A/N: This idea has been rattling around in my head for quite some time. It's set during the events of Doctor Who season 10 and directly after the events of Rogue One. I hope you enjoy.
The door to the Tardis clicked solidly shut. The Doctor's hand lingered – it was good to be back, strange after all this time – before he pulled away. Yet everything was just as he'd left it, a welcoming sight that wouldn't quite chase away the memories of his recent ordeal, but it would help.
Bill greeted him when he entered. She jumped up from her seat, the relief evident on her face.
"Did you find him? Do you know where he's gone?"
The Doctor approached the console and at his touch, the Tardis purred. He looked up at Bill. Excitable, strong, human Bill. She was still relatively new to the Tardis, she still had that naiveté all of his companions had had at the beginning. How long it would last with her, he couldn't say. He thought she would break after their run-in with the Daleks, but she hadn't. Not even after the days she'd been forced to wait in the Tardis for his return. Days for her. Months for him.
"Oh, I've found him," the Doctor said. He turned several knobs on the Tardis console, his dexterous hands working on automatic. "And I know right where he's going to be. So are you ready to get some answers?"
Bill's face lit up in that way it always did at the promise of adventure. It didn't matter that he'd left her waiting. All that mattered was the here and now.
The Doctor threw a lever and the Tardis began to dematerialize. It made that sound he loved so much.
Bill held onto the console. She didn't notice the Doctor's gaze harden just a fraction. He didn't tell her about the times the Daleks had nearly killed him. The time they had taken him prisoner while Bill waited.
All she knew was that they were searching for a man. An alien with the face of a human who had destroyed over a dozen Daleks with a single flick of his wrist. An alien whose only alias was the Sorcerer.
Desric Vosh did not want to die. His hands trembled, gripping the blaster rifle to his chest. Sweat gleamed on his brow from the tropical sun and his heart pounded against his ribs. He took shots whenever he could, from behind the cover of the trees. It was not his first battle. And just as in the battles before, his wife's face was in the forefront of his mind.
In every battle, there was chaos. Soldiers he'd shared a meal with mere hours before died. And in every battle, he was convinced he would not survive and he thought of Daemora. Pictured her beautiful dark skin, her hair pulled up so it would be out of the way as she performed maintenance on the droid her family had given her. As always, he focused on her, on her smile, and promised her that he would survive and come home.
Whether it was luck or fate or the Force, that promise had always held true.
In the distance, the trees trembled, bent. An AT-ACT walker emerged from the jungle and he clenched his teeth, forced himself to think of Daemora.
I promise you I will return. He stepped out from his cover and opened fire on the death troopers. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something explode against the AT-ACT's armor with no effect. He forced himself to ignore it, to focus on the ground troops.
They returned fire. Blaster bolts streaked past, hitting the trees, burning the air around him and still all he saw was Daemora.
A blaster shot hit him in the shoulder, twisting him to the side. He gasped, tears springing to his eyes, and swung his rifle around one-handed, fired several more shots.
Another bolt hit him in the thigh and a third immediately after got him in the ribs. He went down. The rifle clattered into the underbrush. Desric sucked in a quick breath, the places where he'd been hit burning as if they were on fire. His feet scrabbled on the ground, but he couldn't find his rifle. His vision was blurry.
"Daemora," he breathed. Her laugh was the most beautiful thing he'd ever heard. He had to get back to her. He searched blindly for his rifle even as a figure loomed over him. He kicked at the ground, tried to get up but pain lanced through him and he hissed.
A hand settled on his shoulder and a sudden coolness enveloped him.
"Shhh," the figure said. Desric swallowed, blinked to clear his eyes. It was not a death trooper who stood above him but simply a man. Old and bearded, dressed in plain clothing. A civilian? But Scarif was a military research facility.
Desric lurched and immediately collapsed with a cry. Where was that damn rifle? There. A shape in the brush. Desric went for it.
"It won't do any good," the man said. "You're injured. You can't even stand."
Desric checked the rifle but it was undamaged. "Out of my way, old man." He tried to stand again, leaning heavily against a tree. The man grabbed his arm and his shoulder flared.
"It will make no difference," the man said and the intensity in his voice forced Desric's gaze to meet his. "You die either way."
Desric refused to believe that. He had a promise to keep.
The man's eyes were weary as if he'd seen much. He let go and Desric collapsed back against the tree. He caught a glimpse of the battle and the reason why no more death troopers had come after him. A lone soldier was in their midst, fighting for all he was worth. It reminded him of the elaborate graffiti he'd seen on run-down structures in the outer rim worlds, images of brave warriors facing off against a faceless, tyrannical enemy, images that would get you arrested if you were caught making them. He turned back to the old man. Desric was trembling, probably from shock.
"What are you doing here?" As far as he could see, the man didn't even have a weapon.
"I came to meet someone," the man said. "I wanted to show him something."
Desric held onto his rifle like a lifeline. "Show him what?"
The man waved a hand as if to encompass the battle, the Citadel Tower, all of it. "I am truly sorry." He started to walk backward, retreating. "The thing is, I could do something about this. But I'm not going to and for that, I'm sorry." He turned his back on Desric.
"Wait!" Desric shouted. "Come back here." He started forward, too quick, not heeding his injuries. His leg gave out and he fell to one knee. The old man soon disappeared into the jungle.
In the opposite direction of where the man had gone, the death troopers were dead. The remnants of a cargo shuttle burned brightly, thick smoke billowing into the air. And above it all, pale and looming, dwarfing the fighters which scattered in its presence, was the newly completed Death Star.
The Tardis materialized on the beach of a small world that in any other time would have been a paradise. If not for the warning lights on the console which signaled multiple weapons fire in the vicinity.
"It looks like a war zone," Bill said when the Doctor pulled up the Tardis' camera feed. It showed fighters swooping in from the skies, streams of light streaking through the air, smoke billowing up from the trees. Much larger vessels pale behind the light blue sky.
"It is a war zone," the Doctor replied grimly. It was nothing new. He had seen more than his share of wars.
"But why would he come here? It's not exactly idyllic."
"I'll just have to go and ask him then, won't I?" Another question to add to the list. It was an important question. He'd ask it first. No, he'd ask it after the Dalek one.
"Wait, wait, wait. Don't you mean we?"
And there it was.
Bill crossed her arms. "You were gonna leave me here."
"'Cause we know how well that goes." She threw up her hands. "I thought we were over that. What's the point in traveling around in time and space if I don't get to see any of it?"
The Doctor sighed. "There is a battle out there. A dangerous place for a meeting. I'll be right back."
"Doctor." Bill moved to stand between him and the door.
"No. We all know where this is going. You walk out that door and I'm following you anyway." And here she raised one defiant eyebrow that reminded the Doctor of why he'd invited her on his adventures in the first place.
The Doctor raised a finger as if to make a counter argument, but nothing came. She would definitely follow him. "Fine. But don't wander off and thing's get messy, run back to the Tardis."
Humans. It seemed that all of his companions from his last few regenerations were terrible when it came to taking orders.
It was surprisingly calm on the beach when they stepped out onto the sand. It wasn't until they headed into the jungle that they saw the bodies. Soldiers in black or white body armor, others in plainclothes or uniforms.
"Don't look at them," the Doctor said and this time, Bill obeyed without argument, an ill expression on her face. The Doctor himself didn't spare a single glance at the bodies. It wasn't anything he hadn't seen before. And the memories that came with them – the burned out husks of soldiers, the razed cities, the electronic battle cries of hordes of Daleks, entire Tardis fleets destroyed – were forcefully kept at bay.
He appeared from the trees then, having expected them. An old man with a beard, deceptively harmless. But the Doctor had seen him destroy Daleks as if they were nothing. It was the second time he had seen such a thing and he knew what had caused the first. He was determined to know the man's secret.
"Right on time, Doctor," the Sorcerer said, as casual as if they were taking a stroll through the park, not standing amidst so much carnage.
"Well, it is a time machine. But you already knew that. Just as I'm sure you know why I'm here."
"Oh, I know why you're here. The Dalek thing, yes? It's a very neat trick, I should say."
"A trick, was it?" He hated it when people tried to act cleverer than him.
"A simple matter of quantum manipulation. But I did not save your life for the mere sake of it."
The Doctor scoffed. The thought of anyone saving him was absolutely ludicrous.
"I have no doubt you would have figured a way out of your predicament eventually. No, I did that to get your attention. I wanted to show you something."
"That was quite a dramatic way of getting my attention. You couldn't just call?"
The Sorcerer's lip quirked upward. "Look up."
As irritating as this person was, the Doctor's greatest weakness was curiosity. He looked up.
The sky was pale, clear, a pair of looming ships coming apart and raining debris down on the planet. He would have loved to use the Tardis' databanks to identify them. Only that wasn't what the man had brought them here to show them. No, for a second later, there was something else in the sky. Something so vast, the largest of the other vessels were mere specks in comparison. It was perfectly round and gray, with a large crater housing some sort of focusing lens and it didn't take a genius to guess what it was for.
"A weapon that size could destroy entire planets," the Doctor murmured. "That's what you wanted to show me? Surely with your skills, you could take out something like that in a heartbeat."
"That's just the thing. I'm not going to."
"What do you mean you're not going to?"
"It is not within my capacity to do anything about it. The Daleks? Those were nothing. This? This is something else entirely. Imagine the destructive power that thing wields. Imagine an entire fleet of them. That's what you're up against and more."
"So what, you hiring us for a job or something and you're not even gonna help?" Bill said, switching her attention between the Sorcerer and the ominous sight above.
"Like I said, I cannot help you with this. I've shown you the weapon. Now it's on you."
"Are you kidding me? You can't just –"
"Bill." The Doctor's voice came out sounding far too calm.
"What. You're okay with this?"
"No, I'm not. But I've seen something like this before, a long time ago. If there's any possibility of a fleet of them out there somehow, we need to check it out."
"That's more like it," the Sorcerer said.
That's when the Death Star fired its laser at the planet. Beside the Doctor, Bill gasped. The laser struck the tower beyond the trees and it shattered and the whole world seemed to rip itself apart. The sky began to glow orange like the sunset.
"Run," the Doctor said. "Run!"
Bill didn't hesitate. The two of them crashed through the trees, reckless, the horizon behind them rising up in a great wave. Trees creaked and strained against the wind. A fighter lost control and careened into the jungle. The place was shaking itself apart and anyone caught by that weapon would be incinerated.
They emerged onto the beach. They were close enough to the Tardis so Bill stopped and the Doctor almost ran off without her if she hadn't shouted at him.
"Bill, what are you doing?" He ran back to her. By his estimates, they had less than a minute to escape.
"When we get in that Tardis, where are we going? What are you planning?" Her eyes were wide with fear.
"It doesn't matter. We're escaping. Now let's go."
Still, she didn't budge. "The people here…do you even know why they were fighting? And the survivors. Did they survive just to be killed by that thing?"
"It's a small world, Bill. A military base, by the looks of it. There's no one here to save."
"So you're not even gonna try? Go back in time and stop that thing being built or something?"
"It doesn't work like that." They were running out of time. A great wave was moving across the ocean, coming straight for them.
"It just doesn't." Why did humans so often insist on saving everyone? "The soldiers came here to die. There's no one here to save."
Bill looked on the verge of tears though he was sure it was from the terror.
"Just save someone!" The Doctor winced at the memory of Donna's plea.
"We're out of time."
The horizon was almost upon them.
Just as the Doctor reached the Tardis, two figures appeared farther down the beach.
It was beautiful, really. The way the sky glowed orange and then white. Mesmerizing. As far as last sights went, it wasn't bad.
"Your father would have been proud of you, Jyn."
The horizon, a wall of sea and bright light rushed toward them. Jyn held onto Cassian tightly but she couldn't break her gaze away. It was so hypnotic and she trembled. At least she would see her father again.
That's when two figures came to stand between her and her death.
"Come with us if you want to live," said the taller of the two, a gray-haired man with an outstretched hand and the fury of a thousand suns in his eyes.