The Nth Doctor's companion Silence has revealed herself as one of the alien Voord...


'You're not surprised,' Compassion said.

'No,' Eighth said. 'No, I'm not.

'Time was I feared the Ice Warriors - the Martians. Monsters. Invaders who sought to conquer Earth. Creatures without honour, hypocrites who would kill a child.

'They are that.

'Honourable. Noble. Loyal. Following a complex caste system. Individuals.

'They are that, too.

'I have travelled with an Ice Warrior. With a Cyberman.

'And he travels with one of the Voord.

'With the monsters.

'I broke the Conscience of Marinus. I destroyed that which Arbitran asked me to restore. That which I was told the Voord would use for themselves, to impose their will. I was younger - and older - then. Marinus had its free will returned to it. Both were right - and wrong.

'I suspect what happened when the Conscience was built was more complex than either side made it when I came to Marinus. Now, at any rate.'

He looked at Compassion. 'I remember - because with Izzy and Fey, I never lost my memory. I remember Marinus now...

'And he travels with one of the Voord. With one of the 'jokes', like the Vardans - or the Krotons.

'No, Compassion. I'm not surprised. Even a Cyberman might show some humanity, or the Silurians reclaim equality...

'The Voord were, can be jokes. They can be fierce fighters, too. They can be both of these - and it is not a contradiction. Simplicity and complexity. We are seeing both those faces, this time.'

'Sword. Charm. Staff. They have been given up,' Compassion murmured. 'The Cloak and the Robe remain...'

'You know what will happen.'

Compassion nodded. 'The timelines are approaching the crisis point, now. The crisis here, at any rate. The battle after the Circus, with those behind all this... is still in flux.'

The Doctor accepted that.

'There are other stories to be told,' he murmured. 'The Voord prepare to tell another of theirs, now.

His face darkened. 'And it's not just the monsters who were treated as jokes... Adric, Mel, Harry, Sam... they are treated as jokes - the audience find it difficult, if not impossible, to identify with them. They mock them, insult them, for the characteristics they show - for the simple, easy version of who they are.

'Did they really think they didn't notice?

'Do they really think it is such an easy thing, to wish a painful death on another? To gloat at a painful death, when it does happen? Even to characters? To cast derision and spite on them for decades after they last appeared?

'Of course. It is an easy thing, isn't it?' The Doctor shook his head. 'But I did see something in them... Harry is loyal, devoted. Adric was intelligent, rebellious, artful. Mel is enthusiastic, tireless, energetic - and a genius. Sam is willing to step back, to inform herself - and to learn and inform herself what she fights for...

'I saw something in them, and in Ssard and Kroton.

'And he saw what lay in Silence. In one of the Voord...'

He fell quiet.

'Izzy and Charley?' Compassion said.

'They're doing what's needed,' the Doctor said.

He stood up, and reached out a hand.

'Call the others.

'We're going down there.'


She was afraid.

For the first time in her life, she was afraid of what was to come.

For an instant, stumbled in the...

What would you call it? The darkness? No. Too fluid, too sensate for that.

No time. There was no time.

Felt the icy grip too late, couldn't twist away -

who are you?

A feather brushing her cheek.

open your eyes, child.

She hadn't even realised they'd been closed.

Oh... gods...

Literally.

how did you get here? you are no soul awaiting its judgement

"No."

Glittering eyes narrowed.

then why are you here?

"I come to ask... a favour. A boon."

i do not grant boons. i judge only the dead and inspire the living

"I seek your feather."

what makes you think i will allow such a thing?

"Because if you don't, my Lady, then you will soon have an infinite queue of people lining up to have their hearts weighed. Because they will all be dead."


'Crossroads, crossroads... where do you find a crossroads in a circus?'

'Well, it's not the Big Top - although I would've thought...'

'Alryssa used it.'

Imran looked around. 'This... Hm.'

Sandra looked too. This was familiar.

This had been the landscape of her vision.

Of the point of division.

'Balance. Balance,' Imran muttered. 'That's what- I know. I know where we can go. A point of balance here...'

'Where?'

'There.'


Somewhere in the Big Top...

'Okay. Who're we waiting for?'

'Who said we were waiting?'

'Why are we waiting here?'

'Because here's where we need to be.'

- Oh. Hello.

Granny Weatherwax turned and smiled. 'Good day.'

The Monitor nodded its head. - Good day, dear lady.

'Thought you'd show up, sooner or later.'

The Monitor nodded again. - Our actions... elsewhere... have pushed things too far out of balance. To the balance of stasis and stagnancy. It was set right, by the actions of the Storyteller.

'Regrets, is it?? Regrets never did anyone any good.'

- We do this that things here are set back in balance.

'And then the threat to the greater balance...' Urd murmured.

- We are the monitors of this multiverse's balance. This multiverse alone, said the Monitor. That was the duty for which we were created. But we can help what we are, and do something about it. We are supposed to monitor a dynamic balance, not a stagnant one.

'Charley? You okay?'

Charley shook herself. 'For a moment there I could have sworn someone walked over my grave...'

- Human dream is the key to their binding, the Monitor said. The Powers told you that.

'We know that.'

- And the Gods shall be judged in the balance, and found wanting. What might have been a smile crossed its face.

Granny Weatherwax slowly smiled. 'Of course. Some people just don' know when they've lost.'

- Precisely. If you win this final battle... the Gods will annihilate themselves. Destroy themselves, you, and your web.

'And the Universe dies anyway.' Skuld completed.

- Which is why they must be judged - and bound - at the moment, the very moment, the challenge ends. Sailor Gallifrey seeks the method of their judgment-

'And we've come to you so we know their binding.'

The Monitor nodded. - They feed off human dreams, off creativity and imagination.

'So why bind them with-' Skuld began.

'I think I know.' Granny gave the Monitor an appraising look. 'We've got the prison, we've got the judge... Human dream shall be the key to their binding. The dreams they stole shall be key to their binding - and prison too.'

- Precisely, Granny.

Granny smiled. 'Good.'


'Here?' Xeffy looked around. 'Why here?'

'It's a boundary. A place between two places...' Sandra said.

Imran frowned.

'Okay... but I'm not really sure about the symbolism of a tollbooth,' Xeffy said.

'That's what's wrong,' Imran muttered. '...So, Alryssa went her way. This is ours. Our way to find her.'

He opened the tollbooth's door.

Behind it, there was only blackness.

He stepped inside.

Xeffy and Sandra looked at each other - and followed.


i judge the dead and inspire the living

you are neither

and she is both

'Uh-oh...' Xeffy said.

'Imran?'

'Eloise got worried. Sorry about this.'

'How did you get here?'

'The same way you did. No, not quite the same...' Imran looked up. 'A boon has been brought, as payment for the journey.'

He swept off the Cloak of Audience.

'And I return it to its keeper.'

The Cloak disappeared into the aether.

we shall speak, then.

Alryssa breathed out.

we who inspire, we will speak with you.

'We?' Sandra said. 'Who-'

Wham.


'Oh. My. God.'

Sandra gasped.

42 seats. 42 seats, 21 in each semi-circle.

A massive set of scales stood on the ground between the seats.

One held a feather. The other was empty.

we are here.

'So... let's talk,' a new voice said.

Sandra and Xeffy's faces drained of all colour.

The other woman stepped forward into the light. A blonde woman, in a tailored business suit, a gold and pearl brooch affixed to it.

'Calliope...' Sandra whispered.

'I think... it's time for a few judgments,' Calliope said. 'So let's begin.'


She reached out a hand.

From the other side of the scales stepped a winged figure. A woman.

'Ma'at,' Alryssa said quietly.

one who is both alive and dead. one who is neither. one who lies under her protection.

'Me. Sandra. Xeffy,' Alryssa murmured.

when the dead come, their hearts are judged against my feather, against Ma'at itself. its flame burns in the hearts of the living, driving them to live to it.

you wish to use it against those who would destroy Ma'at.

Alryssa hesitated, then nodded.

you are no judge yourself, to so claim its use.

'I'm a balancer,' Alryssa said quietly. 'Fighting the extremes. Corruption. Stasis. Dissolution. Against the Balance turned Destroyer.'

and you... no. you-who-you-were believed in me. you-who-you-are...

Why am I getting World of Darkness flashbacks? Imran thought.

you are no goddess.

'I never claimed to be,' Alryssa said. 'We never claimed to be.'

you seek judgment. this is truth.

this is known. only those who walk with the gods can carry the burden. not even pharaoh himself could bear Ma'at.

'And what about those who have been judged?' Alryssa countered.

gallifrey has been judged. her heart balanced the feather. you-who-you-were has not. living and dead. the khaibit, the little darkness, has no heart of her own, is incomplete.

Sandra said nothing. But something trickled from her eye.

the child, the caller, is under her protection. her judgment lies with her pantheon.

Xeffy's brow furrowed. 'Huh?'

'That doesn't-'

all will be weighed, in time. that time comes too soon. so thoth said. so konshu said.

'There will be a judgment,' Calliope said quietly. 'A decision. You have taken on our role, as guardian of creativity-'

'You're going to judge whether or not I'm worthy?'

'No. The Monitors have performed that task,' Calliope said. 'Judgments. Decisions. Sandra?'

Sandra looked up.

'You and yours have owed a judgment since your grandmother's time.'

'H-?'

'Not to me,' Calliope said. 'To Ma'at. Or to the Judges of the Dead, in another perspective. The bounds were transgressed. Overstepped.'

'But... Huh?'

'Grandma only died a few years back,' Sandra said softly.

'That did not correct what had been done,' Calliope said. 'She went too far, attempted something that would have eaten away at us. She begged, pleaded, screamed at me to allow it, to allow her to attempt it. I could not.

'She went ahead. She survived.

'She never spoke to me again.

'You, her grandchildren... you bear her mark. Xephanya has the gift of sound, the siren's gift. A true siren. Alisandra bears the protean gift, the gift of the changing form. You bear her gifts - and her mark.

'You invoked me, called me here.

'You called on your father to protect Xephanya. Called on some of my power to protect her, unknowingly. But the Prince of Stories had other ideas...

'There will be a judging, yes.'

'I'm not getting this,' Imran said.

'No? Let me put it like this. The Muses are mine to judge - a judgment that has finally come due. Alryssa has already been judged - by the Monitors,' Calliope said. 'You seek the feather so you can judge the false Story Eaters, judge them and bind them. But no human has borne the feather. And there is a long tradition of what happens to those who steal from the gods.'

'But the gods also have a habit of giving humans dangerous artifacts,' Imran said. 'Or was the tale of the Golden Apple fictional?'

'True,' Calliope said. 'Beware gods bearing gifts. Beware of taking from the gods that which is rightfully theirs.'

'A task? A favour?'

'A judgment. Not judging worthiness to bear the feather...' Calliope said. 'No.

'You have passed through the fire, been tested. Gordon too has been judged - the Sword would not accept one it did not find worthy.

'Imran's judgment failed. It was what you would call a mistrial. Those who called it were not...' Calliope paused. 'Were false accusers. False to this universe - and to the judgment they claimed. But by the time it had been realised... it was too late.

'He has still to be judged.'

'No.' Sandra said, her voice cold. 'No. He has been pushed above and beyond what any of you had the right to expect. All of them have. He's been judged - by what he went through. And by that, he passes.'

Calliope remained calm. 'He had a false trial. Would you begrudge him a true one, to prove his innocence?'

'Again - what kind of evidence do you need?' Sandra countered. 'We know they were false, that they had no right to call judgment on what he did. We judged him as successful. And our judgment's been judged, too.'

'Alisandra was. Sandra has not,' Calliope said.

'But...'

'Listen. You are incomplete. Imbalanced. You cannot be judged truly - unless you were a complete entity. You are not. Xeffy cannot be judged - she is under my protection. Alryssa... is a special case

'You cannot be judged for the crimes of your parents. You have committed no crime against me.

'My judgment was for another.

'No. I was not wrong to decide as I did. Your grandmother bore the guilt for her actions. Though it was a betrayal... the many were served as the one was not. But the betrayal of that one is mine, belongs to me, truly. I chose the lesser wrong. She chose a greater.

'But your mother was unjustly accused. She accused herself, blamed herself, for what her mother did.

'She was wrong.'

Calliope looked up. 'Let the judgment be heard. Elle was found innocent of all blame.'

Whispers. From the seats, whispers.

accepted

'Judgment has been made, the debt discharged,' Calliope said. 'And...'

you have asked for the feather. it cannot be given.

'Hey!' Xeffy protested.

i am sorry.

'There was something else,' Imran said.

yes. the khaibit.

a life for a life, if you would have it so. incomplete, apart. sacrifice must be made for completion.

'Yes,' Imran said.

Sandra turned, horror engraved on her face. 'Imran, no!'

he has offered, little khaibit. his life that you might exist.

'NO!' Sandra screamed. 'NO! YOU WILL NOT TAKE HIM!'

who are you to judge?

'A shadow! A partial girl! Incomplete, separate... Alisandra deserves to exist again...

'But... but I wanted...

'I wanted to be real. I wanted to be a real girl.

'I wanted a real life, not a half-life, shadow-life.

'To be someone complete, whole, real.

'But my life is Allie's shadow. She needs it too.'

why can you not have a complete life?

'Because I'm incomplete. I'm a part of someone else.'

you have an identity. does that not make you complete?

'My soul isn't,' Sandra's eyes closed. 'My soul isn't.'

this is a wrongness.

'Then why don't you put them back together?' Xeffy challenged.

a soul cannot be regrown. both she and I understand this.

'Then do it,' Alryssa said, her voice quiet and firm. 'Put them back together.'

oh, two-souled one? you are more than complete.

'No.' Sandra said. 'I will not take another's soul to live. I won't take another's life to live.

'Bring Allie back,' she said softly. 'Please.'

Calliope nodded.

'Come to me,' she said.

Sandra obeyed.

Then Calliope kissed her, once, on the forehead.


Allie gasped.

And collapsed.


Calliope sighed.

'It's done.'

Xeffy shot her a poisonous look.

Imran's face was long and drawn, as was Alryssa's.

you have been heard. Ma'at said. judgment has been made. call, when judgment is needed.

call my name.

go now. Ma'at said quietly. we will not dishonour her memory this day. go.

They went.

And when they were gone, Ma'at spoke.

he has been judged, and so was she. their hearts were weighed against me, and judged.

Calliope nodded.

they have been found true.

Calliope nodded again.

it was a hard choice. Ma'at said eventually.

'I know,' Calliope said.

'I know.'

And then they, too, were gone.


`Allie? Hey, Allie, get up!`

'Nnnh? Yokki?'

`Get up, sleepyhead!`

'I'm fine, I'm fine...'

Allie hauled herself to her feet.

And paused.

Yokoi was with Gordon and the Voord, deep in conversation. There was no way she could have-

`I'm over here!`

Allie turned.

'...!'

Sandra waved. `Hi, sis!`

It would have been a lot more comforting for Allie's state of mind if she hadn't been transparent and floating a couple of centimetres above the ground.

Allie's mouth opened and closed.

`Oh, I'm not a ghost. I'm a phantasm.` Sandra explained. `I still had an identity, and that couldn't be destroyed till we finally die. So... they sent me back.`

Allie's eyes rolled up in her head.

And she fainted.


Across the ring, a sharp intake of breath.

Instinctively, Sandra turns to see.

Watches the color drain from his face as their eyes meet.

Kid says nothing. Looks away, as the ringmaster comes running.

But they both know the truth.

Some explanations are called for...

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