I post this to wash Yahtzee out of my mind...
The world was millions upon millions of years old, but in terms of civilization it was very young. It had passed through the usual passages of growth and formation, suffered heavy asteroid strikes that in turn lead to ice ages and finally stabilized. Mammalian life survived such disasters better than cold-blooded reptiles, but both were ultimately thriving as the ages passed. The world they lived in was an uncomplicated paradise, simple, wild, and beautiful.
Simians were evolving at their own pace. They had developed their dexterity enough to adapt to life in trees and on the ground, the tribes deciding that caves were more reliable and defendable homes. Some had realized that picking more fruit than was desired could leave a surplus to feed them for rainy days when no one wanted to go picking and get their fur wet. Of course, the fruit often went bad, and the apes mused on how to make this spare food last longer while others attempted to grow fruit trees closer to home for easier access. It would take many centuries for a proper civilization to flourish, but it had started nonetheless.
And then, one day, everything changed.
The apes were out in the fields, minding their own business so as not to antagonize the unfriendly reptiles that patrolled the area when they saw something none of them had ever witnessed before. In the cloudless and cobalt blue sky were floating three... things. They were not birds, yet they flew. They were circular, shiny, and the sunlight bounced painfully off their polished bodies. There was not a sound as the shapes grew larger and closer, slicing through the sky towards the fields.
The apes nudged each other and pointed in awe at the shapes. The more artistic types would remember this and spend years of their life trying to retell it in paintings on the walls of their cave. In millennia to come, the descendents of those apes would puzzle at dots on the ceilings and wonder what they could mean? But they would not accept any evidence, no matter how concise or clear, that they portrayed their ancestors’ encounters with life from another planet. It was myth, corrupted religion, plain and simple. No matter how many times the gods were described as flying in discs, or how many stories told coming down from the skies, it would not be believed. Other explanations would be offered, and the inconsistencies ignored.
But all of that was to come.
Here and now the silver shapes descended out of the sky, an invisible wind pressing down the crops. The apes backed away, fleeing to a distance where they were sure they could be safe and avoid being crushed. But the apes were curious and cautiously approached the three objects. Holes appeared in the sides and creatures emerged out into the sunshine.
They were humanoid – two arms, legs, eyes, nostrils. They were similar enough to the apes for them not to recoil in fear. But the creatures were far from familiar. They were shorter than the apes, completely hairless, their arms as long as their bodies, with large dark eyes that took up a large part of their oval heads. Their smooth skin, large eyes and small faces made them look like infants. They wore a simple one-piece outfit of material that reflected the intelligent gaze of the apes.
And suddenly none of the apes could move.
They couldn’t try to communicate with the dwarves, or resist as a seemingly random choice was made and friends and loved ones were picked out. The males could not defend their families as they were broken up, or even complain as they too were marched into the silver objects. Not one of the dwarves spoke, or gave the vaguest hint as to why this was happening. Within minutes the tribes had been decimated and the dwarves entered the discs. The apes knew they would not see their kidnapped fellows again, and when their freedom was returned to them in as strange a manner as it had been robbed, they could only scream: in rage, in sadness, in terror or confusion.
The last dwarf seemed to watch with mild interest at their despair, before entering the silver shape. The holes vanished and the shapes lifted up and up into sky, returning to wherever they came. The apes retreated to their caves and remained there, trapped in mourning and fear until hunger and desperation drove them once more out into the light.
The dwarves did not return. Nor did those they had taken. Other things were seen in the sky in the years that followed. Some were seen to land on the ground and open to reveal strange beings, but none returned those that had been lost. The apes developed and evolved, but they never truly forgot that day when creatures from beyond comprehension arrived and took what was most precious without any appeal. They were remembered as hobgoblins, and monsters, devils and demons or even other apes corrupted by evil. The night became something to be feared, and lights in the sky a portent of doom.
A billion years later, the scenario had a name.
And that name was “alien abduction”.
In the blink of an eye the Skarosian solar system was ripped apart. The sun had been turned into a supernova in a heartbeat, followed by the twelve planets that orbited as they were vaporized. Alvega, Solturis, Varnicon, Calliopticon, Parnay, Bartingor, Summaria, Tauranus, Excalation, Sukannan, Terroth, and most important of all Skaro with its Flidor moons Falkus and Omega Mysterium.
The Hand of Omega had been meant to transform Skaro’s sun into the energy source of a new empire across time and space, but instead it had destroyed that sun and everything around it. Now it was hurtling back through time and space to finish off the last stronghold of the Dalek species.
Aboard the Imperial mothership Eret-mensaiki Ska, the Emperor of the Dalek was at the rear of the bridge as three identical, white-and-gold Daleks monitored the data streaming out of their flight consoles. Above all was the main screen showing the wibbial features of the Oncoming Storm, the one they called Doctor.
His expression had not changed even as the Daleks grated and screamed the
The ultimate quirradell turned to face the ultimate karneen of the Daleks.
“You tricked me!” Davros wailed.
“No, Davros,” said the Doctor icily. “You tricked yourself. Did you really think I’d let you have the Hand of Omega?”
Davros felt a wave of misery crush him. Skaro and the heart of the Dalek Empire was gone, and in moments the Hand of Omega would return and tear the mothership apart. There could only be one rescue now – that the Doctor might spare their lives in his infinite compassion. “Do not do this, I beg of you!” Davros screamed up at the latest face of his mortal enemy.
“Nothing can stop it now,” the Doctor announced calmly.
One of the Daleks was counting down the seconds until impact.
Davros was almost sobbing. “Have pity on me!”
The face was as impassive as ever. “I have pity for you,” he retorted. “Goodbye, Davros,” he continued with a sigh. “It hasn’t been pleasant.”
With but seven seconds before impact, Davros watched as the screen faded and died as the Doctor cut the connection to the ship. He had lead them all to their fate.
Another second passed as Davros’ life support systems flooded what was left of his body with mood-stabilizers and sedatives. His senses became crystal sharp and he could think without a rising sense of panic. This was not the first time he had been trapped aboard a doomed space craft – and, as then, the course of action was simple.
Davros sent the impulse that closed his Imperial armor around him even as he hurtled back into the lift shaft at his casing’s top yaren. The Emperor Dalek already signaled the nearest available escape pod to prepare for immediate launch as the lift engaged, lowering Davros towards freedom. The three Daleks were left behind on the bridge, two of them narrating his escape attempt while the third continued the final countdown to the final wemmleen.
With six seconds remaining, Davros reversed into the escape pod and engaged the mechanism. The Hand of Omega was a precision instrument, but there was a chance its instructions were simply to destroy the mothership, not any escape pods that were in the area. It was a slim chance, but better than the certainty of death if he stayed behind. While he survived, the Daleks could never truly be destroyed.
At four seconds, the escape capsule broke loose of the massive white hull and tumbled out into the void at top speed, away from the Eret-mensaiki Ska, away from Earth, away from the Hand of Omega as it swept in arc that ended as it punched through the underside of the spacecraft. The Hand of Omega released all the energy feedback it had gathered from the supernova and Davros’ flagship was evaporated into a fireball.
The escape pod plunged into infinity, and the cabin temperature plunged towards zero. Frost began to form against the massive domed top of Davros’ imperial shell. The forten of the explosion rumbled the Emperor Dalek as the shockwave finally found an atmosphere to with which to make noise.
Davros waited patiently for it to fade before he decided what was needed to do next.
His reconstituted empire was gone now. The Imperial Daleks had reached for the power of time and had failed. His forces would now be as scattered and powerless as the Renegades had been. Spread too thinly in resources and distance to combine forces, their common point of reference – their home planet – now gone. And their Emperor, their Creator, the only one who could start again was marooned in a backwater solar system three thousand years before any of his possible rescuers could even exist.
Hatred and the desire for revenge was there. But then, they were always there.
There was no help coming and Davros could not help himself. He would have to wait until his shuttle made a landing – most likely a crash-landing – or else was found by someone or something he could use. There were too many variables, no clear course of action. The future looked xerod, a barren desert with slow lingering death on the horizon.
But that wasn’t certain. Nothing was. If Davros learnt anything over the millennia he lived, it was that you never knew – you could never know – what might happen next...
It was then that butterfly swirls of light flooded all the observation ports in the escape pod for a long moment before retreating. The capsule rocked as it was suddenly on solid ground in normal gravity, and the frost forming on the interior began to melt as the air warmed up from zero.
A signal was received by the escape pod to open its main hatch. Davros sent a countermand signal, but an override was already being transmitted. The Emperor of the Daleks was hidden deep inside his eggshell of bonded polycarbide, fildor gold, haberg lining and silcronian panels, with no offensive weaponry. For centuries, Davros had never needed it, but now it was rammed home how defenseless he was.
Three Daleks were standing outside the capsule. All of them were gunmetal black, the sensor globes around their bodies gleaming silver, as were the electrostatic panels around the shoulders and the photosonic screens built into the ventilation grille around the neck. The eyestalks were long, unaltered tubes lacking any of the discs usual in the lens. They were of no design Davros had authorized. His rescuers – assuming of course they were rescuing him – were not Daleks constructed in his time.
Clearly, therefore, they were Daleks from his future. Survivors from the Doctor’s cataclysmic trickery.
Davros felt the pride at knowing his creations had once again escaped extinction, but he did not raise the shutter to greet them. Through the sensors on his exterior, Davros watched the dispassionate cyclops eye of the lead Dalek. “Nizzial,” he said, his weak voice transformed into a harsh grating polysyllable by the polyvox systems in the Imperial casing. It was an old, rarely-used saying in the ancient Kaled tongue: implying brotherhood and friendship, an invitation to share troubles and hardship. Literally it meant the one beside you is yourself. All Daleks understood the word and its meaning; Davros had programmed it into their vocabulary bank as a simple code of allegiance in situations where confidence in fellow Daleks would be compromised, a password to be trusted.
The Dalek stared at the Emperor for a long moment. “Kaa,” it ordered when Davros repeated the word.
The Emperor fell silent as instructed, but more from outrage than disgust. He commanded the shield to unfold and reveal his head and shoulders to the Daleks. “Do you not remember me?” he hissed. “Have you forgotten your creator?”
“We have not forgotten you,” the Dalek replied. “We remember you – and your crimes.”
“Crimes?” Davros mocked.
“Your madness has brought us time and again to the brink of destruction,” the Dalek grated. “Yet you still believe we should follow you even though following your insane desires would lead to the destruction of the Dalek species! You are a threat to our survival – you destroyed Skaro.”
“The Doctor destroyed Skaro!” Davros corrected.
“The Doctor manipulated you into destroying Skaro,” a second Dalek spoke.
“You should have tested the device on the Earth star first rather than endangering the homeworld,” agreed the third. “Reasonable caution would have prevented the catastrophe.”
“Your quest has failed. The Daleks have survived and are on the verge of achieving universal supremacy. You are no longer required as our leader.”
Davros chuckled. “Without me,” he said evenly, “you are nothing.”
“Without you,” the lead Dalek retorted, “we are the masters of space. Without you, our armies are growing in number. Without you, victories are being achieved on many worlds. Without you, the Daleks are a unified race. We are unstoppable! All inferior species shall be obliterated!”
“But, the Doctor...” Davros began.
“Is irrelevant,” the Dalek cut over his words. “The new Empire will deal with the Doctor in due course.”
“And how will you deal with me? Extermination?”
“You an inferior humanoid life form. But the continuity of our timeline depends on your existence.”
Davros was not entirely sure what the Dalek was referring to, but understood one fact plainly. “Then you must let me live,” he concluded.
“You will not be exterminated,” the Dalek agreed. “‘Living’ is not required.”
Before Davros could close the shutter, all three Daleks trained their neutralizer blasters at him and fired. The blaze of light flooded the interior of the Emperor Dalek casing, irradiating the disembodied head contained within. Everything bleached into a flat, dazzling negative that scoured Davros’ mind like a searchlight that blotted out the Daleks, the capsule and the whole universe.
And then Davros was lost in the darkness once again...
The Klims were strangers to fear. The centaur-like inhabitants of the planet Ercos, the only planet of the fourteen-strong Relram system to support carbon-based life, the Klims lived in perfect harmony with the flora and fauna of their world. For thousands of years they had roamed free, the benevolent climate and lack of predators meaning they had little requirements for technology or weapons. Ercos was all they required and it supplied in abundance.
So when the alien spacecraft had descended from the skies, the Klims were far from afraid. Other such visitations had occurred, usually by explorers or lost tourists, all of whom proved friendly, harmless and often sad to leave. Eager to greet the new arrivals, they had gathered all the food they could carry to offer as a gift and token of friendship to the occupants.
A friendly and polite people, the Klims didn’t react at the ugly appearance of their visitor – dull grey, armored, legless, with manipulator arms, weapons and camera emerging from its polished metal body. “You are welcome to stay, stranger...” began the lead Klim, Garu.
The creature did not let him finish. Lights on its domed head flashed in time with an ugly, mechanical screech: “The Daleks are now your masters! Obey or you will be exterminated!”
Garu let out a full-bellied laugh. “We are servants to no one, my friend!”
The Dalek stood framed in the airlock, twitching its limbs as the herd of centaurs laughed at it. “You will obey!” it grated, only to be met by even more laughter at its strange voice and stupid commands. The Klims were proudly independent and had a cutting sense of humor. “The Daleks will be obeyed!” the Dalek continued, but was barely heard over the laughs of its audience. “You will obey! Obey!”
The Klims continued to laugh at the newcomer.
So the Dalek trained its gunstick on Garu and fired. The ray engulfed the centaur, who let out a scream before his smoldering corpse fell into the grass. The Dalek was already firing again and two more Klims twisted and distorted as the energy beam tore them apart. By the time their burnt bodies slumped to the ground, the Dalek was gliding down the ramp from the ship. Behind it was another Dalek. The moment it was in the doorway it too was firing on the crowd of fleeing Klims.
“Take no prisoners!” ordered the third Dalek as it emerged from the ship and shot down a young female Klim who fell lifeless to the ground before she even had time to duck.
The fatal blasts sliced into the inhabitants, and their screams were louder even than their laughter moments earlier. All the time the Daleks were chanting their war cry, over and over again: “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! EXTERMINATE!”
The energy beams flashed back and forth for a moment and then the Daleks stopped firing.
The verdant meadow they had landed in was now pitch dark as if the sun had vanished. The Daleks paused for but a moment as their sensors re-calibrated to the infra-red and they could see perfectly once again. But slaughtering the remaining handful of Klims was no longer important. Where had the sunlight gone? The star Relram was still high in the sky with no astral body interrupting its path, but somehow no light was reaching the world below.
“What is happening?” demanded the lead Dalek. “Analyze cause of spectrum disturbance!”
“Alert!” grated the Dalek in the airlock. “Unidentified object located ahead!”
The Daleks rotated their bodies in unison to face the area where the Klims had just been gathered. Suddenly, with no warning, something had appeared beyond the smoking corpses of Garu and the others. For a moment it seemed like a forest fire had sprung up when no one was looking, a strange red glow fluctuating like an explosion in slow-motion. Even as the Daleks turned to confront the shape it suddenly change from a shapeless red into a sharp triangle of red, blue and white, surrounded by a strange yellow mist. The bright rainbow lights shone, reflected off the armored hides of the Daleks as the shape sharpened into focus – an intricately-textured, domed disc resting on tripod legs.
The Daleks glided forward, their shadows cast on the dome somehow out of phase – when the Daleks slowed to a halt, the shadows continued to grow for a moment. A shaft of light emanated from beneath the disc, shining like a pillar into the grass. A being floated down the light, a small child-like shape in a silver suit. Its eyes were large and round, filling its oval head. Two more slowly descended from the craft to join their fellow, and more followed.
The lead Dalek who had begun the slaughter trained its gunstick on the nearest creature, who stared expressionlessly back at it. The Dalek did not recognize the aliens, but all signs portrayed them as non-hostile, perhaps even the genuine visitors the Klim were welcoming with open arms. The newcomers showed no surprise at the smoking corpses or the metallic invaders. They just stared at the Daleks with their unblinking obsidian eyes.
“Who are you?” the Dalek leader demanded after the silence dragged on.
The creature gave no reply.
“Who are you?” the Dalek repeated in a louder voice. “Answer! ANSWER!”
The aliens focussed their gaze on the lead Dalek. Perhaps they were curious at its attempts to communicate, or contemptuous at the presumption they would talk. It was impossible to tell what they were thinking, but it was obvious that they were not going to speak.
The Dalek decided enough time had been wasted. The technology to matter-phase a craft like this was useful. The aliens would surrender their technology and either become slaves or die. They would all die eventually, for that is what they deserved. Only Dalek life merited survival. The death of one of the aliens would provoke a reaction from the others.
The Dalek aimed at the first alien and fired.
The laser-like rays washed over the dwarf-like creature. But the creature did not stiffen and scream as every single living cell was ripped apart by the deadly radiation. It did not react at all, even as the beam cut off. The Dalek waited for the alien to collapse forward into the turf, but nothing happened.
“Weaponry malfunction!” announced the lead Dalek.
Its fellows opened fire on the small group of aliens, who waited patiently as the lethal blasts obviously failed to rip into their diminutive bodies. The neutralizer weapons had less effect on them than water on a duck’s back. The Daleks fell silent, searching for an explanation. There was no kind of force field or energy barrier preventing their rays, yet there was no malfunction in their weapons. But the weapons were designed to destroy living matter. So why were the aliens not dead?
The only logical answer was the aliens were not alive to be killed in the first place.
Such a concept was nonsense, and the Daleks one by one dismissed the idea and waited for the aliens to do something. Anything. Whatever action they took, even if it was no action at all, could give a clue as to their purpose, their origin, their interest in events on Ercos.
The Daleks did not have long to wait.
The lead alien raised a small, delicate hand, wrapped around a metallic object – a triangular, elongated pyramid that reflected the light from the space craft and send myriad shards of light out into the darkness of the meadow. The alien stared at the device as if fascinated, and then, with both hands, seemed to offer it to the lead Dalek as the Klims had offered food, as a gift.
The Dalek angled its eyestalk to peer down at the object.
The pyramid seemed to pulse with light.
The Dalek seemed to pulse in sympathy. “What is happening?” it cried out, voice rapidly becoming blurred and strained. It sounded like it was drowning. “What are you doing to us?” it gargled, and then it simply could not make noise any more. The Dalek leader was starting to glow, brighter and brighter.
Its fellow Daleks opened fire on the aliens, to the same lack of response, and then they too began to pulse and glow. The metal invaders froze like statues, glowing fiercely until they were all blurring, and shimmering and fading. The lead Dalek began to disintegrate. Its round base, its globe-covered skirt, its plunger and gun-stick, all began to disperse like was being submerged by something invisible. The tide crept higher, consuming the neck-grilles, eyestalk and domed head.
The Dalek leader completely disappeared into nothingness.
The other Daleks were vanishing in the same way, as one by one they were swallowed up and disappeared, and then their landed saucer too began to be gentle erased from existence. In a matter of moments, the Daleks and their technology had all vanished without trace. The alien cradled the throbbing pyramid in its paws, and the device became inert once more.
The aliens turned to face each other, they nodded, and in silence began to float up back into their spacecraft. In moments, only their leader was left. It stood for a moment, looking out at the field the Daleks had once stood, face unreadable. And then it turned and left.
Suddenly, it was daylight again. There were no space craft of any kind in the meadow, nor evidence there ever had been. Garu and countless other Klim lay in the grass and sunshine for a moment, dazed and confused. They’re been massacred... but they were all alive and in perfect health. The centaurs who had fled were returning, just as confused. Something terrible had happened, but the details were fading from their minds. And how could it have been terrible when no one was even injured?
The Klims gathered up their discarded food and had a picnic to calm themselves down. Within an hour, not one of them remembered even being troubled. The planet Ercos went on with its life, having never encountered the Daleks and it never would again.
Others intended to make certain of that.