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
The chill on the floorboards and a cold wetness on her slacks brought Liz to an aching awareness. She heard the men scrabbling at the sides of the truck and remembered where she was. For a moment she didn't know what to do, and then savage hands yanked open the doors of the truck. She was hauled out by her shoulders, and she had one glimpse of Boyd's body being pulled out the opposite side. The cold wetness on her leg, she realized, was his blood.
"Is she hurt?" a voice asked. She was set on her feet and given a slight shove. She looked around at her captors.
"Not hurt," one said. "Bit woozy from the wreck."
A man with a lined face but huge eyes gasped, "You didn't have to shoot right off!" And somebody else made a sound of agreement.
Liz pulled herself together. Three men, two of them armed with guns, had her surrounded, but they seemed unsure what to do next. She heard other men on the other side of the truck, checking Corporal Boyd.
Footsteps brushed through the rough ground cover, and she realized that somebody was coming around the truck to inspect her and assess the situation. She recognized him as he worked his way around the tangled thicket and solid tree that had stopped the truck and smashed its fender.
"Hawthorne!" she said.
Hawthorne tossed his rifle to the unarmed man, who expertly caught it with both hands. The former UNIT prisoner seized Liz by her arms and pulled her in. "I did the shooting," he said to the man who had protested, though he kept his eyes fixed on Liz. "And I'll answer for it. He would have run us down if we'd tried anything else. I wasn't going to give him a chance."
"We were only going to shoot out the tyres. You've killed him!" the first man exclaimed. "He was just a foot soldier!"
Hawthorne kept hold of Liz but turned his head to regard his challenger. "How many times have we erred on the side of mercy and gotten no where?" he asked. "We had to shake them up. We've got to let them know that we mean business. They've killed innocent people too! They started the killing!"
"This soldier you've killed was helping me call for an investigation into TSRG!" Liz said. She had thought she was in control of herself, but her voice---even to her---sounded on the edge of hysteria.
He swiftly turned to her and seized her hair in back so that she had to look up at him. Hot anger thrust away her fear and grief, and she slapped him.
Just as quickly, he slapped her, a devastating blow that knocked her into the truck. The man who had challenged Hawthorne caught her and helped her up.
"Stop that!" one of the others shouted at Hawthorne. "What're you doing? We're not criminals!"
Liz sensed the dread, fear, and confusion in the man who helped her to her feet. Hawthorne's troop of vigilantes, she realized, ran the full range from opportunist to idealist.
"We are criminals," Hawthorne said evenly. "I spent a day in lockup, treated like a criminal. Just ask her!"
The man who was protecting her answered for the one who had protested. "We don't behave like criminals. I won't let you abuse a woman."
But the man who had caught Hawthorne's gun spoke: "And what if we have to kill her? She's a hostage."
Her protector barely hesitated, but then his grip on her arm tightened, suddenly possessive in a way that was not entirely protective. "Then we kill her, and I hope we don't have to. But we're not going to abuse her before it comes down to that."
Two other men, one of them armed and the other carrying the RT from the truck, came around the back of the ruined vehicle. They said nothing either way and didn’t look at her. But the first man, the one with the lined face who had protested the slap, gave his verdict: "George is right. The whole point is not to kill the hostage. She's only worth something to us alive. And in the meantime, we owe her decent treatment."
Hawthorne's jaw dropped. "Why do we owe her decent treatment?"
The man who had taken charge of her, George, now seemed on firmer footing. "We owe it to ourselves. If our cause is just, we have to behave like people who believe in justice. I don't care who she is or what she's done, she's not to be abused. We’ll do what we have to, according to justice. But no hitting or slapping or pushing, if it can be avoided."
"Thank you," Liz said quietly.
"Be quiet," he told her. "Turn 'round. Put your hands behind your back."
She obeyed him without protest. As though to show his comrades that mere sentiment had not been affecting him, he passed his gun to one of the others, pulled a cotton kerchief from a pocket of his work pants, and firmly bound her hands behind her back.
"All right," he said, and he guided her to turn around.
"Afraid I'll overpower you?" she asked.
"See?" Hawthorne asked. "Some of 'em beg to be hit."
"I'm not going to make it any easier on you than I have to," George said. "And if I have to, I'll shoot you myself---"
"Of course you will," she snapped. "Like you just shot a young soldier whose only crime was driving a truck." And then the worst thing happened, her eyes filled up with tears. She clamped down on them, and she willed herself not to shake or openly lament over Boyd. She had to be angry on his behalf, not grief-stricken. Not in front of them. Grief would have to come later.
"I didn't shoot him!" he barked.
"Shut her up, I tell you," Hawthorne ordered.
But George was caught on his own words. "I'll shoot you if TSRG breaks any truces," he told her. "You are a hostage, and you'll have your role to play."
"It doesn't have to come to that!" George's ally said, his tone dogged. He was a short, broad man, the eldest member of the group of vigilantes, and he looked almost as shocked as Liz felt. But he kept his voice insistent. "We have to work not to let this situation break down into who kills who. The whole point is to get them out of here, not kill people for revenge! Not them, and not her!"
George hesitated, and Liz remained silent. She realized that this oldest man with the lined face, whoever he was, did not approve of all that had just happened. The weight of Boyd's murder was hitting him full force.
"You're right," George said after a moment. "Nobody wants to hurt anybody."
"We never started this with an aim to hurt people or take up guns," the older man said, and though he was looking at George, Liz realized that he was actually speaking to her. She suddenly felt sorry for him.
"By heavens, you're innocent!" Hawthorne exclaimed. "Let's go then. Anything good in the truck?"
One of the men held up the RT. George and his friend, the short, broad, bearded man, frowned as if to ask what good an RT set would be. But Hawthorne, perhaps re-exerting his authority after having to yield to two subordinates, nodded. "That'll be a lot of help," he said. "We can break in on their frequencies. Listen in on their conversations." Then he jerked his head in the direction of the stunted trees and fields of straw-like grass. "Let's go then."
George now seemed to be accepted by the others as the person to take charge of their prisoner. He wrapped his hand around her upper arm, perhaps to steady her as much as to force her to along. He nodded for her to walk with him after Hawthorne, and she did. The others fell into line, and the group of them trudged silently away from the smashed truck, leaving behind the body of Cpl. Boyd sprawled on the ground. A stiff breeze puffed through the open doors on either side of the cab, scattering the contents of the dossiers across the bloody floorboards and out into the cold, windy day.
* * * *
At first, the Doctor had expected that the TSRG security guards would boot them right off the site. But Redbird's leadership, when he exercised it, was far less decisive than LeFranq's. He did not hinder the search of the buildings and grounds. Indeed, neither the Doctor nor the Brigadier saw Redbird, LeFranq, or Schepansky for the rest of the day. And though the black jacketed, jack booted guards shadowed the UNIT soldiers and at times seemed to be conferring via handheld radio with each other over UNIT's actions, the guards hung back.
The Brigadier had only a dozen men for the search: not nearly enough. But the half dozen others who'd come north from HQ as part of the convoy had to seal the gates and watch them.
Lethbridge Stewart broke the available men up into four three-man teams. He attached the Doctor to one team and attached himself to another. They agreed to start the search as an overview of the site so that they could draw up a grid for a more thorough investigation. Each team would go to the outer edge of the grounds on the North, South, East, and West points and move towards the center.
The Doctor, much to the Brigadier's surprise, chose the barren North point. This area Housed the dismal utilities outbuildings, which were kept at a vast distance from the central buildings. Indeed, travel to this remote section of the site required use of two jeeps, and they had to request magnetic pass cards to get through the automated gates of the inner perimeter fence and the second perimeter fence. These passes were given to them by the gatehouse guards without comment or complaint.
As the Doctor waited in one jeep with his driver while the other driver walked from the gatehouse with the magnetic cards, Lethbridge Stewart and his driver pulled up alongside. They were in an open truck.
"It's going to be a bumpy ride," the Doctor warned him. "Those trucks aren't built for rough riding over open terrain."
"Won't do permanent damage," the Brigadier assured him. "And if we find any of those hog carcasses, I want to bring several of them back for you and Miss Shaw to examine." As though reminded of something, he glanced at his watch.
"If you're taking the Western sector, you'll have some open ground to map," the Doctor said. "But if you get your grid finished in a hurry, you can lend us a hand."
Lethbridge Stewart threw a glance back at the RT set that was buckled into a harness in the back. He cast a quick glance at his wristwatch again.
"Look are you waiting for something?" the Doctor asked.
"Boyd didn't check in at the half hour," the Brigadier said. "And he's five minutes late on the hour." He glanced at the Doctor.
"He might miss the half hour," the Doctor ventured.
"I don't want to thin out the search teams any further, but I have to." And Lethbridge Stewart suddenly became resolute. "We'll split my team in half and send the other two after Boyd and Miss Shaw."
The Doctor paused, and then he nodded. "Perhaps you'd better."
For a moment both of them hesitated, as though unsure of how much worry should be allotted to Boyd's radio silence. The soldiers were notoriously bad about the half hour checks when they were busy, but usually anybody assigned to escort or accompany a non-military person checked in on schedule. And yet if the radio had gone out, Boyd would not sidetrack his journey to find a telephone. He would accomplish his brief mission as swiftly as possible and return directly.
I'll stay on top of the situation," the Brig said briefly. He turned to his driver. "Wave them in, will you?"
"Better tell them to be prepared for anything," the Doctor said as the other truck rolled towards them. "We'll get started on our part. You'll keep me advised if anything's gone amiss?"
The Doctor turned to his own driver. "Right then, let's go see what's hiding out there."
* * * *
The man who kept hold of her arm, George, gradually became more embarrassed as the march continued. Liz was far shorter than five of her six captors, the only exception being the broad-shouldered, long-armed Rafe, who had spoken so clearly on not harming her. She did not protest the long forced march, and her efforts to keep up the pace only made her comparative physical weakness more apparent. George had to catch her several times as she hurried too quickly on loose terrain or didn't pick her feet up high enough over tangled pieces of ground cover. Except for Hawthorne, who ignored her and led the march, her silent struggle to stay up with them became a weight on all of them, as they began to feel like bullies for forcing her along with her hands bound.
Rafe's clear but silent disgust at everything that had happened, from the killing of Boyd to the taking of a woman hostage, also effected all of the men. Hawthorne was now defensive and unrelenting in his bearing as he led them on the march. George was embarrassed and in some moments seemed ashamed, remorseful over Boyd, and worried. The others, at the very least, were uneasy with the situation.
After forty minutes of wading through the rough grasses and pushing through occasional thickets of stunted trees, they came to a broken down skeleton of an abandoned cottage, where two battered, mud-encrusted vehicles waited. One was a van, and without waiting to discuss the matter, Hawthorne unlocked the back of it and opened the two doors, revealing an interior that was almost empty, except for some sacking in the near corner. He pushed this aside, revealing a coil of rope and---beneath it---a coil of small-linked chain. He withdrew an arm span of the chain to full length and turned to Liz.
Liz backed up at sight of it, for the intent was clear, and Rafe shouted, "No!"
"Just to keep her secured," Hawthorne said. "While we move her."
"But where could I escape out here?" Liz asked. She looked up at the man named George, who had not released her arm. "Please don't let him do this to me!"
"You shut up!" Hawthorne ordered.
George became decisive. "She can't escape. She'll be locked in, in back."
"She can call out and bang on the sides for help," Hawthorne told him.
"I'll ride along with her," Rafe said.
"And me," George added.
"Let's just go!" one of the other men shouted, now out of patience. "The longer we stand here and drone on about it, the longer we give TSRG to find that soldier and come looking along the road!"
"In with you, then" George said, his voice resolute but not unkind. Without looking at Hawthorne, he came alongside her to help her into the back of the van, and Rafe came to her other side. "Mind your head," George added, as she unsteadily climbed in with her hands tied behind her back. He and Rafe helped her and then climbed in after her. They glanced back at their leader, but Hawthorne was saving face by behaving as though seating the passengers was not his concern.
"I'll ride with them," one of the others said. Liz had already identified this man as Hawthorne's confidante, and she realized that he was coming to keep an eye on things for his master.
"All right then," Hawthorne said. The third man climbed in, and Hawthorne slammed the doors closed. The windows on the doors let in sufficient light to see. George sat across from Liz, and the third man sat between her and the doors. Rafe sat on her other side.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"That's not your business!" the third man said.
"Let's get those hands free," Rafe told her. He set the safety on his rifle and pushed it to the other end of the cargo hold.
"Are you daft?" the third man asked as she turned away from Rafe to let him untie her hands.
"Oh, she's no danger to us. Get the first aid kit, George." And Rafe pulled and tugged at the knots until at last her hands came free.
George unbuckled a metal cargo cover over the rear wheel and lifted out a metal box.
"Sit back and let me get a look at you. I won't hurt you. She bashed her head when the truck hit, and nobody's seen to her," Rafe snapped. "Give me the antiseptic. Look at that bump. How's your head, Miss?"
"I hit it," she said.
"Aye, anybody can see that. You've got blood and a whacking big lump." George tipped out hydrogen peroxide onto a gauze sponge and passed it to him. Gently, Rafe took her chin by one calloused hand and gingerly touched the wet sponge to her forehead. Pain sprouted out from the bump and the shallow gash where she'd hit the glove box, but she winced and tried not to flinch.
"All right, young lady, it's not pleasant is it? But you're not badly hurt. No dizziness?"
"Only when it first happened," she said.
The third man made a sound of disgust and folded his arms, his gun between himself and the doors. He stared fixedly at the opposite wall. George looked down, but every now and then he cast looks of exasperated regret at both Liz and Rafe. Rafe mopped out the gash and then swiftly checked her head for injury with a surprising expertise. But she was all right.
He sat back. "Now then," he said. He reached into his heavy coat and produced a silver flask from a hidden pocket. Liz felt some alarm at the thought of them breaking out the whiskey with her as their prisoner, but Rafe smiled. "Sweet tea," he said. "I'm not old enough for strong spirits."
He passed it to her. "We'll share, if you like."
She was grateful for his hospitality, but her hands were still clumsy from being bound, and when she tried to take the flask she saw, to her embarrassment, that her hand was shaking quite visibly. Rafe, and even George, saw this. Without taking the flask, she dropped her hand and quickly rubbed it with the other. "It's still numb," she said. And then, "I'm not frightened."
But her words conveyed the opposite meaning. "Of course you're not," Rafe said. "And you don't need to be." And he glared at George and the other man.
"No, nobody wants to hurt anybody. We just want TSRG out of here," George said.
"I'm a Cambridge scientist. I'm not with TSRG," Liz told them.
"You're in the TSRG files!" the third man snapped. "We know you work for them!"
"I don't work for them. UNIT sent me as a third party investigator."
"It's all a front. A conspiracy to let TSRG have its way."
"I called for a public inquiry!" she exclaimed.
"Yes on a broadcast that was conveyed only here and far away in London."
"I had no control over that!" she looked around at all three of them. "Do you think the BBC is a part of this conspiracy?"
Nobody answered her. At last, Rafe said gently, "Try some tea, now."
* * * *
The soldiers were accustomed to accepting inexplicable behavior from the Doctor, so they were not unduly surprised when the time lord ordered the jeeps to come to a halt before they had even reached the north point of the search. But when he exited his vehicle and got down on hands and knees to part the thick, tough grasses in his search for a load of dead hogs, they wondered if UNIT's scientific advisor had gone 'round the twist.
The three soldiers stood nearby and watched him as he parted the grasses, squinted at the ground, and then scrambled forward on his knees and repeated this procedure.
"Are you quite sure you're going about this in the best way, Doctor?" one of them finally asked.
Distracted, the white-haired time lord looked up. "What? Oh yes. You fellows can carry on and take a look round over that way if you like. I'm right on the track here." But then he sat up on his knees. "How are we equipped? Forensic equipment?"
"First aid kit," one of them said helpfully.
He gave a slight nod. "I suppose some of the first aid materials are sealed in bags."
"Good. Just be a good chap and bring me the bags. Then off you go."
This was soon accomplished. The three soldiers fanned out on foot to get their bearings and mark their grids. The Doctor continued his much more minute search of the vast field. By the time an hour had passed, one of the soldiers returned to check him and found he had covered about a 20-foot by 20-foot patch. At the end of the second hour, the appointed soldier returned to find that the Doctor had vanished.
Just as the puzzled man pulled out his radio to call in, the Doctor's voice from the same device prevented him. "Look, this is the Doctor. I'm at the fence. Outer perimeter. Come and get me will you? I'm ready. I've got what I need! Tell the Brigadier to cancel the search."
The Brigadier's voice cut in. "This is Track Leader. Have you found the hogs?"
"What? No of course not. Look, come get me will you? It's freezing cold out here."
"Stay where you are," the Brig said. "I'm on my way to your location. We've got a job to do. I'll tell you when I see you."
"Continue the search, Track Leader?" the soldier asked.
"Affirmative. Mark the grids and stand by for further instructions."
"What's wrong now?" the Doctor asked, but the radio was silent.
* * * *
An hour later, the Doctor and the Brigadier surveyed the smashed truck as two soldiers carried away the body of Corporal Boyd, wrapped in a rough blanket, on a stretcher.
"Do you think Boyd tried to run a road block?" the Brigadier asked.
The Doctor glanced back at the narrow strip of paved road. It was some distance away. "There are no skid marks. The brakes weren't hit hard until the truck had left the road, and even then, to judge by the tracks, it never came to a full stop until it hit this stand of trees and bushes."
"Trying not to crash." the Brigadier hesitated and thought it through. "He lost control of the truck."
"No bruising on him. He was dead before impact," the Doctor added.
"There's blood on this side of the truck." And Lethbridge Stewart pointed at the sill of the passenger side door and the tips of the nearby foliage.
The Doctor squinted at the stains, examined the foliage without touching it, then looked at the cab interior. "Look at the blood spattered on the papers down where his feet were. And the papers, some of them, have been dragged this way through the blood." He glanced at his companion. "I think it's the Corporal's blood. Liz may have tried to help him, or she may have been trying to get control of the truck when it crashed. But either way, a good amount of his blood puddled onto her. She was dragged out on this side, trailing some of the papers and leaving a trail of his blood."
"So she's alive."
She was alive when their attackers pulled her out, anyway."
Lethbridge Stewart put his fists on his hips and gazed around at the desolate landscape. "Now where is she?"
* * * *
The Doctor was making tea in the lab, a very guilty look on his face. It was cold. Liz looked around, puzzled. The cold, rather than just resting on her, was going right through her. Into her. And then out of her again.
"I didn't mean it," he said. "I'm so dreadfully sorry. This tea will warm you up."
She looked down, and there was a neat hole in her chest; and cold, brilliant red blood had drenched her sweater below the open hole. The bullet had let out all her warmth.
"Hot sweet tea will help," he told her. But his refusal to face the obvious startled her. Didn't he know that once that hole went through you, you'd never be warm again? It was all too late, and everything was ruined. She was so cold, and now nothing could make her warm, ever again.
She jerked awake. Rafe and George were both looking at her, their eyes unhappy. The third man was staring at the locked doors, his face fixed. The horror of Boyd's murder, and of being a prisoner and a hostage struck her afresh. For a moment, she was completely paralyzed. Then, alongside her, Rafe spoke, his voice kind. "It's all right Miss. Are you cold? Would you like my coat?"
She had leaned against him in her sleep. As she straightened up, he pulled off his coat and draped it over her. She was still not sure what to say, and across from her, George said, with a king of shamefaced courtesy, "Nobody's going to hurt you."
"We need a hostage!" the third man said. "And it's not up to you to say what happens to her!"
"We each one of us have to live with ourselves over what we do," Rafe said. "It's no good being carried away with words. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life not being able to live with myself, or never looking at myself in the mirror. I wanted justice, not a war. I want to have my say, not hurt people." He pushed his hand over his head, a gesture of agitation. The third man stared fixedly at the doors again.
She was stiff, and her head hurt more now than it had before she'd fallen asleep. The rear of the van was quite cold.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"You shut up! No questions!" the hard liner shouted.
"We're going to a safe house," Rafe said. "A place very few people know about. But we won't keep you there. We're going to let you go."
"We're not letting her go! The group has to vote on it, or at least the council!"
"We're letting her go!" George exclaimed. "It's not something to vote on. We never should have attacked the truck. And Hawthorne had no business shooting anybody. The whole hostage idea was a useless notion at the very start, and now it's all gone tragic."
"You said you were ready to go to war!" the hard liner snapped. "Well this is war!"
"But what did you want hostages for?" Liz asked. "What purpose would we serve?"
"To make TSRG leave," George told her. "To force the British government to give us back British sovereignty over our land."
"I never thought it was a good plan," Rafe told her. "But there wasn't anything else left to do. We would have let you go. We just wanted to make a point. There was never supposed to be any killing."
"Listen to yourself, whining about it now. You agreed to it!"
"I never agreed to shooting a man without cause!" Rafe shouted. "Or hitting a woman." He glanced at her. "We'll get you out of this. I'm sorry about the soldier."
His apology further angered the one hard line member of their group. "Just wait until you're sitting in nick, and she's dressed in her Sunday best, telling a packed courtroom about it---from her point of view. She won't be so meek then! She'll not thank you then for giving her your coat!"
George put a hand to his head and leaned back at these words.
"There's no getting around facing it," Rafe said after a moment. "We knew all along we might face prison."
"I'm not going to prison!" the third man exclaimed. "I'm not letting her send me to prison."
George looked up at the roof of the van. "It's Hawthorne that's sent us to prison," he said. "Hawthorne shooting that soldier."
* * * *
"So this was the research Liz and the Corporal were so keen on getting," the Doctor said as the Brigadier approached Bessy. There had been no spare vehicles for them to use to get to the scene of the ambush, and so UNIT's commander had grudgingly assented to a ride in the bright yellow roadster.
Unaffected by the cold, the Doctor had turned his open car into an impromptu office. While Lethbridge Stewart had been directing the investigation of the wrecked truck, the time lord had been studying the legible parts of the dossiers. He had leafed through the unsoiled and unbloodied reams of the information, his swift eyes taking in the printed text much more quickly than any human could have done.
"Does it tell you anything?" the Brigadier asked.
"Only that a Professor Rachel Jensen of Cambridge repeatedly turned down Dr. LeFranq'e requests for access to classified information."
"Professor Rachel Jensen, good heavens!" the Brigadier exclaimed.
"Why good heavens?" the Doctor asked sharply.
Lethbridge Stewart lifted his eyebrows and spoke as though somebody might hear him, though the nearest people were the soldiers examining the truck 100 yards away. "She was our first pick for scientific advisor. Before we brought on Miss Shaw. Not the sort of thing we want Miss Shaw to find out."
"Your first pick? Why? And how did she get out of it?"
"Same answer for both, really. UNIT was never given the full story, but we knew from our sources that back in the early 1960's Rachel Jensen was involved in some sort of incident at the Coal Hill school---"
The Doctor sat up straighter, suddenly tense. "What sort of incident?"
"Well that's the deuce of it, you see it. The British government had her as their advisor, and whatever happened was considered an internal government investigation. Different international groups periodically run radiation testing all over the world, and there were a great big walloping heap of short lived radiation bursts that left their residues in that vicinity. Nothing dangerous, but UNIT was briefed on it pretty early after we were chartered."
"But the British government's not talking," the Doctor said.
"No, but I was assured by some UN scientists that something extra-terrestrial must have parked itself right in the yard of the Coal Hill school. Nothing on earth would have those radiation signatures---that's what they called them---but it was suggested that if I could get Professor Jensen on board as scientific advisor, she might be able to shed some light on the matter."
"And yet you didn't get her? Why not? From what I understand, Liz tried to turn you down and was not allowed to."
"British government again. They viewed our access to Jensen as a compromise to internal security, so when she turned us down, it stuck."
The Doctor frowned and for a moment rubbed his forehead as though he had a sudden, sharp headache.
"You all right?" the Brigadier asked.
"I know the Coal Hill School area, Brigadier. I--I think there's something there that's powerful---"
Eyes still closed and face drawn into lines of fierce concentration, the Doctor said, "This whole matter is getting a lot deeper than I thought."
The Brigadier was puzzled. "Why? Because Professor Jensen knows LeFranq?"
"It's in that dossier on LeFranq. Jensen doesn't trust LeFranq. She sent a letter to NATO protesting the appointment of LeFranq to any security or classified position. There's a copy in the file."
Lethbridge Stewart was stunned. "And yet LeFranq was brought on to TSRG!"
"On Redbird's personal sponsorship. He countered Jensen's letter with a report to the effect that LeFranq was crucial to the work at TSRG."
The Brigadier rubbed his chin. "Yes well there's something else. After Jensen turned us down, LeFranq applied to us directly. By letter I mean. She requested the position of scientific advisor here at UNIT."
"What?" Then the Doctor glared at him. "And you didn't think to tell me that?"
"A half dozen scientists went after it, Doctor. They weren't even supposed to know we were looking, but they found out. But we never even looked at them. We knew what we wanted, a cross-disciplinary scientist with adequate work in the field. Not just an academic. Miss Shaw had less experience in field work than Professor Jensen, but her academics and experience together put her miles ahead of anybody else. On earth, I mean," he added quickly. "We never considered any other candidate."
"So LeFranq eventually would have found out that Liz had been given the position." And the Doctor's eyes showed some concern.
"And---" Once again the Brigadier's voice took on a conspiratorial tone, "that Professor Jensen recommended Liz Shaw to us."
"I'm sure Liz wouldn't thank her for that!"
A corner of the Brigadier's mouth twitched. But he changed the subject. "Why did Jensen try to blackball LeFranq?"
The Doctor shook his head. "I don't know."
"What about Dr. Schepansky?"
"Finished her degree work with Dr. LeFranq on her committee---"
"How very convenient."
"Ended up in a dead end job as a glorified clerk, really, and then briefly clerked for a scientist named Allison Williams back at Cambridge. After that, LeFranq and Schepansky came on at TSRG."
"So one of them--if Rachel Jensen is to be believed---is treacherous, and the other is a nitwit," the Brigadier said.
The Doctor squinted at the sky. "Treachery and nitwits often go together, and it never ends well for the nitwit."
The Brigadier threw his glance back at the ruined truck. "Was it treachery that did this, I wonder? NATO is uneasy about TSRG. Boyd was one of theirs. He came here undercover to check our relationship with TSRG and find out if anything was going on under the table."
"NATO put an operative into UNIT?" For once, the Doctor was astounded.
"Oh yes. I wasn't supposed to know, but I figured it out. Didn't do any harm, and I wanted to score some points with NATO. UNIT is too new and as yet unproved to be confrontational about internal investigations or rumors of scandals. I let him think he was burrowing in. He jumped at the chance to get on this mission, and I allowed it."
"Well that was quite tolerant of you."
"I wanted him to report that we're clear of any wrongdoing. And now he's dead." The Brig glanced at the time lord. "So was it treachery?"
* * * *
The conversation in the van was interrupted as the vehicle suddenly slewed sideways. They slid for a moment and then halted. The engine died.
"We've gotten mired down," George said.
The engine started again, and they heard the wheels spin once, then twice, and then a third time. But it was no good.
"Aw he's gotten us properly stuck," Rafe said. "We'll have to get out and push."
Liz passed him his coat as George and the third man also started to button up their coats and pull on their hats. They behaved as though getting mired down was not all that unusual.
"You can't teach these outsiders to drive properly over land like this," Rafe added.
"Outsider?" Liz asked.
"He's not from around here. He inherited his place---" George began.
They heard footsteps squelching through mud alongside the van, and then the lock was released, and Hawthorne opened first one door and then the other.
"I've gotten us stuck," he said.
"Come on then," George said to Rafe. "We'll be out in a minute."
"Come out and stretch your legs if you want," Rafe said to Liz.
Hawthorne didn't argue, but he held out his hands. "Pass me your guns then, and if you won't let me tie her up, I want Harry to keep an eye on her."
"All right," Rafe said. "But she'll mind you. No rough stuff."
"No," Harry, the third man, agreed. Liz came out and stood. Harry closed one of the van doors. "Just stand right there, and don't move." She stood where he indicated, before the closed door of the van, and she looked around. It was late afternoon, and the cold had increased. The darkness of night was slowly reaching down to the horizon.
George and Rafe went around to the driver's side of the van to get a look at the front wheel. After a moment, Hawthorne, carrying both their guns, walked after them. Liz heard him lean a gun against the side of the van. And then, one loud shot split the afternoon silence. She heard a man scream---she thought it was George, and then another shot.
Harry's face turned stark white. Keeping the gun on her, he turned his eyes to see what had happened. Hawthorne, carrying Rafe's rifle and ejecting the spent cartridges from it, came back around the van. "I had to," he said. "I heard them. I heard everything that was said in the back of the van."
"They're dead?" Harry asked. He had been the hard liner in the van, but now he looked as pale and terrified at the prospect of killing as George and Rafe had ever looked.
Hawthorne let the muzzle of the rifle fall across his upper arm, keeping it pointed away. "You were the only one that was loyal, Harry. I had no choice. It's war."
Liz didn't move. She didn't dare to breathe. She knew it wasn't over. Harry stared at her face for a moment, uncertain, and she saw in his eyes that he was afraid that Hawthorne was going to order him to shoot her, or that Hawthorne would shoot her in front of him. But Hawthorne walked past Harry as though going back to the front of the van. And then, when he was behind Harry, the gun went off again.
Blood sprayed out from the front of him, and Harry fell forward, dead. Hawthorne ejected another spent cartridge.
"Yes all three," he said to her. "It was necessary."
He raised the rifle to his shoulder and pointed it at her. She was already against the rear door of the van. She couldn't back up any further.
"Now what do I do with the last witness?" he asked her. He stepped closer.
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.