Chapter 9

1.

The interior of the Valiant had not much changed since the days of the notorious Harold Saxon. The people of UNIT had done some minor refurbishing of the control room when the airship was still in their hands, and the cargo desk had been slightly expanded to carry more supplies and ammunition on board, but basically, if the Master would get on the ship now, he would have found his way around easily. River and her stealth squad of 15 didn't have that advantage. All they had was a tracking device that should locate their inside man and their supposed target.

"Where is he now?" River whispered to one of her men, as she peered around the corner, spotting two armed guards standing next to a closed off entrance.

"Inside that room." Her subordinate whispered back to her.

"Right. Remember, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." She pulled out her plasma gun. "On the count of three. One, two…"

She spun around the corner and opened fire, aiming not at the two men, but at the security cameras located above their heads. Her unit soon took care of the rest. As she stepped with her high heels over the unconscious bodies of the two Infinity guards, she bowed down to check their ID tags. "One private Benjamin and one lieutenant. Not much of a catch, but let's give senior a go." She signaled two of her men to pick the guard up and drag him to the retina scan. River then pulled the man's eyelids apart and let the security program do its job. To her surprise, the young lieutenant still had level three access, admitting them entrance to the closed room. When they stepped inside, they found a middle-aged man waiting in what seemed to be an intensive care isolation ward.

"So you are the famous mocking bird, our inside man?" River said with a cocky smile.

Van der Kamp let out a sigh of relief. "There you are! What took you so bloody long! I've been sending out signals for three days now. Can't you people not even locate a simple beta-wave scripted flare?"

"Well it would have helped if the information that you provided was not changing every minute." River replied with her hand resting on her hip.

"That's not my fault! It was Felix Grant himself who requested these transfers. That man is getting more and more paranoid each day. He thinks that the notorious Doctor is after him."

"I find that unexpectedly sensible for a mad scientist. At least I would be scared if the Doctor went after me." She walked to the middle of the room. There was a hospital bed with a patient lying in it, hooked up to an elaborate life support system. Although his skin was covered in horrific burns from head to toe, she had no problem recognizing him. "That's the man the Master was after. What is he doing here?" She looked at van der Kamp. "Why did the Infinity Corporation pick him up out of the wreckage?"

"I have no idea. I came in here to find out more, just when you lot showed up. All I know is that they went through a lot of effort to keep him alive. All of his vital internal organs have been replaced at least twice, and still he's more dead than breathing." Van der Kamp counted the men that River had brought with her. "There are only ten of you. Is that all? The Shadow Proclamation had promised me that they would send in an army to catch Grant."

"And an army you shall get." River answered, looking over his shoulder, meaning that he should look behind. There was a large glass window that provided a view into outer space. Orbiting next to the Valiant were two massive warships, with a fleet of space-cruisers hovering around like a swarm of insects homing in on their target. Van der Kamp observed the impressive armada in awe, and for a moment was lost for words.

2.

In a different part of the Valiant, Felix Grant was just finishing the final step of the most important experiment of his life when a small army of Judoons and UNIT soliers led by a UNIT officer teleported into the laboratory. The four Infinity guards inside the room grabbed their guns but were immediately shot down. Realizing that they had lost their protection, the scientists working for Grant immediately raised their hands in the air. "You too, dr Grant." The UNIT captain told him, shoving a gun in his face. Instead of being threatened, Felix Grant just smiled coldly and picked up a syringe that contained a bright pink liquid from the bench. Before anyone could stop him, he stabbed the needle into his arm and injected himself with the suspicious content.

"Get that away from him!" The UNIT captain shouted, and 2 pairs of hands pulled Grant out of his chair and took the syringe from him. The needle broke and remained stuck in his skin. Grant convulsed, gasping in pain, he bended double and collapsed on the floor. "What's wrong with him?" One of the soldiers picked up the now empty syringe. "What did he inject himself with?" He stared at the mad scientist, who was foaming at the mouth and shaking violently, while his eyes rolled back into his skull.

"Get professor Song." The captain ordered, fearing that they might lose Grant. "Get her here now!"

As soon as he had given out the order, an explosion hit the airship, causing it the keel over to one side. "What's going in here?" The captain shouted, shielding his head from the glass bottles falling off the shelves. He grabbed his microphone. "Stop the attack!" He communicated back to central control, assuming that it was an airstrike carried out by the Shadow forces. "I repeat, stop immediately! There are still units operating inside the target vessel!" A second blast hit the ship and the ceiling broke down, collapsing on top of his men. "What are you doing you morons! Didn't you hear what I said? We are on the ship, stop trying to blow it up with us still on it!" The captain yelled, diving away from yet another explosion.

"Captain Hardy, it's not our missiles. We didn't launch anything at the Valiant!" Came the response from central control.

"Then who the hell is doing this?!" A final explosion hit the side of the ship to create a massive hole in the thick metal wall. Air rushed out in violent currents and those who couldn't grab hold on to anything solid in time was sucked out into the cold unforgiving space.

"For Christ's sake, if someone has already reached the control deck, let them lower the air shield immediately!" Hardy barked into his microphone. "I repeat, activate the air shield on the Valiant! We have a massive breach!" The captain was just able to wrap his fingers around the leg of an operation table that was bolted to floor. As he watched helplessly how half of his men disappeared through the hole, he thought that his fear had disintegrated his mind when he saw the reptilian head of a monstrous black dragon peek through the opening. Horrified, he then watched how it spread its jaws wide and breathed a ball of fire into the lab. As soon as it hit the flammable liquid inside the bottles on the benches, it exploded into a great destructive blaze. Through the smoke and the heated haze, he saw a man stepping out of the fire. He seemed to be immune to the flames and was untouched by the violent wind that had swept so many his men away. His eyes were burning with a deadly determination.

"Where is he?" The Master searched madly through the room just when someone succeeded in activating the air shield, closing barrier and making everyone drop back to the floor. He hoisted up man in a white coat to his eyelevel. "Where have you hidden him, tell me!" The Master roared, madly infuriated.

"W-who?" The man stuttered, too much in shock to answer coherently. Deciding that he was useless, the Master threw him out of the ship. He picked up another human at random. This time it was captain Hardy's turn. "Where is he!?" He repeated, shaking the captain savagely. "Tell me or I swear I shall tear this ship apart!"

"Honestly chap, I don't know what you're talking about." The captain answered, panicking. "Who are you looking for?"

An irritated scowl appeared on the Master's face. He was about to fling the captain out just like he had done with the unfortunate scientist, but then the captain's receiver came back to life. It was River Song, trying to make contact with the lost unit. "Captain Hardy, please report. We have received a signal of an unknown incoming object on your side of the ship. All units must withdraw and wait for back up, if you have captured Felix Grant take him to the deck 7, medical unit room 7311B. I repeat take Grant to 7311B. I think we have found that man that the Master was after. We'll be waiting for you there."

"Well what do you know?" The Master grinned. "Just in time to save your hide."

"You mean…you're going to let me live now?" The captain asked in hope.

The smile that the Master gave him was one that implied the opposite. "Show me who this Felix Grant is, and I shall reconsider it." He lied.

3.

River and her gang lowered their weapons when the door in room 7311B slid open and captain Hardy appeared in front of the entrance. "Captain, finally." River sighed. "Have you brought Grant with you?" Someone behind the captain pushed Felix Grant inside, and the scientist dropped on his knees in front of her.

"Is he wounded?" River asked, noticing his sweaty pale complexion and his shivering frame. "He looks really bad." She glanced up at the captain, and was shocked to see that a crimson cascade of blood flowed out of his mouth. Horrified, she backed away. "Captain? Captain?!"

"Professor Song." The captain gargled, spitting more blood out as he tried to speak her name. In a distorted zombie-like movement, he performed a salute to her before he collapsed on the floor, revealing a dark shadow that had remained until now hidden behind him.

"Oh my God." Van der Kamp gasped, his face turned as white as a sheet and he moved away from the door. "Who did this?"

River's blood turned cold the minute she recognized that deranged laughter that echoed from the outside corridor into the room.

"I know who you are. Show yourself!" She shouted, aiming her plasmagun at the entrance. The Master stepped inside the ward, his lips curled into a cruel grin as he tossed the part of the cortex that he had pulled out of the UNIT officer's mouth at her. It landed in front of her feet like a formless grey blob. "Gotcha!" He smiled. "Oh you should have seen your face, it was absolutely priceless!"

"You monster." She told him as she eyed him judgingly. "You've turned him into vegetable."

"Oh don't flatter the captain too much. There was hardly any activity up there to start with." The Master smirked. "Such a responsible, dull little man. I doubt if his lovely wife is ever going to notice the difference." His eyes lit up when he saw the patient. "Right." He muttered, straightening his collar. "Where were we?" With lightening speed he came over and hauled the patient out of the hospital bed to drag him into a corner. "Oh yes. I was burning you." A crazy smile appeared on his face. "Shall we proceed?"

"Let him go!" River tried, holding her gun and ready to fire. Her men copied her actions and suddenly there were 16 barrels aimed at him.

"Oh please. Do you even know who he is?" The Master snorted.

"I don't, but I would be one lousy human being if I let you continue to torture this poor man." River responded. She felt her heart rattle inside her chest when she saw the deadly red glow intensifying in his left hand. She was about to fire to prevent him from harming her men when a familiar noise blazed through the air.

"What is that?" One of her soldiers remarked.

The Master rolled his eyes when he recognized the peculiar sound. "Honestly now, stop it!" He complained. "Every single time!"

The Tardis materialized in the middle of the white washed room and the Doctor dashed out in such haste that he hit his knee on the frame of the hospital bed.

"Doctor!" River Song uttered in absolutely shock. "How did you get here? Those wristbands were locked on the stormcage!"

"No." The Doctor replied, hopping on one foot as he tried to absorb the pain. "It was locked onto you. I made sure of that. Remember when we touched? A tiny little zap was enough to imprint the teleporter with your biological signature. Once I had that, it was just easy, easy-peasy to transfer the information to the Tardis."

"Oh why do you have to be so stubborn!" River raged. "Leave! Leave immediately Doctor, or you're going to get killed!"

"All right, all right, calm down." The Doctor replied, knitting his brows. "You don't have to threaten me with murder. I didn't know that showing up here would upset you so much."

"Not me." River shut her eyes and sighed. "And not metaphorically speaking."

"Doctor!"

"Yes?" The Doctor swirled around and finally noticed the Master. "Ah, it's you." He glanced over at River who gave him a very anxious look. "Very good." The Doctor muttered, trying to sound calm. "No reason to panic of course. Somehow I must have kinda expected that I would find you here."

"In case you haven't noticed." The Master sighed. "I am extremely bored now, so can you just SHUT UP!"

The Doctor approached him slowly. "You don't look well." He commented, noticing the look on his face. "Well, you look better then when I met you before. More human at least, but if you don't mind me mentioning it, there is lot of crazy going on in your eyes."

"Thank you for your most insightful diagnosis, Doctor." The Master deadpanned, returning him a cheerless grin. "Anne is dead. I've lost her." He added in a bitter voice.

"I am sorry." The Doctor replied, immediately alarmed.

"No need to. I am quite over it already." He giggled madly. "Perhaps you're right. I am not the type of man to settle down. Now that my marriage is accidentally over, it just leaves me more time to spend on my hobbies." He remarked with a savage glint in his eyes. "I was about to peel this man's skin off till there is nothing left but a screaming bloody mess. Care to join me?"

"Master." The Doctor spoke to him, cautious and fully aware of his fragile state of mind. "If Anne died, what happened to Rassilon?"

The Master shut his eyes and turned to him slowly. "Do you really want to know?" He asked with a sad maniacal grin.

"Who's this man?" The Doctor noticed the horrific burns on the man's skin. There was not one spot on him that had been spared from the scorching heat. It was obvious that he must have suffered immensely. "You've transferred Rassilon's mind into another human." The Doctor concluded, appalled by the discovery.

"Yes, and I tortured the hell out of him." The Master replied with a most deranged and deeply satisfied smile. "Still, I am not done with him yet." He tightened his grip on his victim.

If the Doctor was already in a state of heightened anxiety, it only became much worse when he let his eyes fall on Alex Grant. The scientist was struggling to breathe, coughing up pink slime from his lungs, and clutched onto his stomach as pangs of pain assaulted him.

"Who brought Grant in here?" The Doctor asked in a controlled voice, trying to hide his panic.

Grant crawled back up, sweat trickling down his face. "Hello Doctor." He managed to say, before he gazed at the Master. "You're both here. How wonderful." He threw his head back and started to laugh manically.

"Why are you laughing?" The Master hissed. "Is there is something funny perhaps?"

"Nothing…I was…just rejoicing." Grant breathed, heaving forward and spitting out another mouthful of pink slime. "Oh do carry on."

"Oh he has lost it." Van der Kamp muttered as he observed the state of his former colleague from a safe distance, then their attention on Grant was distracted by a piercing cry. The Master was ripping strips of blackened skin from his victim's body, skinning him alive. As Rassilon struggled and suffered, a golden glow started to flow out of his mouth and entered the Master through this eyes, the windows of his soul.

"Master! No!" The Doctor cried out. "I beg you! Stop!" River, realizing that the Master was absorbing Rassilon's essence, took aim and fired. Her squadron followed her example, and soon a blizzard of deadly plasma-beams exploded inside the ward. The Doctor dived behind the hospital bed. Throughout this mad chaotic violence, he could hear Grant continue to laugh insanely.

"Kill him!" Grant shouted, encouraging the Master to even more brutality. "What are you waiting for Timelord? Take your revenge and end his miserable life!" Warning bells went off inside the Doctor's head. "The syringe." He whispered, shocked by the realization. "Grant, he took my blood during my fall!"

"Don't!" He yelled, as he jumped up and ran across the firing line, desperate to stop him. "Don't kill Rassilon! Felix Grant used my blood to complete the Timelord DNA sequence and has injected himself with it! You can't let Rassilon die! He's got a brand new body waiting for him right here!"

But the Doctor's warnings came too far late.

Rassilon cast out his final breath in Robert's ruined mortal body, and his essence was evicted in a violent explosion that blasted both the Master and the Doctor off their feet. It created a massive swirling ball of energy that spun in the air, as bright as a miniature sun, flashing out deadly bolts. While all the others dived for cover, Grant struggled back on his feet and stumbled towards the fireball, his arms spread out in receptive anticipation. He cried up to the sky as Rassilon's lifeforce entered, welcoming his lord and master into this new Timelord vessel of flesh and blood while the fires consumed him.

The Doctor saw how the Master crawled back up and shot a beam at Grant in the hope to stop the transformation. It back-fired and hit the Master in his chest. He fell to ground, panting heavily as he gazed up at the Doctor, who scrambled back up to warn the others. "Stop! Stop shooting! He's got a reversion shield!"

The mad firing finally ceased. As the dust settled they all saw Grant, standing amid the ruins, his body unharmed and emitting a golden glow, while his eyes now housed an ancient and dark soul.

"My lord Doctor." Rassilon spoke in Grant's voice. "And my lord Master. I must be blessed that you both are here to witness my resurrection…and your destruction."

"Not if I got anything to say about it." River said, placing herself in front of the Doctor. "Take a look through that window Rassilon. There is complete warfleet out there, gathered here to fight you. In name of the Shadow Proclamation of the 14 united intergalactic planetations, I place you under arrest."

"You pathetic little human." Rassilon laughed in amusement. "Your primitive warships and weapons are useless against me." To demonstrate his great contempt, he swept his hand over the warfleet. "You are nothing. I can see through the whole of time and space, and manipulate them by my will alone."

The battleships started to disintegrate. The entire fleet disappeared in front of River's eyes within seconds, dissolving into golden sand-like particles and into oblivion. Then to River's horror, Rassilon turned his fury on her soldiers. "I see every atom inside your bodies and I split them!" Rassilon opened his hand and the men literally fell apart. Their clothes and weapons dropped to the floor where have stood with piles of human ash in the middle. When he was about to turn on her the Doctor intervened. "Stop!" He yelled, and pushed forward. "It's me you want. Let her go."

"You Doctor have done me a great wrong. Your punishment shall be severe, but there is another insolent child of Gallifrey who is even more deserving of my wrath."

"No! Don't you dare to harm him!" He threatened even more strongly than before.

"Get out of my way." The Master said, almost resentfully. "I am not one of your useless human companions. I can fight my own battles against that condescending vicious bastard!" He shot out another bolt from his hand, which Rassilon absorbed without causing him any visible harm. Frustrated, the Master fired a second bolt, followed by another, and another, and another, but all of them failed to injure the conceited Timelord, who regarded all of his desperate efforts with malevolent glee. Weakened and struggling to remain standing from his injuries, the Master finally gave up, landing on his hands and knees in front of his hated foe.

"Are you done, lord Master?" Rassilon grinned devilishly. "MY turn." He raised his hand and started to draw out the powers that the Master had absorbed from him and Omega, sucking the life-force out of his victim like a ferocious vampire bat. When he was done, he rubbed in his hands and formed a bolt of savage energy that he fired at the Master, sending him crashing into the wall.

Lying face down on the ground and seriously wounded, the Master still pushed himself up to try a second aim at Rassilon. A weak glow ignited in his palm, the last remnant of that celestial light that he had stolen from Omega. He was so very determined to fight back until his last breath, but then he coughed up blood, and the light in his hand died out before he could fire another shot.

"You want to take my life?" Rassilon laughed, coming towards his defeated enemy and spreading out his arms. "Here I was, standing before you trapped in that disgusting weak mortal form. All you had to do was to extend your hand and take it from me…and yet you failed. How pathetic! Now that I am reborn a Timelord god, how much chance do you think you still have?"

The Master grunted, tasting blood in his throat. Sprawled out over the floor, he was still trying to put all of his remaining life energy into one last shot at Rassilon. His hand rose weakly.

"Enough of this worm." Rassilon shot a red beam at him from his hand. It formed an energy field around the fallen Timelord that tormented him by pulling every fiber inside his body apart, making him scream in pure agony.

The Doctor watched all this in horror. "Don't do this to him! Stop it! Stop it now!"

Rassilon laughed as he continued to make the Master suffer, turning up the energy field from a bright red glow into a hellish flare. "Look at that. The Doctor still cares, even after you betrayed him. How very touching."

The ship suddenly keeled over to one side as if struck by a massive object. The Doctor, who was facing Rassilon, saw leathery wing sweep pass the wall-sized cabin-window, followed by an ink-black arrow shaped tail.

"Is that really what I think it is?" River whispered to the Doctor, eyes-wide in astonishment.

Behind Rassilon, a giant reptilian head appeared, staring inside through the glass window with one blood-red eye.

The Doctor's breath caught in his lungs. "No." He muttered, knowing what the Master had summoned in his desperation. "No don't!"

The black dragon inhaled deeply and expelled a blazing ball of fire The intense heat melted a whole in the window like it was but a wall of ice. Rassilon spun around, only to witness the deadly fireball rolling towards him, incinerating all that was in its path, before he was hit by the destructive blaze.

Despite his suffering, there was only one thought running through the Master's mind. Please, I don't care what will happen to me. Just let him die.

His hopes evaporated when the flames died down, revealing Rassilon, standing tall and arrogant in a circle of blackened metal and smoldering ash. Like a phoenix born out of fire, the vengeful Timelord had remained untouched by the inferno.

Loyal to her Master to the bitter end, the dragon stuck her head inside the cabin. It struck with serpent-like speed at her lord's enemy in an attempt to devour him, but Rassilon stopped her by sweeping a net of blue plasma energy over the giant reptile's head. Caught inside the crackling matrix, she roared and fought savagely, but it only further tightened her bonds, making her resistance completely futile.

"The Master's Tardis!" Rassilon exclaimed triumphantly. "And the Doctor's." He added, staring at the blue box with eyes glistening with greed. "The last two in existence. Now both are mine, with in each a beating living heart made out of fragments of the timevortex itself." He came closer to the captive dragon, his eyes calculative, an old wolf contemplating his next strategy. "Oh fortunate fate! With that I shall ascend to glory!" He exclaimed with delight.

The Doctor's hearts froze as he finally understood what Rassilon had in mind. He patted down his coat to find the white-point star. It was tucked away in his left pocket but when he closed his fingers around it the little star suddenly turned white hot, burning his hand.

"Are you searching for this?" Rassilon held up the star for him to see. "How foolish of you to believe that this could aid you in your quest. These precious artifacts were created by me, lord Doctor, and they will answer to me alone. Every path the white-point star has led you was to benefit my resurrection. Even when it guided you to that doomed prison of your mad friend it was only abiding my will."

"I don't understand. What's going on Doctor, tell me!" River asked fearfully, noticing the look of horror on his face.

"He's going to raise an army." The Doctor replied.

"What army? He already got a massive army! Half of the Earth's global defense system belongs to the Infinity Corporation that worships him!"

"These sickening humans?" Rassilon sneered loathsomely. "Not even one in a billion of them are fit to be called a true warrior. Humankind is not commendable of my leadership. They are slaves, and they shall kneel before their new vengeful god, just like the rest of the universe. The time of chaos and perversions has ended, the Timelords shall return and a new Gallifreyian empire shall rise! For that I shall need a great army that is worthy of my glory."

"The dark warriors of the Nightmare Child." The Doctor breathed out, frustrated and furious. "The demon army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres that was banished into the void with the destruction of Gallifrey."

Rassilon returned him a cold triumphant smile. "A most effective machine of war, not led by a diseased outcast, a shameful shadow of our race, but by a strategic mastermind to prove to our enemies the true magnificent of the Timelords."

He held up the white-point star and turned to the battered window. Between his fingers the crystal structure started to glow. "To the beginning of a Timelord empire that shall last for a million years." He stated and threw the star away, blasting it through what remained of the glass into outer space.

"The creation of this new nation shall require a great sacrifice." He aimed his hand at the wounded Master, moving him towards the captured dragon, and with his other he forced open the maul of the beast. "The beating heart of a living Tardis…And a sacrifice in blood." Rassilon's eyes were glinting with cruelty as he flung the Master into the waiting mouth of his Tardis.

"No!" The Doctor shouted as River held him back. "Stop it Rassilon! Stop this madness! If you punch a hole in the fabric of the universe to let your murderous hordes out, the force that is needed to create such a gateway into the void will rip right through our universe! It will destroy us all!"

"Such lack of faith in the abilities of a god. Care for a riddle, Doctor?" Rassilon taunted him mercilessly. "How does one kill a man who cannot die?" He forced the beast to lock her jaws, trapping the Master inside.

"Please, don't!" The Doctor shouted. "NO!"

A fierce bolt of energy came from Rassilon's hand and the black dragon was thrust backwards, following the track of the white point star into the blackness of space. Pushed beyond physical laws by Rassilon's powers, the star breached the fabric of the universe when it surpassed the speed of light near the galaxy of the Lonely Wolf, creating a massive black hole that entrapped the nearby stars and planets. The Master's Tardis was hurled towards it, and disappeared into the chaotic violence that swarmed around the core.

"Why did you do that?!" The Doctor demanded to know, infuriated. "He was no threat to you!" He shook his head in disillusionment and deep contempt. "How could you do this to him? He is a Timelord. One of us. Our blood runs through his veins! You speak of bringing glory to our people. Well hear this, except for us, there is nothing left of the Timelords!"

"Then I will create us anew, a better and stronger Timelord race, but first, I shall undo our mistakes." A sinister glow ignited in Rassilon's hands. The Doctor stood his ground and breathed heavily as the light intensified. Slowly, Rassilon took his aim at him.

Before the deadly bolt could be released from Rassilon's hand, a shot was fired from River's gun. Still regenerating and immune to the plasma beam, it only distracted Rassilon's attention for a fracture of a second, but that was all that was needed to safe the Doctor's life. Prof. van der Kamp suddenly appeared behind the deadly Timelord. "Run Doctor! Run for your life!" Van der Kamp shouted as he plunged a dagger that he scavenged from a fallen Judoon soldier into Rassilon's back. Where the blade sliced into the body, instead of blood, a brilliant blue light spilled out.

"That's Mockingbird." River muttered with admiration.

"No, that's professor George van der Kamp." The Doctor said, grateful for the man's courage and fearful for his fate. Rassilon screamed in rage, and with the dagger still lodged in his back, he turned around to face his attacker. The blue beams erupting from the wound fanned out like wings made out of angry electric currents. "George." Rassilon spoke in his own and in Felix Grant's voice. "You spineless coward. How dare you to rise against me?!"

"River." The Doctor pinched in her hand to break her gaze from the fearsome scene. "You have to go."

"No." She whispered, grabbing his hand and holding it tight. "Not without you I won't!"

"You have to! Use the teleporter. I've set it on the planet of the Oods. You'll be safe there."

"No! I won't go!" She answered.

"Don't be so stubborn. There is no time! Listen to me!" He pulled her close and whispered into her ear. "I have a plan." He showed her his wristband. "We're still linked you and I." He reassured her. "Just go first. When you arrive count back from 1000, then activate your remote control."

"That will be too far away for the retrieval signal to reach you!"

"No it won't be." The Doctor said, pointing at the Tardis. "The Tardis is also bio-locked on you."

An icy scream came from van der Kamp. The Doctor and River both watched in horror how the blue beams sprouting from Rassilon's back came down on the poor man like a ferocious nest of vipers from Medusa's hair, and electrocuted him.

The Doctor stared her right into the eyes. "Get out of here River Song." He said determinedly. "Save yourself, so you can save me." Before River could object, he grabbed hold of her hand and activated the teleport for her, summoning a bright flash that carried her to safety.

"Doctor!" Rassilon raged as he dropped the lifeless charred body of van der Kamp on the ground and trampled him, pulverizing the blackened skull beneath his feet. He released a deadly bolt, and the Doctor made a mad dash for the Tardis and managed to dive through the door before the entire cabin exploded behind him. The violence of the blast blew the doors shut. Scrambling back up, he immediately ran over to the console and fired up the engines.

"Doctor!" Rassilon screamed from the top of his lungs, as the Tardis stared to dematerialize. "Where are you going Doctor!? You cannot run! You cannot stop me! You hear me? You cannot stop me!"

4.

Everything was lost.

The Master staggered repeatedly from the console to the locked door and back again. Gone was his usual mad but well-controlled manner, now there was panic in his eyes, and raw fear paralyzed his actions. He tried to regain rein over his Tardis, but all the steering-controls were destroyed by Rassilon. He was trapped like a rat in a cage, hurling through a black hole on a collision course with the singularity that lies in its core. When the Tardis and the singularity was to collide, the violent energy released by that impact would rip a hole into the universe, massive enough to sustain a portal into the void in between dimensions to let the nightmare army out. The only consolation that the Master would have, was that by the time these ruthless destructive hordes would descend upon all of creation, he would have long since been smashed into atoms and blown away by the solar winds.

"It's no use!" He screamed, and banged his fists on the monitor when the bright red FAILURE warnings kept flashing on the screen. A sharp pain ripped through him. His injuries and the recent drain on his life-force had left his body in ruin. Lowering himself on the floor with his back against the console, he grimaced in agony. It all has been for nothing. He thought, embittered by his defeat and imminent demise. The Doctor should have left me rot in my prison. He should have abandoned me there to be tormented for eternity. I was an arrogant fool to believe that I could harness Omega's powers to stand against Rassilon. He has been in complete control of my life since I was a child. I should have realized that I would never be able to change my fate.

Just when he had lost all hope, the familiar sound of the Tardis came to him, and the blue policebox materialized in the control room, right before his eyes.

The door swept open and the Doctor peeked his head around the corner. "Ah, there you are!" He scanned the Master from head to toe and let out a sigh. "Nothing too serious I see. You really got me worried."

The Master gazed at the Doctor as if he was a white rabbit that had just jumped out of a magician's hat. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I am saving you. As usual. Actually it seems to be the only thing I am doing lately. I have hardly any time for anything else." The Doctor rushed out of the Tardis carrying a thick cable under his arm. He turned to the Master. "Are you going to help me or are you just going to sit here continue to feel incredibly sorry for yourself?"

The Master stood back up, ignoring the pain that shot up his spine. "From all the stupid things that you have ever done, this must be the most stupidest of all!" He raged, truly angered by the Doctor's reckless behavior. "Following me down here in a blackhole?! What were you thinking?! That's bloody suicide!"

"Yep. Don't tell me that you don't appreciate it." The Doctor replied as he connected the cable to the console of the Master's Tardis. "We have to blow her up before she hits singularity."

"What?! You want to sacrifice my own Tardis?" The idea completely went against his egocentric nature and he found it absolutely appalling.

"Listen." The Doctor told him more sternly this time. "Rassilon is too arrogant and too proud to realize that he is meddling with forces beyond his control. There won't be a neat little hole for his precious army to emerge, there will a massive crack in the universe that will spread and spread till the entire fabric is affected. Reality will disintegrate! We cannot let that happen!"

The Master gazed back at the Doctor for a second. It was as if a veil was finally lifted from in front of his eyes. "What can I do?" He agreed in a soft voice.

A smile spread over the Doctor's lips. "Get the engines of my Tardis running. If we wake her up with a spark from another living Tardis we might get the core working again. I really need that energy stored inside the heart to fuel the explosion."

For once in his life, the Master just did what he was told and rushed inside the blue box. Within a few seconds, the engines of the Doctor's Tardis were activated and supplied eons of energy to the heart of her dormant sister.

"I need more power!" The Doctor shouted to him from outside.

Inside the control room of the Doctor's Tardis, the Master quickly typed in the sequence of codes that was needed to increase the output of the engines. "Doctor?" The Master yelled back. "How are we going to get out of here? We can't fly your Tardis against the gravitational pull of a black hole."

"Don't worry! Already taken care, courtesy to River Song. She's going to supply us with a lifeline in about…" He stopped working and checked his wristband. "600 seconds! Blimey, time does fly by when you struggle to turn something as innocent as a dashboard console into a bomb."

"Doctor!"

"I know, I know, stop ranting and get on with it." The Doctor stuck his head back under the dashboard where he had been busy rewiring the circuits.

"No." The Master shook his head. "I have something to tell you. I need you to listen." He paused, hesitant to confess his shameful secrets to him. "Remember our last encounter? After I left you on that bridge. I was so confused...and...and angry. I went on a killing spree. Massacred a group of people on a bus. They have never harmed or threatened me in any way. Well at least most of them haven't. I didn't even know their names. Still…I murdered them all in cold blood." He stopped, waiting for the Doctor's condemnations, but it remained silent at the other side. "And then there was Cathy. Cathy Summerfield." Cathy's tearstained face appeared in front of his mind's eye and he straightened his jaw. "After I found Anne I needed a place in time where I could hide her and keep her safe. So I took the parents from that human girl, and placed Anne in her care as her sister. I ruined that young girl's life…because I needed Anne…because I was afraid to be alone..." He broke off and recalled the way Cathy had looked at him, so unforgiving and full of hatred when he told her the truth. "I've created a monster." He blurted out, his voice breaking. "I took her innocence from her, just like Rassilon had once robbed me of mine." He pressed his lips tightly into a thin white line and fought against his tears. "Oh Doctor…what have I become?"

A spark lit up the room outside, and the roar of the Master's Tardis engines broke the burdened silence. The Doctor reappeared in the doorway, his expression was grim.

"The core is working again." He told the Master while he rolled up the unplugged cable and tossed it back inside. "The circuits are set, and will initiate the auto-destruction sequence in 150 seconds." He gazed at him. "What do you want me to say?" He asked softly.

"A sad smile broke through the Master's tears. "That you want me to get the hell out of your Tardis." He answered truthfully.

The Doctor shook his head slowly. "You know what I am going to say to you." He told him determinedly.

The Master swallowed hard, and pushed out a deep breath. The Doctor just looked at him, his eyes shining with tremendous kindness. There was no need for words. All that needed to be said, was already understood.

The Master's Tardis suddenly started to rock violently. It was followed by an explosion in the control room that made Doctor dive for cover. "We're approaching the core!" The Master yelled out. "Quickly now. Get inside. We have to leave!"

The Doctor leaped forward, but just when he was about to get inside the Tardis, the doors slammed shut, leaving him stranded. Alarmed, the Master ran over and tried to open it. "It's locked!" He yelled in panic to the Doctor. "Why is it locked?" He pulled and rattled the handles with all his might. When that failed, he started to kick at the doors. "Keys!" He remembered. "Doctor?! Where is the Tardis key?"

"I don't know. I don't have it." The Doctor breathed in heavily and took a few steps back to look at the Tardis. The light on top of the blue box started to glow.

Realizing that the key must be left somewhere inside, the Master went around in a frantic search. "Where is that bloody thing?!" There was no sign of it, even when he trashed the place, leaving a trail of chaos behind. "How many times did I tell you, you have to get organized!" The Master shouted out as he threw his hands in the air in desperation. Then his eyes caught the glint of metal between the messy wiring of the circuit board. "Gotya!" He breathed in relief and hurried back to the doors to stick the key in the lock.

It refused to turn.

"What the hell is going on?!" In his panic, he forced it, and the key broke in half, leaving the top part lodged inside. Frustrated, he banged his fists on the wooden panel.

"Master!" The Doctor shouted from the other side. "Stop trying. It's no use."

"No I won't! Not until you're back in here, right where you belong." He ran up to the doors and slammed his shoulder against the wood.

"You can't force it open! These doors were made by Valerian monks. They can even withstand the blast from a supernova. You can bash them all you like but they won't give." The Doctor shouted, staring anxiously at the Master's silhouette behind the frosted window of the Tardis.

The Master refused to give up on his friend. "This is all Rassilon's doings!" He huffed as he kept banging his shoulder against the panel.

"No, no it's not him. It's the Tardis." As he said it, the Doctor felt a strange calm descend upon him, a strange serenity that made him forget about his own fears. "She is trying to tell me something."

"She's an ungrateful venomous whore if she wants to leave her master behind!"

"No…No you don't understand. I've traveled with her for so long. She knows me like no one else. She always knows where I should be, and what I ought to do." The Doctor took in a deep breath. This was what the Oods had prepared him for. This was his final moment facing the Master. As the full realization of how his end will play out finally came to him, he was overwhelmed by a great sense of reprieve, as if a great weight was lifted from his shoulders. He glanced down at his wristband. Only 20 seconds left before the bomb would detonate. "Koshei, please listen to me, stop trying."

"No I can't!" The Master yelled back stubbornly. "I can't just leave you here to die!"

"We all have to live with the hand we're dealt with." The Doctor placed his hand on the wood, trying to calm him by his presence. "The thing is, when I first heard the Ood elders speak of my ending, I though it would be you. I am so grateful that it isn't." He paused in an effort to compose himself. "So it's all right. It really is."

At the other side of the door, the Master sunk through his knees and rested his head against the timber. "I could never..." The Master bit on his lower lip, swallowing the much-hated word. "How could I?" He whispered ruefully. "After all that we've been through together."

"I know." A smile broke through his sadness. "And I have always considered that one of your most endearing traits."

"Theta, you can't die." The Master whispered, on the verge of tears. "This universe needs you. It needs the Doctor to set things right. It doesn't need me." He paused while his hearts filled with guilt and regrets. "I should be me on the other side of this door."

"Don't be ridiculous, of course it needs you, and it will need you more than ever now it's missing this silly Timelord crusader." A shockwave went through the control room, sending pieces of the ceiling raining down on the Doctor. The metal grid under his feet shook savagely as the Master's Tardis reached its final destination. The Doctor glanced at his wristband, and noted that the counter was down to the last few precious seconds.

"Time is running out! Listen, I know that you are scared. I know that you don't believe that anything will ever be right again, but it will. I promise. Don't give up. Stand up Koshei. Fight him. Fight Rassilon. I will be there, right by your side, fighting with you all along. Just promise me this."

Tears were streaming down the Master's face. "What?" He asked in a choked up voice.

The Doctor was about to tell him when the counter reached zero and the blue police-box started to fade away. There was a metallic click and the bomb inside the Tardis core detonated, releasing an amount of energy that was even greater than that of a million suns. It blasted everything inside the control room into atoms and ripped the Master's Tardis apart, just seconds before it was to smash into the singular core of the black hole.

Outside of the black hole, the countless galaxies in the universe continued to turn, the planets sustained their peaceful orbits in their own solar-systems, and all the stars shone as brightly as ever…but the Doctor was no more.

5.

River had impatiently counted down to zero before she activated the remote control. When she did, an arrow of fire appeared and burnt through the Ood planet's stratosphere. As she followed the bright line that crossed the snow-white sky, it struck her that the familiar sound of the Tardis engines was replaced by a high-pitched screeching like that of an incoming shell.

The impact happened behind a snow dune out her of direct view and blasted tons of rock and snow into the sky. When it rained back down to the surface, River noticed that it was mixed with a grey ash-like substance. Running now through the thick layer of snow to get to the crash-site, she could feel her stomach tighten into a knot when she saw the pieces of the Doctor's beloved blue box, lying scattered over the ground. The heat released by the impact had created a crater that had melted all the way down into permafrost layer. At the very bottom, in the mud that was created by the melted ice water, she found what was left of the Tardis. The innards of the great machine were spilled inside out, with the decor of the 100 and more rooms lying in total ruins. Anxious, River immediately climbed down the side and searched amid the devastation. As if by a miracle, she recovered a part of the Doctor's wristband. It was partially scorched, but the black box recorder was still intact. She retrieved the information, using the Doctor's biological footprint to activate the device.

Her heart froze when it coldly stated that the organism to which it was bio-locked, was now deceased.

Unable to accept this horrible news, River continued to search frantically through the wreckage. She finally uncovered a body, half buried under the collapsed console platform. A leg, crushed under the ironwork stuck out in the snow and mud. She immediately began to remove the debris, expecting that it would be the Doctor.

Instead, she found the Master.

He was heavily injured. Half of his skin was scorched off, both his legs were crushed and there were countless cuts on his face and body, but he was still breathing. The Master was still alive.

River sucked in a ragged breath and covered her mouth to stifle a cry.

The horrible prophesy had finally come true.

There was no doubt in her mind who was to blame for the Doctor's demise. Fighting her tears, she stood up straight and inhaled deeply, then she took her plasma gun out of the holster and aimed it at the Master who was lying at her feet. He was still unconscious. Torn up inside by an overwhelming grief, and eager to avenge the Doctor, she would have shot him then and there if it wasn't for a sudden rise of cold wind that blew the snow and ash into the air. Through a haze of crystalline white, she saw a figure, standing on top of the crater, calmly looking down and observing her actions.

"An Ood." River muttered, remembering what the Doctor had said. "An Ood in the Snow."

Ood Sigma cocked his head to one side. The sphere in his hand shone brightly, a beacon of light in the white blizzard that surrounded them both. "Why do you want to do this, River Song?"

"Because he deserves it." She answered with strong conviction.

"But the Master cannot die."

"That may be so, but I have enough plasma ammunition in this gun to blast him into atoms." She said, activating her weapon with a loud click. "If he still lives after this then it certainly would not be an enjoyable life."

"You long for retribution?"

"Well isn't that bloody obvious?!" She sneered back, furious about the quivering quality of her own voice. "And don't you dare to tell me that I should spare him. I won't know one good reason why."

"The Doctor, he would not have wanted this."

"No, but he isn't here anymore, is he?!" She finally broke down. A flow of tears welled up in her eyes. "For God's sake, can't you understand this? It hurts! Don't the Oods know grief? He's gone forever, and it just breaks my heart…it hurts so much!" She sobs loudly. Her gun was trembling in her hand.

Ood Sigma just gazed at her, appearing wise and serene, untouched by her heartbreak. He turned to the western sky where the burning Tardis had first appeared. Snowflakes swept into squid-like face, and covered his tentacles with a thin layer of frost. "Darkness is coming." He whispered.

"Yes." River answered bitterly. "And the Doctor is no longer here to protect us, so may fate have mercy on us all."

"We all need that last light that remains of the Doctor, River Song. We all need it to fight the oncoming darkness."

Finally realizing what Ood Sigma was trying to tell her, River lowered her gun. "What exactly did your Elders show the Doctor?" She demanded to know. "Show me."

6.

He woke up to the sound of machines, beeping, wheezing, and tapping.

He was surrounded by them. He needed them to breathe. He needed them to keep his two hearts going. He needed them to replenish his dehydrated system with vital liquids. His body was broken, and could no longer accomplish these simple tasks by its own. Frightened and disorientated, and in his mind, still trapped inside the hellish inferno of the Tardis during the crash, he opened his mouth to scream, but his throat was parched and his lungs were burnt to crisp. The only sound that came from him was an agonized whimper.

Then he realized that he was no longer in his fiery hell, but was lying tied down to a hospital cot in a strange, sterile room. His arms were fixed inside a straightjacket, and he could not move his lower half without causing himself insufferable agony. His legs were smashed, and although he could not check the injuries sustained by the upper half of his body, he knew that he had dislodged his shoulder when he tried to unlock the Tardis doors. It was only when he attempted to turn sideways that he noticed that his head was contained inside a cage-structure, with metal plates screwed tight against his skull to keep him fixed in one position. Panicking, he tilted his head back as far as the metal fixtures allowed him in order to observe the room. Above his head hung an IV bag with a bright green liquid, feeding heavy narcotics directly into his bi-circulatory system. A slender hand reached for it from outside his view to adjust the drip. He opened and closed his mouth, trying to speak, just when the owner of the hand revealed herself. River loomed over him. Her face showed very little sympathy for his plight.

"It's no use. With those injuries, you won't be able to do any of that any time soon. Still, compared to my husband, you are so very lucky." River told him with a sharp bitterness in her voice.

"I have never understood why you mean so much to him. My brilliant, impossible Doctor." She smiled fondly at his memory. "He could have achieved so much. He could have done so many more amazing and wonderful things, risen to such dazzling heights...But not anymore." She gazed down at him with nothing but deep loathing and contempt. "The Doctor is gone. He chose to sacrifice his own life to save that of yours, a miserable coward, a shadow of man who is not even worthy of speaking the good Doctor's name." She leaned closer to him. He could feel her breath sting the open wounds on his ruined face. "Tell me then. What is your secret? How did you trick the greatest and kindest man in the universe into loving a sick egotistical psychopath like you?"

Her prisoner pushed a soft whimper out of his lungs and shut his eyes, too ashamed to meet her gaze. He wished he could just beg her to end his miserable life, but his tongue was cooked and useless. Listening to her speak of the Doctor was absolute torture and hurt him more than all of his physical injuries put together. Maybe this is how it his like…This is hell. My rightful punishment for letting the Doctor die. It is all I deserve.

An unwanted tear dripped down the corner of his eye and flowed down his cheek onto his pillow.

"Is that all?" River muttered as she coldly observed his grief. A sad, mocking grin appeared on her lips. "Oh your greatest and darkest secret, finally revealed! You loved him after all, and the Doctor knew it." She stepped away from him, not wanting to let him see how affected she was by that knowledge.

"We all loved him." She said softly. "And we all have to suffer deeply now he's gone." She came back, wiping the wetness from her face. She showed him a small glass vial. "That's why it's so very unfair, that you, who is the most undeserving of the Doctor's love, shall be spared of that misery."

The Master groaned when he saw her slowly screw off the lid. The content of the vial wriggled impatiently like a nest of nimble worms.

Knowing what they were and understanding what she was about to do to him, the Master fearfully shook his head as much as the metal cage allowed him to, and blinked his eyes, begging her to stop.

"It's a little too late for that, don't you think?" She held the vial right above his right eye, and slowly tilted it to let the creatures slide through the opening. Like a thick drop of oil, they clung onto the rim in thinning threads of slime before they dropped into the Master's eye. He fought against his bonds when the creatures crawled inside his tear-duct, leaving a track of inflamed flesh in their wake. He gasped and uttered a muted scream as they ate their way into his brain, severing nerves, and mauling through his cortex like maggots devouring an apple core. And as he suffered, River Song kept watching, just like Rassilon once did through the blackened bars of the Master's burning prison. She followed every moment of his agony and stored it in her memory in an effort to appease her aching heart that craved vengeance.

However, it did not give her the satisfaction that she had longed for.

7.

Donna sat alone in the dark facing a giant panel of screens. Each one of them showed a different news channel that was broadcasted to the Judoon spaceship from planet Earth, millions of miles away. Collectively they sent out a message of chaos and destruction.

- This is BBC correspondence Eva Lockheart, reporting outside the United Nations headquarters in New York. The secretary-general has just issued a statement condemning the crimes committed by the Infinity Corporation who has invaded the Gulf region with a large privatized army, thereby violating international treaties and threatening the world oil resources. -

- A black day in the history of humankind as world leaders declare war on the Infinity Corporation, who in the recent week has carried out terror attacks in all major cities around the world, including London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing and Tokyo, killing and injuring millions of civilians. –

Donna didn't want to watch, but couldn't help herself. This was her planet, her world. Everyone and everything she had ever loved and knew was on that far away blue speck on the horizon. How could she turn away from it, even if she could do nothing to stop it from falling apart?

- I am reporting live from the nuclear wasteland of what once was the beating heart of New York city. This global metropolis and home of millions has been reduced into ashes. The great statue of liberty, the symbol of freedom, is completely destroyed and has crumbled into the harbor. Within a radius of 100 miles of ground zero, all living things, animal or human, have been literally seared to death. Outside this death zone, many were killed by the firestorm that resulted from the bombing. Others suffer horrific burns and are slowly succumbing to radiation disease. The UN, backed by the alien military defense force of the Shadow Proclamation, has sent out thousands of medical aid workers to the affected region –

-Food riots and civil wars have broken out over large parts of the former United States as continuous warfare has exhausted the region's basic food resources. The starving population has turned against itself as conditions deteriorate and has become increasingly desperate –

- A crude footage of an amateur moviemaker was shown on screen. It was probably taken by a bystander using a videophone. An enraged mob was gathered around a tree. A man, beaten and bleeding, was dragged to the center of the circle. Someone came forward and fastened a thick rope around his neck. "Repent! We should all repent!" The man called out in a voice hoarse. His face was horribly mutilated; his ears and nose were gone and his forehead was branded with the symbol of the Infinity Cult. Despite of his injuries, he continued to scream with mad conviction. "The day of reckoning is upon us! Let the God of the Infinity enter the minds of all of you sinners! All of humankind shall bow before his might!"

"String him up!" An enraged spectator shouted. "He's one of those cult-members. Kill him! Kill that dirty bastard!"

Donna turned away in disgust when the lynching mob strung the mad doom-speaker up on the tree. These were the horrors of the last days of human civilization. If the Doctor was still here to witness this, it would have broken his hearts.

-The battle of Honshu commences as Shadow Proclamation forces continue to defend Kyoto, the last human stronghold in the Eastern hemisphere, against overwhelming enemy Infinity forces. Thousands of the civilian survivors are evacuated from the island -

- Europe is burning after the nuclear bombing of France, Germany and England –

-Biochemical warfare has turned the once prosperous coastal regions of south and northern China into a lifeless toxic wasteland –

-The largest evacuation operation in the history of humankind was initiated by our alien ally forces to save the human race from extinction. Thousands of survivors of what is now known as the Final War were carried to safety by Judoon spacecrafts for resettlement in the recently established refugee camps in the nearby star systems of Agora and Zion2. The Last Defense government has issued out a waiting list, and those of you who are eligible for evacuation should immediately report themselves to –

- This is the Last Defense government's final statement: It has been confirmed that the last fighting forces of the Shadow Proclamation have left Earth. They have abandoned us. Planet Earth and humankind are now facing terminal extinction. This was Eva Lockheart. For those few brave souls who are still here, may God have mercy on us all. –

For a long time after the final images had faded away into snowy static, Donna remained in the room, and continued to stare at the empty screens. It was not until the silence eventually became unbearable that she got up from her chair and left.

8.

Donna had rejected the offer of River Song to be taken back to her own time. It may be foolish and futile, but she wanted to stay and help whenever help was needed. She knew that the Doctor would have done the same. Besides, she could no longer go back to 2011 and live her life pretending everything was normal. Not now she carried that terrible knowledge with her that the world as she knew it was going to end within a decade. On her request, River sent out a searching party for the Noble family. After a week, River came back with the news that they had finally found Sylvia and Shaun. They were taken to a refugee camp on Alpha Centurion in the Agora solar system, and were both in good health. Her grandfather Wilf however, was too old to make it on the evacuation list. He was left behind. According to the scarcely available records, Wilfred Mott continued to live in their old family home in Cheswick lane till he died during a bomb attack on London on august the 27th. Donna was with him that day. Rescue workers found her buried under the rubble. She was rushed into hospital, only to succumb to her injuries the following day.

Strangely, the news of her own death did not upset Donna. It felt hollow and insignificant compared to the pain of loss she felt for those she had loved so dearly in her life. "At least he didn't die alone." She told River Song as tears began to fall for her beloved granddad. "I was with him till the very end."

"This is from the soldier who identified you in the hospital." River handed it to her. It was a silver snowflake necklace. "He said that you held it in your hand and refused to let it go, even when they took you into the operation room." River paused and followed Donna's reaction intensively. "Is this important to you?"

Donna blinked her eyes at it. "I don't know. I am even not sure that it is mine." She turned the pendant in her hand. "I've never worn anything like this in my life."

"Are you absolutely sure?"

A memory passed her mind. She was 18 years old, still more a child than a woman. A gentle hand brushed her hair away and fastened the lock of the necklace around her neck. Looking down at the silver snowflake, she followed the delicate patterns with her fingertips.

"No." Donna muttered. "No I am not sure." She was alarmed how familiar the pendant felt in her hand.

"Did someone give this to you?"

A man appeared in her memories. A young man, tall and lean like a birch tree. He was smiling at her. It was a catchy, boyish grin that she used to find irresistible.

"It was a gift." Donna muttered, grabbing her head. More memories came flooding in, and the more she remembered the more she became confused. "He gave it to me."

"Who Donna?" River urged, watching every change in her facial expression. "Do you remember who it was who gave this to you?"

Strange images flashed through her mind. She remembered things of childhood. Things that she thought she might have forgotten. There was an old mansion, two streets away from her house that should be unoccupied, but a family lived there. There was crippled boy, standing in front of his bedroom window. His presence in her past was so familiar, and yet at the same time, so very alien to her that the contradiction made her head spin.

Then she recalled what the Doctor had told her. His last words whispered into her ear before they parted. Take care of the boy in the mirror. She had seen the boy before in her dreams. He was the man trapped inside the mirror, the corrupted the eye of Harmony, buried in the heart of Dagon's tomb. She remembered him clearly now. She even knew his name. Donna gazed up in shock at River Song, who returned her a sad knowing smile. "I am sorry Donna. I really am, but we couldn't keep him here. Rassilon would have found him."

Donna's face hardened when she finally understood the Doctor's words. "What have you done to me?" Her voice trembling as she held on to the pendant till the sharp corners cut into her hand. "Tell me. What the hell have you done?!"

The End

That was it people. I hope you enjoyed "A Map of the Soul." If you did, please leave a comment behind, or even when you're upset about how it ended and want to rant, let me know. I know it's a depressing ending, but at least I've left you with a hint of hope. There are only two "episodes" left before this series ends. Next one is called "Against all things ending." I am writing this on 24 September 2012, and I have not written one word for it as yet, but hopefully will have something on paper by the time this last chapter is published. Until the next time, take good care of yourself.

Alan.