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DOCTOR WHO
An Adventure in Time and Space

GERMANY. 1944 AD.

 

As he descended the steps into the main compound, Professor Manstein pushed up his protective goggles to sit on his forehead. He stood and watched as the convoy drove up the concrete road from the main gate. Behind the motorcycle outriders came a half-track armoured car; then the three heavy transporters. On the back of each trailer, the cigar-like shape of a V-2 rocket lay on its side, supported by a metal framework the launch cradle, that could be raised hydraulically into the vertical firing position.

Following the transporters was Colonel Buchner's staff car, then a truck full of soldiers, and more motorcycles. As the transporters began parking up on one side of the compound, the staff car drew up before the steps of the main research block. The Corporal-driver jumped out, and held open the door for Buchner.

The Colonel was a heavy-set man with slicked-back grey hair, and a small scar on the right side of his firm, square jaw. He was an officer of the old school, a veteran of the first War, with myriad ribbons displayed on his uniform and Iron Cross proudly worn at his collar. Manstein raised his arm in salute. "Heil Hitler!"

Buchner acknowledged the salute with a vague wave. "Heil Hitler," he murmured quietly. He turned and looked across the compound, where the transporters had come to rest. "Well, there they are," he said. "All the way from Peenemünde."

"Excellent," replied Manstein.

Buchner sighed. "Von Braun was reluctant to hand them over. He considers the V-2 to be still an experiment in progress, and not yet handed over to the jurisdiction of the High Command."

"Von Braun is a fool," said Manstein dismissively. "I take it he could not dispute my requisition order?"

"A universal procurement clearance signed by the Führer himself? How could he argue with that?"

Manstein laughed humourlessly. "I don't know why the Führer even tolerates Von Braun. He has no interest in winning the war."

"Ah, perhaps that's why he fires incendiary rockets at Britain," remarked Buchner sarcastically. He was always quietly amused by the academic rivalry he had observed while working in weapons development. The chief scientists of the various projects all seemed to despise each other perhaps because they were in effect competing for the Führer's attention. In his typically capricious way, Hitler would allocate resources to whichever project had caught his fancy that day. A few months ago, Werner von Braun had been the golden boy, and his rocket base on Peenemünde island had been well funded. But since his flying bombs had failed to destroy the morale of the British, he had fallen from favour somewhat. Still, he had made the most of his opportunity to develop the V-2 rocket. The prototype had been successfully launched, and the Führer had approved their immediate deployment against the enemy.

But now Manstein's scheme had the Führer's full backing. Buchner was not unduly surprised. In the three months since the Allies had landed in Normandy, they had systematically pushed the German lines back. As a professional soldier and a realist, Buchner knew full well that the war was in its final stages it would all be over within a year unless something drastically tipped the balance of power. Hitler was banking on a technological miracle to turn the tide. And that was what Manstein was promising.

The Professor was still disparaging his scientific rival. "You should have heard Von Braun before the war. He said that one day rockets would take men to the Moon. Have you ever heard the like?"

"You seem happy enough to make use of his rockets," said Buchner, nodding towards the three transporters across the compound.

"Yes," replied Manstein huffily. "They are useful as delivery systems it is the payload they carry that is important. My bomb will achieve more with a single blast than a hundred of Von Braun's incendiaries. Which reminds me were the modifications made to the rockets according to my design?"

"They were. I oversaw the work of the chief engineer myself."

Manstein nodded in satisfaction. "Then the project is nearly complete," he said. "And our victory will be assured."

----

With the Doctor preoccupied tracking Kralin, Abby paid another visit to the ornate bathroom. It was wonderfully refreshing to clean off the mud, dust and blood that had accumulated during her adventures on Keladin and Skaro. Her wounds fortunately didn't seem as severe as she had feared the cuts were fairly minor, and the swelling of her bruises was going down.

When she finished her bath, Abby found a new set of clothes laid out for her. She supposed the Doctor must have put them there. They were not what she would choose to wear, but lacking any alternative, she put them on a cotton dress with a flower pattern, the skirt reaching well below the knee; and a grey woollen overcoat. It was like something out of the 1940s.

As she stepped out into the corridor, Abby felt the vibration and movement of the Tardis, and realized they were still in transit. She decided there would be time to change into something more comfortable. But as she stood there looking up and down the interminable corridors, she realized that she had no idea of the way to the wardrobe room. She looked to the Tardis to guide her, and once again found certain passageways to be more brightly lit. But they were leading her to the control room.

She entered to find the Doctor standing by the console, staring up at the scanner screen. He already seemed to have cleaned himself up, and changed his clothes into another near-identical ensemble topped off with a black knee-length jacket. As she moved towards him, Abby noticed that the ship's motion had ceased. Without looking round, the Doctor said, "Well, we've arrived."

Frowning, Abby held out her arms to display her seriously retro new outfit. "Look at these clothes," she said indignantly.

Without glancing round, the Doctor remarked, "Very nice."

"Did you leave them for me?" asked Abby.

"No." This time the Doctor turned to regard her. "I imagine it's the Tardis thinking ahead as usual."

"What?" Abby shook her head in confusion.

"It's perfect," the Doctor added hastily, with a nod at the scanner. "You'd soon stick out if you tried to wear your modern clothes here."

For the first time, Abby turned to look at the screen, which showed the view of a forest nothing but trees as far as she could see. "Where are we then?"

The Doctor walked around the console, reading information from the various displays. "We're in Northern Germany, somewhere near the town of Bremerhaven. As near as I can make out, it's the middle of September 1944 about three months after D-Day. So the locals are going to be jumpy and looking for possible spies. The last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself."

Abby nodded, and looked more closely at the scanner, but still she could see nothing but the forest. She supposed her image of Nazi Germany was coloured by a hundred old war films she expected to see tanks and marching hordes of jack-booted stormtroopers, not a pleasant country scene. "Is this where Kralin is?" she asked.

"Not sure," the Doctor murmured. "I lost his time trace before I could pinpoint it exactly. But this is where history starts to go wrong more or less. The changes may already have started, but the distortion of the continuum doesn't seem too severe yet. We should still have the chance to put things right."

"We'd better get started then," Abby replied briskly.

The Doctor smiled, and pressed the control to open the door. Then he turned, and walked to the other side of the room, where an ornately carved antique hatstand resided. Hanging from it was a massive check overcoat, identical to the one he had worn in London. He pulled it on, and strode purposefully towards the doors.

Abby joined him, and they stepped out into the forest. The Doctor turned to lock the door of the Tardis, which was still in the form of a police box. So much for blending in with the environment. Abby couldn't say she was surprised, though she was a little disappointed not to have witnessed the Tardis changing shape. She suddenly wondered if it had ever worked properly.

She looked round for the Doctor, who had wandered off into the trees. She hurried to catch him up.

----

Colonel Buchner looked around the interior of the main research block. It was a large, square building of brick and reinforced concrete. The interior was like a single vast room. There were no walls or partitions, no floors in the conventional sense just metal gantries fixed to the outer walls at different levels. In the centre of this huge space stood a gigantic concrete cube, at least fifty feet in height.

The main control gantry where he stood now was positioned about halfway up the building, and extended around all four walls, surrounding the central cube. Numerous scientists and engineers were busy working, reading the dials on banks of instruments and recording the results on clipboards. Buchner had little idea of what they were doing. Since he had be made commandant of this base, he had only been inside the research block twice administrative matters occupied most of his time.

Professor Manstein was sitting at a control panel on the opposite side of the gantry. He was a short man in his middle forties with neatly cut black hair and thick-lensed spectacles. Beneath the protective white overalls that all the scientists wore, Buchner knew he would be immaculately dressed in the finest suit. He had never seen Manstein looking anything less than dapper.

As he studied the controls, Manstein read out figures to his assistant, Dr. Schroder. The two scientists conferred in low voices for a couple of minutes, then Manstein stood up and walked over to rejoin Buchner. "Well, Colonel, I am satisfied that the work here is complete."

"So what happens now?" asked Buchner.

"Now, we must fuel the pile, and prepare to achieve criticality."

Buchner sighed. "Which means what exactly?"

Manstein gestured towards the cubic structure of the atomic pile. "Think of this as a large oven," he said. "Once it is fired up, the material it will produce can be used as an explosive the most powerful explosive the world has ever seen."

Looking towards the pile, Buchner caught sight of Dr. Schroder still standing beside the control panel. It was as if he had been watching Manstein all this time. For a second, their gazes met then Schroder quickly returned his attention to the instruments. He was a tall fellow, with closely-cropped blond hair and piercing blue eyes quite the perfect Aryan in fact, so Buchner could never define what it was about the man that made him feel slightly uneasy.

Manstein was still talking about his invention. "Carrying the new shells I've designed, one or maybe two V-2 rockets will be enough to completely obliterate London. We'll see where that leaves Mr. Churchill's defiance."

Buchner grunted non-committally. Whilst in theory he was committed to winning the war, he often wished it could be achieved without mass civilian casualties. To his mind, war was something fought between professionals on the battlefield a weapon that could eradicate an entire city was anathema to him. "What do you require to proceed?" he asked quietly.

"The uranium fuel I requested?"

"The requisition order has been approved," said Buchner. "It's on its way from Czechoslovakia. It should be here within three days."

"Excellent," Manstein replied briskly. "Then I am simply awaiting the arrival of Dr. Kralin."

"Ah yes, your colleague from Heidelberg..."

"His research provided the key to unlocking the fission process," said Manstein. "I could not have achieved all this without him. And I would not feel confident proceeding without his support."

"When is he due?" asked Buchner.

"Hopefully today, if there were no problems with the trains. I received his telegram on Monday. You will sort out his security clearance when he arrives?"

Buchner nodded. "Certainly. I am looking forward to meeting him."

----

Once again the Doctor had fished an electronic instrument from his pocket. He studied the readings carefully, then frowned and started to stride off through the trees. Abby struggled to keep up with him. "What are you looking for?" she asked breathlessly.

"I don't know," replied the Doctor. Abruptly, he turned round and started to walk back the way they had come.

"Can you find Kralin's time trace?"

The Doctor stopped, and sighed heavily. "There's some resonance on the right frequency, but nothing I can pinpoint precisely. At the moment I'm more concerned with the fabric of history. The source of the distortion the moment when it started to go wrong we're practically on top of it."

Abby turned and looked around, but there was nothing to see but more trees. Autumn was starting to fall, and the ground was covered with dead leaves that crunched under their feet. Suddenly, a hint of blue caught her eye near the base of a tree. Abby moved across to it, and crouched down. Brushing leaves aside, she uncovered one of the last surviving flowers of the summer. Growing in the shadow of the tree, it was quite scrawny and weak, its petals small and half-formed. And yet, in the midst of the industrial-scale evil of the Third Reich, it seemed to her a thing of great beauty.

She looked up to seek the Doctor, and caught just a glimpse of his overcoat disappearing between the trees in the thickest part of the forest. Abby sighed in exasperation. Leaving behind the frail beauty of the flower, she jumped up and started to hurry after him.

She reached the dense part of the forest, but there was no sign of the Doctor. As she contemplated plunging into the semi-darkness to look for him, a voice rang out behind her: "Halt!"

Abby felt her heart leap into her throat. She knew instantly what had happened. Her first instinct was to call out for the Doctor, but she managed to stop herself. She would only give away the fact of his presence in the forest, and then he would be captured as well. Where was the sense in that?

Slowly, she turned round to face the speaker as she had expected, she was facing a German soldier. The sub-machine gun slung over his shoulder was pointing straight at her. For several long moments, Abby could only see the gaping muzzle of the gun. But when she finally tore her eyes away, she saw that the soldier was little more than a boy, nineteen years old at most, and seemingly more terrified as she was. "Stay where you are!" he shouted, his voice high-pitched and querulous.

Within moments, more soldiers arrived on the scene. Their leader, a grey-haired sergeant, looked at Abby curiously. "What are you doing here?" he asked, not unkindly. "Where are you from?"

Drawing a deep breath, Abby managed to find her voice from somewhere though when she spoke, it was small and pathetic. "I was walking in the forest," she said, thinking desperately. "Trying to pick some late flowers."

The sergeant smiled at her. "You've come a long way," he said. "The nearest farm is what? Five miles away? Are you from there? Or the village? That's further still. You can't have walked, surely."

Abby didn't know what to say.

"We'd have heard a car," the sergeant continued. "Ah, perhaps you came by bicycle. Where did you leave it?" When Abby failed to answer, his voice became harsher. "Show me your papers."

Abby shook her head. She knew full well she had no papers. She'd only put these clothes on an hour ago all the pockets were empty.

The sergeant finally lost his temper. He grabbed Abby firmly by the arm. "All right, we'll take her back to the base. I'm sure Lieutenant Rudiger will wish to question her."

----

His eyes fixed on his monitoring device, the Doctor tramped through the trees, almost heedless of the branches that snagged his coat, the roots that tried to trip him. The focus of the temporal distortion was very close indeed, and he was walking round in a large circle to try and attempt a triangulation.

Pausing momentarily, he looked up and glanced around for Abby. She was nowhere to be seen. Foolish girl, thought the Doctor. Why had she ignored his advice and gone wandering off? Didn't she realize they were in the middle of Nazi Germany? He shrugged hopefully she'd have the good sense to return to the Tardis and wait for him. The Doctor returned his attention to the instrument in his hand, and began walking again.

Just up ahead, the trees started to thin out once more, and more sunlight reached the ground through the canopy of branches. The sound of voices drew the Doctor up short. He quickly ducked into the shadow of a particularly large tree, and peered through the foliage. He could make out a few shapes moving, which quickly resolved themselves into the figures of men wearing grey uniforms.

He settled into the shadows, waiting for the soldiers to move off so he could resume his search. That was when he saw Abby in the midst of the patrol, being marched along with a machine gun at her back. The Doctor sighed. Now he had to rescue her as well as restore history to its rightful course.

He waited until the troops had got a fair distance ahead, and then began to follow them, darting from the shelter of one tree to another. Despite the autumnal leaves littering the forest floor, and the dead dry twigs that could so easily snap underfoot, he made barely a sound he had been taught tracking skills by Baden-Powell himself.

After some ten minutes, the soldiers came to a road through the forest, and began to march along it. Staying within the trees, the Doctor kept them in sight. They soon came to the edge of the forest where the trees ended, a high chain link fence started. Behind it, the Doctor could see a large open area, containing a number of buildings. There were also plenty of troops and military vehicles some kind of army base, obviously.

The soldiers led Abby to a closed gate, where more troops were standing on sentry duty. The patrol sergeant conferred with the guards for a few moments, and then one of them went into his sentry box. A few minutes later, another ten soldiers had assembled on the inside of the gate, all armed with sub-machine guns. Only then was the gate opened, and the patrol marched inside with Abby their prisoner. The gate was shut behind them, and Abby was marched away across the compound, surrounded by some twenty-five soldiers.

It seemed excessive security for a lone, unarmed woman found wandering in the woods. What could be going on inside this base to provoke such an over-reaction? And was it what he was looking for, something that would alter the course of history? One thing was certain. He had to get inside the complex if only because it was the only way he could rescue Abby.

From back along the road came the sound of a heavy engine. The Doctor turned to see a large army truck approaching. Keeping back in the shadow of the trees, he watched as the truck drove up to the gate, sounding its horn. Two more lorries were following behind. The convoy slowed down and stopped at the gate, forming a queue backed up along the road. The rear of the third truck was just opposite the Doctor's position.

As he watched, the base guards came forward from their post to speak to the driver of the lead truck. Words were exchanged, and papers handed over. The chief guard went back into his sentry box. After a few moments, he emerged and signalled for the gate to be opened. The lorries revved up their engines, ready to drive into the compound.

Realizing this was his chance, the Doctor checked that the guards were facing the other way then he darted out from his hiding place and ran across the road. He knew that it only took one man to glance round, and he would be seen and probably shot. But somehow he made it to the back of the third truck, which was starting to roll forward to the gate. The Doctor leapt up and grabbed hold of the tailboard. The lorry began to pick up speed, almost dragging him along with. With a supreme effort, he managed to haul himself over the tailboard, and flopped heavily into the back of the truck, which was full of wooden crates. He slid into a corner and kept his head down as the vehicle turned through the gate and into the base.

----

The room was plain and empty, the rough walls damp there was no furniture save a single wooden chair. The only windows were high up, and covered with grime so no sunlight could make its way inside. The only light source was the harsh glare of a bare electric bulb hanging from the ceiling.

Abby had been thrust into the room by the soldiers, and then left. She tried sitting in the chair, but it was hard and uncomfortable, so she settled for standing. She did not have long to wait. After about five minutes, the door opened. The man who entered was about thirty years old, tall and imposing with a harsh glare in his eyes and a mouth that seemed to be twisted into a permanent sneer. He was dressed in the black uniform of a Gestapo officer.

As the door shut behind him, he walked slowly into the room, and regarded Abby coldly. "Sit down," he ordered.

When she hesitated for just a moment, he took a step forward and slapped her across the face with a black-gloved hand. "I said sit," he yelled. Abby quickly perched herself on the chair, and looked up at him fearfully.

The officer began slowly to peel off his black leather gloves. "I am Lieutenant Rudiger," he said, "and I am in charge of security at this establishment. I do not like anyone or anything that affects my security arrangements so you might appreciate that I am not very pleased to meet you. What are you doing here?"

From somewhere inside, a tiny bubble of defiance welled up inside Abby. She fixed Rudiger's gaze steadily and replied, "Your soldiers brought me here."

The Lieutenant smiled, and nodded to himself as if in appreciation of the joke. Then without warning he struck her across the face with the back of his hand. "I should warn you, I do not have a sense of humour. I'm told this is something of a failing. Now, what were you doing in the forest when you were found?"

"Looking at wild flowers," said Abby, blinking back tears.

She steeled herself for another slap, but it never came. Instead, Rudiger seemed to consider the answer. "I'm just a little confused as to how you came to be in a wood in the middle of nowhere."

Abby said nothing. What could she say? She could hardly explain about the Tardis.

Rudiger suddenly stretched out his hand to her face. She flinched, expecting to be struck but he grasped her by the chin, and turned her head so that he could look directly into her eyes. "I'll tell you what I think," he murmured. "I think you are a spy. And believe me when I am finished with you, you will be only too eager to admit the fact."

----

The lorry had eventually come to rest. The Doctor stayed hidden behind a stack of crates, listening to the sounds from outside. He heard the driver dismounting from his cab, the door slamming, then the murmur of conversation from near the tailgate. This was followed by shouted orders, and the marching of booted feet and for a moment, he feared that they were going to start unloading the truck. But then further commands were called out, and he heard the soldiers march away.

After a few minutes, the Doctor risked peering over the tailboard of the lorry. There was no one in sight. He was looking over a large expanse of concrete on which several vehicles were parked around its edges were a number of low, whitewashed concrete buildings, which might possible be barracks or some kind of workshop. There was no indication of where they might have taken Abby no building immediately stood out as being a cell block.

The coast was still clear, so the Doctor clambered up over the tailboard, and dropped to the ground. Almost at once, he heard the sounds of marching feet approaching. Quickly, the Doctor slid beneath the lorry and crouched in the shadow of one of the wheels. He watched as several sets of jackbooted feet came marching past, and then receded into the distance.

Crawling out from under the truck, the Doctor scanned the area for some sort of hiding place. Across the compound, the corner of two adjoining buildings formed a small niche, partly obscured by some large oil drums. The Doctor ran across the concrete, and just managed to duck behind the drums as two German officers came round the nearest corner, talking and joking together.

When they had passed, the Doctor carefully raised his head. From his new vantage point, he could see parts of the base that had been invisible from the back of the lorry. The concrete buildings only bordered one half of the compound on the other side was a stretch of barren scrubland. Parked at the edge of the compound were three huge transporter lorries and on the back of each trailer was the distinctive shape of a V-2 rocket fixed in its launch cradle. At the moment they were horizontal, but he knew they could be raised into firing position within minutes.

Near the V-2s, another stretch of concrete road extended from the compound across the scrub, and led to another open space a short distance further on. Standing here were large chemical storage tanks of some sort, interconnected by a bewildering array of pipes and valves. With the V-2s parked so close by, it was no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the chemical tanks contained rocket fuel.

Looking round, the Doctor realized that the compound was not perfectly symmetrical. There was an extrusion off to one side, but he could only see the nearest edge of it his view was obscured by the building in whose shadow he was hiding. Yet a nagging suspicion told him that whatever was in that space was vitally important and he had learnt over many years not to distrust such instincts.

He took another cautious look round still no one in sight and then darted out from behind the oil drums. He slipped round the corner, and looked up at the sight which confronted him. It was a large brick and concrete building, almost a perfect cube in shape. A number of smaller, interconnected buildings surrounded it, but it was the central structure that most intrigued him. There was something about the overall shape that really alarmed him, and he knew then that he had to get inside for a closer look.

A set of steps led up to the main entrance, but he decided that was probably not the best approach. Hopefully there would be a side door or service entrance. Before he could investigate however, he sensed movement at the edge of his vision. He couldn't afford to be discovered now. Looking round rapidly, he spotted what seemed to be the only hiding place, a set of steps at the side of the whitewashed building on his right, which led down into a basement area.

Keeping as close to the wall as possible, he ran for the steps, practically jumping down. He peered carefully over the top of the area, and saw three men approaching. They seemed to be civilians rather than soldiers, and were dressed in white protective overalls that suggested they were technicians of some kind. Fortunately they didn't seem to have seen him they walked straight past the top of the steps without pausing. The Doctor watched as they walked to the large cube-shaped building but instead of climbing the steps, they proceeded to an adjoining outbuilding at the side, and entered there.

The Doctor waited for a few moments. Then he climbed back up the steps and padded swiftly across to the outbuilding. He had to find out what was going on here. He realized it was only a matter of time before he was discovered and when that happened, he wanted to ensure he had acquired as much information as possible.

----

Colonel Buchner looked up from his desk. "And that's your conclusion, is it?" he demanded.

Lieutenant Rudiger frowned. "I believe the girl is a spy," he said.

"I'm not so certain," replied Buchner. "If you had managed to elicit a confession from her..."

Rudiger began to pace the office, ticking off the points of evidence. "She is detained, miles from any town or village the only feature of interest in the vicinity is this base. She has no papers, and seemingly no explanation for her presence." He paused by the window, and turned back to survey the office. The Colonel was surrounded by momentoes of his career old regimental photographs, two duelling swords mounted on the wall, even the spiked helmet he'd worn in the first War. In pride of place above the desk was a painting of Kaiser Wilhelm but there was no picture of the Führer anywhere in the office, which Rudiger found rather strange.

Buchner drew a deep breath, and got slowly to his feet. "And there you see the problem," he said. "If this young woman is a spy, she cannot be a very competent one not if she is captured so easily, and has no cover story and no effective disguise."

"Then perhaps she is a saboteur," suggested Rudiger.

"Yes perhaps if she had been caught trying to infiltrate the base, you might have a case."

"With respect, Colonel, I feel you are treating this matter too lightly."

"Do you?" Buchner's features twitched into a nervous smile. "Be assured, Lieutenant, the security of this base is of the utmost concern to me. The work we do here is too important to the Fatherland for us to take any risks. The case of this woman is neither here nor there. Whatever her presence may or may not portend, I want you to step up security around the base with immediate effect."

"Then you wish me to interrogate her further?"

"No," replied the Colonel. "Not for the moment. As I say, I want you to increase base security and I want you to take full and personal charge of that. Questioning of this woman can wait. Have her confined to a cell in the meantime."

Rudiger nodded slowly, and had to suppress a twinge of disappointment at a pleasure deferred but he promised himself that, when he did get the chance to resume interrogation of the prisoner, he would be most thorough about it. Returning his attention to the present, he asked, "Is there anything I should be aware of? Any reason for this new regime?"

"Yes," said Buchner. "Professor Manstein informs me that the project is nearing completion. Furthermore, this expert from Heidelberg Doctor Kralin is due to arrive today or tomorrow. Once he is here, I want nothing to go wrong. Total round- the-clock security cover the compound, the perimeter, and inside the research block."

Rudiger raised an eyebrow. Such blanket security was what he had always advocated. But Professor Manstein had protested, forbidding them from stationing guards inside the research block itself he claimed he could not work with hordes of soldiers swarming round him. "I don't imagine the Professor will be very pleased," Rudiger said.

"No," replied Buchner. "But Professor Manstein is not the commandant of this base. I have indulged him for long enough. Now he will have to accept that he is under military jurisdiction."

"I agree totally, sir."

"Good. Then you can come with me to inform the Professor of my decision."

----

The Doctor was pressed against the wall of the outbuilding. It was a low, whitewashed concrete structure, similar in design to the barracks that surrounded the main compound. A short walkway, covered in corrugated iron, connected it to the gigantic central block. Cautiously, the Doctor peered through a grimy window. Inside, he could see rows of metal lockers, and a rack from which hung sets of white overalls. It was obviously some sort of changing room for the technicians he had seen earlier.

The door through which they had entered was situated slightly further along the wall of the outbuilding. The Doctor reached out, and tried the handle it was unlocked. He pulled the door open, and slipped inside. The changing room was empty. The Doctor glanced around quickly there was little to see in here, he decided. He had to get inside the central building, and confirm whether his suspicions were correct.

He slipped off his heavy overcoat, and bundled it into a ball, stuffing it behind one of the lockers. Then he grabbed a set of overalls from the rack, and started to pull them on. There was a row of hooks on the adjoining wall, from which hung several pairs of protective goggles the finishing touch for his disguise. The Doctor grabbed a pair, and then opened the door that led to the connecting walkway.

He walked along the short metal-walled passage, and came to another door at the far end. To open it, he had to turn a large lever-like handle, and could hear the clunk of huge bolts drawing back. The door itself was about six inches thick, and made of solid metal. That only added fuel to his suspicions. Stepping through, he looked around at his new surroundings. He was in some sort of basement level a corridor seemed to extend in a large square right round the building, while thin partition walls separated off various offices, laboratories and workshops. The ceiling above was a metal grille, and he could see men moving around above him, all dressed in the same white overalls as he was wearing. With his goggles in place, he ought to be able to pass among them unnoticed.

A metal staircase led upwards but the Doctor paused at the foot, and wondered whether it would be worth having a snoop around down here first. It couldn't hurt, he decided. He needed as many clues as he could get.

He moved along the corridor, glancing through the windows in the partition walls. The first few rooms he came to were offices. There might perhaps be useful papers inside, but he didn't have time to go rifling through filing cabinets. Turning the corner, he came to a larger room clearly some sort of workshop. In the centre of the floor was a metal cylinder that gently tapered to a point a shape he recognized as the nose cone of a V-2 rocket, with a few modifications. So, it seemed they were working on new warheads here.

His eye was caught by a collection of mechanical components on a work bench against the far wall. Two halves of a metal cylinder lay open they were about the right size to fit inside the rocket warhead. The mechanism within the cylinder looked very much like an explosive lens assembly, for shaping and directing the shockwave of an explosion. He could see where the explosives would be fitted around the cylinder's outer edge. If the lens did what he thought, the force of the detonation would all be directed inwards to the centre of the warhead an implosion, with little destructive power. There was only one reason a bomb would be required to do that. The Doctor's suspicions were confirmed, and he realized that there was no time to waste.

----

With a push in the small of the back, Abby was shoved through the doorway. She found herself standing in a small, brick-walled room. The only window had thick steel bars across it. Against one wall was a plain wooden desk, behind which sat a German soldier.

He was the most grotesque man Abby had ever seen. His head was enormous, far too big for his body, and completely bald. The left side of his face was covered in scar tissue. He looked up at her with a leering, broken-toothed smile. "What's this?" he purred.

Behind her, the soldiers of Abby's escort laughed. "We've brought you a new little friend, Gunther," one of them called. "Take good care of her."

Gunther got to his feet, and picked up a big bunch of keys from his desk. "Hello there, pretty one," he said. He reached out, and grabbed her roughly by the arm. Abby could not help but shudder at his touch.

"Hey," said the soldier at the door, "I think she likes you, Gunther!" His comrades started to laugh raucously. Gunther joined in with a croaking chuckle, but it was obvious from the expression on his face that he didn't understand the joke. He started to lead Abby towards a heavy metal door in the far wall.

"Be gentle, Gunther," shouted one of the escort. "She belongs to the Gestapo. They want her back in one piece."

Gunther swung open the door to reveal a long, narrow corridor lined with metal doors. He led Abby to an open door, and gently pushed her through into a cramped, damp cell. There was no furniture and no windows, save a tiny square of bars set in the door. The door slammed shut behind her. Abby turned round to see Gunther's scarred face grinning inanely at her through the little spyhole. "Rest well, my pretty," he said. "Gunther will look after you."

----

Settling his goggles in place, the Doctor climbed up the metal staircase to the next level. With a quick glance round, he took in his surroundings the grille that formed the floor, the banks of monitoring instruments around the walls, and especially the fifty foot square concrete structure that occupied the centre of the building. There could be no doubt of what it was a nuclear reactor. The question was whether it was operational yet.

The Doctor advanced towards the central structure with a calm, measured tread almost a studied nonchalance as if he had every right to be there, and knew exactly where he was going. The technicians and scientists moved about their business, all wearing the white overalls and goggles and they paid him no heed.

One face of the reactor contained dozens of circular sockets the charge face where uranium fuel rods would be inserted. Some sockets had long metal plungers sticking out, which were clearly the control rods used to regulate the reaction. Most of the sockets were empty the Doctor found he could look right inside, but there was no sign of a fission reaction occurring. In any case, so many empty sockets clearly meant the reactor hadn't been fuelled yet. A wave of relief washed over him there was still time to destroy it.

As he proceeded to walk around the reactor, the Doctor became aware of a commotion breaking out on the other side of the chamber. A door had opened, and a number of German soldiers entered, rifles held at the ready. Many of the scientists stopped work, and backed away in alarm. Two scientists, who had been sitting before a large control panel, stood up to face the soldiers. One was tall and blond; the other short, black-haired and bespectacled seemed to be in charge.

The Doctor recognized him at once. It was Professor Blakeney. And though their encounter in London was more than half a century in the future, the little scientist looked hardly a day younger. The Doctor sensed the hand of Kralin at work. Manipulating Blakeney's local time field to create unnatural longevity would not be much of a challenge for a luminant being.

He watched as Blakeney marched up to the lead soldier, showing anger and defiance rather than fear, and demanded, "What is the meaning of this intrusion?"

The soldier did not answer. Instead, he stepped aside and allowed two officers to enter. One was a Lieutenant, tall and lean, dressed in the sinister black of the Gestapo. The other was a Colonel in the Wehrmacht, thick-set and grey-haired. He returned Blakeney's glare stoically. "Is there a problem, Professor?" he asked.

"What are these soldiers doing here?" asked Blakeney angrily.

"They are for your protection," replied the Colonel.

"But I have specifically instructed that no soldiers will enter the research block. They will be in the way, and they will distract us from our work. Surely I don't need to remind you how vital this project is to the Fatherland."

The Colonel sighed. "No, you do not," he said. "And it is for precisely that reason that I have ordered base security to be increased. And that includes having guards here in the research block. I believe there may be spies and saboteurs in the vicinity. Surely, at this crucial stage, you wouldn't want any setbacks?"

"Saboteurs?" scoffed Blakeney. "What evidence do you have of that?"

It was the Gestapo officer who answered: "We have recently apprehended a woman near the base. Her presence here is suspicious, and she can give no account of her movements."

"Then I suggest you interrogate her," said Blakeney.

"Yes, that had occurred to me," the Lieutenant replied acidly.

The Colonel held up a hand for peace. "Professor Manstein..." he began gently.

Hearing that name, the Doctor blinked in surprise and his mind started racing. So Blakeney was really Manstein the founder of the original Kralin society! Perhaps he had always been Kralin's servant...

"There is nothing to be gained from arguing," the Colonel continued. "I have made my decision while there remains even the slightest risk of a threat to this project, we shall maintain maximum security. Vigilance shall be our watchword from now on." He nodded to the Lieutenant to carry on, and turned to leave.

Ignoring the hateful looks of Manstein/Blakeney, the Gestapo officer began directing the troops to take up positions all around the chamber. The Doctor sensed the nervous reaction of the scientists as the soldiers moved among them the fear inspired by the mechanisms of a totalitarian state. Despite the Colonel's assurances, could they really be sure the troops were there to protect them? Might they not be to intimidate them into working harder maybe even to execute them if the project fell behind schedule?

Suddenly, the Doctor was aware that one of the soldiers was moving towards him and realized that he stuck out like a sore thumb, standing there with nothing to do. He moved to the nearest control panel, and picked up a clipboard that was lying there and started to read the instrument dials before him. It was only then that he realized the panel was dead but when the soldier took up his post just a few feet away, he had no choice but to make meaningless marks on his clipboard and hope the man had no scientific understanding.

As he did this, the Doctor glanced surreptitiously round the chamber, trying to judge how best to make his exit without drawing unwanted attention to himself. He noted that Manstein had gone back to his work, studiously ignoring the guards and their officer. However his colleague, the tall blond-haired scientist, was still looking worriedly around the chamber, as if checking on the actions of the soldiers. For an instant, the Doctor made eye contact with the man he saw the scientist's eyes narrow, and knew then that he had been spotted.

The blond man started to walk towards him, his pace calm and unhurried. With the soldier standing just behind him, the Doctor realized he would have no hope of escaping. The scientist would challenge him, revealing him as an imposter, and he would be arrested unless they decided to simply shoot him on the spot. The Doctor held his breath, and met the blond man's gaze steadily.

Yet when he spoke, it was in quiet conversational tones. "Doctor, I've been having some trouble with the energy output monitors. Perhaps you'd give me your opinion?" He gestured towards the far side of the chamber, where another metal staircase led down to the basement level.

The Doctor nodded, not quite certain what was going on and followed him down into the basement. Once out of sight of the soldiers, the scientist reached out and took the Doctor's clipboard. He wrote something quickly, and handed it back. The Doctor read the scribbled message: Don't say anything. There are bugs everywhere. He nodded to signify his understanding.

They walked in silence along the basement corridor, and through one of the heavy outer doors. Once they were outside, the Doctor removed his goggles, and squinted in the sunlight. The scientist looked at him curiously for a moment, and said, "I have a gun in my pocket just in case."

"In case of what?" asked the Doctor innocently.

"In case I'm wrong about you. I have to protect my position here. If I think for one moment you're going to give me away, I won't hesitate to shoot you. You're an intruder here no one would blame me."

The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "I'm glad we understand each other," he murmured. Then he smiled. "Well, you got me away from those guards, for which I'll be eternally grateful. I'm the Doctor, by the way."

"August Schroder. I'm the assistant scientific director of this project."

"And?" the Doctor prompted.

"And I also work for British intelligence." He regarded the Doctor intently. "What about you?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Surely you don't expect me to have any identification papers?"

"But you are the saboteur they're looking for?"

"Perhaps."

"And the girl they arrested?"

"A friend of mine," said the Doctor. "I have to try and rescue her."

Schroder shook his head sadly. "That's not going to be possible."

"Nevertheless, I have to try."

The door behind them opened, and a couple of scientists emerged. Schroder took a cigarette case from his overall pocket, and offered one to the Doctor. Receiving a shake of the head, he took a cigarette for himself and lit it. When the two scientists had passed them, he took a long draw and asked nervously: "You're a scientific intelligence officer, I suppose? You've come here in response to my signals? To assess the threat?"

The Doctor glanced up at the central research block behind them the familiarity of its shape had rung alarm bells from the beginning. It had been no surprise to find what was inside. "Manstein's built a nuclear reactor in there."

"An atomic pile," Schroder corrected.

The Doctor smiled at the semantic confusion caused by his use of anachronistic terminology. "Whatever you want to call it, it's technology that Germany shouldn't have." This had to be the source of the temporal distortion the Germans achieving controlled nuclear fission now would irrevocably change the course of history. All they were supposed to have was a partly-completed experimental pile near Stuttgart.

"The British and the Americans are working on their own atomic projects," said Schroder defensively.

"Yes," the Doctor agreed. "The Americans' first pile went critical nearly two years ago."

He noted Schroder's look of surprise obviously his friends in British intelligence had been slow to inform him of all the latest developments. The Doctor paused for a few moments, considering his words. "But Manstein's reactor is fantastically advanced at least ten years ahead of its time." It was true. The structure inside the research block was effectively a fast breeder reactor self-sustaining and self- fuelling, and capable of producing large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium in just a few months.

"You know what its purpose is," he murmured.

"To produce cheap electrical power," replied Schroder evasively. He looked up to face the Doctor's accusatory stare, and sighed heavily. "It's to produce fissionable materials for use in atomic weapons. But again, the Americans and the British are developing such weapons. If they've had a pile running for two years, then they must be close to completion."

"No," said the Doctor. "They're still several months away. And even if they do succeed, it's far from certain that they'd use such weapons. The war will be over within a year."

Schroder stared at the ground. He threw down his cigarette, and crushed it beneath his heel. "But if Manstein succeeds in building an atomic bomb," he said slowly, "you believe we will use it?"

"I don't think Hitler has anything to lose," the Doctor remarked. "But it's not a question of if. I've seen Manstein's implosion assembly and it will work. All it needs is the plutonium. How soon before the pile goes critical?"

Schroder's cheek twitched. "The uranium is coming from the Joachimsthal mines in Czechoslovakia. It's due to arrive in the next week. And then probably a month to fuel the pile and start the reaction."

The Doctor did some quick mental calculations. "You should have sixty pounds of plutonium by mid-December. That'd be enough for three warheads." He nodded towards the transporters parked across the compound. "Such as might be fitted to those V-2 rockets? Fire those at London it'll be like dropping sixty thousand tons of bombs in a single night. And then, what do you think will be the consequences?"

"Do you think the British will surrender?" asked Schroder.

"Not a chance."

"Then the war will continue."

The Doctor nodded grimly. "When Hitler sees the atomic bombs work, he'll have more piles built. He'll be churning out warhead after warhead, and firing them at Britain and France. Maybe into Russia as well. And the Americans will intensify their atomic programme. Before you know it, atomic bombs will be dropped on Berlin and Hamburg, Dresden and Cologne. That's not what you want."

Schroder's lip quivered. "How do you know what I want?"

"I know what kind of man you are," replied the Doctor gently. "If you didn't have a moral objection to this sort of weapon, you wouldn't have started working for British intelligence. Am I right?"

----

As he continued to work calibrating the output controls, Manstein gritted his teeth and studiously ignored the soldiers cluttering up his lab. If only he could pretend they weren't there! He had banned armed guards from the research block so he could convince himself that this was not a military project that it was the scientists who were providing the salvation of the Reich, even if their ultimate aim was to provide the High Command with bigger and more destructive weapons.

A telephone mounted beside the door started to ring. One of the guards stepped over to it, and lifted the receiver. He conducted a short, monosyllabic conversation before replacing the handset and marching over to Manstein. "Professor?"

Manstein decided to take his time answering, suddenly finding it more important to jot figures down in his notebook. "Professor," the soldier insisted.

Finally, Manstein turned to face him. "What is it?"

"That was the main gate, Professor," said the soldier. "They have just admitted your visitor Dr. Kralin. Lieutenant Rudiger is escorting him to the central compound now."

Manstein jumped to his feet. "Why didn't you tell me this at once?" he snapped angrily. "Tell Rudiger to bring him to my office immediately." He glanced round the laboratory, calling for Schroder and was most annoyed to discover his assistant missing. He caught the attention of the nearest technician and demanded, "Did you see what happened to Dr. Schroder?"

"I think he went to one of the other labs, Professor," replied the technician, shrugging.

Manstein drew a long, aggressive breath. "Well, when he returns, ask him to continue with the calibration of these instruments."

"Yes, Professor."

"And perhaps he might be so kind as to call in to my office when he has a moment."

Scrupulously ignoring his sarcastic tone, the technician simply nodded. "I shall tell him, Professor."

Without another word, Manstein went to the door, and walked out, not even bothering to acknowledge the guard.

----

They walked across the compound towards the civilian barracks. Schroder cast the occasional nervous glance around, as if afraid they might be overheard. And yet at the same time, he seemed grateful to finally have someone with whom he could share his secret.

"Before the war, I did some post-graduate research work in Copenhagen, where I met Niels Bohr. We discussed the possibility of fission reactions being used to create a weapon. He didn't feel that it would be possible for ten or twenty years but he was horrified by the very prospect, as was I. At the time, Bohr was in contact with a number of British scientists, some of whom were attached to their intelligence services they were worried by the prospect of Germany developing an atomic bomb."

He drew a deep breath. "Well, it seemed to me with my background in theoretical physics that I would be drafted in to any German atomic research project. I had to fight a battle between my patriotism and my humanity. I did not want to betray the Fatherland but I did not want to see such weapons developed. Especially not to place them in the hands of Hitler. I am a German, Doctor, but I am no Nazi. So I told the British that I would feed them information about our atomic research."

They reached the far side of the compound, and drew into a small alley between two of the whitewashed buildings. "I try to tell myself I am doing the right thing, but still I have doubts. It's not as if my actions will prevent the British and the Americans working on their own atomic bomb. These terrible weapons will still be developed, no matter what I do." He looked up into the sky, as if seeking the assurance and absolution of a higher power. "But you're right, Doctor," he said eventually. "If Germany fails to produce an atomic bomb, then the Allies will have no need to use theirs. And when the war is over, when such weapons are no longer needed, they can be dismantled."

The Doctor thought it politic not to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki nor the fifty years of cold war and nuclear proliferation that the world could look forward to. He was here solely to ensure that history stayed on its proper course, good or bad and he needed to win Schroder over to his side to achieve that.

"At first," Schroder went on, "I thought there was nothing to worry about. I was assigned to a research project at Hechingen, which was headed by Dr. Heisenberg. He himself was convinced that the atomic bomb would be impossible to produce, and was mainly concerned with developing fission reactions as a source of electrical power. The work progressed very slowly, and I began to realize that nothing substantial would be achieved for many years. I confined my intelligence work to subtle acts of sabotage misfiling important documents, making errors transcribing experimental data, that sort of thing. Then, two years ago, I was transferred here to assist Professor Manstein and I was shocked by the progress he had made. Everything was still on the drawing board, but it was clear how much further ahead theoretically he was compared to Heisenberg. The last two years have been spent building the pile, while Manstein worked on his bomb assembly."

"Very successfully," the Doctor murmured.

Schroder nodded. "It was obvious that Manstein's research would bear fruit sooner rather than later. That's why I started passing messages to the British of course I had to be careful to protect my position here, so everything went through a vast network of spies. I never expected to receive an answer, but sometimes I wondered whether the reports were getting through. The British never seemed to do anything in response. But now you're here..."

He was interrupted by the sound of a vehicle driving into the compound. The Doctor held up a hand for silence, and peered round the corner of the building. Schroder moved to look out over his shoulder. They watched as Colonel Buchner's staff car drove up to the steps of the research block. Lieutenant Rudiger was seated beside the driver, and in the back sat a tall and imposing dark-haired man, wearing a black overcoat and homburg hat. The Doctor recognized him at once. "Kralin," he breathed. "I was wondering when he would turn up."

"Do you know him?" asked Schroder.

"Why, do you?"

"Not personally. Professor Manstein has mentioned him. They were colleagues at Heidelberg. I understand that Dr. Kralin produced much of the theoretical data on atomic fission, which Manstein drew upon in developing this project."

They watched as Rudiger got out of the car, and held open the door for Kralin. Then the two men ascended the steps and entered the research block. All this, the Doctor realized, was Kralin's fault. He must have given Manstein the design for his nuclear reactor and his bomb assembly.

He turned back to Schroder. "Where has the research been conducted?" he asked. "Are there any plans, designs, prototypes anywhere in the complex apart from in the main research block?"

Schroder shook his head. "Only in the workshops and laboratories adjoining the atomic pile. Manstein has his office there and the archive section."

"Well, that should simplify matters," the Doctor remarked.

"What do you mean?"

The Doctor looked him straight in the eye. "We have to completely destroy the research block," he said calmly.

"What, now?" Schroder asked, alarmed.

"Yes," replied the Doctor. "We have to act now, before the uranium fuel arrives after that, there'd be too great a risk of spreading radioactive contamination over the surrounding area."

Schroder looked down at the ground, fumbling in his pocket for his cigarette case. He struck a match with unsteady hands, before finally getting a cigarette lit. He supposed he had always known deep down that it might come to this. How else had he expected the British to react to his reports? Nervously exhaling a cloud of smoke, he asked: "What's it to be then? Have you got a commando force waiting to move in? Or will you just call for a bombing raid?"

"No," the Doctor said. "There's just me and my friend."

Schroder seemed to crumple, and drew desperately on his cigarette. "So what can you do?" he demanded.

"That's very bad for your health, you know," the Doctor commented quietly, gesturing at the cigarette. Then immediately his manner changed, and he became decisive and business-like. "First of all, we must free Abigail. I take it you know where she's imprisoned."

"The cell block, I expect," Schroder replied.

"You'll have to take me there," said the Doctor. "After that..." He glanced quickly round the compound, seeking inspiration. And suddenly the answer was obvious. "Perfect," he muttered. "What I really need is a diversion, to keep everyone occupied while I destroy the research block." He peered beyond the edge of the compound, across the scrubland to the large array of chemical tanks.

"What's in those storage tanks?" he asked brightly.

"Fuel for V-2 rockets," said Schroder. "The base was originally designed as a rocket launch facility. Once we've completed our prototype design here, it will revert to that function - though the warheads will be more destructive."

"A mixture of alcohol and liquid oxygen?"

Schroder nodded.

"Splendid," said the Doctor. "Do you think you could find some explosives?"

----

Manstein looked across his desk in awe. Opposite him sat Kralin, his lord and master.

"I have done as you requested, my Lord," Manstein announced.

"I know," replied Kralin quietly. "I saw the atomic pile as I was shown in. You have done well, Manstein."

"I only worked from your designs, my Lord," said Manstein. "You are the inspiration that guides us."

Kralin gave a grim smile. "When I chose you as my servant, it was with great deliberation. I could see that you were the man with the potential to bring my message to the world."

"I have tried, my Lord. I hope that my humble efforts have met with your approval."

"They have," replied Kralin. "The society you founded has served me well. You may be assured that all my followers shall be rewarded. Our day is almost at hand. The work you have done here is the crowning glory of your achievements. Soon, all power over this Earth shall be restored to me. And then shall my followers share in my majesty."

"And the power you said would be mine?" asked Manstein tentatively. Kralin glared at him in sudden anger, and he instantly regretted the question. It was not his place to demand anything of his Lord. It was his place simply to obey, and he would receive the gifts Kralin had offered him. For a moment, Manstein feared he had overstepped the mark. By demonstrating too keen a desire for power, might he not appear ungrateful? That he was serving Kralin not out of his devotion, but simply to achieve glory for himself? He could feel himself trembling beneath Kralin's withering stare.

"That which I have promised," Kralin stated coldly, "I will grant. The world shall see that my word is true."

"Forgive me, Lord," muttered Manstein pathetically.

"You are forgiven." Kralin sighed deeply. He didn't have time for this cringing remorse. He certainly didn't have time to find a new servant, so he had to ensure that Manstein remained capable. "When our work is completed, you shall rule over the peoples of this world in my name. As I have promised, so it shall be."

"Yes, Lord," Manstein replied, a little more calmly.

"First, we must resolve this conflict and bring about the German victory. Then I shall reveal myself as the saviour and deliverer of the Reich."

"We are ready to proceed," said Manstein. "The uranium will be delivered within the next few days. Will you be here to help supervise the process?"

"Of course," said Kralin. "Nothing would give me greater pleasure."

----

The spyhole slid open once more. Sat against the walls, her knees drawn up to her chin, Abby hardly dared to raise her head. She knew that the grinning, drooling face of Gunther the gaoler would be there to torment her.

She heard his voice call out: "All right, my pretty. Gunther's here to make sure you're all right. I've got to look after you." He started to laugh, more like an exhalation of hot, greasy breath.

Abby screwed her eyes tightly shut, hoping he would go away. Then she heard the murmur of distant voices, and the sound of the spyhole sliding shut. Gunther's shuffling footsteps receded along the stone passageway. She looked up, relieved to be freed from his scrutiny but a nagging fear remained in her mind. If the gaoler was being summoned, it could mean that someone had come to collect her and that meant she was due for another interrogation. She didn't think Lieutenant Rudiger would be quite so patient with her this time.

----

Standing in the shadows by the door, the Doctor watched as the gaoler emerged from the cell block into his little office. Schroder, who was waiting beside the desk, drew all of his attention. They had shed their white overalls, stuffing them into a dustbin behind one of the barracks. Their only hope of freeing Abby was to persuade the gaoler that they possessed the necessary authority to take her, and the protective garments really hadn't looked the part. In a regime as oppressive as the Third Reich, with its plethora of secret policemen, you could often get what you wanted simply by standing firm and shouting the loudest...

"What do you want?" Gunther snarled angrily.

Schroder regarded him with distaste. "We've come for the prisoner," he announced. "The girl who was arrested today."

"Pretty girl," said Gunther, with a sickening grin. "You can't have her. She belongs to the Gestapo."

"We've been assigned to question her," said Schroder, fixing Gunther with a steely gaze and hoping to bluff him into surrendering. "We have full authority to take her. You will surrender her into our custody."

Gunther looked at him for a long moment, then tried to catch a glimpse of the Doctor as he waited in shadow. He shook his head slowly, and reached for the telephone on the desk. "I'd better call the Lieutenant, yes? Make sure he knows about it."

Schroder reached out, and placed his hand firmly on Gunther's arm. "There's no need for that," he said quietly.

He knew instantly that he had gone too far. Gunther stared down at the hand on his arm with a curious expression on his face. Then he simply flexed his arm, and shook off Schroder's grip. In a sudden flurry of movement, that belied his great size and unwieldy appearance, Gunther flung the desk to one side the corner of it caught Schroder in the stomach, and knocked him flying. He crashed solidly into the wall, and slid heavily to the floor.

In an instant, Gunther was looming over him, arms raised to crack him a deadly blow. Schroder tried to raise his arms to protect his head. But the blow never came. Schroder looked up to see the Doctor clinging to Gunther's powerful arm. With an angry cry, the demented gaoler spun round, flinging the Doctor away from him. Then he turned on Schroder once more.

Fumbling desperately in his pocket, the scientist found his gun. He pulled it out, just as Gunther launched himself through the air in a flying tackle. Panicked, Schroder pulled the trigger. There was no time to worry about the niceties of aiming just so long as he stopped the giant.

Gunther came crashing down on top of him, and did not move again. Schroder realized that he had actually killed him. He shuddered at the dead weight pressing down on him, and scrabbled at the floor, trying to drag himself out from beneath.

Meanwhile the Doctor had recovered. He staggered over to Gunther's body, and gently turned it over. He reached out to close the man's eyes, and then looked up at Schroder accusingly. "There was no need to kill him."

"It was in self-defence," Schroder babbled. "He would have killed us." He turned away, unable to face the accusation in the Doctor's eyes, and tried to find justification for his actions. "Well, you saw what he was like more of an animal than a man. They say he was wounded advancing on the British positions at Dunkirk mind and body both irreparably damaged. Perhaps he should have gone to an asylum, but the garrison kept him here as some kind of sick joke."

The Doctor stood up, snorting dismissively. "Physically and mentally disabled, so you write him off as sub-human. That seems to be rather a Nazi attitude, Dr. Schroder."

"You surely can't believe..." Schroder blustered. Bracing himself against the wall, he pulled himself to his feet. "I don't think like that." But suddenly, he was unsure what he thought. It was true that he had regarded Gunther as a monster, a physical freak and mental aberration. Was he turning into a Nazi? Perhaps if you lived around them long enough, the mind-set started to rub off on you...

The Doctor held up the keys he had taken from Gunther's belt. "I'll go and get Abby," he said. "You'd better have a look round for some explosives."

----

The sound of a key in the lock made Abby start. She looked up as the cell door creaked slowly opened. She didn't think it would be Gunther. As leering and unpleasant as he was, the gaoler had never tried to interfere with her. No, this would be the Gestapo, come to take her back into their vile clutches.

So it was a great and wonderful surprise to find the Doctor standing in the doorway. "Hello, Abby," he said quietly. "Are you all right? I'm sorry you've been kept waiting."

Instantly, Abby was on her feet. She ran towards the Doctor, and hugged him desperately. "I've never been so glad to see anyone," she cried breathlessly.

"Oh good," the Doctor murmured. He patted her reassuringly on the shoulder, and gently disentangled himself from her embrace. "Come on, we've a lot to do." He led her from the cell, and back along the stone passage to the wrecked office.

He tried to guide her past the sight of Gunther's dead body, but there was no avoiding it. As her eyes fell upon the corpse, Abby was unable to suppress a shudder. Her memories of the way the grotesque gaoler had tormented her mixed with her horror at the sight of death she turned her eyes away.

The Doctor looked up at Schroder, who was standing by the door. "How did you get on?" he asked.

The scientist held up two stick-grenades. "That's all I could find."

"Should be enough," said the Doctor.

"But you'll never be able to blow up the research block with these," Schroder protested.

"I don't intend to. I just need you to create a diversion."

"What have you got in mind?"

The Doctor went to the window, and looked out over the compound. There was not a very clear view from this angle. "Those fuel storage tanks," he said, waving in their general direction. "Open a few valves, start a few leaks, then set those off. There'll be a couple of loud bangs, maybe a small fire. That's all we need. I take it the base has a fire drill?"

Schroder nodded. "All the buildings get evacuated. Everyone assembles in the compound. Some of the garrison are trained in fire-fighting."

The Doctor seemed satisfied with this. "The research block will be empty when I blow it up," he murmured. "That's good."

"I still don't understand what you intend to do," said Schroder.

"Well, no time to explain," replied the Doctor airily. He looked back at the dead gaoler. "That body will be discovered sooner or later. We don't have long." He deftly grabbed hold of Schroder's wrist, and turned it so he could read the face of his watch. "Give me twenty minutes, then start the diversion. Understood?"

Without giving the scientist time to answer, the Doctor pulled open the door and looked out across the compound. There was no one in sight. He turned back to his companion. "All right, Abby, let's go."

They stepped out through the door, and the Doctor looked round at Schroder one more time. "Remember, twenty minutes," he said. Then the door swung shut behind them.

Schroder found himself staring at the back of the door for several long seconds. Then he looked down at the two grenades grasped in his hand. What on earth had he got himself into?

----

As they made their way furtively around the edge of the compound, the Doctor filled Abby in on what was happening here. She shook her head in confusion she really couldn't see what Kralin was trying to do here.

"If Germany gets the atom bomb," she asked uncertainly, "does that mean they'll win the war?"

The Doctor sighed. "Maybe maybe not. Who knows? The point is it's not supposed to happen. History is such a fragile thing. The moment a single event changes, the future as we know it unravels. There's no way to predict what might happen."

"But we've seen the future," said Abby. "We know what's going to happen."

The Doctor nodded grimly. "That's why when we travel in time, we have an absolute responsibility not to interfere with history. Any decision, every action, has a consequence that shapes the future."

"So the other future we saw when the Earth was dead... That's because Kralin gave the Germans nuclear weapons?"

"It's futile to speculate," said the Doctor. "The Germans would almost certainly use the atom bomb against Britain. Maybe against the allied positions in Europe. The Americans might retaliate or they might withdraw from the war completely, leave the British on their own. And then you've got to appreciate the technological developments that are just around the corner. The Germans have almost perfected the first jet fighter. They've already got their V-2s soon they'll have a rocket capable of reaching America."

He suddenly grabbed Abby's hand, and pulled her into a recessed doorway. He put his finger to his lips. Straining her ears, Abby could just make out the sound of marching feet. They pressed back into the furthest shadows of the doorway, which provided pitifully scant cover. After half a minute or so, a small squad of six soldiers came marching past. They didn't stop. Once they had passed by, the tramp of their footsteps receding into the distance, Abby breathed a long sigh of relief.

"We don't know how the future might develop from here," the Doctor said quietly. "Just that it will end in an earth-shattering nuclear conflagration. And that's what we have to stop."

From their new vantage point, he looked out over the compound. They could just make out the square shape of the main research block. Closer to hand were the three V-2 rockets on their mobile launchers.

"Wait here," the Doctor whispered, "and keep watch. I shouldn't be too long." With that, he slipped out from the doorway and ran towards the nearest of the rockets. Abby watched as he climbed up onto the back of the trailer, and slid himself into a gap in the framework between the support struts and the underside of the giant missile.

----

Standing in the window of the civilian refectory, Schroder scanned the compound for any sign of trouble. He had a good view of the entrance to the cell block from here, and he just knew that any minute someone would walk in there and find Gunther's body. Nervously, he fingered the two grenades in his jacket pocket, and wondered whether he could go through with it, even for the sake of his principles. His previous acts of espionage had been one thing but now he was being asked to undertake a deliberate, demonstrative act of resistance and treason. It was a huge step to take... Then again, he'd killed a man today he had already set out on the road to damnation.

He glanced at his watch. There were still ten minutes to go until the Doctor's deadline. Schroder glanced nervously round the canteen. A couple of his colleagues were sitting at a corner table, drinking ersatz coffee and discussing some minor technical problem. Schroder realized then that he was only being asked to protect his fellow scientists. The Doctor would blow up the research block no matter what happened he was sure of that he simply had to create a diversion to get everyone out of harm's way. If he rationalized it like that, he would be able to do it.

Through the window, he saw a small patrol of soldiers arrive at the door of the cell block. They opened it, and went inside. That was it, his time was up. Schroder drew a deep breath, to steel himself for the task, and slipped quietly from the refectory.

----

An urgent and garbled telephone call had brought Lieutenant Rudiger hurrying to the cell block. He walked past the soldiers who were standing guard outside, ignoring their salutes as he strode through the open door. The Corporal in charge of the patrol was waiting inside.

"Well?" Rudiger snapped. "What was so important that you..." He trailed off as his eyes fell upon the dead body of the gaoler. Rudiger had loathed Gunther with every fibre of his being as far as he was concerned, a feeble mental cripple like that was an insult to the purity of the Aryan race. He should have been put to death long ago. But the man was a war hero and Colonel Buchner felt responsible for his condition, since Gunther had been under his command when he was wounded.

Seeing him dead, Rudiger felt no remorse, no sorrow he simply weighed up the security implications of the situation. "The prisoner?" he demanded. "The girl?"

"She has gone, Lieutenant," replied the Corporal.

To Rudiger, it seemed as if a white mist was forming in his head, blanking out his vision. All he knew was the sensation of overwhelming rage. "Turn out the entire barracks," he shouted. "Sound the general alarm. I want the whole base searched from top to bottom."

----

From her vantage point, Abby had seen the Doctor emerge from beneath the V-2 rocket, his clothes covered in dust and oil. After a brief look round, he had dropped from the trailer, and padded swiftly along to the second rocket. There, he clambered aboard, and wriggled his way into the space beneath the launch cradle.

The sound of running feet heralded the arrival of more soldiers. Abby pressed herself as far back into the doorway as she could. But the soldiers ran past without pausing. Then a klaxon started to blare out over the compound, and Abby knew that her escape had been discovered. She glanced anxiously over at the V-2s, but she couldn't see the Doctor, hidden beneath the bulk of the missile. Silently, she urged him to hurry up and complete his task.

----

Kralin looked up from the technical schematic he was sketching out. He glanced up at Manstein, who didn't even seem to have heard the klaxon all his attention was focused on the sheet of paper, where Kralin was outlining a process for refining plutonium.

Angrily, Kralin threw his pencil down on the desk and screwed the paper up into a ball. The spell was broken. Manstein looked at him fearfully for a moment, then slowly registered the raucous wailing of the alarm.

"What's that?" Kralin asked.

"The general alarm," Manstein replied.

"What does it mean?"

"I don't know, Lord. It could mean the base is under attack."

"Then you'd better find out," snapped Kralin, "hadn't you?"

Manstein stood up, and reached for the telephone. He rattled the rest up and down, trying to get a connection to the switchboard operator.

Suddenly, the door to the office burst open. Kralin turned to find Colonel Buchner framed in the doorway, pistol in hand, and slightly out of breath. Without preamble, he announced, "Gentlemen, I am now convinced there are spies or saboteurs on the base."

"What is this?" Kralin demanded.

Ignoring his master for once, Manstein turned to the Colonel. "What makes you so sure?"

"The girl we arrested," said Buchner. "She has been released. The gaoler was killed in the incident. We don't yet know how many of them there are, nor what their objective is."

"Well, I think that is obvious," Manstein snapped. "They are here to destroy the project which we must prevent at all costs. So, Colonel what do you intend to do about this?"

"The base is being searched," replied Buchner. "In the meantime, I would like you to accompany me back to the main laboratory, to complete a full roll call of all your scientists and technicians. I want to be completely sure that no imposters have slipped in amongst them."

"Yes, very well," said Manstein wearily. He turned to his master, slipping into a less reverent manner for the Colonel's benefit. "Dr. Kralin, will you come with us?"

"Of course," said Kralin quietly. As he followed Buchner and Manstein from the office, and up the stairs into the central chamber of the research block, he thought over what he had heard and wondered whether the intruder on the base could be the Doctor. Really, there was no one else it could be...

They reached the main laboratory, where the scientists were standing huddled in a group, watched over by several soldiers. Manstein marched up to them, fending off a barrage of questions. "All right, all right," he shouted. "I'm sure we can get this sorted out soon, so we can get back to work. Now, where's Dr. Schroder?"

There was no response. Manstein glared impatiently at the assembled scientists. "Well, where is he?"

One of the technicians finally spoke up. "He's not here, sir. He hasn't been here for most of the afternoon."

"Well, where on earth can he have got to?" Suddenly, a terrible thought occurred. Manstein turned urgently to Colonel Buchner, and saw that he was thinking the very same thing. "You surely don't think...?"

"A man on the inside?" replied Buchner. "It might explain the ease with which our security has been penetrated. And you know, I never did trust that assistant of yours. There was something furtive about him." He turned to one of the guards, raising his voice to be heard above the klaxon. "Tell Lieutenant Rudiger that Dr. Schroder is to be detained on sight."

"Yes, sir."

"And for God's sake, will someone turn that damned klaxon off? I think we've all got the message by now."

"Yes, sir," repeated the soldier. He gave a hasty salute, and ran from the laboratory, seemingly glad to get away from the Colonel's angry gaze.

----

Schroder was half way across the compound when the general alarm sounded. He darted quickly into the shadow of one of the buildings, which was a provisions store. Looking out across the compound, he could see the troops emerging from their barracks. They quickly lined up in good order, to receive their instructions. Schroder wondered if they would be told to look out for him. He hoped not he was a senior figure here, and there was surely no reason to connect him with the intruders.

He continued walking, quickly but casually, and slipped quietly past the storeroom. He kept one eye on the guards, watching as they dispersed into smaller patrols and started to search the base. As yet, no one seemed to be paying him any attention.

He reached the end of the last building. A short stretch of open scrubland lay between him and the fuel dump. After another glance to check there were no guards near, he stepped from the concrete and hurried towards the jumble of tanks and pipes and valves. If anyone saw him now, he would be noticed since he had no right or reason to be anywhere near this part of the base.

He was just a few yards away when a voice rang out behind him: "Halt!"

Schroder stopped dead in his tracks. He knew better than to try and resist. Slowly, he turned round to find two young soldiers facing him, their rifles held at the ready. Little more than boys, they seemed nervous and trigger-happy. Schroder tried desperately to control his breathing, to appear a lot calmer than he actually was his only hope was to try and bluff his way out of this. Adopting a friendly tone, he asked, "What's going on, then?"

One of the soldiers gestured threateningly with his gun. "You will come with us."

Schroder gave a nervous smile. "It's all right, lads. It's me, Dr. Schroder."

"Yes, sir," the soldier replied apologetically. "But we have orders to detain you."

"Ah, I see." With a resigned shrug, Schroder started to walk towards them. How was he going to get out of this? If he didn't set the fire and give the Doctor the diversion he needed, how would that affect the Doctor's plan to destroy the atomic pile? In that moment, Schroder had to consider just how committed he was to his ideals. He replayed in his mind all the arguments for and against. The Doctor's image of atomic bombs raining down on German cities kept coming back to him and he knew that he had to stop this now.

The soldiers began to escort him back towards the central compound. Schroder surreptitiously glanced at his watch. He had just under five minutes to start the fire. He looked around desperately for some means of escape if the soldiers got him back into the compound, he would have no chance. There were almost at the building now. Then he caught sight of two large metal skips placed at the side of a building, used for the dumping of scrap metal. If he could reach them, they might at least provide some cover.

Ignoring the panic that clutched at his chest, Schroder suddenly broke away from the soldiers and ran wildly for the skips. It didn't take the soldiers long to react. He felt bullets skittering off the ground at his feet. He threw himself forward, and landed awkwardly behind the nearest skip. Schroder heard the bullets pinging off the metal, and knew he was effectively trapped here.

His hand went to the heavy shape of the pistol in his jacket pocket. Was he prepared to kill a fellow German? Another bullet ricocheted off the top of the skip, shooting just over the top of his head that made his mind up. What other choice did he have?

He gripped the gun as firmly as he could, and pushed his head up over the top of the skip. He didn't even have time to look for a target he pulled the trigger automatically. Quite by chance, the bullet struck the first soldier straight through the forehead. He fell to the ground, a look of surprise fixed on his face. Schroder watched as the second soldier reacted, taking aim with his rifle and opening fire. It seemed to happen so slowly, yet it must have taken less than a second.

Then Schroder felt a hot, burning pain in his shoulder and realized he had been shot. Everything snapped back into real time. He was flung back by the impact, crashing against the side of the building. The soldier had a clear shot at him now. Somehow, Schroder managed to keep hold of his gun, bracing himself against the wall, and returned fire. He was lucky the soldier was hit in the stomach. He staggered back, his shots missing their target and impacting the wall to the right of Schroder's head.

Then the soldier let go of his rifle, and collapsed to the ground, curling into a ball around his wound. Schroder pulled himself unsteadily to his feet. Part of him wanted to go to the soldier, but he knew it was impossible. The exchange of gunfire had surely been heard more guards would be arriving to investigate. He put his hand to his shoulder, and brought it away covered in blood. A dark stain was spreading rapidly across his jacket he didn't know how much longer he could last. He turned, and staggered over the scrubland towards the fuel dump.

----

The Doctor was completing his work beneath the third V-2 when the sound of gunshots reached his ears. Quickly, he turned the last couple of valves and slammed the inspection plate shut. Then he squeezed himself back through the girderwork of the launch cradle, and dropped from the edge of the trailer.

He could see soldiers moving in the compound. The Doctor slid beneath the trailer, crawling between the wheels and out the other side. Then, keeping the trailer between himself and the guards, he moved forward in a crouching run, trying to get back to the doorway where he had left Abby.

He peered round the corner of the trailer, and saw that he had a clear run to the corner of the nearest building. He took a deep breath, and started to run, all the time expecting bullets to start flying. But he reached the building safely, pressing himself into a small alcove and trying to catch his breath. He just had to get round this next corner, and he would be reunited with Abby. Then all they'd have to do was hide, and wait for Schroder's diversion. They would be able to make their escape in the confusion of the fire.

Cautiously, he poked his head out of the alcove. There was no one in sight. He slipped out, and padded lightly round the corner and was brought up short by the sight of Abby kneeling on the ground. Lieutenant Rudiger was standing behind her, his pistol jammed into the back of her head. "That's far enough," he snapped.

There was a flurry of movement behind him. The Doctor turned his head to find twenty or more soldiers covering him with their rifles.

Rudiger pulled Abby roughly to her feet, and shoved her towards the Doctor. "So we have caught our spies," he snarled, circling them with an expression of pure spite. "We will soon get the truth out of you. Take them away!"

The Doctor steadied Abby on her feet, and smiled reassuringly at her. And in that moment her heart soared, filled with hope, and she felt as if everything was going to be all right. Then she was prodded in the back with a rifle, and sent stumbling forward. Escorted by the soldiers, they started to march back towards the central research block. As they passed the V-2 rockets on their mobile launchers, Abby noticed wisps of steam or smoke rising from vents near the tail fins.

Another group of soldiers came running up to Rudiger, led by a tall, dark-haired sergeant. "What is it?" demanded Rudiger, halting the procession with a flick of his hand. "Have you found Schroder yet?"

"No, Lieutenant," the sergeant replied. "We are still searching. Two men have been found dead at the edge of the compound." He pointed towards the patch of scrub, where a stretcher party was taking away the two bodies. Beyond was just open land, leading finally to a perimeter of trees.

Scanning the area, Rudiger's eyes fell upon the concatenation of pipes and tanks that stood at the centre. It made a good hiding place if not the ideal target for a saboteur. "Search the fuel dump," he ordered.

----

His vision swam alarmingly before him. Schroder staggered, and clung desperately to the tangle of pipes. He felt light-headed, and some vague remnant of scientific understanding told him that was because he had lost a lot of blood. He didn't know how much, but noticed that his jacket was completely soaked through with it.

With a great effort, he managed to focus his mind, recalling the task he had come here to perform. He felt his way along the pipes until his hand closed over the knobbly wheel of a valve control. Slowly, he began to turn it. With a hissing sound, a gas started to emerge from the valve, dispersing into the air before him. Liquid oxygen, he realized, reverting to a gaseous state as its pressure dropped.

Schroder lumbered unsteadily to another valve, and quickly turned it open. Alcohol began to spray out, covering him. He fell back heavily onto the ground, and scrabbled to drag himself clear of the shower of deadly liquid.

He lay panting for breath, feeling a pool of alcohol slowly spreading around him. He fumbled in his pockets, and pulled out the two stick-grenades. He twisted the caps from the handles, and felt the ends of the striker cords with his fingers. He knew he would never get far enough away to use them safely. His vision was starting to dim.

Vaguely, he made out a shape looming up between the pipes ahead of him, and realized it was a soldier. He could see the man raising his rifle to take aim, and knew it was all over. He twined the striker cords round his fingers, and pulled.

----

The huge roar of an explosion tore across the compound, as the fuel dump erupted into a fireball. At the steps of the research block, Lieutenant Rudiger looked round in horror. For a moment he froze, suddenly unsure of what to do. Then an alarm bell started to ring out, and immediately he was galvanized into action, remembering the emergency procedure. He turned to the sergeant beside him. "Assemble the fire-fighting detail! Immediately!"

"Yes, sir!" The sergeant hurried to obey.

Rudiger turned to regard his two prisoners. The girl was looking at him fearfully but the Doctor was standing with his head bowed and eyes closed, as if momentarily overcome by a great sense of grief.

There was a sudden commotion on the steps, and Rudiger felt himself jostled as a stream of men began to issue from the research block. It was the civilian personnel, evacuating the building as the emergency orders demanded.

----

Abby watched as men poured from the huge square building, swarming past Lieutenant Rudiger and completely engulfing their escort patrol. She glanced sidelong at the Doctor, who still stood in his attitude of mourning, and realized that he was lamenting the death of Dr. Schroder.

But almost instantly, he seemed to recover. Taking advantage of the chance that Schroder's sacrifice had bought them, he grabbed her by the hand, and started to drag her through the oncoming tide of panicking men. The guards could do nothing to stop them surrounded and swept aside by the scientists, they couldn't even open fire.

Somehow, they made it through the crowd. The Doctor led Abby to the grey shape of an open-topped staff car parked beside the steps. He bundled her quickly into the passenger seat, and slipped behind the wheel, desperately looking for the starter.

----

Rudiger turned as Colonel Buchner ran out onto the steps, with Manstein and Kralin right behind him. They came staggering to a halt, looking across at the raging fire.

"My God!" Manstein cried. "You must do something! The pile mustn't be damaged or all our work here will be for nothing."

Rudiger looked out across the compound, and saw his men arriving with the fire- fighting equipment, which was mounted on the back of a truck. Their progress had been hampered by the evacuation of the scientists but now some sense of order was being restored to the compound. The scientists were starting to assemble at their fire points in a more orderly fashion. The fire tender drove past the three V-2 launchers, and out across the scrubland towards the blaze.

Then Rudiger realized that the escort patrol had been scattered during the panic, and his prisoners were nowhere to be seen. His attention was drawn by the sound of an engine starting up. He looked down at the Colonel's staff car, and was astonished to see the Doctor behind the steering wheel. He threw the car into reverse, and with a cheeky wave at Rudiger, sent the vehicle hurtling backwards into the centre of the compound. Soldiers and scientists alike were forced to scatter out of its way.

Drawing his pistol, Rudiger started to fire at the car. But the Doctor had already changed into a forward gear, and was advancing to the concrete road that led to the main gate. The Doctor's driving seemed a little erratic, as he swerved the car to avoid hitting anyone, sounding the horn wildly to clear his path.

"Stop them!" Rudiger shouted, running down the steps into the compound. Finally realizing what was happening, the guards started firing after the car but it was fast disappearing from sight.

Rudiger was joined by Buchner and the two scientists. "I'm impressed by your security arrangements, Lieutenant," Manstein said sarcastically.

Thrusting his pistol angrily back into its holster, Rudiger turned and stalked away. He stood beside the three V-2 launchers, looking out over the patch of scrubland. The fire-fighters seemed to have the blaze under control now, and a thick pall of black smoke was starting to drift back over the compound. "The damage is contained," he called out. He felt he had to salvage something from the situation. "And your precious pile is unharmed, Professor."

"Just as well," Buchner replied.

As Rudiger turned to walk back, a colossal roaring sound came from just beside him. He spun round, and watched in disbelief as the rocket motors of the nearest V-2 started to fire. There was a circular blast deflector fitted at the back of the trailer it sent the jet of flame rushing straight towards him. Rudiger barely had time to scream before it engulfed him.

Standing at a safer distance, Colonel Buchner's jaw dropped open as not one, but all three V-2s fired their engines, still held horizontal on their trailers. As the thrust built up, the clamps on the launch cradles opened, and the three mighty rockets shot forward across the compound, and slammed straight into the front of the main research block.

"Get down!" Buchner shouted. He threw himself to the ground, as the three warheads detonated. The solid square shape of the research block went up in a tremendous explosion, and chunks of rubble started to rain down over the compound.

----

Glancing in the rear-view mirror, the Doctor watched the destruction of the atomic pile with grim satisfaction. That should put an end to Kralin's tampering now, for better or worse, history would be restored to its proper course.

Looking ahead, he saw the main gate coming into view. It was partly open, with a German army truck stuck half way through it. Evidently, it had been in the process of entering the base when the explosion had gone off. Now, the driver stood in front of his cab, with the guards milling around, all of them staring aghast at the huge column of smoke that was starting to rise over the compound.

Then one of the guards noticed the Colonel's staff car approaching at speed. He quickly rallied his colleagues, and they struggled to get the gate open. As the car drew near, they stood back and saluted.

The Doctor put his foot down, hoping to shoot out through the open gate before any of the guards saw through his deception. He swerved onto the road, and started to drive back towards the forest. From behind them came the rattle of machine guns. Bullets started to fly around them, and he suddenly felt very exposed in the open- topped vehicle.

"Keep your head down!" he shouted to Abby. She didn't need telling twice! The Doctor ducked his own head as far as he was able, whilst still peering over the dashboard so he could steer the car.

Then one of the bullets shattered the windscreen. Somehow the Doctor lost control of the car, which skidded off the road and lurched to a juddering halt among the trees. The Doctor slumped back in his seat, and looked across at Abby. She didn't seem to be hurt. Quickly he scrambled out of the car, aware that the German guards would surely be pursuing them. Glancing down at the car, he saw that one of the tyres had been shot out, just a few scraps of disintegrating rubber clinging obstinately to the wheel rim and he understood how he'd lost control.

He helped Abby out of the car she stood unsteadily for a few moments, but the pressure of the Doctor's hand grasping hers was somehow reassuring. "Come on!" the Doctor whispered encouragingly, and they started to run through the trees. Abby was hopelessly lost, but the Doctor seemed to have an unerring sense of direction, navigating their path through the forest without hesitation.

Some distance behind them, they could hear the sounds of crashing, booted feet and shouted orders, and knew their pursuers were not far behind.

----

Manstein slowly raised his head, and peered through the black smoke that hung heavily over the compound. As it cleared slowly in the breeze, he could see chunks of broken concrete masonry littered across the compound. Here and there, sporadic fires had broken out. He staggered up onto his knees, and looked upon the shattered remains of the main research block, now little more than a smouldering heap of rubble. The force of the explosion had flattened many of the outbuildings, the offices and workshops, and what was left standing now burnt uncontrollably.

This was the end of his dreams, he knew. The project was over. He would never be able to rebuild the pile, not before the Allied advance got here. But he wouldn't even get that chance. The Führer did not tolerate failure, and rarely allowed anyone a second chance.

Sensing a presence behind him, Manstein turned to look up at Kralin. His master was staring into the wreckage of the research block, with something like an amused smile playing over his features. He reached into his coat pocket, and extracted the triangular medallion he always carried. He clutched it tightly in his hand, and Manstein was suddenly gripped with the fear that some terrible retribution would be unleashed upon him.

Kralin looked down at him pitifully. "You miserable worm," he hissed.

"Forgive me, Lord," Manstein pleaded.

Kralin kicked him away. "When I next call on you, you had better ensure that you serve me better." With that, he clutched the talisman tightly, summoning the energies of a time storm around himself, and vanished from sight.

----

The soldiers were gaining on them. Abby ran blindly, holding onto the Doctor's hand, letting him guide her. From behind them came shouted orders to halt, and then the sound of gunfire. Abby kept her head down, and kept running.

Then the shape of the Tardis appeared through the trees, and they ran towards it, the Doctor pulling the key from his pocket. It took a few precious seconds fiddling with the lock to get the door open, seconds in which the Germans burst into the clearing. Abby heard machine guns firing, saw bullets ricocheting off the Tardis door beside her then the Doctor grabbed her arm and pulled her inside.

As she recovered her breath, the Doctor ran to the control panel and closed the doors. The glass cylinder started its familiar oscillation, and with a sudden violent lurch, the floor started to move beneath their feet. They were on their way.

Exhausted, Abby slumped into an armchair. She looked up at the Doctor, as he busied himself about the controls. "So where are we going now?" she asked.

The Doctor looked round at her, and spent a few moments considering the question. "What about back to your own time?" he suggested.

"Will it still be there?"

Smiling, the Doctor turned back to the console. "Oh yes," he replied. "The continuum has completely repaired itself. History is now back on its proper track." His hands moved confidently over the controls. "Which means I can take you back."

Once again, the thought of returning home filled Abby with quiet dread. How could she ever be happy with that mundane existence? Not now she'd experienced life with the Doctor. And knowing they'd saved her own world really brought home to her the fact that they were doing something worthwhile confronting the forces of evil head-on, and defeating them. That wasn't something you could say about secretarial temping work.

"What about Kralin?" she asked. "He's still out there somewhere."

The Doctor regarded her curiously for a moment, then turned and checked over the instruments. "I can't argue with that," he murmured, "although I feel we've got a little time yet in which to..." His voice trailed off, and he started urgently flicking switches on the control panel.

"What is it?" Abby asked urgently.

"Two separate time traces," replied the Doctor. "They both have the resonance pattern of the talisman and they both seem to be converging on the same point in space-time."

Abby got to her feet, and walked towards him. She tried reading the instruments over his shoulder, but the displays on the console meant nothing to her. She'd just have to take his word for it. "What does it mean?" she demanded. "Is there another luminant out there?"

"I wouldn't have thought so," said the Doctor. "One signal is obviously Kralin, but the other..." He slapped himself on the forehead. "Of course! The Daleks! We know they retained one of the talismans."

Abby shook her head uncertainly. "I thought they didn't have the secret of time travel?"

"They must have learnt more from Kralin than he realized," replied the Doctor grimly. "Even if they're only pumping raw energy into the talisman to stimulate a time storm effect, they might be able to home on the resonance pattern. It's the only explanation."

"So where are they going?"

"The same place as Kralin which must be where the final talisman is located. And that's where we have to go..." He began to set new directional co-ordinates.

 

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