Adalia Zandra (adaliafic) wrote,
Adalia Zandra

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FIC: Veritas in Fabula Part 2/7? - Go Tell It On The Mountain

Title: Veritas in Fabula (The Truth in the Story)
Author: Adalia Zandra
Characters: Ten, Rose, Jack. Just the littlest bit of human!Ten and Donna.
Categories: AU, Action/Adventure, Angst, Whump, H/C, OT3
Rating/Warnings: Teen, spoilers for the end of S4
Summary: The OT3 go on their first adventure together in an AU post-JE world. But the TARDIS redirects them slightly, and something is very wrong when they arrive. They decide to interfere. (In which the OT3 meet some interesting aliens and learn together about the subjective nature of truth.)
Author’s Notes: Written for nightrider101as part of the OT3 Ficathon 2009. More info in the original author's notes.
Disclaimer/Apology: I don’t own these characters, I’m just borrowing them. For better or worse, I happen to be American. So please excuse my English.
Teaspoon Link: Click for whole fic (to date).

As soon as the mods approve, part two of Veritas in Fabula will officially be available.

Meanwhile, here's a tiny teaser...

They shared grim smiles, and followed Ales into the building.

The interior was dark and sparsely decorated except for a sprawling mural depicting Mons Vitae that took up an entire wall. Small pots of incense and what looked to be offerings of unsurprisingly brown flowers lined the base of the wall with the mural. There were no windows. There was however a door on the opposite wall, probably leading to the rest of the small building.

This, apparently, was the Shrine.

ETA: Hey, Tsp Mods? Never mind. dark_aegis and [info]wendymr are very determined and I am very weak.


Part One - Sightseeing and Interfering can be found here on LJ or at the Tsp link in the headers above.

Part Two – Go Tell It On The Mountain


Everywhere Rose looked, there was smoke and debris. The burnt-out remains of the settlement looked exactly like the devastated ruins she had seen in war photos from her own time, but no photograph could have prepared her to stand in the midst of such destruction.


There were people—strange, part-marsupial and part-avian aliens, but still people—running frantically about in every direction, seemingly at random. Most of the adults had at least one injury, and many had burnt, scarred, or entirely missing wings. Several of them carried pouchlings, some barely hatched, some with injuries as devastating as those of the adults.


Standing motionless for a moment amidst the chaos swirling around her, Rose wondered where Jack and the Doctor had wound up and if they were all right.


After being separated from Jack in the square in the initial stages of the eruption, Rose had found herself carried along in a stream of panicked Grex fleeing for the edges of the village. She had no idea what had become of either Jack or the Doctor since then.


The mountain had sporadically bombarded the village with hot ash and rock for at least half an hour, raining down heavy missiles that caused damage and spread flames wherever they landed. Seeing one determined group of Grex trying to form a bucket brigade to control the fires, Rose had elbowed her way into a place on the line to help.


It was while passing along buckets on the line that the Grex next to her had saved her life. He’d suddenly dropped his bucket and knocked her to the ground, landing on top of her with his wings outspread around her, covering her head and shoulders completely. When he stood and helped her to her feet, Rose saw that he’d pushed her out of the path of a large piece of flaming debris.


She’d thanked him, trying to calm her breathing. He’d only nodded in reply and passed her the next bucket. After the eruption seemed to calm and the fires seemed to all be out, the bucket brigade had disbanded. Her savior disappeared off into another part of the village before she could even ask him his name.


Rose had been wandering the village since then, generally heading back towards the square, keeping an eye out for her friends and for anything she could do to help the Grex. For all the frantic activity amidst the ruins of the settlement, there was such a heavy feeling of resigned defeat that she could almost taste it on the air as she looked around.


Or maybe that was just the volcanic ash.


Standing still for a moment when she reached the edge of the square, she watched as the Grex began preparing to pack up their lives and move their settlement closer to the very volcano that seemed to be doing its best to kill them.


She looked around for Jack and the Doctor again. They had to do something to save these people!


“Mater?” a small voice suddenly cried somewhere near Rose’s feet. “Mater!”


She paused in her frantic search of the disorganized crowd to look down at the source of the tiny cry. A pouchling barely the size of a human toddler had found his way out into the busy main causeway near the edge of the square and was in danger of being trampled underfoot.


Rose quickly bent over and scooped him up, cradling his surprisingly light form in her arms as she straightened again. She kept him securely tucked against her shoulder as she ducked under the relative safety of one of the few tents that had remained standing.


“Mater!” he cried again, clutching his tiny arms around her neck. His wings, not yet fully developed, rested motionless beneath her hand. The left wing was swathed in a rough bandage.


She put him down on his feet once they were within the dark interior of the tent, but then knelt beside him when he reached both arms up to tug at the hem of her green coat. He latched on to her again, cuddling against her.


“Hi,” she said softly to him. “I’m Rose. What’s your name?”


“Spero,” he replied, sniffling slightly. “Where’s Mater?”


Before Rose could even begin to think of how to reply, Jack distracted her by making a dramatic entrance. He dashed into the tent, everything from his boots to his hair covered in a fine layer of brown ash. He was panting breathlessly and looking around wildly.


His eyes quickly came to rest on Rose, and he breathed a sigh of relief and seemed to calm slightly.


“There you are! Thank God you’re all right,” he said.


“It’s good to see you, too, Jack,” she replied, feeling no small amount of relief, herself. “Have you seen the Doctor?”


Jack shook his head. “Not since we got separated in the square. I was hoping you’d have found him.”


“Not yet,” Rose replied. “Found someone else, though.”


She looked down at Spero, who was still clinging to her and now seemed to be watching Jack warily.


Jack knelt beside her on the floor, meeting Spero’s gaze solemnly.


“Hi,” he said. “I’m Jack. I’m a friend of Rose’s.”


Spero seemed to consider this, and then judge Jack trustworthy by some criteria known only to him.


“I’m Spero,” he replied. “Where’s Mater?”


“Did you get separated from your Mum when the… when the mountain spirits got angry?” Rose asked him.


Spero nodded.


“She was up with Uncle Castus. When everyone started running, I couldn’t find her, or Uncle Castus, or Uncle Ales. I’m supposed to stay with them,” he explained.


Rose shared a look of sudden understanding with Jack. This, at least, was good news. If they could find Castus, Ales, or, Rose suspected, the woman she’d seen with them on the platform, they would have found Spero’s family. And, in all likelihood, the Doctor.


“All right, tell you what, Sport,” Jack said. “You stick with us, and we’ll find your Mater and your Uncles.”


Spero seemed to take Jack at his word, and proceeded to let go of Rose only to stick himself to Jack. Jack took this in stride, easily lifting the pouchling in his arms when he rose to his feet.


Rose stood to join them. “Shall we head back to the platform, or ask around here for Castus and Ales?”


“Both, I think,” Jack replied. “We can ask around in the square. Everyone seems to be busy, but someone’s bound to know where the Sacerdos is, at least.”


That decided, they left the confines of the tent and reemerged in the busy causeway. Some of the Grex rushing this way and that paused to stare at the unlikely trio. Rose supposed they had a right to stare. Two strangers in oddly colored clothing carrying a pouchling around in the aftermath of an eruption… they were certainly an odd sight.


“Excuse me, have you see Castus?” she asked one woman who seemed to pay more attention to them than the others. “Or Ales? We’re trying to get Spero here back to his family.”


“I don’t know where the acolytes are,” the woman replied. “But the Sacerdos at least is probably meditating in the Shrine, trying to appease the Mountain spirits. You don’t look familiar… are you with that stranger who angered the spirits?”


Despite her helpful answer, the woman was clearly not a fan. Rose thanked her but didn’t admit to knowing the Doctor. The woman lost her interest in them when she was distracted by another Grex carrying a pack basket and asking her which blankets to bring along.


Leaving her arguing with the other man, Rose and Jack made their escape.


“Okay, which way to the Shrine, Spero?” Jack asked his passenger.


Spero looked around, clearly considering the layout of his home from the new vantage point which Jack’s height afforded him.


“It’s that way,” he finally replied, pointing across the square.


They set off, their way mostly clear since most of the Grex were busy elsewhere in the village. The square was nearly empty now.


Rose watched a couple of older pouchlings chase each other across her path, unsurprised when an adult voice called after them in exasperation. Children were children, winged or otherwise, and that made Rose smile.


But watching the short interaction also made her think. These people clearly cared greatly about their young and their families. How had Spero wound up alone even before the eruption? Didn’t his mother care?


“Spero,” she asked him. “Did your Mum leave you with someone when she went up to Uncle Castus?”


Spero gave her a guilty look, which eloquently answered Rose’s question.


“Did you run away?” Jack guessed.


“Maybe,” Spero replied reluctantly. “Mater told her friend to watch me. But I don’t like her! She smells funny.”


Jack was clearly trying to hide a smile and sound stern as he said, “You’ll have to apologize to her next time you see her. It wasn’t nice to run away.”


“I know,” Spero admitted in a small voice. “I didn’t mean to get lost.”


“It’s okay, Spero,” Rose replied. “We’ll find your family.”


“Look,” Jack said then. “Isn’t that your Uncle Ales?”


And, in fact, there was Ales, standing just outside one of the more solid looking buildings near the other end of the square. He noticed them a moment later, his eyes widening in surprise and relief.


“Spero! Where have you been?” he cried, rushing forward to accept Spero from Jack.


Spero wrapped his small arms around his uncle’s neck and replied, “I’m okay, Uncle Ales. I was lost, but Rose and Jack found me.”


Ales gave Rose a suspicious look.


“I found him in the street on the other side of the square,” Rose told him.


“He said you were his uncle,” Jack added.


“I am,” Ales said, hugging Spero tighter. “His mother is my younger sister, Avia.”


“Where’s Mater?” Spero asked him.


“I don’t know, Spero,” Ales admitted. “Nobody has seen her since the spirits were angered.”


With this pronouncement he glared at Rose and Jack again, as if this were their fault.


“No one has seen your friend, the Doctor, either,” he added, his voice implying that his sister’s disappearance was clearly thus the Doctor’s fault, as well.


Rose was about to reply to these accusations when a familiar voice called out from inside the nearby building.


“Ales!” It was Castus, and he sounded stressed. “Ales, have you heard the reports yet?”


“Come on, Spero,” Ales said, turning to enter the building.


Spero gave Rose a helpless look over his uncle’s shoulder before they disappeared inside.


“Well, he didn’t say not to follow him in,” Jack pointed out.


“No, he didn’t!” Rose agreed.


They shared grim smiles, and followed Ales into the building.


The interior was dark and sparsely decorated except for a sprawling mural depicting Mons Vitae that took up an entire wall. Small pots of incense and what looked to be offerings of unsurprisingly brown flowers lined the base of the wall with the mural. There were no windows. There was however a door on the opposite wall, probably leading to the rest of the small building.


This, apparently, was the Shrine.


Seated around the room on floor pallets were three people Rose recognized, and four that she didn’t. The only one who looked happy to see her and Jack was Spero, who was sitting on Ales’s lap.


Ales was seated next to Castus, who glared stonily across the room at them.


“You must be the other strangers Ales mentioned. Why are you still here? Haven’t you done enough?” he accused them. “Ales, tell them what you just told us.”


“I was outside to get the casualty and damage reports,” Ales said. “There was yet more damage to several of the remaining buildings, and we lost another cache of food stores. It burned. And over two hundred people were injured. At least eleven have died, including two pouchlings!”


“This is what your blasphemy has brought upon us!” Castus snarled. “This sacrilegious Doctor of yours has apparently even led one of my acolytes astray on a fool’s mission!”


At this revelation, Spero wiggled himself free of Ales’s grip and scampered over to Castus. “Uncle Castus! Where’s Mater!” he insisted, sounding as distressed as he looked.


Castus’s expression softened as he accepted Spero onto his lap. Looking down at him, he replied, “I don’t know, pouchling. But I fear that she’s run off with this Doctor. They’ve both disappeared.”


Spero turned to look up at Rose and Jack, and Rose felt her heart contract at the sheer desperation on his small face.


“Did your friend disappear Mater?” he asked them.


“I don’t think he ‘disappeared’ her, Spero,” Jack replied.


“He might have gone somewhere with her, though, to help her,” Rose added. “He does that. Helps people.”


She addressed the last to Castus, who was glowering again.


“The Grex do not need help such as he can give us,” the priest insisted. “We know what we must do. No mysterious ‘proof’ to be found on the Mountain will change that.”


“Is that where they went?” Rose asked, reading between the lines of what Castus had said. “Did Avia go up the mountain with the Doctor to find proof of what he told you in the square?”


“There is no proof!” Castus shouted, startling Spero off his lap. Sparing an apologetic glance for the pouchling, he continued in a normal tone of voice, “My niece has always had many unconventional ideas. I suspect she was too easily swayed by your friend’s seductive untruths, and I fear for her.”


Spero had allowed Ales to pick him up again, and was now huddled miserably in his uncle’s lap. He gave Rose another desperate look, as if he was still silently pleading with her to find his mother.


“We don’t think they are untruths,” Rose said quietly. “We truly believe you are all in danger from the poisonous gasses in the mountain, and we only want to help.”


“I do not want to hear any more of this,” Castus replied firmly. “We neither want nor need your help. Please leave.”


“All right,” Jack agreed, a belligerent edge in his voice. “We’ll leave. But we’ll be going up the mountain to look for our friend and Spero’s Mater.”


Castus sighed, suddenly looking tired.


“I should probably stop you,” he said, “if only to keep you from angering the spirits any further. But part of me only wishes for the safe return of my niece, and we will be traveling up the mountain ourselves soon enough. You may go, but remember this: your blasphemy has already hurt many of us. If I find that you have made things any worse, I will do what I must to protect my people.”


Rose quickly glanced at Jack, seeing resolve in his eyes to match her own.


“We understand,” she told Castus.


Exchanging a round of grave nods with the assembled Grex, Rose and Jack turned to leave the Shrine.


Just before she stepped through the doorway, Rose turned back to try to catch one last glimpse of Spero.


He was watching her, a look of trusting hope on his face. Rose tried put as much reassurance as she could into her own replying look before stepping out of sight.


Once outside, she spared a moment to throw her arms around Jack and hold on tightly.


“Didn’t get a chance to do this before,” she explained. “I was worried when I couldn’t find you.”


“Me, too, Rosie,” he replied, hugging her back. “But you know I’m always fine. I’m indestructible.”


She pulled back from him slightly to reply, “Yeah, I know about that, not that I really understand it. But it doesn’t mean I’m not still gonna worry when you’re in trouble.”


He looked evasive, perhaps uncomfortable about her reminding him that she didn’t understand his immortality. He’d been extraordinarily reluctant to discuss such a hugely important aspect of his life during the past two weeks, which had only left her more curious.


Oddly, the Doctor had been just as reluctant to speak of it. There was clearly something important going on which they felt the need to keep secret from her, and Rose was determined to get to the bottom of it in due time. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust them, just that she knew they were uncomfortable about it and hoped to ease their minds somehow once she understood the problem.


“Thanks,” Jack replied, apparently deciding to ignore her curiosity. “I worry about you, too.”


She silently squeezed him in reply, hoping that he was taking as much comfort from the hug as she was. She would leave her mission to understand his immortality for another day. They had other priorities at the moment.


They separated with a mutual sigh a short while later.


“So how are we going to do this?” she asked him then. “We don’t know which way they went, and that mountain isn’t exactly small. Can you scan for them?”


Jack was already opening the leather casing of the computer he always kept strapped to his wrist.


“I can track Mr. Spock’s biosignature,” he told her with a grin.


“Can you really do that?” came a voice from behind them.


They whirled to look. It was Ales, standing just beside the open doorway to the Shrine.


“Can you.. track them somehow? Find your friend and my sister?” he asked.


“We can,” Jack replied. “Easily.”


Ales shook his head. “I don’t understand. But Castus has given me permission to go with you as a guide. I think I may know where my sister has gone.”


“We’d appreciate your help,” Rose told him before Jack could respond in the negative as his facial expression caused her to believe he would. He grumbled under his breath instead.


“We should leave as soon as possible,” Ales replied, ignoring Jack. “If she’s going where I think she must be, she’s already halfway there. It must be almost an hour since I last saw her in the square.”


“Fine with me,” Jack agreed, glancing at his wrist computer again. “I’ll follow you as long as your directions agree with mine.”


Ales looked ready to argue, and Rose tried to defuse the situation.


“We want to help find Avia, too, Ales. We promised Spero. But we need to find our friend, and Jack’s computer is the best way for us to do that,” she tried to explain.


“I don’t know what a ‘computer’ is or how you made that box of yours appear, or even who you really are. You don’t even look much like Grex. But I don’t care. I just want to find my sister!” Ales said impatiently.


“We understand,” Rose replied sympathetically. “We’re anxious, too.”


“So let’s get going!” Jack interjected brusquely. “Standing around here talking about it isn’t going to find anyone.”


Rose tried to catch Jack’s eye as the trio set off towards the edge of the village nearest to the mountain. He avoided her gaze until she reached out and put a hand on his arm.


The look she saw in his eyes then was three parts determination and one part hidden worry. She tried to tone her own disapproving look down into one of understanding and reassurance.


This protective, single-minded soldier was a side of Jack she was familiar with from their original travels, but he seemed to have gained a harsher disposition since then. She squeezed his arm gently, and was glad to see his expression soften.


“Sorry,” he mumbled quietly as they walked.


“S’okay, I’m worried, too,” she replied, also pitching her voice quietly so Ales wouldn’t hear.


“We’ll find him,” Jack reassured her.


Rose nodded in reply, and dropped her hand from his arm.


“I think she went this way!” Ales called from just ahead of them. He was pointing up a pathway that led out of the settlement, and towards one side of the mountain.


Jack checked his computer, and nodded. “Looks good,” he reported.


“We’ll find them both,” Rose said decisively, a small part of her hoping that saying it was enough to make it so.


They followed Ales out of the village and into the harsh landscape of the mountain’s slope.



The edge of the village, a moment later…


Spero stood on the outskirts of the village, watching as his new friends Rose and Jack made their way up the Mountain.


Uncle Ales was with them, and that was good. He knew the Mountain, and was always telling stories about how he and Mater had explored it when they were little more than pouchlings. That was before the spirits had turned from the Grex, of course.


Spero didn’t really understand the world of the spirits. It was part of his daily life, being the son of one acolyte and the nephew of another, with his great uncle the Sacerdos himself. He knew a lot about the rituals and about meditation, but he wasn’t sure he understood why the Mountain was angry, or what Uncle Castus was planning to do about it.


The Mountain had been angry for as long as he could remember, so he wasn’t even sure if it had something to do with him or with the ancestors, Those-Who-Came-Before. He tried to be good most of the time, anyway, just in case.


But sometimes he did things, like run away from Mater’s funny-smelling friend. He’d done that twice today. He was sorry for the first time, but not for the second. Uncle Ales had gone with Rose and Jack, and Uncle Castus had told him to stay with the funny-smelling lady, who’d wanted him to follow her back to her home. But Spero wanted to help find his Mater.


Spero figured that the Mountain spirits wouldn’t mind him looking for his Mater. One thing Spero knew was that family was important, and the spirits were pleased when families worked together and helped each other.


He’d seen Uncle Ales leading Rose and Jack out of the square when he’d been carried out of the Shrine by the smelly-lady. So he’d insisted that he could walk by himself, and then snuck away from her for the second time that day.


He’d ducked into the crowd and hurried after Uncle Ales and Rose and Jack, trying to keep out from underfoot amongst the busy people. It wasn’t as hard to keep up with them once they reached the outskirts of the village, since there were less people around to get in his way or stop him to ask why he was walking around alone.


It wasn’t hard to hide from those he was following. They weren’t looking behind them at all.


So he followed them all the way to edge of the village, but there he paused as he watched them start up the slope.


Mater had told him never to leave the village alone. It was dangerous, she’d said. He could get lost.


But wasn’t Mater already lost? And he wouldn’t be alone, after all, he’d be following Uncle Ales. And Rose and Jack.


He wasn’t sure why he liked and trusted Rose and Jack so much, he hadn’t even really thought about it. They were just nice. They’d helped him when he was lost and afraid. They were going up the Mountain to look for Mater. He trusted them.


Spero stepped beyond the boundaries of the village without another thought and hurried after the trio ahead of him.


Tags: doctor who, fic, ficathon, veritas in fabula
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