THE HISTORY OF GALLIFREY
The saga requested by Brian Stewart continues. As mentioned in my First Episode, this was going to be a three-parter. But assembling together the events of Ancient Gallifrey took more work than expected. We'll finish up the exploits of Rassilon, here. In future installments, we'll talk about the Doctor's involvement with Gallifrey both before and after the Time Wars....
EPISODE 2: RASSILON FORGES ON ALONE....
With the raw energy provided by Omega's Sacrifice now in place, the Time Lords can truly begin to explore the nature of time. They build more sophisticated and reliable forms of time travel technology. Technology that works symbiotically with its user. Rassilon was as much a scientist as a politician so it is possible that he was responsible for the creation of this form of time travel. Or it could be that the scientists working on the project wanted to pay him tribute. Whatever the case, a process known as the Rassilon Imprimature is required to get this technology to work. From these experiments we see Time Rings and the earliest, fully-functionning TARDISes. At this stage, they resemble the Kartz-Reimer model that we see in The Two Doctors.
With vallidium no longer in the heavens to protect the homeworld, a substitute defense system is needed. It is for this reason that time energy starts being employed to create forms of weaponry. Among these weapons we see things like the D-Mat gun and the Moment. The Time Lords, being wise enough to see that weapons such as these are just far too dangerous, seal away these devices in a special vault that they name after the stellar engineer whose sacrifice made it possible to create them. Public knowledge about the D-Mat gun and how to build it became too widespread, however, and Rassilon takes extra precautions to ensure it cannot be re-built.
Rassilon, at this point in his career, is at something of a crisis point .With Omega gone (and, quite possibly, the Doctor not around to guide him), he no longer has a confidant to bounce his ideas off of. He must forge on and try to mold Time Lord society based on his judgments, alone. The people of Gallifrey, however, do truly look up to him and see him as their leader. It is at this point that Rassilon creates a new post of office. Up until that time, Time Lords were governed by various committees and councils that all, ultimately, answered to a High Council. Rassilon decides that the populace needs a central figure to invest its faith in. Again, we see that weird fusion of feudalism and democracy at work, as Rassilon becomes the first Lord President of Gallifrey. This gesture causes the Time Lords to become more and more obsessed with titles of importance. All kinds of new offices come into existence with very officious-sounding administrators put in place to run them. More and more, the Time Lords are becoming a race of elder statesmen.
THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF RASSILON
During his term of office, Lord President Rassilon makes his most significant contributions to Time Lord society. His first priority becomes a proper way to protect his planet. With research into weapons technology seeming to take the same course over and over, he looks into something more defensive than aggressive. He conceives the concept of a Transduction Barrier. An ultimate force field that has all kinds of special properties to it (which will merit further discussion in a later section). The Gift of Omega is no longer sufficient energy for such a defense system, however. Rassilon needs to find still more power.
Delving further into the Omega's research, Gallifrey's First Lord President realizes that the black hole a supernovae leaves behind can be an energy source in itself. With great caution (he doesn't want a repeat of what happened to the great stellar engineer), Rassilon finds a way to transplant a black hole to his homeworld and lock it into a sort of stasis so that it won't actually harm the planet. He then devises a method that enables him to harness the endless supply of energy that it unleashes. The Eye of Harmony is born.
With this new, near-infinite supply of raw power, the Time Lords can advance themselves' in all sorts of ways. The Transduction Shield is constructed a short while later and Gallifrey is now properly protected. The prototype TARDISes are also all linked to the Eye of Harmony and their capabilities expand massively. They even become dimensionally-transcendental and are given an outer-plasmic shell that can take on any form.
As these advances occur, Rassilon institutes clever ways to ensure that the Lord President never becomes a mere figurehead. That the greatest power and responsibility stays vested in him. He creates the Symbols of Office. There is the Rod of Rassilon - which also doubles as a device that allows one full access to the Eye of Harmony to make any adjustments to its method of energy distribution. With the Rod, comes the Sash of Rassilon - a device that will protect its wearer as it makes those adjustments to the Eye. He also creates the Key of Rassilon - a symbol that is used to ensure that the D-Mat Gun never falls into the wrong hands. Historians believe that the creation of the Symbols of Office may have marked the beginning of what would become the corruption of Rassilon.
OTHER THINGS THAT WERE PROBABLY ALSO THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF RASSILON:
Most of what I've stated, so far, is directly referenced from dialogue that has been spoken about Rassilon in various episodes. But now we must start to hypothesize. Various other important contributions to Time Lord Society probably occured around this time. More than likely, Rassilon was also at the heart of these discoveries. It's not explicitly stated anywhere - but we'll assume it was him.
Time Lord knowledge was growing to an enormous extent, Rassilon knew that all this wisdom needed to be preserved. So he created a central repository of information that he christened the Matrix. So dedicated did the Time Lords become to keeping the Matrix updated, that they would actually allow it to absorb all that they knew just before they died. It was such a complex computer that it created its own micro-universe in order to function properly. With the creation of the Matrix, another Symbol of Office came into existence - the Coronet of Rassilon (there would be some confusion regarding the name of this artifact - we'll come to that later). This artifact would grant its wearer full access to the information the Matrix kept. Naturally enough, it was one more artifact that only the Lord President was allowed to use.
Rassilon also became interested in the longevity of the Time Lords. Science had advanced so that a Time Lord's aging process could be slowed to a point where they could live for several centuries - but he felt that still wasn't enough. Geneticists were set with the task of finding a way to increase a Time Lords lifespan indefinitely. Eventually, a unique energy was harnessed from the Untempered Schism, itself, that enabled a Time Lord to cheat death (again, we don't know just how diverse of a scientist Rassilon was - he may have actually made this discovery, himself). The miracle of regeneration was born. When a Time Lord reached the end of his days, he could use this special energy to call a new body into existence and live a whole new lifespan. Until, again, that body grew too old or damaged and another regeneration could be induced.
Rassilon was concerned, however, about allowing the Time Lords to become truly immortal. No one should have that privilege. So he set a limit to the amount of regeneration energy a Time Lord was allotted. The process could only be induced twelve times. Meaning that a Time Lord was only allowed a maximum of the thirteen bodies. Near the end of the thirteenth incarnation, a Time Lord would give his knowledge to the Matrix and then pass on.
Time Lord society was now complete. They had become a race of near-immortal beings that were fully capable of crossing the boundaries of Time and Space. They were protected from all their enemies and possessed the most powerful computer in the entire the cosmos to store all the data they acquired.
It was a perfect society.
TROUBLE WITH THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE
With all the basic building blocks of his vision of utopia now in place, Rassilon set out to explore the Universe, again. Since the loss of Omega, the Time Lords' concentration had been directed completely inward. It was time, once more, to reach out into the Beyond.
Overall, things did not go well for them. At first, the Time Lords were very encouraged by the results of their explorations. They became acquainted with other races that were also at a highly-advanced stage. Races like the Eternals or the Guardians of Time. They benefitted greatly from those relationships. They re-acquainted themselves' with the Sisterhood of Karn and set up a trade agreement with them so that they could use their Elixir in cases of acute regeneration crisis (the process has always been fairly unpredictable at the best of times).
But then, the Great Vampires began plaguing the Universe. A race of huge parasites that were said to be able to drain the life-force of a whole planet at once. The Time Lords, themselves', were under no threat from them. Their Transduction Barrier protected them. But they saw the danger the Great Vampires posed to lesser civilizations that couldn't repel them. A war was waged where Rassilon invented the mighty bowships: a weapon that could slay a Great Vampire. With the exception of the Great Vampires' Leader, the entire race was slain. The Universe was saved.
But the Time Lords of Gallifrey were greatly sickened by the violence they had witnessed during that war. They petitioned that Gallifrey no longer partake in any acts of attrition that posed no direct threat to them. Rassilon felt they should continue to involve themselves' in such affairs but bowed to the will of his people.
These explorations into the beyond grew even more catastrophic as the Time Lords encounter the Minyans. Rassilon, still campaigning to help the lesser races, sets up a cultural exchange with the people of Minyos. The deal goes totally bad. Advanced technology gets offered to the Minyans at a rate that they are not yet ready to handle. They virtually wipe themselves' out. The few remaining survivors were said to have practically marched the Time Lords out at gunpoint.
Again, there was a great outcry from the Gallifreyan populace. The Time Lords were doing just fine as mere observers of Time and Space. They were protected from all threats - so why not just keep observing and do nothing more? Reluctantly, Rassilon accepted the policy of non-intervention that was being put forward by various committees and councils. The Time Lords consciously choose to isolate themselves' from the rest of the Universe.
THE END OF RASSILON'S REIGN
Details about Rassilon's career begin to become sketchy, at this point. His desire to continue influencing the Universe while the rest of Gallifrey just wants to be safe behind its force field probably causes him to grow restless. Some believe that his restlessness eventually grew into full-blown corruption. That, towards the end of his era as Lord President, Rassilon turned into a despot.
It is at about this time that the Death Zone comes into use. As a means of adjusting to their isolationism, the Time Lords create a special area on their planet where they can use a time scoop to bring in aliens and watch them fight each other. In much the same way as the Romans enjoyed their gladiator fights. Rumors regarding the use of this atrocity are wildly self-contradictory. Some claim it was Rassilon, himself, who started the Death Zone. Others claim that he was outraged that such a place existed and demanded it be shut down. No one knows for sure where the truth lies. It has been lost in the shadows of the past.
Whatever the case, it is shortly after the Death Zone comes into use that Rassilon chooses to end his career as Lord President. Again, there are any number of stories regarding how this plays out. Many speak of the fact that Rassilon had somehow cheated with the imposed regeneration cycle and was actually immortal. But that he went into a sort of long-term suspended animation so that new blood could come into office. In some tales, he voluntarily seals himself up in a sort of "tomb" at the heart of the Death Zone. In other tales, the Time Lords force him to do this. Again, no one truly knows what happens. But Rassilon leaves Gallifrey to its own devices and goes off into a seemingly-eternal sleep. To return again only when he is needed most.
Whether he was forced into retirement or chose to go off into hibernation, the First Lord President took a few precautions to ensure his successors did not get drunk with power. The Symbols of Office embue the Lord President with too much power, so Rassilon secretly gave the Key to his Chancellor and claimed it was lost. This way, the D-Mat gun could never be used again. It was enough that the Lord President had access to the greatest power source and greatest computer on Gallifrey. He didn't need its greatest weapon, too. He also set up a "trick" at his tomb. He allowed a rumour to spread that he was able to grant immortality to anyone else who sought it. In truth, however, if anyone did come to his tomb for such a gift - Rassilon imprisoned them.
CONFUSION OVER THE ARTIFACTS
These events, of course, happened so long ago that it's almost inevitable that information regarding them becomes corrupted. Facts get confused. This is best evidenced in the history of the various artifacts that Rassilon left behind. The names of these items have frequently blurred together. Multiple artifacts will have the same title.
The Coronet of Rassilon is a great example of this. The true Coronet is the one the Lord President wears that allows him/her access to the Matrix. But another relic has also received that title. Apparently, in order to properly protect themselves', the operators of the time scoop for the Death Zone would wear a special piece of head gear that amplified their will. More than likely, they sometimes dealt directly with some of the aliens that they sent into the Game of Rassilon (as it was, sometimes, called) and they needed to ensure that these creatures wouldn't try to harm them. So they could will their gladiators into passive obedience should they suddenly prove unruly. This particular device, however, also garnered the title of the Coronet of Rassilon.
The Key of Rassilon is an even better example of this. The Rod of Rassilon sometimes takes on this name since it is used to unlock the Eye of Harmony. There is also a special key that Matrix engineers can use to effect repairs and access specialized knowledge that is also given that name. Finally, of course, there is the proper Key, itself. Which was lost to the Lord President for many years but has secretly been held by the Chancellor of the High Council of the Time Lords.
One would think, however, that when you have the most powerful computer in the Universe storing this kind of knowledge that mistakes like these wouldn't happen. That the information would stay accurate. It's entirely possible, of course, that no computer can truly combat the effects of passing time - but I say it's something else.
I believe Rassilon purposely spread disinformation towards the end of his reign. He was up to various secret operations during his final days that he didn't want his people to ever know about. So he, somehow, engineered various self-contradictory rumors to circulate during this period of his life so that the truth could never be discovered.
What was he up to? Who can say, for sure. But I do believe that one thing he did was form a secret organization that worked against the Non-Intervention Policy that was established after the Catastrophe of Minyos. This group of Time Lords would still go out on missions that would interfere in the affairs of the rest of Universe. They would only undertake these missions when deemed absolutely necessary, of course, But they kept fairly active throughout all of Time Lord history.
They came to be known as the Celestial Intervention Agency. Or the CIA, for short.
For the sake of posterity, Rassilon did record what truly happened during the twilight of his career. He left none of this data on computers, however. Instead, he wrote it all down on a series of parchments that were entropy-resistant. These parchments came to be known as the Black Scrolls of Rassilon.
And so endeth Episode 2 of the History of Gallifrey saga. More to come....
Did you miss the first part? Here it is: