Part 58 – Nereid

Narrative continued by Councilor Thursday...

It was perhaps some seven hours later, by my own sense of time, that I awakened, cold and stiff, tangled where I had fallen inside the still-open doors of Nereid, and to cold clarity. The Vision had not left me; indeed, I knew precisely what it was I must do, and why, but rather than clouding my thoughts with sensory input, I was now left calm, the knowledge assimilated during my enforced sleep, and ready to act as its instrument.

The lapse of time I mention will seem strange, perhaps, to those who were present that night, and who will doubtless attest that little more than a minute or two elapsed, between my falling across the threshold into my ship, and their following therein, at the Pythia's urging; no stranger than it appeared to me: first, to have been left unconscious, tumbled upon the metaphorical doormat, untended for so many hours, and second, to behold through the open door the seeming frozen tableau of my friends and colleagues, poised like unthinking statues outside.

It took several moments' observation, both of Kylie and the rest of you and, through the eyes of a time sensitive, of the threshold of the ship itself, for me to realise the truth.

I apologise here for a brief digression into T-T Capsule mechanics, the passion and metier of my youth. While I am aware the technology is wholly familiar to you and the remainder of the Inner Council, it is with a view to rendering this report comprehensible to the wider audience and to posterity that I would clarify this:

What we, four-dimensional and linear symbiotes, perceive as structured four dimensional space within the hull of a T-T Capsule, is effectively an environmental metaphor - I deeply dislike the childish and belittling Terran cultural contamination of dubbing this a 'desktop' which came into vogue among certain barbarous cliques during the War - but I digress from my digression, and will return to the point of my initial digression post haste.

This metaphor, both integral to and enveloping the technology of the saddle, generated through the sentient consciousness of the Heart and mapped on to interior space via the time vector generator, houses both the crew and habitation decks, and the technological elements of the instrumentation, engineering, and power harnessing systems, as well as forming a dimensional buffer zone between the Heart and the capsule's dimensional extrusion of the Prime Eye, and maintains the crew of the vessel in a state of temporal grace, by the Titan, between the raging tumult of the Time Vortex outside, and the searing truth of the Heart of the machine.

All time, all dimensional structure in fact, inside a T-T Capsule, especially in regard to its interface with the "real world" beyond the doors, is, essentially, by grace of the vessel herself, and here it had become clear that Nereid had interceded, altering the flow of the Time Vector Generator in such a manner that apparent time, within the environmental metaphor inside the spaceship, passed at a very different rate to relativistic time beyond the main doors outside. For what seemed from my perspective inside to be a matter of hours, mere fractions of a second passed in the real world beyond: Nereid had given me time to work.

Though attenuated, time still passed, however, and I was very conscious that the time for our window of opportunity was rapidly slipping away. With the clarity of sleep, I was aware of the rightness of my earlier instincts, concerning the Abbot- we would be passing into a region of space already subject to immense temporal distortion and interaction with strong dimensionality forces quite alien to the [REDACTED] of SL-Space. Given the innate vulnerability of that which we had been summoned to witness, to add in the additional factor of [REDACTED] at this particular time would have been unfeasible and reckless in the extreme.

Thus, with the SASTAP unavailable, and Implacable... impractical, I had been manoeuvred to my own ship's control room for the only potential alternative. Nereid is neither the fastest, strongest, nor any most advanced ship of the fleet by any measure, but she has one great strength - she is adaptable.

The Six-Fold Star is not, in real-space terms, that far from New Gallifrey, though cut off from it by the temporal and gravitational riptides surrounding the phenomenon which render travel there by T-T Capsule difficult and dangerous, and travel through conventional space almost impossible; even if we were able to ascertain in which era of our planet's history it resides. When last we travelled there, SEN, you and I had been able to use my gifts, your telepathy, and SEN's ability to safely interface a Gallifreyan and Seer mind with his Heart, to navigate the paths and frequencies ridden by the creatures of the vortex, reaching the destination safely, if after considerable turbulence. I am not SEN, however, and nor is Nereid you, and this time we were not just to reach the Star, but to plunge into its milieu even as it disgorged matter and energy, and twisted the time dimensions about itself to give birth to ... but I am getting ahead of myself. Fortunately,on our initial trip, you had been able to set that navigational beacon at the Star, for us to home in on when we had entered its range, but even so- and with the tacit remote support of SEN and the Abbot, to navigate the time field to this destination would require a Seer and T-T Capsule dancing as one, in defiance of a most fundamental law.

As SEN, then in his form as your predecessor in the wearing of the Presidential millstone, most emphatically and didactically declaimed, during the saga of the Abbot, for a Lord of Time; engineered over aeons by the Titans to have the beginnings of sense perceptions akin to theirs, but without their breadth and depth of mind or power, to gaze long into the abyssal Heart of the Titan, is to invite certain disaster- for both Gallifreyan and Titan.

Without an apparatus of mediation, such as the sentient computer uniquely configured configured for the former Chariot of Rassilon, the Gallifreyan mind will soon break apart, unable to resist the awful pull of that Titanic mind, and be consumed, sinking and dissolving and diffusing through that awesome consciousness like milk into coffee, until nothing but a hollow vessel for the Titan remains- and even that body will not long endure the colossal artron energies now tearing through it.

For a seer, or any receptive or adept to have recently consumed the Elixir, as the man who would be Deimos had, that awful night, and as I so often have, the peril and the certain doom is greater still. Such is the metastabilising agency of the Breath of Kronos, that body and soul will endure and linger whole a little longer. Not long enough; whether he is sensible of it or not, Deimos' survival at all may come in time to be accounted by those of my faith as a veritable miracle and first manifestation in his divine aspect, of SEN, Guardian of the Moment. Saving such miracles, not long enough for salvation, yet long enough to wreak great harm.

Rent and torn into madness, the mind of the seer has yet the power to see the cosmos as it turns to a Titan, and to think in the path of their thoughts, and thus two minds should writhe, inseparable and poisoning one another, in one conjoined soul. All but the most enlightened perfect ideal and the most bestial of passion in the one, incomprehensible, incoherent madness in the mind of the other, such that, caught between Gallifreyan id and Titan super-ego, the ego, the very self of the undivided single being as they now would be, would wither and shatter, in the twisting wilderness of a tormented and distraught mind.

Thus; the Abbot, as we first knew him; a savage, demented thing, driven by the passions of a beast beseiging the mute soul of an entrapped god.

Now it is a sure and certain thing that our Guardians, as they now are, will not permit such a thing to transpire ever again.

Such raw power, adrift in ungoverned madness, cannot be countenanced and, as such, I have every confidence that were any pair, of Titan and Gallifreyan symbiote, to ever cross that threshold again, the Guardians' wills would combine, and with that unparalleled totality of power, scour any such new abomination from time itself, casting it beyond the confines of SL-Space, henceforth to lay, chained and hewn, beyond the very walls of night, until the end of all things. This doom I have foreseen, should any in folly, pride, or avarice break the compact, ere the time of becoming.

Returning now to the business of the night, and my sensible apologies for yet another digression from the point, that is not a fate I was prepared to chance, nor would it have served our purpose.

Fortunately, and this is why I have chosen to dwell at what the Castellan will doubtless consider immoderate length upon the circumstances of the Abbot's creation, we have all had some opportunity to observe our Guardians and their peculiar natures. Unlike SEN, Nereid and I had no need here of an all-purpose ongoing intermediary process, merely a single function empathic relay which would allow us to function as one, without actually merging into one another, for one flight.

Nereid and I have always shared a complementary, rather than a contrasting bond, and her primary function has always been as a systems emulator. My own molecular structure being largely [REDACTED], and the block transfer schematics of my neural pathways already stored within her grey banks, while I make no pretensions of even moderate expertise in cybernetics, it was not overly difficult to utilise her architectural configuration systems to generate an accurate, if crude, hard copy of my nervous system. She had, after all, already completed the task, to a far higher degree of finesse, twice before.

Thus the situation when Kylie, yourself, and the rest of the party entered the console room; mere seconds later from your perspective, perhaps a few weeks later, from mine.

I will apologise here for my somewhat bedraggled appearance at that time. When one is entangled and enmeshed with somewhat poorly insulated live cybernetic grafts, bathing, washing and colouring one's hair and so forth are somewhat impractical.

Perhaps this is one reason our esteemed Co-Ordinator opted for his distinct hairless cranium during his last "incarnation". I really don't think the look would be "me", though, and the Holy Pythia would probably throw seven fits over it, into the bargain.

However, I have strayed from the point. I'm a Seer and Prophetess, Phaon; I can foresee you muttering "again..." as you read this, right from back here.

The point was that now Nereid and I were connected; but separate, both joined and insulated from one another via an inductive link. My neurological state, emotions, impulses, instincts, sensory responses, would be reflected in my nervous system, and thus precisely detected and mirrored- emulated- in the artificial neural net I wore, part of Nereid, and thus instantaneously perceived by herself as part of her own self. In turn, her instincts, impulses, emotions and so forth would be reflected in her own aspect of the nervous system we now, in a sense, shared, and as such passed to me - without direct mental contact.

If it sounds too good to be true, it nearly was. I very much doubt the process would have worked at all, were it not for the unique circumstances of both of us; certainly, for one not of Seer blood and training, the impressions received would have been meaningless, and for a Seer, even that ersatz, almost-connection drew my mind perilously close to the seductive boundaries of that forbidden ground. The urge to yield, to submit to and sink into that fatal embrace like the return to the blissful oblivion of the womb - or Loom, if you prefer, was still close to overpowering. It is not an experience I would dare to repeat.

I believe the party thought me entranced, controlled, or possibly merely rude, when you all entered the control room to find me non-responsive; in truth, I was desperately locked in concentration, striving to maintain my focus upon the blue crystal from Metebelis III in front of me, which I had liberated from Kylie's desk drawer to help me at this time. My commendations to Sister Ninyala, of our Order, who brought it to her; I fancy it was not the use for which she had intended it, but, the loom of Destiny oft weaves disparate threads.

Once all appointed were aboard- yourself, Kylie, Lord Carter, Lord Tempest, and the medical man, I/We dematerialised, locking our coordinates to the Six-Fold Star and altering the engine phase, modulating and remodulating by aggregated instincts, shared memories of our encounters with the Beasts of the vortex, and our earlier journey with yourself and SEN, to traverse the unique vortex about our path.

Our flight was headlong, even with the assistance of the Guardians. Without Kylie's empathic aid to calm my thoughts, and the rest of the crew's expertise it is unlikely we should have reached the destination alive, but once we grew close enough to detect it, and you were able to instruct Lord Tempest to lock on to the navigational beacon, we successfully materialised, and Nereid, somewhat the worse for wear and almost drained of power, shut down to recover herself- and firmly separate me from the perilous connection.

Once again, a T-T Capsule of New Gallifrey orbited the soon-to- be solved enigma of the Six-Fold Star.

To Be Continued…

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