And now, the dramatic conclusion!
THE SHADOW OF THE DALEKS
EPISODE ELEVEN: Endgame
“STAY WHERE YOU ARE! DO NOT MOVE! YOU ARE PRISONERS OF THE DALEKS! STAY WHERE YOU ARE! DO NOT MOVE! DO NOT MOVE! ”
“I heard you the first time,” murmured Methos as he scanned the eight Daleks surrounding the valley, but he stayed where he was. A few yards away, the Doctor and Vorna stood with the Tolloc. It was a pity the Tolloc were pacifists, and even more of a pity that they were apparently comatose. They’d be no help.
Kallan was frantic. “You must kill me now!” he said, tugging on Methos’ sleeve like an anxious child. “It’s our only hope!” He prodded Methos with the hilt of his sword.
It was a bad move. “DROP YOUR PRIMITIVE WEAPON!” ordered a gray Dalek. When Kallan did not immediately comply, the Dalek fired its weapon. Methos’ vision was flung into reverse by the blinding flash, but he could still make out Kallan’s body, contorted in agony for a fraction of a second before falling bonelessly to the ground, dead.
By now, the Daleks had no doubt discovered Nala’s Immortality, and had probably correctly concluded that the rest of the Tolloc were similarly blessed. But did they know about Kallan? More to the point, did they know about Methos? He had no idea how much damage those weapons really did, and no way of guessing how fast Kallan tended to revive, nor any way of guessing what the Daleks would do about it.
The Dalek that had shot Kallan glided across the sandy soil. It seemed to have little difficulty with the terrain, despite its cumbersome appearance, and Methos found himself wondering just what it was using for propulsion. It halted in front of Kallan’s body. It watched for several agonizingly long seconds, then looked up. “NO SIGNS OF REGENERATION DETECTED,” it announced, and Methos let out his breath. But it was a puzzling term for Immortal healing. It sounded more like what the Doctor had gone through.
The Dalek then pulled back into a posture where it could again cover many of the prisoners, and the Black Dalek glided over. It stopped in front of Methos and turned its eyestalk to look directly in his face. “ADAM PIERSON, CONFIRM: YOU ARE A TIME LORD.”
Methos blinked in astonishment. He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be insulted. A few yards away, he spied the Doctor. The real Time Lord was wearing a poker face. “What?” he asked.
“CONFIRM: YOU ARE A TIME LORD,” repeated the Dalek.
Now he did laugh. “That’s absurd!” he said.
“ANSWER!” The threat in its synthesized voice was clear.
Methos sobered. “No, I am not a Time Lord,” he said, fixing his eyes on the Dalek’s ugly eyestalk. He hoped it didn’t shoot him; he was famously fast to revive, so his odds of a nice, private revival were basically nil.
“KALLAN WAS A TIME LORD,” the Dalek declared. Methos couldn’t help smiling, but the Dalek appeared oblivious to it. “HE HAS BEEN ON RIGA III FOR SIX YEARS. RECENT TIME-TRACES HAVE BEEN DETECTED. THEREFORE THERE IS ANOTHER TIME LORD HERE. KALLAN’S ASSOCIATE.”
Methos raised a skeptical eyebrow. “And what makes you think he was a Time Lord?”
He hadn’t seriously expected an answer, but the Dalek provided one anyway. “KALLAN’S LIFESPAN EXCEEDED HUMAN NORM.” Ah. So Kallan hadn’t been careful with his paper trail. He was probably one of those foolish Immortals who kept the same name through the centuries. “THERE IS ANOTHER,” said the Dalek. It glided over to the Doctor. “JOHN SMITH, CONFIRM: YOU ARE A TIME LORD.”
The Doctor looked back at the Dalek, his face unreadable.
Aboard the Dalek cruiser, Tosk had been left to tend the Tolloc female. Her face was disturbingly blank, a change from the constant insipid smile these people always seemed to wear. But this was to be expected; her brain had been slaved to a Battle Computer, replacing her emotional, primitive personality with its coldly logical one. Momentarily curious, Tosk fingered the delicate wires connecting the terminal to the circlet on her head. It was crude, but the Battle Computer represented the very latest in Dalek technology. There had not yet been time to refine it. In any case, the Daleks designed for function, not aesthetics.
“Time,” she murmured, startling Tosk. Speech was not surpressed by the Battle Computer; perhaps it was working on the ramifications of the time traces. It would attempt tactical decisions, even if Nala lacked the brutality to contribute much originality to them. “Time,” she repeated. “Tolloc Time.”
She couldn’t be saying the Tolloc were time-sensitives, could she? They hadn’t tested for that. More likely, she was predicting the Tolloc would attempt to enter the time vessel that had delivered Pierson and Smith to Riga 3. “I knew we should’ve secured the time vessel first,” he murmured.
“CONFIRM,” repeated the Black Dalek.
The Doctor shrugged. “Well, you got me,” he said. “I am a Time Lord.”
“YOU WILL SURRENDER THE KEY TO YOUR TARDIS!”
He smiled. “Hard to pick pockets with those manipulator arms?” The Dalek was unamused. “No,” he said. “I’m afraid you’re not going to get my TARDIS. And I suggest you leave this planet immediately.”
“EXPLAIN,” ordered the Dalek.
The Doctor’s grin widened. “You don’t know who I am, do you?”
“YOU IDENTIFIED YOURSELF AS JOHN SMITH.”
The Doctor casually pulled a jellybaby out of his pocket. “Ooh, I wouldn’t believe everything I told you if I were you,” he said, and then ate the jellybaby. He frowned abruptly. “Lemon. Not my favorite flavor.”
“SILENCE!” shrieked the Dalek, obviously irritated by the nonsequitor. “IDENTIFY YOURSELF!”
“Oh, now how can I identify myself if I’m supposed to be silent?” said the Doctor. The Dalek responded by firing its disruptor on a low setting. The flash temporarily blinded the Doctor and agonizing pain shot through his body. His legs collapsed uselessly beneath him and he fell into the damp sand of the ravine floor. It was several seconds before his vision cleared.
“IDENTIFY!” repeated the Dalek. “OR YOUR COMPANION WILL SUFFER NEXT!”
The Doctor couldn’t help looking at Methos. The ancient Immortal was silently standing alongside Kallan’s body. His eyes had gone very wide. The Doctor sighed. “I’m the Doctor,” he said.
“YOU ARE THE DOCTOR! YOU ARE AN ENEMY OF THE DALEK RACE! YOU ARE OUR PRISONER! YOU WILL NOT ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE! YOU WILL RETURN WITH US TO THE MAIN BATTLE FLEET!”
Although he still could not stand, the Doctor could see several additional gray Daleks glide over to guard him. “Four guards even while I’m paralyzed. Should I be honored?”
But the Black Dalek did not answer. Something else had caught its attention. The Doctor followed the direction of its eyestalk. The Tolloc were no longer motionless. They were looking around independently, as if regaining awareness of their surroundings. They took no notice of the Daleks, but stared at the cruiser with a curious intensity. Then Iktha raised his hands in the air. “It is Time,” the boy said. “Time to decide what we shall be.”
“Time to decide what we shall be,” murmured Nala. Tosk stared at her. He had no experience with Battle Computers, so he didn’t know if this sort of nonsense babble was normal or not. “But it is too late,” she said. “The choice is made for us.”
“What are you babbling about?” Tosk asked rhetorically.
To his surprise, she answered, actually turning her head to look him in the eye. But her gaze was unfocused, as if speaking to someone directly beyond Tosk. “The Tolloc will be no more.” Tosk never noticed the tear running down her cheek.
At that moment, Kallan came back to life. Methos had no hope left of concealing the fact from the Daleks. When the younger Immortal dragged in that first, agonizing breath, Vorna let out a brief cry. The Black Dalek’s eyestalk turned sharply around, taking in Kallan’s abrupt return to the land of the living.
“YOU ARE TOLLOC! YOU CONCEALED THIS FACT! EXPLAIN!”
Kallan sat up, clutching his head dizzily. No doubt the presence of so many Immortals was making the revival unpleasant. He looked around at the Daleks, then up at Methos. “Damn,” he said simply. With a sigh, he dragged himself back up to his feet and dusted himself off. “No,” he said. “I’m not a Tolloc. But I do heal like them.”
“EXPLAIN,” said the Black Dalek.
Instead of answering, he turned to Methos again. “Adam, you have to kill me. This is your last chance. I’m not kidding.”
“You seriously think they’d let me?” asked Methos. “I go for a sword, and they’ll kill me before I can do anything.”
Kallan started to answer, but was stopped by a sudden change in the quality of sound from the Dalek cruiser’s engines. The whine had deepened in pitch and the spacecraft was gently setting down. All eyes went to it.
Inside the ship, Tosk stumbled and fell as the ship moved. The inertial dampers did not kick in as they would for a normal move, so he immediately assumed it was an emergency landing activated by the onboard computers. He scrambled back to his feet and began moving towards the flight station to find out what was going on. The ship lurched again, tossing him to the floor. Then it was still, and he assumed it had landed. Just what was going on? He pulled himself up to the flight station’s broad console, designed for Dalek use. There were no reports of failures, no reason he could see why the ship had landed so precipitously.
“I will join my people!” shouted the female Tolloc. Tosk looked up in surprise. An unintelligent repair drone, normally used for inflight emergency repairs which the Daleks could not accomplish, had silently rolled across the floor to Nala on its twin caterpillar tracks. Its cutting arm was extended. Tosk put two and two together immediately. Through the Battle Computer, Nala had seized control of the machine and was now preparing to cut herself free. No doubt the emergency landing had been engineered by her as well. It wasn’t supposed to be possible for her to do that, but there was no denying the obvious.
“Stop that!” he cried, running out from behind the flight station and making a beeline for the drone’s shutoff switch. But as he approached, it spun around to face him. The cutting arm looked frightful, and he stopped in his tracks. When he looked at Nala, he was amazed to see a look of resolute anger on her face. It was like nothing he’d ever seen on a Tolloc. “Nala?” he asked. “What’s going on?”
“Leave,” she said. “You must leave.”
“But the Daleks . . .”
“The Daleks do not matter!” she shouted. “Leave, or stay here and die!”
Tosk began backing away towards the exit ramp. The drone turned back to face Nala, but her eyes never left Tosk. The exit ramp began to lower without Tosk commanding it.
“Go, Finder,” she said to him. Then she closed her eyes as the drone suddenly moved forward. Tosk’s eyes widened in shock as it neatly severed Nala’s head.
Outside, all of the Tolloc froze simultaneously. It took a moment for Methos and Kallan to realize what had just happened; with so many Immortals in one place, it was difficult to detect the loss of just one. But they didn’t have to wonder very long, for long tendrils of white light came snaking out of the Dalek cruiser. Methos gave Kallan a questioning look. “It has to be Nala,” he said. Kallan did not answer, and instead stared sightlessly at the cruiser.
“UNKNOWN POWER SURGE DETECTED,” announced one of the gray Daleks as electricity began dancing on the edges of the cruiser. The wind began to pick up, swirling around the Place of Light as the white mist began to pool around the largest of the standing stones, encircling all of the Tolloc. It spurned both Methos and Kallan, for which Methos felt strangely relieved. Then the mist broke apart, settling around each Tolloc in a separate cloud. The nav lights on the exterior of the Dalek cruiser burst, and the true violence of the Quickening was unleashed.
The first lightning strike arced from the cruiser to the nearest gray Dalek, the one which had announced the unknown power surge. “ELECTRICAL CAPACITY EXCEEDED. I AM UNDER ATTACK! ASSIST! ASSIST!” But before the others could do anything, the Dalek exploded and the lightning arced onward towards one of the Tolloc. A second Dalek perished before the others had begun to respond, while one by one, this strange and bizarrely powerful Quickening was striking each Tolloc individually. First Iktha, then the other Elders, then the Doctor’s friend Akain, then, one by one, the others.
“CEASE THIS ACTIVITY!” shrieked the Black Dalek, uselessly brandishing its weapon at the Doctor.
“I can’t!” shouted the Doctor over the maelstrom. “Don’t you see? This is something beyond you! Something you can’t capture, enslave, or kill! And it’s going to finish you!”
“RETURN TO THE CRUISER!” the Black Dalek ordered one of its lieutenants. A gray Dalek glided towards the ship, but was immediately struck by the Quickening. It gave out a curious screech before exploding, almost as if the mutant inside were in pain. Then Tosk came running out of the cruiser.
“COMMUNICATOR TOSK! STOP THE ENERGY DISCHARGE!”
“He can’t help you either!” shouted the Doctor. “It has to run it’s course!”
“SILENCE!” screamed the Black Dalek, becoming uncharacteristically frantic. Tosk had kept running in any case. The gray Daleks on the ridge abandoned their guard posts and began seeking a path down to intercept, but the Quickening blasted the side of the ravine before they could find their way down. A fifteen-foot section collapsed, bringing two Daleks down with it. They ended up face down and screeching in panic. Lightning danced across them and soon they too were silenced forever. The two remaining gray Daleks found their way to the ravine’s floor and immediately went for the ship. The Quickening made short work of them. “TOLLOC! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!” shrieked the Black Dalek, fury driving its harsh, synthesized voice as it realized that it was now alone. It began gliding towards the Tolloc to punish them, but by now they were all in the throes of the Quickening and far beyond noticing anything the Black Dalek might do to them. And then it was took late for the Black Dalek as well. The half-spheres on its lower portion began to glow, energized by the Quickening. “EXTERMINAAAAAAA . . . .” Then the lights on top of its head burst. It’s last word became a scream, black smoke came billowing out of its neck grill, and then, finally, it too exploded.
Then, as if that expended the last of the Quickening energies, the maelstrom died away.
It was abruptly very quiet in the Place of Light. Vorna and Martin had managed to catch Tosk as he tried to make a break for it. The Tolloc had all collapsed to the ground, exhausted from what likely only their second Quickening ever. There were eight smoldering Dalek shells scattered around. Rising back to his feet, the Doctor shook his head sadly at the carnage.
Beside him, Akain stirred. “Are you all right?” the Doctor asked.
Akain nodded. “I think so,” he said. There was a look of wonderment on his face as he stared up at the Time Lord.
“Here,” said the Doctor. “Let me help you up.” He extended his hand to the Tolloc hunter and hoisted him to his feet.
“Thank you,” said Akain. He looked around the Place of Light, taking in the devastation and the damaged Dalek cruiser. The other Tolloc were getting to their feet as well. He smiled sadly at the Doctor. “I remember now,” he said. “Nala gave herself for us, and in so doing, returned our memories to us.” He gave a long sigh. “The Tolloc are no more.”
“I think we’d better all talk about this,” said the Doctor. “Come with me.” He led Akain over to the three mortal Finders. Tosk had stopped struggling. He appeared stunned by what had happened. He would have some of the answers. “Adam! Kallan! Over here!” called the Doctor and the two Immortals joined the group, Kallan clutching his ornate Draconian sword incongruously to his chest, hilt up. “Iktha! The rest of you. Gather here.” Though dazed by the Quickening, the others moved closer, with Iktha at their head.
“We know who we are,” said Iktha. “You do not need to tell us, Shadow Walker.”
The Doctor nodded. “Akain explained that already, but there are still questions to be answered.”
“You bet there are questions,” said Vorna. “What the hell was that?”
Methos answered. “That was a Quickening,” he said. “It was unlike any I’ve ever seen before, but it was definitely a Quickening.”
Vorna rolled her eyes. “Then how do you know that’s what it was?”
“You’ll just have to trust me,” he said. “What’s odd is that it normally only goes to one Immortal. I don’t know why it went to so many, or why it specifically missed Kallan and myself.”
Tosk spoke up abruptly. “You’re not Tolloc, that’s why.”
“Yes,” said Methos, “but what the Tolloc really are is Immortal, and the both of us are Immortal.”
Tosk’s eyebrows shot up. “Don’t be absurd,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” said Kallan, not sounding a bit sorry. “Why else do you think I was so interested in them?”
“It doesn’t matter,” interrupted the Doctor. “Adam has a good point. Why did it miss him and Kallan? Tosk, why do you think?”
He glared at Martin and Vorna until they finally released his arms. “I was with Nala. She . . . she said she was going to . . . .” He sighed. “I’d better start at the beginning. The Daleks ordered me to integrate her with their Battle Computer so that she could predict the behavior of the Tolloc and yourselves. They were going to take care of the tactics themselves.” Of course thought the Doctor. This would be roughly the right period for the earliest Battle Computers. “But she did something I didn’t think was possible. She broke into the cruiser’s main computers and took over the ship. Then . . . .”
“I see!” said the Doctor, suddenly enthused and quite oblivious that he’d interrupted Tosk. “It makes perfect sense! Nala was the Librarian. She was used to finding her way through a mental world. And of course the Daleks won’t have perfected the system yet, so no doubt it has security problems. Yes!”
Tosk gave the Doctor a moment. “Are you finished?” he asked irritably.
“Oh, I do apologize,” said the Doctor. “Please continue.”
Tosk nodded. “Nala triggered an emergency landing. I ran to the flight controls, but stopped when a repair drone came out of its storage locker, uncommanded. Nala was controlling it. At first I thought she was going to cut herself free of the Battle Computer. She announced that she was going to join her people and told me to leave. I . . . ”
“You obeyed,” said the Doctor. “That’s all right. Don’t be ashamed.”
He shook his head. “No, I fled. She was controlling the drone; she could’ve killed me. I disobeyed the Daleks and fled. But before I left, she . . . .” He shook his head again. “The Tolloc are pacifists. I never thought they could have the determination to do such a thing. She used the drone to cut off her own head.”
The Doctor nodded. “Was there anything else?”
“Yes,” he said. “After that, there was a sort of mist. It headed outwards and I ran.” He paused thoughtfully. “Nala was telling the literal truth, wasn’t she? That was her, joining the rest of the Tolloc?”
“Yes,” said Iktha, suddenly joining the conversation. “She joined us all. The prophecy said that we would decide our fate, but the choice was taken from us. Nala joined us the only way she could, through the Quickening. One of us had to die to end the circle. Because it was Nala, we have our memories again. We remember who we were before, and so we are no longer Tolloc.”
“Then what are you?” asked Fixer Martin.
Iktha frowned. “I’m not sure. When we came here, I was a boy. I remember that now, but it’s been so long, I don’t think I can go back to that anymore.”
“You can’t go back,” said Kallan. He sighed. “You’re Immortal, Iktha. You all are. There’s a lot you need to learn if you want to return to the rest of the human race.”
“And what of humanity?” asked Akain. “I was a biologist before I became Tolloc. I remember a lot about human civilization. What has become of it?”
The Doctor grinned. “Earth is one of the dominant forces in the Galactic Federation. They’ve got faster-than-light technology, they’ve colonized thousands of worlds, and despite occasional border conflicts with the Daleks, things are pretty stable. The Daleks are mostly busy with the Movellans, after all. You’d like it. If you want to go back, I can take you there. I can take you all.” He smiled at the Finders. “Even the three of you.”
Methos rolled his eyes and groaned theatrically. “And I suppose the TARDIS will actually work this time?”
“Of course,” said the Doctor. “I’ve repaired it.” He turned back to Iktha, Akain, and the others. “So, what is it to be?”
“Doctor,” said Kallan, “you do realize that the Tolloc — or whatever they want to call themselves — have a great deal to learn? They’ve been stranded here for two thousand years. None of them has ever had a teacher. They need to learn about the Game.”
“Oh, must they?” asked the Doctor. “Hasn’t it occurred to you that the Game is absurd? How do you know there’s really going to be a Prize?” Kallan started to respond, but the Doctor cut him off. “And another thing: how do I know you’re not going to just exploit them to strike at the Daleks in some insane scheme?”
Kallan looked steadily at the Doctor. “I will make the Daleks pay for Tarnak.”
“You’d turn living, breathing people into a weapon without their consent?” asked the Doctor. “That makes you as bad as the Daleks.”
Kallan opened his mouth to respond, but thought better of it.
“Besides, it’s too late. They’re not the Tolloc anymore.” The Doctor smiled sadly. “Their innocence is lost, and with it, their unique powers. Nala’s not around to be their librarian, and I suspect they’ve lost their group mind as well.”
Iktha nodded. “It really is over,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” said Kallan. “The Doctor’s right. I had no right to do what I did. And I ruined your careers too,” he said to the other Finders.
“Don’t forget Savrek,” said Martin. “He’s dead.”
“And so’s Nala,” said Vorna.
“It had to be,” said Iktha. “It was prophesied. We didn’t know what the choice would be, but we knew that the Finders would come and that you would come, Shadow Walker, with your friend. It had to be,” he repeated. “Now . . . I don’t know. I don’t think we should stay here. Take us away from here, Shadow Walker.”
He smiled back. “No problem.”
In the end, they all chose to go to the Sol system. Vorna, Martin, and Tosk had never even seen the Sun before, much less Earth itself, so they asked to be deposited there. Kallan and the erstwhile Tolloc chose to settle there as well, aiming for one of the few remaining rural areas, an ancient wine-growing region in Europe which, in deference to tradition, still grew grapes the old fashioned way and could employ a few dozen willing and able farmhands. Kallan promised to teach them what they needed to know. When the TARDIS left Earth again, it seemed strangely empty and Methos remarked on the fact.
“Well,” said the Doctor, “I suppose you get used to it.”
“Do you?” asked Methos.
“Truthfully?” The Doctor sighed ruefully. “No, not really. So, where do you want to go now? I could take you to see the Braxiatel Collection. You’d like it; the best library and museum in the known universe. Or perhaps a visit to the Eye of Orion. It’s amazingly calming. There’s Barcelona, of course — the planet, not the city. So what’s it to be?”
“Home,” said Methos. “You promised to take me to Seacouver, 1997. 18 July, please, and you did promise round about teatime.”
The Doctor smiled gently back. “That I did,” he said. “All right. Seacouver it is.”