Several million years earlier than the reason he was wearing a tuxedo, the time lord known as the Doctor found himself standing with a travel sized noga in an outpost of some kind that was out of its proper time.
Metal buildings, towers and antenna arrays all littered the visible area. Nearby a rumbling sound caught the Doctor’s ear. He turned and saw an aircraft of sorts lifting a huge hexagonal shape and carrying it off.
At his feet, the noga was sniffing the air. After a moment it let out a quiet growl.
“I smell it to boy,” the Doctor said. “Come on, let’s see if we can figure out what is going on here.”
The two set out from the Tardis, leaving the blue box tucked in the shadow of a warehouse looking building.
All of the buildings, the Doctor noted, looked new and quickly constructed. As if this was a temporary location for the people who found it. That would explain why they were here, and why the planet was still technically uninhabited for a few more million years.
Technically explain, that is. In the Doctor’s mind, something was still wrong. It wasn’t just that this tech was out of place on this planet, bits of it were out of place for this time as a whole.
A construction vehicle hovered by followed by a small team of androids. They marched side by side carrying various tools and gizmos. None of the tools, gizmos or even the vehicle caught the Doctor’s eye. It was the androids themselves that did, causing him to stop suddenly and just watch as they walked past.
“Dums?” he mumbled watching the black androids pass. “I haven’t seen them since… Oh where was that? Leela?”
The Doctor turned, but there was no Leela to answer his question. His mind returned to the present.
“Right. That was a few of me ago.” The Doctor addressed the noga, “and while I am still not remembering things, I do remember that.”
The noga gave the Doctor a quizzical look.
“Right, so if we have Dums, there will be Voxes, but not sure how useful they will be. Seem to recall that they weren’t very good conversationalists.”
The Doctor looked about a moment, and then decided to follow the androids and see where they were going.
“I have decided to follow the androids and see where they are going,” he said to the noga. “Come on.”
As the two made their way down the street, the Doctor became distracted by something else, something that was troubling him about this whole situation.
“You know, you need a name,” the Doctor commented to his companion. “Something more appropriate than ‘boy’ or ‘hey you’, like spike or puff or Jeremy, or…”
The noga barked.
“Jeremy? Why did….”
The noga barked again.
“I say a name like Jeremy? That’s ridiculous.”
‘The noga barked, and the Doctor looked at him.
“I see… well, I suppose it could be worse.”
The noga seemed to agree as the two approached the end of the buildings. The natural area around the small settlement was dry and arid, a rocky sand desert like the American southwest. The construction crew had not gone far. A dozen or so meters away from the Doctor the dums worked in erecting a large antenna.
The Doctor watched for a moment before letting his gaze again wander. Almost out of site behind the buildings he saw another such dish antenna pointed outwards over the landscape. He turned, and behind him saw another. Peering backwards through the streets and caught the distinctive curve of one in the distance on the far side of the settlement.
“Now Jeremy, why would you erect a huge satellite dish on each side of your settlement?”
The noga extended its long neck upwards, looking at the Doctor and gave a slight growl.
“I agree, nothing good. Come on,” the Doctor said, patting the noga on the back of its head. The two set off back towards where they came. In front of them in the distance the Doctor saw another airship lifting a hex shaped object into the horizon.
“And what might you be for?”
The Doctor took a survey of the buildings in front of him. Two were obviously warehouses, one was a landing pad for the aircraft. Off center was the buildings the doctor was looking for.
“Command center,” he said. “Come on.”
With only dums visible as they walked, the road had an eerie silence to it. Only machine sounds were heard on the streets as the Doctor and his noga made their way through the buildings.
“This has to be the Keeper,” the Doctor mumbled, looking about.
The Doctor made his way first to the hangar looking building. It was closer than the command center and something about those aircraft was also troubling.
The Doctor and the noga hid to one side of storage containers as he inspected the room. Inside two of the aircraft sat off to one side were being worked on by a team of humans and androids. The Doctor looked for anything suspicious, but they seemed only to be conducting maintenance at the moment.
It was the craft on the other side of the hangar that got the Doctor’s attention. It was box shaped, designed for space travel rather than air. Around the top were several antenna and sensors that the Doctor knew all too well their purpose.
He, followed closely by Jeremy, made his way quietly around the containers to the ship. The craft’s loading ramp was open, and after a look to the left, then right, then left again, the two ran across the floor and into the ship.
Once inside the Doctor took a quick look about for anyone. The ship was composed of essentially one open room: controls at one end; space for supplies to be strapped down in the center; seats mounted to the walls.
There was a dum sitting at the helm. The Doctor used his screwdriver to quietly turn it off before inspecting the craft closer. Jeremy went up to the android and began sniffing it.
Several supply containers were in the center of the ship containing exactly that: supplies. Mostly food and basic needs, a few had parts and tools as well.
“Now let’s see,” the Doctor said, looking over the dum’s shoulder, “what you were up to.”
“You could have just asked,” the dum said, still immobile.
“I suppose I could have, but you can’t answer me,” the Doctor said, reading the computer screen.
Jeremy looked up at the Doctor.
“Wait,” he said, turning the chair so the frozen andriod was looking at him.
“I did,” it replied.
“But you are a dum,” the Doctor said.
“I am in the body of a dum,” it replied. “I am a specialized supervox. You must be the Doctor.”
“That I am,” the Doctor said. “I’ve met one like you before.”
“D-84,” the android said. “My designation is D-96.”
“I’ll say it is a pleasure when you let me know more about why you can talk,” the Doctor said.
“Similar reasons for D-84. We were noticing entire shipments of dums were going missing while in transit to the customers. At first it was written off as normal losses to shipping…”
“But too many got lost without a trace,” the Doctor finished.
“Indeed,” D-96 said. “The company planted several modified dums like myself in shipments in hopes one would fall into the hands of the pirates who were stealing the shipments.”
“So when you woke up this morning did you expect yourself several millions years in the past?” the Doctor asked, turning the chair around to get its back.
“I do not sleep,” D-96 simply replied. “And all probabilities were considered before this was started.”
“Right.” the Doctor used his screwdriver to return the android’s body to a functioning state. Jeremy gave the robot a suspicious look.
“My data banks say your dog was a robot,” D-96 said.
“Well it is,” the Doctor said. “Oh, Jeremy, he isn’t a dog, he is a minaturized noga.”
There was an awkward silence.
“So,” the Doctor said. “What’s going on?”
“Unknown. I was attempting to find out when I was interrupted.”
The Doctor looked back at the displays.
“The coordinates do no make sense,” D-96 said. “There are too many of them.”
“That is because you are used to traveling linearly in time,” the Doctor said. “So usually you leave the first couple off. These are your space coordinates, and these are your time ones. Seems this ship is going to…”
The Doctor started doing complicated math in his head.
“Virginia,” he said triumphantly. “Probably right before… the …”
The Doctor paused and a most devious smile formed on his face.
“Right before the American Revolution,” he said, looking down at Jeremy. He reached forward and began to type on the keyboard. “Suppose now we know why you didn’t show up.”
“What are you doing, Doctor?” D-96 asked.
“Just keeping the timeline in order, that is all.”
There were voices outside in the hangar. A large group gathering near the craft with someone giving final orders.
“Sounds like it is time to go,” the Doctor said, putting the final touches on the new destination.
“Don’t worry,” he said to Jeremy as they made their way down the ramp. “I hear it is nice there this time of the year.”
“There is a building that looks like a command center not too far off,” the Doctor said to D-96. “I’m going there.”
“I will meet you there,” the android replied. “I would like to find the supervox on site.”
The two nodded in silence and slipped down the ramp and around the other side of the craft, followed by a miniature noga. No one spotted them.
Once outside the android went to the left, the Doctor and his noga to the right.
The command center was off to one side. Despite its important title, it was, like all the other buildings, was hastily constructed and obviously not meant to be permanent.
“So, why the rush?” the Doctor mumbled.
There was a door with a lock, which naturally the Doctor made quick work of. Sometimes he wondered why the bad guys bothered with such things.
“Then again, maybe it is just to keep me entertained,” he said to Jeremy who seemed to agree.
There was a small reception looking room as he walked it with another door. There was a window in the door, but it was covered up on the otherside.
“Well, I guess we just open it,” he said and did.
The room was the command room. There were stations set up for monitoring air traffic, space traffic, ground movements all over the planet. Each station was manned by a person with a headset. There were several large projectors displaying information on the wall. Most of the displayed data had to do with a grid being constructed over the surface.
The people in the room were not terribly surprised to see the Doctor. Most of the people at the consules went back to their work shortly after glancing at him. The two guards at the door already had their weapons ready, and the man in the front who had commander rank on his uniform almost looked agitated.
“You are late,” he said, calmly. He motioned for the Doctor to come closer, a command the guards assisted the Doctor with.
“Section 15 is ready,” one of the workers said.
“Section 82 is ready,” another said.
The Doctor noticed that the grid was changing from red to green on the display.
“Good,” said the Commander. “Go live on the grid.”
The Doctor stood patiently, looking at all the data he could trying to assess the situation.
“Save your energy,” the Commander said. “I plan to explain it all to you.”
“Oh good, that is very nice of you.”
The Commander motioned to a door and the guards lead the Doctor inside.
“We are live,” one of the workers said.
“Good. Once we are at full green, everyone in their positions for phase 2.”
There was a general mumbling of ‘yes sir’ throughout the room as the Commander turned and followed into the small room with the Doctor.
The Doctor had walked the perimeter of the room twice while the guards watched. There was really nothing in there save a desk and two chairs, and the desk itself was empty save a pen which was not as interesting as the Doctor had hoped.
“How am I late,” the Doctor said, not really looking. “Were you expecting me?”
“You do have a knack for showing up at inappropriate moments. After New Chicago we have all been told to be ready for you at all times.”
The words “New Chicago” brought a flood of emotion to the Doctor which his face betrayed.
“So,” he said, composing himself. “You said you were going to tell me everything, how about that?”
“Not everything, Doctor. I don’t know everything. But I do know what this base is for and you do not.”
The commander dismissed the two guards and they left the room.
“Sit, please,” he said, motioning to one of the two chairs. He himself sitting down in the other one.
“Cigar?” he asked, pulling two from his inner coat pocket.
“No, thanks though,” the Doctor said, propping his feet up on the desk, hands behind his head.
“Caribbean stock, Doctor. These are truly great.”
The Commander sniffed one of them before cutting the tip off. He pulled a lighter from his pocket and lit the end, slowly turning it to get an even burn.
“If you are too hasty in lighting it, the burn is uneven, which ruins it later down,” he said. “Care must be taken at this end.”
The Doctor sat and patiently waited. He was fully aware of how to light cigars, he was friends with Winston Churchill after all.
“I have been saving this for six months now. For six months we have spent our time strip mining, extracting, and collecting any resource this planet has. My people have been efficient and methodical.”
He took a deep puff.
“We are even ahead of schedule,” he added. “the Keeper is pleased.”
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “I am sure he is.”
The Commander smiled again, an expression that was starting to sit uneasily with the Doctor.
“Well, aren’t you going to ask?” the Commander asked, again puffing on the cigar.
“Why?” the Doctor said. “What do you need those resources for?”
“That,” the Commander said, ashing, “is the wrong question. I have no idea why we need these things, dear Doctor. I am just a Commander, and am very good at following orders.”
“Then why this planet? Why are you stripping this planet of its resources?” the Doctor asked.
“That is the right question,” the Commander said. “Because we don’t want to waste anything.”
There was a loud thump against the door to the room. Jeremy began to growl.
“Waste anything, why?” the Doctor asked, ignoring it.
The door opened and D-96 stood in the frame. Neither the Commander nor the Doctor turned to look.
“Because,” the Commander said, again puffing on his cigar, “this planet is to be destroyed.”
The Doctor shot to his feet.
“Well, then, sounds like I did get here in time,” he said.
The ground beneath them rumbled. There was a pause as the Doctor, D-96 and Jeremy looked at each other. Then it rumbled again.
“I am afraid you are too late,” the Commander said. “The process has started. We are green, Doctor. You couldn’t stop the process now if there were an army of you.”
“Affirmative,” D-96 said. “I analyzed the construction plans in the android complex.”
The Doctor looked at the Commander, then D-96.
“No, no no no,” he said, pulling out his screwdriver and heading out into the command room.
The room was now empty, each station had been neatly abandoned, but all the displays were up and running. The Doctor made his way to one of the terminals.
“D-96, tell me what you know.”
“There are a series nodes placed about the planet, each linked back to this building as the central point of the network.”
The planet shook again. The Doctor had to grab a hold of the desk he was at to not be thrown to the floor.
“My orders were to kill you on sight,” the Commander said, walking back into the room. “I’m very good at following orders, Doctor. Very efficient.”
The Doctor looked up, expecting to see the man holding a weapon. He was not, just a look of confidence around his face.
“Why didn’t you?”
“The Keeper is unlike any man I have ever seen. His armies have defeated any who have stood up against him. His diplomacy has changed empires and re-written the past. His determination, Doctor, is unmatched.”
The ground shook again.
“Doctor, I recommend we evacuate,” D-96 said. “This planet only has a few more minutes left.”
“And with all of his resources, all of his strengths, there is only one thing the Keeper fears: the Doctor.”
The Doctor looked up at him from the computer.
“I am from, Kanna Prime, Doctor,” the Commander continued. “I got this cigar six months ago when my wife became pregnant. And now she will never be born.”
“Help me, we can still…”
“No we can’t, Doctor. I know you want to save the day, but it will not be today.”
“Doctor, we have five minutes left to evacuate,” D-96 said.
“Go! Get to the Tardis, take Jeremy with you.”
The android left, attempting to bring the noga but instead the noga sat at the Doctor’s side, staring at the Commander.
“You need to go, Doctor,” the Commander said.
“I am smoking this cigar three months early,” he said. “I am going to stay right here.”
“Why? Why did you do this then?”
“I am very good at following orders, Doctor. The Keeper would know immediately if I failed at my job and that you were here.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small computer chip. It was a pale blue with etched wirings on its top.
“Everything changed after New Chicago. Orders changed from capture to kill on site for us. Whatever happened there, you scared him. I do not know how to find him, Doctor. But this is the navigation chip from the courier capsules. Maybe you can figure it out.”
The Commander tossed the chip to the Doctor who caught it.
“Why are you doing this?”
“The mythical Doctor who goes through time and fixes things. I want you to fix this. I want to wake up in the morning next to my wife and never remember any of this. And only you can do that.”
The floor rumbled again, this time it did not stop.
“Go, Doctor. Save us all,” the Commander said, walking back into his office and closing the door.
The Doctor and his mini-noga ran down the streets back to the Tardis. The ground to the sides was ripping apart. Huge cracks were forming along the surface swallowing the landscape.
The small blue box sat where the Doctor had left it. The android stood beside it. The Doctor pulled out his keys as he ran up to it, unlocking the door and throwing it open in one swift motion.
“In, in!” he ordered and the two followed.
The Doctor ran to the controls and quickly threw a few switches. The Tardis dematerialized from the surface of Kanna Prime.
A few minutes later it floated in free space. The door was open and the Doctor looked outside at an empty space that had been a planet.
“Billions of lives…” he whispered.
Carmen Zaed’s voice placed over speakers in the ship, now the only proof of the existence of an entire people.