The robot’s eyes activated, sensors automatically compensating for the darkness. Grainy retinal scans revealed a closet full of shelves. On those shelves sat two indistinct heads, and a third lay on the floor.
“Identify yourself,” the robot said into the dark.
“Identify myself? To a clearly inferior machine like you? I think not!” a low voice burbled with menace.
“Oh shut up, Davros,” shrieked another voice . “Must you greet every new arrival with xenophobia?”
“My Daleks destroyed your people in the Time War, Morbius, and if you do not accord me the proper amount of respect that is exactly what I will do to you!”
The robot analyzed this new data, cross-checking it against several databases before speaking.
“Davros. Creator of the Daleks. Planet of origin: Skaro,”.
“I am so much more than that!” Davros said, his jar shaking as his head jostled with impotent rage.
“Morbius. Time Lord, planet of origin: Gallifrey. Other data unknown,” the robot added.
“And what of it? Who are you, you mechanical abomination?” Morbius' voice boomed in the small room.
“Model Designation: Cyberman. Colloquial Naming Convention: Handles,” the robot said.
Morbius angrily shook back and forth. “What a stupid name.”
“Insults are not logical,” Handles said, continuing to scan the immediate area. There was one other head near him, but it was showing no life signs.
“I will decide what is and is not logical!” Davros yelled. “For example Morbius, your past schemes to free us from this prison were a perfect example of a complete lack of any logic whatsoever!”
“Yours have been no better!” Morbius said.
“Excuse me,” Handles interjected.
The pair ignored Handles and continued to bicker. As their arguments rose in pitch and intensity, Handles scanned the unidentified head and found familiar cerebral pathways lying inert within the head’s positronic matrix. If he could just transmit the right signal…..
The head awoke, yelling “You will show me the safe route! We are the superior beings! Gold is our only weaknesss……” before falling back into inactivity.
“Cyberman. Early model. Planet of origin: Mondas,” Handles said.
Morbius and Davros cut short their squabbling and turned to Handles.
“Do not wake that abomination. It screamed for days the last time!” Davros said.
“To think that, I, Morbius, who once led the High Council of the Time Lords…” Morbius said.
“Yes, we are all quite familiar with your resume,” Davros snapped.
“I, who was once considered the most comely of the Patrexes, am now reduced to a mere organ in a decanter, surrounded by fools!”
The room fell silent. “Assessment of current environment: correct,” Handles said.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,” screamed the Cyberman head.
“You see?” Davros said, sighing heavily. His breath was laboured, mechanical and brimmed with melancholy.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,” the Cyberman head continued, before finally falling silent.
“Quiet, you fool! You’ll bring back the guard!” Morbius said.
“But hold on, Morbius…this might be precisely what we want!” Davros interjected.
“Explain, prune, and be quick about it,” Morbius said, his voice thick with irritation.
Davros ignored the insult and continued. “If we could somehow draw a guard into the room, we could then incapacitate him and make our escape."
“Continue,” Morbius said hesitantly.
“We will draw the guard in by letting the relic continue to scream, to the point where it incapacitates itself. Once the guard enters, we will further taunt it until it self-immolates.”
“Analysis of plan: insane,” Handles said.
"Quiet, machine, or you will share the fate of your primitive brother on the floor!"
"Analysis: Inaccurate. Mondasian Cyberman is a different make and model. Non-canonical explanation."
"Have you no grasp of metaphor? Honestly, I don't know why I bother with you lesser beings," Morbius said.
"Because," Davros intoned, "if we work together, you will then be able to leave us and rid yourself of what you laughingly call your inferiors."
"What makes you think you are superior to me in any way, mutant?" Morbius shrieked.
"I possess a skull, skin and sensory orifices. For a start," Davros said.
"Analysis: accurate," Handles said.
Morbius bubbled angrily in his jar, but said nothing. Davros stared at him through the glowing blue eye in his forehead, savouring his momentary victory.
“Morbius, though we may disagree on tactics, we concur on strategy. We must both escape and establish where we are beyond this room. I think the new arrival may be of some assistance in this regard.”
“Explain yourself,” Morbius said.
“Though I am the leading intellect of the Kaled race, and you…hold your own, neither of us is a computer. This automaton is precisely that, and appears to have access to both data and an analytic faculty.”
“We can lure the guard in, as per my original plan. We will do so using the wretch,” Davros said, nodding his head towards the defunct Cyberman, “and then, and only then, we will analyze the guard using the new arrival, and ascertain his origin and therefore our current situation.”
“That is the exact same plan you described previously. You have only added…Handles. Incidentally, I must again state that is a very stupid name.”
“Consider the alternative, Morbius. We rot in this jail for an eternity.”
Morbius bubbled sullenly in reply.
“But how will we escape?” he asked.
“Think of this as a reconnaissance mission. My Daleks tend to employ brute force, but sometimes more…subtle methods are required.”
Morbius gurgled thoughtfully before responding. “Alright, Davros, we’ll try your plan. But if it fails, my retribution will be swift and terrible!”
“Yes, I’m sure your jar will bubble incessantly. You there!” Davros swivelled towards Handles, his blue eye glowing with malicious intent.
“Awaiting orders,” Handles said.
“You must obey our every whim, correct?”
“We require you to…”
“Conversation previously logged. I will observe and compile the behaviour, appearance and origin of the guard.”
“Well…yes. Then only the misfit remains!” Davros said, staring at the half broken Cyberman head resting on the floor.
“Uuuurzzzzzzzzzzz,” the head buzzed quietly.
“He does not respond to our speech patterns with anything other than screams. Can you establish an electronic connection and convey our wishes?” Morbius asked Handles.
“Affirmative. Standby,” Handles said. “Completed.”
“Well, what did you tell him?” Davros said.
“I relayed the information,” Handles said. “Execute.”
“The Daleks are the one true race! I was once on the High Council! I am the supreme ruler of all Daleks!” the head shouted, a note of mania creeping into its modulated speech.
“Good, good!” Morbius said. “Can you get him to call out to the guard?”
“Processing,” Handles said.
Sparks flew out of the mouth of the Cyberman head, followed by guttural murmurings.
“Guuuuuuuu….” The head said.
Davros and Morbius arched themselves forward in their jars, watching the head struggle with the new instructions.
“Guuuuuuuaaarrrdds! Guards! Come quickly, I am in danger! Danger! Danger!” the head screamed.
“Why don’t they come?” Davros asked, a note of tension rising in his voice.
“Patience, Davros! We are dealing with sub-functionaries! Give their tiny brains time to react to new stimuli!” Morbius said.
Davros harrumphed tbut said nothing as the head continued to scream.
“Terrible thoughts! They’re making me think terrible thoughts! Please guard, come quickly!” bellowed the head..
The sound of shuffling feet came from outside the corridor, the door quickly sliding upward with a low hydraulic whooshing sound.
Morbius and Davros squinted as light from outside poured into the room. Handles turned down the gain in his sensors and analyzed the new figure in front of him.
“Analysis. Armored soldier. Clone. Origin….unknown. Quantum signature indicates…alternate timeline,” he said.
“Alternate timeline? And I did not detect it? I, who was once on the High Council of the Ti…” Morbius said.
“Silence!” the guard bellowed, his voice ringing with static through his white and black helmet. “What seems to be the problem here?”
“Sending,” Handles said.
“The organics are trying to drive me insane! I must be separated from them, and taken for repairs!” the Cyberman head yelled.
“I’ll have to get my supervisor,” the guard said. “They don’t pay me enough credits for this.”
“Didn’t you hear the robot? He needs repairs! Immediately!” Davros said.
The guard raised his weapon at Davros. “I don’t know where you come from or what you are, but I want you to shut up right now!”
“You dare point your weapon at me?” Davros said.
The trooper fired, point-blank, at Davros, and missed. The energy bolt sliced clean through the Cyberman head on the floor, barely missing the trooper’s foot.
Smoke poured from the Cyberman head’s eye sockets and he let out a low, mournful purr.
“Thank you,” he whispered, and died.
“Well, that turned out about as well as I’d expected, Davros,” Morbius said.
“Do not blame me for the incompetence of this mere jailor, Morbius!” Davros said, spitting angrily. The spittle started drifting past his face, settling on the eye in his forehead.
“What’s an Orrimaarko scum head doing here anyway? Or a B'omarr monk? They only practice in the outer systems!” the guard said, gesturing with his gun towards Morbius.
“Your words are meaningless! Unless…Handles! Analyze!” Morbius said.
“Analyzing. Accessing trooper data device. Identifier: TK-421. Designation: Stormtrooper. Location: Imperial Base 001. Colloquialism: The Death Star.”
“Death Star? Surely my Daleks have built such a magnificently named installation! We are saved!”
“Are you in the habit of being kept prisoner by your own creations, Davros?” Morbius asked.
“That is a private matter,” Davros muttered bitterly.
“Quiet, heads!” the trooper said, and reached for his communicator. “Sir, this is TK-421..yes, I know I’m supposed to be at my post, but…no sir. Well, I think you should come down and see for yourself. Yes sir, right away. Yes.”
The trooper snapped his weapon back up. “Alright, heads! Just simmer down and wait here…”
“What else would you expect us to do?” Morbius asked.
“And we’ll have someone down here to take care of…uh….oh.”
The trooper suddenly snapped to attention. The air seemed to leave the room as a dark shape filled the doorway, sapping away the light into its black form.
A laboured, mechanical breathing echoed through the room. The heads, stunned into silence, gazed into glassy eyes that reflected back distorted visions of themselves. A dark figure stood in the doorway, his armour-clad body swathed in malice.
“The Force is wrong in these ones,” Darth Vader said.
TO BE CONTINUED