Time Lady 2

Solaria Rising

Time Lady 2
Book One
Book Two
The Whitechapel Murders
Book Three
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Strange fascination, fascinating me
Ah changes are taking the pace I’m going through
 - from 'Changes' by David Bowie

Chung Li Na

Bong.  Li Na’s eyes opened, her moment of ecstasy dissolved.  Bong.  She slowly got up off of Yin.  Bong.  She pulled her knickers on.  Bong.  She stepped into her dress.  Bong.  She pulled it up to her hips.  Bong.  She pulled the upper half onto her bare shoulders.  Bong.  She half zipped it up.  Bong.  She pushed her feet into her shoes.  Bong.  She was out the door.  Bong.  Yin woke up and wondered what was going on.  Li Na ran down the corridor as best she could in two inch heels, which wasn’t all that fast to be honest.  She burst into the circular control room of the TARDIS and frantically began to pour over the readings on the control panels.  “This is not good.”  She said to herself.  “Not good at all.”  In space it was as if a billion clawed hands tore at every single dimension of the time machine, tearing it open.  Li Na held on to the console as the TARDIS began to break up all around her.  Huge gouts of oily flames burst through the floor, cutting her off from the rest of the ship.  She saw Yin standing at the doorway.  He was saying something, she could see his mouth moving, but she heard no words.  There was a burst of red and blue and green flashing lights as the ship was torn apart.  Solaria laughed as the puny vessel succumbed to her power.  Taste my power, mortal!  Li Na fell against the corridor wall as a sudden sharp pain exploded inside of her head.  She struck her head on the wall as she fell and she struggled for consciousness but failed.  A dream clawed its way up out of her subconsciousness, a dream in which she wore a silly grin and an even sillier scarf.

 

 

Dave Wilkinson had been looking forward to this holiday for the last month now. The pressures at work were now a fortnight away while he was here in the middle of paradise. Marge and the kids were splashing around in the sea while he simply lay back and let the sun beat down on him. The scent of the ocean breeze and sun tan lotion mixed to give that unique holiday smell. Marge lifted her oldest daughter Lucy up and down into and out of the sea. She laughed and giggled as the water surrounded her. She turned around to see where Molly was but there was no sign of her.

Then a hand emerged out of the sea. It had seaweed between the fingers and huge talons on the fingertips. Marge screamed as dozens of large creatures emerged from out of the sea. They had huge bulging eyes and wore nothing save a peculiar blue string vest like garment. Many of them carried metal discs strapped to their hands which they pointed at the holiday makers. The victims were reduced to floating piles of ashes that undulated gently with the waves.

Angry and scared Dave jumped to his feet and ran down to the waters edge. He only found Lucy. He picked his defenceless daughter up and ran for it.

 

 

"It's good of you to visit Doctor. It does get a bit boring here by your self." Mike had let the recently regenerated Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith into his new bungalow. He had bought it after his dishonourable discharge from the Army and UNIT "Still can't quite fit you together with your previous self, but read the Brigadiers report."

"I can't quite believe it and I was there Mike." Sarah sipped her tea again. "We all thought he had had it, but never underestimate a Time Lord. Especially the Doctor."

"That's right. Don't trust them either as a general rule. That's one of the reasons I left Gallifrey. Jelly baby?" The Doctor passed a bag of the sweets to Mike.

"Thanks." The radio which had being playing a gentle concerto by Mozart stopped and a shocking news report came on. It gave rough details about sea monsters attacking tourists. "Should we investigate Doctor?" Mike was eager to relive his soldier days one last time. He felt it would redeem him in the Doctor's eyes somehow.

"Yes, why not. The TARDIS isn't far from here. No need to pack, there's lots of spare clothes in the old girl."

"Should we inform U.N.I.T? The Brigadier would have a fit if he knew I was involved. I'm supposed to keep my head down for the next hundred years or so. Or words to those effects at least."

"Well I won't tell Alistair if you don't."

 

 

The three friends walked the two miles across fields of crops and grazing cattle, until they came to the familiar blue police box shape of the TARDIS. The Doctor produced the key and they went inside. The Doctor set the dematerialisation codes and it vanished with a grinding sound. Five minutes later the TARDIS materialised on top of the Hotel La Playa.

They emerged and looked down to see a lot of people being herded into a huge pen.

"Senonians!" The Doctor gasped in amazement.  “They’re Sea Devil storm troopers to be exact!”

 

 

You have encountered and defeated the deep ones.  Solaria chuckled.  The children of the distant past, I care not for these dwellers of the deep.  They are outside of my plans for this universe.  No, wait, this time it is not the children of Father Dagon.  This was a hoax.  Solaria probed deeper into the Doctor’s memories.  You were deceived by impostors, led by one of your own kind.

 

 

“So why this elaborate stunt then?” The Doctor demanded. “People have died because of you.”

Juan Miguel, the leader of the Senonian Liberation Army, laughed. “Why is it that people are only concerned when it’s people who die? Tell me why the bigotry? Would they shed a tear if a Senonian died?”

“I would.” The Doctor said slowly. “I have. This doesn’t excuse you though does it? So eager to apply your twisted logic that you can’t see your own double standard.”

“Shut up.” Miguel aimed his weapon at the babbling mans head. “Shut up and prepare to die.”

“No, you can’t.” Sarah Jane jumped in front of the Doctor and pushed the strange disc shaped gun away from the Doctor’s face. “The Doctor is a good man and I won’t allow you to hurt him.”

Miguel smiled at the woman before his face became a mask of hate. He lashed out with the back of his free hand and struck her hard across the face, sending her crashing to the floor. “You can die too if you want.”

“Now there’s no need for that kind of behaviour.” The Doctor began to uncoil his long scarf from around his neck and let one of the ends fall down by Sarah. “Why don’t you show how sorry you are Sarah?”

Sarah Jane worked quickly, wrapping the loose end of scarf around the leg of the rubber suit. “Ok Doctor, help me up would you?”

The Doctor ravelled up the slack length of scarf as he knelt down to help Sarah up. As they stood up they pulled on the scarf together, sending the Sea Devil impostor falling backwards. “Run Sarah!”

Sarah took hold of the Doctor’s huge hand and they ran through the crowd of people back towards the safety of the nearby hotel.

“Let them run, we’ll find them later. They can’t go far.” Miguel looked at his troops. “Get this lot into the camp; we can process them later for their crimes.”

 

 

Mike touched the door of the TARDIS; there was a slight but constant vibration under his fingertips. He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the key. Slowly he inserted the key into the lock and turned it. The blue doors swung open easily on its hinges and the former UNIT officer walked inside.

 

 

Sarah pulled the Doctor up just after they ran into the safety of the hotel. “What do we do now Doctor? We can’t just let them kill those people.”

The Doctor paced around the reception area, his hat clenched tightly in his hand. “I’m working on that Sarah. Hopefully Mike has achieved his part of the plan, now I need you to do something for me Sarah.”

“What’s that Doctor?”

“I want you to stay here while I allow them to recapture me.”

Sarah was appalled. “You want me to do what? We can do far more by being free Doctor, we can find a way to rescue the prisoners and stop this charade.”

The Doctor held up his hand. “There’s more to this than meets the eye Sarah, how did they get all that equipment? Some one is supplying them with all they need and I my suspicions about who it is.”

“Who?” Sarah asked the obvious, as usual.

The Doctor smiled at Sarah. “Let’s just say it’s an old friend of mine, from my school days.”

 

 

Mike sent the controls for the heart of the action. The large plastic tube in the middle began to move up and down, indicating that the TARDIS was indeed moving once again. So far he hoped that the Doctor and Sarah were ok. He couldn’t see too much from his position atop the hotel but the revelation that the Sea Devils were humans in disguise was shocking to say the least.

There was a pinging sound and suddenly Mike was thrown off his feet, the deep tolling of a bell began to echo through the corridors and rooms of the TARDIS.

 

 

Sarah watched as the rest of the captives were herded away into a huge pen like structure made of rock and steel. One of the captives tried to escape over this crude barrier but within seconds his body was baked from the inside out by deadly microwaves. She couldn’t stand by and let this go on so once the terrorists moved away she crept forward. She had her own style of liberation in mind, the release of so many hostages.

 

 

Miguel was surprised to see the tall curly haired man so soon. “So, you decided to accept my hospitality? What happened to your big mouthed friend?”

“Sarah’s long gone, she’ll bring help.”

Miguel aimed his heat gun at a small rock near the fool’s feet. He fired a beam of heat at it and watched as the rock heated up and melted into a puddle of lava before hissing and cooling when a wave of seawater covered it.

“I think you really need to control you temper. Perhaps if we discussed the matter in a civilised manner? Or perhaps I can talk to your boss?”

“I command the SLA.” Miguel went to strike the Doctor but the Doctor grabbed his wrist.

“Where is he?” The Doctor demanded. “Or doesn’t he want the honour of killing me himself?”

Another Sea Devil impostor walked forward. “Enough Juan, I’ll deal with this.” He removed his mask to reveal his real face. Stubble covered chin, a wide mouth with a sly smile, a noble nose, ancient eyes that had seen much and a balding scalp.

The Doctor gasped with recognition. “You’re the one masterminding all of this? I really thought it was the Master.”

The figure smiled. “Why Theta, you look like you’ve seen someone you weren’t expecting.” Drax pointed a finger at the Doctor. “Sorry old friend but you haven’t left me with much of a choice. You’ve already compromised my operation here too much; if your friend hadn’t escaped I could have spared your lives. You’ve really left me with no choice here Theta, no choice at all. I’m sorry it has to end this way Theta, kill him Juan.”

 

 

Behold my power.  Solaria plucked the Doctor out of the TARDIS and deposited her on a distant planet.  Awaken!

Li Na, the Doctor, awoke.  She was on the surface of a strange desert world.  All around was heat blasted sand, an endless sea of grainy beach.  The temperature was enough to fry an egg, but to her it was as a mild summer breeze.  She remembered what had happened.  Yin.  The TARDIS.  They were gone, destroyed.  She was alone!  The first moisture in an aeon sizzled as it dripped onto the bleached blonde sand.  Chung Li Na was a widow; her baby would never know its father now.  She had to be strong now for them, she had to stand up to this.  She had to be strong, she had to be who she was, she was the Doctor and she was not going to lose to a jumped up psychotic gas bag with delusions of godhood.  “I am, the Doctor!”  She screamed at the empty sky.  Then she felt weak as her body was lurched sideways into the dimension of dreams.

Another past life to cull before you are released from your heavy burden.  Solaria laughed.  A nemesis you enjoyed sparring with.

 

 

The steel razor danced slow, slow, quick, quick; slow on the deep red coloured desk. It reduced the lumpy white chemical into a perfect powder form. A banknote with a dead president’s head was rolled up. Maybe it was sign of things to come, maybe not. A deep inhalation and the room expanded to contain the heavens. The President reclined in his chair and sighed softly. Only a few days in charge and things were already getting better. “Miss Capshaw, send in my next appointment please.” He didn’t care to hear his secretary’s reply and so he switched the speaker off.

The Colonel was not really her type at all. It was the eyes. Strange, staring eyes that seemed to drill straight into her soul. “Colonel Retsam, the President will see you now.”

“Thank you.”

She was glad once the RAF liaison officer entered the Oval office. Those eyes still bugged her. So cold and…alien.

 

 

“Where are we this time Doctor? It looks like a chalk quarry.” In fact it looked bleaker and more like a bomb crater.

“I was wondering when you would notice. This, Peri, is Earth. America to be exact, just a few years into your own personal history.”

“Neat, maybe now you’ll agree that there’s nothing wrong with my country?” Don’t get your hopes up a small voice at the back of her head piped up. She told it to be quiet.

“I wouldn’t be too hasty, there are some quite disturbing readings coming from this vicinity.”

“What kind of readings?” Hopefully it wouldn’t be anything serious and she could get some serious shopping done at a proper mall.

“Very high radiation readings but they’re very intermittent. I’d call them sporadic but that wouldn’t be quite right. Radiation is nothing if not persistent.”

“A lot like you at times Doctor.”

“Radiation is lethal; I like to think that my enemies have a chance before I foil their plans for universal domination.”

“Like your cooking then, that’s a persistent phenomenon that has a lethal effect on people given a sustained dosage.”

“Are you trying to annoy me or is there a reason for the sudden petulance?”

“It’s just, well I’m back in the States. I guess you could call it homesickness of a sort.” The nostalgia of being back in her own country made her feel centred somehow but she had seen so much and Earth seemed so small in her imagination now. Perhaps travel really does broaden the mind?

“You want to leave me is that it?”

“No, I think travelling with you is the best decision I ever made.” Life with the Doctor was far better than hours of study and writing up field notes, but she wasn’t about to stoke his ego more than necessary.

“So, shall we have a look around then? Investigate? See if there are any nefarious plans than need halting?”

She liked the way his blonde curly hair waved in the wind. Pity it was the only thing she really liked about this version. “I guess a quick look around would be fun.” Talking his arm they began to explore the local area. It came as a relief when gun-wielding soldiers surrounded them a few minutes later.

 

 

The President strode out to the small lectern and gripped it firmly. He had seen what could be achieved now if he could only spread the message. “My fellow Americans today is a great day in our country’s history. I have proposed a series of reform packages to the senate outlining plans for the future of our great nation. America will be the forerunner in the latest astronomical ventures. Today our view of how we see ourselves must be expanded. No longer will we be the only life-bearing planet in the universe. We intend to set up a permanent colony on the planet Mars, a colony where the ideals of peace and democracy will flourish. I have the Vision Thing, I do, I do. Starting tomorrow NASA will develop everything our brave new citizens will need to live on their new world. I hope that history will record today as the start of the age when humanity took their first tentative steps into a new future. Thank you, any questions?” He smiled when he saw how the looks of shock and amazement on their faces. All was going to plan.

 

 

Colonel Retsam walked around the many corridors of the base. The plan was going perfectly, that old fool of a President was doing everything he was told to do. He actually believed it all too which was even better. It would reduce the chances of the conditioning deteriorating. He pulled the small pendant out of his pocket and stared at it. The Eye of Horus it was called. Such conceit but his people were no better, too sanctimonious for their own good. It would be a pleasure to sweep them aside and set up something greater, something answerable only to him.

 

 

Things could be worse she mused. She had been treated fairly well despite the initial bad reception. The Doctor was still being debriefed. They had asked her if she was someone called Romana but once they found out she wasn’t she had been more or less ignored. Maybe she should feel insulted, but for now all she wanted to do was eat a proper burger. “Hey, room service. I’m hungry here.” No response. Oh well Peri, looks like you’ll just have to escape. There, a plan. And he says I lack his intellect. Wait until he sees it’s me rescuing him. Footsteps? Someone coming! Perhaps if I jump them from behind? I need something heavy, something made of metal. No, nothing usable. Perhaps if I try just asking? It’s worth a try.

The door opened and a large female MP entered. She threw a bundle of green clothes at Peri. “Get dressed Ma’am. Briefing is in ten minutes.” The MP shut the door as she left, to give Peri some privacy.

The outfit was quite a good fit; it seemed to be some sort of uniform. There were no insignia that she could recognise but the left arm had a stylised eye symbol on it. Possibly Egyptian? Why didn’t she listen to her mother and study archaeology? Because she wanted to do her own thing and plants were a lot less icky than dead bodies. She knocked once on the door. “I’m err...ready.”

The MP looked Peri up and down. “Follow me please Ma’am.”

Peri followed the woman.

 

 

The Doctor relaxed in the comfy leather chair. “Well, the Osiran people are largely extinct. They flourished a long time ago. They were in decline when Rassilon himself came to power. We never really had any interaction. We exchanged an ambassador, that’s about all. It was all certainly before my time. Certainly I’ve only had dealings with Sutekh and Nepthys. Their culture is evident on a number of worlds, Earth in particular.”

“Sutekh? The Destroyer?” General Flood put his glasses back on and started to leaf through a few old mouldy books. Sutekh, Sutekh, Sutekh. Ah here we are. Imprisoned by Horus and the other gods for crimes against all life. Rendered immobile and powerless he was sealed inside his tomb for all eternity... Are you telling us you killed an Osiran by yourself?”

“Well my friend Sarah helped, but yes. I trapped him inside a time corridor and he died before he could reach the other end.”

“No way he could escape?”

“If he did then all life would have been destroyed, you seem quite alive to me General Flood.”

“There’s no reference to a Nepthys in any of these books Doctor Smith.”

“She was Sutekh’s partner. She was a really nasty piece of work. She tried to posses my friend Nyssa to recombine her memory with her soul. Fortunately things turned out differently.”

“What about Horus? The king of gods, defeated by Ra.”

“Well as you just said he was defeated. He is quite definitely dead and so is the cult that tried to resurrect him. Are all these questions leading somewhere General?”

“Yes Doctor Smith, we have disturbing information.” The general was cut off by a bleeping sound. “Bring in Miss Brown please.”

The doors opened and Peri entered. “Doctor, why am I wearing this outfit and what’s going on?” She saw the room was full of U.S.A.F. personnel. In other circumstances she might like the cheery blue colour of the uniforms.

“That’s what we’re about to find out Peri.”

“Now that you’re both here it will save me repeating myself later on. We have disturbing information that the President has fallen under the influence of one Colonel Retsam, a liaison officer from the R.A.F. to the Pentagon. We believe he has somehow managed to secure funding for a manned colony to Mars. We suspect that his interest is not for the benefit of America or indeed the United Kingdom. It is my belief that he intends to find and use Osiran technology for his own ends.”

“Typically arrogant of him don’t you think?”

“Of who Doctor?” What could the Doctor see that she couldn’t in this information?

“It’s obvious Peri. Retsam is Master backwards.”

Oh, so obvious. Why hadn’t she realised? “Why doesn’t he just use his TARDIS to travel there and take what he wants?” The Master had shown great distaste in cooperation with the Rani, so why the change of heart now?

“The Osirans were experts at booby trapping their tombs. Although the Great Pyramid of Mars and its ancillary buildings were destroyed, there are many smaller pyramids left untouched by anyone. Especially the Natives.”

“Natives Doctor?”

“Oh another story for another time. Nothing to concern us at the moment.”

The General stood up and walked over to Peri. “We took these pictures using Hubble Miss Brown.”

They were clearly pyramids, but five sided not like the four sided ones she had seen on TV. “That still doesn’t explain why he just doesn’t go there himself.”

“The Master is willing to sacrifice the whole colony to disarm each and every trap to make it safe for him to enter Peri. You should read the file UNIT has on him.”

The sheer evilness of the Master’s plan became apparent. “That’s horrible.” It reminded her of that Harrison Ford movie and she gulped. The really bad bit was coming up however; she could just feel it.

“Doctor, we would like you and Miss Brown to join the first batch of colonists. Part of the training is being given by Colonel Retsam and we hope you can stop him before that mission launches.”

Yep, that was the bad bit all right. Another chance to be threatened by him was not something to look forward to at all. “When do you want us to start?”

“As soon as possible. Doctor your UNIT clearance has been updated. Brigadier Bambera informs me that you are the perfect choice for this mission. I have a request here for a chunk of Martian rock to go in the trophy cabinet.”

Would they have need of a botanist on Mars? “What about me? I’ve seen more alien plants than anyone here, apart from the Doctor obviously.” Hopefully they wouldn’t give her anything too difficult to do.

General Flood smiled. “Miss Brown, consider yourself drafted by the USAF.

 

 

The Osirans?  They are as fungus to us.  Solaria probed deeper.  So many deaths Doctor, how many people died on that mission?  Twenty?  Thirty?

 

 

The Doctor awoke with a start.  She remembered holding Peri in her arms; they’d both seen too many deaths that day.  Peri had buried her face in her garishly coloured coat had she’d held her as she cried her eyes out.  The Doctor had simply accepted the loss, unable to do anything about it.  Now she thought that if necessary she’d be willing to sacrifice those lives if necessary.  It was not a comforting thought; it simply was what it was.  It was who she was, unable to take life directly she used others, manipulated them like puppets and events too.  The means to the end were as vital as the end result itself.  Overhead Solaria circled in an unnatural orbit, rotating above the Doctor’s position without scant regard for the forces of cause and effect.  The Doctor kept on walking, in a purely random direction.

Let’s see how many deaths you can endure.  Solaria said to the lady of time.  How many times can I make you die?  Before I get tired of this game.

The Doctor felt weak, so very weak.  She was worn out.  She needed to rest.  She wanted to lie down, give up.  She couldn’t go any further.  She lay down on the sand, unable to move, she fought for breath, each and every moment.  She felt her hearts spasm in her chest, misbeating, the rhythm slowed down, she was too tired to breath.  Her hearts stopped and she was still.  The last few moments of life as her brain used up the last of the oxygen in her brain.  Her vision grew greyer around the edges.  It grew dark, so very dark.  She felt cold, no warmth, no heat even though the sun was up.  She was at the very edge of death, she felt herself surrendering to the approaching oblivion.  Something tore her away from paradise.

Solaria laughed insanely.  One death is just not enough.

It seemed like a moment but the Doctor knew it must have been hours before she was strong enough to move again.  She’d felt herself die, but the contours of her face were still the same.  She was still female, she hadn’t regenerated.  Had it all been a dream?  She needed to urinate.  That proved she was still alive.  She lifted the hem of her dress up, tugged her knickers down to her knees and squatted over the sand to relieve her full bladder on the cooling desert floor.  She used the hem of her dress to wipe herself with, then hoisted her knickers back up to her hips and let her dress fall back down to around her knees.  She kicked dry sand over the wetted sand, to cover up what she had done.  Then she began walking again.

Solaria decided to make the next death more interesting.  Let’s see how you like this gift.

The Doctor felt like a huge fist had lifted her up in the air.  Slowly she began to spin around and around.  Faster and faster she spun, until she was going at terrifying speeds.  Faster than the speed of sound.  Faster than the speed of light.  Faster than the speed of thought.  Her body began to bulge outwards as the pressure inside of her forced her outwards.  First her fingers were torn free, followed by her toes.  Her skin and breasts followed next, then her entrails, baby and all.  Then her arms and legs were torn free, followed by her head and finally her body exploded in a shower of blood and flesh.  The remains were scattered in a huge red circle of body parts and blood and the Doctor was still alive, but not for much longer.

Solaria blinked.

The Doctor let out a scream as she awoke.  She checked herself over; she was still in one piece.  However her skin was covered in huge sores.  Clump by clump her hair began to fall out.  Her skin grew redder and more painful to just touch it.  Her fingernails fell out, then her teeth.  Her blood burst through her damaged pores.  She couldn’t stand, her legs were too weak.  Then her body began to liquefy.  Her insides became a living chemical soup and it poured out of the holes in her leathery hide.  She could do nothing as her bones went next, then her brain leaked out of her ears, leaving behind a mound of radioactive ooze.

Solaria started to slowly remake the Doctor in her image.

The Doctor was screaming in pain before she had even awakened.  She was lying on the ground.  She couldn’t sit up, couldn’t move her arms or legs.  They were all broken, as if she’d fallen from a great height.  The pain intensified as her broken ribs slowly but surely burrowed further and further into her hearts.  She could do nothing but lie there in pain as she bled to death internally.  For agonising hours she lay there before the mercy of death came to her and she was allowed to dream once more.

 

 

The TARDIS announced its arrival with its usual lethargic wheezing sound as it faded into the space-time continuum. This miracle of advance science was lost on the inhabitants of the field; they looked up for a second and then returned to nibbling at the recently watered grass.

The TARDIS may have resembled a nineteen sixties blue police telephone box but this was a disguise to hide its true nature; it was a time machine. It’s two occupants stepped out of their craft and took in the fresh country air.

“Hey Doctor, now this really reminds me of home.” Ray took in a second lungful. “Where are we anyway?”

Surrey according to the TARDIS readings. There’s something not quite right though. A slightly altered taste to the Earth’s biosphere.” Pulling on his dark blue jacket the Doctor started to walk towards the nearby gate.

“Are we having a quick look around Doctor?” Ray chased after the Doctor. For a short guy he could move very fast sometimes.

 

 

Harnsting was a small market town, full of its regular traders displaying their produce on the same patch week in week out. Sometimes the occasional tourists would happen upon it and they were welcomed as though they were long lost family. Today however everyone could feel a darkness in the atmosphere, as if a terrible storm was going to come and destroy everything. However it was a warm summer morning and everyone just dismissed the feeling out of hand. Sometimes it pays to listen to your instincts.

 

 

They walk took them along a barely marked track that slowly led down out of the chalky hills to a natural basin and the village of Harnsting.

“I wish I’d brought my petrol can, I could have bought some petrol for my bike Doctor.” Ray took her leather jacket off and slung it over her shoulder. It was going to be a really warm day. How better to spend it than cruising around on her bike?

“I have offered to convert the engine to a more eco-friendly version.”

“It’s a classic bike Doctor, totally authentic parts. It would be a crime to let anyone meddle with the Norton.” Ray’s bike was her most important possession. True it wasn’t the fastest thing but it was her only link with Billy.

“Hmmm bacon and egg for breakfast or sausage and beans?” The menu didn’t look too appetising but at least they promised something hopefully resembling food. They went inside to investigate further.

“Ah morning, bit early for your sort.”

“Our sort?” The Doctor purred softly.

“Tourists, you and your good lady. Generally don’t see any of you till around lunchtime. “Camping is it? The countryside is lovely this time of year. You should go and see the white horse, it’s where everyone goes.”

“We just arrived here not long ago.” Ray confirmed. “And we’re not married.”

“Ah well far be it from me to pass judgement on how others behave, but when I was your age I’d have him down the aisle faster that you could say honeymoon. Call me Aveline love.”

“Ok, I’ll have sausage and beans and a cup of tea. Doctor?”

“Just a cup of tea for me please.”

Ray tucked into her breakfast and quickly demolished it. “I haven’t had anything this good for ages Doctor.”

“Yes the tea is nice isn’t it?”

“I meant the food. Real food. None of your nutrition bar nonsense. Taste, texture and smell.”

“The kitchen just needs a few repairs Ray. It’s on my list, right after a visit to Poland.”

“I’m not setting another foot in that kitchen. The last time I did it tried to kill me.”

“You were repairing a puncture in the sink. The auto-hygiene system broke down.”

“I know,” she laughed, “it tried to put me in the spin dryer.”

 

 

They resumed their wandering after their meal. The Doctor had baffled Aveline by making all the cash register contents transfer into a cutlery drawer. They spotted the white horse in the middle distance and set off to have a closer view.

As they approached the chalk cut figure they saw a young woman running towards them, tears streaming down her face. She saw the Doctor and started to go into shock. Ray tried to comfort her but nothing seemed to work. Finally she was forced to slap her gently to snap her out of it.

“How what seems to be the problem?”

“Now listen valley girl,” Ace got angry. Who was she and how did she get with the Professor? “What have you done to him?”

“I’m sorry do we know you?” The Doctor asked politely.

“It’s me, Ace, Professor. Don’t you recognise me or something?”

“I’ve never met you before in my life until now. I’m the Doctor and this is my friend Ray.”

“I know who you are Professor, Doctor. I travel with you in the TARDIS.”

“How does she know of the TARDIS Doctor?”

“I don’t know but I have a few ideas. I think you should take me to where you last saw me, Ace is it?”

Ace led the Doctor and Ray to where she had left the Doctor. She stopped in her tracks when she saw he was still where she had left him. “How can there be two of you?”

The Doctor examined the identical looking version of himself. “Are you me in the future Doctor?” He asked.

“Possibly Doctor, but it doesn’t feel that way.”

“I agree, I thought there was something wrong when I arrived here with Ray. I must have landed in a parallel reality.”

“Doctor, you must leave at once. You know what can happen if the hole in the fabric of time is left open too long.”

“I can’t leave Doctor, not until you’re healed. What did this to you anyway?”

“It was fast, it stabbed me with something. Punctured my left heart but the damage is almost healed.”

“I’m Ray.” Ray introduced herself.

“Dorothy, but everyone calls me Ace.” Ace shook Ray’s hand. “So how long have you known him then?”

“Couple of years now, ever since he saved us from the Bannermen. Mel’s leaving hit him hard and then when he pushed Gavrok into that sonic gadget it really got to him. I used up all my best jokes trying to cheer him up.”

“Oh, so Mel left before she met me in your reality. She left the Doctor, after meeting me, to go travelling with Glitz in my reality. Mel convinced the Doctor to let me travel with him.”

The Doctor helped the Doctor to stand up. “I should be on my way, can’t let all the Pernicious Snids and Bandy toed Haximaxis slip into existence. They really don’t like that do they?”

“No, well it was nice meeting me Doctor I hoped you liked my reality and maybe you should turn around there seems to be a large group of Kraags just behind Ace and your friend Ray.”

The Doctor turned around to see the large lumbering dark gold creatures advancing towards their group.

 

 

This is a false memory.  Solaria fumed.  You try to feed me false memories?  I will consume your past whether you like it or not.  You cannot invent phantom past lives to fool me.

 

 

The Cybermen moved in to secure their objective. Their scanners reported two identical versions of the Doctor. This of course was quite illogical and so they ignored it. If they still retained their emotions then it would have been a shock when they found themselves attacked by an enemy that didn’t exist. Unable to trust what they saw, the Cybermen followed the logical path - they retreated.

You had to admire him in many ways Ray though, for a small man he was someone you didn’t want to make an enemy of. “What I don’t understand is how they managed to overcome their little gold allergy Doctor.” Ray managed to create a temporary bandage for the other Doctor from her Doctor’s silk scarf.

“I’m not sure Ray. They are very good at adapting to overcome obstacles; I guess they just evolved their diodes or something.”

“So now what? We can’t leave the Professor here.” Ace said.

“No, I think we should get away from here as fast as possible. Two alien attacks is not a coincidence.”

The walk back to the village was slow but it was a warm, pleasant day and they weren’t attacked by anything more serious than midges.

 

 

Aveline did a classic double take when she saw the odd couple return, only this time they were accompanied by an identical version of the man along with another young woman. “Can I help at all?” She finally ventured.

“No,” the Doctor started “he’s not heavy. He’s my twin brother.”

Ace and Ray groaned inwardly at the terrible cliché.

“I can see that. You two even dress the same almost. Like two peas in a pod and no mistaking. Can I get you a nice pot of tea?”

“Yes please Aveline.” Ray got the full sugar bowl from the next table and plonked it down.

“A spoon full of sugar to stop the Doctor’s frown Ray?”

“That’s what you told me when I was still mooning over Billy, Doctor.”

 

 

“No, it’s all going wrong. Hurry up and send Poe you imbecile. If this all falls apart because of you then I’ll be really upset.”

“Yes Mast…sir.”

“Why am I surrounded by idiots? And why are you the worst of them Burgess?”

“Sorry Mast…sir.”

“How difficult can it be? We’ve done this before, stabilising a fictional scenario inside a real context is not beyond even your powers. It’s how we open the gateway remember. Once the gateway is open we can get them inside and then, then they’re mine. I will have my freedom Burgess, finally.”

“I’ll go and send Poe at once, Mast...sir.”

 

 

Hmm this was definitely the last cup, thought Ray, anymore and she’d be on the loo for a week. Things were very confusing but Ace was fast becoming a great friend. They had spent an hour embarrassing their respective Doctors, much to their delight. Now it seemed it was time to go their separate ways, they had their own universe to save after all. “Goodbye Ace, if we visit Ice World I promise to stop you pouring a perfectly good milkshake over the customer. I’ll suggest you use a slush puppy instead. Just you take good care of your Doctor, he needs us to look after him and keep him out of real trouble.” She turned as the door chime sounded and stared at a rather odd looking bloke. She gasped as he pulled out a strange piece of stone and fell to the floor when her legs buckled at the knees.

“How do you do. Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m Edgar Allen Poe and I’m here to kill you all.” As if a point needed to be made he casually reduced Ray and Ace’s Doctor to smoking ashes.

 

 

Not a phantom past.  A parallel past.  A meeting of divergent time streams.  You swapped places with your dead self.  Took his place with Ace at your side to replace your friend Ray.  His companion and his reality.  The Doctor died, you took his place.  The delicious irony, Fenric was the one who ordered your execution; his wolf was the one who pulled the trigger.

"I knew."  The Doctor glared up at Solaria.  “I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not!”

We shall see.  Solaria replied.  Is this your life?  Are you really the Doctor, or an impostor?  Are you wearing another woman’s dress?

The Doctor felt great pain in her legs.  They burned as if they were packed with barbed wire instead of muscle and bone.  She felt sick, worse than morning sickness.  This was really bad.  Her insides felt as if they were boiling.  She had constant muscle cramps in her arms and legs and period pain like her uterus had been run over by a Macc truck!  She lost the baby as her body aborted her pregnancy.  She hardly noticed however and her body started to burn up from the inside.  Her mind was woozy, her thoughts jumbled up and confused like she had a terrible fever.  She lay down on the floor and simply gave up.

Solaria watched as the Doctor surrendered to death once more.  Almost there, one more should break you to my will.  In the mean time, let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby and watch another treat.

 

 

Another day, if you could call it a day, inside the TARDIS. Time did not flow inside this ancient paradoxical contraption. Instead time stood still an endless recycling of the same moment romantically termed temporal grace. The most used part of this strange machine, which was used to travel through time and space, was the console room. It held a sort of vitality about it; here inside this six-sided chamber was the centre of activity. Here the control column rose and fell, like two giant blue chandeliers in a post watershed timeslot. On one wall there were thousands of clocks, each one a different design from the last and each set to tell the time on a different world. Another wall was a vast library holding millions of books from every world to have ever existed and quite a few that never would exist either. There was a slightly overused rocking chair and in it sat the owner of this strange and wonderful machine. He was known as the Doctor and although he might appear human to you, he comes from a far off world called Gallifrey with orange skies and silver trees. See his slightly peculiar style of clothing, an unstarched white shirt with the collar and cuffs unbuttoned and a green velvet waistcoat also unbuttoned. He taps his brown leather shoes to a tune only he can hear and it’s a mesmerising melody of quiet energy and complex harmony.

The Doctor put down the book he had just finished reading and he picked up a white and blue bone china cup. It contained the last few remains of a pot of tea and he drained the cup before sighing slightly as it slipped down his gullet and into his stomach. He stood up, eyes darting around the console room, eagerly searching for something else to target. Something else to satisfy his boundless curiosity, something to distract himself from all of this quiet serenity. He spies an old teddy bear with a loose seam and the stuffing starting to pour out of it. “We can’t leave you like this now can we?” He asks the bear. “We’ll soon have you as good as new Mr. Bear.”

A noise, low and rumbling, filled the console room, loose motes of dust from the high vaulted ceiling cascade down around the Doctor’s shoulders. “What is it old girl?” He asks himself before turning to look at the jammed blue crystals of the time rotor. He tried to walk toward the controls but his feet are held firm. He looks down at them but the floor seems to have covered his shoes. Slowly the floor rises and he quickly deduces that he is in fact sinking. He lets go of the toy bear and tries to struggle, to free himself. The cloister bell continues to chime as his hands are trapped in the glue like ripples of the floor. Soon his eyes are level with the bears and he takes a last frantic gasp of air before his head is sucked under the grey floor.

The TARDIS is still; the only occupant is an old teddy bear with a broken seam, with some of it’s stuffing lightly falling to the floor.

 

 

Tired hands clutched the data pad, loaded with the complete texts and abstractions on Planetary Geology. She was tired; pulling a triple shift was for rookies and idiots they all told her. She was a rookie but she wasn’t an idiot, she would need the extra pay once her contract was served. The corporation was grooming her for a top slot but first they threw her into the deep end to see how well she could cope.

Nquo Wright’s hand relaxed as sleep overcame her and she dreamed of a strange man with an annoyingly cute face.

 

 

Surface, rough, hard, dusty. The Doctor sits up quickly. “Where am I?” He spoke, for the most part to hear his own voice. He shrugs and shakes his head before turning around suddenly when someone replies to his question. “Who are you?” He asks.

“I am not a person as you understand the term.” The elderly man replies as he steadies the visitor on unsteady feet.

The Doctor studies the man more carefully, a squint in his beautiful blue eyes. “Unless I’ve hurt my head getting here, you’re a gestalt entity aren’t you?”

The Man nods then shakes his head. “Of a sort, but you’re still not thinking in the correct terms my friend.” The Man held his palm out. Floating above his outstretched palm span a blue and green globe. “This is what I was, until they all but destroyed me.” He closed his hand into a fist. “Now I am but a few million pieces of rubble and there’s no life for me to nourish anymore.”

The Doctor gasped. “You’re a planet!?” He shook his head in disbelief.

“I was living soul of an ostentatiously planet with pleasing vista, once upon a time.” The Man’s words were muted with sadness. “This rock you see me sitting on is a mere fragment of what I was. Here in this empty wasteland beyond time and space I sit alone, exiled from eternity. I called to you because I know that you may be the one to help them.”

“Me?” The Doctor asked. “How can I help a dead planet?”

“By stopping it from dying.” The Man replied. “They are still out there, those who destroyed me. One of my sisters is even now being threatened. You must save her Doctor, you must save them all.”

The Doctor flinched as white light coiled from the strange man’s eyes. “Return me to my TARDIS and I’ll travel there myself.” The Doctor started to protest but before he could finish his sentence he was elsewhere.

 

 

The blaring of the approach klaxon woke Nquo up. She splashed cold water onto her ebony face, she looked like hell in the mirror but they didn’t pay her to look pretty. They paid her to do her job. She pulled the baggy over suit on over her skin-tight body suit. They didn’t pay for showers here either. Once they landed on their next destination they would tap the water table to provide the necessary water for showers. Maybe the ripeness of her quarters would lessen for a few weeks until they were on their way to the next planet. She had another three years of this to look forward to; she didn’t want to think about it anymore.

They were going to let her land the ship, it was a big responsibility. All part of the corporation’s policy to take a raw cadet and turn them into useable officers suited for any and all tasks.

 

 

The gravity was less, much less. Less than half that of his favourite planet called Earth. With a single leap he jumped up twenty feet into the air. He laughed as a startled bird squawked with surprise at the sudden appearance of his head. Here the sky was a deep sea green and the yellow clouds drifted by like tiny wisps of cotton wool.

Back on the ground now, the verdant carpet of moss like vegetation was spongy underfoot. There were a few tree like plants, purple hued corkscrews of branches burst out in every direction due to the low attractive power of gravity. He had just popped a red jelly baby in his mouth when a large but light bundle of clothes and limbs flew straight into him, sending him sprawled out on the spongy ground.

 

 

“Watch where you’re going you clumsy idiot.” Rashok snarled at the oaf whom he had collided with.

The Doctor disentangled himself from a second life form. “Are you hurt?” He asked it with a slightly apologetic tone.

“Hey, you’ve got no wings.” The figure resolved himself into a bat-like figure, dressed in a simple green tabard that had slits in the side to keep his wing membranes unrestricted. The garment fastened around his ankles with small straps to preserve modesty against a sudden and revealing wind.

“I’m the Doctor.” The Doctor shook one of the large fingers of the wing. “I’m rather new to your world; it is very beautiful isn’t it?”

“I am Rashok, I am of the Assembly. What manner of creature are you?”

“I’m a wanderer.” The Doctor grinned and pulled out his bag of sweets. “Would you like one? They’re very bad for you, in a good sort of way.”

 

 

They passed through vineyards and orchards, past huge fields of crops and fallow fields. All about this simple life was a respect for the land they used and the Doctor was more than a little impressed. He bent down and plucked a small weed like flower. “I think I could spend a decade or three just looking at this daisy.” He showed it to Rashok. “Isn’t this the daisiest daisy you’ve ever seen?” He couldn’t help but grin at the simple display of beauty right in front of his eyes.

“Yes, it’s a very nice flower.” Rashok returned his view to the long road in front of them. “You should save your strength for the long walk ahead of us.”

“If the rest of the journey is filled with daisies only half as good as this on it will be the best time of my life. Lay on MacRashok, lay on.”

 

 

“Taking her in.” Nquo Wright dipped the control stick slightly. “Descent trajectory is a-ok.”

“Keep the ship steady Miss Wright.” Captain McGuire watched his small readout screen. “You’re doing fine; just keep your concentration steady. You can have time for emotion once you’ve landed and done all the requisite checks.”

“Yes Sir.” Nquo pulled back just a fraction. “Holding her steady sir.”

 

 

A shadow fell across the Doctor’s face and he looked up to see a large ugly space ship flying ominously overhead like a great black bird of death. There was another and another the sunlight was obscured by them and tiny points of light were all that could be seen of the bright sunny day.

 

 

“Remember to allow a minimum of fifteen thousand tonnes dead weight upon landing; we can punch straight down into that vein of Trilateral Ore.

“Yes sir.” Nquo answered. “One text book landing coming up, as requested sir.”

“Don’t get cocky yet Miss Wright. Nice and gentle.” He watched the approach; the angle of descent was perfect. “Dead weight due to velocity is falling off nicely, don’t lose it in the last few seconds, I don’t want to have to strip you of your bonus after you’ve done so well up to now.”

“No sir.”

 

 

The first ship landed, it hit the ground with a thunderous punch, throwing up many tonnes of dirt and rock in the process. Fragments of stone whizzed past their heads at lethal speed as the Doctor and Rashok huddled together on the track way for mutual protection. After a few seconds the hail of tiny projectiles ceased and the Doctor risked a glance. His eyes opened in disbelief when he saw a huge drill burying down into the planet’s crust. “It’s started already.” He muttered quietly to himself. “I’m too late…”

 

 

Solaria didn’t bother with the rest of that memory.  Death is your constant companion, Doctor.  It follows you everywhere you go.  Why not admit it?  You’re in love with Death.  That’s why you let yourself die so often.  How many ties have you really died?  Your people live forever, yet you burn through your lives like a shooting star.

The Doctor awakened from her nap, she sat up, feeling refreshed and serene.  She knew she had Solaria to thank for her return to good health.  Solaria was undefeatable, she knew this now, she could never win, didn’t want to either.  Not now.  Not now that she learned the truth.  Solaria was the way, the path to real power.  “I give in!”  The Doctor said suddenly.  “You win.  I cannot stop you, only serve your will.”

Solaria poured a piece of herself into the Doctor, transforming her into her new Grand Paladin.  Turning her into the leader of her armies.  You are my fist.

The Fist of Solaria smiled as she donned her gold painted armour.  This was her true destiny she thought.  This was what she was meant to be.  Not a wanderer or a meddler but a warrior queen.  She hefted her blade into the sky.  “Let all those who defy the will of Solaria burn in the fires of purification so that you can feast upon their souls.”

Solaria blinked and transported her fist through time and space to lead her horde into combat.  The endgame is upon us.  Serve me well my champion, for you shall be the instrument of my triumph.  You could never have hoped to defeat me.  Instead you serve me body and soul.  My new Grand Paladin of the Order of Solaria!

 

Like Death in the Discworld novels Solaria speaks without quotation marks.
 
Several flashback sequences are indicated with unbolded italics.  They feature the 4th, 6th, 7th & 8th Doctors.
 
The 7th Doctor originally travelled with Ray after Mel left to live in 1950's Earth in 'Delta and the Bannermen', having previously met Ace on Iceworld and left her with Glitz.  He was later killed and he was replaced by a parallel version of himself who had left Ray in Wales and later in 'Dragonfire' he met Ace on Iceworld.  And Fenric is responsible for the death of the Doctor, and as Fenric is later revealed in the NA's to be one of the great old ones it adds to the growing Lovecraftian homage.
 
Cthuga/Solaria is slowly eating the Doctor's past to remove her will, so that she will serve Solaria during the endgame.
 
The Doctor relives, in a way, her original first five deaths.  First she collapses and dies of old age, then she's flung apart, then dies of radiation poisoning, the all her bones are broken as if she'd fallen from a great height and finally she suffers a nightmarish bout of spectrox toxaemia.
 

- the home of the 14th Doctor -