Invasion of the Cybermen

By Phillip J Gray

The Doctor's behaviour was getting decidedly eccentric, thought Romana. Then again, perhaps no more than usual. He had been in one of the myriad of corridors that led from the TARDIS control room, and she had been quietly following him, wandering through the various rooms in the dimensionally transcendental craft. She opened a door and there he was, immersed in some long-forgotten book, deep in a trance of fascination. He glanced up.

‘Look, Romana!’ he exclaimed excitedly. ‘My 500 year diary. I wondered where it had got to. I haven't used this since... I can't remember when. Sarah Jane used to help me keep it up to date, but since she left, well.. .’ The Doctor's voice trailed away, still remembering the pretty young journalist who had accompanied him for so many adventures before he had to return her to Earth upon receiving the Presidential summons to Gallifrey.

‘I wonder what she's doing now?’ he said thoughtfully.

‘I'm sure she's happy,’ said Romana, who could feel the wistfulness in his voice, and felt sympathetic. The mention of their home planet Gallifrey brought a slight longing to her as well. Sometimes she longed for the Bureau of Ancient Records where she had worked before she met the Doctor.

A deep gong sounded, interrupting their respective reveries. They both headed for the console room; the noise signalled that they had arrived at their next destination.

‘Well, Doctor?’ asked Romana expectantly. ‘Where have we landed this time?’

The Doctor was busy examining the central console when a small mobile computer in the shape of a dog glided in through the door. ‘Ah, K9,’ said the Doctor, ‘What do you make of this, old chap?’

‘Suggestion: temporal and geographical anomaly, Master,’ the dog ventured.

He means we're lost again, thought Romana, and made a mental note to read the TARDIS manual herself and make a few repairs.

‘Well let's see where we are this time, shall we?’ said the Doctor cheerfully, operating the scanner. The picture he revealed was that of a row of suburban houses in a city. ‘It's London!’ the Doctor exclaimed.

‘London: capital city of Great Britain, Earth, until the Dalek invasion of 2157 and the...’

‘Yes, yes, all right, K9,’ replied the Doctor. ‘I am perfectly aware of where London is, thank you. The question is, where in London? Romana, do you think you could find an old map of mine, it should be in one of the lockers... ?’ he asked.

Sighing, Romana went over to one of the lockers and began to rummage through the multitudinous contents. Her fingers closed around a map and she brought it forth. ‘Here we are, Doctor,’ she volunteered, and unfolded it out onto the console.

The Doctor traced a route on the map with his finger, muttering to himself, and then suddenly grabbed the door lever and opened the double entrance doors. ‘Come on,’ he cried, ‘We're going to visit an old friend.’

In a small flat in Hillview Road, South Croydon, Sarah Jane Smith was sitting at her typewriter in desperation, hoping for a magical line to formulate in her mind and getting more frustrated when she couldn't think of anything. Her mind kept wandering back to her days when she was the companion of the mysterious Doctor, and was involved with all the adventures at UNIT, and the times she had been whisked away to alien planets. A part of her still longed for this far-away and half-remembered life; but then her sensible side would reassert itself, and remind her of the constant dangers involved. Oh well, she thought, the Doctor couldn't get her out of the TARDIS fast enough when he was summoned back to Gallifrey...

Romana and K9 tagged along after the Doctor as he wound his way around the narrow streets, until he came to a stop. ‘What is it, Doctor?’ asked Romana.

‘I don't know,’ he answered thoughtfully. ‘Ah.. .here we are. Hillview Road.’

‘Now, I hope you're home when I've come all this way.’ He stepped up to the door and knocked on it, taking off his hat.

Really, thought Romana, sometimes the Doctor could be quite old-fashioned... The door opened, and the person inside nearly fell over with shock. ‘Doctor -is it really you?’ Sarah Jane was at once both overjoyed and annoyed at his sudden reappearance in her life. And who was this fair, aristocratic-looking girl behind him...?

‘Hello, Sarah Jane,’ said the Doctor. ‘Can we come in?’

The spaceship was sleek and sharp, at once purposeful and also capable of graceful manoeuvring in the depths of space. On board, the tall, cold silver figures looked menacing. As one of them entered the chamber, the others looked up and stood respectfully at attention.

Obedience was a prime feature of the Cybermen...

The Doctor and Romana were enjoying a cup of tea in Sarah Jane's flat. They were reminiscing, and Romana was frankly getting rather bored. She was beginning to wish she was in her room in the TARDIS when K9 announced, ‘Master, there is an emergency on board the ship. It requires immediate attention.’

The Doctor looked annoyed. There was always something to be done, he thought, just when he was beginning to enjoy himself.

Sarah Jane knew what he was thinking, and she could remember it well herself from her travels with him.

The Doctor roused himself, and put down his cup. ‘I suppose I had better go and see what it is,’ he said reluctantly, and Romana and K9 followed him out of the room.

‘Doctor,’ said Sarah hesitantly, ‘I couldn't come and see the TARDIS, could I? Just for old time's sake?’

‘Yes, all right,’ the Doctor grinned broadly, ‘Just one visit cane t do any harm, can it?’

The Cybermen had assembled, and were being briefed about their mission by the Cyberlieutenant. His voice was cold and logical. ‘You will activate the Time Control technology and destroy the defences of the planet below. We will have control over the Time Lords. The Cybermen will be the supreme power in the Universe, and through our control of time, we will reverse the destruction of Mondas and reclaim our world as the home of the Cybermen.’

The planet below, the third in the constellation of Kasterborous, was known as Gallifrey...

The TARDIS doors opened and the group trooped in, with Sarah Jane looking fondly at the room she had known so well. ‘It is nice to be back, Doctor,’ she said wistfully, gazing fixedly at the console.

‘Well, Sarah, you know really I should only let you stay for a short while,’ the Doctor floundered as he attended to the console; secretly he was enjoying having her back.

Romana meanwhile had replaced the map in the locker and rejoined them, smiling brightly. ‘So, what was the problem?’ she asked.

‘Well,’ said the Doctor,’it seems to be some sort of emergency call.’

Suddenly, the TARDIS was rocked violently, and the central time rotor began to move up and down. The Doctor's face was grim. ‘We're being moved by the Time Lords,’ he said.

Both Romana and Sarah Jane knew what that meant...

The Cyberfleet, positioned in deep space, awaited the call of their compatriots to begin the invasion. Thousands of ships were poised to move, awaiting the order.

The TARDIS was still shuddering, despite the best efforts of the Doctor to stabilise it. Sarah Jane and Romana were comparing their adventures in the TARDIS and finding that their experiences were very similar. Their initial distrust was fading, and they were fast becoming firm friends.

As suddenly as it had started, the time-space craft stopped. ‘Where are we, Doctor?’ asked Sarah Jane.

‘And when are we?’ added Romana, craning her head towards the console. ‘Hang on,’ said the Doctor a little crossly. ‘Give me a chance to see.’ He switched on the scanner and Romana gasped.

‘We're on Gallifrey,’ she said. ‘We've been brought home.’

The doors to the TARDIS opened and the Doctor, Romana and Sarah emerged cautiously. They were in the Panopticon - or rather where the Panopticon should have been. The Doctor and Romana seemed out of place.

‘Is something wrong?’ said Sarah innocently.

Something was very, very wrong. The TARDIS had arrived on Gallifrey, but it was not the Gallifrey the Doctor and Romana knew. They had arrived thousands of years in their past, at the very dawn of Time Lord society. The Capitol was small and crudely constructed. Conditions looked make-shift, and instead of the ornamentation familiar to the Gallifreyans, the walls and ceilings were plain.

Sarah Jane was not impressed. ‘You left me behind on Earth for this?’ she said querulously.

‘Sarah - we have arrived at the beginning of Time Lord history. Something must be seriously wrong for us to be here. The TARDIS was taken out of time for a reason - let's go and find out why, shall we?’ mused the Doctor.

Crossing to a small antechamber, the party found a door and could hear the sounds of voices beyond. Pushing the door open, they saw several men and women sitting at a table talking heatedly. The Doctor strode in, and the people all stood up.

‘Hello. I'm the Doctor, this is Romana, and Sarah Jane. Why did you summon us here? This breaks the First Law of Time - as Time Lords you should be well aware of that,’ he finished accusingly.

A tall and distinguished woman came forward. ‘I am Thalia, fourth Lord President of Gallifrey. We are in grave danger from an attacking force, threatening Gallifrey. We have summoned you from the distant future to help us. Our greatest scientists and engineers have been kidnapped by the invaders and they have betrayed our secrets, allowing penetration of our transduction barrier.’

‘Romana and I are graduates of the Academy; she with Triple Alpha, and I with .er.. .Double Gamma... and so, what plans do you have?’

The President walked over to a large diagram on a viewscreen, and indicated a series of dots concentrated in one area of deep space. ‘The invasion fleet is located here, and a smaller craft is in orbit,’ she explained. ‘We are the last remaining group of Time Lords, having survived the initial attack. We have two TARDISes, and if necessary, we can leave, but the invaders must not be allowed to gain access to the Matrix, or they will learn all our knowledge of time.’

Romana spoke up. ‘If we can find some way to infiltrate the enemy, we might be able to save the Matrix. Who are the invaders, anyway?’

‘They are giant silver men,’ began Thalia, but Sarah interrupted her.

‘Oh, no, not Cybermen,’ she said in a horrified voice, recalling her experiences on Voga.

‘What do the Cybermen want with the Matrix?’ pondered the Doctor. Then he realised, and was astonished by the audacity of the idea.

‘Mondas was destroyed, though, near Earth in 1986,’ protested Romana when the Doctor had revealed his theory. She knew her galactic history well from her time at the Bureau of Ancient Records.

‘They want to go back in time and stop that,’ the Doctor said grimly. ‘And the way to that is via the Matrix.’

The Cybermen strode grimly and unemotionally through the deserted corridors of the Capitol. They encountered no resistance, and relentlessly they advanced.

‘Leader,’ said one of the Cybermen. ‘We are at the Capitol building, where the last of the Time Lords are cowering.’

‘Good,’ said the Cyberleader. ‘Prepare the bomb.’

Sarah Jane was not very impressed by the reception on Gallifrey, even after the Doctor had explained the situation. For a super-advanced planet, they seemed to be in quite a lot of trouble, and she wondered if even the Doctor might have trouble sorting this one out...

The Cyberbomb was primed and ready to be used. The Cybermen left the device and retreated. From the shadows crept the figure of Romana. Quickly, she ripped the timing indicator off the bomb, and replaced it with the section of a device given to her by the Doctor. She hoped with both her hearts that it wouldn't go off, or her next regeneration would come a lot sooner than she expected...

In the Capitol, the Doctor and Sarah were walking quickly towards the Matrix, along with an elderly Time Lord called Herdin, who had known Rassilon in his younger lives. Herdin opened a door and they saw before them the controls to the Matrix, the greatest achievement of Rassilon.

‘Looks a bit newer than when I was last here,’ commented the Doctor, as he bent over the controls. He began to move his fingers over the complex network of controls and switches, tapping and muttering to himself while Sarah and Herdin watched him anxiously.

‘Doctor,’ quavered Herdin, ‘There must be some sort of emergency system.’

‘You must be able to do something before the Cybermen get here,’ added Sarah. She was being very optimistic, thought the Doctor...

Meanwhile, Romana had succeeded in defusing the bomb. As she slipped through the corridors, avoiding the patrols of Cybermen, she was thinking about something she had remembered from her Academy days. There were no records of any invasions of early Gallifrey; in fact, the entire early history of her planet was shrouded in mystery...

Coming to the end of the passage, she turned left just in time to see a group of Cybermen heading towards her. Ducking into a narrow gap in the wall, she held her breath until the Cybermen had passed, and then continued on her way, ever more warily.

K9 was plugged into the Matrix, maintaining a force barrier around the section of the Capitol where the Doctor was desperately working to siphon off the Time Mechanics section of the Matrix into a smaller console. Sarah and Herdin were retrieving this and routing it through to the TARDIS, and although they didn't know it, time had run out. The Cybermen had discovered that their bomb had been sabotaged, and had begun, under the direction of a captured Time Lady technician, to blast their way through the massive doors.

A Cyberman turned to consult another, and as he did so, he saw something move in the shadows. Striding over to investigate, he saw Romana move, and grabbed for her arm. She turned and ran, blundering through deserted passages and rooms in a desperate effort to evade the silver giant she knew was relentlessly pursuing her, coming ever increasing nearer...

Herdin, Sarah and the Doctor were nearly finished, and they were completing the final entry when they heard a muffled and distant thump. The Doctor looked worried. The Cybermen had broken in, he thought - they had to leave as soon as possible.

‘Sarah, Herdin, come on, we have to go,’ he said, and motioned them towards the doors. They slipped out, and K9 moved after them.

As they headed off back down the corridor, Sarah saw someone running towards them. ‘Doctor - it's Romana - and look - she's being chased by a Cyberman!’

The Doctor began to formulate a plan in his mind. ‘Sarah, do you still have that gold pocket watch you used to wear? Hurry, they'll be here any moment!’

Fumbling at her waist, Sarah grabbed the watch, and saw that the Cyberman was almost upon them. She tossed the watch to the Doctor, who stepped into the shadows, and as the Cyberman came past, he ground the watch into its chest unit.

The result was both horrifying and spectacular. The chest unit seemed to partially melt, and the silver giant began to thrash violently, flinging his arms around and nearly catching the breathless Romana around the waist.

Panting, Romana said to the Doctor, ‘More... Cybermen... heading this way... going to take the Matrix.’

The Cyberman slumped to the floor, and the Doctor drew in a breath before motioning the little group to follow him back towards the Presidential Chambers.

Suddenly, they heard more sounds. The Cybermen were catching up with them.

Sarah shivered as she saw the glint of their bodies. The Doctor and Romana suddenly ducked into a side room.

‘Doctor,’ said Romana, surely that's a TARDIS?’

Sarah and Herdin looked where she was pointing - at a large chest of drawers in the corner. Ah, thought Sarah, the chameleon circuit was working on that one, at least.

The Doctor crossed over to the door of the TARDIS and opened it. Outside, the Cybermen were examining each room. They were getting uncomfortably close. The group ran into the TARDIS just as the Cyberleader strode into the room.

The Doctor locked the doors with his sonic screwdriver, and turned to the others. ‘My, what a sorry looking lot we are, aren't we?’ he grinned, trying to lighten the situation.

Romana tried to open the inner door to the rest of the TARDIS, but found it wouldn't open. Suddenly the reason dawned on her; this TARDIS was a pre-dimensionally transcendental model - it was bigger on the outside than on the inside. She turned back to the Doctor, who was at the console trying to get the time rotor to work. He looked up at her, and smiled, and in that smile she found the confidence to direct the others to hold on tight.

‘This is the Lady President's TARDIS,’ said Herdin. ‘It is our most advanced model, a Type Sixteen.’ His voice was very proud, and Romana didn't have the heart to tell him that she and the Doctor travelled in (what she considered) an old fashioned Type Forty.

Outside, the Cybermen were attempting to force the lock on the TARDIS doors. A Cyberman brought forward a cutting device and applied it to the surface of the chest of drawers. Logically, the Cyberleader assumed, the fugitives had to be inside - there was nowhere else they could have gone.

At that moment, the TARDIS began to dematerialise, and the Cyberleader signalled his men to stand back. He was almost certain that the tall Time Lord he had seen was the renegade known as the Doctor, and he also knew the Doctor would eventually be back. Emotions were the fundamental weakness of the non-Cyberman races...

The TARDIS occupied by the Doctor and his companions had, in fact, only moved several hundred metres behind the room it had previously occupied. The door opened, and Romana and the Doctor emerged, followed by Herdin, Sarah and K9.

‘Master, no Cybermen in the immediate vicinity,’ K9 announced.

‘Thank you, K9,’ said the Doctor gratefully, and he moved off down the hallway with his little group in tow.

Halfway down a corridor, a small metal robot joined the group, unnoticed. It glided silently behind them, but it had not counted on the rear sensors built into K9.

The robot dog turned and extruded its nose blaster while at the same time informing the Doctor, ‘Master, I am under attack from a small robot. Take evasive action while I deal with it.’

The small robot - a Cybermat - spun round and took off, K9 sped after it, blasting away.

‘That thing will alert the Cybermen to where we are,’ said the elderly Herdin worriedly.

Nodding, the Doctor set off again, and soon they reached the Presidential Quarters, where a terrible sight awaited them. The bodies of the remaining members of the High Council lay around the table haphazardly. One of the men groaned, and raised his head slightly.

‘Come on, come on, we have to know what happened,’ said the Doctor urgently.

‘I am Vargo,’ he said, ‘The cardinal of the Arcalian Chapter... We have been decimated by the Cybermen... I and several of my fellow councillors attempted to regenerate, but we were again gunned down by the Cybermen... You must save Gallifrey, kinsman from the future... or the Cybermen will control time...’ The voice broke off and the Time Lord quietly died.

‘Doctor.’ The cold metallic voice froze everyone in the room. Eventually, the Doctor had known, the Cybermen would catch up with him, but he hadn't expected them to be so efficient...

The squad of Cybermen emerged from concealment around the room. They took hold of the Doctor and his companions and dragged them from the room.

One thing was worrying the Doctor. They had seen no sign of the body of the President. Had she been captured, killed elsewhere, or something worse not worth contemplating...?

The group were taken to a large open space east of the main Capitol, where the Cybership was sitting, looking brooding and malevolent.

Herdin stumbled, and fell to his knees. He was nearing the end of his twelfth regeneration, and he was also near exhaustion from the constant physical effort he had experienced.

The Cyberleader stopped, and said to the Doctor, ‘What is wrong with this one?’

The Doctor tried to explain that Herdin was old, very old, and near to the final gift to a Time Lord - the everlasting sleep of eternity.

The Cyberleader was silent, and motioned to one of his patrol. ‘Kill him,’ he ordered. ‘He no longer has any use for us.’

The Cyberman carried out his orders, and the crumpled body of Herdin lay on the ground, silent testament to the ruthlessness and brutality of the Cyber-race.

Sarah began to sob uncontrollably, and Romana felt a terrible pain for the helpless old man, and she turned to gaze at the Doctor, his sorrow likewise written all over his face.

Disinterested, the Cyberleader opened the Cybership hatch, and the Doctor, Sarah and Romana were thrust inside.

Sitting in the corner was the Lady President of Gallifrey, Thalia. She rose as the three entered, and greeted them wearily. ‘Greetings, Doctor, and your associates. It appears Gallifrey is lost.’

‘Oh no,’ replied the Doctor. ‘Never heard such rot. Where there's a will, there's a way, that's what I always used to tell King Charles. Mind you, in the end, it didn't seem to help him much...’ The Doctor's voice tailed off as he recalled that brave but misguided monarch.

Sarah had begun to calm down, and Romana was reassuring her whilst they sat in a corner. ‘I'm sure it didn't hurt so much in the end, Sarah...’ Romana was saying, ‘You must realise that the end for a Time Lord comes as a kind of relief. We regard the final act as a transition... a bit like you believe in a heaven.’

Sarah felt relieved, but knew that she would always cherish the memory of the brave, elderly Time Lord. Sarah Jane, she told herself, you just count yourself lucky you're with the Doctor...

The craft began to shake and a muffled roar could be heard from within the ship as it lifted off the ground, slowly at first, and then gradually accelerating as the ship soared off into the atmosphere, up towards the blackness of space.

In the control room, the Cyberleader was reporting to the Cybercontroller, an enormous Cyberman on the flagship of the Cyberfleet.

‘Gallifrey has been subjugated,’ he reported. ‘We have the Doctor, the President of Gallifrey, and two of the Doctor's Time Lord companions with us. We will rejoin the fleet in several minutes at hyperdrive.’

‘You have done well,’ replied the Cybercontroller. ‘Soon we will reach back in time with the Time Technology of the Gallifreyans and return to our home planet, Mondas. The Cyber-race will use the power of time travel to become the masters of the Universe. We will be invincible!’ The Cyberleader bowed, and the screen went blank.

In the bowels of the ship, the group had experienced the sensation of lift-off, and were now trying to come up with an escape plan.

‘What about the robot dog you had with you earlier, Doctor?’ asked President Thalia.

‘Of course! K9!’ exclaimed the Doctor. ‘He must still be down on the surface of Gallifrey. But how are we going to reach him? My whistle is no use from way up here - we need another way to contact him.’

‘What about this?’ said the President, producing a slender device. ‘It's an emergency Staatenheim recall device, our newest invention. Surely it can be adapted to an ultrasonic frequency,’ she said.

The Doctor thought very fast. He took the device and began to fiddle with the insides. He looked up and beckoned Romana over to him, letting her inspect the recall device.

‘Seems pretty simple,’ she said. ‘Just alter the frequency.’

‘Of course, of course,’ said the Doctor. ‘Isn't it lucky that I thought of it?’

Inwardly, Romana smiled, and as she helped him make the adjustment she thought fondly of the Doctor's little qualities, modesty of which was not one. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the Doctor talking quietly into the device.

‘Hello, hello, K9, can you hear me? Come on K9, don't fail me now old chap...’ There was a hiss and a crackle from the other end before the mobile computer answered.

‘I can hear you Master. You are with the Mistress?’

‘Indeed I am K9, and on board the Cybership. Now listen, I need you to do something for me...

The ship closed in on its mother craft and initiated docking. With a jolt, the two ships connected, and the door to the cell whisked open. The Doctor, the President, Romana and Sarah were taken down a corridor into a large room with a larger than usual Cyberman in its centre.

The Cybercontroller turned, and hissed upon spotting the Doctor. ‘We meet again, Doctor. You will not escape me as you did when we last met on Telos.’

On that occasion, in his second incarnation, the Doctor along with Jamie and Victoria had refrozen the Controller and his Cybermen after they had been awakened by a party of Earth archaeologists.

The Doctor, flippant despite his secret anxiousness, returned the compliments.

‘Don't be so sure, Controller. What makes you think you will get away with it this time?’

‘Because you are going to tell us where you have hidden the time information from the Time Lord Matrix, Doctor,’ replied the giant Cyberman, ‘Or else your friends will die, one by one, until you reveal the place you have put it. The Cybermen know of your weakness, and your loyalty to your friends, Doctor. Now - where is the information?’

‘Sorry, I don't remember, old chap. A Time Lord's memory is a difficult thing, you know.’

‘Do not toy with us, Doctor,’ said the Cybercontroller. ‘Take that one,’ he indicated to Sarah, and a Cyberman began to drag her away.

‘Doctor... Help me... Help me, Doctor!’ screamed Sarah, as the Cyberman tightened his grip around her arm, causing her great pain.

The Doctor looked resigned. ‘Don't hurt her!’ he said. ‘I'll tell you what you want to know.’

The Cybercontroller signalled the Cyberman to release his grip on Sarah.

‘The information has been transferred to my TARDIS; the Matrix data bank is integrated with the computer memory.

The Controller considered this information. ‘Good. My Cybermen will investigate - but if you are not telling the truth, it will be the worst for you and your friends.’

The Doctor hoped that K9 was doing what he had been told - the situation was looking very desperate...

The Cybercontroller was gazing at the Doctor in a speculative manner. ‘Perhaps you should be cybernised, Doctor. You have rare qualities for a humanoid - ones that would serve the Cyber cause well.’

The Doctor looked distinctly worried at that possibility. ‘No - I don't think so, somehow... I've always thought this visage contained a rather noble feature. Besides, silver really isn't my colour.’ Inwardly, he was thinking, come on K9, hurry - I don't think I can keep this up for much longer.

At that moment, there came a familiar groaning, wheezing noise, and the shape of a blue police box began to materialise in a corner of the room.

The Cybercontroller turned, and saw with satisfaction the now fully materialised TARDIS in the corner. ‘Very good. Now enter and retrieve the information with this.’ He gave the Doctor a small disc, and then swivelled to face the others. ‘The President and the blonde female may go with you, but we will keep the other one as an incentive for your return.’

The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors, and whispered to K9, ‘Aim at the hydraulics links.’

K9 left the TARDIS and shot at the hydraulics of the Cybercontroller, severing an arm link before the silver giant could respond. Grabbing Sarah, the Doctor and K9 dashed into the TARDIS where Romana and Thalia were waiting.

As the Cybermen began to pound on the doors, the Doctor set the controls, and the time/space craft dematerialised in front of the assembled group of Cybermen.

The Cybercontroller ordered the immediate deployment of the invasion fleet.

Slowly, gracefully and carefully, the Cyberfleet began manoeuvring in space, heading towards the planet below - a planet that because of the interference of the Cybermen, had no transduction barrier - the defence shield that normally made Gallifrey invulnerable to such attacks.

The TARDIS materialised in the transduction barrier chamber, and the Doctor rushed out, followed by Romana and Sarah.

The quantum forcefield which surrounded Gallifrey was relatively new at this time, unlike when the Doctor had encountered it in his own time. Investigating the controls, he found where the Cybermen had interrupted the circuit flow, and began to remove the cumbersome technology. He was just about finished when he heard a muffled gasp from below him.

Looking down from the control complex, he saw Romana and Sarah struggling with two Cybermen.

‘You will restore our technology, Doctor,’ said one menacingly, ‘Or your companions will die.’

Slowly, the Doctor turned, and keeping one hand behind his back, faced the Cybermen. ‘How many of you are there left?’ he asked innocently.

‘We are the last two,’ replied one of the Cybermen. ‘Now, reattach the device.’

Suddenly, Romana twisted free, and in the moment of distraction, the Doctor completed his work, and reestablished the quantum forcefield and restored the planetary transduction barrier.

The whole room shook, and then began to violently convulse, as the effects of the barrier stabilised. The Cybermen were shaken from their feet as the convulsions increased in magnitude, and the Doctor crawled down from the platform. Grabbing the Cyberweapons, he finished off the fallen Cybermen, as Thalia, who had been knocked unconscious by the Cybermen, groaned and awoke. Had they been in time?

High above Gallifrey, the invasion fleet descended. The flagship with the Cyber-controller in command was to be the spearhead of the invasion. The occupation of Gallifrey and the resultant perversion of the timestream would end in the permanent domination of the Universe by Cybermen.

Unexpectedly, the flagship began to shudder. The nearest technician was summoned to the Controller, and he explained the situation. ‘Leader, the Gallifreyans have raised their transduction barrier - once again the planet is invulnerable to our attack.’

‘Direct our ground attachment to destroy the barrier.’

‘The Time Lord known as the Doctor has destroyed them,’ replied the Cyberman impassively. ‘We have no way of reaching the planet below.’

Turning to view the screen, the Cybercontroller realised that he had again been defeated by the Doctor. He gave the signal for the fleet to move off into deep space. You may have defeated me this time, Doctor, he thought, but we will meet again, and the next time you will not escape so lightly.

The Capitol is free from the threat of invasion, thought the Doctor wearily, as he and the others headed back to the Presidential chambers. The President was already beginning to organise the return of the Gallifreyans who had been evacuated to the other planets of the Kasterborous System, and the nearby planets of Karn and Shada. The Doctor and his companions were hailed as the saviours of the Time Lords, and he was beginning to think it was time to return to his own timestream.

As soon as he could, he herded Romana, K9 and Sarah Jane into the TARDIS, and they disappeared from Gallifrey's distant past with as little fuss as possible, even though Romana was quite keen to stay and experience some more of ancient Gallifrey.

‘Do you think you could take me home now, Doctor?’ asked Sarah.

‘What?’ said the Doctor mischievously, ‘Haven't you had enough adventure?’

Sarah and Romana knew he was teasing, and as the TARDIS altered course to take Miss Sarah Jane Smith, journalist, back to her own little flat, sounds of laughter filled the control room of the battered blue police box crossing the barriers of time and space...

This item appeared in Timestreams 2 (April 1991).

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