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Genesis of Evil

By Jeff Stone

The time-travel experiments carried out by the Daleks in the latter half of 29th Century were, on the whole, very crude and unsophisticated - particularly in comparison with the pioneering research undertaken by R'Yabl, conducted at about the same time. Using the highly dangerous inverse meson particle wave- form temporal injection process (also known as the Rendellmann Process), the Daleks managed to establish several tenuous time contours into the past and future - a feat dismissed as impossible by Rendellmann himself - extending perhaps one thousand years in either direction at best.

Few concrete facts have been established regarding just how far these experiments went, but data and artefacts recently unearthed from the Skarosian is seem to confirm many historians' beliefs that one of the original forays into the past was the catalyst for the single greatest event in all Dalek history...

The Conquest of Time
by Professor Roche Tarldak (3186)

30 JANUARY 1866

‘Good afternoon, sir. I trust you had a pleasant journey?’

His mind on things other than the decidedly unpleasant cab trip he had just experienced, Edward Waterfield acknowledged Palmerston, the butler holding his coat and hat, with an unintelligible grunt. Apparently understanding the feeling behind the reply. Palmerston sniffed aloofly and crossed the expansive foyer of the Maxtible Grange to place Waterfield's things on the coat-stand.

Waterfield could not suppress a slight shudder as he gazed about the ornate interior of his friend's huge home. God, what an awful place this is, he thought to himself for perhaps the fourth time in as many minutes. He had been privileged to visit many stately homes in his life, but never before had he felt such a palpable sense of gloom and despondency in one. The place looked beautiful, to be sure, Waterfield mused. The exquisite wall-hangings and priceless works of art by such artists as Goya and Raphael, coupled with the antique Elizabethan furniture scattered about, would make a prison look grand - but there was an air of... something in the very fabric of the walls that made the kindly scientist feel uneasy. Perhaps it was the fact that so few people lived here - no matter. He felt nervous; he'd felt that way the first time he had met Theodore, and the many subsequent visits had done nothing to lessen this feeling. Maybe -

‘If you would care to follow me sir?’ Waterfield looked up sharply - it was Palmerston again. ‘Mr Maxtible is in his laboratory, and is most anxious to talk with you. This way?’ The butler indicated, and Waterfield followed the hunched, taciturn little man through a doorway that led into the bowels of the Grange. One could get lost so easily, Waterfield thought, as they proceeded along passages that would make the British Museum look like an ill-stocked school fete. To reassure himself, he felt in his pocket for the precious cargo he was carrying. Still there.

So much depended on the cool metallic shape his fingers were touching; so much even he had trouble comprehending the true enormity of what he and Maxtible were attempting. Two and a half years of work were over, but would it really work? Please God, let it, Waterfield prayed.

Then he remembered - God would not approve of what they were doing, so praying to Him for assistance was probably very foolish. Despite his dedication to science, and the removal from superstition that practice demanded, Waterfield could not help thinking that they were attempting something unholy.

Treading where only the damned may walk...

They reached a flight of ill-lit stone steps, and Palmerston held the oil lamp he was holding closer to the ground to aid them as they descended. Near the bottom, Waterfield stumbled and nearly fell, uttering a whispered curse as he did so. Palmerston turned, his dull grey eyes staring into Waterfield's with only cursory concern.

‘Mind the step, sir. They are quite precarious.’

‘I'm quite aware of that, Palmerston.’ Waterfield snapped with uncharacteristic fire. ‘Lead on - your master must not be kept waiting.’ This was said with more concern for Maxtible's reaction to him rather than anything else, but Palmerston merely grunted and continued on his way. On an anxious impulse, Waterfield felt in his pocket again - the object was unbroken, thank Go... goodness.

The trail finally ended at a brass-studded wooden door. A lone oil-lamp, unlit, hung over it as if it were guarding with its lack of light. Palmerston knocked smartly, handed the lamp he had carried with him to his companion and enquired, ‘Will that be all, sir?’

‘Yes, thank you. You may go.’ Waterfield resisted the urge to add a ‘be off with you’ to his reply as the supercilious little Welshman disappeared into the gloom. Seconds later, the lamp above the door came on suddenly, making the scientist jump. He looked up in wonder at the lamp - its light was not flickering and inconstant like the one he was grasping; indeed its glow was utterly steady and brighter than any gas lamp he had ever seen. By standing on tiptoes, Waterfield could see that there was no flame in the strange lamp at all - rather, a metal filament was giving off the intense light. But how?

‘Whatever are you doing, Edward?’

Waterfield nearly died with shock at the sudden voice; standing on his flat feet once more, he saw the wild-hatred figure of Theodore Maxtible, late of Edinburgh University, gazing at him inquisitively. A little embarrassed, Waterfield laughed.

‘Oh, hello! Just examining your incredible lamp...’

Maxtible looked up at the ‘lamp’. ‘Oh, that? That's just a little experiment of mine. Nothing to rave about, dear fellow. Come in.’

Accepting his colleague's invitation, Maxtible stepped into the laboratory, scene of many a late night's toll and research. In the corner sat it.

Waterfield had first met Professor Theodore Maxtible three years ago in Edinburgh, where the latter had been addressing d group of decidedly sceptical luminaries on the principles of time, and how its constraints could be overcome through the application of science. His audience had left laughing, but Waterfield had not. He had remained - he believed in what Maxtible was saying, and he wanted to hear more. Less than three months later, the two had entered into a partnership; their quest - to conquer time itself.

Why had he been so captivated, Waterfield asked himself. Most of Maxtible's theories and experiments had been proved to be utterly useless, and it was only through sheer luck that progress had been made. Maybe it was the way his eyes seemed to burn into you, with a manic intensity that was at once hypnotic and frightening. Or maybe it was just his outrageous appearance - wildly teased hair flowering out from a round, cigar-smoking face - that had entranced him. Or was it that Maxtible was simply someone to talk to? After May - Waterfield's wife - had succumbed to smallpox five years earlier, there had been no-one he could completely confide in - not even his daughter, Victoria. If he could trust anyone, it was Maxtible.

But could he really be trusted? Who knew... Despite the great admiration he felt for his fellow scientist, Waterfield felt - was scared the word? No; suspicious was better. He felt suspicious of Maxtible most of the time, as if the man wasn't telling him the whole story. For instance, the lamp - when and how had he managed that?

Shut up, Edward, he told himself, there's a good chap. There's work to be done... ‘Well, Edward, are you going to say something, or are you content to merely stand and stare like a blasted dolt?’ Maxtible's gravelly yet cultured voice broke Waterfield's reverie, and he smiled sheepishly at his friend, then looked around the cluttered room. He doubted if even Maxtible knew where everything was in his laboratory, there was so much equipment lying around. Benches covered with insane sculptures of glass and India-rubber, encased in a skeleton of iron, and scientific implements from the four corners of the world were arranged about the room, each seeming to stake its own peculiar claim on the limited space.

Once again, Waterfield's attention was drawn to the innocent-looking cabinet in the corner. It seemed incredible that the small object was the fruit of months of work; the grandly named Maxtible-Waterfield Time-Travel Engine (Mark One).

It looked simple - just a wooden cabinet, six feet tall, with two doors in the front. Behind it, wires snaked like a bride's train to a bench covered in dials and levers. Not much, but Maxtible was convinced that it would work. ‘We shall be famous for all time, Edward,’ he had said long ago. ‘Our names will be up there with Da Vinci and Pasteur. Is that a grand notion, Edward?’

‘Yes, Theodore,’ he had replied, only half-believing, ‘a grand notion indeed.’ ‘Waterfield, are you awake? I am anxious to finish work. I trust you have the mirror?’ Caught out again, Waterfield produced his cargo - a tiny, meticulously polished steel mirror that glittered like white gold. He had purchased the ridiculously expensive piece of metal from the finest craftsman in Sheffield; it had better be worth it, he mused wryly, handing it over.

‘Here you are, Theodore. I only hope it will suffice.’

‘You did give the man precise specifications, did you not?’ Not waiting for Waterfield's response, Maxtible took the mirror and crossed to the Engine, disappearing inside. There followed some odd clinking noises and the occasional curse, after which the old scientist emerged, smiling widely. His flushed, weather-beaten face displayed the elation that the end of Herculean labours bring. ‘The mirror is in place and correctly aligned. Shall we begin?’

Waterfield smiled back. ‘First we must test it...’

‘Huh! Pschaw! You doubt our work, after so long?’ Maxtible looked a little crestfallen, but he saw the wisdom in his colleague's remark. He stalked off, and returned with a cage containing two very fat pigeons. The lazy birds cooed softly, flapping about as much as the cramped confines would allow.

‘And into the jaws of Hell, go thee!’ Maxtible cried theatrically, placing the cage into the Engine. It sat at the centre of a horseshoe of steel mirrors, all aligned with mathematical precision. As the bemused pigeons gazed at their multiple reflections, Maxtible solemnly closed the double doors.

‘Come along, Edward!’ he exclaimed with an angry gesture. ‘You don't expect me to do all the work, do you? My, but you are a dreamy one this night.’

Once again embarrassed, the younger man crossed to the control panel and flicked two of the large brass switches on its surface. Immediately there began a steady whining as the Engine's friction generator began supplying static electrical power to the circuits. One of the dials crept up until the needle reached 50.

‘Power steady at fifty amperes, Theodore.’ Waterfield's hands were trembling.

Noticing this, Maxtible patted his friend on the back. ‘Fret not, dear chap,’ he urged. ‘Worrying won't help us.’

‘I'm sorry. It's just that this is a...’

Maxtible nodded, grinning. ‘I know - I too cannot help feeling nervous about what we are doing. But, just remember - science, not emotion, must prevail!’

Maxtible's words helped to calm Waterfield, and he nodded as Maxtible called out, ‘My instruments show a perfect image. Prepare to project.’

Another switch was thrown. ‘Power at sixty amperes. Ready to transmit image.’ was it really going to work? Waterfield asked himself incredulously. Everything was going perfectly. Almost too perfectly, in fact ...

‘H-how far should we project?’ he asked tentatively.

‘Not far,’ replied Maxtible. ‘Six months or so should be fine.’ Waterfield nodded, and adjusted a control, one eye on the cabinet, the other on the dials. ‘Ready? Transmit image...’ The air seemed to stand still. ‘NOW!’

23 NOVEMBER 2863

Twelve thousand light-years and just over one thousand solar years away, a mind cold and unimaginative stirred in its ponderings of the whirling maelstrom that it was adrift in. It had just detected a faint time echo, spiralling up from a point some distance into the past; it had been small and very short, but it had been there. The mind's curiosity was piqued by this temporal pinprick, and it moved down the infinite whirlpool until it reached the site of the disturbance. There it was; a minuscule ripple in the wall of shifting light that made up the vortex. The mind, had it been capable of emotion, would have been elated, but its only reaction was to extend an ultraspace communications antenna. A pulsed message, barely a nanosecond long, was transmitted before the mind, a remote drone probe, activated its self-destruct unit. Its job was done, its masters informed.

The Great Plan could now begin.

‘It worked, by God! Theodore, it worked!’ Waterfield hugged himself with child-like at the empty cabinet. The cage and the pigeons had vanished, projected into the future by the Engine - by their Engine! Maxtible, curiously, was not so happy.

‘Let us bring them back, Edward. Six months is too long to wait and see if we have two dead pigeons, two live pigeons or nothing at all. Let's try just a few minutes instead.’

Waterfield agreed, and powered up the Engine again.

‘Image located,’ Maxtible reported, gazing into the arrangement of mirrors that displayed a picture of the target object's image. ‘Prepare to retrieve.’

‘Power steady at sixty amperes,’ Waterfield called out again. ‘Ready.’ ‘Activate... NOW!’

Waterfield threw the switch.

The object hurtled down the time vortex, its sensors unerringly aimed at the temporal echo reported by the probe. There it was again; stronger this time.


Vessel and target joined in a flash of colour...

Something was wrong. Waterfield noted in horror that the power levels had just gone from sixty amperes to off the scale. The Engine was emitting puffs of smoke, like a huge - and expensive - kettle.

‘I think it's going to explode!’ Waterfield cried out in panic. He tried lowering the power setting, but to no avail.

Angrily, Maxtible threw a large switch. ‘Well turn the damned thing off, then!’ he said in a rage. At once, the whine that seemed to fill the room ceased and the fell silent. The two scientists breathed a collective sigh of relief.

‘We have failed, Theodore,’ Waterfield said bitterly, his dreams shattered.

Maxtible snorted. ‘Nonsense, dear boy! Merely a power surge. Look - safe and sound; our feathered voyagers.’ So saying, he threw open the cabinet doors - and his eyes took in a scene of horror.

The cabinet was empty. Totally empty. It looked as if the interior, pitch-dark and hideously empty, stretched on for infinity. Then it was full; full of ugly metallic shapes that were yelling in loud voices. Maxtible backed away in terror as they began streaming out of the Engine, one after the other.

Waterfield was panic-stricken; all he could do was bite his fingers in fright. ‘My God, what have we unleashed?’ he breathed in terror. He tried to pray - fervently this time - but the metallic beings, now standing in a group in the room, were chanting a much louder, all-encompassing litany.

A litany of death.


This item appeared in TSV 35 (September 1993).

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