The Kotturuh appoint themselves bringers of death and begin to judge all life in the known universe.
The people of Birinji are dedicated to peace, wisdom, and contemplation. One day they're visited by three Kotturuh, standing still as statues until the leader Majoral approaches them. One Kotturuh explains that they are tasting the crystal moths' futures, and that they see potential.
The Kotturuh are on Birinji to perform their "Great Task," as they have always done and always will: it is their duty and mission to visit every world and assess every speices, bringing the gift of death to all life. Majoral doesn't understand, and the Kotturuh explains that her people once had promise, having built cities and travelled far and wide and made peace with empires, but not anymore because they refused to trade with one species. Denied supplies, the species became warlike, and in a few centuries will destroy the moon and in an "eventual reprisal" will accidentally target the second sun, making it go nova.
Majoral speaks up for her people, stating that these events haven't happened yet, that the Kotturuh talks as though the people of Birinji are guilty of something they knew nothing about. He simply tells her that eternity is wasted on her people. Majoral has the tribe mothers gather weapons, but the Kotturuh clarifies that they mean no harm, and are simply adjusting the "lifespan" of their species, though Majoral doesn't know what a lifespan is. Her people would have lived and proliferated for ever, but will now take up as much of the universe as they deserve.
The new lifespan will be three months, three turns of the moon. "We have judged you, we have given you our gift. Now you may begin screaming," the Kotturuh explains. Majoral watches as fear and panic spread through her people and across the planet, as as the Kotturuh turn to leave, all that's left are piles of dust and the crystal moths.
And while the Kotturuh may argue and disagree, they had to start somewhere. And there are many more planets to visit.
- Birinji is the first planet visited by the Kotturuh. It has two suns, a moon, salt pillars, a blue sky, birds, and crystal moths, which no one has ever tried to eat.
- The Kotturuh introduced the idea of a "lifespan" to the universe.
- The Kotturuh possess tentacles of shimmerstone and talons, their faces wrapped in bandages sewn in gold with words from an earlier time written on them. They wear cloaks over which calculations flow.
- Majoral's father's father's father's mother was once mayor of the village when it was a city.
- In a few billion years, given the climate changes in orbit caused by the loss of the moon and Birinji's second sun going nova, the planet could become a desert or a verdant forest, but either way the crystal moths will survive.
- Majoral's people chased away salt raiders last Shadowdawn.
- The Kotturuh's "Great Task" is seeing what each species has to offer to the "Great Song;" to them, the universe is a song they wish to make beautiful and harmonious. They assess each species by tasting its timestream and assessing what value they would offer to eternity.
- The Kotturuh lament the "nice" moon's eventual destruction.
- This story was provided exclusively to those subscribed to the official Doctor Who email newsletter, which provided a link which required the entering of the password "darktimes" to read the short story.
- The Kotturuh believe they come from the universe before this one, and will bring the gift of death to all universes that come after. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)
- In the Dark Times, the Eternals were young, (TV: Enlightenment) and all life was immortal, "barring accidents," a phrase the Second Doctor expressed of the Time Lords. (TV: The War Games)