The Legacy of Gallifrey (short story)

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The Legacy of Gallifrey was a prose story by Gary Russell. Published in Doctor Who Magazine 100, it predated the novel A Brief History of Time Lords as a narrative, in-universe overview of the history of Gallifrey and the Time Lords framed as the unfurling master plan of Rassilon.

Not content to simply summarise TV stories in the manner of a reference work, The Legacy of Gallifrey gave plenty of new information about Gallifrey's history and various notable Time Lords' lives. It posited a compressed timeline for Gallifrey, with the Doctor and the Master's generation coming only one or two generations after Rassilon's death: their inspiration for becoming Renegade Time Lords, Azmeal, had been Rassilon's last confidant in his final incarnation.


After their translation, the Scrolls of Gallifrey reveal the true history of the planet of the Time Lords. This unlikely tale of dimensional engineering and academic closed-mindedness starts with the genetic engineering of cats to lead all the way to the presidency and reforms of Flavia


After fragments of an ancient document in an alien language are found in St. Paulo's Churchyard by tourists, a group of dedicated linguists and historians led by a certain Mr Russell end up cracking the code of Postar the Perfidious and translating the true history of the planet Gallifrey.

That history begins in a time before the edict of the Laws of Time, when most Gallifreyans instead turned to the stars and worked on interstellar travel to make themselves into gods for lesser species. Only a small fraction of the population remained on Gallifrey and had the sense to work to build a future there. Among them are solar engineers who, after discovering that it is impossible to compute the square root of minus 3, decide to have their biological engineers design an intelligent species they would seed throughout the universe, whose purpose would be to teach all species they encountered that there was no sense in wasting resources on computing this nonexistent square root. These creatures become the Gallifreyan cats, a symbol of intelligence on Gallifrey ever after.

One of the solar engineers, Rassilon, wishes to see more of the universe than one could see in a lifetime, even with the fastest ships, and thus dreams of immortality. His friend Omega, recognising that immortality is currently impossible, instead turns his mind to investigating the possibility of time travel as another way to see planets past and future which would remain out of reach of mortals otherwise. After working on the project of 3 years, they come to the conclusion that if they can detonate a black hole and funnel the power back to Gallifrey in a controlled fashion, they will have found "the answer to time travel". The Gallifreyan Council (then wholly Arcalian) is uninterested in the proposal, with the Council Leader, Tussan, deciding to belittle the two engineers by asking his (intelligent) cat for his opinion. The cat, to everyone's surprise, is of the opinion that the Council should finance the project, and Tussan is forced to honour his word.

As planning goes underway, it becomes clear that one engineer must venture into the black hole alone and detonate it, while another operates the mast back on Gallifrey which will funnel all the explosion's power. While Omega makes "the ultimate sacrifice" detonating the black hole, Rassilon remains behind a console controlling the mast, and gets all the credit after the experiment succeeds. Renamed the Eye of Harmony, the mast infused with temporal energy is buried deep beneath the floor of the Capitol, and locked away with the Great Key. As the years pass, the Eye's power grows unbidden, and Rassilon eventually decides to venture down to check exactly how. Gaining a greater understanding of the Eye's contents than anyone short of the late Omega, he is able to stabilise its elements into a "perpetually dynamic equation" balanced against the very mass of Gallifrey. This has the side-effect of making it impossible ever to remove the Eye from the planet: if this were done, the planet would turn into anti-matter wholesale. Realising what a latent threat this power source has become, Rassilon devises a further safeguard against tampering with the Eye, a sash.

Rassilon's body begins to age and decay at an accelerated rate due to the strain of interacting with the trapped elemental forces of the Eye. He is forced into retirement by Tussan's Council, being offered a pension and a seat on the largely-powerless Prydonian opposition council on the condition that he surrender the Sash, and thus, control of the Eye, to them. In his anger, Rassilon instead tears the Sash apart. As he is taken away by the Chancellery Guard to be punished, the dying engineer collapses to the floor, the stress of the situation finally killing him. However, before the guards' astonished eye, the first regeneration of any person on the planet of Gallifrey takes place as Rassilon's face grows younger and his brown hair turns fair.

The awed fame Rassilon accrues during the following days due to his seemingly-supernatural transformation allows him to depose Tussan and assume leadership of the Council. He sets about restructuring Gallifreyan society, and creates a new elite by choosing a 100 Gallifreyan from each chapter to be granted the privilege of standing in front of the Eye and being infused with its power, thus making them into Time Lords capable of regenerating, an ability they will pass down to their children. Meanwhile, Tussan's cat, deciding it is destined for greater things than being the pet of a deposed Arcalian, deserts him and joins Rassilon, declaring "I am the cat that walks by himself and all places are alike to me".

Over the next few centuries, Rassilon, now possessing immortality, turns back to the matter of time travel. Time capsules are developed under the name of TARDIS (for "Time And Relative Dimensions In Space") and, a short while later, made bigger on the inside after the Time Lords dicover transdimensional engineering. Confident that everything is running smoothly, Rassilon decides to use his people's newfound power over Time and Space for entertainment, creating the Death Zone and the "Game of Rassilon" wherein which anything from anywhere in Time and Space could be Time Scooped into the Zone and forced to fight for its life as it attempted to reach the Dark Tower, from which survivors would be returned home.

The other Time Lords (and Tussan's cat) are horrified at this misuse of their power, but are unable to reason with Rassilon, whom the Cardinal Pandad only manages to convince that the Game is a bad idea when the fight between some Scooped Daleks and Cybermen ends with the Cybermen not only winning, but threatening to destroy the Dark Tower. Since the Tower channeled part of the power of the Eye of Harmony as part of the Time Scoop process, destroying the Tower might mean the Cybermen would be exposed to the same effects as the Gallifreyans and gain mastery over Time and Space. The risk of an unrelenting warlike species like them becoming equal to the Time Lords is enough for Rassilon not only to lock away the Time Scoop from the Eye's power using the Great Key, but also to declare that anyone who now came to the Death Zone seeking immortality would have to pay the price.

By then nearing his twelfth regeneration, Rassilon puts it off when he learns of a creature called the Fendahl rampaging on the fifth planet in the Sol system in Mutter's Spiral. To defeat it, the High Council decides to disintegrate the planet, put a force field sealing its former location from the outside universe, and permanently reverses Time within that spot so that the Fendahl would never have existed. This brute-force approach is seen as a victory by the Patrex councilman Morbius, but is not approved of by Rassilon. When he learns that an Arcalian senate on the planet Minyos has been destroyed, he decides enough is enough and edicts a series of Laws of Time. Satisfied with his work at long last, Rassilon relinquishes the Presidency to Pandad, letting Time Lord government settle in a new and complicated form involving a President, a Chancellor, a Castellan and the High Council.

Though retired and once more working on his own scientific undertakings, Rassilon takes Chancellor Azmeal into his confidence, instructing him of the whereabouts of the Great Key but also decreeing that from this day forwards, no Chancellor knowing the secret of the Key will be allowed to ascend to the Presidency. The project Rassilon is working on turns out to be another bid at immortality: the Matrix, a sort of "psychic history book" into which the minds of dying Time Lords could be uploaded. Rassilon leaves it dormant and refuses to share its workings with anyone, ruling that as the first and greatest of the Time Lords, he should have the privilege of being the first one to achieve digital immortality as well, if and when a time of true death arose for him. Indeed, as he attempts a thirteenth regeneration, Rassilon realises the regeneration cycle granted by exposure to the Eye of Harmony only grants twelve renewals, and a thirteenth is impossible. He teaches Azmeal the workings of the machine and lets his mind pass into the Matrix; his body is transported to the Dark Tower, which becomes known as the Tomb of Rassilon.

Some time into Pandad's presidency, a Patrex councillor, Morbius, begins to question the received wisdom that after Rassilon gave the Presidency to his fellow Prydonian Pandad, the power should stay with the Prydonian Chapter. Extremely popular among Patrexes and Arcalians, Morbius finds himself becoming a sort of cult leader in whose plans lust for power is intermingled with demands for a more egalitarian Gallifrey where all three castes would be represented on the High Council and all Gallifreyans would be granted regeneration. Pandad considers granting both of the latter request, but finds Morbius's demands to be made Lord President unacceptable and tries to exile him and his most vocal supporters. Morbius escapes and, travelling through Time, amasses a huge "army of evil" with which to take the Capitol by force. Whole generations of Time Lords and Gallifreyans die in battle in the ensuing Civil War until Pandad drives Morbius's army to Karn, where both armies are destroyed, as are most of the natives.

After the Civil War's final battle, a trial is held for Morbius on Karn, to the annoyance of the Sisterhood of Karn, the last institution of Karn still operating, who wish for nothing more than to see the Time Lords out of sight and out of mind. At the trial's close, Pandad makes a dramatic announcement that Morbius will become the first Time Lord to be executed, but, as he makes this historic decree, he misjudges his footing and falls over a cliff to his death. Confusion ensues, but Helron seems to manage, just in time, to operate the disintegration chamber in which Morbius was to be executed, and things go back to normal.

An uneasy peace is established with the Sisterhood, with the Sisterhood agreeing to supply Gallifrey with Elixir of Life to allow more Gallifreyans to regenerate even now that the Eye of Harmony is out of reach. To placate Morbius's political supporters, Helron, after making himself the new President, agrees to put a Cardinal and a Councillor from each caste on the High Council, but decrees that in exchange, the President and Chancellor will always have to be from the same Chapter. This means Azmeal's dismissal, though this allows the former Chancellor to devote himself entirely to the study of the Matrix. As he investigates the secrets of Rassilon's last creation, Azmeal progressively becomes aware that Rassilon is still aware within the Matrix and subtly manipulating events in the physical world.

Growing wary of the power Azmeal's knowledge of the Matrix grants him, Helron attempts to force Azmeal into retiring from Gallifrey once he reaches his last regeneration. Azmeal publicly speaks out against the Council in anger, and ends up having to flee the planet of his own accord to escape retaliations from Helron. He is hunted down by a warrior race in Helron's employ, who atomise the planet on which he was hiding. Out of his mind, Azmeal returns to Gallifrey the first and most bloodthirsty of Renegade Time Lords, and slaughters Helron and the High Council. Decreed Public Enemy Number One by the new High Council, he is cautiously allowed to escape from Gallifrey with all he needs to continue his study of the Matrix, and subsequently left alone.

At the Time Lord Academy, a new generation of unusually gifted students arise. The horrors of the Civil War fresh on their minds, and with the example of Azmeal in mind, they come to agree with Rassilon's final pronouncement that Gallifreyan civilisation had entered a state of decay. A group of three, in particular, keep conducting rebellious, anti-hierarchical activities: the Doctor, a happy-go-lucky scientist who spends his days conducting "silly" chemistry experiments with Drax; the Master, a domineering bully who's a fantastic cosmic theoretician but rubbish at practical classes; and a girl called Rani, who is "good at everything" but at chemistry in particular. Cardinal Borusa keeps a close watch on them and gradually realises that none of them have much of a future on Gallifrey, though he also recognises their remarkable potential in the abstract.

The Master is the first one to attempt to escape from Gallifrey, and in style, worming his way into Professor Salyavin's confidence to gain access to Gallifrey's libraries and thereby steal The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey. The plan falls through and Salyavin finds himself implicated while the Master gets away scot-free. In spite, Salyavin decides not only to escape from the special prison planet to which he is sent, but to actually steal the book which he was wrongfully accused of having tried to steal. The Doctor eventually becomes a member of the High Council, but although he fulfills his obligations, he makes no secret of wanting more out of life than being "an intergalactic policeman". Following the example of the Master, who has by now departed from Gallifrey, the Doctor steals a Type 40, Mark One TARDIS from the TARDIS repair shop, taking his equally nosy granddaughter along with him on his "quest".

However, as he sets out into the universe, he is being watched — not by the High Council or the Master, but rather by Rassilon and other dead Time Lords, who remain conscious inside the Matrix as the Matrix Lords, who are capable of stretching their mental powers back into the physical world via the APC Net. To help him rule the universe from the shadows and maintain cosmic balance, Rassilon uses these increased mind powers to give rise to Guardians of Time, one of Evil and another of Good, with whom he entrusts the Key to Time. To act as the Matrix Lords' eyes and ears, and covert agents, on Gallifrey, Rassilon also creates a secret service, the Celestial Intervention Agency, most of whose lower operatives are under the impression that they work for the Presidency rather than for Rassilon through the APC Net.

However, Rassilon also decides that he wants a freelance Time Lord operative in the wider universe, and decides that the Doctor is perfect for the job. He and the Matrix Lords begin to manipulate the travels of the Doctor, though it is not until the Second Doctor finds himself facing the Great Intelligence a second time, in the London Underground, that he begins to suspect some greater force is using him for its own designs. The C.I.A. eventually contacts him openly to have him put an end to an attempt by the Sontarans to develop time travel and rival Gallifrey. During this mission, the Second Doctor finds himself bumping into his future self by accident, and, horrified at the possible consequences of having broken the First Law of Time, he runs away from his duties again, this time his duties to the CIA.

The Doctor ends up having to call for the Time Lords' help, however, to get large numbers of human soldiers, transported to a foreign time and place by an alien race, back to their proper time and place. The Time Lords catch the culprits, discovering that another rebellious member of the High Council was responsible for the aliens' time-travel abilities. The Doctor is put on trial, and sentenced to exile by three members of the High Council: Prydonian councillor Goth, Arcalian councillor Adelphi and the new Prydonian High Chancellor, Socra, who was secretly a member of the CIA.

Socra then pressures the President, President IV, into sending another member of the High Council to Earth to warn the Doctor about the Master, who is now out for revenge. The CIA continues to contact the exiled Doctor for occasional services, feeling free to do so now that the Doctor is dependent on Socra's good graces with the President for his eventual pardon. This release comes after Omega returns to the universe, out for revenge, a fact the Matrix Lords had, for the first time in Gallifrey's history, been wholly unable to foresee. The Doctor's first three incarnations foiling Omega for what appears to be the last time is the perfect excuse Socra needed to demand the Doctor's freedom from President Pandad IV. When Pandad IV demands an explanation, however, Socra is forced to reveal the existence of the CIA to him. The President chooses to keep it a secret, however, so as not to lessen the public's trust in the Presidency.

The Rani, by then a high-ranking member of Gallifrey's hierarchy, falls from grace when one of her experiments into accelerated growth in living beings causes some mice to grow to giant size and turn predatory. The giant mice take a chunk out of President Pandad IV (triggering a regeneration) and eat his cat as well as Chancellor Socra. The Rani is exiled, turning renegade, and Pandad IV never found another cat, thus putting an end to a tradition that had started with Rassilon himself. Hurriedly, Pandad IV chooses Goth as his new High Chancellor. Thirty years later, this forces an ageing Pandad to admit to Goth that this meant his ambition of becoming Lord President could not be fulfilled, and the position would have to go to Cardinal Borusa. This leads to the embittered Goth plotting with the Decayed Master to depose Pandad, blackmailing the CIA to allow himself this breach of tradition.

The Master's plot is foiled by a new incarnation of the Doctor after he leaves Goth to die, with Borusa later changing the official histories so that Goth appeared to have been a hero. The Doctor flees Gallifrey despite having offered himself as Lord President, leaving Gallifrey without a Head of the Presidency — and effectively ruled by newly-promoted Chancellor Borusa — by the time of the Sontaran invasion of Gallifrey, for which the Doctor agrees to once more act as President of Gallifrey before resigning and leaving the reins of power officially in Borusa's hands. The sheer stress of this much power causes Borusa to use up one of his regenerations.

Well-liked for his efficient, reformist government — which includes himself, a Prydonian President, but also the Arcalian Chancellor Thalia, a Patrex councillor called Hedin, and the Prydonian Cardinal Zorac. This new Council strives to make Gallifrey "a decent place", and is successful for many years, but Omega's return, a surprise to the CIA, sees the ancient Time Lord breaking the Council apart by manipulating Hedin and leading him to his death. For all that the immediate threat of Omega is thwarted (once more) by the Doctor, the High Council is in disarray.

Borusa begins to believe that with all he has weathered as leader of the Time Lords, he deserves to become President Eternal and rule Gallifrey forever. Claiming to foresee a time when Borusa's presidency will lead to Gallifrey's ruination, Rassilon and the Matrix Lords reactive the Death Zone for the fourth time since Rassilon's physical death and lure Borusa with revived legends of the prize of the Game of Rassilon being true immortality. After Rassilon smites down two High Council envoys sent into the Zone by Borusa under false pretences (Thalia and Zorac), he decides to use the Time Scoop to bring the last five incarnations of the Doctor to the Death Zone to act as his scouts. At the conclusion of the Game, Rassilon's trap closes around Borusa, who is imprisoned forever inside the Tomb of Rassilon as a sentient stone bust while the Doctor is returned home.

This leaves the Prydonian Flavia as Acting President, with the blessing of Rassilon's shade. Her first decision as President is to destroy the Game Room, and the second is to be given an intelligent cat as an advisor, thus returning to the old traditions. She decides to name the cat after the Doctor.