The Other Side

By Tavish J Fraser

Ace tuned her stereo through all the alternative music stations, through the stations that simply continuously emit obscene noises, through all the readings of poetry in alien languages, trying to find an Earth station. She was sitting on a large rock protruding from a sea of mud. On another rock nearby was the TARDIS, lying on another was the Doctor. After a while she gave up, and jumped over to the Doctor's rock.

‘I'm bored.’

The Doctor sat up. ‘Good. So am I.’ He leapt over to the TARDIS, and opened the door. ‘Come on.’

Ace grabbed her stereo, and followed.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor was setting the co-ordinates. ‘Where are we going, Professor?’

‘The planet Vergon. I've got unfinished business there. Very unfinished business. Rather strange tur- ah... people, the Vergonoids. Most of them, that is. I think.’

Saztax turned the volume of the farting noise the speakers were emitting up slightly, slowed it down momentarily, and then raised the pitch at the grand finale.

‘OK, well that's all from me, now I'm handing you over to Vogyat, who's got an all new sound premiere, the belch!’ He removed his headphones, and wiping the sweat from his forehead, walked out for a glass of water.

At the multicoloured RAD centre, a corps of surfing-gear clad turtle-oid guards filed past the window of the Head Cooldude.

‘Yo, Clarence, chill out! Sure thing, I know my pizzas gave you stomach trouble, but hey man... he hung up!’ he told the Vice-Head Cooldude.

As if in reply to this outrage, the TARDIS materialized in a corner. The Doctor stepped out.

‘Yo, Doc! How's things, dude?’

‘I'm all right. Meet my friend, Ace.’ Ace stepped forward. ‘Ace meet Wildstyle; Wildstyle, meet Ace. And this is - uh - I seem to have forgotten your name...’


‘Buzz, of course... sorry... this is-’

‘Yo, Ace.’

‘Uh... hi,’ she said surprisedly.

‘Rad gear, man.’

‘Oh... thanks.’

‘I need you to explain this planet in more detail, Wildstyle. Sorry I couldn't get here sooner, I had to save the Universe-’

‘But you only left five minutes ago!’

‘Did I? Oh, good.’

‘You're a strange dude, Doc.’

Suddenly, the phone rang. Buzz answered it.

‘They're - they're turtles!’ whispered Ace to the Doctor.

‘It was bound to happen somewhere,’ said the Doctor. ‘This may be the right time to tell you that two people on Earth, Eastman and Laird I think they call themselves, are really aliens.’

‘Woah, major bummer, dudes.’ He hung up, and then grabbed a microphone. ‘Yo, dudes and dudettes, listen up. There's like this mondo invasion coming up so get ready.’

‘But what's bogus, Buzz?’ asked Wildstyle.

‘It's these Cyber-dudes.’

‘Cybermen! Who told you this?’ exclaimed the Doctor.

‘This dude who called himself Saztax.’

In a corridor completely covered with a huge painting of a Hawaiian surfing scene, the Cybership had landed, completely burning out one end of the corridor. Ten Cybermen emerged, to be met immediately by turtles covered in skateboarding protective gear. Soon they were dodging laser fire on their turbo-powered skateboards. The Cybermen were quickly advancing, shouts of ‘Chill out dudes!’ having little effect on them.

Wildstyle, the Doctor and Ace observed from around a corner. One of the turtles was thrown back with a direct hit to his helmet. Wildstyle rushed up to him.

‘These dudes are a major bummer, man...’ croaked the dying turtle. Wildstyle laid him down.

‘All right. This calls for major action, dudes. We need... armed forces! C'mon, Buzz.’

The Doctor ignored him. ‘Gold, gold, I need gold,’ he muttered to himself.

‘Sure thing, Doc. I got just the thing.’ Buzz started towards the Pizza Parlour down the other end of the corridor. Wildstyle followed.

‘Are they all like this? Turtles, I mean?’

‘Yes. But I don't like this Cyber-invasion. I don't know of any possible reason for it. There's still so much I don't know about this place.

‘You see, this society is divided up into three main parts: the ‘youths’, the ‘adults’, and the ‘normal’ people. The youths are all turtles and the adults are rats. A few turtles who are found to be ‘gifted’ in tests given at an early age are sent to the rats to be taught different things. All the other turtles come here, and the rats disapprove of all this, and the normal people run it all. As far as I know. I think.’

‘I do not believe this. I simply do not believe this,’ muttered Ace under her breath.

‘Well, I must admit I may have omitted to update my personal database on all the social and cultural issues on this particular planet, and on this visit I hope to be able to attempt to obtain enough data to sufficiently fill any chronological gaps in the current entry with correct information,’ waffled the Doctor.

‘So you only know a little bit and you want to find out more,’ concluded Ace.


Suddenly, Wildstyle walked up nonchalantly, followed by Buzz and several other turtles. He pulled out a gold-plated pizza dish. Several other gold-plated pizza dishes were pulled out.


The pizza dishes were thrown one by one like Frisbees and the Cybermen began to fall one by one with pizza dishes embedded in their chests.

A few moments later the fight was over. ‘High five!’ Wildstyle's and Buzz's hands slammed together in front of their faces. They both came over to the Doctor and Ace.

Buzz stared at the dead Cybermen in awe.

‘Woah, dudes, what a mondo radical way to go, man.’

Saztax was sitting in his car worrying. Soon the Cybermen would find out about his betrayal. They would kill him... unless he could escape. He made a decision. He drove away.

The Doctor was pacing up and down.

‘Wildstyle, are you sure there's no reason for this attack?’

‘Yup. We never even heard of these Cyber-dudes.’

‘There must be some reason behind this attack, and we're going to find it. But first, the Cybermen don't accept defeat that easily. They'll be back, and we must be prepared.’

‘But how, Doc?’

‘H'mmm. Well... Do you have any spraypaint?’

‘Woah, dude, does a surfboard float?’

‘Good. Come on, Ace.’

Saztax walked through the doors of the RAD centre and was immediately confronted with halfpipes full of skateboarders; and the biggest feature - a huge beach simulation, with turtles surfing on simulated waves. He walked through the nearest corridor, looking for the Head Cooldude.

Wildstyle showed the Doctor and Ace the spraypaint.

‘Thank you very much,’ said the Doctor. Wildstyle went over to Buzz and their friends.

‘There's something wrong, isn't there, Professor.’

‘Yes,’ said the Doctor, searching through the spraycans.

‘There's something about this place...’ She wondered about the Doctor, fumbling about with the spraycans.

‘Aha, found it!’ announced the Doctor. Ace was deep in thought. ‘Come on, Ace, we must waste no more time.’ He walked briskly back to the corridor.

The Doctor was just putting the finishing touches on an elaborate trap when Ace arrived. A tripwire, coloured orange for camouflage, was suspended across the corridor, and connected to the triggers of several strategically-placed cans painted in several different vibrant colours. Also connected to the tripwire was an array of still-warm pizzas, hung on the ceiling.

‘The strangest trap I've ever laid, but it'll do considering the lack of materials.’ The Doctor peered away to the end of the corridor.

‘Look out, here they come!’ He rushed behind the corner. The Cybermen quickly covered the area with their guns.

‘There are human life-forms near,’ commented the CyberColonel, ‘possibly around that corner.’

‘Advance,’ ordered the CyberLieutenant. The Cybermen walked slowly forward, guns at the ready.

‘Get ready!’ whispered the Doctor urgently. The CyberLieutenant was coming near to the tripwire. Ace poised herself to leap forward.

The CyberLieutenant's foot touched the tripwire. Paint was sprayed all over the surprised Cybermen, and suddenly pizzas started to fall on their heads.

Saztax rushed into Wildstyle's Office.

‘Quick - where's the Doctor?’

‘He went to see some of the rats,’ answered Buzz

Saztax ran off without another word.

On the mother ship, the CyberLeader had just heard of the defeat on the planet.

‘We've been betrayed. Saztax must be killed. Locate him.’

‘There is too much interference. We cannot find him.’ Announced the CyberOperator after a few moments.

‘I should have known. His powers protect him. So he escapes for now. But he will be killed when we attack the RAD centre again We will not be defeated.’

The Doctor and Ace were driving down the road in a sports car with surfboards tied on the back. Ace was driving with one hand on the wheel and the other laid down on the back of the seat. Beach Boys style music was bursting from the speakers.

‘Are you sure you know how to drive, Ace?’

‘Course I know how to drive. Not that I've got a license or anything, but-’



‘Oh, don't worry.’ The Doctor rubbed his chin, deep in thought. This was one of the strangest situations he had ever been in. There had to be some reason for the Cyber-attack. And he intended to find out.

Suddenly, he felt an immense power nearby. He looked around him, and focused on a small blue mini.

Saztax stared back at him for a few moments, and then averted his eyes and turned down a side road.

‘Quick! Ace! Down that road!’ The sports car swerved into the road with a screech of brakes.

Saztax's car was stopped beside a park bench, and Saztax himself was sitting on it. The Doctor and Ace screeched to a halt in front of him.

‘He's human...’ said Ace.

‘Yes.’ The Doctor leapt out and jogged over to Saztax. ‘I felt your power. You must tell me why the Cybermen are attacking.’ Saztax looked at him.

‘Our power is stronger than any other in the Universe. We are immortal. If we wanted, we could rule the Universe. But we don't want to. We have all made a vow never to use it. We just want to live here without being disturbed. Unfortunately, the Cybermen found out. They want it. I - I...’ He faltered momentarily. ‘I betrayed them. I helped the Cybermen, in return for my life.’ Suddenly, his voice hardened with determination. ‘I'm going to stop them.’

‘Saztax - tell me. What is your power?’ Saztax's face was blank.

‘Saztax! You must listen to me! These people are going to be killed unless you tell me!’ the Doctor yelled in his ear. He did not bat an eyelid.

‘He can't hear you.’ Ace waved a hand in front of his face. There was no response. ‘See?’

Slowly, Saztax stood up and walked to his car.

‘Professor, I think I-’

‘No time, Ace. No time. Come on.’ He ran over to the car. With a sigh, she followed.

‘We will attack in thirty Vergonian minutes. This time, I will supervise the attack myself. We will not be defeated. It is imperative that we gain control of the power,’ the CyberLeader commanded.

‘Would it not be logical to find out more first?’ queried the CyberLieutenant.

‘You do not know how much we know. We will attack.’

‘Yes, Leader.’

The two cars, the Doctor and Ace's, and Saztax's, pulled up outside the RAD centre. Saztax calmly got out, and walked briskly up to the door. The Doctor and Ace had to jog to keep up.

‘I'm going to stop them,’ Saztax announced solemnly.

‘And how do you propose to do that?’ queried the Doctor.

‘I'm going to stop them,’ Saztax repeated.

‘It's no use, Doctor. He's like a stuck record.’

‘Yes...’ the Doctor said thoughtfully.

‘But why doesn't he just use his powers?’

‘He can't. He made a vow not to. I should think that there would be some sort of way to enforce that.’

‘So the people with this power are controlled by some force that would kill them or something if they used it...’


‘And therefore, it's totally useless to the Cybermen. Unless-’

‘Unless they could stop whatever controls it!’ completed the Doctor. ’Brilliant, Ace.’

He ran up to Saztax, who was now through the doors. ‘Saztax,’ he said, ‘you said that you made a vow not to use this power of yours. How is this enforced?’

Saztax stopped and stared at him. ‘I - I...’

He tried to force the words out, but each time ended up screwing up his face in pain.

‘Whatever controls it must want to hide itself. In fact I'm surprised that he managed to tell us anything.’ Saztax was sitting on a seat, slowly shaking his head.

‘But how did the Cybermen find out?’ said Ace.

‘The only possible answer would seem to be... that they didn't.’ Ace thought for a moment. Slowly, a grin spread across her face. She pushed the Doctor aside.

‘Give me a go.’ She pulled one of the silver aerosol cans containing nitro out of her pocket. She held it up to Saztax, who was shrinking away in fear, with her hand on the valve. ‘Tell us, or you'll be all over the walls.’

The Doctor knocked the can out of her hand, despite the fact that Saztax seemed about to answer. ‘Ace! What are you doing?’

‘Don't you see? That's how the Cybermen found out.’

The Doctor considered for a moment. Suddenly, Wildstyle leapt at them and pushed them out of the way of a laser shot.

‘Cybermen,’ he hissed.

At the opposite end of the corridor, Cybermen were advancing, leaving a trail of death and destruction behind them.

The Doctor looked up worriedly. He wasn't prepared for this. He didn't know enough to defeat the Cybermen. The people on this planet certainly wouldn't have a chance. This time the Cybermen might just gain control of this strange power, and then... he didn't like to think. He had to try one more time to get something out of the electric monk-like Saztax.


‘The door is this way.’ Saztax stood up and walked over to a wall. ‘Come on, Doctor.’

‘But there's nothing there,’ pointed out the Doctor.

‘Yes there is. The door is the way.’ Saztax opened an imaginary door, and walked straight into the wall, falling back apparently unconscious.

The Doctor rushed up to check him, and to his surprise his hand went straight through him. But he had no time to investigate further, as the Cybermen had by then reached them and were attempting to kill them.

‘Where's Buzz?’ yelled Wildstyle.

Ace risked it and grabbed the can of nitro, managing to subdue them for a while. She ran up to the Doctor.

‘What happened to him?’ She pointed at Saztax.

‘I don't know.’ Suddenly, he realized the truth in what he thought earlier about electric monks. There was no way he could know what was about to hit him.

He was hit with the full force of a blast from a Cyber-gun. The force of the blast threw him several metres across the room, crashing against the wall, unconscious.

Wildstyle looked an in horror as the Doctor's body slowly began to melt away, his face bubbling and splurting like boiling toffee.

The source of this blast was a new Cyberman weapon. It was large and tube-like, with several small rectangular boxes protruding from it. It was attached to a Cyberman at the chest, with thin wires leading from the boxes to the head of the Cyberman.

This was far superior to anything the Vergonians had. It had soon removed all traces of opposition, killing several Vergonoids in the process.

Ace simply stared at the charred remains of the Doctor's body, letting everything happen around her. She could not believe what had just happened. She looked up. Nothing seemed real, she could not believe anything that was happening. She shook her head, clearing her grief for the Doctor. That could come later. Right now she had to deal with this situation.

She looked around herself. The Cybermen had already started to establish a base in the corridor. They were unloading electronic equipment and weapons. Most of the survivors were being taken away to be turned into Cybermen. Wildstyle was being questioned.

‘Where is Saztax?’ said the CyberLeader. Two Cybermen were holding Wildstyle with his arms bent behind his back.

‘I told you, man. I don't know.’ The CyberLeader considered this for a moment.

‘This is the truth?’

‘Yeah, man, I keep telling you.’

‘It seems you won't co-operate. Kill him.’ Ace decided to interfere at this moment.

‘No! Don't kill him!’ The CyberLeader turned to her in surprise. ‘I - I can tell you... he's dead.’ She pointed to the inert body of Saztax.

The CyberLeader considered for a moment. ‘Put them in a holding cell. We will deal with them later.’ The Cybermen grabbed Ace and took them both inside the ship.

A huge reflector dish was placed directly underneath the hole in the ceiling the Cybership had made to enter the building. The Doctor's charred skeleton, still unnoticed, disappeared.

Ace and Wildstyle were led around the side of the craft to a cage-like piece of twisted, burnt metal. They were thrown in, and the gap in the front was soldered up.

The Cybermen were connecting their craft to the building's power supply. Ace slumped down in a corner. The Doctor was dead. She was going to die. This was not the end she had anticipated.

The Doctor was alive. He was swept down a whirlpool of images all dispersing and mixing. His mind was stretched over infinity, his life compressed into an atom. He was hurled through a rubbery wall and found himself... His mind slowly stopped boggling and began to react.

He stood up. He was a black figure on a black background with a black border. Saztax was standing in front of him. He could not see or hear anything. Another sense had taken over and was now telling him that Saztax was there and talking.

‘Saztax! Where - where are we?’ Saztax was surprised to see him.

‘Doctor! How did you get here? You were going to die... unless he...’

‘Who's he? What is this? Where are we?’

‘This is the power. A Universe to escape to when you die, and leave to be back in the same place alive. Immortality. We have lived on this planet since the beginning of time. Our culture has not changed. Nothing has changed. The other people who live here live and die as normal. They know no other way of living. But then they came.’

‘Who are they?’

Saztax looked at him coldly. ‘You will soon find out.’

Buzz watched these goings-on from inside the air conditioning system. When the Cybership had landed he had run down the corridor and crawled into an air vent. He was now planning on getting Ace and Wildstyle free.

He pulled his body forward another couple of metres. A few metres ahead of him was a grating, opening out onto the corridor. And standing right below this was a Cyberman. Buzz braced himself, holding his breath. Slowly, he inched forward. He was right in front of the grating when suddenly a blast of cold air caught him unawares, blowing him up against the side. He dived forward just as the Cyberman turned to investigate the noise.

Slowly, his heart started to beat again. He crawled forward another few metres, and peered down through the grating in front of him, at Ace and Wildstyle encaged below.

‘Pssst! Wildstyle!’ he hissed. Wildstyle spun around.

‘Buzz!’ he exclaimed.

‘Ssssssh! Listen, you see that guard? Try to lure him over here.’

Wildstyle sprung into action. ‘Yo! Tinhead! Suck on this!’ He threw a piece of twisted metal at the Cyberman. It struck him on the back of the neck. The Cyberman clutched at his neck, and spun around angrily. He advanced on them slowly, gun raised.

The grating was thrust out from the air vent behind him, and Buzz leapt out. The Cyberman spun around and fired wildly at him. Buzz dived at the Cyberman, the shots barely missing him. He careered into him, slamming him against the cage.

Ace and Wildstyle grabbed the Cyberman's arms. Buzz took his gun, and whacked him over the head with it. Ace and Wildstyle released his arms. Buzz dragged him behind a pile of scrap metal and buried him in it.

‘How do I get you dudes out of there?’ Buzz asked them.

‘I dunno,’ said Wildstyle. ‘They soldered the opening up. There isn't any key.’ Buzz cursed under his breath. He raised the gun.

‘Stand away from the door.’

‘Buzz, no!’ He fired. The makeshift soldering immediately melted and fell away. But the sound alerted every Cyberman for a mile around.

A nearby Cyberman ran from around the corner, and shot Buzz full in the back.

The Doctor carried on behind Saztax. In this ‘Universe’ there was no physical or mental contact with anything. Something told you that you were moving or somebody was saying something.

‘Doctor, how pleasant to see you.’ The voice sounded strangely familiar.

‘The Valeyard,’ he breathed.

‘Quite. I sensed your presence down there. You were in a bit of trouble, I believe. Problems with the Cybermen?’

‘Yes. I wish they were the only ones here. Now Ace has to deal with them.’

‘Oh really, Doctor, are you still worrying about them? You don't need them any more.’


‘Conceited little bugger, isn't he?’


‘Don't worry, Doctor, he can't hear us.’

Wildstyle ran over to Buzz. His back had been completely blown away, leaving his flesh exposed almost to the ribs.

‘Wildstyle! Quick!’ Ace ran desperately for Wildstyle's office. Wildstyle followed.

In the office, they both entered the TARDIS. Ace ran straight to her room, Wildstyle right behind her.

‘Don't worry, they can't get in.’ She grabbed six cans of nitro-nine concealed under a pile of dirty underwear on her chest of drawers. She made for the door.

‘Wait on, where're you going?’

‘Outside. I'm going to blow them up.’

‘So you say that we are now in a separate timeline from the one I've just come from.’ The Doctor was talking to Saztax.

‘Yes. Before, we could come and go as we pleased. There was the gatemaster, who let us in, and controlled the flow in and out. But then he came.’ He nodded towards the Valeyard. ‘And killed the gatemaster. He now only lets people in in desperate circumstances.’

‘Why did you betray your people to the Cybermen? You led a perfectly good life. You don't need to come here that much, anyway.’

‘I betrayed my people because I thought the Cybermen wouldn't use it for his purposes.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘He thinks he can rule the Universe with it.’

‘You're crazy. You'll be killed as well.’

‘So? The Doctor's dead. I can't get out of here. I'm probably going to die anyway. I'm the perfect one for the job. My life has no point.’


‘Round up everyone in the centre and get them into the TARDIS. They'll be safe in here.’

‘OK. Goodbye, Ace.’

‘Goodbye.’ Ace walked out the door.


‘But Doctor, I've got to. There's no other way.’

‘No. I'm not having you going around killing people.

‘But the Valeyard is evil. If he isn't killed, he'll try to use this place as a weapon. He doesn't realize the consequences.’

‘Consequences? What consequences?’

‘He wants to conquer the Universe with an unkillable army. This timeline is rather small. With his plans, there is a large possibility of an overload. Too many people, and the thin wall that divides the timelines would be broken and the two would leak into each other, and...’

‘There goes the Universe...’

‘So you can see why we must kill the Valeyard.’

‘No, we still can't. You see... the Valeyard is me.’

Buzz was nearly there. He felt he could do it, though he had never done it before. In fact it had never been done by a cross-over. He was the offspring of a person with the ability to travel into the alternative Universe and one of without. It had been kept a secret always, and he had been accepted by the turtles at the RAD centre. And now he was struggling for his life.

‘I don't understand,’ began Saztax.

‘Don't worry about it. There is another way.’


‘You say he completely destroyed another Universe to get here?’


‘Well, if we could send him back through the gap he made and trap him in the void of the destroyed Universe...’

‘I know how to do it.’


Buzz was nearly through. He concentrated all his energy on the task of penetrating the thin but strong wall that separated the Universes. He had already left the real Universe, and was now on his way to the new one. Slowly, the wall gave way, letting him through bit by bit, easing him slowly further...

And he was through. He felt the Valeyard take over his senses, telling him everything about the world he needed to know. He looked about in wonder.

‘Ah, Buzz! How pleasant to see you!’

Buzz glanced around in surprise. ‘Doctor! How did you get here?’

‘I'll tell you that later. Right now we need your help with disposing of the Valeyard.’

Ace stepped out of the TARDIS, and watched Cybermen being distributed around the office. She crawled out the door and slowly edged her way around the corner. She took one of the cans, and set it.

She leapt out in front of the Cybermen. ‘Catch!’ She threw the can to one of the Cybermen. It clattered at his feet. She ran desperately, scattering cans as widely as possible.

She came to the ship. She threw cans into the door, dodging laser fire from guards. Quickly she threw the CyberLeader a can.

‘Try and stop me now, you bastards.’

‘Valeyard! Listen carefully! I am going to count to ten. By the time I get to ten, I want you gone, and I want you to release control to Saztax. One.’

The Valeyard made no move. A look of amusement slowly formed on his face.

‘Two. Three. Four.’

Saztax and Buzz readied their minds.

‘Five. Six. Seven.’

‘This is a silly game, Doctor. Stop it.’

‘Eight. Nine. Ten. Now!’

Saztax and Buzz focused all their attention on the wound in the separating wall that the Valeyard created, trying to open it again. There was an unearthly screeching sound and a horrible explosion of light as a tiny rip opened up in the separating wall. It began to suck the Valeyard into the opposite Universe.

‘No!’ The Valeyard screamed in pain as his consciousness was stretched through the gap. With horror, the Doctor saw the Valeyard struggling desperately to escape, like a puppy trying to free himself of a strangling noose. The Doctor and Buzz managed to close the gap again, leaving a scar in the wall.

Slowly, the three of them relaxed.

‘Thanks, Doctor. I've got everything under control, now. I won't let that happen again.’

‘Right. Now you be careful of that weak spot. Take care of yourselves. Goodbye...’

The Doctor was catapulted straight through the separating wall towards the real Universe. Suddenly, he remembered about the Cybermen. He wondered how Ace had handled them.

And then he was through. He found himself in a huge crater scattered with rubble. The TARDIS stood alone on a hillock in the centre.

‘Ace, Ace, Ace. Haven't I told you enough times to leave those explosives alone? Tch, tch, tch.’

He strolled over to the TARDIS and unlocked it. Wildstyle burst out, followed by around a hundred other turtles, and dashed for the edge of the crater.

‘Ace!’ The Doctor entered the TARDIS. ‘Ace!’ He looked in her room.

‘Ace! Where are you?’

He walked outside. The crater...


This item appeared in Timestreams 3 (August 1991).

Index nodes: Fiction