And so he did. The Doctor tossed some glances around, then sat on the steps, weaving a hand through his hair, telling them everything I already knew. I cast a look at the Master, who stood nearby, listening, like a hawk waiting for prey. When he got aware of me staring he grinned wickedly and even winked.
Maybe this place didn't have an influence on me, after all and I had simply sensed the truth. That I was a fool to believe he anything but hated me. His own self in the dream had probably been nothing more than a projection, a mental copy of sorts, so he wouldn't have to deal with me himself, and the thought made me sick to my stomach.
Diatraction. What for, though? He could have a look inside my head whenever he wanted and he was certainly powerful enough to just rip through my barriers and pop all the bubbles to see what's inside, no matter if I consented to it or not.
Sleep. That might be the key. When I was awake he couldn't get deep enough without damaging me, which also didn't explain why he hadn't just done it long before. We had shared a bed so often by now. Nothing had ever stopped him from slipping inside my head, then.
Something didn't add up.
After the Doctor was done explaining, Donna and Darwil were silent for a bit, pondering their new information. I couldn't endure standing still, so I walked around the interior, searching for something more than memory crystals. Distraction. There were machines of a kind I didn't understand, with gears and wires and vials. There were ordinary books I couldn't read. This was a library and a laboratory at once. And for a while I busied myself with listening to some more of the memos, although most of them were rather boring.
And there was the dragon.
As much as the foreign equipment fascinated me, I couldn't help but return to the creature, eventually. Everyone else was gone now, doing their own exploration. So I was left with too many questions, once more and no one to answer them.
A connection to the void.
I stretched my hand out, hovering over the shimmering scales. Void means nothing. There is only darkness, no light, no emotion, no pain. No warmth either. But that, apparently, wasn't for me anyway.
My fingers brushed over the snout, trailing along its form. Was that everything I was? A tool for others to be used as they saw fit? Even my fletching had used me as nothing but an energy source. I sighed and lowered my head, lightly bumping it against the dragon's. A dead creature. Like myself.
There was no influence. It only showed me what was already there, deep within me, but previously buried under a layer of false hopes and faked affektion. If all those illusions got brushed aside… there was nothing left of me. There never had been anything. All I was was a patchwork of different uses I had for other people. And while that was at least some kind of purpose… seeing that it was all there was to me…
"Give me your fire," I muttered towards the dragon's corpse, tapping right into that coil of darkness inside of me. "Let me burn this all to the ground."
I sensed someone standing behind me, not knowing if they had heard anything, but I didn't care, I didn't want to be everyone's fool. I didn't want to exist just to experience endless pain and loss and rejection. And there was… something responding, attaching to my thoughts, feeling its way through the stream of my consciousness. It was different than what I was used to, more raw in nature, but weaving its way through me with an unknown elegance.
And suddenly I was flying, seeing the ground lying below me, so so far below. And I felt joy, turning myself around, diving deeper, rising higher, wind around, the sky above. Freedom. Until they came. Sharp things and burning things, explosions, rain of acid, beams so hot they burned right through my flesh and let me fall.
Burn it all
There was fire. And smoke. And darkness.
Someone screamed and I looked up, waking from the strange vision to find that the sound had not come from them. It was Donna. And she pointed at… me?
I raised my head, just in time to see a cloud of blackness starting to form above the dead(?) dragon. Tendrils of smoke stretched and bent away from it, like the tentacles of an ancient god, billowing to a silent storm.
"What is that?" called Donna. "Oh god, Doctor, do something!"
"I don't know! Let me check." He jumped in front of the red-head, pointing his sonic at the growing cloud and almost fell when the ground started to shake all of a sudden. "Whoa, whoa, that's not good. Not good at all…" The Doctor stumbled around, trying to stay on his feet, the Sonic pressed against his ear as if he could hear the results.
The ground shook again, this time with more force. Dust rained down from above, a few small stones. A crystal crashed to the ground somewhere, bursting into a million shards. Somehow the tremors didn't seem to affect me, as if gravity played a different game in this spot. I saw Darwil stumbling his way up the few stairs. He passed me without a word and strode right to the black smoke.
"Oi, what are you doing?" shrieked Donna. "Don't go there. It's dangerous. Please don't… don't…" She gasped.
Darwil turned around, suddenly having no trouble standing. He looked at me… and smiled. "You saw it too, didn't you?"
I nodded, knowing he could only mean the vision.
"It's true. The whole meteor is full with the shadow particles," called out the Doctor all of a sudden. "And they are mixing with… void particles? How can that be? It's impossible!"
My eyes were glued to the still growing cloud, the bending tendrils. It was fascinating, utterly mesmerising. And for a moment I understood, deep inside of me, without having words to explain. "No… no, it's not impossible."
Darwil smiled. He understood too.
"Let's get out of here," pleaded Donna. "The whole thing is collapsing!"
I let out a slow breath, glaring up at the crumbling ceiling. Cracks of light started to form, black stones crashing down, destroying the equipment in here, the crystals. And everything else.
"Yeah," I mumbled, my words unheard by everyone, "let it all vanish."
Darwil nodded at me as if he had heard it and then he moved. And walked right into the still growing cloud of nothing. Someone shrieked, someone called out, but there was no way to stop him. He had made his decision. He had spent his whole life getting here and the dragon's vision had given so many answers at once. There was nothing left to ask. But all the more to learn. Maybe he would survive the eternal darkness, maybe not. In my heart I wished him luck.
And all hell broke loose.
Another tremor shook the whole meteor, a flash of purple light ignited my field of vision and I stumbled backwards in shock when the dragon opened its maw and cried out, teeth bared, wings stretched and eyes glowing with all the fire I desired so I could burn, burn, burn everything around me, with the same rage I had felt when the devil of the deep had still possessed me. But it wasn't him. This was all me.
I raised my arms to shield myself from the purple flames, not feeling their heat, not feeling the pain of smouldering flesh. Because there was nothing to hurt me. Instead, I felt something small nudge against my nose, then something slightly wet and rough. My eyes blinked open in confusion, seeing the dragon's head in front of me.
Only that it was much, much smaller. The whole dragon was barely the size of a rat. Black, leathery wings held it in the air, although the flaps were clumsy and lacked any grace. And as soon as it looked into my eyes it let out a happy squeak and crashed right against my chest, snuggling up on me, rubbing its head under my chin and clawing itself into my coat.
"You," I uttered, surprised, suddenly feeling strangely empty. The fire in me had gone, vanished as quickly as if it had never been there before. "How did you get here? And when did you grow wings?"
Of course there was no answer and moments later a large piece of black stone crashed from the ceiling, burying the bigger dragon. Suddenly everything happened so quickly that I could barely process it. A hand grabbed mine, yanking me along and away from the falling rubble. I stumbled, jumped, swayed, stumbled some more and coughed when dust filled my lungs. Somewhere I saw a hint of red hair, a fluttering brown coat right next to me.
We had to climb, we had to run. We had to climb some more and I slipped, but got caught by another pair of arms, heaving me upwards a bit so I could grab the Doctor's hand and be dragged up to a broken ledge. The Master followed and I saw the two Time Lords nod at each other. The Doctor fell backwards on his bum with a relieved sigh, suddenly laughing quietly to himself. And the other man joined in with a grin. Looks were shared, with smiling eyes.
The Master stood up, reaching a hand down to heave the Doctor from the ground, holding onto him maybe a moment longer than needed. And, for once, it seemed the Doctor wasn't bothered by it.
My breath slowly recovered and I found Donna standing at the edge of what I now realised was one of the buildings that had fallen over, centuries ago. From here we were safe from the crumbling meteor and the falling metal rings around them. Without a halt they now collapsed, drowning in an ever growing cloud of smoke and darkness.
"It won't stop growing," breathed Donna. "This darkness. It will consume everything, won't it?"
"I… don't know." My eyes wandered to the tiny dragon that still clung to the front of my coat. Its head was turned towards the chaos, silently watching. "Maybe it's for the better."
"How can you say that?" she implored, sounding almost desperate. "The whole planet might be swallowed. And what if that cloud doesn't stop there?"
Did it really matter? Each moment was nothing but a collection of pain and misery, death, betrayal and loneliness.
"Pretty, isn't it?" said the Master, stepping next to me. "Everything collapsing, crumbling. Oh, it's truly a sight."
Donna let out an exasperated noise. "Of course you'd say that. I'm done. I don't want to see this anymore. We need to do something."
"I'm not sure we can," admitted the Doctor. "The void particles react to whatever was inside the meteor and… I think that is what created those shadows in the first place. Too similar, you know? Almost the same, but just such a tiny bit too different."
"The light will swallow it all," I muttered, stroking over the fletchling's head. The scales felt soft, almost like fur. "They can't exist there. And now the source is gone."
"How'd you…" Donna fell silent when the black smoke cloud started to slowly collapse in itself.
I shrugged. "It's just logical, isn't it? The particles in there opened a slit to the void and somehow reacted with it. Shadows started to appear in the area and they got less when the radius shrunk."
"But what about…" She eyed me suspiciously, or rather the small dragon that was cuddling with me. "What about those? There was a statue there. And they destroyed the civilization that lived here before."
"I'm not so sure about that," pondered the Doctor, dusting himself off. "I think… the little one came through that void cloud, didn't it, Lucy? You saw something there."
"Mhm… Not sure I can repeat it properly, though." I nudged my dragon and smiled when it let out a happy squeak. "I think… they somehow got stranded here. They came through the void, or from there, maybe. And people started to attack them, so…"
"They defended themselves," concluded Donna.
"There wasn't any void slit in the Viking village, though," pondered the Doctor.
"Probably gone already," came a reply from behind. The Master stepped next to his fellow Time Lord. "They do seem to have a direct connection. They feed on the void." A look wandered over me and it was obvious why he thought that, seeing how the fletchling had grown all of a sudden.
And so we stood there, on top of a fallen building, watching the remains of the meteor crumble, watching the dust billow and settle, watching the sun slowly setting behind the destruction, glowing in the strongest orange it could muster to paint a picture I would never be able to capture on my camera, nor properly describe with words.
And at that moment I understood. Why the Master was so fascinated by chaos and destruction, by seeing the world around him fall and burn. How could I not, when, moments before, I had felt the very same desire within my very self?