Time's Rites (Doctor Who/The Dresden Files).

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Re: Time's Rites (Doctor Who/The Dresden Files).

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-04-12 12:49am

Ugg. I thought that might be wrong, but I wasn't sure how it was wrong. And of course spell check wouldn't get it, because they're both legitimate words.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: Time's Rites (Doctor Who/The Dresden Files).

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-07-03 08:48pm

So, I've come back to this after a long absence. Part of that absence is due to my finally going back and looking at Ghost Story again (I don't actually own a copy), and realizing how badly I'd mangled Dresden canon in a bunch of little ways. Part of it was getting caught up in other fanfics, and other things unrelated to fanfic. And part of it was shear laziness, for which I sincerely apologize.

As to any mangling of canon, I like this premise too much to abandon the story, and I've put too much work into it as is to want to start over, so I'm afraid I'll have to plead the Moffat Defence: Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Whimey. :D

Anyway, here goes:




The first thing Rory felt when he awoke was a distinct unease, the now-familiar warning instinct in the back of his mind that told him things were about to go to Hell in a hand-basket. It was something he'd been feeling a lot more often since he'd met the Doctor, and especially since- he buried that thought swiftly.

The next thing he felt was the familiar warmth of Amy lying beside him, her right arm draped across his waste. He pulled her closer, still unable to truly believe, even now, that he was really Rory Pond, or that she was Amy Williams. Whichever they were using that day. Amy stirred restlessly, mumbling something in her sleep, and he wrapped an arm around her carefully, not wanting to disturb her, especially after what she'd been through last night. That thing, what had the Doctor called it?

Walker. A Walker. Something from outside the Universe.

And somehow, this is my life now.

"Rory!"

He jumped as Amy's eyes snapped open, before she saw him sitting beside her and relaxed.

"You alright?"

She nodded.

"Sorry. Bad dream. What time is it?"

"Dunno. I guess its kind of relative here."

"Come on, let's go find the Doctor and Harry", Amy said, getting out of bed and rummaging around in her dresser. Rory watched her, still wondering at the fact that she was his wife, that they would wake up like this together every morning for the rest of their lives (however long that was), until she fished out a blue and red chequered shirt and a short blue skirt which she quickly pulled on. Then, reluctantly, he climbed out of bed and dressed as well, while an impatient Amy practically bounced around the room.

Harry didn't answer his door, and after a few moments Amy, with total disregard for their guest's privacy, entered the room. Sure enough, the teenage wizard was nowhere to be seen.

"He must have got up already", Amy said.

"He's probably in the Control Room", Rory reasoned. "Come on, let's go get breakfast. I'm famished."

"Right you are then Rory." Amy bounced past him as they made their way down the hall toward the kitchen. She turned to face him, frowning slightly. "You don't think he's gotten lost, do you?"

Rory shrugged.

"I'm sure the Doctor's keeping an eye on him." That wasn't as reassuring as he would have liked, although it seemed to satisfy Amy. The Doctor meant well, most of the time, but he didn't always have a good grasp of the difference between "safety" and "lethal danger".

However, when they entered the kitchen, Harry was already their, seated at the table and scarfing down a heaping plate of pancakes and syrup. He looked up and smiled as he and Amy entered, quickly swallowing a large bite.

"'Morning."

"'Morning Harry", Amy chirped, helping herself to an apple. "I see you figured out the food replicators."

"With a little... um... trial and error", the wizard replied, finishing the last bite of pancakes before actually licking the syrup off of his plate. Rory grimaced. "What?"

"Glad you found this place", Amy said, sitting down across from him while Rory set the replicator to bacon and eggs. "We thought you might have gotten lost."

"Nah", Harry said, affecting a cool demeanour, though Rory could sense nervousness beneath it. "I almost did, but I guess the TARDIS pointed me in the right direction." He shifted in his seat, looking about him uneasily. "So, this place... its really alive, huh?"

"Yeah." Amy smiled. "Pretty cool yeah?" Harry nodded, not looking convinced. Rory couldn't blame him. "Have you seen the Doctor about?"

"Oh, you called?"

Rory glanced over his shoulder to see the gangly Time Lord come swaggering into the kitchen, wearing a light blue shirt and red suspenders, along with his customary bow tie. "Morning all. Harry." He pulled out one of the chairs and swivelled it around, sitting facing Harry and Amy with his arms crossed over the back of the chair. "Amy? I... um... trust you slept well?"

"I... um, had a bad dream", Amy replied. "About the... about last night".

"The Walker", the Doctor said, and a shadow seemed to fall over the room, the mood becoming instantly serious. They traded glances and, by some unspoken agreement, pushed their plates away, signalling the end of breakfast and the beginning of planning.

"Is it still a threat", Harry asked. "I mean, could it come back?"

"Well, its effectively immortal, Harry", the Doctor replied. "Killing it only banished it from this plane. But to return, it would have to be summoned."

"Justin", Amy made the obvious connection.

"Bingo. We deal with Justin, and with any luck, the Walker's going to have to wait a hell of a long time to get another shot at this world. Admittedly, maybe not that long for an immortal", he amended.

"Is their any way we can get rid of it permanently", Amy asked. Rory had to agree that that was the obvious question.

"Weeellll", the Doctor hesitated. "Theoretically. Their are powers that could unmake it, but to do that, we'd have to summon it back here first."

"No thank you", Amy said quickly, while Harry nodded fervently.

"Okay, so, no summoning eldritch demons from outside the universe. That's a good step one", Rory said. "What's step two?"

They all turned to the Doctor. He was, after all, the expert when it came to monsters.

"So what's the plan, Doc", Harry broke in after a moment. "No offence, but I'd rather get this over with as soon as possible. Especially... with Elaine..."

"Time machine, remember?" The Doctor grinned. "I can drop you off on Justin's front porch five minutes after you left. With a small margin of error", he quickly added.

Harry's eyes narrowed. The kid wasn't stupid.

"How small a margin?"

"Well, it depends. What sort of defences does Justin have?"

Harry shrugged uncertainly.

"I don't really know. I never had any trouble getting in and out."

"Well that's simple then", the Doctor said, springing up and striding toward the Control Room. "We land just outside the house. You go in, find Elaine, get her to follow you outside. Once she's safe inside the TARDIS shields, we deal with Justin."

Harry looked unconvinced, and Rory couldn't blame him. The day one of the Doctor's plans went that simply was the day he and Amy settled down in a quiet house in the country.

"And how exactly are you going to "deal with" Justin, even if we can get Elaine out", he asked as they entered the Control Room.

"Still working on that", the Doctor replied, beginning to flip switches on the console. Noting Harry's skeptical expression, one that Rory was sure was mirrored on his own face, he gave them a mock-annoyed look. "Oh, don't be so glum. Where's the fun in life without a few surprises?" Before either of them could reply, he grasped the main lever, and Rory braced himself for the usual unGodly jarring of the TARDIS in flight. "Hold on tight. Geronimooooo!"

The Doctor threw the lever and the TARDIS jolted into motion, the engines groaning to life as the central column began to rise and fall.

***

We were early.

I followed the Doctor through the door of the TARDIS, and found myself standing on a familiar hill covered with tall, windswept grass. The Sun was sinking low toward the horizon, casting reddish light over the fields, making the grass appear stained with blood. In the distance, a stark black shape outlined against the red of the setting Sun, were the walls and roof of Justin's mansion.

Home. But not any more.

Somewhere out there, I was running. Somewhere, perhaps at this very moment, Justin was summoning He Who Walks Behind to hunt me down. I suddenly wondered if it would be able to track me to this very hill, or if it would get confused by two different... whatever it was that it had used to track me down. I glanced around me uneasily, half-expecting to feel the Walker's claws grasping me, tearing flesh-

"The Walker. Can it find us here", I asked.

"Shouldn't", the Doctor replied. "TARDIS shields. Sorry, couldn't land us any closer than this. Just stick close to the TARDIS for the next couple of hours. Then we can go."

I nodded, reassured, and stood waiting in the falling darkness outside the TARDIS. After a while, I began to pace restlessly backwards and forwards. Now that we had started, I wanted nothing more than to get it over with, whatever happened, and I found waiting almost unbearable. Amy seemed fairly calm, standing by the door to the TARDIS and chatting absently with Rory, though her eyes strayed from time to time to the house at the bottom of the hill. Rory, for his part, could have been standing in line at the grocery store, for all that his expression showed. I supposed this was all old to them, after what I had seen over the last couple of days, but at the moment, compared to my own nerves, I found their calm irrationally irritating. The Doctor, meanwhile, had pulled that little electronic "screwdriver" out of his pocket and was pacing around the TARDIS, alternately waving it around and examining it up close while muttering under his breath. Once or twice he went back inside, then returned a few minutes later with, I thought, a rather satisfied expression on his face. The Sun had fallen completely below the horizon, and I shivered in the cool night breeze. Somewhere out their, right about now, the Walker was coming after us. It was strange to think that at that moment, their was another Doctor, another Amy and Rory, another me, living events that I could remember having happened a day ago, or so I thought (I was, understandably, a little fuzzy on the whole passage of time thing right then). Somewhere out there we were running, or the Walker was holding Amy hostage, or it had just ripped an innocent man apart-

I whirled suddenly, mind spinning, and wondered how the Hell I hadn't thought of it before.

"We have to go back!"

"What?" Amy walked toward me, frowning. "Go back where?"

"The store. Last night. Or tonight, or whenever the hell it is!"

"Why?"

"The kid. The one the Walker kills. We can still stop it!" But even as I said it, I knew from their expressions that it was no good, and I remembered what Amy and Rory had said the night before.

"I'm sorry."

I turned to see the Doctor standing behind me. His expression held resignation, sympathy, and, perhaps, a trace of guilt.

"We can't change it. Its already happened. You saw it happen."

"Yeah", I muttered. "Right." I still couldn't help feeling like I had failed, that that death was my fault. If I hadn't been there-

Amy placed a hand on my shoulder.

"You couldn't have known."

"Yeah. Sure", I repeated. I turned away, glaring down the hill toward Justin's house. "Can we get a move on, already?"

The Doctor nodded.

"Its time." I felt a thrill of adrenaline run through me. As much as I'd wanted to get started, now that the moment had come, I felt afraid to move. The Doctor turned and nodded toward the house at the bottom of the hill. "Well, go on then."

"Wait, you're not coming with me?", I asked. I'd more or less screwed up my nerve to confront my old master-I thought-but I'd been counting on the Doctor being there with me. I still wasn't sure that I could trust him completely, but I'd seen how he'd taken apart the Walker, how he hadn't flinched when confronting a demon more terrifying than anything I had ever encountered before. I knew that I'd feel a hell of a lot better about walking back into that house if I had the Time Lord beside me.

"Doctor...", Rory began, while Amy interjected "You can't seriously be thinking of sending Harry in their alone."

The Doctor met my gaze levelly.

"This is something you have to face yourself, Harry."

My heart was pounding against my ribs, and I felt like the world was slipping away beneath me.

"I... I can't stop him alone."

"I'll go with you", Amy said, stepping up beside me, and an indescribable warmth filled me, followed quickly by a flash of shame at the thought of wanting to put her at risk again, just because I was afraid. But the Doctor spoke before I could.

"Sorry, no, need you with the TARDIS."

To my surprise, Amy grinned.

"Oh I know that look", she told him smugly. "You've got a plan."

"I'll go", Rory said quietly. I turned to him. I wanted Rory to come with me, oh, how I wanted it, so I wouldn't have to go in there alone, but I felt that I had to say something, to try to warn him.

"Look, I... I appreciate it, but... chances are none of us are going to get out of there alive. You don't have to do this."

Rory's didn't so much as blink.

"Must be Tuesday."

Amy walked over to him and placed her hands lightly on his arms, staring into his eyes for a long moment.

"You'll be careful, yeah?"

"I think we left "careful" behind a long time ago." He gave her arm a squeeze. "We'll be fine." The words sounded hollow even to me.

Then he turned and strode away down the hill toward the house. I took a deep breath, and followed him down into the darkness.

***

It took us perhaps five minutes to cover the distance from the TARDIS to the house on foot, skirting around through the tall grass to approach the mansion from the back. I felt terribly exposed the whole way there, and more than once I glanced over my shoulder, half-expecting to see Justin or the Walker standing behind me. I didn't really have much idea what I was going to do when we got there, other than try to slip in through the back door, or knock on Elaine's window, and hope that she'd come with us without tipping Justin off. I felt a little better having Rory beside me, but not much. I knew, both from the events of last night and my glimpse of Amy's soul, that Rory was no coward, and I was pretty sure that He Who Walks Behind wasn't the first impossibly terrifying thing he'd faced, but as far as I knew, he was just a plain old vanilla human being, without any powers that would allow him to stand against a wizard of Justin DuMourn's caliber. If he tried to fight, Justin would kill him, or worse.

I paused as we reached a low hedge about twenty feet from the back entrance, dropping down into a crouch and hoping I wasn't visible from the windows in the failing light. Rory crouched beside me.

"So, what now", he asked.

I eyed him.

"You've done this more often than me, right?"

"Fighting wizards? Breaking and entering?"

"Fighting monsters", I replied. "Saving people."

He shrugged.

"I guess." He looked at me intently. "Did you see that in Amy's... soul?"

Oh crap. It honestly hadn't occurred to me to wonder how Rory might feel about the fact that I'd got an up-close and personal look around the inside of his wife's head. It had been an accident, and Rory didn't seem like the irrationally jealous type, but I guessed it had to bother him at least a little that, on one level at least, I now knew his wife better than he did, or ever could.

I starred at the ground, not meeting his eyes.

"Sorry", I said. "I didn't mean-"

"Forget it", he said after a moment. "Probably shouldn't pry."

Or maybe, Rory was just curious about what it was that I'd seen.

"Look..." I began awkwardly. "This really isn't the time, or the place." I jerked my head toward the mansion, looming above us. Besides, I didn't know how I felt about revealing what I'd seen in someone else's soul, even if I could figure out how to put it into words. It was too... personal. Even talking about it at all felt like a betrayal of confidence. But I didn't think Rory would appreciate it if I said that.

I wanted to tell Rory that I had seen how Amy saw him, how much she loved him, trusted him. But it wasn't something I could just say.

Its a guy thing, maybe.

"Look", I said. "I don't know what's going to happen in there, but if Justin finds us... I want you to go. Just get out. I'll handle Justin."

He eyed me levelly.

"You don't think you can take him, do you?"

I knew he'd see through a lie.

"No", I said. "But I can probably hold him off for a minute or two. Long enough for you to get clear." That was being optimistic, but it was the best I had. The thought of facing Justin alone, and of what he would do to me when he caught me, terrified me. But I'd be damned if I'd let Rory die trying to protect me. And then there was Elaine.

"I'm not sure how I feel about just leaving you behind", he replied.

"You can't take him", I said fiercely. "You can't even slow him down. At least I can do that much, but not if I have to shield you too. If he catches us, just get Elaine and go. Get her out. Promise."

Rory didn't reply for a moment. Then he nodded.

"Look, Harry. I can't promise we're all going to make it out of there, or that any of us are. But whatever else he is, the Doctor isn't stupid. He wouldn't have sent you in there without a plan."

I held his gaze for a moment, then, swallowing back the fear that threatened to rise up and choke me, I turned back to the house, now just a darker outline against the night sky.

"Alright", I whispered. "Let's do this".

***

The next three minutes were probably the most nerve-wracking of my life. We crept across the yard, Rory at my back, until we were standing just beside the back door of the house. I twitched at every sound, every gust of wind or rustle of grass or creaking of old wood, but nothing jumped out of the night at us.

I tried the door first. It was locked. I thought about trying to force it, but that seemed too likely to be heard. That left Plan B. Motioning for Rory to follow me, I crept quietly around the house until I stood below the window of Elaine's bedroom. I stood there for a few moments, wondering how I might get her attention. Then I shrugged and, feeling rather foolish, like a kid in some cheesy old romance movie, picked up a small pebble and chucked it at her window.

I winced at the tap of the stone hitting glass, sounding impossibly loud in the still night air. I had to try twice more before I saw a light flick on upstairs, and then Elaine's face appeared at the window- pale and wide-eyes, and framed with long brown hair.

Elaine. An indescribable pang went through me, as a hundred memories came rushing back. Our first kiss. Our first meeting, when Justin brought her home and said that she was going to live with us now. Our first time... together.

Running, fleeing Justin and an Elaine I no longer recognized as the girl I loved, the memory of their betrayal a physical pain in my chest.

A moment later, her face disappeared from the window. I was suddenly very aware of the fact that there was every chance that she'd just gone to warn Justin. I looked around, then quickly gestured for Rory to follow me back over the hedge. We crouched there, my heart pounding, waiting. After what seemed like an impossibly long time, but was probably no more than a couple of minutes, the back door opened, and Elaine appeared in the doorway, wearing a long nightdress, a golden light glowing faintly around her outstretched hand.

"Harry?" Her voice was so soft that I could barely hear her over the rustling of the wind. "Harry, are you there?"

I traded a glance with Rory, then stood up into a half-crouch and hissed: "Elaine!"

She started, then saw me and took a step toward me. I gestured to her, urgently. She took a half-step into the yard, then another. I rose up from behind he hedge, gesturing to her to come closer. Slowly, as if in a dream, she crossed the yard toward me. She started as Rory stood up quickly from behind the hedge, taking a firm grip on her arm.

"Harry, what-"

"He's a friend", I said quickly. "Come on, we have to go."

"Are you in such a hurry, boy", a familiar deep voice spoke from the doorway behind Elaine. I froze, starring in horror as my teacher, my guardian, the man who tried to kill me, descended the stairs to stand behind Elaine, his long black staff gripped in his right hand, his eyes dark and cold and filled with terrible anger. "Clearly I failed to teach you good manners."

I knew I should do something. Vague thoughts flitted through my mind, thoughts of calling fire, or raising a shield, or simply grabbing Elaine and running for it, but I was petrified, too terrified to move. And then I realized that I couldn't move. Something was holding me, some invisible force binding me in place.

Elaine's binding spell.

Beside me, I saw Rory topple over, arms and legs bound by invisible cords of air.

"Elaine", Justin DuMourne said, a terrible satisfaction filling his voice. "Be a good girl and help me bring our guests inside."
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: Time's Rites (Doctor Who/The Dresden Files).

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-10-06 08:25pm

Apologies if this chapter is a little messy, but I'm probably not going to have reliable computer access again until Tuesday or Wednesday, and I wanted to get it out there.

To my fellow Canadians: Happy Thanksgiving Weekend. :)



They dragged us into the house, Rory and me, and deposited us in a large, spacious, room, the walls lined with shelves holding every manner of magical tool and substance, as well as tall, thin candlesticks which Justin lit with an almost casual wave and a word of murmured Sumarian. Laid into the center of the floor was a large, intricately woven silver summoning circle. Justin's lab.

I'd like to say that I was stoic in the face of impending death, or worse. That I did not flinch, that I spent the couple of minutes it took Justin and Elaine to drag us into the lab racking my brains for any clever scheme to free Rory and me, overpower Justin, and escape the trap into which I'd dragged us. I didn't. The truth is, I just lay there, paralyzed by fear, chest almost too tight to breath, unable to move or even speak, cursing myself for my stupidity, Elaine and Justin for betraying me, and the Doctor for not being there.

Justin waved his hand with a smirk, and I dropped painfully to the floor near the centre of the room. Another gesture, and Rory was deposited near the far wall. His face was turned toward me, and I caught his eye, but his face was unreadable.

"Well, here we are again", Justin said, turning to me, as he lit the candles. "I had expected you to return, boy, but not so soon. Clearly I have underestimated your courage, and your stupidity. Well, no matter. Nothing has changed. You will serve me, or you will die." He smiled slightly. "Rather painfully, I might add." He turned to Elaine, who stood still as a statute, as though she were simply an automaton, awaiting a command. "Make the necessary preparations, Elaine. I'll keep an eye on our guests."

Elaine left, and Justin turned back to me, but his gaze fell on Rory, studying him intently.

"And who is this", he asked, more to himself than to me. "He appears to be nothing more than an ordinary mortal, but even you, boy, could not be so stupid as to think such a one could assist you in overcoming me." He gestured at Rory, and I heard the young man suck in a breath as the magic that kept him from speaking loosened. "You, speak. Who are you?"

"Let us go", Rory said, quite calmly. "It'll be better for you if you do."

"Threats?" Justin sounded amused. I suppose he didn't have any reason to be frightened by an unarmed normal and an apprentice. "You are hardly in a position to threaten me."

"Just trust me, you really don't want to do this."

Justin smiled again, more coldly, and blinked slowly, his expression shifting to one of faint concentration as he opened his eyes. He studied Rory for a moment more, then blinked again, his expression returning to normal, and I knew that he had used his Wizard's Sight on Rory.

'"Interesting. You are human, but... more. Not a wizard, nor, I think, do you possess the blood of the Never Never, yet there is something... out of place. Almost as though you are... out of step with this reality. I had thought to simply dispose of you, once I had concluded my business with my ward, but it appears that I shall have to question you more closely." He turned toward me and smiled, cruelly. "Perhaps I will have my apprentice do it."

It took me a moment to realize what he meant, but when I did, I felt ice slide down my spine as the meaning of his words sunk in. He would do to me whatever he had done to Elaine- he would change me, make me his loyal servant, turn me against the only people who had ever tried to help me, the only ones who hadn't betrayed me, since my father died. I struggled against Elaine's binding spell, but it was useless. I couldn't force my way out, not bound and gagged and with Justin watching me.

Rory said nothing, just starred hard at Justin, his muscles taut, his expression promising sudden violence if the magic that bound him faltered. Justin ignored him. The minutes ticked by, impossibly slow. Sometimes, my thoughts wandered, despite my fear. I wondered where the Doctor was, and why he hadn't come. I wondered what would have happened if Justin had never adopted me, or if I hadn't run when I first realized that something was terribly wrong. I cursed myself for my stupidity, and my weakness. I wondered what it would be like to die, and if I would have the courage to face it when the time came. I waited for an opportunity, but with Justin standing guard, I didn't dare try to break free.

I heard noise of a door opening behind me, and Justin turned as Elaine reentered the room.

I remembered, suddenly, one of our lessons together. I remembered the magical binding she had shown me, and how I'd figured out how to slip out of her spell, and I cursed myself for not remembering it sooner. If this was the same spell that held me now, then I could free myself. But I needed a distraction. I took a deep breath, trying to control my nerves, and waited.

"Ah, very good." Justin nodded to Elaine. "We are ready to begin?"

Elaine bowed her head, her face blank, her beautiful eyes dull and expressionless.

"Yes, Master." Her voice was as empty of emotion as her face, and it sent a sharp pain through my chest.

Elaine.

Elaine came forward, undoing the belt of her robe as she did and letting it slide to the floor. She was naked beneath it. The red-gold light of the candles cast flickering shadows over her skin, which was covered in swirling occult symbols drawn in red. Justin smiled, then turned to me, and I felt my bonds loosen. I sat up, rubbing my arms and trying to muster a defiant glare.

"Don't bother trying to do anything foolish, Harry. As if you could hope to best me!" His lip curled contemptuously. "Really, boy, what did you think you would accomplish by defying me? You could have saved yourself, and this young man with you, if you had simply OBEYED!"

The last word came out a snarl, and I flinched before the fury in Justin's voice. But his anger faded as quickly as it had come.

"It is not too late, Harry", he said softly. "You do not yet understand your purpose, your true power." Elaine stepped forward, carrying a goblet full of smooth, dark red. "Drink, Harry, and this will all be over. I'll even spare the young man's life. You can have life, power, even Elaine. All you have to do is drink."

I darted a glance at Elaine, at the face that I had known and loved devoid of any hesitation or regret, and for a moment, I wanted to give in. To be free of doubt or responsibility or choice. I looked at Rory, but his expression was unreadable. I wondered what choice he would make, if it were Amy standing their, a goblet of fresh blood in he outstretched hands.

I bowed my head, then met Justin's eyes.

"I'm sorry, am I interrupting?"

Justin whirled, raising his hand in a warding gesture in front of him.

There, framed by the door, his face half-lit by the flickering candle light, stood the Doctor.

"Oh, is that a ritual circle?" The Doctor peered over Justin's shoulder, sounding for all the world like a curious tourist. "Not a big fan of the blood-drinking though. Or what you've done to the innocent person holding it. Alright there, Rory?" Rory nodded, and I did as well. "Good. Amy wouldn't be happy if this idiot had rearranged your brains."

"Who are you?", Justin demanded. He tried to sound confident, but I thought I could hear a hint of fear in his voice, and with it, I felt my own confidence rising. The Doctor continued, as though he was holding a casual conversation.

"So, what's the plan? Take power, live forever, destroy the inferior races? Its always something so terribly unoriginal with you megalomaniac types- no creativity at all. Doesn't really matter, because you're not going to finish it, whatever it is."

"Identify yourself", Justin snarled, and he extended his hand, a gust of wind sending his staff flying through the air and into his grasp. The runes carved on the staff glowed green and red as he assumed a fighting stance. The Doctor ignored him and kept on prattling away an eccentric professor lecturing his students.

"I admit that your wards posed a slight difficulty- it took me a little longer than I'd anticipated to unravel the thaumic energy matrix." He pulled out the sonic screwdriver and gave it a wave. "Sorry to leave you hanging, but I had to unravel the wards without triggering an alarm."

"You're not with the Council", Justin said softly, eyes narrowed as he followed the Doctor's movements about the room. I reached out with my senses and my magic, testing Elaine's binding, and my heart leapt as I recognized the familiar spell. I took slow, deep breaths and continued to work, while I kept my eyes focused on Justin.

"No. Well, yes. And no. Its a long story. Hello, I'm the Doctor." He waved cheerily at Justin. "Now, here's what's going to happen, and I'd pay attention, because its the only chance you're going to get. Let them go. Undo whatever you've done to the girl's brain, and let us all walk out of here, and I'll give you a head start."

"And if I don't?" Justin sneered, but it was obviously an effort.

The Doctor's expression was calm, but his eyes were deadly cold.

"Then I promise you: there is nowhere in all the stars where you will be safe."

Justin did not answer. He simply closed his eyes, then opened them again. He starred at the Doctor for a long moment, and I saw his eyes widen, his face pale, and I realized with a thrill that he had used his Sight again. He was seeing the Doctor as he really was, without illusions, and he would never, ever forget it. He staggered back, tripped and landed heavily, his staff tangling with his legs. It took him several moments to force himself to his feet, leaning heavily on the staff. His face was white, his eyes wide and starring. Whatever he had seen when he looked at the Doctor, it had shaken him. He licked his lips once, twice, then swallowed and managed to croak a question.

"What... what are you?"

"I told you. I'm the Doctor. Basically... run."

Justin stood starring at the Doctor, conflicting emotions playing across his face. Fear, doubt, tiredness, anger. I wanted to shout, to protest- after everything Justin had done, the Doctor was just going to let him walk way, so he could come after us again another day? But something told me that now was not the time to speak, and I was still afraid. Justin glanced towards the door, then back to the Doctor, and for a moment, I honestly thought that he was going to take the Doctor's offer.

Then he laughed, cold and proud and cruel, drawing himself up to his full height and raising his staff. The runes glowed brighter now, and I could feel him gathering power.

"The End is Nigh, Doctor. There is no escape."

I felt Elaine's spell give way.

I was free, and for a moment, Justin's back was to me, all his attention focused upon the Doctor. I raised my hand, reaching out and calling power to myself. I'm not sure what I would have done- thrown fire or air at my old master, perhaps-or what would have happened if I'd tried. I probably couldn't have controlled that much power without a staff or wand or some other focus. I might have burned us all to ash, right there. I'll never know.

The Doctor was faster. He met my eye, shouted "Catch", and tossed the sonic screwdriver under-hand, beneath Justin's outstretched arm. I caught it on reflex.

Justin whirled, and there was murder in his eyes. I gathered all my power, all my will, willing my magic into a shield between me and Justin, placing myself between him and Elaine and Rory.

And then I heard that indescribable wheezing groan as the TARDIS materialized, felt it reverberating in my bones as the walls of the control room faded in and out of view around me. Fire billowed forth from Justin DuMorne's staff, filling my vision, and splashed uselessly against the TARDIS's shields before the walls solidified around me, leaving the Doctor alone with Justin.

And then I was standing inside the TARDIS, shaking with fear and adrenaline, and I could hear Amy pulling Rory to his feet behind me.

"You alright Harry?" she asked. It was a few moments before I got control of my nerves enough to turn around and give her a shaky nod.

"And the Doctor?"

I opened my mouth, but before I could even begin to think of an answer, an orb of crackling green energy slammed into Amy, hurling her across the control room and slamming her into the far wall. She tumbled limply to the floor, down before she even had a chance to cry out. Rory dashed toward her, but the next instant, another bolt of green energy slammed into him. He hit the wall too, and slid to the floor with a groan.

Elaine was standing in the centre of the control room, green flame crackling around the fingers of her outstretched right hand. Her gaze tracked slowly around the interior of the TARDIS.

"Well, this is unexpected." She nodded towards Amy and Rory, lying motionless on the floor of the TARDIS. "Interesting friends you had. Such power. Can you feel it Harry?" She smiled. "My master will be pleased."

"Elaine", I began. "Please..."

I thought I saw something flicker in her expression, but it was gone a moment later.

"I'm sorry it had to be this way, Harry. You should have listened."

She raised her hand, and an orb of green energy hurtled across the control room toward me.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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