The Mark of the Rani
The night slowly brightened into morning, but this didn't dispel the shadows that were gathering in the Capitol. After the Cybermen incident in Low Town, the Doctor had retired back to his small apartment in the Citadel but he didn't sleep.
He spent most of the time pacing the small confines of his lounge room, figuring the angles. Considering all the different factors like the Chaos Engine, the Tempest Knights, the CIA and Artemis until his head spun.
Finally in the wee hours of the morning, the Doctor sat down at his work bench and went to work, so he could drown out his racing thoughts. First, the Doctor made something small with the bit and bobs he had lying about.
It was a short cylinder that could easily fit into a person's palm. When he was done the Doctor smile down at the Loop Generator he had craft. He had made hundreds of them during his Academy, deploying them against bullies and teachers alike.
The Doctor then went about devising something a bit more complicated. His Sonic Screwdriver, although a brilliant piece of technology had many faults in its design. So the Doctor set about designing improvements.
By the time he had finished, it was morning and there were plans to put in motion. First thing on the Doctor's agenda was find the owner of the Mutant Mouse. He theorised that if he found the owner it would lead him straight to the Tempest Knights. That meant going to Ushas and hounding her for an in-depth analysis of the mouse's DNA.
The Doctor travelled to the west wing of the Citadel, where Ushas had her labs. It was in a desolated part of the Capitol. Only a couple of retired Time Lords dwelled in this part of the Citadel. The corridor that the Doctor walked down was dusty from ill use. The emerald crystalline surface had decayed into black with lonely lights to show the way.
Reaching the familiar door, the Doctor found the silver metal door locked. The Doctor slyly looked both ways before producing his Sonic Screwdriver from the inner pocket of his frock coat. Newly improved, the screwdriver now had miniature circular dish attached to the top of the pen like device.
The Doctor placed the Sonic Screwdriver, face up next to the door's access panel and was about to activate it before he was rudely interrupted.
"Isn't this nostalgic; this is the first time I've ever committed breaking and entering! Well sonicing and entering if you're technically speaking. While we are speaking technically, you may want to place that Screwdriver a little further down. Otherwise you'll bring the Chancellery Guard down on are heads. Those blockheads really know how to cramp our style" commented a man from the shadows.
The Doctor jumped a mile in the air, looking startled.
"Who goes there" stammered the Doctor.
The man emerged from the shadows to reveal a Victorian frock coat, a chock of dark brown hair combed over on one side and a brown bowtie
"Guess who" said the man, his arms opened in greeting.
The Doctor grabbed his lapels and relaxed. It wasn’t too hard to deduce the identity of this man.
"Oh, not another one. You're like lost sheep. I must say you seem an improvement on the others. I was beginning to think that all my future selves were all mad men" commented the Doctor.
The Bowtie wearing Doctor smiled at his younger self. His brown old eyes seemed to sparkle with whimsical humour.
"There is one thing you need to know about yourself and one day it might just save your life. We are definitely all mad men."
The younger Doctor lost patience.
"Speak for yourself Mr Chin face; I don't need your advice. A ridiculous notion considering that we two are the same person, hrmm" chided the Younger Doctor.
The older Doctor's mirth disappeared but his smile remained.
"You want to know why we can give you advice. Look at these eyes. There old eyes. I have seen things you won't believe and others that would turn your hair white. Actually they will turn your hair white. I've been out in the wider universe living our dream and getting into trouble along the way. In my travels, I've picked up a few things" boasted the older Doctor.
At these words the younger Doctor calmed.
"So it actually happens, one day I will leave Gallifrey to see the stars. What did I pick up along the way" asked the younger Doctor, curiously?
"Oh, a couple stray humans, a sense humour and a love of bowties. Other talents I never learned on Gallifrey but through my travels. Empathy being chiefly among them" admitted the Older Doctor.
"Hmph, what need do I have for empathy" dismissed the Younger Doctor.
"That's the ruthless arrogance that has been the curse of Time Lords. I remember being you. I remember not caring about anyone but myself. You never did take time to look out for friends. Instead you isolated them when they needed you the most. Its actions like that bear fruit over time. Oh an you may or may not want to point the sonic further down. Go on, give it a try" instructed the Bowtie Doctor.
The Younger Doctor took his advice and applied his Sonic Screwdriver as the older Doctor had directed. After a few minutes, the lock relented and the door slid open.
"Ahhh, now we're making history" said the Bowtie Doctor, with an easy smile.
The younger Doctor didn't know what to say to his older self. Inside he was furious about being told off but a part of him did recognize the truth in his older self's words.
"Geronimo" cried the Bow tie Doctor, barging into the lab first!
The younger Doctor went in after him and was amazed at the sight in front of him. A fully furnished lab was laid out in front of him. Lab equipment of the most advanced nature covering every surface of the room. The black equipment stood out from the shining white tiled floor and the white walls.
This lab wasn't cluttered like most Time Lord Lab's the Doctor had seen, but everything was in its place and there was place for everything. Only two things were out of place. First was the disappearance of his future self, which wasn't much of a surprise to the Doctor considering the very nature of future echoes. What surprised the Doctor was the second thing missing from the lab.
Ushas was nowhere to be seen. This was strange because Ushas was infamous throughout the Capital for being a recluse and rarely ever leaving her lab. The Doctor strolled about the lab, browsing through the equipment and fiddling with some of the machines. Tucked into the corner of the lab was a wooden bookshelf.
The shelves were jammed pack with advanced chemical textbooks apart from one book which stood out from the rest. It was an Earth text called ‘War of the Worlds’. The Doctor, his curiosity peaked by Ushas hidden sentimentality, reached out and tried to pull the book out of the shelf. As if the Doctor flipped a switch, the bookshelf flickered and disappeared.
"Curious and curiouser, that whole bookcase was a hard light hologram. So Ushas, what do you have hidden behind here, hrmm" wondered the Doctor, aloud.
Beyond the doorway that had been hidden by the bookcase was a white spiral steps which led down into darkness. The Doctor curiosity was fully peaked by this secret passage but he was weary of danger. The old Earth saying 'curiosity killed the cat' came to mind. Thank Rassilon that saying only applied to Earth creatures and not Time Lords thought the Doctor, sarcastically.
Taking short silent steps, the Doctor went through the doorway and tiptoed down the stairway. After going down a hundred odd steps in the dark, the Doctor heard voices. Distant at first but they became clearer with every step.
"Commander, the Tempest General is impatient. He is demanding an update" stated one of the voices.
This voice seemed to belong to a male, his tone filtered through a helmet microphone.
"Tell the General, he can wait. I will release Subject XIII soon, the President will die and his little revolution can begin. So tell him to stop bothering me" said an arrogant female voice.
The Doctor recognised the voice but couldn't bring himself to believe it was possible. It was only when he turned a corner and saw the traitor, that the Doctor actually believed it. Ushas stood at the centre of the circular room, surrounded by armoured Tempest Knights. She was wearing armour similar to the Knights, minus the helmet. Next Ushas was another old friend of the Doctors, a creature that the Doctor had never wished to see again.
The Giant Mutant Mouse or Subject XIII slammed repeatedly against the energy barrier which held it in place. Of course thought the Doctor berating himself, why hadn't he seen it to begin with. Ushas was the only person who could have created a mutant like that through the use of chemicals. The Doctor watched unseen as Ushas pulled a single tablet from a hidden compartment in her wrist computer.
She dropped the tablet through a pin sized hole in the mouse's energy cage and the monster lapped it up like candy. Pressing a button on her wrist, the energy field turned off and the mouse was free. The other Tempest Knights levelled there Laser spears at the creature but Ushas waved her hand to cease there attack.
"Put those down you fools! Subject XIII has been ordered to go after the President" ordered Ushas!
The Mouse ignored everyone; it ran to a broken grate and jumped into the ventilation shaft. The Doctor, his mind working overtime; surmised that the Mutant mouse was heading for the President of the High Council and it wanted to kill him and anyone else that got in its way. He had to get to the President and warn him.
The Doctor turned to sprint up the stairs but slipped on one of the stone steps and scraped his shoes against them. The noise caused Ushas and the Knights to turn in his direction and immediately spot the Doctor, crumpled on the stair. Cursing his clumsiness; the Doctor got to his feet, brushing dirt off his Tartan trousers. Every hostile eye in the room homed in on him.
"Ahh, there you are Ushas. Sorry for intruding, I didn't mean to interrupt anything important" said the Doctor, half flabbergasted and half embarrassed.
Ushas cursed the Doctor; his sudden appearance had ruined her calculations.
The Doctor began edging up the stairs but the Tempest Knights reacted fast. Levelling there Laser Spears at the Doctor, the Knights fired laser streams at the Doctor. Ducking his head, the Doctor bolted up the stairs; just narrow missing a torrent of laser fire that was meant for him
"Stop you fools, I want the Doctor alive" ordered Ushas!
But her words had little effect on the Knights. Her small squad of Knights were already bolting up the stairs in hot pursuit of the Doctor. Ushas shook her head despairingly. Fools thought Ushas, in a couple of hours the Doctor wouldn't matter.
The Doctor got to the lab above with the Knights close on his heels. As soon as the Knights reached the top of the stairs they opened fire. There shots went wide and smashed against a load of beakers filled with putrid green ooze. Glass and metal flew everywhere. Dodging a spray of green ooze, the Doctor went for the door. He made it to the just in time.
He applied his Sonic Screwdriver to the outside door control. With a bang and shower of red sparks, the slammed shut. The Knights tried to open the door from the other side but it had been jammed shut. Wasting no time, the Doctor sprinted towards the upper Citadel in the vain hope of saving the President.
Artemis's morning had been mind numbingly dull. For someone who was used to going anywhere in time and space on a whim, being stuck in an office was rather a letdown. Just because it was the Office of the President of the High Council didn't make any less dull. At least her father had a sense of style; this fool had decorated his office in ugly wooden panels which gave it a rather rustic feel. Artemis sat handcuffed to a wooden chair, staring at the President, who looked at her haughtily from behind his opulent desk.
Pundat the Third wasn't a very impressive man; he was old and fat with cruel piggy eyes. He looked completely out place in Presidential robes. The gold sash of Rassilon hung tightly around his neck. The President’s advisors were different however. Cardinal Borusa stood next to the President, was a statue of order and authority. He wore scarlet robes of the Prydonian chapter and he practically leaked charisma from every crevasse. Next him was that CIA rat Vansell and a couple of other flunkeys.
The Time Lords had a united front against her and it was supposed to intimate but all Artemis could feel was pity for them. Artemis had been around the Universe and had seen a few things. She had helped Osiris imprison his psychotic brother within a Pyramid on Mars, she had trapped the last of the Daemons in a place called Devils End, inspired Earth people into making her a God and destroyed Covens of Vampires.
She had journeyed to the edge of existence and made occasionally made supply runs to Gallifrey so she could pilfer the latest time capsule. Hell, Artemis had only come back to her home planet to final put an end to the intergalactic stalking. Recently, Artemis had been picking up TT Time Capsules following her through the Time Path Indicator. Somebody had been stalking her every movement in the Vortex.
She had investigated it further and traced the Time Capsules back to Gallifrey. Long years in the Sisterhood of Pythia had taught her to trust her instincts. Some faction within the Time Lords wanted her. Artemis was just thankfully that she was with these pontificating fools and not the Tempest Knights. President Pundat cleared his throat like an oversized toad and glared at Artemis like a pious principal over a unhelpful student.
"Now then Artemis, in your absence you have already been tried and convicted under Gallifreyan law for Treason and other crimes of a deviant nature. You have been sentenced to atomisation within the Dispersal Chamber but I'd be willing to offer you a pardon for services rendered and a light period of exile to nearest level three planet. That's of course, if you'd be willing to cooperate in unlocking the Chaos Engines gene lock" offered the Pundat.
Artemis snorted at the President in disdain.
"Treason! I did what was right; I spoke out against the high and mighty Rassilon! He murdered innocent people just because they wouldn't join his vision of the future. My father might have been a good man once but he became drunk on power and glory. It turned him into a monster" yelled Artemis, furiously.
The Toady President turned red with anger like an overheated tea pot.
"That is blasphemy! Rassilon was the greatest Time Lord who ever lived and you dare slander his good name, you harlot" grumbled the President.
Artemis could do nothing but roll her eyes at Pundat’s foolishness. To Time Lords, Rassilon maybe someone to revere but to Artemis, her father was a mere mortal. Borusa took the liberty of stepping forward. This Time Lord although young, had the grudging respect of every man in the room.
"By your leave Lord President, may I address the Prisoner" asked Borusa, bowing to the President.
Pundat gave the Cardinal his nod of approval.
"Artemis, whatever happened in the past is in the past. All you can do is worry about the future. As Time Lords, it our mandate to uphold the law and see that your sentence is carried out. It would a regrettable act unless of course you can help us to help yourself" stated Borusa, seriously.
Artemis was reluctant, she knew that her DNA would disarm the Chaos Engine but guessed it could be used for a more sinister purpose. For the Engine to fulfil its function it needed a catalyst; conduit which the machine could use to move time backwards. If the Tempest Knight were after her then it logical that she must be that conduit. So being exiled to some primitive backwater planet would be the worst place for her. It would make her a sitting duck for these Tempest Knights. No, she had to buy time and escape at the next opportunity.
"Why do you need my permission? I've been leaving traces of my DNA all over the place. It would be child play for you to extract a sample" asked Artemis?
"It would seem this gene lock does more than read DNA. Our Technicians inform us that there is telepathic component as well. The person giving the DNA must be willing to disarm the weapon" explained Borusa, pleasantly.
"What if I say no because it seems like you need me a lot more than I need you" questioned Artemis?
"Then you won't be the only one facing execution. I'm sure we would be able to persuade a Court of law that the Doctor is guilty of treason. After all, it was the Doctor who let a dangerous subversive into the Capitol" threatened Vansell, stepping forward.
Borusa gave Vansell a dirty look while a greedy smile appeared on the President’s fat face.
"Why yes, an excellent suggestion Vansell. That malicious malcontent is always a nuisance. What do you say to that? Give in or you will be atomised alongside the Doctor" threated the Pundat.
This threat stopped Artemis dead and an icicle of worry penetrated her cool façade. She couldn't justify sacrificing the Doctor. Not because of her growing feelings for the daft young Time Lord but for his future. After reading the Doctor's future, Artemis had arrived to the conclusion that he was essential for the future safety of the Universe. Artemis had glimpsed events from his future that astounded her.
If it were not for the Doctor, the Planet Sol 3 in Mutter Spiral would be a war zone for countless alien races. Gallifrey itself would be ravaged by the Vardan, the Sontarans and the Daleks. The Beast imprisoned on Krop Tor would be free to send the Universe into darkness. The Great Vampires and many other creatures from the Dark Time would return to ravage the Universe.
The Black Guardian would obtain the Key to Time and Chaos would rule. The entire Universe would then plunge into Heat Death without a stable CVE. These brief glimpses had convinced Artemis that the Doctor must be protected at all costs.
"Really Lord President, is threatening necessary" questioned Borusa?
"I am Lord President of the High Council of the Time Lords, Keeper of Legacies of Rassilon, Protector of the Laws of Time and Defender of Gallifrey. I deem it necessary!"
"Then Lord President and my ex-student Vansell need to be reminded that as Politicians we are subservient to the Constitution. Dispersal without representation is against the Constitution. The very thing that everybody in this room is swore to protect" protested the Borusa.
Before Pundat could turn on Borusa, Artemis intervened. She was intent on sowing a bit more indecision among the Time Lords.
"What of these Tempest Knights? Surely there a bigger threat than me or the Doctor" queried Artemis?
Pundat the Third snorted in derision.
"I know of these 'Tempest Knights'. They will be dealt with in the fullness of time" stated the President with an all-knowing look in his eye.
Before anyone could make a comment on Pundat's enigmatic statement, there was a loud meowing coming from a corner of the President's office.
Pundat immediately got up from his seat with a look of gleefully childlike joy appearing on his face.
"Oh, Blackie's got trapped in the vents again. He must be staving for some more mammary gland extracts" said the President.
"Blackie" asked Artemis?
"My Presidential Cat of course. Every President since Pandak the First has had a Cat. It is tradition and a symbol of my Presidency" explained Pundat, harshly.
While every other Time Lord in the room stood awkwardly at attention, Pundat walked to the corner of the room and pulled a hidden latch on his wood panel wall. There was a click as the mechanism released and a small hole appeared in the wall. It was a round hole just over a couple of metres wide. There was another insistent meow, followed by a hiss and a loud screech which sounded like a death cry.
Before anyone could stop Pundat or remind him about common sense, the President stuck his head into the vent shaft entry to search for his cat. It was an action that Pundat would regret for the rest of his lives. Waiting for him inside the vent was four bright green eyes peering at him from the darkness.
"Blackie" called Pundat?
The creature opened up its mouth and what light there was reflected off its giant yellow teeth. Pundat jumped in alarm when he spotted a cat's gold collar hanging between the creatures teeth.
The President screamed in horror as the Ushas's Mutant Mouse leapt from the vent shaft to devour his flesh. Lucky for old Pundat, he fell backwards, well away from the Mouse. Before anyone could react the Mouse lashed out and bit a chunk out of Pundat's leg. Artemis struggled in her bonds, trying to free herself from the chair. Not so she could rescue the President but so she could be ready for the Mutant monster when it finished with him.
The double doors burst open and two scarlet uniformed members of the Chancellery Guards burst in. Both of them pulled out there Stasers from there belt and opened fire on the Mutant Mouse. Twin white bolts of light impacted against the Mouse's muscle bound flesh to no effect. It would seem that Ushas had designed her Mouse to be immune to Staser fire. Distracted from its main meal, the Mutant Mouse turned on the Chancellor Guards. It's growls and snarls putting an icicle of fear in their hearts. The Mouse leapt at the nearest guard, fangs open.
Out from nowhere, a short round cylinder spun right in front of the Mutant Mouse. The effects were immediate; the air around the Mouse seemed to shimmer as the creature flew backwards as if someone had clicked the rewind button on a VCR. Back in its original position in the vent shaft, the mouse growled and leaped again but found itself back in the same position. Two members of the Presidents entourage rushed over to Pundat and tried to stem the blood flow from the bite in his leg. Borusa sighed in exasperation and turned to the rest of his Time Lord compatriots.
"I believe that cylinder is Loop Generator, it's created a temporary prison for the creature within that small sector of space/time. I know of only one man who could have engineered such a device. I shouldn't be surprised, that ridiculous man always did bring trouble in his wake" stated Borusa, sourly.
The Doctor strolled into the room, panting heavily from his sprint up fifty floors and two elevators. He pulled a white handkerchief and mopped his brow.
"Thank you sir, I believe that's the best complement you've ever given" stated the Doctor, sarcastically.
Vansell's wrist communicator beeped and he stared down at the read outs. His eyes widened in shock.
"The Tempest Knights have launched an all-out assault against the Citadel much earlier than predicted. We need to evacuate the President to a safe location" explained Vansell.
The President fell to into a coma, so was unable to make decisions. Being the senior member of the Supreme Council, Borusa was the one in charge. Borusa gave the Doctor a disapproving look before turning to Vansell.
"Evacuate everyone in this room to the Time Control Chamber" ordered Borusa.
The Doctor wasn't paying attention, instead he was focused on the President; unconscious and blood still rushing from the wound in his leg.
One of the President's attendants turned to Borusa and said four words that would reverberate throughout history.
"We need a Doctor!"
Chaos had taken hold of the Citadel as the Tempest Knights emerged from there hiding places and took control. Normal citizens ran for what shelter they could find while the Chancellery Guard tried to hold back the tide.
Unfortunately, the Guard hadn't seen action in over two generations. They were used to dealing with unwieldy Shobogans not taking on heavily armed criminals. So were absolutely slaughtered by the Tempest Knights, there Staser bolts bouncing off the Knights thick armour.
Fires ignited as red hot laser bolts from the Tempest Knights impacted flammable portions of the Citadel. A accrued black smoke engulfed the inside of the protective dome. Making the Citadel itself look like a shaken up snowglobe with white replaced with the black. For the first time in living memory, Gallifrey was at war