The day after the incident with the Red Jade General, the Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzalez, Cindy Wu, and Noobis are checking the ruins of the General's palace, to make sure he is truly destroyed and couldn't have escaped. Despite the fact that something is bothering the Doctor, there are no signs the General survived.
Cindy's clones, after being given names by the original Cindy, say farewell to Gabby, before departing. Gabby walks away from the group, crying, with Cindy following her. The Doctor is worried, but gets distracted by the TARDIS making strange noises.
Cindy tries to comfort Gabby by coming up with a name for the one clone she didn't name, the one who died, but her calm demeanor upsets Gabby. Gabby can't get the image of that clone out of her head, because it could've been the original Cindy who died. Neither Gabby nor Cindy can regenerate like the Doctor can. To Gabby, every life is precious, including Cindy's clones.
The two hear the TARDIS making noise. Gabby can tell that the TARDIS is unhappy. The two head back to the TARDIS, where Noobis tells them that the Doctor has detected an anomaly that's affecting the TARDIS. Cindy takes a moment to look back outside and say goodbye to her clones, before stepping back in. The TARDIS dematerialises as the clones continue on their journey.
The Doctor reveals that the fortress was clear, but that the TARDIS has somehow gotten a case of the hiccups. The TARDIS gathers up energy for maintenance purposes, but right now, is absorbing some minor Vortex Oscillations. As far as the Doctor is concerned, it's nothing to worry about right now, but is something to keep an eye on.
Time passes, with the Doctor and his companions having adventures, including a visit to the planet Aramuko, where Noobis decides to stay for a while. Gabby is affected by that particular trip, because she's started having a strange, recurring dream.
Sometime after this, the Doctor lands the TARDIS in a house he owns at Willesden, in the year 2009. He's decided to leave Gabby and Cindy here to get some time to relax. Gabby isn't fooled. She knows something is wrong, especially since the TARDIS is still acting strange, and the Doctor is purposely leaving them behind so he can investigate. She's worried that the Doctor will end up needing them. The Doctor reassures her, asking her to trust him. He heads back into the TARDIS and departs.
He lands on a desolate planet and exits the TARDIS, calling out for whoever sent him a message to come here. Walking a short distance, he sees another version of his TARDIS and is greeted by the Twelfth Doctor. The Tenth Doctor knows his future self wouldn't have set up this meeting unless it was serious and knows it has to do with the strange anomalies. He realises the Twelfth Doctor is going to tell him that the anomalies are emanating from his own TARDIS. Since the Twelfth Doctor is here, the Tenth Doctor knows he'll find the solution. However, according to the Twelfth Doctor, he won't like that solution.
The Tenth Doctor points out that giving him a warning is pointless, as he won't remember this encounter, but the Twelfth Doctor reveals that there are enough reinforced temporal echoes around this event to help the Tenth Doctor retain certain helpful impressions.
Going over to a rock wall, the Twelfth Doctor draws Gallifreyan symbols on it with a piece of chalk. He talks to the Tenth Doctor about Rogue Vortex Artifacts and how dangerous they are. He also comments on Gabby and Cindy, Gabby in particular, causing the Tenth Doctor to realise something. Before the Tenth Doctor departs, the Twelfth Doctor gives him the piece of chalk, saying it might help him remember more of this encounter than he would've normally been able to.
Back on Earth, Gabby and Cindy look at the supplies the Doctor had left for them to use. Gabby is worried that a rift is forming between her and the Doctor, because she got too close to him, and thus he's pushing her away. Cindy tries to reassure Gabby, but Gabby ends the conversation, because she can sense someone is at the door. Cindy goes to investigate, but the power suddenly goes out. Going back to Gabby, Cindy is horrified to see that Gabby is surrounded by a strange aura and glowing butterflies.
The Doctor lands the TARDIS on the Mechma Onzlo III Station, where he is greeted by Onzlo and Marteek, old friends of his. He's come here to get a device he can use to record temporal wakes and register any kind of vortex spill. Normally, the Doctor could build such a device himself, but he's in a hurry and it would be quicker for him to adapt an existing device. Checking his inventory, Onzlo finds a Xerobian Quantisized Radiant Core Monitor. However, it's currently stored on the other side of the station, so the Doctor joins the duo for drinks, while he waits for the monitor to be brought to him.
On Aramuko, Noobis is sitting on a bench. Another Osiran walks up to him and asks him if she can sit there. Surprised, Noobis allows her to.
Back on Earth, Gabby is aware of a person outside and predicts what that person is going to do, before the aura and butterflies vanish. She tells Cindy to get down seconds before a sonic attack fills the room. A woman enters through the back door and apologises to the two. She had detected a localized time anomaly. She introduces herself as Sarah Jane Smith. The Doctor had asked her to look in on the duo. As Sarah helps Cindy to her feet, Gabby falls unconscious. Scanning her, Sarah determines that Gabby has a mild fever and is completely exhausted, but is going to be fine. The two let Gabby rest while they talk. Sarah reveals that she was a former companion of the Doctor, even showing some pictures she has. After ordering some food, she asks Cindy to tell her everything. Cindy breaks down over what happened to her and her clones.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is dreaming about his time at the Academy, being lectured by Borusa. He is awakened by Marteek, who has brought over the monitor. The Doctor then discovers that, in his sleep, he had used the piece of chalk to draw Gallifreyan symbols all over the TARDIS. He activates the monitor and gives it the name "Marcie". He tells Marcie to record the symbols on the TARDIS, and then to scan for any temporal phenomena beyond the TARDIS. Marcie doesn't find anything, but there is interference being caused by some of the equipment on the station. The Doctor tells her to disregard, and then says goodbye to Marteek, before departing with Marcie in the TARDIS.
On Aramuko, Noobis is talking with Siffhoni, the Osiran he met earlier. They take a walk outside, and Siffhoni gives Noobis her details so they can meet again.
The Doctor moves the TARDIS to an empty region of space, so that Marcie can try the scan again. Marcie warns him that the scan will take time, but the Doctor tells it to take all the time it needs.
Back on Earth, Gabby awakens from a lucid dream to discover she has written some Gallifreyan symbols in her journal. Going downstairs, she is greeted by Cindy and Sarah. The moment Gabby touches Sarah's hand, she gets a vision of Sarah and the Fourth Doctor encountering Sutekh. Cindy decides to send a text to the Doctor. Sarah offers some breakfast to Gabby.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor has determined that there are no emanations or any evidence of anomalies from the TARDIS at all. He asks Marcie if it has found anything yet. However, Marcie hasn't found anything. It asks the Doctor if the symbols, temporal equations, were of any use to him. Unfortunately, the equations are useless to the Doctor without the proper context.
Marcie then detects something. However, it is having trouble defining the data, let alone interpreting it. Adjusting the scan to eliminate all wake activity from the TARDIS, Marcie is unable to produce a visual image. Extrapolating the data, Marcie determines that it is detecting a song and that it is getting closer. Since Marcie can't produce an image, the Doctor heads over to the door to take a look. Looking outside, the Doctor is shocked to see a large Vortex creature, in the form of a butterfly.
The Vortex Butterfly sends a tendril of energy at the TARDIS. It enters the control room, circles around the console, and then returns to the Butterfly. The Doctor orders Marcie to patch into the navigational systems, so they can follow the Butterfly.
Back on Earth, Sarah has finished all the scans she can on Gabby and finds nothing wrong with her. Sarah offers to show the two around London.
The TARDIS has arrived at one of the emptiest gulfs of space in the universe. However, there is a rogue star system in this sector of space, one that shouldn't be there at all. The Doctor scans the system, determining that the star is made of degenerate, exotic matter. However, a nearby planetoid isn't experiencing any radiation it should be experiencing from the star. Marcie detects an artificial plasma umbrella around the planetoid and that it has habitable conditions. The Doctor decides to investigate, despite the TARDIS being hesitant to land on the planetoid.
Back on Earth, Cindy asks Gabby if she wants to explore London with her, but Gabby declines, as she's signed up for an art class. Cindy is disappointed, because she wants to spend some quality time with Gabby, without any of the usual stuff involved with travelling with the Doctor. Gabby tells Cindy that she can't give Cindy what she wants. Cindy points out the Gabby doesn't know what Cindy wants, as the two haven't really talked to each other since China. Gabby admits that she doesn't even know what she wants. Listening to Sarah made Gabby realise how incredible her life is. However, she knows that it might end one day. She needs some ordinary life experience for today, and drawing is how she does that. It calms her, reminds her of who she is. Gabby exits the house, leaving behind a saddened Cindy.
Back at the planetoid, the TARDIS has successfully landed on it. The Doctor tells Marcie to wait in the TARDIS and to not come out unless he calls for it. Stepping outside, the Doctor calls out a greeting, only for his sonic screwdriver to fly out of his hand. Understanding the Butterfly's desire for him to not use any devices, the Doctor tells it about why he came, about the problem affecting the TARDIS. He expresses his hope that the Butterfly can help him find a solution to the problem.
Back on Earth, weeks have passed. Cindy is enjoying her time in London, but she finds herself not only missing Noobis, but also missing Gabby, despite the fact the two live in the same house. Sarah offers Cindy a cup of tea, and the two talk. Cindy suggests that Sarah could become the leader of the Earth, but Sarah shoots that down. Being where she is, saving the planet, is where's she's needed. A person has to know where their talents lie, like Gabby. Sarah is amazed at Gabby's drawings.
Sarah notices that Gabby hasn't returned from class yet. Cindy laments that it's Gabby's way of coping with everything. Sarah looks at one of the pictures, containing an image of the Cindy clone that was killed by the Red Jade General. Cindy explains what happened to her and about how her death has shaken Gabby. Sarah theorises that maybe Cindy feels the way she does about Gabby, because Gabby helped her clones/ancestors. Cindy has always felt like she knew Gabby forever. She associates Gabby with protection, bravery, loyalty, and even love. Sarah suggests that maybe Cindy simply loves Gabby, because she's Gabby.
Cindy is amazed, wondering how Sarah is just able to know things. Sarah explains that it comes from experience. She tells Cindy that she once knew a lovely, brave, silly man. It took her years to realise how he felt about her, but by that time, it was too late. She advises Cindy to not make the same mistake she did.
Over at the art class, Gabby is singing as she draws. The song travels from Earth all the way to the planetoid where the Doctor is. He hears the song and looks up to see that the Vortex Butterfly has appeared. He greets the Butterfly, wondering just what it is. He knows it's a native to the Time Vortex, but one he has never seen before. He tells it that he finds it both beautiful and a little scary, like any force of nature. He then talks about the rogue system, noticing that it had been created by the Butterfly scavenging bits of other systems from all over the universe. But, such an action is insane, as it would have taken a great deal of time to accomplish, almost more time than the universe has existed, so far. Of course, the Doctor knows that both he and the Butterfly know that it's a human way of perceiving time. This begs the question of how the Butterfly, a native to the Vortex, ended up with a human perception of time, and how did it get here. The Butterfly responds, telling the Doctor that he left it here.
The Doctor is surprised, as he's sure he's never met the Butterfly before, but it insists that he left it there. The Butterfly starts shooting energy bolts at the ground as it talks about the Doctor's existence. At that moment, Marcie appears in the doorway, intending to warn the Doctor about something, but the Butterfly electrocutes Marcie, insisting that the Doctor not use any more gizmos. The use of the word "gizmos" makes the Doctor realise, in horror, that the Butterfly is Gabby.
Back on Earth, Gabby is singing and drawing, not noticing her fellow students are reacting in horror to something, until the time equations she's drawn on her picture rise off the paper and float upward. Looking up, Gabby sees that the Vortex Butterfly has appeared in the sky, and she can see images of people she knows, including the Doctor.
The Vortex Butterfly asks the Doctor if he knows where songs come from. She muses that a good song, once heard, spreads itself into the ears, hearts, and memories of those who hear it, echoing forever in the collective consciousness. But, those songs have to begin somewhere. The Butterfly asks the Doctor if he can hear her song. An image of Gabby appears in the Butterfly, singing her song while drawing. The Butterfly proclaims that she has heard too many variations, reflections, and repetitions of that song. The Butterfly muses on how innocent Gabby looks, not comprehending what her song will grow into, not knowing that, one day, the Doctor will abandon her. The Butterfly laments about how all she wanted was to learn from the Doctor, to help him. He had promised to show her the universe, but in the end, he left her here.
The Butterfly asks if the Doctor can recognise her song, and he does. It's the song Gabby is always singing, but he can't accept that he abandoned her. Smaller butterflies coalesce at the center of the Butterfly, taking on the form of Gabby. The future Gabby confirms that he left her here. She has explored all the possible alternate scenarios, and they all end with him leaving her here.
The Doctor notices that the butterflies are Vortex energy, expressed and echoed through the abilities of a time sensitive. But, Gabby isn't a time sensitive, she's human. The future Gabby admits that she's not human anymore, and this is why the Doctor left her here. She had become too toxic to the TARDIS, too dangerous to wander around the universe. The Doctor can't accept this, proclaiming it to be impossible. Gabby agrees. It is impossible for this to happen to an ordinary human. However, Gabby says she is "transhuman", more than human, and that the Doctor made her.
She shows him images from the past. She shows her first trip in the TARDIS, when Zhe's apprentice infected her with the organic Block Transfer Matrix. She then shows the time both she and the Doctor were injected with Osiran Medical Nanobots. While the Doctor's Gallifreyan metabolism cleared his system of the nanobots, Gabby wasn't so lucky. The nanobots inside her mutated and fused with her Block Transfer abilities. Then, constant exposure to the Chronon radiation of the TARDIS caused a link to form between Gabby and the TARDIS's Artron field, causing Gabby to evolve into the being the Doctor is seeing now. The Doctor refuses to accept this, as it hasn't happened yet in his timeline. He had been mistaken is his belief that the TARDIS was ill. It was the bond with Gabby that was causing the odd behaviour. However, the effects of the bond can be reversed. Gabby denies this. As far as she's concerned, her song is over. She's nothing more than echoes, an endless, fluttering, fading sequence of vortex butterflies.
Back on Earth, the present Gabby can see the image of the Doctor talking to the Butterfly. She pulls out her phone and calls Sarah, telling her that strange things are happening again. Sarah already knows, as Gabby's drawings have started floating in the air, behaving like Block Transfer art. She and Cindy will drive over and get her. While she's waiting, she watches the projection of the Doctor.
Back on the planetoid, the Butterfly tells the Doctor that she's been good while she's been trapped here. She tried to make things, build things with everything the Doctor taught her. She created the entire rogue system through a mixture of foraging backwards and forwards through time, and Block Transfer experimentation. She shows him a large wall with a drawing of Gabby with all the people she's met in her travels with the Doctor. She's been here for so long, that she no longer remembers how long it's been. She's been trying to hold onto the memories of the people she's knows, the people she misses. She's been consumed by loneliness.
The Doctor begs her to stop this. He can change this, prevent these events from occurring. He begs the Butterfly to trust him. She reacts with rage. She did trust him. She always trusted him. She loved him, like how all his past companions loved him, and yet, he left her here. She begins projecting images of past companions, with the Doctor saddened by this, refusing to accept that he will lose another companion to a tragic fate. He begs her to stop tormenting him like this, a sentiment shared by the present Gabby, who is communicating to them from Earth.
Gabby points out that the Doctor has suffered enough, thanks to the Time War. She doesn't know if the Butterfly is really her future self, or only thinks she is, but Gabby refuses to ever become a being who would torture the Doctor. The Butterfly proclaims that she is inevitable, that Gabby will become her. The Doctor tells Gabby to tell Sarah to use anything she's got to isolate and contain Gabby's temporal signature. The Butterfly splits a copy of itself, which chases after Gabby to stop her. The Doctor tells Gabby that he will be back soon and to not let the Butterfly get inside her head. Gabby runs from the Butterfly, calling Sarah and passing on the Doctor's instructions.
The Doctor tells the Butterfly that this can be corrected, that she can be cured. His Gabby has just proven that. The Butterfly cuts him off, asking him how cruel he is. She is his Gabby. She is the same person as the Gabby in London.
On Earth, the Butterfly tells Gabby that she can't undo what has already happened, but Gabby is sure that she can. She may not have heard much of the Butterfly's conversation with the Doctor, but she knows that she doesn't want to become the Butterfly, no matter what. Before she first met the Doctor, she learned that a creative mind will always find a way. What the Doctor taught her was to believe in herself.
On the planetoid, the Doctor reminds the Butterfly that she stated that she's nothing more than echoes. But, Gabby is fighting against this fate, changing the present. It's the key to being able to unknot this paradox. Gabby still trusts the Doctor and he refuses to betray that trust. The Doctor then notices that floating images of the temporal equations from earlier have appeared around him and now he understands what they're for.
On Earth, Sarah and Cindy arrive in Sarah's car and pick up Gabby. Sarah gives Gabby a device to make her time signature static. It won't last long, due to the limited time Sarah had to make it. They drive away, being chased by the Butterfly.
Back on the planetoid, the Doctor begs the future Gabby to listen to him. He has a strong intuition that she has become a Rogue Vortex Artifact, one of the rarest space-time events possible. He shows her the equations. They're his equations rendered physically in Block Transfer form. They were manifested by the present Gabby, via the connection to her future self. The equations tell him how to sever the bond between Gabby and the TARDIS, which will prevent her eventual transformation into the Butterfly.
The Butterfly states that her creation is immutable and that she knows what the Doctor intends to do. She knows him better than he thinks she does. She will absorb all the remaining energy from the TARDIS, trapping the Doctor there with her, forever. The Doctor can't allow this. If she were to ripple across time with the energy of a TARDIS, she'd eventually rupture the Causal Nexus, possibly collapse the entire Time Continuum.
The Butterfly moves in front of the TARDIS, refusing to let the Doctor leave. She begs him to not leave her again. He apologises, before using his screwdriver to blast her away, allowing him to get into the TARDIS. The Doctor begins entering the equations into the console, talking about how time isn't a straight line. It's as erratic as the path a butterfly takes. Begging Gabby to forgive him, he severs the bond. As he slumps over the console he hears the Butterfly reassure him, reminding him about how well she knows him. Sometimes, there are no right choices. The Butterfly vanishes from existence, while the Doctor cries over what he has just done.
Back on Earth, the trio reach the house. Sarah asks if the Butterfly is still following them, but it has vanished. Gabby confirms this, having felt it go. The TARDIS materialises and the Doctor steps out. Sharing a quick glance with Sarah, he goes over to Gabby, who tells him whatever he did worked. The Doctor hugs her.
Later, the four are sitting in the backyard. The Doctor states that he loves how unique people are throughout there lives. There is only one Gabby. Gabby points out that they did see that other Gabby earlier. The Doctor never did explain to them what the other Gabby was. The Doctor tells her to forget about the other her. He then tells her that he's going to need her help to get rid of the time equations that are still floating around him. He congratulates her for sending them to him, but Gabby denies this. He tells her that she did it subconsciously, but she points out that she had expanded senses. She saw the equations but didn't send them. The one who sent them must have been the other Gabby.
While Gabby and Cindy talk to each other, Sarah gives the Doctor advice. She asks him to not be alone, and to look after Gabby and Cindy, because they will look after him. The two are special. The Doctor smiles and tells her that all his companions are special.
Sometime later, on the planet Ouloumos, Zhe Ikiyuyu is hosting a new exhibition, when the TARDIS arrives. The Doctor, Gabby, and Cindy have come so the Doctor can ask Zhe for a favour. Unknown to them, a Groske has noticed their arrival and has reported in to the Time Sentinels. They tell the Groske to keep watching the Doctor and gathering evidence. Soon they will have a case so vast and complete against the Doctor, that they can ask the Lock-Keeper to annihilate the Doctor's timeline, erasing him from existence...
- Tenth Doctor
- Gabby Gonzalez
- Cindy Wu
- Twelfth Doctor
- Sarah Jane Smith
- Young Time Lord
- Wu Diaspora
- Fake Cyberdudes
- Zhe Ikiyuyu
- Time Sentinel
- The Doctor owns a house on Willesden.
- The Twelfth Doctor calls the Tenth Doctor "Bambi".
- The Twelfth Doctor also references Rose, referring to her as "Blondie", and makes a veiled reference to Clara Oswald.
- Anubis is on Aramuko, circa the year 6771.
- Cindy tells Sarah that Gabby and she are from 2016, then says it must be 2017 by now, then says that doesn't make any sense.
- Sarah reveals to Cindy a series of photos taken of her throughout her life. One is of her and the Third Doctor, one features her with K9, one with her on her wedding night with the Tenth Doctor, one with the Fourth Doctor and Harry Sullivan standing next to her, and one of Clyde, Rani, and Luke.
- Siffhoni mentions Carsus.
- Onzlo drinks Ogron fruit cocktails.
- Marteek mentions that the Doctor tipped her and Onzlo off about a Chula hostship.
- Two currencies mentioned by Marteek are draco-groats and galactic credits.
- Siffhoni is from Adorandus Calimorfus.
- The Synarbi mined an area of space of all its hydrogen atoms and undermatter filaments, making it one of the emptiest places the Doctor knows of.
- Gabby takes lessons at the Lyam Shaw School of Art.
- A Groske reports on the Doctor for the Time Sentinels.
- When bringing up previous companions, Gabby mentions Turlough, Izzy, Fitz, Liv, Rose, and Donna. This is one of the few times that a licensed work has referenced characters from the TV series, Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, BBC Books and Big Finish Productions in one sequence.
- It also appears the face of various past companions: Liv, Turlough, Donna, Martha, Adric, Lucie, a blond girl and a young boy.
- While most of the items the Twelfth Doctor writes on the rock wall in chalk are Circular Gallifreyan characters (these markings later appear on the Doctor's TARDIS while he is asleep and in Gabby's sketchbook after her dream), he also draws something that looks very much like imagery from the 1970-73 version of the Doctor Who opening credits. Gabby's powers are often illustrated via duplications of this sequence, and the Doctor later sees an image of the 1963-66 titles outside the TARDIS in empty space.
- The opening of this story occurs directly after the end of COMIC: Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth.
- While discussing dragons, Gabby recalls the one that allied with Sutekh. (COMIC: The Infinite Corridor, Old Girl)
- Gabby mentions the previous time the Doctor took her to London. (COMIC: Revolving Doors)
- The Twelfth Doctor references Rose Tyler and tells the Tenth Doctor he'll get over her. (TV: Doomsday, et al)
- The fact the Tenth Doctor will forget meeting his future self is discussed. (TV: The Day of the Doctor, COMIC: Four Doctors)
- The Twelfth Doctor again expresses a fondness for Gabby, saying he should've "kept her". (COMIC: Four Doctors)
- The "Blinovitch Intervention" is mentioned in similar context to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect. (TV: Mawdryn Undead; COMIC: Four Doctors)
- The Tenth Doctor assumes the Twelfth Doctor is his final incarnation as he will have no more regenerations; he believes himself to be the penultimate incarnation. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
- The Twelfth Doctor makes several references to characters' large eyes. (TV: Dark Water, et al)
- The Twelfth Doctor restates how, when it comes to time travel, ripples can turn into waves. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, The Girl Who Died)
- When Gabby touches Sarah's hand, she senses that Sarah has also met Sutekh. (TV: Pyramids of Mars)
- The TARDIS toolbox used by the Doctor is similar to the one used by the Seventh Doctor at the end of his life. It is silver instead of made of leather, and has some of the same tools strapped to the lid. (TV: Doctor Who)
- Cindy says that the Doctor once told her and Gabby that he was worried he would fashion them into weapons, to which Sarah replies that "Davros really got to him". (TV: Journey's End)
- Sarah says that the Doctor "walks in eternity". He previously said these words to her himself. (TV: Pyramids of Mars)
- Learning that both Gabby and Cindy have encountered doppelgangers, Sarah recalls her android duplicate. (TV: The Android Invasion)
- The Doctor is being spied on by a Groske (TV: Death of the Doctor) working for the Time Sentinels. (COMIC: Old Girl)
- The Doctor repeats the words Sarah Jane once said to him, "The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship, everything has its time... and everything ends." (TV: School Reunion)
to be added