(Based on a story by Tom Baker and Ian Marter)
The Black Knight charged at Garmr, swinging its sword. Despite its fantastic size, the mighty Wolf backed away somewhat from the knight whilst the Frost Giants were also stopped in their tracks.
“I can assure you I’ve never met this gentleman before, but I do appreciate his help.” The Doctor said to his companions.
The Black Knight enjoyed scaring the monsters just a little too much and he almost let his guard down when the Garmr jumped him. It was only thanks to Elena’s warning that he evaded the monster in time.
The Black knight swung his sword at Garmr who instantly retreated. Again however as the Black Knight followed its prey one of the Frost Giants tried to intervene. It was not so lucky however as the the Black Knight managed to land his sword straight onto the beasts hand.
The slash wound turned bright red and then caught fire, with the flames spreading their way across the beasts entire body.
The rest of the giants and Garmr started to flee in response.
“They’ll be back.” The Black Knight said.
“We have to hurry.”
“We?” The Doctor said. “I appreciate you helping us there old boy, but I’m afraid I’ll need to know a bit more about.”
“We don’t have time. I am on your side Time Lord. That monster is using your vessel to try and rip its way into your reality. If we don’t act fast another universe will fall to Scratchman.”
“Well when we you put it like that.” The Doctor said. “I don’t suppose you could maybe bring the portal down the mountain. It’s just a rather steep climb for a man of my years.
“Of course, I’ll just make my own.” The Black Knight said as he created a gigantic portal to Scratchman’s domain.
“I will have to accompany you through the portal. It will kill anything that Scratchman doesn’t want getting through it, but fortunately I have a way of bypassing that.”
The Doctor looked somewhat embarassed.
“Well just as well we didn’t make it up there then eh?” The Time Lord said sheepishly. “Sorry about almost getting you all killed.”
“You’ve never apologised for that before?” Elena joked.
“Yes well at least it would have been over.” One of the Elves said grimly.
“We need to move now” The Black Knight interrupted as it rushed them all through the portal.
The inside of the portal was like a black abyss at first, but all of its occupants were soon assualted by nightmarish Skeleton creatures.
“The souls of the people who tried to cross the breach on the mountain before. If all else fails, Scratchman uses them as back up. Don’t worry though they shouldn’t be a problem.” The Knight said as he slashed at the creatures, shattering them into nothing but dust.
After a few more seconds the group suddenly found themselves in a small dungeon, filled with horrible bug like creatures crawling around their feet. In the distance the Doctor could see a figure chained to the wall, though it was dark and he could barely make out who it was.
Whilst the others got their breath back, the Doctor (who was less affected being a Time Lord) approached the figure who greatly resembled Scratchman himself, only with a full head of hair and a beard.
It was the hero whose face Scratchman had taken. This was where the monster kept him locked up, forced to watch as his image became one that was despised by the rest of his universe.
“I don’t care what you do to me anymore.” The figure said pitifully. “You can’t do anything else to me.”
“I’m the Doctor. I’m here to help you.”
“You can’t help me”
“Well nothing ventured, nothing gained I always say.” The Doctor replied as he lifted out his sonic screwdriver to try and loosen the chains.
“He’s right you can’t help him.” The Black Knight interrupted.
“Not only is that trinket incapable of harming anything devised by Scratchman, but even if it could, those chains are the only thing holding him together. He’s lived so far beyond his natural life span, that the second you release him from those chains he will crumble to dust.”
“Maybe we should still release him” Elena said with regret.
“We won’t need to. When this world collapses he will be free.” The Black Knight said as he left the dungeon, not even bothering to ask the others to follow.
Outside was a massive hall, filled with hordes of Scratchman’s enemies and former servants working together against the Frost Giants and the Griffins..
Elena recognised the leader of the Harpies among them. She was clawing a Frost Giant in the face, and managed to tear the monsters eyes out, causing it to fall on three Griffins below.
Elena tried to call out to the Harpy for help, but not only could the Harpy not hear her amidst the chaos, but the Black Knight quickly silenced her.
“We can sneak past them. I know a secret passage come on.” The Black Knight said.
As they crept past the two mighty armies, down a small passage, the Doctor asked the Black Knight what his story was. He couldn’t bare the thought of not knowing at least something about this world before it vanished forever, though Elena and Yarox found it more than a little inappropriate that that was what the Doctor seemingly cared about more than anything else.
“I come from your universe Doctor. I was once a mighty warrior, some called me a hero, some called me a villain. I was one of the many fools who came to earth thinking he could slay the legendary monster Scratchman, but he not only defeated me, and dragged me to his domain, he made me his servant.”
“Hopefully you’re not still his servant? If you are I may need to consider another regeneration. That’s three times in the same day I’ve walked into an inescapable situation.”
“I was never really his servant. He tortured me like he did all of the other monsters that obey him. Some refused to ever obey him, and were sent into the lake. Others were broken and became his lapdogs. I was more practical shall we say.”
“What do you mean?”
“He never broke me. I have been working against him from within all this time, but in order to be accepted by him I had to do things. I had to bring people from the earth to here. I was one of Scratchman’s few servants who could cross dimensions for him, which is why I was able to by pass that little defence of his. I’ve condemned thousands of people to this pit Doctor. Soon we will see if it will have been worth it.”
Unfortunately as they reached the end of the passage which led to a staircase to Scratchman’s lair, the hideous beast Garmr came smashing through the wall nearest the staircase and it wasn’t alone.
Ammit having escaped its cave being flooded had managed smash its way through the castle, devouring any creature unfortunate to cross its path. (Or rather fortunate given the circumstances.)
The two giants approached the time travellers and their companions cautiously, with both being terrified of the Black Knights sword.
“Now, now doggie, you know what happened the last time.” The Black Knight said as he nudged his sword forward, causing both monsters to back away slightly.
After a few more minutes however, neither beast backed down and so the Black Knight was forced to attack both. Waving his sword at them he sent both beasts running, but Ammit managed to get a lucky hit in with its paw and send him flying through the air.
The Black Knight hoisted himself up almost instantly, but unfortunately Ammit managed to grab 3 of the Elves and devour them.
The Black Knight jumped onto the back of Ammit, holding his sword up high, though he didn’t strike it down.
Garmr meanwhile attacked Ammit in an effort ot get at its enemy and though it was able to knock the Knight off of the creatures back, Ammit in retatliation struck Garmr.
“Go all of you, I’ll hold it off.”
“That thing will devour you.” The leader of the Elves said.
“Please compared to some of the other sacrifices I’ve made, that’s nothing.” The Black Knight said as he hurried them up the stair case.
The two gigantic beasts clashed, with both ripping massive chunks out of the others flesh, only for their wounds to instantly heal. The Black Knight kept his distance, waiting for the right moment to strike.
After a few more moments, Garmr was able to pin down Ammit and started to throttle his enemy. Seizing his chance The Black Knight struck Garmr from behind causing the giant Wolf to be engulfed in flames.
Before Ammit could pull himself back up, the Black Knight jumped onto the monsters back and held his sword to its throat.
“I know you are intelligent. That’s why I spared you instead of that animal.” He said.
“Do as I say or you’ll end up like him understand. Take me to Scratchman.”
The Doctor and the others meanwhile hurried up the staircase which led to a tiny cliff where Scratchman and the TARDIS were perched.
Below the Doctor could see what was left of the castle crumbling into the black abyss. All of the monsters were struggling just to hold on now, though the Harpy Queen had managed to fly to where Scratchman was, Scratchman held her back with his psychic powers.
“His power is fading. Otherwise he’d just vaporise her” The Doctor said.
“Now’s our chance.”
Before the others could disagree, the Doctor ran to confront Scratchman.
“That’s not possible? How did you escape my hell!” Scratchman said in both shock and anger.
“Let’s just say your losing your grip in more ways than one.”
The Doctor looked up at the endless black above (with the Castle’s roof having faded away into nothing.)
“Not long now Harry, why not just admit defeat. You had a good run, a couple of hundred trillion years or so. That’s more than most universes last.”
Scratchman just laughed.
“You’re honestly offering me the chance to bow out gracefully?”
“You’re weak Harry. You can barely hold onto the TARDIS. Even you underestimated how little time this universe has left. Your spare hell dimensions have run out trying to keep it afloat.”
“Your machine can’t hold out for much longer, I am the master of this domain, I”
Whilst Scratchman was talking the Doctor simply ran towards the TARDIS. Scratchman tried to stop him, but the Elves, Elena and Yarox all swarmed the monster, who was now too weak to fight back. They all jumped him and for a few minutes were actually able to hold the Demon down. The Elves kicked and pounded furiously. They had waited for this moment for so long.
However sadly Scratchman soon threw them all off (and sent another two Elves tumbling ove the edge and into the mass of monsters below.)
Old Harry resumed his true form, a 50 foot tall winged Demon made of fire (though in actual fact Scratchman wasn’t even sure if this was his true form. He had certainly used it the longest, but for all he knew he took it from one of the many universes he conquered. They tended to get mixed up in his old age.)
Scratchman didn’t like to use his Demon body as in that form he absorbed more power and therefore would use up his few supplies. He had no choice however, as most of his pets, the Frost Giants and the Griffins weren’t even fighting for him now. They too were simply scrambling to try and find a place to escape from the abyss.
Scratchman prepared to bring down a ball of fire on all of the Doctors companions, but he was jumped from behind by Ammit who leaped dozens of feet through the air (with the Black Knight riding on the monsters back.)
Though they weren’t able to harm Scratchman they nevertheless brought him crashing back down to the floor below the cliff.
Scratchman was shocked at first to see both the Black Knight and Ammit, what he believed were two of his most loyal servants attacking him, but within a few seconds he blasted them both over the edge of the ruins of the castle, though Ammit managed to hold on with his claws, with the Black Knight in turn holding onto Ammit.
The Doctor was horrified to see the state his TARDIS had been reduced to by this monster, but he kept a level head as he started to tamper with the console.
The Doctor tried to reset the system, but Scratchman’s hold, though weakening by the minute was still too strong.
In desperation the Doctor tried to schiphon off all of the TARDIS energy into the fast return swich, which would take the Doctor to the last place he visited (Earth, though only in a few minutes when Scratchman’s power was too weak. At the very least however being forced to hold the TARDIS when all of its energy was positioned her would drain Scratchman quicker and prevent him from being able to use it to escape.)
Scratchman started to rip the cliff apart in rage, except for a tiny patch around the TARDIS which Scratchman placed a barrier around. Two more Elves went tumbling into the mass of monsters below as did Elena, but fortunately the leader of the Harpies managed to catch all three and flew back towards the TARDIS.
The Doctor, despite Scratchman’s best efforts was able to open the two doors by sending a huge power surge to them, smashing Scratchman’s weak forcefield. The 6 remaining Elves, the Harpy and Elena and Yarox fled into the machine just as the last piece of the cliff vanished. (Neither the Harpy nor the Elves even noticed that it was bigger on the inside at first they were so desperate.)
Scratchman started to strike the TARDIS from the outside but it was no use.
“You miserable wretched.” Scratchman shouted as the TARDIS started to take off. Though it wasn’t able to leave Scratchman’s domain, the inside of the TARDIS started to return to normal. The hideous green swamp on the floors vanished, the walls returned to their pristine, white look with gold roundrels. Elena and Yarox couldn’t help but breath a sigh of relief, though neither were foolish enough to believe they were out of the woods yet.
“The fast return switch.” the Doctor said smugly.
“Scratchman’s power is so weak he can barely hold the TARDIS in place. That’s only because I sciphoned off all of the energy into the fast return system. The power’s too much for him in his weakened state.”
“What’s the catch? There’s always one” Elena asked with dread.
“It means we can wait him out. We have a few minutes at the most before this reality crumbles, but in doing so, the TARDIS might burn itself up. Depending on whether or not it’s forced to use all of its energy powering the fast return switch. Even if we make it out, the TARDIS lifespan will be shortened by my calculations, at least about half and it will lose a number of features, it’s size will also be reduced to less than half too.”
“What features will it lose?”
“I’m not sure, it’s a risk that we’ll have to take, but that’s not even the main issue. All of those people out there. Fighting for survival, there’s a chance I might be able to help them, but I.”
“Leave them alien.” The Harpy Queen said much to his surprise.
“None of us expected to make it out of this. I don’t intend to go on living after this war either. As long as we helped to bring down that monster, that’s enough.”
“I’m sorry I understand you’ve lost hope against that thing old girl, but I’m not just going to sit and watch more people die because of that infernal bounder.” The Doctor said proudly as be clutched his lapels.
“We’ll never get all of them in the TARDIS.” Yarox counteracted.
“I never said we would. I’m going to do something incredibly dangerous and unprecedented. I’m going to link all of the creatures out there to the TARDIS’ camoflauge.”
“It’s what” the Harpy asked.
“The outside of the TARDIS is in a different dimension to the inside. It’s how it’s bigger on the inside than the outside. The outside is the way it interacts with the world out there, without that the inside, it would just be a pocket dimension cut off from all realities, at the same time it’s the inside that moves the outside to different places in time and space. Now If I’m able to link those aliens to the outside, then the control panel here will be able to drag them away too. I won’t take them back to earth. I’ve mapped out the co-ordinates for them. It’s a small planet, habitable in a galaxy that is mostly uninhabited. It will be a good place for all those life forms out there to start over.”
“They can’t start over. After what that Demon has put them through. All they know is pain and suffering. You will be bringing monsters into your own universe.” The Harpy said.
“Separated from Scratchman’s influence, they won’t be compelled to violence anymore. Some of them yes were willing participants but.”
“They’ll still have the memories of suffering under his rule” The Harpy Queen interrupted.
The leader of the Elves was quick to agree with the Harpy.
“They aren’t worth saving Time Lord. You’d simply be prolonging their agony.”
“You say that, but if Scratchman were really all he was cracked up to be, then me, Elena and Yarox wouldn’t have gotten this far would we? As it was dozens of his servants or slaves held onto themselves and helped us get to where we are now. Let’s return the favour.”
The others knew the Doctor was right, though the Harpy Queen was the most reluctant. She couldn’t bare the thought of her and the others suffering being for nothing. There was also the fact that none of the rest of her kind had survived the battle. Even if they were to make it out of this, she would still be alone.
The Doctor ripped a massive cable out of the TARDIS floor (which he opened up using his sonic screwdriver.)
“Point this at the rabble below. It will link them all to the TARDIS chamelion circut. I’ll dislodge some of the power towards it. This will mean we will be more vulnerable.” The Doctor said to Elena who took the cable.
“Then you can’t do it” The Harpy shouted.
“We can’t give Scratchman even a fraction of a chance.”
The Doctor however simply ignored the Harpy and opened the doors.
“What can we do?” Yarox asked.
“I’m going to need all of you to help me. Scratchman won’t be able to make the TARDIS create a rip for him, but he will be able to send things in here to attack us. They’ll just be illusions, but we’ll all need to stick together.”
Elena ponted the cable at the rabble below, who were now all crowded in one tiny room that was all that remained, along with a tiny cliff the TARDIS was perched on of their entire universe.
Scratchman hovered above in his giant flaming form with all of the monsters below cowering in fear. Their fear was keeping him going for now, but it wouldn’t be enough to sustain him for long.
As soon as Elena blasted the rabble with energy from the TARDIS Scratchman started to fill the TARDIS full of hallucinations. The floors turned into a green swamp, and several of the Elves and even the Doctor himself began to sink. Several rotting hands also began to emerge from the floor and started to attack everyone.
Several hands surrounded Elena and pulled the cable out of her hands, but Yarox threw himself at the hands, distracting them long enough for Elena to pull free and fire the last of the energy at the aliens below, linking them to the TARDIS.
The Doctor meanwhile grabbed onto the console, but each time he tried to reach for the controls, the hands would try and stop him.
Elena, Yarox and the Elves all tried to help him, but the hands got in their way, whilst several tentacles from the ceiling grabbed the Harpy as she tried to fly towards the Doctor.
The middle of the console turned into fire, with Scratchman’s face appearing on it.
“You honestly thought your cheap tricks could fool me. I have devoured entire universes. You are just a tiny little spec of one insignificant universes, with delusions of grandeur, do you understand.” The Demon said.
“No Harry old boy, you’re the one whose tricks are cheap, hackneyed and old hat. You’ve spent so long in the one universe, you’ve gotten lazy and boring.” The Doctor said as he proudly thrust his hand through the flaming mass at the centre of the console.
The others at first screamed at the Doctor to stop, but they soon saw the Doctors hand was completely unaffected.
“I told you it’s an illusion. He has nowhere near the power left to make these things solid anymore. Maintaining this place, and trying to hold the TARDIS up have taxed him. These illusions only hurt you if you let them now.” The Doctor said as he effortlessly pulled himself free from the zombie arms which faded away.
“Well Harry I can’t say it’s been pleasant. It has been interesting, but I hope you’ll forgive me if we don’t keep in touch. Even if you don’t there’s nothing you can do about it.” The Doctor gloated as a yellow light engulfed the TARDIS and all of the aliens.
The light caused the Doctor and all of the Elves and the aliens and his companions tremendous agony for a few minutes. It got so bad Yarox almost felt like jumping out of the TARDIS, but eventually the TARDIS and all of the creatures vanished, with Scratchman being helpless to do anything.
Scratchman looked down at the last tiny little patch of his castle, all that was left of an entire universe as it faded away into nothing.
The monster screamed in anger through the eternal nothingness he now found himself trapped in. He vowed that he would make the Doctor suffer, that he would keep regressing him back through each of his 10 previous lives only to keep killing him again and again, but it was no use.
For now at least Scratchman, for the first time in his miserable existence felt as helpless as his victims.
“I’m not beat yet.” The Demon kept trying to assure itself. “I have minions on the outside. They will find a way to free me, and when they do, Gallifrey shall be the first world I crush.”
“What, what’s going on.” The Doctor said as Elena nudged him awake.
The Doctor felt his face.
“Ah good no regeneration. I was worried there for a minute there it was so painful. I don’t ever intend to travel like that again.” The Doctor said as he bounced up and checked the TARDIS.
The console was burnt black, but it still seemed operational.
“Everything seems to be fine for now, though I we lost about 3 quarters of space.”
“Please tell me the library isn’t gone.” Elena said.
“No but I’m afraid the garden is. I’m sorry Yarox.”
“That’s okay Doctor. I don’t think I was eager to go back there after what happened with the Daleks. It was beautiful though. Honestly listen to me getting upset over a fake garden. We’ve just seen an entire universe burn away.”
“Speaking of which did it work? Did you send those creatures to another planet.” Elena asked.
“As far as I know yes. I’m not sure if I’ve done the right thing Elena, but after everything they went through I just couldn’t leave them.
“I understand.” Elena said. “I just can’t beliebve we’re back on earth. How did you know Scratchman’s tricks were just illusions? I know Pan’s were, but old Harry as you called him, was a step up from that.”
“I didn’t know for sure. I just wasn’t scared.” The Doctor said.
“Don’t get me wrong I do value my life.” The Doctor said.
“Perhaps a little too much, but when you reach my age you learn that there are some things that you can’t fight like death and you learn to accept them. You never stop being scared to some extent, but you know there is no point in fighting the inevitable. Scratchman despite what he claimed was something that could be fought.” The Doctor continued with a wry smile as he checked the controls.
“Everything seems to be working for now. Where are the Elves and the Harpy.”
“They’ve gone outside. They wanted to see our world in all its glory, or rather my world.”
“Well I consider the earth sort of a second home you know” The Doctor said.
“Still I understand. After living in Scratchman’s home it must be.” The Doctor stopped as he looked down at the console.
“What is it?”
“We’ve landed in the year 1998. Decades after we last landed on this island. I do hope there aren’t any people around or else we might cause a scene.”
Outside the Doctor could see the Harpy sitting atop a massive tree, whilst several of the Elves were marvelling at the simple sight of the birds around them. The TARDIS had taken them to the exact same spot they had first landed on the island
The Harpy was crying.
“It is beautiful. It is just like the legends of our world. I never thought I’d. It’s not fair. Those who were younger than me, fought harder, were braver can not be here to.”
The leader of the Elves was similarly mournful of his fallen comrades.
“Doctor” he asked. “When you sent those other creatures to the far away planet, were you able to help the Elves that still remained in.”
“I’m afraid not. Scratchman’s spare hell dimensions were gone by the time I was able to do anything. All that remained was the castle. If I could I would have helped. You know that.”
“I do know, and I am grateful for everything you have done for us Doctor, I just can’t help but feel that it isn’t over. Any second Scratchman will emerge from the TARDIS and.”
“It is over. That monster will never die, but he’ll never escape the prison they sealed him in.”
“I almost don’t want it to be over, as that way I won’t have let them down.”
“You didn’t. You helped us defeat Scratchman. That monster can never hurt anyone ever again, and you can now make sure that what your friends went through in that wasteland isn’t forgotten by the rest of your people.”
“What do you mean.”
“I’m going to take you home. The TARDIS is just working out what time period we can send you to so it won’t be a problem. As for the Queen, well I suppose I could take her to the planet I sent the rest of Scratchman’s minions too.”
“She was the last of her kind Doctor. There is no one for her there.”
“Well we’ll see if we can find somewhere for her. If not I always have a spare room on the TARDIS, though I’ll have to check actually to see if I still do.”
Elena and Yarox both emerged from the woods, having gone off to explore with a look of disguston their faces.
“The villagers. They were just left.” Elena said.
“We saw the body of one of the Scarecrow’s victims. It had rotted away into a skeleton.” Elena said with a tear starting to form in her single eye.
“I’m sorry Elena, but no one could ever know what happened here. The world wasn’t ready for it. To be honest I’m not even sure any world is ready to know the truth about that monster.” The Doctor said. What happened here always had to be kept a secret.”
“After all those people went through, the suffering they endured here and in the pit, and they’re just left to rot.”
“An entire universe and billions more before that suffered the same fate earthling.” The Harpy said as she descended from the tree top.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to.”
“No it’s quite alright. We all only care about the people closest to us. Right now I’d wager in this universe there are billions of life forms slaughtering one another, but does anyone care?” She said grimly.
“If that’s the attitude you’re going to have you might as well have let Scratchman won. I’m not going to deny that the universe can be a horrible place, but compassion will always emerge even in the darkest places of the universe. Even in Scratchman’s realm he couldn’t eliminate it completely. Which is why we are standing here and he’s floating about in an eternal nothingness. I can’t even begint to imagine how hard it must be to lose your world, and I hope I never have to, but it can live on through you. It’s history, it’s ideals, it’s culture. It all depends on what you choose to do with this second chance.” The Doctor said as he headed back to the TARDIS.
The others were quick to follow, though the Harpy whilst angry at what she felt was the Doctors condescension, nevertheless took on board what he said to some extent. She wondered how she could possibly begin making sure her people’s culture could continue to exist in this reality.
“The TARDIS has found a time to take you to in your worlds history. It’s several thousand years in the future from this point. Your planet will have changed in the meantime to put it mildly.” The Doctor said.
“Are you sure you want to do this? I’m not familiar with the history of your planet I’m afraid. It could be a good future it could be a.”
“We’ll cope” the leader of the Elves said.
“If we can survive Scratchman’s realm, we can survive anything.”
“Well then lets not waste anymore time.” The Doctor said as he took the TARDIS to its next destination.