The 1965 episode "The Chase" featured a stupid Dalek. Thanks also to Jack Finney.
It is said throughout the Twenty Galaxies that the Dalek economy is based on raid, not trade. So when, just beyond the outer edge of their empire, the Daleks found a lifeless planet, rich in resources of all kinds, they sent fifty ships to claim it and keep guard. Fifty ships because long-range scans had detected Movellan activity two systems away. The Daleks didn’t fear the Movellans, those icy androids, but they did respect their military prowess. A threat assessment was undertaken and scored low; so five ships were left in orbit and the rest returned to the outer planets of the empire.
The Daleks split their empire into sectors, each run by a high-ranking Black Dalek. This new planet was beyond the rim of Sector 367. Had their been a sentient species on the planet, capable of resistance, a low-ranking Black Dalek would have taken charge of it. Instead, the Sector Commander, a high-ranking Black Dalek, put in charge his senior lieutenant, a Dalek in copper livery, who was given the courtesy title of Supreme Dalek. Day to day, he was known as the Command Dalek. He was seasoned in combat and had worked his way up through the ranks by demonstrating courage and savage ruthlessness. He was Black Dalek material and this posting would help him achieve that ambition. He had to demonstrate two qualities his career thus far had not required of him: logistical skill and organisational efficiency. He had to locate the most promising areas and clear the ground for construction. He would oversee the establishment of camps to house ten thousand slaves shipped in from different parts of the empire. He would also organise the delivery of breathing masks to compensate for the low level of oxygen in the atmosphere.
The Command Dalek was aware that managing the slaves would be an important part of proving himself. He had therefore appointed an overseer Dalek, experienced in the task. That showed he could delegate. But it was a question of costs versus profits, something he had not had to manage before. It was expensive to maintain millions of slaves across dozens of conquered worlds. So the slaves had to generate a profit by having productive work to do. Excess slaves might be kept alive if there was a prospect that they might be needed. Otherwise — and this was a closely-guarded secret — they were exterminated and fed to productive slaves as meat. It was kept secret because the Daleks realised that the surviving slaves would react badly to eating their own kind. That would lower their efficiency and affect production targets. Though cruel, the Daleks were practical: they treated their slaves as livestock and looked after them as such, like a farmer with his horses.
So the Command Dalek had to calculate the minimum number of slaves he would need to generate the maximum amount of product — minerals, ore, gems, etc. He had to calculate quotas and numbers, resources needed for the slaves, and a myriad other things, and he had to get it right. The Black Dalek’s staff would be scrutinising everything. The Command Dalek would win points if he could minimise deaths, thus reducing the number of new slaves needing to be transported in.
His initial team consisted of fifty Daleks: fourteen to provide security, eighteen to locate mineral and ore deposits, and eighteen to construct prefabricated camps and arrange the piping-in of fresh water and the channelling of bodily waste for use as fuel. There would be an off-site facility for processing dead slaves as meat for the others. The absence of animal life meant there was only plant-based food available on the planet. The plant life was varied, but so far tests had found it indigestible for humanoids. So the Command Dalek had requested an extra two hundred slaves to grow food for the workers. He was pleased that he had thought to test the soil nutrients and strength of sunlight before making the request, and so had ordered fertiliser as well. This demonstrated his organisational focus and would minimise the amount of food having to be shipped in.
Five months into his mission, the Command Dalek was content. Five sites had been located and slaves were already hard at work. Dalek freighters were met promptly and were full when they left. There were now two thousand farm slaves tilling the ground on a huge plain near the equator. Machinery was increasing their efficiency and the planet would soon be producing eighty-three per cent of the food needed. The Movellans had not moved from their outpost two systems away. Five ships remained in orbit as a deterrent. On the planet, the security Daleks were constantly on the move, alert to any potential threat or covert landing. Slave deaths had been kept below two per cent — considered an excellent use of resources. It was all looking good. Elevation to Black Dalek was almost in the bag.
It was now day one hundred and ninety-six. A report had just come in from the Dalek Overseer, who was responsible for the slaves. The Command Dalek was about to open it, prepared for the usual routine statistics, deaths, injuries requiring extermination, and production figures.
And then it happened. An urgent message from a wasteland within Site D.
For a moment, the Command Dalek froze. He couldn’t believe it. Not here. Not now. Not when the promotion he had worked so hard for was almost his. But the brief surge of panic was frozen by an icy calm as he focused his mind.
“Command to all security Daleks. Converge on the signal from Site D immediately. Repeat: converge on the signal from Site D immediately. Locate and exterminate the Doctor. Exterminate! Exterminate! I am on my way.”
The Command Dalek lived alone in a Command Centre equidistant from the five mining sites. Each was over five thousand miles away. His shuttle would jet him to Site D, but it was a three-hour journey. As he set off, he planned the search he would organise when he got there. Then he pondered on whether to involve the ships orbiting above. He outranked the Daleks captaining each ship, but calling them in too soon could look like weakness and panic. But he had only fourteen security Daleks and half of them would take longer to get to Site D then he would. Some were half the planet away. He’d be criticised for having too few of them. He would have to draw more down from above. And failing to kill the Doctor would be the end of his career. Of his life. And if the Doctor thwarted their plans for this planet, every Dalek in his team would be executed in front of him, with his turn coming last. It would include the ultimate humiliation: he would be forced to leave his travel machine and to be exterminated as he lay naked and helpless before the high and mighty members of the Elite.
In all his career, he had never encountered the Doctor. That he should face him now, at this crucial moment… His emotions got the better of him and, in the privacy of his ship, he screamed, over and over and over, “I WILL SUCCEED!! I WILL SUCCEED!! I WILL BE THE NEXT BLACK DALEK!!!”
He was so enraged, it took a moment for him to realise a signal was incoming. It was from somewhere within Site D. He took a moment to recover his composure, then flipped the switch. At once, he heard the noise of Daleks quacking with excitement.
“The Doctor has been exterminated! The Doctor has been exterminated!”
The exhilaration in the Dalek’s voice was infectious. The Command Dalek felt a wave of cruel exultation ripple through him. But all he could bark out was, “Is it true?”
“Confirmed! Confirmed!” cried the Security Chief. “We exterminated him in front of his TARDIS. His body lies before us. The Doctor has been exterminated by the team I have trained!”
“Touch nothing until I arrive.”
The Command Dalek flipped the switch off, then spun round and round in a dance of excitement.
“The Doctor has been exterminated under my command! I have achieved what no other Dalek ever could!”
Around and around he spun, crying out his joy over and over again, in what sounded like an extended clearing of the throat. On and on it went, minute after minute, spin upon spin.
Finally, he came to a rest, but only for a moment. He couldn’t stay still. Up and down his shuttle he went, his eyepiece jerking up and down, the Dalek equivalent of leaping up and shouting hooray.
Calming down, he reviewed the file on the security detail. The Security Chief was newly-promoted and had been given this posting because the planet was uninhabited and the mission therefore straightforward — a good way to gain experience. Most of the team were adequate. Two were judged above average. And one was below average and his performance would be reviewed at the end of the mission. If unsatisfactory, he would be terminated and his travel machine given to a newly-created Dalek.
Then he began to muse on the Security Chief’s words...”the team I have trained.” Impudence. Trying to steal some of the credit. The Security Chief would have to be put in his place.
Finally, his shuttle set down at the location in Site D, near to the clearing where the TARDIS and eight Daleks could be seen as it descended. It was in the midst of a forest of some sort, with strange trees and stranger plants. The Command Dalek shot down the ramp and glided into the midst of his underlings. They parted to let him through. And there, lying lifeless on the ground, his glassy eyes staring at nothing, was a figure in a multi-coloured coat and yellow trousers. Beside him was a human female, dark-haired and just as dead. The Command Dalek consulted his on-board database.
Yes, there it was, among known images of the Doctor. The very same incarnation that lay before him now.
“The Doctor has been exterminated!” he cried. “I have succeeded where no other Dalek ever has!”
He noted a slight agitation among his subordinates and quickly identified one Dalek in particular. As he swung his eyepiece towards him, this Dalek said, “It was me. I exterminated the Doctor.”
The others turned their eyepieces towards this Dalek and moved a little away from him.
“At my orders,” snapped the Command Dalek. “Failure would be my responsibility. Therefore, success is mine too.”
“Success,” began the Dalek slowly, “can be shared. I encountered the Doctor and his companion. I alone. I exterminated them. Alone.”
It was then that the Command Dalek recognised this as the below-average Dalek, the one lacking initiative, the only one stupid enough to make such comments. The other Daleks moved further away from this Dalek, distancing themselves, not just from him, but from his comments. Then one of them remembered that he was the Security Chief. If he wanted to keep his position, he needed to act quickly — and, aware of his earlier blunder — throw in a little flattery. He darted forward and barked out, “Do not question the Supreme Dalek! It is his genius that has led to this victory over the Daleks’ greatest enemy.”
The Command Dalek held down his rage. It would not do for a Supreme Dalek to lose control of himself in front of his minions. He turned his stare upon the Security Chief and said, “You will reinforce discipline among your team.”
The Security Chief dropped his eyepiece and shouted back, “I obey!”
Then the Command Dalek looked at the stupid Dalek and said, “Had you maintained discipline, I would have recommended promotion. As it is, your reward is: you will be allowed to live.”
The stupid Dalek lowered his eyepiece and made no further remark.
But the Command Dalek wanted to be clearly understood. He moved threateningly towards the stupid Dalek and said harshly, “But understand this. You were here only because I ordered it. I assessed the situation and gave the orders. You did only your duty. You could do it only because I placed you here.” His voice rose in anger. “Therefore, the credit is mine! I exterminated the Doctor through you. You will obey! Obey!!”
At once, they all screeched in unison, “We obey! We obey!” The stupid Dalek at least had the sense to screech the loudest. If he hadn’t known it before, he knew his place now.
The Command Dalek ordered the Doctor’s body and the TARDIS to be taken onto his shuttle. The body of Peri was sent as meat for the slaves.
The Command Dalek could hardly wait to take off and open a channel to the flagship orbiting above.
“Bring your ship to the main landing port at once.” He paused to allow the captain to ask why. This was to be a sweet moment.
The captain duly obliged. “For what reason?”
The Command Dalek paused again, then said, “Because I have captured the TARDIS. And I have exterminated the Doctor!”
There was another pause, this time a startled one, then the captain said, “Repeat! Repeat!”
“I have exterminated the Doctor, our greatest enemy! I have his body here with me. His DEAD body.”
He heard over the comms the captain announce it to the crew and the pandemonium that ensued. He shut off the transmission and spun around and around and around. It was the greatest moment of his life.
By the time the Command Dalek’s shuttle landed at base, a huge Dalek saucer was waiting at the landing port. Many of its inmates had poured out and were milling about in anticipation of seeing their greatest enemy exterminated at last. This time, the Command Dalek didn’t shoot down the ramp, but processed down in a stately fashion, as befits a hero. The saucer’s captain was waiting for him and all the Daleks gathered around to behold the newly-created legend now come among them. They regarded him with something approaching reverence. He knew it, he enjoyed it and he spent a pleasant few minutes parading up and down before them.
Then to the saucer’s captain he said, “Bring from your ship a freezer unit. The body of the Doctor must be kept in prime condition for viewing by the Emperor.”
The Command Dalek was going to see the Emperor! The assembled Daleks would have gasped if they could. But a moment of stunned silence was their equivalent and the Command Dalek drank it in. His thoughts began to vault over promotion to Black Dalek and to land him among the Daleks of the Elite.
Still speaking to the captain, the Command Dalek said, “You will take temporary command here while I take the Doctor’s body and the TARDIS to Sector Control, and from there to Skaro.”
The Command Dalek then arranged that the Doctor’s body be brought out and put on display. The assembled Daleks filed past it, not in mourning, but in undisguised glee. As they saw the hated enemy lying defeated, each raised his eyepiece and barked out, “The Doctor has been exterminated!” until all the mad crowing rose to an hysterical cacophony.
Once the body was laid in the freezer, the Command Dalek established communication with Sector Control. The Black Dalek commanding the sector came on screen. Once he heard the news, his voice rose in excitement and he declared, “The Emperor must be informed!”
“Affirmative,” said the Command Dalek. “I will bring the TARDIS and the body to Sector Control and thence to Central Command on Skaro.”
“Negative,” said the Black Dalek. “I will come to you. I will collect the body and the TARDIS and take them to Central Command.”
This hit the Command Dalek like a blast in the eyepiece. He knew at once what it meant. The Black Dalek was going to take all the credit. The Black Dalek would steal his glory. It would be his ticket into the Elite. The Command Dalek hesitated. He daren’t question the Black Dalek’s decision. He was, after all, the Dalek Supreme. In this puny little sector, anyway.
“I command the sector,” said the Black Dalek. “I put you in charge. It was my recommendation. You have done well. My judgement has been sound. My leadership has led us to the final and complete triumph over our greatest foe. I will leave at once. Have everything ready to be loaded onto my ship.”
“I obey,” said the Command Dalek. What else could he say? The screen went blank and he turned away despondently. Central Command would care nothing for what he had done. The Black Dalek would claim the glory and so the glory would be his. “But still,” he thought to himself, “this guarantees my promotion to Black Dalek.” Yes, yes, that was the main thing. He must make sure the Sector Commander was completely satisfied. That would make it doubly certain.
It would take nearly three days for the Black Dalek to arrive. The Command Dalek told the captain there’d been a change of plans and ordered him and his ship back into orbit. The captain had the sense to obey without comment.
As he watched the ship lift off, the Command Dalek thought more of the glory that should have been his as the Dalek who had destroyed the Doctor. How great that glory was and how puny being promoted to Black Dalek seemed next to it. That glory could have propelled him into the ranks of the Elite, or at least to becoming one of their acolytes. And now all that he had was promotion to Black Dalek. Only that. He growled inside his shell.
Comms buzzed. It was the Slave Overseer. Wanting to see the body no doubt. Rage welled up within the Command Dalek and before the Overseer could speak, the Command Dalek had told him, in harsh, aggressive terms, that he didn’t wish to be disturbed.
Resentment festered within him for the next two days. Alone in his Command Centre, he could settle to nothing. He took his anger out on anyone who contacted him. As the third morning dawned, and the Black Dalek was half a day away, he was still brooding. There was no doubt that those fools should have captured the Doctor and waited until he arrived to take charge. Then he, the Command Dalek, would have exterminated their deadliest foe. That might have helped him secure his rightful reward. Now the Black Dalek would have everything. It was all the fault of that stupid Dalek. He would order him exterminated.
Then comms buzzed again. It was the Overseer. Tentatively, he asked, “Have you read my report?”
The Command Dalek recalled the report he had been about to read when the news about the Doctor had arrived.
“It is on my list for today. Tell me its contents.”
“We established a new camp in Site B, near some vegetation growing on rocky ground, unsuitable for cultivation. We therefore left the plants intact. They grew next to one of the slaves’ huts. We discovered that the plant produced pods. In these pods grew clones of four slaves that slept nearest the wall of the hut. The clones were fully formed when we found them. They walk and talk and behave like the slaves they copied. We now have four sets of twins. The only difference is that the clones lack emotion.”
A cold dread seeped down the slimy body of the Command Dalek.
“Have you undertaken a DNA test of the clones?” he asked.
“Affirmative. Their DNA is that of the plant.” He paused, then added cautiously, “I thought it advisable… to check the area in which the Doctor was exterminated.”
The Command Dalek’s heart was pounding. Keeping his voice calm, he said, “And?”
“The plant exists there.”
Urgently, the Command Dalek said, “Have you shared this information? Who else knows?”
“No one. I acted alone. I am loyal to you.”
The Command Dalek said, “You have acted correctly. This information must remain highly classified. It must - ”
“Wait. There is more.” The Overseer’s tone suggested it wasn’t good news. “Analysis of the DNA indicates that the copy can maintain integrity only if the oxygen content of the air remains exact. I ordered one of the clones put in a chamber in which we lowered the oxygen content. The clone decayed to a formless mass after four hours.”
“So removing it from the planet’s atmosphere into the atmosphere of one of our ships would cause it to rot?”
“Why have you waited till now to tell me?” thundered the Command Dalek.
“I tried. You ordered me not to contact you. I waited for you to read my report. But I could wait no longer.”
Failure to read the report would damn him if nothing else would. Add to it this potential catastrophe if the Doctor’s body was a clone. But wait, wait... the TARDIS wouldn’t have been cloned! It must be the real Doctor!
Quickly, the Command Dalek said, “Does the plant clone inanimate objects?”
The Command Dalek’s heart leaped. It might be all right after all. But he had to be sure.
“Initiate a total suppression of this information. Then travel here at once. Only you. And bring your analysing equipment.”
The Command Dalek hurried to the holding bay where the TARDIS was kept. He had never seen the TARDIS before recent events, but he knew it was indestructible and impregnable, so no attempt had been made to enter it. He was about to blast the doors to see what happened, when he suddenly realised he had to be more subtle. No one must know what he was doing. He went to the rear of the TARDIS and targeted a small area. If it was genuine, no harm would come, but if it was a clone, his blast would be just strong enough to scorch anything plant-based. A tiny beam shot from his gun and hit an inch-square portion of the TARDIS. He moved in and studied it closely. There was a small scorch mark.
He rolled back and his eyepiece drooped. A strange, metallic sound could be heard as he began panting inside his casing. He had lost everything. This meant disgrace and death. He tried to clear his mind. How could this plant have copied something that wasn’t alive? Something totally impregnable? But never mind that now. This was about survival. He had to think hard. He had to find a way out. It would take an hour for the Overseer to arrive and undertake the tests that would prove the Doctor’s body was a clone. What if the Black Dalek was early? Something had to be done at once.
He rushed back to his Command Centre and contacted the Security Chief. “The Dalek that exterminated the Doctor. Send him here at once. Immediately!”
One bit of good news. The Security Chief said that the body of the Doctor’s companion had not yet been processed for food, but had been frozen until further corpses were ready. The Command Dalek ordered her body vaporised at once.
“The TARDIS is to be transported to Sector Control,” he said. “Strictest quarantine must be observed. Send a team to wrap it in an airtight seal. At once! Immediately! It must be completed before the Dalek Supreme arrives!”
Then a thought struck him. Dismissing the Security Chief, he next contacted the Black Dalek, the Dalek Supreme himself.
“Why have you contacted me? I will be there soon.”
“Tests indicate many pathogens on the surface of the TARDIS. We need time to analyse them. Several days.”
“Negative!” snapped the Black Dalek. “Enclose the TARDIS in an airtight seal. There must be no delay.”
“I obey,” said the Command Dalek. Now he had a log of the instruction to seal the TARDIS. This being a foreign world, the Overseer was bound to find pathogens on it. Any future investigation would therefore find evidence exonerating him.
The Overseer arrived and undertook the necessary tests. They confirmed that the TARDIS was a fake. He turned and looked at the Command Dalek, speechless. He understood all too well the horror of the situation, not just for the Command Dalek, but for himself also. As he tested for pathogens, he too began thinking hard for a way out.
“This plant,” he said, “could bring us unlimited slaves. It would greatly reduce costs and improve efficiency. It is a major discovery.”
“So it would be,” said the Command Dalek, “if we had not reported the death of the Doctor and if the Dalek Supreme was not on his way to pick up the body.”
The use of the plural pronoun was not lost on the Overseer. Nor was the price of humiliating the Dalek Supreme.
Pushing home his intention to spread the blame, the Command Dalek said, “The first question is why it took you so long to discover this plant.”
“There could be no way of — ”
“Silence! I will protect you. But I can do so only if all knowledge of this plant is suppressed.”
After the stick, the carrot: “I expect promotion. Those who have been loyal to me will rise with me. You will be first among them.”
“I obey,” said the Overseer.
“If the plant can reproduce the TARDIS,” said the Command Dalek, “it can reproduce us, including our armour. I am declaring it a toxic weed. It is to be eradicated.”
“It will be done at once. But what,” said the Overseer, “of the real Doctor? Should we not search for him? He could destroy everything we have built.”
The Command Dalek hadn’t thought of this. But it should have occurred to him at once. A renewed feeling of desperation surged through him. He tried to clear his mind again. Then he said, “The plant copies without harming its victim. The Doctor therefore survived. But he would not allow the clone to exist. He would destroy it. Therefore, he left this planet before he became aware of the clone.”
“That would be true if the clones were here before we arrived. But what if they have only just been created? The Doctor would then have landed here during our operations. He could be interfering with our work even now.”
“But there is no interference,” said the Command Dalek. “Therefore, he is not here.”
The Overseer made no reply, which the Command Dalek took as agreement. Moments later, as the Overseer left, the stupid Dalek, that thought he had exterminated the Doctor, arrived.
“The Sector Commander is coming to take the Doctor’s body,” said the Command Dalek. “He has claimed the glory as his own, which is right and fitting. But you are to travel with him. It is a great honour. Until he comes, you will wait outside my Command Centre.”
The Dalek’s eyepiece jerked up and down several times, a sign of the excitement within. “I obey!” he shrilled.
The Command Dalek watched him go. Now the link was directly from that fool to the Black Dalek, with he, the Command Dalek, neatly excised from the situation.
A little later, four Daleks arrived with the Security Chief to wrap the TARDIS in an airtight seal. This would keep the oxygen level infused in its structure stable until it was unsealed. If the Security Chief noticed the Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor, he made no sign of doing so. He was in no hurry to have him back.
Then the Command Dalek ordered them to destroy all traces of the plant identified by the Overseer as dangerous to the workforce. He didn’t tell them what the real danger was. Only he and the Overseer knew the truth.
“Understand,” said the Command Dalek, “Not a single leaf must be left, not a root nor a rhizome. It must be eradicated and urgently. Urgently!!”
“We obey!” came the joint response. Then the Security Chief said, “I will analyse the plant and its reproductive system to ensure total extermination.”
This would bring the Security Chief dangerously near to discovering the truth. Quickly, the Command Dalek said, “Negative. Begin extermination at once, then poison the ground it had been growing in.”
They left to begin their task. The Command Dalek tried to think of anything else it would be necessary to put in place before the Black Dalek arrived. His blunder regarding the identity of the body had been covered up. The Overseer had been promised a reward for loyalty. Security were on their way to destroy the plant. And the Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor was taken care of, and would be shipped off with the fake body.
So, once Central Command had realised that someone had blundered and had blamed and exterminated the Black Dalek and the Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor, what then? It would want to know how a copy of the Doctor had been made. The Command Dalek began to regret his triumphant message to the orbiting ships and the parading of the body. That proved he had been fooled too. He couldn’t escape some degree of blame. Even if he wasn’t executed, it would destroy his chances of promotion. Unless he could turn it to his advantage. But how?
His own stupidity hit him like a brick. The Overseer had given him the answer. Hurriedly, he contacted the Security Chief.
“I have decided not to destroy the plant entirely. Eliminate it in all areas where there are slaves, but preserve it in remote areas. It should be studied. It may be that it will have properties useful to the Daleks.”
“I obey,” replied the Chief.
The Command Dalek began to realise what a valuable asset he had found. This plant produced pods that grew into copies of humanoids. They could use it to seed alien planets and replace the populations. It would be a resource-friendly means of invasion. But there would need to be some genetic manipulation so that the clones could survive in an alien atmosphere. And they would have to destroy the humanoids they replaced. He would draw up a plan and present it to Central Command… at the same time that he exposed the Black Dalek’s blunder! Yes! Yes! Exposing it would separate him from it. And the discovery by him of such a valuable asset as the plant would doubly ensure his survival — and probably land him his promotion after all!
He returned to his command centre, ignoring the Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor, and waited nervously for the arrival of the Black Dalek. The time dragged, but at last he was notified that the Sector Commander’s ship was beginning its descent. He went out to the landing zone, ready to greet his superior. As the saucer appeared through the clouds, he was surprised to see two shuttles closing in, from from the east and one from the south. They landed within a minute of each other. From one came the Overseer and from the other, the Security Chief.
“I did not order your presence,” barked the Command Dalek.
The Sector Commander ordered us to be here,” said the Chief.
The Command Dalek swivelled his eyepiece upwards as the saucer slowed and blasts of energy cushioned its landing. Why had the Black Dalek ordered them here? It must be to assist in the transfer of the body. There could be no other reason. Could there?
The saucer landed and the ramp extended. Then nothing. No one appeared. Tension rose in each of the waiting Daleks. The Command Dalek tried to maintain an attitude of calm, but inside his shell he was trembling.
Then four Daleks appeared, the Black Dalek’s guards. Down they came, peeling off, two to either side, to await their master.
Then another wait. The guards were looking all around, checking everything, scrutinising every Dalek. If the Command Dalek had had fingernails, he would have started biting them.
And then, with all the self-importance expected of a bigwig member of the Master Race, the Black Dalek appeared. He moved slowly, exuding power and authority, gliding down the ramp, knowing that all eyepieces were fixed on him.
The Black Dalek stopped at the base of the ramp and waited. The Command Dalek moved forward. He had to approach his superior, not the other way around.
“I have the body of the Doctor and the TARDIS ready, as ordered.” His voice croaked.
“Satisfactory,” said the Black Dalek. “I will view the body. Take me to it.”
The Command Dalek turned, glancing at the Overseer and the Security Chief. Neither moved. He led the Black Dalek and the four guards to an oblong box, a sophisticated freezer, that held the body of the fake Doctor. The flick of a switch and the lid opened, breathing out icy vapours into the air.
The Black Dalek stopped beside the freezer. His eyepiece swivelled downwards and swept up and down the body. The Command Dalek waited. Still, the Black Dalek studied the body. The Command Dalek was unnerved to find the guards staring at him. He glanced over to where the Security Chief and the Overseer were waiting. They were focused on the Black Dalek.
At last, the Black Dalek said, “So this is our deadliest enemy, defeated at last.” He looked up at the Command Dalek. “Has his identity been verified?”
“It is the Doctor,” said the Command Dalek.
The Black Dalek looked again at the body. “By our reckoning, this is the Doctor after four regenerations. But we have encountered him after eight, nine, even ten regenerations. How, then, can he be dead?”
“I have been puzzling that myself,” lied the Command Dalek. He hadn’t thought of this. He began to feel panic rising within him.
But then the Black Dalek said, “The mysteries of time travel are precisely that — mysteries. The Science Council has still to unravel them all.”
Inside his shell, the Command Dalek breathed a sigh of relief.
While looking down again at the body, the Black Dalek said, “You recall that your mission here requires you to demonstrate organisational efficiency?” His eyepiece darted up and stared at the Command Dalek.
“Yes,” said the Command Dalek. He would have smiled if he could. He felt a compliment coming.”
“Then you have conducted a DNA test?” The Black Dalek held him in a fixed stare.
“Negative,” faltered the Command Dalek. “The presence of the TARDIS, along with a human companion, and the positive identification of the Doctor...”
“Circumstantial,” said the Black Dalek. “Are you saying you have not conducted a DNA test?”
“Negative,” said the Command Dalek slowly.
“Organisational efficiency,” said the Black Dalek, “means that I have not yet informed Skaro of this development. To do so would risk wasting resources. For example, my journey here would be criminally wasteful if this should turn out not to be the Doctor. Therefore, you are saying you summoned me before being completely sure about the identity of this body?”
The Command Dalek was about to retort that he hadn’t summoned him at all, but bit his tongue and said, “Negative. I was sure. I am sure.”
The Black Dalek made no reply. His eyepiece swivelled elsewhere and he barked out, “Approach!”
The Command Dalek looked and saw that the Overseer had been ordered forward.
“Repeat your information,” ordered the Black Dalek.
“The Doctor has not been exterminated,” said the Overseer in a shrill tone. “This body is a clone, produced by a species unique to this planet.”
The Black Dalek stared again at the Command Dalek. The Command Dalek inched backwards. Inside his metal shell, he suddenly felt he was suffocating.
“You were wise to inform me at once,” said the Black Dalek.
For a moment, still under that baleful stare, the Command Dalek thought his superior was talking to him. He felt confused. Then he realised the Black Dalek was talking to the Overseer.
“Had you waited, I would have conducted tests of my own,” said the Black Dalek to the Overseer. “I am not a fool. Everything would have been thoroughly investigated. Then you would have died too, because I would have found out that you knew the truth. But because you came to me first, your loyalty will be rewarded.”
The Command Dalek’s eyepiece, his arm and his gun all drooped. So he would die now. He thought briefly of trying to justify himself, but then his pride kicked in. He was a soldier. He had always fought bravely. Ambition had softened him for a while. But no longer. His eyepiece rose. His arm rose. Only his gun stayed down.
“I am ready,” he said.
“Open your casing and come out,” said the Black Dalek. “There is no need to waste resources.”
So his casing would be given to a newly-formed Dalek. But to die outside it was the ultimate humiliation. It meant complete disgrace. It was a calculated insult, a slur on his glorious reputation. Now his anger rose.
“This is unjust. I have been a loyal servant of the empire. I deserve to die in my armour!”
The Black Dalek’s harsh voice bellowed, “Had you owned up to your blunder, you would die in your armour. But you sought to deceive me. Open your casing and come out!”
The Overseer slid back nervously. The guards were focused and alert. The Command Dalek saw it and he knew what he had to do. He raised his gun and targeted the Black Dalek.
And was instantly exterminated as all four guards blasted him to atoms, leaving only the base of his casing spewing black, acrid smoke. But he had died in his armour.
The Black Dalek called over the Security Chief. “Your position will be reviewed. It will help your situation if you obey my orders with speed and efficiency. Initiate a planet-wide search for the Doctor and the TARDIS. I will command the orbiting spacecraft to assist you. I will remain here until it is established that the Doctor is not on the planet. If he is discovered, I will direct operations against him. And this time, he WILL be exterminated.”
“I obey!” croaked the Security Chief and left in a sweat.
To the Overseer, the Black Dalek said, “Analyse the clones and the plant. Comprehensive information is required. By utilising the DNA of this plant, we may be able to produce a limitless supply of slaves, as and when needed. This will enable us to exterminate the slave colonies we have now, freeing resources for further conquests.”
“If the Doctor is not found, or if he is exterminated, your loyalty to me will be rewarded. You will be promoted to Command Dalek here. Your first task will be a report on the Security Chief. You will recommend he be retained, demoted or exterminated. Your report will be based on an objective assessment of his ability and performance.”
The Overseer felt the glow that comes with power over life and death. Smartly, he replied, “I obey!” And a thrill went through him as he gloated on the success of his scheme to replace his immediate superior. He thought to himself, “Now I will be called Supreme Dalek!” He had the fake Doctor’s body loaded onto his shuttle and jetted off at once to undertake his orders.
The Black Dalek returned to his ship, brooding on how he could turn all this to his advantage. There was no limit on numbers in the Elite. A Black Dalek had only to demonstrate an extraordinary aptitude or achievement. He had hoped killing the Doctor would be his ticket in. He was aware of three competitors who had combined in a plot to exterminate the Doctor, a move that would propel them into the Elite — and keep him out. They had developed a weapon that, if it didn’t destroy the Doctor, would leave him but a shadow of his former self. They would seed the space-time continuum with this weapon and it would strike the Doctor the moment the TARDIS entered the continuum. The weapon was called the Catastrophic-Harm-Inflicting-Basic-Nature-Annihilating-Life-Limiter. It was always referred to as this because the Daleks didn’t use acronyms.
But here was a plant that could help him steal a march on them. Daleks were masters of genetic manipulation. He was positive they could resequence its DNA so that it could live in any atmosphere, and enable it to destroy the humanoid it cloned, leaving the clone to take its place. In this way, the clones could silently replace a host population and so enable a Dalek invasion with minimum use of resources. It would be the gain of an entire planet, filled with willing slaves, at hardly any cost. He already had in mind the first target: Earth. Find a small town, leave a few pods, and in no time the inhabitants would be replaced. Then it would spread from there.
Lost in ambition, he paid no attention to the Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor. He was still in position outside the Command Dalek’s headquarters. The Black Dalek had thought he was on guard duty. The Security Chief and the Overseer had forgotten all about him. He had watched the Command Dalek being exterminated. He couldn’t think why such an action had been needed. But it obviously didn’t concern him, which was the main thing. The Black Dalek knew what he was doing and, as the Security Chief had barked at him, superiors were never to be questioned. They had taken the Doctor’s body away and no doubt the Black Dalek was awaiting its return. That’s why he hadn’t taken off yet.
Night fell. The next day passed with no one appearing from the saucer. Another night. Then early the next morning, the Black Dalek’s saucer took off.
The Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor sped forward. He was about to shout, “Wait for me!” But he didn’t. He was too lowly. They must have loaded the body while he was dormant. His eyepiece tracked the saucer until it disappeared from sight. He stood for a moment, uncertain what to do. Then he moved back into place and waited.
The Overseer was now the Command Dalek. He concluded in his report that the Security Chief should have advised the then Command Dalek that a curious plant had been discovered and so the Doctor’s DNA should have been checked. He recommended extermination. The Black Dalek sent back his acceptance of the recommendation. The Overseer made sure the Chief came out of his armour before he exterminated him. He promoted one of the security team to the post of Security Chief. The new Chief never gave a thought to the Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor. The Command Dalek had forgotten he existed and, because he made his base in Sector B, no one ever had cause to return to the old HQ. The Dalek that thought he had exterminated the Doctor was left there, standing outside the now disused command centre.