‘THE FIVE DOCTORS AT CHRISTMAS: THE SEVENTH DOCTOR’S STORY’
By Tim Bradley
Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace
‘The Seventh Doctor’s Story’ is set after ‘The Space Car’.
The TARDIS materialised inside a spaceship. It was in the cargo bay of that spaceship.
The door opened and the Doctor and Ace stepped out. The Doctor had his question mark umbrella whilst Ace carried her rucksack with Nitro-9 on her back.
“Here we are, Ace,” the Doctor said to her. “We’re in a different place for a change…Whoa!”
The Doctor and Ace let out startled gasps as they found themselves floating in the air in the cargo bay. They held onto each other as they floated in the air.
“Whoa, Professor!” Ace exclaimed. “Please tell me you didn’t put anything in that fizzy drink you gave me once we came out here.”
“It’s nothing to do with the drink,” the Doctor said. He knew, because he didn’t have a fizzy drink himself. “We’re in a zero-gravity environment!”
“What?!” Ace asked, perplexed.
“We’re floating without gravity,” the Doctor said, gritting his teeth. “Somebody forgot to switch on the artificial gravity inducers aboard this spaceship.”
“Is that where we are?” Ace asked. “We’re on a spaceship.”
“Of course we are,” the Doctor told her. “Didn’t you notice the bulkheads as we came in as well as the windows showing outer space?”
Ace looked about her. Indeed the Doctor was right. There were windows showing outer space and you could see that the bulkheads above her head had an artificial design to them.
“Wicked!” Ace exclaimed, happily.
“We must be in the cargo bay,” the Doctor remarked. “I wonder what cargo this spaceship’s carrying. Hopefully it’s nothing illegal. Medical supplies I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Yeah,” Ace interrupted his train of thought. “Nice thoughts, Professor. But shouldn’t we be thinking of getting back down on the ground and not floating in the air? How do we sort out this zero-gravity problem we’re having?”
“No need to worry, Ace,” the Doctor told her. “I see the gravity control panel with us. Right next to the cargo bay exit! Just bear with me, Ace. This shouldn’t take long to restore the gravity of this room.”
“Huh,” Ace remarked. “Very conveniently placed that gravity control panel, isn’t it?”
“Just be thankful it’s here with us, Ace,” the Doctor said. “Hold on to me while I get to the control panel.”
Ace held onto the Doctor, as they floated their way over to the control panel in the room on the wall close to the cargo bay exit. They eventually reached the control panel and the Doctor set about to restoring the gravity as he examined the controls.
“Hmm,” the Doctor mumbled to himself. “Density meter here…Plating inducers there…and err…” He laughed at this point. “Of course, the field generator is here.”
“Doctor, come on,” Ace told him. “Hurry up! I want to get back down on the ground now!”
“Ah!” the Doctor exclaimed. “Yes! Here’s the switch! There!”
The Doctor pulled the switch he was looking at and very soon…both he and Ace dropped to the floor with a bump. Ace and the Doctor let out groans of pain, as they struggled to sit up on the floor, feeling disorientated and dizzy.
“Thanks Professor,” Ace said, annoyed. “You could have given me a warning!”
“Sorry Ace,” the Doctor said. “Just be thankful you can walk on the floor and not be floating in the air.”
Eventually, the Doctor got up on his feet. Ace checked to see that her Nitro-9 in her rucksack was unbroken before she too got up onto her feet.
The TARDIS duo went over to inspect the cargo to examine what was inside it. The cargo hadn’t been floating in the air like the Doctor and Ace had been. It had remained on the ground all the time with magnetic clamps attached.
“Fascinating,” the Doctor stated. “I wonder what was inside these cargo containers to prevent them floating in the air. It must be very valuable indeed.”
“Let’s find out, shall we?” Ace suggested.
“No, no, Ace,” the Doctor said. “I don’t want you using that Nitro-9 you’re ‘not’ carrying to blow off the magnetic clamps without knowing what’s inside the containers.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Ace protested. “Besides you’ve got that sonic screwdriver with you, haven’t you? Use it to unlock the magnetic clamps then open the containers.”
The Doctor chuckled at that. “Oh yes, of course. Good thinking, Ace.”
With that, the Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver and placed it over the magnetic clamps to unlock the cargo containers. The sonic screwdriver buzzed away as the Doctor switched it on. Eventually, the magnetic clamps unlocked. The Doctor and Ace took the magnetic clamps off and began to open one of the cargo containers.
“That was easily done,” the Doctor remarked. “Now, let’s see what’s inside.”
What they found inside the cargo container took them completely by surprise. The Doctor looked puzzled whilst Ace was delighted.
“Oh,” the Doctor said. “Not what I was expecting.”
“Pizza!” Ace exclaimed. “These cargo containers have frozen pizzas in them! Yummy!”
Ace began to take one of the frozen pizzas out of the cargo containers, before the Doctor slapped her hand and stopped her taking one.
“Don’t take one, Ace,” the Doctor told her.
“Hey,” Ace said annoyed. “Why not? I’m hungry!”
“You’ve already eaten,” said the Doctor. “And besides these pizzas aren’t for us. They belong to somebody else.”
“Oh come off it, Professor,” Ace said. “There’s nobody about. We haven’t seen any of the crew since we arrived.”
Ace was about to take one of the frozen pizzas before the Doctor slapped her hand again.
“Be that as it may,” the Doctor said. “No!”
The Doctor then spotted a piece of card on top of one of the pizzas inside the cargo container. He picked it up and turned it over to see some writing on it. Both he and Ace read the writing, as it said very clearly in red cheerful letters:
“MERRY CHRISTMAS TO THE CHILDREN OF SNOWTOWN. ENJOY YOUR PIZZA FOR THE DAY!”
At that, the Doctor and Ace realised who the pizzas were for and what ship they were on. They were on a spaceship delivering pizzas for some needy children on a remote planet. Ace realised she couldn’t have one of the pizzas, thinking of the children that needed them.
The question still remained though. Where was the crew of the spaceship? There weren’t any to be seen…
After a while, the Doctor and Ace left the cargo bay and explored the spaceship. They went down a winding corridor, finding it surprisingly quiet. The two felt uneasy as they went.
“Professor,” Ace whispered.
“Yes?” whispered the Doctor.
“Have you noticed? There’s nobody about,” she said. “This spaceship is empty.”
“Indeed it is,” the Doctor replied. “I’m guessing some kind of massive disaster happened aboard this spaceship when they were delivering the pizzas to this…Snowtown place on whatever planet it is for the kids.”
“I suppose you have an idea of where you’re going,” Ace said to the Doctor.
“We’re trying to get to the bridge,” the Doctor told her. “We need to find a turbo-lift. There isn’t a turbo-lift when you want one on a spaceship like this.”
“We’ll find a turbo-lift soon enough,” Ace reassured the Doctor. “Trust me, I should know. I once captained the space vessel Vancouver, remember?”
“Yes, yes, Ace,” the Doctor said testily to her. “I remember. I was once the ship’s doctor.”
Eventually the Doctor and Ace turned the corner and found a turbo-lift down at the end of the corridor.
“See!” Ace declared triumphantly. “I told you! There would be a turbo-lift!”
“Come on then,” the Doctor said eagerly. “Let’s make for the bridge!”
The Doctor and Ace made their way forward and approached the turbo-lift. Very soon, the turbo-lift doors opened and they entered inside. The turbo-lift doors closed, as it took Ace and the Doctor up to the main bridge of the spaceship.
They eventually reached the main bridge of the spaceship and entered it as they came out of the turbo-lift. The Doctor and Ace looked around to find the bridge completely empty. There was an eerie silence as they looked around the bridge. It was pretty dull-looking and control consoles had their screens flickering and distorting data and information.
“This is getting weirder and weirder by the minute, Professor,” Ace told the Doctor.
“Yes,” said the Doctor thoughtfully, pressing the question mark end of his umbrella up to his chin. “So it is, Ace. So it is.”
After a few moments of pondering, the Doctor made his way over to the captain’s chair. “Let’s see if we can find out what happened in the spaceship’s logs.”
Ace joined the Doctor as they approached the captain’s chair. The Doctor sat down in it with Ace standing beside him. He pressed a few button controls as the captain’s voice came out from the command chair.
“Personal log,” the captain’s voice echoed. “Date….Eight Nine…Captain Terams speaking…We…strange phenomenon…giant vortex…unable… to break free… magnetic field….doubt those children…get…pizzas…Christmas…can’t get out….this mess…”
The recording was mostly garbled and distorted. The Doctor couldn’t get any more from the log. Both he and Ace looked up concerned.
“Sounds like they ran into a storm big time, hey Professor,” Ace suggested.
“Yes,” the Doctor replied grimly. “At least we know who those pizzas were for and why they were being delivered to children. It’s for Christmas.”
“Hey!” Ace exclaimed. “It could be Earth this ship is in orbit around. Perhaps they’re delivering pizzas to children who don’t have much. Like refugees in an abandoned country.”
“Or it could be one of the Earth colonies in your future,” the Doctor added.
“Yeah,” Ace said, nodding her head. “It could be that. I wonder though how famine, starvation and racism issues have been handled in Earth’s future.”
But the Doctor wasn’t paying much attention to Ace. He seemed to be deep in thought. “There’s something familiar about all this,” he said. “I’ve been in a situation like this before. If only I could remember when.”
“What?” Ace said bemused. “What are you on about, Professor?”
But before the Doctor could respond to Ace’s question, he suddenly went into a trance. Ace noticed this and started to become worried.
“Hey Professor?” she called to him. “Didn’t you hear me? I said ‘What are you on about?’”
The Doctor didn’t respond. Ace became even more worried. “Professor?” she prompted.
She started clicking her fingers in the Doctor’s face. The Doctor remained transfixed, unblinking despite Ace trying to get his attention.
“Professor?” she said again. This worry Ace had for him turned into panic. “Doctor?” she cried out.
In the Doctor’s mind meanwhile, he saw a young man with blonde hair, wearing a cricket jumper as well as a cream-coloured coat on it with a stick of celery is his lapel. The Doctor recognised who this man was. It was his fifth self.
“You,” the Doctor said to the young man in his mind. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt you,” the young Doctor said to him. “But this is important. And no, you can’t respond to this message. This was pre-recorded in my mind before it could be sent to you where you are now.”
“What?” the Doctor asked perplexed.
“Listen to me carefully,” the young Doctor told him. “You remember that message that my future incarnation sent me? You know the skinny idiot with the pinstripe suit?”
“Yes,” the Doctor replied, despite himself.
“Well here’s a reminder of what he said in that message,” the young Fifth Doctor told him. “Beware of the man of disguise and the little boy Simon is the key to all this. That’s what he said to me. I hope you’ll be able to find out more answers should you come across these two people my future incarnation warned me…us about.”
Eventually, the Fifth Doctor’s message ended and the current Seventh Doctor was back in the room with Ace. The Doctor shook himself out of his trance and saw Ace before him, looking concerned, as they were on the bridge.
“Doctor,” Ace said to him. “Are you alright?”
The Doctor shook his head and blinked frequently to gain a grip on reality. “Yes Ace,” the Doctor reassured his companion. “I think so, yes.”
“What happened, Professor?” Ace asked curiously. “Where were you? What went wrong?”
For once, Ace’s Doctor didn’t have an answer for her. “I’m…I’m not sure,” he told her.
Ace could see that the Doctor was as much in the dark as she was. This scared her. Would her Doctor be able to handle a situation where he wasn’t totally in control, she wondered…
After a while, the Doctor suggested to Ace that they should visit sick bay. Perhaps they might find some crewmembers down there, he thought. So that’s what they did.
They entered sick bay to find nobody about. At least that’s what they thought at first.
They found bunk-beds in sick bay occupied with…some things or some people…the Doctor and Ace couldn’t really be sure…and covered with some plastic foil sheets on top.
“It seems this spaceship’s not deserted as we thought, Ace,” the Doctor told his companion.
“Yeah,” Ace replied. “Some of them must have stayed behind in sick-bay whilst everyone else evacuated. But why stay behind?”
Ace approached one of the bunks and was about to uncover one of the patients underneath his or her plastic foil sheet, before the Doctor stopped her with the handle of his question mark umbrella.
“Don’t touch one of the patients, Ace,” the Doctor told her. “We don’t know why they’ve been covered up like this.”
“Oh come off it, Professor,” Ace began to protest.
“They could be contaminated with a lethal disease,” the Doctor interrupted her.
Ace was about to protest further, but then saw the reasoning in his argument.
“Let’s take a look at some of these sleeping crewmembers’ medical records,” the Doctor then suggested.
With that, the Doctor and Ace made their way over to investigate the medical banks on a table near the patients’ bunk-beds. The Doctor sat at the table and Ace took a spare chair to sit beside him. The Doctor switched the computer terminal on and began accessing the medical records aboard the spaceship. A moment of silence ensued. Ace waited as the Doctor went through the computer records for a while.
“Do you know what you’re looking for?” Ace asked him.
“Nearly there, Ace,” the Doctor told her. “Nearly there.”
Eventually, the Doctor found something that he wanted. He adjusted the computer terminal to show Ace and tell her what he’d found.
“Look at this,” the Doctor told her. “Computer records made by Captain Terams stated that the starship crew were under quarantine by a lethal disease. It was something to do with the crew’s beverages. They were infected overnight and became aggressive. All crew abandoned ship as the infected crewmembers were contained in sick bay.”
“What?” Ace said astounded. “You mean to say we’re in a room with a group of aggressive madmen and women. Goons that can easily kill us whilst we remain in this place?!”
“Exactly,” said the Doctor, although he didn’t seem to be so bothered by the information he’d found. He was curious as if his mind was elsewhere.
Ace meanwhile was getting anxious. “Well what are we still doing here?” Ace demanded. “We’ve got to get out of here and fast!”
“You know something,” the Doctor said, more to himself. “I’m beginning to see a pattern in all this. In connection to three previous adventures I had when I was younger as three selves.”
“Doctor,” Ace prodded him. “This isn’t the time and place to be waffling…”
The Doctor ignored Ace as he went on, “The fact that the records were made by Captain Terams in the ship’s computer are unusual. Why wasn’t it made by the starship’s chief medical officer?”
“Does it matter?” Ace protested. “Do you seriously want to end up dead here, Professor?”
“And the name,” the Doctor continued. “There’s something oddly familiar about that name. Terams. As if it were an anagram. In fact…” the Doctor paused for emphasis. “They all seem to be anagrams.”
“What are you on about, Doctor?” Ace wanted to know, feeling impatient.
“Sretam; Marest…” the Doctor continued. Then he thought for a moment. “Father Christmas doesn’t seem to sound right or make sense!”
“Professor,” Ace then said, sounding afraid.
“Or perhaps it does,” the Doctor pondered away.
“Doctor,” Ace then stressed to him out loud.
The Doctor picked up on Ace’s urgency and looked to her. “What is it, Ace?” he asked.
“Look,” Ace pointed.
The Doctor could see what was troubling Ace. The cover sheets on the patients on the medical bunk-beds…had begun to move. The figures rose up from their bunk-beds and started to step down onto the floor.
“Ace,” the Doctor said urgently, “Get back!” He stood in front of Ace, holding his umbrella in his hand.
The figures then swiftly stomped forward. Mechanical stomps they were. The plastic sheets came off. Ace and the Doctor could see what they were now. Their blank faces were easily recognisable as they had encountered them before.
“Cybermen,” Ace exclaimed.
“Yes,” the Doctor said bitterly. “That was what the disease was that infected the crewmen’s drinks. A cyber disease!”
The Cybermen stomped forward, seeing the Doctor and Ace in their sights. The leader marched forward and stated, “You will become like us! Resistance is useless!”
As the Cybermen advanced upon them, the Doctor and Ace backed away to the sick bay doors to exit from the place.
“Shall I use my Nitro-9 on them,” Ace suggested. “I don’t have any gold coins or gold dust.”
“No Ace,” the Doctor admonished her. “Don’t do anything rash! When I say run…run!”
But at that moment, the sick bay doors opened behind them and in entered a little boy. A little boy…dressed up in a Superman outfit.
“It’s alright, Doctor; Ace,” the little boy said boldly. “I, Superman, have come to rescue you!”
Ace and the Doctor were astonished to see the little boy before them.
“Who are you then?” Ace wanted to know.
But the Doctor recognised the little boy instantly. “It’s you,” he stated surprised. “You’re Simon! You’re little Simon!”
“Come on,” little Simon said urgently. “They’ll be coming after us! Those Cybermen baddies!”
With that and without question, Ace and the Doctor followed their rescuer, Simon as Superman, as they escaped from the Cybermen in sick bay.
In the corridor away from sick bay, the Doctor and Ace ran with their rescuer, Simon as Superman. The Cybermen chased after them, stomping down the corridor. The Doctor and Ace managed to get a few metres distance away from the Cybermen as they turned around the corner. Simon tugged at the Doctor and Ace to follow him inside a gap in one of the corridors they had entered.
“In here,” Simon said. “The Cybermen won’t find us in here!”
The Doctor and Ace did as Simon had said as they joined him inside the gap in the corridor. There was enough room for all three of them thankfully, but it was still a tight squeeze. The Cybermen came marching down the corridor and stomped past the Doctor, Ace and Simon’s hiding place. The trio held their breath as the Cybermen marched past their place. They were almost out of danger, before the Cybermen stopped marching in the corridor.
One of the Cybermen addressed the leader. “They have disappeared, Leader,” the Cybermen said in its deep electronic voice.
“We will divide our forces,” the Cyber Leader boomed. It addressed the Cyberman, who was presumably its lieutenant. “Take half of the patrol with you to main bridge. I will continue with the rest of the patrol down this corridor.”
“Understood,” the Cyber Lieutenant replied.
Eventually, the Cyber patrol split up with the Cyber Lieutenant leading one half to the main bridge whilst the Cyber Leader led the rest down the corridor. They all stomped off. The Doctor, Ace and Simon remained in the gap in the wall, until the Cybermen had gone.
Thankfully, the Cybermen were gone. The Doctor, Ace and Simon breathed a sigh of relief as they were thankful they were out of danger for now.
“So, what do we do now Professor?” Ace asked. “Where do we go from here with those Cybermen hunting us down?”
But the Doctor didn’t answer Ace as he addressed Simon very seriously before him. “Where did you come from, Simon?” the Doctor asked him. “I’ve met you three times before now. Who are you and why are you here?”
“There’s no time,” the little boy in the Superman costume said. “I’ve got to take you two to engineering. You need to see what’s down there!”
“Why are you dressed up in a Superman costume,” Ace asked him. “Where are your mum and dad? Are they here aboard this spaceship?”
“Please,” Simon begged. “I need to take you two to engineering! You need to see this!”
“No Simon,” the Doctor insisted. “We’re not going anywhere until you tell us who you are; what you’re doing here and why I keep bumping into you? You know who I am, don’t you?”
“I promise,” Simon told them. “I’ll explain everything when we get down to engineering. You must see what’s there please!”
The Doctor was beginning to lose patience with the boy, but Ace gently touched his shoulder and said, “It can’t do us any harm, hey Professor? Besides, the little squirt knows his way about the spaceship. Perhaps he can help us with dodging those Cybermen once we’re down there in engineering.”
After a few moments, the Doctor considered. He didn’t know why, but he seemed to trust the little boy Simon. After all, if his previous Fifth self said that little boy Simon was the key to all that’s been going on, perhaps he could help. It wasn’t certain, but he had little else to go on.
“Alright Simon,” the Doctor said to him. “You take us to engineering!”
Simon smiled happily, as he guided Ace and the Doctor out of the gap in the corridor. Simon ran off and the Doctor and Ace chased after him to get down to engineering.
Eventually, they entered engineering on the lower levels. What the Doctor and Ace saw took them by surprise and they were shocked. There was a little alcove before them. The Doctor had seen something like this before. The alcove had people inside. They were connected by tubes and wires and there was a green light glowing from the alcove.
Ace and the Doctor were disturbed as they went over to examine the people inside.
“This is sick,” Ace said, disgusted with what she saw. “This is real sick! How could Cybermen keep these people as zombies alive in this…monstrosity? Like a bad horror house movie!”
Ace saw that the people in the alcove wore uniforms. She presumed they must be the remaining crewmembers aboard the spaceship.
“They’re not dead,” the Doctor said to Ace, although he was keeping his eyes on Simon. “Not yet,” he added.
The Doctor had been keeping his eyes on little Simon the whole time. Simon looked up, seeing the penetrating stare the Doctor made at him.
Eventually, the Doctor knelt down to address Simon. “You know what’s going on here, don’t you?” the Doctor said to little Simon. “You’re a part of this, aren’t you?”
Little Simon shook his head. He seemed to be ashamed and a little sorry for himself, as he sniffed away. “Yes,” he said, sniffing away and clearing a tear from his eyes.
The Doctor took in Simon in every detail, as he questioned the little boy’s presence and purpose with them at this moment. “Why are you doing this?” the Doctor asked Simon. “Why are you helping in this endeavour to capture five versions of myself? Why?”
Simon eventually stopped sniffing as he looked up at the Doctor. He answered, but it wasn’t the answer the Doctor was expected. “Because it’s Christmas,” he said. Then he vanished.
The Doctor and Ace were startled by Simon’s disappearance. They were lost for words.
“Professor!” Ace exclaimed. “That little boy Simon! He just…”
“I know, Ace,” the Doctor replied. “I saw him. Just like before. Only I saw him disappear this time. I made sure to see him go.”
Just then, the Cybermen entered. They stomped in, making their way towards the Doctor and Ace in engineering.
“Cybermen,” the Doctor declared. “They’re coming for us!”
“What do we do?” Ace asked, beginning to panic. “We won’t be able to make a run for it so easily out of this place? What do we do?”
But Ace didn’t get an answer. She turned round and realised that the Doctor had also gone. He had vanished. But she hadn’t been able to see him go.
“Doctor!” Ace cried. “Doctor!”
Still, Ace didn’t get an answer. She turned round and saw the Cybermen advancing on her.
The Cyber Leader reached out an arm to her and said, “You will be taken for processing! Do not resist! You will become like us!”
Ace was in trouble and she had no idea how to get out of this one. She didn’t have enough time to set off a can of Nitro-9 onto the metal zombies. Where was the Doctor when she needed him? There seemed no way out…
‘Ace’ originally created by Ian Briggs
‘Cybermen’ created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davies
© Tim Bradley, 2017
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