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The Time War Drabbles

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“General Kaerzet?”


“Our scouts have detected a Dalek vessel drifting into our system.”

“Daleks?” The general abandoned her reports and joined the junior officer. “Life signs?”

“None ma’am. Maybe it’s a wreck leftover from a previous war?”

“We don’t deal in maybes here, Veglas. Destroy it.”

“But ma’am, if it’s a derelict there may be salvageable technology still onboard. Given what happened to the Monans-“

“It could provide a significant advantage.” Kaerzet sighed. “Fine. Send a squadron to check it out. And alert the Time Lords! I don’t want the CIA accusing us of failing to share information again.”

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Romana watched President Livia’s speech on the Warpwrights situation from her office. “Narvin, have we confirmed that only two Phaidonian warp ships are trying to travel to Gallifrey?”

“Our spies and long-range sensors agree on that point.”

She nodded. “Was there something else?”

“It’s time for your visit to the War Council.”

Romana groaned. “I dread spending a day with General Trave, but if it gets us a list of the locations and purposes of their secret development facilities, I’ll suffer through it.” She stood and smoothed her robes. “Let’s hope he actually keeps up his end of the bargain.”

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Leela didn’t like sneaking into a secret military facility, breaking several laws and potentially the trust of the War Council. But Romana insisted it was important and Leela trusted her with her life. Entering the coordinates into the console, Leela felt a shiver of excitement. When she’d first traveled with the Doctor, everything about the Time Lords seemed magical. So much had changed since then.

The TARDIS landed and Leela stepped out into the Death Zone. It was ages since she’d visited this place too but, unlike her memories of the Doctor, it brought no excitement or joy for her.

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“We can’t let the War Council get away with this! It’s…an abomination!”

“We all agree on that Narvin, but there’s very little we can do about it at the moment.” Romana rolled her eyes. “Would you please stop pacing and sit down? You’re making me tired.”

“Romana is right.” Leela patted Narvin’s arm as he sat beside her. “We are lucky to have our freedom. We must use it to watch and plan.”

“That’s another thing! Livia could have gotten rid of all of us. Why didn’t she?” Narvin frowned. “They’re up to something.”

Romana sighed. “When aren’t they?”

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Braxiatel looked at the universe and didn’t like what he saw.

There had been skirmishes with the Daleks in the past, but something was different this time. Many of the Temporal Powers had been wiped out already and, if steps weren’t taken soon, Gallifrey might meet the same fate. Luckily he had a plan, one he’d prepared over a decade ago for just such an eventuality. All he needed was Romana’s permission to visit the Obscura and a fellow agent to accompany him.

“Ace,” Braxiatel smiled smugly as she entered his office, “how would you feel about a suicide mission?”

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“She’ll never go for this-“

“She will, trust me.”

Ace glanced over at him. “Have you told Romana more than you’ve told me?”

“No,” Brax sniffed dismissively. “But the Coordinator knows when to trust my judgement.”

Ace snorted. “She’s humoring you, more like. Were you serious about the suicide mission bit?”

“It is very risky, but you’ve never been afraid of danger, have you Ace?”

“Seems like everything is dangerous these days.”

“So we’re agreed?”

Ace sighed. “I suppose. What’ve I got to lose anyway?”

Brax smiled at her and settled into a conference room chair to wait. “What indeed?”

Chapter Text

The Doctor was repairing his TARDIS console when an alarm blared.

“A message?” He looked closer. “From Gallifrey? What do they want now? ’From Livia, President of’…blah blah blah…’following the Daleks’ unprovoked attack on the Warpwrights of Phaidon, an official state of war exists between our two great civilizations.’” He snorted. “Only the Time Lords could turn a declaration of war into a lecture about their importance. ’This endeavor demands the participation of every Time Lord wherever they may be.’ Wait…is this…a draft notice?"

"No,” the Doctor hurriedly altered the TARDIS’s communication circuits, “I think not.”

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“That should keep the Time Lords from being able to recall my TARDIS.” The Doctor reviewed his repairs one last time before setting new coordinates. “I wonder if they’ve contacted the other renegades? The Master, the Monk, the Rani, the Corsair…”

A loud knocking sound interrupted his reverie. The Doctor frowned as he walked to the doors. “That came from outside of the TARDIS, which really shouldn’t happen.” When he opened them, a small, glowing box zoomed inside. Snagging the hypercube out of the air, he listened to the message.

“‘Following the Daleks’ unprovoked attack on the Warpwrights of Phaidon…’”

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“They’re persistent, I’ll give them that.” The Doctor placed the box against his forehead. “A Time War will devastate all of reality,” he said, recording his psychic message, “killing billions of innocent, sentient beings in the process. I refuse to take part in that. Instead I’ll do what I’ve always done: try to help the people caught between you and the Daleks.” With a flick of his wrist, he sent the hypercube on its way.

Closing the door, the Doctor went back to the console. Then he froze. “If they’re calling in everyone, that could mean…oh no, not Susan!”

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As Ace wandered through the dark corridors of Obscura Station, she understood why people thought the place was haunted. The station’s outer shell creaked as it battled the forces of the Obscura, which was creepy enough; add to that the sense of disuse and decay inside and the knowledge that one look outside would bring instantaneous madness and death, and you had all the makings of a nightmare.

“Like a Gabriel Chase in space,” Ace shivered, “complete with a creature chained up in the basement. I dunno how Danna survived here for so long with only dying Daleks for company.”

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“Hiya Danna!”

The old soldier barely glanced up as Ace walked into Engineering. “Decided to show up, did you? Not that I need help, but your commanding officer gave you an order-“

“Brax isn’t my commander. We’re more…partners.”

Danna laughed. “That doesn’t sound like the Brax I know. If you’re staying, that bit could use rewiring-“

“Right.” Ace sat down and got to work. “So, what was Brax like when he was younger?”

“Irving was always very focused. Driven, almost, but by what…well, his motives were never entirely clear. Not to me.”

“No change then?”

Danna chuckled. “Indeed.”

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Ace struggled to repair the TARDIS scanner. There was a buzz of static followed by the sound of Brax’s voice. “Here’s hoping for audio without visuals.” Getting to her feet, she risked a quick look at the screen. It was black and Ace sighed with relief. “What’s he playing at? It sounds like he’s talking to himself-”

“I choose to live this life, fight this war,” Brax’s voice ranted through speakers, “and I’m going to see it through! Shape it or escape it, I have absolutely no idea! But if I pull this trigger there’s none of that for me!”

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CIA report 875AlphaGamma from Agent Irving Braxiatel to Deputy Coordinator Narvin:

Attempted to acquire an ancient weapon inside the region of space known as the Obsura and turn it against an advancing Dalek fleet. Although the attempt ultimately failed, several Dalek ships were destroyed and the breach in space-time was sealed. Two CIA assets were lost in the ensuing battle: Lady Danna Demencha and Dorothy “Ace” McShane. Both died with honor in defense of Gallifrey and her people.

Will continue to explore for other sources of weapons and information in the Outer Rim. Advise continued caution and vigilance. Invasion imminent.

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The TARDIS landed in clearing in the woods near Mitchel Troy. Moments later the doors slid open and Braxiatel emerged carrying Ace in his arms.

“Such a lovely place, a balm after everything we’ve experienced.” He laid her gently on the grass and sat beside her. "Don’t worry Ace, you’ll be quite safe here. Earth is protected, and I’ll look in on you from time to time to make sure you’re adjusting after the…unfortunate loss of your memories. I’ll miss you, off course, as will Romana and Leela. But in this time of war we must all make sacrifices.”

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The Doctor closed the TARDIS door. “That’s the last of the chronon mines. Terrible things! I wonder if it was the Daleks or my own people who created them? Not that it matters to all the ships sent hurtling forwards or backwards in time by these little horrors.”

There was a hissing noise and the smell of ozone. Turning quickly, the Doctor spotted a small card hovering in the air over the console. He approached cautiously, leaning in to better read the swirling script. “‘The Doctor is invited to an exclusive social event. Venue unspecified, dress formal, carriages every hour…’”

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“Ms. Spritz? Where did you go?” Static buzzed over the communicator and, as the Doctor watched, the signal began fading. “No! I can’t get a fix! Tell me where you are and I’ll be right there. As I told you, I could always do with another pair of hands.”

He boosted the volume, but only heard blaster fire on the other end. Suddenly the signal stopped transmitting. The Doctor rushed to the navigation controls. “If I can find where the Party Ship was destroyed, I can track where they crashed. Come on, Old Girl! We’ve an amateur archeologist to rescue.”

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“Yes, yes, I know the plan.” The Master eyed the vessel. “There’s not much room, is there? You’re sure you can get me close to these…amphibians?”


“We both know that isn’t true,” he laughed. “I only ask because it would be quite uncomfortable to be in there for a long period of time.”


“To you perhaps.” The Master stared at the small, grey world below the Dalek ship. “Gardezza. Why here? With all of time and space on offer-”


“Of all the worlds in the cosmos…”

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“Good evening, Coordinator.”

Romana winced and gestured to the chair opposite her. “Please Leela, we’re old friends-”

“We are, but I assumed you called me here officially,” Leela sat down, “and good leaders deserve respect.”

“Glad to hear that still applies to me.” Romana leaned forward. “There’s a dangerous mission coming up and I’ve called in a specialist.”

Leela’s expression brightened. “The Doctor?”

“No. The Master.”

“You’re not serious?”

“Worse yet, I need someone to keep an eye on him. We both know he can’t be trusted.”

“I will do it,” Leela replied without hesitation. “When do we leave?”

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The Master stepped out of his TARDIS and grinned. “Home, sweet home.” A cacophony of clicks followed as the Chancellery Guard readied and aimed their stasers at him. “And here are my fellow Time Lords welcoming me in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed.” He surveyed them, unimpressed. “My, fifteen of you for one of me? Well, lead on! This Time War of yours must be going very badly indeed if someone has summoned me to Gallifrey. But take care with my TARDIS! I’ve had quite a time getting it back and I want it kept in pristine condition.”

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“You can’t do it, Leela! It’s utterly unwise, Romana should never have asked you-“

“She did not ask, Narvin. I volunteered.”

Narvin’s bluster deflated slightly. “The Master is dangerous.”

“You think I do not know that? I met him many times when I traveled with the Doctor.” Leela paused, remembering. “He killed someone I cared for…very much.”

“I’m sorry, Leela. I’ve also had run-ins with the Master,” Narvin shook his head, “but something is different about this incarnation. He’s quieter, more in control-“

“I will be careful.” She smiled at him. “Trust me.”

“I do,” he sighed, defeated. “Always.”

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“You did not have to shoot them.”

“Perhaps not.” The Master regarded the two versions of Finnian Valentine. “Drag this one over to a chair and tie him up.”

“I am not yours to command,” Leela fumed.

“We don’t have time to argue. They’ll wake up soon and I’d like to have everything ready before then.” When she didn’t move he relented. “Fine. I will assist you.”

“What do you intend?” Leela asked, as they moved the second Finnian.

“To question them, of course. You take the angry one, I’ll see what the timid one has to say for himself.”

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“Tell me what you know,” Leela pleaded. “Let me do what I can to try to stop this war.”

Finnian Valentine stared at his feet. “Promise me you won’t tell…him.”

“The Master?” Leela leaned closer. “I promise. My loyalty is to one much better than him.”

“It’s…not a weapon. It’s a power source. A nearly limitless source of energy that, if it could be harnessed, could be used in any number of ways.”

“Including ending the war?”


“Where is this source of power?”

Finnian gritted his teeth but finally gave in. “It’s on a planet called Arcking.”

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The Master closed the doors to his TARDIS and quickly moved the ship away from the war zone. “Oh Leela,” he chuckled, “even after I explained what I was going to do, you never saw it coming did you? To think Romana believed you could control me. I wonder where you’ll end up? I hope it’s somewhere that proves both painful and eventually quite deadly.” He rubbed his hands together gleefully. “If only I could see the look on the Doctor’s face when he learns you were lost in the Time War. Not knowing your fate will eat him alive.”

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“Narvin?” When he didn’t stop walking, Romana called out again. “Deputy Coordinator! I would like a word.”

He paused with obvious reluctance. “Yes, Coordinator?”

“Narvin please, we’ve been through too much together for you to give up on me now. I’m sorry about Leela.” She placed a hand on his arm as he tried to turn away. “If I’d thought she couldn’t handle the Master I wouldn’t have sent her alone. I was wrong.”

“Yes,” Narvin agreed bitterly, “you were.”

“We’ve lost nearly everyone we trust: Leela, Ace, Brax. We have to stick together. Agreed?”

Narvin studied her face. “Agreed.”

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“Please, don’t!”

The Doctor’s cries went unheard. Susan had opened the Tesseract.

He saw her eyes go blank as the message forced its way into her mind. Sighing in defeat, he gently led her to a chair and helped her sit down. “The first time they summoned me it was just a version of the President’s proclamation of war. Now their methods have become more sophisticated and manipulative.” He took Susan’s hand. “The events they’re showing you are real, but the feelings aren’t yours. Resist them, Susan!” She kept staring blankly and he sighed again. “I’ll…make you some tea.”

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Biotech Dendry’s eyes shifted nervously as he backed out of the Observation Gallery. “I’ll…go get Dr. Morrison. Please help yourself to coffee while you wait.”

“There’s a man with something to hide,” mused the Doctor. “Hardly a surprise if they’re raising and reengineering Vashta Nerada here. I wonder what they think they’re playing at?” He wandered over to a computer terminal. “Guess I’ll just have to hack into their research notes to find out. Anyway, it’ll keep me from being bored for…oh…maybe a few seconds.” The Doctor pointed his sonic screwdriver at the system. “Worth a shot.”

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Something was wrong, Dendry could feel it. The Time Lord he’d escorted in didn’t know anything about the agreement with his people’s military, in fact he seemed to find it abhorrent. Was he a spy? A subversive?

It didn’t matter really, because to Dendry he was an opportunity. The lab was empty thanks to the impending Time Lord inspection. “Come to me, my little beauties,” Dendry muttered as he extracted into canisters samples of Vashta Nerada hatchlings and versions modified to consume Dalekanium.

“I’m going to be rich.” With a grin, he triggered a computer virus. Synthesis Station went dark.

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Dr. Morrison and the Doctor hoisted the shielding panels over their heads while Ollistra squeezed in between them. The Doctor gritted his teeth. “3…2…1…move!” They shuffled forward awkwardly, toward the control cabin in the center of the overly bright laboratory.

“Ouch!” Ollistra glared with irritation over her shoulder. “Do you mind not treading all over me?”

“Move faster,” the Doctor chided. “The Nerada Vashta could be on us any moment.”

“I’m going as quickly as I can, I’m not as young as I used to be.”

“Who is?”

Eva sighed. “Do all Time Lords bicker this much?”

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The Doctor checked the coordinates. “Kalanta Prime as request. Now Ollistra, please get out of my ship.”

“There’s no need to be rude, Doctor.”

“No need? Eva, Raldon, Commander Roxita, your security detail - they’re all dead because of you.”

“The human Dendry caused this disaster, it was nothing to do with me.” She paused at the door. “Your people need you, Doctor. Come back with me to Gallifrey and help us end this war.”

“For the last time, Cardinal, I won’t help you kill people.”

“You’ll join us one day,” Ollistra whispered as the TARDIS dematerialized. “I promise you that.”

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She gestured at one of the ship's spartan but adequate staff room. “If you have any luggage, you can keep it here.”

“I like to travel light,” Dr. Foster replied. “How is the rest of the hospital laid out?”

“The cockpit and loading bay you’ve already seen.” Nyssa walked to a computer panel and brought up a schematic. “We have four treatment wards available: Adric, Tegan, Turlough, and Tremas.” She glanced at her new assistant. “Why are you smiling?”

Dr. Foster looked slightly embarrassed, as if he’d been caught out. “They’re very interesting names. Is there a story behind them?”

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“We’re approaching Reave.”

Nyssa had gotten to know Dr. Foster well over the weeks they’d worked together and she could see he was worried. “What is it?”

Foster shrugged. “It’s just odd being this close to Gallifrey, given all that’s happening with the Time War.”

“Ah.” She slipped into the co-pilot’s chair. “Did I tell you that I visited Gallifrey once?”

“Did you enjoy the trip?”

“No, but the situation was…complicated.” Nyssa closed her eyes, remembering. “I’ll tell you the whole story one day.”

“I’ll look forward to that,” the Eighth Doctor replied, turning back to the ship’s controls.

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As the Doctor slowly came back to consciousness, he heard voices nearby. Nyssa he knew instantly, but it took him a while to recognize the Reavian, Dr. Isherwood. He kept his breathing regular in the hopes of listening to their conversation unnoticed, although it was difficult; his throat felt raw from breathing in the Praxis gas and he had a throbbing headache.

“I didn’t know he was a Time Lord,” Nyssa said, sounding both miserable and guilty. The Doctor’s hearts ached for her.

It was clear Isherwood thought “Dr. Foster” was a Time Lord saboteur. He needed to be careful.

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“Do you think they’ll find her?” Nyssa asked.

“If they track her quickly.” The Doctor watched the Reavian search effort. “Otherwise ‘Dr. Isherwood’ will probably be back on Gallifrey by tomorrow.”

Nyssa couldn’t meet his eyes. “I’m so sorry for not trusting you, Dr. Foster. I should have known you’d never kill our patients or-“

“Or try to blow up the Traken?” He smiled wearily. “It’s fine, Nyssa. Given the situation, your caution was completely justified. All the same, I think it’s time for me to leave.”

“Where will you go?”

“Wherever I’m needed for as long as I can.”

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“Anyone in here? I could have sworn-“

“MedTech Griffin?”

Griffin spun toward the voice. “Doctor Keller? You nearly scared me to death!”

“Well,” the old man smiled kindly, “we wouldn’t want that.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Some of my equipment was…accidentally left onboard. Rather than bothering anyone I thought I’d collect it myself.”

“Officially only crew are supposed to be on the Anastasia while we’re docked.” She smiled back. “But since it’s you-“

“Thank you, young lady. May I tell you a secret?” He looked deeply into her eyes. “I am the Master and you will obey me.”

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The Master pulled a small device from his pocket and nodded. “This should be far enough. Stop the vehicle, MedTech Griffin.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Now, use the crane to put my TARDIS down here. Gently, my dear. It is quite hardy, but that’s no excuse to be careless.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Normally I’d pilot it here myself, but the unique properties of Arcking make that decidedly unwise.” He checked outside. “Done?”

“Yes, my Master.”

“Very good, Griffin! Now, back to the base before we’re missed.” The Master smiled. “And then you will forget all about this little excursion.”

“As you wish, Master.”

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Dr. Keller glanced at his assistant. “What’s wrong? The surgery went well, we’ve saved yet another life that could have been lost to the Time War, but you look inexplicably glum.”

Phila swallowed hard. “Do you know MedTech Griffin?”

“I can’t say I know her well. I’ve seen her around since transferring to Station 12.”

“Yesterday she put on a GravSuit and walked out onto the planet. She…hasn’t come back.”

“Oh. Oh dear, that’s worrying.”

“She’s been acting strangely for days. Keeps saying there’s something out on the surface of Arcking.”

Keller patted her shoulder. “That seems highly unlikely.”

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“One of the MediScouts from Station 27 spotted her,” Major Desra said grimly. “How long would you say Griffin’s been dead?”

“Impossible to say for sure without an autopsy.” Dr. Keller studied the corpse. “But perhaps 48 hours?”

“Right about the time she went missing.” Desra sighed. “Why would she take off the helmet of her GravSuit? The effects of the planet’s gravity would have been instantaneous and painful. Given what we’re living through I can understand wanting to die, but not that way.”

“Indeed.” Keller’s eyes twinkled. “But who knows what forces influence individuals to act as they do?”

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The differences were small at first.

The woman named Emma had been renamed four times in the last half hour, but neither she nor the Doctor had noticed. As the effects of the Time War washed over the starship Theseus, larger changes began to emerge. First the ship was a luxury cruise liner, then it was refitted to carry refugees fleeing from a war zone. Forty minutes into their visit, the woman now named Louise couldn’t remember how she’d met the Doctor because the events of that meeting were in flux.

Ten minutes later, she’d ceased to exist at all.

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Too much was happing all at the same time and most of it was horrible.

The Doctor was used to multitasking, but even he was having difficulty coping with the rapidly changing timelines. Everyone else’s memories were adjusting with the alterations as they happened, while he was able to retain his memories of rewritten events and people for a few seconds longer. Normally this was asset, just another Time Lord gift, but here on the starship Theseus it was slowing him down. How could he come up with a plan to save them if he was constantly several realities behind?

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Bliss couldn’t remember how she had gotten onboard the Theseus. She remembered the events before just fine - she’d been on a field trip with two of her classmates to study anomalies sparked by the Time War, but neither of them were with her now.

Currently she was too busy surviving her present to worry about her past. Bliss ducked and crawled under a table as the Daleks made their way through the dining hall, killing everyone they found. Something large fell nearby and she peeped out from under the tablecloth.

Cautiously, Bliss reached out and pulled the gun toward her.

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“Doctor!” Bliss stumbled forward, grabbing hold of a control panel. “Could you fly this thing in a straighter line? Everyone’s being toss about since there aren’t any chairs.”

“Daleks don’t generally need them.” The Dalek time craft veered left as the Doctor struggled with the controls. “I’ll remind you this is my first time flying one of these.”

“We’d never have guessed,” Quarren quipped, putting an arm around his wife to steady her.

Rupa clutched onto Quarren’s jacket. “How much further?”

“Not far,” the Doctor glanced at the readings, “but the landing may be a tad on the rough side.”

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“Time distortion,” the Doctor cried, clutching his head. “Everyone back inside the ship, now!” He took a step and nearly collapsed.

Bliss caught him. “Here, help me with him.”

“I’ve got his other arm,” Rupa said, joining her.

“Everyone,” Quarren yelled to the other survivors who were frozen in panic, “this way. Hurry!”

They rushed for the ship, giving the damaged Dalek a wide berth. Lights flashed above them as a large ship entered the planet’s atmosphere and broke apart.

“Is that,” Quarren stopped to gape, “was that the Theseus?”

Around them, the jungle withered and died - aged to death.

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Leaving the Maguires by the crashed ship, the Doctor scouted a way through the jungle. “Ah, interesting,” he observed, pausing to study the vaguely humanoid forms moving through the vegetation. Explosions and weapon’s fire broke the silence, the sounds muffled like that of a distant storm.

“The War?” Bliss stopped beside him. “It’s still here after all.” She stepped back, startled, as armed figures stepped onto the path and marched toward them.

“Not exactly.” He reached for his sonic screwdriver but stopped, remembering it wouldn’t work here.

The soldiers walked through the Doctor and Bliss before fading back into nothingness.

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“This is a bad idea.” Jefferson glanced ahead where Bliss and the Doctor walked on either side of the damaged Dalek. “It could kill us all any moment.”

“From what little I understand, this whole place could do that at any time.” Rupa gestured at the jungle. “There are…pockets of time around us. Some are stable; some-”

“Aren’t,” her husband finished, as the plants beside the path died, only to grow anew in seconds.

“Still, I’d feel better knowing what the Doctor had in mind.” Jefferson looked at Quarren. “You seem pretty tight with him. Why don’t you ask?”

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“No,” the Doctor agreed. He and Quarren lowered Jefferson's body to the ground in front of the Dalek. Quarren quickly backed away, but his eyes never left Dal. “This man died quite suddenly and under odd circumstances. Dal, can you detect a cause of death?”


“I thought technology wouldn't work here,” Bliss whispered.

“People like Dal,” the Doctor paused, considering how to phrase it, “have significant temporal shielding. Assuming his sensors are still functioning, he’ll be able to tell us something.”

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The Doctor woke to a bout of vertigo. He was hanging upside down at the top of a tree with no memory of how he’d gotten there. His body swung, the ground blurred beneath him. Wrenching his gaze upward, he spotted hairy, multi-limbed creatures all around him. Two gripped his feet and were carrying him through the canopy.

“Bliss? Rupa?” But there was no answer. “Not here. Well, this could have gone better.”

Sounds of battle bloomed around him. The creatures were carrying him into the remnants of the Time War.

“No, no, no! Not here, not now. Stop, please!”

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“Let go of me!” Rupa struggled in the grip of an ape-like creature. She caught glimpses of about half the survivors of the Theseus as they too were dragged through the trees by similar animals. Quarren and Bliss weren’t among them.

The creature carrying her jumped through a mist and suddenly let go. Rupa stumbled but regained her feet, ready to run.

“Well done,” cheered a familiar voice, “you got them! Well, some of them-”

Rupa stared. “Doctor? Is that you? We though you were-”

“Dead? Not yet.” He grinned and spread out his arms. “Welcome to the safe zone.”

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“Report, Captain Tamasan.”

The soldier saluted. “We’ve tracked the survivors of the human ship to a planet in the Yeugawa Cluster.”

Ollistra tilted her head. “Isn’t that where we’re setting our trap for the Daleks?”

“Unfortunately so.”

“Or not so unfortunately.” Ollistra’s smile was thin-lipped and cunning. “I think we can turn this to our advantage. Anything else?”

Tamasan’s lip curled. “We’ve learned the Doctor is among them.”

“Really?” The Cardinal broke into a grin. “Well, this really is my lucky day. Have a transport craft follow us to the planet and tell Tenacity we’re bring them more guests.”

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“I SURVIVED…WE SURVIVED.” The Dalek swiveled to face the Doctor and the human female, Bliss. “DALEK AND TIME LORD.”

“Yes! That’s it!” The Doctor’s face was childishly happy as he urged the creature on. It turned Tamasan’s stomach.


She couldn’t take it any more. With a disgusted roll of her eyes, Tamasan pulled out her stazer and shot the Dalek through its eyestalk. Its dome exploded and it died screaming.

“No,” the human and the Doctor yelled together.

“Sympathy for the enemy,” Tamasan sneered. “You are as disloyal as they say.”

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“What are you doing?” Two soldiers dragged the Doctor into Ollistra’s Battle TARDIS. He spotted his TARDIS stowed in a corner, but was yanked to face the other way. “Bliss and the others are civilians. You have no right-”

“I’ve every right to do whatever I decide best serves Gallifrey’s war effort.” Ollistra gestured to the guards. “Keep a tight hold on him. He’s…slippery.”

The Doctor gritted his teeth as the soldiers’ grips on his arms became painful. “It won’t work. I won’t fight for you.”

“Oh Doctor,” she smiled, “it’s amusing that you think you have a choice.”

Chapter Text

The guard shoved the Doctor in the back and he stumbled into the barracks. “One whole building just for me? You shouldn’t have. I’ll take breakfast at 7.” The door clanged shut, so he yelled, “Full English if you please?”

Finally alone, he quickly surveyed the building. There were plenty of ways to escape, but he was in a military training facility and still had to find Bliss and the others, not to mention his TARDIS.

“Not a problem.” The Doctor flopped onto a bunk and put his arms behind his head. “I’ll be out of here in no time.”

Chapter Text

“Finally!” Bliss glared at the Time Lords climbing the transport’s ramp. “I demand to know why we’ve been taken prisoner.”

“Bliss,” Quarren warned.

“The only thing we’ve done is survive a Dalek attack. Hello? Don’t any of you speak?” The soldiers didn’t make eye contact, but began leading them away in ones and twos. “Where are you taking them? No!” She kicked out as a guard tried to seize her wrists. “I’m going nowhere until someone explains what’s happening.”

“There’s no point.” Rupa whispered, trying to calm her. “With the Doctor gone, we’re going to need you. Just…stay alive.”

Chapter Text

It was easier to sneak out tonight than it had been the evening before. His fellow trainees were exhausted from the extra pushups they’d had to complete on top of a normal, already rigorous day of military training. The Doctor felt bad about that, as the pushups were Commander Harlan and Tamasan’s punishments for his insubordination and failure to conform.

“All the more reason to escape,” he thought, approaching the defenses separating the camp from the tower where his friends were imprisoned. “When I go, those two will take it easier on them. Now, where are those force field generators?”

Chapter Text

On second thought, maybe starting a food fight wasn’t his best idea, but Harlan, Tamasan, and their bullying tactics annoyed him. At least he’d finally made Harlan lose his cool. With luck, the commander was paying Ollistra a visit right now, demanding the Doctor’s removal.

The Doctor paced his cell. This place, the military environment, it brought to mind his third incarnation's days with UNIT. He couldn’t help wondering what the Brigadier, Mike, Benton, Liz, and Jo would think of all this. He hoped they were all well out of it, but in a Time War no one was safe.

Chapter Text

“Cardinal,” the soldier’s voice was barely audible over the Daleks’ bombardment, “the prisoners-”

“Detainees,” Ollistra corrected, rubbing her brow. “What about them?”

“They’re gone!”

“It’s the Doctor.” She stood. “Have the rest of my guard meet me at the TARDIS bays.”

“What about the Doctor?”

“At this point, if he wants to leave I’ll let him, but the detainees stay with me.”

“And if he won’t agree?”

“I’m fond of this incarnation of his, but I’m losing my patience. If this Doctor won’t fight, maybe the next one will be more…amenable. Be ready to shoot him on my command.”

Chapter Text

“Bliss!” The Doctor put himself between the rest of the survivors and Ollistra. Behind her, the members of her guard took up defensive positions against the Daleks. “Get them inside.”

“Inside the box?” She eyed the TARDIS. “I don’t see how we’ll all fit, but you heard the man.” She pushed open the door and ushered the others in.

“YOU WILL ALL BE EXTERMINATED.” A blast from a Dalek weapon caused part of the walls and ceiling to collapse. Ducking debris, Bliss and Rupa ran in together…

...and stared at the space inside.


Rupa smiled. “Well, this is different.”

Chapter Text

As the humans fled the wounded TARDIS, Ollistra pulled a hypercube from the voluminous pockets of her robes. Placing it to her forehead, she recorded a psychic message:

“Cardinal Ollistra reporting. I’ve found the missing weapon. We’ve crash-landed on the planet Jedris with Daleks in pursuit. Requesting immediate evacuation.”

Finalizing the time and space coordinates, she slipped the cube back into her pocket. “I wonder if this crate has any functioning emergency equipment?” Walking past a rondelle, she hit one side and it popped open to reveal a cylindrical object. “A flare.” She smiled. “So, you aren’t useless after all?”

Chapter Text

“This is stupid,” Quarren helped Rupa over a boulder, “if you’d handed me over-”

The Doctor waited as the couple caught up. “The Daleks would have just killed us all.”

“Besides,” Rupa held Quarren’s hand tighter, “if there’s any chance we can survive together, we must try.”

“Is my life worth all this,” Quarren asked angrily.

“Yes,” the Doctor and Rupa insisted together.

“For once I agree with the Doctor,” Ollistra added from the back of the group. “I can’t allow the Daleks to capture a weapon like you. Everyone else’s life is immaterial.”

Quarren glared at her. “Even yours?”

Chapter Text

The being who had been Quarren and, before that, had been a Time Lord, looked across the whole of eternity. “Rupa first. I’ll send her somewhere beautiful, quiet - far away from the Time War.” He saw the version of reality where this was true and, in an instant, it was done.

“The Time Lords next, and the survivors of the Theseus. All sent home, safe and sound…except one.” He stared at Bliss’s timelines. “What a beautiful mess, almost as bad as the Doctor’s. The Time War will find them whatever I do. They may as well face that together.”

Chapter Text

General Trave studied the gorgeous view from the War Council offices. “Project Revenant has served us well, but it’s time to move on to the next phase.”

“Good. I never intended to be a war president.” Livia brushed her hair out of her eyes. “And we both know there’s only one Time Lord who can lead us into the best possible future for Gallifrey. The only concern is stage-managing the transition so that I don’t look weak.”

“I think your friends at the CIA can help us with that.” Trave grinned. “We can even make them believe it’s their idea.”

Chapter Text

“Last but not least, the refugees from Phaidon have been moved to a safe location on Zaralian Beta-”

“Wait, what?” Narvin blinked in surprise. “We just granted them sanctuary two months ago! We all agreed - the CIA, the War Council, and the High Council-”

“Yes thank you, Deputy Coordinator,” Trave sneered. “We were all there.”

“And you’ve revoked that status without notifying anyone?”

Livia shrugged. “General Trave assures me that it is necessary for Gallifrey’s security.”

“Madam President, with all due respect, the War Council are not the lone arbiters of Gallifrey’s security.” Narvin banged the table. “This is unconstitutional!”

Chapter Text

“Coordinator Romana?”

Romana glanced up from her desk. “Yes, Agent Karla?”

“I’m sorry to interrupt you, ma’am. I know you’re busy preparing for the election.”

“And running the CIA in the middle of a Time War.” Romana waved off her concern. “Never mind that. What is it?”

“While working with the War Council, I spotted this.” Karla handed a datapad to her superior.

“Conscription orders?” Romana frowned. “Isn’t it enough that they’re resurrecting dead Time Lords, now they’re conscripting more living citizens?”

“That’s not what caught my eye.” She pointed at something. “See?”

Romana read the name. “Oh no. Narvin-”

Chapter Text

Narvin ran, leaving behind the sounds of firing Daleks for the quiet of Braxiatel’s TARDIS. “Where have you been? Romana needed you!”

“Save your recriminations for when I’m not trying to escape Daleks inside a collapsing dimension.” He pressed a combination of buttons and, for a moment, it seemed the TARDIS would shake apart. Then everything stilled. “I’ll land inside the induction barrier. You’re needed in the capital.”

“I’m grateful for the rescue, but how did you even know I was there?”

“I’ve kept an eye on developments from a distance.” Brax frowned. “Trust me, none of them are good.”

Chapter Text

Narvin stared at the podium, his face showing the shock and horror felt by many other onlookers. “They can’t do this!”

“Clearly they can, since they’ve done it.” Romana nodded as the events of the last few months fell into place for her. “This is what the War Council has been working towards. Rassilon, back from the dead and leading Gallifrey again-“

“As it should be!” Livia smiled, enraptured. “What a great day this is!”

Romana glared at her. “A great day? Rassilon’s crimes are too numerous to list! All you’ve done is hand our world over to a tyrant.”

Chapter Text

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

“MedTech Jarnish,” Captain Galving looked up from a datapad, “I’ve reviewed your file. You have flight training, I understand?”

“Yes Captain, ever since I was a kid-“

“That’s fine. You’ve heard what happened on Blaebot-75?”

“We took several losses. Dobson, Finnegan-“

“And Lieutenant Khatri. MediScout RV79-Beta needs a new co-pilot, so congratulations on your promotion, acting co-pilot Jarnish.”

Cole paled. “Sir, are you sure you want me for this?”

“Want has nothing to do with it, Cole. You’re the only other person on the crew who can fly the ship.“

“Oh. Right. Thank you?”

Chapter Text

“It’s not that I’m not grateful-“

“For getting you involved in a war?” The Doctor smiled ruefully. “Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?”

“To be fair, the Time War didn’t give either of us much choice.” Leaning against the console, Bliss stared into the dark, cathedral-like rafters of the control room. “I’m not saying I want to leave, but I have family. My mum and grandfather, they’ll be worried about me. They may even think I’m dead like nearly everyone else on the Theseus. I can’t stand that.”


“And,” she faced him, “I want you to take me home.”

Chapter Text

The Enforcers marched him through the streets of Bliss’s home planet. The Doctor spotted lingering signs of the world Daralobia had been before the Time War, but now the lush parks and elegant buildings were in ruins. Everything that remained standing served only one purpose: war.

The journey ended in the tower at the center of the dome. The Doctor was led into a small, windowless room and shackled to a chair. “I like what you’ve done to the place,” he quipped, “quite the Orwellian chic. I don’t suppose there’s time to order some tea before you start interrogating me?”

Chapter Text

The footsteps stopped and they heard metallic clicks as the Enforcers readied their weapons.

Something moved past Bliss in a blur. By the time she looked around, Pollia had already knocked out one Enforcer and was struggling with the second. Within moments she’d overpowered him too.

Bliss broke cover and cautiously approached the fallen men. “Are they-“

“They’re still alive,” Pollia answered. “Come on, we need to get into their uniforms.”

“That was unbelievable.” Bliss eyed the woman. “You don’t look strong enough for…what you just did.”

Pollia didn’t look up. “It’s amazing the strength desperation can give you.”

Chapter Text

“We need to broadcast the truth!”

Bliss ran to catch up with Pollia. “Look, I understand you wanting to free our…your world, but why would anyone believe you? They’ve all been conditioned to think that this is the only city that survived. We’re going to need more proof than just your word.”

“Halt!” They reached the communications control room at the same time as a squadron of Enforcers. “Surrender or die!”

Pollia didn’t hesitate. She raised her weapon and gunned down the soldiers.

“What,” Bliss gasped, “what are you doing?”

“Anything I must in order to complete my mission.”

Chapter Text

“Bliss, get inside now!”

She ran for the TARDIS, the buzz of Dalek energy weapons loud in her ears. The door hissed closed behind her and everything went quiet.

Tamasan was busy at the console. “All TARDISes leave for Gallifrey immediately. I’ll cover the rear-“

“What about the Doctor?”

“What about him?”

Bliss grabbed her arm and tried to pull Tamasan away from the controls. “I’m not letting you leave without him!”

“How would you stop me?" The Major shrugged her off. “But, as it turns out, your efforts are unnecessary. My standing orders are to keep the Doctor alive.”

Chapter Text

“Are you alright?”

“No, I’m not!” Bliss struggled to contain her anger. “What is wrong with your people?! The Time Lords are supposed to be better than the Daleks, but they invaded my world, rewrote its history, enslaved its people, and turned it into a munitions factory. And then, when the Daleks arrive, the Time Lords just run away?”

The Doctor reached out to comfort her. “I’m so sorry.”

“And now I’m…what was it you called me? An orphan of the Time War? If my own family and planet have been erased from history, why am I still here?”

Chapter Text

Years spent pretending to be benevolent Dr. Keller just to prove the existence of Arcking’s planet-wide State of Grace. Finally he’d found the paradox-driven source of the planet’s power, only to watch it be destroyed thanks to that fool, Cole Jarnish.

And yet…the boy’s survival created tantalizing possibilities. Cole was himself a paradox - the only survivor of a planet where everyone was destined to die - and in certain situations such paradoxes could be quite useful. The only question was: should he use Cole now or wait? Let him ripen, so to speak?

To the Master the answer was obvious.

Chapter Text

“We have a new mission for you.”

Picking up the datapad, the Twelve scrolled through the orders. “Directly from the High Council, my my.” She paused at a detail. “Now, my dear, what is this about an Ogron piloting a TARDIS through Gallifrey’s defenses?”

Tamasan rolled her eyes. “My rank is major, if you must call me something other than my name-“

“Oh yes, I’m so sorry Major. The Ogron?”

“He says he’s the Doctor. What’s more, he has the Doctor’s DNA, memory engrams, and the brain pattern is close.”

“Really?” Light glinted off the Twelve’s glasses. “How utterly fascinating.”

Chapter Text

The Twelve looked around the tea shop. “What a lovely place! A sanctuary, given what’s going on in the universe. Be a dear, Doctor, and find us a table while I sort the tea-“

“No.” His narrowed eyes moved warily between the small, grandmotherly figure and the Ogron wearing a waistcoat and cravat behind her. “I’m not letting either of you out of my sight.”

“I’ll go!”

The Twelve smiled at Bliss. “Thank you. Why can’t you be more like your friend, Doctor?”

“She doesn’t know you. I do.”

“You think you know everything,” she tutted. “Some things never change.”

Chapter Text

“Right,” the Twelve clapped her hands, “now that we’re all agreed, let’s go to your TARDIS and find out what the Daleks are up to-”

“My TARDIS?” The Doctor folded his arms. “Why mine? Don’t you have one?”

The Twelve and the Doctor Ogron exchanged a glance. “No TARDIS,” the Ogron said at last, “time ring.”

“Handy.” The warmth of the Doctor’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. “May I see it?”

The Twelve sighed. “I’m afraid it was a one-way trip.”

“So the Time Lords don’t really trust you two either?” His grin widened. “Just making sure where we stand-”

Chapter Text

Once the four of them reached the city, they debated how to disable the Dalek security. The Twelve even turned off her neural inhibitor and allowed her other personalities to chip in their opinions.

“Too many words,” the Doctor Ogron mumbled, growing impatient. “Problem not that difficult.” Approaching the door, he waited until it scanned his genetic signature. With a click, it unlocked and the red light on the camera winked off.

He waved at the others, but it took them another five minutes to notice the issue was already resolved. “So much for quick in, quick out,” he muttered.

Chapter Text


“We are, no need to get your casing in a bunch.” As he walked, the Doctor turned slightly and spoke in a quieter voice. “Any ideas?”

“For taking out three Daleks without the aid of any weapons?” The Twelve scoffed. “I’m good, but I’m not that good.”

“At least the others got away-“


“Ah, so we have a date with the Overseer? Just the Dalek we came to see.”

“Must you banter with them, Doctor? It’s not like they’re capable of appreciating it.”

“No, but it helps pass the time.”

Chapter Text

“Okay,” Bliss grabbed onto the Doctor Ogron’s velvet frock coat as she struggled to keep up with his long strides, “what’s the plan?”

“Defeat Daleks. Rescue friends.”

“Is that it?”

“Yes.” His odd face wrinkled into an awkward smile. “When fighting starts, stay close.”

“No worries.” She eyed their makeshift army of Ogrons and giant crab god-things. “I’m not sure what’s more likely to kill me, this lot or the Daleks.”

“No kill. Doctor neither cruel nor cowardly.”

“I doubt the Daleks will give you much choice,” she sighed worriedly.

The Doctor Ogron took her hand. “Brave heart, Bliss Human.”

Chapter Text

“If it isn’t the savior of the world!”

Cole winced. “I get enough of that from Elidh and Anvar.”

“On a first name basis with the locals already?” The Master chuckled. “You do work quickly. I heartily approve.”

“You’re one to talk! Look at you,” Cole touched the grape vines, “farming. Wouldn’t have thought you were the type.”

“I’ll have you know that running a winery has proved most satisfying.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Honestly, I don’t know much about wine.”

“We’ll have to fix that. But first, tell me more about this family that has adopted you.”

Chapter Text

The woman groaned and blinked in the bright sunlight. “What hit me?”

“Whatever it was hit me too.” A man stood close by, squinting at her. One of his eyes and several of his limbs were robotic prosthetics. “Where are we?”

“No idea.” There were others here, about fifteen people of various ages, all dressed in orange jumpsuits. “Hi I’m,” she paused, “actually, I…don’t remember my name. I don’t remember anything about myself really.”

“Kappa Zeta.”


He pointed at a name tag on her jumpsuit. “Says so right there.”

“And you’re Tau Delta.” She frowned. “What’s going on?”

Chapter Text

“Attention prisoners.” The voice was computerized but not unfriendly. “The fences of this facility are electrified for your protection. Please remain at a safe distance.”

A small, grandmotherly woman with “Pi Gamma” written on her jumpsuit walked toward the loudspeaker. “Protection from what?”

“The creatures in the jungle beyond,” the voice continued without any indication that it had heard her, “are carnivorous and most of the vegetation is poisonous to humanoid life forms. In addition, the trees contain venomous spikes that paralyze victims within one minute.”

“That’s one question answered,” Kappa Zeta muttered, “we’re imprisoned in a Garden of Death.”

Chapter Text

“Why me?” Kappa Zeta balanced the food tray on her hip. “Why do I have to walk through the Death Garden to,” she waved her hand at a distant building, barely visible through the jungle, “whatever it is out there?”

“Be sensible, my dear.” Pi Gamma patted her shoulder. “It may be a way out, so pay attention to everything you see and hear and tell us all about it when you return.”

“If I return-“

“Attention!” The robotic voice announced. “Designated time window for secure corridor access commencing. Electrical charge will be deactivated to gate in 3…2…1…”

Chapter Text

The walk through the jungle was nerve-racking, but Kappa Zeta made it unscathed. “A door,” she muttered, as she approached the dome-like building. “No handle, just a button and a sign reading: ‘Push to enter.’” She pushed the button and, after a moment, heard the click of a lock unbolting.

The door opened to reveal a small room. “Hello?” she called, stepping tentatively inside. “Please don’t kill me, I’ve brought you dinner.”

“I couldn’t even if I wanted to.” A middle-aged man with wavy brown hair smiled at her from within a prison cell. “Hello. You can call me ‘Alpha.’”

Chapter Text

“It’s not his real name, of course,” Kappa Zeta continued, “just like the ones we use aren’t ours.”

Tau Delta nodded. “Prisoner designations given by our mysterious jailers. Funny how we know that but don’t remember anything else about ourselves-”

“Never mind that,” Pi Gamma interrupted impatiently. “Was there any technology?”

“Nothing we can use.” Kappa looked around the compound. “Just like here, there’s no cameras or communications equipment. Oh one thing, there’s a force field inside Alpha’s cell.”

“Inside?” Tau laughed humorlessly. “They really don’t want him getting out, do they?”

“Or perhaps,” Pi looked thoughtful, “they’re protecting him...“

Chapter Text

“Have you been interrogated yet?”

“This morning.” Tau absently scratched an insect bite on his arm. “I don’t remember anything but, when they were done, they transmatted me back to where I’d been.” He glanced at Kappa Zeta. “You?”

“Not yet, but they seem to be making their way through the camp-”

“Isn’t it strange,” Pi Gamma interrupted, “how calmly everyone is taking this?”

“It helps that we can’t remember anything. Besides, what can we do?” Kappa stood and stretched. There was a whirring sound and she disappeared.

“Speak of the devil,” Tau muttered. “Oh well, she’ll be back soon.”

Chapter Text

“How do we know there aren’t any cameras?”

Kappa leaned against the door. “The enemy says so-“

“They could be lying.“

She shrugged. “I’ve not seen any here or in the camp.”

“It’s just…odd.”

“Not really. The jungle ensures we can’t go anywhere-”

“Not that, this place.” Alpha gestured around his cell. “Why construct it of see-through materials? It’s like living in a giant fishbowl.”

“Do you have any theories?”

“Two. Either they want me to see that there’s no way to escape, or they want to see what I’m doing.”

Kappa frowned. “How?”

“Exactly. That’s why it’s strange.”

Chapter Text

“You nearly told them!” The voice was Pi Gamma’s but it sounded different, higher and more childish.

“No, I didn’t,” now she sounded as he was used to hearing her, “shut up!”

“You did! Weak, silly old woman-”

“To be fair, Three,” her voice again, but oily and self-satisfied, “she wasn’t in control of our body when they nearly learned the truth. I believe that was Nine.”

“Shut up! Shut up all of you! I can’t think…too many voices-“

“Pi Gamma?” Tau Delta called out, deeply confused. “Are you alright?”

“Yes.” She hurried past him. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Chapter Text

“Bliss, you and the Twelve find the other prisoners and bring them to the control room-“

The Twelve rested the Dalek weapon on her hip. “And what will you be doing?”

“I’ll find a way to get everyone away from here before the Daleks can call in reinforcements.”

Bliss frowned. “Shouldn’t the Twelve go with you? What if more of the mutant creatures from the jungle got transmatted up here?”

“That’s why she’s going with you.” The Doctor waved off her protests and brought up a schematic of the monitoring station. “I’ll be fine. Just hurry - we won’t have long.”

Chapter Text

“Go get the others, the ship’s ready to go.” The Doctor spotted Bliss and frowned. “What’s wrong?”

She rubbed her eyes. “I’ve been searching the Dalek’s records about the prisoners-”

“You got past their security? Either you’re good or the Daleks are getting careless.”

“Neither,” she sighed. “I wasn’t looking for anything top secret, I just wanted to know who Tau Delta was.”

“Ah. And?”

“His name was Borton. He led a group of Earth Alliance resistance fighters in at least twelve battles against the Daleks.” She smiled sadly. “He said he was the walking wounded. Now we know why.”

Chapter Text

“Tamasan,” the Doctor was nonplussed, “and Cardinal Ollistra. Surely the presence of two high-ranking Time Lords isn’t required to rescue the Twelve and return my TARDIS?”

Ollistra smiled. “We have things we need to discuss-”

“You already know I won’t fight for you.“

“Of course, but we could use your assistance on a mercy mission-“

“Mercy? The Time Lords have forgotten the meaning of the word.”

“Now Doctor, please. Come inside my TARDIS and I’ll explain the situation-“

Bliss eyed the soldiers surrounding them. “Do we have a choice?”

Ollistra’s smile widened. “Not if the Doctor wants his TARDIS back.”

Chapter Text

“You want what?!”

Ollistra sighed. “I’m assigning you the captaincy of a submarine called-“

The Bloodhound, Cardinal,” Tamasan supplied.

“As I have assigned all of our soldiers to other vessels-“

“I’m not one of your soldiers,” the Doctor began.

"We will aid the survivors of this planet by monitoring and hopefully thwarting the Daleks.”

He narrowed his eyes. “How?”

“The Daleks are searching for something they apparently learned about by interrogating the Twelve; something that could grant them domination over the universe forever.” She smiled. “Are you paying attention? Good. Now tell me, Doctor, have you heard of the Orashema?”

Chapter Text

“I’m supposed to-”

Ensign Murti pointed at the equipment. “Watch the quantum field locator.”

Bliss nodded. “And you’re-”

“I monitor the hydrophone for sounds of enemy vessels, missiles, depth charges, or whatever the Daleks throw at us.”

“Right. Sorry to keep asking, but crewing a submarine is a new experience for me.”

“Sounds like you’ve done everything else.“

“Maybe? But ever since I stumbled into the Time War, I’ve felt like a bit of a Jonah.”

“A what?”

“A sailor who brings bad luck?”

Murti glanced at the captain’s chair where the Doctor sat. “Maybe it’s the company you’re keeping-”

Chapter Text

The Twelve swung the wrench toward Bliss’s head as The Bloodhound hit the ocean floor. The impact knocked them off their feet as the weapon skittered across the ship’s decking. Bliss didn’t waste the opportunity. Scrambling to her feet, she leapt over a few dislodged boxes and ran for the door.

“You just wait there, mate,” she called over her shoulder. “I’ll get the Doctor.”

“Why? The fish already swallowed us. Confirm the transmission!” The Twelve paused to listen. “The upstairs neighbors are listening on the party line. Quiet or they’ll hear.” Standing, she began to sing loudly and tunelessly.

Chapter Text

“Congratulations. You just cost us a weapon that could have ended this war.”

The Doctor helped Bliss and Panath with the unconscious Twelve. “The Time Lords have destroyed so much already, Ollistra. The death of the Orashima is a terrible loss, but either we or the Daleks inheriting its powers to see all ends with perfect clarity? That would’ve been worse.”

“I’ll remind you of that when they destroy another planet.” Her voice sounded muffled over the intercom. “I want the Twelve put into stasis pending evaluation.”

“Working on it.”

“Good. Now, might I have control of my ship back?”

Chapter Text

“Where are we going?” Ria danced around the console. “Somewhere fun? Exciting? Romantic?”

“Hmmm,” the Doctor muttered, staring at the sensor readings. “This can’t be right.”

“Doctor!” Ria pulled on his sleeve. “Didn’t you hear me?”

“We’re investigating a mystery.”

“Will there be monsters? Tricky problems to solve with nothing but your sonic screwdriver?”

In spite of himself, the Doctor smiled. “Probably. Go put on some comfortable shoes, we’ll have a lot of walking to do.” When she’d gone, he turned on the scanner and studied the desolate new planet that had just appeared. “It can’t be Gallifrey. That's impossible-”

Chapter Text

“To whom it may concern:

A new planet has appeared the Scutum–Centaurus Arm of the Milky Way, sector 2-5-7. A concerned citizen requests Luna University send its best archeologist to investigate. Most urgent!”

River put down her tablet and grinned. “Very clever, my love, not mentioning my name. But I can see your fingerprints all over this one.”

Two corridors and five offices down, Bernice Summerfield frowned at the same message. “How strange, unless-” A smile slowly spread across her face. “Unless it’s the Doctor, then it makes perfect sense. ‘Best archeologist?’ You could have just used my name-”

Chapter Text

Benny watched the Doctor run after a laughing Ria. “Well that’s just…disappointing. After all the adventures we’ve had, all the time we’ve spent together, it’s like he barely remembers me.”

River sighed. “You get used to it. Come on, we’ve got some ruins to study.”

“Yes, about that - did you notice all of these building when you first landed?” Bernice followed River up a sand dune and gazed down into the valley beyond. “I mean, they’re everywhere!”

“Maybe you were too focused on making it to cocktail hour,” River chided lightly. “But you’re right, I didn’t see them either.”

Chapter Text

River waited until Benny and Ria were out of earshot before continuing to study the rubble. “This isn’t possible.” She ran her fingers over the symbols on the stone. “But there’s no mistaking old high Gallifreyan. How did it get here? Are these the remains of some Time Lord outpost or colony?” She tried getting a reading from the stone. “Still can’t get a temporal lock. Only something powerful could cause that. Not a colony, but-”

She shook her head. “Don’t say it out loud or else you’ll make it true. And it can’t be true, for the Doctor’s sake.”

Chapter Text

The Doctor led the group through the ruins to a large, domed chamber that looked like it had once been a council room. “We’ll camp here.” He helped the still limping Ria find a seat. “Professors, if you would build a fire? The nights are probably very cold.”

“I assume there’s a reason we’re staying out here rather than going back to your TARDIS,” Benny asked.

“I want to have a look around,” he turned to leave, “and I want you all to stay relatively close by.”

“Doctor,” River sounded worried, “what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

Chapter Text

There was an explosion in the distance.

“Great,” the Doctor grimaced, “what now?” He surveyed the landscape. “That came from the direction the Professors were headed. Ria, would you check on them please?”

“Me,” she squeaked, cowering against him. “But…what if there’s ghosts?”

“You’re brilliant, Ria, I’m sure you can handle it.”

“But…the Professors,” she looked shyly up at him, “I don’t think they like me very much.”

“Ridiculous! You’re built to be liked, just give them time.” The Doctor eyed the scavenger fleet ships hovering over the planet. “Go on. I’ll join you all in a moment.”

Chapter Text

“Arise!” In the tower, the Doctor raised his hands over his head. “I command it!”

The Matrix ghosts acted instantly. The stone, glass, and metal laying in rubble began reforming. “Arise…Gallifrey,” the ghosts whispered, as the city reformed itself in all its well-remembered splendor.

The Doctor laughed, his voice booming across the planet-wide communications system. “Look at all this! I’m rebuilding Gallifrey, stone by stone. The whole planet, the capitol - home of the wisest, most boring race the universe has even known-”

Despite his words and actions, the fleet above continued bombarding the planetary defense shield, seeking a weakness.

Chapter Text

The Doctor walked away, leaving Ria’s body among the fading structures of the ancient TARDIS.

“Should we leave her here?” Bernice shook her head. “Feels like I keep saying that, but if the Doctor made Ria out of Time Lord technology, surely we can’t let the scavengers have her either?”

River closed the android’s eyes. “The disintegrator blast will destroy her body long before they force through the final shield.”

“Still can’t believe he made a companion. Overly enthusiastic, accident prone, utterly uncritical, and hero-worshiping - is that what he thinks of us?”

“Maybe it’s just what he needed right now-”

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It was a beautiful night. The Master wandered through his vineyard, a glass of wine in hand, and admired the stars. Several of them began to move in unusual ways, less like heavenly bodies and more like infernal engines. The Master followed one’s trajectory, heard it explode two valleys over, and headed immediately to his TARDIS.

The equipment inside had no problem determining what it was or detecting what was coming from it. The planet’s death sentence had finally arrived.

“So,” the Master said calmly, “it begins.”

Later that night he put a ten foot tall fence around his property.

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He watched from a distance, careful to avoid being observed by his young protege or the local farmers. “Is he really making GravSuits for all of them using the primitive tools available here?” the Master mused quietly to himself. “I’m not sure whether to be amused or impressed. It won’t fix the issue of course, they’ll all still die.” He paused. “Unless they become something else entirely. Something horrible, something that will devour worlds.”

Grinning, he walked towards his TARDIS. “How perfect.”

The next day he visited long enough to drop off some equipment and give Cole his enthusiastic approval.

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Cole stared at the stars in the TARDIS observatory, but he kept thinking about what he’d done. “What if-“

“We’ve talked about this,” the Master said sternly.

“But Elidh and the others! I tried to save them…all I ended up doing was turning them into monsters.”

“Yes, you did,” the Time Lord replied coolly, then his expression softened. Leaning forward, he held the young man’s gaze. “Do you trust me, Cole?”

“Of course I do. You saved me - twice!”

“Then relax. I will fix everything. Drink your wine, admire the view, and put everything unpleasant out of your mind.”

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The TARDIS, disguised as a VW van, appeared in an alleyway. After a while, two people stepped out and looked around.

“Where are we,” Cole asked, wrinkling his nose.

The Master strode forward. “England, Earth, the 1970s. I spent quite some time here in several of my earlier incarnations.”

“Your what?”

“Never mind. What’s important is that this place is a safe haven from the Time War. It will give us a chance to catch our breath, plan, and perhaps much more.” Stepping onto the sidewalk, he surveyed the street. “Now, where would we find a decent cup of coffee?”

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“Finally,” the Master said as he typed in the last commands, “that should make you more…compliant. What’s this reality coming to when computers are harder to disable than Time Lord secret agents?”

“Have you killed Agent Tandeka?”

“No,” he laughed, “not yet. I may still need her for something. Now Computer, where is the Heavenly Paradigm?”

“It is located in the station’s central research area.”

“Good. I better wire Mr. Jarnish into it before he wakes up.”

“What do you intend to do?”

The Master dragged Cole from the room. “You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?”

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For General Trave’s eyes only:

The research and development repository at No. 24 Marigold Lane, Stamford Bridge, England, failed to report in as scheduled. War Council agents dispatched to the location found the base destroyed due to an explosion. Remnants of the Heavenly Paradigm were found near the center of the blast; the fragments contained traces of human DNA. The body of Agent Tandeka was also discovered; she had been shot with a staser.

The base computer recorded the site’s last visitors as the Master and Cole Jarnish, however no Cole Jarnish has been found to exist in any timeline.

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“…This mission comes directly from Rassilon.”

“Is that supposed to impress me?” The Doctor brushed past Cardinal Ollistra. “I’m done taking orders from the Lord President. He’s the reason we’re in this mess.”

“And here I thought that was down to the Daleks.”

“Same difference these days.”

“Tell me you don’t want to know where he is,” she continued, stepping closer. “You know better than anyone how dangerous the Master is.”

“You were happy enough for him to fight in your war.”

“I’ll use any weapon against the Daleks.” Ollistra smiled coldly. “Even you. Find the Master for us, Doctor.”

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They were all perfect plans…and yet somehow every one failed.

“Too many variables,” the Master admitted, watching his TARDIS dematerialize for the last time. “Difficult enough to take over the universe, harder still in the midst of a Time War.”

He pulled an object from his pocket. “I’ll try again when it’s over. Who knows, maybe I’ll be the last Time Lord.” He smiled, opening the Chameleon Arch. “Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Seconds later a baby boy lay on the beach of a planet at the end of time, his hands curled around the chain of a fob watch.

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The child gaped at the squat, robotic things that had burst through the kitchen wall. Her father approached them, hands held out. “I don’t know what you are, but we’re unarmed. We’re no threat-”

“WE ARE DALEKS,” one of the creatures yelled. “YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED.”

“Marie, get the kids and-” One of the Daleks fired and her father fell dead at her feet.

The girl turned and ran. Spotting the dustbin her mother had been emptying, she kicked it over and hid underneath. She heard her mother scream and smelled something burning. The world she had known had ended.

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“What? Now?

“Why not?” Cinder shrugged and shouldered her weapon. “It’s nothing we haven’t done before.” She grinned, showing off the notches on the gun’s barrel, one for each Dalek she had killed with it. “And I’ve got the proof.”

Finch tried again. “Rumors say they’re deploying a new Dalek paradigm-”

Cinder laughed. “All the more reason to stage an ambush. Someone’s got to find out what they can do.”

With a groan, Finch sat up from his bed. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

“No.” She offered him her hand. “Come on! Let’s kill some Daleks.”

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“Are you ready, Doctor?”

“I don’t use that name any more, Captain Preda,” he growled, “as you well know.”

“We have to call you something,” the sarcasm in Preda’s voice carried through the TARDIS’s communication circuits, “and 'the Time Lord formerly named the Doctor’ is a bit too unwieldy for use during a battle.”

“Very funny,” he replied dryly. “Yes, I’m ready to play the bait. Just make sure to keep your ships out of sight.”

“This isn’t the Fifth Battle Fleet’s first rodeo, Doctor. We know how to deceive and kill Daleks.”

He smiled. “That’s what I’m counting on.”

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“Cinder!” It was risky. Any sound would alert the Daleks to his location, but Finch needed to find her.

The distinctive blast of Cinder’s modified Dalek gun shattered the silence. Finch ran, scrambling through the ruins. “Cinder,” he called again, spotting movement ahead. Hoisting his machine gun, he fired at the remaining Daleks. The bullets bounced off their casings harmlessly, but at least they provided a distraction. “Get to safety, now!”

He never heard the shot, but he felt it hit. Finch cried out as the ruby light engulfed him, the sound dissipating as the temporal weapon erased his timeline.

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The Doctor levered himself out of the TARDIS. Below, the console room lay on its side, the internal dimensions no longer aligning with the external ones. He’d fix that once the ship had repaired the battle damage.

Hooking his elbows over the door, he looked outside. A young woman with red-orange hair, and wearing leggings and a leather jacket, pointed a Dalek weapon at him. She scowled fiercely, but there was fear in her eyes.

“Well,” he said.

She blinked. “Well, what?”

“Oh, so waving a gun at me is the best thing to do in the circumstances, is it?”

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“Lucky you found our Cinder.” Coyne handed him a bowl of soup. “This close to Andor, the Dalek patrols are everywhere.”

“I noticed.” The Doctor glanced at Cinder, who slurped her dinner as if she hadn’t eaten in days. Looking at how thin she was, he guessed that was close to the truth. “Still,” he gestured at the makeshift community around them, “you seem to be doing well here, all things considered.”

“We get by…and we fight back where we can.”

“A resistance force.” The Doctor nodded. “Even amidst this war, the human spirit never fails to impress me.”

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The Doctor hurried through the abandoned house. Everywhere lay the signs of lives lost - pictures on the wall of a smiling family; toys scattered across the floor; a glass still crusted with the remains of a last drink.

He took the stairs two at a time. Crossing a child’s room, he twitched back a curtain and stared at the Dalek base. He had a terrible suspicion as to why the Daleks on this world weren’t killing their human captives on sight. What he needed now was proof.

He felt Cinder join him at the window as he watched and waited.

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The reddish-pink light engulfed four of the ten prisoners. Within seconds, they’d dissolved and disappeared.

It was as the Doctor feared: the Daleks had developed a dematerialization gun. His own people had created such devices in their ancient past and, seeing them for the horrors they were, had locked them away. Now the Daleks had invented something similar.

Cinder staggered back from the window, drawing the Doctor’s eyes. She swallowed hard, putting a hand to her head as she swayed slightly. Finally, she grabbed hold of his arm and he reached out to steady her.

Her memories were being rewritten.

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Cinder lay her head on the Doctor’s chest as he wrapped his arms around her. It was nice feeling protected and comforted; this was something she hadn’t experienced since she was seven years old.

“I’m going to stop them doing this to anyone else,” he said in his deep, gravelly voice.

She closed her eyes and pushed him away. Wiping her tears with the back of her hand, Cinder looked up. “I’m in. Whatever it takes, I’ll help you stop them.”

He smiled sadly at her. “That’s my girl.”

Warmth filled Cinder’s chest at his words and she looked away.

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Cinder stared into the eyes of the soon-to-be-Dalek that had once been a human woman. The creature floated in the glass incubation tube, her eyes showing no sign of thought or recognition. Cinder gave the Doctor a sorrowful, questioning look.

He understood instantly and nodded, moving to the doorway to watch for Daleks. Behind him, he heard her ripping the wires free from the walls and ceiling, disconnecting the incubation tubes from their power and food supplies. Once she was was done, she whispered something he couldn’t quite make out. Moments later she joined him, one hand on her gun.

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The Doctor charged up the ramp only to skid to a sudden stop. Rows of metal cages lay on each side and within them stood scores of humans. Cursing, the Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and aimed at the nearest cage. The door popped open, but the humans didn’t move. “What are you waiting for,” he yelled. “Don’t you know a jail break when you see one?”

Something exploded nearby. “No time,” he muttered, aiming his screwdriver at a bank of computers. One after another, the remaining cells unlocked. “Come on,” he urged. “Time to take your world back.”

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Cinder gripped the railing around the TARDIS console as the whole craft shook. “Is it supposed to be like this?”

“Normally, no.” The Doctor braced himself with one arm while his other hand danced across the controls. “But they’ve increased security around Gallifrey since the Time War.”

“Isn’t there a password or something?”

“Yes, I’ve got those. What I don’t have is clearance to land.”

Cinder’s teeth rattled. “Can’t you get that?”

“I could contact them,” the Doctor struck the console with the flat of his hand, “but there’s every chance they wouldn’t let me in even then.”

“Oh great!”

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With Cinder at his side, the Doctor allowed himself to be escorted to the War Room. It lacked the normal Time Lord pomp, containing only a table, chairs, and monitors displaying events from the Time War. A man sat alone, watching the screens with an emotionless expression: Rassilon, once one of the Doctor’s childhood heroes. He’d become disillusioned with the once and future president long ago, early in his eighth incarnation.

The Lord President didn’t acknowledge them, although he certainly heard them enter - a typically petty power play. The Doctor sighed, steeling himself to remain calm. He needed Rassilon’s help.

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“The idiots,” the Doctor muttered. “The arrogant fools!”

Cinder guided him from the Council Chamber. She had no idea where she was going, but needed to get him away before he did something they’d both regret. Despite that, part of her longed to stay behind and watch the Doctor take the Council down a peg or two. She shared his fury at their casual talk of killing all the humans in the Tantalus Spiral - her people - just to prevent the Daleks from destroying Gallifrey.

“I see how it is,” she thought bitterly, “Time Lords deserve to survive, but we’re expendable.”

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The Doctor had visited the Death Zone more than once, most notably in his fifth and eighth incarnations. In some ways it hadn’t changed - the bleak landscape was still dominated by the even more unwelcoming Tower of Rassilon. There were newer buildings now too; squat and utilitarian, the Doctor guessed they were weapon design and testing facilities. “Anything they want to hide from the rest of Gallifrey,” he snorted.

Inside the tower he found the greatest changes. The traps and games were gone, leaving only Rassilon’s tomb. Creeping forward cautiously, the Doctor wondered if Rassilon’s first body still remained within.

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Borusa had once been the Doctor’s teacher and friend - giver of boring lectures and writer of terrible poetry. When Borusa became Lord President, the Doctor had thought he was a good choice, until he imprisoned four of the Doctor’s incarnations and several of his companions in the Death Zone. He hoped they would show him how to steal the secrets of immortality from Rassilon’s tomb. The reward for Borusa’s arrogance had been eternal imprisonment.

Now he’d received an even worse fate. Trapped in a state of perpetual regeneration, Borusa had become Rassilon’s possibility engine, condemned to see all potential realities.

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Cinder came back to her senses slowly. Remembering where she was, she struggled in Karlax’s grip, feeling both frightened and indignant. She’d killed scores of Daleks and here she was being manhandled by one weaselly Time Lord.

The Castellan readied the mind probe as Karlax tried to force her into the machine. With a monumental effort, Cinder twisted one hand free. She lashed out with a yell, catching Karlax’s cheek with her nails and leaving parallel marks that quickly began bleeding.

“Zagreus take you, girl!” Karlax shoved her into the chair and, with the Castellan’s help, started fastening the restraints.

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Looking around furtively, the Castellan crept into the Council Chamber. Laying the unconscious Cinder on the table, he hurried to the harp and played a tune that opened a secret door nearby. He carried Cinder inside, placing her carefully on a padded chair.

“Karlax will never look for you here. You can safely recuperate from the effects of the mind probe.” He pushed her hair back from her forehead. “If it’s any consolation, the memories we extracted confirm the Doctor’s story.” The Castellan turned toward the door. “Too bad they’ll also bolster Rassilon’s argument to use the Tear of Isha.”

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The Doctor spent the first hour trying to unlock the cell door. He cycled through every setting on his sonic three times, but none had any affect on the ancient, manual lock.

“I used to be quite good at this,” he said to Cinder, who was asleep on the lone bed. “Trained by Harry Houdini himself.” The Doctor sat with his back against the door. “'Course, it’s impossible to pick a lock without something to pick it with. Wonder when I stopped carrying interesting odds and ends in my pockets?” He frowned. “Probably when I stopped calling myself the Doctor.”

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The next thirty minutes he spent searching the cell for alternative escape routes, but there were no secret panels leading to unknown corridors. “Makes sense,” he muttered. “Such things would’ve been discovered and removed centuries if not millennia ago.” Disgusted, the Doctor sat down. His second and eighth selves would have escaped by now. His seventh and fourth probably wouldn’t have ended up here in the first place. “If I’d just kept my mouth shut until we were off world-” The Doctor shook his head. “But no, I had to promise Rassilon and the High Council that I’d stop them.”

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Cinder stumbled through the interior of the TARDIS. Any other time she would have enjoyed the bizarre collection of rooms and environments, but she was exhausted. The mind probe had also left her with a dull headache she couldn’t seem to shake. She closed the door to a swimming pool, passed one for a library, and finally found a furnished bedroom. The desk held a stack of books about quantum engineering and small Orgron doll dressed in a velvet coat and a cravat.

She fell face forward onto the bed, not even bothering to take off her shoes, and slept.

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“Why are we doing this?” Cinder grunted as she helped the Doctor carry Karlax through the TARDIS. “He used the mind probe on me for no reason. He tried to kill both of us; he’ll probably try again-”

“Maybe,” the Doctor admitted, “but the least we can do is give him the best possible chance to regenerate.”


“We can lock him in so he can’t do any mischief. Besides,” the Doctor gave her a slight smile, “plenty of my former enemies have eventually became my friends, and we could all use more of those.”

Cinder sighed. “If you’re sure-”

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“We can’t go back to Gallifrey,” Cinder spluttered, grabbing the Doctor’s arm. “I mean…we did just hijack a Battle TARDIS-”

He nodded, continuing to enter the coordinates into the console. “Indeed.”

“And sent the Tear of Isha into a sun at the end of time-”

“That too.”

“Meaning we’ve contravened the orders of the Time Lord High Council.”

The Doctor shrugged. “Not my first or last time for that.”

Frowning, Cinder search his face. “Rassilon will have us both executed.”

“He would, if he caught us.” The Doctor grinned. “So let’s make sure he doesn’t. What do you say?”

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Two sat beside the fire, their glowing bodies providing extra light. Their faces shifted as they cycled through their past and future regenerations. Their eyes saw nothing of the cave around them, focusing instead on the flow of all possible timelines.

The third was at the cave wall, his glowing fingers dabbing pigment. Slowly an image took shape: an old man in a battered leather jacket and a young woman with orange hair running from a monster.

Rassilon had discarded them as failed experiments, but the Watchers had created a new role for themselves, and their time had almost come.

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The Watchers lifted the frame bearing Borusa over their heads, readying themselves for the long march to the Doctor’s TARDIS. As they turned him, Borusa spotted a young woman with orange hair crouched upon Rassilon’s tomb. He knew her instantly - knew her birth name and the name she went by now, her past and her potential futures. In one timeline, she lay dying on the floor of the TARDIS and her death heralded the end of Gallifrey and the Time War. In another, she lived while Gallifrey and much of the universe were destroyed.

Either way, Cinder’s future was death.

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The Doctor hunched over the TARDIS console, readying the possibility engine, but his eyes kept glancing at Cinder. He’d seen the drawing too, the potential future predicting a red-headed woman dying in the TARDIS. In his previous incarnations, he’d always felt he could protect his companions. Sometimes he’d been wrong and people had died or been lost but, in general, his friends had been safer with him. He wasn’t confident that was still true.

“I should have left her behind,” he scolded himself. “I forgot why I travel alone.” But he hadn’t, he’d simply been enjoying her company too much.

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The Predator Dalek rolled forward, its casing opening to reveal its inner workings. Terror threatened to overwhelm the Doctor as he eyed the seat in the center, the place where the Daleks intended to turn him into one of them. This was one of his worst nightmares, made real.

Daleks herded he and Cinder toward the Predator Dalek. The Doctor turned, searching the area in panic. He’d planned an escape route but now, when they needed it, it was nowhere to be seen. He pulled Cinder into his arms and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

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Borusa blinked. The futures in which Karlax shot and killed the Doctor faded, prevented by Cinder’s lunge and resulting death. He moaned as the Doctor piloted the TARDIS into the Tantalus Eye. Trapped in the possibility engine, he began absorbing the Eye’s temporal energy.

Something in the TARDIS exploded, but Borusa focused instead on two future: Cinder alive with swaths of the universe unmade; Cinder dead, but the Daleks in the Tantalus Spiral destroyed. Either way, the end of the Time War was within sight.

Borusa didn’t care which choice the Doctor picked, he just wanted the pain to stop.

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The Doctor woke with a groan. His whole body hurt. For a moment he couldn’t remember what had happened, then he spotted the possibility engine. It was empty now; Borusa was gone and hopefully at peace.

His hand brushed something. Looking down, he saw Cinder’s body laying beside him. The Doctor crawled closer, placing one last kiss on her forehead. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, “and thank you. Your sacrifice won’t be in vain. Your people will be safe.” His eyes shone. “I’m going to put an end to this accursed Time War, whatever it takes. I promise you that, Cinder.”

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“…she saved everyone,” the Doctor continued, “the humans on the twelve planets of the Tantalus Spiral and countless sentient beings scattered throughout the universe. You should be very proud.”

Coyne nodded. “I am. We figured something had happened when the pink light appeared, but knowing it was Cinder who ended the war here-” Coyne’s voice faltered, his eyes filling with tears.

Guilt nagged at the Doctor and he stood to leave.

“What will you do now?”

“Find Cinder’s family and bury her beside them. Then I’ve a promise to keep-”

Coyne frowned. “What promise?”

“No more,” the Doctor replied grimly.

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The TARDIS slipped through Gallifrey’s planetary security. Either Rassilon hadn’t discovered the Doctor knew the new codes or he was so confident Karlax would kill the Doctor that he never bothered to change them.

If he’d gone straight to the capitol, they still might have stopped him, but that was never the Doctor’s plan. He landed first in Arcadia, as the city fell to the Daleks. A short spacial hop brought the TARDIS back into the undercroft, hidden among the dying wrecks of her sisters.

The Omega Vaults were a five minute walk from there and inside lay his target.