The old Doctor was ill. He said that his body was wearing a bit thin. As he rests in an infirmary in a research station in the South Pole, he's all alone, and he doesn't want to change. He's afraid. He's afraid and he's alone. His two young and most recent companions, the seaman Ben Jackson and the London secretary Polly Wright, were busy assisting the crew of the station combating the Cybermen from the planet Mondas, or at least that is what he thought they were doing.
As his old body began to change, some of his memories began to flashback. From his self-imposed exile from his homeworld to his first encounter with the evil fascistic race known as the Daleks. One memory that returned to him was his first encounter with the Cybermen. During this adventure, he was with his old friends Vicki Pallister and Steven Taylor. Vicki was a sixteen-year-old girl born in the latter half of the 25th century. While traveling to the planet Astra, the ship she was traveling crashed. While stranded, most of the passengers and crew (including her own father) perished, leaving Vicki as an orphan. Steven, on the other hand, was a space pilot from the 22nd century who fought in a couple of interplanetary wars.
By the time he was in the South Pole, Vicki and Steven were long gone. Like of the rest of his time traveling companions, they were all gone. He thought of all of them, but especially Vicki. When he thought of her, he felt a strong sense of guilt. Thanks to the time-space visualizer, he was able to watch over his granddaughter Susan, who was safe and started a family of her own. Ian and Barbara married and also started a family, having a son named John and two daughters named Vicki and Susan. Steven finally found his own peace, but Vicki was taken away too soon and was never able to have her own life.
The TARDIS dematerialized from the city of Troy within in short period of time. Steven, who was wounded in a fight against a Trojan warrior, was moaning in pain and was beginning to hallucinate. The Doctor was busy at the control console, while Vicki was sitting beside Steven, moping his brow as he struggles to stay alive. Vicki had a lot on her mind. She felt horrible for abandoning Prince Troilus, but she felt even worse over abandoning the Doctor, the man who took her in after being orphaned, and Steven, the closest thing that she'll ever have to a brother.
Steven moaned in even more agony than before, as his condition continued to worsen. He opened his eyes, and he saw Vicki to his right. She grabbed his hand and kept her hand on his head.
"Vicki," he said weakly.
"It's alright," she replied.
"Where are we," he asked, "are we still in Troy? Have the Trojans found us?"
"No, we escaped the Trojans. We're fine."
"Where's the Doctor?"
"He's also fine, he's at the controls."
"We must get out of here."
"We are, just remain calm."
Just then the Doctor walked in to check on his ailing friend. Steven didn't notice the old man walk in, as he continued to breath heavier as the struggle to stay alive was consuming all the energy he had left.
"Doctor," he cried weakly, "I must help the Doctor."
"No, no, no, no, no," said the Doctor, "keep calm, keep calm." Steven attempted to sit up as he heard the Doctor's voice, but Vicki kept him down as he was too ill to move.
"Everything is alright my dear boy," the Doctor said while grabbing hold of Steven's hand, "Now keep calm."
Vicki and the Doctor left the dying Steven to rest, walking to the control panel in the console room.
"He's delirious," said a visibly shaken Vicki, "he's very ill. What are we going to do?"
"I must stop somewhere," the Doctor replied while comforting his young companion, "we must land in a time period with drugs that could save his life. Oh, yes, now. Those drugs, those drugs."
"What's the matter with him," demanded Space Security Agent Bret Vyon, "I said, what's the matter with him?"
Vyon and Agent Kert Gantry were sent to the planet Kembel on an assignment to investigate the disappearance of Agent Marc Cory. Upon realising that the planet was occupied by the Daleks, the two men tried desperately to escape. Gantry was wounded in the flight and forced Vyon to keep fleeing in order for him to escape. A few minutes before, Vyon had witnessed the dematerialization of the TARDIS, which perhaps saved his life. He found the Doctor and robbed the old man at gunpoint, taking the TARDIS key away from him. Upon entering the ship, Vyon was astonished by what he saw. Watching the events unfold on the scanner, Vicki didn't trust Vyon, and snuck behind him, and knocked him out with her shoe.
While unconscious, the Doctor entered the ship and he and Vicki restrained Vyon in what the Doctor called his magnetic chair. As Steven's fever grows worse, Vyon watches as Vicki tends to her friend, observing the scene.
"He's ill," she replied coldly, still not trusting Vyon.
"There are some tablets in the pouch of my belt," said Vyon, "give him two."
"The Doctor's going to get help for him, and why exactly should I trust you?"
"He won't find any on this planet, believe me, so why not try the tablets? I hate to see anyone die through stupidity."
It wasn't easy for the time travelers to trust Bret Vyon. His morality was questionable, and the fact that he nearly left the Doctor to die at the hands of the Daleks caused Steven and Vicki to distrust him even less. Regardless, they needed him. It was impossible for the trio to face the Dalek empire on their own. When they reunited with the Doctor, they escaped by hijacking Mavic Chen's shuttlecraft. The Daleks pursue the four of them to the swampy prison planet Desperus, for which they were forced to land on.
While on Desperus, Steven and Vyon attempt to repair the damage before the Daleks could arrive to wipe them out. While on board, Vicki and the Doctor find three convicts approaching them. They knew from the beginning that the convicts wanted their ship, so the two drop a live wire into the swamp below, shocking the convicts unconscious. However, one of the convicts was able to stow away on board.
When Bret and Steven finished the repairs, the ship took off for Earth before the Daleks could arrive. The Doctor realises that the airlock was still open and asked Vicki to close it. When Vicki headed towards the airlock, the convict jumped out from the internal door and seized Vicki and pulled her around in front of him to use her as a shield, all the while he lifts a knife to her neck. Now with his own hostage, the convict hopes to be taken to the planet Kembel. He refused to listen to the Doctor and Steven's warnings over the hostility surrounding Kembel, believing it to be better than Desperus.
"The Daleks are on Kembel," Steven warned to the delirious criminal while trying to stall for time.
"The Daleks are no help," said the Doctor, "we're going back to earth!"
"Then I shall be sent back to the Devil's planet," the criminal cried with an insane look, "no, whoever the Daleks are, they'll help me."
Steven, in another attempt to warn the insane man, says, "you don't know about them.."
"I said go to Kembel," the criminal cried with a mad snarl, "Kembel!"
Bret Vyon works over the controls of the ship and changes the direction of the vessel toward Kembel. When the Doctor told the insane man of the change of course, the lunatic refused to believe him, holding the knife higher to Vicki's throat. Upon hearing of the change of course, the already frightened and panicking Vicki began to fight again in order to free herself. The madman held her tighter against his dirty body. He hauls her into the airlock, hitting the door switch, and sealing it shut.
Steven suggested that Bret opens the door in order to rush onto the madman and free Vicki, but the Doctor warned that the lunatic would kill Vicki, knowing that the convict has no touch with reality. Vicki herself began to panic. She was racing through her mind, trying to find a solution or a way out, but she fears that it is the end for her. After all she had experienced ever since joining the Doctor, facing fascistic races such as the Daleks and the Dravhins, traveling to ancient societies such as Medieval England and the Roman Empire, fighting a sexist alien ghost, and surviving the crash of a spaceship, yet this is how she will die.
She can hear her friends fighting with Bret Vyon, who will refuse to negotiate with the madman. Vyon saw no point, believing that the lunatic could not be reasoned with. Vyon also held the belief that the madman would not kill Vicki, as he would not have a hostage. This belief refused to sway Steven and the Doctor, who were determined to get Vicki out of the clutches of the madman.
"You animal," Steven cried in fury and disgust.
The Doctor and Steven continued to bicker with Vyon, who saw no point in returning to Kembel. He believed that if he were to save Vicki, it would jeopardize everything that he and the time travelers did in order to prevent a Dalek invasion. Vicki saw no other alternative, she knew that she was going to die on board that ship one way or another. However, she will not allow her friends to become victim to this lunatic one way or another. She pulled her hand free, reached toward the airlock switch. The madman attempts to grab hold of Vicki, while Steven and Vyon watch from the control panel, realising what button she is trying to press.
Steven attempted to persuade her not to, but it was of no use. There is no other way, Vicki thought to herself. He stabbed at the button, and the outer airlock doors open. Vicki and the madman are swept out in the depths of outer space. During her last moments, she could hear Steven cry her name from inside the ship before she could no longer hear. She was unable to breathe any longer, and thus she departed the world of the living into the world of the deceased. Back on board the spaceship, there is a stunned silence as the three men are left in a state of utter shock.
"She pressed the wrong button," Steven said silently, looking away from the doors.
"She may have wanted to, dear boy," said the Doctor, "she wanted to save our lives."
"It must have been quick," said Vyon awkwardly.
"I hope she's at peace now," the Doctor continued sadly, "she wanted to save our lives, and perhaps the lives of all the other beings of the Solar System." The Doctor walked toward the windows of the spacecraft and starred toward the distant stars. "Oh, how I shall always remember her, my dear Vicki, as a daughter of the stars."
For the Doctor and Steven, it had been a while since the trouble with the Daleks. Sara and Vicki were long gone, and the superweapon the Daleks fought so hard to create, was destroyed, killing them and destroying the planet Kembel in the process. Since then, the two men had traveled to the medieval Kingdom of France. They discovered that they have landed not long before the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's day. Before the events of the Massacre, Steven befriended a young Huguenot girl named Anne Chaplet. Just as the massacre was about to begin, he and the Doctor immediately left in the TARDIS, leaving Anne behind to die in the slaughter. Steven was left heartbroken and infuriated over the Doctor's refusal to save her life.
There was one rule in which the Doctor choose to live by strictly, and that was to never change the course of history. Having traveled with the Doctor for a long while, Steven knew of this rule very well, but he didn't believe that leaving a simple young girl, whom would not be remembered by the history books or mentioned by anyone years ahead of her time, would be a part of this rule. Steven was disgusted. He then thought of his deceased friend Vicki, would the Doctor be willing to change history just to save her life? Was it worth leaving Vicki for dead? The thought of Vicki Pallister clouded the judgment of enraged former space pilot.
"I tell you this much, Doctor," Steven growled, "wherever this machine of yours lands next I'm getting off. If your researches have so little regard for human life then I want no part of it."
Upon landing in London in the year 1966, the two of them checked the TARDIS scanners to see if wherever they landed was habitable, and then Steven left the TARDIS, offering an abrupt farewell. For the first time since his travels began, the Doctor was left all alone to himself. He had no one left. Steven, on the other hand, was sent into an unfamiliar world. He kept walking away from the TARDIS, he kept thinking of Anne, Sara, and Vicki. The Doctor fought desperately to free Vicki from the madman back outside the atmosphere of the planet Desperus, but he couldn't save the life of Anne Chaplet. Perhaps he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, but he refused to change his mind, deciding to start a new life, in what he viewed to be ancient London.
Upon hearing of General Cutler's attempt to fire a superweapon at Mondas, the Doctor sprung out of bed in order to face the general. The superweapon that would've destroyed Mondas had the potential to spread radiation that would kill off a large number of the population on Earth. Ultimately the weapon was disarmed by Ben, and the enraged and grieving General Cutler, whose son was in danger of the Cybermen, threatened to kill Ben, a scientist named Barclay, and the Doctor. However, Cutler is murdered by a Cyberman before he could kill anyone himself.
The Cybermen hoped to use the superweapon to destroy the Earth in order to save Mondas. Ben and Barclay were sent to work on it, while the Doctor and Polly were taken as hostages by the Cybermen. While locked away in the Cybermen ship, the Doctor's health continued to worsen. He felt slightly nauseated and he felt a great deal of pain. With the except of the dreadful and permanent release of death, nothing can stop his regeneration.
"Doctor," cried a voice that sounded distant but yet close.
The Doctor recognized the voice. It wasn't Polly, who was right next to him, nor was it Ben, a Cyberman, or anyone on this station. The lights began to flicker and then he felt a cold breeze on his face. He moved his looks into the direction of the breeze, and he saw what looked like a human hand. In front of him was a teenage girl. She had a mousy face, with slightly brownish-blonde hair arranged in pigtails. The girl wore a turtle-neck with leggings, and she had a warm yet mischievous smile on her face.
"Vicki," said the Doctor weakly, "my dear Vicki."
"Hello Doctor," said Vicki.
Polly turned to the Doctor, hearing him speak to what seemed to be nothing. She feared that the Doctor, who was seemingly ill, had begun to hallucinate. The Doctor meanwhile, was surprised, both pleasantly and horrifyingly, at this sudden and impossible yet magical reunion.
"How is this possible my child," he asked, "the afterlife is a work of fiction." Vicki's smile began to disappear, as she knew that her friend was unwell.
"Maybe I'm really Vicki Pallister," said the apparition, "or maybe I'm some sort of a hallucination. Regardless, you know very well that the universe is full of mysteries that have yet to be solved."
"Indeed my dear, indeed."
"You are changing, Doctor."
"How did you that, hm?"
"Because since what happened over Desperus, I was able to study and observe. I learned that you are a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, and I learned that Time Lords change their bodies in order to cheat death."
"Were you watching me, child?"
"I was," Vicki replied softly, "I watched over you and Steven, as well as Ian and Barbara. When I passed on, I returned to the TARDIS."
"So you are what some would call a 'guardian angel'," the Doctor asked.
"Yes," Vicki replied softly.
"If you are really Vicki," said the Doctor, "then why are you here my dear?"
"Because you're afraid," Vicki replied.
"Afraid of what?"
"Afraid of what is happening and what will happen next." Vicki paused for a brief moment. "You're afraid of changing."
The Doctor starred solemnly at Vicki, a tear began to trickle down his cheek. She was right, he thought to himself. While the Time Lords can regenerate their bodies in order to survive, he didn't want to change. He was afraid of what will happen. What would become of him? Would he be a good man, a bad man, a madman, a thief, a murderer, a soldier, a police officer, or a monarch? He just wanted to be himself, he didn't want to change, he was the Doctor.
"I'm here to comfort you, Doctor," said Vicki, "I don't want you to feel alone or afraid."
"I'm already alone," the Doctor sadly replied, "and I'm afraid."
"You don't have to be." Vicki moved her hand and stroked the Doctor's forehead. He felt nothing but a cold breeze along his brow. "In a way, we are all afraid of change. We're all afraid of the outcome, we're afraid that we'll forget who we are, and we're afraid of losing the ones we love most. But we don't always have to be afraid."
"What do you mean," the Doctor asked.
"Well, if you were to regenerate, you would receive a clean bill of health. You could be younger and stronger and visit many more places, and maybe be able to meet some new friends. But when you change, you will still be the Doctor. You will still be the man that I knew."
The Doctor was moved by Vicki's words, but he was still reluctant to regenerate. Vicki could sense this, and she understood how he felt.
"Ben and Polly need you," she said, "they need you now more than ever. They came into the TARDIS by accident, and they entered into a strange new world that is foreign to them. They need guidance, they need you. What would they do without you?"
The Doctor then thought of what Vicki said. What would the two young Britons do without him? If he dies at this moment, would they be left stranded in the South Pole? Would they ever be able to get home? Without him, they wouldn't be able to return to their own time period.
"You have another chance at life," Vicki continued with what looked like a tear falling down her ghostly cheek, "Please don't waste it."
The Doctor smiled, and he attempted to reach his hand toward Vicki, perhaps in a handshake. But she disappeared before his eyes. Moments later, Ben came to free Polly and the Doctor. While Ben and Polly put on their coats, the Doctor returned to the TARDIS on his own. Back at his ship, he began to feel the beginning of his regeneration. His two young companions were at the TARDIS doors before the ship could dematerialize. The Doctor pulled the switch to allow them to enter before collapsing onto the floor before. His regeneration has begun. Before his face forever changed for the first time, the spirit of Vicki Pallister watched over the body of her surrogate father, refusing to break the promise of leaving him alone.