The Fourth Doctor, Second Romana and K9.
Set between Shada and The Leisure Hive.
The Fourth Doctor, Second Romana and K9.
Set between Shada and The Leisure Hive.
The corridor was long and had a low curved ceiling. It was lit evenly from some hidden artificial source and the rivets and bolts running in parallel lines down its entire run gave it the air of an elongated and gutted submarine. Before a turn in the passageway rested the still form of something vaguely humanoid. It was completely unclothed, and the skin had a primary red pigmentation.
A few feet ahead of it laid another similar figure, this one green in colouration.
The voice was mechanical, but its intonation was pleasing, almost friendly.
“Shh!” a tall man with a mass of shockingly curly brown hair exclaimed. Swiveling around he pressed an extended finger to his lips. Above his nose, two eyes stared widely at the machine that had spoken.
“Quiet, K9!” the Doctor yelled, his voice loud and audibly reverberating against the metal around him, “We don’t want to make any unnecessary noise!”
The squat, vaguely canine looking mobile computer lowered its tone. “Question, Master.”
The Doctor frowned, and in a fluid, scarf-flying movement knelt beside K9. “What would that be, hmm?”
As K9 asked his question, the Doctor pressed his head against K9’s speaker, as though struggling to hear an incredibly soft whisper.
“Why is Master placing Jelly Babies on the corridor floor?”
The Doctor closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, “If I tell you, do you promise not to tell anyone else?”
K9 wagged his tail antennae. “Of course, Master!”
“Be very, very quiet. We’re hunting Daleks”
So saying, the Doctor’s eyes snapped open, and he stood up briskly.
K9, however, was not content with the Doctor’s explanation.
“This unit was already aware of your intend to confront the Daleks, Master. You and Mistress Romana have been working with the Thals for several planetary revolutions to this end.”
The Doctor scratched his head – not an easy task considering the amount of curls his fingers had to burrow through. “So, why did you ask what I was doing?”
“I inquired as to the use of Jelly Babies, Master.”
“Ah!” exclaimed the Doctor, “Of course, the Jelly Babies!” He paused. “I still don’t understand the question, K9.”
K9 started to speak, but paused for a second. In a tone that sounded very akin to forced patience, the computer asked, “Why will Master placing Jelly Babies on this surface aid in his quest against the Daleks?”
Real realisation shone in the Doctors eyes and his face erupted in infectious grin. “Now I follow you!” he beamed, “And so, I hope will the Daleks.”
The Doctor knelt down again and squatted face to face with K9. “Do you see that Jelly Baby there, the red one. “
“At the moment vision is impaired by physical presence of Master.”
“Use your imagination!”
“This unit does not possess required neurological infra-structure to allow for such a request to be completed, Master.”
The Doctor sighed, “Ok, ok. Can you remember seeing a red coloured Jelly Baby on the floor?”
“Of course, Master, it was the presence of said object that caused my initial query.”
“Three… two … one. Very good, K9. Now, if you saw one such object you wouldn’t have given it a second thought, would you?”
“Insufficient data to conjecture, Master.”
“Just play along with me, will you?”
“This would not seem the most opportune time to play, Master.”
“I was speaking figuratively! Oh, where’s Romana when you need her?”
“I know where she is, K9!” The Doctor said, rather louder that he intended. Clamping his hand over his mouth, his eyes swinging from side to side like a child’s cat shaped nightlight, he gestured for silence for a few seconds. When nothing out of the ordinary was heard, the Doctor carried on with his explanation. “I know where Romana is. That’s not important right now. You want to know why I am placing Jelly Babies on the floor, don’t you?”
“How did that ancient adventurer find his way around the Minotaur’s labyrinth?”
K9’s ears swiveled as he accessed his data banks for mythological tales.
“Well, that’s one version, but yes he left a trail so he could find his way to safety. Here, the Jelly Babies will lead the Dalek to my trap.”
“The Minotaur story was not a good analogy, Master.”
The Doctor’s face fell, “Really? Why?”
“What you are dong is not a direct comparison. Safety and deception traps are an antithesis.”
The Doctor frowned, “I was only using it as an example, to add colour. If I’d said, ‘I'm laying a trap’ how monumentally dull would that have been?”
K9’s ears whirred once again. “Intent would have understood sooner though, Master.”
“What? Well, yes that’s as maybe. Anyway, let’s move along … I think I can smell static.”
“How can you smell inertia, Master?”
“Not now, K9 – run!”
The Doctor knew where he was heading, and as he ran full tilt down the anonymous corridor, K9 trundling close behind in reverse guard, his ample hands cascaded randomly coloured confectionery to the ground. He was laying the trail to him, and his planned triumph.
A harsh metallic voice sliced through the air.
“You are the Doctor! Halt! You will be exterminated!”
Still furiously running, the Doctor laughed, “At the rate you move I don’t think so. Not today, thank you!”
“You will be exterminated!”
“Has anyone ever told you your repertoire is like a cable channel’s schedule? Repeat, repeat, repeat!”
Traveling backwards as he was, K9's sensors saw the Dalek close in. Although they had been on Skaro for a number of days, K9 had been away from the main action hooked into the city’s computer banks and so had not visually seen a Dalek up until that point.
The machine that trundled into view was not tall, but it was clearly powerful. From a roughly circular base, it tapered upward to conclude in a domed section that housed two lights and a flexible stalk.
It was assembled in a series of layers. Above the base was a low section of panels covered in symmetrical half spheres. K9 quickly computed that these were some sort of directive aid akin to whiskers on Earth felines. While the majority of the creature was grey in coloration, these were a light shade of blue.
A band of metal circumnavigated what could have been termed its waist area, and immediately above that were the creature’s “arms”, two swivel mounted projections. One of the limbs was slender, ending in a rubber sucker, the other was stubby and made up of several thin lengths of metal and a central tube, or nozzle.
A layer of meshing resided above that, with small rectangular sheets of metal riveted into place.
Finally, just below the dome, the creature’s “neck” was constructed of a few circular hoops of metal protecting a dark, solid core.
“Dalek creature gaining, Master.”
“Blast it K9!”
“Yes, Master. Where, Master?”
“See that stalk at the top of its head?”
“That would be a start!”
K9 sized up the hulk of metal casing that was rushing toward them, and aimed his staser at the protuberance indicated by the Doctor. Inside his casing, his defensive capabilities energised and from his nose a small tube emerged, fixed determinedly at the eyestalk of the Dalek.
With an electronic howl and the faint scent of sulphur, K9’s staser fired at the Dalek’s eye. The stalk exploded, severed from its mooring. Sparks showered down, and as the metal appendage fell onto the floor clattering with every connection until eventually it lay still, the Daleks emitted a howl of pure rage.
“Mission is impaired, I can not see!”
“Quick K9! The limb on the right, our right! It’s its gun!”
Before the Dalek had time to react and counter fire K9’s initial assault, a secondary blast from K9’s weaponry rendered its gun useless.
Intent on its purpose, the Dalek carried on, but its progress was severely hampered by its lack of vision. It careered wildly against the walls, attempting to use its sense spheres to guide it. Gradually, it realised its pursuit was fruitless, and the creature inside the machine brought its housing to a juddering stop.
“I have failed!” the Dalek announced, and the mutated remains of the one of the once proud Kaled race initiated the self destruct protocol in its network.
As the Doctor and K9 continued to run, the Dalek erupted – grills spheres, mesh and innards violently torn asunder.
“Dalek creature has exploded, Master.”
“Ha ha! They always were sore losers, K9!”
“Machine destroyed itself, Master. That is not logical.”
“It was not all creature, K9. There was an entity in there.”
“So I did not save, Master’s life?”
“Oh you did, K9, you did. You’re indispensable!”
K9 burbled something that might have been misinterpreted as pride, but then the smoke from the deceased Dalek started to clear.
“What now, K9?”
“There appear to be-“
“Well at least I don’t have to waste any more Jelly Babies! K9?”
“Full speed to Romana!”
As one Time Lord and his robot dog dashed faster than ever down the corridor, three Daleks located them and opened fire. The bolts of energy sizzled through the air, ray after ray of potential death. Their desire to eliminate the Doctor was making the Daleks unfocused in their aim, but one discharge actually caught the end of the Doctors flaying scarf, and the singed remnant fell to the floor, gently smoldering.
All the way, K9 repaid the Daleks like for life and for once his battery was holding up well. Having no organic components, K9 was fully focused on his targets and his blaster repeatedly struck home. Shards of shrapnel erupted from his many direct hits, and as they slammed into the metal walls, ceiling and floor the debris sparked, the static electricity that ran through them dispersing.
Above the sound of running and the relentless staser fire, the Daleks continued to extol their mantra of extermination. Each cry echoed within the confines of their city, building and building to a level that was almost intolerable.
One voice was lost forever though when K9 scored a deadly blow, and the lead Dalek, already weakened by K9’s earlier successes, was violently ripped asunder. The green mutation inside writhed, visible even through the immediate aftermath of smoke and blast-fire. The other Daleks paid their dying comrade no heed, and carried on past the smoking shell, the Doctor temporarily out of vision.
“Quickly K9!” The Doctor shouted back over his shoulder, “We’re near an intersection!”
K9 increased his backward speed even further, and once the Doctor was sure he was within the area he needed, used his Sonic Screwdriver on a door control mechanism. With a harsh, metallic scrapping sound, a curved sheet of metal rolled from one side on the corridor wall and clanged down to the ground. Increasing the settings on the sonic device, the Doctor melted the entire inside structure of the opening mechanism, sealing the Daleks on the other side.
The Doctor and K9 had escaped.
The Doctor smiled broadly as he slid his Sonic Screwdriver back in to one of his many capacious pockets and bent down to pay K9 on the head.
“Well done, K9! Good boy!”
“Vocal display of gratitude not necessary, Master,” he said as his staser slowly retracted, but his tail wagged anyway.
“Now,” the Doctor continued, slowly unwrapping fold after fold of his scarf from around his neck, “Let’s see what’s Romana’s been up to, shall we?”
“Affirmative!” K9 intoned, slowly rotating his position to be facing forward again.
As the Doctor and K9 set off to where Romana was waiting, a tiny, circular red dot appeared at one corner of the shutter door and a delicate twirl of smoke started to ascend.
The Doctor and K9 had escaped, but had only been granted a reprieve.
Romana had not been idle. Together with Buvan and Tantrid, and a small band of other Thals, she had been carrying out the Doctor’s plan; or rather the plan that had been hers until the Doctor had claimed it as his own.
Running a hand through her incredibly long blonde hair, Romana leaned in closer to inspect the wiring Tantrid had carried out.
From his crouched position, Tantrid looked up at Romana, seeking reassurance. “Well?”
“Well, it’s not perfect, Tantrid, but in this Universe whatever is? It will do its job though, that’s what matters.”
Realising that this backhanded compliment was all he was likely to receive from Romana, Tantrid stood up, his knees cracking loudly in the process.
“Sound you need to imbibe more H2O, Tantrid.” Romana observed.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Water. You can ease your joints by drinking more water.”
“Is that true?”
“Well, it’s supposed to be, but then again it could all just be another example of Gallifreyan balderdash. Talking of which, what is taking the Doctor so long?”
“Romana!” the Doctor shouted, his voice announcing his presence ahead of his physical arrival, “I hope you’ve finished your work. We would have been here later, only a few Daleks crashed the party.”
Romana’s face paled, “Where are they now?”
“Temporarily motion challenged,” he announced, finally breezing into view, K9 close at his heels. The Doctor’s scarf was looped around his right arm.
Tantrid looked confused. Romana smiled, “He means he’s managed to place them somewhere where they can’t move.”
“Ah. For how long?”
“Uncertain to ascertain,” K9 interceded, “There was insufficient time for this unit to analyse the molecular density of the door and conjecture it’s resistance to the power of Dalek weaponry.”
K9’s tail drooped, and Romana smiled warmly, “That’s alright, K9. I’m sure you were busy in other areas.”
The Doctor nodded, “He was. K9’s quite handy to have around when you’ve got Daleks pursuing you. It’s just a pity he had to be immobile and linked into the Dalek main frame for the past few days. He would have been invaluable, and saved us a lot of time having to improvise. Then again, we would not have seen so many Dalek’s blowing their tops, I suppose. I don’t know how I ever managed without you all those lives, K9.”
K9’s tail rose again.
“Anyway, let’s finish setting this trap, shall we? When those Daleks escape, I doubt they’ll be too happy.”
“Daleks? Happy?” Tantrid spat the words in disgust.
“Well, wouldn’t you be upset if someone had interrupted your game of Follow the Jelly Baby?”
Before Tantrid could speak, Romana shushed him with a gently raised hand, “Don’t ask!” she said, “You really do not want to know!”
Addressing the Doctor, Romana said, “The trap is nearly ready, all we need is the one final component?”
“Ah! Yes! The final component!”
“Hmm, well what?”
Romana rolled her eyes in desperation, “You’ve already taken it from your neck.”
“Oh, of course! My scarf!” handing the scarf over, the Doctor looked at it sadly, “Be careful with her, she’s not all she used to be right now.”
“The Daleks exterminated it.”
Taking the scarf in hand, Romana assembled the band of Thals around the open doorway they had been working on. This was it. The final confrontation.
As a result of K9s immersion into the computer system, the only Dalek’s left on Skaro were those currently cutting their way through the metal doorway the Doctor had sealed.
Although Romana had complained at the time that what the Doctor had ordered K9 to do was such a cliché, he had dismissed her claim, stating that if it works don’t knock it.
K9 had infiltrated the hard drive slowly, careful not to announce his presence. He lurked there for days. Once secure, he had been able to talk directly to Dalek control, convincing it he was a part of it. Earlier that day he had been able to force the majority of Daleks to self-destruct, much to the jubilation of the battle weary Thals. All over the city, Daleks had ground to a halt and exploded as unquestioningly the followed their orders.
The Dalek Supreme quickly located the rogue element, but it was too late. It, too, destroyed itself, but in a confusion of knowing what it was doing was wrong.
Leaderless, the few remaining Daleks had set off to complete their most basic, common mission – exterminate the Doctor.
Romana watched at the Thals wound the Doctor’s scarf around the two posts that book ended the doorway. Thinking about it now, was this final plan just too simple? Could it really work?
“Halt! Do not move!”
Closing her eyes, she sighed. It seemed she was about to find out.
The Daleks had found them.
“Hide” she shouted at the Thals, and as the fatigued inhabitants of Skaro hurried for cover, the Doctor ordered K9 to fire on the Daleks. K9’s blaster was already out, and he fired immediately scoring an early advantage. Unfortunately, he only succeeded in blasting the lead Dalek’s sucker arm off – it was still fully armed.
“You have eradicated the Daleks! You must be exterminated!”
“Not yet we haven’t!” the Doctor said, popping his head over the protective barricade that had been erected. “But we’re working on it!”
The Daleks opened fire.
His eyes widening, the Doctor ducked back down.
“I told you they wouldn’t be happy.”
Bands of staser fire strobed the enclosure and K9 valiantly continued to stand firm, situated in a relatively secure position. He managed to destroy one Daleks’ gun arm within seconds, and it fell, lying redundant on the floor.
The Doctor bobbed back into view, “Oh, good shot, K9!” He quickly hid again as the other Dalek’s gun fired a ray that sliced the air mere inches above his head. Turning to Romana, he sulked, “First my scarf, now my hair. Do you think this is getting personal?”
Romana shrugged, “I shouldn’t think so. I imagine they hate all of your incarnations, not just this one.”
“Oh, that’s alright then.”
Suddenly, Romana heard something that she had seriously not wanted to hear. Inching her head above the barrier just enough to gain a vantage point, her eyes confirmed he fears.
K9 was slowing down, his battery finally starting to give up the ghost.
“Come on, K9! Just one more shot, please!”
K9’s head was starting to droop, his energy levels seriously depleted. The remaining offensive Dalek swung its gun to cover the robot dog at point blank range.
“K9!” Romana cried, unable to tear her eyes away from the scene before her.
With surprising speed, K9 brought his head back up and fired at the rigid weaponry of the Dalek.
The final Dalek exterminator on Skaro erupted, and the Daleks cried out their frustration.
“I was never in danger, Mistress. I was employing what Master could call a bluff. I required the Dalek’s weaponry to be stationary.”
Romana’s grin was immense, “Sometimes you’re so carbon based sentient, K9!”
“Don’t insult him, Romana, he’s very proud of his circuitry!”
Tantrid coughed, “So what now? They may be unarmed, but they are still alive.”
Romana gave him a withering stare, “’What now?’ I know you’re tired, Tantrid, but you have been here. The plan, of course.”
“My plan?” the Doctor asked.
“Yes, Doctor, your plan.”
“Oh splendid. After me?”
“Yes, after you.”
The group rose, Tantrid’s knees cracking again, and emerged from their improvised shelter. Looking around them, the Thals were relieved that the Doctor had managed to make the shelter resistant to Dalek firepower. Scorch marks pockmarked the walls, and the air was heavy with the heat and smell of discharged stasers.
The two impotent Dalek were gyrating in frustration.
“Do not approach!”
“Why?” the Doctor asked, “What are you going to do?”
The Daleks remained silent.
“I thought so.”
With Romana, the Doctor went behind one of the Daleks and started to push the disabled creature forward. It wasn’t easy work. The Dalek was resisting all attempts to move it. Gradually, the Doctor and Romana managed to get the Dalek to the desired location – the doorway that had the Doctor’s scarf across it.
The scarf was securely tied around the two poles, and roughly one foot off the ground. As the Doctor and Romana lent all their strength and weight to the top half of the Dalek, the rigid scarf helped to topple its balance and it started to fall forward.
Exchanging a glance, the Doctor and Romana gave a concerted effort and pushed with all their might. The Dalek centre of gravity was broken completely and it fell through the doorway, and plummeted to its death down the lift shaft beyond.
“Don’t say it, Doctor.”
“Don’t say what?”
“What you normally do in these situations.”
“What? Oh! You mean, ‘Bye bye!’”
The Doctor pulled a sorry face, “A bit late now, I suppose.”
The sound of the Dalek exploding on the lift shaft floor echoed deafeningly around the room.
The remaining Dalek was being manhandled across the floor by the Thals. Upon hearing his name, the Doctor turned to face it.
“I beg your pardon?”
Romana realised before any of them what the Dalek was saying.
“Everybody – back to the bunker! NOW!”
“Halt! Do not move!”
Not fully understanding why, they all complied with Romana’s directive. No sooner had the last Thal secured themselves than the Dalek exploded. Fortunately, the suicide bomber killed no one other than itself.
“How did you know?” the Doctor asked.
“It was obvious.”
“Oh, well if you say so.”
Tantrid started to shake, “Is it really over?”
The Doctor beamed, “Yes, Tantrid, it is. Skaro now belongs to the Thals. Treat her well. I’m sure there’s a good planet in here somewhere.”
“Thank you. Both of you.”
“Both?” a computerised voice inquired.
Glancing to his left, Tantrid saw K9, his head slightly tilted to one side, “Sorry, ALL of you.”
Romana was in a magnanimous mood, “Don’t over look your part, Tantrid. If it wasn’t for you ensuring the lift door was fused open, the job would have been harder.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.”
“About what, Tantrid.”
“That wiring. It was a simple job, one you could have done easily. Why didn’t you?”
“Tantrid!” Romana said, mock outrage in her voice, “The reason for that is obvious.”
“Is it?” the Doctor asked.
“What is it then?” the Doctor inquired further.
“Honestly, Doctor. That would have been interfering, wouldn’t it? You know we never interfere in things.”
The Doctor harrumphed loudly, “Yes, I see your point.” He paused, then smiled, “Yes, that was rather obvious wasn’t it.”
“This unit calculates that Master Doctor and Mistress Romana interfere in the affairs of planets ninety-eight –“
The Doctor gave K9 a reproachful, but light kick, “Not now, K9, eh?”
The group laughed, the dawning realisation that Daleks were defeated easing their tense bodies. Brief farewells were exchanged, and before long the Doctor, Romana and K9 headed back to the TARDIS. The Doctor’s scarf was once more firmly ensconced around his neck.
As the Doctor slid the key into the TARDIS lock, Romana asked, “Do you think that really is the end of the Daleks? I mean, it was all a bit simple wasn’t it?”
“I’ve thought I’d rid the Universe of the Daleks once before. I was wrong.”
Romana felt a shiver run through her.
“But not this time!” the Doctor announced confidently, “This time they’re gone for good.”
Shoving the door open, he turned to face the bleak, inhospitable landscape of Skaro.
“BYE BYE!” he shouted, and entered the time machine.
Shaking her head, Romana followed close behind.
Hours later, or maybe centuries before, the Doctor, Romana and K9 were in the TARDIS console room, the craft taking them on their way to their next unknown location.
Romana turned to face K9, a look of horror on her face. “Please don’t tell me you want to read Peter and Jane again?”
“Oh good!” Romana breathed, with rather more relief conveyed than she had intended. “What is it then, K9?”
“I am detecting residual static within my circuitry.”
“That’s only to be expected, you’ve been on a statically charged floor for days now.”
“Yes,” the Doctor said from the central console, “I mean look at me – it’s made my hair curly.”
When K9 did not immediately assert that the Doctor’s hair had always been curly, Romana knew that something was indeed wrong.
Staring at K9, she clamped her hand to her mouth as tiny tendrils of smoke poured from his artificial mouth. A series of minor clicks and whirrs ensued, and K9 started to rotate a full three hundred an sixty degrees.
In two large strides, the Doctor crossed over to the spinning robot.
Gradually, the revolutions abated and K9 came to a dead stop.
“Master, Mistress,” he said, his voice slightly higher than before.
The Doctor laughed, “Well, I always said that someday something good would come out of the Daleks’ existence.”
Romana did not understand what the Doctor was driving at.
“The static electricity build up,” the Doctor said by way of explanation. When he saw that Romana still did not see what he meant, he concluded, “It’s cured his laryngitis! Welcome back, K9!”
“Oh, I see…”
“Of all the times to be pedantic.”
“Now there’s a thought! Do you think there is a Universally ascribed right time to be pedantic?”
“Anytime you’re around would seem to suffice.”
The sound of a large, resounding chime stopped the Doctor in his verbal tracks.
“Well, that was the Cloister Bell.”
“Physical intruder located in Cloister area.”
“What?!” the Doctor cried, “Someone –“
“Stop being pedantic. K9, you mean to say that some one, or something has penetrated the TARDIS?”
“But that’s impossible. Even if it has happened before.”
“Intruder is stationary, Master.”
“Hmm. No creeping about? Sounds a rather dull intruder. Oh well, I suppose I’ll have to go and investigate it. We can’t just have anyone stowing away, can we?”
“I’ll come with you.”
The Doctor paused, “No need, Romana. Whatever it is can’t hurt me in here.”
“You place too much faith in that State of Temporal Grace. Take K9.”
“K9, is the intruder armed?”
“Sensors indicate the answer to be negative, Master.”
“There you go! See I’ll be fine. After what I’ve survived, I don’t think I have much to fear here.”
“I don’t like it, Doctor.”
“Would you be happier if I primed my Sonic Screwdriver?”
“Very well. Now, I’ll be back shortly.”
The Doctor left the TARDIS console room and started the long journey to the Cloister Room. As he strode purposefully down corridor after corridor, he realised that the Bell had only sounded once.
He stopped walking.
If the danger the TARDIS had detected was that threatening, why was the Bell only used once? It should still be there, a heartbeat drumming the import of decisive action.
One peal was either a mistake, which K9 had already clarified it wasn’t as there was a physical intruder aboard, or … a summons?
The Doctor found his usual confidence waver, but started walking again never the less.
In the console room, Romana operated the TARDIS scanner and attempted to track the Doctor’s progress through the ship.
The shutter rose as normal, but the screen was simply a wash of static.
“Now, I really don’t like this,” she announced and made to follow the Doctor.
However, to her dismay she found that the door to the inner TARDIS was resolutely wedged closed.
“How?” she said, “This door doesn’t lock!”
“Door is not locked, Mistress.”
“Then why can’t I open it?”
K9 extended his visual antenna and laid his suction cup on the TARDIS plinth.
“TARDIS has re-routed power from the engine room to keep Console Room self-sufficient. Rest of craft had been relocated into a sub-dimension.”
“You mean there’s nothing beyond that door!”
Romana emitted a choked sob and started hammering on the inner door paneling.
The Doctor reached the Cloister Room.
Unlike the majority of the TARDIS, this area had been designed to give the feeling of being outside. An assortment of lush trees sprouted from a paved floor, and all around were stone benches and columns, the latter latticed with trailing ivy. For an area that was linked with impending disaster, it was incredibly tranquil.
The Doctor saw the intruder immediately and suddenly realised he was meant to. It was not hiding.
Near one of the more central stone columns was the form of a man. Against the browns and greys of the brickwork, and more significantly the ripe greenness of the ivy, the fact it was completely white was even more shockingly apparent.
For the first time in a long while, the Doctor felt sensations of fear.
“Who are you? What do you want here?”
The figure did not speak, indeed it didn’t look as though it physically could. From head to toe it was its skin was wispy, the features half formed. It was almost translucent, and staring hard the Doctor was sure he could see something more solid within, just below the surface.
Images of crystallises formed in the Doctors mind, but they were soon banished when the silent intruder slowly raised its right arm. As the white hand extended it pointed at the Doctor. The Time Lord cried out in pain as his brain was flooded with information.
“No!” he yelled, falling to his knees. “Not yet! It can’t be!”
Romana had stopped banging on the door. What was the point if there was nowhere, no one, no world on the other side to hear?
“TARDIS has realigned in one dimension. Intruder has left. Master Doctor will be here in two seconds.”
“Are you cert-“
The inner door opened.
The Doctor entered the console room.
“Doctor!” Romana exclaimed, “What happened? Are you alright?”
The Doctor ignored her, crossing straight over to the TARDIS console. Operating the scanner, he turned to stare at the screen.
“I think the scanners damaged, Doctor, when I –“
The screen lit up and displayed a corridor. It was made entirely of metal, and had a low, curved ceiling.
“Doctor! That’s Skaro.”
The Doctor remained impassive, simply staring at the image.
“Doctor. Talk to me! What is going on?”
Even if the Doctor had been about to say something, the vision of a Dalek on the scanner would have halted him.
The stark, chilling voice of the Dalek flooded the console room.
“As you can see, you did not succeed in destroying the Daleks. Dalek technology allowed us to let your computer believe it had located all of our numbers. We saw the loss of a small faction of our race as an acceptable price for the information we were extracting from your machine. The Dalek Supreme did not die in vain.
“Through your robot we gained access to information about your TARDIS. With this information we can perfect our time travel capabilities. With this information we will find, seek and locate you Doctor.
“The time of the Daleks has yes to come!”
The Doctor turned from the screen, and switched it off. As the image of the Dalek faded from the TARDIS scanner and the shutter slid back into place, the Doctor turned to stare at the console. His face was stern, and yet displayed signs of impending weariness.
Romana laid her hand on his shoulder, but he didn’t respond in any way.
The Time Lord remained immobile, seemingly transfixed by a particular cluster of switches.
“Doctor!” Romana exclaimed, her tone loud, conveying concern. “Doctor, what is it?”
He didn’t reply immediately, and when he did he straightened up and looked Romana straight in the eye. Romana gasped at what she saw. She was gazing into the eyes of a stranger.
“Do you know the Daleks simply went in after us and exterminated the Thals?”
“What? No, how could I know? Doctor, what’s going on here?”
“I think it’s time I left the Universe to sort itself out for awhile. We need a holiday.
“I’ve become over confident, too self assured. I believed I could win every time, because I have in the times before. However, I see now that I’ve been coasting, relaxed in the false notion that this period now will never fade. But it will. Things are in a state of flux, Romana. Things are going to change.”
So saying, the Doctor slowly walked toward the TARDIS’ inner door. Before he could open it, Romana called, “Changes? What changes?”
The Doctor ignored her, and left the console room, the door clicking shut behind him.