This fanfic project was inspired by the amazing Jon Pertwee Doctor Who serial Spearhead From Space, and the brass-heavy disco-ish original arrangement of the Doctor Who theme by its principle composer, but not performer, Ron Grainer.
When watching Spearhead From Space, I couldn’t help but notice an almost obsessive repeated motif in the first episode, which goes on for I swear ten minutes, and is obviously reminiscent of the first few bars of the Star Trek theme. Psychic driving, in Doctor Who? Stranger things have happened, but it’s clear that the show was looking for a new direction to go with its switch to acid-swathed color, just like everyone else was in 1970. Star Trek was big, Apollo was big, science was big, hippies were big…Earth was big. This was the golden age of spy-fi. If you were ever going to get an American Who, this is what it would have looked like, and given the persistent talk of a UNIT series at the time, I’m not sure that isn’t what they were going for.
So I got to thinking about who would be cast, what that show would be like if it were written by American writers for American actors. And I never got around to finishing it, but maybe I will now. Without further ado…
Initiative Three: The Nexus
Unaired pilot episode, 1970. Nimoy, Morgan, Crane, Mills. Guest starring Harrison J Ford as USAF Lt Willard Decker.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Starring LEONARD NIMOY
BRIGADIER GENERAL ALAN LIGHTHORSE STEWART
APOLLO ASTRONAUT JOHN COOPER
PRODUCED BY JACK WEBB AND GENE RODDENBERRY
under license from the BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION
Screenplay by DC Fontana and Verity Lambert
(Unaired 1970 NBC pilot)
Above and beyond the normal call of duty, outside what we ask of our servicemen and women, our astronauts, our police, our elected representatives…the challenges of the future and the ghosts of the past collide in one eternal now. Man has leaped beyond his wildest dreams, into a new realm where his grip is no longer firm. These careful, small steps into the 21st century – each a single flap of a butterfly’s wings – are guided by the good men and women at United Nations Initiative Three, a task force of experts from all walks of life and all fields of knowledge. They dare to go where angels fear to tread…they are our guardians in science, government and covert intelligence. And the Doctor, a mysterious stranger, in turn watches over their enterprise.
These are the casefiles of Initiative Three. All of these stories are based on real events, seen through a television screen, darkly. Names have been changed to protect not the innocent, nor the guilty…but you. Join us. On the twilight threshold of an impossible tomorrow.
* * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * *
Amy Oswald was getting real tired of third-grade teaching. The world was a chaotic blur…strange days and day trippers and mysterious strangers, revolutions, powers behind the throne. Ma Bell could promise you transatlantic phone calls with clear sound at the drop of a dime, but she couldn’t put the falcon through to the falconer. And she sure as hell couldn’t order a new world, the way you could order a pizza. Things were definitely different. Not like she’d been promised as a girl.
For once, that was a good thing. But still…teaching? Laura Ingalls Wilder did that! She had a doctorate…a real honest to God PhD. She was in fact better than this. And yet people always told her to keep it under her hat…what better way to influence the next generation than this? At least she was at the head of the class.
She held the book open to page 149 and continued reading, Folktales were always a useful spin on history. “And so the Rider continued on his way, to preach in a new town. Some said for a long time after that he was Davy Crockett. Others that he was Rip Van Winkle, or Paul Bunyan. There were old prospectors who said he was from space, and Yankee immigrants who said he was an angel. He even reminded the Sheriff of the story that had once been told about the stranger who spurred the Framers to sign the Constitution. He was, undoubtedly, an American…even if no one knew where he came from. Maybe that was why. And if the people of Mercy, New Mexico needed second chances…and no one in all of Lincoln County did more than they…then why did his past matter? The End.”
The kids broke out in oohs and ahhs. She tried to hide her rolling eyes, a skill she had grown used to when dealing with psychiatrists. Lithium would fix all her problems…or feminism…or revolution…or pocket calculators. So she heard. Didn’t the people she dealt with know she was a doctor, a scientist? if there was a solution to a hole in the world that had been there since you were a kid, she didn’t know it. Therefore it likely did not exist. Rot at a normal job or go further insane. There was no third alternative.
“Now, class, I’m not going to give any homework on this. It’s not part of the main American History curriculum. But if you want to take the initiative on your own, turn in a small essay on Friday about anything that reminds you of the man in the story you’ve seen or heard of…maybe from your grandparents or a local legend…and I’ll see what I can do.” Like finding a needle in a haystack. They’d need a space probe at this rate. And once you found the needle, you still had to spin a pile of straw into gold before it would do any good.
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Doctor who, General?”
“That’s Brigadier-General, Cooper, although I see no reason to stand on ceremony. That’s the thing. It’s not a name, it’s a title. He has no file number…free agents don’t. Not under the Shadow Proclamation of Initiative Three. The Secretary-General and the President made sure we had such protections under international law ten years ago before…” Alan Lighthorse Stewart cleared his throat darkly.
“Yes, quite. So he’s unsanctioned?”
“Exactly. Black Archive level zero. No records, no number, all official sources expunged, living witnesses unable to be accounted for have…mysteriously disappeared. Much like he himself does on numerous occasions.”
“I see. What does he do?”
“Whatever we want. Also whatever he wants. The trick, Cooper, is to get the two to intersect. I know you’re normally more at home behind the stick of a fighter jet, or testing some advanced spacecraft or lifting body…but we need someone who can think at his level, and also on ours. You have flown into space before, and that’s…close enough for our purposes.”
“If I don’t?”
“You’re a living witness who we can no longer account for, and Apollo 19 countdown demonstration tests may lead to the cancellation of the lunar program. It’d be a shame. You do have a reputation for not following routine safety procedures when in the employ of a government science organization, and that’s why we want you.”
“Hm. Some racket you’ve got here, Stewart.”
“Hey. I’m not running a shady motel. This is a government agency.”
“Like I said. Made men. But you know…what makes a man a man is not who he works for or what his job is, but why.” John Cooper, late of the Apollo Applications Program, reached out his hand to shake,
“Good to have you aboard.” Stewart shook his hand firmly, chewing a cigar with a mischievous gleam in his eye; which reminded Cooper of nothing so much as an eight-year-old caught stealing candy. Or perhaps a toy pistol. “Now let me introduce you to your assistant.”
He keyed the intercom on his desk, which buzzed as if it were very tired indeed. “Yes?”
“Ms Lincoln, please send in Lieutenant Decker.”
The door opened a minute later, and Willard Decker stepped through it. He was young, cocksure, with hair way too long. Nearly to his shoulders. It was obvious he’d earned the last two attributes while retaining the first. “This is Willard Decker. A specialist in field extraction and precision work, lately reassigned from Vietnam. He’s your man if you need anything the Doctor is not willing to handle.”
Or if they can’t handle me, Cooper thought. “He’s…ah…picky?”
“Doctors usually are. First do no harm and all that. Although in my experience the man’s specialty is applying chemotherapy to thwart the spread of measles. He treats the fine art of epidemiology the way meatball surgeons operate in the field. It could simply be that the medical degree gives him the right to ignore what curing disease involves, from his point of view.”
“I see. I think I’m gonna like him.”
“Yes. Think of the Doctor as your left feint and Willard as your right hook.”
Decker shuffled his feet impatiently. “We’ll get you an assignment, Decker…take Cooper to his room. The phone will ring soon enough.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Amy loaded the last of her personal books into her bag. School was out, and she was nearly so. Today had been too long. Minding children while trying to seriously discuss history was not a job, it was passion. And the job had taken the passion out of those things. She had earned the respect of her teachers in college…remarkably so for a woman in the sixties. Especially one who didn’t curry favor with the right professors at the right colleges…or left, as the case may be. She really ought to be working for NASA right now.
These ideas clattered around her brain, cushioned only by dissatisfaction, as she made her way across the parking lot. She barely noticed the man standing next to her car until she was nearly there. “Hello? Who are you?” She tried to sound a little more confident, reaching for her purse…she’d bought a gun for exactly this sort of screwy situation.
“Who I am, Miss Oswald, is none of your concern. However, you may call me the Doctor. Get in the automobile, please.”
She did as she was told, putting her purse on the divider between the seats. She could reach gearshift and pistol alike with the right hand, and running him over would be easier. “What’s going on?”
“United Nations law enforcement personnel will be here to apprehend me in exactly six point seventy-four minutes. We have roughly one third of that time to make an escape.”
“We? Who is we? Are you some sort of terrorist? Are you with the SDS? The Weathermen?”
“No. Not hardly. I will grant your deduction seems rational, insofar as it serves you while testing your powers of control and concentration to the maximum, but it is hardly logical.” He smiled broadly.
“So they tell me.” He laughed, as if he were in the throes of an LSD trip. This was not normal. Not good. Teaching history was normal, and it was beginning to look awfully sexy right now…
“May I get in the car, Miss Oswald?”
“Fine! Just…don’t hurt me.” She had already had all thought of resistance driven from her. This madness was too cool, too calm, too collected…but audacious. It was unlike anything she’d ever seen. There was no self-defense class that covered charming, humorous, acid-tripping mad bombers trying to rape you, and not in a school parking lot!
“I will not. It would serve no rational purpose and it would further endanger my long-term goals.” He buckled himself in with the shoulder belt…the one time she wished her new land yacht didn’t have those.
She put the key in the ignition. “Where to?”
He just looked at her, deadpan serious, a gleam in his eye. Absolutely implacable. His eyes were harmoniously still, yet they seemed as if they were ragged, untempered glimpses into chaos. It frightened her. The worst thing was, that wasn’t all it did. Fidgeting like a teenage girl, she turned the key. Nothing happened. “Oh no.”
He raised a silver tube, about eight inches long, with a gleaming blue light on the end. It hummed, rather high-pitched, like some kind of transistor device might, then clicked. “Try now. There seems to have been a blockage in your fuel lines. I simply reversed the electrical polarity of your spark plugs, and that may have cleared it.”
“You have no idea how cars work.” She rolled her eyes. “Whatever that stuff is, man, you gotta share. You’re like…on Mars.”
“I am above the plane of space and time in general, Miss Oswald.”
“You got that straight.” She turned the key. This time, the Chrysler roared satisfyingly to life. “So how do you know my name?”
He thought for a moment. “You know, I don’t remember. Damnedest thing.” It was then that she noticed the round, slightly ragged hole just over the right breast of his jacket.
END OF PART 1
Initiative Three: The Nexus
Unaired pilot episode, 1970. Part 2 of ??? (serial, length unknown due to lack of actual broadcast slot) Nimoy, Morgan, Crane, Mills. Guest starring Harrison J Ford and an actor unspecified in Desilu/BBC3 production notes.
A loud electronic buzz, like a transformer or three kicking in, obscured the sound of clattering telexes in the UNIT bunker. “The Nexus is opening! Charging sequence beginning, sir.” John Cooper was used to Saturn V rockets and lunar modules. He could not get his head around this.
Alan Lighthorse Stewart had no trouble. An old hand, he was. Likely had been at this since the late 40s, from what Cooper had read. Taking a position at the command console in the center of the room, he barked orders and inquiries like he was firing a Thompson at oncoming Nazis. “Get squads Alpha and Beta to cover the Nexus aperture! Where is the Doctor!”
“He’s…not anywhere, sir. Lifesigns not present. Anywhere. Or when.” The tech who responded reminded Cooper of one of the kids from Mission Control…mid-twenties, pencil-necked nerd, thick glasses…the kind of man you wanted controlling science fiction artifacts in a crisis.
“Recalibrate. He’s gone to ground again. Probably got into something he shouldn’t have.”
“About that…” Willard Decker grimaced. “He was engaging our pursuit squads on Highway 94. Well, they were engaging him. Shot while trying to escape. Real shame.”
Cooper looked at Decker, aghast. This hotshot…he’d just been here! He had any kind of command? Had he just killed their main asset? “Shame?! Is that how you refer to a ridiculous tactical error?”
“I’m a commando, Pops, not a test pilot. I know my drill. I’m not even grounded watching cyclotrons and gaping like a yokel. The shame is that we didn’t apprehend him after…tends to cause delays in reaching full operational readiness.”
“Look, Pops. I know the Moon is the craziest thing you’ve ever laid eyes on, but it’s kind of…ah…tame. I’ve seen Kansas, I’ve seen the Moon. Not much difference. This guy…he rephases. Rewrites his entire DNA chain sooner than you can say ‘and Brer Rabbit lived to see another day.’ It’s not normal. But that’s likely because he’s from Gallifrey.”
“Gallifrey? You’re telling me some Scotsman can…come back from the dead?”
Decker laughed. “He’d love it if you thought he was a Scotsman. The Paperclip files are closed, that’s all I’m sayin’.”
Cooper just gawked. Gawked. Like a country boy looking at his first F-86. It was as good a feeling as it had been the first time. Wonder. Terror. Mostly terror. Cold feet soon.
“He has two hearts. May have one or more recent human ancestors. The files are unclear. But Decker is right. The timeframe of human encounters with the Doctor leaves open the possibility that he had at one point engaged in…questionable political activities. When is unclear.”
“That’s because ‘when’ means about as much to the Doctor as ‘alive’. They’re like what you and I think of as ‘Tuesday’ or ‘bored’. Only less so.” Decker had an incredible cool. A man who had seen it all. None of it phased him. Cooper figured this was because he was always looking a thousand yards ahead of the current crisis. Or because he only knew the files. They were either fairy tales to him, or he was the dragon.
What did that make Cooper?
“Nexus aperture at 75%.” A female voice played on recorded tapes. A blue ring began to open behind a glass overlook. Cooper realized that he had not been that far underground at all…below their overlook, almost a thousand feet down, there was a hole in the world. And it went up…sideways…and made his eyes cross and his head hurt. They had since yesterday, come to think of it.
“Like a rat in a trap.” Stewart grinned. “We’ve got ’em, boys. Squads in position?”
“Open fire once you have visual IFF confirm.”
“What if it’s the Doctor?” The squad leader wasn’t curious, just matter-of-fact. He’d done this before. Like asking his wife whether she wanted 1% or skim.
“Then shoot to kill.”
Yup. If not a rat in a trap, a rat in a maze. A three-dimensional maze of acausal chaos that made him sick to his stomach. There might soon be a doctor in the house…that was good? Or was it bad?
“What the hell is going on, Stewart? You owe me a debrief!” Cooper was not above a little insubordination. Whatever made him useful, and that seemed like it ought to.
“Relax. I’ll explain everything. Short version: this door opens. Things come out. We don’t know where from. Or when. They usually want to kill us.”
“Oh. That’s a convenient procedure.”
“Right, because we’re usually ready for them. Happens a few times a month on average. Less so in summer.”
“It’s the only damned thing that is. Report!”
“Nexus at 91%, Climbing to phase 2.” The voice…it was a recording, but intelligent. They weren’t expecting that for orbital workshops until the 21st century…whoa.
“Phase 2 is when the aperture starts materializing. We have approximately five seconds to match whatever comes out with the database and develop proper procedures to respond to it.”
“What if it’s not in the database? Wouldn’t that take years?”
“Gallifreyan computers. Salvaged from the Doctor’s ship. The database has everything that ever fought in the Last Great Time War…whatever that is. It’s fairly comprehensive.”
“If it was wiped out in this..Time War…then we don’t have to deal with it, correct?”
“Yes. Well, likely. Debatable. Never happened yet.”
“96%. Phase shifting to material stage 1.”
A human form appeared…or a vaguely human-shaped one. It was flanked by two robots…machines…of some sort. Like squared-off, angular Wurlitzers…like the newfangled, ugly plastic garbage cans you saw in restaurants. Green. Puce green, like an oven. With an egg-beater, complete with the gears (no really!) mounted on them like an arm…or a nose? A gun. Maybe. And a single red eye, like the burner on the aforementioned electric oven. A whorl of blazing…he wanted to say hatred, peering, searing hatred, but intensity was a better word. It was electronic, after all. Not like the human, who was confidently posed, its eyes gleaming as they materialized with a blue light shining from them. Overall it — he? maybe! — gave the effect of a dying binary star system, and its machine companions the beings that perhaps occupied that star.
“Greetings…gentlemen. I am…the Doctor!” The human flourished its right arm, expansively indicating the room it found itself in, and perhaps the companions it had brought. “These are Doctor-Allied Compuforms…or Daleks for short! They should be of great use to us for…what’s coming.”
Stewart raised a hand. “Hold your fire. I want him free of rephase psychosis. And these things. Take them into custody in Workshop B.” The squads moved to execute his order…the Daleks remained passive, compliant.
“What’s coming, old man?” Decker addressed the Doctor skeptically.
The Doctor smiled, giving all the impression of a macho American with military bearing trying to act like a scientist and philosopher. A wink here, a slant of the shoulder there…perhaps rephase psychosis had gotten to him rather badly from the previous encounter. This was, to put it bluntly, terrible acting. Not his usual confidence with a new face. “My old..enemy. The Master. He escaped the Last – Great – Time – War. He’s coming…to settle an old score. Gallifreyan bastard. He killed my granddaughter.”
This. This beat the Apollo program any damn day of the week. Cooper was looking forward to this.