Warcry of Hallatern
The gumblejacks bobbed up to the surface, looking for flakes of food. There were none. Feeding her fish was Krau Needleman's least priority at the moment. She sat behind her desk, surrounded by computer displays of the current situation on Canaxxa. Morrissey's behaviour had brought the Conglomerate a degree of close scrutiny it could ill afford. Even so, their role in arming the Canaxxan terrorists should have remained a secret.
Needleman looked up at the holographic image. Suspended in the red haze was the face of a woman in her thirties, olive skinned with jet black hair. She was the senior surviving officer of the Greyshadow, speaking over the hypercomm relay from the Federation scout ship that had gone to the aid of the stricken vessel.
"I don't understand what you're telling me, Krau Paluzzi," said Needleman. She was stalling for time. She understood perfectly well.
"I told you," said Paluzzi. "The Greyshadow was hijacked. Some of the crew had been subverted, including the first officer. They claimed to be Canaxxan terrorists, but it later became apparent that they were working for Trau Morrissey."
"This is the part I'm not clear about," Needleman replied.
"It would seem that Trau Morrissey planned the whole thing to make public some files from the Conglomerate's offices on Canaxxa, which were in the care of Krau Newstead. I understand he hoped to make some personal gain at the expense of the Conglomerate."
She showed no outward sign, but Krau Needleman felt her blood was boiling inside her. It was obvious what Morrissey's intention had been. She had to think fast now if she was to save her career and her corporation. "Do you know what became of the files?" she asked.
"I was forced to hand them over to Captain Drake," said Paluzzi, "along with the Greyshadow's log recorder. So that the incident can be properly investigated. Trau Morrissey put the lives of everyone aboard at risk. Indeed, some of the passengers and crew died as a direct result of his actions."
"Quite so, Krau Paluzzi. It's a thoroughly regrettable state of affairs. You can be sure that the matter will receive my personal attention. Trau Morrissey will certainly not get away with this outrage. Thank you for drawing the matter to my notice."
"I'm just doing my duty."
"Of course you are," Needleman said smoothly. "When you get back to Androzani, and you've quite recovered from the experience, do please come into the office and see me."
"Yes, I will," Paluzzi confirmed.
"Then I'll look forward to seeing you in person." Breaking the
connexion, Needleman pressed the intercom control on her desk, to call her
secretary. "Get me the corporate lawyer right away," she snapped. "And get
me a private line to Trau Gilmore at the Trade Commission."
The transmat terminal hummed into life as Brolan manipulated the controls. The Doctor stood beside him, and kept an eye on the instrument display. Morrissey's ship was manoeuvring into a geostationary orbit ready for transmat.
The Doctor wondered whether Rhonwen was unharmed. Whether she was still alive, in fact. He had deliberately stopped himself from thinking about it - until now, when he couldn't avoid it. There was absolutely no guarantee that Morrissey would keep his word. It would be so much easier for him to have Rhonwen killed. Since he doubtless believed the Doctor had died in the wreck of the Greyshadow, there was no reason for him to stick to the deal. But Morrissey had insisted he was a man of his word, and had seemed quite sincere about it. Maybe he could justify his criminal activities to himself, if he carried out his business deals under a sheen of honesty.
It was a slim hope, but the Doctor couldn't even begin to contemplate the alternative. He told himself that Morrissey had nothing gain by killing Rhonwen, and concentrated upon that thought.
The Panther reported that she was holding position. Brolan operated the transmat controls and stood back. A pattern of swirling light formed above the platform, in the midst of which materialized several shimmering figures. The light faded, and the shapes were resolved into Morrissey and five of his black clad troops. One of the soldiers held Rhonwen by the arm. Before them was the cargo pod in which was laid the Kreilen's body.
Rhonwen suddenly pulled herself free from the soldier's grip, and ran towards the Doctor. She threw her arms around him in relief, and he gave her a gentle hug in return. "I knew you'd be here," she breathed.
"Are you all right?" the Doctor asked softly.
Rhonwen nodded. She released him, and turned to look up at Morrissey. She wanted to see his reaction to the Doctor's presence here.
But the executive seemed to take it all in his stride. He looked coolly at the Doctor, and merely nodded his head in acceptance. "I'm impressed, Doctor."
"Well, I just felt we had a few more things to discuss," the Doctor replied.
Brolan moved forward to the transmat platform, and gazed at the blackened form in the cargo pod. "Is this the Kreilen?" he demanded. "I had hoped it would be in better condition than this. Baines told me it was almost intact."
"It seems it was damaged a little," replied Morrissey. "It won't be a problem, will it?"
There was a threatening tone to his voice, which made Brolan look up at him sharply, and respond with almost as much menace. "I hope not. If there is enough original genetic material here, I should have something to work with."
"Good." Morrissey signalled for two of his soldiers to lift the cargo pod down from the transmat platform. Under Brolan's supervision, they started to push it on its antigrav pad towards the door.
Turning his attention to the Doctor, Morrissey smiled cruelly. "You continue to amaze me, Doctor. But you are becoming tedious. I had good reason to spare your life before, but thanks to your generous gift I have become largely untouchable. I no longer need to keep you alive." He nodded to the three remaining soldiers, who turned their weapons on the Doctor and Rhonwen.
Brolan paused in the doorway, and watched what was happening. He couldn't allow the Doctor to die now. Where would be the pleasure in that? He had to live to see the plan reach its conclusion. A force of destiny had been suppressed for eight thousand years, but now it could no longer be contained. The Doctor had to learn that he had ultimately been unsuccessful.
"Do not kill him," Brolan called softly.
Morrissey whirled round. "What?"
"I believe that he can help me. He has knowledge of Kreilens which could be put to good use. It would certainly improve my chances of obtaining any utilizable results from that incinerated mess you brought me."
"I don't like it," said Morrissey. "I don't trust him."
"There's no need to trust him. Just make sure you watch him carefully."
Morrissey looked angrily at the curator for a few moments. He didn't appreciate his authority being undermined. The Doctor had clearly demonstrated his knowledge of Kreilens already, and to Morrissey's mind that made him more of a threat than a help. But if Brolan believed the Doctor could be useful, he would have to go along with it. The most important thing was to get the Kreilen under analysis, and extract its secrets.
Turning to the Doctor, Morrissey said, "It seems you've been granted a stay of execution. Of course, that depends on whether you co-operate."
"I'm as anxious to proceed as you are," the Doctor replied calmly.
"Well, I'd prefer some sort of insurance. So, if you cause any trouble, my men will kill your young friend here. And then they'll kill you."
Morrissey gestured at Rhonwen, and one of the soldiers grabbed her tightly by the arm. She was frightened, but her most overwhelming feeling at that moment was one of exasperation. She'd been pushed around and manhandled by Morrissey's troops almost continually for the past couple of days, and she was starting to get fed up with it.
She glanced up at the Doctor, who smiled reassuringly. "It'll be all right," he said quietly.
"That seems to be settled then," Morrissey declared.
Krau Needleman looked up from the files on her desk, and turned to the Conglomerate's lawyer. A slight figure of a man, with grey hair and stooped back, he was well into his sixties, with years of experience in corporate and contractual law. His practice these days was exclusively for the Sirius Conglomerate, and he was handsomely paid. He had got Needleman out of several brushes with the law.
"I think we can get away with it," he said cautiously.
"I hope so," Krau Needleman replied. "I don't intend to stand in the dock for this. Not when I've got a convenient scapegoat."
The desk intercom buzzed, and her secretary advised her that her call to Trau Gilmore had been placed.
Needleman said, "Patch him through. Oh, and contact the Security Division. Try and find out if they have any idea where Trau Morrissey might have hidden himself - where his usual haunts are. I'd like to hear what he has to say for himself."
A moment later, the red tinted globe of a holographic projection formed in the centre of the office, reproducing the features of Gilmore, a senior member of the Federation Trade Commission. A short man with a halo of black hair surrounding his bald crown, he was one of several contacts in government departments upon whom Needleman could call in times of stress. Through bribes and other forms of persuasion, they had been convinced to perform favours for the Sirius Conglomerate.
In the holographic projection, Trau Gilmore's face creased with anger and not a small degree of fear. "You shouldn't call me," he said timidly.
"Nonsense," replied Krau Needleman. "I'm a major industrialist, speaking to a Trade Commissioner. It seems perfectly natural to me."
"What do you want?"
"Well, you probably won't have heard yet, but the Sirius Conglomerate is likely to come under suspicion of illegal practices very shortly."
"Well, what can I do about that?" Gilmore said nervously.
"Come now," murmured Needleman in a soothing tone. "You're the man who organizes these things, assigns the investigating committees and so forth. I just want to let you know that I'm willing to co-operate with you in any way possible."
"Why does that sound so ominous?"
"I really don't know," replied Needleman innocently. "Now listen, the Conglomerate will shortly be accused of illegally selling arms to the terrorist groups on Canaxxa."
"And did you?" asked Gilmore.
"Of course we didn't." Needleman smiled. "You ought to know me better by now. However, the accusation and the investigation will cause a massive drop in the value of stock holdings in the Conglomerate."
"That would be usual in such a case."
"Precisely. All I want you to do is delay the announcement of this news. For a day or so. Even a few hours would help. So that I can move some of my assets into shell companies."
Gilmore lowered his eyes, as if he were looking at something on his desk, below the level of the holographic image. "I'm not sure I can do that," he muttered.
"That's a great shame," said Needleman. "As you'll remember, I have some rather embarrassing holographs of you, taken when you visted Abydos last year. It's no wonder they call it a pleasure planet."
"Yes, all right," Gilmore snapped. "I'll see what I can do for you."
"And as I say, I'm willing to co-operate. I can provide you with ample evidence to point to the real arms dealer."
"Rupert Morrissey, our head of Project Development. It seems he's been misappropriating Conglomerate funds for his sordid little exercise. And now he's trying to pass the blame onto us."
"This evidence. Is it conclusive?"
"It will be," Needleman said evenly.
Gilmore sighed. "I see."
"I recommend that you freeze Trau Morrissey's assets immediately. My secretary will provide you with a list of his holdings and shell companies, and his accounts with the Usurian Bank."
"Yes," Gilmore replied. "I'm sure that would be a sensible policy, considering what he's done. Leave it with me."
"I'm glad I could be of help," said Krau Needleman.
There was a sad and distraught look in Gilmore's eyes - he was a man who knew he was no longer his own master. Not that he wasn't rewarded for his co-operation. The blackmail threat was really only there to help him make up his mind. One day, Needleman thought, she'd just give him the tapes and be done with it. By then, he'd be in so deep that such crude methods would no longer be necessary.
She pressed a control, and Gilmore's face faded from view. Needleman
took a deep breath, and let it out. She had taken the first steps towards
saving her own hide. She turned back to her lawyer, and they set about
ensuring the case against Morrissey was perfect. No one could double cross
Marie Needleman and get away with it.
The Kreilen's remains lay on a metal work bench in a clinical, white walled laboratory. Brolan bent over the burnt figure, carefully examining it. He glanced at a medical scanner that rested on the bench top.
He looked up at the Doctor, and said, "I think it may still be viable." He searched the Doctor's face for any trace of emotion, but there was none. He might have expected some anger or frustration at the realization that a Kreilen had survived. But then again, if the Doctor was one of the hunters, his own personality would be held in check by his controlling computer.
The Doctor merely raised an eyebrow, and said nothing.
Morrissey stood by the door with Rhonwen, and the two soldiers he'd placed in charge of the Kreilen. The other three were waiting outside in the corridor. Taking a step forward, Morrissey demanded, "Well? What can you tell from it?"
"I'm not sure yet," said Brolan. He felt around the top of the skull, and lifted the flap of blackened skin. He picked up a torch, and shone the beam into the cavity for the kaprihal crystal.
The Doctor watched him closely. If his deception was to be discovered, Brolan was the one to discover it. But he seemed satisfied with the shattered piece of kaprihal inside the cavity, and pulled the skin back over the skull once more. "I think we can proceed," he announced.
"To what?" asked Morrissey.
"Well, if we can make the crystal machine work, we can try to revive it - reconstitute the body, and we should be able to make a proper analysis of its genetic composition. And maybe even clone it."
A bleeping sound came from Brolan's tunic. He pulled a remote control device from his pocket, and examined the message on its tiny display screen. "Ah, it seems there's an incoming transmission for you, Trau Morrissey."
"From whom?" demanded Morrissey.
Morrissey laughed. "I can imagine what she wants. My failure to arrive at Canaxxa must have embarrassed the Conglomerate. It's a pity my plan never came off - I'd have enjoyed seeing Marie Needleman bankrupted and out of a job."
"I never did understand," said the Doctor, "what you hoped to gain by devaluing the Conglomerate's share prices."
"Ever the investigator, eh, Doctor?" replied Morrissey. "You amaze me. Even now you persist, when you're completely in my power."
"I'm just naturally curious," the Doctor replied.
"All right, I'll tell you," Morrissey said, shrugging his shoulders. "It's not as if it's particularly relevant any more. It rather amuses me to tell you now, when the information can be of no possible use to you." He paused, savouring his little moment of triumph. "You were right, actually. I was insider trading. You see, just over six months ago, the Federation Council planned to make massive cuts in its military budget. The risk of war was deemed to have diminished."
Brolan perched himself on the edge of the work bench. "That seems to be incredibly short sighted," he muttered thoughtfully. "Throughout the history of the Galaxy, there's always been a war going on somewhere."
"Well," said Morrissey, "politicians aren't historians. We've had peace for over a century now. The Daleks have turned their expansionist policy towards the other side of the Galaxy, well away from Federation space. And the threat of Galaxy Five has clearly diminished. For the Council to be spending so much on armaments when there are other pressing concerns is very bad for their public image."
The Doctor nodded slowly. There were plenty of social problems that needed addressing in this century: the chronic unemployment and famine that had followed the population growth in the colonies; the space plague that was ravaging the rimworlds. And it was true that the Daleks wouldn't bother this part of the Galaxy again for hundreds of years. He could see the political reasoning behind the Council's decision.
"The new spending plan was leaked to me in advance," Morrissey continued. "I have some influential government contacts, you see. And I was able to grease a few palms. You can guess what would happen as soon as the plan was made public."
"Yes," the Doctor replied. "The bottom would drop out of the arms market. Share prices across the industry would fall."
"And keep falling," added Morrissey. "It was a situation I decided to take advantage of. It was quite simple really. The Sirius Conglomerate owns several subsidiaries in the defence industries. I used one of my shell companies to sell large stock options in those subsidiaries to a corporation on Alpha Centauri. Stock I didn't actually possess at the time, you understand."
"But you sold them at the existing market prices?" queried the Doctor.
"Exactly. This was before the new spending plan was published. The defence industries were buoyant, share values were at a maximum. I'm sure you can guess the rest."
"Yes," said the Doctor, with a faint air of contempt. In the end, it all boiled down to greed. "You just had to wait for the spending plan to be announced, whereupon the share values would plummet. Your shell companies would buy up stock at the lowest possible price."
"And I'd pass it on to the Alphan Centaurans," Morrissey confirmed.
"Who'd already paid over the odds for it."
"That's business," said Morrissey, with a self satisfied smirk. "It was a killing waiting to be made. I just couldn't resist it."
"But it went wrong, didn't it?" the Doctor said mockingly. "The Daleks started to make trouble on the Draconian border."
"The Council lost its nerve," spat Morrissey angrily. "They were afraid the Daleks would attack again. They cancelled their spending plan and pumped a fortune back into the military budget."
"And your grand scheme fell apart around you," the Doctor laughed.
"I faced financial ruin," Morrissey admitted.
The Doctor looked at him in some surprise.
"Oh, make no mistake," said Morrissey, "I am one of the richest men in the Five Planets. But most of my money is tied up in my stock holdings. My free capital is limited. When the Alpha Centaurans came to demand delivery of their shares, I wouldn't be able to pay for them. Not without liquidating some of my assets in the Sirius Conglomerate. And that would have weakened my position on the board unacceptably."
"So you planned to expose the Conglomerate's arms sales on Canaxxa," the Doctor said. "Force Krau Needleman to resign, and in the resultant confusion you'd push share prices down throughout the Conglomerate."
"Absolutely right." Morrissey frowned. "The Sirius Conglomerate would bounce back quite quickly, I have no doubt. But I only needed a few days. My shell companies were poised to snap up the stocks I required in the defence subsidiaries, as soon as the prices dropped low enough. And that would have been that."
The Doctor shook his head in wonder. "I can't believe you thought it would work. And I thought I'd seen some desperate plans in my time."
The criticism seemed to hit Morrissey between the eyes. He spun round upon the Doctor, anger seething in his eyes. "It would have worked if Ryder's people had done their part. I can't be held responsible for random variables."
The Doctor smiled to himself. He'd clearly touched a nerve there. Morrissey had known his plan was pure desperation from the start - but somehow he'd convinced himself that it was perfect. It was probably the only way he could keep himself sane in the face of impending financial disaster.
Morrissey turned to face Brolan. "I'd better not keep Krau Needleman waiting. Where can I take her call?"
Brolan pointed to a monitor set in the wall. He pressed some switches on his remote control, and the screen lit up. Morrissey stepped forward, and beamed a pleasant smile as the face of Marie Needleman came into view.
"Ah, Trau Morrissey," she said, just as pleasantly, "I've had a little trouble tracking you down."
"I didn't mean to put you to any inconvenience," Morrissey said.
"You do surprise me, since your recent actions have placed the Sirius Conglomerate under suspicion of arms dealing."
"Really?" Morrissey was confused - did this mean his plan had worked after all?
"A Federation patrol has picked up the survivors of the Greyshadow," Needleman explained. "And certain files are now in the possession of the Trade Commission."
"That's very unfortunate," Morrissey commented.
"I'm glad you think so. I have informed the Trade Commission that you were solely responsible for this reprehensible trade, and I understand Federation security officers are on their way to Sirius Five even as we speak, to arrest you."
"You have no evidence," Morrissey snapped.
"We do now."
Morrissey nodded knowingly. There was no way Needleman would take the blame for something if she could make someone else her scapegoat. There was a fitting sense of irony that she was pinning it on him. He knew of course that she was only making these threats to scare him. At the end of the day, they would reach an accommodation to sort out this disagreement. Such was business. "All right," he said, "what do you want?"
Needleman smiled. "What about your resignation from the board?"
"I am. Your assets have been frozen by the Trade Commission. In addition to your arms dealing, it seems you've been indulging in insider trading. All your stock holdings in the Sirius Conglomerate have been confiscated - with my full blessing, it has to be said. So you see, you really don't have anything to offer me."
Needleman paused for a moment, as if trying to remember something important. "Oh yes, I've received a call from a very irate Alpha Centauran. Apparently, it paid you for some shares, and you haven't delivered them. It got rather upset, and waggled its tentacles at me - well, you know how excitable they can be. I couldn't get much sense out of it, but I think it intends to sue you for breach of contract. That is, assuming you have anything left after the Trade Commission has finished with you." She smiled sweetly. "Goodbye, Trau Morrissey. I'd recommend a good lawyer, but you wouldn't be able to afford his fee."
Her image faded from the screen. With a sudden exclamation of anger, Morrissey slammed his fist down onto the work bench.
The sound of childish laughter tripped lightly across the laboratory. Morrissey whirled round to find Brolan giggling hysterically at his predicament. Not even a withering look could silence him.
Morrissey turned to the Doctor, who returned his gaze evenly. "It looks like the game's up, Morrissey."
"Do you really think I'd stop now? The secret of immortality is in my grasp. I could buy the Sirius Conglomerate a thousand times over with the money I'll make. Krau Needleman and the Trade Commissioners will get on their hands and knees before me, and beg to share in it."
The Doctor said nothing.
Morrissey turned back to Brolan, who was doubled up in mirth. "When you've quite finished," he snapped, "let's get this Kreilen down to the machine."
Brolan nodded, and almost instantly his giggling fit came to an end. He supervised the two soldiers in loading the Kreilen's body back into the cargo pod, and then led them from the laboratory. Morrissey followed, and called the other three soldiers to escort the Doctor and Rhonwen. Brolan took them through the corridors of the Academius, and into the art gallery.
They stopped beside the cleaners' storeroom, next to the Van Gogh painting. Rhonwen smiled to see the TARDIS standing in the middle of the gallery, but no one else paid it any attention. In the thirty fifth century, she supposed they wouldn't know what a police box was - no doubt they saw it as nothing more than a piece of modern art. But even Brolan, who surely would know it was out of place, seemed to pay it no heed.
The curator reached into the pocket of his tunic, and pulled out his datakey. He pressed a control, and with a rumbling sound, part of the wall slid away, to reveal a rectangular metal space beyond.
"It's a lift," Morrissey said in puzzlement.
"That's right," replied Brolan. "You didn't think you'd have to carry the Kreilen down the ladder, did you?"
"I had been wondering," admitted Morrissey. He followed Brolan into the lift. The cargo pod was pushed inside by its two guards; the Doctor and Rhonwen were similarly manhandled by their escort.
But on the threshold, the Doctor threw out his arm with a dramatic flourish, to prevent Rhonwen stepping into the lift. "Are you sure this is safe?" he asked.
"Perfectly," said Brolan.
"I'd say there was a maximum capacity of eight persons. I guess you'll just have to go on without us. Rhonwen and I can wait here while you send the lift back up for us."
"Don't try my patience, Doctor," warned Morrissey.
The Doctor felt one of the soldiers jab a gun into his back. Resignedly, he moved forward into the lift. Rhonwen was shoved inside, and the soldiers brought up the rear. Brolan pressed a control, and the lift started jerkily to descend.
"You never told me you'd had this installed," Morrissey muttered.
"Didn't I?" replied Brolan enigmatically. He noticed the Doctor watching him closely, and turned away without making eye contact. He wondered if the Doctor had worked out his secret.
The lift slowed to a halt, and they stepped off into a short rock passage. Brolan pressed another switch on his remote control, and a hidden door slid open, beyond which was the crystal chamber.
They passed through into the huge cavern. The soldiers stopped in their tracks, looking around in awe. Rhonwen would have done the same, if Morrissey hadn't grabbed her tightly by the arm and pulled her to one side. If his men were so overwhelmed that they'd forgotten to guard the hostage, he would have to do it himself.
He looked across at Brolan. "Where do you want the Kreilen?"
"Next to the central pillar."
Morrissey shouted insistent orders to his troops. They overcame their sense of wonder, and pulled the body out of the cargo pod, placing it by the foot of the pillar according to Brolan's direction.
"Now what?" Morrissey asked.
"Just wait," said Brolan. Carefully, he removed his spectacles, and put them away in his tunic pocket. Then he closed his eyes, seeming to lapse into a meditative trance. After a few moments, a strange light began to glow in the kaprihal crystals around the chamber. The six standing pillars were illuminated from within by sudden brilliant flashes. In the five columns that supported the roof, sparks of energy seemed to float upwards to the ceiling, meeting at the five pointed star above.
"What's happening?" Morrissey demanded.
"He's operating the machine," the Doctor called. "By the power of his thoughts."
"But how can he?"
"Oh, I think he's had a lot of practice."
Brolan's eyes suddenly snapped open, the light that blazed around the chamber reflected in his pupils. "You're a fool, Morrissey," he declared. "Did you really think I'd just recently discovered this chamber?"
"What do you mean?"
"It was always here. The Academius was built to contain it, to provide an excuse for me to be on Sirius Five. So that I could be ready here when the time came."
"Do you mean Doctor Stolaris knew about this cavern?" asked Morrissey.
Brolan threw back his head, and laughed insanely. "I am Stolaris," he cried. "The one and only."
"But that's impossible," Morrissey stammered. "It would make you over two hundred years old."
Brolan did nothing but continue laughing.
The Doctor said, "He's rather older than that."
"This," exclaimed Brolan triumphantly, "is a moment of history. I have been awaiting this day for more than eight thousand years."
"What are you talking about?" Morrissey shouted. He let go of Rhonwen and started moving towards Brolan.
"Immortality," the Doctor said. "That's what all this was about, remember."
"You mean Brolan's immortal?"
"Oh yes," replied Brolan softly. "It doesn't involve genetic alterations and crystals wired into the skull. It's a virus carried in the bloodstream that replaces dying cells - it keeps you young and fresh."
Morrissey looked at him in confusion. "But if you've already got the secret, why did you need to bring the Kreilen here?"
Brolan's eyes seemed to burn with a single minded fanaticism. "I am fulfilling the schemes of destiny," he whispered intensely. "Millennia ago, the rulers of Hallatern gave away their people's birthright. The empire was dismantled, and the Kreilens destroyed. There were many who disagreed with this short sighted liberalism, but our views were ignored. In time, the majority came to accept it as a fait accompli. Well, I didn't. And I determined then that I would not rest until Hallatern's empire was restored."
Morrissey stared at him for a moment, then turned to give orders to his soldiers. He didn't have time for a history lesson now. But before the troops could move, Brolan closed his eyes and put his fingertips to his temples.
The crystal pillars suddenly began to throb with power. Beams of light shot out, from one pillar to another, connecting them to form a pentagram of shimmering energy. The cavern filled with a high pitched buzzing sound, like a swarm of angry insects. Looking around the chamber, the Doctor saw that everyone else had frozen to the spot. Morrissey and the soldiers seemed unable to move. Rhonwen's face appeared to turn grey and haggard. The Doctor realized that Brolan had formed an energy transfer circuit, and it was draining them of their life forces. So why hadn't he been affected as well?
He felt a strange burning sensation coming from his jacket pocket. Quickly, he pulled out the cube of kaprihal crystal. It glowed with power, brilliant and white hot, and yet it left no burn mark on his palm. Brolan's pentagram circuit was drawing off the life energy programmed into the crystal, the source of the Kreilen's longevity. The Doctor hoped the crystal's energy store would last long enough to protect him.
He leapt forward and grabbed Rhonwen by the hand, pulling her back towards the edge of the chamber. They actually passed through one of the beams of light that formed the pentagram, but it had no effect on them. Clear of the energy circuit, Rhonwen came back to life. Exhausted, she fell into the Doctor's arms, sobbing in relief.
Inside the pentagram, Brolan stood laughing maniacally. Around him, Morrissey and the soldiers had been drained of colour. Lines and wrinkles began to form on their faces. Their skin became dry, and flaked off; their flesh shrivelled up, wasting away until the bone was exposed. Then their remains crumbled into dust. Rhonwen cried out in horror.
Lying against the central pillar, the Kreilen's body started to regenerate. The blackened flesh was renewed, growing back at an incredible rate, until it regained the form of a fit and handsome young man. Brolan whirled round to face the Doctor, and glared at him triumphantly. "It lives!" he proclaimed excitedly.
"Oh, well done," the Doctor snapped sarcastically. "What do you intend to do with it?"
"I shall reproduce it. With the ancient power of Hallatern at my disposal, all I need is a stock of raw genetic material."
"And where will you get that?"
Brolan chuckled to himself. "Why, I shall merely reopen the Academius to visitors. A few free tickets and discount rates, and the place will be swarming with tourists. Then I'll simply reconstitute their bodies into a new army of Kreilens."
"That's horrible," said Rhonwen.
"I don't think they'll complain," Brolan replied lightly. "It will grant them their place in history."
"And when you get this army," the Doctor demanded, "what will you do with it?"
"I told you," Brolan replied. "I shall restore Hallatern's empire. Nothing can stand before the Kreilens."
"But they're too unstable, too dangerous. They have no reason, and a single compulsion to kill everything. How do you hope to control them?"
"I've nothing to worry about. The Kreilens are psychologically incapable of harming a Hallat. They will protect us to the end, and destroy all of our enemies. That's how we conquered the Galaxy the first time. We can just as easily do it again."
"And who's going to enjoy the benefits of your revived empire? You're the only Hallat left alive in the Galaxy. You can't run it all by yourself."
"That doesn't matter," said Brolan simply, as if he didn't understand the Doctor's argument. "I have to restore the empire."
"But there is no empire to restore," the Doctor insisted angrily.
"The glory of Hallatern must shine once more like a billion suns. That's the only purpose I have." Brolan turned away dismissively, and gazed upon the Kreilen's form, still lying at the foot of the central pillar.
"What's the matter with him?" Rhonwen asked. "Why won't he listen?"
"I don't think he can hear," the Doctor said sadly. "He's fixated himself on a single objective, and that's all he has left now. Eight thousand years of waiting have driven him insane."
Whole once more, the Kreilen slowly rose to its feet. Brolan closed his eyes, and extended his arms towards it. "Behold," he cried, "the rebirth of Hallatern."
Rhonwen grabbed the Doctor's arm. "What are we going to do?"
He waved her to silence. "Just wait," he murmured.
The Kreilen took its first faltering steps towards Brolan. It lifted its own arms, as if mimicking Brolan's gesture of welcome. Then suddenly, it clamped its hands around the curator's throat, and started to throttle him.
"No!" Brolan croaked. He tried to fight the Kreilen off, but it was too strong. After just a few moments, Brolan weakened and stopped struggling. His body became limp. The Kreilen released him, and the curator's dead form fell heavily to the ground.
"Why did it kill him?" asked Rhonwen.
"I thought it might do," the Doctor said. He took her by the arm, and started to lead her towards the lift. "I guessed after it attacked Vardek. It should never have been able to harm a Hallat."
"So why did it?"
"Vardek and Brolan weren't pure Hallats any more. Vardek had bionic implants - and in both of them, the immortality virus had replaced their cells thousands of times over. There was nothing of their original bodies left for the Kreilen to recognize."
He kept his eyes upon the figure of the Kreilen, which turned to face them. It still stood within the energy pentagram, and took no further steps. The Doctor pulled Rhonwen through the doorway that led to the lift.
The Kreilen took a lumbering step towards them. But it stumbled, and fell to its knees. Sparks of energy seemed to rise from its body, swirling around its head. Suddenly it exploded in a blaze of light, subliming into pure energy. Brilliant particles swooped about the chamber, and looped repeatedly around the shape of the pentagram, leaving glowing after images hanging in the air.
"What's happening?" Rhonwen cried.
The Doctor pulled her back into the lift, and stabbed the control. Nothing happened. He hammered repeatedly at the switches, but there was no response. "The power's been drained," he said. "The ladder, quickly!"
They ran back into the crystal chamber. It was ablaze with light, shimmering globules of energy soaring around the cavern. A huge mass of luminescent particles was swelling beneath the point of the ceiling. The sound was like a thousand voices screaming in agony.
They ran through the archway into the vertical rock shaft. "Hurry!" urged the Doctor, shepherding Rhonwen onto the metal ladder. He glanced back into the kaprihal chamber, and saw huge sparks of energy bursting out of the crystal walls. The results were far more cataclysmic than he'd imagined possible.
He turned and started to follow Rhonwen up the ladder. They hauled themselves up the shaft, rung by rung. Rhonwen didn't know what was going on, but she was infected by the Doctor's sense of urgency. Muscles aching, lungs straining, she continued to climb as fast as she could.
Suddenly, they heard the rumble of an explosion below them. The ladder was shaken violently, and they were nearly flung from it. Rhonwen held on tightly for dear life. Since meeting the Doctor, she seemed to have spent an inordinate amount of time hanging on to ladders in perilous situations.
The vibration diminished, and she resumed climbing. After what seemed an age, she found an opening behind her, which led into the tiny space of the cleaners' storeroom. She flopped gratefully onto the floor, and lay panting with exertion.
Just behind her, the Doctor emerged from the opening. He didn't even seem out of breath. He gazed down at her and said, "I wouldn't lie there if I were you. This whole building's about to explode." He darted out of the storeroom.
Rhonwen hauled herself to her feet, and followed him out into the art gallery. "I don't understand what happened," she gasped.
The Doctor was already unlocking the TARDIS door. "Well, I put Vardek's computer interface crystal in the Kreilen's head. He'd configured it to flood his brain with unfocused neural energy. It should have burnt out his synapses. I wasn't sure what effect it would have on the Kreilen. But it was the only thing I could think of at the time."
There was another explosion somewhere below, and the walls of the art gallery started to crack. Flames leapt through the newly formed openings, and started to lick around them. The Doctor got the TARDIS door open, and ushered Rhonwen inside.
"But has the Kreilen been destroyed?" she asked.
"Yes. The neural energy overloaded its brain. Brolan's circuit was feeding power directly into the Kreilen's body. I suppose it magnified the destructive energy from the crystal, and completely destroyed the Kreilen."
Another explosion ripped one of the walls out, sending chunks of stone scattering across the gallery. "There must have been an energy feedback through the circuit," the Doctor added. "The whole place is going to go up." He followed Rhonwen inside the TARDIS.
A moment later, he emerged again. By now, fire was starting to rage through the art gallery. Rhonwen stood in the doorway, and watched in amazement as the Doctor weaved his way through the flames. "What are you doing?" she called.
The Doctor went to the wall, and removed the Van Gogh landscape from its hook. Then he dodged back through the leaping flames, and into the TARDIS, urgently pushing Rhonwen ahead of him. "Vincent would never forgive me if I let this go up in smoke," he muttered.
The door closed behind them, and the lamp began to flash. Her engines crying out their mournful protest, the TARDIS disappeared from the midst of the conflagration.
Where the police box had been standing, the floor exploded in a sheet of flame. The Academius Stolaris was blown apart by a fireball that erupted from the ground beneath it.