OR AT LEAST COMING THE MOMENT I CAN ACTUALLY BE ARSED TO TYPE THE SYNOPSIS UP...
Max Sylvester leant back behind his desk and rubbed his dying cigar between his fingertips. Sylvester was an up-and-coming underworld boss, and his success came at a price he was well prepared to pay: notoriety or respect amongst the police force of Great Britain. That was the thing about crime, the most successful criminals were never heard of by anyone. Yet at the same time Sylvester longed for the fame of others had, like Ronny Biggs or the Piranha Brothers. In an attempt to become more physically imposing for those he met face to face, Sylvester had attempted to turn himself into an English version of the Godfather... but all anyone saw was a fat Yorkshireman with a toothbrush moustache and a strange mumbling voice.
The latest person to fail to make the connection between Sylvester and one of Marlon Brando’s famous film characters was one Professor Alfred Pillbright – a tall, thin, balding man whose wispy beard was premature white. He stood in a rather faded checked jacket and suit, looking for all the world like he was addressing a lecture hall of unruly students. It was a manner that rubbed Sylvester up the wrong way and Pillbright had been lucky enough to escape Sylvester’s temper so far.
Pillbright had first come to the attention of Sylvester when he began approaching any kind of gang or syndicate he could, offering promises of unlimited riches in return for quite a lot of money in the present. Sylvester had listened, mainly so he could turf out Pillbright in a suitably humiliating manner, but the Professor’s pitch had interested him. Quite simply, the scientist had discovered a way to disintegrate solid matter, a kind of laser gun that could destroy a safe door or a vault hatch in seconds – cutting down the time needed for bank raids or worrying about security. Pillbright was confident to the point of supreme arrogance, and no one in Sylvester’s secluded London house or any experts he dared contact could understand the theory. Somehow it worked by turning the target into raw information or something.
Sylvester had demanded a test to prove it worth his time. Pillbright explained that his request for cash up front was simply to finance creating a disintegrator to his design. The only one he had been able to build on his own was too weak to be of use – it took three hours to take an effect, but it had nevertheless managed to gut a suitcase full of incriminating photographs Sylvester wished destroyed.
Convinced by the demonstration, Sylvester gave Pillbright the cash and two weeks later, Pillbright returned with a strange robotic creature, like a giant salt-shaker with a camera lens, an egg whisk and for some reason a toilet plunger. Pillbright refused to explain why he had built it in such a shape but was confident it could work. The bank raid went perfectly, with the strange device aiming its egg whisk at the vault door and two-and-a-half tonnes of solid steel melted in a dazzling negative glow.
After that things went less perfectly.
It seemed that destroying the massive door had meant turning it into hard radiation – which had seeped into all the money they had stolen, and Pillbright had dryly told them to dump it before Sylvester’s men had succumbed to radiation poisoning. It hadn’t been quick enough to spare them all being hospitalized. The police were on red alert and not only had Sylvester lost three men but also all the funds. It was then Pillbright demanded more money to improve the mobile tank device, so there would be no radioactive fallout and – what’s more – had somehow worked out a scheme to rob the Bank of England itself!
“The disintegrator,” Pillbright was explaining of his strange creation, “will work like a robot. Nothing will be able to stop it and the vaults will be ours! I’ve made it respond to your voice and commands only. All I am asking for is a fair share of the money when we pull off the Bank of England job...”
Sylvester finally squeezed from out of his desk and peered at the metallic shape, which seemed to stare back through its eye-camera. “It’ll do anything I say then, Prof?” Sylvester wheezed. “Respond to me alone? How?”
“Trust me, Sylvester,” sneered Pillbright.
“So it’s completely under my control?” Sylvester pressed.
“Yes!” the old man snapped. “It will do anything you ask!”
“So if I tell it to kill you?” asked Sylvester.
“What are you...” began the outraged Pillbright as the machine revolved to aim its egg whisk at him.
“I order you to kill him,” Sylvester said with a smile.
The professor was backing away in horror. “No, no—”
The machine trained its weapon on the retreating human, and then fired. Professor Pillbright was blasted across the study by the force, unable to do anything but scream as the energy exploded from the gunstick. From the point of contact a strange glow spread and rippled across the dying body, showing the skeleton beneath the flesh and bones like an x-ray. The rippling effect faded and the corpse slumped to the floor.
The Dalek turned once more to face Sylvester. It was not a true Dalek, merely a motorized tank in the form of the Dalek, built by the now-dead Pillbright with the fee he had convinced the gangster to hand over. Pillbright had been a willing agent for the Daleks, but his usefulness had expired and keeping Sylvester on side was far more important now.
These Daleks were refugees from the collapse of the time corridors. Marooned in the 1970s, the handful of Daleks used all their resources to construct a lunar base on the dark side of the moon. With no space craft, they were stranded there and Earth’s moon exploration was too random and limited for them to make use of. In desperation, they began sending messages in code to the Earth on a very specific bandwidth. Only advanced technology could detect the signal and high intellect unravel the code. Pillbright had managed both, but in doing so had lost his job and was virtually penniless. He had become totally obsessed with solving the code, and it was easy for the Daleks to manipulate him.
The original plan was simple – give Pillbright enough knowledge to construct an open-ended transmat relay with which the Daleks could travel to Earth and make a bid for invasion. Alas, while the human understood the theory, the technology simply didn’t exist and he had not the funds to construct it. His best efforts resulted in a rude disintegrator, something that broke down matter into energy but couldn’t put it back together or even direct the energy to another location.
The Daleks were nothing if not cunning. The disintegrator would be a makeshift weapon and Pillbright was ordered to interest the wealthy in such a weapon, underplay its success and demand money to improve it. Instead, the money would be used to construct the artificial Dalek that the genuine articles on the moon could use by remote. This robot would become “the disintigrator” for the human criminals to use while Pillbright collected the cash and continued work on the transmat. Alas, things were spiraling out of control with the unintentionally-contaminated bank vault and now it appeared that the authorities had managed to contact the Doctor – the Third Doctor – to investigate.
Pillbright was a liability, a lead to their enemy, and the new plan was chosen. The robot Dalek would aide Sylvester, gain confidence, and then construct the transmat itself – it might take months or even years, but a Dalek lifespan was far beyond any human’s. They could afford to wait and they could afford Pillbright being exterminated to prove a point.
It was ironic, therefore, that they had completely run out of time.
Even as Sylvester’s hired goons Sid and Kelly drew their guns at Pillbright’s abrupt execution, the window panes began to rattle as if some hurricane was battering Sylvester’s house. The man himself looked up as something bright, shiny and silver seemed to be hanging above the woods outside. He opened his mouth to speak, but realized he had no idea what he should say.
The French windows blew open silently as the light outside increased in brilliance, flooding the London house with a building glare. The robot Dalek stared into light and awaited instructions from its masters upon the moon. But no instructions came, for even now the deserted lunar base was slowly beginning to evaporate from the surface of the moon – gently swept away from reality like its Dalek occupants. Hovering high above was another silver saucer. For a long moment, its shadow was cast on the empty crater, and then that too vanished.
A million miles below on Earth, the light finally spiraled away.
Max Sylvester’s study was empty, since he had no reason to be there. He, Sid and Kelly were at a racetrack in Cricklewood, having a bet with their three companions who were no longer in hospital as they’d never suffered radiation poisoning. Sylvester had never met Professor Pillbright, and that was why the Professor was alive and well and working at a government think tank. He’d never received that odd signal that had ultimately destroyed his life, as there was never any Daleks to send it.
In a certain bank, a teller blinked and took a second look at the sealed vault door. For a split second she had had the strangest impression it had disappeared in some kind of robbery. But it was still there, solid and real as ever. She put the strange thought out of her mind and no one ever suspected history had been rewritten, though UNIT’s scientific advisor did feel strangely puzzled that morning that the police hadn’t called for his assistance. But, putting it down to preoccupation after the loss of Jo Grant, the Doctor dismissed the strange sensation and never gave it another thought.
Elsewhere in the building, the meticulous files of UNIT activities shimmered into a new arrangement. The file of Austerly House and Coal Hill ceased to exist, and all mentions of the name “Dalek” vanished with it. No filing error was noticed, because no one remembered anything different.