Another story from the archives.
Frozen in Time was written for the
Nine Lives anthology published by
Red Ted Books in 2017. An unofficial
Doctor Who fanthology,
Nine Lives raised around £700 for
The MS Society and
The Stroke Association. It is now out of print, only ever intended as a short-lived fundraiser.
Nine Lives was created by Scott Claringbold as a collection of stories featuring the
other Ninth Doctor, as played by Richard E. Grant in the 2003 webcast
Scream of the Shalka. I decided to write a story that would tie into Grant's other appearances in the Whoniverse, with a couple of fun links to both the main series and other apocrypha.
Frozen in Time
The Axis was everywhere, and nowhere. A
singularity, and an infinity of infinities. All things could be found
here, everything that existed, or had ever existed, or could ever
exist. The entire history of the universe was laid out, for the very
few beings that were capable of perceiving such things. Not merely
this universe, but all universes. Timelines diverging from the core
reality like limbs from the trunk of a tree, if a tree happened to be
an eleven-dimensional hypersphere with infinite branches. Most of
these timelines were natural occurrences, essential variations in the
passage of history. Others were artificial, induced, forced, even
broken. The Axis held all such possibilities together, in some form
of order, incomprehensible to most minds.
There were, however, minds that
perceive the order in the Axis. Beings that were capable of
traversing the no-space between realities, when the conditions were
exactly right. Beings that could, given the right window of
opportunity, lend their influence across any number of universes...
The noise was relentless, an unending
cacophony of unmelodic droning that broke through even the deepest
layers of sleep. It would have made a perfect alarm clock, the Doctor
considered, as he rose from his sleep. It was a luxury he afforded
himself rarely, and so it was inevitable that it would be broken by
this racket. Hastily fixing his clothes, the Doctor stormed from his
under-used bedroom and through the winding corridors of the TARDIS,
his expression grave.
He stalked down the walkway into the
control room, only to see the Master contentedly stooped over the
console, studying something that has apparently occupied his full
attention. The Doctor waved a hand in front of his mechanical
shipmate's face, breaking his concentration.
“Had you somehow failed to notice
that alarm going off, not two feet from your head?” The Doctor
snapped, angrily flipping a toggle on the console and silencing the
noise. A gramophone speaker retracted into its compartment within the
console, removing itself from view.
The Master turned to face him, his
expression studiedly neutral.
“I switched my aural circuits off
about an hour ago,” he said. “Your snoring was carrying
throughout the Ship. It was becoming quite impossible to focus.”
“Poppycock!” replied the Doctor,
knotting his cravat and buttoning his waistcoat. “I do not snore.”
“It's rather like trying to work
under an omnibus while the engine is running. Perhaps next time you
decide to take a nap you could activate your respiratory bypass. I'm
sure a few hours without breathing would be a small price for sparing
“Your ears are artificial.”
“And all the more sensitive for it.”
The Master looked at the Doctor's expectant expression. “Was there
“The alarm indicates a Priority One
distress call. If you could turn your head slightly and tell what was
With a heavy sigh, quite unfitting for
someone who didn't actually breathe, the Master studied the readouts.
“Planetary system HR2003 Alpha. The
planet Heimdall. Mid thirty-third century.”
The Doctor allowed himself to settle
into the easy chair that was hidden in the darkest corner of the
“Heimdall... I vaguely recall a human
colony there. Nothing especially interesting, far from the main space
routes. Probably a bunch of colonists making a mountain out of a
molehill. Still, we'd better go check it out.”
“It's an icy rock on the fringes of
explored space,” replied the Master. “I can't imagine anything of
“Just take us there,” ordered the
Doctor. “Who knows? Maybe it'll surprise us.”
The Master obligingly set the TARDIS on
a flight to its new destination.
Clarice activated the latest frequency
modulation, and repeated the distress call. It was the simplest of
messages, nothing more than their planet's coordinates and an urgent
call for help, repeated in a multitude of languages, from Galactic
Basic to Draconian to Delphonic Morse. As she sent out the latest
message, she kept her eye on the receiver screen, ready for a reply.
Any reply. Just something to show that someone, somewhere, had heard
Stynes loomed over Clarice's shoulder,
glaring at the displays, perhaps expecting her communications expert
to have missed something. Clarice bit her lip and held back her
“No, Commander,” she replied. “I'm
broadcasting on all possible frequencies and modulations, and
scanning on the same. If there's anyone out there, they'll hear us.”
“There just isn't anyone out there,”
interjected Johan, slumped at his own console on the opposite side of
the control room. The command centre had been fashioned from the
bridge of the Nebula, the ship that had brought the colonists
to Heimdall, with the control room previously having maintained much
of the ship's functions. Now, it was mostly required for
environmental maintenance, and Johan had little enough control over
that in the current situation.
“There has to be someone,” said
Clarice, trying to convince herself as much as Johan.
“The closest starbase is nine light
years away,” pointed out Johan.
“I know,” Clarice snapped
“It'll be nine years before anyone
hears your message. Radio is too primitive to be working with.”
“It's what we have,” stated Stynes,
her tone indicating that she wanted this line on conversation brought
to a close. “There are still vessels probing out here. There's
ample chance that someone will pick up our distress call.”
Johan snorted, earning a warning look
from Stynes. He straightened up and looked intently at his console.
Clarice was about to say something, anything, to break the
uncomfortable silence that followed, when something else did it for
her. An unearthly grinding, wailing noise, unlike anything she had
ever heard before, growing in volume until it was almost deafening.
Sudden sparks of energy laced across the surfaces of the control
room, causing Clarice and Johan alike to leap from there seats. In
the centre of the room, a dark shape was forming.
Stynes spoke into her intercom.
“Security to the control room immediately, code two.”
The shape solidified with a load clunk;
a deep blue upright block bearing the legend “Police Public Call
Box.” It looked just large enough for someone to stand inside. The
doors set into its front opened, and that someone stepped out.
“Morning!” said the sallow-faced
man who stepped out. He was clad in dark clothing in an archaic
style, his brightly polished boots tapping loudly on the metallic
Clarice would have expected Stynes to
demand an explanation from the intruder immediately, but she seemed
momentarily stunned. Clarice had never seen such an expression on her
face before - genuine shock. And was there just a hint of
recognition in there?
“Well, don't everybody say hello at
once,” said the intruder, his rather forced smile dropping. “It
was you who sent the distress call, wasn't it?”
Before anyone could respond, six armed
guards burst into the room, brandishing weapons trained on the
intruder. Stynes seemed suddenly more at ease.
“Explain yourself,” she demanded.
“Who are you and where the hell did you come from?”
The intruder sighed with frustration.
“I'm the Doctor, where I came from is
somewhere I'm sure you've never heard of, I picked up your distress
call and thought I'd drop in to see if I could help. Frankly, I don't
know why I bother sometimes. I've been here less than two minutes and
already there's a bunch of goons pointing rather antiquated pulse
guns at me.”
“At ease,” commanded Stynes, and
the half-dozen guards lowered their weapons. “The Doctor, are you?
And you just happened to be passing, in this thing?”
“The TARDIS,” replied the Doctor.
“It was in flight, which means that it was occupying every point in
space and time simultaneously. So, in a manner of speaking... yes, I
was just passing. Now, who sent the distress call and why?”
“Um, I did,” said Clarice. “Under
Commander Stynes's orders, of course.”
“And you are?”
“Clarice Osmond. I'm the
communications specialist here.”
The Doctor's face lit up. “Excellent!”
he declared, fishing around in his pockets. “I've been having some
trouble with my phone – blasted thing can't cope with this area of
space for some reason. Do you think you could have a look at it?”
“Doctor,” interrupted Stynes, “Miss
Osmond has more important things to worry about than your phone, as
I'm certain do you. Do you want to know the reason for the distress
call or not?”
The Doctor noticed Johan looking
intently at the TARDIS door, standing very narrowly ajar. He snapped
“Off!” he snarled, before turning
back to the Stynes. “Yes, Commander, what was the problem?”
“The ice is attacking us.”
The Doctor smiled. “Now I'm
Heimdall was an ice planet, a rocky
body a little larger than Mars, orbiting a dim, red star. While not a
true ice world like Pluto or Cassius, it was on the very limit of
planetary habitability, its surface perpetually covered in frozen
water. At the poles, even the atmosphere began to condense onto the
ice caps. It was not an ideal place for humans to settle, but it was
best that System HR2003 Alpha had to offer.
The Nebula had been a deep space
explorer, decades past its prime, converted to a colony ship. It had
a straightforward, but difficult mission: build a base on Heimdall,
at the very edge of known space, as a springboard for future
“So why isn't the Earth government
sending support?” asked the Doctor, warming his hands on the
plastic beaker of hot tea that Clarice had handed him. He took a sip,
and grimaced. It was dreadful.
“More important things closer to
home,” said Clarice, sipping at her own cup. “There's some
political trouble with the local powers, I think. We don't hear much
out here. But we've essentially been left to it.”
“Not that we aren't capable of
sustaining this colony,” protested Stynes. “We converted the ship
to become the base and proceeded to develop habitation areas around
it, ready for more colonists in the future. There are – were –
over a hundred of us. Not a huge force, but enough to keep this place
“But then something changed?” asked
“We sent an expeditionary force into
the caves at the edge of the colony,” continued Stynes. “Perfectly
routine. Chart the area, mark any hazards and report back. Allows for
thorough planning of future expansion.”
“So you just kept going?” said the
Doctor. “Kept expanding, for the Earth force that's never going to
“They'll come Doctor, just as soon as
circumstances allow. My job is just to prepare the way.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes, and took
another brief sip of his bitter tea. “So what did your expedition
“There was an artefact in the caves,”
said Clarice, breaking through the tension between Stynes and the
Doctor. “Something some previous explorers had left, probably. Ezra
had some theories on it, but he's... gone.”
“He should have left it alone,”
stated Johan, earning a venomous look from Clarice. “No, he should
have done. He could have studied it there, if he'd been serious about
it. But he tried to move it, bring it back here.”
“And that's when... the ice
attacked?” suggested the Doctor.
“Creatures, made from the ice
itself,” added Stynes. “There's no way they can possibly be
alive. The few we've taken out have shattered into perfectly ordinary
water ice. But they keep coming, every day. They've killed thirteen
people, and that's thirteen lives we cannot spare on a colony this
The Doctor looked Stynes in the eye.
“No lives can be spared, Commander, whatever the circumstance.”
Clarice spoke up. “Doctor, they've
been killing people. We've withdrawn into the core of the base. It
seems to be safe here, they don't try to get further in than the
perimeter domes. But if anyone goes outside the core, they attack.
They kill anyone who tries.” She shivered.
“And it's getting colder in here,”
said Johan, shivering himself. I'm trying to keep the environment
regulated but we're operating on reserve power because we've been cut
off from the deuterium stacks.”
“We've been keeping the creatures at
bay, Doctor,” added Stynes, “but before too long, the cold will
The Doctor appeared to consider the
information he'd been given.
“We might be able to reroute the
power from the deuterium stacks,” he said, after some
consideration. “However, that's likely only a temporary solution.
Even if we make it, the creatures will surely just cut you off again.
I wonder if this is instinctive behaviour, or if they're being
directed by some intelligence? Their cutting off the power suggests
An alarm began to sound. The six guards
filed hurriedly out of the control room. The Doctor didn't appear to
have noticed the commotion.
“No, I feel the best course of action
would be to investigate this artefact you speak of,” he muttered to
himself, seemingly unaware that no one was listening.
Styne grabbed her intercom. “What the
hell's happening?” she barked. There was a momentary pause before
she received a response.
“It's the creatures, sir. They're at
the inner barrier. I think they're trying to get in.”
“How did they get through the
“I don't know sir, but Perkins and
Murasaki are missing. I think they got them.”
The Doctor leaped to his feet.
“Interesting!” he exclaimed. “You
say they stay outside the perimeter, then two minutes after I get
here, they suddenly start forcing their way in?”
“That's a bit suspicious, isn't it?”
murmured Johan, fixing the Doctor with a glare.
“Exactly!” The Doctor grinned.
“They're obviously aware of my sudden appearance here. Advanced
technology arrived on Heimdall, obviously the product of a more
sophisticated civilisation than your own, and peaks their interest.
Or, at least, the interest of whatever is controlling them.”
“Doctor, this is not the time for
theorising!” declared Styne. “Those creatures are killing my
people. If you want to help, head out there and face them with me!”
“If you want me to help, let me
think,” retorted the Doctor. He turned to Clarice. “What do you
use for communications at the perimeter? Radio? What frequency?”
Clarice blinked, taken aback by the
sudden question, but quickly answered.
“Three point one gigahertz.”
“That's too low, but we can adapt it.
Back in the twentieth century, there were some unconscionable
experiments with directed microwave weaponry. Appalling when used
against human beings, but just the thing to melt walking blocks of
ice – if we get the frequency just right.”
“Better get working then,” said
Styne stood at the rear of a squadron
of soldiers as they unleashed projectile and energy weaponry against
the approaching army of ice. Humanoid, but barely so, their forms
distorted, lumps of jagged ice. They approached slowly but
inexorably, their frozen bodies creaking and snapping as their rigid
limbs moved them forward.
An ice creature lunged forward at the
closest soldier, its razor-sharp icicle claws ripping through his
sleeves and padding, into his flesh. The man cried out in pain,
unable to retaliate before the monster was on top of him. It dragged
him into the morass of ice. His fellow troops unleashed fire onto the
creature, shattering its outer body, but it soon began to reform. The
soldier lay still, his wounds already freezing over.
“Out of the way, everyone!” came
the Doctor's voice. “Get to the sides!”
The Doctor wielded what appeared to be
a very hastily cobbled together device. A metallic dish protruded
from its front; wires trailed out precariously from its reverse.
The ice creatures closed on the
Doctor's position. A sudden, intense whine emitted from the device.
There was no visible expulsion of energy, no laser beam or particle
bolt. Just the sound as the electromagnetic waves pulsed into the
creatures' icy bodies. Still they approached, their arms
… and then, they began to shatter.
The joints of their limbs snapped apart. They fell to the floor,
their prone forms liquefying, until soon, they were nothing but slush
upon the floor.
“Get the medic in here now,”
ordered Styne. “Everyone, remove to the control room.”
“That's dealt with them for now, but
I doubt it will last long.”
The Doctor paced around the control
room, energised by the encounter with the creatures.
“The key is that artefact,” he
continued. “I need to see it, see what I can make of it. Only then
might I have some idea what we're dealing with, and put a stop to it.
Cut these creatures off at the source.”
“I agree, Doctor,” said Stynes.
“I'll assemble -”
“Of course, I could just take the
TARDIS straight there,” continued the Doctor, right over her, “but
there's some kind of interference on this planet. Some variety of
temporal energy, and it's making it difficult to home in on the
location. I was able to follow Clarice's signal here, but since then,
the energy disturbance has become almost opaque. I'll need to go
there on foot, and since I don't know the way, I'll need an escort.”
“Of course, Doctor” agreed Styne.
“I'll have an expeditionary force assemble -”
“Although I'm sure you don't
appreciate taking interlopers on military missions any more than I
enjoy hanging out with soldiers, I must ask – oh. Right. An
expeditionary force, excellent Commander.”
“You're welcome, I'm sure.”
The Doctor swung back round to the
“I'll just fetch my heavy coat. Don't
want to catch a chill, now.”
He disappeared back into the box.
Stynes turned on her heel and left via the opposite exit.
Clarice turned to Johan. “Is it just
me, or is the Commander being exceptionally accommodating today?”
Stynes had insisted on a full force of
six soldiers accompany the Doctor through the cave system. The route
had been well recorded before the ice creatures had appeared, but no
one had risked entering the caves since. Now, though, the icy caverns
were distressingly quiet, save for the crunch of boots on frost.
The Doctor started humming an archaic
vaudeville tune, just to jolly things up. He leant close to the burly
individual who marched along to his left.
“Must be nearly there by now, eh?”
he said to the soldier. “I'd say we've walked about a
mile-and-a-half. Still, shouldn't complain, it's probably good for
me. And this cold air is very bracing!” He took in a deep breath,
and let it out noisily. “Ooh yes.” He peered at the soldier's
chestplate. “No name badge then? Any chance you'll tell me, or do I
have to guess?”
“It's de Mose,” replied the soldier
“De Mose, wonderful to meet you,”
smiled the Doctor. “Quiet trip, isn't it? Funny how we've not
bumped into any of those icy chaps, don't you think?”
de Mose. “I don't think. Doesn't matter anyhow. We're there.
The cave route opened out into a wide
cavern, in the middle of which stood what appeared to be an ice
sculpture, five feet tall and entwined with elaborate loops and
whirls. The light from the soldiers' torches reflected off it,
sparkling in the darkness of the cavern itself.
“Interesting,” said the Doctor,
eyeing up the strange object. “No inscriptions that I can see, but
there's something... yes, it's a little psychic, isn't it? I can
almost taste it. No doubt created as some sort of beacon for
whatever, or whomever, previously came to this planet.”
“Very good, Doctor,” said the
leader of the group. “Men, switch to night vision. Lights off.”
The cavern descended into pure
blackness. The Doctor heard the sound of boots scraping as the
soldiers left, back out the way they came.
“Hmm. I did wonder why the Commander
was being so helpful.” The Doctor rummaged in his pockets bringing
out his mobile phone. It provided some illumination, but the Doctor
was disappointed to see it was still unable to penetrate the temporal
energies that surrounded this planet.
“At least I can get a good look at
this,” he said, peering at the psychic artefact. “Although, if
this does display telepathic activity, then whatever created
presumably knows I'm here.” The swung round, shining the light from
his phone around the cavern in an attempt to examine his
surroundings. It was enough to see the ice of the cavern walls
bulging outwards. It creaked like snow underfoot as it formed into
vaguely humanoid shapes. They emanated from all sides, blocking his
escape in any direction.
“As my friend the Admiral once said,
'It's a trap!'”
The Doctor jabbed furiously at his
phone, trying to boost the signal sufficiently to reach back to the
“Come on, come on, you ridiculous
piece of kit... yes!” He spoke into the device. “Oh come on, pick
up... Yes, Master, can you hear me? I need you to home the TARDIS in
on this signal, I'm trapped with -” An angry burst of static
interrupted his speech. “Get help if you have to, but get the
TARDIS here. And don't trust Stynes!” A high pitched whine
signalled the sudden loss of signal. “Oh, marvellous. Isn't it
always the way?”
The ice creatures surrounded the
Doctor, their shapes a terrible pastiche of the human form. Their
misshapen arms extended, their clawed hands slicing through the
Doctor's clothes, coming into painful contact with his flesh. The
cold bit into him, bringing his body temperature crashing down. The
Doctor let out a gasp of pain. In front of him, an ice creature
continued to shift its form, its lumpen face morphing into something
more human, distinctly recognisable...
The Doctor found himself looking into a
mirror. His own face stared back at him, the ice creature now
inhabiting his own form.
The Doctor collapsed as his own face
looked down on him, smiling.
The Master grappled with the controls
of the TARDIS, trying in vain to triangulate the sub-etha telephonic
signal that he had, all so briefly, intercepted.
“Blast!” he growled, losing the
signal completely. “Why the Doctor insists on carting around this
archaic model time capsule I simply do not understand. The indignity
of being slaved to such a primitive device, it makes my blood boil.
Or it would, if I had any.” He drummed his fingers on the console.
“Oh, what to do, what to do... If no signal can make it through
that disturbance... except the one signal we already have a full lock
The Master activated the TARDIS' own
communications system, tracing the radio band back across the signals
previously received in the vicinity of this planet. Finally isolating
the right one, he opened a channel.
“Hello? Hello? Is anyone receiving
“This is Heimdall base receiving you,
please respond, over,” came a female voice.
“Good afternoon, my dear, this is...
oh, call me Masters. I'm inside the Doctor's TARDIS.”
“The blue box standing not ten feet
away from you, do try to keep up. Listen to me; I can't leave the
confines of the TARDIS and the Doctor is in peril. You clearly have a
talent for communications technologies or you never would have
reached us in the first place. Now, I need you to go and find the
Doctor and boost his signal so that I can pilot the TARDIS to him. Is
“I... I think so, but we can't go
down into the caverns. You need a team. I'll get Commander Stynes,
she can -”
“No,” ordered the Master. “Don't
let her know what's going on. I didn't get much from the Doctor but I
know she can't be trusted, so make sure she isn't listening in on
this and get to the Doctor yourselves. You'll be quite safe once as
long as you can boost the signal sufficiently. TARDIS out.”
Clarice closed the line. She turned to
Johan, who stood to her side with a look of confusion on his face.
“Who the hell was that?” asked
“I'm not sure,” replied Clarice,
“but he's obviously a friend of the Doctor. The Doctor needs our
“No chance!” Johan shook his head.
“We are not going out there with those things running around.”
“The ice creatures aren't out there
right now! The microwave weapon destroyed them, at least for now.
We'll be alright if we hurry.” Clarice didn't quite believe
herself, but knew she couldn't go on her own. “I've got Ezra's
notes, we can follow the route to where the Doctor went.”
“And then you can signal this box
thing? The one that's right here, and it'll, what, come and pick us
Clarice grabbed Johan by the shoulders.
“Yes! I can do it, we can do it. The Doctor saved us from those
things, and if he's going to stop them coming back, we need to save
him right back!”
The Doctor awoke, his body seemingly
weightless as he drifted in the inky blackness that surrounded him.
He groped around in his mind for the memory of where he was, and
found himself once more on the icy floor of the cave. It lacked
sensation; no physical sense of the ground beneath or his own weight
bearing down. Only the intense cold.
He remembered. He had lost
consciousness, forced himself to retreat inside his own mind for
protection while his body went into torpor. He was still in the cave,
of course, but this wasn't the true environment. He was inside his
own mind, constructing the environment from his immediate experience.
“In that case,” he said to himself,
“I think something a little more homely is in order.”
The dank cave vanished. A soft amber
light suffused the area around him. Details faded into visibility: a
green leather armchair, a small wooden table, towering bookcases. A
cosy study, just the place to concentrate.
“Something missing... Ah!”
With a thought, a hatstand popped into
existence. The Doctor flung his scarf and overcoat onto the nearest
hook, a sat in the chair. The familiarity of the environment gave
some sense of comfort, the dim light an illusion of warmth, but the
biting cold was still there, painfully niggling at his neurons.
“Come on then,” the Doctor sighed.
“I can feel that you're here. Show yourself, whoever you are.”
“Who indeed, Doctor,” came the
reply, in a voice identical to his own.
His assailant appeared before him,
sporting the same face as him. He was robed in black and sported a
top hat, something that the Doctor himself could certainly envisage
“I like your tailor,” said the
Doctor to his visitor. “Although I think it lacks creativity to
steal someone else's look so brazenly.”
The individual laughed, a harsh,
“I think you have this situation
entirely the wrong way round, Doctor.”
The Doctor grimaced, and materialised a
second chair for his guest. Despite the lack of true physicality in
this subconscious realm, he made the effort to give him a stiff
wooden chair, as uncomfortable as he could imagine, with too-short
legs and a back at entirely the wrong angle.
“Please, sit down,” said the
Doctor. “Make yourself at home.” A tea set appeared on the table.
The Doctor picked up the pot, but, realising that it would do nothing
to actually warm him up, turned it into a carafe of red wine.
2057,” he said. “Might as well take advantage of the cellar when
my imagination is the limit.”
“Oh, excellent, the pointless banter
part of the exchange,” sneered his guest. “How long must we spend
on this? I have been waiting rather a long time for you to show your
face. Or should I say, my face?”
The Doctor sipped heavily at his glass.
“Fine, enough with the pleasantries. You've clearly gone to
contrived and dubious lengths to get me here. I take it the attacks
on the colony were purely to draw me in? Rather a convoluted way to
go about it. You could have just pinged me a text.”
“I had hoped your superiors would
have directed you here, but it seems this little outpost isn't
important enough to warrant their attention. Nonetheless, its
location on a weak point in space/time made it ideal for my entry
into this continuum. Unfortunately, manifesting fully wasn't possible
until I had you in close proximity. So I instructed Stynes send out a
distress call, or I would dispose of her entire populace.”
“All that, just so you could pop into
my subconscious for a chinwag?”
The being smiled thinly. “Not quite.
I have something rather grander in mind.”
The Doctor drained his glass and
slammed it back onto the table.
“Out with it then,” he demanded of
his doppelgänger. “Just who are you, and why this particular
interest in me?”
“I don't suppose you would recognise
me,” replied the visitor. “We met some considerable time ago,
from your perspective. I am known as the Great Intelligence.”
The Doctor raised his eyes to the
“Oh, good grief. You're still hanging
around, causing trouble, are you? I thought I'd dealt with you
several regenerations ago.”
“That was but one aspect of my
consciousness,” replied the Intelligence. “This is the form I
prefer to use, that of my original corporeal host. One that I
impressed upon you as I entered this reality.”
“Come again?” The Doctor did not
like where this conversation was going. “Are you seriously
responsibility for this?” He materialised a handheld mirror. “I
am particularly fond of this face. Cute, sexy, and lick the mirror
“Oh, please don't,” muttered the
Intelligence. “As it happens, that is exactly the case. I was
forced to escape another branch of the timeline and found myself
here. A damaged point in space/time that intersected your own
timestream. I had to engineer your coming here so that I could arrive
here in full, but now that you are here, my influence on you
stretches throughout your existence. Retroactively, of course, but
simple linearity is something I overcame long ago. I influenced your
current physical form at the moment of your regeneration, purely so
that you would become the perfect vessel for me once I finally had
you in my grasp.”
“I see,” said the Doctor. “And
you really expect me to believe all this? You're little more than a
phantasm. Just an ego searching for an id. I've been wiping the floor
with beings like you since I left Gallifrey.”
“And now the hyperbole!” The
Intelligence rose, looming over the Doctor, identical eyes boring
into each other. “You talk the talk, Doctor, but what are you
capable of, really? I've been watching you, up and down this
timeline. An errand boy for your masters, scuttling along in your box
with your tin man at your side. Time for a show tune, Doctor? Just
off to do something eccentric? You're a parody of yourself. You
aren't even aware that, as we've been talking, I have embedded myself
deeply into your biodata. You'll be mine in... oh, about six minutes,
I should estimate.”
The Doctor looked up at his own face,
mulling over the information.
“Well,” he said, finally. “Just
enough time for another glass.”
“He's here!” Clarice cried out, as
her torchlight illuminated the prone body of the Doctor. Frost was
forming on his deathly pale skin. His breathing was so shallow as to
be barely visible.
Johan trudged up behind her. He took in
the sight of the Doctor and put a hand on Clarice's shoulder.
“I think we're too late,” he said,
Clarice pulled an intercom from her
belt, adjusting the frequency until she received a response. The
Doctor's microwave device was slung over her back on a makeshift
strap, hooked up to the intercom with brightly coloured cables. She
activated the device, surging its remaining power through the
intercom's battery. She put the receiver to her face, tucking it into
her padded hood to so that her voice would make it through.
“Masters, can you hear me?”
“Loud and clear, my dear,” came the
cultured tones of the Doctor's friend. “Have you found him?”
“We have, but... I think we might be
too late. He's frozen, I don't think he'll last long enough to get
back to the base.”
“We don't need the base, and the
Doctor is far harder to kill than you might think. Believe me, I know
from experience. Now, boost the signal as much as you can. I need a
strong pulse to home in on.”
“OK – I can boost the power some
more for a short time but it'll burn the battery out pretty quickly.
You'll need to lock onto us in a few seconds.”
“Nothing simpler, my dear.”
Clarice worked as quickly as her
cold-numbed fingers would allow. A sudden whine from the intercom
signalled the surge in power.
“Come on, come on...” she muttered.
“Clarice,” said Johan, “how long
He was cut off by the sudden burst of
sparks that flew from the intercom unit. Clarice yelped and dropped
the device. It sat inert on the ice.
“Damn it...” she murmured, before a
faint noise began to emanate from all around her. Growing in
intensity, that same groaning noise that signalled the Doctor's
appearance before filled the cavern. Around them, subtle shapes began
to appear, gradually becoming bolder and more real until they were no
longer in the cave, but within a broad room in which a dark-clad man
stood at a circular days.
“Welcome aboard, my dear.” He
turned to face Clarice, and raised an eyebrow quizzically. “And you
brought a friend, I see. How quaintly human of you.”
“We got the Doctor to you,” said
Johan, “now it's down to you.”
“No, you got me to the Doctor,”
pointed out the Master with pedantically, “Simply being within the
TARDIS will help him considerably, but he won't regain consciousness
without help. I suppose it is in my hands now.” He crouched down by
the Doctor's body, bringing himself to the same level as Clarice.
“Can you wake him up?” she asked.
“I believe so.” The Master extended
a hand an slapped the Doctor harshly around the face. “Wake up!”
The Doctor groaned as he retained
consciousness. “Was that entirely necessary?”
“I was merely lending assistance
Doctor, although I don't deny there was a certain level of
The Doctor sat up on the floor.
“Clarice, Johan – what are you ding here?”
“We're the ones who found you,”
“That is quite so, Doctor,”
admitted the Master. “I couldn't have done it without them.”
“Well, thank you all for your help,”
said the Doctor, “but I need to put myself back under. There is an
intelligence at work here, trying to subsume my identity. It's still
active in my mind. It will be easier for me to fight it while
unconscious, so that I can focus all my energies on the task.” He
faced the Master. “This planet is on the cusp of a space/time
disturbance. I need you to pilot the TARDIS right into the heart of
“Whatever for?” replied the
“Now that I'm here, I'm fully linked
to the TARDIS through its telepathic circuits. We can work together
and give this usurper a run for his money.” He paused in thought
for a moment. “Oh, and would one of you please fetch me a hot water
“Ah, there you are, Doctor” sneered
the Intelligence. The familiar figure turned around – as did
another, and another, and another. “I am expanding to fill your
mind, Doctor,” gloated the being. “Every facet of your being will
become as me.”
“You really do go on, don't you?”
complained the Doctor. “If you're really so powerful, then why am I
still here at all? I just woke up – why did you allow me even that
brief respite? If I were you, I'd be holding onto this place
“Very soon, you will be me.” The facets of the
Great Intelligence surrounded the Doctor. “It's time to give in.”
“You forget,” said the Doctor, with
quiet confidence. “I am a Time Lord. The ninth in a long line of
incarnations. I am the Doctor, and with me, come all of me!”
With extreme concentration, the Doctor
summoned up the aspects of his own self. Eight other men appeared in
the mental environment. They surrounded the Intelligence as it
surrounded the Doctor. They straightened their lapels, loosened their
cravats and rolled up their ruffled sleeves. The Doctor smiled.
“Sick 'em, boys.”
The ghosts of the Doctor's past selves
tore into the phantoms of the Intelligence, pulling them to the
ground and tearing their ethereal bodies into mist. As quickly as
they were destroyed they reformed, but the Doctors' defences were
relentless. The Doctor, his core self, reached deeper into his mind
still, searching for the link he needed.
“There you are, old girl,” he said,
mentally grabbing hold of the TARDIS' metaphorical hand. “Into the
The Doctor, riding upon the spirit of
the TARDIS, searched through the myriad worlds. He saw himself, in
many forms and with many faces. He saw his previous self regenerate
time and time again, into a multitude of men and women; soldiers,
peacemakers, explorers and romantics. He saw his other selves fight
the Intelligence in its many aspects, again and again with many
friends by his side. One of them bore an astonishing resemblance to
Clarice, but the Doctor could not allow himself time to dwell on this
mystery. He pushed at the moment of his regeneration, where his
connection to space and time was strongest, splintering a baby
universe off into the manifold of possibilities. A tiny, pocket
reality, in which a shadow of his being could reside.
“Bring him here,” he ordered his
mental defences. The avatars of his earlier selves dragged the
kicking, gnashing form of the Intelligence as it coalesced back into
one spectral body. Together, every aspect of the Doctor forced the
being through the split in the timeline.
The Doctor severed the link and closed
the doors of possibility behind him.
“Good work me,” he smiled. “Time
to wake up.”
Clarice scurried over to the Doctor,
who sat up with a broad grin on his face.
“Someone fetch me a very strong
coffee and my inhaler,” he demanded. “That was the most
exhausting sleep I've ever had.”
“You managed to banish the creature?”
asked the Master, watching warily from the console.
“Of course. Did you ever doubt it?”
“What happened?” asked Clarice.
“We've just been waiting for you to wake up.”
“If you want the simple version, an
alien intelligence was trying to take over my body and use me as its
vessel on the material plane. It came here from another branch of my
timestream; I shunted off into yet another. A little dead end I
cooked up in my head; a parody universe to draw its attention. It
should last long enough to stop him from escaping back here again.
I've left a little trick or two there.”
“Very good, Doctor,” said the
Master. “But rest assured I shall be watching you, in case of any
lingering influence from this being. “
“Excellent. I knew you'd come in
“Sorry,” interjected Johan, “but
what about the base? There's still a bunch of ice monsters
threatening the colony.”
“Do try to keep up,” said the
Doctor. “Those creatures were animated by the Intelligence. Just
blunt instruments used to create a situation. They'll rapidly
collapse back to slush without any psychic influence.” He got to
his feet and trotted over to the console. “Now, I believe we left
that rather brusque commander in charge down there. I'm not sure
she's the best bet to keep that colony going. I'll just send a quick
memo off to Fleet Admiral Travers at Earth HQ. I'll let him know the
situation on Heimdall, and there won't be any lightspeed lag to worry
about either. He'll get the colony back on track. He owes me a
“Why?” asked Clarice. “Did you
save him from some alien monsters as well?”
“No. As it happens,” replied the
Doctor. “I introduced him to his wife.” The Doctor flipped a few
switches on the TARDIS console, and turned back to Clarice and Johan.
“Now, what do I do with you two? I had said to myself that I
wouldn't be picking up any more waifs and strays, but given that you
did save my life down there... how about I take you for a quick spin
in the TARDIS before dropping you back on Heimdall?”
“Do you mean it?” asked Clarice.
“A quick spin where?” said Johan in
a more concerned tone.
“Let's find out!” replied the
Doctor, and pitched the TARDIS into flight.
“Marvellous,” sighed the Master,
Across a divide in no-space, in a
pocket universe, an iteration of the Doctor arrived on the planet
Terserus, an iteration of the Master following in his stead. Across
the infinite array of possible worlds, the two Time Lords, in some
form or another, remained linked, as either valued companions or
deadliest enemies. In this particular universe, the Doctor, in his
ninth life and accompanied by his fiancée, faced death once more.
The Great Intelligence broke into this
pocket universe at the moment of this regeneration. Weakened by the
psychic battle with the Doctor of its previous universe, the formless
entity entered the new Doctor's being at that brief moment when space
and time were weakened by the surge in Artron energy.
It had won. The Doctor had forced it
out of one timestream and straight into another, at the exact point
it could do the most damage to the Doctor of this new reality. The
Intelligence moulded the new Doctor's appearance, once again remaking
the Time Lord in its own image.
Instantly, it was trapped. The Doctor's
telepathic warning to his alter ego in the pocket universe
triggered an immediate, deliberate
“I think in my new body I'm going to
be particularly good at rewiring,” joked the new Doctor, frying his
brand new nervous system with electrical energy. Another regeneration
ensued, the sudden rush of Artron energy annihilating the weakened
Intelligence. The barest embers of its psychic form clung on. Another
regeneration might be called for to fully purge the evil being. It
was a sacrifice worth making, to save the Doctor that had instigated
this pocket reality.
It wouldn't be the end. Even the
universe couldn't bear to be without the Doctor. Or that universe. Or
that one. Or the one beyond that...