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The Foundation of Science

By Jamas Enright

[Fifth Doctor and Turlough]The Doctor looked around one of the many medical facilities on Vilencia Sixteen, the research station where the TARDIS had landed. With only a plaque to read, stating that Handow Industrial funded this medical laboratory, his wait wasn't going well.

Doctor Priame entered the room, looking at a chart. ‘Doctor, I want to thank you again for this opportunity.’

‘It's Turlough you should be thanking,’ the Doctor replied. ‘He was the one who agreed to be examined.’

‘It's not often that we get the chance to examine the Trion biosystem.’ Doctor Priame paused a moment to look at the Doctor, ‘Are you sure I can't tempt you...?’

‘Ah, no, I'd rather not, if you don't mind.’

‘Certainly. Well, we have a few more tests we'd like to run on Turlough. He's agreeable to staying here a while longer, but perhaps you'd like to continue the tour? It's not everyday someone with your obviously advanced technical capabilities comes here.’

Unlike most occasions when the TARDIS arrived, here it was merely a sign that the people inside had a high degree of technical experience. The Doctor and Turlough were treated like honoured guests. It made a most refreshing change.

Interested, despite some concern for Turlough, the Doctor agreed to continue.

The Doctor's guide was a technician by the name of Ezeral Krafellow. ‘How is all this funded?’ the Doctor asked as Ezeral led the way.

‘Various companies provide the research money. Mandrel, Francis-Drake, Retaka. You can tell which company is governing the project by plaques on the wall. Those that aren't company funded are funded by Earth Administration.’

‘There doesn't seem much in the way of security,’ the Doctor commented.

‘Your presence aside, Doctor, this place is impregnable. Only those that pass the stringent security checks can get in. And all areas are palm print locked.’

‘Is medical research the only function of this base?’

Ezeral shook his head. ‘We perform research in all areas of science. So far you have only seen the biological projects.’

‘Is the layout sectioned by project area?’

‘Not quite. Due to the large number of projects here, and the variety, is it not always easy to decide if a project should be, for example, chemistry or biology. Also, it depends on what is available that meets the requirements of the project specifications. If you like, we can move onto other areas. Matter transmission projection, electro-temporal engineering, transmutation of elements...’

A warning alarm sounded in the Doctor's head. ‘Electro-temporal engineering?’

‘One of the more successful projects here,’ said Ezeral. ‘But I don't know that much about it.’

The Doctor was about to ask more when Ezeral placed his hand on a palm reader, then pulled the Doctor into another lab.

‘Doctor Chandrapadra is working in the area of...I'm sorry, doctor, I can never seem to get it right.’

‘No problem,’ answered the dark skinned doctor, looking up from his microscope. ‘Retrogenetic environment reengineering.’ He extended a hand. ‘You must be the alien Doctor that was reported.’

The Doctor took the proffered hand. ‘I guess I must.’

‘Always happy to hear the views of fellow researchers.’

‘Oh, I only dabble a bit here and there. What exactly do you do here, Doctor Chandrapadra?’

The Doctor glanced around the lab, recognising many of the machines as viral samplers and molecular engineering units. ‘Tailor viruses for work on uninhabitable planets?’ guessed the Doctor.

‘Not quite, Doctor. Sometimes there are cheaper options available than changing the planet.’

‘Which is?’ asked the Doctor, going over to a large window that looked onto a side lab.

The Doctor gasped as he looked through the window. On the other side were tables. And on the tables were bodies. One had skin grey as rock, another's features was half melted by some kind of acid, and another body was sprouting gills and miniature fins.

‘You change the people,’ said the Doctor accusingly. ‘You reengineer human DNA to conform to planetary conditions...because it's cheaper?’ he asked disbelievingly.

‘Alternatives must be examined, Doctor. In the pursuit of science, every avenue must be explored to its full potentiality,’ replied the doctor.

The Doctor spun around to face Doctor Chandrapadra and Ezeral, a dark look on his face. ‘I don't know what's worse. That you could possibly do this...or that there are people willing to pay for this.’ The Doctor espied a plaque that proclaimed this project had the benefit of the Francis-Drake Institute behind it.

‘Don't jump to the wrong conclusions, Doctor. Those things in there aren't human.’

This brought the Doctor up short. ‘They're not?’

‘They're force grown human replicas. Exactly the same as human biologically, but no mind, no consciousness... no soul, if you will.’

‘So you won't be using humans at all?’

‘Later, when all the problems are sorted out. Then some humans will be delivered for proper testing.’

‘How callous can you be?’ the Doctor asked. ‘You already speak of them as if they were no more than test tubes.’

Ezeral grabbed the Doctor's arm, and pulled him away. ‘Perhaps we should be moving on.’

Outside, the Doctor looked at Ezeral, his face a mask of disapproval. ‘What standards are required before coming here?’ the Doctor challenged. ‘A complete lack of morals?’

‘Doctor,’ said Ezeral slowly. ‘It would be inappropriate for you to view some of what we label as our more sensitive projects. There are factors that you are unaware of. Being an alien, you cannot truly appreciate the decisions we made before continuing with that form of research. We ask that you do not judge us, Doctor. We do not judge you. If you try to stop us, we will be forced to never allow you to leave. And since keeping you here would be a waste of our resources, we do have scientists who would put forward a case for using you as a sample for their experiments. And we would have no reason to deny them.’

The Doctor's face hardened. ‘So, that's it. Threaten my life if I don't go along with you.’

‘It is not a threat. It is simply the way things will be if you do not ‘go along with us’.’

‘I'd like to speak to whoever's in charge. Perhaps they can be made to see reason.’

‘Maybe later. After the tour. There are other areas you might like to see first.’

The Doctor considered. As bad as it appeared, the DNA experiments were harmless enough at the moment. He could take the opportunity of seeing how things functioned here before making his play. ‘Very well, lead on.’

As they left, a pair of eyes watched them, a frown on the face surrounding them.

‘Is there any area in particular you would like to see, Doctor?’ Ezeral asked.

‘You mentioned before electro-temporal engineering,’ said the Doctor, deciding to bid his time until he could think of a plan. ‘I'd like to see that if I may.’

Ezeral considered, then nodded. ‘Certainly. As a being from a more technologically advanced culture, you may understand the effort needed for the breakthrough Professor Jonson has achieved.’

‘Professor Jonson?’

‘The man in charge.’ Ezeral led the Doctor through the corridors. ‘He has been working for the Earth Administration while he has been here. But I’ll let him tell you about his discovery.’

‘I can hardly wait.’

Simon paused as he followed the two people through the corridors. The man with the blonde hair and fawn coat seemed to strike a note within his mind, and he was trying to work out what it meant. However, as he was about to move, there was a noise from behind him.

He turned around to see another technician, this one looking at him curiously. ‘I was unaware that there was anyone else new in this section,’ the technician said.

Simon moved forward quickly, withdrawing a syringe from a pocket.

The technician barely had time to widen his eyes in surprise before the needle plunged into his chest and the plunger was depressed. He clawed at his chest for a moment, before toppling backwards. Simon grabbed the top of his pants to stop the technician from thumping loudly onto the floor, and lowered him gently.

Simon glanced around for any other observers, but saw none. He watched with interest as the virus that the needle had delivered quickly ran through the dead body, eating the organic matter and converting it into an odourless, colourless, harmless gas. In moments, there was no more technician, just a pile of clothes, which Simon scooped up.

He had been sent here for a reason. Time to be on about his business.

‘How exactly does all this manage to happen?’ asked the Doctor. ‘Rival corporations under one roof, each running individual projects for their own profits. Secrets must be getting out.’

‘For such advantages as one area of research feeding off another, the companies are willing to allow such possible imbalances in technological achievements.’

‘I'm surprised they are so...amicable.’

‘It is more logical this way.’ Ezeral halted in front of a large double door. ‘We are here.’

Ezeral palmed the lock, then opened the door and the Doctor strode inside. On the inside, machines were stacked against the wall, making space for the main device in the middle. The Doctor recognised a primitive form of the lightspeed overdrive, phase modulator, temporal matrix discriminator...all of which pointed to only one result.

In the centre of the room was a large open module, reminiscent of a large flower. The leaves were seats, and in the centre was a large construction, partly hidden by the controls that littered its surface.

‘It's marvellous, isn't it?’ came a voice, distracting the Doctor from his examination. ‘I call it my Engine.’

The Doctor turned to see a well-dressed man in a perfectly pressed white lab coat, open to reveal white shirt, tie, and creaseless pants. Even the black hair was slicked back and shone under the bright white lighting panels in the ceiling.

‘Professor Jonson?’ the Doctor guessed.

‘The one and only. You are, of course, the Doctor.’ Jonson looked at his Engine proudly. ‘Tell me, Doctor. What would you guess that my wonderful machine might do? It's something dreamed of by mankind for centuries, yet always unachievable.’

‘It's a time machine,’ said the Doctor bluntly.

Professor Jonson looked deflated for a moment, but only a moment. ‘Precisely, Doctor. I can tell that you have experience in these matters. What do you think of it?’

‘I think you should stop what you are doing, immediately,’ the Doctor said. ‘I highly doubt that you fully understand the dangers of the power you are about to encounter.’

‘What? Nonsense. My calculations are perfect. This will work. It must. Earth Administration acquired pieces of this technology, but only mine was the genius that put it together.’ Professor Jonson paused to bask in his own self-importance, then asked. ‘Would you like to see a demonstration?’

The Doctor's face was grim. ‘I rather think I'd better.’

‘Good. I shall send for you when I am ready.’

Jonson shook the Doctor's hand once firmly, before turning away dismissively. A shiver ran down the Doctor's spine at the hint of madness he had seen in Jonson's eye.

‘Come, Doctor,’ said Ezeral, guiding the Doctor away. ‘I think it's time we had a look at something else.’

‘Perhaps we could see if Turlough is ready to join us,’ the Doctor suggested.

Ezeral nodded. ‘But of course, Doctor. Anything to accommodate you.’

Simon knew of Professor Jonson's schedule, which was why he was so relaxed when he pressed his hand against the palm reader on the side of the door of one of the two labs that bordered Jonson's space

Inside were two scientists, who were working on a method for safely harnessing the power of pulsars and quasars. The lock activated a special mechanism, which sprayed gas into the room, killing them.

Simon counted to a three hundred, then opened the door again. Already the scientists' bodies were only pools of goo. Simon moved to the centre of the room.

He glanced about and spotted the plaque that said that McCrawley Limited was financing this work. He entered a particular code into the computer.

A signal was sent out, one that all McCrawley devices responded to. In particular, every piece of equipment in the room activated a certain subprocess and awaited one further signal.

Simon entered the time until self-destruction, then left.

Turlough was itching to get away when the Doctor found him. As soon as they could, they made an excuse to be alone for a while.

‘Are we getting away from here now?’ asked Turlough.

‘Not yet. There's something I have to do first.’ The Doctor described the work he had seen, including the altered DNA experiments, and finishing with the time experiments.

‘Time experiments? Just as well you’re here to look things over then.’

‘That's not accidental. The Time Lords brought me here. They want me here to stop the time experiments. They didn't tell me, of course, they let me figure it out for myself.’

‘So they are willing to let the rest of the experiments around here continue? Some of them sound rather dubious.’

The Doctor glanced at Turlough. ‘That's one way of putting it. No, they wouldn't want to interfere, is how they would put it. But I won't stop until this place is shut down.’

‘By the sounds of it, they do other important work here. Not so...wrong.’

‘They've lost all sense of morals. Probably a prime characteristic before being able to come here. They've lost sight of the humanity. I must find some way to stop them.’

It was a Gallios owned lab on the other side of Jonson's. In it, Doctor Phipps was working on the result of gravimetric disturbances to the human body, by the means of applying G-force to the body until it was pulped.

Of course, the humans had to be alive for this to work.

A similar procedure to before converted it into a bomb that would explode at the right time.

His work finished, Simon stopped opposite Professor Jonson's lab long enough to pull off his right ear and attach it to the wall.

Ezeral came for the Doctor when it was time for the demonstration, and Turlough accompanied them. For now, the Doctor and Turlough had to play the part of impartial observers, but used that role to gain as much information as possible before they could act.

Professor Jonson was sitting in one of the seats of his Engine, refining the controls until everything was ready.

‘Greetings, Doctor,’ Jonson said. ‘Everything is prepared for history to be made.’

‘And are you really sure that this will work properly?’

[Professor Jonson]

‘Nothing can go wrong,’ Jonson said defiantly. ‘But, I ask that you touch nothing while I activate my Engine and until I have returned. Everything is set as I need it, and as well intentioned any intervention may be on your behalf, trust that I have everything in perfect order.’

The Doctor put his hands in his pockets to show his willingness to obey. ‘Whenever you're ready, Professor.’

Professor Jonson reached out, and pressed a final contact home. He, and his entire Engine, shuddered like a distorted image.

The labs on either side of the one they were in exploded.

Delicate machinery burst in bright displays of pyrotechnics, sparks flying and electricity arcing between damaged systems. The Doctor, Turlough and Ezeral threw up arms to protect their faces, but the Doctor thought he could see the Engine revolving wildly before exploding into constituent particles.

Fire suppression systems immediately came on line, dousing the fires that had started. Fortunately the thick walls had shielded most of the blast, but many cracks had appeared, and some masonry broke off to smash onto the floor.

‘What's happening?’ yelled Turlough.

‘Either an amazing coincidence,’ yelled the Doctor back, pulling something out of his pocket and examining it. ‘Or someone else has ideas of sabotage.’

‘What happened to the Professor?’ Ezeral asked.

‘He's become unstuck in time,’ called the Doctor, putting the device away, and moving to the equipment at the side.

‘The Professor said not to touch anything!’ Ezeral yelled, moving over to pull at the Doctor.

‘If I don't, the entire Web of Time could be affected. This experiment has already caused a 0.7 ripple on the Bocca scale.’

A shudder, not entirely due to the explosions, ran through the room.

‘Can you get him back?’ Ezeral asked.

The Doctor turned to look with a wan face at the person who had been his guide.

‘I said, can you get him back?’ asked the now female technician.

The Doctor stared at the technician, and then he shook his head to clear it. ‘Yes, I think so,’ he said. He focused his attention on the equipment around him. The two explosions had shattered most of the lab.

The Doctor switched controls off, and in some extreme cases pulling plugs from walls or yanking wires, in an attempt to negate the conflicting noise in the circuits he really wanted.

‘What happened to Ezeral?’ asked Turlough, as the Doctor started the necessary rewiring on the remaining circuits. Turlough just kept an eye on things, knowing the Doctor had more experience in this area.

‘Web of Time. Damaged,’ grunted the Doctor as he worked. ‘Some things changed. At least we're the same.’

Turlough looked over to see Ezeral putting out a small fire. ‘Will getting the Professor back reverse the changes?’

‘No,’ replied the Doctor, fiddling with a circuit board. ‘But if he tries doing this again, worse things could happen.’

‘Worse things?’

‘The collapse of the entire Web.’

‘You'd think we'd be used to facing that sort of danger now,’ remarked Turlough, earning a sour look from the Doctor.

‘There,’ said the Doctor, slotting the last circuit back. In the middle of the room, there was shimmer, then a sudden coalescence of points of light, and then Professor Jonson and his Engine appeared.

There was a slight pause while everyone got their breath back, the silence only interrupted by another shower of sparks.

‘Most successful,’ said Professor Jonson, beaming, heedless of the Doctor's shocked expression.

Ben waited around a nearby corner, keeping Jonson's lab in view, and admired his handiwork. The blonde man was in there too, and again Ben was struck by something. But he now thought he knew what that was. It was the worst and the best possible thing that could happen.

‘How can you consider this a success?’ asked the Doctor. He and Professor Jonson were by the Engine, the Doctor eying it critically, the Professor lovingly.

‘How could it not be a success?’ countered Jonson. ‘I traveled through time! I traveled back and arrived on the surface of Vilencia Sixteen before this base was here.’

‘Your laboratory is ruined. This device-’

‘Engine.’

‘Engine,’ amended the Doctor, ‘will never work again.’

‘Bah, that was none of my fault. The other labs were destroyed, something that can not be blamed on my work or me. As soon as the equipment is replaced, and it is all replaceable, I have made many backups of my designs, I can try another run.’

‘Can't you see the results of your own incompetent bungling?’ said the Doctor. He pointed to Ezeral. ‘You have already altered the course of time. You have affected history.’

‘Have I?’ asked Jonson, peering at the technician in question. ‘How?’

‘Ezeral used to be a man. Now he's a woman.’

‘If she feels happier changing her gender, it is neither your nor my place to say anything about it,’ said Jonson reprovingly.

‘She was a man right before you travelled through time,’ said the Doctor through gritted teeth. ‘Your trip has changed her gender. Who knows what other effects you've caused.’

‘Really?’ Professor Jonson peered at Ezeral again, reappraising her. ‘That was a result I wasn't expecting.’

‘Good. Then you must agree to stop all work,’ said the Doctor.

‘This must be studied, certainly. More test flights must be made,’ said Jonson.

‘What? Don't you realise that more trips will only cause more severe changes? You could destroy the entire fabric of time!’

‘This must be investigated, Doctor. The actions of the future affecting the nature of the past. Yes, most fascinating concept,’ said Jonson, musing. ‘Perhaps some form of experiment, of going into the past and directly affecting people's lives, and seeing what scale change that would bring about. Yes, most interesting.’

Jonson wandered away, leaving the Doctor gaping at the enormity of the damage to the structure of time that Jonson was compemplating.

Ben, another unknowing victim of the temporal changes, watched the clean up crews working. Unfortunately the bombs hadn't done enough damage to do more than delay Professor Jonson's efforts. The next step would have to be considered.

‘Professor Jonson's not willing to give up then,’ said Turlough, once they were away from the lab and the Doctor had a chance to calm down. ‘Despite what happened.’

‘It wasn't exactly his fault,’ said the Doctor. ‘And, after he replaces the equipment, he will be able to make other trips.’

‘Successfully?’

‘Perhaps. I hoped to convince him that the damage to the Web of Time was the direct result of his trip, and not accidental from the destruction of his equipment.’

‘It appears that someone else wants his experiments stopped as well,’ said Turlough.

‘Yes. The explosions couldn't be coincidence, but I can't think of anyone who would have reason to stop time experiments. I think even the corporations would be interested in getting their hands on that technology.’

‘Unless they already have, and this is just to stop Earth Admin from creating it.’

The Doctor shook his head. ‘I'd have been placed at the beginning of it all, in that case. No, this is the first successful time travel experiment. And now I have to stop it.’

‘You may not have to.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘The saboteur. They failed. When they find that out, they'll try again.’

The Doctor frowned at Turlough. ‘You're assuming that the saboteur is still here. But given the security of the base, I would agree with that. But we've already seen their methods. They have no regard for human life. You saw the states of the other labs.’

Indeed they had. With Ezeral, they had looked in to see if they could help. The Doctor already suspected that it was too late for anyone caught in the blast, although it looked like the scientists were missing before the explosions happened. At any rate, there was nothing they could do.

‘No, I want this ended without any bloodshed,’ the Doctor continued. ‘There's been too much already. Both in this matter and in the other projects here. Although this saboteur looks like he would fit in here,’ the Doctor added darkly.

‘What are you going to do?’ Turlough asked.

The Doctor sighed. ‘I’m not sure.’

Ezeral caught up to them, after talking to the clean up crews. ‘Is there any where you'd like to see now?’ asked Ezeral. ‘There's still plenty of the base you haven't seen.’

The Doctor waved a hand. Best to continue acting as if nothing was wrong. ‘Any where you like,’ he said magnanimously.

Ben pressed himself against a wall, hearing voices approach. He withdrew the needle, waited until they were only a few steps away, then stepped out in front of them, allowing them to see the needle. He noticed their shocked expressions, and said ‘I want you to-’

He broke off as he finally fully noticed the blonde haired man. It was him.

To the surprise of the three, Ben knelt on one knee, and bowed his head. ‘My lord,’ he said. ‘I am here to serve you, O Lord of Time.’ He genuflected by drawing a large figure eight on his chest.

The Doctor closed the TARDIS door, and turned to face Ben, who showed no surprise at the larger-on-the-inside nature of the TARDIS. Whether it was because he had been in a TARDIS before, or he just didn't show surprise, the Doctor couldn't say. ‘Who are you?’ asked the Doctor.

The Doctor had been treated as a god before, often a god that was wanted dead such as with the Xoanon incident, but he was uncomfortable in either role of an omni-benevolent or omni-malevolent being. So when the man in front of him, Ben, had knelt before him and claiming what looked exactly like religious servitude, the Doctor was unprepared to live up to his ideals.

When the Doctor had stepped forward to ask him what he was talking about, and help Ben up, Ben had reacted like the Doctor's mere close presence would burn him, backing away with reverential fear.

‘I won't hurt you,’ the Doctor had said. ‘How did you know I was a Time Lord?’

Ben's eyes had flicked from the Doctor, to past him to look quickly at Turlough and Ezeral. ‘Not with them present, my Lord,’ he'd hissed.

The Doctor considered. ‘We'll talk in private.’

The Doctor had quickly ushered Ben back to the TARDIS, with Turlough and Ezeral following, and led Ben inside, asking the others to wait outside while they talked.

And now the Doctor wanted some answers.

Before answering the question about his identity, Ben said, ‘I wish to show you something.’ He pressed his palms together, and when he pulled them apart, on the palm of his left hand, was a very familiar symbol.

The Seal of Rassilon. Ben slowly traced a simplified version of the main design, a figure eight.

‘My name is Ben,’ Ben said. ‘I work for the Time-and-Motion Lords.’

‘Who are the Time-and-Motion Lords?’ asked the Doctor, suspicions already forming in his mind.

‘It is a...secret organisation formed by the corporate leaders to keep an eye on the level of technology being produced. And to ensure that time travel does not become a reality.’

‘Why?’

‘We have no wish to incur the wrath of the Time Lords.’

Surprise showed on the Doctor's face. ‘You’re doing all this... because of the Time Lords?’

‘We know They are very powerful. Their main agent, the Doctor, is well known for defending Their secrets. They have the power to wipe out civilisations and entire planets from the face of history. It would be in our best interests for this not to happen to us.’

The Doctor hesitated, then said, ‘I am the Doctor.’

Ben immediately knelt and bowed his head, drawing the Seal of Rassilon on his chest. ‘I am your servant.’

‘No,’ said the Doctor, earning a look of confusion from Ben. ‘No one should worship the Time Lords. They are a bunch of hypocritical old fools!’ This last sentence was practically shouted at the ceiling of the TARDIS. ‘This Time-and-Motion Lords cult must end.’

Ben quickly looked down again. ‘Will...will you destroy us?’ he asked. The Doctor heard fear in his voice.

‘No,’ said the Doctor quietly. ‘But this must end. Tell me, what are you doing here?’

‘I am here to destroy Professor Jonson and his Engine,’ said Ben.

‘How?’

‘First by trying to indirectly destroy his work, but that failed,’ said Ben, referring to the labs that had been destroyed right when Professor Jonson activated his Engine and travelled in time. ‘The next step is personal destruction.’

‘No. No more killing,’ said the Doctor firmly. He crouched down to look Ben right in the face. ‘Promise me, no more killing.’

‘I...I...’ Ben looked away, unable to keep eye contact. ‘I promise.’

‘Good. Now how exactly were you to destroy him? A bomb, I suppose.’

Ben nodded. ‘Planted and set to detonate when the Engine was engaged next. It would scatter the Engine, and the Professor, throughout time.’

‘How did you get such devices?’

‘As I said, the Time-and-Motion Lords are corporate leaders.’

‘Which corporations?’

‘Handow Industrial, Porley Corporation, Francis-Drake Institute. McCrawley Limited....’

‘I get the idea,’ the Doctor said. ‘All the corporations that have labs here.’

‘They have access to the latest developments. With this,’ Ben indicated his hands. ‘I can get into every lab owned by them, and use that equipment for whatever purpose I desire.’

‘Except Earth Administration,’ said the Doctor. ‘I bet you can't get into their labs.’

‘No,’ confirmed Ben. ‘That was why I was looking for someone to get me in there when I found you.’

‘Right, new plan. I want you to take out the lab, but my way, do you understand?’ The Doctor didn't really want to use Ben like this, but if he really could get everywhere, this was a better option than mindless death.

Ben nodded, giving no sign of the confusion that was inside him. This was the Doctor? The Rage of the Time Lords?

‘In this base are viruses that I’m not allowed access to, but you might be able to. Machine viruses that will destroy the equipment in that lab, and memory viruses that will allow Professor Jonson's knowledge to be wiped without any other damage. Can you get them?’

Ben nodded again. A good plan, he thought privately.

‘Good. Bring them to me,’ the Doctor instructed. ‘And then, I want you to leave, and tell others about this place. Don't go back to the Time-and-Motion Lords. In fact, tell others about them, about here. This place must be closed down.’

Ben nodded yet again.

‘And remember, no more killing.’

The Doctor exited the TARDIS, and bumped into Ezeral and a bored Turlough. ‘He's just going to stay in there for a while,’ said the Doctor.

Ezeral looked doubtful, but didn't say anything.

‘What is he-’ Turlough started to ask, but backed down at the Doctor's glare.

‘Now, wasn't there something else you were going to show me?’ the Doctor asked, putting a hand about Ezeral's shoulder and leading her away. Despite the calmness of his voice there was something nagging at the Doctor. Somehow Ben didn't seem completely sincere...

A few minutes later, Ben veritably stalked through the corridors of the research base. He had to admit that the Doctor's plan had its advantages, but was this really the Doctor that the Time-and-Motion Lords had spoken of so fearfully?

While the Doctor's plan was good, it would be better to follow his original plan. With this aim in mind, Ben arrived outside Professor Jonson's lab, and waited for anyone to turn up, so he could force him or her to open the door. Fortunately, the clean up crews had finished their work a while ago, so the area was clear for him to stay in.

The sound of a door opening caused Ben to quickly flatten himself against a wall, but then he realised that it was exactly the doors to Professor Jonson's lab that were opening.

Keeping out of sight around a bend in the corridor, Ben watched as Professor Jonson himself walked out of the lab, and faced the opposite direction to which Ben was hiding, which meant that it would be empty. This couldn't be more perfect.

Running on soundless feet, he reached a hand out, and slid it into the closing gap of the doors just before they shut.

As Professor Jonson walked away, Ben entered the lab.

‘Doctor.’ It was some time later when the Doctor heard someone call his name. He looked around to see Professor Jonson walking towards them. ‘I've had all the equipment replaced, and was just about to make another trip in my Engine. I was wondering if you would like to observe again.’

The Doctor closed his eyes for a moment, wishing he had more time. ‘Yes, all right,’ he said, decisively. Now or never, he thought.

The Doctor turned back to Professor Jonson. ‘Turlough and I would be glad to watch,’ said the Doctor with an open expression radiating honesty.

In Professor Jonson's lab, the Doctor once again looked with worry upon Jonson's Engine. The Doctor knew that it was a perfectly working time machine, and that it was only due to the exploding labs that there had been problems last time.

‘All systems are go,’ said Professor Jonson. ‘Doctor, would you like to accompany me? Or your companion.’ He gestured to an empty seat.

‘Er, no thank you,’ said the Doctor. ‘The honour of a proper trip should be all yours.’

The Professor bowed his head. ‘As you wish, Doctor.’

The Doctor glanced over the banks of the replaced equipment, trying to think of the safest way to sabotage the machine without any more disasters. But he took too long.

‘Now, Doctor, I go into history!’ Jonson closed the final contact, and the Engine started shimmering again.

In the piece of equipment that was the analogue of the lightspeed overdrive, the bomb placed earlier by Ben exploded.

Turlough jumped for the fire extinguisher, and the Doctor watched, horrified, as he saw the image of the Professor and the Engine splinter, fragments spinning off throughout all time, ending up who knew when.

It was over in moments. The fire was put out, but it was far too late. This time there would be no chance for the Professor to return.

He heard someone knock on the doors, and didn't need to turn around when Turlough opened them to see who it was.

‘I said no more killing,’ said the Doctor.

‘I was just making sure,’ said Ben.

The Doctor turned around, anger burning in his eyes. For the first time, Ben saw the figure of wrath the Time-and-Motions Lords had described.

‘I had another way. It would have worked!’

‘At least, this way we are sure it is gone. If it had not worked, then your plan could be implemented.’

‘No, we're not sure,’ said the Doctor, vehemently. ‘Those pieces of time machine could end up anywhere, and cause far more damage than you could know.’

There was a pause and tension simmered in the room.

‘I want you to promise, by whatever oaths you hold dear, that you will expose this place. It must be shut down,’ said the Doctor in a quiet, but still deadly voice.

Ben nodded. ‘On the Seal of Rassilon, I will expose this base.’

‘And stop the Time-and-Motion Lords. The Time Lords don't need a cult acting in what is seen as their interests.’

Ben hesitated. ‘That will be harder. They are well protected. But I will try.’

The Doctor stared deep into Ben's eyes... deep into his mind. This time the Doctor saw that there was no doubts concerning him. Ben would do this, for he now knew the Wrath of the Time Lords. The Doctor looked away with a grunt.

‘So be it,’ said the Doctor, bitterly. He turned around slowly, taking in the lab, and the rest of the base. He remembered the Ferutu, Adric, the Silurians...this regeneration seemed doomed to failure. But not this time.

‘It ends now.’

This item appeared in TSV 60 (June 2000).

Index nodes: Fiction