Authors: Glyn Jones
Tags: #Science-Fiction:Doctor Who
‘I could manage a little more,’ Vicki said hopefully. Tor shook his head. ‘I’m sorry, but that’s all we have.
You’ve just eaten a Xeron’s rations for three days.’
‘Or, if you want to look at it another way,’ Bo said, ‘a day’s rations for three Xerons.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry!’ Vicki apologised, feeling very badly about it. ‘Whose rations did I eat?’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Tor shrugged. ‘They were happy to volunteer it.’
Bo gave Tor a sideways glance. He didn’t look too happy.
‘What else do you get?’ Vicki asked brightly.
‘What else?’ Tor looked distinctly puzzled.
‘Yes, to eat.’
‘That’s it,’ Tor said, pointing to the tupperware. ‘That’s all!’
‘What else do we need?’
‘What a boring diet.’
‘It contains the right amount of everything we need,’ Sita joined the conversation. ‘Nutrients, minerals, vitamins, trace elements, everything.’
‘And I wonder what more besides,’ Vicki said suspiciously.
‘How do you mean?’ Tor asked. Vicki shrugged.
‘Something to keep us quiet, you mean,’ Dako said. It was the first time he had spoken but Vicki had noticed him before any of the others. He was, in human terms, extremely handsome with a lean face and pale grey eyes that seemed to look right through her. She felt herself blushing and turned quickly back to Tor.
‘I suppose, now you feel better, we had better introduce ourselves,’ he suggested, but before he could go on, another voice cut in.
‘I am Dako,’ it said.
Vicki knew who the voice belonged to and that she would have to return her attention to him, even though it would intensify her blush, but not to do so would be rude.
‘How... II-how d-d-do you do? she stammered. Dako frowned, being unable to fathom the meaning behind this seemingly fathomless remark.
‘Dako is the leader of the out-workers,’ Tor continued, his voice carrying an indirect reproof. ‘He shouldn’t be in here. It is forbidden. If he is found...’
‘Found?’ Vicki asked. ‘By who?’
‘Oh! You mean, the others? The ones in the white uniforms?’
‘That’s right.’ Tor nodded.
‘I won’t be found,’ Dako protested with a hint of the gasconade about him. ‘They never come down here.’ ‘Why not?’ Vicki asked.
‘They wouldn’t dare,’ Dako replied. ‘Too much chance of being ambushed.’ And he opened his jacket to reveal the butt of a ray gun protruding from his waistband. He closed the jacket again quickly.
‘Where are we exactly?’ Vicki asked, turning back to Tor.
‘In the vaults of the main building, the old part that is never used.’
‘That’s why the Moroks won’t come down here,’ Dako interrupted again. ‘They don’t know this area. We know every room, every passage, ways to get in and was to get out. We know every inch of it.’
Vicki nodded then looked quickly towards the door as one of the Xerons standing guard opened it to admit another of their number. Tor stood up. ‘Gyar! What news?’
‘The man has been captured. There is no sign of the woman.’ Gyar was tall, at least six feet two, with a lean frame, fair hair and green eyes, and a gentle manner. He looked down at Vicki. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said.
‘Don’t worry, Vicki,’ Dako said, heading for the door. ‘I’ll find her.’
‘No!’ Tor shouted. ‘You’re not even supposed to be in here. Let someone else go.’
‘I will find her,’ Dako said, and slipped out of the room.
‘He what!’ Lobos roared, glaring at the soldier who stood stiffly before him, his glassy eyes unfocused and his mind racing, trying to dredge up some kind of excuse however feeble. But not even the feeblest excuse would come to mind. Both his hearts were heating so fast it was almost as if they were racing each other. Any moment now and he was going to hyper-ventilate.
Lobos turned to look at Ogrek who was regarding the soldier with no particular interest, rather like someone in a supermarket idly wondering whether to purchase a name brand or the generic variety of a packet of frozen peas. At the sight of Ogrek’s bland expression, Lobos’s rage increased and he exploded like a string of firecrackers.
‘Am I surrounded by incompetent idiots?’ he screamed and felt a stab of pain that had him reaching for his capsules with one hand while, with the other, he pressed the button on his desk. The door opened. The guards entered. ‘This man is under arrest,’ Lobos bawled. The guards disarmed the hapless soldier and marched him out. Lobos slipped the capsule into his mouth and slumped in his chair. Ogrek found something interesting to look at on the ceiling.
Ian flattened himself against the back of the police box and wondered what to do next. After a moment he moved to one side and peeped cautiously around the corner. A guard was standing in front of the TARDIS, his back to Ian, his ray gun loosened in its holster.
Ian tried to judge the distance between them. He could run and make a flying tackle - would probably be able to bring the guard down before he could draw his gun. But then there would be a struggle. The lack of oxygen in the atmosphere was beginning to affect him again and he knew he had to act quickly and without much effort. Soon he would he so weak it would take only the proverbial feather to knock him down.
Distraction, he thought. He had to bring the guard closer to the time-machine and jump him as effortlessly as possible. He looked down at his feet and then, squatting, sifted through the sand, eventually coming up with a handful of small stones. It wasn’t for nothing he had been a Western fan as a child. He straightened up, backed away from the TARDIS to give himself elbow room, and lobbed a stone over the top of the box, followed by another, and another in quick succession. Then he slipped, in the opposite direction, around to the front.
The ruse had worked. The guard had moved close to the TARDIS and was looking in the direction from which he had heard the rattle of stones. Fortunately for Ian he was curious but not unduly alarmed and hadn’t even bothered to draw his gun. When he eventually turned around again it was to find it pointing at his face and his hand reaching for an empty holster. His jaw dropped and his eyes opened wide. Ian could have no idea what thoughts were racing through the man’s head but he was obviously terrified. Ian, however, was taking no chances.
‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ he warned.
‘Don’t kill me! Please don’t kill me!’ The man whined.
Obviously, Ian thought, a tour of duty on this planet was looked on as something of a doddle, totally devoid of danger. Anything out of the ordinary and these men were all at sixes and sevens.
‘Well, that rather depends on you,’ he replied, ‘I have some questions I need answering.’
‘If I can, I will,’ the guard squealed. ‘I promise!’
Good grief! Ian thought, his dialogue’s worse than mine. I’m in a western and he’s in a soap opera! He frowned at these ridiculous random thoughts: the lack of oxygen must be affecting his brain. He’d better get it over with, and fast. The guard mistook the nature of the frown and grew even more panicky.
‘One of my friends - the old man - has been captured. What’s happened to him?’ Ian continued.
The guard stared at him or, rather, at the muzzle of the gun. Ian grabbed him by the collar and jammed the gun under his chin. Suddenly the man was talking gibberish, or so Ian thought. He kept pointing to his collar and now, under Ian’s pressure, he was jammed up against the TARDIS. Ian wondered if he had gone off his head or whether he was choking him. He let go of the collar and the man immediately reverted to English. Or so Ian thought.
‘I don’t know! I don’t know!’
‘Is he dead?’
That hesitation was enough to indicate that he did know. Ian jammed the gun harder into the man’s throat. ‘Then where is he?’
‘The preparation room,’ he gurgled. ‘He’s been taken to the preparation room. It’s nothing to do with me. I’m just a simple soldier doing my duty. I obey...’
‘What happens there?’ Ian grabbed the collar again. ‘Ti ygrok ga dis brajic,’ the man’said.
‘I said, what happens?’ Ian let go of the collar.
‘And I just told you, he’ll be got ready for the museum.’ ‘Take me there.’
The guard’s eyes looked as though they were about to pop out of his head. His mouth was as dry as the sand at his feet and he could hardly speak. ‘You’ll be killed,’ he whispered. ‘We’ll both be killed!’
‘Take me there.’ Ian jabbed the muzzle in even harder. The guard gulped and nodded: ‘I’ll take you... I’ll take you.’
‘We’ll smoke them out,’ Lobos said finally.
Ogrek regarded his superior, still slumped in his chair, and wondered, if the governor cracked, would he be required to take over? By the great Ork he hoped not.
‘Smoked out,’ he said, as though he knew what Lobos was talking about.
‘I want everybody out of the buildings,’ Lobos said. ‘Now.’
‘They might not be in the buildings.’
‘Don’t argue! Just order every Morok and every Xeron out of the buildings!’ He wondered how many capsules he could take before he O.D.’d.
‘And then?’ Ogrek’s voice grated on Lobos’s nerves. Did the man never use any other tone?
‘Then we’ll use Zaphra Gas. If they don’t come out we will go in and find them, paralyzed and no longer able to avoid capture.’
Ogrek stuck his tongue in his cheek and nodded. ‘Their power of locomotion is truly amazing,’ he said. ‘I’ve not seen bipeds capable of that turn of speed. They must be extremely primitive.’
Lobos rose and moved around to the front of the desk to face Ogrek, almost nose to nose. ‘Those primitives have made fools of us. And, if the gas doesn’t do the trick, I don’t care what we do with them. Shoot them on sight.’
‘Those are your orders?’
‘Good.’ Ogrek strolled towards the door, ‘It will get it all over with that much quicker.’ He turned back. ‘And I do like clean endings.’ He smiled and was gone.
Lobos stared at the door for a moment and then turned and reached for his capsules, changed his mind and hammered with his fists on the desk. The door opened and Matt wheeled himself in.
‘Would - you - care - for - a - game - of - chess?’ he enquired with metallic politeness. Lobos swung around, lifted his ray gun, and disintegrated Matt.