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By David Ronayne

The planet Golga swung round in a wide orbit about its lazy sun, its hazy green terrain clouded by the shimmering induction blanket covering it. Occasionally it flared as small bits of space junk were caught in its protective field; smaller debris boiling away into ions in the planet's upper atmosphere, larger ones catching, tumbling in the field, struggling to break free, occasionally under their own power. One such object hung there now, the interference arcs wrapping around the battered old police box illuminating the sky below. Its owner was not impressed.

General Kolis stepped out of the hoverauto, shrugging off the assistance of the young ensign as he stared up to the fiery web of dissipated Artron energy slowly burning in the sky. He cursed as he stopped to survey the sandy ruins of the old betweener city and equally old communications tower. The aged soldier hobbled over to it, recalling a time when the area would have been crawling with all sorts of lowlifes and second class citizens. He pulled open the rusty door remembering the day of the Departure, the greatest day of social programming this planet had ever seen, perhaps the greatest event in his world's long history of near misses and last minute salvations. He paused to order the troopers out of the dank operations room, before sitting down at the nearest terminal and lifting the receiver of the autolink. Perhaps, with the possible exception of today. The screen before him flared into life, flickering briefly, before consolidating into the concerned shape of a short dark-haired man glaring out at him from under a badly made straw hat.

‘I must apologise Doctor, we bear you no malice, but on no account can we allow you to land on our planet.’ The Time Lord's eyebrows creased into a tired look of bewilderment. The General lent forward in his chair apologetically. ‘We have monitored your activities for many years, and have noted the trail of destruction that follows your path. Our seers predicted that a disaster would befall us on your arrival. We have decided therefore to prevent you from landing.’

The Doctor flinched. ‘What disaster? I could assist in recovery.’

‘You certainly have had a lot of practice,’ the General muttered. The Doctor seemed to crumple on the screen. ‘Our seers predict planet wide devastation, total annihilation. There would be no recovery.’ The General continued, ‘We are not malicious Doctor, we will release you from the field provided you promise not to land, and wipe Golga's spatial coordinates from your ship's navicom.’

The Doctor glared out of the screen at the general bitterly before realising he was trapped and seemed to sag even further as he relented. ‘You have my word as a Time Lord,’ he said reaching forward to delete the relevant files from the TARDIS memory banks.

‘Despite your current estrangement from the other members of your race, that will be acceptable.’ The General nodded, looking into the sad eyes on the screen as the image fragmented, dissolving as the ship dematerialised. He sat for some time, haunted by the image of those ancient eyes, before replacing the dusty receiver, and rising to leave. Coughing, the Golgafrinchian commander left the communications building and watched the skies clear over his planet.

This item appeared in TSV 37 (January 1994).

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