The first part of tonight's double feature, to make up for missing Tuesday. We begin with another dark and unsettling piece, a war story from the biggest War of them all:
Story: Et in Arcadia Ego
Author: Amy Wolf
Rating: "All Ages" on the 'Spoon, but again I'd probably say "Teen"
Word Count: 2,244
Author's Summary: “I was there at the fall of Arcadia. Someday I might even come to terms with that.” – The Doctor, in Doomsday.
Characters/Pairings: Romana III, The Doctor (8th), various hapless OC Time Lords, and the Daleks
Warnings: War action, megadeaths, Daleks being Daleks with all of the gory detail the television stories by necessity leave out
Recced because: The Time War. I think it's one of the very few large additions to Who lore that the new series has made, to be fair, and definitely for me the only one that I wouldn't like to see retconned or forgotten any time soon. For better or worse, it has shaped the whole dynamic of the new series Doctors, their interactions to their companions and their attitudes to their adventures. And I suppose it's the idea of it - the greatest conflict the universe has ever seen, the Time Lords and the Daleks - and it'd have to be the Daleks, the ur-Who monsters, for my money the original and best - locked in combat for mastery of the entire cosmos. I am a big fan of Time War fic, and I think this is one of the very best examples out there.
I think the story shows its pre-End of Time origins - that story told us new things about the War that changed our view slightly from what we thought Nine had told us, and not necessarily for the better imho - but that's not a bad thing. It picks up on one of the many teasing throwaway references to the War the Doctor has let slip in the new series - the infamous fall of Arcadia - and really runs with it. The author manages to make sense of the idea of the Doctor, surely the least likely soldier anybody could imagine, actively participating in a war, and the way he does it seems wholly believable and in-character, as does the crushing sense of survivor's guilt he is left with after each of his escapades. You come away believing that somebody like Eight could turn into somebody like Nine under these circumstances. And it makes the Daleks the nightmarish, murderous, and above all merciless, horrors they are at heart but which they so rarely have a chance to be in any of their television outings. The best part of this story for me, however, is the way it is told; throughout, the author describes the various disasters and atrocities she is relating in a detached, almost nonfictional style that just increases the impact on the reader. Any Time War story that can casually toss in a line about the Daleks blowing up the sun gets my vote.
Go and read it and leave a word or two of encouragement for the author.
He’d been chosen to lead the team for a number of reasons; familiarity with the native species, good field knowledge of Dalek time travel tech, a high success record on unusual missions, and he suspected, because Romana was being kind. There were benefits to being an old friend of the President, even if he didn’t ask for them.
She knew him so well. She knew he liked saving lives better than killing. He suspected that she knew how much he hated being in battles at all. She knew he did better in the company of humans; she even knew why. She knew he couldn’t stay out of the war. So when he got assignments like this, he wondered. Just a bit.