When he was young, a young human man surrounded by a universe that slowly collapsed around him, Yana was convinced he would live forever, all obvious evidence to the contrary. He was an optimist by nature, of course, and drew from the energy of youth. There were so many things he wanted to do, so much knowledge, so many limitations to circumvent, so much knowledge to gain. There would always be time for something like a marriage, or children later, once he had made this discovery, gone on that journey, helped this planet with that invention.
Nonetheless, there somewhow was a child, a daughter. He did not know her very well, which he deeply regretted. She died young, killed by the futurekind. He tried to raise her son, his grandson, a boy she had called Sun, and for a while, they were reasonably happy together, travelling between what was left of the starts, gaining and peddling knowledge. But when the boy grew adolescent, he also grew wild and desperate. “What is the point of all this?” he demanded. “Why do you even try? Everyone and everything will die before I even grow half as old as you are. Maybe even in your life time. Everything you do is pointless.”
The boy took to cruelty in his desperation, but there was no sign of his teeth growing sharper; it was not the futurekind that drove him to acts that appalled and horrified Yana. He could not understand how his daughter’s son, his grandson, could find joy in causing others pain.
“It makes me feel alive, a little,” Sun said bitterly when question.
“Who are you?” Yana asked, in despair himself by now. “What do you want?”
Sun laughed bitterly and vanished. Yana would never see him again.
Returning to the end had been on an impulse. It was just so dull at times, playing the rising politician, and the TARDIS would only move between two specific eras. Besides, the Master wanted to give darling Lucy some perspective. Such a perfect doll, Lucy was, every bit as blonde and enthusistic and passionate as Jo something or the other, the Doctor’s faithful companion, but with a fragility underneath it all that demanded to be tested. That was the only reason. It had nothing to do with the old fool Yana and his nagging sense of responsibility. Sickening to think of it; decades spent in a human body, aging, dying a bit every day, unable to sense anything truly important about the universe. Pathetically grateful for even a small glimpse of it. But Yana had retained something of his genius, which meant that missile would arrive at the coordinates it was aimed at, and besides, the Master was genuinenly curious. What had become of the Doctor’s pet species in the end? But that was all. Curiosity. There certainly was no sense of obligation whatsoever.
Obviously, it wouldn’t do to arrive while the dear Doctor was still around, and the TARDIS had a maneuvrability of eighteen months, so the Master pushed it to the limit when he aimed it at Utopia. What he found there surpassed all expectations.
There was one odd moment, though. As he realized what they had done to themselves, what that meant for his own plans, he wanted to smile in delight, but as they rushed towards him, crying “who are you, who are you?”, he found himself asking instead: “What do you want?” And the question came out echoing with emotions not his own. It was only a moment, though. Then he gave them Harry Saxon’s best smile, and repeated his question, not with Yana’s weakness, but with his own strength, charming them as surely as he had charmed Lucy and so many others: “What you want…my children?”
Most of the Toclafane vanished when the paradox was destroyed; they returned to the end of the universe where they had come from. But not all of them. Those whom the Master had brought with him through the TARDIS, not through the paradox, were still there, and the Doctor, after burning the Master’s body, tracked them down before reuniting with Jack and Martha. He didn’t want either of them around for this. One reason was that they had both suffered enough through the last year, but another, far more selfish and just as real, was that he needed to do this himself. He had helped Yana to send the last humans on their way to becoming this horror. And they were, in a very true sense, all that was left of the Master. They were his responsibility. Maybe he could not save them, either. But he could do something.
There were three of them left, and they recognized him, eagerly surrounding him and humming “where is the Mister Master?”
He couldn’t bring himself to say it, for reasons that had nothing to do with their weaponry. “Gone now,” he said breezily instead, “but I’ll bring you to him.”
Jack would have killed them, and been right to do so. So would Martha. He should kill them; he remembered the woman on that alternate Earth, coming to consciousness in a Cyber body, and her desperate pleas for death. Remembered giving it to her.
Or he should bring them to the end of all things, where they belonged, to live out the short rest of their lives in darkness, unable to harm anyone but each other.
They were the last. The last of humankind.
The Doctor. The man who makes things better. How sanctimonious is that?
“Grandfather,” one of them suddenly said, and the Doctor froze in utter disbelief. But it was a male voice, not female, and it continued: “I finally remember. What I want. He asked me once. Now I remember. I want my grandfather. I lost him such a long time ago, and now I want him back. Back, back, back. He wouldn’t just leave me, would he? Not he.”
It was a coincidence, nothing more. Everyone had grandparents. Well, except for the Hurolon on Malga IX who had a unique cycle of reproduction that involved weaving, but that was neither here nor there. His own granddaughter had died along with the rest of the Time Lords, and though the Master knew much of the Doctor, he had not been witness to the Doctor’s decision to leave Susan long before that, as she would never have left him. And still, and still, he found himself asking:
“Who are you?”
The voice laughed, a youthful, cheerful laugh that even through the distortion of the Toclafane armour sounded painfully familiar, and replied: “Sun.”
“And who was your grandfather?”
The Doctor found a planet for them, a planet where they would have what they needed to live, and distraction besides; he remembered some things all too well and gave them crystals full of children’s television from 20th century earth, and music, and books, though he doubted they would truly care for the later. Their weapons he disabled, and made their flight ability would not carry them beyond the planetary atmosphere.
The era for the planet in question was so early he had not visited it before. His own species, before they were erased from all timelines, was very young then, and had not left yet left Gallifrey. Billions of years from Martha Jones’ lifetime, and there was no sentient species on this planet at all, or anywhere near in the next fifty systems. There was some beautiful plant life already, though, and some of it in the colour of burned gold.
It was the best he could do, and he knew it was little enough. He said goodbye to them, and returned to Cardiff, promising to himself that he would never set foot on this planet again.
After all, he was the one who had run away.
The young man who had made his pact with the species their enemies called “the Shadows” was an archaeologist, and so he had to ask.
“But is this your planet of origin, or did you come here later?”
He was told it was their home, and had been for more years than any of the younger races could count. He had a clever mind, was eminently suitable to their aims and amused them, and so they decided to indulge him. They should him some of their oldest, most cherished artifacts. The crystal was degraded, and only fragments of the data it had once contained were still accessible. The name of their planet, they told him, had come from this tale.
“But it can’t be,” he whispered. “And yet — Z’ha’dum. Khasadum. Yes. Still, it defies belief that your oldest artifact would have a bit of a story that sounds exactly like something of 20th century Earth literature.”
Curious, they asked him to specify.
“The Lord of the Rings,” he said. “This sounds like an audio version, or maybe a film, downloaded on a crystal. Are you sure you didn’t…”
He looked at the creatures around him, powerful, ancient, a perfect mixture of the organic and the technological, and fell silent. Of course they wouldn’t have fallen victim to a hoax. And besides, before the Icarus arrived, no one had been on this planet for at least a millennium save them, and they had slept. No, it had to be a coincidence.
“It seems,” they murmured, “our species were destined to meet, Morden, if even our stories are the same.”
“Well,” he said, giving them his most charming smile, though it was probably a pointless exercise, given that their own features were so very different, “just tell me what I can do for you. What do you want?”
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