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Numero Uno, how do I explain that Dymok has gone?'
Was never there, even,' suggested Niki Paladopous as he stood beside the commander.
Oakwood chewed on his lip. No, something was there, Niki.
Something that claimed three of our crew. I haven't had to file MIA forms since I was a junior officer in the last war. I did not expect to have to do so again - least of all out here.'
Sarah Townsend rested a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. We don't even have bodies to take back. What are we going to tell their families, Kris?'
Oakwood shook his head and sighed. I honestly don't know, Sarah. I think I've changed - hell, I think we've all changed because of this. I'm not sure if it's for the better. All I want to do is get a transport ship out here, get all of us off and blow this place apart. That's not healthy, is it?'
Paladopous shook his head. Maybe not, bossman, but it's understandable. The crew want to go home, too. The sooner the better, I think.'
Oakwood nodded and punched his communicator system on.
Commander K. J. Oakwood reporting. Urgent message to Earth Central, priority code red. Dymok is gone. Station Little Little Boy II Boy II has served its purpose. Request immediate transferral for entire crew as soon as possible. Command crew will make full reports on return to Earth Administration. has served its purpose. Request immediate transferral for entire crew as soon as possible. Command crew will make full reports on return to Earth Administration.
Oakwood out.' He punched the send button. Well, that ought to get em stirred up a bit, at least.' He looked down at the communicator and smiled, tightly. -Now I have become Death. The Destroyer of worlds. Great, thanks, Doctor.'
I'm sorry, bossman?'
Nothing, Niki. Something the Doctor told me about this station as we flew to Dymok. Something that had never occurred to me before.' He looked to his two officers. We must learn to ask questions in future. Without questions, we become followers, sheep. Like those poor buggers on Dymok, slaves to their Master. As long as we ask questions, our masters will always have to give answers.' He laughed briefly.
And they won't like that one bit.' He hit the communicator again, this time activating the station-wide systems. Attention all crew. We're going home - our tour of duty is over. In just under two weeks, a ship should be here to get us safely home.
Begin disembarkation procedures - I want this place gutted of all essentials and personal belongings by the time we leave. I know I'll have the chance to say this to each of you before we go our separate ways, but anyway, thank you. Everyone has done sterling work here under bizarre circumstances. I'm proud of you all. Oakwood out.' He thumbed the communicator off.
OK, kids, time we started looking for new jobs.'
The Celestial Toymaker stood among the ruins of his celestial toyshop, the only part of his realm that for ever existed outside the universe. Linked to him, an extension of his will, it could not be destroyed unless he was. But his recent traumas had been reflected in his abode - toys were scattered everywhere, a number of them broken, some repairable, some not. Above, the shattered pyramidic ceiling let in pale light from somewhere, casting weird semi-shadows on the miniature bodies that littered the floor. Motes of dust hovered in the air, enjoying their new freedom to be moved by the draughts that had entered his previously untouched domain.
Rallon was gone. Without him, the Toymaker was temporarily injured but, due to Rallon's manipulations, it was not a long-term predicament. He told Stefan, who was bustling around pampering his lord, this. Anything to quieten him down.
It is an irony, Stefan, is it not, that the three minds I wanted to explore offered very little, even the Doctor's. And Rallon surprised me - I had no idea he was such a good little schemer. How sad that the version of him I had grown accustomed to has gone - I should have enjoyed knowing him better. Perhaps, Stefan, that is my lesson. And the shayde of him that I have absorbed may promise some... interesting diversions ... while we rebuild the realm.'
It is not gone for ever?'
The Toymaker laughed. Oh poor, deluded Stefan, of course not. The human... what was his name? Oh yes, Desorgher. His sacrifice was futile - a delaying tactic. I cannot be defeated. I am exactly what those ridiculous Dymova believed. A god. I am one of the Doctor's Great Old Ones. I am a guardian, Stefan, the Guardian of Dreams. I exist as a counterbalance to the other guardians. The Guardian of Light. The Guardian of Chaos. The Guardian of Justice. And the twin guardians of...
well, anyway... we observe the ephemerals and their pathetically short spans. We observe the eternals, who so clearly aren't ... or won't be ... with their humdrum existence, pretending to be more than they are. Time. Death. Pain. Light.
What pitiful creatures they really are.'
The Toymaker clicked his fingers and, in the palm of his hand, a new toy appeared. Dressed in white, it carried a space helmet and outer-space blaster gun. If Stefan could have bothered to give it a closer inspection, he might have recognised Desorgher's face etched into its lifeless plastic mouldings.
Time to leave things to rebuild themselves,' the Toymaker sighed, placing his new toy on the Chinese lacquered table where the Millennia doll had once sat. If he noticed it was missing, he didn't comment. Or particularly care.
Toyshop, reassemble,' he barked. Time to leave,' he added for Stefan's benefit.
What now, Lord?' Stefan asked.
While the realm repairs itself, loyal Stefan, we must seek new amusements.'
Stefan regarded him carefully. With Rallon within him, his lord had a sense of morality, of good and evil. But this new Toymaker was cold and harsh. His momentary condemnation of his fellow guardians and of the eternals and, especially, the ephemerals - of which group, after all, Stefan belonged - was uncharacteristic. Perhaps it was akin to Rallon and the Doctor and their Time Lords regenerating at will, adopting a new persona, a whole new outlook. The Toymaker looked the same but he wasn't. Not at this precise moment, anyway.
I have examined the minds that Rallon... the Observer himself... oh, whatever... examined,' the Toymaker said. The planet Earth holds a fascination for the Doctor - the girl Tegan Jovanka was from there, from a time zone I am unfamiliar with as yet. She knew of places called amusement parks. They have an appealing ring, do you not agree?' He smiled at Stefan.
Yes, Lord. Will you take us somewhere where we can rebuild your empire? Have command over the weak and feeble?'
The Toymaker searched through the Observer's memory and thus everything he had gleaned of Tegan's homeworld. Then he smiled down at Stefan. All right,' he said. I take you to Blackpool!'
Best Years of Our Lives
Drax fled Gallifrey and ended up on Earth where his preoccupation with all things technological eventually got him into trouble with the authorities. After a spell in Brixton Prison, London, he was made an offer by the Shadow, an agent of the Guardian of Chaos, to build a war computer called Mentalis. This he did. After all, money is money... Ushas also departed Gallifrey. Feeling that she was never forgiven for that one, itsy-bitsy tiny incident with the genetically augmented mouse and the President's cat, she opted out of Time Lord society and settled on the planet Miasamoria Goria. She still rules there today as their Rani, albeit a rather tenuous patronage. She has a degree of enmity for most of her old Academy chums, particularly the Doctor and...
Koschei who, after leaving Gallifrey to seek his fortune, came upon the DarkHeart, a malevolent force that was to imbue him with a new sense of direction. He was obsessed with universal domination and the Doctor became his ultimate nemesis. The two fought many times, across many times, places and dimensions, Koschei always trying to be the Doctor's Master...
Mortimus also left Gallifrey, but more from boredom than anything else. Never really malevolent, he became fascinated with the planet Earth and headed there, intending to have fun playing around with time. Giving the Normans atomic bazookas in the eleventh century, putting money in a bank and nipping forward a few thousand years to claim millions in compound interest, that sort of thing. Harmless really. He made the mistake of allying himself with Daleks, Ice Warriors and other undesirables. Particularly stupid was his liaison with Artemis the Chronovore, whom he made very unhappy. So she hijacked his TARDIS with him inside and he hasn't been heard of since...
Unlike Magnus, the only one of the Deca to leave Gallifrey and face a rather ignoble end. Obsessed with the Aliens and their war games, he fled his homeworld and joined them, offering his services to build TARDISes for them. He claimed that he deliberately built in defects so that the Alien War Lord would always need his services. The War Lord, however, was not as foolish as he seemed, although he was prone to bouts of extreme paranoia. And it was in one of these moods that he had Magnus executed when the final war game scheme fell apart and the Time Lords finally carried out their threat of erasure...
Vansell, being the toady that he was, abandoned his fake Academy life and worked as a highly respected' (barely tolerated) co-ordinator between the High Council and the Celestial Intervention Agency. Not a nice job, but then Vansell's not a nice Time Lord.
Jelpax, on the other hand, was probably Cardinal Borusa's proudest achievement - the only one of the Deca to stay the course, graduate and eventually join one of the major recorders, keeping an eye on matters arising in four or five minor galaxies. It was his team who foresaw a future where the Daleks had achieved domination over all other species, and who helped prepare the plan to stop, or at least significantly alter, the past in order to affect the Daleks' future. Jelpax maintained his interest in all things from the Dark Times and this led him to a later role as a co-ordinator for the APC Net. His loyalty to Borusa and Gallifrey never wavered, and he was one of the main proponents in the cardinal's campaign to become Lord President of the Council. Few could avoid noting the irony when what Borusa got up to later involved a number of items from the Dark Times that he only knew about because of his friendship with Jelpax. As a result, Jelpax was removed from his posting at the APC Net and wound up on monitoring duty - a glorified traffic controller, raising and lowering the transduction barriers now and again. Not the most fulfilling of tasks for someone who had once been dubbed one of the proud purveyors of the next wave of Time Lord history'. And Rallon and Millennia? Well, both their names are erased from Time Lord history. The Time Lords are really rather good at that sort of thing - positive propaganda being good for the soul and all that.
As for the Doctor? Well, he's still out there, righting wrongs, lighting the dark and saving the oppressed.
He's also probably the most content of them all...
Well, there you have it, yet another Gary Russell book featuring something else from the past...
It wasn't meant to be like that at all - no, I was planning both a Colin Baker and a Paul McGann one first, but, hey, that's the way things go.
So, why the Toymaker? I just love the concepts of big, powerful hard-to-defeat villains, and Michael Gough's portrayal of the Toymaker on television back in the Sixties is so special I just wanted to dabble a bit. On top of that, there are numerous hints in the original story that the Doctor had met the Toymaker before, and I wanted to discover how, when and why.
During my researches for various parts of this book (thanks, as always, to various rec.arts.drwho punters, particularly Mark Phippen, for input) a couple of people asked whether it was going to disregard the out-of-print novelisation of The Nightmare Fair, The Nightmare Fair, based on an unmade television script by Graham Williams. This was due to be transmitted during Colin Baker's reign as the Doctor but, for a variety of reasons, it never happened. Not wanting to spoil the based on an unmade television script by Graham Williams. This was due to be transmitted during Colin Baker's reign as the Doctor but, for a variety of reasons, it never happened. Not wanting to spoil the canon' (if there is such a thing), I thought I'd do my best to avoid doing so and on re-reading The Nightmare Fair, The Nightmare Fair, I discovered one marvellous extra ingredient for this story - the Toymaker of that book seems to me to be lacking a lot of the mystery, charm and elegance of the televised character from the Sixties, so I thought Hmmm, I wonder why..?' I discovered one marvellous extra ingredient for this story - the Toymaker of that book seems to me to be lacking a lot of the mystery, charm and elegance of the televised character from the Sixties, so I thought Hmmm, I wonder why..?'
This story also slightly fed my adoration of all things Gallifreyan by offering the opportunity to feature a lengthy cameo (isn't that a contradiction in terms?) of the First Doctor when still at school. A very large thanks to Marc Platt for letting me play with some of his concepts here. Thanks and applause are also due to John Peel and Alan Barnes, both of whom expertly manipulated the Toymaker in comic-strip form - and both of whose efforts are noted (and probably highly abused) herein.
One of the best things to come out of the various Doctor Who Doctor Who novels over the years has been the explanation of the extra-powerful adversaries the universe has faced, known colloquially as the Great Old Ones. I'm indebted, as we all are, to Andy Lane, Craig Hinton and David A. McIntee for establishing their credentials and, particularly, to Lance Parkin for penning the sadly-out-of-print-but-worth-finding-second-hand-if-you-can novels over the years has been the explanation of the extra-powerful adversaries the universe has faced, known colloquially as the Great Old Ones. I'm indebted, as we all are, to Andy Lane, Craig Hinton and David A. McIntee for establishing their credentials and, particularly, to Lance Parkin for penning the sadly-out-of-print-but-worth-finding-second-hand-if-you-can Doctor Who: A History of the Universe Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in which all the references are brought together for easy consumption/exploitation/ripping-off by myself. Doing this novel was a fairly exhausting task and please allow me to indulge myself in some very deserved thanks to those who helped me relax afterwards: the CONvergence gang in Minneapolis - particularly the delightful Windy Merrill and her mom, and the lovely Chris, fab Tim, wonderful TJ, crazy Cat and wholly insane Jeremy. Extra special thanks to my in which all the references are brought together for easy consumption/exploitation/ripping-off by myself. Doing this novel was a fairly exhausting task and please allow me to indulge myself in some very deserved thanks to those who helped me relax afterwards: the CONvergence gang in Minneapolis - particularly the delightful Windy Merrill and her mom, and the lovely Chris, fab Tim, wonderful TJ, crazy Cat and wholly insane Jeremy. Extra special thanks to my gang' for the weekend - Greg Bakun, Mike Lee, Kathy Sullivan, Robert Franks, Trey Korte, Shaun Lyon. Although not there in body, certainly there in spirit was Chad Jones. Oh, and a very big hug to Chelle and the Freak Girl for Saturday night's bop!
Finally, raise a toast to the wonderful, and eternally patient, Rachel Brown, new editor extraordinaire at BBC Books who has had a real baptism of fire with this range of novels. My inability to meet deadlines hasn't helped her task one jot.