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- LORD TIME Divided into thirteen chapters, each with it's own link. CHAPTER BY CHAPTER - LT1 LT2  LT3 LT4 LT5    LT6   LT7  LT8    LT9      LT10    LT11   LT12 LT12b LT13

                                                                LORD TIME - CHAPTER FOUR. THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM.

"WILL THE OWNER OF THE BLUE POLICE-BOX PLEASE REPORT TO THE SOUTH BANK CAR-PORT IMMEDIATELY. YOU ARE CAUSING AN OBSTRUCTION."

The frantic, impatient announcement went out several times, over a poor quality, crackly public address system, that went ignored by virtually everybody in earshot, except when the high pitched deafening feedback booming out of the loud speakers pierced everyone’s ears, and drove pet dogs berserk.

Despite the outdated, antiquainted Tannoy equipment, the 2156 Henley Regatta was steeped and surrounded by a sense of the new fad of the day, ‘Post Neo-Futurism’. The people sunning themselves on the river banks were enjoying the greatest revolution since the invention of microchip circuitry, and they thrived on it. The effects of the relatively young Nuclear Fusion Cell, (NFC) was apparent everywhere. Everybody seemed to be carrying a supply of the low heat, zero radiation reactors in capsule form. NFC’s were popped into coffee cups in a soluble form to heat the water quickly to a comfortable drinkable temperature. The NFC’s also fuelled the many air-cars that flew silently and gracefully in and out of the car port landing zones.

Ace had been full of questions on leaving the TARDIS to see this wondrous new ‘no need to be brave any more’ world. She walked around inspecting and stroking the parked cars, which still resembled and carried the names of the models and makes she was familiar with; Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen, Mini, Morris Minor. The Rolls-Royces still carried their trademark Spirit Of Ecstasy hood ornaments. There were even a few air cars shaped to vintage car designs at the whim of their wealthy owners. Model T Fords were scattered throughout the car port. Despite the overpowering sense of the future, the car manufacturers had been determined to retain some recognisable patterns from the past. The Volkswagen Hover-Beetle still retained its characteristic Disney ‘love-bug’ shape and size, but as the Doctor informed Ace, Herbie couldn’t fly. These cars could. Some drivers were even garish enough to have rediscovered go-faster stripes and furry dice to hang over their cockpit windshields. All of this added a pressing sense of kitsch nostalgia for an era that had faded away long before any of the present generation were even conceived. Ace felt that this added an aura of sadness to the whole contrived ethos surrounding her, but she pushed her misgivings to the back of her mind and watched in fascination as one driver changed his entire car engine in just a single moment. He simply raised a petrol cap sized flap over the forward left headlight of his Lotus Esprit, unclipped the old spent engine, and inserted the new one from a packet of ten that he had carried in his pocket. Ace was astonished. She’d taken longer to change light bulbs than that.

Ace had started insisting that the sights she was seeing were impossible, until the Doctor had pointed to his own transportation, smiling. "As impossible as that?"

"Point taken, " Ace agreed. The Doctor smiled. She seemed happy here. She was so obviously over the moon to see something other than monsters for once. She had started insisting on going somewhere nice for a change, just as Mel had done, just as all the assistants had done at some time in their travels with him. Ace had put the question more bluntly than most, though. She was becoming impossible to ignore. "Why not go for a few days at Butlins or something? We don’t have to keep getting caught up in wars, do we?" He agreed, but he had agreed with her before, and each new landing introduced fresh dangers and adventures instead of fun and relaxation. Haemovores, Daleks, The Tymeworm, The Process, The Master. Now, at last, The Professor had given in to her suggestion, insisting all along that it was a one off situation and that she had better make the most of it while she could.

Ace dressed down to her baggy white tee-shirt and black skirt. The heat wave weather made her leather jacket sticky and unbearable. She walked along with The Doctor, asking him question after question, as each new wonder made demands upon her imagination.

The Doctor retained his usual, stoic, chaplinesque attire; sombre dark jacket, a tasteless question mark pullover which Ace said even Giles Brandreth would have regarded as over the top, and baggy, faded check trousers. He quickly discarded his straw hat though, scrunching it casually into the pocket of his coat, but only after several people asked if they could borrow it, or where he had purchased it, and in one persistent young student’s case, just how much money ‘Sir’ would be willing to instantly accept for it.

The Doctor tried to answer some of Ace’s questions, but she was giddy with sheer excitement, like a child waking up on Christmas morning. She seemed almost wilfully intent on shedding her increasing maturity.

There were experiments with cold fusion nuclear power sources even in your time, Ace. Some Japanese scientists briefly stumbled on the processes involved, but they couldn’t replicate their test results. It’s only in the last five years that someone figured out what they had missed, and that’s when all this became possible."

"Five years! That’s incredible."

"Not really, Ace. Look how fast computers developed in your own era. One minute you were playing space invaders, and the next you had virtual reality."

"Actually, Professor, I had a black and white TV set and a second hand Trivial Pursuits board."

Ace was fascinated by the Thames as well. The water looked as clean and clear as the Adriatic Sea. several people were swimming in the water, or sunbathing on the imported, but natural looking Arabian beaches. Henley looked quite beautiful. A wide concrete coastal looking promenade structure had been built to enable tourists to get the best possible views of the area. The beaches, and old fashioned horse drawn trams reminded Ace of Blackpool and Brighton. She wondered how those towns looked now, in 2156. Ace looked up to see the flying cars flying around above her. The vehicles flew alarmingly close to one another, but overtook each other by simply rising or lowering a few feet to get past other air-cars. Some of the silent machines swept down low, to catch a closer look at the rowers and swimmers on and in the water. On a floating raft in mid-river, a four man jazz combo played a slow melodic version of ‘Jolly Boating Weather’ which The Doctor found quite captivating.

Ace broke The Doctor out of his reverie to ask him about air traffic control, as she thought it was a matter of time before the cars crashed into one another in mid-air. The Doctor explained that every car was built with a compulsory guidance system that always detected the presense of any other vehicle or object nearby and took evasive action manoeuvres with or without the driver’s permission or co-operation.

"Drink-driving is also impossible, Ace. The cars are designed by law with built in alcohol detection sensors. If a driver is too far over the safety limit, the car will immediately transport him to the nearest police station and hand him over for immediate arrest." He raised his eyebrows in mimed shock-horror at the thought of it.

The promenade allowed an excellent view of the woodlands as well as the river itself. The woods were a carefully landscaped nature trail, full of oak, sycamore and elm trees, with several imported red squirrels eagerly and greedily accepting nuts and bread crumbs from the hands of anyone soft-hearted enough to feed them. The whole area looked somewhat unreal, if not surreal. Past, present , natural and artificial converged and collided everywhere. There was Victoriana, in the old bathing huts and unicycles. There were the trappings of twentieth century leisure too. People on skateboards wore walkmans, which Ace suspected were now decidedly out of date. Worse, the people were untroubled by work and toil. Many of them looked fat and unhealthy too. They seemed rather too alike as well, with similar ways of smiling and walking. They seemed just as unnatural as their surroundings. Everyone did their best to relax, but there was a tremendous air of boredom about them all. The human drive for ambition, challenge and adventure seemed lacking. Ace found that her initial enthusiasm for coming here was becoming tarnished. The great revolution had been entirely cosmetic. They had found a wonderful new invention, but all that they could make from it was a rehashed, half baked version of the past, in which they doted on former glories that never really existed there the first time round. Ace remembered a quotation from L.P. Hartley. "The past is a another country. They do things differently there."

The Doctor, with an uncanny awareness of Ace’s changing mood, made a few observations of his own. "The future is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there."

The Doctor found himself a relatively secluded spot on the beach, sank the point of his folded umbrella into the sand, sat down, with his legs crossed, and simply stared silently at the gently lapping water a few feet away. The intense Summer heat didn’t seem to bother him at all, even though he sat in full glare of the Sun, with virtually no shade.

For a while, Ace sat with him, but he seemed melancholy, and withdrawn. She asked him if he wanted to leave. "We can go now, if you really want to, you know. It’s all right. I don’t want to keep you here if you are not happy about it."

The Doctor suppressed a smile. He was touched by Ace’s consideration for his feelings. He shook his head. "No, Ace. I wanted to see all this anyway, before it came to an end."

Ace gasped. "Why? What’s going to go wrong?"

"For a few more years, nothing. This is one of the happiest periods in human history."

"Great, so why the long deadpan face?"

The instant that it had been caught out, the long deadpan face vanished behind a look of intense concentration, and a voice that seemed a little shaken. Ace smiled. It was rare for The Doctor to make his inner feelings so externally visible. She liked to encourage that side of him as much as possible.

"Look at them, Ace, They are enjoying a boom; a period of strong economic growth and recovery. Everybody has money, income, the necessities and many of the luxuries of life. That’s extremely dangerous for a technologically advanced society."

"Why?" Ace insisted, eager to see The Doctor get to the point.

"Because everyone wants, wants, wants,, takes, takes takes,. Once people have lots of money they go daft. They need something to spend it on, so society has to keep producing goods to sell. In this age, most of the work is done by robots and computers. People invest heavily in their own robot employees who do the work for them on command. Robots don't get tired, or demand tea-breaks and holidays. Robots never strike or form trade unions. The robots work round the clock, twenty-four hours a day. That means they will drain the Earth’s resources even more. That’s when the harsh realities of poverty will come back with a vengeance."

"They’ll ride through it. You’ll see," said Ace, puzzled by The Doctor’s lapse into doom-laden economic forecasting.

"No they won’t., Ace; not this time. Most of the money that they should be saving for the impending slump is being spent on advanced space communications instead. World leaders know full well that Earth is running out of oil, and gold, and many other vital materials. Our leading politicians have big plans to extract such chemicals and minerals from the other planets and bring them to Earth so the show can continue indefinitely. Oh, yes, your planet finally made the big jump into outer space exploration, Ace; and I’m not just talking about Moon landings. Thanks to advances made through the cold fusion reactor research, your people are even now walking about on worlds in other solar systems. That means some other races are aware of the Earth and what it has to offer now. Some of our old enemies are watching this planet even as we speak. Guess who are coming for dinner in just a few years time?"

The Doctor didn’t even give Ace time to hazard a guess. He grabbed her sharply by the wrist and shook her. "Daleks! Oh, yes. They are coming. I was here. to see their invasion, or should I say I will be here."

The Doctor seemed momentarily confused about what tense he had been speaking in. Ace seized the opportunity to interrupt him.

"Professor, you have mentioned The Dalek Invasion of Earth before, but now that you have destroyed Skaro, haven’t you put an end to that possibility?"

"No, I have prevented nothing. If anything, I have made the event more inevitable. I can’t change time or history in such a big way, not without ...... No, the Daleks will still get here on schedule. There are other worlds with Daleks on them already. They’ll come from such a planet. Nothing changes. Nothing. Don’t you realise that if I changed the course of this river, it would just find another route to the sea. Nature is unstoppable, even for Time Lords. Time and tide wait for no man. I remember telling King Canute something like that, but he still had to get his feet wet trying to prove me wrong. Some things are simply inevitable. The Daleks will start spreading plagues and viruses in 2158, and the lovely scene you see before you will quickly turn into a charnel house." The Doctor raked up some sand in his hand and let it slowly trickle through his fingers. His face became stern and expressionless. "You’re sitting on a mass grave."

Ace flinched. The Doctor realised that he was upsetting her too much. T.S Eliott’s famous line from The Waste Land poem: "I shall show you fear in a handful of dust’ sprang to his mind, but he decided not to utter the words. He had shown her enough dust for now. He had brought her here for genuine rest and relaxation, and he believed that she fully deserved it. He hadn’t brought her out to share his sense of morbidity with her. He smiled. "Of course, there are lots of holiday places like this. There is one renegade Time Lord from Galifrey who just goes round The Universe's top vacation centres, one after another, living the life of Reilly. He went to Disneyland every year, right up to the Tidal Wave." Ace giggled, at least until the penny dropped and she realised that the comment wasn’t entirely intended as a joke.

Ace could seethe awful tension building up inside The Doctor, eating away at him. His mind refused to relax. He tried his best to mellow out and take things easy, but he simply could not achieve it for long. She had seen it happen many times now. Without a crisis or a problem to solve, The Doctor became driven to distraction, irritable, aggressive, rude, and given to bouts of unpleasantness and depression. Ace knew that he would become increasingly unreasonable and antisocial as a companion until they left Earth again, so she decided that she should now cut her leave period down from a full weekend to just the remainder of the afternoon. Making her excuses, Ace bought The Doctor a large Ice-cream, left him with it, and set off alone to explore and mingle. She was too excitable to sit wasting the day sunbathing, so she went to watch the rowing races.

The General mood was good natured everywhere. A few protesters handed out leaflets calling for the ban on public school education to be lifted, but even the leafleteers seemed half-hearted in their dying campaign. Most people ignored them.

The high society festivities that were once the preserve of the well to do were now accessible to all and sundry. The Doctor had told Ace that Wimbledon, Ascot (No longer ‘Royal Ascot’), the University Boat Races, (now open to all Universities and Polytechnics rather than just Oxford And Cambridge), had opened their gates to everyone.

The serious sailing competitions at Henley were almost over now. It was fun event time. Students (mostly), in beer barrel rafts and ramshackle home-made boats raced a chaotic course. Several boats disintegrated on contact with the water, and others were sunk in cheating manoeuvres that seemed perfectly acceptable to the judges on this occasion. Even the winners finally crossed the finishing line tape by swimming there. The effect on the fancy dress costumes (mostly of ludicrously prudish mock Victorian bathing gowns and dresses, was ruined by the large orange Mae West life vests the competitors were obliged to wear. The atmosphere was tremendous. This was carnival time. It was the last chance many students had to enjoy themselves before the final period of exam revision was upon them. Soon would dawn the day when lectures could no longer be skipped in favour of the pub, and essays actually had to be written and handed in to tutors, and books currently gathering dust in student lockers would finally have to be opened and read.

When the last raft’s crew crossed the line, Ace gate crashed an impromptu game of beach volleyball, and then joined the other players in the water to cool off. She still had her clothes on, but so did everyone else. No one cared.

Exhausted by the quick swim in the cold and strong current, Ace flopped down on the sand to relax and enjoy the Sun. A number of young male students, mostly from The Open University, came over to talk to her, and each one had only one idea on his mind, but this was disguised behind questions about were Ace was from, who her older friend was and what she was studying. "Perivale, The Professor, Life The Universe and Everything," Ace replied. She regretted the middle answer though, as some students assumed the ‘Professor’ must have been a lecturer. With knowing nods and winks they indicated that she wouldn’t be the last student to get so intimate with the tutors with exams looming so close. Ace protested her innocence with growing anger, but the lads crowding round her in increasing numbers seemed to approve of the idea.

Ace felt pleased to be getting so much attention, but she also felt slightly crowded and claustrophobic. She wasn’t used to having so many admirers. This was the first real encounter with a group of her own people since she had been a child, so long before Iceworld, Kane and The Doctor entered her life. How long ago was that now ....? She pulled herself instinctively away from that line of thought.

The coldness from the water was starting to make her shiver a little and she noticed for the first time that her wet tee shirt was starting to go embarrassingly transparent. She knew now what was making the boys so eager to make her acquaintance. One of the older male camera happy spectators also seemed unusually interested in her in particular, even though there were several other attractive females on the beach and still in the water. "Pervert", Ace thought, glaring at him, defiantly, half expecting to see him turn away in shame and guilt. He continued to stare at her for a moment, his gaunt face expressionless. He slowly, deliberately adjusted his tie, and casually walked away. Ace decided to pop back to the TARDIS to get changed and dried off before the proper racing started again in the early evening. She felt alone again now. Of all the worlds she had been to, Earth was the most unsettling to her now. Ace felt alienated and a litter alone. She decided that she really wanted to see the Professor again now, as soon as possible.

******

Ushers struggled in increasing panic and anxiety to find the few remaining ‘Land & Park’ places to put the incoming vehicles waiting to land. A few of the landing attendants were cheerfully accepting bribes from those who were not patient enough to queue much longer. There had now been a few minor collisions and scrapes involving the impressive and expensive looking vehicles, but the biggest problem by far remained the presense of the scruffy blue 1950’s police call box model that no one recalled ever allowing in to park in the first place. Each time the staff attempted to move the vehicle by force, it vanished before their eyes and reappeared in another section of the car park. Twice it had secured a landing strip in the ‘disabled pilot’s Only zone’, and at one point it appeared from nowhere in the Lord mayor Of London’s reserved and exclusive landing zone, just as his Lordship was about to land there in his Golden Coach. His Chauffeur had just managed to lift the Coach to sufficient height in time to avoid catastrophe and scandal.

The Security Division were angrily insisting yet again down the Tannoy system that the owner of the police box should report to the Car Port immediately, but nobody was coming so far. They attempted to put a magnetic clamping seal around the box, but it continued to leap into invisibility before reappearing in some other section of the landing area. The army Bomb Squad were called in, on account of the alarming grating noise made by the police box as it appeared and disappeared, and after much chasing around after the craft, they concluded that it wasn’t really likely to injure anybody. The plain clothed Bomb Squad team remained present, in the event of the situation changing, and alert, but inactive. The Police and security team also decide that they should just sit the situation out, and wait until the vehicle owner returned, and then discreetly arrest him. The machine wasn’t going to allow itself to be towed away, but its driver certainly would be taken away. The police leaned on their cars, ate doughnuts and drank their coffee, warmed up on thermic tablets that they all carried. They laughed and watched in fascination, as the blue jumping bean box did its unpredictable dance around the car park, and took bets on where it might materialise next.

******

Arene was watching the Doctor very closely, as instructed. She had been ordered with no advance notification by agents representing Lord Heirom, to watch over him and ensure that his field rendezvous with agent Maxil went according to plan. (The ‘plan’ Arene was not to be informed of in any detail). The Doctor seemed oblivious so far of her presense, and the whereabouts of the nine other field agents accompanying her. She was happy about that.. There were far to many humans around for comfort. The short lived primitives were not to become aware of the activity of such a powerful race in their midst. The new technology of the cold-fusion cell might well have struck the three score and tens as a great leap forward, but to Gallifreyans it was the stuff of the dark ages. It was the job of a Time Lord to ensure that it stayed that way for now. One day, Earth would evolve to a mute form of scientific excellence one day, long after the impending Dalek wars, but only if Gallfrey allowed it.

Maxil was supposed to be here by now, she knew. He had travelled in by Time Ring too. If what was being said about Ichabod was true, then using TARDIS’s was far too dangerous. "Where are you, Max?" Arene mumbled to herself, impatiently. Maxil had heard that steps were to be taken to have him follwed. He swore to one of his confidants that he would take steps to ensure that he wasn’t shadowed. Arene smiled. She had been the confidant. She made sure that everyone knew that he was watching out for them, wherever he was. That would surely make the young hothead more cautious and discreet.

Arene was dark and sensual for a woman of six hundred and thirty three. She had the sultry elegance and exotic air of a gypsy about her. A few passers by had asked if she was the event’s on site fortune teller. "I know something of the future, but the vibes are all wrong this day’ she said to each such enquirer, with a smile and a voice like velvet.

******

Good, excellent. Two possible deaths for the price of one. Three, if Maxil eventually turned up. The girl believed to be accompanying The Doctor was here too, enjoying herself immensely in the company of the male student fraternity. Her relaxed manner indicated to the watchful Tarren, in the dark blue pin stripe suit, that she was still comfortably oblivious of the complicated machinations going on around her. Tarren saw the girl look at him in agitation and rage again, and smiled at her. Most Celestial Intervention Agency agents preferred to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible, but in public places it was sometimes useful to let the targets see you once in while. It made them nervous and uncomfortable with themselves without quite knowing why. If the girl moved away from him now, she would probably head back in the direction of The Doctor. That would then make spying on the pair of them so much easier.

Tarren kept fingering his camera, which was in actuality a powerful set of binoculars. It kept him from touching the pocket with the revolver in it too often. Tarren hated the gun. He wasn’t used to heavy Earth based firearms. The Magnum ‘44 was very heavy. He preferred much more sophisticated and messy ways of killing people, preferably slowly and with great pain, but murders committed here had to look as though they were committed by people, not alien life forms.

"Bloody savages", he growled every time he looked at someone passing by. He knew that he dare not fire the gun here. He would have to wait until The Doctor, Ace and Maxil went somewhere quiet and discreet to talk with more privacy.

The assassin smiled softly to himself as he turned the binocular-camera towards Arene, the chief agent of the officially recognised spying and operation. She had no idea that he was here yet. He would have to keep it that way. If necessary he would kill her too, in fact, he would probably do it even if it wasn’t strictly necessary.

******

A Time Lord walked past Arene. She didn’t know him, but they were immediately aware of each other’s presense. She grinned. She was watching The Doctor, and someone had been sent to watch her doing it. Doubtlessly, he was being watched as well. Fish, bigger fish, bigger fish still. Espionage was a viscous and endless food chain. "Remember, there's always somebody more paranoid than you are," she told herself.

"Don’t actually approach The Doctor," she had been ordered. "Ichabod expects Maxil to do that. You are there only to observe, and solve problems and to report back to your superiors. Do not intervene unless it becomes strictly necessary."

Arene took out a sketch-pad and started to prepare a standard, typical art student character study. She set her fusion brush to a light HB setting, by-passing menus for oil colours, pastels, and various inks, and made a series of drawings. She was aware every so often of the presense of gawkers, passers by and tourists who were curious to see her handiwork. When she made mistakes, Arene used the brush’s light sensitive eraser to clear the offending remarks away. She knew that if she wished, she could wipe out an entire page in an instant and begin again with a fresh A4 canvas. Only when she had finished and when she was permanently happy with her work would she grant the paper a permantation code, making accidental erasure impossible.

The madding crowd of aesthetic pleasure seekers watching her draw could see that one figure among the many she drew fascinated her more than any other. She made several studies of the little man in the question mark pullover who was now childishly building himself a large sand-castle. Despite the juvenile nature of the act, he looked very purposeful and serious. The Castle looked like nothing on Earth. The turrets were as rounded as minarets, and the whole edifice seemed to rise and jut out of an impossible cliff face. The detail was extraordinary. There seemed to be gothic shadows and a ghostly ethos to the whole structure. More astonishingly, he worked with dry, rather than wet sand, but it didn’t crumble apart. It was as though he balanced each grain delicately on top and beside each other grain. He built the whole thing quickly, though he didn’t seem to move too fast while he was being watched doing it, and no sand clung to him either. Most other people using the beach were covered in it.

Arene kept trying to draw The Doctor as he worked on his own project, but the essence of the man eluded her constantly. His moods changed so constantly. She attempted to sketch the castle too, but he kept adding more and more details that she couldn’t even grasp through her more accessible medium of expression. Was he really working in miniature gargoyles there too?

The Doctor went away briefly to discard his empty ice cream wrapper in a nearby littler bin that thanked him loudly for keeping beach tidy. The Doctor raised his hat and thanked the bin, and seemed disappointed when it merely repeated its tedious message to him rather than embarking in more meaningful discussion. Arene made the best of his brief absence to walk discreetly past the miniature cathedral of all sand-castles to inspect it more closely. There were letters before it; ‘Karn’. Arene smiled, and thought she recognised the style of art at last. She wondered how many people would now assume The Doctor’s name was Karn, rather than that Karn was a bleak and wretched planet he had occasionally visited.

Arene crept quickly away, back to her high vantage point on the observation promenade as the Doctor was now heading back to the sand-castle, but before he could get there, he, and Arene, saw a five year old male child run up to the castle and quite deliberately kicked it down. The castle crumbled instantly to dust in an explosion that threw sand over many people nearby, especially the youngster himself. It was as though the castle had destroyed itself willingly from the inside rather than subject itself passively to such an act of vandalism. The boy ran crying immediately to his mother who smacked him for getting messed up, and then smacked him again for crying, which only made him cry all the more.

The Doctor looked crestfallen to se the heap of sand that had been his handiwork. He sat down cross-legged beside the debris and stared mournfully at the water nearby, lost in his thoughts. Arene doubted if he would ever build sand castles again. She considered making a fresh sketch of him, but she felt as though she was intruding on his privacy by doing so. Besides, she reasoned, if she focused too much on him, the gawkers staring at her might realise that her interest in him was more than that of the observant artist.

Reluctantly, Arene erased her drawings of ‘The Doctor In Various States Of Melancholia’ to start working on a new subject. She chose ‘Portrait of a poseur’, the study of the young man in formal Oxford Blues flaunting a copy of Dostoyevski’s novel ‘Crime And Punishment’, which she rightly assumed was just for show.

The young man was sitting down in the woodlands, shaded and comfortable, by a large, gnarled wood, grim looking Oak tree. Arene was happy to divert her attention away from the Doctor for a while, though she kept looking back towards the beach to make sure he was still there. He was, but he was growing irritable, and restless. He kept moving about and changing his posture,. He crossed and uncrossed his legs repeatedly. Arene guessed he was probably worrying about his Earthling assistant, Dorothy, or as she preferred to be known, Ace.

The young poseur gave Arene no real interest really. He was just a shy gangly figure with a dribbling toothy fixation on attractive girls. He stared at them all with self-conscious and totally unsubtle lewd intent. Arene felt rather sorry for him. he was undoubtedly a nice, pleasant boy, as human men went, but his life was so obviously full of anecdotes about what other people said and did, (mostly in films and on TV.) that he had nothing interesting to say about himself. He had no experiences or life of his own worth relating. He borrowed stories from elsewhere. He was struggling to get into the literary classics to make himself seem more cultured and intelligent than he really was, but it was all just for image. His real interests lay undoubtedly in cheap tacky science fiction stories. Arene strongly suspected that he still lived with his parents, and always would do.

It was when she started sketching in the background detail around the poseur that Arene became worried. The tree that the young man was leaning against seemed decidedly out of place beside its neighbours. They were vibrant with greenery while it was showing the degree of yellowing that only comes to leaves in the early Autumn. Worse, while birds and squirrels and occasional pet dogs happily frolicked and pranced around the rest of the woodland, they all seemed to avoid this particular tree. One large, old Brindle Boxer dog, walked by a man who kept it on a leash, growled assertively as he tried to get it to walk past the tree, and pulled back sharply on its lead and choke-chain. Eventually, the owner gave in tot he dogs wishes and changed his route to by-pass the tree altogether.

Arene had sensed the presense of something bad in the air all day. Now she knew what it was. She activated the radio in the tip of her fusion brush. "Condition Omega. I repeat. Condition Omega." The other nine Time Lord CIA agents heard her signal, and they moved quickly from their observation posts towards her location. Arene looked down towards the young man cheerfully grinning at every girl in a dress or skirt. She wanted to shout to him, and warn him to move away, but she dared not.

******

Tarren heard the Condition Omega signal, as he had a small illegal receiver secretly tuned into the CIA field division’s frequency. He decided to act immediately. He’d expected The Doctor to have returned to the TARDIS by this time anyway, but the fool seemed intent to sit still in the sun and risk getting burned by it like a common mortal. Tarren knew exactly how to speed things up a little. He got hold of the Earthling boy who had destroyed The Doctor’s castle. The boy had wandered off from his Mother, sulking because she had hit him and told him off. Tarren told the boy he would get some toffees if he would deliver a message to the man in the silly question mark clothes. The boy looked at Tarren suspiciously at first, having been warned of the dangers of talking to strangers, but his greed got the better of him. "Where’s the toffees then?"

"The man will give them to you, sonny. Ask him for some jelly babies. I know he used to carry them and I expect he still does. Now, listen closely. This is what you must tell him. ...."

The boy ran towards The Doctor even before Tarren had finished the message. He patted the new stranger heavily on the back. Mister, hey Mister. Sir. You’d better go and look at that Tar Dish of yours. It’s behaving all funny."

The Doctor leapt to his feet and stood reeling with surprise. He planted his hand firmly on the boy’s shoulder and demanded to know who had sent him. The boy looked round to point out his benefactor, but the man had gone.

"Was it a girl?" asked the man in growing apprehension. The boy shook his head and The Doctor sensed that he might by now have been wishing he hadn’t started delivering such messages., but the boy’s eyes suddenly lit up and he asked for ‘Jelly rabies’. "He said you would have some for me. He promised."

The man smiled as he picked up his brolly from the sand with one hand and took his hat from his pocket with the other one. "Only for good boys who don’t demolish other people’s houses and castles."

Without another word, or glance back The Doctor set off, walking, and half-running, towards the car park landing zone. He realised for the first time that he had come quite a distance from The TARDIS. He looked around at the sea of faces roaming around Henley hoping against hope to spot Ace, but he suspected that she was now most likely back at the TARDIS especially if trouble was brewing in that vicinity.

The Doctor climbed the steps leading up to the promenade, and looked briefly at the woodland he wished he had found time to explore more thoroughly, and walked on.

******

Ace was wet, covered in goose pimples, and tired. She thought of cheeseburgers, sleep and a chance to relax for an hour or two, possibly even to sleep. She was therefore naturally quite concerned to find that the TARDIS was not where she had last seen it. For a moment she reflected with dread on the awful possibility that The Doctor might have abandoned her. She knew that she was only the latest of several travelling companions in his adventures. She had briefly met Mel, her immediate predecessor, but had the others left The Doctor voluntarily as Mel had done, or had he left some of them without warning or advance notice? No, that was silly thinking, she told herself. The TARDIS was here somewhere. It had to be.

Ace spotted the Rolls-Royce she had had admired so much on first arriving on the planet, and then she knew that her home had gone. She trembled a little and stood paralysed in a feeling of helplessness she had never known before, until she saw and heard the TARDIS materialising in the distance, in the bus and coach landing strip. Ace wondered how it had got there. Had The Doctor been gone for minutes or centuries?

Ace ran across the tarmac of the landing zone towards the blue box, pulling her key from her soggy tee shirt on its neck string as she squelched along. She was so intent on getting there and solving the mystery that she failed to hear the angry shouting and yelling going on behind her from the posse of police officers and security officials running towards her. They had been caught unawares by the latest landing. As the machine was hopping around so unpredictably they had failed to stake out every possible landing area.

They missed their chances again. The girl stepped inside the box and locked the door just before they got there. They knocked and thumped on the door, demanding that she come out immediately, but there was no reply. They eventually decided to play the waiting game again. If the girl flew away in her box, good riddance to her, but if she came back out, they would be ready for her. After all, she couldn’t possibly stay in such a little wardrobe forever. It would be so claustrophobic in there.

"It’s me. I’m back." Ace called out for The Professor through the echoing spacious chambers around the control; room. The lack of reply strongly suggested that he was still out. Ace walked over to the central hexagonal control stack column. It was switched off and cold. Ace wondered if the TARDIS had decided to go off and have a few adventures all on its own, but she dismissed the idea as ludicrous before it had barely germinated.

Ace went to her own bedroom, where the heating activated as it recognised that she was present again. The little puddles of water left from her clothes and training shoes quickly evaporated behind her. Ace took her wet tee shirt off, making noises like ‘Yeauch!" as it clung to her in a clammy and unpleasant way. She threw her clothes into a laundry basket and slipped into near identical dry, clean ones. As she pulled her new tee-shirt over her head, Ace heard the distinctive power surge of the TARDIS controls activating, as the Time Machine started up in a fresh dematerialisation mode. "Professor?" Ace shouted urgently, as she ran towards the console room door, tucking the shirt into her black skirt as she went.

"I’m afraid The Doctor isn’t in just now, Dorothy," said the man blocking the doorway. Could I possibly take a message?"

Ace seemed less surprised by the invasion of her living space than her intruder had hoped for or expected. She glared at him coldly and demanded through an extraordinary barrage of swear words that he never referred to her as Dorothy again. Only then did she insist on knowing the identity of the tall, blond curly haired chubby faced man standing in her path.

"My name is Maxil," he said, with a clearly false smile. He looked down at her as though she was some interesting, but unpleasant test tube phenomena, or the last trilobite in the pet shop window, but in fact he was already beginning to like the girl. He was intrigued by her just from the description of her in the few unclassified reports and files on The Doctor he had been allowed to study. The files said nothing of her air of calm defiance, and seething aggression. She reminded Maxil so much of himself in his younger days. Perhaps it washer casual use of words like ‘scumbag’ and ‘tosspot’ that appealed to him. Most people were inclined to defend themselves against his approaches. Ace was coiled as tightly as a spring, ready to attack. She seemed motivated by sheer rage and bitterness and adrenaline.

Maxil had normally hit people by this time. That always helped to get their attention early on and gave him the upper hand, but Ace was a girl, and Maxil had some scruples left. He was out of his depth here and he knew it. He wasn’t sure quite what to do.

Then the girl with few scruples of her own hit him. Her punch lacked force, but it came fast and knocked him sprawling back several feet.

"Did you watch me getting dressed, you creep?"

Maxil stepped back a little bit further. He found himself completely on the defensive now. For once he found himself protesting against violence and trying to prevent conflict as quickly as possible. Ace looked as though she might go for another strike at any moment.

The TARDIS was materialising and landing again. The noise and slight vibration caused seemed to calm both protagonists down a little.

"Is this your doing?" Ace asked accusingly.

Maxil shook his head. "No. I had nothing to do with it. Galifrey are trying to contact The Doctor. The various signals and frequencies and signals that are being directed at the TARDIS are confusing the TARDIS’s receivers, and the machine is becoming alarmed. She is trying to draw The Doctor’s attention her own way."

Some men were banging on the door outside, demanding that he girl come out immediately.

"We seem to have someone’s attention anyway," Ace said.

Maxil stepped round and walked out to the main control console. Ace followed him and arrived just as he switched on the external observation camera. He moved around operating the control panel as though he knew it intimately. Ace had travelled with the Doctor for a few years now, but she would still have had difficulty operating most of the unlabelled switches or identifying many of their functions.

There was a growing mob of men in various official uniforms immediately outside the TARDIS. They did not look very happy. From the distance, other people were approaching, attracted by the commotion. Maxil found himself using some of the new swearwords he had learned from the girl. "This could be a lot more difficult than I had previously imagined."

"You’re a Time Lord, aren’t you?" Ace asked as they resigned themselves to waiting for the TARDIS to move again before they tried to escape and look for the Doctor.

"Yes. Does it show?"

"Yeah, and not just a Time Lord. You look familiar. Perhaps there are some features that you all share?"

"Try again, Ace. You’re thinking on the right lines."

"My God, I have seen you before, haven’t I?"

"Not directly, no, unless it’s in my future."

"Where then?" Ace asked, finally running out of clues.

"In a photograph album perhaps?" Maxil said, helpfully, holding up a fading picture of Melanie Bush. "Notice anything about the man standing beside her?"

"That’s The Doctor ... He told me that he used to look like that, before he regenerated. He looks just like ...." Ace’s eyes bulged and she seemed out of breath for a moment. Maxil grinned. he finally had the girl dazed and confused, just where he wanted her.

"It is you," Ace gasped. You are the Doctor."

"No, really, I’m not. I just look like him. On a planet where most people come from the same genetic cultural DNA pool, such physical resemblances can be quite commonplace. Confusing, I know, but commonplace."

Ace was still not convinced. She frowned suspiciously. "Do clones always dress the same as each other, too?"

"We’re not clones, Ace. It’s just a genetic coincidence. In my last incarnation I looked much more handsome, and not a bit like any of The Doctor’s incarnations."

"So why are you wearing his clothes? I’ve seen them in the wardrobes. It’s the same clothes as in the photo as well."

"Do you like them? I find them quite stylish. Especially this big red and yellow coat."

"What exactly do you want, Maxil, apart from any sense of fashion? Why are you here?"

"I’m here to warn the Doctor. He’s in terrible danger. So are you. So is everyone, unless we act quickly."

Ace yawned,. and shrugged her shoulders. "So what’s new?"

******

The CIA field agents moved towards the car park, following The Doctor cautiously, but someone was ahead of them, moving much more quickly, using the fast flowing crowd of people expertly, to cover his movements from Arene and her team.

Arene herself was instructed to be among the last of the official agents to leave her post,. She watched the Oak tree with a growing sense that it was no ordinary tree but a TARDIS she was looking at, and no ordinary TARDIS either.

******

Gary Woods wriggled uncomfortably. His bum was going numb and his eyes were getting heavy in their sockets as he smiled and waved to the pretty girls going by. His cheery optimism gave way to despair and depression as it always did as the day wore on for him. He knew now that he would be going home alone again tonight as every night, telling his Mother that he had had a pleasant enough sort of day of it. The trouble was that it was no different to most other days in his life, boring and lifeless. He flicked the novel open and struggled to look like he was reading it closely. The tree he was leaning against seemed to move and slide about behind him, just slightly. He occasionally touched the tree bark to see if it felt any more smooth or jagged. Sometimes it felt warm and soft, at other times it felt cold, hard and metallic. At one stage it seemed to tickle him a little.

When he felt as though he tree had tapped him on the shoulder, Gary finally felt sufficiently spooked top move to another tree, but as he stood up, the wood from the tree rippled out and grabbed him tightly by the shoulders with talons of tree bark. "Read some more of your book to me. I like Dostoyevski. Especially the bit about hell being a small dark place full of spiders."

Gary struggled to free himself, but the tree grabbed him in a bear hug. The branches hadn’t moved. The trunk of the tree itself seemed to be swallowing him and absorbing him. He wanted to scream but he couldn’t. The roots of the tree rose up through the soil throwing earth and small stones several feet around. The claw sharp tendrils punctured their way effortlessly into Gary’s feet through his leather boots, and thin slivers of root and branch continued climbing up through his legs, using his veins and arteries and his entire nervous system as canals and roads until they reached his waist, where they expanded outwards, splitting him wide open from within. He finally learned how to scream again.

Several people saw the end come to Gary Woods. There was widespread panic, and many people collapsed with shock. Two men rushed forward to help the boy, not thinking at all of their own safety, as the whole giant tree began to sink down rapidly into a widening cloud of earth, grass and blood, as though drilling its way to the centre of the world. When the debris settled they found only the shattered legs of the boy, and the tattered remains of his book beside a bottomless chasm. Several people began calling out for a doctor. Others started looking round frantically for their family and friends, ready to get away from Henley as quickly as possible.

Arene fled from her post, feeling quite sick inside. She knew that she had to get to The Doctor urgently now. She ran out towards the car park, filled with people who were only just becoming aware of the tragedy. Many were starting to leave, but others were still coming in, and there in the midst of the confusion Arene saw The Doctor ahead of her by about thirty yards, but behind The Doctor, though still some way ahead of her, she saw quite plainly, the boy who had just been eaten by the tree. He was running towards The Doctor, or was he? No, he was running towards the man in the pin stripe suit who was now right behind The Doctor. Arene recognised the man from somewhere, but she wasn’t sure of the precise circumstances.

Arene wanted to call to her men, but with so much confusion, and so many people around already panicking as word of the death of the boy got round, she knew she dared not. She knew it was all up to Maxil now, but he still hadn’t even been seen. She hoped he would arrive soon.

Arene made use of a desperate gambit to secure The Doctor’s attention. She cried out to him in a plaintive cry of desperation. "Professor, come quickly. Help me." The Doctor spun round to look for her. His eyes wide with surprise and alarm. Arene smiled. That got his attention all right. She had spent days mastering Ace’s vocal signals from Matrix recordings of the girl.

The Doctor looked around in agitation trying to locate the source of the cry for help. Arene waved, but because he was looking for Ace he missed it, and the man in the pin stripe suit distracted his attention further by pointing a revolver at him. Arene could see that there was a problem ahead of her, but she couldn’t make out exactly what was wrong. The crowd around her was now much more aware that something terrible had occurred and panic was now widespread. Hysteria was setting in.

The man with the gun aimed it straight at The Doctor’s head. Though The Doctor tried to ask what was going on, it was becoming quite clear to him that this man wasn’t going to answer any questions. He was just going to shoot.

The gangly youth was closing in now, but not fast enough. Arene found herself urging him to move faster. He did. His arm extended out ahead of him, half tentacle, half tree branch. The fist on the end turned into a solid blacksmith’s anvil that cracked down fast on the would be killer’s skull, sending him crumpling to the ground. The gun went off, sending the bullet harmlessly into the air. The Doctor bent down to examine the body, and looked up into the eyes of the boy as the arm reverted to a human shape once again. The woman called to The Doctor again, using her own voice now. "Get to your TARDIS. It’s your only chance." She took out a revolver of her own and fired at The Doctor. That she just missed him told him that it was a mere warning shot, but he heeded the advise and started to run.. The creature turned to look at the woman as she also started running, hoping that in pursuing her, Ichabod would unwittingly give The Doctor the extra time he needed.

The Doctor found the place where the TARDIS had been, and looked round in fear and distress. After a few minutes spent nervously rummaging through his pockets, he produced a small matchbox sized sensor reading devise and switched it on. The compass like needle pointed towards the ‘Traders Only’ landing zone, so The Doctor started walking that way.

The little sensor started bleeping in a shrill tone. The needle spun round crazily for a few minutes and then refocused on a site somewhere near the motorbike landing strip, in the opposite direction to that in which The Doctor had been walking.

As he finally got near the relocated TARDIS and took out his key to open the door, several angry looking men grabbed hold of him.

"Is this your vehicle, Sir?" asked a policeman.

The Doctor doffed his hat and smiled sheepishly. "Yes, thank you for looking after it for me. Now if you’ll just let me go, there is something in there I need."

"We’d like you to answer a few questions first," said another man, menacingly and impatiently.

"You want to know why it’s jumping about all over the place like that, I suppose?" the Doctor said, sarcastically.

"Among other things, yes, Sir."

"Well, I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the faintest idea. I can find out though, and put it right for you, if you’ll just let me get inside for a few minutes."

"No, Sir. We can’t allow you to do that. Besides, the young lady went in, and she hasn’t exactly been able to stop it, has she?"

"Ace is inside?" The little man seemed relieved, at least until he spotted the policemen taking out their notebooks to record the name of the suspect girl as ‘Ace."

Ignoring requests for his own name, The Doctor asked whether one of the policemen had sent a young boy to warn him that the TARDIS was behaving so oddly. The men seemed confused by the name ‘TARDIS’.

"Never mind," sighed The Doctor suspecting that the man who had just been killed before his very eyes might have been the man who warned him about how The TARDIS was behaving.

The Doctor started wondering how he might escape the authorities on this occasion. From behind them there were shouts and cries and screaming noises, and a few gunshots.

"You should be out there helping those people," The Doctor said. "There has already been one death today." The police insisted that they were going to retain him as their chief suspect in whatever was going on.

A pair of handcuffs appeared, but The Doctor struggled remarkably well for a man of such small proportions and the scrum of bodies around him collapsed in on itself, but the men were up on their feet quickly, and The Doctor doubted whether he could reach the TARDIS door before they grabbed hold of him again. He feared the worst. He shouted for Ace to open the TARDIS door, hoping that her presense might distract them and surprise them enough to enable his escape.

As the two policemen who had ended up handcuffing themselves together struggled and fell like unchoreographed Siamese twins, the TARDIS door opened and the men fell back in surprise as The Doctor had expected. The Doctor leapt forward, but he timed it badly, and collided with the man who was just coming out through the doorway. Both men stumbled as the police closed in on them. The police froze momentarily as confusion set like jelly in their minds. They hadn’t expected to see the tall harlequin. They had only seen the girl get into the police box, so they wondered if she had been crammed in there with the tall man all along.

"Like looking in yesterday’s mirror, eh, Doctor," Maxil grinned, inanely.

"Still the same old sheep in wolve’s clothing, I see, " The Doctor replied matter of factly, as though he saw Maxil every day.

Before Maxil could think of a suitable sharp reply the urgency of their situation dawned on the Time Lords as the arresting officers surrounded them, clearly over the initial surprise of the clown car like effect of the blue box.

Maxil leapt back, dragging the little man along by lapels of his jacket. "Come on, inside. Quickly."

The policemen had moved back again, or rather, they had turned to face the other way. A few policemen produced guns, and pointed them at the young wimpish looking student with the greasy hair; wimpish bar for the flame thrower fingers, and the machine gun bullets that sprayed from his mouth with every breath.

People ran blindly every which way, not knowing how to escape more effectively. If anything, the confusion and panic actually reduced the number of casualties and fatalities for the day.

Ace came to the TARDIS door and looked out, eager to know what was going on. "Get back inside," Maxil and The Doctor shouted, simultaneously.

Ace stood right where she was, staring at them both indignantly.

"She won’t do as we say, you know," The Doctor said, shaking his head.

Maxil barged past the Doctor and physically shoved Ace into the TARDIS, despite her threats and protests, which were cut off as Maxil slammed the door on her. "She bloody well will you know," he said, rejoining The Doctor.

The policeman who had first tried to handcuff The Doctor fired his gun at the monster boy, who smiled and immediately burnt him to a crisp where he stood. He never fell over,. He just fell away to ashes on his feet in seconds. His clothes were left unsinged among the smouldering ashes that remained.

Arene, badly burnt and mangled, and barely able to stand, leapt forward shouting to The Doctor and everyone else to run and get away quickly. The creature turned and pointed towards her. From his shirt, a pellet sized button flew off and imbedded itself in her head, between her eyes. The pellet detonated, and Arene vanished in an instant miniature non-radioactive fusion blast nuclear explosion.

"That’s the last of your fellow spies, Maxil," The monster shouted. "The others went the same way."

Maxil wanted to lunge forward to attack the monster but The Doctor put a hand on his shoulder. "No, not now,."

The policemen continued to shoot, but The Doctor ordered them to cease fire immediately. His voice was so commanding that many of them lowered their guns immediately. One man didn’t listen until Maxil effortlessly disarmed him by casually breaking his wrist.

The Doctor tutted in disgust at Maxil’s actions, and spoke out to the men. "It’s us he wants. Not you. Get everyone away and stay back yourselves."

Such reasoning made sense to them, so the police eagerly started pushing back those people not already running away.

Ace barely had time to register her contempt at being denied a slice of the action yet again. The whole appeal of travelling with The Professor was the promise of getting into a god scrap. True, she had planed on this as being a quiet vacation, but she was glad it hadn’t turned out that way. The external scanner was still on, showing a young man breathing fire and bullets. The people nearby were being evacuated by the police. The creature was slowly and relentlessly moving forward towards The Doctor, Maxil and the TARDIS,. The Doctor looked overawed at the sheer magnitude of the firepower before him. Maxil looked equally worried, but less surprised. He was now physically restraining The Doctor to prevent him from walking up to The Monster in order to engage it in conversation. Maxil looked as though he was trying to get The Doctor back to the safety of The TARDIS.

Ace kept her eyes on the monitor screen as she reached out for the large red handled door control lever,, planning to open the door again just long enough to let the two Time Lords in. She was totally shocked when the creature started to grow larger, and changed into a floating, hovering, flying colossal version of the Rolls Royce air car.

The Doctor was equally astonished at the scale and speed of the transformation. The beast machine circled over him and talked down to its prey. "Stop me. Help me, please, Doctor. Don’t let this continue."

The giant car flew over the Time Lords in a roar of full thruster engines that drowned out The Doctor’s assuring promise to do all he could to prevent further death and destruction.

Ace saw the car growing bigger and bigger until it completely filled the monitor screen. Once again she moved towards the door controls. She knew she had to get out there and help them.

*******

The machine orbited the TARDIS , and just as a vacuum cleaner lifts up dust, the police box shaped time machine was sucked into its underside cargo hatch, along with various bits of rubbish, dirt, and bloodstained paper. The Rolls Royce briefly became a giant blue police Box and then dematerialised altogether.

"Ace!" shouted The Doctor helplessly.

********

The TARDIS lurched violently from side to side, like an elevator with its cable snapping. Ace’s stomach seemed to drop away with the sudden lifting sensation. She fell headlong against the Control console, and then under it, as The TARDIS was set down with a thud, and wobbled as though about to fall over on its side. Ace faintly heard the cloister bell ringing faintly over the deafening roaring noises going on outside the TARDIS.

********

Maxil grabbed The Doctor firmly by the shoulder, half shaking him out of his despair, half sympathising with him and comforting him in his distress. "We have to get back to Galifrey. There’s nothing more you can do from here."

The Doctor turned round to face him, ands the anguish seemed to drain from his facial expression in seconds, replaced by a look of fierce determination. "Where’s your TARDIS?"

Maxil shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry, I don’t have it with me. Ichabod ate it."

The name puzzled The Doctor for a moment or two. Ichabod. I remember an Ichabod. Sounds familiar." With a eureka click of his fingers, it dawned on him. "The man who campaigned to save me from compulsory regeneration. Is that who we’re fighting?"

Maxil nodded. "I’m afraid so, yes."

"Then something must have gone terribly wrong. He was such a kind man."

"Maxil tugged at The Doctor's sleeve. "We’ll discuss all that later. We have to get out of here first."

"How? Do we just catch a seventy-three bus to Central Galifrey?"

Maxil groaned. "We use these." He held up the two time rings.

The Doctor frowned and spoke in biter sarcasm. "Ah well, at least he didn’t eat those as well. He probably avoids snacks between meals, I expect."

The policemen were returning, having run around after survivors and guiding the paramedic ambulance cars as to the safest landing places, they turned their attention back to their two remaining suspects. They arrived just as the suspects seemed to be meddling with large heavy copper rings on their wrists, just before they vanished. They quickly turned their minds back to the problem of dealing with the many shocked, traumatised, wounded and despairing people around them, and planned out in their minds how best to report the terrible incident to their superiors in a way that covered up any mention of monsters and invisible flying machines.

******

As the noise and vibrations died down, Ace got to her feet. She was covered in bruises and small scratches, and felt as though she had recovered from a car crash. Her ankle ached slightly where she had twisted it, but she was still able to stand on it. She walked, wincing and limping at first to the view screen, and saw only darkness there. At first, she thought the monitor had become damaged and that the picture had been lost, but the red indicator lights suggested that it was still working perfectly well. It was the world outside the TARDIS that lay in darkness. Ace wondered briefly if she was in outer space, but she doubted it. Stars would have been visible in the depths of space.

She felt utterly alone. The silence around her was the most unsettling feeling she had ever had. For a little while she stayed put, reasoning that the TARDIS was the safest place to stay. The few sensors that she could operate indicated that there was a life supportive, breathable atmosphere outside, and she was becoming insatiably curious. Ace sprang into action, just as she thought The Professor would expect her to do. She put on her leather jacket with its display of badges on the back, and pocketed two of her latest (I promise I won’t make any more, Professor) Nitro Nine grenade canisters,, grabbed a large torch from a nearby provisions roundel, and slowly, cautiously, opened the TARDIS door.

- LORD TIME Divided into thirteen chapters, each with it's own link. CHAPTER BY CHAPTER - LT1 LT2  LT3 LT4 LT5    LT6   LT7  LT8    LT9      LT10    LT11   LT12 LT12b LT13

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