Dedicated to Time: the Destroyer and the Great Healer
If you can see me now, you have no doubt found the sigil etched into the left wall of my “Workshop,” as I call it. Its desktop theme must look quite the sight: with fragments of poetry and pieces of past projects floating through the air.
Pieces of past projects … that would be considered alliteration in the complex mish-mash of language called English from another world called Earth. It is a place I’ve never been to, and never will, though there was a friend of mine who liked to tell me all about it. He
even brought me books from that world: books, and poems, and films, and games: all to inspire me in my own works.
I was, or I am a writer.
Specifically my peers — much in the way that we adopted and ascribed names to each other — called me the Laureate.
I am, or I had been, the Poet Laureate of Gallifrey: the Poet Laureate of the Time Lords.
This does not mean much. Time Lord society was always more interested in the music of mathematics or games of physics and the crafting of wormholes and time machines. Even our art forms were computerized.
We understand many things, but for all our understanding of the multi-verse, we were still a society and species dependent on a numerological and geo-spatial perception of reality. In short, we only understood our existence by numbers, and chains of equations
that–again–other civilizations would call math or quantum physics.
I was different. Even after my Time Lord initiation, I was interested in a different form of knowledge. I used my time at the Academy and my own Time travels to read the literature and speak the languages of ancient Gallifrey and those of other places and peoples. I even studied the primordial word-equations of lost species such as the Carrionites: algorithms of spoken sounds and written symbols that connect all things, and can manifest changes in the reality around them. They can even reshape reality itself.
Some peoples called it magic. I call it writing on a blank page. Specifically, I call it writing.
Most of my Time Lord peers considered my delving into word-magic and lost realities a waste of time: if you will pardon the pun. They thought that my chosen field was esoteric
and obscure at best, or an excursion into primitive and superstitious views of the multiverse at worst. Others thought it quaint that with a single word I could make an image or
a sound appear without the use of our precious technology.
Yes, I was the “precious” artist of Gallifrey and nothing more.
But a few people recognized the potential of my skills. One of them was my good friend: a man whom I even tutored for a time.
The other was Rassilon.
Yes. I know what you are, if not who you are. The sigil I left here will only manifest if someone of a particular energy–the temporal resonance of a traveller–touches it. I also suspect I know who you are. And if my suspicions are correct I … offer you nothing but
my deepest sympathies.
But if it is anyone else, I want you to listen and to understand. Gallifrey–our homeworld and civilization–made a mistake. Somewhere along the line, we lost touch with one of our most valuable treasures.
The irony is that in our quest to master Time, we forgot our ancestors and their ancient languages; the universes and the Great Old Ones that came before us; and even the Eternals that once wandered amongst us. We even scoffed away the stories of how it is that Gallifrey has two moons and we have two hearts. Do you know the story?
Do you remember why Gallifrey had … two moons … why it had two hearts … and why it was the grass that grew on its surface was red?
This was what we lost: that sense of connection and meaning. When we moved away from gods and stories to embrace equations and machines and Time, we became our own gods with our own crystalline and lofty ideals. We knew all, but remembered nothing.
This is a secret that only one other knows. Because when I stared into the Untempered Schism of Time as a child, like all other young Time Lords, all I saw in the end was nothing.
I did not see inspiration, as many admirers of my fiction believed, or madness, or even the need to escape. All I saw was a profound and incredible nothingness at the heart of Time. And it frightened me.
It more than anything else made me search for meaning: for something more than just hollow existence. That is why I learned to write. That is why I made my stories. My … living stories. I sought to create meaning so badly.
But it was all futile. I wanted to fill that void, to prevent it, and in the end the abyss found us all. We had one more great war: the Last Great Time War with the infernal Daleks.
I learned a lot during that War. I learned I could unleash ancient fear within metal battle carapaces and long dead dormant hearts. I walked into the nightmares of the unfeeling and the dreamless and made them into dreamers. And I saw that even Daleks had True Names … and there were many words for their screams.
I was so old then. I watched as all my dreams and words became scourges and weapons used on other sentient beings. We were the red grass of Gallifrey: so red that we shouldn’t have been surprised when our world and we finally ignited into fire. We forgot our role as watchers and protectors, and in our supreme arrogance we sought to end Time. In that, we were no different than the Daleks.
We were worse.
We thought we were the Masters of Time, but in reality Time was the Master of us. And its heart is cold and empty and as inevitable as the nothingness in the Untempered Schism I saw so many years ago when I was just a boy.
So many years ago …
My TARDIS was destroyed. There was a crackle of light in the stars we fell into and I let the energy wash over me. I welcomed it. Like the ancients, I welcomed Death the Eternal. And as I continued to fall, I remembered why Gallifrey had two moons, and we
had two hearts. It was because, in the end, we both possessed two souls: one to embody joy, and the other to contain despair.
Joy and despair kept the balance on Gallifrey. Joy and despair should have taught us moderation. But on the last day of the Last Great Time War, as my TARDIS fell, one of my hearts died … in all the ways that mattered.
I remember lying in the darkness of my poor, dying vessel: just as old, and broken and alone as I was. Then I let it happen. I willed it to happen. I could feel the milky white bio-energies gathering around my body, travelling through my fingers and my hands as they seethed around me and kissed my face.
There would be no more Regenerations for me. This old body was my final form and I welcomed it: even as I couldn’t bear to die in the very darkness I ran from my entire life.
So I embraced the light. Fire erupted into my nerves like the torrent that consumed
mighty, lost Gallifrey. Bones and tissues hardened, twisted and flowed: trying to find an anchor in some kind of molecular continuity. I screamed with the agony of two hearts welling and stopping … and for one instant deep in the darkness I was golden.
Then my hearts thundered back into beat. Bones reknit and muscles writhed back into place. Flesh settled. Energy crackled and smouldered back into the depths of my atoms. Of my skin. The agony of being born receded and I lay in the dark. Crying.
Rassilon had lied to me. He said that I had my last Regeneration: that he hadn’t restored my cycle as he did the others and only used his resources to strengthen me for the War.
Rassilon. He respected my work. He claimed to respect me. I told him I would use the last of my life to defend the Time Lords and what we had built.
But he took my life from me. And now he took my death. I was so … angry: angry at Rassilon, at the Daleks, at the monsters we became, at my friend for his decision that day at the Moment, and at myself most of all for still being alive.
I don’t know how long I lay in the ruins of my TARDIS or where I got the strength, but somehow I managed get up and figure out where I was. Eventually, I figured out that what I landed on was an uninhabited world. It was a world of green grass, blue water and skies, and one orange sun. More out of a need to distract my mind from the empty pit in
my stomach, I reactivated my remaining sensors.
After a while, I began to realize I’d found myself in another place: another universe. I was in another universe with the same amount of stars and planets. I could see that they
were beautiful planets teeming with life.
No matter what I tried or how I configured my TARDIS’ sensors, I couldn’t for the life of me detect any of the complex sub-molecular psychic and psionic processes that are
My TARDIS was never going to travel again, and even if it could I sensed that the ways between universes were already closed: unless, of course, you are somehow seeing me before you now. So here I was: with new hair, new skin and youthful hearts alone in an
empty parallel universe. I remember that the nothingness was becoming almost deafening … until something else came to my mind.
It was something my friend said, and now I am more certain than ever that it is you watching this echo of myself here.
He told me … you told me, “Meaning is what you make it.”
It was then that I understood. There were plenty of raw materials to work with. The environment was already excellent enough for them to thrive in. In addition, enough of my TARDIS survived and functioned to be made into this “Workshop” that you now see before you: with all of its equipment and data intact at the time.
Words became breaths. Narratives of flesh and bio-energies were sculpted. I worked on all aspects of them with painstaking detail. I needed to get this right. Even when Gallifrey existed, I’d never tried anything anywhere close to this scale before. Self-aware machines, simple thought-forms, life-forms with the intelligence of pets were one thing,
but living breathing stories were another matter entirely.
It took a long time: combining technology and word-algorithms into sentient beautiful beings. The Eternals and all lost stories were remade and retold in these new energy-based forms. I attempted to ensure that at least one place in a forgotten reality would
After a while, only one thing remained. The Heart of my TARDIS still lives. Without it or the other power I’ve given my creations … my self-perpetuating children would be nothing more than pre-programmed impulses: machines and equations in flesh.
I’ve long since made peace with my decision, and I did it gratefully. I am not sure if my Chameleon Arch generated one final Regeneration in me from the strain before the inevitable. But my Fob watch–the boon and bane of us all–was opened and is now placed in the Heart.
Please. Do not try to retrieve it and do not try to find me. There is a very good chance that I am long since passed by now, but if you recognize someone who might be me on this or any other world in this universe, do not bother him. Let him live his life the way he was
meant to: away from loneliness and pain.
The Laureate is gone and his True Name along with him, save perhaps with you my friend. I gladly used my watch and all its knowledge — heightened by my wish to the Heart — to imbue real life into my children. All of my equipment and data has been removed. I know they live by themselves now. I faced the nothingness, my friend, and I answered it by filling it. I gave it company by giving it meaning.
Perhaps I’m no different than the gods or even our late arrogant brethren. However, this is one “god” that will never remember what he was and will live on as all mythologies should: in others. They will remember, and when the multi-verse ends and then reconstitutes itself again as it always has, they will become the rightful beings of pure consciousness that Rassilon could never make us. I’ve made them to last and this — their birthing place — will become a Sacred one.
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and nothing can destroy an idea. My only regret is that I won’t be able to see them grow and thrive from one universe to another. I hope they will thrive. I hope they will continue to find meaning … just as I hope you will,
As I said, I can more than imagine the loneliness you are facing now and the temptation to not be alone. If my children have led you to me, leaving us to discuss this between us, then let me tell you one thing. We have both made mistakes, you and I. But you did what
you had to do. And never doubt one inescapable fact. You were always the best of us. Find your happiness where you can and the meaning that I know you already have.
We are not destroyers. You are a healer, while I … I am a creator: and I am honoured that I get to end my life … creating it. So farewell … my friend, and find your meaning well.