I see a man writhing. On fire. HH, I presume. He is in agony.
Something is tearing him apart from inside out.
Cracks stalk his skin and spit light into the monotonous pall- every color imaginable, every shade and every hue. I think this is related to the so-called “regeneration” all Time Lords supposedly have: the power to change their own DNA and resurrect, at the cost of a stranger’s personality. Something is wrong.
HH isn’t changing. The body is fighting itself and his mind is split in two, both refusing to let go, grinding itself down against the pressure of constant regeneration. He simply cannot cope with conflicting personalities in a cycle of unending rebirth. It’s too much.
It’s impressive that someone even came up with something so specifically designed for a Time Lord. They’re not easy to pin down, and for the most part they’re not even worth bothering with*. Build an appropriately-sized wooden shed, seal the exits, hire a very big dog to sort out everything else and you’re laughing.Whatever HH did to offend the darkness, he must have done it in spades. And then some.
Time to light the pipe, I guess. And use the lighter I’ve been lagging around on the off-chance something villainous might actually plan ahead for once. The top glows a familiar shade of turquoise, sending faint lines into the air that spread out like upended roots. I inhale, and the sensation that hits my senses sends a tingle through my spine. It’s what happens when you step between two very specific dimensions, except that this is happening inside me: by combing the earth of one realm with the raw power of another, I’m temporarily within both- their conflict has created a union, so to speak, which I can use as a tether.
It’s a nice feeling. I sense the darkness around me like I imagine a fish would the ocean, an ocean in which I can swim freely. It’s custom-built for what I’m about to do to the thing destroying HH.
I’m not sure if he even realizes it, but in this form I can see it clearly; whatever’s tearing him apart isn’t made of light, it’s merely forcing light out as cover. Amidst his breaking skin is a creature as black as the world around us, a fulcrum of sorts for all the pain to flow out from. I’m guessing this is his inner demon or something, because I can’t imagine he’d let the darkness in.
Somewhere within HH was a door of sorts, hiding something from thought. All the darkness needed was a key, and HH’s guilty conscience would do the rest, struggling with something that could only fester and wait until the moment he slipped. It’s not beyond imagining that the darkness found an opening- live long enough and you’re bound to leave a few scraps unfinished.
“I can hear your thoughts. Who are you?”
“So you noticed? Fabulous! Nice to meet you, I’m Womble.”
“What’s a Womble? Why can’t I see you? Why are you here? Go away. Leave.”
“That’s not fair, I’ve only just arrived. What’re you doing?”
“THAT IS NOT YOUR CONCERN. LEAVE.”
“Unfortunately it is. If you want to make it easier, I’d suggest you talk. I like talking. Beats fighting any day.”
“Who are you to command me? Here I am all. I am god.”
“Heh…I’ve never liked gods. And they’re not keen on me either, on account of that one time many billions of years ago, so you wouldn’t be an exception neither. Anything else I should know about you?”
“Who are you to mock me?”
“I’m sort of the hero. Not a very good one. I should’ve been a villain, really, with clothes like these.”
“He is beyond saving. You cannot save him.”
Rule one on how to be the hero: when some says “can’t”, take that as your cue to be heroic. Never fails. It’s like the sight of some lonely couple passing through a moonlit pasture to the average firefly. Regardless of what aught to happen, it’s got to happen.
It’s rather simple what happens next. I reach towards HH and grab the creature by one arm, so that half of my arm is stuck among the cracks of light with the darkness- my hand hidden by the remains of a Time Lord shoulder.
I’m sort of glad HH won’t be remembering this…
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
This comes as shriek. I can see it’s confusion as claws scramble over my arm, tugging and scratching, trying desperately to remove something it can’t really fathom, and I almost laugh at the sheer irony of our present situation.
It really is simple.
“I’m buying time.”
Let the firefly strut.
*I’ve always wondered why bad guys are genuinely surprised when a certain Time Lord starts ruining things for them. If they’re doing something so bad that it takes a time-travelling sort-of-immortal brainiac to show up and/or wave his glowing stick in order to stop it, they should be prepared for anyone. It should be the first thing on their list when deciding if the plan is worthwhile or not- e.g. “Is this going to encourage heroism?”- and be insured against. But maybe that’s not villainous enough.