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Return of the Doctor Part 6 of 6
The Doctor's Return
"Return of the Doctor"
Romana and the Master raced down the corridor, their destination being the
Doctor's TARDIS. They reached the landing point, but the familiar blue police
box was nowhere to be seen.
"Where could it have gone?"
"My control room may have picked up its departure." With that the Master
turned and ran down the corridor, the Time Lady following.
Meanwhile, in another dimensionally transcendental police box, the Doctor,
the fake Cyberman at his side, stood facing ... could he bring himself to admit
it ... himself? As if sensing the unasked question, the white-haired figure
gave his reply. "Oh, of course I'm not you ... well, not in the real sense."
With this he began relating how he and his granddaughters Barbara and Susan had
created "Tardis," coincidentally the exact same acronym that the Doctor's own
granddaughter had coined shortly after their flight from Gallifrey in a
half-working time capsule. Doctor Who related how his soon-to-be son-in-law
Ian Chesterton (the Doctor stood in awe at the similarities between the two
men) accidentally propelled them on their historic meeting with the Daleks.
The Doctor mentally constructed the frightening picture painted by his Terran
counterpart; the similarities were astounding, but there were a few interesting
differences as well.
Doctor Who concluded his account of his first meeting with the Daleks,
which had paralled the Time Lord's own meeting with his "crew". "When we tried
getting back from the Daleks' planet, well, apparantly Mr. Chesterton had
botched things up far worse than I had anticipated. We hopped from the time of
Christ to the end of time itself." As Doctor Who continued on, the Doctor
noticed a note of bitterness creep in to the narrative, slowly festering like
an infected wound. "Oh, we finally found our way back to Earth, only to be
thrown into the fray again, this time in Earth's twenty-second century. We
barely survived that time. Once again, though, we found it difficult to return
to our own time. I set the controls for lateral movement, hoping that,
somehow, that could jar Tardis into working properly. There was a violent
jolt, and we had indeed moved laterally. Something else had happened, though.
A young girl calling herself Susan met us as we opened the door. Come to find
out she thought we were you."
By this time the Doctor, with his greater knowledge of the universe, had
realized what had actually happened. A parallel universe of some sort must
exist, he thought. Not a completely unknown phenomenon, just look at E-space,
but this was slightly different from the negative-coordinate version of normal,
or "N", space. Apparantly this "Doctor Who" fellow had caused that "lateral
movement" at precisely the same point in space ("his space") and time as he
himself had dematerialized from Earth, leaving his own granddaughter behind to
make a place for herself on their adopted planet. The departure of a TARDIS
always left a "hole" in time and space at the point where it enters the time
vortex. If Doctor Who had forced a lateral movement at exactly the same time
and place as that ... yes, considering the methodology used in this other time
vehicle, it could indeed cause a break-through in the fabric between dimensions.
"Ah, yes, Susan ... how was she when you..."
"SILENCE!" the aged voice bellowed. "It was thanks to your precious
granddaughter that my own Susan was lost to me forever!"
Romana and the Master carefully made their way back to his control room,
noticing (thankfully) that their way remained unhindered. They rounded the
final corner, the Master in the lead, when the Time Lady found herself being
pushed back forcefully. Exclaiming in pain, her temper began to flare when the
Master raised a finger to his artificial lips. "I should have known it
wouldn't be as easy as we hoped." Romana carefully peeked around the corner to
see a Dalek standing guard at the control room entrance. She noticed that this
Dalek wasn't exactly the same as the ones she remembered encountering with the
Doctor shortly after her first regeneration. This one had larger heat
discharge units on its "head", and a much wider motion base than the others.
"One that the Commander managed to scare up somewhere. I've never seen that
exact type myself." Slowly the duo moved back. "Our only other possibility is
to confront the Commander himself." The Master, without waiting for his
companion's approval, passed in front of her and began retracing their steps
down the corridor.
"I pursued you, Doctor," the elderly Earth scientist continued, "hoping
against hope that I could catch you and make you pay for what you did. I
traced you leaving your home planet. I followed, but your vehicle disappeared
from my scanners. I back-traced your path, and found landing on Gallifrey
rather easy. I demanded to know how to stop you, but they all seemed to hold
some sort of respect for you ... said you had just become their President, or
some such nonsense. I took a hostage, a young woman who liked to wear a
leather outfit and had a knack for weilding a knife. Pretty thing, but of no
use to me. I finally found your old enemy, and managed to help him ... for a
price. With his help I will exact my vengence on your race. You'll pay for
the loss of my dear, dear Susan..." With this he lapsed for a second into a
solemn moment; when it had passed, his face revealed the same pixie-ish
sparkle, laced with malice toward his counterpart.
"But I know my granddaughter, Who. She would never let any harm come to
anyone, not if she could help it."
"You are WRONG!" trembled the old voice. "My little Susan went off with
your granddaughter, and I never saw her again. I had to leave ... I was told
the Daleks were returning, and they didn't want me around. When I returned, no
one had ever heard of my darling Susan. They had, though, heard of your
treacherous granddaughter, and how she had disappeared only recently. It was
obvious that she took my Susan away with her, to some dark corner of Gallifrey,
no doubt, to rob from her my time travel secrets."
The Doctor was about to explain that the Time Lords already had all the
time travel secrets they felt they needed, when a feminine voice came from the
"Cyberman" at the Doctor's side. "No, that's not how it happened." The Doctor
was only slightly surprised that his mysterious benefactor would reveal herself
at that time, but his Terran alter-ego dropped his jaw. "I know that voice."
The woman removed her makeshift Cyberman disguise.
Romana and the Master came to the corridor at the end of which lay the
guarded door of the renegade Time Lord's former master. "Do we have to go in
there?" the Time Lady asked, knowing in advance the answer. They had both
traced the TARDIS to the room, after it had been moved somehow to a freight
"Come along, hostage," the Master bellowed. Astonished, Romana let
herself be ferociously grabbed by the Master and be dragged toward the guarded
door. What a fool I have been, she thought, to believe him. The duo
approached the Cyber-guards. "The Commander wishes to interrogate her." One
of the guards pushed a button near the door, and the portal opened to admit the
two. The Master pushed the Time Lady through the open door and calmly walked
after her, allowing the Cyberman to seal the door as it had been before.
Romana picked herself up from the floor, her eyes blazing with anger, when
the Master smiled, then looked worried. "Please forgive me, dear lady," the
once-malevolent voice told her. "I had to make it appear to those Cybermen
that I was still under his control. As I had hoped, they hadn't been informed
of my ... dismissal." Romana, however, had turned toward the center of the
room, and she now stood amazed at the sight which greeted them. The room
contained not the single blue police box they had seeked, but TWO police boxes,
one slightly newer and in better condition than the other on its right. Moving
toward the newer of the two vehicles, she tried to open the door, to no avail.
The Master restrained her arm, motioning her to keep silent, and bent over, ear
pressed on the door.
"Susan? My goodness, child, you've grown up." (the Master recognized
this as the voice of the "Commander")
The woman, her Cyberman disguise now removed, revealing an attractive
woman dressed in twenty-second century work coveralls, embraced her
grandfather. "Oh, grandfather, I was so worried about you."
"I thought you dead ... or taken hostage. What happened, child?"
Susan began her narrative at the time she and "Mrs. Campbell," who she
later found out was her own counterpart in this time-stream, had gone off to
talk. She was resting when the rag-tag community located, using equipment
re-built and improved thanks to Susan Campbell's knowledge from Gallifrey, a
Dalek ship entering the solar system. Susan Who alone was involved in the
tracking when she was knocked unconscious from debris falling in from the
unrepaired ceiling. Susan Campbell had little trouble convincing the people
that Doctor Who should leave the place, fully realizing that these Daleks were
far different from the ones he had encountered. It was after he had left and
the Dalek cruiser ousted that they discovered that his granddaughter was still
alive. The two Susans spent many months together, both as friends and as
partners, helping Earth rebuild itself. They also collaberated in building a
new travel device which they hoped Susan Who, now a teenager, could use to find
her grandfather. They had only enough success with the extra equipment they
could piece together to build a single-use transmat beam. They were about to
test it when a black object appeared in the sky above them. The Susans split
up, and Susan Who noticed that it went for her friend. She later found out
that it was the business end of a Gallifreyan "time scoop", which a President
seeking immortality used to capture her grandfather and four of his later
incarnations to play "the game of Rassilon." She had also discoverd at that
time that her grandfather had come back for her, after 10 years her time, but
refused to listen to anyone after he was told of Susan Campbell's
disappearance. Susan Who then decided to use the transmat beam, locating what
she thought to be her grandfather's "Tardis," and beam herself aboard it. To
her shock, she found herself aboard the Master's TARDIS. She learned of the
strange "Commander" who wanted to wreak havoc on the universe, and recognized
his voice as that of her grandfather. Since then she had been trying to find a
way to somehow help her grandfather get over his apparant insanity.
"My dear granddaughter," Doctor Who sobbed, "I've been a fool." He turned
toward his Gallifreyan counterpart and offered his right hand. "My dear
fellow, I'm terribly sorry for what I've caused." They all stopped when a soft
thump came from the door. Doctor Who went to the door and opened it to find
the Master aiming his Tissue Compression Eliminator at the door. "I swear
you'll pay for what you've done to me," the Master hissed. From behind Doctor
Who, the Doctor watched, horrified. "Romana, stop him!" The Master halted,
Explanations were made, and the Master's anger sated. The Doctor listened
in surprise at his arch-enemy's turn of character, and firmly shook his hand.
"Well, old fellow, I hope this means we can work together now."
"Not quite, old friend," came the reply. The Doctor mentally noted that,
this time, he didn't mind the term. "I still have one more thing to do ...
lead the fleets away from Gallifrey." Not giving anyone a chance to respond,
the Master raced out of the room, quickly sealing the door behind him. The
four stood looking at each other until they felt the floor shudder beneath them.
"He's rematerializing," the Doctor commented.
Another rumble came from the walls, and this time it was Romana who
provided the explanation. "He's changing course. But where?"
"I'm afraid I know. Come on." The Doctor motioned all four toward the
more battered of the two police boxes. Snatching his key from a pocket, he
opened the door and admitted his three friends. The Doctor quickly moved
toward the center console as the two Earth travellers looked around in
amazement, quietly muttering to themselves about certain design changes they
would have to incorporate. Both were entranced by the center console, around
which the Doctor and Romana were busily moving, adjusting knobs here, reading
readouts there. The Doctor's announcement was enough to squelch even his Earth
alter-ego's boyish curiosity.
"He's heading for a black hole. We'll hit in about 20 minutes. We've got
to get out of here."
"Wait," came the other Doctor's voice. "While I was ... well, slightly
disturbed ... I captured the one female on your home planet. She's still
"Leela!" the Doctor muttered. "Susan, you'll have to find her. I need
Romana and your grandfather here to prepare our escape."
"She'll need some help, Doctor." The masculine voice came not from Doctor
Who, but from a young man at the second door to the control room. It was
Andred, now looking as young and healthy as he had when he first came to enlist
his old friend's assistence. "The regeneration wasn't completely stable. With
a little rest and concentration, I was able to force it back to this." The
Doctor and Romana nodded their approval as Andred continued. "If my wife is
still alive, Doctor, I'll find her."
"Good, my boy," Doctor Who said. "Susan, go with him and help him. Now,
where did I put her?"
"I know, grandfather." With that, Susan and Andred left as the Doctor
began explaining what they would have to do.
Susan and Andred stealthily made their way to the room where Leela was
held. They noticed that there were no signs of any life. "Must've been
recalled to their ships," Andred remarked. They reached the room, but the door
was locked, as expected. The young Time Lord pulled out a small box from his
tunic. "Not exactly a sonic screwdriver, but it should do the trick." He
noticed the young girl's puzzled expression, and responded with, "it's a
universal key to all locks in just about all known capsules." Assuming no
further explanation was needed, he turned to his task. In moments the door was
unlocked and open. Andred rushed in and saw a woman lying on a cot. Her long
black tresses were streaked slightly with grey, and the skins she wore were
slightly soiled and worn, but Andred recognized her immediately. "Leela."
At the sound of his voice the woman awoke and turned toward the door. Her
face brightened with a wide smile as she rose to meet the outstretched arms of
her husband. Susan Who descreetly kept out of the reunion at the start, but
realized she had to intervene. "I'm sure both of you are happy to be together
again, but we've got to get back to the Doctor. It didn't sound like we had
much time to get out of here."
"We don't have much time to get out of here," the Doctor said to Romana
and Doctor Who. "They better be back soon, or we'll all be trapped here."
The trio sped down the corridor, moving as quickly as they dared toward
the room which held the two vehicles that would save them from life
imprisionment in the realm beyond the black hole. Suddenly Leela stopped,
Andred and Susan plowing into her from behind. "Sh," she warned her two
rescuers. "Something's up there." With that she darted into a nearby alcove
as a Sontaran warrior appeared in the corridor, hand weapon raised to cover the
two left in the corridor.
"Ah, two more prisoners for the Master," the voice within the helmet
hissed. "You will turn and move down the corridor slowly." Susan and Andred
turned and walked down the hall, their hands raised above their heads. As
their captor passed the alcove which hid her, Leela leaped from her crouch, her
knife aimed directly at the probic vent at the base of the Sontaran's nape (or
what passed for his nape). The Sontaran howled in pain, then collapsed on the
"Good thing I remember a few things from before." Leela commented.
Andred smiled at the remark, then led the two women onward toward the end of
the hall, at the end of which was the room which held the two police-box shaped
Their entrance was met with relieved sighs, hasty introductions, and
generous hugs all around. It was the Doctor who broke the celebrative mood.
"We can say our hellos later. Right now we've got to get out of here."
"Give us the coordinates, my boy, and we'll follow you in our Tardis."
The Doctor quickly rattled off the standard binary coordinates, which Susan
began translating into settings her grandfather could use. They were out of
the Doctor's TARDIS and about to open the door of their own craft when they
heard the groaning sound of a Gallifreyan time capsule dematerializing. "Poor
man, it sounds like it's in bad shape." They both entered the remaining police
box. After a few short minutes the thrumming whine of the Earth-created
"Tardis" echoed through the room, and it too disappeared.
The fertile pastureland lay untouched. The animals that once grazed there
had gone on to other places, and all that was left were grasses brushed lightly
by breezes wafting across the plain. The perfect waves of green were disturbed
by the appearance of two indentations, accompanied by a chorus of wheezings,
groanings, and whinings. Soon the indentations were replaced by two blue
shapes, similar but not identical. The door to the newer of the two boxes
opened, and an elderly gentleman and his granddaughter walked out, turned, and
knocked on the door of their companions' box. That door opened to admit the
All eyes watched the long-range scanner the Doctor had trained on the
vehicle from which they had recently escaped. Behind it the combined fleets of
three of the Doctor's fiercest enemies moved in its wake. They watched as the
black hole swallowed first the Master's TARDIS, then the fleets, trapped as
they were by the immense gravity of the collapsed star.
"Do you think he got away?" Doctor Who asked all assembled.
"I doubt it. The TARDIS doesn't pick up a time trace leaving the area,"
the Doctor said quietly. "Of course, I suppose he could have dematerialized,
and the black hole simply swallowed the time trace." It didn't sound too
convincing to himself, let alone the other five. The room was silent for
several moments when the Doctor said something that surprised his wife, fellow
Time Lord, and he himself. "I'm going to miss him."
"Well, we must be going," Doctor Who announced through the saddened
atmosphere. "I suppose we should try to find our way back to our own
universe. Then again, there's so much to explore here." Susan turned to him,
then smiled a smile that communicated both the love of a mature woman for her
grandfather, and the child-like mischeviousness neither of them would probably
ever lose. The six walked together out the TARDIS door, and the three Time
Lords and the one Sevateem woman saw the "other" Doctor and Susan off, the
high-pitched thrumming of the Earth-created Tardis once again disturbing the
otherwise peaceful plain. The quartet turned and walked back in their own
TARDIS. The quiet was shattered a final time by the familiar clap-trap of the
police box dematerializing.
"I've set the cooridinates for Earth, Andred. You can let us off there,
then take the old girl back where she belongs."
"I've been thinking about that, Doctor," Andred replied. "I'm sure the
High Council won't mind it if you kept it for your own use."
"No, no ... we've been through that before. We've retired, remember?"
The center column slowed its up-and-down motion, then finally settled in
its compartment in the center of the hexagonal console. The Doctor opened the
doors and reached to shake Andred's hand. Instead Andred asked, "you two
wouldn't mind if we visited with you a while, would you? I think we both could
do with a little vacation." The Doctor's reply came from his mouth, but not in
words; the broad smile and eager look gave him all the assent he needed.
The quartet walked out onto what they expected to be the green grass of
Earth, but were met instead by ashen soil, petrified trees, and a gloom that
was unknown on Earth, even in places with high-density smog.
Romana was the first to venture a guess as to their location. "We're on
"So we are, so we are. The old girl is as steerable as ever, I see."
Resigned to the notion that their retirement and vacation were on indefinite
hold, the four began their exploration, wondering when (none of them ever
considered "if" ... it was inevitable) they would meet up with the natives of
Story (c) 1986 Joe Sewell
Doctor Who and related material (c) 1986 BBC
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