He turned to look greedily at the case in the robot's hand. 'Oh that's it, is it, the secrets? My word there should be a nice lot in there. All on micro dots, no doubt... Come along then Dibber, open the door for the Immortal!'
No sooner were the unlikley trio out of the door than the Doctor had slipped his bonds and was releasing Peri and Merdeen.
'Quickly, you've both got to help me. There's a three-stage cut out. I've got to try and shut the machine down.'
'Will that prevent an explosion?' gasped Peri.
The Doctor shook his head. 'All I can hope to do now is contain it.'
By now all three were at the black-light console. The Doctor was making complex adjustments to the controls.
The console was vibrating and smoking, almost too hot to touch.
'Peri, you press that row of b.u.t.tons in front of you!'
ordered the Doctor.
Peri looked down. 'Which ones?'
'All of them! Merdeen flick up all the switches with red neons on them.'
Merdeen looked bewildered. 'Red what?'
'Show him, Peri!'
'How much time do we have?' asked Peri.
'Not a lot!' The Doctor was heaving at a lever on the back of the console. 'This thing hasn't been moved in centuries...'
Between them Peri and Merdeen completed their tasks.
'Now what?' asked Peri.
'Get out of here, both of you!'
'What about you, Doctor?'
'Just go. Merdeen, take her out.'
As Merdeen dragged the protesting Peri away, the Doctor heaved the ma.s.sive lever across at last, adjusted more controls.
The machine was making a strange howling noise. 'Oh dear,' said the Doctor. 'Well, I did my best. I only hope its enough.'
As he turned and dashed out of the control room, it exploded in smoke and flame behind him...
End and Beginning Still wiping the green slime from his face, Balazar was moving cautiously towards the Castle. The force of the explosion in the control room knocked him off his feet.
Dibber and Glitz had escorted the staggering robot as far as the bottom of the steep metal steps. It was weakening all the time and they were wondering how soon they could risk getting the metal case away from it and heading for their ship.
They heard the thunder of the explosion. The robot staggered and the suddenly began to heat up, giving out a strange howling sound. Soon it was radiating heat, and glowing cherry red.
'Look out,' yelled Dibber. 'It's blowing up!'
Dibber and Glitz dived for shelter.
There was a kind of internal explosion and the robot seemed to collapse inward upon itself. Soon the glow faded and there was nothing left but a long puddle of molten metal. Dibber got up and moved to examine it.
Glitz, who had rolled himself into a ball in the corner, unwound himself and looked up. 'Is it finished?'
Dibber nodded sadly. 'You're not going to like this, Mr Glitz,' he said lugubriously.
'The robot's finished, and the secrets are finished as well.'
Glitz jumped up. 'What?'
The exploding robot had fused the metal case into a misshapen lump, welded to the remains of the robot's body.
'Still, there's this,' said Dibber casually.
He took a small shiny lump of metal from his pocket.
'And what's that?'
'A piece of black-light convertor aerial,' said Dibber. 'I picked it up when I blew the thing up. Pure siligtone that is.'
'The hardest known metal in the galaxy,' said Glitz.
Dibber nodded. 'And the most expensive. What's more, there's got to be a couple of tons of the stuff in that aerial.'
'I am way ahead of you, my son,' said Glitz. 'You know, we could clean up very nicely on this job - and have a tasty little kitty for the next venture...'
Dibber set off up the stairs.
Glitz paused for a moment looking after him. He'd just been struck by a very worrying thought.
Suppose it was Dibber who was the brainy one after all?
Humker and Tandrell reached the surface at last. They stood looking out of the doorway and something clear and cool came in to meet them, ruffling their hair.
'Fresh air,' said Humker. 'What a wonderful smell.'
Tandrell breathed deeply. For a moment he seemed to be about to produce his usual contrary reaction, and then he smiled.
'Do you know something? You're right. Absolutely right!'
In a tunnel not far from the wrecked castle, the Doctor, covered in dust and grime ran into Balazar, who was as dirty and dusty as the Doctor, was, with an undercoat of green slime as well.
'And still the lobster held on!' said the Doctor cheerfully. 'You're in a worse mess than I am!'
'Are Merdeen and Peri safe, Doctor?'
The Doctor turned and saw two figures running towards them. 'You can ask them yourself, Balazar.'
'Balazar!' shouted Merdeen joyfully, and the two friends ran to greet one another.
Peri marched up to the Doctor and said reproachfully, 'I wish you wouldn't keep frightening me like this!'
'I told you to get out of here,' said the Doctor sternly.
'Please, don't start,' said Peri wearily. 'I'm too tired and too scared to cope.'
'All right, all right,' said the Doctor gently, and put a consoling arm around her shoulders.
'This seems to be the end, Doctor,' said Balazar. 'As it is written in the Books.'
No, no, Balazar. For you this is the beginning. Chapter One, Paragraph One, as they say. Take your people up on the surface, where they belong.'
'Yes,' said Balazar enthusiastically. 'Perhaps we shall at last find the habitat of the Canadian Goose!'
'Perhaps,' said the Doctor gently. He wiped a bit of green gunk from Balazar's forehead and tasted it cautiously. 'I think dinner's on him!' The Doctor shook Merdeen warmly by the hand. 'Farewell, my loquacious friend!' He looked down at Peri. 'Right, let's get back to the TARDIS.'
He led her briskly away.
Suddenly Peri stopped. 'It's the other way, Doctor.'
'That's right, it's this way,' agreed the Doctor, instantly changing direction. 'Yes, this way!'
They walked back past the bemused Merdeen and Balazar. 'Farewell!' called the Doctor again - and set off again this time in the right direction.
'There are still one or two questions to be answered of course,' said the Doctor as they moved away. 'Like, who moved this planet two light years off its original course?
And what was in that box that Glitz and Dibber were so interested in...?'
They heard Balazar's voice calling from behind them.
'Goodbye, old one,' he called. 'Thank you for all your help!'
Peri giggled. 'Old one! Hey that's cute!'
'I always knew there was an evil streak in you,' said the Doctor indignantly. 'Old one, indeed! Come on...'
The Doctor led Peri away...
... and sat back watching himself do it on the Courtroom screen. He leaned back smugly, hands behind his head.
'Well, that's one up to me, I think,' he said modestly.
'There can't be many people who can literally claim to have saved the Universe.' The Doctor rose. 'Well, if that's all the muck you can rake up--'
'Sit down,' said the Valeyard sharply. 'Smugness does not become you, Doctor.'
'That is an irrelevant observation.' He turned to the Inquisitor. 'I take it that it is now my turn to present the case for the defense?'
'In due course, Doctor.'
'But that's not fair! Look, I wish it put on record that my involvement in the affairs of that planet resulted in the freeing of Drathro's underground slaves.'
The Inquisitor inclined her head. 'That has been noted.'
'And despite the fact that evidence has been withheld, my presence there was most specifically requested.'
'You showed little reluctance in complying with the request,' observed the Valeyard acidly.
'Well, lives were at stake.'
'Lives were lost - and lost because of your meddling, Doctor.'
'I deny that,' said the Doctor hotly. 'Without my help, an entire civilization might have been wiped out.'
'Without your interference Doctor, there might have been less sacrifice of human life!'
'That was a risk I had to take!'
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