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)
“I'm hearing right and wrong so clearly, there must be more than this...”
Walking back out into the main hall, Taarl and the rest of the council members stopped and turned to look at Macfadyan enquiringly.
"You want to know the reason for this place, then come here so we may show you..."
Drawing a heavy sigh, Macfadyan gently lay Nicola down on the floor and pulled his fingertips over her face to close her eyes and allow her some serenity in death. Standing up, he took his coat off and laid it out on top of her.
With a final parting glance in her direction, he walked over to where the council stood, he then said:
"I have already come to the assumption that this place is a Block Transfer Computation complex. What is its reason for being here and why are you presiding over all of this."
"You are very right in saying that, Macfadyan." said Taarl, with an earnest look on his face. "Please allow me to explain some of the history of this great place to you and your party...." he said imploringly
"Then you will begin to understand...".Gathering his thoughts for a few moments, Taarl continued.
"Untold thousands of years ago, our race was already old, by your standards and were a race of great thinkers and devoted to knowledge and the sciences. We have heard of your space-time and have had knowledge of it for may thousands of years due to a few ships like your own falling, either through design or accident, through the curtain that separates our realities. One such ship, unable to get back to your space-time made this place their home. Eager to have a mutual exchange of knowledge with the beings who crewed this ship, a race very much like yourselves and my race, members of the council made first contact with the crew of the ship. It would seem that humanoid life is the dominant sentience in whatever reality is spoken of. One piece of knowledge they imparted to us was the theory of Block Transfer Computation; the manipulation of numbers and equations in order to bend the stuff of reality to our bidding!"
"This created quite a stir with our race as we thought ourselves masters of astro-engineering. On many of our worlds can be seen the fruits of our labours; orbiting space stations and space bound telescopes to peer into the furthers reaches of our universe. Geosynchronous tethers, orbital towers and space elevators many thousands of miles high, ready to lift men and materials from the ground up into space. One of our crowning achievements was what you call a Dyson Sphere around a stellar neighbour of ours, many thousands of miles in diameter, we thought this was the culmination of our handiwork. That was until they imparted on us the knowledge to change the very fabric of reality with literally just the right sum!"
"One thing you must realise is that we are a very long-lived race. We, the council, cannot die by any...natural...means so to all intents and purpose, we, the last of our race are to all intents and purposes, immortal by any normal beings standards. When we first started our experiments with Block Transfer computation, much of E-space, as you call it, was unformed chaos, filled with ghostly phantoms of stars and nebulae. It took us many years before we perfected our techniques and the result is what you scanned on your way here, a pocket universe filled with life and sentience. That is why the surrounding worlds hold us in such awe. They regard this world as Holy Ground and would dare not defile it. It is both a blessing and a curse to us..." Taarl sighed wearily
"We value our isolation and yet we would dearly love to walk among the younger races and share our knowledge with them but to do that, they would regard us as gods and think that we demand obedience and their fealty. That is the last thing we crave...."
"So what happened to all the fruits of your labours and where are the rest of your race, and what of the simulacra of life that we saw in the streets and in the Computation Complex?" demanded Macfadyan.
"Even such structures as we have described can only last so long before they crumble and collapse into dissolution. As we have said previously, ours is a long-lived race but even we have to die at some time. Our descendants still live on many worlds but we, the Originators, have all passed over until it is us seven who remain, kept alive by increasingly artificial means in order to keep the Great Scheme going until its fruition. If it wasn't for this, we would have gone into the darkness long ago..."
"And what is the Great Scheme you have just told us about?" said Curtis
"I believe you have just seen the culmination of it in the Great Hall...It was the final computations necessary to make what you call E-Space an independent, self-regulating entity, controlling itself without need for this facility to tend to its functions. Order will prevail where Entropy once reigned!"
"But what of this city and its inhabitants?I have had this feeling that they are either projections or simulacra capable of limited thought. Why would you inhabit a city with such...spectres?" said Macfadyan.
"A very valid question you ask. We knew that our time was limited once the Great Scheme had entered its final phases and our thoughts turned to what would happen once it was completed. Any original members of our race who inhabited this city had long since gone over to the darkness and we were left with an empty city and no-one to inhabit it. Since death is viewed with fear and horror by all sentient races that we have encountered, we decided to run an experiment. You are correct in saying that the people you see are nothing but tactile holograms programmed with limited autonomy. During our studies, we found that death was as much a motivating factor in their lives as eating, sleeping, working or procreation. We are fascinated by death and the concept that ones physical form has to terminate at some time. We feel that more and more and wished to study that in greater detail. That is why we devised the concept that their nemesis was akin to a predator stalking them, to heighten their senses and, strangely, making them feel more alive while living in the knowledge that their life could be snuffed out in an instant. That is why we introduced a random element into the mix, in the form of the serial killer that Captain Curtis so valiantly pursued that evening. I am afraid to say he was chasing nothing but smoke and mirrors that time, to coin a phrase...." Taarl said with a heavy hint of irony in his voice.
Curtis glowered at the council but otherwise said nothing.
"As for the assembled beings you saw down in the Great Hall, they too are they same. However, in order to get the best possible outcome for our final computations, we unanimously decided to include all indigenous races from our planets past into the final calculations. Each one of the beings you saw in there has so much to offer. You may think that an aborigine from a remote part of our planet or a woman of genteel breeding from a period only a few centuries past may have little to offer but you are wrong. Each one of them has a vital part in playing in order to bring their memories and their experiences they have lived through, their history, upbringing, the mores and heritage they have accumulated during their life times adds something immeasurable to the final computation. They may be projections but the original template they were based upon lives on through them and in that respect, their forebears are truly immortal."
"And what of the discomfort that Blanche felt a few nights back? What was that caused by?"
"Your ward is a lot more sensitive to electro-magnetic disturbances above and below the normal range of human experience than you realise, Macfadyan. It is very true that what she felt that evening was like a wave rolling out over the city. At ever-increasing periods, the facsimile that is the population of this city have to have the engrams that make up their appearance and personalities renewed. Like all data in a failing computer system, it is prone to corruption and we have to update the software, to use a layman's terms. The data that made up every person in this city was becoming more and more scrambled and it got to the extent that our simulations outer appearance were shifting and changing. The person you saw in the hospital that night was indeed the person you saved from the killer but the programme governing his external appearance was malfunctioning due to the city's dwindling power. That is why you were summoned to us, Macfadyan. You had the technical know-how to shore up this citys power reserves indefinitely."
Taarl hung his head and murmured:
"It is true that we lured you here on a falsehood but would you have helped us if we had asked you truthfully?"
"I don't know. If you had been honest with me from the outset then things may have been different. The whole concept with which this city has embraced trying to find out what death and mortality is, to me, somewhat disturbing..."
"Speaking of death, what are we to do with your young friend there?" Taarl said, looking in the direction of Nicola's body."Once you are ready to leave, you may take it back to your vessel to do as you see fit with it."
It was though a dark ripple began to form in the back of Macfadyan's mind.
"Those bastards killed her without compunction and on the most flimsiest of excuses. Their minds, poisoned by pious gibberish, deemed her a law-breaker and they had to punish her according to their convoluted sense of religious honour! That scum confront me and dare dictate to me about how I travel through time. My reasons are entirely altristic, even though my methods have been questioned in the past, I believe that I have acted for the greater good of things..."
The black ripple became a wave and started for the distant shore.....
"All throughout time, there have been forces and beings that simply should not have been come into being. Things that are aberrations of nature and go against the very things that existence hold dear. Creatures that would revel in chaos and destruction, misery, pain and suffering! By rights, these things should not exist but they do. A mockery of creation that should not be!!"
A distant roaring began in Macfadyan's mind as the black wave grew bigger as it came nearer.
"Ever since I came into being and left the Academy, I knew my life was not ruled by the stratified, studious and above all, stilted existence on Gallifrey. I knew I had to get out there and make a difference. So many thousands of years of absolute ascendancy over the corridors of time and all my society had to show for it was stagnation and apathy!! Those...men.." he spat the word out as though it was bile in his mouth
"They had the effrontery to confront me and kill a companion of mine in cold blood. For that, they will know my anger. I will hunt them down and I will smite them...and...an..an..."He hysterically ranted
Blanche shrieked in alarm as she saw Macfadyan raspingly exhale and his eyes roll back in his head. As though he was a marionette with all its strings cut suddenly, he fell to the floor and lay there moaning in anguish and twitching feebly.
It was then that the black wave of anger, rage, grief, despair and other negative emotions rose up as a tidal wave, came to a peak and then rolled over him, engulfed him and that was all that Macfadyan knew for a while as he fell into the darkness.....