“Nice to see you too, Doc,” said Caroline. “What happened to you?”
The drone’s began to twitch nervously.
“Separate!” ordered Ethan.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” said the Doctor, looking down his nose at the old man. He turned back to Caroline. “Ran into a spot of bother. I’ll explain later.”
“This woman is unimportant,” said Ethan, to Emily.
“Who? June?” asked the Doctor. “Oh, I don’t think so. Are you unimportant, June?”
June raised her eyebrows at the Doctor and crossed over to Ethan and Emily. “My name is Corporal June Caster. I represent an Earth Empire company from the future called Eyeglass.”
“What?” said Magnus, trying to get to his feet. “I don’t understand.”
“I was sent here to clean up your mess,” said June, looking disdainfully at Blackmore.
“You are not a time sensitive,” said Ethan, eyeing the woman up and down.
“The patch,” smiled June, pulling a small, silver patch from the back of her neck. “It hides my normal life signs. You had no idea I was here.”
“June told me everything on our way down here,” said Caroline. “But what I don’t understand, Doctor, is why they haven’t done anything to us yet?”
Emily chuckled as she playfully sat down beside Blackmore and slapped him on the back.
“When you cook something, Caroline, you put it in the oven, don’t you?”
Caroline nodded…and then a look of realisation came across her face. “Oh, God.”
“This place is a hotbed of time energy. They leave us here to cook - or stew - whilst they sit back at their base on the outskirts, sharpening their knives.”
“And are we cooked yet?” asked Danny.
“You had to ask!” groaned Caroline.
“More or less,” grinned Ethan. “There’s just the anomaly missing.”
The Doctor crossed over to Ethan. “Matthew isn’t going anywhere with you.”
“He’s important to you, isn’t he?” asked Emily. “More than you let on.”
June crossed over to Blackmore and then looked up at the generator. “All this is academic anyway. I need to shut this thing down and take you two prisoner. The General would be interested in meeting you.”
The Doctor wandered over to June and leaned in to whisper to her. “All this Eyeglass thing aside, what do you need me to do?”
“Get everyone out of here. Lead those two away. I’ll shut this thing down.”
“And then we’ll talk,” said the Doctor.
“Of course,” grinned June.
The Doctor was suddenly grabbed from behind by Ethan. He was dragged back towards Danny and Caroline.
“Enough!” snapped Ethan. “We’re hungry.”
Emily brushed her hair out of her face and then proceeded to tie it back behind her head.
“You can’t be serious!” said Caroline.
Ethan and Emily just chuckled as the two of them pulled the Doctor’s head back, exposing his neck.
“Now Matthew!” shouted the Doctor.
From out the shadows, and taking the drones by surprise, Matthew Cole appeared, a baseball bat in hand. He whacked aside a couple of drones and then hit Ethan on his right thigh.
Ethan squealed in pain as he fell to the floor.
“I don’t normally like to use violence,” said the Doctor, patting Ethan on his arm, “but sometimes the ends justify the means. Sometimes. RUN!”
Caroline, Danny, Matthew and the Doctor ran for the exit and the bottom of the elevator. In the chaos, Emily and Ethan forgot about June and Blackmore and, with the drones in tow, they went after the fugitives.
Once they had left June turned to Blackmore. “Now to clean up your mess,” she said darkly.
Aleena stood outside the blue police box, her hands on her hips as she jiggled on the spot. Soon the Doctor emerged, looking a little despondent.
“What’s wrong?” asked Aleena.
“I went back to the airport,” said the Doctor, “but there’s nothing there. No signs, no indications. Nothing. If there was anything there, it’s either gone or hiding.”
Aleena let out a big sigh and then crossed over to him, rubbing him on his arm. “It’s alright,” said Aleena. “We’ll get to the bottom of it. I promise.”
The Doctor winced in pain and grabbed at his chest.
“Tablets! Tablets!” panicked Aleena, rummaging in her knapsack slung over her shoulder.
“I’ve got them,” said the Doctor, pulling out the tablet bottle and popping one into his mouth.
“Thank the Light,” she smiled. “They should help.”
“Thank you,” said the Doctor, smiling warmly. “Thank you for everything.”
“That’s okay,” said Aleena, smiling shyly. “All in a days work.”
“You didn’t have to help me though,” said the Doctor.
“I did. I wanted to help you. I think you’re fantastic.”
The Doctor could have sworn she blushed, but the blue pigmentation of her skin made it turn out purple.
“Can I come with you?” asked Aleena, suddenly and very quickly.
The Doctor smiled sadly. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh,” said Aleena, looking very hurt.
“It’s not you,” said the Doctor, crossing over to her, “but I’m not ready for anybody to come with me yet. Not when I’m in the state I’m in.”
“I understand,” said Aleena sadly.
“I need you here,” said the Doctor, placing his hands on her shoulders. “I need you to help me from the Lighthouse.”
Aleena swallowed her disappointment and smiled. “Then this is where I’ll stay. And I’ll help you. However much I can.” She suddenly realised something. “Do you have the recorder?”
“I do,” said the Doctor. “Every day I’ll record my progress and transmit the message to you.”
“You know it’d be easier if you just let me watch you from the Lighthouse.”
The Doctor shook his head. “No. I like my privacy.”
Aleena nodded in agreement. “And I respect your privacy. No more spying. I promise.”
The Doctor gave her a warm hug and then turned to go back to the TARDIS. “I’ll see you soon, Aleena. Take care.”
“I will Doctor,” she smiled sadly.
She watched as he closed the door and then the box disappeared in a gush of wind and a wheezing and groaning sound.
“Take care too,” she said sadly.
“How long do we have to keep running?” asked a breathless Caroline.
“Just a little longer,” said the Doctor. He turned to Matthew. “That’s right, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” said Matthew, also out of breath.
They turned a corner onto the broken sky link where the familiar shape of the TARDIS was waiting. The door was already open and they all piled inside, slamming the door behind them.
Inside the Doctor collided with the console and pulled a few switches, turning the scanner on.
“Thank you for moving her,” said the Doctor.
Matthew nodded. “It came naturally,” he said, a little surprised with himself.
“So what do we do now?” asked Danny. “Because I’ve had enough of those drone things already.”
“Pass me the amplifier,” said the Doctor.
Matthew crossed over to the sofa and picked up a large, red device. A mass of circuits and wires held clumsily together with a hastily put together frame and a satellite dish on the end.
“And what’ll that thing do?” asked Caroline.
“Watch,” grinned the Doctor.
He took the amplifier off Matthew and made his way out of the TARDIS and back into the sky link where he stood with the amplifier aimed towards the drones.
Ethan and Emily calmly walked around the corner. Strangely, they moved almost identically to each other.
“What are you doing with that toy, Doctor?” asked Emily.
“Knocking out a few drones,” said the Doctor, activating it.
“No!” said Emily.
“You wanted to answer,” smiled the Doctor as waves of electricity rippled from the satellite dish on the end. Anything electrical in site - the lights, the floor lights, the information screens…and the drones - were immediately knocked out.
The remaining drones shook and spluttered and then fell to the floor with a loud crash.
“My drones!” cried Ethan, falling to his knees and cradling one of the fallen devices, almost like a baby.
Emily hissed and showed her teeth to the Doctor. “You may have stopped the drones, but you haven’t stopped us.”
“True,” said the Doctor, checking his watch, “but I suspect you’ll have a few other little problems to deal with momentarily.”
Emily frowned. And then remembered the two left in the generator room.
Blackmore watched the middle-aged woman edge around the generator, carefully checking circuits and switches. She looked like a cat, circling her pray, looking for the easiest way to kill.
“How did you get here?” asked Blackmore, turning his head to look back at her.
“It wasn’t hard to track you,” said June, tapping a small grate on the machine.
“That doesn’t answer my question,” said Blackmore. “Eyeglass don’t have time travel tech. The only reason I’m here is because of that damaged time ring from the Doctor.”
“You’re new to Eyeglass, aren’t you?”
Blackmore frowned. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m not an expert.”
“The General has time travel capabilities. He just chooses not to use them. Only in the most dire emergencies.”
“So you actually used time travel to bring yourself back here.”
“Of course.” June looked up from the machine and smiled. “Poor Magnus. You’re so…out of touch with things. The General was eager to show you a lot.”
“And he still can when we get back.”
June shook her head. “No. No. Not after what you did to Annie.”
Blackmore thought back to what happened on Trixatin. Annie had been in the way of him and the circuit for the Shroud technology. He had shot her straight through the chest without remorse.
“I’ve changed since then,” said Blackmore.
“No you haven’t,” said June, returning to circling the machine. “You’re just the same, except you’re trapped and you’re scared.”
“I’m not scared.”
“Don’t lie, Magnus,” she said. “You killed that young girl. She was one of our best new agents. You just killed her and then you expect us to accept you back.”
“But you have to,” said Blackmore, realising where this was going.
“We don’t have to do anything.”
June finally located a panel and, using a device not unlike the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, was able to unfasten it. Inside was a glowing hive of green crystals.
She smiled, the green glow casting an eerie look on her face.
“I came to this time,” she continued, “after we detected your time trace here. I was able to travel back a day or two before your arrival and install myself as the nurse.” She chuckled to herself. “And then, unfortunately, I ended up crossing over into that brother and sisters weird little half-dimension.” She looked at Blackmore and thought. “Surely you could have picked somewhere better than an ancient Earth airport.”
Blackmore wasn’t really listening. He was still worried and confused over what was going to happen to him. He couldn’t stay here, on Earth in 2003 and he certainly wasn’t going to go gallivanting off with the Doctor and his annoying little companions. He wanted to go back to the Eyeglass.
“Eyeglass is expanding ever further,” said June, kneeling down and untying Blackmore’s hands. “The General has put together a fleet of ships. We’re heading out into the cosmos to investigate planets and take their technology. We’re helping to expand the Human race beyond it’s confines.”
“I want to be a part of that,” said Blackmore with a half-worried smile.
“We don’t like traitors.”
“But I did it for the good of the Human race.”
“We still don’t like traitors,” said June. “Up!”
Blackmore got to his feet and he suddenly felt the barrel of a gun press into his lower back.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Inside that opening,” she said, indicating the crystals, “is the power core of this altered Shroud technology. If we destroy the core - the crystals - then this dimension collapses and we appear back in the real Manchester airport.”
“But it’ll tear whatever’s inside to pieces?”
“No,” laughed June. “This has been developed. Advanced beyond it’s original design. We’ll be safe inside. It’ll just…melt away.”
Blackmore peered at the crystals. “How do we blow them? Your gun?”
June struck Blackmore across the back of the head with the gun. He fell against the machine and grabbed the back of his head in pain. “What was that for?!”
“This gun will be used to destroy the crystals. You see, this gun used to belong to my little sister.”
“Yes.” June knelt down in front of Blackmore and looked him right in the eyes. “We were a good twenty years apart, but she was still my sister. We found it lying near her when we went to collect her body from Trixatin.”
June smiled. But it wasn’t a happy smile. “Took a while for those Dogs to let us have the body though. Mongrels! It seems fitting that Annie’s gun is the thing that kills you.”
“What? Me? Why?”
“The General gave me my orders. Take down the vampire’s Shroud and take out Blackmore.”