He worked his way through the shadowy court, down through the Lungbarrow's
cloisters, conscious of the long dead Time Lords who had walked these paths. He
passed through the cellars that looked like hollow tree trunks, always reciting
the old poem to himself. The one he had heard when he was young. Could it be
the key? Letting his mind wander as he approached the lowest of the catacombs
he let his past come up to meet him.
In a series of flashes and starts, he remembered.
Forsake all forknown beauty, strive to the new shores
Take up the wastrel's duty, which god would ask of more.
If thou wander where I wandered and tread the stones I've tread
Thou will stave my spirit's hunger, and I'll dispel those dreams you dread.
The page stared up blankly at him; he knew the story, just not the words.
The dream had been incredibly vivid, but it just didn't seem right. The vision
of the woman in the pillar of light, the new world, the places, the names. He
could recall them all in detail, but the woman and the mode of transport still
seemed wrong. He remembered the other dream, the one from the night before,
that would have made more sense, or at least it would have before the nightmare
began. Perhaps they could be worked together...
And so John Smith began to write:
Long ago, and far away, in the reign of Queen Victoria, there lived a
silver-haired old man, who had a very good idea. He had thought of a shelter
for policemen, with a telephone, so that anybody who was in trouble could call
for help ...
The old man was very clever, but very lonely, and so, before he told
anybody else about his invention, he used it to go exploring. He visited
another world, a place called Gallifrey.
She fell screaming. The void burning around her as chronons flared in the
time winds. The ship may have survived, she couldn't tell. The survival systems
had kicked her out after the first attack. She had tried a manual override, but
the system was just too belligerent. The suit would keep her alive, but not for
long, not out here in open time. All the old familiar bolt-holes were long
gone. Twisting through the flames she searched for the source of the current.
She could feel the suit squirm and tighten against her as it resisted the wild
pressures and forces. Not much longer. Reality ripped and surged as gravity
hit, and she fell screaming into the light.
Bronski stalked through the laboratory corridors unencumbered by the heavy
backpack he carried. Hands shaking, he reached inside and pulled out a set of
charges and laid them by the door. He squinted at the timer muttering ‘tunnel
vision, bad sign.’ Their employers had given them three shots of Doberman each
and it had been so long since his last hit. Given time, the reaction would wear
off but that wasn't an option at the moment. He grunted as he punched in the
priming code. Fifteen minutes unless one of them hit the panic button, time
enough. He wiped imaginary beads of sweat from his forehead as the comms chimed
in his ear.
‘Illya - where are you? You missed the clock-in.’
He cursed quietly before tugging the microphone at his tunic. ‘Level four,
Section D. Charges laid as ordered.’
‘Confirmed. Have you seen Stewart - he isn't answering either.’
‘Not since the experimental wing.’ He paused, regretting what he was about
to say. ‘Do you want me to recce?’
‘Make it quick, we're out in five. Out.’
He swore, loudly this time, pulling off his pack and racing back to the
junction. It was meant to be a simple job: infiltrate, assimilate, detonate.
Industrial espionage was not what it used to be, and while the wireheads were
busy breaking the ice systems it was up to the ex-troopers to cover their
tracks and provide cover. Hell, now one of them had gone walkabout and
everything was going pear-shaped. He slammed his fist into the lift control,
the AUM rush of the Doberman kicking in and adding to his rage. The man had not
been the same since he got married, all that talk about settling down with - Oh
Cruk! He knew what had happened.
Bronski said nothing when the lift doors drew back and his companion
entered, walked in silence as they both made their way back to the rendezvous,
and tried desperately not to notice the small hand that occasionally clenched
its way out of the others backpack.
Nine and a half minutes later, the European Eugenic Research Institute, a
Division of Butler Corp UK, exploded in a fireball of light and sound. As far
as anyone knew there were no survivors.
Initially they had thought she was a goddess. A mystical figure who had
miraculously appeared during one of the Pythia's rituals to pierce the veil. It
must have worked to a limited extent, weakening the vortex enough for her to
get through. The suit was ruined, the final jump too much for it, and it died
soon after. A new world and culture had opened up to her, and was sure she had
something to offer in return. She allied herself with Gaurn, one of the more
powerful feudal leaders, and together they unified the warrior and
technological castes; centralizing government, science and society. At the time
her marriage to the man had seemed a formality, but given time the relationship
blossomed, and now, something she would have once thought impossible. Perhaps,
somehow her enhanced genetics were able to match those of these aliens. That,
or they were closer to humans than she had ever realized. Either way she had
conceived, and not just one baby, but twins. She would watch as they played,
each boy different, almost a complete opposite of the other. The eldest, a
tall and brawny child, Gaurn had named Rassilon after his own father, claiming
it would take him to greatness. The other was a small and frail creature, with
intense eyes that seemed to watch and understand everything around him. She
soon realized the other was very different indeed.
The little man woke groggily. He hadn't felt this bad since his last self
had over-indulged in Voxnic, that night many years ago. But there was more to
it than that; he could feel it inside his head, something alien and growing.
His psyche had been weakened and his defences had been down recently, and now
both his ship and himself were susceptible. First the Timewyrm, then the
Process, the second attack of the Mandragora entity and now... he probed his mind
gently, exploring all the nooks and crannies where something nasty might be
hiding. No, nothing identifiable, just a general feeling that something was out
Something moved on the other side of the bed, and turning he saw her asleep
beside him. Yes, she had been a surprise. Even in his addled state he had
recognised the signs of augmentation and wondered how much she knew herself.
Rising, he threw back the covers and surveyed the room before turning back to
her. How much his own people were like this once, he thought, enhanced
superbeings ready to advance forth into time and space, the universe waiting
for them like an open toy cupboard: He frowned, remembering something he had
seen the night before, and, crossing over to the computer, pulled up the
schematics for the timedrive.
Then had come the dark time, when the Pythia left and the old ways died. She
had grown old and there were no children any more. Her children, now grown men,
argued as to what to be done before deciding on a drastic course of action. The
gene pools were indexed and the genetic looms created. She still had nightmares
about the first children they created. Many were mercifully stillborn; while
others bore such horrific defects that many in the research teams were reduced
to tears and quit. The ‘improvements’ only made matters worse, their empathic
abilities and increased longevity meant they lived, their lives could not be
terminated, fully aware of the pain and fear they caused in others. The few who
were born normal grew the same as their parents, simply clones that had escaped
the looms DNA splicing. The people grew tired and hardened. The recent gifts of
temporal displacement and regeneration souring as their world stagnated. It was
little surprise that the atrocities at the Dark Tower came, anything for
One of the little men stared grimly at his opponent across the wedding
party, all the while brushing little feathers off the tiny body he had found
‘... full of Tzun mind alteration technology, which interfaced with my Tzun
technology and went haywire, making people do all sorts of odd things.’ She
noticed as one of the clones turned to her and gave a knowing smile. ‘Apart
from her, of course, because she's different...’
She had been the solution, and her blood had been the key. When they broke
down her DNA structure they had found the triggers and molecular primers that
had been used to bind her genes together. Isolating the base components, Omega
and Phoriria had been able to successfully blend Gallifreyan DNA successfully
and the looms were re-implemented. The first of the children were ‘born’ almost
a year later, all perfect cousins in every way. The tests had revealed other
surprises. While the longevity process had increased most lives twelve score,
the process would keep her alive indefinitely. Initially she had not wanted it,
but the geneticists pressed on her the need for new and original DNA every few
generations to provide genetic variation. Rassilon had been overjoyed and
claimed his mother would claim the right to steer their race through eternity.
Her other son had simply looked at her sadly and wished her well. That had been
many years ago.
She had seen her sons split soon after the death of Omega, one following the
path of bureaucracy and power, the other fading simply into obscurity,
forsaking his heritage and becoming a hermit in the southern mountains.
Phoriria publicly denounced Rassilon, and after the violent reprisals that
followed, she to went into her own exile. Retreating into the catacombs below
the family home, she lead a simple life, watching and waiting, contributing
tissue as required. It continued this way for many years, until the dream. A
dream of the past. The next child, the next one created from a sample of her
skin, the next child would be different.
Forsake all the gold and the silver,
Turn your back on the fields and trees of home,
Ever and always, always and ever,
Time gives both the darkness and the dreams you've known.
The Doctor hesitated before the door. Time's Champion. He never realised
before what that really meant. Not until he had returned here, not until he had
remembered. He had lectured to others about the dangers of meddling with Time -
how time can write her own songs and weave them to her own ends. Time creates
her own weapons and opportunities, orchestrating all the multiple endings. And
now he remembered her, sitting by his crib with all the other time tots.
Sitting and singing to him. Singing a song about herself and the ways of Time.
Time creates her own songs. He straightened, steeling himself, trying to clear
the frown from his face. Time creates her own champions.
He entered the room smiling nervously, barely able to meet her eyes with the
confidence he used to. She had aged well over the millennia, the nanites
combining with her enhanced genetics to slow the ravages of time. Despite this
her face had still wrinkled and her hair had greyed, but she was still
recognisable as the girl he had met in the transit station years ago.
And Kadiatu returned his smile.