On the planet Tegrak, strange things were occuring.

The world was a dusty, densely populated planet, bustling with life.

Actually, saying the world was dusty was an understatement. Huge dust storms were raging, dozens of miles wide, leaving devastation in their wakes. Ripping mountains apart, drying rivers, collapsing trees. Enormous drifts of dust were beginning to cover the ground. These events had begun a year ago.

However, with the start of building work on a new wonder of the world, this was the last thing on the people’s minds. A titanically high city, built into the rock of Mount Keledon, including thousands of buildings, and shielded from the dust storms inside an electromagnetic force field. At the time of completion, the whole population was to migrate to the megacity, and then the monument was to take off into space, leaving Tegrak to be destroyed by the dust devils.

The people of Tegrak imagined that the city was to be their saviour.

How wrong they were.


***


VWORP! VWORP! Slowly the TARDIS crashed into reality.

On top of a piece of scaffolding.

Watching the time machine appear was a small blue alien, with an enormous head and stumpy limbs growing from it. It possessed large brown eyes and a comically soulful expression on its mouth. Its name was Tob.

As the TARDIS materialised, Tob squealed and was about to run away when the Doctor and Rose simultaneously disembarked from the craft.

The Doctor opened his mouth to talk but saw the cowering creature. ‘Oh. Hello!’ he said cheerfully.

Tob squeaked in alarm as the Doctor came closer. He patted the alien’s head. It ran off.

‘Why is it,’ the Doctor said, ‘that every time I try to be friendly, people just throw it back in my face?’

‘I dunno,’ replied Rose, smiling. ‘Your smell, or your clothes, or something? Where are we?’

‘Tegrak, Tegrak Beta to be precise, fourth planet of the Furguson system, now owned by the Scarlet Junction, officialy allied to the Rakka Rakka Hypermarket branch and sponsored by the Great Grey Gorilla of Santrakaloon Five,’ the Doctor answered, pacing down the walkway that Tob had left by.

‘What’s happened to the planet?’ Rose inquired anxiously. Beyond a thin layer of ropes, poles, ladders and walkways, she could see an almighty dust storm raging. Plumes of the stuff rose like endless waves above the scaffolding, looming imposingly over the entire construction. But whenever some dust came within a few yards of the scaffolding, there was a flash of purple radiance and the dust bounced back off thin air.

‘I have no idea,’ the Doctor answered grimly, observing the flailing clouds from the walkway. He produced the sonic screwdriver and shone it in several directions. Whenever its blue light fell upon a point a few yards away, the air would glow fiercely purple.

‘Electromagnetic force field,’ the Doctor said, slightly relieved. ‘We’re safe behind it.’

‘So, what’s the story?’ inquired Rose, skipping down the walkway to join the Doctor.

‘Let’s find out,’ he replied.





Some time later, the pair arrived at a pub. It was a clinical, modern place, with white steel walls and a streamlined feel.

‘It’s strange,’ Rose said as they entered the pub. ‘Because I always expect pubs to be all shabby and stale with flaky wooden tables and spilt beer and things. But this looks like... I dunno... Bentalls or something.’

‘Nice description,’ the Doctor commented, as they sat down on a long metal bench, next to a clump of writhing tentacles and what looked like an elongated potato. ‘Shame about the end.’

A small white robot glided forward. Its speaker-grille mouth glittered red as it asked, ‘Drinks?’

‘Er... No thanks,’ replied the Doctor.

The robot’s head swung gently at Rose. When it saw that she wasn’t concentrating, it pointedly said, ‘Miss Rose Tyler?’

Rose started. ‘How do you know my name?’

‘My controllers have your bio-data. Drinks?’

‘What do you have?’ Rose asked, tentatively.

The robot’s hand snapped upwards. On it glowed a menu.

‘I think I’ll have a Tegraglossian Blasterwine, thanks,’ Rose replied. The robot hurried off.

‘Oh no,’ the Doctor moaned. ‘You chose the seventy-third worst drink in the universe!’

Rose glared at him. ‘Robots who know my name, freaky aliens all around us, a dust storm destroying everything on the planet, and you’re saying I chose a bad wine?’

‘Sorry.’ The Doctor shifted and leaned in closer to her. ‘Don’t say the word F-R-E-A-K-Y.’

‘Why not?’ Rose hissed.

‘In Tegrakian, that word means something very naughty.’

‘Point taken,’ Rose said, leaning back from the Doctor. ‘But what I want to know is, how do those robots know my name?’

‘It said, “My controllers have your bio-data.” ‘

‘And who are their controllers?’ wondered Rose.

A robot tramped over to them. ‘Your drink,’ it intoned. The metallic creature placed a large frothing glass on the table. It was an odd shade of red.

‘Yeah, thanks,’ Rose replied, glancing with distaste at the Tegraglossian Blasterwine. ‘We were wondering who your controllers were.’

‘The name is forbidden.’

‘Oh come on,’ urged the Doctor. ‘Live a little!’ Rose smiled at this repetition of one of his favourite phrases.

‘The name is forbidden, Doctor Storm.’

‘Just Doctor, thanks,’ responded the Doctor irritatedly. If only he had looked at that sentence a little closer, thngs would have been so simple...

The robot trundled off. The Doctor raised an eyebrow. ‘They have my bio-data too...’ he realised.

‘Then we’ve met them before...’ Rose said ominously.

‘Not necessarily,’ the Doctor disagreed. ‘They could have found it out while we were travelling. But most likely...’

He looked grim.

‘Yes we have.’





Burning, endless burning. Saucers, ships and stations everywhere. All on fire. Banks of flames thousands of miles wide. And yet, the constant exchange of missiles. Warheads, plumes and streams of light, zapping and flowing between one craft and another. The void of space was consumed with screaming, explosions and the flickering of fire.

Great hatchways opened and millions of warriors streamed out. In the centre of the void, the shouts and gunfire of intense battle reverberated. Ships zoomed crazily through the tumult, still firing. The sound of thousands of ray guns echoed in the nothingness. Bolts of static hissed and buzzed. Blades of energy bit into flesh and the metal of spaceships. Glowing missiles consumed planet after planet after planet, turning to dust. Consumed by the darkness.

Instantly everything was lost in a ferocious, corroding light, the light of a huge wave of energy. Sizzling everything. It slammed into the heads of every warrior, punctured the hull of every spaceship. It seemed that the screams would never end, soldiers tumbling into the void, a continuous flow of bodies. All screaming. Ships turned to dust. Total inferno. Neverending fire.





Shaking off such grim thoughts for the present, the Doctor got up and crossed over to the bunch of tentacles and the potato. ‘This may sound really dumb, but where am I?’ he asked.

The tentacles peeled back, to reveal a wide mouth containing no tongue or teeth. It spoke, and as it did its mouth moved up and down in a rythm that looked completely out of sync with the words it was uttering. ‘You are correct.’ It had a strangely Italian accent.

‘What does that mean?’ the Doctor said, slightly taken aback.

This time the potato spoke. There was no mouth or movement, even. A deep, chocolatey voice emanated from the general direction of the alien. ‘That does sound really dumb.’ This was followed by a rasping, rustling noise which could have been the vegetable’s attempt at a laugh.

‘Seriously, though,’ Rose put in. ‘Where is this? And who are you?’

The clump of tentacles replied. ‘I am Idgland. And this is Gevevine.’ A tentacle slithered over and touched the potato. ‘We are on the planet Tegrak Beta of the Furguson System, inside the construction of the Karazt City on Mount Keledon.’

‘Karazt?’ Rose inquired. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end at this mention of her old enemy. Karazt had been a demon from another dimension who had attempted to invade Earth, but who had been killed upon the arrival of a second war force, the Cybermen.

Karazt could be the old enemy who was controlling the robots...

Rose instantly shoved the notion to the back of her mind. Karazt had died, she was certain of it. Something else was behind the robots.

‘Yes, Karazt,’ Idgland responded, dragging Rose back to the present. ‘It was the name of the leader of an attempted invasion of the planet Earth, about ten thousand years ago. I don’t know why it’s called that. It just is.’

‘Anyway,’ continued the Doctor, who didn’t seem to have been at all shocked at the Karazt reference. ‘Do you know why the city is being built?’

‘Yes, of course,’ Gevevine confirmed. ‘You know the dust storms?’

‘Yeah...’ the Doctor answered.

‘They are destroying the planet. As you probably saw. But, at the time of completion, the entire population is to gather inside the city, shielded by an electromagnetic force field. Then, drawing on the reserves of energy contained in the power source below Mount Keledon’s crater, the city will rip off the planet and will fly to a new home.’

‘I hope the Great Grey Gorilla of Santrakaloon Five withdraws his sponsorship soon,’ said Rose.

‘He has,’ said Idgland.





In the great wave of light, all the warriors in the war were swept into infinity. But one ship was lucky.

Amidst the inferno floated a snake. A metal snake, with eyes of ruby, scales of platinum and a tongue of gold. It coiled and slithered in the emptiness of space, not yet affected by the blinding fires of conflict. A golden, ravaged saucer tumbled towards the snake. But a plume of fierce energy dissolved it as it flew. Screaming, its pilots spiralled into the void. But they collided with the snake.

The snake suddenly realised the danger of the oncoming energy wave. SLAM! An electromagnetic force field clanged into reality. The strongest force field in the universe. The light wave streamed into it. Silver sparks shattered the edges of the force field. Beams of power bounced harmlessly back into the blackness. The field glowed purple.

Both the snake and the group of soldiers were unharmed.
A booming, endlessly echoing voice smashed space apart. ‘I MUST FEEEEEEEEED! I MUST FEEEEEEEEED! FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!’ It came from the snake.

The snake and the warriors zapped through the emptiness, spinning uncontrollably.

Destination — Tegrak Beta...





‘So,’ the Doctor went on, leaning forward. ‘What’s this power source, then?’

‘I don’t know,’ Gevevine replied. ‘No one does. It’s buried under the mountain’s crater, that’s all I’ve learnt. And that it’s supposed to somehow blast the city into space.’

‘Don’t you think it’s a bit suspicious?’ Rose asked.

‘In what way?’ Idgland turned to her.

‘Well, that everyone is meant to gather together in one place,’ Rose said. ‘If, say, a missile hit the city, then WOOMPH! Everyone goes up in flame.’

‘Someone might be planning this...’ the Doctor wondered.

‘Good query. You should ask the authorities about that,’ suggested Idgland.

The Doctor finally stirred. This was more like what he wanted to hear. ‘And who are “The authorities”?’ he questioned.

Idgland and Gevevine exchanged a glance. Neither of them possessed eyes, but that feeling was given off. ‘By the great god Sungrosimmic, I don’t actually know!’ exclaimed Gevevine. ‘They only send us a message saying if anyone has an inquiry, they should go to the CC, on top of the city, near the crater.’

‘This CC sounds suspiciously like Control Centre,’ the Doctor said ominously.

‘Then the controllers of the robots could be there!’ Rose realised.

‘I wonder...’ said the Doctor.




The snake and the soldiers smashed through the darkness towards the planet Tegrak Beta.

Then the force field beeped. A strange burbling report echoed in the soldiers’ minds. Nothing could be understood. However the flashing, beeping red lights on the snake’s platinum head indicated emergency.

Suddenly the force field ran out of energy. The snake’s cries of ‘I MUST FEEEEEEEED!’ transformed into, ‘CRASH LANDING IMMINENT! ALERT!’

Then, abruptly, the group of strange objects hit the atmosphere of Tegrak. They were falling, through clouds, now the ground was whistling up to meet them, sickeningly fast. The aerial view of the landscape tilted alarmingly, three hundred and sixty degrees. Then everything was a spinning blur, a mountain... an empty plain... buildings...

CRASH!

The snake and the soldiers buried themselves in the ground, falling endlessly into the crater of Mount Keledon, hundreds and hundreds of miles down into the earth, until they hit hard rock. And halted.

But one soldier was not deposited in the crater. It landed some miles away from Keledon, in the centre of the empty plain.

It flew into the clouds, waiting for the appointed time.

For on the journey, the snake had told them its plan and included them in it.

It was about a year until the universe would fall.

The Eon Eater had come.





‘Well, you know what?’ Rose suddenly stated.

‘Yes, I know him very well,’ responded the Doctor.

‘Don’t be stupid,’ Rose said, half laughing and half moaning. ‘I feel like we should make an inquiry, we don’t know enough.’

‘Good idea actually,’ commented Idgland. ‘I had a good friend, Laglag, who did the same. I’d be interested to find out where he went.’

‘He never came back?’ the Doctor said, his face lighting up.

‘No... I suppose not,’ Idgland confirmed.

‘Fantastic,’ the Doctor grinned. And he ran towards the exit, followed by Rose, Idgland and Gevevine. Both aliens floated in the air to move.

‘Excuse me...’ Idgland said, pushing out of the door, ‘should I take that comment as a personal offence, a sarcastic thought or evidence of a lunatic?’

‘None of them,’ the Doctor replied. ‘Come on!’

They ran and glided endlessly up the spirals of half-constructed balconies, up, up, up towards the Control Centre, and the crater.





In the end they found that they could never hope to climb up the whole mountain without assistance. But they discovered a lift system, and, armed with this speed boost, they procceeded to the crater.

Finally, and majestically, the Control Centre rose up in front of them, glittering in the reddish light of three suns setting and twelve moons rising. It was a sort of T-shape whose “stem” ended in a semicircular glass dome, which looked very modern compared to the rusting steel of the T. A door could be seen in the left side of the stem of the T. A tower rose up from a point roughly halfway along the stem. Balconies and spaceship hangars jutted out from the eaves. Satellite dishes, transmitters and control rods pointed from the rooves. All around the Control Centre hovered spaceships of various shapes, colours and sizes.

‘Well, there you go,’ Gevevine sighed. ‘Now try and get inside it...’





The Doctor, Rose, Idgland and Gevevine came to the small pair of automatic doors. A padlock was on them. As soon as they automatically began to open, the padlock chain stretched taut. The doors would open a sliver, then close again.

‘I told you,’ Gevevine said.

‘Oh, the Doctor’s very good at locks,’ Rose smiled. Sharing the smile, the Doctor stepped forward confidently, with the sonic screwdriver in hand. However, when the light shone over the lock, there were no sparks or explosions. The rays were repelled, and hit the Doctor harmlessly. The lock glowed slightly purple.

‘Oh, that’s a new one,’ groaned the Doctor. ‘Putting up an electromagnetic force field around a padlock?!’

‘Hang on,’ Idgland said. The alien glided forward. The doors opened a crack, then were halted by the padlock. However Idgland’s malleable body adapted to this, forming a talll, incredibly thin sausage shape. In this form, the alien was able to squeeze into the crack and out the other side.

There were two human guards on duty, holding plasma guns. Before they could open fire on the intruder, Idgland’s tentacles peeled back to reveal its mouth. Two jets of concentrated acid squirted out and connected with the guards’ faces. They turned limp and collapsed, unconscious. A key tumbled sideways out of one of their pockets. It hit the floor, clanging.

‘Haha!’ Idgland exclaimed. The alien threw the key into the crack in the auto-doors.

The Doctor caught and and called, ’Thanks!’ He then fed the key into the padlock. For a moment the electromagnetic force field resisted. Then it gave way. It had been programmed to respond to this object.

The lock clicked. The Doctor pulled out the chain from both sides of the padlock. The lock fell to the ground. Rose helped the Doctor to pull the chain out. The auto-doors slid open.

They entered.

‘Very posh,’ Gevevine remarked, observing their surroundings. Everything was made of smooth, sleek steel and smoked glass. To their left, the corridor stretched down into the semicircular glass dome. To their right, the corridor went on for a while then split into two corridors. There was no sign of the entrance to the tower that they had spotted earlier.

Meanwhile the Doctor was examining the two unconscious guards. ‘How long will they be out for?’ he asked Idgland.

‘About two weeks,’ Idgland answered absently.

The Doctor cursed. ‘We need them now!’ he told himself. ‘Is there a seperate room? Yes!’

There was a door on the other side of the corridor. The Doctor opened it. It was a lavatory. Rose, Idgland and Gevevine burst out laughing.

‘Oh well, better than nothing,’ the Doctor muttered. He dragged the two guards into the small closet and examined them. One was young and looked slightly bewildered and comical. He had a small, well-formed nose, hazel eyes and spiky light brown hair. He was of a muscular build. The other was in his mid-forties, had a grizzled look and greying hair. They were both wearing dark red uniforms and hobnailed boots.

Gently, he shone the sonic screwdriver over them both.

Gasping, they jolted upright at exactly the same time. ‘Blimey, me head!’ rasped the older guard, rubbing it.

‘It’s OK,’ the Doctor reassured. ‘We’re here to help.’ By now, Idgland, Gevevine and Rose had all crowded into the lavatory. ‘What are your names?’

‘General Tugrank,’ the older guard replied.

‘Junior Harley,’ the younger one added.

‘Right,’ the Doctor said. ‘This is Rose Tyler,’ he tapped Rose on the shoulder, ’and this-‘

‘Is Idgland,’ Idgland finished. ‘Masculine.’

‘I’m Gevevine,’ concluded the potato. ‘Feminine.’

Tugrank and Harley nodded.

‘Right, back to the original point,’ continued the Doctor. ‘What are you controlling here, at the CC?’

‘Why should I answer you?’ Tugrank frowned.

Exasperated, the Doctor said, ‘Don’t you ever just want to know what’s going on? To find out everything? Confirm your suspicions? Be active?’

‘Yeah...’ agreed Harley. After a hesitation, Tugrank replied,’I suppose. But how would answering you and betraying the authorities help me do any of that stuff?’

‘You’ll find out...’ the Doctor insisted.

The General breathed heavily. ‘All right. We’ll tell you everything we know.’





Up in the tower, a single being, that had fallen to Tegrak one year ago, a survivor of the greatest war in all time and space, one of the soldiers who had fallen to the planet, which was now wired into machinery, glowing with power, gave a single command which would change the universe.

‘Harness robot energy! Break the seal on Keledon’s crater! Preparation has begun! Victory is approaching! The universe will die!’





In the pub, all the white robots suddenly stopped moving. Drinks fell from their hands. Everything ceased. All the clamour and chat silenced. All attention was fixed on the robots.

Then long volcanic streams of energy hissed out of their bodies, travelling ponderously through the air, all headed for the same place.

The crater.





‘This place is controlling three things,’ Tugrank said. ‘The robots, the power source, and the seal.’

‘Which seal?’ Idgland interrupted.

Harley’s eyes boggled. ‘You haven’t seen the seal?’

‘No...’ Rose replied slowly.

‘Seal in which sense?’ the Doctor asked. ‘The furry creature or the trapdoor sort of thing?’

‘Doctor...’ Rose chided. ‘I think you know!’

‘The trapdoor?’ the Doctor guessed.

Tugrank nodded. ‘Something fell onto the surface of the planet about a year ago. People were scared, because it left a great big hole in the ground, leading to who knows what. So they built a seal, a huge trapdoor, almost indestructible. Blocking out whatever is down there.’

‘You control it?’ Gevevine inquired.

‘Yeah,’ confirmed Harley.

‘Well, what’s the point in that?’ Idgland asked. ‘All you’d ever have to do is maintain it.’

‘We’re not the ones who are controlling it,’ Tugrank reminded them.

‘Who is?’ Rose questioned, leaning forward.

‘The authorities,’ Harley said, shrugging slightly.

‘And who are they?’ demanded the Doctor.

Tugrank and Harley were definitely floundering now. ‘I don’t know!’ cried Harley. ‘How should we know?!’

‘All right,’ said the Doctor. Sensing their exasperation, he changed track. ‘When did you say something fell to earth?’

‘A year ago,’ repeated Tugrank.

Now the Doctor turned to Idgland, in full flow. ‘And when did you say the dust storms started?’

Idgland gasped. ‘A year ago...’

They were slowly but surely making the connection.

‘So, we can safely say that whatever landed here caused the dust storms,’ the Doctor concluded, pacing round the room. ‘Therefore it must be malign. And powerful. So we can also safely say that we do not want the seal to open.’

‘What I don’t understand,’ Gevevine said, ‘is the city. Where does it fit into the picture?’

‘That’s true,’ the Doctor agreed. ‘It doesn’t make sense. Who had the idea of building the city? The thing that landed here? The citizens? Because, if the thing that landed here wanted the dust storms for something — which it probably does, since it caused them — then why hasn’t it taken action against the city being built?’

‘Unless it wanted the city to be built?’ Rose stated another possibility.

‘Now we’re back in business.’ The Doctor grinned. ‘But why does it want the city? Maybe it wants to escape when the city flies away? No, the dust storms don’t fit in then. Unless it wanted to convince the people to build the city by creating the storms? But why would a powerful organism want to hitch a ride with “mere mortals”? And if it needed to escape, why did it head for Tegrak in the first place? It doesn’t make sense!’

But none of the Doctor’s friends were looking at him now. They were gazing out of the window, towards the crater.

He pushed amongst them to have a look. And gasped.

In the centre of the crater, the seal lay. A magnificent circular area of metal, at least thirty feet in diameter. But this was not what made the Doctor gasp. Long lancing lines of energy hissed and crackled towards the seal.

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

One by one the waves of power collided with the seal. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions! An endless river of white light.

The last line hit the seal. Light swirled around the metal trapdoor. Shrinking, pulling everything in, the fabric of reality S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G, being sucked in...

The seal exploded.

Shards of metal span everywhere, biting into air, brick, earth and flesh. Fires raged all around. But over the tumult, multiple voices resounded. Coming closer. Flying from the pit. ‘THE SEAL HAS BROKEN! WE ASCEND!’

The Doctor’s eyes widened with horror.

TO BE CONTINUED...