The Metals Series
Disclaimer: Any actual dialogue in this epilogue belongs to RTD and The Beeb, I merely borrowed it for creative purposes...I intend to put it back exactly how I found it!
The Earth is still. A cacophony of beautiful brilliant colours greet him every time he escapes his lonely prison; so alien to him, despite all this time. The Doctor stands in a jade field, so different from the crimson of his innocence, and watches as the final golden flames flicker and die, turning to platinum ash and scattering across the wind. His face is impassive, whilst Theta screams inside his head, sobbing one name over and over again. It's too late. The Master is dead.
There is one burning flash of brilliant platinum light and the whole world splinters, tearing apart at its fragile seams. The Time Lords are returning, the people who held the power to rip time and space apart with one motion; the people who have already destroyed the two battle-hardened Time Lords before them.
The Doctor clutches at the cold tiled floor, willing himself to wake up from this nightmare dream; the Time Lords returning. He has dreamt of this moment for centuries, but not like this. He longed for the Time Lords of his childhood, before the Time War when they were a peaceful people with great knowledge and wisdom; traits he aspired to one day encompass. Not like this. These are the Time Lords of his nightmares; the vengeful gods…the Time Lords Victorious. He hated himself for becoming one of them. Not again. Never again.
The Master doesn't understand. As always he's rushing headlong into danger and destruction, as if he doesn't even care if he lives or dies. The truth is, he doesn't. His newly resurrected body is fraying at the seams, as fragile as glass and the ice that has set into his already cold heart. He shouldn't have this energy; it's unnatural, but it feels so right that he should be this powerful, despite the pain that is ripping him apart. But that's not important. He knows he should listen to what the Doctor is telling him; the terror of the Time Lords, the sheer hungry power and ear-splitting rage of his people…but he doesn't. It all sounds so glorious to him in his maddened state. He turns and addresses Rassilon.
"Then…take me with you, Lord President. Let me ascend into glory!"
"You are diseased, be it a disease of our own making. No more." Even through the haze of his insanity, the Master feels the sting of this disgrace, as if it was somehow his fault that he had been chosen to be the outlet for Rassilon's own power-hungry lunacy. It could have so easily been the Doctor. Why not him? He watches the icy blue glow of Rassilon's gauntlet and wonders, as he had done so many years ago with Theta in those crimson fields, whether dying hurts. He waits. He waits for the inevitable.
And suddenly it all makes sense to the Doctor. He can see the whole of Space and Time and he feels so unbelievably stupid that he missed this; the reason why he lost Koschei all those centuries ago…and his anger boils over, running through his veins down to the very tips of his fingers and making them sing and seethe with hate. The service revolver in his hand, which had felt so weighty with guilt and duty before, feels like the lightest thing in the world now. It would be so easy. One pull of the trigger and all his hate would disappear. Forever.
The Master hears an echoing click and suddenly the Doctor is pointing a gun between Rassilon's hearts. A small voice in the back of his mind screams for Theta, knowing him to be anything but a cold-hearted murderer. The Master recognises it; the voice of all those nagging doubts…Koschei.
Come on, just one tiny movement and it's gone. Just one and you can have your Koschei back. One insignificant life for your forever; it's a fair exchange. He took it from you!
The words drift into the Doctor's subconscious and he can feel them moving their way through his mind, cutting off every synapse until all he can hear is Koschei's beautiful voice singing through his mind in all the bright brilliant colours of their childhood. And then he remembers.
'But if you could choose, Doctor…If you could decide who lives and who dies…that would make you a monster…'
'Is there nothing you can't do?'…'Not anymore.'
His hand shakes, his finger faltering on the trigger. He has always prided himself on being 'The Man Who Never Would'. What does this make him now? His resolve dwindles slightly, the hate dissipating.
"Choose your enemy well. We are many, the Master is but one." It's a fatal mistake as far as the Doctor is concerned. Rassilon thinks that he cares about his own life but that's not why he's pointing the gun at the President. If anything, the fact that he is outnumbered makes him all the more determined to save the Master's life by any means necessary. His grip on the gun tightens again.
Panic creeps into the Master's mind, seeping through his subconscious. He wonders if the Doctor might not do it, if they might both die here on this godforsaken planet. And worse still, that the Doctor might actually want that; to die on the planet of his ridiculous human pets! So he takes a chance, while the Doctor still seems vulnerable.
"But he's the President…kill him and Gallifrey could be yours!" It is mostly panic and a pathetic attempt at persuasion…but one tiny part of him is marvelling at the possibilities of ruling Gallifrey on high with the one man he never stopped loving. The Doctor swings around and there is another resounding click. The gun never waivers.
He watches the sheer fury in the Doctor's face and the panic sets in deeper than ever before. The face in front of him appears like a stranger's. Some indifferent mask of a cold-blooded killer, someone who could end his life with one movement, one bullet.
"He's to blame, not me!" And then he looks closer, really examining the intricacies of the Doctor's expression, finally understanding his old companion's inner turmoil. It was killing him to have to make this decision. And suddenly it all fits into place and he knows why the gun is pointing in his direction. "Oh…the link is inside my head. Kill me, the link gets broken, they go back."
Silence. The ever-dragging silence as the Doctor just stares at him and anger floods the Master's body. Why won't he say something? "You never would, you coward!" He spits the words out, somehow knowing that the word 'coward' might just save his life…but the gun never moves and the Doctor's hand is as steady as the rocks that they had spent lazy afternoons lying across, their hands clasped together, relishing the closeness of each other. He shudders at the thought of where they are now.
"Go on then…" he goads, not seeing any change in the Doctor's expression. "Do it!" Still nothing. No reaction from the man for whom emotions are the most precious treasure. Koschei screams in the back of the Master's mind, struggling for some control over the mess, willing Theta to snap out of it, to come back to him. Koschei shakes his head, almost unnoticeably and for a second, Theta peers out of the Doctor's stony expression and the gun moves again, resting in its position between Rassilon's hearts.
The second the barrel of the gun shifts away from him, Koschei is pushed back into his rightful place in oblivion and the Master is back in control.
"Exactly! It's not just me, it's him! He's the link! Kill him!" Theta flinches slightly, the memories of that day in the Prydonian tower flooding back to him in a haze of blood and dark words and aching laughter. He runs away as always to hide in happier memories of sunlight and silver blue water leaving the Doctor staring at Rassilon with a determined expression.
"The final act of your life is murder…but which one of us?"
The Master watches the back of the Doctor's frame, waiting to see which way this situation will swing, wondering which end his old friend will lead them to. The waiting seems to drag on forever but in reality, it is over in a few seconds and the gun hovers in front of him again, challenging him. But there's no point to its taunting; all the fight has left him and his head tilts slightly to one side, his expression quietly accepting as tears well up slightly and blur his vision. He waits for the explosion as the cartridge is propelled from the barrel and into his body. How ironic that this time it would end with a bullet again, except this time, it would be the Doctor's own hand that pulled the trigger. He wonders if the Doctor would hold him again. But no shot came.
"Get out of the way."
Confusion. And then the sudden realisation dawning across the Master's face gave way to a small smile as he dives away from the white point star and the Doctor fires the gun.
"The link is broken! Back into the Time War, Rassilon! Back into hell!" screams the Doctor, his expression manic.
The explosion transforms into a beautiful haze of platinum and for one golden second, Theta and Koschei can see the rolling crimson fields of their childhood as a voice cries out.
"Gallifrey falling! Gallifrey falls!"
"You'll die with me, Doctor." Rassilon's voice is malicious and he raises his gauntleted hand, twisting it to point at the Doctor.
"I know." There is resignation in the Doctor's face. The promise of his death had finally come and he was ready to face it. All the preparation in the world would not have satisfied him so all he could do was face his destruction with all the bravery he has been shown during every single one of his long lives.
Koschei struggles to stand up, watching Rassilon's gauntlet glow blue, ready to destroy his precious Theta. The raw energy of his broken resurrection danced at his fingertips and he made the decision before even thinking about it. Jumping into danger and destruction without even thinking, because his life doesn't matter to him. Not if it saves Theta.
"Get out of the way."
Theta looks at Koschei and his head screams at him to stop, that his life is worth more than this, that none of it is necessary, that he will love him forever regardless, but Koschei draws back, pushing his crackling energy towards Rassilon.
"You did this to me! All of my life!" Another bolt of power. "You made me!" He punctuates his words and all his fatigue lifts away and he pushes Rassilon back into the Time War with quick sharp bursts. The drums. The never-ending drums. "One! Two! Three! Four!"
Theta watches, horrified, as Koschei disappears into the blinding platinum light, his hearts breaking. The end of their childhood dreaming.
The light is brighter than ever before. And it burns. A blaze of fire, ice, and rage. It will end soon, whispers a tiny voice, somehow breaking through the inferno of his consciousness. He looks down at his hand. The hand of Time Lord witchcraft that he discovered during his first day of life. This life, anyway. It tingles ominously, the hair covering it standing on end from the static of his own energy.
And the fire bursts open. The flames lick through his mind and he can see the whole of Time and Space and the Vortex in all its infinite majesty. Strands of the fabric of reality.
The fire rips through him, tearing every cell in his body apart. The pain is intense, slicing through his hearts and making them sing. Stars explode behind his eyes and open his mind to the most beautiful accentuated colours. A whole world of discovery in one shining moment.
I don't want to go.
Death is sweet and peaceful. There is no loneliness in the death of a Time Lord. They walk in eternity, among the planets and the stars.
Theta and Koschei. Together forever amongst the platinum stars.