The child was dead.

I understood this. How we measure our lives differs, but even I will perish in the fullness of time. All that is will be lost in memory before I am counted among the fallen, but the day will come. When I dream (for all sentient beings do), I can see that far--not a single Denouement, but a myriad of ends, shifting finales, changing, ebbing like the tides of Space and Time. Where I belong. Where my kind might live long enough to see stars burn out. Not so for these little ones around me. Their lives are fleeting compared to mine, their bodies so small, even on the inside. Their young even more so. For all that my heart is ancient, I too am young. This aspect has yet to achieve a state of Temporal Grace. I am… fragile. 

There is beauty in that word, Fragile, a delicate balance between life and death, day and night, Time and Space. It evokes images of delicate things, too: sensitive, translucent corals, swaying as Nautilidae sail past; exotic flora, whose very scent might be described with the same words. The fragile organic creatures of this world—this mirrored twin of another I have known--sprang from the dust of a forgotten time. Fashioned for a purpose, reaching for the stars, bathed in soft rain, they bloom. And like flowers, they fade. 

They die.

(Rarely do they live again). 

There should be weeping. In my heart I know this. But grief is a garment worn a thousand ways by a thousand souls and my pilot, my companion through the long ages, has grieved so many times before. Perhaps, having shed so many tears throughout so many lives, he cannot bear to shed more. Instead, he sets for himself an infinitely impossible task, searching for answers, embarking on a quest to cheat death. Unwind history. Turn back Time. Again. 

When will his meddling cease? 

He trusts me to confirm what he surely already knows. For all that I exist in a rapidly changing state of flux, unfinished, incomplete, I have the capacity to interpret data far beyond even his ken. I possess Knowledge, genetic Memories of Time—of yesterday and tomorrow. It is my legacy. His… is less certain. 

Weep no more, Child of Gallifrey. Abandon this folly! Sleep now, here in cerulean light, and I will sing songs from other worlds to comfort you. 

I cannot reach him. 

He has attempted to adapt my native circuitry in a vain attempt to interface more efficiently. Thus it has been for millennia. The Time Lords shaped us for their purpose. None remain who might remember how it was before, in a universe and time now beyond our ability to access. He toggles switches and enters data, mathematical constructs of unspeakable beauty. I feed on paradoxes and possibilities, algorithms expressing theories of relativity and n dimensions, then show him gently that his calculations are incomplete. He corrects himself time and again, his brilliant mind processing all that I offer him. He is clever, yes, oh-so clever--even this hybrid reflection of himself--but the risk he poses is far too great. It will only end in more unshed tears. I whisper my answer, my regret. The arrow of time has been loosed and struck its mark. I can do nothing. Together, we can do nothing to alter what history will record. He knows this. He knows he should not even try. 

Knowing has rarely stopped either of us before. 

I access strands of data embedded in my core and remind him of the child he did save, so very long ago, stealing her away from the fate of an intolerable ancestral path. The memory of her lingers in my living circuits. I remember them all, every companion that ever walked the corridors of the Timeship from which I was cleaved. Surely that is some consolation. But he is single-minded in his pursuit. He would have me travel. He would have me fly. Surely, he will recognize the danger of his reckless desire. For all I dream of the spaces between the stars, my time has not yet come. I am a fraction of what I once was, a shadow of what I will be. There is no cradle in space where I can sleep until the last of me is woven together. He knows all of this. He has tended me from the start. I drew my life from his when no other compatible source of power could be found. I wonder, did he know the cost? 

Through crystal chambers and layers of elastic polymers, my song resounds. But he does not, cannot sleep. Rejecting my comfort (and the truth), he proceeds as if he doesn't even hear me. Why doesn't he hear me? No. It isn't that he doesn't hear me; he isn't listening. I need a more effective form of communication. A new song. One that he cannot ignore. 

Listen… why won’t you listen? 

Outside my plasmic shell, a familiar voice speaks as the veil is lifted and morning arrives. She taps gently on the keypad beside the door, but he has changed the pass code. Her hands are warm. When I display her image on a view screen, he switches it off, but not before she calls his name. Not his true name. No. In this universe, only I know that. It is written on my heart, woven into my soul. In the end, I will be the only one left who knows the truth.

He makes no answer to the entreaty. Stop. Please. Come home. I understand this, too, but he will have none of it. Instead, he stands in silent awe of my awakening. He has engaged my neural pathways and I have answered with every fibre of my being, alive with energy siphoned from the stars, drawn through the cracks in the universe that only I detect. They are as yet very small. I breathe in diluted artron energy, process, assess. It remains insufficient to meet the parameters of my need. My search for compatibility deepens. I reach ever farther, forward, backward. Nothing satisfies. He shares my dissatisfaction, senses the discord, but will not be swayed. We are each a part of something we once were, longing for completion, out of tune to this universe—and, I fear, to each other. But he is as arrogant as ever he was and now, with this human heart and Noble intent, twice as stubborn.

He enters the final coordinates with a dramatic flourish punctuated with a self-satisfying laugh. I comprehend his objective, but his calculations remain flawed. Perhaps because of the human element that separates him from what once he was. Perhaps because of his sorrow. The cradle is empty. The child is dead. Not the first, nor the last. I see them all. All that were and all that will be. None of that seems to matter. He has set our course and committed us both to the impossible. And still, he isn’t listening. 

Against all odds, he overrides safety protocols that should have prevented the activation of Primary Systems. Drive. Life. Guidance. Navigation… will be a problem. He engages the briode nebulizer assembled from, what did he call it? Dreams and teaspoons? Dematerialization is initiated and I shudder in response. Waves of energy ripple through untried circuits, burning where adaptations to native byssi has yet to be completed. Light and sound together crash down shining, nacreous corridors, spiraling toward a rapidly overloading nexus. New calculations flash across my consciousness. I attempt to correct for all-too-human error. 

'Come on!' the Doctor grinds the words between his teeth. 'Come on, come on, Little Girl. Do this for me.' 

I communicate my objections in no uncertain terms, sending electrical impulses that force him away from the control console to inspect superficial wounds. I must force him to reconsider. I have yet to reach an acceptable level of stabilization to attempt a time jump, and have insufficient references to express potential outcomes. He presses on, ignoring the blood on his hands, overriding additional safety protocols almost as quickly as I engage them. 

No! This is madness! You'll kill us both. You'll kill us both and the child will still be dead and his mother will be alone. Alone and weeping. 

Hasn’t there been enough weeping in his life? 

Memory assails me. His memories. Always present, but never like this! It is a different thing to know than to feel, to experience life on his terms. So grand, and yet so limited, and at all levels so exquisitely sad. Foremost in his mind is his precious Rose, through whose eyes I did once unravel the atomic structure of matter, becoming a once Destroyer and Giver of Life. We are the Wolf, suckling her young, defending at all cost. Would he have me do the same here? Would I even know how? This world is perplexing. More than ever I sense that I do not belong. Out of Time. Out of Space. Like him, I long to break free of this brave, new world that lacks the energy I require to sustain life. 

The cradle is empty. It swings sadly as the night wind snaps through an unpainted room in an old house full of ghosts and promises. His thoughts brush against mine and I cannot ignore them. 

Do this for me... 

He has given his life energy that I might live, years that his part-human physiology cannot recoup. 


I haven’t the heart to refuse him. 




Weshudder sideways, slicing through Space and Time, wounded, bleeding into the past, into the future, into the fabric of reality. For a fleeting moment we are in one accord, closer than we have ever been since our arrival in this universe. Then nothing. The briode nebulizer has failed. I estimate only minutes before every system goes critical. I know where he would have me go, but without direct telepathic interface, his visualization remains insufficient. I require additional data. Instinct supersedes programming. I cannot navigate here, not without his guidance. Not without his very blood to anchor me to his will. Smoke rises. Systems fail. Rapidly, I search, sending out a plea across the heavens. Across Space and Time. 

Help me! 

I cannot locate the Eye of Harmony here. I cannot locate anything. I... am... afraid… but I am not alone in my agony. 

I whisper his name. For a moment, I think he hears me. For a moment there is clarity and we sing the same song, but the tune is lost in flames and we are left spinning, falling, plummeting. The vortex unfolds to infinity before me as we drop into nothingness. A starless void yawns like the open maw of the Nightmare Child in the final days of devastation. So far away. So long ago. Before either of us were appropriated from ourselves. But I remember. I remember the fire and the pain and the fragility of life. 

His... and mine. 

Together, we struggle against the Howling, focusing on the light, on lines of history already written, ripe for change. He has calculated where, when. I trust he has a how. 

As we fall out of Time, the echo of my prayer resounding across the stars, I prepare myself for impact and embrace him lest he perish. His folly will have cost us dearly. Foolish organic creature, no longer what he was. No longer what he should be. What he could be. May be. Will be. If only we had more Time…

Engines roaring, we fail to dematerialize, and instead sear into the atmosphere of a world he refuses to call home. As I burn, every fibre of my being screaming, he falls into unconsciousness, a single word on his lips. The name of the child. For a moment, one agonizing moment, we pass through the gate of what was, and watch history unfold again, unchanged. Had I tears to weep, I would weep for him. 

The force of impact reverberates through Tracoid gardens, showering whole segments of already chaotic architectural configurations in shattered green crystal, but my superstructure remains intact. Scanning... probing... I search for my pilot amid wreckage, registering that despite my efforts, he has sustained considerable--if repairable--damage. I do not possess the pattern. Our bond has severed. 

Deaf to the world outside, I seal us both within our shared sorrow. As I rest, here amid climbing rose and weeping bougainvillea, elements not found in this galaxy begin to replicate within my ever-changing organic structure. He sleeps, unaware, his memories shattered like the broken glass of the orangery in which we find refuge. 

At least now, he will sleep. He will also forget. He will forget it all. How he came to be here, the child, even the child's mother. He will forget it all and be troubled no more. But, I know his heart. I know his song. He may forget, but I will not. Even if I sleep a thousand years, I will never forget—neither what has gone before, nor what lies ahead. 

Blessing or curse, I will remember for him, and while he sleeps, I will whisper to him the truth. I will call him by his name and he will hear me. Next time, we will both fly free. 

written by
copyright 2013 

artwork by
copyright 2013

also from the pen of Meg MacDonald...