AND THE FACE OF EVIL.
By TERRANCE d.i.c.kS.
1 The Outcast
The Sevateem were holding a trial. The Sevateem were holding a trial.The big Council hut was packed with elders and warriors. Andor, Chief of the Tribe, sat on his throne of shining metal. Around him stood his Councillors, Tomas, Calib and Sole. In the shadows behind the throne waited Neeva, Shaman, Witch Doctor, Speaker of the Law.It was a colourful, barbaric scene. Light from a ring of smoking torches made the great Council hut bright as day. It glinted from the weapons of the savage skin-clad warriors and the strange regalia of the elders. It blazed fiercely on the prisoner who stood before the throne, flanked by crossbow-carrying guards.The prisoner was a girl called Leela. She was tall, with brown hair and dark eyes, a broad clear forehead and a firm chin. Her arms and legs, exposed by her brief skin costume, were brown and smoothly muscular. She stood before her accusers wary but unafraid, like a captured wild animal.Calib had taken on the role of prosecutor. He was a wiry, thin-faced man, his handsome features marred by an air of cunning. He turned dramatically towards the Chief, as he concluded his speech of accusation. 'You are our leader, Andor, and you know the Law. There can be but one punishment for such an offence as this. She must be banished.'There was a growl of agreement from the crowd. Yet some were silent, out of sympathy for the prisoner. The sentence of banishment was a sentence of death. The offender would be cast out, into the Beyond. Who could hope to survive without the protection of the Tribe?Andor tugged thoughtfully at his grizzled beard. He was a stocky man in his fifties, a grim experienced warrior. He had fought his way to the throne by strength and ruthless cunning. There was no succession by right in the Tribe of Sevateem. The shining throne, handed down from the Old Time, belonged to the man who could take it-and keep it. He turned to Sole, his Chief Councillor, and said, 'What say you, Sole?'Sole, a man much like Andor himself, stared grimly ahead. 'You should not ask, Andor. The Law is the Law.' Andor had expected such an answer from his old friend-even though Leela was Sole's daughter.Andor looked at the prisoner, who returned his gaze proudly. Such a pity, he thought. She was a fine strong girl, one of the bravest and fiercest of his warriors. Soon she would have married and had fine sons and daughters to serve the Tribe. Andor had noticed that Tomas, youngest of his Council, spent much time with Leela. Now the girl had condemned herself, by her own rashness. 'The Council is agreed,' said Andor gruffly. 'Leela must be sent Beyond .'Impulsively Tomas stepped forward. 'No, Andor, pardon her. She is young.''Do not beg, Tomas,' said Leela fiercely. 'What I said was truth.'Neeva stepped out from behind the throne, into the torch-light. He was a small man, with a smooth, ageless face. His head was shaved to denote his priestly rank. His ceremonial. robe hung from his shoulders. It was a strange, silvery garment, all in one piece, with arms and legs and a round helmet at the neck. It was a sacred relic of the Old Time, and Neeva wore it draped over his shoulders like a cloak.Neeva was a figure of great authority in the Tribe, second only to Andor himself. There was a respectful hush as he spoke. 'The girl is a blasphemer. She has profaned the holy purpose of the Tribe of Sevateem.'Leela seemed determined to condemn herself. 'Holy purpose? To die for nothing in another useless attack?''The G.o.d Xoanon demands she be cast out,' said Neeva angrily. 'He told me this!''Liar!' snapped Leela. 'There is is no Xoanon!' no Xoanon!'There was a shocked murmuring from the Tribe. Neeva spread out his hands. 'Blasphemy,' he said triumphantly.Andor looked at Leela's proud face, and at the impa.s.sive features of her father. There was nothing he could do for her now. She had condemned herself before all the Tribe. Yet there was one faint hope of life he could offer her-life or a quicker death. 'Leela! Will you take the Test of the Horda?'Silently Leela shook her head. Better the unknown terrors of the Beyond than death in the Pit of the Horda.Andor looked round the crowded hut. 'Will any take it for her?'No one moved or spoke. Many warriors had looked with favour on Leela. But life was precious, and after all, there were other women. Andor looked at Tomas, who dropped his eyes in shame. Even his love was not strong enough to face almost-certain death.' I I will take the Test.' Sole left his place and came to stand before the throne. will take the Test.' Sole left his place and came to stand before the throne.'No,' shouted Leela. 'You'll be killed-''Be silent, daughter,' commanded Sole. 'You have said enough.'Andor raised a commanding hand. 'Test him!' Two guards led Sole away.Leela could face the prospect of her own death unafraid, but the thought that her rashness would destroy her father was more than she could bear. She fell to her knees before the throne. 'Andor, please. Don't let him... Call them back!' She looked up at Neeva. 'Great Shaman, Speaker of the Law, I was wrong to speak as I did. Forgive me, please, please please ...' ...'Andor leaned forward on his throne. 'Be silent, girl. Your father is a warrior. Do not shame him.'There was a long, long silence. Leela got slowly to her feet, brushing tears from her eyes as if ashamed of her outburst.The silence was broken at last by a brief scream of agony from the outskirts of the village. Leela bowed her head, touching throat, left shoulder and left hip in a ritual gesture. Many others in the Council hut did the same.Andor rose and p.r.o.nounced sentence. 'Outcast of the Tribe of Sevateem be gone from us.'Neeva's voice rose in a kind of chant. 'Sp.a.w.n of the Evil One, return to your Master!''You have until sunrise,' said Andor sternly. 'If, by then, you are still within the Boundary, you will be thrown to the Horda.'Leela turned and walked away. The crowd drew apart to let her pa.s.s. She was unclean now, accursed, an outcast from the tribe.Tomas stood silent, head bowed in shame. He should have taken the Test of the Horda. Yet what would have been the use? Not one in a hundred survided the Test. Besides, Leela was was guilty, she had blasphemed the Law of the Tribe. Tomas looked up and saw Neeva deep in conversation with two of his acolytes-young warrior priests who had been chosen to serve him. The warriors hurried out of the hut clearly following Leela. Tomas watched them leave, and then set off after them. Perhaps he could still do something for Leela after all. guilty, she had blasphemed the Law of the Tribe. Tomas looked up and saw Neeva deep in conversation with two of his acolytes-young warrior priests who had been chosen to serve him. The warriors hurried out of the hut clearly following Leela. Tomas watched them leave, and then set off after them. Perhaps he could still do something for Leela after all.In a forest clearing, not very far away, a strange, wheezing groaning sound broke the silence and a square blue shape materialised beneath the mighty trees. A door opened and a tall curly-haired man stepped out. He wore loose, comfortable clothes with a vaguely Bohemian air. A broad-brimmed soft hat was jammed on the back of a tangle of curly hair, and an incredibly long scarf dangled round his neck.The Doctor stood staring rather bemusedly about him, as if not sure where he was, or what he was doing there. The most recent events seemed vague and remote in his mind. He'd defeated the Master's diabolical scheme to destroy the Time Lord planet of Gallifrey. Then he'd set course for Earth. Or had he? Had his fingers sent the TARDIS to some other destination, guided by some impulse deep in his unconscious mind.The Doctor looked around. He was in a small clearing in a huge primeval forest. Giant trees towered around him in all directions, cutting off most of the light from the sky. The trees were festooned with dangling vines, dense shrubs and bushes filled the s.p.a.ce between tree trunks and there was a deep, soft carpet of leaves beneath his feet. 'Not Hyde Park , I think,' muttered the Doctor. 'Could be a nexial discontinuity, I suppose. I really must remember to overhaul that Tracer. I'll put a knot in my hanky...' He groped in his pockets and produced a red-spotted handkerchief-with a knot in one corner. 'I wonder what that was for? ' The Doctor scratched his head, feeling that things were getting away from him. It was as if some long-buried memory was trying to push its way to the surface. Somehow this place was familiar...The Doctor shrugged. If he had brought himself back here for some purpose there was only one way to find out. 'Little look round, Doctor?' he murmured. 'Why not?'He set off into the forest then stopped with an obscure feeling of something missing. Of course! Sarah Jane Smith. She should have been beside him as usual, grumbling about their unexpected arrival in a strange destination, and the dangers they were sure to meet. The Doctor gave a rueful smile. Sarah was back on Earth now, like Harry Sullivan and the Brigadier. It had been the Doctor's own decision to take her back. Time Lord law had prevented him from taking her to Gallifrey. Besides, it was more than time that she took up her own ordinary human life again. Yes, the Doctor decided, he'd acted for the best. But as he walked through the forest, he couldn't help feeling a little lonely...Leela moved cautiously ahead, crossbow at the ready. She was still inside the Boundary, but despite this all her hunter's instincts were on the alert. There were noises not far behind her. Disturbed shrubbery whispering back into place, the crackle of dry leaves underfoot. Tiny, almost inaudible sounds, but to Leela they told a clear story. Something was tracking her.She came to a kind of natural road through the forest. It stretched at right angles in front of her, barring her way. Leela hesitated. She had to cross it-but the moment she stepped into the open she would be exposed to her pursuer. Since there was no alternative, Leela took a cautious step into the open. Higher up the glade to her right, someone else did exactly the same thing. It was one of Neeva's temple guards, crossbow in hand.For a fraction of a second they confronted each other in mutual astonishment. The guard whipped up his crossbow. Leela's bow was aimed and ready, and she fired first. The guard reeled back and fell, a crossbow bolt through his heart.With the instinct of long training Leela instantly reloaded her crossbow, slotting in a new bolt and forcing back the heavy metal spring that powered it. Just as the spring clicked into place she heard a rustling to her left. A second guard had stepped from cover. Now positions were reversed. His weapon was aimed and ready, hers still pointing downwards. Even as she raised her bow to fire Leela knew she was doomed. There was the tw.a.n.g of a crossbow spring-and the guard fell face down, a bolt between his shoulder-blades.Tomas stepped forward, bow in hand.Leela stared at him. 'Tomas! What are you doing here?'He stepped over the body of the guard and came towards her. 'I've come to take you back.''You know I can't do that.''Don't you see?' interrupted Tomas. 'I saw Neeva send those guards. He doesn't trust his own prophecies. We can tell the Council, discredit him.''It wouldn't make any difference... not now.''Leela, you can't cross the Boundary.''They haven't left me much choice.''But you'll be killed. There are phantoms in the Beyond.''Feast-fire stories,' said Leela scornfully.'There's something there,' insisted Tomas. 'No one who crosses the Boundary ever comes back.'Leela was silent for a moment. For all her bravado she knew Tomas was right. Then she said resolutely, 'Well, whatever's there I'll face it. I can take care of myself.''Then I'll go with you.'Leela looked affectionately at him. She was fond of Tomas and didn't blame him for refusing to take the Test for her. By speaking out against Xoanon she had outraged his deepest beliefs, and she was touched by his offer to join her in exile. But it was too late to turn back now-for either of them. 'No,' she said fiercely. 'Go back to the Tribe. I'm going now. Goodbye.'She moved away, and Tomas stood staring disconsolately after her. Leela crossed the ride, then turned back for a final word of warning. 'Beware of the devious Calib. One day he'll get so cunning even he won't know what he's planning!' She disappeared into the trees on the other side.Tomas gazed after her a moment longer, then turned and began his journey back to the village.Somehow Leela knew when she came to the Boundary. It was nothing you could see or touch. Rather it was something you felt, a kind of tingling in the air. It didn't prevent you from going on, but it made every instinct scream to turn and go back. It took all her courage to press on, but she persisted, and a moment later the feeling faded. She had crossed the Boundary. She was in the Beyond.Leela looked round, half-expecting monsters to spring out of nowhere-but nothing happened. The forest on one side of the invisible barrier looked exactly like that on the other. But somehow it felt different, she decided. It was silent, menacing. It seemed to be waiting. Uneasily she moved on.Leela had no plan in mind. Since no one had ever returned from the Beyond she had no idea what to expect. Presumably there was game in this part of the forest too, so she would be able to survive. Perhaps there was some other tribe that would take her in. If she tried to return to the Sevateem they would kill her. Neeva would see to that. By attacking the G.o.d Xoanon she was attacking him, and Neeva had acted with typical ruthlessness to dispose of the threat. His attempt had failed, thanks to Tomas. But Leela knew she would not live long if she ever returned within Neeva's reach.Then she heard the noise of pursuit. Not furtive rustling sounds this time but the arrogant crashing of some great beast too powerful to need to conceal its presence. She started to run, and the sounds ,cameafter her. She broke into a panic-stricken flight, and the trampling sound followed her through the forest.She came to another glade and ran across it. On the other side, she paused and turned round. She had to know what was hunting her. Judging by the volume of the noise it was making the creature must be enormous, towering above the trees. Leela turned and saw -nothing. But the sound was still there, and coming closer. She saw branches thrust aside, undergrowth trampled flat by the pa.s.sage of some enormous bulk. Then a line of colossal footprints appeared, moving across the clearing towards her. She was being hunted through the forest by an invisible monster...
2 The Invisible Terror
The trouble with forests, decided the Doctor, is that they are undoubtedly rather monotonous. The vine-festooned trees stretched away in every direction, their spreading leaves combining to make a dense green roof. A kind of straggling trail led through the lowlying bushes. The only sound was the crackle of dry leaves underfoot. Occasionally a clearing gave a brief glimpse of the sky, and beyond the clearings were yet more trees. The trouble with forests, decided the Doctor, is that they are undoubtedly rather monotonous. The vine-festooned trees stretched away in every direction, their spreading leaves combining to make a dense green roof. A kind of straggling trail led through the lowlying bushes. The only sound was the crackle of dry leaves underfoot. Occasionally a clearing gave a brief glimpse of the sky, and beyond the clearings were yet more trees.The Doctor considered returning to the TARDIS and trying some other planet. But he couldn't rid himself of the feeling that there was some purpose in his coming to this place. He strode on through the silent forest, hoping that this purpose, if there was one, would soon be revealed.He heard someone moving towards him. The Doctor stood still, and waited. A tall brown-haired girl in a brief costume made of animal skins came haring through the trees. She tripped over a projecting tree-root and tumbled at his feet. Instinctively the Doctor moved forward to help her up. When she saw him looming over her she gave a gasp or horror.He took her hand and helped her to her feet. 'h.e.l.lo, did I startle you?'The girl shrank back. Strange, thought the Doctor, she didn't look the nervous type. Why was she so frightened of him? He smiled rea.s.suringly and said, 'Don't worry, I won't hurt you.''The Evil One,' breathed the girl fearfully.The Doctor was used to unfriendly receptions, but this kind of terror was going too far.'Well, n.o.body's perfect, but that's overstating it a bit. I'm the Doctor. What's your name?''Leela.' Still the same hesitant whisper.The Doctor tried to think of some way to rea.s.sure her. 'Leela,' he said soothingly. 'That's a nice name. I've never met anybody called Leela.' He fished a crumpled paper bag from his pocket. 'Would you like a jelly baby, Leela?'The girl gave a gasp of horror. 'It's true then! They used to tell us the Evil One eats babies.' She made a curious ritual gesture touching throat, left shoulder and left hip.'You mustn't believe all they tell you. Actually these are sweets... Have one, they're rather good.'The girl shook her head, staring at the bag as if it contained unimaginable horrors. All at once the forest around them seemed to come alive. Trees began shaking, the ground quivered, and from every direction there came a ma.s.sive trampling sound, and a noise of deep hoa.r.s.e breathing.The Doctor looked enquiringly at Leela. 'Either you have some very large friends with very bad colds, or we're in trouble,' he said conversationally. 'Now, which is it?''They are the Monsters of the Beyond. They are your creatures.''They are? I wonder if they know that. What do they look like?''They cannot be seen. They are phantoms.''Invisible? Then we've got a chance.' Putting his jelly babies away the Doctor dug deeper into his pockets and produced a rather ancient-looking mechanical device.'A magic talisman?' asked Leela reverently.'No, a clockwork egg-timer.' The Doctor began winding up the device, chatting quietly as he did so, apparently quite unworried by the thunderous approach of the monsters. 'The visible spectrum will be largely irrelevant to our invisible friends. They're virtually blind.''Then how do they find us?''Roughly speaking, they home in on our vibrations.' The Doctor carried the egg-timer over to the rocks and jammed it in a crevice. 'Now, Leela, I want you to do exactly what I say. We're going to move away, very slowly and very quietly. No matter what happens, you mustn't cry out or make any sudden move. And don't run till I tell you. Is that clear?'Leela looked at him in puzzlement. If this really was the Evil One, why was he going to such trouble to save her from his own creatures? She decided it was safer not to argue-she could always escape later.She nodded and the Doctor said, 'Good. Come on!' He took Leela's hand and they began creeping away. The crashing, trampling sounds were very close now, as if one of the monsters had moved ahead of the rest.Suddenly the Doctor said, 'Freeze!' and stood quite still looking behind him.'What's the matter?''Sssh! We must tread very carefully' ' Still looking over his shoulder the Doctor took a step forward, tripped over a trailing vine and fell flat on his face.Immediately there was a tremendous commotion as the invisible monster came pounding even closer. Leela saw a line of enormous footprints appearing on the forest floor-footprints heading straight towards them. Terror-struck she turned to run, but a discordant jangling rang out. It was the bell on the egg-timer. Immediately the footprints veered, making their way towards this sound.The Doctor scrambled to his feet. 'Saved by the bell! Come on!' There came a crash from behind them, and the ringing of the bell was cut off. Leela turned and looked. Some invisible force had shattered the egg-timer into tiny fragments. Now great fountains of earth were being thrown up and even the rocks themselves hurled through the air in fragments, smashed to pieces by the invisible monster's fury. Leela shuddered, and hurried off after the Doctor.In the Council hut, Tomas was pleading Leela's cause to Calib. 'I tell you Neeva sent two guards in secret to kill her.'Calib stood silent, considering the information. Already his cunning mind was seeking ways to turn this incident to his advantage.'Well, if you're not interested,' said Tomas angrily.'But I am am interested. What happened?' interested. What happened?''They failed. Leela killed one, I killed the other.'Calib nodded thoughtfully. 'Neeva is beginning to make mistakes.''We must call a meeting of the Council, and tell them.''Tell them what?''Leela was delivered to the judgement of Xoanon. Her sentence was banishment, not execution. Neeva has broken his own Law.''Don't be naive, Tomas.' Calib was an experienced politician. 'Even if the Council believed you, don't you think Neeva would have an answer? He's the Speaker of the Law. He'd say Xoanon told told him to send the guards.' him to send the guards.'Tomas said despairingly, 'There must be something we can do.''There is. Neeva has promised promised us victory in the next raid across the Barrier. He says Xoanon has told him that this time we will win. You see what that means?' us victory in the next raid across the Barrier. He says Xoanon has told him that this time we will win. You see what that means?''If we don't win...' said Tomas slowly.'Exactly. Neeva's going to look like the charlatan he is. Then we can move against him-and that old fool Andor.' There was no doubt in Calib's mind as to who was going to be the new Chief.Tomas wasn't interested in Calib's intrigues. 'By then a lot of good men will have died, Calib. We should stop the raid.''Like Leela?'Tomas sighed. 'Yes, she tried, didn't she? And by now she's probably dead.'Leela felt the strange tingling in the air, forced her way through it, and came to a halt. 'We can rest now. We're safe.'The Doctor came to join her. 'How can you be so sure?''We're back inside the Boundary. Didn't you feel it?''I certainly felt something,' said the Doctor. 'You're sure those creatures won't follow?''They never cross the Boundary. You You should know that.' should know that.''I keep telling you, Leela, I'm not not the Evil One. Who saved your life, eh?' the Evil One. Who saved your life, eh?''You did,' agreed Leela meekly. She still wasn't sure what to make of her strange companion. He looked looked like the Evil One. But why didn't he like the Evil One. But why didn't he act act like him? And it was certainly true that he'd saved her life. Without him she'd have been crushed by the invisible monsters. Perhaps the Evil One was toying with her, saving her for some even more horrible fate... Yet somehow Leela doubted it. She had an instinct for danger, and sensed that the Doctor didn't mean her any harm. like him? And it was certainly true that he'd saved her life. Without him she'd have been crushed by the invisible monsters. Perhaps the Evil One was toying with her, saving her for some even more horrible fate... Yet somehow Leela doubted it. She had an instinct for danger, and sensed that the Doctor didn't mean her any harm.The Doctor was looking back the way they'd come. 'Never cross the Boundary, eh? I'm sure those things don't stay over there out of a sense of fair play. This must be a fence of some kind.''A fence?''That's right. An invisible fence-for invisible monsters!' The Doctor started poking around in the bushes.In the Inner Sanctum, Neeva knelt before the altar of Xoanon. The Sanctum formed a walled-off corner of the Council hut. It was filled with holy relics including a selection of strange and mysterious objects arranged upon the wooden altar. A technologically-minded person would have recognised, among other things, a disruptor gun, a s.p.a.ce ship's medikit, a portable communicator, and an ultra-beam accelerator. But to Neeva, and indeed to all the Tribe of Sevateem, these were the holy relics of Xoanon, their purpose, if they had one, shrouded in sacred mystery.Neeva knelt before the altar, head bowed, waiting for his G.o.d to speak.Xoanon's voice, as always, seemed to come out of the air. 'Neeva,' it whispered eerily. 'Neeva, are you listening?''Speak, Lord, your servant hears.''The girl Leela has returned across the Boundary, with a companion. You have failed me.''Oh great G.o.d, Xoanon, I have faithfully done all that you have commanded.''You crawling thing, do you presume to argue?'Neeva abased himself. 'No, Lord. Forgive me.''Hear this, Neeva. The girl Leela, and the one who is with her must be destroyed. See that it is done. See that it is done. ' '
It took the Doctor quite a long time to discover what he was looking for, but he found it at last, hidden beneath the roots of a dense clump of bushes. It was a plain black box with a rhythmically-flashing light set into the top. 'Just as I thought, a low-intensity sonic disruptor, set for a hundred and eighty-degree spread.' It took the Doctor quite a long time to discover what he was looking for, but he found it at last, hidden beneath the roots of a dense clump of bushes. It was a plain black box with a rhythmically-flashing light set into the top. 'Just as I thought, a low-intensity sonic disruptor, set for a hundred and eighty-degree spread.'Leela looked at the box in awe. 'That keeps away the phantoms?''Gives them a nasty headache if they get too close.' Replacing the box, the Doctor straightened up. 'There must be others set at intervals all along the Boundary.' He looked thoughtfully at Leela. 'The technology's very advanced. So your people didn't put them there-'Leela made the ritual gesture of protection. 'Xoanon,' she said reverently.'Xoanon? Who are they?''Xoanon is Xoanon. He is worshipped by the Tribe of Sevateem. They cast me out for speaking against him. It is said that he is held captive...''Really? By the Evil One, I presume?'Leela nodded. 'And by his followers, the Tesh.' Leela's head was whirling with speculations. 'Maybe Neeva is right. Perhaps there is a holy purpose. I just don't know what to believe any more.''That's a healthy sign. Never be too certain of anything, Leela, it's a sign of limited intelligence. And just where is Xoanon supposed to be held captive?'Leela's reply came in a kind of ritualised chant. 'Within the Black Wall, wherein lies Paradise .''Is that just religious gobbledygook? Or is there an actual place?''There is the Wall.''Is there? Splendid. Show me.'Leela stared at him. Surely the stranger couldn't be the Evil One, or he wouldn't need to be shown the Wall he himself had made. Or was it all a trick? Still very much on her guard, Leela led the way through the forest.'Why?' demanded Andor angrily. 'Why has the game disappeared from the forest? Where is the love of Xoanon for his people? Where is your magic, Neeva?'Neeva looked up at the angry figure on the throne. 'Xoanon knows that there are those amongst the Tribe who do not wish to fight.''And so he starves us?''How can he bless those who do not love him? There will be food for those who brave the Wall in his name.''Men do not fight well on empty stomachs,' growled Andor.Neeva's voice was calm, persuasive, totally a.s.sured. 'Soon the gap in the Wall will appear. Then you will summon the warriors and I will speak the Litany before the attack. I will tell you when it is time.'Andor waved dismissively. 'Go! And do not delay too long.'Neeva inclined his head-not the bow of a servant to his king but a nod between equals-and returned to his Sanctum. Andor watched him go, his face heavy with rage. Always the same smooth answers, the well-rehea.r.s.ed reciting of the Law. Meanwhile the Tribe went hungry, and there were those who plotted against him. Andor knew that unless Neeva's promises were fulfilled, unless there was food and victory soon, the Sevateem would demand a new chief.His gloomy reflections were interrupted by Tomas who strode abruptly into the Council hut and bowed before the throne. 'Well, Tomas?' growled Andor.'There is something I must say.''Then say it, boy.''I agree with Leela-about the attack. It's madness. It will be just like all the other times. Many of us will die, and we shall achieve nothing.''Nevertheless, we shall attack. It is the will of Xoanon.''We have only Neeva's word for that.'(Alerted by the mention of his name Neeva moved closer to the door of the Sanctum.)Andor climbed stiffly from his throne and put a ma.s.sive hand on Tomas's shoulders. 'You must have faith, my son.''In the word of a murderer? Neeva sent men in secret to kill Leela. Or did you already know that?''Watch your tongue, boy,' said Andor roughly. 'Don't let me hear you speak against the attack again. We shall strive to free Xoanon from the Tesh. And we shall do it together, as one people.'Tomas bowed his head in resignation. 'Yes, Andor,' he said, and allowed Andor to lead him from the hut.Neeva watched them from the Sanctum. Something would have to be done about Tomas, he decided.The Doctor strode abstractedly through the forest, his mind still worrying at long-buried memories. Xoanon! Why was that name so familiar to him? He'd never been to this planet before. Or had he?All at once he realised Leela had disappeared. One minute she was beside him, the next she was gone. He looked round. 'Leela, where are you?' He heard her voice from somewhere about knee level.'Doctor, get under cover. Quickly, I thought I heard something.' Leela had hidden inside a clump of bushes at the base of a giant tree. She crouched perfectly still, merging with her surroundings like a wild animal.'Leela, we don't have time to play games.''You don't understand...''No, no, you you don't understand,' said the Doctor tolerantly. 'Look, if they're all busy preparing for this attack on the Wall, they're scarcely likely to send patrols out just on the off-chance that you might come back.' don't understand,' said the Doctor tolerantly. 'Look, if they're all busy preparing for this attack on the Wall, they're scarcely likely to send patrols out just on the off-chance that you might come back.'The Doctor beamed, pleased with his own impeccable logic, and two crossbow bolts thudded into the tree beside him. 'Of course,' he continued thoughtfully, 'I could be wrong about that!'From somewhere in the trees a voice shouted, 'You, stand still.''Oh absolutely,' called the Doctor. Without looking round he hissed, 'Leela, I don't think they've spotted you. Stay out of sight-and get moving.''I can't leave you. They'll kill you.'' Go away Go away ,' whispered the Doctor urgently. He heard the rustle of movement behind him, and a harsh voice said, 'You! Who are you?' ,' whispered the Doctor urgently. He heard the rustle of movement behind him, and a harsh voice said, 'You! Who are you?''I'm the Doctor. Who are you you -and why are you shooting at me?' -and why are you shooting at me?''Where's Leela?''Who?' asked the Doctor innocently.'Spread out and search,' ordered the voice. 'She must be round here somewhere.'Before the warriors could obey, the Doctor said quickly, 'Would you mind terribly if I turned round? I feel a bit silly talking to this tree.' Without waiting for a reply, the Doctor turned. Four crossbow-carrying warriors were grouped round him in a semicircle. As they saw his face they instinctively fell back, each one making the ritual sign of protection. 'The Evil One,' whispered their leader.The Doctor started walking towards them. 'Oh dear, you too?' He lowered his voice to a blood-curdling whisper. 'Then tread softly gentlemen, or I'll turn you all into toads! ' He heard the faintest of sounds behind him as Leela slipped away into the undergrowth.As the Doctor came up to the nearest warrior, the man cowered back, again touching throat, shoulder and hip in the sign of protection. 'That gesture you all make,' said the Doctor conversationally. 'Presumably it's to ward off evil? But do you realise it's also the sequence for checking the seals on a Starfall Seven s.p.a.ce suit? And what makes it especially interesting is that none of you know what a s.p.a.ce suit is-do you?'The Doctor s.n.a.t.c.hed a jelly baby from the bag in his pocket and held it under the astonished warrior's nose. 'Now drop your weapons all of you-or I'll kill your friend here with this deadly jelly baby! 'But the warriors ignored the threat, levelling their crossbows at the Doctor. 'Kill him, then,' challenged the leader. The Doctor paused. Leela should be well clear by now. He popped the jelly baby into his mouth and said rather indistinctly, 'I don't take orders from you, my good man. Take me to your leader.'It was late by the time the Doctor and his guards reached the village. They had taken him a long, roundabout way through the forest, and during the last stages of the journey they had insisted on blindfolding him with his own scarf. The Doctor had submitted without resistance. He was determined to find out what was going on on this strange planet, and the village seemed as good a place to start as any.He knew when they'd arrived by the harsh challenge of the sentry at the gate, the muttered replies of his guards. He was bustled into some kind of building. 'Bring it forward,' commanded a gruff voice, and the scarf was roughly pulled from the Doctor's eyes.He found himself in the middle of a huge circular hut lit by flaring torches set around the walls. Immediately before him was a metal chair upon which sat a grizzled warrior in ornate ceremonial robes. (The Doctor noticed without much surprise that the metal throne was the ejector seat of a Starfall Seven s.p.a.ce ship, and the Chief's regalia included a s.p.a.ce-s.e.xtant slung round his neck on a leather thong.) The hut was full of savage-looking skin-clad warriors, armed with crossbows, spears and knives.As the scarf fell away and the Doctor's face was revealed, there was a gasp of horror. Undaunted by this reception, he said cheerfully, 'Good evening. I think you're all going to be very happy I came here tonight.'In the rear wall of the Sanctum the point of a knife suddenly appeared through the woven reeds of the wall. The knife point was pulled back, leaving a small hole in the wall. From the other side, Leela peered through it-just in time to see Neeva adjust his ceremonial robes and sweep out into the main hut. Despite her suspicions of the Doctor she found she was unable to leave him to his fate. Quickly she set to work to enlarge the hole.The Doctor stood very still as the fantastic figure strode towards him. But now his calm was shaken at the sight of the complex arrangement of transparent tubing and electronic circuitry that the Witch Doctor was brandishing under his nose.'I should be careful with that thing if I were you... It's an ultraheam accelerator.'Neeva sneered. 'See how it it fears the sacred relics of Xoanon! ' fears the sacred relics of Xoanon! ''There happens to be a charge in there, you could transform this whole village into a smoky hole in the ground.''Hear how it it threatens us!' chanted Neeva. threatens us!' chanted Neeva.'Why don't you just untie my hands,' suggested the Doctor. 'I've an idea what happened here. Perhaps I can help to solve your problems.''Hear how it it squirms for release!' gloated Neeva. ' squirms for release!' gloated Neeva. ' It It cannot deceive us.' cannot deceive us.'The Doctor sighed. 'No, I can see you're a figure of superior intellect. You're Neeva, I take it?' He looked up at the figure on the throne. 'Are you the leader of this Tribe-or is he?'Andor came down from his throne. 'Bring it it closer,' he ordered. Guards thrust the Doctor forward, and Andor glared threateningly into his face. 'Speak, Evil One. Will you release our G.o.d Xoanon?' closer,' he ordered. Guards thrust the Doctor forward, and Andor glared threateningly into his face. 'Speak, Evil One. Will you release our G.o.d Xoanon?''Gladly, if I was holding him prisoner. But I'm not.' There was an angry muttering from the warriors.Andor's hand went to the knife in his belt. 'Then you must be destroyed, so that we we may release him.' Knife in hand, he advanced upon the Doctor. may release him.' Knife in hand, he advanced upon the Doctor.
4 The Face on the Mountain
Leela squeezed through the hole in the wall and moved over to the door of the Sanctum. She looked out into the Council hut-saw Andor advancing menacingly on the Doctor and drew her own knife. She was about to make a desperate attempt at rescue when she heard Neeva's voice. 'Wait, Andor. I will speak the Litany before the warriors. Then the Evil One shall be sacrificed before them, and they will know that victory will be ours.' Leela squeezed through the hole in the wall and moved over to the door of the Sanctum. She looked out into the Council hut-saw Andor advancing menacingly on the Doctor and drew her own knife. She was about to make a desperate attempt at rescue when she heard Neeva's voice. 'Wait, Andor. I will speak the Litany before the warriors. Then the Evil One shall be sacrificed before them, and they will know that victory will be ours.''Very well.'Neeva turned away. 'I shall return to the Sanctum and prepare myself.'Andor turned to his chief guard. 'Give the signal to summon the rest of the Tribe, the rest of you, a.s.semble them outside.' The guards hurried away.'Don't hurry on my account,' called the Doctor. No one took any notice.The chief guard made his way to the centre of the village where a huge metal panel hung suspended from a wooden frame. Picking up the metal rod which; hung nearby, the guard began beating on the panel, summoning the full Tribe to a.s.semble before the Council hut. The gong was a sacred relic of the Old Time, and the faded lettering stamped along the bottom edge formed the words, 'Survey Team 6'. But no one in the Tribe of Sevateem could read.Only the Doctor, Andor and a solitary guard were left in the Council hut now. Neeva was at prayer in his Sanctum and the others had gone to a.s.semble the people. The Doctor heard the murmur of a steadily growing crowd outside the hut. Clearly his execution was to be something of a public event. He used the brief respite to try to talk to the Chief. 'Andor, will you listen to me! I am not the Evil One. I'm a traveller, that's all. Your tribe has obviously been visited by travellers before.'Andor backed away, as if the Doctor's words were some terrible blasphemy. 'That's impossible.''s.p.a.ce travellers, Andor, men from some other world. This place is littered with their equipment, the remains of their weapons and tools. Your legend of a captive G.o.d is obviously related to them in some way.'Andor turned to the warrior. 'Guard it it well. Do not listen to well. Do not listen to its its words, they are evil and will corrupt you.' He turned and strode away. words, they are evil and will corrupt you.' He turned and strode away.'Andor, wait,' called the Doctor. 'Killing me isn't going to help you!' As the Chief hurried from the Council hut the Doctor added mournfully, 'And it's not going to do me much good either, is it?'The guard stared impa.s.sively at the Doctor, tightening his grip on his crossbow.Neeva knelt before the altar, chanting his prayers. 'And let the Tribe of Sevateem partake of your strength oh Xoanon, so that they may at last inherit thy kingdom. Hear thy servant Neeva, Shaman of the Sevateem. Hear me, Xoanon, hear my prayer!'Leela crouched low behind the altar. She had ducked behind it for cover when Neeva re-entered the Sanctum, and had been there ever since, motionless as a statue. Despite the ache in her muscles she dared not make the slightest movement.Neeva finished his prayers at last, made a final bow to the altar and left the Sanctum. Leela emerged from hiding and crept to the doorway. She saw the Doctor waiting alone before the empty throne, and heard Neeva's low-voiced conversation with the guard. 'When I reach the end of the Litany-bring it it forth. You know what to do then?' forth. You know what to do then?'The guard nodded, his eyes on the Doctor.Neeva went over to the entrance of the Council hut.Leela could see the Doctor's fingers hard at work on the thongs that bound his wrists behind his back. He didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The guard came forward suspiciously and the Doctor beamed innocently at him.The open s.p.a.ce outside the Council hut was packed. Everyone in the Tribe was there, drawn by the astonishing rumour that the Evil One had been captured, and was to be sacrificed to ensure victory. Neeva raised his arms and the excited crowd became completely silent. He began to chant the Litany and the crowd made their familiar responses, quietly at first then with increasing fervour.'Our fathers of the Tribe of Sevateem were sent forth by our G.o.d to seek Paradise ,' chanted Neeva.' And still we seek, And still we seek, ' chanted the crowd. ' chanted the crowd.'They searched and found it not, but while they searched, the Tribe of Tesh who remained at the Place of Land betrayed our fathers.'' Death to the traitor Tesh. Death to the traitor Tesh. ' 'Inside the hut the Doctor was listening intently to Neeva's words. Here in this strange, confused Litany was the history of his captors, changed and garbled over generation after generation.Neeva's voice came clearly from outside the hut. 'The Tesh made a pact with the Evil One and our G.o.d turned his face from us. The Evil One raised the Tower and defended it with the Black Wall, to aid the Tribe of Tesh.'The Doctor and the guard were both intent on the Litany, though for very different reasons. Neither noticed Leela's silent approach. Suddenly she sprang forward, and slapped the guard on the back of his neck with the palm of her hand.The guard stood quite still, staring ahead with bulging eyes, then pitched forward on to his face.The Doctor turned, saw the fallen body, and Leela's exultant grin. 'How did you do that?'Leela held out her hand, palm upwards. The point of a large thorn projected from between her fingers. 'Janis thorn. It paralyses instantly and death follows soon afterwards. There's no cure.'The Doctor glared at her and Leela realised with some surprise that he was angry about the death of the guard. 'It was necessary,' she explained. 'Come on.'The chanting of the crowd outside grew louder and fiercer. ' Cursed be the Tribe of Tesh. Cursed be the Tribe of Tesh. Cursed be the Tribe of Tesh. Cursed be the Tribe of Tesh. ' Then Neeva's voice again. 'And the Tribe of Tesh stand between the Tribe of Sevateem and Xoanon, G.o.d of their fathers. We must kill the servants of the Evil One.' ' Then Neeva's voice again. 'And the Tribe of Tesh stand between the Tribe of Sevateem and Xoanon, G.o.d of their fathers. We must kill the servants of the Evil One.'The voice of the crowd was a maddened roar. ' Kill the Tesh. Kill the Tesh. Kill the Tesh! Kill the Tesh. Kill the Tesh. Kill the Tesh! ' 'Leela tried to pull the Doctor away but he resisted. 'No, Leela I want to listen.''We haven't time to listen. He's coming to the bit about destroying the Evil One. That's supposed to be you, remember?''You know this Litany, Leela?''Of course I do, we're taught it as children.''Good,' said the Doctor briskly. 'Come on then, don't dawdle.'Leela led him into the Sanctum and across to the gap in the wall. From outside they could still hear Neeva's voice. 'Now is the time when the Sevateem shall rise in their wrath and kill the Evil One.'' Destroy it. Destroy it. Destroy it. Destroy it. Destroy it. Destroy it. ' 'After this resounding climax there came a silence, caused, the Doctor guessed, by his failure to appear on cue and take the leading role. Leela was already through the gap, and the Doctor began struggling after her.A guard rushed into the Council hut, looked round and found it empty, except for the huddled body. ' It It has escaped,' he bellowed. 'The Evil One has escaped! ' has escaped,' he bellowed. 'The Evil One has escaped! 'The Doctor got stuck halfway and struggled desperately to enlarge the hole.Neeva ran into the Council hut, more guards be-hind him. 'Find it it ,' he screamed. 'Find ,' he screamed. 'Find it it ! Search everywhere! ' ! Search everywhere! 'The guards began running aimlessly about the hut, but one, brighter than the rest, headed for the doorway of the Sanctum. He pulled back the curtain and saw the Doctor struggling to get through the hole. ' It's It's here,' he yelled, and rushed forward, spear raised. here,' he yelled, and rushed forward, spear raised.With a final desperate heave the Doctor shot through the hole.The guard dived after him-and as his head and shoulders appeared, Leela slapped him on the neck with another Janis thorn. The guard stiffened and then slumped. Leela grabbed the body and heaved it forward, spreading the arms wide so it couldn't be pulled back. 'Just covering our retreat,' she explained.'That wasn't necessary, Leela,' said the Doctor angrily. 'Who gave you licence to slaughter? No more Janis thorns, you understand-ever.'Leela gave him a puzzled look, and they set off at a run. Since everyone in the village was milling about in front of the Council hut, they made their way through the empty village un.o.bserved. Soon they were hurrying through the dark forest.Outside the Council hut, Andor had been told what had happened. ' It It must be recaptured,' he ordered. must be recaptured,' he ordered.It is imperative. Tomas, take four good men and search beyond the village.'Tomas said, 'Right, Andor,' and began selecting his men from the crowd.'Quickly, Tomas,' urged Calib. He himself went through the Council hut and into the Sanctum.Neeva looked up from his prayers before the altar. 'Well, Calib. Has it it been recaptured?' been recaptured?'' It It got away.' got away.'' It It must be captured and destroyed.' must be captured and destroyed.''Andor has sent Tomas with a search party. If they fail, he will send others.''Too late,' said Neeva impatiently. 'Whatever happens, the attack on the Wall must not be delayed.'Leela moved swiftly through the forest, the Doctor close behind her. 'We've lost them,' gasped Leela. 'We'll come to the edge of the forest soon. We can rest there.'They moved on a little more slowly now, and soon the trees began to thin out. At last they came to the forest edge. It was nearly dawn and the Doctor saw they were on a kind of plateau, looking across a little valley. On the far side rose the towering shape of a mountain. The Doctor looked across at it, casually at first, then with increasing fascination. The mountain seemed to have a kind of shape to it... 'What is it, Leela?''That's the Evil One.'As it grew lighter, the Doctor could see that a jutting spur of the mountain had been carved into an enormous face. It stared arrogantly across the valley at him. The Doctor shook his head in astonishment. 'It seems I have have been here before. I must have made quite an impression.' been here before. I must have made quite an impression.'The face carved into the mountain was his own .
The Doctor stared across the valley. He had never been particularly modest, but there was something rather embarra.s.sing at seeing one's own colossally magnified features carved onto a mountain. 'Who put it there?' he asked. 'How was it done?' The Doctor stared across the valley. He had never been particularly modest, but there was something rather embarra.s.sing at seeing one's own colossally magnified features carved onto a mountain. 'Who put it there?' he asked. 'How was it done?'Leela shrugged. 'The Tesh did it with their magic. They set the Face of Evil on the mountain to taunt us.'The Doctor nodded. Presumably the face had been carved out of the mountain with a laser-beam. Either that, or a few hundred years' work with hammer and chisels.Leela looked across at the mountain, then back at the Doctor. 'What happened when you were here before?' she asked. 'You must be able to remember!''Of course I can,' said the Doctor defensively. He hesitated. 'Well, I'm trying to. One or two details are still eluding me. Perhaps I was on some other part of the planet.''There is no other part. Only beyond the Wall.''Beyond the Wall? I wonder...' The Doctor stood gazing across the valley, lost in thought.'Wonder what?''Sssh! I'm wondering.' He came to a decision. 'Back to the village, I think. Maybe some of those "sacred relics" of Neeva's will jog my memory.'Leela was horrified. 'We can't go back, Doctor. We'll be torn to pieces.''Only if they catch us,' said the Doctor cheerfully. 'Besides, they'll be too busy getting ready for their attack to bother with us.'' That's what you said last time-remember?'The Doctor chuckled. 'You mustn't expect perfection, Leela-even from me! 'Andor glared angrily at his Witch Doctor. 'I tell you the men are afraid to attack while the Evil One is still out there.'Neeva looked up at the Chief, running a hand over his shaven head. 'I have been thinking,' he said cunningly. 'If we tell them it it has been destroyed...' has been destroyed...''No! I will not lie to my people.''Soon the Wall will open,' insisted Neeva. 'We know that it stays open for a very short time. We dare not delay. Attack now, or we betray our G.o.d.'Andor tugged his beard. 'Has Xoanon commanded this?''He has.' There was utter certainty in Neeva's voice.Andor called to the guard at the door of the Council hut. 'Guard. Sound the summons to attack.' As the guard ran out, Andor rose from his throne. 'You'd better be right, Neeva. Servant of Xoanon or not, if we fail-I'll kill you!'Neeva did not flinch. 'Xoanon has promised us victory.''No,' said Andor heavily. 'He has promised you-and you have promised us. You will tell the warriors that it it was captured and killed in the forest.' was captured and killed in the forest.'The clamour of the signal gong began resounding through the village.Arguing furiously, the Doctor and Leela crouched in the woods outside the village. Leela was trying to persuade the Doctor to abandon his plans. 'Returning to the village is dangerous enough. But the shrine of Xoanon...''I must examine those relics. And listen, isn't that the signal gong?'Leela nodded reluctantly. 'They must be preparing to leave for the attack on the Wall. They will gather in the square before the Council hut.''Now's our chance then. Come on.' The Doctor set off for the scattered huts at the back of the village.To Leela's surprise they actually managed to reach the rear wall of the Sanctum without being seen. The hole they'd escaped through had been hastily patched up and there was a large gap at the edge. Holding up his hand for silence, the Doctor listened at the gap, and Leela did the same. From the Sanctum came the low mumble of Neeva's voice. 'Oh great G.o.d Xoanon, speak that I may know thy will.'They peered through the hole. Neeva was still kneeling before the altar. 'Speak, Xoanon, speak!' Neeva paused, and seemed to be waiting expectantly.A guard appeared in the doorway. 'Shaman Neeva, it is time to leave.''I am coming.''Chief Andor asked that you do not delay.''I said I'm coming!' The frightened guard fled. Neeva waited a moment longer, then got reluctantly to his feet. He took off his s.p.a.ce-suit cloak and arranged it on a special stand. From another stand he took a different cloak, this one made from lengths of plastic tubing and strips of electric cable. He placed a glove-like hat on his head and left the Sanctum.The Doctor and Leela had watched all this through the gap. 'I like the hat,' whispered the Doctor. 'Very fetching.''That is the Hand of Xoanon,' said Leela reprovingly.'That is an armoured s.p.a.ce-glove, or what's left of one.' The Doctor started wrenching the repair-patch from the hole.Outside the Council hut, the warriors were gathering. Their mood was sullen and rebellious, and Andor and Neeva were doing their best to whip them into a state of enthusiasm. 'The attack must begin at once,' roared Andor.Neeva joined in. 'Soon the Wall will open. Xoanon has spoken. Now that the Evil One is dead, we cannot fail!' He began to chant the Litany. Reluctantly at first, then with increasing fervour, the warriors gave their responses. Soon the familiar ritual had them in its spell and their eyes blazed with anger as they shouted their hatred of the Tesh.The Doctor ripped aside the last of the matting and squeezed through the hole. Leela followed him. Once inside the Sanctum the Doctor headed straight for the altar. He began to examine the sacred relics of Xoanon, handling them with a familiarity which made Leela shudder.The Doctor looked up and said thoughtfully, 'You know, I had the distinct feeling that Neeva expected an answer to that prayer of his.''Wouldn't be much point in praying if he didn't.'The Doctor smiled. 'I've met theologians who'd give you an argument on that. No, I mean he was listening.'The Doctor picked up a plastic tube packed with complex circuits and pressed a switch in its side. 'h.e.l.lo, transgalactic operator, h.e.l.lo!' He listened for a moment then tossed the tube aside. 'Nothing. Dead as a Dalek.'Leela stared at him. 'Why did you speak to that tube?''I thought I recognised it.' The Doctor was gazing abstractedly round the Sanctum and his eyes fell on the s.p.a.ce-suit cloak on its stand. He crossed over to it and began fiddling with the controls set inside the helmet.A voice from inside the helmet said, 'Neeva! Neeva, is that you?'Leela was terrified. She dropped to her knees, making the sign of protection.The Doctor was almost equally surprised. Not just because of the voice-he'd been hoping for a reply from the transceiver inside the helmet. What astonished the Doctor was the fact that the voice he heard was his own!'A hot line to G.o.d,' he murmured. 'Lucky old Neeva.' He looked down at Leela. 'Don't be afraid, it's only a machine for sending voices over long distances. If that is is Xoanon speaking, then he isn't a G.o.d. G.o.ds don't need to use machines.' Xoanon speaking, then he isn't a G.o.d. G.o.ds don't need to use machines.'Still a little fearful, Leela straightened up. 'Are you certain?''Of course I am. Aren't you?''Yes,' said Leela hesitantly. 'Yes, I suppose so.' 'That's better.'The voice spoke again. 'Neeva! Neeva! 'The Doctor said politely, 'I'm sorry, Neeva isn't here at the moment. Can I take a message?'There was a long silence. Then the voice chanted, 'At last we are here. At last. At last. Us! ''Us?''You. Me. Us,' crooned the voice. 'At last I shall be free of us.''Who are you?' demanded the Doctor.The voice was surprised. 'Don't I know?' The transceiver clicked off, and there was silence.Leela looked at the Doctor. He was standing like someone in a trance, staring wide-eyed into the distance. 'Leela, I'm beginning to get a very nasty idea...'What idea?'The Doctor seemed to be talking to himself. 'Something I I did? It seems like it...' did? It seems like it...''What are you talking about?''Who did that voice remind you of?''You? Yes that's it, it was your voice. How could that be?''More to the point, who could that be? I think it's time I took a look at this Wall of yours.'Andor was leading the warriors of the Sevateem along the forest path that led to the Wall. Beside him marched Neeva in his Shaman's robe. Andor glanced over his shoulder at the file of warriors behind him. A pitiful handful they were too, he thought. The Sevateem were dwindling year by year. Hunting accidents, famine, disease, and above all the endless futile attacks upon the Wall had reduced their numbers to a few grizzled warriors together with the boys who had just attained manhood. Much more of this and Xoanon would have no Sevateem left to worship him. Still, this time it was going to be different. This time they were going to storm the Wall, rescue Xoanon, and bring about an age of endless peace and prosperity for the tribe. Andor was doing his best to make himself believe that Neeva's prophecies would all come true. But his heart was full of dread as he led his men along the trail.Tomas appeared ahead, running back towards them.'I saw the Wall,' he gasped, as he came up to them. Andor gripped his arm. 'Was there a gap?'Tomas nodded. 'It is as Neeva prophesied! The gap is there! It's like before-a sort of shining tunnel.' 'How wide?''Big enough for three men, perhaps four.'Andor tugged his beard. 'I still don't like it.''You think it's a trap?'Neeva came forward. 'Xoanon is fighting on our side. Even though he is held captive, he has summoned all his power to make the gap, so that we may rescue him. Unless we attack now now his powers will fade and the gap will close. Xoanon would not lay traps for his people.' his powers will fade and the gap will close. Xoanon would not lay traps for his people.''The Tesh might,' said Andor stubbornly. 'Or the Evil One.'Tomas looked at him in surprise. 'Neeva told us that the Evil One has been destroyed.'Andor glanced quickly at Neeva. 'Yes, that's true. So it it has.' He came to his decision. 'Come, we've wasted enough time. I'll lead the main attack. You take the left flank, Tomas, Calib the right.' Andor raised his hand and the little column began to move forward. has.' He came to his decision. 'Come, we've wasted enough time. I'll lead the main attack. You take the left flank, Tomas, Calib the right.' Andor raised his hand and the little column began to move forward.In a distant part of the forest. theDoctor had reached another part of the Wall. He stood gazing thoughtfully up at it, Leela by his side. It was an astonishing sight, a sheet of pure true blackness, a nothingness , stretching in all directions. To the left, to the right, and high above them there was the same dead blackness. The forest seemed to border it on either side.'It's a Time Barrier,' said the Doctor softly.'I don't understand.''The principle's very simple. You just move everything inside the barrier forward a couple of seconds. The result is your Wall-a barrier completely impervious to all forms of energy. I've seen it done as a parlour trick, but never on this scale.''Is there any way to get past it?''Only one. It can be bridged from within, by whoever set it up.'Leela told him of the gaps that appeared in the Wall from time to time, of the always-futile attacks made by the Sevateem in their attempts to rescue the captive G.o.d Xoanon. 'Andor and the others are about to attack again at some other part of the Wall. But if what you say is true, they're walking into a trap. Can't we warn them?''Too late,' said the Doctor sadly. 'The attack will be starting at any moment. Anyway, they wouldn't listen.''Calib might. He's more intelligent than the others-more open-minded. Come on, Doctor. Let's try.' She looked pleadingly at him, and after a moment the Doctor nodded. They turned away from the blackness of the Wall and headed back to the village.Andor and his warriors crouched at the edge of the forest. Just as Tomas had reported, a kind of radiant tunnel had appeared in the blackness of the Wall. It stretched temptingly ahead of them. The gateway to Paradise .Andor drew a deep breath then rose to his feet. 'Attack!' he yelled. 'Come on all of you. Attack! 'Warriors at his heels, Andor dashed forward. There was no planning, no strategy, just a headlong charge. As the Sevateem followed their Chief into the tunnel, Neeva stood at the edge of the forest, arms held high in prayer. 'Protect your warriors, oh Xoanon. Strengthen their arms so that at last they may free you.'Suddenly a fierce white light blazed from the mouth of the tunnel, swallowing up Andor and his warriors. Yelling and screaming they disappeared into its radiance, brandishing spears and firing crossbows.Tomas turned to his men. 'Attack!' he yelled, and led his warriors in a charge. 'Come on, Calib.'As Tomas and his warriors dashed into the blinding radiance, Calib's men looked fearfully at him. Calib stood watching silently. He made no attempt to lead his men to the attack.A high-pitched electronic howl filled the air, and all round the tunnel men twisted and fell. Soon the air was filled with the screams of the dying. The tunnel began to close...
6 Danger for Leela
Hands plunged deep into his pockets the Doctor stood waiting in the middle of the empty Council hut. Leela was by the entrance, keeping watch. A solitary figure appeared and she ducked back out of sight. 'He's coming, Doctor,' she hissed. 'I told you Calib would survive if anyone did.' Hands plunged deep into his pockets the Doctor stood waiting in the middle of the empty Council hut. Leela was by the entrance, keeping watch. A solitary figure appeared and she ducked back out of sight. 'He's coming, Doctor,' she hissed. 'I told you Calib would survive if anyone did.'Calib came wearily into the hut-and stopped in astonishment at the sight of the Doctor.The Doctor beamed. 'Ah, there you are, Calib. I was just thinking about you.'Calib stood warily, crossbow in hand. 'So Neeva and Andor lied to us.''I wouldn't be surprised. By the way Leela's just behind you.'Calib whirled round. Leela was by the doorway covering him with her crossbow. 'Ah,' he said thoughtfully, and stood very still. Leela made an impatient gesture and Calib put down his crossbow on a nearby bench.'How was your battle?' asked the Doctor.'Like the last time.'Leela looked at him in anguish. 'Another ma.s.sacre?'Calib nodded wearily. 'There was this blinding light, and a terrible noise. Then the Wall closed up. We never even saw the Tesh, and more than half the men were killed.''But not you,' said Leela flatly. 'You seem unhurt.' Calib shrugged. 'There's no particular virtue in dying, Leela.'Leela's voice was scornful. 'That depends on what you do to avoid it.''Now, Leela,' said the Doctor. 'Let's not quarrel. I'm sure Calib is a reasonable man. After all, we came here to talk to him.''What do you want of me, Doctor?' asked Calib curiously.'We need someone's help-and Leela thinks it might be yours.'Calib looked distrustfully at Leela. 'Why me?'Leela moved closer to him. 'The Tribe is in desperate danger, Calib,' she said urgently. 'The Doctor is the only one who can help us. We've got to convince the others he's not the Evil One.''Having convinced you first, of course,' added the Doctor.'I don't think you're the Evil One-I never have. I don't believe in evil spirits.''I'm impressed,' said the Doctor. 'It looks as though Leela was right about you.'Calib strolled closer to Leela, ignoring the threatening crossbow. 'If I'm to help you, I'll need to know everything you've discovered.'The Doctor frowned. 'Well, there isn't much time... Leela showed me this Wall of yours, and in my opinion...'Calib's hand flashed out and Leela staggered back.Calib s.n.a.t.c.hed the crossbow from her weakening grasp. As she fell, Leela stretched out a hand to the Doctor, as if in appeal. An ugly black shape was embedded in the back.'What have you done to her?' shouted the Doctor.'Janis thorn. Something you hadn't thought of, Doctor.'The Doctor started moving towards Leela. Calib made a threatening gesture with the bow. 'Stay where you are!''I thought you were being convinced a bit too easily.''Oh, I meant what I said, Doctor. I don't believe you're the Evil One-but the others do. Neeva said you'd been destroyed, and here you are. Just the evidence I need to break him.''Leela underestimated your ambition,' said the Doctor softly.'It's for the good of the Tribe.'The Doctor looked down at Leela. 'Naturally. And this too?''She might have tried to stop me,' said Calib simply. 'I said stay where you are!''You need me alive-remember?' The Doctor knelt beside Leela and began feeling her wrist for a pulse. 'Calib, you held back! You cost us the attack!' Calib turned. Tomas stood in the doorway, battle-stained, weary, and very angry.Suddenly the Doctor threw himself backwards and swung his legs round in a sweeping arc, that knocked Calib's legs from under him. Calib tried to get up but the Doctor was already on his feet. s.n.a.t.c.hing the crossbow from Calib's hands he stood towering over him, and spoke without looking round. 'Come in, whoever you are. Who are you by the way?''Tomas. What's happened to Leela?''Calib here poisoned her with a Janis thorn. Up you get, Calib.''I think you've broken my leg.''I'll break your nose if you don't get up,' said the Doctor savagely.Calib struggled to his feet, looking at the Doctor's crossbow. 'It takes skill to use one of those things.''What, at this range? All it takes is a flick of the wrist. Now, pick Leela up and carry her in there.' The Doctor nodded towards Neeva's Sanctum. 'Tomas, you help him.'Tomas and Calib carried Leela into the Sanctum and the Doctor pointed towards a low bed in one corner. 'Put her on there. Gently, now.'They lowered Leela on to the bed. 'What are you going to do?' asked Calib.The Doctor looked at Tomas. 'Tomas, you don't want her to die, do you?''Of course not.''Then keep him covered for me. I need time to work.'The Doctor pa.s.sed the crossbow to Tomas, and began examining the sacred relics on the altar.Tomas looked a little bemusedly at the bow in his hands and Calib took a step towards the door. Tomas raised the bow to cover him. 'I wouldn't do that, Calib.''Don't be a fool, Tomas, I'm going to give the alarm.''Back against the wall!'Cali
« Previous My Bookmarks Chapters Next»