The Fall of Gallifrey, Part 3

Ancestor_CellFearing for his physical body the Inspector hologram told the Daleks that their technology could destroy his mind, making him useless. If there was any chance that he could wake up and help them then they needed to protect him.

While the Inspector’s comatose body was placed in the Starbreaker a large force of Daleks, including Special Weapon Daleks assembled, preparing to transmatt to the dark tower. Phillipa didn’t like the Special Weapon Daleks, finding that they were constantly muttering to themselves about killing or making anguished squeals.

The holographic Inspector told the force to prepare for the worse as they were transported into the throne room of Croatoan. He’d grown even larger since they’d last met and he was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of floating Shadow Lords.

Croatoan belittled the electronic Inspector, mocking him for his current form. He made it clear that this attack on Gallifrey was retribution for the Inspectors attempt to kill him. The Inspector protested that he’d only been trying to imprison him (not mentioning that he meant for all eternity) but Croatoan was filled with anger.

He boasted of his power, how he’d used the Inspectors own TARDIS to corrupt all space and time. He existed everywhere and every when able to change history on a whim. To demonstrate this he sent an avatar to confront a  younger Phillipa in the 1940s. In the present Phillipa remembered how she’d seen him stride between the ruined buildings in London.

When he didn’t want to divide his attention Croatoan had the Shadow Lords who could move through time using the black holes. There was nothing that Croatoan couldn’t do. This set off the Daleks who demanded his surrender.

Immediately Croatoan used his gravity powers to crush half of the Dalek army. The remaining soldiers fired wildly as a black wall of Shadow Lords swept down towards them. Panicked the Inspector commanded the Dalek technician, still linked to the transmat platform, to teleport them back to the Capital.

They’d only just escaped and Croatoan seemed more powerful than ever. The Inspector had the trasmat connection to the Tomb of Rassilon restored to make a desperate plea. With Phillipa at his side they found themselves in the location from the climax of ‘The Five Doctors.’

Rassilon’s disembodied head appeared before the time travellers, demanding to know why they’d interrupted his eternal sleep. The holographic Inspector explained that it was Gallifrey’s darkest day.

Rassilon suggested several options, from using Omega’s ship to temporarily unleashing the minds from the Matrix to use their combined brain power to restore the Shadow Lords and force Croatoan off the planet.

The holographic Inspector turned down all of these options, saying that time had been damaged beyond repair. He announced that their only option was to go back and prevent Croatoan from ever existing, undoing all that had occurred.

This angered Rassilon who declared that it was one of the first rules of time that they not alter Gallifrey’s past, as the Inspector planned to do. It was built into the TARDISs themselves to prevent such a course of action.

The Inspector insisted that he’d rather do that then have Phillipa die (and he never considered sacrificing himself). Reluctantly Rassilon revealed that there was still an early TARDIS in existence that didn’t have the safe guards in place. Using it was forbidden, as there were other reasons that it was unsafe, so much so that all mention of its existence had been erased from the records. Only a handful knew of it.

Using the Forbidden TARDIS would have dire consequences, far greater than the current situation but the Inspector was insisting that this was the only course of action available to them.

“I see the Council’s fears about you Inspector were well founded,” Rassilon said gravely, fading from view.

A secret doorway opened up, leading to a glowing tunnel. Walking along it Phillipa found the echoes of her footsteps echoing and elongating. She felt a great pressure upon her, like she was entering an aircraft.

In a circular chamber they found a stone hexagonal structure. A door opened up revealing that it was a TARDIS. Inside it was only a little bigger than the exterior, being just a large chamber, filled with flowers of Remembrance ( six-petaled gold flowers featured in ‘The Ancestor Cell’).

Using the information gained from the computers in Croatoan’s original dark tower they were able to set a course for his homeworld, before the disaster that created him. The Inspector was worried that the display on the primitive TARDIS console wasn’t familiar and he realised that the formalised system used for navigation hadn’t been created when this TARDIS was built.

Nonetheless they arrived in the middle of a small community of scientists and their families. Phillipa emerged and noted that the TARDIS lacked the ability to blend in with its surroundings. It was the same stone form she’d first encountered.

Nearby  the biggest structure was a gleaming white tower, a scientific complex where a gravity generator was being tested. In sky above there was a dark sun, which the locals commented was a new appearance.

An explosion from the lab caused panic and Phillipa feared that they’d arrived too late. Putting aside her worries she ran into the tower, using her knowledge of the structure to head towards the source of the problem.

Scientists were either fleeing from the building or valiantly tried to shut down the machinery as control banks exploded all around them. From the scientists they learnt that Croatoan was in the generator room, trying to control the implosion.

Heading there Phillipa and the Inspector realised that this would be the future site of Croatoan’s throne room. The young scientist Croatoan was struggling with the control, a tremor almost sending him down a great drop into cooling fluid but luckily Phillipa was on hand to rescue him.

Even as they worked to shut down the chain reaction the demonic Croatoan appeared, determined to stop them from preventing his rise to power. The Inspector challenged him, saying that it was Croatoan who would trigger the destruction but the demonic figure countered, saying that his appearance was an alteration. All that had transpired had been the Inspector’s fault, not his.

The Inspector explained to the younger version of the villain who this demon was and encouraged him to stop him, reasoning that Croatoan couldn’t harm his younger self for fear of causing a paradox. Bravely the scientist stood up to the demon, saying he wouldn’t let science create such evil.

This gave Phillipa enough time to successfully stop the gravity generator. Croatoan began to fade away as his time line was erased but before he vanished completely he grabbed his younger self, absorbing him into his body.

Phillipa wondered what this meant, something she pondered as she waited for the locals to rescue her from the control room. Once they came she claimed that Croatoan had sacrificed his life to save them. The locals said that the research into the gravity generator had been a terrible mistake but they would learn from it. Without their past they would be unable to grow in the future.

Approaching the Forbidden TARDIS Phillipa noted that the strange flowers of Remembrance had sprung up around the landing site. Going inside the holographic Inspector said that time should soon restore itself without Croatoan’s presence, although the Roanoke colony on Earth would likely still go missing due to the low level of supplies they had.

A small monitor emerged on the TARDIS console, picking up a transmission from Gallifrey. Regis was making a general announcement to all TARDIS pilots. The homeworlds time line had detected a change to their time line, something they could only see as an attack.

In addition a highly dangerous TARDIS had been stolen by a human called Phillipa. The High Council had sent their top agent to track her down and ensure she was punished for her crimes. That agent was the Inspector. Confused and angry at his unexplained regeneration he swore he would travel to the ends of space and time to bring Phillipa to justice.

Unbidden the Forbidden TARDIS dematerialised, Phillipa and the holographic Inspector on the run, rogue elements from a time line they’d helped erase.

This was a suitably grandiose end to this story although the players violated one of the major rules in Doctor Who, going back in time to wipe the enemy from existence. I only allowed it because they were warned that there would be terrible consequences and they were dead set against trying any other option.

Having them on the run in a Forbidden TARDIS does solve a lot of the problems I’d hoped to address and does now mean that they are being chased by the real Inspector who has no memory of why his former companion would take such drastic measures.

The Forbidden TARDIS is going to be a real source of problems for the player characters. They can’t control it, it isn’t comfortable to stay in for long periods meaning that they’ll need to eat and sleep in the areas they land and there are going to be some unexpected abilities that were removed from later models for safety reasons.

No more treating the TARDIS like a treasure trove or haven. No more using it to make short hops or casually using it to travel in time. It is going to be scary each time it takes off into the unknown.

It was fun having the Daleks working alongside the player characters in this game. They ended up having to prompt the heroes many times, showing that they can do more than just kill. Daleks are smart, which is fine as long as they’re not your enemy.

The players said they were really enjoying the story and although they agreed it felt like the finale of the series they were keen to keep playing. Even though the Inspector is still just a hologram he has found he still able to contribute a great deal, with Phillipa given the added responsibility of putting his plans into action.

As a reward for all her efforts I rewarded Phillipa with the Time Traveller trait. She’s been around enough now that all eras of technology won’t be a problem to her. She seemed pretty pleased with that promotion and is asking when she gets her own sonic screwdriver.

The players are expecting much of what they experienced in the last few games to have been erased but they’ll find there are unexpected consequences to changing history on such a massive scale. Not everything goes back to the way it was and not everything is forgotten.

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