The creature roared from somewhere behind them as they ran. It was a bellowing, guttural type of roar that they could feel through the very ground every time their feet hit it and it only inspired them to keep going. The Doctor in the bowtie’s eyes darted ahead, searching for any signs of a doorway or an exit, somewhere that they could go to escape. It wasn’t like there was anything here that was real for them to be able to use against the ancient vampire. It could only be killed by a metal rod through the heart and the one ship that had one back there was both 1. Busted and 2. (most importantly) not real. Running was their only real option.
Yaz was keeping pace with him rather well, Bill just slightly lagging, but his grip on their hands ensured they kept up with him. He didn’t risk glancing back and slowing them down, knowing that his future self would be watching out for the other two. Finally, he spotted a doorway that stuck out against the forest that still seemed to go on forever beyond it.
“Get ready to hit that door button!” he called out to Yaz who nodded despite her desperate gasps for breaths. She hit it near perfectly once they reached it and those three fell through first. They looked back for the other three and saw them close behind.
When they finally stumbled through the set of doors, they all but spilled out, most tripping over their own feet, panting in the air that their constant running hadn’t allowed them to get. The door slid shut behind them with one last outraged roar from the Great Vampire as it was shut out. When the Doctor in the bowtie lifted his head, however, he caught sight first of the Ponds, then of Rose Tyler and the version of him with the sticky uppy hair and the pinstriped suits and- dear god he was skinny back then. A flash of blonde and blue caught his eye next and his gaze finally turned to the other woman who’d whirled around when they’d come crashing through the door and he’d leaped to his feet, hurrying to fix his bowtie as he took in this future version of himself. He stood, almost visibly vibrating with excitement, a million things going through his brain that he wanted to ask about, but as he took a quick glance around the room, he saw that he was the only one so visibly hyped. Suddenly flustered and slightly embarrassed at this realisation he did the first thing he could think of and threw Bill under the bus to save himself face.
“Bill thinks you’re hot.” He blurted out before darting towards Amy as Bill visibly startled from where she was behind him helping Graham to his feet.
“What? No!” she cried out, beginning to stalk towards him, embarrassed fury in her eyes as she lifted a fist, “I’m gonna beat the sh-”
“Bill.” The Doctor with the eyebrows was grinning in amusement as he reached for her elbow to stop her, right as the one in the bowtie beamed in amusement and darted behind Amy with a laugh in response to Bill’s reaction. It was when Bill finally took in a breath and relaxed her annoyance with the bowtie Doctor that she looked to this female version of the Doctor and she realised that the woman was staring at her intensely, a glint of something in her eye that Bill couldn’t identify. She looked heartbroken. Water gathering in her eyes before she quickly blinked it away once she noticed Bill was watching her, schooling her expression back into something vaguely happy as she smiled at her.
“Hello Bill.” Bill smiled back, surprised slightly at the Sheffield accent. She didn’t know why she was mind you, she was still focused on the expression that had been on the woman’s face beforehand.
“Don’t listen to him, by the way, dunno what he’s talking about.” She motioned to the bowtie Doctor, her face red with embarrassment. The female version of the Doctor smiled in clear amusement and nodded.
“Oh of course,” she was clearly teasing though and the blush on Bill’s face only deepened as she let out a groan of frustration and hid her face in her hands as she turned away.
“Go away.” Bill pleaded and the female Doctor chuckled softly and finally looked to her companions.
“Hello Fam, you alright?”
“Yeah. What about you?” Yaz asked her but Graham was quick to interrupt, the older man still in last effects of catching his breath.
“We just had to run from a bloody vampire. You never said those were real!” She looked to him in confusion and Ryan piped up next.
“Doctor, we think all the projections in here were showing another Time Lord.” Her gaze snapped to him; her eyes wide.
“What?” she looked to her past selves who had just joined them, swallowing thickly, “what’d you see?”
“I’m assuming you got shown stuff as well,” the Doctor with the eyebrows asked and she nodded, motioning to the notebook that the Doctor in the pinstripes had pulled from his pocket.
“Bunch of stuff, yeah. And… I think I know who brought us here, and why.” The female Doctor told them, at their expectant faces she sighed heavily and continued, “this is going to be easier to show you. We can explain to them later,” She motioned her head towards their companions and then closed her eyes, reaching out her mind towards her past selves, “contact.”
The other three repeated the phrase and followed her mentally towards the shared space created. First, they showed one another all the projections that they’d viewed. The small boy being chased by the older girl, the children in the academy, the man in his lab and the woman with the incubated TARDISs. Then the woman regenerating being attacked by the man in the red cape, they were shown the same man in the large room with the woman on her knees and the statues that he had attack them at his apparent command.
It was then the oldest version of the Doctor showed them what she’d seen, with Ruth saving the crying girls at the back of the room. Then she showed them where she’d met Ruth. Showed them how she’d said she was the Doctor but had no knowledge of who that version of the Doctor was, how she didn’t use a sonic screwdriver yet, and then showed them the Time Lords hunting her down. She showed them the Master’s destruction of Gallifrey, much to their horror and confusion, she showed them his video that he’d left for her, his mention of the Timeless Child. She showed them the memories he’d shown her whilst he had her trapped in the Matrix, showed them how they were so much older than they thought. The memories of being a child, of Tecteun and their experiments, of how Time Lords got their ability to regenerate from the Doctor. As the final piece of information flooded the shared space there was a clear feeling of being overwhelmed that flooded after it.
“No.” the Doctor in pinstripes snapped, pulling out of the mental connection and physically stumbling back as he stared at his most future self with wide eyes filled with horror and disbelief, “no. What you’re suggesting is impossible.”
“If we had a whole life before hand, we’d know.” The Doctor in the bowtie tried to demand, the female version of them could only sigh heavily.
“I’m just showing you what I’ve found out. What I’ve been shown. What was in the Matrix.”
“What is it?” Bill asked softly to her version of the Doctor who’d gone very quiet. He just ignored her, looking to his future self as he asked another question.
“So, you’re saying that we were there at the start of it all?”
“Apparently? I know, only what I’ve shown you.”
“So… that projection of the academy, I was right. It was from a very long time ago?”
“Seems so, yeah.”
“And that… with the Yssgaroth, and whoever that was in the cape?” The bowtie Doctor asked gravely and again she could only shrug and take a guess in response.
“Maybe we were there? During the wars against the Yssgaroth. Maybe that’s where things started to fall apart? That version I met, who had to turn herself human, she was on the run from them. Had to have done something to make them want to wipe our memory.”
Suddenly, before any more questions could be asked the lights dimmed somewhat in the room and a thin looking pillar raised from the ground with a screen on top.
“Show; Home.” An automated, robotic sounding, voice spoke up and the four Time Lords glanced to one another as they thought about what it meant. A print of a hand showed up on the screen next, clearly meaning for them to use it to do as it asked.
“Well, if you think it’s the Time Lords…” the Doctor in pinstripes stepped forward towards the screen, sitting his palm on it and closed his eyes to think. The image of Gallifrey was projected around them. The citadel standing proud and strong in the distance, backdropped by a red sky with twin suns shining in the distance. Red sand beneath their feet, the mountains of Solace and Solitude feeling like they towered above them on either side. It was a harrowing feeling, to go from the relative smallness of the room they’d been in before to what appeared to be a vast endless expanse. All the humans were looking around in wonder at the beauty of the planet before them.
“Is this Gallifrey?” Amy asked her version of the Doctor and the man nodded to her, eyes lingering on the citadel with his grief clear on his face.
“Yes.” He told her.
Then suddenly the picture flickered before disappearing entirely, the screen and other lights in the room flashing red as the robotic voice spoke up once more.
“Error. Show; Home.” The Doctor in pinstripes frowned in confusion, lifting his hand from the screen as he looked to his other selves, wanting to know if they knew what to do next.
“Maybe it needs something more specific?” the Doctor in the bowtie wondered aloud, stepping in closer to the screen to sit his palm down on it. An image of the House of Lungbarrow, standing tall and strong on the side of one of the mountains southern to the citadel. It was huge, intimidatingly so, almost castle like from the front, stone with spires on either side and large stain glass designs in the windows. Large flags and banners in orange and scarlet hung from the roof, all showing the symbol of both the Prydonian chapter and the seal of Rassilon. The garden that they were stood in was stunning, carefully trimmed to perfection with a large statue of a figure pointing the way outward a few feet ahead of the large staircase that led to the equally huge double doors that were the entrance to the house.
The image didn’t even last for a second. As if it were offended at the very thought of it being the Doctors home, the image disappeared. Nothing flickering. Just barely allowed to be seen before the room was flashing red once again.
“Error. Show; Home.” The voice spoke once more.
“Maybe… maybe we don’t lie about it.” The Doctor with the eyebrows suggested gently and sat his hand down next. An image of the TARDIS interior filling the space around them. The companions that weren’t Bill all looked around in surprise.
“It can be changed?” Rose exclaimed in surprise. The image lasted longer this time than both the one of Gallifrey and of the House of Lungbarrow, but it too flickered away, and the lights flashed red and the robotic voice spoke up once again.
“Error. Show; Home.” The Doctor in rainbows took in a heavy breath and squared her shoulders as she took her turn stepping in front of the screen and held her palm over it for a moment.
“I don’t know if this will work. But I can’t think of anything else. I don’t know where we came from apart from this.” She sat her palm down on top of it and closed her eyes. The image that appeared next was something like a snapshot of a video, shown in almost slow motion of a young girl in strange robes stood in front of two towers space evenly apart with a bright light at the top. The young, dark skinned, girl whirled around, as though turning to face something that they couldn’t see. At once there was the sound of something powering up and the image faded away as the lights and screen lit up green.
“Accepted.” The screen and its plinth were lowered back into the ground and the Time Lords all stepped back in a slight semi-circle as they waited for something to happen afterwards. They weren’t disappointed. There was a flash of blue light and when the companions were able to open their eyes, after having shielded them from the light, they found that all four Time Lords were now gone.