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Death and Toliman
Episode One
by Jeri Massi
This story closes my Third Doctor canon, July 2001.

My thanks to Graham Woodland for his critique and editorial comments on this story.

The imposing, newly built house showed no lights, though the time was, in the words of the famous poem, "brillig," and the day was closing.

Sarah Jane Smith waited in the high hedge until the dark-coated figure left the front door and made his way round back. As he disappeared around the far corner of the house, she crept out skilfully, her hands on the camera that was hung 'round her neck, steadying it. She was a journalist by profession, not a photographer, but she could manage a lens and shutter well enough to entice a magazine to devote some space and resources to her. And she was fairly certain that this was one of those expeditions in which she might need a little evidence to coax some cooperation from the demure police.

The house was new enough that its architect had tried to make it imitative of an older style, but he had not been able to hide the greater efficiency of design that allowed for a smaller edifice overall while still commanding a high price on the market. It was unusual, she thought, for a house in a neighborhood like this to command such attention and caution from the police investigators. As far as she had observed, they had not yet entered it. First they had simply watched it. Then they had begun to approach it, but nobody ever answered their knocking. The man sent out yesterday had gone far enough to peer into the windows.

Her initial point of secret observation that day had been in a border of prickly, tightly-packed shrubbery that had been planted as a wall of privacy. But a friendlier, less prickly array of azalea bushes under the front windows offered a more comfortable hiding place. She ducked into them. Faintly, she heard the rapping at the rear door. She waited, but from what she could determine there was no answer. Yet the police inspector did not appear. She would have to get round the back to see what he was doing.

There was no cover this side of the house, but perhaps she would do better on the other side. She poked her head out from the bushes and---on hands and knees---craned her neck to see if there might be any foliage round the side.

A slight sound from her other side made her turn, and she saw two trousered legs at her shoulder. She looked up.

The police inspector, a youthful, red haired, handsome man, was staring at her, his arms folded across his chest.

"Miss Smith, isn't it?" he asked her. "The pain in the a--- neck to every police operation that requires discretion?"

She stood up and came out of the azaleas. "Is that what they call a cloak of secrecy these days at Scotland Yard?" she asked. "Discretion?" She had dirt on her knees and down the front of the lower legs of her slacks.

"Free-lance Journalism," he said. "Is that what the magazines call a psychotic inability to mind one's own business and let others get on with their work?"

She offered a slight shrug. "Don't mind me. I wasn't in your way."

"Not until anything goes flying out the front door or neighbors start wondering why a young lady is crawling through the bushes."

"There's no neighbors. Neighbors can't see over that hedge. Fine copper you are."

"Look why do you have to hound us with your urgency to make a name for yourself?" he asked. He swept back his coat and jacket and hooked his thumbs in his belt at the hips. He was a slim but muscular man, and this gesture made her feel suddenly smaller and more vulnerable. And the words actually hurt her. Her lower lip started to protrude, and she pressed down on it.

She made her voice cold and aloof. "I've made a name for myself, Inspector. I sell my work because the editors know its solid. So why don't you get off your high horse and tell me what's been going on in this house?"

He didn't alter his posture. He was defiant and intimidating, and he knew it. "Why don't you tell me how you got a line on this house before I make you tell me in an interview room."

"Oh now you've got me frightened. Going to whack me with wet tea bags until I talk?" She was glad for the refuge in sarcasm. She needed it under the glaring, dark blue eyes of his. And she was suddenly afraid that he might arrest her.

With a deft, swift, hooking motion, he scooped up the camera by its strap, lifted it from her neck, and dropped it by its strap around his own neck. "I'll be willing to try anything to get a nosy parker like you out from underfoot, Miss Smith."

"Give that back to me. I'll write out a complaint," she said.

"Good, you can write out a complaint while you're waiting for your solicitor in the nick. Which is where I'll put you for interfering with the public safety." He was just about to seize her by the shoulder, and she was about to make a louder protest, when from the depths of the house, a voice cried out in horror. It was an anguished, tormented cry.

"That's a child!" she gasped. "Oh hurry!" she shouted. The scream was repeated. They rushed to the front door.

"It's upstairs. It's a woman," he said. And he turned and glared at her. "Stay out here or I'll arrest you for certain."

"All right, I'll stay!"

With one swift kick from a long leg, he kicked the front door out of the door jamb, and Sarah did a double take. Doors on houses like this were usually far more substantial than that.

She did not enter, but she saw a dark staircase that opened right at the front door. It led steeply up to the rooms above. He bounded up them, and she was amazed, as it was still barely twilight outside, that the upper part of the steps was quite dark. She squinted and leaned forward to peer up the steps.

She heard him cry out with one terrified shriek of surprise, a horrible sound that was suddenly snapped off before it was finished. Startled, she backed away. Something rushed down the steps towards her, and she pushed herself off of the wood trim around the door as she turned to run. Then she was pulled back. The palms of her hands were stuck fast to the wood. Needles of pain shot through them, and then in her terror she realized that a sweeping presence was rolling towards her, coming down the stairway. The sensation of it evoked sudden, desperate horror in her. She pulled away in panic, felt blood spurt all over her hands as she ripped the skin from them, and she fled down the walk towards the street.

She'd come in through the hedge, and she had no idea where the proper drive was. She bolted across the lawn and plunged into the high, prickly hedge that had hidden her before. As she fought through it, she made the best of her speed by getting down on her knees to wiggle through. Her skinned hands raged with pain as they contacted the hard packed earth, but she was desperate to get away.

But suddenly the same, razor like pains wrapped around her arms and legs and sank like tiny needles embedded through her short wool coat, into the flesh of her sides. A pattering of blood suddenly covered the earth beneath her. It was coming from her, raining down from her. She was stuck to the roots and branches of the hedge.

"That's my blood!" she heard herself say. The twilight had deepened in these few minutes, but suddenly a welcome voice ahead of her exclaimed, "Here's the smell! She's here! I smell her!"

There were two men's shoes suddenly visible on the other side of the hedge, and then two more shoes ran to meet them. Suddenly, two hands reached in among the branches, and a kind voice said, "We'll get you out. We got here in time!" The words seemed to be true, for the right hand slipped right along her arm and side, and it seemed to cut right through whatever was wrapping around her skin. She couldn't see anything, but the blood was real.

"Please help me!' she said.

"Got her pretty tight," the first voice, the one who had called for assistance, said.

But the second voice was confident. "We'll get her out."

She had thought that something from the hedge branches had whipped tiny razor wires around her, but then for a moment she thought that she felt the two men pulling on her one way, to pull her out to the street, and something else was pulling back on her, to drag her into the house.

She was hot and terrified and covered with a film of her own blood. "I can't breathe!" she heard herself say, and then---more slowly than she had ever seen it done in movies, she fainted as the razor threads seemed to pull on her throat. They slowly cut off her breath.

Cool, fresh night-time air woke her up. There were lights in the darkness: the lights of police cars. Two ambulance attendants were leaning over her. She was securely bundled onto a stretcher, covered in clean white blankets. All of the blood has been cleaned off of her. The two men were remarkably youthful, and their eyes were the kindest eyes she had ever seen. They were peering down at her in great concern.

They must teach them that in paramedic school, she thought. But they're so young. Neither of them was really square jawed, and their skins was so fresh that it looked like neither of them had ever yet shaved.

"You're safe now, Miss," one of them said. He had been the stronger of the two, the one who had pulled her out. Like the police inspector, he had red hair. His eyes were enormous and sensitive. A child's eyes, and yet his voice had a quiet, firm authority in it.

"I'm bleeding," she whispered.

The other one spoke. He had blond hair and a rather pale face, much more delicately boned than the other, and she realized that he could not have pulled her out himself. He was small and slender, not much bigger than she was, in fact. But his voice was steady and kind, very professional. "Oh Miss, we've cleaned you all up. We've taken care of all that. You'll be all right." He rested a long, thin hand on her forehead and stroked back her hair in an almost motherly way. "You're really quite young. That was a terrible ordeal." His eyes were filled with pain for her, and as he stroked her cheek, she did not object, nor did it seem odd for him to do so.

"You're not in pain, are you?" the stronger of the two asked. He took hold of her hand. "Can you feel me squeeze your hand like that?" His grasp was warm and comforting.

"Yes," she said. "But what about the Inspector? He was in the house."

"We're looking into that," the stronger one told her with great assurance. But a regret flicked across his youthful eyes.

"But did you find him? Is he dead?"

"Now, now, Miss. We came to look into this," he told her, while his less robust partner tried to hush her and calm her. "You have to leave it to us."

"And we saved you right away," the smaller one said, and he smiled at her. "And what a beautiful little creature you are."

"Yes, we did," his partner said. "There's nothing to be afraid of." He had been on one knee along side of her, but now he moved so that he could look down on her, her hand still tightly held in his. "You are just a child, young woman. And we got you out of there. And now you're all right."

She realized that her light silk scarf, which had been around her neck and tied at the throat, was in his free hand.

"Is that my scarf?" she asked.

He looked at it. "Yes. It smells so good."

"It smells heavenly," the smaller one said. "Like the highest places of heaven."

"You smell like heaven," the stronger one said to her. "It was one reason we could get you out. He leaned closer to her and sniffed at her bangs without touching her. "You were born here? In London?"

"Just outside of London," she said.

"You don't smell like London, Miss," the smaller one said.

"May we have the scarf?" the other asked her. "Perhaps it would be fair payment for getting you out of the hedge." And with the back of his hand that held the scarf, he stroked her cheek, and the action seemed normal for a person with such large and kind and youthful eyes. "Somebody may need this scarf. Is that all right?"

They both seemed genuinely happy to have her between them, and the lights of the police cars seemed more distant as Sarah Jane looked up at their faces. She had never seen two men more tender hearted, she thought. "Yes," she said. And then, "Are you going to take me to hospital?"

The first one glanced at the second, but the second one said smoothly, "We'll look after you, but we think you should settle down and sleep first. We'll look after your car, too. You need your car, don't you?"

"Yes, and my purse and camera."

"Yes, we've got to get them all together. We'll make sure that nothing is lost."

But she distinctly heard the smaller, slender man whisper plaintively, "What's a camera?"

The first one leaned closer. He rested his hand on her forehead, and he said gently, "Where do you live, Miss?"

Her eyes were closing. "In the flat, of course," she murmured.

This answer puzzled them, but she fell asleep, and they did not wake her to get a better reply.

When Sarah Jane opened her eyes, she was lying in the front seat of her car, with the back of it reclined as far as it would go. Her coat was tucked around her, and her purse sat on the seat next to her.

She sat up and looked around. It was morning. Everything was silent.

"Oh bother! I've gone and fallen asleep on watch!" she exclaimed. She knew that she had been following a story, but she felt too sleepy and stiff to bother with thinking about it. "Where in the world am I?" she next asked herself. Then she realized that she was in the main car park at UNIT. Very few cars were around her, though, for it was still quite early. She lifted her hand to pull the coat off of herself, and for just a moment the smooth palm of her hand caught her attention. She'd had a splinter in her hand last night, hadn't she? Probably the other hand. She couldn't remember if she'd gotten it out or not. But the other hand was also smooth when she examined it. "Must've dreamed about splinters," she murmured. She needed a coffee.

She gathered up her purse and coat and stiffly left the car. Her pass was still good. She would get something at the canteen and then go and see the Doctor.

* * * *

The Doctor was in an excellent mood, in spite of some trouble with the TARDIS. He put Sarah to work at once, handing his tools to him, while he was busy at repairs, with his head jammed under the console.

"Pulse defibrillator. Have you got it?" he asked.

Sarah handed him the pulse defibrillator. She was seated next to him on the gleaming control room floor, a pile of tools scattered around her feet.

She heard his sigh emit from the console. She could see him only from the shoulders down, of course. Broad shoulders, and the velvet jacket, black today, over the starched white shirt.

"Doctor," she said.

"Hmm? Hand me the hexagonal thing. Just a lug wrench really. But it's got an unpronounceable name: torque destabilizer. I just call it the hexagonal thingummy." His voice was slightly muffled from the confines of the console, but his tone was pleasant enough. He was slightly vexed with the TARDIS, but he was not really irritated.

She looked through the scattered pile of tools for the torque destabilizer.

The hand that reached out for it, palm up, was huge. Sarah had never seen a human male with hands as large as the Doctor's hands, not even the Olympic athletes she had interviewed. But as the hand reached towards her, it made her suddenly reach for it. She put her hand into it and grasped it.

"Oh, how do you do?" his voice said cheerily, and the big hand pumped her hand up and down.

"Should I pull you out? Are you bleeding?" she asked. "Are you stuck?"

"No!" His voice was surprised. "No, I'm fine. The hexagonal thingummy."

She let him go, hunted with her eyes, and then clapped the destabilizer into the waiting palm, and he whisked it back under the console.

"Did you have a question?" his voice asked.

Sarah had almost no memories of her own father, and that sense of a big, strong, kind person---male---who was protective and yet eager to push her forward so that she could attempt things for herself often struck bittersweet chords in her. She had struggled to become somebody in her own right---her own version of herself. Then she remembered an angry face and impatient, exasperated eyes: "Look why do you have to hound us with your urgency to make a name for yourself?" Had the Doctor said that to her?

Suddenly annoyed with herself, she pushed these thoughts away. He was not angry with her, and she could not recall him ever being angry with her. She brought herself back to the moment by asking a question: "Are you powerful? Really powerful, I mean?"

His laugh was sincere. "Am I what?" And he pushed himself out from under the console so that he could look up at her. His eyes were happy in his lined face. In spite of a few recent kinks in the TARDIS' drive system, he was relaxed and cheerful. "I'm not powerful enough to heal this old console, am I?" And with a grin, he ducked back into it. "But these days I can recall how the whole thing fits together. I'll have this fixed again in no time. Then we're off."

She glanced at the gutted console, and she looked at him, again. In some ways, he seemed so ordinary. He complained when it rained and if his tea were cold, and he often did things, she knew, just to impress her. And he was kind to her, unfailingly so.

But there was another side to him. He conversed with other creatures in the universe, for one thing. But he also had a power in his eyes and voice to subdue human will and to allay human fears. Was that just because he was very big and strong, she thought, or was it because he had unearthly powers?

His voice, now annoyed, came from the console. "Look are you going to sit there mooning all day? Or are you going to hand me the crystalline lattice analyzer?"

"The what?"

"It looks like a golf ball on a stick!"

She picked up a small white door knob with a brass handle. "Might it look like a door knob on a stick?"

"Yes." His voice was elaborately patient. "I suppose it could."

She passed it into his hand. "But are you powerful in other ways?" she asked. "I mean, I know you're not human, but do you transcend being human?"

"What?" He was tugging at something over his head in the console. And then suddenly he pushed himself out from it again. He looked up at her, and now there was a serious glint in his eye. "What do you mean by that? Do I transcend being human? I'm just a long lived creature with a time machine."

She didn't want to be trapped in useless rationalizing. "What sorts of powers do you have? How did you get them?"

He suddenly made his eyes very large and mysterious. "Mezmerism," he intoned in a sepulchral voice.

"Oh all right then!" She was suddenly exasperated. And the memory of somebody telling her she was only out to make a name for herself was niggling at her. She could not remember who had been angry with her. She needed to clear her head.

She stood and marched towards the door. "I'm going to let you work on that in peace!"

"Sarah." His voice, chastened, arrested her. When she turned, she saw that he was standing, and his eyes were kind and sober. "Do come here," he said gently. She did. She realized that she was close to tears.

His voice was kind. "Are you asking me if I'm a spiritual creature?"

She looked down. She couldn't look at his eyes. "Maybe," she said.

"Like the creature from the Fomalhaut system? Is that who you're thinking about?"

"The dark one," she gasped. "Like the opposite."

"What?" His eyes were now concerned.

She brought herself back to her annoyance, and her voice became exasperated because he had teased her. "I only wanted to know how different you are from us. And if you might be better able than I am to understand that Fomalhaut creature."

His manner became even more gentle, and she knew what was coming. With one crooked finger he lifted her chin so that she looked up at him. "Part of what you experienced in Fomalhaut may have been delirium."

"No," she said. She didn't resist him or pull away, but she lowered her eyes. "And that's why I can't tell you about all of it. Because if I do, then you'll say it had to be delirium, or hallucination, or the effect of medicine they gave me. And it wasn't."

Something had rescued her, healed her, cared for her, and communicated with her on Fomalhaut. She could recall some things perfectly, but the deepest, most meaningful things were also the parts that she was not sure had been real. And these were the parts she could not bear to have him dismiss. Whatever had saved her on Fomalhaut had dwelt in a solitary, cavernous ruin, guarded by a giant and intelligent arachnid. She remembered the caves and the arachnid very clearly, but the person who had ruled the caves was far less clear in her mind.

She lifted her eyes, her expression wary and yet vulnerable. "I don't want to argue about it with you or defend what I saw to you." It was, in fact, far too personal to argue about.

He released her chin. "Then that answers your question doesn't it?" His voice was grave but not unkind. He had been very tolerant of her inability to properly describe all that had happened to her previously. "If you look at the creatures that you met in the Fomalhaut system as being spiritual creatures in some way, then you see that I cannot comprehend them. So I suppose I am not transcendent. Or spiritual. Not in the way you're defining spiritual."

"But I couldn't comprehend them, either. Only I want to." She turned away and put her head in her hand. "I'm all in a muddle today."

He turned her back again, and this time she met his eyes as he spoke: "When we go out in the universe, Sarah Jane. If there are other creatures like those on that planet, then we'll be out in the regions where you may find them."

She nodded.

"But don't go poking about in places where humans don't belong," he cautioned her. And he tweaked her nose. He walked back to the console, and she followed him. "What is a spiritual creature anyway?" he asked her. He had the tone of quizzing her. "Do you know?" He sat down by the console and tool up a few tools.

"Not really. Do you?" She sat down by the tools as he rolled onto his back and once again slid under the console.

His voice was both muffled and ironic. "I sometimes think that humans equate being spiritual with being made of air. In which case, a balloon is more spiritual than the most spiritual of humans."

"We equate it with---" She paused, trying to hammer out these unusual thoughts. "With not being physical, I suppose."

"In which case, Jesus was not spiritual. Nor Ghandhi, for that matter. Or Buddha. Or anybody."

"All right." His objection should have been obvious. "Then I suppose it has to do with being above physical things or beyond them somehow."

"Didn't this Fomalhaut person make honey for you? That's pretty earthy and physical."

"Well, she made some sort of food for the spidery creature. And the spider thing made the honey."

His voice when it came from under the console came out with a note of caution. He was trying to point out the fallacy of what she had observed without prompting an argument. "Of course, you know that spiders don't make honey."

"They don't have only six legs, and they're not the size of a small jet, either," she added. "I didn't say it was a perfect spider. It was like a spider."

"That's done it." He gave the insides of the console a satisfied rap. Then he pushed himself out from it and looked at her. "In point of fact, Sarah Jane, I don't think there is such a thing as spiritual entities. I think that human beings made a distinction between what is easily recognizable as earthly and what is not. Whatever they could not explain, they called spiritual. Or magic. Or evil. Or god. Just depends on how they perceived those parts that they could perceive of it." He sat up.

She shook her head. She had to concede a certain validity to him, so she did. But that didn't make him right. "Maybe we are straining to see shadows. But there could really be something there, Doctor."

"All right." His voice was patient again, like a teacher leading a prized pupil. "I'm asking you to define it. What is a spiritual creature?"

She was at the end of what she could guess. "I don't know," she said. "But I met something great and powerful in those caves. I know I did. It wasn't just another life form. It was something different altogether."

He inclined his head. He could not really argue with her because he had never joined in the encounter. So he changed the subject. "Well the time differential harmonics equalizer is fixed." He stood and began to gather up his tools.

She looked up at him. "What's that mean?"

"It means that all I need to do is flip this toggle, and the old girl will be operational again." He suited his actions to his words, and with one arm full of tools, he used his free hand to flip a toggle on the console. A great spray of blue sparks and arcs shot out from the open section of the console. Sarah Jane let out a short scream of surprise. "Oh blast!" the Doctor exclaimed, and he dropped the tools back to the floor. "The whole thing's shorted out!"

* * * *

It always took the Doctor far longer to work on his projects than he ever estimated. But Sarah felt out of sorts and just a little bit sleepy. She didn't become impatient. She handed him his tools, and she sorted through his box of "pieces," as he called the assortment of jury-rigged devices that he had created in previous emergency repairs, and she wrote up some notes for him while he had his head under the console. She could not see his face, as he was busy under the console, but if she could, she would have noticed a gradual look of concern appear on his lined features as she quietly handed him what he wanted and didn't always answer back when he twitted her.

At last he slid out. "I'm all in," he said. "What about tea?"

"Tea here in the lab, tea at some lovely tea place where we can get fresh cream cakes?" she asked him. He squinted at her. At the moment, she seemed her old self.

"Tea here in the lab," he told her. "I want you all to myself. I think we need to talk."

"Oh all right. I suppose I'll have to make it, then," she said. She stood up and dusted herself off. "I'll have to wash up. Those tools of yours had smudgy stuff on them."

His eyes got big with indignation "High grade synthesized non-oxidizing Federation oil is not mere smudgy stuff!"

She made her voice saucy "Well what gets it off then, soap and water? Or will it require high grade Federation whatsit?"

He gave a short nod. "A bit of whatsit. Cleaning solvent from the 21st century. I've got some alongside the sink in the lab. I'll show you." He linked his arm in hers and was surprised, but didn't show it, when she held onto his arm very tightly and walked out with him just that way. She was usually far too independent to allow such a thing.

At the large lab sink, which was quite roomy, he opened the tap and rummaged on the shelf over the faucets. The shelf held the electric kettle and the tins of tea, sugar, powdered milk, and coffee. It also held several small containers of different cleaning and first aid agents.

"Here it is!" he exclaimed in triumph. "Federation Hygienic Solvent #2. Just the thing."

He looked down at her. She had her sleeves pushed up to her elbows, and she was looking at the palms of her hands and her bared forearms.

"Something happened to me," she said.

He put the solvent back on the shelf and turned off the tap. His voice became grave and subdued. "Do you remember what?" he asked.

Hands still raised, she looked up at him. Then she touched his velvet sleeve. "There were thread things, like wire, but very fine. It was razor sharp. All wrapped---everywhere. On me." She glanced at his sleeve, startled, as though looking for some indication of what she remembered.

"Not on my sleeve," he told her. "My jacket is velvet."

"I saw blood. There was blood on me. All over me. It was streaming down my arms. All over my hands." She lifted her hands again. "The palms of my hands were covered with blood."

A voice spoke very quietly behind them, and very soberly.

"Miss Smith," the Brigadier said.

She and the Doctor turned. "I must ask you to come with me," he told them. "There is a visitor for Miss Smith."

"Can't it wait?" the Doctor asked.

"I'm sorry. It cannot. I must insist, Doctor, but I hope you will come as well." Lethbridge Stewart shot him a look of such desperate concern that the Doctor made no further argument.

Sarah Jane lowered her hands, and the Doctor deftly pulled her sleeves down to her wrists and firmly took her right hand in his, an indication of his solidarity with her, for they both sensed that the Brigadier had come on a grim mission.

"Come on, Sarah Jane," the Time Lord said quietly. But the grip on her hand had brought something back to her.

"There were ambulance men," she told him as they followed the Brigadier. "But they never took me to a hospital."

"All right." He folded up her arm in his and patted her hand with his other hand, a gesture to say that she should be quiet.

The Brigadier led them to his large, old office with the ancient furniture.

"This is Detective Superintendent March," the Brigadier said. There were coffee cups on the tray, and the Doctor realized that a long interview with the Brigadier had already passed before UNIT's commander had come for Sarah Jane.

March was a short, stocky man dressed in a suit purchased off the rack. His tie was sloppy. He had obviously been proving his case to Lethbridge Stewart, and now he looked exasperated, aggressive, and determined to prove a point. Without preamble, he set an expensive camera onto the Brigadier's desk. The camera had a charred look about it, but it was easily recognizable, and Sarah Jane knew that there was an engraved disk on the bottom with her initials on it.

"Miss Sarah Jane Smith?" he asked. The Doctor released her hand but did not sit down.

"Yes," Sarah Jane said to him.

"Is that your camera?"


"It was discovered this morning, hung on the neck of Inspector Cole, one of our men. He was found dead in a garbage tip waiting to be moved down the Thames. What do you have to say?"

Sarah Jane was stunned into silence. At her pause, the Doctor exclaimed, "What should she have to say? Do you think this little girl overpowered a police inspector and lit him on fire? Be reasonable man!"

March's eyes and voice were level. "He did not die by fire, nor, as far as we can tell, by being directly overpowered. Where were you last night, Miss Smith?"

"I--I don't know." She groped for some memory of the previous night and realized that she had none. She said the only thing that she knew: "I fell asleep in my car."

"We have it on good authority that you tailed Inspector Cole last night, as you have done for several nights recently. What was the purpose of your rendezvous?"

"We didn't rendezvous," she told him. "Several of your blokes have been checking out a house. It's connected to three or four disappearances. I went there to see what I could find for a story."

"And what happened?" His eyes were fixed on her, penetrating.

She went blank. She scrambled to think of what to say. The truth was, she had not even noticed that she had failed to know what had happened the night before. And now, under pressure, only disjointed images were coming back to her. "I---I can't remember," she said. "There were police everywhere. I saw them."

"I'm sorry. That's a complete fabrication." His voice was abrupt and yet matter-of-fact. "Constable!" he called, and a woman constable entered the office.

"Miss Sarah Jane Smith, I am arresting you in connection with the unlawful death of Inspector James Richard Cole. I advise you to remember that anything you give in evidence may be used against you at a later date," he said.

"You can't arrest her!" the Doctor exclaimed. But the Brigadier was already reaching for his hat, ready to follow the police cars down to the lock up.

Superintendent March thrust his face up at the time lord. "I can arrest her. I have arrested her. And before you UNIT chaps get your mitts on her to tell her what to say, we'll have her in an interview room." He did not handcuff Sarah Jane, but he took her by the arm. "Come with us." He and Sarah Jane, followed by the woman constable, walked out.

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