The five of them sat together, looking at the moon over the bright Cybermanchester sky. So much had changed, but it at least held no new scars; a reminder that both it and the Earth had weathered far worse than the Cybermen.
“You did it,” said Chris. “I thought you were just all talk. But you actually did it. You actually saved the world.”
“Well, it wasn’t just me. It was Humza here, who gave me the idea.”
“That was clever of me,” said Humza, wondering what he’d done.
“No, it wasn’t clever at all!” said the Doctor. “That’s what was so brilliant about it. You said a logic puzzle might beat the Cybermen ‘cause they’re robots, and you were totally wrong! It’s just… you were wrong in exactly the right kind of way.”
She looked up at the unchanged moon.
“Because they’ve never been robots,” said the Doctor. “But that’s what we all saw, didn’t we? They’re threats and emotionless and stuck in a big metal cage, so we saw… a cliché, and not what was really there. They could be beaten with a logic puzzle. It just wasn’t their logic that had to change.”
“But they’re monsters,” said Humza.
“Yes,” said the Doctor. “And they’re humans, too. Didn’t you listen to anything I was saying?”
“We’ll have to work out how to live with them, at any rate,” said Chris. “Now we all rule the world, or none of us do. It’ll be a new way of being the human race. But us Things have a head start for that, at least.”
“It’ll be hard,” said Humza. “Very difficult. And,” he said, starting to talk much more quickly, “it’d be easier if we did it together”–
“Humza,” said Chris. “You know I’ve always seen you as a friend.”
Humza looked crestfallen.
“That’s why,” she went on, “I think it’d be really nice to go out with you.”
“That’s mean!” gasped Humza, starting to laugh. “You think just because you can smash people up to a pulp you can go around being mean”–
“It means I can protect you,” said Chris, “now that you’re my dashing suitor.”
“Love,” said Lorna, “I know it’s nice, having a boyfriend and all. But you shouldn’t forget to… you know…”
“Mum!” said Chris. “I’m fifteen! And I have a body made all out of plastic. I know how to take care of myself.”
“It is nice not having to worry about these things,” said Gillian, “What with being a 3D printer.”
Lorna started to laugh, first softly and then until she was hooting and howling, so the three of her friends who had faces seemed uncomfortable and afraid.
“Don’t be like that!” said Gillian, “ It’s a living! I even have a bit of a love life”–
“I’m not laughing at you!” she said. “It’s just– I didn’t even imagine the future, when I was back home. Because if I thought about it I just thought it’d be even worse than what we had. But now I’m actually here, and,” she started laughing again, “and it’s totally mad!”
“But this isn’t the future,” said the Doctor softly. “Not anymore.”
Lorna looked at her, suddenly no longer laughing.
“Time and space,” said the Doctor. “They change, in a way that’s hard to describe. There are infinite possibilities, and they’re all real, but there’s only ever a tiny sliver that get to make up the universe. You’re alive, Lorna, and the younger Simon isn’t. The technology he used to make the Cybermen… I don’t think it’ll even happen, now that he’s gone. So when we get back, back to where we’ve come from– we won’t be able to come back here.”
Humza looked horrified. “You mean we’ll all just stop existing? But she’s only just gone and said yes!”
“Not at all! It’s just… a different bit of existence, in a way. My TARDIS can go anywhere in time and space,” she said, “but it can’t go to the place this place’ll be.”
“Then I’ll stay,” said Lorna to her daughter, “you’ve lost five years with me. You shouldn’t have to lose me forever.”
Chris looked very sad indeed.
“I want that. More than anything. But the world you’ve come from… it still has a me, doesn’t it? When I was a little girl, before I knew you were gone. Knowing that I had lost you; what that was like. I can’t let that Chris go through that as well.”
“You’re a good kid,” said Lorna. “I always thought… that I should have done better for you, you know. But when I see what you’ve become, I think I must have done something right”–
She broke down then, and Chris did, too, and they sobbed and held each other in their plastic and human arms.
“It’s worth it, isn’t it?” said Lorna. “Having emotions.”
“Don’t be an idiot,” said Chris, “of course it is.”
They hugged together in the dim light of the moon.
And that was the end of the rule of the humans that were known as the Cybermen. They would remain and they too would survive, but they would no longer do so in a way that sought out domination. It had been a strange world for those people, if people was indeed what they were. There had been those who kept their faith and those who still told stories, and there had been those who kept on arguing long after they’d lost both their tongues and their mouths. They had argued that emotions were all that had kept them from seeing, that a logic without passion would show them the world as it really was. And it had been thoughts like that which had kept the TARDIS so safely hidden, even as the world around it transformed. And it was that argument that allowed Lorna and the Doctor to slip away unseen, away from a future that would now never happen at all.