The World That Jack Built
Zagreus waits at the end of Time, because Zagreus is the end of Time.
His time is the end of Time, and his moment, Time's undoing.
- The Observer, 'Neverland'.
This is the way the world ends.
Time shattered, splintered. Timelines warring on each other, fighting for
supremacy, fighting for survival - because to lose was to be destroyed.
And all of them lost, in the end.
The Web of Time is torn apart, its guardians corrupted, cast down.
The destroyer has come, and none stand in his path.
None stand to defend Time, defend Life.
The Doctor is long gone.
Only Zagreus remains.
This is the way the world ends.
He knows I still exist - I know he does. He has seen me, as I walk the corridors
of his citadel. Heard me, as I sing elegies from worlds long-forgotten.
But he has not come for me. Will not come for me, until the end.
I am here to bear witness. Here to see the end.
That small thing, he will allow.
First to stand. Last to fall.
He rewarded her for that.
He tore her dimensions inside out, ripped her atoms apart.
A four-dimensional breach - a /living/ breach - in space and time.
A gate to his domain, allowing the forces at his command to come through.
She would be witness and handmaiden to the end, powerless to act, to say, to do
anything but watch.
She *screams*, in eternal torment, in constant pain - some tiny fragment of the
girl she was still alive, still aware, *watching*.
Watching as he tore down everything she knew, made a mockery of everything she
Leaving only her.
She cannot die, he will not let her die, until the final moments of the end.
The gate will collapse, and in its collapse, will tear her apart.
Then - and only then - will Charley Pollard's suffering end.
Ran far. Ran fast.
But he found her, in the end.
All things come to the end.
He found her, and broke her mind - broke that so practical, so sensible, mind.
Saved only what he needed.
She has not Adric's gift for numbers. Has not the Logopolitans' mastery of
But she would do. She would serve his purpose.
Block transfer computations - the equations that rewrite the dimensions
themselves, that make mathematics reality.
And take reality apart.
He takes the schemata from her mind, and uses them to disassemble the world.
Vengeance, as he knows vengeance. Salvation, as he knows salvation.
The Faction tried. Oh, they tried.
But paradox needs Time.
For all their preaching, all their boasting, they could not escape that fact.
A paradox. How can there be a paradox without time?
They thought it would save them. Instead, it destroyed them.
Trapped in the paradox.
He summoned its loa, called upon this greatest of the Spirits of Paradox-
And trapped it.
Trapped it in a human host, caged it in mortal flesh.
An ontological impossibility - no mortal can contain the Spirits, yet a mortal
/does/ contain the Spirits.
It is trapped, as they are trapped. An eternal paradox they can never escape.
What they thought would be their heaven has become their hell.
Bound to one of their own, an initiate of Paradox.
Bound to one who was never an initiate.
Bound into Fitz.
Sam's fate was... lenient.
He reached into her, into her changeling nature-
-and ripped her apart, spread her across eleven dimensions.
Then he put her back together again.
Made her perfect, a vision from her dreams - and her nightmares.
Bound her in a cage of cold iron.
She is the final oracle. The final seer.
She is absolutely perfect. Absolutely correct.
The Ice Warriors were a proud people, noble fighters, terrifying warriors.
Had they the chance, they would have defied him to their final breath.
They never had that chance.
How do you fight an enemy who sits inside your head? Who waits at the end of the
He reached back, found that moment, the moment when life first arose on Mars.
He did nothing. Just watched it, as it formed from the simple proteins of the
Then the infection reached out, and it had never been.
And soon after, there had never been anything.
None to fight. None to build. None to pray.
Only a dead world, spinning in the void.
And soon afterwards, even it was gone.
In a certain sense, I suppose, Ssard's end was easy.
At least he did not know he had been ended.
Watched as he destroyed everything the Council had fought so hard to build.
Watched as he entered the Matrix, opened the door and stepped inside.
Watched as he slew them, one by one.
Then - /then/ - Shayde fought.
Channelled all of his - all of Fey's - willpower into one last bullet.
One last strike.
It failed, as Shayde knew it would.
Even to the end, he was a creature of reason.
Still, he stood. Still, he fought. And still, he failed.
Then, it was his opponent's turn.
And when the battle was done, he took only Shayde's head, only that smooth black
He looks into it sometimes. I do not know what he sees.
Stacy spat in his face.
He wiped it off, and nodded.
Then he dispersed her, erased her from time, so she had never been.
Made her one of the Neverpeople, sworn to service.
Not to his service - he needs no servants.
Call her... an ambassador. An emissary. Come to the universe of Time to watch as
it ends. To watch as he completes his duty. As he completes his vengeance.
But she will never see her vengeance completed.
To see that would mean his end.
And that will not happen until she herself is ended.
In the deepest chamber of his citadel, someone wails in the dark.
Wails for someone to find her, to *end* her.
They cannot, for there are none left to find her. None left to end her.
She is a Shoggoth. Their mother and progenitor, a thousand eyes, a thousand
mouths, forming, destroying, every second.
She is the last of the dragons, reduced to this, to the thing that wails
endlessly in the dark.
First and last of her kind, broken down, returned to her primordial state.
She was Laura Tobin.
She was Compassion.
She was my daughter.
And this was what he made of her, in the end.
She fought against the greatest evil she had ever known - an evil that blotted
out the sky, star by star, world by world.
And when the others had fallen, when all around her had fallen, he came for her.
She smiled then, as she looked in his face, watched his impassive features.
She smiled, and said 'Beat you'.
He snapped her neck.
It was the only time I ever saw him perturbed.
Vengeance, he calls it.
Vengeance on those who cared, who might have cared.
Who might have stopped him, had they the chance.
But they never got it.
Zagreus came for them.
Brought them to his world, to the end of the world.
To the end of Time.
This is not vengeance.
This is boredom.
He did this because he was /bored/. Used the smallest of the powers at his
command, played with his toys awhile... and then broke them.
As he waits for the only thing that matters. As he waits for the end.
I walk the halls of his citadel.
I hear the Faction's - hear Fitz's - crazed babbling, tellling the secrets of
Paradox, though there are none left to hear.
I hear strings of numbers, lines of code - all that is left to Anji, though she
no longer knows it.
I hear my daughter wailing, pleading, *begging*, for someone to end her life.
I hear the love, the anger, the vengeance - the hatred - that burns in Stacy.
I hear Sam's whispered truths, prophecies of the final days.
I hear silence, where once I heard a Martian's voice.
I hear Izzy's final words, a world ago in time.
I hear Charley's endless, eternal scream.
And at the centre of it all, here at the end of all things, he sits, looking
into his crystal ball.
Watching, while the world falls apart. While I fall apart.
Waiting for the end of everything.
My pilot. My friend.
Welcome to the end of the world.
Copyright 2002 Imran Inayat.