The Doctor and Rose in a space whodunit.
Kenkal Mission Control on Craydor-San Prime, a planet in the Zenzak System
The control room was a hive of activity. Technicians bustled about, passing memos and typing furiously on their consoles. Commander Grevlanrich could hardly hear himself think over the din of excited chatter, which filled the room. He leaned over the shoulder of Chief Technician Acacia Lenk his huge form casting her in shadow as he squinted at the screen. He needed glasses, but was too proud to wear them while his peers were watching. Instead he leaned even closer to the screen so as to read the information displayed.
“Are you sure of your facts Lenk,” he grumbled, “This is a very important and expensive mission. I can’t have anything go wrong this time.”
“I sure, sir. All the computers read ready for launch,” she replied.
“Glad to hear it. But we must always double check. Computers can be wrong. You may start launch procedure.”
She pulled the microphone attached to her headset down so it was level with her mouth and pressed the green button, which would start the launch procedure.
“Attention. Attention launch procedure has been initiated. Please make your way to your assigned positions.”
Grevlanrich stood in front of the screen showing the launch pad, his hands behind his back and head up. He was cautiously optimistic. Last cycle’s attempt had been a disaster. Sabotage by a dissenting faction had resulted in the destruction of an expensive ship and the death of Craydor-San’s best astronauts. This time they wouldn’t find it so easy. Security had been stepped up two hundred percent and everyone involved in the project had been security checked, even the cleaners and caterers. It was the Commander’s last chance to get the colonising project off the ground before he was forced to retire. At the moment only a small group of scientists lived in the Craydor-San Luna complex, but soon they would extend the research facility to encompass enough room for a small colony to live and work. He glanced at the clock showing the countdown, only a minute now before lift off and hopefully success.
Everyone was tense. They were more nervous about this launch that they were the first time. They were all afraid that history would repeat itself.
“30 seconds till lift off,” said Chief Technician Lenk, her voice ringing out around the base. She tapped the console nervously. The seconds ticked away slowly as if trying to prolong the anticipation.
“20 seconds till lift off-,” She checked the readings again. All systems were still fine.
“10 Seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…we have lift off.”
The surface of Craydor-San’s moon was a desolate landscape. It’s surface swept by unpredictable winds. The ground seemed to be made up of a pink and blue marble-like substance veined with black, certainly an attack on the senses for anyone who saw the world in colour. But the Craydorlites only ever saw in black, white, and shades of grey. They had no idea that they dressed in garish colours or that their planet was a wealth of colours and shades.
Near one of the mountain ranges sat a complex of shell like buildings attached to one another by corridors both above and below ground. Several towers looking very similar to lighthouses sported observation galleries. In one of those galleries stood Professor Jelcad Rendeg. He stared out of the window at the Luna landscape. He had been part of the original team and so had been living in the complex for ten cycles, but the selenologist was still enchanted by this new world. He had jumped at the chance to visit the place he had studied from afar for so long, but things weren’t as he expected the thin atmosphere restricted the scientist’s range of exploration, as they could not stray too far from the base because of the limitation of oxygen supply. Jelcad longed to see what lay on the other side of the moon.
Suddenly he spotted something, a movement behind one of the rocky outcrops, a fleeting shadow. He called one of his colleagues.
“Fradi! Fradi, come quick!”
The young biologist ran up the stairs, taking two steps at a time.
When she reached the top she quickly asked, “What is it Jelcad? What’s wrong?”
“I saw something. A movement, over there,” he pointed in the direction.
She peered out the window, but could see nothing but rock and dust.
Dr Fradi Hendo was one of the few of her species who could see colour and thus had an advantage over her friend in some respects.
“There is nothing there,” she replied, folding her arms.
“But I was so sure,” he wined, disappointed.
“It’s just your imagination. Everyone knows there is nothing on this planet but us.”
“It was there. Why don’t you believe me?”
“Oh I believe you saw something, but it wasn’t a little man from the moon,” Fradi smiled. She put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “You should get some rest.”
“I know but I just can’t sleep, not after what happened to Kelsan.”
“You are quite safe, we all are. The oxygen pipe getting blocked was just an accident. Kelsan was just unfortunate that it was his room that was cut off.”
“Jelcad, you will not suffocate in your sleep,” she said firmly. “Now go on. Get some rest. Doctor’s orders.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Jelcad, raising his eyebrows and giving a mock salute.
He turned on his heels and headed down the spiral staircase.
Meanwhile the shuttle ‘Benefit II’ that carried the desperately needed supplies and equipment progressed unrelentingly towards its destination.
“Sevret, what’s our E.T.A.?” Asked Captain Yandil, as he sat in his captain’s chair.
“We should make land fall in two hours,” replied the first officer.
“Two hours…two hours till we actually get a chance to see that famous satellite which orbits our planet up close. A momentous occasion is it not?” Yandil waved his hand expressively, “That is not a rhetorical question crew.”
“Aye sir,” replied the three other crewmembers.
“Do you think they will let us go for a walk round when we get there, sir?” asked the navigation officer Asdel.
“You’ll have to ask the chief scientist about that,” he replied. “But I have heard there’s not much to see.”
“Seems like everything has worked this time,” said Chief Technician Lenk to her colleague.
“But everything could still go wrong. How long till touchdown?”
“They should be on the surface in half an hours time.”
Lenk glanced over at where Commander Grevlanrich stood his eyes fixed intently on the screen, plotting the space shuttles course. Failure was not an option. He was facing the prospect ‘retirement’ after last cycle’s disaster. His notoriety as a hero of the war with Gengal, would not keep him his position. The tide was turning, soon they would appoint a civilian to direct Craydor-San’s space program. Lenk had heard rumours that maybe she was in the running, having been part of the program from the start she hoped this was true. She smiled. If everything went as she planned it might just go her way.
Dr Nilor waited a safe distance away. Watching the shuttle land. The jet’s it used to slow its descent sending up billowing clouds of dust. Nilor smiled underneath the oxygen mask covering his face. He disliked having to wear the cumbersome apparatus, but without it he would suffocate in a matter of minutes. A situation the crotchety old scientist did not want to be in, no matter how much he complained to his colleagues about the restrictions they faced.
He waited until everything was settled and the doors of the capsule had opened before approaching. Nilor could see the outlines of the four crewmembers silhouetted against the interior light. He waved one gloved hand to attract their attention. He, like the rest of the resident scientists was glad of new company. Spending such a long time with the same six people could be a trial.
One of the astronauts approached the scientist, a pistol slung from his belt. He indicated which frequency to turn the comms system to. Nilor quickly adjusted his receiver; almost at once he picked up the crews chatter.
“Ah, there you are,” said Nilor with a sigh.
“You must be from the complex. Dr Nilor I presume,” replied the astronaut.
“Yes. I am in charge. I am afraid I’m not familiar with your names. You now how temperamental the communications system is here. My Geologist tells me its something to do with the rock.”
“I will have to ask him about that.”
“Not likely,” whispered Nilor under his breath. Their resident geologist, Kelsan had died over a week ago in a tragic accident, and was now sitting in one of the freezer compartments, but Dr Nilor wasn’t about to volunteer the information to his new guests.
“I am Captain Yandil. This is my crew,” he indicated each of the three as he introduced them. “Sevret my first officer, Asdel navigator, and the quiet fellow is Denvor, ace pilot.”
Nilor greeted each of them with a friendly nod.
“Do you have the supplies?” asked the scientist expectantly.
“Of course, mission control sends its apologies for the delay,” replied Yandil.
“If you will follow me, I will take you to the research complex. Are you going to bring the supplies with you now or shall I arrange the use of one of the buggies to collect the stuff?”
“I and my crew will deal with the transport, but we would like to have a break before we begin unloading.”
“Why certainly. You have come a long way,” said Dr Nilor leading them across the rugged landscape towards the complex, hidden behind the crest.
Lilne crept slowly toward the garage. In her hand she wielded a large, heavy spanner the first thing to hand in the chaos that was her workshop. Her job as technician had expanded to become a general caretaker being called to any problem big or small that the others couldn’t fix. It had been on one of her usual spot checks that she heard a strange noise coming from the garage area. At first Lilne had dismissed the wheezing, grating noise as her imagination, a side effect of the stress they had all been under, but her curiosity had got the better of her. She decided to investigate. If anything were wrong the other scientists, especially the grumpy old Dr Nilor would blame her, like they always did. As a Gengal citizen she was always held with suspicion, old prejudices ran deep.
Lilne reached out with one hand and pulled the leaver, which released the heavy metal door. There was a hiss as the lock unsealed. She kicked the door open with her foot, it swung back impacting against the wall with a clang. She cringed. If something nasty was hiding in there it now knew she was coming. The garage was dark, unusual, as the lights should have come on automatically. She cursed under her breath whatever bright spark designed the complex. The manual light switch was over the other side of the room. Lilne stepped further into the garage, her footsteps echoing all around her. She jumped. There was a sound from the far side of the room like a door being opened. She lost her nerve and pelted towards where she knew the light switch to be. When she reached the opposite wall she felt along the smooth metal fumbling to find the switch, sure now that there was someone or something inside the garage with her…voices. She could feel her heart pounding. Finally she felt the plastic switch under her fingertips and she quickly switched it to on, hoping the light would banish what monster lay in wait.
Dr Nilor and the astronauts passed through the final airlock. The grumbling scientist ripped of his breathing apparatus and flung it down with contempt. The crew of the ‘Benefit II’ discarded their equipment in a much more orderly fashion.
“I am sorry the rest of my team are not here to greet you, but there is work to be done,” explained Nilor, running his thin fingers through his grey hair. “I-,”
“No need to apologise Doctor. We all know how valuable your work here is,” replied Captain Yandil.
Suddenly an alarm went off. Its piercing wail resonating in the ears of everyone.
“What’s that?” exclaimed Sevret, resting his hand on his gun holster prepared for trouble.
“Intruder alarm. Someone must have pressed the panic button,” replied Nilor. He hoped it wasn’t one of Jelcad’s hoaxes. He could do without the scientist’s paranoid delusions.
“Well lead on. We had better deal with this intruder,” said Yandil.
Lilne had been surprised when she saw that her ‘monster’ was in fact two people standing in front of a large cuboid, the words ‘Police Call Box’ written on it. The man was dressed casually and wearing a battered leather jacket. His hair was an outdated cropped style. The girl had light hair and was a little younger than Lilne; she wore a tracksuit, which was definitely from another era.
“Fantastic!” exclaimed the stranger. He smiled at her. “Let there be light!”
Lilne just stood stock still with the spanner held, poised to strike, and a scared look on her face.
“It’s all right,” said the girl. Her accent was strange. “We aren’t gonna’ hurt you.”
“Who-,” Lilne managed to stammer out, “Who are you?”
She heard the girl whisper to the stranger, “She sounds foreign.”
“I’m The Doctor,” said the man pointing to himself, “and this is my travelling companion Rose.”
“I’m Lilne. You are not supposed to be here,” she stated, brandishing the spanner.
“Let me guess. Restricted area? Top-secret research facility?” replied the one who called himself the Doctor. “Now if you would just calm down we can discuss everything nicely.”
“Not likely,” she glanced over to the large round button set into the wall. “I’ll let the others deal with you.”
Lilne hit the button. A wailing siren burst into life.
Jelcad lay on the couch looking up at the ceiling. He was tired but his mind was so busy. With the thoughts of death and the glimpses he had seen of the aliens, he could not fall asleep. He wished he could at least convince someone that his theory was correct. Why didn’t anyone else see what he did? His eyelids felt so heavy if he just closed them for a few minutes he would be able to cope for a little longer.
When he woke up there was a wailing siren. Jelcad looked at the clock set into the wall. Only an hour had passed. What could have gone wrong? Maybe someone had spotted his alien. The thought of him missing this momentous occasion made him leap to his feet. He reached out to pull the door open but it wouldn’t budge. He jiggled the handle around then pulled at it again but it didn’t move. The door was jammed. He banged on the door with his fist and shouted through the metal plated door hoping to attract someone’s attention. Jelcad ripped a lamp from its socket and pounded at the door with its metal stand, afraid of being entombed forever.
Minutes later the crew of the ‘Benefit II’ came bursting into the garage area brandishing their guns, ready to repel a full scale attack. Dr Nilor, out of breath followed them in having fallen behind in the mad dash to get to the southern part of the complex. He lent against the open door one hand on his chest as he tried to collect himself. Captain Yandil on the other hand seemed disappointed there wasn’t something hostile he could shoot.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Who are you?” replied Lilne, sceptically.
“Captain Yandil of the shuttle ‘Benefit II’ ma’am.”
“Well I’m sure this is all very interesting to you,” interrupted the Doctor, “but would you mind not waving those guns about. If you miss your gonna’ blow a hole through the metal plating and I for one don’t wish to suffocate, thank you.”
“And who are you,” exclaimed Dr Nilor, his voice wobbly.
“I’m the Doctor and this is Rose.”
“Another scientist? How on Craydor did you get here?”
“In my ship,” replied The Doctor patting the large box he stood in front of, a grin on his face. “I was just passing through. Put the co-ordinates in backwards by mistake.”
“I don’t know what your playing at but we don’t take kindly to intruders here,” snapped Nilor. “Captain take these two into custody immediately.”
Fradi was on her way to investigate the source of the alarm. She feared it was one of Jelcad’s hoaxes. Ten cycles confined to a small area of this barren desert of a planetary satellite, lack of sleep and his wife’s death had pushed him over the edge. Mrs Rendeg had been on the first shuttle, which had exploded, killing all its passengers. Talk of sabotage had put the alien idea into his head. He was sighting ‘aliens’ more and more frequently. He was becoming a safety risk and Fradi was afraid that he would do something drastic next. She wasn’t a psychologist, and was just guessing that what she was doing was the right thing, not making it worse.
As Fradi passed the door to the lounge area she heard frantic banging. Someone was pounding at the metal door. She knocked back.
She heard a muffled reply.
A scuffling sound and a faint voice.
Fradi pulled down the leaver, which unsealed the door. She slowly pulled it open.
“Its only me,” she called out nervously.
Suddenly the door was wrenched open, out of her hands. Holding the door open was Jelcad. His hair was a mess, his clothes rumpled and he had a manic look in his eye.
“Professor Rendeg,” she let out a sigh of relief, “It’s you. I thought…I thought-,”
“The aliens,” he exclaimed.
“The aliens. They locked me in here.” He looked around him his eyes searching the room. “You, you believe me don’t you?”
“The door was still sealed. No one locked you in, you just forgot to pull the leaver.”
“There everywhere. Hiding. Waiting till you fall asleep then they pounce.”
“Come on, Jelcad,” she put a reassuring hand on his arm, “Sit down and tell me calmly what happened. Did you set off the alarm?”
“Alarm? What alarm,” he asked suddenly looking up at the ceiling. “The vents!”
“Can’t you hear them in the vents?”
“No. No I can’t… Now, why don’t you come with me? I’ll give you something to help you sleep,” she suggested, gently.
The thick metal door slammed shut. Dr Nilor pulled the leaver, which resealed the storage room. It was the best they could come up with for a makeshift holding area. The designer of the research complex had not banked on having to deal with intruders on a lifeless piece of rock.
“Captain Yandil would you and your crew mind acting as prison guards. My team has work to be done and no weapons,” asked Dr Nilor, pleased to offload a ‘security issue’ onto someone else for a change. Such problems were not covered in his brief.
“Of course Dr.”
“Will we need to interrogate the prisoners, sir?” asked Sevret.
“I would like to volunteer for the task, sir,” replied the first officer, eager to please his superior.
“I think it would be best if I interviewed the intruders,” said Yandil.
In his lab Dr Drendash checked the store cupboard. The chemist was obsessively organised, every jar and bottle labelled and accounted for. He was especially vigilant when it came to the dangerous chemicals. Not only did he know everything that should and shouldn’t be there by heart but also he kept a ledger just in case his memory failed him. Today he was doing his regular stock take when he noticed several of his most volatile chemicals were missing. He pushed his glasses back up his nose, then moved some of the bottles around hoping that he had only misplaced the combustible substances in the wrong position, but to his dismay this was not the case. They were missing. Drendash checked his list. He was not mistaken someone had taken, the chemicals. He ran his fingers down the storage cupboard door, checking the lock. He couldn’t see any sign of the door being forced. It must have been someone with a key, but only he and Dr Nilor had a key. What would the physicist want with those chemicals? He must ask him what he meant to do, and remind the head scientist that he must ask before taking his property.
Inside the storage room the Doctor was already at work trying to figure out how to get out of their predicament. He removed the sonic screwdriver from his jacket pocket.
“What are you doing,” asked Rose, examining the room.
There was a faint whirr and the lid of one of the boxes that were piled up in the small room clicked open.
“Obtaining information,” replied the Doctor.
Rose walked over to him. He was rummaging in the box. He picked out a foil wrapped slab of something with Bad Wolf Brand Food printed on the front and held it in the air.
“Look. Space food. Care for a Sunday roast?” he asked, with a grin.
“I’ll pass thank you. Shouldn’t we be trying to escape?”
“Patience, Rose, patience.”
She rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe it. You’re actually enjoying yourself.”
“No I’m not,” he smiled. “But I do like a challenge.”
There was a hiss as the door was unsealed. The Doctor quickly slipped the screwdriver into his pocket.
“Dr Nilor! Wait,” yelled Drendash, after the fleeting figure of his superior rushed down the corridor past the chemist. “Nilor! I want a word with you!”
Drendash jogged down the corridor after him, but when he turned the corner the corridor was empty. He scratched his head. Where could Nilor have got to? The scientist was an old man, he couldn’t have moved that fast. Drendash noticed the door to the basement had been left ajar. Maybe that’s where Nilor had got to? He stepped through the door the staircase was dark. Unusual, he thought the lights were supposed to be automatic. He made a note to tell Technician Lilne to have them fixed. He felt along the wall, but there was no manual switch. He peered into the darkness from the light of the open door way. He was sure he saw movement. Drendash took the first step cautiously keeping his hand on the rail. He was halfway down the stairway when he heard a noise.
“Hello! Is there anyone there?” He listened intently for a reply. “Dr Nilor is that you?”
A shuffle of footsteps.
“Who is that?” asked Drendash, “Stop messing about.”
A figure appeared in front of him. Drendash could just about make out the features.
“Oh it’s you,” he yelped, unnerved, “What are you doing here? I thought you were-,”
His sentence was cut of as something heavy impacted with his skull. He tumbled down the stairs, landing at the bottom with a heavy thunk.
“Im tellin’ ya,” replied the Doctor, “I am not a stowaway. Why would I hide in your ship? I’ve never even been to your planet before.”
“So you are saying,” answered Captain Yandil, scratching his head in bemusement. “That you and your … assistant aren’t from Craydor and you’re not from the moon, which means-,”
“Yes, which means,” the Doctor said encouragingly.
“That you’re lying through your teeth,” blurted out First officer Sevret.
“Sevret,” snapped Yandil. “You are not helping.”
“I’m sorry, sir. But-,”
“But nothing. Go and find something useful to do.”
“Aye, sir,” replied Sevret reluctantly. Leaving the room with a smart salute.
“He’s eager,” offered the Doctor, leaning back in the chair he sat on, his arms crossed.
“Yes,” replied Yandil, stretching out the word yes. “Back to business. So if you’re not from around these parts where do you hail from?”
The Doctor glanced at Rose she glanced back at him then looked up at the captain.
“Earth. I come from Earth,” said Rose. “You probably wouldn’t have heard of it. It’s a long way away.”
Captain Yandil burst out laughing. “Oh I’ve heard of it. An amusing jest but come now tell me the truth.”
The Doctor smiled a smile of someone who knew what was going on.
“What’s so funny,” demanded Rose. Frowning.
Yandil stopped laughing. “You’re serious, then.”
“Of course I’m serious.”
“Earth is a myth. Our planet’s the ancient writings say that we travelled from it to Craydor-San,” explained the captain.
The Doctor lent over and whispered in Rose’s ear, “Here Earth is a legend in the same way you think of Atlantis.”
She nodded slowly, her head felt slightly muddled. Her breaths were becoming short.
“Now we’ve got that settled. Where are you really from and what are you doing here?”
“Doctor,” exclaimed Rose, resting her hand on her chest, “There’s something wrong… I…can’t… breathe.”
First officer Sevret stomped angrily down the corridor. He was loyal to the Captain but he hated Yandil’s soft touch when it came to prisoners. The first officer was of the lower classes on Craydor and so it had taken years to work his way up the promotional ladder whereas his superior was a gentleman, a noble placed in his lofty position by favours. Sevret longed for his promotion, and a chance to show his loyalty and devotion to the cause. Lost in his own thoughts he did not notice Lilne coming in the opposite direction. She was carrying a box full of tools and her face was streaked with grease. They collided with each other sending the tools flying.
“Watch where you’re going!” exclaimed Sevret.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going,” retorted Lilne. “You cumbersome oaf!”
“Don’t take that tone with me Technician. I’ll report you to your superior.”
“I-,” Lilne paused for a moment.
There was a hollow ‘clunk’ sound that echoed round the base and the gentle hum, which had been so familiar stopped.
“What was that?” asked Sevret.
The technician walked over to one of the air vents. She held her hand up to the grating. She couldn’t feel a breeze not even a faint wisp of oxygen flowing through.
“The air re-circulator has broken again,” she explained, gathering up her tools. “I’ll have to go and fix it.”
“Are we going to suffocate?”
“Not if you help me,” Lilne replied, with a sigh. “Come on.”
“Where are we going,” demanded Sevret.
“To the basement. Where else?”
As Fradi led Jelcad down the corridor she began to feel breathless, her head was getting muggy her movements more laboured. She turned to her companion he was also struggling.
“What’s happening,” she asked.
“The air it’s been cut off…just like Kelsan. I won’t let them win,” he exclaimed, turning left as they came to the junction.
“Where are you going,” asked Fradi.
“To the air lock.”
“The oxygen masks are kept there. We can use what oxygen is left in them,” explained Jelcad, in a fit of lucidness. “We can take the spare tanks to the others.”
The others. Fradi in her panic had forgotten about them.
“We had better hurry before we all suffocate.”
“Someone’s turned the yarvin oxygen off! The vents aren’t pumping fresh air through the base,” exclaimed Captain Yandil, his face going puce out of rage. “I thought that technician was supposed to keep the pumps maintained.”
“Look I’m a…engineer,” the Doctor added under his breath, “of sorts.”
“And if you give me a chance I can fix the problem with the oxygen supply.”
“Quick…Doctor,” gasped Rose.
“So?” he said holding his arms out wide in a gesture of honesty.
“Alright,” replied Yandil, “But give me your parole. Promise me you won’t try to escape.”
“You have my parole,” said the Doctor, shaking the captains hand. But behind his back he crossed his fingers. “Scouts honour.”
“Doctor,” reiterated Rose.
Lilne was surprised when she found the door to the basement open. She could have sworn she had sealed it when she left and she was the only person who would have a reason for visiting the deep mechanical heart of the base.
“Hold this,” she said dumping her toolbox in Sevret’s arms.
“What do you think I am your slave,” he exclaimed.
“No. But you’re here to help, so shut up and quit complaining,” she barked back at him.
Lilne pushed the door open wide. The light from the doorway hardly gave any illumination. She grabbed her torch from the toolbox and switched it on. Its pencil thin beam was not exactly the best thing for this situation she usually used it for lighting up small spaces inside machinery but it was better than no light at all. She stepped forward, instinctively reaching for the cold metal handrail that bordered the concrete steps.
“Stay there,” she said to Sevret, “I’ll get the lights working then you can come down.”
The first officer mumbled something offensive in reply, Lilne didn’t quite catch all of it and was glad she hadn’t.
She swept the beam across in front of her holding the torch at waist height. She had got only a quarter of the way down the steps when she felt something under her foot. It made a crunching sound like glass breaking. She lifted her foot off the object and looked down, pointing the torch down at it. Lilne realised what it was a pair of glasses. It had been the lenses, which had made the sound. She bent down and picked them up holding them nearer the light. She recognised them they were Dr Drendash’s glasses. What were they doing down here? She thought to herself. Lilne directed the torch beam to the steps in front of her there was some dark liquid that stained the next few steps. She bent down to examine the stain. It was…blood.
“Officer Sevret,” she called up the stairs.
“Yes,” he replied.
“I think you had better come down here, leave the toolbox where it is,” she said nervously. Something was wrong very wrong.
Sevret was soon by her side. She pointed at the step with the blood holding the torch so it illuminated the scene.
“Someone’s been hurt. Look,” she opened her hand to show him the glasses.
“Glasses. Who’s are they?”
“Dr Drendash’s. He’s our chemist,” she added in explanation.
The first officer took the glasses from her and placed them in his pocket.
“Evidence,” he said. “Let’s see where the blood leads to.”
They both continued down the steps till they came to an end in the basement.
“I’ll turn the light on,” suggested Lilne, taking a step forward.
Suddenly she felt flat on her face. Something had tripped her over, something that wasn’t usually there. She swung the torch round to see what it was.
They had made it. Jelcad and Fradi reached the storage area for the breathing apparatus. Jelcad ran forward quickly unsealing the door to the compartment.
“Hurry,” he said handing Fradi a mask and oxygen tank, “Put that on.”
She took the mask and switched open the valve. Soon she was breathing fresh air again.
Jelcad put his own mask on then reached over and switched her microphone on making sure their radio was on the same frequency.
“Thanks,” said Fradi. “We had better carry some of these to the others-,”
“Wait,” he said, “Look.”
“Look at what? We don’t have time for your games-,”
“No. This is no game. One of the suits is missing.”
“What? Are you sure you haven’t counted wrong.”
“I’m certain. Check for yourself.”
She did. There was indeed one suit missing.
“Maybe someone else had the same idea as us. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anyway. We had better hurry up or there will be no one left on this base.”
Captain Yandil and the Doctor hurried down the corridor. The Doctor carried Rose in his arms. He had put her into a deep sleep to extend her life and the oxygen supply. She had protested at first but he had persuaded her that it was for the best. They reached the door to the basement the door was wide open. The Doctor put his companion down gently leaning her against the corridor wall.
“She’ll be alright for now,” he said to the Captain.
“Whatever you say Doctor,” replied Yandil. His voice was beginning to rasp as he forced himself to breath the stale air. “Looks like someone’s already come to fix the problem though.”
He pointed at the toolbox left carelessly at the top of the stairs.
“Well I’m sure they would appreciate some help-” began the Doctor.
Suddenly there was an ear-piercing scream.
“What was that,” exclaimed Captain Yandil.
“Trouble. Come on. Follow me. It came from the basement.”
“What is it,” yelled Sevret, “What’s the matter?”
Lilne pointed at the twisted body of Dr Drendash. The scientist was lying prostrate on the floor blood caked in his hair and a look of pure terror on his face.
“H-he’s dead,” she whimpered. “It’s so horrible.”
She began to sob.
The first officer was not one to give way to emotions, but he suddenly felt sympathy for the girl. He put a reassuring arm round her shoulders.
Sevret suddenly heard voices at the top of the stairs. Someone was heading towards them.
“Where’s the switch,” he asked.
Lilne swung the beam over to the wall on her right. He could see the switch and quickly turned the light on. Now he could see it was the Captain and one of the intruders approaching. Sevret quickly removed his arm from the technician’s shoulders embarrassed.
“Sir!” He gave a salute.
“What is this?” asked Captain Yandil on seeing his officer standing over the body.
“The late Dr Drendash, sir. We think he must have fallen.”
“Do you have any evidence?” asked the Doctor.
Yandil frowned at the Timelord.
“Yes. What evidence do you have that he fell?”
“According to Technician Lilne he wore glasses,” the first officer took the smashed pair from his pocket, showing them to his superior. “I believe he must have dropped his glasses missed his footing and fell, sir.”
The Doctor stepped forward and knelt beside the body.
“What would he be doing down here?” asked Yandil.
“It wasn’t the fall which killed him. Look at this.” The Doctor rubber his fingers together, he smelt the substance. “A lubricant of some kind, oil maybe.”
“Probably came off the weapon that was used by his assailant. A heavy blunt object.”
“What like that?” asked Sevret, pointing to the heavy metal pipe that lay discarded in the corner.
“Fantastic. Exactly like that.”
“Hey,” exclaimed Lilne. “That’s part of the pump system. It’s been ripped straight off the tank.”
“The oxygen. I had forgot about that,” said the Doctor, frowning. “How come we can breathe ok down here?”
“I have an idea.” Lilne broke away from the group. She walked past the clunking machinery up to the oxygen purification tanks. “Come and see this,” she yelled. “The oxygen’s been leaking out into the atmosphere instead of being pumped round the base.”
“The pipe. It’s been ripped clean from the tank,” exclaimed the Doctor. “It must of taken extreme strength to-,”
“Can you fix it?” asked Yandil, interrupting.
“I don’t know, I really don’t know.”
Asdel stood by the door to the communications room, her slight form hardly casting a shadow. She opened her mouth to cry out, but her voice failed her all that came out was a whimper. She edged her way back out into the corridor but it was too late he had noticed her presence. The man turned from where he had been stood over Dr Nilor. The old scientist was now slumped against the trashed communications console. Asdel put her hand out to the doorframe to steady herself.
“Why?” she asked.
“I must carry out my master’s orders for the good of the Craydorite people,” replied the man. His eyes were bloodshot and his face was clammy. “Nilor had lived out his usefulness anyway.”
“W-w-who are you?”
“I’m Kelsan, my dear. Don’t you know I’m supposed to be dead?”
She shook her head.
“I wasn’t really. Just put myself into cryogenic stasis for a while. I’m…very clever you know,” he said, gloating.
“Please…” Asdel reached for her holster, and removed the pistol aiming it at Kelsan. “Please stay where you are. Put your hands in the air where I can see them.”
“You are resourceful aren’t you?”
“I’m not afraid to shoot.”
“People who say that always don’t shoot,” he replied raising his hands slowly. “You don’t have the guts.”
“Believe me I will. This is what I am trained to do.”
Suddenly Kelsan let out a low moan and clutched his stomach.
“What’s wrong,” asked Asdel, taking her finger off the trigger for a moment, “Are you alright?”
Suddenly he lunged forward, knocking the pistol from her hand. It went skidding across the floor. Kelsan grabbed her by the throat she tried to struggle but he had a grip of iron. Her vision soon began to fade as his grip tightened cutting off her air supply. Suddenly she heard voices, a scream and felt his grip relax. He let go she dropped to the floor.
Fradi and Jelcad were checking each room because they had no idea where everyone was and the comms system seemed to have gone down for some reason. Suddenly they heard the familiar hum of the air circulator start up again. Fradi pulled off her oxygen mask and her companion did the same.
“Well somebody’s fixed the problem,” she said. “No need to lug these oxygen tanks along.”
“A shame. That was one of my cleverer ideas as well,” replied Jelcad, smiling.
Fradi patted him on the back.
“There’s still the mystery of the communication blackout and the missing suit to solve though…and don’t say its aliens.”
“What’s the matter,” she asked.
“Voices,” he replied.
“Don’t tell me your hearing things again.”
“No. I mean there’s voices coming from the comms room.”
Jelcad strode forward down the corridor towards the room. Fradi trailed behind him.
“As someone once said, never say never,” enthused the Doctor. A broad grin on his face.
“If someone had told me you could fix a broken pipe with a screwdriver I wouldn’t have believed them but now-,” replied Lilne.
“But I think that’s the least of our worries now,” said Captain Yandil. “There’s a murderer on the loose.”
“Rose!” the Doctor yelped. “I hope she’s alright. I had better wake her.”
He charged of back through the basement and up the stairs then skidded round the doorway only to find his companion gone.
“Rose! Rose where are you?” he called out, but there was no reply.
The rest of the group emerged from the basement.
“Where do you think your going,” asked Yandil.
“To find Rose. She’s under my protection I can’t have her wandering about with a murderer running free.”
“It all a trick so they can escape,” blurted Sevret.
“No it isn’t,” snapped the Doctor. “We’ve got to find her.”
Jelcad launched himself at Kelsan taking him by surprise. The geologist let go of Asdel and twisted round to try and shake off Jelcad who held him in a headlock with an iron grip. Kelsan elbowed his fellow combatant in the stomach causing Jelcad to let go, but he was soon recovered and returned with a punch to Kelsan’s jaw. With a roar Kelsan grabbed Jelcad by the throat and lifted him into the air.
“No!” screamed Fradi. She noticed the pistol lying discarded on the floor. She picked it up. “Let him go!”
“Never!” came the growled reply.
Fradi levelled the gun at Kelsan’s chest.
“Then I have no choice,” she said her voice wobbly.
“What was that?” asked Lilne.
“It sounded like a gunshot,” replied Captain Yandil.
“It was a gunshot,” said The Doctor, running off down the corridor towards where the noise had come from, while muttering under his breath ‘please don’t let it be her’
They arrived at the comms room in time to see Kelsan collapse to the floor clutching his chest. Fradi dropped the gun, sobbing she ran to Jelcad’s side. She cradled his head in her arms tears running down her face. Feeling for a pulse she was relived to find one and let out a sigh of relief. In that moment she realised she cared deeply for Jelcad, she perhaps loved him.
The Doctor only took a moment to take the whole tableau in.
Asdel was beginning to come round Sevret and Lilne went over to help her.
“What happened? What happened here,” asked Yandil, in a state of shock.
“Kelsan. It was Kelsan he killed Doctor Nilor,” said Asdel, pointing at the body.
“We found Kelsan trying to kill her so Jelcad…” she let out a sob, “So he tried to stop him. But I’m so sorry. I had to shoot, I had to or Kelsan would have killed him.”
The Doctor walked over to Fradi and put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“You had no choice,” he said his voice sad and wistful, “Sometimes there is no other way.”
Fradi notice his face crease up as if he was about to cry, but he resisted it and instead turned to the watching group.
“I’ve still got to find Rose.”
He disappeared out the door.
“Should I go after him, sir?” asked Sevret.
“No. Let him go. We have more important things to deal with here,” replied Yandil, solemnly.
“Where’s Denvor?” asked Asdel, seeing that the pilot wasn’t there.
“I-, well-, actually I have no idea. I thought he was with you?”
“But, sir. I thought he was with you.”
Lilne went over to what was left of the console; luckily only the comms system was damaged the rest was fine. She checked the sensors.
“According to the computer his life signs were detected heading towards the ‘Benefit II’ right before the oxygen cut out but-, that’s impossible.”
“What’s impossible?” asked Yandil.
“There was a large energy surge with well, impossible readings. After that he is no longer detectable. He never made it to the ship.”
During this exchange Jelcad had woken up.
“Aliens. It was the aliens,” he whispered.
“Rose!” cried the Doctor as he opened the door to the garage area.
“I’m over here Doctor,” she replied.
He walked over to where she was standing by the TARDIS. The Doctor clicked his fingers and Rose blinked.
“W-what? What’s going on? Why am I here?” she asked puzzled.
“Trance. You sleep walked,” he explained, “and talked.”
“Okay… so what did I miss?”
“They let us go free. That’s what you missed. Let’s leave before we have to answer any more questions,” said the Doctor unlocking the TARDIS.
“But I thought you said-,”
Rose decided that she aught to do as the Doctor said. He seemed very eager to leave.
“I didn’t even get to say goodbye,” she said leaning against the console.
“It’s all right they won’t think any less of you for it,” replied the Doctor as he set the co-ordinate’s. “Off we go again.”
The TARDIS dematerialise to the usual fanfare while the inhabitants of the Luna complex were left to comprehend all that had happened.