The Doctor simply reached into the folds his cloak and pulled out a test tube, the one that contained the blood sample from the mutant mouse and handed it to Ushas. She frowned but her eyes sparkled with fascination. Ushas sat at the table the Doctor had taken for their group and analysed the contents of the test tube, using a device strapped to her wrist. Koschei and Magnus walked up to the Doctor, both too were wearing black cloaks.
Both Time Lords looked remarkably similar. Both had a fashionable goatee, a dark complexion and a hypnotic stare. The difference between the two was in there manner. Koschei gave off an aura of wit, sophistication and a great intelligence enforced by a subtle guile.
While Magnus had none of these qualities; he was direct, commanding and more comfortable with brute force rather than subtle, which made him a peculiarity among his fellow Time Lords. Koschei nodded in greeting, giving the Doctor a crooked smile. Magnus however gave the Doctor a controlled glare.
It would seem there was no love lost between them over the little embarrassment with the High Council. It wasn't the Doctors fault, not completely. Magnus's experiment had been completely unethical.
The Doctor couldn't have stood by while his friend drained innocent creatures of their life energy, so he had sabotaged the experiment and made Magnus look like a right fool in front of the entire High Council. To a prideful Time Lord like Magnus, this was not something that he could forgive and forget. The not quite enemies not quite friends; nodded to each other in greeting.
"Doctor, it has been awhile. You haven't changed at all" said Magnus, in form of greeting.
"In the stale atmosphere of Gallifrey, change is improbability to say the least. Now enough dilly-dallying, we have much to discuss" said the Doctor, impatiently.
The three men sat down at the table but before anyone could utter a word, the portly Barman intruded on their little table with three flagons of Ale. He slammed the flagons on the table, spilling droplets of ale all over the table.
"That'll be one Gallifreyan Guinea" demanded the gruff illiterate Barman.
Koschei's dark eyes locked onto the dull eyes of the Barman. A hypnotic gleam appeared within Koschei eyes, an element of absolute will that had the power to consume those lesser minds. He stared deep into the Barman's eyes, and his voice became deep. The Barman face immediately went blank
"You don't need to get paid. Theses drinks are on the house. Obey and be about your business. Obey me, Obey me, obey me..."
The hypnotized Barman turned to leave but the Doctor reached out an arm and stopped him.
"Listen to me, when I snap my fingers you will awake" ordered the Doctor.
The Doctor snapped his fingers and the Barman awoke from his trance with a start. Placing a gold coin in the Barman's hand, the Doctor sat back into his seat and stared arrogantly at Koschei. Before the Doctor could manage a rebuke, Ushas interrupted.
"Are you still playing that old game? Koschei hypnotising people and the Doctor unhynotising them. It is the ultimate game of one up man-ship" critiqued Ushas.
"What is wrong with our little games my dear Ushas. Where is the harm I ask you" charmed Koschei?
"The harm is that you two always take things too far. You and the Doctor are a well-matched pair of pests. Like a plague of flesh eating insects, you two create nothing but chaos. Ruining other people's experiments and research" said Ushas, ruefully.
A guilty expression appeared on the Doctor’s face.
"You're over exaggerating and I did apologies for that for our little miscalculations" explained the Doctor.
"Miscalculation is putting it mildly Doctor, The Academy Science Symposium was all but turned to ashes in the wake of your contest to build the best Dark Matter Field" commented Magnus in dry humour.
"In the wake of your games, my precious research gets lost in your disasters. Only in the years after our last parting, have I been able to make progress into discovering the properties and uses of physical matter" scowled Ushas.
The Doctor sighed and remembered why he never liked to catch up with old friends. They always got embroiled in past arguments and misdeeds.
"That is all very well and good but what did you make of the blood I gave you, hrrmmm" questioned the Doctor?
"An interesting specimen; it's the blood of an ordinary mammalian rodent. The type they use in laboratories. Except there have been alterations made its DNA. I'll need more time to discover anymore" said Ushas, pensively.
Magnus snorted his disgust.
"Please don't tell me you've drag us all out to this less than salubrious establishment just so we can talk about rodents."
"Why yes Magnus. It is one of the items on tonight’s agenda. The rodent in question tried to eat me and Artemis. I believe it is a symptom of a much greater conspiracy. The Tempest Knights are responsible. Twice, they have made attempt on my life and only by dumb luck I have survived" proclaimed the Doctor.
Ushas, Magnus and Koschei didn't look surprised at the Doctor's words, just weary.
"You're not surprised, are you? You all know about them don't you, hrrmmm? Everyone except me of course" questioned the Doctor?
The Doctor knew that all three of them had high level positions within Time Lord society and had a wealth of information at their fingertips. It was all a matter of sitting on them until one of them said uncle. Finally Koschei spoke, breaking the silence.
"The Time Lords knew about these Knights before your fracas with them. There was a breakout at the Time Lord prison, Shada. It would seem that these Knights were responsible" stated Koschei.
Magnus frowned deepened and his anger was like to a black storm.
"You reveal highly classified Time Lord secrets to this Retrograde. That is treason" accused Magnus!
Koschei finally lost his temper.
"It is lesser treason compared to the betrayal I would have committed against my friend by my silence. You forget that each of us here have sworn an oath, loyalty until the end. Besides Shada has a powerful perception shield. It will cause the name and concept to fade from the mind of even a Time Lord, given enough time. So my treason would be considered as nominal" sneered Koschei.
"What is this Shada? I wasn't aware Gallifrey had any prisons" asked the Doctor?
"Ah but it does, one of the many black secrets at the heart of our Time Lord paradise. Shada is an ancient construction designed by Rassilon himself. It's hidden on a Planetoid in another dimension. It was designed to imprison Gallifrey's more infamous criminals; those who the Time Lords couldn't risk exiling into the wider universe. The ancient outlaws of yesteryear; like the War criminal Rungar, the mass murder Sabjatrik, the cruel Lady Scintilla and of course the infamous Salyavin. As advanced as the defences of Shada are, they were no match for these Tempest Knights. They broke in and freed over two hundred prisoners. None of the ancient outlaws thank Rassilon" explained Koschei.
"Two hundred of the most sadistic and evil beings that Time Lord society have produced are now free and have now joined evil order of Knights with the sole aim of becoming masters of time. Just why in the name of Rassilon should we be thankful? I lack insight into their motivations. I mean what is the point of it all? As Time Lords they already have stewardship of time. It's madness for the sake of madness" exclaimed the Doctor!
"That isn't the only bad news. Tell him Magnus" ordered Koschei.
Magnus gave Koschei a look of thunderous fury but gave into his friend’s demand.
"I've been consulting the Matrix as a part of research in divining new technologies that Gallifrey should take advantage of. The Matrix has almost unlimited power to predict possible futures and yesterday it gave a rather startling prediction" explained Magnus, grudgingly.
"More startling than those Tempest Knights trying to conquer time" questioned the Doctor, sardonically?
"Yes. Why don't you see for yourself" stated Magnus.
He reached into his cloak and pulled out a black metal headband which Magnus passed to the Doctor. The circular band was warm to the touch and incredible light.
"It is prototype Matrix Mind Projector of my design, based on Cornet that the President wears to gain access to the Matrix. Through this device you can project your brain waves through the APC net directly into the Matrix, granting you the ability to access any file or simulation within the Matrix's dimensions; a metaphysical fourth door. It is simple to access for those simple minded. All you need to do is place the Mind Projector on your crown" boasted Magnus.
The Doctor stared down at Magnus's invention in approval.
"Hrrmm, quite a interesting little gadget. Well, here goes" said the Doctor.
The Doctor placed the mind projector on his head and everything changed. The busy tavern filled with happy chatting people and the smell of strong ale disappeared. It was replaced the grand architecture Panopticon; the meeting place for all Time Lords in the Capitol. Unfortunately that was where the familiarity ended. All the usual banners, statutes and symbols were all replaced with the black markings of the Tempest Knights.
The stench of decay pervaded the hall. The Doctor was shocked to see heads on pikes, placed strategically around this black Panopticon. From the windows of the great room the Doctor could see the parts of the Citadel burning and beyond; the forests of Gallifrey were dead and cracked. The silver leafs of the Kaden-Wood trees were withered and perished. The sky's which once danced with lights purple and orange was now complete encompassed with the black smoke.
The Doctor was seated among a crowd of Gallifreyans in the Panopticon. Some of the people looked beaten and cowed, wearing nothing but rags. While others by the look of them had grown cruel and their hearts had hardened to ice. All there focus was on the centre dais, where a man in black Tempest armour stood. His hair was bleached blond and his face was unshaven. He was a tall thin man with a smile worthy of the mad hatter and a dark gleam in his eyes that could only be described as insane. The crowd cheered at the sight of this man.
"Silence, silence will fall for your Lord and Master. The Knight Commander has an announcement" called an unidentified imperious voice over a loud speaker.
The Doctor shook his head in shock and amazement.
"Who is this Knight Commander? His aspect seems familiar" wondered the Doctor, aloud.
An old crone in black robes turned on the Doctor from her seat on his right.
"Shhh, do you want us all to get executed" scowled the old crone.
Before the Doctor could make an indignant retort, a loud voice interrupted him.
"My People, my Master race, I am your Knight Commander, second only to the Tempest General. Today you will bear witness to a judgement on our enemies. We strive to achieve unending glory for the Tempest. Yet there are those who challenge our beliefs, those who follow different paths and other timelines. Such beliefs cannot be permitted" proclaimed the Knight Commander.
He paused for a second to allow a round of applause before ploughing on with his speech.
"Those evil wrenched creatures like the Cyberiad, the Sontarans, the Monan Host, the Warpsmiths of Phaidon and the Human Race. Today we will be speaking to a representative of one such race" pronounced the Knight Commander.
A globe of energy appeared above the Commanders head. It formed into the image of blackness; a creature that seemed more machine than organic, sitting in darkness. All that could be seen was a blue light emitting from what the Doctor could make out as some sort of eyestalk.
"This creature is an Emperor among its people but that means nothing to the people of the Tempest. Listen here Emperor, what do you want of us" asked the Knight Commander?
The alien Emperor responded, its bright blue eye never moving.
"Time Lord, authorize our release from the Time Eddy from which you have imprisoned us" demanded the Alien Emperor.
It's voice deep and metallic, never detracting from it goal.
"You dare ask anything of us. Emperor, we are proud to declare that you and all the inhabitants of the planet Skaro are our prisoners" declared the Knight Commander!
"No, you need us Time Lord! Your continuity cannot survive without us! Release us now" demanded the Emperor!
The crowd shouted the disproval at this statement but the Knight Commander quieted the crowd with a hypnotic glare and a wave of his hand.
"You are an enemy of our people. Request denied" said the Commander, vindictively.
This got a cheer from the crowd which the Commander seemed to lap up.
"This creature and the remaining battalions of its wretched race, we hold outside of the realms of space-time. We now have the ability to extinguish these 'pepperpots' in an instant. Crush them within the bounds of their prison. The Tempest General and the War Council have decided to destroy them, right here for your viewing pleasure" declared the Commander.
A feeling of cold horror came over the Doctor. He realised that this wasn't a diplomatic dialogue between two different races. This was a public execution and he was right in the middle of the bloodthirsty mob. The crowd screamed and cried there approval, jumping to their feet.
Jumping to his feet with the rest of the crowd, the Doctor tried to protest but his screams were drowned by the baying mob. This execution was evil. It went against everything the Doctor held dear and everything that the Time Lords had upheld. Article 7 of Gallifreyan law expressly forbids any person from committing Genocide. The Doctor had it drummed into him by all his Mentors that removing an alien race from time altogether would have disastrous effects to the Web of time.
"Time Lord, you cannot exterminate us" cried the Emperor!
It’s desperation apparent even through the metallic tone of its voice.
"Oh yes, I can" sneered the Commander!
The Commander pulled a remote control out from his belt and pressed it. The alien Emperor and its surroundings began to be engulfed in an orange energy which pulsated violently.
"Please have pity" plead the Emperor.
"Pity! I don't think so. Die" screamed the Commander, in joyful triumph!
The image of the Emperor faded to white and the Doctor shot out of the projection and back into the busy tavern. The Doctor gasped like a diver coming up for air and removed the projector from his head.
"Shocking isn't it" commented Koschei, mildly.
"It was a nightmare! Was that Gallifrey's future" asked the Doctor?
"It's prediction of the future. The assorted minds in the Matrix estimated that it was a likely future. Surprising that scenario was the most conservative projection" commented Ushas.
Before the Doctor could question his friends further, he was interrupted by new arrivals. A translucent cone of swirling energy appeared in the empty space at the centre of the Golden Grockle.
It appeared as if out of thin air and all the taverns patrons stopped whatever they were doing. The Shobogans sensing danger immediately stopped drinking and began to edge towards the door. While the rough and ready Outsiders grabbed the nearest weapon.
Like an upside down tornado, the cone disappeared but had left something in its wake. Five silver humanoids made of metal and plastic which melded to their flesh. Their faces were cold and emotionless and each had a pair of metal tubes protruding from either side of their heads.
Their bodies were augmented with cybernetic implants and limbs. The Doctor immediately recognized the creatures from his studies of Earth history. Standing completely still, the creatures seemed to be scanning their surroundings.
"What are they" stuttered Magnus.
"Cybermen, there called Cybermen" stated the Doctor.
"What are Cybermen" asked Ushas?
"There from Earth history, the Mondas Event. The first time humans began suspect that they weren't alone in the universe. In the year 1986 CE Humanian Era, the planet Earth was invaded by the Cybermen from Earth's own twin planet Mondas. These Cybermen were humans once, but they had their emotions surgically removed in favour of becoming machines" stated the Doctor.
Everyone knew the Doctor affection for the planet Earth. He was a complete Terraphile.
"That's all well and good but what are they doing here. On Gallifrey" babbled Magnus, stunned.
"Isn't it obvious? Didn't you pay attention during History? Of course not, History was a waste time according to you lot" snapped the Doctor, impatiently.
"A Time Scoop! Someone used a Time Scoop to take these creatures from their native time zone and dropped them to this very Tavern. These Scoops were banned by the High Council; all of them were 'supposedly' destroyed. This smells like the work of the CIA" deduced Koschei.
The one of the Cybermen came to life.
"Location unknown. Assess local population for conversion" stated one of the Cybermen, in a cold electronic tone.
One of the Outsiders stepped forward. He was a big man, over seven feet, bald with a beard and had biceps the size of meteorites. He was also armed with a giant club.
"Oi, we don't allow alien freaks in here" ordered the big man.
The Big Outsider hefted his club and tried to hit one of the Cybermen with the metal end. The Cyberman merely caught the club mid blow. Straining his muscles with all his might, the Big Outsider was unable to pull his club out of the iron grip of the Cyberman.
Reaching out a metal arm, the Cyberman grabbed the big Outsiders shoulder and his appendage began to glow with a blue light. An arc of electricity sprang from the Cyberman's palm and into the Big Outsider.
As if struck by lightning, the Outsider collapsed, his body giving off an acrid smoke. Unlike the Gallifreyans who lived in the Citadel, this Outsider wasn't gifted with the ability to regenerate so died a painful death on the floor.
Rage took hold of the Doctor, something that overpowered his fear. This rage didn't burn like fire but froze like winter. He stormed forward to the centre of the bar, people around him began to scatter but the Doctor didn't care.
"You there! Yes, you metal men. How dare you end this man's life! How dare you" accused the Doctor!
The Cyberman with the black tubes on either the side of his head turned on the Doctor. Its metal features devoid of anything that could be described as emotion.
"You belong to us. You will become like us" stated the Cyberleader, in an artificial tone.
"No sir! I belong to no one! Don't you feel any remorse for that man you just murdered" questioned the Doctor?
"Resistance is useless. All those who resist, will be destroyed. Why should I feel any remorse, it is a useless emotion" countered the Cyberleader.
"Emotions. Love, pride, hate, fear. Have you no emotions, sir" questioned the Doctor?
"We have no need for emotions" replied the Cyberleader.
One the Cybermen standing next to the Leader lifted an arm and pointed to the Doctor.
"He is known to us Leader. His voice pattern and appearance matches one of the early Incarnations of the Doctor" said the Cyberman.
"Excellent, the Doctor is our greatest enemy. He must be destroyed" stated the Cyberleader.
The Doctor marvelled at this statement. He had never done anything to the Cybermen to warrant such a title as 'greatest' enemy or not yet at least.
"Destroy him" ordered the Cyberleader!
A Cybermen lifted its arm and aimed a Cybergun the Doctor. It fired and the Doctor duck just in time. The shots went right over his head; some hitting the back wall while others hitting innocent bystanders. The other Outsiders and Shobogans didn't need any more convincing. Everyone began to run for the nearest exit, everyone except the Doctor and his friends at the back table.
Koschei was speaking into a wrist communicator, calling up the Capital Guard in the Citadel. But the Doctor knew that the Guard would be too late to do anything. He needed to get his friends out of harm way, he needed to draw the Cybermen away; he needed a plan.
The Doctor manually calmed his beating hearts and looked around the now deserted tavern for the solution. In his mind the Doctor catalogued everything in bar, from the illicit objects left on the tables to the ale stored at the bar. He arrived at a conclusion in under a second. The Doctor took a deep breath, building up the courage to carry out his daring plan. The Doctor had never done anything like this before. Standing up to the monsters was probably something left to the professionals thought the Doctor.
"Oi! Follow me you metal morons! Come and get me" dared the Doctor!
The Doctor got up and started to run towards the main doors. He zigzagged around the tables, making the Doctor an impossible target for the Cybermen and there Cyberguns. Laser bolts whizzed by the Doctor but he kept running. Even taking the time to pick up a number pouches that lay abandoned on the tables. The Cybermen followed, there slow pace was steady and determined.
The Doctor pushed the doors open and dove through. Out in the fresh air, the Doctor checked the pouches that he'd collected. A couple contained some coins while other had exactly what he needed. Validium and exactly enough for what the Doctor had planned. The Doctor smoothed out his cloak and just waited for the Cybermen to emerge. They exited the building in a single file, and then spread out to surround the Doctor.
"Wait! Wait just one moment. How would you like to know the secrets of the Time Lords" asked the Doctor, nervously.
The Cyberleader stood in silence, considering the Doctor's offer. It was logical that the Doctor would want to trade secrets for his life, not that it would do him any good.
"Tell us the secrets and you may live" lied the Leader.
The Doctor pulled several pieces of Validium from the pouches. This living metal had the consistency of playdough, so the Doctor just mashed it all together in a ball. He walked over and gave it to the Cyberleader.
"That is Validium, known as the living metal" stated the Doctor.
The Cyberleader examined the lump of Validium and then crush it with his metal fist.
"What benefit is a metal that can be so easily crushed? What is its function" questioned the Cybermen.
"Its functions are infinite. In the Dark Times, it was mainly used as a weapon, programed for nothing but destruction. Now, Validium is used for many other things. With just this amount of Validium, you can grow just about anything; a candle, a computer, even a TARDIS with the right amount of care. Of course the only downside is that when Validium reaches a certain critical mass the substances becomes unstable" explained the Doctor.
"How unstable" demanded the Cyberleader?
In the Cyberleader's eagerness to learn the secrets of the Time Lords, he and his men failed to notice the Doctor pull out another piece of Validium from one of the pouches.
"Well then, let us find out" said the Doctor, in triumph!
With the speed of a coiled snake, the Doctor whip out his lump Validium and smashed it against the Validium that the Cyberleader had held in his proffered hand. The two lumps of Validium seemed to stick to each other and meld into a single piece of metal. It immediately began to pulsate and glow with a white blinding light.
Letting go of the lump of Validium, the Doctor began to run for cover, taking advantage of the distracted Cybermen. The Doctor leaped into an empty alleyway just in time as the Validium released a jet of pure energy which vaporised the Cybermen and everything in a five metre radius.
The Doctor stuck his head around the corner of the alley and goggled at what he had done. He had just fooled five Cybermen and wiped them from the face of Gallifrey. Although the Doctor had a nasty suspicion that he hadn't seen the last of the Cybermen.
In the dark depths of the Citadel, was a black throne room. The lights burned blue and were surrounded by grey stone with a throne at the centre. On this throne, below a carving of a black hourglass, sat the Tempest General; garbed in gold and black armour, similar to Earth Medieval armour. A single Tempest knight approached the throne. He bowed and stood to attention in front of the Tempest General.
"Report" order the General.
"The plan has failed. The Doctor lives" reported the Knight.
The General slammed his fist against the arm rest of his throne in frustration.
"Damn! How hard can it be to kill a retrograde" demanded the General?
"The Doctor is a worthy opponent. You were wrong to underestimate him" criticized the Knight.
The General didn't respond well to criticism especially from his subordinate.
"I need no lectures from you, whelp! The Doctor is a worm but he is in my way. So he must be eliminated from the equation" shouted the General.
The Knight nodded in respect.
"Perhaps, but to what purpose? The Tempest Revolution is nigh. Soon we will have complete control of time and the Doctor's investigation will amount to nothing" stated the Knight.
The General thought this over and came to agreement.
"This is true, after we wash away the impotent quorum of Time Lords, the Doctor will mean nothing. Have the final preparations put into place. The Revolution shall begin tomorrow!"