'Not without the trigger mechanism. Your friend the Doctor took that!'
'So what'll happen?' The hum of power was rising to a roar.
'The particles will just go on accelerating and accelerating until-bang! The whole place will go up!' Yates tugged at the Brigadier's arm, raising his voice above the throb of power. 'Look, sir. The door.' The hole had begun growing again. Many-tentacled figures could be seen ma.s.sing on the other side.
The roar of the runaway Particle Accelerator rose higher still...
Trapped in Time The Master straightened up. 'There-it's finished! Your link's complete.'
'Not quite!' Thrusting the Master aside, the Doctor began adjusting controls at feverish speed, his hands flickering over the console like some demented pianist.
The Master watched him, a light of dawning comprehension in his eyes. 'Why are you changing the settings? That's a Time loop!
Doctor, don't switch on-we'll be trapped too...'
The Master tried to pull the Doctor away, but a hearty shove sent him reeling out through the still-open door of the TARDIS.
Quickly the Doctor closed the doors. He touched the controls and the materialisation noise began.
Outside in the Brain area the Master yelled, 'Stop him, you fools! Don't you understand? He's committing suicide and taking us with him. It's all a trick. He's doing this for Earth, not you... He's putting you in a Time loop and you'll stay there-forever!'
Even if the Axons had been prepared to listen to him, they were in no state to act. The sudden wrench through Time had totally disorientated them. They staggered wildly about the Brain area, tentacles flailing helplessly. The Eye revolved furiously on its stalk.
'Stop them! Stop them!' screamed the Voice of Axos.
The Master thrust his way through the Axons and disappeared inside his TARDIS.
The Doctor leaned over the TARDIS console like a man setting a reluctant horse to a jump. 'Come on, old girl.' he muttered.
'You can do it. Don't let me down now. We've got to drag Axos into that Time loop!'
He flicked more switches and a final surge of power poured through the TARDIS...
The concrete door crumbled away, and a flood of Axon monsters poured into the laboratory. The UNIT troops hurled their last grenades. The wave of Axons checked, they surged forward again.
Jo screamed as an Axon loomed over her. The Brigadier emptied his revolver into another, and he flung the gun in a last, useless gesture.
Yates and Benton lashed out, using empty rifles like clubs.
Filer grabbed a lab stool and raised it above his head.
The Axons vanished.
Axos vanished. The heaving mountainous ma.s.s disappeared into thin air. vanished. The heaving mountainous ma.s.s disappeared into thin air.
All over the world, the rampaging ma.s.ses of Axonite vanished too.
In the s.p.a.ce/Time continuum Axos traced an unending spiral course, whirling forever in an endless figure-eight.
Inside his TARDIS the Doctor readjusted controls once more.
'Come on, old girl. One final effort! We must break free. You got them in in the Time loop-now get me the Time loop-now get me out out!'
From outside the TARDIS he could hear the Voice of Axos.
'Your sacrifice will not save you, Time Lord. You are joined to us forever in the loop of Time. Your fate is ours!'
'Come on,' urged the Doctor. ' Come on Come on!'
The Eye of Axos glared in hopeless malignant rage as the TARDIS dematerialised.
And Axos continued its journey through s.p.a.ce/ Time-a journey that would never end...
It took the dazed survivors only a moment to realise that although the menace of the Axons was gone, the menace of the roaring Particle Accelerator was still on top of them.
'Outside, everybody,' yelled the Brigadier. 'It'll go up any minute!'
Chinn led the dash to the door by several yards.
They made it just in time. Even as they all got through the door there came the first explosion. Its force caved in most of the outer wall, and the entrance behind them was blocked by falling rubble.
Ericson grabbed the Brigadier's arm. 'Come on,' he shouted.
'That was only the first one. There'll be a whole series of them before it finally blows' ' They ran for shelter.
In the laboratory, there was a wheezing, groaning noise. Blue light flashing, the TARDIS materialised. The door opened and the Doctor stepped out beaming. 'Hullo, everybody, I'm...' His smile faded as he took in the desolation around him, the shuddering, roaring Accelerator.
There was an explosion and then another. Part of the roof caved in and the TARDIS was showered with rubble. 'Dear me,' said the Doctor mildly, and ducked hurriedly back inside.
He ran to the console and quickly operated controls. For a moment nothing happened. The TARDIS rocked with the force of another, greater explosion. 'Come on,' begged the Doctor. 'Take me somewhere-anywhere!'
Slowly the central column began to move.
As a final terrifying explosion destroyed the laboratory forever, the TARDIS dematerialised yet again...
Ericson led them to the shelter of one of the specially constructed blast-walls which surrounded the laboratory area. Almost immediately they were thrown to the ground by the final, shattering explosion. Ears ringing they looked out from shelter. There was a smoking, rubble-filled crater where once the laboratory had stood.
Slowly they walked towards it.
Jo's face was white. 'What about the Doctor? Suppose he decided to come back after all and materialised inside the lab?'
The Brigadier shook his head. 'Let's hope he didn't, Jo.
Nothing could have survived that.'
As if to prove him wrong there came a familiar groaning sound. The TARDIS re-materialised, balanced precariously on top of the heap of rubble. The door opened and the Doctor stepped out.
Perched on a shattered beam, he looked down at the astonished faces below him. 'Well, there's a fine welcome, I must say! '
Much, much later, back in Hardiman's office, the Doctor was still trying to explain. 'It's perfectly simple, Brigadier. A Time loop is, well-it's a Time loop.' He made a complicated figure-of-eight gesture with his hands. 'You pa.s.s continually through the same fixed points in s.p.a.ce/Time.'
'And that's what Axos is doing?'
'That's right. For ever and ever. They wanted Time travel-and now they've got it! '
There was just one question occupying Filer. 'What about the Master?'
'I sincerely hope he's trapped in Axos too.'
The Doctor looked a little uneasy. 'I can't be absolutely sure,'
he said defensively. 'I was a little busy at the time!'
Filer just looked at him.
The Doctor cleared his throat. 'I'm ninety per cent certain, though.'
'Well, pretty certain. Fairly positive, really.' Faced with Filer's unwinking stare the Doctor threw up his hands. 'Oh, I suppose it's possible he got away-just possible.'
Filer heaved a deep, deep sigh.
The Brigadier took up the questioning. 'So how did you get out of this-Time loop thingummy?'
'I boosted the temporal circuits and broke free,' said the Doctor impatiently. 'Nearly blew up the TARDIS-but the old girl made it in the end.'
Now it was Jo's turn. 'Never mind the scientific stuff, Doctor.
Why did you have us all think you'd made a deal with the Master to do the dirty on us?'
The Doctor put an arm round her shoulders. 'I'm sorry about all that, Jo-really! But I needed the Master's help-and I knew he'd never give it unless he thought I was as big a villain as he was! '
'Why didn't you let us into the secret?'
'I didn't dare. It was just because all your reactions were genuine that the Master was finally convinced.'
Jo smiled with relief. 'So you wouldn't really have gone off and left us in the lurch?'
The Doctor looked rather uncomfortable. 'To be perfectly honest, Jo... Yes and no!'
Jo was indignant. 'And what does that mean?'
'Well yes yes, I would have gone off-but no no, I wouldn't have left you in the lurch. I had a sort of double plan, you see. First to dispose of Axos-which I did. Then to get away from Earth in the TARDIS.'
'Which you didn't,' said Jo. 'Why not? A change of heart?'
The Doctor looked even more guilty. 'I'm afraid not, Jo. The Time Lords have programmed a return circuit into the TARDIS.
Even if I do get it going, it will just take me back to Earth. I seem to be some kind of cosmic yo-yo,' he concluded indignantly.
Filer stood up. 'Well, goodbye, everyone. The disappointed bloodhound will now trail back to Washington.' He shook his head ruefully. 'And to think I reckoned England would be dull.'
After a round of handshakes, and a kiss on the cheek from Jo, Filer went on his way.
The Brigadier stood up too. 'Well, we'd better be getting back to UNIT H.Q. Make sure Chinn doesn't grab all the credit.'
Chinn was already safely back in Whitehall, explaining to the Minister how his his genius had solved the problem. genius had solved the problem.
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