Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Cup of Cosmic Tea

"All right, Doctor. It's later, and I want to know," I said. We were both back on board the
TARDIS. The Doctor was dancing around the console, exuberantly. I recognized it right away. It was Rumplestilsken again. It would have been pretty funny if I didn't understand, even a little bit, the danger behind such a thing. "Would you stop flailing and tell me please?"

 "Does it matter how we got away? Isn't it more important that we did?" He asked.

 "I guess so," I replied. "I don't remember much."

"What do you recall?"

"It's image soup," I said, disappointedly. "It's like giving me the keys to everything and then having them taken away. But I don't remember why it was important in the first place."

"Beleive me; it's for the best, Jessica. Human brains can't have all that swimming in their grey matter and survive." The shadow man tapped his head. "Limited hard drive. It's not your fault. It's only a fact of your biology."

 "At least it worked out. The trees survived, and the planet is safe. They could propagate more. Who knows, maybe someday you will get the replacement parts for the TARDIS." I thought a moment. "You never said what that planet's name was."


 "Okay, so what about the book? What is in it? What does it say?"

"It's horrible. Are you sure you want to know?" He asked. Reaching over to the console, he held up the book given to him by the Vasha. It was a small book that was a little bigger than his hand. The cover appeared to be made of wood, and it didn't look like it had paper pages. "It's terrible. It's destructive." He wiggled it at me. "This book could change the universe, as you know it, forever. Paradoxes will unweave the fabric of space. Time corridors will shift. Rifts will be unlocked. Souls will be imperiled," he said, dramatically.

"Or it's an ancient alien's shopping list," I said, sardonically. "It isn't a real book. It has no paper pages. That is more like a tablet or a hard drive. A technologically advanced, Roman, wax tablet; an etch-a sketch.  Plug it in and tell me what it says already."

He dropped his static arm in disappointment. "21st-century humans! It is getting harder and harder to impress you!" he scoffed. "Decades of sci-fi has made you blind to true genius. "

"Yes, it's called conditioned insensitivity," I replied. "Being a geek does have its drawbacks. Now, get on with it, already." The shadow man huffed. He turned to the console and pulled out a USB cord. I pointed at him. "HA! I knew it!"

"Shut up," he muttered and plugged in the device. It made a tinkling sound, and he opened it. The inside of the book opened up and projected 3-D, holographic images of gears and symbols. The Doctor reached up and played with the images and symbols as if they were real. "This doesn't make sense," he grumbled.

"Especially from my angle," I said. I was expecting words, audio, or a film sequence. "I thought the TARDIS translated stuff like that."

 The shadow man shook his static head. "Not if it is older than she is." He played with the images again. "This text is garbled. It reads like insanity."

I took a deep breath. "If it looks insane to you, maybe I should leave the room. There are stories on Earth about ancient texts like that."

 He scoffed. "You're fine. It's not that kind of insanity." The Doctor reached up and played with the gears. "For example, 'contempt to the following nine, in ratio to Vulcan at the 12th parallel of the other. In retrograde to Killonmonroe, at the speed of Kreevax. Eggs will birth for a cook's sake, at the hour of ether's Dawn."

I laughed. "That's complete bag'o' hammers, Doctor. Sounds like you need Rosetta Stone."

"What?" he asked.

 "A Rosetta Stone." I got no response from him. I sighed. "Doctor, you have been everywhere and done everything. Are you going to tell me you don't know what the Rosetta Stone is?"

"If I did, I have forgotten it."

 "In short words, a code breaker; an ancient Egyptian, Turning machine. If you know what language it is, then you can translate it. For all, you know that could be three languages at the same time, in a weird Rebus Puzzle. Hence, the Rosetta Stone remark."

"The Rosetta Stone is in three languages?" he asked.

"Doctor? Really?" I swallowed my shock from the absent response. "Okay, the Rosetta Stone is a declaration made by Ptolemy the fifth, enacting the creation of a divine cult..."

"Oh! Oh!" He pointed at me, then abruptly turned to the images again. "The Pararoh's Stele! Written in Greek, Demotic, and Egyptian languages!" He paused for a moment. "I'm surprised that survived, considering...well..." He left off that statement and played with the images again. "If that is true, then I can discover the author of the text at the least."

"And how will you manage that?"

"Becuase like any written text, there is usually something to indicate who wrote it or who the text is about."

"You hope," I said.

"Well, Time-lords are funny like that. Each Timelord's name has a corresponding picture or symbol. Mine is a question mark."

I laughed at him. "So you're name is literally, Doctor Who 'question mark'!"

 "Technically, yes."

I stopped laughing because that made perfect sense, for all its absurdity. Then I had a thought. "Hey, if you had a device it would be a field azure, emblazoned charge question mark proper, argent! That is so funny!"

"Nope, you forgot affronte, regardant, sinister."


 "Feild azure, emblazoned charge question mark proper, argent, affronte, regardant sinister."

 "Becuase you are on guard, but looking behind to the left?"


 I raised my brow. "That doesn't make sense to me, but if you say so." I didn't believe him. It didn't sound like any heraldry I was familiar with; especially the last part about affornte andregardant and sinister. "Is that official? I mean, is that a granted device?"

 "In five hundred thousand million separate systems, over eight hundred thousand independent planets, and no telling how many realms, kingdoms, counties, parishes, provinces, orders, and fraternities. In times ranging from the beginning to the end of time." He nodded. "Oh, yeah, and Earth."

"You're lying again," I accused. He wanted me distracted with he played with the images of the hologram. "Why don't you want me to see what you are doing? What can it hurt? I can't read it."

 The Shadow man stopped playing with the gears. "No, I'm not! I have papers from three of your queens!"

"Doctor, I'm an American. I don't have any queens."

 "Yes, you do!" He ran up the stairs to the reading area and towards one of the spinning circles on the wall.  Then, he opened one like a door panel. Sifting through a stack of papers and seemingly useless junk, he pulled out three official looking Documents. Then, he ran back to me and thrust them into my hands. "Here! See for yourself, three Queens and one Emperor!"

"You are ridiculous. An emperor?" Imagine my shock as I looked down at the paper and saw the signature of Joshua Abraham Norton the First, Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico! "Is granted award of arms, this day August 13th, year of our Lord, 1862," I read aloud. "Feild azure,  emblazoned charge question mark proper, argent, affronte, regardant sinister." I looked up at him and smiled. "Thought you said you didn't travel with Americans."

"Oh, I didn't. He couldn't leave the country. He was an Emperor! No, San Fransisco had an earthquake problem I had to fix."

 "You didn't do a very good job then! The 1906 was horrible," I said.

"Yeah, I know. It escaped," he went back to the hologram.

"This is absurd. Joshua Norton was a madman, benevolent, but still looney."

 "Didn't stop him from being an emperor," replied the Doctor, casually.

 I went back to the papers. "Grace Kelley, Caroline Astor, and Nan Kempner," I read aloud. "Okay, beggar man, I can see Grace Kelley, but Astor and Kempner weren't exactly monarchy."

 "No, but they were American aristocracy. And what is a Queen but the top line of the aristocracy?"

 "All right you got me there," I said and placed the papers back on the console. "So while I was distracted with your name and coat of arms, have you discovered anything?"

"Not yet, I have to realign this set of...." he dropped his hands and stepped back from the hologram. "That can't be," he whispered.

"I think we both must admit to being so steeped in myth right now, that we could make a good cup of cosmic tea. Doctor, just say it."

His shadow static body turned towards me. "We have to go to Karn. I need to speak with the Hermit." I went silent. "This is the symbol of the Hanging Man."

previous                        Rise the Moon

next                               This is not Karn

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