The TARDIS stood alone on the surface of the planet Lakertya. Inside the ship, the Doctor and Mel lay unconscious. Unexpectedly, the lighting throughout the TARDIS began to fade, until every room and corridor was in complete darkness, broken only by a pulsating glow from the console's central column. The Doctor immediately sat up and listened, as though receiving instructions. Within him, he knew that change was close at hand, but first there was a task to be completed.
Standing before the console he placed his hands on the telepathic circuits. A beam of light seemed to emanate from his palms and into the console itself. Finally he sent out a mental summons. In his mind he saw him clearly - the face of his own dark future.
"Doctor!" The Valeyard was annoyingly smug. "And what games do you dare to play this time?"
"No games," he answered. "Since our last meeting, I have been continually aware of your presence. I knew you had not perished in the Matrix."
"However," he continued, "your very existence is an anomaly. An error which must now be corrected."
The Valeyard was about to deliver a stinging rebuke when he noted how the Doctor's ebullient manner was strangely subdued - no trace of the bluster or indignation normally prevalent in the Doctor's sixth incarnation. There was something nagging at the back of his mind, but for the moment he chose to ignore it. "I exist independently from your time stream," he pointed out. "We are separate beings."
"In essence, we are still the same person."
Again there was no emotion in the Doctor's reply. This unnerved the Valeyard. Clearly, this was not the same person he had met before. The Doctor was. different. "Who are you?" he demanded to know. "Obviously not the Doctor, that much is certain."
"I am he," came the reply, "but not as you know him."
Realisation dawned. "Then you are..."
"The inner force present within all Time Lords. His soul, if you prefer. Within me lies the knowledge of all the Doctor's incarnations, both past and future."
Now the Valeyard realised what had first concerned him, for the voice he was hearing did not belong to the Doctor in any of his regenerations. And those last words bore into him like a death sentence. His confidence was now visibly shaken. "All incarnations?"
"Even your own," replied the voice. "Your body may be separate from the Doctor's time stream, but your soul is still a part of me."
Despite himself, the Valeyard was curious. "So why have you summoned me?"
"Because the time of merging is at hand. The Doctor is in the final stages of regeneration, but the TARDIS is keeping his present form stable - until you join him."
"Never!" The Valeyard was resolute. Having attained individuality from the Doctor's life cycle, he was unwilling to surrender it.
"You have no choice in the matter."
"And just how do you intend to carry out this empty threat?"
"It is already done," the 'Doctor' replied. "I created a link with the TARDIS' telepathic circuits, and your reply to my summons established a mind-loop which cannot be broken. Now, it is time."
The Valeyard convulsed as he felt the mental energy reaching into his mind. "No! I must live!" He fought to break free of the mind-loop, but even now he could feel his body being pulled into the Space/Time Vortex.
The TARDIS shook violently as the mental power it generated grew in strength. The Central Column rose and fell as though in flight, as the Valeyard slowly materialised in the console room, his body wracked in pain. "No!" he screamed. "I beg you, no!"
The 'Doctor' looked at him and smiled. "From the very moment you came into being, You knew that one day the merging would come. It was only a matter of time." As if on cue, the TARDIS began to pulsate with light once more. The pain inside the Valeyard suddenly left him as he stood motionless at the Doctor's side, both facing the console as though hypnotised. Beams of light flew from the Central Column, encircling the two until they finally merged as one...
All was still.
The Doctor stood alone, staring without recognition at Mel. Still unconscious, blissfully unaware of recent events. "I could do with a holiday," he thought, as dizziness overcame him. As he fell to the floor, the regeneration process began to take hold...
"...Professor, wake up."
The Doctor was in his bed, Ace standing over him, shaking him until he awoke. "Ace, what's wrong?"
She looked at him, concerned. "You were having the grand-daddy of all nightmares. I could hear you from the console room. Are you alright?"
"Don't fuss, Ace," he retorted. "Of course I'm alright."
"Sorry I spoke," she muttered, under her breath. "So what were you dreaming about?" The Doctor was lost in thought. Had it all been a dream, or was it something more? "Professor?"
He looked up at her and smiled. "I'll tell you all about it," he promised, "when the time is right."