Teaser: “The Edge of Extinction”
“SO, IN summary, yes—she’s bigger on the inside and travels anywhere in time and space,” beamed the Doctor to his latest impromptu travelling companion, unable to conceal a sense of pride in his brand new and ancient TARDIS control room and excitement at having someone new to whom to show it off.
His voice echoed through the cavernous space, its stone-like form resembling the interior of some otherworldly cathedral, with a high, curved ceiling segmented by six translucent panels patterned with Gallifreyan symbols. Through them fell soft blue light in varying, shifting shades that created a mosaic on the control room floor. Suspended from the centre of the ceiling was the time rotor within a marbled blue cylinder and, beneath that, the console, the smooth curves of its bulbous form suggesting a reflection of the ceiling’s hexagonal design.
It was at the console that the Doctor was now busying himself, as Riddell did his best to help the mysterious Kyrstal get accustomed to her surroundings. For a moment he wondered if the Doctor might consider him his new butler of sorts, given the Master’s recent dramatic desertion, but he shook the idea from his head.
“Done!” exclaimed the Doctor, as he completed his frantic activity at a screen embedded within the console with a flourish and turned back to the duo. “I’m a man of my word. Your worthy intelligence on the Sontaran slave operations is now in the hands of the Precipice Protectorate, Kyrstal, with a copy also sent to the Shadow Proclamation for good measure. I wouldn’t want to be in General Rannic’s shoes when either of them catch up with him.” He winced before adding, “For a start, I’d bet they’d pinch something rotten.”
Kyrstal slowly removed the protective mask from her face, revealing her distinctive Dreilyn features in full for the first time since the Doctor and Riddell had met her. Her skin was almost translucently pale and her ears pointed, whilst her prominent compound eyes lent her an eerie gaze.
The Doctor smiled and remarked, “You know, I used to look very much like you in my last incarnation.”
At this, Riddell winced with embarrassment before turning to Kyrstal and whispering to her, “He really didn’t.” He tapped the side of his head. “Sorry, but the old chap’s memory’s not quite what it was.”
If the Doctor heard his companion’s remark, he didn’t let on. His mind was elsewhere. “Which leaves just one issue still to be addressed,” he proclaimed.
Kyrstal showed little in the way of emotion, but she clearly had her own preoccupation. “You will take me home now?”
“Ah. Well now, therein lies a tale,” said the Doctor in a tone that was instantly apologetic. “My good friend Riddell and I recently ran into a spot of bother with an old acquaintance of mine, which led to us having to accept this brand new feature for the TARDIS.” Somewhat proudly, he gestured to a large red button embedded prominently within the new console. “It’s a randomizer.”
“Your point, Doctor?” asked the Dreilyn dryly and with a tone of impatience.
“Simply put, that I can’t take you home. Or, at least, not directly. We have no control over where the old girl takes us next, other than to elect to go back to our previous location. I press the button and we go somewhere—anywhere—in all of time and space.”
The smile with which the Doctor had accompanied his explanation soon fell away as Kyrstal hissed her displeasure. Clearly she had no desire to fall back into Sontaran hands. No moreso, considered Riddell, than he wanted to find himself back in the Silurian caves of the Tora Bora mountains. “But I will get you home,” the Doctor offered to reassure her. “That I promise you. Just not right away. And anyway, in my experience, the direct route is never the most rewarding.”
“Don’t worry about me either, Doctor,” inserted Riddell. It seemed that the Doctor had given little or no thought to returning him to his own time and place, although he was secretly quite pleased at the prospect of a more extensive stay aboard the TARDIS.
“My dear Riddell,” said the Doctor warmly, “I am most glad to have you aboard. And especially when we have such a troubling mystery to be solved. That is the issue to be addressed.”
“You mean the stones?” asked Riddell.
“I mean the stones,” the Time Lord confirmed. “The Rutans clearly had an interest in that standing stone, and my predecessor wouldn’t have gone to such trouble to hide his notes on the same topic without good reason. If only I could remember why?”
“If you could remember?” repeated Kyrstal in disbelief, before addressing Riddell. “He has no control over his ship, and he has lost his mind. Are you quite sure he is safe to fly this… TARDIS?”
“Oh, quite safe, yes,” replied Riddell immediately. “It may sound strange, but this sort of thing is fairly normal when you travel with the Doctor.”
Kyrstal sighed wearily. “As you might appreciate, I do not enjoy being at the mercy of others. So where exactly are we going next, Doctor?”
At this, Riddell chipped in, too. “Yes, I rather think we’d all like to know that.”
“Well,” replied the Doctor, as he slammed the palm of his hand down onto the randomiser button. The time rotor began to rise and fall within its tall, glowing cylinder, and the familiar groan of the TARDIS once more came to life, its deep tones akin to those of a majestic organ that filled the chamber. “Let’s find out…”