12: Final Reckoning

The Doctor located a small panel on the side of the virus cylinder and slid it open. Within was a small valve control, which he operated. ‘Open the doors,’ he instructed, holding the cylinder at arm's length.

Turlough complied, and the Doctor marched outside.

The cylinder was giving off a lot of gas as he stepped from the TARDIS. He got as close as he dared to the surviving Daleks and placed the cylinder on the floor. As he moved away, they noticed him and fired, but he managed to rush back to the TARDIS door. Lytton emerged from behind a crate and fired at him, but the Doctor dived inside the TARDIS.

Foam began to spew out of the Daleks. ‘What is happening?’ one of them screeched. ‘I cannot see. My vision is impaired. Emergency!’

The cry was taken up by the other Daleks. ‘Emergency! Emergency!’

Lytton found himself standing by the one surviving trooper; one of Davros's troopers. ‘They're going,’ Lytton observed. ‘And so are you!’ He turned and fired at the trooper, who fell.

The Daleks continued to scream. ‘Emergency! I cannot see!’

Lytton turned for one last look at the dead and dying, and then scooped up his bundle from the floor where it had been dropped. It was his police sergeant's uniform. He extracted the cap and polished the insignia with his elbow as he made for the stairs.

Stien activated a final switch on the self-destruct console, and the controls glowed red. ‘Done it,’ he said to himself. ‘Must rest... tired...’ He leaned back against the wall, clutching his wounded stomach.

The two Daleks in Davros's laboratory were dead - their casings partially melted and smothered in foam.

‘The Daleks are dead,’ Davros declared triumphantly. ‘Long live the new Daleks.’

He glided across to the shutter concealing his escape pod and opened the shutter. Starting forward, his chair slowed to a halt just as he was about to enter the capsule.

Davros gave an involuntary shudder, and wisps of smoke rose from the console of his chair. ‘What is happening?’ he demanded, but there was no one to answer him. He stared with his one electronic eye as the first tell-tale flecks of foam appeared around his console.

‘No! No! It cannot be!’ he screamed. ‘I am not a Dalek! I cannot die! I am Davrosssss!!’

The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough watched on the TARDIS scanner as the virus-infected Daleks outside in the warehouse juddered in their death throes.

‘It's over,’ the Doctor announced thankfully, turning away from the scanner.

‘It was horrible,’ Tegan said with feeling.

‘Earth is safe,’ the Doctor tried to reassure her. ‘At least until the Daleks find an antidote for the Movellan virus.’

‘Doctor! Look!’ exclaimed Turlough, pointing at the screen.

The Time Lord whirled around and saw that the warehouse scene had been replaced by a transmission from the Dalek ship. The Supreme Dalek looked down on them from the bridge of his ship.

‘You have not won, Doctor,’ it stated.

‘You won't be able to invade Earth,’ the Doctor replied.

‘You forget, Doctor. Daleks do not need to invade. I have my duplicates. Some have already been placed in strategic positions around the planet. The collapse of Earth society will soon occur.’

‘Your duplicates are unstable. It won't work!’ the Doctor told him.

The Supreme Dalek began to rant. ‘That is not true. We shall not fail. The Daleks will triumph! We cannot fail! The Daleks' true destiny is to rule the Universe!’

Stien awoke from a confused dream of a half-remembered childhood and staggered over to the self-destruct console. Looking up, he saw three Daleks appear in the doorway.

‘Hello boys,’ he said. ‘Just in time for the fun.’

A Dalek fired, and Stien was thrown back against the wall.

He should have died at that moment, but there was some unfinished business to attend to. He rebounded off the wall and in his dying moments, used the momentum to lunge forward on top of the console, and the self-destruct lever.

It took just three seconds for the station's fusion reactor to go critical. In that time the Supreme Dalek received two reports; the first being that an escape pod had ejected from the station's science laboratory, and the second that the self-destruct device had been triggered.

The Dalek Supreme's last action was to order the immediate disengagement and withdrawal of the ship to a safe distance. It was still in the process of sending this when the blast wave reached the bridge and the Supreme boiled away into space with everything else.

The occupants of the TARDIS shielded their eyes from the blinding glare of the explosion. Moments later, they looked again at the scanner screen, and saw only blazing debris spinning away through space.

No-one spoke for a while.

‘The Dalek ship has been destroyed,’ the Doctor said quietly. There was no jubilation in his voice. He switched off the scanner screen.

‘How?’ Turlough asked.

‘The self-destruct device on the space station,’ the Doctor suggested. The merest hint of a weary smile began to form on the Time Lord's features.

Tegan frowned. ‘Davros?’

The Doctor lifted his head. ‘No, no; Stien I should think. He must have finally decided which side he was on.’ The Doctor abruptly operated the door control and strode out into the warehouse.

The light outside in Curlew Street was fading fast, casting lengthening shadows on the road and brick walls around the warehouse. Two tall men stood rigidly to attention, side by side in the middle of the street. They were dressed in the neat blue attire of police officers.

A third figure emerged from an alleyway; another man in a police uniform, but wearing the greatcoat and cap of a police sergeant. He marched up to his two men, and with mechanical precision, they saluted him.

Satisfied, Lytton turned and strode up the street, his escort silently falling into step behind him...

The Doctor moved from one Dalek to the next, checking both the exploded and virus-infected casings to ensure that they were all well and truly dead.

Turlough looked around at the pathetically huddled bodies of the duplicated troopers and Earth soldiers, their corpses littered around the bases of their deceased mechanical masters - and executioners. ‘Are you sure all the duplicates are unsafe?’ he asked.

The Doctor looked up from his grisly inspection. ‘Oh yes. Now that the Dalek ship has been destroyed, they will all be freed of Dalek control.’

‘Shouldn't we inform Earth's authorities?’ inquired Turlough, ever-practical.

The Doctor abruptly concluded his task. ‘Ah yes, indeed,’ he replied unconvincingly. ‘Come along,’ he urged, and motioned his two companions back to the TARDIS. He pushed the police box door open expectantly.

‘I'm not coming with you,’ said Tegan quietly.

The Doctor wasn't sure if he'd heard her right. ‘I beg your pardon?’

‘I'm tired of it,’ she explained wearily.

The Doctor looked her in the eyes and was disconcerted to find that they were beginning to fill with tears.

‘What's the matter?’ he inquired gently, moving closer. He started to place a consoling arm around her, hesitated, and then thrust both hands into his pockets.

‘A lot of good people have died today,’ Tegan continued. ‘I think I'm sick of it.’

The Doctor looked hurt and defensive. ‘Do you think I wanted it this way?’ he replied almost angrily.

Tegan shook her head vigorously. ‘No, it's just that I don't think I can go on.’

The Doctor put her desire into words. ‘You want to stay on Earth?’ he asked understandingly.

Tegan nodded, and wiped her eyes before replying in a stronger, firmer voice - more as the Tegan of old, the Tegan the Doctor knew well. ‘My Aunt Vanessa said when I became an air stewardess, “if you stop enjoying it, give it up.”'

At the mention of Tegan's late aunt, the Doctor recalled that fateful day on the Barnet bypass. It seemed so long ago, but somehow he still felt responsible for the incident. ‘Tegan...’ he began, trying to find the words to say.

She held up a silencing hand. ‘It's stopped being fun, Doctor. Goodbye.’ Tegan inverted her hand and extended it in a gesture of farewell.

The Doctor stared at his feet. Where were the words to make her stay? He raised his eyes once more and silently shook her hand.

‘Turlough.’

Turlough had been lingering in the background, never one to involve himself in emotional scenes. Now he moved forward and shook Tegan's hand firmly. Their eyes met, and a brief smile passed between them. Theirs had not always been the most amiable of relationships, but they'd been through things together which could not help but bring them close.

‘Goodbye,’ he said.

‘I'll miss you both,’ Tegan declared, taking the first hesitant steps away from them. She turned and hurried towards the exit.

The Doctor watched her go numbly. Every time a companion left, they took a little piece of himself with them. He thought of Nyssa, Romana, Sarah, Jo, Victoria and his own grand-daughter Susan. There had been so many farewells, but that had never made it any easier to bear the loss.

‘No!’ the Doctor shouted suddenly, surprising even himself.

Tegan hesitated near the door.

‘Don't leave,’ he pleaded. ‘Not like this.’

‘I must go,’ said Tegan firmly, looking back at the Time Lord for the last time. ‘I'm sorry. Goodbye.’ With that, she left.

The Doctor remained stock-still for what seemed to Turlough to last an eternity. It was as if time was standing still, waiting for the Doctor's cue to resume its course. Eventually he spoke.

‘It's... ah... strange,’ he muttered. ‘I left Gallifrey for similar reasons.’ He turned to Turlough as if hoping to elicit a response, but none was forthcoming. ‘I'd grown tired of their lifestyles...’ He paused again, gathering his thoughts. ‘It seems I must mend my ways,’ he said finally, offering the comment almost as an epitaph to their battle with the Daleks.

Turlough glanced around the warehouse, surveying the dead. The Doctor was shouldering too much of the blame for the death toll, but then he always did. Turlough recalled the Sea Base Four incident. The Doctor had felt personally responsible on that occasion as well, but there was no telling him otherwise. He was broken from his thoughts by a light tap on his shoulder.

‘Come along,’ said the Doctor with forced cheer, and then disappeared through the TARDIS doors.

Turlough took one last look around, and then followed him in, shutting the door behind him.

For a moment there was silence, shattered by the wheezing, groaning sound of the TARDIS's dematerialisation.

As the police box faded slowly from view, a figure burst back into the room and came to an abrupt halt as the square blue shape faded away and the last lingering whispers of the dematerialisation sound quickly followed.

Tegan had returned - but too late. ‘If' was a powerful word, as she recalled her father once telling her. Perhaps if she hadn't lingered, if she'd changed her mind moments earlier... These were questions Tegan failed to answer as she stood alone in the darkening room.

‘Brave heart, Tegan,’ she murmured, recalling the words the Doctor had said to her on many occasions. ‘Doctor, I will miss you.’

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