He was born running.
It is the only detail that all of the stories get right.
And through all his brood-mothers and father-sisters clicked their mandibles in warning and despair, Xxxcolar, brave but foolhardy youth that he was, filled his knapsack with mantis bones and his canteen with blood-nectar, and set off for the dangerous land ruled by The Archetype.
He might have walked right past it, but the Above God, angered by the dishonor shown by Xxxcolar to his elders, called down a storm that blasted the would-be adventurer with torrents of sky-water, and forced him to take shelter in a cave.
At the back of the cave was a door made out of minutes, and the handle was made of choices. Through the door foolhardy Xxxcolar went, into the palace of the Archetype. And there, small and strange and pink and grotesque, sat the Archetype, atop a throne of golden nows and silver thens and ruby tomorrows…
--excerpt from ‘Xxxcolar in the Land of the Archetype,’ folk tale of the Kkkreshik tribes in the northern mountains of Agggkrik, in the Metebilis Federation
Something had gone wrong. Something with… He staggered to his feet. Dancing lights, red and gold. Little shimmering catlike creatures twined about his ankles, purring and stretching open their mouths to show their tiny sharp teeth. He looked into their pink and gaping eyes and knew they were named Possibilities.
Something had gone wrong with the experiment.
He tried to stumble across the room to the computer, to see the figures, but his left hand was stuck, sticky with the past. His eyes were sparkling and blurred with the future, and when he focused blearily on his left hand he saw that it was smooth and young and small. He was tipping forward, and tipping backwards, and there was lightning inside his skull and it sang a song…
Windows ripped open in his lab–no, windows were ripping open in reality. In the walls and the ceiling and floor and the air and the sounds of his instruments beeping. A woman stepped through one of the windows. She looked at him and her mouth dropped open. Her hand came up to cover her mouth. She began to cry.
Something had gone wrong with time.
The downside to the Mendanys’ belief in True Naming–lovely and romantic as it is–is that it is also incredibly bloody vague. It feels as though I’ve spent lifetimes poring over the Book of Elders eliminating suspects, from The Healer to The Man of Many Faces to The Young Old Man to The Old Little Boy to The Never Goodbye Traveler. All promising, but on closer inspection, all definitely not the Doctor. At one point was so frustrated that seriously began considering the possibility that he was The Lonely Goddess; it’s entirely possible that he regularly gets mistaken for a girl, given that hair.
In any case, trip to Odonyssa Five now looking to be a complete bust, Doctor-wise. Helping David catalogue some tablets now. They’re part of what the Mendanys call an Unravelling Braided Circle Epic, chronicling the lives of two demons, The Great Star of Poisoned Waters and The Wrong Path.
It’s curious–could’ve sworn last time I was here, the Mendanys claimed to have no demons in their mythology.
--excerpt from River Song’s journal, two months before the Unleashing
He was born running.
A girl whose thoughts burned with urgent fire pulled him down corridors of lights and noise and then into a still and silent room, and then there was a woman snapping and angry and filled with walls inside her mind. They ran, but the Growers caught him and held him fast.
And then his Mother found him.
His senses were fading now, settling into normal human baseline, but for a moment he felt her mind, and it shone like a star.
“The Archetype,” she said. She touched his forehead. Her fingers cold, her nails sharp. “My Archetype. My one, my own, my only.”
She touched his mind, and woke him to the Truth, and he was hers, always, always, forever and always.
Everything has its time. And everything ends.
--Sarah Jane Smith
One upon a time, there was a queen. Her eyes and her heart were as cold and hard as the icy realm she ruled, with ships of glass and buildings of diamond. She was a faerie queen in service to the one they called the Bane Mother, and who we call the Mother of All Sorrows, who steals the souls of our children and grows more demons in their empty bodies.
The faerie queen of the winter kingdom loved but one thing, and she loved him only because she had made him and he was hers, more hers than anything living or dead had ever been. Most faeries steal away children and leave behind a changeling, but she only cut away little pieces of their souls and fashioned herself a patchwork child. A clever boy with far-seeing eyes and a great emptiness where his self should have grown, but which the queen filled with her commands instead.
He was called the Archetype, and he looked up at the queen with wide and adoring eyes, and obeyed every word his mother said.
For many years they ruled over the icy land, queen and prince, and sent their glittering ships to far-off shores to plunder and bring home the soulless bodies of children for more Bane to live in.
But there is no wall that death cannot climb, no crack too small for death to slither through, no plan that death can counter, no price to pay death off. Death comes, even for faeries, even for queens. And so came the day that the prince entered the gilded court of his mother and saw her body, crumpled and lifeless, upon the cold stone floor.
And then appeared a tall hooded monk in robes of white, who would not show his face. And he said unto the Archetype, “A bargain may be struck…”
--excerpt from the preface to ‘How the Ice Panther Was Crushed by the Mother of All Sorrows,’ legend common to refugee camps in the Veridian Splinter Spiral
Tick-tock, goes the clock, ‘til all the clocks are broken
Time comes to a stop, when the Archetype has spoken.
The woman from the time window was weeping even harder now. “Oh, Luke…Luke…”
She stepped forward as if to embrace him, and he flinched.
“I know you,” he said. Strained to remember, old thoughts slipping from his brain and new thoughts wriggling in like weeds through cracks in pavement. “You were the woman with walls in your mind.”
“Someone’s gone wrong,” the woman managed to get out. Time was streaming through her fingers, pushing her back towards the window. “This isn’t who you are, who you’re going to become–I saved you, we saved you… Something in this experiment, something you did, you have to undo–oh, don’t you remember, Luke, I’m your mum! You have to remember!”
The Archetype stopped listening. “You’re not my mother.” He wrenched his left hand from the past and touched it to her forehead. Watched in fascination as she aged backwards beneath his touch, skin and muscle and bone shrinking and softening until she was so small and weak and insubstantial that the winds of time blew her back to where she came from, or out of history altogether. “You’re nothing like her.”
The Possibilities rubbed against him, purred and laughed and licked their fur.
These are the things you must take into the woods, my son. The egg of a duck, as a bluff in case you encounter Koschei the Deathless. A bag of candy or a yoyo, as a bribe in case you encounter the Doctor. Three empty canisters of aerosol deodorant, as a gift in case you encounter Dorothy Gale. And never go into the forest of stars without lining your pockets with moments, for the Trickster has sent the Archetype on a quest, and a moment may be all you have to run away.
But the Archetype was born running, and it is all too likely he will catch up with you. The only way to save your life will be to offer to help retrieve one of the items the Trickster has insisted he fetch: a jelly jar (no more, no less) of artron energy, the heart of Clyde Langer, the minds’ eyes of Sarah Jane Smith, the first crack in the universe, a chip of paint off the TARDIS, the first words of eleven babies (caught in butterfly nets, and trapped in silence), the smallest parallel dimension, and last but not least (Ed. Note: here the page is torn).
--excerpt from the letters of Rani Chandra, the infamous ‘Madwoman of Bannerman Road’
THE ARCHETYPE: Mother?
THE WORMWOOD: Yes?
THE ARCHETYPE: Why did Maria Jackson try to kill me?
A pause. This is clearly not the kind of question the Wormwood was expecting.
THE WORMWOOD: She was jealous of your power.
THE ARCHETYPE: Is that why the Bane tried to kill me?
THE WORMWOOD: How did you–that’s not important. It won’t happen again. I made sure of that.
THE ARCHETYPE: Is that why the Silence tried to kill me?
THE WORMWOOD: They soon learned the consequences of that mistake.
THE ARCHETYPE: What about the Guardians? And Rani Chandra? And Harriet Jones? And the Bannermen and the Sontarans and the Rutans and the Cybermen and Dr. Clifford Jones and–
THE WORMWOOD: (backhanding him) Silence!
A beat. The Archetype does not move from the ground where her blow sent him.
THE WORMWOOD: It does not matter. They did not succeed. They will never succeed.
She crouches next to him, strokes his hair.
THE WORMWOOD: The only why that matters is why they will always fail. Because you are mine. I created you, my best, my perfect, my brilliant boy. Only I can destroy you.
She presses a kiss to his forehead.
--excerpt from untitled, unfinished play by Bujbemi of the Star Poets
For fourteen days and fourteen nights, River Song dreamed of an auction.
When she woke, she could not remember who her owners were, only that the auctioneer was sometimes a cowled man all in black, and sometimes a taller man in a black hood whose face she could not see. She remembered the way he hissed his words as he said, “And next up, a most interesting item, the timeline of River Song…”
There was only one man in the audience. A boy, really, with wide and empty eyes. He stared straight through her, and bid.
“Going once, going twice, sold! To The Wrong Path!”
When she woke, she could not remember the faces of her previous owners, only that they were afraid of him.
But it was only a dream–if it had been anything else, the Doctor would have saved her–and so when she awakened, River went about her day, and every day was the same, every word and movement and moment over and over. She moved through the locked and unchanging pattern, content inside the temporal/biological sample container.
For fourteen days and fourteen nights, River Song had already been sold.
Got into a pickle with the Vashari today. Can’t understand it, normally a very peaceful people, highly complex system of history. Thought Sarah might enjoy their version of newspapers (telepathic singing murals) but they took one look at her and got it into their heads that she was the Almost Savior, some sort of personage from their religious texts. A kind of Judas-figure, from what I’ve been able to gather, or perhaps more accurately a didn’t-have-to-be-Judas-but-was-anyway-figure. Anyway, looked nothing like her. And she's never been a mother in any of her timelines.
Well, nothing for it, we’ll have to try for Florana again once Sarah Jane’s calmed down and stopped threatening to leave.
--excerpt from the 5132 Sotheby’s auction edition of ‘The Doctor’s 500 Year Diary,’ widely believed to be a forgery
There isn't a little boy born who wouldn't tear the world apart to save his mummy.
Something had gone wrong with the experiment. But now things were going right. Time was freezing in crystals, and bits of crystal were shattering. The empty space they left behind became a tunnel. Leading away to the perfect moment. The eternal moment, in which his mother would always be alive, and he would always be hers.
There was the wheezing of a TARDIS engine, and then it materialized. The Doctor stepped out.
“You must be the Archetype,” he said. “I’m here to stop you.”
“You won’t,” the Archetype said simply. He stepped into the beginning of the tunnel.
“No. Accurate. You’ll be too busy running from him.”
A crystal of time enveloped the TARDIS and shattered, the Trickster stepping out of it. He bared his teeth at the Doctor.
“I was born running,” the Archetype said. He smiled. “Your turn.”