February 15th, 2013
Arthur Davenport was regretting his decisions. What had started out as a business opportunity had become a long, lonely drive in the frozen wastelands of Russia. As the only person in the entire company who apparently spoke any Russian, he had been called upon to help facilitate a possible business merger. For a person in his position, this was unprecedented. However, his American accent caused some confusion and… well, let’s say things ended up with Arthur driving back to the hotel by himself. On top of all that, he was pretty sure he was lost.
“Dammit…” Arthur muttered to himself. He was freezing. The cheap rental car’s heater had crapped out an hour ago. The only thing keeping him from getting out and venting his rage on the rental’s hood was the camera mounted on the dashboard, like the ones found in American police cars.
He was about to say screw it and bash the hood in anyway, when something in the sky caught his eye. It looked like some white streak in the sky. It took a second for him to identify it as a meteor . The fireball was leaving a thick, white trail of smoke and debris behind it. As it blazed through the sky, it looked to Arthur like it was blazing right toward him. But that couldn’t be right. It was probably miles and miles away.
However, as the seconds ticked by, the meteor became larger and larger. Suddenly, it flared brighter. Brighter even than the sun. Arthur threw a hand up to block the light, but it was too late. He was blinded. He stomped on the brakes in the hopes of avoiding plummeting into the snowy ditch.
After the screeching of tires subsided, Arthur found himself upright and in one piece, much to his relief. Then there was an utterly deafening explosion, and Arthur’s world went black.
Arthur slowly came to. He had an enormous headache, and his ears were ringing. His first thought was he had a hangover. Then he realized he was hanging upside down and he felt something wet dripping up (down?) his forehead.
He opened his eyes to see the crushed remnants of his windshield, and through it the snowy Russian landscape. He experimentally touched his forehead and winced in pain when he encountered a shallow cut. Just great.
Arthur managed to carefully crawled out from the rental. Well, now he was definitely freezing. As he stood, he caught sight of a nearby utility pole. It was bent awkwardly to the side. It now leaned in the same direction that his car had been blown off the road. Seeing no other vehicles, Arthur guessed that the force from the explosion had sent him into the ditch.
Looking up, Arthur could see the smokey trail left by the meteor. He could also see a starburst shape where the meteor must have exploded in the air. Well, wasn’t that just his luck. He’d been caught in the 1 in a million chance of being caught in a meteor blast. Now he was going to freeze here until somebody else drove by to pick him up. He could try his cell, but he doubted his boss would even answer the phone, and everybody else in his address book was in a different country. At least he could speak Russian. Mostly.
Arthur caught sight of a thin plume of smoke from a nearby field. It didn’t like like smoke from a fire. Maybe it was from a piece of the meteor? Heck, if it was small enough, maybe he could take it with him and sell it. At least he’d get something out of this bust of a trip.
Arthur shivered once, then set off through the field toward the smoke.
It took a few minutes, but eventually Arthur parted the last few stalks of tall grass to finally reach the meteor. Except it wasn’t a meteor. Arthur really wasn’t sure what it was.
What he saw was roughly spherical, about seven to eight feet in diameter, and seemed to be made of some sort of metal, possibly brass, though most of the surface was scorched black. The surface was engraved with many concentric, intertwining shapes. On the spherical section seemed to be ornamental structures you would normally find on a cathedral; spires, flying buttresses, and the like, except much smaller.
Arthur was stunned. Maybe it was some sort of experimental satellite. Whatever it was, it had to be extremely durable. Besides the scorch marks, the surface and ornaments didn’t seem to be dented or damaged in any way.
A faint moan drew Arthur’s attention to what seemed like a lump of earth in the evening light. But as the lump stirred, Arthur could make out the vague shape of a man lying face down in the dirt. The man was wearing what seemed to be a brown, padded leather jacket which was singed in spots. He also wore a brown skull cap. His clothing looked as though it could be a uniform of some sort.
The man moaned again, before turning over onto his back and grabbing his side. Arthur could make out a dark stain spreading out in the fabric underneath.
Arthur slowly crept forward.
“Hey,” he said to the man. “Are you alright?”
Arthur figured the man had the incredible bad luck to have been to close to the… the thing when it hit.
The man grimaced in pain before answering in English with a rich, British accent. “No. No, I don’t think so. I think I’m dying.”
Arthur’s heart sank as he knelt next to the man. He wasn’t a doctor.
“I don’t know what to do,” Arthur said helplessly.
The man shook his head. “Not to worry. I’ll take care of it.” The man began breathing slowly, in and out. “What’s your name?” the man asked.
Arthur wasn’t sure why that would matter at the moment, but he was at a loss for anything else.
“Uh, Arthur. Arthur Davenport.”
The man nodded, then grimaced in pain again. “Nice to meet you, Arthur. I’m the Keeper of the Matrix.”
“Uh…” was all Arthur replied.
“Listen, Arthur,” the Keeper said, attempting to get to his feet. Arthur tried to stop him at first, but the Keeper merely pushed him away. He was surprisingly strong for a man who was supposedly dying. “Arthur, I need you to check the skies. Do you see anything that isn’t a star or satallite?”
Arthur stood up and stared up at the sky. The sun had set and the stars were coming out in force. There was something odd about this man. Maybe he came with the meteor. Maybe the meteor was a-
No, Arthur had to stay grounded. Somebody needed help.
Arthur knelt back down at the Keeper’s side, who was now attempting to stand, still holding his side.
“Just an airplane,” Arthur said.
The Keeper nodded. “Good. The Daleks haven’t found me yet. But they will if we sit here long, enough. Arthur, I need to get into my TARDIS . This… process is going to be difficult enough without assistance.”
Arthur shook his head. “Uh, sir, you’re delirious. You’ve got a pretty bad injury. You’re using words that don’t make any sense. Darleks? Tardis?”
The Keeper nodded. “Yes, my TARDIS. Over there.” He pointed at the meteor. “Be a good lad and check to see if the doorway is clear. There we are.”
The Keeper moaned and gripped his head. Arthur was sure the man was going to fall back over, but he found his footing."
Unsure of what else to do, Arthur decided to humor the man and quickly circle around the meteor. As he circled around the big, elaborate, brassy shape he pulled out his cell phone. The sooner he could get emergency services here, the better.
Just as he was about to dial in the emergency number, Arthur caught sight of what looked like light pouring from the backside of the meteor. He carefully made his way over to see a large, open rectangle emanating light, much like a doorway. There was also smoke coming out of the meteor along the upper edge of the door.
“No. Way,” Arthur muttered to himself. He carefully picked his way through the smoldering, disheveled ground and, against all common sense, entered the doorway. What he saw defied all bounds of logic, reality, and reason.
Inside the seven-foot diameter spherical cathedral, was an enormous, elaborate, sanctuary. Hundred foot tall pillars and archways held up a high, arched ceiling. Tall, Gothic, stained-glass windows lined the walls, each containing concentric shapes similar to the ones on the outer skin. Long, elaborate, scarlet and gold banners hung from the rafters, each with seals and symbols, most of which Arthur didn’t recognize. The ones he did looked like mathematical symbols or letters of the Greek alphabet. In the center of the sanctuary was a large, round, elaborate console with six sides. Each side was covered in glinting buttons and knobs. From the center of the console was a glass tube that extended to the ceiling. Cables wrapped around the tube and run up to and along the ceiling. The crash seemed to have caused several fires and around the console, with even a few of the banners alight. Smoke pored from around the room and the console. A hissing sound alerted Arthur to a crack in the glass column, where a strange gas poured from.
Arthur was momentarily stunned, but a burning in the back of his throat warned him that it probably wasn’t very safe to stay there. He slowly backed out of the sanctuary and once again say the seven-foot meteor. Just to be sure he wasn’t seeing things, Arthur walked a quick circuit around the sphere.
“Arthur!” the Keeper called, snapping Arthur out of his surprised state. “I take it the front door is open, then?”
Wide-eyed, Arthur pointed back at the meteor. “It’s- It’s bigger on the inside!”
The Keeper nodded. “Well, let’s not waste time, then.” He took a step, shouted in pain, then fell back to the ground.
Arthur rushed to his side. “Are you alright?”
“No. I told you, I’m dying. Now help me inside to I can avoid it!”
Arthur helped the Keeper to his feet, and began helping him limp into the TARDIS. Once they passed the threshold, the Keeper visibly brightened up. In fact, despite the smokey conditions, he almost seemed to glow.
The Keeper stumbled to the console, resting his weight. He looked to the ceiling and yelled in a commanding voice. “Extractor fans on!”
A roaring sound began filling the air as the smoke seemed to start sucking out through the ceiling.
“It’s starting,” the Keeper murmured.
Arthur took his eyes off the impossible architecture to see that the Keeper was now literally glowing! Not only that, it looked as if a golden mist was lifting off his hands.
“Stand back,” the Keeper said, eyes closed in deep concentration. “This isn’t going to be pleasant.”
Arthur made his way around the console toward the Keeper. “What’s happening? What’s going on?”
The Keeper’s eyes popped open as he stared at Arthur.
“I said get ba-!” was all the Keeper managed to shout before exploding with golden energy.
The force of the explosion threw Arthur backwards. His body, wreathed in golden energy, slammed into the console. And his world, for the second time that day, went black.