Chapter Two

(Approximately Four Million Years in the pastů)

It was a beautiful morning on the Africa savannah. The tall grass swayed back and forth from the warm breeze and animals prowled the grasslands looking for their morning meal. High up in a baobab tree, a troop of Australopithecus apes woke and readied themselves for the day. The alpha male, nicknamed Fang, held on to the limbs around him while he scanned the surroundings for predators. He made sure to look very carefully because sometimes a saber-toothed cat was lurking nearby.

When he was satisfied that the surrounding area was safe, he hooted a signal for his troop to get out of the tree. The others below him dropped down and stood upright, looking through the tall grasses while they foraged for breakfast. Fang studied all of them and his eyes settled on one particular female who was walking off by himself. He snorted derisively at her. She was an outcast, at the lowest social strata in their group. She had come from another troop that had been decimated by predators and Fang had tried to mate with her but she had none of it. She had been on her own too long and she was far too independent. She liked to be by herself and wander off for hours at a time so eventually the rest of the troop gave up on the newcomer and ignored her. He dropped down out of the tree and snarled at her. The woman grunted disdainfully in response and Fang growled at the female puffing himself up slightly to show his dominance. The other members of the troop stopped their foraging to watch. The female snorted again and turned away from him. Fang, angered by the lack of respect, decided enough was enough. He hooted and hollered as he lunged at her, hitting her back and head with his strong hands. The female ran away from him while the others hooted in response. Fang kept hitting her until she was far enough away from the tree that she couldn't sneak back. Fang hooted for her to keep going, letting the insolent female know that she was no longer welcome in his troop. The female growled and grunted at him in response before she turned around and walked away.


"Here we go," the Doctor said as he, Mickey and Rose stepped out onto the African savannah. "We're nearly four million years in the past, at the very dawn of man. At this time, apes had just begun to walk upright so they don't have as much intelligence as later cavemen but they have enough intelligence to make rudimentary tools and defend themselves from bigger, stronger predators."

"What about dinosaurs?" Mickey asked.

"Dinosaurs have been dead for millions of years by this time. However, there are still big predators like saber-toothed cats so we still must be cautious," the Doctor said.

"Wait, there's saber-toothed tigers around here and you want to walk through this tall grass without protection?" Mickey said in disbelief.

"They're not tigers. And yes, we'll be safe enough, just stick together. The cats are more afraid of us than we are of them."

Mickey gave Rose a dubious look but Rose shrugged and grinned. Mickey let her go of him when she followed the Doctor so he could stay behind her and protect her back. Off in the distance was a herd of elephants and Mickey marveled that they looked the same as they did in modern times. He stopped a moment to watch them, aware that he was actually standing in prehistoric Africa at this very moment watching an animal he'd only seen in a zoo. While he watched the herd, he heard a deep clearing of the throat and looked at the Doctor. He and Rose had stopped several feet away and the Doctor was trying to look stern but was failing miserably.

"Sorry, never seen elephants outside the zoo before," Mickey said sheepishly.

The Doctor chuckled and turned with Rose to watch the elephants. Mickey noticed that this Doctor was different from the previous one. The other Doctor would have said something sarcastic and told him to get a move on but this Doctor seemed more relaxed and at ease and he relaxed along with everyone else and went back to watching the herd.

"They look the same as modern elephants," Rose said.

"Yeah, their shape hasn't changed in millions of years," the Doctor said. "Why fix something that isn't broken?"

"But what about wooly ones?" Mickey said to him.

"Up north," the Doctor said, pointing up. "Obviously, a long wooly coat wouldn't work here."

"So there's elephants and big cats," Rose said, "what else is there?"

"Oh, there's an assortment of animals, large and small," the Doctor said. "Some animals are as big as elephants. There are sloths who are as big as a bus. But they're plant eaters and fairly benign. They don't attack unless someone provokes them."

"Well, let's not provoke them then," Mickey said.

The Doctor silenced them and pointed to something in the distance. They looked where he was pointing and saw a lone ape walking through the grass. The ape was humanoid but still very much apelike.

"There's one now," the Doctor said to his companions. "This is an Australopithecus, a very, very early ancestor of you lot."

"She's very short," Rose said while they watched her.

"Yes, they were between three and four feet tall," the Doctor said.

He looked around with a puzzled look on his face.

"What is it?" Mickey said.

"Normally, they travel together in a band but this one is alone. Wonder why?" he said. "Perhaps its an outcast."

The ape froze when she caught sight of the Doctor and his companions. They stood and watched one another. The Australopithecus didn't move for a moment and then to the Doctor's surprise, it began to slowly come to them. The Doctor stilled his friends, not wanting to startle the curious ape. To his delight, the ape kept coming closer. Occasionally, it would stop and observe them before moving forward again.

"Stay behind me," the Doctor said when the ape was twenty feet from them. "It's unarmed but that doesn't mean it couldn't use its fists for pick up a rock."

"Do they normally come up to people like this?" Rose said.

"Dunno, never interacted with this species of ape. But I do know she's very brave since at this time they weren't the top predator," the Doctor said.

The ape stopped about five feet from the Doctor and he could see the breasts on her chest. She was about three feet tall and was chimpanzee-like, except for the upright stance. Still, the Doctor could see intelligence in her dark eyes and he knew that she was capable of thinking and reasoning, albeit not as well as modern man.

"Hello," the Doctor said to her.

The ape's eyes widened and she stepped back a few paces.

"You make words," she said with a deep feminine voice.

"Yes, I make words," the Doctor said, pleased that the TARDIS could translate her hooting into intelligible speech. "Why are you alone?"

"Outcast," the ape said.

"Why?" Rose said.

She noticed the ape was startled a bit when she spoke.

"Did I say something wrong?" Rose said to the Doctor.

"No, I think it's because in Australopithecus society, males are senior to females and I think she thought you spoke out of turn since I didn't acknowledge you."

"Sexist male dominated society, some things never change," Rose quipped.

"Why are you an outcast?" the Doctor repeated.

"I'm different. I don't fit in."

"Why?" the Doctor said.

"I come from different clan. Cat killed members of my clan and I'm alone now. I didn't want to mate with leader of new clan so he made me leave."

"That figures," Rose said.

"Are you clan?" the ape said, looking at them.

"Sorta, we're a traveling clan," the Doctor said.

Rose frowned when the ape lowered her head and held her hand out to the Doctor.

"What's going on?" Rose said to him.

"Submissive gesture. I think she wants to join us," the Doctor said over his shoulder. "It's not good for any ape to be alone out here, she might get killed."

"Can I come with you, Prime Male?" the ape said, her head still facing downward.

The Doctor smiled and touched her hand.

"You may," he said.

She raised her head and the Doctor could see delight on her face.

"I will be good," she said, lowering her head.

"Good, I like good apes," he said, patting her head. "Do you have a name?"

"I am called Runt," she said.

"Runt?" Mickey said.

"Must refer to her size," the Doctor said with a shrug. "She is shorter than average. Okay, Runt, I'm the Doctor and this is Mickey and Rose. You are a part of our clan now."

He grinned when Runt hooted with delight before quickly falling silent. She walked behind the Doctor and took her place at the back of the group. Rose and Mickey looked at her and glanced at one another before the Doctor told everyone to follow him and he walked off to the right.

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