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)
“Looking down on empty streets... All of the buildings, all of the cars were once just a dream in somebody's head...”
Through an almost unending maze of dimly lit corridors, they were guided by the proctor-captains of the city guard to an as yet unknown destination. The corridors were Spartan in decoration with only dimly glowing hemispheres set into the walls just above head height, giving off a wan green illumination, as though they were all in a thick forest or underwater. Stopping before a large set of double doors, the lead Proctor captain banged on it with the haft of his tube-like weapon. After a moment, the doors slowly creaked inwards...
"Like a haunted house scenario. All we need now is some lightning and a hunch-backed butler to bid us all welcome but tell us that his master his having one of his... affairs."
Blanche snickered under her breath and hopped a little to the right while Curtis took a small step to the left and then cast an amused and almost avuncular glance at her. The guard hefted his weapon threateningly at them both but otherwise did nothing else Macfadyan favoured them both with a sour look but otherwise kept his thoughts to himself.
At the end of the hall was a raised platform with a large and imposing bench on it, seated behind which were what the party assumed to be the council of this place.
Straightening himself up and looking his most haughty, Macfadyan, as the unelected spokesman for their group, took a few steps forward and he and the council appraised each other carefully and with great interest for a few moments.
"Old..old men..." thought Macfadyan."They carry their lifetimes like someone carries a heavy load..."
It was true. Seven men faced Macfadyan. Their faces lined and creased with the passage of innumerable years. Deep-set rheumy eyes looked out from underneath wrinkled brows at the young upstart who dared to invade their private heaven...or hell. Their hair was just a faint white mist framing their heads and their backs and bodies in general were bent and twisted like the trunk of a gnarled old tree. Clad in simple white robes and sandals, they regarded the party standing in front of them with a calm interest borne of many years of existence. Unspeaking and motionless, the impasse would have continued indefinitely if it had not been for the ire building up inside Macfadyan. Bristling with indignation, he began:
"Right, I demand an apology for this unwarranted detaining of my party...After all, we were just investigating an unprovoked assault on one of your citizens and we are arrested for no apparent...." blustered Macfadyan
Unfazed by his tirade, one of the council members got shakily to his feet and raised a trembling hand to silence Macfadyan.
His voice a sibilant whisper and yet amplified by the acoustics of the hall, the council leader spoke.
"We can only apologise for the clumsy and heavy-handed way you have been treated and the manner in which you have been brought before us. Our proctor captains are not known for their subtlety but they are a necessary evil in this place and at this time. We saw you coming from afar and our curiosity was piqued by yourselves and the conveyance you all travel in. You are so like us and yet so different and we wanted to have an audience with you...."
"We have studied you since you all first appeared and we are intrigued by you all. Your technology, alien and yet so similar to ours speaks of a race that we can sit and converse with as equals..."
Macfadyan looked at them askew. During his travels, he was very suspicious of fond welcomes and this did nothing to allay his fears. For all their seeming benevolence, he was yet to trust them.
"I am heartened that you welcome us, albeit at the point of a gun, to your city. My TARDIS has a mind of its own and would never knowingly deposit us in a place and time without a very good reason. I have come to know 'her', if you will excuse the anthropomorphism, and I suspect you have some ulterior motive for us being called into your presence..."
The ancient bowed his head in acknowledgement.
"You are indeed a man to be reckoned with. But please allow me to introduce myself. "He raised a shaking hand to his chest.
"I am Taarl, leader of the Group Of Seven and I suppose I could be called the nominal leader of this council. When we need to make a decision, it has to be made by majority rule but I suppose every organisation needs a public face and I am it..."
He smiled faintly at this remark and slumped back down in his seat, even fatigued by this simple action.
"You are indeed prescient in why you are here. We do need your help and we do believe that you have the tools and the technology to help us."
He leaned forward in his seat and gazed at Macfadyan with an earnest look on his lined visage.
"This city has been in existence for many millennia. Serving us and its people, sheltering us from the elements, but now, like us, it is showing its age and is faltering and even failing in some respects. Due to our isolation, both spacially and politically, we cannot look to any of the so-called civilised worlds in our vicinity and, to us, it seemed like Providence smiled upon us when your ship appeared in our neighbourhood. This city cannot last for much longer as it is beginning to suffer from a catastrophic loss of power and it is only days away from total loss of power. Can you imagine what that means. Our populace, already cowed and frightened, would lose control entirely. All law would collapse and this place would descend into an orgy of fear, pillaging, rapine and hysterical behaviour.
"Our carefully structured society would collapse like a house of cards, shortly followed by the ultimate destruction of this entire city!"
Macfadyan was taken aback at the sincerity of Taarl's statement but he still had an uncertain scowl on his face
"If it is true what you say, then why can't you go to one of the nearby worlds and ask for their help. I am sure they would be able to help you."
"That is very true but this city has been around for longer than you can imagine. To be honest, this city is held in awe by our neighbouring systems and due to this, they hold us in an almost superstitious regard, not of our making, I hasten to add, and are reluctant to approach us. That is why we are self-supporting and self-sufficient..." Taarl said, a look of mild distaste crossing his face.
"We are victims of our own publicity, it would seem..."
The frown that creased his already aged featured lightened slightly and he turned to look at the four travellers in front of him.
"I forget myself. You are honoured guests here and should be treated as such. Quarters have been prepared for you and you must be tired after your long journey. Please allow our proctor-captains to escort you there. We would very much like you to get some rest as we would be very interested in conversing with you all further...."
Stepping aside and waving a palsied hand in the direction on the double doors, Taarl and the other council members stepped aside so they could leave.
As they were escorted out by the burly and uncommunicative proctor-captains, Macfadyan cast a glance over his shoulder. Through the closing crack in the door, he could see the council huddled around in a circle, talking amongst themselves and casting covert glances at the departing party.
It was hard to tell but he could have sworn that Taarl had said to his colleagues in whispered tones:
"Yes, he is the one. He will help us with The Cause..."