Authors: Glyn Jones
Tags: #Science-Fiction:Doctor Who
‘Do you?’ Ian snapped, waving the muzzle of his ray gun in all directions. ‘Which way then?’
The expression of happy confidence on the Doctor’s face disappeared. But Vicki jumped to the rescue. ‘Straight ahead?’
‘Straight ahead,’ he agreed.
They moved warily down the corridor. Behind them the three Xerons suddenly appeared from around a corner and quickly ducked back again.
‘They’re armed!’ Sita whispered.
‘I’ll see which way they go, then we’ll try to cut them off,’ Tor replied.
‘The one had a ray gun! I saw it!’
‘So? We were hoping they’d be armed, if you remember.’
‘That’s all very well, but how do you know they’re friendly? They could shoot us on sight. They could be Morok allies!’
‘The Moroks wouldn’t be searching for them if they were allies.’
But Sita’s trepidation was not to be so easily assuaged. ‘They could still he aggressive,’ he insisted, his courage really beginning to let him down. ‘And you don’t know the Moroks are searching for them. We have to be cautious.’
‘We will be.’
‘We’ll make contact before we show ourselves.’ ‘How?’
‘Capture either the old one or the very young one. We can talk to them. Then, if everything looks all right, let them introduce us to the others. Is it agreed?’
‘Agreed!’ said Bo.
‘All right.’ Tor held up his hand for the others to hold back while he took a quick look into the corridor.
‘They’ve gone to the left,’ he informed his companions, ‘We’ll cut through the Triphid Section. Come on.’
Barbara hugged herself, not from cold, and shivered violently. ‘I hate to admit it,’ she said, her voice trembling, ‘But I am scared, really scared. They must have found the TARDIS by now; why has no-one come?’
‘I should think, by mere chance, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid them so far,’ Ian suggested, ‘But I don’t reckon on our luck lasting too long. What I can’t understand is why they don’t have a security system. You know, something like automatic surveillance system in every room.’
There was no alarm on that case you took the gun from,’ Vicki pointed out.’
‘No, that’s right!’
‘The whole planet’s probably so secure maybe they feel they don’t need one,’ Vicki continued. ‘Who’s going to steal anything from this place? They’ve probably got a customs post at the point of departure. And just as you’re going out through the green exit a voice behind you will say, "Excuse me, Earth people, have you anything to declare?" And then you’ll have to say, "Yes, there’s this ray gun I nicked. Watch out, it’s loaded!"’
Ian examined the weapon with renewed interest, turning it over in his hands. ‘I never did find that out, did I?’ he said.
‘Well, for goodness sake, don’t try now!’ Barbara alrnost screeched in sudden panic. ‘You could bring the whole place tumbling down around our ears.’
‘Like the walls of Jericho,’ Vicki said.
‘Well, if I have to try it out on a live target, and if it doesn’t work, it’ll be too late, won’t it?’ Ian argued. ‘Can’t be helped. Even if it doesn’t bring the place tumbling down, it could bring those... those people, whatever they are, down on us.’
‘Like the hordes of Ghengis Khan,’ Vicki said.
‘Oh, shut up, Vicki! Shut up!’ Barbara slapped her hands over her ears and closed her eyes screwing her eyelids up tight.
‘Sorry,’ Vicki said. She pulled down the corners of her mouth and turned an ‘I didn’t mean anything by it’ face on Ian. Ian frowned in sympathetic understanding and put an arm around Barbara.
‘Come on, Barbara...’ He gave her shoulders a little squeeze... ‘Don’t take on now. We’ll be okay.’
Barbara opened her eyes, removed her hands from her ears, lowered her shoulders, took a deep breath and nodded; even attempted a little smile.
‘Good.’ Ian smiled back, jerked his head forward, and they moved off once more.
But the Doctor, unlike Barbara, wasn’t feeling in the least nervous. In fact he was growing extremely bored with their aimless peripatetic wanderings and was engrossed in an exhibit. Vicki joined him in passing, pausing to arch her back and look sideways over her shoulder.
‘Oh!’ she exclaimed. ‘’That’s nice. A model of a flying saucer. Isn’t it good? Such detail.’
‘That’s because it’s the real thing,’ the Doctor said. ‘What!’ Vicki stared at him disbelievingly.
‘Oh, yes. Yes, it is,’ he insisted. ‘It’s not a model at all. It’s the real thing, believe me.’
Vicki moved closer and the Doctor hurriedly gestured for her not to go too close to the sensor. She tip-toed to the side of the cabinet.
‘But so small!’ She exclaimed. ‘Who could get into that?’ ‘Size is relative, Vicki, like everything else. Just think of a microbe in a mastodon’s stomach.’
All right, elephant then.’
‘Hmm?’ He looked up. Vicki indicated the imminent departure of Ian and Barbara from the corridor and intimated they should follow.
‘All right, child, all right, I’m coming.’ He waved her on and, readjusting the spectacles on his nose, returned to his study of the saucer. Vicki, taking him at his word, turned and ran after the others. The Doctor wondered whether he dare activate the sensor and learn more about the saucer. He was sorely tempted. He dithered for a moment before deciding discretion was the better choice, and backed away, pocketing his spectacles but still intrigued. A door behind him opened, a hand across his mouth stifled his cry of alarm, and he was bundled unceremoniously into the next room.
Tor cast a quick glance around the corridor to make sure they were unobserved and then joined the others to find the Doctor lying, apparently unconscious, on the floor.
‘I don’t know,’ Sita cried. ‘I hardly touched him. He just fell.’
‘Maybe he hit his head on the floor,’ Bo suggested, very worried. Tor turned his attention from the Doctor to the other two and didn’t notice the Time Lord open a crafty eye, trying to size up the situation. But, as his captors were standing behind him, he could not see them without moving and he could not understand what they were saying, so he closed his eye and feigned unconsciousness again.
‘All right,’ Tor said. ‘Sita, you stay here and watch him.’ ‘Me! Why. me? Where are you going?’ Sita was thoroughly alarmed.
‘To try and find something to bring him around. Don’t worry, we won’t be long. Come on, Bo.’
‘No, wait!’ Sita called, but it was too late. Nervously he regarded the prostrate figure at his feet and looked anxiously around the silent room.
‘Well, he was following us!’ Barbara insisted.
‘I know that,’ Ian said. ‘But when did he stop? Didn’t either of you see or hear anything?’
‘Oh, come on, Ian,’ Barbara objected, ‘you weren’t all that far in front. Don’t try and put all the blame on us.’ ‘I’m not trying to put the blame on anybody.’ ‘He was looking at a flying saucer,’ Vicki said. Barbara turned on her. ‘I’ve had just about enough of you, young lady. What with the walls of Jericho and the hordes of Ghengis Khan and now flying saucers. How could a flying saucer fit in here?’
‘Oh, you know all about flying saucers, do you?’ Vicki was highly indignant. ‘How do you know what sizes they come in? And there was that space shuttle in here, wasn’t there? I even remember its name, The Robert E. Lee. That’s not exactly minute. Funny, I don’t recall a space shuttle named The Robert E. Lee. Must have been after...’
‘All right, Vicki!’ Ian cut short Vicki’s loquaciousness. ‘He should have missed us and caught up by now. Unless... Well, he could have taken a wrong turning.’
‘I think he’s been captured,’ Vicki said.
‘Who by?’ Barbara asked. ‘And if you say King Kong I’ll scream.’
‘No. King Kong only went for girls,’ Ian chuckled. ‘He ate them.’
‘This isn’t a laughing matter, Ian,’ Barbara chided. ‘Sorry.’
‘This is a crisis. Which is the way into the glass cases? Standing here discussing Hollywood movies? Or going back and finding the Doctor? Maybe we should just try and take off in the The Robert E. Lee!’ she snorted.
‘We can’t keep worrying about that part of our future,’ Ian said.
‘If we don’t, there may not he any other part to worry about,’ was the reply.
‘Well, I say we go on,’ Ian said. ‘If the Doctor is lost he’ll take the specific gravity of something or other, bisect an angle, measure the isosceles triangle, compute a figure or two and be waiting for us at the front door when we get there, wondering what took us so long.’ ‘All right,’ Barbara agreed.
‘Good. Let’s try this way.’ And, without waiting for a vote, Ian moved off.
Barbara stood for a moment and watched him go, followed by Vicki. Then she too moved.
Tor and Bo moved swiftly back down the corridor towards the room in which they had left Sita and the Doctor, Bo looking anxiously around and almost tripping over himself in his anxiety. Tor nursed a small phial in his right hand.
At the door they stopped, looked around once more, and then slipped into the room, Bo closing the door behind them. They stood just inside the door staring down at the floor where Sita lay, motionless. There was no sign of the Doctor.
‘Is he dead?’ Bo whispered. He was normally of a pallid complexion but now he was a chalky-white and quite terrified. ‘Tor handed him the phial which he took with trembling fingers; Tor knelt beside the stricken Sita and laid a hand on his chest. After a few moments he shook his head and held his hand out for the phial, broke the seal, and holding Sita’s mouth open, fed him the contents, drop by drop. There was a second and then Sita groaned and opened his eyes, staring straight at Tor. Another second and he sat bolt upright, let out a howl, and clapped a hand to the back of his head.
‘What happened?’ Tor demanded to know.
Sita hung his head and thought. Then he looked up again at Tor. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I turned my back for a second and then... and then... nothing.’
‘I don’t remember anything.’
‘Was it the old man?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Did he go out?’ Tor glanced towards the door and Bo couldn’t help turning around and taking a look too.
‘I keep telling you!’ Sita let out another groan. ‘I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear anything. Everything just went black.’
Tor got to his feet and held out his hand to give Sita a lift. Sita pulled himself up and stood swaying on legs that suddenly trembled. Tor held on to his arm.
‘Are you all right?’ he asked, concerned. Sita nodded. Tor turned to Bo: ‘He must have gone to join the others. Come on, we’ll see if we can find them.’
‘They’re still armed, remember!’ Sita said, massaging the back of his neck. ‘We’ll have to take our chance this time, otherwise the Moroks will get to them first, if they haven’t already done so. Bo...’ Tor jerked his head to indicate the door and Bo opened it, peeped out, then nodded the all clear to the other two who quickly slipped out of the room behind him.
For a long while the room appeared to he deserted. Then a high-pitched, metallic, electronic-sounding voice broke the silence, the voice of a Dalek: ‘I - fooled - them - all. I - am - the - master.’ The voice was followed by an unmistakable chuckle and the top of the Dalek casing was lifted to reveal the self-satisfied smile of the Doctor.
‘Fooled them,’ he chuckled, ‘Fooled them. The last place anyone thinks of looking is right under their noses.’ He climbed out of the casing, dusted himself off and walked to the door, opened it, and stared straight into the muzzles of two Morok guns.
‘Right under their noses,’ he said ironically.
‘Ian, it’s no good. I can’t go on. We’re going around in circles.’
Barbara puffed out her cheeks and blew out hard, took off her cardigan and sat on the plinth of an exhibit, but screamed and leapt to her feet again as a voice seemed to explode right behind her.
‘This is a model of a launch-pad for the battle cruiser type CB KRIS from the planet Kylos...’
The voice cut off as they backed hurriedly away from the exhibit.
‘They don’t believe in wasting power,’ Vicki observed. ‘If you’re not interested it just switches off.’ She looked around the gallery in which they found themselves and heard her tummy rumble. ‘How long have we been in this place?’ she enquired peevishly. ‘I’m hungry.’
‘To be quite truthful, so am I,’ Ian admitted. ‘And I’ve no idea how long it’s been. I’ve lost all track of time.’ ‘It must be night by now,’ Vicki complained. ‘If they have a night,’ Ian said.
‘Night or day, what difference does it make?’ Barbara snapped. ‘I don’t even know if there is still some kind of world out there. I’m hot. I’m tired.’ And, moving to the side of the plinth, she sat down again.
‘The Minotaur!’ Ian exclaimed.
‘What!’ Barbara leapt to her feet again.
‘Where?’ Vicki said, looking around in alarm.
‘So much for you and your encyclopaedic knowledge,’ Ian teased. ‘Don’t you know your mythology? When Theseus entered the labyrinth he took with him a ball of thread so he could use it to retrace his footsteps.’
‘Ian... We haven’t just entered the labyrinth,’ Barbara explained patiently, ‘We’ve been in it for hours and hours.’
But this didn’t seem to matter to Ian. ‘It’ll stop us going around in circles, don’t you see?’ He held out his hand towards Barbara. ‘May I?’
‘May you what?’
‘Give us the sweater.’
Barbara hesitated, then handed it over. Ian took a handful of wool in each hand and tried to pull the garment apart. Then he put a corner between his teeth and gave it a three-cornered tug. Then he took it out of his mouth and looked at it.
‘How do you take this thing apart?’ he asked.
‘You’re not meant to,’ Barbara replied. ‘Unless you’re thinking of knitting me a new one. Oh, give it here!’ She snatched it back. ‘And you could at least ask. It’s one of my best cardigans.’
‘I did ask. I said, may I?’
‘Give me your penknife.’
‘Here.’ Ian dug his hand into a pocket and, producing the knife, opened it and passed it to her. She ripped the hem and started to unpick the wool, passing the end to Ian. He tied it around the gantry that was part of the model launch-pad.