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Half Human and More than Just a Time Lord

By David Ronayne
(with thanks to almost every New Adventures author - It's all there, you only have to look)

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 of place.

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 entertainment.

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 earlier.

‘... 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.

This item appeared in TSV 50 (February 1997).

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