Maybe it was a was beyond imagination. Maybe the true tale would break the mind of human kind, and only the edges could be seen, broken and frayed as they were. Maybe those who fought in that war were beyond help. Maybe the stories that happened in that war could never be told.

But if we dare try to guess at them, who knows what we may uncover? Truth? it might well be a hell of a story...

The three nervous Time Lords stood opposite one another in the Room. They glanced at each other, each filled with private reservations about what was about to occur, what they were about to do, but they were part – if only in secret – of the CIA, and they would do what they must. The war had already begun, and would only continue from where it had developed, would only become more horrible and vain and brutal and destructive. If the plan they had worked, it would end right within relative weeks. Now all they had to do was summon him.

Within the Vortex Room, there resided a portal whereby the Time Lords could access the Vortex when emergency situations dictated the necessity. The three nervous Time Lords were Vortrax, Carnol and Serveck.

Vortrax was the Prydonian representative, a small and unimpressive man, with light blue eyes.

Carnol was the representative of the Arcalian academy, a tall noble looking man, with brown eyes and peroxide blonde hair.

Serveck was the Patraxes candidate, a middle aged appearing man with brown hair, brown eyes and a broken nose that had never healed properly, which everyone assumed he would get rid of come his next regeneration, though he himself quite liked it.

They stared into the expanse before them, each of them debating what they were about to do.

"Are we sure about this?" asked Carnol at last, breaking the tense silence.

"We have no choice", said Serveck, who had thought long and hard about this decision. He was the leader of this group in all but name, and the others followed his orders. They seemed to make sense, if nothing else.

They knew what was happening. What was coming; horror beyond imagination. They knew they would need warriors. He was about perfect.

"But how do we know we can trust him?" asked Vortrax, sceptically. "He's as devious a Time Lord as has ever existed."

The three Time Lords looked deep into the swirling expanse. It seemed to mock their indecisiveness – if they strained, they might have heard echoing laughter. Or it could have been the wind.

"He is all but dead", said Serveck at last. "He owes us."

"He is utterly insane", countered Carnol. "He won't care."

Serveck glowered at the others. He had run over all of these arguments in his own head a thousand times, and had come up with this as his answer anyway. Why could they not just accept his decision?

"I have thought about everything you say," he told them, "and all that you say leads me to just one conclusion. WE HAVE NO CHOICE!"

The other two bowed their heads at his impassioned shout, accepting this statement. It was true. They had no other choice. If they had had another choice, they would never have come here.

"Very well then", said Serveck in a faux- calm voice. "Now if that is all?"

The others nodded again.

Then, as one, they all stood forward. A lever came up to each, and each put their hand upon it.

The three looked at each other one last time. This was the point of no return. He would be free after this, and there was no way they could stop him if he ran out of control.

They each pulled the lever they had. The Eye opened, a great swirling Vortex, all blue and green and yellow and red… and in the heart of it there was a figure, only just discernable, twisting in agony.

Then the light receded, and the figure fell to the floor in a heap, naked and sweating. He was red raw, charred and burned, until the light came over him. The new regenerative cycle came to him and restored his shattered frame.

Serveck walked up to him, slowly, cautiously. The contempt on his face was plain as his broken nose.

New ears strained to hear what was being yelled at him.

"You, who insolently call yourself the Master, have been given a final chance," a voice said, a snarl of anger and barely restrained disgust. The Master blinked and held in a snarl of anger – his new body was firey. He liked that.

And the drums of course, were omnipresent as always, the rhythmic tapping calling him to battle. The Master looked up, and saw the figure of a grey-robed Time Lord standing over him.

"In exchange for doing a... small task for us," the strained, disgusted voice continued, "you have been granted a new life cycle, but now you must do the task and repay us."

The Master looked up at him, squinting. Young and handsome, blue eyes that were disfigured by the hatred that burnt within them, the insanity that shined clear. None of the Time Lords could bear to look at those eyes for long.

"Why should I help you?" he spat at last.

"Because if you don't, renegade," said Vortrax, "we will put you right back in that Vortex to die in horrible agony."

The Master looked at the assembled Time Lords, they could practically see the cogs turning. What they couldn't see was the drumming, and what he thought it might now mean.

A task. The Doctor, the last time they had met, had spoken of a war, a conflict that he had felt brewing. Could this now be it?

"Get me some clothes", he said at last, standing to his feet.

"Why?" asked Carnol slowly.

"I can't do your 'task' naked, can I?" snapped the Master. "Or would you like my various parts on show to the whole cosmos?"

The Time Lords looked at each other in mixed relief and trepidation – and mild amusement.

Serveck turned back to the Master and smiled coldly.

"Very well. Here is what you must do..."

"I thought, when we conceded to the act of Master Restitution, that they'd be satisfied," she said, coldy, angrily.

Madam President Romanadvoratrelundar was furious. And she was worried. She concentrated on the anger, letting it flow in chilled bursts of calm words, but keeping the emotion behind them there. She tried ignoring the worry, but it was always there. She forced herself to be angry. Anger was good. It kept people on their toes. Her most recent regeneration was an older woman, and she felt that it suited her position of authority well.

"We all thought that, Madam President, but it appears that they were not," said Vortrax, her chief adviser. "It seems they've found out about the Master's... exploits, on the planet Earth. And no matter how much we assure them that he is, they refuse to believe that he is dead."

Romana sighed, frustration and anger ebbing, replaced by hopelessness. The Act of Master Restitution – giving the Daleks the Master. The agreement was, the Daleks would be recognised as an authority so they could try the Master for crimes for which the penalty – like all penalty – would be death (thus, the Time Lords wouldn't have to get their hands dirty). Then the Master would be allowed a will. He got his wish.

"He is dead, though," she said, exasperatedly. "The Doctor assured me that after that business with the Eye of Harmony that he couldn't be alive, and that even if he was, his essence was scattered all over the Time Vortex, never to be seen again."

"Nonetheless, the Daleks believe he is alive," Vortrax said, "And they've stepped up their attacks. The Cruciform has fallen to a full Dalek fleet."

"What!" yelled Romana, horror struck. The Cruciform was the most powerful weapon in existence. The single most powerful weapon that had ever or would ever be created. When functioning properly, it was capable of causing a massive temporal meltdown that would destroy a planet before you could say Vortex, and it wasn't a nice blip-out-of-existence style meltdown either, oh no, it was the ugly kind…

"I know," Vortrax said, clearly sharing her horror at the news. "We had all the protection on it that was possible, but the Emperor is serious this time. Ten Million Dalek battlecruisers are heading for Arcadia, the Cruciform at their head."

Romana sat down; this was all too much... the Cruciform, taken? Arcadia, the great Time Lord colony, under attack? Then she calmed down. Why hadn't she thought of it earlier? It was so simple.

"Don't worry, Vortrax," she said, a smile spreading across her face. "We have a weapon the Daleks could only dream of."

"And what might that be, Madam President?" asked Vortrax sceptically.

"We have the Doctor," she said.

Vortrax's face lit up in dawning comprehension.

"I shall send for him at once, Madam President!" he said, and hurried off. Romana sat down, and smiled again. K-9, her faithful companion, trundled over to her.

"I have contacted the Doctor – master already, mistress," he said, his voice clipped and mechanical as always. "He will be arriving shortly, if my sensors are to be believed, which they are."

Romana patted him on the head. He was an arrogant sod, but she couldn't dream of a life without him.

"Good dog, K-9," she said softly. "Good dog."

She sat back. When the Doctor got here, she would explain, he would help, and the Daleks would be defeated. Just like the good old days.

Vortrax strode over to Carnol. The other Time Lord had been waiting for him for some time.

"No news from the Master?" he asked as soon as Vortrax reached him.

Carnol shook his head solemnly.

"If we're lucky, they killed him along with all the others," he said. "But if they got him alive..."

Vortrax finished the sentence.

"... then Rassilon knows what he'll tell them. He's not exactly honourable, or trustworthy, is he?"

The two exchanged doleful looks, and then went their separate ways, each hoping that the Master was dead.

It was quiet. A silence that deafened his soul to the point of being in pain. How could one bear that silence? How had he survived it, back in the old days after Ace and Hex had gone. His mission had been finished now. The secret war he had been fighting for years had ended; Davros was dead, destroyed.

On another side of the console, a light started flashing. He walked over to it, and flicked a switch, then checked the scanner; a message came up.


He blinked once. Just once, and then he flicked several switches in quick succession. War. "We are at war." The Time Lords at war? Confusion reigned in his mind. It wasn't possible.

Except it obviously was.

He calmed himself down with an effort; if the Time Lords were at war, he knew it would be serious. He considered it carefully; obviously, there had been hints. The Master had known something, but that knowledge had bled away from him. The gangsters had known, the ones tracking his future (possible) incarnation. The Zagrites had mentioned... something. The angels and demons, fighting a war in heaven.

And the demons had been...

This was going to be bad, he just knew it.