We resumed the game with Phillipa hearing a voice from within the TARDIS. The only word she could discern was ‘Inspector’. Cautiously she put her head through the open doorway and saw that the interior of the time machine had changed.
While the central console was still there the reset of the room was now made of stone, columns and arches reaching up high above her. Ravens sat on the rafters, taking flight when disturbed. Stone stairs ascended towards upper levels that had previously not existed.
Dried leaves were blown across the ground by gusts of wind bellowing out of long twisting corridors. Dark vines covered the console, creating a network while small creatures darted in and out of the long shadows. Phillipa was disturbed by the change and the apparent age that had passed since anyone had been there.
The source of the voice was a blue hologram of a Time Lord (Phillipa recognised his robes and collar from the clothes that the first incarnation of the Inspector had been wearing during House of Mirrors).
“Inspector, you are being recalled to the home world. You can not ignore this summons. Inspector…” the hologram said, repeating the same sentence over and over again.
“He isn’t here,” Phillipa said, not quite understanding that it was repeating message.
After a moment the hologram synched up with her time and the Time Lord was able to speak with her. He explained that he was called Regis and that it was typical that when the Inspector had to uphold his end of the bargain he was no where to be found.
The TARDIS controls were activated remotely and Phillipa was disheartened that she was leaving the 1930s. She’d come to like the town of Haymaker and thought of Deputy Miller as her friend and maybe something more. Yet here she was, being whisked away to an alien world.
The journey through the vortex was uncomfortable, often feeling like the TARDIS was falling rather than flying. With a thud the time machine materialised on a landing bay, a transparent dome revealing the rolling red hills and orange sky.
Regis was there to meet her, flanked by guards. Technicians rushed to inspect and examine the ailing TARDIS. Phillipa was concerned about the colour of the vehicle and Regis explained that all time capsules were experiencing the same malfunction intheir chameleon circuits.
Regis led Phillipa through the citadel corridors remarking that as an outsider she was lucky to be there. Phillipa noted the number of Time Lords rushing about, arms filled with books, reports and scrolls. The lights would frequently dim as if there was an enormous power drain. Regis explained that there was a crisis and took her into the War Room.
Borrowing from Lawrence Miles’ ‘Book of War’ the Time Lords were gathered round a map of the universe, the stars showing not their relative position but their importance to history. The more important they were the closer they were to the centre, where Gallifrey currently resided.
Phillipa could see that all the planets were on the outer rim of the circular map, leaving a huge black void around the home world of the Time Lords. Regis said that something was diminishing the importance of other worlds but their scholars couldn’t find the source. It was like fighting an invisible enemy, the space between stars.
Things had come to a head when Gallifrey itself drifted two milometers from the galactic centre, something that has never happened. They had contacted other free agents to investigate but the Time Lords felt that the Inspector might have some insight into what was happening. They had no choice but to ask Phillipa to see if she could stop what was happening.
Worried that she wouldn’t be able to do so without help Phillipa was reassured by Regis that she wouldn’t go alone. Led into another room she was fitted with a bracelet that projected a life sized image of the Inspector.
The keeper of the Matrix entered. Using the golden staff of his office he was able to download the Inspectors memories into the bracelet. They explained that they’d taken them from the TARDIS, which only went up to the point he vanished from the 1930s, probably due to his mind being suppressed by the Roach.
The Inspector hologram was none to pleased by his virtual nature, but before he could protest at this indignity Phillipa found the off-switch on the bracelet. She departed in the TARDIS, the ship following its pre-programmed route.
Again the flight was not smooth, the vessel feeling as it was taking sharp right turns without consideration of the occupants. She reactivated the Inspector hologram who was able to make the movement through time and space much more gentle.
Arriving at their destination Phillipa emerged, wanting to discover where she was for herself, rather than consulting the TARDIS. Emerging she found herself on the busy colony world of Talis in the year 3999.
People wore bright neon clothes and between the tall buildings she could see purple mountains, surrounded by factories. Blimps floated in the sky, welcoming all new arrivals to the colony.
Deciding that she should find out more about the place and if there were any recent problems that the Inspector might have got himself involved in Phillipa headed for a News Booth where a holographic newsreader brought her up to date on local events.
After a brief advert for Dark Sun Travel she learnt about the accusations made against the Empty Men, a group where people gave up their identity. They’d been blamed for bomb attacks on the Orientation centre (where new colonists adjusted to being on the world) and the hospital.
Month old news footage of the Empty Men showed the Inspector among those trying to join the group. Phillipa consulted with the holographic Inspector who was unable to explain why the real version of himself would have been involved with them.
Phillipa decided the only way to get to the truth was to join herself.
To be Continued…