Against All Things Ending.
"Against All Things Ending" belongs to a series called: "A Timelord and his madman", from which the first installment was posted in January 2010, directly after the final episode of the 10th Doctor. It is a sort of alternative season 5, in which the 10th Doctor has fortunately survived the events of "The End of time". Wandering alone through space and time in search of the Master (Simm Master), he finally succeeded to save the Master from the Timelock in the first story of the series called "His Silent Mind". Afterwards they have been traveling together as friends. Other installments include (In the right order): "Judoon Justice", "A Murderous Feast", "Shattered Worlds", "Before Harry met Lucy", "The Most Happy Bride", "This Reflection of Me" (In which Simm Master regenerated into Cumberbatch Master), and "A Map of the Soul (Cumberbatch Master)". If you're interested in the rest of the series and don't want to miss out on the Doctor's and the Master's previous adventures, hit the author button and find the links on my author page.
The Master's unrelenting thirst for revenge has unintentionally revived Rassilon and has caused the 10th Doctor's death. Aware that the Doctor was protecting the Master for a reason, and guided by the prophecy of the Oods, River Song eventually spared the Master's life, although he still was made to pay a very heavy price.
The first time that the door of his tiny prison cell swung open, the first time the harsh light flooded into the room and chased away the darkness, the first time HE came into his life, he still had his sense of self.
Dazed and disorientated, still hurting from the many bruises that covered his body, he squinted his eyes and tried to look up at the man who had appeared in the door-way. His face and features were indistinguishable, obscured by the stark contrast between the light and shadows. Kneeling on the dirty concrete floor, his hands tied with a coarse rope on his back, he couldn't stop his body from shaking as fear settled down in his stomach like a load of heavy pebbles. He ran his tongue nervously over the surface of his cracked lips, and tasted blood and dust.
"Please." He begged the man who was hidden by the biting, excruciating light. God knows how long he had been kept here in the dark. Days, perhaps even weeks. "Let me go. I…I don't know why I am here…" His dry, swollen tongue struggled to form the words. Fear, there was so much of it coursing through his system right now that he could hardly think. "I want to go home. My father, he will pay you, he's rich." He tried desperately, running out of clever ideas. "If you let me go he will pay you whatever you want…Please. I just want to go home."
He flinched when the man reached out and gently, almost tenderly, ran his fingertips over the purple and brown bruises of his bony cheeks.
"Your eyes." The man mused. His voice was calm, perfectly civilized, like that of a Victorian gentleman.
"What?" He answered feebly. His heart galloped wildly in his chest and he could feel every beat resonate in his parched throat as the man's fingers started to dig rigidly into his cheeks, forcing him to look up.
"They have not changed, despite everything else has." His captor continued. He inhaled through his nostrils and turned his head to the side. His grip on his cheeks tightened further till it started to hurt. "That vile stench." The man murmured, referring to the sharp smell of stale urine that lingered in the tiny claustrophobic space.
He shivered. He hadn't been outside ever since they had dragged him in. There was no toilet in his cell, not even a bucket to collect the waste, so he had been forced to relief himself in a corner of the room.
"You pissed on my floor." The man concluded. There was not even a trace of a threat or even malice in his voice, which made what followed even more agonizing as he wasn't prepared to brace himself for it. The man struck out, hitting him on the side of the head. It propelled his body backwards and made him almost crack his skull open against the wall. The second blow fractured the cartilage in his left outer ear and sent his vision spinning. Confused and terrified, he struggled, trashing backwards on his long boney limbs as he slid on his backside, away from the blows, away from the man hidden in the fierce light. More blows followed, hard kicks in his stomach, on his legs, and on his torso. Rolling over the floor and howling like a wounded animal, he curled up into a trembling ball, hand and arms raised up to protect his head from the blows. It only earned him more vicious assaults on the back of his head and on his shoulders. He started to beg and cry as this continued relentlessly, the man's solid steel-tipped boots making repetitive impact with the bruising, bleeding soft tissues that slowly became the color of ripe fruit. It only stopped when one of his ribs cracked. The sheer agony of it forced him to roll on to his side, gasping for air as he vomited a thick mixture of blood and bile on the floor. A strong grip took hold of the short, close-cropped tufts of his hair and pulled his head up. The man was staring at him coldly, analytically, as if only to assess the severity of his injuries so he could decide to continue or not.
He didn't know where he found the courage. Even now, he couldn't understand why he said it. "Why." He whimpered, dazed by the pain, sweat dripping in his eyes and mixing with his tears. "Why?"
The man's response came swift and pitiless, a kick of his boot, exactly on the spot where the rib was broken. The explosion of pain that followed was like a sharp blade, slicing into his innards. Then the man stepped on him, shoving down the steel tip in the bruised and bloodied area, slowly increasing the pressure. He jolted and cried out, a long hoarse moan that grew into a pitiful shriek.
The reason why I am hurting you now -" His captor explained calmly to him, almost like a father to a child. "Is because you asked why I was hurting you."
He ground the tip into the damaged rib. With a deft twist of the ankle, the bone finally gave and snapped in two.
The shriek became a mad animalistic scream that did not cease till he finally lost his voice, long after the man had left him to his suffering.
The false memories of Donna Noble
The room was a bare, ugly space, hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of the Judoon spaceship. There were no windows and no other doors except for the one through which she had just entered. The walls were grey, the color of aging metal, and from the ceiling came a single beam of light. It was so bright that she could see nothing for a moment, only that bright white glow, but when her eyes had finally adjusted, she noticed that there was also a table, and two chairs. The rest of the room was empty. There were no other distractions.
"Sit down Donna Noble." The host made a friendly gesture, pointing out a chair at her side. Donna hesitated.
"Are you afraid?" The host asked in a voice that sounded much like a synthetic airline hostess.
"No." Donna breathed in deeply. Then shook her head. "No I am not."
She sat down slowly. The host took the other chair, mimicking her actions like an imperfect reflection in the mirror. She didn't want to be rude, but she found it almost impossible to take her eyes off the strange being. Opposite to her sat a thin, humanoid creature with a strange elongated body. Its skin was a translucent membrane. Underneath it was a swirling white light that was both tranquil and restless at the same time. The host's face had no protrusions, no lips, no nose or ears, and the only features that she could recognize were his eyes. They were like projections, two pools of ever changing shades of colors that shimmered underneath the host's translucent skin.
The host folded its hands and gazed at her, its fingers moving with a dreamlike elegance, like tentacles of a sea-creature trapped on the bottom of the ocean.
"Do you know the purpose of this meeting?" He asked.
"They said to me that if I wanted any answers, I should come and talk to you."
"Do you know who we are?"
"I guess so. River Song told me about you."
"Yet you appear doubtful. Don't you believe what you were told?"
Donna shrugged, keeping her skeptical look and shaking her head. "Even now with you sitting there, right in front of me, I still find it hard to believe that you really are, who they say you are."
"Oh but professor Song told the truth. We hosts are created by the future descendents of the human race. We function as the biological carriers for all of the members of the Shadow Alliance. Each one of us has the maximum capacity to house 1000 souls."
Donna just started to wonder how this strange creature was capable of speech if it had no mouth to form words. Nothing moved on the host's face. Even the eyes seemed dead, showing no signs of what it really thought, or felt. Its voice, although melodious and pleasant, seemed to lack the faintest trace of humanity. No wonder it could not understand her bewilderment.
"Now you see, what you just said, that's totally bonkers. It can't be true that you have other people living inside of you."
"The creation of the hosts was a necessity, the next step in evolution." The host continued to explain slowly and pleasantly, as if to a young child. "Rassilon's forces threatened the existence of all the known races in the universe. The Final War has exhausted most of the natural resources of the limited number of life-sustainable planets. To survive we had to adapt quickly and evolve into a form that required less energy. To combine multiple souls into one limited unit of biomass was the only logical solution."
"So that's how everyone is going to be in a few thousand years when they are not fighting on Rassilon's side?" Donna remarked. "They all look like alien robots and keep referring to themselves in plural like the queen of England?"
"In our care are members of at least 25 different races. We sustain memories and character profiles of Solonians, Xerons, Metalkinds, Alzarians, humans and Daleks. Unity is our salvation. The wisdom of each race has ensured our survival so far, but we are loosing the war, Donna Noble. The Shadow Proclamation is dying. My superiors have send us back in time to help you fight our enemy before he becomes unstoppable."
"Oh God, you've got parts of Dalek in you?" Donna could hardly conceal her aversion.
"Don't just discard them as a dysfunctional race. Their hunger for survival is the strongest of us all. There are no Dalek individuals, only the Dalek race. Like the Daleks, in order to survive and be victorious, we must sacrifice our individuality and combine our strengths." The host finally paused and took a moment to study her, angling his strange head to one side. "You seem…distressed?"
"This was your idea, wasn't it?" Although she had promised herself to remain calm before she came here, she was now barely in control of herself. "It was you who told the Shadow Proclamation to hide the Master away in my past."
"We do not understand your anger." The host stated innocently. "Did we not just explain to you that all of our actions are for the greater good?"
"You told River Song and her goons to mess with my memories!" She vented, finally pouring out her long hidden frustrations. "Thanks to you, I can't figure out what's real and what's fake anymore. Who gave you the bloody right to do this to me?!"
"But you do want to help us, don't you?" He continued calmly. "Professor Song informed us that you voluntarily opted to stay here instead of being send back to your own time frame. She told us that you wanted to aid the Shadow Forces in their battle against Rassilon."
"Yes, I wanted to help, but I didn't sign up to take part in some sick experiment." She covered her face with her hands and shook her head, red locks sweeping in front of her eyes. "I can't sleep." The exhaustion was evident in her voice. "Every night, I am having these horrible nightmares. It's turning me into a proper fruitcake." She shot him an accusing stare. "Tell me then mister egghead, how's that gonna help anyone?!"
"You underestimate your importance. Only you can bring him back to us."
"Who? The bloody Master?" Her scorned laughter was without joy. She crossed her arms over chest and slumped back into her chair.
"You know who I mean." The host answered, still with his synthetic zen-like calm. "You are our only hope."
Images flashed in front of her mind's eye. Memories of a man resurfaced. A wonderful, impossible man, who once had carried her away from her boring ordinary life in his fantastic blue box and took her to see other worlds. Whispers of a name… a name that was now called out all over the universe, countless of nations united in their cries for a savior in these dark and desperate times, but Donna knew that their hero would never come.
"What…what are you talking about…he's gone." Her heart broke when she said it. It was like parting with the Doctor all over again.
The host leaned forward and placed a silver, egg shaped device on the table.
"There is still hope, Donna Noble."
As soon as the host's slender fingers let go, the silver sphere lifted itself from the surface. Floating in the air, it projected an image to the host and Donna, an open window into a swirling vortex of light.
"The Doctor's last words. Can you still recall what he told you?"
On the Ood's frozen planet, Donna was standing in front of the Tardis again. Snowflakes fell from the sky and brushed over her cheeks with icey kisses. The Doctor leaned forward, shielded her ear with his warm hand and whispered to her.
Donna broke her gaze, blinking her eyes back to reality. "He said…he told me to take care of the boy in the mirror."
"And do you know the meaning of those words?"
She nodded feebly. "The boy is the Nightmare Child." A pause. "He wants me to look after the Master."
For as far it was possible for the future creature to show any emotions, he appeared to be content with her answer. "We asked the Shadow Proclamation to place the Master in your past to keep him out of reach of Rassilon's spies. The good and brilliant Doctor never did anything without a reason. He saved the Master's life, and we believe that the Master is key to resolving this deadly conflict. As the Doctor has placed him in your care, we reasoned that you must be a vital part of the solution."
"So you got me babysitting a psychopathic Timelord. Isn't that wizard." She crossed her arms again and stared at the host with an air of defiance and clear resentment burning in her eyes. "So what the heck do you want from me now?"
The colors of the vortex shifted from blue into fiery reds. This sudden change alarmed the host, and with a fluid movement of its ghostly hand, it summoned a projected keyboard on which he started typing a string of codes. His actions seemed to calm the swirling pool, and the hostile colors stared to fade back into tranquil blue.
The host caught her looking inquisitively at him. "This is all that remains of the Doctor's Tardis." He explained to her. "A fragment of the timevortex that was once part of the core. It is broken. You are the only one who can mend it."
"And how do I do that?"
"You are our only link to the Master. All this time, we knew where he was because you shared with him a common past."
"Oy! I don't share anything with that first class Judas." Donna reacted fiercely. "You can't trick me. I know what you did. I didn't really know him when I was a kid. You ordered River Song to put fake memories in my head to make me believe that I did."
"You are incorrect. We did not change your memories. Your timeline was altered when we used the chameleon arch to make the Master human and hid him in your past. We can ascertain you that all the events that you remember of your childhood are real."
"If that is true, how come I can remember two versions, two realities, one in which Martin Oakdown does not exist, and one in which…." She paused, bit her lower lip and slapped her hand flat on the table. "It is fake!" It has to be!"
"You carry the memories of two timelines, including the original one that was deleted. It must be a side-effect of your previous meta-crisis. You are indeed a remarkable woman Donna Noble."
"Oh zip it spaceman!" She told the host, fearing that she was at the very brink of losing her mind.
"We need your help." The host continued, ignoring her emotional turmoil. "The Master has vanished. You know that, don't you? Records state that Martin Oakdown disappeared from your life on December 15 in 1993. You must remember that. He just had returned from his expedition from the Arctic. The day before he disappeared you went to see him. He gave you a silver pendant as a gift. The one that is shaped like a snowflake."
It was as if the host's words had the power to awaken her senses, and she suddenly felt the sharp corners of the pendant press against her skin. Shaken, she stroked it with the tips of her fingers. Why did she decide to wear that bloody thing? "Stop it." She whispered, but the host was relentless.
"Ever since he disappeared you have worn it close to your heart. Didn't you use to make yourself believe that as long as you have that pendant, no harm will come to him? That your memory of your long lost friend protects him from fading from existence?"
"That was NOT me!" Confused and suddenly panicking, she pulled hard on the chain and felt the cord snap at the back of her neck. "That Donna died in London during an air raid." She flung the silver snowflake chain away over the table surface, like it was cursed. "I've been given this only a few days ago by River Song. It means nothing to me!"
"Why are you still resisting? Don't you see that you both are the same?"
"I don't." She paused, fighting back tears of anger and frustration. "Do you understand?! I don't want to have anything to do with Martin Oakdown. It was the Master who killed the Doctor! If I should feel anything for that lowlife of a man it should be loathing and seething hatred. It's that easy! You, with your smug bloated mug with a thousand minds crammed inside, aren't you supposed to be clever?! Can't you see what this has done to me?!"
The host just gazed back at her in a long puzzled silence. Realizing that she was just venting out her frustrations on a creature that lacked any basic understanding of human emotions, she composed herself. "What do you want?" She finally whispered in a hoarse voice.
The host's eyes turned into two deep dark soulless pools as he held her gaze. "Our request is simple. Only you can help us track down the Master."
"You want me to find him?"
"We have no need of you providing such effort. All we require is for you to remember your lost friend."
Donna blinked her eyes. "I don't get it…is that all?"
"Yes, your recollections should help us to mend the vortex and track him down."
"After that you'll leave me alone?"
The host leaned back into his chair. "That is correct."
There was a moment of hesitation. "If I help you with this…Can you help me in return…can you take it away?"
"We do not understand your request."
"My memories. I want them erased. Everything I can remember of Martin Oakdown. I want it all gone." She said sternly.
The host cocked his head and studied her for a moment. "Truly, you hate this man so much?"
"Do we have a deal or not?" Donna pushed on.
"We find your terms to be…acceptable."
"All right." She breathed out a deeply. "Let's just…get this over with."
"I would like you to recall your very earliest memories." The host asked her in a matter of fact voice while in the projected image, the time vortex continued to turn calmly. "Can you do that? Can you tell me how you met him?"
The Doctor and the empty house
"Where are we?" Clara Oswald had not been traveling with the Doctor for very long, but she could easily sense that he was nervous. "I take this isn't Barbados?" They were standing outside the Tardis, taking in the scenery. The red sky and the silver leafed trees made it seem very improbably to her that they had reached their intended tropical island destination, which was a damn shame. She was actually looking forward to a couple of days spend on the beach, lounging in the shades of palm-trees and getting a bronze tan.
"No. Not Barbados…" The Doctor muttered, glancing over the field of crimson grass, and looking very distracted. "Not Barbados at all."
"Well, can't we hop back in the Tardis and try again?" Clara asked, smiling hopefully.
"I am afraid the holiday is canceled." He paused for a heartbeat. "In fact, I am not even sure we can go back." He gave Clara a wide-eyed stare.
Clara pulled up her eyebrows and crossed her arms over her chest. "Are you serious?"
One look at the Doctor's face, and she knew he was.
"Remember that crack in the time vortex, the one I showed you on the radar?" He continued in his serious voice. So it wasn't a joke then.
"Yes, the one you said it wasn't much to be worry about. You called it a hairline fracture and convinced me that those appear all the time in the fabric of reality, because the whole thing stretches and bends a lot."
"Basically, I said that cracks were fine as long as I cannot fit my hand through any one of them." The Doctor reminded her, while pacing up and down in front of the Tardis restlessly. "But now it appears that we just went through one of those cracks."
"What? How did that happen?"
"Well, possibly and most probably, the fracture grew, went from a tiny cute little baby fissure over to a not so tiny and not so cute very big massive hole. The Tardis lost her footing when we were on our way to Barbados and fell through, right into another dimension. Which reminds me, next time I tell you not to worry about something…"
"Should I be worried?" Clare asked, just to make things clear.
The Doctor pulled up his eyebrows and sucked in air through his nostrils. "I don't know. It depends." He replied in one breath.
"Well….This planet you see…It's not a planet that we are supposed to be on."
"Yes I know, we were supposed to be on Earth, 21th century, the island of Barbados, sipping cocktails, I have even booked us a cruise trip." she added with some disappointment.
"A cruise trip, really?" He shook his head to get rid of the distracting thought. "That's not what I mean." He came up to Clara, hesitating if he should really tell her, decided not to, turned away, only to come back again. "This planet and its timelines should not be accessible, not ever. Not to anyone." He finally told her, fiddling with his fingers.
"It's sealed off? Why?"
"Because it's cursed." He didn't know how to explain it to her otherwise, not without opening the old wounds. "This is my home planet, the place where I came from….Gallifrey. The Timelords originated from here. For eons, we flourished and built our society here. A great civilization, one of the greatest of the known universe."
"Well, you must have been doing well if you lot can travel in time."
"But that was all before the war…the terrible time war…" He froze, a man trapped in the haunting memories of his past. "We have to get out of here." He muttered under his breath, more to himself than to his companion. "Something is terribly wrong. If the Tardis can fall through a crack in the time vortex and reach a time and place that is supposedly time-locked, then what else could be happening in the universe right now?" He spun around with a wild look in his eyes. "Clara, get inside, we must try to get the Tardis working…Clara?"
She had wandered off and was standing on the edge of the hill looking down over the valley below. "Look Doctor." She said in a soft voice, her gaze focused on the far distance. "There is a house. Just over there, behind that row of silver trees." She didn't know why it caught her attention, but for some reason, it seemed important that she showed it to Doctor.
The Doctor's hearts tightened when he realized what Clara was pointing out to him and grunted inwardly. Of all the possible places on Gallifrey they had to land exactly on this very spot. He had not returned here since the day he stole the Tardis and left his old life behind. Even when it was still possible to visit his planet's timeline, he had never found the courage to come back to this place. Too much had happened here, and too much of it was him to blame.
Clara shot a glance at the Doctor. "You said that this was your home?"
"No, not this place. Although I've spend many happy summers and winters here." His mind brought him back to his childhood, and to the long lost days in which he was out in the fields together with him. Two boys growing up together, playing and running and screaming to the red sky. He pointed at the entrance of the building, where the old insignia of the great Oakdown family was carved out in stone right above the front doors. "This used to belong to my friend and his family. This is Oakdown Hall." He had to swallow hard before he could speak its name. It left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth.
"I think you should pay it a visit." Clara told him, but in her eyes the Doctor could detect a glint of worry, perhaps even fear. He realized that the way she got these strange gut feelings was starting to upset her.
"Why?" The Doctor asked, but already knowing the answer.
"To see if there's something that needs fixing. It's that what we do, right?" A small voice in the back of Clara's mind told her that she could not let the Doctor leave without finding out what was waiting for them in Oakdown Hall.
The Doctor hesitated. He knew about Clara's hunches. It had gotten them both out of a fair number of very hairy situations already, and he had learned to trust them, even if they seemed crazy and completely counter-intuitive sometimes. "Are you absolutely sure about this? 100% positive?" He asked, hoping she would change her mind.
"Why wouldn't I be?" She answered with a small smile.
He just looked at her, searching for an easier way out. Finally he gave up, and started descending the slope of the hill with reluctance in each and every step.
To be continued, meanwhile please review & comment!