"Wait, wait, wait" said Phoebe, interrupting the strangers story.
"So a giant mutant mouse, moving furniture and now medieval Knights looking to conquer time, isn't this a bit unbelievable. This Doctor guy seems like a terrible hero. I mean he can't even save himself. Other people are always coming to his rescue."
The stranger gave a thin version of his charming smile.
"The Doctor is yet to accept the responsibility for his ingenuous promise. By the end of this story the Doctor will have made his stand. Unless of course, you don't want to listen to the rest my tale" asked the Stranger?
That was the last thing Phoebe wanted. The story told so hypnotically by the Stranger and it was the only thing distracting her from the current predicament. The life pod rocked in the alien ocean and the decaying seals were leaking water which dripped down onto the pods occupants. An Inner heater in the pod kept them warm but didn't stop the moisture in the atmosphere from soaking them with water. The Stranger adjusted his embroidered black and gold collar, uncomfortably.
"No, I'm sorry I interrupted. Please continue" asked Phoebe.
"Of course my dear, as you command. Now where was I...oh yes"
The weapons of the three Tempest Knights flared into life. A thirty centimetre long laser blade appeared at the end of each of their metal staffs. They turned their laser spears onto the Doctor.
The closest Tempest Knight tried to stab there spear into him but the Doctor jumped backwards, accidentally tripping and falling onto the table behind him, missing the oncoming blade by inches.
A second Knight came from the Doctor's left, slashing his spear down like an axe. The Doctor rolled to the right, narrowly missing the laser tip of the spear. The laser spear carved its way into the green metal surface of the table and the Tempest Knight had great difficulty tearing it from the table.
Artemis didn't waste a second, she leapt gracefully on to table and using the laser spear lodged in the surface of the table as leverage, she kicked the Tempest Knight in the helmet causing him to stumble back.
In stumbling back, the Knight lost his grip on his laser spear, something which Artemis took advantage of. Artemis picked up the spear, showing off her physical prowess by easily pulling it from its lodgings in the metal table. She performed a perfect front flip, landing to either side of the Knights. Using her spear, she disarmed a second knight of his spear and to the Doctor's horror, stabbed the knight in the centre of his T visor. The laser blade cut through the armour like butter and the knight gave a hollow scream before falling to the ground, dead.
The remaining two Tempest Knights stopped their attack on the Doctor and advanced wearily on Artemis. Picking up the dead Knights spear in one hand and wielding another staff in the other hand; Artemis nonchalantly spun the staffs around in her hands; showing both the Knights that she was ambidextrous and capable of wielding both staffs at once, though the Knights kept advancing.
The disarmed Knight grabbed a stubby rod from his belt. With a press of a button, the stubby rod grew in a silver broad sword which the Knight wielded with great alacrity.
The Doctor could do nothing but watch as Artemis threw both her spears at the Tempest Knight, one staff for one of the oncoming Knights. The laser blades at the end of the staff's easily cut through the armour that the knights wore. With pin point accuracy both the blades hit their targets. Both Knights fell back, clutching a spear that was lodged in there chest.
Instead of blood, gold light appeared from cracks in there armour. The Doctor was amazed to realise that these Tempest Knights were Time Lords. There was a flash of energy and a transmat beam took the three Tempest Knights from the interrogation room. The Doctor stepped down from the table. His face was red with pure rage.
"That was unnecessary stupidity. You didn't need to kill them" snarled the Doctor.
Artemis met the Doctor’s rebuke with pure unadulterated anger of her own.
"How dare you criticize my actions you pious bean tin! I just saved your life. Those Knights would have killed you if it wasn't for me, so you should be a little more grateful" snapped Artemis.
The Doctor didn’t let it go. Instead he stuck his face right into Artemis's personal space.
"You should have found another rather than turning to this butchery. You do realize that you murdered a man. A Time Lord; and you don't feel a thing. You've murdered before" accused the Doctor!
"Welcome to real life Doctor. I wasn't given any other choice. I did what I needed to do" said Artemis, brutally.
A clattering of boots announced that squad of Chancellery guard were outside, attracted by the noises of fighting and the arguing. The guards burst through the door of the interrogation cell, capes flowing and Stasers drawn. All there weapons were aimed at Artemis. The Doctor damned himself for not getting the information he had set out to get. Those Tempest Knights only raised more questions than answers.
Out of the blue, Artemis grabbed the Doctor for a kiss. This took the scarlet guardsmen off guard and they could do nothing but stare. Put in a rather awkward situation the Doctor just stood there, waving his arms like a penguin trying to fly while Artemis embraced him in a long lascivious kiss. Engulfed by emotions and feelings the Doctor had never experienced before, all he could stand in stunned silence. Artemis broke off the kiss but pressed their foreheads together.
"Contact" whispered Artemis.
Understanding what Artemis was about to do, the Doctor whispered the traditional response to her request.
It was the trigger for a Gallifreyan telepathic conference. Both Artemis and the Doctor open their minds to each other. Creating a grey void where both minds met.
"I tell you these things Doctor because of the man you will become. For the Universe that will be your responsibility" proclaimed Artemis, from the grey void.
The Doctors mind began to receive memories from Artemis's past.
A little girl in her pyjamas stood by a door, staring through a crack into her father's study. Three men sat in the lavish room, in Gothic wooden chairs around an old round table. These three men were the governing rulers of Gallifrey, a Triumvirate to surpass any power in the known universe. The Triumvirate met in a Rassilon's quarters, high in the upper hemisphere. Of these three Galifreyans who would reshape their world, two were to become great legends; the other would vanish altogether from history. Omega was a giant of a man, with huge muscles and wide shoulders. He was a genetic memory from a dark time of barbaric kings who imposed there will on poor unfortunates.
"Construction of the Stellar Manipulator is almost complete. I estimate that the final calibrations will take no more than six months. In six months, we shall become transtemporal, free of the tyranny of moment following moment. We shall become the Lords of Time" exclaimed Omega, thumping his chest!
The man sitting to the right of Omega nodded his approval. He was a tall middle aged Gallifreyan with a white beard which covered his chin. The strange thing was the gold coronet on his head, with an amber gem at its centre. This was the great and powerful Rassilon.
"Let us hope, that we are worthy of such stewardship. Time imposes order on events; without order there is no balance, all is chaos. We shall impose order" conjectured Rassilon.
The third man started at this. The other man sat in the shadows, his features were impossible to make out. He had a pocket watch in his left hand, which he spun absent minded.
'I forbid it,' the other ordered.
"I was merely explaining" sputtered Rassilon, indignantly.
"Remember the Minyans" said the other.
Reminding his two colleagues of the repercussions of their power if misused.
"But we know so much more, we have learnt from our mistakes" protested Omega, angrily.
Omega's rage evaporated when he met the other's eyes and became silent. Both were indebted to this shadowy individual. Without the Other, Rassilon and Omega would be nothing.
"Let us move from such gloomy talk and onto topics of more interest. Have your eyes feast on this great feat of scientific magnificence" boasted Rassilon.
He pulled out what looked like parchment and spread it on the table. The parchment lit up and a 3D hologram appeared over the paper. It was a plan for the Chaos Engine surrounded by flowing Gallifreyan script.
"This is the final defence for Gallifrey. If the transduction barriers are breached and all hope is lost, than the High Council can call upon this, the Chaos Engine" pronounced Rassilon.
Omega studied the plans with the eyes of an engineer before giving judgement.
"It is of excellent design. You may want to attune the power output. It will put too heaver drain the taranium core" commented Omega.
"Is that all you do in that 'Foundry' of yours? Think of new ways to kill us all. I thought those harpoons of yours were galling enough" scorned the Other.
Rassilon shook his head in disagreement.
"No my friend, this isn't a time destructor weapon like you suppose. It creates chaos energies to weaken the boundaries of time. Once we claim our stewardship of time and Gallifrey is anchored to time itself, we will be unable to travel through our own past or future. With the right focus, the Chaos Engine can reverse Gallifrey's timestream so that any invader would no longer be at our doorstep and we can correct any mistake" explained Rassilon.
"What focus do you mean" questioned Omega?
"See for yourself" said Rassilon.
The great Lord of Gallifrey flicked his wrist at the 3D hologram and the image of the Chaos Engine dissolved into a million small parts which made up the whole. Each of the three scanned the parts in front of them and nodded their approval. The little girl was unable to make out anything from the crack in the door.
"I'll allow it but there needs to be more security on just a powerful weapon. It could easily be misused" stated the Other.
Rassilon gave a smile of triumph.
"Would a gene lock satisfy you" asked Rassilon.
"It just might" replied the other.
The shadowy individual gave a crooked grin.
Artemis broke the connection and the Doctor let out an audible gasp. His usual haughty expression had given away to shock and awe. To see into the memories of someone else was an eerie experience at the best of times but to dip into someone's mind and see history in the making was amazing. Especially since both Rassilon and Omega were both his heroes.
The Doctor had a strange familiar feeling about the shadowy individual. It was like that Other guy was an old friend or someone close to him. Artemis turned back to the Chancellery Guardsmen, who felt rather out of place in this situation. They were more use to dealing with blind drunk Shobogans rather than kissing Time lords. They all felt rather relieved when Artemis put her hands up in surrender.
"You can take me away now" said Artemis as if it was an order.
The Guards kindly obligated, placing her in plastic hand restraints and leading her out of the room. Braxiatel rushed into the room and anxiously checked on his younger brother.
"Doctor, are you alright" questioned Braxiatel?
The Doctor looked at Braxiatel as if dazed; he managed to croak out the words.
"Hrmm, oh yes. I’m quite fine. In fact I am feeling better every minute".
Low Town has grown up around and between the mighty pillars which support the base of the Capitol. It was a motley collection of pre-industrial buildings built by the outsiders of Time Lord Society. Those sick of the technocratic and overt rule of the High Council had come here to devote them lives to unTime Lordly pursuits. These outsiders are commonly called Shobogans by those who lived in the Citadel. Over the years, Shobogans settled in Low Town with one foot in the Capitol and the other reassuringly in Outer Gallifrey.
Just in case the pressures of city life or the attentions of the Chancellery Guard grew too much for these free spirited individuals. The Doctor had to wait until nightfall so he could make his way down into Low Town without being disturbed by the Chancellery Guard. The Doctor was wrapped in a black travel cloak made his way through the dark narrow alleyways and through shabby lanes until he got to the centre of Low Town. At the centre there was an old dingy tavern with a sign hanging over the door spelling the words; ''The Golden Grockle'.
Beneath the bracket showed a faded picture of some exotic once-golden creature. The Doctor and Koschei had spent many hours in this infamous tavern, drinking beer into the wee hours of the morrow during their previous illegal excursions into Low Town. The Doctor smiled; to Koschei and the rest of his friends from the Academy, this was the 'usual place'.
During the day time this place would be crowded but at night the Shobogans and Outsiders retreated to the many Taverns for a drink. The Doctor pushed open the heavy wooden doors and went inside. He found himself at the top of three long, low steps, at the bottom of which was a square, stone-flagged room with a heavy wooden bar running across the far end. The room was furnished with chairs, tables' benches and stools, all in the same heavy wood. Shobogans crowded the bar and the area.
The Doctor gave a chuckle; the Golden Grockle still was the toughest Tavern in all of Low Town, the ultimate centre of scum and villainy in all of Gallifrey. Wrapping his cloak tightly around him, the Doctor strolled through the tavern to the bar; the space in between was crowded with jostling figures, some in the plain robes of respectable townsfolk, others in the fur cloaks, skins and leathers of Outsiders. All the Outsiders were armed - everything from knives and bows to blasters and even the odd staser-rifle. Waving his hand to gain the attention of a bald headed portly barman; the Doctor managed to yell an order.
"'A tankard of Best Old Shobogan, please barkeep" ordered the Doctor.
The Barman gave a nod and poured a tankard full of a light brown liquid from a pump. After fishing through his pockets, the Doctor produced a silver coin. He passed it to the Barman; who bit into it, testing the coins virility before accepting it and handing the Doctor his Tankard. The Doctor was about to find a table when he was accosted by two Outsiders who both heavy built and carrying heavy clubs.
"Hey, we don't like Timey's in here. Go back to the Citadel" growled the leather clad Outsider.
"Hmph, do I you like a Timey to you" asked the Doctor, pulling open his cloak to reveal his Edwardian garb underneath?
The Outsiders both raised their eyebrows. Clothing like the Doctor's was very unlike the garb Time Lords traditional wore.
"Tell you the truth, mate, I'd have a job to say what you are" admitted one of the Outsiders.
Taking advantage of their confusion, the Doctor pushed his point home.
"Well gentlemen, if I am not a Timey then I should be able to enjoy my drink in peace. So if you'll excuse me" said the Doctor.
The Doctor skirted around the big confused Outsiders and took an empty table at the back of the Tavern. He sipped deeply from his tankard and examined the scenes going on around him. The people in the table next him were playing dice. It didn't surprise the Doctor to spot multiple incidents of cheating as the Shobogans gambled the night away. There were many black market deals done in the Tavern.
Many of the Shobogans sold and bought items considered illegal by Time Lords, such as Bottle Universes and Possibility Fish. The Doctor was snapped out of his reverie by the stranger who sat down next to him. A man with blond curly hair and a multi-coloured coat was sitting next to him. The blond haired stranger had a smug smile on his face and a Tankard of ale in his hand.
"The only way to get to the bottom of a great mystery is to look at the bottom of a tankard. A rather inspired notion, but not your real reason for meeting here of all places" commented the man in the multi-coloured coat.
Having become adept at recognizing himself, the Doctor knew the man for who he was.
"Oh no, not a another one" said the Doctor, incredulously
"Ah, you recognize me. What gave me away? Was it the noble brow, the firm mouth or the face beaming with a vast intelligence" asked the Doctor in the multi-coloured coat.
"Hrmm, none of that, it was the terrible dress sense that gave it away. No one in the whole of Gallifrey would wear anything remotely like that. It is very bombastic to say the least" commented the Doctor.
The Doctor in the multi-coloured coat seemed to explode at this, in the form of an indignant rant.
"Bombastic?! Bombastic!? I am never bombastic, of all the cheek. The man running around in Edwardian outfit is calling my outfit bombastic. I will have you know young Doctor that my dressing sense and indeed this whole incarnation is a amalgamation of some of your best traits."
The younger Doctor snorted.
"Would those traits be my arrogance, brashness and my inability to face reality" grumbled the younger Doctor.
The Doctor in the multi-coloured coat took a swig of his tankard and continued his rant.
"Some of your most charming qualities I assure you Doctor. Better me than my less prestigious compatriots. My predecessor is nauseatingly feckless and I hear rumours that my replacement isn't much better. I believe he is in the nasty habit of blowing up planets."
The younger Doctor raised his hands in exasperation.
"I can't know that! It's bad enough seeing my future selves through these echoes. Any more details about my future could rip apart the whole fabric of the web of time. There should be a word that warns me not to listen to these details" described the Doctor.
"I believe the technically term is 'spoilers'. I briefly met a Doctor of Archaeology who was very fond of that word. A frustrating woman although I had a feeling she had a crush on me. With my supreme physique, who can blame her" stated the Doctor in the multi-coloured coat.
Wanting to move their conversation away from spoiler topics, the younger Doctor asked a question.
"So what is my real plan?"
"Well, if I was a man with great intelligence and lacking in patience, then I'd get my duck all in a row. I would gather my suspects together in a familiar place and see what shakes loose. That's why you gathered them here isn't. The three greatest Time Lords of their generation. The only three people with the brains and the motive to activated the Chaos Engine. A rather ingenious stratagem I have concocted, if I don't say so myself" commented the Doctor in the multi-coloured coat.
"But you're not me and it's my plan" said the Doctor, stubbornly.
"Wrong, you forget that I am you; a possible future echo of yourself. I've already planned your stratagem, employed it and confined it to the dusty recesses of my mind" remonstrated the Doctor with the multi-coloured coat.
The Doctor was about to retort but a shadow fell over his table.
"You know talking to yourself is indicative of madness in certain more civilised parts of the Galaxy" said the newcomer.
Standing over him was a rather beautiful, imperious looking woman with lush light brown hair and a cruel nose. She too was wrapped in a black cloak very similar to the Doctor's. The Doctor noticed that his future echo in the multi-coloured coat had disappeared, evaporating into the ether. The Doctor concluded that his old friend mustn't have seen the echo and assumed he had been talking to himself.
The Doctor stood to face his old friend.
"Ushas, it's good to see you again. I haven't seen you in what feels like an age" greeted the Doctor.
The Doctor offered his hand but it was not received by the haughty Ushas, who ignored the hand of friendship.
"I am here Doctor. Both Magnus and Koschei are right behind me. You have exactly ten seconds to explain why I am here instead of in my lab exploring the chemical mysteries of the Universe" pronounced Ushas, sullenly.
In the crowd behind Ushas, the Doctor spotted Koschei escorting Magnus, who was wearing a grey suit and had a commanding presence about him.
The Doctor's 'friends' were all here. It was time for the reunion and his investigation to commerce.