Title: To Defeat A Legend
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Twelfth Doctor
Spoilers: Mummy on the Orient Express
Summary: The Doctor is faced with a deadly mystery to unravel.
Word Count: 588
Disclaimer: I don’t own Doctor Who, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
A/N: Dialogue is borrowed from the episode.
The legend of the Foretold has been around over five thousand years. It tells of an ancient mummy that can only be seen by its victims; once you see it, you have exactly sixty six seconds to live, not a second more or less. It can’t be bribed or bargained with, running does no good, there’s no way to escape it; from the moment you see it, you’re doomed.
It’s a creepy tale, as is the case with most legends, and more importantly, every word of it is true. To make matters worse, the Foretold is not only real, it’s here, aboard the train that’s carrying a disparate group of experts from every field of study imaginable through the depths of space. The Foretold is picking them off one by one, and the Doctor is fascinated. There’s nothing like having a good mystery to unravel.
Second-hand information is all he has to work with, because he can’t see the mummy himself; he has to rely on what the victims can tell him before their sixty six seconds are up, and it’s not much. People who are about to die tend to get a bit distracted by trying to bargain for their lives, for all the good it does them. Which is to say, none at all.
The fact that it’s able to teleport indicates the presence of technology. It’s so frustrating! The Doctor wants to see what he’s dealing with, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. All he’d need would be a minute and he’s positive he could solve the mystery of the Foretold once and for all! But because he’s the Doctor, and he’s brilliant, he finds a way to make it happen.
It’s simple really; scan the next victim, record all of her mental and emotional trauma, download it into his own head, and hello mummy!
“I'm so pleased to finally see you. I'm the Doctor and I will be your victim this evening. Are you my mummy?”
The Foretold is right there before him in all its ragged glory; to the Doctor, it’s beautiful. All he needs now is to put everything together, and it’s obvious! Stupid, stupid, stupid! He can't believe it took him so long to figure this out; maybe the effects of his last regeneration are still lingering.
The last soldier in a war that should have ended millennia ago, forced to go on fighting because he can’t die; not completely, not until the war is finally over. And it’s never going to be over, because none of the Foretold’s victims know what it wants. But the Doctor does.
The knowledge of what it is he’s facing provides the solution, and the legend is defeated by two simple words: “We surrender.”
Only it’s not really defeat, it’s release from the endless torment that has been this soldier’s lot for more than five thousand years. It’s long past time that he was allowed to rest in peace and that’s a gift the Doctor gladly grants. With a final salute, the mummified soldier crumbles into dust, its duty discharged at long last. All that is left among the ragged bandages is a small piece of tech, the machine responsible for unnaturally extending the soldier’s existence beyond physical death.
Sometimes, if you’re either very lucky or very clever (and the Doctor likes to think that he’s both), learning the truth behind a legend can enable it to be destroyed. And sometimes, that destruction is the blessing that ends a curse.