Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Mandrasta Solution

So this is it, the series 3 finale, and right on the eve of Consequences' first anniversary! Hurrah! It's been a busy and producative year, and what better way to celebrate than bringing the penultimate series to a close. I hope you enjoy the story, the last one until the fourth and final series launches later this year. There will be another little goodie coming tomorrow, but after that it's break time for the series. Watch this space for more updates though.

For now, please enjoy:

The Mandrasta Solution

                “So you see, that is how I came to be here! And if it weren’t for the fast return switch we’d never have made it back here in time to stop those Krotons now would we, hmm?” The Doctor gave a little chuckle and tugged at his lapels. “Well, it’s time I was leaving now I’m afraid. It’s been rather a busy week for me and I rather fancy that I need a rest. Yes, a good rest.”

                The Doctor’s audience, a rather grateful-looking group of artists, were applauding him for the umpteenth time, and bowing before the Doctor waved away the approval and bowed himself before he disappeared into the TARDIS.

                Though he couldn’t resist coming back out for one final commendation from the enthusiastic crowd and did so immediately. The sight before him was certainly not the one he’d been expecting, finding not a single person left, merely a stone carving.

                “I did insist on no payment, I really did,” the Doctor muttered to no one in particular. “Now, how am I going to get you onboard the Ship? Can’t just carry a thing like that, no no no.” The Doctor walked around it, tapping a finger to his lips. “It’s a very curious piece, very curious.” He worked round to the front of it, looking at the face. “Now that’s odd, I could have sworn its hands weren’t in front like that. Probably this old body of mine, wearing a bit thin.” He gave another little chuckle and turned back to the TARDIS.

                He stepped through the door and closed it, and immediately felt the ship lurch. It wasn’t flight as such, he knew that, but the TARDIS had changed its temporal location. He tried the door, but it was locked. He didn’t remember locking it. Were his body and mind really in such a deteriorated state? He shrugged it off, and tried the doors again. Strangely, they opened, and he stepped out, a blinding light causing him to shield his eyes.

                Expecting it to be the heat of the planet’s sun, the Doctor was more than a little surprised when he noticed it was a large arc light in what appeared to be the holding area of a spaceship. “This is most disturbing,” he said, stepping out.

                Though he didn’t notice the flicker and shimmer of the TARDIS, its systems beginning to break down...


                It didn’t take long for the Doctor to find his way out of the depths of the ship, and up into what he assumed were the passenger quarters. Completely oblivious to those who were also strolling around, the Doctor attempted to glean as much knowledge as he could about his new surroundings without revealing his own identity. There was something faintly familiar about the architecture, but....he dismissed the thought.

                He approached what looked like a crew member and tried his luck.

                “Young man, are we ever going to deviate from this course? We seem to have been circling that planet down there for some time now!” The Doctor raised his eyebrows, awaiting a response from the other man. The man’s face said it all, a look of confusion immediately setting in, which the Doctor waved away with his hand. “I jest of course! This is part of the flight, is it not? An orbit around the planet....” He tailed off, playing his ‘old man’ card that came in handy for just these sort of occasions.

                “Scalintra, that’s right sir.” The young man smiled, feeling he’d done a great service.

                The Doctor nodded. “Yes, indeed, indeed.” He looked at the young man’s uniform, helpfully marked with the insignia of the ‘Triaxiore’, presumably the name of the ship they were travelling on. “Now, would it be at all possible to speak to one of your scientists or the captain perhaps? I have some rather urgent business to discuss.”

                The young man thought for a moment, trying to think of a reason why he shouldn’t permit the old man’s request. Somehow he knew he could trust him, and nodded, speaking into a communicator on his wrist. “Professor Maltric, there’s a gentleman here to see you. Pressing business he says.”

                The reply came through. “Show me.”

                The young man held his wrist so that the Doctor could be seen by the person at the other end, a short laugh coming from both parties.

                “Doctor! Why didn’t you say you coming to visit?”

                The Doctor chuckled. “I didn’t know myself until I arrived!”

                The man smiled. “It’s good to see you. Evans will escort you to the laboratory. There’s something I’d rather like you to take a look at.”

                With that, the communication ended, and ‘Evans’ told the Doctor to follow him. The older man did so, rubbing his joints. They seemed stiffer than usual.  As he did so, he thought back to the brief conversation he’d had with Maltric and muttered to himself, “What a curious fellow. I wonder who he is?”


                With a grind of engines, the TARDIS materialised once more. Steven was the first out of the Ship, eager to see where they’d landed.

                “Looks like some kind of spaceship Doctor. A monitoring station perhaps?” Steven looked around at the equipment that lined the walls of the room they’d landed in. The instrumentation appeared old, not even seeming to still have power running through its systems. Yet, there was a faint humming sound, and as Steven looked closer he could just make out tiny lights flickering and a small monitor processing numbers at an infinitesimally fast rate.

                The Doctor stepped out, making sure to close the door behind him. “It could be just that, yes. The place seems deserted though. Very unnerving.” The Doctor moved to the consoles that Steven was examining and ran a finger over the top, bringing it back with a thick covering of dust, which he wiped off with his other hand. “It looks as if the place has been abandoned. But why? Hmmm?”

                Steven waved a hand near what he recognised to be a sensor for the lighting, and suddenly the room was bathed in a pale white light that highlighted the true extent of the neglect that had befallen the place.  Steven let out a long slow whistle. “Well this place hasn’t seen life in some time by the looks of it. Was it always fully automated?”

                The Doctor looked up from his examination of the controls. “Why don’t you have a look elsewhere while I try to figure that out?” With that, he turned back to the consoles and peered through his spectacles at them intently.

                Steven knew there was no point trying to convince the old man otherwise, so he left him to his own devices and stepped through a nearby doorway.

                The corridor he arrived in was surprisingly well-lit, yet was just as untouched as the control room. He walked along it, listening to his footsteps reverberate around the place. Just resisting the urge to shout ‘Hello’, he moved to what appeared to be a viewing platform. There were few stars wherever it was they’d landed, and there was definitely some anomalous activity from the limited amount that Steven was able to discern.

                “It’s odd, isn’t it?” Steven whirled round at the sound of the voice. An attractive woman with shoulder-length dark hair was looking in his direction, but her gaze was focussed on what was happening outside of the ship rather than at Steven himself.

                “You, work here? Are you part of the crew?” It was all he could think of to ask, so stunned was he at the sudden appearance of the woman.        

                She shook her head. “No, I arrived here the same way that you did. By TARDIS. Well, not that the Doctor’s is technically just a TARDIS anymore.”

                Steven approached her. “You know the Doctor? Are you one of his people? He never talks about them, but if you’ve got a time machine too...”

                The woman sighed. “It’ll be easier if we sit down Steven.” She watched, waiting for him to ask how she knew his name, but he obviously thought better of it. There was just enough of a ledge by the viewing area for the pair to sit, illuminated by the gentle glow from the lights from outside. “I’m Doctor River Song and I know the Doctor very well. He doesn’t know me though. Not yet, but he will.”

                Steven waved aside the information. “Yes that’s all well and good, but what are you doing here? At the same time that we are?”

                “Well I’d have thought that was obvious. I’ve been tracking him, back through his lives. This is the earliest signal I could find. Apart from the original, but I’ve already been there.” She smiled. “You haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, have you?”

                Steven sat upright, doing his best to understand the intricacies of what he’d been told. “So, let me get this right: you’ve been following the Doctor, throughout his lives...” He paused. “Lives? Plural?” She simply nodded. Steven thought better than to dwell on it. The Doctor could be a closed book at the best of times, but this...he decided to file that fact away for later and continued. “So you’ve been tracking him in a TARDIS?”

                River interrupted.”In his TARDIS. From the future.” The bewilderment on Steven’s face made her wish she had something to capture the image with.

                Steven stood, taking it all in, his brain sifting through the various facts he’d just been fed. “Ok, so tell me this – why?” He stood, looking as triumphant as he could for a man who had a very loose grasp on what he’d just been told, but thought he’d just about managed to understand the truth of it.

                River stood up. “It’s a very long story, the short version of which is that the Doctor shouldn’t be here. Things shouldn’t be happening the way they are. This Doctor – my Doctor – belongs back in another universe. As do I.”

                “So you’re saying there’s another Doctor, in this other universe who shouldn’t be there either? And another me and another...” He trailed off, a painful memory surfacing. He looked away from River, out into the blackness of the exterior once more.

                River moved to sit next to him once more, a gentle hand on his shoulder. “If it helps to talk, I’m a good listener.” She gave a weak smile, which Steven returned.

                “Thank you. I suppose, well, the only other person I could have talked to was the Doctor, and you know what he’s like. I’ve had to live with this festering inside me, bottled up for so long.” He took a deep breath. “The Doctor, he used to travel with two school teachers. Ian and...”

                “Barbara.” River interrupted him, the memory of the Barbara she’d travelled with floating to the surface of her mind. “She was a school teacher? My Barbara was a mercenary.”

                Your Barbara?” Steven looked incredulous.

                River looked at him, could see the sorrow in his eyes.  “She came with me, when this whole thing started. And she did so much, gave so much...” She trailed off, the thought bringing its own melancholy with it.

                Steven could feel a lump in his throat, but he forced the words out. “They were good people, I could tell that even though I barely knew them, but they didn’t deserve that. No one deserved that.” River stood, waiting, not wanting to press him for further details. She knew they’d come soon enough. “The ship, I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was some kind of time vessel. Not a TARDIS as such but...”He stopped himself realising he was digressing. He could feel the hotness of tears pricking the corners of his eyes, but he knew it was helping to expunge the information, as if he were purging his very soul of the sadness. “They left, all ready to get back to their own time. Yet something went wrong. The Doctor thought it should be able to get them back, and I didn’t know that he meant across universes. Not then. We watched it on the TARDIS scanner, the Doctor, Vicki and me. We watched as it...” He paused, attempting to compose himself. “ it tore apart. We saw them, lifeless, floating in space.  It was horrible...”

                River looked at him, completely empathic with his situation. She could tell he wasn’t finished though, his bowed head rising once more to continue the story.

                “We thought at first it was a terrible accident. I mean that’s how it seemed at the time. But the more time passed, the less likely that seemed.” He stopped again to compose himself. He had no idea how hard it would be to speak out loud all that had been stored within him for the past few months, eating away at him. “The incidents became more and more obvious, more common. It was only after we found Vicki crying that we knew she’d been behind them all. It stemmed from a long time in the past, from when her mother died, or so the Doctor theorised. Her personality had fractured, she wasn’t even aware of it.”

                River’s mind was skipping ahead, her thoughts racing ahead to the inevitable grim conclusion of the tale.

                Steven continued, avoiding River’s gaze now. “We arrived on a ship, a prison ship as it turned out. We hadn’t gone far when one of the prisoners grabbed Vicki and took her hostage in the airlock. There was a struggle, and Vicki’s other side fought well for her but in the end the look on her face...” He closed his eyes, a lone tear trickling down his cheek which he wiped away immediately. “It was like a release for her, the only way out.”

                River moved to place a comforting hand on his shoulder, but was stopped by the ship buffeting wildly. Steven was immediately drawn back from his reverie, though the look he gave to River made it clear that he’d achieved his own release from sharing the pain that had been caught within him. They both turned to look outside, a clear distortion in the very space around the vessel visible to the naked eye.

                “Now that’s more like it!” River grinned, and Steven couldn’t help but follow suit, despite the alarm he felt simultaneously.  “Out there is a time corridor, and this station here was set up at one end of it. The question is, what’s at the other?”

                “There’s no way of knowing that unless we can fathom the instrumentation, and it’s well in advance of my time,” Steven offered.

                “Yours perhaps, but not mine. Even so, there’s only one way we’re going to know for sure.” River turned on her heels and beckoned Steven to follow.

                “You’re not suggesting...?” Steven questioned as he headed after her.

                Steven couldn’t see her, but already he knew she’d have a smile on her face as she said, “That’s right – we’re going through it!”

What have I let myself in for? he pondered as he hurried after her.


                The Doctor hands moved over the controls, inspecting rather than touching them. As he did he gave a slight chuckle, a sign of his own glee at the discovery of such instrumentation. “Quite ingenious!” he announced to an empty room. “Now, I wonder if that faint tremor just now was an indication of this equipment not working correctly. Hmm, yes, I wonder...” He tapped a finger to his lips in thought, weighing up the different possibilities in his mind.

                From the corner of his eye he swore he saw movement. Whirling around there was nothing. He called for Steven, but was only greeted by the echo of his own words. He made to turn back to the controls, then paused. He was sure...had there been a statue in here previously? The Doctor scanned the room, taking in every part of it. Now there was nothing, but he was sure that before there’d been...what was it?

                He shook his head. “Nonsense, utter nonsense!” He dismissed the thought, certain that nothing was awry.

                Except a tiny part of him didn’t, couldn’t let go of the possibility that he wasn’t imagining things. Continually checking his peripheral vision, he continued with his examination.


“Greetings Doctor, we’ve been expecting you!” Maltric took the Doctor’s hand and shook it,

the Doctor continuing to play along as if he knew the man like an old friend.

                “Yes, hello sir, hello!” The Doctor smiled, attempting to maintain a degree of understanding with the stranger. As he shook the man’s hand his own felt heavy and oddly cold. He shook it after releasing it, trying to get the blood circulating once more.

                “Are you alright Doctor? You seem rather distracted. Nothing troubling you is there?”

                The Doctor shook his head. “No, everything’s quite alright. So,” he said rapidly changing the subject, “What seems to be the problem?”

                Maltric moved over to a screen on the wall on which was displayed figures and a constantly fluctuating image. “It’s this that’s been puzzling me. The readings are all over the place, and...well I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. I know that it’s some sort of localised time distortion, but what I can’t understand is what it’s doing.”

                The Doctor studied the screen, watching the images shift and change with increasing rapidity. “It really is quite puzzling, yes quite puzzling indeed. What research is it that you’re undertaking here?”

                The other man scratched at his beard. “Nothing of this nature. Certainly we’ve looked into chronon particle acceleration but...”

                The Doctor drew himself up to his full height. “Chronon acceleration? And you’re wondering why the readings are like this, hmm?” He grasped his lapels and addressed the other scientist. “You must set this ship to leave this sector immediately. If you don’t, the repercussions could be quite disastrous!”

                With that the Doctor turned and walked towards the door. Maltric nodded to his technicians, who in turn began to alter instruments and punch in codes to the ship’s navigation systems. No one questioned him or the advice the Doctor had given. They all knew that when the Doctor spoke they acted without thinking.

                The Doctor looked over his shoulder. “Good luck to you all.” With that, he left the room and headed back to the TARDIS. While looking at the scanner he’d realised the truth of the event that was to occur, and he needed to leave before it did.

                He tried to hurry, but his movements were stiff, as he were made of stone. He looked down at his hand. His skin had a distinct pallor to it that wasn’t simply the sign of an aging body. With great effort, he made it to the Ship, sluggish and rigid. Trying to find the key in his pocket, his fingers started to stiffen, flexibility dissipating rapidly. With as much strength as he could he pulled his hand out, the key gripped tightly as if he’d never be able to release it from his grasp. His arm moved slowly to the lock and, barely able to but somehow managing it, he turned the key. The door swung open, the light it cast highlighting his appendage. The tone of his skin was grey, not that it resembled skin anymore. It was as if he’d been carved, like a statue. Though that was impossible, wasn’t it? He was flesh and bone, not...The more he tried to move, the less he could.

                He tilted his head upwards, looking into the Ship. A warning light was flashing on the console and somehow, with immense effort, he made it into the TARDIS. As he moved in he could hear an alarm sounding throughout the Triaxiore, and with an even greater effort than before he flicked two switches – one to close the doors, the other to activate the dematerialisation process.

                As soon as he had done it, the Doctor was aware of two things: firstly that he had set in motion his own destiny and those of the crew of the Triaxiore, that much was certain. The other aspect, of which he was less certain, was what exactly was happening to him.

                He had little chance to dwell on the matter before a blinding light engulfed him.


                Steven was finding it hard to keep up. She was slightly older than he was, though far more energetic. If he’d been a different frame of mind his thoughts could be leading elsewhere, but the situation was far more urgent in other respects. She’d stopped just outside the TARDIS yet...was it hers or the Doctor’s? He watched as she hurried through the door and he followed her.             

                Upon entering Steven knew that it certainly wasn’t the Doctor’s – not his Doctor at least. The interior was oranges and reds, and it looked far more expansive than his regular transport.

                “Well it’s certainly bigger than I’m used to!” He just refrained from whistling in appreciation at his surroundings, watching as River punched and pulled buttons and levers around the console.

                “I’m going to scan the immediate area one more time, and then we need to get to the other end of that anomaly.” She busied herself over the console, looking down at a screen set into the control area. “And if these readings are anything to go by, we’d better be fast.”

                Just like old times, thought Steven.


                “Aha!” The Doctor pressed a button triumphantly. A screen in front of him lit up immediately, a worried looking man staring back at him. “Hello young man, what seems to be the trouble, hmm?”

                The face on the screen paled further, a look of genuine fear crossing the man’s face. On the screen, the legend ‘Scalintra’ was showing, which the Doctor knew to be the name of a planet rather than the terrified technician at the other end of the connection.

                The man continued to look scared as the Doctor tapped the screen, wondering if the connection was working properly. “Can you hear me? Is this communicator working properly?”

The Doctor raised an eyebrow, which caused the young man to back away from the screen, slowly at first, then breaking into a run and screaming.

                “Quite extraordinary!” the Doctor muttered, genuinely surprised by the occurrence.  He moved back himself, and turned around to be confronted by a statue of...he wasn’t quite sure, though it looked vaguely familiar. “Oh good gracious! Now where did you come from, hmm?” He looked it over, walking all around it studiously examining it. Why did it seem so familiar? He shook the thought away and hurried out of the room. Something was more than a little awry, and he needed to find Steven quickly.


                “No, not yet. I’ve got to get back to the Doctor.” Steven stepped out of the TARDIS, dashing off in what he thought was the right direction. River followed suit, but inadvertently took the opposite path to the one Steven had chosen.

                “Now’s not the time to question!” she shouted aloud.

                “The time to question what?” River stopped suddenly on hearing the voice, knowing who its owner would be before she even looked up.

                “Doctor, outside this station, as I’m sure you’ve already found out, is a time anomaly. We need to get away from here now, without question.”

                The Doctor drew himself up to his full height. “Is that right, young lady? And why should I take your word for it? Have we met before?”

                River looked deep into his eyes and the Doctor could somehow sense he could trust her. “Oh we’ve met, more times than you’d believe. And I know you’ll trust me, you always do.”

                The Doctor mulled it over for a few seconds, then addressed her once again. “We need to find Steven. Then we shall all travel together.”

                “Agreed.” River strode off purposefully once more, venturing in the room the Doctor had left moments before. There was no sign of the statue now, and the communication screen was flickering with static.

                The Doctor followed her in, looking around for the figure that had been there previously but, like River, found nothing. He looked down at the screen once more, suddenly a face appearing. There was something oddly familiar about it – the hair, the pronounced chin...The Doctor stood as straight as he could, almost looking down on what he knew was his future self.

                “So my boy, you’ve ended up there! Not where you should be, not where you should be at all!” The Doctor looked at himself. The face appeared younger, at least outwardly, but he was so old. That was reassuring though, he thought, living to such an age. Which incarnation could he be? His musings were interrupted by his older self.

                “Now anytime I see me there’s always some terrible danger so you showing up here is really very not good. Where are you broadcasting from?” He paused. “That’s assuming you’re not a recording, but then the time fluctuation here would seem to indicate that that’s not possible, so...”

                The Doctor coughed, and River indicated that she wanted to speak to this other him. “When you’ve quite finished! Where I am is of little importance at the present, but it’ll all become clear in time. Your friend here has a message for It’s all very confusing!”

                The older Doctor raised his hands up to the screen, the Doctor able to see that he was bound somehow. “Yes, and I’m still in handcuffs! Tied up, stuck on a ship circling a planet that up until a couple of hours ago was full of rampaging statues, and now trapped in the middle of some time distortion! How is this getting any better any time soon?”

                River ushered the Doctor out of the way and spoke into the screen. “Sorry sweetie! But trust me, there’s a very good reason that I did what I did. Hold still.” The Doctor watched as River pulled a small, slim metallic device from a pocket and pointed it at the monitor. Somehow, at the other end, his older self’s bindings fell away from his wrists.

                The other Doctor looked at River, a perplexed look on his face. “River! Where exactly are you? I thought this was your way off Alfava Metraxis, and now you’re, what, on the other side of the galaxy?”

                River gave that smile once more. “Oh, much further than that. Can’t say any more now though...”

                The Doctor caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye and turned to look. There, right at the back of the room, the statue had returned. The Doctor tried not to listen to the conversation that was taking place behind him, not wanting to be too aware of his own future. He closed his eyes momentarily, the events of the last few hours taking their toll. As he opened them again, the statue had moved closer. He wasn’t sure how, but it seemed to be a very noticeable distance nearer to him than it had before.

                Aware that the Doctor had his back to her, River turned too and the look of horror on her face made the gravity of the situation all too clear. River looked back to the screen. “They’re coming. But it’s imperative that you stop them, make sure you count...”

                As River made to finish her sentence, the Doctor blinked.

                The only noise left in the room came from the other end of the communicator.


                Then silence.


                He opened his eyes slowly. It was the only way he could. He could see his hands outstretched, now consumed by grey. He couldn’t move, his whole body held fast. He had no idea where he was now, but he assumed that something had happened to the TARDIS. The light...

                Suddenly he found himself able to move. Slow smooth movements, but movements all the same. His mind was whirring, attempting to figure out what had happened. On the other side of the room he could see...himself? No, that was impossible, unless...he thought back to the Mandrasta Archive, to the TARDIS he’d taken when he’d been stranded there himself. Then he’d met himself – or a version of himself. Could this be the same one? He moved forward once more, and found that he was able to cover more ground in a shorter time.

                And then...he couldn’t move, couldn’t even see. He wasn’t sure how much time passed. It felt like an eternity until suddenly he found his limbs working, his vision restored once more. Yet there was no sign of his doppelganger.

                He turned, his mind racing through the possibilities of what had happened and he was determined to find his other self. He moved quickly, his mind still attempting to understand where he was and how he’d gotten here. He thought back, back to the Mandrasta Archive to what he’d seen. Elements of the TARDIS, parts of the Triaxiore. Could they have combined somehow to make something new, sowing the seeds of what could be? It was possible, he had to admit that. Yet what had happened to him? A living statue, thrown clear of the wreckage and...where? He had to find himself, both literally and metaphorically, but...           

                He was frozen once more. Time, passing infinitesimally slowly until...freedom, sight, movement. There he was once again, looking at the communication screen in the room he’d started in, this time accompanied by a woman he didn’t recognise. He advanced, then froze. Advanced, then froze once more. Advanced, reached out and they...vanished.



                “Doctor?” Steven knew he was almost certainly in completely the wrong area of the base, but felt that he had to make the effort to try. As he walked along yet another similar-looking corridor, a door slid open to his right as he passed. Without knowing precisely why he felt compelled to enter.

                He walked through, the room saturated in darkness. A spotlight picked out a glass cabinet, the type of which Steven associated with museums. He moved to examine it. It contained what appeared to be a man – a scientist? – with the name badge ‘Aldrich’. Another light came on in front of another cabinet. This time it was larger, and clearly alien, the identifying label marked ‘Prevayan’.       As Steven moved around the room, a new light came on as he passed each cabinet. Steven tried to retain each name, but there were so many that few stuck in his mind. There was something called a ‘Holdarnak’; a creature that looked like a man-sized badger; a giant pepperpot with what looked like something Steven had seen in history holo-vids as a ‘sink plunger’ and countless others.

                “What is this place?” he whispered to himself, then stopped dead when he saw the last case. In it was a figure that was all too familiar to him and which he never thought he’d see again. It was humanoid, female. The legend inscribed on the outside of the case was two words.

                Vicki Pallister.


                “Well run the scan again, it can’t have just disappeared!”

                The voice brought the Doctor and River to their senses, the old man helping the younger woman to her feet. They looked around. There were people everywhere, yet none seemed to acknowledge their existence, bustling past them, almost walking through them.  

                “We’re still here, on the station. The exact position we were, except...” River looked around as to check she was right. “...we’ve moved in time.”

                The Doctor studied the surroundings, as if to determine exactly when they’d arrived. “That’s extremely perceptive young lady, and completely correct it seems. I believe, from the amount of activity, that we’ve travelled into the past.”

                River walked, observing the personnel, attempting to interact with them. She tried shouting threats, throwing things, but there was still no response from any of them. Eventually she grabbed hold of a nearby chair and sat down. “I give up! How are we going to get through to these people?”

                The Doctor chuckled. “Well I think, my dear that we are somewhat out of phase with them. We’ve jumped a ‘time track’, yes that’s it.” He clasped his hands together, giving another small chuckle. “I don’t believe that’s happened before, how very interesting.”

                River stared up at him. “That’s as maybe, but how exactly do we get back? This is no doubt a result of that anomaly plus...was that a Weeping Angel?”

                The Doctor furrowed his brow. “A Weeping what? Where?”

                “Back on the station, in the future. The statue. I’ve seen them before, they displace people in time, feed off the energy. Or kill them, so technically we could be...” River stopped, staring up at the bearded figure barking orders to the rest of the crew.             

                The Doctor had turned and was looking in the same direction. “Good gracious! It’s Steven!”

                Without warning, the scenario around them changed, reverting back to the darkened station they’d been in previously, Steven – their Steven – standing in place of his bearded counterpart. Between them stood the Angel, frozen as if reaching out to them.

                “The thing to do, is not to blink. Or look directly into their eyes. That way you’re safe, for a time.” River stared straight ahead at the creature, more concerned with its presence than by the sudden shift in time once more.

                All three of them stared, trying to back away from the creature at the same time.

                “Doctor, I’ve seen Vicki. In a glass case like a museum exhibit. And others, all lined up like someone’s private collection.” There was an urgency in Steven’s voice, coupled with a desire to keep his eyes focussed on the statue.

                “How very disturbing my boy, but at this moment we need to escape from this rather troublesome predicament.”

                At that moment, for the briefest of microseconds, all three blinked and the Angel took advantage of the opportunity. It turned, its hands now fractions of an inch from Steven.

                “Doctor, I don’t think there’s any way out of this for me. Go, you’ve got to find out why Vicki’s here.” Steven spoke with determination, with a faint edge of fear which he did his best to hide from the others.

                “Nonsense! I will not let you sacrifice yourself like this. I will not see another person come to harm because of my actions.” The Doctor was equally firm in his belief, and he meant every word.

                “It’s not the end for him,” River whispered, “we’ve seen his future. In the past.”

                “That’s as maybe, but I cannot leave him here to that fate!” The Doctor was adamant.

                River nodded to Steven, who nodded in return. She pulled a small device from her pocket and pressed it against the Doctor’s neck. He fell limp immediately, and she dragged him from the room. “You’ll be fine,” she shouted at Steven. “And you might even figure out the answer.” She winked, and both she and the Doctor were away from the room, headed to River’s TARDIS.

                Steven gritted his teeth. “Here goes nothing.”

                And blinked.


                “Right, a short hop. Let’s see if I can find this room Steven was talking about.” The Doctor lay unconscious on the floor, River adjusting the controls of the ship slightly, shifting it in place but not time.

                The journey was over before it had begun, and River stepped out into the room that Steven had described. A few of the figures he recognised from her own past, but there were many that she’d never seen before.

                Without warning, another door slid open, revealing an ante-room. Cautiously, River stepped through, and was greeted by a similar sight to the one in the room she’d just left. Only this time the figures were far more recognisable, River outwardly gasping in shock at what lay before her.

                She moved around, looking over each one, mentally making a note of as many as she could. “He’s got to know about this, spoilers or not. This is wrong.” She turned, little noticing what had been lurking in the shadows.

                It reached her before she even saw it.

                And she was gone.


                The Doctor got to his feet, clutching his head. He noticed the open door to...was this his Ship? It looked so different, not to his taste at all and yet perhaps it was.

                He used the console for support, surveying what had become of his TARDIS. There was no sign of the young woman, and he made for the door. He turned back momentarily, thinking perhaps he’d dropped something in his haste.

                The creature was upon him in seconds, wasting no time.

                All that remained in the TARDIS was a lone statue.

                A statue that bore a distinct resemblance to an angel.


                Do they fear me? Why do they disappear when I reach out? What have I become?

                 And it pondered those questions for an eternity, until the ship died and the world around it became open space. It fell, through time, through space, losing all memory of what it once was.

                There was nothing of the man it had once been, though it knew it had once done good things, saved good people, set things right.

                But now it was merely hungry.

                All it knew was that it needed food.

                And it would achieve that by any means possible.


                The Doctor awoke. He was onboard the TARDIS, his TARDIS. Was it a dream?

                “Doctor, are you alright? You’ve been out for a while now.” The Doctor looked up. Was it really him?

                “Chesterton, is that you?” He couldn’t quite believe the sight before him.

                Ian smiled. “Of course it’s me. Now are you alright? Barbara’s just gone to get some water from the food machine.”

                The Doctor, aided by Ian, stood up. “Yes, I believe I’m fine. Tell me, are we still onboard the Mandrasta Archive?”

                Ian nodded. “Well we were, until you collapsed as soon as we stepped out of the doors. Barbara and I brought you inside and then the Ship...well, it’s like it’s got a mind of its own!”

                The Doctor looked to the central column that was rising and falling, indicating that the Ship was in flight. He gave a faint chuckle. “Oh my dear boy that’s the most wonderful news I’ve heard in some time!”

                Ian gave him a slightly confused look, then smiled. He wasn’t sure he’d ever understand the old man.

                The Doctor turned on the scanner screen and looked out at space.

                Finally, he was back home.


                “Doctor Song? Doctor Song?”

                River sat bolt upright and stared at the bars of her cell. Was this...Stormcage? She looked around the all-too familiar surroundings. Yes, she was back. Somehow, she was back.

                “Well, at least you’re back with us. For now.” The guard strolled away, his job done.

                River stood up, looking through the small window in the cell’s wall. She was definitely back, back in her own universe, she could sense it, yet...

                Her mind raced back, the last images she could remember. A set of names, a series of people trapped in glass cabinets. Only the first and last stuck in her head.

                Steven Taylor.

                Rory Williams.

                If they were stuck there, she needed to find out why and how. Her own life depended on it, literally.

                She dug around under her mattress and found what she was looking for. She pulled out her hallucinogenic lipstick.

                “Well, it’s worked more than once,” she said, as she prepared to escape once more. “I’m coming Doctor, and together we’re going to finish this.”

No comments:

Post a Comment