The Perfect People

By Michael Mayo

It was paradise.

Well, almost. Beneath the dark red sky and the shining pink sun were miles of rolling green hills and dark shadowy forests. There were tall snow-covered mountains and cold, clear freshwater streams that glistened like frosted glass. One could almost mistake this serene world for Earth, before the domination of man. But it wasn't. It was Valmar.

Valmar was a world in its very beginning of life. It was green and fertile, containing a million different species of plant life. So far, this world had been fortunate enough to avoid creation of animals naturally. It was a kingdom of plants... but beings of other worlds were now treading upon its rich soil.

Peri knelt down next to the stream and dipped her hands into the icy cold liquid. Then she cupped them together and brought them up to her mouth, taking a long, cool drink. The cold, clean water ran down her throat and she felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

She took another cupped handful, then stood up and looked around for the Doctor. She spotted him about twenty metres away, sitting under the shade of some sort of alien tree by himself. Wiping her mouth dry with her hand, Peri ran over to him.

‘What's the matter, Doctor?’ she said, concerned that he may be on the brink of instability again. The Doctor had recently suffered a total personality change, and the effects had worn him down completely. Only now was he recovering. After a terrifying encounter with a race known as the Cybermen, the Doctor had decided that he and Peri should have a holiday: here, on Valmar.

‘Oh, don't bother about me,’ answered the Doctor, as if he was in some sort of daydream. ‘I'm almost totally well again!’

Peri doubted it. He hadn't actually looked at her as he spoke; he had been staring at the valley below him.

‘Doctor?’ she said again, and waved her hand over his eyes. He took notice, but continued just to sit there, as if in a trance. Great, thought Peri. His regeneration hadn't worn off at all.

Suddenly the Time Lord in the multi-coloured jacket leapt up. ‘A walk!’ he exclaimed proudly.

‘What?’ asked Peri.

‘I said I'm going for a walk. You don't have to come if you don't want to.’

The Time Lord began walking away, toward the valley that lay splendidly below them like a velvet carpet of plant life.

‘Are you sure you can manage it?’ asked Peri, catching up to him. ‘I mean, you really shouldn't go too far from the TARDIS.’

The Doctor stopped and turned to his companion, suddenly serious. ‘Do you feel it?’ he asked.

‘I don't understand,’ she said, fearing that perhaps the Doctor would lapse into another of his ‘moods’.

He wandered over to a rock and sat down. ‘I can't quite describe it,’ he said, ‘but do you feel content, satisfied, at ease?’

Peri considered. Since arriving on this world, she did seem to have lost a lot of the worry and nervousness she had had for the Doctor and his erratic machine. ‘Maybe it's just natural to this planet,’ she suggested.

‘No,’ said the Doctor. ‘There's something familiar about it.’

Suddenly the Time Lord realized what it was. Excitedly, he said to his companion, ‘Remember the Zero Room, Peri?’

Peri gave him a blank look. ‘Surely you haven't forgotten?’ he said again.

‘You never told me about any Zero Room.’

‘The Zero Room! I jettisoned it once to escape a rather fiendish trap of the Master's.’

Peri definitely had no memory of any Zero Room, although she had had the misfortune to meet the Master once before.

‘Never mind,’ said the Doctor. ‘You must not have been there, although I always thought you had.’

Peri drew a deep breath. The Doctor's memory had been slowly falling apart, and he was often prone to calling her names like ‘Susan’ or ‘Sarah Jane’, even ‘Jamie’!

The two time-travellers started walking off again, and Peri trailed behind the Doctor a little as she admired the scenery. Finally, a bright fluorescent plant struck her attention. It was like a giant brown weed, but on the top was the most beautiful aqua-coloured flower she had ever had the chance to see. She yearned to pick it up, and ran over to it.

She knelt down, and cradled the flower in her hand, then gently broke its stem and stood up. It smelt of a million different perfumes rolled into one. Peri took another deep whiff, then froze in horror. The flower dropped clumsily to her feet.

Up on the ridge, where she and the Doctor had been only minutes before, there stood a gigantic, hideous black spider. The sunlight reflected off its shiny metal plating and dazzled her.

The spider had a bulbous round body and eight spindly legs protruded from it. In all, it was about two metres high, and Peri could just make out a glowing red eye on its forehead. The horrible creature stood, and swooped its single eye across the valley. After apparently not seeing them, it trundled off down the opposite side of the ridge at an alarming speed.

Too scared to do anything like scream, which would alert the thing, she sprinted to catch up to the Doctor. He was quite a way ahead, having not seen the creature. Soon Peri was relating the experience to him.

‘Spiders? On Valmar, the famous world of plants? Impossible. The pollen from that flower affected you and you thought you saw a spider. It's pretty obvious to me.’

‘I don't think it was the pollen, Doctor,’ said Peri. ‘In fact I'm sure-’ She stopped when she realized that the infuriating Time Lord wasn't bothering to listen to her. Instead, he had his trusty telescope, which he carried everywhere, up against his eye and was examining the valley floor.

‘There's a building down there, a dome,’ he said, shocked.

Peri knew what he'd say next. ‘Doctor, please, let's just leave them alone.’

‘Have you no sense of adventure, Peri? I'm sure whoever's down there would love some company!’ The Doctor slipped his telescope into his pocket and made for the dome. Peri groaned. Why did the Doctor love to get them both almost killed? She'd never know. Maybe she didn't want to.

The dome, or Complex, as its owners called it, was not big. In fact, it was only large enough to hold four bedrooms, a lounge and a laboratory. Its four inhabitants were all middle-aged male human scientists. They were called by the names of Sirian, Dolomar, Andrews and Colby.

The Doctor and Peri arrived at the main entrance to the Complex, and the Doctor grimaced when he found out that it was a firmly sealed sliding door. No matter how hard the Doctor tried, he was unable to budge it.

‘You know, Peri,’ he announced, ‘it's times like this that I wish I had bothered to build myself another sonic screwdriver.’

‘You can't just go breaking into places like that,’ said Peri.

‘Of course I can. I'm the Doctor!’ came the reply.

Suddenly, to both the Doctor's and Peri's amazement, the door slid open silently. In it stood a tall man, perhaps about forty, with grey hair and a short grey beard.

‘Welcome,’ the man said. ‘We saw you walking down the valley. My name is Sirian. Do come and rest, you must have travelled far and long to arrive on this world.’

‘Indeed we have,’ said the Time Lord, accepting the offer and leading his companion into the dome behind Sirian.

Shortly they arrived in the lounge, a pleasant Earth-type room, and Sirian introduced the three others. All were about the same age as Sirian, and all were scientists. After much talking and exchanging of scientific knowledge (a lot of which Peri didn't understand), Dolomar, Andrews and Colby left to return to their work. Sirian remained behind to speak to the Doctor.

‘Tea?’ he asked, walking over to the bench.

‘Yes, please,’ said the Doctor. ‘Tell me, how long have you people been here?’

‘Many years,’ said Sirian as he returned with three plastic cups filled with a thick reddish substance. ‘Our research into the fungal life of this planet allows the time to pass. In fact, I'm surprised your ship was allowed through at all.’

‘Ah yes,’ remarked the Doctor, taking a cup from Sirian. ‘I and my companion travelled by TARDIS.’

‘A Time Lord? Well, don't let us detain you in whatever you're doing.’

The Doctor took a sip of his tea. ‘Beautiful stuff,’ he remarked casually. ‘Try some, Peri.’

Peri had already taken a whiff of the revolting tea, so she pleasantly declined. ‘I'll just be outside,’ she said as she left the couch that she had been sitting on next to the Doctor. She wanted to examine the plant-life of this world, rather than listen to the Doctor and Sirian gabble on. By now, she was convinced that the spider she had seen had, in fact, been a result of smelling that alien flower. Nevertheless, she wanted a souvenir to take back to Earth with her...

After telling the Doctor the recipe for the red tea (a mixture of local crushed roots) Sirian went on. Apparently, the four scientists had been left on Valmar for no reason, as prisoners. The Time Lord was fascinated to learn that they had been given every luxury, from the Complex that they lived in to the supply ship that came every two weeks. But why?

‘About a mile from here,’ said Sirian, ‘is the metal Bunker. The Guardians live there, and the supply ship lands on the roof.’

‘I see. Tell me about these Guardians.’

‘They resemble great metal spiders. In fact, they are the Federation's All-Terrain All-Purpose Scout Robots. They call them ‘Guardians'.’

Sirian then told the Doctor the means by which the Guardians were powered: a very inexpensive source to the Federation, a Tranquillity Generator. It all fell into place now, thought the Doctor. He remembered how the TARDIS had had a Tranquillity Generator; the Zero Room!

It had also been known as Temporal Grace, and had given the TARDIS a variety of endowments, including Isomorphism. Naturally, the Doctor had been somewhat annoyed when he had discovered that the TARDIS had lost all these after he had foolishly ejected the Zero Room into oblivion during one of his previous regenerations.

‘And I presume the Generator is inside the Bunker, eh?’

‘Yes, Doctor,’ said Sirian. ‘And now I'm going to ask for your service. We need your help to get into the Bunker, switch off the Generator, thus shutting down the Guardians and then to escape in the supply vessel, which is due tomorrow.’

The Time Lord considered this. Far down in his very hearts, he despised wandering the Universe aimlessly, interfering in the affairs of others. Whenever he did, someone died. And the Doctor didn't enjoy killing, no matter how evil the victim might be. Then he remembered how he had misjudged Lytton, and how the man had perished painfully hundreds of light years away on Telos.

‘Please, Doctor,’ said Sirian, ‘we absolutely abhor violence and are totally peaceful. What harm do you think four old scientists could really do to be thrown on some uninhabited world?’

‘All right,’ announced the Time Lord. ‘Tomorrow, you, Peri and myself will go by TARDIS to the Bunker before the supply ship arrives, hmm?’

‘And the others will follow on foot and meet us,’ continued Sirian. ‘Now Doctor, drink up your tea.’

The night was bitterly cold. Not that it mattered, thought Peri. She and the Doctor had spent the night in the TARDIS, where the environment never changed unless you wanted it to. Peri slept in Tegan's room. Tegan had apparently journeyed with the Time Lord for quite some time, before deciding to leave after witnessing all the death and destruction caused by a bloody battle on Earth. The Doctor had told her that he had grieved the loss badly.

Peri left her room, now a jumbled mixture of her things and the things Tegan had left behind. She wandered into the glowing console room and sat down in the Doctor's ancient antique chair.

‘Hello, Perpugilliam,’ said the Time Lord without turning to her. He was engrossed in fiddling and tapping information into the console. ‘The problem with the old girl is that she's a bit rusty on the short space-only jumps. We're liable to end up either in the right place but the wrong time, or vice-versa. Or both.’

‘Doctor,’ said Peri, ‘are you sure you'll be able to shut down those Guardians?’ The Time Lord had been kind enough to inform Peri as to what they were planning to do the night before.

‘No,’ came that all-too-familiar reply. ‘I'll just have to rely on luck. And, of course, my unlimited skill.’

The Doctor, this Doctor, loved to compliment his already swollen ego. Peri said nothing, but instead switched on the scanner. When they had arrived, the Doctor had parked the TARDIS under a large tree.

‘Here comes Sirian,’ said Peri, pointing to the figure that was approaching.

‘Excellent! Right on time.’ The Doctor opened the exterior doors and went outside. Soon he and Sirian returned.

‘Everything is ready. The others are on their way to the Bunker now,’ said Sirian.

‘Right,’ replied the Doctor. ‘I trust you know the co-ordinates of the Bunker?’

‘I do,’ said Sirian. He gave the Doctor a slip of paper and the Time Lord began punching in a series of numbers on the console.

Soon, the Doctor said, ‘Done. We're ready to go. Cross your fingers and hope we arrive in the right place and the right time.’

He flicked a switch and the central Time Rotor on the middle of the console began its rising and falling. There was a familiar wheezing, groaning sound and the TARDIS was gone.

The flight lasted only seconds. The TARDIS came to rest in a shining silver corridor. The door opened, and out stepped the Doctor, Peri and Sirian.

‘The interior of the Bunker?’ asked the Doctor, turning to the scientist.

‘Yes,’ said Sirian. ‘Keep your voice down. There are activated Guardians inside here as well as out.’

The little trio made their way down the corridor, and Sirian whispered that they would have to find the central Generator room.

After a few moments, the corridor came to a junction, and the Doctor peeped around the corner. A huge, bumbling Guardian, its red eye glowing, was trudging straight for them!

‘Back!’ hissed the Doctor, urging Sirian and Peri to sprint back to the safety of the TARDIS. They ran up the corridor, but by the time they got to the blue box, Peri could sense that it was too late. The Doctor was furiously looking for his key.

‘I'm sure I knew where I put it,’ he mumbled, checking all his pockets. The great hulking spider appeared, and Peri was on the verge of screaming when the creature vanished again. It had decided not to come down the corridor they were in, and had instead made its way down the opposite fork.

Peri let out her breath. Thank god, she thought.

‘We haven't any time to spare,’ said the Doctor, hurrying down the corridor and turning the opposite way to the Guardian. Peri and Sirian bolted after him.

As they ran down the doorless silver corridors, each of them at least three metres wide, there came a faintly audible roar. It grew to a bellowing scream, and the three clapped their hands to their ears. The sound was growing unbearable, and Peri felt herself falling like a feather into darkness... and in a split second it stopped.

‘What the hell was that?’ she muttered, bathed in silence once more, and coming back to her senses.

‘The supply ship,’ said the Doctor. ‘Hurry, we're running late. We must shut down the Generator before it blasts off again. Come on!’

After several minutes of exhaustive running around, avoiding the odd Spider here and there, the Doctor, Peri and Sirian found the Generator room. The Doctor tapped a button and the door slid open. He sped inside, and froze in mortal terror.

The Generator room was as big as an assembly hall, with a beam of pure green flame blasting up to the roof in the centre of it. The flame emerged from a circular console, much like that of the TARDIS. But what had terrified the Doctor the most was the row of at least twenty Guardians, all lined up along the far wall. The other two entered and gasped.

But the Doctor smiled.

He closed the door behind them and said, ‘It's all right. They're deactivated.’ He walked over to one of the sleeping monsters and twiddled its gunstick, which protruded from below its eye. ‘They're perfectly harmless. Reserves, I'd imagine.’

‘Doctor,’ said Sirian impatiently, ‘we must hurry.’

‘Yes, yes,’ replied the Time Lord, and he strode over to the Generator. After examining it for a minute, he said, ‘Oh dear. You can only shut down the beam if you have the correct access card.’

‘You mean you can't do it,’ said Peri.

‘Of course I can,’ said the Doctor, annoyed. ‘I shall have to break into the Federation's computer network from here.’

‘I don't think you'll be able to,’ said Sirian, ‘we have little less than an hour before take-off.’

‘No worries,’ said the Doctor, leaning over the Generator. ‘Although I'll need your help in some of the local security techniques.’

And so the two scientists settled down to break into the Federation's most prized form of secrecy: the network.

Time passed. While the Doctor and Sirian worked feverishly on the Generator, Peri kept a close eye on the corridor outside through a small window in the door. In the last half hour, several Guardians had passed by, but none so far had entered, or even looked into, the room they had taken refuge in.

Peri noticed that some of the Spiders had been carrying square plastic containers which were attached to their undersides. Stuff from the supply ship, she guessed.

‘Almost there,’ said the Doctor happily to Sirian. He had only to over-ride one more password input and he would be able to shut down the entire Tranquillity field that surrounded the planet.

Peri rushed over. ‘How long?’ she asked.

The Doctor looked proudly at her. ‘Done!’ he announced, as he flicked a switch.

The result was shocking, to say the least. The Generator, which had previously been covered in flashing lights, suddenly blinked out of functioning and became a dull, lifeless computer console.

Peri's gaze met the beam of green fire that had previously burst proudly up to the ceiling in a massive roar. Now it slowly dwindled away to nothing, and the three were veiled in silence.

And then, seconds before the fire had completely vanished, the door slid open.

Framed in it was a Guardian, its red eye glowing and its gun stick carefully aimed.

‘Down!’ screamed the Doctor, and all three dropped to the shiny metal floor. Then the Guardian died. Its weapon hung lifeless, and its eye extinguished. It was immobilised, its power source having been cut.

‘That was too close,’ said the Doctor, getting up and brushing himself down. Peri did this also.

‘Well now, Sirian,’ said the Doctor. ‘Sirian?’

The Time Lord and Peri rushed around to the opposite side of the Generator, where Sirian had been standing. Now he lay on the floor in a pool of blood, dead. The Guardian, in its last moments of life, had blasted a hole in the harmless old scientist's stomach.

‘Oh no, not again,’ said the Doctor in despair, kneeling down. But it was too late. Peri remembered how the Doctor had acted similarly when Lytton had died, only days before.

Slowly the Doctor stood, and he and Peri turned from the horrible sight. They made their way to the main doors.

‘What should we do?’ asked Peri.

‘The others will have arrived by now. I guess I'll just have to tell them the bad news, then they can go on alone.’

‘That will not be necessary, Time Lord,’ groaned a hideous, twisted voice behind them.

The Doctor and Peri swung around. Sirian was behind them, but not the Sirian they had known. He had transformed into some sort of grotesque demon. His face cracked and blistered, and slimy green ooze ran down his cheeks and from his mouth.

Where Sirian's wound had been, it was not red blood that surged out, but thick yellow pus. The thing, wearing Sirian's blood-stained clothing, stumbled mindlessly over to one of the sleeping robot spiders and began insanely pushing and pulling at it, unable to even dent its surface. It screamed a gurgle of rage, and vomited green and yellow pus down its front and into a puddle on the floor.

‘I think it's time we left,’ whispered the Doctor to his companion. ‘Discretely.’ He ushered her toward the door.

‘Ssstop!’ slurred the beast behind them. They both froze and turned. The apparition had ripped a gun from one of the silent Guardians, and had it trained on the Doctor, itching to blow his head off.

‘I will not hesssitate to kill you,’ it drawled, spluttering a fresh batch of mucus onto the Generator console.

‘I don't blame you for being sick,’ said the Doctor, ‘after all, you have just lost half your stomach.’

‘We are of exssseptional ssstrength and have vastly accelerated healing properties,’ came the reply. ‘Now movvve to the door.’

With every movement being watched by the beady, twisted eyes of the creature, the Doctor moved out into the corridor, past the silent Guardian that had shot Sirian.

‘Wait! We will wait for my brothersss...’

The hunchbacked monster jammed the gun into the Doctor's side and pulled his head back by the hair so the two were glaring face to face with each other.

‘Why don't you kill me?’ muttered the Doctor through clenched teeth. ‘It would be easier, wouldn't it?’

‘You will make excellent hossstagesss, should we run into trouble,’ came the slur in response. ‘It is such a pity that we are unable to use your TARDIS.’

‘Well, we sure know why you were imprisoned here now,’ said Peri.

‘Silence!’ screamed the creature, even more hysterical now. It released the Doctor and pushed the two along the corridor. Sirian had seemed so peaceful and kind, as if he wouldn't hurt a thing. But now he had turned into this, this monster.

Soon, the three others joined them. They too had been magically transformed into some sort of demon. Each was different in its own evil way.

‘Shit...’ thought Peri as she and the Doctor were pushed and shoved to a very wide spiral staircase and then up the fairly tall steps (to a human, that is). ‘Doctor,’ she whispered as quietly as possible, ‘I-’ But she broke off when the Dolomar-mutant turned and sneered evilly at her.

The four creatures and their two captives made their way up, until a door slid open and revealed the roof of the Bunker. Leaving the staircase, the six stepped onto the stone roof. The top of the Bunker was square, about a hundred metres to each side. Judging how high the staircase had taken them, Peri guessed that there would be a considerable drop to the ground.

In the very centre of the Bunker's roof there was a tiny, roundish spacecraft, hardly bigger than a house. Around it were Guardians, all frozen like ghosts into inactivity. The entry platform was open, and a large ramp led up to it. A Guardian had been unfortunate enough to be immobilised on the ramp whilst unloading a container, and the thing that used to be Colby rushed up and viciously pushed the spider to the ground. He laughed madly.

‘Inssside,’ commanded the Sirian-mutant, and the Doctor and Peri were bustled into the single bare room that made up the interior of the supply ship.

‘Ah,’ remarked the Doctor casually, ‘no chairs. Must be remote controlled.’

The two were thrown carelessly into one corner while the mutants turned to the single computer keyboard.

‘He's right,’ mumbled Andrews like an animal.

‘Then you will override it!’ screeched Sirian, waving the scavenged gun in front of his ‘brother's’ face.

‘I could,’ said the Doctor helpfully, from where he and Peri sat. Sirian charged over to him and lifted the Doctor by the lapels of his jacket a foot above the ground.

‘I make the decisssionsss...’ hollered the mutant, his disgusting breath blowing all over the Doctor's face. ‘And you keep your mouth shut!’ Sirian threw the Doctor back to the ground.

‘You sure told him,’ said Peri miserably.

‘Sometimes, Perpugilliam Brown, I wish you'd keep your mouth in its best possible position: closed!’

Over at the ship's single computer console there was a heated discussion going on. Finally, the Dolomar-mutant succeeded in closing the door of the spacecraft, and managed to put the ship's control on manual rather than remote. Now it was only a matter of overriding the flight computer.

This was easily done, and within seconds after the first ignition was triggered, the ship was hurtling away into the vast inkiness of space, far, far away from Valmar.

Peri woke in a daze. Her head was throbbing. Where was she? In the dark recesses of her mind, she vaguely remembered meeting the Doctor, and almost going mad on those crazy little planets. Suddenly she felt contented. It had all been a dream. None of it had really happened after all...

She was lying in her soft cozy bed at home. It was a little chilly; a winter morning. Peri pulled the cover around her a little tighter and opened her eyes. The cover she was wrapped in was, in fact, the Doctor's multi-coloured jacket. She was lying next to him in that same corner, and the mutants were now seated in some metal chairs they had found.

‘What happened?’ muttered Peri, rubbing her head.

‘G-force. You passed out on take-off. It's a shame you humans have such a low resistance to practically anything.’

‘How long have we -’

‘About two hours,’ said the Doctor, anticipating the question. ‘I thought you might like the coat to wear. The ship does have life support capabilities, but our friends over there don't seem to require very high temperatures in which to operate.’

‘I'll say.’ Peri shivered, and pulled the coat even tighter around her. ‘I guess I'll never get to see LA again.’

‘No, probably not.’ The Doctor was hardly ever reassuring. ‘You know, if it hadn't been for me, Adric wouldn't be dead.’

‘Who?’ asked Peri, wondering what the Doctor was going on about. A quick glance confirmed her fears. The Doctor was staring into space, seeming to be talking to himself in mutters and mumbles.

‘I'm sorry Peri,’ he said. ‘I dragged you into this. The strain has proven too much for me. I should have realised I needed a proper rest after my regeneration... but no, I wouldn't listen... Jaconda, Telos and now this.’

The Time Lord turned to his companion, delirious, sweat breaking out on his forehead. ‘Romana, I'm falling apart!’

‘Doctor, please, try and calm down,’ said Peri. ‘Try and concentrate.’

‘Harry, Jo, Zoe, K9, Leela,’ muttered the Doctor. ‘Oh poor Leela, what a terrible life on Gallifrey...’ He fell into an invisible pit of the past and was unconscious in seconds.

The first explosion rocked the ship like a leaf in a hurricane. The mutants were thrown everywhere.

‘What was that?’ demanded Sirian, pulling himself to his feet. Dolomar muttered something barely audible, and Sirian pushed violently past. His eyes widened. ‘A Federation battle cruiser...’ he said silently to himself upon examination of the screen. ‘Turn thisss crate around!’ he screamed.

The mutants hurried as fast as they could, tapping instructions into the keyboard, eager to please their master.

Peri sat there silently, ignored for the moment, supporting the Doctor's lifeless body that leaned against her side. She was on the verge of whimpering.

Then came the second explosion, far closer this time and many times more powerful. The computer console burnt out in a flash of fire, and the Doctor's body was flung across the room. Peri watched it, then was shocked to see it suddenly grapple with Sirian for the gun.

‘Well don't just sit there, Peri,’ he screamed. ‘Help!’

Peri couldn't help laughing in glee. The Doctor was alright. She pulled herself up just as the Time Lord was ripped off Sirian by a mutant and thrown effortlessly against the wall. The Sirian-mutant raised its gun at the Doctor, a helpless and doomed figure.

‘Now, Doctor,’ slurred Sirian, ‘we are all doomed. But I will have the pleasure of killing you anyway...’

His finger tightened on the trigger.

And the third explosion knocked everyone in the ship senseless.

Beautiful, thought Captain Kramer. Absolutely beautiful. There's sure to be a promotion due this time. After all, he'd missed out three times already. And that was enough. He smiled all the way down to the sick bay.

Kramer was led down there by Legro, his faithful second-in-command. When I become Admiral, thought Kramer, I'll give Legro a juicy promotion. He's served me well all these years...

The two arrived in the little medical ward next to the docking bay. Legro explained that there had been two strangers aboard the supply ship when they had brought it in, as well as the four mutants.

‘Interesting,’ said Kramer as he surveyed the Doctor and Peri, both lying unconscious on two clean white beds. Through the large window, Kramer could see the poor battered ship. ‘Such a shame, these two will face a lengthy court-martial back on Earth,’ he said.

‘I most certainly will not,’ retorted the male prisoner, now fully awake. He swung himself off the end of the bed and stood up, facing Kramer eye to eye. ‘Do you know who I am?’

‘No sir, unfortunately I don't,’ said Kramer.

‘I am the Doctor. The Doctor.’

‘Really, sir?’

‘Yes,’ said the Time Lord. ‘And I trust this ship is en route back to Valmar?’

‘It is,’ replied Kramer. ‘We have to take the mutants back.’

And so the Doctor extracted a long and detailed story of their origins. A long time ago, according to Kramer, there had been a psychopathic yet brilliant scientist named Jackrond. He found a way of transmogrifying any human off the street into a loyal, beautiful, highly intelligent and highly strong super-being. Against Federation commands, Jackrond created a whole army of these ‘perfect people’, but the experiment went disastrously wrong. Within days, the super-beings became hideously twisted mutants, with a vast capacity for mindless evil. The mutants killed Jackrond and destroyed his lab, and spread terror wherever they went.

Thus the Federation stepped in with its Shock Troopers and destroyed the rapidly growing mutant army in a battle that lasted three days and covered the planet Earth, leaving it in ruins. All but four mutants survived, those being Jackrond's ex-colleagues.

Research was done, and it was found that the only way to restore the four mutants to their original, innocent form was to keep them within the field of a special wave-generator, a Tranquillity Generator. A suitable, uninhabited world was chosen, and the mutants restored to their original forms. It was unfortunate that they could have no past memory, neither of their time as humans nor as mutants, once they had transformed from one to another.

That was ten years ago. Since then, the Earth had been partially rebuilt, and the scientists had lived peacefully on Valmar, devoid of their violent instincts.

‘I see,’ said the Doctor regretfully, as the battle cruiser toughed gently down on the green surface of the paradise planet.

The Doctor and Peri slipped out of the Federation spacecraft as soon as Peri was well enough and the Doctor had discovered that Kramer had forgotten to tell the Guards to guard them.

On the way back to the Bunker, the Doctor explained what had happened to Peri. Then, in the distance, he could just make out the four scientists, human again, being led back to the Complex by two huge Guardians. Sirian was completely healed of his wound.

‘Sirian!’ called the Doctor, out loud, but the scientists did not hear him. They wouldn't recognise me anyway, thought the Doctor.

Later, the TARDIS was spinning away like a top through the Time/Space Vortex. The Doctor was slumped miserably in his chair, and Peri was standing next to the console.

‘I'm a traitor,’ muttered the Doctor. ‘A traitor...’

Captain Kramer never received that much-wanted promotion. The Executive High Council of the Federation were not pleased with his report, which mentioned the mysterious appearance and disappearance of two unidentified strangers.

Six months later, Kramer was given an office job.

This item appeared in Timestreams 4 (April 1992).

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