Chapter 10

The Wrath of Xanxia

The Captain's evil guffaws were echoed by the shrill laughter of Fibuli. Then a warm, booming laughter joined in. Triumph turned to astonishment as the Captain looked up to see the Doctor standing in the centre of the room.

‘Hello, everybody,’ said the smiling survivor.

‘Doctor!’ the Captain exclaimed.

‘Sorry I couldn't make the jump myself, I've got a terrible head for heights.’

‘Then who...?’ the Captain began.

The Doctor produced from under his arm the small box that he'd picked up in the throne room. Touching a control, a duplicate image of the Doctor appeared on the platform beside the Captain and the others.

The Captain wondered why his sensors had not detected the falsehood of the first Doctor. Logical analysis calculated that grief had overloaded his circuits and he made a mental note to prevent such an error reoccurring.

The true Doctor released the button on the image projector and his doppelganger instantly disappeared. ‘I've discovered your little secret. We're not all quite as we seem. Neat little machine, isn't it? And the image it projects might almost be real - it can even carry solid objects.’ He activated the device again and the extra Doctor reappeared.

‘Hello Doctor!’ said his duplicate cheerily.

‘Hello. How are you?’ the real Doctor greeted him.

‘Oh terribly well, can't complain.’


‘Bye, bye!’

The Doctor switched off his duplicate. ‘And just as I can switch off that image of myself, I can also switch off the image of another, apparently real person. Which one of us will disappear this time?’ He turned the projector towards the Nurse and hit the ‘off' switch.

She flickered from white to black and back again, negative to positive, but the Nurse did not disappear as the Doctor's doppelganger had. The Captain cowered back as what he believed was the angel of death strode past him towards the off-worlder. The Doctor was pushing the projector's buttons without success.

‘Try all you like, Doctor, it won't work on me,’ said the white-clad woman. 'My new body has almost obtained fully corporeal form. It can no longer simply be turned off.’ She looked to the guards. ‘Guards, seize him!’

The guards were at a loss as what to do or whose command to follow. The pair turned to the Captain for guidance.

‘Do as she says,’ he said warily.

Far below, Romana, Mula and the Mentiads had finally reached the plateau at the Bridge's entranceway to the mountain.

‘Here we are. This is the doorway - can you open it?’ Romana asked the Mentiads.

Pralix turned to the others. ‘Brothers, we shall direct our minds' energies against the door. It shall open for us.’ The Mentiads concentrated on the door for a few moments and it slowly rose upwards and outwards for them, as if by magic.

Romana looked about them and saw two guards coming up the mountain path behind them. ‘Pralix, look out!’ she warned.

The soldiers began firing and she called to the others to take cover. But the Mentiads stood their ground and instead looked up the side of the mountain. An avalanche of rock and stones came tumbling down, knocking the guards to the ground.

‘Very impressive,’ said Romana as the group began filing through the doorway.

On the Bridge, the white-clad woman was in control. ‘Mr Fibuli, place the crystals in the machine,’ she commanded.

The deputy selected a green gem from the tray and slotted it into the psychic interference transmitter, which started humming with power. ‘Madranite 1-5,’ said Fibuli, and reached for a blue crystal.

At the mountain's entranceway, one of the guards was only stunned by the rock fall, and soon regained consciousness. He crawled to the cover of an aircar on the plateau's edge and aimed his weapon at the group of fugitives.

Romana saw the movement from the corner of her eye. ‘Look out!’

The Mentiads turned to concentrate and could not. They looked at each other wonderingly.

‘The power - it's gone. The power's gone!’ cried out Pralix.

The guard fired, and one of the Mentiads collapsed, dead. Romana grabbed the energy weapon that Mula had taken from the unconscious guard and aiming, expertly downed the remaining guard.

‘Pralix, what happened?’ Romana asked.

‘I don't know, we can't tell.’ Pralix replied. ‘The contact between us has gone. We can't function together. There's just a dull buzzing sound in our minds.’

Probably a psychic interference transmitter thought Romana. ‘Well, so much for the paranormal.’ She looked ruefully at the energy weapon she had just used to knock out the second guard. ‘It's back to brute force, I suppose.’

The group filed into the mountain, the Mentiads mourning their dead brother.

The commanding woman stood in the centre of the Bridge, surveying all around her. ‘Is it working?’ she hissed at Fibuli, who was tending the psychic interference transmitter.

‘Yes, full power,’ he finally answered.

‘Good,’ she said. ‘Now we'll show these zombies who rules here.’

‘So - Xanxia, the tyrant queen of Zanak,’ said the Doctor, with no surprise in his voice.

The woman ignored him, and continued talking to Fibuli. ‘Bring the manifest,’ she ordered.

‘What about the real you, eh?’ the Doctor persisted. ‘That wizened old body in the time dams back there.’

The Nurse, now revealed as the hated Xanxia, did not even look at the Doctor to answer him. ‘That thing is not me,’ she said haughtily. ‘This is now the real Queen Xanxia.’

‘No, no, no - not yet, it isn't. Your new body is based on a cell projection system, isn't it?’

The Queen turned to him. ‘Permanent regeneration, based on cells in my old body and thus containing all the memory patterns and all the brilliance built up over the centuries.’

‘Ahh - but it's still unstable, isn't it?’ persisted the Time Lord. ‘You're still dependent on the last few seconds of life left in the old body.’

‘I'm nearly complete, my molecular structure has almost bound together, finally and forever. That is why you could not turn me off.’

The Doctor chuckled to himself, just loud enough for the enraged ruler to hear. ‘It won't work, you know. Believe me - I'm an old hand at regenerations. It can't be done that way, those time dams back there, they just do not work.’

‘I have calculated every detail - I shall live forever!’

‘Live forever? What sort of dream is that?’

‘It is the greatest dream of all. The greatest quest in all history. The secret of eternal life, eternal youth.’

‘Bafflegab! My dear, I've never heard such bafflegab in all my lives.’

‘Have a care, Doctor,’ Xanxia warned him menacingly.

‘Piffle, hogwash! You should know better at your age!’

‘Life, Doctor, is the most precious thing in the universe. It is to be cherished, preserved...’

‘You poor misguided fool, you. Listen...’

‘You dare to mock me?’


Xanxia lashed out, striking the Doctor full across the face with the back of her hand. A sharp gem on a ring cut cruelly into the skin just above his top lip. The Doctor held a hand to his wound, which was bleeding slightly, then straightened and smiled triumphantly at the Queen.

‘Ahh - now we're getting somewhere, aren't we?’

‘You shall die now for your insolence.’ Xanxia went to the Captain who had been sitting forgotten in the com, nursing the remains of Avitron.

The tyrant ruler touched a control on her waist belt, and he began to rise involuntarily from the com, raising his arm to strike down the off-worlder.

‘Life is to be cherished and preserved all right - as long as it's yours and nobody else's.’ The Doctor spoke in urgent tones as if to an ally. ‘Captain, Captain! Listen to me, this concerns you...’

‘We will hear what he thinks he knows. But say your piece quickly, Doctor. Time is running out for you,’ Xanxia declared mockingly.

‘Not nearly as fast as it's running out for you,’ the Doctor retorted, and continued speaking to the Captain. ‘You're being used, you know, you're being used by her, just to do her dirty work. And what's your reward, Captain, eternal life?

‘What do you know of eternal life?’ demanded Xanxia.

‘Enough to know that it can't be sustained by those time dams back there. The time dams slow down the flow of time over your body, your original body, all right. But when you get to the last few seconds of life in real time, the time flow has to get slower and slower and slower. Right?’

The Queen, with the confidence of total self-belief, said, ‘When this body becomes fully corporeal -'

‘It never will, not ever,’ butted in the Doctor.

‘My calculations -’

‘Are wrong!’

‘No! Impossible!’

‘Inevitable! Because they are based on a false premise!’

The two foes were virtually screaming at one another. The Queen ranted on, but the merest hint of doubt had crept into her voice.

‘I gutted my own planet Zanak, for all the energy it contained. I've ransacked planets from Bandraginus V to Calufrax - do you think I'm going to stop now?’

Now the Doctor replied in coolly rational tones against Xanxia's childish petulance. ‘What next, suns? It's just no good,’ he said, almost pleading with her. ‘The energy needs of the time dams increase exponentially - why do you think you need more and more new planets? There just isn't enough energy in the universe to keep the time dams going forever. In the end you will die.’

‘You're lying,’ countered the Queen desperately, refusing to accept the truth of his arguments. ‘You're trying to save your worthless neck.’

‘I just don't think it's worth all that effort,’ said an almost jovial Doctor, draping a friendly arm around Fibuli's shoulders. ‘What do you think, Mr Fibuli, mm? Captain - what do you think, Captain?’

Xanxia touched another control on her waist belt, and the half-man, half-robot crumpled like a puppet with its strings snipped.

‘Ahh - so that's how you control him,’ the Doctor observed aloud.

The Queen reactivated her half-human plaything. The Mentiads must be approaching the Bridge now - Captain, deal with them.’

Now was his chance, thought the deranged Captain. Now he would rid himself of his tormentor once and for all. Abandoning his more elaborate plan, the Captain pulled a blade from within his tunic and with his human hand raised it to stab deep into the centre of this venomous angel of destruction. ‘By all the...’

Xanxia regarded her puppet coolly. ‘I said, deal with them,’ she said, and twisted another control on her waist belt.

The Captain felt his willpower sapped away, analog overriding emotion. He fought for a moment, but then his android half won over, striking the blade away from his human hand. When he finally spoke, his voice was cold, clinical and computer-like. The machine had won, it seemed. ‘Mr Fibuli - seal the Bridge,’ it ordered.

Romana, Mula and the Mentiads found themselves at the end of the inertia neutralisation corridor.

‘Right. Everybody stand still,’ Romana instructed.

‘What is this?’ Pralix asked.

‘It's a very sophisticated transport system. Here we go.’ Romana activated the controls, and they accelerated down the corridor. Her companions looked amazed. ‘Fun, isn't it? The main problem with trying to cover long distances fast is that you have to spend as much time decelerating as you do accelerating because you have to overcome the body's inertia.’

‘What's that?’ Mula wanted to know.

‘You know. Like momentum? They seem to have found some way here of cancelling out the force of inertia, so you accelerate all the way and simply stop dead at the other end. It's very clever.’

‘It's very fast,’ Mula observed nervously.

Romana suddenly clicked her fingers. ‘Got it!’

‘Got what?’

‘The Nurse!’

Mula was even more confused. ‘You need a nurse?’

Romana shook her head. ‘The Captain's nurse - she's always hovering round him. Whenever anybody else talks to him he rants and shouts at them. But with her he just seethes.’


‘So she must have some power over him. So if the Captain's making this planet leap about eating other planets, it must be for her. Who is she?’

Pralix was just behind Mula and Romana, and had been silently listening to their conversation as they sped along the corridor ‘I don't know what you're saying,’ he confessed.

‘Never mind ... Ah! What was the name of that queen who drained the planet of everything it had?’ Romana wanted to know.

‘Queen Xanxia,’ Pralix answered. ‘But she's been dead for centuries.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Nobody can live that long,’ Pralix objected.

‘That's not necessarily true,’ Romana replied.

Mula sided with Pralix. ‘But the legend says...’

Their discussion was curtailed as they reached the end of the inertia neutralisation corridor and came to a sudden stop. Romana hurried toward the lift. ‘Come on!’ She herded the group into the lift chamber. They huddled around as the door slammed down behind them.

‘It's all right. It's a lift,’ Romana assured them, as the chamber began to rise. ‘Now, where was I ... Oh, yes. Supposing it happened this way. The Captain's pirate ship crashed on Zanak, and his body was terribly mutilated. We know he must be an engineering genius, so it's quite possible he had highly sophisticated medico-cybernetic equipment on the ship...’

‘What?’ Mula was lost again.

‘Well if you're a pirate, you're always having bits lopped off in fights, aren't you?’ Romana reasoned.

‘Are you?’

Romana nodded. ‘Now, supposing Xanxia rescued the Captain, and used that equipment to rebuild his body, but did it in such a way that she retained control over him - she'd have a criminal hyper-engineering genius as her slave, wouldn't she?’

‘Yes, but...’ Pralix interjected.

‘Is there anything in the legend which flatly contradicts that?’ Romana asked.

‘No, but...’

‘But what?’

‘I don't know,’ Pralix confessed. ‘Just but...’

It was a massacre.

The council of elders had spoken in reasoned terms to the leader of the Captain's guards, talking about Balaton's contribution to Zanak society, and had sought some explanation for his murder. Radune had talked eloquently and with great passion, but it was all for naught. Once the elders had finished speaking, the leader of the guards ordered his troops to open fire. He'd had enough of this irksome council and decided to rid himself of it once and for all.

None of the elders survived, and Enak only got away by good fortune. News of the massacre spread across the settlement like wildfire, and soon citizens were attacking the guards, pulling their weapons away from them. Casualties were high, but the guards were slowly being overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. The leader died trying to get a message through to the Bridge about the revolt.

Rebellion had taken hold of Zanak.

With the rebellion drawing troops away from protecting the Bridge, Romana, Mula and the Mentiads reached the entranceway to the Bridge without further losses. But when they got there, the doors were firmly sealed.

‘I get the feeling the Doctor and Kimus are not in control here,’ said Mula.

The occupants of the Bridge were gripped with a feverish siege mentality.

Xanxia strutted about the chamber, proclaiming her victory. ‘We are impregnable. The Mentiads are powerless. The guards will pick them off at will. Captain - is Calufrax now entirely rendered?’

The subjugated half-man put the question to his deputy. ‘Mr Fibuli?’

‘Er, yes sir, all the energy reducible minerals have been mined, processed and stored. And the residue has been processed in the normal way, sir. Operations on Calufrax are now complete. There are reports of an uprising in the main settlement. Apparently the citizens are attacking the guards after the council of elders was massacred in the main courtyard.’

‘Ungrateful fools!’ spat out Xanxia. ‘I give them unimaginable wealth and they complain about a few deaths. Once we have reached the new planet, we shall crush this rebellious rabble once and for all. Meanwhile, don't bother me with such trivia, Mr Fibuli. Have you located a planet where we can find the mineral PJX 1-8 to restore our engines to full working order?’

‘PJX 1-8?’ said the Doctor. ‘But that's quartz.’

‘Yes,’ Fibuli confirmed.

‘Yes, but from where? Where?’ the Doctor demanded to know.

‘It's the planet Terra, in the star system Sol.’

‘Captain, we will mine that planet immediately. Prepare to make the jump,’ said Xanxia.

‘But that's Earth!’ The Doctor was aghast that the little blue-green planet he was so fond of was to be the next morsel for Zanak's insatiable hunger for energy. ‘Earth! Do you really mean to go on with this madness? Don't you understand you can't win? Are you going to take everyone else with you? Captain - Earth is an inhabited planet. Billions and billions of people - you can't be that insane! You're going to throw billions of good lives after bad?’

‘Jump immediately, Captain,’ ordered the Queen.

‘It will take ten minutes to set the coordinates,’ replied the emotionless Captain.

‘Ten minutes, Captain,’ Fibuli confirmed.

‘Mr Fibuli?


‘Announce a new golden age of prosperity,’ the Captain directed.

‘But Captain,’ Fibuli objected, ‘the last one was only yesterday.’

‘Do it, Mr Fibuli,’ the Captain insisted.

The Doctor tried another tactic. ‘You can't possibly succeed, the Mentiads will destroy you.’

The others ignored him, so Fibuli explained. ‘No, Doctor. Not whilst we have the psychic interference transmitter.’

‘What's that?’

‘Yes, yes, you see, while that's fully operational, the Mentiads are powerless...’

While Fibuli was engrossed in his explanation, the Doctor activated the door control for the Bridge's entranceway. Fibuli noticed the door opening slowly. ‘Oh - the door!’

‘It's all right, I'll close it,’ the Doctor assured him.

‘Oh thank you,’ said Fibuli automatically, and before he could react, the Doctor had run from the Bridge, locking the door behind him.

‘Stop him!’ shouted the Captain.

Xanxia quickly overruled his command. ‘Leave him. There's no time.’

Fibuli checked his readings ‘Dematerialisation minus nine minutes, Captain.’

‘Is the engine room still sealed?’ the Queen asked Fibuli.

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Then he can do no damage.’ She looked at the Captain. ‘Xanxia shall live!’

Romana was more relieved than she would admit when the Doctor appeared from the Bridge.

‘Kimus and K9?’ he asked, seeing that Mula and the Mentiads were present.

‘They were with you,’ replied his companion.

‘No, I sent them to sabotage the engines. The planet's about to jump again.’

‘Doctor, we're fighting a losing battle,’ said Romana. ‘The Mentiads can't get their psychokinetic powers to work.’

‘Yes, I know. They've got a psychic interference transmitter on the Bridge.’

‘Here's Kimus,’ Pralix observed.

Kimus ran up to the group. ‘It's no use, Doctor. The engine room is barricaded with steel, several inches thick. K9 can't even scorch it.’

‘Where is K9?’

Kimus looked about and realised the mobile computer was missing. ‘Err, I thought he was following on. His batteries are exhausted from trying to burn through the door.’

The Time Lord jabbed a finger at Kimus and Mula. ‘You two stay here and cover the Bridge - the rest of us, to the engine room!’ He ran off towards the elevation chamber, followed by Romana and the surviving Mentiads.

‘What are we going to do, Doctor?’ called Romana as she hurried after him.

‘What I always do, Romana - improvise!’

Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Epilogue