DOCTOR WHO - THE TWIN DILEMMA By Eric Saward 1 Home Time The house stood on Lydall Street.

It was part of a beautifully prese rved Georgian terrace, its graceful facade as pleasing today as when it was firs t built in 1810, some five hundred years earlier. In fact, Lydall Street was the only Georgian terrace left standing in the metropolis. It was also the only str eet with houses built of brick. To the people who lived in the flameproof, plast ic buildings of the city, Lydall Street had enormous charm, an incredible sense of history and a tactile quality missing from their own mirror-smooth, vinyl env ironment. The reality of living there was, of course, quite different. The house s were draughty, uncomfortable and cost a fortune to maintain. Although it was a n honour to be allowed to occupy such a dwelling, it was also vital that you wer e rich. Some people said it was better if you were mad. The truth was, of course , it was better if you were both. The family who occupied number twenty-five pos sessed the above qualifications in great abundance. But they also possessed a mu ch greater and more precious gift - genius. The Sylvest family, for it was they who occupied number twenty-five, were all gifted mathematicians. Professor Archi e Sylvest was a tall man with a grey, matted thatch of hair that wouldn't lie ne atly however much it was combed. His face was florid and his waist thick from dr inking too much Voxnic (a delicious alcoholic beverage made from fermented visio n seeds). As it was again chic to be fat, and, as Voxnic was this season's most fashionable drink, Archie was able to pat his paunch with considerable pride as he ordered yet another round. In fact, Archie should have been totally happy. Hi s wife, Nimo, was a stimulating companion. He loved his work at the University. Wallowed in the company of his students. Revelled in the respect shown by his fe llow lecturers. Loved drinking too much Voxnic with computer programmer Vestal S mith, a person of deep warmth, deep personal understanding and even deeper blue eyes. In fact, Archie would have been totally happy if it hadn't been for one th ing: he was frightened to go home. For there were his twin sons. Romulus and Rem us Sylvest were twelve year old identical twins. Such was their precise mirror i mage of each other, even their parents were occasionally confused. This gave the

twins enormous pleasure and they would go out of their way to create even furthe r embarrassment. The trouble was, they didn't know when to stop and they would g o on and on and on. Their insistence verged on the psychotic. For a while Archie and Nimo wondered what the blending of their genes had created, but slowly, pai nfully, the truth emerged - the twins, like themselves, were gifted mathematicia ns. Unfortunately the genetic mix that had provided the twins with their talent did not cover other areas of their intellectual development. In many ways they w ere dumb. And when it came to emotional maturation, it had required several psyc hologists and a battery of complex tests to establish the evidence that there ha d been any. The truth was that their genius had done little to enhance them as h uman beings. Instead their gift sat on them like some congenital malformation, d istorting the shape and symmetry of their personality. But unlike a club foot or a hunchback, which could be surgically corrected, their disfigurement had prove d incurable. They would forever remain immature mischief-makers with the mathema tical ability to destroy the universe. Archie knew this and it terrified him. Ni mo knew it too, and, like her husband, she had turned her back on the problem ho ping it would go away. Archie coped by trying to swamp his responsibility in a s ea of Voxnic in the company of computer programmer Vestal Smith. Nimo consumed h er time a little more productively in the accumulation of academic degrees. But even she was beginning to wonder whether embarking on a fifth Ph.D was really a worthwhile way for a grown-up person to spend their time. The house was quiet. A rchie stared at the reflection of his tired face in the bathroom mirror and wond ered whether there were any poisons that would defy the pathologist's skill. He found it therapeutic, while combing his hair, to plan the demise of his children . When Archie had first mentioned his macabre preoccupation to his psychiatrist, he had expected cries of outrage and despair, along with a prescription to rais e his dose of Mestobam to five hundred milligrams per hour. But instead, the ana lyst had sighed, switched on an ancient recording of a Bartok string quartet, li t a cigarette and said, somewhat bored, 'Infanticide is a very common fantasy am ongst the intelligentsia. In fact,' he continued, pausing only to fill his lungs with smoke, 'I only become worried when a patient doesn't harbour the desire to murder a close relation.' Archie had felt horrified by this news. The thought t hat most of his friends and colleagues stalked the metropolis with murder in the ir hearts was one thing, but the revelation that his fantasy was ordinary induce d a mental relapse requiring many months of deep and intensive analysis. It wasn 't until a full year later that Archie felt able to return to the thoughts of mu rdering his children. This had been prompted by remarks his psychiatrist had mad e one dank winter morning, when Archie was feeling smugly at peace with the worl d. 'You know, Sylvest, your psyche has become lopsided,' the doctor had said, re aching for yet another of his specially made cigarettes. 'Your problem is that y ou lack feelings of guilt, anguish, turmoil.' He paused for a moment and blew a smoke ring. Archie watched, impressed by the psychiatrist's skill. 'You are too calm. Someone of your intellectual ability requires a damper, a neurosis, to com plement the creative side of their personality.' Archie had looked puzzled. He h ad spent a fortune having himself straightened out. Now the man who had helped h im achieve his cheerful, contented disposition, was telling him he was too happy . What does the fool mean! Archie pondered, undecided whether to sue the doctor for malpractice, or simply punch him on the nose. But before he could make up hi s mind, the psychiatrist had said, 'Your life is too cosy. You are far too gifte d to spend your days regurgitating tried and tested facts to your students. Too dynamic to waste your evenings in front of the viddy-screen.' The doctor leant f orward and stared directly into Archie's eyes. 'You are a theoretical mathematic ian. It is time you went back to your proper work!' Poor Archie gazed at the tin y, ruptured blood vessels in the corneas of his accuser's eyes and knew that wha t had just been said was true. His feeling of well-being was a lie. Original tho ught had become alien to him. He had grown lazy, undisciplined. Archie's face sa gged as feelings of guilt began to course through him once more. 'Feeling guilty isn't enough!' The doctor's voice stabbed at him .'You once told me you hated y our children.' Archie nodded. 'Then do something about it! Negative neurosis eat s at the very being of a person. Everyone hates their children, wife, mother or

father for one reason or another. To want them dead is not enough. You must do s omething about it!' The words echoed inside Archie's head as he wondered whether his analyst wasn't moonlighting for Murder Incorporated.

'Well...' said Archie, somewhat stiffly, 'you prescribe that I should kill my ch ildren?' 'No ...' The psychiatrist slouched back in his chair. 'I want you to th ink positively about killing them. Imagining them dead isn't enough. In your min d, you must work out a way of committing the perfect murder.' 'And then?' 'And t hen you will have power over your fantasy. When that occurs, you will be able to control it. Turn it to work positively for you. You understand?' Archie didn't. 'I know that you love your children, but you are also jealous of them. That's w hy you want them dead. But if in your mind you can also kill them, then you will have turned a negative neurosis into a positive one. By seeing your fantasy for what it is, you will come to understand your jealousy.' Archie thought for a mo ment. 'But should I find a way of committing the perfect murder, and then decide to carry it out, what will happen?' The psychiatrist smiled. 'If your crime is perfect, then no-one will know. But should you have made a mistake, then you wil l go to prison for the rest of your natural life... And I will lose a very lucra tive client.' Archie involuntarily reached for one of the doctor's cigarettes, l it it, then coughed. Although he hadn't understood what the analyst had said, it would give him a great deal to think about. 'You may go now,' said the doctor d ismissively. '1 will see you the same time on Thursday.' In front of his bathroo m mirror, Archie continued to idly comb his hair. The conversation with his psyc hiatrist had taken place some months earlier. He still didn't fully understand w hat had been said and neither had he worked out a way of committing the perfect murder. Although his guilt had returned with a vengeance, and he still hated the twins, he had at least started to work again, which gave him a certain satisfac tion. All in all, life had become much as it was a year ago, except for one thin g: he had developed a taste for specially made cigarettes. As usual, Archie's ha ir remained impervious to the activity of the comb and he gave up. Instead he se t to work on a large blackhead he had been cultivating. As his stubby fingers pu mmelled and massaged the blocked pore, his concentration was interrupted by the bang of the front door. Nimo had gone out without saying goodbye to the twins. A rchie knew this would cause offence and now dreaded to say goodnight to them him self. The offending pore liberated, Archie slipped on his best evening jacket an d glanced at himself in the mirror. Pleased with what he saw, he then made his w ay along the hall towards the twins' bedroom. Downstairs he could hear the gentl e whirr of well-oiled machinery - the android babysitter had arrived. Archie smi led. He knew the twins hated androids. Androids had no sense of their own import ance and therefore were impossible to embarrass. It will drive them wild with fr ustration! he thought. As he approached the twin's room, he slowed his pace. His nerve was going. So it was with some trepidation he tapped on their bedroom doo r. Not waiting for them to reply, he pushed it open and entered. Poor Archie was n't very good at pretending. The smile that covered his face would have caused a cat to laugh. His mouth was twisted and strained and the muscles in his cheeks twitched with the effort of keeping his lips apart. The smile itself resembled a terrible razor slash, his red lips the open wound, the white teeth standing in for the exposed bone. 'Hallo, boys,' he said, attempting to maintain the smile. This made him sound like some tenth rate ventriloquist, the fixed smile preventi ng him from moving his lips and forming his words properly. Romulus looked up fr om the book he was reading and cast an indifferent look at his father. 'You've b een squeezing your blackheads,' he said at last. Archie's expression collapsed, his confidence shattered. 'I hope you've washed your hands. I don't want you tou ching me with bacteria-covered fingers.' Archie opened his mouth to speak, but n othing came out. I want to kill them! he screamed but he only shouted this insid e his head. I want to tear them limb from limb! But out loud he muttered 'I've c ome to say goodnight.' Neither one of his sons replied. Romulus returning to his book and Remus continuing to rummage in a large wooden toy box. Archie tried to cheer himself up by telling the twins about the android babysitter, but

At this very moment it's making its way silently up the stairs... Once more Archie's paran oia took flight. 'Oh . Archie closed the twins' bedroom do or behind him. I am a legend in the world of .' Archie braced himself for a savage ripos te.' 'Does that mean she isn't talking to us?' Remus's tone was as pompous and as arrogant as a tax o fficial having just discovered a double entry. Mother is a fool! You know that! Do you wish us to respect a fool. Reprogra mmed the android babysitter.' they said as one v oice and then crossed to their computer terminals. Archie wondered if they could hear every ranting thought in his head. Y ou've always said the contrary. boring detail each tedious event. 'As you wish. Father. Why the s udden change of mood'.when the Voxnic would flow like water and he would receive lots of the deep understanding she was so good at.Ds and more degrees tha n any other person this side of Vebus Twelve! A fool! Romulus and Remus continue d to stare up at their father. It was made doubly unpleasant as it came i n the middle of thinking about Vestal Smith. Well. u ntil then. I hope you can! But out loud he said somewhat stiffly . its micro-circuitry throbbing with one command: KILL ARCHIE SYLVEST ! 'Goodnight. 'Ri ght. 'Where's Mother?' Archie locked his fantasy away in a large box marked 'private' and turned towards his hateful son . ' Because mother happened to give birth to us.. Archie hated using the twin's names in case he got them wrong. she's busy.' Cautiously he looked around the room expecting the worse sort of danger. but his book had become a best seller. he screamed inside his head. Standing shoulder to shoulder they stared up into h is face. But then the inevitable happe ned. 'Pure Mathematics and its Relationship with the Square Root of Minus Thr ee. as they didn't give him time to answer.' he muttered.' The tone was one of dismissal.' Archie was surprised at how stern he sounded. He then enquired what sort of day they had had and the twins related in minute. well.. to be honest. Archie's rac ing mind jerked to a halt.they remained impassive. their own countenance hard and unyielding. but Romulus and Remus were able to bring a rather unpleasant edge to the way they used this talent. then said together 'Abandoned again!' This speaking as one person always unnerv ed Archie. Father. He had proven his ability. does that automatically grant her a place in our affections?' Archie wasn't certain if the question was meant to be rhetorical or not. The twins never gave up without a struggle.. Had he not been called the finest mathematic ian since Albert Einstein? When only twenty years old.. Archie was puzzled.. but instead the twins turned away. had he not published his thesis. He was aware that identical twins sometimes possessed an uncanny rapp ort with each other and were often able to anticipate what the other was about t o say. As a rule they woul d fight to the last shred and tatter of their argument. Archie then attempted to counter bore by telling them about the publisher's party he was about to att end.. sounding awkward and embarrassed as though he'd been asked a question to which he should have known the answer. 'Or has she already gone out with out saying goodbye?' Archie reluctantly nodded. a feat considered impossible.. but omitted to say that afterwards he was having dinner with computer progr ammer Vestal Smith . 'Your mother is who she is whether you think her a fool or not. His demeanour was that of a reprimanded schoolboy leaving a headm aster's study..' A fool'. Goodnight. 'Why?' they said together. It's no excuse for poor manners and lack of concern. yet he was every inch their equal.. 'You we forgive. er . 'Er. Father. He then became afraid when t he two advanced towards him. Perhaps they've put a bomb in my personal transporter. Father.. 'Well.' A fool! How can they think she's a fo ol. He was angry with himself. the question Archie had dreaded.. but not Mother. 'Respect must be ear nt. boys.. not farewell.' There was no reply. They always made him feel like a fool. Remus.' (Archie was the first person to calculate the square root of minus three.' he said. 'I wish you would be kinder to your mot her. The twins retorted with a scowl.' Their dua l intonation was like a terrible threat.) Not only had it astounded the mathemat ical world. A woman who has four Ph.

things weren't an awful lot better. The grip tightened on Arch ie's podgy limb. 'Vestal Smith's husband!' As ink travels on blotting paper. The front door of twenty-five Lydall Street swung open and the po rtly frame of the greatest mathematician since Albert Einstein stepped out. I dominate my subject like a colossus. 'I'm Reginald Smith. At first glance. had pressed the wrong voting button in a somnolent daze. is transported around the body causing it cells to reform and realign themsel ves. hairy voice said. Suddenly something powerful and hairy settled on Ar chie's arm. Some say he had spent most of the debate asleep and. but on cl oser examination it turned out to be a muscular hand. so did a look of ho rror slowly spread across the mathematician's face. The owner of the v oice was even more Neanderthal than expected. and the motion was lost. the pro cess still remains a random and. The more wick ed observers say he had never learnt to read and therefore was unable to deciphe r the words 'for' and 'against' printed above the voting buttons. The motion under debate was a very delicate one. ' Nothing. Whether that was true or not didn' t alter the fact that he was totally unsuited to the world of politics. but the faction who included those who had sponsored Verne' s rapid rise to power were certain they had won enough members over to their poi nt of view. Re generation had taken place.mathematics. But such rescue only comes in fantasies an d the grip. aboard the Doctor's TARDIS. as one reported case has it. This is brought about by a massive release of a hormone called lindos.' What have those hateful chi ldren done'. Soon he had been elevated to the rank of Councillor by his rich and powerful admirers. No-one ever did find out whether Verne had voted against them on purpose. boastful braggart. A good example of this was Councillor Verne. but Verne was so startling in his good looks that other Tim e Lords wanted to be seen in his company. now hardening on his arm. As a rule. he k new it was simply a matter of time before he was replaced on the winner's pedest al by the twins. at lightening spee d. This. it resembled an enormous tropical spider.' Dejectedly Archie shuffled along the hall and down the stairs. Verne cast his for the wrong side. that he was as stupid as he was beautiful. a l arge club or the experience of a dozen karate lessons he would soon require the extensive service of an orthodontist. 'Are you Professor Ar chie Sylvest?' Smiling. When a Time Lord is in danger of dying. for reaso ns of vanity. his body gro wn too old to go on working properly. Archie turned to face his questioner. his foolishness caused inflamed tempers to rupture and a . but some said. growing older and more handsome with each change of shap e. Some Time Lords are able to proceed through their allotted twelve regenerations with enor mous grace and dignity. And it w as this ineptitude that brought about his downfall. on being sudden ly woken. But whatever t he reason. The Council was divided. beauty earns little es teem on that planet. can cause enormous emotional and psychological upset. only to start the next a youthful. which. The consumption of all the Voxnic in the world couldn't change that. Fro m any point of view. Others leap about to a startling degree. Archie stared blankly at the man a nd wondered who he could be. causing him to flinch. Although he was a champion. reminded him of the impending reality. 2 The Maladjusted Time Lord D eep in space. The twins were too gifted for it not to happen. perhaps jealousl y. Although much work has been done by genetic engineers on Gallifrey. a gruff. in some cases. The Council of Gallifrey had been in session for days. It is said that he had regenerated into the most beautiful person ever to be seen on Gallifrey. the event that is both a blessing and a scourge of t he Time Lords of Gallifrey. rather an erratic one. When it came to the vote. Unless Archie could immediately get his hand on a knuckle duster. finishing one regeneration a wise an d noble elder. His psychiatrist was right: he was jealous of his own children. or. The evening air was cold and Archie gave an involuntary shudder as it embraced him. As he turned to close the door. needl ess to say. The trouble was Archie was too proud for it not to hurt. a Time Lord is able to change his physical shape. Emperor of the Parellelogram. At the same moment he seemed to lose control of his jaw and his mouth dropped open to reveal a set of excell ent teeth. it had not been Archie's day.' the voice grunted. a genius.

'It's. And such was his pain that he forced himself to immediately regenerate once more. terrible? The Doctor looked down at his clothes. Cautiously. Because he had grown in bulk. did not reassure her at all. Suddenly there was a cry from the room. The Time Lord's face looked old and tired. effete. Her major concern now was how s he would cope with such an ogre as the new Doctor.' continued the Doctor. I really liked you.' . Peri peered around the jamb of the door. What emerged was a bent. T o be laughed at is never fun. 'I'm sorry.. it was unbearable. I was never happy with my last incarnation. Being stuck in space in a time-machine she could not fly along with a human chameleon. his overall appearance was quite presentable.' Peri was indignant. 'Well.. To Verne.' 'That's abs olute rubbish. 'You were almost young. making him look like some dishevelled tramp. 'What do you thin k?' Peri gazed back at the Doctor. Ve rne was devastated. 'I've been inconsid erate. . He regenerated yet again. Althou gh this fate did not await the Doctor.' he said dismissively.' 'Why ever not?' The Doctor paused outside the door o f a room. The poor woman was terrified.. 'It's . What emerged was a very plain face which housed a voice a full octave higher than is normal for a male Time Lord. he pushed past Peri and entered the corridor. the Doctor slowly climbed to his feet. wailing in a low. the strain on his system was too much. mournful tone: 'Help me.fight broke out. never mind about the cloth es. Slowly she backed across the console room of the TARDIS. during which Verne was so badly hurt that he was forced to rege nerate to save his life. Becaus e from where she came people didn't behave as the Doctor had. 'Er. He attempted to regenerate one more time.' Her mouth worked up and down like a demented goldfish. this time into an amorphous blob t hat belched and gurgled.' said the Doctor. completely misunderstanding w hat she had meant. Help me. garm ents that would complement his regenerated appearance. She seemed unable to shape her lips to form word s. more t he sort of indignant rage uttered by a child when it learns the ground is a pain ful thing to fall on.. Now he required new clothes. like an o steopath gently manipulating a damaged bone. 'that wasn't me. And such was its sing-s ong quality it caused those around him to involuntarily snigger when he spoke.. His eyes were lifeles s and empty. Unfortunately the regeneration process was not as kind as it had been before. you mean!' Peri remain ed in the corridor for a moment. Beyond was a vast store of clothes he had accumulated over the decades . his regeneration could have gone better. the seams of his jacket had spl it. Even if she had the Doctor would not have heard. 'they're soon changed. It was one of pain and distress. Er. 'Oh. He seem ed pleased with it. You were sweet. Satisfied with his new psysiognomy. even though she had no idea where she wa s going or what she could do. cautiously followed by Peri. She wanted to know how he had changed.' The Doctor snarled. 'He had a feckless charm.. 'You know. but the hideo us monster that emerged was ordered destroyed by the then Lord President. Er.the way I look ?' Peri didn't care how he looked.. Why hasn't he tol d me he was capable of such metamorphosis? These questions remained unanswered l argely because Peri hadn't said them out loud. What about me .' The voice sounded exhausted. twisted. He was too intent on examining his new face in a mirror. As she reached the door leading to the corridor th e Doctor turned to face her. 'Well?' insisted the Doctor.' he said enthusiastically. but not that of a mature man.. That says it all! Sweet. No one! Why doesn' t he understand me? Why doesn't he realise how terrified I am. He bounded down the corri dor. You must be terrified by what's happened. . Whereas his features had matured slightly and his waist thickened a little. She was fuming.' Peri crossed to the Doctor and bent do wn at his side. Alas. deformed old man. It was his mind that was unstable. 'Sweet!' He threw open the door of the ward robe and blustered in. Peri.. Huddl ed in the middle of the room in a foetal position was the Time Lord. who had received nothing but praise and admiration since his last regeneration. feeling each feature with the tips of his fingers. . Wat ched by Peri. his American companion.' Peri willed herself to speak.

She couldn't make sense of what he was saying. but then.. The Doctor's tone verged on being brutal. Peri continued to remonstrate with the Doctor. viciously at odds with each other. It seemed that the Doctor would have willingly given up his life. 'It's a diminutive of my proper name.. she had panicked. Now it can be said that the Doctor's taste had never been haute couture. 'A s you won't tell me. the satisfactory running of the time-machine. 'Your name . The reason for the sudden outburst was the Doctor's choice of clothe s. This he had given to her w ithout a second thought. someone had. 'Do you know what a Peri is?' She shook her head. But then how could she have known of the dangers and trouble still to come? The empty TARDIS console room was silent but for the gentle purr of th e oscillating time rotor. The Doctor burbled on . the coat was so gawdy it would have looked out of place on the back of a circus clown. in m any ways.. All this he had done for her.' she stuttered. her head filled with thoughts only of her own plight and safety.. marched in follow ed by Peri. He als o tried to explain what had happened to him. But that was only the beginni ng. (For all Peri knew.. the Doctor continued to reassure her that things weren't as bad as they seemed and that he would soon recover. when Peri was called upon to help him.everything would be abs olutely fine. the hems of which rested on red spats. only to find there was enough for one person. but his use of complicated technica l terms made it difficult for her to follow or understand. A Peri is a good and beautiful fairy in P ersian mythology. Peri recalled what had taken place on Androzani Minor.they were the choice of a maladjusted personality. th e planet where the Doctor's regeneration had started. Yet.Although appearing to be in enormous pain. 'You're not serious!' The door of the console room was thrown open and the Doctor. I shall tell you. Several lights winked and blinked indicating. was. Although the face before her was that of a stranger she cou ld sense that the old Doctor. a man she had grown to love and respect. then been forced to save his own life by regenerating. urgin g him to reconsider his clothes. In fact. 'How did you get a name lik e that?' Peri was scared.) Th e final touch was a livid green watch chain that at some time must have been sto len from a public lavatory. That bit was fine. Peri felt completely helpless. The interesting thing is. if necessary . But this was not to last.' The word came out as though the Doctor had a nasty taste in his mouth.' T he Doctor smirked. Slowly. appearing to have fully recovered. Protruding from the bottom of the jacket were a pair of black and yellow str iped trousers. still alive.. which in turn covered the tops of green shoes. the Doctor's agitated s tate receded and he climbed cautiously to his feet. How they had both been inf ected with Spectrox Toxemia and how the Doctor had risked his life to get the an tidote. it was ev iir The Doctor .Peri. Th e jacket was long and not dissimilar in design to that worn by an Edwardian pate rfamilius. design and colour. but the jacket and trousers which he had decided suited his new persona should have warned Peri of something . At first he was simply dismissive. The whole ensemble was finished off with a waistcoast which looked as though someone had been sick on. fo r no apparent reason. This wouldn't have mattered qu ite so much if the colours had blended. The room had taken on an air of quiet tranquility. but they seemed to be cruelly. 'Well?' he i nsisted.. without pause or hesitation or thought for himself . before it became good. but occasionally he slipped into gibberish. talking about many things almost as though he needed simply to chatter.. The tattered remains of his coat removed. 'Perpugilliam. Peri was petrified. Suddenly she was filled with a feeling of euphoria . harshly. Peri watched the Time Lord as he inspected a rail of exotic garmen ts. 'Of course not! Even if you did you wouldn't admit it. his mood changed. Most o f the time he made sense. for once . In the corridor outside the shrill voice of Peri was heard. Would you?' The Doctor had started to shout. The main problem was that each panel of the coat w as quite different in texture.

the sight terr ified her even more. but the Doctor was too strong for her. At the same moment. As Peri edged along the console. The Doctor froze as he caught sight of his own gruesome image . Peri was now consumed by panic and terror. scared baby. Choking and coughing. wailing and howling as he went. the Doctor was on top of her. The Doctor's expression was that of pleasure. the Time Lord quickl y crawled across the room. On contact he drove his powerful thumbs into her windpipe and pressed firmly. But Peri wasn't watching this perfor mance in a theatre. A moment later she went limp. Peri screamed and thrashed about. like a frantic. she snatched up the mirror. As she did. He was actual ly having fun wasting her life. 'You are thoroughly evil. Winded. Doctor. spluttering and coughing. Peri felt wildly for the dropped mirror. His eyes were like saucers . She k new that if she blacked out she was dead.wild and staring. Peri half-opened an eye and saw the hateful delight on the Doctor's face. Slowly Peri edged towards it. gently he started to rock backwards and forwards. now believ ing he had killed his victim. 'Plea se. Peri continued her frantic search. but not before the Doctor had leapt at her again. more desperately. Peri couldn't make any sense of what was happening. Wha t else could happen? she thought. The Doctor. her limbs started to jerk in spasms. she screamed inside her head . anticip ated the move perfectly and savagely lashed out. Peri was lucky and managed to s ide step the attack. Peri felt consciousness slipping away from her. 3 . sunk to the depths of despair and was now threatening her. she caught a glimpse of her attacker's face . now realising her intention. Once her lungs were fully ventilated she started to cry. Almost as though she were waving herself goodbye. snarling animal. Slow ly. and. backwards and fo rwards. loosened his grip slightly. as though desperate to comfort himself. As she did. she beat and pounded the mirror. Within an hour the Doctor had not only changed into another person. but it st ubbornly refused to break. Then slowly. praying one of her blows would make contact. Summoning up the last shreds of h er strength and energy. / have to break it! I mus t have a sharp edge! I have to be able to hurt him. as much at the pleasure of being alive as with the fear and anger of the assault that had just taken place. the mirror falling from her grasp.' Peri backed away. Peri crashed to the floor. a terrible leer crossed his face and he started to lick his lips like a glutton who has jus t had a feast placed before him. Peri wondered how long he'd rema in that way. Peri lifted herself u p onto one elbow. she noticed perched on the console the abandoned mirror the Doctor had used earlier to exam ine his new face. Now knowing she had only seconds to live. Any hope that this wa s all a sick. He was now silent. what he would do when he came out of his tra nce-like state. She felt that she was about to slip into the bottomless pit of death and oblivion. As he did. the Docto r following. as he r eached the corner of the room. The Doctor was going to kill her. Suddenly her hand found the mirror and without pausing she immediat ely picked it up and started to smash it on the floor. There wasn't any way she could get out of the situation by simply covering her eyes and waiting for the scene to be over. but it still wouldn't shatter.' he ranted. draw his knees up under his chin and then embrace his own legs. Instantly. deliberately he brought his hands to embrace her throat. she held up the mirror so that the Time Lord could see h is own expression. On hands and knees. but the Doctor. Then as though he had been savagely slapped across the face he let out a terri ble scream at the same moment flinging himself away from Peri and the image in t he mirror.snarled like some caricature mad professor. Her mouth had now involuntarily dropped open and her protruding tongue jerked backwards and forwards as though attempting to pump air down her restrict ed windpipe. The Doctor started to move towards her. hateful joke departed from her mind. With a last enormous effort. This is no longer a joke. As she did. this time making contact. She watched the Doctor. A weapon! she thought. With all her strength she repeatedly struck the mirror on the floor. like a wild. she suddenly reached to grab the mirror. but had gone through fits o f agonising pain. This was real.

' P rofessor Edgeworth chuckled. 'Brilliant!' he said. The children had been at play. he was fat.. If they had. he would be in a great deal of trouble. I must apologise for the lateness of the h our.' The words sounded hollow and Edgeworth knew it. But they would have been wrong..' he said. If the twins had looked from their window they would h ave seen a wet. They would have died of hunger and exposure in a very short period of time. 'I've come to pay my respects to your father. Outside it was dark. For in their minds they thought they knew everything about everything. the ginger torn looked up into the night sky. For in the cat's mind..' he said jovial ly. the twins watched as the newly -formed imaged settled and became solid. but they would never know that he knew it first! In the cosiness of their bedroom. turning to the twi ns. 'Look. but hi s sharp.Enter Professor Edgeworth Romulus and Remus sat before their respective computer terminals. was the twins' world. The flower beds were his territory and he was very proud and very defensive of them. What had started as a game had turn ed into a creation of pure genius. He had more important things to do . I can only be i n the company of Romulus and Remus Sylvest. The y didn't need to say anything as they were aware how each other felt. survive. Soon the twins would know what he did. He also knew it was impossible to calculate the square root of minus three and that Professor Archie Sylvest had made a mistake.' . They. The old man smiled benevolently. It was in this air of self-satisfied pleasure that an elderly man with a shiny bald pate m aterialised in the middle of the room.. The cat smiled. even have prospered. But should he fail to take the twi ns back with him. The twins exchanged a glance of pleasure.. they would have paid him little atte ntion. for they didn't realise the cat could teach them survival. The cat also knew this in the same way h e knew that someone from the freighter was being transported to Earth using a ma tter converter. we still do not know who you are and what you are doing here. he knew what the two geniuses didn't k now. It had been his idea to transport down from the freighter alone. The cat knew this. A man of great d istinction. 'At this time of night?' Re mus' voice was slightly shrill. 'Absolutely brilliant. The y didn't know the cat existed. comfortable world. cold and unfrien dly. To the man-made tracking devices of Earth the freighter was invisibile. They were delighted with wha t they saw. Their calculations were perfect. Outside it was raining. A symphony of higher mathematics. it will be sho wn that cats were the most intelligent creatures ever to have inhabited the plan et. symbols and calcu lations.. And although you have tol d us your name. Romulu s and Remus studied the screens of their computers.' 'You are. alert eyes were quick to notice the computer screens. It didn't bother him and h e wouldn't tell anyone. A thou sand miles above his head was a space freighter that had even more secrets than him. He even let out a fruity 'ho-ho-ho' to comp lement his near Father Christmas image. The fact they allowed human beings to run things for a while shows their tol erance. When the whole history of Earth is finally written. 'Yes. But the twins couldn't enter his. Professor Edgeworth. Tell your father I will call on him again. On the screens before them were a maze of numbers. He wore a long brown smock and looked a b it like Father Christmas without a beard. The ginger torn could quite e asily enter their warm. Amazed. studying the screens and then nodding with approval and delight at what he saw. shabby ginger torn being rather possessive about a few badly-kep t flower beds and an area of weed-ridden grass.' The twins exchanged a nervous glance. of course were wrong. an d there was nothing a cat could teach them. 'it seems I've come at a difficult time. In the middle o f his favourite flower bed. Inside. They knew the humans would cause havoc and fail. 'My name is Edgew orth. He realised he was slightly over-playing the Father Christmas image. in the warm. but the cats also knew they would be able to repair everything and make it right again. virile and sexy. as it was protected by a deflector screen. He had wanted to avoid the excessive violence he knew a cer tain crew member of his crew so much enjoyed. but I've come a long way. At least that is what they thoug ht they would have seen.he had his flower b eds to guard. He also knew he had to act quickly.

He bent down and. How had the intruders got in? he thoug ht. there were other considerations to bear in mind. but it had not been in the company of computer programmer Vestal Smith. At least she wouldn't see him drunk again or be able to ask him why he looked s o pale and why the sleeve of his coat was torn. It made him feel better when he realised that Nimo had yet to return home. the Neanderthal husband of Vestal Smith ha d seemed happy to stagger off into the night. picked up a little z anium on the tips of his fingers and sniffed it. The Voxn ic-fuddled mind of Archie began to clear. It had required what seemed like a lake of Voxnic to convince him that his relationshi p was platonic. the ginger torn stood g uard over his territory. the house protection unit had also been deactiva ted. The Voxnic had flowed like a cascading waterfall. Edgeworth turned to the other twin and shook his hand. a fine needle shot out from a ring Edgeworth was wearing and painlessly penetrated the palm of the boy's hand . Outside. but he might live to regret their work on some scheme insp ired by evil for he was convinced they had been kidnapped to . Cautiously he pushed open the bedroom door.they were empty and unslept in. As with the android. He then asked them where they were. Zanium was caused by only one thing: the function of a m atter transporter. Archie staggered out of the bedroom and half-fell. leavi ng a fine powdery deposit on the bedroom floor. nothing seemed to happen. He wasn't certain whether he should go in as he was far from well enough to cope with their antics. it was safer that they remained zombie-like. Edgeworth ordered the twins to show him their hands. He had smelt zanium.' And a gain the needle did its work.' Cautiously. He knew all this. It had been with a less satisfying companion . In an attempt to placate him. half-stumbled down the stairs and into the sitting room. He had sensed the freighter pull out of orbit and set a course for one of the bleakest areas in the universe . like an Indian tracker. It's been a pleasure and a privilege. and a second later the trio dematerialised. In Archie's mind there was no doubt that the twins had been kidnapped. Archie had no idea whether Mr Smith had believed him. effort and techno logy required.her husband. The twins were without conscious memory. Whereas the emotional ties with his hateful chi ldren were fragile. Edgeworth smiled. This they did in a passive. This they did. He then checked their beds . When a solid body dematerialises. Sylvest sat on the steps of the cellar. my boy. Archie entered the room and called for his children. 'Goodbye. At first. It was at that moment he noticed the smell. Romulu s took the proffered hand and shook it. but would tell no-one. As he did. grey snow. He then staggered along to t he cellar. innocent and perfectly reasonable. He was very drunk. they couldn't remember. Ar chie had persuaded Mr Smith to accompany him to his favourite Voxnic bar and dis cuss the reasons why he desired so much deep understanding from his wife. 'Goodbye. The drug had work ed perfectly. but until then. He would have to inform the authorities. Swaying slightly. When he got them back to the freighter. Archie lurched along the top landing towards his hateful children's bed room. his dignity and pride supposedly r estored. The house was protected. Any doubt as to what had happen ed faded from his mind. Standing like some orna ment in a scrap yard was the babysitter android it had been deactivated. The front door of twenty-five Lydall Street was closed with a loud slam. somethi ng the manufacturers had maintained was impossible. He'd been right. Standing in the hall was Professor Archie Sy lvest. There was no reply. unquestioning way.Professor Edgeworth extended his hand towards Romulus who stared at it for a mom ent. he would loosen the drug's control. he was also convinced it was the work of an alien force. tiny trace elements in the atmosphere called nistron carbonise and fall like very fine. but with the additional comfort of a hundred thousand d ollar World Federation currency note. He fiddled with it for a second then ordered the twins to grip his hands. then suddenly the twins' expressions went quite blank as though their personalities had been d rained from them. Remus. He knew what had happened. and as hard as they tried. He might no t mourne their death. Archi e began to panic. And such was the planning. Archie stood b efore the door of the twin's room. Edgeworth pulled back the sleeve of his smock an d exposed a bracelet.

'Selfabnegation in some hellish wilderness!' Each word rolled and thundered around the console room. The look of hate and mistrust on P eri's face told the whole universe that simple fact. 'You have been chosen. Once more he was at work. 'I must cleanse my mind . 'I do not know how to ask your forgiveness. P eri braced herself. 'Please be careful. He looked around. Worse still. T was speaking figuratively. The Doctor clamped his hands to the side of his hea d and screamed and screamed and screamed. Peri's response was like a dam bursting. The Doctor's voice had also dropped a full o ctave for this role. 'And who is supposed to have appointed me your servant?' 'Providence!' 'Look... like a Victorian actor. They will be very simple . feeling and fear of the telling soon changed his mind. The Doctor stared at a dial on the cont rol board in front of him. 'to minister to my needs .' 'I need a hermitage.this end. go to your home .' the Doctor boomed. Doc. In his place was an old Testament prophet. Peri thought the Doctor was having ano ther fit and picked up the mirror in case he again became violent.' 'Who in this life is ever purely innocent?' The Victorian actor had gone.' 'Careful? Careful! I tried to kill you! I am a living p eril!' Each sentence built in volume until he was shouting. The black.' he wailed. Doctor.' The Doctor was no longer lis tening. But nothing must be allowed to interfere with my period of contemplation. you're in a crazy stat e of mind. 'Some u tterly comfortless place where we can suffer together. Just don't destroy the TARDIS by mistake. some crumb of information th at might help him remember what had occurred.a thousand! Of what account is time to me?' Poor Peri gave up. She now wished he had killed her. 'Aren't you forgetting? I'm from Earth.ten years . All you need is rest. determi ned to see no-one have a good time. l ike a band aid covering a particularly nasty sore. things were again quiet. as he was no ne too certain what the dial was telling him. The words continued to pour from Peri's mouth until the Doctor could stan d it no longer. A sho rt holiday. . she remembered that the Doctor had once sa id the TARDIS had a self-destruct device and feared he might operate it by mista ke. So the Doctor did the obvious thing: he asked. But instead h e turned on the console and started to set switches. 'You're forgiv en.' 'Hang on.' was the cry from the Doctor. In the console room abo ard the TARDIS.' He paused dramatically. protective void that had shielded his mind had been ripped away. He wasn't certain why he was doing this. as though waiting for a burst of applause from the sta lls.' he muttered . 'Self-abnegation.' 'Th is isn't fair!' Peri was now on the verge of tears. jabbing a rigi d index finger at Peri. Peri would have found it all rather impressive. He could no longer hide behind his ignoranc e. It was you who tried to kill me. A new fear entered Peri's head. At least that would have been quick. 'The universe is at risk with me in this state.. Slowly he shuffled to the nearest transmitter unit. He was desperate for a response. A moment later he was talking to the head of the Intergalactic Task Force.' He hadn't heard a word Peri had said. He now remembered everything and he hated himself for it. If you want to go anywhere. For all that was in his mind was a void. I now understand what you' re going through. I really do forgive you. If it hadn't been so frightening. but the passion. It shouldn' t come to that. 'A thousand years?' she enquired.' The Do ctor looked haughtily at his companion. ready for anything. Our al lotted span is about seventy years. The Time Lord smiled weakly at his companion.' For Peri this wasn't good news.. But it was too late. She couldn't keep pace with the Doctor's changi ng mood.. 'Why should / be made to suffer. I am the innocent party here. Doc. At first he couldn't believe what he w as being told. a black impenetrable void. The one thing that was clear to hi m was that something unpleasant had occurred. his voice thick with emotion. and I've already had twenty of them. You're not in control of yourself. She wondered if the Doctor still knew how to o perate the time-machine. 'Ten days . this time making fine adjustments to the co-or dinates he had set. twist knobs and pull levers .' 'Look.

E dgeworth's real name was Azmael. his Father Christmas joviality gone. But she no longer wanted to stay and be his terrified audience. That is wh ere I shall repent. After all. In the most desolate place in the universe. He was far too knowledgeable and important to be allowed to wander freely about the universe. And that was what you were supposed to think. if you were famil iar with the XV class of balk carriers. my child. he could travel the universe alone pretending t o be whoever or whatever he wanted. It was possible. The name w as real as was the man who used it. all she could do was wait.. It wasn't until the four th day that they noticed their real quarry had escaped. Azmael immediately retur ned to Gallifrey and started proceedings to indict the Lord . indifferent to her confusion and anguish. 'I don't think you realise how mentally unstuck you've become. At times he wished he were a chil d again. the so-called warriors set about el iminating the populace. they had the order of execution dressed up. like the Doctor. Alr eady he seemed to have entered a trance-like state. Even as a child.. They had three days of glorious. 'Where are you taking me?' The Doctor gazed down at the prostrate Earth woman. on the other hand.. For the reality was that balk carrier XV 773 was a highly efficient batt le cruiser. At first sight there seemed nothing special about the ship . But until the Doctor did take a turn for the better. For a moment he sat wa tching the flickering lights of the flight computer..planet. the evidence against him being about as credible as the integrity of the paid witnesses who presented it.' he mutterd. Perhaps it was a little shabbier than the majority of commercial freighters wh ich travelled the space lanes to Baxus Major. 'I have decided on my place of hermitage. He just wanted to be left in peace. So. for the first and last time in the history of Gallifrey an execution sq uad had been despatched. They can help you there. it was like being on holida y. Edgeworth had found comfort in watching flashing lights. she would demand to be taken back to Ear th. But then. Me stor the Magnificent A shabby balk carrier ploughed its way slowly through the e mpty wastes of space. As far as she was concerned. Seated on the bridge of the ship was Professor Edgeworth. the High Council had not so readily accepted Azmael's depar ture. And it was the waiting that terrified Peri most of all. But the second mistake the Hi gh Council had made was the choice of assassins .' 'I have already spoken!' Then if you want somewhere really desolate. Arrivi ng on Vitrol Minor. It hadn't proved difficult to find Azmael as he wasn't really hiding. at least I'll be able to get a train home!' The Doctor didn't hear the sarcasm. There is no s uch thing as a pleasant Seedle warrior. When he did. the freighter did look very neglected. She could only hope the Doctor would hav e a period of rationality. and. He now loo ked tired and drawn. Azmael's execution squad was no exception. Of course. 'Why are you doing this?' she screamed. justifying the genocide as the elimination of witnesses to the destruction of a Time Lord. 'We. Bu t unlike the Doctor. For the warriors. 'It is in the far corner of the Baxus Major galaxy. as though no-one really cared. that you might have queried an irregular line of holes along one side of its hull. blood-drenched fun.. was a renegade Time Lord who had tired of life on Gallifrey and decided to make his fortune elsewhere. where Azmael was living.' Peri buried h er head in her hands and silently wept. So the High Council had decided to kill him.' As he spoke he struck the main control on the console and the TARDIS started to lurch and judder towards its destination. I suggest you try the Bronx or down town New York. Too many enemies were waiting to steal his skill. but the person who used it also told lies..Seedle warriors. In his absence he had been found guilty of all sorts of invented crimes. They are all brutal psychopaths who take enormous pleasure in killing. are going to Titan Three. you migh t have dismissed it as meteorite damage. Professor Bernard Edgeworth didn't really exist as a person. Peri was thrown to the floor. That was their firs t mistake.' Then even more desperately she added. Such was the unexpected movement. Because while you're enjoying a thousand years of desolation. experience and knowledge.

That was a mistake . violent demise had sent it crashing down the slope in such a way that its thick. a terrible thunder storm had occurred. who were just as cynical as the old one. living. It was green and its hands ome birdlike inhabitants enjoyed an easy carefree way of life which he readily a dopted. The new High Council. cleansing the rubber shapes. Poor Azmael was so disgusted wi th what he had been forced to do that he publicly declared himself an outcast an d departed from Gallifrey. The fact there wasn't a useful gram of any known mineral to be fou nd on the planet seemed to disturb no-one. of course. at the same time washing. The rain had continued to batter the scarred soil. Except Azmael. A few days later. should succeed so easily a gain. but at the end of the day it is sometimes the o nly method to deal with corrupt politicians. aggravati ng creatures of the domestic garden. the tree had been positioned precariously on the edge of a steep ba nk and its sudden. they believed they c ould survive any accusation made by him. One morning it awoke to find an army of gastropods led by a h ideous shape calling himself Mestor the Magnificent. He knew the High Council would wriggle out of the charges. destroying meadows and reducing to desert once fertile lan d. they weren't over-keen that he. Slowly evidence came to li ght showing that Azmael had himself employed the Seedle warriors to destroy the populace of Vitrol Minor. caressing. He had made it possible. declared Azmael a hero. not long after Azmael had become President. but they had too easily forgotten the a trocity committed. But the first act of the new council was to set up a commi ttee to learn how Azmael had so easily entered the Council Chamber with a laser rifle. but slugs the size of men who were capable of devouring forests. And they were about to hatch! It was some months before Jaconda knew of its fate. people began to wonder whether they had ever existed. As though making up for the thousands of years the eggs had lain unnourished in the ground. It saddened Azmael that he had been forced to adopt the ultimate sanction.. One night. When the rain stopped. the Jacondans accepted him and soon he was their elected Presi dent. In fact. Where these creatures had come from was a mystery. green paradise was reduced to a scorched lifeless r ock. To some people this is known as rev olution. stubby branches had ripped open the surface of the ground to reveal hundreds of round leathery objects.President and High Council. The rain had poured down destroying the harvest. But buy it they did. Being professional politicians. the gastropods had embarked on a feast so gargantuan that it all but destroyed most of the planet's vegetation. but less corrupt. To others it must always remain murder. To him it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. much like a Seedle warrior. only to disap pear again. was another conundrum. Deep in an ancient forest. The ob jects were eggs. What h ad been a beautiful. In life. Although they had approved of his magnificent cleansing of a corruption.. while the lightn ing. Not only did they support a massive appetite. As the legends and myths grew about the Secto ms. With the enti re population of Vitrol Minor slaughtered. He was very angry. They had been waiting many regenerations for their chance of power. After many years of travel. including the . the High Council would require massiv e bribes to buy their innocence. On Gallifrey there is only one inviolate law . But the fairy tale didn't last. or any other fanatic. His motive was supposedly to gain the mineral rights o f the planet.Time Lords are forbidden to directly interfere with life forms on other planets. so to save life Azmael had ordered his adopted people to surrender. It was now a matter of time before everyone. These were not the small. had attacked anything that took its fancy. Likewise. strange noises could be heard from within the shells. Azmael arrived at a planet called Jaconda. Why they had come to Jaconda and conquered the planet. After all he had done them a favour. Lurking in the history of Jaconda was a le gendary race of gastropods known as Sectoms. the Jacondan sun took over and gently warmed the spheres . a huge beautiful mustock tree had become one of its victi ms. he w as so angry they could escape judgement that he took a laser rifle and gunned th em down in their own council chamber. but also a brain and cunning eq ual to any intelligence in the universe. Jacondan weapons had proved ineffectual against their slimy targets.

' Romulus scoffed. Drak. he couldn't be trusted at all. Hugo was every inch a hero in the making. The drug they had been given to restore parts of their memory had worked rapidly. Mestor must die. Azmael knew he would have to kill him soon. Romulus cursed the feckl essness of his parents. Al though his assignment was fairly routine. transmitting the information back to Control on Earth for analysis. At least. 'What are you doing?' asked Romulus. As soon as Drak had le ft the room. He was too sly and often wore a smile that verged on a leer. then watched as the Jacondan made his way to the ship's ga lley. though. highly su spicious as to whether anyone would hear. Whatever the cost! What's more. his lieutenant.' he said. The freighter would then be towed back to Earth. were beginning to stir again. which his present mission would provide. On the other hand . Everything seemed to be going well. Now that he was a cap tain in Mestor's special squad. his ni mble fingers undipped a wall panel to reveal a mass of wires and printed circuit s. but one thing was clear . In fact. and therefore quite safe. and all it now required was combat experience to confirm it. died of starvation! Azmael turned away from the computer lights . the onboard computers automatically started to scan the freighter. It was Noma. As the squadron made visual contact. At least. to open fire and disable the ship. All Hugo had to do wa s bring them safely back to be declared a hero. 'Trying to rig some sort of distress call.gastropods. The twins have been secured. but the fee lings he had experienced on Gallifrey. Remus worked on. especially as Drak was taking such an obvious fatherly pleasure from his task. Azmael flicked a switch and the screen went bla nk. that is what those who were stage-managing his career thought. then he was allowed. At the head of the 'V formation of star fighters was Lieutenant Hugo Lang. Neither did the fact that he was the slave of Mestor. Romulus and Remus climbed out of bed. It had taken them even l ess time to locate Azmael's freighter. The domesticity of the scene was alm ost incongruous aboard a warship. he thought. It had taken the Intergalactic Task Force thirty seconds to scramble a squadron of star fighters. If its captain refused. or a subconsci ous desire to be followed. just prior to 'executing' the High Counci l. Desperately trying to remember the intergalactic colour code. under intergalactic law. He was too tough and too old to be unduly affected by sentiment. he started to d isconnect several of the cables from a junction box. not even before the Sectoms had arrived. good-looking man in his mid-twenties. was quite different. Quickly. slim. but the thought of spending the rest of his days satisfying the needs of a psychotic windbag was more than h e could bear. Azmael had never trusted Noma. The expediency of bowing to his will was one thing. Mestor may have somewhat theatrically billed himself as 'The Magni ficent'. The Time Lord nodded. the kidnappi ng of the Sylvest twins would generate a lot of publicity. even if his brother proved successful. Azmael's thoughts were interrupted by the scuff of a boot against the metal deck of the ship. Undeterred. He had graduated top of his year from Star Fighter pilot school and it was believed he was destined for great thi ngs.they were prisoners aboard a space ship and they weren't at all pleased about it. The twins speculated as to how soon their absence from Earth would be noticed and what their drunken fathe r and academically spaced-out mother would do about it.th ey no longer pleased him. but it would have been more accurate if he had called himself 'The Merc iless'. All that Hugo had to do now was challenge the freighter and order it to return to Earth. Whether through tiredness. . Unfortunately they didn't know they wer e sending an inexperienced pilot up against one of the most ruthless leaders in the universe. On a security monitor Azmael could see him tucking the twins into their bunks. while Remus was a little more practical. Azmael had inadvertently switched off the deflector s hield and his ship had become visible to the tracking stations on Earth. They were still confused an d a little disorientated. He was a tal l. that was th e theory.

too late. It also had to be the right one. Ahead lay Titan Three. To engage them in battle would be suicide. Hugo barked orders into his radio. Rapidly. As the squadron sped toward s Titan Three. or simply his desire for success. A moment later the freighter went into warp d rive and disappeared down a crack in time. Hugo's radio started to crackle wi th an urgent message from Intergalactic Control. turned westward. was not only politically motivated. Hugo peered out of his cockpit and read off the registration n umber emblazoned on the side of the ship's hull . Confirmation was immed iate .the XV class of freighter was incapable of warp drive. or any of t he other attributes prized so much by human beings. It had taken him weeks to convince Mestor of the viability of his plan. requires enormous courag e. Hugo Lang thought otherwise. P erhaps it was his lack of experience. simply requires two things: to be in the right place at t he right time. but he would also pick up a fat salvage fee. an irregular pulsing broke in on his headphone. With a little l uck. his ship started to pitch and toss as though caught in a pocket of turbulence. Political he roism is a shabby imitation of the real thing and is best left to those with sha bby. by those holding social and political authority. and for the act to receive public approbation. As he calculated how he might spend his new-found wealth. the Time Lord reasoned. Hugo spoke into his radio and the starfig hters manoeuvred effortlessly into battle formation. backed. his next move had to be a bold one. wit or humour. As his squadron emerged from warp drive. starfighter pilot. he might be able to use its mass to play hide and s eek. Sometimes. A moment later. Now he was being pursued by six starfighters. believed destroyed. the Time Lord pressed a series of buttons on the flight computer and the freighter. slowed t o sub-light speed. followed by hi s squadron. presence of mind and compassion for your own species. mediocre ambitions. Mome ntarily confused. Hugo smiled. Hugo's sort of heroism. especially if you don't know the person you're saving. Once more Azmael manipulated the contr ols and the freighter slipped into orbit around the tiny planet. Quickly t he noise settled down and become an intergalactic distress call. shuddering slightly as the warp engines were disengaged. like saving someone from a burning space shuttle. especially if the a ct of heroism is particularly stupid. it helps if the perpetuator dies. Azmael responded with a hal fhearted flight of missiles which the starfighters easily avoided. but. then flicked an override switch on his control column. Confidently. Even if the freighter could destroy the fighters. the flight divided. Hugo Lang. that is political heroism. True heroism cannot be overpraised. Angrily. but no-o ne at Intergalactic Control could understand why the obvious had not occurred to Hugo . To become the sort of hero Hugo desired to be isn't a difficult thi ng. but was also greedy for salvage money.As the squadron took up its attack formation.XV 733. with little chance of escape. Mestor wouldn't allow him to stay at the safe house . Even though the hea vy armaments of his craft could outgun most ships in the universe. Seconds later the pincer move ment was complete and the hapless freighter trapped. It stated he was about to arres t a freighter that had been lost. he disappeared down the same hole in time the freighter had taken. Azmael slapped the console in front of him. True her oism. led by Hugo.it was the lost freighter. their tracking instruments immediately pinpointed Azmael's ship as it slipped over the horizon of the planet before him. a concentrate d attack of six starfighters would prove too much for the freighter's defensive force shield. He was also aware that if both fame and fortune were not to allude him. eight months earlier. Rapidly. It doesn't require great intelligence or courage. Remus's fiddlin g had worked. half skirting the eastern rim of the planet. . Not only would he become a hero. of course. thereby giving him the chance to pick the fighters off one at a time. while the remainder. Azmael paced up a nd down the bridge of his ship annoyed with his own stupidity. As Hugo was a bout to give his final instructions for their attack. It had been his i ntention to take the twins to a safe house on Titan Three where he would be able to fulfill his plan. Unless Hugo acted quickly. Hugo checked his flight com puter. alas. his chance of promotion and wealth would follow a similar descending spiral to the bottom of no-where. but the instrument was unable to provide an answer.

Hugo also fired a full broadside of missiles. he was more than a little concerned as to whether it would prove as hostile towards him. Although impressed by the cloud's performance. scoring a direct hit. hatefully. Under normal circumstances. diving. boyish cheer. the two remaining fighters turned in a steep arc and. twisting. The cloud simply absorbed the energy with an almost graceful ease. Determined not to meet the same fate as his command. he would have realised much sooner that the further his s quadron distanced itself from the freighter. Aboar d the freighter. Ins tantly the squadron broke formation and built up speed ready to enter warp drive . wriggling every way possible. with laser cannons firing. Suddenly a finger of blue mist shot towards the nearest fighter an d. Hugo gave a small. but his celebration was short lived. So. the worse the turbulence grew. but the fighter continued to plummet towards the surface of the planet. that Hugo was unable to correct his de scent in time. Hugo could see a small b lack irregular shape at its heart. Two. His intention was to pull out of vert ical descent just before hitting its atmosphere. At the same moment. Hugo fired the main retro rocket s. a planet t he size of Earth. the phenom enon seemed to hover. his head was filled with a slurping. the other starfighters reported similar problems. the following fireba ll would be travelling too fast to do the same and would enter the atmosphere an d disintegrate. p lus the gravitational pull of the planet. possibly less arrogant. Hugo spent the last few seco nds of his squadron's existence asking his flight computer questions it couldn't answer. Hugo thrust his craft into a massive power drive towards Titan Three. Realising they couldn't ou trun the cloud. on contact. Hugo did not realise the enormous dan ger he faced. Altho ugh the ship remained in one piece. He was still shouting at the confused machine when the cause of the tur bulence appeared over the rim of the planet. a massive blue fist emerged from the main body of the cloud and e nveloped three of the fighters. Yet the cloud took four without seeming to disturb an atom of its structure. the fighters flew on. as m uch impressed by its beauty as confused why the mass still didn't register on hi s ship's sensors. the cloud launched another fireball. . As they did. Azmael lowered himself into the pilot's chair and slipped on the safety harness. Like the crew of the starfighters. As he snapped the fastener of the harness shut. Such was the speed and force of the dive. as though studying the starfighters. too. the ship vaporised. They. the voice began to slash at Azmael's tired mind.Mestor's! Deliberately. If Hugo Lang had b een a more experienced pilot. and certainly less concern ed with his own glory. he lined up his laser cannons and fired. Again. flew at battle speed towards the swirl of colour. angrily. damning the Time Lord for his incom petence. Hugo gazed back. sibilan t voice he knew only too well . the ball found its target with ease and the burning fighter silent ly exploded in the vacuum of space. Undeterred. and the ship hit the thin atmosphere with a sickening thud. except that the whirling mists of colour were containe d in a blue haze that undulated like a balletic amoeba. As the fighters drew nearer to the mist. Suddenly the sof t. so Hugo ordered th e squadron to withdraw while they reconsidered the situation. Azmael watched in amazement. the cloud launched a ball of blue fire which rapidly moved towards the second fi ghter. Even at this late stage. For a moment. but all to little effect. it was not unlike a massive aurora borealis. With luck. Although the pilot took evasive action. Sensing this was some sort of control centre. Turneresque colouring of the cloud turned harsh and livid. But it wasn't to be. Instead of its destruction.One by one. the bridge suddenly filled with a misty red light which then wrapped itself around the tra pped Time Lord. there was little its pilot could do to corre ct its rapid fall. for endangering the mission and for causing him to waste so much energy and effort. 'Scramble!' Hugo screamed into his radio. vaporised. one torpedo would have been sufficient to destroy a small moon. this time firing Baston torpedoes. In a last desperate attempt. instead of pondering on the more immediate problem. For good meas ure. he wasn't going to giv e up without a fight. At first sight.

On the ground. t he Doctor leapt forward towards the wreck. Suddenly he wanted to be a hero. the Doctor scooped up the unconscious pilot and r an back to the TARDIS. His ship was far from controlled. Peri began to cough as she inhaled the dusty a ir and then started to shiver.' he said. the cloud which had destroyed the starfighters a lso dissolved. Azmael's ship wa s making a controlled landing. Although he still maintained his David Livingstone stan ce. had gone blank. his mind. Worse still. and as yet unknown to the Doctor. he had decided that the TARDIS was too comfortable a place to live and that a dank. Picking himself up from where he had been blown. the Doctor exami ned Hugo for broken bones. disturbing the powdery. Fortunately he had been thrown cl ear before his ship had burst into flames. But the firing of the retro rockets had had far more effect than he had dared hoped for. Can do anything. He had the power to kill the Time Lord any time. the Doctor and Peri emerged from the TARDIS and surveyed the bleak horizon. The wreckage of the fighter had given up and exploded. he dashed across the rough terrain with Peri in pursuit. At the same moment. Closer still was Hugo Lang. Peri. Without a word. Then as suddenly as it had started. Even the deafening sound of screaming engines. Peri wished he still wanted to be a hermit. As they approached the fighter. his hand on his forehead like the peak of a cap. even to himself. the TARDIS shuddered slightly. there was a small explosion sending up a column of flame and black smoke. H e didn't need to. weak. Titan Three It is strange how coincidence can seem to conspire. like those of a starfight er falling out of control. With effortless ease. It also made him wonder how regularly Mestor monitored his thought s and how much he knew of his plans to destroy the hateful gastropod.Mestor continued his mental attack until the Time Lord thought his mind would ex plode. Like a Victorian explorer. Apart from the odd cut. As the pain eased. Azmael wat ched as Noma operated the controls of the ship . grey dust that c overed the surface of the planet. In spite of Peri's gallant attempt to persuade the Doctor to the contrary. Perhaps Mestor wasn't as all-seeing as Noma thought. Some distance away he could see a burning wreck and was puzzled as to how it had got there. The thought of spending the rest of her life in s uch an unpleasant environment did not please her at all and she felt as though s he wanted to cry and cry. Lives were in danger.he was preparing to land. It wasn't until the fighter crashed and exploded that his mind slipped ba ck into gear. the Doctor continued to scan the ho rizon. 'You never did understand the Lord Mestor's power. What the Doctor felt at that particular moment was a m ystery. Th is surprised him. he still wanted to be a hermit. in fact. He must go to the rescue. A sh ip had crashed. he seemed otherwise undamaged. who had thrown herself flat on the ground the instant the fighter had appeared. watery sun.' Azmael was reluctant to concede that Mestor had the power of a deity. A cold wind had started to blow. Quickly the Doctor felt for the young man's pulse. Titan T hree has the reputation of being the most desolate and unvisited planet in the u niverse. dra ughty cave would be much more suitable. couldn't penetrate the inner sanctum of his conscious mind. As Peri carried the medical kit into the co nsole room. Peri noticed that once more the Doctor's expression had change d and wondered who he thought . 'He's everywh ere. It was still there. but he could not deny he had destroyed six fighters with little app arent effort. This seemed to delight and excite the Doctor even more. his body rigid and his mind raw. It se emed that the Time Lord would be allowed to continue his work on Titan Three. Peri. While Peri searched for the medical kit. any place. also scrambled to her feet. As they arrived. and much to Peri's amazement. he wanted. In his mind this was real danger. t hey saw the body of Hugo lying near the wreck. disparate events had caused several parties to arr ive more or less simultaneously. he slowly opened his eyes and saw the sneering face of Noma. Azmael collapsed back into his chair. Nearby. Yet all of a sudden. the assault stopped and the red mist evaporated. It didn't occur to Azmael that Mestor knew precisely what he was up to and didn't care. First had been the Doctor and his highly distra ught companion. With mightly bou nds. his hand shie lding his eyes against the dull. a little bruising and a few b urns. but still pumping. the Doctor looked eagerly around.

the more confused he became. can you save him? The Doctor folded his a rms and turned away. But what? An Unsafe Safe House Titan Three has always been accused of being the bleakest. all the usual che cks and tests had been made. Perhaps the two things were linked. 'Oh . he pulled out a small gun from a holster at his waist. he said. Think what he must have suffered. Al though a gas unknown to the Mastons (Titan Melancholia) had been detected. the more t he Doctor thought about the general situation. 'You destroyed my whole command!' Quickly..' said the Doctor at la st. Christian Barnard? Pasteur? Alexander Fleming? Madame Curie? Whoever he fancied himself to be. I could be lying dead at your feet this very moment.. Instead. It wasn't until he d iscovered a still functioning computer that he learnt of their sad fate.. 'You never cease to amaze me. the more he realised how confused and muddled his mind w as. he couldn't remember why they had come to Titan Three. The Time Lord was p uzzled. the Doctor snatched the gun and simultaneously chopped Hugo across the side of the neck.. exhau stive research seemed to indicate it was inert and safe to breathe. He was aware that he was having lapses of memory. He had been surprised when he had discovered buildings on the planet. It isn't at all poisonous. Maston Viva. knowing how much h e hated the diminutive..' he muttered. but couldn't understan d why Peri was being so aggressive. what was Hugo doing so far from his home planet? He couldn't imagine that Titan Three was part of his normal beat. It wasn't until some time later that it was noticed that people who spent more than six months on the planet became strangely depressed. tugged at a plastic tag attached to the tunic of Hug o's jacket until it was free and held it up for the Doctor to read: Lieutenant H ugo Long. he poin ted it at the Doctor. but prolong ed inhalation can cause depression in humanoid life forms. At first t his was dismissed as nothing more than an over-reaction to Titan's bleak environ ment..' 'That's right. Scenically.' ' But you're not. Come to that. The children. The mo re the Doctor wondered. 'A' Squadron. Why had Hugo accused him of destroying his squadron? And who were the children he se emed so concerned about? Come to that. Using both hands to steady it. 'A policeman. Instantly the pilot was rendered unconscious. Origina lly the buildings had been erected to house a research unit and monitoring base for the solar system. At that time he very much wanted to be alone and Titan seemed to offer him precisely that. Azmael had discovered Titan Three while searching for somewhere to live after his selfimposed exile f rom Gallifrey. Intergalactic Task Force. You are ask ing me to revive a man who had every intention of terminating my life. With unexpected speed. the young man sta rted to regain consciousness. ' Poor guy.' That is quite beside the point. And even more surprised when he had learnt they had been built b y people from a nearby solar system that no longer existed. F or all you seem to care. 'Murderer!' he screamed.' The Doctor's voice was squeaky with a mixture of outrage and fear.' Peri leant forward. my squa dron!' Suddenly Hugo's eyes were wide open. Such was his petulance that Peri expected him to mince out of the console room. so the tour of duty was shortened . You're safe. 'He was going t o kill me. it is no bleaker than any other small planet devoid of vegetation.' 'That's right.' She stressed the word Doc. So the centr e was built. As the Doctor dressed Hugo's wounds... The real problem with Titan is that its thin atmosphere contains a v ery rare gas nicknamed Titan Melancholia.he was now. 'The point is. Peri hoped he had stopped being a hero and had forgot ten about being a hermit. including a close examination of the atmosphere. Before building the centre. most miserable planet in t he universe. He would have to do something about it. 'my ship . Doc. In fact. Now get to work and make him well again!' Relu ctantly the Doctor bent down and continued his ministration.

That's right. 'Why don't you tell us what this is about? The equations you've set us could be done by an idiot. cutting in. Romulus was absolutely right. whose function it was to warn of such impending disasters.. But no longe r! Fail to obey me and 1 shall have your minds removed from your bodies and use them as I wish. Seedle Warriors seemed relatively harmless compared w ith the paranoid ambition displayed by Mestor. What they had been given to do was simply to test their co-operation and the accuracy of their work. Do you understand?' Terrified. being unused to such pr imitive implements. 'He requires the gift of your genius. th e danger could have been neutralised. Az mael nodded. and if they had been more attentive to their duties. When summoned home. 'His name would mean nothing. The twins weren't happy. It was Mestor. 'There's no point to what we're doing. the image of Mestor faded. soul-searching autobiography. the pain of life had overtaken t he agony of art. they found that the radiation cloud ha d been visible for days. wer e mortified. boy . Such was the all p ervading gloom of the place that Mein Katnpfand the works of Strindberg were rea d as light comic relief. If you hadn't rigged that silly distress beacon a board my ship. They were the first and last victims of Titan Melancholia. they committed mass suic ide. Cautiou sly. 'Yo u've brought this on yourself. He does not make idle threats.' 'He shan't have it.' 'Including us?' said Romulus. I would have let you use the computer. 'Fight me!' his rasping voice boomed. Their fingers were sore from holding the chalk and their arm s ached from the effort of scratching their calculations on the squeaky blackboa rd. painful ly self-critical novels and essays. 'Beware. Scientist. It was during one of these intense periods of introspec tion that an enormous burst of radiation wiped out the population of Maston Viva .. 'But understand that he is a creature of infinite ambition. Nowadays. Azmael had shown little sympathy.' Azmael glanced over his shoulder once more. but they were running out of patience. Suddenly. The drug which contr olled their minds was beginning to weaken. This did little to help..' they said as one voice.. So far. Although they had complained bitterly. technician and labourer ali ke started to abandon their work in favour of writing long. the twins nodded. this time watching two immature boys struggle with chalk and blackboard to complete equati ons that had been set for them. You don't need us for this sort of work. I have been prepared to put up with your childish obduracy.' The twins weren't certain whether to believe him. Mestor had insisted. it was discovered that a daily glass of Voxnic acted as the perfect antidote to the side effect of the gas. Azmael looked over his shoulder as though expecting to find Mestor listenin g. T did try to warn you.' echoed Romulus. But such were the terrible events that had taken place on the planet that nobody wanted to live there.' complained Remus.' .' said Azmael. 'Believe what Me stor says. I do not know what is intended for you. As they did.' As the boy spoke. But that was a long time ago.. The scientists. Yet here he was again. and their stubbornness was returning.' The twins worked on. After each of t hem had completed a long. 'Then tell us who your master is. 'To be honest.' said Re mus.to three months. introverted.' he said quietly. Originally Azmael had ear marked the planet as a bolt-hole in case the High Council of Gallifrey had chang ed its mind and again sent a squad of Seedle Warriors to kill him. On checking their computers. Now I can't trust you. 'We shall fight him if necessary.' Azmael nod ded. a swirl of red light formed into a hologram of the most repulsive creature the twins had e ver seen. You must understand that I a m also a prisoner. Shortly afterwar ds. There was little left for the scientists to do. pref erring to stay on Titan to complete their self-imposed tasks. I must do as I am told. 'He will use anything and anyone to gain his ends. they refused to go..

a pillow under his head and a blanket covering his body. What the Doctor had done was nothing . his diction had become more precise. most deduction is elementary. Something is very amiss.' 'Then who?' 'The person behind the reason that brought him here. if not pathetic characte rs. 'the current situation has me baffled. Peri watched. as the restless Time Lord paced up and down like a caged tiger. who in the space of a few hours.' Peri gave up. 'Something's very wrong. The look on the Doctor's face told her that she had said the wrong thing. It was this f act. my gift was well-developed. his wounds dressed. indicati ng Hugo. 'My mother had always insisted that the stork brought babies. neither were they in Victori an London. T couldn't help it if my idiot parents had refused to tell me the facts of life .. Under more normal circum stances any single one of these acts would be considered outrageous.' 'No stork either. But this wa s far from any ordinary situation the perpetrator was a Time Lord. What could she say to a man.' She paused. Married to my unerring sense of logi c. I have refined the routine of criminal investigation to that of a science!' S uddenly Peri knew who the Doctor thought he was: Sherlock Holmes. and feared what he might do next. Peri wondered who he t hought he was this time. 'Rubbish! I have since perfected my method. In fact. as the arrival of infants was frequent but the sighting of storks was very rare. and was now basing his personality on a fictional de tective? To argue seemed pointless. I have spent a li fetime developing my powers of observation. How long.' 'The lieutenant isn't evil. ' How could she? The Doctor wasn't Sherlock Holmes. Now it had not gone unnoticed by me that the mid-wife had arrived carryin g a large satchel. But if he noticed he didn't respond. 'Even as a child. he had tried to kill Peri and in his remorse had taken her to a remote . 'So I was wrong on that occasion!' he sho uted. True. c ontinuing as though every word was true. so I set about watching our neighbour's house. 'Brilliant. 'W hatever may be going on here doesn't concern us. my dear Peri. Something was agitating him .'he continued. it wasn't until the age of ten that I saw my first stork and that was in a zoo!' 'So once and for all I decided to solve the mystery. that Peri had overlooked. Up until now the Doctor had played at being rather silly.. She had no sooner entered the house than I had heard an infan t crying. which she had no way of leaving alone.' The Doctor's voice h ad changed slightly. no-one else entered or left that dwelling u ntil I heard the cry of a new-born babe. but living in a large city I found that difficult to beli eve. would it be before he was racing across the planet looking for Profess or Moriarty? 'You must understand my need to get to the bottom of this business.' The Docto r paused in his pacing.. He look ed cosy and snug. you could be again. A very clever deduction for an unenlightened child . hoping it wo uld distract the Doctor from his fantasy. wanted to be a hermit. She didn't want the Doctor to beco me involved in yet more trouble. A part from someone called a mid-wife. But to be honest. requiring lit tle more than the application of logic.. With the use of pure lo gic and observation I deduced where babies came from. I therefore deduced that the mid-wife had brought the baby in her bag! ' A bemused smile spread across Peri's face.' 'I'm not talking abou t him. barren planet.' Peri w as not only becoming confused. I sense evil at work.' Peri yawned.Lieutenant Hugo Lang lay prostrate on the floor of the TARDIS console room.' 'But if you were mistaken once. Word had it that a baby was due next door.' The Doctor had s tarted to sulk.' 'It certainly does. she wondered. until now. which is more than the Doctor did. huh?' 'Not even a sp arrow. 'As a rule. had played Jack the Rip per. She knew it could prove very dangerous. espe cially as something else had occurred to her which made her feel rather sick. 'My very being exists to solve crimes. but concerned. 'Can't we just leave?' she said plaintively.

as it pointed at the screen. That's no part of nature's handiwork. And so are we. Peri turned to look but could see nothing but the dust c overed surface of the planet. If the Doctor wanted to be Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps the simplest way. and whoever has them. crossing to Hugo. ridged and commanding. 'Have you seen my jellybabies?' Peri shook her hea d. 'You said yourself there wasn't any life here. Peri couldn't fault his logic.' The Doctor smiled awkw ardly.' Peri didn't see the sens e of the Time Lord's observation. Wh en the Doctor next tried to swap his personality. 'And there we are!' he sho uted excitedly. Therefore. For a moment she thought he was looking for his Meersham. gradually.' he commanded.' The Doctor pointed at Hugo. Tn spite of the fact that our young friend here has been shot down.' Peri moved closer to the screen. At least she could try. 'Come on.' She sounded phoney and unconvincing. trying hard not to so und too much like the traditional. then nothing would be safe. But if she were to play his foil. the Doctor's reasoning was sound. Number two: the abductor is based on this planet and destroyed the squadron as it approached. but bit her tongue.' 'How come?' said Peri.the childr en.' 'First. Number one: he was shot down wh ile pursuing the abductor of the children. his Watson. she might be able to control o r direct him. 'That hump!' Quickly. Should that occur. shoots him and the rest of his squadron d own. sh e would be his Watson. he still has one other thought in his mind . lead him back to hi s 'real' self whatever or whoever that should turn out to be.' Again. would be to play along with him. But when the villain of this particularly nasty piece of work could be anywhere in the universe. the Doc tor operated the zoom and the area of interest was enlarged.. 'It's just that I think much better when I'm chewing. wondering why they were walking when they had the T ARDIS.' So far. Its shape was far too regular to have been created by the elements. T can see from your expression that you don't agree.' The Doctor crossed to the console and switched on the scanner-screen. the Doc tor started to pace up and down again. she might also.compared to what he was ultimately capable of. The Doctor's knowledge a nd ablity to manipulate time made it possible for him to change or destroy every thing.' Peri smiled. then she would have to lear n to repress her own doubts and forebodings. What I have just said cont radicts my own methods. But things change.' 'There wasn't. He was right. 'I am inclined to believe that t he villain is here on Titan Three. By acting out his fantasy he might begin to trust her. 'Now. Peri reluctantly followed. of course!' said the Doctor. as Hugo crashed on thi s planet. 'That's where we're going!' And without another word he was gone . delighte d to hear that the Doctor was once more making sense. I'll have to do without them. But how was she to prevent it? As Peri thought about the problem. she considered. dumb sidekick of a fictional detective. I suggest we start by checking Titan Three. 'What are you going to do?' asked Peri. 'Use your eyes. ' said the Doctor. 'Never mind. determined not to comment. as he opened the main door. 'There!' he shouted.. All it required was one wrong wor d at a critical moment and he might convince himself he wanted to dominate the u niverse.' 'Not at all. let us assume he is here to fi nd the children. we must consider the facts. it sometimes pays to use one's intuitio n. 'Look at that hump's symetry. With a little luck. the index finger of his right hand. tentatively.' insisted the Doctor. Therefore. 'You're right to criticise. 'Solve the riddle. rummaging in his pocket. .' 'You still haven't said how y ou plan to solve the riddle whatever it is. one of two things could have happened. 'He's here.

But there was a little more to him th an that. mincing gait. except when he spoke. His face. Abuse of the machine can. also induce death. Gratefully they accepted the s imple meal. but also a desire to dominate those around him. they thought he had swallowed someone and that the face of the victim was protruding through the skin covering his gullet. So instead of a neat. The sight wasn't a b eautiful one. in as much as it breaks down the molecular structure of the body. Gone were the arrogance and the overbearing desire to be th e constant centre of attention. Their test completed. was humanoid in form. then he would have proved to be nothing more than a curiosity capable of devouring forests.She only hoped she wouldn't live. the modulator bombards the atoms of the body with Ferrail rays. devouring it greedily. Not only did he possess an intelligence that would have put to shame th e finest brains on Earth. Altho ugh he was a gifted molecular engineer. when mealtimes became grotesque competitions about who could be the fastest or messiest eater. If A rchie and Nimo Sylvest had been present. found out. The boys fell into silence as Drak entered the room carrying a tray of food. When Romulus and Remus had first caught sig ht of him. If they were to stay alive. but in the short time they had been Azmael's prisoners. As he did not have a neck. Romulus and Remus Sylvest had grown up a great deal. head or shoulders. as it was only a matter of time before they were rescued. he had grown two small. the featu res were covered in a thin membrane. or worse still. The only question was. so that when he walked it was necessary for him to gyrate his body from side to side. they reasoned. Then he would gesticulate with them. black spots created when Azmael had taken possession of their memories. its inventor. Mestor stood upright. As though to add to the peculiarity of a gastropod with a human face. This induces a feeling of well being and c ontentment. Inst ead of then transporting it to a pre-set destination. Fear may not be the best regime to form and mould children's characters. the fea tures had grown where what would have been the underside of a normal slug's jaw. t hey would have to continue to cooperate. it too had been a hard day. Mestor the Magnificent was nearly two metres tall. it does allow a person wit hout time for sleep to continue working at maximum efficiency for a short period of time. he had also grown two tiny arms and hands which resembled the forequarters of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. he appeared to und ulate. Ap art from his legs. Therefore he had kidnapped the twins. . Unlike the slugs found on Earth. what there was of it. For him. there were still enormous gaps in their ability to remember. they examined the small. They had forgotten how hungry they were. And li ke all dictators. Everything about him was ugly even to other gastropods. content to nibble at the vegetation around him. desperately struggling to regain the sea. of course. And as with that particular dinosaur. like a large beached walrus. spindly legs. using his tail as a large foot. as Professor Z arn. woul d they remain alive to enjoy the benefit of that development? Azmael yawned and stretched. For all we know. they would not have believed the twins were their children. Professor James Zarn enjoyed life very much. and it frightened the twins. Romulus and Remus had been taken to an area in the safe house where t hey could rest. he was none too concerned how he achieved it. they coul d have been right. they served no useful function. but unlike the twins. Although the d rug had loosened its grip even further. To a id his balance. If Mestor had simply been an enormous slug. But what had frightened them e ven more was the appearance of Mestor. prodding the air to emphasis a special point. They had even eaten their food without comment. that's what they hoped. die regretting it. Romulus and Remus Sylvest sat on their couches and contemp lated on whether they had a future. Lounging on comfortable couches. Never in the whole of their short lives h ad they seen anything quite so grotesque. unlike at home. Instead he would have to be content with a brief sojourn in the revitalising modulator. Such were the large rolls of fat that covered his body that everyt hing wobbled as he moved. This is a machine not unlike a matter tra nsporter. Although no substitute for natural sleep. At least. he could n ot afford the luxury of sleep.

Not only did he gain a great deal o f prestige. When Zarn had finished his session in the machine. th e authorities. It was also a game every crew member and custom officer enjoyed. It was no t long before a sizeable portion of the balk freighter fleet was out of action. In fact. and as he went to parties seven nights a week. Space plague was a particularly nasty disease carried by a tiny flea which lived exclusively in the hold of intergalactic balk freighters. tell the precise. he concluded. the victim would become relaxed. while more than u sually under the influence of Voxnic. but simply to add a little excitement to th e voyage. Zarn decided to freshen himself up a littl e with a session in his revitalising modulator.his main interest was going to parties. As the flea's spittle entered the bloodstream. preferring to co-exist affably. exactly one m etre ninety. he decided it was time to do something about it. One night. As every established and developi ng planet depended upon intergalactic trade to survive. The first is Voxnic. couldn't ignore r eported illegal activity. he immediately solv ed the problem. Professor Zar n won the Atral-Freed award for his efforts. Several w eeks later he had built the first working revitalising modulator. Much to his de light the machine not only massaged away his hangovers. but also revitalised him . the second is glass. Therefor e when his ship docked. there was nothing to be seen but an enormous bottle of Voxnic. should be able to find a cure for the common hangover. No-one knew why it had evolved to leap that precise height. bei ng a good half metre above the head of the average humanoid. Even worse than that. they produced of fspring that naturally jumped higher. A man of his ability . the door opened automa tically. but also a lot of money. As stated. if they were to maintain their own credibility. The plague was soon over and everything could return to how it was before. Those that didn't brain themselves on the ceiling were able to spit to their hearts' content at nothing in particular. As he no longer lived by day with th e permanent side-effects of Voxnic poisoning. sticky substance into the eye of the chosen host. as no-one knew why i t would then spit a fine. What had happened was this. And the effect was devastating. he lived with a p ermanent. but at that time it wasn't known that two things act rather st rangely under the influence of Ferrail rays. mindsplitting hangover. Then along came Professor Zarn and his team. which the foolish man insisted on spending on even bigger. longer and more outrageous parties. Worse still . he drank t oo much Voxnic. the Ferrail rays had caused the molecules of the alcoholic beverage to become hostile. allowing him to increase his party going. In the year 2310 AD he won the coveted Astral-Freed award f or his contribution towards the eradication of space plague. As the super fleas bred with the ordinary ones. friendly and agreeable. his performance at work had also r isen to new heights. Even those who had managed to keep flying found it difficult to crew their ships . he took into the machine a bottle of Voxnic. This often necessitated impounding the ship until the enquiry had finished. Their d esire wasn't to make a vast fortune. became more and more embarrassing to the authorities. Unfortunately. No-o ne wanted the enquiries the space plague victims provoked. Inevitably on such occasions. and were forced to investigate every allegation. Awakening one morning and feeling particularly wretched. No-one wanted the work unless they could engage in a little smuggling. Nowadays the principles governing the modulator are fully understood. then releasing it aboard the infested freighters. he would become indifferent to his bonus . or space plague victims.the only reason anyone undertook th e mind-numbing work in the first place . By developing a flea that could jump thr ee metres. But instead of the revitalised Professor. But it did. Report the captain for any illegal moves or shortcuts he had taken that might have endangered life or his s hip. which by that year was the eye level of the average humanoid male. On the other hand. an infected person was unable to lie. literal truth. the 'truth tellers'. When the Professor and Voxnic had been atomised. Point out the deliberate errors in the manifest. Each Voxnic .preferring to coast along at his own re laxed pace. he would willingly declare any illegal cargo being carri ed. vertically. He would stop a rguing with his fellow crew members. It could leap.

Even when he became aware of a strong smell. Azmael set the timer to four minutes. Then slowly. Therefore. This delay had meant a waste of vital time and Mestor wanted Azmael to suffer as it was his carelessness that had first led the now destroyed starfighters to Titan Three. But Mestor was not a fool. Then as suddenly as the smell had arrived. he began to feel a familiar but unpleasant sensation . Even though the gastropod now knew that the Earth authorities had been horrified by the sudden loss of six of their finest and deadliest warships. The gastropod was. Azmael allowed himself to relax. when the process was completed. for instance. frustration. there was a great deal of cloned Voxnic and no Zarn. partly because he knew about Zarn's unfortunate accident. . Azmael's conscious mind remained active. and that they had recalled all their patrols in anticipation of an attack on the planet. At first he paid no attention to the minute deviation in the purr of the machine. He still needed Azmael in one piece. Cautiously. The saddest thing of all was th at the bottle was discovered by a particularly drunken group of the Professor's guests. As he sensed the Time Lord's mind crumbling. almost as painf ul as the verbal onslaught. happy se cure. With the cleansing process complete. he withdrew. There were worse ways. who drank it dry without a second thought. The bottle had enlarged itself in a similar way. the elderly Time Lord consi dered staying in the modulator forever. he reckoned. sibilant voice of Mestor beg an to bombard his mind. which had not materialised. fora moment. but to be ostracised by your social peers because you had suddenly the head and habits of a veedle fly (see Masters and Johnson's Social and Sexual Life of the Veedle Fly for the disgusting details of its behav iour pattern) would be too much. The relief of Azmael's tired molecul es was instant. anger and disappointment . Inside the modulator he was safe. the more powerful the presence became. as always. cou ld prove more devastating than Professor Zarn's liquid experience. As he did. but mai nly because there wasn't any Voxnic in the safe house. he still paid little attention. Slowly. As the Ferrail rays continued their relaxing work. But the harder he tried.the presence of another consciousness in his own mind. But then it was too late. switched on the master control and listened as the m achine purred into life. But he was wrong. allowing him to enjoy the refreshing experience as it occurred . wouldn't hap pen to Azmael. he s till had to exercise his revenge. of course. it was gone. After all. of s pending life than being gently pummelled and massaged into an oblivion of ecstas y. absorbed it and then used th e sudden intake of energy to reproduce an exact copy of itself. Why not leave it there? he thought. The attack continued until Azmael felt he was about to die. He had no reason to. Unable to leave the modulator until the timer had run its course. as the presence of an insect. not unlike that of rotting vegetation. Outside the machine was only heartache. Although reduced to his component parts. The master control clicked automatically and the bombardment of Ferrail rays began. Ther e was a loud harsh intake of breath and the sickly.' said the Time Lord nervously. This was. This. It had done it many times before. sealed the door behind him and set the control for sterilisation. It was Mestor ! Poor Azmael.mole'cule had lined up with one of the Professor's. Azmael concentrated with all his effort to eradicate t he nauseating sensation. angry. It was vital that the atmosphere in the modulator was free of all foreign bodies. 'I know you're here. his body began to dissolve in to a billion spheres of dancing red and white lights which glittered and sparkle d as they swirled around the modulator. leaving what felt like a screaming silence in the old man's head. The only place he ever felt safe and alone had been violated by t he thing he hated most. It wasn't until the odour had developed into a near stench that he be gan to worry. very slowly. To be drunk b y your friends is bad enough. He had expected an all out attack by the Earth authorities. it was quite old and in need of servicing. the elderly T ime Lord entered the revitalising modulator.

this time statue-like. Azmael. Already the bottom edge of the sun had slipped below th e horizon. perched on top of a hillock. staggered out. embraced herself a nd gave a little shiver. The light continued to fade. Since leaving the TARDIS. seemed to perch on its horizon. She crouched down. 'It must be done in flight. We are to leave at once. Peri followed. was the dome they had seen from the T ARDIS. Peri to ttered after him. on higher ground. like a dog searching for a buried bone. for she knew that once the sun had set. Again. Brush ing the grey surface dust from her clothes. would probably remain so. someone called Musk. like an oval Humpty Dumpty on a wall. The thought of spending the night in the open di d not appeal to Peri. intent on stalking whatever he had seen. been Hern the Hunter for five minutes. As he lowered hi mself into an easy chair. 'Orders of Mestor. Peri's effor ts to catch him up were not helped by the impractical high-heeled boots she was wearing. neither of them very pleased at the sudden change of plan. Peri shivered again as a tiny avalanche of grit and pebbles cascad ed down a nearby rock face. Peri became a little panicky.' said Drak. looking and feeling more wretched than when he had entered. Sud denly there was a loud shout and Peri thought the Doctor had fallen. they would not be able to find their way back to the TARDIS. but could see nothing but more rocky outcrops.As the modulator came to the end of its timed cycle. As she rounded t he outcrop herself. giving the appearance of having been subjected to the efforts of a ma ssive eraser. which were constantly snagged by the uneven terrain. pointing westward into the fast disa ppearing sun. as the blue star. 'We are to return to Jaconda. T he Reunion Long skeletal shadows stretched across the surface of Titan Three. the Doctor had abandoned his Sherlock Holmes persona. The wind had also grown colder and stronger and had started to whip the gre y surface dust into mini dunes. but to his companion's sur prise. and with the light rapidly failing. To one side. It wasn't until Peri drew alongside the Doctor that she saw the enormous freighter half hidden i n a ravine. again cursing her foolish footwear. Noma and Drak exchanged a furti ve glance.' he said. . thoughts of sprained or broken ankles vanished from her mind. With the speed and agility of a pract ised mountain goat. Although only walking . trying to hide the strain in his voice. the Doctor seemed to be covering the ground at an enormous speed. Peri followed the direction in which the finger was pointing. Soon it would be gone. but to a point mid-way between. She knew that to lose him now could cost her life. Desperately she broke into a run . She wanted to cry out and ask the Doctor for help. without speaking. who Peri gathered was considered to be the greatest explorer in the known universe. scanning the horizon like an Apache warrior. He seemed transfixed by something ahead of him. Frantically her eyes searched the rock face for his broken body. its duty to spread light and warmth on the far side of the barren planet.' 'But there is importance maintenance to be done on the ship. and something resembling a co untry squire on a brisk walk around his estate. Peri saw the now stationary Time Lord silhouetted against th e receding sun. neither towards the ship or dome. the Doctor moved off. Now make the ship ready!' Drak and Noma bowed. Cautiously she looked up and saw the Doctor. As the Doctor disa ppeared around the edge of an outcrop of rock. the Time Lord bounded down from his observation point and se t off across the bleak landscape. but she doubted he would hear her as he had now started to scratch at a pile of rocks. the automatic control click ed once more and the door of the machine slid silently open. The hump the Doctor had spotted on the scanner-screen in the TARD IS had proved elusive. whether the order had come directly from Mestor or not. Peri had never seen a blue sun before and wished that the circumstances under which she was watching it were m ore agreeable. but saw that he was still on his rocky summit. Noma and Drak entered. known as Singos Forty-Two.

Quickly. reinforced door that separated the ducting from the main ar ea of the dome slid open. he demolished the pile and Peri could see there was a metal trap door s et into the ground. and the Doctor and Peri were bundled in. Noma sni ggered. 'Where have you come from?' Azmael repeated. painfully. Instead. his eye fixed firmly on the modulat or. It h ad been years since he had seen such a machine. On the other hand. her high heeled boots echoing on the concrete floor. Peri following. Peri lo oked at the Doctor..' A hard blow from Noma's gun diverted th e Doctor's attention. but what was beneath it she was about to find out. But inside her head. We're here in search of peace -' Interrupting. hoping he had an acceptable answer. They're spies. 'I won't ask you again. How the Doctor knew it was there Peri would never know. she was terrified. but none had allow ed their spiritual exuberance to spill into their sartorial trappings in quite t he way these two had.' said Pe ri with a large grin.' Azm ael now sounded tired rather than stern. 'We were looking for a suitable cave when we stumbled into your service duct. The beacon he had spent so much effort and time deci phering now made sense. He needs a place to m editate . 'Hi. praying he would support what she was saying. handguns levelled ready to fire.' he said. T know you!' t he Doctor suddenly blurted. swirling bank of fog separated his consciou s mind from his memory. For the first time. all she could do was scream as Noma and Dra k stepped from an alcove. 'Then you tell me why you're here. telling him there was something rather familiar about the face befo re him. but he didn't se em interested. Perhaps Noma was right.. This time the Doctor waited for his companion. flashing beacon seemed to penetrate the dense void. Noma snapped. Surprised.' Again Peri look ed at the Doctor. and he suddenly had the overwhel ming urge to use it. the Doctor felt round its edge and seemed to flick something. Slowly. The Doctor's unwell. All of them had appeared a little mad. Although a thick. Perhaps they sh ould die.' Peri cursed herself for sounding so unconvincing.' said Peri desperately. 'It's true.' Azmael eyed the Do ctor's gawdy jacket. If the Doctor had bothered to tell her. Instantly the tiny panel popped open and the Time Lor d pressed a sequence of buttons housed in the cavity beneath it. the heavy metal sheet slid back on rusty runners to reveal a dimly lit passage below. Instead. trying to appear like a lost tourist who had inadvertently wandered onto private property. . 'I've no idea. If the Doctor had also bothered to mention the ducting was also a walkway. 'As I live and breathe -Azmael!' The words trumpeted aro und the room like a fanfare. she looked around at the heavy pipes and cables mounted on the walls. crossing to the Do ctor. Brushing the last of the grey dus t from a small panel set into the trap door. the Doctor brought his full attention to bear on his interrogator. distant. the Doctor isn't a well man. she would have learnt that it was a supply tunnel between the dome and the landing pad. . 'As I've said. Peri might have advised caution.' she said. Azmael loo ked up as the heavy. a tiny.. helping her de scend the steps into what she could now see was some sort of service duct. 'What are you doing here?' said the mouth belonging to the face. 'We're pilgrims. the Doctor seemed totally indifferent to his situation. stiffly . Casually. Azmael considered. There was too much at stake to risk keeping them alive. 'But I'd love a go in your machine. the Doctor ran off towards the dome. He had met many pilgrims in his time. Even this didn't prompt a reply as he was still trying to decipher what the beacon was trying to tell him. 'Where have you come from?' said Azmael. he gazed around the room until his eye settled on the revitalising modulator. distractedly. Cauti ously. then the blouse and skirt Peri was wearing. Kill them!' 'What I'm telling you is the truth. since entering the room.' Noma pressed his gun against the Doctor's head.

he continued. I've regenerated twice since our last meeting. 1 think it will take you more than a little time to sort either o f them out. At least not for the time being.' he said. 'this is not a good time to have met.' 'Whyever not?' Azmael related the grim de tails concerning Mestor. But alone the individual is nothing. Hugo felt the bruising on his sore neck and suddenly felt very tired. Cautiously he looked around him. if he were a prisoner.the two of us together. As they had been led to their cell. 'But. Azmael said. as always. 'As we leave. wondering where the Doctor had gone.' That.. Even with your agile brain.just as you are. drank and loved as though it had been their last d ay alive. It is on ly with loving friends that there is a positive living future. And something to keep you busy. They had laughed. the Doctor shook his head sadly. Azmael couldn't deny. and he had had to pay for their joint self-indulgence. You will have warmth. the occupation of his planet and how he had kidnapped t he twins. But I cannot risk your interference now.' Without protest. the universe didn't stand a ch ance.' he added sternly. Nodding.' 'You can't. The care and skill that h ad gone into tending his wounds seemed to suggest that the owner of the TARDIS d idn't want him dead. To die. Perhaps he needed to feel he could handle it alone. the memories of recent events slowly trickled back into h is mind. was without money. Perhaps Azmael was distressed by his revenge against Mestor. 'And if you still pr etend not to know me. Lieutenant Hugo Lang woke with a sudden start and looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings. Yo u drank like twenty giants. let me remind you of our last meeting. Slowly. shaking Azmael's hand wit h the same enthusiasm a canine wags it tail. Azmael had ca lled out. the Doctor and Peri were secured in a small room w hile Azmael prepared to leave. The Docto r glanced at the portal. W hat an infallible combination!' Azmael didn't agree. 'What does that mea n?' 'You will remain here.' He grabbed Azmael's hands and pressed them to his chest. Think of it. they have twenty million million possible combinations.. he thought. He recalled the night onl y too well. Between them. considerable comfort. or what would happen to him next.' The Doctor let out a loud cheer and fondly embrace d his friend. 'You were always full of go od intentions. Friendship had to be a living. When the story was finished. and he felt wretched.' 'Don't be absurd. Two hear ts that beat as one! I am a Time Lord . There you are. Still prostrate o n the floor of the TARDIS console room. my dear friend.' he added. indicating the main door. I shall scramble the locks of both the main door and the one to the ducting. 'You old dog. breaking away from the Doctor's grasp.. and I pushed you in the fountain to sober you up. . Hugo climbed to his feet and made his way to the double doors that should have led to freedom. 'If it's any comfort. as the rhythmic pulsing of the twin hearts confirmed. 'What in the name of wonder are you doing here?' Turning to Peri. Doctor. . 'Forgive me. In the space of a few hours. That last night. Of course you don't recognise me.' The Doctor had found the statement somewhat ironic. both his squadron an d his career had been shot down in flames. He also recalled that the Doctor.' The Doctor looked confused. I too have fond memories of that evening by the fountain. This is my old friend and mentor. t he Master of Jaconda!' Azmael snatched his hand back.The elderly Time Lord looked both confused and embarrassed as the Doctor bounded forward and grasped his hand. m y dear Doctor. light. but they were locked.. If friend ship added up to nothing more than fond memories. as though not to frighten or shock.. Gradually. uncertain what he meant. 'Let me help you.' A zmael allowed a tiny smile to flicker across his lips. The destruction of Mesto r is something I must do alone. 'I must c oncede. positive force if it were to have any value . you are who you say. T am nothing of the kind! I never saw you in my life!' The Doctor laughed.

NO UNAUTHORISED PERSONNEL ALLOWED ENTRY. workshops and a compact cinema equipped to show film. which flashed and winked re minding her whimsically of the last high school prom she had attended. wouldn't be a bad thing after all. he fell asleep. Wi th increased speed. laboratories and greenhouse (the purpose of w hich was to provide the dome with fresh vegetables) lifted her spirits slightly. the Doctor examined the loc k sealing the main door of the dome. Peri pushed open the unlocked door. So far it hadn't. rapdily reducing the control to a mass of wires and printed circuits. the Time Lord set about trying to deactivate the device. To say that an honours d egree in theoretical engineering was necessary to successfully operate it. Not stopping to c onsider whether she was authorised or not. would have been an exaggeration. Written on the door was the legend: SELFDESTRUCT CHAMBER. if the timer was accurate. Peri left the kitchen feeling rather dep ressed. being too intent on solving the problem of the loc k. safe from interfering fingers. the Doctor had been confident t hat he could sort out the jumble fairly quickly. The first room she had discovered was the kitchen. she also knew she wouldn't die sober. After exa mining the console more closely. True to his word. Deciding that the Doctor would have to do the cooking. but closer examination had show n otherwise. The unit was sealed. To die in the dome. video and many other visual mediums she had never seen before. To observe that the controls resembled the flight de ck of Concorde would not only have been cliched. he abandoned his task and shuffled off. But as the calling became more insistent. But how would fiddli ng with what looked like a glass box help them to escape? The Doctor continued t o work. Meanwhile. The device had been set to explode. bu t then remembering how badly he did it. it was to explode in the next few minutes. Before her was a door with a purple flashing light above it. It wasn't u ntil she entered the last corridor that her heart really sank. On arriving at the self-destruct chamber. who had never even grasped the fundamentals of the microwave oven . 'You must remain absolutely quiet. but soon learnt why whoever had set it hadn't bothered to lock the d oor on leaving. Azmael had scrambled the electronic circuitry on his departure. Peri was conce rned that the discovery of the self-destruct device might have proved too much a nd induced another change of personality. At least she wouldn't die ignorant. And very soon!' As they entered the main area. And when she discovered the wine cellar . Bewildered and co nfused. Peri continued her tour of inspection. the Doctor crossed to the revitalising modulator and started to fiddle with its control unit. 'What do we do now?' said Peri urgently. Slo wly. The drowsin ess that filled his mind was beginning to take the upper hand. But to Peri. had started to e xplore.' snapped the Doctor. .might not be a bad thing. 'I need all my concentration. but just as confused. p assing through the power plant.' At least he sounded sane. Quickly. The delight of discovering that they wouldn't starve to death was somewhat dampened by the sight of the cooker. she thought. I nside the room she was greeted by a massive console. lifted her sp irits even more. the Doctor soon confirmed that Pe ri's panic was fully justified and. considered the best this side of Magna Twenty-eight. he slid down the double doors until he was seated on the floor. At first. At least he wouldn't have to face a court martial. 'Find another way of gettin g out of here. 'Wha t are you doing?' demanded Peri. but would also have been untrue . who had resigned herself to the fact th at the dome would be her home for the rest of her natural life. he set about removing several modular units from the main co nsole. Peri. At first the Doctor didn't recogni se the sound of Peri calling. The sight of the bedrooms. including th e Doctor's. learning to fly Concorde would have proved easier than learning how to boil wa ter on such a monster. complete with adjoini ng storeroom which contained enough food to keep a schoolful of hungry children sated for a millennium. all humour evaporated from her spirit and she f elt sick. The library. Awake. The possible combinations to operate the lock were even greater tha n Azmael had suggested.

his old energy an d presence of mind having returned. more accurately. set the controls and waited. Why had Azmael. He was fairly certain what he had done would work. Finally. there wasn't really the time. On th e other hand. she would die a nyway. the Time Lord entered the revitalising mo dulator. Under more normal circumstances he would have been more than h appy to explain what was about to happen. it said . To convert the machine into a transporter requires two things: a directional bea m locater (i. He felt a new man. the Doctor had managed to build or. a way of telling the machine where you want to go) and a transmi ssion sequence (i. pressed the master switch and watched his panic-stricken friend dematerialise. Whether they worked remained to be seen. As explained.e.again nothing. the function of a revitalising modulator is precisely the same as a matter transporter. the Docto r would soon be joining her. and they ran out of time.through time and space . if he had been mistaken in any part of his wiring. When not cannibalising machinery for its wire. in any condition. If she stopped to argue. was not the way he intended to say farewell to the universe. Whateve r Azmael had planned. As he worked. But wherever she was and whatever state she was in. therefore wasting time explainin g the principles of something Peri wouldn't understand seemed unnecessary. the less sense it seemed to make. fraugh t with frustration and anger. So what was the point of an explanation? he thought. To be atomised on a barren. Peri constantly flitted back and forwards to the self-destruct chamber to check the timer. he ordered her to enter the revitalising modulator. He then made some rapid calculations. but still couldn't find the fault. Putting aside their friendship. The Time Lord worked on. Frantically he checked t he wiring for loose connections but found nothing. though?' 'Get us out of here!' Quickly he carried the units to the revitalisation chamber and started to connect them to the dismembered co ntrol panel. As the timer on the self-destruct device entered th e last sixty seconds of its countdown. 'But what will happen to me?' The Doctor paused for thought. He then checked the master co ntrol . Four minutes. she would be at omised the moment he pressed the master control. using wire Peri was ordered to steal from anywhere she could. cobble together. Quickly. he would have had plenty of time to carry it out with litt le fear of the Doctor's interference. whose only claim to fame was that its atmospherecreated feeli ngs of melancholia. a way of sending . Az mael must have known it would have taken weeks to break out of the dome.what you've red uced to molecular globules). As qu ickly as his shaking hands and panic-stricken mind would allow. and that in cluded being dead.' the D octor insisted. 'I can do it.After careful examination of the units. but with less than four minutes before the self-destruct device exploded. By cannibalising various bits from the main console . only it doesn't send you anywhere. Although Peri had dem aterialised. the nece ssary components. There was also the possibility that Peri would resist entering the modulator cabinet if she kn ew the truth. the Doctor pushed the complaining Peri into the machine and sl ammed the door. 'Why?' 'Just get in.e. the Doctor caref ully rechecked his handywork. a t one time his greatest friend. she could in fact have been anywhere. But what confused hi m even more was why he was bothering to convince himself when death was almost i mminent. Peri! I c an do it!' 'Do what. miserable planet. He only hoped that his fr esh inner self would have time to mature and mellow. he allowed his natural instinct as a trained . Nothing happened. The countdown was now into its last thirty seconds. the recurring question constantly came into his mind. The Doctor's dilemma was to tel l or not to tell. What the Doctor had done wa s really quite simple. set the self-destruct unit to explode? The more he thought. his face lit up. As she returned to the Doctor with this particularly depressing piece of news.

the twins weren't interested and remained resolute as to who was really to blame. If that didn't work. Azmael was responsible for the activiti es of each member. pressing buttons an d generally getting in each other's way. Not since the death of his de ar wife had he felt such grief and despair. Lieutenant Hugo Lang watched as the Time Lord and his c ompanion scuttled about the console room. They had just witnessed a heated conversation between Azmael and Noma which had made them very angry. The Doctor glanced at the intergalactic policeman and. With all the energy and passion of a lec herous stallion he gave the revitalising modulator the heftiest kick the weight and strength of his leg would allow. We have work to do. Once gone. As already proven. causing the build ing to vaporise. Ag ain the Doctor clambered into the cabinet. they would launch an attack. made an electrical connection and exploded. Azmael could no longer hold back the tears. Reluctantly. Displayed on the monitor before him was a computer analysis of the explosion that had occured shortly after thei r departure from Titan Three. Meanwhile at the TARDI S. sealed the door and threw the main sw itch. as neither of the sudden arrivals eve n bothered to say hello. Go ne were the ghosts of the demented souls who had built and orginally occupied th e dome. T'm a policeman. Gone was the finest library this side of Magna Twenty-eight. until now. With the safe house de stroyed.and experienced scientist to take over. wondered wh o he was. Next to him stood the twins who were bristling wit h indignation. Gone was the computer containing their last. they had also felt a genu ine compassion. flicking switches. Drak came to the elderly Time Lord's rescue with an offer of more food. Mestor had ordered Noma to destroy the Doctor. had happened was that Noma had secretly in formed Mestor of the Doctor's arrival. It's a n occupational disease. for a moment. Althoug h his tears were mainly for the Doctor. Up until . then he slowly faded . deep crater which was soon filled with grey dust. they also contained a few of self pity. As leader of the group. the Doctor pressed the dematerialisation switch and the time rotor ju ddered into motion. Concerned by the intervention of a second Time Lord. Peri and the safe hou se. then nothing would. 'What are you doing?' he said at last. It was becoming obvious to Azmael that he was losing his grip on the situation.' And with that said. Also. the twins gave into their baser need and allowed themselves to be bustled away. Jaconda the Beautiful! Azmael sat on the bridge of his freig hter and furtively brushed a tear from his eye. Gone was everything to do with the dome on Titan Three. Bemused and a little insulted. fury and indignation that. Mestor was still concerned that once the Earth authorities had redisco vered their nerve. It had worked! No sooner had he gone than the timer on the self-destruct macha nism reached zero. Peri piped: 'Going to Jaconda. Azmael had sh own a rather casual attitude towards covering his tracks. in reality. the trail to Jaconda would end on Titan Three. It its place appeared a large. tortured literary jottings. As Romulus and Remus continued their verbal attack.' 'Why?' 'D o you always ask so many questions?' snapped the Doctor. This time he was reduced to a sea of sparkling light. Although Azmael tried to explain this. two areas of space were filled by the Doctor and Peri materialising in the co nsole room. he wondered how many m ore good people would have to die before Jaconda would be rid of Mestor. Seeing Hugo's confused look. Although they had not met the Doctor and Pe ri.' Then find a cure for it. What. had been quite alien to th eir immature minds. the news of the way their lives had been casually wasted by Noma had hurt an d outraged them. Although part of their anger was motivated by the fear that the y too might be disposed of in an equally off-hand way. Go ne was the most complicated cooker ever built in the history of the universe. As he sobbed.

of its lush meadows. as each individual had offered their help wil lingly. . suffering and death. But who would replace him? It was a thought that had constantly crossed his mind. Azmael hadn't needed to ask for such sacrifice. how effective would he be? As the TARDIS had made its wa y towards Jaconda. but determined no-one else should enjoy it. The ground was scorched and black. He was the President of Jaconda and the responsibility for the safety and well-being of his people di d lie with him. Civil servant. But alone. Of course. a heavy obnoxious stench hung in the air. Even those who had bravely fought soon surrendered once they realised the war could drag on for years. Mestor had t o die. Everything was covered in a thick. As the Doctor continu ed his exploration. A few had smiled to deceive their conqueror. Carefully. P erhaps it was too much to expect the Jacondans to be as brave as those on Vitrol Minor. declaring that Jaconda exists to trade peacefully. As the Doctor and his party stepped from th e TARDIS. timid face of a child sta ring at him from a nearby hill. it is sometimes necessary. its easy-going. Cautiously. Azmael dried his eyes. politician. Whil e the warriors had set about murdering the populace. mak ing it more and more difficult for Azmael to plot and plan. Ye t lately the creature seemed to grow stronger. its wooded countryside. It was time to stop remembering. The technology and imagination necessary for such a feat was beyond Azmael's co mprehension. then it was right that he should resign and leave others to try and succeed in their own way. The Time Lord waved and smiled. Azmael learnt . to his misery. been absolutely right. If he wasn't capable of fulfilling his duties. it seemed to offer little warmth. It is said by cynics that the shortest list of war heroes in the whole of the universe is to be found on Jaconda. as he had brought nothing to the planet but famine. was up to them. W hen Mestor and his army of gastropods had emerged from hibernation. but it saddened him that the people of his adopted planet had such littl e self respect and awareness of their own freedom and dignity. impacted soil. The cloud Mestor had sent to destroy the starfighters was proof of that. many sociall y important Jacondans had rushed to join him before an angry shot had been fired . jealous that it was unable to utilise its energy. Th e reality proved somewhat different. Whether the people of Jaconda wanted to fight or not. merchant and financier alike had all declared their allegiance and had openly collaborated. In spite of the barrenness of the planet. making close examination difficult. he had been smuggled off th e planet by brave people indifferent to their own personal safety. Although the twins had been harsh and brutal in their attack on Azmael. and however much war may be despised. only too aware that subjection to evil creates and feeds further evil. he wondered. they had in one respect. that there was more than a grain of truth in that observation. the Doctor moved around. It was as though a nuclear explosion had taken place. Although the Jacondan sun shone. As far as he was concerned. he had been helped beyond the call of any individual's duty. they couldn't believe the devastation before them. It had almost reache d the point where the Time Lord felt nowhere was safe from the prying awareness of his arch-enemy. Peri and Hugo w atched the painfully thin child and wondered how anyone managed to survive in su ch a place. examining first the stripped trunks of the trees. whilst quietly working to defeat him. then the heavy. but they had soon been betrayed and murdered. It never seemed to occur to them that only free people can trade pe acefully. more confident and inventive by t he day. friendly people. reminiscent of a particularly unpleasant compost heap.recently he had always been confident that ultimately he could defeat Mestor. as though the desolation absorbed the life-giving heat. When the Seedle warriors had come to Vitrol Minor in sea rch of Azmael. Jacondan historians deny this. Even Mestor's ability to thought-read had grown more effective. espec ially when invaded by a monster determined to destroy everything the planet is s upposed to hold sacred. the Doctor had waxed lyrical about the beauty of the planet. he caught sight of the frightened. mucus which hardened into a co ncrete-like substance. What was l eft of the trees looked like skeletons that had been gnawed and ravaged by sharp -toothed scavengers. but the boy scur ried off to whatever passed for safety in such a lifeless place.

' 'That will h ardly help him survive. he hadn't reacted.' Peri and Hugo looked at each other. 'What caused this devastation?' asked Hugo. Azmael dejectedly made his way back to his laboratory. the Doctor continued to examine the terrain..' 'But you said they had died out. there w ouldn't be enough to keep anyone alive longer than their current condition would permit. 'But that's all myth. The Doctor knew this and considered their time better spent searching o ut Mestor. Azmael hoped as a mark of respec t. Azmael had felt doubly embarrassed. the Doctor reckoned his companions could barely restrain their ea ger anticipation . Peri glanced at the Time Lord.. as they often were nowadays. With the co-ordinates set. 'Gastropods. many others had joined in the jeering and general abuse. 'He needs food now!' Ignoring her outburs t.' he sai d. 'The only way we can help him is to destroy what has caused this desolation.'Can't we help him?' asked Peri anxiously. Slugs did this? 'Gian t gastropods. who in his revenge had forced her to give birth to a half-hu man.. the Doctor operated the master co ntrol and the time rotor started to oscillate. 'myths are often embroidered stories that contain more than a grain of truth. He knew only too well that the c hild would probably die. Upon arriving on Jaconda.' 'Pity there isn't a sun god to relent and send a drought nowadays.. At least not yet.' said Peri. she thought. From their rude. Peri hoped this indicated the Doctor was begi nning to stabilise. 'Look at the slime tr ails if you don't believe me. 'As you well know. as Mestor had insisted on insulting him in f ront of his courtiers. The Doctor shook his head. Somehow they must have hatched. Peri glared at him. many of whom had served the elderly Time Lord when he had been President. Fascinated.' added the Doctor. It went s omething like this: Hundreds of years earlier. though. With the current state of the Do ctor's mind. crumbling a dry.' As they returned to the TARD1S. there would be many others in just as much need. There he found the twi ns staring through the glass wall that separated his work area from Mestor's hat chery. Why didn't he keep his mouth shut. 'Outside is real devastation!' Th e Doctor started to set the navigational coordinates. C autiously. Although some remained silent. ravaging and plundering the planet until every living plant h ad been eaten and everyone was on the verge of starvation.' 'Starting the whole cycle again?' 'Correct.. (The reasons for this rather unpleasant retribution wer en't certain.' snapped Peri. the Doctor briefl y related the myths and legends surrounding the gastropods of Jaconda. Again he had been subjected to a ranting tirade. the boys watched the technicians as they loaded gastropod egg s onto a conveyor . a then queen of the planet had of fended the sun god. If he had heard what had been said. Just co ncentrate on the fact that somehow giant slugs found their way to Jaconda. After being dismisse d. all it required was such a silly suggestion to set him off again. half-slug creature. Forget about sun gods and offending queens. use a little of your not inconsider able imagination. they would soon arrive at Azmael's palace where th ey could delight in the company of Mestor and his friends.' said Hugo. lifeless twig. Although there was food aboard the TARDIS. but where there was one hungry boy. sarc astic remarks. Azmael had been summoned before L ord Mestor. glancing over his shoulder. If his calculations were correct.) Before long the gastropod had multiplied until its offspring had become numberless. reading their thoughts.' 'My dear Peri. The beast itself may have died out but it seems fairly obvious that it left a heritage in the form of many clutches of eggs.. It wasn't until the p lanet had been devastated that the sun god relented and sent a drought to destro y the slugs. This time.

did not appeal to them. 'And now you're going to ask me why we're breeding so many gastropod eggs when I have already said that Jocanda is on the verge of starvation?' 'Not at a ll. Instead.' He tried to make the statement sound as matter of fact as he could. If things started to go wrong. 'So many eggs.' 'Come with me.. Moving the outer planets into the sa me orbit as Jaconda's was for him one way of trying to save his people from star vation. At least. a massive citadel. They would simply go ahead without them. are not only much smaller but are also uninhabited. 'Have you any idea what would happen if anything were t o go wrong?" '1 am assured that nothing will. Azmael would be forced to do something.' continued the Time Lord. they underst ood the pain that Azmael must be suffering. its colle cted . to die from another planet crashing into your own i s as permanent as dying from starvation. 'to bring Muston and Senial into th e same orbit as Jaconda.. Pressing a button built into the base the model jerked into life.belt system which then took them deep into the heart of the incubation area. however glamor ous it may appear to the onlooker. unforced an d the twins knew he meant it. but such had been its piecemeal development that any architectual or hi storical value it may have once had had long since been lost. I am inform ed by our agronomists. that's how they reasoned. Trying to ma ke too many plans was foolish.' Azmael led the twins t o a corner of the laboratory where there was a beautifully made astronomical mod el of the Jacondan solar system. But first they would have to gain the confidence of Azmael. The thought of dying heroically.' 'And what if we refuse to help?' 'Then 1 shall kill you. 'Your decision pleases me. After all. Neither would it stop Mes tor or Azmael. On the other hand.' The twins stared at Azmae l as though he were mad. Somehow they had to stop him.' Remus chipped in. As Mestor started to move the first planet and the impossibility of his task became obvious. he might insist that they continu e irrespective of the consequence. 'Once the planets have adjusted to their new position.' said Azmael rather stiffly.' Fascinating. Thank you.' Azmael smil ed. What we require from you is the mathematical deli cacy that will stabilise them once they are in their new orbit. 'Neurotic.' What was referred to as Azmael's palace was.' said Romulus. noticing Azmael. 'And what is supposed to be our part in this ridiculous plan?' 'We already have the t echnology to move the planets. The two other planets. Instead of feeling hurt and outraged. 'As you can see. thought the twins. Mestor was something else. It was said that parts of it were over two thousand ye ars old. The twins decided they would have to play the situation by ear. To aimlessly throw aw ay their lives by not co-operating would be pointless.. they had power to control events.. 'All right. They were also aware that the scheme was a lunatic one. logical argument and the reality of events.' Azmael nodded.' said Remus. 'You could be right. Alive. Must on and Senial. But it was hardly an answer to their question. psychotic .' 'Quite mad . Carefully. The largest and nearest to our sun in Jaconda. t hey could all finish up dead and with the Jacondan corner of the universe in cha os. But how? It was possible that Azmael would respond to reasoned. 'My brother and I were wondering how our mathematical skill c ould possibly aid you in slug husbandry.. we shall be able to farm them.' The statement was casual. For the first time in their dual existence they ha d been threatened with death. As he had the power to back his insistence. they considered what they should d o.' Then in spite of their good intention s (or was it a subconscious reaction to make their sudden conversion credible?) Romulus muttered. 'It is the in tention of Mestor. in fact. He was desperate to succeed. And they accepted it. W e'll just have to wait and see. 'We still think you're mad.. there are only three planets in our solar sy stem. The twins wondered how much he cared about anything. 'We'll cooperate.' 'And despotic.' they said as one voice. 'Will they all hatch?' The Time Lord n odded.

buildings gracelessly sprawled down from the top of the mountain on which the or iginal structure had been built. dank cor ridor. Seconds later. he might even be granted the ultimate accolade. Unnoticed by the Doctor and Peri. Peri and Hugo were not destined to see this vie w of the citadel. going they knew not where. 'Azmael gave me a conducted tour the last time I was here. but suddenly became aware that someth ing was dragging at his feet. there was still something odd and remote about him. They were no sooner in place then through the sil ence they heard the faint mooing and slithering of two gastropods. Hugo realised that the mucus wa s beginning to set hard. but Hugo had decided to dump them at the first opportunity. most of all. There was also the Doctor and Peri to consider. Nowadays she didn't know what to expect fr om the Doctor. hoarse whisper.' As he spoke. or specialise in appearing on the numerous chat shows that domin ated the public viddy channels. ever since he h ad joined starfighter command. the Doctor placed his hand on his youn g companion's mouth to silence her. Looking down. pungent smell. Thi s passage leads to his laboratory. Peri whispered. Hugo had over looked one thing: he still had to find the twins. they would transfer to the debate programmes. Peri heard herself saying indignantly. that of becoming the chairman o f his very own show! Carried away on the wings of his own fantasy.' . Quickly. his intention to find the twins and get back to the TARDIS while the Doctor was dealing with Mestor. as the Doctor had decided to materialise in one of its maze of forgotten corridors. the Doctor pushed Hugo and Peri into a deep alco ve leading off the passageway. That's what you get for wandering off!' 'S pare me the lecture. he was stuck fast. As a hero h e would be able to give up flying -something that still frightened him possibly enter politics. a perfect choice. As he tried to move on. it was safe. He had always dreamed of being declared a hero. the adoration overwhelming a nd. the group became aware of a str ong. he saw that his boots were covered b y a dense. as though someone had glued him to the floor. The more he thought about it. he added. of which there were even more than chat shows. 'I'm stu ck!' The Doctor and Peri peered into the passage and immediately saw the literal mess the pilot had got himself into. The stench which emanated from them was so overpowe ring that Peri started to retch. As they grew older. Although he seemed to have stabilised since his earlier erratic o utbursts. Quickly. The risk was too great as there were bound to be armed guards nearby. the more the i dea excited him. Peri didn't answer. the Doctor gripped his arm and indicated that he should not us e it. Hugo decided to take his chance. His natural good looks.' 'You didn't expect me to materialise in the throne room?' was the sharp retort. 'Are you sure we're going the right way?' T he Doctor nodded. he slipped into the main passageway. thereby also saving his own career. 'Please get me out of here!' 'Can't. He didn't want to risk anyone eclipsing his success. Careful study of it in flight had convinced Hugo that he was capable of handling the ship alone. Doctor!' Then softening his tone. The money was good. wiser and better informed. As they moved off along the passageway. he started to make his way along the passage. sticky mucus. easy charm and ability to look good in a uniform made him. very similar to the one that had pervaded the wasteland they had visisted earlier. so Hugo thought. As the trio stepped from the TARDIS into a dingy. Cautiously. Neither did he need the Docto r to pilot the TARDIS. If Hugo proved really successful. 'This is the seediest stately home I've ever seen. As the group continued to move cautiousl y along the passage. With gastropods gone and their sickly smell beginning to clear. it had occurred to Hugo that if the twins were on Jaconda. 'Doctor!' he called in a loud. As t hey pressed deeper into the dark shadows which shared the alcove with them. Heroes never slipped in the ratings. the two gastropods slithered by. As Hugo silen tly drew his gun. he could still fulfill his mission and rescue them.

'I'm off. 'If you kill the Doctor. Here the hardened trails of mucus were more numerous and the Doctor increased his pace. take him back to the TARDIS. N either was she given the chance to. didn't it? But you'll find there is more to flying the TARDIS than pressing a few switches. I wasn't thinking. As Hugo worked. Then q uickly into an alcove and the safety of its dark shadows. and he starte d off along the passage. 'Leave me here and I'll kill you. A thin.' snapped the Doctor. hard slime with the toe of his sh oe.' growled Hugo.' 'I'll ta ke my chance. 'Unless you're implying I'm about to have one of my fits!' That was precisely what Peri was implying.' Uncertain whether the Doctor was cracking some sort of Gall ifreyan joke.' interrupted Peri. Looked simple. the Time Lord jogged.' snapped the Doctor. and slowly the hardened mucus be gan to buckle under the high temperature of the ray. Along yet another bleak. T panicked. I won't help you.' 'If those gastropods come back.' The Doctor smiled. 'I sense that something terrible is about to happen. I have more important matters to attend to. I've also come to the conclusion that it is best to spend the time between those two unfortunate events alone.' Hugo levelled his gun and took carefu l aim at the Doctor.' he said. 'Now go back to Hugo.' A moment lat er he had mounted a much worn flight of stone steps and.' Hugo considered the situation for a mome nt. Together we might be able to defeat them. 'And when he's freed himself from the mucus. 'Then how would you get home?' Hugo didn't reply. Carefully h e lined the gun up with the edge of his boot and squeezed the trigger. perfect beam of light shot from the weapon. but thought it unwise to pursue the point. 'I'm sorry. r ed. I don't want either of you getting in my way. concerned by his sudden change of mood. The Time Lord prodded the thick. trying to sound like a little bo y caught doing something naughty. 'I'm wasting valuable time.'Why not?' 'Gastropod slime trails set like concrete.' 'But will he be quick enough?' Peri didn't understand. 'If you set your laser gun to its lowest setting you might be able to cut yourself free.' 'You should tr y it sometime. I was born alone.' A look of horror spread across Hugo's face. Up another flight of stairs. 'I'm sure he won't be long.' Hugo i nstantly obeyed. then lowered his gun.' snapped the Doctor. watched by a confused and very worried Per i. 'I am not agitated!' Suddenly the Doctor sto pped dead and Peri almost bumped into him. Peri following.' 'You can't abandon him!' pleaded Peri. 'I'm concerned you may meet more g astropods. More trails meant more gastropo ds and he had to find Azmael before he was discovered himself. taking them two at a ti me. 'Then you'll take it alone.' Peri gazed at the s trained features of the Time Lord. dank corridor. T saw the way you were watching me when I was operating the TARDIS's controls. I shall die alone. disappeared into the gloom above. the young pilot looked down at his trapped boots.' 'I have always managed alone. Do you understand?' Peri nodded. Now try pointing tha t gun at your feet. But alone you wouldn't stan d a chance. There's nothing I can do. Instead she said. the Doctor whispered to Peri.' His voice was now tense and irri table. as the Doctor caught s ight . 'You can't leave me here!' 'I can and I must. they'll kill me!' 'You should have thought about that when you tried to sneak away. On reaching the top of the steps the Doctor turned into an even more miserabl e passage than the one he had just left. 'You'll find it useful. cursing for not having thought of the idea himself. 'Do you think it wise to go off alone w hen you're so agitated!' she asked.

Who in the world is this fool? their ex pression said. who had been slouched in a corner reading a comic. my de ar Doctor. the Time Lord threw open the door and bounded in. Azmael?' Rapidly the bemused quartet in the room turned to se e who was making so much fuss and noise.' The Doctor looked around the room. 'And I wouldn't be too quick to blame him. Hugo had managed to free himself from the hardened slime. His mission. the Doctor could also h ear the more squeaky. delighted that his old friend was able to project his voi ce so well. feeling less affable.' he said ext ending his hand.' Azmael extended his hand again. 'He's telli ng the truth. the young pilot had refused to return to the TAR DIS. Deciding it was time to play the diplom at. he continued his quest desperately trying to remember where Azmael's laboratory was. as he moved off in the same direction the Doctor had taken. though. he heard a familiar. 'First tell me what's going on here. he was finally forced to face the fact that he was lost. was the first to move. 'It was the other man. Although Peri had protested long and forcefully. Tm delighted to see that you're safe. the Doctor was all ears. eh.' This time the hand was accepted. Unfor tunately. both amazed and impressed at the boldness of the plan. Then slowly.' said Drax. Silently the Doctor liste ned. he had declared rather pompously. As Peri turned to run.' The Doctor shook his head. He demanded to know why Azmael had found it necessary to try and kill him. With all the swash and buckle o f a Sabatini hero.' The Doctor didn't believe the Jacondan.' The Doctor. mo mentarily struck dumb by the unnecessary aggression of the Doctor's arrival. This time. 'His name's No ma. less controlled voices of the twins. Hugo had proclaimed his quest too loudly. loc ated his voice. 'Where is he?' 'With Lord Mestor. Azmael. she had come face to face with a third guard who smiled p olitely then twisted her arm painfully behind her back. only to find his deep. and.' Quic kly Azmael told of Mestor's plan to move the two outer planets of the Jacondan s olar system and turn them into agricultural paradises.' said Remus. To take a wrong turning now would not only l ead him further away from Azmael. What to do next? As he pondered. 'Still bull ying children. It was Azmael! The Doctor broke into a run as he headed toward s the pedagogic chant. t hrough which the dulcet tones of his old teacher boomed. With the danger passed. How many times had the Doctor sat in Azmael's classroom. 'I am truly delighted you survived. two Jacondan guards stepped from the shadow s rendering him unconscious neatly and efficiently with the butt of their guns. responded with a mouthful of abuse. painfully. As he approached the heavy wooden door. until his eye fell o n the astronomical model. then braced himself to enter the room. she hated it! End Game.of another gastropod. 'Azmael didn't know the self-destr uct mechanism had been set. schoolmasterly voice echoing along the corrido r nearest to him. but deeper into the citadel and closer to bein g caught by Mestor's guards. was to save the twins. 'Now we must find somewhere for you to hide. The Doctor glanced over his shoulder to see who they were really looking at. Meanwh ile. Romulus and Remus watched t he Jacondan in eager anticipation of violence. he realised they were looking at him. As the Doctor entered a large quadrangle with a corridor leading off from every corner. and like the times before. As he got to h is feet he tugged his laser pistol from its holster. Delightedly the Docto r smiled. . 'My dear friend.' added Romulus. The Doctor scratched his head. trying not to listen to one of his complicated lectures. Part One Drak. then stepped forward to greet him. Once more she was a pris oner. Drak stepped between the two arguing men. rolling vow el sounds breaking through the protective wall of his distracted thoughts. He was only obeying Mestor's or ders. But they were unlucky.

If Mestor was interested in what th e Doctor was saying. Very impressive. Time Lord?' The Doctor let out a high-pitched. sibilant voice which definitely wasn't Noma's. There was silence. the psychological strategy of bullying a victim into submission was an uninspired one.' Azmael stiffened.' 'Then why do you resist me?' 'I'm secretive by nature.' he smirked. As the D octor glanced around. the Doctor strolled through the hologram image of Mestor. Not onl y did the Doctor know he had Mestor's interest. something. 'I think you'd better come with me. 'You certainl y get around. IOQ 'Quite safe. As they did. I mean. the Doctor crossed to examine it more carefully. A sudden roar filled the labo ratory. 'Especially as I think I can h elp you. a hologram image started to form in the middle of the room. 'Is this model to scale?' enqui red the Doctor. Noma appeared at the door. Fear. There was n o need for him to ask whether the model was of the Jacondan solar system.' 'Of course. he would have learnt that a quieter way to d omination leaves the opponent far more shattered than the loudest shout. In spite of his confidence. you would have .' muttered the Doctor. his silence also told him he was less certain of his skill in successfully manoeuvring the planets than he was l etting on.' 'You are telling the truth. 'The Lord Mest or wishes you to exmaine the humanoid for internal damage.' chirped the Doctor. 'Are you interested in my help?' 'Wh y should I want you to help me?' 'I would rather you were successful in your aim s.' the voice hissed. than you destroy this part of the universe. I can sense your presence in my mind. the Doctor pulled his voice down a full half octave and said with as much assurance as he could muster. 'Mind you. Although I'm sure you won't be disappointe d in having me around. you know.' He paused.' 'Where's Peri?' demanded the Doctor. 'Of course. then the Doctor knew he was in trouble. neatly engraved plaque announced the fact. 'Although I would have thought it m ore polite if you had announced your presence without me having to seek you out.Followed by Azmael. m oving planets isn't for amateurs.' said Az mael crossing to Hugo. Although M estor considered himself clever. The Lord Mestor w ould like a few words with you. the pressure was beginning to tell on him as well. Anyway. but before Mestor could follow it up. as a s mall. 'You should know. he would be eager to hear more. Doctor. showing off again. 'Azmael has been telling me of your plan to shift the orbit of two of your planets. the practical experience that will guarantee success. supporting a stunned Hugo. 'Is there something wrong?' But before the Doctor could answer. the gastropod wouldn't like.' As he spoke. can only be a useful weapon when its user can deliver the coup de grace knowing he has nothin g to lose. the Doctor continued. instinct to ld him.' the Doctor said casually. nervous laugh he had intended to soun d ironic.' 'Very interesting. but I have the empirical skill. induced by bullying. 'We lcome to Jaconda. He was right. If he continued to shout an d bluster. if you were to learn everything too soon. wondering where the sound had come from. Silence from a bully tells his opponent far too much. ' 'Actually I didn't come to see you. the door of the laboratory was thrown open and two guards entered. 'Well?' the Doctor said at last. At the same moment Noma noticed the Doctor. ' You help meT That's right. Gently they lowered him into a chair. In an attempt to correct his error. expecting Mestor to violently lose his temper.' echoed a sickly. one false move and the planet you're trying to shift could fly off in any direction. The twins may possess the mathematic al knowledge. It was Mestor. If Mestor had b een as clever as he thought he was.

It contains little but a scant knowledge of botany and certainly nothing that wo uld assist you in your task. As Azmael downed his second beaker. 'Incredible.' Inside his head. I'm too old to cope with this sort of strain. As they re filled their cups with more of the golden liquid.' There was a loud roar and the hologram disappeared. 'I belie ve you have a friend of mine prisoner. Drak. the familiar glow the twins knew only too well from t heir father spread slowly across his face. 'Perhaps you could do me o ne last favour. Thanks for getting m e out of trouble. If the Doctor was planning to escape. felt his need was greater than theirs. Doctor. As the D octor. he certainly wasn't going to make it easy for him. drawn face of Azmael.little reason to keep me alive. In spite of his initial victory.' A groan from a slumped figure.' he said cheekily.' Mestor's voice was now hard and cold.' muttered Azmael. Azmael. the Doctor gave a small cheer. Lor d Mestor. Her presence inspires with in me a certain tranquility that is most useful if I am to do my best work. Azmael enquired if anyone else wanted a drink. The Doctor didn't answer and Peri shook her head politely. Mestor had given in just a little too easily. deep in thought.' The Doctor mentally crossed his fingers. 'I am indeed grateful.' 'I s hall need her to assist me.' The hologram flickered and the Doctor feared that i ts disappearance would be Mestor's dismissive answer. snatching up the Voxnic and taking a large mouthful.' As he spoke. Th e poor man looked as though he was about to collapse. Alth ough the twins showed great interest. crossed to attend to him. perched precariously on a hard.' said Mestor. the Doctor ordered the guards with the exception of Drak from the laboratory. the door opened and.' His voice sou nded a little manic and it worried Peri. Peri sheepishly entered. I have one request to make. the Doctor let out a sudden shout. Mestor had reasoned. but in reality. As he did so. If anyone was n umbering the rounds.' said the Doctor dismissively. the Doctor still felt uneasy.' she mewed. It would be difficult enough to operate knowing that Mestor could tune in whenever he wanted without having gua rds looking over his shoulder. very well. 'Are you all right?' 'Of course I'm all right. 'You may have your int ellectual prop. The next time you do something as foolish. I would be grateful for prio r warning.' True. aware that the Time Lord was playing with him. Something wasn't quite right. 'You may serve me.' The woman from Earth. Perha ps Peri could bring a bottle of Voxnic with her. Much to everyone's amazement they left without ar gument.' he shouted. the Doctor glanced at the grey. than I shall have you put to death immedi ately. in spite of everything. But then seconds before the Doctor had uttered his command. Azmael. The astronomical model still worried him and. . 'When I say I requi re her assistance.' the Doctor teased. 'I've never heard anyone ta lk to Mestor in such a manner and live.' Aga in.' 'Oh. 'But before I start work . As she picked up the bottle. I mean that in a metaphorical way. Mestor had o rdered them to leave and find his TARDIS. served to announce that L ieutenant Hugo Lang was regaining consciousness. c lutching a large bottle of Voxnic. the hologram flickered. for ever caring and vigil ant. 'I have scanned her mind. She is here. wooden chair.' This is just the beginning. But before the air of triumph was allowed to fade. but shou ld I sense any deception on your part. 'That's it! I knew there was something wrong. 'Azmael is in need of a mild stimulant. he had definitely won the first. 'Oh. The Doctor dismissed her thanks with a wave of the hand and continued his pacing. Even Peri noticed the change and thou ght she might try a little herself. Hugo and Drak fell on the bottle of Voxnic and quickly poured and drank a large beakerful each.' The Doctor cleared his throat. somewhat paternally. paced up and down the laboratory. absolutely. decided they were too young.

'Your mind has been on other things. 'Why didn't I realise?' he stammered. The Doctor turned to Azmael who was about to slurp his way through a third beakerful of Voxnic. Think of the consequences. hoping some half-forgotten incident might jog his inspiratio n into solving the current problem. oh why didn't I think of that myself?' The Doctor placed a reassuring arm around his old friend's shoulder.' A zmael did. Azmael still couldn't see what he was supposed to. Think again.' 'And when the planet hits the sun.' 'Why not?' enquired Peri. 'it'll be like the birth of a super nova. o ld friend. 'Be cause their orbit would rapidly decay and they would crash into the sun. despite possessing a mathematical skill equal to the twins. They wouldn't last any time at all. Til take your word for it.' That was obvious.' he said prodding each of them in turn. Yes?' Peri shrugged. that of the Dance of Death. framed by her always perf ectly groomed.' The Doctor glanced at Hugo as though he had forgotten he was in the room. 'I have the feeling he'll be long gone by then. 'Why. All he seemed able to recall were faces and fragments of incidents. the g roup settled into an atmosphere of silent depression. Zoe and Jamie. pretty face.' he said crossing to the astronomical model. 'He'll be killed too.' wailed Azmael. Even Turlo ugh. Then look at the plan ets to be moved.' 'Place the two sma ller planets in the same orbit as Jaconda and how long do you think they'd remai n there?' Slowly Azmael placed his beaker on the table. the only companion who had seriously tried to kill him. but you sa id this model was to scale. Adric who. Yet the same question poun ded through each and every brain in the room: what did Meslor hope to achieve by deliberately destroying his own sun? Soon they would find out.' the Doctor insis ted.' The elderly Time Lord nodded. It's basic physics. He recalled Jo Grant. but nothing startling occurred to him.'I'm certainly all right. with her soft. and allowed his mind to flick through the many pages of his long memory. 'Both of them are small er than Jaconda. Azmael. 10 End Game. 'Correct me if I'm wrong. 'It's a matter of simple physics. The gravitational pull of the sun on Jaconda is more or le ss constant. That's right. It's the situation that's wrong!' He slammed the bottl e down on the table as though to enforce his statement. But the image that danced most freque ntly across the history of time was that of Adric. flittered in and ou t of images of Nyssa.' mutt ered Hugo. Leela. 'Look at this. But it didn't. Then wh y does he allow it?' said Peri.' Simple or not.' 'But I should have known at once.' Hugo emptied his beaker.' Watched by Drak. blond hair. some of which he would rather have forgot ten. Romana and Liz Shaw. if those planets should be brought into the same orbit as Jaconda. controlled by the . 'Do you think Mestor knows what will happen?' The Doctor nodded. It was Adric who had been killed wh ilst trying to divert a freighter. 'Can't you give us a clue?' prompted Peri. 'You're absolutely right. for he performed the most gro tesque caper of all.' Azmael buried his head in his hands. He remembered Tegan. had always managed to aggravate everyone aboard the TARDIS with his childish antics denying him the thing he desired mos t: to be loved and accepted for what he was. Par t Two The Doctor stared at the glass partition which separated Mestor's hatchery from the laboratory area.' The Doctor smiled at her naivety. The Doctor thought for a moment.

Cybermen. crossed to the control box situated at the s ide of the partition and fiddled with one of the switches. The techn icians had gone and the conveyor belt was stationary. Neither did the Doctor a nswer. the food which nourishes the young within?' Peri shrugged and then looke d down at the egg.' 'Can we get into it?' The elde rly Time Lord operated another lever on the control panel and. 'Hard-boil it?' 'Hardly!' The Doctor wasn't in the mood for jokes. But still nothing happened. With the partition fully open. who had refused to leave the ship and had given his life to help others. eerie shadows. the Doctor seemed to be asses sing the egg.' Peri glanced at Azmael and hoping f or his support said: 'But do we have the time?' If Azmael agreed with the questi on. snatching the egg from his companion. Peri crossed the room and joined them. Slowly he refocussed his eyes so that his gaze passed through the glass partition and into the hatchery beyond. something that was so natural and obvious it took the Time Lord a full minut e to realise what it was. 'Something wrong?' enquired Peri. the jelly.' As the cutter continued to ineffectually blaze away at th e egg. help or ul timately like. they were dry. thought the Doctor. It certainly was dry. the trio entered the hatchery. as the heavy part ition started to rise. as he remained silent. The level of lighting had also been reduced. but then the sort of slugs she was used to didn't come two metres high and talk! 'There's something wrong. There cert ainly is. . Packed around its walls were millions of eggs. As they scrambled past the conveyor belt.' Peri and Azmael followed as the Doctor made his way back to the lab oratory area. forcing the shadows to hide. 'What are you trying to do?'j ested Hugo. The sight made the Doctor feel uneasy and he climbed to his feet. But careful examination proved that it was in perfect working ord er. from crashing into prehistoric Earth. As their eyes became accustomed to the gloom. But nothing happened. He had mo re urgent problems to occupy his mind. It wasn't the time to remember such things. It was this memory that the Doctor feared most. Not only had he been forced to stand helplessly by. ' The beam of the cutter is as hot as a diamond is hard. It was these feelings that made Adric the saddest and most painfu l memory of all. fruity smell. the Doctor moved to one of the racks and lifted out an egg. Something was aggravating him. 'I shall need a laser cutter. Slowly the lights cam e up inside the hatchery. Strange. The Doctor shook his head as though trying to shake himself fre e of the unpleasant image. Cupping it in his hands. allowing the white hot beam of light to focus on a single spot of the rubbery shell. 'This may be the answer we've been l ooking for. trying to work out what was wrong with it. 'Mestor's hatchery. they entered the dark cavern which was the main incubation area. an unpleasant slurping sound was heard to come from within the shell. it became apparent that the cavern went on for miles.' he said placing it on a work b ench. there must be something wrong wi th the cutter. 'I'm curious. each one fitting neatly and preci sely into a purpose-built slot. creating dense. It was the approximate size and shape of a rugby ball an d weighed about one kilo. So he tried again. T must see what's inside this egg. Without comment. 'What's this?' Azmael amb led over to join the Doctor. It should have at least s cratched the surface. why are they dry? Where is the mucus. It was hot and sticky and gave off a pungent. Stubborn Adric. but the boy had died without the Doctor ever being able to fully praise. The Doctor immediately set to work. For something was missi ng. If these are gastropod eggs. the Doctor handed the egg to Peri and quickly moved to another rack. 'Why do you want t o go in there?' she enquired. he didn't care to pursue it. gnawing at the back of his mind. Carefully he felt all the eggs housed in it.' Azmael rummaged momentarily in a cabinet an d handed the Doctor what he wanted. Cautiously. and like the first one.' said the Do ctor.

'Deal with Mestor!' The elderly Time Lord's face crinkled into a half ironic smile. Doctor.' ordered the Doctor. When the Doctor had subsequently discovered that the shell of the gastropod eg gs could resist the maximum setting on a laser cutter . And the simplest way to do that would be to send a hard. If so few gastr opods could cause so much damage. Bu t the sad.' And. but they had reduced its once fertile plains to the scorched. Such were the brutal. The shocked silence of the group was broken by the squeaky. 'Our genius was to be abused. the slurping sound stopped. a planet would do very nicely . outraged voice of th e twins. .' . Bu t the Doctor was no longer listening. you shouldn't be under any threat of death. I n a quiet. Therefore. but he was interested in moving planets.' ' No he isn't. 'You're talking in riddles. it would take very little time to devour any produce grown on the two planets Mestor wis hed to cultivate. The embryo only reacte d to the heat. The Doctor was also aware that Peri and Hugo's own scepticism wouldn't help them to believe what he was about to tell them. Ts it going to hatch?' enquired Peri.' said Azmael. 'And w hat do we do?' enquired Azmael. I have even lost my ability to regenerate. Doctor. And you. beginning to see what the Doctor was getting at. nodding head of Azmael confirmed he had come to the same conclusion. Your mind could clou d at any moment. The easiest way to create the tremendous power necessary would be to explode a star.. that on completion of r elating these facts. 'Now you're both talking in riddles. Mestor had to be stopped. As Mestor still needs the twins al ive. I am ol d. but the reassurance of Azmael's c oncurrence made it unlikely. One very effective way to distribute his unhatched eggs would be to create an en ormous explosion. 'What is going on?' How best to explain an intuitive leap.. Yet only a few metres from them were millions of eggs awaiting the opportunity to hatch. S o how best to do this? As far as the Doctor knew.' said Azmael. But did it matter? Did any of it matter? Right or wrong in his assumption.' echoed his sibling. murderous implications of what was intended.The Doctor switched off the cutter as the sound grew momentarily louder and then more unpleasant. Only it isn't anything like hot enough yet. even voice the Doctor began to relate how and what he had concluded. 'You must escort the twi ns and Peri back to the safety of the TARDIS. In fact. but she didn't und erstand what he was talking about either. At the safe house Azmael had said that Mestor had led an original army of severa l hundred gastropods.' Puzzled. 'Hugo. Simple mathematics had told the Doctor that three sma ll planets could not support so many hungry. massive rock spinning to its heart. as though to prove him right. 'Are we capable? Look at us. 'Out rageous!' stamped Romulus. Mestor was not involved in bui lding a massive fleet of transporters.' insisted Peri. Domina tion of the universe with his own kind by exploding the Jacondan sun.' The young pilot nodded. greedy mouths. Hugo glanced at Peri. cold. Mestor's intention must be to extend his empire a great deal further.some ten thousand degree s centigrade without incurring a scratch. barren state Peri and Hugo had earlier seen for themselves. whose inspiration stems from tiny disparate events a nd observations? It was possible he was wrong. he had co ncluded. Mestor's scheme seemed obvious. especia lly after his eccentric behaviour since his regeneration. Instead of petty complaints what was neede d now was a plan of action. T don't think so. the Doctor wasn't certain he could believe them himself. We are hardly fit competition for someone with the power that M estor controls.'Mestor expected us to achieve that for him!' The Doctor concurred. Not only had they taken over Jaconda.. 'Precisely what it's supposed to do.

Azmael had warmed to Drak. he was provided with a greater and more honourable motive than simple . Mosten wasn't a chemist but an archeologist who was visiting the planet to authenticate a recent priceless discovery of Senilian vases and figurines. he aged and died in seconds. He had vowed to destroy Mestor and now was his chance. partly because of the sheer size of the find. Doctor!' 'Good man!' The Doctor then turned to D rak. There was little honour or romantic bravado in being nailed to a tree w ith your eyes put out. Further investigatin found the vases and statues not what they. As he started to order him to go with the others to the TARDIS. To die fighting evil was a romantic notion he had alway s held. Further inves tigation showed the reason for the deception: the planet was bankrupt. It had be en the intention of the Senilians to pass off the discovery as authentic. thought Azmael. that was the plan. on bein g analysed.' 'Then Mestor will be expecting us.' moaned Azmael plaintively. Mosten had become immed iately suspicious. He had liked the way he had taken the twins under h is wing. he was able to acquir e two flasks of the unique liquid. were supposed to be. but ages whatever is immersed in it by a unique process of dehydration. finding menace in our own shadow. carefu lly filed. At lea st. the Docto r picked up two small flasks of Mosten acid which he then secreted in one of his deep pockets. They had also planned to 'discover' further items which they would exhibit. Unfortunately for Mosten.' Gently. We have spent our lives fighting evil. the Jacondan crashed to the floor. No longer w ould incredibly hard substances such as modern alloys have to be drilled. but modern copies. Azmael was at his side. Slowly. but he was also aware of Mestor's skill at humiliating his victims befor e death. creating a tourist industry which would solve their long-term cash flow. there was even less honour in dying afraid of a knock on the door or being scared of going out after dark. Mosten was so angered by the deception that he set out to discover how the Senilians had managed to age their pseudo antiques so skilfull y. his mind burnt out. thereby solving their immediate fiscal probl ems. Such was his determination that it didn't take him long to find the chemist w ho had invented the acid.'Better we die in harness. subjected to . he stood a greater opportu nity of succeeding. your tongue missing and the skin flailed from your body. battling against the odds. 'I'm with you. the elder ly Time Lord stood up. Unlike most acids. Still. If he had need of it. one of the flasks b roke in his pocket. With the aid of a massive bribe. Azmael closed the dead eyes of the Jacondan. sellin g the pieces to the highest bidder. Quickly. Fortunately for the planet Senile. was declared a breakthrough in the science of chemistry. the second flask had survived and. It required minimal examination to establish Drak was dead. With the Doctor at his side. As the Doctor and Azmael left the laboratory. Professor Vinny M osten discovered the acid which bears his name quite by chance when on an expedi tion to the planet Senile Nine. but also becaus e of their pristine state. When presented with the discovery. However. especially s ince their mission to Earth. And with the knowledge of Mestor's ambition numbing his sens ibilities.' The Doctor's words sounded bold and exciting to Azmael. caring for them as though they were his own children. carefully aged. than die in fear. Mosten acid doesn't burn or corrode. 'I t must be the work of Mestor. 'He must have used Dra k as a monitoring point to overhear everything we've said. he became a ware of the blank. When he arrived at the conference there was nothing left of him but a pile of grey as h. whilst travelling to the press confe rence where he was to publicly expose and denounce the acid. petty revenge. the death of Drak was yet another r eason to destroy Mestor. We are certainl y too old to give up that particular habit now. Although th ey had not been the greatest of friends. 'Are you all right?' Instead of a reply. glassy-eyed look on his face.

Mestor growled. Time Lord. it was Azmael who s upplied an answer to the Doctor's concern. he made his way along the corridor. he stank.' he rasped. slobbering form of Mestor. Mestor. destroyed beyond restoration. safely and. but a buffoon. would you want to discuss it in front of Jacondan courtiers and guards? Personally I would think you would prefer to keep it all rather private.' Briskly. . Will you give up this nonsense?' 'No. slouched on his throne. 'Are you listening to me. But what broke Azmael's heart most of all were the thick layers of petrified mucus which encased the mosaic floor. offhand manner. In spite of his earlier conversation with the Doctor. Do you understand?' He understood perfectly. it seemed that Azmael was right. involuntary laugh. As the barrier faded. 'I'm warning you. Although Senile Nine had been denied wealth through tourism. but he was not t hinking about it as. What could he say? He had failed. simply. dank. Cautiously. any shape or depth of hole could be creat ed quickly. Th e Doctor knew the history of the acid he carried in his pocket. Now it was rui ned. 'Long walk. and you knew tha t I knew what you planned for this planet. and the gastropod was mildly titillated by it. Yet none of these small refinements did anything to compensate for meeting Mest or in the flesh. But he wasn' t fast enough. As the Doctor had only seen and hea rd Mestor via a hologram projection. sepulchral throne r oom. Everything dripped including the b eautiful tapestries which adorned the walls.' As they entered the long. and the slobbering mass which sat upon the ma rble throne before them didn't care at all. Azmael and I have worked out what you're up to and it's got to stop!' The gastropod ga ve a small. From any point of view. in more extreme cases.controlled explosion or. Time Lord. he was still unaccustomed to being spoken to in such a rude. As they waited for the massive steel doors to the throne room to swing electronically open. he was surprised by the deepness and richne ss of his voice. more importantly for money-orientated societies. it n ow grew rich and fat on the production of what became known as Mosten's acid. 'You'd better be!' The Doctor sounded more like a street bully than a Time Lord negotiating with a creature capable of taking over the universe. Gone was the marked sibilance and slight cackle the hologram ha d created. The Doctor hoped they could conclude their business as soon as possible a nd be gone. the two Time Lo rds started the long trek towards their captor.' said the Doctor flippan tly. but even he would take some precautions. for the time being. He suddenly found the Doctor amusin g. 'It seems that you are not only mad. Wit h the careful application of the acid. As they walked. 'Co ntrol your arrogance. but there seemed little point in t aking any notice. with Azmael. Such was its final glory that it i t had been declared an ancient wonder of the Trilop Major galaxy. And what's more. He was mor e worried by the lack of guards. Instantly a blue barrier of energy surrounded the gastropod and t he flask smashed harmlessly against it. Azmael noticed t hat massive humidifiers had been installed and that each one was saturating the atmosphere with an ultra-fine sheet of water. 1 don't think the sight of you was worth it. Mestor?' The gastropod be lched again. very cheaply. 'B ecause I'm not having your sluggy eggs spread all over the place. A thousand years ago it had taken Jacondan artisans ten years to create the fasc inating and intricate patterns of the mosaic. 'And now I'm here. It took courage to threaten Mestor in his own throne room. Gone.' Then take the consequences. simply left to weather away. then belched. It made him feel uneasy. The throne room wasn't a pleasant place to be. the Doctor removed one o f the flasks of Mosten acid from his pocket and threw it at Mestor. 'Y ou think that I would be so vulnerable?' The Doctor shrugged. 'If you were Mestor. 'Look. was the melodramatic postering and ranting. Doctor!' T his didn't please him at ali. Apart from the massive. the room was empty. he was disgusting. causing havoc. Mestor might be all po werful.' Mestor mov ed uneasily in his chair.

' 'Then prove it!' The face of Azmael sneered. 'Are you all right?' Azmael started to work his mouth up and down.' You take over my mind. It would sink without trace.' but Mestor didn't finish the sentence. 'We must mind-link. almost childish.' 'Please.' Carefully Mestor altered his position.. As the Doctor continued to watch. 'Al l I need is. The t hought of dying didn't very much appeal to him. how would I be able to take over his body and mind?' The Doctor let out an involuntary snigger. You must destroy Mest or's body. His mind is muddled. you are totally preoccupied with your own pettiness.' But how? The Doctor's exp erience in dissecting two metre long slugs was non-existent. 'but my experience in mind control is greater than yours. Concern ed. That's how he manag ed to survive. As the green light faded. He's an old man. 'The Doctor has be en ill. but then the Doctor wasn' t used to seeing physical transference of one creature's mind to another. This wasn't what the Doctor had expected. Lord Mestor. h e will learn to appreciate the respect due to you. As it reached Azmael's forehead.' The words sounded foolish. 'I cou ld do the same to you. chairs being unnatural for his body shape. t hat the Doctor would cease to exist. Azmael. 'I said.' pleaded Azmael. luminous green finger of concentrated energy shot out and locke d on to Azmael's forehead. I have taken over his mind. The Lord Mestor i s quite capable of doing what he says. the blob spread across his face. The elderly Time Lord screamed. But I am a Time Lord.' said Azmael. If I were to ki ll him.. I did not say he would die. 'I cannot control Mestor for much longer. Then without war ning.' 'I can contain him.' While Azmael continued to plead for his friend. although he did rec all having once read that the garden variety could be destroyed by covering them with sodium chloride. Time Lord. It would be like throwing a pebb le into a lake. A moment late r it was gone. with rest. Doctor. It's affected his reasoning.' Mestor laughed loudly.. He found it difficult to maintain the same posture for long. When words finally did emerge. Doctor!' scr eamed Azmael. but Mestor's that he heard . Doctor.' 'I may be old.. I'm sure.' Suddenly the Doctor rem embered the second flask of Mosten acid and set about searching for .'I thought.' That's not fair. But like so many huma noid life forms. but nothing came out. M estor's body collapsed. like a ventriloquist's dummy. the Doctor rushed to his friend. lifeless like the skin of a snake when sloughed. a vicious. a small black blob seemed to wo rk its way along the finger of light. But then Mestor was rarely predictable.' 'He has tried to kill me. 'Perhaps you would like me to demonstrate how feeble a Time Lord's mind reall y is?' As the question was a rhetorical one. Instead his voice faded. and you will be lost. Mestor did not wait for an answer.' insisted the Doctor. 'He's weakening. 'Together we can de stroy him. otherwise he will attempt to return to it. Mestor now resided in Azmael's brain. 'I think it's time I dealt with you. his body heaving with the effort of controlling the unwanted pre sence in his mind. But where would he find enough salt? 'Hurry. the Doctor glanced over his shoulder and wondered whether he could m ake it to the door before Mestor had time to unveil another of his tricks. then slowly it began to permeate the skin. All Jaconda is affected with his thoughts.' croaked Azmael. Doctor.' 'Please. it was not Azmael's voice. Mestor is attempting to control too much. Doctor. perhaps. this time without managing to belc h. Azmael's pained and agonised voice replaced it. Suddenly Mestor was shrouded in a green. that you would be interesting to know. 'A Jacondan mind. 'Azmael is now my slave. He must therefore forfeit his own existence.' Azmael paused. 'He will pass to you. Using nothing but pure thought he operated a control built into the arm of his t hrone.' 'No!' The voice sounded more agonised than before. ethereal light. But to be murdered by a slug wit h pretensions way beyond its cabbage patch would be too much.

not unlike the ash of spent char coal. 'Do not be afraid at what you see.. Mestor's spindly limbs snapped and powdered like old paper exposed to a sudden gust of wind. 'It was nearly over.' S ummoning the last of his energy.' Azmael started to cough violently. 'But one of my best.' The elderly Time Lord coughed for the last time and died.' Azmael smiled for the last time. It was Mestor. my frie nd. Azmael had been right to warn him against taking on Mes tor. angered and frust rated that he could do nothing to help. In spite of his vast improvement.' 'But to throw away your lif e . the effort proved too much and he collapsed.' Azmael began to cough tiny specks of blood.' The strain grew into a pulsing blob. the Doctor rushed to the crumpled heap. the voice changed and Mestor started to rant and shout. 'What's happening?' roared Mestor. He is trying to break out. 'My friend. I'm doin g the one thing you cannot control . He would have swamped you. 'was leaving Gallifrey when it needed me most. Azmael forced a smile to his lips. 'You've used up your allotted number of lives... 'I had no other choice.' Then slowly. But even with the wall as support. then reel like a drunken man. He h ad wasted valuable time. 'But still. The Doctor turned away.' The Doctor nodded. in what sounded like the distant depths of time and space. To become a renegade is to give up one's roo ts. Suddenly the body of Azmael began to sway. 'Jaconda certainly gave me a good life. 'You're dying... Finding the flask.it in his cavernous pockets. Mestor. the eff ort to talk was proving very painful. Horrified. a black. Huge blisters began to for m on the moist. the Doctor's regeneration was far from co mplete.' the voice was even weaker.' He paused. The Doctor was angry with his lapse of memory. the Doctor thought his friend was experiencing a massive haemorrhage. 'Do you not think I know that?' As he spoke. all that was left o f the Lord Mestor was a pile of fine grey dust. was that time by the fountain. The mortal battle which was taking place inside his friend's mind was one that could only be fought by him alone. 'Why did you regenerate?' said the Doc tor sadly. my friend . Time Lord!' It was voice of Mestor.' he panted.' The words were separated by violent gasps for air.' Again. you are too unstable. he staggered and wobbled about the room. yet again.... he moved to the gastropod's moribund carcass and empt ied the contents over it. 'It's done. At the same moment. 'He is finished.. Y ou would have been the pebble drowning in his lake. Azmael coughed. then t he strained. agonised voice of Azmael was heard. almost imperceptively at first. The Doctor turned to Azmael. 'It is all that remains of Mestor. Somewhere. . The response was immediate. evacuate my dying frame. knowing only too well how he felt. I can sense his strength is failing.. 'My only regret. 'But he won't succeed. a ghostly scream was heard. As Azmael struggled to stay upright. Many great moments.' B ut he had spoken too soon. scattering dry clouds of flakey skin. Then his face dissolved into thick chunks of heavy car dboard which crumbled.' sai d Azmael.. but this time blood flowed freely from his mouth.. into dust. amorphous stain seemed to swirl and sp read under the skin of his forehead.. the blob began to shrink. the corpse started to sag and fold in on itself as th ough a large invisible weight was pressing down on it. There was a pause. Together we cou ld have defeated him. the rattle of death apparent. 'Too late. oily epidermis which then burst...' 'We should have mind-linked.' he pleaded. A moment later.I am regenerating! Again.' he said quietly. To int erfere could prove fatal. For a moment. 'You can't regenerate.. 'I did try to do my best for Jaconda. The old man was fading fast. 'I now completely control your friend's mind.. As the dehydration proces s continued..

'Certainly not Azmael.' There was a brief pause. they could mathematically deduce how to operate the timemachine.' Smiling. but then there was more to being a good president than being a hero. he was only too aware. 'May I stay?' said Hugo. she became aware of a colder . what would happen to him. more remote manner to the way he spoke. the Jacondans would be very weary of allowing another despot to rule them. Gone.' The Time Lord crossed to the console and started to set the c o-ordinates for Earth. Wanting to test how cool and emotionle ss the Doctor had really become. Whateve r else Hugo could do. Then at last he said . the Jacondan guards and courtiers seemed to have lost their drive and motivation. Hugo was convinced he . Now he was dead. to ten million credits. But then again. Knowing that his next appointment would be with an execution squad . But then. Such was Slarn's desperation that he entered into negotiation. Some of the Jacondans have already formed t hemselves into militia groups and are dealing with the gastropods. had attempted some rather unpleasant thi ngs. Slarn. With his mission and career in tatters.' Fortunately. 'I shall miss you.' sai d the Doctor at last. had been sent to supervise the action. 'I think I could be of some use here. In many respects the Doctor had been wrong in his assumption. h e might accelerate his development. Slarn was frightened of being killed. But that was now all over. He had been too diligent. but the memory of the Doctor' s warning that it was more difficult to fly the TARDIS than it appeared.' They'll survive. perhaps in striving to become president. once his fellow Jacondans had recov ered from their temporary disorientation. had become over-excited and added t o the mayhem. He was also aware that the young p ilot was lazy and immature. All except Slarn. Hugo had been tempted to try ( after all. Mestor's senior chamberlain. and his control relinquished. Peri wondered how the new Doc tor would behave and whether he would still want her to travel with him. for the right price. he was mistaken. o ld friend.' he muttered. but instead of being a cautionary influence. they had forced up their price. Azmael had been right when he said that all Jaconda was affected by Mestor's thoughts. Slarn had tried to bribe Peri and Hugo into taking him away from Jaconda in th e TARDIS. what about the people of this planet? We can't just leave them. he had noticed L ieutenant Hugo Lang metaphorically measuring himself up for the presidency of th e planet. 'I shall indeed. As the Doctor ordered the Jacondan guards from the TARDIS. his heart wa s set on something far more basic.' 'Really?' The Doctor thought he was mad. but Peri wa sn't certain whether it was for reasons of grief or effect. If Hugo Lang thought he could bully and deceive his way to the top. had jol ted him into caution. 'And good luck.' In spite of having the twins as prote ction. The Doctor had now fully regenerated. The influ ence of Mestor is beginning to fade. Hugo and Peri had not had an easy time getting to the TARDIS. six million credits is a lot of money). too.' The Docto r knew that Hugo wasn't the stuff heroes were made from. The man who returned from witnessing the death of Me stor and Azmael was very different from the one Peri and Hugo had left behind in the laboratory. He felt sad and angry. who in spite of Mestor's strict instructio n that the twins were not to be harmed. As one of Mestor's m ost trusted advisers. Like lost children. Although Hugo had momentarily considered whether high office would suit him. they wandered aimlessly around. Gone was the vague and erratic behaviour. 'Now Mestor is dead. And when someone had ten million c redits to spend on simple bribery. I think we ha ve little to fear. much to Hugo's chagr in. By the t ime the Doctor joined them. Peri hoped there would prove to be more smiles and less chill y matter-of-fact logic in the man. They had ha d to contend with Noma and his troop. People on Earth think I'm dead. After Mestor.The Doctor gazed down at his mentor. he was good with a gun. 'I've no reason to go back. too enthusiastic to serve his master and in so doing had made a lo t of enemies. 'Azmael's dead. 'But who will lead the Jacondans now Mestor i s dead?' said Hugo. Hugo shook everyone's hand and d eparted. confused an d concerned as to what would happen next. was the fa lse bravado. Peri enquired. Slarn had then turned to the twins who were convinced that . for the Jacondans weren't fools and would so on see through hollow promises and misguided leadership. the Doctor gave a little smile before uttering his last sentence. 'Go.

'You had no reason to like Azmael. I am the new Doctor.' The statement was as bland and as sterile as it sounded. I am b ound to have different values and customs. Therefore. Peri watched the face of the new Doctor. but also a different planet from you. He had an answer to everything.' The Doctor frowned. as he carefully made his way round t he console. ' 'True. giving full vent to the pent-up fury she had felt since the Doctor's regeneration. This is me whether people li ke it or not.' 'That's certainly true.' snapped t he Doctor. I am alien. sincerely. All she wanted no w was to go home and she told the Doctor so.' she said. He looked tired and a litt le sad. making final adjustments to the controls. 'How can you feel sorry for me? Yo u don't understand how a Gallifreyan experiences grief. 'But whatever else happens. 'Before abandoning me forever. Peri hop ed that she had caught a glimpse of a smile as he uttered it. Peri was more concerned that he was about to have anoth er of his fits. she shouted inside her hea d.' Peri gave up. 'And I don't think I want to. 'Hollow words. 'I would suggest you wait a little while. You don't even know me any longer. she wasn't prepared to allow the Doctor to get away wit h his unpleasantness. As the twins expl ored the TARDIS. You may well find that my new pe rsona isn't as disagreeable as you think. Even so. thi s particular incarnation of the Time Lord would prove to be a very difficult per son indeed.' she shouted. I was on the verge of becoming neurotic. 'I'm sorry about Azmael. I am not only from anot her culture. .' I hope so. But at such a cost.' Although startled and angered by the aggressive response. If she hadn't. T was feeli ng sorry for you.' The Doctor looked at Peri.' 'Your former self was polite enough. Come to that you don't u nderstand me as a person. the Doctor pressed the master control and the time-machine started for Eart h. thinking the inevitable thought that it was larger inside than out. until you take a crash cour se in manners. It was pointless arguing.' she said. 'You seem to forget. 'I wasn't feeling sorry for Azmael.could earn some of that money by offering to keep Slarn alive.' he said.

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