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An End and a Beginning...

By David Lawrence

The burly man ran down the corridors. His hearts were pounding and he could hear footsteps, lots of footsteps and voices far behind.

He stopped and attempted to get back his breath. If they found him they would surely kill him. Either that or imprison him for eternity.

He knew which he would prefer.

They wanted vengeance; vengeance for his blood-thirst. What gratitude, he thought bitterly. Give a race the greatest power imaginable, and what do they do? They turn it against you and use it as a weapon. He thought that the business with the Minyans would have taught them a lesson, but it had not.

In the maze of corridors and catacombs he was being relentlessly pursued.

He ducked into a side corridor. He saw a door at one end. He saw men, about a dozen, all armed, run down the main corridor and past him. He waited until they had gone, and allowed himself a momentary chuckle.

He had been lucky this time: but there would come a time where luck would abandon him, and he had a feeling the time would be soon.

He pulled his cowled hood over his head and moved stealthily towards the door. It sensed his presence and opened automatically.

He went through into the chamber beyond. Computer banks and instrumentation lined the stone walls. In the centre of the room was a raised dais. Upon it was a two-metre high hooped ring. A red haze filled the space between it. Beside it was a column, upon which was a small control box consisting of two gauges and a dial.

Someone stood on the dais beside the device. It was a boy, a young boy. He had turned away, and had not seen him come in.

He watched as the boy continued work on the machine. He watched for a whole minute as the boy continued.

To his surprise, it was the boy who spoke first.

‘Aren't you going to say something?’ the boy asked. ‘Or are you just going to stand there watching?’

He raised an eyebrow. ‘You know who I am?’ he inquired.

‘Of course.’ The boy turned to face him. He was young, in Terran years he looked close to twelve years old. His hair was white and he was dressed rather oddly in an ill-fitting tunic.

The boy could tell he was looking at it. ‘My attire surprises you?’

He shook his head. ‘No, it puzzles me.’

The boy nodded. ‘I like to dress... differently. It shows my individuality.’

He smiled. ‘So you like to stand out?’

‘Evidently so,’ came the response. ‘I'd rather be known, be recognized. Like you, in that respect.’

He frowned. So the boy did know who he was... except that the difference was he did not want to be recognized.

He eyed the boy cautiously. ‘You're not scared of me?’

The boy chuckled. It was a half-amused, half-mocking chuckle, rather like a hum. ‘Hardly.’

Now it was he who wore a mocking smile. ‘I suppose you're not afraid of anything.’

‘Wrong. Some things scare me. Fire. Solitude.’ The boy smiled. ‘But not tyrants.’

‘You think I'm a tyrant?’

There was a pause before the boy answered. ‘Doesn't everybody?’

‘I wouldn't know.’

‘Do you think you're a tyrant?’

‘No.’ his answer was concise. ‘No, I don't think I'm a tyrant.’

‘What do you think, then?’

‘I think I'm a legend. A leader. A ruler.’

‘A killer.’

‘No.’

‘Then how else do you describe someone who forces others to kill for your entertainment?’

‘But they enjoyed fighting!’

‘Not for us!’

He laughed. ‘What would you know? Why should a child recognize a hero?’

‘A hero?’

‘Yes! Now many other people have given their race wealth and prosperity, unimaginable power and knowledge? How many others have given their race the secret of Time Travel?

The boy just smiled.

He pointed. ‘This machine. What is it?’

The boy gestured to it. When you are captured - oh yes, they'll capture you - you will be expelled into the Time/Space Continuum.’

‘You mean this device is a Temporal Displacement system?’

‘In a way, yes. It isn't usually used for that. It's a type of matter transmitter.’

He frowned at the dials. ‘You mean you could send me forwards or backwards in time - and on Gallifrey?’ He was impressed; he had thought such things would be impossible even for him.

‘Yes, I suppose it could.’

‘So tell me, who was the genius who created this device?’

At the word ‘genius’ the boy burst out laughing. ‘I did.’

He raised an eyebrow; in fact he raised both. ‘What's your name?’

‘I don't like names. I prefer titles.’

‘Like... a creator?’

‘No... more a type of scientist. I'm just trying to remember what it is... a Terran term, a scholar...’

‘A Doctor?’

‘Yes, that was it.’

‘So, he said, ‘if I adjusted the dials like this, it would send me to Gallifrey, seven hundred years in the future?’ He fingered the controls and turned to the boy with an inquisitive frown.

The boy brushed him aside and examined the control column. He turned back and nodded. ‘Yes.’

He reached into his robes and took out a long black rod. ‘Do you know what this is?’ he asked the boy.

‘No.’

‘It's a Memory Transfusion machine. I point it, like this...’ He pouted it at the boy. I press this button, and my mind is transferred into yours. You would retain your personality and knowledge, but my knowledge would be added to it.’ Then, he pressed the button at the end of the rod nearest him.

The boy's face was bathed in a green aura. A few seconds later, he blinked as the guards entered and he threw himself through the ring and the red haze. Then he vanished.

The guards saw the man's body standing there and opened fire. Staser bolts ripped into him and past him into the machine. The guards shielded themselves from the explosion.

The captain of the guard removed his helmet and moved forward to the body. He turned it over, examined it and looked up.

‘He is dead,’ he said at last. He stood to his feet. ‘Lord Rassilon is dead.’

But he was not.

Although his body had been destroyed, his mind lived on, inside the mind of another.

And one day, Rassilon would avenge himself upon the people who had treated him so unjustly...

This item appeared in TSV 23 (June 1991).

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