Shadow of the Daleks;Doctor Who;Liz Shaw;Caroline John;Third Doctor;Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart;Jon Pertwee;Jeri Massi
Shadow of the Daleks
Written by Jeri Massi
"Are you sure you can drive?" Liz asked as Boyd pulled out from the coned-off area and joined the line of press cars. She had dispensed with being chauffeured, and she sat in the front seat on the passenger side.
"Yes, it's not painful," he said. He lifted the palm of his hand from the wheel to show her the disk again. "Every now and then it twinges, like it's growing a bit further, extending its tentacles."
"How often?" She asked.
"When I relax my hand." He fixed his eyes on the tail lights in front of them, and then as the line of cars halted for the fist car at the checkpoint, he glanced at her. "I can't get it out of my flesh, but it seems to burrow in only as I allow it to by relaxing. If I stay tense and don't want it to burrow any deeper, it seems to stop."
"You'd better put on your glove before we get to the gate," she said.
He nodded and did as she suggested. At last the line of cars inched forward, car by car, and they reached the guard station. Boyd tipped his hat and handed over their one-day pass, and the guard waved them through.
"Should we go on to UNIT?" she asked. But the telephone in the car trilled, and he scooped up the receiver. He listened without speaking and then said, "Yes, all right." And he replaced it.
"We're to wait," he said. "The Brigadier's on his way. Left this afternoon. He's left orders for me to keep watch over you."
She let out her breath.
He met her eye. "These protestors or whoever they are mean business. That Hawthorne fellow attacked you." He threw a glance down at her foot. "And that was a deliberate attack from LeFranq."
At last, Liz let genuine concern for him show on her face. "But your hand---"
"My hand can wait a few hours more. Anyway, you're probably a better physician than anything UNIT has to offer. Look---"And he made his voice diplomatic, and yet there was a new firmness in it. "I don't want to be ham fisted and order you about, but I can't let you out of my sight. We're going to have to stay together."
"All right." She knew better than to argue. He clearly had determined that he had to take control. And, in a sense, staying put was wiser than traveling alone at night. The idea that these protestors had taken such trouble to identify her disturbed Liz's long-cherished view of somehow being a step apart from UNIT. She had been drafted away from Cambridge under protest, and she had always made her reluctance to be part of a military organization clear. And her independent streak had been encouraged by the Doctor. Yet, apparently, all of this amounted to nothing to outsiders.
Boyd read her sudden silence. "These protestors are obviously being stirred up and directed by somebody very good at fomenting disturbance in order to advance a plan."
"Yes," she said without thinking, not heeding him.
"They're keen on harming you because a woman was killed," he said. " An eye for an eye. You don't have to take it personally. It's their way of making a statement."
"I have no intention of taking any of this personally," she said. "Not them, not you, not any of this!" Her voice sounded astonishingly cold, even to her.
"All right, then," he said quietly.
"I apologize," she whispered. "I do take it personally that you've been wounded by that object---whatever it is. I'm not going to take your well-being lightly."
"And I'm sorry that a brilliant researcher like you got dragged into any of this." And his voice was suddenly direct and honest. "I believe in maintaining world peace, Professor Shaw. That's how I got into NATO. It's not what I thought it would be, but at least it was my choice."
She realized that he genuinely wanted to be friends. He was trying to understand her point of view. She glanced at him.
"I attended Stanford University, you know." And he made his voice cheerful. "Completed an undergraduate degree in Physics."
"You did?" This startled her.
"Barely scratches the surface compared to what you know. And it was the mathematics that actually interested me. Everything has a rate: Rate of change, rate of growth, rate of rate of acceleration." He offered a smile. "Rate of establishing peace."
"I wish it were that simple."
"We have to try." He waved his hand at her. "What about this? Can you try anything?"
She nodded. "Something about your hand activated it. We may be able to deactivate it. Is there a decent radio kit in the boot?"
"And a first aid kit?"
He nodded. "We can try," she said, and they drove in silence until the dark silhouettes of buildings ahead of them showed that they were approaching the town.
* * * *
Jimmy Munro had started his day at five a.m. when the alert had been broadcast. It was now nearly eight at night, and he had not yet had a moment to eat or even have tea.
Sgt. Benton entered Munro's postage-stamp sized office and smartly saluted.
"Yes all right," Munro said.
"I've got the list, sir."
"Has the round-up started?" Munro asked.
"Yes sir. We verified that somebody went down and unlocked the refuse collection access doors since the 6. a.m. lock inspection. Our own day shift doesn't have that key except on the master, which you had. But the custodial people keep a few of them hung on hooks in the custodial closet. Anybody could have nicked one and unlocked the door."
"What's the status?"
"The lads are out rounding up the canteen and custodial people who were on shift today. We hope to have them brought in before nine."
"All right. Arrange them in groups of five under surveillance. Offer them tea and be polite." He rubbed his forehead for a moment. "I'll start interrogations as soon as we get them checked off. I've got to call the Brig."
"Everything all right, sir?"
Munro let out a breath. "That Professor Shaw's gone and mucked things up for us. A proper job, too."
Benton blinked in surprise.
"She went all idealistic on us and called for an in-depth investigation at TSRG. Right on the air waves!"
"I thought the Brigadier had promised her---"
"I know Sergeant. Useless university prats, all of them." With an effort, he swallowed back his sudden dislike of Liz Shaw. "All right. See to the round up. We've got to find the inside person who's been helping these protestors." He scooped up the phone. "Oh and Benton?"
At the doorway, Sgt. Benton stopped and glanced back at his CO. "Yes sir?"
"What's the status of the Doctor? The Brig likes to stay informed."
Sgt. Benton frowned. "The Doctor's gone, sir. I thought he left on orders from the Brigadier."
Munro's jaw dropped, and he paused in the act of lifting the receiver. "Never! The Brig wanted him to gather up some more information here."
"He's been gone for hours, sir. Went up in Bessie about a half hour after the UNIT platoon went up."
Munro regained himself. His eyes were rueful. "Right then. Get about your tasks, Sergeant. I don't want you to have to hear this."
Benton nodded, offered a quick salute, and hurried out.
* * * *
The "pub" that Boyd had located offered comfortable upstairs rooms. While traveling to remote locations with the Doctor, Liz had bunked in places that had offered little more than an overnight berth. But now her own room had a window that overlooked the street below, a large and comfortable bed made up with a hand sewn quilt, and a pair of comfortable overstuffed chairs with a small table between them.
Liz wondered if Boyd meant to actually spend the night in her room. He showed no indication of leaving her. First he lugged up her small overnight case, the RT kit, and the first aid box from the staff car. Then he brought up a tray of Smith's Nut Brown Ale purchased at the bar, and he set these on the low table. She sat in one of the chairs.
"Let's see that hand," she told him.
Obligingly, he sat in the opposite chair and peeled off the glove. He extended his hand, palm up. She gingerly prodded the disk-like object with a pencil eraser, and he didn't flinch. Then she looked closely at the flesh of his hand. Vein-like cords fanned out from the disk and tunneled down into the flesh of the heel of his hand. He leaned closer to watch her inspection.
"No pain from having it pushed?" she asked.
"No. Just feels like your pushing into my hand with the flat of your fingernail."
"The roots have grown in further, Corporal."
"Have they?" He leaned closer still.
"You didn't feel any burrowing?"
"No. But I think you're right. It looks like the roots have extended."
She pulled on the disk. Instead of producing any reaction of pain from him, the disk itself suddenly altered. The raised center swiftly changed from round to hexagonal. Its center became concave, and its edges became sharply distinct. He gave a slight jump as though he'd been shocked.
"I felt that all the way up my arm," he said. "What did you do?"
"I don't know, so I'd better not do anything else." Yet, dissatisfied, she held his open hand in both her hands and stared in frustrated and absorbed interest at the cybergenic device.
She suddenly realized that their faces were very close. "You know, I had a pretty little cat once that used to get that same perplexed look in her eyes when she couldn't catch that mouse." And he smiled. "She'd sit there all day and wait if she had to."
Liz felt a sudden, momentary resentment that quickly gave way to uncertainty. As a rule, she avoided overly friendly discussion with the uniformed men. And she didn't approve of flirting with them. But she genuinely liked him; and his calm self-control and friendliness were charming.
She decided to be business-like. "It may be that the warmth of your hand signaled to this thing to activate. Or the low electrical current that your body generates. What we have to do is make it go dormant."
"What would make it go dormant?"
She glanced at the RT kit. "A good electromagnetic pulse might do it."
He slipped his hand out of hers and sat back, still smiling. He took up one of the bottles. "Like a beer, Professor?"
"You're very calm, you know." She also sat back.
"Oh, I'm finding this thing quite dreadful, but orders are orders, and so far I seem unimpaired. I say, look at this" He effortlessly fitted the head of the bottle into his palm, right into the concave disk on his palm. He popped the bottle top off with it. "Well! Let us be thankful for small mercies, ey?" And he offered her the open bottle.
She took it and could not refrain from staring at the bottle top.
"It is a connector," he said. He showed her his open palm and then by the same method took the bottle cap off of another bottle. "To your good health, Professor." And he lifted the bottle and then took a drink.
"Thank you," she said. But she set down her beer without drinking. "First we need to build a good magnetic device."
"What should I do?" he asked.
"Sit there and keep me entertained." She opened the RT kit and started to rummage around. There was spare copper wire in the tool pouch, and some thoughtful technician had actually supplied some iron nails and a small hammer for quick jury-rigging of antenna. "This will do nicely."
"You're going to pound it out of me? Thought you were more sophisticated than that."
"Drink your beer, Corporal. Science has advanced quite a lot since the middle ages."
He watched as she quickly wrapped copper wire around a nail in tight coils. With the hammer, she tapped the nail into the table top to steady it. "I'm afraid I'll have to sacrifice a lamp," she said.
The large bed had lamps on either side. She took one of these, unplugged it, and stripped off the cord from it. Boyd lent her his pen knife, and she stripped back the wire on the cord enough to expose the wires. She connected the two exposed wires from the lamp cord to the ends of the copper wire that wrapped the nail, making a closed circuit.
"Don't touch that exposed wire," she told him. "But hold your open hand towards the wrapped nail. When it electrifies, the magnetic waves it generates may blank out any electronic signaling in the disk."
He nodded. "I see. If we can get the disk to blank out, at least for a moment, maybe you could pull the disk from my hand."
She opened the first aid kit, found a cheap set of plastic forceps, and took it up in her right hand.
She plugged the lamp cord into the wall and glanced at him. He had his hand up to the wrapped nail. He suddenly gasped. "Now it hurts. It hurts like blazes."
"Whatever narcotizing effect it's been sending into your nervous system has been damped down," she said. "Can you bear it?"
She slipped the edge of one side of the forceps under the disk, and he gasped with pain, but they could both see that the grip of this odd device was loosening on him. It was less able to burrow into his flesh with a tight hold.
"Try to go quickly," he said. "It feels like the roots are retracting a bit." He was in pain, and sudden sweat showed on his face.
Liz had hoped that the magnetic resonances set up by the AC current would have caused the disk to retract its roots completely, but this did not happen. She had to pull the device out of the flesh of his hand. Corporal Boyd groaned as she did this, but he nodded several times, telling her to go on. She pulled the disk away, revealing four long, thin strands that had traveled down into his flesh. They were reluctant to give way, and she feared snapping them off if she pulled too hard on the disk.
But just as she felt a twinge of despair that the disk would not release its hold, Boyd nodded to the improvised magnet to tell her to keep the disk close to the copper coils as she pulled, instead of pulling straight up. She did, and suddenly the strands slipped out of his flesh and snapped into the disk. With the forceps, she dropped the disk into the RT kit and snapped it closed. She quickly fastened the catches.
Then she pulled the plug from the cord and turned to him. He was white from the pain of the extraction. She rested her hand on his shoulder to steady him. "All right?" she whispered.
"I will be." He nodded.
She made her voice gentle. "Let me see to your hand."
* * * *
The Brigadier sat in the rear of his own staff car, intently studying the reports on TSRG, when his driver abruptly looked up. "Sir!"
"Yes, what is it?"
"The Doctor, coming up fast!"
"What? What are you talking about?"
But just then, the Brigadier saw the running lights of the lanterns that hung on either side of Bessie, their yellowish glow framing the bright white headlights. To confirm the image, Bessie's telltale tooting as the Doctor used the bicycle horn told the Brigadier that the Doctor had decided to take things into his own hands.
"Tell him to turn around and get about his business!" the Brigadier snapped.
"I can't sir! He's got no radio and no car phone!"
The two white headlights framed by the smaller running lights sped towards the rear of the staff car like a meteor cluster, then came alongside. The Brigadier had one sight of the Doctor giving him a cheery wave, and then Bessie sped ahead of them and vanished up the dark road.
* * * *
Cleaning the hand was a quick job. The thin filament anchors of the disk had penetrated several inches into his flesh, but the strands had been so thin that there was very little blood and no open wound once the strands were removed. Liz soaked a cotton pad with peroxide as a poultice and wrapped it over his hand, then taped it into place.
She limped to the bathroom and gave him water drawn from the tap at the sink. As she cleared up the items from the first aid kit, she could not resist quickly patting away the perspiration from his forehead with a square of gauze as he took the water. She tossed the gauze sponge into the waste basket, aware of his eyes on her. But he said nothing to address this fleeting tenderness.
"Now we can have our beer," he said instead.
"Oh yes!" And she sat down and took up her bottle. She was glad of it. It had been a harrowing day.
"It's my turn," he said, but he was leaned back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling. "I need to see to your foot."
"Oh it will keep." She could feel that the foot was swelling in her shoe, but she wanted to stop for a moment and just enjoy their beer.
He eyed his bandaged palm. "It was a connector to something. But what? And where on earth did it come from?"
Her mind flicked over to the Doctor. "We need to get back to UNIT."
But Boyd was not distracted from his line of thought. "Like it's a socket connector for tools, or weapons. Just plug them right into your hand and whack away."
"But it embedded into your hand only because you picked it up, unadvised. It may not be designed as you suggest. You may not have handled it in the way that the designer intends."
"So if you smacked one onto somebody's head--or spine--" He stopped, his eyebrows knit together. "What would it do a person?"
"I'm not sure."
* * * *
The small UNIT fleet of two jeeps and two enclosed cars pulled up at the gate of TSRG just as the Brigadier received the call from Munro. UNIT's commander was in the rear seat of the staff car. Impatient to move forward, he pushed the control button on his door to bring the side window down. Telephone receiver held to one ear, he craned his head outside the car window to see what was going on at the gate.
"What's that?" he asked as Munro reported. "She did what?"
He was further distracted as a bright yellow vehicle swiftly pulled up alongside and stopped without skidding. "What are you doing at TSRG? Show's over!" the Doctor exclaimed.
"What the blazes are you doing here?"
"What's that sir?" Munro asked over the phone.
"Where is Liz staying?" the Doctor called.
"She's gone and called for a government investigation!"
"Where is she staying?
"Some pub back that way! Corporal Boyd is with her! They've made some sort of discovery, but Boyd wouldn't say what over the air waves!"
The Doctor turned the wheel tightly and sped off, gravel spurting.
* * * *
"And then there were those hogs," Liz said. She stared dreamily at the ceiling. She was on her second bottle of beer, and she welcomed the moment of relaxation. She felt very good.
"Is that what was happening to my hand?" Boyd asked. "Did somebody feed those disks to the hogs and the disks rooted into them and tore apart their insides?"
"No, no of course not!" And her tone of concern was much warmer than it had been.
He sighed and sat up in his chair. "Your foot," he said. She did not object.
"The carcasses were charred. The hogs were struck by something from the outside that did something to their internal organs---"
"All nicely scraped out--" he added ruefully.
"If we could get samples from what's left we might deduce something," she said.
He stood and opened the first aid kit, though not for any clear reason. Then he knelt down and carefully unbuckled and removed her shoe. As soon as he took the shoe off, she felt the blood push into swelling tissues.
"It's just bruised," she said without looking down.
His strong hand closed gently around the foot. "There are small bones in the foot," he said. "What if some are dislocated?"
She wiggled her toes. "I think it's all right. It will just be swollen."
He cautiously kneaded the sides of the foot and then very carefully stroked the bruised surface of the instep. "What about a cold compress?" He asked.
"It would feel good, but I don't think it would make much of a difference." At last she made herself sit up and look at the injured appendage. She was actually very tired. It had been a long day, and she had consumed the lagers more quickly than she should have. His strong hand felt oddly comforting as he held the foot. Boyd was not an exceptionally large man, but he was trim and fit, with broad shoulders for his size, and his hands were large and strong. He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Cold compress," he said judiciously.
He set down her foot and went to the small closet-sized room that housed the sink. She heard the water gush out as he opened the tap. She leaned back again. There were still a couple inches left in the lager bottle, and she took another drink. Everything was starting to feel good. Even the throbbing in her instep was hardly worth noticing. Then she squinted. "What's wrong with the lights?"
He re-entered, folding over a damp towel. "What lights?"
"The lights look all wrong."
"How much have you been drinking, Professor?" He knelt down and the sudden coolness of the damp towel revived her senses. He wrapped the coldness around her foot. She squinted again and said, "The lights----their out of phase--or, something. Flickering very fast."
He glanced around. "Are you sure?"
But as though in confirmation of her words, the lights dimmed almost to blackness and then brightened. Now alarmed, she sat up straight.
He pulled the wrap tight and set her foot down; then he stood. "Surely that's a problem in the building's lights." But he went to the window. The lights in the room brightened and then dimmed again so that the bulb in the overhead light turned into an eerily yellow coin. "No it's the lights on the street as well," he said.
Liz kicked her foot free of the towel and hurriedly pulled on her shoe. Now the shoe was tight; once released from it, her foot had quickly started swelling.
Boyd, now reduced to a shadowy form in the yellow tinted gloom, stepped back from the window, so that he would not be seen by anybody down on the street, but he was still scanning the world outside their room. "Everything's gone dim," he said. "Every light on the street."
But just then the lamps in their room flared to full brightness. Outside, the sound of car motors was suddenly very loud. Voices from down below revealed that the pub was emptying out.
Boyd strode to the door, and Liz went to the window, puzzled.
* * * *
On the lonely road outside of the village, the Brigadier and his men exited their dark vehicles and looked around. The town was dark, the vehicles were silent. Even the night sky was starless. In the distance, more than a mile behind them, they could see a faint glow in the sky that indicated that TSRG still had power.
"Even the communications are out, sir," the Brigadier's driver said. "No radio, and nothing on battery power either."
"I would expect that. The vehicle batteries are out as well," the Brigadier said. But just then one of the men, who was shaking his electric torch in a hopeful sort of way, started in surprise as the beam flickered to life and then glowed, shining onto his face. The Brigadier's driver quickly ducked into the staff car and tried the engine. It instantly roared into life. As though on a signal, the men clambered back into their four wheel-drive jeeps, and the Brigadier slid into his car. All the headlights brightened as the small fleet of five vehicles pulled out. Then, with a sudden wavering of head lights losing power, the vehicles again died.
* * * *
"It's some type of wild, uncontrolled inductance," Liz said. "It's suppressing the power fields of the electrical devices and power lines." The room was now completely dark. She went to the window. "Has it caused a panic?" From the street below, she could hear loud voices. They seemed to be getting closer to the pub.
"That mob's not related to the blackout," Boyd said. He was at the doorway. "That's somebody taking advantage of the blackout." He paused, and then he said, "It couldn't have been a secret that we'd be staying in this pub."
"Any type of attack from TSRG's opposition is hardly likely. I've come out publicly on the side of the village and the local people."
The shadow of Cpl. Boyd stayed at the door, turned away from her. He seemed to be intently waiting and listening, trying to determine if anybody was approaching on the other side, up the hallway. But he answered her: "Hawthorne and his fellow protestors are being directed. Possibly by TSRG. Certainly by somebody with an agenda that involves crippling or at least discrediting UNIT."
She stared out into the street below.
"Professor! Don't be stupid!" Boyd's figure, a mere dark shape, turned. Before she could make sense of what he was doing, he seized her and bodily dragged her back to the wall that abutted the next room. Just as he did, a rock crashed through the window where she'd been standing.
Liz had felt a hot flash of resentment at being hauled across the room in his arms, but as the glass shards sprayed across his back, she ducked her head into him.
His voice was strident. "Come on! We can't stop! You've got to get out!"
"Why would anybody do this?"
"We'll worry about that later!"
Keeping her covered as though he expected a volley of hand-thrown missiles to follow the first, he wrapped his arm around her, gripped her belt to hold her up, and crossed to the door with her. Liz didn't protest. She had no sense of strategy for a situation like this; and he did.
Boyd turned for an instant to keep himself between her and the door, and he pulled it open. The hallway was still empty, but from down below they heard a solid banging as somebody tried to break down the heavy door that led up to the rooms.
"They're in the pub. We'll try the back," he whispered.
Still keeping his arm around her and his grip on her belt, he started them off in the direction of the back rooms. She hurried with him. Her foot was painful now that it had been pushed back into her shoe, but the ankle was undamaged. She could walk on it.
They reached the end of the dark hallway. Boyd pulled on a door on their right. It was locked. He tried the opposite door, and it opened to reveal a narrow, steep staircase leading down into total darkness.
"Look for the dustbins. Go out that way," he said. "Get away through places where it's dark. Don't get into the light, if the lights come back on."
"What about you?"
"I'm going to go defend an empty room." He released her. "It will give you some time to get out of here."
"Don't argue now. Get down those steps!" He gave her a glare that she could just discern in the dimness by the window at the end of the hall. "If you stay with me we'll never get out safely. Do it this way!"
From the opposite end of the house, the distinct sound of a sturdy bolt breaking through wood told them that the door to the front stairs had been breached. People were coming up the steps. Boyd ran up the hall to make himself as visible as possible at the doorway to her room.
Liz turned and hurried down the narrow steps. She realized that Boyd's first assessment had been correct. Somebody had organized these people and was directing this attack.
A man's voice shouted at Boyd, "She's not getting away playing up to the press. It's too late for that. We'll ask our own questions of her."
"Then come and get her if you can!" Boyd's voice called, and the door slammed as he barricaded himself inside.
She didn't hesitate. The entire building was swathed in the unexpected darkness, but the back steps had no window, and the blackness was complete.
Hands searching the wall as she descended, Liz reached the ground floor and found the back door, right at the foot of the stairs. No back light would give her away if she were to exit here, but she did not stop. She bypassed the door and felt her way along a narrow passage that led her towards the front of the house.
She could hear the pub owner at the front, but she could not determine if he was resisting the attack force or persuading them to simply go up the steps to get her, and leave the rest of the place unmolested. Liz tried each door in the hallway and entered the first one that opened for her. It was a restroom.
This room was not quite as dark as the paneled hallway had been. Pale tiling on the floor reflected the faint sheen from the window. It was an old, sash-type window, at about chest height for her.
Liz crossed to the window and felt for a lock on the sash, but there was none. She pushed up on the frame. After a moment of steady pressure, it gave.
The window lifted without any betraying protests of wood against wood. For a moment she had to negotiate the difficulty of climbing through. But the noises were getting louder, and closer. They were closing off all possible escape routes. She found the sudden strength and confidence to hitch one leg very high over the sill. And then, by pulling with her arms and pushing off with her standing leg, she got through far enough to shove her head and shoulders outside the window. The night was dark and penetratingly cold. But the clumping noise of people running across the wooden floor upstairs sent a sudden warmth into her. She scrambled down and managed to get her trailing leg over the sill without getting it hung up.
She found herself behind a high hedge of leafless bushes. This side of the pub faced another, almost identical building across a narrow alley of hard packed dirt.
Her dismount from the window was just in time. Aware of the danger of her escape, a small cadre of three men suddenly pelted past the hedge in the darkness, and she heard one say, "No, there's no one in the backyard. She's still inside. We'll wait and stop her if she comes out that way."
It would be only a moment before they decided to start searching. As soon as they rushed past, she went to hands and knees and crawled through the hedge. The cold air nipped at her, but apart from her hands and nose, she was so warm that she was sweating. She took a quick look round and then darted across the hard packed dirt to the next hedge over. She crawled through. Then she stayed low and ran along the wall of the building, around the back and to its other side. Fleetingly, she wondered if Boyd could get out safely.
By this time, a loud, shrill call from a police whistle and the shouts of men in argument and conflict reached her. The people who had stormed the pub were at last being challenged by the town's legal force. But there was no guarantee of safety. In fact, she realized that if the mob were scattered by the police, then isolated fugitives might overtake her as they fled.
She came to narrower houses, without hedges, that were set closer together. She stayed as close to the walls as she could and kept moving away from the pub. She wished now that she had her coat, for she realized that once she stopped, the cold would strip away her body heat.
The best thing would be to move towards the very edge of the village main street and hide in whatever shelter she could find or contrive. If the lights came back on, she could find her way to the police station.
She had put nearly a dozen buildings between herself and the pub, and now she took a moment to crouch between two parked cars in a dirt-packed alleyway off of the road. But a sudden, white glare threw itself against the walls of the nearest houses. It flashed through the windscreens of the cars. Liz ducked and shielded her eyes. A moment later, the white brilliance flashed again. It wasn't lightning. It was too low and there was no accompanying thunder.
But if anybody were watching, the light had bathed her perfectly in its stark whiteness. She darted out from the cars and ran to the next building, but she realized that such a trajectory of flight was predictable to anybody watching. She chose to cross the wide street before the light flashed again.
As soon as she reached this decision, she made the attempt. But halfway across, the white flash was repeated, and she was outlined from head to foot, a clear silhouette on the open street. Sudden footsteps and the sound of people pushing through hedges warned her of her danger. Nobody shouted or called out that they had seen her. But she didn't waste time. She ran straight towards the bulky, tall shadows of the nearest buildings.
Then she plunged into a narrow lane and raced along a dark line of parked cars. Something from between the cars leaped out in front of her--the figure of a tall man. She crashed into him just as she saw him, and he engulfed her in a grip too powerful to break. He dragged her into the line of vehicles and forced her down so that they were hidden in the cars.
Liz tried to cry out, but he kept her face against himself, stifling her outcry. For a split second she panicked, and then she realized that he had spoken. "It's all right, Liz. It's all right."
It was the Doctor.
She felt the velvet of his smoking jacket on the side of her face; and the smell of him, that mix of men's cologne and the faint scent of camphor and lavender from his clothing, wiped away her sudden terror. But she had to catch her breath before she could make herself whisper. He relaxed his hold on her head and answered before she spoke. "It's all right. I came to get you as soon as I realized you were in danger."
She found her voice. "A mob came. They stormed the pub when the lights went out. I think they wanted to---to lynch me, or kidnap me."
"Following the example of the IRA," he whispered. "Tormenting young women to make an example."
"An innocent woman's been killed. They're blaming UNIT. They can't be placated."
"All right. We'll sort them out. As soon as we can."
He'd pulled her down so that she could not have regained her feet unless he helped her up. And neither of them dared to make any noise yet. So she folded her hands together against him. Now the cold was getting to her. He pulled his cape around so that she was covered. The heaviness of it surprised her. She wondered how he could walk around in it as easily as he did. They waited in silence, and she caught her breath while the cape captured the warmth from the two of them and seeped into her.
The abbreviated riot seemed to be dispersing. As they waited, Liz sensed the quietness in the Doctor. His breathing was slow and regular, that of a person accustomed to waiting, to letting time do its work. He breathed far more deeply than humans did, with great ease, and she recalled once that he'd remarked that his blood was far more sludgy in texture than human blood. It would take a better set of lungs to push it through his veins and arteries--but then, he had two hearts. She caught herself and stopped analyzing his physiology.
But she realized, as she listened to the deep, slow inhalations of his quiet breathing, that she hardly knew him. So much of the Doctor was a mask, an act, a mere image that covered a powerful, intelligent person trying to fit with human beings, trying to understand them and be accepted as one of them, and yet resenting them and resenting his exile among them. But he had saved her life before, and he was protecting her now. He was imperious, eccentric, and vain. Yet he was also gallant, tender hearted, and loyal. She suddenly felt sorry for him.
"Boyd tried to divert them from me," she whispered.
"All right." He wanted her to stay quiet. They listened for another long moment. A weaker flash of white bathed the walls of the buildings.
"What's doing that?" she asked. But just then the lights all around brightened at last. Windows glowed bright yellow, and street lights came on again. He pulled her further into the lee of the vehicle that sheltered them so that they would stay in the shadows. "It had to be a powerful inductive device that suppressed the power," she whispered.
"And these flashes are uncontrolled discharges---capacitance---going off like lightning. Somebody's playing with forces of energy that they don't comprehend." To her surprise, he covered her head with his hand---an unconscious gesture of protectiveness and sudden concern.
"What are you afraid of?" she whispered.
"Forces of energy that people don't comprehend, Liz," he whispered. "I'm not sure. I can't remember it properly, and I don't see how any such thing could be. Are we being invaded?" This was more to himself.
"Invaded by what?" she asked.
"I don't want to say. It wouldn't happen like this. I don't think they probe or wait. Don't they strike with a massive initial strike? Or else they infiltrate politically?"
She looked up at him. "Who?"
"I'm not getting it right. It's all muddled." Even in the darkness, she saw the faint shine of his gray eyes as he looked at her, wanting her to remember a memory that they did not share. "Weren't you in that long hallway with me when the man was killed?" But he corrected himself. "That wasn't you. That was long ago." Again, she sensed a certain dread in him. But he made himself more resolute. "All we've seen are wild inductance and capacitance," he said. "Tomorrow we'll run radiation tests. Maybe those NATO fools have undertaken a rash scientific venture."
"If that's true, we have to find out what it is."
The welcome sound of cars being started reached them. People trapped by the power suppression and frightened by the mob that had stormed the pub were now getting away, going home. A police van, incongruous in the now silent village, went past, its searchlight scanning the street. And within a moment or two, the UNIT fleet sped by, heading for the pub. She began to feel self conscious.
"I think it's safe for us to get you back to your rooms." And he would have helped her up, but the faintest scrape of metal on paving stopped them. The Doctor pulled her back with instant speed. His grip was like iron. He was frightened.
She knew not to speak. They listened for a moment, and Liz was amazed to sense the fear coming from him. They were hiding in the dark lee of a line of cars and vans. On the other side, out in the lane, heavy footsteps fell, accompanied by an odd, metallic grating sound. Liz couldn't identify it. She heard a faint gasping, as of a person exercising great effort or perhaps experiencing great pain. And there was an accompanying tread of heavy boots. She identified two men in boots, walking side by side. But she didn't know what the grating sound was.
Soundlessly, the Doctor clasped her head as the booted footsteps came nearer. He held her head sheltered against his neck, as a man does when he expects some devastating blow to strike a person he protects. He was holding his breath.
Liz had never known real fear to be in him. For a moment she was confused by it, but then it began to roll over her. It was drawing her in, as though he were explaining it to her, and she had to listen more clearly. Yet he wasn't speaking. He didn't seem aware of her, now, but his overpowering dread was calling to her. She suddenly closed her eyes and opened her awareness.
With every tread of the footsteps, his hearts had begun to beat in cadence. She saw a long, undecorated corridor with gleaming walls and inclined ramps. And a sense of people having died came over her: friends and comrades. There was smoke but no flames, and dead bodies killed as though in rows, and yet no radiation or heat. And over all, there hung a tremendous grief, a great sense of uncertainty as the Doctor considered an enemy who killed because it believed that killing was the ultimate aim of war, and war the ultimate aim of a superior race.
The great white flashes had been losing luminosity, but now there was a final flash of light, not as powerful as the first had been. On the wall of the building closest to where they hid in the lee of the parked cars, Liz saw a great shadow cast: the shadow of the car that sheltered them, and over it, cast from whoever was passing by them on the other side, the shadows of two of the security men from TSRG, identifiable by the shape of the hats.
And slightly ahead of them, an undiscernable figure: a domed head, probably helmeted, and a body made irregular by loops and loops of flexible piping and power cords hung all over the torso. The silhouette of the person had taken on a shape more similar to a small Christmas tree than a human form; only it had a domed head. The shadows of fine wires radiated from the domed shadow of the helmet. And this figure, which did not step like a human being but rather glided in an uneven, uncertain way, seemed to be holding something upright before it with arms folded, for this branch-like appendage seemed part of it, as though it had no arms. She could not tell because the shadow of the car blotted out all the figures out below chest height.
The Doctor whispered one word, unaware of even speaking it: "Dalek," he said, his whisper almost without breath. And again, the overwhelming sense of danger, of heartbreaking loss of comrades, and the despair of a war that could not be won, rushed over her.
I appreciate comments from readers. Please tell me what worked for you in the story and what did not work. Did any part move too slowly? Was the story hard to get into? Were any of the characters not true to the television series? I appreciate all input.