Time Fall

By Gerald Joblin

Slowly the calmness of space was broken by a noise that sounded like a roaring waterfall, like loud peals of thunder. A rectangular blue column appeared, with a sound similar to the music made by some electronic harp; its top flashing lightening as it hovered in space.

In the TARDIS console room, the Time Lady Romana, now in her second incarnation, stood at the controls staring at the shining stars lighting the darkness of space on the scanner. Beside her was K9, the Doctor's faithful robotic hound.

The Doctor emerged from the corridor. Still in his fourth incarnation, he was wearing a long scarf, overcoat and buccaneer boots, all in the same burgundy colour. His big shirt collars had two question marks embroidered on them. In his hand was a large hat which he placed on the nearby hat stand.

‘What do you think?’ asked the Doctor.

Romana turned and stared at him. ‘You've changed.’

‘Yes, entropy again,’ he said. ‘The scarf is from one of the planets in the Asphasian Belt. The people were so impressed by my help that they founded a monkish society all dressed up like me. They gave me this scarf as a token of their gratitude. The wool comes from the precious mountain Eleg.’

Romana looked back at the scanner to see that a huge space cloud had come into view, the group of stars around it glowing brightly. ‘What's that?’ she asked.

‘It's like a two headed purple sheep...’ he continued.

‘No, that!’ Romana pointed at the screen.

‘Oh, that!’ the Doctor rushed over to the console.

The Doctor looked up to see a solar windstorm coming out from the cloud. At the centre of the storm was a shining ship, moving at near light speed. As it slowed down, the Doctor could make out a constantly moving wheel shaped base, the rim of which was covered with cameras and radio telescopes. On the rim there was also a blazing torch, sweeping over space. From inside came the roar of engines in flight. As the craft's speed decreased, the noise died, but the sound of machinery still came from within.

As the craft drew closer on the screen, the TARDIS lurched violently, throwing the Doctor and Romana to the floor.

‘K9, what's going on?’ asked the Doctor, jerkily moving over to the robot dog.

‘The TARDIS is being drawn toward the approaching craft by a powerful magnetic force, Master,’ reported K9.

Without warning a golden, box shaped robot materialized, hovering above the console. As the Doctor and Romana watched, the robot set the controls and soon the TARDIS was in flight.

As the room reverted to normal, the Doctor and Romana got slowly to their feet. ‘What was it?’ asked Romana.

‘I don't know,’ said the Doctor, reaching out and operating the door control.

The Doctor and Romana stepped from the TARDIS into what looked like a waiting room. A staircase reached up to a door set into the wall, while they could hear Muzak coming from all around.

The Doctor immediately rushed up the stairs, producing the sonic screwdriver from his pocket. The Doctor had acquired this on a finders-keepers basis.

‘Doctor!’ called Romana, breaking his concentration.

The Doctor spun round to see that a tall humanoid figure had appeared in front of the TARDIS. Hurrying down the stairs, he came face to face with the being, who wore a uniform rather like that of a surgeon or dentist.

‘Welcome, Time Lords,’ he greeted them. ‘I am Ambassador Gambril and you are on the Timewatch 7 ship, from the Haven dimension. The outer surface of your TARDIS was being magnetically drawn to the surface of our craft. Robot 10 was sent to save your ship.’ He began to ascend the stairway, then stopped and beckoned for them to follow. ‘Come and I will show you what is happening.’

The door opened at Gambril's touch and as the Doctor and Romana followed him beyond, an extra-terrestrial choir sung out in electronic chorus. They found themselves entering a cathedral-sized hall. In the distance there stood a throne with someone seated, and on all four walls were all the colours of the spectrum. In a circle surrounding the throne were twenty-four seated elders dressed in white habits, and wearing golden computer terminals on their crowns. The floor was made of some dazzling crystalline structure, humming with power, while light radiated in from seven inlets in the ceiling.

Sitting on the throne was a humanoid figure, wearing a robe of purest gold. His balding hair was snow white, matching his woolly beard and emerald eyes. On his feet were well-polished boots, and his skin had a sheen to it. On the right arm of the throne were seven gleaming buttons. ‘My dear Doctor!’ he said in a voice both loud and soft, firm but kind. ‘How nice to have you with us!’

‘This is the Principal and the Council of Elders,’ Gambril introduced.

‘How do you do?’ Romana inquired.

‘Uh, lovely day we're having, isn't it, your honours?’ said the Doctor.

The three of them joined hands and vanished...

...to reappear in a perfectly square room, with no doors. There were four humanoids who were watching vision screens which covered the walls, each one showing a different event. All wore huge bat-wing jackets made in very soft leather and held communication devices in their hands.

‘This is the heart of the Timewatch 7,’ explained Gambril. ‘Daily and nightly these alien fugitives view objects, societies and planets from the past, present, future and alternative futures. They then transmit the information to the Elders' terminals. Once they have organised it into a philosophy by which to govern their culture, they transfer it to the Principal. He then beams it back to our dimension.’

‘Well, you've been very thorough, Gambril,’ said the Doctor.

‘It is the only way to achieve a civilization with no more death, grief, crying or pain.’

‘So you've eliminated all aggression, hostility and negativity from your dimension altogether?’ asked Romana.

‘That is mostly correct.’

Soon the trio were standing in the Hall again, in front of the Principal's throne. The Principal pressed some buttons, revealing a screen on the wall. On it an ugly ship hung in deep space.

‘What's that?’ asked the Doctor.

‘It is Spydrax 6,’ said Gambril, sadly. ‘When war broke out in Haven, Warrior Mykrol and his men fought against the Destructor, who fought back with his Gun Robots. But the Destructor was defeated and he and his Robots escaped from Haven through the gateway in Spydrax 6.’

‘The centre of the Milky Way Galaxy is a gateway between your universe and Haven,’ said the Principal. ‘We use the cloud to create a space-time storm, the winds of which blow our ships through.’

‘The Destructors have travelled back to the beginning, just after the Universe came about through the explosion from one of our early giant space craft's engines,’ explained Gambril. ‘The Destructors plan to deceive the whole of Creation. Spydrax 6 is in fixed orbit around this solar system's sun.’

The Principal pressed some more buttons. ‘Mykrol, commence the attack,’ he commanded.

Warrior Mykrol sat on the Flight Deck, wearing a uniform that resembled that of a soldier or policeman. His crew stood at the controls.

‘Align booster terminal scan ... now!’

A turret emerged from the rim of Timewatch 7.

‘Timewatch 7 and Spydrax 6 are both composed of the same silicon based substance that we mined from our land,’ Gambril explained to the Doctor and Romana. ‘We have not even developed a weapon that can fully destroy it, however Mykrol can melt and change its structure with this particular energy beam.’

‘Spydrax 6 has commenced primary ignition and is ready to attack us,’ said Zin, Mykrol's second in command.

‘Fire!’ ordered Mykrol; his eyes fixed on Spydrax 6's missile tubes on the Flight Deck space grid.

The turret sent out a powerful, narrow, beam, pure and blue. The enormous energy focused onto Spydrax 6's nose cone. Slowly the ship was an ocean of molten hot lava.

As Timewatch 7 departed and returned to its own dimension, the Doctor and Romana watched fire and sulphuric gases rise from the desolate, orange coloured moon that was now Spydrax 6.

‘The end,’ remarked Romana, watching the bright planetoid engulfed in the darkness of space.

‘And a beginning,’ replied the Doctor.

‘What do you mean?’

‘It's still spinning in place on an axis around the sun,’ the Doctor explained. ‘Layers of cosmic debris will form over it creating a land of soiled ground and small groups of asteroids will crash into it, making a sphere. Eventually the gravity field will capture a satellite. Remember the crippled Jagaroth spaceship piloted by Scaroth which exploded on takeoff?’

‘The explosion that created life on Earth!’ said Romana.

‘After that condensation will form creating seas and water for the plant life to flourish in.’ The Doctor pointed to the molten rock on the scanner. ‘And that will be the Earth's core!’

The End of the Beginning.

[Time Fall]
Paul Potiki

This item appeared in Timestreams 5 (August 1995).

Index nodes: Fiction