Dividing By Zero
(SPOILER WARNING: This fic has so many spoilers for the Big Finish audio
'Zagreus' it's not even funny. If you haven't already heard it but intend to do
so at any point in the future, then don't read any further. If you do read it, I
will not be held responsible for your spoiling.)
Fey leaned forward. "It's all Imran's fault."
"It usually is..." Fitz muttered.
Fey grinned. "True. However, this time, it worked in our favour.
"Thanks to Imran's own particular view of the way the Doctor handles things -
namely, that he handles _all_ his stories, even if they contradict - that meant
that when Imran wrote 'ZigZag' he was looking for a way to stop Zagreus taking
over the Doctor - and so he staged a dream-battle in the Doctor's mind, which
the Doctor won."
"Yeah, yeah, been there already..." Izzy said.
"Now, as it turns out, a dream-battle _isn't_ enough to subdue Zagreus. Only two
things we know of so far can - zero matter, the matter that makes up a Zero
Room... or being in a universe outside the Web of Time."
Fitz frowned. "...Yeah, I didn't get that bit. How's that work?"
"One possibility," Compassion said, leaning forward, "is that it's because a
universe _outside_ the Web does not have the 'positive' time of the Web - and,
so, by extension, it has no anti-time either. If you like, it's 'charge-neutral'
as regards time - as is zero matter - and so dampens anti-time.
"I have no idea if it's true, but it seems a useful working theory."
"...Okay." Fitz said finally.
"Of course," Compassion added, "there is a third thing that can subdue
anti-time - whatever the Big Finish authors decide can do so.
"Now, at the time of 'Neverland', we didn't know _what_ could subdue
anti-time... so authors were free to come up with their own explanations.
"Like Imran's dream-battle."
".../Right./" Fitz said.
"Now, given we finally _do_ have an explanation, and that Imran likes keeping as
close to the continuities as he can... it's simple enough to engineer a quick
retcon to say that Outside, Zagreus can be subdued - although with rather more
mental effort than it would be elsewhere." Compassion's expression darkened.
"However, Imran noticed - and wrote off - another important matter: namely, that
Mother had been irradiated with anti-time as well. He simply assumed that she
would be able to deal with it herself.
"Understandable - to the best of my knowledge, no-one had considered that before
'Zagreus', so it never came up." Compassion's face darkened even further. "Of
course, the universe having its own particularly warped sense of humour, it
turned out that the idea _had_ occured to Don Barnes and Don Russell... and
they'd run with it.
"Which meant, of course, that I didn't have the _faintest_ idea there _was_
anything wrong with Mother _until_ I finally heard 'Zagreus'!"
The others carefully kept their faces expressionless, as much for the look of
things as anything else - the sight of the young TARDIS storming out after the
'Zagreus' screening and proceeding to engage in a protracted screaming match
with the Type 40 was one they would cherish for a good long time.
Compassion let out a long sigh, letting the tension drain out of her.
"_However_, they at _least_ had the courtesy to purge the anti-time from her...
although, somehow, I doubt the Doctor could have survived the process."
"Yeah, well, being melted down and remade tends to be life-threatening like
that." Fitz let out a long, low, breath. "So we're - _he's_ - still stuck with
"I wouldn't put it quite like that." Compassion said.
"Hm?" Ssard said.
"This may be a bit hard to explain..." Compassion thought. "All right. We've
established that, under exceptional circumstances Outside, Zagreus can become
the Doctor's dominant personality. _However_, since Outside subdues the
anti-time energies regardless, he _cannot_ use any of the powers at his command.
He cannot - in fact, he is _unable_ to use them. There is no possibility
Ssard frowned. "...But if I understand things correctly, anything is possible
Outside. Therefore, there _should_ be a possibility he could use them."
Compassion shook her head. "No, it's not."
"...It's _not_?" the others chorused.
"...Okay." Stacy said. "Explain _that_ one."
"Would you prefer the simple or the complex version?"
"...Let's start with simple first, shall we?" Anji said, folding her arms.
"All right." Compassion said. "Now, it follows that if anything is possible
outside continuity, then every possibility should exist somewhere - even if only
as potential, yes?"
"...Yes." Anji said.
"Therefore, there must be a possibility that the Outside Dimensions do not - and
cannot - exist."
Fitz looked around at the poker room, then back at Compassion. "Er, Cam... we're
"Obviously." Compassion said. "But were that possibility actualised, then we
wouldn't be here.
"Each and every second the Outside Dimensions exist, logically, there must be an
equivalent possibility that the Outside Dimensions cease to exist, never will
exist, and never have existed."
"Um..." Fitz said.
"These are what are called the 'nulls'." Compassion said. "They are the set of
possibilities wherein the Outside Dimensions cease to exist without possibility
of existing again. They may _have_ existed... but not anymore."
"But... we're still here." Sam said.
"Yes." Compassion said. "That's because the nature of Outside means the nulls
are _prevented_ from coming to pass. Outside can encompass that something -
anything - is possible. What it _cannot_ encompass is a possibility that negates
its own existence in any and all possibilities - like trying to divide by zero.
"Now, what all this has to do with Zagreus...
"Should Zagreus walk Outside, in full possession of himself _and_ his powers..."
"...it means the end." Ssard said flatly.
"Exactly." Compassion said. "Zagreus would make Outside a place that suited him,
a universe without beginning or end, simply the endless now.
"Not _stasis_, no... simply one endless moment that had never begun, and would
"Outside's own laws of reality - loose as they are - cannot, and _will_ not,
"The Doctor - more specifically, the Doctor Outside, the Doctor in Big Finish -
cannot enter a possibility that sets Zagreus free, for to do so means Outside's
end." Compassion looked around. "The Doctor's possibilities have been abruptly
limited. He still has access to an infinity of possibilities, but an equal
infinity are now denied him."
"...Waow." Izzy breathed.
"Hang on." Sam said. "If that's the simple explanation, what's the complex one?"
"Very well. I should warn you, though - the complex explanation involves
fractals, recursion and multiple infinities." Compassion said.
"...Maybe another time." Sam said finally.
Compassion nodded. "To all intents and purposes, Zagreus _cannot_ walk Outside
in full possession of his power. The Doctor cannot dispose of Zagreus - not
least because it may well come up again in another audio - but equally, Zagreus
is limited to a parasitic existence, confined within the Doctor."
Fitz shook his head, as if trying to deny what she was saying. "...He doesn't
deserve this. Not him. Not after... not after all this."
"That may well be." Compassion said. "But no-one said anything about
'deserving'. It is what has happened, what _is_... and nothing we can do will
Fitz closed his eyes. "All right. Okay." It was apparent to anyone watching that
he was struggling with a deep rage, as were the others listening to the
conversation. "Okay. This Divergence. Where'd they come from? Not sure I
understood that bit."
If Compassion registered the almost desperate expression on his face, she didn't
mention it. "Very well. However, I should note that when I speak of Rassilon,
I'm speaking _only_ of Big Finish's Rassilon - not of the others that exist."
"Mr Rassilon can shove his bristling beard where the sun doesn't shine." Fey
muttered. "They _all_ can."
"Indeed." Compassion said, her chubby features expressionless. "The Divergence
are - would have been - the successors to the Time Lords, the species who
replaced them as the masters of Time, with the ability to reshape matter as they
chose. They would have evolved from a non-humanoid sentient species, coming into
their power as the universe ended. They would have created a new Web of Time,
one that encompassed that of the Time Lords and more.
"When Rassilon established the Web of Time at the dawn of Gallifrey, he foresaw
this species's existence in the Web - and set about removing them, as he did
anything else that might threaten Gallifrey's supremacy.
"He set about re-engineering evolution throughout the cosmos via the use of
bio-genic molecules, so that sentient species would take on a humanoid form...
and eliminating those sentients that did _not_."
"...He missed one." Izzy said abruptly. "What about computers? _They_ don't
develop like that..."
Compassion's mouth twitched upwards in what might have been a smile. "Mm. I
think he might have allowed for them...
"The Divergence became part of a _divergent_ timeline, an abortive timeline -
since they would now never exist as part of the Web - which Rassilon then
trapped inside a pocket Universe.
"For those wondering about this, I might also point out the Time Lords' later
attempt to eliminate the Daleks from the timeline. If they could attempt
_that_... then they could deal with the Divergence.
"As for why Rassilon did not erase the Divergence... well, dispersing
individuals is well within the Time Lords' capabilities. Dispersing an entire
_species_, however... no. Even they lack the ability to do that.
"Having trapped them, then, Rassilon was faced with what would happen should the
Divergence ever manage to escape - namely, what they'd do to the one who'd
"He required a weapon - a weapon immune to the Divergence's talents. A being of
anti-time, immune to whatever temporal attacks they might use against it.
"And so he engineered his greatest weapon - a _living_ weapon. A weapon created
from a living being.
"He set the Doctor up. Smoothed the Doctor's steps on the path. Tweaked things
so that all would be ready...
"...and then moved in to claim Zagreus.
"Zagreus, of course, disagreed with Rassilon's desires, with what he had done.
"So he returned the favour by throwing Rassilon into the Divergence's prison."
"...And then, once the Doctor'd managed to subdue Zagreus... he ended up exiling
_himself_ into their universe." Anji finished, her tone nauseated.
Compassion nodded. "Because Zagreus is still in him. And as long as he walked
"...Zagreus could escape." Sam finished.
"Exactly." Compassion said. "Obviously, this doesn't affect the Doctor's other
continuities - either because the whole Zagreus thing didn't happen, has yet to
happen, or has _already_ happened. Whichever, he can walk their Web - walk that
universe - without fear.
"But in the Big Finish timeline, he _cannot_. He has had to exile himself.
"...that would mean the end." the others said as one.
"Exactly." Compassion said.
"And between _that_, and the Doc... being the Doc..." Fitz put in, "Charley's
not talking to him, _he's_ not talking to _her_, and _we're_ stuck in the
embarrassing silence between 'em."
"An oversimplification of the complex emotional situation between them, but
essentially correct." Compassion said.
"Thanks, Cam..." Fitz said, with a certain degree of irony. "The fun just keeps
on leaving, doesn't it?"
"We get the Xander thing already, Fitz..." Izzy said wryly.
"It's true, though." Fitz said. "We _are_ shafted. Charley's not hanging 'round
him, it's difficult for _him_ to talk to Charley..."
"Dumping a girl tends to do that." Anji observed.
Fitz shook his head. "Oh no, it's not dumping. It's the Doctor being noble and
self-sacrificing and not wanting to get Charley exiled with him. 'Course, you
know Charley - she'll follow him to the end of the universe. Hell, she _has_.
"It's just all the stuff that led _up_ to it. Charley still wants to _travel_
with him, she just doesn't _trust_ him any more. Can't believe he'd ask her to
kill him. Can't believe he _would_ ask her to do it. Can't believe he loves her,
'cause she can't believe he'd ask her to kill him if he loved her."
"Which he _does_." Sam put in. "But in the meantime, we have to deal with the
aftermath... and deal with _them_ dealing with it. The trouble is, we'll have to
wait 'till 'Scherzo' - at the very least - before _that_ starts happening." She
half-smiled. "I remember _my_ mid-Doctor crisis. It's not going to be easy."
Fey, Fitz, Izzy, Stacy and Ssard winced. They remembered _that_ all too well.
It hadn't helped that that'd been around the time that Fitz had first showed
up... and that shortly _after_ Sam's crisis the Doctor had found himself having
to fake a regeneration in the strip.
They'd hoped it couldn't get any messier.
They _really_ should have known.
"Joy." Fitz murmured. "And meanwhile, we've gotta find a way to deal with the
both of 'em... not to mention the Zagreus thing."
"Saying it's the easy bit." Sam observed. "It's putting it into practice that's
the difficult part..."
Anji rubbed at her forehead. "I think I'm going to need some coffee if we're
going to start dealing..."
"Coffees all round then?" Fitz suggested, taking in the expressions round the
table with a bartender's practiced eye.
The others nodded.
"Right, then." Fitz said, clapping his hands together. "Bringing 'em in..."
Summary: If the consequences of 'Neverland' were messy, 'Zagreus' is worse...
Sam's 'mid-Doctor crisis' spanned the BBC EDAs 'Longest Day', 'Dreamstone Moon'
and 'Seeing I'. The Doctor's faked regeneration was in the DWM strips 'The Final
Chapter' and 'Wormwood'.
To all intents and purposes, the Doctor's TARDIS is Compassion's mother - well,
her mother as a TARDIS, anyway.
Disclaimer: 'Doctor Who', Stacy, Ssard, Sam, Fitz, Anji and Compassion are the
BBC's, while Izzy and Fey are Marvel's.
This Time Round created by Tyler Dion.
Copyright 2003 Imran Inayat