Author's Note: This is the first of an ongoing multi-story space opera written over the span of several years, and my first attempt at fiction.
How to describe them?
For one living in the universe of Time Lords and humans they were unimaginable: unfathomably ancient; unbelievably different.
Existing in the absence time: it was insignificant.
Inhabiting a reality without matter or energy: neither was required.
Timeless and formless: not really a "they" – or an "it"; instead one consciousness made up of the consciousnesses of trillions.
The closest approximate for a human, or maybe a Time Lord, would be a lake of unified composition, totally clear and totally cold. A lake the size of a universe.
They had molded eternity to imitate their existence and were forever.
They had no name although once, impossibly long ago, had many such designations. Discarding such outrageous wrappings they continued on never endingly: fantastically intelligent, dreadfully united and terrifyingly self-centered.
They were single-minded: unceasing continuation and unending evolution, if there was anywhere left to evolve, their sole purpose. Nothing ever got in their way.
When taking the opportunity to "look" (a relative term, to be sure) they "saw" only themselves.
If resembling a lake, infinitely large, cold, clear and darkly deep, they were furthermore calm. And quiet: eons would pass without a single sound. Endlessly patient, although time was meaningless – in the event that change was required they would watch and act appropriately. And perfectly. Without hesitation and relentlessly they would proceed.
And they needed a new home.
The Doctor waved good-bye by wiggling his fingers at Rose through the shop window. He smiled as she put on a brave face while the seamstress wrapped what looked like a tape measure around her chest. "Humans!" he thought to himself as he winked at her and turned away, "humans and their traditions!" Rose was being fitted for a bridesmaid dress; one of her chums was getting married. She'd be so employed for the remainder of the morning and the rest of the day. What had she said to him? Something about "batching" it… "Have fun batching it," she'd told him as he'd walked out of the shop as quickly as he could. It wasn't the kind of place he enjoyed being in and he was happy to have extricated himself as easily as he did. He opened his eyes a little wider as he made the connection and he spoke out loud, albeit softly as he walked down the street: "Ah! Batching as in bachelor! Right… I'm on my own until tomorrow!" He stuck his hands deeper into the pockets of his coat as the wind caught him. "On my own! The world is my oyster! What to do first?"
He set off down the street, walking in no direction in particular. Even with his long legs, at his usual quick pace, others were whizzing by him on their way to... somewhere. Many had their hands to their ears, glued to their mobiles. To a soul they avoided his eyes, wrapped in their own little universes that revolved around whatever they were talking about. To them, he was invisible and that was okay. He had nothing in particular to do… nowhere to go and nothing ominous or death-defying or even slightly sinister hanging over his head. "What a novel feeling!"
He made his way to a small green area, a park, really. It was a beautiful day – sunny sky, not too hot, but not too cold. He slowly turned a complete circle and examined his surroundings. On a bench, in the shadows beneath a tree was a young couple, oblivious to all but each other. In the play area a couple of young mothers (or were they nannies? He had no idea) were minding a small group of children as they swung and twirled and tilted. An older man, dressed up in his tattered but still presentable suit was walking a small dog on a lead, and throwing what looked liked peanuts to the squirrels that were massing a few yards away. The Doctor smiled once again, watching the squirrels as they busily grabbed at the nuts. "Such a wonderful and wondrous planet! And these humans: so simple, so peaceful, so… naïve," he thought, a small part of his brain (but quite large compared to humans'!) reminding him how important it was to protect this precious planet and its inhabitants.
As he watched the squirrels devouring their meal, he suddenly realized that one of the peanuts looked a bit odd: it was shimmering. Well, not quite shimmering, it seemed to be feebly vibrating. The squirrels moved away from it warily as it seemed to levitate ever so slightly off the ground. Abruptly it went 'pop' and detonated into tiny shards of legume. The squirrels scattered. That was followed by an extended overture of 'pops' as the leftover peanuts followed suit and made their own tiny explosions. The Doctor looked around and raised an eyebrow; no one else had seemed to notice the exploding nuts.
"Now, isn't this curious!" he thought to himself, but as he approached the debris to have a better look he noticed a soft vibrating at his side. His attention, drawn away from the peanuts, was now fully on his left hip. "Not only vibrating, but a bit warm, and getting warmer!" He said to himself he started to fumble in his coat pocket. No, not that… it, whatever it was, was in his suit pocket. He started pulling out widgets and gizmos and gadgets and tossing them on the ground as he fumbled for the source of his growing discomfort. "Gotcha!" he exclaimed as he finally pulled out a well-worn buckled leather strap about three inches wide and ten inches long. "Ow!" he added, but did not drop it to the ground as it was behaving even more curiously than he expected – it was pulsing a faint shade of mauve…
A continent away, well, actually an Atlantic ocean away and a half-continent away, Josh was heading home from his late shift. "It's a job!" he thought wearily as he fumbled with the radio trying to pick up something that would sooth his frayed nerves as he drove down the dark road. Working third shift wasn't so bad, but everyone who worked in hospitals knew that weird things happened at night. Not only the drunks and the over-doses and the auto accident victims – they were to be expected in any emergency room at night. But the really strange things that some people did to themselves, out of loneliness or despair usually took place during the hours of darkness… those patients were the ones that deeply disturbed him and often lingered in his mind sometimes hours after he'd left. "The hour of the wolf" he'd heard it called, when good judgment disappears and is replaced with desolation.
He knew that such desperate people weren't too far away from himself. He lived alone, worked at night, and didn't socialize too much with his colleagues as they seemed to do with each other. He had hobbies that he would sometimes become a bit obsessed with – right now it was astronomy and he'd sold off or junked the trappings from his last hobby (flying radio controlled airplanes) and replaced it with the paraphernalia of his new: a beautiful Newtonian reflector telescope, eyepieces, filters and star charts.
Josh sighed and gave up on the radio; he was in the hilly part of his drive where it was sometimes hard to find any decent channels. "Yes," he thought, "people can be weird, and the weirdness will intensify with the full moon coming on in a day or so…" He glanced out the window to his left, looking for the moon… that should be, well, it should be rising. "It should be up by now," he noted to the steering wheel, slightly alarmed. He made this drive every morning at this exact same time and yesterday it had come up just before he'd left the hospital. He remembered pausing to gaze at it as he walked to his car. This morning it should be coming up now, about twenty minutes later. The sky was clear… where was it? "This is strange." He said to no one in particular as he pulled off the side of the road, grabbed his binoculars and stepped out of his car.
Standing there, alone at the side of the road in the dark – he was in the middle of nowhere – there was no light to speak of other than starlight and the haze of the city far off to the west. He scanned the eastern horizon with his binoculars – nothing. There was nothing! Not even the briefest scent of light coming up from the landscape. He pulled out his Blackberry and opened the directory. He scrolled down and found what he was looking for – another astronomy fanatic – but more than that, someone he'd been talking with over the Internet who happened to actually be a real astronomer, and who worked at the Royal Observatory. Quickly calculating the time difference, Josh determined that his friend should be at work and he texted without looking at the little keys: "Alan, something is wrong!"