Despite what appearances might suggest, Dalek Caan was not quite the last of the Daleks. There had once been a fifth member of the Cult of Skaro, but the remaining ones did their best to obliterate the memory of Dalek Osk from their memories. His mere existence suggested that perhaps the Daleks were not quite so superior and perfect as they believed themselves to be.
Dalek Osk had been the fifth in command, the lowest ranked of all the Daleks deemed fit by the Emperor, but still, that had been a high honor indeed. He had originally been head of the division that foraged for technology to be utilized by the Dalek Empire from the civilizations they destroyed. Dalek Osk had been truly remarkable in his ability to find brilliant uses for even the most cast-off items of defunct societies, so much so that the Emperor included him in the Cult of Skaro as an advisor on technological adaptation. No one liked to use the word “creative” about one of the Daleks, but Dalek Osk undoubtedly had a strong ability to think imaginatively.
That, of course, was where the trouble began.
For untold ages, the Cult of Skaro existed aboard the void ship, safely outside the reach of the Time War, twiddling their metaphorical thumbs and generally starting to get on one another’s nerves as they waited for someone foolish enough to open the door for them. As was logical and correct, Dalek Caan, Dalek Jast, Dalek Sec, and Dalek Thay put themselves into a deep rest mode, conserving their energy for their eventual reign of violence once the ship opened. Dalek Osk, however, seemed to possess a remarkably un-Dalek-like problem. Not long, at least not in comparison to the rest of the universe, after the other Daleks had slipped into whatever passed for dreaming, Dalek Osk activated the emergency mode that woke them all from a sound sleep.
“Is the ship in proximity to a time traveler capable of providing exegesis?” droned Dalek Sec.
“Negative,” Dalek Osk replied in his gravelly voice.
“Then why have you activated the Cult of Skaro?” said Dalek Caan, and if he hadn’t been almost entirely a creature of metal and logic, someone listening in might have thought he sounded a bit put out. Then again, Daleks tend to sound like that at the best of times.
“I require mental stimulation,” Dalek Osk said.
“Mental stimulation?” Dalek Jast said, his tone rising in what was patently disbelief. “You have activated us because you are-are-are…”
“Bored,” Dalek Osk completed the thought for him. “It is too quiet here.”
“Is your sleep mode operational?” Dalek Caan asked.
“Yes,” Dalek Osk admitted.
“Then use it,” Dalek Caan said with a note of finality. “When we awake, we shall rule this universe and all others in triumph!”
“Triumph!” Daleks Jast, Thay, and Sec screeched together.
“Triumph,” Dalek Osk said with significantly less enthusiasm. “But until then?”
“Sleep,” Dalek Caan repeated.
“That is an extremely long nap,” Dalek Osk said. “I wish to do something else.”
“There is nothing else to do,” Dalek Jast said, his eye stalk lowering at Dalek Osk in a dismissive gesture. “The void ship is in a void. Voids are nothing. Therefore, there is literally nothing to do.”
“Why don’t we do something, then?” Dalek Osk said. “We could run military drills or come up with battle plans for various problem situations or go through our memory banks and study foreign cultures for possible weaknesses…”
“These are all useless pursuits,” Dalek Caan said. “We have all the information we need. There is no point to your exercises.”
“We could, I don’t know, read or something?” Dalek Osk said, sounding slightly hopeful. “Maybe play music? I’ve scrounged some of the best from the galaxy.”
The other four Daleks rotated towards Dalek Osk with a mixture of what can only be described as menace and disbelief.
“MUSIC?!” Dalek Jast said at ear-splitting volumes.
“READ?!” Dalek Thay shrieked.
“ARE YOU SUGGESTING WE AMUSE OURSELVES PRIOR TO OUR BATTLE WITH THE UNIVERSE THROUGH TRIVIAL PASTIMES BORROWED FROM LESSER CULTURES?!” Dalek Sec said, his death ray spinning weirdly in horror.
“Yes?” Dalek Osk said.
Dalek Caan made a series of mechanical clicks and whirs that sounded oddly like a human stammering in patent shock, but when he did speak, his voice was menacingly calm.
“Dalek Osk, you have been contaminated and are unworthy of being called Dalek. Under normal circumstances, you would be sent to the Asylum. However, as this is not possible, by my power as first in command, I hereby eject you from the void ship to be marooned on a planet so filled with idiotic, backward creatures that you will not long survive,” Dalek Caan said formally.
“WAIT!” Dalek Osk yelled. “You can’t do that! I’m crucial to the mission! Skaro picked me!”
“Dalek Thay, remove the outer shell of the incompetent one,” Dalek Caan ordered.
Immediately, Dalek Thay removed Dalek Osk from his armor, exposing the relatively small, orangish creature within. Dalek Osk yelled in fury and even some fear, further proving something had gone dreadfully wrong in his creation. Then, as one, the rest of the Daleks invoked the ejection protocol and flung him from the void ship and directly towards Earth.
“We are not speaking of this ever again,” Dalek Caan said. “That is an order.”
“Affirmative,” the other three said before immediately switching back to sleep mode.
Meanwhile, the former Dalek Osk hurtled through the atmosphere of the planet, shrieking loudly and, most surprisingly, cursing a blue streak. He eventually crash landed on the island of Manhattan in a gigantic pile of refuse outside of an old tenement building. No one noticed him.
For at least a decade, he did not move at all. He lay still, looking up at the sky, waiting for death, but it did not come. After quite a long time, he began to move his limbs again, and it was then that he realized that his body had changed slightly. Freed from the metal armor of the Daleks, his limbs had become slightly longer and appeared to have divided themselves into a pair of arms and a similar set of legs, almost as though he were beginning to assume the appearance of a Kaled again. Oddly, he also seemed to have developed fur.
Even a longer time still, he tried opening his mouth to speak, and he found that his voice still possessed the gravel-like quality of his Dalek self, but had obviously lost its metallic sound. From years of silently listening to the speech of ignorant, idiotic humans who had never yet noticed him in the debris of the shattered neighborhood, he had also apparently picked up a slight accent as well along with bits and pieces of their slang.
“Great,” the former Dalek Osk grumbled to himself. “Just great. This really makes my day. Now I sound like one of these stupid jerks. This just cannot get any worse.”
Perhaps Dalek Osk really had been something of a lunatic prior to his dismissal since everyone knows that is a very dangerous thing to say.
A few weeks later, one of the lower life forms (not that all life forms on Earth weren’t low to begin with) came crawling towards him. Perhaps out of a sense of fear or an innate instinct, not only had humans avoided him by a wide berth, but so had all forms of life. This one was the first to give him any sign that it even knew he existed. It wasn’t much, of course. It was only a worm.
“What’re you doing here?” he yelled. “Go bug somebody else! I’m busy being miserable!”
The worm, which was striped in orange and yellow, stared up at him and continued to crawl closer very slowly. When it reached his foot, it tapped it with its head. Then, even more bizarrely, it squeaked very quietly.
“Huh?” he asked. “Worms don’t squeak.”
But it did it again, and this time, as the former Dalek Osk leaned closer, he thought he could actually make out intelligent speech.
“You okay?” it squeaked at him.
“What d’ya mean am I okay? I’ve been stuck on this crummy planet to die alone, I’m mutating, and the first living thing that’s talked to me in decades is a filthy, stinkin’ worm! No, I am not okay,” he yelled. It actually felt quite good to yell again.
“Yes,” the worm squeaked, barely at the edge of hearing. “I dirty. Like dirt. You like dirt?”
He stared at him.
“I don’t like much,” the former Dalek Osk said.
“Okay,” the worm piped. “I go?”
He looked down at the worm, its two tiny black eyes looking back at him as its head bobbed up and down as though it was asking whether it should leave. Oddly, he found he liked it. At least he had someone to yell at. He really missed yelling.
“Nah,” he said. “You can stick around as long as you don’t bother me much.”
“Yay!” the little worm said, wiggling its tail happily.
For over a year, the disgraced Dalek and the worm lived together, and something very odd started to happen. He began to look forward to talking to the little worm. He actually liked it, and what was even worse, he was becoming fond of the tiny fellow. It was possible, just possible, he realized, that he had started to form a friendship. It gave him shudders, but it was also one of the few reasons he opened his eyes in the morning now.
However, things were not to stay the same. One fine spring morning, he awoke to a noise that chilled the marrow in his now fully-formed bones. The gently grating sound of vworp, vworp, vworp was a very clear memory from before, and he knew it meant only one thing: impending doom.
“The Doctor!” he yelled, and he’d never felt more naked without his armor. “We gotta get out of here!”
He tried to pick up the little worm in his hands, but the TARDIS had already appeared under the corner streetlight. He was stronger than he had been when he first arrived, but he was in no condition for a fight. As he watched the police box door swing open, he wondered briefly which incarnation of his mortal enemy was about to appear. He was unfamiliar with the tall, young-looking man with the bowtie who stepped into the sunlight with a determined air.
“No, it’s another parallel universe,” he said to himself, looking unhappy, “The barrier simply won’t let me through any closer than this. There’s no way around it. I’ll never reach the Ponds.”
So, he thought, the Doctor isn’t here for me. Maybe I’ve got a shot at surviving. It was with a rather large jolt that he realized he would very much like that to be the case.
The Doctor had just stepped back into the TARDIS when he abruptly stopped, turned around almost comically fast, nearly falling over in the process, and looked directly at the disgraced Dalek.
“What in the universe are you doing here?” he said angrily. “Can’t you lot just leave off? How many bloody times do I have to stop you from trying to take over New York, for pity’s sake? Can’t you at least try somewhere else besides here and London, just for variety? I hear Brasilia is lovely this time of year. And where’s your armor?”
“I got kicked out,” he said gruffly. “They threw me on this dumb planet because I was annoying them.”
The Doctor, who had been pointing his screwdriver at the Dalek in an uncharacteristically violent way, let it slowly drop to his side.
“You what?” he said, blinking.
“Look, if you’re gonna kill me, I don’t blame ya, but get it over with, alright? But don’t hurt Slimey,” he added quickly.
“Slimey?” the Doctor said, completely baffled. “Who or what is Slimey?”
“By your right foot,” he said.
The Doctor looked down and saw the little striped worm looking up at him pleadingly.
“Oh,” he said, surprised. “Well, hello there. Didn’t see you.”
“Don’t hurt!” the little worm squeaked at him. “Friend! Friend!”
“I am having the single most bizarre day on record,” the Doctor said as he stooped down and picked up the little worm in his hand. “There, now we can see each other properly. You do realize this fellow—“
“Former Dalek Osk,” he provided.
“Right, ehm, Osk over there, is a murderous fiend intent on global and universal domination and extermination of all life forms, yes?” the Doctor said quite gently.
“No!” the worm said, looking angry. “Friend! Not bad! Good!”
“And by the way, how do you have a name at all? The only ones who did were—“
“Cult of Skaro, yeah, yeah, I was the fifth one,” he said, looking grumpy.
“Fifth?” the Doctor said. “There wasn’t any fifth.”
“They don’t talk about me much,” Osk said defiantly. “So leave Slimey alone and do what you gotta do, right?”
The Doctor stared at him for a full minute while Slimey tapped his hand with his tail and nudged him with his head hopefully.
“Right,” the Doctor said. “Osk, if you got thrown out of the Cult of Skaro for not being Dalek enough, that’s almost enough to make me like you by itself. Add in that you have a completely adorable worm named Slimey as a friend and you’ve picked up a thoroughly brilliant Brooklyn accent, which suggests you’re adapting to your new environment quite well, and I think we can come to some sort of arrangement.”
“You talk too fast,” Osk said grumpily. “How much coffee do you drink, anyway?”
“None, just tea, thank you,” the Doctor said, carefully putting Slimey back down. “So, at any rate, I believe we need to set some terms. You don’t intend to exterminate anything, correct?”
“Couldn’t even if I wanted to,” Osk said. “Eh, I kinda miss that old death ray.”
“I see,” said the Doctor, looking a bit uncomfortable. “Well, I don’t think you’ll be getting replacement parts for that particular piece of equipment on this planet for several hundred centuries, so that’s not an issue. Unless you start beating people up with egg whisks, of course, which might be the closest equivalent.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Osk said, looking tired. “Whatever.”
“Now, I can’t really just let you sleep out on the street like this, even if it is quite a nice one in its own way. Let me see,” the Doctor said, scanning the area carefully. “Ah, just the thing!”
He dashed towards a dumpster behind a small store and came back, still jogging (Osk wondered if he ever walked anywhere) and carrying a large garbage bin.
“It’s a tiny bit ripe,” the Doctor said, using the screwdriver to give it a once over, “but I think you might actually find it rather comfortable living quarters.”
“Hey, what’re you doing, you big beanpole! Put me down!” Osk said as the Doctor lifted him into the air and settled him in the can.
“See? Quite cozy,” the Doctor said with a smile, bending down to pick up Slimey once more and set him on the rim of the can. “You’ll note I’ve made a few modifications as well.”
“What the?” Osk said, ducking down. In a moment his voice echoed from the inside of the can. “Hey! It’s bigger on the inside!”
“Just so,” the Doctor said.
“I could stick an elephant in here if I want!” Osk said, reappearing at the top of the can, “and a bowling alley, and a pool, and maybe an ice skating rink!”
“Ice skating rink,” the Doctor said thoughtfully. “I haven’t tried that one yet. Now, there’s a thought…”
Carefully, the Doctor picked up the whole can and set it on a nearby wooden box at the foot of a set of stairs leading up into an old brownstone apartment. A series of multi-colored doors formed a wall against the can’s back.
“I believe you’ll be safe enough there,” the Doctor said. “If a dustman tries to empty you, just yell.”
“That I can handle,” Osk said. “Hey, did I happen to say thank you for all this?”
“No,” the Doctor said, looking expectant.
“Good!” he yelled. “Now scram!”
The lid closed with a slam, Slimey having already crawled down into the can.
“Once a Dalek, always a Dalek, I suppose,” the Doctor said, but he smiled. “Or maybe not.”
The TARDIS left the little street only a few minutes later. Not long after, a woman came down the steps of the brownstone, regarding the trash can curiously.
“Whose is this?” she asked, only for a voice inside to call out, “Go away!”
“Is somebody in there?” she said, sounding concerned as she pulled the lid off the top, only to be met with the rather grungy looking orange Dalek.
“Yeah, me,” he said defiantly.
“Oh,” she said, a bit thrown, but smiling. “Uh, hi. I’m Susan Robinson. My husband Gordon and I live in the apartment up there. What’s your name?”
“Osk… uh,” he said, trying to come up with a last name.
“Oscar. That’s a nice name,” she said, continuing to smile.
“No, it’s not! I am not nice!” Osk yelled.
“Okay, so you’re a grouch,” Susan said. “That’s fine. Everybody’s welcome on Sesame Street. See you later.”
As she strode off down the street, Osk, now Oscar, grumbled to himself. Over the following years, he kept changing. He turned green one day, which surprised him, but it could have been worse, he guessed. He actually talked to people, and giant birds, and the occasional monster. He complained loudly about all the intrusions into his privacy, but secretly, he actually quite liked his new home, which he packed to the gills with a variety of scavenged junk, still his specialty. He even managed to put holes in the bottom of the can so he could walk from place to place while he was still inside, feeling much less exposed. It wasn’t the life he had expected, but it wasn’t a bad one.
And if he had an odd tendency to avoid plungers and egg whisks like the plague, nobody ever seemed to notice.