Here’s the next part. And hopefully I’ll have another release coming up in the next month for you to enjoy!
See you in the Vein!
The trio of newcomers walked among the pillars, following the form of the young woman who led them on. The Librarian watched with puzzled curiosity at the place where the Keeper’s dark robe met the shimmering blue texture of the floor, gliding across without interruption, as if the young woman were indeed a specter, floating across the vast chamber. The Paladin continued to look left and right, her soldierly instincts refusing to permit her more than a moment of relaxation or diversion in an alien environment. She did not relax the grip on her rifle.
“So you are saying,” the Monitor began, “that it was your science that gave birth to the Vortex?”
“I am saying precisely that, Monitor,” the Keeper replied. “Oh, to be sure I was not the first to theoretically conceive it, but it was I who put forth the specifics regarding its development. It was with my formulae and designs that it came into being, that we constructed the portal that gives access to the Vortex, the very same one used by later generations of your Time Lords and Ladies when they cause the children of Gallifrey to stare into its heart.”
The Monitor split off from the others for a moment, evading a pillar in his path “But… but why erase your record if you hold such a significant place in our history?” he asked.
“Because she demanded it be destroyed,” the Librarian answered.
“It’s true,” Merriana agreed. “I wanted to undo what I had done. And I demanded as such to the leaders of our day in a public hearing.” She looked back at the Monitor. “That thing you and nearly all other Gallifreyans worship as the pinnacle of progress for our people had become a monster which had to be eliminated for the good of our beloved planet, as well as for a great many other species that span this and other universes.”
The Paladin leaned in toward the monitor. “She had looked into the Vortex herself just after its completion,” she explained. “And she saw everything.”
“Everything? You mean you went mad, yes?”
“No,” the Keeper replied, raising a hand. “The Paladin is right; I saw everything in an instant. I saw the past, the future, the present. I saw societies rise and fall, individuals as they were born, lived, and died. I saw wars fought. Battles won. Battles lost. Enslavement. Liberation. I saw the creation and the desolation of planets, solar systems, entire galaxies. I saw it all from the panoramic view of a god, and also from the limited, personal views of a billion different aliens on a billion different worlds. To put it bluntly, I saw time and space as they were, before any being ever set foot in the Vortex.
“And then I saw it all collapse into chaos. I saw the lives of many who would never exist because of temporal interference. I saw civilizations that should have come to a close prolonged instead through the changing of events, changed with the best of intentions but resulting in good societies becoming corrupted and evil permitted to fester in a manner that would not have happened had those civilizations been left as they were to change or end. I saw individuals look upon death as an opponent to be cheated, and as such went to great lengths to avoid it, even at the expense of mistreating others through cavalier means and altering their futures in a damning, irreparable way. I saw unintended paradoxes take place. I saw time travelers flaunt their abilities as if they were deities to be worshiped—or devils to be feared.”
Her head dropped as she continued to talk in a sullen tone. “I don’t know how long I had gazed into it,” she continued. “Couldn’t have been more than a few moments, as I had managed to be alone with the Vortex for a brief time. An hour at most. But when I came to, a number of my colleagues were standing over me. They said I had been standing there, oblivious to anything around me as if I had been in a trance, speaking to the Vortex. They said I spoke about things unfamiliar, things alien. Phrases mentioning technologies and sciences unfamiliar to them, along with references that made little sense. A few contested that I even talked in what sounded like different languages at certain times. Then, I collapsed.”
The Monitor looked at his two traveling companions. “Forgive my perceived skepticism, Keeper, but what you described very well could be considered madness,” he answered. “The Vortex has induced madness upon many a Gallifreyan, and the symptoms have been quite diverse in their manifestations.”
“Your skepticism if forgiven, Monitor,” the Keeper replied. “Were I in your position, I would look upon myself with the same sort of supposition. But madness occludes the mind, makes it foggy, unclear, difficult to think clearly. I, on the other hand, was then, and now, as lucid in my thoughts as ever I had been in my entire life.”
“And she said as much,” the Librarian added. “Not long after that, she told her colleagues—including Pelegas Transel—of what she had seen, and she begged them, pled with them to cease from their work and dismantle the Vortex. But Pelegas was the only one who would give ear to her warnings.”
“And only half-heartedly, at first,” Merriana added. “He retained some apprehension about it. I sympathized with him; I really did. His passion was science realized, and this was beyond anything that he or others had ever fathomed as a reality. What you take for granted in your time was nothing more than fantasy and speculation in ours.”
“And nothing you said would dissuade them? Not even after what they had seen happen to you?”
The young face looked back at the Monitor with a sly smile. “Quite the lot we scientific types are, yes?” she answered. “Almost as bad as politicians in our stubbornness. But at least scientists are a bit better about abstaining from hypocrisy.”
The Monitor scowled at her as she resumed her forward direction. “I went to the leaders of our day, explained what had happened to me and what I had seen. Unfortunately, most of my colleagues caught wind of my plan and got to them first, undermining my attempts. And for them, I am sad to say, it worked.”
“They wouldn’t let her near the Vortex after that,” the Librarian said. “Feared she might attempt sabotage. Tried having you placed under arrest as well, didn’t they?”
“They did try that, but as it was I had committed no crime, and was showing no signs of actual insanity, so they couldn’t have me imprisoned or hospitalized,” she replied, then added with a chuckle, “but oh how they watched me for several days in hopes that I might act rashly and end up in custody!”
“So what did you do after that?” the Monitor inquired.
“Quit, didn’t you?” the Paladin asked. “That’s what our record of your life says.”
“Not before scavenging several items from our laboratory and going out on a little excavation of my own,” she answered. “My exposure to the Vortex opened my eyes to many things, including secrets on our own home planet, things that much of our populace remained highly ignorant about.”
The Keeper flashed another smile at the inquisitive man. “Perhaps it’s far better that I show you firsthand,” she answered.