Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Cold Hand of Time

Ok, so here it is, the first story of the whole saga. In the next few days I'll post the original ending, so you can see what was going to happen until I decided that it didn't seem right.

Brace yourselves for.....

The Cold Hand of Time

The room buzzed with excitement, the anticipation of so many months work finally coming to a conclusion. Those gathered had worked for days without stopping to complete this monumental feat. They all stared at the one man who had made it all possible as he stood on his podium, ready to address his colleagues.
    "Today," a loud but not overbearing voice uttered, "is what we've been waiting for. The achievement of so much dedication and hard work from all of you. I now give you...our salvation!"
    The sight of it was utterly underwhelming, but those who had helped research and construct it were overjoyed to see its completion. It was everything. Their future, their families' futures. Without it, there would be no hope of seeing tomorrow.
    "And now," the voice again, "the first test. Triveck, suit up!" The speaker gestured to his colleague, a smaller, younger (and certainly more agile) man than himself. His thick blond hair was in stark contrast to the thinning pate of the speaker. Startlingly azure eyes were filled with a keenness to impress his superior.
    Triveck pulled on the suit that had been made to cope with the hostile environment of the device. Murmurs went around the crowd about the suit being safe, and the consequences should it fail ("He'll be scattered around the seven suns if it fails" one of them could be heard to say. "If this doesn't work then we all will," replied another).
    Clamps were clicked shut, and the speaker gestured to two others to check the suit's integrity, which they did with two Geiger counter-like objects. They nodded to the speaker. All was prepared.
    Triveck walked forwards.


    The Doctor's attempt to steer the TARDIS was going badly. Tegan had been returned back where she'd wanted to go, so at least he'd got something right at last. However, he'd promised Nyssa somewhere they could rest for a while, being alone with their thoughts after the events of the past few weeks. Adric's death and Tegan leaving had taken its toll on them both, and what they really needed, decided the Doctor, was, "Somewhere to get away from it all. Our own personal Zero rooms."
    Nyssa had consented, and taken to investigating different areas of the TARDIS. The laboratory for example contained many sights she recognised as different forms of similar equipment to that which they had on Traken. She was concerned at present with improving the delta-wave augmenter that had aided her rest all that time ago on Deva Loka. Sleep wasn't something that she'd had much of lately, and Nyssa thought that by modifying the device she might be able to relax.
    The sound of several small explosions and the Doctor's reaction to them (expletives in Gallifreyan, she assumed) brought her out of her reverie, and she dashed to the console room.
    "Doctor? What's happened to the console?" The sight that greeted her reminded her of her father's workshop, tools placed haphazardly and machinery lying in pieces on the floor.
    "The old girl's in need of a service. Trouble is," the Doctor flicked another switch and withdrew his hand quickly, just avoiding the sparks caused, "she doesn't want to cooperate. Like a dog in a bath!" He looked to Nyssa, who was understandably puzzled. "Sorry, bad analogy."
    Nyssa picked her way through the debris that littered the floor, trying to avoid standing on anything in case it should be a vital component. "I thought you said we were going for a rest?" She looked back to the Doctor, but he was busying himself trying to fit parts of the console together once more.
    "Oh. Yes, I did didn't I?" He smiled. "So that's what we will do. Just give me..."
Nyssa didn't hear the end of the sentence, her vision seeming to blur and fade briefly, all sense of where she was drowned out momentarily by overwhelming darkness. Then, just as quickly, the room swam back into view, the Doctor now standing over a console with parts intact.
    "Nyssa, are you alright?"
    Nyssa blinked a few times, trying to ascertain whether she was feeling 'normal'. "Yes. Yes I think so. But Doctor...the console is fixed!"
    "Yes! Didn't take too long, time being relative and all that."
    She shook her head. "No, the last time I looked it was in pieces. There was equipment all over the floor. Then I couldn't see for a moment, and when I could," she gestured at the room, "it was back together again."
    The Doctor took out his half moon spectacles and looked into Nyssa's eyes, one at a time. "Any pain? A headache? Loss of hearing?"
    "That's just it, it was so brief but so much time seems to have passed."
    The Doctor face's took on a look of concern. "Are you sure you're alright? These sort of occurrences always seem to have lingering effects." He paused. "Definitely all in one piece? No dizziness, nausea?"
    Nyssa sighed. "Really Doctor, I'm fine. It's kind of you to be so concerned, but I'm feeling better already."
    "If you're sure..." The Doctor could see that Nyssa was about to protest, and stopped himself. "Well, everything seems fine with you, but what caused it? If I didn't know better I'd say it was some form of..." Nyssa was looking past the Doctor now as he spoke. He began to follow her gaze as he completed his sentence, "...localised time distortion". Each word came out slowly as he found what Nyssa's eyes had rested on. Behind him, looking incredibly confused, was a man in a space suit.


The speaker – a Dr Phillip Aldrich – looked down at his watch once more. Triveck had still not returned from his expedition, and his concern was growing for his colleague's well-being – though if truth be told he was more troubled by what this meant for the project.
    The other assembled scientists were talking in whispers, and Aldrich knew what they were saying. Everyone, it seemed, feared the project wouldn't work, but still they had to try. His patience tested to the limit, he knew he had to say something to dispel these idle rumours.
    "As you are well aware, our colleague, Dr Triveck has still not returned. But let me put an end to this gossip and idle-talk I can hear spreading through your numbers. This does not mean the project is a failure, simply that the outcome was far more unpredictable than we could have anticipated."
    A low murmur of seeming agreement went through the crowd.
    "Which is why I will now venture into it myself." Without waiting for a suit, Aldrich stepped towards the swirling energy much to the horror of those in the room. Screams could be heard from all around him.
    He closed his eyes and stepped through.


"I'd hazard a guess that that is the cause of our distortion!" The Doctor pointed at the figure in the console room.
    The figure removed his helmet, looking around him at the sheer expanse of the TARDIS interior. Nyssa was about to speak, but the Doctor held out a finger to stop her. Together, they watched the man looking around in wonderment at his surroundings.
    It was only after the Doctor coughed that he noticed anyone else in the room. The Doctor extended a hand. "Hello, I'm the Doctor and this is Nyssa. This may sound a little rude, but what are you doing inside my TARDIS?"
    The man took the Doctor's hand and shook it vigorously, a bemused smile forming. "Dr Yasmil Triveck. And," he shrugged his shoulders, "I have absolutely no idea!"
    The Doctor frowned. "So, this wasn't an intentional intrusion then? I must say it does seem a trifle odd, you suddenly appearing here."
    Triveck perched himself in the wicker chair that sat in the corner, much to Nyssa's consternation. "So who are you? Where are you from? Do you know where you are?"
    Triveck turned to Nyssa, slightly taken-aback by her rapid fire questions. "Well, I'm a scientist, from the planet Scalintra, and I'm guessing I'm in some kind of spacecraft." He paused. "The TARDIS isn't it?"
    "A TARDIS," confirmed the Doctor. "Scalintra...Scalintra...why do I know that name?"
    Nyssa shrugged. "You've probably been there before. Maybe somewhere we could take our rest Doctor?"
    At this suggestion, Triveck was on his feet immediately. "No, no we can't go back there. Here, this, is my way out!"
    The Doctor turned to Triveck. "Scalintra! I remember! Which goes some way to explain how you came to be in the TARDIS, though not why you're very much against going back." The Doctor flicked a few switches on the console, pressing one final button with a flourish. "Experiments Nyssa, time experiments. That's what must have caused that distortion earlier."
    "A kind of time displacement," she reasoned.
    Triveck grabbed the Doctor. "This is madness! We can't go back there! Why do think I volunteered! A one way trip, I thought, no going back."
    The Doctor easily wriggled free of Triveck's grip. "Too late!" The console began the elephantine trumpeting that occurred when the TARDIS began materialisation. "We're landing now!"

The crowd didn't dare look. Aldrich's body would most likely be scattered around the auditorium, parts strewn everywhere. Either that or they were all dead, the reaction of the device to the foreign object that was Aldrich causing the ultimate damage.
    Yet, they looked. It was still in place, no rupture caused. There was no sign of Aldrich, meaning he'd been either completely atomised or his creation had worked.
    Aldrich's second in command, Moltev, decided that something had to be done and nodded to those technicians in charge of keeping the corridor open. The power faded, the glow from the corridor disappearing. A look of uncertainty crossed her prematurely lined face, her once beguiling looks having begun to fade as the time spent working on the project began to take its toll.
    "This is the safest action we can take at this time," she assured the crowd.
    She expected a reaction to this, but if any were to have come it was cut short by what sounded like the fabric of the universe itself tearing apart. The strange blue box that seemed to materialise from thin-air froze her to the spot, but the action that occurred next simultaneously frightened and elated her.
    The door opened, and stepping out was the figure that had left them mere minutes before. Minus the helmet of his suit, Triveck stood and stared at the crowd, Moltev rushing over to him and embracing him. Outwardly grateful for the embrace of his one-time lover, inwardly the fear of his own unanticipated return was tearing at his insides.
    The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS, and all eyes were next upon him as Triveck nervously proclaimed, "Behold my colleagues! I bring you, our salvation!" He wasn't sure of his own belief in the words until he said them. He hadn't been intending to return, so to suddenly arrive back mere minutes after he'd left was a shock to say the least.
    The Doctor looked around the room, lifting his hat as he greeted the crowd. "Hello. I'm the Doctor. You seem to have a malfunctioning time corridor!"
    Moltev stepped from the gathering to greet her colleague, though speaking at the Doctor as she did so. "How do you know of the time corridor? And what exactly do you mean by 'malfunctioning'?"
    At this point Nyssa exited the TARDIS carrying a small metallic device that bleeped intermittently. Before the Doctor could hazard a reply, she spoke. "This gentleman," she gestured at Triveck, "arrived from nowhere in the TARDIS control room." She moved the device in different directions, trying to get it to bleep once more.
    "I'm sorry, who are you?" Moltev again, as she checked Triveck over with a device of her own.
    "Nyssa of Traken. I travel with the Doctor. Your friend is lucky he's still alive. The temporal energy of that time corridor could have killed him."
    Moltev sneered in response. "Don't be absurd! No harm could have come to him. Not while he was wearing this suit."
    It was the Doctor's turn to interrupt this time. "That suit offers little if any protection from chronon radiation. In fact, he may have been better without it. Still, it's lucky he happened upon the TARDIS!" He paused. "But he really shouldn't have been able to." His words slowed as he checked the device that Nyssa held in her hands. "Not only that, but why are you using time technology? This sector of the galaxy is nowhere near advanced enough to be dealing with it yet!"
    The device in Nyssa's hand was bleeping louder now and she looked to the Doctor for confirmation of exactly what was happening. At this noise, the crowd began murmuring once more, and Moltev took the opportunity to dismiss them for a short while.
    "Don't be alarmed, merely take this time to get some refreshment. Have a break, and I will recall you as soon as you are required." They seemed to need no further encouragement, and filed out of the room.
    "Yes Nyssa, that's very disturbing." The Doctor looked up to see that only Triveck and Moltev remained. "This time corridor – how did you come by it?"
    A look of puzzlement crossed Moltev's face. "Come by it? It was created here!"
    Nyssa spoke up. "But the technology here is far in advance of the science of your civilisation, at least according to the TARDIS."
    Moltev eyed the blue box wearily, then looked first to Nyssa, then to the Doctor. "It was created many years ago. Some say they knew of its origins, but they have long since passed and took their secret with them. Since then, generations have been attempting to stabilise it in order to escape from this place."
    The Doctor was now busy looking at the controls of the corridor, unsure exactly what their function was, when he suddenly realised what Moltev had said. "Escape? From what? The seismological activity seems in order, it's the temporal energy that's the problem. But that's...only recent. So," he tapped his chin with a finger, "it can't be that." The Doctor pointed to Triveck, who was sat down at one of the command terminals. "He didn't want to come back here, and he was very definite about that. So, what are you afraid of then?"
    Triveck looked up, the colour drained from his face. "There's a bomb. A bomb designed to destroy the planet if tampered with. And if we don't try to escape, then they will take us all."
    "Who are 'they'? And why not escape using spacecraft? Surely you must have knowledge of that?" The Doctor's eyes widened as realisation hit him. "Oh. Oh dear. I know what's happened now - it's obvious! Nyssa, show me the..." He looked around, but Nyssa was nowhere to be seen.

    The bleeping from the box was getting louder and stronger the more Nyssa moved with it. She had left the main room via a different door to the one which the crowd of scientists had moments before.
    She found herself in a corridor that seemed as if it had been left to the ravages of time. The lighting was sparse, and the air burnt her lungs. She pressed on, the intensity of the bleeping increasing.
    Nyssa passed numbered doors, seemingly in no order. The noise from the machine grew in pitch and volume and seemed to be about to cause the device to overload when it simply stopped outside of one particular door. Nyssa waved the device around, and the signal returned when it was moved away from the door.
    Nyssa noted the number, and attempted to push it open. It would not move. "What I wouldn't give for an Ion bonder now. I could reverse the settings and open this!" She sighed, and made her way back to the main room, remembering all the while the number on the door.


    "Well, what do you mean? What's obvious?" Motlev asked the Doctor with an obvious air of authority.
    The Doctor rolled his eyes to the ceiling, sighed, then remembered that patience was something he needed to remember in his old age. "The time corridor. Wherever it's come from, whenever it's come from, it's somehow removed your knowledge of interstellar travel!"
    Triveck stared at the Doctor. "You mean, we had the means by which to escape all along, only this," he gestured towards the time corridor , "has robbed us of it? Our means of escape denying us of our survival?"
    "Exactly!" The Doctor seemed triumphant. "What concerns me more though is this bomb you say can destroy the planet." He paused, thinking. "And who put it there."
    Before anyone could answer him, Nyssa rushed in carrying the device. "Doctor, I've found it. There must be something behind the door. I tried to get into the room, but I couldn't get the door open."
    Triveck and Moltev looked at each other. All of them knew which room Nyssa had found. Only Moltev dared utter it. "Room 4. That's where it is. Room 4."
    Nyssa looked at the Doctor, puzzled. "Where what is? I thought it was the source of the time distortion."
    "It seems there's more here than just time distortion Nyssa. Our friends here tell me that somewhere is a bomb capable of destroying the entire planet." He looked into space for a moment, looking through the three natives left in the room. "And I think you've found it."

    Aldrich opened his eyes. He wasn't dead. Somehow he'd survived the time corridor with no suit. He coughed out a lung-full of dust, and wiped the grime from his face with a sleeve of his jacket. The room he was in seemed small, not like any he'd been in before. He could be in another world, another time entirely. He couldn't see much around him, though...
    For a second he could have sworn he saw someone. Someone he definitely didn't recognise. He wasn't sure though. Perhaps it was a figment of his mind.
    Aldrich began to walk around, theorising that there must be a door or window somewhere nearby. The more he walked, the more his eyesight adjusted to the darkness of the room. All around, the room seemed as if it had been burnt. It wasn't just darkness, it was the result of some kind of event.
    He shook his head, and continued searching for the door.


    Nyssa carried the device ahead of her, the Doctor following briskly behind. They soon reached the door Nyssa had arrived at earlier, and it was the Doctor who noticed that which Nyssa had not.
    "Ah. A security lock. Not installed by your people I assume?" The Doctor looked to the small gathering that had accompanied himself and Nyssa.
    Triveck spoke, the panic he'd expressed earlier returning to his voice. "Of course not! Don't you think we'd have done something about it if we had?"
    "Well," replied the Doctor, "I'm rather doubtful of that. Since you told me that any tampering with the device would have caused it to detonate. In fact I think you know more than you're letting on."
    Triveck's blue eyes gazed round at Moltev and Nyssa, their faces in clear wonderment if what the Doctor said could possibly be true.
    Before they could ask anything of him, Nyssa broke the stillness of the silence. "Doctor, how do we know there is even a bomb behind that door?"
    The Doctor turned to her, eyebrows raised. "How indeed!" With a small flourish, he entered a random series of numbers on the keypad. To the others' amazement, the door slid open with a satisfying clang, and the Doctor indicated that they should enter.
    Hesitantly, Moltev stepped through, followed by the others.
    As they looked around the room, the first thing they noticed was the size. The space – of which there was little – was mostly occupied by a glowing sphere of light, hovering about two feet from the ground. Wires connected it to thick cables that fed through the wall opposite to the door. "Obviously some kind of power source," uttered Nyssa.
     The Doctor nodded. "Well, one thing is for certain – that is not an explosive device capable of destroying a whole planet." The Doctor looked at the sphere, seemingly in admiration of the device. The others all had one other thing on their minds.
    Moltev coughed. "Well, if no one else is going to say it, then I shall. Doctor, just how did you get through the security clearance?"
    The Doctor looked around at them as if the solution were obvious. "It wasn't active. I could have typed in the coordinates for the ruins of Manalex Beta and it would have opened." He pointed at Triveck. "It was you who made me realise."
    Triveck seemed to be shaking, his voice cracking under what the efforts of forcing a response. "Wha...what do you mean?"
    "You've been here before, haven't you? You found out what was really in this room." The realisation had struck Nyssa as they'd stood outside the door, Triveck's nervousness implying – as the Doctor had suggested – they he knew more than he had said.
    Triveck could only nod in reply.
    Moltev was now studying the globe, trying to ascertain why Triveck would have not told them about it. As she examined it, she thought back to the device that Nyssa was holding, the function of the machine. She turned to the Doctor. "This is it, isn't it? This is what caused the time corridor."
    The Doctor smiled. "Well done. I knew you'd get there. As soon as Nyssa told me of the readings I had a good idea what we'd find."
    Moltev shook her head. "I may not be in the peak of youth Doctor, but I don't understand why Triveck would find it and keep it a secret."
    "Oh, I think you do. I think you have a very good idea. You see, you were all under the impression that there was a bomb here big enough to destroy your planet. Hidden away, somewhere you wouldn't find it, by an invading force."
    As the Doctor spoke, Nyssa was looking into the corner of the room. For a brief moment, she was sure she could see a figure moving in the shadows. She turned to the Doctor, but looking back once more, the figure had gone.
    Triveck had his head in his hands, seemingly in tears at what was unfolding before him. Motlev walked to him, grabbing him by the shoulders, spinning him round to face the rest of them. A look of bewilderment crossed her she stared at the figure before her. "You were working for them? All along? No wonder you wanted to volunteer!" She pulled a short black pistol from behind her back, flicking on the laser sight and aiming it at Triveck.
    Nyssa was the first to react at the scene unfolding before her. Her voice was calm as she said to Moltev, "I understand that you must be upset, but murder isn't going to solve anyone's problem."
    The anger in Moltev's face was obvious, her finger squeezing the trigger on the pistol ever tighter. "It'd make me feel a hell of a lot better though" she said through gritted teeth.
    The Doctor held up his hands. "Stop! Now, as Nyssa says, killing isn't going to get us out of this situation. Let's give our friend here a fair chance to explain himself." He stepped between Triveck and Moltev. "Do you want my blood on your conscience too?"
    Motlev grudgingly lowered the gun a little. "So come on then, explain if you can why it is that you're working for them."
    Triveck took a deep breath. "The time corridor. It wasn't created here – well, at least not by our people. I...discovered it."
    "You discovered it? I thought it was something your people had created generations ago?" Nyssa, along with Moltev was understandably puzzled by this revelation.
    "So, you found it – what then?" prompted the Doctor.
    "Well I, I went through it. After memories are hazy. Only recently events have been breaking through, but I don't know the whole story!"
    Moltev raised the gun once more. "A very convenient excuse!"
    The Doctor gestured for her to lower the gun. "No, I don't think it is. And I don't think he's the only one."
    A realisation suddenly hit Nyssa. "Do you mean that these people have had their memories tampered with? Is that why they haven't developed space travel?"
    The Doctor's face looked grim. "Yes. I'm rather afraid that is what's happened. And I think I know who might be behind it all." He paused. "In fact, I think I may have been there when this all started."
    "So, who was it? Him?" Moltev pointed at her colleague.
    "No, he's just a pawn. He's been used, his memory altered, all your memories have been altered. He found something he shouldn't have, and he paid the price for it. You all could have escaped long before now, but you've been inhibited. That time corridor could have carried you all away from day 1, but you've been forced to ignore that fact." The Doctor's voice was wavering slightly. "But, you can still save yourselves – close the corridor, and you close off their access."
    "Doctor, who are 'they'?" Nyssa was as confused at Triveck and Moltev seemed to be. Moltev's gun had stayed down this time, but she still wasn't any happier with the situation.
    The Doctor gave Nyssa a look of concern. "Right now Nyssa, that's the least of our worries."
    "I don't know exactly what's gone on here, but we need to end this. Now! What do we do?" Logic had wormed its way around Moltev's brain, and she knew that a practical solution was the most sensible option.
    "We have to destroy that!" Surprisingly, it was Triveck who had answered. Not sure if he was to be trusted, Moltev looked to the Doctor for confirmation. He nodded.
    She aimed her pistol at the sphere.
    "Not directly at it! Aim for one of the connections!" The Doctor managed to shout just in time, causing Triveck to nudge Moltev's aim from the centre of the sphere to one of the power conduits.
    Sparks started to issue forth from where the laser had struck the cable.
    "Now, I suggest...we run!" The Doctor pushed them all out of the room, slamming the door shut as they ran hurriedly down the corridor.

    The room lit up before him, a bright light flashing intermittently in the centre. Now Aldrich was sure he could see a figure whom he didn't recognise. He saw him flee the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
    Aldrich's heart began to race faster. He knew that the flashing light was a warning, an indication that now was the time he needed to leave.
    In desperation, he began clawing at the walls, screaming at them for some kind of escape.

    "We need to get out of this complex, and fast. That sphere is going to cause a temporal explosion." Nyssa looked down one of what seemed like a maze of corridors, and was overjoyed to be greeted by the sight of the TARDIS. "Quickly, towards the TARDIS!" Motlev and Triveck looked puzzled, so she added, "The blue box!"
    Triveck and Moltev needed no further prompting, and rushed through the open door.
    Nyssa looked back and could just make out the figure of the Doctor behind them. "Doctor, hurry!" she shouted.
    "Keep going!" He yelled out, dashing towards the TARDIS. Bundling Nyssa inside, he slammed the door behind them.
    The shout of "Doctor, hurry!" was heard by Aldrich as he frantically tried to escape from the room. The bright light was now becoming more corporeal, the room taking on a different form, but still fading in and out of reality.
    Aldrich wasn't sure what would happen next, and a sudden stillness came over him.
    He closed his eyes as the light flared, blotting out reality.

    "So," Nyssa began, "what was the cause of all this?"
    The Doctor looked up from the console. "Time distortion, a massive rupture caused by both the opening of the time corridor and..." he looked at his arm as if to consult a watch, "...its closure."
    Moltev shook her head. "Then that's it. We're doomed. They may have been no bomb, but they will come back."
    Nyssa was beginning to grasp the extent of what had happened. "But they can't. Not now. They were going to use the corridor to invade!"
    "Precisely! You may find the blocked memories starting to return now, but I'll make sure I pop back and check up on you soon. Just to be sure," surmised the Doctor.
    Triveck laughed with relief. "So that means that we're safe!" A suddenly realisation hit him and the joy appeared to drain from his face. "Except the unfortunate ones still stuck down there when that thing exploded."
    "Except," Nyssa said, "the Doctor confined the explosion. Within a small blast radius that is. Isn't that right?"
    "Indeed it is!" He looked over at Moltev's still sullen face. "Trust me. Everything will be fine now. The universe is your oyster!"
    A small crept back onto Moltev's face. "I suppose you're right. But...what's an oyster?"
In the space-time vortex, a myriad of lights danced over the outer shell of the TARDIS, time rippling around it as the time corridor spilled temporal energy out into the universe.
    Where once it had been, a solitary figure now stood, gazing up at the stars. "I shall have my revenge on you, Doctor," it hissed through what remained of its mouth.
    The starlight glanced off a metallic object attached to the creature, the only word visible a name.

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