Like battery acid through wallpaper, reality around the Chaos Engine began to decay. Even though the Engine was decaying, it remained out sync with the rest of universe, therefore was not detected by the newly crowned Lords of Time. The higher dimensions began to strain under the pressure.
Time began to strain the bonds of the Chaos Engine. A loud hum echoed around the Chaos Chamber as Koschei darted around the frozen Tempest Knights, reactivating control screens and bringing the Chaos Chamber back online. From the pyramid shaped TARDIS burst the Doctor carrying a long grey power cord.
He sprinted to the Chao Engine's time rotor. The Doctor plugged the cord into a module at the foot of the column. As a result the Time Rotor began to glow blue, using the inrush of energy to heal itself. The crystals began the reform and become whole. Koschei growled in frustration as he began to hurriedly reassemble a broken control screen.
"Doctor, I need a laser spanner" demanded Koschei!
The Doctor stopped his work with the column and dug through the pockets of his frock coat. Koschei waited impatiently as the Doctor pulled out two books, a feather quill, a Venusian yo-yo and a bright yellow rubber ducky.
"Why you ever invented transcendental pockets Doctor, I will never know. There more useless than those everlasting matches you invented back in our academy days" complained Koschei.
Looking up from his searching, the Doctor scowled at Koschei.
"Hrmm transcendental pockets are brilliant invention. It allows me to carry all my essential equipment" huffed the Doctor.
Koschei picked up the fallen rubber ducky and brandished it at the Doctor.
"Oh really, this is essential" retorted Koschei, sarcastically.
The Doctor snatched the rubber ducky from Koschei hand.
"It is an Earth tool used for bath time. I haven't quite worked out what it does yet" said the Doctor.
A loud scrapping of metal as matter itself began to rend around the Chaos Engine. Koschei stared at the roof of chamber with a look of absolute fear on his face.
"That was the time/space stabiliser! The Chaos Engine is on the point of collapse and the rest of time with it. We cannot delay here any longer" screamed Koschei.
The Doctor reached into his pocket, pulling out his pen knife and shoved it into Koschei hand.
"That will have to do, now hurry Koschei" demanded the Doctor!
Without further ado, Koschei sprinted towards the control screens. With great difficulty, Koschei managed to restart the Chaos Engine using nothing but a primitive pen knife. Lights flickered on and the newly repaired crystal time rotor shone with bright blue light. Koschei came up beside the Doctor with a resigned look on his face.
"It is time".
The Doctor stared at the Time Rotor, taking deep breaths and in his mind was beginning to question the merits of jumping into the crystal column. Before panic could overwhelm him, the Doctor remembered the echoes of his future selves.
All those remarkable men who were willing to give their lives for the greater good of all; if they were willing to do it than he had a responsibility to do the same. Reciting the immortal words of the bow tie wearing beanpole, the Doctor yelled; 'GERONIMO!'
He leapt into the column. The Time Rotor accepted the Doctor's body with loving arms and absorbed him into its crystalline structure. Binding him at the centre, the Engine began to reverse into the tracks of time.
Loud grinding sound filled the Chaos Chamber, shaking the floor and cracking the walls. Koschei collapsed to the floor, grasping onto the nearest handhold for dear life as the Chaos Engine began its ascent back through time. Inside the Time Rotor, the Doctor wriggled and writhed in sheer agony.
The Doctor could feel his life essence drain as the Rotor used him to reach the destination in time. The agony of having all the life drained out of him forced the Doctor deeper into his mind; using the tricks Borusa had taught him to avoid pain. The Doctor may have just passed his six dimensional mathematics course but had excelled at his mind training.
It felt like ages until the whirling of the Chaos Engine faulted to a stop as it reached its final destination. The Engine materialized over the orange skies of Gallifrey, right over the towering Citadel. It hovered next to another Chaos Engine; an exact facsimile of itself. Inside the chamber, the Doctor was released from the Time Rotor.
He staggered out from the crystal column and collapsed. Koschei rose to his feet, all battered and bruised from his journey in the Chaos Chamber. He ran over to the Doctor and kneeled down beside him. The Doctor was in a bad way. His body had been physically aged until it looked about fifty and his usual black hair had turned white. Koschei was relieved when the Doctor took a gasp of breath and stared up at him.
"Did it work" croaked the Doctor?
"Yes, you did it Doctor. The Chaos Engine has rematerialized five minutes before the Tempest revolution began" reported Koschei.
The Doctor gave a weak smile.
"Hrmmm, can you feel it. Time itself is shifting. The revolution no longer occurred. Of course we are the exceptions that prove the rule. We are at the heart of the storm so are immune to the shifting timelines" theorised the Doctor.
Koschei was about to reply when an earthquake engulfed the Chamber. Fortunately for the frozen Tempest Knights, the magnetized suits kept still and protected from the shaking Engine.
"What is this" asked Koschei.
The Doctor tried to get to his feet but was too weak, so collapsed to the floor.
"It's the Chaos Engines. They must have made contact with each other! It must be causing the Blinovitch Limitation Effect" croaked the weakened Doctor.
Both Time Lords knew the theory of the Blinovitch Limitation Effect from there Academy education. It was natural function of the Universe and only occurred when an object or person made physical or causal contact with a future or past version of itself.
The effect would vary depending on how big the paradox was. Sometimes there would a small release of energy resulting in a small bang like a firecracker. But sometimes the contact would result in an explosion that is larger than an atomic blast. To the Doctor and Koschei it felt like a build up to a massive explosion.
"Go Koschei! Reverse that teleport unit and get back to the Capitol! Take these ragamuffin knights with you" ordered the Doctor, imperviously.
Fighting his own fear to escape, Koschei shook his head.
"This teleport will only take us and leave you here. I'm not leaving you" said Koschei, nervous.
Koschei was not used to being noble. He'd spent his life scoffing at noble sentiments. But now that it came down to it, Koschei found he was reluctant to abandon the Doctor again.
"No time for useless soppiness Koschei! Get out of here. Stand not on the order of your going" growled the Doctor.
Impulsively, the Doctor reached out to the teleport unit seated on Koschei belt and hit the teleport button. Koschei and the other Tempest Knights evaporated in a flash of white light; leaving the Doctor alone. His strength at low ebb, the Doctor felt a cold tingle go down his back, a symptom of an oncoming healing coma. But the Doctor couldn't afford to fall into a coma.
He needed to get to the TARDIS and off the Chaos Engine before it was blasted into atoms. Using every ounce of his will the Doctor tried to get his ravaged body to back into action. The Doctor had limited success. He managed to rise to his feet but found he only had limited strength. To the Doctor's surprise, he found that he had rheumatism in his legs.
Imagine having rheumatism in his legs at his age wondered the Doctor. He began to hobble as fast as he could towards the open door of the Pyramid shaped TARDIS. Before the Doctor was more than halfway to the TARDIS, a white light suddenly consumed the back wall of the Chaos Chamber. The light was brighter than both the twin suns of Gallifrey and burnt the back of the Doctor's neck.
It began to consume everything in its path. Time was catching up with the Doctor. Feeling the potential explosion on his heels, the Doctor increased the speed of his hobble. The white light began to creep forward, burning through metal like it was butter.
Sweat began to pool around the Doctor's face and rain down on to his clothes. The strain on the Doctor's body was incredible. Even the body of a Time Lord has its limits. It was to the Doctor's relief that he reached the TARDIS entrance and stumbled through. The Doctor practically fell through into the console room and crawled to the main console.
The once green six sided console was now burned, blackened and still smoking. It was barely operationally but the Doctor hoped there was enough power to get him out of here. The burning white light of the explosion was in peril of overtaking the TARDIS.
With a great deal of effort, the Doctor lifted himself onto the main control console and hit the door controls. The main moss covered door smashed shut with a loud bang. Knowing that it wouldn't take long for the explosion to eat through the weakened TARDIS defences, the Doctor looked frantically for the dematerialisation control.
The TARDIS groaned under the pressure of the explosion, as the Doctor looked for the right control. The Doctor spotted a button marked as fast return switch in black block capitals. Working more on instinct than logic, the Doctor smashed his hand on the button and the TARDIS engines began to launch the ship into the vortex.
All the Time Lords in the Citadel could only watch from there observation points and there scanners as a blinding ball of white light blossomed between the two Chaos Engines. The ball absorbed both Engines and they dissipated into nothing before they were forced in a singularity.
With a massive bang, the singularity became a fire work explosion and the white mountainside of Solace and Solitude began to be showered with metal debris. It was like a comet shower as burning metal rained down on the white snow.
The dome of the Capitol protected from all the falling wreckage except a battered pyramid which appeared from time vortex. With a loud crash, the TARDIS punched a hole through the dome and crashed into the Citadel. The Pyramid smashed a rather large hole in the side of the ancient Time Lord citadel. The TARDIS flew into a small courtyard and crashed into a water foundation which caused the ship to come to an abrupt halt. The doors of the Pyramid slid open as a troop of Chancellery guards stormed into the courtyard followed by Borusa and an entourage of Time Lords. Two Chancellery guards braved the smoke filled console room and dragged the coughing Doctor out by his arms to stand in front of Borusa. The weakened Doctor slumped at the feet of Borusa and the other Time Lords. From the crowd of Time Lords behind Borusa, Irving Braxiatel ran out and helped the Doctor to his feet.
"You look a little worse for wear my dear Doctor" commented Braxiatel.
The Doctor snorted indigently.
"Stop fussing Brax. I will be perfectly fine. My body is just stretched a bit thin. Besides Brax, I am much better off than the late Cardinal Zero. The poor fellow is half the man he used to be" said the Doctor, humourlessly.
Borusa gave his ex-pupil a stern look.
"We have Zero and his rebels in our custody. Young Koschei was able to tell us what occurred on the Chaos Engine. What were you thinking? Reversing the Chaos Engine back before it was activated! You've created a paradox right over our heads. Just so all the chaos brought on by the revolution would be averted. It was very irresponsible" scorned Borusa.
"You remember the revolution. I surmised that Chaos Engine deleted those events from history" blurted the Doctor, weakly.
"Of course I remember. We all remember that horrid revolution. Weren't you paying attention during Temporal Physics? Time Lords are unaffected by changes to the timelines. We remember every change" lectured Borusa.
Borusa's tone reminded the Doctor of his Academy days. Of all the times he was sent to Borusa office for one misdeed or another. Borusa would always give the Doctor a rather long winded lectures about duty and responsibly. Not that the Doctor ever listened to his teacher. He would just stare blankly at his teacher until the lecture was over, but not today.
"With all due respect sir but that is rot. It would be more irresponsible for me not to use the Chaos Engine to reverse time. Imagine the untold damage that was done. Half the Capitol was in ruins and countless lives lost. Gallifrey may never have recovered from a loss" countered the Doctor.
Borusa's stern expression seemed to crack under the Doctor's response and a touch of pride seemed to stream through.
"This is why the High Council hasn't decided to lock you up with the rest of the rebels. In fact the High Council wishes to honour your triumph over Zero and his Tempest Knights, after we have dealt with the current crisis of course. The President would have liked to convey his thanks in person but unfortunately even with the change in timelines he is still suffering from a wounded leg" conferred Borusa, with a slight smile.
The Doctor could only manage a sigh of relief in response to this. Although there was something else that was nagging at him. A idea suddenly hit the Doctor that slowly blossomed into burst of hope.
"Hrmmm, what about Artemis. Surely with the changing timelines, she should be alive" asked the Doctor.
Borusa and the surrounding Time Lords all frowned down at the Doctor.
"Artemis? Who is Artemis" questioned Borusa?