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)
“Breaking it off... Shaking it off... Our secret world...”
What happened next completely dumbfounded the Time Lord and his party.
Laying a trembling hand on Macfadyan's shoulder and patting it gently, Taarl said:
“I do believe we have the capacity to help you, Macfadyan” said Taarl, as the other members of the council fanned out into a semi-circle behind him. As one mind and body, they closed their eyes and started breathing deeply and chanting softly to themselves in order to summon up reserves of inner strength, to what purpose Macfadyan could not define.
“One power our people have is the ability to delve deep within ones memories and what makes a person who he is. You have grief, guilt, rage and a host of other feelings buried deep within you. They are like a man underground, cut off from any access to the surface that they start to choke and writhe from lack of air as they try to claw their way out. Let us take this guilt away from you...
“I do not have any guilty...” began Macfadyan but Taarl grabbed hold of Macfadyan's face in both his hands and stared deep into his eyes....
And the mental hammerblow struck....
He mentally reeled at the force of the blow and felt like a man who was drowning in icy water as he took a shuddering, gasping breath as he thrashed wildly at the surface. No matter how he tried, he could not break free as his suppressed emotions dragged him down into the deep, dark water of his subconscious. Overhead, the sunlight of his consciousness; a flicker of light, was gradually fading into the gloom as he was pulled downwards, his chest burning for the surface and the air that could fill his lungs.
CATHARCEROUS!! A booming voice echoed in his ears
He watched, as a disembodied entity, as the lush and verdant planet below him cracked and rippled as the released energies of the device he had planted broke through. Magma from the planets core was hurled into space as the planet was slowly and to his eyes, almost gracefully destroyed. The wholesale destruction of thousands of Daleks and of innocent humanoids unrolled, as though on an old 20th century Earth filmstrip. The crust of the planet seemed to open up in slow motion as the explosive device that he had planted released its frightful energy. Ripples in the planetary surface undulated slowly out from the point of ignition and raced across its surface. Huge cracks in the planetary crust, streaming out light in all directions, inched their way across continents and huge clouds of super-heated steam billowed as the oceans of Catharcerous came into contact with the magma that flowed beneath.
This was inexorably followed as the oceans boiled off into space and the entire planet was as a dully glowing ball, suspended in space. Like a flower coming into bloom, the culmination of the chain reaction happened .Just as matter and anti-matter cancel each other out catastrophically when they come into contact, the planet was split asunder in a slow motion ballet of annihilation. Vast chunks of planetary crust whipped by him in all directions as the bare glowing heart of the planet was exposed to the rapidly dispersing echo of a planetary atmosphere, only to be cooled as it was exposed to the hard vacuum of space.....
The collective screams of millions of voices as they faced death was mirrored by the guttural howling of Macfadyan as the raw, open wound on his soul the was Catharcerous was laid bare and open to inspection for all to see.
“CATHARCEROUS!!” In Jerusalem, the time portal, in a silent explosion of light, opened and an army of Sontarans poured through, to be met by the crackling of rifles, mortars and small-arms fire from the UNIT troops who faced them. Soon, the dry sandy earth of Jerusalem was stained by the blood of those who fought. All around, he could see burning vehicles, the smoke-filled night sky and the various grunts and curses of humans and Sontarans locked in the grim and deadly dance of hand-to-hand combat, their faces locked in feral snarls as they sought each others extinction and all to soon, the sand that prophets, seers, wisemen and the common populace of the Middle East that had trod upon it, was stained with the blood of two bitterly opposed forces.
Macfadyan felt his body start to spin uncontrollably as he was caught in a whirlpool of rage, anger and all-consuming guilt and shame. Mentally dislocated and out of control in the dark waters, a bubbling scream escaped his lips as finally, realisation struck....
“CATHARCEROUS!!” On and on he fell, through the whirling maelstrom of his guilt. There he was on the Channel island of Jersey as the primal fury that was the spirit of a Neolithic burial mound wreaked its insensate fury on the inhabitants of the island. There he stood and watched as a medieval knight, resplendent in shining armour on horseback, rode through the cavernous hold of a space transport, broadsword whirling through the air as he cut a swathe through all those who had dared invade his realm....
The Sisterhood of Karn, stern, patrician and forbidding. Their faces illuminated by flickering torches as they passed their judgement on him....
Times Curse, Deaths Champion.....
“BLANCHE!!” He cried out. The young and streetwise Victorian urchin that he had plucked from her timeframe, who had accompanied him on so many of his travels, who had died, and had been reborn, at his whim, so many times due to his folly....
He broke the surface and drew an almighty gasp as he felt the air rush into his lungs.....
He was curled in a foetal ball on the floor of the council chamber. He slowly opened his eyes to see the lined, aged and haggard faces of the council looking down at him, concern etched deep on their faces.
“How do you feel, friend?” said Taarl, as he crouched down by the prone Time Lord, his lined and aged face was set in an expression of friendly concern.
“What have you done to me?” said Macfadyan, a look of horrified awe on his face, ” You delved deep within my psyche to remove something that I thought had been buried forever beyond my reach. Something which I could only touch during fragmented dreams and nightmares. Do you mean to say that you have expunged guilt that I felt over the destruction of Catharcerous.”
Seeing that there was no damage to Macfadyan, Taarl smiled to himself and said:
” In a manner of speaking, I do believe I have. The sorrow you felt was buried at such a deep level as you unconsciously made efforts to bury it deeper, it was in danger of leaving such an indelible impression on your soul, it would have been too risky to remove it without lasting damage. I do believe that I have been successful.” Taarl said, allowing a small smile of satisfaction to cross his haggard features.
“Remember, Macfadyan, the experiences we endure in life, both good and bad, shape us as a person and define who and what we are. The enormity of what you did, even though it was performed in the ultimate good, could not be allowed to stain your soul. Yes, those people were sacrificed to cleanse the world of Daleks, but you cannot allow that to become as a millstone around your neck."
Shaking hands reached out to help Macfadyan stand. Still giddy and light-headed from what he had just been through, he looked imploringly at the council members.
"What you have done is more is what than I can ever repay you. You have expunged something from me that would have continued to eat away at me until I was just a shell of what I once was..."
Taarl raised a hand to silence him.
"Your gratitude is appreciated but you have repaid us a thousand fold, although you can never know why. With all this energy at our disposal, we are free to do what we want. If we so wished, we could raise this simulacrum of a city from the ashes of what it currently is. It could be the dawn of a new Golden Age... As a new sun fills the sky..."
Tittering inwardly at that last remark, he turned to the other members to see that they all had the same look of expectation and anticipation on their haggard faces.
A cloud passed momentarily over Macfadyan's face, as though they had told a joke that only the council could understand and that he wasn't privy to.
Looking stronger than they had seen him in the last few days, Taarl gestured at the group and said:
"But please, do not let us delay you any longer. By way of a parting gesture, we have input onto your TARDIS' central memory cortex, spacio-temporal instructions and directions in order for you to reach escape velocity to clear E-space and return to your home dimension."
Macfadyan was flabbergasted. Clearly he was in the presence of superior technology and minds immeasurably older and wiser than his own. His home civilisation on Gallifrey had held sway over the corridors of time for nigh on a million years but to them, passage between dimensions was a venture fraught with danger and uncertainty. If the council and Gallifrey had shared the same space, would they be friends or something else? A cross-fertilisation of ideas could result in a New Golden Age for the galaxy, ripe with exploration and all manner of possibilities, free from poverty and the threat of conflict. Or it could be the start of a dangerous, downwards spiral into galactic and temporal war.....