Here’s the next part of my little “teaser,” which I think I’m going to release section by section. When it’s all finished, I’ll put the entire work into a PDF form, suitable for downloading. Let me know what you think of it as it comes along!
And for my normal fans, don’t worry: I’m still working on the Vein, the short stories, and all of the other crazy ideas running around in my head 😀
Enjoy and see you in the Vein… or maybe in the Time Vortex as well!
It shattered the Void.
In any other place, it might have gone unnoticed. Amongst the stars, it would have registered as nothing more than another member of a bright cluster, winking into existence. In the atmosphere of a planet, it would have cut through and blazed like a meteorite in its final moments of being. Upon the surface of a thousand advanced worlds, it would have blended in with the finest and greatest of the technological achievements paraded in alien streets and squares.
But not here, not in a place marked only by infinite darkness, eternal nothingness that expanded in every direction, engulfing empty space in a smothering black not unlike the final thoughts of a child’s night terrors. Here, it stood out in stark contrast to the nothing surrounding it, heralded by a pulsing, concentric ripple of blue rings that rippled from its point of entrance like the waves of a pond betraying a stone piercing its liquid surface.
As its shape suggested a metallic, spherical perfection unmarred by seam or portal, its artificiality was obvious to even the most primitive eye, and would not be in any way mistaken for a naturally formed celestial body. Nor could its movement convey incidental entry into the Void; once it had cut into the black, it began to move in an intended direction, although attempting to give a designated name for its course would have proven to be meaningless, as no fixed points of reference existed in this place. For all any onlooker would have guess, the pilots of the vessel had simply picked a trajectory inspired by nothing but arbitrary conjecture.
Within the vessel’s enormous central chamber—the size of which defied conventional laws of mathematics recognized by most races—stood three figures, their attention focused upon a cylindrical array of levers, buttons, and monitors which encircled a pulsing array of crystalline formations protruding from either end of a wide, vertical transparent tube. One of the figures, a hairless male humanoid dressed in an elegant, scarlet robe embroidered with gold seams and cuffs, fidgeted with a row of switches, operating them as if attempting to play some alien musical instrument.
“Anything yet?” he asked.
To his right, a tall female donning a suit composed of dull grey segments form-fitted to her body glanced at a small, circular screen. She frowned, then looked at him, her blond hair sliding off her shoulder. “Nothing so far, Librarian.”
“Continue sending the pulse at regular intervals until detection is established.”
The third figure, another male with hints of wrinkles in his chiseled face and wearing a black robe not unlike that of his male companion in fashion (with the notable exception of the stiff, semicircular piece that rose behind his head like the upper half of a rising black sun) hovered over the Librarian’s shoulder, his coal pupils flickering from monitors to controls in rapid, repetitive movement. “I don’t appreciate being kept in the dark about this,” he murmured.
“Soon, my lord,” the Librarian replied, turning to the younger being and flashing a hopeful smile. “Soon we shall have our desired appointment.”
The dark-robed figure gave the female a stern glare. “And you know the nature of our appointment, Paladin?” he asked.
“I—I do, my lord,” she stammered, averting his gaze.
“And you understand that I could order you to inform me of the specifics of this… appointment, with severe consequences to follow if you refused?”
She held her gaze to the central monitor, reading nothing but a singular blip—their vessel—at the center of an otherwise dark screen. “I understand clearly, my lord,” she answered. “And I would respectfully but firmly deny your request until given permission by the Librarian to do so.”
“Monitor,” the Librarian began, “I will reveal all to you in time. You have my word.”
“Do I?” the Monitor boomed, pacing around the central control column. He looked upon the other two with a furious scowl as he continued. “You overhear my final transmission to the Time Lords, including my own personal utterance which was not privy to your ears. Then you step in and declare that you know of a potential way to make real the solution I whispered to what I thought was an audience of one—myself! And yet here you are, informing me, who outrank the both of you combined—Don’t you dare give me that look, Librarian! Your age and wisdom do not replace the political authority bequeathed upon me!—you both inform me that I cannot know the details of this solution before they come to pass!”
With fury, he shook his fist at the monitor just above his head, an octagonal screen registering only a blue point of light at its center, the same picture seen by the Paladin. “As if flying through the Void using questionable means wasn’t foolhardy enough,” he continued while pressing massaging fingers into his temples. “I’ve had a headache for the past six days,” he muttered. “A miracle my hearts have not quit on me.”
“Shall I retrieve something medicinal for you?” the Librarian suggested.
The not-quite-older man gave his companion a quizzical look. “Such as?”
“I’ve quite an assortment of painkillers that would work. Perhaps a—”
“Librarian!” The Paladin announced, “Contact!”
“Oh! Pardon me, my lord! I must see this…”
The hairless fellow maneuvered to the female’s side, following her intent gaze. There it was: a hazy, yellow blip somewhere ahead, not quite possessing the strength of brightness displayed by the centered blip of the ship itself. “Readings?” he asked.
“Difficult to establish anything more than general size. Measures seventy meters in height and nearly four times that in length. But all other scans register nothing conclusive.”
“That has to be it,” the Librarian announced, pounding his fist against the console. “Intercept course.”
The Monitor stood behind them, staring at the targeted blip. “Look,” he began, “I confess to having very little skill in navigation or exploration, but even I realize that an inconclusive scan is just that. How do you know for a fact that that’s your intended destination?”
“I know, my lord. I know.”
“But other things have made their way into the Void! Daleks! Cybermen! For all you know, this could be one of their vessels!”
“A possibility, my old friend,” the Librarian nodded, patting the Monitor’s shoulder as he returned to his original station on the other side. “But I think that unlikely, and when we come closer you’ll see why.”
The Monitor scowled at him. “And if you thought wrong?”
A thin smile filled the Librarian’s face. “Then we won’t live long to regret it, will we.”