"Doctor, what on earth are you doing now?" the Brigadier demanded. "Where are you going? It's nearly five!"
"The morgue," the Doctor told him as he pulled on his driving gloves and strode down the hall. "Didn't you see the report on your desk?"
"What, the men dead at the corner?" the Brigadier asked. "I can only handle one crisis at a time. Hope we're not getting the spring rush of bizarre events around here."
"I think those men may have something to do with all of this," the Doctor said. "Anyway, I can't rule it out without checking. Care to come along?"
As a rule, the Brigadier objected to driving with the Doctor. For one thing, the time lord drove like a madman, and even if the car was not subject to inertial recoils like other cars, Lethbridge-Stewart could not adjust to that fact. And for another thing, it did not seem quite dignified to be hurtling across the countryside in an open Edwardian roadster. But the Doctor was hurrying out to Bessie, and the Brigadier had learned that what the Doctor thought was worth checking, usually was. "All right, but watch the driving if you please," he said, hurrying after him.
They pulled out and roared out the main gate, the Doctor heedless of the Brigadier's caution about driving.
"You think the Master waylaid them?" the Brigadier called above the wind rush around them.
"No, I think it may be something far worse," the Doctor called back. "A very nasty thought occurred to me when I read the report from the morgue."
"The Master may have contrived some way to bring a colonizing sample of the array to us already," the Doctor said. "Or perhaps somehow it did arrive without his assistance, pushed along on a solar wind or whatever, and before it died in our atmosphere, he may have revived it somehow."
"You think the array is already on earth?" the Brigadier exclaimed.
"Just a sample, Brigadier," the Doctor answered. "A spore, a front runner. Remember the yeast analogy!"
"Well what about the blasted yeast analogy?"
The Doctor stomped the brake at a cross roads and the Brigadier found himself yelling "blasted yeast analogy" in the summer morning silence as a bicyclist went by. He checked himself and rephrased it as the Doctor pulled out again. "What about the yeast analogy?"
"Many colonizing creatures that operate on the array principle spend a certain percentage of their energy and collective life force in sending out spores or exploratory samples," the Doctor explained, raising his voice as the wind rush became loud again. "These front runners routinely die from lack of nourishment and protection, but they seem able to send back messages somehow to the main array. Perhaps one out of a hundred or one out of a thousand front runners will start a successful colony in a receptive location."
"Do yeast do that?" the Brigadier asked. "Can't imagine a load of bread sending out crumbs to have a look-see."
The Doctor grimaced. They were passing a farm on the right, and he slowed down and nodded to it. "Pigs," he said.
"What? Oh yes, I smell them," the Brigadier said. The Doctor speeded up again.
"Candida albicans," he shouted over the wind.
"The what in what cans?"
"Candida albicans!" the Doctor shouted again. "It's a yeast that sometimes attacks pigs. Takes the flesh right off them. Starts in the intestinal tract where it occurs naturally. But it gets out of control, takes over the intestines. Then it changes from a yeast to a fungus. It moves into other organs. Reconverts back to a yeast form, reproduces, colonizes. If it gets into the heart and lungs, that's the end of the creature."
"You think it's like the array?"
"Very like," the Doctor told him. "Candida albicans is a terrestrial example of a creature with an array mentality. A few yeast cells of candida are harmless, ill adapted to surviving. As it successfully reproduces and colonizes, its own ability to adapt improves. The individual cells seem to combine to form a collective intelligence that carries out a strategic battle to gain control over the host creature's organs and immune system." He pulled up at another cross roads. "It sometimes outwits antibiotics and the immune system," he added. "But usually a treatment of antifungal medication will knock it out eventually." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "If it doesn't kill the pig in the meanwhile."
"So what's it got to do with these dead chaps?" The Brigadier asked him. "Think the array is colonizing inside of them?"
"What? Oh no, of course not. But an exploratory spore would test its adaptability against any possible source of nutrition. It has to determine if it can adapt. We need to get a look at these dead chaps to see if the Array is developing its own strategies for colonization of this planet."
They pulled out again with another roar.
Visiting morgues would give anybody the shivers, but the ghastly inappropriateness of the brilliant early summer day outside, the glorious sunlight, the bursting flower blossoms, set against the dreadful chill inside the building and its sad contents raised gooseflesh on the back of the Brigadier's neck. But he set his face into a mask of fixed interest as the Doctor pulled back the sheet from the dead police officer. The attending surgeon stood by, silent and deferential. The outlandish clothing of the Doctor may have startled him, but the uniform of the Brigadier was obviously something to be respected. Perhaps, for all he knew, the Doctor had been called from viewing some opera to consult on this case.
"No invasive autopsy yet?' the Doctor asked.
"No sir," the surgeon said. "Waiting for you. As soon as we saw this lot we thought there should be a report."
"You were right," the Brigadier told him.
"Look at this," the Doctor observed, holding the dead man's wrist in his fingers. "Won't keep long, but there's blood in his arteries at the extremes of his limbs; blood in the corneal blood vessels in his eyes, too." He leaned close to the dead man's face and peered at the skin. "Blood in the facial blood vessels. Like he died running a race."
"But he didn't," the surgeon advised them. "He was ticketing someone for illegal parking."
"The other dead man?" the Doctor asked.
The Doctor turned to the other table. He took off his jacket before examining the second corpse. If the attending surgeon thought anything of the ruffled shirt, he said nothing. The Doctor passed the jacket to the obliging Brigadier and examined the second victim. "Same thing," he said at last. "All the blood drawn to the outermost layers of the skin, as far as it could go."
"Cause of death?" the Brigadier asked.
"Could be several things," the surgeon advised. "Won't know until we go in."
"Probably unidentifiable," the Doctor said. "But with the blood pressure required to force the blood to the surface vessels like that, they may show signs of aneurisms."
He straightened up and looked thoughtful. The surgeon discreetly pulled the sheet over the subject.
The Brigadier's voice was terse. "The Array?"
With a nod of thanks, the Doctor reached for his jacket. "I think so. I think it's here."
"But how did the Master control it?" the Brigadier asked.
"The same way he transmaterialized out of the university lab," the Doctor told him. "By means of an energy field. Strong enough for the array to survive in an unknown world, but designed to imprison it as well--or perhaps keep it dormant. The Master obviously knows more about this creature's metabolism than we do." He struggled back into his jacket. "Thank you," he said to the surgeon. "Go ahead with the autopsies and let us know the results, will you?"
The surgeon glanced at the Brigadier, who nodded his consent.
The bright sunshine welcomed them back from the land of the dead. The Brigadier found himself leaning against Bessie for a moment before climbing in.
"You all right, old chap?" the Doctor asked.
"Bit of a shock to see it on the face of one so young," the Brigadier said. "Never get used to that, not even with a lifetime of service in the armed forces. Not when they're young."
"Yes, it's distressing," the Doctor said. "And more distressing the idea that there's likely a cluster of the array out free somewhere. We may see more victims before we see less."
The Brigadier climbed in on his side, and the Doctor followed suit on the driver's side.
"Why did it kill them?" he asked as the Doctor pulled out easily.
"Energy transfer," the Doctor said. "It lives on energy, and it was trying them on to see if they would do. Remember, human beings do transmit their own weak electrical and magnetic fields, as well as giving off heat and carrying out chemical energy transfers internally." He was driving at a gentler pace now.
"So we can look forward to this thing having a person or two for breakfast every morning?" the Brigadier asked.
"Not likely," the Doctor told him. "My guess is that humans don't give off enough energy to make it worthwhile for the array. In fact, the energy it expends to drain off energy from humans in the most palatable form to it may cause a greater deficit."
The Brigadier smiled grimly. "So we cost it more than what we're worth," he said.
"But the knowledge gained in destroying humans may be priceless to the array," the Doctor told him. "My guess is that it will experimentally attack humans as the dominant creature of this planet, destroying one or two of them at a time until it finds a way to eliminate them full scale and make the earth habitable for itself."
The sun was setting, and clouds were moving in. The night would be dark, and it was falling fast. "Have you eaten today?" the Doctor asked suddenly.
"Of course I--well, no, I suppose I haven't," the Brigadier said. "Been after the Master all day and then overseeing the transfer of Miss Wilmer, and now this. Perhaps that's why I feel so green."
The Doctor truned the wheel several turns. "Come on then," he said. "I know a smashing little place. Aged beef that he's raised himself and good country ale. We can phone in from there."
The Brigadier let out a sudden laugh of appreciation. "All right. We might as well eat hearty tonight if that Array thing is going to be sucking out our guts tomorrow."
* * * *
Just after 2 Am, the telephone rang.
"Tell them it's all right," Diana warned her.
Jo, on her knees before the telephone table, picked up the handset. "Doctor!" she exclaimed, startled to hear his voice. Then she added in a happier tone, "No, it's been fine. Very quiet. All the guards all right? She glanced at Diana, who held the tip of the carving knife at her throat with grim purpose, her free hand grasping a handful of Joe's hair, right at the top of her head. "No, she's been sleeping well," Jo said brightly. "Bit more restless for me, strange house and all that. But it's been very quiet. All right then. See you soon."
She hung up.
"When is he coming?" Diana asked.
"Tomorrow at noon."
"Don't lie to me!" Diana exclaimed, pulling back Jo's head with an iron grip on her hair, exposing her throat. "I'll kill you now and take my chances!"
Jo had never noticed that she could feel the pulse in her own neck before, but suddenly she could. She looked up at Diana, who was perched above her on the wide arm of the sofa in the dark study. Their only light was from the hallway. Diana did not want to attract the attention of the soldiers outside.
"I'm not lying," Jo said at last, trying to keep her voice steady. "You can listen in next time. You'll see for yourself."
Diana did not move the knife or relax the grip on Jo's hair. It seemed that there was a battle going on in some part of her. Jo did not know if it was a battle over whether or not to abandon her plan to serve the Master, or a battle over whether or not to kill Jo herself.
"Diana," she whispered. "May I ask you something?"
"Go ahead," Diana said, looking down at her with contempt.
"How did you feel when he injected you with the barbituate?" Jo asked. "Were you frightened?"
An intense gleam came into Diana's eye as she sensed the older girl's attempt to manipulate her emotions.
"I'll answer that if you answer my question," she said.
"All right," Jo told her, trying to nod.
Diana leaned closer, forcing Jo's head back even further, and brought the knife broadside to Jo's throat. "How did you feel when you heard me beg you not to send me back here?" she asked. "And when you heard that Doctor fellow say no, he must send me back?"
"I was sorry for you," Jo gasped after a moment.
"That's how the Master was when he injected me," she said. "He was sorry." For a long moment she looked at Jo, and Jo sensed that in spite of the conversation, Diana was still weighing something out. But at last Diana leaned back and let Jo regain her balance and said, "You're all the same to me--him, you, the Doctor. You're all sorry about what you plan to do with me, but it won't stop you from doing it. Except," And she stopped.
"Except?" Jo asked.
"He changed his mind," Diana told her. "The Master will keep me with him as long as I'm useful."
"And when you're not useful?" Jo asked.
"He'll kill me or abandon me," Diana said. "But it's still better this way."
The long night passed with little more conversation between them. Just at dawn Diana forced Jo into a closet and locked her in for about thirty minutes, then came back and released her.
"We're going to the garage downstairs," Diana told her. I've loaded my wheelchair into the van with some other odds and ends of my father's. You're going to drive where I tell you to go."
"Diana, this is insane," Jo began, and cried out when Diana backhanded her in the mouth.
"What else?" Diana asked her.
"Nothing," Jo said.
"Go on then."
With difficulty they climbed into the van from the passenger side. Jo saw that Diana had contrived to saw off both the button lock and door handle on the driver's side, so that there was no escape that way but through the window.
Diana instructed her to belt herself in and handed her the key. "If the soldiers stop us, tell them we're going out for an English breakfast," she said. "You know I've lived my whole life until now using my hands and arms to lift myself and get around. I've got this knife at your ribs. It's nothing to me to push it in all the way. So you'd better do as I say."
They got past the obliging soldiers without a hitch. Diana directed Jo along the highway and then down country lanes until Jo was completely lost. After an hour and a half's ride they came to a very steep driveway, which she was instructed to follow. It led up a steep hill to a narrow, tall, multi-story lodge.
Just as Jo was contemplating making a dash for it, the side door opened, and the figure she dreaded so much came out of it, free of his manacles and leg irons. At sight of her, he burst into a congenial smile.
"My dear Miss Grant, you are a lovely sight at any time, any locale," he said. He opened the door. Jo very nearly did make a dash to get away, now that Diana's guard was relaxed, but before she even moved, she heard the snap of a handcuff on her wrist. He jerked her out of the van, nearly sending her sprawling.
Diana climbed out on the other side, sheathing the knife in her belt.
"Pardon me," the Master said to Jo as she got to her feet. "But it is just as well to let you know now that we have no time for foolishness and risky escapes. Come inside."
Inside, the downstairs was a mess of papers, electronic equipment that Jo assumed was either stolen from others or "borrowed" for the moment from Dr. Wilmer, and discarded tea cups.
There had been a coat closet at the end of the narrow entryway, and the Master had removed its door and put a bench in it. He pushed Jo down onto the bench. "Other hand," he said. She gave him her other hand. He looped the handcuff chain over the coat hangar bar and handcuffed her other hand, so that her two hands hung by the handcuff chain from the bar where people normally hung their coats.
"Well Diana, you have done very well," the Master said to his new protege. "You make a very determined and loyal assistant." And he gave her shoulders a fatherly squeeze. Jo noticed that he kept his gloves on, though. He usually wore them around humans, and Diana was no different.
But the sixteen year old girl beamed at his approval. Yet she was too determined to win even more of it to bask very long. Jo couldn't hear what they said, but they had a long and intense conversation at the other end of the room. It was obvious that Diana's quick mind had been planning and scheming all night. She had the air of a child pleading with her father, or a student pleading with a teacher, or perhaps even a suppliant pleading with a king, and as long as this attitude remained, the Master seemed content to listen to her. He even laughed and joked with her. But she was obviously urging him along a specific course of action. They wrote down some things together, and Jo saw him correct her in a few places, aligning the plan to his will.
"This way, Master," she heard Diana say. "You will have the utmost freedom to do what is valuable to you with the array and the laser, and you can attend to the Doctor when you've finished, sir, at your liesure."
The Master nodded. "Call him, then, Diana, I believe he will come."
Diana jerked her head at Jo. "We have to gag her," she advised. "She'll risk her life to warn him."
"As you well know," the Master agreed, nodding at her. He picked up some of the discarded papers at the desk, twisted them into a heavy strand, and wadded them together. "I'll take care of her. You may place the call now."
He leaned over Jo and smiled. "This will be a bit uncomfortable Miss Grant--" And he jammed the wad of papers into her mouth until he felt her gag. When he was satisfied that she couldn't work them out of her mouth, he took his hand away.
"I know you would give your life for him," he said to her quietly while she struggled to breath and gagged again on the papers. "I don't think I ever really understood that until now." He spoke in a tone of confidentiality, and he nodded discreetly at Diana, who was being patched through to the Science lab at UNIT. "I understand now because I know that she would give her life for me," he said. "But I don't know why." He narrowed his eyes, partly mocking her and all humanity, partly admitting a certain satisfied admiration for such dogged loyalty. "I begin to see what the Doctor values in you humans," he said.
Diana caught his eye and he nodded back to her and rejoined her at the telephone.
Her voice abruptly changed. "Hello Doctor?" she quavered. "We've been captured--help us. He says he plans to kill us. Please help us. Don't leave us here!"
She quickly passed the phone to the Master and began to gently sob into her own arm, watching him for her cues.
"Yes Doctor," the Master greeted him with. "Ah yes, Diana Wilmer, such a pleasing child--though somewhat frightened right now. And your Miss Grant is here, too. Won't you join us? Alone?"
* * * *
"All right," the Doctor said into the phone. "Yes, I'll bring it with me. Yes. Alone. I understand."
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart strode in just as the Doctor hung up.
"What is it?" the Brigadier asked.
"He's got them, Brigadier. Both of them."
"The Master?" the Brigadier asked. "How?"
"I don't know," the Doctor told him. "Could he have somehow rigged up another transmaterializer? It hardly seems possible."
"What's he want?" the Brigadier asked.
"His equipment--and the crystal," the Doctor said.
"Never!" the Brigadier exclaimed.
"Brigadier!" the Doctor said severely.
For a moment, Lethbridge Stewart's iron will was shaken by something in the Doctor's bearing, look, and voice, but he recovered so quickly that no one observing would have even noticed.
"I know my duty, man!" he exclaimed. "He'll destroy the world with that crystal! Bring the array down to us!"
"And what about Jo and Diana?" the Doctor demanded. "Do we let them die?"
The Brigadier paused, and when he spoke it was obvious that he didn't like what he said, but he said it: "If we have to, Doctor."
"No, I can't accept that," the Doctor said.
"Then give me a plan," the Brigadier told him. "Can we hand him a placebo? Fake some of the equipment? Fake the crystal?"
"He would detect that as soon as I handed it to him," the Doctor said. "Wait--I think I have an idea."
"To create the laser light bridge, he's depending on the Americans' experimental satellite to refract his laser ray sufficiently and reflect it to Venus."
The Brigadier's voice was dubious. "Yes? I don't think we can get the Americans to bring down the satellite."
"No of course not," the Doctor agreed. "But it does mean that the Master will use radio equipment to take control of the satellite for a moment. He has to retune the reflectors on it to point to Venus."
"You think we can jam his signal?" the Brigadier asked.
"Contact the Americans again," the Doctor told him. "Get the bandwidth of the control frequencies for the satellite. You can direct radio signals right at the satellite that will jam any incoming signals. That way, even with his equipment, he won't be able to shoot the laser ray to Venus. The reflectors can send the laser ray harmlessly into space."
"I want you to let me take his equipment and the crystal back to him as he's asked."
"If you jam the radio control frequencies it shouldn't matter!" the Doctor shouted. "Do you think we can keep him away from that satellite forever by hanging onto one crystal? You don't think the Russians, the Japanese, even the American telecommunications industry won't develop long range tuning crystals? We can't police the world!" His hand crashed to the table top. A half-full cup of tea jolted off the edge of the table and crashed to the floor. The Doctor's cheeks were scarlet, his eyes bright for a moment. The room was silent for a moment with a heavy silence.
"All right then," the Brigadier said quietly. "You may have it. We'll keep a trace on you of course. We'll close in discreetly."
The Doctor nodded. "Of course. Sorry about the tea."
"I'll get you a jeep," the Brigadier said. "And I'll get on the Americans right away. How long will it take you to get ready?"
"An hour. He wants me there by noon."
"All right then." The Brigadier walked away, stopped, turned back, and held out his hand. "Good luck, then."
They shook hands. "Thank you," the Doctor said. "Get that jamming frequency in place, and all should be well."
* * *
"Here he comes," the Master said, peering out the one downstairs window that he had not boarded up.
"I'm sure he won't be alone, Master," Diana warned.
"He's alone, but they'll have a transmitter on him to trace him," the Master told her. "It's all right. We don't need a great deal of time, and we'll have two very valuable hostages." He shot a smile back at Jo, who had finally managed to work the wadded paper gag out of her mouth. She was leaning wearily against her suspended arms. "You'd better give that one some water," he said.
Now that she saw someone genuinely suffering, Diana did not seem quite as adament and ruthless as she had been in capturing Jo.
"Here's water," she said awkwardly to Jo, approaching the captive with a cup of tap water. Jo looked up.
"I can't get to it," she whispered, dazed.
"It's all right," Diana said, holding the cup to her mouth so she could drink it. Jo took two long swallows and then shook her head. Truth to tell, she felt nauseated and frightened, and she felt one fear that she would cry, and another that she would throw up. She didn't want to do either.
"You ought to drink it all," Diana said. "There's no food."
"Diana," Jo whispered.
"What is it?"
"When it's over here, you may change your mind," Jo said.
"Change my mind?" Diana asked.
"About all of this. About us," Jo said. "Someday, if you do, I want you to know it's all right. You're just a child, and I understand that."
Diana stepped back, and for a moment Jo thought the girl was offended and angry, but Diana only gave her a long look. Then she said, "Whatever I feel later, I'm going through with this now."
"All right." Jo nodded.
"Quickly Diana, quickly!" the Master exclaimed. "Take your place!"
Diana quickly slammed herself down into the wheelchair and covered her lap with a blanket. The Master handed her the same gun she had passed to him in the prison cell.
"There are only two shots left," he told her.
"I'll get it right up against his head, Master," she promised.
He got behind her and pushed her out in the wheelchair.
Outside, the Doctor climbed out of the open jeep. At sight of the Master and Diana, he took a step forward, and then waited.
"I'm unarmed as promised, Doctor," the Master said, holding up his hands but staying behind the wheelchair. "And you?"
"Unarmed," the Doctor told him.
"I'll need to verify that."
The Doctor nodded and doffed his cloak, then his jacket, so that he stood in shirt and dark trousers, hands raised.
"Very good," the Master said. "And here is my part of the bargain--Diana Wilmer."
"Where's Miss Grant?" the Doctor asked.
"Inside. You'll get her when I see the goods delivered--inside the lodge."
"Diana," the Doctor said. "Are you all right?"
Eyes big with fear, she nodded. "Jo's inside," she said in a small voice.
The Doctor strode toward the Master. Of the two of them, the Doctor was the far larger and more powerfully built. "I've brought your equipment," he said, handing the key to the jeep to the Master. "I want both girls, and I want them now." Diana cautiously wheeled past him, away from the Master.
"You won't be so boorish as to try violence, will you, Doctor?" the Master asked with a smile.
"If you have a weapon, you'd better use it now," the Doctor said, and stopped as he felt the cold barrel of a gun thrust into the back of his head. "Oh my," he said lightly. "I was rather under the impression that you were alone up here." And he raised his hands in surrender.
"I am his weapon now," Diana said to the Doctor. "Don't turn around. Fold your arms across your chest and walk towards the lodge."
"You'd better do it, Doctor," the Master told him. "She has a frightful temper. I would hardly have known Miss Grant after Diana brought her to me."
He obeyed her and walked into the lodge, followed by Diana and the Master. "Where is Jo?' he asked.
"Right here, Doctor, right here," the Master said. "Sit down."
Jo looked up, startled out of a doze. "Doctor," she exclaimed.
He was relieved to see that she seemed not too much the worse for her capture.
"Your hands, Doctor," the Master said, and quickly handcuffed the Doctor as Jo was handcuffed, his hands hanging over the coat rail.
"Are you all right, Jo?' the Doctor asked kindly.
"Not so bad," she whispered, looking up at him with a small smile. With the subtlest movement, they nearly touched heads, an automatic gesture of solidarity between them. The sight of a bond between them amused the Master and annoyed Diana.
"How extremely tender," he laughed, while Diana stalked away.
"Master!" she said suddenly.
"Yes my dear?" he asked her. The Doctor started at the indulgent tone of voice his enemy used. For the first time he realized the extent of the allegiance between them. Even standing at the end of her gun, he had assumed that she was under the Master's mind control. But now he saw that she was free--free and allied with the Master.
"You said that colony of the array is loose," she told him. "I think I see it out there in the sunlight."
He darted out an arm and pulled her back from the window, getting a look himself. But the gesture was protective, not angry. "It's deadly Diana!" he exclaimed. "Get back!"
"What about them?" she asked, nodding at the Doctor and Jo.
"They'll have to fend for themselves. Out the back door!" he exclaimed, and they hurried out.
"It's deadly?" Jo asked the Doctor.
"It killed two men yesterday morning," the Doctor told her. "Maybe more that we don't know of yet."
A brightness at the window told them that it was there. Part of the far wall became translucent, and then the array was in the room with them.