In the distant dark of time and space the Skal’Potar were waging a war. Uncountable lives were lost. In the middle of the war, an ancient warrior appeared to challenge their king. His teeth flashed white, his hair curled like a thousand talons.
The Skal’Potar’s king had made a weapon that became known as the Axe of Gilgamesh. It merged with the king’s mind and gave him power over matter – over life and death, and fuelled his lust for blood.
The curly haired warrior split the king from the weapon apart and banished the weapon into the vortex. But the Axe of Gilgamesh fled through time and space seeking a new host. It found Upper Fiddly in Hobbshire, in the Winter of 2016…
* * *
The Doctor sipped his tea and thumbed the Time Ring in his pocket. Minutes earlier he had arrived in the back garden of an elderly lady, making a small crater in her flowerbed. He’d awoken to the smell of tea.
“Yorkshire Gold!” His eyes snapped open.
“You’re in my begonias.” The lady put the tea on the grass and wandered indoors gesturing to the Doctor to follow.
In her kitchen, Doctor leaned against the wall where a calendar displayed December 2016. The lady, Florence Martin sat at the table. “Florence, do you often find strange men making holes in your back garden. Not that I’m ungrateful only you don’t seem very surprised.”
“There’s a war on isn’t there.”
“Is there?” His eyes widened.
She touched her nose knowingly and gave him a wink. “I expect you’re with the air force?”
“Well in a manner of speaking. I do fly here and there. Forgive me, what year is it?”
“Oh you are daft.”
“Indulge me.” He grinned back at her.
She frowned. “It’s nineteen. Oh- nineteen forty- Now isn’t that silly, er…”
He joined her at the table. “It’s not important. Florence, we at the Air Force have lost something. Something rather dangerous I’m afraid- a weapon.” The Doctor’s voice lowered. “The Axe of Gilgamesh.
“It gives a person the power to manipulate matter – to create or destroy anything. It also drives them to hate – to become more warlike.” Florence peered at the Doctor over her cup, her eyes wide. “And I’ve traced it to Upper Fiddly.”
“Indeed.” His voice lightened a little, the grin returning. “I must destroy it before it finds a host.”
“What does it look like?”
“I’m afraid it blends in to its surroundings almost perfectly. I don’t suppose you’ve noticed anything unusual- an extra telegraph pole or garden gnome?”
“I don’t think so.” She looked a little confused. “Have you lost a garden gnome?”
The Doctor beamed at her. “Not recently. Do you have a little memory trouble, Florence?”
“Oh no. Sharp as a button me.” She gave him a wink.
“You live alone?”
“I’ve the neighbours. And Harry’s coming home.”
Her face brightened. “We married when war broke out. He’s with your lot. Flies a plane. They’re moving his base so he’s coming home for Christmas.” Florence handed the Doctor a pile of yellowed letters from a drawer. They were all dated from 1942 and 1943 from Harry Martin. The last was from mid December…
“‘Dear Puddin’”, the Doctor read.
“He calls me that.” Florence blushed.
“‘I’ll be home for Christmas! Just a week then I’ll have to go but I can’t say where.’” Florence couldn’t stop smiling.
“Read on- where he talks about the little lights.”
…I wish you could see them Flo. When you fly over towns at night it’s like stars in the sky or Christmas lights. They’re all people. It looks the same whoever you fly
over. It’s not right that we’re doing this to each other. Still, it’ll be over soon I’m sure…
“I picture what it would look like if Harry took me up in his plane. Hundreds of homes, stretching out like stars.”
The Doctor regarded her for a moment. “The war’s not over for you, is it Florence? I think you’ve been waiting for Harry for rather a long time.”
“He’ll be home for Christmas.” She frowned and took her mug over to the sink. “And people can’t keep fighting forever when there’s good in the world. At this time of year people forget and they’re kind. They’ll forget.”
The Doctor noticed a flicker from the living room door. He could see tinsel through the opening. “I like your decorations, Florence.”
“Oh yes. Except I’d like some lights.”
“You have some.” The Doctor gestured to the glow coming from the room.
Florence frowned. “I’ve never had lights.” They walked to the living room. As the Doctor entered something snaked across the floor disappearing from sight. The glow from coloured lights around the fireplace began to pulse faintly. There was a quiet growling.
“Florence, I think it might be time to take your decorations down.”
“Oh don’t be silly.”
The Doctor scanned the room with his sonic screwdriver. “I’m afraid the Axe of Gilgamesh is in your living room.”
They were attacked. What looked like Christmas lights around the fireplace began multiplying and snaking around the walls. They launched at the Doctor and pinned him to the floor wrapping his arms and legs in green wire and tiny lights.
“Florence, get out!”
Florence walked slowly into the middle of the room gazing at the lights darting about the ceiling. A single tendril snaked down and hung menacingly inches from her face.
She was transfixed. “Oh, isn’t it lovely.” She touched the light hovering just in front of her.
“Florence, you mustn’t!”
“Little lights, Doctor. Like people in their homes.” Florence touched the light and the growl changed to a quiet hum. The lights suddenly spread in a delicate web across the ceiling like an aerial view of cities at night.
The tendrils holding the Doctor loosened. Florence was somehow floating very slightly above the floor, surrounded by tiny points of light. He waved his sonic screwdriver over her and stared in amazement. “The Axe of Gilgamesh thinks you’re at war – it’s merged. And you’ve blocked all its combat protocols. Oh Florence, either you have the psychic ability of a King of Skal’Potar or you’re so forgetful you’re immune.”
Florence looked at him. She had a tear in her eye.
“It’s my Harry, Doctor, and his lights. He’s come home for Christmas.”
* * *
The host of the Axe of Gilgamesh is known by the Skal’Potar as the Skal-Fraeg of the Seventh Column – their most prestigious honour. One Skal-Fraeg was responsible for the longest peace time in history, and she lives in Upper Fiddly.
Every hundred years the Doctor would visit the Skal-Fraeg who now had an unusually long lifespan. She lived in her cottage and used her powers for fixing fences, mending clothes and little healing here and there. She couldn’t remember how she came by her powers or where Harry was, but she knew somehow that he was with her.
Once a year at Christmas the village children would come to her cottage. They’d listen to stories about the Doctor and when the sun went down, they’d look up at her ceiling and watch the little lights.