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Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #23 - "False Life"


Chapter 7 – Part 1
"Alpha and Omega"
by Tony Whitt


---


"I am the Ending, and my twin is the Beginning."


       "I see," said the Doctor. "Now why would he do that?"


       The man spread his arms wide, indicating the Roach creatures. The energy spoke again. "These creatures were, for centuries, the only source of our subsistence. Psychic energy. From them, we got the power to do virtually anything."


       "Aha!" the Doctor said, snapping his fingers. "So if you have the power to create a space/time warp from the remnants of energy that these creatures must give off..."


       "Then your powers must be increased immensely by using fresher psychic energy," Romana concluded.


       "This is why you must stop my twin, Time Lords. Because if it is not, it shall drain the psychic energy from every living being until the Universe itself is dead."


* * *


"I say," said the Doctor, "that's a fairly large leap to make, isn't it? How could your twin do something like that? And why is 'he' suddenly an 'it'?"


       The man frowned. "My twin no longer counts as 'human,' any more than I do. You've seen what the addition of random elements into the gestalt does to those within it. Your very presence has made me into a demi-Time Lord, just as the presence of these creatures have infected my twin at the Beginning."


       The Doctor put his face in his hands and gave a long sigh. "Let¹s start all over again, from the beginning, shall we? No pun intended."


       The man then sighed in return and began his story, "from the top," as it were:


* * *


Once upon a time there was a planet called Paradise. In the past, it lived up to its name, so much so that scores of alien races paid the planet a visit, many of whom were deadly enemies of one another. But there was something about the planet that kept them from bothering one another. There was something about the planet that no one knew about, except for Judge Bertram Gorelli.


       When he was a younger man, in addition to being a lawyer and a legal expert, Gorelli was the legal advisor for a team of researchers working for a government facility. The researchers were fascinated by the effects of their planet on the mind, as well as by the fact that no crimes had ever been committed there since the human colony had been established. They had conducted all manner of experiments on the air, the water, the planetary radiation, to determine what, if anything, made Paradise such a paradise.


       Eventually they decided to check the soil. That was their first mistake.


       The creatures in the soil were unique. They not only produced natural waves of psychic energy which cancelled negative thoughts and feelings, they also had an unusual ability to alter time. Researchers noticed that bits of food and other objects placed in the cages of the creatures would either decay rapidly or revert back to its earliest states. They decided to alter the creatures, to see what would happen if they could harness both the psychic energy and the temporal shifting ability.


       That was their second mistake.


       The few survivors of the resulting explosion included Gorelli, but a very changed Gorelli. He and the rest of the survivors turned their back on the research or so everyone believed and turned their attentions to building a new justice system on the planet which would take advantage of the twin planet which had suddenly and spectacularly appeared closer to the sun. A planetary survey was sent to the new world and returned with some startling information about it, information given to them by the insect creatures which roamed across its surface. But by the time they returned, Gorelli had already introduced the creatures which now lived beneath his skin forebears of those larger and more mature creatures which had warned the survey to various members of the government. The ship's crew was sent back to the newly named Paradise-2, the first of many prisoners sent there under the new, far stricter laws of Paradise-1's regime laws which no one seemed to notice at all, until they were sentenced under them. Nor did anyone seem to notice how long the Judge had been serving, how he'd been elected, or even how often people were being convicted for crimes they supposedly committed when they were elsewhere.


       The immature creatures had formed a gestalt, and influenced by the inner desires of the men they inhabited, men who had become decadent from living on a world without crime or fear, they wanted more. They inspired their hosts to create an alternate reality net for the prisoners sent to Paradise-2, one which would use the psychic energy of the mature creatures living there to keep the prisoners in their dream worlds while their bodies slowly roasted. Slowly, because the second group of prisoners sent to Paradise-2 were Salamandoids, with that race's ability to endure heat over long periods of time.


* * *


Romana's eyes widened. "So each race sent to this planet inadvertently contributed its own abilities to the gestalt, just by being linked to it?" she asked.


       The man nodded his head solemnly. "And to the other prisoners," he replied. "The ones who remained alive, that is. I was the first recipient of the Salamandoids' heat resistance, but as you saw when you arrived, it was almost too late. My body had already been ravaged by the heat my twin had not had his minions set up heat-resistance cells for the prisoners yet. A typical oversight on his part. But the infusion of their resistance kept my body from deteriorating further, so that the only thing that truly suffered was my mind. I believed I was a prisoner at first, sent here by the Judge as so many others had been, without a trial and without being told what my crime was I did not know I was receiving the thoughts of all those prisoners within the gestalt." He smiled. "I'm better now."


       The Doctor, meanwhile, had been pacing up and down the console room furiously. He stopped and whirled to look at the man, nearly overbalancing and falling over in the process. "But this is appalling!" he shouted. "If I'm reading you right, your twin must be planning to extend the increasing space/time warp between these two planets outwards, to extend the powers of the gestalt! If they extend their gestalt beyond this planet, then nothing could stop them!"


       "No, Doctor, nothing could stop them, except for you. You must stop my twin."


       The Doctor stared at him. "And how do you propose I do that?"


       "By simply staying here," the man replied, and smiled again. "As soon as you and your companion were brought into the gestalt, an alternate time sense was introduced, and the temporal discontinuity between the two worlds was worsened. No one on Paradise-1 had ever noticed the travesties of justice the Judge had committed, until you came along and your defence attorney whom you've met and haven't met, by the way was able to see it for the first time. That discontinuity is increasing, especially now that your defence attorney is part of the dreamscape. Your abilities as Time Lords to perceive Time in a special way, one similar to that of our friends out there, disrupted the immature creatures' hold on our populace. Soon more and more people will notice what has been happening, and everything will stop."


       "You seem awfully well informed for someone whose skin was melting away only a little while ago," the Doctor said. But then he rubbed his nose and grinned. "You know, though, I think everything's finally making sense."


       "Is it?" Romana said with a frown. "Maybe you wouldn't mind explaining it to me when you have a few centuries to spare, then."


       "Don't you see it already? Our time sense isn't compatible with that of the immature creatures down there and back then on Paradise-1 but it works with the mature creatures here and now on Paradise-2. Though," he said with an even broader grin, keeping his eye on Romana, "if that's called Paradise-1, this place should really be called Paradise Lost!" His face fell when she merely frowned in response. "No? You don't think so? Oh, well, I liked it, anyway." He raised his hand and started ticking off his fingers. "We land here, get zapped into the Judge's dreamworld gestalt somehow, the mature creatures' time sense sends part of those fantasy images back through time to our prior selves, hence resulting in our conversations about our relationship..."


       "Yes," Romana drawled, running a tired hand through her hair, "I did think that was rather odd, me considering a relationship with you..."


       "...and making a mess of K-9, who has no time sense at all. Hang on, why would having a relationship with me be so odd? Hmm?"


       The man ignored the Doctor's attack of indignation and said, "The effect you've just described is continuing to move backwards through Time even as we speak. Your special relationship to time is slowly pervading the gestalt, even at the Beginning, and soon the entire temporal system will collapse in on itself. The creatures outside are now acknowledging me as the control which will bring the convergence back together, and they recognize you as the factor which has allowed me to realize what I must do. They are pushing the temporal discontinuity backwards, shaping the events that will lead these two planets to become one again. All you must truly do, Doctor, is stay here. For a brief while longer."


       "Well, it's nice to know my presence is so sought after," the Doctor muttered, "but I really don't see how-- ow!" He clutched his head and winced, even as Romana did the same. The pain subsided, and the Doctor looked up at the man again. "Look, old thing, while we're in a reminiscent mood, perhaps you wouldn't mind explaining what's causing all this pain, or these bizarre flashes we've been having?"


       "Oh, yes," the man replied, "that was the other thing I'd been meaning to tell you."


* * *


Vvoxx and Maffew had carefully made their way back to the control centre, where the readings were going ever so slightly haywire.


       "What's causing this?" Maffew asked, tapping a button and looking at the resulting data stream. "According to this, the Doctor's pattern inside the gestalt is equalizing to his pattern outside it!"


       Vvoxx's eyes widened. "That's not possible! That would mean that his real self is aware of his dream self's existence and vice versa! How could that have happened?"


       "To hell with that," Maffew replied. He bit his lower lip and looked up at Vvoxx. "The question now is, what sort of effect is that going to have on the gestalt?"


       Vvoxx was about to reply when something on the boards caught his attention. He tapped a few keys to bring up one figure, then checked it against another one. "Maffew," he muttered, "why are there suddenly one hundred and seventy-five more prisoners in the gestalt than there were an hour ago?"


       "What?" Maffew shoved Vvoxx out of the way to look at the numbers, but Vvoxx was too stunned to take offence. He watched as Maffew brought up the numbers again, then brought up a figure from several hours before. Then he turned and stared at Vvoxx for a long moment, so long, in fact, that Vvoxx finally whispered, "What is it?"


       Maffew's voice was equally quiet when he replied. "Vvoxx, do you ever remember checking these numbers before?"


       Vvoxx was about to snap at Maffew in response, something about always being conscientious in his duties or some other such empty retort, but the question caught him off guard. He thought about it for a full minute before Maffew saw his face go pale. "No," he replied, "no, I don¹t. Do you?"


       "No!" Maffew hissed. "I'm surprised I even knew how to do it! Aren't we supposed to be doing that every time a prisoner is transferred?"


       "Well, of course we are, but..." Maffew didn't think it was possible for Vvoxx to go paler, but he did. "Maffew, do you remember the last time we had a transfer?"


       Now it was Maffew's turn to think. Finally he slowly shook his head. "I can't remember EVER getting a transfer. Good gods, how have they all been getting here?"


       "And more to the point," said Vvoxx, sounding less fearful and more angry by the moment, "what have we been doing up here all this time?"


* * *


All over Paradise-1, both inhabitants and vacationers alike experienced an odd sensation, as if they'd been asleep for a very long time and were just now waking up. A Sontaran woke up on a beach towel beside the Rutan he'd been chatting amiably with about the war between their two races just ten minutes before and pummelled it to death, electrocuting himself in the process. A city street was sent into disarray as the Dalek that had been gliding slowly along it, minding its own business, suddenly remembered what its business actually was and started exterminating people left and right. The note of panic in its ongoing cries of "Exterminate!" were far too obvious to on-lookers not that they could adequately reflect upon it as they too were panicking. Those scores of alien races paying the planet a visit, many of whom were deadly enemies of one another, were now remembering that they were deadly enemies of one another, creating utter chaos in the streets, on the beaches, in private homes.


       Many people wondered where the law enforcers were and why this monsters weren't being rounded up and sent straight to Paradise-2. Then people began to wonder about that: how it was done, why they'd never seen it happen, why it took such a short time, and how sentence was often carried out before the accused was even tried. Every inconsistency they'd never noticed before came crashing home to them in that moment, and they were not happy.


       They weren't the only ones, of course.


* * *


The lone figure still sat in the centre of a web of televisions, images from Paradise flickering on the walls before, beside, behind and above. But his skin no longer crawled with anticipation. The plan he'd planned out and had planned for him was suddenly, spectacularly, going wrong.


       One of the screens beeped in front of him. The image changed to show two of his assistants, two researchers from the lab who shared his link with Them, the same two researchers who had used morphing masks to impersonate the Doctor and his companion Romana -- when was that? Gorelli realized with a shock that he suddenly could not remember when the sentencing had been carried out, and realized with a further shock that his time sense was slowly dissipating. The heady winds of Futuretime were quickly turning to gale force winds, blowing dust and decay.


       He wrenched his attention from his failing time sense and looked at the two young people though they'd only really been young a hundred years ago, when all three of them and the rest of the researchers had stopped aging. "Yes?" he snapped.


       "Do you feel it?" said the faux Doctor Gorelli had forgotten the chap's name at the moment. "The gestalt is shifting!"


       "Yes, I can feel it," he growled. "Why are you calling me about it? Why aren't you out getting new producers for the gestalt? We've got to keep it strong so that we can create the warp!"


       "We've been trying," replied the faux Romana again, Gorelli could not remember her name, and again, he didn't notice his forgetfulness or its implications "but we were noticed the last time, and we've been on the run! The law enforcers are noticing everything now, including the time stamp discrepancies!"


       Gorelli pounded the arm of his chair with his fist. "Those damned Time Lords," he muttered. "They've somehow corrupted the gestalt."


       "What... what do WE do?" the faux Doctor asked, but Gorelli had completely forgotten him at this point. He flicked off the screen just as a mob of law enforcers came up behind the couple and pummelled them to the ground.


       Gorelli flipped another switch and looked at the figures for the trial courts. All over the planet, his off-shoots the Judges that none of the people had noticed looked exactly like each other presided before empty courts, unable to immediately transfer any new producers into the gestalt. Their time senses were fading, too, and he would lose them if he didn't draw them back into himself now.


       He reached out with what little power They could still give him and drew the slices of his personal time stream back into himself. If the gestalt could not provide the power for the time/space warp, then he would have to do it himself. Slowly he felt the power build.


---
To be concluded...



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