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- LORD TIME Divided into thirteen chapters, each with it's own link. CHAPTER BY CHAPTER - LT1 LT2  LT3 LT4 LT5    LT6   LT7  LT8    LT9      LT10    LT11   LT12 LT12b LT13

 

CHAPTER TEN - WORLDS IN COLLISION

The sheer cosmic scale of destruction caused by Ichabod was unprecedented. Many worlds, most of them mercifully uninhabited, cannoned into their moons, exploding into rubble and dust quickly. The oceans of Tharulza rose in mountainous tidal surges, and decimated the villages of the smaller island land masses. Fishermen and other mariners depending nn stars in their navigation, became hopelessly lost in the raging seas, unable to locate the welcoming safe harbours they were used to. The stars had shifted, and the ports had all been swept away.

On Reyglom the biggest ocean vanished into an enormous fissure in the sea bed, sending the cold waters on a collision course with the molten magma at the planet's core. The resulting explosion sent the debris into three neighbouring worlds which already had problems enough of their own. The Nomadic desert dwellers of Whi perished as the sands they thought they knew so well swept up over them in a single solid wall. The Tundra inhabiting races of Gowrie Seven faced not only the terrible quakes that swallowed their capital cities, but also the increasing heat of being pushed relentlessly closer to one of their suns. Their rivers, the only sources of drinking water, turned to steam and vapour. The very stones they walked on became too hot to stand on in naked feet. The increasing glare of the sunlight blinded many of them. They took to the shaded hills to pray, as their wooden homes burst into flames, and their farmland was consumed by unstoppable spontaneous forest fires. One by one, they succumbed to heat-stroke and heat exhaustion. Gowrie Seven rolled inexorably into the Sun, which barely seemed to notice.

Three lifeless worlds were taken by a Super Nova, as their Sun itself lost the struggle to retain its place in the cosmos.

The amphibious crew of the Kaborian Jade mining vessel 'Talaken C' came out of hyper space expecting to go into orbit around their home world, after a seven year expedition that had met with considerable success. They were pulverised quickly by the meteoric remains of their planet. Other spaceships drifted helplessly, trying to find bearings on worlds no longer in their rightful place. Few made it to any destination before their fuel and food reserves ran out.

Through the carnage, a vast planet-like sphere moved effortlessly forward. A space ship carrying survivors from the planet Yeltrah tried to land on the strange new world but it was quickly swept aside like a fly.

On his scanners, Ichabod saw another spaceship, taking position boldly between himself and Thryxx. "Fools." he said.

"Yes, Father, Fools." Ace said, in complete agreement.

On Galifrey the Time Control Centre picked up on the terrifying apocalyptic destruction as it occurred. The information was quickly relayed though the Panopticon to President Heirom. He acted quickly, to avoid the news leaking out to the public, and jeopardising his career. He immediately went on a live broadcast through the Public video Service station, to openly inform the shocked populace of Galifrey of the dreadful news.

"For aeons, we have aimed to prevent other races and individuals from putting The Universe in such peril. Now, to my great sorrow, I realise that we, all by ourselves, have committed the greatest atrocity of all, through one of our own people. With heavy hearts, I am made painfully aware that my presidency will be remembered most of all for these shocking and tragic events. Let me stress that I hope also to be the President who will be remembered as having been in office to oversee these events coming to an end. I hope that we can make reparations and provide compensatory help in any way we can, to put right the damage done to so many worlds within the Dalamari Quadrant of our galaxy. Tomorrow will be a day of National mourning. I hope the people of Galifrey will also take the opportunity to cast their opinion in a public referendum, as to whether or not they wish me to step down from office. My political future is now in your hands. If you wish me to resign, I will declare a general election immediately. If you wish me to continue to lead you, and represent you, I will endeavour to do so."

Heirom smiled as the broadcast was repented for the umpteenth time. The opinion polls already indicated that the majority of people stood by him. He knew them so well, he thought, the gullible imbeciles. By spelling out in maudlin, sympathetic terms, his own sense of guilt over the catastrophe, he had bought public sympathy, and by doing so, he had made it difficult for his political opponents to criticise his handling of the case. He looked around at his office, safe in the knowledge that he wouldn't be ousted too soon. His only real worry now was what Ichabod would do if the Doctor, Maxil, Elan and the robots failed to stop him. Heirom began to wonder if there would be any tomorrow at all.

The TARDIS began to shake around violently as it approached the new planet. The gravitational turbulence led Elan to order the use of the safety harnesses to prevent staff from falling over and injuring themselves. Several alarms began to sound off loudly, reporting the dangers, and so far minor damage to sections of the TARDIS. The obligatory Cloister Bell alarm system remained silent. Elan had wisely ordered it deactivation. He knew his men faced potential doom anyway. He didn't need a shrieking klaxon to remind them of the fact.

The Raston Warrior Robots were also keeping themselves from falling. Their balancing manoeuvres were impossible to see, but their flickering and occilating in and out of visibility created a severe migraine headache inducing strobe lighting effect, which made it difficult for the Time Lords to concentrate on what they were doing.

The sheer vastness of the planet on the view screens was awesome. Fria drew the men's attention to the polar Ice caps that were forming, and the vast cloud formations that gave Ichabod his own personal climatic weather system.

"There's no surface atmosphere capable of supporting life, though," Fria confirmed, in answer to Maxil's question. He felt relieved. He had thought of Ace wandering across the surface of that giant world alone. The prospect of her being inside Ichabod, possibly in his control centre, gave him renewed hope. He advised Elan to try to communicate with her; and get her to somehow sabotage the TARDIS controls within Ichabod.

The waves of turbulence kept on hitting them, in a fist like hammering. "This isn't just the natural effect of getting close to a large planet is it?" Maxil asked.

"Not a bit like it." Fria said. "The gravitational pulse is far too constant; it's striking us precisely and rhythmically."

Elan looked sombrely at the view screen. "Our staser fire isn't affecting him at all. Most of the energy is burning up in the planet's magnetic field. We've only got one option left. Send the men in."

Fria interrupted him. "Sir, what will happen if we do destroy Ichabod? Have you considered that?"

Elan demanded to know what she meant.

"Commander, Ichabod has caused a lot of planets to move into new orbits. If we suddenly remove him, they'll all move again. There will be even more destruction, and more loss of life."

"We have to do it anyway," Maxil said. "Ichabod will do a lot more damage if we let him stay like that."

"Commander, I must protest." Fria started, angrily.

Elan placed his hand firmly on her shoulder. "No, lass. He's right. Whatever damage we do here, it will be minor vandalism compared to what that.. that thing will do, if we fail."

"I'm sorry, Commander," Fria said, accepting defeat. "You too Maxil." The men nodded their heads and shrugged the matter aside.

Elan ordered everyone to put on their emergency evacuation Time Rings, which were mostly set for Galifrey. Exceptions were made for Maxil and fifteen of the Robots who were to be sent down to Thryxx. Some of the soldiers put on space suits and breathing helmets. They had an additional Time Ring on, primed to co-ordinates that would land them on Ichabod himself. All of the soldiers had volunteered for the job. Maxil had also volunteered, only to find himself refused permission.

As the buffeting gravitational forces emanating from Ichabod intensified, Elan ordered the immediate evacuation of all nonessential personnel. Reluctantly, without having time to say goodbye, or wish her friends good luck, Fria returned to Galifrey, to report the latest disturbing developments directly to President Heirom.

The space-suited soldiers came into the main control centre. They moved slowly, and with some discomfort, being weighed down by their heavy silvery suits and magnetic boots.

"We're ready Sir," said Striner, the blond giant of a man appointed to head the expedition.

"I won't make my usual big speeches, men. I just hope you all make it back. Galifrey will be very proud of you, and so will I. Good luck, and stay in radio contact at all times."

Striner saluted, stared briefly as though about to say something; thought better of it, and activated his Time Ring. The other men also left. One by one, the Raston Warrior Robots went as well. Each one simply appeared to go out, like candies.

Maxil spoke, trying to break the tension, as Elan seemed lost for words. "I'm sure the men will be fine, Sir."

"I hope so," Elan said, with a downcast expression. "Striner is my youngest son. He's only two-hundred and four."

Maxil didn't know what to say. He was glad when the radio came to life reporting events and activity on the surface of Ichabod. Maxil recognised the voice of Striner, though it was quite difficult to hear him properly over the static and feedback caused by the gravitational field.

"Sir, we've landed safely. The surface looks like rock, but it's metallic. The dust is all just painted on. He's just one solid mass."

"That will be the chameleon circuitry making it look like dust and separate stones", Maxil shouted."

"He can't hear you, Max." Elan said, gravely. "I didn't want Ichabod hearing us in here. I made the radio signals work one way only." The commentary continued. "We've tried drilling a hole in the surface, Sir but it's no use." We don't see the robots much, except in occasional glances, when they stop moving. I think they're trying to penetrate him with their lances. I don't think they'll have any more luck than we are though."

"Get them back up." Maxil said, banging his fist on the TARDIS console. "They're wasting their time."

"They'll use their secondary Time Rings, to get back here at the first sign of trouble," Elan said, "or they'll head far Galifrey. on the main escape ring."

The static surges that interfered with the signal in accompaniment to the pulse like attacks, seemed to subside again.

Striner came through in a great deal of agitation. "Sir, I heard a voice. Someone just called ms an insignificant microbe. It's not Ichabod. It's a woman's voice. A girl. Sir, she knows my name."

"He's done something to Ace," Maxil said, sadly, and angrily.

"It could be an illusion, lad," Elan reassured him. "Don't jump to any conclusions."

"My God, Sir!" Striner shouted. He's killed one of the robots. I just saw it slow down and explode. It's as though it was wading though treacle or mud, or something. It just slipped over and blew apart."

"Damn it." Elan swore. When he saw Maxil looking confused, he explained. "The Raston Robots have to move at a constant light speed, or their circuitry gets to heavy for them, and then disintegrates."

"The Landscape is changing, Sir. There are walls and barriers appearing. The robots just fell dawn a crater. It's bottomless. Wait. Sir. That noise. I think he's dematerialising. Get out of here, all of you...."

Maxil wasn't sure if the final statement was made for him and Elan, or to any remaining solders remaining alive on Ichabod. He watched with Elan as the Planet Ichabod vanished from the sky.

The men were still outside of it," Maxil said. Elan nodded, fully understanding the implications. "Their suits will protect them for a while in space. The Robots won't survive it though. Let's hope they can still use their Time Rings to get back to Galifrey."

Maxil was about to say that no one had came back on board the TARDIS, but he realised that Elan was aware of that from the way he had emphasised the word 'Galifrey'.

"I'm sorry, Sir."

"Don't be," Elan said as unemotively as he could, and cut off as the Planet Ichabod reappeared and rematerialised 7500,000 miles closer to the planet Thryxx than it had previously been. The surface of the giant planet was still the same size, but the colouring of it had changed drastically. Maxil and Elan were looking a giant planet sized eyeball in the sky. The pupil was bright green. The TARDIS was hit by a new shock-wave, which was either the result of the planet's reappearance in real space, or more than likely a fresh intentional assault tactic. Maxil found himself thrown to the floor, half tangled in his safety harness. Elan was slumped across the control console, but managed to pull himself upright. When the men managed to get to the view screen they didn't see Ichabod at all; just the savage, rushing, swirling maelstrom of the space/time Vortex...."

"We're completely out of control. The TARDIS is heading straight back through time towards Event One." Elan said. "Use your Time Ring. Get yourself out of here."

"You're coming with me, aren't you?" Maxil pleaded.

"No, I'm not."

"Don't be a fool, Sir..."

"Damn it man, I'm not going down with the ship. I'm going to Galifrey. You're going to have to get down to Thryxx, remember, so Go, now. That's an order, Soldier."

Maxil smiled at the thought of being called a soldier, and activated his Time Ring. Elan quickly activated his ring too.

Elan returned to Galifrey, where his enquiries quickly uncovered the fact that no word had been received from his son, or from the other soldiers. Many people expressed their deepest commiserations to him. Elan vowed to get back out there at the earliest opportunity to do something to help, and avenge his son's death, but he was at a loss to think what he, or anyone else could possibly do.

*******

The Earthquake seemed to wake up the whole household early. The Doctor realised how frightening it must have been for the cultists. He felt quite unnerved by it himself, even though he had experienced more severe quakes elsewhere in his adventures. While the cultists gathered in the ashram room next door to the Doctor's, to sing cheerful sounding old Gallifreyan hymns completely out of their original contexts to raise their spirits, the Doctor was left alone.

Eventually, the door to his room burst open. Marcher and Gideus walked in. Neither man smiled. Marcher in particular looked decidedly worried, the Doctor thought, and tried to tell him so, but his words were reduced to nonsense again. He stopped trying to speak. He felt very angry and distressed at being so easily cut off from the ability to communicate any information at all. It was a totally new experience for him, and he didn't much care for it.

Gideus took out a large knife, grinned a Neanderthal smile, and walked behind the Doctor. He used the knife to cut the flex, and hauled the Doctor to his feet. It was the moment the Doctor had waited for. Feigning more severe leg cramps than he genuinely felt, the Doctor staggered, and fell to the floor. Gideus quickly and easily manhandled the smaller man back up again, and producing more flex. He retied the Doctor's hands, not behind his back as before, he was keeping them in front of him this time. He tied the flex around the wrists, and then tied one end of a long leash of cable around the wrist bindings. Gideus held tightly on to the other end of the leash and pulled his fellow Time Lord forward, violently, as though he had an unruly dog on a lead. The bonds were tied as effectively as before. The Doctor knew that no amount of wriggling or struggling would free him, but the carefully timed fall had secured him a sliver of glass from the broken picture frame. The Doctor started to work immediately on his freedom, but it was a slow task. He had to be careful not to be spotted, and not to break or damage the flimsy, brittle makeshift knife he was using. He also had to be very careful not to cut his fingers with it. The flex was proving tough, but gradually it was cutting. The Doctor strongly wished it would cut faster. He saw the Time Ring bracelet on his wrist clearly, with its flickering green indicator reminding him of his likely destination.

The cultists filed in, some of them were still chanting. Most of them looked very distressed, either by the quake, or by the 'Loyalty Test' to come. "He cannot harm you children," Cardinax said. "I know the sound of his fury woke you up in the night, and shook our buildings a little, but your God was protecting you all, and so was I. "

The cultists stared at the Doctor. They looked very scared.

Cardinax allowed them to look and stare at the Doctor. A few walked up and cautiously touched him, but they flinched despite his smiles, as though he might escape and grab hold of some of them at any moment. The Doctor declined to speak.

Still playing his Lord Cardinax role to the hilt, Marcher picked up The Doctorís hat, and put it nn his own head. He also picked up the :umbrella and used it as a walking stick. "Come along now, follow ma. Bring that thing would you, Brother Gideus," he added, as an afterthought, pointing the umbrella at the Doctor."

The cultists moved out of the room in crocodile fashion, and started heading out of the house itself. Gideus hauled on the lead he had made, and pulled The Doctor out, half staggering, half walking fast, into the hallway, and then out into the daylight. The Doctor overheard the cultists talking. They were unsure of the time. It was normally still dark when they awoke. Marcher also looked up at the bright sun in disbelief. The Doctor tried to shout something, but stopped at the first syllable when he realised his words were still garbled.

Slowly, the procession of the dammed wound its way through the shattered streets. The Doctor looked around, but found it hard to assess the full extent of the quake damage, as so much of the city was already in ruins following the war against the Dominators. There were however several large cracks and a few holes in the streets. Many buildings, including that which they had just left, showed signs of damage. Only one structure looked completely unaffected; the large house Marcher had designated as his own. The Doctor made a note to investigate that at the earliest opportunity. In retrospect, he wished he had gone there before he went following the two cult girls into Marcherís trap.

In the distance, a building could be heard falling down. The cultists seemed to stop in their tracks for a moment, but Marcher pointed The Doctorís brolly towards the horizon, and urged them on. He walked back to The Doctor, smirking. "I have to admit it, Brother Smith; you had excellent taste. I think I'll keep these as a trophy. You won't be needing them any more." He walked off again, laughing. For the first time in his life, the Doctor thought of how satisfying it might be to actually use a gun to shoot someone dead at point blank range. He hated himself then for thinking it.

Within twenty minutes they had left the city behind them. The narrow footpath had clearly been made simply by repetitive use of the same track over several years. Around it, trees were lying on their sides, and occasionally they had to cut round or over those which blocked the path. At one point, the path itself vanished, as though the ground that it had stood on had been ploughed over on itself.

The little stretch of woodland gave way to sharply rising hills, then to chalk cliff tops. The calm sea lay a thousand feet below them, a deep and beautiful azure blue. Marcher started the testing immediately, giving no one time to catch their breath, rest their legs, or admire the tremendous view. He :started with a speech about miraculous signs arid omens, and the unusually early dawn. He somehow neglected to mention the panic stricken flight of the hundreds of birds who were flying out to sea over their heads even as he spoke.

"The day of your new God approaches. The wonders you see around you prove it. believe that this will be your last loyalty test. I want you to prove, in the presence of the Doubting One, that your faith in the new God Ichabod is firm. Prove yourselves before me. Who will be first? Who volunteers'?"

His speech was interrupted several times as the breeze blew the Doctor's hat off his head. He waited embarrassed, as one of the cultists fetched it back, only for it to blow away again as soon as he put it on. The Doctor smiled. He knew that no matter how bad the weather got, the hat never seemed to behave like that far him. Again it happened, dropping the hat close to the Doctor's feet. Marcher came over and picked it up himself. scowling at the Doctor, as he picked the hat up and kept in tightly in his hand, rather than trying to put it back on his head again. "Smile if you like, Doctor, but think of this. Even if you get the Time Ring off now, it will still take you away. Unless you get it at least one hundred miles away from you in time. I doubt very much if you can do that, Doctor..."

As no one willingly stepped forward for the loyalty test, Marcher pointed around with the Doctor's umbrella, teasingly at several people, including The Doctor, he finally settled on Brother Burson. The man lowered his eyes, and took a deep breath. He looked to the Doctor, for a brief instant as if he might actually refuse the task to be set before him, but handed a black ribbon blindfold by Lord Cardinax, Burson, put it on, and allowed the Prophet of The New God to guide him dangerously close to the cliff edge.

The Doctor felt powerless. He could do nothing but watch.. The cultists also looked anxiously on, as though praying for their Brother's very life and soul.

"Walk." Cardinax commanded.

Brother Burson slowly inched his way along the cliff edge. Marcher hovered close by him, occasionally shoving him, and prodding him, and knocking him off balance, before pulling him back upright just as he seemed about to topple. The spectators watched with clenched expressions, apart from Gideus, who was clearly enjoying every moment of it, and looking forward to seeing someone fall. The Doctor made use of Gideus's attention wandering to the spectacle, to work on cutting his bonds. He was finally beginning to make progress on them, but he wasn't sure if was enough yet. He glanced at Burson and wondered how much further Marcher was going to make him walk. The cliffs were dangerous enough on their own, but after the earthquakes, they looked unstable, and in danger of collapse at any instant.

Finally, it was over. Marcher pulled the boy clear, and snatched the blindfold off him. Burson looked back at where he assumed he must have walked with a sense of relief. He was still shaking as he rejoined his colleagues. No one congratulated him, or expressed any feeling towards him, they just watched the next victim, Sister Telesh, take the blindfold and start the same long walk. She had the advantage of having watched Burson take the walk, and make mental notes, but she still seemed to find it very difficult. Marcher goaded her, pushed her, and pinched her several times. She was crying. Marcher smiled and waved the hat at the Doctor, who thought of how often Marcher must have done this before, and how may of his cultists might have fallen to their deaths.

The sliver of glass became blunt, brittle, and finally snapped in half in the Doctor's hand. He let it go, and started to pull his wrists away from one another, hoping that the flex was now :sufficiently frayed to snap apart by itself. One strand of it pulled apart easily, but another one was holding out. The Doctor kept struggling, and trying to look attentive to the torture Marcher inflicted on the poor wretched girl.

Marcher turned and waved the fingers of both hands at the Doctor, mouthing he words, "Ten minutes." The Doctor understood it to mean the length of time he had before the Time Ring was activated.

The girl, Telesh, reached the point at which Burson had been allowed to stop walking, but Marcher made her walk a further twenty feet. Finally, however, it was over. Marcher ordered her to rejoin the others. Marcher started to walk towards the Doctor. "Almost time" he shouted. "Almost time." From the crowd of frightened cultists someone was talking out of turn of the Sister who hadn't made it last time. The Doctor wondered if it was a sister in the religious communal sense, or Telesh's actual sibling sister.

The Doctor knew what was coming. He was going to be made to take the tightrope knife edge walk. His disappearance would be interpreted as a fall, caused by his lack of faith. Marcher was walking towards him waving the blindfold and he had a manic grin on his face.

The earth suddenly convulsed with a cracking noise comparable to a large explosion. Almost everyone fell to the ground, which rippled under them, as though it was a blanket being shaken free of dust. Several cracks and fissures appeared simultaneously, and there was a deafening roar as whole portions of the cliff crashed away to the trembling sea below. Gideus stumbled and lost his struggle to hold on to the leash tethering the Doctor, who made use of the opportunity to roll away from him. The Doctor quickly placed his wrists either side of a large jagged stone, and used that to finally cut his hands free. He stood up again to run, but the rolling ground threw him back down. He stood and fell again, over and over. Gideus was stumbling the same way in his efforts to pursue him.

As the ground finally settled and rested, the screaming noise that had gone on throughout the rumbling was now clearly audible. Telesh was shouting for help, from her delicate perch on the edge of the new cliff; thirty-five feet further inland from its previous position. She was clinging on with her bare hands, as she struggled to secure a foothold. Burson, and the Doctor both rushed forward to help her; Burson was stopped by a shout from Lord Cardinax ordering him not to intervene. The Doctor kept going despite Gideus angrily coming up behind him. He shouted to the girl to hold on, and find a foothold. To his surprise his words came out audibly. He glanced round as he ran, to see where Marcher was; the Time Lord was hiding behind his followers, quivering, as they were looking up at the sky. Even Gideus stopped in his tracks to look up at the huge apparition that had just materialised there, shadowing much of the landscape into a gloomy but awesome silhouette, frightening Marcher out of concentrating on maintaining his spell over the Doctor's language translation gifts. The Doctor saw what it was. A vast planet sized eye was moving visibly into the daylight sky. It stared down directly at the people below.

"Your God is here, Cardinax. Is this what you wanted to control. Is it?" The Doctor's angry words went unheeded. Neither Marcher or his followers could stop staring at the eye in the sky..

A plaintive whimper brought the Doctor back to the plight of the young girl. He knelt down on the rocks, which were crumbling to shingle and gravel under him, and reached his hand down towards her. She looked at him in bewilderment and terror, and clearly had no intention of accepting his help. "You'll let me fall... Youíll make me fall."

"You'll fall anyway if you don't trust me. Give me your hand." As the girl looked briefly like she'd accept, the earth gave a final spasm and she slipped down a few feet, screaming and scrabbling. The Doctor lunged forward to catch hold of her, half expecting her to plummet altogether, and realised immediately his mistake, as he overbalanced, and toppled down after her, sliding forward. He pulled himself round and with some furious, panic driven, desperate grappling, he ended up hanging on to the cliff close beside her. "Another fine mess," he said, smiling at her. "Don't worry, "I'll get us out of this.... somehow,"

The girl tried to scream, but she couldn't make any sound. She became quite hysterical. She looked as though she was contemplating letting go of the rocks just to escape from the Doctor. "Don't look down," he advised her, looking down himself at the immense drop below him, and wishing he hadn't dared. He glanced up at his wrist, where the Time Ring indicator light was flashing. He wondered if it was his imagination that the indicator was flickering faster now than before. The Doctor craned his neck to look up. Gideus stood at the cliff edge, glancing down in a strange mixture of confusion and malice. The Doctor couldn't tell whether the man planned to try to rescue the girl or not. He shouted to him to move back, for fear he fell on top of them, and send the girl plunging down too.

From the distance, the Doctor heard a near childish shrieking call. "Forget the girl. Get the Doubting One you idiot. He has only moments left. If he falls too soon...."

Gideus just stood there, shrugging his shoulders, and looking helpless. "We need a rope." he shouted. He knew that the flex he had used to bind the Doctor was now too badly damaged to use again.

The Doctor ignored the girl's imploring cry that she couldn't hold on much longer. It only reminded him that he was slipping too. "Help's coming" he said, reassuring her as best he could. He looked helplessly at the Time Ring. If he moved his hand to unclip it from the other wrist, he would fall. Besides, he thought, Marcher's boast that the ring would still operate within a hundred miles of him made such a manoeuvre seem pointless.

Above, the Doctor could just see the outline of the eye that moved ever closer, causing more of the cliff to crumble away, although the main tremors appeared to have stopped for the time being.

Marcher seemed finally to come to his senses. The Doctor heard him clearly. He was pontificating again. "You see children, our God has come in all his glory. Fear not, for the new Kingdom is here. On your knees, my children. Fray to him. Fray to him."

The cool but not unpleasant breeze seemed to be dropping. The air was warming up quickly, and visibly. There was static in the air, and it seemed to emanate directly from the planet above. The electrical energy made the hairs prickle oh the backs of everyone's necks. Even the Doctor felt it, and he recognised what it was, though he had difficulty believing it, He shouted to them, hoping they could hear him. "Get back, all of you. Stand clear." One of his hands slipped off the rock face, but he quickly grabbed hold of the rocks again. A trickle of blood was slowly escaping from his fingers.

On the cliff, out of the Doctor's line of vision, the cultists stood up and stepped back, huddling towards one another. Most of them were crying. Cardinax stood transfixed, holding his arms out and shouting out in mad passion. "The hour is at hand. Behold the new dawn. "

A large blue hollow tunnel entrance appeared, shimmering as though in a heat haze. It was luminous and sparkling in a very beautiful way. Those with a clear view saw clearly, at its midst, a large shimmering golden staircase, that stretched up, up, up, towards the planet in the sky.

The Doctor saw nothing but the blue outline of the tunnel. It plunged the cliff and the terrified girl beside him into shadow. For a moment it took his mind off his impending fate, but he felt totally helpless.

The cultists simply stood, staring in a state of rapture and paralysis at the display before them.

"I doubted you," Brother Burson said, To Lord Cardinax, as his dry mouth found the courage to speak. "I'm sorry, but I did. Now I know that you spoke the truth. Forgive me. Forgive me." His words were ignored. Marcher was moving behind Sister Lenatra and the other cultists. He looked as though he was whimpering. "Oh, God." he was mumbling, as his nerves failed him once more.

"Look!" Lenatra shouted, as a a figure in white came walking slowly, and methodically down the stairway. "Move away. All of you." a woman shouted, majestically and commandingly, with considerable aggression. Her voice sounded amplified and echoing. Every word sounded out with considerable resonance and force.

The Doctor heard her and shouted to her. "Ace. I'm Down here. Quickly. We need you. Hurry. There isnít much time."

The woman in white came to the edge of the cliff, oblivious of the danger of falling. The Doctor stared up at her. He was appalled by what he saw. Ace's hair was raised up in a horrendous beehive style, that Ace would never have voluntarily worn, other than for a night at the Rocky Horror Show. There were two distinctive lightning streaks of white there, one above each ear. Her eyes seemed black, hollow, and vacant. Her face was pale, zombified, almost lifeless. Her gloss white robe looked spectral, and shroud-like. The bridal dress looked far too large, but then, Ace herself looked unnaturally taller. Blue light occasionally danced across the dress, as though projected there. Her fingers and their nails seemed to look longer, sharper. Her mannerisms, and her voice sounded cruel, heartless.

"Ace, what has he done to you?" The Doctor asked, more to himself than to her.

"I am set free'" she shouted triumphantly. "I am unbound. I serve only my Father." Though it sounded artificial, it was undoubtably her own voice still, not a recording, or any kind of telepathic transmission from some other source.

"Shut up and save the girl," the Doctor shouted. "Hurry up."

"What is it? What is it?" the girl cried to herself, looking away, with her eyes closed against the sight.

Ace looked at the Doctor, and hissed at him, as a cornered snake might do. The depth of hatred in her expression chilled him. It was as though the very sight of him sickened and offended her. "Get the girl." he shouted again."

Ace seemed to acknowledge him this time. She knelt down and stretched her hand out impossibly far. The Doctor half expected her to plunge down over the cliff past him. Telesh was whimpering, and seemed to be about to let go of the cliff when the vicelike hand of the creature grabbed hold of her by the wrist and hauled her up with an unbelievable and effortless tug. Ace gently dropped the girl on the cliff top, where she curled up in a ball, crying.

Beragon stepped quickly forward past the monstrous creature, and helped the girl to her feet. He quickly led her back to the main group of trembling cultists. Ace ignored him completely. She just stared down at the Doubting One.

"Are you going to let me fall?" The Doctor said, "Or are you going to help me?"

"Your fate is not my concern," Ace said, simply and turned away. The Doctor watched her move out of his limited field of vision, and shouted to her, imploringly. She never returned.

The cliff edge was crumbling away around him. His feet were dangling into space, and the handholds were rapidly shrinking away under his raw fingers. Much of the shale and many small stone fragments were pouring into his sleeves. He knew he couldn't possibly hold out any longer.

Gideus appeared on the cliff edge, looking down at him, at his own watch, and furtively, nervously around at the demon-girl behind him. He looked down, impassively at the Doctor, and stared until he saw the Time Lord vanish. He thought he saw a shimmer of white light, and then the Doctor had gone. He felt sure that he hadn't seen the Doctor merely fall from the cliff. He'd seen many other people do that, rolling, bouncing from the rocks, and screaming their last breath. He knew that the Doctor had gone by some other means. He smiled, and turned back towards Marcher and the other cultists. "We've done it. We've done it," he shouted excitedly.

Marcher peeped out from behind Lenatra. He started laughing. "You see my children. It is all working so well. The Doubting One is no more. He had no faith."

"Be silent," the woman shouted, walking towards him in a stilted awkward, robotic way.

The cultists saw Cardinax shove Sister Lenatra forward towards the strange girl, and start walking, almost running in the opposite direction. "Be still, Marcher. My Father wants to talk to you. I command you not to keep him waiting. Come with me. Now."

Marcher froze in his tracks. His face was white with terror. The woman stepped forwards towards him. As she did so, the blue corona entrance to the stairway moved with her. She seemed to float, rather than climb onto its steps. It then moved towards Lord Cardinax as well. The cultists moved aside as it swept like a channel, between them. They saw the woman in its transparent hazy midst, standing on the shimmering golden stairs.

Marcher stumbled and found himself on the stairs, and the woman's hand grabbed him by the elbow, as the stairway rose, like an escalator, taking him upwards.

Beragon pushed the girl, Telesh into Sister Lenatra's hands. "Look after her," he yelled, and leapt onto the rapidly fading stairway. Lenatra looked down helplessly for a moment at her new charge, who had fainted away in her arms.

Ace let go of Marcher, and stepped down towards Beragon. "Go back. You have no business up here."

Beragon ignored her and kept climbing.

Marcher tried to step back down towards the mouth of the tunnel, but the height of the steps had increased dramatically. The drop in front of him was now a steep wall. He realised that he had no option but to let the stairway take him up towards whatever was waiting above.

Ace reached Beragon and grabbed hold of his arm. A searing blast of static shot though him. "Return to you world," the woman said, her voice echoing around the cavernous chamber.

Beragon nodded consent, realising that he had no means by which to fight the girl, and turned away. Ace moved to go back up the stairway, but it was no longer there above her. She was staring at a sheer, smooth, wall, infinitely high, and impossible to climb. "Father! Why have you forsaken me?" she shouted.

A booming, sentorian voice echoed back to her. "You must serve me down there for a time. I will return for you soon. Make the people obey you. Show them that I am a jealous god."

Ace shouted, pleading for more information, but nothing came. The remains of the stairway led her inexorably downwards, and deposited her clumsily beside Beragon. She stumbled, but didn't fall, as he had done. She looked round as behind her, the tunnel, and stairway vanished completely. She looked up at the sky, relieved and reassured to see that the eye in the sky was still there.

The cultists stared at her, in a mixture of terror and confusion. For a moment Ace was unsure quite what to do. She ordered the man who had been on the stairs to rejoin the others, and he did. After a moment, she spoke to them again. "You were working on something. Return to your duties. Show me what you do."

No one moved. She commanded them again. "You must obey r~." Still they seemed reluctant.

The thunder-peal erupted from a cloudless sky. The dominant voice they had heard pouring down the stairway roared out from the very air around them.

"Do you dare to disobey my Daughter? On your knees foals!"

Many of the cultists quickly fell to the floor, as requested. A few did not.

"On your knees, I said. That includes you, Gideus."

Shocked at the mention of his name, Gideus threw himself down to the ground. He was a quivering wreck.

"Foolish children. You wanted a God, and now that you have me, you choose to ignore my commands. This cannot be. You must be punished." "Oh, what have we done?" Lenatra said to herself.

"Silence!" Ace commanded her.

"Brother Tamark, You have contemplated adultery. You will be the first to be punished."

"But I am an old man now. Any lustful thoughts I had were in my youth, when I was married. Before I joined the priesthood." His reasoning pleas for leniency and his protests were ignored. The lightning bolt surged instantly into the elderly cultist. Each molecule in his body tried to move away from every other molecule. His back arched back alarmingly, and his neck snapped with the whiplash caused by the sudden contortion inflicted on him. Flames and smoke poured from his dead, but twitching fingers and toes. Ace watched, and smiled. The cultists turned their heads away, and some of them screamed.

"You see," Ace said, laughing. "You must obey me. I speak for my Father. Do as we say, or more of you will die. Get back to work."

Beragon walked over to the corpse of his former mentor, who he could only think of now as Arti, not as Tamark, and he closed his eyes for him. Beragon stood, looking down mournfully at the body, unaware that the other cultists were already walking away, at the prompting of the woman in white. She turned back and looked at Beragon, with hatred in her eyes, "What are you doing?"

"We should bury him," the young man said. "That is our custom."

"Leave him," the woman said, coldly. "He will serve to remind you all of your own future." A crackle of static surged from her long, pointing fingertips. Beragon screamed as the power bolt hit him, but the pain faded without doing any damage. The creature that had been Ace smiled, allowing her silence to convey her tyranny by itself. Reluctantly, Beragon turned to follow his brothers and sisters to their duties under the regime of the new God. As he walked, Beragon saw the hat and umbrella of the Doubting One lying on the cliff side, where Lard Cardinax had discarded them during his abduction. Beragon bent down to pick the hat up, but the Daughter of the New God ordered him to leave them. He kept walking. The new God was here, and yet, he found that he still had so many doubts. He couldn't understand it.

 

- LORD TIME Divided into thirteen chapters, each with it's own link. CHAPTER BY CHAPTER - LT1 LT2  LT3 LT4 LT5    LT6   LT7  LT8    LT9      LT10    LT11   LT12 LT12b LT13

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