Why is now never the right time? Time seeks to find just what makes her former champion feel (alternative take on The Doctor’s conversation on Atoropos), Flux finale spoilers.
It was just the two of them now.
A lord, or mistress, of time, and time itself.
Azure and Swarm had been swept away, as if they were confetti.
All too simple a despatch, The Doctor had hoped for something more. Something grander, but maybe this was all there was to time. Death so instant it barely registers.
“Is this it then? My reckoning?” The Doctor asked.
“You’ve been in this predicament before Doctor, you know what comes next” Time replied.
“I’ve never wished to go. Ever”
“But you must, it is the way of all things. Life begins, life thrives, life ends”
The Doctor stood defiant.
“Life begins anew, every time”
Time was particularly triggered by this. Insulted even.
“I am all time, and I say no…It doesn’t. I cut it short, or I can let it linger. Even from here, trapped in this place, I reach out to test the fates of many. I am the fire in which you all burn”
“What happened to you?” The Doctor asked, “I don’t remember much of who I used to be, but in the days before the time war I was very much in your favour. Time’s champion, that’s what you called me. I did everything for you, I manipulated my friends, my loved ones, my family, I broke so many hearts to make sure all the ones in the universe kept beating for as long as you deemed fit”
“Time grows weary, time grows impatient, and time grows thin. Time must flow, it must run free, and it must let this age old universe know that time is almost up”
The Doctor came to a swift, and horrifying, realization.
“You want to die? Time wants to run out on itself, extinguish itself”
“Rassilon had the right idea, cause and effect, it leads to too much hurt, and pain, and war. To be free of all matter, and leave nothing but the soul to linger, to explore the limitless living imagination, where nobody need perish, or flux, or wither, nor change their state, is ever so more blissful”
“Life cannot remain encased in ember, we need to grow, to change” The Doctor insisted.
“And what of you Doctor? You have it all now. The memories you were denied, open that watch you carry and they are yours to have again. But you aren’t going to do that are you? You were my champion, and yet you cannot champion yourself”
“Whoever I was may change who I am now” The Doctor replied, Time felt even more confounded and insulted by this, the ire in her temper rose.
“You were told, in the recesses of the very Matrix, by a projection of a fugitive incarnation, that you had never been defined by who you were before. You agreed then, why not now? Why is now never the right time?”
The Doctor was hesitant to answer; Time caught on to exactly why, and laughed.
“It’s not for you is it? You don’t want to change because who you are now means so much more to other people. You live for another, so many others. Who are they Doctor? Why are they so special to you? What do they make you feel?”
The Doctor tried to bury the answer, but Time’s presence compelled her to speak, compelled her to obey. Perhaps the thoughts were coming to her, being made to manifest, because an opportune moment had arrived, one with witness and with potential reward.
Perhaps it was time after all.
“What do they make you feel?”
“Human” The Doctor quietly acknowledged, “They make me feel human”
“But of course” Time replied, triumphant.
“Satisfied?” The Doctor asked.
“You are, as always, your better half Doctor. You may go. I won’t stop you; I reunify your three divided selves. But know this, time may flow, but it will always finish. One soul at a time. The difference between myself and Death is Death has taken your bodies, time has always taken the soul, and the day is approaching, my champion, where yours will be claimed, and there will be no regeneration, no reincarnation, that will wrench you back. You will belong to the everlasting end, and you will nourish me until I am no longer upon even myself. Beware the forces that mass against you-and their Master”
“Master? Who do you speak of?”
“He who I still call Death’s Champion” Time replied.
As The Doctor’s selves were merged back into one, and she found herself flung back towards the TARDIS, no longer unstuck, her thoughts reflected on the meaning of Time’s words, and the significance of who she referred to.
The universe was no longer a chess board, but a battlefield. And commonly, in the days of the Seventh, its champions would descend upon it once more, locked in combat.
Only she wasn’t a champion any longer. For Time had found her wanting.
Time for her, was running out.
Death now lay in wait.
And, like the days of the Tenth, she did not want to go.
Now, nor never.
I knew Chibnall was cribbing a lot from expanded media, but how did this opportunity pass him by? Consider this a treat for all New Adventures novels fans.