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Doctor Who Companion Internet Adventure #06 - "New Traken"


Chapter 10
"Past Life Experiences — Part 1"
by Tony Whitt


---


One of the most annoying things that Nyssa had learned during her travels was that not all transmats were built the same. Some of them took you from Point A to Point B with absolutely no sense that any time had passed at all, while others took an achingly long time to pull you apart atom by atom and reconstruct you at your destination. The bad thing about the latter type was that they could never truly be called 'instantaneous', and that they often made you feel it would have been faster to walk.


       The good thing about the latter type was, they often left you conscious, and they gave you time to think. Nyssa needed both, after the events of the last twenty-four hours. So many decisions, such little time — but here, time was immaterial. The Doctor would've loved to have been able to do this in the midst of most of their adventures together, Nyssa thought.


       But even this time was finite, and she quickly ordered her thoughts in the scientifically logical way which had always been her forte. In that brief, finite time, she realized what she needed to do.


       She materialized within the transmat booth on Myson's ship and quickly looked at the design. Standard dematerialisation and rematerialisation circuits on flatchips, with biomass stabilizers, touch-sensitive controls, flat power pack generators, and multiple targeting beam capability. Excellent. She took out the laser scalpel she'd hidden on her person, opened the small flat service hatch on the transmat, and calmly set to work


* * *


Myson stood on the bridge of the ship, his fingers trailing back and forth across the control panel for the Crucible. Soon he would be able to activate the device and have unlimited power, the power to remake the universe in the Circle's image. By now, Fergurson would have returned to her ship, and the Trakenite woman would be on her way to him, escorted by his guards. She was the last link, the one who would help them harness the vast power produced when the Crucible destroyed the planet below and changed it into a black hole.


       Sarabiss was a godsend--a planet whose decay was slowing leeching the bioelectric energy from every living thing on its surface. The Circle had hoped to have enough time to convert enough subjects and move into the next phase after everything on the surface had died, but that power-hungry fool Travis had messed up the timing. He'd brought the Trakenite far too soon. But everything would still be all right, so long as nothing went wrong.


       The door opened, and two of his guards came in, flanking the petite Trakenite woman. She was much smaller than he had thought, and far stronger. She looked at him with an air of haughty distaste and shrugged off the hands of the guards.


       "Welcome aboard the flagship of the New Traken Union, Nyssa of Traken," Myson said, rubbing his hands together and leering at her. "Now, what can I do for you?"


       Nyssa looked at him severely. "I want an explanation of what you're doing here," she said. "I've gotten several different stories about what this Crucible is and what the Circle intends. Travis has told me one thing, and two other people have told me others. None of them make any sense. Since you're the one in charge, I'd like you to tell me." Before Myson could open his mouth to respond, she continued, "But first, I think we should do this in private."


       She clasped a hand to her side — it seemed for a moment as if she were clutching her stomach in pain — and the two guards disappeared.


       Myson leapt forward, incredulous at the disappearance of his guards. Then, he took a few deep breaths to calm himself. "What... did you do to them?" he asked, after he had regained his composure.


       Nyssa stared at him levelly, her eyes never leaving his, despite the scalpel being pointed at her. "They, and everyone else on this ship, have been transmatted down to the planet's surface. They'll find themselves on the other side of the planet, far from the Trakenite settlement and from your base of operations." She lifted her tunic and removed the narrow, flat piece of metal that had been lying against it — he hadn't even noticed it when she came in. "It was a good thing your guards didn't do a more thorough search of my person, or else they'd have found this." She turned it over and revealed the myriad of microcircuits and touch controls hurriedly fused into the metal. "It's also a good thing they took their time coming to retrieve me, or else I would never have been able to make this remote control pad."


       Myson smiled ruefully. "Your ingenuity is everything that it was rumoured to be, Nyssa. Travis spoke highly of you, even as he was preparing to betray you. I should have anticipated that you would do something like this." He watched her face for a reaction and was surprised to find none. He went on. "But from everything I've heard about you, I also know you're not the type to gloat. Why tell me all this?"


       "Because I can just as easily use this device to transmat anything else off this ship to anywhere else." She tapped the metal plate quickly several times. "I wouldn't move, if I were you. The transmat controls are now set to send you out into space if you move again. I will use it if I must." Her blue eyes narrowed as she moved towards him. "I'm not a person given to violent behaviour, Mr. Myson, but it's been a very difficult day. Now, tell me — what is really going on here?" "Tell you what, Nyssa of Traken," he purred. "Tell me what you've been told is going on here, and I'll tell you how far you've been misled."


       Myson smiled, and she came close to sending him into space anyway.


* * *


Travis found himself falling through the nothingness between worlds as the power of the Keeper Machine surged through him. The glowing gateway he had stepped through faded behind him, and in an instant he realized what it felt like to be a god. He sensed the Keeper Machine stabilizing him within the nothingness so that he would never need a chair, never need anything except for the ability to access the Source. Had it not been for the alterations the Circle had made to him, months ago when he first visited the planet, he would never have been able to access it all properly.


       He frowned at the piddling amount of power currently available in the Source — the mere core of one unstable planet would never be enough to do the things he had envisioned. Once the Crucible was lowered into the core, though, the planet would be transformed into a black hole, and the Source would be able to draw energy from other universes, other worlds. It would be glorious. HE would be glorious.


       And then the conditioning kicked in.


       He had only a moment to curse Lynalla and the Circle both before his free will ebbed away. His preprogrammed instructions sent him hurtling back into real space, in search of the one who had programmed him.


* * *


Lynalla was not completely surprised when a glassy-eyed Travis materialized in front of her. She had a feeling that he would get the Keeper Machine hooked up in due course, and once he had the limited power he would come in search of her, to turn it over to the Circle. Good thing the power of the planet's core was so limited, or else this gambit would not have worked.


       Lynalla walked over and stroked his stony cheek. "Poor man. I know that somewhere deep down inside that handsome face of yours, you must be wanting very desperately to kill me. But you should have known you couldn't trust the Circle." She turned away from him. "I knew better. I knew that once Myson got his hands on this technology, he wouldn't use it to help those people on the surface. The Circle isn't much for altruism, and even though he'd get to keep all the power afterwards, he'd never help any of them. He'd leave them all to die. But you and I can change that... we can use the power that's already here to save them, before he destroys the planet."


       She opened her mouth to say more, but then the conditioning kicked in.


       Travis stiffly moved towards her, swept her up into his arms, and then winked out of existence.


* * *


"What your dear Travis told you was only half-right, Nyssa of Traken. This planet is dying. The collapse of its core is draining the bio-energy from its surface, including that of your remaining people. We have been working here for over a year. We did need the Keeper Machine to harness the planet's remaining energy.


       "What he did not tell you was that we wanted to use the transformational powers of the Keeper Machine in tandem with the Crucible to create a stable black hole. I'm sure that you, having visited Gallifrey, are familiar with the concept. The Gallifreyans think of themselves as Lords of Time, but anyone with the right equipment and the technical know-how can pull off Godhood.


       "Your own people came closest to it of any race in the Universe, but they swerved away from the path of power for its own sake and decided to be... terribly nice to one another. How quaint of them. And what a waste. You do realize, don't you, that had you actually went the path of the Time Lords, even your old friend the Doctor wouldn't have hesitated to help destroy Traken?


       "Even in the end, after that ridiculous incident with the Doctor's rival — oh, what is that ridiculous man's name? Ah, yes — Master. Why they go in for all these titles, I shall never know... Anyway, even after that, your people never realized the power they had. That fool Luvik was said to have panicked when the entropy waves began sweeping over Traken. He could have evacuated the entire populace using his power, but he only managed to save the handful that are the ancestors of these people before the Source failed and he died with his beloved Union.


       "They told me the story later, of course, when I came here with the Circle to investigate the changes in the planet and how they could be used to our advantage. I gather your friend Fergurson is still upset with me about leaving... other affairs behind to do so. I had contacted Travis by then, without your knowledge, to find out if the Terminus Foundation could help the people here. Or at very least, get rid of them for us. What a coincidence to find that he knew the woman who believed herself the last survivor of the Traken Union — and to find her all the raw materials necessary to create a new Source. And new Keepers.


       "You seem surprised at my use of the plural, my dear... You've probably heard of our experiments in duplication and gene splicing. That foolish girl Lynalla truly believes we're doing all this to make the people above stronger, so that they can tap into the new Source and transform themselves back into strong and healthy Trakenites. She has no idea that she, too, has been duplicated — or rather, she probably does now. You see, when the Source is on- line, she will take her place as one of my puppets, one of my angels of power. She will become a Keeper, as will all my workers, and she will lead them out in the Universe to dominate and conquer.


       "You see, they're all duplicates, whether they think so or not. Even the Trakenites. The scientists think the duplicates are unstable, but only that fool you worked with was unstable. No one falls under my power without being duplicated, Nyssa of Traken. No one.


* * *


In another part of time and space, or more accurately, outside of them both, the shadowy figure of Tarkhal watched Nyssa and Myson on his view screen. "Oh, dear," he murmured. "It's all getting a bit complicated, isn't it?" He turned to the console of his stolen TARDIS and changed the coordinate program. "Karklae, let's do something about this."


       "Are you sure we should?" Karklae replied. "We'll be breaking several more laws of Time by getting involved like this..."


       "Yeah, I know. I'm sure a Time Lord would get in trouble for doing this... but then I'm not a Time Lord, am I?" He winked at the ceiling, knowing that she would see it.


       She responded by shifting herself to the destination that he had programmed.


* * *


The scene outside the ship was chaos.


       Captain Baluchard could hear the sounds of the natives battering the hull, trying to break their way through. They had used something in the night to break down the hull integrity, and now whatever it was had eaten enough of the hull away that he could see the points of their weapons chipping away at the weakened metal. He couldn't understand it — Travis had said that all they wanted was the Keeper Machine, and he'd taken it away already. Why were they attacking like this?


       Baluchard had wanted to attempt a take-off, but Kurnitz told him the engines still needed some delicate adjustments made before they could do anything. To stave off the natives, he had ordered nearly his entire crew to form a line of defence within the outermost hull, each of them armed with the heaviest weapons on board. As he prepared to fire at the first native to get through the hull, he kept wiping his right hand nervously on his uniform jacket, feeling as if some part of Solax were still clinging to him.


       Suddenly, it all stopped. He listened carefully for any sounds — some of the holes in the hull were large enough that he could hear the wind whistling outside. The only other thing he could hear was the sound of footsteps moving slowly away.


       Time to take even more risk, he thought.


       Slowly he moved to the main hatch control and, without running a scan for what was outside, opened the doorway.


       Already far into the distance, the natives were moving quickly away in a straight line, their movements jerky and stiff.


       Kurnitz moved up behind him and casually rested his weapon on his shoulder, as if it were a shovel. "I'll be damned. Why did they stop? And where are they all headed?"


       Baluchard frowned. "Let's find out. Security detail! You're with me. Let's track these people and find out what's going on."


* * *


"All of your Trakenite brothers and sisters should be on their way to the Crucible by now, ready to step into the portal and take their place amongst my minions. It should be quite a sight. They can all sense that the new Source is on-line by now, especially with the adjustments I've made to their system. I'm surprised you aren't feeling something by now yourself."


       Nyssa's mouth went dry. She had felt odd ever since she activated the Keeper Machine, and the experience was very similar to the feeling that she used to get whenever the Keeper was about to appear. She also felt a tug, a need to go somewhere — and then it hit her.


       No one falls under my power without being duplicated, he had said. No one.


       She began to shake with anger and fear, nearly dropping the control plate.


       "You... you duplicated ME..."


       "But of course I did!" He spread his hands wide, as if it were a silly question. "Lynalla had her instructions, which were to duplicate you as soon as she caught you! She had similar instructions to duplicate Travis, but I'm sure she thought it was her own idea. She even thinks she's had a whole string of failures with the duplication process, just to make sure she makes as many new people as I need. You see, Nyssa, I don't allow anyone in my organization to know the whole story — it simply wouldn't be as fun. But I couldn't use the full treatment on you and turn you into a mindless vegetable, as the duplicates of Lynalla and Travis no doubt have become. I needed that vast intelligence intact.


       "I did have her put in a few safeguards, though. Go ahead, Nyssa — send me out into the cold, cold beyond. I dare you."


       Nyssa's face contorted in fury, and she surprised herself when her hand immediately went for the button that would kill this man. It was more of a surprise when she found that while her brain had told her hand to do so, her hand would do no such thing. It shook above the button helplessly as she watched it.


       "An adaptation of the Asimov principles used on Old Earth," he explained, smiling at her angry face. "You can't harm me or allow harm to come to me. Therefore, your threat is an empty one. Nothing in the world can stop me now." Then he coughed and flushed slightly. "Sorry, didn't mean to say that. Force of habit."


* * *


Karklae materialized in Lab 5, just in front of the wall terminal that Lynalla's technicians had used to program Travis' duplicate. Karklae had taken the form of Lynalla, just in case anyone was around to wonder what she was doing, but everyone seemed to have gone. "It's safe to come out now," she murmured.


       The front of her body opened, and Tarkhal stepped out in a blaze of light. The portal immediately closed behind him, and without turning to acknowledge Karklae he began to work hurriedly at the controls.


       As he worked, Karklae looked with genuine interest at the transparent coffin sitting on top of the particle decompiler. A blinding light lit up one end of the coffin, which then moved from one end of the coffin to the other. In its wake, the light left behind a body. Karklae recognized her from her scanner — it was Nyssa.


       The light disappeared, and the figure in the coffin took a deep breath.


       "She's still unconscious, but she won't stay that way for long," Tarkhal whispered. "I've removed all the programming they used on her — she's exactly the same as she was before being duplicated." He moved quickly to the coffin, lifted the lid, and in the same gentle whisper said, "Nyssa. Time to wake up and correct your mistakes...


* * *


Travis and Lynalla stood on each side of the portal leading into the Crucible and watched glassily as all the workers on the site passed into the light one by one. Every single man, woman, and child in the base, from the highest technician to the lowliest security guard, lined up to step into the light and join with the Source.


       Soon the Trakenites would be joining them, just as soon as they found the entrance portal which Travis had left open for them. Everything was going according to plan, and even though it was not his own plan, Travis could not help but feel pleased. But then again, he could feel anything but what he was programmed to feel.


* * *


Captain Baluchard and his security team followed the natives across the desert to what seemed like a steep incline leading underground. As he watched from a distance, he saw that everyone from the entire town, even down to the most invalid, was filing down into the ground as if they had heard a siren's call. Several of his men shifted uneasily, obviously ready to fight or to shoot something, but he signalled them to wait.


       The last of the natives finally vanished out of sight, and the entryway remained open.


       "OK," he said. "Let's go."


* * *


Nyssa woke up in a cold glass coffin and coughed. The last thing she remembered were some technicians injecting her with some sort of drug, and then nothing. She thought someone had been whispering in her ear, but there was no one in the room now.


       She cautiously got up out of the device — she immediately recognized the particle decompiler — and looked around. The entire area was deserted. Shaking her head to try to get rid of her confusion, she moved over to the control panel and brought up the system menus. Someone had recently reconstructed her, it seemed — she tried not to shudder at the idea that she had been decompiled and possibly duplicated — but there was no user ID, no record of who had done it. It was as if someone had hacked into the system, recompiled her, and then left the system on-line and logged in.


       A red icon was blinking beside one folder in the protected system files, with a message typed underneath:


       CORRECT YOUR MISTAKE -- T.


       She hacked her way into the protected folder with practiced ease. There, she found a listing of decompiled DNA profiles, with the name "TRAVIS" heading up the list and her own immediately before it. So, he was still here. Was her mistake trusting him in the first place? She considered deleting the file outright, but she wanted to know the whole story before she did so. She'd deal with him later, she decided.


       She scrolled down the list quickly, amazed at the sheer number of names and DNA profiles. She noticed that, apart from hers, most of the DNA profiles were either Earth human, Earth Reptile, or Delvian. She hadn't seen that many non-humanoids in the base when she'd been brought down here, and each time a DNA profile deviated from the rest, she could remember having seen a member of that race.


       Then she hit a long list of profiles that deviated completely from the rest. It took her a moment to get over her shock and register what she was seeing. The profiles were Trakenite. She scrolled further down and found the names "GABREL," "MATEM," and "LUEN."


       How could she have not seen it before? The natives were Trakenites. How, she didn't know. Perhaps Luvik had gotten some of them away before the entropy wave destroyed them all, but they were here now. The original survivors had probably come here centuries ago, or else she'd have heard about them.


       Now, she just had to figure out what else had been going on while she'd been out of commission.


---
To be concluded...



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