The time had come.
Annaperennaepsilonomnicrex vol-Xianthellipse joined the row along with her peers. She inhaled and watched the word around her settle down as the young members of what would be considered the Fourth Wave talk and gossip amongst each other. The adults were also talking among themselves a bit, no doubt planning the trek down the mountain. She observed them in their robes, thick yet flowing, ancient yet evergreen. Once upon a time, these robes would’ve been varied in color: each color representing their expertise. But that time was gone the moment the Lord President’s decapitated head ended up on full display.
As one of the dueling suns began its decent, so too did the group. Mount Perdition was famous for many reasons. The grass upon its slopes matched the shades of the group’s clothing: red, regal red, bloody red. A river ran through it that allegedly held the remains of a vessel of an old god within its banks. It was also known for its caves, one of which was preserved in myth by the story of lazy Presus getting raging revenge on the invisible killer of his entire town before laying down in eternal sleep. Hermits would later move into the caves and occasionally be seen in glimpses and whispers. Looking back, the mass was tinted with the ghosts of combat and spirituality both. Sometimes, something so subtle can morph its inhabitants. Even subconsciously.
The hike downward was uneventful. Some preferred catching flutterwings to actual hiking only to be boxed about the ears by their elders. Others continued their conversations. But as they left the heights of one mountain for the foot of another, each step of the journey caused the smallest amount of sobriety. They had heard rumors about what happens when one looks into the Schism and no matter what their assorted views were on the matter, it was clear to all that it was a big deal. The elders wouldn’t have been wearing the ridiculous headdress if it wasn’t.
And then, they saw their destination.
More elders. More stupid headdresses. All them solemn faced like church statues. They were on each side of the path forward, a living buffer in case the youths tried to escape. This would be the last time they would see each other before everything changed. They lined up in rows, one beside another. One by one, the children was pulled away from the lineup as the sky turned into an attempted twilight.
A Gallifreyan night would never be quite as dark as an Earthly night is. The suns prevented such a thing. Yet it was always dark enough for the lone moon and some of the stars to shine through. For Anna, that was the real sight to see. The vastness of the sky was all encompassing. At times, looking out into it made her have conflicting feelings. It made her feel so small and yet she always had the thought that she could expand into it. Become a part of it. Was a part of it. This didn’t leave her, not even with the change in elevation. She craned her neck up as far as she needed to. Enough to where there was no visual intervention. Just her and the dark.
Just as quickly, she was pulled out of line.
The young girl was led roughly down the path at first by an elder. The pulling at her arm began to hurt but she didn’t say anything. The more she complained, the worse it would be. She knew that. The most she could do at that point was grit her teeth and hasten her stride. It was a relentless tugging, stopped only when another elder noticed. One stopped the other. They stepped away together to have a quick discussion while the rest of them tightened their ranks around her.
She didn’t know what the conversation was about then but some sure did. The members of House Mirraflex had made it hideously clear that they were forced to accept these–and here, I shall use the closest equivalent to their phrasing–bastardized mudball half-apes into their precious little society. With the three academic Houses deciding to look the other way and the only other military House not involved in the bickering refusing to take a side in the ordeal, Mirraflex were outnumbered when it came to the whole “letting Xianthellipse breed soldiers via lesser species” thing. Eight years later and they were still holding a grudge.
(Spoilers: they never do get over it. Call them whatever you will. I’ll just stick to calling them cunts and continue the tale.)
Eventually, there was a consensus and one elder is replaced by another, much to the relief of the smol Anna’s shoulder. She was being led gently towards the end of one life and the beginning of another.
They called it T̵̡̥̩͉̈́͐h̴͈̳͚̟́̒̈́͝ė̷͚̙̙̼̇ ̷͙̝͎̅̄͐̏̊Ư̶̫̆̅̎ņ̴͇̝̟̋͗͗̓̿t̵̳̖̮̫͈̒̆̑e̶̢̥͒͗͋̌̿m̶̡͚͈̲̯̽̉͒̅͝p̸̬͖̲̦͙̌͆͋̽e̵̜̯̼͑́́̅̈́̀r̸̮̥͂͆e̷̬͙̝͖͐͛̿̓͐̽d̷̨̹͖͈̄͋̽̀ͅ ̷͕͑̂S̴͍͆c̶̟͙̒h̶̦̹̋̽ǐ̸̠̪̱͉̺͜s̸̨̡̛̲̃m̵̯̲̩̓̐̆̒̆͌.
The first unobstructed glance into time. For many, it was enough. They never looked straight into it to start. The focus was always at the seal in front of their feet, first and foremost. This was by design. A not-at-all subtle reminder of why this was happening and for what it was happening. The leading elder could go no farther and proceeded to situate the child in her rightful place before moving away to shield his own eyes. From this point, Anna was alone. Moments went by as she steeled herself for it. Her eyes traced every curve and wave of the seal. Mimicked the lines with her tongue at the roof of her mouth.
Then she rose her line of sight into the abyss. And you know what they say about staring into the abyss.
She ran and she dove inside.
the rawness of the timestream is enough to tear your world apart the passing of millennia blurring by in an incredible clip shreds flesh and turns bone to powder leaving only your soul and even that tends to scream loudly it echoes but it doesn’t echo and it makes an awful mess and fractions of you begin to scatter in the wind if you can even call it a wind and the days go by and the hours and the monuments collapse and conquests come and go and ultimately none of it matters but at the same time everything matters and and and and
She didn’t know what they were called. Wouldn’t know until she came to Earth. But that was how the stars reacted. Like fireflies. They floated and glowed and faded and glowed again. These balls of gas were small to her and she would fail to notice that her body had grown to five-foot-seven and she wasn’t the same person anymore. The only things Anna noticed were the stars-that-are-fireflies and the Door. She tried to open the door but found it locked. It needed a key she didn’t possess.
The cells in her body that usually waged war did not do so here. For the first time (and for most of her life, this would be the only time), everything was at peace. They were at peace by revelation.
We are more than what we’re told.
We are more than what we tell.
Time is infinite.
No beginning or end.
The concept they call Change is a myth.
The idea of Time’s Motion is a myth.
Everything happens all at once.
Already we are fighting the War and already we are done with the War and already we are in the womb and already we are dead.
Already he is here with the key, turned the lock, opened the Door.
We just weren’t ready for this realization.
Even now/then/forever, it is a thing we struggle with.
Annaperennaepsilonomnicrex vol-Xianthellipse was tackled to the ground by the elders, though she didn’t know it at the time. She could not see the flying of robes and cannot hear them cursing under their breath. She did not notice her limbs flailing. All she could feel at that moment was her heart–singular, until a Regeneration–beating out of her chest, threatening to burst through her sternum. At last, the young girl passed out.
Most of the elders sighed with relief. It was a successful recovery, the first they had to do in a while. The runaways would usually…well, run away. And in any other circumstance, she would’ve been more restrained. If she was meant to be a Time Lord, she would’ve been labeled mad. But nobody thought she could’ve been all three. A runaway, a mad woman, and inspired.
Instead, her assumed suicidal tendencies were labeled as “perfect”. For a soldier, anyway.