The 13th b’ak’tun
K’iche froze, hammer still in the air, poised to make the last mark in a stone inscription he’d been working on for so many years. The noise from the courtyard outside, a weird, pulsing, roar that pierced the humid air, made his hair stand on end.
He rose partially to his feet, enough to give him a view through the window of the stone temple, and saw the morning sun eclipsed by the Blue Box.
Willing his pulse to slow enough for him to keep his aim steady, K’iche sat back down and carefully made the last mark in the circular stone, exactly where the astronomers had instructed it should go. Then he carefully laid the hammer down and dropped to his knees, head bowed.
“Oh, hello!” The strangely garbed man strode in as if he owed the place – which he did, in a way – and unhesitatingly grabbed K’iche’s arm to help him up. “K’iche, yes? I’m the Doctor.”
“On behalf of all my people I am honored, god Doctor.” He refused to meet his guest’s eyes, instead gazing at an outfit of brown trousers, strange footwear and unknown materials.
“Yes, well …” The Doctor glanced behind him, and K’iche noticed a young woman, also dressed oddly, in the doorway. She nodded at the Doctor, giving him an encouraging – and pointed – look.
“Ah, yes – fantastic.” Producing a strange silver device, the Doctor waved it over the finished inscription. K’iche stumbled back when the little stick glowed and emitted a whine. “Just as I thought. Don’t worry, K’iche, this isn’t dangerous to you at all, much. As a, um, god, I need you to start a new inscription for me.”
Oh. Five more years bent over a stone tablet, carving out symbols. “It shall be as you wish, god Doctor. Your coming was prophesized by the great goddess of the River, but your purpose was not.” K’iche gestured up toward the inner wall of the temple, above the doorway. The others turned to see the carved outline of the Blue Box and proof of the god’s identity, the badge of honor he wore beneath his chin. “She told my great-grandfather that your tie of bow would bring coolness.”
“The goddess River –? Well, of course.” The Doctor put his magic stick away and again glanced back at the girl, who shrugged. And grinned. “Right. Well, what I need you to do is extend your calendar for another, oh, five thousand years or so.”
K’iche froze. Suddenly his moment of joy turned to terror. “I … wish to obey, god Doctor, but …”
Encouraged by the god’s mild tone, K’iche took a breath. “We were instructed to extend our long count calendar to the 13th b'ak'tun only – Instructed by the god Itzamna himself.” He chanced a look at the Doctor’s angular face, and saw the god raise an eyebrow.
“Itzamna? Orange robe, weird hat, tall, skinny, insufferable?”
A pretty good description, actually. “Ah … very tall, orange robe, yes.” Considering the way Itzamna responded to a doubter among K’iche’s people by freezing the man solid – in the middle of summer – repeating any insults seemed unwise.
The girl gave the Doctor a questioning look. “One of you?”
“Not exactly.” The Doctor waved her off. “You let me worry about Itzamna. He won’t harm you, and he won’t destroy the calendar. But you have to understand, what you’d doing here, it’s a cause and effect thing. You’re at a crux point – if you don’t extend the end date, it really could bring terrible events beyond having to print up more calendars.”
K’iche didn’t really understand, but he got the point. “It shall be as you wish, god Doctor.”
“Just make sure you have the next thirteen b’ak’tun done by … well, there really isn’t much of a rush, is there? Before the first one runs out.”
The Doctor turned and swept through the door, followed by the girl. Frozen for a moment, K’iche had to hurry to catch up. He saw startled priests enter the courtyard, catch site of the Box and its occupants, and prostrate themselves. At least there would be witnesses. “But god Doctor –!”
“Take your time, do it right. Oh, and stop with the ritual sacrifices, would you? Those aren’t cool.” With a wave, the Doctor followed his companion through the wooden door with the strange markings.
The Blue Box wheezed and faded, leaving K’iche to explain his conversation with a god to people who, fortunately, could testify that he hadn’t been drinking too much fermented juice. Although a night of
drinking might be a nice break before he started the new project.
Itzamna the god watched the chattering group of priests and astronomers go into the temple. They couldn’t see him, so he didn’t bother hiding his annoyance. Insurable Time Lord! For all the power his people wielded, the one unyielding rule they had was to never cross the Time Lords, especially this one. His plan to enjoy planetary fireworks in a few millennia had come to nothing.
Still … while he couldn’t destroy the new calendar, or stop the Mayans from making it, nothing said he couldn’t store it in a safe place once it was finished. Maybe … beneath the Antarctic ice cap? Then he’d still get his fun, when people of another era found the original calendar and realized it would end. After that maybe, rather than destroying humanity, he’d let them stick around and see how entertaining they could be, in what they thought of as the distant future. It might be best to wait until they achieved space flight before putting them on trial.
Yes. He was getting bored being Itzamna anyway – instead, it was time for him to do what he did best: Mess with people. What was the point of belonging to the Q Continuum if you couldn’t have some fun?