The Belphegor Inheritance
The Midday Sun
With one last desperate effort, the Doctor felt round on the floor for something he could use as a weapon. Anything.
His fingers closed around the spanner he had thrown earlier. He brought it up suddenly, and smashed it into the side of Belphegor's head.
The little man fell backwards, his temple gashed open. The Doctor leapt up and grabbed hold of his enemy by the lapels of his jacket. The sudden violent action had released a storm of pent up anger in the Doctor. He started to shake Belphegor savagely, cracking his head against the floor. "Give me back my body," the Doctor shouted. "Give me back my life."
He knew now how to defeat Belphegor. The only way. He had to kill the body which Belphegor inhabited. He had to kill his own previous self. Physical death was the only thing to which Belphegor was vulnerable. He might possess an immortal consciousness, but he needed a body to live in.
Although Belphegor was in a Time Lord's body, if that host was killed it would not regenerate. All the Doctor's life force had been given to his projected next incarnation. The Scotsman would die and stay dead, until his future self gave the life force back to the regenerative cycle.
Belphegor was starting to struggle now, but he was weakening. The blow to the head and loss of blood had affected him. His telekinetic powers were fading.
The Doctor picked up the spanner again. He looked down at his previous body, now kicking and gasping as Belphegor tried desperately to cling to life.
The Doctor hesitated. He couldn't do it. He couldn't kill himself. But it was the only way to free his mind from Belphegor's control. He so desperately wanted his identity back, wanted to be whole once more. Ironically, thought the Doctor, that was what Belphegor wanted too. His ultimate ambitions were somewhat more evil, but basically they were both struggling for life and the freedom of their minds.
Only one could survive.
The Doctor closed his eyes. He didn't have to witness the final act. He
swung the spanner down savagely, and caved in the Scotsman's skull.
Pandak advanced menacingly on the President. "Give me the Sash and the Rod," he repeated.
The President struggled against the grip of the technician. "No!" she shouted.
Pandak shrugged nonchalantly. "I've wasted enough time on you," he said. "You had your chance to co-operate. I might even have showed lenience towards you. But not now." He reached out his hand, and seized the President by the wrist. Then he began to prize her fingers away from the Rod of Rassilon.
The President tried to resist, tightening her grip. But Pandak was too strong. He snapped her fingers back painfully, and the Rod fell to the floor.
Then Pandak took hold of the Sash of Rassilon. With his other hand, he forced the President to bow her head as he pulled the Sash from around her neck. The President continued to struggle futilely, but she could not prevent him from taking the Sash.
Stepping back from the President, Pandak placed the Sash around his own neck. He stooped to pick up the Rod of Rassilon, and twirled it almost playfully in his hands. He beamed at the President, showing off his new finery. "There," he said, "they suit me so much better than you, don't they? The artifacts are now back where they belong."
"You have no right to them," said the President miserably. "You forfeited the Legacy of Rassilon by your actions."
"On the contrary," Pandak snapped, "I have every right to them. I have been granted control of Gallifrey by one greater than Rassilon."
He turned away and strode towards the Presidential dais. He looked up reverently at the monolith of the Eye of Harmony. Four thick power cables were attached to it, to keep up the containment field for the black hole. Once he had removed those, the Eye would be unleashed, and the power released would be beyond imagining.
Stepping back, Pandak glanced perfunctorily at the monitoring instruments Chancellor Cabulas had set up. He noted with interest the energy fluctuations in the Eye. They clearly demonstrated the might of Belphegor.
And yet the readings were not quite at the level Pandak would have
expected. He glanced again at his chronometer. It still wanted a few
minutes before midday. Belphegor would of course do things exactly to
schedule. Pandak stood, calmly waiting.
Rodan tried to shuffle herself into a more comfortable position. She, Cabulas and Zelara were still sitting on the floor. Their gaolers had not allowed them to move. Clearly they feared the wrath of Pandak too much to risk another escape attempt.
Yet, thought Rodan, if she was getting tired, the guards might be as well. She watched them like a hawk, for the first sign of weakness. A stifled yawn, a relaxation of a gun arm, and she would be prepared to make a move.
Suddenly there came a shout from outside the door. There followed several reports of staser fire, and some screams. Finally, all went quiet again. The scribe and the two technicians looked at each other uncertainly.
Then a voice called out, "That's the Chancellery Guard dealt with. Pandak wants the prisoners brought to the Panopticon."
Fearing a trick, the scribe hesitated. He didn't want to keep Pandak waiting, but he didn't want to make a fool of himself either. He gestured for the two technicians to be ready with their weapons, and inched the door open a fraction. Peering out through the tiny gap, the scribe saw several red clad bodies lying across the thoroughfare. At the further end were three or four men in the robes of technicians and medics, casually swinging staser rifles in their hands. Catching sight of the scribe through the opening, one of them waved nonchalantly.
The scribe waved back and opened the door further. He turned to the three prisoners. "All right," he snapped. "On your feet."
Exchanging weary glances, Rodan, Cabulas and Zelara slowly stood up. They tried to get some of the circulation back into their limbs. Even a double cardio-vascular system didn't help to prevent numbness and cramp.
"Come on," said the scribe. "Move." He gestured towards the door with the muzzle of his rifle.
The three prisoners started to march out of the Council chamber. Their guards followed them, keeping staser rifles levelled at their back.
Once outside, Rodan became aware of a blurred movement from just behind them. Commander Stalred came from an alcove beside the door, and knocked the scribe flying. The man fell to the ground, and his rifle went off, the staser bolt skimming off along the thoroughfare.
The two technicians started to fire indiscriminately. Rodan quickly threw her arms around Cabulas and Zelara, and forced them both down onto the ground.
Another movement caught her eye. One of the dead Chancellery Guards suddenly came back to life. He leapt up at the nearer of the two technicians, and started to wrestle for control of his rifle.
All of the dead men were starting to rise now. They weren't dead at all. The remaining technician fired his rifle at random, and killed a guard, who slumped back onto the thoroughfare. A couple of guards grabbed hold of the technician and soon overpowered him.
The first technician broke free of the guard who was attacking him. He tried to run along the thoroughfare. Rodan made a grab for his legs, and brought the technician crashing down. He dropped his gun, which skidded across the pavement. Rodan pulled his hands tight behind his back, and signalled for one of the guards to come and take custody of him.
Stalred had the scribe overpowered now, and handed him over to one of his men. The Commander then signalled to the technicians standing at the end of the thoroughfare. They came forward and Rodan saw that they were Chancellery Guard officers, presumably in borrowed robes. With them walked Rhonwen Jones, the Earthling friend of the Doctor.
Rodan turned to Stalred. "Well done, Commander," she said.
Stalred bowed his head graciously. He was quite pleased to have gained praise from the Castellan. "It was not too difficult. Servitors are not combat trained. They were hardly worthy adversaries for the Chancellery Guard."
"The deception was well conceived," Chancellor Cabulas observed.
"It was not my doing, your Excellency," said Stalred. "It was Rhonwen's idea."
"A cunning scheme, Rhonwen Jones," Cabulas said, turning a serious expression upon her.
Rhonwen smiled, slightly embarrassed.
Rodan adopted a brisk manner. "Now Stalred," she asked, "what have you done regarding the Panopticon?"
"The guards there have been slaughtered," said Stalred. "You know what the precinct is like. There are many high vantage points. Pandak's men had good positions. My men did not stand a chance."
"This is a dark day indeed for Gallifrey," muttered Cardinal Zelara. "That such horrors should be wrought - and that they should be caused by a Prydonian. It shames me."
"Take heart, your Eminence," said Cabulas. "It may yet be a Prydonian who unravels this sorry affair."
"You mean the Doctor?" asked Zelara. "Do you think he's still alive?"
Cabulas looked a little uncertain, but he said, "I feel sure the Doctor would not have acted without good reason. He would not risk throwing his life away unless there was a good chance."
"We need to secure the Panopticon," said Rodan.
"I have called for reinforcements from the outer districts," Stalred reported. "We can expect them within the hour."
"We may not have an hour," said Cabulas.
"Perhaps there's some way we can stall Pandak," Rodan suggested.
"There is," announced Cardinal Zelara.
"Your Eminence?" said Cabulas. "What do you mean?"
"Let me go to the Panopticon," said Zelara. "I shall try to reason with Pandak. Perhaps I can buy the time you need."
"He'll never listen to you," Rodan stated.
"He might. I am still his Cardinal. And even if it seems futile, I feel that it is my duty. The Prydonian Chapter must bear responsibility for the sins of its members. It might help to expiate the guilt in some small way if I make this gesture now."
Zelara started to stride off along the thoroughfare. Rodan detailed two of the guards to escort him to the Panopticon. She didn't want any of Pandak's thugs taking a pot shot at the Cardinal before he could even attempt to carry out his self imposed duty.
Turning to Stalred, the Castellan said, "You'd better come with me, Commander. We'll have to devise a plan for retaking the Panopticon. Let's hope we're in time."
She made her way along the thoroughfare. After smiling briefly at Rhonwen, Stalred followed her with several of his officers and guards. A sizeable contingent was left to defend the Council chamber.
Rhonwen turned to Chancellor Cabulas. "Where's the Doctor?" she asked.
"I wish I knew," said Cabulas sadly. "Come, let us see if we can contact him." He led the way back into the Council chamber.
At the communications panel, he noted a red light flashing. He pressed a control, and the Doctor's face appeared on the wall screen.
"Ah, Cabulas," he said. "Are you in control down there?"
"Of the Council chamber, Doctor," replied Cabulas. "Pandak still holds the Panopticon."
The Doctor nodded quickly. "There's no time to lose. I have some equipment here I need a hand with. Who's there with you?"
"Some guards, and Rhonwen Jones."
"Rhonwen?" said the Doctor. "She made it back then? Splendid. Send her up to the same co-ordinates." The screen went blank.
Cabulas turned to Rhonwen. "Have you ever travelled by transmat beam before, my dear?" he asked.
Rhonwen shrugged her shoulders. "I might be able to tell you," she said, "if I knew what you were talking about."
Cabulas gestured towards a small cubicle set in the wall. It was the same space into which the Doctor had shoved her two days ago, to protect her from the psionic energy sphere.
"It's perfectly straightforward," Cabulas replied. "Your molecules are converted to energy and transmitted to a receiver elsewhere."
Rhonwen took a cautious step towards the little alcove. "Is it safe?" she asked uncertainly.
"Quite safe," said Cabulas. "Transmat technology is so simple to we Time Lords that a child could build one. Nothing could go wrong." He hesitated momentarily. "Except for a multiple pentalion overload, but that's virtually unheard of."
"Oh well," said Rhonwen, "since you put it like that." She stepped into the transmat terminal, still not convinced that she was doing the right thing.
Cabulas operated a few controls, and the cubicle started to throb with a whirring sound. Rhonwen found herself bathed in a strange swirling light, and the image of the Council chamber dissolved before her eyes.
It was replaced by a completely different scene. The glow of light faded, and she found herself in a similar alcove, placed at one end of a long corridor. The Doctor appeared through a set of double doors at the far end, and beckoned her.
Rhonwen walked along the corridor, passing a number of doors set into the golden metal walls. When she met the Doctor, she asked, "What is this place?"
"A court of law," the Doctor replied, looking at his watch. "Come on, there isn't much time. It's almost midday." He led the way through the courtroom, and out into the reception area.
Rhonwen looked around at the many pieces of machinery, before her eye was caught by the shimmering silver statue in the alcove. She felt almost mesmerized by it, but eventually she managed to tear her eyes away. She was about to turn and ask the Doctor about it, but she was distracted by something, and completely forgot about the statue.
Lying on the floor was the body of a short dark haired man, his head bashed in. A heavy spanner was lying beside him, with blood still on it. Rhonwen felt a strange sick feeling gripping her stomach. "Who's that?" she managed to croak.
The Doctor cast a quick look at the corpse, as if seeing it for the first time. "That's me," he said. "Or rather, I will be him. It's a little difficult to explain."
"Well, only technically. The condition is reversible, provided everything goes according to plan."
Rhonwen nodded uncertainly. She didn't have a clue what he was talking about, but he spoke with such sincerity that she couldn't help but believe him.
The Doctor said, "Hold out your hands." He picked up several smaller pieces of equipment, and started to pile them in Rhonwen's arms. Then he quickly stripped components out of the larger machines, and added them to the collection. "Don't drop any of this," he warned. "I don't have time to build replacements. Besides, I want to fit it all back into the TARDIS afterwards."
"Does this stuff come from the TARDIS?" asked Rhonwen.
"Most of it. Belphegor must have removed the machinery before the TARDIS left him. I imagine that my previous self pre-programmed her during a moment of lucidity. And when Belphegor least expected it, she dematerialized and came back to look for me. She waited in the time vortex until I used the Stattenheim remote control to summon her."
The Doctor looked around at the various control consoles. "We're going to have to leave the larger pieces," he said. "We don't have time for moving furniture."
He grabbed one of the control panels, and slid it across the floor towards the silver statue. He pressed a few controls, and then stood back surveying his handiwork. "There," he declared. "We've got about a minute before the Validium reaches critical and blows this space station apart."
"What?" Rhonwen exclaimed.
Calmly, the Doctor stooped to pick up the body of the little man from
the floor. He hoisted it up onto his shoulder, and started to stride back
towards the transmat terminal. Rhonwen followed him, struggling to balance
the assortment of components in her hands.
As they approached the Panopticon precinct, Cardinal Zelara turned to his escort. "You had better wait here," he said. "If they see you, Pandak's men might open fire. It is best if I proceed alone."
"But your Eminence..." one of the guards began.
"Do as I say," Zelara insisted. He turned and strode purposefully into the square. Immediately the staser rifles of Pandak's guards turned to cover him. Zelara hesitated for a moment, and he began to doubt that he was doing the right thing. But he had come this far now. There was no going back.
"Halt!" shouted one of Pandak's men, who wore the robes of a medic.
Zelara paused. "Do you not recognize Zelara?" he demanded. "Cardinal of the Prydonian Chapter? Allow me to pass. I wish to speak with Pandak."
"What do you want with Pandak?" the medic asked.
"I am his Cardinal," Zelara said haughtily. "He will speak with me. I am unarmed."
The medic was clearly reluctant to allow anyone through the cordon. But Zelara was only one man. Even if he did have a weapon - and the medic couldn't bring himself to suggest that a high ranking Time Lord be subjected to a search - Pandak had guards inside the Panopticon who would ensure that Zelara could cause no mischief.
"Let him pass," the medic said.
Zelara proceeded cautiously through the ranks of the rebels, and entered the Panopticon. He took in the scene within immediately. A technician held the President securely. She seemed not even to be struggling. Several other servitors with guns stood around. Pandak himself was standing before the dais, looking up at the Eye of Harmony.
Zelara felt a little daunted, but he steeled himself. He remembered that he had to save what was left of the honour of the Prydonian Chapter. "Pandak," he called out.
Spinning round, Pandak looked at him angrily for a moment. But then he relaxed, and actually smiled. "Zelara," he said warmly. "Have you come to witness the final moments?" He waved the Rod of Rassilon extravagantly in his hand, and gestured towards the Sash around his neck. "It's good to see the artifacts back where they belong, isn't it? At last, we see the restoration of a Prydonian Presidency."
Zelara cleared his throat nervously. He seemed to have lost his voice. Making scathing speeches in the Council chamber was one thing. Arguing with a megalomaniac was another entirely.
"Pandak," Zelara said. "As your Cardinal, I call upon you to desist all treasonous activities immediately. Do not blacken the name of the Prydonian Chapter further than you already have. Surrender yourself, and submit for trial."
Pandak threw his head back and laughed loudly. "Treasonous?" he mocked. "How can I be guilty of treason, when I am only taking what is mine? I am the Lord President of Gallifrey."
"Not according to the law," said Zelara.
"Laws that were ratified without my presence and consent," replied Pandak reasonably, "have no validity."
The President looked up at him once more. "Your consent was not required," she snapped. "You were rejected by the people of Gallifrey, as unfit to rule. I am Lady President of Gallifrey, by binding and legal vote."
Pandak groaned. "Madam, don't let us go into all that again. I'm really not interested in your democratic election."
"Pandak," implored Zelara, moving forward to the dais. "At Prydon Academy, you were always a bright student. One of my finest pupils. When you became President, I rejoiced, for I believed you to be one of the most upstanding and noble of Time Lords. What has happened to change you?"
"Let's say I've learnt more than what you taught me," Pandak replied. "I've learnt what it really means to be a Time Lord. To have the ultimate power over time and space. Our history is full of great visionaries, who sought to use our powers for something worthwhile. And they were ostracized for their viewpoint, exiled or even terminated. Well, no more. This is the birth of a new era. Under my rule, Gallifrey shall be strong. Once more, the Galaxy will worship the name of the Time Lords."
Zelara looked at him in horror. He had not realized that Pandak's mental disintegration had reached such extremes. He had been hiding underground for too long. Any attempt to reason with him was futile.
Moved by a sudden impulse, Zelara reached out and tried to snatch the Rod of Rassilon. He didn't know what he was doing. Maybe if he could damage the Rod in some way, he could prevent Pandak from going on with his plan.
Pandak kept a firm hold on the Rod, and swung the end of it firmly into Zelara's chest. The Cardinal was winded, and staggered back from the dais. Pandak raised his staser pistol.
"It is almost midday," he said. "Destiny beckons. I have no more time to
waste on you." He fired the pistol at point blank range. The staser bolt
hit Zelara in the chest, and with one final scream, the Cardinal fell dead
to the floor.
The Doctor and Rhonwen stepped from the transmat terminal into the Council chamber. Chancellor Cabulas watched in surprise as the Doctor lowered the dead body from his shoulder and laid it on the conference table.
"Isn't that your previous self?" Cabulas asked.
"That's right," said the Doctor. "Belphegor was using his - I mean, my body."
"Why didn't you mention this?"
"Because the last time the Time Lords thought my body was being used by an enemy of Gallifrey, they tried to have me executed."
"That was a long time ago, Doctor," said Cabulas. "I'm sure the present Council would not take the same line."
The Doctor grunted, and turned his attention to the communications panel. After a moment, the wall screen lit up to display a starscape.
"The stars?" asked Cabulas.
"Any second now," said the Doctor.
There was a huge flash of light, and a brilliant explosion filled the screen.
"Was that the space station?" Cabulas enquired.
"Destroyed by Validium," the Doctor explained. "The remaining mass of the living metal will return to the Capitol security vault. And then you must ensure that it never again leaves Gallifrey."
"You can leave it to me, Doctor," Cabulas promised.
"Good. Rhonwen, give me a hand with that equipment." The Doctor started to take various components and pieces of machinery from Rhonwen, and laid them out on the floor of the Council chamber. He assembled them into something resembling a control panel.
"What are you doing?" Rhonwen asked.
"This is a remote control unit for the Hand of Omega," said the Doctor. "The Hand is currently reducing the mass of our sun and damping the energy output. At midday, Pandak is going to release the Eye of Harmony. The sun will no longer act as a counterbalance for the gravitational forces, and the whole system will be sucked into the Eye. Unless I can persuade the Hand of Omega to reverse its program."
"You mean restore the sun to its former mass and energy level?" said Cabulas.
"Yes. The Eye will still be unstable until we can reactivate the containment field, but at least the solar system should stay in one piece long enough to do that. What do you think?"
"It might work," replied Cabulas cautiously.
"It had better," said the Doctor. "It's the only plan I've got."
Pandak took a step towards the Eye of Harmony. "The future is mine," he said. "Immortal and victorious."
He reached out a hand to the first of the power cables connected to the monolith.
The President watched horrified as he started to uncouple it. "You must stop, Pandak," she said desperately. "Let us negotiate. Perhaps we can agree terms and concessions."
"Power doesn't come from talk," replied Pandak, "but from strength. The
jurist in you is speaking again." He continued to unscrew the coupling of
the power cable.
"Doctor," said Cabulas slowly. "The Eye is currently exerting increased gravitational pressures upon the planet, because of the drop in solar mass."
"Yes yes," muttered the Doctor hurriedly, never taking his eyes from his makeshift control panel. "The increased forces are stressing the tectonic plates and causing the earthquakes. When I restore the sun, the forces will equalize."
"Yes," replied Cabulas. "But if Pandak releases the Eye from its containment field, the gravitational forces of the black hole will be unleashed in the Panopticon. The localized effect would still be severe, surely."
The Doctor looked up at Cabulas, horrorstruck. "You're right," he said. "The sun's mass will hold the Eye in check, and prevent the system collapsing. But Gallifrey itself will be pulled into the black hole. The planet's structure isn't strong enough to resist such a concentration of gravitational force." Angrily, he ran his fingers through his hair. "How could I have been so stupid? I've missed the wood for the trees."
"What can you do to stop it?" Rhonwen asked.
"There's nothing we can do," Cabulas said miserably. "We can defeat Belphegor, but either way we'll be sucked into a black hole. Even in defeat, he'll have beaten us."
"If we could only extend some kind of gravity damping force field over the whole planet," the Doctor said wistfully. Then his face lit up. "That's it," he exclaimed. "We can do it. I only hope we'll have time. There's about a minute left before midday."
He jumped up, and lifted his remote control panel in his arms. "Come on," he implored, running for the door.
Rhonwen and Cabulas started to follow him. "But where are we going?" Cabulas asked.
"To your office, Chancellor. You've got something there I need."
The President watched in horror as Pandak reached for the second power cable and started to uncouple it from the Eye of Harmony. She tried to struggle against the grip of the technician who held her. It was no good.
She knew she had to do something. Appeals to Pandak's better nature had no effect, since he didn't seem to have one. Instead, the President turned her attention to the man holding her.
"Listen to me," she urged. "This has gone far enough. Pandak has to be stopped."
"Be quiet," said the technician.
"No," insisted the President. "You have to act now for your own safety." She raised her voice so that all of Pandak's men would hear her. "You must stop him. Pandak is mad. You know what the Eye of Harmony is, don't you? It's a black hole. If he unleashes it, we'll all be sucked in. The planet will be destroyed. Only Pandak can survive while he wears the Sash. Is this what you staged your rebellion for?"
She seemed to be having some effect. The technician's hold on her slackened slightly.
The second power cable dropped to the floor. The Eye of Harmony throbbed with energy. Smoke started to rise from the opening in the dais, as the containment system began to overload.
Pandak paused in his task and turned to face the President. "If you don't shut up," he shouted, "I will kill you myself." He addressed his men. "Don't listen to her. I have promised you positions of power in the new order. Do you really believe I would let Gallifrey be destroyed? What is the point of destroying my prize before I can grasp it? She is simply attempting to deceive you. Do not now forget your allegiance to me."
The technician gripped the President's arms more tightly. Pandak had convinced him.
Satisfied, Pandak turned back to the monolith and began to unscrew the
coupling of the third power cable.
The Doctor burst into the Chancellor's office, and placed his control panel down on the desk. He waited impatiently as Cabulas followed with Rhonwen.
"Now Doctor," Cabulas began, "would you tell me what is going on?"
"Give me the Key," the Doctor said.
"What Key?" asked Cabulas, startled.
"The Key," repeated the Doctor urgently. "The Great Key of Rassilon."
Cabulas hesitated. "But Doctor, the Key is the greatest of the artifacts. Not even the President may hold it."
"I know," snapped the Doctor. "That's why I need it now."
Still Cabulas wavered. The guarding of the Great Key was the highest responsibility of the Chancellor's office. It was not to be given out willy nilly to anyone who asked for it.
"It's up to you, Cabulas," the Doctor said lightly. "Give me the Key or sign Gallifrey's death warrant."
After a further moment's indecision, the Chancellor walked behind his desk. He took the computer painting of a blue circle from the wall, and placed it on the desk. Then he opened up the back of the frame. Lying behind the canvas were four small and quite insignificant seeming silver keys.
"Eenie meenie minie mo," murmured the Doctor. "Which one?"
Cabulas hesitated again, but eventually he reached out and took the
second key on the right. He handed it to the Doctor, who placed it into one
of the circuits on his control board.
The ground was starting to vibrate. Wreathed in the smoke that poured
from the overheating containment system below, Pandak reached for the
fourth and final power cable. There was a cruel smile of triumph on his
lips as he unscrewed the coupling.
Making a few adjustments to the components in his control panel, the Doctor looked up at Cabulas and smiled hopefully. "That should do the trick," he said.
The room began to shake. Cabulas clutched the desk for support. Rhonwen grabbed hold of a pillar.
"That's Pandak," muttered the Doctor. "Right on schedule. Keep your fingers crossed."
He pressed a couple of buttons, and threw the main switch.