an unearthly man

The silence in the TARDIS control room was suffocating. The Doctor was once again alone with his thoughts. His latest companion was spending some much deserved time back home. Whenever he was lonely, the Doctor's thoughts inevitably turned to River.

He had only recently taken her to see the Singing Towers of Darillium, given her the sonic screwdriver just like she had said and kissed her goodbye. But he knew it would not be the last time he saw her, for there was still one more loose end to tie up: he had yet to tell her his name. He could not be sure exactly when in her timeline this was supposed to happen, but he knew the day was fast approaching for him. Ever since Amy and Rory's final encounter with the Weeping Angels, he had been careful about divulging too much information to River, so he was not looking forward to revealing his greatest secret.

He decided it was time to accept his destiny and set the coordinates for the Stormcage Containment Facility. The TARDIS materialized at the end of a long cellblock. The Doctor emerged and walked stealthily until he came to River's cell. He found her scribbling furiously in her diary.

'Hello, sweetie!' the Doctor said cheerfully. River jumped up in surprise.

'Oh, you scared me half to death!' she said breathlessly. She looked at the Doctor in a way that made him feel uneasy.

'I see you're updating your diary,' he said.

'Yes,' she replied. 'Spoilers, of course.'

'Of course,' he repeated. Normally, he did not enquire further. But given that he knew the inevitable was coming he felt he needed a push in the right direction. 'Visit any planets recently?'

'Why do you want to know?' she asked.

'Well, it's just that I don't like the idea of you being stuck in your cell all day with nothing to do. I know it's part of our agreement but I think getting out every now and then is what makes life worth living for you.'

'It does indeed. But you shouldn't worry about me, dear. You just go off and have your own adventures.'

'Can't you give me one tiny hint about what you've been up to?'

She became cross. 'Listen,' she said testily. 'You know I can't tell you anything about your own future. That's how it's been between us since… well, whenever we first meet, I suppose.'

'That's in your future.'

'Right,’ she said with a sigh. 'It's not like I want to keep secrets from you. I mean, the minute I got back from Trenza-' She clapped a hand over her mouth.

'Trenzalore?' the Doctor said. River was silent. He nodded. 'I see. Well, I suppose I should be on my way, then.'

'You're sure you don't want to stay just a little bit longer?' she asked hesitantly.

'No, you know me. I have places to go and… people to see." He turned and headed back towards the TARDIS.

'Yes,' River said wistfully. 'I know.'

Trenzalore. The name had haunted the Doctor ever since Dorium had told him of the prophecy: "On the fields of Trenzalore at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked—one that must never be answered. And Silence must fall when the question is asked." And now he knew for sure that River had been there. If he were interpreting the prophecy correctly, it meant the Silence would no longer be a threat. But it also meant the end of his current incarnation. While he had lived in this body for hundreds of years, he was not entirely sure he was ready to give it up. Regeneration had always been a gamble for him and he could not assume that he would prefer the new body to the old one.

The most confusing aspect of the prophecy was that the Doctor could not shake the feeling that he had heard the name Trenzalore somewhere before. Sometimes, if he closed his eyes and concentrated hard enough, he saw flashes of what appeared to be a grassy field with figures dotted throughout the landscape. He tried to make out what they looked like, but it was as if his memory was being blocked. With only these blurry visions to go on, the Doctor could not rule out the possibility that he had visited Trenzalore at some point in his past.

His ruminations were interrupted by a distress signal on the TARDIS monitor. He checked the coordinates and found it was coming from England in the early 21st century.

'What else is new?' he muttered. He landed the TARDIS and stepped outside. It was a clear night, which meant he had no trouble seeing the building he had landed next to: the old UNIT headquarters. It was boarded up and looked ready for demolition but there was no doubt. He was standing right in front of the laboratory where he and Jo had worked endless hours trying to defeat the Master's plans. He turned his head to the right and saw the garage where he had kept Bessie. What ever happened to the old girl? Sold for scrap, most likely. So many memories.
'I thought you'd appreciate meeting me at your old stomping grounds,' a voice from behind him said. The Doctor turned and saw Captain Jack Harkness walking towards him.
'Jack!' the Doctor exclaimed. 'It's been…'

'Ages?' Jack said with a grin. He stopped walking abruptly. 'Wait a minute. I have to make sure you really are the Doctor. Tell me something only he would know.'

The Doctor thought a moment. 'Are you my mummy?' he said. Jack laughed.

'I guess you really haven't changed a bit. Are you alone?'

'Yes, for the moment. How are things with you? Torchwood’s still going strong?'

'Those days are over, Doctor. I'm striking out on my own. I have to say I'm actually kind of surprised you're here.'

'What do you mean? I always come when I'm called.'

'Well, I mean the bow tie-wearing you. To be honest, I was expecting-' Before Jack could finish his sentence, he and the Doctor became distracted by a familiar noise. They both looked at the TARDIS and were shocked to see a nearly identical police box materialize next to it. The doors of this new vessel opened and out stepped a skinny man wearing a pinstripe suit with a long brown coat.

'Jack!' the Doctor exclaimed. 'It's been ages!' He looked at his future self and smiled. 'Who's your friend here?'


Jack was speechless. After an awkward pause, he finally managed to get his words out.
'He's uh… he's… he's you,' Jack sputtered.

The Doctor's smile faded. 'Are you sure?' he asked. 'Because I recently spent Christmas with a chap called Jackson Lake who insisted he was the Doctor but it turned out-'

'He'd just been exposed to some of our memories by the Cybermen,' the Eleventh Doctor interjected. 'I remember.' The Tenth Doctor nodded.

'Well,' Ten said as his smile returned, 'This certainly is a surprise. I must say I wasn't expecting to meet myself again. Especially not a me with, er, such an interesting dress sense. If you don't mind my asking, what's with the bow tie?'

'It's cool,' Eleven said.

'Ah,' Ten replied. 'Right. To each my own, I guess. So, we're at the old UNIT headquarters. It sure has seen better days. Blimey, imagine what the Brigadier would say if he were here.' Eleven looked away awkwardly.

'Hang on a second!' Jack said, turning to Eleven. 'If you're the future version of him, shouldn't you remember this meeting?'

'No,' Eleven said, shaking his head. 'You see, whenever a Time Lord comes into contact with another incarnation their memory of the incident is automatically suppressed by the Blinovitch Limitation Effect.'

'The, what?'

'It's one of the primary laws of temporal physics. It ensures that the timeline is preserved when irregularities such as this occur. My past self here will forget this ever happened the moment he returns to his own time stream. The question is how he can even be here in the first place.'

'I received a distress signal,' Ten said.

'Yeah,' Eleven said. 'So did I.'

'And I'm the one who sent it,' Jack explained. 'I think the fact that there are two of you here has something to do with the space-time anomalies I've detected.'

'What kind of anomalies?' Ten asked.

'Some of them are hardly noticeable. Things like letters being delivered before they're written or children having the memories of an eighty-year-old. Others are more obvious. Apparently, UNIT had to deal with a group of 13th-century monks who'd fallen through a time rift. The point is these things aren't occurring on their own. Someone or something is causing them and I need your help to find out what's behind them.'

'Well, let's see what the TARDIS can do,' Eleven said and began walking in the direction of his ship.

'Why do we have to use your TARDIS?' Ten asked incredulously.

'Because it's more advanced than yours.'

'Oh, all right.' Ten and Jack followed Eleven into his TARDIS. 'I see you've redecorated,' Ten said as he looked around. 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry but I just don't like it.'

'This is no time for debates about interior design,' Eleven snapped. 'We need to determine what's making time all wibbly-wobbly.' He pushed some buttons on the console and looked at the monitor. 'I see you were right, Jack. The TARDIS is detecting space-time anomalies all over the place. And not just on Earth but throughout the cosmos.'

'Can you pinpoint an origin?' Jack asked. The Doctor pushed some more buttons and the monitor screen zoomed in on a planet.

'Karn,' he said. The two Doctors looked at each other.

'You've been there before?' Jack asked.

'Yes. With Sarah Jane,' Eleven replied. 'From what I can remember of its history, at this point in time it was under the control of… the Terrible Zodin.'

'And who would that be?'

'Someone you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of. And I'm afraid I've already done that.'

'So you've met this Zodin person?'

'Yes but I don't remember much. She has the ability to manipulate memories, you see, as a way of covering her tracks.'

'And you think she's behind all this?'

'It wouldn't surprise me. Her main goal in life is to cause mischief. She's probably doing this just to combat the boredom of ruling over the desolate landscape of Karn.'

'Listen,' Ten said. 'Before we even think about confronting her, we have to deal with the fact that she's always guarded by horrible creatures. I doubt the three of us could handle them on our own. We'd need someone who's not afraid to use weapons and can be relied upon to survive against incredible odds.'

Eleven's face lit up. 'I know just who you mean,' he said.