In the quad, Alice knelt down over the drain. She sighed as she activated the Doctor’s strange device. The hum of power that was coming from the generator slowly died down and Alice noticed the flash in the sky to signify that the shield was down. Then, with a nervous sigh, she waited.
Outside the blue Dalek suddenly got excited, even if excitement wasn‘t an emotion known to it. “SHIELD HAS BEEN DISABLED. ADVANCE TO THE BUILDING. LOCATE THE DOCTOR.”
The Doctor watched from the tree as the three Daleks began floating over the grass and towards the old school building.
He had almost forgotten what he had to do. He took one last look back at them and then walked as fast as he could down the lane.
He had to time this exactly right. If he didn’t he may end up sacrificing Alice, and that’s something he didn’t want to do.
He turned the corner and made his way into the small close at the bottom of the cliff. A number of army vehicles were surrounding the houses and a tall, thin man in a military uniform strode up to the hurrying Doctor. His hair was grey and he wore a bushy beard. His face was stern, but he had a slight twinkle in his eyes.
“Ah, Doctor,” said the man.
“Brigadier Joseph Winters, I presume?” said the Doctor, not stopping to chat.
“Good to finally meet you,” said Winters, extending his hand. “I was a great admirer of you during the Blood and Thunder days.”
“Hmmm,” said the Doctor, arriving at the base of the chalk cliff. “Give me a leg up.”
“Do you think it’s safe to go in there, Doctor?”
“Oh, Joseph,” said the Doctor, “nothing is safe. Not when the Daleks are involved.”
Winters helped the Doctor up to the hole in the cliff and looked up at him. “Listen, do you want us to do anything? My men are at a bit of a loose end.”
“No,” said the Doctor, looking down. “Just keep everybody away from the school and this entire area. I‘ve managed to fool the Dalek’s sensors into thinking I’m still up there. My sonic’s giving off signals. But it‘s not going to fool them forever.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Blow the place up.”
“Right,” said Winters. And then he realised what the Doctor had just said. “Right! Of course.”
He saluted the Doctor, the Doctor rolled his eyes, and then he made his way back towards the UNIT vehicles.
Alice could hear the Daleks getting closer and closer. They were within range of the shield now. She sighed and activated the generator again with the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. The sky glowed with energy as the shield was re-activated. Then, grabbing a mop from the store cupboard in case she needed to protect herself. She hurried out of the quad and into the building.
A few minutes later the doors burst open and the three Daleks emerged.
One of the Daleks glided over to the drain. “SHIELD HAS BEEN LOCATED.”
“SHIELD HAS ALSO BEEN REACTIVATED. WE ARE SEALED INSIDE,” said another.
The blue Dalek looked down at the generator. “CONCENTRATE MAXIMUM FIRE POWER ON SHIELD GENERATOR. DISABLE IMMEDIATELY.”
Beams and bolts of energy were thrown from the Daleks weapons and aimed into the drain cover. Mortar and concrete flew up into the air and when the smoke cleared and the Daleks had stopped firing their weapons, the shield generator was still intact.
“SHIELD IS UNDAMAGED. SENSORS INDICATE IT IS HOUSED WITHIN A MICRO-SHIELD.”
“FIND A WAY TO DISABLE,” barked the blue Daleks. It turned to the other Dalek. “LOCATE THE DOCTOR AND HIS HUMAN ASSOCIATE.”
The Doctor had made his way back into the Dalek shuttle. It was in darkness again, with only a small, computer console glowing in the corner. He knew what he had to do. He had to activate the dormant crystals in the engine and blow it up. But he had to make it a slow build-up. He needed time to get down to the TARDIS and then fly it back to the school.
The Doctor stepped into the shadows and was about to start work on the engine, when the looming shadow of a Dalek glided into view.
“STOP!” barked the Dalek, as the Doctor froze on the spot. “YOU ARE THE DOCTOR. YOU MUST BE DESTROYED.”
“Go on then,” said the Doctor, with a huff. “You’ve never been able to do it before now. So what makes you think you can do it now?”
“WHY ARE YOU NOT WITHIN THE SHIELD?”
“You’re all so stupid aren’t you. Clearly the centuries buried under this rock has addled your brains.”
“I MUST INFORM THE SHUTTLE COMMANDER OF THIS DEVELOPMENT,” said the Dalek, turning to face a communications console.
“Oh, don’t bother old Bluey,” said the Doctor, skipping up behind him.
It was then that the Doctor noticed that the Dalek was connected to a console via a large, thick cable. He knelt down beside it and examined it. It appeared to be some kind of power cable.
The Dalek suddenly became aware of the Doctor’s intrigue. “DO NOT TOUCH THE POWER CABLE.”
“Interesting,” said the Doctor, a smile playing across his lips. “I knew you lot had been under here for a while. But I didn’t know you were so low on power.”
“SYSTEMS HAVE DEGRADED TO THE POINT OF COLLAPSE. PREVIOUS ENERGY BUILD UP HAS NOW FALTERED.”
The Doctor had a thought. Maybe he didn’t need to blow up the shuttle. Maybe the Daleks up above would simply run out of power.
“STEP AWAY FROM THE POWER CABLE.”
“Or what?” said the Doctor, standing up, his arms outstretched in front of the Dalek. “What are you going to do? Your powers are draining. You daren’t try and exterminate me.”
“I SAID STEP AWAY FROM THE CABLE.”
The Doctor smiled. “Sorry, old fella, but it’s not going to happen.”
The Doctor couldn’t risk it. He needed to blow the ship. He ducked under the Dalek’s sucker arm and then kicked the pepper pot away. It glided slowly across the room, but still didn’t attempt to fire at him. It must have been on it’s last vestiges of power.
All the Dalek could do was watch on helplessly as the Doctor began to set his plan in motion.
It had been almost 15 minutes and Alice could hear them outside. The strange, metallic sound of them gliding across the floor grated against the concrete of the school corridor. They were getting closer and closer to the store cupboard she was hiding inside.
She inwardly laughed at herself. She was cramped in a dark, confined space with nothing but a pathetic mop to fight off these creatures. Either way she looked at it, she was screwed. She just had to hope that the Doctor had gotten to the shuttle. Pretty soon they’d locate her. She wondered why they hadn’t already found her. They must have been getting weaker and weaker for their sensors not to detect her.
And then she suddenly heard a familiar, guitar-led tune coming from her jean pocket. At first she didn’t know what to do. She was scared. Surely the Daleks would hear the sounds.
Her hands flashed to her pocket and she grabbed her mobile.
“Yes?” was all she could whisper into the speaker.
“Drop the shields. Drop them now!” came the Doctor’s voice.
Alice didn’t think. She didn’t have time to. She knew this was her only chance. She kicked the door open, leapt out of the store cupboard, arms trying to cover her face and ran across the width of the corridor and around the corner towards the door.
She could hear the Daleks in the distance. “HUMAN FEMALE SIGHTED. PURSUE. PURSUE!”
But she didn’t stop. She didn’t even look at where she was going. She then felt herself stumbling forward, just as a blast of energy from the Daleks gun blasted over her head. She landed with a thud on the ground and opened her eyes. She was right in front of the drain covering the shield generator.
Somewhere in the distance she could hear the sounds of weird, alien engines wheezing and groaning and struggling to get through.
The Daleks were right behind her. She grabbed the sonic screwdriver from her pocket and aimed it at the generator. It fizzed and puffed and spluttered, and then shut down. The shield around the school lowering in a dazzling light show of orange and golden light.
And then, slowly but surely, the image of a blue, wooden box materialised in front of Alice. She gazed up at it wide-eyed, hardly able to comprehend what was now happening.
The door clicked open and standing there was the Doctor, resting slightly on his cane.
“Doctor…” she said.
“Thank you, Alice,” he said with a smile, kneeling down and helping her to her feet.
“YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!” screamed the blue Dalek.
“Oh, Bluey,” smiled the Doctor, “I suspect your power is now long gone.”
“EXTERMINATE” it screamed.
The Daleks aimed their guns, but the deadly blast of energy that had become a familiar site from the Dalek’s weaponry was nowhere to be seen.
“You’re all dying,” said the Doctor. “It’s over. Finished.”
“NO. WE CANNOT DIE.”
“I don’t know if you can remember - it’s so long ago now - but back on your homeworld of Skaro, when your power ran out, I left you all to decay in the city.” He edged a little closer and looked directly into the Dalek’s eyestalk. “Well, not this time. I’m not going to let a single one of you have the opportunity to get out of here.”
Alice frowned. That sounded pretty cold, even if it was against these evil creatures.
“Alice, in the TARDIS please.”
Alice didn’t need to be told twice. She backed herself up and slipped into the door.
“YOU MUST…HELP US…” pleaded the blue Dalek.
“Sorry,” said the Doctor, sighing. “the damage has already been done.”
He kissed the palm of his hand and then pressed it against the blue Daleks’s dome. With a final wink, he grabbed his cane and walked back into the TARDIS.
“RETREAT TO THE SHUTTLE!” screamed the blue Dalek. “DOCTOR!”
Inside the TARDIS, Alice stood, gob smacked at the sight which greeted her. Instead of a small, wooden box interior, there was a church-like room. The stone walls rose high up into the air, curving and meeting in the middle, the wall pocked with green, glowing circles. In the centre of the room was some kind of console with a glowing, green tube that rose up and to the ceiling.
The Doctor walked down the pathway to the console, turned and looked at her.
The Doctor smiled as he pulled a lever and set the ship in motion. “Let me explain…”
A little while and a few explanations later, the Doctor and Alice were standing next to the blue police box which had landed next to the Doctor’s house in Little Pebbleford. They were staring up at the hill where the school was situated.
Alice had slowly gotten over the shock of what the TARDIS was, and was re-adjusting to having moved from the school.
After a few minutes watching she said, “Do you think they’ll escape?”
“That shield? No. Never,” said the Doctor.
“Is there just no way to stop the engines? Do we have to blow up the school?”
The Doctor sighed as he lent on his cane. “I can’t leave any trace of them being here. There’s already too much alien-tech floating around in this time period. The explosion will obliterate them and their spaceship. It’s for the best.”
Alice thought for a moment. “Why wouldn’t you help them?”
His eyes flicked darkly to her.
“I-I mean,” she stuttered, “why couldn’t you have taken them away somewhere else. Dropped them off at a space prison or…or something?”
The Doctor lowered his head and looked at the ground. “It’s because I’m dying, Alice.”
“Dying?” She wasn’t sure what to say.
“I’ve fought the Daleks for so long. Now every time I fight them or some other alien menace, it feels like the last time. I can’t leave thing’s unresolved. I have to make sure I’ve done the very, very best I can in each situation.”
“But surely someone else-”
“No,” said the Doctor coldly. “When I’m gone, who else is going to stop the evil out there?”
Alice was about to reply when there was a huge flash in the sky. The dome-like shield around the school was momentarily lit up by the explosion that had erupted from deep under the school. And then, with a huge roar and rumble, the cliff, the school and everything else within the shield slowly collapsed and crumbled.
And then the shield failed, causing a landslide of bricks, mortar, rubble and chalk to come tumbling down.
On the housing area at the base of the cliff - long since evacuated - homes were crushed under the weight of the rubble, billows of smoke ploughing around buildings and snaking through gardens like some phantom smoke monster.
And then, after another, final shudder, everything fell silent.
The Doctor and Alice watched on in silence for a long, long time.
Alice finally broke the silence.
“I guess I need a new job then.”
Time had passed. It was dawn and the Doctor had liaised with UNIT to clear up the mess and cover up the incident.
A day later, when the Doctor returned to Casterby House after dealing with the clean-up operation, he found Alice sat on the wall, a suitcase next to her.
“Can I help you, Miss Stokes?” he said, taking the TARDIS key from his jacket pocket.
“Yeah,” she said, getting up and hefting up her suitcase.
“Are you going somewhere?”
“With you,” she said.
“I’m afraid not,” he said, with a little laugh.
“You owe me one, Doctor,” she said.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You blew up my school. My job. I’ve got nothing to do now. The kids are all being taught in nearby Featherby from next week. They don’t need teachers there as they’ve got their own. All of us lot are just…well, we’re just on standby until they can build the new school. Even Mrs Metcalfe’s planning a trip to Spain for a few weeks.”
“I can whip you forward a few months if you like.”
“Nope,” said Alice, walking over to the TARDIS. “I’m taking this as my opportunity to have a bit of a holiday.”
The Doctor laughed and shook his head. “It’s dangerous. Not holiday material at all.”
She let out a huge sigh. “When I was a kid, looking after my sisters, I never really got a chance to have fun and adventure like most kids do. Well, this is my pay day.”
“But I’m dying. I don’t know when it will happen. It could be today, it could be tomorrow.”
“Or it could be months and months from now,” she said. “And surely you’d want someone with you for one last run of adventures?”
“There’s still so much you don’t know about me.”
“Well, we’ve got time,” she said with a smile. “I’m coming. You can’t stop me.”
The Doctor shook his head in defeat. “Okay, but as soon as I become incapable of saving you-”
“-speak for yourself!” said Alice. “I’m quite capable of taking on aliens myself.”
“When the end comes,” he said, a little more urgently, “then I take you home.”
“Deal,” said Alice, holding out her hand.
Reluctantly, the Doctor shook her hand. “Come along then, Miss Stokes. Let’s get the kettle on and see where this old box takes us.”
He unlocked the door and let her inside. He was about to step in when he realised something. “Hold on a mo. Just got to get a few things from the house.”
Five minutes later he was locking up Casterby House and carrying three carrier bags worth of all manner of items that he’d had in the house since his arrival. He pushed open the door, gave one more look around and then stepped inside.
A few minutes later, with a wheezing and groaning sound, the TARDIS disappeared.
Standing behind a tree in the graveyard was the school headmaster, David Groves. He lifted a wrist-device to his mouth as he looked on at where the TARDIS had been standing.
“This is Agent Maxus to control,” he said into the device.
“Go ahead, Maxus,” came a voice from the wrist device.
“The Doctor has taken the package. He collected it just before he left. All is going to plan.”
“Excellent,” came the reply. “Return to base.”
“Over,” said the head teacher.
He smiled as he flicked a button on the wrist device. The bald-headed form of David Groves slowly shimmered and changed until standing in his place was a tall, muscular, dak-skinned man. He laughed as he made his way down into the centre of Little Pebbleford.
The face appeared again.
It smiled again.
And then it slept.
Next Week: The Doctor and Alice travel to the uninhabited ice world of Issenttii - the site of one of the first Human colonies. The Tipping Point starts on Saturday 1st February 2014.