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
"Well what now?" the Brigadier asked the Doctor as the two of them climbed back into the rear of the staff car.
"That emergency station has been set up somewhere nearby," the Doctor said. "And it's providing the power supply to that weapon!"
Redbird cut in, annoyed. "That power station supplies a maximum 20-Ampere load, sir. It most certainly could not supply a power drop so vast that the inductance blacks out everything for miles!"
"Major Redbird, it is supplying the batteries that are creating the surge of energy needed!" the Doctor snapped. "As if you didn't know that!"
"I have no knowledge of the details of the research on individual projects!" Redbird snapped back. "You are making me a scapegoat!"
"We are holding you accountable, Major Bigbird!" the Brigadier told him. "And I warn you, if Miss Shaw has been harmed, I shall personally hold you responsible for her safety as well!"
The Doctor looked up from making a small notation on a piece of scrap paper and added his opinion: "You are responsible to know when your own staff picks up an emergency power station and moves it, Major! If you know anything at all about these matters, you'd better tell us."
"I tell you, I left the scientific projects under the management of Dr. LeFranq. My role is administrative."
"I see. A good little secretary eh? Did she let you sit on her lap?" the Doctor asked.
"That's enough Doctor," the Brigadier said quietly. The telephone in the back seat beeped at them, and the Brigadier picked it up. "Yes?" He paused. "Certainly detain them. Don't let them back in. In fact," and he paused. Then he glanced from Redbird's face to the Doctor's in the dimness. "Arrest them. Yes, all of them. Charge them with harboring illegal and dangerous materials at a NATO site. Don't let them speak to each others, and don't let them contact anybody, not until I permit it." He cradled the telephone back in its niche.
"And yet you say my people are fascist," Redbird exclaimed.
"Three vehicles with your fascist guards in them were caught searching the outer perimeter, Major Bigbird," the Brigadier said. "They seem to have lost something." He leaned forward. "Corporal, get us out of here. Quickest way to the outer perimeter on the Northeast side."
The hapless driver stared out at the starless night. The Doctor pointed off in one direction. "That way, my good man. And hurry."
"The gate is back that way," Redbird said, jerking his thumb in the opposite direction.
The Doctor made his voice cheerful. "We'll use one of your secret gates, Major. Or we'll just cut our way through." He turned to the Brigadier. "What about reinforcements from the Army?"
"The most they can do is send out a couple helicopters for air support. They should be here at any time. Bu they won't do much good searching for anything at night!" And the Brigadier sounded disgusted. "Otherwise, the foot soldiers won't be here until dawn at the earliest."
* * * *
For a moment nothing happened, and then Liz lowered her arms and looked up. The weapon was still pointed at her, and Dr. Schepansky was still staring down at her with the one eye that remained to her. Liz could see by a slight tremor in the gun stalk that the firing mechanism was being activated, but nothing was coming.
Liz stepped to the side of the control panel and examined the enclosed turbine that took energy from the diesel fuel and turned it into electrical power. The turbine was supplying power at a steady 20 amperes with a 480 voltage drop. Such a power supply would run an industrial manufacturing plant without interruption, but it was not nearly enough, Liz thought, to power up that incredible weapon. The power had to be stored in something else that would release a much higher drop to the powerful capacitors that charged up the experimental gun.
She could move with ease now, and she reached around the coolant piping and found the output cables. She traced these with her hand, following them down to a cabinet. Liz knelt and inspected the cheaply made bit of furniture. It was heat resistant Formica. She tried the doors to it, and they swung open, revealing a shelved interior. On the bottom shelf, two boxes with heavy rubber coverings sat side by side. On the top shelf, an identical box sat by itself.
Leads split off from the power cable that ran into the back of the cabinet, and two very conventional wires---one black and one red---led into the top of each box, disappearing inside the heavy rubber cover on each of them.
"Batteries," Liz whispered. But she knew that these were not conventional batteries. They were the power delivery system to that gun, and perhaps to Dr. Schepansky's life support system when she was removed from that glassed-in booth.
Liz didn't try to touch the leads by hand. With as much energy as those batteries were storing, she had no idea if they would arc power through her or not if she got too close. But they were not connected to Dr. Schepansky at the moment. So the gun was useless, for there was no cabling in the conventional wiring of that room that would have allowed the gun to fire. And besides, Liz was certain that Dr. LeFranq did not want Dr. Schepansky to be able to use the weapon unless she was out of the booth and in position to fire at an intended target.
She looked over at the remains of Dr. Schepansky. The lips were still moving, but the voice was silent. She was certainly suffering. For a moment, Liz considered figuring out the life support system that was undoubtedly required now to maintain Dr. Schepansky's living union with that chassis and the weapon. She wondered if she should simply cut off the power and let the other woman die. But after a moment's painful consideration, she rejected the idea. She had seen too much loss of life in the last day and a half. She could not willfully kill, not even if she could not see any chance of happiness or peace for the remains of Dr. Schepansky. Somebody else might figure out some way to help her.
But she went back to the panel and began to figure out the controls. Weaponry programming was not hard to identify. It took up more than half the panel. The ladder logic would be unique, but Liz could figure out anything that Dr. LeFranq had developed, and she needed only a simple command to incapacitate the gun.
"Dr. Schepansky," she said. "Can you hear me."
"If system standby, yes sleep," Schepansky said, her voice a whimper. "Please, yes sleep."
Liz felt a throb of genuine pity. Schepansky wanted to sleep, and her programming allowed it only when the systems were on standby.
But Liz had to try the programming change by every possible method, so she gave a command: "If battery discharge required, revert to charging state."
"Please, yes sleep," Schepansky whimpered.
Liz hesitated. Then she made her voice gentle. "Yes sleep," she said gently. "I'll figure it out. Yes sleep."
The gun on the chassis finally stopped quivering, and the one eye in the human face closed. Liz had not wept through all that had happened, but suddenly tears rushed to her eyes, and she put her hand to her mouth and choked back a sob. The pale, human face on the other side of the glass was deeply asleep, almost peaceful, in spite of the wires crammed into the left eye socket.
I've got to calm down and do this, Liz thought. I've got to think this through. For a moment she almost put her head against the glass to give in to a wall of tears, but she could not. She'd been given this opportunity to stop this horrible weapon and she couldn't lose it because she was overcome. After a moment, she took a deep breath and set to work on the panel display, trying to figure out the command structure and the ladder logic.
"Doctor, you said it was a simple interface. You'd better be right," she muttered. But as she worked, she did not let herself look up at the sleeping, human face on the other side of the reinforced glass.
* * * *
"I can't see my blasted watch!" Lethbridge Stewart complained as they exited the staff car to examine the body that lay outlined in the headlights.
"It's just past two a.m.," the Doctor said as he strode past to get a look at the body.
The Brigadier leaned back into the car through the open rear door. "You too, Major. You can help us identify this poor fellow."
"How should I know who he is?" Redbird asked from inside.
"Get out of the car, Major."
At the Brigadier's tone, Redbird exited the car. The other UNIT vehicle, which waited nearby, suddenly flashed its lights. The Doctor looked up from where he was already crouched by the corpse. "They've found one, too," he said.
"Good grief, are they springing up like daisies?" the Brigadier asked.
"We know this chap, Brigadier," the Doctor said. Lethbridge Stewart approached.
The Brigadier arched an eyebrow. "It's that chap that hit Miss Shaw in the cells," he said. "Scorched up and gut shot like the others."
"Yes, and in this instance we don't need permission to exhume him so we can examine him," the Doctor said. "We'd better get him into the boot of the car."
Redbird walked up on this piece of advice. "Move a body and cart it around with us?" he asked.
"Better than letting your people get it, Major," the Doctor said. "Now that they know we won't let a local coroner call it electrocution." He stood.
Even the Brigadier seemed slightly daunted at the idea, but he recovered himself. "I'll see if there's a blanket in the boot so that we can wrap the body."
The Doctor nodded at the knot of three soldiers that were grouped at the second find. "I'll check the other fellow. Looks like a TSRG security guard, by the look of that uniform. Hello. Look at this. Somebody's coming." He pointed to distant lights that bobbed up and down on the distant terrain. There were two sets of them.
"Let's kill the lights. Quick, behind the cars!" the Brigadier called. "Soldiers out of sight! Have a searchlight standing by."
The soldiers signaled to the drivers, and the headlights were cut.
The group of nine men quickly moved behind the staff cars and waited. In the cold, the distant vehicles seemed to take a long time coming. But at last the lights disappeared into a draw and then reappeared much closer.
"Uniformed men down!" the Brigadier ordered, and the group ducked behind the cars. The Doctor, the Brigadier, and Major Redbird waited. The lights swept across them and the parked cars, and then the two new vehicles pulled up, headlights on the two bodies. Doors slammed as men got out, three from each vehicle.
"It's a cold night to be out, gentleman," one of the men said.
"Especially when you're under orders to be inside," the Brigadier said. "You fellows are on the wrong side of that fence." He turned deliberately to Redbird. "Aren't they, Major?"
The six men all wore TSRG security uniforms. Their leader gestured at the bodies. "We received a report that required attention."
"Now!" the Brigadier shouted. The searchlight came on, momentarily dazzling the security men, and the UNIT soldiers popped up from the cars with their rifles ready.
"I am placing you men under arrest for violating curfew. Drop your weapons or take your chances, but my men will cut you down if you offer to fight."
The TSRG men quickly unslung their rifles and threw them down.
"And sidearms," the Brigadier said. Several more sidearms were pulled and thrown down.
"Now put your hands on the cars and don't say a word." And he nodded to the UNIT men to take them into custody.
The UNIT soldiers used the TSRG handcuffs on the TSRG men. As they worked, one of the TSRG radios went off, and a voice said, "Zis is Central. What is the status of the rabbit? Why has zere been no report? Racer Two, report in. Zat rabbit must be taken by dawn. Bury it anywhere offsite."
"Bring that radio to me," the Brigadier said. He drew his own sidearm and put it up under Redbird's jaw. "You get on that radio and tell her the rabbit is to be unharmed. And if you say anything else, I'll shoot you here and now."
"I'll say what you want," Redbird gasped. One of the soldiers brought the radio and held it up to Redbird.
"This is Major Redbird. I repeat, this is Major Redbird. The rabbit is to be unharmed. Do not harm that rabbit. Is that understood?"
For a moment, there was only static in the line, and then LeFranq's voice said, "Za rabbit escaped from a lab and is infected wis an unknown biological agent. It is very dangerous, Major."
Lethbridge Stewart nudged him with the gun. "Negative," Redbird gasped. "No harm must come to the rabbit. I repeat, no harm. I am fully aware of the situation. The rabbit is to be returned unharmed."
"Tell them to confirm," the Brigadier hissed.
"All racers confirm orders," he said.
Another pause, and then, "Racer Three confirms," a male voice said. And then, "Racer Four affirmative."
LeFranq's voice cut in. "Zis is Central. I must confer with you at once, Major."
"Affirmative," he said. "I'll be at my office in fifteen minutes."
He glanced at the Brigadier. The Brigadier nodded at the UNIT soldier. "Pass that to my driver," Lethbridge Stewart said. "We'll keep the radio with us. Relieve those security guards of all communication devices." He glanced around. "We don't have sufficient manpower to keep up a guard." He turned to the waiting soldier. "Put them back in their vehicles under restraint, and let's make sure they can't go anywhere in a hurry. Remove the distributor caps and ignition wires from the engines."
"And take their boots," the Doctor said. "That will keep them here."
The soldiers quickly did as ordered. The Brigadier conferred with the Doctor. "It sounds like Liz is alive, but where the deuce is she?"
His scientific advisor smiled grimly. "She's hidden herself so well that they can't find her, but neither can we!"
* * * *
At last Liz finished entering the code. She punched up the message reader display and looked at the messages as she fed in a series of test inputs. After a moment, she nodded in satisfaction. At least on a unit level, the system recognized the command she had entered into the logic. She could do no further testing.
She stepped back and looked around. It began to dawn on her that she could only lose this game of hide and seek with TSRG. Where ever she was, she was too far from the main buildings to walk to them without being intercepted, and she was too far from the fence now to try the same tactic. Even if she could get through the fence, she didn't even know how to get to the village, and the cold would finish her before she got there, whether or not LeFranq found her.
Surely, with the second inductive blackout, the Doctor had to know that LeFranq was relying on a massive power generator. Liz knew that she had to send a signal to him to tell him where it was.
Not entirely happy with her plan, she looked around the room for what she wanted---the circuit breaker box. She found it, and by squinting in the dim light, she found the circuit breaker that she wanted---the drainage pump outside. She switched it off.
Next, she found a doorstop in one of the corners and opened the front door, using the small wooden wedge to keep the door from closing. She went around back. The wind had died down entirely, but the cold went right through her.
She hurried around back and trotted to the great diesel tank. It was skirted by a concrete and brick mantel, also called a dike, used to contain any diesel spills. With little difficulty, she clambered over this wall, which was about four feet high. She dropped inside and hunted around in the darkness. Her hands found the manual tap to the ball valve, and then she found her first objective---the electric drainage pump that was used to pump out any rainwater that collected inside the dike.
The cold made work difficult, but after a brief struggle she ripped out the leads that ran from the power box on the back wall. She pulled away the negative and ground wires and knotted them together, leaving the positive lead exposed. She wrapped the detached cable around the top of the pump so that the positive lead would contact the fuel when she filled the containment dike.
It was so cold that she had to fold her arms across her chest and put her hands under her arms to warm them enough to allow her to work. She toyed with the idea of going back inside to warm up. But going inside meant seeing Dr. Schepansky, and that in itself was at least as painful as the cold.
She found the tap of the ball valve, grasped it, and pulled. It resisted for only a moment and then gave way. She heard the splash as diesel fuel gushed straight down from the tank onto the concrete. In the bitter cold, the sound of cold liquid actually knotted her stomach. But she went to the dike wall and clambered over again.
Now the cold was sapping her strength again. She stumbled back inside. She knelt down and bent double as her stomach knotted. After a few minutes, she was all right again, and she was certain that the dike had filled, but when she checked, the fuel had not gotten more than halfway up the concrete containment wall. She went inside and counted to 100 out loud. When she returned, it was three quarters full.
Again, she went inside and counted. She wondered what time it could be. The night suddenly seemed endless.
This time, the dike was nearly full when she checked it. She returned inside. Then she went to the circuit breaker box, looked at the back wall for a moment, and threw the circuit breaker to the pump.
She heard a tremendous pop from the box and the breaker switch jumped back so hard that it bruised her hand. She wondered for a moment if it had broken a bone.
But suddenly one of the panes of thick glass on the opposite wall shed a bright yellow glow into the room. Outside, a huge flare lit up the grounds in a wide perimeter.
She ran to the small window and peered outside. She could see only a corner of a great column of flame that still burned, though it was declining from its initial height.
The signal, she knew, would also bring TSRG. She had a 50-50 chance of surviving, depending on who got there first.
Dr. Schepansky was awake and panicking. Liz ran to the control board.
"No danger," she said urgently. "No danger. Yes safety measures. Yes safety measures." The thick concrete walls were nonflammable, and the glassed in booth had its own air supply.
But, with an independent motion Liz would not have guessed, Dr. Schepansky moved the chassis back and forth, trying to break out by force.
"Yes exit. Yes alert!" her thin voice cried. She was terrified. Liz looked around and saw that the choking black smoke of the diesel fuel was filling the room.
"No exit! If exit, danger to system," Liz exclaimed, for surely if Dr. Schepansky broke through the booth, she would die within seconds, cut off from the life support measures and power supply that were keeping her alive.
Dr. Schepansky was making small sobbing noises, her remaining eye wide with terror as she moved back and forth with the chassis and hit the steel casing against the reinforced glass.
Liz tried to keep her voice calm and authoritative. "Yes shut down!" Frantically, she punched up input codes on the control panel, trying to shut down Dr. Schepansky's interface. "Yes, shut down process initiate!"
Clouds of the black smoke forced the air out of the room on Liz's side of the glass. She realized that she had to get out. But if she didn't shut down Schepansky's mobilization abilities, the tortured young woman would kill herself in her own panic. And the sight of Schepansky's terror, the sense of her complete helplessness, prompted Liz to make at least one attempt to shut down her systems so that she would sleep through the event that was frightening her. As long as she stayed where she was, she would be safe.
The thick smoke suddenly obliterated the control panel and all view of the glass. Liz realized that she was lost, completely cut off from every sense of direction, and unable to breathe.
* * * *
The Doctor saw the great column of flame first when it shot high into the darkness in the distance.
"That's our signal!" he exclaimed.
"You think it's Liz?" the Brigadier asked.
"Let me take one of the cars and find out!"
Lethbridge Stewart nodded. "Simms! You'll take the Doctor towards that fire. Be ready for anything! Bowman, you too! We'll be along once we get the bodies loaded."
The two soldiers and the Doctor ran to the escort vehicle and climbed in. Simms pulled out speedily.
"Looks like it's in the third perimeter, Doctor," Bowman said.
"We'll use the opening we cut to get out here," the Doctor said. "Hurry! That fire may or may not have been deliberately set!"
But the outbuilding was less than a mile distant. Within two minutes, they were pulling up before the concrete building, which was shrouded in the thick black smoke. The headlights of the car were nearly useless.
The Doctor burst out of the car and raced to the double doors. One of them had been propped open. He rushed inside. The two UNIT soldiers were more hesitant, but there was no need to follow the scientific advisor. Within seconds, he emerged, dragging out a slim figure out by the shoulders.
"Is she alive?" one of them exclaimed.
"Yes. She was overcome by the smoke. Pull the car back and get the first aid kit!" he exclaimed. Simms jumped into the driver's seat of the staff car and backed it up several yards. The Doctor pulled Liz well away from the smoke, to the opposite side of the car.
Bowman stripped off his own coat and spread it on the ground, and the Doctor dragged her onto this, then unfastened his cape and draped it over her. He knelt by her and rolled her onto her side, and then made a fist and quickly tapped it across her back with firm percussions.
She coughed and then heaved in a great gasp of air. Then she coughed so hard that she dry retched. He pulled her up over his arm so that she hung face down. Then he resumed the swift percussions against her back. He felt her come to conscious awareness. The side of her face suddenly pushed against his sleeve, and then her hands clutched his arm. She began to breathe heavily as she gasped in air, but regularly. He felt her back shiver. She clung to his arm with both hands.
"It's all right. I've got you now." With his hand over the heavy cape, he rubbed her back between her shoulder blades for a moment.
"TSRG security is coming, Doctor," one of the men said. "They're right on top of us."
Liz made a sound of fear, and the Doctor pulled her up. "Let's see what they want," he said. "Better call for reinforcements." He gathered the cape around her and settled her into his arm. "Let's get a look at you." He was startled. Her face was pale to the point of being gray, and her eyes huge. Her forehead and face were bruised. Her skin was cold, and her lips pale.
The two soldiers hunkered down behind the car on either side of the Doctor and Liz, and one of them spoke into his radio, calling for help. The smoke had started to lift, and bright headlights cut across it. The other soldier watched over the hood of the car and said, "It's their fire crew. They may not be armed."
The rescue vehicle pulled in and smashed across the hood of the UNIT car from the side. The UNIT car slewed its back end into the larger TSRG vehicle and was still. And then, not paying any heed to the UNIT personnel, several men spilled from the rescue lorry and rushed into the building. In a moment they were forced back out by the billowing smoke.
Simms peered around the ruined car hood. "They're getting smoke masks and gloves," he said. "They're rushing the building."
"No effort to put out the blaze," the Doctor said.
"They're rescuing her. Their project. It's Dr. Schepansky," Liz said. Her voice was shaking.
The words didn't make sense to the Doctor at first. "All right," he said. "All right Liz."
She took in her breath and tried again. "They've done something to her---made her part machine. The weapon that fires the energy slugs is part of her."
He looked down at her, and at his eyes, Liz couldn't stop herself from suddenly hiding her face in his shoulder. She wanted to regain her composure, but she couldn't face it. She couldn't even make herself face it. She hid her face against him and held onto him with all her strength.
"All right," he whispered. "We'll find a solution. We may be able to undo things."
He glanced at Simms, who was watching the TSRG rescue team. Bowman, on his other side, was on one knee with his rifle in his hands. In the distance, across the dark and barren landscape, a single pair of headlights appeared.
"Tell the Brigadier to get all his men out here," the Doctor said. "If TSRG intends any further action, it will be against us. We've discovered their secret."
Bowman spoke into his radio, and then he said. "That's the Brigadier coming now, Doctor."
But just then, a phalanx of headlights appeared as a group of vehicles came up out of a draw.
"That's not UNIT," the Doctor said.
"There's another vehicle this side, far end of the structure," Simms announced.
"And now they kill us," Liz said faintly. "That vision of your memories. It always ends like that against them: smoke everywhere and rows of dead bodies."
"No it doesn't," he whispered. "And I'm here, if that means anything. Nobody's going to separate us."
She was quiet, and he sensed that she was desperately waiting, emotionally numb from all that she'd been through, unable to fight any more. She'd grasped him by the sleeve openings of his waistcoat, and she was holding on with a desperate grip, as a person who clings to the ropes of a life raft, as though she feared that she would be physically pulled away from him. He had never known Liz Shaw to be so afraid and to be so affected by fear.
He held her and spoke to her quietly. "Are you cold?"
"I'll always be cold. I can't remember not being cold. It first happened when Boyd was killed."
"Redbird's ordering the TSRG vehicles to stop their approach to us," Bowman said. "But they're ignoring him." He set down his radio and took up the rifle. Then he sighted on the group of headlights in the distance. The rifled barked once, and after a moment, one set of headlights went out.
"That may be too little, too late," the Doctor told him.
"We'll see, Doctor." He fired again, but the shot seemed to have no effect. "We've got to get them while we can see them, but they can't see us," he said.
"Dr. LeFranq just got out of the car that's pulled up," Simms said.
"You behind the car!" LeFranq called to them. "Surrender and ve will escort you off the site!"
"She'll kill us," Liz gasped.
"She means to try. We won't give in so easily," the Doctor said. He turned to speak to Simms, but the young soldier suddenly gaped in surprise as he stared at the scene from around the hood of the car. "What the devil is that? They're bringing a robot out of there. But it's got a head on it. A human head!"
"Looks like the Brigadier is being forced to engage the TSRG phalanx," Bowman reported. "They're intercepting the UNIT car out there."
"Shooting fish in a barrel," the Doctor said.
Bowman put the rifle to his shoulder. "We'll see." The rifle coughed again.
Just then, a sound they had not expected drowned out everything. For a moment it terrified all of them, but then they realized what it was.
"That's the Army!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Right on time!"
An army helicopter, its searchlight white against the pillar of black smoke, illuminated the heavy TSREG rescue vehicle. The chopper swung down onto the group of TSRG people between the vehicles and the building. A second helicopter swept in a straight line from them to the headlights out in the dark landscape.
"TSRG!" a voice blared at them over a bullhorn. "You are under lockdown. Throw down all weapons and sit on the ground. I repeat: you are under lockdown. Cease and desist all actions to secure your facility."
Simms pulled back and turned to the Doctor. "That robot thing. They're all clearing off from it---"
And then they heard the faint voice that Liz recognized as that of Dr. Schepansky. "No threat. No malfunction. No destruct. Please, no destruct-" The voice was pleading. "Systems functioning. No destruct. Please, please-" Liz sobbed and hid her face against the Doctor again. She had known that this part was inevitable---death one way or another for Dr. Schepansky. But this was one more atrocity. He realized what was about to happen, covered her head with his hands, and ducked his head into hers. "Oh please, end it," Liz whispered, but not to him.
Something on the other side of the barricade of vehicles exploded. Simms and Bowman ducked down. Flaming bits of metal and strips of steel were flung over the top of the rescue vehicle and dropped around them. But the Doctor noticed smoking, charred human flesh in the debris. He kept Liz's head covered. "It's all over. It's over for her."
But Liz made a sound of grief. "That was a human being," she gasped.
Simms was amazed and horrified. "It's exploded! I think she did it! LeFranq. Like she detonated something!" he exclaimed, coming up onto one knee and keeping his head down. Suddenly, he straightened and pulled up his rifle. "Stop!" he shouted. "Don't come any closer!" He sighted onto something.
"Simms, what are you doing!" the Doctor exclaimed.
But Simms fired, and just as he did, the helicopter lifted and its searchlight covered them. He set down the gun and lifted his hands. Instead of addressing him at all, the voice over the bullhorn repeated its announcement. "TSRG! You are under lockdown. Throw down all weapons and sit on the ground. I repeat: you are under lockdown. Cease and desist all actions to secure your facility."
Simms looked at the Doctor. "Dr. LeFranq pulled out a sidearm, Doctor. A handgun. She was coming right for us. I had to."
The Doctor didn't say anything for a moment. Liz was hiding her face, overcome, unable to take in Schepansky's horrible death.
"Yes of course you had to," he said to Simms. "Is LeFranq dead?"
He nodded. "She's dead, Doctor."
"What are the others doing?"
Simms peered around the front. "Sitting on the ground."
Bowman took up his radio as it signaled. After a moment he said, "The choppers have done it. They've given up. The Brigadier's on his way."
"Liz," the Doctor said. "Liz, it is over. It's over now."
She couldn't answer him. That iron grip on his waistcoat's shoulders hadn't eased one bit.
"Liz can you hear me?" he asked.
"It was mass murder. It went beyond any reason." And now she began to tremble with an uncontrolled shivering. "I can't be alone," she gasped, eyes closed. "I can't stop being cold. I'm so cold."
He leaned closer to her and put his face to her ear. "Can you hear me? Do you want to go away from here, with me?"
"Yes." Her voice was muffled.
"I'll see to you. I'll get you warm again, and calm. I can do that. Will you let me?"
She suddenly looked up at him, her eyes large and now very vulnerable, sparkling with tears.
"You said that you would help me, do you remember?" he asked. "But I'll help you, too. In a sense---I do understand why they've done this. It's horrible, but I've seen it before. I'll help you."
Her lips were trembling, and now she gasped in her breath as she made her confession. "I made sure Hawthorne was killed. I had to. But I hated him. I wanted him to die because of what he did to them---and to me. He's dead, and I still keep hating him."
He nodded, his eyes grave and gentle. "That won't last forever."
"I'm so cold, and I can't stop being afraid---or hating him."
"You're overwrought. It's been a terrible battle." He made his own eyes warm. "You know that I care very much about you, don't you?" he asked. "You know that I do. I'll make everything pleasant for you and help you feel safe again. Wouldn't you like that? To be warm and comfortable with me? Just the two of us."
The shivering that he could feel through the cape diminished, but it didn't entirely stop.
"I'll help you to forget about Hawthorne," he promised. "Let me take you with me. I'll get you out of here. I'll make you happy and safe again, all right?"
Her large eyes looked even more vulnerable, and for a moment he wondered why she would even hesitate. Bowman turned to stare at him and then quickly looked away.
"We'll go to that little inn at the village," he said. "That room with the big, soft bed. Just the two of us. For days and days. I know lots of ways to make you happy and comfortable. Won't you let me try?"
For a moment she looked at him as though seeing him for the first time. And then her life-saving grip on his waistcoat released, and she slipped one arm up around his neck. "Yes, all right."
* * * *
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart ascended the steps at the inn two at a time. He was still cursing Bowman for not having told him of the remarkable conversation between the Doctor and Liz right before the Doctor had whisked her off in the Brigadier's own car.
He strode down the hallway and rapped loudly on the closed door. Then he tried it. It was locked.
"Doctor! This is Lethbridge Stewart! I demand that you open this door!"
"Go away!" the time lord's voice said. "We're very busy right now."
"Open this door before I break it down man!"
Instantly, the door was flung open, revealing a startled Doctor. His jacket was off and his waistcoat was open, his sleeves rolled up. "What on earth has got into you, Lethbridge Stewart?"
The Brigadier strode past him. "That poor girl is still very young and overwrought and she's been through---" He stopped.
Liz Shaw, swathed in blankets like a mummy, with hot water bottles poking out from various stations along the covers, glanced over at him from the bed. She forced a slight, rueful smile at him. Her hair was tied up in a turban of thick towels. The room smelled of eucalyptus, menthol, and ginger.
The Doctor closed the door. "What have I done to offend you now?" he asked. "And would you please keep your voice down? I'd nearly gotten her to sleep! She needs peaceful, quiet rest."
"Brigadier," Liz said. Normally she would have been saucy with him for such a dramatic entrance, but now her voice was merely tired and filled with good natured resignation.
"Yes my dear. He's just got a bit of a temper," the Doctor said soothingly. "Here then, have a little bit more of this lovely soup now that you're wide awake. That will go down well." And he went to her bedside and took up a soup bowl.
Liz obediently opened her mouth and took a spoonful of soup from him. "Really lovely chicken and ginger," he said enticingly. "Is your stomach nice and warm now?"
She nodded and opened her mouth wide again for another spoonful, which he gave her. Then she nodded to tell him she'd had enough. He set the bowl aside.
He rested his hand on her forehead and peered at her eyes. "I think you would like a nice salt glow," he told her. "That will help you sleep and revitalize your spirits."
Cautiously, the Brigadier stepped closer, but he detected the faint aroma of a mustard plaster under the hot water bottles, and the frill of cotton flannel at her throat told him that Liz was wearing winter pyjamas.
"Eh," he began and scratched his head. The Doctor went to an electric tea kettle and poured a small amount of hot water into a metal basin.
"Well do sit down now you're here," the timelord said. "Why were you pounding on the door?"
"Eh, what's a salt glow, then?" the Brigadier asked.
The Doctor pulled a chair up to the end of the bed, sat in it, and took up the basin, which the Brigadier saw was filled with coarse salt made into a paste.
"It's a lovely remedy from the Victorian era," the Doctor told him. "Cleanses the blood, refreshes the mind, enhances recovery."
The Brigadier plumped himself into a hard chair. "Well Bowman told me," he began, and then he stopped. Swaddled as securely as a Puritan infant, Liz was looking at him, her face showing a sleepy and benign expression of knowing exactly what he'd been thinking but not minding.
The Doctor uncovered one of her feet, spread a hand towel under it, and began to rub the foot with handfuls of salt with a regular, even rubbing motion. "Oh isn't that nice," he said soothingly. "And you know, I'm right here, Liz. Right here. Once you're rested and warm, we'll talk about all of it," he said.
The Brigadier said nothing and watched as Liz passed from sleepiness to a doze and then her eyes closed in earnest and heartfelt sleep.
The Doctor rubbed the foot with the salt for several minutes, then shook the salt from his hands, cleaned off the foot with a dry cloth, and patted and polished it with a damp, hot towel taken from another covered bowl. Then he covered it again and started on the other foot.
"You've been here for over an hour," the Brigadier said. "Is this what you've been doing?"
"Well Liz wanted a hot bath, so while she did that, I gave the pub keeper the recipe for the chicken and ginger soup. I think he did a good job, don't you? Smells good, anyway. He lent me some clean pyjamas for her, and I had to make up the fomentations for her back, the mustard plaster, the ginger towel for her head and neck." He cast a mild glance at the Brigadier as he worked, but his voice was instructive. "You know, good care really does take time."
"Time and a lot of groceries," the Brigadier added, trying to sound like he knew what they were talking about. "Will she be all right?"
"She needs proper care, and proper care does take time. So of course I'll see to it, because it has to be done right." And he turned his glance to his task.
"Oh of course," the Brigadier exclaimed, annoyed, but he kept his voice quieter than he would have otherwise. And he had to admit that this almost grandmotherly side of the Doctor was remarkable.
"It's like a weight is off your shoulders, Doctor," he said. "I mean, it's all been pretty horrible, but what did you think was happening? Did you think we were being invaded?"
"A weight is off my shoulders, Brigadier," the Doctor said as he carefully rubbed Liz's foot with the salt and watched her face to ensure that her sleep was deep and peaceful. But instead of answering with any greater detail, he said, "There's a tenner in my coat pocket. We must drink to Liz's good health and celebrate her rescue. If you don't object to whiskey at 5 a.m., why not pop down to the bar and bring up a bottle of the really decent stuff?"
"That would require more than a tenner, Doctor," the Brigadier said.
"Take two then. I actually owe you a bottle. But bring back two glasses." He glanced up at Liz. "Well, you never know. Bring back three glasses. We can dress it up with honey, lemon, and water, and call it a hot toddy for her."
The Brigadier stood and looked down at Liz. In the turban and under the hot water bottles and blankets she looked comical, radiant, tired, and sweet, all at once. Her lips had more color to them, and the bruises did not stand out as much, yet overall, she was still pale, as though the blood would only return to her face and put the color in her cheeks gradually, when safety was abundantly assured.
He spoke quietly: "We're going to concrete over the site of the secret weapon. And the official story is that Dr. Schepansky died in an explosion while testing a dangerous weapon," he said.
"She had a horrible fate," the Doctor added. He turned away to shake salt off his hands. "But then, she did horrible things. I'm sure that Schepansky was complicit in the death of Allison Williams, and probably the local people."
The Brigadier still hesitated. "Did Liz--- say anything about what happened on her end?" he asked.
"Cpl. Boyd was shot alongside her. And three other men were shot in front of her," the Doctor told him. "That Hawthorne fellow tormented her. He was a beast. But, just like you might expect, her own feelings have frightened her just a bit---all the rage that she felt, the helplessness and degradation of course. But mostly the rage."
"What will you tell her?" the Brigadier asked.
"That there is such a thing as evil, Brigadier," he said. "And there are evil people who do evil things just because they like evil."
"Such a mad conspiracy." And Lethbridge Stewart's eyes showed a certain doubt as he tried to sort through all that had been done. "My best guess is that LeFranq was the real organizer of the project---"
"Yes, with Schepansky as her confidant and henchman," the Doctor added. "They conspired in the death of Allison Williams in order to steal the hardware and information about the secret weapon. Somewhere along the way they brought Hawthorne onboard, and he helped lure the victims in to be kidnapped and then chased so that the weapon could be test fired at them."
"And did Redbird know all this?"
The Doctor offered half a shrug. "He had to know something, but I suppose he made it a priority not to know details, and LeFranq was happy to oblige him." The time lord shook his head. "What a perfect machine of flattery, vanity, cruelty, and useless grasping for a weapon they couldn't even comprehend. Redbird wanted to be the head of an important research group. Schepansky wanted to be in the forefront of an amazing technology. LeFranq wanted control and power. Hawthorne wanted---" He shook his head again.
"What?" the Brigadier asked. "What did Hawthorne want? And why did they even bother to single out Liz? They were hunting for information on her before she ever left for TSRG."
The Doctor glanced at Liz again to make sure that their voices were not disturbing her, but she was still peacefully sleeping. He wiped his hands free of the salt and with great care applied a thick cloth to the foot to clean it. In her sleep, she spread her toes at the softness. He smiled for a moment and then continued to clean away the residue of coarse salt.
The Brigadier's voice called him back. "Doctor?"
The time lord glanced at his military colleague. "The problem with evil is that it starts to unravel, Brigadier. Obviously LeFranq wanted the stature and recognition enjoyed by Rachel Jensen, Liz Shaw, and Allison Williams. And Dr. Schepansky personally resented the prominence of others to such a degree that she underwent whatever dreadful surgeries were required to tie her to the gun and chassis. But Hawthorne--he just liked killing, I think." And for a moment he carefully wiped Liz's foot and watched her face. "And in the end, all I can see in them is the desire to kill as many people as possible. It all falls apart if I try to analyze it rationally beyond a certain point. And then it turns into a terrible pageant of cruelty to others and treachery among themselves. A mad desire to inflict suffering so that they could feel powerful."
He squinted, and for a moment he looked as though something caused him pain, as though a distressing memory had suddenly crossed his mind. He leaned down and withdrew a clean, warm towel from the bowl. He carefully wrapped her foot in the comforting, soft heat. Liz stirred, let out her breath in her sleep, and then was still.
"I think they just hated her," he said at last. "Because she's intelligent, and beautiful, and good. Completely unlike them." And his eyes looked so wrung with pain for a moment that the Brigadier asked nothing else. The Doctor rested a hand on her wrapped foot and looked at her for a moment, very hard, as though he realized what a near thing it had all been.
Lethbridge Stewart waited for a moment and then nodded and made his voice brisk and quiet. "I'll see about that whiskey."
Suddenly called back, the Doctor looked at him and straightened up in the chair. "Look, why did you come storming in here?" And the Doctor was puzzled. He reached for the empty covered bowl to take it to the table, but he stopped to look up at UNIT's commander.
The Brigadier looked from the timelord to the electric cooker of soup on the table and the electric tea kettle, and then to Liz Shaw. "Because sometimes I really am an ass, Doctor." And he smiled ruefully and walked out.
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.