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A New Hope

By Alistair Hughes

A blazing band of stars silhouetted the recent arrival's profile against the viewing port.

The scale and beauty of space was a sight that no one could ever really grow accustomed to, but he had given up being just a watcher a long time ago.

And look where that had got him! The Doctor sighed heavily and leaned against the corridor wall, burying his hands even deeper into his pockets. He had always hated being kept waiting, and his irritation with Them wasn't helping.

‘Botched Dalek mission’, indeed!

The ‘some good coming from great evil’ line didn't go down too well, but he'd like to have seen them do better! And even now, the Doctor had a nasty suspicion that he had been manipulated again, provoked into accepting this ‘one last task’ as a challenge. Sometimes he wondered just how corrupt the Time Lords really were.

In all honesty, however, he might have agreed to take this one on without any persuasion. ‘Not the Daleks this time’, the Intervention Agency had told him, ‘but perhaps you'll have better luck with the next worst thing!’

And they hadn't exaggerated, either. The Matrix had displayed images of a dictatorship founded upon a particularly concentrated state of evil, eclipsing the light of an entire galaxy in its huge shadow. Thousands of star systems oppressed by the ruthlessness of its Governors, and the mindless efficiency of its armies. The Doctor hated oppression in any form, and this particular form was vast indeed. His mind drifted back to the images he had so recently reviewed. One of those Governors, a coldly vicious man with a key role in the events about to unfold... For the lives of him, the Doctor couldn't place why he looked so unsettlingly familiar...

But this is definitely the last time, he vowed, remembering to be annoyed. The Doctor pulled his hat further down over his eyes and began to wish he'd bought his yo-yo. Espionage might be the CIA's style, but it wasn't his thing at all, too sneaky by half!

Glancing at the double star and its arid-looking planet ahead, the Doctor's irritation began to wane, almost as if this god-like vantage point on the cosmos forced him, as always, to consider the lives that inhabited it. Reluctantly, he conceded that although he hated waiting, he did enjoy the opportunity to upset the apple cart onto the side of good, especially on such a galactic scale. And besides, he reminded himself, straightening up as his liaison furtively arrived, he had been waiting for Royalty, this time.

Unable to resist, the Doctor tapped the side of his nose conspiratorially, and quickly passed the computer disc to the small, dark-haired woman who faced him. As she accepted it with a cool smile, a faint explosion rocked the hull of her small spacecraft.

‘I'm afraid they've caught up with you already, Your Highness.’

‘We have the battle station plans now Doctor, that is the important thing. The Alliance owes you its thanks.’

A little embarrassed, the Doctor bowed, and the white-clad figure turned and hurried towards a small robot, waiting further along the corridor.

The Doctor smiled to himself.

‘Charming girl, charming...but her father won't be pleased.’

A heavier blast rocked the ship and the Doctor quickly made his way towards his own transport. The Time Lords had warned him not to hang about; this was going to be the start of something big. Fishing out the key, he paused at the TARDIS door and glanced back along the now-empty corridor.

‘I liked that little robot, though. Wouldn't mind something like that for myself...’

[Fourth Doctor and the Princess]

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

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