Part Two, Prospero's Herald: Leiningen Versus the Mote
“So what did you end up doing with the erm, Dangerous Tibetan Artifact, hrm?” the Doctor said, steadying his gaze in a pointed look at the albino.
Aloysius X. Leng Pendergast just smiled. And just like the Doctor’s, it was a smile that hadn’t yet reached his eyes.
“Oh, I have my ways. Rest assured, Doctor. The tapestry is... doubly safe.”
His fingers quivered a fraction as he set his teacup down on the slim little saucer, a subconscious reaction the Time Lord found painfully familiar.
“Only doubly? Well, that’s good to hear, at least. But the image is still in your head, isn’t it? What are we going to do about that, hrm?”
The albino merely flexed his fingers in a pyramid beneath his chin at the notion, like a languid genius concocting some great bit of trouble.
“Do I hear an offer of reprieve, Doctor? And while we are on the subject, are you in any condition to be offering? You are pregnant with triplets, as I recall.”
“Ahhh. You’re getting fresh in your old age,” Theta Sigma said, dropping a hand to his skinny stomach.
“Why, my dear Doctor, whenever have I not been?”
The maverick FBI agent’s silver-blue eyes sparkled merrily, like two frost-tipped sapphires.
“Oh, yes. You’ve always been cheeky, even for a genius. Course I’m smarter than you, but that can’t be helped. I’m smarter than everyone.”
His face brightened, his own manner taking on its usual cheek, and soon the mood was light again.
“Ah, guys?” Jack said, as though he were just coming into the room, “... I’m still here, ya know!”
The Time Lord started at this, while the agent merely took his time and turned carefully in Jack’s direction.
“Not... trying to interrupt the reunion, but, don’t we have a serious issue to take care of? You know, like, saving the world?”
Theta Sigma jerked in his chair, flinching as if he’d been bitten.
“Yes, Jack. Thank you for that... ”
His fingers touched his belly again, but this time, the motion held no mirth.
“Welllll! It’s time I told you both about that signal, yes?”
His two companions nodded.
“Sorry. Once I focus on it, it can be a bit... distracting. You see, there are all sorts of telepathic subwaves involved here. You two are probably blind to all but the most rudimentary of twinges, but me, with my superior brain and albeit low-level telepathic sensitivities... it’s still like hearing an impossibly loud, deafening scream in my head. A bit rude, really. Aloysius here was kind enough to draw my attention from it for a bit with his natural charm, but it’s getting louder.”
He touched a thumb to his temples to illustrate. Already his brows were beginning to knit. He was feeling something... which meant there was something to be felt. Which meant there was something to be stopped.
And that something was bad news, in Jack’s book. But Pendergast had remained silent. Was still silent.
“What do you think, Agent?” Jack said, cocking his head toward the stiff albino, who was busying himself with the space beyond the Doctor’s left shoulder.
“I think we need more information. There’s something he’s not telling us. Isn’t there, Doctor?”
The agent’s eyes flipped like a shot toward the Time Lord, who matched his lightning gaze speed for speed.
“... very well. It’s been going on for a while. Trillions of years, to be exact. More than trillions... so far beyond trillions that the light from and what.”
“And so?” the Agent guided softly, tilting his white-blond head as though he knew something about loud noises from personal experience. Maybe he did. He had the body of a thirty-something, after all, if you didn’t count the ghostly-faint scars tracing his handsome, hawkish face.
“This... this... thing happened, before there was Time. Before there was anything. Before... so much transpired in the first transcendent picoseconds, and then later, when the Old Ones came from their home universe. They were the First Time Lords, before Gallifreyans latched onto the idea. When we were still savage. Before we even were. Some on Gallifrey said I was one of them, because at the tender age of nine or so I told one of my teachers of my first memory, that of being born, and before that, of being in the Looms, of Becoming Alive. Again. Of feeling the breath enter my new-formed lungs in the first moment of life. But all that is in the Second Past. You two must hear something of the First, of the Time Before Time. And you know what?” The Time Lord shook himself and rose, straightening to full height with a hand on his belly as though the little kitchen table were a podium of office rather than a hastily-tidied eating nook, only to lean wearily on the windowsill as if the weight of worlds were a tangible encumbrance upon him. “I’m beginning to think those other Gallifreyans were right.”