As the Master prepared to unleash the formless Presences...
"Now!" echoed Daibhid.
The Army of Distraction rushed out, shouting their battle cries: "I can't be havin' with this!" "It's clobbering time!" "Tally-Ho!" "FINN FANG FOOM DESTROY!" "OhshitohshitohshitI'mgoingtodie!"
Magic, bullets, laser fire and other projectiles were fired at the Presences.
"I thought they'd all left," commented Jim.
"They had," explained Daibhid, "I used Bokman's crossover portal to call them back."
"Is this a good idea?" asked Gordon. "I'm all for constructive insanity, but in the circumstances..."
"Wait," said Daibhid, "it gets better." He reached into the Rucksack and produced a remote-control-shaped device: The Deus Ex Machina.
"What are you going to do with that?"
"Well, if I connect it to the portal, and reverse the polarity of the fictive flow, I should be able to temporarily harness a fraction of the Glory's power, and focus it on the Army."
"Which will do what, precisely?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," Daibhid grinned, "but it should be distracting."
"Maybe," replied the Doctor, but the Master was staring at what was happening now.
The power of the Omniverse. Each member of the Army of Distraction was... budding, different facets appearing until the Presences seemed vastly outnumbered.
Not all of them were helpful; Rincewind, already running for the safety of the BarnTARDIS, erroneously assumed the other avatars of the Eternal Coward were chasing him, and ran even faster. The various versions of Tim Hunter were caught up in stopping one of their own. And curled up in a corner, a Harry Potter who would never be a wizard wished he hadn't wished for something interesting to happen.
Daibhid blinked. He'd thought something like this would happen. What he hadn't expected was to be affected himself. But, to his embarrassment, every Mary Sue character he'd ever created had joined the fight. The wizard Daiyebhiyedd mac Chienneiennedelgh; Scotland's greatest superhero, the Kellas Cat; David Who, renegade Time Lord.
"Look, I was a kid, okay?" he snapped, before realising that no-one else had really noticed. It had affected the seven Doctors who weren't facing the Master, too. The Thirteenth Doctor, the Nth Doctor, the Infinity Doctor, all mingled with the Sixth Tardis Tails and the Fifth Doc Gallifrey.
"Daibhid," said Imran uncertainly, "who's that?" He pointed to where a three-year old girl in an old-fashioned black dress, her hair tied in a ponytail by a bat-shaped clasp, was muttering "It's not fair!" and hitting Presences with a small broom. Remarkably, this appeared to be working.
"Er, Gurney Esme," replied Daibhid, "From the entirely imaginary 'Discworld Babies' cartoon show. Long story."
In the middle of the battle, Dr Watson was standing in front of Holmes protectively and trying to reload his revolver when a Presence reared up in front of him. He was saved by a plasma blast from, he realised, some sort of automaton with his face! The rotund mouse on the robot's shoulder raised its bowler hat in brief greeting before the fight recommenced.
"It's working!" chortled Daibhid, as three Elseworlds Supermen helped Supreme fight off a Presence overhead. "It's a bit of a ripoff of LOSH #105, but it's working." Just then there was a fizzing sound from the Deus Ex Machina, and a cloud of sparks. The alternate versions of the Army of Distraction disappeared, leaving the originals to face the situation.
The situation being that, after all that, the Presences were as present as ever.
"Well," said the Master, ironically (Ridcully briefly wondered if he and Lord Vetinari had gone to some sort of pandimensional seminar), "that certainly was... entertaining. Now. I still have the Charm and I am..." He stopped, staring at something over Eloise's shoulder. From behind her: a blaze of new light even brighter than the blinding white that already surrounded them, and an ear-piercing, mind-piercing ring that reached down to the very bones of everyone there.
Sailor Gallifrey yelped, and Eloise turned, squinting, blinded, to try and understand what was happening.
Only one thing was clear: it was the staff -- Sailor Gallifrey's staff.
"Did you really believe," the Doctor asked, above the sound, "that the Omniverse would give up without a fight?"
Sailor Gallifrey gripped her staff tightly...
This is what I was born to do
Darkness cannot exist without the light
Or light the darkness
We cannot be whole without the sum of our parts...
Tip the scales
Suddenly the Senshi was gripping a hand, she wasn't sure whose, just the nearest one to hers. And everyone else was doing the same, as if they'd heard her thoughts...
Can't do this alone
Eloise felt the surge of energy, heard/felt the thought impressions. Sailor Gallifrey may be a multi-dimensional being, but it was going to take all of them everything they had...
Ma'at cannot be destroyed. We have to take the darkness and accept it within ourselves
Imran could feel his mind boggling. Do what?
Take the darkness within and be one
He opened an eye...
Saw the silver threads that linked them all.
And saw the chaos that was heading right at them.
But it was too late to move, to do anything but-
No, not a monster...
Sirens are monsters...
Sirens are monsters...
They were monsters!
I'm a siren...
I'm a monster...
What is a monster?
Can I be something else? They were - they helped us, gave us their energy.
A monster doesn't just have to be a monster.
A siren doesn't just have to be a siren, do they?
I can be something else.
I can be Xeffy...
I can be. Even without Mum.
I'm still me.
Things went wrong, an' I wanted to do something about it...
...but I didn't have the power. Knew what would make it right, but I didn't know how.
I wanted her back...
I wanted her not to be dead, not to have died...
I would've done anything to have her back, to make things not wrong, to make it stop hurting...
I didn't want her to die. Then everything'd be okay.
Things aren't okay, because she died. Because we lost her.
It all went wrong!
It all went wrong, and it's not supposed to go wrong!
It should've been alright...
Things go wrong...
Want to make them right.
Want to make them right, 'cause then it'll stop hurting...
It has to. It has to, because it means things are back to normal. Things are right.
The things out there. But what about the things in here?
She died... You'd know that.
Not if it never happened.
You can't make every bad thing not happen.
WHY CAN'T I MAKE THIS NOT HAPPEN?! WHY CAN'T I BRING HER BACK?
One life. One life. Just one, please?
Please, this once? I wanted it to be normal...
What is normal?
Me, and Mum, and Allie, and Dad... that was normal. Normal for me.
And it's changed, and she's gone, and she's not there...
She's not there...
They get all the resurrections, why don't we?
Why don't we?
One person. Please...
I want her back...
There is a price.
I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE PRICE! I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE DAMN CYCLE!
Her... It's Mum who cared about me...
'They'd have to get through me...'
She did. Dad did. But I miss Mum's caring...
I miss her.
I miss her...
I want her to tell me it's going to be all right, to be there when I come home from school. To show me how to bake something, to take me to the beach. To watch a video with me, and hold me close...
I didn't wanna lose it. I didn't even know it could end... and its ending was wrong...
It hurts so much, looking and wanting her to be there...
I'd never have to know things go wrong...
We all want that. But things do go wrong.
Things go wrong - but things go right. Things go wrong - and we know that something is wrong.
That something can be done to make things right.
But if you couldn't bring her back, what would you do?
I don't know!
I'm a kid!
Why would you expect to do something?
Because if I did nothing, then I failed!
Doing nothing is failure? Even if there was nothing you could have done?
There should have been!
Tell me that there should have been, wished for, possibilities. Should have been a way that you didn't know of.
Would it have done any good? You'd only know now.
There's a point where you can spend your whole life looking for a way to put things right - so much so, that you never live your life.
Would you want that? Because that is as wrong a situation as the one you want to put right.
I could still find something.
How long would you spend? Long enough to bring her back?
And how long would that be?
Your life given for hers.
Do you want that?
Do you want that?
I DON'T KNOW!
I don't know, okay?! I don't know...
I wanted her back.
Every choice has consequences - including yours.
To anything that lives in linear time, there must be consequences.
I can't. I can't do it.
Who are you apologising to?
So? Doesn't mean I can't apologise.
To her, or to yourself?
Why don't you ask her?
I'm talking to you.
I'll let you guess.
I hate twelve year olds.
Get used to it. Take the darkness and accept it within, right?
Hey, you're Anya, right?
If you're going to call me that.
It's just too... ex-demony.
I shouldn't know that.
But you do.
Merging with me...
I can't do it, so what am I going to do?
What can I do? I chose my life over hers...
...so it's time to live with the consequences.
Welcome to reality.
Hey, I can still call you Anya, yeah?
Together. We're doing this together.
We all are.
We're all in this together...
But not quite all...Previous chapter Next chapter