A simultaneous sequel to the ‘Five Doctors’, ‘The Timeless Children’, ‘The Trial of a Timelord’, and Japanese cult classic ‘Battle Royale’
(For an enactment of this unbridled gore-fiesta by the WBW gang, have a listen to B068 Who Will Survive?…)
What a stinker of a day.
Firstly, she had discovered that everything she knew about the Time Lords had been a big fat porky. Then, she had been imprisoned by rhino-faced Judoon bullies. And to top it off, just as she was on the verge of cooking up a brilliant escape plan, a black obelisk appeared and whisked her to a bleak and barren hellscape resembling North Wales.
“This is awfully familiar,” shivered the Doctor, wrapping herself in her long, blue coat. A dozen or so figures emerged through dissipating fog. “Yaz, Ryan, Graham, is that you? Where am I?”
“The Death Zone, Gallifrey,” replied a fair-haired young man in Edwardian cricket attire.
“Yeah, how do you know? More to the point, why do you wear a stick of celery?”
“Because you’ve-ahem- we’ve, been here before,” chipped in a white-haired man, wearing a flamboyant velvet suit and frilly shirt. “I can’t comment on the celery.”
“Celery is very handy in the presence of poisonous gases in the Praxis spectrum!” snapped the Doctor’s fifth incarnation irritably. “And it’s good for your teeth.”
“Well, I haven’t been here before,” grinned a tall, curly-haired man wearing a brown bohemian coat and hat and an extraordinarily long scarf.
“Yes, you conveniently avoided that adventure, whilst the rest of us were getting zapped at!” huffed a small, funny-looking man in baggy check trousers.
The Doctor’s head exploded, figuratively. It was all flooding back. Years ago, some of her past incarnations had been renditioned to the Death Zone – the Time Lords’ equivalent to the Hunger Games – by a nutty Time Lord called Borusa. It was a forbidden place, sealed behind an impenetrable forcefield. “Oh, you’re kidding me,” she groaned. “Not again!”
She counted a dozen or so of her past incarnations. It resembled a weird convention of magicians and fashion disasters, with the very odd exception. Doctors bickered with one another or stumbled around bewildered. A white-haired frock-coated old man, the First Doctor, was arguing with the colossal Sixth Doctor, who wore a very distinctive multicoloured coat.
“Your clothing is ridiculous,” scowled the old man.
“You’re ridiculous, grouchy old fool,” retorted the Sixth Doctor cheekily.
“How dare you, insolent oaf!”
The Second Doctor compared bow ties with the clownish Eleventh Doctor. The dashing Tenth Doctor, in a pinstriped suit, compared converse trainers with Doctor Five. The Fourth Doctor performed Yo-Yo tricks to the unimpressed and very angry-looking Ninth and Twelfth Doctors – “Tough crowd,” murmured Doctor Four, as their faces grew stonier. The gentle Eighth Doctor donning blue Victorian velvet sat beneath a bramble looking poetic. Only the mysterious Seventh Doctor looked unperturbed, hunkered over his umbrella with the red question mark handle.
The Doctor felt cold metal against her neck. Some sort of futuristic electronic collar. Every Doctor had one. It wouldn’t budge. Now all the Doctors were trying to remove their own. She searched for her Sonic Screwdriver, but it was gone. “Anyone got a Sonic?” Doctors – Two through Four and Eight and upwards – searched their clothes, in vain.
“We should head to the Tower of Rassilon,” announced the Fifth Doctor with an air of authority. He pointed towards an evil-looking tower in the shadow of a mountain range. “That’s what we did last time. There were three routes as I recall.”
The elder statesman First Doctor stepped forward. “Quite so, my dear chap. How does the old Gallifreyan rhyme go? ‘Who unto Rassilon’s Tower would go, must choose “Above”, “Between”, “Below”.’”
“Avoid ‘Below’,” chipped in the Second Doctor. “Last time we met an angry Yeti in the tunnels. It nearly had me and the Brigadier for breakfast!”
“I wouldn’t take the ‘Above’ route either,” warned the Third Doctor, dusting off his cloak. “There’s something rather nasty in those mountains. A Raston Warrior Robot, the most perfect killing machine ever devised. Unless, of course, we happen to have a platoon of Cybermen to distract it.”
“The ‘Between’ route it is then,” interceded the Eleventh Doctor giddily. “I vote that our Death Zone ‘veterans’, Doctors One through Five…”
“Ahem, stuck in the Time Vortex,” interrupted the Fourth Doctor with a mischievous grin.
“Doctors One through Five, minus our fourth incarnation,” corrected Eleven, “lead the way. We’ll be at the Tower and back in our own time zones before you can say fish fingers and custard!”
“And banana Daiquiris,” added the Tenth, his brown trench coat flapping in the wind.
“Hey – idiots,” yelled the angry-eyed Twelfth Doctor, “Anyone tried this yet?” He was standing beside an antique TV and video player holding a VHS tape with the words “PLAY ME” scrawled on it in Japanese. He stuffed the tape into the player. “Doesn’t appear to be a plug socket…” The TV crackled to life, and a handsome, dark-skinned man with a neatly trimmed beard appeared. He flashed ruthless predatory eyes and a menacing smile.
“Greetings, Doctors. Welcome to my domain.”
“Who are you?” snapped the Twelve Doctor, crossly. “Don’t you know how rude it is to use a Timescoop!”
“It’s the Master,” interceded the Doctor fearfully. “But it’s not possible! You, like, just died, here on Gallifrey!” The Master grinned demonically. “What do you want?”
“A tête-à-tête with whichever Doctor proves themselves worthy,” smiled the Master malevolently. “By which I mean the most cunning, ruthless, experienced, determined.”
“We’ll all be working together to defeat you!” retorted the Second Doctor defiantly.
“You don’t seriously expect you can kill us all,” added the Third Doctor.
“My dear Doctors, I won’t be killing any of you,” chuckled the Master. “You will be killing you.” A dozen or so Doctors were stunned into silence.
The Master smiled a sickly smile. “I have another Death Particle, Doctor, rigged to wipe out all organic life in the universe. It will deactivate in only one scenario. You kill each other off – until there’s only one of you left. But if a surviving Doctor isn’t determined in the hour… the Death Particle explodes! BOOM!” He laughed a long, maniacal laugh.
Silence felt like an age. The Twelfth Doctor was the first to laugh – his usually aggressive, lined face contorted into a howl of mirth. A dozen or so Doctors quickly followed suit, roaring in hysterics. Only, the Doctor wasn’t laughing.
“What a childish thing to do,” remarked the Fourth Doctor, returning to his Yo-Yo.
“What a load of twod!” muscled in the Ninth.
“He means it!” snapped the Doctor. “I know him. He’s barmy!”
“Excuse me,” interrupted a tall, handsome man in a brown Victorian overcoat. “There’s been a mix-up. You see, I don’t think I belong here. My name is Jackson Lake. Can I go home please?”
“He’s right,” commented Doctor Ten, removing his glasses to wipe away a tear of laughter. “His brain was zapped by a Cyberman infostamp – thought he was the Doctor. Send him home.”
“The mistaken ‘next’ Doctor is my demonstration,” chuckled the Master. “That’s where these necklaces you wear come into it. They monitor your life signals, for the game. And they do this – observe!” The Master held up a little black box with a switch, which he pressed. Jackson Lake’s collar turned red and beeped alarmingly. Then his head exploded, literally.
“No!” screamed the Doctor. Chunks of Jackson Lake’s head rained down upon shocked Doctors. The Seventh Doctor had the foresight to open his umbrella.
“That wasn’t necessary!” shouted the Tenth Doctor, furiously. No one was laughing now. Except the Master, of course, who was giggling like a loon.
“No, but it was fun. And no regenerations – my new Paradox Machine sees to that. What’s wrong, Doctors, did the joke turn sour?”
“Any more surprises?” queried the Doctor’s Seventh incarnation, tilting his panama hat with his umbrella.
“Glad you asked,” smiled the Master malevolently. “Several of your ‘ambiguous’ incarnations volunteered. You probably guessed, but they’re a little dangerous – they hate you almost as much as my benefactor. But time is ticking. I’ve notified your companions, so just go for it. Battle Royale Doctors!” The Master laughed one final, overlong laugh. Then the TV exploded.
“This is just ridiculous,” muttered the Third Doctor.
Ten was apologising profusely to the headless corpse on the ground – “sorry, I’m so sorry,” he whispered over and over in a strange mantra. Other Doctors were still too shell-shocked to speak.
The Doctor took centre stage. “We must work together. Cos the bunch of us can defeat one Master with our eyes closed.”
“Who put you in charge?” remarked the Sixth, casually flicking one of Jackson Lake’s eyeballs from his multicoloured coat.
“Let’s just find the Master and smash his face in,” grunted the Ninth, cracking his knuckles threateningly.
“Heartily agree,” seconded Twelve rolling up his sleeves, angry-face fully resumed. The pair resembled mugshots from Crimewatch, thought the Doctor.
Doctor Four proffered a crumpled bag of jelly babies.
The Sixth Doctor stepped forward. “Let’s play his silly game. We’ve all died before, me five times. Big deal if we bump each other off – so long as one of us survives. Let’s draw straws.”
“How ’bouts no, cos that is insane!” shouted the Doctor. The Doctors descended into a bickering babble. “Hell is other Doctors,” groaned the Doctor, head in hands.
“Everybody, please!” shouted the Eleventh, straightening his bowtie. “We ought to give our newest incarnation the floor. After all she has faced this Master before.”
“Thanks much,” smiled a reinvigorated Doctor. “We won’t play his sick game. Look, we have all saved the universe countless times against far worse odds. We’re each unique and wonderful – more than the sum of our parts. Doctors United are an unstoppable force. We are one big fam!”
“Hear, hear!” yelled the Eleventh merrily. Other Doctors cheered.
A flash of mega inspiration hit the Doctor. A smile stretched from ear to ear.
“This is what we are going to do…”
The Doctor’s plan was brilliant. Fantastic. And had she the opportunity to divulge it, the Doctors would have defeated the Master within minutes. Unfortunately, that is when the Eleventh Doctor’s chest cavity exploded. And things escalated quickly.
“No More!” shouted the grizzled War Doctor as bloody chunks of the Eleventh Doctor’s flesh spurted across the terrain. Eleven’s decapitated head, complete with fez, landed in a nearby shrubbery. A surprised expression was etched on his lifeless face.
“Wait, stop!” shouted The Doctor, but was hurled to the ground by the Fourth Doctor as energy bolts whizzed over their heads. The War Doctor was blasting away indiscriminately at Doctors left and right. Her past selves dived for cover among ricocheting explosions. One bolt delivered a fatal wound to the Eighth Doctor. Another slammed into the Sixth Doctor’s mighty torso.
The War Doctor’s weary eyes scanned for targets. He knew what had to be done and that only he could do it. He’d burned entire civilizations in the Time War. Amputate the arm to save the body. This was child’s play by comparison. The sooner the Doctors were gone the sooner he could finish the Master and undo this damage. He took a glowing power cell from a pocket of his battered brown leather coat and reloaded his disruptor gun. “This would go a lot quicker if you all stood still! This is for our own good…”
He was rudely interrupted by a yellow vintage car ploughing through his body at extraordinary speed. The War Doctor’s legs severed in a spray of blood as his torso went under the bumper.
“Now look what you’ve done, fancy pants! Hit him gently I said,” yelled the Second Doctor in the passenger seat.
“Just shut up and clean the windscreen, scarecrow!” responded the Third Doctor, steering frantically. “I can’t see anything for all this blood.”
“Give me the wheel!”
“It’s my car. Get off!”
The Second Doctor grabbed for the steering wheel. The Third delivered a Venusian aikido chop to his arm. Doctor Two screamed in agony.
“You’ve broke my arm, you stupid dandy!” He pulled out his recorder and jammed it up the Third Doctor’s mighty nose. Bessie swerved out of control and drove clean off the edge of a ravine. The two Doctors screamed as Bessie exploded into a fireball.
Doctors Nine and Twelve stared at the burning car in the ravine and shared a look of bemusement. The Twelfth Doctor shrugged and pushed the Ninth Doctor off the cliff. There was a trailing shout of “Flippin’ heck!” followed by, what the Twelfth considered, a satisfying crunch.
Like a fish out of water, the War Doctor gasped for breath. “I survived the Time War only to be run over by my own car.” He even managed a laugh. A giant loomed over his crumpled body. “What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity,” he spluttered.
The Sixth Doctor looked at his singed outfit. His impressive bulk had cushioned the laser bolt with minimal damage. His prized technicolour dreamcoat was not so lucky. His brow furrowed. “Ruined,” he snarled. He stamped his size 14 boot through the War Doctor’s head, which imploded like a wet egg.
Eyes flicked open. Broken ribs. Dislocated shoulder. Probably bleeding on the brain. Worst of all, his leather jacket was bruised. Any ordinary renegade Time Lord would have given up. But he was from t’North. The Ninth Doctor clambered up the gorge.
At the top, the Doctor’s twelfth incarnation was unusually chipper. The Master had confiscated the Doctors’ Sonic Screwdrivers but missed his Sonic Sunglasses. He had successfully deactivated his own collar and was close to prematurely blowing everybody else’s. There was a tap on his shoulder.
“Ow’do,” smiled the Ninth Doctor cheerily, landing a punch square in the Twelve Doctor’s face. The bloodied Twelfth fell to the ground. Doctor Nine pounced and began to pummel. One blow smashed the Twelve Doctor’s nose, another broke his jaw. Doctor Twelve responded with a bone-crunching headbutt, throwing the Ninth Doctor backwards in agony. The Twelfth Doctor spat blood and teeth, grabbed the Ninth Doctor by the lapels of his dark leather jacket and sunk his teeth into Doctor Nine’s ear, tearing the earlobe clean off. Rain clouds appeared. The Ninth Doctor howled.
“This is madness!” yelled the Doctor, as an agonising scream echoed across the valley. “We have to stop this, fast!” The Doctor and her Fourth incarnation were carrying the wounded Eighth. He yelped in pain and they rested him against a boulder.
“Leave me, I’m finished.”
“Don’t be daft. You look fab,” reassured the Doctor, unconvincingly. The Eighth Doctor’s innards had been fried. He would be dead any minute.
“You’re a terrible liar,” he laughed. “I was always going to be too nice for this kind of thing. The Master can’t have orchestrated this alone. He mentioned a benefactor?”
The Doctor pondered. Must be someone powerful: Fenric; the Toymaker; the Black Guardian; Zellin the Immortal (with the freaky fingers). It could be any one of the godlike beings the Doctors had collectively pissed off over the centuries.
“Doctor,” beckoned her Fourth incarnation. “If we make it to the Tower, we can access the control room and bring an end to this.”
“Smashing. We’ll pick up whichever of our other selves haven’t gone completely bonkers.”
She was interrupted by a loud snap. The Doctors turned. The Eighth Doctor’s head had been twisted 360 degrees by the Sixth incarnation. He glared with fanatical eyes and a macabre grin. Suffice to say, he had gone completely bonkers. Eighth’s head was torn from its torso and hurled like a shot put, cracking the Doctor in the stomach, knocking her backwards. Like a rabid lion he lunged, tossing Doctor Four into the air as if he were a rag doll and advancing on the befallen Doctor, grizzly bear hands raised. Then a wallop and the Sixth cried with pain as the silver handle of a cane smashed into his face, repeatedly.
“That’s no way to treat a delicate young lady, ruffian!” scorned Doctor One, clobbering the now-unconscious Sixth Doctor’s face into a bloody pulp. “And your clothes are ridiculous!”
“Who are you calling delicate?” gasped the Doctor.
“Come on!” shouted the Fourth Doctor as he helped the Doctor to her feet, “I think I broke my collarbone on that boulder.” The First Doctor tootled ahead with surprising speed for a man of his years.
The Ninth Doctor’s boot connected with the Twelve Doctor’s groin, repeatedly. Twelve felt no pain. Nine’s power-kicks to his testicles had an anaesthetic quality. He tried to crawl but now the Ninth Doctor was stomping on his kidneys.
Flipping sideways, Twelve caught the kick and flung Nine to the ground. He threw a right uppercut to the dazed Ninth Doctor’s jaw, then a left which struck with the impact of a cannon.
The Ninth Doctor grabbed a handful of the Twelve Doctor’s mop of messy grey curls and ripped out a chunk of scalp. Twelve yelled. The pain had returned. It started to rain.
The Doctor and her first and fourth incarnations were getting nearer to the Tower, which appeared more sinister the closer they got – a black cathedral that reeked only death. Little wonder it wasn’t on Gallifrey’s top TripAdvisor sights.
Suddenly there was a bang and the ground shook. The Doctors hurried to investigate. In a rocky clearing was a pool of blood. Within floated a panama hat and an umbrella with a red question mark handle. Scorched scraps of an ivory jacket, paisley scarf and a yellow sweater adorned with question marks drifted gently through the air, settling upon charred earth.
“What happened?” gasped the Doctor.
“I suspect he tried to remove his collar – most unwise,” tutted an unfamiliar voice. The Doctors turned. It was a spectacled old man with white hair and a grey moustache, wearing a yellow waistcoat and brown jacket with a blue cravat.
“And who might you be, young man?” interrogated the First Doctor suspiciously.
“Dr. Who. At your service,” smiled the newcomer cheerily.
Rain descended like bullets. The Ninth and Twelfth Doctors wrestled in thick mud. Doctor Nine struck Twelve’s face with his elbow. Twelve wiped congealed blood from his face. Any ordinary renegade Time Lord would have long conceded to a younger, stronger opponent. But he was from the real North. The Twelfth Doctor grabbed Nine’s head with both hands and swung his knee into the Ninth Doctor’s face, pulping his nose into a bloody mess.
“You can’t be a Doctor!” The Doctor was perplexed, “we don’t recognise you.” Self-doubt crept in. Recent revelations suggested that there were other, previously unknown, incarnations.
“I am the Dr. I fought the Daleks on Skaro and on Earth in 2150 A.D,” enthused Dr. Who.
“Sounds familiar,” murmured the Fourth Doctor, tossing his scarf carelessly over his shoulder.
“Familiar!” protested the First Doctor angrily. “They’re my victories! This man is a fraud! And it was 2164!”
“Presumably one of the volunteers,” whispered Four to the Doctor.
“Looks harmless enough.”
“Harmless!” infuriated the First Doctor, “Harmless! This is identity theft. Call the police!”
“I wonder who the second volunteer is,” she pondered.
“I am!” snarled a voice.
A tall man dressed in black Time Lord robes stepped into the clearing. His eyes were filled with malice and his face was lined with murderous hate. He was the ultimate foe, evil incarnate. The Doctors felt the air thicken.
“Nice to meet you. I’m the Doctor,” the Fourth held out his hand. The Doctor pulled him back. “So is he,” she said fearfully. “Our future self. The distillation of everything evil in the Doctor.” She addressed the Valeyard, “You signed up willingly. What will we do to earn your hate?”
The Valeyard laughed. “You are a bunch of smug, arrogant, lefty do-gooders. Aiding your deaths is an honour. There’s one particular incarnation I will most enjoy killing. Ah, here he comes now.” The Valeyard smiled as a figure in a rainbow coat marched into view. “Welcome Doctor. Remember me? Prepare to suffer a thousand times!” But as the figure came closer, the Valeyard’s smile faded. The Sixth Doctor, whom the Valeyard had terrorised and for whom he had planned another barrage of misery, seemed… different.
A monster from hell lumbered into the clearing. Its face was a mess of blonde curly hair and gore. It wore a fixed smile like a demented cherub. It stared at the Valeyard, who turned white. The Sixth Doctor remembered. The Valeyard almost had him executed in a trumped-up Time Lord trial, attempted to steal his regenerations, tormented him in the Matrix. His eyes popped with anger and he roared.
“My Dear Doctor,” whimpered the Valeyard, raising his hands in pitiful surrender, “I merely came to tell you how terribly sorry I was for everything.” The Sixth Doctor picked up the Valeyard and tore his arms from their sockets. As the Valeyard shrieked, the mouth of the Sixth Doctor opened. It was unnaturally wide – a shark’s mouth. He pulled the Valeyard’s face into his jaws. The Valeyard screamed once again before his head was bitten clean off. Deathly silence. The Doctors looked on in fascinated terror.
“We should leave,” whispered the Fourth Doctor, “slowly.” As they backed away, Dr. Who clumsily stepped on a twig. Snap. The Sixth Doctor’s head swivelled towards them. It dropped the remains of the Valeyard, coughed out the half-chewed head, and lumbered towards them with a psychotic grin. Doctors froze in horror.
Just as the Sixth Doctor’s claws were upon them, there was a whiz and a crack. A cricket ball whammed into the Sixth Doctor’s skull. He collapsed in a heap.
“Howzat!” shouted the Fifth Doctor, proudly.
“Now I get the cricket outfit,” smiled the Doctor to her fifth incarnation. “Still don’t buy the celery though. Come on you lot, to the Tower!” The Doctors ran.
Doctor Twelve ground Nine’s face into a deep spongy puddle, with a little help from Dr. Marten. Nine swallowed blood and stench water. It didn’t taste very nice.
His hand fumbled desperately, grasped the Twelfth Doctor’s boot and twisted. Twelve buckled, stumbled backwards and the Ninth was upon him like a wild man. One punch crushed his windpipe. Another cracked two ribs. The Ninth Doctor grappled the Twelfth into a headlock and tore off one of his large grey eyebrows. The Twelfth Doctor yowled. Rain hammered upon the plateau.
“Only thirty minutes to go before the Death Particle kills everything!” The Doctor was anxious. “How far to go?”
“Not far now, Doctor.” A warm, friendly voice soothed the charged air. A mature Caribbean face framed with dreadlocks smiled. Her colourful shirt and rich navy blazer framed a strong body.
“Ruth? I mean you! I mean me!” stuttered the Doctor, excitedly. Other Doctors looked confused.
“She’s me, us, from the past. Way before!” explained the Doctor. Ruth Clayton from Gloucester was an unknown past incarnation of the Doctor. The event had provided the first inkling that the Doctor’s past was not what it had seemed.
“I think you’ll find, my dear, that I’m the original!” declared the First Doctor testily.
“No, there were others. Our minds were wiped!” The Doctor frantically peppered the woman formerly known as Ruth Clayton from Gloucester with questions: “How many more of us were there? Who are my real people? What is the Division?”
“Breathe, be calm,” smiled the Unknown Doctor. “By the time we reach the Tower you’ll know everything. The most important thing is this…”
“Very interesting I’m sure, my dears,” interrupted the First Doctor rudely. “But who is this man!” He wagged his bony finger at Dr. Who.
The Unknown Doctor looked at Dr. Who, opened her mouth to speak – then spontaneously exploded into a shower of fire and ash????!!!!!
“Everybody be careful of random thunderbolts,” advised the Fifth Doctor, belatedly.
“NO!” screamed the Doctor. She cradled a charred skeleton in her arms, “I need to know!” The charred skeleton said nothing.
“Most unfortunate,” tutted Dr. Who, “she was about to exonerate me.”
“She most certainly was not, fraud!” huffed the First Doctor.
A right hook landed on the Ninth Doctor’s face. The Twelfth Doctor swung, again, but Doctor Nine ducked, grabbed the Twelfth by his hoodie, slipped his fingers into the Twelfth Doctor’s cheek and pulled.
Teeth gnashed instinctively. The Ninth screamed in agony, cradling his mutilated hand. Doctor Twelve spat out several of the Ninth Doctor’s fingers then pounded the Ninth’s face with his furrowed forehead.
Four Doctors plus Dr. Who entered the Tower of Rassilon. They ignored the phantoms, avoided the death traps, reached the tomb – and when the spectral presence of Rassilon enticed the visitors with his usual “gift” of immortality, the Doctors responded with a simultaneous and resounding “No!” It helped that several Doctors had done this before. Rich black marble adorned the mausoleum. At its centre lay the robed remains of Rassilon, upon a plinth decorated with the faces of the suckers who had answered “yes”. Close by, the Tenth Doctor tinkered with a dusty, antiquated control console next to a transmat booth.
“About time,” muttered the Tenth, “where have you lot been?”
“Trouble with old friends,” responded the Doctor wearily.
“Well, I’ve figured out the controls – no thanks to you lot. I am good!” He smirked his wonky grin.
“How did you get here so quickly, young man, mmm?” asked the First Doctor, poking the Tenth Doctor with his cane. “And what is that incessant racket?” There was a deafening banging from behind a steel door.
“Took the tunnels. Bumped into that Yeti – one tonne of fur with razor-sharp claws. Poor thing probably just wants a hug, but I wouldn’t open the door if I were you.”
The Doctor approached the console. “Let’s bring down the forcefield.”
“I have a better idea,” responded Ten excitedly. “Sensors show the Paradox Machine is in orbit. Destroy that and it is over. They are flimsy pieces of tech – Captain Jack destroyed one with a machine gun. We just need to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and target it with a pulse of forcefield energy. Give me a hand will you!” Doctors huddled around the console and flicked switches excitedly.
Pushing back the brim of his hat, the Fourth Doctor studied the transmat. “Recently used. Probably the Master. We may be able to trace his location.”
“Already thought of that,” responded Ten smugly, “and I came across an old metal friend who’s recalibrating it.”
“Really?” smiled Four, peering into an open service hatch, “oh, hello you!”
“Anything I can do?” enquired Dr. Who helpfully.
“This is a job for real Doctors,” patronised the First Doctor. “Put the kettle on, there’s a ‘good chap’.”
“Right ho,” said Dr. Who cheerfully, putting on an apron.
The rain had stopped. Nine and Twelve collapsed, side-by-side, battered, bruised, bloodied, exhausted, and drenched in mud. Both had resorted to weakly slashing at one another with psychic paper in the hope of slicing a major artery.
Ripples appeared in the puddles. Heavy stomping footsteps approached. A behemoth stood over them. It vaguely resembled the Doctor’s sixth incarnation, if you squinted. But it did not look well –as if CBeebies’ Mr Tumble had gone several rounds with a cement mixer. Its head was misshapen. A cricket ball was embedded in its right eye. It was smiling.
The Ninth Doctor poked the Twelfth and pointed in the direction of “the thing”. Twelve sat up with great effort. Two semi-conscious Doctors helped one another to their feet. The monster advanced. Nine swung a punch and yelped. It was like hitting a brick. He swung again and landed his fist in the Sixth Doctor thing’s mouth, which chomped. The Ninth Doctor stared in disbelief, a fountain of blood spraying from his severed stump. Twelve seized the monster Sixth Doctor’s arm but was hurled into the air. An iron fist drove into his back, ripped through flesh and tore out his spine with a bony crunch.
A final, futile thump with the bloody remnants of his hand was all the broken Ninth Doctor could muster. Dropping Twelve’s filleted corpse, Doctor Six grabbed Nine’s head. Thumbs the size of jumbo sausages but strong as steel found eyeballs and popped them like grapes. Nine screamed. A fist wrenched Nine’s chest and tore out one of his hearts. And then the other. Silence. Two bodies were flung into the ravine. The sun began to shine.
“We’re out of time!” The Doctor paced the tomb. She glimpsed at Rassilon, serene features completely oblivious to the chaos his deranged game zone was again inflicting. “You’ve got a lot to answer for,” the Doctor huffed with contempt.
“All set!” declared the Tenth Doctor triumphantly. He flicked a jelly baby into his mouth.
Friendly-faced Dr. Who carried a tray of mugs. “Anybody for a cuppa?”
“Oh, yes!” responded Ten eagerly. The banging on the cellar door grew louder.
“If only my granddaughter Susan were here,” sighed Dr. Who, “she makes the perfect cuppa.” The First Doctor snarled.
“We don’t have time for this,” moaned the Doctor.
“Nonsense,” brushed-off the Tenth swigging his tea. The banging was desperate now, accompanied by wild, animalistic cries.
“Plus, that door ain’t gonna hold,” she warned. More bangs, more screams, it sounded terrified. What could possibly scare a killer Yeti?
“Let’s finish this,” announced Ten, straightening his tie. “Allons-y! Game over Master…” He froze. He coughed. Uncontrollably.
“He’s choking!” The Doctor ran to his aid. A dark purple enveloped the Tenth Doctor’s face. The Fourth tried the Heimlich manoeuvre. Blood spurted from the Tenth Doctor’s eyes, nose, ears, and other orifices. He spasmed and vomited a spray of blood. Then his hearts popped like balloons and he collapsed dead. The Doctors stared in shock.
“Poisoned,” diagnosed the Fourth.
“Must have been the jelly babies,” suggested Dr. Who.
“It most certainly was not!” retorted the Fourth Doctor indignantly. “It must be your tea. Did you check the sell-by-date?” Doctors looked from Doctor Four to Dr. Who accusingly.
“We’ve something else to worry about.” The Doctor pointed to the door leading to the tunnel. “What happened to the banging?” It was suddenly eerily quiet.
The metal door blew its hinges. Out of the darkness rolled a hairy ball the size of a beer keg. It was the Yeti’s head. Inside its mouth was a smooth silver canister. Ticking.
“Nitro-9!” screamed the Doctor, “get down!” There was a tremendous explosion. The console exploded in a barrage of sparks and debris.
With a bellowing roar the Sixth Doctor crashed into the tomb. It carried a Yeti’s arm the size of a tree trunk, swinging it from side to side like a woolly mace. The Fourth Doctor jumped Six from behind and garrotted him with his Yo-Yo. The wire sliced deep into the Sixth Doctor’s neck, almost to the bone. The monstrosity growled, pulled its attacker over in a somersault and clubbed Four with the Yeti’s arm, razor claws slicing his opponent’s belly. The Fourth Doctor staggered backwards in retreat and flung his long scarf around his neck instinctively. It was wet and sticky. It wasn’t his scarf but his own intestines. “This isn’t good,” thought Four, as the Sixth Doctor proceeded to strangle him with a combination of his own guts and attire.
“K9 – help!” he choked.
“Affirmative!” responded a cheery robotic voice. A sort of square metal dog with disc aerials for ears and an antenna for a tail glided out from beneath the console. Orange-red lasers blasted from its snout, surgically cutting through the Sixth Doctor’s bulk in fine mists of blood. Bellowing, the Sixth Doctor released Doctor Four and charged K9.
“Firepower insufficient, Master, sensors indicate extreme danger…”
Strong hands seized K9 and smashed him repeatedly, and unnecessarily, into the corpse of Rassilon, the once mighty Time Lord engineer-architect reduced to beef pâté. Chunks of what once resembled a sort of square metal dog clonked to the ground. The Sixth Doctor returned his attention to the Fourth Doctor, who was half-heartedly stuffing entrails back into his abdomen.
Blurry-eyed, with a pounding headache and ringing in her ears, the Doctor was on her feet. In a frenzy, she ripped a power cable from the knackered console and rammed it up the Sixth Doctor’s bum – Six screamed as 20,000 volts blasted through its rectum. It turned, Yeti arm raised to dice the Doctor into cubes of meat. Quick as a flash, she jammed the power cable into the Sixth Doctor’s mouth. The Sixth Doctor shrieked, its face lighting up like a Chinese lantern. There was another explosion and both the Doctor and the Sixth incarnation were blown to opposite ends of the tomb.
Bruised and singed, the Doctor struggled to her feet. “Gonna need a serious spa day.” Her clothes were blackened with soot. “And a serious shopping day.” She surveyed the damage. A bloody, charred, sizzling heap was all that remained of the Sixth Doctor. The Fifth Doctor was crawling out of debris, his once pristine cricket attire now in shreds. The First Doctor and his doppelgänger were nowhere to be seen. She limped to the Fourth Doctor lying on the ground.
“Good old Time Lord respiratory bypass system,” grinned the Fourth. “Withstands strangulation.”
“You’re missing your intestines, and probably some important organs.”
“Oh, where are they?”
“Erm, over there, and over there.” The Doctor pointed to opposite ends of the tomb. “And some over there.”
“Oh dear,” responded the Fourth in his deepest and most sarcastically serious voice. He beamed his wide toothy smile and spoke no more. The Doctor gently closed his eyes.
The battered Fifth Doctor surveyed the damaged console. It was irreparable. But the transmat was still functioning, barely.
“Get into the transmat. Stop the Master. It’s our only hope.”
“I’m not leaving you,” resisted the Doctor.
“Go now. I’ll follow,” reassured the Fifth with his kindly smile. The Doctor didn’t believe him. He was bleeding severely, probably shrapnel from the explosive. And the celery was missing from his lapel – probably a bad omen. The Doctor stepped into the transmat reluctantly and Doctor Five pulled the lever. The booth lit up and the Doctor vanished. Five reset the controls to follow. There was a strong acrid smell of burned flesh. He turned. The Sixth Doctor towered over him. His semi-decapitated head flopped sideways grotesquely, face burned black. Smoke sizzled from his ears. He was still smiling. He grasped the Fifth Doctor’s head between his huge hands and squeezed.
Icy winds howled like wolves atop the Dark Tower where Dr. Who was busily preparing to zipwire to the adjacent mountains. Metallic thread had been left there by the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith on their previous visit.
“And where do you think you’re going, young man, mmm?” The First Doctor’s voice pierced the bellowing winds.
“Readying an escape for us all,” cheered Dr. Who.
“Liar! Imposter!” yelled Doctor One and he assailed Dr. Who with his cane. Dr. Who caught the tip with surprising vitality. His eyes flared. His cheery face switched to fiery hate.
“YOU WILL ACCEPT ME!” he screeched hysterically.
“I knew you were evil! I knew it!” shouted the First excitedly. “Fisticuffs it is then!” The First Doctor swung his cane at Dr. Who and landed a blow, cracking his spectacles. Dr. Who shoved Doctor One to the floor, then launched himself over the battlements down the wire. He flew across the chasm cackling like a loon. But a glance over his shoulder made his smile drop. Seconds behind him was the First Doctor, zip wiring through foggy air at terrifying speed, with a glare of steely determination that only the elderly can muster.
They reached the mountains. Dr. Who fled down a rocky path and the First Doctor followed, pursuing with such zest that he failed to notice the dead metal giant on the ground. The chase continued through a cave and onto a mountain pass. Rusting bodies of Cybermen littered the floor – the aftermath of some terrible battle, which the Cybermen had clearly lost. In the centre of the mass grave stood Dr. Who. Still as a statue.
“I’ve got you now, my boy,” smirked the First Doctor as he raised his cane. There was a strange sound, like a whizzing zonk. The First Doctor felt a sharp pain. He appeared to be impaled on a metal spike. All too late he recalled the warning of the flamboyant Third Doctor – it was a trap. Dr. Who grinned. Between them stood a robot: tall and thin, shaped like a man, but with a smooth, shiny body of gleaming metal.
“Do you mind removing that object?” addressed the First Doctor to the blank head, a metal egg with no eyes or mouth. There was another zonk. The First Doctor’s arm fell to the ground. Then his right leg was sliced off. He collapsed into a pool of blood. But a slight smile appeared on his lips and his eyes gleamed as an idea popped into his head.
“You’ll always be a fake!” he spat.
“I’M NOT A FAKE!’ screamed Dr. Who, stamping his feet in a tantrum. Too late he realised his mistake. The robot wheeled round in Dr. Who’s direction, blurred and vanished.
“Touché,” smiled the First Doctor’s rival. The robot reappeared behind him and lopped off his head, which flew like a frisbee. The First Doctor gave a soft, final chuckle.
The Master giggled as he painted. What fun. If only it had been his idea. He had much to thank his benefactor for – the Red Guardian clearly hated the Doctor as much as he. When the Red Guardian had approached him with the plan and access to the Death Zone, the Master had gladly contributed his Death Particle and Paradox Machine. He sighed. With the Timeless Child revelation there were many more – perhaps infinite – Doctors to dispatch. But it felt good to be finally rid of this irritating batch.
“It’s over,” declared the Doctor. The transmat had indeed taken her to the Master’s location, which was exactly where they had started. TV fragments littered the floor.
“Nonsense,” remarked the Master, checking his pocket-watch. “One minute to go. Ta da! What do you think?”
The Master stood aside to reveal his painting. It depicted the Death Zone with crude cartoon pictorials of Doctors dying in horrible ways. Doctor Eleven was in pieces. The War Doctor was roadkill. The Second and Third Doctors were on fire in an exploded Bessie. Eight was headless. Doctor Seven was a mess of exploded chunks. Nine and Twelve were a tangled bloody heap. Ten was a purple corpse in a bloody pool of vomit. Four had been disembowelled. Five’s skull was crushed. The First Doctor and Dr. Who had been sliced and diced. At the centre, with a golden halo around her head, was the Doctor.
“My masterpiece,” laughed the Master.
“You need therapy.”
“Lucky my Doctor is here,” he grinned. “If I had to choose one of you, it would have to be you.” His face switched to disappointment at the flash of the transmat behind her. “Sadly, I’ve counted my chickens.” He scribbled the Doctor’s image crimson.
Heavy clunking footsteps came from behind. She turned. Beneath its unrecognisable mess of congealed blood and charcoaled flesh, the Sixth Doctor smiled his demonic smile. Heavy hands closed around the Doctor’s throat. All went black.
“Bravo!” cheered the Master. He clapped ecstatically and gave a pantomimic bow. “Though I must warn you, I don’t intend on a fair fight. Sorry to disappoint,” he giggled.
The Sixth Doctor monster was silent and still.
“Think of it as a mercy killing. Look at the state of you.”
The Sixth Doctor looked on, expressionless.
“I can’t believe you all actually went through with it,” smiled the Master with incredulity. “To watch you all fall to such depravity. Look how low I have brought you.”
The Sixth Doctor responded blankly.
Not quite achieving the reaction he had expected, the Master tried his favourite approach: rage. “I have broken you!” he screeched, “how could you ever face yourselves again!”
The Sixth Doctor said nothing.
The Master’s face now contorted into disgust. “You actually make me so sick I can’t even watch the end.” He turned and walked away. Out of his pocket he pulled the black box and pressed a switch. The metal collar on the Sixth Doctor beeped, then popped.
The Master awaited the return of his TARDIS impatiently. It had all been arranged. The Red Guardian was to deactivate the Death Zone’s forcefield, allowing the Master’s TARDIS to enter. As per game rules, the Death Particle had deactivated – the Red Guardian had insisted. But sod it, he’d detonate it anyway. Hide in a pocket universe. Be the last organic being alive. Sounded nice. Peaceful.
His TARDIS should be here by now. He felt uneasy, his euphoria fading. His arch enemy was dead, in frankly hilarious circumstances, but he felt a strange sense of unsatisfaction. Something was wrong. Didn’t the Doctor’s sixth incarnation look a bit odd – lifeless and glassy-eyed (the eye that wasn’t a cricket ball). And wait, hadn’t that last explosion seemed too… distant?
Inexplicable panic gripped the Master. He turned. The walking corpse of Doctor Six was inches from his face. Stumbling backwards in horror, the Master tripped and fell to the ground. The Sixth Doctor reared over him. Its head stretched. The cricket ball dropped from the eye socket. Its eyeballs popped out like champagne corks. Fingers protruded from the sockets and clawed their way out like spiders, tearing the skin and the head apart. The bloody wet carcass of the Sixth Doctor fell to the ground in a shrivelled heap. In its place stood a little naked man, drenched head to toe in guts and gore.
“Surprise,” smiled the Seventh Doctor. The Master’s mouth was a gaping black hole.
“The so-called ‘Red Guardian’, I presume?” enquired the Doctor, staggering to her feet. “You didn’t half hurt my throat. I’ll have bruises for weeks.”
“But… you both died…” stuttered the Master, looking from the Doctor to her seventh incarnation in astonishment.
“Good old Time Lord respiratory bypass system,” explained the Doctor. “Withstands strangulation.” A familiar wheezing groaning sound filled the air and an old-fashioned police box appeared.
“You were… the… Red Guardian?’ mumbled the Master to the Seventh.
“A massive deception,” corrected the Seventh Doctor.
“He made it up,” added the Doctor. “There’s no Red Guardian. How did you, so-called ‘Master’, fall for that?”
“We only corresponded over the internet,” murmured the Master, catatonic in shock.
The TARDIS door opened. A teenage girl in a black bomber jacket stepped out. “Hey Professor, I got the Death Particle. And I’ve stuffed the Paradox Machine with a tonne of Nitro-9. Should go off any minute.” Ace winced, “Professor, you need a long shower. And some clothes.”
“Good work, Ace,” responded the Seventh Doctor, ignoring the jibe.
“But… but… but…” stuttered the Master.
The Seventh Doctor interrupted, “When I learned you had another Death Particle in your possession and built a new Paradox Machine, I had to orchestrate a scheme to take them from you.”
“You murdered your other selves,” gasped the Master in disbelief.
“Temporarily perhaps,” reassured Doctor Seven. “Time will resolve itself as soon as your machine is destroyed.” There was a deafening explosion in the sky. “About now, I’d say.”
“No!” screamed the Master. “You cheated!” He drew his Tissue Compression Eliminator. His plans were ruined – but at least he could turn the Doctors into tiny freaky doll people and stomp on them. That would make him feel better. A silver baseball bat cracked down on his arm and he dropped the weapon. He took another blow in the chest and doubled over in winded agony. Ace stood over the Master, raising the bat above his head, readying a death blow.
“Let me finish this scumbag, Professor.”
“No Ace,” ordered the Seventh Doctor. “I have other plans. If you hate someone you have to live with the consequences.”
The Doctor surveyed the carnage in disbelief. Dead Doctors littered the landscape. Smoke still billowed from her burning car and its unfortunate passengers. “You planned all this?”
“I had a little help from Dr. Who,” admitted the Seventh Doctor. “And I anticipated our sixth incarnation would get carried away. I needed enough Doctors willing to play the game. Too many Doctors cooperating would have gotten all cellular life in the universe destroyed.”
“You stitched yourself into our sixth incarnation’s skin,” grimaced the Doctor. “Which, by the way, is disgusting.”
“Dr. Who is quite the Dr. Frankenstein with a needle and thread,” chuckled Doctor Seven.
“When exactly did you play taxidermy with our sixth incarnation? How many Doctors did you murder?” Doctor Seven tapped his nose mysteriously. The Doctor felt funny. She looked at her hand. It was fading, as were the bodies of her dead selves.
“Time to go,” mused the Seventh Doctor. “Luckily, none of us will remember any of this. When did you realise, by the way?”
“I suspected when I saw Ace’s trademark explosive in the mouth of the poor Yeti you decapitated. But mainly when I woke up not dead. I can’t believe you, we, I, did this. I feel utterly manipulated!” The Doctor glared angrily at her seventh incarnation, then faded into nothingness.
“You get used to it. Come on, Professor!” yelled Ace impatiently. The Seventh Doctor followed her into the TARDIS.
“I’ll get you, Doctor. I’ll get all of you!” screamed the Master, cradling his broken arm.
Doctor Seven popped his head out of the TARDIS. “Another time perhaps. Oh, I almost forgot. Your TARDIS should land any minute. Rigged to land in but one scenario of course.” The Master’s features twisted in confusion.
“What ‘scenario’? Doctor! Come back!”
The TARDIS door slammed shut, dematerialised and disappeared. On the wind were the Seventh Doctor’s final words: “Battle Royale Masters!”
The Master stood alone in a bleak and barren hellscape resembling North Wales. He heard noises. A maniacal laugh. Several maniacal laughs. Lumbering out of the fog they came. Giggling, chuckling, howling with madness. Several bearded villains, one with eerie hypnotic eyes and another in black velvet wearing a sadistic smile. A rotted carcass – skull-faced – in a black cloak, shuffled towards him. A tall man with jet black hair and reptilian eyes hissed at him. An old white-haired man wearing a waistcoat and fob-watch smiled an evil smile, murderous eyes sparkling. A grinning lunatic licked his lips and tapped his head to the sound of silent drums.
The Master heard the roar of machinery. He turned. A lady with chestnut-coloured hair in a purple Victorian dress loomed over him, eyes wild with fire. She held a chainsaw and cackled.
“Don’t worry, dear. This won’t take a minute. I’ll be back in our TARDIS in no time!” She laughed a long insane laugh. The chainsaw buzzed. The Master screamed.
The Doctor awoke upon the metal floor of her prison cell. What a horrific dream. Was she playing a game? The dream dissipated too quickly to recall until it was just an echo. Then nothing. Probably nothing.
“Now, how do I get out of this prison?”
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