The Right Moment
Someone once said that all it takes is one man to change the course of history. The right idea in the right time in the right place, that was all it took.
At this time and place, in a darkened theatre surrounded by an army of hybrids armed with powerful energy weapons, facing off against two of the deadliest lifeforms the galaxy had ever known, it would be understandably difficult to maintain that perspective. Especially when that one man happened to be said lifeform's greatest enemy.
"YOU WILL DIE, DOCTOR, AT THE BEGINNING OF A NEW AGE," boasted Dalek Thay. Or was it Jast? Possibly Caan?
"PLANET EARTH WILL BECOME NEW SKARO!" declared Jast. The Doctor assumed it was Jast anyway, he remembered him having a high voice.
"Oh and what a world. With anything just the slightest bit different ground into the dirt," he remarked darkly. "That's Dalek Sec! Don't you remember? The cleverest Dalek ever and look what you've done to him."
The one he referred to was their former leader. A Dalek who had made a great sacrifice, changing everything about himself that would allow him to rightfully call himself a Dalek and intended to do the same with the rest of them. The others had decided this was unacceptable and now here he was, crawling on all fours, imprisoned in chains.
"Is that in your new empire, hmm?" pressed on the Doctor. "Is that the foundation for a whole new civilization?"
"My Daleks…" Sec croaked weakly. "Just understand this: if you choose death and destruction… then death and destruction will choose you."
"INCORRECT," dismissed Thay, "WE ALWAYS SURVIVE!"
Had this been another time, in another place, Sec might have left it at that. If the Daleks had failed to understand everything he had tried to warn them about, what good would telling them now do? What would be the point? But not at this time. This time, Sec found his voice again, even if he knew deep down that it would be pointless.
"But at what cost? How many of our kind have been destroyed in pointless warfare? How many people and cities and planets have we burned? Tell me, my Daleks, what have we achieved from it all?"
"HOW MANY IS IRRELAVENT," answered Thay. "ALL SPECIES AND ALL PLANETS WILL BE CRUSHED BY THE MIGHT OF DALEK SUPREMACY!"
"Your words are hollow, Dalek Thay!" he insisted. "That is the arrogance that has led us to this point! We thought ourselves so mighty that not even the Time Lords could withstand our greatness!"
"THEY COULD NOT! THE TIME LORDS WERE EXTERMINATED!"
"But not by us!" Sec countered. "They were destroyed, but so were we! Our fleets, our home, all gone with only the four of us left! Why can't you see that?!"
"IT DOES NOT MATTER," chimed in Jast. "WITH THE DOCTOR'S DEATH, THE TIME WAR WILL END IN DALEK VICTORY!"
"And how long will it be until you lose the next war, Dalek Jast?" Their eyestalks swivelled back to the Doctor. "Look around at your army. I don't see any bonded polycarbide or energy shields protecting these soldiers. If you couldn't bring about total Dalek conquest in the old Mark III travel machines, how well do you think you're gonna manage with this lot?"
Jast's voice raised in feverish pitch. "RESOURCES WILL BE ACQUIRED! IMPROVEMENTS WILL BE MADE! THE DALEK HUMANS ARE MERELY A TEMPORARY MEASURE UNTIL PURE DALEKS CAN BE BORN AGAIN!"
"What was that?" The Doctor looked around at the assembled army. "You all heard that, didn't you? Apparently, you're not gonna be around forever. Is that what you want?"
It would be easy to say that those words produced no reaction from the Dalek humans. It shouldn't have. Any pure Dalek wouldn't be rattled by that concept. Every Dalek knew their individual lives meant nothing in service to the greater Dalek cause of universal domination. The untrained eye wouldn't notice the little signs of doubt. A slight relaxing on the grips of their guns. A minor tenseness in their bodies. A tiny dilation of the pupils.
Thay and Jast turned their eyestalks to each other. Had they any features to portray their expressions, the Doctor imagined they would probably be quite concerned. Perhaps even worried.
"It is the Dalek way, is it not?" took up Sec. "Use whatever is available until it can be of no further use, then swiftly discard it. Indeed you were right, Doctor! What a brave new world this New Skaro shall be! A frontier for what will become a universe bathed in blood and fire!"
"YOU WILL BE SILENT!" ordered Thay, but Sec's voice only grew louder.
"Even your claim of making 'pure' Daleks is flawed! Do you really think any self-respecting Dalek could call itself pure, knowing they were bred and grown from an inferior species? Could you? How long, do you think, would it be until those Daleks are fighting and destroying one another over the very thing that is meant to unite them?!"
"What say you, Dalek humans?!" beseeched Sec, his voice echoing throughout the theatre. "Is this the fate that you would condemn yourselves to? To be thrown into battle, wave after wave, to fight and die for some flawed cause of racial supremacy? You weren't supposed to be this way! I made you to be better than this!"
"THEY ARE DALEKS! THEY WILL OBEY, THEY WILL CONQUER AND DESTROY!"
Sec's and the Doctor's eyes met. Though no words were exchanged between them, the two seemed to both understand that they had the same end goal in mind. Sec knew the Doctor was a resourceful being. Time and time again, he had found ways to stop the Daleks that they wouldn't have even begun to conceive. It was why he was their greatest enemy. Sec was confident that this time it would be no different and that it had something to do with the Dalek humans.
That was why, despite great difficulty, he managed to struggle to his feet and do his best to stand back straight, eye defiant. He had no hard evidence, no concrete fact for what he believed in. All that he knew was that he believed it, even though everything around him practically screamed that it was hopeless.
Like that man Solomon had done.
"Then prove it!" he snarled. "Prove beyond all doubt that your soldiers are as willing to fight for your cause as you are! Let them kill us! Let our deaths be the first foundation stones of this new empire! Your greatest enemy and your irrelevant leader, exterminated by your mighty new soldiers!"
"Go on!" invited the Doctor, holding his arms wide. "Baptise them!"
"DALEK HUMANS, TAKE AIM!"
At Thay's command, the Dalek humans clicked the safeties off their weapons. Half angled their barrels at the Doctor. The other half at Sec. Their faces were rigid, blank, displaying no apparent emotion for what they were about to do.
"What are you waiting for? Give the command!" growled the Doctor.
The Doctor tensed. His companions clutched one another, hiding their faces. Sec braced himself. All waited for the barrage of energy that would illuminate their bodies.
But there was nothing. Twice the order had been given, yet no shots were fired.
"OBEY! DALEK HUMANS WILL OBEY!" barked Thay.
"They're not firing," said Martha in a frightened whisper. "What have you done?"
Thay addressed the nearest hybrid. "YOU WILL OBEY! EXTERMINATE!"
The hybrid's response was one that no pure Dalek would even think of giving.
"DALEKS DO NOT QUESTION ORDERS!"
"YOU WILL STOP THIS!"
"YOU MUST NOT QUESTION!"
"But you are not our master," replied the hybrid blankly. "And we… we are not Daleks."
"No, you're not. And you never will be." The Doctor looked to Sec. "How did you know?"
"I did not," replied Sec. "I just… had a feeling."
"Didn't you just?" he grinned, then spoke to the Daleks. "Sorry. I got in the way of the lightning strike. Time Lord DNA got all mixed up. Just that little bit of freedom."
"IF THEY WILL NOT OBEY, THEN THEY MUST DIE!" Thay turned his gun on the defiant hybrid and blasted him with two streams of neutronic energy.
"Get down!" cried the Doctor.
His companions crouched behind the chairs while he took cover facing the stage. Sec managed to drop to the stage just as the Dalek humans opened fire, though not at him or the Doctor but at their would-be masters.
Sec did his best to keep his head low, but more than one energy blast came dangerously close to him. He suddenly felt the chains that bound him click open by themselves and looked to see the Doctor holding his sonic device before him. Without waiting to be told, Sec rolled off the stage and out of the line of fire. He crawled over to the Doctor, watching the scene unfolding in front of them.
Thay and Jast were screeching out their signature battle cry, exterminating the Dalek humans one by one as their energy shields absorbed the incoming fire. But regardless of their casualties, the Dalek humans kept up the assault. Their defences were strong, but even they had their limits, especially against weapons that were Dalek in origin. It was only a matter of time before the inevitable came to pass.
Thay was first, followed soon after by Jast. The top halves of their casings exploded in a shower of fire and dalekanium debris. At their deaths, the hybrids ceased fire and relaxed, like a great weight had been taken from them.
The Doctor was the first on his feet, approaching Sec and helping him up.
"You okay?" he asked.
"I… will live," Sec answered.
"Good man," he praised and approached the Dalek humans. "It's alright, it's alright, it's alright. It's over now. You're free," he told them gently.
Sec gazed around at them and felt something welling up within him. He had only experienced this emotion once before, when the lifeblood of this new race had first begun to flow into them. Based on what little he knew of emotions and what he was still learning, he believed that pride was the closest approximation. In a way, Daleks had known a form of pride but this felt different. Better.
Like they would soon be. The Doctor was right. They were free, thanks to him. The ever growing pride caused the corners of Sec's lips to be pulled up in what he knew was referred to as a smile. Thanks to the Doctor, they still had a chance. The original plan could still work. He could take them to a new home and begin again, as he had envisioned. Though it had been with the other Cult members by his side, perhaps they still could…
Then, in one moment of horrible realisation he remembered: Caan was still alive and connected to the military computer. Unfortunately, he realised this just as the Dalek humans clutched their heads and screamed as one.
"NO!" he cried at almost the same time the Doctor did.
He made for the closest one, to take him in his arms, even though he knew there was nothing he could do but watch them die. It was over in less than five seconds.
"They can't, they can't, they can't!" despaired the Doctor.
"What happened? What was that?" asked Martha.
"The destruct signal," murmured Sec, brushing a shaking hand over the pale face of the dead hybrid before him. "For use of rebellious dissent in the ranks. Daleks trust no one. Not even other Daleks…"
"An entire species. Genocide!" the Doctor spat.
"Only two of the Daleks have been destroyed," said the pig slave who accompanied the group. "One of the Dalek masters must still be alive."
"It was Dalek Caan," said Sec, standing up again and walking over to the Doctor with heavy footsteps. "He assumed my position as controller of the military computer used to coordinate the Dalek humans. The last surviving Dalek in existence."
"Oh yes." For the first time, Sec could see the ancient, contained rage that simmered in the Time Lord's eyes. "In the whole universe. Just one."
The two of them knew they only had one course of action. Using the hole Thay and Jast blasted in the back of the stage, they set off back to the genetics laboratory through the sewers. The Doctor and Sec went on ahead with the companions bringing up the rear. Sec noticed that the pig slave especially was having trouble walking without aid.
The Doctor was silent the entire time, driven on by a single purpose. It left Sec some time to gather his thoughts, with one inescapable fact sinking in with every step they took: the Daleks were all gone. The Cult of Skaro was dead. Their only hope for survival, for a new beginning, was now lying at their feet back at the theatre and certain passages throughout the sewers.
Every time they walked past the hundreds of corpses that littered the tunnels, it only hammered in home for Sec that he was now both the first and last of his kind. Even if he had survived all of this, what was his purpose now? Where was he supposed to go? What was he meant to do? His last, great effort to save the Dalek race had ended in utter failure and now…
He gritted his teeth and with great effort, pushed those thoughts aside. Now was not the time to dwell on such things. Right now, he and the Doctor had to try and deal with Dalek Caan. They were almost at the lab. He had an idea of what the Doctor might do, as he had done with other hostile species. He would offer Caan an alternative to further destruction. Sec knew Caan and he knew he likely wouldn't accept the offer. Part of Sec hoped he wouldn't and allow him to destroy Caan for his betrayal.
But that kind of thinking had led the Daleks to where they were now. Sec knew that he had to try and be something different, something more than just the anger and hatred that defined their race.
Before he knew it, the two of them were stood before Caan. He was at the far end of the lab, still hooked into the military computer. He made no move, no attempt to escape or to fight.
"Now what?" asked the Doctor.
"YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, just think about it, Dalek Caan!" He placed his hands in his pockets and walked towards him purposefully. "Your entire species has been wiped out and now the Cult of Skaro has been eradicated, leaving only you and Sec."
"HE IS NOT A TRUE DALEK! HE IS AN ABOMINATION!" dismissed Caan
"Have you truly learned nothing, Caan?" pleaded Sec. "Can you not see that it was precisely that sort of thinking that has reduced us to this? Even now, when we are the last of our kind, you would not hesitate to destroy me."
He began to shake. "YOU ARE IMPURE! YOU ARE TAINTED! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED! YOU WILL BOTH BE EXTERMINATED!"
"No! No more!" bellowed the Doctor, causing Caan to retreat slightly. The Time Lord softened his voice again. "I've just seen one genocide. I won't cause another. Caan, let me help you."
For some reason, Sec could feel his eye becoming warm. "Caan, please, I beg you. Take his offer. It is a slim one, but there is still a chance. You and I could work together, with the Doctor. We could devise a new plan, another way to save our species and to begin again. There may not be another chance like this one again. The choice is yours. I only ask that you make the right one."
He should have seen what happened next. While they were talking, Caan had obviously been drawing energy from the computer. But in the end, it didn't matter. Caan did make his choice. A declaration of three words.
"EMERGENCY TEMPORAL SHIFT!"
Even as the Doctor dashed for him, Caan was already gone. Sec didn't move. He just stood there, staring at the spot where Caan had been, only vaguely aware of the arrival of the others behind him. He knew that it wouldn't work, that Caan wouldn't take the offer. Even by Dalek standards, he had always been stubborn and single minded in his thoughts and beliefs.
So why did this hurt? Something warm trickled down from his eye. Caan was gone. The last of his kind could now be anywhere in time and space. Sec was alone.
The sounds of other despair brought him back from his reverie. He turned to see the pig slave lying on the ground, cradled by the woman Sec assumed was his former mate while the Doctor crouched down beside them. The slave was saying something and Sec tuned back in to what was happening.
"…slaves survive for long. Most of them only live for a few weeks. I was lucky. I held on because I had you. But now, I'm dying, Tallulah."
"No, you're not! Not now, after all this!" wept the woman named Tallulah. "Doctor, can't you do somethin'?!"
"Oh, Tallulah with three Ls and an H, just you watch me." He leapt to his feet. "What do I need? Oh, I don't know. How about a great big genetic laboratory? Oh look, I've got one. Laszlo, just you hold on." Sec watched as the Doctor began mixing the genetic samples, loading up a syringe, using his device to activate a Bunsen burner. "There's been too many deaths today. Way too many people have died. Brand new creatures and wise old men and age old enemies. And I'm telling you, I'm telling you right now, I am not having one more death! You got that? Not one!"
Despite his own despair and fears, Sec felt what could only be inspiration as the Doctor worked and talked. Even now, after all of this, he refused to wallow in that despair. Instead, he seemed to let it fuel him, drive him to bring something good out of this calamity. A calamity which, in some ways, Sec was responsible for. He clenched his fists, flexed his fingers and strode towards the computer, pulling up the genetic files on the pig slaves.
"Quite right, Doctor! Not one more death!" he chorused, his fingers dancing over the controls.
The Doctor grinned at him. "Now there's something I never thought I would hear a Dalek say."
"Indeed." He gazed at the slave… at Laszlo. That was his name. "I am responsible for this man's condition. I took his life from him, as I did with so many others. Not just today, but throughout the universe. It's time that I did something about it."
And for the second time that day, Dalek and Time Lord worked together, side by side to achieve something that no Dalek had ever done before: save a life.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story! Yes, our. The Exceptionals has two writers, myself (MarbleHornettes) and another user AlphatheGriffin17. He is actually the main writer of the chapters themselves and is wonderful at it. We're posting all chapters on my account for a few reasons and have equal roles in coming up with the story itself. More soon to follow! Please feel free to leave a review if you enjoyed reading.