A Mission to Destiny
By Eric Van Gisling
When a planet has two suns, it has no night. The planet Mesa in the Pandar system was such a planet - one with an endless day.
There was no life either. Just sand and rocks. Once there was water, but it had long since evaporated. When I said there was no life, I meant no indigenous life, because there at this precise moment in Time, the planet supported a solitary figure.
It was a man. He wore green space fatigues. His face was a blank. His wavy black hair was ruffled and his short dragging steps showed that he had been walking for quite some time, lost in the desert.
He had no idea of where - or who - he was, nor of how he had come to be there. He seemed to be drawn against his will, as if some unseen guiding hand was instructing him. He continued his seemingly purposeless mission. A mission to destiny...
With the usual Dicksish wheezing sound, the TARDIS landed.
The Doctor emerged. This was the first time he had been to Mesa, but the distress beacon had definitely come from this place. A grin spread across his wide face.
Jamming his orange top-hat onto his head on unruly grey hair, and swinging his cane, the Doctor headed off in the direction of the SOS - his hand-held atomic compass pointing the way...
It was a spaceship. Or at least, the remains of one. The wreckage was strewn across the plain - the impact having thrown pieces in all directions. Fuel had leaked out and stained the ground.
In the remains of the cockpit sat a figure. Quite dead, of course - death had been instantaneous. The green space fatigues were spattered in blood, but the name on the ident badge was clearly visible.
The man continued his aimless wanderings. In the distance he saw what looked like a wrecked space craft, although to him it was a shapeless blob on the surface. His feet dragging, he lumbered away from the ruin.
‘I say!’ called out a voice, but the man didn't seem to hear.
‘Cooee - over here!’ the voice returned.
The man did not stop, but he turned his head towards the strange figure that was approaching him - a man dressed in a red fox-hunting coat, black kneeboots and wearing an odd orange hat atop his head.
The stranger came up to the man and stared into his eyes.
Hm, clearly dazed, thought the Doctor. Studying the man's clothes and general condition, the Doctor deduced that the man had come from the wrecked spaceship and had no doubt sent the SOS. The name badge identified the man as D. COOPER.
‘Come on, old boy,’ the Doctor said. ‘Let's take a look shall we?’ The Doctor took the man's arm and guided him to the ruin. The man seemed to pull against the Doctor's support, as if he wanted to get away from what was obviously the cause of the state that he was in.
The ship was that of an Arrow Class scout vessel. The Doctor recognized it immediately, having seen them during the Cyber-Dalek War.
‘Hm - nasty business, eh what?’ the Doctor said, mainly to himself. He usually talked to himself - it was the best way to have a decent conversation.
Carefully avoiding stepping in the fuel-soaked ground the Doctor leaned into the cockpit to study the dead pilot. The features were scorched, the flesh burned away - but the man's name was clearly visible on the badge - D. COOPER.
The Doctor frowned. Surely the chances of there being two Arrow pilots with the same name must be astronomical? He then noticed that the craft was only a single seater. He stood up and saw the other Cooper pushing against a loose metal strut, as if trying to move away but trapped like a caged animal. The strut was scraping against another, and a small shower of sparks flew out.
‘Crikes!’ shouted the Doctor as he realised the sparks could ignite the fuel. Unfortunately he was too late.
At that moment, the spacecraft exploded into a massive fireball...
After what seemed like an eternity later, the Doctor staggered to his feet. He looked around him but his vision was foggy. In fact, he had no idea who, or where he was. He looked down at his clothes - they were in tatters. He then spied a box which had been thrown clear of the ship.
The box was marked D COOPER in stencilled lettering and inside, the Doctor found a spare set of space fatigues and a food parcel. He put the coveralls on and ate the food. Feeling slightly better he staggered away from the wreckage. He had no idea of how he got there, but some unseen force seemed to be guiding him somewhere else.
Although the spacecraft had been blown to pieces, the cockpit had somehow managed to remain intact. The cowling suddenly moved and lifted. A figure pulled itself out of the wreckage and collapsed in a heap on the ground. The green coveralls he wore were slightly singed - but otherwise unmarked.
The man shook his head to clear it - and suddenly it all came flooding back; the explosion and... and... and, what? There was something else - no, some one else.
The man then caught his reflection in the mirrored glass of the cockpit. Expecting to see a grey-haired, wide face, he now saw a tall, thin, red-headed visage.
Ah, of course; the explosion must have caused me to regenerate, the Doctor reasoned. Makes sense. Pity though - I'd only just gotten used to the previous one. Oh well, no problem - still one more left. Must be careful not to waste it, he thought.
The Doctor looked down at his clothes. Who on Earth - Mesa! - was D. COOPER? Once I find the TARDIS, I'll change. How about an Afghan coat, he mused.
Ah, but where is the TARDIS? How will I find it? The Doctor smiled. Didn't really matter - the TARDIS would find him! He recalled how on previous occasions it had guided him towards it following each regeneration.
Relaxing, the Doctor set off. It was a lovely day, and the twin suns shone brightly...
Elsewhere, a lone figure in a green space overall dragged its feet in a seemingly endless search. But the Doctor had no recollection of where he was - or who he was. Post-regenerative trauma was always the same, but the purpose was also the same. A mission... of destiny...
This item appeared in Timestreams 4 (April 1992).