In 2001 I started a piece of fan fiction based on Doctor Who. Originally called Doctor Who: 3a it became over the years Doctor Who: The Legacy and moved from simple fan penned short stories to a full on going series of professional-level novellas (an obvious growth as many of those involved in the series became involved in professional publishing). It ended in 2006, and has resisted many attempts at a relaunch. This year I was intending to self-publish the entire series, with all profits going to a charity, however things got busy in my professional writing and once again The Legacy was put on hold. However, for this reprint I was taking the opportunity to fix some mistakes made in the initial run, including almost rewriting from scratch the earliest tales penned by me. What follows is, therefore, the 2009 version of the original story that opened The Legacy in 2001…
Historian’s note; this story takes place directly after the 1989 adventure ‘Survival’, and during the 1970 adventure ‘Spearhead from Space’.
If there was one thing Ace hated, it was Sundays in Perivale; boredom city! She hated it even more when the Doctor sodded off and left on her own with no access to the TARDIS. The police box shaped time machine stood on the corner of the street behind her, while she sat on the curb, her legs safely stretched out on the road, crossed at the ankles. Safely, because there was little traffic passing through the streets of Perivale on a Sunday; in fact, there was little of anything.
It seemed, when she and the Doctor had left Horsenden Hill arm in arm, that they were going to be leaving Perivale straight away, off on their travels through time and space. The Doctor had even suggested they go to Ancient Mesopotamia, an idea that made Ace laugh. She vaguely remembered learning something about it in junior school, but it hadn’t impressed on her any desire to visit there. As for the Doctor, he had never really shown much of an interest for delving into history before, unless it was Ace’s history, of course, then it was almost impossible to stop him from sticking his nose in.
There was too much history for her in this suburb as far as she was concerned. She had thought it’d be fun to catch up with her old mates, but things hadn’t quite worked out that way, what with the Cheetah Planet working its way into her system, bringing out her baser instincts, not to forget, of course, the Doctor almost being killed by another Time Lord, calling himself the Master. Yet another nutter that the Doctor knew. Still, things had worked out okay… for most of them.
Midge was a gonner. She had always fancied him back in the day, and she felt an ache in her heart knowing she’d never see him again. But at least the others were okay, even that twat Patterson. Personally she was looking forward to leaving Perivale, leave all the crap behind. Once again.
How many times did she need to leg it from this place before she learned not to come back? Just walking the streets on the way back to the TARDIS, now the trouble had gone, was enough to bring back unwanted memories. Manisha, the fire… Nah, she didn’t want to go through that again. And then there was her mother. Probably still in the same old flat. When Patterson had told Ace that her mum had listed her as a missing person, Ace had momentarily considered that perhaps the old cow actually cared after all. But that feeling didn’t last; it was more likely Audrey McShane was just looking to cause more trouble for ‘Dotty’.
‘Don’t you get bored just sitting there?’ a voice asked her from behind.
Recognising the Doctor’s voice, Ace jumped to her feet and span around. He was leaning against the TARDIS, one hand resting on the red handle of his umbrella, the other patting the TARDIS affectionately. ‘Bored ain’t the word, Professor,’ she said. ‘Where’d you go?’
The Doctor frowned and started fishing in the pockets of his dark jacket. ‘Unfinished business. When I returned from the planet I came here,’ he said, nodding at the TARDIS, ‘so it follows that the Master must have gone to his own ship.’
‘If he escaped, you mean. I touched his mind; he was pretty far gone.’
‘Hmm,’ was the only reply to that. With a flourish the Doctor pulled the TARDIS key out of his pocket and inserted it into the lock of the police box door. He pushed the door open and allowed Ace to enter first. ‘Never underestimate him, Ace; he’s as cunning as he is mad. I’ve never quite understood why,’ the Doctor added, crossing from the double doors to the hat stand that stood in one corner of the console room.
‘Yeah, right! Like you know nothing about cunning,’ Ace pointed out with a laugh, glad to be back in the safety of the TARDIS. Although Perivale stood just beyond the dimensional threshold of the TARDIS, it was still far enough away to not play on her mind any more. She looked around the brightly lit control room, at the comforting roundels of the walls, and the hexagonal console in the centre of the room. This was her home. Always would be.
The Doctor let out a playful growl. ‘I was talking about his madness.’
‘Oh. But what is it you said about all interesting people being mad in some way or another?’
‘Yes, I did say that, didn’t I?’
The Doctor nodded. ‘Which proves my point. In spite of all he’s done, the Master is certainly interesting.’
‘Suppose that’s one way of looking at it, if you’re off your head.’
The Doctor grinned. ‘Quite.’
‘Where to now then?’ Ace asked, once the Doctor had closed the doors and set the TARDIS in motion.
For a moment the Doctor didn’t look at her, he simply regarded the closed shutters covering the scanner screen. ‘Remember what I said to you, about you always being part of the Cheetah Planet; it lives on inside you?’
‘Well, it also lives on in the Master. And he was much further gone than you. We need to find him, stop him once and for all.’ The Doctor let out a large sigh. ‘I’ve ignored my responsibilities long enough as far as he is concerned.’
‘How are you responsible for him?’
‘Because, Ace, there was a time when we were friends. And I should have helped him back then, steered him off the dark path he had stepped on.’
Ace shrugged. ‘Bit late now, though. That bloke’s gone; lost it.’
‘Even more reason to find him.’
Ace wasn’t sure she liked this side of the Doctor. She’d seem him manipulate people, including her, beat the worst kind of enemies, but never had she seen him take anything so personally. Still, if they did find him that worked out fine for her. She had her own personal score to settle with that nutcase; she owed him one for both Midge and Karra.
‘Alright, then. What we gonna do?’
The Doctor smiled, but Ace didn’t like the emotion behind his grey eyes. He was about to ask her to do something she wasn’t going to enjoy. ‘Well, you are going to be plugged directly into the telepathic circuits, and then with the remaining connection you have with that dead world, we should be able to pick up a trace on the Master, no matter where he is in time or space.’
‘Oh come of it, Professor, if you think I’m going to allow you to put wires into me head, you’re off your rocker, too.’
‘Ace!’ the Doctor hissed, using his best ‘disappointed’ tone. ‘This is the TARDIS we’re talking about; one of the finest time ships ever grown in the bio-engineering plants of Western Gallifrey. Wires in your head will not be necessary. No no, all you have to do is simply place your hands on these two pads.’
Ace looked at where the Doctor was pointing. Just adjacent to the red door lever was indeed two palm sized pads, pads she had never seen before. She narrowed her eyes, regarding the console with suspicion. She had lived in the TARDIS long enough now, and she knew for a fact that those pads had never been there before. ‘Okay, if you say so.’
She approached the console and gently placed her palms down, feeling the cold gel like substance of the pad squirm between her fingers. She felt the urge to pull her hand away, but was encouraged on by the Doctor’s smile. Even then, he still looked grim, as if he expected…
The console room flipped over.
Ace groaned, rubbing the small of her back, and looked up. From above, the Doctor was hanging on to the edge of the console with one hand, the other reaching out for the controls. Ace shook her head. ‘Professor, what the hell just happened?’ she asked, standing up on the ceiling.
‘Ace,’ the Doctor said through gritted teeth. ‘Brace yourself.’
‘For what?’ she started to ask, but before she got the words out the TARDIS flipped over again. But she didn’t land on top of the console as she would have expected. Instead she found herself being tossed about like some kind of doll; the entire room was spinning, the walls warping in and out. She tried to find a hand hold on a roundel, but her fingers kept on slipping off the smooth surface, the previous indented wall now as flat and slick as a sheet of metal. ‘Professor!’ she yelled.
‘Ace! Relax,’ the Doctor called back, still gripping frantically to the console. ‘We’re slipping directly into the Master’s time track. The TARDIS is attempting to time ram his; this could end badly! Hold tight!’
‘To what?’ she shouted, as she slammed once again into a flat wall.
Abruptly the turbulence ceased. Ace collapsed into a heap on the floor, and for a moment remained as she was, gathering her senses back together. She looked up slowly. The TARDIS might have settled, but her head hadn’t. It still spun crazily.
She struggled to her feet and crossed over to the Doctor, who was intently studying the readings on the console. ‘Hmm, that was no time ram,’ he was saying. ‘His TARDIS isn’t even in the vortex.’ The Doctor peered at the console more closely, his nose almost touching the little screen. ‘The vortex is out of shape, something else pushing into it. Aha!’ he added, with a snap of the fingers. ‘Of course, of course!’
Without another word he rushed around the console and starting flicking switches on another panel.
Ace just watched him, forcing herself to keep her mouth shut. She had seen him like this before and knew that getting any sense out of him was not going to happen. It was best to just let him ride the wave of mania, and then bombard him with questions when he had settled. Plus, just standing there, arms folded, helped her to regain her inner equilibrium.
The Doctor pushed her out of the way so he could work on the panel before her. Ace shook her head; she had had enough. She forced her between him and the console. ‘I ain’t moving until you explain.’
The Doctor narrowed his eyes, and attempted to get around Ace, but she refused to be budged. He let out a growl. ‘Fine. The end of the universe is upon us. Now, if you’ll just let me work, I might be able to prevent it.’
Taken aback Ace stepped aside. ‘Hang on,’ she said, slowly, ‘how is that possible? All we were doing was following the Master. We didn’t cause it, did we?’
‘No,’ the Doctor replied, not looking up, ‘the Master is causing it somehow. Whatever is happening to the vortex originated at the point in time the Master now inhabits. Oh.’ The Doctor pulled up short, and blinked. ‘He’s on Earth, in a place called Ashbridge, Earth year… 1972.’
‘Yes, Ace, very bad.’ The Doctor’s whole body slumped against the console, and he placed his head in his hands. ‘The idiot has gone back on my own personal time stream, attacking me at my weakest. Of course, I bet it didn’t occur to him that by doing so he’s also gone back on his own time stream. Our lives have been interconnected for so long now; whatever affects me will affect him.’
‘Then we need to go and save you, stop him, right?’
The Doctor looked up briefly. ‘It’s not that simple, Ace. If he’s killed me then my entire time line is erased, impacting thousands upon thousands of lives. The things I’ve done since then, the lives I’ve saved, the planets freed. Even the Daleks; their entire history altered by my absence. The universe won’t be able to survive such an alteration.’
Ace grabbed the Doctor by his arm, pulling him from the console. ‘Then we have to change that, prevent him from killing you. The TARDIS is still a time machine.’
‘Yes, one that can’t travel down my own time line.’
‘The personal streams of a Time Lord is time-locked, travel through it is impossible.’
‘But the Master has done it, and you just said we’ve followed his path.’
A light flickered in the Doctor’s eyes. ‘Yes, yes, you’re right!’ He spun back to the console. ‘This old girl has a few tricks up her sleeve yet.’ He patted the console and offered Ace a reassuring smile. ‘Next stop 1972… I hope.’
Either side the green foliage rushed past; he had to get away. Both from the soldiers and from those men who had tried to bundle him into the ambulance. Exerting his new body more than it approved of, the Doctor span the wheels on the wheelchair even faster.
The TARDIS was out there somewhere, waiting for him. His watch was still bleeping, indicating the proximity of his ship. He had to get home, try and convince the High Council to restore Jamie and Zoe to him. Even now, his head still confuzzled by his regeneration, he remembered what his people had done to him.
Trapped him, put him on trial for interfering in the affairs of other planets, and finally agreeing that he did have a role to play in preventing the evil that subjugated others. They had forced him to regenerate, sent his TARDIS to Earth where he would live his life in exile until the Tribunal saw fit to release him. But if he could get the TARDIS working again, find his way home, then maybe he could convince the High Council to overrule the Tribunal. He used to hold some sway, before he fell out of favour, and there had to be some people left that he could swing to his side.
The watch let out almighty screech, causing the Doctor to twist the wheelchair into a dangerous left turn. The chair fell over and, with a physical dexterity that impressed him no end, the Doctor rolled out of the wheelchair and back onto his feet. For a second he stood there, the cold air wafting through the back of his hospital gown. He smiled beneath the tape over his mouth. Oh yes, he was going to like this new body of his.
He span around, alerted by the sound of shouting coming from up the lane. UNIT soldiers barking out orders, trying to pinpoint his location. He remembered UNIT as allies; they’d helped him against the Cybermen in London. But right now getting to the TARDIS was more important.
He rushed through the trees, checking the readings on his watch.
‘Who’s there?’ a voice called out before him. The Doctor looked up just as the trees gave way to a clearing. Two UNIT soldiers stood between him and the TARDIS. But before he could enjoy the happy sight the blue box afforded, he heard a click and barely registered the sound of a rifle firing before he felt a sharp pain in his head.
Then, just blackness.
‘Professor, that was gunfire!’ Ace pointed out, following the Doctor through the dense clump of trees.
‘Yes, an inexperienced UNIT private making my head target practice.’ With that the Doctor’s quick pace turned into a run. ‘Come on,’ he shouted over his shoulder.
Ace didn’t need any further encouragement.
She almost bumped into the Doctor, so sudden was his stop. They stood at the edge of the clearing, watching as events unfolded before them.
A UNIT soldier stood near the TARDIS, his pistol pointed at the Master, who was kneeling next to the body of a tall man in a hospital gown. Ace guessed that had to be the Doctor’s earlier self; it was odd to think that he had once been someone else, looking so different to the man she had come to respect and love so much. She wasn’t too keen on the blood covering his chest, though, nor the way the Master was looking down at him, a frenzied grin plastered on his bearded face, rifle hot in his hands.
‘Professor,’ she said, urging him forward.
‘What?’ the Doctor asked, blinking, clearly shook up by what had happened to him. Seeing yourself dying couldn’t have been easy. Still…
‘We have to stop this, remember.’
‘Yes.’ The Doctor nodded and stepped out of the trees. Ace held back, and watched him, smiling. This was more like it, she knew that walk. It spoke of authority, and danger. The walk that had the monsters shaking in fear. When he spoke his voice was low. ‘This ends now.’
The Master looked up, and Ace shuddered at the amount of blood around his mouth, the dark viscous fluid dripping off his canines. He was even more feral than when she had last seen him, when he had brutally killed Karra. His yellow cat’s eyes starred at the Doctor with hatred. ‘No,’ he growled, ‘it ends when I say so. I told you, Doctor, I now have the power to kill you.’
‘You think you control that power? No, that power has you. You’re becoming an animal.’
The UNIT soldier looked from the Master, his gun wavering. The Doctor noticed. ‘Captain Munro, radio for assistance.’ Munro looked at him blankly, and Ace grinned. He was probably trying to work out how the Doctor knew him. ‘Now!’ the Doctor snapped.
Still keeping the gun trained on the Master, Munro reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver radio. The Master didn’t acknowledge the exchange. He simply continued to stare at the Doctor, his tongue licking the dripping blood.
‘Yes, an animal that has killed you,’ he said.
‘Not yet you haven’t.’
The Master glanced down at the long body lying before him. The younger Doctor, despite the severity of the wound in his chest, was still breathing. Although only barely. The Master’s lips curled into a smile, his yellow eyes roaming the woods. ‘It’s a start,’ he said, and slowly rose to his feet. ‘You might survive this, but the universe won’t. Good hunting, Doctor,’ he added, and moved suddenly and quickly.
Ace saw it too late, but rushed forward nonetheless. A small black cat was watching nearby, but it was no normal cat. Ace cursed herself as she tried to cut the Master off. She should have sensed the Kitling before; the planet lived on in all three of them. Her, the Master, and the Kitling; they were all connected and she should have felt it. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed both the Doctor and Munro also moving, but they were too far away to be of any use. She was the only one who could prevent the Master now; all she had to do was call on the reserves left over from the Cheetah Planet.
The Master reached the Kitling seconds before she, and with a blinding flash both Time Lord and cat vanished. For a moment Ace stood there, looking at the now empty spot, feeling robbed of her chance to get revenge.
That bastard had to pay for Midge and Karra.
She turned sharply as a hand came to rest on her shoulder.
‘Ace!’ the Doctor hissed. ‘Come back.’
Such dark feelings were running amok in her; she could feel the blood pumping through her veins. She recognised this feeling; she hadn’t felt it since all those blokes were heading towards her on Horsenden Hill, about to attack her before Karra had come to her rescue. It was the call of the hunt.
She shook her head and closed her eyes. When she opened them again the Doctor nodded at her grimly. ‘That’s better. Now,’ he added, turning back to Captain Munro, who was looking around confused. ‘Captain, you need to get this man back to Ashbridge Cottage immediately.’
Munro opened his mouth to ask something, but changed his mind. He looked back at the barely alive Doctor. ‘He’ll live?’
‘Yes,’ the Doctor said, walking past Munro and over to his other self. ‘If I act fast.’ He stopped, looking around. ‘Oh dear.’
Ace followed him and saw the severed head lying in the grass. The body lay nearby. Never one to shy from blood, Ace still felt a little sad. Whoever it had been was young. She turned away and looked back at the Doctor. ‘What are you going to do?’
‘What I need to do.’ The Doctor knelt in the grass, and touched the temples of his younger, yet oddly older looking, self, and closed his eyes. ‘Contact,’ he whispered.
Nothing more happened, and so Ace glanced over at Munro, who was helping another UNIT soldier to his feet, a dark bruise forming on his head. After checking to make sure the corporal was okay, Munro started issuing orders, and the corporal went away to guide the medical team into the clearing. Munro took a deep breath, and walked over to Ace. ‘Would you like to explain to me what just happened?’
‘Nah, mate, sorry, not my place. That’s down to the Doctor.’
Munro looked at the two Doctors, a frown appearing. ‘Another one? The Brigadier said that fella is the Doctor.’
‘Yeah, they both are.’
‘From the hospital?’
Ace laughed. ‘No, same bloke.’
Any chance for further needling was frustrated by the Doctor, who removed his hand from his former self’s head. He glanced up at Ace. ‘Get me back to the TARDIS,’ he said, his voice barely a whisper.
Ace helped him up, not liking the pallor of his skin. ‘Erm, sure, right. What about him?’
‘I’ll live,’ the Doctor said. ‘But we’ve got much work to do.’
Ace looked at Munro over her shoulder, and gave him a wink. ‘Sorry, soldier, you’re on your own. Give me love to Colonel Blimp, though.’
He should have been dying; this fact was immutable. Yet somehow the change was coming on him again. He had survived it twice before, his entire person becoming someone new. The memories, the thoughts, they all belonged to the same man, but each time he became someone different. Back home a life could last thousands of years before giving way to a new one. His own first body had lived longer than he liked to let on, but his second life had seemed to pass him by so quickly. Compared to his third incarnation, of course, his second had lasted an infinity. Such a shame, he had been looking forward to seeing what this new persona would become; he suspected a bit of an adventurer, if his agility was anything to go by.
He would never know now.
The change was beginning. The internal organs were healing themselves, as the body reformed outwardly. The bones were expanding in places and constricting in others.
As the pain overwhelmed him he became aware of a presence, a hint of his future. No, not a hint, a message. No words, just a sense that he had to live, to change the universe, put things right. But what things? Somehow he should know, but the knowledge was slipping from his mind. Regeneration was winning out, erasing his last life.
At the same time mental blocks were being released. Blocks that had been forced on his mind by the Time Lords. Time travel theory… Dematerialisation codes…
He opened his eyes for the final time in his third life.
Munro looked down at the Doctor. They were in the back of the ambulance, being rushed back to Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. The Brigadier and Doctor Henderson would be waiting for them.
The Doctor’s eyes snapped open.
Munro attempted a smile. ‘Everything is going to be all right,’ he told the man, although he doubted his own words. The Brigadier hadn’t believed a word of Munro’s report. Munro wasn’t sure he believed it himself. There was much more going on in Ashbridge than meteors falling from the sky.
‘No, it isn’t.’ The Doctor attempted to smile. ‘Sorry, old chap, but this is the end… of everything.’ He closed his eyes.
For a moment there was silence, as the ambulance rocked its way up to the hospital, but the silence was suddenly broken by a yell of pain issuing from the Doctor.
Munro watched him, his concern mounting. That concern turned into wide-eyed horror as the most amazing thing happened.
The Doctor began to change. Not his clothes, but his entire body. It only took a minute, and then there was a new man in the Doctor’s place. He was much the same height, but bulkier. Where his hair had once been a greying brown, it was now so dark as to be almost black. The face was the face of a much younger man, with a thick full brown beard.
Munro peered at the man closely, unable to really believe what he had just seen happen. The man opened his eyes and winked at Munro.
‘Told you, didn’t I?’ The new Doctor yawned. ‘Well, now to begin something completely different. First a nap, though. Goodnight,’ he added and promptly fell asleep.
Ace was worried about the Doctor, since leaving his earlier self in the wood clearing he’d got steadily weaker, as if his contact with his past had taken something out of him. He now stood by the console, his eyes closed, hands resting on the pads, connecting him directly to the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits.
She wanted to say something, to offer some kind of support, but she had never seen the Doctor look so ill, and didn’t know what to say. She often told people that looking after the Doctor was her job, but playing nursemaid was beyond her skill base.
With a familiar wheezing and groaning, the time rotor in the centre of the console began to rise and fall. The TARDIS was leaving 1972 Earth; without the Doctor pressing a single button. Ace guessed that he was piloting the TARDIS directly with his thoughts.
She shrugged. Never knew that was possible, but nonetheless a good thing when needed.
The Doctor removed his hands from the console and looked at Ace. He offered her a reassuring smile. ‘I’ll be okay after a rest; giving up a piece of my life force has drained me.’
‘Is that what you were doing with the other Doctor?’
‘Yes, he was dying. But I saved him; a sacrifice I feel most keenly right now. I also passed on a message to him, sent him a path to repair the damage done by the Master.’
‘The universe should survive if I’m… he is out there, getting involved. Five years on Earth will not serve the universe well, sure he might protect the Earth, but the rest of the universe will continue to collapse.’
‘Hang about, though, if he’s not there to help the Earth, then what about Earth? How will it survive?’
‘It’s protected, Ace. UNIT is there; they’ll cope.’
‘Yeah, but what if they don’t?’
The Doctor frowned, and shook his head. ‘You’re here, Ace, proof that the Earth survives.’ He staggered back onto the console. ‘It’s only a suggestion, but enough to make sure my earlier self leaves Earth, restores my timeline.’
Ace nodded, not entirely convinced, but right now the Doctor’s health was more important. ‘Okay, then we need to get you to bed, Professor.’
The Doctor agreed and allowed himself to be led out of the console room. ‘But we must try and find the Master ourselves; he’s a danger from my present. With two of me on the case we should be able to achieve both. Restoration of the universe, and stopping the Master.’
Ace said nothing. Life force sharing or not, last she’d seen of the other Doctor he hadn’t looked so sharp, and neither did her Doctor. She hoped he was right, but something told her that solving these two problems wasn’t going to be as straightforward as the Doctor liked to think.
The earlier Doctor, fresh from his sleep, stirred in his bed at Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. He wasn’t quite sure how long he had slept, but he felt much better for it. He had heard many horror stories about regenerations gone wrong. He had been lucky so far to have been saved from post-regeneration psychosis, which was known to be a potential risk, especially when regenerating multiple times in close proximity. The Doctor had always pitied the fools who engaged in such an endeavour, since it was ultimately little more than a vain glorious attempt at self improvement. Forcibly regenerated by the Tribunal, and then due to… what? Eyes still closed, not quite ready to face the world with his new eyes, the Doctor pondered what had happened.
Being unconscious had not helped, although he was pretty sure that the bullet from the young UNIT soldier’s gun had barely grazed his head. Certainly it wasn’t enough to trigger a regeneration. And there was something else there, a memory of…
His future, touching him in the now.
Yes, he could see him; his future self, several incarnations down the line, was a little man in a dark jacket, wearing a straw hat on his head. A man with a mind open to the many truths he had chosen to block from his memory when he ran away from his people. Truths he would rather not share with the universe. This future Doctor had shared something with him. He had known it, but now the information escaped him.
There was something he had to do, something his future needed of him.
The Doctor snapped his eyes open. He was hungry. No, not just hungry; famished!
He looked around the grey room he was in; no one else was about. Just a desk opposite the bed, upon which sat a bunch of notes and a pair of glasses. That was good; he didn’t wish to be disturbed. He had things to do. Find the TARDIS, fix it, and get off Earth and head for Gregoramani. He hadn’t been there in such a long time, and they provided the most excellent buffets.
The Doctor jumped off the bed and was about to leave the room when he noticed his bulk. He’d always been a thin man; he’d been old, relatively young, and, well whatever he had been briefly in his third life (something, the Doctor thought with a sigh, he would never know), but always thin. He had seen his previous face briefly, in the mirror loaned to him by that red-head who had accompanied Lethbridge-Stewart, and he knew from his almost-escape to the TARDIS that he had been quite tall, probably about as tall as he was now.
He rubbed his chin, pondering his lost life, and frowned. That was new, too. Facial hair. He remembered experimenting with it when he was a young man of eighty-nine, but it had always been more Koschei’s thing than his. Still, change was as good as a rest, and he’d rested enough.
Now he had things to do. He could ponder his missing life later, first he needed to get out of the hospital. And a large, bearded man in a white hospital gown might attract a little too much attention.
Plus, there was a draft going up his back. Where was the sense in having them open at the back like that? Well, that decided it for him.
Clothes were needed.
And a mirror.
He turned around and looked at his reflection. Not too great, but it would do until he found the TARDIS. He had found his clothes in a locker, but they had been way too small for him, which came as no surprise really. This was a pity, since they had a certain style about them that the Doctor found charming. His second incarnation was such an elegant dresser.
He was still dressed in his hospital gown, but he had found a great big brown coat to wear over the gown. It was quite warm, and fitted his new girth well. Only he needed something with which to keep it closed. It would not do to wander around England looking for the TARDIS with the cold wind blowing against his Time Lord delicacies.
He looked around the room, and his eyes alighted on a piece of rope. The Doctor smiled, and stroked his beard. It felt quite a natural thing to do, beard stroking. He could barely imagine how he had survived without a beard for all those centuries past; maybe Koschei had been onto something after all.
The Doctor wrapped the rope around his waist, twice over, and tied it in a slipknot, then turned back to the mirror.
‘Oh yes. Quite nice.’ The Doctor bellowed out a deep-throated laugh, and immediately clamped his hand over his mouth. Grief, that was terribly loud. No doubt such a vocal range would come in quite handy when trying to advise his companions, but it would not do to have the hospital staff finding him so soon.
The thought struck a chord. Companions.
He had been rushing to the TARDIS in the hope of persuading the High Council to help him return Jamie and Zoe, but now he wasn’t so sure it was such a good idea. They were home, happy again, without the added danger a life with him brought. He would miss them, of course, but he was a new Doctor, and he needed new companions now.
The life of a Time Lord, always on the go.
He counted off two fingers. Item one, find the TARDIS. Item two, find some companions.
He sat on the bench and slipped his feet into the shoes he’d found in a locker. Socks and trousers would have been nice, but the coat was long enough to cover most of his legs, so at best he’d look like some kind of tramp roaming the hospital corridors. The Doctor sighed; he’d sort some proper clothes out once he got back to the TARDIS.
He removed all the items from the pockets of his old clothes and stuffed them into his new coat, then walked back over to the door. He stopped; his hand on the knob. There were voices coming from the corridor. He listened in.
‘What are all those toy soldiers playing at?’ asked a voice that was both dignified and self-important.
‘They found the patient,’ a younger voice returned. The Doctor recognised that voice; that of the doctor who was looking after him.
‘And shot him, eh?’
Before his doctor could reply, the Doctor ripped the door open and pointed a finger the owner of the pompous voice. ‘Yes they did!’ he snapped, not much caring for the man’s flashy cape and fedora hat. ‘Flaming cheek of it.’
Both men looked at him, their mouths open in surprise. The Doctor reached out a hand and shook the hand of his doctor heartily. ‘Thank you for your administrations, but I shall be on my way now. Things to do, people to see.’ He beamed a smile at both and them, and nodded. ‘Capital! Goodbye.’
Taking advantage of their confusion, the Doctor pushed past them and headed down the corridor. He heard his doctor call after him, but chose to ignore it. It could not have been anything important. It never was with humans.
The Doctor reached the doors leading out of the hospital and noticed two uniformed soldiers outside. He pulled up short and considered the situation, peering through the glass.
Clearly the events outside the TARDIS that led to his regeneration had made an impact on UNIT; the Brigadier himself must have given the order to keep the hospital secure, check on anyone coming in and out. Safeguard the freak inside. Lethbridge-Stewart had seemed very puzzled and let down when he had visited the Doctor in the hospital before, obviously expecting to find the short man he knew from the trouble with the Yeti in the Underground and the Cyberman crisis at International Electromatics, but instead he had found some lanky man lying there who didn’t look even remotely similar.
The Doctor laughed at this. Poor old Lethbridge-Stewart; the military mind was not known for its imagination. He could only begin to wonder how the soldier would respond to his new persona. The Doctor smiled to himself; maybe he would have to find out.
He looked back out the window in time to see the two soldiers approaching the doors. His laughter had brought him to their attention.
Oh well, he would do what he had always done no matter what body he wore. He would brazen it. So thinking, he stormed out of the doors and over to the two men.
‘The man you have been left to protect is loose inside. Doctor… erm…’ The Doctor looked around, trying to remember the name. He must have heard it. ‘They need your help!’ he decided on instead. The two soldiers looked at each other, not too sure. Stupid military men, the Doctor thought. Only responded to one thing. ‘Get on with, then! The Brigadier wants him unharmed! Now jump to it!’ he bellowed.
The two men snapped to attention and rushed into the hospital. The Doctor watched them go and smiled to himself. Very useful thing, this bellowing he had inherited since his regeneration. Very useful indeed.
Now all he had to do was find the TARDIS.
He had left it in the woods; that much he remembered for sure. Indeed, he had almost reached it last time. But which way? He had feigned sleep when those men had tried to kidnap him, and then his escape was such a blur, befuddled even further by the usual fogginess that came as a result of regeneration.
Still; means and ways. He consulted the watch tightly wrapped around his wrist – too tightly! The strap was meant for a much thinner wrist than the one he now owned. Oh well, something to sort out later.
Or not, he decided, once he noticed the crack in the glass covering. The insides were ruined too, no doubt a result of the fracas in the woods earlier.
He looked around. He would find a way to locate the TARDIS, in the meantime he couldn’t just stand there dillydallying. UNIT would soon be on to him.
He rushed down the steps and checked out the cars parked in front of a small sign that said Reserved For Doctors. The Doctor smiled; seemed quite apt. He briefly considered the dark red roadster, but decided against it in favour of the small MG next to it. It was the work of moments to get the door open, once he’d found the sonic screwdriver in his coat pocket. Getting into the small car was more problematic though.
As it turned out the Doctor didn’t need his homing device; he could almost hear the TARDIS calling out to him. It was a strange feeling. He’d developed a strong bond with his time ship over the years, which was a common place thing with his people after much usage of the same ship. TARDIS’ were grown after all, and they were alive after a fashion, but this was different. He could almost hear a voice in his head.
He had a long and uncomfortable drive to London, cramped in the confines of the MG sports car; perhaps the roadster would have been a better choice. Although it was a bit flash for him, and probably not as fast as the MG. It would have been liked him choosing a SIDRAT over a TARDIS.
UNIT HQ existed in the heart of London, the entrance underground. The guard at the gate tried to object, maintaining the facade, but the Doctor knew better and demanded he see Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at once. His property was inside the building, and he intended to leave with it. Or it leave with him. Either worked.
Eventually, he was escorted through the building, but soon gave his guide the slip. He wasn’t sure where he was being led, but it was away from the location of the TARDIS. Clearly the Brigadier wished to see the Doctor as far away from the ship as possible. Well, tough!
The Doctor barged through the door, and came into what was probably once an open hall, but it had been partitioned off by boards. He walked around the boards, finding an entrance, and found himself in what seemed to be a quickly assembled lab. Assembled by someone who had never actually worked in a laboratory before.
The Brigadier was approaching him, a forced smile on his face, arm outstretched in greeting. Behind him, at a bench, was the red-head, now wearing a lab coat, mixing two chemicals into a phial. She looked up briefly, but returned to her work. Pretending that the arrival of the Doctor was none of her business.
In the corner of the lab stood the TARDIS. The Doctor beamed, stepping past the Brigadier, and walked over to the blue box. He patted her affectionately. ‘There we are, old girl, soon have you out of here.’ He looked over at the Brigadier. ‘Key, please.’
Lethbridge-Stewart regarded him with suspicion. ‘Not until I know for sure you are who you claim to be.’
‘Claim to be? My dear, Lethbridge-Stewart, I haven’t claimed to be anyone. I know who I am, and all the evidence before your eyes should be confirmation enough. And besides, consult with that captain of yours, he was there, he saw me regenerate.’
‘Yes,’ the Brigadier said, with more than a degree of scepticism. ‘I read Captain Munro’s report. Unbelievable.’
‘And yet it happened.’ The Doctor approached the Brigadier. ‘Listen, I really do not have time for this. I have much more important things to deal with.’
Lethbridge-Stewart raised an eyebrow. ‘Then I suggest you make time, Doctor, if that is who you are. There are many questions I wish to have answers to; like how is it your arrival coincided with a shower of meteorites?’
The Doctor shrugged; he knew nothing of this. Nor did he care. He had something much more pressing to concern himself with, if only he could remember what it was. Beyond food, of course. ‘I think you answered your own question there. Coincidence.’
The Brigadier was about to answer, his body tensing. The Doctor wasn’t sure he much cared for Lethbridge-Stewart anymore; his old self was more suited to the military buffoon. He had no time for such closed minds. Changing tact, the Doctor turned from Lethbridge-Stewart and walked over to the young woman at the desk.
He offered his best smile. ‘And who might you be?’
The woman looked up from her experiments and offered a hand. ‘Elizabeth Shaw,’ she said, shaking his hand as firmly as she could.
‘Liz, I may call you Liz, yes?’ Liz nodded, and the Doctor continued. ‘Would you please explain to your employer that I need the key to my TARDIS.’
Liz looked over at the Brigadier, and the Doctor spotted something in her eyes. At first she had seemed bemused by the exchange, but for a brief second he noticed the contempt. She wasn’t happy about being here. A thought started to form in the Doctor’s head.
‘Well, for one thing, Doctor, I’m afraid it is none of my business, and for another I was not employed by UNIT. I was drafted.’
The Doctor nodded. ‘Then you have my eternal sympathies, to be conscripted into such a blinkered organisation like UNIT.’ He suddenly clapped his hands, making Liz jump. He placed a hand on her shoulder. ‘Sorry, my dear. I really must be going,’ he said, turning back to the TARDIS. ‘And I think she agrees.’
As if to prove it, the police box door opened. The Doctor nodded to himself. He had a feeling that would happen; the TARDIS wouldn’t have called him unless she wanted him inside.
‘Well, nice meeting you again, Brigadier. Good luck with your meteorites.’ The Doctor stopped, one foot inside the police box, and glanced back at Liz. ‘Come with me,’ he said, ‘I could show you science that would boggle your mind. The planet Delphon for instance… A wondrous place; they communicate with their eyebrows. Quite fascinating.’
Liz almost laughed, but shook her head. ‘I don’t think so.’
‘Oh.’ The Doctor was sure she was going to say yes. ‘Then perhaps we shall meet again,’ he said, and stepped into the TARDIS, closing the door behind him.
He walked over to the console, and placed on a hand on the pale green panel. It was good to be back home. He flicked a switch and watched as the time rotor began its oscillation.
No co-ordinates had been set, but that didn’t matter, for now all that mattered was leaving Earth behind. He had to move on. Still there was something niggling in the back of his mind, a feeling that his future required something of him.
For now though he intended to just drift in the time vortex, let his new body settle down a bit. Perhaps pop to Gregoramani and stuff himself silly. Yes, that might be the distraction his mind needed. Once his appetite was satiated he could put his mind to other things, drift around for a bit, see if he could find himself a new companion. The life he lived could be awfully lonely without friends to share it.
With that in mind, the Doctor started whistling to himself and set the co-ordinates for Gregoramani.
To be continued…
Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen & Greg Miller.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Contains elements from Spearhead from Space, © 1970 by Robert Holmes
The Catalyst © 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen,
The Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen,
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide, All Rights Reserved.