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Orpheus and the Dark Aether – Chapter 20: Epilogue Part 1

The Mystic Cat hung in the void beyond the Aether Cracks, surrounded by a vast whiteness. With nothing existing in this void, the ship had retaken its normal appearance. Inside, shielded from the effects of the nothingness, Orpheus paced. He had just entered the void hadn’t he? So why did it feel like days had passed with no incident. Then he remembered what he had found from his probe – time passed at a different rate here than it did outside. As he settled in for the wait he became faintly aware of the voices outside. Activating the external microphones, he heard what sounded like the voices of New Babbage, all overlapping. As his analytical engine processed the sounds, he became accutely aware that he was hearing the events of at least two separate time streams… one the original timeline where Babbage fell to the monsters, but one where the city was winning! As Orpheus tried to reconcile the paradox, the ship’s alarms sounded, warning him of an impending collision.

“What is out here that I am going to collide with?” shouted Orpheus. Suddenly, with very little warning, he saw…

“That can’t be right?”

His own Tardis was coming right towards him, and by the looks of things, it had taken one hell of a beating. Flames leapt from within. It was clear that it did not have long. Orpheus knew that the destruction of a Tardis was sufficient to create cracks in time like the ones that had been in New Babbage. This was the moment; if he could find a way to prevent, or at least contain, the explosion, then perhaps the cracks would seal.

“What would they do?” he pondered, thinking of the brave men and women, who at that moment were fighting for their lives as well. He suddenly remembered an advertisement he had seen, one in which dynamite was used to prevent damage from… well, he didn’t remember what.

“Of course,” he thought. “If I calibrate my defense system just right, I can create a trans-polaric counter wave of a negative magnitude in which to offset the temporal aetheric waves generated by the destruction of the Eye of Harmony.”

He quickly recalibrated a few settings and prepared to fire at his own ship. The timing had to be just right. He waited, and waited, but finally he saw the ship burst forth in a fiery display as the damage was too great. As the flames spread into the void, Orpheus fired his defense beam. It hit the resulting shockwave head on, and pushed it back towards the initial explosion. Eventually, the shockwave collapsed in on itself and the destroyed Tardis simply faded from view. As Orpheus silently congratulated himself, he also became aware that the voices from outside had slowly given way to one outcome…. and by the sound of it, New Babbage had survived. The voices faded away as the other cracks sealed. Orpheus was happy for the people who he had grown to care about, but became sad as the truth about his situation sunk in. He had sealed the cracks from within, but in doing so he had prevented himself from returning. He pulled up a chair and fell asleep. He did not see the blip indicating a single crack remaining, deep in the heart of New Babbage….

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