Prodigal Shadows


Both are
Both are
Isabelle both
Must see

- Hassana and Helioth, 'Oblivion' part 4, DWM 326.


It wasn't even a fight, not really.

She'd been fighting since she was ten.

She knew where to strike, had internalised it long ago.

She picked up the knife.

Slid it in.

Then out.

The bitch looked at her then, anger still burning in her eyes. She tried to speak, to say this was a mistake.

Then she fell to the ground, dead.

And all she felt, looking at the body at her feet, was disgust - disgust with the bitch, disgust with herself, for not doing this earlier, following close behind - and relief.

The bitch was dead.

She was free.

Finally, she was free.

Then she registered the twinkly twins.

Is over.'

Then she registered Uncle Jodafra's fear, and-

And Uncle Jodafra was never scared. Never. Not even when faced with her mother.

And then:


'Hey!' Destrii protested, as the Doctor dragged them through the PLOT Hole. 'Hey, let go! What was up with Uncle?'

'You'll find out next time.' the Doctor said.

'_Not_ next time! _Now!_'

The Doctor's voice was soft and quiet and terrible. 'Next time, Destrii. I would have thought you understood that by now.'

'What _happened?_'

'What happened?' the Doctor said, in that same soft voice. 'You killed your mother, Destrii. And your mother was more deeply connected to Oblivion than any of us - except for your uncle, and her servants - knew.'

'Helioth and Hassana.' Izzy's voice was quiet. 'That's what they're called. Helioth and Hassana.'

'Thank you, Izzy.' the Doctor said. 'Now, Destrii, perhaps you can answer this: why did they switch you and Izzy back? They didn't know Izzy was in your body when they kidnapped her... so what happened?'

'/I/ don't know!' Destrii protested. 'They were _Mum's_ posse, not mine! _She_ was the only one who told them what to do!'

'Not... entirely.' a voice from the air said, as Fey faded into existence next to them. 'If you're talking about who I _think_... then no.'

'Fey.' the Doctor acknowledged. 'I take it you had a run-in of your own?'

Fey nodded. 'And it's not looking too good for the city.'

'Oh, come off it!' Destrii scoffed. 'The twinkly twins? Against the whole city? No chance!'

Izzy and the Doctor exchanged a look.

'Maybe not...' the Doctor said finally. 'What happened?'

'To be absolutely honest... I don't know.' Fey said. 'But there are a horde... and when I say a horde, I _mean_ a horde. Shayde lost count of how many there were... of "twinkly twins" approaching the city.

'It was... it was an ocean of psionic power, Doctor. An ocean. The landscape was _reforming_ before them, reforming to accommodate them.

'And all of them, according to Shayde, were... they were _grieving_ for someone - or some*thing*... but that grief was turning into anger.

'Deep anger.'

'Very sad...' the Doctor murmured. 'Very very sad. The thread has been cut... more connected than any of us knew... it was about her. It was about her all the time...'

'*HER?!*' Izzy and Destrii demanded in unison.

'About who?' Fey said.

'About the Matriax.' the Doctor said, taking a tighter hold of the fish girl's arm. 'About Destrii's mother.'

Fey *blinked*, her gaze flicking between the fish girl and the human girl in front of her.

'Hey, Fey...' the human girl said, managing a brave smile.

'Finally...' the fish girl muttered. 'Not exactly Emma Peel, is she?'

'...They've been switched back.' Fey said. 'This is... this is incredible! When did you-'

'I didn't.' the Doctor said. 'It was our friends back there, the "twinkly twins" - Helioth and Hassana - _they_ did it. I came in just afterwards.'

Fey's eyebrows drew in. 'Did they do anything else? Anything at all?'

'Well, it _was_ a rough ride...' the human girl - Izzy, Izzy once again - admitted. 'But... no, no, they didn't. Why?'

'I hope that's the case...' Fey murmured. 'I think it was _my_ doing...'

The Doctor frowned. 'Yours?'

'When I entered the palace to find Izzy, the...' Fey's mouth twisted in a grimace. 'The Matriax set Helioth and Hassana on me. We had to retreat, so Shayde shifted us as far as his power could take us... to the top of the dome over the city.'

'A dome...?' the Doctor murmured. 'Go on, go on...'

'They followed me - once they were outside the city, they weren't under the Matriax's control.

'They wanted to know why I'd come after their "Destriianatos". I told them it _wasn't_ her, that it was Izzy's mind in Destrii's body... and they said "If the Primatrix is broken, we must fix her".

'Then they disappeared.

'And then shortly after _that_, the horde appeared at the gates.'

The Doctor nodded, his face drawn in thought. 'I thought so. I _thought_ so.' He frowned. 'But it doesn't make _sense_. If they're set on protecting Destrii, why did...?'

'Doctor?' Fey prompted.

'Alright, Fey. By the time I managed to get to Izzy... the Matriax stormed in, outraged we were disrupting Destrii's wedding ceremony.' The Doctor frowned. 'I must admit, while I've seen weddings become battlegrounds, I've seen very few that _were_ literal battlegrounds. Marriage as trial by combat... with the survivor as the one to be married.

'Destrii, still in Izzy's body, managed to kill the challenger before I got there-'

The fish girl managed a smile. 'Heh. All her brains in her boobs, that girl.'

'-but, by then, I had other things on my mind.' the Doctor continued, his gaze falling on her. 'The Matriax stormed in, and set about Destrii - the girl she thought _was_ Destrii, who was Destrii once again...

'And then Destrii pulled a knife, and killed her.'

'I honestly don't know whether to clap you in irons or give you a medal...' Fey told Destrii, her face a mask of revulsion. 'That... that creature was a _monster_.'

Both girls shuddered.

'You don't know the half of it, Fey.' Izzy said.

'But that wasn't the end of it...' the Doctor murmured. 'Because the moment the Matriax died... Helioth and Hassana's horde manifested... and they were _grieving_.

'Helioth and Hassana said... they said "Oblivion is over"... and _that_ would only make sense if something had gone wrong. Destrii is still alive, after all... and as the Matriax's heir, the title would ordinarily have passed to her upon her mother's death.'

Destrii's facial scales turned grey. '_What?_'

'Oblivion cannot - _does_ not - work on the direct line of inheritance.' the Doctor said.

'I could've told you _that_...' Destrii muttered.

'I suspect whatever arrangement was made with Helioth and Hassana's people, whatever arrangement underpins the city, requires the fulfillment of certain conditions. And if those conditions are not fulfilled...'

'...then it's over,' Izzy said, the grey skin looking no healthier on a human. 'They'll come.'

The blood drained from Fey's face.

'It's over,' the Doctor agreed. 'A planet where no planet should be at _any_ time - a planet that to all purposes should not exist - will be ended. Done with. And Helioth and Hassana's people have come to end it. All of _that_ we can deduce from the evidence.

'But why was it there in the first place? What was the arrangement? And why...' The Doctor's regard focused on Destrii. ' it so difficult to leave? So difficult that someone would build a chronon capsule, hmm?'

'Why don't you ask Uncle?' Destrii said. 'It's _his_ project, after all.'

'I imagine I'll probably end up doing that anyway.' the Doctor said. 'But that... along with everything else... can wait for the next part, don't you think?

'Right now... well, the others will almost certainly know what happened, once Compassion plays it out on her scanner.

'And I doubt /they/ will let it wait..'

This time, _both_ Destrii and Izzy paled.

'No...' Destrii whispered. 'Oh no...'

'Oh... cruk.' Izzy whispered.

Fey looked between the two of them, frowning.

Destrii... oh, she knew why _Destrii_ was so pale.

But ...what had _Izzy_ done? She hadn't killed anyone... so why...?

Fey caught the Doctor's expression, the crease of his forehead, the sudden frown on his long features.

He knew as little as she did... what had Izzy done? Or thought? Or been through?

What would _Izzy_ be afraid of?


'Hey.' Izzy said, taking a seat next to Destrii on the latter's bed.

'What did they say?'

'Benefits of having a TARDIS on the team - _total_ medical facilities.' Izzy said. 'Nothing wrong, physically or mentally... apart from a little bruising.'

'Don't look at me. You did it to yourself.' Destrii said.

'So did you.' Izzy retorted.

Destrii hmphed. 'Well, my bod's still in perfect working order, no thanks to you - curves all where they should be - and I'm none the worse up here-' She tapped her head. '-from getting stuck in your stick-insect figure.'

'More's the pity...' Izzy muttered. 'Any of them talked to you about it?'

'After what I did back there?' Destrii inquired.

Izzy sighed. '... No. No, I suppose not.'

'How about you?'

'...Yeah. Yeah, they did.'


'Well, Stacy's good at keeping personal stuff private... Ssard didn't say anything... neither did Sam...' Izzy quirked an eyebrow. 'Getting tactful in her old age, I think... Anji was pretty good about it, not too good with expressing the whole "deep emotional" stuff... Fitz knows when to keep schtum... and Compassion, well... you know Cam. Just nodded, like she knew what was going on... probably does...'

'Which leaves...' Destrii counted off. '...Fey and Charley.'

'Charley... well, Charley's the "open mouth, think later" type. Wasn't _that_ hard... but Fey... Once she saw... well, she said "I'm sorry, Izzy", left it there... but I don't know...

'I mean, they're probably talking about it together... that's what we do, soul-searching's practically an art 'round this TARDIS...'

'I noticed.' Destrii said. 'I've never seen so much psychological bullshit thrown 'round in my entire _life_.'

'Don't I know...' Izzy said. 'I think we were... well, it was all the stuff around Gallifrey, that was the biggest thing. Knowing what he did then... we... we had to deal with it _somehow_, and, well...'

'Yeah.' Destrii said.

'Yeah.' Izzy said reflectively.

She turned to Destrii. 'They _saw_, Destrii. They saw what happened. To _both_ of us.'

'I really liked that dog...' Destrii said quietly. 'You know? I really did. I took care of it, looked after it...

'Then she asked me to kill it.

'I was six.

'Kill it, or...'

Izzy nodded

'So I did.

'It was a lesson.

'"Love will only hurt you, Destriianatos."

'Not the last. Not by a long shot.

'I should have killed her then. And _screw_ the onsequences.'

'I was eight when they told me.' Izzy said, her voice equally quiet. 'Eight.

'My parents... my parents... sat me down... and...

'They told me I was adopted.

'That I'd been found, only a few hours old, in a box in the bus station.

'That they'd taken me in.

'They were... they were nice about it, they were understanding...

'And I thought... I thought, if I couldn't trust this... if I couldn't even rust this...

'If I was a lie...

'What _could_ I trust? What was there?

'My first lesson.'

'You wanted to hurt them.' Destrii said.

'She wanted to punish you.' Izzy said.

'So you dropped their name. You started calling them Sandra and Les, not Mum and ad.'

'So she'd chain you up to the ceiling, and then she'd bring out the branding rons.'

'Secret diaries you'd start, then burn, so no-one'd ever know.'

'Secret adventures with Uncle Jodafra your Mum never knew.'

'The outsider. The geek. The bookworm.' Destrii said. 'The butt of all the kes.'

'The heroine. The fighter. The champion.' Izzy said. 'The one who's going to save them all.'

They looked up, into each other's face.

As one, they said:

'You wanted to escape.'

And then they fell silent.


It wasn't that Destrii had killed someone, Fey mused.

She and Shayde had killed, both before and after they'd merged. So had Compassion. So had Sam.

So had the Doctor.

He'd killed millions when he'd destroyed Gallifrey. Had been responsible for the deaths of millions more...

From everything Fey had seen of the Matriax, the woman had been a _monster_. A creature better off dead... if it weren't that her world had been condemned with her. No kinder to her daughter than to anyone else.

She might have needed Destrii _alive_... but that was _all_ she needed. And from what Fey had seen, the Matriax had done everything in her power to make sure Destrii knew that.

Fey, for one, would have felt no compunction about killing the Matriax, if she'd had the opportunity.

But it had been _Destrii_ who killed her.

That's when it fell into place.

Destrii wouldn't - didn't - justify killing in the name of the 'greater good', or in anyone else's name.

She killed in the name of her own self-interest. Killed to survive.

Had killed her own mother - a monster in her own right - when she'd started another beating.

And yet...

A bond - of hatred, but still a bond. Breaking free by destroying it, once and for all.

Fey felt it on a visceral level, the feeling of violation.

What was that statistic Compassion quoted? That it was more likely to be murdered by someone you knew, than by someone you didn't?

...And yet... and yet, shouldn't it be _easier_ for someone to kill someone they didn't know? Shouldn't that make it more probable?

When it came to war... when it came to war... it did. She knew _that_ full well.

Not when it came to murder, though.

Oh no.

The personal bond _itself_ was what made it more likely - either as obstacle or driving force.

A force that enables a bond to be destroyed. A line we'd never cross, because it's not who we are. It's not us to kill someone we know.

And for it to be strong enough to turn against your parents...

Fey saw it then, cold and true.

That was the Doctor. He couldn't kill someone he loved. Couldn't kill Charley, even when it was her life or the whole universe's. He'd rather sacrifice _himself_ to do it.

And when he _had_... when he'd destroyed Gallifrey... he _had_ sacrificed a part of himself, sacrificed his memory.

And every time someone reminded him - someone _told_ him - he'd done that, he simply... forgot.

Because to remember would be to drive him insane, turn him into someone completely different, a man who was at terms _with the destruction of his whole world at his hands_...

...someone completely different from any Doctor they knew.

Any Doctor.

For Zagreus... or for Grandfather Paradox... it would be a different matter altogether.

But they weren't the Doctor - had been, would be, but not yet...

Fey refocused herself.

- I have been following your line of thinking, Fey.


- It has... provided much for me to think about. I may... _sense_ emotions... many from you... but I do not _experience_ them in the same way, as such.

- It occurs to me that you are trying to understand why _this_ death causes revulsion in you, when similar deaths at our hands - such as the Nazis of your native time - do not. And why it is that you are experiencing some common feeling with Destrii associated with that revulsion.

- In short, what makes her different from the other killers - Leela, Ace, yourself - in the Doctor's life.

And is there anything?

- Ace and ourselves... we kill for a cause, a cause we believe in. Leela kills to survive - such was the nature of her world.

- Destrii kills to survive, too. The difference between her and Leela is that Destrii shows concern only for herself, where Leela is concerned with the survival of others alongside her. She kills for herself - and no-one else.

It's more than that, Shayde... it's that she could kill _anyone_ in that pursuit. Anyone at all.

She cherishes her survival above all else. Above anything else.

- It is not the only reason she kills, Fey. It was not the only reason why she killed the Matriax.

- She did it to free herself from her. Did it to stop her. Did it out of revenge.

And yet... and yet... I don't feel sorry for Destrii, Shayde. _Understand_ her, yes... sorry for her, no. We knew what she might do, given a chance, what she'd done to Izzy...

I understand her better now.

But I also know what she's capable of doing.

- Understood, Fey.

You can be a real comfort sometimes, Shayde. < sigh > We keep coming back to this over and over again, keep having to confront it. We can't do otherwise, not with Destrii around. We _have_ to deal with what it means that she's here. Even if it is only for "Uroboros" and "Oblivion"... we still need her for the story, it's still something we have to confront. To let her free would be reckless in the extreme - and not even the Doctor is that reckless. To shut her out... no. That's not an option. If we don't deal with this, someone else _will_.

In the end, all we can do is watch, wait, and step in when necessary.

We have to live with her.

And none of us like it.

- No-one said it would be easy, Fey.

True. If I'd wanted an easy life, I'd have stayed back home and probably been bored stiff. < sigh > It's a shame we couldn't have something to celebrate Izzy's getting her body back... not with what Destrii did hanging over our heads.

- Although it's not a problem when Adric dies.

Chalk it up to human irrationality, Shayde. Destrii killed her mother only the once, after all. And it's the first time that leaves the biggest mark.

< sigh > I think the best we can hope for is a quiet night.

- Around here?

True, true...

...but I can hope, can't I?

I can always hope.




Author's note: Okay, for anyone keeping track...

The Izzy/Destrii mindswap is done. Izzy and Destrii have been switched back - Izzy's back in her original human body, while Destrii's back in her original fish girl body.

And Destrii killed her mother. What consequences _that_ will have... well... we'll see in DWM 327.

Summary: The thread is cut. The knot unravels.

Disclaimer: 'Doctor Who' and the Doctor are the BBC's. Fey, Shayde, Izzy and Destrii are Marvel's.


Copyright 2003 Imran Inayat.