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An Adventure in Time and Space
PLANET LORINA. 7435 AD.
The wind swept forlornly through the village, stirring the dust that covered the
ground, rattling the wooden doors and beaded curtains of the huts. Angose shivered,
and drew her shawl closely around her. It was barely adequate to keep out the biting
wind. She had never got used to it, even though she had felt it every day of her life.
That, she supposed, was part of the punishment, the retribution of the gods which had
left their world a barren and desolate place.
She stopped in the gathering place, an open space in the centre of the village,
covered like everywhere else by the wind-blown dust. Beneath the dust, the soil was
hard and dry, with just a few scrappy weeds showing here and there. Along with the
small, stringy vegetables the people somehow managed to cultivate, they were the
only plant life that could survive here.
And yet, she knew their world had once been a green and verdant paradise.
Angose was the lore-keeper of the Tribe of Seklan, and guarded the oral tradition of
the people, handed down from mother to daughter for generations. She could speak
of Lorina as it had once been, with the same certainty as her distant ancestor who had
seen it with her own eyes. The ancient stories had been in her mind a great deal of
late – since the stranger had arrived.
Angose walked up to the chieftain's hut, the largest building in the village. The
door was open, with two warriors standing either side of it, long-bladed knives
clutched in their hands. They did not challenge Angose as she made to go inside.
After the chief, she was the most important person in the tribe – who would dare
oppose her when it might be they who next needed her healing skills?
Angose entered the hut, and drew aside a bead curtain to reveal the chieftain
seated on his ceremonial bench. Taril was a powerful, broad-shouldered man in his
middle forties, his greying hair braided into a long pony-tail. He looked up at
Angose, then stood up, drawing his animal-hide cloak over his shoulders. "What do
you want?" he asked aggressively.
Angose fixed him with a withering stare. She was well aware of the power she
held over him, and all the men of the village. "Where is the stranger?" she demanded.
Taril's eyes flicked towards the curtain that covered the doorway to an inner
room. "He is resting," he replied quietly.
"And how long do you intend to keep him here?"
"Until he is ready. He needs to gather his strength after his long journey. He has
a great task ahead of him."
"If he is the messenger of the gods..." Angose muttered dismissively.
"Of course he is," Taril said. "Did he not appear from nowhere right before my
eyes? Before half of the tribe, right in the centre of the village?"
"Some sort of trick perhaps..."
"I'd like to see you do it," Taril murmured, and then instantly regretted it when he
was rewarded with an angry glare. For all he knew, Angose could make herself
appear and disappear at will. She was the keeper of ancient wisdoms, of strange
powers no man would ever understand. Some said she could turn herself into an
animal or hide herself inside a cloud. She certainly seemed to know everything that
went on in the village, even the most closely guarded secrets. And she could certainly
make something nasty happen to him if he angered her.
"Whoever or whatever the stranger may be," Angose said slowly, "is a matter
which should be determined by the elders. It's not for you to keep him hidden here.
We need to question, to test him. The true messenger of the gods would know the
deepest secrets of the ancient lore. By his responses, he would reveal his true nature."
Taril shook his huge head. "I tell you, Kralin is the messenger. And he has
bidden me to guard him here, until the time is right. Then he will emerge to fulfill the
prophecy. He will reunite us with the Tribe of Malfin. And the anger of the gods will
"We shall see," Angose snapped. "But I warn you, the elders are growing
impatient with you, Taril. They will not tolerate you hiding the messenger away
indefinitely. Some doubt that this Kralin is the true messenger. They think that you
are using him to further your own ends. That's why he must submit to the testing.
Think of your own position now, Taril. It will not be tenable if the elders turn against
With that, she turned and strode imperiously from the hut. Taril heaved a sigh of
relief, and slumped back down on his bench. From behind him came the rustling of a
bead curtain. He turned his head to see Kralin enter from the next room, clad in the
same long black cloak he had worn on his arrival.
"Did you hear?" Taril asked.
"Yes," replied Kralin. He moved to the curtain covering the entrance, and seemed
to stare through it, as if he was watching Angose's progress through the village.
"Why do you let her talk to you like that?"
"She is the keeper of the lore," said Taril simply.
"A mere child." Kralin shook his head in disbelief. The girl who had just left was
no older than fifteen.
"She is the daughter of the last keeper. The wisdom and traditions of our tribe
have been passed down to her intact through generations. She has knowledge and
powers beyond our understanding."
"You fear her," Kralin accused.
Taril felt his fingers clutching aggressively at the arms of his bench. "She is
powerful," he admitted. "The elders will listen to her. She can undermine my
position here, and discredit you completely. That is why you need to give them some
sign to prove who you are."
Kralin turned to face the chief. "Soon," he said. "Soon, you will all see a
demonstration of the truth."
From his hiding place, Rint watched the metal monsters herding his people through
the tunnels. They moved swiftly and surely, gliding over the rough ground. Rint had
hoped the stones and rubble might prove an impediment to them – but despite their
unwieldy shape, the monsters kept going.
It was the tribespeople who stumbled and staggered through the uneven passages.
Old people, women and children found it especially difficult to keep up the pace. The
monsters prodded them with their strange appendages, forcing them to keep moving –
and for those who could not proceed, there was the threat of the deadly lightning bolts
that the monsters could unleash – back along the tunnel lay the incinerated corpses of
several who had fallen behind. Even the young men, warriors of the Malfin had been
cowed into submission by this danger – what could they do to fight against it?
Yet for all their powers, the monsters were not infallible. Rint had been tracking
them for several hours, and they remained unaware of his presence. If they were
fallible, then somehow they could be defeated. Rint took heart from that – as with all
battles, it would be a case of finding the enemy's weakness and exploiting it.
He had been away from the village when the monsters struck. It was common
practice for young Malfin males to journey into the wild by themselves, to pit
themselves against the elements and the wild beasts. They would be judged by the
results of such expeditions. Sometimes, they never returned.
Rint had been out for several days. He had slain several beasts – and knew that
when he returned to the village with their skins, he would be able to prove his worth
and manhood. It was especially important to do so at this time. The Malfin were
without a leader since his father had died. There was no guarantee that Rint would
succeed to rule the tribe – first he had to gain the blessing and support of the elders.
There were other young warriors waiting for him to fail, hoping to seize the
chieftain's bench for themselves. He was determined not to give them the chance.
But now suddenly everything had changed. He had found the village deserted, the
huts burning, and charred corpses littering the ground. At first, he had suspected an
attack by the Tribe of Seklan. But he had quickly dismissed such a thought. Though
the Malfin lived in a state of perpetual war with the Seklan, it manifested itself in a
few skirmishes and the occasional foolhardy raid into each other's villages – bandit
expeditions which were easily beaten off. There was no way the Seklan could have
wrought this destruction.
Quickly, Rint picked up the trail. His tracking skills were exceptional, finely
honed through a lifetime of training as a warrior and a hunter. Within hours, he had
found the Tribe of Malfin, moving in a long, ragged procession across the dust-swept
terrain, forced onwards by the metal monsters.
Moving silently, Rint followed their every move, seeking cover wherever it
presented itself. The monsters did not detect him, though sometimes he was within
spitting distance. They forced the villagers on into the forbidden territory around the
place of the gods.
Reaching the rocky outcrop at the edge of the sacred valley, the monsters spewed
forth their lightning bolts, cracking the rock open like a nut to expose the entrance to
one of the ancient tunnels. Then they shepherded the people inside.
Rint followed. Once inside the tunnels, he was even more in his element. As the
son of a chief, the place of the gods had not been forbidden to him. He had been here
with his father many times, had learnt every inch of the passages, every niche and
narrow defile. He could hide here indefinitely, keeping the monsters under
surveillance until he found out what they were up to.
Eventually, the tunnels widened out into a vast cavern, in the centre of which
stood a huge domed building. This was the most sacred place on Lorina, the magical
shrine in which men had once challenged the supremacy of the gods themselves. The
metal monsters set the tribespeople to work here, clearing the rocks away from the
base of the dome.
From his vantage point, Rint observed their behaviour. One of the creatures made
a regular circuit of the cavern's perimeter, no doubt patrolling to watch for any
villagers who tried to escape. It passed quite close beneath the little cave entrance
where Rint was ensconced. The thought crossed his mind of dropping a boulder onto
the monster – but that would only destroy one of them. Nevertheless, he had to find a
way to defeat these creatures and save his people. It was what was expected of the
chief. Rint thought of the animal pelts he had left behind in the smoking ruins of the
village. What were they worth now? No, he would present the elders with the metal
skins of their tormentors – then they would surely approve his ascension to the
As a chill wind swept through the rocky passage, Abigail drew her woollen overcoat
tight around her. She looked glumly at their surroundings – a roughly-hewn tunnel,
its walls running with damp, its floor strewn with stones and rubble – and was glad
she had once again changed into some practical clothes. She turned and looked back
at the Doctor, who was just locking the Tardis door. He was wearing yet another
near-identical check overcoat – reaching into a pocket, he produced one of his
handheld scanning instruments. For a few seconds, he gazed at the pattern of lights
flickering across the display screen, then put the device away with a puzzled frown.
"Nothing definite," he murmured. "There's some localized temporal distortion,
but nothing I'd identify as the time traces of Kralin or the Daleks."
"What about the talisman?" asked Abby.
The Doctor shook his head. "I can't pinpoint it. There's a very unusual time field
across this whole area – it's making precise readings impossible. Well, we'll just
have to ask the natives, won't we?"
"Natives?" Abby peered into the darkness of the tunnel. "Do you mean people
live down here?"
"Well, maybe not here," said the Doctor. "More likely on the surface – though
this tunnel is certainly man-made. According to my galactic atlas, Lorina in this time
period supports a primitive tribal culture." He turned about to survey their options –
in both directions, the tunnel disappeared into darkness.
"This way, I think." Picking a direction at random, he strode off into the shadows.
As she stumbled along in his wake, Abby was glad of the sensible walking boots she
had decided to wear. The tunnels meandered in every direction, sometimes seeming
to curve right round on themselves, sometimes rising or descending quite steeply.
Numerous branches and junctions presented themselves, but the Doctor seemed
always to know which direction to take – a quick glance at his time scanner was the
only confirmation he needed.
As she trudged miserably along, Abby began to despair of ever finding any
natives. They seemed to have been wandering the passages for hours, although a
glance at her watch told her it was only twenty minutes. Nevertheless, she had lost
any trace of energy or enthusiasm long ago. The Doctor seemed completely
unaffected however, striding over the rough stone floors with an infuriating spring in
Then unexpectedly, he came to an abrupt halt, and Abby nearly cannoned into
him. She clutched his arm to steady herself, and looked up into his face in concern.
"What is it?" she whispered.
The Doctor indicated the way ahead with a slight nod of his head. They had come
to the end of the tunnel, a small cave opening set half way up a high cliff. They
looked out into a large circular depression, a stone cavern about a mile across. It
reminded Abby somewhat of an ancient amphitheatre. In the centre rose a tall, dome-
like building, which at this distance seemed to be completely smooth, almost as if it
had been carved from a single massive chunk of rock. From its uppermost point
extended a tall, slender spire fashioned from a coppery metal, which disappeared
through the stone of the cavern's roof.
"Well," said the Doctor quietly, "that's evidence of native life existing here,
wouldn't you say?"
It wasn't the extraordinary structure he was referring to, but the shambling group
of people working in front of it. There were perhaps a hundred of them, all ages and
both sexes, dressed in a mixture of leather and animal skins. They laboured to clear
rocks and earth away from the foot of the dome – watched over by some ten Daleks.
"Slave labour," the Doctor murmured. "That's usually how the Daleks operate."
"But what are they doing?" Abby asked.
"I imagine they're trying to clear an entrance into that building. And before you
ask, I don't know why. I've no idea what it is."
Abby shook her head in wonder. The natives labouring below appeared to be
primitive tribespeople, just as the Doctor had described them. "Those people couldn't
have built something like that, could they?"
The Doctor shrugged. "Civilizations fall," he said simply. "This is obviously left
over from an earlier, more advanced culture. Like the Egyptian pyramids."
Cautiously, he peered over the edge of the cave mouth. There was a narrow ledge
below, the summit of a path that wound its way down the cliff face, disappearing
eventually behind some jagged rocks. The path was steep in places, but passable.
"Come on," he whispered, and started to clamber over the edge.
"We're not going down there?" said Abby.
"We've got to find out what they're up to," the Doctor replied. "I can't think of
any other way."
Steeling herself, Abby followed him out onto the ledge. She had no desire to walk
into a cavern full of Daleks, but even that was preferable to being separated from the
Doctor again. They crept carefully down the treacherous path, keeping low to avoid
being seen. At one point Abby slipped, sending a trickle of shingle pattering down
the cliffside. She froze in horror, even as the Doctor grabbed her arm to steady her –
terrified that the Daleks must have heard the noise. But there was no reaction from
the centre of the cavern. The Doctor pulled her into a low crouch, and they continued
to scurry down the path.
It was an immense relief when they reached ground level and took cover behind
the rocks at the foot of the cliff. "What do we do now?" Abby whispered.
"Try to get closer," replied the Doctor.
"I must know what they're doing here."
"Looking for the talisman?" Abby suggested.
"Well yes, presumably. And that means Kralin must be around here somewhere."
He started to move forward, keeping low to use the rocks as cover, darting from one
outcrop to the next. As she followed, Abby found she was holding her breath. The
distance between the rocks was only a few metres at a time, but might have been a
vast desert she was crossing. For that split second as she scurried across the open
ground, she felt so exposed, knowing that a Dalek had only to turn its head a fraction
and she would be seen.
But somehow they remained undetected – until finally, they reached a point about
two hundred metres from the domed building. It was the closest they could get and
still remain hidden. They peered over the jagged rocks, trying to make sense of the
activity in front of the dome. The natives had cleared the rocks and rubble from a
large area at the foot of the building, and were now proceeding to dig away the soil at
"What do you think then?" Abby whispered.
"The entrance to the building must be buried," murmured the Doctor. "It could be
a sort of tomb or burial chamber."
"Well then, the talisman might be inside. Part of a funeral treasure perhaps."
"Yes, very possibly." The Doctor raised his head again, taking in the scene before
the dome. The Daleks were positioned equidistantly around the excavated area, their
very presence keeping the natives focused on their work.
Suddenly, the nearest Dalek swung its head round towards them. Abby and the
Doctor quickly ducked back behind the rock. "Do you think it saw us?" Abby
"Well, let's hope not," said the Doctor airily.
Abby let out the breath she found she'd been holding. "We're not going to get
anywhere near that building, are we?"
"No, I don't think we are." The Doctor frowned. "What we need now is some
sort of diversion."
As he spoke, a shadow fell over them and the air filled with a high-pitched
buzzing sound. The Doctor glanced upwards, then pushed Abby roughly to one side.
He dived in the opposite direction, just as a bolt of searing energy fell from above.
"Run!" he shouted.
Sprawling on the ground, Abby looked up in horror at the metal shape that
hovered over them. It consisted of a raised circular base, the underside of which
glowed with a strange, pulsing energy. Standing on the base, surrounded by a
complex array of controls and instruments, was the machine's pilot – a Dalek.
Abby scrambled to her feet as more energy bolts started to rain down. She ran
towards the next outcrop of rock, trying to seek cover. But the other Daleks had
spotted her now, and converged rapidly upon her. She soon found herself pinned
against the rocks, hemmed in by Daleks who pushed and prodded her with their
The Doctor dived for cover as another energy bolt slammed into the ground behind
him. The flying Dalek had ignored Abby, and concentrated on pursuing him. Yet as
he ducked and weaved between the rocks, the Doctor realized that the Dalek wasn't
trying to kill him – merely to cut off his escape and drive him back towards the centre
of the cavern. Every blast from its gun was just slightly wide of the mark. Obviously,
they wanted to take him alive, and that fact gave him an advantage.
He ran back towards the edge of the cavern, dodging the explosions that ripped
huge chunks out of the rocks. If he could reach the cavern wall, then he might find a
cave or tunnel mouth, some means of escape. Momentarily he thought of Abby – had
she escaped, or was she even now a prisoner of the Daleks? Had she been killed?
Until he had evaded his pursuers, there was nothing he could do for her. If he
remained free, then he would have the chance to rescue her – and to defeat the Daleks.
Another energy bolt tore into the ground just behind him. The Doctor was picked
up by the shockwave and hurled bodily through the air, crashing to the ground amidst
a hail of rubble. Dazed and bruised, he lay sprawled uncomfortably on the rocky
ground. The buzzing of the Dalek's flying machine filled his ears, growing louder
and more insistent by the second – and forced his mind to stay focused. There would
be time for healing later. He dragged himself upright, and staggered on towards the
The explosion had carried him further than he'd thought. Just a few more metres
and he would reach the cliff face – but already he could see that on this side of the
cavern, it was smooth and featureless. No hint of a hiding place presented itself.
The buzzing sound grew louder still, and then the Dalek was looming right over
him. There was nowhere to run. The Doctor looked up forlornly, and prepared to
surrender himself to the Dalek.
Suddenly, he sensed a blur of movement from above, and flung himself to one
side just in time. A huge, jagged chunk of rock had fallen from a cave entrance high
in the cavern wall, slamming into the Dalek and its flying platform and hurling both to
the ground in a wreckage of mangled machinery.
The Doctor clambered to his feet once more, looking around desperately. The
other Daleks were advancing through the rocks – the destruction of the flying
machine had bought just a few seconds' respite. He glanced upwards to the cave
entrance, and saw a young man emerge, dressed in the same native style as the slave
workers. With lithe, agile movements, he climbed down the near vertical cliff face,
landing lightly on his feet in front of the Doctor.
The young man gestured past the Doctor. "This way," he hissed, and moved
swiftly to a shallow niche in the cavern wall. There was barely room for himself, let
alone the Doctor. He reached into the defile, and somehow a section of the rockface
slid open. The native quickly ushered the Doctor through the opening. Then he
activated the hidden mechanism, and the cliff sealed up perfectly behind them.
Driving Abby before them, the Daleks returned to the excavated area before the
dome. They glided over the uneven, rocky ground as if it were smooth as glass. They
pushed Abby right to the edge of the excavation, barely giving her time to stagger to a
halt. Her feet sent a trickle of pebbles down into the pit, which was now at least ten
feet deep. At the bottom, the natives still toiled, digging the earth away from the
foundations of the dome. They did not appear to have uncovered anything remotely
like a door.
Abby looked round at the Daleks standing guard. Her gaze fell upon a dark shape
almost directly opposite her, and she realized that it was the Black Dalek, the
Emperor's deputy from Skaro. Its eye lens seemed to regard her closely for a few
moments, the white iris in its centre contracting. Then it turned its head to receive the
report of a subordinate.
"The Doctor has escaped us."
"We must apprehend the Doctor," the Black Dalek snapped. "We will use the
female as a hostage to force his surrender. Has Kralin been located yet?"
"Yes, we have detected his time trace. He is in a native settlement seventeen
kilometres from here."
"Despatch a patrol to retrieve Kralin and any artefacts in his possession. The
indigenous population can be taken prisoner – we may require more slave labour."
"I obey." The Dalek wheeled round, and moved off to carry out its orders.
The Black Dalek turned to another of its subordinates. "The female can be put to
work with the other slaves." Then it turned away, as if it was dismissing her
completely from its thoughts.
Abby felt one of the Daleks nudge her in the back with its manipulator arm,
pushing her over the edge of the excavation pit. Her legs slipped out from under her,
and she felt herself falling. Fortunately, the sides were not excessively steep – she
was able to put out her arms to steady herself as she skidded down on her backside to
the bottom of the pit.
Slowly she sat up, trying to ignore the stinging pain from her grazed palms.
Standing around her were several of the native slave workers, mainly children and a
few women. They regarded her with a mixture of curiosity and fear – mostly the
latter. Abby tried to smile reassuringly at the nearest child, but he shied away from
her and clutched one of the women tightly.
The crowd parted to let a young man approach. The look of hostility twisting his
features told Abby she was unlikely to get through to him either. She realized that
these people had never encountered aliens before – and their experiences at the hands
of the Daleks could have done little to reassure them. How natural that they would
regard all strangers with suspicion and fear.
The young man gazed down at her with such hatred and anger in his eyes that
Abby seriously thought he was going to attack her. Then a blast of searing energy
exploded at his feet, the shockwave flinging him onto his back. Abby glanced up to
the edge of the pit, where the Daleks still stood threateningly. The one which had
fired turned its eye lens on the natives. "Excavation work will continue," it
screeched. "Those who cease work will be exterminated."
Swiftly, the slaves went back to work, mothers dragging their children with them.
The young man picked himself up, glaring at Abby before he too resumed working.
Abby got slowly to her feet. Conscious of the Daleks' eyes upon her, she moved
forward to the side of the dome. She left some little distance between herself and the
nearest natives – she didn't think they'd appreciate her working right alongside them.
Sinking to her knees in the soil, she started to pull rocks clear of the foundations.
She wished that the Doctor were with her. He would have known what to say to
these people – he would have won them over and joined with them in fighting the
Daleks. But at least he was still free – which meant that even now he was looking for
a way to free her.
The Doctor examined the rock wall behind him. There was no indication at all that it
could be opened. "A remarkable piece of engineering," he commented. He turned
back to face the young native who had saved him, and smiled. "It's a good thing you
knew it was here. Hello, I'm the Doctor."
"I am Rint." He was tall and muscular, his face weather-beaten so that it was hard
to judge his age precisely – but the Doctor guessed he was around twenty. His
clothing was similar to the other natives, but with more leather than skins giving the
impression of a crude sort of armour. The knife and slingshot hanging from his belt
confirmed the Doctor's guess that Rint was a warrior – as he might expect any young
man to be in a tribal culture like this one.
"My father showed me the tunnels and secret ways," Rint explained. "The
passages that you will have seen, and many other hidden paths known only to the
"Your father's the chieftain?" asked the Doctor.
"He is dead now," said Rint.
"And you've succeeded him?"
"Not yet. If the elders should judge me worthy..."
"I see." The Doctor looked around at the small chamber they were in – like the
other tunnels, it was illuminated by the ghostly glow of a natural phosphorescence in
the stone walls. A small niche on the far side of the cave promised the entrance to
another tunnel. He wondered how extensive the network might be. "Tell me, what is
this place? And that building out there?"
Rint looked at him curiously. "Why, this is the place of the gods."
"Some sort of temple?"
"Not exactly. It is where our ancestors challenged the gods, and stole their power.
Long before the great war." He fixed the Doctor with an incisive stare. "You are not
of the Seklan."
"No, I don't think so," replied the Doctor. "I'm a traveller."
"Very far from here. And I'm interested in local history."
Rint grunted incredulously. "I will gladly tell you later," he said, "but I have more
important tasks first. I have to save my people. These metal monsters..."
"Daleks..." Rint carefully repeated the unfamiliar word. "I have to defeat them."
"Yes," replied the Doctor slowly. "That's what I'm here to do as well."
"They have captured your friend."
"I know. But there's nothing I can do about that until I know what it is they're
doing here. And why they're so interested in that dome out there."
As he spoke, a massive vibration tore through the cave. Rint moved past the
Doctor, and pressed his hands against the hidden doorway through which they had
entered. He felt another tremor, as if something were battering heavily on the other
"They're trying to break through," said the Doctor quietly.
"Do you think they'll succeed?"
"Well, they can be very determined."
Rint turned round, and crossed the cave to the tunnel entrance in the far wall.
"Come, we must leave. We'll be able to stay ahead of them in the tunnels."
The Doctor nodded, and moved to follow him.
Clasping the hilt of his sword, Taril sat darkly brooding. He could feel his power
slipping away from him. If the elders should turn against him, he would be finished.
Any young warrior would feel emboldened to challenge his position. He had fought
off such challenges in the past, but that had been years ago. Though he was still
strong and fit, Taril knew that he was no longer a young man. A younger, more agile
warrior might have a chance of besting him. So, he had to ensure that the thought of
opposing him never entered their heads. He would have to appease the elders – which
meant it was time for Kralin to come out of hiding and prove himself.
Having reached his decision, Taril felt easier in himself. He turned his head
towards the entrance to the inner room, and thought of Kralin still resting inside – and
then his new-found confidence started to desert him. How could he command the
messenger of the gods? He felt his hand tightening on his sword. The threat of
physical violence had always worked for him in the past – but against a being from
the stars? Wouldn't that just bring the retribution of the gods down upon them once
The bead curtain was drawn aside, and Kralin entered the room, regarding him
curiously. Quickly, Taril loosened his grip on the sword, laying it to rest against the
side of his bench.
"What's the matter with you?" Kralin asked bluntly.
Taril sighed. "It is the elders – and probably the rest of the Tribe. They're
becoming restless. They want you to fulfil the prophecies."
"Well, tell them to be patient."
"It's too late for that. They're already beginning to doubt you."
"I didn't realize you had so little control over your people," Kralin snarled. "Are
you the chief or aren't you?"
Taril clutched the arm of his bench angrily. It was an effort to stop himself rising
to strike Kralin. Through gritted teeth, he said, "The elders can turn the people
against me – and that little witch Angose has been putting in the poison. You must
realize I won't be able to help you if my position here is undermined."
Kralin glared at him for a moment, then turned his head away. He seemed to be
considering his next course of action. "What is it you want me to do?" he said
"Give us some sort of sign," Taril implored. "Something to prove you are the
messenger of the gods. Or some indication that the prophecies are starting to come
Kralin cocked his head on one side, and stared into space as if he was seeking
inspiration from the air – or perhaps he was in divine communion with the gods.
Then he smiled slowly, and turned back to face Taril. "A sign?" he murmured.
"Very well. Then let me tell you, you will soon be receiving visitors."
Frowning, Taril considered his words. Then he reached once more for his sword.
"Do you mean the Malfin are going to attack?"
Kralin laughed. "No. These are visitors from much farther away."
As he spoke, a loud rumbling sound echoed through the village. Seizing up his
sword, Taril went to the window and looked out across the gathering place. Some of
the huts on the other side were on fire. People were running from the flames,
screaming. There were more terrifying cracking and roaring sounds, and with each
another building spontaneously burst into flame.
"What's happening?" Taril stammered. "What is it?"
"You've never seen an explosion before?" replied Kralin calmly. "No, perhaps
you haven't. That's high energy weapons for you."
Pulling himself together, Taril ran to the door of the hut. People were still fleeing
from the gathering place, seeking shelter in or behind the remaining huts. Taril found
his two bodyguards cowering amongst women and children. He set his face
determinedly – he had to show an example to them. Whatever was happening was
beyond his understanding, but as chieftain it was his duty to defend the people of the
Tribe. "Draw your weapons," he commanded.
But he took no step towards the conflagration. He began to discern shapes
moving through the flames, shapes which emerged into the open apparently
unscathed. It was not the Malfin attacking – it was not any kind of people at all. Taril
found himself involuntarily backing into his hut as the squat metal creatures advanced
across the gathering place.
There was a blur of movement, and two young warriors ran out from between two
huts. Their spears held above their heads, they charged at the monsters. Their
courage shamed Taril back into action. He hefted his sword, and started to run
With a battlecry, the two warriors flung their spears, only to watch as they
bounced harmlessly off the metal skin of the intruders. Turning on their attackers, the
monsters spat some sort of lightning bolt, and the young men burst into flame,
screaming in agony as their bodies were consumed.
Taril found his nerve failing him again. He turned back into the hut, and found
Kralin waiting in the doorway. "What are they?" he asked.
Kralin said nothing.
There was a movement at the side of the hut. And another figure stepped out of
the crowd, advancing towards the metal monsters. It was Angose, dressed in the long
ceremonial robe of the lore-keeper, adorned with feathers, bones and teeth that rattled
together in the wind. It was the first time that Taril had ever been glad to see her.
In her hand, she held the short staff that symbolized her power. It was imbued
with all manner of magics, which would surely see off these strange creatures. She
pointed it at them. Raising her other arm, she cried, "Halt, foul spirits! You have no
place here. Return from whence you came, or I shall destroy you."
There was a long pause, the eyes of the whole Tribe fixed upon Angose as she did
battle with the powers of evil. Then one of the monsters shot out a lightning bolt, and
she was engulfed in flame. She didn't even have time to scream.
Horrorstruck, Taril turned back to Kralin. "These are the evil spirits foretold by
the prophecy," he shouted. "Even Angose could not oppose them. Only you can stop
them. You must do something."
Kralin shrugged. "Like this?"
He stepped from the hut, pushing past Taril and walking straight towards the
metal monsters. They did not turn their lightning bolts upon him, but waited for him
to come close.
Stopping before them, Kralin spread his arms wide as if in welcome. "I'm glad
you could make it," he said.
The nearest Dalek turned to look at him. "You will come with us, Kralin."
"Of course. I'm looking forward to renewing our working relationship."
Ignoring him, the Dalek turned to its fellows. "Take the surviving natives
prisoner, and bring them to the excavation."
"We obey." The Daleks moved towards the terrified villagers. It was obvious
they wouldn't have any trouble subduing them.
Rint led the Doctor through a bewildering series of tunnels and passages, some high-
vaulted caverns as large as a cathedral, others little more than cracks in the rock
through which they could only crawl. At least that would make it difficult for the
Daleks to follow them.
They emerged into another chamber, deep and wide, but with such a low ceiling
that they had to step around stalactites. There was barely a glimmer of light here, the
walls of the chamber almost devoid of phosphorescence. The Doctor fished in his
coat pocket, and produced a torch. The beam illuminated a series of alcoves set in
one wall. Moving closer, the Doctor saw that each space contained some piece of
technology – here was a cracked circuit board, there a rust-covered hydraulic gear
system or a twisted radio aerial. He realized that everything was broken, and
exhibited the decay of millennia – yet had been placed here with what seemed like
Rint was already at the far end of the chamber. "Come on, quickly," he urged.
"No wait," the Doctor said. "What's all this?"
Urgently, Rint moved to join him. "Relics," he said.
"No, not really. They are the remnants of our ancestors."
"I see." The Doctor examined the alcoves in greater detail. There were certainly
some sophisticated pieces of equipment here – a complex lens array from a laser
refraction device; or part of a solar energy converter. "There was a technological
civilization here, of course, but that was thousands of years ago – I wouldn't have
expected so much to survive."
"These machines..." replied Rint slowly. "They were the source of my people's
prosperity and power. But it was all lost in the war."
"Tell me about the war."
"The vengeance of the gods." Rint looked around worriedly. "I'll tell you," he
said, "but we must keep moving." He started towards the far side of the chamber
With one last glance at the relics, the Doctor followed. They found another
narrow niche in the rock wall, and slid awkwardly through it.
"My father told me the story," said Rint, "as he heard it from his father. It's been
passed down from chieftain to chieftain for generations."
They emerged into another narrow, winding passage. Rint continued to speak as
he led the way. "The people lived in peace and prosperity, and with great power
provided by their machines. But they became complacent – and they became
arrogant. They sought to challenge the gods themselves."
Rint shook his head imperceptibly, and went on with his narrative. "The gods
were angry. They made us turn against one another. The people split into two sides,
and fought a long and bloody war. Everything that we were, everything we had, was
destroyed, and our world was laid waste. Now there are just the two tribes left."
"The descendants of the two factions who fought the war?" suggested the Doctor.
"Yes." Rint paused, gazing wistfully into space. "We are still at war. The
differences between our tribes cannot easily be resolved."
"Such as what?"
"The Malfin, my people, have kept and tended the remnants of our ancestors. We
keep the machines as you have seen, to remind us of the glories of our past – and to
inspire us, to give us hope that one day we might invent such wonders again, and
rebuild our world as it once was."
"That's a noble aim," said the Doctor.
"But the Tribe of Seklan do not agree," said Rint. "They despise the machines –
they hate the past. They have replaced memory and hope with superstition and fear."
The Doctor nodded wisely. To him, Rint's tale of angry gods sounded fairly
superstitious and fearful, but he thought it best not to say so.
Rint stopped, and placed his hands against the wall of the tunnel. He located
another hidden mechanism, and caused part of the wall to swing away, revealing a
worn stone staircase leading upwards into shadow. "Through here," he said.
"There's something that will interest you."
The Black Dalek was waiting at the edge of the pit. Kralin walked determinedly
towards it, ignoring the cries of the Seklan prisoners as they were herded into the
cavern behind him. The voice of Taril rose prominently amongst them, beseeching
the emissary of the gods to oppose the demons.
Kralin took note of the excavation pit – the Daleks lined up around its perimeter
with weapons trained on the terrified, exhausted Malfin tribe working below. They
had cleared most of the foundations of the dome, and exposed a low doorway set in
the stonework. One thing could be said for the Daleks – they were brutal, but they
were efficient and got things done.
He noted Abby working in the pit with the slaves, yet somehow keeping herself
apart from them. No doubt she had received a hostile reception. Kralin wondered
what might occur when the Seklan were pushed into the pit as well. But for the
moment, that little social experiment would be postponed – the Daleks were merely
forcing the Seklan to sit on the floor up in the cavern.
Turning to face the Black Dalek, Kralin said, "I hope we can have a more
productive relationship this time. One in which both parties are equal."
"The Daleks have no equal. We are superior beings."
Kralin laughed. "Yes indeed. Superior beings who allowed the Doctor to outwit
them." He stared defiantly into the Dalek's eye lens. "If you had listened to me, if
you had kept our agreement, we would have four of the talismans in our possession by
"We are not interested in your talismans," replied the Black Dalek. "We want the
power of time travel."
"And you shall have it," said Kralin. "I did not forget our bargain – but these
things take time. When we have all five talismans in our grasp, then we shall have
unlimited power over all time and space."
The Black Dalek regarded him for a few seconds. Finally it announced, "Very
well. We shall enter into a new agreement. But if you attempt again to betray us, you
will be exterminated."
"It was you who betrayed me," Kralin pointed out. "Now let's stop bickering and
get on with it, shall we?"
He turned away, and walked to the edge of the excavation pit. Concentrating his
attention on the newly-revealed doorway, he reached out with his thoughts, seeking
familiar energy patterns and the disturbances they would cause in the local time field.
The door itself was a solid block of stone, but even that could not mask the tell-tale
"Our instrument readings suggest the talisman is contained within this building,"
the Black Dalek intoned.
"I'd say you were right," Kralin replied.
"We are preparing to enter the building."
"Good. But we also need the other two talismans. We must locate the Doctor."
"The Doctor has fled into the surrounding tunnels," said the Black Dalek. "A
patrol has been despatched to find him, but the terrain makes pursuit difficult."
Kralin looked down into the pit once more, and fixed his stare on the dejected
figure of Abby. "I think there might be another way," he murmured. "Bring the
Doctor's companion up from the pit."
The Black Dalek turned to give orders to a subordinate.
"The Doctor is not foolish," Kralin mused. "I doubt he will have both talismans
in his possession – it's more likely he would have left them aboard his ship. It must
be somewhere in the vicinity." He thought for a moment. "It should be easy for your
instruments to detect it. Send a patrol to locate it. Take some slave workers to bring
the craft back here."
The stone steps climbed to a great height – possibly as high as the roof of the great
cavern itself, the Doctor realized. At the top, the staircase opened onto a long curved
passage, a gallery that seemed to run all around the cavern's perimeter. It was
unnaturally light within – phosphorescence streaked the walls as in other parts of the
tunnel complex, but here it was more plentiful and evenly spaced, suggesting it had
been deliberately placed to provide illumination.
The walls of the gallery were covered with an intricate series of carvings. Some
were pictograms similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics, while others were graphical
representations of actual scenes. Together they formed what was obviously a
"It is the history of our people," said Rint.
The Doctor nodded. The inscriptions covered events dating back tens of
thousands of years. At a more leisurely time, he might enjoy spending some years
here, translating and transcribing them – but right now, there were more important
matters to draw his attention. "The war?" he asked.
Rint led him along the passage, past thousands of years of history, until they came
to the relevant section. The Doctor looked at stylized carvings of tall buildings,
vehicles and flying machines, and realized he was seeing a representation of the
technological society that had once flourished on Lorina, imagined thousands of years
after the event by people who had no understanding of the science involved – just oral
traditions and race memory to guide them.
At the end of this sequence was a large carving that the Doctor recognized as the
domed building in the cavern. Contained within it was a triangular shape that radiated
lines of energy. "What's this?" the Doctor asked.
"The power of the gods," replied Rint. "Our ancestors sought to control it, to
claim it as their own. The dome is the place where they did this."
The Doctor continued to trace the narrative sequence. Further along was another
depiction of the dome, beams of light radiating from its tall spire, and stick-like
figures of men who were being struck down by this energy. It was interesting to note
that the dome was not enclosed by a cavern in this scene, but was standing in the
centre of an open plain.
Reaching into his coat pocket, the Doctor pulled out one of the talismans. He held
it up for Rint to see. "Do you know what this is?" he asked.
Rint took several steps back, stunned by the sight. "The symbol of power," he
breathed. He pointed to another inscription of the opposite wall, a large carving
depicting the talisman in accurate detail.
"And this is what's inside the dome in this picture here?" asked the Doctor.
Rint nodded slowly. "It was this which brought down the retribution of the gods
upon us. The war raged for many generations, until finally all our society was utterly
destroyed. The land was laid waste. It remains barren to this day."
The next series of carvings depicted warring armies, and scenes of great carnage
and devastation, probably the simplistic representation of a nuclear holocaust.
Certainly, this was the land being laid waste – but that was thousands of years ago.
The soil ought to have regenerated itself centuries ago. There was no longer any
radiation to speak of.
But there was the talisman – presumably still buried beneath the dome. Of
course! Just as on Keladin, its energies were poisoning the land.
The Doctor continued his examination of the inscriptions. In the centre of the war
scenes was another illustration of the dome – this time, the circular walls of the cavern
surrounded it. Energy continued to radiate from the spire, but it was deflected
downwards at the surface of the dome itself. Inside the dome, the triangular shape of
the talisman appeared to be on fire. "What's happening here?" he wondered.
Rint spoke quietly, as if strangely overawed. "Some of our ancestors realized that
the power was evil. It was not for mortal men to wield. So they created this place, to
contain the power, to reflect it back on itself so that evil would be destroyed. In this
way, they hoped to appease the gods."
"No. The war continued – and the land is still dead."
The Doctor reflected on the story. If what Rint said were true, then the cavern, the
surrounding caves and system of tunnels were all part of a massive man-made
structure – a phenomenal feat of engineering. And as for its purpose... Could he
really believe what Rint was telling him? "What about the talisman?" he asked.
"Does it still exist?"
"So my father told me," Rint replied. "It is inside the dome, buried under the
Looking closely at the carvings again, the Doctor wondered aloud: "The entire
cavern... Some sort of energy reflector... If it means what I think it does..."
"Who are you?" Rint interrupted him.
"I told you, I'm the Doctor. I'm a traveller."
Rint shook his head, and gestured at the talisman still held in the Doctor's hand.
"You carry the symbol of power. Are you... one of the gods?"
The Doctor laughed. "Good gracious, no. I'm just someone who picks up the
He dropped the talisman back into his pocket. Then he smiled, and clapped Rint
encouragingly on the arm. "Come on, I think I know what the answer is."
"Where are we going?" asked Rint.
"Back to the cavern. I need to get a closer look at that dome."
He started briskly back along the corridor, but Rint hesitated to follow. "What
about the Daleks? They will be waiting."
"Then we'll have to be very quiet." The Doctor paused, and looked back at Rint.
"Trust me," he said earnestly, "I know what I'm doing."
And strangely, in an instant, Rint did trust him implicitly. He didn't know who
the Doctor was, or where he came from, but there could be absolutely no doubt of his
sincerity – or that he was here to save them. Rint nodded, and gestured along the
gallery in the opposite direction. "There's a quicker route," he said. "This way."
They proceeded along the passage, and Rint opened another hidden panel in the
wall. A steep, narrow spiral stairway took them quickly back to ground level. As
they neared the bottom, the Doctor suddenly staggered and clutched the wall for
support. Rint went to help him. "Are you all right?"
Taking a deep breath, the Doctor nodded. "Just a telepathic contact I wasn't
expecting," he explained. He had recognized the mind of Kralin, reaching out to
locate him far more effectively than the Daleks could.
They reached the bottom of the stone steps, and continued along a narrow tunnel,
eventually arriving at another cave opening in the cavern wall. A series of sloped
ledges below them offered a relatively easy path to the ground. The Doctor surveyed
the scene in the cavern – the excavation pit at the foot of the dome; the large crowd of
prisoners, obviously now comprised of both native tribes, sitting on the floor under
the guns of the Daleks; and approaching from one side, a party of slaves bearing the
solid blue shape of the Tardis on their backs.
In the centre of the cavern stood the Black Dalek and Kralin, the latter holding
Abby firmly by the arm. "Doctor," he shouted out. "I know you're there. As you can
see, I hold all the cards. Why don't you give yourself up?"
"Who's that?" Rint whispered.
"Well," replied the Doctor, "actually that's one of your ancient gods."
Rint peered carefully at the figure standing below, but all he could see was a man.
"I don't understand," he said. "Our gods were made of light and fire."
"That's just how you perceived them," said the Doctor. "They weren't really
gods, Rint, just unbelievably advanced alien beings. Their divine powers were
nothing more than incredibly sophisticated technology. That's what your ancestors
tried to make use of, and in all probability that's what destroyed them. And now
Kralin's here to try and reclaim it, for his own evil purposes."
Rint continued staring at the scene below. It was a lot to take in – and it shattered
a large part of his belief system. And yet he had no doubt that the Doctor was
speaking the truth.
Kralin called out again. "Doctor, I'm sure I can persuade you. Watch this
He nodded to the Black Dalek. At an unspoken command, the Daleks pushed a
few of the prisoners to their feet, and herded them to an open space away from the
others. Then without warning, one of the Daleks fired its weapon. The victim was a
young native warrior, who burst into flame instantly.
"I think we'll kill one every thirty seconds," announced Kralin, "until you come to
Beside him, Rint tensed; the Doctor could sense the violent anger that boiled
within him. At any moment it seemed he might leap out, and attempt to fight the
Daleks single-handed. The Doctor grabbed his arm tightly, and hissed, "Don't do
Rint tried to pull himself free, but the Doctor's grip was like an iron vice. "I can't
stand by and do nothing!"
"No," agreed the Doctor, "but you'll achieve nothing by throwing your life away.
You can't fight weapons like that with your bare hands."
"I destroyed one of them," said Rint defiantly.
"Oh yes. So what are you going to do? Drop large rocks on all of them? You
won't get that chance again."
Rint was breathing heavily, but fought to keep himself calm. The Doctor was
right, he realized. He could achieve nothing in a direct confrontation. He had to
remain at large, to engage the Daleks by more subtle and cunning means. "What do
you think we should do?" he asked.
"Surrender," said the Doctor simply.
Kralin glanced across at the group of hostages, and watched a Dalek taking aim at the
next selected victim, a maternal-looking woman. She cowered on the ground, looking
up at the Dalek in terror. With gleeful anticipation, Kralin observed the fear
spreading across her face. With a perception of events not bound by the usual passage
of time, he could see each tiny change in her nerves and blood vessels; he could hear
the minute ticking sound as the Dalek's gun powered up to open fire.
Then a voice called across the cavern. "Stop!"
Kralin whirled round to see the Doctor standing on a ledge in the cavern wall, a
few hundred metres away. Beside him was a native warrior – not one of Taril's
people, Kralin noted dispassionately, so presumably one of the Tribe of Malfin.
"All right, Kralin," the Doctor shouted, "we're coming down."
They started to clamber down a series of sloped ledges. The Black Dalek
despatched two of his subordinates to collect them.
With a surge of disappointment, Kralin glanced back at the native woman – he
could see her relief at being so narrowly spared. Let her enjoy the moment, he
thought. There would be plenty of death and destruction to follow. It was his time
now. Finally, his quest was coming to an end.
Reaching ground level, Rint and the Doctor stood waiting as the Daleks approached.
The young warrior seethed with resentment, unable to comprehend the Doctor's
purpose in surrendering. His every instinct was to fight, to the death if necessary – to
give one's self up was the action of a coward.
He turned uncertainly to the Doctor. "Why are we doing this?" he asked. "What
can we achieve if we are taken prisoner?"
"We can save some of your people from being wantonly slaughtered," said the
Doctor. "That's reason enough."
"My people are not weak," said Rint. "If it is necessary, they will make such a
"It isn't necessary," replied the Doctor quietly. "What good are we skulking
around in the tunnels? If we're to fight the Daleks effectively, we need to be at the
centre of things – and the quickest way to get there is as prisoners."
"Fight them how?" demanded Rint. "You said yourself that we were powerless
against their weapons."
"Only when we fight them on their own terms. There are better ways than brute
force." The Doctor smiled. "We're armed with superior weapons – our knowledge,
and the intelligence to apply it."
Before Rint could ask what he meant, the Daleks were upon them. With threats of
instant death if they stepped out of line, they were escorted back to the centre of the
cavern. Coming to a halt before Kralin and the Black Dalek, the Doctor chose to
ignore them and turned all his attention to the bruised and grimy figure of Abby, still
held in Kralin's grip. "Hello," he said gently. "Are you all right?"
"Just wonderful," said Abby wistfully, smiling in spite of everything. As long as
the Doctor was here, she knew that things were going to work out fine.
With an angry snarl, Kralin flung Abby away from him. She stumbled against the
Doctor, who caught her and steadied her. "A little impatient aren't we, Kralin?" he
"Let's just get on with this," replied Kralin. He held out his hand to reveal his
talisman. "Time to put all our cards on the table."
The Doctor looked from him to the Black Dalek, which held a second talisman in
its manipulator arm. Reaching into his coat pocket, the Doctor produced a third.
"Snap," he said.
Kralin reached out his hand, and snatched it from the Doctor's grasp. "Now what
about the other?" he demanded.
"Inside my ship."
"I figured as much." Kralin gestured towards the Tardis. "As you can see, I've
saved you the walk. Now open it and bring us the talisman."
When the Doctor seemed to hesitate for just a moment, the Black Dalek moved
forward. "You will comply," it screeched, "or we will exterminate your companion."
"Oh well, if you put it like that." The Doctor shrugged, and took the Tardis key
from his pocket.
As he moved towards the police box, Abby called out: "Doctor, don't do it. Don't
give in to them." Even as she spoke, she was aware of two Daleks turning towards
her, as if in response to silent orders. She tried to put on a brave face, but knew she
was failing miserably.
The Doctor turned back to face her. "I don't have a lot of choice, do I?" he
murmured softly. Then he opened the Tardis door, and disappeared inside. The
nearest two Daleks moved closer, and stood flanking the door.
A few seconds later, he emerged with the fourth talisman in his hand. "Who
wants this, then?" he asked.
"Give it to me," said Kralin.
"No," snapped the Black Dalek. "Give it to us."
With two Dalek guns trained on him, the Doctor didn't feel he had much choice.
He placed the talisman into the manipulator of the nearest Dalek. "Seems like your
allies still don't trust you, Kralin," he said lightly.
"Don't try and provoke a rift between us, Doctor," warned Kralin. "We have
reached our agreement. We each know where the other stands."
The Doctor said nothing. He walked slowly back to stand beside Abby and Rint.
Smiling jubilantly, Kralin said, "Now, who's for an archaeological expedition?"
They descended into the excavation pit, stumbling down the broken rock and loose
soil of its slopes. Kralin led the way, holding his two talismans out before him with
an air of reverence. Abby, aching and tired from her earlier mistreatments, held onto
the Doctor's arm for support. The were accompanied by Rint; and Taril, the chieftain
of the Seklan tribe, whom Kralin had personally summoned from amongst the crowd
of prisoners to attend him. The two natives glared menacingly at each other, and
Abby realized that there was no love lost between the two tribes.
Behind them came the Black Dalek and two of its subordinates. They travelled on
wide metal discs that hovered above the ground with a harsh buzzing sound, smaller
versions of the flying machine that had pursued the Doctor earlier.
Reaching the floor of the pit, the Daleks dismounted their machines and moved
forward to the newly-exposed entrance. They trained their weapons on the door, and
opened fire, pouring beams of raw energy into the stone. It started to glow red, and
then to melt. Finally, it was vaporized, leaving behind no trace but for billowing
clouds of smoke.
Even before it had cleared, Kralin was striding through the smoke and into the
dome. The Doctor and Abby followed – but Rint and Taril both hesitated on the
threshold. Weighed down by primal fears and superstitions, or simply too much
respect for their ancestors, they were reluctant to trespass in a place of legend. Only
the pressure of the Daleks at their backs, literally forcing them to enter, made them
eventually proceed inside.
The interior of the dome was a single vast chamber. The walls were smooth and
almost featureless – on closer inspection, Abby could make out a pattern of crystals
inlaid in the stone. From the ceiling a huge rod of coppery metal descended – the
lower part of the great spire that extended from the building's roof. It came down to a
height of about three metres above the floor. Positioned directly beneath it, in the
dead centre of the floor, was a stone plinth on which rested the fifth and final
Striding up to the pedestal, Kralin gazed at the talisman with a look of smug
satisfaction. He placed his own two matching artefacts on either side of it, then
looked up invitingly at the Black Dalek. "We need all five pieces," he said.
The Dalek glided to the plinth, the remaining talismans gripped in its manipulator
arm. It turned its eye lens to regard Kralin carefully. "You will abide by the terms of
our agreement," it screeched, "or you will be exterminated."
"Of course," snapped Kralin impatiently.
But still the Black Dalek did not seem convinced, and continued to glare through
its cold electronic eye. For his part, Kralin seemed completely unconcerned by the
scrutiny; his reaction was simply a growing irritation at the Black Dalek's
procrastination. As their impasse continued, Abby glanced around the chamber. The
other two Daleks had advanced carefully to the centre, one taking up position just
behind the Black Dalek, the other stopping close to Kralin's side. If the implied threat
had any effect on him, he didn't show it.
Rint and Taril cowered just inside the entrance, too overawed to move closer to
the central plinth. Not even the appearance of another two Daleks in the doorway –
reinforcements summoned to cut off any chance of escape – could stir them into
But the Doctor's behaviour was the most unexpected. He seemed to take no
interest in the confrontation between Kralin and the Daleks, and was instead occupied
in a close examination of the crystal pattern in the walls. Catching Abby's eye, he
smiled apologetically, and moved towards the pedestal.
Kralin and the Black Dalek seemed to have come to an agreement at last. All five
talismans were now resting upon the plinth; only minute differences in the crystal
tracery of their surfaces could distinguish one from another. "We have done as you
wanted," said the Black Dalek cautiously. "You will now give us the secret of time
"I will," Kralin affirmed. "But first, these five components must be reassembled
into the whole. This will unlock the power necessary to provide you with unlimited
time travel. Not merely following energy distortion patterns through the time vortex.
This will enable the development of technology to ensure complete navigational
freedom and directional control."
He reached a hand out towards the talismans; but was halted by another shout
from the Black Dalek. "Stop! We must ascertain that you are not attempting to
"Oh really?" snapped Kralin irritably. "And just how do you intend doing that? I
know that trust is alien to your nature, but just this once you're going to have to try."
The Black Dalek said, "The Doctor will confirm the veracity of your statements."
It turned its head to face the Doctor, who smiled broadly. "Calling in the expert
witness?" he asked.
Kralin gave an exasperated cry. "Are you fools? You can't trust him. He's
already tried to sabotage your time travel experiments."
"But the Doctor has nothing to gain by lying," replied the Black Dalek. "If he
allows you to deceive us, he will be exterminated along with you."
Kralin shook his head angrily. "You can't apply such simple logic to the Doctor.
He's a born martyr. He would rather die than allow you to triumph."
The Black Dalek seemed to consider this statement carefully, turning its head
slowly from Kralin to the Doctor. Finally, it said, "Then we will persuade him in
other ways. Kill the female!"
In response to the order, one of the Daleks advanced from the doorway, turning its
weapon upon Abby. She tried to face it stoically – she would be letting the Doctor
down if she panicked now – but she couldn't help herself backing away and casting a
desperate glance at him. All the time, the Dalek came closer and prepared to fire.
"Stop!" called the Doctor. He looked helplessly at the Black Dalek, and nodded
his acquiescence. Casting his eyes down forlornly, he said, "He's telling the truth.
The talismans must be recombined to unlock the power of time travel."
The Black Dalek seemed satisfied with this pronouncement. It issued silent
instructions, and the Dalek covering Abby backed off. Then it turned to Kralin, and
snapped, "You will proceed."
Kralin nodded. He gave the Doctor a brief curious glance, and then reached out
once more towards the five talismans. He held his hands above the artefacts, and
closed his eyes, whispering to himself as if repeating some ancient litany.
The crystal patterns on each talisman began to sparkle and shimmer with ethereal
light. A strange, high-pitched shrieking sound filled the chamber, and the five
medallions lifted into the air. The noise increased in intensity as they converged into
a burst of bright light, that momentarily blinded them all.
Then the sound cut off completely. The light faded to reveal a single metal and
crystal talisman – a spherical shape larger than the sum of its components – floating in
the air above the pedestal.
Kralin threw back his head, and laughed. "At last," he cried. "After fifty
millennia, the pentalisman is restored. All power is mine."
The Black Dalek backed away a few metres, and regarded him closely. "Now you
will give us the secret of time travel," it insisted.
Kralin merely continued to laugh. "I will show you such secrets," he said. He
looked to the Doctor, who had moved away to stand beside the wall once more. The
inlaid crystals were now glowing with a rhythmic, pulsing energy.
"You know," said the Doctor casually, "I think all this still works. Which is quite
impressive, really." He turned, and smiled apologetically at the Black Dalek. "I don't
suppose Kralin told you about this, did he?"
"What do you mean?" screeched the Dalek. "What is the function of this crystal
"I'll show you, shall I?" replied Kralin.
He raised his hand, and reached out to touch the pentalisman. At once, the wall
crystals flared brilliantly, and a mass of luminescent particles formed around the
central spire. The Doctor glanced upwards for a second, and then suddenly sprinted
across the room, leaping past the Daleks before they could react. He grabbed hold of
Abby, and bore her to the ground, at the same time shouting at Rint and Taril to take
cover. The urgency of his words finally overcame their superstitious awe, and
galvanized the enemy chieftains into action. They threw themselves to the floor, just
as all hell broke loose.
With a mighty roar, the glowing particles fell away from the spire, crashing down
into the chamber like an avalanche. They formed themselves into searing beams of
energy that swooped around the interior of the dome. One beam passed right through
the Black Dalek, causing smoke and flame to erupt from within its casing. It started
to spin out of control, skittering across the chamber to crash into the wall, where it
exploded. Another Dalek was set on fire, and the third sliced clean in two by the bolts
of light. The two Daleks in the doorway were picked up by a wave of energy and
hurled back out into the excavation pit.
The Doctor crawled towards Rint. "Now's your chance," he shouted above the
din. Rint did not need telling twice. With a nod of thanks, he scrambled to his feet
and ran from the dome. The Doctor glanced at Taril, but he was still cowering in
abject terror and incomprehension.
As the energy bolts faded from the chamber, the Doctor cautiously stood up, and
reached out a hand to help Abby. He turned to face Kralin, who still stood on the
other side of the central plinth, the pentalisman hovering in the air before him.
Chuckling in satisfaction, Kralin regarded the Doctor closely, as if seeing him for
the first time. "I'm intrigued, Doctor," he said. "I realized you understood what I was
going to do – but you could have stopped it with a single word of warning."
"Ah well," replied the Doctor, "I've always been good at choosing the right side –
the winning side."
"I can see I've misjudged you," said Kralin. "Perhaps you can serve me."
"I was thinking the same thing." The Doctor took a step closer, and looked upon
the pentalisman in awe. "So now the power of the luminants is restored to you."
Kralin nodded. "I am a god," he said simply. "And I will reshape the universe in
my own image."
Rint scrambled past the smouldering wreckage of the two Daleks in the pit, and
dragged himself up the slope to the floor of the cavern. Awaiting him was a scene of
confusion and destruction.
Beams of energy were shooting out from the dome's copper spire, flying around
the cavern. Where the beams struck the walls and floor of the cavern, great chunks of
rock were ripped out and flung into the air. Above him, the cavern roof had cracked;
some sections had fallen in, revealing the sky.
The people of both tribes were running about in panic. There was nowhere to
hide, the deadly beams could reach right across the cavern. When one struck nearby,
bodies were hurled into the air along with the rock, to fall back to the ground broken
and crumpled like dolls.
But the Daleks were coming off the worst. The energy seemed particularly
directed at them; their casings, crushed, shattered or burning, lay littered about the
cavern. Even those Daleks that had not been destroyed seemed to have been affected.
They were moving round sluggishly and disoriented, blundering into rocks and
A figure ran blindly past Rint, a young Malfin warrior called Vaso. Rint grabbed
hold of his arm, and brought him staggering to a halt. Vaso spun round instinctively,
ready to lash out at an attacker. Rint deflected the blow, and shook the warrior
vigorously. "Vaso, it's me!"
"Rint..." Vaso nodded, finally recognizing him. "We've got to get away –
quickly, before we all die."
"No, we've got to fight. This is our only chance to destroy the monsters."
"We can't fight them! They're invincible."
"No, they're not," said Rint determinedly. "Follow me. Are you a warrior or a
For a moment longer, Vaso hesitated. Then he nodded. They set off at a run
across the cavern towards the nearest Dalek. It was moving with jerky, unpredictable
motions, but somehow managing to menace a group of natives who cowered before it.
The Dalek fired random blasts from its gun, shooting over their heads without any
Grabbing hold of a large rock, Rint leapt onto the Dalek's back. He started to
hammer at its domed head. The Dalek responded by whirling round, trying to throw
him off – but Rint clung on desperately. Vaso ran forward and grappled with the
Dalek, trying to wrestle control of its gun and point it away from any of the others.
As Rint continued to bash away at its head, sparks started to fly from the joints in
the Dalek's metal casing. Then flames started to lick round its head. The Dalek
swung round wildly, sending Vaso flying to the ground. A flicker of light caught
Rint's eye, and he quickly dropped from the Dalek's back, shoving it firmly into the
path of the next energy burst from the spire. The Dalek burst into flame, and was
flung into the air in an eruption of dust and rock.
The group of natives cheered. Rint turned towards them, and shouted, "Our
enemies are mortal. They can be killed just like the beasts of the plain. You men,
join me now – fight for your freedom, fight for your lives!"
They cheered again. A few held back with the women and children, but most of
the men moved forward to join Rint, picking up whatever they could use as a weapon
– men of both tribes, standing and fighting together to rid Lorina of the metal
With screams and battle-cries, they ran headlong towards the nearest surviving
Abby regarded the Doctor fearfully. His sudden conversion to Kralin's loyal follower
was unexpected and frightening. Maybe he wasn't the man she'd thought he was, one
who would stand up in the face of evil and oppression, even at the risk of his own life.
Now it looked as if he just wanted to save his own skin, and would make any
allegiance to do that.
She watched him gaze at Kralin with wonder and appreciation. "How will you
begin your great work?" he asked, awestruck. "Surely the universe needs some sign
of your power?"
Kralin seemed to bask in the admiration. But he shrugged his shoulders. "I have
no need of haste," he said. "Nothing in the universe can resist me now. My will is
absolute. Besides, you have just seen a demonstration of my power."
The Doctor snorted derisively. "Destroying a few Daleks? That's just like
swatting insects." Suddenly, his tone changed again, and he was berating Kralin.
"What does that prove to anyone? Show us something magnificent. Alter the very
fabric of nature."
Kralin seemed to hesitate, and the Doctor continued to goad him. "Come on,
you're a god! Why don't you give us a miracle?"
"What do you suggest?" snapped Kralin angrily.
"What about the planet out there? You could remove the poison, regenerate the
soil – make everything grow again." The Doctor frowned. "That's if you can..."
"I can," replied Kralin. "I can do anything." He reached out towards the
pentalisman. "Very well, I will do it."
The pentalisman glowed brilliantly, and a stream of particles flowed up the
outside of the spire and through the roof of the dome. "It is done," Kralin said.
"Does that satisfy you?"
"Oh yes," replied the Doctor, "thank you very much."
Abby was suddenly aware of a movement beside her. She turned to see the native
chief Taril climb uncertainly to his feet. He walked forward to the central plinth, and
stood beside the Doctor, facing Kralin.
"Ah, Taril," Kralin said expansively. "Come to pay me your respects?"
Taril glared at him with pure hatred and loathing. "I come to curse you," he said.
"Careful now. I'm the messenger of the gods."
"You are a false prophet," Taril cried. "You have brought evil and destruction
down upon us."
"And after I've restored life to your miserable little planet," Kralin shouted.
"Well, where I can create, I can also destroy. You shall see the true extent of my
powers now. I will wipe out all life on Lorina."
"No!" snapped the Doctor. He made to jump forward, but Kralin was already
stretching out his hand to the pentalisman...
Then the air started to fill with light. Not the brilliant flare of the pentalisman, not
the shimmering of energy particles around the spire – this was a different kind of light
entirely. At first, it was just like the sun shining into a shaded room, visible only
where it illuminated motes of dust floating in the air – but there were no windows in
the dome. Then as Abby watched in amazement, the light grew brighter, yet still
came from nowhere. The dust coalesced within the beams, forming into shapes that
were just barely discernable as variations of light and shadow. By now, the light was
flooding the chamber, almost blinding them. Abby screwed up her eyes, holding her
hand in front of her face, but she could do little to keep out such an intense glare.
She just caught sight of Taril, fallen whimpering to his knees in terror. Beside
her, the Doctor stood gazing at the light in wonder. But it was Kralin who was most
affected. The light seemed to gather around him – the shadows of dust suspended
within it now seemed to be the vague outlines of four humanoid shapes, standing in a
group around him.
"No!" Kralin screamed. "Why are you here now? Why have you returned?"
And the shapes spoke – a deep, resonant voice that was four voices at once. It
seemed to come out of the light itself, filling the entire dome. "We are one with the
pentalisman. We were summoned by its reconstitution."
Kralin seemed close to panic. "But you... You went away..."
"We passed into the shadow realms – between this reality and the next. Our time
in the corporeal world was at an end." The light shimmered. Kralin tried to back
away, but the shadows were pressing all around him. "You should have come with
us, Kralin," boomed the voice. "You should not have stayed behind."
"But we were gods," Kralin said. "Our work was unfinished. Where there was so
much chaos, we should have brought order. It was our destiny."
"No, Kralin. The mortal races we had nurtured – it was their destiny to inherit the
universe. Ours was to stand aside. It was the decision of the five. We had always
existed in unity until the day you turned against us."
There was fear in Kralin's voice as he replied. "But why have you come back?"
"We have come for you, Kralin. It is time for you to join us at last."
"No," Kralin cried desperately. He pointed to the pentalisman. "Don't you see? I
brought you back. Now we can claim mastery of the universe, as the gods we are. It
is our time now."
"Our time has passed," said the voice patiently. "We have watched from the
shadows. And we have seen exactly that which we foretold. The mortal races have
inherited the universe. They have no need of gods now."
"Well, we can change that," said Kralin. "When they see our power, they will
have to worship us."
"No, Kralin. We are nothing but legend now. We no longer belong in the
corporeal realm. We will return to shadow."
"I will not," shouted Kralin defiantly. There was madness in his eyes. "You are
old and weak. If you will not join me, I will destroy you all." He reached out and
took hold of the pentalisman. It started to glow, a bright piercing light that shone out
even through the all-suffusing glare. A high-pitched whining sound filled the
The last surviving Dalek was pushed over the edge of the excavation pit. Tumbling
down the slope, its head was stove in on an outcrop of rock, and flames burst from
within its casing. Rint stood at the edge of the pit, and raised his fist triumphantly
over his head. Who would deny his right to be chieftain now?
Through the cheering of the warriors, he discerned a strange and unfamiliar noise.
He looked up, seeking its source – and realized that it was coming from the very walls
of the cavern. It was a deep, rumbling sound, like thunder.
Then suddenly, flashes of lightning started to burst from the walls, streaking
across the cavern towards the dome. Rint threw himself to the ground, warning the
others to protect themselves. As the tribespeople scrambled for cover, more lightning
shot out from the walls, growing in intensity and discharging massive bolts of energy
into the surface of the dome.
The walls of the dome started to crack. Violent streaks of lightning broke through the
gaps, slamming into the surface of the pentalisman. Jolted by the massive surge of
energy, Kralin dropped the artefact. It crashed onto the central plinth. The lightning
continued remorselessly to slam into it.
The pentalisman shone brilliantly white, then turned the darkest black and
crumbled into dust. Kralin staggered back from the pedestal, and sank heavily to his
knees. Before Abby's astonished eyes, his physical form faded away, dissolving into
a dusty shadow like the other four.
The light around the shapes started to dim. The voice of the shadows was dying
away. Abby caught its words on the edge of her hearing. "Our power is gone. We
are legend now."
The light faded, and the shadows were gone, leaving nothing but motes of dust
floating in the air. Abby walked forward to the central plinth, but there was nothing
left to see. She turned to the Doctor in bewilderment. "What happened?"
The Doctor smiled. "Ah well, I studied the legends of this planet, and worked it
all out. The ancient Lorinans found the talisman here and learnt how to harness its
power. This building, this dome is a giant energy focusing device – to turn the power
of the talisman into a giant weapon."
"That's how Kralin destroyed the Daleks," Abby realized.
"That's right," the Doctor said. "But you see, ancient Lorina was more advanced
than anyone has ever realized. They didn't just appropriate luminant technology, they
superseded it. The cavern outside is a huge man-made structure that functions as a
negative energy reflector. It focuses the energy of the talisman back on itself. I
realized that if Kralin unleashed enough power from the pentalisman, the reflection
would destroy it."
"So that's why you pretended to be his follower," said Abby. "To persuade him
to keep going until he destroyed the pentalisman."
"That's right. Of course, I wasn't quite expecting the other luminants to put in an
"Is that what they were?" breathed Abby. "And they took Kralin with them?"
"Into shadow," said the Doctor wistfully. "Into legend. With the pentalisman
gone, their link with this corporeal realm was severed. They quite literally faded
He kicked idly at the dust that covered the floor, the only physical trace of the
luminants' existence. "They're strange beings, immortals. They have a different
view of life, so they don't have morals and ethical codes like we do. That's why they
felt no compunction about messing around with the evolution of the universe. But
they also perceive time as a whole – past, present and future combined. It makes
them more fatalistic, willing to accept change."
"Apart from Kralin," said Abby. "All this happened because he couldn't accept
"Well, no one's perfect," replied the Doctor. "Not even self-proclaimed gods."
A figure appeared through the dust in the doorway. Rint stepped into the
chamber, and looked around the dome. "What's happened?" he asked.
"Hello, Rint." The Doctor smiled. "Where are the Daleks?"
"Then you've freed your world," the Doctor said. "Now your task is to make it
"I don't understand."
"The final gift of your ancient gods," replied the Doctor. "The soil has been
reborn. It's there for you to cultivate. You, and your descendants, must now strive to
rebuild your civilization."
"We will," said Rint. He turned to look at Taril, who was slowly staggering to his
feet. "The two tribes are joined as one. Will you work with me, to make our world
"Yes," said Taril. "With the Doctor's guidance, we will succeed. Do you not
see? He is the stranger from the stars foretold in the prophecy – the true messenger of
"I think you're mistaking me for someone else," the Doctor said.
But Taril would not be dissuaded. "Has he not appeased the anger of the gods?
Has he not reunited our two tribes as one? Just as our holy writings predicted."
Rint sighed in exasperation. "It's your prophecies that got us into this mess," he
said. "We must stop looking to the writings of the past to guide our destiny. Our duty
is to create our own future. To use science and technology for the good of our people,
as our ancestors once did."
It looked as if the argument might rage for some time. Abby felt the Doctor
gently take her arm, and guide her out through the doorway. "Science versus
superstition," he murmured. "The old battle. Ah well, they'll get over it one day."
"Are we just leaving?" asked Abby.
"It's always best to just slip away. Anyway, I'm likely to get canonized if I stay
around here much longer."
They clambered up the side of the excavation pit, and started to walk across the
cavern floor. The Lorinan tribespeople milled around them, some dancing
triumphantly on the wreckage of the Daleks, others sitting on the floor and praying,
some just asleep from exhaustion. But they seemed far too occupied with their own
lives to pay much attention to two travellers, however strangely they might be
Looking at the charred and battered remnants of the Dalek casings, Abby asked,
"Is that it, then? Have the Daleks been defeated?"
"No," said the Doctor quietly. "Without the talismans, they've lost the ability to
travel in time. But it just means history will revert to its proper course. The Daleks
will still found a huge and oppressive space empire. They'll still try to conquer the
galaxy. But they'll never succeed – they'll be held in check by the strength of the
They walked over to the Tardis, which stood to one side of the cavern. "So where
are we going now?" Abby asked.
"Well," replied the Doctor, "finally I can take you home." He took out the key,
and started to unlock the door.
Abby looked down at her boots. Once again, a feeling of deep disappointment
washed over her at the prospect of leaving the Doctor. She had seen life from a
perspective no one else on Earth could ever understand. How could she ever hope to
return to the humdrum routine of existence after all this?
"What's the matter?" asked the Doctor gently.
"Oh, it's nothing," Abby replied. "Just that the prospect of going home doesn't
seem so exciting any more."
The Doctor ushered her through the door. "Well, there's no reason to go straight
back, is there? As a matter of fact, I was thinking of taking the scenic route."
With a smile, he followed her inside, closing the door behind him. As the Tardis
engines laboured into life, a great mechanical roar echoed through the cavern,
startling the tribespeople who shrank back in fear.
The time machine faded away, and plunged headlong into the chaos of the space-
time continuum – carrying Abby and the Doctor onwards, to untold wonder and
adventure. But that's another story...