Apocalypse of the Daleks
By Craig Young
The Real World: A Few Months From... Now.
Chris Hunter sauntered down Columbo Street, checking his watch. The latest supply of comics had turned up at Calliope Comicshop and it had taken the usual amount of time to get the money from United, walk back to the place and pay. No, still a couple of hours before Doctor Who started. He still had time to return the mag to Ron, currently waiting in the Square and having some sport heckling the fundamentalists.
Him and Simone, though, he couldn't believe it. He should really have been more careful. Past the sex shop and that tacky female mannequin... one of the staff from Plimsolls waved at him, he'd worked there about five years ago... hmm, was it worth it to drop into the Capricorn again, they just might have unpacked that new shipment and he did have that Sontag book on long-standing order. No, he decided, Ron's been getting a little shirty lately.
It was reasonably placid in Cathedral Square, large sheets of overhead grey cloud aside. Ron was busily necking with his wife of a few weeks. His friends had been surprised that he'd actually done something as conventional as marry someone. Little did they know how open this relationship was - well, for him, anyway. It was a reasonable cross-section of humanity - a feminist was having a blazing row with a male fundamentalist over abortion, Hare Krishnas clattered through the Square intoning their mantra, a drunk was getting hauled away by the cops for obscene language. A mother cat escorted her five kittens through the grass verge. Chris noticed it and bent down to stroke the feline, which luxuriated under the attention. It was a normal winter's day.
That instant marked the dividing point between normality and horror for that world. Chris would later remark that he noticed the reaction of the cats first, an instant before the deafening roar became apparent. Their mother hissed - not at him, but at something that he couldn't see as yet. Then the cats ran from the area, as a darker shadow than cloud fell across them.
He knew what they were. For an instant, he stood transfixed in amazement, then recognised that this would be a foolish reaction to prolong. Dust blew up as the spacecraft landed. He began to run as a Press photographer arrived on the scene.
‘Must be a TVNZ popularity stunt.’
Simone nodded. ‘Yeah, it's just like a Dalek spaceship from Remembrance of the Daleks. Wonder how they did it, it must have cost a fortune.’
‘You know something about the series, then?’
‘Ronny... my husband sets out the Doctor Who club magazine. He's from the Press.’
‘Could I get a shot of you outside the model, sir?’
Ron shook his head. He pulled Simone away as the door began to open, but both of them were much too close. The eye-aching white pulse of light hit them first as the photographer grimly realised that this was not a promotion stunt - but as the first Dalek emerged into the light of day, he had already been selected as their next target.
Within the next five hours, the Daleks had attacked every major urban area on Earth.
One glided past a demolished house, where the television was beginning to intone the familiar theme music. A second later, the set blew apart as the image of the Doctor began to appear.
Lagrangian Point Five: Fifteen Years On.
Dan Pauling looked up from the chart, his expression one of weariness and high fatigue. The klaxon sounded and he swivelled to face his second-in-command. Fighter squadron leader Mark Stalker stepped from the portal and slumped into a chair.
‘How was it this time?’
Stalker replied bleakly. ‘We got Haig. They... took out three of our craft. Dan, I was handed a report on the total resistance capacity.’
Dan ran a hand through his hair, flecks of grey beginning to show through the red. How long ago their innocent days in the New Zealand Doctor Who Appreciation Society seemed to them both now, he and his offsider for all these years. He forced his mind back to the status report.
‘This includes the Bombay Hills Groundstrike bases?’
‘Pete and Jim called in with them. It's now or never, Dan.’
Dan turned to his longtime friend. ‘You're still in favour of the Iris Project, aren't you?’
‘I know you feel protective about Feral, but...’
‘Look around you, Mark. If it wasn't for Chris Hunter's political knowledge, his left-wing understandings of guerilla groups, we'd all have died in the first months, and the Daleks would have occupied our world. We've held them to a stalemate.
He died to buy us time to get away to this area. She's a fifteen year-old-’
Dan sighed. ‘All right, Mark. Ironic, isn't it, though? We have our childhood hero to blame for all this. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have to be doing this. We could have had normal lives, married, had kids. Not watched our friends die. So many... Chris, Ron, Simone...’
‘That's another reason for letting Feral go. Doesn't she have a right to revenge on the Daleks for killing her father? And the technology was suggested by him...’
Mark stifled a yawn. ‘Have you had any sleep yet, Dan? No, I thought not. Stop driving yourself so hard, you're on the verge of collapse.’
The fighter pilot headed from the room as his commander looked out into the blackness beyond the Earth/Moon system. Mark was right, Feral was almost a woman. Chris would be so proud of his daughter, if only he'd lived to see her now. He picked up a photograph from ten years ago, the central command of T.A.R.D.I.S., the Terran Armed Resistance, Defense and Intelligence Services.
And from fatigue and loss, he wept for friends gone and the loss of innocence.
The Fifth Dimension: The Interior Of The TARDIS.
The Doctor closed the door of his craft, still in a state of shock after Tree's angry denunciation of his behaviour during the Verodeshki Incident. The part about him being a soulless alien had hurt deeply. Were they the results of post-regeneration instability - but months after he'd regenerated into his eighth incarnation, though? No, he'd had to destroy the Central Computer - cyberspace interfacing in the hands of a decadent, violent culture like that...
Didn't she think he'd had nightmares about it? Familiar ones at that, ones that he'd thought safely buried. Skaro. Why the dominant world that had spread its malignancy from its native Seventh Galaxy, why the fretted outcrops of incandescent radioactive rock amidst the nebula that had once composed its primary? It wasn't concern for the Thals, they'd fled the planet centuries ago.
The loneliness on the control deck felt almost oppressive, indicative of foreboding. He felt a familiar prickling sensation, a feeling of surveillance. Why had the Valeyard's image kept recurring during that dream?
The plasma bolt, from the corridor, abruptly ended his self-reflection. He locked the deck doors and triggered the internal defense systems. Damn it, they should have acted to prevent unauthorised entry - then he stared as the screen erupted into static. In rapid succession, so did the other visual displays on the central console. He tried to initiate architectural configuration shift - and failed, again. A simultaneous systems breakdown was impossible, not after he'd had the vessel recalibrated during its last excursion to Gallifrey.
He was powerless to prevent a plasma bolt destroying the corridor into the control deck. A young teenage woman stepped through it. She was dressed in a late twentieth-century youth subculture outfit (Goth? Yes, that was it.) and wielded a blaster that was totally at odds with that.
‘Who the hell are you, and why have you disabled the TARDIS? What are you doing here, and how did you get onboard?’
‘The name's Feral, Doctor. Easy enough, for my people-’
‘Who exactly are ‘we’, then? Are you a traitor or pawn in the plans of an enemy?’
Feral circled around him. Her tone dropped. ‘Not me, Doctor. If there was any betrayal, it was you.’
‘I don't like vague accusations. And if you're a time-traveller, you'll know that I can not be held legally liable for events that occur in my own future.’
‘No, I didn't know that. But no, I'm not from your future either.’
‘What am I supposed to have done?’
Feral sighed. She didn't share the T.A.R.D.I.S. respect for this threatening man, and his role in the tragedy that had befallen her world was serious enough, even if it was indirect at worst. ‘Daleks.’
‘I see. You must be from the alternate 22nd Century that I encountered once. Now, tell me-’
‘You are in no position to give orders, Doctor. The Service needs you, I've been assigned to get you to assist us. Forcibly, if necessary.’
Provoked, the Doctor decided he'd had enough threats from this intruder, and kicked the blaster from her hand. He meant to quickly disarm the woman who would have no way to understand Venusian Aikido. But to his shock, the young woman blocked his move and seemed to know the martial art, as well as vulnerable points on his alien anatomy. As they fought, a plastic card fell from the woman's pocket.
‘What is it?’
‘An acronym, TARDIS, an icon of this craft? I'm sorry... I jumped to conclusions, calm down.’
She nodded and did not attempt to retrieve her blaster.
‘Can I ask you again, what you're doing here, and what this has to do with the Daleks?’
‘I'm not sure I can trust you, Doctor. Your sixth incarnation was quite emotionally unstable, and as for the Valeyard...’
‘You have detailed knowledge of my activities and even my future. How and why?’
‘What would you expect from the daughter of a member of the New Zealand Doctor Who Appreciation Society?’
The Doctor frowned. His existence was not that widely known on Earth - suspicions were starting to percolate within his mind, as Feral checked her chronometer.
‘The effect should have subsided by now. Let's consult your data retrieval systems.’ She requested the entries on the TARDIS console's sidetrip into the alternate 1970 of a fascist Britain which had been transformed by uncontrolled scientific abuse into an inferno; and species on Skaro as well.
The Doctor snapped his fingers. ‘Got it.’
‘Then tell me why I'm here.’
‘You're from an alternate universe, one which has some connection with me judging from what you've just said, although I can't imagine what. You became aware of me somehow, and you need me. Is it... an invasion from your own universe's Skaro, Feral?’
She sighed. ‘Close, Doctor, but we're running out of time.’ Before the Doctor could stop her, Feral had cross-matched data retrieval systems with the TARDIS navigational computers, and synthesized the two references. The craft shook abruptly as its systems erupted with information.
Slowly, the TARDIS phased out of its native universe.
Lagrangian Point Five: Fifteen Years On, Above The Real World.
As he stepped through, the observation windows immediately alerted the Doctor to his orbital location and that was obviously Earth. But the star patterns... absences, additions, displacements, survivals. It had to be an alternate universe.
‘I'm glad you made it back safely, Feral. We were getting worried.’
‘The Doctor proved unco-operative at first.’ She glared at him, and he replied.
‘I might as well tell you, I don't like being press-ganged. There'd better be a good reason for this.’
‘There is. Play him the video, Mark.’
The Doctor's bewilderment subsided as he watched the events unfold. Apparently, here, he was nothing more than a television character. No Time Lords existed here, nor was there any alternate version of his nemeses from a native universe. That was what the T.A.R.D.I.S. organisation had thought at first as well, that these Daleks came from their own Skaro - until capture of Dalek technology enabled them to discover than no such world existed here.
The television episodes that he watched were an exact reproduction of what had actually happened on his own world and what he had experienced - as well as accounting for events that he knew nothing about during the same period. They were even filed with the same names that he'd allocated to their actual counterparts in the TARDIS Log.
Fascinated, he watched the events of Remembrance of the Daleks unfold and relived his seventh incarnation's encounter with this planet's invaders for the first time. The frame froze on his use of the Hand of Omega against Skaro's primary and the destruction of the Dalek homeworld.
Mark said darkly: ‘That's when it began for us.’
The horror of dawning realisation began to envelop the Doctor as Dan sat alongside him.
‘Look, we all know that you had no other option in those circumstances than to use the Hand in that manner rather than allowing it to fall under the control of either Dalek faction.
‘From what we've been able to discover and deduce, that was interpreted by the Daleks themselves as an act of escalation. We believe that at some point, the survivors of the Skaro nova decided to avoid your universe altogether.’
‘How is that possible? They only have rudimentary time transit skills...’
Feral shook her head. ‘No, Doctor, they don't. Remember, you told Davros all of their future defeats during the Time Lord-sponsored mission to Skaro to wipe them out. Why the hell you didn't follow orders then is beside the point. That included your third incarnation's travel to an alternate 22nd Century as well.’
‘Why this world, then?’
‘Because you're only television images here, Doctor. Fortunately though, you're also a legend and a unifying symbol against the Daleks,’ replied Mark.
Feral intensely disliked this adulation. ‘Commander, request dismissal.’
‘Granted.’ The Doctor watched as she stalked from the room.
‘What happened then?’ asked the Time Lord.
The two men told a story of their assembly of the New Zealand Doctor Who Appreciation Society's survivors and Chris Hunter's suggestions about guerilla activity. It had soon become apparent that this invasion was not intended as a scorched-earth offensive - Earth's conservative political leaders welcomed the chance to shore up their flagging authority and collaborated with the Daleks.
Dan had suggested the name T.A.R.D.I.S. for the resistance movement, and it seemed to be perversely appropriate. They stole or shot it out for Dalek technology, which would place them on a par with their adversaries in terms of capability if not numbers. In those societies where the Doctor's exploits had been screened, resistance was fierce - and as a result, over the last fifteen years, they had been pushed back to America and Britain.
‘I'd like to meet this Hunter fellow. Sounds an interesting man...’
‘That's not possible, Doctor. He died trying to buy us time to escape with the materials to construct this place.’
‘He's Feral's father.’
No wonder she seemed to hate him so much, her father and this world had suffered for his mistakes. ‘It's my fault.’
‘No, Doctor, we don't blame you. You could never have anticipated that the Daleks would do this.’
One day, the T.A.R.D.I.S. had discovered that the Daleks were not part of their own universe, and set about trying to breach the barriers that separated the Daleks' home probability from their own. They soon discovered that the Daleks' capacity was not present through resupply, as there was no staging point from the home universe that could have provided it with the loss of Skaro. They had set up a fabrication site that worked for them instead.
Preliminary visual contact was made with the Daleks' native universe and two years ago, the first holographic images from their primitive time-scanners had penetrated the unknown for the first time. In doing so, they had located the present incarnation of the Doctor. Attempts at contact were made, but failed. Then a breakthrough was made, and the T.A.R.D.I.S. could send matter across the interuniversal void.
In London, Supreme Commander Whitehouse saluted the Emperor Dalek.
‘Resistance continues, Emperor. The city is still resistant to our forces to a large extent and unless I have more Dalek detachments...’
‘I will not do so, Supreme Commander. Your own resistance forces should be adequate for the task.’
‘I obey,’ Whitehouse replied as she turned and left.
At the T.A.R.D.I.S. base, the Doctor was now largely satisfied, except for one point. ‘Why did the Daleks select this universe?’
‘There are no major interstellar empires here. Our guess is that they want to be able to accumulate resources unimpeded, until they can possess the capacity to swarm back into your own universe and conquer it. As well as others, who knows?’
The Doctor nodded. He was now confronted with a painful set of options. His failure to destroy the Daleks at their genesis, his use of the Hand of Omega against Skaro, his miscalculation of Dalek technological capacity - all had contributed to the suffering and oppression that this world had gone through. Because of him, the Daleks had escalated the age-old war between them to this point, and... this was their last stand. Either it would be humanity in this universe that succumbed, or the last remnants of the Daleks. Hobson's choice of genocides.
But if left unchecked, the Daleks would lay waste to this universe and then return to his own and others, practically unstoppable. Even if he hadn't felt a moral obligation for causing this situation in part, the potential here was to apparent to ignore.
‘All right, I'll do it,’ replied the Time Lord.
Several minutes later, he stood on the control deck of his own TARDIS, which was acting as a troop carrier. He reset the navigational co-ordinates to this universe, then began to accumulate the planet's surviving resistance forces in a series of short hops across this Earth's surface.
Then the TARDIS disgorged its complement, in the United States against the Dalek forces centred in the Pentagon, White House and Capitol; and then, on to the BBC studios in the Dalek stronghold in London.
The surprise attack took the human collaborators completely by surprise. Supreme Commander Mary Whitehouse and her lackey, the sadistic Jim Norton-Titmuss, fell in the first minutes, along with the rest of their ill-trained and undersupplied troops, derisively named ‘The Happiness Patrol’ by the resistance.
Then they fought the Daleks themselves, as Feral and the Doctor penetrated deeper into the complex. They made an odd, tense duo as the sounds of activity from the nerve centre drew closer as a Dalek rounded the corner. Feral hit it with an antisonic pulse from her blaster, but its companion raked her shoulder.
‘I'll... be alright, go and end this madness once and for all.’
The central complex's apex showed a familiar enough sight - Davros, obscenely withered and encased in his Emperor Dalek protective shell. He was reaching forward to activate what the Doctor realised in horror was a cobalt-salted thermonuclear weapon. He remembered his very first encounter with them, the lie that the Daleks were the product of a neutron bomb initiated mutation. Had Davros been responsible for that lie, was this event the distorted and equally genocidal cause behind it?
He swallowed and realised what he must do. In the corridor behind him, there was a sudden scream of pain, and his finger clenched the touchplate - and this time, the power lanced through the Dalek creator, severely wounding him, perhaps mortally. The ancient figure of evil let out an inhuman screech of pain and surprise - and the Doctor then wondered whether he was recalling the time his fifth incarnation had faced him on the Earth he knew, and had refused to pull the trigger then.
As he stepped out from hiding a tracery of Dalek particle beams scorched the metal and plastic behind him; but it became obvious as he ran towards the podium that contained Davros that the alien cyborgs were firing autistically, probably due to egotism. Ignoring the stench of burning, aged and decayed flesh, the Doctor thrust a plastic pole into the circuitry boards of the detonator device, averting the catastrophe that would have awaited.
One Dalek slowly raised its eyestalk toward him, and brought up its blaster stick to fire at the Time Lord - but then its indicator light went out, and it froze into the immobility of death. Acrid green smoke began to curl from it as the mutant Kaled inside started to asphyxiate as its life-support systems shut down.
Around him, the Doctor heard the sounds of combat fade into the night. Only the dying metallic rasp of Davros was dissonant. He turned. ‘Do you recognise me?’
‘Another incarnation, Doctor. Damn you, this will not avail you. The Daleks... will rise from the grave, somehow.’
‘Why, Davros? Why lay waste to this world, some monstrously perverted sense of balance? You have no more forces left, and you know it. It's over this time, once and for all.’
The scarred, withered face turned a tortured green visual sensor toward him. ‘And you presume to act as judge, jury and executioner? You have committed genocide, Doctor, you have wiped out what was left of an entire race. You dare to act as my moral superior?’
‘I will never be your equal, Davros, thank Rassilon. You and the monsters that you created in your image lived only for power and wanton destruction. Yes, I have wiped out the Daleks now, as I did the Vervoids before them. At least I am capable of feeling guilt.’
He stepped back as Davros ignited in suicide. The Daleks' commander would at least deny the victorious T.A.R.D.I.S. the ignominy of a War Criminals trial. The Doctor turned and left the smoking corpse. Around him were the frozen metal forms of Daleks. One was blocking his way to the exits, and he pushed it over. It made a dead, metallic echo as it hit the floor.
It symbolised the end of an era. Davros was dead. The Daleks were extinct.
Dreading what he would find, he ran to the corridor, the point where he'd left Feral. He knelt beside her hideously burnt body. ‘I'll get you to the TARDIS, I have medical facilities...’
‘It's... no good, Doctor, I'm done for... I don't want to live on and on, like the mockery that created those things in there... but you did it.’
‘Yes, Feral, I destroyed an entire species.’
‘Don't, Doctor... I can see why the others respect you so much. I... do, too. Thank you... for freeing this world...’
‘If it hadn't been for your people's efforts, it wouldn't have been possible.’
‘Your myth sustained... us. I'm so glad... I had the chance to meet the man behind it. It is... justified.’
Her head fell back, and the Doctor clutched his lifeless companion's body to his own as he began to cry. The others found him like that five minutes later.
He stayed to watch the establishment of a planetary government, the imprisonment of collaborators, monuments to the survivors - then he boarded his TARDIS and left the painful memories of this world to its ghosts - all who had died in resistance, the civilian casualties of the initial invasion, Davros, the Daleks, Feral...
But would the child-woman-warrior ever leave him?
The Doctor inverted the earlier navigational directions and faded from the alien universe, unconvinced he was worthy of his mythic status.
He landed the TARDIS on his own, familiar Earth, the world he had adopted as his own for a time, and sat on a Hyde Park bench in 1989, watching the sounds of life and the sights flow around him.
Genocide was genocide, negligence was negligence. Then he heard the Valeyard laugh.
This item appeared in Timestreams 4 (April 1992).