"I think I'm starting to piece it all together." The Doctor pondered. "I just wish I'd seen the link sooner."
"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I'm still struggling." Rory reassured him. "How are all these things related? The seed, the mirror, the ship."
"Oh, that bit's simple." The Doctor flung his arms up. "That's how I planned it all."
"But the fob watch wasn't." Amy stated. "They got there first? Before you could do whatever it was you needed to do."
"Correct Pond." The Doctor nodded. "You know when you're doing a jigsaw, and the last bit gets hoovered up, so you never get to finish the sky?"
"Yep." Amy nodded, nudging her husband. She never did forgive him for losing that piece of her Van Gogh puzzle. They'd had a row over that, she remembered. Granted, it was during their most dark period as a couple, but she still looked back on it now as an over reaction on her part. Rory just couldn't understand why it meant so much to her. It's just the sunflowers, he'd said, in his defence. But of course, it wasn't, not to Amy. That picture was so much more now that history had carved her name on to it.
"Well, its a bit like that." The Doctor paused for a moment. "Well, not really. But without that watch, time can't continue how it was meant to."
"How you meant it to, you mean?" Rory asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Same thing." The Time Lord shrugged. "You know me, no interfering, unless its to save my friends." He gave them a big grin. "Or of course, for cheap tricks. But there's still one bit you've not seen. Another peice of sky."
"I'm sorry Ms. Smith," the Brigadier said firmly, "but absolutely no press are permitted anywhere near the crash site. Not until we've investigated."
"And come up with a cover story, I presume?" Sarah-Jane accused, following the Brigadier as he marched in to the Doctor's lab.
"I'm not going to dignify that with a response." He grunted, looking around the lab, empty apart from the TARDIS stood in the corner of the room. "Now, if you will excuse me, I need to find the Doctor. If anyone is going to investigate a crashed spaceship, it will be him, not a local journalist." He paused, halfway out of the door. "And particularly not one with a reputation for getting herself in to trouble."
Sarah-Jane turned away from him grumpily, folding her arms across her chest as Lethbridge-Stewart left the room. She didn't know much, only reports of a huge object having crashed in to the Pennines about an hour ago. By keeping an ear out around the base, she'd caught word that it was some kind of spaceship. Since then, the army had placed a barricade around the entire area, threatening to fire on anyone who even got close. UNIT had of course been contacted immediately, and were preparing a recon mission. Sarah knew that if she was going to get a story, they would be her way in. She'd expected resistance from the Brigadier, but had hoped the Doctor would have been around to fight her corner. It appeared, however, that no one had seen him for a while now. Probably off tinkering on Bessie, Sarah thought to herself.
She sighed, about to give up hope on getting the scoop of her career, when she looked to the TARDIS, standing tall in the corner, and was suddenly inspired.
"Come on then." The Doctor ordered as the TARDIS landed with a thud. "Everyone out." He turned to the Brigadier. "You know how I feel about guns in general, let alone in my ship."
"What would you suggest, Doctor? That I send my men in to an unknown crashed ship unarmed? That thing could be crawling with hostiles. Or do we take a leaf from our book and arm them all with screwdrivers?
" Hostile? Unlikely." The Doctor scoffed as the last of the soldiers stepped out of the police box doors. "If it was, they'd have attacked by now. It's more likely they were all wiped out on impact." The Doctor pulled his over coat around himself tightly, the wind whiping around his face, blowing his white hair about.
The Doctor looked around at his new surroundings, overlooked by an enormous silver spaceship half buried in to the peaks of the mountain range. He turned to his passengers, Lethbridge-Stewart, Sergeant Benton and four soldiers, the names of whom were unknown to the Doctor.
"I've reluctantly accepted that you'll be coming in with me." The Doctor looked to the Brigadier. "But I'm expecting you all to be keeping a check on your trigger fingers. We don't know what might be on board, if anything, but if there is, don't just assume they are hostile. Anyone firing with no just cause will have me to answer to." He glared at the small group. "Is that clear?"
The Brigadier rolled his eyes, as Benton and the others nodded in agreement.
"No more time to waste." The Brigadier boomed. "Come on men, let's get on board that ship." He gestured to the side nearest them, ripped open by the impact. "That's our way in."
"Yes sir!" The group replied as one, following their leader towards the ship. The Doctor tutted as he followed slowly behind. If it was up to him, he'd be going in alone. But, he tried to convonce himself, at least this way he could keep an eye on them.
Moments later the TARDIS door creaked open slightly, as Sarah-Jane snuck out, crouching behind the police box, out of sight. She peered out cautiously, watching as the Doctor and the small platoon headed towards the looming craft.
"It's that ship!" Amy shouted, as the realisation hit her. "The one that curly haired mean you sent to crash!"
"Yep." The Doctor nodded.
"But then you'd know about it, wouldn't you?" Rory questioned, thinking about it for a second. "Unless you hadn't done it yet? If this happened first?"
"Correct, Rory." The Doctor nodded. "From my perspective at least."
"Well, that's it then." Rory sighed. "I've really been doing this too long."
"What do you mean?" Amy questioned, slightly concerned.
"Well, " Rory put a reassuring arm around his wife. "Everything is started to make sense. It's never done that before."
"Clear!" The UNIT soldier confirmed as he peered around the corner of a corridor. "Lights are low here too. Emergency generator must have survived."
"Of course it did." The Doctor confirmed. "Although calling it a generator is a bit of an understatement. This is a highly advanced ship after all."
"When's it from, Doctor?" Benton asked. "The future I presume?"
"Well, it certainly wasn't the past was it?" The Doctor scolded. Despite the respect he had for both Benton and the Brigadier he did sometime wish that they wouldn't ask so many stupid questions. He followed the Sergeant and two UNIT soldiers down the corridor, the Brigadier and the other two having split from them earlier, taking a different corridor.
"The door's jammed." The soldier shouted back, his partner tapping ineffectively at the keypad.
"Let me try." The Doctor suggested, making note of the charred input panel by the door. "Hmm. Some kind of sonic device, by the looks of it. Someone's been here before, barged their way in."
He reached in to his coat pocket and pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver. "You can't beat everything with pure brawn you know."
With a sharp buzz, the door slid open. The Doctor went to step forward, looking pleased with himself, when Benton grabbed his arm.
"Us first, Doctor." He said quietly. "Just in case. You don't know what's in there. You can't beat everything with just your brains. And you don't carry a gun, do you Doctor?"
"Touché" The Doctor said with a smile, letting Benton and the soldiers pass him.
"My god." The first one whispered, arcing his torch around the room.
"What is it?" The Doctor asked. "What can you see?"
"Pods." The soldier stuttered. "Lots of them. All broken though."
"Where? Let me see." The Doctor pushed past, taking a good look at the dimly lit room. Pods lined both walls, each one in various states of dis-repair. Some where merely dented, but it was the ones that had the most damage that caught the Doctor's attention. Hanging out of several of the pods were twisted humanoid figures, their skin black and decayed, their bodies hanging limp over the pod doors.
"What are they Doctor?" Benton eventually asked, covering his mouth.
"Life support systems, I think." The Doctor paused. "Oh, them. I'd take a guess at a genetic experiment. Several of them. They look harmless now though." He frowned. "Unfortunately for them."
"But who would do this? Who would have the technology?"
"Well Benton," the Time Lord looked sideways to the Sergeant, "we're on a space ship, so I'd hazard a guess it's no one from this planet."
"Good point." Benton shrugged. "All dead then?"
"It appears so. Let's get back to the Brigadier, I'll need to study one in the lab."
Benton was about to reach for his radio, when a loud scream interrupted him, echoing round the room.
"Who was that?" Benton shouted, shocked.
"I've got a horrible feeling that I know that scream." The Doctor frowned. "It sounded like Sarah."
"Sarah-Jane? How did she get here?" Benton had barely finished his sentence before the Doctor had made it halfway across the room, towards the source of the cry.
"Let's worry about what she was screaming about first, shall we Sergeant?" The Doctor shouted, urging the three UNIT staff to follow him.
"Come on men!" The Brigadier ordered, as he started to run down the corridor, both torch and pistol in hand. "That sounded suspiciously like Ms. Smith. I ought to have known she wouldn't take no for answer."
"Sir!" One of the soldier shouted, turning to look behind them. Seeing nothing, he span again, scanning the area. "I heard something, I'm sure of it."
"Let's keep going." The Brigadier said firmly, glancing over the area himself. He was about to head down the corridor again, when he saw something in the corner of his eye. "There!" He shouted, turning his torch behind him.
In a flash, a creature lunged out of the darkness, towards the nearest soldier. The Brigadier attempted to take aim, but his flailing soldier making it impossible to see the attacker, let alone line up a clear shot. Within seconds the soldier collapsed backwards, the creature glaring at the second soldier with bright yellow eyes.
"Get back!" The Brigadier ordered, taking a shot. There was the sound of metal on metal as the creature threw itself at the second soldier, screams echoing around him. The Brigadier fired again, the lack of light causing him to miss once again. The man looked back to him, a look of sheer pain and terror on his face, confirming to the Brigadier that there was nothing more he could do. He hated leaving a man behind, but it was far too late. If only he'd reacted sooner, he thought as he darted away, but soon pushed those thoughts from his head. There would be plenty of time for regrets later, he hoped.
"Get off me!' Sarah demanded, as leather skinned creature dragged her down the corridor. She was flailing her arms and legs, hitting and kicking it repeatedly, but it was as if it didn't even notice. The corridors were getting darker, she noticed. The only real source of light was the torch that she'd dropped, and was now being dragged away from. All she'd wanted was to take some notes on a crashed spaceship, but now it looked like its' dark corridors were going to be the last thing she saw.
As she stopped screaming, trying to save her energy, she noticed the creature was grunting to itself as it went. Words weren't distinguishable, but Sarah-Jane was sure it was trying to talk.
"I don't want to hurt you." Sarah said softly. "If you just let me go, I can help you."
The creature's breathing became heavy, as if it was a massive effort, words coming one at a time.
"Oh we can." She pleaded. "My friend, the Doctor, he can help you."
"Yes. The Doctor. He'll do his best for you."
"There's...only...one...way...anyone...can...help. ..me...now." The creature hissed, a hint of sadness in the words.
"At least let him try." Sarah said, trying to sound as calm and as kind as she could, given the circumstances. "My friend, the Doctor. He'll want to try."
"There's no hope for any of them." The Doctor said sadly to Benton, as they stood over the body of one of the creatures. It, in turn was sprawled on the body of their two UNIT comrades, both having fallen victim to the creature moments before. "Their DNA has been altered to such an extent, there would be no going back." He looked away from the small pile of bodies. "Even if anything human remained of them."
"It was feral." Benton gasped, his gun still raised. "Nothing human about it."
"Not that one, no." The Doctor nodded, reassuringly. Although he was a soldier, he knew Benton would be devastated if he thought he had killed an innocent. "But we don't know if they are all the same." He pointed his torch at the corridor ahead. "Come on, we have to keep moving. We need to find Sarah."
Their footsteps echoed underneath them as they ran, the seemingly identical corridors appearing to go on for miles.
"Doctor!' Benton shouted suddenly. "I think I can hear something."
"That's just our footsteps, old chap." The Doctor tried to reassure him.
"No." Benton argued, stopping and pointing his gun to the ceiling. "Up there." The Doctor pointed his torch to where Benton was indicating and listened.
"There's nothing there." He confirmed, turning back away from the Sergeant.
He was proved wrong, however, as a panel behind him clattered to the floor, and within moments, Benton was lifted from the ground by a pair of long black arms, his gun falling to the floor.
"Benton!" The Doctor shouted as the struggling man vanished in to the ceiling above pointed the torch towards the vent, barley making out Benton being dragged away, trying to beat at his attacker the best he could.
"Still alive." The Doctor said calmly. "That's a good sign."
Sarah-Jane stood in the centre of the large round room, walkways spiralling above her, various panels and consoles flashing weakly. The creature that had dragged her away stood behind him, holding her arms in place, as several others approached slowly, looking her over with glowing eyes.
"She...is...not...like...us." One hissed. "Where...is...she...from?"
"Earth." Sarah answered. "Where you crashed."
"Crashed..." Another started, "How...we...escaped...the...pods."
"You mean you were locked up?" Sarah queried. "Whilst the ship flew across space?"
"To...be...disposed...of." The creature holding her responded. "We...were...a...failure...others...attacked...kil led...had...to...be...hidden...monsters."
"A failure? You mean someone did this on purpose?" Sarah said appalled.
"That's awful. You're not killers though." It was half a question, half trying to reassure herself. "You've kept me alive."
"And me." Came a voice, as a figure was dragged in to the room. "Looks like we're the lucky ones, doesn't it?"
"I'd say now isn't is time for formalities, would you Sarah?"
"But, I don't even know your first name." Sarah said, not quite believing they were having this conversation right now.
"John." Benton replied, as he was led to stand beside her. "At least you'll know before they kill us."
"The others did." Benton said, hanging his head. "At least two men down, maybe more."
"We...all...reacted...differently." The creature holding Benton tried to explain. "DNA...splicing...was...identical...but...some...k ept...our...humanity."
"Shame about the others." Benton quipped.
"Yes, it is rather." The Doctor said, striding in to the room.
"Doctor! Am I glad to see you!" Sarah smiled.
The Doctor looked to Sarah, woefully.
"I don't know how I can." He grimaced. "I can't undo what they've done to you, I'm afraid."
"No, Doctor." Came the Brigadier's voice from a walkway above, gun in hand. "But I have a solution."
"Oh fantastic." The Doctor rolled his eyes. "That's all we need. Lethbridge Stewart and his trigger finger." He looked up. "Don't shoot, Brigadier!"
"I've lost four good men because of these creatures, Doctor." The Brigadier shouted. "Give me one reason why not."
"It wasn't these ones, sir." Benton replied, looking over his shoulder.
"The Sergeant is right, Brigadier." The Doctor explained. "Not all of these creatures want to hurt us."
"Then what do you suggest I do, Doctor? Ask each one how friendly they are before I shoot at them? Or just let more people die?"
"Kill...us." One of the creatures said suddenly. "End...this."
"No!" Sarah protested. "Not like this."
"We...will...let...you...go." The creature continued, as both Benton and Sarah were released from the creature's grip. "But...we...do...not...wish...to...carry on."
"You're right, Doctor." The Brigadier said taking a moment to listen as he lowered his weapon. "These ones aren't dangerous."
"No." The Doctor agreed. "But some of them are." He walked behind Benton, before stumbling over a pile of discarded metal on the floor. "Who left that there?" He tutted, regaining his composure before looking to what appeared to have once been a Mechanoid. He turned his attention to a panel in the side of a cylindrical column, which reached right to the top of the chamber. "It's a chronon based warp core." He said loudly, with no further explanation.
"And just what does that mean?" Benton asked, shrugging his shoulders.
"The entire ship is powered by focused chronon energy.' The Doctor explained. "It allows rudimentary time travel." He paused. "And life support."
"Like a stasis chamber?" Sarah asked, looking around at the creatures.
"Yes Sarah." The Doctor replied, poking his head through the access panel. "It would certainly explain how our friends here have survived."
"How do you mean, Doctor?" The Brigadier asked, having walked down to join them on the ground level.
"I'm sorry," he addressed the various creatures around him "but the DNA splicing, the crash, there's no way you should have survived that."
"The ship?" Sarah questioned. "The ship is keeping them alive?"
"Well, the engine core is." The Doctor pursed his lips. "For now."
"For now?" Benton quipped. "That sounds ominous."
"It was damaged in the crash." The Doctor said quietly. "I don't know how long we have before it overloads."
"What does that mean?"
"An explosion." The Doctor frowned. "A rather big one at that. But if I remove it," he gestured to the black skinned creatures, "they'll all die."
"And if you don't, Doctor," the Brigadier said firmly, "even more people will. You have to do it."
"Don't tell me what I have to do Alistair." The Doctor snapped. "I'm more than aware of the situation."
"Do...it." The creatures said together. "Do...it."
The Doctor looked to Sarah sadly, then to the creatures.
"It's not their fault." He said quietly. "They didn't ask for this,"
"Neither did we, Doctor." The Brigadier snapped. "You heard them. Do it, or I'll have to."
Doctor!" Sarah screamed as a set of footsteps echoed rapidly towards them.
"It's one of them!" Benton shouted, going for his gun before realising he'd dropped it earlier. "One of the deranged ones."
"I'll deal with this." The Brigadier stepped forwards, his gun raised.
"No." One of the creatures stepped in front of him, followed by the rest. "We...will...whilst...you...do..it...Doctor...whil st...you...do...what...you...must."
The feral creature pounced in to the room, glaring menacingly at its' kin that stood in the way, forming a leathery wall between it and the Doctor, Benton, Sarah and the Brigadier.
"Do it Doctor!" The Brigadier ordered, as the creatures stood firm, swiping at the attacker with as much energy as they could.
"I think you have to Doctor." Sarah said sadly to him. "It's what they want."
"It is." The Doctor sighed. "But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it."
He poked his Sonic Screwdriver in to the panel, giving it a short burst before reaching in with his hand. A few moments later he pulled out a glowing blue cylinder, the bottom culminating in a point, light pulsing from top to bottom.
Instantly the lights across the whole ship went out, all of the creatures falling together in to one large heap, breathing a single unified sigh as their life was extinguished. The Bridadier quickly turned his torch on, pointing it at the Doctor, as if waiting for the enevitable explanation.
"Without the core in place, the temporal field is now longer functioning. So all of the damage to thier bodies has caught up with them."The Doctor said sadly, the core in hand as he turned away. "It's done."
"So then Ms. Smith." The Brigadier said, turning to Sarah-Jane as they walked stepped out of the ship, through the same hole they had entered through. "Just what were you doing on board in the first place? You put us all at risk."
"I know." She said looking at the floor. "I'm sorry."
"I'm more concerned about how you got in to the TARDIS." The Doctor said coldly.
Sarah looked at him sheepishly.
"Spare key." She avoided his gaze. "You keep it in your top draw."
"Not anymore." He snapped. "Now then Brigadier, what are you going to do about that?" He gestured back to the wreckage.
"A series of controlled explosions should do it." He looked to Benton. "Sergeant?"
"I'll organise it right away sir."
"And you Ms. Smith will get your story after all."
"Really?" Sarah beamed. "I'll write it up straight away."
"Oh no need for that." The Brigadier said sternly. "I think youll find I'll be telling you just what's being published, thank you very much. Unexploded bombs, I think."
"You mean after all that," she huffed, "I don't even get to publish the truth?"
"Of course not." The Brigadier smirked. "Besides, when did newspapers ever deal with the truth?"
"But how did it crash in the first place?" Sarah asked with a sigh. "Why here?"
"A coincidence maybe?" The Doctor suggested. "The other alternative.." He trailed off, looking carefully at the time core in his hand.
"That someone set it to crash you mean?" The Brigadier suggested.
"But who would do that?" Sarah said, looking back to the ship. "And why? What sort of person purposely send a ship full of living creatures to crash on an inhabited planer?"
"Someone irresponsible, with little thought of any consequences, I'd have thought." The Doctor said scathingly. "Or, someone who knew exactly what they were doing, and for a very good reason. Either way, If I ever find who it was, I'll be giving them a piece of my mind, that's for certain."