The Dangers of Exceeding the Blinovitch Limitation EffectAlways the Third Doctor!;Jo Grant;Katy Manning;Jon Pertwee;Sequel to INFERNO;
The Dangers of Exceeding the Blinovitch Limitation Effect
Written by Jeri Massi
The Master stayed in the darkness, out of the few haloes thrown down to the street by the widely scattered lights. There were few patrols here. Anything worth stealing from the construction sites had been stolen long ago.
He quickly climbed the stairs to the refuge used by Jo and the Doctor. But as he came up to the first landing he drew out his weapon. he saw red fluid pooled on the steps above and on the next landing, and he stooped down to examine the stains and the fluid. It was not blood. Narrowing his eyes, he hurried up the remaining steps and entered. He stayed long enough to glance around, and then he slipped out again. He hesitated to check his pockets. He had one weapon in hand, and another tucked in the back of his belt, and he had five blaster cartridges that would generate up to ten charges each. Thus armed, he hurried down the steps and into the night, moving as a man does when he knows exactly where he is going. He did not attempt to contact either the Doctor or Jo.
* * * *
At last Kit was asleep, cuddled against the Doctor like a very young child, all worn out with tears and shock and grief. He stroked her fine hair. In spite of poor food, a stressful life, and continual heartbreak here in this bleak, sordid world, Kit's hair was as soft as Jo's, silky and light textured. The hideous color she applied to it made her more of an alluring person rather than an attractive person, but in sleep she was vulnerable, and the sorrow that had made up her entire life seemed to touch her face with an almost saintly look of patience.
The Doctor sat very still, his arms around her, and if she murmured or started in her sleep, he rocked her back and forth and hushed her. For the first time, the bleakness of this world got all the way through to him. He had come to save it, but what if he did? For a long session as Kit slept and he stared at the dark window, he felt a great weight of the futility of what he was attempting. Though he might stop Stahlman and the drilling project, this government was perfectly poised to believe a lie. It would be only a matter of time until they managed to control nuclear power. And then what?
The Brigadier had once acidly commented that the Doctor did not seem to mind the excesses of Communism at all. But Communism was so inefficient, so willing to try to bend or ignore science to fit the laws of politics, so unable to fully grasp the power that lay close to its grip. It was a bloody but doomed form of rule. But fascism: that was altogether different. As economically inefficient as this regime was, it was technologically sophisticated. It would keep feeding engineers and scientists and researchers and let the rest of the people starve if it had to. Because it had found that the path to supremacy lay in knowledge.
Kit jumped in her sleep, uneasy again. he leaned his face closer to hers and hushed her. She whimpered, trying to wake up and come to grips with her shock and horror and grief.
"No, dear," he murmured. He pressed his hand across her forehead, warm and comforting. "Sleep, dear. Everything is all right. Sleep for now."
She settled back into sleep again. He held her head close between his hearts and wondered what would become of her. The Master had called this an aberrational universe, a universe that would fold up and die much sooner than its counterpart. And he had further said that this was a doomed planet. For a long session in the darkness, the Doctor believed him. The government would only become more cruel and oppressive as it became less able to support its own people. And yet it would increase its strength through technology. It would become more of a threat, and, needing the raw materials for further growth, it would go on the offensive. Allied with an undefeated fascist Germany, it would be unstoppable.
The Master had said that this universe would tolerate their presences, but the Doctor did not know if his own universe would tolerate duplicated matter. It was obvious that there were slight differences in the physics of both realities. He could not risk taking Kit back with him. But to leave without her would be a decision to abandon her.
Troubled in his own mind, he fell into a doze as he half sat and half reclined on the sofa with Kit asleep in his arms.
In the most still and quiet part of the night, long after the underground pubs had closed, and long before the posts for the resistance were making their furtive way through the streets to pay off the patrols and pass information, he was awakened by a beeping.
Kit stirred and woke up, too. "What is it? What is it?" she asked.
He fished the communications device from his pocket. "Just this. Never mind." He activated it. "What is it?" he asked.
"A message for you, Doctor," a voice, his own voice, said. The Doctor sat bolt upright, thoroughly waking Kit. Startled by the fear that shot through him, she held onto him.
"I have a new play thing here with me," the voice said. "She's so sweet and delightful, it's rather like having a great box of chocolates all to myself. But she desperately wants you, even to the point of tears. You will come for her, won't you?"
"That sounds just like you!" Kit exclaimed.
"Quiet, Kit! Where?" he asked into the receiver. "Where shall I go? Don't hurt her if you value your own skin!"
"Well, I may take a nibble or two just to tide me over. But if you hurry, she'll still be alive when you get here. You'll find me where you last saw me. And by the way, Doctor, I do have the air waves monitored. Don't try to contact anybody, or I shall move the TARDIS, and you shall find your little friend one piece at a time. Over a great stretch of time. It will amaze you how long I can keep her alive while I'm killing her. Do hurry."
"Yes, I will. Please don't hurt her. She---" But the receiver was dead.
He slipped out from Kit and stood up. "I have to go. Right away."
She stood up. Her face was white, her eyes big, but her voice was steady. This was the Kit he had come to know, the fighter who was determined to survive. "Is that the man? The one who ordered them to kill Jimmy?"
"Yes," he told her. "My counter part. My double."
"He sounds just like you."
He drew on his cape.
"You need me," she told him. "I'll go, too."
"No. He's utterly mad. He's diabolical. I can't put you into his hands."
She found her jacket and put it on. "Look you, in your state, at this time of night, you don't have a chance. I can get you through the streets and get you past the patrols. I pay them all, and they let me get by every now and then with one of my customers."
He hesitated. With speed being so crucial, he was not in a position to refuse. She read his expression. "You aren't asking me. I'm going."
"Only so far," he told her. "The risk to you is enormous. He's terribly cruel. When I say go back, you must go back."
"Come on, it never works out so neatly on the street at night. We'll both be lucky to be in one piece by morning," she said. "Let's go!"
* * * *
"Jo, Jo, wake up," a voice whispered.
Jo opened her eyes to see the familiar walls of the TARDIS, but the room was dim. She had a confused memory of being very frightened, and of passing through dark streets unable to stand on her own or speak clearly.
"Jo, can you hear me?"
She nearly sat up, but a hand caught her, not stopping her, but cautioning her to move slowly and silently. She got up on her elbows.
"I've cut the power in this TARDIS, but I don't know where he is," a voice said.
In the dimness she at last made out the profile of the Doctor, leaning over her, his eyes concerned.
"No," she gasped, and he touched her again, gently, on her shoulder.
"It's me. He sent me a message to come get you. I came as quickly as I could. His TARDIS recognizes me as him. I managed to get inside. Do you know where he went?"
"I can't remember," she whispered. "He drugged me. It's all so jumbled. He put me here and locked my feet onto this cot."
"Yes, this seems to be one of his pleasure rooms. I'll see to the locks. I ought to be able to get them open. Are you injured at all? How did he take you captive?"
"He pretended to be you. He pretended that he was hurt." She sat up all the way and looked at him fearfully.
He went to her bare feet, which were locked onto the pallet with locks made of some foreign material that was as light as plastic but as hard as steel.
"Are your ankles painful?" he asked.
"Not bad. I could walk."
She still had her eyes fixed on him, but he fished in the pocket of his smoking jacket and drew out a very conventional lockpick.
"You're not fooling me," she said. "I know this is just another horrible game of yours."
He straightened up, as though suddenly exasperated. "As if we had time for this!" he snapped, his voice low. "I'm trying to get you free, aren't I?" He hesitated and then reached into his other pocket. "Here you are, then." He withdrew something dark that glimmered faintly.
"What is it?"
"One of those blast guns. Take it."
She still hesitated. He suddenly aimed it at the far wall and pulled the trigger. There was a flare of light that made the various instruments and devices of the room suddenly spring out from the darkness like living things, and then as the dimness returned, she saw that he had blasted a hole and a scorch mark into the far wall.
"He'll be quite annoyed with that," the Doctor said. "Here you are." He put it into her hand. "Now use it on me if you've a mind to. Or keep it close at hand to use whenever you want. But let me see to these locks if you please. If you're pinned down, we're both helpless."
She pointed the gun at him. Unconcerned, he went to work on the lock on her left foot. "You're going to feel very bad if you blow my head off with it," he said. "Those things can do terrific damage at close range. Just give me one in the shoulder of leg, and that way I'll have a chance to say something comforting like, 'Oh never mind, Jo. It was just a leg.'" He glanced up at her with a naughty smile that she could just make out and went back to work. "There's the left foot. Can you move it?" He opened the bracelet of the lock.
She wiggled it back and forth and nodded.
He suddenly stopped and looked over at the doorway, which was open. For a long moment he listened. "It could be a trap," he said at last. "It could all be a trap. He could be playing games with the both of us."
She hesitated, but the gun did not waver. Still unconcerned about the weapon pointed at him, he went to work opening the bracelet of the other lock. "He didn't hurt you?"
He let out a sigh. "I suppose it would be wishful thinking to hope that he said what his plans are." With a smile of triumph he got the bracelet open.
"To kill us both," she said.
"Stay there. Let me see to the door." He crossed to the doorway and cautiously peeped out into the dim hallway. "I did cut the power. He must know that I'm here. So where is he?" he asked. He turned to her, dubious. "You don't suppose he's got this place tricked out with secret passages, do you?"
"The Master said earlier that this Doctor has nerve gas canisters set up everywhere. He can trigger them and get behind emergency doors that come down."
"Well, if that's true, then we're dead right where we are," he said. He felt along the wall until his hands encountered something up high, above his head. "Yes, there's something here. I suppose I had better leave it alone."
Jo swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She still had the blaster pointed at him. He turned to her. "We've got to at least try to get out of here. The control room isn't far. Can you walk?"
For answer, she hesitantly got to her feet. He gave her a short nod, looked at the gun, and then tilted his head towards the doorway. "It's this way. Follow at a distance if you want, Jo. Not too far, or I might lose you."
She had enough recollection of her capture to recall that the path to the control room was actually rather short. A turn from an off-shoot corridor onto a larger hallway. One more turn onto the main corridor, and then a short walk into the control room, and from there over to the doors.
He followed this exact path, though he moved slowly in the dimness, listened often, and peered for a long time around each turn before he made it. The TARDIS, which seemed almost an exact replica of the TARDIS that Jo knew, was eerie in the dimness. Emergency lighting shed a dim glow onto them. Everything was silent, and this seemed almost unnatural. Normally, the TARDIS hummed and throbbed and seemed like a living entity. Even when she stood outside it, she had come to associate a presence with it: a solid comforting bulk. On earth it meant that the Doctor was in place and that the day would follow its typical routine. Away from earth, it was home and safety and an almost comical reminder of the somewhat stodgy, comfortable society she had left behind.
But now it was like a cemetery, or a mausoleum: Dead silent. Waiting. Cold. She had sensations of something leaning over her from behind.
A strange sliding sound, like bearings rotating as something slid across them, alerted her, and she looked around, unable to identify it.
"Above you!" the Doctor shouted, turning back. "He's trying to separate us." A steel door was coming down. She froze. He quickly rolled through the narrowing opening, grabbed her, and pulled her back across it just before it closed, getting her over to his side without a second to spare. They both crouched down, heads down to the floor, expecting that the chamber they were in might be flooded with gas. He threw his arm across her protectively, but there was no hope if the gas should find them. Jo heard the hiss of cylinders releasing something, but then the Doctor looked up and glanced at the wall that had come down. "It's on the other side," he said. "We'd better hurry!" He helped her up and quickly bent down to retrieve something. He pressed the gun into her hand. "Here you are. Don't leave that behind, whatever you do!" He took her by her other hand. "Come on!"
She had suspected up until that moment that it was the Doctor of the aberational universe, merely playing games with her. She had not felt sure enough to shoot him down, and now she was relieved that she had not. His grip on her hand was reassuring, and he quickly led her along the shortest route to the control room.
The control room was also dim. A few lights on the console shed faint red, green, and blue luminescences across the boards in the dim room. These small lights were reflected in the silent rotor. "This is really too easy," he said. "With the power out, we'll have to manually open the doors." He went to the cupboards and opened them one after another until he found what he was looking for. He extracted a handle with a large ratchet attachment. It looked exactly like the handles used once upon a time to get car engines to turn over.
"Quickly," he said. He led her to the wall alongside the doors and searched along the lower wall until he found an opening. "Here it is. Get ready. You first." He inserted the ratchet end into the socket in the wall.
She heard a faint hissing sound. She turned around as he furiously turned the handle. The doors barely opened a crack. "That noise---" she began.
"It's gas! He's found us. Get ready, Jo, get close to the doors, you can breathe the outside air!"
He was cranking furiously, but the doors opened only a few inches more. Even in the dim room, she could see clouds of green gas pouring over the both of them, spouting through vents in the ceiling and the floor.
A cool breeze from outside told her that the way was nearly open for her. He coughed as he worked and then suddenly bent double.
"Doctor!" she cried.
"Don't be an idiot! Go ! Get away!" he shouted. He regathered his strength and attacked the handle with renewed determination, coughing and choking. The opening widened, and she saw the street where they had first landed, the dark night. She was three paces from escape and ten paces from him He fell to his knees and went on his face, no longer coughing. But he lifted his head, as though dazedly still trying to get away.
She ran to him and got hold of his arms. She tried to pull him to the doors. But suddenly his long arms twined around hers, and the next thing she knew, she was on the floor, held down, while the green smoke billowed around them. He looked down at her and smiled. "Now that was fun," he said. He reached up and across her and flipped a toggle on the console.
The doors slowly closed, sealing her off from the outside world. "You know, I like playing that you love me. It's so new to me. I might keep you a long time before I kill you, Jo. You're such a good sport about things." He reached up, flipped another toggle, and the lights came up. The ventilation system engaged. "Harmless smoke," he said with a nod at the clouds of colored vapor that were quickly dispersing. "See, you're not even hurt." He plucked the gun from her pocket and slid it across the floor, well out of reach. "And the thing is, Jo, I can take you anywhere on this planet in my TARDIS. He'll never get to you. You'll never see him again." He touched her under the chin with his forefinger. "So why don't you play with me a while? You can still have your own game. Just pretend that I'm he. That would be such fun for you."
For a long moment he looked at her face, and Jo was startled to see, only faintly in his expression, a moment of wistfulness that was quickly smothered. His eyebrows crinkled in puzzlement, but his voice kept its mockingly gentle tone. "How did they make you love him? What did they do to bond you to him with such a strong bond? It's not like the High Council to think of things like that. But they did a good job. You would die for him, wouldn't you?" He bent down and kissed her. "Well, I'll let you. But not for a while. There's so much more that we can do."
* * * *
Kit, aside from having the routine of the night patrols memorized, also knew far more ways to get anywhere than the Doctor had dreamed existed. They climbed through landing windows to use buildings as their walkways; they snaked down into a basement from the rear and came up a stairway in the front to traverse one city block, and they resorted to garbage pick up routes. In spite of her short, tight clothes, Kit was more nimble than he at getting over fences and barricades.
She showed him what was obviously a thoroughfare disguised for use after curfew. As they climbed up a collection of stacked upright drums that had been filled with rocks to keep them stable, she suddenly stopped and swore at something.
He stopped. "What is it?"
"My shoe. Half a moment." The stacked drums and crates actually formed a rough stairway for climbing over a high chain-link fence. She pulled and tugged at her shoe. "The lining is ripped from the sole. I'm going to pull it out altogether. It's flapping each time I walk."
She put the padded lining from the shoe into her pocket, put the shoe on again, and then let him help her down the other side. "Wait again," she said. She ripped the lining out from the other shoe. "Can't bear that uneven feeling. Come on."
In less than thirty minutes, they had arrived at the TARDIS.
"That's the box you were after," she whispered.
"Yes, and now you must go back home." He suddenly turned to her, grave and resolute. "You can't go with me any further."
"What? In there?" she asked. "What do you think is inside?"
He paused and then said, "Think of it as a doorway, Kit. A doorway into another person's domain. Once I pass through, I will be in his power."
"Then why go?" she asked.
"To save a friend of mine."
She shook her head. "If it's hopeless, why bother?"
"Because I have to."
"But it's just a great big box!"
"It's far more than a great big box. Please," he said. "Go."
"I don't want to leave you," she said suddenly, and now her voice was a whimper. "I can't go back alone. I think I'm more afraid of that than anything."
He rested his hand along her face and gently stroked her cheek. "You are afraid," she said softly. "You're trembling."
"I'm trembling because I may find that my friend is dead," he told her. "And because I know that sending you back to that flat alone is a terrible thing to do to you. I'm afraid for you, Kit. And I know that this is a painful place. It's nothing but a world of pain." He hesitated. "If I had never come, Jimmy would still be alive. And I'm sorry for that. I was mad to attempt this."
Her voice was small. "You said you were sure that the Professor of the drilling project could destroy the earth if he goes on with it. Jimmy thought you might be right."
"I am right," he told her. "But now I'm not sure that stopping Stahlman will save the planet. Jimmy had two years left for all I knew, and I took them from him. I'm sorry."
She suddenly put her arms around him. She looked up at him, her eyes pleading. "Let me come with you," she whispered. "Even into death. I won't care if you're with me. I could bear it."
"I can't. He would be so cruel to you. I must go, Kit. I have to hurry."
He gently disengaged himself, turned, and strode to the TARDIS.
She came after him, but not insistently. "You're the only good I've ever seen," she said.
He wouldn't look at her, but his voice was heavy with emotion. "If I get away again, I'll find you," he said. "Don't come after me. I won't let you."
He unlocked the TARDIS door with his key, opened it, and passed inside. She made no move to follow, her hands in the pockets of her jacket, but as he closed the door, she whipped out one hand and jammed the two shoe liners into the crack as it closed.
She waited, half expecting him to open the door again and move her away from it. But he had not seen her move. After a long two minutes, she gently worked the thick padding against the lock and rocked against the door. As she had hoped, the padding had prevented the lock from engaging, but as she eased the door open, she saw that the lock was not a standard tongue in groove type lock, nor a bolt lock. In fact, it was a flat metal plate on one side.
She did not understand this, but it made no difference to her. She waited another minute and then passed inside, following him.