13.

Along the ridge at least two military trucks were visible, and heading down into the quarry itself a heavy-duty jeep with a gun mount could be seen, a man ready at the gun. Dimly, the sounds of soldiers shouting orders came over the now-familiar rumble and hum of the War Machines.

"Look, there's the Brigadier," Jo pointed. They could just see him on the quarry's ledge ahead of them, binoculars to his eyes as he snapped orders into a radio.

"They're shooting at them, of course," the Doctor observed as they began working towards him through the brush. "Won't do them any good. War Machines are impervious to standard gunfire."

"Why did those Machines go outside, off into the quarry?" Jo wondered.

He glanced back over at her. "They're looking for humans, remember? The soldiers are drawing them on, though they don't know it." His eyes flickered beyond her.

An energy bolt cracked into the rocks where Jo had just been and she screamed, though whether from the surprise of the bolt or from being literally picked up and thrown to the side was hard to say. The Doctor steadied her. "Sorry, Jo," he said briefly. "We have company."

He carefully edged her back, keeping himself between her and the War Machine grinding towards them over the ridge they'd just climbed. As it paused to incinerate a shrub in its path, he grabbed her hand. "Quickly, this way."

Once more they ran, back off the roadway they'd just reached, scrambling over another brushy small ridge it curved around.

As they picked their way down the other side he spoke quickly. "Here's what we'll do. We'll run for the quarry. The Brigadier left his jeep there at the top of the ridge. I'll split off from you there. When you reach the edge, run right along it, close to the side. Head for the Brigadier; he can shelter you, at least for a bit."

"Got it. And you?"

"I'll see if I can't send it down into that quarry a little more quickly than bargained for."

"But…" she protested as they reached smoother ground and began running again. "What if it doesn't follow me?"

"It's still on its programming to destroy humans," he said. "It doubt it wants the likes of me."

"All this time….those things… were only after me?" she panted in disbelief.

"Possible, though unproved. Now go! That way! Keep to the edge!" He pulled away from her, sprinting for the Brigadier's jeep. She ran for all she was worth to the ragged edge of the quarry and then along it, trying very hard to not think about what it would be like to fall. Behind her she could hear the rumble of the War Machine coming down after them.

She reached the ledge and ran along it. "Brigadier!" she called, though it came out in more of a gasp. She hadn't much air left for shouting.

--

"Sir! Look!" The soldier beside him pointed and even briefly tugged on his sleeve. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart turned, dropping his binoculars on their strap.

"Miss Grant!" he shouted in spite of the distance. "Where's…" His eyebrows jumped as the Machine rumbled into view around the ridge, heading straight for her. "Another of them…."

Jo saw the Brigadier shouting something and soldiers began moving. An energy bolt slammed into the ground behind her; she didn't even want to know how close it might have been. Adrenaline pounded through her, roared in her ears, and the bottom of the quarry looked very far away.

"Hey!" she heard a soldier, protesting. "What are… !" There was a thud and a jeep roared to life.

--

The Brigadier's jaw dropped as a jeep… his own jeep!…his new jeep!…. suddenly spun out from where he'd left it by the ridge and revved hard, accelerating straight towards the quarry cliff. He'd barely registered over everything else happening that someone had the astounding chutzpah to steal his jeep right before his eyes when it rammed straight into the side of the alien tank thing that was pursuing Miss Grant.

There was a loud crunch, most of which was jeep, as the maniacal driver flung himself off to the side. The machine skidded sideways at the impact then tipped right over the edge, tumbling downward with bits of metal and arcs of flame flying off of it as it went.

The maniac jeep-thief was staggering up from the ground. He was dressed in velvet and had white hair.

"Doc-tor!" the Brigadier roared. He himself didn't know if it was congratulatory for defeating the machine and saving Miss Grant's life or scathingly bombastic that his advisor had had the gall, the complete and unmitigated gall, to wreck the Brigadier's own jeep, and while he watched, at that. Whatever its impetus was, it was loud.

Jo had stopped, bent double from running, the Doctor now limping towards her. Everyone's eyes were on them, and the teetering, ruined jeep.

"Keep an eye on those things in the quarry!" he snapped at his men and strode rapidly towards his maverick associates.

--

"We can bring in more firepower," the Brigadier continued as they looked out over the quarry. While he'd been glad to find his missing associate and the young lady intact, and glad to be rid of one of the alien menaces, he was still obviously irked about his jeep. At least obviously irked to those who knew him well.

The Doctor knew, but ignored it. Jo just gave him another apologetic shrug, though whether for the jeep or for her mentor's behavior it was hard to say.

The Doctor was making an impatient gesture. "I told you; gunfire won't stop them, Brigadier. They're armored!"

Lethbridge-Stewart didn't look as if he quite believed him. "Very well, but the limestone isn't. If we lure them back down into those tunnels, we might arrange a cave-in…."

"That would require a man to draw them down. And I advise you to stay in the open air. The Machines will gas whomever they find, otherwise."

"Gas?"

"Yes, they do that too, when firepower and flame don't meet the need. I've known them to take down an entire squadron of men that way in the past."

"In the past…?"

"He's stopped them before," Jo supplied.

The Brigadier looked at him curiously. "I'm to assume on some other planet?"

"No, here. In London," the Doctor snapped. "It was your own incorrigibly bombastic government that kept some to be duplicated. The point is it would be best to deal with the activated ones in the open. There'll be plenty more for you to play at your bombing and gunnery with later."

"So. If they're so well armored, what pierces them best?"

"They're quite capable of piercing each other," the Doctor said. "That was demonstrated to us earlier."

Alistair tapped his fingers, thinking. "Could we cannibalize the arms from the one you so efficiently tumbled off the ledge?" He gave a significant glance to where three hefty young men were yanking his ruined jeep back from the precipice.

The Doctor contemplated his ruffled cuff instead. "Yes, I think you could; fine thinking, Brigadier! But you'll need a significant power source, and the right configuration…"

"I'll leave that part to you then. What will you need?"

"Bessie would work," the Doctor said immediately, showing he had already been considering the same idea. "I could rig something up if you've some cable in any of those trucks. She's still outfitted for that force-field."

"Didn't you take that out?" Jo said, "That big battery thing?"

"Big battery?" the Brigadier asked.

He gave Jo a nod. "Yes, the larger one. But she carries a smaller version for her own anti-thievery shield. I could adapt it."

"Where is your car, anyway?" the Brigadier asked. "Miss Grant told us it was on the east side of the quarry, but we haven't seen any sign of it."

The Doctor looked up at him sharply. "What? What do you mean, no sign of it?"

"Exactly that. I don't know where you thought you put it, but it wasn't in the quarry."

"But it was!" Jo and the Doctor both protested together.

The Doctor left them and ran to the ledge, then turned as if he would run right on down into the quarry, alone.

"Doctor!" The Brigadier called. "About that gun! Hold up, blast you - those demmed alien tanks are still down there!"

Distracted, the Doctor looked back at him indignantly. "My car! Some blaggard's stolen my car!"

"Doctor!" the Brigadier repeated firmly. "Keep your composure, man. We have robots to deal with. What can we use for power besides that car? Will one of our trucks be sufficient?"

"Maybe she's down the tunnels," Jo offered.

"Who would take her down the tunnels? And how?" He paced, gesturing in frustration. "She can't just be started up and driven off like some common lorry!"

"Doctor!" The Brigadier said impatiently. "Men are in danger! Can you still use the gun off that wreck or not?"

"What? Of course I can. And I've got to see where my car's gone."

"What will you power it with?"

The Doctor ran his hand through his hair. "Have you any of those portable generators in those trucks? Good. I want two of them. And cables, whatever you have, the heavier the better. And tools. And some men, I'll need it levered onto its other side to reach it…"

Glad that his advisor was back on track, the Brigadier nodded and set about relaying this list of requirements. "Very well. Now, how will…"

"… then we can search for tyre tracks. She can't have been gone long. Jo, you radioed from her, didn't you? Of course you did, you brought the spanner. We'll have to search those entry tunnels…"

Lethbridge-Stewart quietly ground his teeth.

--

Using the fallen Machine as a shield while the armed jeep drove around the far end of the quarry as a distraction for the three remaining ones had been a surprisingly successful suggestion, though they could hear the Brigadier snarling at the men in the jeep over his radio every time they got too close. It was a dangerous game of cat and mouse, and the men seemed to be turning thrill-seekers the longer it went.

The Brigadier was turning so irascible that Jo opted to come down with the workers and help get the gun and generators rigged up, in spite of her sore feet. The Doctor had been glad of her help, grumbling loudly that the soldiers didn't know one end of an anathermatic polyhedronic distribution regulator from the other. Considering what he was working with at the time was nothing more complex than a set of wire cutters and a gas torch, she just smiled and set to uncoiling cables.

The linked generators finally sputtered to life, the apparatus hummed and the Doctor signaled that the gun was ready. "Get those men out of the way!" He shouted, waving toward the quarry.

The Brigadier barked into his radio and the jeep left off its circling and weaving to run past them up the ramp. The Doctor heard one of the men aboard it whoop with a very unsoldierly demeanor.

"Hope the Brigadier didn't hear that," Jo observed. "They think it's a game, don't they?"

"They haven't seen them in action yet, let's hope they don't." The Doctor replied.

He adjusted the heavy gun they'd mounted on the top of it's former owner and sighted down its barrel before tightening a bolt. "There. A bit limited. We'll have to wait until one of them comes in range, within the sites…. He put a hand to a switch. "Jo, be ready to throw that lever there. It'll overload if it runs too long. You men," he addressed the remaining two soldiers who were with them. They looked at him expectantly. "Just stay out of the way."

They watched as the War Machines trundled towards them, their bashers occasionally waving up and down, headlamps searching them out now that the jeep's distraction had ended. "Wait…..wait….." he said. "Now, Jo!"

She pushed the heavy lever down, sending two generator's worth of power surging into the gun, which sparked slightly, the pitch rapidly building beyond their hearing. Peering over the top of their shelter, he hit the switch. A bright power bolt shot out and the foremost War Machine gave a squealing, crackling noise as a gaping hole appeared where its headlamp had been. Still, it limped forward, its own gun letting loose a bolt that hit the rock above their heads. The soldiers ducked as chunks peppered down on them. Ignoring the gravel that spattered his jacket, the Doctor hit the Machine a second time, a second ragged hole appeared. The lighted panel on its side blew outward in a spurt of flame and it ground to a halt, dead.

One down. "Power off, Jo!" He rapidly loosened the adjusting bolt, tweaked it and tightened it down. "Wait….On!"

Again the gun hummed to life. He sighted and sent another bolt after the second one, but the Machine turned and it hit it off-center. Though the basher dropped, apparently crippled, its gun came up with a reply. The dead Machine hulk that sheltered them suddenly rocked, smoking and crackling as a bolt slammed into it.

"Doctor!" Jo cried as a snap of electricity arced from the generator connections. He didn't even look back, but intently aimed and shot again.

There was a grinding shriek and the second Machine limped to a stop, it's data reels smoking from the hole blasted just beneath them, its lights flickering off.

Two down. The third one would soon be in range. "Power off, Jo!"

Jo reached for the lever and then screamed as the connections between the generators arced and popped, one of them suddenly billowing smoke as it overloaded. The Doctor moved, as if to push her aside and do something about it when the second one gave a bang and joined its companion in a smoking death. The gun went silent.

"The gun! It's dead!" one of the soldiers said, in that irritating way humans had of stating the obvious.

The Doctor might have made a scathing remark along those lines if he hadn't had to deal with an aggressive War Machine bearing down on them. A power bolt hit the metal hulk again, rocking it violently. Another exploded in the rock just over their heads. One of the soldiers gave a cry as a large chunk split off and fell, hitting the arm he'd thrown up and then half-pinning his leg.

They all turned to heave the rock off of him. "Get him out of here!" the Doctor ordered the remaining man, and gestured to the ramp. "Go with them, Jo, I'll try to distract it."

"But, Doctor!" Jo cried in protest as the soldiers headed for the ramp with his arm around his comrade and the Doctor headed the opposite way. She took a determined breath and ran after him.

He grabbed up the cables and did a quick check on the smoking generators, looking back with surprise when he realized she was still there.

"No good. Run, Jo! Back up the ramp!" He threw down the cables impatiently and ducked as another blast fired towards them, slamming into the corner of its fallen companion Machine. It was getting too close.

"You need to get out of here!" He took her arm in a light grip, turning her to the ramp.

"But I can't! You're not human!"

"What?" He looked baffled at this declaration.

"You said it might not follow you!" She looked up at the soldiers, limping up the slope. Others were coming down to help them now, but they still had far to go. The War Machine hesitated and began turning to follow them. She ran away from the ramp.

"Jo!" he cried with horror as the Machine immediately swiveled to follow her, its bolt hitting just behind where she'd ducked back into the shelter of the dead one. He realized it was ignoring him; she was right. He was frankly a bit surprised.

He ran back. "Stay with me, then," he said briefly. "We'll head for that tunnel entry over there," he pointed. "We can loop back to the railroad spur, so it can't trap us."

"Then?" she asked as they got ready to dash from their cover.

"I don't know yet, but it'll give us time."

They ran. He took them in an erratic line, taking advantage of the Machine's slower turning abilities. A blast hit the earth behind them, to the left. Somewhere up above them the Brigadier was yelling something, they had no idea what.

"Doctor!" Jo suddenly pulled from his grasp and doubled back, scooping something up off the ground.

"Jo! What are you doing?!"

"Look!" She panted and held something up as she ran back to him.

"My sonic screwdriver! I'd give that up for lost." He was genuinely delighted, taking it from her hand as they ran again. "Now we can shut that thing down." He kept moving, but suddenly frowned down at his tool. "But why was it out here?… That ginger chap had it. What was he doing outside?"

They hadn't time to wonder further. A blast from the pursuing Machine hit again, much too close for comfort, the grit stinging them.

The Doctor flipped a setting on the screwdriver and looked back at their pursuer. "Jo! Run for that rock!" He gestured to a medium-sized boulder. "It should turn to follow you, don't worry - I'll stop it."

Jo, her wide eyes betraying her doubt at his assurance, nevertheless split away from him and ran for the dubious shelter of the waiting boulder.

Behind her, the War Machine's servos hummed as it swung to follow her trajectory, it's gun whining as it charged again.

The Doctor circled in the opposite direction, coming around behind it at a dead run. He leaped and grabbed onto it's back awkwardly, clinging as it belatedly swung its basher around in an attempt to knock him off. He quickly loosened the small panel under the back of its head.

Jo reached the boulder and hunkered behind it, watching as the Doctor clung to the Machine's back; it had registered that something was there. He determinedly hung on and ducked as it spun its bashers, randomly flaming and loosing off bolts of energy to the front. A misty gas began to spout into the air, then abruptly it went dead. The bashers drooped and the lights dimmed to nothing.

The world suddenly seemed very quiet.

The Doctor jumped down from the Machine's back and came towards her, dusting grit from his jacket and sleeves. He smiled at her.

"Well, that wasn't so bad now, was it?"

--

The Brigadier stood with his arms folded, watching as his formerly new jeep was chained to a towing rack behind a truck. He rocked on his heels, grumbling dictation at the soldier who stood beside him with a clipboard in hand.

"UNIT will personally oversee the destruction and melting down of the remaining dormant machines. All plans, molds or other related paraphernalia related to the manufacture are to be destroyed. Make a note on follow-up for that one. A recommendation of merit to Mr. Babcock of Custom Supply. I want eight copies of the directives on my desk by tomorrow morning, requisition forms, contact information for the Corsham base."

"Yessir."

"I need to know just how many…" He looked around with a frown. "Where's the Doctor got to?"

"He's in the quarry sir, er, crawling around on the ground."

"What? What the devil is he doing that for?"

"We believe he's looking for tyre tracks, sir. And there was something about a screwdriver."

"Blast it! He'll be of no use to anyone until he's found that confounded lemon perambulator of his."

"Yessir."

"I suppose we'll have to help."

"Yessir."

"Demmit."