Prologue: Satan's Voice
In the beginning, there was understanding.
- The Book of Rassilon
"I could save everyone."
There was something wrong with the Doctor's voice, something wrong with his eyes. Sarah watched him, but she knew that both she and Rose had passed from his mind. Whatever he could see now, it didn't include them.
"Yes," said Finch, leaning forwards, his voice silky, intimate. He watched the Doctor, and the Doctor watched civilisations rise, and people laugh and live and never say goodbye. He saw the Capital on Gallifrey, bright with life. Brighter than it had been as it burnt in the temporal inferno he had sent cascading across his civilisation. Bright and white and raging with a life that would never end.
"I could stop the war." No-one would have to die. No Time Lord. No Dalek. He could save the Kaleds, the Gelth, the Nestene. No worlds would have to end. No worlds would ever have to end.
Gallifrey reborn. And all the lives that she had created through the millennia.
Finch almost smiled.
"No," said Sarah. "The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love."
The Doctor watched Finch's face, watched it fall. Behind his eyes Gallifrey fell. Tears and ashes.
"Whether it's a world, or a relationship," continued Sarah.
The Doctor looked at her, waited, but she said nothing more. "No," he said, rejecting her words. "No."
"Ah." Finch, triumph. He stepped forward, taking the Doctor's shoulders. "The equation is complete. Listen. Listen, my brothers!"
Around him, a light grew, billowing from the electronics, lancing out, looking for its creator. For the Krillitanes, and now, for the Doctor.
Their images faded into the light. Sharp, green and growing.
And then Sarah grabbed Rose's hand. "Run," she hissed in her ear.
Rose hesitated, still watching the Doctor. "We can't just-"
"We have to. There's nothing we can do." Sarah took a firm grip of her arm, propelled her from the room.
They raced through the corridors. Something was following, not the Doctor, not Finch, nor any of the Krillitanes, but something. Sarah looked back, watched as the air seemed to roll towards them. A great wave, translucent and insubstantial, but it sent a stab of terror through her.
She gripped Rose's hand a little harder, ran a little faster, ignored the pain in her chest, the protests from her muscles.
They were out of the school. "Mickey!" yelled Rose as they kept running. No reply, and Sarah concentrated on nothing except the tarmac beneath her feet. Keep running.
There was an explosion. Bright and fierce and green, so very green. It knocked Sarah and Rose forward, knocking them apart.
Sarah coughed; the air stank. She brushed the grit from her bruised palms. Her hands had born the brunt of her fall. She looked up, seeing nothing, her eyes stung with smoke.
A hand stretched out to her, offering to help her up, and it was not Rose's. Small and pale, and when she took it the skin was cool beneath her own.
"If you want to live," said the hand's owner, "come with me."