Hounds and Hares: Episode Eight
"All right, Doctor, any idea what this is?" Sgt. McKenna asked, dumping the Arcturean communications device out onto his desk.
Hounds and Hares
"Certainly," the Doctor said. "It's an Arcturean device for communication through a temporary opening across time and space."
"Oh aye, a hole in space," McKenna said.
He dumped out the contents of a wide manila envelope. A yo-yo, the sonic screwdriver, and assorted other bits of gadgetry fell onto the desk. "These items, I believe, were found on your person," he said.
"Could I have a receipt?" the Doctor asked.
"The screwdriver is really neat," Chucky told him. McKenna held it out to the boy. Chucky took it almost reverently.
"So that's a screwdriver eh?" McKenna asked. "Funniest looking screwdriver I ever saw."
"Watch!" Chucky exclaimed, going to the closet door. "It'll take out the screw by ultra sonics!"
McKenna watched, expression unreadable, as Chucky unscrewed part of a hinge. He held it up for the police officer to see. "I can pick the lock, too," he said. "Want to see?"
"No, son, I'll take your word for it," McKenna said. He glanced at the Doctor. "So, Doctor, you're a man from no where, armed with a small stock of gadgets I've never seen before, and you're being chased by these white faced creatures from no where."
"You saw the one Arcturean vaporize himself," the Doctor reminded him. "And you collected the body of the other Arcturean."
"Aye, the one you killed."
"That was self defense!" the Doctor snapped.
"I never said it wasn't," McKenna told him. "I came in myself and saw the evidence. Nasty scene, that, and it was surely obvious that feller meant to kill you and the girl and do something with all that salt."
He tipped his chair way back, a sign of deep thought.
"So, I understand from this young man, here, that Miss Smith shows up all of a sudden, with some great collar around her neck, in trouble. He and his young friends help her out, and some great man looking like you attacks all of them and goes up in smoke. While this is going on, you're taking a snooze in the power station. Next thing anybody knows, you're all under the hospital basement together, doing surgery of some sort and getting gassed by enemy agents and carried off." He shook his head. "But then there's this." And he held up some of the odds and ends of the Doctor's effects. "I'd think it was all eggs in moonshine, except some of this would seem to bear it out that you're not a common vagrant, and you've got access to science that I've never even dreamed of."
He dropped the items back into the envelope and leaned back again. "And there's no denying that the dead feller was of a mind to do you in. What an enemy you've made! Nasty creature with a great white face. What disfigured him so?"
"I believe he was born that way," the Doctor said.
"Poor feller. No wonder he went bad."
McKenna leaned forward and pushed the intercom. "I believe we're ready to send the young one home with his mother," he said. He glanced at Chucky. "Don't speak of this to any one, young man," he said briefly. "This is still an official investigation." He pushed the intercom button again. "Send in the young woman."
The voice over the intercom said, "Message in from town, sir. They've found the other two."
"Alive?" McKenna asked.
"Yes sir. They're on their way in now."
"Send them right in once they arrive," McKenna said. "No word out until I say so."
He did not wait for an answer, but stood up and came around the desk. Sarah Jane came in, and McKenna waved away the matron. "She's all right."
He bent down and unlocked the Doctor's handcuffs.
The Doctor let out a grateful sigh. "Thank you."
"You're turn, Miss," he said, unlocking Sarah Jane.
"Such a lot of rot anyway," Sarah Jane said with wounded pride.
"I'm sure you would think so," he assured her, indicating a chair that she could take. "But from a cop's perspective, it's necessary. I don't need to tell you two that as good a case as any could still be made against you for kidnapping."
He sat down, glanced at the Doctor's bruised face, and pushed the intercom again. "Coffee," he said. "And someone get us some sandwiches. And get those kids in here as soon as they come in."
"I know he didn't fall down any stairs," Sarah Jane insisted, hostility evident.
McKenna looked down but did not answer the jibe. "Now that it's just the three of us, I want you two to tell me who you are and what is going on."
"We've told you nearly all there is," the Doctor said.
"But what are you? And why the children?" he asked.
"The children found me," Sarah Jane insisted. "But once the Arctureans knew about them, we couldn't leave them."
"And it never dawned on you to call in the police?" he asked.
"Don't have much confidence in your methods, I'm afraid," the Doctor said quietly. This jibe went home.
McKenna grimaced. "Ah, we're not trained well for this sort of stuff. Britishers and communications devices and albino Arctureans."
"That fellow who nearly took our heads off was doing quite well as a policeman," Sarah Jane reminded him. "What sort of confidence were we supposed to have? The Arctureans could break through your security in a hundred different ways."
McKenna sighed. "But who are you?" he held up something that the Doctor recognized. It was his UNIT pass. "This looks official, but I can't get a lead on it."
The Doctor shook his head. "You aren't very likely to," he said.
"So you're government agents," the Sergeant told them. "And something's gone wrong. And you're dragging my neighbors and my children into it."
"We never meant to," the Doctor told him quietly. "The children just jumped in and started doing things. We were in bad disarray."
"It doesn't excuse you," McKenna said.
"I haven't asked you to be excused," the Doctor told him sternly. "Or to be forgiven, or to be judged. If we've committed a crime, lock us up. If we haven't, let us go."
"You present a danger to the community," McKenna told him sharply. "Now sit there and be quiet!"
"Why don't you hit him a few more times," Sarah Jane snapped.
Just then the door burst open, and Jennifer and Bruce came in, ahead of their escort.
"Doctor!" Jennifer exclaimed.
The Doctor leaped up. The officers who had come in stiffened, but McKenna waved them back as the four friends greeted each other with hugs and kisses, and even a few tears of relief.
"Sorry," Bruce said after the first salvoes of greetings were over. "We smell terrible."
But Jennifer was arrested by the sight of the Doctor's face. "The Arctureans got you," she lamented. "And they beat you." She glanced quickly at Sarah and was relieved to see that Sarah was not bruised.
"Jennifer," the Doctor said. "It was an accident; that's all."
She turned and looked at Sgt. McKenna. She looked down at the Doctor's lacerated wrists and looked back at the Sergeant. Bruce understood what she was thinking, and he expected her to explode with anger, but she was only silent.
"Let's all sit down," McKenna said.
"These children have been through enough!" Sarah Jane snapped. "And the Doctor and me as well!"
Before he could reply, the door opened again to admit an officer carrying their food. McKenna sighed. The children did indeed need at least a quick medical check downstairs, and the Doctor and young woman needed food and some respite.
"All right," he snapped back. "But nobody's leaving this building, and there aren't going to be any calls in or out for the four of you. I want this whole story, and I'm going to get it!"
* * * *
"All right, now, Missy," McKenna said to Jennifer as she sat patiently on the infirmary cot and let the nurse clean out the worst of the barbed wire cuts on her hand. "That Doctor feller tells me there'll be the devil to pay if I let it out that you're here. Just you tell me all that's been going on."
She looked down.
"Can't speak?" he asked. "You had a lot to say Sunday morning--much of it untrue."
"How did the Doctor get like that?" she asked.
"Never you mind asking me the questions!" he barked. "This is serious! Your friend out there is still hanging on the brink of a kidnapping charge. So you start talking if you've a mind to set me straight!"
She hesitated. It was a tough situation, but some of what Bruce had said earlier was starting to sink in. Whatever happened to the Doctor, where ever he went, she had to go right on living in this town. Things like lying and stealing were bound to catch up with her.
"We found Sarah Jane in the Mason house," she said. "On Saturday morning. She was bleeding from a puncture wound. Bruce and I helped her. It took a while, but she finally told us she was being chased by these five men, and that she had a friend who had been separated from her. I went to go find her friend--the Doctor. But I accidentally brought back one of the people hunting for her--"
"The so-called Arctureans," he said.
Her eyes widened a little to realize that he already knew some of what had happened. It was a relief. She was glad to know she had not been the first one to spill the beans.
"Yes," she said. "He tried to attack Sarah Jane, but all three of us fought with him, and then he did something to himself--just went into a wisp of smoke. I never saw anything like it. No clothes were left, no body, not even his shoes."
"And then?" he asked.
"Bruce and I decided that the steam tunnels under the hospital would be the best place to take Sarah. Then I started figuring things out; I mean, I knew that if the Doctor could find Sarah, he would need equipment, so I went to Hodgson's after Sunday Mass, and I found him in there. But then one of the Arctureans found us."
"So it was you inside Hodgson's?" McKenna asked, incredulous.
"Yes. The police saved both the Doctor and me," she told him. "The Arcturean had me connected to some sort of voltage machine and was trying to force me to tell him where Sarah Jane was."
McKenna's face changed slightly, but all he said was, "We found the ropes and the overturned chair."
"The Doctor was tied up, too, but he managed to jump him, and they were fighting when the police came. The Arcturean tried to get away."
"What did you two do?" McKenna asked.
"We went out on the opposite side of Hodgson's and climbed up on the roof of the Button store," she said. "After everything died down, we went to the hospital. Then the Doctor got the collar off of Sarah--"
"Collar?" McKenna asked.
She nodded. "He calls it a tracking device. Says it's how the Arctureans could home in on her. So he finally got it off of her, and we all fell asleep. Next thing I knew, it was the next day, and Sarah and the Doctor were gone. Bruce and I thought we could find them."
"Well," he said at last. "And do you see what comes of not calling in the police?"
She looked him in the eye, her face full of the sullen resentment that only a teen age girl can show. "I see what happened to him after the police came into it," she said bitterly. "He was trying to protect us."
* * *
"I'll never forgive him for this. I'm going to become a criminal."
"I don't want you to become a criminal," the Doctor told her. "Do you think it's any comfort to me to know that a few welts on my face drove you into a life of crime?"
She let out her breath and didn't answer, still angry.
"Well, let's see: What sort of criminal career would you choose?" he asked conversationally. "Forgery? You'll have to improve your penmanship, I'm afraid."
In spite of herself, she smiled. "No, a real criminal."
"Safe cracking? Hope you're good at numbers. Especially decibels and fractures."
She groaned at the abominable pun, and then laughed and gave in. After a moment she said, in a much lower voice, "Did it bother you to get hit like that?"
"Oh, better not to talk about it," he told her lightly, then he glanced at her, and saw her eyes fixed on the floor, intent, but not looking at him. He relented and said, "Of course it did, Jennifer. But you see, I knew I had done nothing wrong. I even understood--" he began.
"Understood what?" she asked. "Why he would hit you?"
"Yes, I suppose so," he told her. "Sgt. McKenna was afraid--afraid for you, afraid of what I might be hiding, afraid that if he couldn't make me talk that he might not be able to act in time to save you. I'm sure that most violence comes from fear--or from a sense of being out of control of a situation."
She almost asked another question, eyes still averted, and then did not.
"I couldn't stop him from what he was going to do to me," he told her. "The real choice is on how I must react to him," he said. "If I don't want to do those same things, then I have to leave fear behind me, and that means I must not hate him for hitting me." He paused to let his words sink in. "Not always easy," he said after a moment.
"Damned hard," she agreed, not looking up.
He did not bother to rebuke her for her language. "But it's the only way, if I refuse to be controlled by fear or hate." She looked up at him then, troubled and wistful.
Their conversation was interrupted as the office door opened and McKenna re-entered with Bruce and Sarah. Bruce's bloody t-shirt had been traded for an oversized uniform shirt that hung nearly to his knees. He had rolled the sleeves up to give his hands freedom.
"Chucky is safely away?" the Doctor asked.
"Right as rain, hid out as it were, with officers watching," McKenna told him.
"If you will give me the communications device from the dead Arcturean," the Doctor said. "I can rig it to call my own ship, my TARDIS, and we can get away from here. The Arctureans should follow us. We are their intended prey."
"And how daft do you think I am?" McKenna demanded. "To let you two outta here? Just what do you think them white fellers will do once they realize you've given them the slip?"
"They'll pursue us," the Doctor said.
"They'll take revenge!" McKenna exclaimed.
"Look, by now they know we're here!" the Doctor exclaimed. "You're putting every person in this building in danger by keeping us here!"
"We can defend our own building!" McKenna snapped. "Should I remind you, Doctor, that we did get the drop on those white faced fellers twice now? From my point of view, we've had much better luck against them than you have! Even with all your fancy gimcracks!"
"That's not fair!" Jennifer exclaimed.
"Quiet!" McKenna roared. She subsided at once, but the look of pure hatred that she shot at him startled him and displeased the Doctor as well.
"Jennifer," the Doctor said quietly. "Perhaps you and Bruce would be better off not hearing this." He glanced at Bruce. "You both need rest."
"Please don't send us home yet," Bruce began. The Doctor shot a look at the Sergeant, agreeing with Bruce.
"No, it wouldn't be safe," McKenna said quietly. "I want the two of you to get some sleep. Jennifer, there's am infirmary with a cot in it. You can take that. And Bruce, we've got an overnight room for the men. There are a few beds in there." He hit the intercom switch. "I need escorts for the boy and the girl," he said. The two teen agers stood up. The Doctor and Sarah both glanced at them. Sarah's face revealed her sympathy and that same restrained courage she had showed when Bruce had been cleaning out her shoulder wound. But the Doctor's eyes were more judicious as he met Jennifer's, revealing his disappointment in her for the unmasked hatred she had shown to the Sergeant. She looked away first. McKenna saw them to the door. An officer and one of the matrons met them there.
"You shouldn't be hard on her," Sarah whispered to the Doctor while McKenna had his back to them. "She has every reason to be angry with him. That was a cheap shot from him."
"Sarah," he said urgently. "We can't change her circumstances here. Don't you see that?" he asked. "But we can get her to change. Just. She's got to withstand these things better. She's got to be able to forgive the people who wrong her."
"Even if the wrongs are very wrong?" Sarah asked.
"Especially then," he hissed. "She must not harbor grudges. She'll never get over them. Do you know what will happen if--"
McKenna strode back to his desk and threw down his pencil. "I cannot let you go," he declared. "Believe me, right now it would be a relief. But I cannot justify it."
"You have no reason to hold us," the Doctor argued. "You know that we're special agents. You know that we did not kidnap the children. And you know that we're being pursued by our deadly enemies."
McKenna fished out a cigarette from his shirt pocket. "I know that you've trespassed on every piece of private property between here and the turnpike bridge," he retorted. "I know that you assaulted a night watchman at the power station. You broke into the electrical supply store. You have stolen equipment, drugs, and services from the hospital. You stole a car, Doctor. And furthermore, you've got some hold over those children." He aggressively lit the cigarette and then leaned forward in his chair towards them. "Look here, if I let you go, those two older ones will follow you. And I know what you'll do. At best, you'll keep them, won't you? And do you know why? Because you believe that only you can protect them." He threw himself backward in the chair. Its springs squealed in protest, but it did not tip over. "At worst, you could be a child killer. And this one's your accomplice."
"I say, steady on!" Sarah exclaimed.
"Oh, be reasonable!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Without the belt, this time!"
"I want the story again," McKenna said evenly. "The whole thing."
The Doctor leaned back in his chair, sighed, and threw his hands up. "Oh, very well."
But they were interrupted by a frantic pounding on the door. McKenna jumped up and dropped his hand to the holster on his belt. The door burst open. One of the policemen, face white, thrust his head inside. "The two kids--somebody just took them. We don't know how it--It just suddenly happened. We heard the girl scream and saw them dragged off into one of the cars."
McKenna ripped out several colorful lines and raced out of the room. "Watch those two!" he shouted as he went out. The Doctor and Sarah were both on their feet. They looked at each other. "The matron and the officer who took them," the Doctor said. "Those Arctureans didn't waste any time."
"What will they do to them?" Sarah asked.
"Use them to bargain," he told her. "Perhaps make it a two for two trade for us. Both of them for you and me."
"Perhaps?" she asked.
"Or kill one of them to show that they mean business and then trade the other for both of us," he told her. "Either way, they've got McKenna cornered."
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