"Your time has come at last…Doctor." The infinite Guardian laughs as he watches the Timelord crouch down in a protective posture.
The Doctor closes his eyes tightly as he feels the darkness drawing ever closer and the shadows stretching up to reach him.
"Excuse me…" A voice suddenly echoes out. "I don't believe we're finished discussing the matter as of yet."
The shadows that had been reaching up to the Doctor had now quickly retracted and a large light source appeared on the ground as a man with a brown velvet waistcoat and an excessively large scarf casually walked out towards them. Picking up the dragging part of the multi-colored wool scarf, he threw it over his shoulder to get it out of the way and removed the floppy dark brown brimmed hat from his head. A head full of brown curls and a toothy grin that gave the Tenth Doctor a reason to smile back.
"Hello me…" The Tenth said to the man as he rose up to meet him.
"Hello there…I say, it's rather dark out here isn't it?" The curly haired man giggled as he shook the Doctor's hand.
The Guardian wasn't amused by this intrusion again. His eyes that once were all a flame with red fury began to dissipate and gave a groan of annoyance.
"Not again…" He sighed. "I suppose you are the fourth incarnation…"
"Yes!" The wooly scarfed man replied cheerfully. "I'm the Doctor…oh…but you knew that. Of course you did how silly of me…still never hurts to repeat it I say. Goodness me…do you know that your little dramatics almost didn't allow me to have my say? I mean…come on…you let the others tout on about saving my life but don't let me come in. Rather rude wouldn't you say? Would anyone care for a jelly baby?"
The Fourth Doctor opened a small bag out of his pocket and shared it with his other self, after he takes one out to eat, the curly haired man tries offering it to the Guardian. With a furious snarl on his face, the man smacks it out of the Doctors hand and spills it to the ground. The Fourth Doctor looks surprised by his actions and quickly frowns at the result.
"Not a jelly baby fan I take it?"
"You Doctor are the most stubborn, most contemptible and most ludicrous Timelord I've ever encountered!" The Guardian howls.
Bowing slightly to his words, the Fourth Doctor grins takes the praise for what it is.
"Oh thank you. Nice to be a challenge to someone like you Infinite Guardian. Infinite Guardian…you know I don't believe I've ever actually read any facts about you, strange isn't it?"
"What do you mean?" The man curiously asks.
The Fourth Doctor paces around him as he rubs his chin and begins playing with a yo-yo after taking it out of his other pocket.
"Well, to be honest…there aren't any legends about an Infinite Guardian, oh there's the legend of the Zero Time…the realm of nowhere, a mythical area where all bad little Timelords go that don't eat their veggies. But no real mention of someone like you controlling it all. Interesting…isn't it?"
"That's true." The Tenth Doctor suddenly realizes. "Zero Time was merely only a fable…but no one was supposed to be in control of it…"
"Exactly." The other Doctor grinned with his toothy smile. "Zero Time isn't a zone of space and time…it's the apex of all beginnings…or endings if you like. And no being…not even the Black or the White Guardian have any control over its existence."
The Doctor stops playing with his toy and walks straight up the Infinite Guardian's face and lowers his voice, as he looks him in the eye.
"So…who are you really?"
"I am the Infinite Guardian, Doctor. I am the beginning and the end."
"No you're not." The Doctor says as he continues to keep close to him. "The White and Black Guardian are the only two Galifreian beings that control the destiny of time and space. I ought to know…I met with both of them and neither one has ever mentioned you to neither me nor any other Timelord in existence. So who are you…really?"
The Tenth Doctor watches the two men stare at one another and suddenly comes up with the one answer that must be true.
"You're not a Guardian…are you? You aren't supposed to be here are you?"
"Careful Doctor…" The man replies as he continues to lock eyes with the curly haired challenger. "Questioning my existence is one of utter contempt. Don't change the subject…it is not my life in jeopardy…but yours."
Releasing himself from the gaze, the Fourth Doctor places his hands into his pants pockets and strolls back facing his other self.
"Yes…my life is in jeopardy. And for now you do seem to have me at a crossroads that I can't seem to find an exit out of. But I wonder…"
The multi-colored scarfed Doctor looked up at his other self and finished his thought.
"Are you in the same predicament as me? Or are you trying to delay me for some other purpose?"
"Yes…" The Tenth Doctor nods as he now becomes in full tune with his former self's way of thinking. "Strange how you seem so concerned with my choice in the manner in which I die. Now why would that matter to someone like a Guardian of any status…Black, White…Infinite? I think you're hiding the truth from me."
"I hide nothing from you Doctor!" The Guardian quickly snaps as he turns away from the two.
"Wrong!" The Fourth Doctor shouts out loud.
As he turns around to face the Guardian again, he now has changed in appearance again. This time his dark curly hair has now become white and his once toothy grin now a scowling older facade. The scarf and brown jacket had become a deep velvet of blue and a white ruffled shirt that bore a purple silk bow tie.
"You hide the truth!" The next Doctor says with a slight lisp. "You don't belong here…just as I don't belong here."
Quickly walking over to the Guardian, he grabs him by the arm and forces him to face him.
"You're trapped aren't you? Trapped just as I am…admit it. You're no Guardian…"
Flinging the man away from him, the power of the regal looking being sends the Third Doctor straight over to the Tenth as he catches him from the throw.
"Oh dear…that was foolish of me." The lisping man says, as he looks at his other self.
"Are you trying to get me killed? Or is this all part of the plan?" The Doctor says as he helps the other up.
"Trust me my boy…I think this is working."
"No its not…" Another voice suddenly booms out from behind them.
Both Doctor turn around and see a strange looking short man with checkered trousers and a long black jacket that seems too big for him. His thick eyebrows match he color of his straight bowl shaped black hair and gazes at them standing there.
"This is going to make things worst. Now stop all this foolishness and lets get to the heart of the matter."
"Oh god…not him." The Tenth moans as he shakes his head disappointingly.
"What the hell are you doing here?" The Third Doctor shouts.
The quirky little man shuffles his feet over to them and raises his eyebrows humorously.
"Oh, not happy to see me are we? Too bad fancy pants. You had your chance at this fellow, now make way for someone that actually knows what their doing."
The white haired Doctor snickered at his remark and folded his arms over in frustration.
"You? Rubbish…what are you going to do this time? Play him a tune on that silly recorder of yours…Scarecrow?"
"Oh, how dare you…I'll have you know that recorder of mine saved our lives when Omega threatened the universe!"
"Yes and if you recall it was my plan that managed to get us out of that trap." The Third Doctor replies.
"You're plan?" The Second Doctor questions.
"Yes my plan…I had no choice but to bring you along, why the Timelords keep sending you to help me is beyond reason."
"Maybe because they know I've got more experience and less frills on my shirt! I mean really…who are you trying to impress with that snooty outfit of yours!"
"The only experience you've got is sticking that big hook of a nose of yours into trouble!" The Third Doctor shouts as he tweaks the other mans nose.
The two men continued to quarrel with one another as they tried to out do each other's insults and suggestions on how to handle the situation. The infinite Guardian couldn't take the loud banter anymore and threw his hand out to send a blue bolt of energy at their feet. The two former Doctors recoiled in fear and silenced immediately.
"ENOUGH!" The riled Guardian demands. "This comedy is over! Choose the path…choose it now!"
All three Doctors look at one another and pause as they glance at each other. With a growing smile between them all, they each give a slight nod and both the Second and the Third Doctor shake hands hesitantly. The two Doctors soon give the Tenth Doctor a pat on the shoulder and a reassuring smile.
"Sorry ol' boy…time for us to make our exit." The Third Doctor smiles.
"Yes…short as our visit is try not to ruin the moment by giving us a group hug or anything like that…fancy pants here wouldn't want to crush that frilly shirt of his." The Second Doctor says as he gives a playful smirk to the white haired man.
"Alright, alright…lets just do it as we intended. Scarecrow."
The Tenth Doctor giggles slightly and watches his former selves walk up to the angered Guardian together.
"You are not the infinite Guardian! You are a fraud!" The Third Doctor shouts.
"A charlatan dear sir! A charlatan!" The Second agrees loudly. "We defy you! We defy you and deny you…you're a fake!
"A phony!" The white haired Doctor adds.
"A liar!" The Second says as they join together in berating the man looking at them in growing anger.
"Death doesn't come for us!" The Third continues.
"It comes instead for you…the infinite fool!" The Second states last.
With a blast from his red eyes, now burning brighter in anger then ever before, the Guardian vaporizes the two men and howls in a demonic tone as he erases them from his sight. With the Tenth Doctor shielding his eyes from the ever-glowing power from the man's vision, he steps back slowly as he notices the Guardian marching over to him in haste.
"I've tried to give an easy passing, Doctor." The infinite creature growled. "I tried to be patient as you delayed me for as long as you could. But now you've forced me to make the choice for you…and I think that you shall be taken out of time forever…and never exists ever again!"
The Doctor quickly begins to run for his life, through the darkness he can feel the sand on his feet, the light barely giving him enough to see the direction he is going, but soon comes to a halt when he notices the three lane post appear out of the shadows. Two of the signs burn in flame and dissolve to the ground; the only one pointing now is the one to the endless void. The Doctor suddenly trips and falls to the ground in front of the only road left and rolls over to see the demonic looking Guardian coming towards him with his hand stretched out to grab him.
"Goodbye Doctor…Forever and always!" The creature laughs.
"We're losing him!" The young Timelord shouts.
"The energy spike has tripled! How is that possible?" Megan says in anger. "The random frequencies are working anymore…its as if the energy is attaching itself to every one we create!"
The Galifreian President runs over to the console just as Andrea gasps at the sudden change of the Doctor's body color. The hue of his skin tone now becomes red and starts to pulsate like a glowing star.
"Turn it off…turn it off now!" Devendari shouts.
"We can Lord President!" The young man continues to scream. "We can't…I've tried everything…it's like the energy is on a build up to detonation!"
"Try damn you…try harder! Rip out every circuit if you must…but just shut this machine off!"
Megan and the Lord President of Galifrey try to help the frantic computer operator as they both try any switch and rip off the side panels of the computer to remove the wires. As the Doctor's body starts to turn bright red he begins to shake violently and light begins shine out of him like an ora of doom. Andrea watches the horrifying spectacle before her as she kneels before him, tears streaming down her face as she watches her good friend die. Reaching out with her hand, she tries to gab hold of his and shouts at him in anger.
"Fight Doctor! Fight damn you! Don't leave like this…FIGHT!"
Screaming at the sight of the flaming red hand of the devilish Guardian reaching for him, the Doctor once again closes his eyes for the worst. With no place left to run, no other way of getting out of the way, he feels this is indeed the end of him.
A new voice suddenly shouts to the infinite creature, an older male voice that gets his attention and makes him look up. The Doctor also opens his eyes and sees the person standing at the road sign with a scowl on his face.
"You have no right to force this choice on me." The old man shouts again.
Dressed in a black tailed coat, grey trousers and pin striped vest, the old man walks over as he stares down the red flamed guardian. His skinny old frame and white hair gives him a wise appearance, aged and feisty this man shakes his finger at the demon like a scolding parent to a child.
"Now get away from this poor lad. Back I say!"
The Guardian steps away slowly and eyes the little ancient man that orders him.
"Who are you to command me?" The red flamed creature angrily demands. "Your time has come…I am the one who commands here."
"No you are not." The old man points again. "I am the Doctor…the original host. While I have lived many lives, my mind has been one and the same throughout all of them. You command nothing here…absolutely nothing. For you are a prisoner…yes…a prisoner sent here by the Guardians of Time!"
The Tenth Doctor, still laying on the ground looks at the being and finally realizes that it's true.
"You have no power over me, over time…or even this Lost Zone…you are…what are you?"
The creature howls in laugher and gazes down at them both.
"I was the most powerful being in the universe…before there was a universe…I was the beginning and I was the end…I was here before the Guardians ever were."
"Yes…you were…" The First Doctor admits. "But once the Guardians became powerful, they combined their powers to place you here. A zone much like my ancestors used to create to amuse themselves…only this one is holding you here…as your prison."
"The fable is true then?" The Tenth Doctor asks as he rises up with the help of his original self.
"Yes my boy, it seems as if it is. But not so much as it was foretold over the generations. I seem to recall a mention of an ancient text discovered in the tomb of Rassilon, about the origins of the Guardians and the struggle to maintain a balance in the universe. Perhaps that was the forbidden knowledge the Timelords have been trying to keep secret for eternity. It would explain many things…hmm."
"Yes…" The other Doctor nods. "I remember some of the fable now…about a creature that did not belong in our dimension, one that fought the Guardians of Time and Space as they shaped it into existence."
"The Guardians…I despise them! They lied to you creatures, made you believe that all space and time began with them. Give me freedom Doctor…and I shall spare you're life." The creature snickered.
The old man paced for a second and tapped his index finger to his lips as he continued to think.
"What crimes I wonder have you done to warrant such a controlled place? Why would they send you here and not destroy you…perhaps the nothing can kill you or survive without you being in here? Or maybe…maybe you're here because if you are turned loose…all life will perish. This is indeed a disturbing riddle…but a riddle that no one should ever find an answer too."
The Tenth Doctor reached over to the old man and debated the issue.
"Why not get the answer? Think of what this could mean…the universe…all life…the very faith of which all beings share could change…perhaps for the better."
"No." The old man says bitterly. "This is what the creature wants…don't you see…to destroy faith is to destroy everything. There's something bigger then the universe, something grander then you and I my dear boy. A cosmic fact so large and daunting that only the Guardians themselves could comprehend its very nature. And for us to expose the secret, to reveal the truth, to look where no other dares…it would be the end of…well…everything my boy, everything."
Looking back up at the red fiery creature, the Tenth Doctor gets a flash of terror about that thought.
"Everything…an endless void of nothingness. Now I see why they put you here…because you are the balance to the universe…and to set you free would mean it's very collapse."
Looking back at his original self, the Tenth Doctor gave him a curious look.
"But, why would he make me choose? Why did he want me dead? What was I to him?"
"A means to escape." The old man smirks. "You…or I that is…were the only one that managed to slip into this Zero Time area. He's never had anyone here before and once he saw the opportunity…he needed us to choose because he couldn't take our mind by force. Once we surrendered to his will…he would have taken our body and been reborn."
"The evil me." The Doctor gasps. "The Thirteenth Doctor…that's how it happens."
The old man giggles at his conclusion and shakes his head negatively.
"Oh my boy…there is no evil me. There never was."
"Eh?" The chubby faced Doctor curiously sounds. "I beg to differ…I fought him when I was on trial…he was there…I saw him, he even admitted he was me."
"Nonsense." The First Doctor chuckles. "We both know that there is no dark side to me."
"Yes there is Doctor." The Guardian now interrupts. "I've scanned your mind while you've been wasting time, seen the many evils you've faced or encountered. Did you not try to murder the Daleks during their genesis? Kill Cybermen at every meeting? You meddle and change history whenever it suits you. You've even managed to eliminate some of your dear companions in your journeys. Is that not a dark side to your nature?"
Both look at one another and give an uncomfortable gaze.
"He's right you know." The Tenth Doctor admits. "I've seemed to cause death and destruction where ever I go. Perhaps…my fate is sealed to one path."
"I don't believe it my boy." The old man scowls. "Yes I've made mistakes…yes I've meddled and come so close to the edge that I would surely become as twisted as the Master. But I for one have faith in my own morals, my own convictions, and that when it comes to choosing what is right from wrong…I always follow my heart…."
Then giving a wink of his eye and tapping his forehead, the aged Doctor looks at his Tenth self and finishes his statement.
"And my mind. For you see…you will never be alone…we're all in here together with you to make the right choices. Regenerations where given to the Timelords to make them learn from previous mistakes, to do away with immortality and make them more sympathetic to just how fragile life is. Some learn from them, others tend to waste them. But that learning was the key to our existence…and speaking on all my other selves behalf's…we have never wasted them. Time to forget the man you might be…and just be the man you are."
The demonic Guardian growled again at them. Listening to this endless rambling increased his anger and made him grow double in size. Wings of flame now stretched out from behind his back and his true evil form ripped away the clothing he wore. The massive horned red flamed creature balled his fists as he roared, but the two Doctors remained where they were and never gave in to fear of his true self.
"You must die Doctor!" The screeching demon demands. "I've been here too long to be stopped by the likes of you! Now you shall stay here for all eternity, a prisoner locked away while I return to the universe and feed on its energy!"
Both men stare at the hulking form and reply in unison.
"What?" The creature says.
"You have no power here or over us." The old man states.
"Only the combined will of my mind is capable of leaving this void." The Tenth Doctor smirks. "That's why you really need me…you need all the life force of my previous lives to leave this time loop your stuck in. But I don't submit to your will…and I for one…am tired of being here."
"Come my boy." The old Doctor smiles. "Nothing for us here. Nothing at all…just a endless riddle that must never be solved. And who'd want to solve it? Certainly not me…I've wasted enough lives trying to find it."
The old man eyes the Doctor's costume and gives a slight sigh.
"And I've certainly wasted enough fashion over the course of time as well."
Both Doctors turn away and begin walking down the only road still visible. The sign post at the end collapses into flame and disappears. The creature howls again at the men and reaches out with its massive hand.
"Doctor! Doctor! You will regret this…evil shall take you…you will become my servant and all life will pay for your mistake!"
The Tenth Doctor pauses in his steps and lets the older Doctor continue walking alone for a second. Turning back to gaze at the burning demon, he shakes his head and gives a comedic wave to him.
"Sorry, must dash my good chap. Enjoy the rest of forever…totally alone."
The Doctor catches up with the older man and both pat one another on the back as they continue walking.
"No Doctor! No! Nooooooo!"
As it howls on endlessly, a bright light begins to crack open in the darkness and the two grinning Timelords become enveloped in it as they leave the zone.
In the chamber on Galifrey, room suddenly lights up in a bright light and dims back to its regular light source. Devendari looks over at the Doctor and notices his body has stop glowing. His skin no longer reflects the vortex of space-time, instead it has turned mute in color and his breathing has ended. Rushing over to feel his wrist and listen to both hearts from his chest, the man closes his eyes in disbelief.
"He's Dead." The Lord President sighs as he stands over the Doctor's pale lifeless body.
The Timelord President turns to the others looking on and walks away slowly from the Doctor's corpse. Andrea is sobbing with grief as Megan comes to embrace her in comfort. The two companions cannot believe they couldn't save him. The other Timelords in the room gather round and bow their heads at his passing.
"Strange how the time stream seems unaffected by his death." Devendari admits with surprise. "Perhaps the Doctor was not such a vital link to the cosmos as we all thought."
Andrea pulls away from Megan; the comforting hug she gave wasn't enough to end her tears. She walks back over to the Doctor's body and leans in over his head.
"I will miss you so much my friend…perhaps the day will come when we'll meet again…in another life beyond this one."
Suddenly the Doctor's skin color returns to its normal tone, his nostrils flare as they breathe in the air and his eyes pop open as he looks up at Andrea hovering over him.
"Must you weep over me…I'm getting soaking wet here."
"DOCTOR!" Andrea shouts in hysterical amazement.
The entire room was startled by his return and the sound of his voice made Megan jump back in shock.
"We…we thought…I mean…you were…" Megan stutters.
"Dead?" The Timelord muses. "Yes…I was…"
He then props himself up quickly and turns to face the entire room with a grin.
"But thankfully my time wasn't quite up yet."
Andrea gives him a great big hug and laughs at his return. Megan smiles joyfully and joins him as he sits at the edge of the table.
"What the hell happened to you Doctor? We tried everything to bring you back?"
"Well Megan…" He says scratching his forehead. "Hell is probably the best description I can give. Believe me…I don't ever want to go back to it ever again."
Andrea wipes the tears from her cheeks and caresses his face.
"How? How did you come back?" She inquires.
"I have my full life to thank for my return. And a certain shrilling voice of someone telling me to fight."
The Lord President of Galifrey crouched down to the Doctor's eye level and gazed at him with curiosity.
"Doctor…are you sure you're alright? The energy drain from you was enormous…we thought for sure that if we brought you back suddenly that you'd die from the shock or return as your final regenerative state…"
The Doctor hugged Andrea, as he was happy to see her again and looked up at the curious leader with a cheerful grin.
"Oh no Lord President. I think I have a few more lives to spare before the end."