The scroll sat there on the table where she’d left it, unread and untouched since being
put here. It had been three days since she’d put it down on the table. She couldn’t look at it, couldn’t bear to think what last message was
written on it. For three very long days she’d put this moment off, doing
the most menial task she could think of to get in the way of that moment. She’d
distracted herself from thinking about it, from obsessing about it, by distracting herself.
She’d cleaned her bedroom, all of it and not just a quick once over with the duster and the vacuum cleaner either. She’d re-ordered the books in the library, all 82,348,706 of them…twice. She’d even polished the console in the control room, as well as dusting it to
make sure that it was really, really clean. Then she’d made herself an
agreeable cup of coffee, and still the scroll sat there, unread. The last words
of the man she’d loved. His final message to her, the woman he loved above
all others, his wife, his widow. No, mustn’t think that. If she read the scroll then it really would be final, he would really be dead, she would really be alone
and she couldn’t bear the thought of that at all.
The finality of it all was too much to bear. Instead
she decided to do a spot of shopping. Buy a new outfit, some shoes, and a new
purse maybe. Then visit a library and just lose herself somewhere in a juicy
romance novel or a dust treatise on history she could correct with copious notes in the margins.
No more brooding inside of the TARDIS the Doctor told herself repeatedly as she drifted around
the various shops inside the Metro Centre. She casually flicked through the in
store catalogue in Argos, but the yellow sector held little interest.
Then she drifted down into the red sector through the Mediterranean village. The new extension, recently completed held a few promising shops and she devoured the sales prices like
a starving woman finding a kebab in her jacket pocket. She flitted through the
publisher’s outlet store, picking up a couple of romance books to add to her small collection. Danielle Steel was much underrated she thought as she walked into HMV.
She was never one for CD’s, or vinyl. Give her a good mix tape any
day. All her favourites in one go and no messing about. Then she popped into Next, it was quaint, in an eager to take your money sort of way. She bought a denim skirt for £20, for a friend and a figure hugging top for herself.
Then she wandered down into the green sector. She
gazed into the window of the jewellers, they had lots of pretty sparkly things and they were having a sale. However she made herself buy a single pair of earrings, but once inside she made herself promise not to
tell about the bracelet or the necklace. Then she found herself in M&S. She bought herself new shoes, because she needed them and another pair because they
would be lonely otherwise. Finally she bought herself a simple silk nightie,
she liked having something to wear in bed but she just wasn’t comfy in pyjamas as they tended to ride up and give her
a wedgie in the middle of the night.
Next she went through the roman village, pausing at the stocking shop to buy some fishnets,
for a Rocky Horror night. Then she was in the blue sector and she treated herself
to a new chick flick and blubbed all the way through it. No one noticed her dash
through the fire door or the see the strange flashing light or hear the loud wheezy groan.
Back in the TARDIS the Doctor collapsed on the sofa.
Fresh emotional pain was etched on her face as she released her hurt and anguish with a shrill scream of primal grief. There was only one way to cope with this. She
left the shopping bags where they’d fallen and she headed back to the kitchen to read Yin’s final message.
Li Na, my beloved wife,
These words are difficult and yet easy for me to write.
I love you with all of my heart, but in these last moments granted to me before the end, I see now that you are not
ready yet to settle down. You would of course settle none the less, because I
know that you too love me, but the life you would wish to lead is not that of boring matrimony. Not for you is a life of household chores and a position in the family business.
You need excitement, adventure and danger, your life makes you happy in a way that I know
life with me would not be. I know you would never say anything, but I’d
see it in your eyes every day. I could never ask you to sacrifice your own lifestyle
for mine and I must confess that as much as I enjoyed it, I knew that eventually I would wish to settle down and raise a family
We are two sides of a coin, you are the beautiful sovereign queen of time and space and I
am the loyal, supporting, shield of espousal strength and love. One that cannot
exist without the other, yet never be face to face either. One of us would have
to give up their dreams for the other and this I have done for you, my beloved.
My heart would rejoice to see you one last time, but it is already too late for me now to
go with you. I have been given a small measure of time, a gift if you will, so
that I might sit with my family and share one last meal with them. It’s
a simple thing for I am a simple man, I would dearly love to see your face one more time, to see your beauty and know that
you are well. Farewell my dearest wife, one day perhaps we shall be rejoined
forever in the home of the ancestors.
The Doctor put the letter down on the table. She
smiled. She cried. She laughed. She sighed. She had another cup of coffee
and then she removed her engagement and wedding rings and put them on a simple, plain, gold chain around her neck, keeping
them forever close to her hearts.
The TARDIS sluggishly materialised on the dusty surface of the planet Ma’rhud Beta. It was a former agricultural world of little distinction, but now the fields were
full of rotting crops and the bones of dead animals, picked clean of their flesh by scavengers. The stench of death hung heavy in the air, an intimate obscenity that the Doctor associated with the Solar
The shrieking hiss of laser bolts jolted her out of her saddened mindset and she saw a figure
running towards her. The figure must only have been eighteen or nineteen, she
couldn’t tell what sex they were because they were covered in matted grime and wore filthy rags that hid most of their
“Save me!” Erin pleaded
with the strangely dressed woman to stop the men following her from trying to kill her.
The Doctor thought the voice sounded more feminine that masculine so she thought of the unwashed
bundle of humanity as a young woman. “Come with me.” She grabbed her hand and ran into the nearby field of dead animals.
“The scent of these things will hide us, do they have tracking dogs?”
“No, they don’t need them.” Erin showed
the woman the locator beacon on her ankle.
“We’ll soon sort that out.” The
Doctor used her sonic screwdriver to turn the locator signal off. “There
we go. I’ve overloaded the circuitry.”
“They will kill you if they find you.”
Erin said sadly.
“I don’t doubt it.” The Doctor
replied. “I’m their public enemy number one.”
“My name is Erin, Erin Vale.”
“Hello Erin, I’m the Doctor.”
“Don’t you have a real name?”
“What’s wrong with Doctor?”
“Nothing, I guess.”
“I…I gave up on names a long time ago Erin. I
prefer Doctor. It’s easy to say and easy to remember.”
a giggle. “I like you.”
“Well I like me too. And I like you Erin. How many Solar Knights are on this planet?”
“I don’t know. There’s so many
“That many?” The Doctor tapped the
side of her jaw as she thought. “Are there any more of your people about? Anyone who’d stand up and be counted in a fight?”
“Sure, all the men folk talk about is fighting back, but they’re scared. Most of the women are held captive you see.
They did terrible things to them. I escaped before they could do the same
The Doctor sighed. “I know what they did
to them.” She put her hand on Erin’s shoulder. “They’ll be dead by now. I’m so sorry. Did you have…family?”
“My mother, three aunts and two cousins. My
father and brothers were beaten and shot when they tried to rescue us as they took us away.
In the confusion I escaped and have been running since.”
“You’re an orphan.” The Doctor
said sadly. “No family, no roots, only yourself to look after and take
care of. You’re amazing Erin.”
The Doctor cautiously peeked over the top of the pile of dead animal bodies.
“I think those guys chasing you have gone now.” She looked
at Erin. “We should leave this world, what’s about to happen, I can’t
stop. I wish I could but I’m too late.
This planet is lost, I cannot save it. I wish I could Erin, I truly
wish I could.”
“What do you mean?” Erin asked.
“Monsters.” The Doctor replied. “Terrible monsters, from beyond terror.
Those Solar Knights are infected with the seed of Cthuga. They will bring
only misery and pain to this world.”
Rebecca Vale screamed in pain as the horror without a name burst forth from her womb. Her screams became a shrill shriek as she saw it fully. The unspeakable monster was a tight ball of flesh, covered in a hundred tentacles all over its body. It opened a small mouth to impossible size and began to feast upon her helpless, limbless,
body. All round her the others screamed in horror and madness as their demon
babies consumed them, bite by bite. Rebecca’s last thought was that her
youngest child, her only daughter had escaped and so didn’t have to endure this horror, then the thing that should not
be bit into her face and her screams were silenced for ever.
as she looked inside the strange room. “This is impossible, how can it
be bigger on the inside?”
“Magic.” The Doctor replied.
“I’m not a child.” Erin replied.
“Dimensional transcendental mechanics.”
The Doctor replied, straight-faced.
“Magic it is then.” Erin laughed.
The Doctor laughed too. “Advanced technology
is indistinguishable with magic.” She clapped her hands together and a
‘Welcome Erin’ sign appeared between the palms of her hands as she separated them.
“See what I mean?”
“So, you’re a magician then?” Erin asked.
“Well I don’t pull rabbits out of a hat.”
The Doctor replied. “I’m not a hat sort of person. I am…a wanderer. An adventuress. Also a troublemaker, galactic nuisance and a lady of travel. I
have no idea what that means, but it sounds good, don’t you think?”
“Don’t you have a home?”
“This is my home. The TARDIS is many things
to me. Home, companion, friend, confessor and security blanket. Right now though, it’s the means of ending the world as you knew it.”
“What do you mean?” Erin asked.
The Doctor pressed a few buttons and the planet’s surface appeared on the screen. “I would like you to show me exactly where your mother and family were taken. I need to be as accurate as possible.”
to the place on the map and it zoomed in. She could see the city now. She pointed again and it zoomed in so she could see buildings. Then
she saw the circular building that they tried to drag her inside of. “That’s
“Look at this.” The Doctor activated
the screen to display the number of people still alive on the planet.” 5,134
it read and the number quickly dropped. 2581.
1009. 492. 86. 0. “All your people are gone Erin. I’m so very sorry.”
“They can’t be all dead.” Erin gasped.
“All dead.” The Doctor muttered. “Genocide and worse, not only have they committed the most appalling crimes
imaginable, but they also have a time ship. I cannot allow them to have access
to time travel any longer. The Doctor pressed another button and the map vanished,
replaced by the planet in orbit. “I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” She pressed the launch button. “I’m
as a huge burst of brilliant white light filled the screen. “What was that?”
“The ultimate weapon of mass destruction.”
The Doctor replied. “A fragment of anti-time.” The light died down and revealed an empty screen. “It
was the only way. I’m so sorry.”
“What did you just do?” Erin gasped. “Tell me, you didn’t just destroy my world.”
“I had to, I had to.” The Doctor
ran out of the control room.
Erin followed. “You destroyed a planet, just like that?
What kind of monster are you?”
“I’m the thing that the monsters are afraid of.” The Doctor cried out. “I am the bitch with two hearts,
both of them dead inside my hollow tin chest. I am the Doctor; sometimes I need
a scalpel to save a single life and sometimes a weapon of mass destruction to save the rest of the universe from infection.”
the Doctor inside what appeared to be a coffee bar. “These corridors go
The Doctor put her mug down. “You shouldn’t
go wandering off Erin. The TARDIS must like you though, to bring
you here to me.”
“This ship is alive?”
“Everything’s alive, in it’s own way.”
“Why did you destroy my world?”
“There was no other way. If there was I
would have taken it. What they did to your mother and all the women they mutilated
was beyond evil. They used them to bring forth terrible beings of obscene power
and appetite. They would have consumed all life on your world, imagine it, every
living being devoured within a few days. I couldn’t save them, I could
only save you.”
“Why me? I’m no one special.”
“Everyone is special, in their own way. You’re
special because you escaped from a terrible, terrible fate. You have tenacity
and a whole lot of luck. I don’t think it was chance that we met, the universe
has a way of arranging these things, and it’s the one thing I do not yet fully understand about it. Perhaps don’t want to understand. I know just enough
to get by with and that’s enough for me. The rest I make up as I go along,
World after world was saved or cleansed. They
had no concept of temporal warfare and their time ships were easily destroyed. Some
worlds were liberated, to much celebration and rejoicing. Other worlds had succumbed
to the darkness and were nothing but charnel houses with the population dead or dying.
On one world the Doctor sparred with Knight Abraxus on a cliff top, she was unarmed but was
easily ducking and dodging his clumsy sword swipes. Then he over-reached himself
and he overbalanced himself and the Doctor gave him a final nudge to seal his fate making him plunge over the edge of the
cliff to a terminal fate seven hundred feet below. It was a necessary thing,
death, and all the sadder when it came too soon for too many. How many lives
had she saved by the death of one monster?
On another world she cradled the dying children, victims of a terrible massacre. She comforted them in their final moments and gently laid them to rest in a place of serenity, before finding
their killers and letting loose the horde of angry relatives and wrathful strangers alike upon the slayers of infants.
Never once did she take up arms, it was not her way.
Instead she manipulated events and gave cause to those who had lost everything.
Armies rose and fell on her command, millions died, to save the lives of untold trillions.
Here and there she saved a smattering of lives on worlds that would otherwise be rent of all
life. A ragged handful of traumatised survivors here and there were taken to
Space City 2, where they were given refugee comfort and sent on to new homes on other planets.
All this and more she made happen, a cleansing action to rid the cosmos of an unwanted infection. Too many worlds still perished with a cascade of atomic fall out or worse fragments
of anti-time. Too many sacrifices were made for this ever to be called a just
war. Too many lives had been lost to the crawling chaos for this to be termed
anything other than a pyrrhic victory. Some worlds would be able to rebuild their
civilisations, others would fall, only to rise again and others would tear themselves apart by civil war and some would never
have the chance as they were turned to dead ashes silently orbiting in space, all futures denied to them because all but one
had been robbed of them and that future was eradicated out of necessity.
It was a long and difficult path to mop up their secret bases, but finally the threat of the
Solar Knights was finally expunged, on all but one world. A world the Doctor
had visited before. The world on which their child had been conceived. This was not going to be a pleasant trip at all. At least
she wouldn’t be alone.
Planet Homer had suffered terribly since the second invasion by the Solar Knights. The Doctor and Erin found a ruined city and a slaughtered populace.
“This was once a world of beauty and light.” The Doctor said
softly. “I’ve been here twice before.
I suggested the rename the planet Homer during my first visit, so many years ago.”
“It looks like my room.” Erin winced. “I’ll get around to cleaning it sometime, I promise.”
“That’s ok. A room is a reflection
of its occupant. I’d be more worried if you were a neatness freak.”
“Like me.” The Doctor chuckled. “Except on Wednesdays.”
“S’mores night.” Erin giggled.
“Exactly.” The Doctor replied. “I fear that we’re too late to save this world.” There was movement, all around. Solar Knights! “When I say run, run.”
“Stay where you are!” A voice called
“Run!” The Doctor shouted.
back towards the TARDIS. She felt the key in her pocket and she was ready to
unlock the door and dash inside. She looked around but there was no sign of the
The Doctor was swearing profusely as she cradled her ankle.
“Who the frak put that frakking brick there?” She looked up
as Solar Knights advanced towards her. “How do you do? I’m the Doctor.”
“Doctor?” A man stepped forwards. “Dr. Chung Li Na?”
“It’s just Doctor, now.”
“You saved my mother, from the camp, years ago.”
Ferrdil said with a smile.
“I did?” The Doctor wondered.
Ferrdil took out a picture from his pocket. It
was a charcoal sketch of the woman he was looking at. “She said she owed
you her life.”
“Not a bad likeness.” The Doctor
replied. “I thought you were Solar Knights.”
“We are.” Ferrdil said proudly. “We took their armour and their name.
We pledge to be good and honourable and stand up for truth and justice.”
“So did they, once. Before Cthuga perverted
their beliefs. Maybe this time the Knights of Solaria will become a name associated
with honour and virtue.” The Doctor hobbled to her feet. “Now if one of you would be kind enough to help a poor hurt woman back to her ship?”
surprised when the Doctor returned, escorted by a Solar Knight. “What’s
he doing here?”
“He’s Sir Ferrdil, he’s just a friend.
His people disposed the real Solar Knights. They’ve decided to replace
them, with honour and virtue.”
heart leapt when the young man removed his helmet. “Hi, I’m Erin.”
“Kiss him.” The Doctor whispered
“He’s not my type.” Erin replied. “Close but still so far.” She
curtsied to Ferrdil. “Thank you for saving my friend.”
“Just doing my job, ma’am.” Ferrdil
bowed, as much as the heavy armour would allow him.
“Why didn’t you go with him?” The
Doctor asked Erin. “He was nice, I think he fancied you.”
“I was tempted.” Erin replied. “But there’s just one problem.”
“What’s that?” The Doctor asked.
“I’m just not ready to settle down and get married to a guy yet.” Erin took a sip of her coffee. “I’d
like to do the whole single gal thing for a while longer.”
“So you’d rather stay her, with me?”
The Doctor said slowly.
“If you’ll have me.” Erin replied.
“Well, there’s a lot of work to do. There
is always a lot of walking about involved, lots of daring-do and of course being menaced by maniacs and psychopaths. Then there’s the bad days, when it seems like the whole universe is conspiring
against you. Days when you just want to curl up and never venture outside again. This isn’t a simple traipse from one shopping trip to another.”
“I know that.” Erin replied. “I saw you destroy my world, remember?”
“I know. I just want you to know what you’re
letting yourself in for.”
“The adventure of a lifetime.” Erin smiled.
“Exactly.” The Doctor nodded. “Now, let’s see what’s out there waiting for us.”
The TARDIS continued its way through time and space. At its helm its mysterious owner, a lady
of secrets who never talked about her past. At her side her new, young, companion
who looked upon the universe with wonderment.