Digital Doctor

Chapter 16: Welcome to Xanadu

Chapter 16: Welcome to Xanadu

Author's Note: Finally, the secrets of Franz Hopper are revealed! The history of X.A.N.A. has been laid bare for you all! The final battle is underway! And the conclusion shall occur in just one! More! Chapter! (Plus an epilogue). Welcome, my friends, to the beginning of the end.

Doctor Quote of the Day: "As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves." – First Doctor

Lyoko Quote of the Day: "All of this is so terrible, and great at the same time." – Aelita

"Doctor, don't you dare. Don't you DARE sacrifice yourself!" Amy cried out, looking around like mad in a vain attempt to see the target of her yells. "I'm not going to lose you again, do you hear me?! If you do, I will be… So cross!"

"Amy, Amy," Rory took hold of her shoulders, forcing her to look at him. "It's going to be ok."

"Rory," she managed to breathe out, a single tear rolling down her cheek. "After everything you all went through to save me, surely we can save him?"

Rory looked down for a moment, and then shifted his gaze. Odd, Yumi, and Aelita were watching intently, invested in the drama playing before them. His mind drifted to Ulrich, still recovering in the TARDIS, before settling on all the people they had come to know and love, all the people of this world, and every other.

"He's right, Amy. If we don't take him out now, X.A.N.A. will kill thousands of people in a last stand."

"That doesn't mean that I can't give him one last slap for making me cry," Amy retorted.

"Where is he, anyway?" Odd quizzed, looking around the icy tundra. "Shouldn't he have appeared by now? Or is he really not compatible with the scanners or Lyoko?"

"Look!" Yumi shouted, interrupting the conversation. She pointed out a figure a couple hundred feet away, near an edge in the ice. The rest turned to see what she had pointed out.

It must have risen from the digital sea, as it always did when appearing to the group. Its appearance was quite distinct from the rest of Lyoko and the inhabitants thereof. It possessed no physical body, and could only be described as a luminescent orb of bright white light. Running through the ball were traces of a green aura, fluctuating throughout the heavenly body. Slowly, it hovered toward the group.

"Daddy!" Aelita called out, wasting no time to meet it half way.

"Daddy?" Amy inquired.

"I thought Franz Hopper looked… Like a hairy scientist?" Rory posed.

"We've seen him appear a few times here on Lyoko," Yumi addressed. "I'm not sure why, but that's what he always looks like."

Aelita slowed to a halt, as did the orb, once they drew near one another. Her smile was nearly as bright at the sphere's own light.

"It's good to see you, daddy. We got some help from some new friends, and we're about to take out X.A.N.A. for good." The young lady tilted her head ever so slightly, but nearly fell over when the orb spoke back to her.

"Oy, do I look old enough to be your dad? Nevermind, don't answer that." That voice, that definitely was not Franz Hopper. Was that…?

"Doctor?" Yumi asked, the group closing in on Aelita and the glowing orb.

"Great, people are starting not to recognize me. I'll need to have my arrival announced by rabbits playing trumpets from now on, or something. And what are you all staring at?"

"Doctor, how am I supposed to hit you like that?" Amy asked, crossing her arms. Meanwhile, the three kids had a small conversation amongst themselves.

"You won't have to worry about that, Pond. I'm still physical. Got lifepoints and everything. No way to defend myself either. Bit not good, that, but it's better than I was hoping for."

"Now that I look closer, I noticed something. Doctor, the aura around you is green. My dad's is magenta." Aelita tapped her chin in thought.

"Sorry, did you just compare me to your dad again? You mean he looks like me here on Lyoko?" The Doctor paused a moment, then began flitting about the group's heads, flying around like a pinball. It seemed his transformation and lack of a body did nothing to squelch his emphatic gesturing.

"No, that's not right. But it is. Of course it's true! But it can't be. Ugh! Wait, hold on, shutup everyone. I'm trying to think, I don't need the background noise. Yes, that is it. That must be it."

"What must be it, Doctor?" Yumi asked.

"He's not going to tell us," Rory shot out.

"It's not important right now," the Doctor wrote off. Rory nodded and rolled his eyes in response.

I'm sure I understand what you're going after Doctor, but we've all got bigger things to worry about right now. Guys, I'm detecting a giant signature appearing in Lyoko, and power is being drained from all the replikas around the world. You know what's coming.

"Great, so X.A.N.A.'s bringing out the big guns now," Odd complained.

"I'm more worried about any alterations he made to it," Yumi responded. The three tenured warriors immediately began searching around for any signs of the foe that was about to appear.

"Sorry, but what's coming now?" Amy asked. She rolled her shoulders to stretch them out, getting ready for a fight.

Thud! The ground shook slightly. THUD! The shaking steadily grew more violent, punctuated by short periods of peace. In the distance the group could clearly make out a lake of freezing cold water. It began to rise and rise and rise, until the creature within revealed itself, stepping onto solid ground.

"It's the kolossus!" Odd cried out, half-excited and half-nervous.

Amy and Rory looked upon this truly massive behemoth that was, no doubt, the absolute strongest of all X.A.N.A.'s monsters. The creature lived up to its name, being positively giant and built like a brute. The body appeared to be made of a solid rock-like substance, separated into large segments by huge volcanic-looking veins and joints. Its right arm was more or less normal, ending in a five fingered hand, while its left arm took the form of a gargantuan sword. The kolossus's head looked to be a round, white mask, with what appeared to be something vaguely resembling hair sticking from the top, not unlike large tree branches. Like all monsters, this one bore that eye symbol, but in not one, but two locations: One upon its face, and one in the middle of the sword blade. This beast's stature alone was terrifying enough, but then it let out a positively bestial roar as it strode toward the warriors and the Doctor.

"Oh come on!" Amy cried out. "How is that even fair?!"

"X.A.N.A. doesn't do fair. Only whatever it takes to win." Aelita narrowed her eyes and sprouted her angel wings, prepared for the tangle. "This is our last fight, guys. Absolutely anything goes. Losing is not an option."

"It's time the suffering came to an end," Yumi added, unfurling her fans. She gave her opponent the sort of glare that would paralyze a human opponent in fear.

"Oh yeah, time to knock King Kong there off his perch!" Odd taunted.

"Be brave, gang," the Doctor threw in. "I'll be investing everything I've got in making this program run."

"Oh shut up and let's do this already," scoffed Amy, winding up her arm. No more waiting, no more preparations, no more dragging it out. Everyone let out a valiant battle cry as they charged forward to end this bitter conflict once and for all.

"This isn't good, Jack. This has escalated into something way bigger than I ever thought was going to happen." Jeremie observed the various screens of the supercomputer. His voice cracked slightly, and he appeared as though he were attempting to distance himself from the entire situation, as though everything happening really was a series of bad images on a screen.

On the main monitor, he could see the overview of the Ice Sector where the final battle was being fought. Five small dots signifying the warriors, and a dot measured with a different energy signature that was the Doctor, were engaged with another signal far vaster in size than the others. A couple of the other screens were assigned to television broadcasts, and what was shown there was nothing short of horrifying. Live newscasts from all over the world was had already reported deaths in the hundreds, despite the mysterious invasion only beginning a few minutes ago. Robots of various shapes, sizes, and functionality were marching through the streets, murdering indiscriminately. Soldiers, businessmen, men, women, children, they were all equal targets for death.

The last monitor was cluttered with various bits and bytes of information, but only one of any real concern to Jeremie. The progress bar for the launch of his multi-agent anti-X.A.N.A. program had hardly been progressing at all. He was pushing the supercomputer to its limits to get this thing ready to launch, and progress was still slow. If X.A.N.A. hadn't infected dozens and dozens of sites across the world, maybe this would be going more smoothly.

"Keep your eyes on the prize, kid," Jack responded. "It's horrible, yeah, but that's why we're putting the final stop to it. And once this is over, you'll be able to live knowing you're one of the biggest heroes the earth has ever had."

Jeremie refused to dignify that with a response. Did Jack see this whole thing as some glory trip? That rubbed the boy the wrong way. This was about saving lives and doing the right thing… Even if it only started out as a self-centered power fantasy.

"Wait, something else is showing up." Jeremie pushed his glasses up and double checked the main screen, pulling a quick analysis on the information that revealed itself.

"We've got another signature emerging from the Digital Sea that's almost identical to the Doctor. That can only mean one thing!" Jeremie was ecstatic, all traces of the depression immediately gone from his voice and body language.

"What does that mean?" Jack asked, genuinely curious.

"It's gotta be Franz Hopper! He's showed up to help us!"

The kolossus swung its mighty blade arm down at the warriors, cutting deeply into the icy ground they stood upon. It was a close call, but everyone managed to avoid the tremendous blow. The main problem now was the newly formed trench between them and their target.

Aelita took to the air, being the only one that was not hindered by such an obstacle, and resolved to distract the monster until her allies could find themselves in a better position.

"Energy field!" Aelita flew straight upward until she came face to face with the creature, in a manner of speaking, and hurled her attack at it dead center.

The kolossus let out a low groan, and its movements slowed. It was struck in one of the weak points, but that did not defeat it. Taking the opportunity, Aelita fired off another orb toward the eye on its sword arm. This attempt was for naught, as the kolossus recovered just in time to barely tilt its arm, causing the blast to bounce harmlessly off the solid skin.

"We need to hit both targets simultaneously!" she informed the group, narrowly avoiding the creature's open palm and being swatted out of the sky.

"Great, so in other words, fighting this thing can't possibly get more difficult!" Amy complained. She had reached the kolossus's leg and began to scale it.

"Why would you say something like that?!" Odd shouted. He had just arrived near the other leg, and took careful aim at the target on its sword arm.

Suddenly, the kolossus's arms began to droop, melting like a cheese left in the hot sun too long. Long beads ran down the sides of the arms and split off from the main body, connected at one end like long cables. Dozens of these cables shot out, blocking the projectile Odd had just barely let loose, and smacking Amy off of the beast's foot. Odd himself barely had the time to tumble out of the way of incoming cable whips, while Yumi gracefully flipped through the onslaught.

"Ok, what the heck did it just do?" Yumi asked as she landed next to Rory. The group spied the cables pulling back into the main body of the kolossus, reintegrating with its form.

The kolossus held out its hand for the entire group to see. Writhing masses of its own body formed on its outstretched palm, slowly at first, but quickly they developed. These masses finally solidified into a humanoid form, each one with an Eye of X.A.N.A. on its chest, each one otherwise a perfect recreation of one of the group. Aelita, Odd, Yumi, Amy, and Rory stared on as more continued to be formed, taking on a life of their own, and charging forward. It was a small army of dopplegangers.

"Oh, lovely," Amy sighed. "It's made of Flesh."

The Doctor had pulled away from the kolossus once it had revealed itself. There wasn't anything he could do in this fight, but then again he wasn't there for the fighting. What he was there for, by his calculations, should be appearing any moment.

Right on time it was! And it matched the description perfectly, too. Another bright, glowing sphere rose from the depths of the Digital Sea, slightly different in color highlight, but otherwise completely indistinguishable from the Doctor himself.

These two orbs approached one another, but no words were exchanged. Words were not necessary. In this form, communication could be accomplished so much more easily another way.

They continued drifting toward one another, inching closer and closer, threatening to bounce right off the other like a couple of super balls. Once the two came within a hair's breadth, their dual motion changed. Like a binary star system, the two glowing lights began an orbit between one another. With this, the connection was established. With this, they could so easily understand one another.

The entire setting changed. No longer did the two hover mere feet above an icy wasteland, but instead they stood, in their own bodies, atop a tall golden tower. They were easily at the highest point in the city, with all kinds of buildings surrounding them, but so far down. In the distance, the Doctor could spy fields of red grass, one of his favorite areas to play in as a child.

The Doctor smiled, but chose to pay no more attention to his surroundings. This was not the Second City of Arcadia on his home world of Gallifrey, this was an illusion, a mental construct. The man before him, however, was very much real.

The Doctor struggled to think of a better word to describe the man than weary. His clothing was just like the picture the Doctor had seen of Franz Hopper, but clearly aged. The green turtleneck sweater had faded considerably. The white lab coat was dusty and dirty, not to mention covered in holes, rips, and tears. Yes, the clothing was the same, but the man himself was not. He appeared significantly older, at least in his early seventies, by human standards. His facial features were sharp, and his cheek bones looked as though one could cut their hand attempting to slap him. His hair still had some color to it, but was significantly shorter than in the picture, not to mention it came with a natural curl. The man's lips were thin, but parted slightly, eternally, as though he always possessed a smug sense of control. No beard, just bits of stubble. His eyes were still hidden behind a pair of glasses, but the lenses were so thick his eyes were almost in another world, like some godly force staring down from on high.

Yes, the Doctor struggled to think of a better work to describe the man than weary, but ultimately he settled on pride.

"Franz Hopper, I presume?" the Doctor feigned emotional coolness. Truth be told, he could barely restrain himself, and it showed all over his face.

"There's no need to address me by that name, Doctor," the man replied, his coolness very much sincere, not the least bit fabricated. "I have to say, I would be honored if you would call me by the name our people know me."

"You're talking to me rather familiarly," the Doctor posited, "For a man I've never had the pleasure to meet in person."

"And I have never had the pleasure of meeting you either. Until now, that is. Circumstances could have been better." The man gave a half-hearted sigh and pulled up two chairs, in which both he and the Doctor sat.

"Me, a pleasure? You, a member of the Second Caste, one of the most achieved innovators in Gallifreyan history, with the record for the greatest number of inventions, former member of the High Council, holding honors superseded only by the likes of Lord President Rassilon? A renegade Time Lord like the Doctor should be beneath your pedigree by a fair margin." The Doctor scoffed at the other man's words, almost making a mockery of them in the way he referred to the various achievements of his peer.

"I am a renegade as well, or have you forgotten that fact, Doctor?" the other man inquired, raising his finger to make his point. "You might say we are the opposite, you and I. You spent your whole life running from our people and our customs, and did everything you could to remain neutral in the Time War. That is, until you returned."

The Doctor stared at the other man, all traces of his emotions gone. At the mention of the war, he seized up, unable to express anything. He merely continued to listen to his peer without interruption.

"Whereas I worked tirelessly to win the war for Gallifrey, creating new weapons, new strategies… At least, in the early days." The man's eyes drifted to the side, and for a mere fleeting fraction of a second, he lost the image of a man that held total control and love of himself.

"But then I ran," he said, bringing himself back to the story. "The escalating insanity of the whole ordeal turned out to be too much for me, not much longer after you joined the war. I have to say, fascinating coincidence, isn't it?"

"We thought you had died," the Doctor shot back, his voice laced with venom. "The high council, the military leaders, all our friends and allies against the Daleks, we grieved for you when you disappeared."

"I am not ashamed of my actions," the other man cut off, a hint of stubbornness to his voice. "Spending every hour of every day crafting new weapons, new achievements in horror and violence, it was too much. I couldn't do it anymore, once I designed the Nightmare Child.

"Yes, I ran, but that bloody conflict did not need another warrior. Not when it had you, Doctor."

The Doctor did not react to these words, though they seared into his hearts like hot knives. He knew them to be true, more so than anyone else. Hate it as he did, he had accepted that.

"I wanted to go back to what I did before the Time War erupted, to go back to creating goodness and life! So I found my way here, on earth, and began my work once again. I barely managed to escape the time lock the high council put around the war, and found myself very lonely since then. But now you are here, Doctor. Tell me how we survived. Show me how Gallifrey has been rebuilt, and how beautiful it is now! Use this psychic projection and show me the new age Gallifrey has created!"

The Doctor blinked, caught off guard. He didn't know. This man, he did not know what happened. Well, that actually made sense, thinking about it. He has been on earth since escaping the war, with no form of contact. And now the Doctor had to tell him… Had to tell him what had happened. What he had done. It was a blessing to find another Time Lord, but that blessing may have been a disguise.

The scenery around the two Time Lords began to crumble away. The golden tower fell countless feet below them, crashing into the ground. The city fell apart, crumpled into heaps of raw material. The landscape surrounding them set itself ablaze, burning until nothing remained by ash. Finally, everything around them turned to dust. Even the two suns of Gallifrey went out, leaving them in empty darkness.

"… Gallifrey… Did not survive. You and I, we're the only ones. Just the Doctor… And the Sire."

"At least they're nowhere near as strong as us!" Yumi bisected two of her clones in a single motion before spinning around to kick a Flesh duplicate of Amy's, splattering it onto the ground.

"Yeah, but they keep getting back up!" Odd complained, firing multiple arrows into a downed opponent. The material making it up merely recollected itself and, true to his word, got right back up.

Amy had a hold of two duplicates, one by the wrist and one by the ankle, in the process of spinning them around like a carousel. Wading into the oncoming army, her improvised weapons plowed through the enemy like no other, sending them flying and knocking them back. Unfortunately, they didn't stay down.

Aelita was doing the best she could keeping her own clones distracted and away from the rest of the team. She was the only one with the advantage of flight, but that meant that so did her dopplegangers. One by one she blasted them apart, and her attacks did appear to be the most effective, but even the power of Aelita's energy fields were only a temporary stopper to the continually reforming army of clones.

Rory was having the most difficult time of them all. He had neither Amy's durability, nor the lifepoint count to take any chances. He couldn't heal himself, meaning he was still only at ten lifepoints from the battles they had already dealt with, and if he were taken down, the team would be at a severe disadvantage. Well, moreso than they already were.

Amy continued her warpath, determined to make it to the main body of the kolossus and knock it down a couple of pegs, but she was so focused she couldn't see the forest with the trees in the way. The clones she had been swinging around like a couple of flails began to morph within her hands. The Flesh that composed their bodies ebbed toward her arms, wrapping down and around until they began to constrict her movements.

"Er! Ugh!" Amy flailed, trying to get the creatures off of her, but they were stuck like glue.

"Amy, look out!" Rory called out to his wife, diving toward her.

The kolossus was not sitting the fight out just because it had sent a legion to soften up the competition. While they were distracted, the great being simply lifted its massive foot, and brought it straight down at the battlefield, aiming right for Amy. Rory reacted just in time, tossing her aside and saving her. The price, in his mind, was small: he was devirtualized in her place, crushed beneath the tremendous body of their foe.

"Hiyah!"

A war fan spun through the air, slicing up a portion of the Flesh that had grappled Amy, freeing up her left arm. With a fair amount of difficulty, and no small amount of spite, Amy wrenched the creature attached to her right arm and smashed it into the ground.

"Rory!" she screamed, but had no time to process his loss from the battle. The kolossus had already readjusted itself to attempt another assault on the Amazon woman, this time by stabbing straight down with its blade arm.

"Get out of there!" Odd warned, once it looked like Amy wasn't going to move.

"Even if you were still empowered by X.A.N.A., you wouldn't be strong enough to take that attack head on!" Aelita shot out. This distraction cost her a few lifepoints as she received a sucker punch from one of the Odd duplicates.

"I'm not running!" Amy called back in response, though she never took her eyes off of the slow, impending attack. "And I'm not going head on, either."

The kolossus's blade was nary a few feet from Amy before she made her move. Her powerful legs pushed her high up into the air, leaving behind a miniature crater before the behemoth's blow expanded it. Once high up, she reached out and grabbed into the arm, pulling herself up onto the beast's weapon like a sloped platform. The Scotswoman gave a small cheer for herself before taking off like an Olympic sprinter toward the target on that blade.

Seeing what she was doing, Aelita flew into action herself. In order to kill the kolossus, they had to strike both eyes simultaneously, or leave one injured while the other was hit. Now that Amy was scaling her way to target number one, she could position herself for target number two.

"Gotcha!" Amy exclaimed, diving toward her target, fist outstretched.

"Energy field!" Aelita cried out, tossing one of her largest projectiles ever manifested. Both attacks went straight for their intended targets with perfect aim. There was absolutely no chance they could miss. But they could be stopped.

Seconds before Amy's fist struck true, the kolossus's flesh reached up in the form of dozens of tendrils, restraining her. Completely halted, incapable of fighting back, the tendrils tossed Amy straight toward the ground, where she crashed with a mighty roar.

As for Aelita's attack on the monster's face, that failed in one of the most bizarre ways it possibly could have. As the energy attack neared its target, the creature's head split itself in half, vertically, as though parted by some invisible zipper. The attack passed harmlessly through the air, before the kolossus reformed its head.

"Ok, did I see what I think I just saw, or did staying up until four in the morning just really mess with my head?" Odd ducked, narrowly avoiding the attack of a doppelganger Yumi before firing back his own projectile.

Rory is back here with Jack and I. He's safe. Meanwhile, I'm not liking what's going on here. The program is only at twenty-five percent and we haven't gotten that boost from the Doctor. He and Hopper are just floating around in one spot. It's weird.

"Yeah, that sounds like my Doctor," Amy grumbled, pulling herself up from the crater her body had impacted into the ice.

"How about a lifepoint update, Jeremie?" Yumi asked, cutting off the wings of a fake Aelita.

Amy is at seventy. Odd and Aelita are both at fifty. Yumi, you're sitting at forty.

"It's nice to know where we're at, but I think a strategy to beat that thing would go a lot farther," suggested Odd, flipping over a small group of opponents. "I mean, one of the targets is literally painted on its face! How are we supposed to take it out when it will always see anything we throw at it coming?!"

Amy punted one of the creatures, which had been sneaking up behind Odd, directly into a group of its peers. They all collapsed like bowling pins.

"I've got a plan, but it won't be easy." Aelita blasted another one of her doubles from the sky. "The target on its face, it'll always be prepared to defend. The target on its arm though, it can lose track of. Remember that when we can get a hit in on one of those targets it slows down, or gets paralyzed for a moment."

"So if we can hit the arm target in a sneak attack first," Yumi posited, split-kicking a couple enemies. "That'll open up the chance to hit it in the face!"

"Right," Aelita confirmed. "I'm the only one that can hit the second target, though. There's no way anybody else can move fast enough to get there in the small window we'll have."

"That means the rest of us will just have to blitz the giant, pointy arm of stabby death, then. Very cool." Amy nodded, genuinely somewhat excited at the prospect. "Then let's do it, team!"

The Sire and the Doctor sat together silently, completely speechless. Time passed by so much more quickly in the mental plane they had connected on, and yet so much of that time was spent in quiet contemplation. The duo had been as quiet as the empty blackness that surrounded them. The Sire could scarcely comprehend what he had heard, or at least that's what the Doctor could gather.

"You used The Moment." The silence had finally been broken, and the Sire looked at the Doctor through those thick glasses. Somehow, his eyes seemed bigger, much closer now.

"You used the most devastating, advanced, and horrendous weapon ever created. The Galaxy Eater. You killed them all." They weren't questions. The Sire was not asking for confirmation on what he had heard, he was repeating the claim out loud. The man did not sound very sad at this revelation. To the Doctor, he heard disappointment, yes, but it did not appear to be disappointment in the Doctor himself.

"When I escaped the Time War and came to earth, I began so lonely. I don't have to tell you how difficult it is being so brilliant in a land where everyone is… Well, any land that isn't Gallifrey."

The Doctor nodded.

"I went to work constructing and building for these people, but I had to be careful on what I did for them. Just enough to let them recognize my genius, but nothing too advanced for their primitive culture. That is such an amazingly tiny line to walk, I have to say, Doctor.

"Then I was chosen for something called Project Carthage. It seemed like a good opportunity at the time, and I was happy just to take part in the design process in… Some small way." The manner in which the Sire smiled betrayed his true feelings of superiority.

"Life among humans, posing as them, attempting to think like them, the stress of it all is overwhelming, I have to say."

"You could have used a Chameleon Arch to become human," suggested the Doctor.

"And forget myself? My roots? To forget Gallifrey? How much of Gallifrey would you choose to forget, Doctor?" The Sire leaned in closer as he posed the question. His sharp features and deep gaze cut into the Doctor, but not nearly as much as the question.

"More than I feel comfortable to admit." He barely whispered his answer, ashamed of every word of it.

"I may have run from the war, but I still take pride in our home. I must say that I would not dismiss it so easily."

"I must say, I can see that," replied the Doctor, mocking his peer's verbal tick. The Sire did not seem to catch on. That, or he did notice and simply didn't care.

"In any case, the one place I could be myself, the one place I felt comfortable, was inside my type-200 TARDIS, Xanadu." The Doctor perked up a moment, while the Sire went on happily reminiscing. "We would spend many nights together, while I spoke to her about my new job, new life, new everything. I could tell she was the jealous type, but she accepted it."

"Xanadu?" the Doctor inquired. "You named your TARDIS Xanadu?"

"Yes. She was my own personal Heaven, my promised land. The only bit of Gallifrey still with me. The only bit of Gallifrey anywhere now, I suppose. And she's gone insane." For the first time since they had begun their psychic link, the Sire dropped his guard completely. The sense of pride was completely gone; there was now only a world weary old man, deeply disturbed by the past, depressed by his actions.

"Continue the story," urged on the Doctor.

"Yes, well," he began, roused back to the present. "I must say, Project Carthage took its toll on me. I started out thinking it was decent work for the people I was supporting, but the more I looked into the details, the more I realized I was wrong.

"Project Carthage was being designed not as a defensive tool to disrupt enemy communications, as the project leader had informed us, but as a weapon to completely wipe out the opposition. Computers were just becoming widespread, and a sort of proto-internet system had been setup. Carthage was designed to interfere with communications, yes, but by using a virus which would transmit itself through the airwaves, riding any electronic signal, regardless as to whether the computer were connected to a larger network or not, and completely destroying all communications. This would create anarchy, social disorder on a grand scale. Looting, murders, widespread panic… After the things I was forced to create during the war, I… I just couldn't allow that to happen.

"I had worked with a woman on the project, a most amazing human woman. Her name was Anthea Hopper. I always felt more comfortable around my machines and computers than people, even back home, but I must say, Anthea had a certain… Distinction about her. Why are you looking at me like that?"

"What look? I'm not giving a look. Go on, don't stop." The Doctor worked hard to conceal his smile. Love was always something that had gotten to him, at least in this regeneration.

"Well, Anthea and I discovered the true purpose behind the project, but our attempt at sabotage failed, so we ran. I brought her to Xanadu and, in my most vulnerable moment to date, revealed my true self to her. She was fascinated by our Time Lord sciences, certainly, but she was more fascinated with me. Xanadu, she just wanted me to be happy, and brought us to France, away from everything.

"I never knew it was possible, but my relationship with Anthea gave us a child."

"Aelita," the Doctor nodded.

"Yes, my little girl, Aelita." The Sire gestured with his hand before continuing. "We both loved her deeply, but decided not to tell her about my origins. Not until she was old enough to properly process and understand it.

"In the meantime, I had to work on a method of stopping Project Carthage. I must say, I felt a certain degree of… Responsibility. It wasn't difficult finding a way to stop the project; the hurdle was finding a way to stop the project that would look in line with the humans' beliefs and current technologies. Too primitive, and any attempts would be defused. Too grand, and any evidence left behind for them to find could prove disastrous. Alien technology and human ignorance is truly the most remarkable achievement in the universe."

"I completely agree," interjected the Doctor. "But please, go on."

"Not only that, but somehow, somebody was capable of tracking my TARDIS. Wherever Xanadu went, she attracted humans dressed in all black, desperately seeking me out. It was a most peculiar thing.

"And so the answer came to me, and I dreaded it. It was horrible, but I must say, it was the best possibility given the parameters of the circumstances."

"That's when you created X.A.N.A." The Doctor stared down the other Time Lord, expecting the Sire to avoid meeting his gaze. He was wrong. The Sire stared back defiantly, completely unwavering in his confidence.

"I feel nothing but remorse for what I did to Xanadu, but she volunteered for the procedure. She recognized that these men in black suits were tracking her, and she knew that I needed a way to end Carthage once and for all. The process of taking her personality matrix and turning it into an earth-based program… It haunts every dream I have had since."

The Doctor readjusted himself. This story made a certain amount of sense, sad as it was.

"And now that she's been diminished, she doesn't even remember that she volunteered for the process in the first place."

"Very astute, I must say." The Sire nodded. "She was always protective of me, always loyal. Yes, being diminished like that, losing her near infinite processing ability, she failed to recognize, or remember, that it was her own way of protecting me and my new family. I've tried reasoning with her, but she feels betrayed, overwhelmed by emotions of hatred and jealousy."

"I feel your pain, believe me, and I feel hers. Unfortunately, empathy is not exactly the best thing we can do right now, seeing as how your TARDIS has launched an all out attack on the people of the earth, and just failed a mad attempt at rewriting all of existence."

"Do not imply that I do not feel the weight of the situation," the Sire shot back, anger giving energy to his voice once again. "I am the Sire. I am a Time Lord of Gallifrey, and have lived for nearly ten thousand years. We have both made great and terrible mistakes, Doctor. It is because of yours that neither of us shall ever stand upon the fields of our home once more. It is because of mine that innocents are dying right now. I still have time to contain the damage of my mistake, Doctor. From where I am standing, you have no right to judge me."

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