Warpath!

By Jeff Stone

PART 1

It was an old ship. Its antiquated drive systems, its laughably primitive sensor arrays and its mottled, micro-meteorite-scarred hull told the story of a ship way past its prime. The ship's name was Magellan. It was a Tyntrocorp TK75 freighter, built for long-haul flights between Earth and nearby star-systems. It was not built for high speed chases, like the one it was involved in now, but the crew of the Magellan had no choice for, close behind them and gaining every minute, were the most evil beings in the galaxy. And aboard the Magellan was the man who could either raise these beings to demi-god status or bring them all to their knees...

The TARDIS was motionless in space and time, at a standstill. Inside the vessel its master frowned worriedly.

“You know, Peri, I think we're lost,” the Doctor declared.

Peri sighed heavily. “At last you admit it! If only you'd listened to me earlier about recalibrating the guidance systems. What ever happened to 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'?”

“Well, the system did need recalibrating. How was I to know the damn thing would go and blank its memory?” the Doctor retorted angrily.

A few anxious seconds passed. Suddenly the Doctor cried: “We shall have to ask for directions!”

Peri blinked. “Huh?”

“Yes!” The Time Lord's eyes were alight. “We find a passing ship and ask them where in the universe we are! As soon as I find out that it's a simple task of merely resetting the Galactic Map Charts in the guidance computer around this point! Yes! Brilliant!”

“I feel honoured to bask in your radiant intelligence, Doctor,” Peri said, smiling slightly. Once the old boy got an idea in his head it was impossible to budge him from it.

The Doctor crossed to the console and set to work tracking down a 'passing vessel'. After thirty-odd minutes of hopeful waiting as a ship, no, TWO ships appeared on one of the console monitors.

Peri had nodded off. She had had little sleep since their terrifying encounter with the Cybermen, and took all the naps she could. She was having a wonderful dream about being back on Earth, safe from all the horrors of the galaxy.

“SHIP AHOY!”

The Doctor's exuberant cry woke her with a start. Rather angrily she approached the console.

“A ship?” she inquired sarcastically.

Missing the sarcasm entirely, the Doctor smiled widely and pointed at the monitor.

The two blips were both moving, very fast. The 'rear' blip was catching up with the 'front' one equally rapidly.

“A convoy, no less, my dear. Let's see if we can see them on the scanner yet.” So saying, the Doctor touched the scanner control.

The main screen revealed the 'rear' ship; the other vessel had passed out of scanner range. It was a very sleek craft, obviously brand new. Painted jet black, it was only just visible, due to its running lights and vivid yellow markings.

“Nice,” Peri remarked. “A battleship?”

The Doctor shook his head. “Not large enough. A frigate or a destroyer, if it is a military vessel. Well, that'll do!”

The Time Lord began setting the controls for a micro-jump. Crossing her fingers, Peri hoped that the TARDIS didn't hiccup this time-they could be stuck here for ages if the ship didn't perform perfectly just this once!

As it happened, luck was on the time-travellers' side this time. The TARDIS materialised on board the sleek ship-inside a storeroom of all places.

Peri emerged from the Police Box first. She looked around at the many stacks of metal crates and piles of spare parts that filled the room almost entirely.

“A perfect landing!” the Doctor remarked. He patted the TARDIS lovingly. “Even with no guidance computer it performs perfectly!” Luck, Peri thought, sheer fluke, but she decided instead to smile and say: “Brilliant work, Doc!” The Doctor frowned at the use of the diminutive and touched the round sensor plate of the door. The door, not surprisingly slid open.

“After you, Peri!” the Doctor said dryly.

The corridor was empty and the two friends passed along it without meeting a soul.

“You know, I'm sure I've seen this model of ship somewhere before. It was on a display at the Zelphan IV museum of technology,” the Doctor mused, “I must take you there someday.” Peri yawned from tiredness.

“Really, Peri! If I'm boring you, just say!”

“No, Doctor, it's not that at-”

At that moment the Doctor hit his forehead with his palm. “Oh, Rassilon! I knew I'd seen this type of ship before! C'mon, Peri! we've got to leave now!” So saying, the Doctor turned tail and fled back the way they had come, coloured coat flapping about him. Peri gaped, unable to take it all in. She turned to follow her friend back to the TARDIS.

Just then a nightmarish creature rounded the corner of the passage to face her.

It was a Dalek!

“INTRUDER A-LERT!” it bleated. “IN-TRUDERS MUST BE DESTROYED! EXTERMINATE!! EXTERMINATE!!”

On to part 2

This item appeared in TSV Special #1 (December 1990).

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