The Dhakanians use the “soul gems” implanted in their bodies to incinerate themselves, and are apparently resurrected as Ash Wraiths, burning spectres who take the peaceful Paradost completely by surprise. The Wraiths establish a force barrier around the planet, preventing the galaxy’s allied forces from launching a counter-attack. The Doctor comes up with a plan to save the world, but abruptly vanishes into thin air before he can reveal it, leaving Izzy and Kroton stranded on Paradost as the Dhakanians slaughter entire cities. Eventually, Izzy comes to understand the Doctor’s last cryptic words, and she leads an attack on Paradost’s weather control station and creates a world-wide blizzard. As she had hoped, the burning Ash Wraiths freeze to death in the ice storm, and without their support, the force barrier collapses. But before Izzy can escape, Morningstar shoots her with a Tissue Compression Eliminator...
The Doctor is drifting through different realities, each of which contains a different version of himself. Eventually, he realises that these are all aspects of a single, greater being, of which even he is only one facet. When he comes to this understanding, Esterath the Gatherer appears to him and explains that he has been chosen as an Adversary in the battle to control the Glory — the heart of the omniversal spectrum, the fulcrum of all that is. The living being that maintains the Glory is nearing the end of a nearly infinite life, and must be replaced by the most worthy of two adversaries. The Doctor is therefore transported to Dhakan, which he realises is a corrupted future Earth — and there he meets his adversary, the Master, who now lives in the body of the street preacher the Doctor failed to notice during his encounter with Grace Holloway and Donald Stark.
After their battle in San Francisco, the Master was cast into the Vortex, where his hatred of the Doctor attracted Esterath’s attention. Believing that he had found a suitable champion, Esterath showed the Glory to the Master, and placed his mind in the body of a human vagrant to teach him humility before the final battle. But the Master’s essence had remained lodged in the Doctor’s TARDIS when it absorbed him, and soon after the Doctor’s battle with the Pariah, the Master found that he could control the TARDIS’ flight. To humiliate the Doctor and show him what his meddling had done, he thus transported the Doctor to Brixton to see what had become of Grace, and then to Japan, where the Gaijin’s quest for knowledge — a parallel of the Doctor’s — caused only death and destruction. While the Doctor was nearly killing the innocent Kroton, the Master was on Earth, acting as a sensei to Katsura Sato, the samurai who had been granted immortality by the Doctor and thus lost the ability to commit seppuku. Unable to find meaning in a life without pain, Sato fell under the thrall of the Master, who inspired him to become Cardinal Morningstar and launch the holy war that turned Earth into Dhakan. With the help of the Ash Wraiths, psionic parasites who require others’ willing sacrifice to enter this plane of existence, the Master had Sato destroy Paradost just to show the Doctor what his meddling had done. But now he has finished playing games with the Doctor, and the time has come for them to fight, to see who will become the Glory and who will die.
Somehow, Izzy has survived being shrunken to the size of a doll, and she too is horrified to learn Morningstar’s true identity. Sato and his followers retreat from Paradost and return to Dhakan, where Sato believes that his Master will defeat the Doctor and become a god. The Doctor is unwilling to sacrifice himself to the Glory, but he will nevertheless fight to prevent the Master from gaining control over all Creation. As he and his nemesis do battle throughout uncountable dimensions and states of being, the Master chips away at the Doctor’s sense of righteousness, reminding him that his quest for knowledge spreads death in its wake, and that he enjoys being the self-elected champion of what is right. The Doctor finally realises that the Master is right; he is no more worthy of the Glory than is the Master. This moment of self-doubt allows the Master to get past his defenses and strike a killing blow. The battle won, he takes the Doctor back to Dhakan to witness his apotheosis.
Kroton has stowed away aboard Sato’s mothership and followed him to Dhakan, where he intends to avenge Izzy by killing Sato. As they do battle, Izzy manages to break out of her prison and set the TCE to reverse, restoring herself to full size. Sato, immortal and invincible, withstands all of the Cybermen’s blows, but just as he is about to kill Kroton, Izzy confronts him with a mnemonic crystal and forces him to experience the full impact of all the pain and horror she felt on Paradost. As Sato collapses in horror, finally understanding what he has done, Izzy forces Kroton to accept a crystal as well, and he finally remembers his past life — and becomes the stronger for it. At this moment, the Master arrives, but when he tries to take his place in the Glory, it rejects him. He and the Doctor were not the adversaries after all; Kroton and Sato were. Technology extended both their lives and robbed them of meaning, but by turning to hope instead of despair, Kroton has won the battle. Kroton thus becomes the heart of the Glory, and he restores Earth’s history, banishes the enraged Master, and grants Sato’s dearest wish by giving him an honourable death. Esterath reveals that he was the adversary during the last battle for the Glory, but that he allowed his rage to get the better of him; he now expunges all trace of the Master’s influence from the TARDIS and dissipates, having atoned for his past sins. The Doctor and Izzy go on to new adventures.
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