5: An Old Enemy

The Dalek advanced cautiously through the warehouse, its sensors analysing the combat zone and feeding the data through to its battle computer. The barrage of small projectiles on its casing was given particular attention; moments later the warrior received a report on the probability of damage under sustained fire. The targets had to be eliminated. The warrior shunted power to its weapon arm and spat death.

One of Archer's men screamed and collapsed in a blinding pulse of intense white light accompanied by a shrill screech from the blaster bolt.

Professor Laird looked on in fascinated horror from behind a packing crate. ‘Where has it come from?’ she wanted to know.

Stien and Tegan were crouched next to her. ‘The time corridor,’ answered Stien with certain conviction.

Tegan stared at him, momentarily glimpsing something else more self-assured and possibly dangerous behind the stranger's cowardly exterior. ‘From the ship you were on?’

Stien shuddered, the facade of fear returning to his features. ‘Must be,’ he stammered defensively.

Fragments from a concrete pillar whistled close overhead, and the trio ducked closer to the floor.

‘What does it want?’ Laird asked of no one in particular.

‘I hope we never find out,’ replied Tegan frankly, and for the umpteenth time in her life prayed that the Doctor would do something to rescue them. She peeked out from behind the crate, hoping to catch sight of the Time Lord.

The Doctor had joined Colonel Archer behind an uncomfortably narrow concrete pillar when the firing had started. Now he ventured out to get a good look at his adversary.

The Dalek and the Time Lord saw each other at precisely the same moment. The warrior scanned the humanoid and recognised the characteristic body-print of a Gallifreyan. A message was immediately broadcast on a priority one signal to the central command net on the Dalek ship.

Ka Faraq Gatri sighted: confirmation required.

The Doctor ducked back under cover as a blaster bolt screamed past his ear. It was time for action. ‘Aim for the eyepiece!’ he shouted above the noise of the gunfire. ‘The stalk at the top of the dome.’

Sergeant Calder signalled his understanding from the cover of a neighbouring pillar, and raised the aim of his machine pistol. A volley of bullets raked across the Dalek's head, and its entire eyestalk assembly shattered under the intense impact.

The Dalek immediately ceased firing and began to weave randomly in small circles. ‘My vision is impaired! I cannot see!’ it wailed in apparent distress, over and over again.

Breaking suddenly from cover, the Doctor sprinted towards the Dalek. Taking care to avoid the wildly flailing weapon and sucker appendages, he grabbed hold of the creature and called back to the others. ‘Quickly, hold it down!’

Everyone rushed forward and surrounded the Dalek, grabbing hold of its casing as the Doctor had done.

Within its life support chamber, the Dalek mutant thrashed about as it sensed the alien creatures moving in, touching its shell. The battle computer analysed the available options and suggested self-termination. The explosion would destroy the humanoids as well.

Almost immediately the proposal was overrode by a command signal from the Dalek Supreme, bringing positive confirmation of the enemy's identity as Ka Faraq Gatri - the bringer of darkness. Do not destroy, the Supreme instructed. Survival at all costs. The battle computer compensated and implemented another strategy. Power reserves were shunted to the life support chamber shielding and non-essential systems were rapidly disengaged... For a moment the Dalek remained still, and the group began to relax their grip on its casing. Immediately, the Dalek jerked violently, throwing most of the clinging bodies away from it. A short burst of blaster fire spurted from the gunstick, deliberately aimed far too low. A sizeable chunk of floor disintegrated into small fragments flying in all directions.

Tegan cried out as a piece of debris glanced off her right temple at high speed. She collapsed, and Laird rushed to her aid.

The Doctor glanced in her direction, momentarily torn between his concern for Tegan and the urgent need to immobilise the Dalek. Under the Doctor's direction, the group soldiers regained their grip on the creature and heaved it slowly towards a pair of loading dock doors.

‘Warning, warning!’ shrieked the distressed Dalek. ‘I cannot see! Emergency!’

‘Open the doors!’ instructed the Doctor, and Calder rushed ahead to comply. A quick burst of gunfire at close range took care of the heavy padlock, and the burly Sergeant easily shouldered the heavy wooden doors open. He teetered on the edge of the precipice, then returned to lend his weight to shifting the Dalek towards the opening.

With one final effort, the Doctor, Stien, Archer and Calder sent the creature hurtling through the loading dock entrance.

In the fraction of a second that it took for the Dalek to cover the distance between the first floor of the warehouse and the street below, the warrior sealed its environment chamber. Its one driving ambition was to survive and destroy the humans. Then its world blossomed into flame.

While the others looked down jubilantly on the pyre in the street, the Doctor rushed to Tegan's side and checked her vital signs.

‘She's all right,’ Laird assured him. He looked up and she caught sight of a bleak look in his eyes; a look that spoke of having seen too much suffering and death.

Laird tore her eyes away from his. ‘We should get her downstairs.’

The Doctor nodded, his features altering to a grateful smile. He leapt up and went over to the soldiers who were still looking down at the smouldering remains of their recent adversary. ‘While you're doing that...’ he said to Laird, and then turned his attention to the victorious group, ‘I'd like a hand with the debris outside.’ The soldiers heaved the doors shut and then followed the Doctor down the stairs, leaving Laird to tend to Tegan.

The Systems Coordinator Dalek glided forward. ‘The Dalek sent to the warehouse has been destroyed.’

The Supreme Dalek swung round suddenly from its position at the main scanner screen. ‘How is that possible?’ it demanded.

The Coordinator called up the Dalek's transmission signals up to the point of its destruction. In a moment the answer was available. ‘The Doctor was aided by the Earth soldiers,’ it reported.

The Supreme's organic body, lodged deep within its polycarbide casing, quivered with rage at the latest triumph of their ancestral enemy. The tactical computer cut in over boiling emotions with the prognosis that the Ka Faraq Gatri stood a good chance of endangering their main objectives. The Supreme Dalek accepted the logic of this conclusion instantly.

‘Seal the warehouse terminal of the time corridor,’ he instructed the Coordinator.

The Supreme turned back to the scanner screen. The hatred for the Bringer of Darkness burned deeply within the part of the Dalek ruler that was still more flesh than machine. The Supreme recalled the humiliation of defeat on Spiridon, and its weapon arm twitched as it recalled how close the Supreme had come to personally despatching the hated enemy on that occasion. This time, events would take a different course. ‘We will kill the Doctor in due course,’ it stated.

Stien gingerly brushed a layer of fine soil off the surface of one of the alien objects.

They were cylinders, about half a metre long, with six thick ridge protrusions running along their length and tapering at the ends. The cylinders were made of a metal with a strangely bluish sheen that Stien found disconcertingly familiar. His head started to throb, so he moved away to join Sergeant Calder, who was absorbed in brewing a pot of tea on a portable gas stove.

‘Soon be ready,’ Calder assured Laird, who was making Tegan comfortable on an army kit bed. She had treated and bandaged Tegan's forehead, and had covered the sleeping young woman with a blanket.

‘We could all do with something a bit stronger,’ Laird replied. ‘How's your friend upstairs?’

‘He's dead,’ Calder replied grimly.

At this moment, the Doctor burst in, followed by Archer. The Time Lord immediately went over and crouched beside Tegan's bed. ‘How is she?’ he asked Laird quietly, his hands gently yet very skilfully probing his companion's head.

‘She's sleeping naturally,’ Laird assured him, but could see by his examination that there was nothing she could tell him about Tegan's condition that he probably hadn't already figured out for himself; not to mention a lot that she didn't know herself. Laird felt a sudden compulsion to find out more about this strange young man.

‘Tea, sir?’ Calder inquired of his commanding officer.

‘Thank you,’ replied Archer gratefully.

The Doctor stood up, satisfied at last that Tegan was in no danger from her wound, and looked down thoughtfully at the alien objects nestled in the soil. ‘Who discovered these cylinders?’ he inquired.

Archer accepted an enamel mug of steaming hot army tea from Calder and joined the Doctor. ‘Builders converting the warehouses into flats,’ he replied.

‘Thought they were unexploded bombs,’ added the Sergeant helpfully.

‘Have you tried to open one?’ the Doctor wanted to know.

This was Professor Laird's area of expertise. ‘Haven't even scratched the casings,’ she informed him.

Archer stared at the Doctor. ‘You think these... Daleks have something to do with this?’

The Time Lord considered this for a moment, and concluded, ‘It would be an enormous coincidence if they didn't.’

The Time Lord's response appeared to decide matters for Archer. ‘Try the radio again,’ he instructed Calder.

‘Yes sir.’ The sergeant positioned himself in front of the radio set and attempted to call his headquarters.

Archer discreetly drew the Doctor to one side, out of earshot of the others. ‘What exactly are we facing here, Doctor?’ he asked quietly.

The Doctor took a deep breath. ‘Based on my past encounters with the Daleks, I'd say they're planning an invasion attempt using this warehouse as their point of arrival.’

The colour visibly drained from Archer's face as the implication of the Doctor's words sunk in. ‘How long have we got, in your opinion?’

The Time Lord shrugged apologetically. ‘It's impossible to say without more to go on.’

Above them, on the first floor of the warehouse, Private Mellor sat on a tea chest guarding the remains of the Dalek which had been stacked against a wall. He stubbed out the butt of his cigarette and got up to stretch his legs.

After a few moments of pacing up and down, he returned to the crate, failing to notice as something stirred ever so slightly under a large fragment of Dalek casing...

‘Zero Three to HQ... Zero Three to HQ...’ Calder's attempts to contact headquarters were meeting with a wall of static.

‘Keep trying,’ encouraged Archer.

The Doctor had returned to Tegan's side. ‘You must get reinforcements,’ he insisted.

‘Zero Three to HQ,’ Calder tried again, and was answered with the same noisy crackle.

‘I'll have to find a telephone,’ Archer concluded.

‘I'll go,’ Laird volunteered. ‘You're needed here.’

Archer shook his head. ‘This is more than a military matter now. I'll have to speak to the Ministry of Defence. We'll need a massive troop involvement.’ He picked up his cap and made to leave as Calder once again tried to make contact.

The Doctor followed Archer from the camp. ‘I'll come with you,’ the Time Lord suggested.

Archer shook his head. ‘You're the only one who knows about fighting Daleks.’ He donned his cap and then undid his gun belt and passed his holstered service revolver to the Doctor. ‘Your duty's here.’

Archer turned and walked away towards the warehouse exit, leaving the Doctor holding his gun. The Time Lord turned the weapon over carefully in his hands, an expression of distaste on his features, and then went back into the camp.

Private Mellor pulled out another cigarette and was about to light it when he heard the scrape of a piece of metal shifting. He looked down at the floor and his eyes widened, the cigarette dropping from his hands as he saw what was advancing towards him...

When the Doctor returned to the camp, gingerly holding Archer's holstered revolver between thumb and forefinger, Tegan was awake and sitting up.

‘Here, take these,’ urged Laird, handing her a mug of water and some aspirin. ‘It'll help your head.’ Tegan accepted them gratefully.

The Doctor appeared to reach a decision. ‘I won't be long,’ he said abruptly, handing Archer's gun to Calder. ‘I must get back to my ship.’

Stien had been sitting quietly in one corner for some minutes. Now he looked up suddenly at the Doctor's words.

‘Sir?’ asked Calder uncertainly.

‘I must find Turlough,’ the Doctor elaborated quickly, turning to leave.

‘I understand how you feel, sir,’ said Calder patiently, ‘but I must ask you to wait until the Colonel returns.’

‘No, no. There isn't time. Turlough's on board the Dalek ship.’

At this, Stien leapt to his feet, as if stung.

Calder moved to block the Doctor's exit. ‘I'm sure the Colonel won't be long,’ he said reasonably.

‘Let him go,’ insisted a voice behind Calder.

The Sergeant turned to Stien and shrugged helplessly. ‘I can't.’

Any further debate was interrupted by an horrendous scream. It had come from the level above them.

The Doctor was the first to react. Before the scream had even died away, he had snatched Archer's gun from Calder's unresisting grip and was out of the camp, making for the stairs.

Stien hurried out, followed by Calder, who grabbed his rifle as he left.

By the time they caught up with the Time Lord he was kneeling beside the semi-conscious form of Private Mellor, examining an angry red weal on the side of the man's neck.

‘He's alive,’ the Doctor told them. He stood, taking the gun out of its holster and slipping off the safety catch. ‘All right,’ he said at length. ‘Be careful.’

‘I was terrified it was a Dalek,’ Stien confessed, stuttering through evident fear.

‘It was,’ replied the Doctor. ‘Well, at least the remains of one.’

Calder crouched beside Mellor and helped him to sit up. ‘He's still alive,’ he assured the Doctor and Stien helpfully, feeling a little out of his depth. He wished the Colonel would return and sort things out.

‘We'll have to find it,’ the Doctor said grimly, ‘before it tries to kill again.’ He picked up a straight length of metal tubing and began using it to carefully move aside rubbish and packing materials in search of the Kaled mutant - the organic part of a Dalek. Archer's revolver was held at the ready in his other hand...

‘This is a waste of time,’ stated Stien, who was nonetheless lifting aside a packing crate with extreme care and trepidation. ‘The mutant could have escaped using the time corridor.’

The Doctor fixed him with a hard stare. ‘True,’ he agreed. ‘So why are you being so cautious in your search?’

‘Well we don't know for certain,’ Stien muttered.

‘Precisely!’ replied the Doctor. ‘That's why we're searching the warehouse.’

Calder came across to join them. ‘What does it look like?’ he inquired curiously.

‘Oh, you won't mistake it,’ the Time Lord assured him dryly. He recalled his own close encounter with the Kaled mutant killer instinct, long ago in the Dalek incubation chambers on Skaro. ‘The moment you find it, it will try to kill you.’

Calder swallowed, and nervously figured his own throat.

The Doctor turned away to resume the search.

Unnoticed by any of them, something stirred beneath a canvas sheet...

Colonel Archer had located a telephone box relatively easily, situated just one block away from the warehouse. He strode up to the welcoming red box and once inside, immediately picked up the receiver and dialled for the operator.

It was only when he lifted the receiver to his ear a moment later that he realised the line was dead.

Archer jiggled the cradle a couple of times, and then spied the source of the fault; the cord from the telephone to the receiver had been sliced clean through. With a groan of frustration, he replaced the useless receiver on the cradle and stepped back out into the road. Two policemen stood side by side, observing impassively him from a short distance down the street.

Archer smiled with relief as he noticed that they each had a radio clipped to their lapel. He hurried up to them.

‘Gentlemen, you've saved my life,’ he beamed. ‘I'm Colonel Archer, Bomb Disposal Squad.’ He flashed his identification card, and was a little perturbed to notice that neither officer even looked at it.

‘I need to make an urgent call,’ he continued after a pause. ‘May I use your radio?’

To Archer's puzzlement, the policemen didn't react. It was as if he had been talking to a pair of waxwork dummies. They continued to stand rigidly at attention, their hands clasped behind their backs.

‘Please?’

One of the officers finally reacted. Slowly and painstakingly he unclipped his radio with one hand and passed it to Archer.

‘Thank you,’ the Colonel replied gratefully. He held the radio to his ear, and grew even more puzzled to find it silent. ‘It's dead,’ he informed them, handing it back. As he did so, it occurred to him that the device was too light-weight to have any innards.

The policeman who had lent it to him did not make any move to take it back. Archer turned to his partner and his eyes widened in complete surprise as this policeman brought his hands out from behind his back; he was holding a large hand gun, fitted with a silencer on the barrel. His expression blank, the policeman pointed the muzzle at Archer's head.

Colonel David Archer's last thought was that he was about to die.

‘It isn't here,’ said Stien pessimistically. ‘We haven't found the entrance to the time corridor either.’

The Doctor paused in his search. ‘Temporarily disconnected, I would think,’ he replied, and glanced up at the rafters as if expecting to find the creature lurking there.

Nearby, the canvas sheet moved again, and this time Sergeant Calder was looking in the right direction. ‘Doctor!’ he called urgently, and pointed with his gun.

The Doctor and Stien hurried over to join him. ‘What is it?’ Stien inquired nervously.

The Doctor gestured to him to stay back. ‘Ah, nothing,’ he lied. ‘Go on with the search.’

Stien wasn't convinced, and watched from a safe distance as the Doctor reached out with his length of pipe and gently lifted one edge of the canvas, his revolver at the ready...

Beneath it was a small tabby kitten, the same one that Tegan had spotted in the warehouse earlier. It meowed at them.

‘So much for the conqueror of the universe,’ laughed Calder.

‘I told you it had gone,’ added Stien reproachfully, but the Doctor wasn't listening. He had noticed that the kitten's fur had started to bristle. As he watched, its eyes widened and it began to hiss and spit.

The Time Lord had begun to react even before they heard the cry from Private Mellor. The soldier had been resting on a crate while they searched, and was now tugging at his throat, his face contorted in sheer agony.

The Doctor grabbed the canvas sheet and dashed over to the stricken Private, throwing a corner of the canvas over the blobby greenish-brown creature at Mellor's neck. He wrenched it away and hurled the sheet in which it was wrapped to the floor.

By the time the others could react, the Doctor was already firing Archer's revolver repeatedly into the writhing lump. Calder opened fire on it with his rifle for good measure.

When the Doctor's weapon was empty and the air was thick with the smell of cordite, they ceased.

For a moment, there was a breathless silence, and then Stien spoke. ‘Is it dead?’ he gulped fearfully.

‘Would you care to take a look?’ the Doctor invited, indicating the bullet-ridden lump of shredded canvas.

Calder went over to attend to Mellor. ‘How is he?’ the Time Lord inquired, joining them.

‘It's more shock than physical,’ the Sergeant reported, and then spoke to Mellor, whose whole body was shivering. ‘Come on lad,’ Calder said kindly, ‘let's get you downstairs.’ He pulled the man to his feet and supported one of Mellor's arms around his shoulders.

Alerted by the recent sounds of gunfire, Professor Laird came rushing in. ‘What happened?’ she demanded to know.

‘The Dalek wasn't quite dead, I'm afraid,’ replied the Doctor, and handed her his gun, clearly glad to be rid of the weapon.

‘Give us a hand, will you?’ requested Calder, as he helped the semi-conscious Private Mellor towards the stairs.

‘Of course,’ said Laird, and went over to support Mellor's other arm. Together, they helped him out of the room.

The Doctor looked down at the remains of the Dalek once more and then turned to Stien. ‘We must get back to the TARDIS,’ he said decisively. ‘I have to find the Dalek Ship.’

‘I'm not going back there,’ Stien stated adamantly. ‘They'll kill me.’

‘I need your help,’ the Doctor insisted.

‘Help?’ echoed Stien sarcastically, attempting to avoid the Doctor's steely gaze. ‘You don't know how much of a coward I am,’ he stuttered.

‘Well you can take this opportunity to show me!’ retorted the Time Lord angrily, going to the door. ‘Come along!’

The Doctor emerged from the warehouse and strode purposefully along the street and then up the alleyway to where the TARDIS awaited him on the dock front. Stien hurried along behind, struggling to keep up with the Time Lord's long strides. As they disappeared into the gloom of the tunnel-like alley, two policemen walked across the street and watched them leave.

Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Epilogue