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sacrifice

With an effort, President Pandak, the First of Gallifrey, tore his gaze away from the window of his office. The office was in the highest tower on the planet and looked out over the Citadel beneath; sprawling out like some huge termite's nest to the horizon and further. Eighty percent of the planet was covered by the Citadel and Pandak often stood for hours gazing out upon it. He could afford no distractions now, however, he turned to the man standing before him and with an
elegantly manicured hand gestured to the visi-screen set on the wall, upon which a small, red star was visible.

'There it is, Cardinal Rassilon, the Mylean system; about to be detonated by your solar engineers. I hope noting will go wrong.'

'My Lord,' said Rassilon, a reproving tone in his voice, 'if even the slightest thing were wrong you would have been notified. Do you think that I would risk both the destiny of Gallifrey and the new power-source in any way? The new Time Travel facility is my life, I would do nothing to jeopardise it. Everything that could go wrong has been anticipated and dealt with. Nothing has been left to chance.'

Pandak's hand slammed down on the desk. 'Rassilon, we cannot afford any mistakes. I know how hard you and Omega fought to get this project ratified by the High Council. We both know that it may be the salvation of Gallifrey, but there are people who have opposed it from the start; Councillors Tian, Tomoas and Pitron in particular. If just one thing were to go wrong we would be finished...'

Pandak dropped his gaze. He continued hesitantly as if he were searching for the best way to put what he had to say. 'I have been checking over your calculations using the APC network, Rassilon. I know the layout of the energy collectors positioned around the star. I realise that the random stellar fluctuations mean that the cobalt bombs must be detonated by hand to ensure an optimum blast pattern. I understand that, due to his experience, Omega is the best choice to do this.' He raised his eyes to meet Rassilon's and with a voice half accusation and half plea asked:

'I have discovered that the shockwaves from the exploding star will travel through hyperspace faster than Omega's retreating ship. If that bomb is launched by hand, Omega will die, Rassilon?'

'There is no 'why' about it. It is fact.'

'You know what I mean; why did you tell no-one? Why did you continue with the project? You must have known!'

Rassilon was well into his eleventh regeneration and at that moment he looked every century of it. He passed a weary hand over his brow and said resignedly, 'If the bombs had been launched by a robot ship, then the star would not have received sufficient energy. If a living being launched them it would have been successful but that person would have died. You see the problem I was faced with? If it were known that there would be loss of life then the project would have been ratified. It was my life, my dream, I could not see it die.'

There was silence in the room for a few brief seconds. Finally Pandak said:

'Did Omega know?'

'Of course not.'

'Then may the White Guardian protect us, Rassilon. If Omega dies your name alone will go down in history as the most ruthless Gallifreyan traitor ever. The detonation must be stopped immediately!'

Rassilon glanced at the chronometer on the wall. 'My Lord,' he began, 'I fear it is too--'

He was interrupted as the screen flared into eye-numbing whiteness, throwing everything in the office into sharp, vivid relief. Phototropic polarisers dimmed the intensity of the screen before it burned out as the star went super-nova.

'What in the name of Chaos was that?' shouted Pandak, desperately covering his eyes.

Rassilon only stared with sightless eyes into the inferno of star death.

'Our destiny,' he whispered.

written by
ANDREW LANE
copyright 2009

artwork by
COLIN JOHN
copyright 2009