The Darkest Sun, Part 3

medium_black_hole_milkywayTrapped, the time travellers stalled while they considered their options. The holographic Inspector gave Phillipa a set of co-ordinates to put into the Time Agent wrist band while he distracted Maigelus.

The holographic Inspector accused him of being in league with the Black Guardian and wanting to destroy the universe. Maigelus said he had no idea what the Inspector was talking about and claimed his calculations (which had come to him in a dream) confirmed that his plan for instant travel would work.

He gladly admitted to torturing the Time Lord. The cost of his life was unfortunate but would only need to be done once. Maigelus was prepared to make that sacrifice. The holographic Inspector shouted that it was his life he’d sacrificed, stunning Maigelus.

The space station suddenly rocked as it entered the black hole and the holographic Inspector told Phillipa to activated the wrist band. It teleported them to what appeared to be a white void but was actually just Mr Dove’s quarters, just as the hologram had planned.

Mr Dove was packing his suitcase, announcing that the moment had arrived. It was time for he and Mr Raven to depart. Before he left Phillipa said she’d decided to accept his gift. He gave her a small glowing box, containing life. He explained it was her life, to do with as she wished but she had to be careful, she only had one life to give.

The space station shook again and Phillipa found that Mr Dove had vanished. Slipping the box into her pocket she ran to the observation deck where Maigelus was trying to calm the crowd.

The holographic Inspector berated him, saying he’d doomed the universe. Phillipa persuaded Lord Galen that the Draconian empire was at risk and Maigelus was restrained. Still he protested his innocence saying that his calculations had taken into account every black hole in the regions of space they were travelling through. Unless one had suddenly appeared in the last month then there was no danger.

Now the burden of proof was on the time travellers. Did they know of any black holes that had suddenly appeared? After several prompts they finally recalled that Talis had been consumed by a black hole.

With this piece of information Maigelus panicked, realising that the network of black holes would collapse. In order to stabilize it they’d need a lot more energy. He also suggested they could destroy the station, which he was against, but the Inspector dismissed this suggestion.  Grimly the holographic Inspector said he’d have to sacrifice his life again.

Descending back into the workings of the space station Phillipa approached the dead Time Lord. Praying that it would work she placed the glowing cube, which felt like a warm summer’s day, on his chest.

It sunk into his body, his skin shimmering as he began to regenerate. They couldn’t yet see what his facial features were like but they explained to him they needed him to use the regeneration energy to save the universe. Maigelus was about to attach the chains to the Time Lord but the holographic Inspector snapped that ‘he’ should be allowed to do it himself.

With Phillipa’s help the Time Lord walked towards the circle of energy.

“You’ve given your life for me Phillipa. It is only fair I give mine for yours,’ he whispered before entering the field.

At the centre his head snapped back and his arms spread wide, his body burning as his energies were sacrificed.

At the forward section, Maigelus was monitoring the energy output. His eye of harmony activated, creating a globe of silver which floated in the air. Through the window they witnessed alien colours in the black hole, enough to threaten the sanity of Phillipa’s mind.

They were nearing the mouth of the black hole, their exit point, but they didn’t have enough energy. By combining their efforts they managed to boost the absorption rate of the energy collectors.

Emerging on the other side they celebrated the fact that the universe was still there and they were alive. Outside the stars and suns suddenly winked out. Maigelus realised they’d unwittingly extinguished all stellar objects in existence.

The sound of the TARDIS materialising brought the group back to the central chamber. Once again the Time Lord was charred beyond recognition, collapsing to his knees. Around him the TARDIS materialised, in an effort to protect him.

Maigelus deactivated the energy field to allow Phillipa to run to the TARDIS. She knocked on the door, hoping that the Inspector would let her inside. To her surprise the time machine instead de-materialised.

She was left alone in a dying universe, distress calls being received by the ship in all directions.

This adventure went well, with the players quickly realising the gravitas of the occasion. The big social event helped to establish the culture in which the adventure would be set, with the rich up top unaware of the darkness beneath their feet.

There was much agonising over which Guardian to side with, although there did seem to be a mistaken belief that the Black Guardian was responsible for what was happening. Both players were speculating what ‘life’ or ‘survival’ could mean.

They very quickly decided that the imprisoned Time Lord was the Inspector. The reason they believed this was because it made the stakes much more serious and had even suspected that the Inspector would have to die to save everyone.

I’d originally intended to either let the Time Lord remain dead or, if the player characters decided he was the Inspector and used the gift of Life to restore him, let the Inspector rejoin the group in the flesh.

Even before they brought him back they’d decided he’d then use his regenerations to save the universe. It was nice to see this literal self-sacrifice and it was interesting that having the holographic Inspector meant the group could still see the game moving forward without the main character.

In the end I decided to be kind by having the TARDIS protect the Inspector and spirit him away. Will he recover? Will he be restored to how he was the last time Phillipa saw him or will he have regenerated again?

The players are still questioning who or what is behind it all. The Inspector’s player commented he’d thought that the destruction of Talis had some intelligence behind it but now he thought it was a natural event until it was pointed out to him that the event on Talis had directly caused the peril.

They suspect Croatoan but aren’t certain yet. I thought it would have been obvious, given his nature, but am pleased they still don’t know for sure. It gives them room to speculate.

Both are now certain they need to return to Gallifrey and that the darkness in the universe is causing the effect they saw on the time map, alien worlds potential being extinguished as time is reordered.

Just how they get there and if the Inspector will come back for Phillipa is yet to be seen.

As one player said “You’ve given us a lot to think about.”

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