8th Doctor
Sometime Never...
by Justin Richards
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Cover Blurb
Sometime Never...

This Week: A hideous, misshapen creature releases a butterfly.
Next Week: The consequences of this simple action ensure that history follows its predicted path...

Sometime: In the swirling maelstrom of the Time Vortex, The Council of Eight map out every moment in history and take drastic measures to ensure it follows their predictions. But there is one elemental force that defies their prediction, that fails to adhere to the laws of time and space... A rogue element that could destroy their plans merely by existing.

Already events are mapped out and defined. Already the pieces of the trap are in place. The Council of Eight know when Sabbath will betray them. They know when Fitz will survive the horrors in the Institute of Anthropology. They know when Trix will come to his aid. They know when the Doctor will finally realise the truth.

They know that this will be: Never.

  • This is another book in the series of original adventures featuring the Eighth Doctor, Fitz and Trix.
  • Released: January 2004

  • ISBN: 0 563 48611 2

Somewhere in Africa, a time corridor opens up, and a creature emerges which appears to be an amalgamation of several different species; exposure to the Time Winds has caused the different parts of its body to evolve at different rates. The Agent has been conditioned to focus only on its mission, and when a being which is not destined to have any effect on History steps into its path, the Agent pushes past it without hesitation, knocking the other being into the time corridor to be torn apart by the Time Winds. The Agent then completes its task, releasing a single butterfly in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. The slight disturbance of the atmosphere eventually results in a terrible storm -- which sinks the Spanish Armada.

After some small difficulty, the Doctor has found and analysed one of the crystals which were scattered through the Universe by the Big Bang. Some unintentionally helpful comments from Fitz enable the Doctor to deduce that the crystals are all transmitting data to a point in the Time Vortex, which is occupied by an orbital station which is itself like a giant crystal. The crystal’s structure has been mathematically mapped out in such a way that its surface area approaches infinity and its mass approaches zero. The beings within are no doubt aware of the Doctor’s presence; the question is, what are they expecting him to do next?

Aboard the station, the crystalline Council of Eight -- Soul, Duvar, Trilon, Feear, Penter, Hexx, Sept, and their Chair, Octan -- are discussing the problem of the Doctor, a Rogue Element who exists outside causal time and is therefore unpredictable. Just as the Council has driven out the other creatures which used to inhabit the Time Vortex, however, Octan is confident that they can control the Doctor as well; they may be manipulate him directly, but with the help of Sabbath, they can manipulate him indirectly, and he will eventually find himself aboard the Time Station. Soul isn’t so sure; he has recently returned from a vital mission and believes that Octan is mistaken. But even as Octan speaks, the TARDIS materialises outside...

As soon as the Doctor decides what he will do next, this sets in motion a sequence of events, and the TARDIS sensors are swamped with a transmission from multiple eras, so powerful that it drowns out all of the signals from the other crystals. The Doctor narrows down the two most powerful transmission points to August 1485 and January 2004; oddly, the latter is exactly as powerful as all of the other signals added together. The Doctor decides to send Trix to 1485 and Fitz to 2004 while he investigates the other, lesser transmissions. Meanwhile, aboard the Time Station, the Chief Monitor, Logite, is shocked to discover that the signals match up to the transit co-ordinates of one of the Council’s Agents, beings which have no impact on history and which should therefore be undetectable.

After dropping off Trix and Fitz, the Doctor travels to France in May 1837, where he finds a group of archaeologists in the Pyrenees. Young Louis Vosgues has found fossils which have caused him to reconsider the nature of Creation, and the Doctor realises that Vosgues is on the edge of developing a theory of evolution years before Darwin. Sadly, he is also on the edge of a cliff, and as the Doctor watches, an Agent materialises nearby and drops a handful of snow, just enough to start a small avalanche which is just powerful enough to knock Vosgues over the edge of the cliff to his death. The Agent vanishes, but the Doctor finds a lump of crystal at the place where it appeared.

Trix finds herself in the Tower of London, at a feast held by King Richard III on the night before he rides off to battle against Henry Tudor. Trix convinces the obnoxious Lord Scrote of Penge to issue her a pass so she can meet him for an assignation, but instead uses the pass to ensure that she is not challenged as she tracks down the source of the next transmission. The detector guides her to a room where she meets young Richard and Edward, the legendary princes in the Tower, doomed to be murdered by another claimant to the throne. Moved by the boys’ plight despite herself, Trix introduces herself as their Aunt Beatrice, and as dawn approaches she tells them the story of Cinderella, rewritten on the fly so there are two handsome princes, two cinder girls, and two happy endings.

The Doctor travels to Italy in 1564, where an Agent appears just long enough to frighten a passing horse, causing it to throw a shoe. The horse’s rider does not see the Agent, implying that it has no impact on history unless it chooses to. The rider takes the horse to the local village to have it re-shoed, interrupting a blacksmith just as he was about to make a leap of inspiration and invent the steam engine. Again, history has been nudged onto a certain course with a minimum of effort -- and again, the Doctor finds a lump of crystal on the path where the Agent materialised.

Fitz arrives outside the British Museum on 31 January, 2004, but his temporal detector leads him to the lesser Institute of Anthropology nearby. There, a bouncer tries to bar him from entering, as only guests personally invited by Ernest Fleetward or Miss Crystal Devine are allowed to attend tonight’s reception. Fitz tries bluffing his way past the guard by claiming to be a friend of Crystal Devine’s -- and much to his surprise, when the sceptical guard checks his credentials, Miss Devine greets Fitz by name, welcomes him into the Institute, and asks him what’s keeping the Doctor.

The Doctor follows another transmission to New York City, where the Agent simply stands on the sidewalk for a minute; though there are no immediate consequences, people unconsciously detour to avoid it without really perceiving it, causing minor delays and deviations in their path which will no doubt have greater consequences down the road. Again, the Agent leaves a lump of crystal behind, and as the Doctor collects it, he meets Lionel Correll, an old acquaintance who helped him in the British Museum some time ago. Lionel invites the Doctor out for a drink, and the Doctor explains that he needs some help analysing crystals which seem to come from an eighth crystalline family, even though there are only seven currently known to science. Lionel offers to put the Doctor in touch with Ernest Fleetward, a scientist who is conducting similar research. Considering the nature of his introduction to Fleetward by a friend of a friend, the Doctor theorises that the Agent and the crystals may not be directly linked as cause and effect, but may be separate, relatively unrelated components of a larger chain of events.

Before visiting Fleetward, the Doctor collects Trix from the 15th century, but as they speak they hear a strange noise and find that the princes have vanished from their room -- leaving a lump of crystal behind. The Doctor deduces that the princes have been kidnapped by an Agent to ensure that they have no further effect on History after today. He picks up the crystal, this time wrapping it in a handkerchief for safekeeping -- the same one he offered to Sabbath after a gun was shot out of his hand in Siberia, and which is still lightly stained with Sabbath’s blood. The Doctor has now deduced that the original crystals were scattered throughout the Universe in order to monitor the passage of history so Sabbath’s allies would know when to intervene and nudge it back on course. But what are they expecting the Doctor to do now?

Crystal Devine introduces Fitz to Fleetward, and then to the Institute’s security guards, so they won’t be surprised to see him wandering around the Institute before the show starts. Fitz notices movement on a security monitor, and investigates to find two teenagers in anachronistic clothing hiding in the main exhibition hall. The girl, Zezanne, is dressed in a one-piece silver jumpsuit, and claims to have been separated from her mother and transported here; the boy, whom Zezanne introduces as Chad, is dressed in a long cloak and open-necked shirt, but simply claims that he was locked in. Fitz advises them to stay put for the moment, and returns to the reception area, where he meets professional mind-reader Malcolm Patterson. Patterson’s act is based largely upon psychological trickery, but he becomes flustered when one of his stage tricks fails to work on Fitz -- and when Fitz introduces himself, Patterson all but turns and runs away.

The Doctor visits Fleetward, over a year before the exhibition at the Institute, to discuss the crystals which he has found. Fleetward, an archaeologist, has been collecting the crystals from various digs, but he’s afraid to publish his findings; he has enough pieces to confirm that they are fragments of a crystal human skeleton, but if his data is accurate, the skeleton was created before humanity evolved and scattered about the world in random locations, as if the pieces came into being in separate times and places. The Doctor provides Fleetward with a list of locations where he believes more pieces can be found; some are inaccessible, but the Doctor promises to fetch those himself. Fleetward thus agrees to arrange a press conference and present the complete skeleton at the Institute of Anthropology on 31 January, 2004.

The Council of Eight are faced with another threat; the history they have carefully mapped out is about to change around Ernest Fleetward, who is going to invent a new form of unbreakable crystal which will accelerate Mankind’s technological development. To prevent this without adversely affecting other aspects of world history, Fleetward must be removed from History at the most opportune moment -- his presentation to the Institute of Anthropology in January 2004. The Council suspect that the Doctor has been interfering in Fleetward’s history, causing it to change; they are now receiving data which suggests that Fleetward is a father, even though he has never married and has no children, and the reception at the Institute has been organised by a woman named Crystal Devine, who doesn’t appear to exist anywhere else in time and space.

Fleetward and the Doctor assemble the pieces of the skeleton, and as the date of the reception approaches, Crystal Devine contacts Fleetward and presents him with the skull. A single bone fragment is due to be shipped from Madrid, and then the skeleton will be completely assembled at the reception for the first time. Miss Devine will organise the reception; all Fleetward has to do is arrange for a special guest to entertain the guests before the presentation. As he ponders his decision, an Agent slips into his office and replaces a magazine with a nearly-exact copy, open to a certain article about mind-reader Malcolm Patterson. When Fleetward reads the magazine, he decides to hire Patterson as the guest.

Logite screens out most of the rogue signal and receives important data from the Institute of Anthropology, suggesting that Fleetward’s invention was inspired by his discovery of a glass skeleton -- perhaps the body of one of the Council of Eight themselves. This has disturbing implications for the Council’s future. The Time Station draws its power from the potential temporal energy of future events; if the Council predicts the future incorrectly, those events will never take place, and the potential energy which they have used will never have existed and will have to be repaid to the Universe. If they lose too much energy, the Time Station will be dispersed to the Time Winds and the Council will never have existed in the first place. Soul has always argued that the Council should become directly involved in events rather than simply using their great powers to sit back and observe; for once, Octan agrees with him, and volunteers to travel to the Institute personally to ensure that events unfold as they should. After Octan’s departure, however, it occurs to Duvar to question his true intentions. Octan’s behaviour has raised certain questions, as have Soul’s discoveries on his recent mission, and now that Octan has gone, the Council want answers.

Zezanne and Chad see an Agent materialise in the exhibition hall and hang something over one of the exhibits; when Zezanne investigates, she finds that it’s a watch, its face divided not into hours but into fractions of infinity. When the Doctor arrives, he finds that Time within the Institute has slowed to a virtual standstill. Fitz decides to bring Zezanne and Chad down to the lobby, sensing that dangerous things are about to happen, and on his way he discovers that the security office appears to be frozen in Time. Zezanne and Chad show Fitz the watch, and Zezanne reacts oddly when Fitz mentions that his friend, the Doctor, has arrived. Fitz takes them to the lobby, where the presentation of the skeleton is about to begin -- and as it does so, he catches sight of Crystal Devine from a different angle and finally recognises her as Trix in disguise.

In the lobby, the Doctor meets Malcolm Patterson, whose stage tricks also fail to predict what the Doctor will say next. The presentation begins, but the Doctor interrupts the proceedings to deliver a warning. Fleetward sets the skull atop the glass cabinet containing the rest of the skeleton, inadvertently cracking the glass of the cabinet. The Doctor announces that Time has been slowed down within the Institute so that certain entities can alter the course of History without causing wider ripples in the world outside. He proves his case by opening the main doors to reveal that Time appears to have slowed to a halt outside the Institute. In fact, the opposite is true. Within the Institute, Time has been divided up into an infinite number of fragments; like Xeno’s Paradox, it now takes an infinite amount of time to cross this infinite number of infinitesimal instants. But as the Doctor delivers his warning, the cracked cabinet breaks and the skull drops into place -- and the reassembled skeleton comes to life and advances on the crowd.

In the Time Station, the Council of Eight questions Logite, who reluctantly admits that, before Octan left, he opened one of the Schrödinger Cells which provide the Time Station with power. There were two young boys within, and Octan took one of them with him. The other is brought before the Council to tell his story, and he explains that Octan showed him to a room full of hourglasses and explained their significance to him. Just as the occupants of space stations require artificial air and gravity to live in space, so the occupants of this station require artificial Time in order to survive in the Vortex. Each of the hourglasses is linked either to a station occupant or to someone whose history the Council wishes to manipulate. Some of the hourglasses which the boy saw were twisted out of shape; these were people whose lives had been touched by a Rogue Element, and whose destinies had become unpredictable. The Council were unable to control the Rogue Element themselves; when they tried forging an hourglass for him, his heart rejected the link, sickened and died, causing the hourglass to shatter; however, with Sabbath on their side, they hope to force the Rogue Element into a situation where his actions will become entirely predictable. The boy then admits that, although Octan never threatened him directly, he did threaten to smash his brother’s hourglass if the boy did not obey his commands -- and he threatened his brother the same way. His brother was given instructions, to act when a certain man said a certain thing inside the museum...

As the glass skeleton advances on the crowd, most of them panic and flee outdoors, where they appear to freeze in place as Time begins to flow normally for them. The Doctor, Fitz, Trix, Chad, Zezanne, Fleetward, Patterson and Curator Pearl are the only ones who remain. The Agent which put the watch in place then advances upon them, and as they attempt to flee, Pearl falls into the Agent’s path, and is aged to death within seconds as the Agent brushes by him without even noticing his presence. The others split up, and the Doctor notes that both the Agent and the skeleton are following Fleetward and Patterson. He asks Trix to keep the Agent busy while he rewires her and Fitz’s temporal detectors to shift the time corridor’s entry point, hoping to ensure that the Agent never arrived in the first place. However, as he tries to do so he discovers that there are already two people in the time corridor -- Zezanne and her mother. By shifting the corridor’s entry point, the Doctor causes Zezanne to materialise in the museum hours earlier, which is how she came to be here in the first place. Her mother now emerges from the corridor as well, and is revealed to be the Doctor’s adopted daughter, Miranda.

The Agent is still pursuing Fleetward, and the Doctor and his friends flee through the Corridor of Life, which depicts the progress of history. However, the Agent has the ability to break up space as well as time, and the Doctor, Trix, Fleetward and Patterson find themselves trapped in an infinite length of corridor. As the Agent approaches, however, a hatchway appears in the corridor and Sabbath emerges, having adapted the Jonah’s technology so that his ship will blend in with its surroundings. His erstwhile allies have provided him with a Vortex Gun with which to kill the Doctor; the gun fires temporal pellets which blast its victims into the Time Vortex, there to suffer agonies for all eternity as they are forever torn apart by the Time Winds. Instead of shooting the Doctor, however, Sabbath shoots the Time Agent, and the interaction of the time fields enables the Doctor and his friends to escape from the Corridor.

Sabbath confesses that he has reconsidered his alliance with the creatures who rescued him from his initiation into the Service. They claimed that Sabbath was helping them to secure the future of the human race, but Sabbath has since learned that they have another agenda, and he fears that they arranged the collapse of the Universe’s multiple timelines so that whatever end they were working towards would become inevitable. Now only the Doctor, a Rogue Element who exists outside the predictable structure of history, can stop whatever they are planning. The Doctor decides to send Trix into the distant future to find out what cataclysmic event this is, and sends Fleetward with her, hoping that this will keep him out of the Agent’s clutches. He thus sends them through the Agent’s time corridor after shifting the endpoint into the far distant future -- but before he can close it again, the Agent arrives and follows them in.

As the Agent departs, the infinity watch shatters into dust and Time begins to flow normally again. The glass skeleton then arrives to confront the others, and the Doctor realises that it wasn’t trying to contact Fleetward after all. As he attempts to communicate with it, however, Patterson speaks a certain sentence, and before anyone realises what’s happening Chad grabs Sabbath’s Vortex Gun and hands it to Patterson. Patterson shoots the glass skeleton, casting it into the Time Vortex for all eternity, and as he turns the gun on the others, for a moment the light catches his face and he appears to be made of glass.

Fleetward and Trix find themselves in a space station surrounded by a panic-stricken refugee fleet. The Agent pursues them to the centre of the station, an old man named Singleton raises transduction barriers to keep the Agent out, and he and his associates reveal that this is the Last Museum, a collection of all the greatest treasures and achievements of the human race, located at the exact centre of the Universe so that it will be the last thing destroyed in the Big Crunch -- which is due within minutes. All matter in the Universe is crushing back into a singularity, including the Council’s transmitting crystals.

Singleton has been collecting the archetypal, perfect crystals which have evolved over the lifetime of the Universe and which he believes have seeded the rest. He believes that these crystals resonate in sympathy with the casual nexus, and derive the energy to exist from the potential energy of events which will take place in the future. If those events never take place, the crystals will have to pay back the energy they have used. There are few events left to predict, but Singleton believes that the end of the Universe will be a powerful enough event that the crystals will be able to use its potential to tear through the fabric of reality and slip into the Time Vortex, surviving the end of the Universe and living forever. But as the end of the Universe draws night, Singleton learns that he’s mistaken; this is not a release of energy but the closure of a cycle, and it thus cannot provide the crystals with any more energy than has already existed in the Universe. As the edge of the shrinking Universe closes in on the Museum, crushing the refugee fleet, Singleton seizes the eight crystals and his body seems to transform into glass -- and the Agent bursts through the failing transduction barriers and approaches Fleetward and Trix.

The real Malcolm Patterson never arrived at the Institute of Anthropology. Octan visited him as he slept and absorbed a copy of his life force, and an Agent telephoned his house at a vital second, delaying him just long enough for him to be caught in gridlock. Octan has predicted all of these events, including Sabbath’s betrayal, and when he forces his captives to the Jonah, Sabbath’s babewyn servants -- extra-temporal entities which are related to the ape creatures the Council has been using as Agents -- obey Octan’s commands, not Sabbath’s. As Octan pilots the Jonah to the Time Station, Miranda tells the Doctor that she’s lived a full life and has successfully united the factions of the far future, ensuring peace in her time. She insists that if the Doctor is forced to choose between her life and the safety of the Universe, he must choose the Universe.

Octan arrives on the Time Station to find the Council of Eight waiting to confront him. They have recalculated the Time Station’s energy requirements and have confirmed what Soul learned on his mission in the guise of Singleton; the end of the Universe could not have given them the energy they needed to come into existence in the first place. The Doctor realises the truth, which Octan confirms; the only event which could generate enough energy to create the Council of Eight in the first place is the destruction of established human history. The Council has interfered in the past already in small ways, including taking people out of Time and placing them in Schrödinger Cells, using their unfulfilled historical potential to generate power for the Time Station. But Octan intends to go further; he has created a weapon with which he intends to destroy Earth’s sun before humanity ever evolves. The Council are appalled to learn that Octan intends to commit genocide, but they cannot act against Octan while he is acting in their interests -- and has control of their hourglasses.

Octan takes the Doctor away to meet his destiny, but the Council are still unconvinced that his plan will succeed. They are already drawing all of the energy they can out of the Universe, and the destruction of human history will only provide the energy to create the Council in the first place; so where will Octan get the energy to activate his star-killer? He must intend to draw energy from an event which takes place outside the Universe, and thus within the Station itself. The Council wonder if he has predicted the death of the Doctor, but Logite reveals that Octan has placed the interests of his species ahead of his own; in order to complete his prediction and save his people, he has predicted his own death.

The Doctor’s friends and allies are being held in the hourglass room, along with the Doctor’s TARDIS -- and while waiting, Fitz notices that Sabbath’s hourglass is almost empty. Octan then brings the Doctor to meet his friends and challenges him to escape, but the Doctor deduces that Octan is trying to bring him to heel so he can predict the Doctor’s future actions and provide power to the star-killer. Octan thus threatens to force the Doctor to obey him by killing his past travelling companions, even the ones whom he doesn’t remember. The Council have already rid themselves of many of these people, who had been touched by the Doctor’s innate ability to twist history about himself. One was murdered on a dusty human colony; one was shot and dumped in the Thames; one was killed by a werewolf; a political activist was assassinated; and an investigative journalist was killed while following up a dangerous story in Hong Kong. Those who couldn’t be killed were removed from History altogether and placed in Schrödinger Cells. The potential energy from the Cells provides power to the Time Station, and if they are opened and history is forced to decide what “really” happened, then that energy is lost; however, Octan is willing to open as many cells and murder as many of the Doctor’s old friends as it takes until the Doctor agrees to do as Octan has predicted.

Octan prepares to shoot Miranda with the Vortex Gun, condemning her to an eternity of agony in the Time Vortex -- and the Doctor gives in, agreeing to do as Octan wishes. But Miranda won’t let the Doctor break his promise to her, and before the Doctor realises what she’s doing, she finds and smashes her own hourglass. Without the artificial Time to protect her in the Vortex, she ages to death instantly.

In the confusion, Sabbath grabs the Vortex Gun from Octan. Now he must decide what to do with it -- and if Octan has correctly predicted what Sabbath will do, the temporal energy of that event will power up the star-killer, Earth’s sun will be destroyed, all of human history will cease to have happened, and the energy from that catastrophe will feed into the crystals scattered throughout the Universe, enabling those which will evolve into the Council of Eight to survive the end of the Universe and enter the Time Vortex to begin their eternal existence as the new Lords of Time. Satisfied that all is going according to plan, Octan contacts Logite and orders him to send an Agent to rescue the young Sabbath from drowning in the Thames. The fact that he had not done so until now means that Sabbath’s mere existence is proof that he would reach this moment in Time.

Before Sabbath can make his decision, the Doctor announces that Octan has miscalculated, and that Sabbath is just as unpredictable as is the Doctor. As proof, he claims that Sabbath was with him in the Tower of London when the two princes were removed from history. To Octan’s shock, Logite scans the Tower of London and detects Sabbath’s DNA in the vicinity. Unaware that this is because Sabbath’s blood was on the Doctor’s handkerchief, Octan orders Logite to send Sabbath to the Tower after he has fulfilled Octan’s prediction -- but the Doctor questions why Octan couldn’t send Sabbath himself, and deduces that this is because Octan is expecting to be dead. If Sabbath shoots Octan, history will end. Sabbath now knows that he’s been played like a puppet, and that Octan has gambled his entire existence on his prediction that Sabbath will shoot him and then be sent to the Tower of London. Sabbath instead shoots himself with the Vortex Gun, condemning himself to eternal agony in the Time Vortex, and ensuring that the future which Octan predicted can never come to pass.

Furious and terrified, Octan vows to get the energy for the star-killer by forcing the Doctor to obey him. He thus releases “Chad” and his brother and gives them further instructions. As it happens, Zezanne misheard Chad’s name when he introduced himself; he is in fact Richard, and his brother is Edward. Octan opens another Schrödinger Cell, releasing Fleetward and Trix, who were removed from History by the Agent just before the end of the Universe. Octan orders the princes to kill them; if one of them refuses, Octan will smash the other boy’s hourglass. But Trix recognises the boys and reminds them of their Aunt Beatrice, who told them a fairy tale with a happy ending on the last night of their lives. The princes drop their weapons, unable to bring themselves to kill her; another of Octan’s predictions has proven false.

Still aching from Miranda’s death, the Doctor deliberately taunts Octan, informing him that the Time Station is now doomed, since Sabbath’s manner of death has broken the chain of causality. The Council will soon never have existed, and thus the Schrödinger Cells are empty, because Octan will never have existed to take the Doctor’s past companions out of History. Enraged, Octan begins to open the cells to prove him wrong, but he’s so angry that he doesn’t realise what he’s doing. While a Cell remains closed, the Station is drawing temporal energy from the potential future of its possible occupants, but once the Cell is opened, the possibilities collapse into a single certainty, and the potential of the unfulfilled future is lost. Since Sabbath’s death has made it less likely that the star-killer will be activated, it is more likely that the Station will be destroyed and that the Cells will indeed be empty. Thus, each Cell which Octan opens proves to be empty, and each time he opens a Cell, the Station loses its potential temporal energy, hastening the Station’s destruction and making it even more likely that each subsequent Cell will prove to be empty.

As the Station begins to disintegrate around them, the Council realise that they’re doomed -- unless History has more than one inevitable outcome. Soul is separated from the others when the ceiling of the Council chamber collapses, and he heads for Schrödinger Cell Eight, the most dangerous of them all. On the way, he passes Octan’s star-killer, and removes it from the station for safekeeping; once deactivated, it takes the shape of a glass hand.

Logite catches up to Octan and stops him from opening any more cells, but the damage has been done. The Doctor sends his friends back to the TARDIS, but Zezanne remains with him to watch as he taunts Octan one last time, claiming that he’s less significant than a butterfly’s wings and challenging him to prove his importance to History. Enraged, Octan orders Logite to send him into real time in order to prove that he can have an influence on History. Soul arrives just in time to watch alongside the Doctor and Zezanne as Logite transports Octan to a critical time zones, where an Agent is about to alter the course of history by releasing a butterfly and thus setting in motion the downfall of the Spanish Armada. Octan attempts to bar the Agent’s path -- but the Agent, conditioned to ignore anything that is not destined to have any effect on History, pushes past Octan without hesitation, knocking him into the time corridor to be torn apart by the Time Winds. Octan’s glass skeleton is scattered through the time corridor, bits and pieces emerging each time the Agent opens up the corridor to emerge; those pieces will resonate throughout the causal nexus, all as a result of the Doctor’s decision to investigate the Council’s time station. Octan himself will then shoot his own skeleton in the Institute of Anthropology, unaware that it’s trying to warn him of what is to come and that he will be condemning his future self to eternal agony within the Time Vortex.

The hourglass room begins to disintegrate, and as the hourglasses fall from their shelves and smash on the floor, Logite and the remaining Council members shatter into fragments. Soul and Zezanne are separated from the Doctor when the ceiling caves in between them, but the Doctor grabs Soul’s hand and gives freely of his own life essence, just as Octan stole Patterson’s, enabling Soul to stabilise himself in the same elderly humanoid form he took for his mission to the end of the Universe as Singleton. Soul promises to take care of Zezanne, and the Doctor rushes back to the TARDIS and takes his friends to safety. As the TARDIS dematerialises, their hourglasses vanish, no longer linked to the Time Station and thus out of danger. Meanwhile, Soul opens up Schrödinger Cell Eight, restoring to the Universe the possibility that there are multiple timelines and that people can shape their own destiny through choice and free will. Perhaps in one of these possible timelines, the Council of Eight will have survived. Soul and Zezanne then retreat to the Jonah, but their hourglasses are damaged, and sands trickle out of the hourglasses before the Jonah dematerialises and the hourglasses vanish.

The Doctor seems convinced that Zezanne will be all right, as if he already knows. Richard and Edward are doomed to be murdered if they return home, and the Doctor thus convinces Fleetward to adopt them; he will drop off two other skeletons in the Tower to be found and mistakenly identified as the princes’. After dropping off Fleetward and the boys in the Institute, the Doctor visits a small room in the TARDIS which his friends don’t know about, where the image of a bearded man appears on a screen and listens to the Doctor mourn his failure to save Miranda and Zezanne. The bearded man claims to have been the Doctor’s friend once, even if the Doctor can’t remember him, and these days, he may be the only person whom the Doctor feels he confide in.

Elsewhere, the Jonah’s departure from the Time Station is observed by creatures with an eye towards acquiring the star-killer. Soul and Zezanne cannot recall quite what happened to them, due to the damage to their hourglasses; however, Soul is reasonably certain that he is the Doctor, and Zezanne thus regards him as her grandfather. The Jonah materialises, blending in with its surroundings for the first and last time, as a Metropolitan police box in a London junkyard in the year 1963...

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • The Council are here revealed to be the beings who drove out the other inhabitants of the Time Vortex -- the Vortex Wraiths in The Slow Empire, the clock-creatures in Anachrophobia, and the entities from Timeless, presumably amongst others.
  • Here we receive a different explanation for the events of The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, in which the Doctor’s second heart had to be removed when it began to rot within his body.
  • When Octan lists the deaths of the Doctor’s previous companions, he mentions a political activist shot while making a speech. Presumably this was Sam Jones, as the Council has already mentioned that she was “taken care of” after being transformed from an insignificant drug addict into a political activist (see Unnatural History and Interference for the details); the Doctor later finds Sam’s gravestone in The Gallifrey Chronicles, and it indicates that she died at the age of 22. Jo Grant is one of the companions removed from History altogether, although she is returned once the Schröedinger Cell is opened.
  • Way back in Interference, when the Doctor was infected by the Faction Paradox biodata virus, Mother Mathara noted that it would begin to show its effects during his seventh and eighth incarnations. Though the Doctor was presumably cured of his infection in The Ancestor Cell, it’s interesting to note that the companions whom the Council tried to have killed due to their troubling effect on History were either companions of the Seventh or Eighth Doctor (Mel, Ace, Sam Jones) or died after encountering them (Sarah met the Seventh Doctor in Bullet Time, and Harry met the Eighth in Wolfsbane).
  • Trix offers to put Fleetward in contact with “a friend” who has some experience of unexpected adoptions; this is presumably Anji, who adopted Chloe in Timeless.
  • The bearded man whom the Doctor speaks to at the end is presumably the Master; the intention appears to be to foreshadow his appearance in Scream of the Shalka, though that story has since been sidelined by the new TV series. In The Gallifrey Chronicles, it is revealed that the Master has been trapped inside the TARDIS’ Eye of Harmony since his battle with the Doctor in the TV-movie, yet despite apparently speaking with him in this novel, the Doctor doesn’t appear to recognise him in The Gallifrey Chronicles. This contradiction has yet to be reconciled.
  • It has been reported that Sabbath’s allies were originally intended to be the Daleks; sadly, this was curtailed by copyright issues. Perhaps as a result of this change, we have yet to learn the significance of the black eye sun that appeared in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, History 101 and The Domino Effect. It is likely the Daleks who are monitoring Soul’s departure from the Time Station with Octan’s star-killer; this was presumably meant to set up an alternative version of Remembrance of the Daleks, but can also be seen as foreshadowing the Time War described in the TV episode Dalek.
  • As the Doctor’s actions have restored multiple timelines to the Universe, and thus the possibility of choice and free will, this provides the Doctor Who fan with a catch-all explanation for any contradictions between different novels or ranges. See also Zagreus, which confirms the existence of multiple timelines and more or less explicitly places events in the BBC novels within a separate continuity from the Big Finish audios.
  • When talking with the Master, the Doctor says that ‘Somewhere... the tea will be getting cold’, unconsciously paraphrasing a part of the Seventh Doctor’s speech at the end of Survival.
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