The Belphegor Inheritance
Out of Time
An extract from the Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey
And in the Dark Time did Belphegor rule Gallifrey. With callous intent did he subject the people to his tyranny. Not content was he with one world in his thrall. He demanded that all lesser races should bow before him. He desired to conquer all and to rule the Universe.
But the days of great power were gone. The mighty Empire of Gallifrey, which had controlled the Galaxy for millions of years, was waning. Other worlds were developing their own great civilizations. They dared to challenge the might of Gallifrey, and to demand their freedom. And thus did the Empire collapse.
And Belphegor was greatly angered. He wanted to be master of all things. And he said, Give me the power to rule all. If I am to be denied dominion over space and matter, then I must rule over Time itself.
And Belphegor sent his servant Omega to find him that power. He said to Omega, You are master of the stars that shine in the heavens. Command them to give up their secrets to me, that I might rule over all Time.
And Omega went amongst the stars and grasped them in his Hand. And he tore them open, and released the energy that was within. And Belphegor rejoiced in this power, for it would give him control of Time.
Yet the energy of the stars was so great that not even Omega, who was their master, could withstand it. He perished before the wrath of the stars. But Belphegor did not weep, not even for his servant Omega. For he captured and harnessed the anger of the stars, and used it to become the master of Time.
And the secrets of Time were laid before Belphegor and the Gallifreyans, theirs for the taking. They travelled to the past and the future, and asserted their control over lesser races. And in all parts of the Universe and all eras of time, the name of Belphegor became feared and dreaded.
And Belphegor abducted people from their own times, and brought them to Gallifrey. And he did seal off a part of the planet with a mighty and impenetrable wall. And there within did he deposit his prisoners, and he forced them to fight each other for his own amusement. And the other Gallifreyans were amused also, for they were as corrupt and wicked as Belphegor.
And thousands of years passed, and still Belphegor ruled. He seemed immune to death. It was said by some that Omega's sacrifice had been to buy Belphegor the secret of immortality. And during all this time, the cruel abuses of lesser races continued.
But the other Gallifreyans had changed over the millennia, and no longer relished the suffering of others. Then did Belphegor turn his cruelty upon his own people as well. He ruled them without compassion and without mercy. It was said that he had the power to bend others to his will, and to suppress completely any mind that dared to raise thoughts against him.
And the Gallifreyans could bear this oppression no longer. In their desperation they cried aloud, Send us a saviour. And in time, a saviour did come to Gallifrey. And his name was Rassilon.
The Buddhist monk was rudely awoken from a deep meditation. He looked up to see the door of his sanctum standing open. Since he had left instructions that he was not to be disturbed, Cho Je was most perturbed by the interruption.
In the doorway, he saw the figure of Tommy. Dear, dependable Tommy, who had stayed at the meditation centre throughout these past years. Tommy had been born with learning difficulties. His mind had never matured. Those around him had given up trying to teach him, and dismissed him as a simpleton. When the meditation centre had been founded, the Abbot K'anpo had taken Tommy in, to work as a general handyman. Finding that the Abbot did not judge him according to his mentality, Tommy had been a devoted servant.
Then, during a terrible struggle with telepathic spiders from Metebelis Three, Tommy's mind had been cured by the rays of a blue crystal. After that, Cho Je had half expected him to want to leave the monastery, to experience the outside world of which he had little knowledge. But Tommy had chosen to remain. He saw the monastery as his home, the only world he knew, and he did not wish to leave it. Nevertheless, he had learnt much. Cho Je had taught him many things, more than the accumulated knowledge of the average man's lifespan.
Tommy's mind however had remained innocent. He had no difficulty accepting that Cho Je and the Abbot K'anpo were one, and he could use either name interchangeably. The other disciples all believed that K'anpo was dead, and that Cho Je was the new abbot. Their minds were cluttered by the cynical attitudes of the world outside. They could not comprehend the simple wonder of a bodily regeneration.
Cho Je struggled to bring his mind into the present. Tommy was trying to prevent someone from entering the sanctum. Cho Je could not see who it was. He heard Tommy say, "The Abbot isn't to be disturbed."
"But I know he'll see me," the voice of the newcomer replied. It was a strange voice, somehow unassuming and yet commanding at the same time. It carried quite a broad accent, which Cho Je thought was probably Scottish.
"I know the Abbot isn't expecting visitors," said Tommy. There was no trace of menace in his voice. He was above such things. "He mustn't be interrupted. He would have said if you were coming. He always knows."
"This visit wasn't planned," replied the stranger. "I have to see K'anpo. I may not have much time left."
At this mention of his other name, Cho Je got to his feet. He was now released completely from his trance. He went to the door of his sanctum. "You must let my guest enter," he said.
Tommy turned round in surprise. "Cho Je," he replied. "You didn't say you were expecting anyone."
"Old friends are not always expected," Cho Je said. "But they are welcome just the same."
Tommy gazed wonderingly at Cho Je. There was much he did not understand about the monk, but he knew and trusted him. Cho Je had taught him much in the past years, for since his mind had been cured Tommy had found that there was always something new to learn. Cho Je had always been honest with him, and Tommy had met all of the Abbot's friends and visitors.
But the newcomer was a complete stranger. Tommy turned back to him, and studied him closely. He was a short man, with a shock of black hair, thick eyebrows, and expressive mobile features. His clothing was untidy. His jacket collar was turned up, his paisley tie was loosely knotted, and he had forgotten to fasten the top button of his shirt. A silk handkerchief hung casually out of one of his pockets. He clutched a black umbrella with a red plastic handle shaped strangely like a question mark. He had not even bothered to remove his straw hat. Tommy was certain he had never met the man before.
And yet the stranger looked him straight in the eye, and said, "Tommy, it's good to see that you're looking after the Abbot."
"How do you know my name?" Tommy asked.
Cho Je smiled. "Come in, Doctor," he said. "It has been a long time. Tommy, would you please fetch us some buttered tea?"
Tommy nodded. He took another look at the visitor. The Doctor he remembered was a tall distinguished fellow with white curly hair and a huge nose. But the discrepancy didn't bother him. K'anpo and Cho Je were the same person. There was no reason why the Doctor couldn't be someone else as well. Tommy waited as the Doctor went inside the sanctum with Cho Je, and closed the door behind them.
As Cho Je resumed his seat, the Doctor stood just inside the doorway. He seemed to sink deep into thought for a moment. Then, as if remembering something important, he jerked back to full alertness. Slowly, he reached for the paisley scarf around his neck and removed it. He spent a while folding it neatly, and then held it out to Cho Je. "I seem to recall I forgot this the last time we met," the Doctor said. "It isn't cotton, but it's the best I can do in the present circumstances."
Cho Je smiled warmly. "I told you before, there is no need of symbols between friends. What brings you to see me, Doctor?"
Shaking his head almost imperceptibly, the Doctor moved away from the door. He took a step towards Cho Je, but then thought better of it. He started to move absent mindedly around the room. "Do I need a reason to visit an old friend?" he murmured.
Cho Je turned his head to follow the Doctor's movements. "After so many years?" he replied. "And after so many regenerations? I know that you have been on Earth many times, Doctor, but you have resisted the urge to visit."
The Doctor turned to face him earnestly. "I respected your privacy," he explained. "I know you wanted to get away from everything, to retire out here. I thought that my continual reappearance would disturb your tranquillity."
"And now?" asked Cho Je.
"And now," said the Doctor, taking a couple of steps towards him. "K'anpo, Cho Je, I think you may be the only person who can help me. You saved my life once before."
Cho Je shook his head. "The power was in yourself," he admonished gently. "All I did was help to free it."
"I think it's different this time," the Doctor went on. "I'm losing control of my mind." He broke off, his face a picture of anxiety. He took a step or two away from Cho Je, as if afraid to go on. Finally, he withdrew into shadow in the farthest corner.
He spoke again quietly, and it seemed as if he had lost some of his Scottish burr. "It comes and goes. It's been getting worse recently. I didn't really notice it before this regeneration. Just occasionally, I was aware of something in the back of my mind, a whole set of memories that weren't my own. Once, I received a mental shock that pushed me back through twelve regenerations, eight of which weren't mine. Just for a moment, I was privy to the experience of another lifetime."
"Another mind within your own?" said Cho Je. "Was it an outside influence? Projected mental energy?"
"I don't think so. There can't be many with the power to take over a Time Lord's mind like that. Rassilon and Salyavin are the only names that spring to mind."
"And it couldn't be either of those," replied Cho Je.
"Besides," the Doctor continued, "I'm convinced that the influence is coming from inside my mind. During this regeneration, I've found myself privy to new knowledge. Arcane knowledge, from the Dark Time. Sometimes, it alters my personality. I'm not really aware of it at the time, but as I think back, I realize that I haven't been fully in control. It's as if I've been playing out someone else's role, with access to all their knowledge and experience. And powers."
"Powers?" asked Cho Je.
"I seem to have acquired an array of psychic abilities I never possessed before," said the Doctor. "Hypnosis and psycho-manipulation, mainly. They come to me almost naturally. I don't have to think about using them."
He stopped for a few moments, and looked away into a dark corner. "Does the name Belphegor mean anything to you?"
"Belphegor," Cho Je repeated. His face betrayed no sign of any recognition. "Is that who you think has done this to you?"
The Doctor nodded. "It started gradually," he went on. "The memories and the knowledge were just the beginning. Now, I have to grapple for control of my mind. Sometimes, Belphegor takes over completely. So far I have always managed to regain my mental control, but he grows stronger all the time."
He took a step towards Cho Je, crouching beside the Abbot's chair. "I'm frightened, Cho Je. It's like a pervasive illness. A cancer, slowly eating away at my consciousness. Altering my personality. I've already ceased to be the person I was. Part of me still manages to cling to being the Doctor. But if this goes on, the Doctor won't exist any more."
Cho Je said nothing.
The Doctor took a deep breath, and covered his face with his hands. "I want to be the Doctor," he muttered. "I'm not prepared to give up that identity."
"What help do you want from me?" asked Cho Je quietly.
"Once before, when you were K'anpo, you projected your next regeneration as an independent form. Cho Je."
"Now I am Cho Je."
"If this process continues, and I lose my identity, I won't be able to help myself." The Doctor reached out to touch Cho Je on the arm. "But if you show me how, I can project my next regeneration, someone who can come back to save me. He would have a vested interest in saving me, since he wouldn't have his future without me."
"All Time Lords have this ability to some extent," said Cho Je.
"Yes," the Doctor agreed. "Once before, my own subconscious conjured up such a projection. But I had no real control over it. It was vestigial, a mere shadow of what I was to become. Only you have the ability to do this properly. I think that, for a Time Lord, your mental powers are vast, perhaps matched only by Rassilon and Salyavin."
"Perhaps," replied Cho Je modestly.
"Will you help me?" the Doctor asked.
"It will be a long and difficult journey," Cho Je replied. "Not just for you, but for your projected future self. Eventually, it will be to him that the final struggle will fall. He will need help, even as much as you do."
Cho Je smiled. "Let us meditate together, Doctor. We will have to think very carefully about providing your future self with all the help we can."