A Rescue of Sorts
Cyrian watched as his mistress gloated over the defeated Doctor. He admired her brilliant mind, the precision of her plan – but he was afraid too. Not just of the Mistress, who he served so ably. Something was still troubling him. How had the Doctor been able to acquire another companion? For this particular experiment, the Rani had chosen this specific point in the Doctor’s life when he had only one human being to assist him – yet his granddaughter wasn’t human and now there were two individuals by his side. For the project to work, it was necessary for the companions to remain confused and unable to help the Doctor until he was completely in the Rani’s thrall.
Cyrian began to work his way methodically through each of the settings in hope of finding a solution.
Meanwhile, down the corridor that housed all of the specimens, the body of the first Doctor lay in suspended animation. If Cyrian had cared to check through the viewing port, he might have seen a smile frozen on the face of the old man…
The Doctor and his friends stood surrounded by the Rani’s monstrous menagerie. It struck Nyssa that such an assembly of different races could be used for such good across the universe. The woman who brought them all together, whoever she was, clearly had no sense of decency. As Peri reviewed each advancing menace, her eyes landed upon a repulsive hybrid of reptile and slug – a Mentor perched upon a hovering travel-dais. The sight of the creature turned Peri’s blood cold at the distant memory of so very nearly becoming one of them by order of the Mentor leader, Kiv, and his sadistic lackey, Sil. If a Mentor could be part of this beastly brood, then surely each and every one of them also had some connection to the Doctor. Which meant that each one of them would gladly see the Time Lord dead, probably by their own hands.
But what of the woman who stood before them so proudly? Peri knew her, but to Nyssa, she was a stranger.
‘Doctor, what’s going on,’ Nyssa asked. ‘Who is she?’ The Doctor cleared his throat and replied with a stage whisper clearly meant for the woman to hear.
‘I take back what I said about an ingenious operator being behind these time jumps.’
‘Who else could master such a difficult operation?’ the Rani cheered. Then she did something the Doctor hadn’t expected. She pressed a button on the control bracelet attached to her wrist. A low burbling tone rang out across the square. Each of the aliens jerked to attention and slowly began to walk towards the locked gate. The Cyberman snapped the chains effortlessly, the gate swung open and the monsters paraded past the Rani and through the Queen Vic’s double doors.
‘Good luck getting served at lunchtime,’ Peri joked nervously.
‘At least we’re not on the menu,’ Nyssa observed and, realising she was much more terrified than she’d ever have admitted, she hugged the startled American.
The Doctor watched the Rani gloating. So she’d assembled an unlikely band of allies to help her. But still the question was why? What was it all for? Perhaps if he could connect to his other selves, he could find the answers. He placed his hands on his temples and thought really hard. Almost instantly, images of his past and future lives flashed before his eyes: The tall, white-haired one with the frilly shirt; the burly one in the loud coat; the small one with the secrets; .. but there were gaps! Where was the stern older one? And the tramp? And the Bohemian with the scarf? Something was blocking the connection… and his concentration was broken by the sound of the Rani’s chilly laughter.
‘Why bother trying to summon up your remaining selves, Doctor? I’ve weakened you. You cannot escape now!’
There was a flash. The third Doctor stood proudly in his opera cloak and velvet jacket. By his side, just one companion, Liz. Doctor Elizabeth Shaw, a brilliant scientist! The Doctor smiled.
‘I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve yet, madam. It’s time for you to start losing.’
The Rani was no longer smiling. Was that panic on her face? She clutched her control bracelet.
‘You, Earth female – come here!’ Liz moved forward towards the swinging garden gates. The Doctor tried to hold her back.
‘No Liz, you mustn’t!’ But Liz was determined.
‘Leave this to me, Doctor. I’ll take my chances.’
Inside the Rani’s TARDIS, Cyrian was flicking switches and dials almost at random. He must serve the Rani well, he must stop the Doctor and his companions from spoiling the experiment. Suddenly, a sound filled the control chamber. It was the sound of … chuckling. Simultaneously, a dull light began to flash on the control console. Cyrian gasped.
‘The time dimensions are coming undone!’
In a whirr, the boy scanned the crowd in the scene – someone who he could remote-control to help his mistress. And then he saw him – a mountain of a man. Perfect!
As Liz marched towards the imperious villainess, she became aware of a commotion in the market as a huge giant of a man began to advance towards her, padding forward like a ferocious polar bear. His face was blank and Liz realised that the man must be under the control of the Rani. But this wasn’t one of the monsters, this was a human being and while she would need to make sure she didn’t hurt him, she could also tell instantly that the man could inflict serious damage upon herself if she wasn’t careful.
Then the man appeared to flicker, as if he was winking out of existence. In his place was a small, wiry-looking girl, just as fierce as the man, but clearly easier to handle if she attacked. And then back to the man… and back to the girl. It was like the two eventualities were overlaid, fighting for supremacy as a switch was being flicked back and forth.
Cyrian checked and rechecked the dimensional readings. The first set of digits were consistent: 0891-1144… but the last two digits were switching back and forth from two repeated integers: 55 and 66. And still the sound of mocking laughter flooded his mind, the high-pitched chuckle of self-amusement of… the Doctor! Somehow, he was using his mind to influence events within the dimensional bubble.
As the two figures tried to cling onto the Rani’s unstable dimension, Liz saw her chance. She grabbed the Rani’s arm and tried to wrestle the gun away. The attacking humans shimmered – leaving just the small girl remaining. She threw herself at Liz, screaming ‘Leave her alone!’ But the Rani had no idea that this was part of Cyrian’s attempt to rescue her. She pushed Liz aside and directed her weapon at the girl who froze to the spot in sudden fear and confusion.
The roar of an engine echoed around the square and a voice shouted, ‘Liz! Doctor! This way!’ A man in military uniform stood up from the driver’s seat of a bright yellow Edwardian car. As Liz scrambled to her feet, the man aimed his revolver and shot the Rani’s futuristic gun from her hands. It hit the ground and shattered into pieces. The wiry girl ran away to safety and the Rani, realising she had lost control of the situation, bid a hasty retreat into the Queen Vic.
The Doctor shook the newcomer by the hand. ‘Liz, you remember Captain Yates?’ Liz smiled with relief.
‘Yes, you were seconded to UNIT after that business with the Autons. How are you, Mike?’ Before the captain could reply, the Doctor interrupted.
‘Can you get me to Greenwich? I need my TARDIS!’ Leaving Mike to drive, the Doctor clambered into the passenger seat and helped Liz up too. The bright yellow car zoomed off, forcing the bewildered patrons of the market to leap back out of the road.
The Doctor was expecting Mike Yates to head towards the Blackwall Tunnel, then south under the Thames and onto the Greenwich peninsula, but instead, Mike steered Bessie east. Ordinarily, the Doctor would have been the very worst of back-seat drivers, especially in a vehicle that he had effectively rebuilt three times over when he’d added certain enhancements that gave Bessie a top speed that would leave racing cars standing. However, the route that Mike was taking was in a built-up area with no clear stretches and many signs warning of the speed limits.
Besides, the Doctor was somewhat distracted as he scrutinised the back of the former Captain’s head for tell-tale signs that he might be an Auton or some other alien duplicate. Satisfied that his old friend seemed real enough, the Doctor sat back to enjoy the ride. Eventually, they crossed the River Lea and stopped next to a field. In the grassy clearing stood a helicopter emblazoned with the circular grid logo of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.
‘Your carriage awaits,’ Mike joked and the Doctor and Liz made their way to the helicopter. A door slid back and a leather-gloved hand reached out to help first Liz and then the Doctor up into the cockpit. They took their seats and fastened their safety belts. Within seconds they were in the air and they had their first chance to look at their rescuer. Back on the ground, Bessie stood parked on the grass, alone. Mike Yates had disappeared.
Tall, mature and handsome with a slight middle-aged paunch and a neat, clipped moustache, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart smirked as his old colleagues caught their breath. Dr Shaw had joined UNIT rather unwillingly many years before, when the Brigadier commandeered her to be his scientific adviser. There had been two recent and large-scale assaults on London by alien beings back then and Lethbridge-Stewart had been central to their defeat. He was the natural appointment to head up the new regiment, but by his own admission, he possessed only the most basic of scientific knowledge from his schooldays. Liz had only been in post for a few hours when the Doctor arrived, as if from nowhere. With his vast knowledge of alien and other-worldly affairs, he swiftly supplanted Liz as the Brigadier’s adviser, leaving Liz free to return to her studies with a significantly more open mind on all things extra-terrestrial.
‘Nice to see you both!’ the Brigadier boomed. ‘Don’t get comfortable, this is a short trip.’
The helicopter followed the flow of the Thames before turning slightly and effecting a smooth landing on the lawn of the Greenwich Naval College. Just as the Brigadier unbuckled his safety belt, there was a flash of light. The old soldier instinctively threw himself over his friends to protect them from whatever alien menace was shooting at them. From beneath him, a strange voice bellowed ‘Not now, Brigadier!’
Lethbridge-Stewart sat up to see a burly chap with light-brown curly hair and the most ridiculous coat he’d ever seen. Liz Shaw had completely vanished.
‘Ah – Brigadier. How nice to see you again.’ He needed no introduction – this could only be the Doctor. Another Doctor.
‘Miss Shaw was just there,’ the Brigadier said.
‘Don’t worry, she’s safe. For now!’ Relieved, the Brigadier helped the Doctor down from the helicopter. ‘I’m finding it difficult to keep up with all of you these days, Doctor. How many of you are there now?’
‘Some other time eh, Brigadier? Alas there’s no time for pleasantries. I must find my young friend.’ Some things never change – this one was as characteristically rude as all the others Lethbridge-Stewart had met.
‘Well, this is where you wanted dropping off, Doctor. We’ll speak soon, old chap. To all of you, I hope.’
The old friends shook hands as the Doctor dashed off in search of his companion. Or whichever one of them he could find.