The Buccaneer Chronicles:
Dreaming on the Spires of Immortality
By Andy Simpkins (despite interference by Keith Dunn, Karen Dunn, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
“Digging in the dirt, to find the places we got hurt...”
Darkness surrounded Macfadyan, pitch black and impenetrable; in the infinite distance there is one pinprick of light.
There was a rapid sense of movement and the spot of light, whether it is getting larger or he is moving towards it and he is whipped out of the end of the tunnel into another dream-like scenario.
All is dark, quiet and still. A single spotlight illuminates a stone-flagged floor that is bare of all furniture or ornamentation. Kneeling in the spotlight is a priest or a monk; he is deep in prayer or supplication, murmuring quietly to himself. No features can be seen as the hood of his cassock is pulled up over his head.
Circling him in a predatory manner are two women. They are both attractive, although in different ways. One is wearing a red evening dress with long lush black hair; her lips are painted the same colour as her dress. The other is dressed in a man’s business suit, one size too big, her dark hair is cut in to a short bob style her lips painted ruby almost black
“I know you have prior claim but this insect put me through suffering”.
The woman in the suit looked up at that:
“My claim is only tenuous the agreement was fostered upon me. Do you think I would willingly agree to use such inferior material?”
“You can have him when I have finished with him.”
“Take your time. All I want is this!”
The woman in the suit reached out her hand and plunged it in to the monks back, who then gasped. The sound of a man in intense pain. With her other hand she reached into her inner jacket pocket and pulled out a small clear plastic container, which she placed in the air next to her. She then drew her hand out of the monks back. It was holding a glowing white ball. The ball was still connected to the monk by feebly glowing tendrils. She then took out what looked like small eyebrow tweezers and started prising small golden glowing threads from the orb and placed them in the container.
After she finished, she let go of the orb, which snapped back into the monk, who slumped, either unconscious or dead, to the ground.
Scooping up the container, she turned back to the woman in the red dress and said:
” All yours." she said, clearly dismissive of the prone body on the ground:
" I shall give this to a more deserving subject." she scornfully continued
She then turned around and slowly walked out of the pool of light.
The woman in red turned to the monk, her form already distorting
“At last, at last...”
The scenery sifted, warped and flowed and then stabilised.
The school was abandoned; decay had begun to nibble at the edges. Data plaques were scatted around, desks over turned, screens cracked. Dust motes floated suspended in the sunbeams that streamed in from the lush landscape outside.
On the blackboard, there was scrawled the words in childish handwriting: ‘who shall suffer for the little children ‘. Shapes, nebulous, vague and somehow threatening could be seen gliding around through the windows.
Macfadyan could hear children singing, ignoring the desolation around him, he headed straight for the source.
He walked round the corner into the reception area. Ahead of him were four girls dressed in Victorian pinafores. Three of them were playing a skipping game. The fourth was holding a crystal sphere with landmasses embossed on the surface, it glows softly, illuminating the girls face with a pale luminescence. Oblivious to Macfadyan's presence, all of them are singing a disturbing nursery rhyme
"Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today, I truly wish he would go away
How many people did he take?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the watchman, the clock man, the tidy, the sick
Took them to the afterlife quick, quick, quick."
This unnerving scene is split asunder as, suddenly and without warning, the door next to him is kicked flying as a Sontaran of demonic proportions smashes his way into reception. Veins stand out on its head, froth flecks its lips. It charges the girls, firing the carbine at them, intent on their destruction.
The girl merely lifted the sphere, which deflected the beam which spent its energies on a nearby wall. However, all this was a prelude to what happened next.
Without warning, an outside wall exploded into brick dust and debris, as a cadre of Daleks poured through the hole. Their blasters firing indiscriminately and with their battle-cry of "Exterminate! Exterminate!...", they came through, intent on seeking out life and snuffing it out.
The blast knocked the girl forward, dropping the sphere. She looks up at Macfadyan in horror as the sphere slowly tumbles to the floor and shatters into thousands of pieces. Releasing a fierce white light. It reduces the girls to ash statues, it blows the meat and skin off the Sontaran, reducing it to a gore-covered skeleton before it to is crumbled to powder. The Daleks are boiled down to oozing slurry. Outside, emitting a thunderous rumble as it approaches, there is a moving distortion wave as high as the sky. Smashing its way through the sculptured landscape, impressed on to it is the image of a face…
At that moment Macfadyan woke up......
Upon regaining consciousness, he found that he and the others had been escorted, or in his case, carried to the council chambers under armed guard. The proctor-captains were taking no chances with Colin following their previous brush with him and had their weapons drawn and pointing at him at all times. Following the revelation as to what this place was, the council, standing to one side of the chambers, were huddled together in deep conversation, as though they were deliberating as to what to do with the party.
"It wouldn't surprise me if they decided to throw us out the airlock, so to speak." said Colin, his voice heavy with gallows humour.
"We know too much and they are deciding what manner of execution would be most appropriate for us. Give me a quick soldiers death any day, as opposed to explosive decompression...."
Blanche shuddered inwardly. To die in the airless vacuum of interstellar space was something she had a deep-seated fear of. Your blood would boil and your eyeballs would expand and burst due to the lack of pressure and all the blood vessels in your lungs would rupture as scarlet icicles erupted from your mouth and nose as the scream of fear and agony that you had intended to emit would rapidly die and literally freeze on your lips....
Cre'at was also concerned. Even though he was impervious to extremes of heat, cold and pressure, being adrift in the cold wastes between the stars was not something he relished. He had no frame of reference, either spacially or temporally, in E-space and no way of getting back to the home universe. Even powering his internal systems down to their bare minimum, there was no way he could maintain functioning for what could be countless millennia, drifting through the depths of interstellar space before, through a miraculous twist of fate, he was picked up by a passing ship.
There they stood, each one wrapped up in his, her or its thoughts. Macfadyan shifted slightly as he straightened himself up in order to sit up. He found he had been reclining on a sumptuously padded leather chaise-longue.
"Where have I seen this before?....".he idly thought in passing.
The fleeting mental image of a barren and airless landscape was rapidly forgotten about as he turned to more immediate and pressing concerns.
Gingerly sitting up, he turned to look at his friends.
Colin was standing there, his countenance grimmer than usual as he held Blanche to him in a fatherly embrace. The girl had her face buried in his chest and Macfadyan suspected that she was weeping at their impending fate. Cre'at hovered off to one side. As was to be expected, the Sot'm's face was expressionless but he could sense that the mechanoid was deeply troubled.
All of a sudden, the tense air of expectation was shattered as, as one, the council turned and made their way over to where the party was stood.
Taarl, a look of intense deliberation on his face, shuffled to a halt before them.
His voice hoarse, Macfadyan stood in front of Curtis and Blanche, who was rubbing reddened eyes and tear-stained cheeks in an attempt to be brave. Cre'at's internal systems merely hummed slightly louder as he prepared himself for passing of judgement.
"Whatever fate you have decided for us, believe me, we shall not go down without a fight. We are not frightened by whatever you have planned for us...."His voice and bluster was choked off as something that Taarl did chilled him to his marrow.
After an eternity set in impassive lines, a rictus grin that was the closest approximation to a smile that he could muster, slowly crossed the haggard face of the council member.
It was then that Taarl simply said:
"Oh no, we have something far better lined up for you...."