A Bigger Beam
Gaia; Equestria; Crystal Empire; Crystal Palace; Castle Spire; 1 P.C.E.
The beam emitting from the rift machine flickered briefly and then died out.
The Doctor and Twilight stood at the TARDIS doors staring in shock. "No, no, no,no!" the Doctor ran to the device and leapt through the still-open access hatch. He began sorting through the mass of wires and technology as fast as he could, never stopping to look outside.
The Vashta Nerada that had been retreating from the spire were now turning to face it. There were clicking and hissing noises as they debated to return. One of them bravely moved toward the spire, and realized that there was no more pulling force being put upon them. It turned to the dark cloud and chittered and hissed, informing them of its discovery. Slowly, the rest of the force began to move forward, approaching the tower with extreme caution.
Back on the tower, Twilight rushed to the machine and peeked inside the hatch. "Doctor, what happened?!" she asked, fear evident in her voice.
His head popped out of some wires and he turned to the circuit-board where the lever had been. "The reversal overloaded the universal generator, frying the activation panels and preventing trans-temporal retraction."
"In Equestrian?" Twilight asked, fear replaced with frustration.
The Doctor faced her, his expression grim. "It's not turning back on anytime soon."
"Can't you... you know... restart it?"
The Doctor visibly had an "EUREKA!" moment. He started pulling out wires and cables, one very large one in particular, and brought them outside of the device. "Twilight," he addressed her, "take these inside of the TARDIS and place them by the controls. After you've completed that, I need you to stay inside of the TARDIS with Jonathan, no, Farsight-"
"Who's Farsight?" Twilight asked, her head tilted in confusion.
"Farsight is Jonathan. Long story, good for another time," he chattered. "But make sure you don't leave the TARDIS. And, in the case that I don't come back, press the buttons on the TARDIS labeled 'D dash 4' and you'll be brought back to your time."
Twilight shook her head defiantly, "Oh, no! We are not going without you."
The Doctor released the wires and stepped out of the hatch, leaving him standing directly in front of Twilight. "Please. I don't want to suffer any more loss in my life." He and Twilight briefly made eye contact, they watched each other for a moment.
"So old," Twilight muttered, her eyes seeming distant.
"What?" the Doctor pulled back half a step and gently raised an eyebrow.
"Your eyes," Twilight explained, her voice very low, "they look so old. So... tired..." she trailed off.
The Doctor smiled sadly, "I know. Now, hurry. Please."
Twilight's expression changed to sadness, understanding, and then to compliance. "Only if you promise to come back with us."
The Doctor's forlorn smile remained, "I promise."
The Doctor chuckled softly, "Trust me."
Twilight cracked a small smile, "Alright." With a glow from her horn, the wiring was instantly hovering next to her. "Oh," she stopped and face the Doctor, "Here's your screwdriver." A brief flash of light appeared next to her and revealed the sonic.
The Doctor smiled and took the screwdriver from the air. He said a quick, "Thank you," before returning to the machine.
Twilight ran back to the TARDIS, wiring trailing behind her. She hurried through the doors and up to the control panel, a shocked and bewildered Farsight standing next to them.
"I-It's bi-big... er..." he stammered.
"... on the inside," Twilight finished, "I know, right?" Farsight nodded viciously.
"What's happening out there?" he quickly asked Twilight, trying to distract himself from the (near)impossibility around him.
Twilight set the wires down in front of the central platform. "I don't have time to explain right now, but you have to wait here."
"Are you sure I can't help?" Farsight asked again, this time a bit of disappointment in his tone.
"I don't think so. Unless you know about astrophysics?"
Back outside, the Doctor was knee deep in the structure's core, fishing around in the sea of cables for an unknown object. "I'm inside of a machine capable of extracting objects from across time and space and there's no-" he suddenly tripped, falling face-first onto a metal cube. When the Doctor opened his eyes, his mouth grew into a smile upon realizing what he just fell on. "... sub-temporal pulse generator!" he exclaimed. "Thank you, whoever built this!" The Doctor found a way to remove the cube from the inside of the machine, dropping it on the floor, equidistant from the machine and the TARDIS.
He grabbed a mouthful of wiring and brought them over to the box. He took out his screwdriver again and started to plug the cords in with calculated precision. "... red goes to black as blue meets green..." he mumbled the directions to himself as he worked. He spared a glance at the cloud of Vashta Nerada, nearly forgetting their presence.
The dark, swirling cluster was slowly closing the distance between themselves and the spire, their speed quickening with each passing moment.
The Doctor gripped the screwdriver between his teeth nervously. If this plan didn't work then he had no idea what would happen. He guessed that he'd have to find out.
Twilight poked her head out the TARDIS doors. "What now, Doctor?"
The Doctor acknowledged her by looking up, but returned to the cube. "Plug the largest cable into the output connector beneath the central controls," he instructed her, never looking up from his work.
"And how do I get to that?"
"The grated floors lift up in pieces," he explained, "You need to remove the first cover that's right in front of the main walkway leading to the doors."
Twilight nodded and hurried back inside the TARDIS. With a levitation spell, she raised the grate up off the floor and set it down beside Farsight, while at the same time she floated the cable over to the new space. A few seconds of frantic searching brought her to a large hole, just the right size for the wiring. With a grunt, Twilight forced the cable inside the hole, dozens of small, electric tendrils now racing up and down its length.
One such tendril snaked along the full length of the wire, through the doors and out to the machine. When the electricity reached the tower, the inner controls flickered on and the machine hummed to life. The Doctor briefly looked up from his work to check on the device, noticing the sudden activity. "Almost there!"he shouted joyfully. He returned his attention to the cube, now almost fully covered in wiring.
"All that's left is the-" the Doctor stopped suddenly. "Oh, no!" he said. He quickly pulled out his sonic screwdriver and scanned the cube. Instantly, a square-shaped panel popped off the top and a well-sized keypad was revealed. It contained the standard ten-digit layout, but a directional pad had been placed below the keys. "Why couldn't this come with a user's manual!" the Doctor complained loudly. The Doctor controlled his breathing and closed his eyes in concentration. He realized that the box was asking for a pass code, the system regulators being locked in the case of foul play.
"The main circuit comes together at twenty... one different points on each side of this cube, making a total of forty-two." He took his hoof and carefully pressed '4' and '2' on the keypad. "Then, the thirtieth cable is opposite number eight." He pressed '3' and '8' now, holding his breath. "I removed five from fifteen," that's '1' and '0' clicked in. Then the Doctor realized something: he'd seen this order before. His face became scrunched up in concentration and he tapped his head with his other hoof. "Think, think, think." His head shot up and his eyes widened.
He quickly flipped open the book and stopped on a page that held only one line of writing: 'Left; 42, 38, 10; Up; 40, 16; Left; 18, 38; Blue; 38, 10, 40.'
The Doctor clapped his hooves together. The numbers were the key! "Thank you, Farsight!" The Doctor proceeded to input the remaining numbers: '40, 16, 18, 38, 38, 10, 40.' He hit the last zero and the cube buzzed to life. "Yes!" the Doctor cheered. His celebration was cut short as the cube suddenly stopped humming.
"What?!" the Doctor whined, "What now?!" He replayed the message in his head again: 'Left; 42, 38, 10; Up; 40, 16; Left; 18, 38; Blue; 38, 10, 40.'
The Doctor looked back at the keypad and remembered the arrow keys. "There we are!" He pressed the keys: left, up, left. Then, he stopped. The Doctor examined the box, checking each side carefully, but nothing that was blue revealed itself. He groaned in anger, "Really?!"
He looked out at the mass of Vashta Nerada, continually picking up speed as they neared the tower. He massaged his eyes with his hooves and let out an exasperated sigh. He realized that he couldn't restart the rift machine without the box, knowing that any other method would destabilize the time stream. The Doctor turned back to the TARDIS and considered his options: he could either try to restart the system without the cube, but that would take hours, time that they didn't have. The other option was one that he had been choosing for a long, long time: run.
The Doctor continued to stare at the TARDIS, that little blue box was the only bright color in this darkened-. Blue box, the Doctor thought, his eyes growing wide with realization. The blue box! the Doctor knocked his forehead with his hoof. "I really need to practice thinking under pressure!" he scolded himself.
TARDIS; Control Room; 1 P.C.E.
Twilight stood around the controls, running her hoof along the different levers and switches. She had found the 'D dash 4' setting a while ago, but was holding off until the Doctor returned.
"How long do we wait?" Farisght asked Twilight, breaking her out of her semi-trance.
She opened her mouth to answer, but the TARDIS doors beat her to it. The Doctor stood at the doorway, smiling from ear to ear, the cube sitting on his back. "You'll be waiting for no longer!"
Twilight perked up immediately, "What is it, Doctor?! Are we ready?"
"Almost," he said, making his way to the lower wiring and dropping the cube. "All I need is to strengthen the temporal feed and this thing will be up and running, giving us time to save this place from the Vashta Nerada and shove off without a scratch!"
"It's that easy?" Farsight asked.
"Indeed!" The Doctor propped the cube up against the TARDIS and connected it to the console.
"How is it going to work?" Twilight inquired.
"The TARDIS is a time machine, remember? By hooking the rift machine up to it, I'll be able to boost the energy and return those shadows to their appropriate place!" The Doctor ran from control to control, flipping switches and spinning dials, caught in his own world. As he worked, the metal cube began to glow blue, the light gently illuminating the space. "Twilight?" he called.
"When I say go, I need you to flip this," he pointed to a red handled lever, "into the up position, alright?"
Twilight nodded, "I've got it!"
"Perfect!" The Doctor ran back to the still-open TARDIS doors and checked on the Vashta Nerada. They were less than twenty feet away from the tower and closing the gap quickly. "Ready Twilight?"
"Ready!" she confirmed.
"And..." the Doctor started.
"NOW!" he shouted at the top of his lungs.
Twilight immediately flipped the switch and the cube began sparking with electricity that ran through the cables and flowed along the main one. The power shot out the doors and reached the machine, engulfing it in electricity. The machine's blue glow returned stronger then ever now, covering it with near-blinding light.
"WHAT IS THIS?!" the demented hissing of the Vashta Nerada reverberated throughout the tower.
Suddenly, the spire shot its beam back into the sky and sliced a hole in the clouds. Once again, the Vashta Nerada were being pulled towards it at a tremendous rate. As each one of them touched the light, it disappeared with an earsplitting screech. The mass of the creatures began to decline as each was absorbed by the rift, their numbers dwindling each second.
Bolts of lightening assaulted the interior of the tower, scorching the crystals in their wake. The Doctor watched the darkness of the Vashta Nerada as they disappeared from this time, being blasted back to their own. He saw them desperately trying to escape its gravitational pull, their efforts ultimately in vain.
He spun his head around and looked to the edge of the tower floor. Sombra stood there and glared at the Doctor with pure rage and hatred.
"I'LL KILL YOU FOR WHAT YOU'VE DONE!"