“I did it,” said Aleena, aware of the Doctor’s return. “What about your friends?”
“They’ve gone through the time window,” said the Doctor. “They were trapped in the room and had no choice.”
“That was lucky! Can you get them?”
“I should be able to,” said the Doctor, gathering up some of his tools that were scattered around the machinery.
“They’re still fighting out there,” said Aleena.
“I know. Perhaps we should break the bad news to them.”
“No,” said Aleena. “We need to make sure this entire place is destroyed first.”
“Well it’s only a matter of time before it comes down anyway,” said the Doctor, feeling a trickle of brick dust fall onto his nose.
Aleena and the Doctor made their way back up to the communication room and flicked on the scanner screen which showed the battle raging up above the atmosphere. Most of the Sontaran ships had been destroyed and a large ship was picking off the remaining survivors.
“That looks like some sort of command ship,” said the Doctor.
“That’s the Victorious,” said Aleena ominously.
“You’ve heard of it?”
“I’ve watched it,” said Aleena. “That’s the General’s ship.”
“Ah, yes,” said the Doctor, folding his arms and leaning back in the chair. “I’ve heard about this General. Who is he exactly?”
“I’m not entirely sure, but he runs the Eyeglass with ruthless efficiency. You only get on board the Victorious if you’re as committed to the cause as he is.”
The Doctor shook his head in disgust. “I think we need to have a little chat with this General.”
“And how do we do that?”
“We go on board.”
“Doctor, that’s insane,” said Aleena, half-laughing. “He’ll have is arrested as soon as look at us. We need to get out of here now.”
“I need to try and speak to him.”
“And say what? Try and convince him to change his mind? He’s been running this operation for decades. He’s not about to give up just because you think you can make him have a change of heart.”
Suddenly the door burst open and a number of armour-clad soldiers burst into the room. They grabbed Aleena and the Doctor and held them with their hands tied behind their backs.
“Let us go!” shouted Aleena.
“Just relax,” said the Doctor. “You do know that the machinery has been disabled and there’s no way for us to get it up and running again.”
“You’re coming back with us. The General will make you fix it,” said one of the masked soldiers. “This is Lt. Everon to the Victorious. We have the prisoners. Bringing them aboard now.”
The Doctor and Aleena had been taken to a small, command shuttle nearby and the shuttle had taken them up into space and to the huge, imposing hulk of the Victorious, which hung in the nebula like a waiting spider would wait on it’s web.
They were taken from the shuttle and down a series of corridors until they reached a huge, metal door. The door slid open and opened out into a large, circular room which contained row after row of computer banks, monitors, readouts, and through the centre of the room was a huge, glass tube, showing the nebula and Equinox outside. It was a 306 degree view screen.
Standing in front of the screen was the General, his hands behind his back and refusing to acknowledge the Doctor or Aleena.
The soldier called Lt. Everon stepped forward. “Excuse me, sir, but we have the prisoners.”
“Excellent,” said the General, his silky tones betraying no emotion.
“It’s nice to finally meet you at last,” said the Doctor.
The General turned to the Doctor and then walked over to him, his dark eyes examining every inch of the Doctor. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“A lot of people have,” smiled the Doctor. “I guess I’m getting a little more well known then I’d like.”
The General chuckled. “I’ve known you for a little longer than you think, though,” said the General.
The Doctor was unsure of what to say.
“Come with me,” said the General, heading towards a small door at the side of the bridge.
“Sir?” said Everon.
“Take the blue girl to the cells. I’ll be okay with the Doctor. I’m sure he’ll understand once we’ve had a chat.”
“Doctor?” said Aleena, as she was quickly moved away.
“It’ll be okay, Aleena. Just stay calm.”
The Doctor was taken through the small door into a large, wood-furnished office. Ornate, wooden panels adorned the walls along with all manner of antique looking furniture. A large glass table sat in the middle and a window overlooked the nebula. The General poured the Doctor a glass of water and then gestured for him to sit down.
“Thank you,” said the Doctor as he took his seat, but continued to stare out of the window.
The General smiled, noticing the Doctor’s confusion. “Oh, it’s not a real window,” he said. “This room is deep in the heart of the ship. That’s a monitor, showing me what’s outside.”
“Lovely,” said the Doctor, taking a sip of his water.
“You, my friend, have caused me a number of problems today.”
“You can dispense with the pleasantries,” said the Doctor.
“Very well,” said the General.
“Tell me who you are and what you are playing at.”
The General leaned back in his chair and tilted his head, looking at the Doctor curiously. “You are a Time Lord, yes?”
“Yes,” said the Doctor.
“I used to work for the Time Lords. During the Time War.”
The Doctor’s heart ached a little at the mention of the Time War. A war which led to the eventual destruction of his home planet.
“You worked for them? What exactly did you do?”
The General got up and turned to face the window, his arms behind his back. “In those very early days of the Time War, the Time Lords were not too keen on going out into the battlefield themselves. So instead they found beings of higher races. I was one of those beings. A Human being from far in the future with advanced awareness and battle skills. They pumped me full of regenerating cells using one of their machines.”
The Doctor’s heart leapt. That’s exactly what he needed if he ever hoped to regenerate again. He managed to hold back his hope though.
“They made sure that should I ever be damaged, by body would heal itself. Not regenerate in the sense that you know it. I’d not change my appearance. I’d just stay like this. Forever.”
“They gave me my own TARDIS - like the others like me that they recruited - and so off we went to battle the Daleks. And when the Time War was over, I found myself the only survivor of the augmented beings. My TARDIS was damaged and unresponsive. I was thrown from it and found myself falling through the time vortex where I arrived in this time. I barely survived, but the regenerative cells helped me to eventually heal. My TARDIS was lost to me.”
“Okay,” said the Doctor, going through all of these points in his head. During the time he fought in the war, he wasn't always privy to everything the High Council were up to. “That still doesn’t explain why you formed this terrible group.”
“I was…angry at what the Time Lords did to me. They used me as a tool. They made me hate what they had done to me. The Time Lords didn’t care about anybody else. So I wondered why I did. And then I realised that I could use my power - my knowledge - to better the Human race. If the Time Lords could become so powerful, then why not the Human race.”
“So you invaded other worlds just to make the Human race better?” The Doctor felt angry.
“Exactly. What does a soldier do when he is the last of his kind? When there is nothing left for him anymore?” The General smiled.
“He doesn’t go and destroy other races!”
The General turned to face the Doctor. “See, that’s where you’re wrong. When have we ever purposely set out to destroy another race? We want nothing to do with them. We only want the technology to better our own race. I sought out Torchwood. They were a shambles by that point merely existing in this time as a memory. I took the remnants and rebuilt it into Eyeglass.”
The Doctor continued to stare at the General. “I used to have a friend who worked for Torchwood back in the 21st century. He’d be appalled at what it’s become.”
“But we’re not Torchwood, are we? We’re the Eyeglass. Always seeing. Always watching what others are doing. Torchwood is dead.”
As if to punctuate the General’s last word, the ship shuddered and the Doctor’s half-empty glass fell over.
The General frowned and pressed a button on his desk. “Kagawa, what’s going on?”
“It’s the Haven,” said Kagawa, worriedly. “They’re firing on us.”
“They just fired at our engines.”
The General straightened himself up and made his way back to the bridge. The Doctor got up and followed.
On the bridge people were busy running around, comparing readouts and all of them with the same question on their mind: why was their own ship firing on them?
“We have the Haven calling us now,” said Kagawa.
“On screen,” said the General, turning sternly towards the large, glass view screen-cylinder.
The image of Paragrim came on screen. Behind him were flames and smoke and the bridge was deserted.
“You were taken prisoner,” said the General.
“Nobody takes me prisoner. Did you think you could hold me?” said Paragrim. “I’ve given your crew over here the chance to escape. They are heading for the escape pods now. What I want is that Aleena woman.”
“What do you want with her?” asked the Doctor, stepping forward.
“To finish the job I started,” growled Paragrim. “I don’t know if anyone’s aware of this, but I seem to have been completely screwed over. Hired to do a job and never got to finish it off.”
“You got the coordinates for safe passage through the nebula,” said the Doctor.
“But I never finished her off.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t in your contract to kill the young lady,” said the General.
“I don’t sign contracts, but I always finish my victims off.”
“You’re a monster!” growled the Doctor.
“And you’re starting to sound like your Eyeglass friends.”
“I’m sorry, but the Doctor and the young lady are prisoners of Eyeglass. You shall not take them. We do not negotiate with other species when under threat.”
“Fine,” said Paragrim, leaning back in his chair. “I’ll just take your ship out and kill you all off.”
The screen went black and the ship shuddered again.
“He’s continuing to fire on us,” said Kagawa.
“You don’t say!” said the Doctor.
“Why aren’t the shields up?” shouted the General, crossing over to the tactical display.
“The Haven has all of our technical data. He knew our shield frequencies. We don’t stand a chance. We need to hand over those two.”
“I make the decisions around her, Lieutenant.”
The Doctor cleared his throat. “Perhaps it would be best-”
“No,” said the General, arms folded and trying to make a decision. “I don’t negotiate with his kind. And anyway, you could help us in the future.”
“We won’t help you,” said the Doctor.
The General scowled and then ordered Kagawa to begin targeting the Haven. When the Doctor was sure that nobody was looking he slowly slinked away into the shadows and headed for the exit.
He followed the corridor around until he reached the brig. The guard was too busy watching the battle on his monitor that he didn’t see the Doctor slip into the room.
Aleena was sat on a plain looking bed and jumped up with delight when she saw the Doctor.
“What happened?” she asked.
“No time to explain. Suffice to say we may have been given a distraction. We need to find the transmat room and beam back down to Equinox. We need to get back to the TARDIS.”
She took his hand and they snuck back out of the prison area and down a series of corridors, elevators and more corridors until they eventually found the room.
A few minutes later the surface of Equinox was lit up by the yellow colour of the transmat beam, and the Doctor and Aleena materialised beside the damaged remains of the lighthouse.
“I was kind of hoping this place would have collapsed by now,” said the Doctor.
“Don’t,” said Aleena sadly. “It’s been my home for a long time.”
“We need to make sure this place is levelled. Then I’ll get you back to your home world.”
“No,” said Aleena. “I can take myself.”
“How do you think I got here in the first place. My original shuttle’s hidden in a cavern not far from here.”
“I’ll be fine,” she said, smiling at him.
There was an almighty explosion from up above and the Haven came into view. It was spiralling down into the atmosphere, getting larger and larger the closer it got.
“The General must have put it out of commission,” said the Doctor.
“It looks like it’s gonna crash right on top of us,” said Aleena, worriedly.
“It looks very much like that could be the case,” said the Doctor. “That’ll take out the lighthouse at least.” He turned back to Aleena. “Get to your shuttle. I’ll radio you when we’re both free of the nebula. Just to check you’re okay.”
She nodded. “Good luck, Doctor.”
She turned and walked a little. Then she turned back and crossed back to the Doctor.
“You need to go Aleena.”
She pulled herself up to his height and kissed him on his cheek. “Take care. I’ll miss you. Just make sure you come to Xanji-For as soon as you’ve got Caroline and Danny.”
And with that she was gone, sprinting over the scrubland and over the ridge.
“I’ll miss you too, Aleena.”
The Haven screamed with the sound of twisting of metal as it got closer and closer. The Doctor turned and ran, past the lighthouse and towards the familiar blue shape of the TARDIS. He took one last look as the shadow of the ship was cast over the land around them. Then he dived inside the box and dematerialised.
A few seconds after he had left the Haven crashed, flattening the lighthouse and causing the land all around to shake violently. Smoke and flames billowed up from the ship. And then there was a huge explosion as the engines went into overdrive.
The ship burnt in it’s crater for over twelve hours.
The Doctor had radioed through to Aleena and they had both signalled that they were okay. Now the Doctor was standing alone in the TARDIS console room. For the first time he realised how quiet it seemed without Caroline and Danny.
He had to get to Thornsby to find them, and he made a wish that he wouldn’t encounter any problems getting there.
When he was sure that Aleena’s shuttle was out of the system and well on it’s way to safety, he set the coordinates for Thornsby, 8th May 1998.
On board the Victorious the General stood, surveying the wreckage on the surface below. He had sent people down to investigate, but they had reported that everything inside or under the lighthouse had been obliterated. Even the few remaining Sontaran ships had limped off home, not even bothering for one final skirmish.
The communications console on his desk lit up and the General pressed a button. “What is it, Kagawa?”
“He’s here to see you.”
“Send him in.”
The door swished open and standing there was a battered and blackened Paragrim, his face full of fury.
“Welcome to the Victorious, Mr Paragrim.”
“Why did you transmat me out? You had beaten me!”
“Because, I believe you and I have a mutual enemy: The Doctor.”
Paragrim snarled at his name.
“And I believe we can both help each other.”
“I want him dead.”
“My shuttle was on board the Haven. It’s gone.”
“I can get you a knew shuttle.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“How does 100,000,000 credits sound?”
“And,” added the General, “you get to kill the Doctor for fun as well.”
Aleena will return in “The Problem With Death” and Paragrim will return in “A Switch In Time”.
Next time: “Lockdown” - the Doctor arrives in Thornsby, 1998 where he goes in search of answers about Caroline, whilst Danny and Caroline get themselves involved with a dangerous pirate radio station.