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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

BLACK AND GREY

The Twelfth Dr. prevented his body from flinching with each step as he forced
himself onwards. The Twelfth Manager – the one who had orchestrated the attack on The
Mercury Rooms with Buster and captured Red, a memory that seemed so far in The Dr.’s
past – was far too busy marching ahead, certain of his own superiority to notice how
much agony The Dr. was suffering through.
He allowed himself to glance at the skin under his grey sleeve. It had turned a
deep black colour, much like his torso. The infection was spreading. The Dr. was not
ready to allow whatever Raljex had done to him to keep him from his mission. The
Twelfth Dr. had realized far too late in life that the Universe was full of evil. There were so
many enemies left out there that would have free reign once The Dr. came to the end of
his lives. All loose ends had to be cleared away.
His attempt to bring down Raljex had been on his list of finalities. In truth, he had
expected Raljex to destroy him completely, which was why the so-called Supreme Being
had been at the very end of The Dr.’s list. At least, he had been when The Dr. went to
face him. Apparently, the Universe was a breeding ground for malevolence and more
bringers of destruction than The Dr. could count had sprung up seemingly overnight.
The Dr. was a firm believer in balance, harmony, in there being equilibrium
throughout the Universe. Unfortunately, that meant there had to be evil for there to be
good. The Universe needed nemeses and that’s what it provided.
It didn’t mean The Dr. had to like it. He was already well over four-thousand years
into this incarnation, any day now, he would go through the change and begin to age, as
all Video Lords did when they reached this age whether they liked it or not. Most chose to
allow the ageing process to progress from three-thousand, as was recommended, but The
Twelfth Dr. had needed his continued youth in order to battle evil everywhere. It would
take about three hundred years for him to go from the twenty-something he appeared to
an aged-geriatric. The Dr. intended to carry on fighting until he could no longer lift his
laser-sword. Not before. Whatever this black poison was, he was going to beat it. He kept
telling himself that. He was going to beat it. But there was that tiny voice that echoed
afterwards “but I know that I can’t”, and that voice was getting louder.

‘Well,’ The Manager said from the end of the wooden-lined hallway they had been walking
down. ‘I’m going to certainly enjoy this,’ he added with a cruel smirk and sauntered off
with a definite super-villain-esque stroll – after all, for a few millennia, he was Mesmaron
and learned a thing or two about super-villainy – into the daylight that streamed into the
darkened passageway.
The Dr. followed in his wake, already fairly certain of what lay ahead. He could
hear a chanting crowd, he could smell damp hay coupled with the unmistakable odour of
horses. In terms of the Medieval realm they were now battling in, it was fairly safe to
assume what he was going to be facing.
‘Jousting,’ The Dr. said as he stepped out onto the field and winced as another bolt of
excruciating pain flowed through his body. ‘Perfect,’ he cursed and strode off to the
opposite end of the field to The Manager, who was already allowing his assistants to
strap on his battle-armour.
The Dr. knew the alien assistants well; it was clear from their own battle-armour
that looked uncannily like that of Ice-Hockey Players, right down to the Hockey-stick
batons they brandished. They had been one of his most dangerous foes in his earliest
incarnations, but they were a distant memory to him now. These were ghosts from his
past trudged up to disturb him, but it would take more than a little bit of pain and the
presence of his old foes The De-Icer Warriors to sway The Twelfth Dr.’s resolve.
He just wasn’t sure how much more it would actually take. From the speed at
which the infection was spreading, he didn’t estimate it to be a great deal.
‘Wow, check out the Super Dr.,’ McKellion whistled, banging his boxing gloves together
as The Dr. approached the group of Allucians that had assembled around his pavilion.
‘Good to see you again, McKellion,’ The Dr. nodded. Pretending that nothing was wrong
was wearing him down, but it was necessary to keep up appearances. If The Manager
even suspected for an instant that something was wrong, then this game would be lost
before it even began.
‘How’s everything going?’ Elion questioned abruptly. ‘Are we winning or not?’
‘The score is currently tied,’ The Dr. said shortly as he began to put on the armour that
had been laid out in the Pavilion for him. He gritted his teeth as he bent and stretched to
fasten the couplings, belts and straps.
‘A tie?’ Elion exclaimed as he and Lord Skwizzal helped The Dr. on with his breastplate.
‘Are you serious?’
‘It would appear that myself and The Manager are evenly matched,’ The Dr. replied
simply.
‘I would beg to differ,’ the slightly distorted voice of Skelifish said as he strode out of the
Pavilion holding The Dr.’s helmet. ‘From what I’ve seen so far, you’re the better man, Dr.’
‘I appreciate the sentiment,’ The Dr. nodded gruffly as he put on his helmet and mounted
the horse that was awaiting him. ‘But words will do us little good here. Actions invariably
speak louder in this contest.’
‘Well,’ Elion shrugged, handing The Dr. his lance. ‘Stick this down The Manager’s throat.
That action should be louder than any words.’
‘PICKLES!’ The Resident Old Man screamed from his wheelchair as he dribbled down his
cardigan.
‘Well,’ Elion shrugged. ‘Louder than the words that count …’
The Dr. shook his head. Partially out of nostalgia for the time he spent within The
Mercury Rooms, partially out of the ridiculousness of the situation, but mostly because
of the overwhelming pain that was surging through him. Without waiting for the signal,
The Dr. rode forwards to meet The Manager in contest.
‘I think this should go well,’ McKellion said giddily. ‘Once The Dr. knocks The Manager
off his horse, y’know what I’m gonna do?’
‘Surprise us,’ BJ huffed.
‘I’m not gonna rape him, if that’s what you’re thinking,’ McKellion frowned indignantly. ‘I’
not some two-dimensional character with only one principal in life.’
‘No?’ BJ raised an eyebrow.
‘Course not,’ McKellion sniffed. ‘Am going to take one of these lances and roger him with
it!’
There was a short, uncomfortable silence between the Allucian assistants before
Elion coughed and spoke up. ‘That would be … raping him with a lance …’
‘It’s not really rape,’ McKellion protested. ‘More soddomy with an inanimate object. It’s
completely different. It’d be better if I had one of them big gentlemen’s umbrellas, but one
of them long, sharp, pointy lances will do the trick just fine.’
‘I’ve got mental images now,’ Lord Skwizzal complained.
‘Me too,’ BJ nodded. ‘Worse than when Skwizzal went through that phase of being an
amateur Chippendale.’
‘I’ve got green stuff growing between my teeth!’ ROM cried.
‘I’d rather not of heard any of that conversation,’ Elion said as he turned to Skelifish.
‘Everything go okay in the other dimension?’
‘I wouldn’t exactly say that it went “okay”, no,’ Skelifish replied sagely. ‘Chris became a
Martian once more and we managed to destroy Alpha.’
‘What’s not okay about that?’ Elion frowned.
‘We lost Neil,’ Skelifish sighed. ‘Turns out he was a sleeper agent for some government
organisation.’
‘What?!’ BJ scowled.
‘It’s true!’ McKellion nodded. ‘I was there, I saw it.’
‘He didn’t even know himself,’ Skelifish continued. ‘But he was programmed to come
after a list of people that helped to take down a certain string of genetic research labs. A
team of three individuals that infiltrated the facilities and destroyed them from the inside
out … sound familiar?’ He asked, looking at Elion with narrowed eyes.
‘Yeah,’ Elion replied shortly. ‘Yeah, it does.’
‘He wasn’t just after you, Will-ko and The Dr. though. Once you’d destroyed a few labs,
they became suspicious of new employees and recorded every move they made, every
thing they said, every one they discussed.’
‘Oh, shit,’ Elion scowled.
‘You talked about a whole lot of people, Elion. I would have thought The Dr. would have
exercised more caution than that. Neil’s got a list of practically everyone we know. The
members, the Moderators, the Administrators … even The Manager’s on his list. He shot
Chris and Freaka-chu already, thankfully they both have their own ways to recover. The
rest of us aren’t all that fortunate in self-regeneration. Neil’s orders are that the people
on his list have to be dead. Not nearly dead. Clinically Dead.’
‘But you said you lost him,’ Elion clucked.
‘He took out the containment field on Alpha’s miniature black-hole. Both of them were
sucked into it. We have no idea if they survived or not. If they’re dead … then it’s one
more friend for us to mourn … but if L96A1 survived at all …’
‘I know,’ Elion nodded. ‘It’ll be like having the fucking Terminator after us.’
‘Well, if The Dr. messes up,’ Lord Skwizzal interjected. ‘We won’t have to worry about
Neil. It’s like having our lives put on the outcome of a coin-toss. I keep wondering
whether or not we’d have been better off simply going along with the way things were.’
‘You mean being slaves of The Manager?’ Elion hissed angrily.
‘We’d have found a way out,’ Lord Skwizzal insisted. ‘You guys always find a way out of
these crazy messes. Something would have turned up eventually.’
‘I prefer things this way,’ Skelifish said sternly, giving his scythe a test swing. ‘If things
go the way I think they will, then this day will at least see one victory, even if The Dr.
does not succeed.’
‘What are you talking about now?’ Elion huffed.
‘It’s simple,’ Skelifish started, but whatever he was going to say next was lost as the
crowd in the stands – that comprised of an assortment of the strangest creatures the
Mercury Room members had ever seen – roared.
Whether the roar was in triumph or negativity was completely indistinguishable.
Whatever their thoughts on the matter, the fact was clear. The Dr. had collapsed.
‘Come on,’ Skelifish grunted, shouldering his scythe as he and the others raced down the
field to where The Manager was standing over his fallen adversary.
‘This is unacceptable,’ The Manager glowered as they approached. ‘He fell before I had a
chance to unseat him.’
‘You’re talking as though you care,’ Elion snorted at The Manager he recognized as being
the one that had conspired with Buster to kidnap Red and destroy the Administrators.
‘Of course I care!’ The Twelfth Manager thundered. ‘If I cannot defeat him at his strongest
then I may as well be facing one of you lowly peasants!’
‘I thought you were all about exploiting weaknesses,’ Elion retorted. ‘Going for the easy
win.’
‘You understand nothing of our race, pleb,’ The Manager snorted. ‘All is fair in war, but if
you are not the one to defeat your opponent then you cannot claim the victory. The same
is the case here. If The Dr. is incapacitated in this match by anything other than myself
then it will be declared a null and void tie.
‘That is, unless, The Dr. can grow a spine and mount his steed, ready to compete.’
‘I don’t think he’ll be mounting anything for a while,’ McKellion said, unable to giggle at
his own innuendo as looked down at the face he had revealed after removing The Dr.’s
helmet.
‘By the moons of Betamax!’ The Manager cursed as he leered into The Twelfth Dr.’s face,
ravaged with horrific black lesions and deadly-looking sores. The Video Lord’s eyes were
as dark as space itself as they rolled back in his skull.
The Manager cursed again and tore off his gloves. ‘There is no challenge here,’ he
spat. ‘Somebody has already seen to that.’
‘I think he’s going to die,’ Lord Skwizzal said, removing his stovepipe hat.
‘Of course he’s going to die,’ The Manager exclaimed. His next incarnation is waiting
outside. Don’t be so simple …’
‘I meant, he’s going to die soon,’ Skwizzal retorted.
‘Any moron could deduce as much you fool,’ The Manager said, waving off The De-Icer
Warriors who had started to mass around them, brandishing their weapons and looking
longingly upon The Dr.’s prone and defenceless form, chanting some mutilated variation
of “We will rock you” in their hissing snake-like language.
‘We’re done here,’ The Manager snapped. ‘There will be no game, and I curse the one
responsible for The Dr.’s current state. He should not have been brought here in this
condition. I cannot fight an unworthy opponent. Raljex should have known that … The
Dr. should have known that …’ The Manager’s face suddenly contorted with even more
rage. He looked down into The Dr.’s eyes and sneered. ‘Oh, well played Dr.,’ He nodded.
‘Well played indeed.’
‘What do you mean, “well played”?’ Elion demanded.
‘Oh, don’t be a fool all of your life,’ The Manager puffed. ‘Isn’t it obvious? The Dr. was so
very intimidated by me that he had to resort to poisoning himself so he could no longer
compete. Oh, it’s so deviously cunning I should have thought of it.’
‘We both know The Dr. wouldn’t do something like that,’ Skelifish interrupted. ‘He’s no
coward.’
The Manager rounded on the Reaper and glared into his black eyes. If he was
going to comment, he never got the chance as everything suddenly went white and the
game was brought to a close.

‘Did you know about this?’ The Twelfth Manager demanded of Raljex as he burst out of
the door into the dungeon hall. He ignored the sounds of The Twelfth Dr. collapsing
through the portal behind him and squared up to Raljex. ‘Did you know he was unfit to
compete?’
‘What of it?’ Raljex shrugged. ‘The Dr. chose to compete. It is no business of mine if
he did not forfeit prior to the match taking place. His own stubbornness was the
undoing of the match. The game is moot. The score remains tied.’
‘Then surely I should be able to compete again,’ The Twelfth Manager said angrily. I have
been denied my chance to participate in the events and thusly, I cannot be sent away.’
‘You have had your chance,’ Raljex shrugged. ‘Though, under the circumstances, I
will allow you both to stay on as spectators. Though you will no longer be able to
compete.’
‘You want to keep him here?!’ The Tenth Manager shouted, pulling his Twelfth
incarnation to his feet. ‘He needs medical attention! He’s going to die!’
‘Then he will degenerate,’ Raljex said simply. ‘It is the way of things.’
‘You heartless bastard,’ The Fourth Dr. spat.
‘Correct,’ Raljex nodded dangerously. ‘But do not presume to test my patience, Video
Lord. I am holding these games at my discretion. It will take little effort from me
to call it all off. One snap of my fingers and you go back to where you came from.
Would that be a more preferable outcome for you?’
The Fourth Dr. did not answer. He narrowed his eyes at Raljex and helped his
Tenth and First incarnations to lie Twelfth down on a wooden table in the corner of the
room.
‘Well then,’ The Twelfth Manager coughed, clapping his hands. ‘Shall we get the next
game underway?’
‘It is already in progress,’ Raljex replied, motioning to a window one the other side of
the room. ‘For some reason, The Dr.’s Thirteenth incarnation found my company
distasteful and chose to put himself forward as the next combatant. He intoned
that these trials were becoming overly-long and tiresome. I agreed and doubled-up
the contest. Two Dr.’s and two Managers are currently playing.’
The Twelfth Manager looked around at those who were still present. He crossed to
his own Thirteenth incarnation. ‘Fifth and Ninth?’
‘Of course,’ The Thirteenth Manager nodded. ‘The Dr. sent in his final incarnation and
his simpleton Seventh form. We did not need our strongest combatants to face them.’
As The Manager spoke, the door to the other game room opened and the victors
emerged.
‘You were sayin’,’ The Tenth Dr. chuckled as the Thirteenth Dr. emerged, looking overly-
sombre under the circumstances.
‘I thought you said that it was the Seventh Dr. who competed,’ The Twelfth Manager
snapped. ‘What is the meaning of this?’ He pointed to the second person that exited the
room. It was the Eighth Dr., his curly black hair bobbing as he stepped into the dungeon
hall wearing the orange overalls that was The Seventh Dr.’s trademark outfit. A large
bloodstain covered the front of the garment.
‘We had some problems,’ The Eighth Dr. puffed.