(Spoilers for “Mistress of Chaos Part Three” From Doctor Who Magazine#545)
I would like to give a big THANK YOU hug to Doctor Who Magazine comic strip writer Scott Gray for his hard work on the comic strip adventure story “Mistress of Chaos”, not only for the gripping adventure, but for the absolutely spell-binding moment of vulnerability between The Doctor and Graham that inspired this piece. You are a gift to our cause Mr. Gray!
She once contemplated whether or not she was a good man.
Her pal at the time told her she didn’t know.
After a while, upon given an army tailored for destruction as a birthday present, she declared she was not one. She was an idiot.
Maybe this is what this was.
The mark of Idiocy.
She and Graham had discovered The Herald, a powerful alien entity in The Doctor’s image, a creature they had encountered before in Bohemia during the 17th Century. It had escaped the Catastrophea, a dimension of perpetual disorder, The Doctor and her friends had sent it back.
Now, trapped in a logic cube with Berraka Dogbolter, they found the Herald being tortured. Its screams would scar any normal being.
The Doctor wouldn’t stand for it. She couldn’t.
Were The Doctor’s attempts to cut through the noise to settle The Herald courage on display? Or bull-headed stubbornness? A willing defiance and denial of danger to always ensure the right deed was done?
Graham had warned her, he asked if she was being wise, reminding her the last time they met her, she almost swallowed the planet whole.
The Doctor’s response was quick and all too overconfident. The rationale was simple, if they could overcome the danger once, they could do so again.
She could not stand to see someone tortured, even a former enemy.
She should have been wiser than this, now was no time to play the fool.
Someone had told her that once before, in her fifth incarnation, after too many people had died that day.
But that’s who she chose to be, that’s what she was defining herself as, a foolhardy go lucky, confident woman who relied too much on her own wisdom.
She reached out to the tortured Herald calmly; it identified her as “little mirror”, a commentary on its connection to The Doctor, as the real deal assured it she could ease its pain.
And then that pain opted to share itself with her.
The Herald’s mind opened to her, pouring into her like blood from an open wound, a transfusion of memories, faces, friends and rivals of old. River, Sarah Jane, Ian, Barbara, Susan, Jaime, Missy.
Regrets and romance, feelings and ferocity, every emotion the Doctor tried to let sleep in her mind had awoken.
She realised to her horror that the Herald was not just a creature that had patterned itself on her body to use as a template, it had absorbed everything that made her who she was. Mind, body, and possible soul.
The Herald was her.
Graham was right, she had not been a wise one this day. And now the truth frightened her. It chilled her to the bone.
In her state of vulnerability, her mind cast back to earlier, to how they had found the Herald in the first place, to the man whose very instincts picked up on the Herald’s cries for help and who had led the expedition down the tunnels to the torture chamber that contained her.
That man was her beloved Graham O’Brien.
Even when it wasn’t exactly her, he could distinctly hear the echo in her image, it’s cries, and he could lock on to it and find his way to it.
He could always find his way to her.
In an attempt to do good, she had overlooked the negative traits she had within herself, traits that compelled to splinter the Herald, she saw what a fool she had been to try and tame herself.
But Graham? Graham could ease her pain, a part of her contemplated having him ease the Herald, but she dared not risk exposing him to such turmoil.
As she explained what the Herald was to him, the vulnerability overtook her, and she held on to him, gripped him tightly, her warm delicate features grazing against his own, her arms wrapped tenderly around him, she felt safe. Terrified and sad, but content where she was.
For as long as she held him, she was in a wise place, a good place.
And in his grasp, she needn’t fear any future.