October 05, 2023
Someone has sent literal Death after Doom. She can only outrun it for 24 hours. Unless she can find the Doctor.
Her time is almost up... this special multi-platform story, celebrating Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, wraps up today with the finale of Doom's 24-hour pursuit of the Doctor.
Read the final chapter of Doom's Day below.
Out of Time by James Goss
It had been a long day and she was tired. But not as tired as the planet. Something bad had happened to New Venice. The vast ballrooms spanning the silver lakes were smouldering ruins. The piers of spun iron now drooped in rusting shards.
Fragments of shattered gondolas washed around the broken marble steps. This was all that remained of the most corrupt, the most fun, the most dangerous planet in the Empire. The party on New Venice was finally over.
Fair enough. It had been a terrible place to live but it was a good place to die. Doom was finally out of time. A day ago she’d been sent here to kill someone – and ever since that mission had gone wrong, her time line had been slowly falling apart. She’d spent a day trying to outrun Death – a shadowy figure growing closer as her end approached. She’d taken assignment after assignment, using each hour to try and find the person who’d warned her not to do this.
The right Doctor.
A strange, white-haired old man who’d accosted her as she’d headed off to carry out her mission. Who’d told her not to. He’d known what would happen. So, she figured, he could save her.
Doom didn’t admit to making mistakes – if you’re going to be a successful assassin it’s best to soft-pedal the self-examination. But this had been a doozy of a mistake.
She strode into the broken ballroom and paused before a pile of rusting scrap that had once been an android orchestra. One robotic arm still sawed away at a stringless violin. She sat down on the burnt remains of a golden throne and waited. A shadow fell over her. Doom glanced up, weary but brave.
“Oh look, if it isn’t the consequences of my actions.”
The headquarters of the Assassins Of The Lesser Order Of Oberon were in a small grey office on a small grey planet. Terri was the last person in the office. If you’d asked her she’d have told you this was always the case, but especially so today. Normally in charge of booking and scheduling, and telling people she didn’t have time for this, she was working her way through a meal deal when the phone rang. Mildly interested, Terri answered it. Surely she was done for the day?
“Assassins Of The Lesser Order of Oberon, we aim to kill, how can I help?”
“Hey Terri. It's Doom.”
Oh yes. One last piece of business.
“Doom!” Terri kicked her shoes off, one after the other, and put her feet up on the desk. Doom was the best assassin on their books. She’d spent the last day on the run from Death, taking all the assignments Terri could send her. But she’d run out of time now. Surely?
“Hang on,” Terri peeled back her sandwich to try and find where the sliced chicken was hiding. “Isn't your time up?”
“Yes. My final assignment. It’s brought me back to New Venice, but there’s been a mistake. The planet’s a ruin. There’s no target.”
“Well, you’re wrong. There must be a target,” Terri said patiently. “Otherwise we wouldn't have sent it to you. Stands to reason.”
Doom sat up in the throne. “Actually, there is a target. But it’s me. It has been all along. That's what I've been running from. This is what the Doctor warned me about. When I first went to Duke Derek Gamma's Masked Ball.”
Doom thought back to that meeting on the Grand Balcony.
She prided herself that she knew how to slip into a room, execute her mission, then slink out again, all without being noticed. My superpower is not being noticed when I fancy it. And yet the old man had noticed her. As soon as she’d walked onto the balcony he’d been watching her. She’d looked back at him, and smiled her most reassuring smile.
“Hi,” she’d said, managing to inject into the single syllable that she was important and fabulous and on her way to spend time with important and fabulous people.
“I wouldn’t,” was all the man had said.
“Do what you came here to do,” the man tilted his head on one side.
“I came to get a breath of fresh air,” she smiled back, eyes drifting down onto the dance floor. There was the target, moving into position. Mustn’t let the target get away. But the man was still there. He laid a hand on her arm.
“I think I can help you,” he said. “My name is the Doctor.”
Well, that had been a laugh.
Mind you, why was the Doctor speaking to her at a party? Was he going to try and stop her? He’d better not.
“I know an assassin when I see one, and I invite you to think carefully before you go in there,” the Doctor had said, regarding her critically. “You are walking into a trap. You'll only have yourself to blame.”
“Excuse me,” she said. “I think you’ve confused me with someone else.”
“Listen to me,” the Doctor had said, angrily. “You’re about to make a terrible mistake-“
“Nah,” she’d told him and went off and made a terrible mistake.
She ducked behind the arras and slipped into an unoccupied private box and located the target, dancing beautifully across the dancefloor arm in arm with one of the Cauldron Princes. They were laughing beneath their masks. Ah well, she had no objection to people dying happy. She pulled up the staser she’d stolen from the cloakroom, took careful aim and fired. And that was when everything had all gone wrong.
“You see Terri, it was only when I fired that I realised - I'd been here before.”
“So?” Terri was unwrapping a nut bar. “New Venice is the head of the Empire’s great crime families and the Seventh Most popular assassination location.”
“Which was why I didn't clock. Until I squeezed the trigger. And then I realised. I'd been sent to shoot my past self.”
She’d fired the staser. She’d seen the figure twist as the blast hit her, the mask falling away. Then she’d remembered. A long ago mission. Go to New Venice, spend an evening with an awful Cauldron Prince, kill off his plans for claiming the throne by any means necessary. Her memories of how that mission had ended were hazy. Because now there was the memory of lying dying on the dancefloor, the dancers stepping over her as they continued their waltz, and above them all her own horrified face holding a staser.
“Someone sent me to kill myself, Terri. Causing my entire timeline to collapse.”
“Nasty,” said Terri, dabbing at crumbs in the wrapper.
“Who was it?” Doom asked.
“Client confidentiality,” Terri shrugged.
“I’m sorry, I’d love to help,” said Terri. She clearly wouldn’t.
Doom didn’t argue the point. “When I came out, the Doctor had gone. But I went looking for them.”
That had been the start of a long day. The problem was that there were so many Doctors, so many places they could be, so many things they could get involved in. Along the way she’d met Cybermen and Slitheen and the Kraals. She’d been to space stations, she’d been to prison, she’d hunted demons and she’d had a sponge finger with Jackie Tyler. And now here she was, out of time on New Venice.
“I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you,” said Terri. “Never mind.”
“Actually,” said Doom, looking away from the hologram to the figure standing over her throne. “There's a thing you should know. I found someone waiting for me in the ruins of New Venice.”
“Death?” Terri stifled a yawn and wondered if her favourite coffee bar was still open. Mind you, perhaps she’d stay and watch Doom die. That seemed, well, it seemed polite. A figure leaned into the hologram. At first it seemed to be the cowled figure of Death, but it resolved itself into the figure of a white-haired man smartly dressed in quaintly formal clothes and an opera cape of all things.
Terri leaned back in shock. The Doctor. The First Doctor. The old man tugged on his lapels and stared straight at her with eyes that twinkled like an iceberg.
“Am I addressing Terri? And are you in charge of this shameful enterprise?”
“And take your feet off the desk when I’m talking to you.”
Terri took her feet off the desk and sat up straight as she’d been taught in school.
“That’s better,” the Doctor said. “Now we can discuss the resolution to this messy conundrum.”
Doom appeared beside him in the hologram field, the two of them fizzing in the empty office.
“The Doctor was waiting for me on New Venice. The irony!” Doom rolled her eyes. “All the journeys I’ve been on! I’ve met River Song and the Eminence of Gris! And if I’d just stayed here….”
“Quite,” the Doctor remarked. “Despite several attempts, my TARDIS has been unable to leave New Venice. The ship is caught in a temporal anomaly. You.”
“Me,” beamed Doom proudly.
“We need to resolve this situation between ourselves.”
“So I don’t die.”
“And also, we have theatre tickets,” the Doctor admitted. “By the way, what is Mamma Mia?”
“Oh it’s very good,” chipped in Terri. She’d seen it a dozen times.
“Is that so?” the Doctor continued doubtfully. “Susan assures me it’s set in Greece which is something, and rather akin to the sublime Oresteia of Aeschylus. Chesterfield and Miss Wright are most excited.”
“Now,” The Doctor turned away from the hologram and addressed Doom. He shot out his hand. “Pass me your Vortextual Manipulator. I need to adjust the Fast Return Switch on it.”
She slipped her portable time travel device from her wrist and handed it to him. He produced a jeweller’s eyeglass from a pocket along with a set of watchmaker’s screwdrivers and began fiddling with it. Doom wondered if he were going to break it. She’d never heard of a Fast Return Switch and was fairly certain her Manipulator didn’t contain one. Still.
“Are you sure this will work?”
“Child's play, my dear lady.” Doom raised an eyebrow at that. “I'm sending you back in time to shoot your former self before you shoot your former self.”
“I beg your pardon?”
The Doctor looked up, steely-gazed. “So you should. As a rule, I deplore violence, but in your case I think we can make an exception. Sending a flea to bite a flea.”
“What – I’m not-!“
“It’s a little late for scruples, madam. There!”
He slipped the vortex manipulator back on Doom’s wrist, and, under the guise of patting it, activated it.
She was protesting hotly when she vanished.
The Doctor turned back to the hologram of Terri. He sniffed.
“Are you drinking soup from that mug?”
“Yes,” Terri admitted, feeling guilty.
“I don’t care for that,” the Doctor frowned. “Still. We shall not have long to wait before this messy business is over.”
With a whoosh of time energy Doom reappeared in the ruined ballroom. She was wearing a sling.
“Hi!” she said, breathless.
“There,” the Doctor nodded. “Bloodthirsty, but quite a neat solution. The anomalies cancel each other out. Of course, it’s regrettable that you had to assassinate your former self-“
Doom held up her sling.
“Actually, I shot my past self in the arm. Causing her aim to go wild. Missing my past past self. And setting fire to the curtains.”
The Doctor looked around the charred rubble of New Venice. “So, that explains the ruins we find ourselves in.” He tutted. “One of the most despicable planets in the Human Empire. I shan’t miss it.”
“But - I'm alive, right?” Doom put in.
The Doctor nodded and addressed his attention to Terri who was taking this all in with wide, horrified eyes. There was a smile at the corners of his mouth which Terri did not at all care for.
“What about that cloaked figure?” Doom was saying. “Y’know – Death-“
“Just a Gatherer,” the Doctor’s smile grew a little nastier. “They feed off anomalies and the causes of them. I would imagine its attentions are now focused on whoever sent you here in the first place.”
“Who was that?” asked Doom.
The Doctor pointed to the hologram.
The office was suddenly empty.
“Terri!” shouted Doom. “It was you! You set me up. Why? What have you been doing?”
Terri lurched back into the holographic field, sweeping a row of pens into a wheeled suitcase. “You!” She looked at the Doctor and Doom in pure fury. “With you out of the way I've been able to wipe out the entire Lesser Order of Oberon. I’ve taken over. You never valued me, never appreciated me, so I’ve killed everyone. The Grand Masters. The assassins. There’s just me now. Because I'm better than you.”
The Doctor shook his head. “That may be so, Madam, but you also unleashed a force of temporal retribution. And it's hungry.”
As Terri reached the door of the office, it creaked slowly open, revealing nothing but shadows beyond. A darkness full of claws poured into the little office. Something like a grinning skull appeared at the heart of the emptiness. It swooped down on the screaming Terri. The new Grand Master of the Lesser Order of Oberon cried out three times and then vanished forever. The grinning skull nodded slightly towards the Doctor and Doom. Satisfied, the Doctor nodded back. The hologram fizzled out.
“Oh wow,” said Doom.
“Quite. Let that be a lesson to you,” the Doctor remarked pompously. “As I said to Jane Austen, be careful when firing high-powered staser rifles.“
Doom blinked. “Sorry?”
“I told her to stick to nunchucks,” the Doctor smiled. “And I’m pleased to say she took my advice. Perhaps you should too.”
“Indeed,” the Doctor wagged his best wagging finger. “Choose a different path in life. Should we meet in the future –“
“Actually, we do quite a lot.”
“Then I hope I shall find you much improved, putting all this bloodshed behind you.”
Doom thought about all the times over the past day when she’d held the Doctor at gunpoint while something exploded dramatically. Oh dear.
The Doctor jabbed one more finger at her. Clearly the Headmaster’s lecture was drawing to a close. “Splendid. As I said, I must be going. To see the er-“
“The Mamma Mia.”
“Yes, that’s it,” the Doctor rocked back on his shoes and looked up at the stars. He took something from around his neck and handed it to Doom solemnly. “Miss Wright insisted on me wearing this. But, on consideration, I rather think not.”
“Enjoy the theatre,” said Doom.
“We shan't get there of course,” the Doctor admitted ruefully, “But, as I'm sure you've learned, the journey is the important part. Travel wisely, Miss Doom. It’s a long life. Live it well.”
He bowed and walked away towards a small blue box nestled on a broken jetty.
Doom watched him go. “You too, Doctor. And thank you.”
She regarded the feather boa the Doctor had given her, and then, out of habit, checked her Vortex Manipulator. There were no assignments. Of course. The Lesser Order of Oberon was gone.
As a space-time event, the Doctor had a reputation. A magician of chaos. As far as Doom could tell he’d overseen the destruction of a pretty terrible civilisation AND the Universe’s greatest order of assassins in between gigs.
She watched the TARDIS fade away from the jetty, leaving the waters of New Venice to churn against the creaking timbers.
She walked down to the shore and watched the sun set over the dead world and did some thinking. Doom had spotted an opportunity. “Maybe, Doctor, there’s a living to be made in clearing up your mess.”
And then Doom set off to start a whole new day.
Find more adventures on the Doom's Day site.