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)
“All turned quiet, I've been here before...”
Stretched out in front of them was an immense hall, teeming with people of all races and what looked like all times in this places history. A man wearing a neo-grecian robe would be handing a data plaque to a stone-age Neanderthal or a contemporary of Curtis', wearing a khaki coloured military-style jumpsuit, covered in pockets and emblazoned with mission stripes and embroidered patches depicting planets and galaxies with would be writing something down on a chart. Rank upon rank of benches with people working away at a multitude of calculation devices filled the hall and and went off into the far distance. Here, a woman wearing elegant Elizabethan clothing would be sliding beads backwards and forwards on an abacus frame, there a dark-skinned negroid would be typing mathematical equations into a supercomputer mainframe. Off to one side, a group of Asiatic-featured men and women were punching keys on old-style adding machines and an Amerindian woman, clad in cured animal skins and moccasins, with a papoose on her back, keyed integers into a pocket calculator. All around, in this throng of these seemingly thousands of people, there was the clattering of fingers on keyboards, the feeding of punch-tape into old computers and the flicking back and forth of abacuses but something seemed very unnerving and out of place.
You would expect in any office or place of work, to hear the muted but steady hum of Humanity; the idle chit-chat, grumbles and petty arguments that punctuated a normal day in the office. The flicking of paper darts, throwing of crumpled balls of paper at each other, the covert but lecherous ogling of attractive female members of staff. However, there was none of that. Each one of the thousands of men and women in that place neither spoke to themselves or to each other, let their eyes wander from their alloted task or indulged in any kind of interaction other than what was necessary. It was as though everyone was focussed on their task with a singlemindedness that bordered on the obsessive.
It was then that realisation struck Macfadyan.
"No wonder I've been having all theses feelings of deja-vu and a sense of this place being very familiar! Why, this whole place is nothing but a Block Transfer Computation Complex!!"
With that, he started laughing out loud and with joy. With his arms spread out wide, he turned a slow pirouette as he looked around him in delight and awe....
"Woss a Bulk Commuttion Conplex and wot does it do?" said Blanche, her brows knitting together in puzzlement.
After a moments consideration as she could barely get her head around the notion of such, Nicola said:
Let's look at an analogy, if you will. Just as the smallest atoms combine to make compounds, which go onto make molecules which go onto make the chemicals and minerals that make up our bodies. Numbers can be used in pretty much the same manner. Just as one plus one can make two, two plus two equals four, the sums and mathematics of numbers can be made so complex and labyrinthine that the whole fabric of reality can be bent to our will simply by using the right sum. The walls of The Buccaneers TARDIS have been constructed using such formulae and they are impervious to anything that the universe can throw at it."
"Oh, I get it now. I always thought 'e was talking gibberish sometimes when he was hunched over the console but 'e was just usin' the right equations, I am right in sayin' that?" Blanche hesitantly said. She may have come from a simpler time, temporally speaking but if something was explained to her, she grasped the concept or notion of it almost immediately.
"You are so right, child!" said Macfadyan, still intoxicated by his surroundings
"I have been told about places like this when I was studying at The Academy on Gallifrey. The one that everyone was used to talk about, albeit in very hushed whispers, was a place in the home universe called Logopolis. They are a friendly enough bunch there, very much given over to their work and would give a hand to anyone who happened to end up there but given the chance, they would gladly follow a life of solitude in order to pursue their studies..It was widely rumoured that one of my kind went there, shortly before he underwent a traumatic regeneration whilst battling an old foe..."
He would have continued with his explanation if it hadn't been for an almost imperceivable dimming of the lights in the hall and the background hum, ever present in mechanised environments, slowing down.
It was if a switch had been thrown somewhere. As one, the thousands of workers in the hall finished whatever calculations they were doing, put down the tools of their trade and straightened up and sat back in their seats with their hands resting on their knees. The almost palpable air of working and concentrating abated like the ebbing of a wave on a beach and then, there was simply nothing except a sea of faces, each with the same placid semi-smile on their faces, staring blankly into the distance.
Looking at all the ranks of mathematicians calmly seated behind their benches, all with the peaceful look of a job well done, Curtis said:
"To look at all this lot, you would think they were drugged, as though they were on amphetamines, for them to constantly keep working at such a pace and then to stop suddenly..."
"I think you'll find that the people who are labouring here are nothing but mindless drones...." said Macfadyan
Walking over to one of the seated figures, an elderly man with a white beard and wearing a simple blue robe out the bottom of which poked sandalled feet, Macfadyan waved a hand in front of his face. Upon getting no reaction, he prodded him with a finger. The man rocked in his seat slightly but offered no other reaction.
"As you can see, " Macfadyan said. They are like the other people, both on the surface in the city and down here and probably in other parts of this place as well. The whole concept that this place is somewhat akin to being some sort of facsimile of life or something yet that I cannot explain grows ever stronger. I am close to an answer. They are somewhat akin to automata, and yet given some sort of autonomy in what they do. This is a prime example of what I am talking about. People from all backgrounds, times and races, all working for a common goal and yet with barely any individuality or recognition of what is going on around them. They have been granted a certain amount of individuality in order, should a complex mathematical puzzle come along, to solve that before returning to the mindless rote and drudge of what they normally do here, namely bulk and repetitive computations...."
With his face suddenly set in a look of steely determination. Macfadyan turned and started for the entrance to the hall.
"Right! This time we all go back and confront the council with what we have found. The need for subterfuge is past and now we want some answers!"
Galvanised by what Macfadyan had said and for a need to see the mystery of this place dispelled, they all made their way towards the chambers exit, leaving behind the masses of people who still sat there, impassive and unmoving. They would have made it all the way back to the council chambers if it hadn't been for the septet of stern-faced men and women who had literally appeared from nowhere and were blocking their way...