|Doctor Who Companion Internet Adventure #06 - "New Traken"
"His Name Is Tarkhal"
by Jason Rubin
Nyssa stood, watching as Arden was carried away. She lowered her head in sorrow. Why was her life like this? Why couldn't things ever go as she wanted?
"I'm getting too old for this sort of thing," she said. With that, she raised her head and saw the world that lay before her.
Something about this world didn't seem quite right to her; she was no longer seeing what had been there a few minutes before with Alex and everyone else. There was... it couldn't be...
"Splendid!" yelled a man from ten feet in front of her. "Nyssa, glad you could make it. I'm so happy you're here." The man was wearing a black tuxedo with a red bow tie. He was very tall and thin, and had a thick, dark-brown moustache and a shiny bald head. Although he was bald, his face looked very very young. Nothing seemed the least bit wrong with him, but one thing bothered Nyssa — his eyes were the deepest green she had ever seen.
"May I take this dance?" he said with a gesture of his hand.
Nyssa looked at the surroundings before her. She was in a gigantic ballroom with crystal chandeliers, an orchestra playing on a stage, and beautiful flowers on every table. She was at a party! This was certainly strange. Then she looked at herself — she was wearing a gorgeous white dress. That was puzzling...
"Where am I, and who are you?" she demanded from the man.
With a smile the man cried out, "In heaven! Glorious heaven to all! Nyssa, my dear, since I made an error with Karklae's temporal freeze system, we're stuck here for about 20 minutes, I shall tell you."
"What?" Nyssa cried.
The man put a single index finger to her lips. "Hush now," he said. "I won't tell you anything until you dance this one dance with me."
Nyssa was in no mood for arguing. She needed to know what all this was about. Plus, after careful examination, this man did not seem to be a threat (although she knew that a superficial judgement was not always true). For some strange reason, though, she felt she could trust him. She decided to play along anyway.
The dance was extremely long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes at most. He was graceful and steady with every move he made while they danced, but still, there was something about this man that was strange, but that she somehow liked. He was very mysterious, but kind. Something about him seemed so familiar. Why did he seem so familiar?
After the dance was over he led Nyssa to a table with white silk cloth and a bouquet of roses of every color of the rainbow. He took the chair where Nyssa was to sit and helped her onto it. Then he sat down himself.
"Nyssa, let me tell you about myself. My name is Tarkhal. I am from the planet Jameen. I have some very important things to tell you."
Nyssa gave him a quizzical look, then replied, "Jameen. That planet was destroyed when I was just a little girl! I remember that planet. It was one of the few vacation planets in our sector of the universe. Very expensive to stay at. But you look far to young to be from that planet. Who are you really?"
The man smiled again. "You're very smart, Nyssa. Let me tell you a little story. During the period when the Time Lords had just discovered how to travel through time, my home planet was just discovering time's secrets. The Time Lords did not want anyone else to discover the secrets of time, so they tried to destroy our world. Unfortunately for them, they hadn't worked out all the kinks of time travel yet and weren't able to destroy us so easily.
"I worked as a spy for my planet during the War of Time, as this period was later called. I stole a TARDIS unit from the Time Lords on Gallifrey when I was on a mission, and escaped from everything. You see, I had no choice — my planet knew it would lose, but still continued to fight. They possibly could have used my stolen TARDIS to help win the war, but I was too young to understand what I should do, and I was afraid. The Time Lords defeated us, and erased us from time. I managed to escape because I was travelling through time when they did this. Don't ask me to explain. Someone from your species wouldn't understand.
"Yes, this does mean that I'm most likely the only one of my kind left. I won't give up hope, though. One day I might find someone who did what I did. Probably not, but you never know. All you really need to know is that I own a TARDIS and escaped to Jameen during their civil war. When I landed there, I came across a group of farmers who took me in and 'nicely' sent me off to war. Yes, that's a long story, so don't ask."
Nyssa stared at the man, puzzled, again. "Why didn't you escape from the farmers and find somewhere else to go to?"
"That's the problem. Karklae, my TARDIS, broke down, and repairs were needed. I was stuck. I didn't tell the farmers my real name. For a long time they thought that I was a mute. So anyway, they named me Tarkhal, and I've been using that name for hundreds of years now."
Nyssa's eyes widened. "But you don't look a day over thirty!" she exclaimed.
"My home planet was well aware of the regenerative abilities of the Time Lords, so we mimicked their findings and made ourselves regenerative. Our bodies' make-up allows us to regenerate exactly 19 times. You can see why the Time Lords wanted us destroyed so badly. They were afraid of us and what we might do if we won the War of Time — which was unlikely anyway."
"I don't understand three things. Number one, Tarkhal, I recognize that. It's not a name; it's a phrase that the Jameenians use isn't, it? Secondly, how do you know my name? Lastly, what does all this have to do with me?"
"The answer to your first question is yes; in our language, Tarkhal literally means "fat pig". In one of my earlier generations, I was, how shall I say it, a little overweight. I don't mind that name, though, and don't ask why — that's another long story. Most people don't speak Jameenian, anyway. In fact, you're the first person other than me who's not Jameenian to have figured that out. Congratulations
"Secondly, I'm a very good friend of the Doctor's. Our paths have crossed many times. I knew you because I've actually met you before, but you wouldn't remember. Different body, different fake name, you know, the works. There really isn't time to talk about it. Maybe one day we can get together and talk about it over a nice cup of tea, but anyway... There is a most important reason why I am contacting you right now."
"And that is?"
"You made a major mistake in your past. It could have been two minutes ago, it could have been two minutes after you were born. You get the drift. When you made this mistake, I cannot say. Even I have to abide by the some of the rules of time. By telling you this, I will alter history, hopefully for the better. Thankfully, this mistake can be corrected. All I can say is that without correcting this mistake, many lives will be lost."
Nyssa and Tarkhal sat staring at each other for a good three minutes before a woman's voice came from out of the blue: "Simulation ending in two minutes."
Tarkhal stood up and put his arms on Nyssa's shoulders. "Good luck, my dear. May we meet again someday." With that, he started to walk away through the dancing crowd.
Nyssa sat staring into the table's white silk cloth in disbelief for a few minutes. Suddenly, she had the urge to want to help. She needed to do whatever she could to prevent anything bad from happening. "Wait!!!" Nyssa cried. "I need to know more. Please, Tarkhal, tell me more. Does this have something to do with New Traken?" Nyssa ran thoughtlessly through the crowd, pushing and shoving. She tried to reach Tarkhal, but he was just too far away at this point.
Karklae's voice came again. "Simulation ending now."
To be continued...
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