I flicked on the sonic, lighting the way by its orange glow, leading us back to the engine bay, and the Chamber of Eternity. We hesitated outside the door – or that is to say, I did. I didn’t know what I was about to see. Nor did I want to.
I heard it, before anything else. The same moment the hatch had swung even marginally open, we heard it. That primal, agonised howl that pierced the soul and cast ice in its wake, never halting, never ceasing, echoing throughout the eons and across the parallels. If all else ceased to exist, that scream would still remain.
I gritted my teeth and stepped into the room, making sure that Ethereal and Lady Zephyros joined me.
Angel Demon was still contained inside Morpheus’ time field, and had hardly moved since I’d left. They had adopted the pose of crucifixion, head tipped back and mouth agape, wailing an infinite death throe. Their body was convulsing and racked in spasms of agony, but, due to the time dilation, they happened so slowly as to barely happen at all.
I endured their endless, tortuous note as long I could, in so doing keeping the others here as well. Then, at last, I swept from the room, allowed them out, and slammed the door closed. Even though the sound was stopped, still, we heard it. Scratched into my ear drums forevermore and carved into the surface of the universe.
I found my voice at last.
“Do you see?”
Two separate shakes of one similar head.
“Before I sent away the rest of CAUSE, I trapped Angel Demon in an entirely separate time field, generated by my engines. When they went in, they were alive, and would be quite literally until the end of time. Thanks to your intervention, E, Angel Demon is now also dead – and has been for about two years.”
“And unfortunate AD here perceives both.”
Morpheus will not let up his consumption, nor would I know how to do such a thing. Angel Demon shall be perpetually confined to a place outside Time, where there exists little more than the greatest insanity, the deepest level to madness, of a conflicted mind caught between existent, and not. A mind cannot, is not built to cope when it is both alive and dead. There are memories there, an entire two years of life to prove it, overlaying what should by now be a long-standing empty space in the continuum.
And somehow, both are true. This, my dears, is Schrödinger’s theory made real. Angel Demon actually can be perceived as both alive, and dead, and it is all AD has left to do but to scream.
I fixed Ethereal with a very level, very pointed, and very cold glare.
I received in turn an obvious so what? gesture.
“A perfect tormentor. You take the damage inflicted upon you, and gift it to somebody else.”
E: You say that like I’m supposed to care.
E: What?! What kind of sympathy are you expecting here? I hated that ship, I hated that crew, I hated that indecisive unholy thing the most. And I hated those two wasted years looking for you. I thought I was free from my Father, and in for some grand adventure. Did you know the Daleks had you down as some nightmare war hero, some walking doomsday weapon? Not the glorified lost little boy, who’s only made it this far by luck alone.
I recoiled from her. “Wow. You know, you’re right about what you said earlier. People do change, although it doesn’t take 1500 years and twelve regenerations to learn that. All I needed was the time between the Riptide medical bay, and right now.”
A grotesque and terrible smirk then lined her face.
E: Got you good, didn’t I? I saw enough parallels to know that to get through to you, all it took was a helpless victim, and a cry for help. You may be a hapless and fortunate idiot, HH, but you do deliver. Now there’s no Riptide, no bandits, and Angel Demon gets my headaches. Finally, the universe cuts me a break.
“That’s what you think,” I muttered. “Perhaps I didn’t get across the severity, of the situation. My TARDIS is now infected with parallel probabilities and possibilities. I’m not going to stand here and explain to you why that’s such a bad thing, but there’s a reason we Timelords never perfected the means to travel between different worlds. Time travel within one universe is complicated enough. What you’ve done to Angel Demon, and so to my engines, has the unstoppable and downright certain capacity to break this time machine. And when a time machine breaks, things tend to go wrong…on an apocalyptic scale.”
I felt it, then. The floodgates had not opened, but permitted enough flashes of anger, and I had my first taste of it. FutureHH’s astronomical glare. When the fire and fury of an infinite and merciless universe roars through your chest, and your eyes blaze like new-born galaxies.
Ethereal took a step back.
“Anyway. Doesn’t matter anymore. Too late for you anyway. But you,” I said, pointing at Lady Zephyros, “have a lifetime of export invoices, freighter unions, office parties and crushing unfulfillment ahead of you.”
I brushed my hand against the nearest wall, reached out and found a door where there had previously been none. A section of piping and panelling swung outwards, and I lightly pushed the good Lady Zephyros back into the Westford toilets corridor.
I stepped out and joined her, letting the door close on Odyssey and Ethereal. Neither was a threat to the other. Both were equally as dead.
She just didn’t know it yet.