Chris was having terrible dreams when she was jolted to life by a voice. It was high and harsh and nothing like a person’s, and she was somewhere that definitely wasn’t her bed. For a second she had no idea where she was, then her anxiety rose even further as she remembered.
“That’s a Dalek!” she said. “Have they found us? Are they here?”
“It’s not us they’re talking to, said Osgood as she fumbled out of her sleeping bag. “The Doctor’s summoned an army.”
The Doctor was half-in the tent too, Chris noticed, frantically scooping things into her pockets.
“You’re friends with an army?” Chris asked her Time Lord friend.
“No!” said the Doctor. “Well. Not anymore. I persuaded some people to fight for us; it wasn’t that difficult in the end. Just a matter of turning things around, transforming them into their opposite.”
“Like reversing the polarity?” said Chris.
“Right,” said the Doctor. “It is funny how often that seems to work.”
“YOU SHOULD NOT BE FI-GHTING,” a Dalek roared from outside. “WE HAVE NO WISH TO EXTERMINATE!”
“EXTERMIMATE! EXTERMINATE!” cried another, unhelpfully.
The five of them scrambled out of the tent as quickly as they could. There were Daleks everywhere– not in their hiding place, but in almost all other parts of the valley. They looked like strange red berries against the moorland: poisonous, telling you you should stay away.
There were people everywhere, too: people of all ages and sizes, fighting creatures they shouldn’t be able to beat. They weren’t always succeeding, Chris saw. Dead bodies were everywhere, and laser blasts were eagerly making more.
She knew what the Daleks reminded of her, then. Soldiers in one of her history books, that wore silly costumes and who you never saw killing at all. They would never be scary when they were in books, when you knew they would lose in the end. It was very different when they showed up in your life. A Dalek was only silly when it was far away.
The Doctor wasn’t looking at the Daleks, though. She was staring at the people who had come because of her.
“They know what this is, right?” she said softly. “Not some sort…”
“Yes,” said Lorna. “Of course they do. The Daleks were killing families in their houses. People tend to have a problem with that.”
“But they’ll die,” said the Doctor. “Maybe here, or maybe with their world. Do they know if they win that this planet’s going to”–
“I told them everything,” said Osgood. “It’s a stronger story when you don’t have to tell a lie. That’s something I don’t think you ever quite understood.”
“But all this,” said the Doctor. “this many people. I didn’t think… I didn’t know it was this many people.”
“When he was Davros,” she said. “Before he’d turned into the Doctor. He asked me, if I had to choose between the things I wanted least in the world, whether there’d still be anyone who’d follow me. And I thought it’d mean I’d be nothing to anyone ever again. But,” she said, “but now there are so many people”–
“Not just people,” said Osgood grimly. “Here’s why we called for them in the first place.”
More Daleks were dropping in like falling cars, horrifyingly close to where they stood.
“THE DOC-TOR IS HERE!” one of them was yelling. “WE MUST FIND THE PLACE WHERE SHE SCHEMES AND HIDES! WE WILL EX-TERM-IN-ATE HER; WE WILL SAVE THE EARTH!”
“WE WILL SAVE! WE WILL SAVE!” the others beside it replied.
“That’s weird,” said the Doctor.
In the distance the High Dalek’s eye glowed dim, its stony voice beginning to intone.
“BRING FORWARD THE PROCESS OF DETONATION.” it said. “THE BOMB IS BUILT OUT OF THE PEOPLE; THE WEAPON REBELS FROM ITS TRIUMPH. ANNIHILATION OF THE UNIVERSE WILL BE ACCELERATED. ACCELERATE. ACCELERATE.”
Its eye moved up to the very top of its dome and a bolt of light started blasting up into the sky. Chris felt her stomach clench into nothing at all.
“Is it over?” she said, hoping the answer wouldn’t come.
“Not yet,” said the Doctor. “It’s not quite ready, but we don’t have long.”
“Chris,” she said. “I should never‘ve gotten you into this. Not any of you. But I’ve a spare screwdriver. It’s likely we’re going to need it.”
She fished it out of a pocket before Chris snatched it away.
“You’re right,” said Chris. “You shouldn’t’ve got us into this. I’m not going to say it’s okay. It’s stupid. Everything about this is.”
She was angry at everyone, at adults and Doctors and anyone else who was old. But at least she could take the rage out on something worthwhile.
She screamed, and let an awful sound puncture the air. Nearby, a Dalek exploded into bits.
“I didn’t know it could do that,” said the Doctor. “Would’ve made things a whole lot easier if I did.”
“What’re the rest of us supposed to do?” said Chris’s mother. “I can barely use a normal screwdriver, let alone one that’s running on sound.”
The Doctor sighed. “You know I can’t stand guns. But I think that, given the circumstances”–
She fumbled something out of a pocket and handed it over.
“This is a water pistol,” Lorna said.
“Filled with paint that never runs out,” said the Doctor. “It’s a paintball gun.”
“Against a brigade of death machines,” said Lorna.
The Doctor nodded. “You understand.”
“DIS-TOR-TION OF REA-LITY DET-EC-TED,” screamed a Dalek voice, then the air seemed to wobble and white light blasted something away. There was an awful silence, before a Dalek swivelled its eyestalk round to glare directly at them.
“YOU ARE ALLIES OF THE DOC-TOR,” the Dalek bawled. “YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!”
It turned to look at Chris, and despite everything she froze–
–then her mother roared and there was a sound like violence, and after that she was somehow still alive.
Tentatively she looked at the Dalek once more, yellow paint now splattered over its eye. She smiled over to her mother, who was trying not to grin.
“MY VISION IS IMPAIRED!” howled the Dalek. “I CANNOT SEE!”
“NOW SEE THE FOLLY OF MY DALEK RACE,” boomed the voice of the High Dalek from above. “OUR TRAVEL MACHINES EASILY BLINDED. OUR SPEECH SO NEEDLESSLY TAUTOLOGICAL. HUMANITY SHOULD NOT RECOIL IN SHAME. YOU ARE THE SUPERIOR BEINGS, AND YOU WILL EXTERMINATE. EXTERMINATE. EXTERMINATE.”
“Wait,” said the Doctor. “That’s more than weird. That’s”–
Before she could finish a laser blasted from nowhere, and behind her the tent ignited into flames.
Less talking, more fighting, thought Chris, letting the screwdriver start to howl once again. She frowned as if it’s sound was the sound of her voice, its scream her own, and all its violence hers. Daleks were exploding everywhere around her. She was probably being incredible, but didn’t care.
The flaming wreckage of a Dalek smashed to the ground just beside her, horribly close to the Mini.
“This might be the time to break into that thing,” said Osgood as she nodded over to the High Dalek.
“Before our battering ram gets too battered,” agreed the Doctor as she started to run for the Mini.
“Wait!” said John. “I need a weapon too! I don’t know how to fight.”
He looked over to Osgood for moral support, but she looked absolutely unconcerned about being weaponless.
“My phone!” said the Doctor, fishing it out and pressing it tightly into his hand. “It’s got apps for everything! Including fighting, probably.”
“Great,” said John weakly, resigning himself to his death. The Doctor had bounded right past him and had opened the hood of the Mini, her whole upper body inside as she scrambled around.
“What’re you doing?” John shouted over to her. “Can’t you just sonic it?”
“You can’t do everything with sound waves!” cried the Doctor. “Don’t they teach you that in physics?”
Overhead another Dalek exploded as Chris let a whine fill the air.
“I think I’ve got it,” said the Doctor from inside the hood. “Connect this wire to that one, then all the wires to the dynamite and”–
She made an alarmed sound, then stopped talking and threw herself clear of the car. And suddenly there was a roar as it blew its way into the air, the shell of the TARDIS still firmly stuck to its back, then an even greater roar as it slammed into the High Dalek in the distance…
…”that worked, I think,” said the Doctor once enough of the smoke had cleared.
“It was a beautiful machine,” said Osgood wistfully. “But still. It is like you say: everything has its time, and everything dies.”
“Not yet,” said the Doctor firmly. “Because none of this is over ‘till it is.”
She looked at them all.
“Ready to run?” she said.
They all looked unsure.“Neither am I,” she said. And as soon as she had she’d started to run all the same, and she didn’t even look back as she did. She knew they’d be running too, Chris thought. She knew that — despite everything — they’d follow her to the end of the world. And as Chris started running too she could only think one thing– that however frustrating the Doctor could be, she did often seem to be right.