A bulkhead slid smoothly upwards and out of the way, symmetrically framing the Dalek Elder in a burst of light. Fresh air came after, in such a tantalising lack of aroma I almost fell over forwards.
“YOUR HOUR HAS LAPSED. WILL YOU COMPLY?”
I savoured several long breaths before answering, and blinked yet more after images from my weary eyes.
“And, what? Build you guys a TARDIS? Defy my ancestry, let you run rampant in the vortex and essentially construct a great big, gold-plated ‘Fuck You’ to the rest of creation? Actually, said like that, it does sound quite fun.”
“EVADING THE QUESTION WILL RESULT IN EXTERMINATION.”
“Anything does, in this bloody cathedral of bronze and no staircases.” I can always tell when I have a plan. For starters, I adopt this pose:
I linked my hands behind my hand, and leant forwards, staring down the barrel of the Elder’s eyestalk. “And I’d go down without a second thought, right Shouty? The twenty fifth skeleton in the closet, so to speak.”
“If necessary, he says. I suppose in a way, the Doctor did you a favour. Not too long ago, I’d be Attempt One Of Three to build you a TARDIS. Now it turns out, you’ve got a whole damn planet of contenders. If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll leave it to them.”
I took a step back, taking care to stand where I blocked most of the doorway.
“You could even pick a few more off, while you’re there.” I slipped the Dalek a wink. “Just for me.”
“YOU HAVE MADE YOUR DECISION?”
“It would appear that I have.”
“THEN YOU SHALL PERISH UNDER MAXIMUM EXTERMINATION.”
Both gun-sticks twitched, taking aim, one for each heart.
“I probably would, yeah.” I held up a finger. “Alternatively,”
I side stepped, revealing Angel Demon behind me. Their form still wasn’t complete – in essence, a hologram of a horned, winged and utterly talon-ed Demon shot forwards. The Dalek Elder’s gun blasts passed through Angel Demon harmlessly, discharged and flared on the wall behind. Before any additional shots, Angel Demon reached the Elder and kept going. The demon-shroud shrank, re-sizing and transforming, fitting to the Elder’s size, before vanishing like mist. As though the murder machine had inhaled them, somehow.
The Dalek Elder twitched desperately, pointing every which way, gun-stalks roaming all over the place, and then completely stopped. It was like someone had flicked a switch. All movement halted, the eye and gun stalks drooped, and the Dalek Elder fell silent.
I took the opportunity to reclaim my sonic, scooping it up, enjoying the reassurance of its weight in my hand.
“How we getting on, Ay Dee?”
I waited, but the Dalek and the Demon stayed quiet. I was about to move, turn to their hopeless TARDIS console, maybe work towards crafting it into a trap of some form – when Angel Demon started screaming. They’d gotten control of the Elder, I knew that when the dome bulbs flashed, and the scream emitted like a power drill going through an electric blender. Apparently the Elder was no easy target.
“THERE’S SO MUCH DARKNESS IN HERE!”
A cold, sharp slice of guilt buried itself deep into my guts. “They’re manufactured that way, their entire biology is hatred. I’m so sorry.”
But the scream kept going, driven deep into my eardrums and several feet beyond that, almost to the point I wanted to throw up. In response, the main chamber door opened, allowing entrance to the two cannon-equipped weapon specialists Daleks.
With no measurable amount of hesitation, the Elder spun on the spot and unleashed extermination upon them both. Screaming ceased, the silence replaced by two impressive explosions. A plume of shards and dripping bits of Dalek decorated the walls. A sizeable chunk of tentacle missed me by inches. Its proceeding stench was something quite devastating.
“OKAY. THAT FEELS A BIT BETTER.”
“Have you gained control?”
“GETTING THERE.” Even through a Dalek voice modulator, I could hear the extertion. “BEAR IN MIND, I HAVEN’T DONE THIS IN A WHILE.”
I nodded. So long spent in her previous form, and now she was trying to claim a new one from a relative stronghold of hardwired evil. The physical equivalent of navigating the globe after a coma.
Don’t get too close, I thought. It’s dark inside.
But before long, the Dalek Elder’s movements slowed. The eyestalk’s red glow returned. And slowly swivelled onto me.
“GOT HIM.” It was my first experience of a Dalek sounding out of breath.
“How do you feel?”
“IT IS UNBELIEVABLY CRAMPED IN HERE.”
“Let’s not hang about then. Come on, back to the Riptide.”
Dalek Elder/Angel Demon didn’t move. Its red glare motionlessly bored into the back of my head. There was also a discernible shift in the background throb of the shared Dalek heartbeat. Its pace ever-so-slightly quickened.
“I HAVE FULL CONTROL.”
My grip on the sonic tightened. I recognise that tone of voice, Dalek-ified or not. The small, open-ended expression that precedes the arrival of a dark and dangerous idea. Sure enough, DE/AD rumbled forwards, moving me back towards the wall.
“GUESS I DON’T NEED YOU AFTER ALL.”
“I would strongly suggest you reconsider.”
“WHY? YOU WERE RIGHT. THE TIMELORDS WON’T FIND YOU HERE.”
I glanced to the door. Not too far, enough distance to outrun a Dalek maybe, but not one of their gun blasts.
“FOR THAT MATTER, NO ONE WILL.”
My world suddenly became nothing but the red Hellish glare of its eyestalk.
When you feel its heat, look into its eyes.
It’s where its demons hide…