Decidated to the War Doctor himself, Sir John Hurt (1940 - 2017)

The once-great city was in ruins, choked with shattered rubble and debris and at the edges merging with the bleak terrain of withered plants and petrified trees that had been a countryside. Nothing lived here, so bar the melancholy sigh of the wind haunting the ruins it was silent. And then suddenly that silence was broken by a strange wheezing-groaning sound and something very strange happened.

Suddenly, a square blue shape materialized out of thin air at the foot of a gutted skyscraper. The arrival’s outer form was that of a London police public call box, the kind once used in a country called England on a distant planet on Earth. Inwardly, this was a space/time craft called the TARDIS and as the light on top flashing busily it completed its arrival and the noise rumbled into silence once more.

The door opened and a man emerged. He had a thatch of untidy brown hair and stubbly framed his gaunt, hardened face. He wore a battered long brown coat, held in place by a leather bandolier in which was held a sonic screwdriver. A scruffy neck-scarf was wrapped around the grubby collar of a once-white shirt. All in all he was a grim, foreboding figure who suited the ravaged landscape much better than the police box he’d just emerged from. The man was a Time Lord, a warrior who had once been known as the Doctor. He had rejected that title when he’d started fighting the Last Great Time War against the Dalek Empire, but he had never really found another name to be called – or stayed in any one place long enough to be referred to it by anyone. Even so, people still referred to him as the Doctor but whereas once that title would have been flippantly explained as being a doctorate in absolutely anything, it was now focused on one topic: war.

What appeared at first glance to be a slender, dark-haired girl followed him out of the TARDIS. Her name was Cass, and she was a very sophisticated android body housing the resurrected consciousness of a Minyan gunship pilot who had perished when her ship crashed on the planet Karn. She might have survived if she had accepted rescue from the Doctor, but she hadn’t and both she and the Time Lord had perished in the craft only to be brought back to life in very different forms.

The pair had been fighting the Time War for over four hundred years, by their own personal reckoning at least. Cass had initially been little more than a flight computer for the Doctor’s TARDIS, before finally being granted a body with which she could take a more active part in the war effort. Despite fighting side by side with the Doctor, the Time Lord still had a reputation of working alone – perhaps because even after all this time they weren’t friends or even comrades. They fought a common enemy, they spoke to each other only when necessary and if they had any emotional bond they certainly didn’t admit to it.

Four hundred years of fighting Daleks every hour of every day had exhausted them both in mind and body and soul, but it hadn’t been in vain. The Last Great Time War had been sealed off from the outside universe entirely, sparing the unsuspecting cosmos of innocent galaxies from the carnage. Trapped inside the Time Lock, the war between the Daleks and the Time Lords had been contained and concentrated – with the Doctor and Cass fighting on the front lines. They’d destroyed Daleks in their billions, forced their empire back across the star systems and liberated countless planets and saved innumerable lives. The Daleks never surrendered, never backed down, and never gave up but battle after battle after battle wore their numbers down into quadruple figures.

The once-mighty Dalek Empire no longer held any planets or slaves, reduced to a single roaming space-fleet of their time-travelling saucers. That said, that single fleet was larger than a solar system and consisted entirely of the most powerful and destructive warships the Daleks could possess. True, if that war-fleet could be destroyed the Daleks would be virtually wiped out in an instant – but that was a big if, no matter how optimistic you could be. Even so, the fact was the Daleks were the weakest they had been in millennia. If they were destroyed, then the Time War would finally be over. The Time Lords could concentrate their efforts on breaking the Time Lord and returning to the real universe, and from then on reverse and repair the damage caused by the conflict. Word spread across the constellations, whispers that peace was on offer, that the worst war in all of creation would finally be over…

Until the Dalek fleet made its next move, the fighting was over. For now. That was why the Doctor and Cass had finally steered the TARDIS to a world far from the battle zones, of no strategic importance, with no innocents to protect or enemy to destroy. This world had been long-abandoned, every living occupant long dead from the War or its legacy. Indeed, the Doctor and Cass were probably the only people who knew the wasted planetoid’s original name.

‘Well,’ said the Doctor gruffly, his voice sounding older than he looked. ‘Here we are. Minyos II.’

Cass nodded. Her artificial face was a perfect copy of how she’d looked when she was alive, but it could not convey half the expression a living person could. She seemed only slightly-crestfallen as she regarded what was left of everything that had been her life. ‘Home,’ she said quietly.

‘No one’s going to contest your claim,’ the warrior replied. ‘I doubt there’s enough interest in this world for anyone to have even detected our arrival.’ Cass said nothing, just looked at the wrecked tower where she had once worked in her old life before the Time War had reached Minyos II and swallowed it up. She’d been an in-house journalist and production assistant on the planetary news bulletins, living a normal life of deadlines, unworkable relationships and the ridiculousness of the media-sphere. Then over a decade, the War had begun to affect more and more of her world and in the space of one afternoon Minyos II had ended. She remembered that last day, as Time Lord and Dalek ships tore reality apart and the Helical Galaxy boiled away in the skies above. Time monsters and vortex predators burst out into history and consumed all in their path. Cass and a handful of survivors had unwittingly been flung centuries into the future where Minyos II was silent and deserted, with everyone either dead or gone. They’d fled their world in a gunship to start afresh, and that had ended on Karn. Just before the gunship had crashed, Cass had used the emergency teleport function to send the rest of the crew back to the dubious safety of Minyos II rather than certain death. What had happened to Neph, Dav and Murdak was a mystery she now had a chance to solve. ‘We should be at the New Herrickville space port,’ she said at last.

‘You set the coordinates,’ the Time Lord replied, scanning the horizon with a surveillance scope that had once been the eyestalk of a Supreme Dalek. ‘This is where we are.’

‘Any sign of probability goblins, sir?’ she asked, using the term out of habit rather than the contempt which had originally inspired her to call him that.

‘No. They would have been swept away when the Cruciform fell.’ The Doctor lowered the probe. ‘Assuming that gunship teleport was fully-functional, they should have arrived on the planet safely – the question really is, when.

‘You said this was the right time zone.’

‘I did. But teleporting through those time storms could have sent them back in time or into the future. This is the period they were aiming for, but they could easily be thirty-five years in either direction.’

Cass didn’t sigh. It was impossible to synthesize her true feelings, and after all she’d seen and done, there was a distinct possibility she didn’t have any left. After all, she had witnessed forty decades of sickening cross-temporal warfare – easily enough to drive anyone insane – and she was a data-ghost to start with. Was it just a memory of a memory that evoked disappointment.

‘Do you have any idea where they might have headed?’ suggested the Time Lord briskly, seemingly on the verge of losing any interest in the matter.

‘This is where we all came from,’ said Cass, nodding at the wrecked tower before them. ‘Dav and I worked in the production office. Neph and Murak were in security, I think.’

The Doctor indicated the entrance which, though not free from rubble, was still passable despite all the neglect and battle damage. ‘Shall we check it?’ he suggested, already clambering inside.

Cass followed. She was used to not getting a say in things. In fact, had been a while since she’d wanted any. Her family and all her friends had perished with Minyos and the three from the gunship were barely acquaintances. Working with the Doctor to fight the Daleks had been the only alternative to oblivion, and now the Daleks had been beaten back she felt surplus to requirements. The last daughter of Minyos, a relic to something only she really remembered.

She thought about that and felt nothing.


The broadcasting station was in good enough condition for Cass to recognize the rooms, corridors and suites that had once been bustling with living people doing such important yet utterly meaningless work. When she’d left the place had been an unofficial refugee station clogged with people sheltering from the apocalypse, but now it was completely deserted. She’d been expecting bodies, or maybe ghosts, but she felt like she was the one haunting the place rather than her fallen comrades. Everyone else was gone. She should have gone with them.

The Doctor shone a torch around as they made their way up to offices where Cass had once worked. If he had any opinion over what they might or might not find, he kept it to himself.

‘What are the Daleks going to do next?’ she asked, breaking the silence.

‘They have their fleet and it’s easily powerful enough to take down Gallifrey,’ he replied flatly. ‘It’ll be a matter of time before they make a strike. And Cardinal Ollistra is ready and waiting for them with that suicide squad for Omega One.’

The route ahead was blocked by fallen walls, so Cass steered them down another turn. ‘Plenty of Time Lords volunteered for that mission. Why are you so troubled by it, sir?’

‘Because Ollistra rigged the lottery.’

‘How do you know?’

‘I know.’

‘What’s the problem? They know the mission will destroy them.’

‘The problem is that Ollistra has used this so-called final strike against the Daleks to kill two young men for her own agenda. It’s assassination.’ Despite his words, the Time Lord sounded like he couldn’t care less. ‘That is hardly the basis for a new epoch of peace when the Time War is over.’

‘You think it really will end?’

‘It has to end,’ was the brutal response. ‘And Omega One is the first attempt that might manage it.’

‘That’s not answering my question.’

‘Why do you ask?’ he wondered. ‘Are you worried that without a war to fight, I’ll have no need for your assistance and destroy you?’

Cass’s face twisted into a pleasant smile. ‘What else would you do with me?’

The Doctor clearly didn’t care for the question. ‘What do you want to do when the War is over?’

‘I don’t know,’ she replied simply. ‘The War sets the pace, decides where we went and what we did. This is the only place I couldn’t let go of. Or didn’t let go of me.’

‘If the Daleks are destroyed, we could break out of the Time Lock and find out what Minyos II is like outside the war,’ the Time Lord offered. ‘There’s no telling what it will be like, of course, but it certainly won’t be like this. If anyone you knew are still part of the original timestream, they might be living happily in the light of the Helical Galaxy and dancing through the tulips.’

‘That would take a long time. To break the Time Lock, I mean.’

‘Eons, possibly. I could drop you off somewhere in the meantime.’

‘An android would not rot away in retirement like the rest,’ she pointed out. ‘Not even in decadent luxury in the Paradise worlds. Assuming they’re still there.’

‘If it lacks appeal to you, then you can choose somewhere else.’

‘Where would you go?’ Cass asked. ‘What would you do after the War is over? What use is a warrior in times of peace? Are you going to retire and think about the things we’ve done?’

The Doctor shot her a look that could only be described as haunted. It was obvious that the mere suggestion of living with the knowledge of what he’d done frightened him more than an army of Special Weapons Daleks. She suddenly couldn’t imagine him surviving long once the war had ended.

‘Here we are,’ said the Doctor suddenly, having somehow worked out their target without being told. This was the uppermost level – the production office overlooking the recording studio. The wide office was blackened, the furniture guttered and splintered and all the equipment and literature left to the elements. No skeletons amidst the debris, no grinning skulls kicked into corners, no horrors hidden in the shadows.

There was no sign of the people who had worked and lived and died there, hardly evidence anything of any import had ever occurred. She didn’t know why it had come as any surprise or why she thought it would have been spared the desolation from the rest of her world. There was certainly no sign of Dav, his clothes or even a lonely pile of his bones. Maybe he and the others had yet to teleport in, or perhaps they’d arrived decades ago and set off once again searching for a fresh start – determined not to waste the chance of life she’d sacrificed herself to give them. Still, if that was what had happened, Cass wouldn’t begrudge them their survival.

The Doctor was loitering in the stairwell staring at the patterns on the walls formed by ancient damp. It was easy to imagine blood stains, or maybe rusty water, had covered the surfaces. Still legible was a piece of graffiti saying WE KNOW WHO STARTED IT. The words seemed almost to accuse the Doctor and, from what Cass understood, were right to do so.

Cass regarded her artificial hands, unchanging after a third of a millennium. ‘I always thought I’d know what it was to grow old,’ she said, barely aware she was speaking aloud.

‘Life tends to take you in unexpected directions,’ the Doctor replied. ‘Whether you care for it or not.’

‘Have you come to terms with it?’

‘With what?’

‘Not being in control?’

‘You could always try grieving,’ the Doctor said, suddenly changing the subject. ‘It might help you come to terms with things. Embrace the changes, as it were.’

‘And when will the grieving stop?’ she asked in reply, staring into space.

‘A week from tomorrow.’


The Doctor ran a hand through his disordered brown hair. ‘I thought you wanted reassurance. You’d rather the truth?’ ‘Grieving will make it ten times worse?’ Cass sighed. She doubted she had it in her to cry even if her face was equipped with working tear ducts. ‘I don’t want your pity.’ ‘Good. I’m not offering you any.’ The Time Lord took one last glance around and set off back the way they’d come. ‘I’ll wait for you at the TARDIS. Perhaps by then we’ll have worked out our next destination.’ He was about to leave when his companion spoke again. ‘The other Minyos. The one outside the Time Lock. Do you think there’s another me there? One who was never in the Time War, who never had to see what I’ve seen or know what I know?’ The Doctor didn’t turn around. ‘There’s no way of telling. It’s possible, certainly. Perhaps even feasible.’

‘So if the War ends, if we break out of the Time Lock, there’s still no place for me.’

If the War ends.’

‘And if it doesn’t?’

‘Then that’s one problem less for us to face.’


Night fell over Minyos II. The sky was empty, give or take the odd photon storm that was left of the Helical Galaxy.

The Time Lord stood outside the TARDIS, waiting for Cass to return. The elixirs of Karn meant he was always battle-ready, not needing sleep or dreams or rest. For the first time he could remember, there were no battles to fight, no Daleks to destroy, no out-of-control starships to regain control of…

No distractions. Time to think.

He felt a stab of weak gratitude that he was alone. All the people whose company he might have appreciated would have been disgusted with him for the promises he’d broken, the crimes he’d committed, the lives he’d taken. He’d let them all down, all his friends and allies and companions and become a monster to fight the monsters. He remembered an old hermit sitting on a hill, and the idea of what that old man might think of him now shot fear and shame deep into his bones. But as his hearts-rate settled he realized dawn had broken and sunlight was once again illuminating the ruined city around him.

He blinked, shook his head to focus his mind as he realized that Cass hadn’t returned. It had been sixteen hours.

Scowling impatiently, the Doctor strode into the tower and made his way up to the top level. It was colder inside in the early dawn and it took him a while to navigate his way to where he’d left Cass. He found her in the middle of the room, sitting cross-legged on the floor, looking at a set of holes in the wall that had once been a panoramic window.

‘You’re facing the wrong way to appreciate the sunrise,’ he told her flatly. ‘If you want to stay here out of some kind of deluded penance, feel free – but kindly don’t expect me to hang around waiting for you.’

Cass didn’t reply.

‘You know as well as I do that it’s too dangerous to hang around in one part of space-time for too long this far from the noosphere,’ the Doctor snapped. ‘I didn’t download you into that body for you to take stupid risks. Though frankly, the conversation was better when you didn’t have a mouth to speak.’

Still nothing.

The Doctor reached out and flicked his finger against the back of her head; an oddly informal and flippant gesture that didn’t seem like him at all. Yet before he could process his behavior – like that of a man who knew more than just fighting – he realized that Cass was ice-cold. As an android she produced far less thermal energy than a living organism, but her internal mechanisms still generated heat.

The Time Lord dropped to his haunches beside Cass, pulling her jaw so her face turned towards him. Her creek-water blue eyes stared unblinkingly ahead of her, as they did when she was running self-diagnostics but there was no spark of synthetic intelligence there. Her body had lost some of its flexibility, and it swayed back and forth without any response from the internal gyroscopes. The Doctor stared at her for a moment that might have lasted longer than the time he had waited for her to come back, as if trapped in some limbo artophier. He felt unable to move, but he forced himself to reach up and close the android’s unresisting eyelids.

A few moments later her had stretched her out on the floor, arms folded over her chest. There was no sign of system malfunction, of damage or sabotage. He genuinely couldn’t tell if Cass had simply stopped or somehow engineered her own demise. Either way, she was dead and a wave of the sonic screwdriver over her central processors showed her memory banks had crashed. There was no coming back from the dead this time. Minyos had finally reclaimed its last daughter.

The Doctor got to his feet, shoving the screwdriver back into his bandolier. He supposed there was nowhere better to take the burnt-out android, and here where she had lived her life and might one day be reunited with the other survivors. They would no doubt be puzzled to find a non-operational artificial construct of their long-lost comrade waiting for them.

He looked down at the body for a while, feeling like he should say something or hold some form of ceremony. In other bodies, other lives, he might very well have done that but there were only the two of them here and at least one of them wasn’t interested in mouthing platitudes. So the Doctor kept his silence, a tribute to their frosty life on the front lines with no words wasted.

Yet shouldn’t she be mourned for her death? Or be scolded for just giving up?

Finally he became aware of the chill seeping through his clothes. The sun was setting. Either he’d spent the whole day standing there looking at a defunct robot or else time was playing up again – or possibly both. Remaining there would do nothing for his dead friend, so he turned and left.

It was halfway down the stairwell he realized he’d finally thought of Cass as his friend.


‘What about my... about her?’ Cass had asked, speaking of her dead body in the console room.

‘I intend to return it to your people for burial, but something important must occur first.’

‘And what is that – sir?’

‘We have the Cruciform to take. The rise of the new Dalek Empire ends now. No more idly standing by, no more watching from the sidelines. We fight.’

‘And then you’ll take my body home?’

‘Yes. I give my word.’

‘You can’t imagine how little that means to me, sir.’


That had been four centuries ago.

Even so, the Doctor reflected as he dug the grave outside the TARDIS, he had got round to it eventually. There had been times he had considered jettisoning Cass’s mortal remains to the icy depths of space, or to be entombed in cold machonite labyrinths but anything less than the safety of warm earth had just felt inappropriate. Not that Cass could have stopped him, of course. It must have been decades since she’d even mentioned the fate of her preserved corpse. It had taken him a while to remember it existed at all.

Now, though, it was lowered down into the grave in a shroud of Minyan sackcloth that Leela had kept as a memento five lifetimes ago. The Doctor looked at the bruised, burnt and silent version of the woman he’d known for so long, a woman he’d died trying to save, a woman he’d brought back to life to share his suffering against the Daleks and the war. It really shouldn’t have been so hard to let go.

Night was falling as the Doctor worked hard to cover the grave. He hauled some slabs of shattered rubble to keep the burial site safe from any predators or scavengers who might come looking. One of them would be a makeshift gravestone which he engraved some symbols with his sonic screwdriver.


As words to sum up a life, they seemed inadequate but the Doctor knew he could spend another four centuries trying and failing to think of anything better. They’d cheated their idiotic fate together on Karn but that delay had to end eventually. For Cass it was finished, and now he could let it go and move on. Easier said than done.

The Doctor dusted the ash and powdered rock from his hands, still reluctant to re-enter the TARDIS and take off. For some reason, the knowledge he was seeing the last of Cass’s often-unpleasant company did little to cheer him. He was free of that obligation, at least and if Ollistra was playing her cards right then the Time War would be over very, very soon. And then what? How long had it been since he was able to steer his course and choose his own path without the War getting in his way? When had he last had a choice of where and when to go? He had as much idea of where to pilot the TARDIS next as Cass had, but he’d dismissed her concerns. That seemed easier when he assumed wherever and whenever it would be, they would both be going there.

Survival seemed so much easier with someone else around. A lot less lonely.

For a moment, the Time Lord’s face softened in despair – but only for a moment.

Then he turned and strode into his TARDIS, slamming the doors behind him and never looked back.


The Time Lord slammed down the dematerialization lever and headed back to Kasterborous. He moved around the console, checking the displays and read-outs. For the first time since Karn he was flying solo, and the TARDIS’s flight seemed strangely smoother now as though the weight of Cass had been throwing it off for the last four centuries.

The Doctor drew the monitor display towards him and stared at the screen. It showed a massive cloud of dark bronze shapes gliding through the nebulae and gas clouds. The greatest time fleet the Daleks had ever assembled, at least three times more than was needed to destroy Gallifrey and everything on it, was heading straight for the planet of the Time Lords.

The Time Lords were making preparations, though – Gallifrey was going to spend years celebrating the events of today, when Cardinal Ollistra’s plan wiped the Daleks out. She had prepared Omega One, a small beacon in fixed point in the precise space/time coordinates the Daleks had to take to reach Gallifrey. The beacon was forged out of non-Gallifreyan technology and Dalek components so it wouldn’t register as an immediate threat to the Dalek battle-computers. The fleet would approach Omega One and then the volunteers Bennus and Arverton aboard would activate the Time Destructor array. The ancient Dalek weapon would annihilate everything within its reach – the entire Dalek fleet, Omega One and the two specially-chosen sacrifices aboard.

The Doctor had no idea why Ollistra was so keen to have the young Gallifreyans killed, but the simple fact was that they were innocents who did not need to die. He could save them. He could be a doctor again, rather than a warrior. Maybe that would be proof enough he could survive once the Time War was over – although there was a good chance he’d perish in the process. Oh well, this way at least he wouldn’t be disappointed.

The Doctor slammed down the final levers. On the screen, he could see Omega One shuddering under the impact of heavy-duty scanning beams from the approaching time fleet. Some of the bronze saucers were already locking their weapons onto the tiny outpost, while others were priming themselves for the imminent assault on Gallifrey.

‘Now or never,’ said the Doctor aloud, even though there was no one to hear him.

The TARDIS materialized with solemn efficiency to one side of the circular command hub of Omega One. The police box was tucked neatly between the curved outer wall and the unfussy metallic pillar of the undisguised TARDIS used by the two volunteers who were even now wrestling with the main control node in the centre of the room. As the Doctor stepped from the old police box, the pair stared at him in amazement.

‘But that’s impossible,’ spluttered Arverton. ‘Who are you?’

‘Never mind who I am,’ he said briskly. ‘Just step away from those controls.’

‘It’s him!’ exclaimed Bennus. ‘It’s the Doct—’

‘Don’t say it!’ the Time Lord barked. ‘I’m not him!’

‘Well, whoever you are,’ Arverton began, ‘how did you break through our…’

‘…transduction barrier? Because I’m good at that sort of thing. Now, are you going to get away from those controls or are you really in love with the idea of dying for no good reason?’

‘What are you saying?’ Arverton demanded, before the whole construct was shaken and they were sent sprawling. Only the Time Lord by the police box was able to keep his balance.

‘Look, those Dalek scan-beams are going to shake this piece of junk apart any second!’ the Doctor shouted over the din. ‘Do you really want to waste time satisfying your curiosity?’

‘We have a duty!’ the younger Time Lord insisted, eyes gleaming with something fanatical and desperate. ‘The Time Destructor cannot be remotely activated! We volunteered!’

‘And that’s why I’m here.’

Bennus boggled incredulously. ‘What?!’

‘Because you didn’t!’

‘Didn’t? We volunteered, all right – and the final selection was made at random from some…’

He cut across the words. ‘Not at random, Bennus! Somebody made sure you were picked!’


The Doctor shrugged. ‘No idea,’ he lied. ‘Anyway, I thought I’d better not waste any more time before I came here to replace you both.’

‘Why would you do that?’ Bennus asked wonderingly.

Omega One was rocked by another detector sweep. The throaty voice of a Dalek rang out, reverberating around the hub with painful volume. ‘UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT – YOU WILL IDENTIFY YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY!’ it ordered angrily.

‘I don’t think they’re going to ask more than once,’ the warrior pointed out dryly. ‘And if they open fire before I hit the detonator switches, nothing will happen. Except we’ll be dead. So, for pity’s sake, get into your little TARDIS and go!’

‘What?’ Arverton protested. ‘Why would you…?’

‘Why?’ he snapped angrily, having been asking himself that same question. ‘Why-why-why-why-why-why? Oh, I don’t know! Perhaps because I’m ready to die? I’ve seen too much of this war already! Or maybe I think I’ll stand more of a chance of getting out of this alive than you two patsies?’

‘Patsies?’ Bennus groaned. ‘What does that mean?’

‘It’s an Earth expression… oh, never mind! Just get out of here and thank me later! Go on! Go! Go-go-go!’

‘Bennus…’ Arverton pleaded, before turning and running into the open doorway of their time ship. Bennus hovered undecidedly for a moment, before deciding to take his chance and joining his companion inside. The metallic doors swung shut behind him.

‘That’s it,’ the Doctor said encouragingly, ‘run! Run-run-run-run!’

The volunteers’ TARDIS dematerialized, leaving him alone on the space platform. He strode over to the control panel, noting the orrery-like framework plugged into the heart of Omega One. It was the same Time Destructor he’d seen long ago on Kembel, the weapon that had cost his friend her life and nearly killed him as well before being destroyed. But, like so much in the Time War, even that wasn’t set in stone anymore. The Time Destructor had been given a second chance to destroy him – and its creators. That would have amused you, Cass. It seems death has finally caught up with us both. I think you’ve gone to your fate with more dignity than me, but I was always going to go out with a bang. Winding down to a quiet stop or blowing up Daleks and maybe ending the War? Only one is really me…

‘Now then…’


The Time Lord cut off the audio link. ‘…time to spoil your day.’

He reached out to the Time Destructor’s activator key and pressed it.