((I’ve been musing on what New Babbage would be like in the 21st century. What differences would the city have from a modern rl city with the advent of Steampunk instead of actual Victorian history. This story is an attempt to illustrate my ideas under the context of a story. Please feel free to give any suggestions for your own ideas. Future stories in this series will involve more history then this introduction.))
The Railway stretched far into the night, heading for the mountains in the distance. Although it was an hour’s train trip to head back into the city this little spot was surprisingly busy.
Most of the population would never know why this was the case, Nor would they know why there seemed to sometimes have a village of uninhabited shacks and shed there. The tiny village was known as Chronoton and it’s streets appeared on no survey or maps. In fact the only trace of it officially was on the railway’s lists of stopping places ad stations where Chronoton was listed as a “Signal box and crossing loop” although a crossing loop wouldn’t be needed on a double track main line.
Chronoton existed for one reason and one reason alone. It marked the edge of an invisible barrier known as the “Time Lock” Beyond that point no time machine could travel backwards or forwards through time except through the usual way of traveling 1 second every second.
Thus Chronoton was the meeting place for the people known as “Time Lords,” individuals who travel aboard alien spacetime vessels known as “TARDISes.” Here at Chronoton, these Time Lords would park their ships, disguised as the houses, sheds, trees and outhouses of the village, boarded a train at the railway station, the only real building in the town, and took a train to New Babbage, 1 hour away.
One such machine was landing at this very moment. It made a load wheezing sound as it appeared slowly out of mid air. It took the appearance of a child’s playhouse, made of stiff card and drawn on in crayon. Unbeknownst to it’s driver it was materializing off course, landing on the railway tracks just beyond the station. The signalman, high in his box by the tracks spotted the appearing time machine and leaped from his chair. He ran outside to the thin wooden plank that circled around the front three walls of his signalbox and called out to the machine. “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” he called. “THERE’S A TRAIN COMING!”
The time travelers inside their machine never heard him, a speeding goods train struck the box just as it became solid enough to be affected by it’s surroundings and was knocked into the air, the box’s cardboard crumpling as it struck. The box was flattened and caught on the buffer beam of the locomotive and it was dragged along with it.
A second impact hit the box as the train hit the invisible barrier of the Time Lock. Normally trains would pass through the bubble with no effect on them but carrying a TARDIS with it caused the train to pierce the bubble with a loud sharp crack like a sonic boom. The train rattled slightly but didn’t stop. The box however had disappeared completely.
The Time machine was bounced into the Time Stream when it hit the bubble, spiraling out of control, it’s pilot, a small girl was thrown back, hitting her head on the deck and knocking herself unconsious. Sparks flew from the central console, a hexagonal wooden control frame, as it flew at breakneck speeds. The machine itself, a living sentient creature was panicked and frightened; only a baby of it’s kind, the little tardis was stuck and unable to rematerialise. It circled the bubble in both time and space looking for an opening where it could reappear with no luck. It tried to leave but found it could no do that either. The pilot began to come around.
Clara Tryggvassen, the pilot of the time machine ran for the controls, dodging the sparks and flames coming from the console. She tried to find a hole in the bubble, a way either in or out. She did some math and rerouted power to the time engine. She watched the power level decrease quickly, the Tardis’s life draining from it. Suddenly Clara found an opening and threw the emergency landing switch.
The emergency “landing” was more of a crash then a landing. The Rotor, the device in the centre of the console slid up higher then it ever had before and the glass tube it rested in shattered, covering Clara in tiny beads of glass. Emergency oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling, dangling from cords. The lights went out, plunging her in darkness until the backup lighting went on. She went to the console and checked everything she could. She was relieved to find that the Eye of Harmony was still active. The downside was that the “transpower” core, The massive generators which powered the non-time travel systems, controls, air, lighting, heating, were out. These systems normally ran on a massive steam power plant and without it the Eye of Harmony had diverted itself to maintaining those to keep Clara alive.
“No biggie!” Clara said to herself. “Ah made those systems myself out of scraps Ah found in Babbage. If Ah’m still here then it should be easy to rebuild!”
She opened the doors to the outside and was hit, not by the smell of sewage and burning coal but by a faint scent of petroleum. She stepped outside to be met with a shock. “Oh dear! She said. “Ah’m not in Babbage at all!”
She closed the doors of her TARDIS which was pretending to be a closed newspaper stand, and walked down the street curious to find out where she was. The street seemed vaguely familiar despite being cleaner and filled with more cars then she was used to, although she noticed there was still a trolley line in this time. She passed by a very familiar building building in a mock-tudor style… a hotel of some sort. She reached the front entrance and froze. There was a banner hanging over the door.
“Brunel Hall wishes you all a Happy New Year for 2013!”
“Epp!” Clara squeaked in unhappy surprise. “I’m in Babbage…. But it’s the 21st century!”