Authors: Brian Hayles
Tags: #Science-Fiction:Doctor Who
‘Our civilisation is supremely efficient, my boy—thanks to the guidance we receive from the Intercontinental Computer Complex. With its help, we conquered the problem of world famine many years ago, using artificial foods, and protein recycling. Un-fortunately, the recycling process got rather out of hand...’
‘I suppose you started artificial recycling of waste gases to produce more oxygen,’ remarked the Doctor, frowning.
‘That,’ agreed Clent, ‘plus a massive increase in intensive depollution processes.’ He looked defensively at the Doctor. ‘A minor error in atmospheric prediction...’
‘But one which produced a nasty imbalance in the protective layers of the earth’s atmosphere,’ added the Doctor soberly.
‘Suddenly, one year...’ Clent paused, still remembering the terrible event, ‘... there was no Spring.’ No one spoke for a moment. Then Clent continued breezily.
‘The danger wasn’t understood at first—not until the polar ice caps started to advance.’ He smiled confidently. ‘But we soon came up with the answer to that!’
‘This blessed Ioniser, do you mean?’ questioned Jamie.
‘Precisely,’ beamed Clent. But Jamie wasn’t to be put off so easily.
‘Precisely what, though?’ he asked shrewdly. ‘What does it do exactly?’
Miss Garrett cut in with an explanation. ‘Ionisation is a method of intensifying the sun’s heat on to the earth—but only on selected areas.’
‘Try thinking of it as a sort of burning glass, Jamie,’
added the Doctor. Jamie’s face immediately brightened. ‘Och, now I understand!’ he cried, ‘Like ye can burn paper and make fire?’
‘So you can actually melt the glaciers and change the weather?’ Victoria asked Clent, wide-eyed. ‘When certain difficulties are overcome,’ he said. ‘It’s a highly complex system,’ stated Miss Garrett. ‘The focusing process is very delicate, and there aren’t enough specialists who understand its manipulation.’
‘Can’t afford to make mistakes, can you?’ observed the Doctor. ‘Might cause some nasty floods if all that ice melted too quickly.’
‘There’s the opposite problem, too,’ admitted Clent.
‘The ionisation process can produce temperatures intense enough to melt rock.’
‘But your computer can’t quite manage to strike the happy medium,’ reasoned the Doctor—‘at least, not without the assistance of one of those specialists you’re so short of...’
‘One of my scientists—a chap called Penley—had some sort of a breakdown, and went missing.’ Clent paused; he didn’t like asking favours. ‘I’d like you to take his place. It’s a worthwhile mission. Will you join us?’
The Doctor caught the resigned look that passed between Jamie and Victoria—they knew what his decision would be.
‘I’m willing to try,’ he said modestly.
Good!’ exclaimed Clent, smiling broadly. ‘Er... you have worked with computers, I presume?’
‘No more than necessary,’ muttered the Doctor.
‘Miss Garrett is our technical expert,’ CIent beamed.
‘She’ll help you.’
Miss Garrett was proud of her computer training, and intended the Doctor to know it. ‘Our computers check every decision to eliminate the risk of failure,’ she declared. ‘Our standards are of the highest—’
‘So I’ve noticed,’ remarked the Doctor with a wry smile.
‘Who sets these standards, though?’ demanded Victoria, who had a distinct aversion to bossy machines. Miss Garrett looked at the pretty teenager over her glasses.
‘World Computer Control, of course,’ she snapped.
‘Another machine?’ queried Jamie, amazed. ‘In charge of what everybody does? Och, that’s ridiculous!’
‘The machine,’ snapped Miss Garrett, ‘is rational, coherent, and infallible!’
‘But not very human,’ suggested the Doctor. He turned to face Clent. ‘Is that why Penley defected?’
‘The pressure of work here
driven some men into...
‘But not you.’
Clent faced the Doctor squarely, and replied with a tense dignity.
‘I have a job to do... and I do not intend to fail. My duty is to make the Ionisation programme succeed—and save five thousand years of European civilisation! I
In the pause that followed, only the Doctor saw the desperate plea in Clent’s eyes. It was impossible to ignore his silent appeal for help.
‘I respect that, Leader Clent,’ conceded the Doctor.
‘Now tell us how we can help.’
Before Clent could say what was in his mind, the double doors of the laboratory swung open, and Arden walked in. At first, Clent didn’t see Walters and the other technicians wheeling the trolley behind the defiant scientist. He swung himself from the vibrochair in a blaze of anger.
‘Arden! Is this what you call cooperation?’ Clent strode forward fiercely. ‘How are we expected to carry out this project when idiots like you—’ The Leader stopped abruptly, in full flow. Arden had stepped aside, and for the first time Clent caught sight of the prize he had brought back from the glacier. No one spoke. They were all gazing speechless at the mighty form contained within the great chunk of ice. That one moment alone was triumph enough for Arden.
‘I thought you might be interested. Clent.’ declared the geologist perkily. He turned to his helpers, and pointed to a corner of the room. ‘Wheel him over there.’
The others followed, hardly able to take their eyes from Arden’s discovery. As yet, the ice had barely started to melt.
‘Doctor,’ whispered Victoria, ‘what is it?’
Jamie’s eyes shone with admiration. ‘It’s a great warrior!
Do ye no see his war helmet?’
The Doctor inspected the warrior thoughtfully. ‘Frozen for centuries and perfectly preserved,’ he said, then added,
Arden had succeeded in silencing Clent, but hadn’t yet summoned up the courage to tell him of Davis’s death. He now turned on the Doctor suspiciously. ‘Who are you?’
Clent stepped in with an explanation. ‘An addition to our staff, Arden. I’ll explain at the meeting.’ He turned to the Doctor, intrigued by his snap criticism. ‘What exactly is it that you find odd?’
‘The armour, it’s all wrong. When this man was frozen to death, only primitive cavemen existed...’ Arden lunged forward and confronted the Doctor defiantly.
‘Well I say it’s an undiscovered civilisation! Think of the implications!’
Clent needed time to think, and a full scale discussion of Arden’s find was the last thing he wanted at the moment. The geologist would have to be reprimanded—yet what he had found was obviously of sufficient importance to interest world authorities. But everything depended on the success of the Ioniser mission. First things first, then.
‘Arden, whatever the implications, this find of yours must take second place to our project,’ declared Clent. He watched as the young geologist connected the output leads of a portable power pack to electrode points on the horizontal block of ice ‘You can give me a full appraisal of your theories after the meeting,’ he consulted his watch, ‘which will commence in three minutes fifteen seconds exactly.’
Without seeming to hurry unduly, Arden had completed his power connections and was ready to go.
‘Miss Garrett, perhaps you’d lead the way?’ continued Clent. ‘Come along, Arden. You can play with your toy later.
You’ll be needed at the meeting too, Doctor.’
With that. he and his colleagues passed through the swing doors towards the conference room.
The Doctor may have heard Clent’s last words—if so, he showed no inclination to obey them. Instead, alone with Jamie and Victoria, he stood hunched over the ice-encased giant, studying it intently. Jamie pointed to the wiring and the black power pack that Arden had attached to the ice.
‘What’s all this about, Doctor?’
‘It’s a portable power pack, Jamie,’ the Doctor explained. ‘Arden has set the current so that it will melt the ice very slowly.’
‘But it’s working quite quickly—look!’ cried Victoria.
Jamie and the Doctor looked to where her finger was pointing, and saw that a large flake of ice had fallen away from the side of the warrior’s helmet. He didn’t, however, hear the faint but ominous humming which seemed to come from the power pack. The Doctor didn’t notice. The Doctor bent close to the helmet, examining it through the cloak of thin ice with an expression of intense astonishment.
‘But that’s... incredible!’ he blurted out.
‘What is, Doctor?’ asked Jamie in amazement. wasn’t often something set the Doctor back on his heels!
‘Jamie...’ murmured the Doctor wonderingly, ‘that’s an electronic earpiece—there, on the helmet! Almost identical to the ones used on modern space helmets!’
Both the youngsters looked at him uncomprehendingly.
‘But Doctor... it can’t be,’ said Victoria finally.
The Doctor raised his head abruptly. His voice was keen with excitement, and possibly something more... ‘Don’t you realise what this means?’
He looked into their young faces, and saw that they did not understand. Reaching a quick decision, he hurried towards the door.
‘Wait here,’ he shouted back over his shoulder, ‘and don’t touch anything!’
Jamie and Victoria were getting used to his sudden exits, and exchanged a gentle chuckle.
‘I wonder what sent him off like that?’ asked Jamie.
‘Scientists are all the same,’ replied Victoria. ‘They’re forever shouting
, or something. Hey! What are you doing? Don’t be a spoilsport!’
Half playfully, she struggled to prise Jamie out of the vibrochair—not because the Doctor had told them not to touch it, but because she dearly wanted to have a go in it herself. ‘Me first!’ she shouted, then gasped as she felt the machine tingle into life, switched on by Jamie’s eager hand, as he relaxed in the chair.
Neither of them noticed that more ice had fallen away from the warrior’s helmet. The power pack’s electrodes were now touching bare metal. Their excited laughter hid the hum which was coming from the prostrate form, and which seemed to be ever increasing in volume.
They didn’t see the eye-pieces of the cruel helmet flicker, nor the reflex twitch of the great, gauntleted hand.
Slowly but surely, the Ice Warrior was coming to life...
The Doctor had been summoned to Clent’s meeting—
but he hadn’t been told how to get there. Flustered and irritated, his brain almost bursting with the news of the terrible discovery, the Doctor turned a corner and found himself in the main reception hall. He paused, and took a deep breath. This sort of building must be like others of its period. If he could just mentally picture the architectural plans: music room ahead... next to that the ballroom or great hall... to the rear of the house, leading from the great hall...
the library or study. The Doctor opened his eyes, his mind alert. The library—that was it!
The memory of the Ioniser control room, lined with elegant bookcases and splendid antique paintings. echoed in his mind—as did the half-remembered glimpse he had had into the vast room beyond. filled with its banks of computers and monitoring equipment. That’d be the place! Quickly, he orientated himself in line with the room plan he had formed in his head and then set off once again, grimly determined.
His latest discovery about the Ice Warrior was vitally important Clent and the others must be told —and quickly!
In the laboratory, Jamie had at last given Victoria a turn in the sibro-chair. As the almost imperceptible tingling began she closed her eyes and smiled with childish delight. Jamie stood over her, his back to the great block of ice. Neither of them was aware that it had all but completely disintegrated, leaving the body once trapped inside it free and alive.
Suddenly, Victoria opened her eyes, looked past Jamie and screamed. At the same moment, Jamie heard the power pack crash to the floor, and spun round to see what had caused the noise. The massive form of the Ice Warrior was not merely free of the ice block, but was looming over him, hideously threatening! His immediate reaction, keyed by Victoria’s choked scream, was to protect her. Without hesitation, he threw himself against the motionless giant, in a vain attempt to grapple with that immense strength—but he might as well have been a wolf-hound tackling a dinosaur.
With one sweeping blow from its mighty arm, the Ice Warrior knocked him unconscious to the ground. With one great lumbering stride, the armoured giant reached the vibrochair—but Victoria had already fainted. For a brief moment, the Ice Warrior gazed at her limp body, the breath seeming to hiss with difficulty through his strangely reptilian lips. He ponderously looked all around the room—as if searching for the best means of escape. Then, lifting Victoria as though she was no more than a feather, he strode past Jamie’s fallen body, through the nearest doorway, and into the corridor beyond...
Clent and his subordinates were seated in a tight semi-circle around the table top formed by the ECCO control area.
A stranger would have observed that the video-eyed communicator was not merely treated as a convenient information source, but was functioning as a member of the group. In fact, it had several jobs. Like an electronic secretary, it was taking minutes of the meeting; it produced relevant statistics when required, and it evaluated group decisions in the light of world policy. At the moment, however, it was passive. Clent was completing the summary of his confrontation with the Doctor.
‘It took him just ninety seconds to propose and explain Ionisation,’ he stated, ‘and with no prior knowledge!’
Arden was impressed, but cautious. ‘It took us and the World Academy of Scientists years.’
‘And the computer three millisecs,’ interrupted Miss Garrett. Brilliant though this stranger might be, he could never be superior to her beloved computer. Arden disagreed.
‘It couldn’t do anything without proper programming,’
he pointed out shrewdly, much to Jan’s annoyance. But Clent shared her absolute faith in the machine.
‘I’d like an assessment from the computer,’ he insisted,