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The Scholar's Tale

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Watcher Who". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: His girlfriend was absorbed by an ancient demon goddess and a vampire sent him on a suicide mission. But his father was a Time Lord and his mother human - and that's only the start of Wesley's problems! (2nd strand in the 'Watcher Who' 'verse)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > Wesley-CenteredpythiaFR15910,51542218,3241 May 0625 Jan 09No

You are now entering the Twilight Zone

The interior of the last dreaming TARDIS, deep beneath the ruins of the Riox station.


The interior of the TARDIS was dim and shadowed, an echoing complex of empty spaces, delineated by hints of vaulted arches and carved pillars.  Bundles of cables were gathered in the doorway, their shimmering lengths snaking away into the depths like pallid tentacles, a Gigeresque umbilical that threatened something ominous, something truly unspeakable, lurking in the dark.  Wesley stepped across them cautiously, not wanting to disturb them, vaguely concerned that whoever had been working here might have left traps and triggers to defend their work – or perhaps to trigger it. 

It was something he might have done, imagining the sleek glide of metal cased invaders investigating this temptation of abandoned technology; a proximity trigger perhaps, or a mass detector, programmed to react to alien presences.

If there was such device, waiting to spring an unnamed Time Lord’s final blow – their Shian’igirika, as Illyria had termed it – then he just had to hope that it would recognise him as friend, not foe.

Because if there was, and it didn’t, he might be about to destroy the entire universe.

And possibly one or two others as well …

The air that had greeted his entry was cold – cold enough to condense his breath into tiny puffs of misted ice.  There was no sense of a breeze, no hint of circulation; he felt like he’d entered a tomb. 

Silence lay around him with almost tangible presence, swallowing the impact of each step, muffling every breath; the loudest sound in his ears was the pounding of his hearts, beating an as yet unfamiliar rhythm inside his chest.

Ahead of him, at the end of a long shallow slope, a half hidden source of light outlined shapes in the dimness.  The curve of control panels, perhaps, or some intricate device set where the flight console ought to be.  This TARDIS was still sleeping, a slumbering suggestion of presence rather than a vital entity, capable of responding to his invasion.  It was still unfurnished –unfinished – in any way.   Somewhere, out in the vast stretch of darkness, there would be a few walls, delineating the most basic of interior requirements, but there seemed to be little else defined.  Above him undoubtedly curved a vast dome, marking the outer curve of the TARDIS sphere – and the same would lie below, deep beneath their feet.  Even the floor he was walking on was likely to be honeycombed, nothing but a network of surfaces built to support the intricate structures that encased the machine’s heart.  The sense of vast, but architectured space was disconcerting.  It felt like walking through the colonnades of some huge cathedral, dwarfed by immensity and overwhelmed by a sense of eternity.

“This magic of space and time intrigues me,” Illyria said from the doorway, the sudden impact of her voice making Wesley jump.  “Once I had the reach to occupy such a hall as this.  It would have been worthy of my true form.”

Wesley blinked, struck by a recollection of Illyria that was – the Primal god-King wrought in terror and tentacles – and realised she was right.  The dark, colonnaded spaces would have suited it perfectly, a palace of brooding, silent power. 

The presence of the snaking, twisted cables didn’t help the thought …

“This is an idea of space,” he said, shaking the image from his head and starting to walk towards the hint of structure and light.  “And time doesn’t really exist here as yet.  Just our perceptions of it.  When … if, the machine achieves consciousness, it will become irretrievably linked to the temporal reference of whoever … wakes it up.  No time will have passed in here since whoever was working on her left for the final time.”

“His breath remains,” Illyria noted with a hint of disgust.  Wesley shot her a startled look and she tilted her head and looked back, as only she could.  “He was sweating with fear.  I can taste it.”

Oh …

There was really nothing to say to that.  Wesley wondered, as he stepped over cables and then half ducked under a sudden swathe of them, if that had been fear of the encroaching war, horror at whatever desperate measures the engineers had been constructing here – or terror, because whatever it was, it was done, and had been left ticking, like a temporal timebomb. A timebomb waiting for someone else to bring it a perception of time within which it could explode.

Had he triggered doomsday, just walking in the door?

The TARDIS stayed dark and cold.  Nothing stirred in its depths.  No lights flickered into life, no ghostly voice began an echoing countdown, and no other sounds echoed to suggest any kind of trigger had been activated.  The shapes in the darkness slowly resolved into semi-recognisable ones as Wesley drew closer.  It was a control console – a very rudimentary one, with a few switches and levers set into the hexagonal facets surrounding the central column.  The faintly shimmering cables plunged into open panels in the floor, and then snaked up again, draping over the console like thick, pallid spider webs. 

And then they stopped. 

They’d all been disconnected, although once you got close enough it was easy to see what they’d once been connected too.  There was a multifaceted, crystalline shape suspended high above the central column, dark flickers of light sparking along its edges. 

Its held a swirl of something  - unsettling.

Colours pulsed, then faded.  Shapes shifted, formed, then dissolved again, too quickly to define.  It was infinitely deep, infinitely dark, and infinitely compelling.

“I have … seen this.”  Illyria’s voice was oddly hushed.  She’d followed him from the open doorway, stepping where he stepped, shadowing his cautious footsteps, probably aware of some unknown threat, yet too curious – or perhaps too arrogant – to stay away.  “A long time ago.”

“A very long time ago,” Wesley murmured, his eyes wide and his mouth dry.  At the heart of a TARDIS lay a pinpoint singularity, one that – once it was awakened – would link it directly to the timestream, freeing it from material time and giving it access to the primal power of creation.  Above this TARDIS’s power source, some unknown Timelord had managed to engineer a stable chaos sphere.  The raw energy of pre-creation.

Singularity, and sphere.

Matter – and anti-matter, both refined to their purest, perfect essence.

Both of them vast resources of power.

Both of them masterpieces of temporal engineering.

And if ever the content of one were to contaminate the other … if even the barest whisper of the force and counter force were to touch …

Reality would cease to exist.

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Scholar's Tale" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 25 Jan 09.

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