Night Terrors Episode Eight;Doctor Who;Third Doctor;Liz Shaw
Night was falling when Johnny O'Haire, moving with the swift, unwavering stride of the woodsman, entered the clearing in front of the cabin. If he was weary, he did not show it. His glance fell to the soft earth in the door yard, where the deep prints of booted feet showed that the rescue team had come during his absence to carry Parsons up to the four-wheeled drive ambulance.
After a moment's scrutiny of the marks, he straightened up. He removed his hat and opened the heavy wooden door.
Inside, Liz had lit several of the candles against the night, and the front room was heavy with the smell of food. She had cleared her forensic equipment to one end of the long table and covered the items with one of the muslin sheets. The microscope sat out, uncovered. Her notebook and a pen sat alongside it, evidence of an afternoon spent in forensic work. The table had been washed down, and the half closest to the door was covered with a red square of cloth. There were plates, heavy cups, and flatware set out.
Liz herself was at the stove, staring dubiously at the contents of the cast iron frying pan. She had a long fork in her hand, and her cautious posture suggested that she might have been afraid that something would jump right out of the pan.
As he entered, she looked up and quickly pushed the skillet back from the high heat. She crossed to him, concerned for him but also suddenly self conscious.
"Johnny O'Haire, I'm afraid I'm a much better scientist than I am a cook," she said. "But I wanted to have food waiting for you." She set the fork onto the table and then suddenly seemed not to know what to do with her hands. She clasped them together.
He looked around at the gentle candlelight and the waiting table. And then he looked down at her. "It's a feast," he said.
She was suddenly anxious. "Did you find Gall Farraneagh? Is he still alive?"
With a rueful expression, he set his hat on one of the pegs near the door. "Gall Farraneagh recovers from single wounds quickly. I followed his trail to the edge of a stream, and there I could not follow. He can swim in the shallowest rivulet, and the water revitalizes him. By this time tomorrow, he will walk about again if he chooses, as though Parsons never wounded him at all."
She nodded. "I understand Gall Farraneagh better. From all that you've told me, he's not especially aggressive in seeking out strong or capable prey. So I don't know why he is especially enraged, now. I don't understand why he attacked the young man."
"They took the lad away?" he asked. "He did not worsen?"
"He was stable when they took him out." For a moment, neither of them said anything, and then she asked, her voice slightly uncertain again, "Wouldn't you like me to take your coat for you? Aren't you hungry? You've been walking all day. You should eat and rest."
"Yes." He pulled off his coat and let her take it. As she hung it on its peg, he didn't sit down, nor did he go to the stove. Instead, as she turned, he said, "Thank you."
Liz's eyes became more gentle, and her demeanor lost some of its self consciousness. "For what, Shepherd? For wanting to be near you?"
"Yes. For filling my home with this---all this."
"You. What you are. Thank you." His eyes were sober and gentle, and he seemed slightly uncertain himself, but he didn't want to look away. For a moment, both of them seemed awkward and unsure, and then she made herself relax. She smiled at him.
"Is the day over?" she asked softly. "You're not going out again, are you?" She slipped her hand into his, and his grasp, warm and firm, swallowed her hand.
"The day is over," he said. "I'll not be leaving again until morning light."
"Then I'll set out our supper," she told him. "Will you bar the door for the night?"
* * * *
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart was slightly annoyed to find the Doctor leaning over him and to feel the timelord's hand roughly shaking his shoulder.
"Come on, Lethbridge Stewart, stir your stumps! Get up! Get up!"
The Brigadier knew that giving in to sleep was not one of his own faults, and so if the Doctor were shaking him awake, it was for no good reason.
"All right! All right!" he snapped as he sat up. He groaned as soon as he moved. Whatever bed he was on was hard, cold, unyielding, and smelled slightly of formaldehyde. The crack in his collar bone had stiffened up badly. He was, in fact, sore and stiff all over. He felt almost as bad as when he had pulled himself out of the infirmary for the first time. "What in blazes has happened?" He realized that he was in the back room of the undertaker's establishment. Nearby, Sgt. Benton was just getting to his knees.
"Sgt. Benton, what are you doing on the floor?" he demanded.
The Doctor stood up straight and glowered down at him, then offered him a hand to his feet. "You're all on the floor," the timelord said. "In fact, the whole village has gone down---everybody knocked out---put to sleep."
The Brigadier stood up and glanced around. Benton, without prompting, crossed to the unconscious undertaker and woke him up.
It took Lethbridge Stewart less than a moment, once he stood, to re-orient himself and spot the theft. "The body! It's been taken!" He would have rushed to the door, but the Doctor said, "Steady on; there's no sign of anybody out there, and nothing's moving. Whoever nipped in here and took the body had it all mapped out and planned down to the split second."
"The outposts--" the Brigadier exclaimed. "Benton, radio for check-ins!"
Benton nodded, but the Doctor said, "I think they're all right. Anyway, they were when I was riding in. And I passed the village ambulance coming up the hill. Whatever hit this village hit right on low ground and knocked out everybody in the immediate area. But it didn't effect people on higher ground, or those people away from this one point of concentration."
"Why not?" the Brigadier asked him. "Do you know what did it? Have you any idea of who took the body?"
The undertaker was on his feet, assisted by Benton. "One thing at a time," the Doctor said, and he threw his glance to the door with a meaningful look at the Brigadier.
Lethbridge Stewart understood. "Right then, let's do a quick recce to see if everybody's safe." He turned to Benton. "Sergeant, confirm readiness from all the outposts. I'll call in if we find anything amiss."
The sturdy sergeant nodded. "Right sir!"
The Doctor strode out with the Brigadier. Out on the street, everything was quiet, but without the ghostly quietness that had lain so heavy over the buildings when the Doctor had pulled in. Through the window of the village shop, they could see that the woman who stoically manned the cash register was ringing up somebody, and down the narrow road, the door to the tiny post office slammed as its manager hurried inside. Other doors were opening and closing as people looked around to see what had happened.
The Brigadier stopped as he and the Doctor reached the parked motorbike. "All right," he said. "What have you found?"
"It's not a subject in which I have great expertise," the Doctor told him. "But I think it's all the same thing: the suicides, the sleep disturbances, the men in the silver helmets. Liz seems to think so, too."
His eyes were instantly alert. "Miss Shaw is all right?"
"Yes, quite all right." The Doctor hesitated and measured out what should be said and what could wait. "She needs to stay with Johnny O'Haire. She wants to figure out things from his angle. There really is a Gall Farraneagh, and he's gone crazy. And I think it may be for the same reason that the other people went crazy."
"Sound waves, bounced around the walls of this valley. Somebody's using this village for target practice: making calculations on how to use reflection and rebounding to successfully target people with sound waves."
"You mean like ultra-sonics?" the Brigadier was doubtful. "I've heard sound engineers can smash glass with them, even boil water, but wouldn't ultra-sonics be more likely to burn out a human's brain than make him suicidal?"
"Some ultra-sonics, yes. Ultra-sonics are very long wave frequencies. But I'm talking about sub-sonics. A very rapid short-wave frequency delivered in a very dense wave pattern. It could go right through matter just as ultra sonics would, but without the immense wave-length that wreaks such havoc on crystalline structures."
The Brigadier knit his dark eyebrows. "And it creates suicidal tendencies?"
"It disrupts sleep. And that causes all kinds of psychological aberrations," the Doctor told him. "Including waking nightmares and a sense of paranoia. What was it that police constable reported in the last casualty? The lad who committed suicide called up to them that it wasn't their fault, that this was for the best."
"Yes." And Lethbridge Stewart's eyes were troubled. "He said the young boy worked quite doggedly at getting ready to kill himself---not wanting attention, not wanting sympathy. Like he just wanted to do it quickly."
"Suicide is not normal in an adolescent, but when it does occur, it's usually not that well focused," the Doctor said. "Unless the boy really believed that he would be happier dead. Not a philosophical conclusion, but a rational one---even if it was incorrect."
"There was a lad once, died in hospital," the Brigadier said. "Cancer patient. Just so sick of being sick---he took poison. Left a note to say he knew it was better than all the pain. Told his parents not to cry for him because he so much wanted the release from suffering. Do you mean that sort of thing?"
"Yes. The inability to sleep properly, to dream properly, to keep the mind sorted out---that's torturous to a human being."
"If it is sound waves, what do we do? Trace the signal if we can find it?"
The Doctor nodded. "I can see to that. You'd better warn your men of this Gall Farraneagh. He's been driven into a rage. He attacked my guide, and that's pretty unheard of---"
The Brigadier cocked an eyebrow. "What's so unusual about that? I thought Gall Farraneagh was well known as a man eating monster."
"A woman eating monster, to be more precise, and up until now he's preferred his victims brought to him in terror, or else conveniently pulled into rivers and half drowned before he tore them apart. A bloody predator, but not a brave one. The only time he really fights is if he's trapped. Though I'm sure he can do quite enough damage when he wants to. And now he really wants to. Something has made him go berserk."
The Brigadier let out a rueful sigh. "Needless to say, he probably shrugs off bullets."
The Doctor shook his head. "Not entirely. He can be driven off. But I would predict that he recovers very quickly. An amazing ability to regenerate wounded tissue. A single shot or two may not do it, but if your men can rip him apart with rapid fire, there might be a chance they could kill him."
His military friend was startled at this advice. "I've never heard you advise such a thing before---not even about Nestenes or Cybermen. And how do you know so much about him? Have you encountered him before?"
To the Brigadier's further amazement, the face of the timelord became quite pained. "Killing him is the only mercy you could give him, even if it's not all that merciful. But it's the best that can be done. There's nothing to set him right, and he's lived too long. I'd better get the materials to trace those signals. There's electronic equipment in the supply vans?"
"Yes, of course."
The Doctor did not give him a second look but trudged away. He was moving quickly, but his shoulders were bowed, and his head was down.
"Doctor, I'll need a map to get to Johnny O'Haire's cabin!" the Brigadier called after him. The Doctor glanced back at him. "I'll be with the supplies. I'll draw you a map." And then he continued on his way, clearly wanting to be alone for the moment.
The Brigadier hurried back to the undertaker's establishment. The had set up an impromptu HQ in the back, close to the room that had housed the body. Benton was at an RT station in the small bare room. A single drain in the concrete floor showed that its primary use had been as a room for hosing off rubber aprons and other accessories of the profession.
The burly sergeant looked up from the rickety table and the mound of electronic equipment as the Brigadier entered. "All stations reporting in, sir," he said. "Tremendous interference from some of the outposts. Like their radio equipment's been damaged---or maybe some sort of jamming's going on."
"Let's do a quick perimeter," the Brigadier said. "I want everything secure here before I take David Cording's message to Johnny O'Haire."
* * * *
An hour later, Sgt. Benton, with the Brigadier beside him, drove the all-terrain vehicle past the village green. The headlights traced across a short line of parked military vehicles and then he neatly turned in a tight half-circle. He pulled up before a large canvas tent, the color of army fatigues. Inside, battery-operated lamps testified that the Doctor was still raiding the supplies. The Brigadier climbed out, but the Doctor strode from the interior of the temporary supply tent to meet him.
"Here is the map, Lethbridge Stewart," the Doctor said, all business. "It's the best I can give you, but you'd better plan on some time spent getting your bearings."
"Yes, of course---"
"And listen, tell those chaps in station three that I need that slingshot. I'm not going to carry a gun if I can help it, but I'll need something a little more long range than my Venusian aikido."
Benton was still in earshot. The burly young sergeant was surprised. "Take a slingshot from a little bloke?" he asked.
"From what I understand, that little bloke is causing station three no end of trouble," the Brigadier said. "All right, Doctor. We'll confiscate the slingshot."
"Have one of the men bring it in. But get on your way. It's worse trying to locate the cabin at night. Johnny O'Haire's place is well camaflouged. It will take you a good few hours traveling in darkness."
The Brigadier, holding the sheet of notepaper on which the map had been drawn, nodded and climbed into the jeep. Benton gave the Doctor a brief nod and then pulled out. They sped towards the north road.
As they cleared the confines of the village and began the steep, dark ascent towards the north ridge, the radio crackled at them, and a voice barked, "All units! This is station five. Two men killed and a woman injured---"
The Brigadier snatched up the mic. "This is Track leader. Where are you?"
The voice was urgent and loud. "Half a kilometer south by southwest of station five. Alongside a stream."
The Brigadier's voice was tense but calm. "Who's killed?"
"Civilians, track leader. And a woman bound and injured. She's hysterical. Says they were attacked by a monster. Come up from the stream somehow."
"All right. Radio silence. I repeat, radio silence until the situation is confirmed. We're on our way. All stations, maintain full alert status. Station seven, dispatch one man and a vehicle to pick up one man from station six. The two of you come to assist. We should be there within ten minutes."
"Station seven confirms. Enroute, track leader."
"Station six confirms. All quiet otherwise."
"Well maintain full alert." He nodded to Benton. The young sergeant put his foot to the floor. They swiftly climbed the steep road. A narrow, double-rutted trail appeared in the wash of the headlights' beams, and they turned off onto this rough track. The woods were even darker than the road had been
"Night's here sir," Benton called. "What about Johnny O'Haire and Miss Shaw?"
"We'll have to deal with this first, Sergeant. Maybe it will give us some idea of what we're fighting."
* * * *
The faint light that remained in the sky was reflected in the broad, shallow stream, giving the area of the most recent attack a little more visibility than the woods had afforded. As the Brigadier and his sergeant drove from the thick wood onto a broad, mossy track, they saw what looked like a large, upright "X" just across the stream on its opposite bank. Further beyond this odd edifice, which was made of saplings, a UNIT soldier knelt by a long bundle that was wrapped in a reflective blanket from station five's emergency kit.
"There's the woman," Benton said. He nodded to a long shape that was much closer. "And there's one of the dead men. Partly in the water."
"You'd better drive us across." The Brigadier reached back, beneath the rear seat, and pulled a long electric torch from the bracket next to the spare tyre. He switched it on and directed it at the dead man. The body lay partly pulled into the stream. Faint crimson in the still water indicated that he had suffered wounds, but he was almost completely on his stomach, the injuries hidden from view. Only his face was turned away, staring at them in fixed horror. An object that looked like an ancient dueling pistol lay on the bank beside him.
"He's an old duffer!" Benton exclaimed.
The Brigadier was also startled. "I believe it's the man who ran the village library."
The vehicle lurched across the shallow stream and onto the opposite bank. The Brigadier had the presence of mind to lean over the side of the open vehicle and shine the light on the front and rear tyres, checking the depth. The water came only slightly more than halfway up the wheels. "Just past the axles," he murmured. "If that creature came up from the stream, it must have come in like an eel."
Benton braked to a halt, and they climbed out. One of the soldiers met them. He pointed beyond the woman, to where the enclosing trees darkened everything. "The other bloke's up there, dead. All ripped up. She told us it caught hold of that one--" And he nodded to the body in the water, "when he tried to entice it to her. The one up yonder tried to interfere, and it attacked him next."
"Entice it to her?" the Brigadier echoed.
"It's a tale of wonder, sir." He gave a grim nod. "But the scene bears it out. She says they kidnapped her. Offered her a ride when her car broke down, and then abducted her up here in their van."
Benton abruptly turned and stared at the large X made of saplings, suddenly understanding its import.
"Right you are, Sergeant," the soldier said, reading his glance. "They tied her to that thing, with very old rope, all blood stained---"
"I must speak to her," the Brigadier said quietly, his voice firm.
"We've only just calmed her down, sir."
"Get the blanket from our emergency kit. Make a sort of bed for her in your vehicle. Do the best you can to make her comfortable. You'll have to transport her to the village. Two of you. Weapons ready." Lethbridge Stewart threw his glance towards the woman. "But I must speak with her."
"Yes sir. But you should know, they cut her up a bit. Slits like; enough to draw blood but not very deep. We did enough to patch the wounds. The knife is over there, just out of her line of vision, where we wouldn't lose it."
The Brigadier nodded and spoke quickly to Benton. "Help them take whatever they can from both emergency kits to transport her."
"Yes sir. I'll see to it."
Benton hurried to get the kit, and the Brigadier walked across the mossy bank to the young woman and the soldier attending her. At sight of him, she became slightly agitated, but the young man said quickly, "This is my commanding officer, miss." And he gave the Brigadier a very smart salute.
This behavior, the Brigadier knew, was designed to make him seem a little less ordinary, a little more of the stiff upper lip type, the sort who had won the war and all that. Anything to show her that he was different from the men who had attacked her. He gave a smart salute in return and adopted his most military and courteous bearing.
He knelt on one knee. "Madam, I am Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. I shall have you transported at once to the nearest village for medical care. But it is urgent that you tell me what happened."
"They abducted her in their van when her car was broken down, sir---" the soldier began.
The Brigadier shook his head. "Let her tell me. We must get it right. Go ahead, please," he said to her.
Her voice was low when she spoke. He noticed a corner of a clumsy dressing sponge peeping up from the blanket in which she was wrapped, evidence of their quick field dressing.
"It's as he said," she told him. "They offered me a lift. But once we were underway, they told me they were taking me here. They said it was their part of maintaining the history of the village, and I mustn't mind. They said I would see soon enough."
"Did they make any reference to the creature that came out of the water?" he asked. He kept his voice courteous and professional.
"Yes. They called him Gall Farraneagh, and they said he was called Gall Brunnon, too. When I told them it was impossible, they said I would see for myself, and then they told me that he would only come to a woman---like a unicorn. At first they told me not to be frightened. And I wasn't. Not very much. But then when we got here, I saw they meant to tie me up. Well they did, in fact, inside the van. And then they set up those saplings."
"And then forced you over to it and bound you to it. I see. They cut you then?" he asked. "To draw blood?"
She nodded, but even though he waited, she could not make herself speak again.
The young soldier again interrupted, his voice urgent but quiet. "It was us that cut her down when we found her. You can see on the sapling where the ropes were bound, sir."
Lethbridge Stewart made his voice soothing. "Yes, all right. Go on, please, Miss. Everything you can tell us will help us." He realized that his own man was nearly as overwrought by this scene as she was, but it was a good thing. She needed both immediate sympathy and a detached authority figure who would seem able to take control for her.
"The more details that you can remember, the sooner we can deal with that thing, Miss," the young man said, his voice gentle.
Her voice was unsteady, but she wanted to tell them what had happened. "They drew the knife down me. They told me it was to get blood on it. Then one of them went back towards the trees to build a blind. And the other took the knife to the water. He ran it in the water. Several times. When nothing happened, he came back to me---" She caught herself. Her young attendant rested his hand on her head, all sympathy. "For more blood, you mean?" he asked, and she nodded. He turned beseeching eyes to the Brigadier. He was just a lad himself, and he didn't like putting her through this.
"Yes, I understand," the Brigadier said quickly. "And finally---"
"Well, he gave up. He turned around. He said they would have to try again later, and they ought to take me down for now. And then, with his back to the water, I saw bubbles churn up. And suddenly this thing, all slick and dark like copper that's gone tarnished, it came up right onto the bank like a crocodile leaping. Only it leaped all the way out, like it was shot out. He was just turning back to it, and it tore down him. It ripped him down his front. Then the other man raced to me. He put his handkerchief on me and twisted it over where they'd cut me, and he ran to it."
"As though the bloody handkerchief would get its attention," the Brigadier said.
Even she, shaken and frightened as she was, became intrigued and mystified. "But it didn't. The thing swiped at him, and it cut his throat right open. He ran back to the trees, calling out for help. But he collapsed. And then the first one---he'd already showed me a gun, a sort of pistol that looked like a blunderbuss, only a hand gun. Very old, but nicely kept. He drew it from his jacket, but his hands were shaking. He discharged it into the creature. But the creature tore him apart until he stopped struggling and went limp, and then it was gone again."
"And it never approached you?" he asked.
"I don't think it even knew I was here. Even though I was making a good bit of noise. I was terrified."
"It was a terrible experience," the young soldier said quickly. "They deserved what they got!"
"That's enough," the Brigadier said. "We must find this thing. Before it attacks anybody else."
Benton had come up and crouched down to hear the end of this amazing tale. "Sounds like it was enraged when it came. Like maybe the knife enraged it," he said. "The sight of it or the smell of it, or the smell of the blood on it."
"Or the disturbance in the water," the Brigadier added. "It's quite dangerous. And now it is certainly wounded a second time. We know that the knife wound it sustained earlier barely slowed it down. This wound may enrage it even further. Are you ready to move this young lady down to the village?" he asked.
Benton nodded. "The lads from six and seven just pulled in. Three of them will accompany her down to the infirmary. We've radioed ahead. They're expecting her in the infirmary."
"Tell the other two from station five to keep watch here. Well away from the water," the Brigadier said. "Let's get a look at the bodies and the scene here, and then we're on our way to find Johnny O'Haire." But he threw a discouraged glance at the dark sky.
* * * *
Examining the site took longer than usual because of the darkness. After the rescue team had pulled out with their casualty, the remaining four members of UNIT covered every inch of ground and examined the van, its interior, and the artifices used to attract Gall Farraneagh.
Wearing gloves, the Brigadier examined the finely whetted knife. It was highly polished but of ancient forging, and it caught the Brigadier's attention. "This looks like the knife that Miss Shaw described to the Doctor on the morning after her assault," he said. "And those ropes as well, caked with old blood. See that they're properly bagged. This is going to entail a criminal investigation."
Benton was grim. "So that bloke at the pub, the one that Johnny O'Haire killed. He was going to do this to Professor Shaw? What those men tried to do to that young girl?"
"Apparently. Once he'd finished with her himself."
Benton clenched his fists and then unclenched them. "To young girls," he said to nobody. Then he looked at the Brigadier. "And that dueling pistol? A genuine antique. And it was fired. A good bit of shot to judge by the bore."
"Presumably kept on hand to frighten the girl into submission," the Brigadier said. "The real question is, if there is a cult that is still dedicated to Gall Farraneagh, how many members does it have?"
"There hasn't been a victim in ages," Benton said.
"That pub keeper. It's said that he killed his wife and daughters. Offered them to the creature. Nothing was proved in court against him, but he was banned from the village. Outcast." The Brigadier looked thoughtful.
"But outsiders," Benton guessed. "They would be safer targets. How many women, I wonder, have disappeared from the villages just outside this valley?"
The Brigadier shook his head. "When we were first notified of the suicides here, I had all of that checked: crime, abductions, disappearances, suicides outside the valley. There's no indication of anything but several peaceful communities. But something has stirred up this creature, and when it became active again, its followers became active." He glanced at his watch. The careful search of the scene and the van had taken over an hour.
"We mustn't lose any more time. Let's go search out Johnny O'Haire."
"Right, sir." But Benton still looked doubtful. "I hope that Professor Shaw is all right." They trudged to their transport.
"The Doctor said she was quite keen on staying with O'Haire. She thinks he can provide vital information on all of these matters."
But Benton was not entirely convinced. "You don't suppose he has some kind of hold over her? We know he's not like other people. Perhaps he has---well, unusual powers."
They climbed into the all-terrain vehicle. The Brigadier adjusted his hat. "The Doctor was down there earlier today. Miss Shaw seemed at perfect liberty. She did some forensic work while he was there."
"But why stay? Out in the middle of no where, in a place we can't even find that easily? No road, no telephone, no radio contact. And what if this chap's not all that stable?" Benton put the vehicle into gear, and they swung around on the mossy bank to find their way.
The Brigadier had to raise his voice over the engine noise. "If he has some sort of hold over Miss Shaw, Sgt. Benton, we shall break it and free her. Drive on. The first task is to find them."
* * * *
Finding them, as the Brigadier had anticipated, took most of the rest of the night. It was a painful ride for a man with a cracked collarbone and other injuries. Nevertheless, they kept retracing their way and checking for landmarks that the Doctor had noted for them. Dawn was only a couple hours away when they pulled to a stop before a tangled wall of trees and climbed out. The searched on foot until they found their way into the steep ravine, and they walked the rest of the way, until their hand held torches at last swept across the shuttered cabin.
The Brigadier made a brief cutting motion with his hand, and Benton switched off his torch.
"Looks quiet enough. No dogs," Benton said.
"We'll just see. Stay here. I'll test the waters."
The Brigadier climbed out. In the stillness as he approached, he heard Johnny O'Haire's voice from within the cabin, muffled by the walls so that the words were not distinguishable. But the tone was calm enough. And then Liz's voice, also calm and yet querying, replied to him. It was only a brief interchange, and yet the tones from both of them suddenly struck the Brigadier with a new idea. But the impossibility of such a thing quickly followed his first impression.
The front door opened a crack, showing Johnny O'Haire, dressed in his breeches and a long shirt, with a guttering candle in his hand, and Johnny O'Haire said calmly, "I have no quarrel with you, Ard-vrigaidagh. But you would be much more welcome if you would come after the sun is risen."
"David Cording has sent me, Johnny O'Haire," the Brigadier said. "To warn you on his behalf for the sake of the village, and to secure your help."
"Young David sends his own men to me, not the captain of those who oppose him."
"David Cording has been badly injured, and there was no time for him to summon his own men. He gave me his ring to show you as a token of his assent in this matter." And the Brigadier held out the ring. The door opened slightly wider, but Johnny O'Haire did not step out to examine the ring or take it. Instead, he said, "Give us a moment or two." And then the door closed.
More silence followed, punctuated only by the briefest bits of conversation from within and the sounds of two people moving about. The door opened again, revealing both Johnny O'Haire and Liz Shaw, both dressed and ready. The inside of the cabin was illuminated with lighted candles and oil lamps.
"You promise that you come peacefully?" he asked.
"Yes, I promise."
"Come in, then. And call in your man as well."
"You'll have tea, Brigadier?" Liz asked.
The Brigadier waved in Sgt. Benton, and then he said, "Are you all right, Miss Shaw?"
"Perfectly. Do sit down." She turned to Johnny O'Haire. "I'll make the tea if you like."
But the Brigadier did not sit down. He took two steps inside, his boots clumping on the wooden floor. "Miss Shaw, I shall return you to the UNIT temporary HQ this morning. We need you at our camp HQ."
"She shall stay with me," Johnny O'Haire said. "She is neither frightened nor badly used here."
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I am her commanding officer, and I shall determine how best to employ Miss Shaw."
"She has made her oath to stay with me," he said again.
"Oath?" Benton exclaimed. "She can't be held to that."
"Why not?" Johnny O'Haire demanded.
The sturdy young sergeant's face was set. "Because you kidnapped her---"
The Brigadier spoke again, his voice cold and hard. "Johnny O'Haire, Miss Shaw shall return in our custody. That is my final word." And he rested his hand on his sidearm. The intent was clear.
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