faltering in a fall to one side when he saw the man he once was covered in blood and staring lifelessly at nothing.
“No,” he ground out through his teeth. “No! He’s not dead. He can’t be.”
The medic shook his head at the Doctor. “I’m very sorry, Sir. But. But he’s gone. There’s nothing we can do for him now.”
Leela grabbed the medic by the arm. “He can regenerate,” she growled. “He’s supposed to regenerate. Why isn’t he regenerating?”
The medic was apologetic. He shook his head. “Lady Leela. I am so sorry. The Daleks have new weaponry that stops Time Lords from regenerating.” He looked down to the Doctor. “He got hit with one of those. There’s nothing we can do.”
“You’re wrong,” the Doctor said quietly.
The Medic looked to him with a shake in his head. “I’m very sorry, Sir, but the Doctor. We can’t save him. He’s gone.”
His eyes lifted slowly, full of fire and full of anger. “No, he isn’t.”
“Are you a Doctor, Sir?” the medic asked facetiously ready to remind him to leave it to the professionals.
“I am the Doctor,’ he snarled out darkly, his eyes wild and his lips curled. “Three incarnations from this man. You can’t tell me he’s dead and can’t regenerate, because I’m here, and I’m very much alive, thank you.”
The Medic’s eyes widened and he shuffled backward. “No,” he said with a shake in his head. “This isn’t possible.”
“Oh,” she Doctor sang with a smile turning up one side of his mouth and a slight tic in the shift of his head. “Anything is possible, young Lord. Especially where I’m concerned.”
He shook his hands violently in front of him, flicking them in the air and growling low inside his chest. His growl turned into an impatient snarl, and he almost told his hands to hurry up. They lit up amber and a smile broke across his face. “Yes!” He cheered out. “Brilliant!”
With the Medic gasping in horror to his left, and his two female companions shifting between heartbreak and fear, he moved forward on his knees towards his younger self. He looked at his hands and then set them down on his shoulder to roll him onto his back.
“You don’t get to die,” he snarled at him. “Not yet. Not when we still have so much to do.”
He put one glowing hand on his chest, and moved the other to his temple. “But I’m going to need your help on this, Doctor.” He shook his head and readied to shift into regeneration. “So Rassilon help me, you’d better still be in there.” He exhaled. “Or we’re both dead.”
His head threw backward and his mouth gaped open. A long cry erupted from deep inside his chest as the full regeneration energies took control over his every cell, burning him from inside out.
“Come on, Doctor,” he called as his mind searched deep inside his. “For Rassilon’s sake, wake up!”
Eight’s eyes snapped open as the amber Lindos energy engulfed them both and the two men became one man. The walls between their minds tore apart, and for a slit second, each man could see deep inside the other – memories, thoughts, fears, and strength. Everything each of them had seen and felt, all of the things they had experienced….
…Even things that were forgotten.
The amber fires grew to a final explosive crescendo to light and with a whoomph and a whoosh, the fires embed out and died. Two men panted uncatchable breaths.
Eight panted, barely able to remain conscious. He coughed into the dirt, but fell backward, quickly falling into slumber.
At his side, his elder self looked upon him with shock and heartbreak. He shook his head with utter disbelief. Although still on his knees, he staggered and stumbled onto a hip, unable to remain upright any longer. His eyes didn’t break from his younger self as he finally fell into the dirt.
Only one word passed through his lips before he passed out completely. It was spoken with pain, with longing, and with desperation and heartbreak.