Friday, September 21, 2007

Non-Obligatory Ninth Doctor birthfic

Well, what better way to cure a deathfic than to write a birthfic? This is the companion piece of Farewell to Shadowlands, showing what happened before and after the Eighth Doctor dallied with the afterlife (for what it's worth, Charley and C'Rizz appear to have completely different fates before the Time War starts and Destrii appears to survive). Imagine you have the first episode of Season 27 told not from Rose's point of view, but the Doctor's...

R.O.S.E - Return Of Some Extra-terrestrials

Everything is prepared. We believe. We are faithful. The operation will begin... soon.


The Doctor woke up screaming.

He often did that. Well, of late. The sudden jolt into consciousness gave him enough stimuli to block out the nightmares he suffered – at least long enough for him to get tangled up in some other distraction. Yes, other people’s problems seemed so desirable nowadays. Unlike his own, they seemed solvable.

The Doctor got off the battered chaise lounge and looked around the control room of his battered Time And Relative Dimension In Space machine. The old girl had not been the latest model when he’d borrowed her some millennia ago, and after the damage sustained during the War she was being run on the smell of artron energy and an old pair of tights.

The control chamber was now large and vaguely dome-shaped, supported by curving bronze root-like pillars and composed of overlapping bronze plates. He’d managed to keep a type of roundel decoration out of nostalgia, but now found himself trying to avoid looking at the pattern – it reminded him too much of Dalek sensor domes.

The Doctor strode up the gantry towards the control console. It had been taken apart and put back together so many times most of its circuitry was exposed and half the control systems replaced with whatever seemed workable at the time.

‘Where to next?’ he muttered bitterly and adjusted the controls. ‘Ah, yes, the Nestene Consciousness. Back to Earth then, I suppose.’

The whole structure shook and vibrated around him as the tired sound of the relative dimensional stabilizer boomed in his ears. How he used to bitch about his old ship – he never knew when he was well off. The TARDIS shook once more and then stabilized. The 25th century Sumaron laptop bolted to the console showed the pale-blue orb of Earth and its solitary moon.

With a dismissive sigh, the Doctor punched up the search program and stood back. His half-hearted mission after the end of the War was to see just how extensive the damage was and what – if any – aid he could provide. The Nestene Consciousness was the latest on a long line of civilizations annihilated in the cross-fire. The colonies, protein planets, even the home world were blasted and dead. Only a few anomalous energy readings gave any clue what had happened to the natives.

A space-time warp-shunt, bridging the Nestene home world back to the Earth of the early twenty-first century. They had something of a ready-made base there, the scattered remnants of several invasion attempts already waiting for them. The Doctor had naively hoped the Nestene Consciousness would abide by the rules of the Shadow Proclamation and co-exist peacefully (and, indeed, secretly if need be) with the humans, but as the scanner worked its way across the Earth, that idealism died.

The shunt was located somewhere in England, in the latter months of the year 2005. Tiny sparks of high-concentrated psi-energy flickered across the island, presumably originating from the sole surviving Nestene. Obviously, its Auton duplicates had managed to set up minor transmitters across London, with the Consciousness itself beneath the main transmitter.

Psi-readings have no physical dimension, and even the sensors of the TARDIS couldn’t guess the true location until the Nestene Consciousness used the main transmitter. Only echoes were available. ‘And they’ll just have to do,’ the Doctor muttered.

Flipping some more controls, the navigational computers locked onto the probably source of a secondary transmitter and the labored grating of the engines began once again. As the TARDIS swayed and shuddered, the Doctor slipped on his battered leather jacket and shook out his long mane of chestnut curls. He glanced at the occasional table and picked up a Cyrrenic Empire thermite pack. He had run out of nitro-9 a long time back.

The TARDIS shook itself back into time and space and the Doctor strode down the exit ramp to the real-world interface, white-painted police box doors. The Doctor pulled open the left-hand door and stepped out of the TARDIS, letting the rickety panel slam shut behind him.

He was in the outskirts of the city, the TARDIS parked in the entrance to a gloomy alleyway opening onto the main street. Clothing stores were winding down as the sun set and the Doctor immediately spotted around fifty clothing dummies in shop windows, the more obvious targets for the Nestenes to animate.

Slipping the thermite pack into his jacket pocket, the Doctor produced his latest sonic screwdriver and began to program it for a wide-broadcast burst. Without taking his eyes off the slender metal device, he strode across the main road at the exact moment the traffic slowed to the point he could cross. He walked past the large, four-story clothing store Henrik’s and into the side alley.

The plan was simple. When activated, the sonic screwdriver would release a sub-ether pulse similar to a Nestene energy signature – effectively saying there was another consciousness on Earth. The genuine intelligence would have to check, and thus activate the transmitter on the roof to in turn activate plastic in the area so it could investigate. By that time, the Doctor would use the transmitter to trace the signal back to its source, then destroy said transmitter with a thermite pack. The resulting shockwave would confuse the Nestene Consciousness long enough for him to travel there in the TARDIS and make his ultimatum.

After that, the Nestene Consciousness would either leave Earth or... Well, there was a vial of anti-plastic back in the TARDIS the Doctor fully expected to use. A part of him complained he was resorting to such solutions far too easily nowadays, but he silenced it. He didn’t expect the Nestene Consciousness would surrender quietly, but if it did, he would bare it no malice.

Of course, if the Nestene Consciousness realized he was the Doctor, it might very well bare him malice.

The Doctor snorted to himself and hauled open the red fire exits, idly glancing at a poster on the door. Inside steps led down to a long, brightly-lit concrete passage. A clothes rack stuffed with designer dresses stood to one side, abandoned. The Doctor slipped inside, letting the door swing shut behind him.

Now, as the shop would probably be closing soon, the best thing to do was find somewhere to hide and then ascend to the roof. The basement would probably be a good place to start.

He took the first turning and, passing through a curtain of transparent plastic, found his way to a lift. The Doctor punched the call button and waited. The dull surface of the lift doors gave a weak reflection: a gaunt, tall figure in a dark leather coat and drab clothing beneath. He had once worn more colorful, flamboyant clothes, in happier times. But now those clothes were rags and he had decided not to find replacements. No one left to comment on his choice.

The lift doors parted and the Doctor stepped inside, pressing the basement control. The lift began its descent, so much smoother than the TARDIS, the Time Lord thought ruefully. All too soon it had reached the basement level, a similarly industrial area.

The Doctor followed the signs to the storage area, walking down a long corridor with dummy-filled alcoves dotting the harsh concrete walls. Then, a pair of double doors lead to a pitch-dark chamber. The Doctor’s keen eyes picked out the two rows of mannequins lining the chamber, twisted in awkward stances and with a random collection of new clothes hanging on them.

They might not be Autons, but they would certainly be the first thing activated. And they could kill a human being quite easily even if they were simple mannequins.

‘What to do,’ he muttered, fingering the silver rod. ‘What to do.’ He didn’t expect an answer.

He glanced at his watch. Half an hour till closing time. Either he staged some kind of evacuation before activating the sonic screwdriver or he just waited until the shop was over. It was simpler to do the latter, but that gave his darker thoughts half an hour to get stuck into him. He blew out his cheeks.

The Doctor turned and walked across the chamber to a second set of doors. He pulled them open and jumped back in surprise as he realized a humanoid silhouette was standing there already. To his relief, the newcomer was just as startled. Human then.

A balding man with a bristling white toothbrush moustache wearing a starched uniform stared at him, grasping for words to say. The Doctor hastily thrust his right hand behind his back, keeping the sonic screwdriver out of sight.

‘Who are you?’

The Doctor delved into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. ‘Doctor Bowman from Head Office, I think you’ll find.’

The man looked at the paper suspiciously. A smile tugged at the corner of the Doctor’s mouth when the human nodded. Psychic paper. One last birthday present from C’Rizz. ‘I’m the Chief Electrical Officer,’ the man growled in a thick accent. ‘Sorry, I thought it were Derek down here, playing pranks.’

‘There’s no once else down here, Chief Electrical Officer,’ the Doctor assured him.

‘I’ll take yer word for it.’

‘You do that.’

‘Why are you here?’

The Doctor didn’t quite manage to stop himself sighing in exasperation. He had for a long time found humanity’s naivete rather charming, but it had grown tiresome. There was also the curious habit of any human he explained things to ending up dead soon after.

‘There is a war of terror, is there not, Chief Electrical Officer?’ the Doctor demanded.

The human blinked. ‘War on terror I thought, sir. Er, Doctor.’

The Doctor smiled thinly. ‘That’s right. Terrorism. Destruction. Paranoia. A war of ideology you can’t fight.’ He felt his temper rising. He was patronizing this stupid human, who’s perceptions were so limited. They called this a war? If they only knew... He winced. He was blaming those who did not deserve it. ‘I’m here for a safety test. I want the entire building evacuated immediately.’

‘But, well, now? Shop closes in a quarter hour and Rose’ll be down in a bit with the lottery syndicate.’

‘Terrorism doesn’t wait for Rose and the lottery syndicate, Chief Electrical Officer,’ the Doctor snapped. ‘Why else do you think I haven’t informed the manager? A bomber has no inclination to play fair. Now, I want you to put things in motion. I don’t care how much panic or confusion there is, get everyone out of here. Make it natural, Head Office need to judge the real situation.’

He had unconsciously let his arm fall to his side, revealing his trusty all-purpose tool.

‘You think anyone is going to listen to me? You think I’m going to listen to you “Doctor”? How do I know that you’re not the bomber, eh?’

So close, yet so far. ‘Look,’ the Doctor said reasonably, ‘I’m sure that we can work something...’

The electrician grabbed the screwdriver and looked it over. ‘What is this thing you’ve been playing with, anyway?’ he demanded, fingering the on switch.

‘Uh, no, wait,’ the Doctor began.

Too late. The electrician thumbed the control. The bulb at the end of the sonic screwdriver glowed an incandescent blue as the shrill noise filled the air.



What? What is this? Another one of us? Divert power direct to circuit 9. Activate – investigate!


‘No! No, no, no, you stupid human fool!’ the Doctor shouted, wrenching the control from the electrician.

‘What are you on about?’ he complained.

‘The lure’s activated prematurely, we’ve got to get out of here!’ the Doctor shouted.

‘But why?’ demanded the man, before he realized. His face fell.

Around them, the plastic mannequins were swaying from side to side, as if in a breeze. But there was no breeze down here. First one, then two, then three mannequins turned, their sightless eyes aimed directly at the two intruders. Jerkily, they lurched from their positions.


There is no one of us here! Human witnesses? Destroy them immediately! No one must know of our presence on this planet. Destroy them!


The mannequins were closing in on the Time Lord and the human, forcing them away from the inner door.

The Doctor turned around, seeing that not all of the dummies were coming to life. These must be pure Autons left over from the earlier invasion attempts. Bang goes that theory, then. The Autons were swiveling from side to side in confusion, wondering where they were and why they had been activated.

‘Come on, man, run for it!’ the Doctor yelled and sprinted across the store room. He twisted the base of the sonic screwdriver, altering the frequencies. ‘If I can reverse the polarity of the signal base, I can stun them back into dormancy – just for a few moments,’ he shouted over his shoulder. The problem was it would take a minute or so for the screwdriver to charge up sufficiently.

Already the Autons had started to march towards them, forming a plastic wall closing in.

Their prey scrambled over an inconvenient heap of empty cardboard boxes to reach the other exit. The Doctor pressed the release bar on the doors as the electrician sprinted towards him.

They burst through the heavy doors into the corridor out, but stopped short to find another mannequin standing there, waiting for them.

The Auton raised its hands. The fingers clicked and dropped away to reveal concave holes. Barrels for in-built projected energy weapons.

The electrician didn’t have time to swear before the Auton fired its left hand.

He spun, reeling into the concrete wall and tumbled, face-down to the ground.

‘Oh, no,’ the Doctor groaned. ‘Not again.’

The Auton turned its right blaster to the Doctor, whose horrified gaze was locked on the human’s corpse.

He barely noticed when it fired.


There must be no witnesses. Total destruction.


The Doctor fell backwards, crashing to the hard floor.

The sonic screwdriver clattered away from his hand. He was unable to hear the building whir. There was no point now, anyway. He was dying.

His surroundings blurred in and out of view. Stupid. So very stupid. He had got himself and that human killed for nothing, and now the Nestenes were unopposed in their conquest of Earth. He never thought it would end like this. Deep down, he’d never thought it would end.

The Auton turned to the human’s body, both hand blasters aimed at the still chest. After a long moment, it fired repeatedly. The body exploded into a surging vortex of billowing red sparks, consumed into a whiff of ozone and carbon dioxide.

The sudden rushing roar reached the Doctor. His eyes opened to a slit, struggling to work out what was happening. He was too weak to react when he realized the human was no longer beside him. He could only think how sad it was, how close they had been to escape.

The Auton turned to face the remaining body as a shudder ran through it.

A random thought blossomed into clarity for an instant. Pain, he felt no pain. Darkness was engulfing his mind, swallowing everything which resembled life. At least he wasn’t running anymore. He was tired of watching people die. So very tired.

It was nearly complete, the darkness around him. All but two distant beacons of light which flashed once, twice, then blinked out. He was safe at last.


Power insufficient. Need to recharge.


The Auton turned and marched jerkily down the passage back to the storage section. The dead body lay where it had fallen, and beyond that lay the sonic screwdriver. Its tip glowed a vivid sapphire blue before turning a shrill white.

The Auton, which had reached the threshold of the doors to the other section, spasmed and jerked. Struggling to control its movements, it stumbled back into the gloom.


Interference! What is this? Emergency! Resume positions, everythin... mus... normal... ... it can’t... fight it...


The tip of the sonic screwdriver glowed white for a long moment, then extinguished itself.

For a moment, there was silence.

A strange organic orange glow coalesced around the discarded body, growing thicker and brighter before suddenly escalating into a brilliant white flash. The flashed dispersed, and the body rolled onto its back, limbs straightening out. It began to breathe in and out once more.

# sto........bre...


Awareness returned, slowly and carefully. The pain grew worse, the torment in his body refusing to wear off. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying there, oblivious to everything except the pain that clawed at him. His whole body ached unbearably as he opened his eyes. It took a few minutes for them to focus and he managed to stifle a groan.

Fragmented memories dawned in his mind, some of them good, mostly bad. Others were beginning to settle, returning to familiar notches within his brain, memories of things the Doctor had done. More and more memories flew about in his skull, then dropped with a mental thud into place. Everything seemed to be there, finally there were no more wandering thoughts.

The Doctor rolled and climbed slowly to his feet, supporting himself against the wall. As his equilibrium steadied, he looked around. The dizziness came and went. He’d knocked over a cleaning bucket, causing a slight racket which jabbed, needle-like into his skull.

He was in a brightly-lit concrete corridor, somewhere underground judging by the air density. He turned and saw the caged alcove where a mannequin was frozen, one hand extended out between the bars as if offering itself to be shaken.

Sudden tremors wracked him, jerking his muscles sharply. The Doctor gasped to breathe normally and fought against the twitches. It felt as if his nervous system had shorted. He scowled. Think.

Mannequins. Plastic. Nestene. Autons. The numb, thudding pain – regeneration trauma.

He was alive. He knew who he was. And he was back.

The Autons were frozen in place. The intelligence was blocked, but how...?

The Doctor turned and noticed the silver rod abandoned in the corner. Good old sonic screwdriver. That meant he had around fifteen minutes before they re-animated. He turned to look at the imprisoned Auton, and saw a spasm run through it, mimicking the agony he had felt before. The Doctor flinched, knocking the cleaning bucket over yet again. He left it where it fell this time.

Obviously, those fifteen minutes were very nearly over. Time to leave. The pain in his new body was starting to fade, but every movement was agony. But the Autons were hardly likely to give him a chance to rest. He turned and moved up the corridor towards the lift, eyes glazed with pain, his expression tight.

‘Wilson? Wilson?’

The Doctor stopped and turned. A voice. Human. Female. London accent, reasonably young too. Oh, no. Not another shop worker blundering into this mess. The dead man had mentioned something about a lottery syndicate. Gritting his teeth, the Doctor turned and staggered back towards the store room.


Interference... clearing! Restoration. What is this? Another human? Scan. No other life forms left in vicinity – bar the other corpse. Not enough energy left for handgun units. Very well. Use brute force. Human bodies die so easily. Destroy her.


Every inch of his body was quaking in pain but he kept it from his face as he slipped around the door. A girl of around twenty stood, backed up against the wall surrounded by all the Autons. The other mannequins remained where they were, lifeless. The girl closed her eyes in fear as the one who had shot the Doctor not long ago raised its right hand in preparation to strike.

The Doctor slipped forward and placed his hand in hers. Her skin was hot to the touch, and she instinctively grabbed hold. Narrowed brown eyes swiveled to look at him.

‘Run,’ the Doctor ordered – idly noticing that something was odd about his voice.

He turned and ran out into the corridor, dragging the girl behind him. Luckily, his new body was more or less the same size as his old one, and the clothes still fitted. He burst into a run, the adrenaline temporarily deadening the agony he felt. The girl kept pace.

The Auton in the cage was marching on the spot, fully animated but impotent. Behind them, the horde of mannequins burst through the double doors and marched awkwardly towards them. With their energy weapons disabled, they would need to use all their strength on moving.

The Doctor and the girl burst through the second set of doors and there stood the lift, just as he left it. The Doctor leapt forward the last pace and hit the open button on the doors. He and the girl dived inside the cubicle just as the Autons smashed through the doors behind them.

The Doctor stamped the first floor button and then close doors button as the pasty-coloured figures lurched towards them. The doors slid out from the sides of the doorway, the leader Auton reached through the narrowing gap for the Doctor’s neck. Suddenly, the open palm came to life, fingers and thumbs flexing and grabbing for the Time Lord’s throat.

The Doctor clamped one hand around the plastic wrist and struggled to shove the arm back out of the lift. The doors were now being jammed by the arm and the Autons’ face. Plastic was being shaved off in the places the doors were biting into the mannequin’s head.

The sensor should have re-opened the doors, the Doctor thought absently. Good thing this store’s safety practices are so poor. With a twisting motion, he yanked on the arm and it came free from the dummy’s shoulder socket. Instantly the arm froze in place as the Nestene influence was broken.

The doors re-commenced closing, forcing the Auton leader back out into the corridor. Finally they shut and the lift began its ascent.

The Doctor examined the severed limb in his hand, deliberately avoiding looking at the blurry reflection in the lift doors. ‘You pulled his arm off,’ said the girl behind him. He wasn’t sure if she was horrified at the thought or simply confirming what she had seen.

‘Yep,’ the Doctor replied, tossing it over his shoulder. He heard the girl catch it. ‘Plastic.’

‘Oh, very clever. Nice.’ The girl was almost relieved. ‘Who were they then? Students? Is this a student thing or what?’

The adrenaline was starting to wear off. He was starting to feel cold. He wrapped his arms around him, trying to warm up. He focussed his attention on the girl. Blonde hair, but dark brown roots – her eyebrows were dark too. She wore a pink top and some cheap perfume. He could just smell the remains of a fried bacon sandwich on her lips. Her knuckles were white as she clutched the mannequin arm. Shock, he assumed. ‘Why would they be students?’ he asked.

‘I dunno,’ the girl replied, blinking in confusion.

‘Well, you said it,’ the Doctor reminded her. ‘Why students?’

‘Cause... to get that many people dressed up and being silly... They gotta be students.’

He grinned. ‘That makes sense. Well done,’ he said to her.


The Doctor turned to look at the indicator. ‘They’re not students.’

‘Well, whoever they are, when Wilson finds ’em, he’s gonna call the police.’

‘Who’s Wilson?’

‘Chief Electrician,’ the girl explained.

The Doctor turned his attention to the doors. The lift had reached the ground floor. ‘Wilson’s dead,’ he announced as he emerged and, snatching the sonic screwdriver from his pocket, switched it on and aimed it at the call button.

‘That’s just not funny,’ the girl snapped, following him out. ‘That’s sick!’

He turned and guided her past the clothes rack outside the lift. ‘Hold on,’ he told her, returning to the call button. ‘Mind your eyes,’ he ordered. A stream of blue energy flowed over the controls before they exploded and shorted out.

That would delay them. For a few seconds, at least. Of course, the Autons could just use the stairs. Indeed, there were probably quite a few on this level already heading towards them. Time to go, Doctor. He pocketed his screwdriver and scrambled in what he hoped was the direction of the fire doors he had entered by all that time ago.

‘I’ve had enough of this,’ the blonde girl was complaining, running after him. ‘Who are you then?’ she cried. ‘Who’s that lot down there?’

So many answers, but no intention of giving them, the Doctor thought. He turned a corner and saw the doors he needed at the end of this corridor. Might as well answer her question. ‘They’re made of plastic,’ he told her over his shoulder. ‘Living plastic creatures – and they’re being controlled by a relay device on the roof. Which would be a great big problem if I didn’t have this!’

He slipped the thermite pack from his jacket and primed it. It began to beep innocently.

The Time Lord leapt up the steps and opened the door for the girl who was staring at him in shock now. ‘So, I’m going to take this upstairs and blow them up and I might well die in the process but don’t worry about me! No, you go home! Go home and have your lovely beans on toast!’

His voice was light but he was getting angry. The girl’s insistence to know what was going on was laudable but inconvenient – and his heckles had found themselves rising ever since the stupid human had attempted to rationalize what the Autons were. After all, the same ‘rationalization’ had just got him killed less than half an hour ago. Whether it was Wilson and his terrorists or this girl and her students, their blind refusal to accept the war under their feet was... was...

Envious, he supposed.

The girl wandered out into the alley, her eyes still fixed on his. ‘Don’t tell anyone about this because, if you do, you’ll get them killed,’ he said firmly. Even in the best case scenario the Nestene Consciousness would be on the look out for any anomalies – and keeping a low profile. One mention of ‘window dummies coming to life’ and there was no knowing what might happen.

He ducked back into the centre and hauled the fire door closed behind him.

A thought crossed his mind.

He flung the door back open and the girl was still standing there, holding the Auton arm. She flinched at his sudden return. ‘I’m the Doctor by the way,’ he said with exaggerated politeness. ‘What’s your name?’

The girl stared at him. ‘Rose,’ she murmured.

Nice name. ‘Nice to meet you, Rose,’ the Doctor said, feeling almost excited at the shock waves he was sending through her perceptions. He raised the thermite pack. ‘Run for your life!’ he commanded, effortlessly slamming through her never-used telepathic defenses.

She would run for her life. She would go home.

As he slammed the door again and ran back through the dim passages it struck him he would rather have gone with her. He scowled at the thought, then winced at the pain in his new facial muscles when he scowled. He would have to look at the mirror sooner or later.


That is no human. Follow him. He must be heading for the receiver. Stop him!


Night had fallen. The orange-red glare of the street lights below blotted out most of the stars in the pitch dark sky. The Doctor wasn’t sure to whether to enjoy seeing a new night with new eyes, or mourn the fact his old ones had not been able to watch that final sunset.

Time for that later, he told himself and sprinted over to the unimpressive collection of waxy plastic, crudely fashioned into a receiving dish. The Time Lord crouched over it and placed the thermite pack next to the device. His long fingers – still dancing with pins and needles – manipulated it to a detonation in five minutes which would wipe the roof clean of just about everything.

‘Stop,’ drawled a voice behind him.

The Doctor turned. A man in a business suit stood, swaying drunkenly in the doorway. Judging by the sweat leaking off him, he was a real human being, and the suit he wore suggested he worked for the company. A jemmy was gripped in one pudgy hand.

‘I don’t suppose telling you to resist the evil influence in your mind will help at all, will it?’

‘STOP!’ the man moaned, drool pooling in his mouth.

‘Thought not.’ The poor sod must have been hypnotized by the duplicate workers who installed this. Still, no time for that now. ‘Don’t mind me, you carry on.’ He twisted the dial on the thermite pack. Thirty seconds on maximum TAD. Time to leave the ZMI.

Stupid military lingo, the Doctor thought as he turned and scrambled over the side of the building and onto the ledge outside. He was best out of that. Bad enough spending years working for Earth’s military, let alone the armies involved in the War.

His last sight of the top of Henrik’s was the stairwell door bursting open and the army of Autons crashing through, just as the managing director or whoever dropped the jemmy and lurched towards the thermite pack, arms open as if pleading for his life.

The Time Lord grabbed hold of the rain water pipe and, wincing as the rough surface dug into his new hands, plummeted down the side of the building. Around the second floor he let go and, after a nice bit of bouncing off a dumpster, reached the side alley.

Above him, the thermite pack exploded.

The brilliant red flash blossomed across the top of the department store before the shock wave tore through the level below, reducing the building to a brick pillar of fire in the night sky. Blobs of melting plastic, singed furniture and general debris came crashing down on the street below.

The Doctor blinked as a burning red sofa crashed into the middle of the road just as every alarm system in the high street went off. That type of explosion would release a particular wavefront of energy that UNIT should pick up and identify as alien in origin. He should have thought of that before. That meant he had a few minutes to get back to the TARDIS before Central London was closed off pending investigation.

Ducking through the panicking locals, the Doctor kept his eye out for a blonde girl in pink carrying a plastic arm.

No sign of her.

He finally reached his time machine and sagged against the door, mechanically moving the long curls out of his eyes. Except they weren’t there – his new hair was razor-cut to outline of his head. That military haircut was probably programmed into the regeneration cycle, he thought bitterly and unlocked the TARDIS doors. Still, at least without that long girly hair and the baby face that made eight out of ten females and five out of ten males want to mate with him was gone.

‘C’est la vie,’ he murmured and entered his time machine.

The warm embrace of atron energy washed away the short-circuit pains in his body and, feeling tired, he wandered up to the console. The chamber was lit by a pleasant green glow and he had to admit, as last-second replacements went, this was pretty good. He initiated take off, enjoying the slight flicker of energy behind the roundels. Ah, who cared if they reminded him of Daleks? There was nothing else to do that these days.

He slumped into his pilot’s chair as the TARDIS returned to low-orbit and began scanning for the highest concentration of Nestene energy – the Consciousness itself would certainly be shielded, but any of its agents would not be so lucky. All he had to do was find it, link it up to the telemetric circuitry and finally thrash out things with that blob of plastic. Assuming of course, it hadn’t taken up that ridiculous octopus-cum-spider-cum-crab shape it had developed a fetish for.

Ah, well, it was the 1970s.

The Doctor leant back in the chair, so determined not to spy his reflection in the time rotor, the surface of the console or the laptop that he was only half-aware he’d fallen asleep.


Pain! Pain! So much death! What has done this? Who has done this? We have been here before. One of the humans must have been waiting for us... Or an alien on Earth No... It can’t be! They are all dead – we refuse to believe it. But that alien who returns from the grave... Who could it be? Who else could it be? How to determine. Wait. Activate the piece of us closest to him...


Someone who had no idea of events happening threw a severed plastic arm into a large rubbish can in the shade of a London housing estate. As it struck the bottom, the arm convulsed. The tiny traces of skin cells left on the smooth surface suddenly disappeared and finally the arm came to a rest at last.


It can’t be...

It can’t be...

It might be.

We must prepare.


‘No!’ the Doctor screamed as he awoke.

His hearts hammered in his chest and he looked around, taking in the confines of his battered time machine. Home. Safe. He let his head fall back and his eyes close.

Nightmares. Different ones.

Not the atrocities of the Time War, or the faces of his companions as their history was undone, but something else. Fantasies. He saw himself and a human woman called Emma running through a ruined castle on Terserus, pursued by Daleks and the Master on a zimmerframe. He saw the Master again, this time reduced to an android butler as the Time Lord sent him on yet another mission to 20th century Earth to deal with an alien invasion. He saw himself sitting for a portrait by his new artist companion, enjoying the sun rise at the Eye of Orion, tumbling through a black hole on a space station, facing a Cyberman invasion of Manhatten in 1994, facing the runners of Pandrolyn history tour, the caverns of blood, the Sundarians, facing Ruth and a hideous creature in the DEEP...

‘Lies! All lies!’ the Doctor screamed getting to his feet.

All paths he could have taken – would have taken had the War ended different. A new and intriguing expression for his guilt to take. He didn’t need this. He was better than this. Sitting around a wrecked TARDIS having nightmares about things he couldn’t change... Who the hell did he think he was? Bruce Wayne? There was more to life than this!

Odd how he thought of that girl now. Rose. Rose Alley, San Francisco, 1999 – the last time he had faced the Change. Probably a coincidence.

Ah, a distraction.

The console had detected a psi-spike. Definitely Nestene energy. He set the TARDIS to home in on the focus and, as his craft trembled and juddered around him, the Doctor was already heading for the doors.

The TARDIS solidified in reality and the Doctor burst out of the doors.

Early morning sunshine cut through the clouds left from the fire the previous night, the street left in shadow. The Doctor closed and locked the door behind him, glancing at his watch as it struggled to reorient itself in this time zone. The following day, 7:02 in the morning. The spike had occurred several hours ago.

Oh, well. He didn’t have anything special planned.


In a dustbin not far away, the hand softened, flexed. The arm was now alive.


He – if it is him – is here. Do what needs to be done.


The arm twisted into an impossible summersault that lifted it into mid air. Its nailess fingertips clamped into the concrete above and, with a mechanical dexterity never before witnessed, it scuttled, spider-like up the wall of the estate and upwards. It needed to get a better look at its surroundings, prepare a trap. Humans were so wrapped up in themselves they wouldn’t notice.


The Doctor switched on his sonic screwdriver and it glowed and buzzed in its hand. The Nestene energy was back. He turned and hurried across the park opposite, the grass on either side still moist with dew. He wondered just what the Nestene Consciousness was animating this time. He doubted whatever it was would be an immediate danger – they would need to keep a low profile after last night.

It took him about an hour to track the signal.

As the sun rose higher into the sky, he found himself trying to triangulate the signal as he ran around garages and trees. Some of the graffiti looked interesting and he made a note to examine it better the next time he had a chance – that symbol surely couldn’t be what it seemed to be.

Finally, he came to a rest at the bottom of a stairwell that zig-zagged up between the two housing blocks. Stairs. He tried not to sigh – he’d done far too much of that lately – and, with one final check at the sonic screwdriver before he pocked it, began to ascend.


He approaches!


The hand stopped its ascent and twisted through a broken pane of glass and leaped across to the front door of the nearest apartment. Footsteps echoed up the well towards it and the hand scuttled to the cat-flap in the door and pressed hard against the surface. The screws holding it closed slowly but surely gave way and, with moments to spare, dived inside.

Levitating upwards, it scrambled across the ceiling and then dropped behind a sofa. Two human females were there, oblivious as ever. Soon, the alien would arrive and the hand would take the Nestene equivalent of great pleasure in crushing its trachea.


The Doctor paused between stair cases to catch his breath and look out across London. It was almost surreal how calm things were so close to the invasion. He reminded himself that after this he had to drop by and visit Lethbridge-Stewart, show off the new face. The old man had insisted ever since that time he had let a tramp stay in the guest room for two months believing him to be a newly-regenerated Doctor.

The Time Lord sucked up a lungful of air and checked his screwdriver. Close, very close.

He scrambled up another two flights of stairs and stood before an apartment door. He checked the screwdriver. Bingo. Carefully, he pocketed the tool and went to check the door to see if it was locked.

That was when he noticed the cat flap – the metal hatch seemed to have warped around a handprint. Very odd. The Doctor crouched down and angled his face closer to the flap. Definitely a hand-print. But no fingerprints, which suggested that the Auton was trying to shove its hand through the cat-flap. Why? Why not knock the door down? Or, even better, open it like any normal plastic anthropomorphism?

He tapped the flap with frustration and was startled when, a second later, it was opened from the inside.

A face stared back through the cat flap at him in surprise that mirrored his own.

The Doctor leaped to his feet and dusted himself down in the moment it took the face to vanish from the cat flap and unlock the door. The portal opened to reveal a blonde girl wearing a shoulder-less grey top over a white bra, her hair slightly messy and a haunted look at the back of her brown eyes.

It was her.

It was Rose.

‘What are you doing here?’ the Doctor asked, dumbfounded.

Paddy V Clarke

My grandfather died twelve minutes ago.

Peacefully, and two weeks after they thought he was a gonner.

My mum and dad were five minutes from seeing him. They were parking in the hospital carpark when the phone rang. They were going there to say goodbye and they just missed him.

And so the 'if onlys' start.

If only they'd had a shorter lunch. If only I hadn't monopolized the phone call with the news Summer Heights High now needs a disclaimer at the start. If only they'd left yesterday.

Right now I sit at home, alone bar my pets. Half of me wishes I was with them in Canberra, the other half is glad I don't have to see it.

And all of me is sad.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

ANOTHER Doctor Who Spin-Off!

Yes. Once again I struggle to prove that I am a greater writer than Chris Chinball. Well, I say struggle, but I have yet to break a sweat (mind you, I'm talking about the Chris Chinball that perpetrated Cyberwoman and End of Days, not 42 or that Life of Mars episode). Once again, I vaguely slag him off in attempt to assert my own genius. Here is the pilot episode for a spin off of my main Doctor Who series I wrote between 2000 and 2003. Basically, it's pretty much the same as Doctor Who - as it focusses on a wandering Time Lord and his unlikely assortment of companions.

A spin off from my story Escaping the Past, there is the half-human half-Gallifreyan Time Lord Ajon, his human friend Cathy and her husband, the half-human half-something else Wycliff Greymalkin (Craig Charles) who is an ex-companion of the Doctor and one-time TARDIS Librarian.

All I can ask is... is this better than Torchwood?

Some history. The newly-regenerated Ninth Doctor (Alan Davies) has decided to make some changes - specifically leaving Cora Destrii (Alysson Hannigan) behind with some old friends, while he continues onwards alone...




We see a tight shot of some trees. In front of this, the TARDIS slowly materializes, then falls silent.


The time rotor slows to a halt. The door is open. Cora is wearing a coat and carrying a few carry bags.

Cora: I’ll miss you.

Doctor: I’ll miss you terribly, but my mind is made up.

Cora: You’re sure about this?

Doctor: Yes, I’m sure. But don’t think it makes this any easier.

Cora: [deep breath] OK. Ah, well...

Doctor: [looks up] Yes?

Cora: I... I...

Doctor: Yes?

Cora: [sighs] Nothing. Goodbye, then.

Doctor: Goodbye, Cora.

Cora nods, turns and leaves. The Doctor doesn’t watch her go. He simply closes the doors and begins to power up the console. The time rotor slowly begins to oscillate once more. The Doctor watches it move.

Doctor: [softly] Just you and me now. What people will we meet? What places shall we go? What things will we see? Just you and me, like it always was. [smiles] Where to next?

A lamp begins to blink on the console. He frowns and crosses to it.

Doctor: How odd. Emergency stop. That hasn’t happened in... well, in a very long time, that’s for sure. [flips controls] Let’s just see what’s out there, hmm?

The scanner activates, showing the swirling colours of the time vortex.

Doctor: Ah. The space-time intersection around the planet... [checks display] Epsilon... Epsilon-Gamma. Around 1400 BC unless I’m very much mistaken. Good grief!

He crosses to the scanner, seeing something in the maelstrom.

Doctor: That’s a fantastic dimension anomaly! Almost... almost like a TARDIS... But it’s massive! Still, Doctor. Shouldn’t rush to conclusions. Not yet. [sighs] Nowhere else to go.

He crosses to the console and begins to operate controls. Suddenly, the room lurches, throwing the Doctor against the wall. Everything ripples, distorts and convulses.

Doctor: [dist] What’s happening? Must try the coordinate override!

He lurches to controls and operates them. The room lurches again and the distortion ends. The time rotor begins to slow down. Grimacing in pain, the Doctor slumps and collapses – as the lights go out altogether. Silence and darkness falls over them.


(Earth slowly sinks over the horizon of the moon. Suddenly, the planetoid explodes in a fantastic burst of light and sound. It clears to show the spinning shape of the TARDIS, which veers away to the left. We follow it as the butterfly hues of the time vortex coalesce around the spinning police box. It tumbles away as something appears and grows larger, turning end over end. It is the shimmering words DOCTOR WHO. It reaches us and stops its rotation with a howl of TARDIS engines. A brilliant flash of white...)


A spinning grey obelisk spins into view.


Cathy sits in the corner, reading a book. Her hair is braided and she wears a long coat. Ajon, wearing an Elizabethan cloak and suit, is brooding over the control systems. He frowns slightly as a lamp – identical to the one the Doctor noticed – begins to flash.

Ajon: [frowns] Strange. Very strange.

He activates the scanner, which shows a rippling distortion. Cathy looks up at the distortion outside as it grows worse.

Cathy: [rises] What is it, Ajon? What’s gone wrong?

Ajon: [adjusts controls] Will you check the yearometer readout, please, Cathy? I need to know the display you get.

Cathy: [crosses to console] Hmmm. 1400 BC. No, wait! 1963... Uh, 3125... Now it’s dropped down to 2007... 10,000 BC. These readings – it’s gone haywire! It’s not even stopping – just going round and round. And the others have too!

The lights begin to flicker badly. Wycliff hurries inside, pulling on a jacket.

Wycliff: The lights are pulsating - something’s funny going on.

Cathy: Thank God someone noticed.

Ajon: [doesn’t look up] It’s nice to see you up and dressed for a change. Does that mean we can expect some breakfast for once?

Wycliff: I’ll see what I can do. What’s happening?

Ajon: Nothing for you to worry about. Just a little interference. Nothing... unusual.

Cathy: Sure. Ajon, what’s gone wrong?

Ajon: Nothing for you lot to worry about! Do you want to make a cup of tea for us, eh?

Wycliff: [checks consoles] Not now.

Cathy: Every one of the instruments have gone haywire.

Wycliff: So they have.

Cathy: Why? What’s doing this?

Wycliff: What could cause all the displays to go crazy, then?

Ajon: [shakes head] No idea. I... I suppose, drifting between the bounds of time and space, we could have become caught... in this force.

Cathy: Force?

Ajon: The one holding us, Cathy... Pulling us down into its web.

Cathy: Magnetic?

Ajon: At its simplest, yes.

Wycliff: Where are we heading?

Ajon: [shakes head] I don’t know. This... influence...

Cathy: Influence? What influence?

Ajon: [irritated] How should I know? None of the instruments is giving us a sane reading and the –

The distorting noises outside get louder and louder. The room trembles violently. Ajon scrambles over to the console and begins to adjust the controls, to no avail.

Ajon: We’ve got no time for questions! The important thing is to pull the ship clear of this – whatever this is!

Wycliff: [grimly] If we can.

Cathy: If we can?!

The distortion grows massive and they are thrown to the floor.


It is almost pitch dark, but the faint sounds of the waves can be heard as they strike the beach. Suddenly, here is the tortured sound of materialization through the distortion and the mudflats are briefly illuminated as Ajon’s TARDIS – in the shape of a white cabinet – appears, fades, then settles into the sand. Darkness returns.


The trio are picking themselves off the floor. Ajon is helping Wycliff to his feet. Cathy is getting to hers, rubbing her shoulder ruefully. Wycliff crosses to the console.

Cathy: Not quite up to your usual standard, Ajon.

Ajon: There is no need for sarcasm, Mrs. Greymalkin! We’ve been plucked from the vortex by some vast force...

Wycliff: [placatingly] All right all right, so it was an uncomfortable landing! At least we’re free from the influence now.

He points at the scanner, which shows only darkness.

Wycliff: We’re clear.

Ajon: No, we are not clear. In fact...

Cathy: What? We’ve materialized, haven’t we?

Ajon: But the TARDIS is still out of control – out of our control, anyway.

Cathy: But the interference has gone, hasn’t it? Look at the scanner, we’re clear!

Ajon: Look at the instruments, Cathy. They’re all over the place. They don’t make any sense and, until we can get them to respond properly, we can do nothing. [runs hand through hair] What can be holding us here?

Cathy: And I don’t suppose you know where here is?

Ajon: No.

Cathy: Or what time period we’re in?

Ajon: None. We could be anywhere – and anywhen!

Wycliff: We seemed to be around 1400 BC, I thought.

Ajon: What makes you say that?

Wycliff: [impatient] The yearometer.

Ajon: And what does it say now? Two million years after that! The space-time readings are jammed at the start of the Humanian Era, but apart from that... nothing. All the detectors are out of order, jammed at zero or not responding at all. This interference is just as bad as it was before, if not worse!

Cathy: We don’t have any idea? It’s not just a malfunction?

Ajon: Certainly not. We didn’t stray here; we didn’t materialize by accident, we were plucked off course by something – it was either a natural phenomenon or something else, something deliberate. So the question is, are we here for a purpose?

Wycliff: Well, the only thing to do is find what’s causing it and stop it – and that means going for a bit of a wander outside.

Cathy: [unenthusiastically] Is it?

Ajon: Of course. Until the controls stabilize, we’re stuck here!

Cathy: But we don’t know what’s out there! None of the sensors are working! The atmosphere – assuming there is one – could be poisonous for all we know!

Wycliff: The force curtain can act as an airlock.

Ajon: We don’t have time to go mucking around in spacesuits!

Wycliff: Don’t we? Well, someone better just have a quick look outside without mucking around in a spacesuit, then?

Ajon nods, frowns, and then sighs when he realizes that the other two are smiling at him.

Ajon: Oh, for Omega’s sake!

Ajon opens the doors, glares at the others and strides out.

Ajon: [to himself] Charming company you keep, Ajon...


The door of the TARDIS opens, letting yellow light spill out and illuminate the grassy hillocks around. Ajon steps out into the darkness, looking annoyed, and, after a moment, heads back.


Wycliff and Cathy stand by the open doorway.

Wycliff: [calls] Hey, Ajon, are you still alive?

Ajon reenters the room, none the worse for wear. He blurs slightly as he passes through the energy barrier.

Ajon: Yes – though if you were to keep shouting like that I’ll be deaf in no time.

Wycliff: Breathable atmosphere?

Ajon: [annoyed] Just about. Certainly more civil than in here.

Cathy: So, where are we?

Ajon: I don’t know, Cathy. But, wherever it is, I have an uncomfortable feeling we’re not welcome.

Cathy: [frowns] What do you mean?

Wycliff: [interrupts] What’s it like out of there?

Ajon: Pretty bleak. Oh, we’re on some beach somewhere.

Wycliff: Any sign of dimension-anomalies or time vector generators?

Ajon: No.

Cathy: Any sign of habitation?

Ajon: None visible. We must be miles from anywhere.

Cathy: Well, if we’re going to explore, we’ll need torches.

She crosses to a storage locker and collects them. The others follow.

Ajon: Is that wise? If we’re in the middle of some kind of conflict or other, we’ll be a legitimate target for all sides, wandering around with torches at the dead of night!

Cathy: Can you hear any gunfire or bombs being dropped?

Ajon: [annoyed] Well, no...

Wycliff: And there are no troopers or soldiers outside, are there?

Ajon: [sighs] No.

Cathy: Well, if they do turn up, we’ll deal with it. In the meantime, let’s try to avoid tripping and breaking our necks in that stygian blackness out there.

Ajon: Well, we best get started. Put on a jumper, Wycliff, it’s freezing out there...

They cross to the door.


Wycliff, Ajon and Cathy emerge from the TARDIS, leaving the door open. They head off into the gloom. Sea gulls screech in the distance.

Cathy: [shivers] Very cold, isn’t it?

Wycliff: And unwelcoming, just like he said.

Ajon: Yes, now, are we just going to stand here on this isolated beach or actually do something? Come on, we’ll head parallel to the shore. There should be some civilization sooner or later.

Ajon moves off into the darkness. After a few moments, he returns.

Ajon: Well, come along you two!

Wycliff: Yes, yes. Just getting an odd feeling, that’s all.

Ajon: Oh, what? Seasick?

Wycliff: [frowns] No... A sort of apprehension. Overwhelming.

Cathy: [nods] Yeah, I get that too. Like we’re not alone.

Ajon: Overwrought imaginings, you two. It’s just more quiet than you’re used to, that’s all. This beach must stretch for miles and I daresay the TARDIS made quite a bit of noise when it landed. If we weren’t the only ones here, they would be out searching for the source of the noise and probably with a lot of light. Now, come on.

Cathy: You don’t feel we’re being watched, then?

Ajon: No I do not. I am trying to be productive and work out where we are while you two share ghost stories. Concentrate on the wind direction and the temperature or something useful like that.

Cathy: Well, it feels like the Arctic out here. Maybe we’re in the polar regions of the planet?

Wycliff: Or it’s just winter. He’s right, we don’t need to give each other the creeps. Let’s get moving already.

Cathy: See anything interesting?

Ajon: Just deep mud banks stretching as far as the eye can see.

They move off into the gloom. They walk for quite a while before pausing for a halt amidst some reeds.

Ajon: That’s odd.

Cathy: What?

Ajon: I was trying to work out our position by seeing the constellations of the stars, but... Well...

Wycliff: [nods] There aren’t any. Are there?

Cathy: Maybe it’s just clouded over.

Ajon: Yes, but I thought, with this wind, the clouds would have broken by now. And something else – switch off your torches. Go on, just for a moment.

They do so. They are plunged into darkness.

Ajon: Can you still see me?

Wycliff: Just about?

Ajon: Yes, because the TARDIS is still providing light. Without it, this would be totally black. All of which suggests that there is no natural source of light on this planet.

Cathy: No sun?

Ajon: Maybe. But something is definitely blocking out the whole atmosphere. Otherwise, none of the plant life here could grow, could it? What could be causing it, I wonder. You know –

He cries out. The others turn and crouch down, switching on their torches. This picks out a large crater – lying within is the sprawled Ajon. Wycliff moves down to help him out.

Wycliff: You’ve put your foot it in this time, Ajon.

Ajon: You had to say that, didn’t you?

Wycliff: Well, it makes a change from me falling into holes all the time. [helps him up] How’s your ankle? Not sprained, I hope.

Ajon: [scowls] Strong ankles run in my family, Wycliff.

Cathy: [chuckles] Noses run in mine. Weird place for a pothole.

Ajon: Pothole? This isn’t... Oh, dear.

He bends forwards and examined the surface of the crator.

Wycliff: What is it?

Ajon: This is an impact crater.

Cathy: [joins them] A meteorite?

Ajon: No... Too small and regular... [points] See? There’s another one further up the hill. And another... This isn’t a meteorite strike... This planet has been bombed from orbit...

Cathy: But what about a meteorite?

Wycliff: What meteorite?

Cathy: Look, on Earth the dinosaurs were wiped out when a meteorite struck the planet and caused a cloud that blocked out all the atmosphere, didn’t it?

Wycliff: [sighs] It wasn’t a meteor... No, she’s more or less right.

Cathy: Could that be what has happened here?

Ajon: Then why an orbital attack? These missiles are too close together... If they had caused this displacement, we’d be walking through thick clouds of debris... No, whatever’s blocking out the light isn’t anything to do with this devastation.

Cathy: [looks around] It doesn’t look too devastated.

Ajon: No... So, was this deliberate or...

Wycliff: ...was whatever blocking out the sky stopping the full reaction of the missiles?

Cathy: How much was kept out, then?

Ajon: I can’t say without knowing what kind of missile they were using. Or what they wanted to do. Of course, it could help getting a good view of just what the damage is...

A long pause.

Wycliff: [troubled] It’s so bleak. I still get a feeling...

Cathy: Yes?

Ajon: What’s wrong now, Wycliff?

Wycliff: It’s all too quiet...

Cathy: Oh, great. You’ve jinxed it now.

Wycliff: Just the sea and the wind... This beach must stretch for miles, but still I get this feeling... this feeling of, well, deep apprehension. That we’re not the only ones here.

Cathy: As though we’re being watched?

Wycliff: Exactly.

Ajon: My dear Mister Greymalkin, if you are trying to scare the rest of us, may I say that you are doing a...

Cathy: [points] Wait, look!

She indicates over the reed-covered hillocks.

Ajon: What is it now?

Cathy: There’s some lights over there in the distance. [sighs] We must be on the other side of the bay – they look like they’re miles away from us!

Ajon: We’ll never make it on foot with all this mud around.

They move down the hill. Ajon looks around, troubled.

Ajon: [sotto] You know, Wycliff, you’re right. It is quiet.

They listen for a moment. Silence.

Cathy: [sotto] There’s not even the sound of wind.

Wycliff: Yeah... Maybe we should go back to the TARDIS and head off again at dawn?

Cathy: [urgently] Listen.

Wycliff: What?

Cathy: Shh! [sotto] Can’t you hear it?

Ajon: [sotto] Hear what, exactly?

Cathy: [sotto] That sound.

Wycliff: [shrugs] I can’t hear anything...

Ajon: Hmph. Now you’re trying to scare us, Cathy. Dear, dear. This is just immature. Stop it.

Cathy: No, Ajon – listen! [sotto] Don’t make a sound... Don’t even breath... Just listen...

For a moment, the soft noise of the waves coming in from the sea is heard. Then, a low pulsing sound – like a mechanical heartbeat. It steadily grows louder, and splits into four heartbeats. The trio switch off their torches and stand in the darkness.

Wycliff: [sotto] Something’s moving...

Ajon: [sotto] Where?

Cathy: [sotto] Over there, in the sand dunes.

We can now make out four silhouettes approaching them slowly, the heartbeat noises getting louder.

Wycliff: [sotto] What are they?

Ajon: [sotto] I can’t tell... But I think it’s time we got moving.

They turn and hurry off as the four figures step up, becoming fully visible for a moment. Twisted mixtures of man and machine, they are enclosed by a strange armor – a mixture of cybernetics and Native American Indian paraphernalia. Feathers, jewels and rags festoon their armored forms, and they wear a random assortment of clothes and weapons – shields, staffs, guns, cross-bows, helmets... The one thing they all share is their odd heads: identical white plastic moulds of a human face, but missing its jaw. They sit on necks of whirring servo mechanisms. Their blank eyes glow a fiery red. The leader, Bushido, speaks in a throaty, modulated voice.

Bushido: CONSUME... THEM...

They begin to run as fast as they can down the slope after the time travelers. Although not as fast, they do not tire and continue remorselessly. Ajon trips and falls. The others help him up and they continue onwards, their pursuers continuing after them.


The monster’s strange face fills the view.


The trio run through the darkness towards the coastal caves.

Ajon: Whatever they are, they’re between us and the TARDIS!

Cathy: What are we going to do?

Wycliff: Hide, double back and trust to luck. Come on, in here.

He runs to the nearest cave and indicates the others follow. Behind them, the robots appear and stride towards them. Cathy reaches the end of the cave – a blank metal wall.

Cathy: It’s a dead end! We’re trapped!

Ajon: And I doubt these creatures are friendly.

Wycliff: How can you tell?


The robots fill the entrance to the cave. Ajon stands in front of the others and steps forward.

Ajon: Ah. Good evening. How do you do?


Glock, a feathered robot, whips out a hand-blaster and fires. Ajon is flung against the rock wall, glowing briefly. Wycliff turns and scrabbles at the metal wall – which slides back. Standing behind it is a more uniform and gleaming military version of the robot. Glock raises its rifle and aims it at Wycliff and Cathy.


Wycliff: Cathy?

Cathy: Yes?

Wycliff: Duck!

Wycliff and Cathy dive for cover as Glock fires. The newcomer robot staggers, stumbles, then raises an open palm in a ‘halt’ gesture. Instantly, crackling sparks of energy lash at Glock, attacking the creature. Another military robot appears, and another.


Wycliff and Cathy scramble for the exit as the two sets of robots begin to shoot at each other. In the cross-fire, two military robots are blown apart, and Glock is fried beyond recognition.


Wycliff and Cathy sprint into the night.

Cathy: What about Ajon?

Wycliff: He should be all right as long as he’s out of the firing line. We’ve got to stay out of sight until those two wipe each other out, so come on. Before anything else...

There is a distant whistling noise. A brilliant flash and a deafening explosion. Cathy and Wycliff are flung to the ground. Another explosion. Another.

Wycliff: What’s happening?

Cathy: We’re being dive-bombed!

The helmeted robot, Cyber Dog, lunges from the shadows and throws a grenade at them. The explosion mingles with another hail of explosions, which throws Cyber Dog back. Cathy bends over the half-conscious Wycliff, who clutches his head.

Wycliff: Quick... get going... Go on!

Cathy: You can’t be serious...

Wycliff: Get back to the TARDIS. I’ll follow once I’ve got Ajon... Now, please, get going! Quickly!

Cathy nods and sprints off into the night as another series of bombs fall. Wycliff manages to get up to his feet as Bushido, Cyber Dog and the remaining robot Kiowa loom out of the cave. Wycliff winces and raises his hands in surrender. He is gunned down.


Three blasted Imperials lie on the ground, with the remains of Glock. A squad of Imperials march back towards the cave opening. One stops as it spies Ajon’s unconscious body on the ground.


The last bomb has detonated. Cathy scrambles across the moor when two grimy figures in combat fatigues leap out of the shadows and grab her. Unable to struggle, she is hauled out of sight.


Ajon winces and groans. He is being half-carried-half-dragged along a metal corridor by two Imperials. Others march along side.

Ajon: Wha... You two have spruced yourself up...


Ajon: Why? Who are you, anyway? Where am I?


Ajon: All I want to know is...


Ajon: All right, all right. I hate talking to underlings, anyway.

He shuts up. None of the robots react.


A huge, metal chamber with some spartan equipment being attended by Imperials. In the centre sits a swivel chair, in which sits the Hive Lord, a gleaming golden version of the normal Imperial, connected to the chair by cables and coils and wires. It spins to face an entrance as Ajon is frog-marched in. The whole chamber pulses with red light as the Hive Lord speaks.

Hive Lord: REPORT.


Hive Lord: LOSSES?





An Imperial turns and leaves.

Ajon: Wait! Wait a minute, you can’t go around consuming people! Where are your manners? Look, I’ve got nothing to do with this war going on this planet – I don’t even know what planet this is!


Ajon: To you, maybe. I prefer the old names.


Ajon: [rubs head] Jistron? Jistron... Jistron. No, never heard of it.


Ajon: Oh, I’ve piqued your interest, have I?


Ajon: Really? I noticed some saturation bombing going on up there. This barrier of yours...


Ajon: Oh. So you’re not these Neo-Morphs, then?


Ajon: So, they could improve?


Ajon: Nasty. And presumably you don’t mind because, as these organics are a finite resource, the others will run out sooner or later. They need us... But you don’t. Or do you?


Ajon: Yes, what is this about? Why do you want my body?


Ajon: You use us as batteries?


Ajon: What war? What’s this all about?


Ajon: So, you’re not only fighting each other, but humanoids as well. Is this really worth it? I mean, is it?


Ajon: And then what?


Ajon: But why? Why do you want to do that?


Ajon: Well, it makes a change for you asking the questions. Let’s just say it was an accident and I’ll be more than happy to leave once I’ve found my friends and...


Two Imperials grab Ajon and begin to drag him out.

Ajon: [shouting] No! Please, listen! I can be very valuable! I can show you how I got here. We can help each other! Stop it! Stop!

His cries die as he is hauled out of view. The Hive Lord swivels to face the camera, brooding.



Shooting Hoops - YOA fic

Ka-thunk. Ka-thunk.

‘The crowd’s barely able to contain itself! The stadium is in an uproar! This is the endgame!’

Ka-thunk. Ka-thunk.

Nigel dribbled the basketball on the tarmac and leapt up in the air, neatly avoiding Andrew’s desperate attempts to block his path. The ball in his hands was shoved forward and struck the backboard of the basket Andrew and Dave had spent several hours erecting to the side of the apartment.

The ball ricocheted down into the metal frame of the hoop, bounced back against the rear of said hoop and dropped leisurely into Nigel’s waiting hands.


‘He shoots, he scores!’ Nigel crowed, wrenching the ball out of reach before Andrew could steal it. ‘What is the score again?’

‘Seventy-three to nil; my favor,’ Andrew grunted, making another dive at the ball.

‘Yes, seventy-three to...’ Nigel nodded, stopped, then frowned. ‘No it isn’t!’

‘Then keep score yourself,’ Andrew retorted, leaping to the left only to miss again.

‘Fine. And I think you fill find that the Verkoff Shaggers have achieved twenty points, while the Beeblebrox Bludgers wade in their own filth on a putrescent four points!’

‘Did you work that out all by yourself?’ asked Andrew, stealing the ball from Nigel’s grasp.

‘I did, actually.’ Nigel slapped with his left hand and the ball tumbled to the floor and bounced back into his hands. ‘Face it, Andrew. When it comes to basketball, I am undiscovered country!’

‘An undiscovered cunt, more like,’ Andrew grimaced, panting for air.

‘And you are nothing,’ Nigel continued, not listening. ‘Some of us are just naturally superior.’

‘Fascist,’ his opponent grumbled. ‘Answer me one question, Nige.’

Nigel waved his hand dismissively, wagging his fingers in Andrew’s direction.

‘When you throw the ball...’


‘ you breathe in or do you breathe out?’

‘Well, Andrew, I... ah, I, er...’ Nigel shrugged. ‘Not sure. Why do you ask?’

Andrew flashed him a toothy smile. ‘Just curious. Your go.’

‘Yes,’ Nigel muttered absently, turning to face the hoop once more. He dribbled the ball with first his left hand, then the right, then leapt up in the air as Andrew scrambled to block him. Nigel lifted his arms to throw the ball, his mind wandering to his lungs.

What did he do? Breathe in? Breathe out? Hold his breath entirely?

He realized gravity was drawing him back to the ground and he threw out with all his strength. The ball stuck the side of the ring and was sent hurtling across the yard. Andrew was already pouncing on it. Nigel pranced across the yard and in moments held the ball.

Nigel ran, dribbling the ball with difficulty on the grassy turf, returned the patio and lined up to shoot the ball once again. Andrew was already moving ahead to try and block him.

Nigel was struggling to breathe now – it seemed a heavy, conscious effort to haul and expel air into his lungs. If he didn’t command his body to do it his respiratory system seemed quite prepared to suffocate him then and there...

Andrew snatched the ball off Nigel and shot the hoop.

It missed, rebounded back into his hands and he threw it again.


‘You... bastard!’ Nigel panted as he only just managed to block the next go. ‘You bastard!’

‘Nigel,’ Andrew replied calmly as he temporarily abandoned shooting hoops and began trying to spin the basketball on the tip of his finger. ‘If it’s legitimacy we’re talking about, then you are the only bastard in this particular conversation...’

‘You set me up!’ Sucking in all the air he could, Nigel jumped and snatched the ball off him.

‘What do you mean?’

‘You’ve ruined my athletic career!’

‘I just asked a question! Which you couldn’t even answer!’

Nigel tried – and failed – to score another two points.

‘Well, then, smart arse – do you breathe in or out when you shoot?’

Andrew scored another two points.

‘Out,’ he smiled.


Obligitory Eighth Doctor deathfic

Farewell to Shadowlands

The Doctor wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying on the ground, staring up at the sky. He seemed to have been doing it for a while but was only now aware he had been doing so. In fact, it was only now he realized where he was lying. He was in a forest, lying in the foliage of a hill overlooking a deep green sea. The sky was clear and cobalt blue, the sun a brilliant ball of white illuminating the world below and warming the surfaces around him. A cool breeze from the sea kept the temperature just right.

With some effort he lifted his head to look around. Strangely, his head was aching, though a quick check found no bumps or blood. The pain was more centred in his face, but that didn’t seem to be damaged. There was a nasty, bunt sensation beneath his healthy skin. Yet even as he thought of it, the pain seemed to fade to a bearable ache on the edge of his consciousness.

He gently felt his face. Had someone punched him in the face? Knocked him down onto the grass? Had he been robbed? Thieves in the forest? The Doctor couldn’t find any of his possessions in his pockets, but reminded himself he didn’t carry much stuff on his person since... since...

Come to think of it, where was his leather jacket?

The jacket he wore was a crushed velvet frock coat, the colour of which was hard to define. Chocolate brown? Bottle green? TARDIS blue? Vermilion? The Doctor tugged at the knot of his cravat, loosening its grip around the wing-collar shirt he was wearing. He hadn’t dressed like this in ages. He tried to remember the last thing that had happened. Something about the Crystal Palace and mistaken identities.

‘Oh no,’ he grumbled. ‘Not amnesia. Again!’ He’d forgotten how often he’d lost his memory. Well, that made sense. But hopefully it was just a mild daze from his mugging – if that was what had happened at all. There was still an ache in his head, despite there being no physical damage.

The Doctor looked around the forest, noting for the first time the sun was sinking towards the horizon. Shadows were forming and growing between the trees and the sky had turned a burned orange colour that, combined with a curious effect that made the leaves seem silver, was oddly nostalgic. He had been lying there for a while. He best start moving while he could still see. His eyesight was good, but in situations like this it paid to have the option of a powerful torch – and all his pockets were empty.

He hoped he’d get his stuff back. He was getting sick of building sonic screwdrivers.

The Doctor peered down the path into the gathering gloom and decided to head towards the sunset, which would hopefully give him more visibility than the alternative. But no sooner did his perfectly-tailored shoes touch the worn dirt path, a feeling of total unease wrapped itself around him.

Where were his companions? His fellow travelers? His friends? He hated to travel alone, but was he, on this occasion, travelling solo? Or had his friends been kidnapped? Or gone off for help? Were they back at the TARDIS? Was the TARDIS in the same time and space location as he was?

The Doctor looked into the gathering darkness behind him. He was almost paralyzed with indecision. Should he stay or should he go? Well, standing around here wouldn’t help him and with luck he’d find some evidence of his companions’ movement – or even existence – and would work from there. His pleasant surroundings seemed less pleasant now he was alone. Still, it was a glorious sunset, and he could enjoy that if nothing else.

The Doctor moved up the path and over the hill as the sun finally dipped below the horizon, nevertheless still providing enough golden light for him to navigate through the trees. His tracking skills didn’t seem to have deserted him, but there was no trace of anyone else heading up this path. No injured saplings, bent grass, human skin cells. Nothing. In fact, it looked like no one had used this path before. Ever.

He paused as the first of several bushes blocked his path. The track had ended here, leading deeper into the forest. He stayed where he was as the shadows grew deeper and darker around him and then realized he couldn’t move. At all. And was that his imagination, or was there something flat and solid pressing into his back? The ache in his skull was getting worse.

Can’t move. Can’t breathe. Can’t think. So much blood and he—

Just as the Doctor felt the first signs of panic strike him, the paralysis vanished like an idea forgotten. The pain in his face took a moment to subside and did not disappear completely. He looked around and saw that dusk had nearly become night. There was only a distant splash of sunset to illuminate the tall, dark shapes of the trees around him, sinking into the irregular sea of foliage that surrounded them.

The Doctor noted with unease that the sunset had provoked no chorus from the birds in the trees. He then noted there were no birds. No animals in the forest at all. He wondered if the sea he had awoken near had ever contained a fish. He was alone.

So why could he hear music? Classical music by human standards. Puccini. Madame Butterfly.

Such a nice tune. Shame it brought back bad memories. Well, come to think of it, the Doctor couldn’t think of the last time he’d heard it. Just a nagging sense of failure, of shame, of fear. Maybe he’d had a bad night at the opera? Or maybe...

“You’re not lost, are you?” asked a drawling female voice nearby.

The Doctor peered through the darkness to the owner of the voice. A slender, tall shape stepped forward, the last rays of sunshine bouncing off her mane of green tendrils that framed a blue oval face, glinting on her cheek scales. The mouth of needle-sharp teeth was smiling, and the large turquoise eyes were friendly.

“I’ve been lost most of my life,” the Doctor admitted calmly. “But then, I didn’t really have anywhere in mind to go, so there are compensations. Where are we, Destrii? Do you know?”

“We’re a long way out,” said his friend, shrugging her bare shoulders.

“In deep space you mean?”

“Deepest space,” Destrii replied, turning to look in the direction of the sunset.

“There’s nothing out there, Destrii,” the Doctor said reprovingly. “It’s a fact nursery children on my world understand. Nursery children,” he repeated. Odd. The sentence made him sad for some reason. “Do you know when we are?”

“No. But I like it here. It feels...”

“Like something’s going to happen here?” the Doctor suggested.

Destrii flashed him another predatory grin. “Right. Like the future’s going to be made here very soon.”

“The first days of the rest of our lives,” he surmised in response.

Destrii slipped a cool arm around his shoulders. “Stay as sweet as you are,” she advised him. “Come on, it’s getting dark. We can worry about this in the morning.”

“Procrastination is the thief of time,” the Doctor reminded her, but let Destrii lead him through the bushes further into the gloom. “Do you remember how you got here? Where the TARDIS is? Or where we were trying to get to?”

“Well, in strict order of asking: not really, no idea, and haven’t the foggiest.”

“What do you last remember, then?” the Doctor asked as they pass under a low branch.

“Oh, that thing with the Cybermen in Camden market. Everything after that is blurry. Then I was having a doze down on the beach. The sea water’s great here. We ought to bottle it and put it in the pool.”

“What pool? The TARDIS pool?”

He felt Destrii shrug again. “The TARDIS is old enough to look after itself. Let’s just get inside and relax for once, huh?”

“Inside where?” the Doctor pressed.

It was then that he saw, in the diffused light, a secluded lodge sitting in the clearing below him. It was a simple two-story structure built from expertly carved wooden logs. There was a weak light behind the windows and the Doctor realized the Puccini tune was emerging from building. Destrii was already heading up the short flight of steps onto the balcony. “Is this a hunting lodge?” he asked her.

“Nah, more a bed and breakfast,” the alien girl laughed. She moved across the area and pushed open the doors to reveal a long room that filled most of the lower floor of the house. A long table sat in the centre of the room, laden with food and drink, surrounded by lounges half-buried in cushions. The soft lighting was provided by lamps on the walls, and made it somehow more appealing. The music was emerging from a brand-new gramophone placed near the stone fireplace, containing a fire on the point of going out.

Destrii gave a happy sigh as she stepped inside the room and leant by the short steps that lead to the upper level of the house and the sleeping quarters. “I’m feeling better already. How about you?”

The Doctor’s eyes scanned the room. The pain in his head had dwindled, certainly. “You weren’t feeling well then, I take it, Destrii?” he muttered, turning to face her again. “Are you in pain?”

Destrii stroked her exposed midriff. “Just some stomach aches. Must have been bugging me for ages, but I can barely feel them now. Just gets better and better. How about you?”

The Doctor was concentrating on the two figures sitting near the fire. “Oh, I can’t complain, but my face was hurting when I woke up. It hasn’t quite gone away.”

“Probably just the strain of hiding all your surprise,” suggested a husky voice behind him. Leaning on the banister rail, arms folded, was the owner of the voice in a figure-hugging green dress. Her long blonde locks were confined by two pony-tails on either side of her head. She grinned happily as the Doctor turned to look at her and this time at least did not hide the surprise he felt.


“Did you enjoy the sunset?” she asked, moving down the stairs to embrace him.

“Well, yes,” the Doctor admitted, still taken aback at her presence. Why was he surprised to see her again when he clearly remembered travelling with her only hours ago? But he had traveled with Destrii after he had been with Charley, hadn’t he?

“I’ve seen better,” Destrii opined, pulling the doors closed behind her.

“You’re such a liar,” mocked a voice from the fireplace cheerfully. “You could show her the seven wonders of the world and she’d still be more impressed by the carpets.”

“You get a concept of worth when you’re a princess,” Destrii sniffed before letting out her shrill gurgle that was her equivalent of a happy laugh.

The Doctor approached the fire place. A girl of less than twenty was sprawled in a chair, a leg hooked over the arm rest. Her red hair feathered around her face and her pale green eyes were narrowed. Her crooked smile widened as she saw the Doctor. “You took your time, Skipper,” she observed.

“Gemma,” the Doctor identified, no longer surprised. “Where’s Sam?”

“Samson, as he likes to be called, will be here in his own free time,” Gemma replied, as if quoting her bother verbatim. “He’ll be here eventually though. Who’d miss a party like this?”

“I nearly did,” the other figure by the figure replied. “I only got here ahead of you, Doctor.”

“And how did you arrive exactly, C’Rizz?” he asked.

The Eutermisan leaned back in his chair. The light of the fire danced across his exoskeleton, gleaming off the tiny spikes on his forehead and chin. His casual sweater and jeans contrasted with his hoofed feet. For some reason his flesh remained slate grey and had not blended itself in to the colour scheme of his surroundings. “The last thing I remember is leaving Endarra with you and Charlotte...”

“Charley!” the other occupants of the lodge corrected.

C’Rizz’s thin lips twisted into a smile. “...Charley. After that, it was a blur. Then I was lying near the cliff with the sun in my eyes. The others were already here.”

The Doctor looked around. He was relaxed. Very relaxed. “But where’s Izzy? And Fey? And Stacy? And Ssard? And Grace? And Lee? And Angela? Will? Jadi? Kirena? Luke? What about the other Sam? And Fitz? And Compassion and Trix and Anji and Miranda and Lorenzo and Delilah and Frank and Claudia and Deborah and Jemimah-Katy and Nina and Mina and Bernice and...?”

“Hang on,” Destrii butted in. “You’re making that up!”

The Doctor broke into a smile. “Just testing. I didn’t want this to turn out be some kind of drug-induced, electronic dream by some super villain to break my resolve and reveal the secrets of time.”

“Guess there goes the after-dinner cabaret,” Gemma sighed. Charley laughed.

“Since the Doctor’s here, can we start eating?” she asked, already heading for the table. “I don’t know about the rest of you lot, but I’m starving.”

“Been waiting long, have you?” the Doctor asked, finding himself at the head of the table.

“Long enough,” Destrii replied, pouring herself a glass of sea water.

“I hope you’re not about to say that time is an illusion and lunchtime is doubly so.”

“I wasn’t, actually,” C’Rizz frowned with mock petulance, causing others to laugh.

The Doctor took the teapot and poured himself a cup. The spread covered all the foods his companions could both stomach and actually enjoyed, as if laid out specifically for them. There was fresh sea life and junk food for Destrii, a plough man’s dinner for Charley, a meal of nuts and berries for C’Rizz, Gemma had her favorite of spaghetti bolognaise and he had a mass of ham-cheese-tomato-and mustard sandwiches with just the right amount of butter. One bite proved not at all toxic – there were no chemical additives, poisons or steroids. The food was perfectly good to eat and hadn’t been tampered with.

“I coulda told you it was safe,” Destrii said, watching him. “Relax, Doc! You’ll live longer.”

“But none of us know how we got here,” the Doctor reminded her through a mouthful of sandwich. “This planet may look like Earth, but the gravity, temperature, oxygen content are all wrong. There’s no sign of the TARDIS and the fact that I and my former companions have been brought together here suggests we’re either being rewarded for something or being imprisoned.”

“I like the reward option myself,” Charley shrugged, taking her cup of tea. “We’ve done good, haven’t we? Fought off Daleks, Cybermen and goodness knows what else? If we can’t get a night off to enjoy ourselves, I mean, it’s the least the universe owes us.”

“Owes me more,” Destrii smiled.

“Plus interest,” Gemma laughed. “We’re safe here. There’s nothing and no one to hurt us and there’s more than enough food and drink. I’m not even missing the TV.”

“There’s one of those things in the bedroom,” C’Rizz replied.

“I’m just saying I’m happy here. Aren’t you?”

There was a nod from the others. The Doctor shrugged. “I feel good here, I admit, but... no, that pain in my face still hasn’t gone away. And Destrii had stomach cramps.”

“Not any more,” Destrii said, leaning forward to snatch up some more sea slugs. “I’m working on a new one, though.”

“Yes, I was a little sore when I got here,” Charley noted. “Like sunburn. Allover. Gone by the time I found the house. Gemma was already here.”

“And, before you ask, I had a stiff neck,” Gemma interrupted. She moved her head. “All better.” She turned to her companion. “What about you, lizard boy?”

C’Rizz pulled out his cheeks. “My back is a little sore, but it’s not worth worrying about. To be honest, Doctor, I don’t know where we are or how we got here. All I know is that I don’t particularly want to leave. This place is peaceful, beautiful.” His amber eyes roved over the girls. “The company here is even tolerable on occasion!”

Gemma, Charley and Destrii replied with a volley of abuse that their food managed to obscure.

“Yes, I know, it’s lovely here,” the Doctor agreed as he reached for some ice cream. “But I don’t think I’m ready to retire. Tomorrow morning, I’m going looking for the TARDIS. If you want, you can stay here. It’d be nice to pop by...” The Doctor shook his head to clear it, and the ache behind his eyes got worse. “But there are still so many places to be, to see, to go. I haven’t done it all yet and until I’m close, I’m not sure I can hang up my travelling shoes...”

“Which fit perfectly, by the way,” Gemma informed the others.

The Doctor drained his cup of tea. “I’m off for another walk. The stars will be out soon and I’m rather good with constellations. I can work out where if not when we are. And if we’re alone on this planet.”

Charley sighed. “You won’t be satisfied until this place is surrounded by monsters who want to conquer the universe, will you? Why can’t you just be satisfied?”

The Doctor rose. “Force of habit, Charley. Always moving on. Staying still too long and you take root.”

“Aw, come on, gorgeous,” Destrii complain. “Sit down. The stars’ll be there for ages. Let’s just relax. Tomorrow we can work out what evil genius is running this. We’ve got all the time in the world to sort it out.” She stretched and lay back on her couch.

“Wearing that bikini must be very tough on the nerves,” Gemma observed before yawning. “She’s got a point though, Skipper. We’re all dog tired and very full. Let’s count our blessings and in the morning look the gift horse in the mouth.”

The Doctor moved to the door. It struck him he did feel rather tired. Very tired in fact. He rubbed his eyes. “Good company, good food, fine music and pleasant surroundings. I must try and run into this super villain more often. I’m sure he just needs some understanding and a Swiss bank account.”

He yawned and found a chaise lounge beside the door, ready to use. As he sat down on it, he tried to review the situation, but the drowsiness got worse. He was feeling a contentedness he had not felt before. Almost resigned, even. It was like reaching the last page in an extremely fine book, the satisfaction of resolution mixed in with sadness because such a nice story had to end. But all things ended. That was the point of it all, in the end. To enjoy things while they last.

He found the strength to look up and saw that C’Rizz was tucking Gemma onto another low couch, slumping down in the chair beside her. Charley was sitting beside him, resting her head on his shoulder. The warmth of her body and the smell of her hair seemed far too much to concentrate on. Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, he let sleep wash over him.

“Wake me up when the world ends,” he informed the others before he fell fast asleep.

Or has he fallen awake? His eyes are open. And they hurt. A lot. He can only see out one eye, and find himself unable to move even that. There’s a draft. Is his mouth open? A horrible smell of copper and marrow and... hot plastic? Oh, and pain. Don’t forget the pain.

It’s agony. Excruciating agony in his head, as if it’s been smashed in. Can barely see a thing through the blood and he can’t breathe. Getting so bad. Hurts. Hard to think. And on top of that there’s a buzzing in his ears, sounding very familiar. His sonic screwdriver! That’s what it is.

Something gurgles in his throat. Where there’s a draft.

Something’s happened to his head. Something terrible.

One of his ears is still working though. He can hear a voice, calling in the distance.

“Wilson? I’ve got the lottery money. Wilson? Are you there?”

Is this a dream? A nightmare? Is he stuck in it? Or was the other place a dream? Is this the real one?

The Doctor finally found his voice and howled in agony.

The lodge was almost in pitch darkness. The fire had gone out and only the faintest of light came through the window. Charley was lifting her head, still half asleep. There was a groan from Destrii, but she did not break from her slumber. Gemma didn’t move at all, still fast asleep, so still she almost disappeared into the dark. C’Rizz was wide awake however.

“What is it, Doctor?” he called sleepily. “What’s wrong?”

“Just a bad dream,” Charley mumbled. “Go back to sleep.”

The Doctor whimpered in the pain that seemed to be starting between his hearts. It was rippling outwards like a tsunami of white-hot lava. His skin and flesh was untouched but he could still feel it getting worse and worse. “No... not a dream... This can’t be happening?”

Charley looked at him. Her expression was still sleepy, but she was upset. “Doctor, please. We waited for you. We can’t wait much longer. If you go back...”

The Doctor sobbed as the invisible fire engulfed him. “How can Gemma be here? Gemma is dead!”

Gemma, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn’t move.

“She died with C’Rizz... and you died too, C’Rizz, didn’t you?”

“More than once,” the Eutermisan replied emotionlessly.

“The final battle. You were on Gallifrey.” The Doctor tore his eyes towards Charley. “And you’re dead too Charley. Not on the R101, not on Bortresoye, on Tyron Beta. Destroyed the entire Dalek taskforce. In the war. You’re dead, Charley... you left me... and the Daleks killed Destrii...”

Charley stared into the Doctor’s eyes. “And you’re dead too.”


“You’re dead enough. Just. Just enough for us to reach you. Now you’ve got to make a choice.”

The Doctor screamed again.

Burning! He’s on fire! Bleeding... light? Orange light! Orange, yellow, white... moving through the spectrum. Bones twisting, contracting, expanding. He’s changing, repairing his body. Slowly. So very slowly. The pain’s getting worse. If he gives up now...

“Wilson?” Then something he couldn’t hear. “Is that someone mucking about?”

He remembers. The lure. The Autons. The Nestene. That idiot activating it too soon. The Autons coming to life and killing them. And now he’s dying and now he’s being born but the Autons are alive and the owner of that voice is in danger and he’s just lying there...

“OK, you got me, very funny...”

They’ll kill her.

Blackness swept over him. He was back in the lodge, or at least he seemed to be. He could barely see a thing. He had the oddest feeling of loss, as though a train were departing without him when he should have been on it. Charley was beside him.

“We’re going now, Doctor. It’s now or never. We might not get this chance again.” She placed her hands on his shoulders, despite the agony it caused. “Stop it, stay here and come with us. Gemma’s already gone. I’m next. Please.”

The Doctor could feel the agony of the front of his skull regrowing. “I got the electrician killed, Charley... There’s a girl there... They’ll kill her too. The Nestenes...” He grunted as the pain. “There’s no one left to fight anymore, Charley. No one except me. Do you really want me to stay?”

Charley smiled, her teeth sparkling as the last of the light faded away.

“I never doubted you,” she told him. “And I never will.”

Charley was fading now. The pain in his body was so powerful it almost masked out the duller pain in the remains of his head. The images seemed to flicker as if he was on the brink of reality before both became nothingness for a moment. The blackness began to dissolve, taking with it his friends, the hunting lodge and the world outside it, the dimness replaced by

a brilliant blinding light shines straight into his eyes.

The Doctor stretches, all the pain gone, wearing his leather jacket and lying sprawled on cold concrete in puddle of crusted blood. It is all too real for him and he lies there for a moment, rubbing his face. It has grown back – but not the same as before. Bonier. Harsher. His hair is so short now.

Something important. He came back to do something important.

A girl’s voice, tight with rising panic, fills his new, larger ears. “Right, I’ve got the joke! Whose idea was it? Was it Derek? Is it? Derek, is this you?”

Time to save the girl, the world and probably the universe if his luck hasn’t changed.

For a moment, he wishes he’d stayed in the darkened lodge with the warmth of his friends, in luxurious surroundings. If he does save her, what then? What’s left? All the others are gone and he should have stayed in heaven with them!

But he is the Doctor.

He gets to his feet, regains his balance and goes off to save the girl, the world, the universe and his soul.

In that order.

Never The End...