I haven't really been keeping up with the Doctor Who fandom lately - actually, I haven't even watched Series 9 yet - but I'm hoping to clean some of my more-or-less-completed stories out of my drafts right now, in spite of that. Really, this one ought to be longer, but this is what I have. And better to publish the concise version than none at all, right? Maybe someday I'll expand it properly.
Comments and criticism gratefully accepted!
The Universe was so beautiful. So vast, so complex - cultures, worlds and timelines overlapping, intertwining, stretching beyond even a Time Lord's capacity to know, to flower on forever into an immeasurable variety of harmonies. He had been educated by all the learning of Gallifrey, had wandered the highways and the byways of Time and Space for over seven centuries, and had still only known scant stretches and corners of it.
Yes, the many dimensions of the Universe formed a thing of incredible, unfathomable beauty. . .
Now? Now that beauty lived solely in his memory, and the stories of the few remaining cultures with the awareness to record such changes. Once, far ago and long away, in the Vanished Time. . . Because now the Time War had been and passed again, and nothing was the same as it had been.
He had tried. He had, so hard, for so long (at least he thought it had been long). . . He'd known that even the Moment, halting the War in its tracks, could not resurrect what had been obliterated (erased, not merely killed), so he had tried, instead, to do that himself. To preserve, to resurrect, to keep the Time War from trampling the universe into a mere ruined battlefield.
He had fought so hard to protect the lower worlds and species - the non-time-sensitives were even unable to see what was being done to them, purely helpless as their timelines were warped and ripped and burned away. But he was only one man (and to drag other-selves into the temporal maelstrom of the War would have done worse than nothing), and there were always more battles, more rescues, than he could fight. And far, far more than he could win.
So . . . he fought anyway. He saved what he could. And finally, in the last extremity, he triggered the Moment. But still, when the War had passed, the Universe (or at least, the many-layered, wondrous tapestry that the Universe had once been) lay in ruins. Time and Space were left shredded, as cohesive as a spiderweb with half its structure torn out.
But he could not just accept that. As soon as he was able to work again (his battle-worn body renewed, born again among loss and horror), he returned single-minded to his labors.
Some things he could save, in part - Earth, especially, because he knew it, body and spirit, better than he ever had anywhere else - but nothing was restored as it had been. And finally he understood that great swaths of once-reality could never be regained at all.
Then he knew there was other work to instead, for the Universe's losses had left it maimed. Its endless harmonies - the very structure of existence - had been sundered and impoverished, changed now to silences and discords. It jangled and scraped incessantly at his Time Lord's senses, a cacophonous storm in which even that which had survived could never properly be. No, the Universe needed to regain shape, wholeness, stability, if anything in anytime was to really live.
With so much forever gone, it could not do so on its own - but this ill he could find a way to treat.
The transcendental mathematicians of Logopolis might no longer be real (the ages they had spent preserving the cosmos from entropy counted for nothing, when Time Lords and Daleks chose to pass over their world in battle), but the Block-Transfer Computation they had perfected still remained to him.
They could have been the greatest mathematicians in all history, for no others had known how to change the shape of reality itself by pure numbers. He had already been trying to use their sciences in a limited way - now, he bent himself wholly to it, slowly, slowly piecing together the shattered Universe so it would hold.
He could never bring back the devastated parts, but he would at least keep what was saved from a crippled half-life.
He smoothed over gaps. He aligned timelines and spatial areas to replace the old, vanished harmonies with new - far simpler and more repetitive, but harmonies of a sort, at least. He curved portions back on themselves, doubling and folding reality into recursion upon recursion, to make too-small materials pass and stretch. He switched and shuffled together what could never have met in the past, fuller order.
He patched, and warped, and bent the tattered remnants of the Universe together. And when he was done . . . it was serviceable. It had regained integrity. All its pieces could once more coexist, and flowed into a whole. It was a good enough job that no one below the levels of the Time Lords would ever see that it had not always been as it now was. And there was only one Time Lord left.
But he remembered - and there was a great deal to remember.
He watched the small, so-limited continuum of Time and Space:
The new form that looped back to Earth from impossibly many separate points, simply because Earth had been his strongest point of stability.
The reality in which so few and so simplistic new harmonies existed, to bridge the silences, that coalitions and organizations could easily grow to exist across half of extant Time and more of Space, and crowded together in their shared dominions.
The Universe where so much had vanished beyond conception, and what remained spread, over and over . . . undetectable, inescapable repetition.
He watched. He ran across it - it took barely any time, now, if he cut across the right parts, to end up right where he had started. He even explored the new combinations.
And he remembered, forever, silently, the things he knew and lost - the pirate-world of Zanak and all the planets that were its prey - the whole of the fifty-seventh segment of human history - Salamander's Empire - the human settlement on Pluto - the Metebelis system - on, and on, and on. . .
So much that he remembered. So much that he knew he could not remember, because he had never had the chance to learn of it, and never would.
(Sometimes, occasionally, he held his breath, listened - and thought the Universe had grown a touch more complex, had, just perhaps, regained one more element of the Old Time. Sometimes - for a moment - he let himself hope it might have a way to heal of its own initiative. . . Sometimes.)
He had done his best - saved all he knew how to, nursed it back to health. And he knew no one else saw the results the way he did. . .
But the Universe was so plain.
I would just like to state, for the record, that this is not my headcanon. This is a joke that I made one day to explain some of the differences in tone between Classic and New - but then it wouldn't let go of me. Oops.