'Because I am a friend of the Kinda and I share the Kinda's aim where you are concerned.'
'I control the Kinda...'
'You did for a while. But no longer.'
'I still control them. Here I am Aris. I have Voice.'
'So I hear. But we both know that it is the voice of a Mara in the body of Aris. The snake on your arm, the symbol of your power, confirms it.'
Aris limped menacingly towards him. 'And what if that power were to enter you, Doctor?'
'Too late, I'm afraid. Far too late.' Stepping back, the Doctor shouted. 'Now.' He ran for the edge of the clearing, followed by Karuna.
Aris lurched in pursuit and recoiled as he found himself facing his own reflection in a huge silver mirror.
The Kinda with the mirrors had been well rehea.r.s.ed.
Aris whirled round, and found another mirror behind him.
He turned another on his left.
He turned the other way and saw another mirror to his right.
Aris turned again and again, whirling desperately, but the mirrors were everywhere, and they were closing in. He saw not only his own unbearable reflection, but reflections of that reflection, repeated again and again and again. The Mara screamed.
'Be ready to pull Aris free as soon as the snake leaves him,' shouted the Doctor.
Aris's arm was stretched out rigidly before him. The snake was pulsing, wriggling...
Suddenly it moved, leaving Aris's arm. The snake wriggled furiously for a moment and began to grow.
From behind the mirror-holding Kinda, the Doctor and his companions looked on.
'What's happening, Doctor?' whispered Adric.
'The Mara is detaching itself. It's leaving Aris, it has no more use for him.'
The snake flowed from Aris's arm, and dropped to the ground, where it wriggled furiously. Aris stared dazedly at it for a moment and then seized it in a pa.s.sion of hatred, as if determined to throttle it with his bare hands. But the snake was growing now at an incredible rate. Las.h.i.+ng furiously, it flung Aris to one side.
'Quickly,' yelled the Doctor. 'Pull him clear.'
A couple of brawny Kinda dashed through the gap in the mirrors, grabbed Aris by the legs and heaved him clear.
'Close the gap,' shouted the Doctor. 'Hold your ground, and keep it in the circle!'
The snake was huge now. Larger than any natural animal, it lashed about the clearing in a furious writhing coil. Its markings were red and black and white, and the fierce yellow eyes glowed with hatred.
Instinctively, Doctor Todd backed away. Surely the thing was growing so large that it could soon smash its way out of the circle...
The Doctor seemed to be everywhere, exhorting the different mirror-groups in turn.
'Close the gaps,' he shouted. 'The circle must must be kept closed, so the Mara cannot escape.' be kept closed, so the Mara cannot escape.'
The snake was immense now, seeming to fill the entire clearing.
'It's incredible,' muttered Adric. 'Where does it get its energy from?'
Tegan stared up at the Mara as if fascinated. She began walking steadily towards it as if hypnotised.
Luckily the Doctor saw her in time to pull her back.
'Tegan, are you all right?'
Tegan stared up at the colossal writhing shape. 'Is that the Mara's true form?'
'I had that in my mind?'
'I'm afraid so.'
Tegan s.h.i.+vered uncontrollably. 'But it's gone now, isn't it Doctor?'
There was no answer. The Doctor had gone to rally another group of mirror-holders.
' Hold the circle Hold the circle,' he shouted. 'Stand your ground. Close the gaps! It's all right, stand firm. It's starting to weaken.
Suddenly it was all over.
All its energy expended in that furious spurt of growth, the Mara glowed white-hot and exploded into nothingness.
The Doctor hurried to examine the unconscious Aris.
'He'll be all right.'
Tenderly, the Kinda carried him away.
Pale and shaken, Doctor Todd came to stand by the Doctor. 'So that was the Mara... Why do such things exist?'
The Doctor shook his head. 'Who can say?'
'But it's gone now?'
He nodded. 'Back to the Dark Places of the Inside. Or whatever. But not here. Not anywhere here. This world is free of it.'
Karuna came to join them. 'That is so, Doctor. We are free of the Mara now and of its curse.'
'The curse of Time,' said Karuna. 'It is the Mara which starts the clocks.'
Doctor Todd looked wonderingly at her.
The Doctor smiled and held out his hand. 'Come on, we can go now. It's finished.'
Sanders and Hindle strolled through the jungle, heading back for the Dome.
They were themselves again, or rather, they were more themselves.
Hindle was still the same ambitious young officer, but purged of the inner fear that caused his arrogance and instability.
Sanders was the same grizzled old veteran, but wiser, kinder, altogether more human.
Hindle gave his superior a sidelong glance. 'I suppose everything will have to he entered in the log, sir?'
'Will it?' said Sanders blandly.
With a hint of his old formality, Hindle said, 'The Manual states that it is the duty of the Expedition Commander...'
Sanders looked puzzled. 'What Manual?'
'Oh, I see,' said Hindle.
'I never read the Manual,' said Sanders cheerfully.
Hindle felt a great surge of relief. He gulped and said, 'Thank you.'
'Thank you, sir sir,' corrected Sanders placidly.
'Thank you, sir,' said Hindle solemnly.
They were on their way to say goodbye to the Doctor.
A short time later, the farewells had nearly all been said.
Adric and Tegan stood waiting by the TARDIS. Hindle and Sanders stood at the edge of the clearing, with a little crowd of Kinda. Karuna was there, holding Panna's stick, and Trickster had made himself a new Doll. Even Aris was there, still a little weak and dazed, but himself again, his brother by his side.
The Doctor was saying goodbye to Doctor Todd. 'It's agreed then?'
'They've accepted my recommendation. "This planet is to be cla.s.sified as totally unsuitable for colonisation and the unit will be withdrawn as soon as possible." Sanders is pleased.'
'He wants to come back here when he retires. I told him he should just wander off into the jungle now, no-one would notice...' She laughed. 'I'm not sure about poor old Hindle though.'
'He'll be all right,' said the Doctor cheerfully. 'He was driven out of his mind, and then back in again. Just what he needed! What about you, will you stay?'
She smiled and shook her head. 'I don't think so.'
'You're not tempted by Paradise?'
'Oh, it's all right at first. But it's all a bit too green for me.'
'Doctor!' called Tegan.
Doctor Todd looked at the TARDIS. You don't actually go into s.p.a.ce in that?'
The Doctor smiled. 'That would be quite unreasonable, wouldn't it?'
'Well, unlikely anyway!'
'Doctor!' called another voice.
The Doctor turned and saw Nyssa waving from the TARDIS doorway. 'It seems people are getting impatient.'
'Then you must go.'
The Doctor held out his hand. 'Goodbye.'
'Goodbye.' She turned and walked away, turning to wave when she reached the edge of the clearing.
The Doctor walked back to the TARDIS.
'h.e.l.lo, Doctor,' said Nyssa.
The Doctor studied her. 'h.e.l.lo, Nyssa. How are you?'
'Fully recovered,' she said happily. 'What have you been doing?'
'Oh this and that,' said the Doctor vaguely. 'Having fun.'
'Can we go now?'
The Doctor looked over his shoulder. 'I don't see why not. I think Paradise is a little too green for me as well!'
The TARDIS door closed behind him.
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