Chapter 9

Skagra's Plan

‘Bristol?’ called the Doctor in a low voice, his eyes never straying from the marauding Krarg.

‘Yes?’ replied Chris nervously.

‘You still feeling marvellous?’


‘Right. Give me ten seconds.’ The Doctor edged away from the wall of the Think Tank chamber, trying to keep as much distance between himself and the Krarg.

For a moment, Chris wondered what he should do, and then summoned up all his courage and bunched his hands into fists. Adopting a boxing stance, he began advancing towards the Krarg. ‘Well come on then!’ he taunted the creature. ‘Well come on then!’ The Krarg ignored him, and instead lurched across the room - straight into one of the consoles. The equipment crackled under the heat and the impact, and then began to burst into flame.

‘Doctor, it's going to blow up!’ yelled Chris. He could hardly see the Doctor through the red mist, now obscuring most of the room. ‘Come on, Doctor, come on!’

The Krarg advanced on the Time Lord, who had positioned himself in front of the elderly scientists, holding his arms out protectively. The Krarg roared, and swung its arms, forcing the Doctor to dive out of the way. The Doctor watched helplessly as the creature lumbered forward, cutting down the unresisting men with a couple of sweeps of its burning arms.

The Doctor looked away from the massacre, and felt a tugging on his scarf. The air was thick with smoke as well as the red mist. The walls were now aflame. He took one last look at the rampaging Krarg and the charred bodies of some of the most brilliant men in the Universe, and then allowed himself to be pulled out into the corridor by Chris.

Coughing and choking on the acrid fumes, the pair stumbled down the passage after K9. They caught up with the robot dog at the shuttle bay door. To their increased alarm, the very fabric of the space station was starting to crackle and spark.

The Doctor pressed the button to open the door, but it remained firmly shut. Clearly the lock mechanism had already been affected. ‘It's jammed!’ yelled the Doctor through the smoke.

‘What!’ Chris was horrified.

The Doctor dug in his pockets and hastily applied his sonic screwdriver to the door lock.

The Krarg came into view down the passage, and began moving towards them through the smoke and flame. The door slid open, and the trio rushed through. The door slid shut in the Krarg's face.

Alone in the corridor, the creature began battering against the door and walls, setting them alight.

Alarms were sounding on the ship's bridge as the Doctor, Chris and K9 arrived. ‘Emergency, emergency,’ announced the ship. ‘Imminent explosion in our vicinity. Emergency escape procedures will be followed.’

‘Well just stop nattering and get on with it,’ the Doctor suggested, as calmly as possible.

The ship lurched violently as the ship's engines fired at full thrust. The Doctor and Chris were thrown to the floor.

‘Not that way!’ shouted the Time Lord. ‘I told you how to do it! Dematerialise!’

The ship lifted off from the space station and vanished, accompanied by the sound of a dematerialising TARDIS. Moments later, the space station was consumed in an enormous explosion, instantly vaporising the entire structure.

‘Good. You're learning,’ the Doctor observed, relieved. ‘Which is more than we're doing,’ he added ruefully.

‘What do you mean?’ Chris asked as he sank on to a couch. He was grateful that the alarms were no longer sounding, as he didn't feel nearly so wonderful anymore.

‘We're still no nearer to finding Skagra,’ explained the Doctor, sitting down opposite him.

‘What do you think we should do?’

‘I don't know,’ the Doctor confessed, running his hands through his hair in desperation.

‘Well, try looking on the bright side,’ suggested Chris encouragingly.

‘I have - there's nothing there. Now listen to me, ship!’

‘I hear you,’ replied the ship.

‘Good. Now I'm going to ask you once again. Where is your Lord Skagra?’

‘He did not reveal his destination to me.’

‘But you must have some idea,’ the Doctor persisted.

‘I am a computer. I do not have ideas. I obey instructions.’

‘So you've no idea where he's gone?’

‘I do not,’ confirmed the ship.

‘Doesn't the wretched man have a home to go to?’ exclaimed the Doctor in frustration.

‘Yes,’ said the ship.

The Doctor paused. ‘He has?’

‘Yes,’ repeated the ship.

‘Then why didn't you tell me?’

‘You didn't ask.’

‘But... Will you please take us there?’ asked the Doctor.

‘Doctor,’ confessed the ship, ‘much of my circuitry feels uneasy about continuing to accept instructions from a dead man.’

‘Well just tell it not to worry,’ advised the Doctor. ‘I'm sure your Lord Skagra will be very anxious to pay his last respects to me.’

‘Instructions accepted.’

The Doctor beamed at Chris. ‘I do hate computers,’ he grinned. ‘They're so literal-minded. Aren't they, K9?’

The robot dog lifted his head. ‘Master?’

Clare Keightley looked up from working on a small, very complicated-looking piece of circuitry with a screwdriver. She had let her hair down, and was wearing glasses.

‘Look, I don't even know what I'm meant to be doing,’ she confessed.

‘Somehow we have to get this old perambulator moving again,’ explained Professor Chronotis, looking over the rims of his glasses at Clare. The Professor was now dressed in his usual clothes and was also working on a piece of circuitry.

‘Well, it certainly moved when I touched it,’ Clare pointed out.

‘A spasm. A mere spasm,’ insisted the Professor. ‘I just hope it wasn't a dying spasm, because it has left us jammed between two irrational time interfaces. Time is moving away from us. Trouble is, if we do manage to disentangle ourselves I'll have to be very careful - otherwise I may cease to exist again.’

‘I don't understand,’ replied Clare.

‘Do what I do,’ advised the old Professor.

‘What's that?’

‘Forget all about it.’

Clare smiled. ‘Oh, Professor, that's easier said than done.’

The Professor was deep in thought. ‘That man must not get to Shada!’ he muttered. ‘He must not find Salyavin!’

‘Who is this Salyavin person?’ inquired Clare.

‘Salyavin?’ repeated Chronotis suddenly. ‘He is... was a criminal of sorts. Yes, he was a criminal. But the stories of his exploits have been wildly exaggerated. He was just a hot-headed brilliant young man with a rather peculiar talent.’ He put down the piece of circuitry he had been working on, and stood up with a sigh. ‘I can't fix this.’

‘Well, can I help?’ Clare asked.

The Professor shook his head. ‘Difficult, very difficult. To repair an interfacial resonator requires two operations, which must be performed absolutely simultaneously. And to be honest, my dear, I don't think you have the talent. It is a highly specialised and, well...’

‘So we're stuck?’ Clare concluded.

The Professor nodded unhappily. ‘Yes.’ He walked off towards the kitchen.

‘Well I can learn,’ she called after him. ‘I'm very quick.’ She went over to the console and studied it for a few moments, before realising that the Professor had returned, and was watching her. ‘Well? What's the matter?’ she asked.

‘Listen to me, listen to me very carefully,’ said the Professor in low, sombre tones. ‘What I am about to do you are never to speak of, and this is the only time I will ever do it... though I swore to myself I would never...’

‘What are you talking about?’ asked Clare, now thoroughly confused.

‘Do I have your promise?’

‘But what are you going to do?’

‘Do I have your promise?’ repeated the Professor, more forcibly now.

‘Yes, yes, all right,’ agreed Clare.

‘Then prepare yourself.’

‘What for?’

‘What is that piece of equipment you have in your hand?’ asked the Professor, pointing to the circuitry that she had been working on earlier.

‘I have absolutely no idea,’ Clare admitted.

‘Good.’ The Professor sunk his face into his hands, and then after a moment of concentration, looked back up at her, with a strange fierce light glowing in his eyes.

Terrified, Clare took a step backwards. ‘What... What are you doing to me?’ Their eyes locked on each other for a moment, then she blinked and when she looked again at the Professor's eyes they had returned to normal.

‘Now,’ said the Professor, as if nothing had happened. ‘What is that piece of equipment?’

Clare glanced at it. ‘This? It's a conceptual geometer relay, with an agronomic trigger, a totally defunct field separator - but it doesn't matter. We can dispense with it if we can get that interfacial resonator working again.’

‘Splendid!’ exclaimed the Professor delightedly.

Clare put her arm around the Professor's shoulders in a gesture of comradeship. ‘Well let's do that then, shall we?’

They moved to the console together, but just as they were about to begin work, Clare hesitated. ‘But how did that happen?’ she asked suddenly.

‘Never speak of it,’ the Professor advised. ‘I don't want to force you to forget.’


‘Come on,’ said Chronotis. ‘There is much work to be done.’

The ship rematerialised with a groaning sound alongside the dwarfing bulk of the command craft, and moved in to dock with the much larger craft.

On the command deck, the Krarg Commander finished supervising the final stages of creation of another Krarg. As the newly formed Krarg heaved itself out of the vat, the Commander went over to report to Skagra. There were now several Krargs on the command deck, some of which were guarding Romana in a corner.

‘Well?’ said Skagra, as the Krarg Commander approached.

‘We have a full complement, my Lord.’

‘Good. Then let us go,’ Skagra ordered.

Romana was watching this exchange from her corner when a finger tapped her on the shoulder. She looked round, and to her considerable amazement, saw the Doctor standing beside her. ‘Doctor!’ she said in a startled whisper.

‘Shhh!’ he replied.

‘How did you get here?’ she wanted to know.

‘These kind people brought me,’ he explained, indicating a group of Krargs behind him. These Krargs were also guarding Chris and K9.

Skagra suddenly spotted the new arrivals. ‘Doctor!’ he called.

‘Ah, hello there,’ replied the Doctor, with a cheery wave.

Skagra strode across to meet the Time Lord. ‘I am... a little surprised to find you here,’ he admitted.

‘Your ship was a little surprised to find itself bringing me,’ the Doctor replied.

‘You stole my ship?’ Skagra was incredulous.

‘Only after you stole mine,’ the Doctor reminded him. His eyes rested on the TARDIS, and he began moving towards it. ‘Ah, there she is. I hope you've been looking after her. May I check? If you've been over-revving her in third phase...’

A couple of Krargs stepped in front of the Doctor, barring him access to his TARDIS.

‘I am curious to know how you survived the treatment of my sphere,’ said Skagra.

The Doctor turned to face him. ‘It only looks for what it expects to find. I made it look for the wrong things. We Time Lords have highly trained minds.’

Skagra smiled. ‘So I am aware, Doctor. If you have come here in the hope of interfering with my great purpose, I am afraid you will be -’

‘Great purpose!’ snorted the Doctor mockingly. ‘Ha!’

Skagra was unmoved by the Doctor's mockery. ‘Yes Doctor, the very greatest purpose.’

‘I know what you want to do, you old slyboots. You want to take over the Universe, don't you? I've met your sort before. Any moment now a mad gleam will come into your eye and you'll start shouting: “The Universe shall be mine!”’

‘How naive, Doctor,’ Skagra observed quietly. ‘How pathetically limited your vision is.’

‘Limited?’ questioned the Doctor.

‘“Take over the Universe”,’ Skagra quoted scornfully. ‘How childish. Who could possibly want to take over the Universe?’

‘Exactly!’ agreed the Doctor. ‘That's what I keep on trying to tell people. It's a troublesome place, difficult to administer, and as a piece of real estate it's virtually worthless because by definition there'd be no one to sell it to.’

‘Such visions are for infants,’ Skagra continued. ‘My purpose is to fulfill the natural evolutionary goal of all life.’

‘Oh yes?’

‘With the aid of this sphere I shall make the whole of creation merge into one single mind, one god-like entity.’

‘You will?’

‘The Universe, Doctor, shall not, as you so crudely put it, be mine. The Universe shall be me!’

‘Have you discussed this with anyone?’ the Doctor inquired. ‘Why don't you send one of your Krargs to make some tea? We can sit down and -’

‘Doctor, your insane witterings do not interest me,’ replied Skagra contemptuously. ‘This will happen. It will start within hours. Once started, nothing you or anyone can do will stop it.’ Skagra turned to his Krargs. ‘Take them away, lock them up, melt down the key,’ he ordered.

The Krargs moved in on the Doctor and Chris. The Doctor attempted to make a dash for the TARDIS. ‘Run!’ the Time Lord shouted, but the Krargs managed to block his passage.

‘Then kill them!’ ordered Skagra.

The Krargs produced large energy weapons.

Romana tried to run towards the Doctor, but she was grabbed and held by her Krarg guards. She watched helplessly as the Doctor, Chris and K9 rushed off the command deck through a doorway. Several Krargs made off in pursuit.

‘They will be caught and destroyed,’ Skagra stated, unconcerned.

The Krarg Commander brought the struggling Romana forward. ‘What do you want done with this one, my Lord?’

Skagra considered briefly. ‘She will come with us to Shada. Enough time has been taken. We will leave now.’ He went over to the TARDIS and opened the door. ‘Come,’ he ordered.

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Author's Notes for this chapter