THE SOUL OF THE MACHINE – Part 1

“Doctor? Wait for me!” Dodo Chaplet’s voice was a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. She scurried from the Tardis wrapping her coat tightly around her, watching the silver haired Timelord disappear into the distance. Despite his apparent age and frailty it always amazed Dodo how unaffected the Doctor was by terrain and weather conditions. He now strode across what appeared to be an ancient battlefield with all the enthusiasm of a schoolboy, using his walking stick more as an ornament than for support.

She finally caught up with her companion when he stopped and knelt in the dirt, eyes twinkling with excitement. “What are we doing here Doctor?” she queried catching her breath, “It looks like there has been a battle or something.” Her eyes flickered around taking in the piles of rusty, spent ordinance and bent shards of metal.

“Why this, child!” exclaimed the Doctor leaning back and revealing the focus of his attention. Incongruous in the blasted soil a tiny and beautiful flower bloomed. It looked fragile and delicate in the harsh environment. At first glance the petals made seven small trumpets; each one nestled inside the other. These layers glowed with the successive colours of the spectrum from a vibrant violet through to a rich red. However, on closer inspection, a further two layers could be discerned. A miraculous, impossibly fine layer of ultraviolet wrapped each flower, whilst a stamen of intense infrared centred each bloom. The pair were so taken by the Doctor’s discovery they didn’t notice the danger until it was almost upon them.

Dodo was the first to react to the approaching sound of crunching gears and hissing hydraulics. Terrified she grasped the Doctor’s sleeve and spun around, craning her neck upwards. A massive mechanical figure loomed over them, a full two stories tall, towering over the hillside. Its pitted and battle scarred casing was dark gunmetal with peeling insignia so faded as to be illegible. Although humanoid in shape it had no face, simply an expanse of smooth featureless plexi-glass which now reflected the two companions in the late afternoon sun.

Imperiously the Doctor grasped the lapels of his frock coat and stared calmly up at the interloper. “Greetings.” he said levelly, “We are most sorry if we have trespassed into your territory. We mean no harm, of course, just an opportunity to enjoy your beautiful flora. Hmm? We shouldn’t be too much longer and then we can leave you in peace. Isn’t that right child?”

The Doctor turned to Dodo smiling encouragingly and gesticulating subtly with his head towards their unwelcome guest. “Yes.” She breathed, trying to remain calm and brave, “Yes that’s right.” Dodo smiled her eyelids fluttering nervously.

It briefly appeared as if the huge automaton was considering their case, its head tilted thoughtfully to one side and its vast metal body seemed to relax. However any respite was to be short lived. With surprising speed for its immense size, it raised and directed its right arm at the pair. The sound of rending metal filled the air as a large, concealed panel opened in its forearm. Menacingly a circular arrangement of large, powerful looking guns squealed into view and, without warning, burst into life. The sound was terrifying as barrel after barrel rotated into position shuddering and smoking terribly.

As the awful sound faded quietly across the battle plain Dodo realised that she had be holding her breath. Stunned she slowly exhaled and smiled with relief, patting her body in disbelief. Beside her the Doctor merely arched his neck downwards, as if to ensure that he was still indeed stood upright. However, unlike his younger companion, he appeared not to be so relieved.

Once more their tormentor seemed to comically mimic human action, this time gazing at the still smoking guns as if totally incredulous. Again, as before, this didn’t last for long as it determined to make a second attempt to kill the pair. Sensing the mechanical warrior’s intent the Doctor hissed urgently at his charge. “Dodo, my girl, do as I do and do not fail.”

Part Two>>>