The Michaelmas Phantoms
The Great Purpose
Steeling herself to face her feelings of horror and revulsion, Sonia jumped forward and grabbed Starling's body from behind. She somehow managed to pull it away from the Doctor, who fell to the floor, coughing and spluttering.
Sonia found herself fighting a losing battle. The corpse seemed to be filled with a tremendous strength, much more powerful than when Starling had been alive. It broke itself free of her grip, and turned around to attack her. She used karate blows to break its hold upon her, but she was starting to tire. The corpse just kept going.
Brennan came to her aid, wresting the cadaver from her. They used their combined strength to throw it to the floor, where it sprawled unceremoniously. It has down for just a moment, before it made an attempt to get up again. Sonia raised her revolver, and emptied the remaining shots into the body. No good. It staggered to its feet once more.
The Doctor suddenly sprang up. "That won't do any good," he shouted. "He's already dead."
Starling's body turned towards the sound of the Doctor's voice, and resumed its advance upon him.
The Doctor started to rummage in his pockets. He tried to back away along the corridor. The corpse kept marching towards him. "Try to hold him for a little while," the Doctor implored.
Sonia and Brennan took hold of the body again, and pulled it back. It swung around and started to advance upon them.
The Doctor crouched down on the floor. He spread before him his trap device and a number of tools. He started to fiddle with the innards of the mechanism.
With one eye he glanced up to see how the others were getting on. Starling's body had fallen to the floor. The air above it appeared to be distorting.
"Get back, both of you!" the Doctor shouted.
Sonia and Brennan started to run back towards him.
"Behind me!" added the Doctor.
A shape was starting to form above Starling's body - the shape of the monstrous beast that had attacked them earlier.
The Doctor had finished his readjustments. He snatched up the trap, and started to run forward. At the same time the creature pounced, its jaws opening wide to reveal its glinting fangs. The Doctor dropped down onto one knee, and pressed some controls on his device, just as the monster came down upon him.
Instantly, a cone of red light shot out of the trap, surrounding and engulfing the beast. Within the cone, its shape seemed to contort and twist, and collapse in upon itself. Then the cone shrank bank to a point of light, compressing the creature within it, until finally there was nothing left. The Doctor sat back with a sigh of relief.
"What did you do?" asked Brennan.
The Doctor smiled. "Well, I simply modified my trap a little. That thing was just another psychic projection, only rather more powerful. I guessed that it would be created with temporal energy, like the others. Rather than trying to trap it, I just modulated the interference pattern to cut it off from its power source."
"The particle accelerator?" Sonia put in.
"But I thought it couldn't run at this time of day."
"That thought had crossed my mind," the Doctor admitted. "It was possible that the alien had such mental powers that it could create a solid projection without drawing on an external energy source. In that case, my device wouldn't have had any effect."
"You took quite a gamble," said Brennan. "You might have been killed."
"Yes," said the Doctor, "I suppose I might."
"As a matter of interest," said Brennan, "why weren't you strangled to death? There can't be many people who'd survive being throttled like that."
"Ah," the Doctor replied, "there can't be many people who have a respiratory bypass system." He got to his feet, and surveyed the damage. The body of Starling lay sprawled further down the corridor. Through the door of the examination room could be seen Jackson lying in a pool of his own blood, his throat torn open.
"I suppose I ought to call for help to clear all this up," said Brennan. "God knows how I'm going to explain it all."
Sonia shook her head. "Remember," she said, "we don't want to involve
anyone else. I'll call for a UNIT clear up team, we'll sort it all out.
We'd better seal off this area."
The Doctor had survived. Anger and hatred consumed the alien's thoughts. How the Doctor took pride in his intellect, his ingenuity. He had defeated one attempt on his life. It did not matter. The Doctor would not be able to halt the Great Purpose. An eternity of waiting would not end in failure.
Let the Doctor enjoy his victory while he could. It would be his last. The final conclusion was inevitable. There was not enough power to waste on another attempt. The Doctor could live for now. He would be destroyed along with the inhabitants of this world.
There was another threat in the being called Wells. He was the only one who understood the chronon technology. Saunders had known that, his memories were full of respect for Wells's knowledge.
Wells had to be eliminated. His technical expertise was a threat. The Great Purpose regrettably relied upon this frail technology.
There was enough power remaining to animate one more psychic projection,
and still allow the Great Purpose to proceed. Wells's mind could not be
felt as strongly as the Doctor's. But the projection would be imbued with a
violently murderous intent, to kill all those in the area. Wells would
inevitably be among its victims.
Colin staggered to his feet. His head felt like someone had dropped an anvil on it. Someone probably had.
He looked around the room. It was deserted. He could have sworn there had been someone else here.
Gradually he became aware of a hum of power in the background. Someone was operating the accelerator. Colin glanced at his watch. It was getting on for lunch time. He hadn't been unconscious for long. How could someone be operating the accelerator at this time?
He went to the door of the accelerator chamber. It was shut solid, its electric hinges locked from the inside. He tried to tap on the door, but he knew that no one would hear him through the heavy shielding, particularly not with the noise on the other side.
Saunders had been here. Colin had thought it was just an hallucination. But it had to be Saunders on the other side of the door. What was he playing at? Running the accelerator at this time? Perhaps desperately trying to prove his theories right before the Doctor called the entire project to a halt.
Saunders had to be using the reserve batteries. But there wasn't enough power in those to make a full controlled test. By the time he had everything running at full velocity, the electromagnets would shut down, and the chronon stream would escape containment.
Maybe that was Saunders's intention - to destroy the entire project and himself with it, rather than see it dismantled. The Doctor had to be alerted to this menace, before it was too late.
Colin reached for the telephone. As he lifted the handset, he suddenly
remembered Rhonwen. She had been kidnapped. That was something else to tell
the Doctor about. Colin strained to remember the number of Sonia McIntyre's
cellphone. It was only ten or eleven digits, and he was usually good with
figures. Please, he thought, let me get it right.
Sonia marched back into the hospital lobby. Brennan was close behind her. They had just completed a most infuriating meeting with the hospital's administrator, who had objected most strongly to the mortuary being sealed and a security clampdown being enforced on the entire hospital.
He had demanded to know what was going on. Sonia had quoted Official Secrets and left it at that. It was policy in such matters not to inform the public of the truth. That didn't stop the witnesses squawking of course. She wouldn't be surprised if the gutter press got hold of a garbled version of the story.
They found the Doctor sitting in the lobby, staring into an ornamental fountain. The basin of the fountain contained a few coins, charitable donations. The Doctor reached into one of his pockets and produced a few brightly coloured polygons of some well polished semi-precious stone. He casually tossed them into the fountain.
"Doctor," Sonia said.
The Doctor looked up. "Finished?" he asked.
Sonia nodded. "Where now? The library?"
Before the Doctor could reply, Sonia's cellphone started to ring. She took it out and held it to her ear. "McIn-" she began, and was obviously interrupted by an urgent voice on the other end. "Yes, he is." She handed the phone to the Doctor.
"Hello?" he began.
It was Colin. His words seemed to be gushing out, tripping over one another.
"One thing at a time, Colin," the Doctor implored.
"I'm sorry, Doctor," Colin said. "It's Professor Saunders. He's here now, and he's running the accelerator. He's locked the door."
"How can he run it without the power source?"
"There's an emergency reserve battery," explained Colin. "It contains about enough power for two hours. It was necessary in case there was a power cut. We would need the two hours to keep the electromagnets running for a controlled shutdown."
"Yes, of course," said the Doctor. "I should have realized."
"The thing I don't understand," said Colin, "is what he hopes to achieve. Two hours isn't enough for a proper test."
"It would be enough to cause a temporal meltdown," the Doctor pointed out.
"I know. But do you really think Saunders would do that?"
"Maybe Saunders wouldn't," murmured the Doctor. "I was expecting something like this. Stay there, Colin, we're coming right over."
"There's something else," added Colin, hesitantly.
"What is it?"
"We had a visit here earlier. Two men in black suits. It must have been the two Rhonwen told us about."
"Yes," said the Doctor, "I was wondering if they'd try something. What did they want?"
"I don't know, they zapped me with some ray gun." Colin paused. It was difficult to tell the Doctor this. "I think they took Rhonwen."
"When I woke up," said Colin, "there was no sign of her. I'm sorry, Doctor."
"All right, Colin," the Doctor replied. "We'll be with you shortly."
He handed the cellphone back to Sonia. He was angry with himself. He should have expected the Silencers to try something like this - they had already made one attempt to kill him. Trying to get at him through his companion was an obvious tactic. And yet he hadn't foreseen it. His own agreeable nature couldn't conceive of such an underhand action. If anything happened to Rhonwen, he would never forgive himself.
He jumped to his feet. "Come on," he snapped, "there's not a moment to
lose." He was already running for the exit. Sonia and Brennan struggled to
keep up with him.
Thomasine slid the book back onto the shelf. She looked at the pile of books still in her arms. It would take her a while to return them all to their places.
She stopped and staggered a little, and leant against the nearest row of shelves. She winced as a sudden pain shot through her head. She didn't normally get headaches this early in the day.
There was a thudding and clattering about her feet. Thomasine looked down in surprise to see that she had dropped her books. Her head suddenly lolled forward and her entire body slumped.
It took her a couple of seconds to regain her balance. What was the
matter with her? She left the fallen books, and staggered back to her desk.
She thought perhaps she might make it before she collapsed.
Wells pushed open the door to the staircase. No one was about on this floor. He was fortunate. He did not want to be delayed by the need to answer awkward questions. He had already left it a long time before contacting the Doctor, employing his mind in futile and circuitous debate. There was only one conclusion he could reach, and the Doctor had probably known that when he had made the offer in the first place.
Wells started to descend the stairs. When he reached the ground floor, he saw a couple of students through an open doorway, looking at the books on the shelves, or working at the desks. They paid him no heed. He supposed they had no reason to be suspicious of him. Once down here, he looked like any other library user.
Wells walked towards the front door, passing the open entrance to the office of the librarian. If she saw him, she would be bound to recognize him after the fright he had given her a couple of nights ago. It could not be helped. Nor, at this point, did it really matter.
As he passed the office, Wells could not help glancing inside. He saw a number of books strewn haphazardly across the floor, as if dropped. And the librarian herself was leaning against her desk. From her expression, it was clear that she was in some pain.
Wells wrestled with his conscience. It would be so easy now to slip out unseen. Yet the woman was in distress, and he felt he ought to do something. He took a step or two into the office. "Are you all right?" he asked.
Thomasine slowly turned her head to look at him. She seemed to have some difficulty focusing, and screwed up her eyes to make out his face. Wells expected her to react with fright and surprise upon seeing him.
But instead, she suddenly slumped into a faint. Wells jumped forward and caught her in his arms before she hit herself hard on the desk.
Thomasine's faint lasted only a moment or so. She extricated herself from Wells's grip. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know what came over me." She steadied herself against the desk. "You're Doctor Wells, aren't you?"
Thomasine closed her eyes to try and shut out the pain. Talking seemed to help, so she went on. "Colin told me it was you. Did you know the Doctor's looking for you?"
"Yes," said Wells. "I am on my way to see him."
There was suddenly a scream from the room across the hall. Wells turned around and ran to the door.
From the room opposite, he saw the two students running in terror. They had left their books and bags behind in their flight. Wells could not see anything they were running from.
One of the students, a young woman, suddenly fell flat on her face, as if pushed down by some huge force. As Wells watched, a shape started to form over her. Within seconds it had solidified as a slavering beast, the size of a large dog. It had rows of vicious fangs, claws and a spine covered back.
The woman began to scream and struggled to pull herself upright. The beast lunged forward and struck out with one of it claws, gashing the side of her head and knocking her onto her back. Then it was upon her, tearing at her throat with its fangs. Blood started to spurt from the wound.
Wells looked for escape routes. The other student, a young man, was at the front door, wrenching it open in panic. Wells did not know whether they could both make it outside before the beast pounced.
He soon found out. The creature leapt towards the door, slamming into it with tremendous force. The door was pushed hard shut, trapping the student between the door and the jamb. The breath was crushed out of him. The monster released its pressure, and the student fell back into the hall. As he hit the floor, the beast lashed out with a savage claw, and tore open his stomach.
The beast turned to face Wells, gnashing its fangs. But Wells was already running for the stairs. Perhaps he could get out onto the scaffolding, and escape that way.
He slipped in the pool of blood that had spurted from the mutilated throat of the young woman. He lost his balance, and came crashing down to the floor. He managed to pull himself around to face the door, scrabbling and sliding amidst the spilled blood. The monster was still standing by the door, watching him as if biding its time. It could pounce at any moment. Wells suspected that it would make its attack as soon as he made a concerted effort to get to his feet.
Suddenly, Thomasine came out of her office. Seemingly oblivious to the danger, she stood directly between Wells and the monster. Her eyes were glazed over, clouded with immense pain. Wells didn't think she could see anything.
The creature pounced, straight for Thomasine. Wells wanted to look away, but some morbid fascination kept his eyes fixed upon her. She just stood there, oblivious to its approach.
Wells could not believe what happened next. As soon as it touched Thomasine, the beast seemed to become insubstantial. At first, it appeared to be passing through her body. But it never completed its leap. Its body faded out of existence before it could touch the ground once more.
Thomasine crumpled to the floor. Wells remained where he was sprawled for a long while, so surprised that he was unable to move. Then gradually, his concern prompted him to action, and he made his way over to where Thomasine lay.
He felt for her vital signs. There was still a pulse. In fact, she seemed to be quite healthy. Thomasine slowly opened her eyes.
"How do you feel?" Wells asked.
"Much better now," she replied. She winced as another sharp pain tore through her head. "Well, not as bad as I was."
Wells looked at the carnage in the hallway. Both students were clearly dead. The woman had lost too much blood. As for the young man, several of his major internal organs had been severely damaged.
"You had better come into the other room," Wells said. He helped Thomasine to stand, and led her over to her office. He put her down on a chair near the door, and then went over to her desk. He picked up the telephone.
"Who are you calling?" asked Thomasine.
"I am trying to find the Doctor," Wells replied.
Thomasine nodded. She closed her eyes, and found that the pain had
almost gone. Strangely enough, her headache seemed to be less acute the
further away Wells was from her.
Leaving Bessie parked on the forecourt, the Doctor hurried up the steps of the Nuclear Physics building. Sonia and Brennan rushed along in his wake.
"It's my own fault," the Doctor said. "I ought to have dealt with them earlier."
"Who are these men in black?" asked Sonia.
"They're known as the Silencers," the Doctor replied. "They recur, in one guise or another, throughout the history of this planet."
As they crossed the foyer towards the stairwell, he went on, "They come from a parallel space/time continuum. In that reality, the human race discovered the secret of time travel many centuries in the future. But they realized the danger of irresponsible time travelling, the risk of altering history. So they immediately placed restrictions on the use of their transfer capsules, only allowing a few properly licensed observers to conduct historical research."
"I don't call kidnapping people historical research," said Sonia.
"No, the Silencers have rather a different purpose. Whenever a rule is made, there's always someone who breaks it. Unlicensed time travel became their biggest problem. People would buy a transfer capsule on the black market, or steal one. People who were bored with their society, or criminals trying to escape into the past. They were called anachronauts."
"Voyagers in the wrong time," said Sonia, betraying a classical education.
"Exactly. The Time Lords started to get concerned, because somehow these anachronauts got into our continuum. There's a crossover point between the two realities, which we haven't been able to properly determine - but it's some time around the end of the twentieth century."
"And the Silencers?" asked Brennan. "Where do they fit in?"
The Doctor explained, "The government of this parallel future Earth established an organization to police history, to track down the anachronauts. Because of this responsible attitude, the Time Lords never bothered to interfere. But the anachronauts usually managed to stay one step ahead of their pursuers. As a result, these policemen took to threatening witnesses of anachronaut incidents, to try and prevent the Time Lords finding out what was going on. That's how they acquired their nickname."
"Evidently you did find out," said Sonia.
The Doctor smiled. "It's a problem, but it hasn't done much damage so far. If things get too bad, the Time Lords will probably intervene. It would be ideal if the crossover point was located and sealed up."
They had descended the stairs, and arrived at the door to the ante-chamber. Brennan asked, "So why are these Silencers after you?"
"I don't know," the Doctor replied. "They could be trying to cover their tracks. When they discovered I was a Time Lord, it would have panicked them. They might have assumed I was checking up on their incompetence."
They entered the control room. Colin was standing beside the heavy door to the accelerator chamber. He looked up in relief. "Thank God you're here," he said. "Professor Saunders is in there."
The Doctor listened carefully, but there was no hum of power in the background. "He isn't running the accelerator now."
"No," said Colin. "It stopped just after I phoned you. He ran it in two short bursts, about fifteen minutes each time."
The Doctor nodded. "That must have been to provide power for psychic projections. One attacked us in the mortuary. I wonder where the other one was."
"Doctor," said Sonia, "I thought these phantoms were invisible. But we could see that one."
"Yes. Before, the projections were coming from within the time vortex, through a break in the continuum. They would have lost a lot of energy making that transference. Now that the alien is here on Earth, the energy loss is reduced, and the things are more deadly."
"But those things are thoughts made flesh?" asked Brennan.
"More or less," said the Doctor.
Brennan shook his head in perverse wonder. "They must be the thoughts of a completely twisted mind."
The Doctor felt there was nothing to add. "Can we get this door open?" he asked.
"The hinge mechanism is on the inside," said Colin. "He must have jammed it."
Sonia took a step forward. "Perhaps I could shoot the lock out," she offered helpfully.
"Do you happen to have a bazooka to hand?" enquired the Doctor. "This door can withstand a major explosion."
Colin raised an eyebrow. "But not a temporal meltdown, I suppose?"
The Doctor shook his head.
Defeat was not possible, not after so long. The Doctor still lived. And now Wells had survived the psychic projection sent to destroy him. But these were setbacks, not defeats. The Great Purpose would still go ahead. The Doctor would see that Purpose revealed as he died.
The alien could sense the mind of the Doctor now, on the far side of the door. So close, and yet beyond reach. The resources were not available to power another autonomous psychic projection to attack the Doctor.
Now, the Great Purpose had to proceed. Let no more time be lost.
Saunders's hands started to reach towards the accelerator controls.
The control room started to throb with power once more. Colin turned instinctively to look at the door, as if somehow he would be able to see what was going on beyond. Anyway, it was obvious. "He's running the accelerator again," Colin said.
The Doctor darted across to the door, and started to examine the hinges. "Maybe we could trip these," he said. "All we need to do is break into the circuit and feed them with power. Get me something electrical - a monitor screen will do - and some lengths of wire."
As Colin rushed to oblige, the telephone on the desk rang. Brennan went to answer it, feeling otherwise rather left out. "It's for you, Doctor," he said.
The Doctor snatched up the telephone hastily. He didn't have time for all these interruptions. "Yes?"
It was Wells. "Doctor," he said, "I have decided to help you."
"Not a moment too soon," replied the Doctor. "Where are you?"
"At the library. I was going to come and see you."
"No, there's no time. We'll come to you. We may need to collect the transfer capsule and bring it back here."
"There is something else, Doctor," Wells continued. "There was a thing here. A monster. It tried to attack me."
So, that was where the other phantom ended up, thought the Doctor. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"Yes," said Wells. "But there have been deaths here."
"Two students. I do not know their names. The librarian and I have survived."
"All right," said the Doctor. "Wait there for us. We'll be over as soon as we can."
He put the telephone down. Colin was waiting by the door, with the monitor screen and wires. The Doctor quickly used his pen laser to fuse and cross wire the innards of the monitor to the electrical hinges.
"This should do the trick," he said. "I'm not sure how much power I should feed in. I don't want to burn out the circuit. I've rigged the monitor's brightness control to act as a rheostat."
He started to turn the control. "Stand back everyone. We don't know what's inside there."
There was an uncertain whirring sound, and the door started to open falteringly. When there was a gap of a couple of inches, a strangely fluid black shape issued around the edge of the door.
"Back, everyone!" called the Doctor.
The shape started to assume a solid form. The rows of glinting fangs appeared first, followed by the rest of the creature. It was the same as the beast that had attacked them in the mortuary.
They scattered to the edges of the control room, trying to find some cover. The monster suddenly pounced, leaping straight for Brennan. He staggered back before it, and tripped, falling backwards into the ante-chamber. The monster sailed through the air towards him, but its appearance had become insubstantial. It started to fade away and disappeared completely before it touched Brennan. The policeman cautiously got to his feet, surprised and relieved to be still alive.
The door to the accelerator chamber had opened further. Now Saunders stood in the doorway.
"That was rather a futile gesture," the Doctor stated. "Of course, you only have a limited range on those projections, without drawing extra power from the accelerator. And you need the accelerator now for something else."
Saunders said, "You cannot halt the Great Purpose, Doctor. Accept your defeat and suffer the consequences." His eyes were blank, and his face like a mask. When he spoke, his lips moved, but there was no expression on his face. He didn't even seem to be breathing. He was like a walking corpse. Sonia shuddered, remembering Peter Starling.
"Who are you?" the Doctor demanded.
"Do you not remember?" said Saunders. "I remember you. You may have changed your appearance, but your mind is unmistakeable. I remember how you triumphed over me. But now, it is I who shall be supreme."
The Doctor looked at him in wonder. Was this something from his past? Of course, the way he travelled around, it was just as likely to be something from his future. How could he cope with people bearing grudges for something he hadn't done yet? "Who are you?" he asked again.
"I have been called many things," Saunders said. "You know me as the Great Intelligence."
The Doctor looked stunned.
"Did you think me destroyed?" asked Saunders.
"No," said the Doctor. "Your link to Earth was broken. You were left drifting in space."
"I found myself caught in immense forces, and pulled through a conduit in the heavens. Then I was isolated and alone in a void."
"You must have been entrapped by a CVE. Blasted out into the interstice between separate time vortices."
"An eternity I spent there," said Saunders. "An eternity of agony and suffering."
"Yes," replied the Doctor. "A timeless void. Thirty years may have passed in this universe, but for you it would be for ever."
"I am free now. I shall have my revenge. This world shall become my form, as it was always intended to. You shall be destroyed, along with the rest of its inhabitants. The Great Purpose cannot be halted."
He took a step backwards into the accelerator chamber, and suddenly the door became shut again, sealed tight. It had not swung closed on its hinges - it had simply gone from being open to being shut in an instant.
"What happened?" asked Colin.
The Doctor examined the door. "Oh, very clever," he said. "He must be able to manipulate some of the temporal fluctuations caused by the flow of the chronon stream. He's put the door in a different time field, out of phase with us. Nothing we could do would get it open."
"So that's it, then?" said Sonia.
The Doctor snapped his fingers. "We may be able to use this to our
advantage," he said. "Let me borrow your shoulders again, Colin."
Rhonwen looked again at her two captors. The one called Crabtree was driving the car. The one called Gates was leaning over the back of his seat, keeping an eye on her.
She didn't know what they wanted. They had just sat her in the back of a Wolseley and driven her around for the last couple of hours. If it hadn't been for the fact that she mentally associated her two abductors with the death of Peter Starling, she might have found the whole thing rather amusing. The black car was too familiar to feel sinister to her. She almost expected Edgar Lustgarten to put in an appearance.
Crabtree stopped the car. "It is time," he said.
Gates looked at Rhonwen. "Do you know how to operate the telecommunications system?" he asked.
"The telephone, you mean?" said Rhonwen.
"Yes," said Gates. "Can you contact the Time Lord?"
Rhonwen felt into her pocket, and pulled out the crumpled sheet with Sonia's telephone number on it. "Yes," she said. "But he won't give in to any demands."
"Let us not argue that point," said Crabtree. He pointed out of the window. "Is that a communications point?" he asked.
Rhonwen regarded the object he had indicated. It was a rectangular cabinet, made of sleek steel and glass. It was not like the familiar red call boxes she was used to, but its function was the same. "Yes," she said.
"Good," said Crabtree. He looked around at the scenery. The building in the centre of the square he recognized as Radcliffe Camera. This would make a good enough rendezvous point.
He turned back to Rhonwen. "You will communicate the following
The Doctor's head poked out of the open ceiling panel. "We're in luck," he said. "All my cables are still in place. The Intelligence wouldn't have known that they were here."
"What are you going to do?" asked Colin.
"I can use this to manipulate the particle accelerator," the Doctor said, "and create a time bubble, that will alter the localized time field." He started to lower two lengths of cable down to Colin.
"Doctor," began Sonia, "this Great Intelligence. Is that the same being who tried to invade London with robot Yeti about thirty years ago? I read about it in UNIT files."
"That's right," the Doctor replied, clambering down to the floor once more. "UNIT was formed as a direct result of that incident."
"But what is it?" asked Brennan.
"Well, it was exiled from another dimension for its crimes, and condemned to drift in space for ever, disembodied and without physical form. It twice tried to manifest itself on Earth. On those occasions, it was working through human beings, who formed its link on Earth. The Intelligence itself was still theoretically in space. This time, it's actually physically present, which is why we're facing some mental powers I wasn't aware of before."
He started to examine the ends of the cables.
"What's a CVE?" Colin asked.
The Doctor looked up. "What?" he said absent mindedly. "Oh, it's a charged vacuum emboitement. A gateway to another universe. It helps to control the spread of entropy and prolong the life of our universe. The Intelligence must have been caught in the field of a CVE. I don't believe an unprotected entity could have successfully made the journey through into another universe. The TARDIS was once caught in a CVE, and with all her temporal shielding, only just managed to scrape through. The Intelligence was flung out of the CVE field, and became entrapped in the void between different realities.
"Then one day Wells's chronon stream ripped a tear in the fabric of the space/time continuum, and that formed a window through which the Intelligence could see our universe. The Intelligence used the power of the chronon stream to drive its embodied thoughts through that window."
"Well, now it's here," said Brennan, "what's this Great Purpose it was talking about?"
The Doctor stopped and listened to the hum of power from the accelerator. "It wants to cause a temporal meltdown," he said. "The power reserve left in the batteries will be enough to get the chronon stream up to the speed of light. Then the electromagnets will shut down and it'll be Event One all over again."
"But what's the point?" asked Sonia. "Won't it just destroy itself?"
"No, the Intelligence is a formless entity. It's just using Saunders's body as a convenience. It won't be affected by the release of temporal energy. The surrounding area will be reduced to protomatter, and from that the Intelligence will be able to fashion a physical substance for itself - its own natural state, a sort of glowing glutinous mass. After that, there'll be no stopping it. It'll just spread until it covers the whole planet."
He put down the cables in his hands. "I think we can do it," he said. "Colin, you'd better come with me. We have to collect Wells and his capsule."
Sonia's cellphone started to ring. She quickly answered it, and handed it to the Doctor. "It's Rhonwen," she said.
The Doctor snatched up the phone. "Rhonwen," he said. "Are you all right?"
"I have a message for you," Rhonwen said. Her voice sounded flat. It was clear she was repeating something the Silencers had told her to say, probably under some threat of violence.
"Go on," the Doctor said.
"You are to come to Radcliffe Square. You are to bring your confederate, Wells. You may then exchange him for me."
"Rhonwen, listen. Let me talk to one of them."
"I'm sorry, Doctor. I must hang up now." The connexion was broken. The Doctor slammed the cellphone down on the desk top in anger.
"I have to go and rescue Rhonwen," he said.
"Surely you haven't got time," Sonia protested. "You have to stop the accelerator blowing up."
"But I can't leave her. If I don't turn up, they might harm her."
"Well, what are their demands?" Sonia asked.
"They want to exchange Wells," said the Doctor. "But I can't do that, I might still need his help."
"Just leave it to me, Doctor," Sonia said. "I'll get her. I've handled terrorist and hostage situations before."
"I really don't think an all guns blazing approach is required here." The Doctor took a sheet of paper from his pocket, with a metal seal affixed to it, a strange pattern of intertwining curves. He produced a pen, and started to write in a hurried hand, leaving a trail of bizarre symbols on the page. It looked like a complex mathematical formula.
He handed the paper to Sonia. "They're waiting in Radcliffe Square," he said. "Give them that. Tell them it's an encyclical from the Lady President of Gallifrey, excusing all their mistakes and requesting their assistance in combatting a serious temporal menace."
"And is it?" asked Sonia.
"No, it's a recipe for rice pudding, but they won't be able to read the High Gallifreyan script. The seal will impress them."
He took out his watch. "I'd say we've got about an hour before the accelerator reaches critical. That doesn't leave us much time. You'd better take Bessie. We need to bring the transfer capsule back here. You've got a land rover, haven't you?"
"Yes," said Sonia. "But it's parked outside my office."
"Well, it shouldn't take us too long to get there on foot."
They exchanged car keys.
"You remember how to deactivate the anti-theft devices?" the Doctor asked.
"Yes," said Sonia. "Stop wasting time, Doctor."
"Let's go, Colin." The Doctor dashed towards the door.