"The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-19 03:05pm

Alright folks, this is it. Episode 35 begins the run-up to the Grand Finale of the story, "The Promise of the Name". There will be no more filler episodes and only three shorts interspersed in the next five full-length episodes (and Episodes 36 and 37 are a ginormous short novel-length two-parter). And they start off with a bang. :)

Episode 35 - A Good Man's War

I hate war.

Well, let's be honest, there aren't many who like it, and those that do only like it when they get to win. Ever see a Klingon on the losing side of a war? It can be pretty depressing. And don't get me started on the Mandalorians, half the time they mope for centuries when they lose a war.

The Kralnak actually impose a century of peace upon themselves whenever they lose a war, just to make sure enough time has passed that their war gods aren't mad at them anymore. Well, two centuries in one case. You've no idea how aggravating it is to pretend to be a Kralnak war god.

But yes, I hate war.

That might make me the Multiverse's biggest hypocrite, though, given how often I get mixed up with them.

Oh, it's not intentional all the time. I mean, when Katherine and I materialize in the Fableworlds and help some of them hold the line long enough to escape the Adversary's armies to Earth? That's just passing through. Might not even count. With the Reapers I just showed up at the end and tilted the odds against the Catalyst.

But more than enough times, it hasn't been innocent passing through. It's been me consciously jumping into a conflict because I thought I knew the best outcome to it. The Bajoran rebellion against the Cardassians comes to mind, obviously. And other bits. Like that whole mess between Mesa and Manticore. I mean, I like cats, I couldn't let all of those poor treecats get killed, could I? But that is still me openly joining one side in a war. Just as I did on Alderaan in the war between the Republic and the Sith Empire. Or when I secured the Voidstar for the Republic, helped them repulse the Empire on Denova and that one planet with the Gree ruins.... okay, I participated in quite a few of those fights, yes.

Especially when I was the Time Lord Triumphant.

I don't like talking about when I was the Time Lord Triumphant. I devastated fleets and armies. I broke war ministers and general staffs. I turned entire battles.

Oh, and, I started wars. Mustn't forget that bit. I hate war but I started some. To make things better of course.

Yes, I know, that's a rather hollow excuse. It's like opposing the principle of murder while you're shooting someone in the head.

Anyway, yes, I hate wars. I try to stop them when I find them. Or make them less nasty. I just... do what I can.

But this story is about the time that I, bereft of my Time Lord Triumphant insanity, still knowingly and willingly joined a war. No, not just joined it, but expanded it. Evened it out by calling in allies who agreed to fight even when they had no practical reason or need to. I intentionally drew people I liked, people I respected, even people I called friends, into a vicious, bloody war of a single night. I put their lives, and more, at risk to accomplish my objective.

I am a hypocrite.

And sometimes... I think I can be a right bastard. Even a bad man.

But I will say this.

If you're going to fight a war, it needs to be for the right reason.

And I would do this one again. Because I had that reason. It was a reason anyone with a heart would accept, even if their heads told them it was wrong. A reason I could never turn down. Not without tearing out a part of my own soul.

So why did I do this? Why did I go to war, for how much I hated it?

To save a little girl.

One precious, innocent life, seized by monsters not for anything she did, but simply for who she was.

You like that reason, don't you? Sounds noble. Sounds worthy.

Yeah, it does.

It's a nice, bright, lovely little lie, isn't it?

Because that's not the real reason I went to that war. It's not the reason I put the lives of Companions, friends, and allies at jeopardy. Oh, I told them it was for the little girl. I even wanted to believe it myself.

But I went for another reason.

And that led me to this moment. This point in my life. The screams and shouts and battle cries of those I had brought to the killing ground echoing around me. The shrieks and furious bellows of the monsters bearing down on them and intent on our deaths. The smell of death and blood assailing my nostrils.

The terrified whimper from the little girl huddled in my arms, frightened and cold.

The blood-stained altar I had just picked her up from. The obsidian knife, still stained with blood, that would have killed her and many, many others.

I had been looking at her until the shadow fell over me. I looked up at the figure who stood across from me.

I showed no fear as he focused on me. His expression was firm and resolute. He knew what had to happen now. The pain of necessity was written plainly on his scarred face.

His brown eyes, brimming with emotion, met mine.

And for the first time ever, Harry Dresden and I looked into each others eyes, while around us our friends and allies fought for their lives in the chaos and horror that had gripped the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza.






Oh, what am I saying? I'm getting ahead of myself. Sorry. Couldn't help it. You need to know what I'm talking about. You need context to understand what was going on.

Alright. Fine. It began with a phone call from a desperate man.

I wasn't surprised at the call when I got it. It was one I knew I'd be getting eventually. One I dreaded.

"Doctor, I need your help," said Harry Dresden on the other end. There was no sign of the usual levity he might have had. "They've got my daughter."

I heard those words and involuntarily I made a sharp intake of breath.

"I figure you're not surprised. This is probably what you were trying to tell me about that night in Mac's a year or so back, isn't it?"

My voice was dry when I replied, "Yes. It was."

"Yeah, figured. Can't really be mad about it since I turned you down."

"You did the right thing," I assured him. "I wasn't in the right mind then, Harry."

For a moment there was no answer. "And if I'd let you tell me, my daughter wouldn't be in danger right now."

I bit into my lip. Arguing the point, pointing out that knowing about Maggie would have changed his decisions at some very crucial points - it certainly would have affected his judgement during the case of Aleron LaFortier's murder - and that it was better this way... that was not a winning argument. Not here. Not now.

"They're going to kill her," Harry said. "They're going to kill my little girl, Doctor. I've got to save her."

I wish it had been just as simple as that. But... it wasn't. I swallowed and rubbed at my eyes. "Harry," I began.

He didn't let me say anything else. As if I could have said anything else given the sick feeling in my stomach. "You've got to help me,", Harry pleaded. "If you've ever considered yourself my friend, you won't turn your back on me. Not now."

I swallowed. My mind raced. My old sins were coming back to haunt me again. Now I had to deal with them.

"Harry, listen to me. Things have to happen right now, things I can't interfere..."

"Don't you FUCKING DARE," he screamed over the line. "Don't you dare tell me my little girl has to die! That... that you have to let her die because of some Goddamned-."

"Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden!", I roared into the phone, carefully enunciating every syllable as if it had power. It didn't. I'm a Time Lord, not a bloody dragon. But it did get him to stop. I sighed and lowered my voice. I wanted to fall to the ground, but that wouldn't accomplish anything. Not when I had a terrified father on the phone. "Harry. I give you my word, on everything I hold dear, everything I believe in, that your daughter will survive this. If I must, I will blaze such a path of fury through the Red Court that the supernatural creatures of your world will speak of it for eternity. Maggie will live through this. Do you understand me?"

There was silence on the other end. "Yeah, I got you, Doc," he finally said. His voice was weary. He didn't even question how I knew his daughter's name.

"How much has happened so far?", I asked.

He filled me in. His office had been blown up, a certain little weasel of a police detective named Rudolph had gotten him arrested as a bombing suspect, he'd been shot at when the FBI cut him loose, the White Council had turned their back on him due to Cristos, and all he had going for him right now was Molly, Murphy, Mouse, and Maggie's mother Susan Rodriguez and her partner Martin in the Fellowship of St. Giles. For those of you unfamiliar with that Fellowship, they were half-vampires (Red Court-style ones) who were fighting their creators alongside the White Council and their other mortal allies. Good people. A bit scary, and that's not counting the curse of the bloodthirst from their vampiric side, but good people.

"I've talked to every spirit I've got pull with," Harry said. "All I got was an image from a fire sprite. I know she's still alive and that the Red Court's going to do something somewhere in Mexico. But I don't know where. Can you..."

"Harry, I'll get your daughter out, but there are other things that are going to happen. Things that... have to happen." I almost choked on that. I didn't want to say it. Deep down, I didn't want those things to happen, and I knew I could prevent them. But the cost... "As for where you'll find where they're going to have Maggie? I have one suggestion; get in touch with Ivy."

"She was my next call," Harry said.

"Good. Get working on your end. I have things to do on mine. I'll see you soon."

I put my phone back on its receiver. And then I promptly walked over to the stairs leading from the controls to the upper ring and the halls out of the control room, where I plopped down into a sitting position. I ran a hand through my hair while my emotions roiled through me.

It had finally happened. I was finally here. At this point in time.

And I had a decision to make.

The door to the TARDIS opened. Liara and Katara walked in, looking a bit scuffed up. "I think I may have found something," Liara said. "There was burnt grass around blackened and dried out rock in the forest near a stream, about half a kilometer away. It could have been Bolin lavabending."

"Ah." I nodded.

"If you go over there, maybe we can get a scan and...."

"I'm afraid Bolin and Mister Varrick are going to have to wait. Something has come up," I said. I forced myself to stand. "Something very bad. Now I..."

The phone rang again.

I walked over to the comm console and checked the ID of the incoming call.

My blood nearly froze. It was a code that had never called in before. A temporal beacon I'd handed out a long time ago for one explicit purpose.

I sighed and picked the phone up. "I'm here."

"Everything is going according to schedule," the voice on the other end said. "Just as you said it would."

"I see." I swallowed. "Well, that's quite good news."

"Has Dresden contacted you yet?"

"He has. Just now. So I'm already on the clock."

"Understood. I left a drop package for you with the current location and information on a viable target for your proposal. It's a private post office store in Downtown Chicago, at..." He gave me the street address and the name of the business, as well as the name I'd have to assume to get a key.

"Right. I'll get there as soon as I can."

"We won't have a lot of time, so get this quick before the target gets underway. And be careful with him. He can be slippery."

"Thanks for the warning," I replied. "I'll see you later, Martin."

I hung up the phone and looked down at the controls for a moment.

"Who is Martin?", Liara asked. "What's going on?"

I took in a breath and forced myself to focus. It wasn't easy. I was torn. Torn on what the right thing to do was. The responsible thing would be to let things go as they were going to. Don't change anything. Just... let it happen as I knew it would.

But I couldn't just do it like that. I'm the Doctor. I save people. And I could save someone if I went through with this. A good person who deserved the happiness my success would bring.

More than that, if I did things a certain way.... I could save Harry too. I could save him from the horrible decision he was about to make.

But the ramifications of that decision. The things I might undo. The damage I could cause.

My head told me I shouldn't.

But my hearts told me I should. My hearts told me that a dear friend would be happier if I did... what I thought of doing. And that it was worth whatever cost had to be paid. That I would pay it, and gladly, to give Harry the happiness he'd been denied for so long.

"Doctor?" Katara stepped up to me. "Why are you crying?"

I was almost surprised to feel the hot tears pouring form my eyes. I was racked with indecision. Me, of all people. My head and my hearts were at odds and I felt... lost. I wanted to follow my hearts so much, but...

...but that was something Triumphant would have done, after all. Happily, Easily. Making things "better", even if they actually became worse.

"I may be about to do something very foolish," I informed them. "But that's not the important part."

"Then what is?"

I turned my head to face them. "Harry Dresden's daughter Maggie has been kidnapped by the Red Court of Vampires," I informed them.

They both stared in shock. "I... oh Goddess." Liara's voice almost cracked with horror. "I didn't even know he had a daughter."

"He didn't either," I remarked.

Katara was quick to say, "But you knew."

I nodded. "I did. Couldn't tell him. Not without changing things. Things that would have been dangerous to change." And just look at what that decision had wrought. Because of that, an eight year old child had been forced to watch her foster family be torn to shreds. Literally.

My thoughts flashed back to another eight year old girl, in her dirtied dress, crying beside the corpses of her brothers. An eight year old girl named Kira Nerys who had begged me to take her away from the violence and suffering of the Bajoran Occupation. And, to preserve the timeline, I had said "No".

And now, just like Nerys, Maggie Dresden was also suffering because of a decision I had made.

"They're going to kill her," I said. My voice was hoarse from the dueling emotions inside of me. "They're going to cut her open to fuel a bloodline curse against her family. They're after Harry and his grandfather. It'll make their hearts literally explode out of their chests if it goes off."

I let the shock and horror of that thought sink in. I had it in my head too. It wasn't pretty.

"We'll stop them," Katara said. Her tone was fierce. "We can't let that happen."

"We won't," I assured her. I looked to Liara.

There was no fooling Liara. "There's something else going on here," she said. "Something you're not telling us. Why are you looking so uncertain? That's not like you at all."

"Usually not," I agreed. "But it can't be helped."

"You're going to do something foolish, aren't you?", she asked.

I wasn't going to hide it. "Possibly."

"What?" Liara stepped up. "Doctor, you need to tell us."

"I will," I said. "But first, we need to get to work. Because we're tied to their timestream now, and little Maggie is running out of time." I went to the TARDIS controls. "I have a stop to make. Then I'll know our next move."

And which would, of course, bring me closer to the moment I had to choose.

My head? Or my hearts?




The package Martin had left for me was a dossier on one Antonio Monterro. He was, on paper, a business manager in San Salvador who oversaw the accounts for several companies operating in Latin America. He looked like a small, unassuming fellow with a small figure. Not at all dangerous.

Although he actually was quite dangerous.

In truth, Antonio Monterro was a half-vampire and follower of the Red Court. Like many others, he had been granted his vampiric half as a reward for service, and further service and displays of discipline in his bloodthirst would eventually merit him permission to become a full vampire. How, you might ask? Simple. He just had to kill someone while slaking his bloodthirst.

Yes, it's quite monstrous, isn't it?

Monterro was making preparations to leave. Martin's report, not to mention my own instinct for the situation, were attributing it to Chichen Itza. He'd been invited to attend the Red King's court there. In the same ceremonies when Maggie would be killed.

And he'd be there, all right. But I was changing his travel plans.

Monterro's office was in one of the best districts in San Salvador, a nice and built up place with high-rise buildings and everything. That would make what we were about to do a bit trickier, mind you.

"So, you're going to kidnap this man?", Liara asked me for the third time while we waited in ambush positions. "And with these?" She held up the submachine gun I'd handed her. "You hate guns."

"Well, I find them bloody annoying, but sometimes…" I held out my own. "This has to look good. I don't want the Red Court thinking there's something special about this fellow's kidnapping. This way we'll look like just another Latin American kidnapping ring snagging someone for ransom."

Liara looked skeptically at me, and on to Katara, who was still eyeing her weapon of the same make. She was evidently trying to understand how it worked. "Don't worry about it," I whispered. "Point the weapon's barrel ending toward the monster and hold the trigger.

"I guess."

"There's got to be another way of doing this," Liara insisted.

"If he just disappears, the Red Court may put two and two together. I need to establish a good why."

"Very well," Liara sighed. "But I…"

"Shhh." I pointed to the door. A trio of figures were stepping out. Two rather large men in dark suits, clearly bodyguards for Senor Monterro, with submachine guns of their own under their jackets if the remote sensors I'd laid were correct. "Remember, aim high," I said to both, after which I lowered the balaclava over my head.

Liara made a face and did the same. Katara seemed less uncomfortable, opting for a suit like that she'd worn in pursuing her mother's killer, with her hair free but her mouth and nose covered by an extension from the collar. Both readied their weapons.

I held up my fingers, counting down and waiting until Monterro and his bodyguards were about to climb into the nice four door car he owned. With the same hand I gripped the sonic screwdriver and activated it.

The car lit up with a bang, sending powerful blinding light into the eyes of the bodyguards and Monterro. We held up our weapons and opened fire into the air above their heads. No blanks of course, I couldn't afford the lack of rounds and spent casings tipping the Red Court off. But the bullets were the kind that mushroomed when they hit something and would not ricochet.

After we had them on the ground Katara and I dashed across the street and seized the startled Monterro. I pressed a hypospray full of high-powered sedative into his neck and injected him with a high dose. More than enough to knock out even a half-vampire, not enough to actually damage him. By the time we were pulling him back across the street the blinded bodyguards were trying to stand up. They went for their guns of course, but they were too professional to simply fire willy-nilly into the street.

I hadn't had the time to acquire an actual van or vehicle, so I improvised. I triggered a sound system and attached holographic viewer just in case they should open their eyes. The sounds and visual would make them think a van had just pulled up and we had jumped in with Monterro. Like any other kidnapper would in the area. Actually, not too dissimilar to what the Red Court themselves had their mortal agents do.

In reality, however, we brought Monterro into the opposite alleyway and into the TARDIS. I had a specialized room set up inside for him. A nice, cozy prison cell. Liara helped me get him into wrist and ankle restraints. "He'll be out for several more hours," I noted. "But we'll want to keep an eye on him."

"Right."

Once we had Monterro secured in the room, it was back to the control room for us. Once we were there, Liara pulled off the balaclava and threw it to the side. "Okay, you have him. Why?"

"Because he'll be vital to my plan succeeding," I answered.

"In what way?", Liara asked. "Do we need him for intelligence? I'm already scanning the remote drive he had in his jacket."

I shook my head. "No. That's not why we snatched him. I need him for something else. Something…" I shook my head. "It's important. I just need you to trust me."

"I do trust you," Liara said. "But I also know you're divided about this. There's something else going on here. Like this ‘Martin' person. And why haven't you told Harry about this part of the plan?"

"Because he doesn't need to know," I insisted. "Better to keep it to myself."

But Liara knew me too well. "You're doing something wrong, aren't you?"

"I'm helping to save a little girl."

"You admitted that you were up to something, Doctor, don't think we ignored that," Liara retorted.

"What is it, Doctor?", Katara asked. "You can tell us."

I frowned. I didn't want to. I knew that what I was doing could upset things. But all I could think about was the pain that was awaiting my friend. "I'm going to change history," I said. "I'm going to change what happens."

"In what way?", asked Liara.

I walked over and sat down on the steps. I put my hands on my head and briefly considered ripping some of my hair out. They followed and sat down near me. "Harry's life is going to change now," I said quietly. "Everything will. The Red Court, by doing this, has set in motion their own annihilation. In a couple of nights, at Chichen Itza, they will attempt the bloodline curse. They'll slaughter… dozens, maybe hundreds, of innocent people to power it."

"Goddess."

Katara frowned. "Then why don't we stop them there? Why don't we save all of those people?"

"Because we'd be doing the same thing to this world that Xuandi nearly did to yours when he tried to kill Aang and the others," I answered. "An event like that? It's a Fixed Point in Time. I already investigated it back during my… darker times." I frowned. "It's why I contacted Martin."

"You said they'd cause their own annihilation," Liara pointed out.

"Yes. The curse is meant for Harry's bloodline. By murdering his daughter on the altar, the curse would transfer to all of her blood relations. Her parents, Harry's half-brother. and his maternal grandfather, the true target of this curse. Harry's just the… icing on the revenge cake for Duchess Arianna." My face became a stony mask. "But Harry will manage to save his daughter. At least, he will in normal history. But there is a cost. Maggie's mother Susan."

Their expressions bade me to continue, so I did. I laid out what Martin really was; a triple agent. Sent by the Red King to infiltrate and undermine the Fellowship of St. Giles as a double agent, but in secret harboring a desire to destroy the Red Court for their crimes. A desire he now found it possible to attain by sacrificing Susan and himself.

"Martin betrayed Maggie's existence and home to Arianna. He set this whole thing in motion as a bid to get at the Red Court and looks to take advantage of what they're ultimately doing." I held my head back and sighed. "At the critical moment, he'll reveal this to Susan Rodriguez. And she will lose her mind to rage and rip his throat out. By killing Martin, who is still a mortal, she will complete her transformation and become a vampire. The youngest vampire in the Red Court, linked by her new vampiric blood to the Red King and all the rest."

My horrified Companions were smart. They completed the logic chain without prodding. "She's the one sacrificed," Liara murmured.

I nodded. "Harry figures it out. She lets him use the knife. To save her daughter, of course." I felt tears rolling down my face. "Harry will have to kill the woman he loved, who he still loves, the mother of his child, to save Maggie's life. And that night, the Red Court dies."

"Oh Goddess," Liara repeated. Her voice was thick with horror. "You're… that is what you're going to change."

I nodded. "Half-vampires don't directly die of the curse. But their bodies shift to what their human age should be. Those who are beyond normal human lifespan will die from the rapid aging. So Martin's a dead man no matter which new vampire is on the altar. This is why I proposed to him that he be the one on it. I told him I would provide him with a half-vampire like himself, an agent of the Red Court, who would also die regardless. When we're at Chichen Itza, at the critical moment near the end, I will arrange for Monterro to be brought to Martin. He'll kill Monterro, begin transforming, and then I will put him on the altar and make him the sacrifice. The Red Court will die, as is required for history, and Susan Rodriguez will live. She will get to be with her daughter and be free of the vampire curse."

As I laid out that plan, I thought about the other temptation dangling before me. Harry's fate, specifically. What he would do out of desperation to save Maggie. If I could be there to prevent him from needing to make that deal…

"Could you do that, Doctor?", Katara asked. "Could you kill that man? Like that?"

"I…" I swallowed. "Yes," I finally said. "If I had to."

They could hear how I forced the answer out. Katara and Liara shared glances of doubt. I didn't blame them. "And that's it?", Liara asked. "There's nothing else going on?"

"No," I lied, even as I contemplated all the things I might mess up by changing Harry's fate too. Could I adjust things to account for the difference I would create if I did what I had in mind?

Was it right for me to take that chance with this world and its future?

My mind wandered. It imagined destruction and chaos. It imagined mad gods and beings freed from their prisons to wreak havoc upon the world. Mad spirits overwhelming Chicago.

It also imagined Harry and Susan at that Burger King Harry always went to with little Maggie on her father's tall shoulders laughing away wearing a cardboard crown on her brow. It imagined swing sets and playgrounds, school plays and recitals, happy laughter as wrapping paper was torn away in the shadow of a Christmas tree…. perhaps even snowball fights masquerading as magic practice and Harry having to cover Maggie's ears when Bob gets particularly lecherous during a magic lesson.

Well, okay, that last bit is unlikely, Bob being a top secret part of Harry's life and all. But imagination is imagination.

I could give Harry Dresden, the man I had come to call a friend, the thing he had always wanted. That he had always longed for, that had evaded him his whole life.

A family.

And all I had to do was endanger his entire timeline. And the world.

I remember a part of me rebelling from that sentiment. Thinking about how little it'd mean if they all died in a year after Demonreach - that creepy island in Lake Michigan where Harry had rescued the Archive from Nicodemus - exploded with the force of a naquadah-enhanced nuclear warhead. Or if the Corpsetaker's plans weren't stopped by Harry during those intervening months. How much damage might that cause?

What good would it do to change Harry's fate just to deprive him of the power he needed to save everything and everyone he loved?

You can make the difference, a part of me urged. Do it! Make that difference! Give him the life he deserves!

Which was just egotistical, when you get down to it. I mean, yes, I'm a Time Lord. I can do all sorts of wonderful, even nearly magical things with the technology I can employ. But.... you need different tools for different tasks, you know? I'm not a wizard. Harry can do things I can't.

I tried to get the thoughts out of my head. But it wasn't happening. The thought of making sure Harry got to have a family. How could I just throw that away? Knowing what it meant to him?

"I need to talk to him", I muttered.

"To who?", asked Liara.

"Harry." I swallowed. "I... I need to give him the choice. It's not mine to make. It's..." I swallowed. "I need to lay things out to him. It's Harry's life. He has to decide."

My Companions looked at each other. Understanding dawned. They knew I'd lied earlier. That I had something else in mind.

I, meanwhile, was putting in the coordinates to his home. "He had to lower his wards when the FBI came to take him in for questioning," I said to the others. "So his home is vulnerable. Be careful."

They nodded as I pulled the TARDIS lever. I waited until we finished the spatial transition before going to the door and opening it.

I was greeted by the crackle of roaring flames.

Harry's home was on fire.

Between me and the boarding house Harry had called home for over a decade were first responders, busily rushing to keep the fire from spreading to the other homes in the area. There were police already on the scene as well. I saw them as I rushed closer, calling out, "Harry! Harry! Molly!"

I met neither, and the police quickly intercepted me and pushed me away. Only then did an elderly voice call out to me, and I turned to find Harry's landlady sitting in an ambulance. I walked over to Mrs. Spunkelcrief. I called her by name. She knew of me, although she thought I was Harry's English cousin.

"Oh, I'm so sorry for you," she said. "Your cousin, he's... Harry's been badly hurt."

My mouth went dry. "How badly?", I said, keeping my voice as audible as I could without screaming so that the deaf old lady could understand me.

"They carried him out on a board," she answered. "Poor brave boy. He was trying to rescue the Willoughbys. And then there was an explosion and... and he was knocked from the ladder. I think he hurt his back." She took my arm. "I'm sure he'll want to see you. I don't know which hospital they took him to..."

I drew in a breath. "I... have an idea where he'll be, Mrs. Spunkelcrief. I'm just happy to see you're okay."

"God bless you," she answered in that sort of squeaky voice the very old could sometimes manage.

The EMTs were returning, so I stepped away. The smoke was still rising into the night sky, framed by flames licking skyward while the fire crews continued to douse them with water. I started my way back to the TARDIS. Katara met me halfway. "I could help," she said. "It might..."

"It's too late," I murmured. "Too late. I can't..." I stepped back into the TARDIS and looked at the controls. "You didn't trust me," I said accusingly. "Why didn't you trust me?"

My TARDIS didn't answer.

I don't know what hurt worse. That my TARDIS didn't trust me to do the right thing... or that I might not have done the right thing if she had.

"Where's Harry?", Liara asked.

"On his way to St. Mary of the Angels," I replied. I walked over to the stairs and plopped down into them. "I was too late. They got to him. The vampires."

"Then we should go there," Katara said. "I can use my waterbending to heal whatever..."

"How quickly could you heal a broken back, Katara?", I asked pointedly. I already knew the answer, of course. As I knew there were limits to how waterbending healing worked.

They both paled. For what seemed like the umpteenth time since this had begun, Liara whispered "Goddess". Katara shook her head. "I... I can help with the pain. But a broken back..."

"...even a wizard like Harry will take decades to recover under natural healing," I answered. "And since we're locked into the timestream now, I can't take him away for the weeks he would need for spinal replacement or whatever other treatment would hasten the healing."

"But you said he is meant to rescue Maggie," Liara insisted. "How can he do that now?"

I swallowed. "By making a deal."

"What do you..."

"He's going to make a deal with Mab," I finished with some heat. "To save his daughter, Harry's going to give Queen Mab what she's wanted for years. He's going to become the Winter Knight, her enforcer and assassin in the mortal world."

Well, there was more to it than that, but that was all that needed to be said.

"So... you can't stop this," Katara said. "That was what you wanted to prevent, wasn't it?"

"I'd been tempted to, yes," I admitted. "But it's for the best. Harry... will need that power, frankly. Another burden for him to bear."

"We can still save Susan," Liara pointed out. "Knowing she's Human again and able to raise their daughter might help him deal with it."

"Will it?" I sighed. "What if saving her also causes unforeseen consequences?" I closed my eyes and tried to imagine them. But the possibilities. So many of them. And there were so many external forces at play that there was no way to know how the march of history would go. Even for a Time Lord.

"What if I'm making the same mistake again?", I wondered aloud. "I'm meddling. Like when I was Triumphant."

"That was different," Liara insisted.

"Was it?", I asked pointedly. "Good intentions can still have evil outcomes. I have a responsibility to protect history. To protect time."

"But you're also the Doctor," Katara said. "You're supposed to save people. So you have to try and save Susan."

I went silent as I thought about it.

There was a beeping noise. Liara brought up her right forearm and her omnitool appeared. Data showed up on the screen. "Doctor? You might want to see this."

"What?", I asked.

"It's from Monterro's flash drive," Liara said. "It's.... it's about the Red Court's defenses at Chichen Itza."

I blinked and looked up. And then I walked over to look it over. "That's not right," I murmured. "Look."

"I'm going through the memos on the drive now." Several entries lit up on the hard-light display. Liara let out a breath. "I think I can see why."

I followed her eyes. It was a memo from Duchess Arianna to Monterro and others with managerial positions in the Red Court's financial affairs.
We must expect that Dresden will not be alone. Many of his allies are not to be concerned with. But he will certainly call for the aid of the Time Lord. Interference from the Doctor must be considered in handling the security arrangements for the ceremony. As such, you are instructed to set aside additional funds to hire the personnel needed to triple the planned security force and to ensure more of our people can make the trip to Chichen Itza. I want to make sure that even the Doctor cannot overcome us.
Below the text was Arianna Ortega's official signature and what looked like a ducal seal.

As soon as I read that, my mind flashed back to a memory.

Some time ago, I had touched the mind of a being who could see the future. Somehow my telepathy and the future vision of a fused gem-based being named Garnet had interacted, giving me glimpses of potential futures.

And now my mind came to one of those images. A grieving Harry, freezing tears flowing from his reddened eyes, as he cradled a little body.

I focused on the image as I had not before. I realized what I was seeing.

Maggie's body. With a hole in her forehead.

And now that vision became clear.

This extra force, it meant that even with all of the firepower and allies Harry could bring to bear... it might not be enough. Oh, he might actually beat the Reds, but that was no guarantee the mercenaries wouldn't keep fighting. All it would take was a sniper or a gunman in the wrong place, firing at just the wrong time, and it would all be for nothing.

I swallowed and started to think. They were going to have more half-vampires there. More full vamps. And a lot more mercenaries. Even with all of the forces Harry would have coming to his aid, even if I showed up with Liara and Katara... it might not be enough.

Maggie might still die. And Murphy, and Molly, even my plan to save Susan might be for nothing.

And it would be because of me. Because, by my existence, I had altered the correlation of forces in this world. Harry's enemies had to take my potential presence into account. It was something of a vicious cycle; every time I ended up working with Harry to redress the imbalances my own existence caused, it in turn caused other forces to take more notice of me and to create further imbalance.

This time, it was an imbalance even I wasn't sure I could safely negate.

At least, not without doing something I was rather loathe to do.

Liara's breath was slow as she read further memos. "Doctor, I..." She shook her head. "...even all three of us, and with Harry and the others... I don't think we can win this by ourselves."

I nodded. "We can't."

"Then, what are we going to do?", Liara asked. "Maybe if we slip in..."

"That place is the stronghold of the Lords of Outer Night," I remarked. "Vampiric demi-gods. Even with the stealth circuit, we would be caught easily. And remember, its a Fixed Point. I can't do anything that would jeopardize that outcome." I drew in a breath and forced myself to stand. I didn't have much time due to the TARDIS being locked onto the local timestream. That lock would eventually fade, true, but by then it would be too late.

I went to the TARDIS controls and started twisting knobs and setting switches. "Doctor, what are you doing?", Liara asked.

"There's only one way to make this right," I said. "One way to make sure that we save Maggie without ruining history."

Katara and Liara looked at each other in some confusion. "And that is...?", Katara asked.

I looked up to them. My face was locked in a grim expression. "We go to war," I answered. "A war with the Red Court. And to fight that war..." I put my hand on the activation lever. "...I'm going to need some soldiers."

And with that said, I pulled the lever to shift the TARDIS away.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-20 09:00pm

There was no rest for me. Not with allies to find and recruit. Allies who could fight a war with the Red Court and not flinch from their inhuman power and appearance. And who could accept the outcome of the night.

So I made calls. Paid visits to allies. Every time I laid out the stakes and asked if they were willing.

Not a single one of them said no.

The TARDIS was thus set up appropriately to carry them. Arrangements were made. Supplies received, particularly from the doctors of Layom Station.

All in all, I think I did about as well as I could hope to in the time I had available.

I found myself with a little time left at the end of it all. I was standing in the TARDIS control room by myself when Liara entered from one of the halls. She was in an Asari Commando combat suit with a Locust on one hip and a Carnifex on the other. "We're all ready," she said. "I've secured Monterro for when you decide to bring him along."

"Good." I sighed. "You look ready for a fight."

"Well, you did say it would be a war," she pointed out.

"True." I almost sighed again. I've become something of a sigher, it seems. Always sighing. I should really look into doing something else. "Is this what I should be doing, though?"

"Given the circumstances, there's not anything else you can do." Liara leaned against the railing around the control floor. "We're going to need all of that help to fight the forces we're facing."

"Yes." I lowered my head. It must have made me appear to be looking at the TARDIS controls. "I've brought all of these people into a fight that has nothing to do with them. I'm risking their lives…"

"Stop it," Liara insisted. "Just stop it. Because you didn't make that choice, they did. They're responsible for anything that comes. And they're ready for it. So don't patronize them, or me, by pulling this kind of 'feel sorry for myself' act. We need you clear-headed tonight."

I stopped speaking for the moment and just let Liara finish. "Well," I finally said, "look at you. Giving good advice and all that."

"That's what we're here for," said Katara, who walked in as well. "Everything is ready."

"Well." I looked up and took in a breath. "I guess I'd better get ready. I'll be stepping out first, after all, when we get to where we're going."

I walked up the stairs and to one of the halls leading into the rest of the TARDIS. One hall here, then there, and soon I had arrived at my destination.

The armory.

It wasn't the same as the last time, of course. I wouldn't be taking everything I'd used before. But I would need the combat suit, at least, just for the extra protection.

After all, we were going to war.




So. How to begin this part?

I suppose a summary of what Harry had been up to should be my start.

For starters, he had indeed become the Winter Knight. Queen Mab had bestowed the mantle of Winter upon him, healing Harry's broken spine and busted leg and imbuing him with power and resilience he had never known before. And she had given him until noon the following day, at which time she could summon him for whatever purpose she deemed fit.

In the ensuing time before the festivities began at Chichen Itza, he had been attacked by a gunman, forced to fight his way out of the FBI building against a Red Court hit squad, and then he and Susan had to defeat said squad to avoid getting gutted and likely eaten by the Erlking and his monstrous followers. That little trip to the Nevernever had nearly cost him due to differences in the flow of time, but now he was on his way to Chichen Itza by way of the Nevernever and its myriad paths and relationships with the normal world. He'd be bringing every ally he could find. Murphy, Molly, Mouse, his White Court vampire half-brother Thomas, the atheistic Knight of the Cross Sanya, Susan and Martin, and even his fairy godmother the Leanansidhe, attending by order of Queen Mab.

And then would come some violence and a diplomatic discussion as Harry tried to bargain for his daughter's life by agreeing to kill Duchess Adrianna on behalf of the Red King. Through a completely unnecessary translator, though, which would let the King get out of honoring his word once the deed was done.

Which is when I came in.

The stadium was packed with members and functionaries of the Red Court. Harry and his allies were facing the stand upon which the Red King and the other Lords of Outer Night were standing with members of their entourages, surrounded by jaguar-skin-wearing vampires. They were all in costumes out of pre-Colombian times, with gold masks for the Lords of Outer Night. The combined power of the Red King and the Lords was weighing down on Harry and his allies, driving them to their knees, while the Red King was preparing to hand the sacrificial dagger to a subordinate warrior. Presumably with orders to kill Maggie.

That wasn't going to happen.

I didn't hide the presence of the TARDIS. Its arrival would be distracting; let it do just that. I opened the door and stomped out, alone, while behind me Liara and Katara remained to fulfill my instructions. I was clad in my combat suit with sonic disruptor in hand. I brought it up and used it as a voice amplifier. "Well," I said, my voice booming throughout the stadium. "I see I'm just in time for the festivities. So, let's pretend that I gave you a chance to give up and you said 'no' and get on with it, eh?"

"Time Lord." The Red King's eyes turned toward me. And I felt it. A powerful force slamming down on my mind. My body quivered in reaction, but I did not fall. Harry seemed to tremble a little; the Red King was shifting target to contain me. "Your arrival was anticipated. Now another enemy of the Red Court will fall this evening."

"Quite… impressive…" My voice was hoarse as I spoke in resistance to the psychic attack. "But not enough." I raised the sonic disruptor toward him and prepared to use the neural stun setting.

And then I was on my knees. Several more of the Lords of Outer Night turned their direction to me as well. Against that much power, I had to go down. It was like fighting the Borg Collective in my head again. But instead of a constant droning voice, it was just a few sources of will. Powerful, malignant will, all pressing down on me.

And then I scared them. I brought a foot up so I was only on one knee. Regardless of the pain in my head was starting to move the other leg to. Straightening the one so the other could also be brought up and I could be on my feet again.

This prompted another Lord of Outer Night to turn his direction toward me. That held me in place. I was facing the wills of at least six evil demi-gods of slaughter and bloodthirst. Even as Time Lord mind had its limits. I mean, given time I might have tired them out, or adjust, but for the moment their wills had me pinned down, while their compatriots fought to keep Harry and his allies contained.

All according to plan.

There was movement behind me. Harry had used the distraction to summon Bob from his skull. The spirit of intellect's power was giving him a cushion against the remaining power directed at him, allowing Harry to move again. And I knew just what he was going to do.

That's why I was ready when Karrin Murphy's voice boomed across the stadium.

Her voice range with an authority and power that wasn't quite Human. Indeed, I knew it wasn't even her's, but another speaking through her. "False gods! Pretenders! Usurpers of truth! Destroyers of faith, of families, of lives, of children! For your crimes against the Mayans, against the peoples of the world, now will you answer! Your time has come! Face judgment Almighty!"

I wasn't facing the bright light that came when Fidelacchius was pulled from its scabbard. The Holy Sword turned night into blinding day. In a single slash at the air, Murphy struck the Red King with the power of the Sword of Faith. He recoiled from the blow and let out a scream, his hands coming up to cover his eyes. His other hand pointed toward Murphy and screamed a command at his lieutenants. The gold-masked Lords all turned their attention on Murphy to bind her.

Harry set his hand down on her. I barely heard him urge Bob to protect her. The halo around his head shifted down as Bob moved over to protect Murphy. The white light of the sword permeated her, turning her clothing equally white. With Bob appearing as a halo, Murphy fit perfectly the image of an avenging angel sent to smite the wicked.

Which wasn't too far off from the truth, come to think of it.

The pressure was off me and the others now. I began to stand.

With a shout and a movement to stand, defying the power of all of the vampiric godlings to keep her restrained, Murphy slashed Fidelacchius in the open air once more.

The Lords recoiled as if struck. Several of them had their golden masks ripped right off.

Harry called out to me. "Doc, I hope you weren't just planning to come…"

Before he could finish that sentence, I played my hand. Namely, by raising my actual right and giving the thumbs up signal.

The head of the warrior holding the sacrificial dagger exploded.

So did the heads of three of the Lords of Outer Night. In one case a bolt of blue light appeared for a microsecond before the impact that claimed said Lord.

And in the earpiece hidden inside my right ear, several voices spoke, one after the other.

"Target down," reported Garrus Vakarian.

"Target down," added Gibbs. As in Agent Gibbs, of course. Yes, the American federal agent of retirement age. Amazing what specialized optics can do for faltering eyesight.

"Confirmed kill," stated the third sniper. Lieutenant Aric Jorgan, of the Galactic Republic's Army SpecForce Division, to be exact.

"I got mine," was the last one, out of place from the lack of military bluntness. But of course. Yoko Littner wasn't trained military like the other three snipers.

"Good job," I said. "Pick your targets as arranged."

Safely established with protective elements - including a few squads of Jorgan's fellows in SpecForce and attached regular platoons, General Garza owed me a few favors for saving that squad she nearly lost to the stupid decision to implant Rakata technology in them - the snipers rained fire down from their protected locations. I'd dropped them off first, taking advantage of the preoccupation the enemy had with Harry's duel with Duchess Arianna.



The Red King shrieked in rage, a bellowed order included that sent the forces of the Red Court packing the stadium directly at us with blood and fury in their eyes. Given his senses, I'm not surprised he ducked in time to avoid a shot - given the brief blur of blue, it was probably Jorgan's - that would instead kill the Red Court functionary behind him. He scooped up the dagger and started running with the other Lords. Two more of them went down to headshots before they got out of range.

Of course, that left us facing an advancing army of hundreds or even thousands of vampires and half-vampires in jaguar skins, not to mention the mortal mercenaries that were sure to be rushing in shortly. Given the sight of them, I was sure that this was larger than the one Harry and his force would have faced otherwise. And they were all bearing down on Murphy by the hundreds.

A good thing I brought my own army.

I snapped my fingers and the TARDIS door opened. The moment it did, a single rough voice called out, "There they are! Alright you little pyjaks, let's show 'em what you're made of!"

And with that a battering ram made of rampaging Krogan emerged, Urdnots Wrex and Grunt at the tip. Mass effect shotguns and assault rifles barked out as they closed the distance with the roaring Red Court vampires. Bat-like claw and fang went up against Krogan strength and armored hide. I heard Wrex's hearty laughter come from the middle of the fray, accompanied by the roar of his super-sized Claymore shotgun. A vampire promptly exploded into gooey bits. "It's good to be in a scrap again!", Wrex roared triumphantly. I thought I saw one vampire try to bite him, just for its fangs to catch on the armored flesh of his head's armored plate. He immediately fired his shotgun and literally blew the vampire to pieces. "I almost forgot how fun this was!"

Not to be outdone, Grunt shouted "I AM KROGAN!" while headbutting a vampire so hard its head was crushed by the impact.

As the Krogan broke the ranks of the vampire charge, the enemies to either side kept coming. To meet this, my Companions emerged from the TARDIS.

And they weren't alone.

A lone female figure in full-body combat gear nodded at Liara and turned back to the advancing vampires. She pulled a shotgun out from behind her back and started to run forward, blue energy gathering around her. There was a flare of biotic energy and a moment later the woman shot forward like she had been shot out of a cannon. Several vampires were thrown back by the waves of biotic power that came when she impacted their line. The head of one vampire exploded from having an N7 Crusader-model shotgun go off under his chin. The vampire behind that one took the butt of the shotgun to the face and another shot to the chest that blew his torso to chunks.

Commander Shepard herself had taken the field.

Liara plunged into battle alongside her, alternating between shots with her Locust and biotic bursts to coincide with Shepard's own waves of biotic power. It was astounding how coordinated they looked, especially given how long it had been - especially for Liara - since they had fought together.

And theirs weren't the only biotics flaring. "I'm going to fucking destroy you bastards!", screamed Jack as she unleashed her own immense biotic fury, added with her own fury at what had been done to little Maggie. Behind her Lieutenant T'Goni and several of her fellow Asari Commandos - courtesy of Matriarch Aethyta, who described herself as "too old for this sort of shit" when prompted - came out with guns blazing and biotics at the ready.

Besides them, a grizzled, scar-faced old soldier came out with an old M7 mass effect assault rifle in his arms, flanked by a couple of Humans and Turians with more recent armament of their home cosmos. "Alright, you God-amn beasts, I ain't afraid of you child-killin' bastards!" Zaeed Massani and his mercenary squad poured fire into the flank, taking care to not shoot their biotic-using allies.

With a press of the sonic screwdriver the TARDIS turned itself to present the door toward another side. There was an inhuman roar and another force started coming out of the exit. An unending flood of brown fur.

Harry hadn't made much of the Krogan, but I could see his eyes widen at the sight of a tide of Wookiees coming up on the enemy and one of the Krogan flanks. The TARDIS was starting to spin again when Harry finally got close enough to shout, "Holy crap, Doc! You brought Wookiees!?"

"Courtesy of Zaalbar," I answered. "He was most grateful when I helped him locate a few shipments of his people taken by slavers." I looked at Harry and grinned. "Would you have preferred Ewoks?"

"Oh, ha ha, very funny…" Harry lifted his blasting rod and shouted "Fuego!", setting fire to one (un)lucky vamp that got past our allied line as he (or she) fell dead before us in a splatter of black. Behind him I could see Molly pulling off her rave technique to slow and stun an entire segmentof the horde while Thomas Raith literally breakdanced around her, sword and submachine gun spinning in the process to cut down the enemy. They did this in support of Sanya and Murphy, busy as they were hacking their way through jaguar warriors with their holy swords. Sanya's Esperacchius resembled a cavalry saber compared to Murphy's Fidelacchius as Japanese katana, creating an interesting diversity in the swordplay. "I just hope it's enough…"

A massive bolt of light purple energy in the form of an arrow flew out beside Jack and blew up into multiple smaller arrows in the midst of a group of jaguar warriors, taking them all down. Homura jumped into the air, somersaulted, and fired another rain of magic energy arrows down on our weak side to further stymie the enemy. In the resulting hole in the Red Court lines, Sayaka and Kyoko dashed in, saber and spear swinging, and soon it was limbs and dark blood flying from the hordes of the Red Court. The thunder of magic flintlocks told me Mami was engaging from near the TARDIS entrance, providing support fire.

"The girls from Mitakihara?", Harry asked me.

"Madoka couldn't come, her power is limited to her home cosmos," I confirmed. "And Nagisa… isn't really of the right mental age for this fight, I thought. But the rest… you helped save their city, after all. Given the stakes…"

For a moment, I thought Harry would fully tear up. His voice was hoarse with emotion when he said, "Thanks, Doc. Thanks for coming."

"Don't thank me yet, Harry," I replied. "We haven't gotten Maggie out." The image popped in my head. Harry holding his dead little girl. I couldn't let that come to pass. To try some levity, I said, "You look ridiculous. Like a bloody game character."

"Thank my fairy godmother," Harry sighed.... after which his face turned tense and he shouted "Down!" I dropped, bringing my sonic disruptor over, but I was too slow to hit the vampire before it slammed into Dresden. I blasted a couple off him, but it was clear that more were getting in by the moment, and Harry was flat on his back and seconds away from getting his head ripped off.

There was a blur then. An object slammed into one vampire so hard that it probably cracked the creature's skull. The object ricocheted off, slammed into another of the vampires overwhelming us, and then a third, before flying into mid-air and being caught by its owner before he landed and slammed his weapon into the face of the other vampire trying to tear Harry apart. I used the attack to send our other attackers to the ground with a specially-keyed sonic emission that the Red Court was vulnerable to.

Despite everything, it was amusing to see how wide Harry's eyes went when he looked up at his rescuer. A red glove came down to offer him aid. "C...C...Cap?!"

"Come on, Mister Dresden," answered Captain Steve Rogers. His shield and uniform were already splattered with the ichor of the Red Court. "Let's go get your little girl."

The mention of Maggie focused Harry's thoughts. He took Cap's hand and accepted the super-soldier's help in pulling him up. Cap looked around and nodded in a direction. "The young lady with the lights is getting flanked," he said. "Let's go."

And like that, Captain America charged once more into the fray, coming to the aid of Molly's weak side.

Harry stared at me with complete surprise on his features. "You recruited Captain America?!"

"This is a war," I pointed out. "I needed soldiers. He's one of the best."

"I think I could kiss you right now."

"Oi, Harry, and what would Mrs. Spunkelcrief say?!"

But now was not the time for witty banter. The battle was still raging furiously about us. There was a roar as Mouse leaped in to help Thomas protect Molly's front while Katara was protecting her opposite flank with shards of ice, all four working to keep the numbers from becoming too much for Murphy and Sanya. I set the sonic to wide kinetic dispersal and joined Harry in the fight. I had to keep moving, spinning about and sending kinetic blast after kinetic blast into their ranks while my sonic screwdriver stunned any that got too close with sonic shrieking that debilitated them.

Despite everything, there were so many of them....

"Dresden! Doctor!" Martin ran up to us, turning back to fire a burst from his gun into a half-vampire jaguar warrior trying to pursue him. A second took a magic bullet in the head from Mami Tomoe and fell as well. "Look!"

We turned to follow Martin's hand. The Red King and the Lords of Outer Night - the eight of them left, anyway - were standing in a circle, while what looked to be other Red Court sorcerers and sorceresses were creating magic fields strong enough to repel the sniper fire from my sniper teams. I could feel the gathering energy in the air.

And, just to make things worse, some of the mortal mercenaries working for the Red Court began to fill the stands of the stadium. Once they were in formation, they'd pour fire into us. From high ground.

Harry called out "Lea!" With his attention diverted to dealing with his fairy godmother, I had a moment to get closer to Martin. He asked, "So what is your plan?"

"Monterro's in the TARDIS," I answered. "We retrieve him now, if we hurry I can have us at the altar before the Red King realizes it."

"Right." Martin unloaded a clip into a vampire that got too close. I followed up with a kinetic blast that threw another one away from his back. "Lead the way."

As we fought our way back to the TARDIS and Zaeed, the Leanansidhe dealt with the reinforcements... by summoning more of our own. A green emerald flew into the sky, where it shattered, creating lightning that grew in intensity until twelve distinct flashes struck the ground. From those flashes came twelve figures in grey robes.

The Grey Council.

One of them - Ebenezar McCoy, I was certain - smacked his staff on the ground and thundered, "Remember Archangel!" The tip of his oaken staff pointed toward the Red King and his lieutenants.

Force, massive force, simply came from McCoy and slammed into the structure of the old Mayan stadium. The field that had been thwarting the snipers simply collapsed from the sheer strength of the blast. Stone screamed and disintegrated. The Red King and his Lords went flying into the night air from the sheer shock of the impact.

The fighting stopped. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, stared in surprise at the devastation wrought by a single senior wizard of the White Council.

This is why I try not to provoke them, kids. Maybe tweak their noses a bit. But never provoke. Wizards of Harry's cosmos are frightening with the amount of power they can unleash. The older they are, the scarier they are.

Harry let out a primal scream of joy. The Krogan and Wookiees took it up and went back on the attack,pushing the vampires back further.

By this time we made it to the TARDIS. Zaeed looked at me. "Gettin' your God-amn money's worth, aren't you Doctor?"

"That I am, Mister Massani," I replied. "Bring your men in. I'll need you on watch."

"Right."

Zaeed whistled and his mercenaries stepped into the TARDIS behind myself and Martin. I went to the controls. Nearby was Monterro, still knocked out cold from the last tranquilizers we'd given him. I mused that it would be a more merciful death than a man like him probably deserved, given all of the suffering he had wrought for his masters.

I reproached myself for that thought. That's not how I should think. I was just trying to justify the killing I was about to assist in. "Just a quick tweak...." I changed a few coordinate lines and reached for the activation lever.

But nothing happened.

I frowned. And I checked things again. Then I pulled the screen over. "Oh, you bastards," I growled.

"What?", Martin asked.

"The Red Court. They're having sorcerers on the property utilize the ley line currents that run through Chichen Itza to put up some form of dampening field. I'm not sure how, but it's keeping my TARDIS from dematerializing." I reached for the flight controls. "Fine, we'll go directly."

I lifted the TARDIS into the air and pulled it up over the stadium. Underneath us, I imagined Ebenezar McCoy had pulled out the Blackstaff. The black magic artifact that let him be the assassin for the White Council without corrupting his own soul. And soon the kenku would be brought in from the Nevernever, giving our side another boost in reinforcements.

But that wasn't the important part.

The important part was getting Martin and Monterro to the top of the main pyramid and fulfilling our plan. Before the Red King and his Lords showed up.

We started to move toward the temple.

And that was when the TARDIS was abruptly jolted by a powerful strike of energy. Several. The consoles began sparking and I found that some force was trying to compel us to land.

The Lords and the Red King. It had to be.

"Bloody hell," I swore. "So much for that plan." I started playing with the controls while speaking into the radio receiver in my lapel. "Snipers, our fellows who used to be in gold masks. I need support."

"Sorry Doctor," Garrus apologized. "But our nests are under fire. It's everything we can do..." I heard his sniper rifle fire. "...to keep those troops you gave us from getting overwhelmed."

Bloody hell, I repeated again, in my head this time.

Another console sparked. They were pulling on the TARDIS. Undoubtedly aided by the ley lines and whatever other energies they had at their disposal.

I had no choice. I had to land.

I looked up at Martin and Zaeed. "Gentlemen, I'm afraid our plans have to change."

"Ain't that always the God-amned truth?", Zaeed muttered.

"We go on foot," I answered.

Of course, that meant having to fight through probably another army of vampire and half-vampire jaguar warriors to get there.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-21 05:49pm

So, plans went awry. Again.

Zaeed and his mercenaries started shooting as soon as they stepped out of the TARDIS. Martin joined them and I came out last, pulling along the unconscious Monterro. The bodies of dead Red Court jaguar warriors were around us. From here it wasn't far to the main pyramid, where Maggie was being held beside the altar on which she was to be killed.

Harry and a body of the others were coming up to meet us. Behind them, fighting was still raging in the court. Molly, Thomas, and Mouse were not among them. "Molly?", I asked.

"Hurt. Bad. Stray round." Harry swallowed. "Thomas and Mouse are guarding her."

I put a finger on my lapel. "Jorgan, as soon as you can, I need Sergeant Dorne in the court. Wounded girl."

"We'll do what we can."

"Right." I took stock of who was with Harry. Murphy and Sanya, covered in slight wounds and Red Court blood, were standing with him. Katara and Liara of course, and Cap, Shepard, Jack, and several of the Krogans led by Wrex.

And between us and the pyramid? Another bloody army.

Harry noticed my prisoner. "Who's that?", he asked.

"Red Court account manager," I answered. "Senor Monterro provided me with the data that told me I'd need this army. And I have something in mind for him, but we need to get to the altar and Maggie."

"Right." Harry drew in a breath and walked beside me, a new staff in hand. He still looked completely ridiculous in that getup. "Hey, look."

We did so. On the other side of the army, on the fifth level of the pyramid, was one of the surviving Lords of Outer Night who still had a mask. "There," Harry said. "We take him out, I think these guys will break."

Murphy nodded. And then she let out a yell that could stun a mob, raised Fidelacchius, and charged into the Red Court forces like a swimmer rushing eagerly into an ocean wave.

Sanya laughed. "Tiny, but fierce!"

Wrex added his own laugh. "I like her! She reminds me of you, Shepard."

Shepard replied to that with an amused smirk before turning to the horde. And then boom. One biotic charge and a half-dozen flying jaguar warriors later, she was in the thick of the fighting and keeping vampires off of Murphy's right side. Wrex laughed as he followed her in with the rest of his Krogan. Sanya joined them, Esperacchius shining as he plunged heartily into the horde and pursued Murphy.

"You're all insane," Harry shouted at them.

"Don't be such a pussy, limp dick!", retorted Jack before she ran in, blasting away entire groups of jaguar warriors with her biotics.

"Well…" I shrugged and looked at Harry. "When in Rome…"

The rest of us charged in.

Harry was right. We were insane. Here we were, twenty or so when you counted the Krogan and Zaeed's squad, and there were hundreds of vampires and half-vampires between us and the pyramid, with a Lord of the Outer Night leading and empowering them.

And we were charging them like they were nothing.

But we had advantages in that. The sheer power we held, for instance. The vampires forced to recoil from the power of the Holy Swords before they were cut down anyway. Biotic energy flaring and sending the vampires flying, rendering them helpless before they were blown away by Wrex and the Krogan.

And while they had not worked with each other before, everyone in this group knew their business, and by instinct they worked well together.

I saw Cap throw his shield, catch a vampire about to take Sanya's head off, and then slam into two more when it reached his arm again. Shepard came up on his back and fired her shotgun directly into the blood reservoir of an attacking vampire. Her fist flared with biotic energy a moment before she slammed it into another jaguar warrior with enough force to snap his jaw and cause an inhuman shriek. She twisted away from a swipe at her head, and the attacker instead took Cap's shield into the side of his head. Cap and Shepard swiveled positions and freed Shepard to plunge ahead again with a biotic charge that knocked away another half-dozen jaguar warriors before they could hit Sanya's weak side. Wrex came charging up behind her and blew apart one jaguar warrior with a shotgun blast. Not to be outdone, Cap jumped on top of Wrex and threw his shield out again. It ricocheted off several vampires, during which Cap had jumped off Wrex and smashed the face of a vampire coming at Murphy's side with a punch, and when he caught his shield he immediately launched into a spinning move that delivered a punishing blow to the face of a second warrior. He ducked and rolled, opening up the vampires in front of him to get cut down by Murphy's slashing blade. The vampires before them were then blown away by an exploding fireball thrown by Harry. Sanya and Jack rushed into the gap, sword and biotics lighting the way, and more vampires and half-vampires fell. The vampire ranks tried to fill that gap and were blown away by another biotic charge from Shepard. Liara caught several of them with a singularity that trapped them in mid-air, making them sitting ducks for Jack to blast away with additional biotics.

And that was just ahead of us. On the sides, Krogans roared as they shot or smashed vampires to death. Ice shards flew out and impaled the limbs of several of the vampires, all from Katara. Katara's arms whipped around, trailing streams of water from the bottles at her waist, and the water was congealed into something forceful enough to hit with a thunk whenever she slammed the "water tentacle" into a foe. Kyoko and Sayaka - having barreled their way through the enemy to catch up to us - flew into view and turned about, back to back, saber and spear dismembering jaguar warrior after jaguar warrior, vampire or half-vampire. They drew close enough to the front that Sayaka briefly took up position behind Sanya, their sabers looking quite similar save for Esperacchius' customary light as they slashed through limb and torso belonging to the beings of the Red Court.

From behind, Zaeed and his troops were maintaining continuous fire into the enemy behind us, protecting our rear, while Homura and Mami provided supporting fire that kept the enemy off their sides.

See what I mean?

And all the while, we drew closer.

As for what I was doing? All I could do, which was lug along the sedated half-vampire that was going to make my plan possible while Martin gunned down any enemy that managed to get past the effective barrier posed by my allies and Companions.

When we were close enough the Lord of Outer Night lashed out with his will. Invisible force seemed to ripple in the air around us and drove Harry and Sanya to a stop. Cap took a few more feet before going down to a knee, although he looked ready to keep going.

But it did nothing to Murphy.

She kept going up the stairs, the halo that was Bob glowing ever brighter around her head. She bobbed and weaved to avoid the sorcery thrown toward her. The shots instead deflected off of Cap's shield, keeping Harry and Sanya from getting hit.

Without stopping, she struck down the Lord of Outer Night, slicing right through his head with Fidelacchius. Silver fire burned and soon engulfed the dead creature, leaving nothing but ash and a smear mark.

But we still had enemies coming up behind us. Harry and I looked back and surveyed the fight back at the ball court, where the kenku and Grey Council were still fighting, and the ones around the other structures that had been used as guard towers and which my sniper teams had taken for themselves. I could even see the distant green and blue bolts of blaster fire from the Republic units - and one particular battle droid that I thought I could even now hear berating the Red Court as "enemies of the Republic!".

The sheer size of the Red Court's forces, mercenary and jaguar warrior, could still overwhelm us in time. I heard Harry curse. He'd seen the same thing.

I cursed too. If only I'd had more time. Time to bring in other allies.

A shout from Murphy jolted me back to attention. "Harry, go!", she shouted. "We'll hold them!"

Harry took off, rushing up the stairs and toward the altar at the top. And his daughter.

We took up places around the fifth level, using the narrower ledging to hold the line. Mami and Homura on one end and Zaeed and his mercenaries on the other to watch our flanks. Everyone else kept up the fight on the stairs, sending jaguar warrior after jaguar warrior down in defeat, half-breed and full vampire alike. Back toward the court the Grey Council and our sniper teams with their guards were still locked into ferocious battle with the other forces brought by the Red Court, occupying their sorcerers and forcing them to divide their massive force and keeping us from being completely overrun by sheer numbers.

This was indeed a war. And it was a war that could still go either way.

I drew in a breath. It was time. Time to implement my plan, while Harry would be occupying the attention of the Red King and the half dozen or so Lords of Outer Night still alive. I looked to Martin and nodded. We would have to get him a little closer before we began. Just to make sure.

He nodded back. He was rather calm for a man who expected to get his throat cut in the next ten minutes.

I started to go up the stairs with my prisoner still slung over my shoulder.

I felt a sudden shifting of weight on my shoulder. I began to shift to adjust when an elbow smacked into my head. Pain exploded in my skull and I went down, dropping Monterro in the process.

He hit the ground, turned, and broke the restraints on his wrists. An impressive feat given the metal they were made of. I darkly wondered if he'd been wearing them down when nobody was looking. Oh well, no time for that now...

An inhuman roar came from Monterro's throat and he lunged at me as I struggled to get my sonic disruptor out. He sent me sprawling away from the stairs and pinned me to the ground. Teeth snapped at me as he tried to sink them into my face. I turned away and did everything I could to avoid getting any of the narcotic saliva on my skin. I'd administered the counter-agent I'd made for the saliva already, but a big enough dose could still impede my mental functions at a time I needed clarity.

As a Time Lord I'm stronger than a Human being. But even half-vampires are inhumanly strong, so long as they don't mind calling upon the energies that require they feed. Monterro had leverage on me in our current position. I had to change this.

I shifted a leg, then the other, and put everything i had in twisting his weight off of me. This earned me a punch to the ribs. He growled at me. "I'll have your blood for this! And then I'll ascend!"

I shifted my arm slightly and freed that arm below the elbow enough to get my sonic screwdriver pointed toward Monterro. He wasn't as susceptible to the sonic setting I used on full vampires, but as he was mortal he was still quite susceptible to some of my tricks. A sonic pulse into his ear lobe drew a pained scream from Monterro that weakened him and let me slip out from under him.

Unfortunately, he recovered more quickly than I thought he would. He grabbed me as I tried to get up and dragged me back down. Even worse, he had me in a worse position before, with an arm locked around my neck. I gasped for air as the crushing pain cut off my windpipe. I raised my arm to use the sonic screwdriver on Monterro. But he was too fast. He swatted it out of my hand with ease. "Don't struggle," he insisted. While his arms kept me pinned I saw his shadow loom. A droplet of liquid touched my bare neck and I felt a tingle there.

He was going to kill me.

And then the sharp and painfully familiar sound of a Carnifex came to my ear. I'd heard it before, of course. I'd been bloody shot with one.

Monterro's head exploded.

His arm loosened for the moment and I doubled over, gasping for breath. When I looked up, I saw Liara was looking at me. She'd swapped to her Carnifex pistol, which was still in her hand. "Are you alright?"

I nodded instinctively before my eyes widened in realization. "Wait… no." In horror I looked over to where Monterro had fallen. I scrambled for the sonic screwdiver as I ran over, but I didn't need a scan to tell me what the Carnifex had done to his skull.

He was dead.

I looked back to the stairs. Martin was staring at us with a resigned look on his face. "Sorry, Doctor," he said. He started ascending the stairs. "One way or another, this ends tonight."

"Wait, no!", I shouted. "Martin, there are plenty of others here, let me get a replacement! Don't do this!"

He didn't stop. "You and I both know how unlikely that is," he replied over his shoulder while taking another step.

Heaven help me, I almost blasted him with the sonic disruptor right there. As foolish and stupid as that would have been, I still almost did.

Because I didn't care how unlikely it was. What I cared about was the little girl who was going to lose her mother. What I cared about was the good friend who was going to have to kill the woman he had wanted to share his life with.

What I cared about was that Susan Rodriguez didn't deserve to die. Not here. Not like this.

In my anger I turned to Liara and shouted, "Look what you've done!"

Liara stared at me for a moment. A flash of irritation at ingratitude came to her face, but she relented from saying anything about. "I did what I had to," she finally answered. "I'm sorry."

Horror and anger coiled within me so strongly that I wanted to scream. I wanted to berate her for what she had done. For shooting Monterro fatally without trying something else. And yes, I know. She had just probably saved my life. But I couldn't help the feelings I had.

Before I could give vent to that, Murphy's voice rang out. "We need everyone, now!"

The jaguar warriors, perhaps emboldened by what Monterro had done, or perhaps in psionic connection with the Red King, had gathered for a renewed charge. Liara and I raced into formation with the others. Her biotics flared up and that Carnifex barked again and again, after which she swapped it out for the Locust. My sonics alternated; the sonic screwdriver allowed me to debilitate Reds that got close enough, the disruptor let me protect my allies on their weak side.

Above the roar of the combat, I heard a scream of rage from the top of the pyramid.

I knew where it had come from.

And I knew I had failed.

As by his plan, Martin had just confessed the truth to Susan. That he had told the Red Court where to find Maggie and who her father was. That he was responsible for the fact her little girl was going to die. And she had lost her mind to rage and ripped his throat out. She had killed another mortal being and taken of his blood, and due to her nature this meant her human half would be gone. She was one of them now.

Which meant that Susan was going to be the new Red Court vampire that would be sacrificed on the altar.

I felt the familiar congealment in space-time at the edge of my senses. A Fixed Point in Time was coming into form. The course was set. Susan Rodriguez had to die.

Tears flowed down my face. It had all been for nothing, hadn't it? All of this planning and preparation and soul-searching, my endless struggle within myself on what I should and shouldn't do, and it didn't matter. I hadn't changed history. I'd only shuffled a few pieces.

I realized I needed to get up there. I said so.

"I want to go help Harry too," Murphy insisted, "but we're a little busy here!"

She was right. I couldn't leave the line, as much as I wanted to. I held the sonic disruptor out to keep a jaguar warrior from sinking vampire claws into Shepard and gave her the opening to blast the offender back. I moved the deflector screen partially to protect myself from the hammer blows of another until Liara shot it in the head.

Cap's shield sliced across my vision, bounced off one vampire's head, and was promptly grabbed by Sayaka, who used it for a moment in its more obvious application by blocking a swipe from a slavering full vampire before she buried her saber into the torso of the vamp. She twisted in mid-air, slashed up another to send it flying back down the pyramid, and then threw the shield back at Cap as he jumped to intercept a vampire trying to get on top of Murphy and Sanya. He kicked the vampire down, grabbed the shield in mid-air, and threw it down the stairs with enough force to catch four of the vampires, bang bang bang, before it bounced back to him now that he was on the ground.

As I looked out at the gathering slaughter around us, I thought of how there had to be some way to…

There were bursts of biotic power along the flanks of the vampires, compressing them inward as they took losses while coming up the stairs on our right flank. More mass effect weapon fire echoed and came from that direction. I took a glance and saw Zaeed and the others changing their targets, no longer focusing on the stairs. "Our Asari friends are here, Doctor!", Zaeed called out.

That meant Lieutenant T'Goni and her squad of Asari Commandos.

But they weren't alone.

There were other Asari coming with them, carrying weapons of their own and fighting with even greater ferocity than the Commandos. The two groups came along the fourth level, blasting through the ranks of the jaguar warriors with mass effect weaponry and biotics, until they were close enough to jump up to our level with biotics. The trail of destruction they left had further thinned the enemy ranks. There were so many corpses that the attack was slackening from the need to roll the dead down the sides of the pyramid. The vampires were focusing on regrouping now.

One among the second group of Asari stepped forward with T'Goni . The latter was bruised and wounded already, but still standing. I pulled out of the line briefly and looked to them. She saluted. "Doctor. We saw you needed reinforcements."

"Indeed," said the other Asari, an older one. "Our mission was a success, Doctor. The prisoners have been freed and instructed on where to run."

"Thank you, Samara," I replied. "And thank you for the prompt arrival."

T'Goni looked at her with respect. "We never could have fought through if we hadn't met up with the Justicars."

"You fought well, Lieutenant, I cannot take that from you."

Sounds of fighting were coming from the top of the pyramid now. Blasts of energy, magic. The Leanansidhe, I figured. Always leave it to the Fae to go for the sneaky approach.

I looked that way and then toward the gathering army of the Red Court. They were letting off only for the moment, clearing the dead for a big push. Most of our side had stopped firing simply to exchange overheated heat clips or otherwise reload or take a breather; they would be taxed when the push came.

"I can see what you must do, Doctor," Samara said. "Go to your friend. My Justicars and the Commandos will stay here and help everyone wage a fighting retreat up the pyramid."

"Thank you, I breathed." I gave them a final nod and started to run up the stairs.

As I got to the final steps, an inhuman scream came from the pyramid, one of the loudest I'd ever heard. Similar screeches of rage erupted from below.

The Red Court's army surged up the pyramid again, driven by what looked to be crazed ferocity. They were being drawn to their King.

Harry was winning.

So I picked up the pace and got to the top. I entered the temple through that door.

Martin was dead, and obviously so, lying on the ground with a bloody gap where his throat used to be. Susan was writhing on the ground nearby, her skin bulging and rippling and fingernails lengthening as her body transformed into that of a Red Court vampire. Amoracchius, the Sword that had once been Michael Carpenter's, lay still beside her. And the Leanansidhe was tearing through what was left of the Lords of Outer Night.

As for Harry? He was busy snapping the arm off of the Red King.

As quickly as I could I brought the sonic disruptor to bear on one of the remaining Lords of Outer Night. For all their power, a surprise attack could still work wonders, especially if it's from setting I normally used to disrupt energy beings. The Lord screeched and fell, momentarily stunned, and a shot from Liara finished him off. Shepard charged another of the Lords and sent that one flying, although he - or she? - recovered quickly enough to throw Shepard backward. Katara came in and faced down a third.

I watched Harry finish taking down the Red King, and I walked on.

There was only one more thing I could do for Harry this night.

Another foe, a servant I thought, interceded, and I had to take a moment to evade a couple of attacks before I simply whacked the creature in the side of the head with the sonic disruptor. He fell to the ground in a stupor. I'd hit him so hard the disruptor's housing was dented. I'm quite surprised I didn't break his skull.

Several more steps and I was where I needed to be. The smell of old blood offended my nostrils. The altar before me was caked in it. The remains of all of the victims of the night's sacrifices, including one young woman who'd had the blade driven into her face as the means of killing her.

I felt a shudder at the entire thing and what it stood for. Lives snuffed out. Destroyed in the name of further destruction. All to sate the needs of a race that fed on sapient beings and treated them like cattle.

I'd told Samara what would happen tonight. I felt it right to be honest with her, to see if it would still conflict with the Justicar Code and to release her from joining us if she and her sister Justicars deemed it unacceptable.

And I'd told her what the Red Court was. What they did. The lives they took and they destroyed.

Samara's reply, and that of the others, was that if Harry or I didn't do it, she or another of her fellow Justicars would. That the Code demanded the complete obliteration of the Red Court for the scale of their horrific crimes.

Her certitude about the rightness of that, about the sheer evil of the Red Court, was more clear to me now than ever before. All of these poor dead people. All of those destroyed dreams.

This had to stop. The Red Court had to end. I was more than ready to see them destroyed.

But at the cost of an innocent life? That was what I was uncertain of.

Speaking of innocent lives. For the first time I saw Maggie Dresden. The poor girl should have been adorable, but as messy and scuffed up as she was in her torn dress, it was enough to break my hearts. And that wasn't counting how her face was locked into the rictus of terror that should never appear on a child. I put away the sonic disruptor and used the sonic to unlock the chain holding her to the altar. even as she whimpered in terror.

I reached down and gently lifted Maggie into my arms. Just contacting the altar like that made my hairs stand on end. The energy wasn't like anything I had felt before. Hot like blood and cold like death, oily and just malicious. This was the energy of a death curse, waiting to slaughter untold numbers of beings.

"It's alright. You're safe," I said in my attempt to re-assure her. I brought Maggie up and shifted her to hold her in one arm. Her little legs dangled from below the knees that were supported by my hand

A shadow fell over the altar. I looked up a bit as Harry laid Susan upon it. There were tears in his eyes and in hers. Her skin seemed to be tearing under the stress of the monstrous form starting to grow within her Human body. She was in horrible pain as her Humanity was literally being ripped from her being. From what had once been her soul.

Her eyes, growing black, focused on Maggie. She seemed to calm. The sight of her daughter reminded her of what she was about to die for.

The obsidian knife was in Harry's hand, recovered from the shattered arm of the Red King himself. The knife meant for Maggie. But now it would be Susan's throat cut open. Cut open by the man she had loved. The man with whom she had brought the darling child on my arm into this world. All to destroy the monsters threatening her daughter's life.

I had tried to save her.

I wanted to save her still.

I felt it. The Fixed Point was formed around us. History itself had rendered its verdict and even I, a Time Lord, could not change it now.

But there was one thing I could still change. A little mercy for my friend and a horrible burden for myself.

I reached out with my free hand and grabbed Harry's wrist. "Harry," I said softly. "Wait."

"No time," he answered. His voice was subdued. In pain.

From beyond, his words were proven quite accurate. Murphy cried out, "Harry! They're coming! They're coming and we can't stop them!"

Cap's voice rang just as loudly. "Everyone, stand firm! We can hold them!" But I could sense the desperation in it. They couldn't hold out for much longer. They were being overwhelmed.

I swallowed and shifted to hold Maggie toward him. "Let me do it," I said. My throat was dry as I spoke. "Take your little girl, Harry. I'll do it."

He looked at me and I could see the temptation. He wouldn't have to be the one with the knife. He wouldn't have to kill his daughter's mother. He wouldn't have to fear that she would hate him for what had to be done. He already had the guilt of the idea on his heart and soul, why add the act too?

Harry's eyes fell on his daughter, who was barely conscious of what was going on. Such was the state the fear left her in. And then he looked at Susan.

"It doesn't have to be you," I urged him. "Give me the knife. It'll be me. Susan's blood will be on my hands, not yours."

He looked up at me. And I looked at him.

We had always been careful about this. Especially given our similar height. We had never let our eyes meet before, not directly. Some close misses, certainly, but we'd always broken eye contact before it was too late.

Because when you look into the eyes of a wizard like Harry, it's not the same as another person. As the saying goes, eyes are the windows to the soul, and in the case of a wizard of this cosmos, that saying was quite literal to practitioners of magic. If you met eyes with one, whether you used magic or not, you could initiate a soulgaze. The barriers between you and the other person would fall and you would get a look at who they truly were. What was inside of them, if you will. And they would get to see the same of you.

And the memory was etched into your own being. You could never forget a soulgaze.

I'd only soulgazed once before. A poor orphaned boy named Dustin had been using some magic - necromancy - to try and keep his brain-dead brother Lonny alive. I would never forget it. Never. I would never forget the heartbreak of a child who, bit by bit, had lost everything in his life until no hope remained. A boy who had thrown himself onto the sword of Donald Morgan because he wanted his family back more than he wanted to live.

Time Lord memories are as persistent as wizard memories, it seems.

This is why Harry and I had always been careful never to soulgaze.

But here in Chichen Itza, in the middle of furious battle, with our friends and allies' lives in danger… the time had apparently come.

I looked into his brown eyes without flinching away.

He didn't flinch either.

And the soulgaze began.




It's.... very difficult to describe this kind of thing. Soulgazes, from what I know, can be very different depending on both yourself and whom you are gazing into. Sometimes you get memories. Sometimes imagery showing how the soul developed. It could be anything.

With Harry, it wasn't so much imagery as... feeling. I could feel the warmth of his spirit, the fire in his heart, and now, the numbing cold of the Winter mantle that had been placed upon him.

I could feel pain. Loss. Yearning. Bits of memory about a man long dead.

Malcolm Dresden. His father.

Harry had never known his mother. He'd never attained an attachment to a maternal figure, and its loss had not left its mark on him. But his father had died when he was old enough to feel the loss. A child's pain, long scarred over, at that.

And from there other sensations. I felt the emotions of his time as an orphan, going between orphanages, and the beginning of his need for a family.

Elation. Acceptance.

Justin DuMorne.

The first pangs of uncertainty and anxiety from a young Human boy in puberty, and the soaring spirit when it becomes something.

Elaine Mallory.

Then the darkness. More pain. Betrayal. Disbelief. Rage.

Agony. The Leanansidhe's early "lessons" to him.

A burning body. Justin DuMorne's death. The loss of Elaine. Darkness permanently grafted into the wounded soul of a teenage boy who, in terror for his life, believed with his whole heart he had the right to burn another man alive, not realizing that he was leaving a permanent stain on his soul. Not able to foresee the prejudice that would be laid upon him.

Terror at the Grey Cloaks. The strange voices speaking in a language he could not fathom.

And then it abated. It became replaced with more certainty. Understanding. Reflection. Ebenezar McCoy's tutelage until Harry was of adult age.

I followed the sensations down Harry's life. The feelings that others had left planted within him. Respect for Nick Angel, who had mentored him as a private investigator who searched for lost children. The trust and bond with Murphy. The lost love with Susan. Warm regard for Michael Carpenter. The special bond only siblings could have as Thomas Raith's parentage intertwined their destinies.

Affection for Molly. Camaraderie with William, Georgia, and the other Alphas.

Harry had been alone as a child, and so as an adult, much of his feelings could be found in his bonds with others.

But there was more. I felt myself go underneath that to the core beneath the feelings. The wounded soul, blackened in one corner from his brush with magical corruption. Another mote frozen, showing the presence of the freshly-laid Winter Mantle. And within it....

Iron.

Steel.

The strongest steel.

The feelings there were determination. Stubbornness. Courage. A refusal to yield to the dark things that took the lives of others. I felt, more than I ever had, the belief anchored in the soul of Harry Dresden. The belief in the power and gift that was magic, and how it should be used. Magic as the forces of creation, made manifest by the will of the wizard wielding it, and directed towards the right causes. To aid. To create. To protect.

And all at a cost. Few would ever know what this man did. How many times he had been hurt, how many times he had nearly died, to protect and defend the blind from the threats that lurked in the shadows they doggedly ignored. They did not appreciate him. They did worse, in fact. His world denied what he really was. His world mocked him, pitied him, abhorred him. Con artist. Crank. Witch. Satan worshiper.

And among his own kind, tolerance was not to be found either. Warlock was the word from them. Killer. Black Magic user.

But as much as it might hurt, it didn't change what was here. Nothing could. Criminals. Vampires. Fallen Angels. Monsters. Demons. Faeries. Gods. Harry would stand up to them all and spit in their eye if they dared to threaten an innocent. He would resist whatever must be resisted, no matter how powerful, how indomitable, or even how inevitable.

And if there was to be a cost for this? Any cost to be paid... then he would pay it. Though the cost was his life, he would. Or if it were even worse. It didn't matter; if it had to be done, it had to be done.

Because that is who he is.

That is what Harry Dresden is.

And he... is, if you will, in such a way that the power of it could overwhelm.

The smell of blood was on my nostrils again. I forced myself to take in a breath.

"They're breaking through!", I heard Katara shout.

"I've got them!," Liara replied.

Harry and I stared at each other for a moment. He was regaining his breath. "W... wow," Harry managed. He swallowed. "Well."

And that was all that needed to be said.

We each understood each other now, on a level we never had before.

I knew what I had to do.

I took my hand off of his wrist.

"It needs to be me," Harry said. "Susan deserves that much."

I nodded. I knew he didn't want to do it. He knew he didn't want to do it.

But he wasn't going to force me to take the burden of his choice.

He had been the one to give the idea to Susan. He would be the one to bear the burden of what happened to her.

Wordlessly, I turned away. I laid Maggie out in my arms and ensured she would not see what came next.

Harry and Susan said their goodbyes. I heard their lips touch. I heard Harry sob.

I heard the soft noise that came from Susan's throat in her final seconds. It was faint, more a movement of lips than an exhalation. But I could still make out what she had said. "Maggie."

And then I heard the pained gurgling that came when someone's throat was cut open.

Energy surged around us. Dark and malevolent. The forces of pitiless destruction.

But instead of being directed against the Red Court's enemies, they were now directed at the Red Court itself. And it would be their doom.

I held Maggie against my chest so she wouldn't have to see the additional blood and mangled bodies that came as a result of the bloodline curse.

We had done it.

The Red Court was destroyed.

Maggie Dresden was safe.

And maybe, just maybe, one day I'll find a way to make it up to her for failing to save her mother.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-23 06:17pm

I left Harry with his daughter. With the mission complete and the battle winding down, I needed to handle my own side of things.

I returned to the ball court, where Katara and the other medics were going through the wounded. I walked up to where Thomas and Mouse were sitting. Molly was unconscious between them and being treated by a woman in the armor of a Republic soldier, with sandy blond hair pulled back into a severe bun. When she was done inspecting Molly she looked up at me and saluted. "Sir."

Thomas made a face. I shook my head. "That's.. that's quite alright, Sergeant Dorne. I'm not to be saluted at. Or called 'sir'."

"Respectfully, sir, by regulations we are indeed required to, under Republic Army standing orders regarding temporary transfer of command to allied forces," Dorne answered. "However, if you insist, Doctor..."

"How is she?" I looked down at Molly.

"The wound caused severe damage to her leg. I've stabilized her for the moment, so she should be fine. I would recommend time in a kolto tank to ensure full healing, sir... Doctor."

"Right." I'd have Katara deal with it later. Quicker than a kolto tank. Less likely to cause... issues. Although it was unfortunate neither would deal with the real wound to Molly; her psyche. "Everyone else?"

"The Major instructed me to issue you the after action report, Doctor. I haven't had time to write it down, so..."

"...a verbal report will be fine," I confirmed.

"Havoc Squad casualties were limited to minor injuries to Specialist Vik and Sergeant Jaxo," Dorne answered. "Several other squads and the ranger platoons suffered wounding, mostly. One death from one of the... enemy managing to get to the throat of the deceased." Dorne seemed to shudder. "The Wookiees have many wounded. Four fatalities. And these... 'Krogan' you brought with you have suffered about as many wounded and two known fatalities. Allied forces indigenous to this... world... suffered no losses among the grey-robed individuals, although many of these 'kenku' were also lost. I am happy to report the near-complete destruction of the foes wearing the animal skins and the rout of the other forces. The mission was a complete success."

"Yes. Very good." The word 'success' made me feel cold.

I shouldn't have felt this way. I'd gathered what forces I could and without them... Maggie would have died. The bloodline curse would have wiped out Harry and everyone else related to her, and this world would have become far darker.

We'd stopped that. Even without saving Susan, we had stopped that.

Several Krogan tromped up, bearing the TARDIS under Grunt's direction. They plopped it down at the south entrance of the ball court. "Wrex said you'd want this close at hand," Grunt told me. "Figured I'd bring it for you."

I looked him over. We were all grungy, dirty, and bloody, but Grunt was especially so. "Thank you, Grunt," I answered, without remarking on the fact I could have summoned the TARDIS easily.

"We're the ones who owe you thanks. Aralakh Company's been needing a good scrap to stay in shape." Grunt bumped his fists together. "This was a battle they'll talk about for a long time."

"Right." I nodded and looked around. The sun would be coming up soon. People in the area would be waking up. I thought it best not to give them the sight of a large number of non-humans milling about the wrecked site of Chichen Itza. I brought out the sonic and used it to remotely set the TARDIS' door to the large chamber I'd made for everyone to gather in. "Grunt, please, get your men inside." I snapped my fingers to open the door.

"Right." Grunt turned. "All right you pyjaks. Fight's over! Fall in so we can get home! Hey, you two, you're on stretcher detail..."

"Sergeant Dorne." I turned and watched her begin to treat one of the Republic wounded. "Get the Major. I want your people in right behind the Krogan."

"Right away, Doctor."

I made sure the Wookiees had similar orders and helped oversee the transfer of the wounded to the TARDIS. Thomas insisted on going with Molly. He pressed a set of keys into my hand. "For Harry," he said. "Tell him to help himself."

"Right." I nodded. I had already realized there would be no bringing Harry back as well. The TARDIS was still locked to this world's timestream, and would be for another day or so. And he had to be back in Chicago. "Make sure everyone gets inside," I said. "I'll go get the others."




While I was on my way back to the main temple, everyone still there was watching the Grey Council depart in a Way. Harry was still holding Maggie and letting her sleep in his arms.

"She's a beautiful little girl." Liara stepped up to him. Like everyone else, she was wounded, bruised, and completely exhausted.

"Yeah."

Liara sat down next to him. "I'm sorry about what happened. With her mother."

"Yeah." Harry nodded. "So am I."

For a moment there was nothing said. And then Liara asked, "What was she like?"

"She was... full of life. Passionate. She never took 'no' for an answer and always kept digging." Harry laughed bitterly. "And there was a time I thought we would be together. I was going to marry her. Had the ring and everything. But then things happened."

"The vampires."

"Yes. And now, whenever I think about Susan, I can't help but think of how little time we actually had together."

"Right."

"He was trying to save Susan, wasn't he?", Harry asked.

Liara nodded. "And I... I'm the one who ruined it."

At his curious expression, Liara quickly told him about what happened with Monterro. "Of course," Harry said. "Sounds like something he would have thought of. Especially back when he was going nuts. Get Martin to be the one on the altar. And he'd have done it too." Harry took in a breath. "You saved his life. The Doc would've... hell, you know how arrogant he gets, he would have tried to subdue Monterro until the bastard ripped his Time Lord face off."

"I took away your child's mother," Liara said. She had tears in her eyes.

"Doc was the one who underestimated the Red Court prick, and you had to save him from that," Harry pointed out. I can imagine his voice grow weary, in that way it could, as he sighed. "You want to make it up to me?"

"How could I?"

"Simple. Take advantage of what time you've got." Harry nodded his head toward the side of the temple. The side where Shepard was showing her shotgun off to Sanya and Murphy. "You've got some pretty good chemistry with the Commander. Don't let it go to waste."

"I..."

"Trust me, Liara," Harry said. "Time runs out faster than you can imagine. Don't let it run out for you. Not like it did for me and Susan. Please."

Tears glinted in the growing dawn as they rolled down Liara's face.

"He's right." Katara stepped up and joined them. She trailed a stream of water that she started to use in healing a scrape on Liara's forehead. "I know what he's talking about."

Faced with the harsh truth of their experiences, Liara nodded in acceptance of their wisdom. She remained silent as Katara treated her injuries and Harry's, and took the time to complement Maggie to her father and heal a bruise on Maggie's face, before Murphy came up and they excused themselves.




By the time I got to the temple, Harry and the others were ready to go. "I always wondered what it would be like to meet you, Doctor," Sanya said to me. The big dark-skinned Russian offered me his hand, and I took it. "Harry said you were the one who saved us from Nicodemus' anti-air fire back at that island in Lake Michigan."

"Yes." I felt a small chuckle come from that. As much as I remembered it, that had been ages ago for me. Far longer than it'd been for Sanya and Harry. "Yes, that was quite the night."

"He said you were keeping the situation balanced." Sanya nodded. "Just as you did tonight. I'm grateful for your assistance, Doctor."

"And I am grateful for your being here for Harry and the others," I replied.

"Although, i am wondering why you brought little girls to fight?" Sanya's expression shifted to confusion. "It was most strange. They were very strong for being so small. And the blue-haired girl, it was very curious to see her using a saber so well. How long could she have trained?"

"Um... that's a... special case," I said haltingly.

"Really? That is very odd. But I suppose there are many things in this world that are odd." Sanya shrugged and gave me his goodbyes. He stepped into the Way that would lead back to Chicago.

Harry and Murphy came down with Shepard behind them and Liara and Katara behind her. The others were still further up on the other levels of the pyramid. Maggie was in Murphy's arms now while Harry was carrying her gear.

"Doc," Harry said to me. He gave me a nod.

"The timestream is still fixed to the TARDIS, but I should still be back in Chicago by a little past noon," I said. "We can talk."

"Yeah. If I'm still there, I guess." Harry looked at his daughter. "If not, Murphy knows my wishes."

"Indeed." I stepped up to him and pulled out Thomas' key. "From Thomas. He said to help yourself."

Harry looked it over. The letters WB are on it. Presumably for the Water Beetle, the houseboat that Thomas lived on in one of the marinas of Chicago. He pocketed the key.

Before he could step into the Way, a voice called out, "Mister Dresden!" We all looked up to the pyramid.

On the fifth level, Cap and the other allies I'd brought were standing. They all nodded at him. Cap brought his right hand up in a salute. "It was an honor fighting at your side, Harry Dresden," he said. "The same for you, Sergeant Murphy."

"Oh yeah, because we really kicked butt, didn't we?", Kyoko declared.

Harry, given the situation, couldn't help but chuckle. Murphy had a sort of tired grin on her face. Given the situation, the incredulity of being saluted by Captain America was something they just had to laugh at, not to mention Kyoko's addition. With their hands full, they could only give friendly nods in reply before they stepped through the Way.

The Leanansidhe closed the Way with a move of her hand. "Doctor." She bowed her head. "I must see to the burial of Susan's remains. Would you have any suggestions?"

I drew in a breath. "Yes, yes, I think I might."

And with the others helping, we soon set aside a place for Susan on the grounds, far from where any might disturb her rest.




The speed with which I returned the others home varied, but since I wasn't marching out whole armies, it didn't take long at any location. Sometimes it was quite short.

Our last stop was to the Citadel, near the hospital. C-Sec and other onlookers watched in surprise as the Krogans emerged with their injured.

Since Wrex was a head of state and Commander Shepard was... Commander Shepard, I left them to handle any issues with the Citadel Council. Not that I imagined there would be much. Instead I was in the control center preparing for the return to Chicago.

I saw movement up by the hall entrance opposite the main door, or rather where the main door would normally be, and looked up to see Liara enter the control room. "Doctor," she said, "I'd like to talk to you."

I watched her walk. The body language, the tone of voice, the way her eyes looked, and what had just happened... well, I didn't need to be a Time Lord with some feeling for the future, didn't I?

I nodded. "Ready to go home?" I kept my voice gentle when I asked that.

She stopped halfway down to the control room. "Of course you'd..." Liara sighed. "I just... I..." She tripped over the words she was trying to say.

"Between Katara and... this... I suppose it is enough to make one introspective about the issue," I said softly. "These things remind us that there might not be as much time left as we imagined."

"Yes, I suppose," Liara agreed. For a moment she looked thoughtful. "But I didn't want to just walk out. I know you're in the middle of things. We still haven't found Bolin and Varrick, and the situation with Kuvira..."

"Oh Liara." I let out a sigh, smiled, and shook my head. "Liara, you have no obligation. This has always been on your time, not mine. If you're ready to go home, then that's that."

There was uncertainty in her face. "Are you... sure?"

I nodded. "Yes, I'm quite sure. Honestly I never intended for things to get quite so mad around here with all of these Cracks and everything. Not like they've been. My intention was always to give you time to think about yourself and what you wanted, give you some sights to remember, that sort of thing. Without losing actual time in your home galaxy, if you get my meaning?"

"Yes. Yes, I think I do." Liara nodded. The hints of a smile finally started to form on her face. "Well. I guess that's that?"

"Yes. That is that. Want help packing?", I asked. "You could pick out a few souvenirs too. I've still got to get that Muntab mating totem to Glyph."

Liara chuckled at that. "Yes, I suppose."

I started walking up to greet her. "Come along," I said. "Let's get you packed. Just remember to frequently remind Shepard how lucky she is to have you."

"If you insist."

It did good for me. Seeing Liara smiling like that. I appreciated it, and I helped her pack up and followed her to the chamber where the TARDIS door was currently located.

Because it was her time. Liara had done more than her fair share as my Companion. She had joined me while trying to figure out her thoughts - about her job as the Shadow Broker and what it was doing to her heart, and about her feelings for Commander Shepard - and she'd spent that time saving worlds at my side instead.

I could never have asked for a finer Companion. And as much as it might hurt to see her go, I was happy to do so anyway. I wanted her to get on and have a long and happy life.

I must also add that it was quite amusing to see Commander Shepard's utter surprise when Liara turned a hug into a romantic dip and full kiss. That one got a lot of cheers from the assembled.

I even gave a playful whistle.

Granted, I got knocked on my arse from the pair of biotic bursts they tossed at me, but it was still well worth it.




I returned to Chicago in the proverbial knick of time.

I left Thomas at the front door to the Raith mansion. I could tell he was hungry, and being around so many tired and wounded mortals had been a strain on his control. I suppressed a shudder at the thought of what would happen to the thralls his sister would undoubtedly feed to him tonight. He wasn't dying so a lethal feeding wasn't likely, of course, but still...

One predator species down, so many to go, it seemed.

Katara had collapsed into the library recliner after finishing the healing work, so I was the one who carried Molly to the Carpenter home. Hope and Matthew answered and were quick to get their parents. "She's just exhausted," I assured them the moment they came from upstairs. "Wounded and tired. She'll be fine." Physically, anyway...

When she was safely to bed, I returned with them downstairs. "Doctor, you look awful," Charity said. "Are you sure you can't stay the night? I can make the spare bedroom for you."

"I'm alright," I lied. In truth I wanted to collapse. But I knew I had one more spot to make before it was too late. I went to the front door. "I'm a damn hypocrite," I finally said, admitting the thought in my head.

"Excuse me?", Michael asked. Even a lesser curse like "damn" was one that could draw a bit of a tic from him.

"I'm a hypocrite, Michael," I said. "I hate war. I hate killing. I always work to stop them and force peace. But last night, I didn't. Last night, I went to war. I brought people from other worlds who felt debt toward me and I drew them into a fight that wasn't their fight," I answered. "In short, hypocrite. Me."

"I can see why you would think that, Doctor." Michael stepped up and laid a hand on my shoulder. "But consider... have you ever heard of the idea of a 'just war'?"

"I have. Usually found it to be an utter lie."

"Usually it is used as a lie, yes, but not always." Michael kept that gentle grin on his face as he spoke. "What you did last night was the definition of a just war. It was the kind of war a good man can fight. That a good man has to fight if he is to remain good."

I said nothing to that. It didn't entirely make me feel better. But it was something. "Thank you, Michael," I said. "And you, Charity. I'll see you again shortly." I checked the time on their mantelpiece. "But I've got somewhere else to be, and my TARDIS is still fixed to your timestream for another day or so."

We exchanged goodbyes, and I returned to the TARDIS.




I had reasons for materializing the TARDIS where I did. Even if it meant a walk that was agonizing on my spent body.

I walked along the piers of the marina until I found the ship I was looking for. "Ahoy there!," I cried out. "Permission to board, sir?"

For a moment there was nothing. And then I heard a small chuckle from just within the door of the Water Beetle. "Come on in, Doc," Harry answered.

I winced from my aches as I boarded the boat and walked into the cabin. The tattered ruins of Harry's iconic duster was in one corner. It'd been magically enchanted by the Leanansidhe for the battle, but now that said magic had worn off, all of the abuse it had endured had come back with a vengeance and wrecked the garment.

It seemed a fitting icon for what had just happened to Harry's life.

Harry actually looked freshened up now. He'd showered recently and given himself a shave, and had on a fresh set of clothes; jeans, t-shirt, and fleece-lined denim jacket. I was self-conscious of my unchanged clothing as I took the seat he indicated. "Hot date?", I inquired.

"Murphy and I are going out."

"Ah." I sighed and winced. I was finding I was aching far more than I thought I would. "So.... here we are."

We simply looked at each other. Meeting eyes wasn't something we needed to avoid anymore. We had soulgazed, after all. We'd seen what was within each other.

"Yeah, here we are," Harry agreed. "Three days ago it seemed like my life was running along smoothly. Molly was being a good apprentice, bills were paid, business reasonable..."

"Things often seem like that before things shift under you," I said. From experience, of course.

Harry nodded. "You were trying to save Susan."

"I'm sorry," I said. "I... back when I started cackling, to borrow the phrase from Granny Weatherwax, I called Martin. I gave him details. Told him what I knew about his allegiances."

"You're lucky he didn't kill you."

I allowed myself a small smile. "Oh, he tried," I chuckled. "But eventually I got through to him. And I made the arrangement with him. He called right after you did to give me the information I needed to pick Monterro." I chuckled softly. "I was going to go for broke. I tried to come and warn you about the Eebs' plans before they burned your house down." I shook my head. "My TARDIS had other ideas."

"I thought you were fixed to our time?", Harry asked.

"Not forwards," I answered. "I could skip hours if I wanted, relative to you. Still wouldn't speed things up on my end, though."

"Wow." Harry shook his head. "Well, I guess it worked out for the best, mostly?"

"I'm not sure," I admitted. "My forces took a few losses. Not many, but a few. And I failed."

Harry shook his head. "No, you didn't," he insisted. "If you hadn't brought friends last night... hell, I doubt we would've made it to the main temple."

"Oh, you might have," I said. The image, now disproven, of him holding his daughter's dead body briefly blipped into my mind. "You might have. The question is, would you have been able to fight off an army of angry mercenaries who just had their employers killed?"

"Either way, that's exactly my point. You changed the balance back to our side."

"I suppose, yes." I nodded slowly. "In the end, even a Time Lord could only do so much. I had to learn that lesson with Katherine. Never ceases hurting, though."

"Huh." For a moment he said nothing. "Maggie," he finally said.

"Yes?", i asked.

"I told Murphy I wanted her somewhere far from me," he said. "I'm going to be Mab's little monster now, I don't want her around that. And I figure... if anyone can find somewhere she'd be happy, it'd be you."

I swallowed. "Harry, are you...?"

"Find her a happy home, Doc. Please. As one last favor, and I know I already owe you big time for last night." Harry swallowed. I saw a tear on his eye. "You can find her with Father Forthill. I've told him what I want. Please, find her somewhere that she'll be happy, and where nobody can hurt her. Mouse will be with her too, find them a nice home."

"I see." I nodded. "I promise, Harry, that I'll make sure Maggie has a good home. And that I'll make sure she's protected. Mouse will help, too."

"Yes he will."

We had silence again. Finally Harry checked the clock. "Murph should be here soon."

"I hope you enjoy your date," I said. Even though I knew what was about to happen. Knew it. Hated it.

And couldn't do a damn thing about it. Not without ruining things.

I got up to leave. Before I got to the door Harry called out to me. He was standing as well. "Hey Doc, before you go."

"Yes?"

"The soulgaze." He stepped up to me. "It's hard to describe these things. I've never seen a soul like your's before. All that Time Lord stuff... it was like trying to wrap my head around a galaxy. But I can say... deep under all of that Time Lord stuff, you're a Human being."

I stared at him. "You're... serious?"

"I am." Harry nodded. "I saw it. Buried under locked memories and all of the Time Lord-iness in your soul. You're Human. You always have been."

I simply stared for a moment. I... could it be? Was I...?

I know how true it was now, of course, but at the time... it had been so long since I'd ever considered the possibility. It seemed ridiculous. I was once Human? That was silly.

But I could see the certainty in Harry. He knew for sure. He'd seen my soul. He knew what he was talking about.

I'd once been Human.

I'd once been Human.

And then, as I stood there shocked, Harry and I... hugged. Like two old friends saying goodbye for possibly the last time. A full on hug. "Thanks again, Doc," he said. "Take care of my little girl."

"I will. And thank you," I croaked. "Thank you for... that. And I'll find Mister. I promise."

"Thanks. I think Murph could use the company."

There was nothing more to say. I left. I just started walking, my head full of thoughts and feelings. Down the dock, constant motion ont he wooden and metal planks, all the way to the exit and my TARDIS.

I almost forgot what was about to happen. I heard the distant little crack. Like a thrown rock.

And back by the Water Beetle, I heard a splash.

A sudden impulse seized me. To run back. To jump into the frigid water and pull Harry out.

But that'd be silly. The sniper was watching. He'd see me. He'd probably shoot me in order to stop me; he was fulfilling a debt here, after all, and wouldn't see it go to waste.

And... this had to happen to.

I kept walking. I returned to the TARDIS.

And just to make sure, as soon as I got there, I stopped at the door. I faced outside and I imagined a circle in my head. Only in my head. Just enough to exchange some words.

I muttered the following words.

"Mab, Queen of the Unseelie. Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness. Mab, Queen of Winter, I, the Doctor, bid you come forth."

She didn't appear physically. But in my mind, I saw her visage appear in the circle I kept in my head, and with her the Leanansidhe. She regarded me with curiosity, and through Harry's godmother she said, "Doctor, a pleasure. I have heard much of your deeds in destroying the Red Court."

"It was a hectic night," I replied. I was verbally mumbling the lines. "I'm not here to talk long, but I wanted to make sure you knew that your new Winter Knight is dying in the waters of Lake Michigan."

Mab stared at me. Her expression contorted into some surprise, and then realization. "Why do you tell me this?", she asked. "This was clearly a machination of Dresden to deny me his services. Why would you, his friend, foil that?"

"For one thing, I'm sure you were about to find out yourself," I said. "Secondly..." I narrowed my eyes. "I am his friend. And I know he has friends and loved ones who still need him. People he is only abandoning because he fears what you'll make him into. But I know the limits on that. You want Harry Dresden as your Winter Knight, fine. But that means you can't change him so easily. Not unless you want to ruin the tool you crave."

"He will change under the mantle. He will be mine. That is inevitable."

"Is it?" I shook my head. "Because I've seen what he's made of. I think he can take it. I have trust that he can remain himself. And I know that you'll not stop that, because if you were to destroy what he is, you'd just break your own weapon. And you're not going to do something like that." I drew in a tired breath. "This world still needs Harry Dresden. His friends still need him. His city. And his daughter. So save him, Queen Mab. Save your Winter Knight. Use him as is necessary to fulfill the duties of Winter. But remember who he is and what he is, and respect that. Such is my friendly advice to you."

"You," Mab said through the Leanansidhe, "are being rather insolent."

"Well." I smirked. "It's no wonder Harry and I get along so well. Go on ahead, then. I thank you for that moment of your time, Your Majesty."

I could have been even more insolent, maybe with something like "The clock is ticking", but sometimes, you just have to play it safe and be diplomatic.

Mab and Lea disappeared from the circle in my mind. And I was alone again.

And I knew I had one last thing to do.

I went into the TARDIS and came back out. With a notepad. I flipped it open and started scribbling.
Ivy, please listen to me.
Whatever you hear, don't worry about it.
Harry Dresden is still alive. He's going to be okay.
He'll just be gone for a little while.
Don't worry about it.

Sincerely,
The Doctor
And then, after thinking about it, I quickly added...
P.S. When you see him again, please tell Kincaid I'm grateful about not getting shot. He'll know what I'm talking about.
"There," I muttered. "All done."

I trudged back into the TARDIS, shifted us into a nice quiet early universe somewhere for the peace and quiet, and promptly fell into my hammock for much needed rest.




By the time I woke up, the timestream lock had faded.

And no matter how exhausted I was, I still had things to do.

I checked on Katara, who was still sleeping soundly, and started by returning the TARDIS to Harry's neighborhood. I sighed deeply at the charred remains of the building he'd lived under. With the fire it had finally collapsed, burying Harry's old basement apartment in blackened wood and debris.

I still had memories of that place. Good ones.

As I stood and looked at the ruins in the dawn light, I took out a catnip-laced chew toy and held it out.

After a short while, a four-legged furry form bounded out of what was left of the stairwell. Said form nearly knocked me over as it slammed into my shin, upon which the cat started trying to jump up and bat the toy.

"Hello there, Mister," I said amiably. I turned and tossed the toy in, prompting Mister to chase it inside. "Murphy will be glad to see you. Yes she will."

I took one last look at the ruins of Harry's home before I gave my final goodbye to it.




After dropping off Mister at Murphy's empty house, with some cat food and a water dish and a prepared litter box, plus a note, I made arrangements with Father Forthill for Maggie. With his broken jaw it took us a bit of time as he wrote out his replies, but soon enough we found ourselves in complete agreement on the subject of a good home for her. I left her with Forthill for the time being, letting him do the honors of the initial arrangements, and then I would come along and secure things.

In the meantime, I was relaxing in my hot tub, trying to get the aches and strain of the last couple of days out of my bruised body. Katara sat on the other end to indulge in the same. "So that's it?", she said.

"It is."

"Liara's gone." Katara nodded. "I'm happy for her, though. She's found someone to be happy with."

"I know." I laid my head back. "It's going to be strange around here. Just you and me." In a way, I found I already missed Liara. She tended to have a... focusing effect on me. She kept me grounded.

"Maybe you'll meet someone else who wants to travel with us?", Katara asked.

"Maybe. Possibly. Who knows? And by then you might want to go," I pointed out. "Still thinking of Beach City?"

"Well... I'm still not sure. Maybe?" Katara shook her head. "But with everything going on, the thought of leaving you alone..."

"Oh, don't worry about it, I'm a big boy," I declared. "It's not a big deal."

Being alone again. Huh. I hadn't been alone in... well, in a while. It'd be strange. And empty. And hollow. And I really didn't want to be alone again.

After that exchange, we remained quiet for a bit. Katara finally decided to change the subject. "Harry asked you to find a home for Maggie?", Katara asked.

"Yes." I nodded. "I've made the arrangements."

"What world are you taking her to?", Katara asked. "Where do you think she would be happy?"

"Oh, I've got a pretty good idea on that." I reached over and looked over my new project. "As soon as this is done and tested, I'm going to visit her and see how she's settling in."

Katara nodded. And then she looked at my quizzically. "Isn't that a...?"

"It is," I chuckled. "I thought it fitting."

At that, Katara smiled and let out a laugh.




I stepped up to the door. Katara was following behind, but she was just going to observe. She wanted to see what happened.

After the knock, I was met by the Carpenters. "Charity, Michael, this is Katara," I said, making sure to get the introductions done.

Once we had accomplished that, it was on to my purpose. "We just moved her into the spare room," Charity informed me.

"I see. How is she faring?"

"She's starting to talk with us," Michael answered. "Mouse is keeping her company."

"I see. Well..." I looked to the stairs. "I'd like to see her."

"Of course."

The Carpenters led me to the bedrooms upstairs. Charity's old sewing room had been turned into a bedroom, with a bed for a child and a small desk with a chair already set up. A few toys, at least one of which I knew to have belonged to Hope at one point, were in a box near the bed. An old dresser was at one side of the room and a clothes hamper beside it.

Maggie Dresden was sitting on the bed. She was wearing a shirt with some very familiar-looking, if now cartoony, ponies on it, and a little knee-length skirt underneath. Mouse was on the floor beside her and letting her run a hand through his leonine mane of fur. She looked up at me with big brown eyes and I thought a small flicker of recognition went through them. "Hello," she said. Her voice had that typical little girl's cuteness to it, without intending to be cute.

"Hello Maggie," I said. "Do you know who I am?"

"I saw you in the pictures," she answered. Undoubtedly she had seen a picture down on the mantle of me in a Santa suit, from when I'd brought Christmas gifts to the family. "They said you're the Doctor and that you're really nice and you have a magic box you fly around in." She blinked at that. "Doctor who?"

I chuckled. "Just the Doctor," I answered. I stepped in and got down onto my knees beside the bed. Given my height, I was still high enough to make eye contact. "How are you settling in? Do you like it?"

Maggie nodded. "Mister and Missus Carpenter are really nice. And Hope gave me some of her toys."

"She did, huh? That was awfully sweet of her."

"Uh huh. And Harry makes me laugh."

I nodded. The youngest Carpenter had been named for Harry, who had saved Charity's life just before he was born. "Well," I said, "I'm glad you like being here. Your dad asked me to make sure you were happy."

She blinked at that. I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out an image. It was my copy of when Molly had presented my vest to me, the image Liara had made. "This is him," I said. "Your father, Harry Dresden."

Maggie nodded.

"And here I am. Your dad was having a few chuckles at my expense, you see." I indicated where Harry had, mischievously, given me bunny ears with his fingers.

That prompted another nod. Mouse let out a low whimper. I reached over and ruffled his fur. "Ah, don't worry about that, Mouse. Trust me. Things will work out."

Mouse accepted that with a chuffing noise.

"You'll never be pleased will you? Oi." I reached into my pocket and pulled out another Layom Station-provided super doggy biscuit. "Here, boy."

Maggie finally smiled thinly while Mouse wolfed down the biscuit. I chuckled and looked back to her. "He's a big softie," I said. "Don't let him fool you."

She nodded again.

I looked back. Katara hadn't entered, but she had heard enough and I could see her from the doorway. Wordlessly she seemed to be agreeing with me on what the problem was, given the concerned expression on her face.

I looked back to Maggie. "Maggie, I know you went through something awful, and I'm so, so sorry about that," I began. "But you're safe now. The monsters who took you can't get you anymore."

A quiver went through her little body. She started rubbing her arms together as if she were cold.

My hearts felt like melting. The poor dear was still scared. Traumatized severely, and in a way no therapist of this world could ever help her deal with.

"Maggie, I promise you, the monsters are not going to touch you again," I continued. "Because that's what I do, Maggie. Your father and I, we both fight monsters. We fight them and we beat them."

Tears were forming in her eyes. She nodded softly.

I reached into my jacket pocket. "Now, I want to give you something." I pulled the item out. "May I see your left hand? Please?"

Maggie held still for a moment. Her little arm came up and extended, presenting her left hand.

I gently took her left forearm with one hand, while with the other I placed the object I'd pulled from my jacket onto her left wrist. There was a little tone as the blue material conformed to fit her wrist without being too tight and then promptly snapped shut. "It's a watch," I said. I showed her how to take it off if she ever needed to. Not that she would, since it was waterproof and all the other -proofs you could imagine.

After I finished with that important informtion, I pointed to the clock face with the ticking hands. In the middle of the watch face, with its white background and blue numbering, was a likeness of the TARDIS. "And that's a picture of my magic box. It's called a TARDIS. It's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. And it can go anywhere."

"Anywhere?" She seemed confused by that.

"Anywhere," I repeated. "All sorts of worlds and places. And all sorts of things to meet. It's what I do. When I'm not fighting monsters."

Maggie nodded.

"Now, Maggie, I need to tell you something." I took her hands and put them together, and held them together with my own. "Your father was one of my best friends. And he made me promise to look after you. To make sure you were happy and that you were safe. And I meant that promise." I looked her in the eye. No need to fear a soulgaze there. "Now I know you're still frightened a little. You're scared that the monsters can still come back and they might take you away again."

The little one was honest. Maggie nodded her head slowly.

"I understand." I patted her hands with my own. "It's okay to be scared. But I want you to know something. You don't need to be scared of the monsters anymore. Because you see this watch?" I moved my hand and touched it. "See this button?"

Maggie nodded. "I do."

"I want you to press and hold it. Okay?"

Maggie nodded and did so, by which time I had the sonic out of my pocket. The watch suddenly lit up, bright blue. A skin-tight energy field popped into existence around her. And my sonic screwdriver's tip started flashing. Three short flashes, three long, three short. "You see this?" I indicated the sonic screwdriver. "When you hold that button on the watch, you're sending me a signal saying that you're in trouble. That monsters or bad guys or something like that is after you. So if you're alone and scared, if monsters are after you and Mouse or the Carpenters or anyone you're around, you just need to hold that button down. Because I'll know you're in trouble then. And I'll come right away." I smiled and vowed, "And then it'll be the monsters and bad guys who get scared and run away."

Given the look in her eyes, Maggie was taking in my words. And her expression seemed to brighten up. She nodded at me. "You promise?", she asked.

"I promise," I vowed.

Maggie looked at Mouse, who let out a happy bark and nodded his head enthusiastically. She turned back to me and a lovely little smile crossed her face. "Okay," she said. She wrapped her arms around my neck. "Thank you Doctor."

I patted her on the back. "Oh, it's quite alright, Maggie, quite alright. Now..." When the hug ended I looked down at her and winked. "Are you hungry?"

"A little."

"Well, we can't have that, can we?", I said. "We need to get you something to eat before you end up all shriveled up, eh?" I laughed as the perfect idea came to me. I looked through the door, where the Carpenters were now standing. "Any plans for dinner yet?", I asked them.

Michael looked toward Charity. She shook her head gently. "I haven't put anything in yet," she admitted.

"Ah. Well then, how about Burger King? Anyone up for one of those whoppers?"

Katara blinked. "But I thought you..."

I put a finger over my mouth quickly, without Maggie being able to see it. "I say Burger King. What about the rest of you?"

Charity let out a maternal little chuckle and nodded. "I'll get the children."

"Excellent. Most excellent. It's all on me!" I picked Maggie up, who finally let out a giggle for the first time since I'd met her. "And happy meals... wait, those are that other chain. MacGregor's... MacDiarmid's, no, McRonald's. Whatever. We'll get whatever Burger King calls a happy meal, how about that? And those paper crowns..."

Mouse followed behind as we left the room, tail wagging.

We all went to Burger King. Me, Katara, Maggie, the Carpenter clan, even Mouse. Which I thought was fitting. Sure, gastrointestinal menace and all that, but sometimes... well, sometimes there are things more important than that, you know?

And what can I say? It felt good. Ultimately, at the end of the day, after all of the blood and violence, the pain and uncertainty and all that horrible death, it was good to just sit back and watch a little girl begin to put her life back together.

And so there we were, Katara and I, fresh from a horrible night of war, and now watching Maggie smile and laugh as Charity set the paper crown on her brow.

That, my dear readers, is what I call victory.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-25 01:45am

Short 49 - Past Sins

Chichen Itza left me in a pondering mood.

It was shortly after the end of that adventure - plus a little aid granted to Murphy in dealing with the opportunistic Fomor rising up to fill the vacuum left by the Red Court's demise - that I found myself sitting on a chair I pulled into the control chamber of my TARDIS. I was looking at a collection of things I had on one of my many cabinets of knick-knacks and souvenirs and such from all the worlds I'd visited.

Not every one of them was something happy, though. A few, especially on this shelf, were from a darker time.

I was considering a glass flask full of a dark, viscous fluid when Katara entered from the nearby door. "Doctor, are you alright?"

"An intriguing question," I noted. I almost asked about Liara. Drat. I was going to have to get used to her being gone. She was always good for this sort of thing.

"You're not still hurt, are you?"

"Not physically, no." I sighed and slid back in my chair. I wiggled the flask around. "Just… confronting old memories."

"You did your best to save her," Katara said.

"Well, Liara gave you lessons in reading me, did she?", i chuckled. "I know. It's not the fate of Susan Rodriguez that has me so dour, my dear. It's what I was reminded of. The plan was set into place a long time ago. When I was a very different fellow. And I admit, that has me thinking about the past. The old sins I can find back there."

"Oh." Katara stood silent for a moment. "What's that stuff?"

"Oh, this?" I held up the flask. A sample of darkspawn blood from the planet Thedas. I told her as much. "Nasty stuff. I thought I could find a counter-agent that could cure it from the bloodstream. To help victims of the creatures, that sort of thing." I sighed and shook my head. "I'm not so good, though, when it comes to trying to apply technological solutions to worlds where subdimensions like their 'Fade' exists. All of my attempts to put together a purely pharmaceutical cure failed. The corruption persists in the tissues." I set the flask down. It made a satisfying thunk.

"What's this?"

Katara pointed to a device near the flask. I frowned at it and what it represented. "This is…?", she asked.

"The one thing from that world I did manage to find a way to disrupt technologically." I frowned at it. "For all the good it did."

"What does it do?"

"It re-establishes the link that living things on that world have to that 'Fade' subdimension," I answered. "Specifically, it restores emotions and full mental functionality toward those who have been made 'Tranquil', in their parlance. Did it to make things better, of course. Keep some nasty fellows from effectively lobotomizing innocent people under their power."

"That sounds good. Why are you so upset over it?"

I sighed. "My test run. I found out what happened after Parakar. As it turns out, those who have had that done to them and who are then restored, it makes their emotions come back even more fiercely. And mages, the people in question, were already susceptible enough to possession by extra-dimensional creatures. All of those extra emotions…" I swallowed. "It was a horrible slaughter. The guardians of the Circle invoked their 'Right of Annulment' over it. They slaughtered everyone living there, from the most elderly scholars to the children." I shook my head. "All because of me."

Katara was silent at that. I could see the disbelief at that scale of atrocity. It had all been my fault too. If I hadn't reversed those Tranquils…

I'll add that after finding out about what happened to said Circle, it became so much easier to sit in the Chameleon Arch. So very much easier.

I set the device down and stood up. "I keep these things to remind me of the costs of blundering in."

"You were trying to do the right thing," Katara insisted.

"That's not always enough," I pointed out. I trod up to the TARDIS controls. "Well, I suppose we should get going."

For a moment I looked to see if Liara was going to say anything. Which was silly because she had left. But people can get into habits like that.

I twisted some knobs and pulled a switch before hitting the activation lever. The TARDIS VWORPed happily while we made our way to the new destination.

I stepped out of the TARDIS and immediately knew we weren't where I had planned to go. Now, certainly the low-tech, medieval-looking foundry was a major tip-off, complete with the only source of light being blazing torches.

But the real tip-off was the feeling in the air. After all, medieval worlds are a dime a bloody dozen, aren't they? But not all feel like this. At least, not to Time Lords. I could feel the slight warping of time-space, stronger than it usually was, tinged with just a tad of energy that I can't quite describe in ways that Humans can comprehend. Destructive, perhaps? This place had experienced destruction. Of life, that is. On a scale that had weakened the fabric of time-space itself. An annoying potential that comes in some worlds.

"Well, speak of the devil," I mumbled.

"Why are we in a metal foundry?", Katara asked.

"My girl must have her reasons," I mused. "Especially to bring us to a place like Thedas."

"That's interesting timing."

"Isn't it always?" I brought out the sonics. "Now, let's…"

The door entrance to the foundry opened. A robed individual stepped in with something slung over his back. Given the styling of the white mantle of the robe around the shoulders I could imagine he was one of this world's magi.

And given my prior experiences on this nasty little planet, and our environs, it wasn't hard to guess he was up to something nasty.

I reached for the sonic disruptor as the man looked toward us. Even from here I could see madness glinting in his eyes. "Who are you?!", he demanded.

"Oh, a couple of travelers," I answered. "And apparently we're in the right place at the right time too."

"You… you're with them," he stammered, pointing an accusing finger at me. "You're with the templars. Here to stop my work! Here to keep me from my wife!"

"So that's your wife?," I inquired flippantly. "What, did she have one too many at the pub? Granted, if a place like this is your home, I can see it…"

"She's the last piece!", the man screamed. "The last! I can have my wife back now!"

"Uhhh…" I tried to think of a witty reply, but it was hard. This situation had frankly become far too creepy. "Whatever. You know what? I'm not going to try. I'm just going to tell you to put the nice lady down before Katara turns you into a magecicle."

"To me!," he shouted. Creatures rose from the ground, looking like dark and not entirely real globs given form, and surged toward us. I fired a kinetic pulse from the sonic disruptor to toss them back.

Katara didn't have to be asked. Her hands went up and water in several nearby basins, normally used for cooling metal, surged out. She swung her arms about to pull it together and sent a storm of ice shards that tore into several of the beings. I went for the insane man with the sonic disruptor. The deflector shield caught a literal fireball thrown at me and I retaliated with a tight kinetic charge that knocked his leg out from under him. He screamed and collapsed, dropping the woman in what now looked to be a red and violet dress of some fine appearance. She crumpled to the ground and barely seemed to stir.

I glanced to Katara, who nodded as she directed more shards of ice that skewered into the malevolent creatures' apparent flesh. I used the cover of this to move away from the TARDIS and retrieve the mad mage's would-be victim. I carried her in a bridal carry over to the entrance of the TARDIS, where I laid her gently before rushing into the TARDIS to get something that I thought would work here.

This left Katara to fight off the remaining creatures, which she did with superb skill. Of course, skill eventually gives way to numbers, so she was back to the threshold of the TARDIS trying to stop the growing numbers of creatures the now-maddened mage was summoning. "Get her back!", he screeched. "I need her! I need her face for my wife!"

Oi. I definitely didn't like this one. I plucked the device I'd shown to Katara earlier from the cabinet and raced back to the door. I fished the sonic screwdriver from my pocket and started using it to alter the settings on my initial device.

"I'll destroy you all if you don't give her back!," the madman howled. "My wife needs her face!"

"What, your wife's face isn't good enough already?", I countered. "You've got to snatch another?"

"It's her face! She needs to have it in order to be complete!"

"Right…" Content that I had finished my work, I fixed the device to the sonic disruptor's side. "Listen chuckles. I'm getting a bad feeling about what you're up to. So you've got this chance to leave before I get nasty." I lifted my sonic disruptor to clarify the threat.

All I got was mad cackling. "Rip them apart!", he ordered.

"Your choice," I answered. I moved ahead of Katara and the woman we'd rescued and triggered the sonic disruptor on the nasty monster thing charging us. The sonic disruptor's tip lit up and the device made its customary bass whirring tone.

Faint waves of energy filled the air in front of the disruptor as it channeled the dimensional disruption effect my other device was creating. The disruption waves hit the Fade demon and it howled, writhing in place for a moment before it disintegrated. I swept it around and caused more of the creatures to fade from view.

The mad mage stared in wide-eyed horror. And he ran to my left to flee into the other reaches of the foundry.

I gave him a parting blast before he got out of view. After I was done I looked at the device. "Oi, smoking. Not good," I noted in a low voice. I had overheated it. Perhaps burnt it out. There would be no pursuing the madman until I had this fixed.

I turned and found Katara treating the bloody wound on the woman's head. She was indeed an older woman. At her very youngest, I imagined she was in her late-forties, fifty or so being more likely. Grey eyes hazed with remnant pain looked up at me. "Where…?"

"A… foundry of some sort, I imagine," I answered. "Somewhere on the continent of Thedas and a nasty place given the subtle spatial fluctuations in the environment." I took out a penlight from my jacket pocket and used it to check her eyes. "Dilation is good. Lucky there. The brain doesn't like getting smacked around inside the skull."

She seemed to come more awake as I ministered to her injury. Although that was mostly Katara. "Who are you?"

"I'm the Doctor, and this is my friend Katara. And you should stay awake, miss, you've got a head injury."

"Doctor…?" She blinked. I could see she was trying to remember things. "I remember…" After several more moments she seemed to crystallize the thought. "Malcolm said something about it."

"Malcolm…." My face brightened. "Oh my. You're talking about Malcolm Hawke, aren't you? How is the old boy? Still slinging fire and casually messing with sub-dimensional Fade stuff while mouthing off to templars, I take it?" I turned my head to face Katara while she kept her healing water over the wound on the lady's head. "He's one of this world's magi I ran into on my first visit here with Jan and Cami. Awesome fellow. Great with the spell-slinging. Not as prone to burn down buildings like Harry is but quite witty in his own right."

"He's gone," the woman answered, in the tone of voice that made it evidently clear that the speaker was likely the grieving widow.

My initial reaction was a sad look and offering condolences. Upon finishing my calculation that I was speaking to his widow, though, I chuckled. "Well, I'll be. You're Leandra Amell? Malcolm mentioned you while we were ducking those armored chaps outside of… what was it? Stonehall, Stonehaven… Starkhaven, yes!"

"I am," she answered. "You were the reason Malcolm got away from the templars. I remember him telling me about it."

"Well, it was a memorable time. And I still remember the look on that one templar's face after Jan dropped that manure barrel on her." My mind recalled that night easily given the object of Jan's bemused attack. The cold blue eyes of the blond-haired woman in armor as she glared hatred and disgust at us. Jan and Cami had been too busy laughing at that time, but Jan had later remarked she found the emotions coming from the woman to be on the verge of terrifying.

I darkly wondered whatever had happened to that templar. You never know what such people can become, after all...

"He didn't tell me about that part." There was a small smile on the woman's face.

I continued to converse with her. Found out about the children she'd had with Malcolm, the sad news of his loss and the loss of her son Carver to darkspawn, her daughter's confinement with the other mages after being found out, and her other daughter's constant plunges into danger. When Katara nodded I knew that everything had been done. Leandra would be fine. "Alright. Injury's healed, just take it easy for a few days, alright?" I helped her up.

"What about that horrible man?", Leandra asked.

"Well, this is what those templars are for, isn't it?", I pointed out. "But given what you've said, I have a strong suspicion someone even more formidable will be along shortly to deal with him." I patted her on the shoulder. "Good to finally meet you, Leandra. I'll have to stop by sometime, share some tea."

"I would like that. And you must meet my daughter."

"Well, if she's anything like her father, she's going to have quite the wit to her, I imagine…"

She left for the entrance. I could hear heavy footsteps coming from the other way. A young woman cried out "Mother! Mother! I'm coming!"

"I'm here!", Leandra answered as she went through the door leading to the exit.

I, meanwhile, stepped back into the TARDIS with Katara and VWORPed us away.




I was sitting quietly in the library a short time later, studying the device I had just burnt out on my sonic disruptor. Katara walked in with a cup of warm tea in each hand. She offered one to me and I took it, enjoyed a sip, and placed it to the side. She sat down opposite from me.

"I wonder," I finally said, "about it."

"About what?", Katara asked.

"How it all balances in the end," I replied. "Even a Time Lord can't see that far. In the end, does it all balance out?" I held up the device. "I once used this device and caused dozens, probably hundreds, of deaths. Now I've used it to save one life. Just one, though. No balance, right?"

"Maybe, maybe not. I'm not sure it can be that simple. In both cases you were trying to do the right thing."

"Men never do evil more willingly than when they believe they are doing the right thing," I pointed out.

Katara took a drink and looked contemplative for a second. "Aang used to say the hardest thing about fighting was that he never wanted to hurt the people he was fighting, but nothing can be guaranteed about whether or not you'll hurt someone. The same thing is true with you."

"Ah?"

"Yes. So just remember why you, I mean, why we do these things. We're there to help."

I took another sip of tea and considered what she said. "A good point," I agreed. "Quite good."

She nodded and didn't say anything else. There was nothing more that need be said. She was right.

We had saved someone. Just one person. But that was still a person with hopes and dreams. With children who would be devastated to lose their only remaining parent.

By acting as we did, we had saved many people from pain to come in the future.

I can't erase my old sins. What I did as the Time Lord Triumphant was always going to be there. And as much as it sounded reasonable, you don't deal with something like that by treating it all as a scoreboard. By saving x amount of lives to redeem y number of sins, or a sin as big as that. All you can do is accept you did wrong and try to live by a better standard in the future.

Just as I have to do.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-25 03:59pm

Episode 36 - Conflicting Visions

I had another nightmare.

That brief contact with the future vision power of the Crystal Gem being called Garnet had left me with… impressions of potential futures on my timestream. I had already seen - and averted - two. Or, rather, I was certain I had averted them. Maggie Dresden had survived, instead of being a dead little girl in the arms of a grieving father. And the defeat of the Cybermen made it unlikely that the horrible destruction my vision saw upon the planet of Tharkad would come to pass.

But I had other glimpses.

Earth, or rather multiple Earths all seeming to blur together, consumed by energy. What did it mean? What could be the cause?

This time, I saw more. I saw what the energy could do. I saw places I knew, people I knew, devoured by it. Atomized from existence in a heartbeat.

And there was nothing left.

Everything… gone. Wiped from existence. I didn't even have a ground to fall to in mourning. I was simply adrift in an empty void.

"What is this?", I asked aloud. "What am I seeing?"

"A possible future," a voice answered.

I was standing in the middle of a familiar place, complete with a bit of mist for mystique. I turned. I was facing the Doctor. In his eleventh (well, actually twelfth) form. Bow tie and everything. "Everything lost in a flash of energy," he continued. "Gone. Forever."

"What could be causing this?", I asked him.

"How do you expect me to know?", he replied. "I'm in your head after all. So we need to figure it out together. Although if you ask me it's plainly obvious."

"The Cracks," I agreed. "With the exception of the one at Thessia, all have been formed on or near Earth."

"Exception that proves the rule?", Eleven inquired.

"Possibly," I answered. "But does it all mean? What does this have to do with the Daleks thinking I was responsible? Or that fellow on the other end of the Cracks who was manipulating the Zygons and Blakists?"

"I, we, don't know. But there aren't many who could do such things," the Doctor pointed out. "Say, didn't you have one other vision?"

I did. I remembered it then. A crater in what used to be Republic City. Widespread devastation.

"Something's going to happen there," I realized. "Something tied to all of this."

"Seems likely, doesn't it?"

"Terribly so. Which means I need to get there. Now."

"That you do. Might be best if you woke up any time, you've got a lot of work ahead."

That was when the dream ended.




I sat up from the recliner. Katara was sitting quietly to herself. She had a digital device out, a sort of holo-display smartphone if you will. I was quite bemused to see she was teaching herself how to read English. "Need any help?", I asked her.

"Um…" She looked up and seemed surprised to see I was awake. "No, I… I wasn't intending to interrupt, I just wanted to get some reading in."

"Learning to read English?" I motioned toward the device. "Asami got a lot of use out of it. The Gift of the TARDIS makes it rather cosmetic, but she wanted to be able to understand some technical journals without having me around."

Katara put the reader down without saying anything. Learning English was more than just idle curiosity to her. I was gripped with a sudden melancholy at the thought that she was deciding on living elsewhere.

"You don't look so good. I thought you would have recovered by now."

"Oh, I am," I replied. "From Chichen Itza, that is. I'm rested, refreshed, and ready to keep going." I stood up. "And I think it's time to get going again."

"To where?", Katara asked.

"Republic City," I answered. "I might be going crazy, but I think there's something there that we need to deal with."

"Kuvira," Katara noted.

"Maybe," I clarified. Thoughts came to me again. The mystery of how Xuandi and his Dai Li had learned to use a vortex manipulator. "Either way, it needs to get handled, and I'm freshly rested and all. Are you?"

Katara answered with a nod.

"Right. Let's go." I moved toward the control room at a steady pace. Something about what I'd seen had my mind going. I couldn't help but feel that another big piece of the puzzle waited to be discovered.

I was walking up to the controls when the TARDIS communication station started beeping. I went over to the phone and found no incoming calls. I was full of curiosity as I checked the station itself. The signal wasn't from a temporal beacon at all, I found.

It was from one of my TARDIS remotes.

To clarify, actually, it was from one of my fakes.

The fakes, unlike the real ones, were set up to send a ping like a temporal beacon would. A useful way to track down a would-be TARDIS thief, for instance.

Or, in this case, someone who had very quickly made me aware of her true loyalties, and who was now calling for aid.

"Well, we're not heading for Republic City after all," I remarked to Katara. "And we might have some trouble at our destination. Be ready."

Katara nodded and went to the coat rack near the door. She picked up the belt loaded with bottles of water; the emergency supply so she wasn't held hostage to the environment's supply of water. I checked myself with a quick pat on my ribs to feel the sonic disruptor still on the sling inside my jacket. "All ready," I murmured, during which time I used the controls to feed the TARDIS remote's location into the system. One pull of the lever and several VWORPs later, we were stepping out of the TARDIS.

It looked like we were in either a ghost town or a mock-up portion of a larger city, given the taller buildings in the group. A slight wind picked up a bit of sand from the arid ground at our feet. I swept my eyes toward a metal tower in the middle of the town.

There was a figure tied to it.

I ran up to the tower. The captive turned her face toward me and seemed relieved. "You came!", she said.

I nodded. "That I did. So…" I pulled out the sonic screwdriver and worked to free her. "I'm taking it that Kuvira reneged on the dental plan, Zhu Li?"

Zhu Li didn't react to the joke. "Hurry! This is a test site!"

"A test site for what?", I asked. I looked toward the direction Zhu Li had been chained.

In the distance was a factory complex. Squad, nondescript buildings in the middle of a desert plain.

Zhu Li's wrists came from with a snap. I put the sonic up and pulled out my spyglass to zoom in on the sight I was looking at. "We've got to go!", Zhu Li insisted.

"Oh. I can see," I said. I found myself looking at Kuvira herself through the glass, and Bataar the Love-struck Brat, and… what appeared to be a very intimidating railroad siege cannon. "Kuvira's building siege cannons now?"

"It's a spirit energy weapon," Zhu Li answered. "And we've got to…"

A shadow loomed over our heads. We looked up and saw a flying bison move over us and come to a nearby landing. Opal jumped off of it in the company of Bolin. "So there you are," I called out.

"Oh, hey Doctor." Bolin ran up to us. "Can't talk right now, they're about to…"

I felt a shiver. Energy surged around me, a twist in my Time Lord senses that told me incredible amounts of dimensionally-dissonant energy was being focused and concentrated. "It's not possible," I muttered. "She couldn't have…. could she?"

I turned in time to see Kuvira's railroad gun fire.

Right at us.






My old drinking companion Winston has a saying. It regards the thrill of being shot at.

And yes, it is the Winston you're thinking about. The man had some good tastes. And terrible ones, admittedly.

But anyway, yes. Sometimes there is really nothing more exciting than being shot at and the other fellow missing.

The purple beam went over our heads and speared the mountainside behind us. As the beam passed by I could feel a sense of… wrongness, maybe? Well, maybe not wrongness, but the definite sensation of the energy's extradimensional nature.

And it can be terrifying to see how much energy you can draw from things with that quality.

The purple beam didn't just skewer the mountain, or destroy it. It left a massive hole, still glowing with molten material, clean through the mountain.

That sort of firepower, exhibited that sort of way… dangerous. Extraordinarily dangerous. All of the things that could go wrong.

"They… missed?", Katara said in a voice that was almost a squeak.

I picked up the spyglass and was treated to the sight of a rematch between Kuvira and Suyin on the cannon while her sons fought off the other Earth soldiers. "More like they were nudged, I suspect," I remarked. "Let's get over there."

Opal and Bolin returned to their sky bison while Zhu Li decided to join Katara in following me back to the TARDIS. Presumably she didn't care much for the smell of sky bison fur.

I went to the TARDIS controls and activated the flight mode. "Just what is that thing?!", I demanded.

"It uses spirit vines to power the blasts," she revealed. "Varrick was trying to find a way to use the vines to produce energy, but Kuvira's making them into a weapon."

I would have stopped to be horrified at the implications going through my head, but I had more important things to do. The TARDIS lifted up into the air, spinning about, and I flew her straight toward the gun. I accelerated her three-dimensional speed until the air wave caused by our movement was enough to knock over an entire rank of Earth Empire troops battering at the Beifong twins' defenses. I landed the TARDIS in front of the twins and stepped out to face the others. A sweep of my sonic disruptor sent them flying.

Suyin jumped free of the rail cannon's carriage, a bit battered but looking like she had mostly held her own. "Doctor, have you come to stop her?", she asked me.

"I've come to ask her what the bloody hell she thinks she's doing," I answered. "That weapon… I don't even know where to begin, Kuvira! It's like handing a toddler a nuclear warhead! Poor thing doesn't know what he's doing with it, just as you clearly haven't a bloody clue either!"

And yes, I know Kuvira wouldn't have a clue what a nuclear warhead was. But the analogy works.

Kuvira appraised me with that sort of reserved calm she loves to cultivate for her public persona. "I will use whatever means I need to secure the Earth Empire."

"Ah, see, there it is," I snapped. "Another one of those excuses you Humans always make when you're doing something stupid. Every time you fire that thing, you're drawing in extra-dimensional energy, and that sort of energy distorts the very fabric of space-time!"

"I'm afraid you and the Avatar have left me no choice, Doctor," Kuvira countered. "You've made it perfectly clear my Empire won't be secure until all of its enemies have been forced to submit."

I laughed at that. "Oh, so now we're getting to the gist of the matter, eh? Your Empire? So what's the plan, rule forever? What happens when you pass on?" I looked around. Opal was helping her mother stand up. Everyone else was watching, with the soldiers ready to attack at Kuvira's order. "Empires formed by force of personality and arms have a tendency to fall apart once their founder is out of the picture, and sometimes even before that. And when that happens, the Earth nation will be right back where it started! For their sake, Kuvira, stop this madness. Dismantle this bloody thing before it's too late!"

Kuvira's stoic expression curved into an intent frown. With one smooth move she gestured with her arm. I felt the ground come out from under me and had to jump backward to avoid getting being entrapped.

That led to a recommencement of hostilities. Or would have, rather, if a massive rumble hadn't sounded beneath our feet. A perfect circle of upraised earth sent all of Kuvira's men flying. We turned back toward the sky bison. Toph was standing beside her daughter. Toph grunted at me. "You could have warned me my statue would look terrible, you know."

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with it. At least they didn't muck things up like they did mine on Council Station," I retorted. "I think that's our cue." I looked to Bolin. "Get out of here, I'll meet up with you shortly."

"Right, Doctor," he replied, after which he went for the sky bison.

I returned to the TARDIS with Katara and Zhu Li. I didn't bother with flight. I didn't want to give Kuvira any temptations. I shifted us several miles away as a preliminary to our ultimate destination.

Several miles upwards, I'll add. As in orbit.

"What you said to her." Zhu Li looked at me. "How true was it?"

"Very," I answered. "Some very advanced cultures can handle using that sort of power source, but your world doesn't have nearly enough scientific advancement to properly use an energy tap like that. If she keeps firing that thing, it could cause a disaster."

"We should destroy it," Katara suggested. "There has to be a way."

"Destroying it is easy. Destroying it without detonating it with enough force to tear open a hole in space-time? Not so easy." I swallowed. "Especially with the Crack around. The disruptions caused by tapping the energy inside the vines can have a global impact, and that includes the Crack."

"It might re-open it?", Katara asked.

"Worse. It could re-open it and cause more dimensional space rifts to show up, depending on the power of the blast, the dimensional distortion patterns, a lot of other factors…" I shook my head. "First things first. You heard what she said. Anything she believes a threat to her control is going to be subdued." I looked to Zhu Li. "She's going to invade the Republic, isn't she?"

Zhu Li nodded. "The orders to her troops are already out. Kuvira intends to attack as soon as she's assured her weapon will work."

"Right. I think blasting a hole in a mountain counts." I nodded. "Well, we'd better go warn Raiko and the others." I finished putting in the new coordinates and pulled back on the activation lever. "After we pick up the Beifongs. Kuvira has airships and biplanes, so I'd rather not give her a tempting target with their sky bison."




After dropping Toph off near her swamp - my attempt at reverse psychology to get her to be more proactive proved fruitless and, just as important, rather painful - we were off to Republic City. And since we were on a long-scale ticking clock of sorts, I decided to do things directly.

I materialized the TARDIS in Raiko's office.

My arrival coincided with a briefing. Varrick and Asami were standing near Raiko, Tenzin off to the side, Korra was nearly between them, and Mako was by the door with a strangely-quiet Prince Wu near Mako. All had fixed their eyes on the TARDIS as it VWORPed in. I stepped out and nodded. "Hello everyone." I took a step to the side to let my passengers exit. Varrick's face went surprisingly-expressionless at seeing Zhu Li with us.

"Why is it you're always interrupting my important meetings?!", Raiko demanded.

"Bro, where have you been?", Mako asked.

"We, uh, went to save the Beifongs," Bolin confessed. The others stepped out behind him. Korra gave Su a hug and inquired as to her health in the time it took for Bolin to resume. "And we sort of found Kuvira's super spirit weapony thing, and she's going to invade Republic City, and we rescued Zhu Li who's back on our side but never actually left our side..." At about that point he ran out of breath.

"Bolin, do remember to breathe," I sighed.

Raiko leapt from his seat. "I knew she wouldn't be satisfied after Zaofu!"

"Yes, rather obvious," I remarked. "That whole 'reform all the Earth Kingdom into my personal empire playtoy' thing. The usual thing with conquerors."

Varrick finally showed an expression. A fairly sick one. "They completed it, didn't they?"

"You mean that spirit energy project you started?" I nodded. "Oh yes. She's got a big ol' cannon that fires spirit energy with sufficient power to melt through a mountain." I looked at him and shook my head. "Tampering with unstable extradimensional energy like that, what were you thinking?"

"Cheap energy. More than enough for Varritrains to move around at speeds never seen before," Varrick answered truthfully.

"You could have just asked," Asami said. "I've been making progress with the Arc Reactor technology."

"But where's the vision in that?"

"Nice vision," I conceded to Varrick. "But your world's technological understanding is still centuries away from being able to control taps like that properly. I mean, you've only gotten to transistor stage because of my work with Miss Sato, you're nowhere near the level of quantum computing and multi-threaded data control and analysis and all the other computing technology that can safely operate a dimensional tap. And now Kuvira's turned it into a weapon, which is even worse."

"I tried to stop her," Varrick said. "I destroyed all of my research."

"I saw. It explains the strange energy signature in the crater I found when trying to track down you and Bolin." I held up a hand. "Alright, well, this is already done. So, Kuvira has a cannon that fires extradimensionally-fueled energy that can level this city in a day's firing."

I'll give credit to Raiko. He looked at the three of us and asked, "What are your suggestions?"

"Come up with a plan to deal with that spirit weapon," I replied. "We've only got so much time to be ready for Kuvira."

"Well, we'd better get these hummingbird mechasuits flowing off the assembly line if she's coming so soon…."

"Hummingbird mechasuits?" I lifted an eyebrow. "Now this sounds interesting. Definitely useful for an air strike or something of that like. But we'll need something more..." I turned to face the window and nodded at Korra as I did so. "President Raiko, Miss Sato, can I have a detailed map of the city's electrical grid within the day? I might be able to come up with something." I looked to Asami. "Especially if you're ready to scale up the Arc Reactor sizes."

"The first large prototype is still testing," Asami answered.

"Testing... huh. That'll have to do, I think. Anyway, a layout of the city electrical grid, available power outputs, that sort of thing."

Korra spoke up at this point. "What about the evacuation?", she asked.

"Just a few families so far," Wu answered.

"People don't feel it's necessary to flee," Mako added. "And it's only voluntary."

"Yes. Rather Human instinct. Hold on to what you've got until it's too late." I made a "hrm" sound in contemplation.

"I'll handle that," Raiko said. "As of now, the evacuation is mandatory. Chief Beifong, please ready the police to begin the evacuation procedures."

"Yes sir."

"I've got a layout of the electrical grid in my main office's lab," Asami said. "We can get started there."




Night was falling on the city when I took a moment to step out and look upon the golden lights of the great metropolis. Asami was working with Varrick at their plant for the hummingbird suits. They were interesting little devices, certainly. I thought the initial models showed great promise and the small Starktech reactors they were being installed with would give them major advantages over the airships and biplanes Kuvira might use.

My own plans were shaping up well. I imagined I'd have the calculations quintuple-checked by the morning and have the plan ready to present to Raiko. But for now, a break was necessary.

"Hey."

I turned to the side of the building. Korra was putting an airbender flight stick away. "Not using the suit?", I asked.

"I didn't feel like changing into one just to come up here," she answered. "So where is Katara?"

"Helping Pema on Air Temple Island," I answered.

"Really? She always seemed to be so awkward around Tenzin and the family."

"She's feeling better these days."

"It sounds like it." Korra stepped up and looked out at the city beside me. "So. This is it."

"Yep," I answered. "All down to this."

"How bad is that spirit weapon?", Korra asked.

"Do you remember Kralak Prime?", I inquired.

Korra winced. "That bad, huh?"

"Worse." I shook my head. "And the Kralakians were abusing a standard hyperspace tap. And without a Crack in the vicinity."

"We've got to stop her," Korra insisted. "Do you think we could sabotage the weapon?"

"I'm working on something," I said. "It should create a field to neutralize the spirit vines. Or at the very least form a protective barrier to prevent that weapon from causing any space-time ripples that might re-open the Crack." I felt my expression darken. "You never know what could come through."

"Is something going on?"

"There's someone on the other ends of the Cracks, Korra. I've dealt with him on a couple of occasions. Whomever he, or maybe she, is.... they're very powerful. And smart." I frowned. "Quite possibly Time Lord smart."

Korra's expression turned concerned. "Someone as smart as you, but bad?"

"Something like that. They've been responsible for at least three, maybe more, extra-universal invasions so far. Whomever it is, they may even be the ones who helped Xuandi with the vortex manipulator." I leaned against the railing. The air was temperate and enjoyable and the wind smooth. More of a breeze. "And I'm not going to risk something nasty coming through that Crack. The last time was bad enough."

The initial reply was a nod.

For a moment we had silence. "How are you doing?", I asked. "Still having that trouble?"

"No," she replied. "I found someone to help me break my spiritual block. I can feel Raava again and go into the Spirit World."

"Ah? Who? One of the old Air Nomads we rescued? Jinora?"

"Zaheer."

I blinked at that. "Huh. Really?"

"Yeah." She nodded. "He's heard about Kuvira. I think he's regretting what he did now."

"He would." I drew in a sigh. "Poor, short-sighted man. He was so convinced he knew what people wanted. He never stopped to think that people like certainty as much as they want freedom, and that means every revolution runs the risk of someone riding up on a white horse. Napoleon, P'tiri'nach, and now Kuvira."

"He told me he talked to you."

"Ah." I breathed in a bit. "Did he tell you what we talked about?"

Korra gave me a look. "I didn't have to guess, Doctor. You threatened him over me."

"Yes," I admitted. "I did."

"Why?"

"Because... you're my friend. And he hurt you. A lot. I wanted it made clear to him what might happen if he dared to send more Red Lotus agents against you." I looked down the railing.

"I can fight my own battles," Korra insisted.

"Now, yes." I looked at her. "But at the time? They took you in your sickbed. When you were crippled and helpless. I wasn't going to risk the Red Lotus trying a third time. Your life was too important."

She didn't answer that initially. "You told me about how close you came to becoming something horrible. I don't want that to happen. Especially if you're doing it over me."

"I understand." I nodded. And I did. She was right. "So. Two weeks. Maybe."

"You think Kuvira will be here sooner than that?"

"I think Kuvira's already on her way," I replied. "She knows there's no hope of a surprise attack now. No point in waiting. She'll gather her forces, set up whatever method she's using to transport her new weapon, and be on her way." I turned back toward the lab. "I still have some things to do tonight, and tomorrow I'll be busy interviewing Zhu Li."

"I'd better get back to helping with the evacuation." Korra held out the staff and extended the glider parts.

"Then go by the factory and make sure Asami gets to bed. I need to see her and Zhu Li bright and early tomorrow."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-26 08:35pm

Asami was gracious enough to host the morning meeting and present breakfast. I sat with her and Zhu Li and looked over the layout of the Republic City power grid. "It's a good thing you got that reactor set up," I mused. "Because I think it will provide us with just enough power for what I need."

"What did you have in mind?"

"Zhu Li?" I looked toward her. She seemed a bit… out of it, I suppose? Deep in thought, certainly. "Zhu Li, I have some questions about the weapon."

That seemed to jolt her out enough to talk. I asked her a variety of technical questions about the spirit energy cannon and the possible platforms it would be mounted upon. The more information I had, the better off my plan would be.

"I was never told how it would be carried in battle," she answered. "But I'm sure it's not going to remain fixed to the rail. Kuvira needs line of sight."

"So that limits her options. Is it just an expensive terror weapon then?"

Zhu Li shook her head. "She seemed confident in flexibility. And she made it to be carried by road or rail."

"I see." I pondered the situation. "What about other weapon projects? Could she be building a carrier vehicle?"

"Maybe." Zhu Li adjusted her glasses. "She did strip the metal from the domes of Zaofu for a reason."

"Hrm…"

"What are you planning on doing, Doctor?", Asami inquired.

"A dimensional stabilization field," I answered. I pointed to points around the city I had marked. "We'll build emitters at these points and create a field that the gun… well, either it won't fire, or it can fire but with a reduction in power and none of the dimensional rippling that could re-open the Crack."

"I can get construction crews from Future Industries ready by the afternoon," Asami replied. "Just tell me what we're building."

I reached under the layout of the grid and pulled out a plan I'd drawn out over the course of the night. "Do you think your crews can manage something like this?"

Asami looked it over. "It looks like a radio tower. Yes, we can do this."

"The materials for the parts are…"

"...I'll bring it to Raiko for final approval, but he already set aside a lot of these materials for the hummingbirds," Asami answered. "I should have enough left over. I'll go make the arrangements."

"Good to know." I looked back to Zhu Li as Asami left to use the phone. "How many other surprises could Kuvira have for us? Do you know anything about her other weapon projects?"

"Bataar was responsible for organizing them," she answered. "Although he had to delegate once Kuvira had him take over Varrick's project. I remember meeting some of the other team leaders once. Doctor Laoshi, Doctor Zhengfu, Major Yimasi, a few others. I don't know what they did, though."

"Well, thank you anyway." I looked back to the electrical grid layout. "How are things going with Varrick?"

There was an edge in her voice when she asked, "What?"

"The hummingbirds," I continued. "Production going well?"

"Oh." A little pink appeared on her cheeks. "Well, yes. Several models are ready for flight. We just need pilots."

"I imagine Asami and General Iroh can provide for that." I scribbled down a technical note. "All right. I need to go put together a presentation for Raiko for this afternoon. We need this network up as soon as possible." I bid her adieu and went back to work.




Raiko was rather cooperative given our prior distaste for one another, authorizing my proposed system with only a few questions on the issues concerning them, and leaving me to begin the process of setting them up.

I was at a building on the northeastern area of the city to check the site when a sky bison swooped low over us. I recognized Kai as the "pilot", so to speak. He nodded and waved to Katara, who jumped off and joined me. "Evacuation going well?"

"As quickly as we can." She frowned. "There are a lot of rumors that Kuvira is going to put anyone who's not of Earth Kingdom descent into camps. So people are scared."

"Any trouble from her fan clubs?"

"Nothing yet. I'm not sure if they're turning against her or if they're evacuating in the other direction to join her."

"Hrm. Well, so long as they're out of our hair." I looked back to my surveying equipment and used it to test the distance to the last marker I'd placed. The way was clear. Just as I wanted. "Anything else?"

"If this doesn't work, shouldn't we go and get help?", Katara asked. "You have allies who are willing to."

I took a moment to think of my reaction to that. "I…." I sighed. "I don't know. Asking people to fight a war that's not theirs…"

"But you do it all the time," Katara pointed out. "You get involved in things that don't affect you because it's the right thing. If we had some of your allies along…"

"What? Every time? Dragging people who we've helped into other cosmos' fights?"

"You know they'd do it."

"Yes. Which is why I try not to ask." I sighed and looked to Katara. "I've had that temptation before. Plenty of times. But running off all the time to do it is… they deserve to have lives too. Not feel beholden to me to come running whenever I whistle. So I don't get in the habit. It's usually not necessary anyway. Always best to let the local people handle their problems. This is Korra's world to protect."

"And if she asks for the help?", Katara asked.

"Then that's different, I suppose." I put a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry about this. Once this field nullifies Kuvira's precious gun, she'll find she's over her head. And we win."

Katara didn't seem entirely convinced of how right I was, but she accepted my reason with a nod.

I found myself thinking back to Chichen Itza. The friends and allies i had brought to battle and seen bruised and battered. And we had been lucky there, so lucky, given the size of the enemy. And people had still died.

It can sound cool, I suppose, to get all of these people to show up to aid one another. But there were other concerns. After all, severe injury or death could have ripple effects in their own worlds. When I brought those allies to Chichen Itza, I did so because I had no other choice. Because the risk to their worlds was smaller than the very real risk to what would happen in Harry's own world without them.

...of course, I could say the same thing about picking up Companions like Liara, or even Korra and Asami.

I took in a breath and shook my head. I had work to do. Best not to dwell on those thoughts so much. Not with Kuvira and her army undoubtedly on their way in one way or another.




A week passed. The network of emitters was set up. The reactor tested. A city of millions evacuated into the countryside or across the sea.

I made sure of my part in that week. I knew Kuvira would be here before Zhu Li's proposed time.

We all met in Raiko's office for updates to the situation. While the more mundane statistics and facts were laid out to him, I saw Korra look impatient and urgent. It was unsurprising to me. And it foretold what she was likely to be arguing when Raiko finally recognized her.

"Fire Lord Izumi's forces will arrive in a week to help maintain our defenses," Raiko informed us. "She hopes that the possibility of a war with the Fire Nation will make Kuvira think twice."

"It'll play into her hands, probably," I remarked. "War with the old enemy, a chance to avenge the Hundred Years War, that sort of thing. Plus her irresistible need to control everything."

"I suppose it is too much to hope Kuvira won't make us fight," Tenzin sighed.

"Unlikely." I almost remarked about the wisdom of the assembled in supporting her in the first place, but I can be diplomatic too. I held my tongue. "The good news is that we'll have the field ready for testing by tomorrow afternoon."

"And what will this do?"

"Neutralize, or at least heavily degrade, Kuvira's weapon," I replied. "And prevent it from ripping open a Crack in space-time."

"Ah." Raiko accepted my explanation with the look of a man who found every word I spoke flying completely over his head.

"Why should we wait for her to bring the weapon here?", Korra asked. We turned to face her. "Why don't we go after it?"

"I don't want there to be any question of who started the war first," Raiko insisted.

"With all due respect, Mister President, Zaofu should be proof enough," Suyin protested. "Kuvira has to be stopped, and I don't want to see her ruin Republic City in the process. If the Avatar can take out her weapon first, maybe it'll discourage her."

"But I thought the Doctor said that if it wasn't done right, it could cause big trouble?", Bolin asked.

"It could." I looked to Korra. I could see the impatience gnawing at her. It was understandable. Nobody liked waiting for something like this, after all. "But I could have a suitable device ready by dawn. If you were able to get it to the spirit weapon and plant it on the firing mechanism, it would disable the cannon. Possibly irreparably."

"And then she just builds another one?", Raiko pointed out.

"Possibly. Hard to say. It might be beyond her resources to rebuild." I stood up. "Fine. I'll get the device ready and see Korra in the morning with anyone willing to join her in a little reconnaissance mission. Mister President?"

Raiko pondered it for a moment before nodding his assent.

"Yes," Korra said. "We won't let you down."

"See that you don't," Raiko answered.




I was out at Air Temple Island the following morning as dawn came over the mountains near the city. I stepped out of the TARDIS and found Mako, Bolin, and Opal with Korra. "Just the four of you?", I asked.

"We don't want to put too much weight on the bison," was the reply I was given. Korra stepped up to me. "But you can go if you want."

"Ordinarily I'd do so," I answered. "But I have work to do this morning with the last adjustments to the field and to see the results of it. See if I need to tweak anything."

"Good luck with it," she said.

"And good luck to your mission." I handed her a device. It was shaped like a rectangular cube with flashing lights on one end, and some control buttons on the other. "Set this up on the firing mechanism if you get the chance."

"We will."

I took the opportunity to give her a small hug. "Well then, don't let me keep you. Would be nice if we nipped this in the bud, but don't take foolish risks. What we really need is information, after all. Because I don't think Kuvira will be so predictable as to attack on a timetable."

"I promise we'll be careful," she pledged.

I stood and watched as Korra climbed onto the sky bison and they took off. I watched the beast climb into the air and move off toward the Republic City skyline.

Tenzin walked out of the nearby door in normal Air Nation robes. "Long ago I would have been worried about whether Korra could do something like this," he admitted to me. "But now I know I shouldn't be worried. She's not going to do something rash."

"Probably not. But it's still a risk, and I'd rather not take it." I looked into the dawn. "I had better get ready, we have that test later today. And we'll be needing that edge sooner than we expect, I think."

"Pema has breakfast ready."

"Ah? Already? Awfully kind of her…"




I don't always end up in the position of being worried about the former Companion and trusted friend off doing something dangerous. Usually I'm the one who's in danger, and that tends to focus the mind on the immediate issues.

But that's what happens when you spend the day giving out orders over the radio while pouring over data while your friends are the ones doing the dangerous things.

"All signs from the reactor are stable," one of the operators said, speaking over the antiquated phone lines to the actual engineers overseeing the plant.

"Good, good," I answered. I looked to Raiko and Lin. "We should be ready within the hour."

"I hope this works," Lin said with crossed arms.

"You and me both," I sighed. I walked to the window of the tower on Air Temple Island being used as an HQ. Tenzin was with a group of Air Nomads in the courtyard. I thought I recognized cranky old Phuntsok in their number. Undoubtedly here to discuss the situation. Across the bay the city was empty of activity, while the Bay and the waterways around Downtown were milling with United Forces ships.

I took out my spyglass and scanned. "That's not right," I muttered.

"What?", Lin asked.

"There's dimensional distortion in the air," I remarked. "Kuvira's weapon has been fired recently."

A dark look came over Raiko. "How recently?"

"An hour. Maybe less." I continued to scan the horizon and found one dot in it. One that I realized was an incoming sky bison. I zoomed in on it and saw it was Korra and her party returning. "Well, that's not good, I think," I muttered.

They flew up to the tower and Korra jumped out. "Kuvira's on her way!", she shouted.

I shook my head. Bugger, I hate being right.

"What?!", Raiko demanded. "I thought you said two weeks!", he shouted at Lin.

"Undoubtedly she decided to move up her timetable," I observed. "Nothing surprising there. As I've said repeatedly." I turned back to Korra. "What's her firing platform? A truck? A train? A network of airships?"

"It's a big mecha suit!", Bolin shouted. "Huge! The size of a skyscraper!"

"She has the cannon mounted on one of the arms," Korra confirmed.

I let out a groan. "Of course. Probably an upscaled modification of the other mechasuits. And the Zaofu domes for the raw materials. Fluid metal systems or something for controls, and Kuvira would have a deadly-accurate firing platform without any of the restrictions on firing line you get from the railroad carriage." I sighed. "Well, looks like our test is becoming a live field test. A good thing I prepared for that."

"I'll go join General Iroh," Korra offered.

"Yes." Raiko looked shaken and upset when he turned to me. "Is your system ready for real use?"

"The whole point of the test was to find that out." My mind raced. "I can't imagine any reason it wouldn't work though. I had a feeling Kuvira might come early so I made sure to do a lot of small-scale testing during the process." Still, the whole system hadn't been tested yet. Couldn't be until now...

"Good. Have it up by the time Kuvira arrives."

"Right." I picked up the radio receiver. "Reactor control, this is the Doctor. Change of plans, everyone. We have guests on the way and we need the reception ready for them should they behave in an unruly fashion." I reached over for the phone. "Katara, tell Asami and Varrick that we may need those suits this afternoon…"




We made what preparations we could.

I was watching with a spyglass when Kuvira's mechasuit stomped its way forward from the southeast, following the coastal reaches. She brought it to a stop. Several moments later her voice crackled over the radio. "This is Kuvira, ruler of the Earth Empire. In the name of my nation and the Empire, I demand the immediate surrender of the Republic."

Raiko picked up the microphone receiver for the radio. "General Kuvira, if you attack the Republic, you'll end up at war with the entire world."

"I'm not afraid of the world. Now that I have this weapon, nothing can face the Earth Empire."

"See, that's where you're wrong," I noted over the line. "I've given you chance after chance, Kuvira, to stop this. Final warning. Don't use that weapon. You could endanger this world just as Xuandi did."

"You''ll say anything to stand in my way, Doctor. You made that abundantly clear." Kuvira paused for a moment. "Remember that you left me no choice, President Raiko. I might have been lenient with you if you had submitted."

Through the spyglass I watched her raise the mecha's right arm. She was pointing toward the nearest ship in the bay.

"Are the emitters online!", I barked into the line. "Are they?!"

"We're online here, Doctor," the engineer on the other end replied. "The power is showing green."

Now all I could do was watch and see if it worked.

Purple light erupted from the cannon on Kuvira's colossus.

As it approached Republic City, the light suddenly dimmed, as if power was being drained from it. The beam itself started to shift about, resembling a child's attempt to scribble more than a coherent beam of energy, until what little was left harmlessly played itself against a distant street.

"It worked!", Raiko declared, shocked.

"Hahaha!" I let out a laugh. "Of course it worked! Dimensional stabilization shunting the extradimensional energy back into its proper domain! Elementary high energy cross-dimensional physics!"

Lin made a displeased "Hmph" sound. What can I say, it's not my fault people don't understand basic cross-dimensional physics principles.

I watched as Kuvira fired again. This time the beam didn't even stay coherent enough to scorch a street or a building. It fizzled out partway toward one of the big power transfer stations downtown.

I picked up the microphone. "We can do this all day, Kuvira. I told you before. You're messing with things you don't understand. I'm not letting you destroy your world with this technology."

She replied by firing again. The same result.

And then she just stood there. Her colossus and the army accompanying it. I watched through my spyglass and pondered. I suppose, in her position, I would have ordered the army forward and tried to have them eliminate the city's power grid.

Which is why I set up microwave emitters as a backup power transfer source, of course.

Instead she raised the other arm. The plates around the forearm slid back and revealed a field emitter of some sort. I admit I was gawking at it. I mumbled, "Just what toys are you playing with now?".

Because I was genuinely confused. Just what was that device, and what was she planning with it?

My spyglass' scanning featured showed the energy signature that came from it. I gawked in disbelief.

It was…. it was an energy disruptor.

An energy disruptor. Centuries beyond the technology of this world. Beyond even the Starktech Asami had been applying, or anything else I'd given her.

I was struck dumb. How the bloody hell did Kuvira get something like that…?!

Arcing electricity rippled over the city at several points. "Doctor, what's going on?!", Raiko demanded.

"Doctor! The entire system is overloading! The Arc Reactor's safeties are blowing out! We have to shut it down!"

The other arm of the Colossus came up once more. Kuvira's cannon fired.

This time, nothing diluted the deadly beam of purple energy. It speared one of the Republic warships in the bay and sliced it in half. From the island below the watching Air Nomads started to pull on wing suits or grab glider staves.

The cannon fired again. Another ship was blown away.

"Doctor, can't we do something?", Raiko asked me. "Your plan didn't work!"

"She overloaded the entire system," I said. "It would take days to replace everything!"

"Then..." Raiko's face turned grim. He looked out to where the pride of his nation's navy was sinking, helpless to return fire at a target far beyond their range. "I see. It appears I have no choice."

Lin stared at him. "President, you can't be serious...?!"

"What else can I do?", he said. There was resignation in his voice. "Nothing on this world can stop that weapon. Even the Fire Nation can't. Every moment I delay, more lives are lost."

As if to punctuate his point, another ship was destroyed.

Raiko took the radio microphone from me. I let him. He was right. There was no point in letting things continue at this point. And every time Kuvira fired that weapon, she was creating additional distortions. If she made enough...

I motioned to Lin to walk over to me. "We need a change in strategy," I said to her quietly. I picked up my TARDIS remote and summoned it to us. Once we were inside I immediately hit the keys to shift our location, or rather to lock on to another of the nearby temporal beacons.

Seconds after I materialized the TARDIS the door opened. Korra was standing with General Iroh. "What was that?!", Korra asked. "What did Kuvira do?!"

"An energy disruptor. Technology she should in no way have access to." I motioned for them to enter. "We're not done yet though. Come along, we need to regroup."

"You should go," Iroh said to Korra. "I need to stay at my post, or Kuvira may get suspicious."

Korra nodded in reply. "You're right. We'll be back for you." She stepped into the TARDIS and closed the door. We watched General Iroh saluting us as the door closed.

"Everyone else should be with Katara," I noted as I locked on to another temporal beacon. "Let's go."




Tenzin and his Air Nation contingent had the same idea we did. We all met at the warehouse where Asami and Varrick had been constructing their hummingbird mechasuits. "Doctor! Korra!" Asami came up and gave us each a hug, in the reverse order. "What happened? How did she do that?"

"Energy disruptor," I replied.

"But you never gave me that techno..." Asami stopped and paled. She realized what I had.

"Energy disruptor?" Bolin had the most amusing confused expression on his face. "What does that mean?"

"It disrupts energy, obviously," I remarked with a hint of sarcasm. Just a hint, mind you. Too much and it would have spoiled the good nature of the jibe. "To be precise, it's a very advanced piece of technology. Far too advanced to be from this world."

Opal caught on. "So it's like that time travel wristband that Xuandi used?"

"Exactly." I looked darkly toward the window, where Kuvira's Colossus stood in the distance. "We never found out how he knew to work the vortex manipulator. And now Kuvira's using technology not of this world. Technology I didn't introduce." I scowled at that thought.

The purported chessmaster on the other end of the Cracks. It sounded like their work.

Bolin's expression fell. "Great. So not only does Kuvira have that crazy weapon, a giant mechasuit, and an army, she's also carrying crazy magic weapons from another world. How are we supposed to beat that?" He glanced toward Asami. "What about that armor suit you have?"

"I could try," Asami offered.

"Not until we disable the energy disruptor," I answered. "Otherwise it'll overload your suit."

"Can't you shield it?", she asked.

I shook my head. "Not with anything that can fit on your armored suit. Not even the Mark 1."

"Right. And we'd still have to deal with the spirit weapon," Asami agreed. "Maybe we can cripple the suit." She looked toward Zhu Li. "Do you know anything about it?"

"I didn't even know it existed," Zhu Li insisted. "If it was something like this, Kuvira would have put Bataar in charge."

"Bataar the Bad, eh?" I "hmphed".

"The kid's a better inventor than I gave him credit for." Varrick frowned and raised a finger. "No one tell him I said that!"

"Kuvira's sending him to accept the surrender," Korra said. "If we can capture him and make him talk, maybe he can tell us what the weaknesses are on the mecha."

"Wait." Mako raised his hand. "We have the Doctor's ship. Why don't we use that to catch Kuvira by surprise? We could appear inside that mechasuit and destroy it from the inside."

"Ordinarily I would have already proposed that," I answered. "It was my idea for stage 2 of our anti-Kuvira plan. But now things are different. There's no telling where she got that energy disruptor, and if she has any more surprises like that..."

"You're thinking about what happened with the Cybermen?", Katara asked.

"Exactly. A field capable of not only repelling a TARDIS, but causing it to crash. If Kuvira's been given anything of the sort, even if it's just a passive defense to keep me from materializing inside her machine, then attempting to do so could cripple the TARDIS. And we can't afford that." I looked to Korra. "Your idea is the best one we've got."

Korra looked to Tenzin, who looked passive. "Tenzin, please. It's the only way."

"We're with you," he pledged. "All of us."

"Thank you." Korra turned to Asami and Varrick next. "Do you think we could have any of these mecha ready soon?"

"We'll need to get the United Forces pilots from across the street," Varrick pointed out. "But yeah."

"Doctor...?"

I knew what Korra was going to ask before she did. "You want something to disable the energy disruptor with. That machine I gave you for the spirit cannon won't work. But I might be able to whip up something in the TARDIS light enough for an Airbender. However, it will take multiple individual pieces to do it."

"Let us worry about putting them on the weapon," Tenzin said.

Korra nodded. "Great. Then as soon as we know the weaknesses of the suit, we can launch our attack." Korra reached for her glider staff. "Let's go get Bataar."




I went to work on a while Korra did her thing. There was no telling what else Kuvira had up her sleeve and if they'd be worth anything, but best to have means for whatever came, yes?

The fun began when they returned with Bataar.

He was rather riled up when we let the blindfold come off. "Kuvira will destroy the city for this," he said coldly. He looked around and a hint of confusion came to his expression. "Where am I? Where have you taken me?"

"Ah, that's right, you didn't get to ride before, just your girlfriend," I noted. I stretched a hand out toward my library. "Welcome to the TARDIS, Bataar. There are some people who want to talk to you."

Korra went first. The bad cop. A simple demand, and to back it up, the whole glowy eyed Avatar State thing and lifting him and the chair he was bound to with one arm. Yes, one arm, Korra fits the definition of an Amazonian build.

Bataar's reaction was to sneer and dismiss it as an empty threat. Korra let out a frustrated sound and set him down. "You've lost, but you don't even know it yet."

Suyin went next. And she was most genuine. She pleaded as a mother to a wayward son, begging him to return to the family. To leave the madness behind.

He had a most charming reply. "Kuvira is my family now." And then the usual claptrap about having the right to what properly belonged to them, how the Republic belonged to their Empire, blah blah.

I stayed out of the conversation mostly. But when Suyin pleaded to know why people had to die for what they wanted, his reply was a fairly petulant "It wouldn't have to cost any lives if you would all just surrender! All that Kuvira and I want is a united Earth Empire."

"Hrm, interesting," I said. I stepped into his line of sight. "So, you attack other people. Storm into their homes, blow up their buildings, and blame them for it because, well, why don't they just surrender? Put themselves on your mercy." I knelt down beside Suyin. "Tell me, Bataar, what usually happens to people who put themselves to the mercy of you and Kuvira? People like Varrick and Bolin. People like the Firebenders and Waterbenders in your camps."

"The Empire has to be united, we have to make sure that everyone understands their..."

"I am talking," I barked, interrupting his self-serving reply with some heat in my voice. "What happened to your mother? To your brothers and your father?"

"They tried to murder..."

"Your father and Huan were nowhere near that camp," I pointed out. "And she put them all in a bitty cage barely the size of my hot tub. Tell me, what would have happened to Bolin at that 're-education' camp? What would you and Kuvira do with Mako? Tenzin and his family? Asami? Korra? Oh, Korra's tricky, all four elements, Avatar State, that sort of thing. Way I heard it, the Earth Queen had her chained up in a straight jacket with a muzzle over her mouth. Is that how Kuvira would leave her to spend the rest of her life? Assuming she just didn't have her killed in an effort to get a nice Earth-born Avatar to be a loyal citizen of her Empire. Bit risky, that, given the passed down memories and all, but it would work in the short-term." I frowned and got close to him. "If you were in Korra's place, Bataar, would you surrender? Knowing what was in store for you?"

He was silent for a moment. I could see he was thinking. "You can travel worlds, right? Take them all to another one," Bataar insisted. "If you're not going to help us and our Empire, just leave us alone."

"Oh, I'm just supposed to run anyone who doesn't like you to another world, am I?" I clicked my tongue. "You two are awfully selfish. You see, most Humans, they try to live together. Tolerate little mistakes, et cetera. But you and Kuvira, you're too good for that. You've all got to live by your rules. Well, let's be honest... her rules. You left your mother to assert your independence, and here you are, the dutiful little servant boy again..."

"Kuvira and I love each other!," Bataar screamed in rage. Spittle came from his mouth from the ferocity of his words. "She is the world to me, and nothing you say will turn me against her! Nothing!"

"We've been going about this wrong." Korra stepped up beside me. "We won't hurt you if you don't talk. I'll do something even more painful to you." She leaned in toward him. "I'll take away the one thing you care for the most. Kuvira."

Bataar stared at her. He was evidently stunned. I saw the look in Korra's eyes and knew what she was getting at, so I backed away and prepared to do my part.

"Kuvira might win," Korra admitted. "She might chase us out of the city. She might even force us to flee to another world with the Doctor. But you won't be around to enjoy the victory. Because wherever I run, I'll take you. I'll make it my mission to keep you away from Kuvira. Forever."

Bataar Junior stared at her. Disbelief and growing realization at just what Korra was saying, and her ability to carry through with the threat. "You can't."

"I will." Korra smirked and looked at me. "It looks like we'll be traveling together again, Doctor. Any good ideas on where to go?"

"Oh, plenty," I answered, smirking back at her. "There were some places I never got around to showing you and Asami. Spire Albion. Kirkwall. Gravity Falls... we could spend decades exploring all sorts of worlds." I looked at Bataar. "Lifetimes even." I nodded at him. "Normally I reserve TARDIS rides for good girls and boys, Bataar Number Two, but if Korra asks, I'll make an exception for you. Just to ask, how fast can you run? Because that's important. We do a lot of running."

"A whole lot of running," Korra agreed, arms crossed and face curled into a playful little smirk.

I continued from that. "Best way not to get eaten. Or cyber-converted. Or painted up to be a human sacrifice to a dark god."

"Hey, that's not fair," Korra insisted. "Asami had a sprained ankle."

"Excuses, excuses," I retorted playfully. "It's not my fault you two decided on pretending to be servants in Giradda the Hutt's palace instead of going into the menagerie. Otherwise Asami's ankle would have been fine."

Korra rolled her eyes at me and turned her head away. "So." Korra focused her gaze on Bataar the Bad. "What's it going to be? Will you talk Kuvira into leaving the Republic alone? Or do we begin traveling with the Doctor?"

And from the look in his eyes, I knew we had him.




I had to keep the TARDIS hidden, so I materialized us near the warehouse and kept the stealth mode engaged. We hovered, invisible, the others still in the library while I was in the control room.

Bataar was sincere as he made his plea to her to accept the terms. He was, I have to admit, truly in love with Kuvira. And he cared for her far more than he did the Empire. He would rather give up a conquest to be with her than stay the course for their Empire.

The question that remained was simple. Did she care more for him than their Empire?

I had doubts.

So I kept my hands on the flight controls. Just in case, of course.

"The important thing is that we're together for the rest of our lives," Bataar insisted. At that point his plea stopped.

There was a silence. Kuvira's voice finally came back over the channel. "You're right. The Republic isn't worth sacrificing our lives together."

The hairs on my neck stood up on end. She was speaking calmly. Methodically. A hint of pained emotion.

"I love you, Bataar."

The line cut.

I could imagine Korra was taking the ropes off at this point. "As soon as we work out terms with Kuvira, we'll let you out of here."

I was already looking at the screen for the external monitor.

Kuvira was raising the Colossus' right arm. Left hand on the upper arm; obviously to stabilize the shot, as the spirit cannon was rotated into position.

"Oh bugger," I swore.

"Doctor?", Korra asked.

"She's shooting at us!", I shouted.

Disbelief was palpable in Bataar's voice. "No! She wouldn't!"

"She is!", I retorted as I shifted the TARDIS to the north. A purple beam ripped through the air right past us.

All I could think was... how was she tracking us?! The signal was being bounced off every radio antenna in the city and, for safe measure, off the bloody moon too. How could Kuvira have tracked the TARDIS?!

But I was a bit busy to give this much thought. Another purple blast scorched the air beside us. I jinked the TARDIS to take cover in Downtown Republic City. All that led to was one skyscraper getting its top floors bisected by a purple beam.

I pushed us even higher, trying to get us too high for her to aim. Somewhere orbital. At the least throw off her aim long enough to me to trigger the dematerialization cycle and shift us into the Time Vortex.

Kuvira fired again.

And this time, she didn't miss.

Sparks erupted from the TARDIS controls as the ship shook under me. Katara came running out of the library. "What's happening?!"

"We're hit!", I answered. "Just a glancing shot, but..."

And we rocked hard again and a new shower of sparks came.

"Direct hit that time!", I shouted, even as I fought to keep gravity online so we didn't end up falling toward the ceiling as the TARDIS plummeted.

Of course, gravity wouldn't matter much if the TARDIS took too many more hits. "Everyone secure yourselves!", I shouted into the comm system, ensuring my voice carried to the library, after which I gave up on the gravity and put everything into the engines.

And then it was just a matter of landing.

Or, more accurately, crashing in a way that wasn't too painful.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-28 05:43pm

Over time, I've gotten pretty good at crash-landing the TARDIS.

We came to a rest not far from Downtown. A rest aided by crashing into the side of a building. As soon as the shaking was over I picked myself up from the ground and looked to Katara. She rose gingerly at first, but seemed okay as she stood fully.

"Get everyone from the library," I instructed, and once Katara started on that I went to work on the controls. Self-repair was working. The stealth circuit could still be brought online too, for as much good as that did. I just had to hope Kuvira found us by exact tracing of my signal and not by being able to see the TARDIS with invisibility turned on.

"What happened?"

I looked up. Katara was returning with Korra and the others. Suyin was helping her sons hold their wayward big brother, who seemed the most shaken up. "How did she shoot at us?"

"I wish I knew, Korra," I answered. "The internal damage isn't too severe. It'll take a bit before I get full functionality back. For now the best I can do is this." I hit a couple of keys and pulled the lever.

We VWORPed back to the production office for the hummingbird mecha factory. A reunion with the others would be necessary to determine a strategy.




"Kuvira's troops are entering the city," Mako observed from where he was watching the window. "They'll be here soon."

Korra nodded and turned to me. "I'll take everyone I can and hold them off."

"All you'll be doing is making yourself a target for that Colossus," I pointed out. "Once Kuvira knows where we are, she'll destroy the entire block."

"So what are supposed to do?", Mako asked. Given his tone, it was almost a demand. "We can't just sit here!"

"I'm not asking you to. But first we need…" I sighed. "Give me a few minutes. I'm going to see how Suyin's doing with the prodigal son."

I left the room with Korra and the others and walked into the main assembly floor. A cot was laid out for Bataar Jr., who had his mother, well, mothering over him while Katara treated his injury. "How could she do this?", he muttered. The lad looked completely and utterly lost. "How could she…?"

"Kuvira is a… complicated person," Suyin answered delicately.

"We're running low on time," I remarked. "Bataar, what can you tell me about the giant metal thing you've got stomping about?"

"I designed it with input from Doctor Laoshi and others," he answered.

"What are its weaknesses?"

"None," he insisted. "We even put in devices to deal with you, Doctor."

"Really?" I pondered that a moment and then pulled a chair to sit near him and continue the interview. "That's a nice energy disruptor, for instance. I do wonder where you got that one. And the energy to power it."

"One of the research teams. Doctor Laoshi's, I think." Bataar shook his head. Tears were flowing from his eyes. "How could she? We were supposed to be together!"

I had no answer for that. "That technology is dangerous, Bataar," I said. "There's a Crack in the fabric of space-time under the city. Every time she fires that weapon, it increases the likelihood that the Crack will re-open. Or that other tears may form because of it. We need to stop her machine."

"You can't," Bataar insisted. "It has no weaknesses. We made sure of that."

"What if we hit it in the joints?"

"Plates protect the most vital points. And the energy disruptor will keep your mechas away from the Colossus."

"Right." I nodded to Katara. "The library, I left the devices the Air Nomads will need."

She nodded and ran in.

"Are you sure there aren't any weaknesses we can exploit?", Suyin asked. "Can't we metalbend any vital parts?"

"We have platinum lining every section. You would have to get inside. And the surface is platinum, so no metalbender could get in." Bataar looked at me. "We're supposed to have defenses against your ship, too."

"Oh really?" I folded my arms. "And how would you know what sort of devices could stop me."

"Kuvira was confident you couldn't. It was something from another research team, I wasn't involved." Bataar moaned. "How could this have happened? We were supposed to…"

I stepped away and looked to the others. "Well, I think we have our plan."

"Disable this energy disruptor device," Tenzin said. "And find a way to stop the mecha before it destroys the city."

"We can't metalbend our way in," Korra said. "Could Mako and I melt an opening?"

"With Kuvira watching?" I shook my head. "Doubtful."

"Then you should use plasma saws."

The new voice prompted us all to turn. Lin was standing in the doorway with an old man. Or at least an old-seeming man with white beard and hair. He had on simple clothing, basically a dull gray suit.

I noticed Asami go completely still. And that was the clue I needed, the only one I needed, as to whom it was. The scowl that appeared on Korra's face was hardly necessary.

Hiroshi Sato stepped ahead of Lin.

"Dad?", Asami asked, as if disbelieving what she was seeing.

"I got him out of the jail to help," Lin confirmed. "Right now we need all the geniuses we can get our hands on. The jail will still be there tomorrow if we win."

"Agreed," I murmured. But I knew it wouldn't be easy for any of the others. Hiroshi had been Amon's left hand man. His banker, his builder and inventor. He had gone so far as to try and kill Asami when she refused to side with the Equalist movement. Three and a half years might have dulled things a bit, but not that much.

"I know what you all must think of me. But I love Republic City and I will do anything to save her." As he said that last line, I could see his eye twitch toward Asami. Clearly he had more than one 'her' in mind.

Korra had her arms folded and looked fairly skeptical. "How can you help us?"

"The way to defeat this thing is to act like an infection. To get inside the skin and attack the vital organs. Without a heart or brain this beast cannot live." Hiroshi's voice was calm, though not without emotion, as he spoke. "As for getting inside, Future Industries has plasma saws for cutting platinum. If we put them on the mechasuits..."

"But the normal saws are too big, the suits will never get off the ground," Asami pointed out. "I had to use technology the Doctor brought to install a plasma cutter on my armor."

"I believe we can add an electrical element to the welding torch on your suits," Hiroshi stated. "It would convert it into a plasma saw. Then all we need to do is land on the giant and cut a hole big enough for the others to get in."

I nodded at that. "Feasible. And there will be plenty of power for the cutters with the small arc reactors powering them."

"Good idea, but we don't have a lot of electrical elements to spare," Varrick pointed out. "I can only fit out a couple of hummingbird suits with them."

"Plus my plasma cutter on the Mark III," Asami offered.

"But that's back at your mansion, right?", Korra asked.

"I moved the suits to the factory this morning," Asami replied. "Just in case."

"Excellent. Varrick, if you and Zhu Li can pilot one of the hummingbirds…" I looked to one of them. "...I can rig another one so I can pilot it and use the cutters on an automatic control."

"And what about me?", Hiroshi asked.

I turned from the others and stepped up to Hiroshi. "You help me and Asami get the second hummingbird set up. And then you get to work on other ways to deal with the problem." I leaned in and muttered something so low only he could hear.

Hiroshi looked from me to Asami. "Yes," he finally said.

"Good," she answered. I could see she still didn't know what to think about this.

Katara held up the box. "The devices you talked about, Doctor."

"Excellent." I took the box and held it toward Tenzin and Korra. "Remember, everyone, put these on that energy disruptor and press the button. We need to overload it."

"We'll do what we can to stop them," Korra pledged, taking the box. She left with Mako, Bolin, and the other benders. Outside calls went out to gather the remaining Airbenders.

With Katara joining Korra's group, that left me with a distraught Bataar Jr. on his cot and the technologically savvy non-benders. "Alright everyone," I mused. "Let's get to work."



The battle in the city raged while we worked. The might of some of the best benders in the world went up against the technological terror that Kuvira had constructed, and the fight… was not going well.

They did everything. Bolin's lavabending. The metalbenders' wires combined with powerful wind attacks from Korra and the airbenders. Paint on the cockpit windows. Kuvira's designers thwarted them in each case.

There was purpose to this futility, though, as it kept Kuvira from noticing the small devices accumulating on her energy disruptor arm. She continued instead to happily blaze away, scouring the city with purple light that destroyed homes and businesses and sent skyscrapers toppling.

It took the Beifongs and Bolin emulating this tactic to finally bring her down. The Earthbenders, working in tandem, dropped one, then another, of the skyscrapers near down-town upon Kuvira.

And all it did was make her trip for the moment.

But it bought the Airbenders the time they needed. Tenzin led the first flight descending on the left arm of Kuvira's mecha. The overload devices were quickly planted and turned on.

Kuvira's instruments probably helped to warn her of what was being done. She flailed the left arm and smashed it against the nearest building, knocking in the wall she struck. The other Airbenders got clear while the second wave dived in. Lin and Suyin jumped in and tried to restrain the left arm with cables.

It did them no good. The limb flailed. Most of those in the second wave had to veer off to avoid getting smacked.

"We just need a few more!", Korra insisted. She threw her arms back and shot into the air on plumes of flame. She caught the arm as it flew downward, fixed one of the overload triggers onto it, and then kicked off.

Right for the head of the mecha.

Kuvira had to swap her focus, using her hands to pursue Korra. This gave the Airbenders a chance to rally. They flew over the limb and placed their charges on it. This further divided Kuvira's attention enough that Korra slipped away successfully. She jumped out of the way of the metal hand grasping for her and made her way off the machine.

They were still one short. And that was where old Phuntsok came in.

He swooped down as the arm started rising again. Kuvira was trying to stand. She got back onto one foot, one knee still on the ground, when Phuntsok landed. He immediately placed the device on an open space along the disruptor and hit the key.

Kuvira had noticed him by then. Her reaction was to slam her left arm against the building again.

I'm told that Phuntsok could have gotten away. But only if he had barely touched the arm. He would have had to abandon the object of his run and jeopardize everything.

He didn't.

I can only imagine the pain on Jinora's face when she called out to the old master, the man who had once done everything he could to block her from gaining her mastery tattoos. She flew up and caught him as he plummeted from the point of impact. But it was too late. All she could do was bring his broken body to a safe landing.

It was also too late for Kuvira. The overload devices, detecting one another's presence, surged with power. The energy disruptor exploded in sparks.

The cost had been high, but the first step to defeating Kuvira had been taken.




Back in the warehouse I was busy within one of the hummingbird suits while Asami and Hiroshi spoke on the outside. It was a private conversation, so I won't repeat it verbatim. But it was one I was glad she was having with her father. After everything that had happened, everything he had done… family is still family for people, I think. He knew he'd been in the wrong. He admitted it. And it was clear to me that Hiroshi Sato loved his daughter.

It was equally clear that Asami loved her father just as much.

Being betrayed by the ones we love. That always hurts the most.

But even then, forgiveness is not impossible to find.

I finished the last connection, guaranteed the circuit was proper with a scan from the sonic screwdriver, and hauled myself out of the suit. Just in time to witness Varrick proposing to Zhu Li, I might add. Now that's going to be an interesting couple.

"Well, if everyone's done solidifying their relationship issues, paternal or otherwise," I began, "we should probably see if…."

There was a crackle over the nearby radio. I recognized Lin's voice over it. "The disruptor is down. I repeat, the disruptor is…"

"Lin, watch out…!"

The radio call broke out in static. "We'd better get out there," I said to the others. "Is everything…."

There was a great crash. We all ducked behind hummingbird suits to avoid getting showered with glass. When we looked up there were several of Kuvira's mechasuit soldiers standing in the new hole they had formed in the wall. "Surrender immediately," one of them demanded.

"I'm not the surrendering type," I countered, bringing out the good old sonic disruptor. I triggered Setting 7 - a rare one, but which would work well on mechasuits - and let them have it.

Feedback surged through the disruptor and threw me against the far wall. "Doctor!", Zhu Li called out.

"Asami, you know what to do!", I cried. "Varrick, Zhu Li, take off!" I forced myself back to my feet and frowned.

The mechasuits had deadlock seals. My sonics couldn't do anything to them.

"Oi! Uglies! Over here!" I held up the disruptor again and, just as they let loose with electrical discharges and flamethrowers, I jumped behind one of the spare hummingbirds. I kept going along the line, using the machines for cover. I had to keep them away from the retrofitted hummingbirds. And the others. We needed to get this part of the plan going before Kuvira overwhelmed everyone else with the power of her suit. Or before she blew a hole in the walls of reality. Bad outcomes either way, certainly.

A discharge of energy went over my head and blasted out the wall above me, pelting me with masonry. I shielded my head with my arms. A second later another discharge blew up the hummingbird I was behind. The defenses included in my jacket and suit protected me from serious injury, but I was still thrown clear into one of the hummingbirds of the next line. I forced myself to my feet and scrambled for cover again before another blast of blue-white energy claimed that one.

Energy weapons. Kuvira's mechasuits had energy weapons.

And yes, I know that technically flamethrowers and lightning stun blasters can be called such, but this was clearly not either. Excited particles, I thought.

Just what was Kuvira fielding now?!

Another blast caught me from behind and sent me clear past the hummingbirds. I was now in the open. Nothing to hide behind. My 'bird was too far away, although I could note with satisfaction that Varrick and Zhu Li had made it out in theirs. That just left me. Alone. With four mechasuits I couldn't damage.

Well, no, that's not true.

I wasn't alone.

Twin blasts of energy from behind me slammed into one of the mechasuits and knocked it out of the building. Asami came flying in wearing her Mark III suit, repulsors flaring yet again and knocking out a second mechasuit. The other two fired at her, but she was already airborne and they missed. She landed on the third, knocking the machine on its back, and focused her disruptors on the cockpit until the pilot jettisoned out of the back.

The fourth shot her and sent her flying. She plowed into one of the remaining hummingbirds with enough force to crush the side and wings. It would never fly now. I called out to her as her attacker took another step toward her.

This time she fired the chest beam, fed directly from the arc reactor set within the chestpiece. The blast threw the attacking mechasuit backward. She jumped up with repulsor aid and brought a fist down on the machine.

By the time she had driven her opponent out of his machine, I was getting to my hummingbird. It was still intact, thankfully. I climbed in and gave her a thumb's up before I closed the cockpit. She nodded and took to the air. Asami would stand watch as I finalized the control checks and lifted off.

I raced through them and gently triggered the engine. The mecha was a finicky one. The controls for flight were very delicate. But it was nothing beyond me. I carefully maneuvered around a fallen mechasuit, then a gutted hummingbird, and soon gained altitude.

As I did, a purple beam cut across the skyline, slicing the top off of two skyscrapers cleanly.

"Well, here we go," I muttered. "Time to see if I should have brought a slingshot too."




Kuvira was continuing what I can only describe as a rampage. Maybe it was with the goal of wiping out anyone fighting her, or maybe it was to get back at us for putting her in a position to lose Bataar. Either way, she had cut a swath of destruction through Republic City and had already made it nearly to Downtown, near one of the canals crossing the area.

Varrick's hummingbird was ahead of mine as we moved in. Kuvira was tangled for the moment in more of the Beifongs' cable. She brought an arm down to run the purple beam across the ground, ripping up road and earth beneath and causing some of the street to fall into the sewer level below. This act freed her to continue moving.

Of course, we were approaching her in the open sky on a bright day, so she saw us coming. Kuvira's cannon arm swung to meet us. I shifted the piloting controls and jinked to my right and upward, evading the shot as Varrick also managed. Varrick swung around to the back of the machine. Going for that spot on the back most humanoids have trouble with.

I decided to give him an opening by swooping down toward the left thigh. Kuvira noticed my movement and sent the left arm after me. I jinked and twisted to avoid getting splattered like the proverbial mosquito. By the time I regained enough control, I watched her right arm going for Varrick. Brilliant Bataar, the boy had thought of everything it seemed.

We began to skitter about, looking for an opening to go after Kuvira's machine while she swung her limbs in defiance of us. Her machine rocked a little as a full power repulsor blast hit it in the neck area. Asami zoomed up toward the cockpit and fired the chest beam at full power.

Whatever the cockpit was made of, it was something not normal to this world. That I knew as soon as I watched the repulsor energy slough off like water striking a shield.

Still, Asami had gained her attention. Varrick and I went for the legs. We had to mind the flailing. I latched onto the left leg, just a bit above the knee, and used a button to activate the plasma cutters. Without a co-pilot I had to trust my rigged auto-guidance cutters to do the work I needed. I glanced across to see Varrick and Zhu Li doing the same thing on the right leg.

There was a flare of light above. Asami was having to back off with Kuvira's arms flailing at her. "We just need a few more moments," I urged. "Just a few..."

There was a popping sound. A crackle. And the plasma cutters exploded violently.

"Bloody hell!" I grabbed the controls, but it was no good. A feedback through the cutters was blowing out all of my control systems.

I was completely helpless.

"Where is she getting these things?!", I growled to myself while I hit the ejection switch. The back of the hummingbird blew away and my seat popped backward, throwing me out into the air. I had time as I fell to watch the hummingbird's arc reactor explode.

A moment later, Varrick's did as well. I looked over and saw that he and Zhu Li had also gotten to safety.

Kuvira's arm flailed toward me. The left one, that is. It missed me, thankfully.

But it didn't miss my parachute.

Suddenly I was on a fun ride. If you could call being spun around by a 25 story death machine like you're a bloody yo-yo "fun", that is. The world spun around violently, over and over. Kuvira was punching at Asami, and I was being pulled along for the ride.

Finally the harness couldn't take it anymore. It snapped and I flew free.

From almost twenty stories up.

My limbs were cartwheeling as I spun about in mid-air. If I had been going straight down, I could have had just enough time, maybe, to soften my fall with the disruptor's kinetic setting. But there was no chance of that with the way I was spinning around.

But suddenly I wasn't spinning. Something grabbed me from mid-air. I saw and felt the heat of flames as I was bounced from the nearby building and then to the ground. My head was so groggy that I didn't even see my rescuer. "Korra?", I groaned.

There was a blinking motion. I finally focused on a pair of amber eyes looking down at me. "Uh, no," answered Mako.

"Ah, Mako. Good lad. Good lad. Whew." I tried to stand and failed. Not surprisingly given how much I was spun about. Mako grabbed me to keep me steady. "I don't recommend the ride."

"Doctor!" Korra and Katara ran up with some of the others. "What's wrong? Why didn't it work?"

"Some sort of defensive system," I said. I blinked and tried to keep the world from spinning. My hand was on my forehead. "The plasma cutters triggered a feedback pulse. Blew out the systems."

"So what do we do now?!"

The fear in Bolin's voice was truly real. And it may have helped me think it through. "As... Asami can still do it," I said. "We just need to immobilize Kuvira."

"Won't the same thing happen to her?", Mako asked.

I shook my head. Which was a mistake. "No. Her plasma cutter is pure Stark technology. All she has to do is set it to pulsing, then it won't trigger enough of a reaction in the defensive systems."

Korra nodded and looked back to them. "Okay, we need to distract Kuvira so Asami can make her run. We..." Korra's eyes moved enough that she looked intently at the canal.

Katara had the same idea. "I'll extend the water to you," she said.

Korra nodded back. They moved to get into position. I reached for my sonic and held it toward where Asami was trying to dodge everything Kuvira was sending at her. The sonic transmitted a simple beeping to her systems. She would know we needed to speak.

Yes, I should have had a radio. Blast it.

At Katara's command water surged from the canal in a great wave. Korra took control of that wave and channeled it upward over the Colossus in two jets that quickly solidified into ice, sticking Kuvira's suit in place.

Asami landed beside us. "Doctor?"

I nodded. "Asami, your plasma cutter. Set it to pulse mode. It should be able to cut through without triggering the feedback that destroyed the 'birds. Korra and Katara will keep it frozen in place for you!"

Asami nodded and turned away. Her repulsors fired and she was heading right back into the sky, brilliant against the faint red and orange of the growing twilight.

Korra was leaving the half-opened gap on the right leg for Asami to cut into. She hovered in place over the gap. We were close enough that I could see her suit's left fore-arm open up. A beam of pure white came from it and began slicing into the gap.

Kuvira's suit trembled. The ice cracked, and Korra flowed more onto it, concentrating on the cannon arm that was ready to come down on Asami if it got free.

Could it hold? Ice could be strong. But the power behind that arm could be even stronger. The cracks in the ice holding it were growing faster than Korra could cover them. Ice fell away faster than she could replace it. I watched her movements grow more frantic. One could only imagine her growing horror. The realization that if she didn't stop Kuvira, her machine would crush Asami flat.

And the entire time Asami continued cutting. She didn't make contact with the skin of the mechasuit. It could have other defensive mechanisms, after all. She kept her place in mid-air using her repulsors and acted like she wasn't about to be squashed like a bug.

"No," I breathed. Korra's frantic bending became panicked, but she and Katara could only get so much water, and it barely had time to freeze before the crushing power of the engine masquerading as muscle shattered it.

"We've got to do something," Mako insisted. "Maybe..."

And then there was another streak of repulsor light in the air. Another figure flew into position between Asami and the hand.

Her Mark II suit.

I didn't have to guess who was in it. "Hiroshi," I breathed. He'd followed through on my suggestion.

I wasn't close enough to hear myself. All I know is that Asami realized her father was the one shielding her now, as she made the final cut. She knew what he had just done. The Mark II suit couldn't hold back that arm, not at full power, not even with Korra's frantic efforts to keep it frozen.

I could hear the conversation in my hearts though. It wasn't hard to imagine.

"Dad, what are you doing?"

"Goodbye Asami. I love you."

The last of Korra's ice failed. Water gushed to other side as the arm plowed through it before Korra's bending could freeze it.

The leg of the Mark II kicked out. Asami was knocked away. She cartwheeled in mid-air for a second before righting herself.

We all heard it.

"DAD!"

There was a terrible sound of crunching metal.

The hand of Kuvira's Colossus came away from the spot.

And a battered, broken form fell to the ground.

It left behind a wound in the Colossus. A meter or so wide, at least. More than enough room for a number of us to enter the machine.

A number of us ran up to join Korra and Katara. I could see the intense look in Korra's face. "Hiroshi did it," she said. "There's our opening."

There was no need to nod in agreement. "I'll keep the way open," Katara pledged. "Go!"

I swallowed at that. With all of us inside the machine, Katara and Asami would be out here alone, exposed to Kuvira's wrath. "Be safe," I insisted, even as I felt Suyin's arm wrap around my waist.

I didn't get to hear her respond before Suyin yanked me into the air. Mako followed behind us on a jet of flame. Korra used a funnel cloud to climb up to the leg and Lin carried Bolin. We landed on the knee.

Above us was the sound of the suit's engines pulling the right arm. Kuvira was bringing the hand up to crush us too.

Water shot up from the ground in a solid jet and froze to ice as it struck the hand. Katara was shielding us with everything she had. Above us Asami's repulsors were flaring to life again, joining Katara's efforts in trying to push back the metal hand. To give us time.

We all raced for the opening while droplets of melting ice fell around us. I hopped in right after Mako got to the opening. We landed on what passed for the bone of the leg, or rather the outside of it, with a faint red ladder that went up the side. A flashing red light above us reminded me of a submersible ship undergoing an alarm, while pipes carrying wires or hydraulic fluid circled around the shaft.

Korra jumped in with us just as there was a loud metal clang, so loud that it rattled my eardrums. The hand of the Colossus was now covering our entry point.

"I don't think we have the element of surprise," I noted. "Did Bataar say how many crew this giant had?"

"A dozen, maybe less," Suyin guessed.

"So we're outnumbered as well. But with the advantage of knowing where we need to go."

Before we could discuss anything else, the ground shifted beneath us. Through the hole we could see that Kuvira was using a grip on a nearby building to straighten the giant up after it had been shaken by the blasts of water Korra and Katara had unleashed on it. Everyone grabbed a handhold somewhere. I ended up having the grab Lin's hand so I didn't end up falling out of the hole. Given all the effort it took to get here, that would have been embarrassing.

"We need to move fast," Korra said. "Su, Lin, climb up to the arm and try to disable that weapon. Mako, Bolin, take the Doctor and see if you can power this thing down."

"Do you still have that device I gave you this morning?", I asked. "Back when it was just a scouting mission and not a fight for the city?"

Korra felt into her belt. After a moment she pulled same device out. It was surprisingly intact given the day's hard fighting.

"Thank you." I held out my hand and she gave it to me. "I'll be needing this so that we don't rip a hole in the dimensions of reality when we mess with the power core."

"And what if we have to set off the ammunition for the gun?", Lin asked. "You were pretty worried about that too."

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a second device. It was more rectangular than the first and far shabbier. "I had to slap it together in what little time we had, so it doesn't work as well. But attach it to the ammunition feed and it should be able to dampen the resulting energy to make it less risky."

Suyin took the machine. "Okay."

"Korra, what are you going to do?", Mako asked.

"I'm going after Kuvira," she answered.

"Good luck with that," I said supportively.

Suyin nodded. "Good luck, Avatar."

Bolin and Mako each looked to me and then to the ladder. "Well," I said. "Come along, and look on the bright side. Less running than is my usual."

We began to climb the available ladders. The Beifong sisters used their cables to ascend ahead of us.

It was time to end this. And then, if I could manage it, to get some very pointed questions the answers they so sorely needed.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-28 05:45pm

With sonic screwdriver in hand I guided the brothers through the spaces of the Colossus.

We were moving across the base of the stomach when we ran into a pair of the crew. They were metalbenders and demonstrated this capability by slinging pieces of razor-sharp metal plate at us. I got the sonic disruptor up in time to deflect those shots. Mako kicked off the wall and made an impressive mid-air flaming kick that knocked one of them backward with the resulting fireball.

Bolin pulled out a piece of rock. With a moment's concentration he heated it into lava and formed it into a spinning disc that looped up over my deflector and forced his opponent to drop to avoid getting lava to the face. Without the threat they had posed, I switched the sonic disruptor to Setting 21 and disabled them both. "That was bracing," I remarked flippantly while Bolin cooled his lava weapon back down to normal temperature.

Mako moved ahead and looked up a nearby hatch leading to stairs going up. "I think the core is up there," he said.

I held up the sonic screwdriver. "It appears to be."

"Well, yeah." Bolin pointed to a nearby sign. It read "Power Core Chamber", with a helpful arrow pointing up.

"Huh." I pocketed the sonic. "That was helpful."

Bolin led the way through the hatch. We were in the bottom of the core chamber. A purple glow already shined above us from where the core was operating, little electrical discharges in the air about the central platform near were we were walking. First thhere was a ladder, then we went up a flight of metal stairs and toward a ladder leading up to the control floor. Bolin got on that ladder first. I let Mako go up next and I took up the rear so I could shield us in the event of an attack from below. We scaled the ladder at about the same pace until we reached a sealed hatch. With Mako in position to support him, Bolin freed a hand from the ladder and used it to turn his cooled disc of rock back into lava. He used it like a saw, causing it to spin and cut through the metal of the hatch above. And quite a bit quicker than my sonic would have magnetically unsealed the hatch.

Once it was popped open we went up in order. The chamber one of the largest open spaces in the Colossus. It had to be. In the middle of the chamber was a mass of spirit vines with an active electrical charge surging from them and into plug connectors at the top of the chamber. On top of the yellow charge circulating there, purple arcs covered the spherical mass of vines.

But it was what was attached to the plugs above me that really drew my attention. "Power magnifiers," I murmured.

"What?", whispered Bolin.

I was still staring upward. "Power magnifiers," I repeated. "That's how she could power the energy disruptor. And the defensive feedback circuit on the skin." I shook my head. "It utilizes pocket micro-universes to amp up energy outputs. This technology isn't just centuries ahead of your world, it's millennia."

I swallowed. This technology wasn't just more advanced than their world. It was a sort of technology only a few species might ever bother developing. Power magnifiers, after all, are only really useful in select circumstances. A species advanced enough to use them can also usually make sufficiently-powerful energy sources at those sizes that would mean they didn't need the magnifiers at all.

I would need scans to confirm what I was worried about. I lifted my sonic and...

"Hey!"

The voice prompted the brothers to get down to the business of fighting the two attendants in the room. We couldn't even see their faces; they were wearing the gas-mask like helmets of the Earth Empire. Always good for reducing individuality, things like that.

I took cover behind a vertical pipe in the room before metal blades could cut into my face. To either side of me the brothers went to work on fighting their adversaries. Mako put those years of pro-bending training to good use, advancing on his opponent and forcing the metalbender onto the defensive. The other fellow found himself using his metal blades as a shield instead of a weapon as fireball after fireball slammed into him.

Bolin was behind cover, the same as me. Our attacker was sending his metal blades at a steady rate to keep us pinned in. "So what do we do now?", Bolin asked.

I reached into my jacket for the dampening device. It would still work, but what worried me was the magnifiers. "If I cut off the core's charge straight away, the energy regulators on those power magnifiers might go out of sync," I explained to him. "And the magnifiers would... well, they would explode. And it would be nasty."

"So what do we do?"

"Get to those levers," I said. Loudly. Mako needed to hear this, and it didn't do our foes much good to hear it anyway. "The shutdown sequence should safely disengage the magnifiers. Bataar said they have to be disengaged simultaneously."

"Got that Mako?!"

"Busy here, bro," Mako replied, in the middle of a flurry of fire-punches to keep his opponent on his backfoot. "Got it."

"Right." I held up the sonic disruptor. "I'll give you an opening."

After another set of metal blades flew by I moved out with the disruptor's deflector field ahead of me to stop the blades coming next. They clanged off wildly into varying directions.

The metalbender ahead of me began to recover them. I got to a knee and lowered myself. Bolin's feet impacted on my back. He jumped over me, landed, and I was looking up in time to see him slam into the metalbender he was fighting.

Across from us, Mako grappled with his opponent and slammed him to the ground. The metalbender went limp.

"Alright! There we go!", I shouted. I held out the dampener. "Shut her down and I'll deal with the core!"

I heard affirmations from the two brothers. Three years and they were still as synced as ever; they pulled the levers at the exact same moment.

Nothing happened.

Bolin looked at me. "What's wrong? Why didn't it work?"

"The shutdown sequence has been disabled," I muttered. "Kuvira." I started looking around and felt my mind race. "I've got to disable those power magnifiers before we shut down the core." I started looking around for handholds. I found a set of rungs in the wall that went up to the plugs and the attached magnifiers. I climbed as fast as I could. My muscles burned a little by the time I got to the top and pulled out the sonic screwdriver. I crawled along, just outside of the running current. The hairs on my neck stood up.

Metalbenders took that moment to appear at the hatch. "Look out!", I shouted. Mako and Bolin turned toward the threat while I remained in that oh-so-exposed position at the top. The first metalbender up jumped up and out of the way, allowing the second to rise and throw a metal plate at me. I shifted myself so that it only sliced along the side of my jacket. Molly Carpenter's defensive enchantments caught the sharp end and deflected it. I barely felt the result.

The metalbender in question was forced to bring up a shield to block Bolin's lava disc while his comrade was fighting his way toward Mako.

Now, I know you lot are interested in this sort of thing. Magic kung fu stuff, I mean. But I'm afraid I wasn't particularly observant of the fight. I was sort of busy laying within twenty or so centimeters of a powerful electric arc that would have fried me if I got too close.

I used the sonic to pull the plate off the magnifier and expose its internal controls. It was set up to accept manual inputs - a concession to the technological level of the Earth Empire, no doubt - and I ran my fingers along them. "Really? A sluice effect for shunting the excess... whoever made this is either mad or diabolically brilliant. Hrm...." I started to mumble to myself as I worked my way through the system. All of the safeguards and override set-ups and regulators for the power flow, there had to be something I could.... oh yes, there we are.

Well. A solution. Not optimal, certainly. Especially not for me. But certainly a solution...

"How's it going up there, Doctor?!", Mako asked.

"Good news is, I can disable them both from here!"

"Bad news?"

I sighed. "Odds are that energy will pulse out briefly, and I'll be right in the middle of it!" I looked down. If I jumped down, I'd land on the core. And be electrocuted on the spot.

Looking down gave me the sight of Bolin grappling his enemy and throwing the metalbender toward Mako, who caught him with a clothesline punch. "Drop down!", Mako urged. "I'll catch you!"

Well, that was it then. I drew in a breath. "I've got to invest in rocket boots," I mumbled. "Yeah, something like that. Nothing fancy, just for a quick mid-air hop." The sonic screwdriver whirred happily as I played it over the controls, triggering the effect I'd had in mind.

The lights on the panels flipped to red. The extra-dimensional energy channels closed.

I rolled and dropped myself from the plug just as electricity arced violently over the magnifiers.

For the second time a mid-air descent was interrupted by a jarring impact. Mako jumped up, flames trailing from his feet and a free hand. He caught me and let me get an arm over his shoulders as we drew ever closer to that deadly purple ball of vine masquerading as yarn.

His other hand came up and fire leapt out and surged into the vines. It didn't do them much, but it did cause the power to arc. It also provided the necessary thrust to send us flying back to safety. And into a wall. Painfully, I'll add.

Bolin rushed over and helped us stand up. Or rather helped Mako stand up, as I got to my feet before he was done. I reached back into my jacket pocket and pulled out the dampener. "Here we go!", I called out.

I threw it onto the core. The energy the core was putting out auto-activated the device. Blue energy surged from it.

But the core didn't stop crackling with energy.

The dampener wasn't working.




Now I know what you're wondering. What happened to the others?

Allow me to take the moment to cover that. Yes, I know, horrible time to leave you hanging with my little gadget not doing its job. But it wouldn't be fair to ignore the others' contributions, would it?

The first and most obvious case of importance was Asami and Katara. The Airbenders were out of the fight now, as were the Beifong twins, leaving just those two against the might of the Colossus. Katara slid around on an ice slide she was actively bending for herself to avoid a blast from Kuvira's weapon. Asami corkscrewed in the air to avoid the same blast. She fired a shoulder-pack of missiles at the gun. Kuvira twisted as the missiles came in and shielded her spirit cannon with the right arm of her Colossus.

Katara slid to a stop at a spot along the canal and turned back around. She concentrated all of her strength into one push, bending a massive jet of the canal's waters at the head cockpit of Kuvira's machine, which she shifted into ice.

But it was just her, on her last reserves of physical energy, and even Katara's power couldn't bend that much water with enough velocity to knock Kuvira over or the like. Katara slumped down and stopped moving while Kuvira again fought her way free of the ice, ignoring the blasts from Asami's weapons as she did. The armor of the Colossus was still holding against Asami's weapons.

Kuvira twisted the Colossus to face Katara. She brought the cannon over to face Katara as she tried to recover from her exertions. Asami saw this in just the nick of time, thankfully. "Katara!" She flew at full speed and yanked Katara up just as the blast fired. Kuvira tracked the beam, trying to get them both, but Asami banked away enough to avoid the shot.

Then a second shot fired. Asami maneuvered sharply, but having to hold Katara kept her from using all four repulsors for speed or maneuver, and this time she was hit. Not by the beam, not at all. Thankfully. Rather, by debris thrown clear from a building speared by the same purple beam. It slammed into Asami and she lost control. She had just enough control left to twist and take the brunt of a rough landing on her back instead of on a nigh-unconscious Katara.

The impact wasn't pleasant, though. It took the wind out of Asami and left both of them lying prone at the end of a furrow dug into the asphalt. Sitting ducks for Kuvira and her cannon, which tracked them and prepared to fire once again.




Su and Lin wound up in the right shoulder of the Colossus. They hoisted themselves up into the cylindrical tunnel joining the shoulder to the arm and faced the ammunition feed.

They could feel the metal flying, and Lin moved just in time to pull a sheet of metal off the wall and use it to deflect the plates thrown by a metalbender behind them. "I'll deal with this guy, you stop the weapon!", she shouted before jumping down to face the Earth Empire soldier. Lin used her suit's plentiful supply of metal to bend two parrying blades onto each of her wrists. She used that to deflect the incoming plates from her opponent before going on the attack, forcing him to jump over her as her cables shot out to seize him. He pulled a protective plate off the central pillar at the top of the shoulder and tried to use it on Lin. She caught it with her own power and kicked it off to the side.

Suyin turned back to the ammunition feed. She pulled out the device I'd handed her. A press of a button turned it on and it lit up green. Suyin pulled her arm back and threw it onto the ammunition feed for the cannon. It latched on and began beeping, generating a dampening field that I believed, or at least hoped, would prevent any issues with the Crack. With that task done, Suyin reached out with her metalbending and yanked the ammunition feed chain out of the mechanism. The chain, and all of the spirit vine cartridges attached, plummeted down the arm. At the base of the arm purple energy surged back up in an explosion. Suyin made a jump to the safety of the connector tunnel.

After she picked herself up, Lin jumped up beside her again. With a smile on her face, Lin complimented her younger sister. "Nice work."

Suyin nodded and smiled back. "The outside may be platinum, but we can do a lot of damage in here."

The Beifong sisters promptly went to work.




Kuvira had just been about to fire on Asami and Katara when the weapon stopped responding to the commands of her crew. "Sir, there's a malfunction in the loading mechanism," the officer reported. "We're unable to fire."

"It's no malfunction." I can imagine that veneer of control starting to slip even then. "There's someone metalbending inside of the arm." She moved her arms, using the controls to try to lift the right arm. It flopped helplessly to the side. A puppet arm with the string cut. "I've lost the connection. The weapon is useless now."

Kuvira bent the left arm controls and used them to grab the dead right arm. As it turns out, her machine was quite easily capable of ripping off one of its own arms, as it proceeded to do. She ripped the arm clean-out, taking the Beifongs with it. Fast thinking by Lin led to her bending a band of metal over herself and Suyin, ensuring a bone-jarring ride to the ground but not falling out to go splat.

Not knowing or caring about this, Kuvira threw the arm away toward the Spirit Wilds. The arm itself slammed into a building and fell to the street, but the weapon continued onward until it came to a landing within the Wilds.

And I hope you paid attention to that. Important plot point, everyone.

Well and truly angered at this point, Kuvira turned her attention back to Katara and Asami, who were still out of it from the crash landing.

That was when there was a strong pounding at the hatch. Kuvira turned toward it in time for Korra to slam her way through on a plume of fire. She kicked in both directions with her legs and sent powerful cyclones of air into Kuvira's officers, knocking them both out for the count. She flipped over Kuvira and landed. Kuvira dodged a pair of fireballs and swept her arm across her controls. The meteorite metal flowed like a liquid at the command of her bending, and she sent it hurtling at Korra. Korra's hand came up and she bent the metal around her, gathering it on the other side and bringing her right arm around to bend the metal back at Kuvira to catch her int he side. She was thrown into a nearby panel and scampered away from another attack.




Although timing is not easy to match up, most of this, I know, happened sometime before or around the moment I took out the power magnifiers. Not that I knew the full extent of the situation as I pondered our predicament. While the prospect of just going to the Colossus control and helping Korra take down Kuvira was tempting, that risked everything on a fight that someone of Kuvira's skill might still prevail in. Especially fighting in a metal-rich environment that gave her plenty of tactics to draw upon.

"So what are we going to do now?," Mako asked. "There's got to be some way of stopping this."

I let the choices run through my head. Calculations spun and danced about behind my eyes while I rubbed at them, trying to get that persistent purple glow out of them. I mean, I love purple myself, but that was just too much. "You're not going to like it," I finally said. "And your brother will greatly disapprove."

"Huh?"

Mako gave me a look of understanding. He had already been thinking about it himself, I suppose. "What if I channel electricity into the core? Could I make it explode?"

"Given how finely balanced these sorts of systems are? Most definitely." I looked back at him. "The problem is how long you'd have between driving it to critical and the whole thing exploding. It should be just enough time to get clear, but if the window is shorter than I calculate, or you don't see it in time..."

"Wait, what are you talking about?", Bolin asked. "You're seriously not expecting him to stay behind and..."

"Bolin, if it's what I have to..."

"No!" Bolin turned on his heel and faced his brother. "You can't do this! You don't have to do this! I don't need you to do this to prove how awesome you are! I know you're awesome! We know you're awesome! It doesn't have to be you, Mako!"

"Bolin, we're wasting time!", Mako shouted back. "I'm doing this!"

"Why can't he do it?!" Bolin pointed to me. "Why can't it be him this time?!"

I found myself feeling tired. Very tired. I had the same questions in my hearts. Why couldn't things have worked out as I planned? Kuvira would have been de-clawed and forced to talk. Nothing save pride would have been harmed.

Instead... instead we had this. Everything I thought of being countered. My friends forced to put their lives on the line over and over again, fighting a foe that had been built up beyond belief by an unseen enemy.

"We've lost enough today," I said softly. "I don't want to lose anyone else. But Kuvira has to be stopped. If there was something I could do, some way it could be me Bolin, I would have already told you. But the only way is through your brother's gift. And if he doesn't do this, everything done today, every sacrifice, will have been for nothing."

Bolin looked like he wanted to cry. And I already felt the tears in my eyes at the thought of what would happen if something went wrong.

"It'll be okay, bro," Mako said.

Bolin looked to his brother. His expression was that of a pout. "For the record, I do not approve," he declared. Bolin brought his hand up toward his brother. "I want you to come back. Promise?"

Mako reacted by clasping hands with his brother. "Promise."

It turned into a hug.

"I love you."

"I love you too." Mako looked beyond his brother to me. He didn't have to say anything. The expression on his face said it all. Take care of my brother if I don't make it back was about the sum of it.

"If it's starting to blind you, you've done enough," I said. "Get out of here immediately."

"I will. Now go!"

I helped Bolin pick up the four metalbenders strewn about Core Control. It was quite the effort to climb down the ladder with a body over each shoulder. Climbing a ladder, going down stairs, and then having to get on another ladder was even more an effort. And I was already feeling weary. Wearier as I heard the explosions above as the core overload blew out the connector plugs. Mako's efforts were working, at least.

As soon as we got to the floor below we ran on toward the main hatch. I calculated which sections we were in and the likely structural strongpoints. When we had gone on far enough I looked back to Bolin. "They'll be safe here," I said.

I didn't say anything else. Bolin turned and ran back for his brother.

I almost called for him not to. But I didn't. If Mako died... Bolin would hate himself forever if he didn't go back.

Of course, this meant it was more likely that both brothers would die.

And it would be all my fault.

"All, bugger," I mumbled. I pursued them.

The purple light above was blinding as I got to the blast of the first ladder leading up to the core. The Colossus vibrated from the overloading energy that made my hair stand on end. I looked up in time to see an explosion flower out of the core area. Metal shrieked and tore and the ladder came off.

I got the sonic disruptor up and used it to generate a deflector screen, catching Bolin and Mako before they could hit the ground. I started to bring them down to a safer landing when I felt the Colossus shudder beneath me. Blinding purple light erupted from the core area for several seconds as I laid them gently out and started to pick them up.

And then I was thrown from my feet as well as everything went purple. There was a rumble that sounded like the world was going to tear itself apart. The explosion of the core went off a moment later. There were several seconds of free fall and the floor tilting out from under me.

And then we hit what was now the ground. Everything went black.




I was unconscious for the next bit. But I will retell it as best as I can, since it shows the final ending of Korra's conflict with Kuvira. It was rather personal for a fight over which vision of the world should prevail; Korra and her beliefs about people ruling themselves and living in harmony with the spirits, or Kuvira and her emphasis on order, control, and stability.

The power core explosion had blown the Colossus into two fairly intact pieces; the upper torso and head with remaining left upper arm, and the lower torso and legs. The lower left arm, presumably feeling discontent, went its own way. The blast had been effectively contained by the core chamber's layout. Very spiffy design work there for Bataar Junior, eh?

After the landing, a battered but still quite healthy Korra hauled Kuvira out of the broken command bridge of her dead Colossus. She set a battered and wounded Kuvira down and knelt down beside her. "It's over," she told Kuvira. "You're going to call off your army and surrender to President Raiko."

Kuvira and Korra, as stated, have a bit in common. One of those things is determination that goes into stubbornness. Kuvira simply would not give up.

So it's not surprising that she answered by hitting Korra in the face. With a chunk of stone.

I suppose she figured she still had her army against a broken and surrendered Republic military and Korra's weakened, injured allies. Or maybe she... well, that would be getting ahead of ourselves, wouldn't it. But either way, as Korra picked herself up from the ground, she watched the wounded Kuvira make for the Spirit Wilds. She gave chase, calling for Kuvira to stop. To give up. "This madness has to end now!", she called out as Kuvira led her deeper into the Wilds.

"If you want me to stop, come and get me!", was the defiant retort.

So Korra followed the voice. She caught up to Kuvira.

Kuvira, who for all that she was hurt and wounded, had just found a way to swing the odds back in her favor again.

That bloody spirit cannon.

Had I been there.... well,, nothing would have changed. Kuvira would have turned it on anyway. After all, with Korra and/or myself dead, she would have a stronger chance to triumph, wouldn't she?

Of course, she was turning on a weapon that violently released the latent spirit energy in spirit vegetation in the middle of the bloody Spirit Wilds. So I'm sure you can see how bloody crazy this was and how it would go magnificently wrong. It's like turning on a flamethrower in a gas-filled room or activating a quantum flux emitter inside a dimensionally.... wait, no, that analogy doesn't work does it? Never mind.

Toddler. Nuclear warhead. I rest my case.

Her attempt to vaporize Korra failed. Korra got out of the way of the blast. And slowly the vines around them begin to glow purple. The beam started escalating in power, out of control, and the weapon spun in the air, swinging up and down and lashing out at a skyline already abused by the Colossus.

"Shut it down!", Korra shouted.

To give credit where it's due, Kuvira apparently made the attempt. Of course, this is why she was being a fool, because it was too bloody late. The device in the cannon had already instigated a chain reaction. If I must guess, I would imagine the control wiring had burnt out from the excess energy surging through the cannon. And there was plenty of that energy, as even the weapon was turning purple.

"I can't!", Kuvira shouted back. At that point, the buckling of the weapon in its unstable cradle of spirit vines became so great she lost her handhold and was thrown clear. She hit the ground, rolled for a few feet, and stopped.

Stopped and looked up in time to see the cannon coming straight for her.

Now, this is usually when poetic justice is served. Kuvira being vaporized by her own weapon, fired from her own bloodyminded refusal to admit defeat? Classic for that.

Korra was there, though. And Korra doesn't like leaving people to die.

She threw herself in front of the beam and began to bend it. She did so until the chain reaction completed and the spirit vines all went kaboom.

Energybending. Not something done easily. And Korra was now trying to handle enough energy to turn Republic City into a crater.

And even if she succeeded, the prospect of her surviving was... sobering.




It was the rumbling that woke me up.

I began to sat up while all of my Time Lord senses screamed from the sheer massive energy I felt coursing around. I looked to the nearby hatch and crawled toward it. I set my hand on the hatch wheel but held back from turning it until my sonic confirmed what was out there.

Energy. Lots and lots of extra-dimensional spirit energy. Enough that I was effectively near ground zero of the equivalent of a nuclear detonation. I decided to stay where I was for the moment. Even summoning the TARDIS - which had been given enough time to repair, I thought, to be able to work - was out of the question in this environment. Either the energy would recede before it came through the metal structure, or ti wouldn't. My fate was out of my hands.

I felt a shift in the energy afterwards. As it something was pulling it. Drawing it in. Re-directing it. As soon as I confirmed it was safe, I threw open the hatch, in time to see bands of purple energy concentrate at the middle of a new crater in what used to be the Spirit Wilds. The purple energy gathered and gathered until, finally, it burst skyward in golden light. A twin helix of energy swirled within it as it reached for the sky.

I'd seen a similar pattern before.

A spirit portal.

Behind me I heard stirring. Mako and Bolin were beginning to stand up. "What happened?", Bolin mumbled.

"You saved Mako," I answered, "and I saved you both. And then the core blew up and we were all knocked out cold. And.... come see for yourself."

I crawled out of the hatch and out into an environment covered in green vines. "Look," I heard Bolin say, in rather complete awe, as he and Mako stepped out behind me.

I held out the sonic and scanned. No sign of temporal energies. No sign that the energy had torn the Crack open or caused further damage. It had all be directed toward one particular end; the spirit portal. I let out a laugh. "Oh, brilliant! Brilliant, she must have... have..."

And then I stopped.

Where was Korra?




Within moments the search was on. It started with the three of us and quickly grew as Tenzin and his kids arrived. Asami and Katara landed a moment later and fanned out. The rumbling of mechasuits told me Kuvira's soldiers had also come to find her. For the moment, that seemed their priority, and they left us alone.

Many of us were crying Korra's name as everyone searched the wreckage of the Colossus or elsewhere. I was simply scanning with the sonic, which confirmed what I suspected. Korra wasn't here. She was gone.

That left two distinct possibilities.

One of them was awe-inspiring. The other was horrifying.

I started to trudge towards the new portal. Behind me Tenzin and the others kept calling, to no avail.

I heard a metallic clunk beside me. Asami came to a landing and took her helmet off. Her face had gone pale and expressionless and her breathing looked shallow. "Doctor, there are no life signs..."

"I know," i replied.

"She's.... she's dead isn't she?"

"One possibility."

The look in her green eyes shifted rapidly towards despair. "She's gone. Korra's gone. And my father. I... I..."

I grabbed her before she could drop to her knees. "Asami, don't."

She was having trouble speaking. Her eyes glazed over with a thousand yard stare. "I've lost Korra. I've lost everything. I... I can't..."

"No," I insisted. I pointed a finger to the portal. "Korra was directing that energy. She could be inside."

"How do you know?', she asked in a small voice.

"Because she's the Avatar." Katara walked up to us. She took Asami's hand gently. Well, as gently as you can take a hand covered in a metal suit's hand. "If anyone could survive this, she would."

Asami turned to face Katara. The symmetry was heartbreaking. Asami was facing the same loss as my Companion, the only survivor of a timeline where her loved ones, where her love, had died before her eyes.

"Believe in her," Katara urged. "I know you do. You're just scared that you're wrong and you've lost her."

The others were approaching us now. Varrick and Zhu Li had arrived by this point and joined the others. I turned toward the portal. "I'm going in," I said. Fully knowing there was no way of telling what was on the other side. It could be pleasant. It could be grisly. It could be Koh the Face-Stealer or any other sort of ethereal horror.

Or it could be a beautiful flower-filled meadow.

....a beautiful flower-filled meadow with my friend's dead body laying in the middle of it. Thank you very much, imagination. You are no help!

I took one step and another... and stopped.

Golden light appeared within the sphere of the portal. The light grew and took shape. Or rather shapes. Two of them.

Moments after the shapes assumed obvious humanoid form, Korra stepped out, Kuvira's right arm over her shoulders and her left hand gripping a wounded right side. They looked rather worn and torn up, but they were obviously alive.

"Korra!", Asami shouted.

Bolin let out a whoop of joy. "You're okay!"

We drew closer to them. As we did so, the mechasuits started to gather around us. Their arms came up and presented their weapons. "Release Kuvira, or we will attack!", one of them demanded.

Korra let Kuvira go. "Stand down," Kuvira ordered, stepping away from her rescuer. Although obviously I didn't know that detail yet. "This battle is over."

I admit to a sigh of relief at that point. I'd been tossed about, throw into buildings, shot down, shot at.... I was ready for the hammock.

Kuvira wasn't done yet. "I owe the Avatar my life. Her power is beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve." Her face fell. "I'll accept whatever punishment the world sees fit." Kuvira turned to Suyin. "Su, I'm sorry for the pain and anguish I've caused you and your family."

"You'll answer for everything you've done," Suyin vowed.

I raised an eyebrow. So much for family special "forgiveness" endings, eh folks?

But that was the truth. Kuvira had a lot to answer for. She had acted to end suffering in the Earth Kingdom, but had simply introduced new types of suffering. She had turned the suffering of anarchy into the stifling suffocation of her order. Her need to control others had caused as much pain as Zaheer's need to tear down all authority.

Lin reached for her handcuffs.

I stepped up. "I have a lot of questions myself, Kuvira," I said. "All of this technology you've been using, I need to..."

"Uh, guys? We've got a problem."

Mako's words prompted everyone to look up.

The mechasuits were still pointing weapons at us.

"I said stand down," Kuvira said, more forcefully this time. "You're all free to go home."

They didn't move. And they didn't lower their weapons. That was the most important bit.

I felt my hearts quicken. Something wasn't right here. Something wasn't...

"Oh. You disappoint me, Kuvira."

The voice was coming from beyond the line of mechasuits in front of us. Two of them moved to the side and a figure walked through them, clad in the uniform of the Earth Empire. The rank insignia put the man just below Bataar, I thought. Earth Kingdom facial structure, complete with green eyes, and hair graying at the temples. I didn't know him from Adam, honestly. Or Lee, going by this world.

"Doctor Laoshi." There was surprise in Kuvira's voice. "What are you doing here? You're supposed to be in Omashu."

"Oh, I just had to see your glorious victory, 'Great Uniter'." He spoke Kuvira's title with scorn. "So much for that."

"Who are you?", I asked.

He looked at me. "Ah. There you are." The look on his face curled to a slight smile. "At last. You and I, face to face..." He reached for his belt and chuckled.

"...pawn."

There was a click on his belt. And the appearance of Doctor Laoshi melted away. Underneath was a man of distinctly Caucasian features. Light skin. Dark hair and light, rather faded blue eyes. His clothing looked rather out of the place as well, a dark red suit with gold trim embroidered on it. But the style was... familiar.

Too familiar. My hearts went cold at recognizing the style. The world it came from.

"Who is he?", Korra asked me.

"The being on the other side of the Cracks," Katara answered for me.

"I've never seen..." I stopped at that point.

I had never seen his face. Or at least, I thought so.

But then I changed it. I imagined the dark hair turning grey. The skin wrinkling with age.

I thought my hearts would just stop at that point. At the realization of just who I had been dealing with. Who I was still dealing with.

A low chuckle came from my shadow nemesis. "Oh ho ho, you know," he said. "You know who I am, don't you pretender?"

My voice answered, even if my brain was still processing things. "This isn't possible," I said. "The time lock..."

"Laoshi" started to laugh. "Oh, you still have no idea! No idea at all of your role in this game. Go ahead, pawn. Tell your little friends who I am."

I swallowed. I whispered a name.

"Who?", one of the others asked. I couldn't make out whom.

I forced some control back with a steady breath. This time, I managed an answer.

"The Master."

"Who?", Katara asked.

"He's the Master," I repeated. "He's one of my people. He's a Time Lord."

"Don't insult me. I'm a real Time Lord, you're just a fake," the Master snapped. He made a motion with his hand. More mechasuits were appearing beyond the crater. And we, we battered few, were already so sorely outnumbered.

"You tricked me," Kuvira said. "You tricked me!"

"And you were so easily tricked, Human," the Master answered. "Thanks to you this world, and soon every world, are mine."

"Doctor?" Korra looked to me. "Doctor, what do we do?"

I couldn't answer. I felt too scared to even breathe.

"Doctor? Doctor?"

To Be Continued....

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-28 05:50pm

You may now all give a 'DUN DUN DUN!"
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-28 10:02pm

Episode 37 - Nemesis Rising

I don't think I've ever been so frightened before.

It's silly. Completely silly. I mean, look at what I've done. Look at all of the life-threatening situations I've been in. All the foes I had faced. Daleks. Cybermen. Weeping Angels. Harry Dresden's driving.

But I was nearly frightened out of my wits by this.

The Master.

The bloody (literally) Master.

With most threats, the danger they posed to me was always counterbalanced by my Time Lord intelligence. They could be bigger, stronger, or faster, but I was always smarter.

Not here. Not against him. The greatest personal foe of the Doctor with all of his experience and intelligence. Enough to certainly outsmart me, I knew. Here, against him, none of my usual advantages could be employed.

And that was terrifying.

"Doctor!"

Korra snapped me out of it. I had to think, fast. We had only seconds before the Master acted… however he was going to act. I had to do something.

Anything.

So I asked a question.

"Why do you want my TARDIS?" I fidgeted with my hand a bit. Since I was actually quite nervous and frightened, it wasn't playacting as much as I would have liked.

The Master looked at me with interest while, from behind, his mechasuited forces were lined up and ready to attack us. "A very intelligent question," he said. "But not an answer I am inclined to share."

"It's not just about traveling into those extra dimensions, is it? This isn't just an escape from the Time War." I stepped forward. I motioned behind me, sweeping my hand toward Korra. "It's not about them either. Just a means to an end."

"Oh yes." The Master smiled in that smug little way at me. "How disappointing. When the Sontarans told me the Doctor had opposed them, I thought it meant my old friend had found his own way out of the time lock. Instead it was just you. The pawn who thinks he is the King."

"Oh, King's a bit much," I answered. "Queen. I mean, the Queen piece does all the fun things on the board."

The Master kept his hands behind his back. "This is checkmate, little pawn."

"That's funny, because I don't see the King anywhere," I responded. "And you never answered me. Why do you want the TARDIS?"

He chuckled at that. "You ask that as if it matters to you. No, that's not how it works pawn."

"So what's the plan?", I asked. "What's your grand scheme this time, eh?"

"I intend to kill your friends one by one until you give me that TARDIS," the Master answered.

"Of course. The old hostage gambit. Bit of an old canard there, isn't it?" Yes. Flippancy and irreverence. I had to keep that up to hide the fear I felt.

The Master frowned at me. "Do you seriously think that this display is working for you? I can best the real Doctor. You are nothing but a fraud, and whatever you think you're getting by this behavior, all you are accomplishing is to annoy me."

At that, I nodded. "Oh, yes. I've been told I'm not a real Time Lord before. And I acknowledge I'm not the original Doctor. But you know what? That doesn't matter. I know what you are. I know what you intend." I took in a breath to steel myself. "And I know that I have to stop you."

I met the Master's eyes. It was hard to stare them down. To see the malevolence, the megalomania, surging within them. "Take them!", the Master ordered.

The mechasuits started firing bolts of electrical charges. Stun weapons. I watched the others begin to fall. Varrick and Zhu Li. Tenzin. Jinora jumped into the air with her airbending and threw out a gust of air toward the nearest mechasuit. It staggered slightly before returning fire with pinpoint accuracy. The stun blast brought Jinora down.

Korra would have been hit as well if Asami hadn't intercepted the blasts with her armored suit, which made her invulnerable to them. The repulsors in her hand gauntlets disabled a mechasuit while Korra pinned another one with her earthbending. Katara kept close to them, shielding them from behind with jets of water that absorbed and conducted away the stun blasts. The three continued to stand together; Korra shielded by Katara and Asami from stun attacks while she launched counterattacks from their midst.

Mako and Bolin avoided the shots at them and counter-attacked with their bending. Mako twisted and threw a fireball directly at the Master.

The Master nonchalantly twisted to avoid it while pulling out a device from his belt. I was reaching for my sonic disruptor at the same time. We had our respective devices ready at the same moment.

Which is the only reason Mako wasn't killed instantly, as the Master leveled his tissue compression eliminator at Mako to use it. My sonic disruptor triggered a kinetic burst with enough energy to not only tear the weapon out of the Master's hand, but to send him flying.

A moment later my body seized it. I'd been struck by the electric stun weapon.

I turned as I was falling. I watched Ikki dodge one stun blast and get taken by another. Meelo was still up, but against these numbers, that wouldn't last long.

My eyes focused on Katara, who was standing with Korra and Asami as they fought. Her eyes met mine. Despite the paralysis I managed to mouth one word.

Go.

Katara nodded and pressed her finger on something in her hand.

VWORP VWORP VWORP.

The TARDIS materialized. Not around me. I hadn't triggered the remote, obviously. I wasn't going to do so that close to the Master and I certainly couldn't now.

Katara, on the other hand, hadn't been so close. And she had her own remote.

Oh, don't look at me like that. Normally my Companions don't carry a remote because in general the devices require a Time Lord's mental power to trigger the signal. I had to put a lot of work into making a secure one for someone without Time Lord mental power. I had invested in said work after we started running into the Master's plans via the Crack. It seemed reasonable to give my Companions the ability to get into the TARDIS and get away with my ship should something befall me. A better idea, certainly, then risking my then-unknown enemy from getting the TARDIS.

My fidgeting hand as I asked about the TARDIS had been the signal to Katara to be ready to use it. And my hand motion toward Korra had told her whom I wanted her to bring with her.

In my paralyzed state, I watched the TARDIS appear around Katara, Korra, and Asami. And just as soon as it materialized, it began to dematerialize again. That was my doing; I had programmed the TARDIS to get away, far away, if Katara had ever summoned it, for the obvious reason that in those cases I was going to be indisposed and needed to have my Companion taken care of.

The fight, such as it was, lasted only a few seconds more. Nobody got away. Even Kuvira was stunned just like we were.

"Your orders, Master?" The voice from one of the mechasuits had become dull and mechanical. Some sort of mind control system secretly installed, I imagine. To ensure the Master that Kuvira's legions could become his legions at his command.

The Master walked up to me and looked down at me. Our eyes met. Disgust and irritation were visible within his. "Take them. We will return to the camp."

Several moments later a metal hand gripped me around the waist and picked me up. It hurt. And I was already hurting. The Master was facing me as I was lifted. "You have only delayed the inevitable," he said. He went over, picked up his TCE, and walked toward the edge of the crater.

Despite everything, I felt relief. Katara and the others had gotten away.

There was still hope.




"We've got to go back!", was the first thing Korra insisted upon the TARDIS materializing around them and whisking them away.

Before either Katara or Asami could add agreement or dispute, a hologram of myself popped into existence nearby. "If you're seeing this message, Katara, then something has happened to me. You have used the remote to return to the TARDIS. If I am dead, well…"

"You're not," Asami said. "At least, you weren't when we left."

"I see." The message's interactive response triggered another line. "If I am held captive or kept unavailable, what is the nature of the threat?"

"You called him 'the Master'," Katara said.

The hologram took only a second to pluck the proper response from all of those I'd recorded. "That is not good. The Master is one of the most dangerous beings in existence. He is a fellow Time Lord, with all of my intelligence and many years of experience in using it. He is undoubtedly plotting something that will pose a significant threat to whatever world he has appeared on."

"So what do we do?", Korra asked the hologram.

"You must get help," the hologram replied. "You will find the telepathic circuit bundled beneath the main activation lever. Use it to find whatever assistance you can. But be cautious with the circuit and don't overuse it, or you will burn it out." My hologram nodded and gave them an encouraging smile. "Good luck, everyone." It winked out.

The trio looked at each other. "He never used the telepathic circuit around us," Asami said.

"You hold it and the TARDIS takes you where and when you're thinking of," Katara answered.

"So we can get help." Korra's expression brightened. "Enough help to save the others and stop the Master. There are a lot of people out there who would help us rescue the Doctor."

Katara nodded. Despite everything she allowed herself to smile. "And I know just where to start."






Vehicles from the Earth Empire Army were used to carry us back to their main camp on the outskirts of Republic City. With the exceptions of Varrick, Zhu Li, and myself, everyone else was put in full restraints while we were placed in handcuffs, so even as we finally overcame the stunning and regained movement there was nothing to be had for that movement. As soon as I could move I found I had been divested of my sonic devices. It would have been silly to hope I hadn't been, really.

I was one of the first pulled out of the camp. An Earth Empire officer with a dull expression on his face ordered that I be escorted to a building at the edge of the camp. It was an estate of some sort, with a stately courtyard when not full of mechasuits and Earth Empire troops in helmets. I mean, they didn't go with the marble and the multinational-styled flower garden at all. And the poor turtle-ducks in the pond looked completely lost around all of that armament.

Not that the troops seemed to notice. They were staring around blankly. It made me bristle; the Master had turned them into nothing more than automatons.

I was brought to the patio overlooking the courtyard and freed. They directed me to sit in a chair and hovered over me afterward. I could look out from the patio and see the others being put into a group in the courtyard. There were already other Airbenders and Air Acolytes there as well; I recognized Bumi and Kai, and I even saw General Iroh seated with them in restraints of his own. Pema, who was not tightly bound, threw her arms around her tightly-restrained husband while little Rohan wept in fear in her lap. Prince Wu, unsurprisingly, was weeping as well.

And they were all surrounded by mechasuits. Larger mechatanks stood at the corners of the courtyard to provide even more intimidation. Lines of other soldiers were present here and there. A small army, altogether, to keep us all prisoner and protect the Master.

There were footsteps near me. I turned my head and faced the Master as he sat down. Two of his mesmerized Earth Empire soldiers stood at attention behind him. He started tapping his hand on the table. There was a steady rhythm to the tapping, like the beating of a drum. "Now." He visibly forced himself to stop. "You have caused me some aggravation."

"Only some?", I asked.

"Some," he repeated.

"What do you know about what's been done to me?", I asked. I couldn't keep the insistent tone from my voice.

"Oh, much," he said. "But that knowledge is of little importance at the moment."

"Why do you want the TARDIS?"

The Master didn't react immediately. After a moment he snapped his fingers. A frightened-looking man came into the room with a bottle and glass, which he filled to the top for the Master. The Master took a sip, showed some enjoyment, and showed the servant off with a wave of his hand. "Don't they work so much better this way?", he asked me. "Quiet. Obedient. Accepting their places."

"How many of them have... what? Neural override chips? Auto-hypnotic loyalty programming?"

"Some, yes," he conceded. "Others followed willingly. Once they saw what I could give and take away. Like I said. They know their place."

"Let me guess," I pondered. "This is the part where you try to talk me into thinking you're not a bad fellow because you're just trying to get them to stop killing each other or bringing order to chaos or some other thing like that. It's a story I've heard from plenty of civilizations, and it usually means the same thing; an excuse for domination."

"Now my dear friend... the man whose identity you have assumed so callously... he sees them as children to be coddled," the Master continued, as if my retort wasn't worth even slight rebuttal. "It's a tragedy. A waste of effort. If he only put his mind to it, Humans would be on the path to being one of the most powerful species of the universe. All they need is the right direction."

"Your direction?"

The Master took another sip before smirking at me. "Even you should have felt it by now. You've become something like us. Surely you understand what I mean? We are their natural superiors, pawn. Their natural place is accepting our leadership."

I frowned at him. "They have a right to decide their own future."

The Master laughed at me. "Oh, that's just that tiny bit of Humanity left inside of you. It keeps you thinking small." He seemed thoughtful for a moment. "Do you actually miss it? Being Human?" When I didn't answer he settled his eyes on me. Which I found disturbing, frankly. "Or is the block still working?"

I still didn't speak.

"I could possibly release it, you know," the Master commented before sipping more of the wine. He finished with a little flourish and set the wine glass back down. "If you want. You would have your Human memories again."

I had been told, many times, that the best way to unlock the box in my mind was to have the one who put it there open it. If the Master was the one who had done so, which I doubted at the moment, then it might work.

Of course, that required me to trust the man. Not something I considered prudent or in any way wise.

"Fine. You don't want me in your head." The Master sneered at me. "It doesn't matter, of course. You're my prisoner. I can attack you mentally if I ever choose. But I don't think it's come to that." He sniffed at the wine again before taking another slow drink.

"How did you get out of the time lock?", I asked.

"You refer to the lock on the War?" The Master seemed to ponder my question. "I had my ways. And you haven't made it easy. Had I acquired your TARDIS from the Cybermen or the Zygons, I wouldn't have even come here. I wouldn't have needed to manipulate that fool Xuandi or Kuvira."

I "ahh"ed his revelation. "So you were behind Xuandi learning how to use the vortex manipulator."

"He was rather eager."

"And you didn't warn him about what changing a Fixed Point in Time could cause?", I inquired. Well, demanded. It was very... demand-ish of me.

"I didn't particularly care," the Master answered. "I imagined either you would stop him, or he would succeed and this world would be annihilated. Preferably with you on it. Retrieving your TARDIS would have been so much simpler, then."

"What's so special about her?", I asked. "Is it her ability to travel between the different cosmoses?"

The Master answered only with one last drink. "It amuses me. After all this time for you. And you're still so, so very ignorant." He set aside the empty wine glass and folded his hands on the table across from me. "Have you ever stopped to wonder 'why', pawn? Why this all happened to you? You were taken, a lowly and insignificant Human, and granted the gift of becoming a Time Lord."

"Of course I have," I retorted.

"But did you ever really investigate it? See why you just happened to be left with an intact TARDIS like that?"

I had, indeed, investigated, and I said so. The Master laughed. "Oh, very good. They were very good to hide it."

"Hide what?"

The Master seemed to consider his response for a moment before leaning back and becoming silent.

"What would be hidden on my TARDIS?", I demanded. "Does it have something to do with why you want it so badly?"

"No. No, I think that information is too precious to let you know." The Master shook his head. "Suffice to say I will render the issue irrelevant." He looked out the window toward the courtyard. "I think we are ready to begin." He gestured with a hand.

A man entered wearing an Earth Empire uniform. Unlike many of the others, he didn't seem to be completely mind-controlled, simply reserved. Self-controlled. He had a fine dark beard and matching mustache, hair well cut, looked great. Probably ended up on some of Kuvira's propaganda posters, I could imagine. If she were willing to show someone other than herself, anyway.

"This is Major Zhengfu," the Master said.

"Lord." Zhengfu nodded. He looked to me and narrowed his eyes with hostility.

"Do I know you?", I asked. "Because you look rather cross with me."

"The Major is the last of Xuandi's Dai Li. And you happened to get his leader killed." The Master nodded to Zhengfu. "You may begin, Major. Await my instructions on when to cease." His eyes flashed with bemused malevolence when he looked back at me. "And start with one of the children. The one with that tattoo on her head, I think. Yes."

I glowered at him, for as much good as it would do.

"Of course," Zhengfu answered.

The Major left, going out the main patio door to the courtyard. He issued orders and the enthralled Earth soldiers obeyed.

A line of mechasuits was formed on one side of the courtyard, facing the wall. Zhengfu walked up across from them and inspected the grounds. He moved his arms and began Earthbending away some topiary and gardens, creating an open area.

He made one last gesture, and a single pole of Earth shot up from the ground, maybe six feet high.

I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

Which meant it was confirmed a moment later, when Zhengfu motioned to the others. Two of his troops reached down and picked Jinora out from the group. She struggled a little and was given a blow to the back of the head in reply. They dragged her toward the pole.

"My demand is simple," the Master said. "Recall your TARDIS."

My glower turned into a glare.

"Don't take me for a fool," the Master continued, responding to my intended complaint. "Your remote system can reach it anywhere. And until you do, you and I will sit here and watch as Major Zhengfu executes your friends. One… by one.... by one." He looked back to the courtyard with a wicked grin on his face. I looked back as well in time to see Jinora being tied to the pole. A muzzle was placed over her mouth as well. There would be no Airbending with her breath.

"What are you planning?", I asked. "What are you planning?!"

The Master ignored me and waved a finger through the window. Zhengfu noted the gesture and answered with a nod. He brought hand up and curled his fingers into a hand signal.

The mechasuits lined their flamethrowers at Jinora.

I swallowed. "Please," I pleaded. It was involuntary. I knew there was no mercy to be had. Not with the Master. But I had done so anyway.

"Her fate is in your hands, pawn," the Master remarked. "Summon your TARDIS now. Or I will have her burned alive."

My mind raced with my hearts. I had to think of something. Anything. I needed to buy time for something to happen.

But just as much, I knew I couldn't give him the TARDIS. The Master, with that kind of power at his hands? It was about the worst thing that could happen. Definitely near the short list of Very Bad Things. There was no telling what horrible consequences it would have.

More horrible than watching people I knew, people I considered friends, be burned alive?

I forced myself into action. I had to say something, do anything, to buy precious time. "I'll…."

"Too late," the Master remarked.

Zhengfu was already making the next gesture.

Great plumes of flame came from the mechasuits and enveloped the area where Jinora was held and tied.

"JINORA!", Tenzin and Pema screamed together. Kai added a pained "NO!".

I could see it. So real. So visceral. The screams of the brilliant young Airbender as she thrashed on the pole while enveloped in flame. I had to watch Jinora suffering one of the most horrific ends a being can suffer.

I found I was shouting "NO!" myself… before I found myself staring in wonderment.

Despite the image in my head, not a single flame actually touched Jinora.

A moment before the flames could reach her, they were stopped. Stopped by a shield. A familiar one.

A familiar pink one, just as the pink saber that sliced through Jinora's bonds.

But how did they… oh.

Molly Carpenter was now standing beside the pole, towering over Steven Universe and Connie Maheswaran. She looked… fairly worn down, I think, ragged and thin. But not as bad as she could eventually get. Her hair no longer had dye in it, so it flowed out to its natural blond. Her ragged clothing was a contrast to the bright shirt and jeans on Steven and Connie's elegant dark blue training suit.

And if they were here, that meant…

Before the flames had even ceased, others ran around or jumped over the flames and attacked. The central suit was thrown backward by a powerful punch from Garnet. Amethyst formed herself into a wrecking ball to go under the flames and took the legs out from under one of the mechasuits. Energy from Pearl's spear took out another one of the firing squad mechasuits.

There was a familiar sound. A bit of a snap with a bit of a hiss, and a purple energy blade directed my attention to the wielder, who threw the blade forward and guided it until it cut the flamethrower hand off of one mechasuit and then a second. The blade returned to its owner, and when I saw her face, my hearts leaped with joy.

Janias!

But it would be wrong to give her all of the credit. Even as her purple-bladed lightsaber had done its work, a green blade was busy slashing through the last mechasuit on the firing line. As it fell away I saw a young tan-skinned Human woman standing over it, lightsaber moving back into a ready position.

I recognized her too. Kerra Holt.

Zhengfu was shouting orders and the entire courtyard became abuzz with activity. Like an anthill that had been kicked over. I glanced at the Master's features and saw a blank expression. Or rather, one blanked only because he was clearly holding back rage.

"They're all mind-controlled," Janias shouted to the others. "Don't hurt them if you can help it!" She used the Force to throw several Earth Empire soldiers back onto the ground. Kerra ran behind her and deflected a boulder with the Force before using a similar blast of energy to drive the soldiers back.

"We'll handle them." Asami's voice was coming through the external speaker on her armor suit, which landed near the two Jedi. It had been repaired from the damage taken in fighting Kuvira.

Not surprising, given that a moment later a second armored suit landed beside her. I recognized Tony Stark's armored suit easily, the red-and-gold color scheme contrasting to Asami's dark red-and-black and lacking the Future Industries gear logo. "I'll get this side, you get the other one," he said.

"Right."

Asami and Stark turned and stood back to back. Their left shoulder plates moved and shifted to reveal a launcher underneath that spewed out a barrage of darts. Several ranks of the controlled Earth troops fell in place. Stark turned and sent a missile into the right leg of a mechasuit, knocking it down. Asami's repulsors battered another until it fell over. Before it could get back up Kerra Holt ran over it and sliced the cockpit open. She made a gesture from her hand and the machine went still.

Jan's lightsaber flashed again, taking out the weapon of a mechasuit moving to attack Molly and the children. She turned, reached out with the Force, and pulled the weapons off a second. It was quite impressive, and I felt my jaw drop a little. Jan had definitely been "working out", if you may, and moved with a grace and power that she hadn't yet acquired during her time as my Companion.

"Woh, look out!" Amethyst's cry of alarm brought attention to the looming mechatanks. Which were far more agile and powerful than usual as they effortlessly kept up with the Gems. One caught one of Garnet's punches and sent her flying back into Pearl. Amethyst's whip caught the arms of the machine together. It strained for several moments before tearing itself free and firing at her. With a plasma beam.

The Master had upgraded them, obviously.

And two more were approaching Tenzin and the others with raised weapons.

"How useless," the Master mused. "You can still save some of them if you cooperate…"

There was a blur of blue and red and one of the mechatanks went flying backward into the far wall of the courtyard. My hearts skipped a beat from surprise and then joy, joy that matched my grin.

After all, who wouldn't grin with joy when they saw Superman showing up to save the day?

Kal-El wasted no time in dealing with the other threatening machine. He delivered a punch that rocked the machine completely off its treads. Heat vision beams sliced away the particle weapon arm cleanly. With the threat clear, I could see Steven, Connie, and Molly at work freeing the others.

And in the chaos, I hadn't yet paid enough attention to see that Korra had indeed joined the battle against the mechatanks. She raised a wall of solid rock to protect the Gems. When one of the mechatanks blasted through it anyway, Korra created a cyclone of air so powerful it blew the machine onto its back. Amethyst's whip lashed out and grabbed the other one. Garnet grabbed it with her fist and sent an electrical charge up the whip and into the mechatank, which began to spark as the charge overloaded its systems. This gave Pearl and opening to run past and use her spear with pinpoint accuracy on the vital linkages of the machine's limbs and controls. The precision of her strikes wasn't just that of an expert fighter, but an expert engineer who knew precisely what to hit to bring the machine down.

I felt something on my hand just then. I briefly glanced down and noticed a familiar creature. A creature carrying my sonic screwdriver, no less, and placing it into my hand.

And given the appearance of that particular hairless fellow, I had ample warning about what happened next.

The Master's guards cried out as a blast of water slammed into them and smashed them against the glass hard enough to crack it. The guards around me turned to respond. I rose quickly and brought the sonic over. The sonic easily detected and shut down the neural override letting the Master control the poor fellow. I turned my head in the same direction to see a figure in white duck an earthbent figurine thrown by one of my captors and effortlessly make her way into grappling range. A low roundhouse knocked the attacking Earthbender off balance and was effortlessly and gracefully turned into an uppercut that sent him flying.

"Ah, thank you," I said.

"No big." The smile on Kim Possible's face was the sort you'd find from a particularly competitive athlete who had just done a routine act of athleticism with excellence. I had already noted she wasn't in her usual garb, instead being clad in a white suit with blue markings and trim. An advanced battlesuit, I imagined.

Katara stood beside her, the water flowing around her hands pointed at the Master.

"Hey!" Ron appeared at the door in his usual dark suit and pants. He threw something at me; I knew it to be my sonic disruptor the moment I caught it with one hand. "Good job, Rufus!"

Rufus was still at my feet from having delivered my sonic screwdriver. The naked mole rat nodded and made a happy chittering sound that sounded like "uh huh!"

"Thank you for that, Ron." I swung the sonic disruptor and pointed it at the Master. "Now, you and I are…."

I stopped speaking.

The Master was staring at me. Not angrily. Not even quietly. Just… staring. As if I were nothing.

Something was wrong.

I brought my sonic screwdriver up. The tip lit up with purple, there was a whirring…

...and the Master and his wine glass faded from sight as sparks erupted from underneath the table.

"A hologram," Kim said with a frustrated frown on her face.

"I'm not surprised. Evil geniuses love that trick," Ron added.

As he said that, I was swinging the sonic disruptor over. I used it to shatter the glass with a burst of kinetic energy. "Everyone out!", I shouted. "Everyone get…"

That was when the bombs went off.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-06-30 09:37pm

There is a reason why the Master is the most dangerous of the Doctor's foes. He's brilliant. He takes every strength of the Time Lords and uses it to full effect.

So of course he had been ready for the eventuality of my TARDIS being used to gain allies. The entire interrogation had been done by remote with a holographic stand-in just for that purpose.

And just as obvious, he'd rigged the place to blow up.

We were jumping out of the broken patio window of the mansion when the blast went off behind us. I hit the ground hard, Katara to one side of me and Kim on the other. Ron, being a bit slower in general, was caught by the blast wave and hurtled into the courtyard. His arms cartwheeled in mid-air and he let out a frightened shriek as he flew toward a remaining marble statue.

Everyone noticed him. Korra was the first to react, bending air to catch him and bring him safely to the ground.

A moment later, bombs began to erupt from underneath us. "There are bombs seeded across the courtyard," Kal-El reported. "We need to get these people out of here."

I forced focus on my mind and let it go to work. "Lin, Su, Korra, Kuvira! We need a platform!"

There was a look of mistrust on Suyin's face, undoubtedly from my calling upon Kuvira, but there was no time for anything else as another bomb went off within feet of where the Gems were picking up Earth Empire soldiers. She gestured to her sons and they joined the others. With six Metalbenders on the job, they began tearing metal from the various mecha and forming it into a shielded platform that everyone else jumped upon. Kal-El, Asami, and Stark flew about to get others.

I looked about. Major Zhengfu was gone as well. Whether he had slipped away or had been a hologram all along, I couldn't say.

An involuntary shriek from Connie followed another blast that showered hot earth over her and some of the others. Steven's bubble caught the rocks before they could do any harm. Molly was nearby, sending magical energy into the ground in efforts to hex the remaining bombs. I ran up to her and grabbed her by the arm. "The Master will have shielded them," I urged her. "The hexes won't work!"

Molly looked at me with eyes that flashed with… anger. After a moment the anger faded slightly and she didn't resist in my taking her to the platform, where she jumped on.

By this point, everyone who couldn't fly was on the platform. "Everyone hang on!", Kal-El instructed. He picked the platform up and carried us off the ground. Lin and Su reached out and used their bending to create rails for everyone to grab hold of, which proved most useful for catching Ron. And Amethyst, for that matter.

Below us, the last of the bombs went off in sequence. The entire estate was engulfed in destructive energy and flame.

"Where do we go now?", Bolin asked.

"You'll see," Asami answered, flying over us. She and Stark were scanning the skies.

I looked to Katara. "Where's the TARDIS?"

"Hidden," she answered. "We're going to it now."

"Ah." i took a breath in relief. "So, how did the telepathic circuit work out?"

"Asami and Stark managed to get two last trips out of it," she answered. "It's how we got everyone."

"Good, good." I looked over the side. Republic City was still empty below, or at least mostly so. I thought I could see some of the Earth troops in the open parks and squares.

Kim changed rails to move closer. "Was that guy with the hologram the one who gave Drakken the Autons and left you a chess pawn?"

"He is," I answered.

"He seems pretty nasty."

"You have no idea, Kimberly Ann," I said. "He's a rogue Time Lord. But unlike myself and the original Doctor, he went rogue to conquer other worlds. All of the cunning, the intelligence, and the knowledge of a Time Lord bent to domination of other worlds."

Ron gulped. "That sounds like serious bad news."

"It is." Garnet stepped up toward us. Unlike the others she wasn't bothering to hold onto the rails and still kept perfect poise.

"You can see something?", I asked her. "With your future sight?"

"This 'Master' is going to come for us," Garnet said. "You need to be prepared." She extended her right hand. I recognized the invitation for what it was and pressed my hand to hers.

This time I was more careful about it. Instead of an uncontrolled burst of images I was ready to connect to the future sight within Garnet, flowing from the part of her that was Sapphire. With that sight I saw the Master doing… something to the TARDIS. Wiring. Machinery. My poor TARDIS having her engine exposed and hooked up to something.

And the new spirit portal Korra had made. It made an appearance in the vision as well. It also had machinery of some sort near it. A glowing power source. Energy from the TARDIS erupted and met it. There was a greater and vibrant shift of energy that went from yellow to brown to red and gold…

….and then Republic City was engulfed in energy. And Omashu. And Ba Sing Se and the Fire Nation Capital and the Water Tribes' cities and the Air Temples…

And the entire planet, ultimately, and the energy still spread from there.

We terminated the handshake. I took in a breath.

if Garnet's future vision proved true... once the Master acquired the TARDIS, he would literally erase the entire world.

Which meant I needed to find out how to stop him.

I needed to think of a way to outsmart the Master himself.




I suppose I couldn't be too surprised of where we ended up.

The Sato Mansion wasn't as empty as I thought it would be, though. As we flew over it I spotted a glow of red come our way, which became a human shape coated with flames. It got close enough to see us before turning back.

I looked up to Stark as we began to descend. "Is that who I think it is?"

"Reed and his family volunteered to stay behind to guard your ship," Stark replied.

"Should I be on the lookout for anyone else from your world, then?"

"No one else was available."

I made a "hrm" sound with my throat while Kal-El brought us in for a gentle landing at the side of the mansion. The door to the underground level opened up and admitted us. Inside was Asami's new lab, the one I had kitted out, now being tended to by Reed Richards and his wife. Ben Grimm stood to the side of my TARDIS.

I felt my hearts skip a second. A part of me had doubted I would ever see my lovely girl again. But there she was, fine as always.

....and still under threat from the Master. Especially considering what Garnet's visions showed me.

Kal-El let us down gently near the entrance. Asami and Stark landed beside us, prompting the automated machines to come up and begin removing Asami from her armor. She was wearing a dark red full body suit below it. She looked at the others and smiled. "I'm so relieved you're all okay."

"Wow, look at him." Bolin eyed Ben Grimm and held his hand up to his mouth while leaning toward Mako. "He's made of rocks."

"I heard that, kid," Ben grumbled, arms crossed.

Bolin brought his hands up in a gesture of placation. "Woh, hey, I've got nothing against rocks. I'm an Earthbender, rocks and I have a long history of working together..."

Mako sighed. "Nice save, bro."

Reed was busy looking over the holographic table. "Is it just me, or is the holographic emitter about twenty percent lighter than it should be?"

"Well, not all of the technology comes from your world," I remarked, walking up to him. I extended my hand. "Good to see you again, Reed."

"Doctor." He extended his hand too. Literally, by about four extra feet. I shook it as I stepped closer. "Your friends said something about this 'Master' being one of your people?"

"Yes." I nodded.

Reed nodded and looked pensive. "Given your intellectual capabilities, he may be the greatest threat we've ever faced."

"Ooh, don't let Victor here you say that," I answered coyly. Of course, that thought made me think of the idea of the Master meeting Victor von Doom. The results of such would either be amusing... or absolutely horrifying. "Thank you for coming."

"When your Companion Katara told me this Master was after your cross-dimensional ship, I knew something had to be done."

Behind us Katara was getting to work helping with the wounded among the Benders. Everyone else was tending to group up in various ways. Steven and Connie were in a lively exchange with Ikki and Meelo, for instance, while Kerra was discussing something with Korra and Pearl.

Janias had been exchanging words with Jinora, but she soon came up to me and gave me a hug. "When Korra and the others told me about what happened, Cami and I were horrified," she said.

"Is Cami back home?"

"Yes." Jan nodded. "It was for the best. The girls needed someone to watch them and... well..." She smiled a little. "She's expecting anyway."

"Oh? Having more? Congratulations," I said. "Still going to name her after Korra or Asami?"

Asami blushed a little from where she was standing beside the tank. Stark was out of his armor as well and had joined her in looking over something. A scan of the mechatanks, I presumed.

Janias laughed. "Well, my second was Molly, so... we'll have to decide, I guess."

"Ah." I nodded. And blinked. "Wait. You already had...?"

She smiled at me. "Don't worry, you were there. Will be there."

"Ah." So it was further down my timestream. Presuming that whatever happened with the Master didn't screw that up, anyway. "Well, that's nice to know."

For a moment the smiles remained. But Jan's expression turned serious. "I'm worried about Molly," she said. "She's..."

"...grieving," I finished for Jan.

"I could tell. But it's more than just that."

I nodded and indicated the TARDIS. She followed me to it, weaving through the others with me until we stepped in the door. Jan closed it while I began working on the controls. "What's wrong?", she asked.

"She thinks she helped Harry commit suicide," I said.

Jan's jaw dropped open. "What?! Harry..."

I shook my head before resuming my work. "Harry's not dead. He... it's complicated."

"Then we should tell her." I felt a frustrated look come to my face and Jan noticed it. "What? You can't? Why?"

"I'm..." I sighed. "I'm not sure, Jan, because it might influence some events to come. Molly's going through a rough patch in her life that is going to have consequences. Necessary consequences. If she doesn't go through them..."

"...you're afraid you'll change what's coming," Jan finished. "Right." She let out a breath. "Well, that's not easy. After all these years I guess I've forgotten about all of the complications your traveling can cause."

"Tell me about it," I sighed.

"And speaking of that, what are you going to do about Katara? She seems better."

"What is there to do?", I asked. "It's all her choice right now. As soon as she's ready to move on, she will."

"Ah." Jan nodded. "I'd offer her a place if she were interested."

"I think I know where she plans to go," I noted. "Assuming I'm right, anyway."

"Of course." Jan walked closer. "So what are you doing?"

"Programming the TARDIS to shift to halfway across the galaxy, and follow a random multi-dimensional flight path for the next 24 hours," I said. "And to renew it if I don't send an all-clear with my control."

"To keep it out of the Master's hands?", Jan asked.

"Precisely."

"But we'll be stranded here..."

"I know." I nodded. "But we must keep her away from the Master. At all costs."

Jan's expression showed concern. "He's really frightened you, hasn't he?"

"Yes," I admitted. "Yes he has. He has put bone-chilling terror in my very being."

"Why?"

I kept working in silence for several moments. Jan put a hand on my shoulder to get me to turn. "Why?", she insisted.

It was a good question. Not one I enjoyed contemplating, mind you. "Jan, in all of our travels, what would you call my greatest advantage?"

"Having Companions to help you?", Jan suggested with a bit of a grin. It made her look younger. Not that she looked very old; while clearly in her early thirties now, she still looked almost the same as when she was my Companion.

"Touchè," I allowed, smirking. "Other than that, though?"

Jan thought a moment. And made an "Ah" sound. "You always had an advantage in the mind," she said. "But you don't against the Master."

"Exactly." I swallowed. "And I don't know if I can beat him, Jan. I honestly don't."

"I understand that you're scared," she remarked. "But I think you can do it. Especially with the rest of us helping."

"That gratifies me to hear you say that," I answered. I flipped a final pair of controls. "Alright. Now to send her out." I led Jan from the TARDIS and turned back to it. "Sorry girl, but you need to be protected," I said to the TARDIS as I lifted my sonic screwdriver and let it whir happily.

Nothing happened.

I frowned. I checked the screwdriver. I tried again.

Nothing happened again.

I stormed back in and brought over the sensor screen. When I saw the result of the scans I was making I moaned and put my hands to my head. "No. No no no, he couldn't have."

By this time Jan was joined by Korra and some of the others. "Couldn't what?', Korra asked.

"The Master's done it," I sighed. "He's blocked my TARDIS from leaving."

There was silence. "Can't you fly it?", Katara asked.

It wasn't optimal, but I double-checked that too. With some of the others in the TARDIS I flew the TARDIS into the air. Very, very carefully.

We made it to about 10,000 meters before the engines started to shut down. I quickly reversed course before we began to fall like we had back on Terra in the Inner Sphere. Katara looked at me. "But how did we get out before...?"

"He was later coming, remember?", I pointed out. "He must not have had the means to erect the field over Republic City. But he's done it now." I swallowed while guiding us back to a landing in the underground lab.

When I stepped out of the TARDIS everyone was watching. "What's wrong?", I heard Steven ask. "Why did you try to leave?"

"I was testing something," I replied. "The Master has trapped us here. I can't get the TARDIS out."

"So no matter what, we have to fight," Kal-El noted.

"Exactly," I said. "So we'd better prepare."




A short time later, we had everyone seated or standing near the holotable. I stood at one side of it with Asami and Pearl while Reed and Stark were at the other. Varrick and Zhu Li were behind us. The designs of the mecha-units were showing on the holotable. "Going from our armor scans, the Master has significantly upgraded the suits Varrick developed for Kuvira." Asami indicated several parts of the machines. "The materials are stronger and provide more protection. The flamethrowers draw fuel from what looks like a renewable energy source instead of the limited reservoir of flammable oils that were meant for the design."

"Judging by these figures, it would appear they've been equipped with some form of hyperspatial tap source," Reed speculated.

"They have," I confirmed. "It's an older form of Gallifreyan technology that existed before the Eye of Harmony was discovered."

If Reed was curious as to what I meant, he didn't let it interfere with the question he was already considering. "I'm surprised the Master has found the means to build this kind of technology given the technological infrastructure of this world," Reed answered.

"We Time Lords are a resourceful bunch," I reminded Reed. "And when you're devoted to conquering the universe, or multiple universes, you learn how to make these things work."

"But he still had limitations," Stark pointed out. "He didn't install those particle cannons on the smaller mechasuits, just on the tanks."

"At least, he hasn't yet," Ron said from where he was seated between Kim and Bolin. "You never know with those evil geniuses, you know?"

"I don't think he can," Pearl observed. "The kind of particle weaponry we saw needs a larger volume than you could mount on these suits."

"Lady, I don't know how many evil geniuses you've fought before, but take it from a pro, they always find a way," Ron insisted.

Kim sighed and rested her face in her palm. "Ronnn..."

"I've been dealing with advanced technology for over six thousand years," Pearl retorted. "I know there are limits to these kinds of things better than you do."

"What if he used something more like a blaster?", Kerra asked. "Blasters are handheld in my galaxy."

"A possibility." I frowned. "The Master has been utilizing Cracks for his own purposes for some time. Relatively speaking. There's no telling what technologies he might have acquired."

"This is just boring," Amethyst protested. "I say we all just go out, find this 'Master' guy, and pound him into a pancake."

Ben pointed his thumb at her. "I'm with the gemstone. Let's go clobber 'im."

Amethyst laughed at that and grinned. "I like the way this guy thinks."

I almost snapped at them over it, but for a moment... well, out-thinking the Master was a dicey proposition. What if we were to just go for the blunt solution? Would he have planned for it as well as planning for more sophisticated strategies?

Well, more accurately, was the risk great enough that we could dismiss the thought that he planned for the "It's Clobbering Time!" plan over... well, an actual plan?

"With a foe like this, we need a plan," Garnet answered from where she was standing. "And we need to know what he can do."

"If we know where he is, I can sneak up and listen in," Molly offered.

"We can, yes," Sue Richards added. She was standing beside her brother. I wondered who had been left with babysitting chores.

"Since we're here, can't we find out more about what we do know?", Bolin asked. "I mean, just in case we don't learn anything else?"

I held a hand up to try and forestall further discussion. That's the problem when you have a group like this; everyone's used to speaking. Not that I'm against it, but it did contrast rather heavily with the briefing I'd given my allies for the battle at Chichen Itza. "Yes, getting back to that..."

"Each suit has a series of weak points that the armor can't effectively protect," Pearl noted. She generated a white stick from her gem and held it over the hologram. "Here, here, here, and here. Any number of attacks can disable these suits if they are made at these points."

"How did he get it down to so few anyway?" Varrick looked upset. "I can't believe he was able to correct for the other ones."

"Yes, well, Time Lord," I noted. I looked to Reed.

"Excuse me?" Kuvira raised a hand. "Can you tell me how he's won the loyalty of my army? Something seems wrong with them..."

Suyin glared Kuvira's away. In fact, quite a few people were hostile toward her. I sighed and pointed to a part of the schematics. "Neural overrides," I said. "Essentially, devices in the mechas and in the helmets that force the wearer to obey him and shut down any brain function that might foster resistance."

"So my people just didn't turn on me?", she asked. "He...."

"...he enslaved them," I finished for her. "Complete mind control."

Kuvira... actually looked horrified at that. She, who had build re-education camps to compel dissidents to accept her rule, or punish them for not doing so.

"Are you actually upset about him doing this, or just that he didn't do it and make them follow you?", Suyin asked nastily.

Ouch.

Kuvira didn't retort to her old mentor. "I... I never imagined. Don't you understand, Su? I just wanted to help our people. I wanted to lead like you could have, like you should have. I..."

Suyin crossed her arms. "You wanted power. You wanted control. And because of you, our world's being threatened by a madman."

I sighed and spoke up. "Please, Suyin? Now is not...."

Before I could finish, a red light came on the controls for the holotank. "Perimeter alert," JANET's voice stated. "Perimeter alert."

Asami hit the control. The holotank shifted to show a camera rigged to her mansion. It zoomed in on the distant road. Asami's eyes widened.

For good reason.

A solid rank of mechasuits was advancing up the road and hillside toward the Sato mansion.

Dozens of them. Hundreds.

Backed by dozens more of the mechatanks.

The air buzzed with what looked like rotor-lift combat drones tipped with small blaster weapons. They buzzed like a swarm over the ranks of mecha suits.

And behind these ranks, behind this swarm, a vehicle could be made out. A vehicle carrying a large cannon. A cannon just like the one Kuvira had built, with other machinery arrayed on it and vehicles coming along the sides of the main one.

The camera zoomed in on the platform beside the cannon, where the Master and Major Zhengfu stood side by side with more helmeted and obviously controlled soldiers manning the gun's controls. The Master was still in the same Gallifreyan suit. A similar suit was now worn by Zhengfu.

"That's a lot of robots," Steven gasped.

"Way lots," Ron agreed.

"He's coming for her," I said. "He's coming for the TARDIS." I looked back toward the others. "And we have to stop him."




"We need to take out the cannon," I said, making the initial priority clear.

"An attack from the air would be the quickest way," Jan observed. "But with those flying machines getting there will be hard."

"I can clear a path for the rest of you," Kal-El offered.

"And I'll give you cover," Johnny added.

I nodded at them. "That alone might not be enough. The Master will anticipate such an attack."

"Then I'll go by foot," Kerra said. "It won't be hard to sneak up on it."

"And even easier if you have someone to hide you. Molly?"

Molly gave me a sullen look but nodded. She and Kerra ran toward the exit of the underground property.

"Even if we can get to the cannon how can we disable it?", Tenzin asked.

"Asami and Stark should be able to easily," I noted. "If not either of them, do what you can to disable the vehicle and keep it from aiming."

Even as I spoke, Stark was finishing his armor up sequence. Asami had gone in first and was already in her suit. The roof opened above them and they flew out, followed by Johnny Storm, the Airbenders, and Kal-El.

I made further calculations in my mind. Having Sue Richards or Molly Carpenter veil the TARDIS may have helped some, but not likely much. The Master would know how to track it. There was little point in trying to hide it, therefore, and every point in doing what we could to keep the Master's forces back.

"The rest of us can form a defense around the mansion," I said. "Let's go."

"Where do we go?", Connie asked eagerly.

For all of their training, the last thing I wanted the kids doing was getting involved in a fight like this. "Guard the TARDIS," I instructed.

"But we can…"

"He's right," Garnet said, cutting off Steven's protest. "Guard the TARDIS."

"I'll stay with you and help," Katara offered.

I nodded at her. On top of placating Steven and Connie, this had the added advantage of letting us use the area as a medical ward for the injured.

Sue Richards provided us the means of getting to the surface quickly with invisible platforms. We all spread out with the Richards' and Grimm on one flank and the Beifongs on the other. The Gems and Jan stood in the middle with Korra.

The mechatanks and mechasuits were still advancing on us. The drones above them moved to intercept our flying allies. A pair of drones were melted to scrap by Johnny's flames and another fell to Kal-El's heat vision. Asami and Stark continued on with the others.

And that was when everything went wrong.

The cannon fired. And when it did, it fired a beam of ruby energy that struck Kal-El head on. He let out a cry and, as if a switch were flipped, plummeted to the ground.

Asami turned away from Stark and flew downward to help him. She landed and used repulsor fire to drive away a couple of mechasuits that were hitting on him. With my spyglass I watched him weakly grab onto her back before Asami flew back into the air and toward us. Johnny kept up a steady stream of fireballs to keep the drones from effectively pursuing.

"What happened?", Asami asked when she landed beside me with Kal-El. He let go and went to all fours. "It's like he lost all of his strength."

I scanned him with the sonic screwdriver. The results made me shake my head. "Red wavelength solar radiation," I answered. "The weapon permeated his cells with it."

"And what does that do?", Korra asked.

"My powers," Kal-El said weakly. "Red sunlight… takes them away…"

I checked the concentrations. At that level, even with exposure to yellow sunlight… it could still be hours before he was back in full shape.

Ten seconds. That was how long it had taken the Master to remove our biggest asset from the field.

"There must be a Crack on your Earth," I told Kal-El. "The Master learned of your weakness with it." I turned to the others. "Someone get Kal-El inside! He's in danger out here!"

"I've got him." Lin helped him up.

"Here they come!", I heard Mako shout.

The first groups of mechasuits was entering range. From our side fireballs began to fly out from Mako's hands and Pearl's spear. Janias reached out with the Force and threw back a couple of them before they could use a flamethrower weapon on her.

"IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!" Ben Grimm charged ahead. Flamethrowers from two of the suits did nothing to his stone-hard flesh as he closed the distance. One mighty punch and a mechasuit's leg came off. He reached over, grabbed the other, and began twirling the mechasuit around him until he threw it into an approaching mechatank.

Huh. I suppose fighting mechanical foes was old hat for the Fantastic Four.

Reed stretched out and used his limbs to impede the forward movement of a mechasuit beside Ben. Sue's arm shot out and invisible force slammed down on another mechasuit. She swung her arm another way and threw another mechasuit inward, where it met a pillar of smashing earth drawn up by Bolin. Bolin rushed ahead and gestured downward with his arms. The driveway in front of him fell apart and turned red as rock heated into magma at his will. He threw it up and forward until it swamped one of the mechasuits.

Even before the magma cooled, Garnet was running over it. Her gauntlets flashed into existence and smashed the weapon arm of one of the mechasuits. It flailed away from her and lost a leg to Amethyst's whip. Mako threw a fireball that knocked it back. The Beifong twins moved up on their flank and used their bending to send slabs of earth into a mechasuit until it recoiled. Korra and Suyin moved ahead side by side. Suyin swept an arm out and brought the ground out from under the mechasuit. An Airbending assisted jump put Korra high enough to twist in mid-air and bend a solid lance of flame that she drove down into the joint of the mechasuit. Another mechasuit loomed over her but had no time to act before Asami's repulsors blasted it away. Asami moved in, grabbed Korra with her free arm, and the two slammed into a mechatank with enough force to topple it, after which a beam of flame from Korra's palm joined the repulsors on Asami's palms to dismantle the machine's weapons. They spun around each other, back to back, flames and gusts and repulsors and chest-beams blazing, blasting a hole in the ranks of the Earth Empire.

Ahead of me the line of mechasuits fully crumbled, exposing the mechatanks and their particle weapons. Janias was already racing ahead, lightsaber flashing, and she moved with superhuman speed to begin slicing through the nearest tank as the mesmerized pilot tried in vain to shoot her. The tank beside it could provide no succor; Kuvira was wielding the metal plates on her suit with deadly accuracy, slicing free exposed hydraulic lines with her Metalbending. Beside her Pearl moved with eloquence, her spear raised and the fire of the enemy particle weapons missing given the poise and agility she showed. Her spear slashed through one spot, then another, and a third, and within seconds the mechatank was flailing and starting to falter.

And what was I doing during all of this, you might ask? I was, honestly, trying in vain to use my sonic disruptor on the machines. The Master had deadlocked them. Each and every one of them.

But I got an opening regardless. One of the mechatanks was thrown clear by a powerful cyclone from Korra's arm. As soon as it hit the ground I ran over and clambered onto it while the pilot inside was still recovering. I spotted the external hatch release for the cockpit control and pulled it with enough force to pop open the hatch. The Earth Empire soldier within initially didn't react to me. Neural overrides do have a deleterious effect upon response times, you see. I had just enough time to reach down and pull him loose from his harness. He cried out and I realized why when I saw the holes in the back of his neck. I'd just yanked him free from the neural override. "Wha…?"

"Get clear!", I shouted, pointing to the mansion.

The soldier looked at me and frowned. "But you're…"

"Do as he says, Private!"

Kuvira's voice rang out from nearby. Pearl was already moving on from the mechatank that they had just taken down, but Kuvira was taking the moment to look our way.

"Ma'am!" The soldier saluted and jumped off.

With that done, and Kuvira returning to the battle, I looked into the cockpit. I used the sonic to short out the neural override - the Master hadn't bothered deadlocking that, at least - and promptly took the seat and secured myself. The mechatank rocked as it was impacted by another tank - I didn't see who'd caused that - but I was not unduly affected in my efforts despite that. I used the pneumatic system to close the hatch manually and began to stand the machine up.

The Master's upgrades were not very evident with the controls. There were no control panels, no HUD display over the faceplate for the suit. I had visual through the circular port and a variety of controls before me. A flex of my hand moved controls that ultimately transferred to the digits on the corresponding hand on the mechatank. I used this to stand the machine up . As I did so, I spied a line of mechasuits coming up on Asami and Korra while they continued their rampage among the mechatanks. I used one control to turn the mechatank and move my arm to raise the corresponding arm, on which the particle cannon was mounted. I found the trigger was a pressure switch against my palm and pressed it. A bolt of sky-blue energy erupted from the muzzle and blasted the ground away from in front of the mechasuits. Korra whirled about and swung her arm toward them, creating a wave of earth that took the unbalanced suits off their feet entirely.

"Hey rock guy!" I turned while searching for a new target. Amethyst ran up behind Ben and shouted, "I need a lift!"

"C'mere, squirt. Time to show these yahoos the Benjy Fastball." After punching the leg out from a mechasuit he brought his right arm back and opened his palm. Amethyst jumped into it and formed herself into a glowing purple ball. "Batter up!", Ben shouted before he threw Amethyst towards the mechatanks.

Amethyst became a purple blur and slammed into one mechatank so hard she tore its limb off with the impact. She hit the one behind it and knocked it over. As she ricocheted in the air she returned to normal and lashed out with her whip. It grabbed the arm of the mechatank as it went backward while she generated a second one with her free hand. This one she used on the other arm of the tank. This balanced her when she reached the full length of her whip. A jovial laugh later and Amethyst was using those whips as a slingshot, throwing herself back at the mechatank hard enough to knock it over. Ben jumped up on it afterward and ripped the hatch off. "Alright, party's over!" He tore the pilot out, a bit too roughly if you ask me, and tossed him gently (well, relatively speaking) to the side.

While blasting away at another mechasuit, I took the time to check the air battle. With Kal-El down Stark and the Airbenders were fully occupied with the aerial drones the Master's army was employing. The Airbenders lacked weapons to directly destroy them, but it was still something to watch Tenzin artfully twirl around one and use a blast of air to send it careening into another. Jinora threaded the needle between two of them and caused them to shoot each other. Ikki and Meelo darted in and out of a formation, prompting the machines into more friendly fire while Johnny melted them to scrap with fireballs. Opal and Kai circled each other and generated a powerful funnel cloud to hold another group in place for Stark to blast from the sky.

With a check to the battleground again... I felt a surge of excitement. We were winning.

...which was really the first sign that everything was about to go terribly wrong.

The cannon fired again.

This time a beam of pure blue shot up the hill and straight toward the flank to my right where the FF and the Gems were still taking out another rank of mechatanks.

I felt myself gasp with relief when invisible energy stopped the beam before it could hit Ben and Garnet. The beam lasted for several more seconds before ending, and I heard a loud cry of agony as it did.

"Darling!" Reed stretched himself from a disabled mechasuit to where Sue Richards lay sprawled out on the ground, spent from her effort in shielding from the cannon blast. He pulled her back from the fighting.

"Get Susie clear!", Ben shouted. "I'll keep these yahoos off... urghk!" Two particle beams from mechatanks hit Ben and sent him rolling backward. Mako and Bolin moved up to his defense, fireballs from one and lava from the other knocking back one of the mechatanks.

But just one.

But my allies weren't done yet. "Pearl, Amethyst, now!"

Garnet fell back behind the brothers with her fellow Gems. I moved to their aid, using my commandeered tank's cannon to blast away the cannon of another tank moving to engage the brothers. When the three Crystal Gems met behind that cover, they...

...danced?

I was too busy firing to notice more than a couple bits of the movements; Pearl's elegant, ballet-like movements, Garnet's swaying steps, a bit of chaotic shoulder shifting from Amethyst. There was a sudden surge of light from my side, after which...

....well, you don't see that every day.

I knew about the whole "Fusion" thing from Steven and Connie's playful and accidental fusing on Kraknardaaplikuiuspinralakoolis. But now...

The fused trio - I was later told their mutual form is known as "Alexandrite" - lunged back into the fray with almost bestial fury. One arm had a whip like Amethyst's, another a spear like Pearl's, and the two purple hands were covered by Garnet's gauntlets. And each limb lashed out with its weapon; mechatanks and mechasuits alike fell before the fury of the creature. "Hyah!", she cried, Pearl's spear whirling about in a circle cut that slashed off the legs of an entire line of mechatanks. The gauntlet fists sent individual mechasuits flying and toppled mechatanks with each punch. Amethyst's whip, now sized up to Alexandrite, whipped around one mechatank and turned it into the mace of a flail, smashing other foes with it like they were toys.

With the FF out, things had been looking down. But now the Gems, in their fused form, were ripping through the enemy army with terrifying speed. The others cheered and renewed their own attacks with increased vigor. Korra moved across my vision, bending flames to topple a mechasuit, and Asami was busy blasting a mechatank down until Lin and Suyin could tear the pilot out. Mako and Bolin met another mechatank left damaged by Alexandrite's rampage and brought it down with a series of brilliant attacks to its weak points.

And then there was an explosion. It came from behind the enemy. I stepped back for a moment and pulled out my spyglass to look through it. What I found was the cannon was now burning. Flashes of green brought my eye to where Kerra was using her lightsaber to finish wrecking the vehicle while more colorful bursts of energy and figures in the woods distracted the nearby soldiers. Molly's handiwork, no doubt.

"It looks like our alternative attack worked," Asami said from beside me.

"So it does."

"Then why don't I feel like we're winning?", Korra asked.

"Because," Jan said, walking up on a mechatank and looking skyward. "We're not."

I followed Jan's eyes, looking over the battlefield where Alexandrite and the others, even Ben Grimm, were continuing to push the Earth Empire troops back. I looked beyond where Stark, Johnny Storm, and the Airbenders had completely disrupted the groups of aerial drones.

I looked up and saw the giant airship. Earth Empire green. The massive symbol of the Earth Empire had been replaced by Gallifreyan script.

And it also had a big cannon. And multiple other devices.

I noticed that just as it aimed toward us.

"Behind me!", I shouted to the others. Korra and Jan got in the shadow of the mechatank while Asami flew skyward.

The shot struck my tank so hard it made me feel like I was the one being hit. The mechatank lost all power and flew backward with the blast until it demolished the fountain outside of Asami's mansion.

With the weapon disabled I popped the hatch and stood up in it. I looked skyward as more drones descended towards us. The massive airship was disgorging them in heavy quantities, armed with lighter versions of the particle weaponry on the mechatanks and far sturdier than the drones the others had taken out.

Stark and Johnny broke off to go after them first. Both heroes recognized that the Airbenders, in their wingsuits, were no match for the firepower coming down; they would have to defeat this foe.

The airship fired yet again. This time, not the main cannon,but one of the secondary weapons on the frame. A missile launcher, by the looks of it, and then by the looks of the contrails that twisted through the air and began pursuing the two heroes. Stark and Johnny pulled away from each other and tried to evade their respective foes.

This meant the Airbenders had no aide as the larger, more powerful drones fired into their numbers. I heard cries come from them. Ikki took a blast to the back and plummeted toward the ground, to be saved at the last moment by one of the newer recruits. Jinora and Kai rotated around each other, trying to blast apart their formation with another of those mid-air cyclones. But the fire was too thick. A shot took Kay directly in the shoulder and tore apart the wing of his suit, sending him falling as well.

And the drones moved on, past the overwhelmed Airbenders, and toward the ground. I held up the sonic disruptor to shield myself as particle beams lashed out across the ground, striking our bending allies on all sides. Flames, rock, and metal lashed up to meet the foe in turn. Jan jumped from my downed mechatank, landed on one of the drones, and used her lightsaber to slash through it before jumping to another, and a third. She would take down six before being forced to hit the ground and start defensive deflections with it. Nevertheless she grabbed one with the Force and threw it into the fountain with enough force to knock it out. I would have reason to be thankful for that later.

Mako and Korra, seeing that tactic, sought to emulate it. They threw themselves into the air on flames and started landing on the drones as well, destroying quite a few. Then there was a blast of energy, and a cry. Mako began to fall and Korra jumped after him, calling his name.

"I've got you bro!" Bolin bent the earth upward in a slide to catch his brother's fall just as Korra generated air to soften his landing. "There, we.... ahh!" He ducked to avoid a drone trying to shoot him, spinning away to another footing like he was back in the pro-bending arena. As he moved his arm reached out like he was a discuss thrower and a stone ripped from the ground flew up and slammed into the particle weapon on the drone's body, smashing it.

It was a shame he couldn't get the one behind him before it shot him.

I ran over and shielded him from further attacks while he lay groaning. Korra brought Mako over for me to protect as well. "What do we do, Doctor?!", she shouted. "There are so many!"

"Alexandrite!", I shouted. "The airship!"

"We... I will bring it down!", the large Fusion declared.

The only reason we weren't overwhelmed on the ground had been because Alexandrite had been tearing apart many of the newcomers while barely noticing their attacks. Now she directed her attention toward the Master's flag airship. She started by throwing one of Pearl's spears toward it. A pulse of repulsive energy formed around it just before it struck, sending the weapon spinning into the ocean. Alexandrite growled and two of her arms, one from each shot, shot upward with Amethyst's whips. These attacks didn't seem to trigger the airship's active projectile defenses and the whips wrapped around it successfully. She started trying to drag it down.

As I watched through the spyglass, one of the other devices on the airship shifted over. It looked like a tuning fork of sorts. This struck me as odd until...

Oh no.

"Alexandrite!", I shouted. "Get clear! You have to get...."

When the tuning fork began to emit energy, my spyglass quickly confirmed what it was.

After all, I'd been the one to use it before.

It was the same disruptive wave I had once used to defeat the Zygons. The Zygons, that is, who had implanted Gems in their bodies for the powers. The wave I had accidentally discovered and in doing so had harmed two of the Gems.

Alexandrite let out an inhuman shriek as the waves came down upon her. Her grip on the whips tightened for a moment and she flailed, throwing another spear at the Master's airship. Its main cannon shifted and fired a bolt right into her arm, knocking one whip loose.

And then Alexandrite became engulfed in light. Four Gems emerged from that light, forming independent humanoid figures, and fell to the ground helplessly.

I saw Johnny Storm fly overhead then. The missile behind him was almost on top of him, literally above him, but just far enough away to....

....to blow itself up, or rather, to suddenly erupt in a massive plume of white. It fell on Johnny. And where a flaming human figure had once been, now there was just a blue-clad blond-haired young man who's arms cartwheeled wildly before he slammed into the ground.

The cannon fired again. This time, at the Gems.

It might have destroyed them if Ben Grimm hadn't moved up with a giant slab of concrete to cover them with. The blast broke it apart. I heard him cry out from under it. One of his arms was still sticking out of the pile, not moving, when the dust started clearing.

The winds picked up suddenly. I looked over and saw Korra's eyes glowing white as she shifted into the Avatar State. Energy surged and flames erupted from her arms as she pointed them skyward, lashing out at the Master's flagship.

It was about then that I realized that, in all of the confusion, I had forgotten one crucial fact.

The Earth Empire mechasuits were still attacking.

I was rudely reminded of this when a particle blast from one of the mechatanks remaining slammed into my deflector's shield. The deflector erupted in sparks and was thrown from my grip from the sheer power of the blast. I was left defenseless.

There was movement before the next shot could come at me. Stark was suddenly between us. The blast caught him in mid-air and before he could right himself he flew into me and we both went sprawling until we landed near Korra. My head spun violently from the impact. I tried to stand, to do something, while my eyes fell on Asami desperately fighting off the mechasuits attempting to get behind Korra. There was a blast of particle energy and she too went flying.

I yelled a warning at Korra, but she was too focused on trying to bring down the Master's airship.

And then the cannon on the ship thundered again.

With the Avatar State, Korra must have deflected the shot somehow. Or minimized it. It may be why I survived. It sent me flying again. I remember the pain filling my body even before I hit the concrete of Asami's broken driveway. I remember all senses seeming to leave me. My mind was drowning in pain and nausea and sheer shock. My hearts beat like drums, in a rhythm that threatened to down out my senses.

I managed to banish the darkness long enough to see the cables descending into Asami's underground lab.

After another splotch of darkness, I saw my TARDIS held captive within them as the cables moved skyward.

I turned my head and saw fallen comrades. Stark. Johnny. The Gems. Suyin and one of her boys were sprawled out and bleeding.

Korra? Where was Korra?

There was more fire. The mechatanks were shooting into the underground lab. I think.

I couldn't fight it any longer. My mind fell back into the black.

Everything was darkness.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-01 10:17am

I felt that I was somewhere familiar.

"Well, what have we here? Looks like you've gotten roughed up a bit."

I looked up and found a hand being held down toward me. I took it and allowed the benefactor to help me up. "Up against the Master, I see," the Tenth Doctor said to me. "Hope you're feeling up to it? He's rather the tricky sort."

"It feels impossible," I muttered. My head hurt.

"Well, he's not unstoppable," Ten pointed out. "Rather egotistical. Has a bit of a weakness when you mess around with his so-called brilliant plans. Gets all angry and upset. Doubly with you since he's got such a low opinion of you."

"What I haven't figured out yet is what he's doing, exactly," I said. "Clearly he knows something about what's been done to me. He knew to consider who my allies could be."

"Yes, well..." Ten looked directly at me. "...maybe you should think on that some more. Maybe there's something you missed."

"I have, but it's behind the block..."

"And how much effort have you taken into breaking that?" Eleven walked in now. "Because you're running out of time."

"It's a block in my bloody mind, it's rather hard to deal with," I retorted. "Every time I focus on it, all I get out of it are fragments and headaches that cause me to faint." I turned away from them and sighed.

"So that's it then?" Nine was staring me down. "You're just going to give up?"

"Of course not," I scoffed. "But I've got bigger things to concern myself with. The Master has us on the ropes. He's taken the TARDIS and his plans will destroy this world. I have to stop him."

"We know," Ten said. "And that's why you need to know what he's after. And to do that you need to think."

At that I sighed and put a hand to my head. "All right. Think. Fine." I crossed my arms and did so. I pushed and prodded at the block to no avail. From there I shifted my thoughts elsewhere. I began to put together pieces in my mind. The Master's knowledge of where I'd been and the allies I could potentially call upon. The things that have happened to me before. Facts about the TARDIS. And finally... that vision from Garnet. Something from the TARDIS interacting with the spirit portal and wiping out the world. Something that clearly wasn't just the Time Vortex.

I ran these facts again and again. All angles were considered. All possibilities.

"Well, look who's using their brain," Nine remarked proudly.

It had something to do with my TARDIS' special abilities. Something, perhaps, in its very nature, related to why I was created or programmed or whatever. Something more than just the normal functions of the TARDIS to suggest the Master's interests even before he crossed through the Crack.

But if I really had something like that in the TARDIS...

...where was it?

"Why?", I asked. "Why would something like that..." I stopped mid-question. That was a bad question.

"You mean 'who'," Ten said. "Who did this? And then you can ask why."

"Yes," I agreed.

My mind flashed back to something that had happened me some time ago. When Liara was on vacation. I had been bored and VWORPed out to find something to do, just to collide with a dimension-hopping starship on a different fifth-dimensional track. The TARDIS and the jump point of the Starship Aurora had interacted in some sort of faulty manner, trapping us in a pocket of pseudo-real space-time while we were within the matterless void of interuniversal spaces.

I had always assumed that my ship's dimensionally transcendental field interacting with their interuniversal jump point drive had triggered the event and the collision that caused it. But what if it was something else?

And then there was what happened inside the bubble of fake space-time. Dimensional rifts kept forming. Rifts carrying with them beings from places I had visited before. Firebenders of the Red Lotus, Red Court vampires, a drug-addicted troll of the Discworld, Darth bloody Malgus, even Pinkie Pie.

And now I had the Master showing knowledge of where I had gone before.

Pieces. Pieces of a puzzle I had been trying to solve since just about the time I could remember. They were all here. And now I had more of them. Enough to begin forming an image.

"And if I'm going to discover 'who'," I said to the Doctors, "I need to find out 'what'."

I focused for a moment. This was my mindscape after all. My brain. My thoughts could control it.

The formless area I usually met the Doctors in disappeared in favor of my TARDIS. The control room. I leaned over the communications panel. "First place I checked," I told them. "Nothing here. Well, nothing yet anyway. The DTI hadn't played with it yet."

"So you didn't buy that whole 'we just fixed it so you couldn't say we damaged it' excuse, eh?", Ten asked.

"It was rather sloppy of Lucsly, wasn't it?", I agreed. "He really shouldn't have been the fellow who was there. Too blunt." I held open the communication panel. Buried deep within it was a transceiver. Very advanced technology. "31st Century. Federation Temporal Agency technology. Not surprising, the FTA doesn't like me any more than DTI does. Can't say I'm surprised, the TARDIS does rumble a bit going through their temporal defense grid but it's never stopped me before."

"But this isn't what you're looking for, is it?", Nine pointed out.

"No. Sorry. Random thinking, I'll be needing this shortly," I commented before closing the communication console. "What I'm looking for isn't here, is it? It's somewhere... well, it's somewhere I don't go often."

For form's sake I moved through the TARDIS. The library, living area, spare rooms, etc. I traveled somewhere I rarely went.

I stepped out onto the catwalk with the others. We were greeted by someone else. "Took you long enough," the War Doctor said.

I squinted when looking at him. Had to through the intense glow nearby. I turned and faced the origin of the light.

"The Eye of Harmony," the War Doctor said.

"The power source for your TARDIS. For all of them," Eleven said.

I nodded and swallowed. "A star caught at the moment it was about to collapse into a black hole. I know. I've... for lack of a better way of saying it, I've always known." It was just one of the many things that had been planted in my mind by the process of becoming a Time Lord. "Are you suggesting the Master seriously intends to release the Eye of Harmony? He'd have to be daft."

"Well, no. Knowing him..." Ten shook his head. "...he's got something nastier in mind."

"But this... this alone doesn't explain what's going on," I pointed out. "There's something more."

"Yes." Eleven gestured toward the next door. "Let's move on. Whatever you think is here should be behind that door."

I looked to the door and swallowed. I... well, honestly, I didn't go in there. I didn't need to. I didn't want to.

"What's the matter?" Nine looked at me. "You look like you're terrified of it. It's just a door."

"I... I can't," I muttered. "It's not something I can..." I felt something within me shudder. My hearts were picking up.

"You know what's back there, it's just the engine room," Eleven pointed out. "Nothing to be afraid of."

"I know." I took in a breath and swallowed. "I know, but I..."

"You need to do this," the War Doctor said. "You need to know what's behind that door."

I drew in a breath. I took a step to the door. The blinding light of the Eye of Harmony seemed to grow ever brighter as I approached. My legs grew stiff. My arms threatened to grab the nearby railing and hold me there. It was like every part of my body was in revolt. It didn't want to open that door.

Wait. No. Not my body.

My mind.

"Wh... what...?", I croaked, taking another painful step. "It's..."

"You can do it!", Ten urged. "Come on!"

"You're supposed to be me now, so get it done!" That was a new voice. I saw Three out of the corner of my eye.

Another painful step. "You're almost there," Five urged.

My arm reached out and I felt my hand grab the railing. The limb refused to move. I put everything I had into forcing the hand open. "There you go!", the Second Doctor urged.

"Right you are!", the Seventh agreed.

"Fight it!" That was the Eighth. "I know it hurts, but you must!"

I cried out as I took another step. Just a few more...

Now the Fourth was here. "Keep at it!"

"You're doing fantastic!", Nine said.

"Don't stop now!", the Sixth insisted.

Another step. And another. And... I fell to a knee. Whatever force this was, whatever this represented, my mind was straining against a powerful force trying to bar me from that door.

The TARDIS engine room. The room I had never entered. The place I had never dared to go. What did it represent here, in my mind?

Could these be my long lost memories? The original me, locked away? Or was it something else? Some sort of knowledge that my "creators" had needed to lock away from my conscious mind?

One last step. One more. I needed to take it.

"You're here," a voice urged me. "You've come too far to quit."

I looked up. The First Doctor stood beside me. He took my hand.

"What if... what if I don't like it?", I asked him. "What if it's another burden?"

"Maybe it is," he said. "But it's something you have to face. You know that. We all know that."

I looked behind me. Every incarnation of the Doctor, all twelve that I knew of, were present on the catwalk, bathed in the bright light of the Eye of Horizon, yet plainly visible in their own light.

"You made us," he continued. "You took our Name. You brought us here. Now finish it. Finish this, Doctor."

I swallowed. And I focused.

My hand pressed to the door. I felt for a moment like my body - or mind - would fly apart. I gathered every erg of willpower to push the door, and it didn't seem enough. It simply wasn't...

And then it opened.

And I was enveloped in white light.




The other Doctors were gone. It was just me. Alone. In white.

I heard distant screams. An American voice, a familiar one from my dreams, pleading for mercy. Pleading for the pain to stop.

Just through the white, I thought I could see the outline of a humanoid bound to a chair, crying in agony as energy rippled over him. I couldn't quite make out the build...

"You're finally here."

The voice was in the distance. I focused, felt pain in my head, and could only make out brief glimpses. Hair. Light brown, tinged with gray. Soft, sad brown eyes.

The woman's voice echoed again. "It has taken you a long time."

"Who are you?", I asked. "What are you?"

"A fragment. A whisper. Here for the day you needed it. For the day you began to discover your true purpose."

I tried to concentrate. But I couldn't focus on the face. Not of the woman speaking. Not of the figures by the chair.

"This Human will serve our purpose. It must be done. For our survival."

I blinked. That voice. A face with it. I tried to focus on it but couldn't.

"You were delirious with pain when I touched your mind," the woman revealed. "The transformation nearly killed you, as it had killed so many others."

"The transformation."

Pain shot through me again. That chair. It seemed so familiar, the more I thought about it. But the memories were...

There was more. I thought I felt... something. A distant voice at the edge of my thoughts, urging my attention.

"We are running out of time," the woman said. "Your friends endeavor even now to awaken you. You are needed to save their world."

"There is something in here that the Master wants," I said. "Something in my TARDIS. In my engine room. The room I..."

It was almost horrifying to think of it. After all of this time, in all of my travels, I had never gone into that engine room. No matter how many times I'd searched the TARDIS, or explored it, or simply been checking up on things. I had just... never imagined it. Like it had never been there.

"A misdirection circuit," I muttered. "Why didn't I think of that? Of course. It's a misdirection circuit backed by a hidden mental compulsion should the circuit ever fail. I don't think of the TARDIS engine room, and if I ever tried my mind would be compelled to ignore it further. The Master must have known. It's why he couldn't tell me. It might have undermined the compulsion."

"Yes. You could not be allowed to discover what was within the engine room." The woman lowered her eyes. "Had you discovered its purpose, you would have ruined the entire plan."

"What plan? What plan are you talking about?"

"I am but a whisper," the woman replied. "I do not recall it myself. But I know it is terrible in scope. That it is wrong."

I nodded. My mind started moving. In the distance, the voice was getting louder still. "That's what it is, isn't it? This... this 'plan' you speak of. That's what the Master's looking to accomplish, isn't it? Was it his plan? Wait, no. I don't think so. Not the way he's talking. He simply knows what it is. That it's something in my TARDIS and it has something to do with the Eye of Harmony and my TARDIS' sixth-dimensional capability."

"You must stop them," the woman urged. "For the good of us all. Their plans cannot be allowed to come to pass. The power is too great."

"Power?", I asked. "So that's what this is about. Power. The Master is looking for power, looking for power to...."

My eyes widened.

Could that be it? Could it really be it?

Could he do something like that?

And I knew this mysterious being was right. I had to stop the Master. I had to stop him now.

Which meant I needed both a really good plan and a lot of luck.

"Doctor!"

It was the voice again. And this time, it jolted me awake.




I woke up and found myself looking at a very worried Avatar Korra. Faint pain in my head mixed with the sensation of my hair being wet. "Korra?" I smiled and sat up, putting my arms around her.

This was apparently enough of a surprise that she lost her concentration and the water fell from my cranium and down my back. "Woh."

The mental image of that cannon on the Master's Airship shooting her came back. "You're okay!"

"Well, yeah. I was more worried about you. That head injury looked bad."

I released the hug and looked around. We were in the drawing room of the Sato mansion. Wing Beifong was the nearest to me and was still unconscious. The bloodied bandage on his forehead didn't look good. Beyond him I saw a weary-looking Tenzin laid out in a chair with a cast on his leg. Other wounded Airbenders were laid out in the room. "Where is everyone else?"

"Salvaging what we can from Asami's lab." Korra frowned. "The Master's forces did what they could to wreck everything before we drove them off." She looked at me and those bright blue eyes turned sad. "We failed. We couldn't stop the Master from making off with the TARDIS. I'm sorry, Doctor."

"It's not your fault," I said. "He outsmarted me. He played everything right." I turned in the couch that I had been laid out on and stood up. "But it's not over yet. I think I know what he wants."

"Whatever it is, it can't be good," Korra said.

"It most definitely isn't," I confirmed. "But I may know how to stop him. Tell me... has anyone see Katara or the children?"

Korra shook her head.

"Ah. Good." I smiled at that. "Very good. I need to get to Asami's lab and see what everyone has scrounged up. We have some work to do."

"Do you think we can beat him? He knows all of our weaknesses," Korra pointed out.

"Oh yes he does," I agreed. "And that's why we're going to win! Now come along! Work to do, the Multiverse to save, all that sort of thing!"

With Korra following me, I took off for the lab.

I knew what the Master was doing. I knew what he was trying to accomplish.

I knew he had to be stopped.

And, most importantly, I knew how to actually stop him.




The damage to Asami's underground lab hadn't been as bad as I had feared. I had gathered everyone in it now and set myself to going through all of the intact equipment. "I do apologize, no time for a proper meeting or what have you," I said to them. "'Time of the essence', that sort of stuff."

Mako asked, "Korra says you have a plan?"

"Something of one. I need to finish this first." I indicated the device near the wall. "And while I do so, let's discuss our options."

"Well, Kal-El is feeling better." Asami was out of her armor.

"It might take me a few more days to be to full strength," he admitted to us all. "But I'll do what I can."

"Good," I said. "Because this is going to be a multi-step plan. Professor Richards, that screwdriver if you don't mind?"

Reed reached across the room and handed me the screwdriver, allowing me to begin prying open one of the destroyed pieces of technology. "Have you given any thought on why the Master wants your ship?", he asked me.

"You might say I've slept on it," I replied, still working. "And I think I know now. It's about the Eye of Harmony."

That got me puzzled looks from the others. "You mentioned this before," Reed noted. "What is the Eye of Harmony?"

"The original was the source of power that turned the people of Gallifrey into the civilization that led to us becoming Time Lords," I explained. "You take a star about to collapse into a black hole and capture it in a specialized time field at the moment of collapse. This state becomes permanent and releases tremendous amounts of energy at a constant basis."

There was quiet. "Yo, Stretcho, you okay?", I heard Ben ask.

"That… sounds utterly impossible," Reed managed. "But if it's true, then the amount of energy involved…"

"It is beyond compare," I confirmed for him. "A projection of the Eye of Harmony is what fuels TARDISes. They're…. they're part physical pieces of the original Eye, part duplicates. Well, even that's not accurate, but that's as good as I can manage for an explanation."

"And the Master wants this… facsimile that's in your TARDIS," Reed said. "Presumably to use its energy for a larger purpose."

"Something like that," I stated. "And it's not going to be pleasant for this world. Now…"

There were newcomers through the door. "Where's Steven?!", I heard Pearl cry out.

"Safe enough within the TARDIS," I replied. "Which is just where I need him, and Connie, and Katara." I looked back to them. "Thanks for joining us. Pearl, might I get some help? I need the transceiver assembly over in the corner, please."

"What plan do you have now?", Kerra asked.

"A decent one. Decent. The Master will see it coming, of course, and that's the point."

"You want him to know what you're going to do?", she asked with some evident confusion.

"No. I want him to think he knows what I'm doing by playing along with his expectations. Then I want to spring my real plan on him when he's exposed and unable to counter." I smirked at that thought. "So, while I finish this and make sure of some things, why don't I lay out the plan?"

"Yeah, because I've got to hear this!"

Varrick's voice boomed through the lab, startling several people.

"Where were you when we were getting attacked?", Lin demanded.

"Staying safe, of course," he answered me. "I'm not exactly a fighter, you know?"

"Right," I conceded.

"But, if you give me an hour or two, I can get this baby operational," Varrick declared, leaning against the Mark I.

"Then get to work," I said in response. "While I lay out the plan."

I did so. It was a splitting of forces that was unavoidable; one group taking to the air and going after the Master's Airship, the other slipping into Republic City via its underground level and getting to the spirit portal that way. And the final group...

"Now yer talkin'," Ben declared, slamming his fists together. "Big Blue and I'll get their attention, don't you worry. That Master you keep talkin' about is goin' to get a clobberin'."

"Meanwhile Miss Sato and I will lead the attack on the airship," Stark added. "Although I'd feel a lot more confident about that if we hadn't lost so many of those Airbenders of yours to the first fight. A lot of them were badly hurt."

"There's still enough of us to help." That was from Kai. He was in clothes left by some of Mako and Bolin's family while his wingsuit was being repaired, presumably by an Airbender too injured to keep fighting.

"I don't like putting you in harm's way," Kal-El said. "Many of you are children."

"We're not just kids!", Meelo shouted. "We're Airbenders!"

"Yeah, and Grandpa Aang was just a kid when he beat the Fire Nation and saved the world!", Ikki added.

"They're not much younger than Bruce's usual recruits," I pointed out drolly.

Kal-El gave me a weary look. Stark, for his part, just shrugged.

"Now just let me finish this," I said, "and we'll be about ready."

"It looks like you're building some sort of communication device," Reed observed. "But what kind of signals will it read?"

I smirked. "The kind that an FTA agent would want to have to listen in on me, that's what."

I left them to plan at that point, focusing on my work. I hooked in the power source I needed and used the sonic screwdriver as a control, flipping through channels until I found the right pattern. I brought the receiver up to my mouth. "Katara, if you can speak, do so. If you can't, please tap the microphone twice."

Everyone was watching and awaiting a response. Finally there was a pair of taps.

"Okay, understood. Listen, I need you to examine, if you can, what the Master has done to the TARDIS and to let me know. Tap twice for saying you can't and three times for saying you can."

Another moment passed. Tap. Tap. Tap.

"Good. Give me an update whenever you can. Keep Steven and Connie with you but don't hesitate to hide them temporarily if you feel endangered.

Another pair of taps. She understood.

"Good show," I said into the microphone.

"They're okay, oh thank goodness," Pearl sighed.

"We'd better finish getting ready," I said. "They're going to need us soon enough."




So, the players. I should probably make clear who would be doing what.

The remaining Airbenders, led by Opal, would be joining Asami and Stark in going after the Master's main Airship. Meanwhile the FF, Kal-El, Korra, and the Gems would be taking the ground and thus face the bulk of the Master's remaining forces alongside most of the Benders who weren't staying behind to heal their wounds.

Which, of course, left me, Jan, Kerra, Molly, Suyin, Opal, and Kuvira. Sue Richards kept us invisible as we approached the outskirts of the city in what vehicles were left on Asami's estate grounds. Molly took over veiling duties after that, leaving Sue to join the rest of the FF for the ground approach while we slipped into the underground levels.

The Equalists, the Triads, Xuandi. Every one of these groups had used these tunnels. We were no different. An old Equalist rail car greeted us upon our arrival at one of the lower levels. "I'm surprised you still haven't put a subway down here," Molly said to the others as Suyin and Kuvira prepared to propel us forward on it.

"I had thought of that," Kuvira revealed. "After…"

"...after you conquered the Republic, you mean," Opal finished for her, scowling. "Let me guess. You would have used the slave labor from all the re-education camps you were going to open?"

"I opened those camps to give bandits and anarchists a second chance," Kuvira insisted.

"But you ended up sending innocent people to them," Suyin retorted. "People whose only crime was to speak out against you."

"And what about the Firebenders and Waterbenders you locked away in those camps?", Opal added.

"That was a temporary measure to deal with possible spies." Kuvira sighed. "Or it was supposed to be."

"How could you have fallen so far?", Suyin demanded. "How could you become such a monster? Nothing I…"

"I was trying to be you, Su!", Kuvira shouted.

Opal and Suyin stared at her. "What…?"

"You were always so in control," Kuvira continued. "You knew what was needed and how to get it done. Nobody questioned you. And Zaofu prospered. I wanted that prosperity for the entire Earth Kingdom. When you wouldn't take charge, it became the only choice I had left. To try and lead like you."

"I…" Suyin frowned. "I never threw anyone into camps!"

"No. You just threw out anyone who wouldn't behave," Kuvira pointed out. "I thought I could do better. I thought I could convince people to become better."

"It's not always that easy," I pointed out, joining the conversation.

"So that's it?", Opal demanded. "You think you only need to say something like that and we'll forgive you?"

"I just…"

"You hurt us too much," Opal insisted. Anger was on her face when she added, "I'll never forgive you."

"Could you please do this later?!" Molly frowned at them. "My veil can keep some sound in, but that screeching is going to be heard if you keep it up!"

The three went quiet for a tense moment. When it seemed that the tension was building to a verbal response of some sort, there was a beeping from the device I had with me. Which, at that point, provided a thankful distraction. "Ah, hello?", I said into it, eager to continue the distraction.

"Doctor?"

"Katara! Ah, good. Tell me, how are things?"

"I got Steven and Connie into the Garden Room," Katara explained. "We're safe for the moment."

"Good," I answered. The Garden Room was where I kept the kind of things you keep in a garden. For scientific or culinary purposes, of course. "Can you tell me what the Master has done with the TARDIS?"

"He's attached something to the TARDIS controls. I couldn't tell what. When I looked outside I saw the spirit portal Korra created and some sort of machinery that I have never seen before."

I nodded. "Okay. Katara, I'd like you to wait for my signal, and then I want you to do what you can to shut down his devices."

"Yes, Doctor."

"Good. I'll hear from you soon." I lowered the transceiver I'd cobbled together and returned it to my pocket. "We should get going," I said to the others. "Timing will be everything."

Without a word, Kuvira and Suyin began to pull us along with their Metalbending.

But that wasn't the only rumbling we heard. There was more from above.

The battle had begun.




How do I describe the battle? I mean, the tactics were fairly common. Reed had effectively been put in charge, but in practice he directed the efforts of his immediate family and provided suggestions. In much the same way, Garnet directed her group's activities and Kal-El, as usual, used his speed and power to aid anyone who needed the help. Lin was in effective charge of her nephew and the Fire Ferret twins.

And Korra… was Korra, which meant throwing everything she had at the other side and fighting with ferocity that never seemed to relent.

The Master's main Airship, flanked by smaller ones, descended to join the battle. The air portion of the fight began at about that time. Stark and Asami led the Airbenders into the growing number of drones. Repulsor fire and other weapons were joined by cyclones and blasts of air calculated to knock drones into each other or back into the airships. "There are people on board, they're victims too," Asami pointed out. "We can't just shoot them down."

"[We might not have a choice." Stark jinked away to avoid a drone. He reached his hand out and blasted it with his repulsor to down it. "I'm relaying targeting points to you. We should be able to force them into landing."

"I'm ready."

"Sending the weak points now."

They swept away from the formation of Airships and turned back toward them. Both watched the indicators on their suits line up the shot. In one motion both revealed missile launcher weapons protected by their shoulder armor and triggered them. The storm of missiles lashed out and struck one of the escorting airships. It began to plummet.

"Yeah!", Stark crowed. "Now on to the next one."

"I'm on… watch out!"

Asami shifted her mid-air course and slammed into Stark. Both went flying out of the way of a large burst of energy from the main airship and its large cannon. By the time they righted themselves another wave of drones was moving in for the attack.




In the underground we continued to walk our way through quietly. I kept the sonic up and passively scanning for any mechasuits or individuals ahead of us, but we were clear all the way to east of downtown. Given Molly's earlier outburst, the Beifongs and Kuvira had kept quiet. But there was no mistaking the frustration and anger there.

But I had other things on my mind. Primarily the lack of obstacles.

The idea that the Master was going to ignore this approach was… well, not at all something I could find reasonable. It was the third and most concealed approach vector toward the crater, and the one he knew I would favor for my own path. He had to have something down here.

I pulled out the spyglass and held it to my eye. I used every enhanced imaging mode I had in it to spy into the darkness ahead.

We were coming up to the end of the tunnel. Beyond was one of the larger underground areas, presumably housing sanitation pumps or some other part of the city infrastructure, that would take us even closer to our goal.

As I cycled through the image types, though, I made out the figure of a man standing at the exit. I zoomed in, filtering to low visibility magnification and enhancement, and watched a green-tinged outline of the man.

Major Zhengfu.

But what got my attention wasn't the appearance of the Master's apparently-willing number two man on this world. It was that his eyes were obscured by what looked to be… goggles.

I swallowed. "Molly, your veil… does it also hide heat?"

"What?", she asked.

"Does it obscure the heat our bodies give off into the atmosphere", I asked. My voice was insistent, and for good reason. "Because he's using infra-red goggles."

From Molly's reaction, it's safe to assume the answer was "no". Admittedly most of the things she would need to veil from wouldn't have goggles like that and tended to rely on basic, if enhanced, senses.

Zhengfu's arms reached up suddenly and made a pulling backward motion.

The stone and mortar above rumbled and the supports for them came free from Zhengfu's bending.

Suyin and Kuvira were moving us along ever more quickly now, but I could see we weren't going to get free of the tunnel before it collapsed. I reached for the sonic disruptor and hoped that the deflector shield would be able to resist the collapsing tunnel.

"Hang on!", Jan shouted. She held her arms up and I could sense she was calling upon the Force, using it to stabilize the ceiling above us as we continued on. Kerra did the same.

Opal took it upon herself to be our offense. She went to the front of the car and threw punches into the air, sending currents of wind at Zhengfu. He moved to dodge them while continuing to making pulling motions that tore out more of the ceiling above us. When I looked up, through the falling stones, I could see what he was wrenching free; a major lateral support column.

And to make things worse, Opal was having to divert from attacking to using her Airbending to blast falling stones from the railway lest we be derailed.

I started to calculate if together we could at least keep ourselves in a pocket within a cave-in, then dig our way out. But even if we survived, the time it would take, and with none of us wounded at that....

But before we could get buried like Zhengfu planned, Kuvira suddenly jumped free of the car. She turned toward it and, with every erg of energy she could muster, used her Metalbending talent to send it flying down the rail.

Zhengfu cried out in surprise and barely jumped in time to avoid getting run over. We barely stopped in time ourselves; it took everything Suyin had to keep us from not just slamming into the stop barrier but from demolishing it. Opal and Jan even flew free from the impact and rolled to a stop further ahead, saved from serious injury by their respective gifts being applied to lessen the impact.

But we were safe, at least. For the moment anyway.

Of course, Kuvira was now in the collapsing tunnel, and even without Zhengfu actively tearing it further apart it was still raining stone and metal around her.

"Come on!" Kerra held her hands up and kept the debris from crushing Kuvira for the moment, allowing Kuvira to draw closer and closer to the exit.

A large rock slammed into Kerra's ribs. She cried out and doubled over. Zhengfu, recovered from his leap, advanced on her and was stopped by Suyin lashing out with a strip of metal from the rail car that knocked him off-balance.

And as Jan was still recovering from her tumble, that meant there was nobody to help Kuvira.

She was within five feet of the exit when the tunnel exit completely collapsed from all of the damage.

I pulled my sonic disruptor over and keyed the neural shock setting. Zhengfu cried out from the disruption it caused in his brain and doubled over. He was helpless to keep Suyin from knocking him out with a well-placed blow.

Molly was rushing to Jan's side while I went to Kerra's. She nursed her side a bit as she stood with my help. "She's still in there," Kerra said. "She's hurt."

"We don't have time to help," Suyin insisted. "We have to keep going."

"The entire tunnel is still unstable and may collapse further." Kerra looked at Suyin intently. "If we don't get Kuvira out now, she's going to die."

Suyin's face turned hard at that moment. There was no way to see what emotions were roiling within. Satisfaction? Guilt? Anger?

"If we don't stop the Master, we all die," Opal pointed out.

"I'm not leaving her behind," Kerra vowed. "She saved our lives."

"She's the reason we're in this mess in the first place!", Opal shot back.

"Both of you stop it!" Molly stepped up with the others. She looked at me and then back to the debris. "Either help her or don't, just don't stand there arguing about it!"

Kerra stood a little higher and pulled free of me. She brought her hands up and focused on the rubble covering the tunnel. "Some of you should go on with the Doctor," she said. "I'll be fine."

"Says the young Jedi with broken ribs," I pointed out.

"I'll stay with her," Jan offered. "Together we can dig her out quickly."

I looked to Jan with a frown on my face. Truth be told, I didn't feel much different than Suyin. I had repeatedly warned Kuvira of the road she was on, and she had ignored me. She had contributed to this situation. And even she would know that her life couldn't be measured against her entire world, and any worlds beyond threatened by the Master's plan.

Jan's eyes focused on me. She could sense what I was thinking. And it wasn't hard to see what she was thinking. What she was urging me to decide.

"Opal," I said. "Help Kerra where you can."

"But you need..."

"Kuvira will answer for what she's done, but not this way," I finished. "She doesn't deserve this."

The look on Opal's face told me she agreed with that statement only in that she felt Kuvira deserved worse.

But she took up a place beside Kerra. Suyin used Metalbending to fully restrain Major Zhengfu and we went on our way.

Hopefully those above were doing better.




But they really weren't.

"Kai!", Jinora cried out, seeing her crush take a glancing particle blast to the side. Had it been a direct hit it probably would have killed him. Just like the fall from thousands of feet up would kill him. Jinora twisted in mid-air, sent a small cyclone to scatter the drones surrounding him, and flew to grab Kai from the air.

In all that she might have gotten hit herself, but the drones behind her melted under the flames coming from Johnny Storm's hands. "Come on, everyone, over here!", he shouted, sending out repeated blasts of flame that were more intended to get enemy attention than to destroy them.

He succeeded. And probably regretted it when he had over a dozen of the things trying to shoot him from the sky.

Asami came up behind one of the other escort airships and directed repulsors into the engines. The shot succeeded and the airship stopped maneuvering. She might have had a chance to damage the balloon but the drones were hot on her tail as well, forcing Asami to dodge and evade in mid-air.

"Now I really wish Rhodey could have come," Stark lamented, dealing with his own foes.

"The Master must have converted Omashu into his own personal weapons factory," Asami said.

"You aren't sure? It looks pretty obvious to me," Stark pointed out.

"I knew there were irregularities in Kuvira's economic reports, but she was covering up a lot of data."

"Maybe I should hire her for the accounting department." Stark flew past Asami. "Ever see what happens when two repulsor beams hit?"

"No! Unh!" Asami took a glancing blow and was forced to ascend.

"Follow my pattern. On my mark, shift back downward and fire in beam mode at twelve degrees down angle to your left, distance of at least one hundred feet."

Asami didn't question him, wisely. She knew Stark had the experience edge in this work. She maneuvered herself appropriately while Stark moved to take advantage of his instructions.

"Mark!"

Asami twisted in mid-air, avoiding a drone's shot in the process, and fired her repulsors at the angle Stark specified. Her repulsor beams met his at the rough hundred meter mark between them. The repulsor energies reacted violently to each other, sending out a shockwave that knocked out the anti-grav drives on every drone within a hundred meters.

With the opening briefly provided in the cloud of aerial drones, Stark flew on to the damaged escort airship and carved a gash in its balloon with his repulsors. It started to descend.

The air shook a moment later. The main Airship's primary weapon was firing.




The blast that resulted from the cannon shot caught Ben and the Gems just as they were finishing off a pair of mechatanks. All four went flying. The same explosion sent debris flying that caught Reed in the forehead while he was trying to restrain a nearby mechasuit for Bolin and Mako to subdue. He fell limply to the ground.

"We can't win this with that cannon operational." Kal-El looked up from the broken remains of two mechatanks and shot upward. He might have gone even faster, but he was being cautious.

For good reason. He felt the energy just before it would have sapped his powers and moved downward in mid-air. "They've equipped the Airship with a red solar radiation shield, I can't get near it!" He looked toward the cannon and the beams of his heat vision seared upward.

They might have worked if the Airship's hull and weapon hadn't been given a reflective heat coating. The heat vision beams accomplished nothing.

"Heat shield... argh!" Kal-El was shot in the back by several of the drones. He wasn't really hurt by them, but he was still a bit weakened by the earlier exposure to red solar radiation and the shots were enough to stun him and cause him to fall.

Garnet looked upward. "Amethyst, Pearl!"

"We're ready, Garnet!", Pearl answered.

Which meant they were going to form their fused form Opal, whom I am assured is quite the shot at long range. Thus it was a good thing that Opal Beifong was with us (or rather with Kerra) as that would have caused some confusion. Although given their usual attitudes I'm surprised the two can manage a quantum state merger like that. Or however it works when it's all Gems and not a half-Human Gem fusing with a full Human.

So they did their thing and soon the tall, four-armed humanoid figure was looming over the battlefield and looking up toward the large Airship. When the crew swiveled the tuning fork weapon toward her, Opal - the Gem, not the Beifong, obviously! - did a fancy cartwheel and backflip, scrambled up one of the surviving skyscrapers, and pulled out her weapons with her spare hands. Which formed into a bow.

And I suppose mixing a spear with a whip could somewhat make one think of a bow. But no, it's not my logic, don't ask me how it works. Please.

Opal jumped off the skyscraper to avoid the tuning fork's anti-Gem emissions and took a shot at the airship from mid-air. It was all very impressive looking. Very impressive indeed.

Unfortunately the cannon got in the way.

Or rather the cannon's next blast, which hit the energy arrow fired by Opal in mid-air. The two energies collided and detonated with enough force to send an expanding sphere of a blast wave outward. It caught Opal with enough force to send her plummeting straight into the ground. Kal-El, Johnny, the drones, everything flying within a certain radius went, well, flying uncontrollably from the impact. Even the Capital Airship was forced upward by a dozen feet or so.

But it was still intact.

"We've got to do somethin' about that airship!", Ben shouted.

"Between the escorting drones and the escorting airships, we can't get through!," Stark answered him.

Ben looked back to Susan, who was trying to help her injured husband by applying a bandage to his bleeding forehead. "Suzie, we need Stretcho's smarts, and fast!"

"He's out cold, Ben," she answered. "I'm not sure he'll wake up any time soon."

"Oh, what a time for Reed to take a nap..."

"Korra!" Garnet's voice echoed over the battlefield, and reached Korra where she was helping Mako and Bolin fight off another mechatank. "You need to go after the main Airship! Before it destroys us all!"

Korra could have protested she couldn't fly (Well, not effectively, Firebending rocketry is an inexact science), but she was already in agreement. She broke away from that fight and started using a combination of said rocketry and the nearby buildings to ascend toward the Airship.

Apparently the Master, or whomever he had in control of the Airship, had thought the same. Because when Korra got to the top of the buildings and looked up, she found the cannon pointing directly at her.

It fired a second later.




Now, I know you lot want to find out what happened to Korra. Don't worry, you will. But first things first.

We were climbing up through the access areas for the city's water distribution network. "We're almost there," I mumbled to the others. "Look at the damage on the pipes. Shock damage from the fight with the Colossus."

"I'll take you word for it," Jan answered.

After another flight of stairs we were confronted with a heavy metal hatch. I stepped aside and allowed Suyin to rip it free so we could continue. As soon as we were going through, I took out my communication device. "Katara, can you receive instructions? Two taps for no, three for yes."

After several seconds, there was…. Tap. Tap. Tap.

"Alright. Wait five minutes, then follow these instructions. Go under the TARDIS controls and remove that command circuit I showed you. It should force the power systems to lock down and keep the Master from doing anything with the Eye of Harmony. Two taps if you understand."

Another few seconds. Tap. Tap.

"Excellent. Good luck." I put the comm back into my jacket pocket. "We're almost there. Jan, do you have any feeling on how Kerra's doing?"

"She's gotten Kuvira out. She's alive but badly hurt," Jan answered.

"Good. If you can, please inform Ms. Holt to get Kuvira to the surface and out of danger before joining the others. Kuvira's done all she can and she and Opal will be of assistance above, I'm sure."

Jan focused. Even if it wasn't telepathy per se, the Force did allow Jedi some mental communication. Imagery, concepts, that sort of thing.

In the meantime, we continued on our way.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-02 11:38am

Now that I've gotten that part out of the way, I'll return you to the surface.

The cannon fired right at Korra.

And as it did, something else plowed into her and pulled her out of the way of the blast. Korra and her rescuer ended up rolling to a stop on the roof of a nearby building. She faced said rescuer and…. I can only imagine the multitude of feelings she must have felt.

Zaheer looked back at her. "Avatar Korra, you're welcome."

Yes. I can imagine that mix of confusion, disbelief, and perhaps a bit of anger, all mixed up on Korra's face. "Zaheer. You're out?"

He was presumably rather unflappable about it. "I was released, yes."

"By who?", Korra demanded.

"Him."

Zaheer motioned to the south. A number of mechasuits and armored men were coming in, accompanied by biplanes in the air, and led by a man in a red uniform.

Korra's eyes widened. "The United Forces."

From what I know, she could faintly hear General Iroh barking in the air. "All units, proceed to the enemy's flank!"

Above them the biplanes exploited the drones' focus on the AIrbenders and on Asami and Stark. They flew in close to the escort airships and Firebenders harnessed to their wingtips began sending out plumes of flame and barrages of electricity into the airships.

There was a roar in the air. The biplanes were joined by a dragon that poured flame into the damaged engine of one of the airships. Lord Zuko held an arm out and poured more flame into the wounds on the airship's balloon, destroying more of the support structures that gave the balloon structural integrity.

"We have to destroy that main Airship," Korra insisted. "I need a way up there."

"I can take you through their defenses," Zaheer offered. "Do you trust me?"

That was quite the question to ask. Given the whole poisoning thing, I mean. But given the assistance he had provided in helping Korra get through that spiritual block, I'm not surprised that Korra only took a few seconds before accepting his help.

On the ground our allies were rallying. Garnet battered a mechasuit down with a flurry of punches. Amethyst sailed over her head and used her whip to grab another. Garnet grabbed the whip and sent an electrical charge through it and into the mechatank. The tank sparked and shuddered, but it was still functioning and bringing a weapon arm over toward them. A bolt of lightning caught it before the pilot could aim at the Gems; Mako was standing atop nearby debris and bending lightning into the mechatank. His attack put them over the capacity of the tank to take the lightning. Its systems shorted out and it fell, crippled.

Nearby a mechatank menaced Sue Richards as she guarded her unconscious husband. It battered and fired upon Sue's forcefield without effect, save the strain it put on Sue. Above her, Lin and Wei Beifong swung in on their metal lines and landed on the mechasuit. Their cables became cutters, slicing through exposed hydraulics. The mechatank's mesmerized pilot twisted an arm to try and get them off. This exposed him to a counterattack from Sue, who slammed the mechatank with a solid cylinder of invisible force that knocked it on its back. Lin and Wei swung away as it fell backward and Ben Grimm jumped onto the tank's chest to rip the cockpit hatch off and remove the pilot.

Another mechatank was challenging Pearl and Bolin. Both jumped out of the way of a particle blast. When Bolin landed he slammed his hands towards the ground. His will heated the earthen components under the streets into lava. The molten mass erupted through the broken street and created a pool of superheated rock around the mechatank. It became mired in the lava, which had the side effect of slowly destroying its treaded feet.

With a push of his arm Bolin created a bridge of solid earth leading high over the magma. Pearl rushed along the earthen bridge and jumped off at the tip of its ending. She flipped in the air with that elegance she is quite capable of and brought her spear down on the exposed portions off one of the joints. She moved about the mechatank with precision, hitting its weak points in rapid succession with all the skill of a practiced surgeon. Once the mechatank was slumping she jumped free and landed on Bolin's earthen bridge.

"Alright!" Bolin cheered. "Now we… look out!"

His Earthbending formed an earthen shield above them that absorbed the cannon shot. Or rather, weakened, as enough energy got through to throw both backwards. Pearl started to cry out as the disruption field from the tuning fork emitter focused on her. Bolin rushed in and grabbed her to try and get her to safety.

Unfortunately, this left them surrounded by mechasuits.

There was a great rumbling of the earth. The mechasuits were suddenly upended by massive chunks of earth tearing out of the ground.

"Ha. Still got the touch."

With the tuning fork's emission having ended, Pearl was cognizant enough to step free of Bolin, who was grinning madly at the sight of their savior.

Toph Beifong had her arms crossed. "Oh, it's you," she said. "Who's your friend? I've never felt someone like that before."

"How did she do that?", Pearl asked. "She looks like she's blind. And far too old a Human to be in a battle like this."

"I am blind," Toph said dismissively. "And I'm not too old to kick your butt."

"That's Opal's grandmother Toph," Bolin explained. "She's the creator of Metalbending."

That confused Pearl for a moment. "Opal's grandmother? That doesn't make sense, we don't have… ohhhh. You're talking about that young lady you were standing with earlier, aren't you?"

See what I mean about name confusion?

"I thought you said you were too old to fight these days?", Bolin asked.

"Yeah, well, when I got back to the swamp Zuko's uncle contacted me from the Spirit World and said both worlds were in danger. Old Iroh asked me to get everyone I could to help. So I did."

Said help was now evident by the arrival of others to the fight. Mechasuits threatening Lin's back were swept away by a tide of water summoned from the nearest canal by Tonraq and Senna, Korra's parents. Garnet was saved from a shot by the mechatanks by a surge of water turned to ice, courtesy of Kya, while Korra's cousins Desna and Eska used their water pouches to barrage the tanks with sharp bolts of ice. While the lead tank tried to endure this attack Garnet jumped past its arm and delivered a punch with her gauntlet that knocked the tank over. General Iroh rocketed over her head on self-made flame-jets and generated a powerful burst of flame on his way to the ground that melted the weapon off a mechasuit.

Wei looked up from where he'd fallen, hurt, and found water shining on his head. He looked into a set of blue eyes. "Aren't you…?"

"It'll be alright," Katara - old Katara that is - assured him. "Let me tend to your wounds… in a second." She lashed her arm out. The same water flew outward and struck an approaching mechasuit's viewport, after which it froze. This bought several seconds in which Amethyst rolled in - literally - and disabled the suit with a blow from her whip. Old Katara drew more water from a bottle and looked back to Wei. "Now, hold still, I'll have you healed in a moment."

"Look out!"

Amethyst ran in, lifted both healer and patient, and kept running… until the shot from the Master's Airship exploded behind them, sending all three flying. "Is everyone okay?", Amethyst asked.

Katara grimaced as she stood. "I'm not as young as I used to be," she sighed. I admit that I felt a deep pang of sympathy when I heard that; I was so used to adventuring with her younger alternate-timeline counterpart that I forgot just how fragile she could become in old age. But with nary a further complaint, Katara returned to the task of healing Wei.

Of course, this incident only reinforced that the Master's Airship needed to be taken down. Which is why I will resume Korra's part.

In a moment anyway. First things first.




We emerged from the sewers through a broken pipe exposed by the spirit energy blast. Water still flowed under our feet and into the remaining spirit vines laying upon the ground.

In the near distance I could see my TARDIS, flanked by mechatanks, and another machine near the spirit portal. It had an energy source of some sort and included an array of arms that reached into the portal. I imagined a set of wires also leading into my dear TARDIS. My expression hardened at that.

Well, there was also the issue that our exit had required going through running water. Which grounds out certain types of magic, such as, oh, Molly's veils. So we were completely visible upon our emergence and got the immediate attention of the nearest Mechsuits and troops as our reward. Jan jumped into action first. With the numbers so weighted against us, Jan eschewed the more cautious approach and pulled her second lightsaber from her belt as she dashed forward. With a purple blade coming from each hand Jan became a whirling cyclone of purple light, slicing and weaving through the mechasuits. The plentiful metal left from the ruins of the Colossus and its internal structure gave Suyin more than enough ammunition to begin knocking mechasuits about.

Molly's hand settled on my shoulder. Her veil re-asserted itself. "There's so much energy around here," she said. "I might not be able to keep you fully hidden."

"Let's go as far as we can," I answered.

With Jan and Suyin covering our sides Molly and I, again invisible, ran as fast as we could over the vines. We approached the TARDIS from behind, which would at least give me a good first shot at disabling her captors. I pulled a couple of overload capacitors from my jacket. Had to get a bit creative with the mecha all being deadlock-sealed.

Molly's veil meant we arrived unnoticed. Which wouldn't continue for long, I imagined, so I needed to get everything done now. After planting the overload capacitors on the two mechatanks I walked past the TARDIS to inspect herr from the front. There were indeed cables hooking my TARDIS into the Master's other machines.

The Master stood at the controls of the machine beside the Spirit Portal. He was operating them. Earth Empire soldiers were standing at his sides and more were nearby.

A wave of nausea came through me. But I did nothing like the cry that came from behind me. Molly cried out and collapsed.

Our veil was gone.

The Master chuckled. "Well. Zhengfu failed after all. I must say I'm not surprised. You have acquired quite the gathering of allies, pawn."

As I had suspected, the Master had anticipated all of my strategies. In other words, things were proceeding according to plan.

The troops leveled weapons at me. They looked to be primitive particle rifles. "You used Xuandi's old holdings to build all this, eh?"

"Oh, yes. All Kuvira cared was that I sent a steady supply of machines to her."

"And you kept the really good ones for yourself and suborned the garrison she left."

When I received a reply, it was full of contempt. "So this is how you seek to gain time for yourself? Petty questions?"

I shrugged. "Well, I'm rather the curious sort, I must admit."

That prompted another bemused chuckle. "Yes. That is what was counted on, you know."

I blinked at that. "You mean…?"

"Even with your memories blocked, some facets of your personality would remain," the Master pointed out. "Curiosity was one of them. It was a prerequisite, in fact."

"I see." I folded my arms. "Does this have something to do with whatever is hidden in my TARDIS' engine room?"

The Master turned toward me. A devilish grin was on his face. "Well well. Putting it together, are we? That misdirection circuit was quite an annoyance, I must say."

"What's in there?", I asked.

"Everything I need to become the most powerful Time Lord in creation."

"Oh. That's all." I sighed. I had been hoping for a more specific reply. "Multiversal domination then?"

"I will rule the empire I have always deserved."

I stopped speaking for the moment. I looked over his machinery. My mind made calculations.

Suddenly I felt disbelief nearly choke me. And then horror completed the job. "The Eye of Harmony," I said, almost so low as to be a rasp. "You're going to make your own."

The Master's grin was my reply.

Of course, to do what he was saying….

He would have to destroy this world in the process.




Above our heads and a distance away, Zaheer was carrying Korra through the swarms of drones, using his unique Airbender flight abilities to throw them off with the wake of his passing. Korra used her free arm to throw fire and gusts of air where she could to help. The drones were adjusting to the situation; they had identified Zaheer and Korra as a primary threat and were concentrating on them.

"Your left!", Korra shouted, giving Zaheer just enough time to avoid a shot. He twisted and twirled as more of the attack craft sought them out. "We need some…"

Before she could finish that thought, red beams lashed up and sliced through several of the craft ahead of them. Kal-El flew up near to them, just outside of the solar radiation field that would nullify his powers further. "Allow me," he said. He looked back to the gathering drones ahead.

And he took in a deep breath.

I admit I've never seen him do that one, but I know he's got the power. That "arctic gale" scale of breath not only threw the drones off-course and scattered them, it froze vital components and caused structural damage in the process.

Zaheer quickly exploited the resulting gap to fly Korra further up, almost to the main Airship. As they flew upward air currents bore Jinora and her siblings up toward them. "Zaheer!", Jinora cried out, surprised.

"He's on our side now," Korra answered.

Jinora nodded. "We'll try to keep them off of you!" She and the siblings peeled away. They flew towards pursuing drones, manipulating the air currents they were bending around them to throw off those attackers.

"It looks like there are more," Zaheer noted. Ahead of them the Master's Airship was disgorging another group of them.

"Where is he getting them all from?", Korra sighed.

"Hold on," Zaheer said. "I'll try to…"

"We've got this," Asami cut in, flying beside them. Stark came to the other side.

"Targeting systems locking on… now!", Stark shouted.

Their shoulder plates shifted out of the way to allow sets of small missile launchers to lock into place. The missiles were basically large darts, but the Starktech warheads inside packed quite the punch. Missiles erupted from both and corkscrewed ahead of them in the air. Where they found their targets, the resulting explosions blasted the drones apart or otherwise damaged them so heavily as to send them crashing downward.

Asami and Stark split away and carried on attacking the reinforcing drones. A red streak flew past them as they got to the Airship. "I'll hold them in their launch bay!", Johnny shouted before sending roaring flames toward the ports the drones launched from.

With the way clear for the moment, Zaheer flew Korra up to the top of the airship. She landed on one of the support beams for the balloon and righted herself.

"It's up to you, Avatar Korra," Zaheer told her. "I'll keep them off your back."

"Thank you again, Zaheer," Korra answered. I can imagine her face as she thought through her options and decided on the best way to destroy the ship.

While Korra prepared, Zaheer turned and flew on to engage aerial drones coming up behind them. His unique Airbending flight let him disrupt them by picking up speed and knocking them about with the air he was displacing. He turned about, came at another, and this time his hands moved as he went by, creating a blade of air that sliced the drone in half. This broke his flight for the moment, but only a moment, after which he was off again for another run at the others.

In the meantime, Korra had made her decision of the appropriate tactic. A way to take down the Airship without harming the mesmerized crew inside.

Her blue eyes glowed with ethereal power as Korra called upon the power of the Avatar State, of Raava, and went to work. She thrust her arms skyward.



Far below, the waters of the rivers leading into Yue Bay heeded her power. Water flowed skyward, a sight that caught the attention of many not immediately engaged in combat. Even the Master and I would note it during our discussion.

When it reached Korra it swirled about her. She began wrapping the water around the Airship. Around its main cannon, around the weapon that was tormenting the Gem, around the bay from which the aerial drones were being launched, around the engines. Everything. And the water kept coming.

Once she had finished wrapping the airship like this, she reached out with her will to bend the element further; by taking out its heat. Water froze to ice in an instant. The engines coughed and died. The launch bay door froze in place. The weapons stopped working.

And the extra mass of the ice removed the buoyancy that kept the Airship afloat. It began to descend from the sky.

But Korra wasn't done. She gathered her will and threw herself into the air on a funnel cloud of air. She used the same to take hold of the Airship. To drive it, firmly but gently, toward the ground. It started to come down near the park, where her Bending pulled up entire portions of the earth to form a landing platform and cage for the craft. Her Airbending formed a cushion of Air that softened the landing to ensure the crew wasn't unduly harmed by the impact.

The Airship came to a rest on the cradle Korra had created. She flew herself free of it with her FIrebending. More motions of her arms turned the cradle into a full cage and, in the process, pierced the balloon in so many places it would never go aloft again.

And with all of that done, Korra drew in a breath, made a respectful gesture with her hands, and dismissed the Avatar State.

Asami flew down to join her. "Kal-El is going after the remaining escort airships," she said.

"Good. Then we can…"

Korra stopped in mid-sentence when the bright orange light erupted from beside the Spirit Portal. "We'd better get there," she said to Asami.

"Hold on to my waist," Asami answered. When Korra had finished that grip Asami triggered her repulsors and lifted off into the air. It would be harder flying with Korra holding on, true, but it would get them both where they needed to be, and quickly.

Which turned out to be a very good thing…




"Bravo." The Master's slow applause was mocking in its tone. "Yes, pawn. That is precisely what will happen."

"But it's not their star you're going to take," I continued. "It's not possible for it to become a black hole. You're on to something else."

The Master checked his instruments. "It won't be long now." He looked toward the spirit portal.

"You're... you're using something in my TARDIS to do this," I continued. "Something from the engine room. It'll let you create another Eye of Harmony."

"It contains the seed I need, yes," the Master said. "But a mere collapsing star? There are greater sources of power."

I looked over the instruments. I considered that. If he wasn't looking to make his own Eye of Harmony, then what was...

The Spirit Portal.

Of course.

"No, you're not going to use a collapsing star," I agreed. "You're going to create a multi-dimensional disruption event. You'll tear this world and its adjacent dimensions apart and capture the destruction at the moment of its peak."

The Master began to laugh. "Oh. It's good to see that Time Lord brilliance wasn't entirely wasted on you, pawn."

My mind raced. That kind of energy, that specific kind of energy... it wasn't just artron energy like the Eye of Harmony created. It would be even stronger, even more potent, the kind of energy you created when you began tearing down or building up entire dimensions.

The kind of power that could literally make its wielder, or wielders, into Gods.

And yes, I meant the capital G in that.

"You wanted Kuvira to overload the spirit cannon," I charged. "The energy release would not only re-open the Crack, but widen it. Enhance it. Enough to become what you needed."

The Master flipped a switch. The device attached to the Spirit Portal began to surge with energy, sending bright orange light everywhere. I could feel the energy begin to surge from my TARDIS. "Don't worry," he said. "You won't die here. Not yet. I want you to see this. It's only fair. You made this all possible."

A voice from the past echoed in my head, metallic and evil and shrieking.

You are the Destroyer. You are responsible for the tears in the dimensions. You will bring about the collapse of our Universe, of all universes. You are the one! You! You! You!

The Supreme Dalek's parting words and now the Master's. They both chilled my hearts and begged further questions. Questions I needed answered. "What are you talking about?", I asked. "I didn't cause this!"

"That's the beauty of the plan," the Master replied. "You are just the pawn, sent out onto the board to move about until you had fulfilled your purpose. And now I will reap the reward."

The Master. With power like that.

Truly the stuff of nightmares.

I looked around. Jan and Suyin were still fighting the perimeter guards. Molly was out cold.

Time to play the ace up my sleeve.

I held up the communication device and hissed into it. "Katara, now!" I turned and used my sonic screwdriver on the mechatanks.

Or rather on the overload capacitors I'd placed on them.

Electricity arced through the giants, which slouched down and grew still.

Meanwhile I looked to the TARDIS. Katara should be done with the command circuit any moment.

Any moment.

The Master laughed at me and snapped his fingers.

One of his men opened the TARDIS door. Katara, Steven, and Connie were there, hands bound behind their backs and on their knees. "S-Sorry," Steven said. "Th-they found us."

I swallowed and tried to take a breath.

"Was that your plan?", the Master laughed. "Sleight of hand with allies hidden away in the TARDIS? Did you really think I would fall for such a thing? Is that how little you think of me?" He frowned at me and drew close. At a motion of his man two of his soldiers grabbed me. One ripped away the sonic screwdriver, the other found and tore the sonic disruptor from its harness under my jacket. "Though a Human, your Time Lord mind should have told you such simple trickery wouldn't work on me. The fact you thought it would anyway..." He shook his head and hissed, "I'm gravely insulted."

I couldn't speak. I just looked at his cold eyes. The faded blue made me think of a soul with all of its vibrancy, all of its color, sucked out of it.

I couldn't help but also notice that the Master's fingers on his left hand were tapping at his leg. Drumming out a beat. The drums in his head, driving him on like this.

And my friends, their world, they would be the victims of those terrible drums.

"I'm going to make you watch," the Master informed me with his voice turned to cold, frigid levels. "I'm going to make you watch me destroy this world and all of your friends and allies here. And then I'll make you watch as I conquer every world, every place, you have ever been to. Every being who has ever called you friend, who has ever given you aid, will die screaming before your eyes. And only afterward, only after you have seen me destroy every thing and undo every act you have ever done with that stolen name, will I let you die."




Patience, please. Yes, I know I've left you at a critical moment, but for sake of narrative I must establish things.

Kal-El met with Asami and Korra on the flight toward the crater. "The others are coming along as quickly as they can," he informed them.

"Maybe we won't need them," Korra said, holding onto Asami's waist and using her own Airbending to help facilitate their flight. "Look, there aren't many forces near the Spirit Portal."

"I'll go in first."

As he moved on Asami seemed to have noticed something on her display. "Wait, there's some kind of..."

Kal-El heard her and begin to stop. But it was too late. He struck a growing field of distorted dimensional energy and cried out as it tore into him, cell by cell. Asami and Korra managed to stop before they plowed into it. I'm thankful for this, because without Kal-El's enhanced Kryptonian form they would probably have been disintegrated. Korra used her Airbending to pull Kal-El out of the field before the effect became fatal. He was mostly unconscious when she brought him to the ground.

"We're too late." I imagine Asami said those words in a kind of "too horrified to be frightened" way. "The Master's already started his machines. We can't get through!"




Alright. Now back to the fun part. Namely, the Master vowing to slaughter anyone I've ever called an ally or friend just to spite me.

I stared at him and those cold pale blue eyes. I kept my expression stone-like to prevent any of the raging feelings I felt within from getting out and working to his advantage.

I did manage a question.

"Why do you hate me that much?"

The Master considered me for a moment. "Why shouldn't I?", he finally said. "You, who were given freedom no Time Lord has ever enjoyed before, just to squander it like this. You, the foolish Human who thought he could even approach the equal of the greatest of the Time Lords. Your very existence mocks and disgusts me."

"So you're jealous of my freedom, even as you insist I am but a pawn?"

"Of course. How great is the usefulness of a pawn who has been given freedom to do what the chessmaster wants him to?" The Master snapped his finger. The guards by the others readied their weapons. "So? Doctor. Which should I make you die first? We have time before the process finishes. Choose."

"None," I answered. "I won't let you torment me like that. You're going to shoot them anyway."

There was the merest hint of a smirk on his face. "Kill the boy," he said. "We'll save the others for later."

They leveled their weapons at Steven.

"Steven!," Connie cried out.

"Don't!", Katara shouted.

Steven looked scared. I noticed him start to concentrate slightly. A pink bubble started to blossom around them.

But it didn't finish forming. Steven cried out in pain and slumped against the side of the TARDIS door, half-conscious. Of course. The same inhibitor field that had disabled Molly, who remained unconscious behind me.

Steven Universe was going to die.

And there was nothing I could do to save him.

The funny part was... I didn't need to.

The energy flowing from the TARDIS abruptly ceased.

The Master's eyes widened at that. All of the sudden, with the blink of an eye, his plans came crashing down. There would be no stasis field to contain the dimensional disruption. No new Eye of Harmony to empower the Master with the energies to become a God, Capital G included.

He stared at me, surprise and disbelief mixed with sheer hatred.

And despite everything around me, I smiled.

The Master had anticipated every stratagem I had devised. He had acted to nullify all of my most powerful allies. At every corner he had proven how fiendishly intelligent he could be, and how outmatched I was.

But he had a flaw. A flaw I had exploited, and had been exploiting since he came for my TARDIS.

His arrogance. His contempt for me and mine.

The Master hadn't just underestimated me, you see. He had also underestimated my allies. Underestimated them to the extent that he hadn't even accounted for them all.

Have you? Because if you have, you may have noticed an absence in my narrative as of late.

There was a shout from within the TARDIS. A foot crashed into the guard about to shoot Steven and sent the weapon flying, and a moment later the guard flew into his companion courtesy of a body throw from Kim Possible. Kim flashed a grin at us. "This scheme is over, 'Master'."

"Booyah!", Ron Stoppable shouted from behind her. "The work is done, Doctor!"

Rufus echoed that "Booyah!" from Ron's pants pocket.

By this point I didn't even want to hide the smile that had come to my face. "You accounted for all of my allies except them. The mere Humans,," I noted. "Hard to worry about a pair of unpowered Human teenagers when you've got to worry about Superman, after all."

The Master trembled with rage. "Kill them," he ordered. "Kill them all!"

I immediately threw myself into the guard to my right. I wrenched the sonic disruptor free from him and used it to absorb a particle blast from another guard. In the same motion I kicked out with my legs, turning on my back, and tripped up the other guard who had my sonic screwdriver. I used the link between my two sonic devices to pull the sonic screwdriver through the air and into my left hand. I held it out toward one of the machines - the inhibitor field emitter by my scans - and used it. Said field emitter erupted in sparks.

Which was when Jan and Suyin came from around the TARDIS and joined the fray. Jan deflected particle rifle shots with her lightsaber and swiftly dispatched, non-lethally of course, more of the soldiers. Suyin gestured with her hands and freed Katara, Steven, and Connie from their bonds, allowing Katara to begin bending a pool of water on the ground into water tentacles to tear away rifles from more of the soldiers.

The Master had been backing away for his mesmerized soldiers to deal with us. Now he turned completely and went to the controls of the machinery he was using. I ran towards him and had to weave and dodge my way through some of the soldiers that were trying to stop me.

When I got close enough I tackled the Master to force him away from the controls. We tumbled onto the spirit vines on the surface of the crater and rolled for a moment until I was leaning over him. My hands gripped the collar of his red Gallifreyan-style outfit. "It's over!", I shouted.

"You are correct," he said. "It is."

He didn't even need to show me that angry smile for me to know I hadn't stopped him in time.




Stark had joined Korra and Asami outside of the dimensional distortion field that had harmed Kal-El. "We need to get in there," Korra said to him. "Any plans?"

Stark considered this. He turned to them after several seconds. "Asami, if we give ourselves a couple hundred meters of space to gain enough speed, we should be able to fly through the field before it begins to damage our bodies."

"That sounds like a plan." Asami turned to Korra. "We'll bring it down as quickly as we can."

Korra nodded. "I'll be waiting with the others." She gave Asami a hug. "Good luck."

Asami nodded in appreciation of that sentiment before joining Stark in the air. They flew away and upward, getting the right angle to get through the dome at enough speed to avoid getting torn to pieces at a cellular level.

And then they made their run.




There was a buzzing sound in the air. A growing sensation of wrongness. I looked up and saw the device the Master had attached to the Spirit Portal increasing the energy it was channeling. "You're destabilizing the Spirit Portal further," I charged. "You'll...."

The Master's hands grabbed the lapel of my suit. He was no slouch in the strength department either and he easily threw me to the side, forcing me off of him. Instead of pushing his attack further, though, he kept running. Back toward the sewer exit my team had come from.

I picked myself up from the ground and ran to the controls for the Master's machine. They were erupting in sparks when I got there and I let out a growl of frustration. He had set it to short out as soon as the energy being channeled to disrupt the Spirit Portal had grown.

"It's going to blow up, right?", Jan asked.

"Blow up and rip a massive tear in the dimensions in the process," I answered. "Not as immediately apocalyptic as the Master's original plan, but it will still destroy the world." I tried to use the sonic on the machine itself. All that confirmed was that it was deadlock-sealed. "Bloody hell," I cursed. "There has to be some way to..." I looked back to the mechatanks and hated myself. Their particle cannons might have managed the feat I needed... but I had disabled them in the process of knocking out the tanks. I looked to the others and realized none of them had what I needed. The kind of energy I...

There was a roar in the air. We all looked up in time to see Stark and Asami slam into the ground and skid roughly over the vines, each going probably thirty feet of rolling and skipping before they managed to lose all of their momentum. I called out to them and held my hand up. They answered by flying over as soon as they could get their bearings. "That... doesn't look good," Stark noted.

"If it finishes it will create a dimensional disruption event that will disintegrate us all," I noted. "And cause such damage to the fabric of reality that the rest of the world won't last very long afterward."

"We've got to stop it," Asami insisted.

"It's a good thing you're here," I remarked. I pointed toward what I knew to be the main power source for the machine. "If you both put everything into your chest beam assemblies and fire on it, you should be able to disrupt the device and shut it down. It's going to take everything you've got left."

"Right." Stark sighed. "And just hope the arc reactors don't overload. Well, this looks to be fun." He motioned at it. "It'll work best if we both concentrate on the same spot."

"Everyone get clear!", Asami shouted. Everyone did so. Suyin made sure to grab Molly where she was still laid out unconscious.

By the time we reached a safe distance, which gave us a vantage point behind one of the Colossus' hands sticking out from under the vines covering the crater, Asami and Stark were at work. Bright blue beams were coming from the assemblies on the chestpieces of their armored suits, as if the reactors powering the suits were directly dumping their energy into the Master's powr source.

And even as they did, the Spirit Portal began to waver. It looked like the surface was rippling violently. The disruption effect had almost reached critical.

We were almost out of time.

"My reactor's almost to overload!", Stark shouted.

"We can't stop!"

"I'm not saying we stop, I'm just.... Aaargh!"

Stark's suit became covered in energy. He fell to the ground. I frowned; he must have pushed beyond his safety overrides and overwhelmed his suit's capacitors.

That just left Asami.

I looked the other way and saw movement. Korra was running our way with some of the others behind her. "Asami!", she shouted.

"Find someone who can bend lightning!", I shouted to Korra. "It may be our only...."

I barely heard what Asami said next. But I did hear it. "Reactor to full possible output."

I could imagine the JANET system warning her of the dangers. But Asami knew it didn't matter. She had to make this work. She ignored the warnings. The beam coming from the armor suit's chest expanded and strengthened.

The rest of our allies moved to give what help they could. But it was too late.

The power supply finally went up. The blast knocked Asami backward and electricity arced into the machine bracing the Spirit Portal, which exploded violently. The Spirit Portal returned to normal.

But the explosions weren't just from the device. The first had come from somewhere else.

Namely, the reactor mounted in the chest-piece of Asami's armored suit.

Its destruction threw her backward and sent her flying into the ground, where she rolled several times before coming to a stop. She landed halfway between Korra and myself, and we both were in the lead to running toward her. "Asami!", Korra again shouted.

As I drew closer I could see what had happened. The reactor had gone up and turned Asami's armor chestpiece into a blackened char. Korra grabbed her and quickly found the emergency release along the side that disengaged the locks on the suit and caused the chestpiece to detach, allowing her to pull it and the helmet off. Asami's eyes were barely open and seemed to be looking distantly off... or looking nowhere at all.

Which was unsurprising when one looked at the mass of blackened flesh that was underneath the removed armor plate.

"Asami!" Korra reached an arm out and bent some water from her flask She settled it on Asami's chest. "I'll save you," I heard her insist in a low voice. "Don't worry, I've got you."

My mouth was dry. I started running the sonic screwdriver to see what the damage was.

And the damage.... well, it could have been worse I suppose. She wasn't dead. Not yet, anyway. Just... mostly dead. Massive trauma to critical tissues and organs. The kind that you needed very advanced science to fix, and still in a narrow time span, and far longer than it would take me to reset the TARDIS command circuit and go get it.

Katara - Companion Katara, not Gran-Gran Katara - joined her and started to use water as well. After several seconds she shook her head. "Korra, I... I'm sorry, I don't think any of our healing can save her. There's too much damage."

"No!," Korra insisted. Tears were flowing down her cheeks now. "I'm not losing Asami!" She kept at it. Even as my sonic confirmed that there wasn't enough oxygen getting to Asami's brain. "Not now," she pleaded. "Please."

I felt a familiar feeling surge into my veins. An icy cold fury gripped me. It gripped me like it hadn't since... since...

Katherine.

Mako and Bolin had joined Korra at Asami's side. They looked up and directed their eyes on me. "You've got to save her!", Mako shouted. "Please!"

"C'mon, Doc, there must be something you can do!", Bolin insisted.

I swallowed. Seeing them there, fear and grief written on their faces. Seeing Korra's futile desperation and the tears flowing down her face as she did everything she could to save the one she loved. I turned my head and saw Janias looking at me intently. Connie and Steven were looking up at me as well, hope written all over their little faces.

My mind raced. There had to be something I could do. Some way to save her. I couldn't let her die, not like Katherine. Not after all of this. I couldn't let the Master do this....

The Master!

He was getting away. And if he got away, if he went back through the Crack.... he could end up going anywhere. There was no telling what number of worlds he might still threaten. I had to stop him!

"Connie," I said hoarsely. I looked down at Connie as she stared at me, clinging onto hope. "I showed you my medical gear and how to use it. Please go get it and use it precisely as the instructions say. It may be Asami's only hope."

Having said that, I turned and started moving away. She called out, "Where are you going?!"

"I have to catch the Master before he escapes!", I answered over my shoulder. I pushed my body into as fast as a run as I could over the vines, on my way to that sewer entrance.

I knew where he was going. And I had to get to him now, before he fled and found another Crack to exploit. Otherwise this would happen all over again on some other poor world.

And I couldn't let him hurt anyone else.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-03 12:59pm

Returning to the sewer, I ran on. I ran and ran and ran. It was all I could do. Run and occasionally scan with the sonic.

And all the while the thought was in my head. That the job was too much for the medigel, that the damage was too extensive. Far more even then the damage that Steven's spittle had healed on Katara in that underground tunnel beneath the Kindergarten.

I didn't want to think about those things though. I didn't want to face the fact that what I was doing, really, was running away from Asami's death. Because if I didn't, I would have to watch it happen. I would have to watch Korra's heart break and see everything we had accomplished measured against the loss of someone dear.

Asami. Poor, brave Asami. She did so much for those she cared for. For those she loved. And for her world. All of those dreams she had...

I didn't want to think about that. It just hurt more. And it made the cold fury grow.

I quickly made me way with the aid of scans to a familiar tunnel, and from there to a familiar place in the Republic City underground.

Xuandi's secret base.

Quick recap, if only because it helps with not thinking about Asami. The Dai Li leader and official King of Omashu had established it as part of his plan to kill Korra, Kuvira, and President Raiko, frame the Republic for the deed, and then suborn Kuvira's army and use it to conquer a Republic weakened by sabotage. He had, after our capture, brought me and Liara in response to the presence of a Crack in the dimensions that he feared could harm his troops.

Or so I thought at the time.

The Dai Li base was mostly empty now. Only mostly though, and what was there was the kind of advanced technology I thought I would find. The Master was already working on one board. I noticed what looked to be a portable battery device and... ah yes, a transmat. For safe transit through the Crack. The Crack that he had obviously re-opened.

Well, okay, not re-opened. But restored to the base three dimensions. That's the accurate description.

"So, you stopped the device," the Master said. "How unexpected."

"You continue to underestimate me and my friends," I pointed out to him. My hand gripped the sonic disruptor tightly and readied it.

The Master appraised me quietly. "So, who was the sacrifice?" An evil little smirk came to his face. "Don't try to hide it. One of your little friends overloaded the power supply for the destabilizer. And they didn't survive the experience."

Cold fury kept my expression frozen. "Asami was my Companion once," I rasped. "She was brilliant. She had dreams for this world. Visions of a greater tomorrow."

"Humans think they have dreams. But they're always the same pettiness," the Master retorted. "And there are always more where they came from, aren't there?" He looked at me. "After all, you found that out already. With those two girls you picked up at the start of your journey, the ones absorbed into that cyborg hive mind. And then there was that other girl, what was her name?" The Master made a show of thinking before his face shifted into a wide grin and he nodded. "Ah yes. Katherine. Dear Katherine."

I bit into my lip. "It's something in my TARDIS, isn't it?", I asked. "Something that lets you know what I've done before. A spying program or device of some sort."

"Something like that, yes," the Master remarked. "It was necessary for the work, you see."

"Whose work."

At that the Master shook his head. "Oh, come now. You can't be this stupid. Whom do you think?! What species could hope to create a Time Lord from a lowly Human and send him and a TARDIS off into the depths of space-time?" The Master nodded. "Oh, you know. You're just afraid to accept it."

I swallowed. He was right. I didn't want it to be that. To be them.

Think about it. Out of all of the Doctor's foes, out of all of his known universe, which group, which civilization, could reasonably grab a Human being, turn him into a Time Lord, and cast him and a TARDIS off into the Multiverse at large? Which of these suspects could put such a strong mental block on my mind that the finest telepaths of the Multiverse believed it couldn't be broken without their assistance?

The answer was obvious. Painfully so. Painful in a way that made you not want to believe it.

"The Time Lords," I said. "It... it was them."

It was not a question, either. It was a statement of fact.

The Master laughed at me. "Of course, you silly ape. You are but a pawn of my people. A tool meant to bring them power."

My mind raced. I tried to think of every single Time Lord who had done something like this. Who could do something like this. "Then who? Was it the military, was it some group, was it..."

The Master interrupted me with a laugh. "Isn't the answer obvious? Who do you think, pawn? Who do you think would have such ambitions for our people? The vision to cause such devastation and use it to the benefit of the Time Lords?"

I thought of the answer.

And suddenly my mind was somewhere else. Somewhere bright. Blinding. Agony filled my body. I could scarcely lift my head and I felt like I was barely remaining conscious.

A face looked down on me. A familiar one.

"Finally. One of you finally survived the transformation. You will be of further use to me after all."

The voice was from my dreams. About the chair. And it was more recognizable than ever. And the face.... I could grasp it now. Grasp and hold the image. Compare it to my memories and knowledge.

A single name came to my lips.

"Rassilon."

I was back in the underground of Republic City. The Master nodded at me. "Yes."

"Rassilon... Rassilon did this to me?", I asked, my voice quivering.

The Master laughed. "Oh, yes."

My mind raced. After all of this time, I could see it. My dreams. The things I had learned. It was all coming together.

"Rassilon did this to me," I repeated. As realization and not a query. "Rassilon.... what... why? What am I? Some scheme to get out of the Time Lock?"

The Master laughed. "Oh, it's so much more than that! No, knowing our illustrious Lord President, he already has a plan to deal with that. This is about so much more. His vision for the future of the Time Lords."

....and that was the moment when the Master shot me.



The weapon appeared in his hand. It must have been under the control console he was standing beside. I didn't have time to react before an emerald beam cut into my chest, right in the middle. It was a shot meant to knock out both of my hearts in one blow. A killing shot. I flew backward and landed on my back, sprawled out.

Of course, I wasn't actually dead. The Master, even if he knew about it, had yet again underestimated something.

Molly Carpenter's increased wizardly skills, to be precise.

The defensive enchantment on my vest had held. It had dispelled the energy of the beam sufficiently to keep the damage from becoming more than a bit of a burn. Painful, yes. I'd have to get some medigel on it soon. But nowhere near debilitating, nor fatal.

I decided not to wait. Couldn't afford it, the Master would realize I wasn't dying in imminent fashion. I held up the sonic disruptor and fired a broad-wave setting 4 kinetic wave. It knocked the Master back. I used the chance to sit up and scramble to my feet. He was getting up as well and fired a wild shot that my deflector caught. I could take a few shots now with that up, so I charged him and let two more be absorbed by the now-overloading deflector shield. This got me into range of the Master and I went on the attack.

Or, to put it more exactly, I punched him.

In the face.

He stumbled backward from the blow. His hand holding the weapon moved a bit out and I brought the sonic disruptor crashing down on his lower arm like it were a club. He cried out and dropped the weapon, which I kicked away. The Master stumbled backward and I continued to advance upon him until I could grab him.

As I did, I felt something stir within me. The cold fury was starting to boil now. Looking at the Master with the rush of combat flowing in my head. He struggled a bit, so I punched him again, as hard as I could. My knuckles filled with pain from the fierce blow. The side of the Master's face turned red with blood.

He laughed through it.

Something about the laugh triggered my thoughts of the past couple of days. The past week, really. He had directly instigated Kuvira's war on the Republic. He'd given her technology that prolonged the violence and caused more suffering. He attacked me and my friends, harmed us, threatened us...

...and now, he had killed one of us too.

My mind had that image now. Of Asami's unmoving body. Her green eyes staring into nothingness. Nothing going on behind them. I found myself saying her name. As if that could ease the pain I felt.

it couldn't, of course.

So I punched the Master again.

I saw Asami's wound. The terrible, blackened mass of flesh and suit fibers under her destroyed armor piece. I saw the scan results and all of the terrible damage that showed that, if she had been conscious, she would have been suffering excruciating pain.

Punch.

I thought of Korra's sobbing face and desperate attempt to heal Asami.

Punch.

I thought of the horror on Bolin's face, the disbelief on Mako's.

Punch.

The Master laughed. It jolted me out of my fury enough to see his bloodied, bruised face. The blackened right eye. A lip now turned puffy. Blood trickling from his nose. "Oh, this is delightful," he chuckled. "He would never do this. Not to me. Had I known I would get this reaction, I would have started killing your allies immediately."

Bastard! was my only response, and entirely in my head. Although given how furious my expression had become, I'm certain it was fairly evident.

"You can't bring her back of course," the Master chuckled. "I suppose Asami was fairly intelligent. For a Human, anyway. But she was still beneath us. Her life was meaningless. Her dreams petty. You're supposed to be a Time Lord now, and a Time Lord is far greater than anything Humans could conceive of. They are pets, at best."

"Shut up!"

"Or you'll what? Punch me again? Like a stupid ape?" The Master laughed. "You have a Time Lord's brain. You know how much greater we are. Better that Asami Sato be the one to die than I, or even you. Less of a waste."

The Master was goading me. Fueling my fury. I don't know why, but I felt it flare within me and I reacted. I could feel my face contort as I filled with rage. I brought my bloodied, bruised hands to his throat.

And I squeezed.

It was satisfying, too. Watching the Master gasp for air as I choked the life from him. As I felt my hands press against his windpipe and close it. The wheezing and gasping for air.

I wanted him to die. I wanted to choke the life out of him.

And then, through his choking, he spoke again.

"Good." His face, turning purple even around the bruises of my beating, still curved into a grin. "Do it." Every word he spoke was rasped and scratchy. My grip on his throat made no other speech possible. "Do what the Doctor would never do. Accept that you are not him."

I didn't react immediately. My mind processed that statement. And that thought. The thought that I was not the Doctor.

It made me remember that I had once walked away from that name, and had not found another.

And from my past, a memory came. A voice.

Asami's voice.

"You're the Doctor."

And I remembered that time. When I had felt so lost and she had tried to make me feel comfortable. She had been the first to forgive me for not helping Korra against the Red Lotus. She had insisted that I was still the Doctor when I was too scared to take the name up again. And she had been the first to ask to join me in my travels at that time.

Asami had believed in who I was. Who I had become. She believed that I was the Doctor and, over time, had helped me to accept that again.

And as I thought about that, I felt my fury... not so much decrease, but slough off. I released the pressure on the Master's throat. He was in pain and looked at me, confused.

"I am not the Doctor you knew before," I told him. "But I have become like him. I took his name because it meant something that I wanted to live up to. And I won't let you take that from me."

I seized the Master by his collar and dragged him toward the wall. Specifically, toward the re-opened Crack in the Multiverse. "I'm not going to kill you, sir," I told him. "But I'm not going to have you trying this again. So I'm throwing you back."

The Master glared at me. His eyes widened as he realized what I was saying.

"Transmatting absorbs most of the energy from the Crack. You still have some, but not a lot," I explained. Just to do so, I'm sure he knew this already, what with him being a Time Lord and all. A sorry excuse for a Time Lord, yes, but still actually a Time Lord. "But if you got through physically? Your body will be full of the stuff. You'll set off every sensor even slightly tuned toward something like temporal energy."

"What... what are you doing?" The Master's throat was scratchy still.

I forced him to his feet to better my grip. "I'm throwing you back the hard way, Master," I answered. "Through the Crack. And with all of that energy on your person, there's not a place in the Universe you can hide from the Time Lords or the Daleks. They'll find you and drag you back into the Time War and right back behind that Time Lock. You can try to escape, of course, but to evade their detection you'll have to flee to the ends of the universe, long after most of the stars have long gone out. Of course, they might still come looking, so you'll need a way to reduce your signature. Good luck with that!"

The Master glared hatred at me. I returned it with a solid look. "Remember," I told him. "Remember that I could have killed you. I had you dead to rights. But I spared your life. Remember that. Because I may not be your old friend, but I hold to his code and his rules. That is why I use his name. And I'm not going to stop that over you. Now, do be careful with the landing. I'm betting you're going to have Time Lords rushing to find you the moment you get through, wouldn't want you having to limp while fleeing would we?"

And with that parting word, I threw the Master into the Crack. He let out a cry as he sailed through the air, just for it to cut off once he went through.

As I said, on the other end, the Time Lords would find him easily. He would have to flee to the dying universe of the far, far future, a few trillion years easy, and in that starless void he would have to hide by using a Chameleon Arch. Just as I had hidden from my own failures.

Which meant, of course, that one day a kindly old engineer and scientist named Professor Yana would meet the Doctor himself and... well, that's not my story to tell, is it? Best go find it elsewhere if you're interested.

Anyway, I still had work to do. First thing, make sure he didn't come back through. I checked the handful of boards in the chamber until I found what I was looking for. As I suspected, the Master had built something like my Crack-closing machines, but fine-tuned to the Crack in a way my method was not. The controls lit up and energy surged from emitters. Over the course of several seconds the Crack faded from view.

With that done, I walked over to the Master's discarded energy pistol and picked it up. With the machines here deadlock-sealed, it made the most efficient means of destroying the advanced technology thoroughly so that nobody could hurt themselves with it. I used the sonic to set the gun to blow itself up in about a minute and promptly left that place.

My work was done. Now I had to stop running.

I had to go back to the others. And I had to accept whatever had happened.




I was surprised by what I found when I returned to the others.



Everyone was gathered around where Asami was laying. Even Molly was standing again with eyes full of tears. Korra was on the ground beside her, hands hovering over shining water - right hand over her burnt chests, the other over her head to control the water lining her scalp. I recognized it for what it was; Korra was keeping Asami's brain from shutting down.

My mind flashed back to our first adventure. Korra desperately trying to save a brain-dead orphan, but the power not being enough.

History was repeating itself. The only surprising thing was that she had kept it going this long.

Kal-El reached down and put a hand on Korra's shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said. "But her heart isn't beating."

"No," Korra insisted, tears streaming down her face. "No, there has to be something! I can't lose her!"

"Korra, dear..." Senna went over and knelt beside her grieving daughter. Tonraq stood beside her. "I know she meant a lot to you, but you've done all you can."

Korra's answer was a choked sob. But for all she must have known that they were right - that there was nothing more she could do - she refused to stop. "Please Asami," she sobbed. "Please. Don't leave me. I... I need you."

And then to make matters worse, she looked at me. Those bright blue eyes, now bordered by the red from crying, tears flowing down her cheeks. and every part of her expression told me she was begging me to do something, anything, to save Asami's life.

I couldn't deny that pained expression. Not after everything we had been through together. I set my mind into motion. Options. I needed options.

If only my TARDIS command circuit didn't need to be reset!

I looked around at them all and considered the powers available. If some combination of them might be enough to work.

But it was the younger Katara - with her older prime timeline counterpart now present I had to differentiate - who suddenly looked up. Hope filled her expression. And she turned her head.

At first I thought she would face me. But she kept going. To another of those gathered here.

"Steven," Katara said. "Maybe you can do it."

Eyes turned to the bushy-haired young lad. He was crying almost as much as Korra at this point given his emotional sensitivity. "M-Me?", he asked. "But it doesn't always work. It didn't work when it was you."

"I know." Katara went over to him and knelt beside him. Since Steven was fairly short for his age, this put Katara closer to eye level to him. She took his hand. "But I think you can do it."

"I'm curious." Reed was leaning against Sue. Bloodied bandages were wrapped around his head, but he was awake and cognizant at least. "How could he help?"

"Steven has healing powers," Garnet answered.

"B-But they don't always work," Steven sniffled. "I haven't..."

"It's okay." Connie took his hand. I noticed she had been crying too, but it was clearing up as her expression became hopeful. "I know you can do it."

"So do I." Pearl nodded.

Amethyst added a "Yeah!"

And not to be outdone, Garnet nodded. "We have faith in you, Steven."

"Yes." Kal-El stepped up to him and knelt down beside Katara. He settled a hand on Steven's shoulder. "You're a brave young man. I know you can do this."

Getting encouragement from his guardians - and someone like Superman - just about did it. But I think it was the look of utmost faith that Connie gave him that ensured it. Steven stepped up, Connie beside him, and walked to Asami's side. His expression turned serious despite the tears and, well, the snot that covered his face from the crying I had missed.

It's... rather bizarre, I suppose, trying to imagine this dramatic moment revolving around an 11 year old boy using healing spit. But that is what it was. Steven licked his hands and, with the complete attention of those gathered, smacked the spitwads onto Asami's blackened sternum.

For a moment it looked like nothing was happening. Steven looked intently at it, as if he could will it to work, while we waited for a visible sign of some kind.

I checked the readings of my sonic. I blinked and looked again, just to make sure I could see what I was seeing.

But it was Janias who acted first. "It's starting to work," she said. "I can feel it." She got on her knees beside Korra and put a hand on Korra's right arm. "Korra, focus your power on it. Feel where it's healing her, and add to it."

Korra's hand moved over to that spot over the sternum from where she had been focusing further down. Steven's spittle shined brilliantly blue, brighter than ever before, and the light spread across Asami's chest and into her body.

We all watched, in rapt attention, to see if it would work. Korra looked particularly intent on the task even with the tears in her eyes. Asami's life was in her hands still, and Steven had given her the means to save her. For all that the constant fighting of the last day must have made her tired, she didn't show it, focusing her energy on her task.

There was a sudden gasp, an exhalation of air. Asami's eyes opened wide and her mouth opened with the gasp. I could hear her suck air into her lungs.

"It's working," Kal-El confirmed for us. "Her heart is beating again."

For a moment Korra kept at it. But Asami suddenly sat up, gasping again. She looked at us with wide eyes and tried to catch her breath. A pained grimace crossed her face. Evidently there was still some damage that would need further healing. But for the moment, that could wait..

Korra sobbed happily and threw her arms around Asami, pulling her into a hug. "I thought I lost you," she cried.

That prompted a surprised blink. Asami was clearly trying to gather the memories available to her. "I.... was I dead?"

"Only mostly dead," I answered cheerfully. "Bit of a difference."

"You did it, Steven!" Connie gave him a hug that made him smile.

"Way to go!" Amethyst came up and gave him a pat on the back almost strong enough to knock both children over.

Pearl opted for hugging him too. "I knew you could do it."

"I'm very proud of you." Garnet's reaction was a playful tussling of his hair.

"How extraordinary," Reed said. "Perhaps you could let me have a sample...?"

"Reed, darling, don't ruin the moment," Sue said, affection in her tone.

Asami looked down and put a hand to her sternum. The skin was back to a more normal color, if red from lingering burn damage, and showed in patches from where the fibers of her suit had been destroyed by the reactor exploding. While she was smiling, it turned bewildered. "This... isn't water," she noted.

"No. It's spit," I answered, smirking.

Asami, for a brief moment, simply froze, processing the fact that someone had put their spit on her. After that moment passed she looked at me. "Spit?"

"Steven has healing spit," Connie answered before I could.

"Oh." Asami gave him a grin. "Well, thank you. You saved my life."

"Thank you, Steven," Korra added. Tears were still flowing down her face; tears of joy instead of the tears of loss and grief from minutes before.

And that prompted another group hug, Steven accepting one with Korra and Asami. Quite cute.

I visually scanned the crowd. Tonraq and Senna were relieved by their daughter's happiness. Mako and Bolin were smiling, the latter holding on to Opal's hand dearly. Kim and Ron were holding hands while Rufus sobbed happily in Ron's cargo pants pocket. Sue Richards planted a small kiss on her injured husband's cheek.

Applause started with Ben Grimm. "Good job, kids," he declared. Johnny added a "Woohoo!" that Amethyst tried to top, which in turn prompted a "Booyah!" from Ron and Rufus. As those calls echoed more hands began clapping until I found myself joining them.

When the moment was over more than one set of eyes looked at me. "Did you catch him?", Pearl asked me. "Or did the Master get away?"

"Oh, you might say I caught him." I slipped my hands, with their bruised and bloodied knuckles, into my jacket pockets. "He's back in our home cosmos. And given that I threw him bodily through the Crack and permeated him with the resulting energy signature, he'll be too busy running from the other Time Lords and the Daleks to cause us any more problems."

"So it's over," Asami said. She smiled widely. "We did it. We won."

"Yes," I said. "Congratulations, Asami. You saved this world and everyone on it."

A blush came to her cheeks as the others began cheering her. Korra helped her stand up and didn't let go once Asami was on her feet. As everyone took turns cheering again, I found I had a little itch in the back of my mind. I was forgetting something, wasn't I? Something was missing...

There was brief startlement from everyone at the loud, mechanically distorted scream that came over our head, after which a large mechasuit plowed into the ground nearby. Face first. We all stared and watched the machine, painted red and black, struggle to stand up. "Zhu Li, take a memo! The jet boots in the suit have insufficient range for prolonged operation!"

"Yes sir," said a second voice from within the suit.

Varrick was quick to make another note. "Also, this suit was clearly not built for two people."

"Which I pointed out to you before," she replied.

"Well, what did you want me to do?", Varrick asked. "Stay behind? I couldn't let you go into battle alone!"

A giggle came from Asami. "I never actually intended the Mark I to fly," she explained to Varrick. "It was just a test model."

"Yeah, but we had to try something, right?" Varrick raised a mechanical finger. "We'll need to make the next model a two-seater. Or maybe build it so that each pilot controls one half of the... oh, wait, coordination."

There comes a point, when you're just dead tired and have gone through the kind of prolonged crisis we had just endured, where you just... want to let it out. All of the tension and fear and terror, it gets all bound up inside of you, and you want to do something to vent it from your system. And while seeing Asami survive had given everyone a happy moment to celebrate... well, sometimes you want something a bit more, you know?

Seeing Varrick and Zhu Li trying to jointly pilot the Mark I? That did it. That broke through and provided the outlet I needed. Or rather, I suspect, that we all needed.

I started laughing.

And I mean laughing. Deep, rich laughter, the kind that you can barely control, and which works so well for getting all of those other pent up feelings out after the dust has settled and the crisis is over.

Behind me everyone else began to laugh just as loudly. No matter how battered or bloodied or bruised they were, it couldn't be helped.

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.




The following days were a blur of recuperation from physical and mental exhaustion and making necessary repairs. The TARDIS command circuit had to be reset - always fun - while cleanup from the battles for Republic City took place. Several of the allies brought into the fight openly helped. Kal-El especially took great pleasure in assisting in the cleanup and rebuilding process while Reed provided an indisputable contribution to undoing all of the neural overrides attached to the Earth Empire soldiers by the Master.

It would be tough for them. Neural overrides are terrible things. But given time, they would recover. Jan and Kerra took the lead in starting that process, unsurprisingly.

And while they did, Ben and Johnny took great pride in spearheading the disarmament of the Earth army (by which I mean Ben pounded all of the mecha devices to scrap for Johnny to melt down for recycling into other purposes). Amethyst helped. Or I should say "helped" because putting her and Ben together proved a recipe for unnecessary destruction.

Asami, Stark, and Pearl restored power to the city by fixing the Arc Reactor that Kuvira's weapons had disabled in the initial invasion, with Steven and Connie as eager assistants. Varrick helped. Mostly. A bit. When Zhu Li could get him to stop fidgeting about their wedding plans, anyway.

Garnet took it upon herself to help clear out homes and prepare for the return of the city's population.

Once the TARDIS reset was complete I started taking people home.

The Possible family waved toward us when the TARDIS materialized outside of their house. "Thanks for your help," I said to them.

As expected, Kim's reply was "No big." Ron nodded and crossed his arms. "Yeah," he said, "it's just standard business for me and KP, saving the world and all."

"Of course," I agreed. "But are you sure you don't want to come back for the ceremonies? All of those medals to be handed out, you're due for them too."

"I've got enough already," Kim answered.

"Yeah, she's got so many she even needs an extra sock drawer."

Kim playfully elbowed him and said his name in that sort of rolled out playful-scolding way she did. She turned her attention to me afterward. "No, it's fine. I'm just glad we could help."

"Ah, well, it was good to have you along. Good luck with the senior year and all of that usual 'saving the world' thing."

I shook their hands and bid them farewell.




The next stop was Chicago. The lawn of the Carpenter house on a brisk November morning, with the sun just about to rise over the horizon. After we materialized I looked to Molly, who was staring at me. "Do you want to talk?", I asked. "Do you have something to say?"

I saw different emotions warring within her. Anger primarily, and she wanted to direct it at me, but it warred with other emotions and she couldn't quite do that. She seemed to settle on frustrated restraint. "Why didn't you save Harry?", she asked.

I closed my eyes and took in a breath.

"You could have stopped him from becoming the Winter Knight," Molly continued. "Or... or you could have saved him out on that pier! I know you were there! You had to know what was coming!"

I swallowed. A part of me wanted to just tell the truth. Let Molly know that Harry was alive, that he would be back.

But if I did that, her decisions would change. She wouldn't be in the position she needed to be in order to help him.

I felt my mouth go dry and it took me a moment to speak. "I tried," I admitted.

"What?"

"I tried to beat the Eebs to his apartment," I explained. "To prevent them from burning it. So he wouldn't have to become the Winter Knight." I settled a hand on the TARDIS controls. "The TARDIS jumped me ahead in time to stop me. She knew things had to progress as they did."

Molly's hands balled into fists. "So you're saying your ship decided to mess with Harry's life? That it decided to let Harry destroy himself?!"

Suddenly her mood shifted. I noticed it. She hadn't been intending to admit that part, but in her anger it had slipped out. I turned and faced her as she bit into her lip in self-incrimination. "I'm a Time Lord, Molly, remember?", I said. "I already knew."

I shook my head and sighed. "Harry did it. He arranged his own murder so that Mab could not make him into a monster. And he had you wipe the memory from his head so Mab wouldn't realize what he had done."

Molly turned pale. She didn't bother to try to deny anything.

"You did what he asked, Molly," I said. "You can't blame yourself. He would have destroyed himself another way if you hadn't. You couldn't have stopped Harry any more than I could have."

Her lip began to quiver. She stepped back toward the railing and closed her eyes as they welled with tears.

"Molly..." I swallowed. I could see the guilt written on her face. She'd been preparing to be angry at me and now I wish I'd let her. Instead she was turning it back upon herself. "Please. This was not something you could be blamed for. Harry did what Harry always did. He chose his fate. All we can do is accept it."

I said the words. But I knew they wouldn't be enough. She was young. In love. And now she had helped the man she loved destroy himself.

And I couldn't tell her he was alive. Not without wrecking the important events to come.

Damn you Harry. Damn you, was my thought. Added to with a And damn me too.

Molly started moving to the TARDIS door. "Why don't I take you back and let you talk to Jan?", I asked. "She would help you."

"I... I can't," she stuttered. "I...." There was a sniffle.

And then Molly ran out into the cold November air without any regard for the light clothing she was still garbed in.

I went to the TARDIS door as quickly as I could. "Molly!", I cried out. "Molly, you should go home!"

She didn't answer. And she didn't go into the house. She ran up to the fence and vaulted over it. Once she landed on the other end she shimmered out of view. A veil.

"Molly!," I cried. "Please come back!"

I wanted to say "Please come back! Harry's not dead!" But I stopped myself.

But she didn't come back. She was gone.

I sighed. And then I cried out in frustration and slammed the TARDIS door closed. I leaned against it and felt warm tears on my eyes.

Despite everything, despite all of my victories and accomplishments, despite defeating the Master himself, I was still powerless to help here. I couldn't save Molly from the fate that was coming. Not without causing even more problems down the road.

There was a knock on the door. I stepped away and opened it.

Michael Carpenter was standing at the doorway. "She left, didn't she?", he asked.

I sighed and nodded. "I tried to stop her."

Michael sighed. He didn't say anything else on that subject. "How are you doing?", he asked. "Would you like some breakfast?"

I almost turned him down. But I felt a bit hungry, and I don't believe in turning down gracious hospitality. Plus I was due to pick up Christmas gift lists anyway, and to give Maggie a checkup visit. So I nodded a yes and asked, "Thanksgiving yet?"

"Last week." Michael smiled faintly. But there was a bit of pain to it. "I even put aside a portion for Molly to take to Harry."

I nodded at that. "Yes. There are times I still see things and think about how much Katherine would enjoy seeing them..." I stepped out with him into the biting cold and toward his house, thoughts swirling in my mind.

"Michael," I asked as we reached the door, "you believe in second chances, right?"

He nodded at me as we entered. I could hear the sizzling of bacon and smell the egg yolk even before I found Charity's handiwork on the range. "Redemption is always available to those who seek it out."

"Yes," I said. "And that is a topic that has come to mind lately..."




Upon my return to Republic City, I went to the police headquarters. A mix of returned RCPD officers and White Lotus guards were manning the jail cells. Prisoners that had been transferred out were being moved in.

I found Lin and talked to her. She was quiet and did not indicate support, but neither did she indicate she would stop me. So I continued on into the cells. The uniformed men and women knew me and did nothing to impede my progress as I came up to one special cell. It had half a dozen guards and a door forged of pure platinum. I found Katara - my Companion Katara that is - standing amongst them. She looked at me and nodded. "It looks like the wounds have cleared up."

"Alright. Good."

One of the guards opened the door. I stepped in and looked at the figure in prison gray who was sitting alone beside the cell's cot. "Kuvira," I said.

The former ruler of the Earth Empire looked up at me. She looked utterly spent. And, of course, completely defeated. "Doctor," she said simply.

"You're feeling better?"

"I am physically healed."

I nodded. The kind of reply I was expecting. I went over to her cot and sat on it. It was not a comfortable confinement, that much was certain. The prison was formed of platinum sheets reinforced by wood, presumably a specialized cell just for Metalbending prisoners. It made me consider her likely fate. Would she wind up on Ghazan's old prison platform, to spend the rest of her life in a wooden cage breathing in sea air, loved by no one and hated and feared by the world she had struggled with?

It was not hard to take sympathy with the fact that someone so young was now going to spend the rest of a long life confined. And yet, I thought of her crimes as well. How many people would she have condemned to that same fate unless they swore to be her completely loyal followers?

"Bataar?", I asked.

"He's leaving me, obviously," Kuvira replied. I saw a tear form in her eye. "He was the only person to ever show me that much love. And I threw him away."

I said nothing.

"I can't even blame the Master," she continued. "I... I couldn't let anyone beat me. I couldn't let someone else have control of my life."

For a short time silence reigned. Which was fine, as I needed the time for my purpose. When I noted that a sufficient length had passed, I looked to her. "Well, you've got no future here. You've burnt every bridge. Even your followers are turning on you due to what the Master did."

"I wish they would just execute me." Kuvira looked up at me. "What's the point in keeping me alive when they're all afraid of me?"

"So you think death is the answer?" I shook my head. "No. Never. Death is never the best answer. Even when it seems to be, that's only because some poor fool already made the wrong choice."

Kuvira considered what I said for a moment. "Why did you come to see me?", she asked.

"Do you remember what I told you before? During that whole business with Xuandi?"

She looked at me. In truth, we had said many things. And I had given her repeated requests, and warnings, to change her ways. I had never realized she would have the Master whispering in her ear and goading her into doing what she did.

"Do you remember what I said about second chances?"

"That you didn't believe in them," Kuvira answered.

I nodded. "Right. Well. There's also something else you should know."

I was pushing her patience for indulging in word games. I could see that. But it wasn't like she had anywhere else to go, was it? "What?", she finally asked.

"Rule Number One," I answered. "'The Doctor Lies.' Because sometimes I do believe in second chances." I checked outside the cell's viewing slot and knocked on it to have the guards open it. "And I'm not the only one."

The cell door opened. I moved out of the way to admit some guests. Kuvira looked up at us and seemed confused.

"Kuvira?" I gestured toward her new guests. "I'd like you to meet Michael and Charity Carpenter. They're good friends of mine, and after I told them your story they wanted to talk to you."

"About what?", she asked.

It was Michael who answered her. "Redemption."

I slipped around Charity and out into the hall. The guards closed the door behind the Carpenters. Katara looked at me. "What are they going to do?"

"Talk," I said. "They're going to talk."

For a few moments we said nothing. Faint speech could be heard inside the cell.

"What are they talking about?", Katara finally asked.

"The future," I replied. "Best to leave them to it."

We turned to walk away. As we did, I knew I heard a sob come from within the cell.

It was almost wrong. Putting an orphan into a room with the kind of parents she would have prayed her whole life to have.

But it was also Kuvira's only hope.




The planet Celanon was one of many held by a scion off the powerful Sith family of Calimondra.

It was in one of the more remote, if not entirely unsettled, areas of that planet that I materialized the TARDIS. I opened the door and waited for my passengers to step out. "Here we are, Kerra," I said. "Same planet, just an hour after Korra and the others picked you up."

Kerra nodded and extended her hand. "Thank you." She looked to her fellow passenger. "Are you sure?"

"I am." Zaheer was wearing a dark suit more appropriate to this galaxy at this time now. "I have nothing left for me back on that world. But here, I can help you give freedom to people under the oppression of these Sith."

I nodded at that. "Good luck with that." I eyed Kerra and still wondered if this was the right thing to do. Zaheer was still an anarchist, after all, and I doubted he would be any more comfortable in the Galactic Republic than he was in the United Republic.

She sensed my concerns and nodded. "I know that you once did horrible things," she said to Zaheer. "But I believe you can make up for them here. It's better than letting your people send you back into a cage."

"Agreed." Zaheer seemed to focus for a moment. He lifted into the air and began to move about, testing his Airbending on this new, alien world.

"Be careful," I said to Kerra. I gave her a handshake. "And good luck."

"Thank you, Doctor," she answered. "I'm proud I was able to help you. If I might ask, though... what is your plan for Kuvira?"

"Nothing," I answered. "On the other hand, the Carpenters are approaching President Raiko and the other world leaders back in the Republic on the idea of sentencing Kuvira to exile as well. She'll return with them to Chicago and start a new life there."

"I think that's best," Kerra said.

"I'm sure there are some who disagree," I said. "Who think she should be more thoroughly punished for what she did."

"Sometimes justice isn't an eye for an eye," Kerra said. "Sometimes it simply comes down to reducing the amount of misery in the world."

"I suppose," I said. "Anyway, I will be going. Take care, and may the Force be with you."

"And may the Force be with you as well," she answered.




When I returned to Republic City, I didn't leave the TARDIS right away. I traveled deeper within instead. Past my armory, past side rooms and the Garden Room and everything else. All the way to the Eye of Harmony.

I had to focus just to recognize the door leading to the engine room. I took in a breath and stepped toward it. The force in my mind pushed back. It didn't want me to see the door. It wanted me to stay away.

"No," I breathed. "You're not hiding from me any longer. It's time to learn your secrets, Rassilon."

Step by painful step took me to the door. It didn't open. I held up the sonic to it and the adjacent control panel. It took me some work. Quite a bit of work.

And then it opened.

Inside was, well, what I expected. What my Time Lord brain knew should be there. The main engine of the TARDIS, tied to the Eye of Harmony, that shifted me through six-dimensions of space-time at my direction.

I looked about, trying to see if there was something out of the ordinary. If there was something...

...something that should not be here.

It didn't take me long to find the device. Attached to the main systems, taking power directly from the Eye. The power that the Master would have needed to form his own Eye of Harmony.

But it had more than just power siphoning off. It had data. Raw data, so much of it, directly coming from the TARDIS' systems.

"So that's how you knew so much," I muttered. I looked it over. "If the Master knows, so does Rassilon..." I took in a breath and looked over the device on all ends.

Here it was. A big piece in a puzzle I had always been trying to piece together. The puzzle of my origin.

What is this for? All of this data on the places I've gone. What possible use does it have for the Time Lords?

What was Rassilon's plan? What did it have to do with the Master's attempt to make his own Eye of Harmony with a dimensional disruption event?

"I need more answers," I breathed to myself. "But first things first..."

I found where the device hooked into the TARDIS engine controls and I cut it immediately. I would leave nothing to chance. I wouldn't let Rassilon seize control of my TARDIS away now, not at this critical juncture.

I would have to figure out the rest as time went on.

After satisfying myself with my examinations, I left the engine room and closed it behind me.

I could feel it. I was closer now. Closer than I had ever been before. Just a little more traveling and I would have all of the answers I needed.

But now, it was time for something of lighter fare.
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"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-04 08:43am

A fringe benefit of being a time traveler is that visiting other times and places means you get to go home with not a moment having passed, if you so desire.

So there was no harm in the others staying in Republic City to help with the cleanup efforts, which they did as I have previously noted. They were also all present for a festive end to the entire thing; Zhu Li and Varrick getting married. We were all invited as guests, and even more beyond that.

I even went to the extent of fetching more guests, including Kim and Ron (and thus Rufus). And, of course, Cami and the children.

Meeting Molly made me think of her namesake, now living on the streets of Chicago and full of self-guilt and anger that I couldn't heal her of. She was Mirialan from being carried by Jan, although the genetics had lightened her green skin in comparison to her birth mother and her sister Kari. At only age 2 she was little more than a toddler. Thankfully, she was a well-behaved toddler.

And soon to get a baby sister given Cami's condition. I teased her that she looked ready to pop, which earned me a playful punch to the arm.

It was quite amusing to see Chrissy and Kari introduced to Tenzin's children. Amusing, except maybe Meelo's obvious crush on Kari, which was actually rather cute. Ikki and Chrissy got along splendidly. And I couldn't help but notice that Jinora and Connie had become friendly in the last two weeks. The delights of being bookworms transcends entire dimensions, I suppose.

The wedding was well enough, although some of the seating arrangements were questionable. Seriously, Lin seated beside Tenzin? Suyin and Bataar in different rows? And poor Ben Grimm went through three chairs before Lin just got tired of it and used Metalbending to make him a single chair.

Anyway, the wedding! No crossbows to be found, thankfully. Bolin did the ceremony with his customary diligence and looked quite distinguished. Zhu Li dipped Varrick for the kiss, much to the approval of the crowd.

And then we were off to the reception. Jazzy dance music played and everyone was having quite the time. "The rebuilding seems to have gone quite well," I noted to Kal-El. He swapped out the blue-and-red for a proper dinner jacket and appearance.

"When much of the workforce can manipulate stone like that, it helps," Kal-El pointed out with a smile. "President Raiko hasn't decided whether to try to rebuild the downtown area yet."

"Well, there's a big portal between worlds right in the middle of it," I remarked. "Bit of an obstacle for urban planning."

Kal-El nodded in agreement and took a sip from the drink he had picked up. "I'm proud I was able to help save this world."

"And I'm honored to have had you here."

"You've seemed a little distracted lately," Kal-El observed. "Has something happened?"

"Yes," I replied. "The Master was... forthcoming about some things. And because of that, I have begun piecing together a puzzle I have long despaired at solving."

"That's good to hear. I wish you the best of luck in that. Let me know if there is anything I or the League can do to help."

"Of course."

I moved on to Reed, who had just finished dancing with Sue. "Head alright?", I asked.

"Quite," Reed replied. "This is a very fascinating world."

"Many are," I mused.

Reed looked at me pensively. "The Master's plan was quite dangerous. And he's still out there."

"He won't give us any more trouble, on account of being chased near to the end of the universe," I assured Reed. "You needn't worry about that."

I didn't add "You should worry about what Rassilon is planning". Because it likely wouldn't have done any good.

There was a loud crash that drew our attention. And we were treated to Amethyst hanging from the top of a half-destroyed tree. "Oh come on, you can throw harder than that, Benjy!", Amethyst called out. "I want to see how far you can throw me out to sea." She jumped back down into Ben's open hand.

Sue sighed at that. "Ben, don't you dare cause any damage to this lovely island."

"Oh, don't worry about it Suzie," Ben protested. "I'm not gonna hurt anything."

He turned and threw Amethyst so hard she was a blur of purple.

"I'm not going out to get her this time," Pearl protested with her arms crossed. "She can swim back."

I walked further on to where Garnet was looking out over the Bay. "Enjoying the festivities?"

"I always like weddings," Garnet replied. "It's the closest Human beings get to Fusion."

"I see." I smiled lightly. "An interesting point of view."

"I hope you're ready, Doctor," Garnet said. "Because I don't think your work is over yet."

"It never will be," I noted. "But yes. The Master has left me with answers to some questions, and a few more questions to make up for it."

The night continued on. I briefly discussed Wu's plan for the Earth Kingdom with Mako. I ventured out onto the dance floor to teach everyone the Drunk Giraffe with much laughing and enjoyment and a few unappreciative jeers. I was quite pleased to see that Ron had the good taste to try it himself. Granted, it made his belt come loose and caused his pants to fall down (much to the amusement of all observing), but we pay prices for art, don't we?

After leaving the dance floor I found Katara - my Companion Katara - sitting by herself at a table. She was in a full-flowing blue Water Tribe dinner gown. I followed her eyes to see she was watching Korra and Asami talking in the distance. "So," I said, "how are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling good," she admitted. "Better than I have in a long time." She turned and faced me. "And a lot of it has been because of you."

"Oh, come now," I said, shaking my head. "You deserve the credit yourself. You've had to overcome a lot."

"I would have kept wallowing in my own misery," Katara admitted. "I didn't want things to get better. It felt like that would be admitting I didn't love Aang as much as I did."

"I see."

"But I know that's not true." Her eyes teared up. "I have to accept that he's gone and move on with my life. It's what he would want."

I gave a nod in reply. "Agreed. But at least you've met new friends." I indicated where Steven and Connie were playing their string instruments - an ukulele and a violin - for the enjoyment of the other children.

Katara smiled at that and nodded. "I suppose. He reminds me a lot of Aang. And I would be lying if I said the two of them didn't remind me of what it was like when I met Aang."

"So you say." I sipped at a glass of something I'd picked up. It was a tad too sweet, but it went down well enough. "I bought you a house in Beach City," I confessed.

Katara looked at me with wide eyes. "What?"

"Nice little home. Across the street from the car wash," I continued. "Decent price for it. I went back in time a bit to set it up so that it's ready when we return the Gems to their proper time."

Katara stared at me a moment. "Why... how...?"

"It's something he does." Cami sat down near us. Despite her advanced pregnancy she had been moving around a bit, speaking with the others and letting the children touch her belly to feel for the baby. "He did the same for us. It's something of a retirement package for Companions who don't have anywhere else to go."

"Well, look at you," I said. "With all of that work, it makes me think you're ready to pop."

"Oh hush!"

"Pick out a name yet?', I inquired.

"We're still debating her name," Cami admitted. "It wouldn't feel right naming the baby for either Korra or Asami and leaving the other one out."

"Well, you could always do some kind of mixed name," I pointed out. "Kasami? Korsami? Korrasami, now that sounds..." My brow wrinkled. "...actually, that sounds horrid for a child's name. Never mind, bad idea, forget I mentioned it."

Cami nodded, giggling. "Definitely one of your worst."

"I admit it, I can cause some stinkers." I raised my glass to that and looked at Katara. "Yes?"

"You bought a house for me," she repeated. "In Beach City. By where the Gems live with Steven?"

"You do want to live there, don't you?", I asked. "Because that seems to be the place you were most content in our travels."

After a moment Katara nodded. "You're right. It is. But what about you?"

"What about me?"

"If I leave, you'll be alone," Katara pointed out.

"Oh, it'll be fine," I assured her. "I'll be fine. I'll check in, after all. See how everyone is doing. Make sure you're settled in."

Katara kept looking at me intently. "That's not all, is it? It's something the Master said to you."

Which was the truth. The truth that I did not want Katara (or anyone else here for that matter) anywhere near the situation when I ended up dealing with whatever Rassilon had planned. Because I knew that day would come. "Katara," I said softly, sipping at my glass. "You have been a faithful Companion. I'm proud to have brought you along and to have helped you come to terms with your grief. But we both know you've found a place there. A bond with Steven and Connie. They look up to you as someone who can guide them. Who can understand them in a way that their parents and guardians can't. It's better for you and for them that you let that bond grow. It's certainly better than running with me until there's something you can't run away from in time."

Katara mulled that over. "You want me safe," she said. "You're afraid of something that might happen."

"That's not the important part," I insisted. "The important thing is you. And you and I both know you'll be happier there. A group of people you like and a community for you to help protect."

It took me a few moments to see if my deflection worked. Katara finally nodded her acceptance. "Yes," she admitted. "I suppose you're right."

Jan walked up and joined us. I smiled at her. "Thank you for coming, Jan," I said, while Jan pulled her chair over to sidle up to Cami. "It was good to see you again, regardless of the circumstances."

"I loved working with you again, Doctor," she said. She looked to see where their eldest daughters were playing enthusiastically with the Airbender children. Plus Rufus, who always likes being the center of attention. "Now I just have to hope Meelo doesn't rub off on Kari."

I chuckled at that. "Well, she doesn't seem quite as susceptible to flatulence, if you ask me..."

"Oh, she'd better not," Jan vowed. "I had better not hear one...."

We all laughed at that and the conversation continued for a brief while. It ended when we all noticed Korra and Asami walking back to the reception. "They look like they have something to say," I remarked. "Come along. Let's see what it is."

The four of us walked up and met them just before they could get to where Tenzin was engaged in a heated discussion with Varrick. "Wingsuit gliding, that's a great idea!", Varrick announced. "It'll make a fortune."

"Varrick, I cannot in good conscience..."

"Actually, it can be made safe." Stark stepped up and joined them, a class of what I hoped was a non-alcoholic beverage in his hand. "You just need the right materials. Have you ever heard of...?"

I blocked out the rest of the conversation to put my focus on Korra and Asami. "So, you two look like you have a clue about what comes next."

Asami smiled at that. "After everything that has happened? We're both due for a vacation. Korra's going to show me around the Spirit World."

"Oh, that's quite the adventure," I noted. "Do be careful."

"We'll be fine," Korra promised. "We've survived worst places." She gave me a knowing look. "The Spirit World isn't any more dangerous than a city overrun by big bugs."

"Or those children-looking aliens with the sharp teeth," Asami added.

"Ah, touche," I said. "Point taken, everyone, point taken. Just... enjoy yourselves." I smiled and offered them a hug, which they took in sequence. "After everything that has happened, you two have earned it."

There were soft and oh so knowing smiles on the faces of Jan and Cami as they echoed with their own supportive views on the idea of the vacation. The subject of Cami's unborn baby and what her name would be was brought up. Asami was quick to suggest a compromise name. "Yasuko," she said. "That was my mother's name."

Jan and Cami looked at each other. Cami nodded with a tear showing in her eye. "Of course," she said. "That's an excellent idea."

The rest of the night went by at an enjoyable pace. More dancing, more music, keeping Varrick from breaking his neck when he tried that wingsuit hang-gliding plan, that sort of thing.

And we don't talk about how Ben Grimm nearly threw Amethyst into Aang's statue while proving the efficacy of the "Benjy Fastball". Hush hush.






As the night wound down I ended up standing where Korra and Asami had been talking before. I looked out the Bay toward the city's old downtown. Where once I had enjoyed the view of city lit up golden, now it had a somewhat haunting and ethereally beautiful look to it. The broken, vine-covered buildings, forever illuminated by the yellow light of Korra's spirit portal and the solid beam of light that pierced the sky.

"It is a remarkable view, isn't it?"

I turned to Tenzin and nodded. "It is."

"She has come so far," he said, with all the pride of a father in his voice. "I could never be prouder of Korra."

"Yes." I nodded. I thought on it, how Korra had gone from the headstrong and aggressive young woman who grabbed my TARDIS as it dematerialized to the wiser and calmer woman she was today. "And she still has so much time ahead of her. Room to grow even further."

"I can't wait to see what else she has in store for the world."

"It will be magnificent, won't it?"

"I think so." Tenzin smiled thinly. "And now she's going on vacation with Asami. It's been surprising to watch those two become so close after what happened with Mako."

"Love is love," I replied. "It makes them both happy. So, are they leaving tonight?"

"Tomorrow evening," Tenzin confirmed. "After they make all of the necessary arrangements."

"Ah, well, that's good to hear. They deserve the time away from fuss," I noted. "To think they've come so far together." And that it was almost lost, but the conversation was a chipper one and I didn't want to end that.

"You seem to have come down quite the road yourself," Tenzin noted. "You've changed over the last… well, you're a time traveler, so however long it's been for you. And I think it's been for the better."

"On the whole, it has been," I agreed. "I find that life brings change. We learn more, experience more, and the changes in our circumstances and those of the people around us can change us as well."

"It couldn't have been easy," Tenzin said. "Fighting one of your own like that."

"No. It was hard to face down a foe as smart of the Master." I drew in a breath. "And he may not even be the last Time Lord I have to confront."

Tenzin looked at me with interest and some concern. "Oh?"

"There are… indications, you might say, that there are other Time Lords that had their own agenda in this situation. I may yet have to face them.

"If so, I wish you the best, Doctor. If you ever need anything…."

"I'll keep that in mind." I took his hand. "An honor and a pleasure, Tenzin."

"The same, Doctor."

"Now…" I clapped my hands together. "It looks like everyone's ready to wrap things up, so I need to go start rounding people up."

I took some of the others home first, but with Jan and Cami, well, we couldn't help but make a detour through time. One day to the future, to be exact.

I materialized the TARDIS near the Spirit Portal at their request. Spirits floated about us, doing whatever it is that spirits do and without an apparent care in the world. The portal shined its bright yellow, nearly golden color into our faces.

Together we watched Korra and Asami appear on the lip of the crater. They were in the field clothes they typically wore with the addition of backpacks. Without any undue rush they walked toward the portal, basking in the light of the Portal more than the waning dusk sunlight. We were in the TARDIS and it was invisible so they didn't see us. There was no one present to influence how they acted. Just how they felt and what they wanted to do.

They stopped for a moment and gave each other meaningful, happy looks. They joined hands and continued walking until they were at the very edge of the sphere connecting the two worlds. They stopped and faced each other, holding hands closely. They reminded me, at that moment, of the prior day's wedding.

And maybe it was that, or maybe it was how close they had come to losing one another recently, or maybe just chance that caused Korra to decide to go further than just holding hands. I saw flickers of uncertainty across her face and a tentative movement.

Asami completed it by moving her head in as well.

They kissed.

It was a sweet kiss. Not overtly sensual, not the prelude to something more physical, just a full kiss that said "I love you and I love being with you" to the person you were sharing it with, and all the while they were saying the same thing back to you.

Jan and Cami cheered and gave applause. Which would have given us away if the TARDIS wasn't set up to prevent sound from escaping the threshold.

Shortly enough the kiss ended and they went through, off for their grand tour of the Spirit World.

"Well, there it is," I said, my arms folded as I stood at the entrance of the TARDIS.

"So you admit it?", Cami asked from behind me, her tone teasing.

"Admit what?"

The two started laughing riotously. "How wrong you were!", Jan roared. "'Oh, they're just like sisters to each other!'"

"Like sisters!", Cami wheezed. "Oh, Doctor, you can be so wonderfully oblivious!"

"Completely oblivious!", Jan cackled.

"Ohhhh-bliviiiious," Cami repeated, drawing out the word in a sing-song fashion.

I felt a burn in my cheeks while I laughed along. "Alright, oi, I was wrong about them, okay? I admit it! I was wrong!" Of all the things to be wrong about... well, I thought I could sleep on this one, you know?

The girls weren't about to let me off the hook that easily, though. "But you're the Doctor, and you're right about everything!", Cami teased.

"Except the ways of the heart, it seems," Jan added.

"Just keep it up, you two, just keep it up and maybe I'll forget to carry the two on purpose next time. And we'll end up on that Hot Springs planet you loved so much."

Their expressions turned playfully sour. "Oh, that's just playing dirty," Jan chided me.

"Completely unfair," Cami agreed. "I mean, look at me, I'm not in shape for a trip to the hot springs at all."

I cackled for a moment while setting in time-space coordinates to return us to the party the prior night.




Although it took some effort to get Meelo away from Kari, everything else went off properly and I got everyone home.

The last stop was Beach City. I materialized the TARDIS along the road at the base of the bluff that went up to the small town's lighthouse.

Looking at the entire thing… why is this place called Beach City? Does it include areas further inland? Because it's more of a village if you ask me.

Anyway, that's not important. What is important is that we all filed out of the TARDIS and faced the cozy little house across from Greg Universe's car wash.

"So you're going to live here now?!" Steven evinced his usual level of excitement at the prospect.

Katara shifted the bag of personal things she had accumulated in our travels to balance it over her shoulder. "That's right." She looked to me with a smile. "It's going to be strange. I'm still not sure how everything in this world works."

"Oh, ha, it's easy," Amethyst assured her. "You'll get the hang of it."

"It will be nice having you around." Pearl looked over the house. It was painted a lovely blue color with white trim - Water Tribe colors - complete with a garage. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, nice cozy kitchen, living room, and I had even ensured the installation of cable TV. And all paid for by a bank fund I had set up under Katara's name using my electronic money printing skills.

Oh, don't look at me like that. These worlds have fiat currency anyway.

"And it's such a lovely house," Pearl continued. And then her hand went to her chin. "Although... I think the rainwater diversion system on this structure could use a little work, it just seems so inefficient that way."

"The what?", Katara asked.

"The gutters," I answered. "They direct the flow of rainwater flowing down your roof."

"And look…" Pearl inspected the old flower bed beside the front door. "This should really be adjusted several centimeters to the left, don't you think? Because the lines it forms with the rest of the house look so... unseemly. Move it here and it lines up perfectly with..."

I sighed. I got the feeling Pearl was going to insist on re-arranging half of the house on principle.

Garnet walked up to her and put a hand on Pearl's shoulder. "I think we should let Katara decide on how her home should look."

"Well, yes, of course, but surely she won't mind a few suggestions?"

Amethyst leaned in toward Katara and whispered, in conspiratorial fashion, "If Pearl becomes too much for you, just let me handle it. I know how to deal with her."

"Well, I think it's great that Katara's going to live here now," Connie said. "There's still so much I'd like to know about her world."

"Oh, wait, does this mean you can come to Beachapalooza?!" Steven took her hand. "It's going to be great!"

"Beacha-what?"

"It's some talent show they do every year," Pearl explained. "Steven always loves to perform music there. And other things. There was that incident two years ago…"

"Well, I suppose I can see what it's about…" Katara looked to me. "How am I going to live here, though? Do you have work I can do to pay for food?"

I reached into my jacket and pulled out the relevant bank information. "I don't think banks were a big thing in your time, but you've seen them in our travels so I think you know how this stuff works, right? I got you an account, and some interest-bearing deposits… you should be set." As I said this, it occurred to me that Cami had been quite accurate to refer to it as a "Companion retirement package".

"Thank you." Katara accepted the package.

"I can help you if you need it," Connie said. "They do a lot of stuff online these days."

Katara blinked. "Online?"

"You never told her about the Internet?", Connie asked me.

"It's… usually not relevant in our travels," I pointed out.

"I'm going to have to teach you a bunch of stuff, then," Connie said to Katara.

Katara nodded and looked to Steven. "So now that I'm living here, maybe we can work on your healing powers."

"That would be great!", Steven agreed.

"And you can help out with his father too," I mumbled to Katara, low enough that only she could hear. "Poor fellow lives in that van, after all."

"I understand," she replied, nodding.

"So, how about a quick tour?", I offered. "I made the arrangements for furnishings and all, I hope they did it all right. And Amethyst, do be more careful here than you were on Air Temple Island, there are no Airbenders here to catch priceless antiques."

"They were just a bunch of cruddy old junk," Amethyst protested. "They look better with the cracks if you ask me."

I sighed at that and let myself chuckle. "I suspect, Katara, that you are in for quite the exciting time living in this sleepy little town."

"Yeah." Katara looked at me with a smile. "You'll still come and visit, right?"

"Of course," I promised. I reached back into my pocket and handed her another object; a temporal beacon. "The Gems already have one, but this one is just for you. If you need to talk, or need anything really… even a trip for old time's sake."

She accepted it and held it with the bank folder I'd given her. "Thank you for this," she said. "For everything."

"You're welcome," I answered.

And since that is how these things usually go, we hugged.




After the touring and a pizza dinner from the… well, the Pizzas' restaurant, not to mention the goodbye hugs, I returned to the TARDIS. For a moment I stood in the control room and looked about.

It had been quite a while since I'd been alone. I mean, that entire time with Liara traveling with me, and then Katara joining us. So much had happened.

"Well, it's just you and me girl," I said aloud. "And we've got work to do, don't we? I can't blame you for what's going on, I know. Don't be afraid of that. You're as much a victim of Rassilon's scheming as I am. And we've made something out of it, haven't we? And now…" I nodded. "....now I have to keep going…"

There was a knock on the TARDIS door. I walked up and opened it. Garnet stood at the entrance. "Ah, hello. Anything else?"

"She will fit in well here given time," Garnet said to me. "It was an excellent idea to give her a home in Beach City."

"Well, it seemed the one place she was genuinely interested in staying," I remarked.

"Yes." Garnet's eyes focused on me. And yes, I know she wears shades, but you get a feel for these sorts of things. "I need to show you something."

"What?"

She responded by offering her right hand. One of her gems, Sapphire's, glinted in the light of the TARDIS. I accepted it, knowing what would come next.

I saw images of Cracks. Images of Earths, multiple Earths, and other worlds being devoured in energy. I saw devastation and annihilation on a scale unfathomable to a rational being. So great and terrible that the mere thought of something like that happening could drive someone to the brink of madness if they weren't prepared for it.

Thankfully, I was. I pulled my hand away from Garnet's and swallowed. "I see."

"It is but one possible future," she informed me. "There are others for you. Better ones. You must pick which future you will take."

"And hopefully avoid the one that causes mass annihilation," I mused aloud. I let out a sigh. Again. Because sighing is something I do a lot of these days. "All right. Thank you, Garnet, for that warning."

She nodded and stepped away from the TARDIS. "I hope to see you come back," she called out. "I think you could use the company."

"You're probably right," I said in a low voice. I gave her a goodbye and closed the TARDIS door.

The future visions she had shown me told me something. They told me that the Master's plan hadn't been the real threat. The real threat was still there. It was whatever Rassilon was planning.

I frowned and clenched a fist. He had made me a part of this scheme. An important one, I surmised. But now I knew it. Now I could defy his compulsion and go into the engine room. He probably knew that too, and it would anger him.

Let him be. Whatever he was planning, I knew I had to stop it.

I had to stop the greatest leader the Time Lords had ever known. Me. A Human stripped of his mind and turned into a Time Lord by the very same man.

It seemed impossible. But impossible things, those are the kind of things I can do.

Not just me.

Him.

"I have to start there," I murmured. "He can help. I know he will."

I started manipulating the TARDIS controls. I needed to go off and resume my travels. Because somewhere out there, I would find the answers I needed.

I would find out how to go through whatever block had been put up and enter the cosmos of Gallifrey.

Because if I was actually going to face Rassilon himself, and the might of the Time Lords behind him, I needed backup. The best kind of backup.

I needed the Doctor.

"Come on, girl, there have to be answers out there somewhere," I mumbled. "And we have to find them."

I pulled the TARDIS activation lever and took the next step on my journey. A journey that now had an end point to it.

Gallifrey.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-05 10:30am

Short 50 - Tools of the Trade

I don't always get the most scenic spots.

It was certainly atmospheric, though. A town built in the arid dust of a flat desert. Square block buildings bleached white by the twin suns overhead reminded me of Tatooine, which isn't my favored tourist spot by any measure. I decided to check things out anyway, just to sate curiosity.

It wasn't like anyone was going to complain, was it? I was alone again.

Unsurprisingly, there was a tavern providing refreshments - most of them alcoholic - to residents and travelers alike. I decided to partake, just to say I did. I looked at the other patrons of the establishment and noticed that I was standing out just a bit with the suit jacket and tie, although not terribly. I got the feeling that, if anything, I was in the Old American West. Or would have if the twin suns hadn't been sort of a giveaway.

The barkeeper grumbled in irritation at my payment in gold, and it was only after a long and careful examination that he assured himself it was genuine gold. Which it was. Granted, it was genuine in that it had been created in a molecular replicator, but it was still gold. And it wasn't like a drink would inflate the local economy, you know.

So there I was, sipping away at an appreciable whiskey, when the tavern hushes. I hear the door open. The hush is replaced by only a quiet susurration of voices trying desperately not to be heard. Quiet and deliberate footsteps are made over the floor until a stool beside me is pulled away and occupied. I hear the jingle of coins and scratching of paper as the newcomer places money. The barkeep provides a drink from the same whiskey bottle I had been served from. Nothing happens for a time afterward, leaving me to my thoughts. Thoughts about Rassilon and Gallifrey and how I was going to deal with the situation.

The susurration was suddenly replaced by the patter of feet. People were leaving the establishment.

"Drama, much?", I sighed, and then I took another drink and placed the glass down. I had a feeling I wanted to be fairly sober in the next few minutes.

I turned my head to face the newcomer. His appearance was striking. Yellow glasses with a w-pattern in frame. Green eyes. Blond hair combed high, red duster coat. And what looked to be an artificial left arm.

"So much for a quiet drink," I sighed, as my mind put a name to the face.

But I wasn't the one who said it.

"Vash the Stampede!" The voice that called out was a rough one, with a rough accent to go with it. Very… rough, yes, all around. Like you'd expect. "Come on out of there or we're fillin' that place full of holes!"

Vash sighed. I could see flickers of sadness and resignation in his green eyes before he downed the rest of the glass he had and turned around. "You should stay inside. It won't be safe in the streets," he said.

"I gathered," was my reply. "Good luck."

He nodded at me and continued on to the door.

"Another," I said to the barkeep. He refilled the small glass and I resumed my careful consumption of the whiskey. Outside gunshots began to crack in the air. I took a few sips and then another, just for some extra courage. My drinking partner Winston had once talked about how just a bit of drink bolstered courage and the senses. Of course, that was for Humans; I'm a Time Lord, and we have different tolerances.

Still. It was just about right. I took a final sip and said, "Alright. Bugger it all, I'm going out."

"You're like to get killed out there, stranger," the barkeep said. "That there is Rowdy Ronald and his gang, meanest in these parts, and they're trying to take down the Humanoid Typhoon himself for that sixty billion double dollar reward!"

I smirked. "Where does that come from anyway?", I asked. "'Double dollars'? If you don't have normal dollars anymore, what's the point in the double? An excuse to add an extra sign to everything?" I stood from the bar and threw an entire baggie full of replicated gold nuggets on the bar. "Here. I figure you'll have damages to cover before this is all over."

The barkeep made a confused noise while I turned on my heel and went to the door. I drew the sonic screwdriver and sonic disruptor out of my pocket and harness respectively.

When I stepped out of the tavern I found destruction. A series of buildings across the street were covered in bulletholes. Wounded gunmen were huddled off in one corner, inspecting bullet wounds to their limbs, many to their hands.

Given the direction they were firing, it wasn't hard to guess where Vash had run off to. I looked to the nearest gunman and held up the sonic disruptor. He never saw me coming before I sent him flying with a kinetic burst.

"Hey?!" A man with a very large beard holding what looked to be an automatic rifle turned to glare at me. "Who are you and what in the hell do you think you're doing?"

In the moment I had to reply, I confirmed the half-wrecked building that Vash was holed up in. "I'm the Doctor," I answered, "and I'm keeping you blokes from leveling the entire bloody town."

"Don't you know who I am?! I'm Rowdy Ronald Robinson and this is my gang! We run this place!"

I smirked at him. "Just how long did it take you to come up with that?"

Well, that did it. Half the gang turned their firearms on me. I got the sonic disruptor up in time to deflect their shots. The diversion in their attention allowed the creation of an open path, which I followed until I could get into an alley and then into the building Vash was trapped in. He was hiding behind metal tanks, for water collection it appeared. He looked at me as I jumped in. "No, stay back! I don't want you to get hurt!"

"And I don't want to see a fellow like you get shot up by those brutes," I replied. I slid into cover beside him as gunshots continued to go up and knock out more of the wall. "Vash, yes?" I offered my left hand, which still held my sonic screwdriver. "I'm the Doctor." After he took my hand I asked, "So, any plans?"

"Well, I was sort of hoping to lead them out of town."

"Yes. I think I might be able to help with…"

Rowdy Ronald's voice started barking again. "Alright, we've been nice! Time for you to deal with Big Howard!"

"Oi, that doesn't sound good," I muttered.

"Well, maybe Big Howard's not a bad guy?", Vash offered optimistically. "We could always…"

I peeked over the top of the metal tank. "Big Howard" was presumably the nine feet tall fellow with what looked to be a cybernetic arm and attached RPG launcher.

Aimed straight at us.

"We'd better get out of here," I said. "Grenade launcher!" I scrambled away from the cover.

Big Howard fired. The RPG went through the wall and exploded on the other end of the tank. The force of the blast still hit us with enough force to send us through the air and in for a rough landing. I lost my grip on my sonics. I even saw the sonic disruptor go flying past me and further down the building.

When I landed I saw the glint of my sonic through the dust of pulverized stone and brick and grabbed it before scrambling for cover. Just in time, too, as a storm of bullets flew by where I had been. "Vash, you all right?!"

"I'm… fine," he coughed.

"I'm guessing Big Howard isn't big on conversation." I grabbed a piece of fallen glass from a window shattered by the blast and used it as a mirror to see where Howard was. Through the plumes of dust and smoke I saw his outline coming through. In addition to the rocket launcher on his arm, two smoking gatling barrels were now sticking out from his back. "Oh, lovely. What is it with people mutilating themselves to carry weapons? Well, my sonic should…"

By now I realized something was off. Something didn't feel right in my hand. Looking into my hand made me realize what it was.

I didn't have my sonic screwdriver.

I had picked up Vash's pistol instead.

"Wait, what's this?"

I turned my head and saw that Vash was holding up my sonic screwdriver.

Well, this was an interesting turn of events.

I moved to throw him his gun back, but another barrage of fire came from Big Howard and it forced us back into cover.

I frowned. At this rate we would be overrun. We needed to deal with Big Howard.

Which meant I had to use the gun.

I'm not a big fan of guns. Silly people use them and start to see every problem as something that can be solved with a bullet. I'm not a bullet guy, I'm an ideas man.

Except… so was Vash. He wasn't a bullet guy. He solved his problems without violence whenever he could, and could be trusted upon to only use force if absolutely necessary. And I can't argue with that. I had to look beyond my dislike of the weapons and see them as Vash did.

His gun wasn't a weapon so much as it was a tool.

And that's how I had to treat it. A tool.

And I can be pretty good with tools.

I began looking about. We were in a metal foundry. There were a lot of machine tools laying about, lathes and such, and what looked like a finished church bell. I felt my mind race as I looked over everything and then considered the positions, current and future, of Big Howard. "So if I… and then off… hrm, that might…" I turned to Vash. "Vash, the sonic screwdriver! Use it on his cybernetics as soon as I give you the signal."

"How does this thing work?", he asked. "I only see the one button!"

"It's… complicated. Just point and press and it'll work, trust me!" I checked the ammunition on Vash's pistol. Yes, I had enough shots left.

Big Howard roared and more fire came our way. I had the feeling he was about to use another grenade.

No pressure, eh?

I pointed the gun at a nearby lathe. And I pulled the trigger. Moved the barrel, pulled the trigger, moved and pulled.

The bullets ricocheted off the lathe and on to their projected courses, slamming into and bouncing off of various pieces of metal from various goods around the foundry.

And then, one by one, they started striking the weapons on Big Howard.

One found the mechanism for one of his shoulder gatling guns and damaged it so that the weapon would not fire. Another bullet severed the ammunition feed from the colossal belts on his back into said weapons. The third bullet hit the RPG launcher arm and, though it didn't destroy or cripple it, the shot did knock Big Howard's aim off. His RPG spiraled beyond us and blew up the pile of scrap iron along the far street wall.

"Your turn," I said to Vash.

Vash shot out from behind cover. He found surfaces to jump off of to avoid the rifle fire from outside. Once he was close enough he jumped into mid-air, flipped, and landed on Big Howard's back. He held the sonic up to the mechanisms present there and activated it. Whirrrrrrr.

Big Howard cried out in shock as his cybernetics failed on him, all at once. He flailed about for several seconds with Vash riding his back and whooping like he were a child on a toy horse. As he began to topple Vash jumped off his back and landed near me. He tossed me the sonic at the same moment I tossed him his firearm. He reloaded the weapon the moment he got it while I spun around on a foot and used the sonic screwdriver's link to my sonic disruptor to yank it over to me. I snatched the disruptor out of the air with my hand and turned back with Vash toward the entrance to the building. "Shall we?", I asked him. "If we don't put a stop to this, someone's going to be killed."

"Yeah." Vash held up his gun. "Let's get this over with as painlessly as we can make it."

And we walked out to face what was left of Rowdy Ronald's gang.

The issue was never in any doubt. Vash's non-lethal firing wounded limbs and shot weapons out of hands; the sonic disruptor let me disable many of the criminals and outlaws non-lethally. The rest fled, their courage lost when "Big Howard" went down.

It didn't take long for it to be over.




Townspeople gladly carried Rowdy Ronald and his remaining men off to jail cells while others looked to cleanup from the gun battle. Vash and I stood in the main street, where the fight had begun, and exchanged knowing looks. "Well, it was a pleasure," I said to him. "Always good to find someone like you."

"Wow, thanks Doc." Vash blushed. "You're not so bad yourself. And what are those things? I've never seen technology like that before."

"Oh, just little things I've made," I answered. "I'm not from around here."

"Oh really? Where are you from?"

"Quite a few places, but I'll settle for saying that I'm from a placed called Gallifrey."

"It must be really interesting there if they've got things like those devices."

"Oh, you've got no…"

There was a cry of horror that drew our attention down the road. A newly-arrived passenger bus was disembarking passengers, and two of them were looking towards us. One was dark-haired, cut short, and grey-eyed with a white coat, the other had long light brown hair, light blue eyes, and a light brown duster over what looked to be a business shirt and tie.

"Oh, hi insurance girls!", Vash called out.

"What… what happened?!" The shorter one looked like she wanted to faint. Given what Vash had called them, it wasn't hard to imagine why.

"A rather heated disagreement," I remarked.

The taller, bigger one walked up to us and looked me over. I still had a foot on her in terms of height, which really put me over her friend. "Oh, I've never seen you around sir. I'm Milly Thompson and this is my friend Meryl Strife, we're from the Bernadelli Insurance Society."

I responded to her friendly demeanor and smile with a smile of my own and an offered hand, which she happily accepted. "Hello Miss Thompson. I'm the Doctor."

"And what are you a doctor of?", she asked pleasantly. Her voice was on the high pitched side, certainly not what you'd expect for a young lady who looked rather fit and strong given her size and the width of her shoulders.

"Just about everything," I answered. "A pleasure to see you, Miss Thompson. I imagine the task of being insurance agents trying to deal with the collateral damage from all the tussles Vash here can get into."

"Oh, it's okay, Vash is a really sweet person and it's usually not his fault."

"That's nice of you to say," Vash said, blushing.

I smiled and nodded. "Very kind, yes. Well, I am most happy to have met you all, but I think it's about time I got going."

"Oh? Where are you going?", Milly asked. "Maybe you can travel with us too?"

I smiled gently at that. "Oh, that is a very nice offer. But I've got my own means of travel." I nodded to them all, gave a farewell, and took my leave.

That might have been it, but after I entered the TARDIS I turned back to the entrance and noticed Meryl was at the end of the alley. Her eyes were wide and she was staring in shock, barely managing to gibber in her attempts to speak. Milly and Vash rounded the corner and looked down to see me as well. "Whaaa?!" came out of Vash's mouth, a similarly-high-pitched shriek of surprise from Milly.

"Take care, everyone," I shouted back. "Tally ho!" I pulled back the TARDIS activation lever and began shifting out even before I snapped my fingers to close the TARDIS door.

I can imagine they just stood there in the opening to the alley for a bit before moving on.. Or falling over in place from shock. Either possibility, really.

Anyway, it was an interesting and exercising excursion, wasn't it? Although now I can't help but imagine that if the story gets told wrong, there will be posters of my likeness everywhere with big (double) dollar reward attached. Not as much as Vash's, obviously, but probably in the millions. At least. My ego may not take it otherwise.

Ah, Vash. Poor man follows a code not too dissimilar to my own, and he has paid a price for it as well. I knew that underneath that trademark red coat was a scarred and wounded body belonging to a man who would do anything not to kill. Nobody said doing the right thing was ever easy. And it can demand some rather weighty acts of sacrifice.

But for people like myself and Vash, those acts are entirely made up for the lives we save.

I hoped he could remain true to that despite his world's best efforts to the contrary. Just as I struggled to remain true to my code and my beliefs.

It was something I needed to keep in mind as my journey moved on toward its inevitable end.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-06 10:11am

Short 51 - Socks and Sweaters

I suppose that I must admit something at this juncture.

I was afraid.

I was afraid of what the future was going to be. Of what might yet come about from whatever Rassilon was planning. The Master had made it clear that it would be destructive. And knowing Rassilon's usual scale, it would be destructive to the limits of even a Time Lord's imagination. Could I, could even the Doctor, stop him?

But I was also afraid of the future in general. Even if I beat Rassilon, how might that affect my life. Would I regain my memories, just to be torn between my old self and my current self? Would I get to keep my TARDIS and keep traveling the wonders of Creation, or would I end up stranded somewhere as a result of my actions?

Because of this fear, there was a part of me that didn't want to focus on the search for final answers. A part that just wanted to go back to traveling and enjoying myself. And, if I must be honest, I was letting that part start to dictate my actions a bit. I was finding myself hesitant to continue searching. Instead it was just bouncing around, doing the usual adventuring and making people look at me like I was mad. That's always fun.

These thoughts were on my mind when I noticed something peculiar on the TARDIS systems. A dimensional instability. A growing one. Some sort of rift of the nasty variety.

The Cracks were bad enough. I didn't want something like this to get worse.

When I stepped out of the TARDIS I found myself in a forest with a structure visible through some of the trees, although I couldn't make out the sign on it. Something about the area felt a bit off. A bit. Like time-space was a little on the warped side here. I recognized the feeling from before, but I gave it no thought in consideration of what I was investigating. I held the sonic screwdriver out and followed it forward. It was then that I heard the sound of someone running across the cleared ground. I followed the noise in time to see a figure curled up against one of the trees, going through the contents of a backpack. "Urgh, wrong backpack." The speaker was a young girl, long brown hair, brown eyes, and an utterly broken look on a face that looked like smiling was a more natural countenance. Her knees curled up and she stretched her sweater to cover herself from ankle to forehead. "It's not fair. I just want summer to last forever."

I walked over and was standing nearby by the time she was in this state. "Well, hello there," I said. "Is something wrong?"

"Sweater Town is not accepting calls right now," she answered from within the confines of her stretched out sweater. It had a little birthday cake design on it and confetti elsewhere.

"Hrm," I answered. "Sweater Town? Now there's somewhere I've never been before. Sounds like an interesting place. What's it like? Good schools? Nice roads? A classical little city hall at Cardigan Way and Jersey Street? Hopefully a decent pub too." I lowered myself to sit down against the tree beside her. I waved the sonic around a moment before putting it back in my pocket for the moment. "And I fully expect for them to make some rather decent sweaters in the local sweater factory. Although I have to be honest that I'm partial to jackets myself."

For several seconds there was no reaction. And then she popped her head out of the sweater. She was still upset by the look of her face. "What do you want?"

"Oh, just looking about," I said. I turned slightly and extended my right hand across my chest, palm open. "I'm the Doctor, by the way."

"Doctor who?"

"Just the Doctor." I winked. "And I'm a bit of a doctor at everything, if you must ask."

The young lady considered my extended hand for a moment. It was after a few moments of my reply that she reached forward and accepted. "My name is Mabel," she said.

"Mabel? Lovely name." I nodded and finished the handshake. "So, it's a nice summer evening, from the look of things. Pacific Northwest I'd say. Normally this kind of weather and environment lends itself to something other than hiding out in Sweater Town." I folded my hands on one knee. "Would you like to talk about it?"

"Talk about what?", she asked.

"Whatever it is that has you so upset, Maybe I can help?"

"Only if you know how to stop time and make it summer forever," Mabel answered sadly.

"Oh?" I raised an eyebrow. Quite the odd request... or maybe not so odd, come to think of it. She was young, after all. "Well, I admit wanting an eternal summer isn't an issue for me, just have to change where and when I am. But for you, that seems a rather tall order. Why is it you want eternal summer?"

"Because I don't want this summer to end," she said. "I don't want to grow up and go to high school because they're all mean there. And my friends won't be here for the birthday party and my brother's going to stay and be a stupid apprentice to my Grunkle Ford." Mabel lowered her head as tears came to her face. "I don't want us to break up. I want Dipper to come back home with me."

"I see." I drew in a breath. The poor girl looked like she had lost her last friend. Convincing her that the world wasn't ending tonight was going to be a bit of a task. "That is some pretty big stuff, yes," I answered. "No wonder you don't want the summer to end. Unfortunately, time doesn't work that way."

"Why does it have to?", she asked, still rather upset. "We were happy here. We were having a great summer. But now it's all over."

"Well, yes," I agreed. I looked up at the red twilight sky. It was certainly more foreboding than I would have thought it would be. "That's part of life, Mabel. Things end. Good things, bad things. Eventually they end and something else begins. And that something else can be even better."

"It's not going to be, though," Mabel protested.

"Oh, you don't know that," I pointed out. "Certainly there may be some things you don't like as much, but there are other things that can be even better. The future's like that. Just this big ol' birthday present all wrapped up, and you never know what you'll find inside. Could be a nice new sweater, could be a package of socks you don't need."

"I don't know, is that bad to have the socks?", Mabel asked, her face becoming thoughtful for the moment. "You could always make sock puppets with them."

I made a show of thinking it over. "Huh. I suppose you could. Clever thinking there."

Her expression had brightened a bit, but still seemed quite sad. "I just wish Dipper was going to be there with me."

"Ah, well, you never know, he might be," I pointed out. "I mean, you two are siblings, yes? How far apart in age are you?"

"About five minutes," she answered.

I "ahhed" and nodded. "Twins, eh? Well, that sounds even better. You've been in each others lives since forever, right?" When she nodded, I continued, "Well, I suspect he needs you as much as you need him. He'll come around."

"You think so?"

"That I do. Don't be afraid to talk to him about it. Either way, best to move forward." I smiled gently at her. "Future's nothing to be scared about, really. Better to roll with it, see what it brings, and grow from the experience."

As I said those words, I found myself contemplating them. Maybe there was a difference in scale involved, but I realized I had to take the same viewpoint in mind. I couldn't run from what my future held; I had to face it. I had to deal with it. And Rassilon. The fate of many worlds could rest on stopping his plans.

For her part, Mabel seemed to be considering what I had been saying. "And what about our birthday party?", she finally asked. "None of my friends will get to be there."

"Ah, well… Good question." I scratched at my chin. A thought came to my mind. A bit of charity and fun. "Your friends are going to be out of town presumably? Off at band camp or the like?"

"Yeah."

I looked at Mabel and allowed the smile on my face to grow. "Ah, well, I can't say no to a face like that, can I? I'll help you with your birthday party. Your friends will get to go and no one who shouldn't know will be the wiser."

The response was a look of hope barely veiled by forced suspicion. "How?", she asked.

"I suppose I should mention that I am a time traveler," I said. "Well, not just that. My ship can travel through six dimensions of time and space. But the fun part is, I can go pick your friends up, take them to your party, and then bring them back a moment after I picked them up. It'll be like they were never gone."

I would have thought that she would be dismissive and I'd have to prove things. I was rather surprised when she didn't seem the least bit shocked at the prospect of time travel. Instead it was just pragmatic investigation with the question, "You're not lying, are you?"

"Not at all. Cross my hearts and all that." I made the gesture with both hands over my respective hearts.

Mabel seemed interested in that. "Wait, you actually have two hearts?"

"Well, part of being a Time Lord and all…"

"So you've got twice the hearty-ness I do!" She chuckled. "Hearty-ness!"

I had to chuckle at that. "Well, I suppose, yes. Surprising that you seem so ready to believe it though."

"If you spent a summer in Gravity Falls, you would believe anything," she assured me.

"Ah? That's the name of this area, eh? Now you've got me interested. But first things first." I pulled out my sonic screwdriver again. "Might I see that bag?"

"Oh? What is that?"

"It's my sonic screwdriver. It does a lot of things. Scanning is one of its more useful things."

"So it's a nerd tool or something, huh?" Mabel took the backpack and handed it to me. "It's just my brother's nerd books and mission stuff…"

I accepted the bag and reached in. I felt a sphere inside and pulled out… ahhh. No wonder I had those readings. I held up the object to her. "And what do we have here?" It looked like a snowglobe, if you could make an unstable rift in space-time an ornament. The square base was clearly a containment and stabilization unit. One that wasn't quite working anymore, given the size of the crack growing in the glass-like globe. "Well, this is what I came here looking for, I think."

"What is it?", Mabel asked. "I've never seen Dipper with that before."

"It's a tear in space-time," I said. "Look at that fluidity… quite unstable. Has anyone been opening trans-dimensional portals without proper stabilization protocols in place?"

"Well…" She looked a little sheepish. "My Grunkle Stan sort of did something lie that a few weeks ago."

A few weeks. Yikes. "A good thing he put this in containment, or you would already have severe problems," I told her. "There are all sorts of nasty entities who would love to get their hands on something like this. The Queen of the Elves, the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions, Hastur, the Master, various Gods of Chaos…."

Before I could continue a young boy's voice called out "Mabel!" We both looked toward the source of the voice. A young man about Mabel's age and size was coming up, wearing a dark blue vest with a red shirt underneath and a pair of gray shorts. He had a hat on with a pine tree insignia on it. Given the obvious resemblance, this was presumably the twin brother Dipper.

But what really drew my attention was the gentleman coming alongside him in the brown coat. What gave him away, more than anything, was the sixth finger on each hand, although even with the gray hair I knew him by sight. I started to stand. "Well well, Stanford Pines, old boy! I didn't expect to find you here."

Stanford stopped and stared for a moment before smiling. "Ha! Doctor, nice to see you again! It's been a couple of decades.. at least on my end it has." He stepped up and offered his hand. Not for the first time I noted with some amusement that his voice, if it were made a bit more reserved and controlled, would sound a lot like Tenzin. "How did you get your TARDIS out of that dimensional vortex? I thought you were a goner for sure!"

I accepted the handshake with my free hand. "Oh, a bit of quick thinking, some more power from the Time Vortex, that sort of thing," I replied. "I went back to look for you, but there was no trace."

"Secondary vortex caught me," Stanford answered. "Swept me off to another dimension."

"Ah." I nodded. "Well, at least you got home, I take it? This is your home dimension?"

"It is."

Dipper looked from me to Stanford. "Grunkle Ford, you know him?"

"Sure I do! He's called the Doctor. He's a humanoid alien with a dimensional ship. We ran into each other during my traveling through the other dimensions."

I held up the rift. "So this is your handiwork? I take it if you're Grunkle Ford, than Grunkle Stan is the twin you told me about? He actually got you home?"

There was a hint of irritation from Stanford at the mention of said twin. He'd barely talked about the other fellow when we met. "Yes. Stan disregarded my warnings and activated the portal."

"But that's how you got home," Mabel pointed out. "So everything's okay, right?"

"No, it's not," Stanford said. "Stan's recklessness created that interdimensional rift. It's a danger to the entire Earth."

"Oh, Grunkle Ford!" Dipper reached into the other backpack, presumably Mabel's, and pulled out an object. "Here's that alien glue."

"Alien glue?" I blinked and looked at it. After a moment I realized where I had seen it before. "Oh, no wonder. This is that valley with the crashed alien space craft, is it? I was here a thousand years ago sealing a Crack in the Multiverse."

"A story for another time, Doctor. The rift, if you please?"

I nodded and extended my hand.

As I did so, I heard something. At the periphery of my senses. It was so faint…

Had it been less faint, I might have acted in time.

A rock came sailing in just as my hand released the rift into Stanford's grip. It smashed into said rift and knocked it out of his hands. A rather stout form flickered into view as it ran between us and dived, grabbing the rift as he did so. A laugh filled the air as he landed face-first into the roots of a tree.

"Wait, isn't that the time travel guy?", Mabel asked.

"At last!", the man cried. "At long last! I've…"

I felt a familiar tinge at the moment and thrust my hand into my pocket for the TARDIS remote. Just as I did he looked toward us. The impact had pulled his goggles off his eyes.

His gold, cat-like, utterly mad eyes.

"Bill!", Stanford shouted.

I didn't need the confirmation. Bill Cipher. A demented extradimensional entity who sought constant escape from his decaying prison dimension.

"It's too late, Sixer! This world is mine!" Bill, in his borrowed body, threw the rift to the ground.

As it shattered, I summoned the TARDIS. It materialized around us as the rift began to expand uncontrollably, and presumably under Bill's direction.

I held out a hand and pulled the TARDIS activation lever, shifting us into the Time Vortex for safety's sake before Bill could do anything. "There, now we're safe," I informed them.

"Wait... where are we?" Dipper looked around.

"This is the Doctor's TARDIS," Stanford answered for me. "His dimension-traveling ship."

"Woh." I thought for a moment that Mabel would literally get stars in her eyes.

Dipper, however, quickly reverted back to the business at end. "Oh no, what do we do?!", Dipper shouted. He looked to Stanford. "Grunkle Ford, what do we do?! Bill broke open the rift! He's going to destroy the world!"

I looked to Stanford, who went from frowning to grinning as he saw the look on my face. He knew it, too, from our adventure so long ago. "I think the Doctor has a plan," he told his great nephew.

"Of course I do," I said, flipping switches and twisting knobs on the TARDIS. "But first things first. I need to get some things together. And the most important one is right…" I reached above the TARDIS controls and pulled the relevant item down. "...here!"

Dipper looked at me skeptically. "That's just a hat."

"It looks like Grunkle Stan's hat," Mabel observed.

"It's not just any hat, Dipper," I answered enthusiastically. "It's my lucky fez." I put the fez right on my head. "So, children, are you both ready to save the world?"

"I am!", Mabel shouted with just as much enthusiasm as I'd shown.

Dipper was clearly a bit more bewildered by everything going on, but seeing his sister like that made him rally. He pumped his fists and added, "Me too!"

"We're with you, Doctor!", Stanford pledged.

"Good, good! Because now we're going to make a plan…"

I admit that it was quite the thrill. As much as I knew Bill Cipher would be a pain in the arse to deal with now that he was corporeal, nothing gets my hearts going like a good adventure and saving the world and all that stuff. It's a big morale lift.

Suffice to say we did win, and it was crazy and bizarre and quite glorious by the end.

Oh, yes, sorry about that. I know you're probably curious for more details. But that's not the point of this tale. Rather it was about how talking things out with Mabel. By helping her, I also found that the talk helped me face my own fears for the future. I had to do just as I advised her to do; go forward and open that wrapped up gift of the future, whether it had nice sweaters or bad socks. It's how life works. We get up every day and see if it's the sweaters or the socks. Or both.

And then we turn the socks into sock puppets. If it helps.

But rest assured, I did not disappoint Mabel. She did indeed get her desired birthday party with her twin brother and all of their friends from Gravity Falls (quite a name for a place, isn't it?). I made sure of it. And it was probably the best birthday they'll ever have.

After all, how can you do better than a birthday party on Disneyplanet?
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-07 10:18am

Episode 38 - Painful Truths

Quiet.

The TARDIS was always so quiet when I didn't have Companions. Nothing was happening. There were no sounds of swimming in the pool, of taking a meal, or idle chatter. I didn't have anyone proposing a possible destination for us to go to or teasing me over this or that.

Nothing but me.

I had fallen asleep in my reclining chair in the library when the visitor came.

I say that because it didn't feel like the usual dream. Not like when the other Doctors would pop up in my head and judge me or give me cryptic advice. Instead of the misting ethereal blackness I was in a white room with indications of advanced technology about me.

Not just any technology, I realized. Gallifreyan technology.

And as I turned, I saw it.

The chair.

There was a figure in it. I couldn't quite make out the details save that he was on the heavyset side. I couldn't focus on any features though, nothing distinct. A uniform of some kind? Police, no, not military either. But it was one I felt I should know. One I should...

I felt a sharp pain in my head. It made me cry out.

"The block could never be perfect," a woman's voice said. I turned to face the same one who had come to me in my rest during the battle with the Master. "It had to be reinforced with compulsions."

"Who are you?", I asked. "Really?"

She seemed to consider that for a moment. "A coward," she replied. "A coward who wouldn't stop them out of fear. You... you are my one stab of defiance."

"You mean you're opposed to whatever Rassilon is planning?"

The woman shook her head. "I do not know who you speak of. As I said, I'm a whisper. It's the only thing that could be hidden in your mind without detection, or without driving you insane. I don't even know my creator's name."

I nodded. "Okay. Alright. So you don't know anything more. Can you give me anything? Any more information that might help?"

"The Cracks," she answered. "They must be stopped."

I tried not to be snippy about that. "I surmised as much," I said. "And they're all connecting to the home cosmos of Gallifrey."

"Yes. And they are also the key," she answered. "You must make use of them to prevail."

That made me stop a moment. "So... you're saying I can use the Cracks to find Gallifrey?"

"With difficulty, perhaps," she said. "And you will need help."

"Yes." I nodded. "The Doctor."

She gave me a nod of her own in reply.

I thought through things. "Were you the one responsible for copying the Doctor's things in my TARDIS?", I asked. "It doesn't seem like something Rassilon would have done."

"I do not know for sure. But perhaps." She looked away. "You should go now. You have much work to do."

But I wasn't ready. "I have more questions!", I insisted. "Do you know who I was? What I was? Do you know my original name?!"

"I do not..."

And she vanished.

I woke up.

For a time I processed what I had just experienced. "Cryptic, why do they always have to be so cryptic," I mumbled to myself. And then I got up.

The Cracks were the key, she had said. I could use them to get to the source of the problem. To Gallifrey. But...

And then it came to me.

I had tried every way I could think of to get to the Doctor's home cosmos. And I was coming to my last option.

Fly the TARDIS through a Crack myself.

This was, of course, remarkably dangerous. The Master had been seeking to transmat it through a Crack, true, but he knew what was on both sides. I had no such idea. And flying the TARDIS through could be even more dangerous with how the energies within the Crack might affect the TARDIS.

So I had to seek out a Crack.

And I was very surprised where I found it.




I materialized the TARDIS in the catacombs of Paris. I had been to the City of Lights before, but usually above ground. This was new ground for me. But it wasn't just any Paris, you must understand.

This was the Paris that served as the capital of the United Federation of Planets. And they even came with a surprise.

And so it came to be that I was standing in the restored catacombs with arms folded, waiting patiently for the Starfleet medical officers to finish treating the wounded beings walking through the Crack. I sighed at that; it was incredibly dangerous to do so, but without transmat technology they had no choice.

"Are you familiar with this species, Doctor?", asked Seven. Picard was standing a bit further back consulting with Crusher and a few other medical officers. Bacco had sent him to do the diplomatic work while Seven was here for the science part.

"Silurians," I answered. "In my home cosmos, they were the original sentient species on Earth. They evolved with what you Humans call dinosaurs."

"Curious. Voyager encountered a similar species in the Delta Quadrant."

"The Voth, yes?" I nodded. "I've heard of them. The various Silurian communities didn't launch themselves into space, though, but buried themselves deep underground to ride out the effects in stasis. Unfortunately, it didn't always turn out well for them."

One of the Silurians walked up and began conversing with Picard. Seven and I walked over to join them. "We are most thankful to your Federation, Captain," the Silurian said.

"It's our privilege to come to the aid of your people, Kranel," Picard replied. "President Bacco asked me to assure you that we will accommodate the Silurian people in any way we can, whether it be a community built here on Earth or, should you wish it, another planet to settle on that is closer to your preferred environment."

Kranel the Silurian nodded respectfully. "Again, my thanks." He turned toward me and sniffed. He looked on with curiosity. "You are not Human," he remarked. "Who might you be?"

"I'm the Doctor." I offered a hand. "I'm investigating the rifts, the Cracks, like this one. A pleasure to see your people can use it to escape the calamity facing you."

Kranel appraised me with curiosity and uncertainty in equal measure. "Well, yes, if not for this 'Crack', as you call it, my people would have been killed by the volcanic rupture." Kranel shifted his head a little. "My apologies for this, sir, but I'm not familiar with your species?"

"Me? Oh, I'm a Time Lord."

There was a perceptible change in Kranel's posture at that point. He was becoming more sullen, withdrawn, indeed he was afraid. And everyone noticed this. "Oh, I… see." Kranel focused on me a moment. "A Time Lord. Well, you seem nice enough, and our hosts do seem to respect you." He nodded to Picard. "If you would please excuse me, I must see to my people."

Picard was no fool. He noticed Kranel's reaction to my answer. He gave an understanding nod. "Of course. I will be delighted to resume our conversation at a more convenient time."

Kranel gave me another wary look before moving away. Or, well, I could say it was scurrying away. There was definitely some scurrying.

Picard and Seven gave me looks. I responded with an appropriate sigh. "The Time Lords have not always been a nice people," I remarked. "The Time War drove them to… extremes."

It made me think for a moment. Did this, did I, have something to do with the Time War? The Master had left that unsaid, after all, speaking only of Rassilon's plans to use the destruction of his plans to the benefit of the Time Lords. That could mean a lot of things.

"So I see," Picard remarked. "Doctor, when you say you came due to this rift, this 'Crack' as you call it, what do you mean? Is this scientific curiosity or something more?"

"I'm not entirely sure yet myself," I murmured. "But there is definitely something more. And I need to find out. I came because I was going to investigate the possibility of going through the Crack myself."

That got their attention. "That would be inadvisable," Seven told me. "The Silurian settlement is being subjected to a volcanic disturbance that will bury the entire area within the next four hours."

"I know. But I wouldn't be staying. I was planning on flying the TARDIS through, actually."

Picard gave me a careful look. "That sounds remarkably reckless. Your craft could have all sorts of unknown effects upon the dimensional rupture. You could endanger this entire city, maybe even the entire planet. You cannot risk the lives of billions on such an act." The disapproval of the concept was palpable in his voice.

I couldn't argue with that so I answered him with a nod. In fact, I knew more than Picard how things might go wrong if I had a problem with the Eye of Harmony stasis field or the Time Vortex regulator at the worst moment. So I took a different approach. "Seven, could you set up a transporter to transport through the Crack?", I asked.

Seven considered that. "It is remotely possible, but given the interference created by the Crack's energy signature re-constitution would be extremely unlikely." When she saw the look on my face her posture lightened slightly. "I can see this is important to you, Doctor, but it would be suicide. That wouldn't accomplish anything."

"I know." I let out a harsh breath in frustration and looked to the Crack. Another group of Silurians emerged, this one including children. I watched them move along. "Well, let me get some scans, I suppose."

"Of course. I will provide you with our scan results as well."

"Thank you, Seven." I returned to the TARDIS to get to work, leaving Picard and Seven to their labors.




Seven had been right. A transporter beam would never have managed reconstitution on the other end of the Crack.

I know this because I quietly attempted just that. The transmitter I sent through was lost within an incoherent beam.

Transmats worked differently. The beam that the matter was shunted through was stronger. More robust, and thus capable of avoiding data corruption or other effects from the energies of the Crack.

This left me with the scan results. I sipped at a cup of… coffee, I think it was. I hadn't been paying attention when brewing it, honestly.

After looking over the energy patterns, the swirls of blues and violets and greens on my screen, I found myself at a realization. I first needed to check my findings, though, to make sure of what I was seeing. I reached to the controls and brought up prior scans of other Cracks I had come across.

And there it was. The pattern I thought I had noticed.

As time had passed along my timestream, the Cracks I ran into were getting more energetic. Not in a way that was immediately noticeable, but it was clear that their energy states were growing. As if they were the outlet for a geyser that was building up pressure to the point it was going to blow.

Looking back, this pattern was new. The "earliest Cracks" had such a low variance to it that it looked minuscule. It was only in the most recent Cracks that the changes were showing.

I found myself changing the analogy. Not a geyser. A volcano.

The future vision Garnet had shown me came back to my mind. I imagined energy erupting from Cracks, re-opening them to the base three dimensions in the process, and then wiping out entire worlds. If not more.

Like I really needed the pressure. I let out a cry of frustration as I thought about it. I was trying everything, literally everything but nothing was working! I couldn't get the TARDIS into the Doctor's home cosmos! And all the while this… volcano was building up. A bomb of sorts, undoubtedly related to Rassilon's plans. One I needed to stop. But try as I might, I couldn't get back to that cosmos.

There was a chirp on my communication console. I pressed the receive key. "Doctor." Seven's face appeared on the screen. "A call on subspace has come for you. It's from Bajor."

"Huh." That was a surprise to me. I nodded. "Alright, put it though." I was treated to the sight of Nerys, still in those Ramjan-ranked robes. "Hello Nerys," I said, giving a genuine smile at seeing her. "Doing well?"

"I am," she said. "Doctor, I need you to come to Bajor."

"Oh?" That piqued my curiosity. What could be wrong? "Is something the matter?"

"Maybe," she said. "I know that this may sound off to you, but.."

"My dear Nerys, nothing sounds 'off' to me, I've heard it all before," I chimed in before returning to my drink.

She didn't mind the interruption. She knew I couldn't help but run my mouth sometimes. "Still, just in case." Her expression turned serious. "I think the Prophets want to see you."

I stopped mid-drink and swallowed. "...really?"

"Yes. I even consulted with the Kai and the Vedeks. Everyone is saying the same thing."

I took in a breath. That was… well, that was interesting. It had been so long since I had seen the beings that lived in the Bajoran Wormhole, venerated on Bajor as "the Prophets". They did not experience linear time as most species do. That had all sorts of interesting implications, if you ask me.

And they wanted to see me?

Presumably this had more to do with the "answers seeking questions" thing they were harping on about back when I met them the last time.

I ended up nodding. "Alright. Tell me where to go…" I moved the monitor around the TARDIS control station toward the section for flying her. I began to input broad coordinates for Bajor. "...and I'll be right there."






Nerys had been waiting for me to arrive at the end of her call. I stepped out of the TARDIS and found her in a patient stance, smiling quietly. "Well, I suppose I can be predictable sometimes," I remarked.

"Yes." She nodded and turned away. Behind her, on one desk, was the container for an Orb; one of the artifacts that the timeless entities of the Wormhole had sent to Bajor to learn more about the locals and to give them some guidance. She picked it up. "Captain Ro should have the runabout ready."

"Really?" It wasn't hard to figure out what the plan was. "You want me to go into the wormhole."

"It's the best way for the Prophets to communicate with you directly," she answered.

"I suppose so." I gestured to the TARDIS and smile. "It has been a while since you got a TARDIS ride, hasn't it?"

She laughed and nodded.




For obvious reasons I left the TARDIS behind on DS9. Nerys had taken the controls of the runabout, named the St. Lawrence given the usual motif for names based on Earth's great rivers. I was sitting in the chair beside her to watch.

As we waited for clearance to launch Nerys took to the usual pre-flight checks while I sat in silence. She ended the silence by asking, "So you're traveling alone again?"

"For the moment," I said. "Liara went home. Katara has a place now."

She nodded at that. "I'm happy for them." After a few more moments of checking the displays she looked to me again. "And what about you?"

I thought on it. It caused me to sigh. "The TARDIS is too quiet," I admitted. "But I can't risk anyone else right now. Things are… happening, Nerys. I've finally gotten an idea on what's going on and on who did this to me."

"You make it sound like it's a bad thing," she said.

"It's dangerous," I clarified. I took in a breath. "All signs point toward…"

Another voice cut in. "Ops to St. Lawrence. You are cleared to launch."

Nerys turned her attention to the controls. "I hear you Ops. I'm launching now."

The runabout lifted up to the surface of the station. There was a slight shudder when Nerys activated the thrusters and pushed the runabout away from its landing pad. She flew the runabout on thruster power for several seconds, orientating us properly, before kicking in the impulse drive. The St. Lawrence briefly shifted under me as inertial dampening systems kicked in.

"Hold on," she warned me. "It's been a while since I flew one of these."

"Oh, don't worry," I answered. "It's like riding a bike, I imagine."

Nerys smiled at me before returning her attention to the board. Her fingers ran over the flight controls and turned the runabout toward what looked to be empty space. "I can think of other analogies," she answered upon doing so. "Not as pleasant to remember, though."

I nodded. Indeed not.

But it wasn't. Once we got a set distance from the station the Bajoran Wormhole blossomed open before us. I allowed myself a little sigh of contentment at the beauty of it. My Time Lord senses allowed me to feel the time-space currents flowing about it. There was something exhilarating about the construct.

Once we were inside the wormhole I took in a moment to watch all of the swirling colors. My Time Lord senses were… off. Not badly off - that would make me feel queasy or worried - just off-balance slightly. It was a peculiar feeling to have.

Nerys moved us out of the main travel lane for the wormhole and brought the St. Lawrence to a stop. "Here we go," she said. She hit a few keys - setting autopilot procedures in the event something threatened to collide with us, I imagine - and stood up. "This way."

I followed her back to the living area of the runabout. She had placed the Orb ark on the table there with a seat in front of it. "I'll be here if you need me," she said.

"Right." I looked back to the Orb ark and took in a breath. "Well. Here we go, let's see what's going on…" I was already reaching my hands to the doors of the ark at this point. I swung them open and beheld the distinctly un-orb-like hourglass shape of the Orb. Light erupted from it and…

Yes, it was back to the amber-toned environments. I was standing in the control room of the TARDIS. "The Doctor comes to us with a new face." I turned and faced a Prophet in the form of Jan, during the time she had been my Companion.

I blinked at that. "New face?"

Her response was immediate. "We have seen you over many faces, Doctor. The face of wrath and of compassion. The face of pain and of triumph. Many faces."

"The Doctor has questions," a Prophet-Cami remarked.

"Well, yes." I gave them a nod. "And I was rather hoping we didn't have to be cryptic about it."

My environment shifted. I was in the underground where I had faced the Master not too long ago. The opened Crack was blazing white in my eyes. "The walls shudder." I turned and followed the voice to one of the Prophets in the form of Asami.

"The walls are falling." A Prophet-Korra spoke next from the other side.

"The Doctor stands on the walls. He must save them." Prophet-Bolin this time.

"You're talking about the Cracks in the Multiverse," I said. "The walls are the natural barriers between the various sixth-dimensional locations?"

"We see devastation," said Prophet-Korra. "Linear existences failing."

"Annihilation," Prophet-Asami said.

I turned about to follow them. "Rassilon's plan, that's what this is? He's going to cause this devastation, yes? How can I find him and stop him?"

We flashed again. Now I was on the Citadel's underside. The battle with the Reapers was frozen in the void around me, as was the Crucible and the beam linking it to the Citadel. "We do not know this." I turned and faced Prophet-Shepard. "The walls bar our vision."

"The task of learning falls on you, Doctor. The Guardian of the Walls," said Prophet-Liara.

"But I don't know how!", I shouted. "I've tried almost everything! I can't get through the Cracks back to Gallifrey and its cosmos!"

"You must remember yourself."

The voice made me feel an involuntary shudder. I turned and faced the visage of Katherine, in her favored sleeveless blue dinner dress. I swallowed. "You had to pick that form."

Prophet-Katherine stepped closer. "To succeed, you must learn who you are."

"I can't. The block…"

"It can be done." She smiled at me gently. "This form. She believed in you. She would tell you that you could manage this."

"She wasn't here to see me at my worse," I replied.

The Prophet-Katherine gave me a curious look. As she did, things went by us. Backgrounds of events. Things I did that... I am not proud of. "She did not see the face of wrath, true."

I nodded and looked away. We returned to what looked to be Katherine's old reception room, back when she had become my Companion. "She always saw me as this giddy maniac who ran around and righted wrongs. I was her lovable crazy adventurer uncle."

"A role you prefer." This was a child's voice. I turned to face Prophet-Hope Carpenter.

Prophet-Katherine nodded. "She knew what was in you. She knew that at the core of your being, Doctor, you want to protect and save. And that is what you must be to stop the devastation. You must protect and save us all."

"I just have to know how," I mumbled.

"For linear beings, we have found that all problems have a beginning," Prophet-Katherine said. "It is best to face that."

"The beginning?" I looked at her. "As in go back to that Sith station..."

"You will know," Prophet-Katherine assured me. "From the moment you became the Doctor, you have been ready for this. Go now, Guardian. Go and be the Doctor."

With a flash of light, I was back in the living area of the St. Lawrence. I blinked a couple of times before I closed the Orb cask. I looked to Nerys, who seemed to be waiting patiently for me. "Well," I began. "...I think they told me some things. Things I need to know."

"The Prophets always tell us what we need to know," Nerys answered pleasantly. "But they do love to be infuriating about it, don't they?"

At that, I laughed. "Oi, better not let the Temple here you say that, Nerys. They might not like the clergy being questioning."

"It'll be our little secret," she laughed back. "Back to DS9?"

"Yes," I answered. "Back to DS9."




After we returned I found myself deciding to take it easy for a while on DS9. A check up on Quark, that old swindler, and a meal at the Replimat. I spent the time processing what the Prophets had told me.

The more I thought about everything, the more worried I was becoming. Between the Daleks' claims, Garnet's future vision, and what the Prophets were saying, it was clear that whatever Rassilon was up to - whatever he was using me for - it was Bad News with a Capital B. To several orders of magnitude.

There had to be a way to go through. Then I could find the Doctor, enlist his aid, and together we could find a way to get to Gallifrey and stop Rassilon. I took a bite of some soup and focused on that thought. Could I still get the TARDIS through a Crack physically? Would I just end up blowing up myself, the Crack, and part of the Multiverse in the attempt? The data suggested either way....

"Excuse me?"

The voice made me look up. A young Bajoran boy was staring at me. He was wearing a standard Bajoran outfit, nice and colorful with deep violets and blues. His red hair made me think of Nerys. "Are you the Doctor?", he asked me.

Before I could answer, voices called out "Jorim!" I looked up to see a young Bajoran couple in civilian dress rush up. The mother, a blond woman, was rather along in a pregnancy, and had the tissues to prove it (given their species tendency to sneeze a lot during pregnancy), while the brown-haired father was tall and on the lean side. He took Jorim's hand. "You know not to wander off," he scolded the boy. He looked to me. "Sorry sir, he's just..."

Both parents now looked me directly in the face. "By the Prophets," the woman gasped.

"You're the Doctor," the father said, as if he were about to burst with swelling excitement. "I... I can't believe it!"

I smiled diplomatically. "Well, I do tend to come and go. Flit about the timeline and all that."

"I saw you at Rakatha when I was a boy," he said. "You made Gul Ukrell and all of his men stop chasing us. You made them flee while screaming 'run away!'."

I chuckled at that memory. "I do have a penchant for theatrics."

"They say you're a herald of the Prophets." The mother spoke in awed tones. "That only the Emissary is closer to them than you."

Before I could deny that, she moved a step closer. "Please, Doctor, won't you give my baby the Prophets' blessing?"

Well, now isn't that uncomfortable? But it was clear that the father was just as eager, while the son stared in amazement. Looking at their faces I knew they wouldn't easily be dissuaded or convinced of my relative lack of correspondence with those cryptic, linear-less living fellows. Best to just go along with it. So I let my spoon fall into the bowl - and promptly sink into the soup, urgh - and brought my right hand up to press on her swollen belly while trying to keep the awkwardness out of my voice. "May the Prophets bless this child with a happy and long life," I said cheerily.

"Thank you very much, Doctor," the father answered. The family of three, minus one imminent addition, moved along. The crowd that had been drawn to our conversation didn't, however.

I drew in a sigh. So much for peace and quiet.

As I tried to fish my soup spoon out of the soup, a shadow fell over me. "Well well, aren't you the popular one?"

That voice.

I knew that voice.

The surprising thing, really, was that it had taken so long for me to hear it directly.

I lifted my head and looked at the dark-haired being looming over me. I had expected him to be in uniform, but instead he was in a long brown trench coat with a suit under.... oh, of course he would dress like that, wouldn't he?

I couldn't stop the sigh from slipping out. "I was wondering when you would show up." I forced a smile. "Nice to officially meet you, Q."

Q - and yes, the John de Lancie-looking one... I suppose, they can change shape and all so who knows? - slipped into the seat across from me. He was wearing Ten's preferred outfit; the long brown trench coat and blue suit and tie and such, I mean. "The pleasure is mutual, of course," he said. He looked about at the growing crowd. "I think we need to talk somewhere private."

With a snap of his fingers, we were no longer in the Replimat. We were in a set of quarters on DS9. The same set of quarters where I had parked the TARDIS.

"So, what is the occasion?", I asked.

"Oh, nothing much," Q said, and clearly sarcastic in his tone. He folded his hands on the table and leaned forward. "We just need you to stop playing around and go save the Multiverse."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-11 09:42pm

Well, that was an interesting thing to hear.

I pushed the soup away and folded my hands on the table just like Q had done "Well, that's not an ominous declaration now, is it? Although I'm curious as to why the great Q need me to do the deed."

Q wasn't smiling now. He shifted in the chair. "Do you know how bothersome it is just to keep this, our base... what do you call it, 'cosmos'? Such poor imagination there, by the way. But to continue, do you know how bothersome it is to us just working to keep our base cosmos safe from the disruptions in the fabric of existence? We are in no way interested in expending even more effort on the impossible task of safeguarding all of reality from this mischief."

My folded hands turned into steepled fingers. "Quite the aggravation, then?"

"Yes. And since you are a Time Lord, and this is a Time Lord-caused problem, we think it falls upon your kind to clean up your own mess."

"I see." I considered Q's expression. His words. "Is the great Q Continuum incapable of dealing with this, then?"

For a moment Q seemed genuinely irritated, but the flicker of that emotion faded quickly. "Of course not," Q guffawed. "But it's not our place."

"Ah." I nodded and hid a smirk. The Q, for all intents and purposes, were omnipotent and (mostly) omniscient. But there are... scales to such things, and they might not be as high as they intended. Plus I couldn't help but imagine that Q had another agenda. "Well, suffice to say that I am indeed trying to solve this issue. I'm simply running into problems."

"Because you're not thinking them through entirely," Q pointed out. He leaned in. "You're not considering the questions you need to be asking."

"Ah?" I made a hand gesture for him to continue.

Q did, of course. He did so love to hear himself talk. "The real question isn't who did this to you, or even why. The important question right now is... why did they lock away your Human memories?"

A good question. One that I didn't have a satisfactory answer for. "A very good question indeed. And I suppose you know?"

Q gave me a pointed look. The kind of look that meant "duh".

I smirked at that. "But you're not going to tell me. Just as you're not going to tell me what your real concern is."

That got me a little smirk in reply. "You've got a Time Lord brain ticking away in your head. You figure it out." He held up a wind-up clock that was ticking its way toward midnight from about 11:55. "Tick tock, Doctor. Tick tock."

He snapped his fingers again. I was back in the Replimat. My soup was steaming - it had been reheated - and my spoon was again at the side of the bowl and clean.

But that wasn't all. It had changed. It had gone from a chicken broth soup to a lighter red sort of soup, with something in it. Chunks of soft... crackers? I took a spoonful and bit into it. Yes, definitely butter-flavored crackers mixed in with... tomato soup?

I had a sudden rush of memory. I... knew how to make this, didn't I? The right mix of milk, butter, and pepper into the soup. The cooking time. How many crackers were needed for a specific quantity of soup.

Odd.

I continued eating. And I found the soup... vastly more enjoyable than I expected I would. Like it was something I had always eaten and enjoyed.

I felt a sudden sense of excitement inside of me. Was this... something from my past? Had Q left me a little hint of some sort?

I would consider the issue as I enjoyed the bowl of soup.




Nerys was waiting for me when I returned to the TARDIS. "Ready to go home?", I asked.

She shook her head. "I'm actually going to be staying on the station for a little bit. I have some things I want to catch up on."

"Ah." I nodded. "Well. Alright." I walked up to the TARDIS door and opened it. Instead of going in right away, I turned back to her and gave Nerys a hug. "Take care, Nerys."

"And the same to you, Doctor." She smiled at me. But it was tinged with a bit of worry, I could see. "I hope the Prophets' words gave you the help you needed."

I was still contemplating them, to be the truth. The Prophets could be rather cryptic. Communication issues or perhaps contractual obligations, who knows. But for Nerys I nodded. "I think they have," I said. "Still have some thinking to do."

"Right." She gave me another hug. "Let me know how it all turns out?"

"Oh, of course," I promised. "I will."

"Thank you." She gave me a final nod and smile before leaving the quarters.

I watched her leave and took in a breath. My mind was still processing everything. What the Prophets had said. What Q had said. That I had found that particular kind of soup so refreshing. Things were starting to move, that was clear.

At the TARDIS controls I set in some coordinates. I wanted to go think for a while. Maybe go see some of the others I called friend. Perhaps Holmes might help me sort through these facts and give me a fresh perspective. I reached for the TARDIS control lever and pulled.

After I did so, the coordinates I put in suddenly changed. I blinked at that as the TARDIS shifted. "That's not right," I muttered. I reached for the coordinate control and tried to change it.

It wouldn't change.

I didn't recognize the new coordinates. It's not something I would ever put in randomly. "Why did you change?", I asked aloud. But there was no answer.

Not, at least, until a piece of paper came down from above me, amongst the little containers I used for various things I kept near the TARDIS controls. I snatched it out of mid-air and read it.
I figured you deserved a nudge in the right direction. - Q
I drew in a sigh and went to the TARDIS door. When I stepped out it was into warm weather. Not too hot, but definitely on the warm side. I scanned my surroundings; a suburban area. Early 21st Century, American, and given the license plate on the vehicle in the drive, the state of Georgia. I looked at the small house and wondered why this was so important. I pulled out the sonic to scan.

Curious. A powerful energy source, not standard for this era. With the sonic in hand I unlocked a latch leading into the back yard. There was a very large tool or utility shed in the back. Virtually a garage. I noticed the power source was coming from inside it.

Given this is where Q wanted me to go, I figured this bore investigation. So I went to the door of the garage. The door was locked and the sonic handled that. I opened it...

...and promptly took a full stun bolt charge in the chest. It is not fun being tasered, people, and it definitely leaves a lot to be desired. Especially when you're hit with a stun charge powerful enough to knock out a Human being.

I am not Human, though. And so I made sure to fall on my stomach so I could hide that I was getting my sonic disruptor in my hand and out of my harness. I felt hands take my shoulder and twist me to face upward. I swung the disruptor up and pointed it at my attacker.

She was on the small side. Human. Asian features and twenty-something. Blue eyes. And her hair was...

...purple?

Yes, very purple. It reminded me of Lucca.

Thought rippled through me. I... knew her. And I knew she had some connection to Lucca. But what? What was...

I almost got tased again for my distraction. But this time she used an actual taser, and Molly's enchantments on my vest kept the voltage from doing more than being a bit painful. I brought the sonic screwdriver up and let it whir in reply. The taser exploded in sparks in the young lady's hands, forcing her to drop it with a shriek of surprise. If a "Dammit!" could be such. "Please, no more of that," I said. "I just want to..."

I heard a very loud war cry coming from nearby. It gave me plenty of warning to sidestep my would-be attacker, who swung a shovel at mid-air and missed me. He was so unbalanced by the miss that he toppled over and fell into the young woman's legs, knocking them out from under her. She let out a furious "Yancy!" as she fell into the nice grass underneath us.

The young acne-suffering lad gave her a sheepish look. "Sorry, Miss Chan."

"Urgh!"

I kept my sonic disruptor low and stepped back. "Listen, I don't want to fight," I insisted. "I'm just investigating that power source you've got in there. It's..."

Thoughts shifted in me. I did know these two, didn't I?

"Panzer Pyro," I muttered.

A frustrated growl came from Miss Chan as she tried to untangle herself from her would-be rescuer.

"You are Amy Chan," I said.

"And you're trespassing," she mumbled back.

I took a step back. Why? Why did Q want me to be here? Why did he send me to this world? Why did he send me to meet Mayabird?

I hadn't realized I said that name until Miss Chan looked at me like I was a madman. Which, of course, I am, but for different reasons. "Maya-who?"

"Mayabird," I breathed. Mayabird. Amy. Amy Chan. Names and images swirled in my head. I could see someone much like Miss Chan. With a different age. Maybe a bit shorter. A pizzeria of some sort? A large hotel. Christmas decorations and heavy traffic. Something about a band and a bowl game...

Pain erupted in my head with such ferocity that I screamed and fell backward. I scrambled backward in the grass. At the periphery of my hearing I heard Yancy say, "Woh, is he okay?"

"It's fine!", I shouted, even though I felt like my head wanted to split open. I tried to look at them again. My eyes focused on Amy. Amy Chan. Amy... no, not Chan. Another name. She's into ornithology, she likes Lucca, she....

The pain in my head increased. I cried out again. My vision blurred and Amy and Yancy became simply figures, no details. They were staying in place, presumably not quite knowing what to do about the stranger who had trespassed, said strange things to them, and was now writing on the floor in incredible pain.

I knew this world. More names came to mind. The Blackthornes for instance. Sorcerer family in the Appalachians, of British and Celtic stock. Named Nitram and Tevar.... wait, no, their names are....

AGGGH!

In the throes of that agony I managed to get my hand into my pocket and grip the TARDIS remote. I could hear the VWORP VWORP VWORP as the TARDIS materialized around me and, acting on the protocols from my distressed mental impulses, shifted away.

I was now on the floor of the control room. Through the pain I tried to collect my thoughts. Those people... they were connected to others. People in my life. People I had known.

People I had considered friends.

I reached for those memories. Those names. Those faces. But incredible pain fought back. It would not let me grip them. It would not let me focus.

Q's words came to me again. Why was this being blocked? Why did those who took me - Rassilon, presumably - want me blocked off from the memories of my past life? What was so dangerous about that knowledge?

I needed to know.

Which meant I needed those memories back.

So I fought the pain. I fought the block. I grabbed at those memories. "No," I rasped. "No, I won't let you stop me. I want to know. I need to know."

I kept fighting. I had to.

And I did.

Until I lost consciousness, anyway.




I was in another of those little dreams I sometimes get.

I had been in this room before. The dinky little office. The suited fellow with glasses who looked like he was going to intimidate Sigmund Freud. Only this time, instead of paper work there were a collection of little holographic guys in power armor.

Someone was speaking to them. "I think we have made excellent progress for today gentlemen, but for now I have another patient I need to take care of." The purple one turned to face me and quickly vanished in a puff of light faster than the rest. Soon they were all gone. The man behind the desk tilted his head slightly and smirked. “Welcome back. Why don't you take a seat?"

I blinked as I fumbled for the seat. My head was still throbbing a bit. "So... this place again?"

He shrugged his shoulders slightly. "It seemed as good of a place as any. By the way, how are Amy and Yancy? It has been so long since I heard any news out of Mistyverse."

I rubbed at my head. "Healthy enough to taser me, I..." I stopped. "You know, if you're just a part of my mind, you should know this." I looked at him intently, studying those studious eyes under those glasses. "Who are you?"

"Oh, that is probably the best question yet." The smirk grew into a knowing smile. "Time Lord, I'd like to think I'm helping you out. Not the only one trying, but sometimes Q's touch lacks subtlety. You can't just tell people what to feel and do, that makes them feel angry. Or in your case, tasered."

Ah. Another person helping me out. I was just swimming in good will, wasn't I? I scowled. "I seem to be awash in assistance from people who don't seem to be giving me real assistance."

That triggered a deep laugh that was a bit too harsh to pass as St. Nick. "I stand corrected. that is your best point yet." Another pause as he composed himself. "Real help. Real help. Real help. Think back. When did all of this start?"

I was not in the mood for cryptic questioning. "When what started? These attempts to 'help' me? The entire plot?"

"You, you big dummy!" He made circle motions over his head. "You as, well, you. When you took the name." Frustration had seeped into his voice. Much like my own. I suppose this was different from the usual behavior I faced when dreaming of the Doctors, or of that sad woman who was starting to show up.

I thought of what he said. Where I had started? "Me as me"? So he meant after I was changed. I thought back to that Sith station. Waking up in that abattoir of dead slaves. Trying and failing to flee Sith Imperial forces and being gunned down. My regeneration into my current form.

But I stopped as I thought about that. That... wasn't the beginning, wasn't it? Not the real beginning for me. Not when I actually realized what I wanted to be. What standard I was going to set for myself.

The Prophet with Katherine's face had said, "From the moment you became the Doctor..." The moment I became the Doctor. Or more accurately, the moment I decided to be the Doctor.

Was that it? Was that what they were getting at?

"Click Click Click. Watch those gears turn. Time for you to wake up again."




I sat up suddenly. A mistake as my head still hurt and it made me want to throw up for a moment. I had a monstrous bloody headache from my earlier efforts.

As the pain cleared I went back to my thoughts. About what the Prophet-Katherine had said, about what that annoying bugger in the office had said.

And then there was Q. Who had decided to give me a nudge by introducing me to Amy Chan, resulting not only in that tasering, but in the realization that I recognized her. That I associated her with a piece of my old life.

I could feel it, in fact. I could still feel it, fading as it was back into that box in my head. I had known someone who was like Amy Chan. Someone I associated with her. Someone I had met and liked as a friend. And there were other associations there...

My mind went even further back. My encounter with the Aurora, and with Commander Kane. I remembered that I had felt a similar sensation there, an association.

I thought on that through the throbbing pain in my head. Associations had slipped through the box in my head. They had allowed me to retrieve, if only for a time (and at a mental cost) some of the data in there. Was that the key?

It was at least part of it. Because as I thought about it, I realized that association alone may not be enough. It was just the start. A clue on how...

And then it came to me. Faint memories, memories without detail, memories intended to ensure remembrance.

And I knew why they had said those things. Why they had talked about the beginning for me.

I had to go back to the beginning.

I had to go back to the place where I had decided to become the Doctor. And there, I could find the answers I needed.




I stepped out of the TARDIS and onto the wide meadow. The forest ringed it as if it were a protective fence for this gentle place.

Seeing it, thinking of the lake beyond… yes. This was the place.

This was the true beginning of my journey.

A voice boomed in my head. HELLO DOCTOR.

"Hello Mogo," I said softly. "Been awhile, hasn't it?"

YES. I SENSE YOU ARE IN TURMOIL. YOU MAY REST.

I shook my head. "I appreciate the offer. But I'm on the clock." I took in a breath. "Very shortly , Mogo, you will have visitors. Those visitors will be me and my first Companions, coming for a break after their hectic first adventure. He will come to this meadow. When he comes…. I need you to show him, to show me, the people in his memory. Family. Friends. All of that." I swallowed. "It's very important. And he must not know."

I SEE. I WILL DO THIS.

I nodded. And I waited. I would soon see if my plan worked.

I had been repeatedly told the box in my mind could not be forced open. Not without breaking me. It was a simple fact; brute force wouldn't work. I needed to find another alternative.

But the sensations of memory I had upon contemplating Commander Kane on the Aurora had made me realize an alternative. The box, and whatever compulsions had been placed upon me in its defense, could potentially be undermined by strong associations. Seeing something, or someone, who had a direct connection to those lost memories slipped past the compulsion and the box and accessed those lost memories directly. I had felt such a thing with Commander Kane. And while it pains me to admit it, Q had proven a great help in the matter. By setting me up to meet Amy Chan, linked so closely to someone I had once known, he ensured I would get confirmation on this weakness of the block in my head.

Painful confirmation, true, but still confirmation.

Which was why I was here. Here, when Mogo had showed me those I once knew. I didn't remember them myself at this point - the box had done its work - but I remembered the event, and I knew what that meant. I could see what Mogo showed that earlier version of me. And I could let the associative element do its painful work of bringing memories out of the box.

Plus, it gave me further... options, shall we say. But I'll get to that in a moment.

It was a short while later that I heard the VWORP VWORP VWORP in the distance. It was tricky, arranging for my TARDIS to come so near itself, but I'd had years of studying with the TARDIS to perfect that kind of control. Necessary, given the other me knew virtually nothing about flying it.

I thought I would be ready to see myself. But I wasn't. It was just so… strange to see how I had been back then. Wearing that blue suit jacket and light blue shirt underneath, not even a vest over the shirt, and the matching blue trousers. Here, away from Jan and Cami, he looked so vulnerable and confused.

And he still had no idea how this would play out. He didn't know whom he would end up meeting, befriending, and losing. He only knew what he had already lost, not realizing just how far that loss would go. That he would forget they ever existed. Just as I had.

He sat down in the clearing and looked around. I waited quietly until…

Figures appeared. People. They were looking at him. He looked back in silence until he asked Mogo why. How he was showing not just the dead but the living. And upon that answer, he asked why Mogo was showing him those he believed lost to him.

SO THAT YOU REMEMBER THEM.

Mogo wasn't just talking to my counterpart anymore. He was talking to me.

And I saw the faces. All of them. I felt my mind begin to link them to names. Pain surged from my mind as something resisted the use of those names.

Through the pain, I could feel memories growing clearer. Online internet chat rooms, birthday parties, car trips. So many memories. Human memories.

My head throbbed anew as I tried to take them in. The box was fighting back. It was trying to contain these resurfaced memories. But I couldn't let it. I grabbed onto every memory in my head and held on defiantly.

I wasn't sure it would be enough. I needed more. And I knew how to get it.

Soon my younger self fell asleep under the warmth of the sun Mogo had chosen for his orbit. I walked out of my hidden TARDIS and into the clearing. My counterpart was fast asleep and, better than that, completely untrained and inexperienced in the ways of his mental abilities. I didn't have to worry about waking him unless I wanted him awake.

I sat down next to him. I admit to feeling both sympathy and jealousy for him. Sympathy for what he would inevitably go through, jealousy for the good times he was going to enjoy, that I had enjoyed.

The memories in my mind were fading. The box, of course. Still doing its work.

I reached my hands down and pressed them gently to the face of my younger self. I felt into his mind. I felt all of the confusion, the uncertainty, and the wonder of what had happened to him. His surge of triumph for facing down Darth Malgus and saving so many people from Sith slavery. For saving Jan and Cami.

I pressed deeper. I pressed into what made him… him.

All of the sudden pain shot through my head. There it was, I realized. A compulsion, planted in me to keep me from doing this. To make me so distracted with pain I couldn't.

But I wouldn't let that stop me. Too much had happened. Too much was at stake. I had to get this done and get it done now. I fought the compulsion and kept the link open. I felt the memories of my younger self, not yet locked away. I took what I had seen when Mogo had been showing him our past and I used those images, those associations, to pull even more memories and knowledge from his mind into mine.

I don't know if I can describe how it felt. Having those memories return. Knowing what my life had been like before, well, this. That I had anything like a life before this. Just a usual Human, too. Nothing particularly interesting. Nothing that stood out, really. Except maybe shoe size.

But I felt sharp pains elsewhere now. In my chest, over my heart. Just the one. The left heart, that is, the one where a Human's sole heart would be. As if I were still Human.

How many of you have gone a decade without seeing anyone who cared for you? You might know what I was feeling then.

I thought of family. Friends. My brother and aunts and uncles and cousins and co-workers. Names and places I had been to. I could remember riding in the passenger seat of a tractor-trailer moving through the hills of southern Pennsylvania. The wind of Puget Sound striking me face as a ferry made about twenty knots across the sound. The mountainside at Maggie Valley in the Carolinas when I was just a child. The beauty of the Florida Keys. The sight of a seaside dawn, with the sun gently lifting above the horizon.

The loved ones who were no longer around.

Tears were flowing down my eyes as it all came back.

Including the most important part. The thing I needed more than anything. The thing the compulsion had been meant to keep from me.

My name.

My name.

I don't know if I can ever adequately describe what that felt like. To know who I once was before this, this grand and terrible thing had been thrust upon me. To regain who I had once been.

We are all the sum of our experiences and memories, modified by whatever inclinations we may possess naturally. Now I felt almost like a second mind had come to inhabit the space of my own. It was… disorientating.

I got back to my feet and moved away from my younger self. My head was swimming so much that I stumbled. My head hurt. I was trying to process this extra set of memories, to integrate them with the rest of my memories. Nearly thirty years of memories added to ten as a Time Lord (not to mention what memories I still had of John Smith-Stevens' life).

For a moment I was laid out on all fours. I took a breath and focused. I had to get back to the TARDIS. I had things to do.

I picked myself up and kept going.

As soon as I was back in the TARDIS I went to the controls and pulled the lever. This shifted us away. I let go of the lever and felt myself collapse onto the floor. My head hurt so much I was ready to just take a rest again.

But I couldn't rest. I had to stop Rassilon. I needed to find a way to face him.

As I thought of that, I found myself asking the question Q had posed. Why had my memories been locked away? Why had my name been taken from me? What possible motive did the Time Lords have for doing that?

The answer was obvious. It posed a threat to the plan. An impediment.

But what?

What did these memories provide me in terms of knowledge? How was that dangerous? About the only thing they would let me do is…

I stopped at that thought. "Could it be that?", I murmured to myself. "Really?"

Well, there was only one way to find out.

I went to the TARDIS controls. I wouldn't be putting in coordinates, not for this destination. Best to make use of another method. So I reached under the control and pulled out my mechanism of choice.

The telepathic circuit. "All right," I muttered. "Let's go."

I focused on one of the reclaimed memories. An office building lobby. Not a big one, but with a security desk. Computer screens for monitors and reading badges. Christmas decorations.

It was the night I was taken to be turned into a Time Lord.

I wanted, I needed, to see that moment. For my own assurance.

And so that is where I went next.




I won't bore you with details on the building in question. It was like most other commercial structures in a service economy, part of a multiple-building complex.

I materialized the TARDIS in stealth mode from a vantage point that was out of the way. I took out my spyglass, and I waited.

Not long after I arrived, I watched myself show up. My much younger self, I suppose. The memories were still jostling around in my head, finding their natural place in the spaces of my mind. My memory of this night blurred with other similar nights; sitting at a desk all night watching this and that and trying to pass the time. I breathed in and kept watching as that other me took up his shift like it was any other night. I couldn't remember what the time was when I was taken. I could be here for hours.

And they went by. An hour. Two. Three. I kept an eye out for anything like a dimensional disturbance. Some background energies that drew my attention, but nothing definite.

It was at about the fourth hour that something did seem to happen. I registered an energy surge in a subspatial dimension. It was a surge of incredible power. I intensified my concentration. The moment had clearly come. The abduction was about to take place.

Answers were about to be given, long-awaited answers.

I watched intently as the energy surged. There was a brief flash of released dimensional energies and...

....and nothing.

Nothing at all.

I stared. I checked the time. Was it really later in the night? I could swear it was on the earlier side. I frowned and kept watching.

The fifth hour came. The sixth. Dawn started cracking over the horizon. I stared in disbelief as nothing out of the ordinary.

And then the moment came. The sun was in the sky and my younger self was heading out to go home.

No. This couldn't be. This wasn't possible. How could I still be here? I searched my memories, wondering if this was the wrong night. But it wasn't. I double-checked the local time - it was the right day. The right early morning. This is where my Human memories ended. How could he still be here when my memories were over?!

I thought back to that dimensional surge of energy. What had that been? I needed to know.

To prepare, I shifted myself over to "my" home. I worked on what I needed, I examined scans and everything. I saw patterns I recognized, but I needed to scan my younger "self" to make sure.

I left the TARDIS out of sight and hid myself nearby. There could be no invisibility device or some such for this. I needed a clean scan without the interference such fields could cause, every minute detail accounted for.

Eventually he came. He was tired. He just wanted to go home. I knew this, because I remembered being him. And he just wanted to go upstairs to that small apartment and do his daily routines. He - I - could be a creature of habit, really.

Actually, I still can be to many extents.

Either way, I waited until he was starting to go up the stairs before I moved around the stairwell. I held up my sonic and scanned with my free hand holding the tip to muffle the "whir" enough that, with his - my - bad hearing, it couldn't be heard. Once I had the results I rushed over to the nearby tree where the TARDIS was invisible in stealth mode. I went to the controls and called up the scan I took.

It had been several hours since the dimensional event, so the traces were a little weaker than they would have been, but I got the results. There was an energy signature on him. The result of proximity to a massive surge of temporal energy. By all appearances he had been taken through... and brought back.

And then there was the other energy signature.

A signature I knew. One I knew all too well.

My eyes moved down to below the control panel. Into the pit area of the control room where I kept so many gadgets I employed. They focused on a corner with a twisted, blackened heap that had once been a carefully-constructed device.

I felt... I don't know. Horror? Disbelief? Sheer bloody bewilderment? It was probably an overreaction, if you want me to be honest, to the truth. I mean, I had done it to others myself, and for a good purpose.

And now, ha, I find out that the same was done to me.

The Time Lords, Rassilon, had not actually abducted me.

They had copied me.

I was a quantum duplicate.



Author's Note: The Amy Chan/Panzer Pyro character and the Blackthornes are from the Mistyverse stories "The GIrl in the Metal Suit", which can be found in this forum. I wrote the first two, I started the third and Mayabird finished it, and then Mayabird wrote the fourth. I admit it is surrealist to go this route, quite heavy on the 4th Wall perhaps, but it did make a lot of sense as a flaw in the Box in our narrator's mind.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-12 10:22am

I stared at the results for a while. I just stared.

Quantum duplication. That was it. That was why there was another me out there, living the life I was taken from.

I was a quantum duplicate.

Well, okay, more like we both were. Quantum duplication isn't like cloning after all. It's not using cells to grow another organism just like yourself. Even if you had a way to copy and implant your mind and memories into the clone. Quantum duplication is far, far more involved, since it is essentially taking the raw quantum-level information that makes you up and making a copy of it with high energy matter manipulation. Like highlighting text in a computer file and hitting "Copy" to "Paste" said text into another document. Just a lot more complicated.

I had tried my hand at it before, as you undoubtedly remember. My results were… mixed, to say the least.

How fitting to find that the same was done to me.

I decided I needed to rest. I laid in my control room hammock and continued to go through my memories. It had been bad enough before, mind you, and now it was arguably worse.

Before, I at least had the prospect that if I wanted to I could go home. I could resume my old life. Maybe even mix it up if I wanted; go on trips and then come home.

But not now. To do so I would have to take away that other me. Who probably had no idea what had been done to him. I would have to tear him away from his life in order to live it.

I would have to do to him what Rassilon had done to me.

And how could I even consider such a thing?

Oh, I know that, rationally, in the long run I was getting the better part of the deal. I was a Time Lord now. I had gotten to travel the wonders of creation, met beings I knew as friends and allies that he would never dream of meeting, and attain heights he would not. I had the Multiverse at my fingertips; he was struggling along as a blue collar worker in a tough economy.

But to have the choice taken from me. That hurt.

I realized that a part of me had been hoping to do just that when this was over. A part that had been overjoyed to find home, a chance to go home.

Now that I knew this, that possibility had been stripped from me. I could never go home. No matter how much I might want to.

All of that work, reclaiming my old memories, and all it would bring me is pain.

I groaned in frustration. This was getting me nowhere. I could mope later. I had a further mystery to solve.

Why had Rassilon been so bent on keeping me from my home Earth? He clearly didn't have to worry about me taking up my old life. He'd made sure of that with the quantum duplication.

There had to be something else here. Something else that could serve as a vulnerability.

I pulled myself out of the hammock with a groan and returned to the TARDIS controls. I turned on all the scanners. There had to be something out there to explain this. And I would find it.

I had to.




I took a bit to change clothes, clean up, that sort of thing, and I went to work investigating scan results. Before I had been focusing entirely on my night of abduction and the place of it. Now I expanded the search.

I went through the wavelengths and types of scans. There was the leftover energy from the surge that had been used to duplicate me. Trace amounts of various other things, enough for me to know that there was more going on here. But no signs of an actual Crack or anything of that sort.

Okay, dead end there. I went back to thinking. Why was Rassilon so bent on keeping me from coming back here? What was so special about my home Earth? It was one of the more metaphysically stable worlds, yes. But what else was so special about it?

I considered the possibilities, one by one. Sixth-dimensionally, this Earth was at a fairly central location, going by coordinates at least. Maybe it had something to do with that? Was there something I might do here to meddle with his plans?

Urgh. Not enough data. Just… there wasn't enough data!

I smacked my hand on the TARDIS control out of frustration. "Has to be something," I muttered. "There has to be more to this. Why wouldn't he want me back here? What could I possibly do here that I can't do anywhere else?" I looked up at the TARDIS core. "It doesn't make any sense. I mean, what is special about this world that I would pose a threat to… him…."

A light dawned in my head. One thing I had not tried, not in a while, and had obviously not done while I was here.

I thought through the right coordinates in a hurry. My hands flew over the controls in line with my thoughts, adjusting the arrival coordinates appropriately.

When I was done, I pulled the TARDIS lever.

And for the first time ever with these coordinates, I was answered by a VWORP VWORP VWORP.

"That's it," I gasped to myself. "That's why."

I rushed to the door and opened it. I found myself on a curbside in a city street, just inside an alleyway. I stepped out and looked about at the sight of…

...why, merry old London, of course.

I didn't make out the actual area I was in. Nevertheless I rushed back into the TARDIS and, after a few minutes' search, found a few quid of the right time frame. I went back out and started walking down the street until I found a newsagent stand. I looked at the available papers and quickly located the Times. The main story was talking about "cubes" that had materialized suddenly…

I swallowed and set the paper down. I felt my hearts starting to race as I considered a smaller local paper. Another story about the cubes was in the corner.

The byline read "By Sarah Jane Smith".

"You going to buy something?!", the operator demanded.

"Oh…. sorry there." I put the paper back, yanked up a couple little packets of chocolate candy, and flipped him the requisite coins. "Keep the change."

I was running on automatic at that point. This… this was it. The Doctor's cosmos. I'd finally, after all this time, made it.

It was strange, though, that it took returning to my home cosmos to do so. As if there were a connection between them that made that the only cosmos I could start this trip from.

With that thought in mind I went back to the TARDIS. When I got to the controls I decided to test things. I set coordinates for the Citadel and pulled the TARDIS lever.

Nothing happened.

"Okay there," I mumbled. "What is this?" I changed coordinates again. Manticore, this time.

Still nothing.

Then Republic City. Chicago. Solaria. Bajor. I tried another ten or so locations and couldn't lock onto them. Satisfied with that, I set the coordinates back to my original Earth.

VWORP VWORP VWORP.

How interesting. I wondered if this could be some sort of result of the Time War, some increased trans-universal barrier that blocked off the sixth dimensional location of the Doctor's home cosmos. But if so, I needed to explain how it had reached my Earth.

But before I could think more on that, I got a call on my phone. I picked it up, checking the ID coming in, and actually managed a smile despite everything at hearing the voice on the other end. "Jan, Cami, hello."

I could hear a cry of pain in the background. "It's time, Doctor," Jan said, more than a bit of urgency in her voice.

"Oh, dear," I answered. "I'm on my way." I ported over the coordinates the call provided automatically and pulled the TARDIS lever. And I made sure to grab my medical kit pack just in case.




What happened next wasn't really important to the story, so I'm not going to bother going into much detail on it. Seriously, I'm doing you a favor.

After all, how often is the miracle of birth something that is well-covered in fiction? Or real life for that matter?

I arrived at the estate on Salnorra and went right into the house. Chrissy and Kari were waiting patiently in the living area, being tended to by droids encouraging them to finish their schoolwork. Another droid was watching little Molly, Jan's second and still a toddler, toddle around the living area playing with what looked like blocks engraved in Basic characters. They didn't heed this when I entered. "Doctor! Doctor!" Kari jumped up and rushed over to me. "Mommy Cami is giving us another baby sister!"

"Yes, so I've been told," I answered them, smiling. "I'll head up to your Mommy Cami, okay? To make sure your new baby sister is okay."

"Okay!"

I went upstairs and found them in the main bedroom. Cami was in the bedroom, laying on the bed with a medical droid providing the delivery service so that Cami could hold Jan's hand. "I don't remember Chrissy being this… aaaaagh... bad!"

"Chrissy was a little on the small side, dear," Jan pointed out. I could see she was concentrating as well. Not so much from her wife crushing her hand but from an effort to ease her pain where possible through the Force.

"Hold on. I think I have just the thing." I rushed over and pulled something out of a bag. "Layom Station-guaranteed to take the edge off," I promised, pushing an injector to the vein in Cami's left arm.

It did seem to take the edge off, and I received smiles from the two.

It was the usual thing from there. The miracle of birth is usually not so miraculous on the mother and Cami was still in quite a bit of pain before it was all over. A slightly feminine mechanical voice reported, with some hint of presumably-programmed pride, "Congratulations, mistresses. She is a girl." There was the light sound of cushioned metal thwacking flesh and a shriek that was not inhuman only on technicality filled the room. "What is the child's name?"

"Yasuko," Cami said with a smile. A smile that belied all of the glistening sweat from her effort.

The droid swaddled little Yasuko up in a blue blanket with what looked like baby banthas and nexus on it before handing the newborn to her mother. Yasuko was still crying. And while everyone knows babies are supposed to always be adorable, for the moment she looked like this shriveled up thing more than a photogenic infant. But maybe that was just the shrieking.

There was noise at the door. I turned and saw the two elder daughters standing in the doorway, eyes wide with curiosity and amazement. Chrissy was pulling along little Molly who looked more lost than anything. "Can we see her?", Kari asked with barely-restrained enthusiasm.

"Come in, girls," Jan said, nodding. "Come and meet your baby sister Yasuko."

"Hold on everyone," I said. "I should get pictures of this..."




The medical droid did most of the cleanup and I took most of the pictures, holographic and photographic, with this little family enjoying their newest addition. Once this was over Cami made it clear she was exhausted and needed rest. Jan brought baby Yasuko to a small baby bed in the living area before joining me out on their balcony overlooking the Salnorran valley I'd picked for their home. "Well." Jan sighed. "I'm glad that's over with."

"Four sweet little girls," I remarked. "So adorable. Is that going to be all?"

"Probably," Jan sighed. She leaned against the railing. "I think it will be."

"Four is good," I agreed. I faced her and, for a moment, just contemplated what I saw. I had met this young woman when she wasn't even 20 (or the equivalent thereof) yet. Now here she was, still in the prime of life, but with a good decade and a half or so of life experiences to refine that passionate young ex-Padawan who had traveled the Multiverse with me at the beginning.

Jan slipped into a seat. "How are you doing?', she asked.

"I...." I stopped. How would I explain this? Should I? Jan had enough on her mind with Cami's giving birth and a new little girl in the family. "...let's just say I've gotten answers. And some... weren't what I considered they'd be."

"It happens." Jan motioned to a seat. "I can sense the pain and turmoil inside of you, Doctor. Why don't you explain everything?"

"I can't impose," I insisted. "You've got so much..." I stopped when I saw that glare form in her expression. I held my hands up. "Alright. Alright."

So I told her.

About everything.

I saw her expression go from interested to pleased to horrified as I laid out the progression of events. When I was done I took up a glass of the celebratory spring wine I'd brought and sipped at it. The sweet flavor helped with my parched throat.

"By the stars," Jan said. "I... I... Doctor, I'm so sorry."

"Thank you for that," I answered. I swallowed. "I... I'm still getting used to it. All of those years of memories, I mean."

"I can imagine."

"I suppose I should be celebrating," I said. "I remember who I was. I have that identity back. I can't do anything with it because I'm a quantum duplicate, mind you. But I do have it back."

"You're still you," Jan insisted. "You're still the wonderful being who helped us escape from slavery. You've... saved so many lives, so many worlds... This doesn't matter. You are who you are, whether or not there's another one of you."

"But there isn't, is there?", I asked aloud. "I'm not like him anymore." I sipped at the wine and looked back out at the valley. "it's funny. I should feel sorry for him. He's living that small life. Working every day just to survive, like so many Humans in history. And here I am. A Time Lord brain far beyond any Human capacity. A lifespan measuring over a millennium even without further regenerations. And the whole of Creation is my playground." I drew in a sigh. "So why am I feeling jealous of him?"

"Because that was your life." Jan sipped at the spring wine herself. "When we agreed to go with you back then, you explained this to us. That it had been your life. And you were taken from it against your will. Now you've discovered you can't even go back to it."

"That must be it," I murmured. "Because that's the only thing that makes rational sense."

"Well, you are a madman in a box," Jan pointed out with some amusement.

I had to laugh. "I suppose so, yes. Rationality doesn't always figure in to it, does it?" I sighed. "Now everything has changed. I have my old homeworld back, I can go back whenever I want. And through there, I can go to the Doctor's cosmos. Now I just need to figure out how to talk to him. How I might convince him to help me." I took another drink.

"Do you need me to go and watch your back?", Jan offered.

I almost spat the spring wine out over the balcony in my haste to respond. After forcefully swallowing I shook my head. "No. No, I do not need you to do that, Jan," I insisted.

"If you need help..."

"Jan, please." I leaned in toward her. "Jan, you have four little girls and a wife who love you and who need you. I will not turn them into orphans and a widow. This is the most dangerous mission I have ever contemplated, without a doubt."

"You said the same thing about fighting the Reapers," Jan pointed out.

"This is worse," I answered. "Rassilon makes Harbinger look like Kari."

"I see." Jan thought on it. "Alright. I understand. But please, you need someone with you. Not just this other Doctor. You need someone you know, someone who knows you and will protect you."

"I understand," I said. That was all I would say because no, I was not intending to bring anyone with me.

And Jan realized that, which is why she was scowling at me. But before she could say anything, we heard movement at the door.

Kari was standing there, looking very cute in her little blue blouse and white skirt, hands held in front of her. "Doctor?", she asked. "Can we have a puppet show? For Molly."

I chuckled at that and glanced toward Jan, who could only smirk. "Puppet shows, eh?", I asked. "Well, all right, I suppose." I smiled toward Jan. "it just depends on which one you want."

"You have more?!", Kari inquired eagerly.

"Oh yes," I vowed, solemnly. "There's the one where I fight evil shapeshifters along the Gems, there's a new one with Harry, and a couple others.... although you might still be too young for the one about my adventure with Lady Hawke of Kirkwall." I winked. "But there's still saving a world from an evil extradimensional being alongside a twin brother and sister and my adventure with the legendary gunman Vash the Stampede!"

"I want to hear them all!", Chrissy declared, joining the conversation with little Molly still following her.

"I wanna hear about the Gems!", Kari insisted. "I liked them!"

"Alright, alright," I said, smiling. I stood up. "Let me go get my theater and make sure all of the puppets are in good order, eh?"




The children delighted in the puppet show as always. It was rather late by the time it was over and Jan made it clear that it was bedtime. When she came back down, a tired-looking Cami accompanied her. Her proximity seemed to awaken little Yasuko, who awoke and started screaming. Presumably it was time for her first meal.

Cami was handling that while I, at her and Jan's insistence, told her about what I had learned. "I'm sorry," was all she managed. "To think that you can't go back to your old life..."

I nodded. "Nope."

"You can stay here as long as you need," Cami insisted. "You know that."

"I do." I sat back in the chair and closed my eyes. It sounded so tempting. I had time, right? I'm a time traveler. I could take some time off. Digest what I had just learned. Spend time with my first Companions and their adorable children. Be the crazy uncle. Take them on little trips to Beach City and Republic City. Make even more puppet shows. That sort of thing.

Why not? I needed the downtime. I did. I had so much in my head that I wasn't sure I could properly focus. I should take the time and make sure my head was on right.

There were footsteps coming down the stairs. Jan and Cami looked up to where Kari was coming down the staircase, wearing her blue and green-flower patterned pajamas. "Momma, mommy? There's a strange droid in my room."

"What?" Jan blinked. "What do you mean a strange droid?"

"It's probably that new cleaning droid I had delivered," Cami said. "Don't worry about it and go to bed."

"But it's..."

By this time I had my sonic screwdriver out. The energy readings it was picking up caused me to jump to my feet. Fear, real fear, rushed through me as I took off for the stairs.

"Doctor?" Jan's voice called out behind me. I heard her stand as well. "Doctor?! What is it?!"

"A Crack!", I shouted back. "There's a Crack here!" I got to the upper floor and took off down the hall leading to the bedrooms. Chrissy was standing at the door to Kari's bedroom staring inside. "Chrissy, get away!", I shouted. "Get away now! Get Molly!"

I heard her start to protect, but I shut it out. I reached for my sonic disruptor which was, of course, there, because I no longer took anything for granted. I brought up the sonics as I entered the room.

My nightmares already told me what I would probably find. An Auton. A Cyberman. A Clockwork Robot. A Dalek. Something heralding a threat to this, the sanctuary and home of those I cared for. A threat to their lives. I brought the sonic disruptor up, ready to shield myself from whatever attack came.

"Greetings."

I looked down to find the source of the highly mechanical voice speaking to me. There was a red light showing in the darkened room, partially illuminating a silhouette. The "droid" was rather short. Very short. Not human-sized at all, not even Dalek-sized.

The mechanical voice resumed. "My apologies for the intrusion. I appear to have suffered an extra-dimensional displacement event."

I recognized the voice. And blurted out the name that came to my mind.

"K-9?!"
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-13 12:47pm

I reached over and found the light switch. It illuminated Karianas' room, which was what you might expect for a girl of about ten years of age.

In the middle of the room was a small robot. It had no legs, moving instead by anti-gravity systems on the bottom. One single block-shaped red eye looked up at me from a head in the general shape of a dog.

Jan ran up behind me and entered the room. Her lightsaber was now in her hand but inactive. "What is it?"

"A K-9 robot," I remarked. I knelt down in front of him.

"Greetings Mistress. I am K-9. I apologize for the intrusion."

"Apology accepted," Jan said, nodding. She looked at me. "It came through the Crack?"

"That it did." I held out the sonic and scanned around. The scans led me to Kari's closet. In the wall, at the level of the carpet, was a single Crack, running shining jagged lines near to the ground.

Jan's face showed concern. "Doctor, why is a Crack in my daughter's room?"

I swallowed. "I think it's because of me," I answered.

"You are the Doctor?", K-9 inquired. "You do not match any prior known appearance."

"I'm not that Doctor," I answered him. I turned and knelt down with my sonic out. "Can you tell me what happened to you?"

"I was continuing my duty of monitoring the black hole intersecting Earth's orbit. I recorded a powerful surge of dimensionally-disruptive energy. And I arrived here."

"Ah." I winced. "Well, that sounds like trouble. I'm guessing you should get ba-..."

Suddenly I was seized with a thought. It prompted me to hold out my TARDIS remote and bring the TARDIS right into Kari's bedroom. "K-9, my good fellow, might I be able to use those fancy hyperlinks you've got installed?"

"For what purpose?"

"To upload your onboard sensor data," I answered while opening the TARDIS door. "The systems you're installed with should have provided you quite the look at the Crack."

"Affirmative."

"Good dog."

I worked as quickly as I could in establishing the uplinks to K-9, who dutifully opened up his systems to send the data through. I watched it compile and felt a rush of excitement. I was getting a look at the Cracks I had yet to enjoy. All sorts of questions might be answered now. Already I could see that the energy of the Crack was as energetic as the one I found under Paris. If not slightly more so.

"You've been a great help, K-9," I said. I went to my communications station. "Might I ask another favor?"

"What is it that you require?"

"I need you to get a message to the Doctor," I answered. "If you can. I'm compiling it now."

K-9's head went up and down. "I will pass the message on."

"Thank you. You could say the fate of the Multiverse is at stake with this one," I answered while, rather intentionally, writing those lines into the message I was giving to K-9. When I was done I uploaded it into his systems. "There you go." I patted him on his metallic head. "Thank you, K-9. There's a lot going on and you have been a great help."

"Affirmative." It was said with a more chipper tone.

Once we were done K-9 and I stepped out of the TARDIS. By this point the other girls, and Cami, were also at the door. Kari entered. "Can I have him?", she asked. "I like him. He's the nicest droid I've ever seen."

K-9 bowed his head. "Thank you for your kind words, Mistress, but I am required elsewhere."

Kari pouted a little. "Okay," she said, sad. "But can I give you a kiss goodbye?"

"Affirmative."

Kari got on the floor beside him and gave him a peck on the snout. "Good droid doggy," she said.

"Thank you, Mistress."

"Good luck there, K-9," I said. "I'll seal up the Crack behind you."

"Affirmative, Doctor Mark II. I shall do what I can to pass the message you requested."

I nodded and thanked him again. K-9 turned away from us and back into the closet, where he entered the Crack.

"Okay everyone, give me a moment," I said. "I need to get the materials we need to close this thing."

"I wanna help!", Chrissy insisted.

"Oh, it's nothing," I insisted. I might have given in anyway, given the power of their pouts, but their mothers helped me on that count.

I got the Crack closed up and moved the TARDIS back out to the front yard of their lovely estate. Instead of returning inside immediately, though, I decided it was a better use of my time to go over the data I had gotten from K-9.

Of course, that was a mistake, as it took me all bloody night.

Then again, a good night's sleep would have been nice given what I found out.




The TARDIS door opened in the morning to admit Jan. She was carrying a tray of breakfast for me. Once she saw me sitting in a chair I'd brought up to the controls, staring endlessly at the main screen I had swiveled over to my location, I could hear a brief exhalation come from her. "You should have gotten rest."

"No time," I muttered. I was still staring at what I had found.

Jan didn't need the Force to see something was wrong. She walked up with the tray and set it on the controls near me. It looked like cereal and something like bacon. The aroma was quite refreshing to the senses. "Whatever it is, you need to eat."

"It all makes sense now," I murmured. "Everything."

Jan looked to the screen. I had the data from K-9, showing the various energy currents in the Crack. "I'm afraid I don't follow."

"The behavior of the Cracks. What they're doing. Everything." I tapped my fingers on the control panel beside me and continued to ignore the food Jan had brought out. "Why didn't I figure this out sooner? No, wait, don't answer, I know why. Because I'm a giddy idiot and I was more concerned with where I was going next than dealing with this."

"Doctor?"

"It's right there!", I shouted. "Right in front of my face! The pattern was there all along!"

I felt Jan put a hand on my shoulder. Serene calm emanated from her and into me. It was strange; passionate, eager Jan had become this calm, collected Jedi. She had grown so much…

I took in a sigh. "The reason why some Cracks drew in energy and some emitted it. It has to do with… with the structure of Reality if you will. Various cosmoses are 'closer' to one another, if you will, in the sixth dimensional structure."

"Okay." She regarded me with supreme patience.

"The more metaphysically stable a cosmos, the closer it is to one point. The less stable, the further along it is."

"Right."

"Now, cosmoses along the stable part of that spectrum had energy being drawn from them. Gibbs' world, Holmes', Westen's, those places."

"And places like our cosmos or Harry's or Korra's had energy coming out, yes."

"Yes, sorry, I know you know all of this, I'm just laying it out while I think on it." I felt my finger tapping increase. "Now I know why. It's… it's the structure, if you,will, of the Cracks. Or rather, that the Cracks are all connected. They're like… like tethers helping to anchor a central line, a central Crack. The reverse end of the tethers are all in one specific cosmos."

Jan nodded. "The cosmos all of those things coming through are from."

"Yes. My… I mean the Doctor's home cosmos." I hadn't quite caught myself. It had been so long since I had started to presume that was my home too. "There is an energy flow through that central Crack, though. Rassilon must be drawing power in. Tremendous amounts of dimensionally-charged energy from the… the barriers between each cosmos. In the process, though, this has created a wider energy flow. Because they're at the end of it, those metaphysically stable cosmoses are having energy drained out through the Cracks. And 'downstream', in the metaphysically softer cosmoses, some of that energy leeches out through the branchways leading to their Cracks."

"Do you know what causes the Cracks to form?"

I swallowed. "Me," I answered.

Jan looked at me.

"It makes the most sense," I sighed. "Every cosmos I have visited has had a Crack form there. Rassilon's machinery in the TARDIS allowed him to track me, to see where I went." I swallowed. "And it explains things that the Master and the Daleks said to me. About this being my doing, about how Rassilon's plans were going to work because of me."

"No wonder you're so upset." Jan put her hand on my arm. "It's not your fault."

"Every place I went," I said. "Every cosmos. I was bringing this to them. Every Crack is my fault. Every incursion that caused suffering and pain was my fault."

"No, it's not," Jan declared. "It's Rassilon's fault. You didn't know any better."

My lips quivered. "The Daleks were right. I'm the Destroyer. I've doomed everyone I've called a friend. All of those worlds I loved…"

"Stop it!"

We both turned. Cami was standing in the doorway of the TARDIS. She had left Yasuko with her older sisters for the moment. She was clearly exhausted, but that wasn't stopping the fire in her eyes. "Stop wallowing in this fit of self-guilt. Rassilon has used you. He took you from your life, he made it to where you couldn't go back, and he meddled with your mind. You cannot be held responsible for this. It is his fault." She pointed a finger at me. "And the only thing you can be blamed for is if you don't do anything to stop him. So, put that Time Lord brain to use, Doctor, and stop him."

Well. The roles had truly reversed, hadn't they? Now Cami was the tough love one while Jan was giving calm advice.

Jan smiled at her wife before looking to me. "Think, Doctor. Focus on what you have to do. How do you stop him?"

"Find the central point. The origin for that multi-dimensional tunnel. Gallifrey. I just need to find a way to enter the Cracks and get to the pocket universe they're in. That would put an end to this." I sighed and set my arms against my legs. "And I need to do it soon."

"Because it's getting worse, isn't it?", Jan asked. Her voice turned cool. She exchanged a worried look with Cami.

"Yes," I admitted. "It is. The energy states are becoming higher. It's like pressure building up before a geyser goes off. Or, I suppose, a volcano."

I turned my head. That calm was starting to fracture as Jan realized what I was saying. "Then… the Cracks…"

"They could potentially erupt, yes," I said. The visions in my dreams and from Garnet came to my mind again. "The destruction will be… stupendous."

Jan swallowed. Cami walked up and took her hand. "What should we do?", Cami asked.

I thought on it. "Take a vacation," I answered. "Somewhere out on the Outer Rim, maybe. That might be far enough in the worse case."

The color started coming out of their faces. I didn't blame them. I meant that 'might'. Going out to the rim of her galaxy might be far enough if the Cracks went off. I couldn't guarantee anything closer. But even that might not be enough. Nowhere, nowhen, would be safe from these Cracks.

It was horrible to think of that. Cami had just given birth. They had a baby daughter on top of the other three. And I had just told them that their baby girl and their other children were possibly doomed if I couldn't stop this.

Damn you, Rassilon.

"You'll do it, though," Jan insisted. "You can do this."

"I can."

Jan nodded. "And you still don't…"

I wouldn't let her finish that thought. "Jan, I can't. Not from you." I shook my head. "Your girls need you. Cami needs you." I looked to Cami. She was clearly torn between her worry for me and her worry for Jan and what might happen if she went with me. "This is my fight."

"But you can't go alone…"

"I won't be," I assured her. "I'm going to get help."

"The other Doctor?"

I nodded at her. "Yes. He can help me. And together we can stop anything Rassilon plans." I took her hand. "Don't worry about me. Just get Cami and the little ones ready, alright?"

She replied with a nod.




The family starcruiser was being fueled up by droids while others loaded the things they needed to spend a couple of months on any of the barely-civilized worlds of the Outer Rim. Seeing a baggy-eyed Cami trying to keep the girls straight while holding her often-wailing newborn daughter made me sigh. She should be in bed recuperating, not preparing for a long space voyage.

It also made me realize… not all of my friends or allies could do this. There were no interstellar ships in Republic City. Or Harry's Chicago. If the devastation was as widespread as it could be, if the worst of what I saw was right, the entire Federation could be destroyed - presuming the Q couldn't or wouldn't prevent the burst. And there were no Q to defend the Inner Sphere. Everything Katherine had worked for, everything she had loved, could be wiped out.

Indeed, there was no guarantee that whatever this was, it would stay constrained to one point in time. The Cracks could erupt on fourth-dimensional lines as well. Everything in the future or past also impacted. And I couldn't bring myself to consider the results of the ruptures going three-dimensional.

And evacuating… where would I take them? Every cosmos I had gone to had a Crack of some sort.

I had to do something. Just to stop thinking about all of these things. Just for the moment so I didn't drive myself mad with despair. I returned to the others and helped them with their packing. Jan and Cami gave me the space I needed, and for that I was deeply thankful.

Nothing happened until they were preparing to go. As goodbye hugs and such were shared, I noticed Kari was clearly distraught over something. But it was only when the hugs were done and everyone started to board the prepared star cruiser that she turned back to me. Her parents and siblings watched as she ran up to me and threw her arms around my waist. "Don't go!", she begged.

I looked down at her and put a hand on her head. "Kari, it's okay."

"No it's not!", she wailed. "It's not okay! If you go, we won't see you again!"

There was something in her voice. This wasn't just the fears of a child. I got onto a knee and faced her directly. "Now, Kari, don't worry."

"You can't go!", Kari insisted. "You can't! We'll never see you again! You'll be gone!"

"Please help! The Doctor is dying!" echoed in my head as the girl cried into my shoulder, begging me to not go. Jan walked up and put a hand on Kari's shoulder. "It's okay, Kari."

"Please, momma, explain it to him, make him understand!"

I looked to Jan. She drew in a sigh. "The girls have all shown some Force sensitivity."

"Ah. I see." I nodded and looked back to her. "Now don't you worry, Kari. Because I will come back. Okay?" When I saw I had not convinced her I reached to my neck and untied the purple necktie I was wearing. "You see this? It's my favorite." I pulled it loose from around my shirt collar and wrapped it over Kari's shoulders. "I'm going to leave it with you, okay? So that you know I'll be back for it. Take good care of it for me, eh? No letting Molly draw on it or Yasuko slobber all over it."

That didn't appease her entirely. I could tell. She took it in her hands and seemed to focus on feeling the texture of the cloth for a moment. "Okay," she finally said. "But you have to come back for it."

"Of course. It's my favorite tie. I don't have a complete suit without it, see?"

"You promise?"

I nodded and hugged the young girl. "I promise."

Her parents, misty-eyed, held her hands as they brought her into the starcruiser. I returned to the TARDIS door, from which I watched the ship take off. I waved at them through the cockpit when it showed before the sleek blue and green spacecraft accelerated skyward.

I stepped back into the TARDIS and took in a breath. And another. I found I was gripping the rail so tight my knuckles turned white.

My mind went back to that message coming through the Cracks.

"Please! He's dying! The Doctor is dying! I need your help!""

Maybe… that was me. Maybe this would be it. I wouldn't be coming back from this.

I don't get scared often. But the thought of it, of dying, no regenerations to be had… I felt gripped by fear. I heard myself speak. "I… I don't want to die."

I walked up to the TARDIS controls. I needed time to process this all. To process what was going on. What I needed to do. My fears, my worries. I had to or I would act before I was ready.

I looked over at the wall up the gangway. It was my picture wall. All off the people I knew, that I had met.

That was it. I would go and see them all. One last time.

And then…. I would go and face my fate, no matter what it entailed.




It would be pedantic to cover every conversation, every meeting, I had. Suffice to say I spent a time visiting others. I checked in on Katherine's family in time for the big event; Victor and Omi's wedding. It was rather splendid.

I was on Bajor in the proper time and place to hear the Vedek Assembly anoit one of their own as the new Kai. Nerys looked splendid in those white and golden robes of her ecclesiastical state. The bands of silver hair appearing in her normal red hair gave her a look of distinction. She smiled at me and came up to me for a hug, and I returned it.

I then paid a visit to Seven, although I went back a bit in the timeline while doing so. She and Chakotay had indeed taken up John Smith-Stevens' old house on San Juan Island. We exchanged greetings.

While I was there I even paid a visit to John's empty grave. I had business there. I decided it was best to leave his wedding ring with his memory. After I stepped away I turned back to see a figure in black walk up and open the box. Janet Peratrovich turned to me and gave me a sad look. But her nod was entirely thankful before she turned away. I could only hope she had a happy ending after all of that.

I made a quick trip to Mitakihara to check up on things. Metropolis next. It turned out they had a Crack there too. Ice Warriors, something to do with Killer Frost, but they only needed me to deal with the Crack.

In Chicago I found myself in a warehouse, where a group of frightened people were being freed by Karrin Murphy and her Chicago Alliance, although they were pinned in at the moment. I watched her, the Alphas, and some of John Marcone's hired Einharjar fighting off monsters and Fomor.

Oh, and Kuvira too.

Kuvira, in fact, clearly took the lead in dealing with their predicament. She bent walls of raw earth up from underneath to give them ramparts and used her Metalbending to tear the automatic weapons out of the hands of the Fomor servitors. This bought time for a charge to blast open the wall. The Alphas led the ordinary people out with the Einharjar coming up behind them. Kuvira took up the rear to cover Murphy's escape, evading attacks as she went.

She missed one. A big Fomor who came up behind her. I felt compelled to apply a kinetic charge to him with my sonic disruptor.

Kuvira looked up toward me a moment later. Her expression softened into… was that a smile? Yes, it may have been. I smiled back and returned to my TARDIS.

For all Kuvira had done… it was good to see she was getting the second chance she deserved.

While I was there I made sure to swing by the Carpenters' place and visit the family. We had a nice dinner and little Maggie was, I'm pleased to say, becoming more vibrant and open as a little girl. The trauma of what the Red Court had done was still there, but she was getting good to balance out the bad now.

On the Citadel I caught up with Shepard and Liara, who biotic-blasted me into a fountain after I impugned the talent of the local fashion designers, much to Shepard's amusement. I would also pay a visit to Thessia and my favorite Asari Matriarch, who insisted I try a refinement to her infamous Headbutt drink. Wrex was present by happy coincidence - something about "I hate being a diplomat" - and we had a most enlightening evening with some science thrown in.

Confidential science. Determining Krogan and Time Lord alcohol resistance is most confidential.

And then there was the quick spin by Beach City. Just long enough to see Katara helping young Steven refine his healing on his father Greg and some minor bruising. Something about a mishap with the car wash. I don't even think they saw me, but it was nice to see Katara smiling so much and giggling at Steven's antics.

I could go on. Visiting Abby Sciuto and leaving her some specially-engineered black flowers, and possibly getting a bruised rib from an enthusiastic Abby-hug in response. Checking in on so many other worlds I had known and visited. I obviously made a return trip to Layom Station. Afterward I was in Republic City again, enjoying the view of the city. I took a visit to Harmony Tower, that Eiffel-style fixture of the city, where I watched Korra and Asami cuddling quietly in a turtle-duck boat upon the tower's reflecting lake. It was all very adorable and I didn't want to disturb them - well, to be honest, I had other reasons to not speak with them on what was going on - so I left them a gift in their car. A certain kit from Layom Station, with explanation and instructions in Earth Kingdom standard.

Yes, that kit.

Tenzin and the family made sure to give me another meal. It allowed me to check in on the brothers and on Opal; all were fine.

Like at other stops, I was asked what I was doing. I suppose I was acting a bit more somber than usual. Contemplative, certainly. I always deflected it.

But after dinner, as I was preparing to enter the TARDIS, I heard Jinora call out to me. I turned and faced her. "You don't know if you're coming back, do you?", Jinora asked me. There was concern on her face. "That's why you didn't actually talk to Korra. You're afraid she'll insist on going with you."

I opened my mouth to deny it. But something inside me betrayed that. "Yes," I admitted. "I don't know if I'm coming back from this, Jinora."

"This has to do with whatever the Master tried?"

"Yes."

She nodded in understanding. "And you don't want anyone else to be lost with you. But can you do it alone?"

"I won't be alone," I promised. "I'm going to find the Doctor, that is, the Time Lord who inspired me. With his help, I can face this menace."

"Are you sure that's all you need? That you don't want someone who knows you to help?"

I sighed. I found myself unable to deny my thoughts. "Maybe. I don't know… I can't put any more of you at risk, Jinora. Not like this."

Jinora nodded. "I think I understand." Her expression was somber, and I thought I saw a tear come to her eye in the moment before she gave me a hug. "Good luck, Doctor. Please, come back."

"I'll do my best," I promised. It was all I could say and she knew it.

Our hug continued for a moment. And then there was the suspicious sound below us in the form a high-pitched giggle. We looked down and little Rohan had sauntered up to us and was busily smearing what looked like the mashed remains of his fruit portion of the meal into our legs. The giggling turned to laughter.

"Rohan!" Jinora's voice belied her bemusement at her youngest sibling's antics.

"Oh, you're a regular mischief-maker, aren't you?", I said. "Do you know how long it takes to get that stuff out of my trousers?"

His answer was more giggling.

And honestly, I found myself laughing too, as did Jinora. Who was very quick to wipe away the tears flowing down her cheeks.




I couldn't hold it off any longer. I had taken my chance to see off old friends and allies. To check up on my old Companions. Now I needed to get going.

Seeing them all had served to remind me of what was at stake. After all, it was easy to lose sight of the cost of destruction when it's all abstract. When it's just numbers. But knowing that all of those I cared about could be lost? That their existences might be snuffed out?

No. I couldn't do that.

No matter what happened, no matter my fate, I had to go. I had to face Rassilon and stop him.

Even if it meant my death.

I set in coordinates for my home Earth and pulled the TARDIS lever. I knew something wasn't right when I felt a familiar rumble through the TARDIS.

You see, there was one world I hadn't visited. One place I loved, but which I feared could provide unwanted temptation.

"Come on," I muttered. "I love it here too, but I don't want to get anyone involved. We need to go." I re-input the coordinates and pulled the activation lever.

Nothing.

Before I could do anything else, there was a knock on the TARDIS door. I drew in a sigh. "Come in," I mumbled, snapping my fingers.

I turned to the door as it opened, fully expecting the sight I saw.

Eskarina Smith stepped into the TARDIS.

This was young Esk, all dressed up in red wizard's robes, and that staff without a knob. Probably not long after our first meeting, from her perspective. Her brown hair was loose around her shoulders. Her eyes showed youthful energy not yet tempered by the Esk I had known further in the Disc's future. The Esk who I had seen pass away peacefully in her sickbed.

"Hello there," she said. "I had a feeling you were going to show up. My temporal observation spells get all wobbly whenever the TARDIS is about to arrive."

"Um, yes, yes they would," I said. I turned to my TARDIS controls.

Esk walked up to me. "Is everything all right? Because you don't look so well."

"I... didn't intend to come," I said. "I love our excursions, Esk, but right now I'm off to do something immensely dangerous and of even more immense importance."

"Oh?" Esk looked around. "I don't see anyone coming with you. Would you like some help?"

I shook my head. "No. No, that won't be necessary. I..." I swallowed. Esk's power as a wizard, the energy she could control... it would be useful. And certain to send Rassilon into fits.

It just meant I had to risk her life.

And yes, I know I met an older version of her already. But time can be wibbly-wobbly that way. Things can still change. Fifth-dimensional shifts and all that.

"This is what you wanted, eh?", I murmured, looking at my TARDIS.

Esk crossed her arms. "I get the feeling you're being all chivalric. That 'can't let the poor girl risk herself' sort of thing. I put up with it entirely too much as it is. If you need me, Doctor, I intend to go."

I almost barked "No". I held back on that and directed a look at her. "Esk, I don't want you to go. I don't want anyone to go."

"Then why did you come here, hrm? Just to say goodbye?" She gave me a cross look. "Because I don't buy that."

"It was just a miscalculation, that's all," I lied.

Esk simply glared at me for a few more moments before huffing and going to the TARDIS door. "I'll be back in a few minutes," she said.

The moment she closed the TARDIS door I re-did all coordinates. But the TARDIS still wouldn't move. "Why?", I asked aloud. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because you need the help."

When my TARDIS appeared as "Cat" again, she chose something distinctly less colorful. Just a dark blue blouse and skirt. She looked at me sadly. "You want to do this alone. You don't want anyone to be harmed. But you are not thinking of how we will feel if you are harmed instead."

"It's my responsibility," I insisted. "I can't have anyone else getting hurt because of me."

"And if you fail, they will be lost anyway." My TARDIS shook the head of "Cat". "You must bring her, Doctor. Please. Bring her. You will need her."

I ignored that plea and tried to shift the TARDIS again. It still wouldn't move. "Please," I asked. "I can't be responsible for causing harm to Esk."

"I'm sorry. But I can't be responsible for causing harm to you." TARDIS-Cat stepped up and settled her hand on my shoulder. Hard-light surface and all that. "Your mind still reels from all of the memories you have regained. You are not thinking clearly. Please, you will need the help. Don't fight me on this."

I drew in a breath. I hated to admit she was right. But I simply couldn't.... I was so afraid of what would happen. What I might face on Gallifrey, assuming I could get there. Risking Esk, risking anyone, felt wrong.

But my TARDIS was right. Even with the Doctor helping, and whatever Companion he might bring, Esk was a Companion who could prove indispensable in what was to come. Even at this young age. And the stakes were too high for me to ignore that. I had to stop and think.

By the time Esk returned my TARDIS had disengaged her holographic interface. Esk was carrying another bag, presumably of clothing and other necessities. She put it down at the opening and stood there, silently. Her eyes were the only thing asking a question. It was "Well?"

I hated doing it. I felt I shouldn't.

But I did. I waved her in with my hand. She picked up her bag and walked up to me at the controls of the TARDIS. "So, where are we going?"

"Here and there," I said. "And ultimately... we are going to Gallifrey."

Esk nodded. "But not at first...?"

"No." I shook my head. "First things first. I need someone who can help me confront Rassilon." I finished re-setting the coordinates.

Eskarina eyed me doing so. "Okay. Who?"

I put my hand on the TARDIS activation lever. I drew in a breath to calm my hearts as I contemplated this. This, perhaps the most important moment in my life as I knew it.

After all this time, the meeting I had always wondered about having - even dreaded at times - was coming.

"We're going to find the Time Lord whose name I was inspired to take up," I informed Eskarina. "We're going to find the Doctor."

I pulled back on the TARDIS activation lever.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-14 09:46am

Finale Special - The Promise of the Name



I've heard it said that journeys don't truly end unless we choose to end them. There is something to that, I suppose. One can choose to start a journey to a destination and decide to keep going.

We don't always get the luxury of such choices, though.

And so here we are. At the end of my journey. My final tale, you might say.

I had tried to begin it alone. But my TARDIS had refused that; she insisted I bring along someone. That someone was Eskarina Smith, the only female wizard of the Discworld, who had unlocked the secrets of time travel - at least by the rules of reality on the Discworld and its quantum variability field - and who had, at various points in her life, been an ally of mine in my journeys to that strange and wondrous world.

This was her first time off the Discworld, though. At least to my experience.

"So Rassilon created you," she said upon my run through of the facts. "He created you as a quantum duplicate to fulfill some plan involving the Cracks."

"Yes."

Esk let my words sink in for a moment. "So you want to face him. You want to stop whatever he's planning because it looks like he's going to cause damage to other worlds."

I nodded. "Quite a lot of damage, I think."

"Right." Esk walked around the control panel in thought. "So to do this right, you want to find... yourself?"

"No." I shook my head and sighed. "I'm not the original Doctor, Esk. That name, it's... it's a promise you make. The promise and the name go together."

Esk looked at me as I said those words. Her next question was obvious. "What's the promise?"

I swallowed. Those words were hard to forget. "Never cruel, never cowardly. Never give up, never give in."

"Hrm." She considered my words. "I think I like that promise."

I smiled thinly at her. "I thought you might."

"Well, we know what we're doing next then? Do you know how to find this Doctor?"

"I'm not sure yet," I said. "But I'm hoping a new acquaintance was able to come through for me."

"And this acquaintance would be?"

I smiled at her. "A robot dog."

That caused her to raise her eyebrow. I had to chuckle at the reaction even as my hand gripped the activation lever.

We were off to London.




As I said before, Esk had never left the Disc. So London was a new experience for her. Quite new indeed. Buildings as tall as the Tower of Art back in Ankh-Morpork were towering everywhere. Traffic zipping about the streets, flashing signs and lights and all the whizbangs and geegaws of early 21st Century Earth, all out of the experiences of a resident of the Disc during the Century of the Fruitbat. Or the Century of the Anchovy, for that matter. "So this is Roundworld", she murmured to me.

"Well, that's a little non-specific," I noted. "Technically every planet is a Roundworld. It's the Disc that is special."

Esk kept looking around as we approached our destination. She looked somewhat out of place in her flowing red wizard robes. "And what are we doing here?"

"We are trying to find the Doctor," I said. "Or rather, we are waiting for him. If he got my message he should be about here…"

We were standing in front of the Royal Museum. That is, the one where he had been made an official curator by Queen Elizabeth. Crowds milled about, entering and leaving as they always did. Curious looks were sent our way; if we tried to enter I already anticipated being challenged by the wary security guards.

"Are you sure he got this message?"

"Honestly? No. But I want to make sure," I replied. I scanned the crowd again. There was no telling which incarnation of the Doctor might show up.

"I don't feel comfortable standing out here like this," Esk said. "We are getting far too much attention. Are you certain you don't want me to make us invisible?"

"Quite certain," I said. "You haven't quite perfected that spell."

"I've gotten so much more practice, though!"

"Genua. Century of the Aardvark. Duchess Leniselle's Banquet."

Esk's face soured. "It wore off!"

"After a week," I retorted. "Do you realize how hard it is to go about life when you're invisible? Especially when it's your clothes that are invisible too?"

Esk huffed and crossed her arms.

"Excuse me?"

We turned to the female voice that was speaking to us. She was an elderly woman, although she appeared to have kept some of her natural brown hair without it going quite gray yet. She had on a coat and trousers that fit the brisk air.

I felt my jaw drop a bit. This… was something I hadn't expected.

"I believe you left a message with my dog," said Sarah Jane Smith. "I thought we might talk about it. I'm Sarah Jane Smith."

Esk looked at me. "Doctor?"

That caused Sarah Jane's eyes to focus on me. Intently.

Bugger. I hadn't thought of that potential complication yet. I held my hands up. "No, I'm not him, I need to see him though," I answered. "Miss Smith, the fates of entire universes are at stake here. I must find the Doctor, immediately."

I watched her face.as she looked me over quickly. "Well, I suppose you have some explanation that I could find useful. Please, if you'll follow me."

We walked away from the museum. As we moved along the road Esk looked out at the vehicles moving about. "Horseless carriages," she mused. "How novel."

"Well, they are after people stop burning fossil fuels to power them," I noted.

"You've never seen automobiles before?", Sarah Jane asked Esk.

"I have not, ma'am," she answered. "We don't have any back on the Discworld."

I admit to some amusement at that thought. Given the quantum variability field of the Discworld, there was no telling what might happen when - and given Humans and Dwarves it was very much when, not if - someone came up with the idea. And I don't count what Ridcully and the wizards did to Vimes' coaches during that whole Koom Valley affair.

Sarah Jane led us to the parking area where her car was. There was a tarp in the back compartment that was covering something… something that I fully anticipated given our circumstances.

"K-9, please come out," she called out.

K-9 emerged from under the tarp. "Yes, Mistress?:"

"This is the man who gave you that message?"

K-9 looked at me directly. The robot dog nodded. "Affirmative."

Sarah Jane nodded and looked back to me. "Well, sir, I suppose you should tell me what this is about. You say universes are in danger?"

"Yes," I replied immediately. "Terrible danger."

"And you need the Doctor to help you stop it?"

I nodded. "It's connected to Gallifrey."

She took notice of that. "You could try to wait around for a sign of him to come up."

"Pardon the pun given your history, but time is definitely not on our side here."

She looked at me with some curiosity. "I see." Sarah Jane started to think about something.

As she did, I looked to K-9 while I pulled out my TARDIS remote. "K-9, you have the TARDIS base code, right?"

"Affirmative."

"Can you transmit it into my TARDIS? I could use it to locate the Doctor."

"I am afraid that is not possible. The base code I possess requires the Doctor to directly link his TARDIS to the transmitter for interaction."

I forced myself not to sigh or groan. Of course there would be further complications. "Well, still..." I used the TARDIS remote to summon it to about four or so meters away. With a snap of my fingers I opened the door. "I could still make use of it, possibly."

"Affirmative." K-9 promptly levitated his way into my TARDIS to upload the other TARDIS base code.

Sarah Jane looked over my TARDIS. Her eyes twinkled a bit. "Well. I can see why she calls you the Doctor."

"My name was taken from me," I told her. "Everything I was had been locked away deep in my mind so I lost all prior identity. He was something I could live up to."

That won me a sympathetic look. "There are worse examples," she agreed. "So... 'Doctor'... you need to find my Doctor to deal with this threat you're speaking of?"

"Yes. Since K-9 hasn't been able to pass the message on, I was hoping you could help."

Sarah Jane shook her head. "I can't find the Doctor for you," she said. "But I think there's someone who might be able to help you."

"Ah?" I folded my arms. "You're thinking about those UNIT fellows?"

Sarah Jane shook her head at that. "No. Not UNIT. Someone else. I've only met her once or twice, but she knows things about the Doctor and his TARDIS that even I don't."

I thought about that for a moment. And then I realized just who Sarah Jane was talking about. "You think she can help me?"

"If anyone knows how to track the Doctor down at a specific point in time, it's her," Sarah Jane confirmed.

"Excuse me?" Esk looked to both of us. "Just who are you talking about? Doctor?"

I smirked. "The Doctor's wife," I answered. I nodded to Sarah Jane and offered her my hand. "A pleasure to meet you, Miss Smith. My best to you and your son."

"Thank you… sir." Sarah Jane gave me a small smile as well.

After thanking K-9 as well, I began to walk away. Esk ran up alongside. "The Doctor's wife? Who are you talking about?"

"Exactly that. His wife. Come along, Esk." I smiled thinly. "We're due at the largest library in the universe."




I spent some time getting some necessary equipment ready. When I was done I checked to make sure Esk was ready and VWORPed us to our destination. As we stepped toward the TARDIS door I looked to Esk. "You've been refining that protective field spell, right?"

"Quite a bit, yes."

"Good. Because we'll be needing it very soon." I opened the door and stepped out into a control area for a massive computer. A dormant automated figure remained still nearby. I looked about and found the ports I needed. "This will take just a moment," I said. "Have that field ready. And don't let them cut us off from the TARDIS, okay?"

Esk nodded. "What is this place?", she asked.

"The Library," I answered. "An entire planet converted into one big library. The Librarian would love to have visited, I'm sure. But the things here… they're not too nice about things like visitors. Or, well, anyone made of flesh, that is."

"I can sense something," Esk said. "There are things living here."

"Yes. Vashta Nerada. 'The Shadows that Melt the Flesh'." I ran the sonic over the port I was choosing and started hooking a device up to it. "Normally they feed off carcasses and such, lay their eggs on wood and all that. But on this planet there are no carcasses and a whole lot of paper made from wood."

"It's hard to believe their young could survive the process," Esk noted.

"Hard to believe? Sure." I turned another port into a power source for my little gadget. "But true. And they're going to want to eat us the moment they sense us, so do keep an eye out." I looked back and gave Esk my "serious business" face. She nodded in understanding and changed her grip on her staff. I returned to my work.

After I was done I stepped back and took in a breath. I let my fingers find the sonic's control button and raised it to point at the device I had applied. The sonic screwdriver whirred happily.

And the holographic access device came alive with blue and green lights. They blinked and such, the kind of thing you expect from a gadget like that, and after several moments they projected a light stream that coalesced into a single human form. A woman with long, curly blond hair, dressed in a beige suit and with a look that spoke of confidence and curiosity in equal measure. "Well… hello," she said. "And what do we have here?"

"Professor Song," I said respectfully. "My apologies. But I needed to ask you something of vital importance."

"Ah. Right to business,, are you?" River Song looked me over. I noticed her expression change when she saw the TARDIS.

"It's mine, not his," I said, hastily. "I'm… well, it's a very complicated thing, but you might say I'm a bit of a fan."

"So it seems." She eyed the sonic in my hand. "You're a Time Lord."

"Human turned Time Lord," I answered. "That's why I'm trying to…."

As we spoke I noticed the shadow showing up toward the end of the hall. It was new. And there was no light to project it.

"Doctor…", Esk remarked. She held up her staff and projected a field with it. "It's those Vashta Nerada you talked about."

Something went click in Professor Song when she heard that. I didn't react openly, not that it would have mattered either way. "You're not the Doctor," she said in a low and oh so dangerous tone. "I don't know what you're trying to do, but if you think I'm going to let you bring harm to him…"

"No! No, that's not it!", I insisted. I held my hands out. "Professor, this is an emergency. I need to find the Doctor. The fate of this universe and so many others may depend upon it…"

I looked over and saw the shadows building. If they got through Esk's shield we would have only moments to flee or we would be picked clean to the bone. That mental image was not very welcome. And Esk couldn't keep the field up forever. If I couldn't get River to work with us...

I swallowed, hard, and put my eyes back on River's. "Professor Song, please. I swear to you, I'm looking for him to get his help. I don't want any harm to befall him. But Rassilon must be stopped."

River seemed to ponder me for a moment. And then Esk, who was exerting great effort to keep the Vashta back. And then me a bit more. She took in a breath and nodded. "One moment." She flickered a moment and became completely still.

I looked back to the growing shadows pressing on Esk's field. There were more of them. And they were getting closer as Esk shrunk the field to better control it and keep any from getting through.

River started to move again. "All right," she said. "Please explain."

I did. I tried to be concise about it and make every detail crystal clear, and to do it quickly given Esk was starting to strain herself. Given River's shifting expression, I felt I was making progress. "That is why I need to see the Doctor. He is the only one who can help me. K-9 gave me his TARDIS base code but unless I can initiate a connection from my end to find him..."

"Unh." Esk's voice betrayed strain. "Doctor, I don't think you… unh… know how hard it is to make this force bubble. I can't hold it up much longer."

I nodded, although I knew she couldn't see me. I kept my eyes on River. "Please," I said. "Please help."

There was nothing for another moment. And another. A couple more painful moments passed us by.

And then River drew in a breath and looked ahead to my TARDIS. "Link your TARDIS to his. This is the best way to find the Doctor." She seemed to concentrate for a moment. "I'm loading the necessary code to remotely connect your TARDIS with the Doctor's TARDIS. You'll find it in your holo-device's memory. Combined with the base code that K-9 gave you, it should let you through."

"Thank you, Professor," I answered respectfully.

"Take care of him," River insisted, and rather fiercely to. "I'm holding you to that."

"Of course." She disappeared from sight.

I carefully removed the device from the ports on the wall. No sooner had I done so, Esk let out a cry of exhaustion and faltered. The shield wobbled further. One more failure like that and we would be claimed by the Vashta. So I grabbed onto her and pulled her toward the TARDIS.

Being grabbed and pulled jostled Esk to the point that she lost focus. The force bubble she had generated faded from existence and the Vashta rushed in.

It was… rather closer than I had imagined. The shadows of Vashta Nerada were right on my heels when I crossed the TARDIS threshold, I snapped my fingers with my free hand and the door swung closed just before the first motes of Vashta could get inside.

Esk looked up at me. She looked winded; sweaty brow, frazzled hair, that sort of thing. "That was too close," she said.

"Ah, I've had closer," I answered. "That time they were chasing me and Harry and everyone else through Undertown in Chicago. That was so much scarier." I went to the TARDIS controls and found an attachment for the device I'd plugged into the library computer. My TARDIS immediately recognized the code inside and the display screen informed me all was ready to connect my TARDIS to the other one.

"Will this really work?", Esk asked me

"Well, only one way to find out for sure," I replied. I reached for the TARDIS control. A tingle of excitement surged through me, head to toes and fingers.

I was about to meet the Doctor.

After all of this time I would actually meet the Doctor.

The questions all jostled about in my head. Would he approve? Disapprove? Would he be understanding or revolted?

Would he find me worthy?

"Doctor?" Esk looked at me. "Are you okay?"

That jolted me out of my little reverie. "Huh? Oh. Yes. Yes, quite okay. Esk, may I ask a favor of you, though?"

"Certainly," she replied.

"For now, until I have a chance to talk to the Doctor, please refrain from calling me by that title. I don't want confuse or upset him.

"Then I should call you…"

I thought on that for a moment. "Professor. Being Visiting Lecturer on Quantum Wibbly and Chair of Temporal Irritation Studies fit that title, yes?"

Esk nodded in agreement. "Yes, I suppose so."

"Excellent. And that way there is no confusion," I said happily. I took in a breath to settle myself and pulled at the lever.




We ended up on an alien world. I stepped out of the TARDIS first and saw the flora of this specific planet out a nearby window. Around us it looked like a facility of some sort. Research base, I suspect.

"Where are we now?", Esk asked.

"Not quite sure." I double-checked the coordinates with the help of the sonic. "Perseus Arm, coreward of Earth, I'd say."

"Alright."

I smiled thinly. Esk was still rather new to the whole astrography thing. "Same galaxy as Earth," I clarified. "Not that it narrows much down given how many stars are in a galaxy alone." I turned away from the window and found myself smiling.

There was a second TARDIS in the room. Looked the same as mine as well. I drew in a breath and forced my nerves to steady. My hand reached into my pocket and took out the sonic screwdriver. "Well, he has to be here somewhere," I noted. "Let's go find him."

"I have a very bad feeling about this place, Do… Professor," Esk said, catching herself in the process.

"It does look rather empty, doesn't it?", I asked. I held out the sonic and scanned. The life signs were varied. We had to look further into the facility. We followed gunmetal gray walls with occasional lit-up panels with the occasional darkened room visible through a closed port. "I wonder what went wrong?"

"Probably the same thing that happened to him," she remarked.

Nearby was a body. Or rather what was left of one after being set on fire. I wrinkled my nose at the faint smell of burnt flesh. "Former Human from the look of things," I noted.

"Gods, I hope he was already dead when they burned him," Esk remarked.

A sentiment I could agree with, certainly.

"I wonder what did this?", I mused. I bent over and scanned a nearby piece of debris from the broken garden. There were some skin cells from it that would let me find a genetic sample to confirm the species we were facing. If it was one and not some bloody maniac or maniacs with a flamethrower.

There was a faint noise in the distance. It sounded on the animalistic side. But given the pitch… "Well, that isn't concerning in the least, is it?", Esk asked rhetorically.

I checked the genetic sample. Not only did I not have a result, the genetic structure was bizarre. It was more a construct than a natural genetic sequence. I thought about that. "Looks like we're dealing with genetic engineering. Oh joy."

"That would be?"

"Someone playing with the basic building blocks of life. Imagine, for instance, if a wizard were trying to give human characteristics to a dwarf? Or a troll?"

Esk blinked at that thought. "I think I remember hearing something about that…"

"With magic, yes. They don't use magic. They take the biochemical building blocks of a living being and mix and match individual genes." I shook my head. "It has some uses, mind you. Fixing congenital conditions. That sort of thing. But it's been used badly so often I wonder about how useful it actually is."

"Right. So… you know who they are?"

"Not at all. Not yet anyway…"

There was another sound in the distance. More persistent. Someone was running. No, maybe two people. I pulled my sonic disruptor out of its harness under my jacket. "This way, come on!"

We moved at a brisk pace of our own, following a corridor toward the interior of the structure and passing more of the locked off rooms. The steps seemed to be growing louder and louder as well. We were drawing closer.

Given the direction of the other runner or runners, I turned us into an open door. We left the corridors and entered what looked to be a biochemical lab. A ransacked one, granted, with broken metal tables and beakers and such.

Interesting. But for the moment, not relevant to what we were doing.

Of course, strictly speaking, neither was the thing that nearly killed us.

The creature erupted from the metal closet where it had been hiding in ambush. I saw a figure of pinkish-brown flesh with wings spread out. Bat-wings, to be precise.

Of course. Genetic modification.

Krillitanes.

I had expected the Krillitane - identified in the half second before it attacked - to attempt to claw at us or what have you. But instead it opened its mouth and a plume of flame lashed out at us. I threw Esk to the ground in a flying leap. Heat baked the back of my head from the flame; the tips of my hairs were singed in the process. "Bugger it all... come on!" I scrambled off of Esk and got up in time to bring my sonic disruptor around. The resulting deflector screen caught a second blast of flame from the Krillitane's snouted mouth.

Esk had been dazed only momentarily by my jumping onto her back. She turned and brought her staff up. A bolt of solid energy came from it and slammed into the snout of the bat-like Krillitane. The energy expanded, covering the snout and forcing it closed, and I felt the air grow chilled as the energy hardened into a block of ice. The Krillitane tipped forward from the new weight on its snout.

"What is it?!", Esk demanded as she clambered back to her feet. The tip of her robes were on fire as well, forcing her to stamp them out.

"It's a Krillitane," I answered. "They modify themselves with the genetics of other species to take traits and capabilities they desire!"

The Krillitane glared hatred at us and lunged. I caught it with a full blast of the sonic disruptor and sent it flying into the far wall, breaking even more of the lab equipment in the process. I grabbed Esk by the arm and pulled her toward the door opposite of where we came in. We got to it just as the Krillitane stood up and started smashing the block of ice on its snout against the table top. A big, solid crack appeared in it on the first blow.

I went to work with the sonic screwdriver on the door lock. Esk was watching my back, which is why she didn't go to engage the creature again. I heard another blow, and another, and then a shattering noise; the block of ice. The Krillitane screamed rage at us and...

"There we go!" I finished my override of the door's security lock. It slid into place and latched itself shut. Not half a second later flame bathed the inside of the door. There was a solid thunk from the Krillitane throwing itself against the door. But it didn't budge.

"Let's keep going," I said. I took in a breath and pointed to our left, toward the sound of running at the periphery of my hearing.

We continued our own pursuit of the running feet. Which as now being joined by another inhuman shriek.

Another Krillitane. Brilliant.

After going out the other exit of the lab we entered the living areas of the facility. Mostly support, things like adjuncts to the mess hall and little shops with consumer goods.

By timing, we wound up in the actual mess hall just in time for a young woman to enter from the other end. Dark hair down past the shoulders (or rather further back given she was running), brown eyes, a bit short and thin. Her clothing was definitely Western, early 21st Century Earth.

In the back of my mind, I found her face in my memories. Not as someone I knew, but knew of. A name came to my mind.

Clara.

Clara Oswald.

My eyes widened and I stopped.

She saw me. Registered my presence and Esk's. But that was only for a moment. She turned and yelled, "This way!" before moving to the side of the door.

This allowed the Doctor to enter.

The Doctor. After all of this time.

My eyes went right to his face. A face I had seen in my dreams for years now. That boyish face. That chin. This was the Doctor in his Eleventh (really Twelfth) form. I believe you lot would know him as Matt Smith's Doctor. He had that bowtie - always good - and a purple suit jacket a few shades darker than my own.

I swallowed as his eyes met mine. He glanced slightly downward. Undoubtedly to see the sonic devices I held in my hands. Surprise came to his face for a moment.

Before either of us could speak, there was a cry of "Doctor, the door!"

Clara had to say it. I can't blame her for saying it. It was the smart thing to do at the time given, well, you'll see.

No, the blame lies with me and me alone for my immediate, instinctive reply of "Getting it!"

Just as the Doctor said the same thing. Further surprise came to his face upon realizing what I said.

It was not the meeting I had been hoping for, I can say that.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-15 11:07am

So... yes. I gave myself away. What can I say? I've gone by the name for years. My mind was entirely wrapped up in trying to figure out what I was going to say to the Doctor. How I would explain. That was where all of my forethought was focused. Everything else was running on automatic.

The look on his face said it all. Surprise. Bewilderment. Suspicion. After all, he was out of regenerations; I couldn't be a future version of him. Or so he thought, anyway. Clearly I was an imposter. Which wasn't something entirely unique, admittedly, but it usually meant trouble.

Oh. Right. Trouble. Like the kind we were still in.

The Doctor and Clara were being chased, after all. Hence the running.

I saw something move behind him. I jumped forward. "Get down!" I brought the sonic disruptor upward as the creature stuck its head through the door.

I got the deflector field up right in time to avoid ending up crispified.

There was a loud, inhuman shriek. A plume of flame erupted from the mouth of the Krillitane now at the door. The flames met my deflector and flowed around it. I moved toward the creature while the heat of the flames came around the deflector and started baking me. "Get back!", I shouted, to them and to it, as I drew closer and the flames licked ever closer to me. "Esk! A hand!"

I was in just the right range for Esk to help me throw the thing out. She effortlessly conjured another field to catch the flames, a flat one that kept the flames from continuing to singe my hair. I swapped to setting 4 and triggered a kinetic charge that blasted the creature out of the door. I turned my head and saw the Doctor already at the controls, his green light-tipped sonic screwdriver whirring away. The door slid shut before the creature could recover.

Looking at it through the clear portal of the door, I watched it continue to belch flame at us until it had to stop. Presumably an issue of fuel for the fire. "Why did it have to be Krillitanes?!", I blurted out. "Seriously… they breathe fire now! That's just unfair!"

"It's a new modification they've added and it's a nasty one," the Doctor said. His eyes remain focused on me. "So, sonic technology and weaponry, Time Lord reaction times… who are you?"

I knew I had to be careful in how I replied. "Someone who needs your help, Doctor," I answered. Best to appeal to his best instincts.

That drew a curious look from him. "Really? You look like you can handle yourself, and your friend is…"

"Might I suggest we lock the other door first?", Esk pointed out. "Before these creatures come in that way?"

"Good idea," Clara agreed.

I nodded and went over to said door. WIth my sonic out and whirring it took me only a few seconds to trigger the door's secured close mode. We would be safe inside. At least for the moment.

"Purple?" The Doctor looked at my sonic and held his own up. The two were about the same size. Mine didn't have the "claw" thing at the end though. just a solid light diode.

"My favorite color," I answered.

"Obviously." The Doctor crossed his arms. "Now. Explanations, please?"

I nodded. "Right. I need your help to stop Rassilon from destroying the Multiverse."

That got his attention. Quite strongly. "Rassilon?", he asked. He sounded incredulous. And concerned.

"Yes. He's… he did this to me," I said. "He made me a Time Lord for some plan. I'm not sure what he was doing, but I know it involved sending me out into the Multiverse with a TARDIS that could shift to other sixth-dimensional coordinates."

I had expected that to be questioned. But the Doctor didn't seem to be phased by any of it. He went right to business. "It can't just be the Time Lock," the Doctor observed. A look came over his face. I drew in a breath; was this before or after he knew that he had saved Gallifrey? Had I just messed up his future timestream? "It's something else, something more." He looked me in the eye. I knew I was being judged and that everything relied upon what I said here and now.

A decision was clearly made. "You answer to my name," the Doctor noted. "So let's start with that. What is your name?"

I answered him. My Human name first. I noticed Esk paying attention. That was no surprise. I already knew she would learn it.

"And you decided to just… use my name?" He frowned at me. "Let me guess. Act of melodrama, hrm? Claiming you're me just to sound cool."

I winced. He had me pegged. "Yes, at first," I admitted. "Then I wanted to live up to it. To your example, to the promise you made. And after that, the block in my mind started doing its nasty work. I couldn't remember my own name. And then the family and friends I had as a Human. It was all taken from me."

"And so all you had left was my name." The Doctor's disapproval was evident. "And so you thought you could be me."

I almost denied it. But I couldn't. Thinking back, I had so very much wanted to be him. The charge was accurate.

"Now look at where that's gotten you." The Doctor was keeping his arms crossed. It gave him a sterner look than his usual manic giddy boy routine. His eyes went down toward the sonic disruptor in my hand. "And of course you can't help but see that fancy Time Lord technology and think of using it as a weapon."

That stung. It stung enough that I defended myself. "This isn't a weapon," I retorted. And there was real heat in my voice, both in defense of the sonic disruptor and of the fact that the charge wasn't actually wrong. My mind slipped to that armory within my TARDIS.

"You altered the sonic technology to increase energy capacity," the Doctor remarked. "No need to do that unless you're looking for brute force."

"Or maybe I wanted to save the sonic for precision work, like it's meant to be used." I held up the sonic disruptor. "This is a tool. If you think this is a weapon because of how it might get used then the same applies to the sonic screwdriver. And just about every other tool in existence, come to think of it."

"Excuse me." Clara stepped in. "But I would like to remind everyone that we're surrounded by fire-breathing bat people who want to kill us!" She looked at the Doctor.

He looked ready to disagree but thought better of it, replying, "Good point. She's got a good point."

"Yes, she does," I agreed.

I looked about. The Krillitanes were at both doors now. And they were clearly trying to burn their way through, although it was plainly evident they couldn't. I mean, it was so evident that even they would have to… know…

"Look at that," the Doctor said. "They know it won't work, so why…?"

"...are they still trying to burn their way through?" My brow furrowed. "They're just wasting fuel, unless…"

"...they're doing it to distract us," the Doctor finished, clearly satisfied to have the last word.

"I think that's rather obvious now…"

We turned to Esk, who was staring up at the ceiling. The metal there was starting to faintly glow red and orange.

Oh. Of course.

"Doctor, might I suggest we continue this conversation elsewhere?" I reached into my pocket for the remote to the TARDIS.

Before I could retrieve it flame shot down near Esk. She stumbled backward into us while a Krillitane jumped down. In this close proximity the claws of the creature was as lethal as the fire it could breathe. Flames flickered from its mouth as it orientated on me.

I didn't have time to get the TARDIS summoned. I brought up the sonic disruptor and used the deflector setting to generate a shield, again catching the flames before they could roast us all. After a moment the flames let off. The Krillitane had exhausted its fuel supply for the moment. It couldn't set us on fire for a while.

Of course, it could still slice us to tiny bits with its claws. So our situation hadn't improved that greatly.

Esk extended her hand. Octarine light lashed out and enveloped the Krillitane. It froze in place. Given the warped feeling I got from it… Esk had actually frozen it in time. Brilliant.

The Doctor looked at her in completely surprise. "How did you do that?"

Esk smiled widely at him. "I'm a wizard. It's what we do."

"She grew up in a world surrounded by a powerful quantum variability field," I explained. "And she has the ability to utilize the same."

The Doctor blinked and looked at me. "You mean she can do magic. She has magic."

"That's what we call it," Esk answered. "He's the one always going on about quantum variability fields."

"It's what they are!", I answered defensively.

"It's semantics," the Doctor pointed out. "The stuff is magic. And you should know how unreliable and dangerous such…"

Before our discussion could continue, another Krillitane descended from the ceiling. And a second was coming up to the exit.

"We should get out of here," Clara said.

"Good idea." The Doctor looked at me. "If you can protect me while I…"

"...open the door? Certainly." I didn't have time to make any snarky comment about how my sonic disruptor was going to save all of our lives and was a tool. I think I managed some smugness that this time I got in the last word, though.

Anyway, there was no time for that. I had to get it into position to stop a slash from the claw of the attacking Krillitane. I used a kinetic burst to drive it back. I applied a narrow-beam high frequency sonic disruptor beam to the second Krillitane. But just because they looked bat-like didn't mean they were bats; the Krillitane didn't seem too phased by it. I mean, it staggered backward, but I had used the same attack to utterly disorientate Red Court vampires before.

Esk had only so much strength in her for powerful magic and she had used up good chunk of that already. She turned to a lesser use of her abilities, making the ground under the Krillitanes slick with a light oil. The first one, recovering from my kinetic burst, tripped.

A fourth Krillitane came through the ceiling now. This one decided he - or she I suppose - was no longer planning to play around. The moment the creature landed flame erupted from its snouted mouth. Esk barely got her shield up in time to stop it.

The other two moving attackers created their own, forcing me to move up and block them with my sonic disruptor's deflector setting. Flames again roared in my vision and the heat, even with the deflector, was suffocating. It felt like I would bake. "We can't keep this up forever!", I yelled back.

"I've almost got it."

"What's taking so long? The security permissions aren't that complicated!"

"I modified them with a rotating cypher key, it changes every other second."

"Oh. That's… well, that would be more impressive if it wasn't going to get us fried to death!"

"Hold on, almost there… Clara, the door!"

Clara pulled at the door and, with effort, it slid open. "Out! Everyone out!", the Doctor called.

Esk and I backed up side by side to the door. She went first and our fields overlapped, blocking more of the heat. Which was fine by me, as I felt like I had sunburn. The pure heat of the Krillitane flames had been unbearable.

Once I stepped past the door the Doctor's sonic screwdriver whirred and the door slid closed, blocking off the flames of the Krillitanes. "So, what were you two up to?", I asked. "With the Krillitanes, I mean?"

"It was the usual sort of trip for the Doctor," Clara noted. "We were supposed to be going to some tourist trap planet in the 35th Century…"

"Unexpected visits, they happen," the Doctor noted. He looked from Clara to me. "The Krillitanes are here for genetic samples. This is a repository for several different species."

"Ah." I nodded. "So, we need to stop them from getting those samples?"

The Doctor shook his head. "No, I already handled that. What we need to do…" He was clearly noticing something past me. "...is run."

I turned back just long enough to see the Krillitanes coming down the far corridor. The four of us began to run the other way, toward the outside of the structure. That was the right way to go anyway - our TARDISes were that way - so there was no loss for us in the matter. Esk sought to buy us time by using magic to leave another slick of oil behind us. I could hear the screeching of falling Krillitanes behind us.

"Woh, wrong way!", the Doctor shouted. He made a right turn instead of the left turn he had started to make. When I got to the hall in question a quick glance told me why; another pair of Krillitanes were converging on us from that direction. Esk pointed her staff toward the floor below them and with an effort of will generated an ice slick that they ran into at full speed. The results were expected; a tangle of wings and limbs..

With the Doctor in the lead, we continued down the next series of halls, passing by quarters and labs and janitorial closets, the works. The shrieks of the Krillitanes echoed around us from, it seemed, all directions. But they never quite managed to cut us off.

"Do you know the way to get back to the TARDIS?", Clara asked him.

"Um… this way, I think," he said, taking a turn to the right. We followed to keep the group together.

It turned out to be a detour, frankly, but at least we evaded more of the Krillitanes in the process.

"Here we are!", the Doctor crowed. Ahead of us was a door. I could see one of the TARDISes beyond it. "See, I knew where we were going the whole time!"

We rushed into the room. And stopped at the door.

There was a Krillitane with us, on the other side of the room at the door. He or she or it or whatever had gotten clever and gone the long way around. It stood in the middle of the room, stacks of papers and other detritus around the TARDISes to block our way… and most soaked from the amber-colored contents of what was presumably the can the Krillitane was tossing to the side.

And I could swear there was a sneer on that snouted face in the moments before it breathed fire all over the room.

Everything in the room caught fire. Everything. The flames were licking at the ceiling. Even here, at this distance, I thought I was getting singed. We would get roasted if we tried to force our way through.

There were shrieks behind us. The Krillitanes appeared further down the gray hall. We were trapped.

"Doctor!" Clara looked at him. "What are we going to do?"

"I'm thinking, all right!", he insisted. "I'm thinking…" He turned his head toward me. An idea had popped into his head. I'm pretty sure I knew what idea it was too.

It was the one I was about to do.

I held the sonic disruptor toward the flames and activated good old Setting 4HD (Harry never did find out I named it for him…). The resulting kinetic pulses were perfectly modulated to stamping out fires. As if you were dumping salt or earth on them. The flames receded as I swept the disruptor from left to right, clearing a path for us to the TARDISes.

The Krillitane who had set the flames shrieked in rage. It prepared to blow fire at us directly before it was enveloped in a bolt of octarine light, courtesy of Esk. It froze in place.

I got us to a central location between the two TARDISes and spun the disruptor about to clear the flames from our vicinity. Instead of being baked, we were simply getting tanned.

I could have left it at that. But given our earlier discussion, this time I couldn't help myself. I held up the sonic disruptor to the Doctor's face. "Tool," I said, quite emphatically.

The Doctor's expression implied a bit of, I don't know, grudging respect maybe. "Your TARDIS is linked to mine now, yes?"

"Yes."

"Um… we should probably go," Clara pointed out. The Krillitanes behind us were in pursuit, shrieking and quite ready to burn us alive or rip us apart, whichever pleased them the most.

"Follow, then." The Doctor unlocked his TARDIS. "This way Clara!"

"Esk!" I unlocked my TARDIS as well. She charged in behind me and slammed the door closed just as the first Krillitane started to breathe fire at us. I ran to the TARDIS controls and confirmed the link to the Doctor's TARDIS. Where and when he VWORPed, we would follow, or so was what I set up anyway.

Granted, I hadn't expected the Doctor's TARDIS to materialize inside mine.

Or, more accurately, for mine to materialize around his.

But that is what happened. It appeared beside the opening leading to my library/swimming pool. Esk stared at it. "How did he…"

"Very carefully," I answered.

The door opened and the Doctor stepped out with Clara. He was taking the moment to straighten his bowtie. I found I was doing the same with my tie. He looked my TARDIS control room over. His eyes met the wall with all of the pictures and drawings and moved on to the shelving where I kept some of my little mementos of failures and misadventures. "Interesting," he murmured. He and Clara walked side-by-side down to Esk and myself. "Looks like a standard TARDIS, nice theme for the control room. I'm surprised it's not purple."

"Well, I can't make everything purple," I replied.

"Okay." Clara held a hand up. "I'd like to go over this again."

"Certainly," I answered.

"You're also called the Doctor," she asked. "But you're not the same as him." She held a hand toward the Doctor. "And you have a Human name."

"I was once Human," I answered. "Then Rassilon opened a hole in space-time and made a quantum duplicate - me - and turned that duplicate into a Time Lord. I woke up on a space station with no memory of how I got there."

"Oh." Clara nodded. "Well, that's a lot to take in. What are you doing here? This Rassilon, isn't he one of the Time Lords?"

"He's the leader of the Time Lords," the Doctor replied. "And he's gone completely mad. Whatever he has this man doing, it's bad news."

"I'm still determining the process, but I believe it may have something to do with the Cracks that have been appearing between this cosmos and those I have traveled through," I replied.

The Doctor looked intently at me. "Cracks, you say? Cracks in the Universe?"

"Well, Multiverse, yes."

"And they all link to this particular location in sixth-dimensional space-time?"

"That they do." The Doctor walked around me and inspected my TARDIS controls. He ran the sonic over them, undoubtedly to learn more about it. I turned to follow and continued.

"Hrm. I see you've got quite the setup. Looks like a modified Type 40. Much like my own." He turned toward me and asked, "Tell me everything. And I do mean everything. Nothing left out."

I nodded. After taking a breath I began to go into the details. All of them. I told him about my beginnings. About Jan and Cami. About how I lost my memory.

And I told him about Katherine. The Time Lord Triumphant and what came afterward. The invasions of the other races of his cosmos into the ones I traveled in.

I watched his reactions - and Clara's - to my tale. About the highs and lows. My mistakes. And where I had succeeded. I saw a variety of emotions showing. Bewilderment. Discontent. Outright irritation when my antics deserved such. A deep frown when the Time Lord Triumphant's rise was described. Interest in how I had to face his usual foes.

"And you stopped them all?" He nodded. "That's rather good to hear."

"Yes." I dwelt briefly on those desperate fights.

Unburdening myself to the Doctor felt strange. But it felt right. He deserved to know this. I had used his name after all.

He was particularly perturbed to hear me discuss the Master and what he attempted.

As I finished my story, I found myself gripped by uncertainty. How would he react? How would the Doctor judge me?

Everything in my future, maybe everyone's future, was riding on what the Doctor decided.

No pressure, eh?

His eyes were sad when he finally looked at me. "You shouldn't have done that," he said simply.

I nodded. "I know."

"I'm not a role model," he insisted. He was in pure scolding mode at this point. "I'm not someone to live up to. How could you want to be me? To have my life? That was foolish. You were being a fool."

I replied to that with another nod. "It was an act of melodrama followed by a desire to emulate you. And then it all.. well, it went wrong. And by the time I realized that, the name was so… it had become what I was. I tried to live without it, for months, but I went back to it. It was what I had become, who I had become. And… well." I took a moment to think on how to put my next sentence. "Using your name, making myself think like you, act like you… I became you, in so many words."

The Doctor nodded. He drew in a breath. "And I wish you hadn't."

I breathed in. I had been worried he would not react well. It was… disappointing, I suppose. I had hoped I could persuade him to see my good intents, to see what I had done. But he was right. I had been a fool to take his name. Now I just had to hope he would agree to work with me.

That was when I noticed that, for the first time, a small smile had cracked across his rigid and thoughtful expression.

"An entire galaxy," he said. "You spent your regenerations to heal an entire galaxy."

I nodded. It was still one of my proudest moments.

He answered that with a nod of his own. "Good job," he said. His voice was low, but no longer evincing disapproval or sadness. "That was good."

"Thank you."

"You've made mistakes," he continued. "Horrible ones. Alright. I've been there. We all make mistakes. Just so long as you learn from them, right?" He looked at me intently, seeking the right answer.

I answered with a nod. "Yes. Yes, we must learn from them. Though it is often a harsh lesson."

"Yes, it is." The Doctor looked into my eyes at that point. He was studying me. Carefully. Closely. I felt like he was seeking out the slightest imperfection, the slightest flaw, that had yet to reach his attention. "Well." He spent a moment, allowing that word to hang between us. "That answers my immediate questions. Now we move on to business."

"So Rassilon made you a Time Lord." Clara held a hand toward the TARDIS. "He gave you this TARDIS and sent you out to travel these other dimensions? Why?"

"It has to do with the Cracks. That I'm sure of." I went over to the display and showed what K-9's scans had revealed to me. "Look at that."

"Tethers. Energy conduits," the Doctor noted. "To support a cross-dimensional tunnel of great proportion. Rooted in this sixth-dimensional location - 'cosmos', as you call it - and connecting to this other location."

"My home Earth," I clarified.

"Yes. Metaphysically solid." The Doctor shook his head. "Whatever he is planning, it's not good. All of that energy…"

"I've seen visions," I said. "An associate who can view potential futures. She showed me energy erupting from the Cracks. Wiping out whole worlds. Whole galaxies, in some cases."

"Right." The Doctor nodded. His jaw set. "I can see that. And whatever he's doing, the backlash from it will probably wreck this entire universe in the process."

I swallowed. I hadn't thought about that entirely. But it made sense. "The Daleks thought that would happen. They called me 'the Destroyer.' Thought it was my fault."

"Well, that's the Daleks," the Doctor opined. "They didn't have the whole picture, just a piece of it. And they were probably jealous that they weren't the ones who are threatening to rip apart reality."

Esk held up a hand to get our attention. "This conversation has been quite interesting. But it's clear we need to start working on this. So what do we do next, Doctor..s?" She caught herself toward the end there. Suddenly having to refer to us in plural was novel, I suppose.

"We do something I didn't think was possible," the Doctor answered her. He looked at me. I knew what he was about to say and I nodded in agreement even before he said it for the benefit of the others. "We find out how to access Gallifrey in its pocket universe and we put a stop to Rassilon's plot."

"Well, that doesn't sound hard at all," Clara remarked, smirking. She was being sarcastic of course, but in a good way.

"Oh, it'll probably be a bit difficult," the Doctor replied, amused at her.

"Quite," I agreed. "Definitely the work of… what, a day?"

"Hrm." The Doctor's grin widened into sheer confidence. That confidence made my own grow. A task that seemed impossible, but looking at the Doctor I knew that it was hardly impossible. I knew we would make it work.

Was this how I had made my Companions feel when I grinned the same way?

The Doctor gave his reply to my question. "Maybe half. Certainly less than a day with the two of us."

Esk grinned at us and looked to Clara, who was starting to grin too. "You have a plan," she said to, well, us maybe. Definitely the Doctor. I was getting something of an idea myself now that I was thinking about it.

"Of course." The Doctor nodded at me. "Let's go inspect your engine room, shall we?"

"Of course. Right this way, Doctor," I replied.

I felt a profound thrill. The Doctor was here. He was going to help.

I knew it wasn't over yet, but I couldn't help it. The two of us, working together? I knew we could beat Rassilon. I knew it.

We had to get to him first, though.




Allow me a moment to try and express my giddiness.

I was working with the Doctor.

I was working with the Doctor.

There. I think that about does it. I mean, I managed to avoid squeeing or something like that.

Barely.

Anyway, the Doctor and I went off toward the engine room. "Well, the library looks nice," he said to me. "And the swimming pool."

"Thank you. I should think you'd like the hot tub."

He gave me a look. "Hot tub? You've got a hot tub?!"

I smiled and nodded. "It's good for the bruises. Especially when you've fallen off a skyscraper."

"So unfair," the Doctor sighed. "Wait. A skyscraper?"

"Yes. Had a powerful quantum-locked entity wrecking a city. I fell off the skyscraper. Rough landing."

"Yes. I imagine it was." We walked beyond the next room. "Is that… you have a garden in here?"

"Certainly," I answered.

"Interesting idea," he mused.

"I thought so. Plus it has had other uses."

I received a nod in reply. We continued on our way to the engine room. He briefly glanced at my TARDIS' Eye of Harmony but said nothing about it. Looking back, he asked, "So… isn't the door supposed to be here?"

"It is," I replied.

"Oh?" He concentrated a moment. A laugh came from him. "Oh, ha! Yes. Misdirection circuit. Rassilon didn't want you in there."

"No, he did not," I replied.

"You beat the circuit?"

"And the compulsion not to challenge it," I answered. "Took me a bit, though."

"Yes." He gestured onward. "After you, sir. She's your TARDIS, after all."

"Thank you, Doctor." I stepped ahead of him and opened the door to the engine room.

Inside we made our way to the device Rassilon had placed on it. "Well, this looks interesting, doesn't it?", the Doctor asked. "Trans-dimensional beacon, certainly."

I nodded in agreement. "And tied into the TARDIS systems to record what I've been doing."

"Probably uses a subspace data transmitter to enhance the data flow."

"Are you sure? Wouldn't it be better to piggyback a data feed along the beacon's trans-dimensional signal?"

The Doctor shook his head. "No, too much signal loss."

I furrowed my brow as I considered the issue. "But a subspace data transmitter would run too much risk of corrupting the data in the stream… unless…"

"....you jacket the stream with a quantum sheath field from a secondary transmission system specifically keyed to…"

"...a transdimensional channel tuned to the energy states of the interdimensional tunnel, as is formed by the Cracks!" I grinned widely. "Of course, why didn't I think about that?!"

The Doctor smiled back. "Oh, it's an easy thing to dismiss. The transmission system is both complex and delicate, Rassilon put a lot of effort into making it work as well as it does."

"Brilliant!", I shouted. "And this means that if we attach a signal tracer tuned to the transdimensional channel…."

"...we can determine the exact location of Gallifrey in relation to the interdimensional tunnel."

"Yes!" I laughed. "And here we are, finishing each others sentences."

The Doctor nodded at me. "Great minds, that sort of thing."

"Yes, I suppose. So, I'll handle isolating the channel if you…"

"...assemble the tracer from some parts I have lying around," the Doctor finished. "And we'll be on our way in no time!"

"Ha!" I brought a hand up out of enthusiasm. "Let's go, eh?"

The Doctor gave my hand a look. He shook his head. "What… what's this?"

"Hrm?" I wiggled my hand. "High-five? That sort of thing?"

"No. No, I don't… I don't do that sort of thing."

"Oh." I shrugged a little and started to lower my hand…

...and he promptly slapped his palm to mine, a wide grin on his face. "Ha! Fell for that one didn't you!" The Doctor clapped me on the shoulder. "Alright, let's get to work!"

I laughed back and gave him a shoulder clap. "Let's! Gallifrey awaits!"




We worked intently over the next hours. Isolating a specific transdimensional channel is trickier than you lot might think, you must understand. I was still only partially done when the Doctor returned from my material stores and his with the tracer. He finished assembling it while we exchanged advice and observations on our work.

And maybe we raced each other. A bit. Just a bit.

….okay, maybe he crowed a bit when he finished the tracer first. But it was just in the excitement of the moment, mind you!

While I hastened to finish my work, he attached the tracer to Rassilon's device. It was tricky work to avoid any countermeasures Rassilon might have placed upon it. "So," he said suddenly, "quite an interesting lot you've dealt with over your travels, I hear."

"I would say so, yes," I answered. "Ancient genocidal AIs. Extradimensional mental parasites. Hive mind bunnycats who used to channel energy from driving adolescent Human girls mad with despair. And an extradimensional entity shaped like a triangle, of all things."

"Sounds quite interesting," the Doctor replied. "You've been busy."

"Yes. And that doesn't count all of the entities and species from your cosmos that came through the Cracks," I said.

"Yes, you said that before."

"Had some interesting adventures there as well. And I caused some confusion with them whenever they heard my, that is, your name."

The Doctor chuckled. "Oh, I can imagine."

"The Sontarans were particularly perturbed," I pointed out. "And the Zygons never saw it coming."

"Zygons, eh? I'm guessing it was one of the splinter factions after the loss of their homeworld?"

"Given how aggressive they were? Yes. They tried to bond themselves to normally-sentient gemstones to improve their shapeshifting and gain the other abilities of the Gem species. Put a stop to that, I did."

"Sentient Gems, you say? Sounds like the other sixth-dimensional locales have a lot of interesting things to them." The Doctor went quiet for a moment - presumably focused on work - before asking, "What about the Cybermen? They've been a bother as of late."

"They tried to conquer a cosmos in the 31st Century Human Western calendar," I replied. "There was a faction there who made willing cyber-converts, a bunch of crazy human technology worshipers called the Word of Blake. I put a stop to it, of course. It was a cosmos I had some good memories in, couldn't let them ruin it." As I said that my voice faltered a bit. I found myself thinking about Katherine.

The Doctor caught that, of course. "Let me guess. The home cosmos of the Companion you lost."

"Yes," I answered simply. "Katherine."

"It'll always hurt," the Doctor admitted. He stopped working for a moment and looked back at me. Our eyes met. "I… don't blame you for how you felt. What you did was wrong. But I'm not sure I would have done any better in that situation."

I nodded in reply. And thanks.

We left each other to finishing our work.




Clara and Esk were back in the control room as we finished up. Clara was looking over my little wall with all of the drawings and such on them. "He seems to be popular with the children," Clara noted.

Esk nodded. "He likes to be a crazy uncle," she answered. "And they love him for it."

Clara smiled at that. "My Doctor can be that way. Sometimes." She reached for the amethyst necklace. "And this is…"

"Katherine's," Esk answered simply.

Clara pulled her hand away. "Right." She nodded. "The Companion he lost." For a moment she continued looking over the pictures. "He's not actually the Doctor. I mean, I don't see my Doctor having these sort of shrines on his TARDIS. He has that perfect memory, he wouldn't need it."

"Or he doesn't want a visual reminder of the things he's left behind him," Esk pointed out. "Your Doctor is a lot older than mine." Esk looked back to the wall. "It's easy for him to have these things now. But what happens when he's exhausted the time he can spend with these people? After a few more centuries, maybe he'll be just like your Doctor…"

"Probably." Clara must have been thinking about what bits of memory she had from all of those lifetimes spent with the Doctor in all of his lives, undoing the damage inflicted by the Great Intelligence.

At this point, she evidently chose to change the subject. "And what about you, Eskarina?"

"What about me?" Esk laughed. "The Doctor, my Doctor, loves to be cryptic about it. He talks about 'spoilers'."

"Oh?" Clara grinned. "He must have met your future self, then."

"Likely," Esk answered. "Given we're both time travelers."

"Oh?" That won Clara's interest. "Really? You have a time machine?"

"Not quite," Esk replied. "It's an effect peculiar to the world I come from."

"That 'magic' you do," Clara said. "That's what it is?"

"Yes," Esk answered. "I can use it to shift myself through time. I'm still working out the kinks, though."

"Well, I can imagine how that might be a problem," Clara answered. "Good luck with that. It's rather…"

At that point she stopped speaking, given the Doctor and I were coming back to the control room. "But the hyperdimensional drift," I asked. "We're going to have to account for that too."

"It won't be hard," the Doctor answered me. "I've got the calculations we used to shift Gallifrey stored in my TARDIS."

"But aren't they only about ninety percent complete?"

"Ninety-two point one percent," the Doctor corrected, sounding jovial as he skipped around to his TARDIS' door. "But that should be sufficient for our purposes. The tracer will supply the necessary gap in our data."

"It's still going to be quite tricky," I reminded him.

"Of course." He smirked. "That's part of the fun, isn't it?"

Oh, he had me there. "That it is."

"What?", asked Clara.

"Gallifrey's pocket universe," Esk answered her. "The Doctors have to account for hyperdimensional drift moving it off of the coordinates their systems establish. The drift can be extremely short in scale and will make it hard, if not impossible, to accurately fix ourselves to Gallifrey's location."

"Ha!", the Doctor shouted. "Not impossible at all, Miss Smith. Just extremely hard!"

"Oh, well, so long as it's only hard," Clara answered. "I'd hate for it to be impossible."

"Impossible is for Thursdays," the Doctor answered. "This is a Tuesday!"

"Tuesdays are interuniversal crises for me," I answered. "So far, this fits." I moved away from the door to the Doctor's TARDIS and toward my own controls. "I'm getting telemetry from our tracer."

"Good!", the Doctor called from his TARDIS. "I'm relaying the calculations to you now!"

Said calculations showed up on the monitor as I swiveled it over to my position. They provided me with critical data I needed to augment the results of the tracer we were running on Rassilon's gear. I had partially re-activated it. Of course, that had its own drawbacks.

Namely, Rassilon would know we were coming.

Oh, Rassilon wouldn't see everything we were doing, but the very fact we were keeping him blind would undoubtedly alert him to what was happening. And it wouldn't be hard for him to figure the rest out. He would know the Doctor and I were coming and would prepare accordingly.

So the Doctor and I had prepared as well.

"I've got coordinates!", I crowed. "Ready when you are, Doctor!"

"Right!" The Doctor poked his head out of the TARDIS. "I've been waiting to try this. On my mark!"

"Ready!"

He returned to his controls. I couldn't see him start working for obvious reasons; I was busy maintaining our fix on Gallifrey's location in the interdimensional spaces, linked to our's by the tunnel Rassilon had created. As soon as the Doctor was ready…

"Eskarina, Clara, in here!", the Doctor cried out.

"Go!", I added, briefly looking at Esk. She nodded and joined Clara in entering the Doctor's TARDIS. I was alone.

More moments passed by. I kept the fix I needed. All I was waiting for was the Doctor's sign.

It didn't take long to come.

"Geronimo!"

I pulled back my activation lever and added my affirmation. "Tally ho!"

VWORP VWORP VWORP

My TARDIS shuddered and shook slightly as I propelled her into the interdimensional spaces along the tunnel between my home cosmos and the Doctor's cosmos. Energy buffeted all around us and threatened to throw the TARDIS off course. But that wouldn't happen. I knew her. I knew how to fly her now. She was more than a match for this.

Slowly a more normal space-time began to form about us. A pocket universe hidden away in the ether between the dimensions.

On my screen, dark starless space began to replace the rippling golds and blues and greens of the interdimensional tunnel. A familiar planet, brown and red in appearance, faded into view as the tunnel's colors faded out.

My hearts skipped a beat.

We had done it. We had arrived.

Gallifrey.

….of course, this meant we were likely to be detected. It would have been impossible to avoid detection coming in. And that meant Rassilon was going to act.

My TARDIS shuddered as a capture beam lashed out from the planet's surface and seized her right where she finished emerging from the interdimensional tunnel. I had been given no chance to avoid this. Just as the Doctor and I suspected would happen.

We had less than a second before we would be captured.

Half a second before it was too late, I felt energy surround me and whisk me away.

My control room was gone. The Doctor's TARDIS control room was now surrounding me. His TARDIS was also VWORPing now. "Stealth circuits engaged," he said to me. "Well done."

"Just in the nick of time," I said back.

"Rassilon will suspect something, of course," the Doctor pointed out. "So let's not disappoint him!"

I nodded in agreement. No, I wouldn't disappoint him. It was time to confront him. Time to face the man who duplicated me and did all of this to me, who made me his pawn, and who even now risked the existence of my home world and every world I had come to love in my travels.

And most importantly, it was time to end whatever he was planning, before he caused more suffering.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Post by Steve » 2017-07-16 09:27am

The Doctor's TARDIS landed on the outskirts of the main capital city of Gallifrey. We stood at the door to it to look outside. It was somewhat surprising to see how much of the environment looked to be arid wasteland. The handiwork of the Daleks, possibly. The mood of the place wasn't helped by how dark it was; aside from light from the city the sky was pitch black. No sun, after all. And no stars. Or even moon.

Tents were gathered about the base of the capital. The Doctor pointed to them. "They're still rebuilding from the Daleks," he noted.

"Well, it does give us refugees to blend in with," I noted. "but we're not exactly dressed in the local fashions."

"Your friend Esk is close enough," the Doctor noted. "As for us…" He went back into the TARDIS and went below the controls. When he came back up, he had faded brown cloth rolled up in his arms. He tossed one piece to Clara and another to me. I let it unfold, revealing a cloak. "Some Leemavin pilgrim cloaks," the Doctor noted. "Just the right about of raggedness and poor quality to pass muster, I say."

I forced myself not to gag at the stench on the cloak. "Right," I said hoarsely before laying it over my jacket. Oh, Edna would be so upset to know what I was subjecting her masterpiece work to.

"We don't have much time," the Doctor noted. "Rassilon will realize we're still here soon enough. We'd better get going."

"So, where are we going?", Clara asked.

"Presumably, to that," Esk answered for us, pointing up.

We looked upward. Above the city there was some sort of array, sticking out of the main central structures. It was pointed skyward and already seemed to be crackling with energy that lit up the sunless sky. "Well, that looks impressive," Clara remarked dryly.

"It looks like bad news," I remarked.

"Quite bad," the Doctor agreed. "Let's get going."

We started walking over that rough, rocky ground, our way illuminated only by the silhouettes created around us from the distant lights of the city. As we walked nothing was said. There was nothing to say right now. Not yet.

Toward the end of the long walk we were entering the refugee settlement. Occasionally there was an armed guard, in the red armor of the Gallifreyan military with what looked to be a slug-shooter rifle. The Doctor's sole reaction to them was to warn they were dangerous. Presumably Rassilon's subordinates then, willing or otherwise.

The people in the camp… well, I had seen war refugees before, and they fit the same. Hungry, tired, lost. Desperation in all eyes, some tinged with defiant hope and others with pitiful despair. That wasn't new.

But to see this here? Even here, on Gallifrey? On the homeworld of one of the greatest species in all of Creation?

I could see the anger in the Doctor's eyes. In his posture. It took only a moment to realize just how deeply this wounded him. He had saved these people, he had found a way to spare them destruction without risking the Daleks burning the universe, but the suffering of the war continued.

And given the crackling array above us, it wasn't hard to guess who was responsible. All of the resources put into that device. Into the energy needed to, well, to create me, to turn me into a Time Lord, to build the specialized dimension-traveling TARDIS I had been left with.

Not only was Rassilon dooming many worlds and places with his ambitions, he was also prolonging the suffering of his own people.

Another thing he would have to answer for.

We ran into our first difficulties at one of the entrance gates to the city. It was manned by military personnel and it was evident that they were keeping it blocked off. They certainly wouldn't let us in the way we looked, with or without the stinking pilgrim cloaks. "So, what now?", I asked the Doctor.

"I'm thinking." He took in a breath and looked about. "Hrm. There's a grate over that way - to my right - that leads to the underground. But that would mean going through the Cloisters. Not exactly a safe route."

"Any other options?", Clara asked. "Because I think I've lost my sense of smell since putting this thing on."

"Oh, it's not that bad, you should have seen - or rather smelled - the fellows I got them from," the Doctor noted. He kept looking around. "Hrm. A window facing outward from that structure. We could climb up to it."

"I don't like it," I said. "Too open. We'll be seen."

"Alright." The Doctor nodded and looked back at me. "And what are your ideas?"

I contemplated the issue for a moment. A grin came to my face and I turned to Esk. "Esk, what was that you said earlier about your invisibility spell?"

Esk gave me a look. "Oh. You want to use it now," she said, arms crossed and smile sardonic.

"Invisibility spell?", the Doctor asked, sounding rather disbelieving. "You're kidding, aren't you?"

"Oh, not at all. It works rather well. Too well, given what happened last time."

"Oh, I've handled that," she protested. "The formula lacks the thaumaturgical strength to impose invisibility beyond 24 hours. A standard use should only be twelve, at most. Probably just a couple of hours when divided among four people."

Clara was both intrigued and curious on the matter. "And you're sure it will work?"

"Well, it worked last time," Esk said to her, looking at me sweetly. "Although some people complained about the duration."

"I was invisible for a week," I retorted.

"Because I miscalculated the…"

"Perhaps we should have more doing the thing and less arguing," Clara noted. I followed her eyes and saw that yes, we were attracting a small crowd.

"Right." The Doctor nodded. "Magic or not, we need to get started. Are you ready?"

Esk nodded.

"Then start with me."

I tried to stop him from going first. On principle. But he made it pretty clear he was going and that was that. I sighed and gestured for everyone to follow me until we got to a private point in the camp on the other side. Once we were there further ideas were given and Esk was left to cast her magic. She whispered incantations in old Morporkian and other languages, a hodgepodge that turned her voice into a chorus.

Within a few seconds she faded from view. Clara faded next, then the Doctor.

Suddenly everything around me seemed to fade slightly. Colors lost vibrancy. My Time Lord senses went a little haywire as they felt my body shift out of phase with the rest of normal reality… or at least normal reality inside a pocket universe. I could see the others again. Esk was leaning against Clara. "Is she going to be okay?", Clara asked.

"You have no idea how hard it is to mold a phased field to not cause us to fall through the planet," Esk answered. "It took me several paperweights and Simon's favorite chair to make it work."

"So, it's not invisibility-invisibility, it's 'phase out of tune with normal space' invisibility," I asked.

She smiled thinly at me. "Yes, quite."

The Doctor nodded at her. "Ah. Quite impressive," he said. But it was clear he was still a bit… put off, I suppose? It's not surprising. Time Lords went out fo their way to stamp out anything approaching "magic" a long time ago, and all have a bit of contempt for it. "How long do we have?"

"We have to stay within twenty feet of each other for the phase field to keep working. Otherwise it will weaken and disperse, and we'll be back in normal space." Esk rubbed at her sweaty forehead. "We have about two hours before it degrades."

"Two hours." The Doctor looked back up at the array above us, still crackling with energy. "That sounds about right. Let's go."

Now that we can move unseen, we all followed the Doctor into the city.




As expected, the city still showed battle damage from the Dalek attack. Homes and other structures had yet to be repaired, explaining the large number of refugees outside of the city. The luckier members of Gallifreyan society milled about in those red suits with the head-pieces at the back, the ones that were tapered thin at the neck and spread outward by the time they got to the top of the head. Armed soldiers patrolled the streets still.

More than that, it was clear that we weren't quite as invisible as planned. Every time we drew to the best-dressed of the Gallifreyans, they seemed to stop in place and look around. They were Time Lords too, and undoubtedly could sense that our phase field was in the vicinity. We could only hope that the sensation remained too general for them, or any sensors, to focus on.

"This is all damage from the Dalek attacks," Clara noted. She had knowledge of the Time War, after all. "Shouldn't it have been repaired by now?"

"Rassilon and the Council clearly had other priorities," the Doctor mused unhappily.

"Me," I muttered. "And whatever they had in mind for my existence."

The Doctor gave me a sympathetic look. "It's not your fault," he said. "None of this is."

I knew he was right. But it still… hurt, I suppose.

Because of the damage in the city we had to detour around the plazas and streets on our way toward the central structures. We made it to the base of the tallest building and found the entrance blockaded by soldiers. Furthermore, the door was controlled by a lock. Even if we could interact with it in phase, we would alert the guards if we used it. "Alright, so what's our next plan?", I asked.

The Doctor looked upward. "We take one of those," he said.

I looked up as well. A military hovercraft of some sort was flying overhead and coming to a landing in a nearby structure. "And we'd better hurry," I noted. "We'll be out of time soon on the field."

"Right," Esk said. "And I'm not sure I can form another one so soon after this one."

"It's no fuss." The Doctor smirked. "I have plans just in case we do become visible again. Come along, we're going this way."

The Doctor led us to the tower near the central building. This one also had secured entrances, but not guarded ones. Our sonic screwdrivers quickly beat the lock on the one door and granted us entry. Within the halls and rooms all conformed to the best tastes in Gallifreyan architectural design. It was really quite marvelous

"So where do we find the stairs?", Clara asked.

The Doctor and I turned back and looked at her. "What makes you think there are stairs?", I asked. "This is Gallifrey. Time Lords don't need stairs."

"Well…" Clara crossed her arms. "I mean, you, I mean they, were at war, right? And there's no telling what can happen to power. You can't just rely on lifts all of the time. Stairs make sense."

"I have to agree," Esk chimed in. "High technology and magic is all fine and good, but simple solutions as a backup are always the smart thing."

"Yes, but…" I looked to the Doctor, who was smiling. "There are stairs, aren't there?"

The Doctor laughed. "Of course there are." He winked. "This way."

"Ah, so now I look like the arse, isn't that nice…", I mumbled.

The Doctor led us to the stairs. We started going up them.

And up. And up.

And up.

We had burned through most of our time remaining getting to the top of the building. We emerged and found the military's park for its anti-grav vehicles. "Now this may be the tricky part," the Doctor confided.

"We can't hide it," Esk said. "I'm sorry, but it'd just be too much to shift that thing's mass into the phase field with us."

"Oh, I know," the Doctor answered. "That's why I said this would be tricky." he found the nearest one and started working on it. "Deadlock seals, so no using the sonic to gain access. Fortunately there is more than one way…" The lights on the controls came on. "...to steal one of these things."

"Impressive," I noted.

"Just something I picked up during the War," he replied. His face grew more somber as he did. Presumably that occasion wasn't exactly a good memory for him.

We piled in. I took the co-pilot seat and looked over the controls. Much simpler than a TARDIS, but that's not surprising. These were meant for normal Gallifreyans to pilot, after all. I looked back to see Esk and Clara secure themselves into the rear seats for passengers. The Doctor flipped several switches until the engines rumbled to life. They weren't too loud, although they weren't very soft either. I looked forward again and saw my display included the targeting for the gun. "So." I looked up at the energy crackling around the array pylons above. "I'm sure blowing that thing up is not a good idea."

"It's not," the Doctor agreed. "Capacitor overload, it would cause a lot of devastation in the city. And these people have suffered enough."

"Do we blow a hole into the building?", I asked. "I can't imagine roof access will work very well."

"I'd rather not." The Doctor reached over with his sonic. It whirred to life, green tip lit up and all, and the gunner console suddenly went dark. "We don't need that at all."

"Ah." I nodded. "Good. I wasn't very comfortable with it." I drew in a sigh. "Of course, I doubt I'll be comfortable if we smash head-first into the building instead."

"That's why I'm not going to do that either."

"Oh." I thought about it. And I laughed. "Young ladies, please sit up as far as you can."

"What? Why?", Clara asked.

"Because," I answered, "we're going in arse-first."

Clara and Esk exchanged worried glances and very quickly scooted their derrieres up as far as they could.

"Attention Hopper 21, you are on an unauthorized flight," a voice said over the comm system. "Identify yourself or you will be shot down."

"A bit slow, aren't they?", the Doctor noted while angling our craft. "Here we go! Geronimo!"

I almost made a comment about how he'd just done that when we were working our way to Gallifrey. But I never got the chance. The hopper lurched backward and picked up speed. Within seconds the entire thing shook violently as it plowed through a window and wall. We were jostled about roughly for several seconds until the Doctor killed the engines. Both doors were clear for us to slip out of. "Out, everyone!"

We followed him out of the crashed vehicle and dashed toward the nearest hall. The Doctor led us to a set of stairs. As we started going up, soldiers ran behind us, weapons at the ready.

"The phase field is going to start to lose cohesion any minute," Esk warned.

The Doctor had his sonic screwdriver out and scanning. "Just another two floors up," he said. We followed, all of us moving as quickly as we could. I got to the top of the flight of steps just behind the Doctor and followed him into the adjoining halls. It was a shame, really; all of this lovely Gallifreyan architecture and I had to focus on other things.

We entered what looked to be a large control room. A few technicians were on duty doing checks. We moved toward one of the controls. "Good, we're not too late," the Doctor noted. "I'm going to shut down the system."

"I'll help you bypass security." I moved to another control and started operating it. "Bypass started. I'm isolating the other stations."

"Beginning power-down process."

As we went to work, I felt a thrill. We were doing it. All of that sneaking about,all of that tension, and we were almost done. Soon we would have Rassilon's whole system disabled. Then we could retrieve my TARDIS and maybe find someone who knew what was going on. I already knew at least one Time Lady was sympathetic to my cause.

I might never have realized something was wrong if not for Esk. "Doctor?", she asked. "Or Professor if you want."

"Professor?" The Doctor looked at me.

I shrugged. "I asked her to call me that until I'd explained things to you."

"Ah."

"This is important!", Esk insisted. "Something is wrong. These people… they don't feel… right."

I pondered that. My brow furrowed. "What do you mean by that?"

"They don't feel alive, Doctor," she answered.

I looked up from the controls. The displays showing my progress.

My easy, completely and wildly successful progress.

The Doctor looked over to me as I looked to him. Yes, he had realized the same thing. "Trap," we said together.

The displays all shut down, and with them the technicians disappeared, now revealed as holograms. From each door a host of guards entered in, led by a Gallifreyan in the full regalia of a member of the Council. He stood just outside of the circle they formed around our assumed controls. "We know you are here, Doctor," the man proclaimed. "By order of the Lord-President of Gallfrey, you are under arrest. Reveal yourself."

Clara swallowed. "Well… they can't hit us, right? We're out of phase."

"We won't be for much longer," I pointed out. My mind raced as I tried to come up with a plan.

"Eskarina, this phase field you're creating." The Doctor went up to her. "What if you were to compact it? So that it only worked on you and Clara? Could that buy you more time?"

Esk thought quickly. "Well, yes. Twenty minutes at least, perhaps more."

"Good."

"So we go visible," I said. "And hope they don't just shoot us."

"They don't," the Doctor assured me. "Rassilon will want to talk. And gloat. He does that. Loves to gloat. No matter which regeneration."

"Ah." I nodded to Esk. Worry was written plainly on her face. She did not want me to do this. "He's right, Esk." I handed her my sonic disruptor. "Here. Hold onto this."

"If they try to kill you, Doctor, all bets are off," Esk warned.

I gave her my best sigh and she rolled her eyes. I watched her focus. She began to fade from my view. So did Clara. Everything else began to shift back to normal color. The guards all looked rather bewildered at the way we simply faded back into view, without any clear technological assistance. The Councillor looked from the Doctor to me with some surprise. "So which of you is the Doctor?", he demanded.

Well, there was only one way to respond to that.

"I am," the Doctor and I said. Together. We looked at each other and grinned.

The Councillor furrowed his brow in bewilderment mixed with profound irritation. It was really quite amusing. "The Lord-President will sort you out," he finally growled. "If you try to flee, you will be shot dead. If you talk, you will be shot."

I almost asked "Where's the fun in that?", but the look in the man's eye kept my tongue in check. No, he would follow through on that threat just to keep his authority.

There was nothing to be done for it. We were marched out of the decoy control room.




A lift bore us several floors up to near the roof, probably the second-to-highest level or something. We were taken through adjoining halls until our arrival at the center of the structure.

The room inside was not large, but it was quite full with more Councillors like the fellow at our backs. I looked over their faces; all looked pensive and irritated.

And then my eyes found a familiar set of brown eyes… and the graying head of light brown hair and matronly sadness that went with them in my memory.

My unknown benefactor.

Our eyes met. Guilt and sadness rippled from her visage. She pursed her lips and swallowed. I lowered my eyes to break the contact.

I instead found myself facing the scarred man in the central chair. He was dressed in the red finery of Gallifrey, complete with the crest behind the head. His face was burnt and scarred as if it had been exposed to excessive energies, the kind you barely survive. Eyes glared hatred at the Doctor especially. His arms rested on his large chair's arms. The left hand was covered in a gauntlet of silver.

I swallowed. Rassilon.

Beside and in front of Rassilon, about a meter away, was a dome of faint green light. Within the dome was a figure on his knees. Energy was in mid-crackle around his head and body and it looked like half of his skull was exposed by it. More energy was trapped mid-crackle around his hands, as if he had been generating it at the moment he froze.

My eyes widened in realization.

It was the Master.

Frozen in time.

"That explains that, I suppose," the Doctor mumbled. He had noticed the same.

Most of the guards didn't stay. A handful moved to between Rassilon and us. Everyone watched in silence as Rassilon looked us over. "Well." He folded his hands together. "Here we are, at last. Gallifrey's most disappointing son..." He glared at the Doctor.

And then he looked at me. The glare went away. An expression of bemusement and intense satisfaction replaced it.

"...and Gallifrey's greatest tool." He smiled at me. "It is fitting that you should be here at the end. To see the wonder that you have wrought."

I swallowed. Everyone was looking at me. I found the attention… uncomfortable. "And just what have I done?"

Rassilon's satisfaction grew so thick you could probably have cut it up with a knife. Assuming you could stand being so close to it given the ego tied to it. "Why, shouldn't it be obvious, Human?" He raised his hands and spread them. "You have become the salvation of Gallifrey and her people. Because of your travels, we will finally be freed of this limbo that the Doctor cast us into."

"It was either this or burning the planet," the Doctor retorted. "And I couldn't do that. It's not like you had anything better in mind."

Rassilon snarled at him. "Do not think I have forgotten your role in condemning Gallifrey to remain behind the Time Lock, Doctor. You will face the appropriate punishment in due time." His eyes journeyed back to me. "And you. Here you are, returned to us, your purpose fulfilled. The purpose for which you were given the gift that you so nearly squandered."

"Squandered?", I asked.

"Four regenerations, and you wasted them all," Rassilon spat. "All on a petty fantasy of emulating this disgrace." He motioned to the Doctor.

"So I should have emulated someone else? Maybe him?" I indicated the Master with my hand. "Because he's not exactly the best candidate."

"He is a rabid beast," Rassilon agreed. "But he still served his proper purpose. Unlike this traitor." He spat at the Doctor. Literally. Every word was laced with contempt and rage. "This disgrace to our people that you dared to try and emulate. By doing so you placed the entire plan in jeopardy."

I expected more spittle and rage. But Rassilon asserted control over his burnt, scarred face. A thin smile came to him instead. "But as you succeeded regardless, I am of a mind to be merciful."

I swallowed. "Your plan. You caused the Cracks. Or rather, you caused me to cause them." I let my mind think through all the facts and what he had said. What was now evident from seeing Gallifrey. "You used me as a… a surveyor. I traveled, and you used my TARDIS' navigational data to strengthen the links that maintained the interdimensional tunnel bridging my cosmos to yours. The results were the Cracks."

Rassilon grinned with what looked like the pride of a father.

That prompted me to continue as the whole thing came together in my mind in all of its horrible truth. "When you took me, the tunnel was just… just a small thing. Just large enough to accommodate the quantum scanning system you used to duplicate me. And the transmat beam that deposited me and my TARDIS on that Sith space station." I swallowed. "But now… with all of the cosmoses I've visited… all of those tethers you've been able to make… the tunnel is larger. Much larger. Much easier to use. And you're going to bring Gallifrey through it."

"That's not all, is it?", the Doctor asked. "There's more to this than removing Gallifrey from the pocket universe."

Rassilon merely kept smiling, inviting me to continue. As if I were a pet bidden to speak. And I did, if just to give vent to the thoughts in my head. "Yes. It's not all. The Master… the Master knew of the plan. He knew my TARDIS could do the same for him that it was doing for you. He was going to make his own Eye of Harmony from a dimensional disruption. Just as you plan. But… you're going to use the tunnel, aren't you? Gallifrey's pocket universe shifting through it will cause a massive release of energy. It'll tear through all the dimensions linked to the tunnel and destabilize it. Across six dimensions of space-time. And for maximum effect with the disruption, used upon a central location in the sixth dimension of reality." I swallowed. "My Earth. My homeworld. You're going to sacrifice it as the focal point of the disruption. You'll capture it at the moment of the disruption as the basis for your new Eye of Harmony."

The Doctor paled. His voice became shaky. "That… the backlash… it would…"

"It would ripple backward through the tunnel," I continued. I knew I was just as pale. My voice quivered as the full and awful implications rippled through me and sapped at my strength. We had already known that whatever Rassilon was planning would cause massive damage to their old home cosmos. But we'd never imagined it could be anything like this. "Your home cosmos, Gallifrey's… it'll be torn apart across all dimensions. The entire universe in all five dimensions shattered. The disruption will follow the tethers, the Cracks, and will explode in all of the other cosmoses as well…."

My hearts quailed. The future visions Garnet had shown me. That was what was going to happen. That dimensional disruption would rip my flimsy seals on the Cracks apart and disgorge massive amounts of energy into each of those cosmoses, propagating along the fifth dimensional axis in each. Every fifth-dimensional iteration - every alternate universe of each, if you wish - would be shattered, broken, by what happened, and the immediate solar systems hosting the Cracks reduced to loose subatomic constituent particles.

The destruction… I thought my mind would fail from the sheer scope of it. Trillions of beings would die in a flash of light. Trillions times trillions times trillions would be destroyed in the following hours as their universes were ripped apart at a fundamental level by the dimensional disruption Gallifrey's passage would cause.

Oh, a few universes might survive, if they were protected by powerful enough beings. I could imagine the Q, for instance, saving their home cosmos. The Living Tribunal, the various high level beings like the Highfather of New Genesis, Madoka Kaname, Blind Io and the Gods of the Discworld, the Capital G Judeo-Christian God of Harry's home cosmos (or whatever you want to consider him or Him to be, I try to avoid contemplating these sorts of things) or the Faerie Queens acting in concert, they might save their home cosmoses. Or at least most of each. A few others, certainly.

But most of those cosmoses I had visited? Instant, complete, unavoidable destruction. Everything wiped out. Nothing left.

The same with my homeworld. The family and friends whom I had just recovered in my memories such a short time ago. That other… me. They would exist forever suspended at the moment of death. And the energy from their perpetual demise, from a dimensional disruption of that magnitude… oh my, the sheer energy. It was many, many orders of magnitude beyond what the Master had been planning to accumulate when he was going to destroy Korra's Spirit World portal, and her world, for his Eye of Harmony.

"All of that energy," I muttered.

"Indeed." Rassilon's smile turned manic. "All of it for us." He laughed. "With the first Eyes of Harmony, our people became Time Lords. Now… now we will be as beyond that as Time Lords are beyond amoeba. With the power of our new Eye of Harmony, we will ascend beyond all limitations. We will hold Creation as our own!" Rassilon became so caught up in the moment he raised his arms and opened his hands. His voice reached a mad crescendo. "We will be Lords of all Reality!"

The Council, most of them anyway, began to cheer. It was clear they were entirely enthralled with the idea of that amount of power. Power with which they would never again be assailed.

My benefactor applauded. Fear was on her features. Fear and shame and guilt.

The Doctor spoke up next. His voice was harsh, deservedly so. "You would slaughter countless peoples, destroy all of those civilizations, all of those worlds... you're no better than Davros and the Daleks! I did not fight the Daleks to see our people become just as evil!"

"I am superior to Davros and his abominations!", Rassilon raved. "Never again will such creatures threaten our people! We will never die! Never! NEVER!" He pointed an accusing finger at the Doctor. "For you, my first act upon our ascension will be to arrange your final end, Doctor! You will, at long last, pay for your defiance to this Council!"

Rassilon's head turned to face me. His voice lowered when he spoke to me. The mad gleam in his eyes lowered intensity. "As for you. Your purpose is fulfilled. Had you proven yourself a proper Time Lord I might have granted you a share of this power. Alas, you are unworthy." A small smile returned to his grotesque face. "But I am not without appreciation. For accomplishing the purpose, for your services to myself and the Council, I will grant you rewards. You need but bow and swear your loyalty to me and you will be given a new set of regenerations to replace those you so carelessly squandered." Rassilon's smile was vicious. "I will even spare the two Humans you brought with you. Even the one using that detestable 'magic' you so enjoyed." He spat "magic" with venom.

"How generous," the Doctor remarked drolly. We gave each other a worried look. Rassilon knew that Clara and Esk were here. There would be no surprises from them.

"Oh, I am not done," Rassilon purred. Well, something like a purr, anyway. That sort of evil satisfaction that seems to go with purring when spoken low and smug. "And I will grant you an even greater favor. Below us, in this very tower, lies the Extraction Chamber. I will grant you one use of it. To retrieve one whose loss cut so deeply. To undo your greatest failure."

I stared at him. And I swallowed, if only to avoid saying the name I knew he would say.

Not that it mattered. Rassilon kept speaking.

"Give me your loyalty, bow to me as your leader, and I will return to you the one you call Katherine."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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