“They’ve got a right nerve, landing a ruddy giant space-egg in the middle of my farm!” Joe Powell took his hat off for the fifteenth time that morning, scrunching and unscrunching it in his big red hands. “Ah, my poor cows,” he moaned. “They won’t give milk for weeks now! I just know it.”
Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart took a deep breath and silently noted the herd of barely-interested friesians, watching on from behind a nearby fence as they chewed their cud. Captain Yates should be dealing with all this, he thought to himself. The blighter had picked a hell of a time to catch the ‘flu.
“Mr. Powell, as I have explained, Her Majesty’s government will be more than happy to recompense you for any loss of income you may suffer as a result of this… trespass. Now would you please lower your voice? We are in the middle of a very important negotiation.”
“Oh, negotiating now are we?” said Powell, muttering under his breath as he wandered away in search of a more receptive audience. It would probably end up being Miss Grant, poor girl, thought the Brigadier. She had one of those faces.
The Brigadier returned his attention to the source of Mr. Powell’s distress. Thirty yards away, and surrounded at a slightly greater distance by UNIT soldiers, the recently arrived alien craft sat in the middle of the pasture with barely a broken blade of grass to mark its arrival. It looked for all the world as if it had always been there – and yet, it could not have been more out of place. A blue egg, two storeys high stood on end, with no visible jets, and a hatch that liquidly sealed and unsealed itself without leaving a mark on the surface. The whole thing was damned uncanny, the Brigadier thought. What was wrong with good old-fashioned rockets, that was what he wanted to know.
Two figures stood before the craft, in the midst of a discussion that fell maddeningly just below the range of his hearing. One was the Doctor, a man whose presence at UNIT the Brigadier resented about as often as he valued it. The other was the occupant of the craft, a silver-skinned woman clad in robes made of some kind of woven, coppery metal. And that was another thing, the Brigadier thought. Why did these alien creatures never dress sensibly?
The conversation appeared to wrap up, and the Doctor smiled warmly as he strode back towards Lethbridge-Stewart, scarlet-lined cape flapping behind him in the morning breeze. “Nothing to worry about, Brigadier,” he called as he drew closer. “You can tell your men to rest their trigger fingers. Our visitor’s intentions are perfectly peaceful. She simply requires a small amount of help from us and she’ll be on her way.”
The Brigadier was skeptical. “We’re taking her at her word, are we Doctor?”
“On the contrary, Brigadier. Her reputation precedes her – at least, as far as I’m concerned, it does. She’s an Intersector, and members of her race have visited my home world of Gallifrey many times in the past without incident.”
“Hmm. And on those occasions, did they turn up completely unannounced as they have here?”
The Doctor looked slightly embarrassed. “Well, yes, actually,” he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. “They’re a metadimensional race, you see. Intersectors don’t perceive time, space, or the barriers between universes as other beings do. For all their good intentions, that unique perspective does sometimes lead to breakdowns in etiquette.”
The Brigadier sighed. “And you’ve already promised we’ll help, I assume. Of all the days…”
“She won’t be any trouble, Brigadier. I give you my word.”
“It’s not just the woman from space I’m worried about, Doctor, it’s the man from London.” The Brigadier’s face was grim. “This afternoon, UNIT is being audited.”
* * *
“And this is the stationery cupboard.” The Brigadier held the door open while the auditor, Mr. Dorsley, peered in over the top of his tiny spectacles.
“I see,” said the smaller man, marking a squiggle on his clipboard. “And what do you keep in here?”
The tip of the Brigadier’s moustache twitched, ever so slightly. “Stationery, primarily. Pens, pencils, staplers -”
“Yes, I know what stationery is, Brigadier. I’m not an imbecile,” Dorsley tutted. “And what is your annual expenditure in this department?”
“Three hundred and seven pounds, fifteen pence last financial year,” he replied instantly, having memorised this and other important figures purely to deny Dorsley the small victory of stumping him.
“Oh… well that… doesn’t seem like a proper amount,” he managed as the Brigadier closed the cupboard door.
“And what would be? A proper amount, that is?”
Dorsley smiled infuriatingly. “Less, Brigadier! Less!” The auditor turned his head suddenly. “I say! What is that dreadful noise?”
The Brigadier’s heart sank. The harsh, steady roar of a blowtorch was coming from the laboratory at the end of the corridor. “Ah, that would be our scientific advisor. Eccentric chap – he insists on supplying all his own equipment and materials, so there’s really no need for you to…”
But Dorsley was already marching towards the open doorway. Clearly, the concept of something not being his business was foreign to the man. The Brigadier braced himself and followed the auditor in.
All the usual clutter of the Doctor’s workspace – the disassembled electronics, the flasks and beakers and bunsen burners, even the coat rack and workbench – had been pushed up against the walls and around the badly parked TARDIS. The remaining floor space was now taken up by an enormous tetrahedron, constructed from six intricately etched metal girders. At the moment the two men entered, the Doctor was kneeling by one of the lower vertices of the structure with his back to the door, adding the finishing touches to a weld.
“Good heavens, man!” spluttered Dorsley. “What in heaven’s name – where is your safety equipment?”
“No need,” said the Doctor, still with his back to them. “Special torch of my own design. Invisible flame, no sparks.” He held the nozzle up and gave two quick bursts to demonstrate.
The Brigadier watched Dorsley take this in. “And who owns the patent on this device?” the auditor asked.
The Doctor finished his weld and stood up. “We haven’t been introduced,” he said, turning around. “I’m the Doctor. And you must be from the government.”
Dorsley’s reply was cut off by the opening of the laboratory’s outer door.
“Doctor, Lom is amazing!” gushed Jo Grant as she stepped inside. “I was showing her the woods nearby, and do you know she can tell the age of a tree just by – oh!” Jo stopped short as she caught sight of the the room’s other occupants. Sergeant Benton followed her in and stood to attention. Lom the Intersector trailed in serenely after him, staring off into the middle distance with the slightest of smiles on her silver face.
Just marvellous, thought the Brigadier, taking in the crowded tableau. “Well, I believe introductions are in order,” he said finally.
Dorsley remained silent during the exchange of credentials, though he was not visibly shaken by the sight of Lom. “Yes, yes,” he snapped, cutting off the Brigadier’s explanation of their visitor. “I have been briefed on the nature of UNIT’s activities. Though I can’t say that I approve. My primary concern is the expenditure of government resources on this… folly.” He flapped his hand at the tetrahedron.
The Doctor glowered. “This “folly” is a full-spectrum exotic particle manifold scoop. Its true function will escape the grasp of even the best scientists your planet will produce for at least a century. You’ll forgive me if I don’t bother trying to explain it to you.” He spoke more gently to the Intersector. “I hope this meets your requirements, Lom.”
Lom gently stroked the apex of the tetrahedron. The metal sang under her touch, a pure, unearthly note. “It is well. The harvest begins near.”
“Here? On Earth?” The Doctor furrowed his brow. “But there’s nowhere…”
“Soon.” Lom gestured towards the tetrahedron – the scoop – and it lifted into the air as if on wires. As the Intersector turned and walked purposefully through the outer door, the device rotated slowly after her, passing straight through the surrounding wall with no more resistance than one shadow crossing another.
Jo crept in close to the Doctor as she watched Dorsley’s reaction to all this. “I don’t like the look on his face,” she whispered.
“Nor do I, Jo,” the Doctor agreed. Dorsley’s expression had turned so obviously avaricious it was practically green.
“Such power!” the auditor marvelled. “If she could just be convinced to put it to use for my – that is, for the government’s purposes…” Dorsley abandoned his clipboard on the bench and rapidly buttoned his coat. “The audit has been suspended, Brigadier. Higher priorities, national security, that sort of thing. Above all your pay grades.” He paused on the way out and stabbed a finger towards the TARDIS. “But I shall insist on conducting a full inspection of the contents of that cupboard when I return.”
“Then you’d better bring a pack lunch,” said Jo as the door closed behind him, causing Sergeant Benton to stifle a laugh.
“Well, Doctor?” asked the Brigadier.
“The harvest.” He stroked his chin. “It’s a sort of ritual that each Intersector has to undertake once in their life. They must find and absorb a massive dose of exotic particles – tachyons, mostly – and thereby stabilise their own existence as a metadimensional being.”
“Like a cross between a pilgrimage and a vitamin shot?” offered Benton.
“That’s one way of putting it, sergeant. I constructed the manifold scoop to assist Lom with her own harvest – but I didn’t imagine she’d be performing it here. The TARDIS is too well shielded to be of any use to her, and there’s no terrestrial technology in this era that would be suitable.”
“What about the Breakridge Institute?” said Jo. “They’re doing research into zero-point energy. It’s very high-powered stuff, too.”
Jo was suddenly aware that she had become the centre of attention in the room. “What?” she countered. “A girl can’t read New Scientist?”
The Doctor beamed. “Jo Grant, I think you’ve cracked it! Breakridge is only a few miles north-east of here as the crow flies.”
Benton peered out the window. “Looks like north-east is the direction Lom is headed, Doctor. Mr. Dorsley too.”
The Brigadier frowned. “That man. Could he become dangerous, Doctor?”
“He won’t turn Lom against humanity, if that’s what you mean Brigadier. But he might confuse her into doing something harmful.”
“Why don’t I go after them?” said Jo. “I can make sure they stay out of trouble. Besides, I’ve always wanted to be a shoulder angel!”
“Good idea, Ms. Grant,” said the Brigadier. “Take Sergeant Benton with you, in case Mr. Dorsley forgets his manners. And you and I, Doctor, had better get over to this Breakridge Institute. We can’t have any more civilians getting caught up in all this.”
“My thoughts exactly.” The Doctor picked up his coat, adding as Jo and Sgt. Benton headed out, “Though I’m afraid the TARDIS has been in a bit of a mood lately. We’d better take Bessie instead.”
“Oh good,” said the Brigadier. “Much more reliable.”
* * *
The Doctor’s voice echoed out from within the maze of machinery that occupied much of the Breakridge Institute’s ballroom-sized central chamber. “Fascinating! By running the ion conductors in anti-parallel, you’ve converted them to act as their own EM insulation!”
“Saves on the power bill, too,” Professor Khandaar said proudly, adjusting the long braid of black hair that fell down the back of her labcoat. “Have to keep the sponsors happy. Well, you know how it is with funding, Doctor.”
“Mm, yes.” The Doctor stepped back into view, dusting off his hands, and scrutinised the sphere of heavy metal at the centre of the apparatus. “Tell me, have you considered reversing the polarity of the neutron flow?”
The scientist frowned. “We can’t reverse it. The neutron flow is passively bidirectional. It has no polarity.”
“No polarity?” The Doctor stared at her in shock. “Good heavens!”
The Brigadier cleared his throat. “I think it’s time we came to the point of our visit, Professor.” He pulled a sheaf of papers from inside his jacket and handed it to her. “I’m afraid it’s not good news. I have here a writ ordering a complete and immediate evacuation of this facility. And before you ask, I’m afraid the reason is classified Top Secret. The most I can tell you is that there is a movement of highly sensitive personnel in the area. There’s no immediate danger, but better safe than sorry, I’m sure you’d agree.”
Khandaar read and re-read the cover sheet of the writ. The paper began to crinkle in her hands. “‘Not good news’ is putting it mildly, Brigadier. Our experiment is at an absolutely crucial stage. It cannot be shut down without setting us back months, if not years.”
“You have our utmost apologies, Professor,” said the Doctor gravely. “Believe me, none of us wanted this to happen. If it helps at all, you’re welcome to leave the experiment running under machine control until we give the all-clear.”
“I’m welcome? Oh well, as long as I’m welcome.” Emotions flickered across her face like the passing carriages of an express train. “Machine control isn’t nearly sensitive enough, Doctor. But I suppose there are more seals and signatures on here than someone like me can argue with.” She stopped reading. “Would you gentlemen mind accompanying me to my office while I make a call to confirm your request? I’m not going to drag things out, I just want to cover my back.”
The two men exchanged a glance. Anyone she spoke to would only back them up. UNIT, after all, had carte blanche to do much more drastic things than call a fire drill. “Of course, Professor,” said the Brigadier. “Lead the way.”
Khandaar took them through the warren of corridors that interconnected the laboratories and plant rooms of the Breakridge institute. Khandaar had an artificial foot on her right leg which gave her the slightest of limps, but it didn’t seem to slow her down. The Brigadier found himself slightly out of breath just keeping up with her.
Finally, they turned a corner and Khandaar stepped to one side, chocking open a double door. “First one on the left,” she said, waving them on.
The Brigadier felt uneasy as he moved past her. Something was up.
The Doctor looked worried too. “Wait a minute,” he said, pointing at the daylight spilling in ahead of them. “That’s the loading dock!”
The door slammed shut behind them, with Khandaar on the other side of it. The Brigadier leapt for the handle, but it was already locked.
“Miss Khandaar!” he bellowed, hammering on it with his fist. “What on Earth are you doing?”
“It’s “Professor”, Brigadier,” corrected the Doctor, peering in through the small plexiglass aperture on his side. The window was dirty and scratched, but he could make out Khandaar lifting a hefty wooden beam onto a bracket in the door.
“As one scientist to another,” the Doctor called, “you’ve every right to be upset. Perhaps we should have been more forthcoming about our reasons for being here – but I give you my word, they are not trivial. Please let us explain ourselves properly before you do anything drastic.”
There was a muffled thump as the bar dropped into place. Khandaar put her face up to her side of the glass. “Drastic? It’s always drastic when a woman stops doing as she’s told, isn’t it?”
“Now, that’s not -”
“Seventeen years! That’s how much of my life I’ve poured into this project. Seventeen years of toil and sacrifice and terrible British coffee, all of it coming down to this day. We’re just hours away from finishing! Did you know that? Hours away from achieving limitless free energy for the whole human race – and then you two come barging in with your countersigned orders and your puffed up chests, wanting to shut the whole thing down just because you’ve got a few soldier boys out on manoeuvres! Well I won’t let you! I’m finishing the experiment right now.” She looked away, her expression pained but set firm. “Come and arrest me when you get that door open. I don’t care. It’ll be over by then, and I’ll publish from jail if I have to.”
“You’ve got this all wrong, Professor,” said the Brigadier, struggling to keep his temper. “You’re making a terrible mistake.”
Khandaar looked him in the eye one last time, then turned and hurried away down the corridor.
“Of all the…” The Brigadier stopped himself. Priorities. “Come on Doctor, we’d better find another way in.”
“We needn’t bother.” The Doctor had his sonic screwdriver out and was buzzing it over certain parts of the door. “I’ll have this open in two shakes. Just need to get the screws out of the brackets holding that wooden bar. Anyway, Professor Khandaar will already be ordering all the other entrances locked. You saw for yourself, she’s nobody’s fool.” He paused and gave a small chuckle. “In fact, I rather think she had us bang to rights.”
“Oh, God,” the Brigadier groaned. “You actually admire her, don’t you?”
“Well, she’s completely wrong, of course, but she couldn’t know that. From the evidence available, she…” The Doctor’s stopped, his eyes widening. “Brigadier, do you hear that?”
The Brigadier listened. He could just make out a humming noise, steadily rising in pitch. “The generators!”
“She’s ramping them up too fast. If we don’t stop her soon they’ll go into overload!” The Doctor redoubled his efforts with the screwdriver.
“Looks like we’ll be having that evacuation after all,” said the Brigadier grimly.
* * *
Sergeant Benton followed Jo, Mr. Dorsley, and Lom and her tetrahedron through the woods, rifle slung over his shoulder. He hoped he wouldn’t need it, but as ever the weapon was immaculately cleaned and oiled, just in case he did. Jo and the auditor were both locked in an animated discussion with – or rather, at – Lom, who seemed to be paying the two of them little mind. She’s a strange one, thought Benton, but at least it made a change to have a friendly alien for once. And the weather was good, too. Nice day for a walk, whatever the circumstances.
“I think you’ll find, Ms. Lom,” said Dorsley, picking his way around a fallen branch, “that government work can be very rewarding. Not to mention the job security and generous pension plans available at the higher echelons, for which I have no doubt you would qualify.”
Jo rolled her eyes. “Lom doesn’t care about any of that. She has a spaceship! She can go anywhere and do anything she wants!”
“Everyone should give thought to their retirement!” the auditor snapped. “Gallivanting about, chasing dreams – it’s all well and good for unwashed hippies, but how often does it put food on the table? I put my dreams aside years ago, took a safe job, worked my way up, and I’ve – I’ve never looked back.” He faltered for a second, then covered it up by storming ahead of Lom and addressing her face on.
“See what you can do!” he said, pointing to the tetrahedron hovering serenely over their heads. “By God, I’d give my right arm to have your abilities! Just think of what could be achieved if you put them to proper use! Wars could be won overnight! The British Empire could rise again, stronger than ever!”
Lom gave him an odd look and walked on past. “I am Intersector. Intersectors do not harm.”
“Nor should you,” said Jo approvingly. “There’s enough of that in the universe as it is.”
“Alright, fine.” Dorsley strode rapidly to catch them up. “Don’t take lives. You don’t have to. You can save them instead.”
By this point the quartet’s walk had taken them to the bottom of a small, leaf-strewn hill. A tiny stream, barely a trickle, emerged from beneath a rock just where the ground began to slope upwards. Dorsley hurried over to it. “Here, I’ll show you,” he insisted. “You can… reach through time, can’t you? Change history?”
“In small ways, this is possible,” Lom agreed.
“Show me. Try blocking this stream, but in the past – back before it ever became a stream. Just move one rock! That’s all you have to do.”
Jo put her hand on the alien’s arm. “Lom, please don’t,” she asked softly.
Lom looked almost apologetic. “I am curious,” she said.
The tetrahedron sank down onto the ground with a crunch of litter as Lom knelt beside the mouth of the stream. Jo and Benton watched on uneasily, but Dorsley’s face was alight with hunger.
Lom reached out with her hand, which seemed to vibrate and blur as if reflected in a shaking film of metal. As she touched the rock, a shimmer of something shot out of the rock and raced down the path of the stream – erasing it from existence.
Benton’s mouth fell open as the woodland shifted around before their eyes. The shrubs and leafy herbs that had crowded the banks of the stream disappeared, and the larger trees moved in to fill the gap, growing very slightly taller in the process. The whole transformation took less than five seconds.
“Yes! Yes!” cried Dorsley, almost hopping with glee. “That’s it! That’s exactly what I mean! Move one rock and a whole forest moves! Alter the trajectory of one bullet and change the course of a war! Just think of the lives you could -”
“Stop it!” screamed Jo, tears pouring down her face. The sudden noise silenced the birds and insects all about them. “You have no right! Can’t you see how monstrous this is?”
Lom was perplexed. “I do not understand,” she said, gesturing to the rock she had moved. “The water flows underground. The trees drink of it and grow strong. No harm is done.”
Jo took a breath, calming herself a little. “It’s not about whether or not there’s a stream. It’s about whether or not it’s our stream.” She pointed at Dorsley. “He wants to rewrite the past for everyone else, but look at him. He’s miserable. He can’t even write his own present.” She glared at the auditor. “Why do people like you always need to be powerful? Why can’t you just be happy?”
Dorsley’s mouth opened and shut, but no words came out.
“This is harm,” said Lom sadly, “but I mend it.” She knelt down once more and reversed what she had done to the mouth of the stream. A few seconds later the woodland was restored to its original state, and the Intersector levitated the tetrahedron into the air and continued on her way.
“You stupid girl!” Dorsley roared at Jo, finding his voice at last. He appeared to be close to tears himself. “You’ve ruined everything! There’s so much about the past that needs to be fixed! You have no idea!” He advanced towards, his hands balling into fists.
“I think we’d best be moving along, don’t you, sir?” Benton, without appearing to move, was suddenly standing between them. He smiled good-naturedly as he adjusted the strap on his rifle. “Wouldn’t do to get left behind.”
Dorsley pursed his lips so hard they went white, then turned and stomped up the hill after Lom.
“Thanks,” sniffled Jo, pulling a hankie from her sleeve and blowing her nose.
“Don’t mention it, Jo. Some of us just know better then to get on your bad side.” Benton nodded his head towards the top of the hill. “Come on, I think we’re nearly there anyway. The Breakridge Institute should be right over the next rise.”
* * *
The Brigadier blasted yet another sparking relay unit with the nozzle of the fire extinguisher. “How much longer, Doctor?” he shouted, struggling to make himself heard over the blaring alarms and frantically clanging machinery.
“Long enough, I hope, Brigadier,” the Doctor replied, dashing from one control panel to the next. He stopped short as Khandaar ducked under his arms, passing in the opposite direction. “Professor, please, you must evacuate with everyone else!”
“Not happening, Doctor.” She studied a readout, then flicked off all but one of a row of switches. “I made this mess and I’ll be damned if I leave anyone else to clean up after me. You’re the ones who should be -”
A massive power surge blew a metal panel clean off the machine, knocking Khandaar to the floor. The Doctor rushed to her side.
“Out cold,” he said after checking her vitals, and folded his jacket under her head for a pillow. “But she’ll recover soon enough – present circumstances permitting.”
Suddenly the chamber was bathed in a strange blue light. A spherical aura of energy was forming around the core, flickering at first but rapidly becoming steadier and brighter.
“Particle physics isn’t my forte, Doctor,” said the Brigadier, shielding his eyes, “but I rather think we’re passing the point of no return.”
The Doctor rose to his feet. “Don’t give up yet, Brigadier,” he said. “If I know our ‘sensitive personnel’ as well as I think I do, then all is far from lost.”
As if on cue, the whole rear side of the chamber began to shimmer. A moment later Lom emerged from the wall like it was a stage curtain, tetrahedron floating over her head, followed shortly after by the three apprehensive humans.
All of them could only watch in awe as Lom strode towards the centre of the chamber. The alien raised both her arms out in front of her, and the tetrahedron flew through the air, settling around the overloading core like it had been made to fit. As the pulsating blue aura surrounding the sphere began to crescendo, the metal prism started to spin, seemingly in several directions at once, faster and faster until it was almost a blur.
There was a blinding flash of light…
…and all the apparatus of the experiment resumed its serene hum, as unalarmed and unperturbed as if the whole emergency had never happened. The damaged equipment was repaired, the tetrahedron had vanished, and Lom stood by the core holding a small paper box and staring at a nondescript corner of the ceiling. Even Khandaar was starting to sit up.
“Benton, see to the Professor over there,” ordered the Brigadier, before anyone else could speak. “You know the drill. And don’t let her out of your sight. She’s made enough trouble already.”
“Aye, sir,” said the sergeant. He hurried over to Khandaar and helped her up, deftly manoeuvring her around so that she wouldn’t see Lom.
“My head,” the professor groaned, leaning on Benton as he guided her out of the room. “It… well actually, it doesn’t hurt! But it seems like it should?”
“I know the feeling, Ma’am,” Benton replied.
Lom lowered her gaze from the ceiling. “The harvest is complete,” she announced, “and the custom of gratitude is observed.” Lom faced Dorsley and proffered the box to him. Dorsley just stared at it, as if expecting an adder to leap out.
“Well, take it, man!” said the Doctor impatiently. The auditor reluctantly accepted the gift.
“Where did this come from?” he asked slowly.
“From yourself,” said Lom.
The Doctor snapped his fingers. “Yes, I thought I detected something like that!”
“Shall I be the one to ask?” said the Brigadier wearily.
“It’s from a parallel universe,” the Doctor continued. “Not another time, but rather a different version of the present. That flash we saw was a rift between that Earth and ours being opened – just for an instant – when the reaction reached its peak.”
“Like the Inferno incident?” asked Jo. That one was before her time, but the report had been quite the page-turner.
“Precisely – though the breach was much smaller this time.” The Doctor gestured towards the Intersector. “When it opened, Lom was able to reach through and bring something back from the other side.”
By now even Dorsley’s meagre curiosity had got the better of him, and he inched open the lid of the box. The auditor blinked a few times as he peered inside.
“But this is just a half-dozen custard tarts!” he protested.
Lom bowed reverently. “They are yours.”
“Oh!” Jo’s face lit up. “Lom, you told Mr. Dorsley that box was a gift from himself. Did you mean a different version of himself?”
The Intersector nodded once. “You speak well of happiness, child,” she said. “The gift comes from an aspect where this one is at their most content.”
“The logo on the box,” Dorsley mumbled. “It has my name. And Jeremy’s. We were in school together, we always wanted to run a bakery. But our parents…” He looked up, a tear running down his cheek. “I can’t. I can’t! I’m too old, it’s too late now. Isn’t it?”
“That aspect can no longer be reached from this one,” said Lom. “But the paths forward from this moment branch like the beautiful trees of your world. Many lead to places just as splendid.”
Dorsley nodded slowly. He looked different somehow, as if an old weight were finally falling off his shoulders. “Yes. Yes, I think I see, now. Thank you, Lom. And you, Miss Grant.” He hugged Jo suddenly and thrust the box into her hands. “Hang the audit. I’ve got phone calls to make. And a resignation letter to write.” With a whoop of laughter he ran off down the corridor, shouting, “There’s still time! By God, there’s still time!”
“What a strange man,” said the Brigadier, staring after him. Then he shook his head. “Well, blow me if I understood a tenth of all that. Do we at least have the all-clear, Doctor?”
“Hmm?” The Doctor was running his finger along the outside of the apparatus, rubbing invisible specks of dust between his thumb and index. “Oh yes, of course. Lom performed a localised causality reversal. Undid all the damage, including the Professor’s injury. Might scramble her short term memory a little, but she’ll have some very interesting readings to write about when she gets back.”
(While the two men were talking, Jo whispered to Lom, “You can see through time. Did you know all this was going to happen?”
“Intersectors do not harm,” Lom replied cryptically.)
“In that case, Doctor, I would be obliged if you would take our honoured guest back to her ship. I’m going to have my hands full here mollifying all the Breakridge employees milling about outside. Not to mention the paperwork on this whole fiasco.”
“Oh, cheer up Brigadier, it’s not all bad,” said the Doctor, a twinkle in his eye as he nodded towards the box of tarts in Jo’s hands. “Come what may – at least afternoon tea is sorted!”