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Staggering Stories Podcast #263: Musical Helmets
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sat, 20 May 2017 14:03

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 2017 Doctor Who episodes ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Oxygen’, tell of their recent visit to the Doctor Who studios in Cardiff and the Capitol 2 Doctor Who convention, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #191: Doctor Who – The Pilot
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 14 May 2017 09:46

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, puddled, in front of the 2017 Doctor Who S10 premiere episode, ‘The Pilot’, and spout our usual nonsense! This Doctor is a lecturing security guard, Bill is fattening up the locals and Heather has a very moist fixation. But enough of their problems, please […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #262: We Are Pete
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sat, 06 May 2017 16:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Fake Keith and the Real Keith Dunn review the 2017 Doctor Who episodes ‘Smile’ and ‘Thin Ice’, and the 2017 film ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2’, find some general news, play a game and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:12 — Welcome! 01:39 […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #190: Babylon 5 – Intersections in Real Time
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, interrogated, in front of the Season 4 Babylon 5 episode Intersections in Real Time, and spout our usual nonsense! Sheridan is feeling strapped in, William is just doing his job and, well, that’s pretty much everyone. But enough of their problems, please sit down […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #261: Of Companions and Pilots
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Jean Riddler, Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 2017 Doctor Who episode ‘The Pilot’ and discuss what makes a Doctor Who companion, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 02:29 — Welcome! 02:21 – News: 02:36 — Star Trek: Discovery narrowly avoids Worf. 04:41 […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #260: Masterfully Unbound
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 09 Apr 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 2016 Big Finish Doctor Who boxset ‘The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield, Vol. 3 – The Unbound Universe’ and discuss Doctor Who’s The Master in general, play a game, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: […]

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Doctor Who: A Visit To The Café

By Ashley Myles


The flowers were in full bloom, their scents wafted pleasantly around the gardens. A bumblebee happily buzzed from bush, to flower, and to tree. It was a peaceful and idyllic scene. As it flew, it's tiny wings beating in such a way that would always baffle and infuriate earth scientists; the bumblebee alighted for a moment. It landed on a tall blue box that was hidden in the shade of an Oak tree. Outside this strange edifice, cooling in its shade were two rather worn deck chairs. On these, stretched out, were two figures. The elder of the two was a rather distinguished old gentleman with flowing silver locks. He wore checked trousers and a frock coat. On his head was a rather yellowing Panama hat. His clothes had a vaguely Victorian air. Beside him was his travelling companion Dodo.

The Doctor was deep in sleep and snoring loudly. Dodo looked at him, picked up a stick that was lying beside her chair and gave him a nudge with it. He stirred for a moment and then went back to sleep. This time, at least, he had stopped snoring. Dodo turned away from him and went back to her own napping.

The Man, as if by magic, appeared from nowhere. Or was it no time? He wore a very well tailored grey suit, and had perfectly prepared hair. The only thing strange about his appearance was his bright silver waistcoat that glittered in the sunlight. As he got his bearings, His keen eyes scanned his new surroundings. There was nothing of interest to be seen. Then he saw the TARDIS. He moved towards it and felt its surface. The tremor of latent power travelled through his fingers... He stepped back slightly amazed at the purity of the power and said to himself, "At last I've found exactly what I need..."

In his sleep the Doctor stirred uneasily. The TARDIS was trying to alert him to something... Meanwhile, the strange man rubbed his hands together and concentrated. An eerie glow enveloped him. He shuddered for a moment, and then relaxed. With his arms extended in front of him, he advanced towards the TARDIS. As his hands touched it, there was a crackle of static and a release of ozone. He walked forwards and his entire body sank through the Police Box exterior of the TARDIS...

At the very same moment, the sleeping figure of the Doctor shot rapidly back into full consciousness. He sat bolt upright in his chair; sweat trickling from under his Panama hat. He took a hanky from his pocket and mopped his furrowed brow. He looked around to the TARDIS. He noticed that the beacon on top was flashing red. "Oh dear, I do believe that I may have a bit of a problem!"

The Intruder was definitely in a bit of trouble. He had expected to penetrate the interior of the time vessel. Instead he was trapped in the dimensional limbo between the inner and outer plasmic shells of the TARDIS... He found he could not penetrate any further. This was because as soon as the TARDIS had detected the outer shell breach, it had raised the interior defence shields... As he floated about he reasoned that he would need to build a bridge. The only thing was it could take him quite a time to construct one. He only hoped that the owner of the craft didn't discover him before he breached the inner plasmic shell. He then put his hands to his temple and closed his eyes. He sank into very deep thought. What he really needed was to find any tiny chink in the shell's defences. It wouldn't have to be very large...

The doors to the console room opened and the Doctor walked in. He crossed to the console and shut the doors. As he looked around his eyes fell on the fault locator. It was flashing angrily at him. The Doctor walked to it and made a note of the digital code on it's read out. He turned from the machine and then made his way to the far corner of the console room… Where there stood an ancient bureau, and near to that was an ornate Ormolu Clock. He paused to set the correct time on the clock's bezel and then opened the slide top of the bureau. After a moment of searching he found what he was looking for - The TARDIS flight manual. If only all of his past travelling companions knew of it's existence, and of the vital information it contained. The Doctor thought about this, and a wicked smile spread across his face. He blew the dust off its cover and opened the book. He leafed through it until he found the section on Error and Fault reports. The former smile melted from his aged face. "Um. An outer plasmic shell breach. I'll have to look into this carefully..." He then went to the interior door of the console room. As he opened it a thought struck him. He spun round and went to the console. He reached over and flicked the switch on the outer lock isolation system. Dodo now could not gain access to the TARDIS. She would be a lot safer outside in the warmth of the garden. He then, without a moments delay, exited the console room and headed towards the laboratory.

He floated about, still deep in concentration... As he thought on, he could see the inner shell of the TARDIS in front of him. As he looked closely he thought he could see the chink in the shell's armour. His hand reached towards it, and as his fingers touched there was a shimmering in its fabric. Then there was a bright flash. Now just before his eyes, a portion of TARDIS components was now exposed. He smiled. He was most pleased with his technician's skills. His hand reached into his pocket and removed a small, shiny silver bead. With the bead in the palm of his hand, he covered it with his other hand. A dull red glow enveloped his clasped hands; this was combined with a high-pitched whine...

Time passes... He opened his hands and looked again at his palm. In the place of the bead there was now a small silver spider. He looked at his spidery friend and said, "You know what to find, my little friend. Go out and eat any silver components you can see." He paused, "Be careful. Don't take anything vital. Without this vessel, I cannot complete my task... So go now and be fruitful." After completing his little speech, he touched the circuitry with his finger... The little spider ran along it and was absorbed into the TARDIS. At the moment it totally disappeared, a ripple was sent through the fabric of the plasmic shell to the interior of the vessel...

The first thing the Doctor did when he reached the Laboratory, apart from puff and wheeze, was to make himself a nice cup of tea. He always found the Tannic acid it contained helped relax his ancient body. He sipped on his cup of tea, and his eyes spied the comfy sofa. It seemed out of place in the hi-tech lab. He decided to get his breath back and stretched out on it. The Doctor then put his cup of tea on the lab floor beside the sofa. Just after he placed it down, the whole interior of the room rippled in a most improbable manner. Unfortunately the contents of his cup were spilt. Then all hell broke loose amongst the computers in the lab. Warning lights flashed on the science computer. Suddenly all activity ceased, and for a while there was silence...

Boom... Boom... Boom...

The ominous sound of the cloister bell shattered the silence. The Doctor rose quickly from the sofa, he crossed to the science computer. On it's screen was flashing a message. It also was speaking the message thus, "INNER PLASMIC SHELL INSTABILITY... TOLERANCES BEYOND AUTO REPAIR... PILOT MANUAL OVERRIDE NEEDED... WARNING... WARNING... SHELL COLLAPSE IN FIVE MINUTES..." The Doctor looked away from the computer and said, "You just cannot trust a computer to make a serious decision for you... It's just as well really. I have never trusted them fully." As he listened, he realised that the TARDIS was back to it's usual self. That was strange he thought. Although the ship was back to normal, he could still hear the cloister bell in his head. The telepathic circuits were still reminding him The TARDIS was still in danger. He only had four minutes left, so he would have to make his way quickly to the drive room...

Dodo awoke from her sleep, yawned and looked around her. The Doctor was nowhere in site. " I know, he must have popped back inside for some refreshment." She got up from her deck chair and approached the doors of the TARDIS. To her amazement the doors were locked. Dodo fumbled about in her khaki shorts and removed her copy of the TARDIS key. She inserted it into the lock. With a twist of her hand she turned the key... Click... Nothing happened. No open door, no entrance to the console room. Nothing. The doors stayed reticently closed... She was, to all intents and purposes, locked out. She turned from the doors and said," I must be locked out for a good reason... I'll just have to sit back down, and wait it out." She flopped heavily back down on her trusty deck chair, which to add insult to injury immediately collapsed. It really appeared to be one of THOSE days...

In and out of TARDIS components the little spider ran. Occasionally it stopped to eat all traces of silver it could find. During this time it had only made one mistake. Its sharp little teeth had nibbled away at a portion of the plasmic shell stabilizer. It wasn't worried about the damage because the pilot of the vessel should be able to restore it manually. It hoped...

The doors of the drive room burst open, and the Doctor skidded to a halt in front of the drive computer. He was, as after any exertion, wheezing like an asthmatic pit pony. The sound of the cloister bell was still ringing in his mind. He steadied himself for a moment to regain his usual composure. Inside his head the telepathic circuits told him he had under a minute to activate the manual override. First he would have to find the switch. He looked eagerly around for it. He mumbled to himself, "Where on earth is the wretched thing?" The Doctor looked around and then finally located the switch. He brushed the dust off it, and pressed the activator... Click...

The sound of the bell in his head ceased. He went from the switch to the drive computer. He looked at it and spoke; "Please may I have a status report on Inner Plasmic shell, if you please." The computer considered this and replied, "SHELL IS NOW STABILIZED... FURTHER SCANS REVEAL UNIDENTIFIED LIFE-FORM..." The Doctor heard this with interest and headed towards the door. As he went through it he said, "An unidentified life-form, eh... How dare it hitch a lift. I'll have to find a way of dealing with it."

The Doctor left the drive room and headed back towards the console room. He let his body relax. He really needed a rest. As he walked he passed the TARDIS cinema. He decided to stop for a while and peruse what cinematic treats it had to offer. As he opened the door to the cinema, he remembered that he and his granddaughter Susan had, when he had first 'borrowed' the TARDIS, started a collection of classic films from throughout Earth's history. As he studied the play list, he found that could stay and see 'A CLOCKWORK ORANGE' or 'THE EXORCIST (UNCUT)'. Believe it or not, this small ship's cinema was the only place on Earth where you could see both these films on the silver screen, and be seen in their entirety. What a good thing that the petty attitudes of repressionist censors had not pervaded the minds of the management here. The Doctor sat down in one of the plush red velvet seats. Another good thing, he thought, about the TARDIS cinema was the fact that there wasn't a lot of poor, underpaid staff being forced by the management to sell you horrible food at unreal prices. Also, as the Doctor remembered from his last visit to the cinema in the mid 1990's, that his luxury seats and air conditioning did not give you chronic back pain and save you from having to go to a sauna after your visit! He really hated the commercial 'Multiplexes' run by big companies who drove the little independents to the wall. To these big companies profit was the only reason for existence. The Doctor closed his eyes and said, "Enough of this reminiscing. I have got some business to attend to!" With this he rose from his seat and left the cinema. At the door he paused to look at the silver screen. As he looked, he could see that there seemed to be portions of the screen that had been eaten away. He suddenly said, "It appears I'll have to return with the insect spray!" He shut the door with a swift movement. A moment after, a silver spider shuffled from the shadows. It found an open access port and disappeared into it...

The spider found its way back to its master very easily. It's body materialised back on the panel of components it had originally entered through. There was one thing that was different about it. The spider seemed to have put on a bit of weight. "Oh, so you're back are you?" The spider looked at the man happily. "I thought I told you not to nibble anything important." The spider looked away sheepishly. The Intruder saw this and said, "Still, not to worry my friend. I see from your little weight problem that you have found some silver for me." The spider looked back at him and nodded. The Intruder then held out his hand out and the spider scuttled along it to his palm. He thought to himself that it was a pity that he had to destroy the spider. It seemed to have developed a little personality of it's own. Still, he would see what he could do about the sad situation. As in its creation, he enclosed it within both hands. After a moment he opened his hands. The likeable spider had been converted into the raw material he needed for the bridging unit. He then clasped his hands together again. Now in his hand was a small silver printed circuit board. It looked like a perfectly normal circuit…

The strange thing about it was that the fact that there seemed to be a spider's head embossed on its corner. The head appeared to be smiling...

The sun started to set on the gardens. The shadows it caused grew longer. Dodo sat on the grass beside the locked TARDIS. If you looked at her closely, you could tell from the look on her face that she was very unhappy with her lot. The air around her was just starting to get a little chilly. She looked around her surroundings for the umpteenth time, and decided to get up and give the TARDIS doors a vicious beating. As she went to do this, the doors opened unexpectedly in front of her... The Doctor looked from out of the open doors at her. He said, "Come on, my dear." She paused and looked rather defiantly at him in amazement. "Hurry up will you. We haven't got much time left!"

Back in the void between the plasmic shells, a ripple of turbulence hit the Intruder. "The owner must have opened the main doors. I wonder if he has gone to get reinforcements?" As he just recovered, a second ripple hit him. Logically, he thought to himself, the pilot must have now closed them again. As he relaxed a second time he said, "It seems as if I will have to pull my finger out." With that utterance, he placed the silver bridging unit that he held against the area of open TARDIS circuitry. As they touched there was a melding of both. The Intruder looked very happy with his handy work. "It won't be long before I can complete the task that I started." Then he questioned the bridging unit, "Are you ready yet?" The spider's head on the unit looked at him and smiled again. The unit continued with the final stages...

Lights started to flash wildly on the console. Someone was tampering with the operations of the TARDIS. The Doctor followed by Dodo moved from the console to the fault locator. The Doctor suddenly stopped dead. To his amazement a new display screen had appeared below the usual digital display. He turned to Dodo and said, "This is most strange, my child. It may sound insane, but that screen seems to have appeared from out of thin air!" She looked at him strangely… "Are you quite sure about this Doctor?" The Doctor caught her in a cold stare... "Are you intending to question my eyesight? Um... Or are you insinuating that I've become senile?" Dodo looked at him apologetically; "I'm sorry Doctor. I didn't mean to imply anything... I thought you might have simply made a mistake." There was a pause... The Doctor's attitude softened and he replied, "I am very glad to hear it my dear. But I want to make something very clear... I may be a little long in the tooth, but I am still the owner of this vessel. I do not think I could make a mistake such as this." Dodo looked happier and said, "That's all right. All I can say is sorry again, Doc." He smiled at her and added, "Very well... Ah, one final thing my dear child. Please kindly refrain from referring to me as DOC. It really is most irritating!" With the air cleared between them, as far as he was concerned, the Doctor turned his attention towards the new screen...

The bridging unit had almost completed its job... It wouldn't be long before the Intruder could pass into the TARDIS interior. Then the Intruder would have to secure it from the pilot. This wouldn't give him any problem. From what he could gather from tapping the TARDIS telepathic circuits, the pilot seemed to be a frail old man. The machine itself was an old vessel and was not in the best of conditions. He only hoped it could get him to his destination, in one piece. He must overcome the pilot carefully, and not damage him. All in all, he could not see that anything could go wrong... He looked again at the bridging unit. This time it winked at him... It was nearly time, and this would be a pushover. How wrong could he have been?

 

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Dodo stared at the message on the screen. As he touched it the screen spoke, "IMMINENT DISRUPTION OF CONSOLE ROOM WALL FABRIC... ALIEN INTRUDER MAY SEEK CONTROL OR DESTRUCTION OF VESSEL... DO YOU WISH TO ACTIVATE DIMENSIONAL CONTAINMENT FIELD UNIT?" The Doctor replied,"Yes." The voice continued thus,"UNIT WILL BE SET UP IN CONSOLE ROOM... ACTIVATOR WILL BE LINKED TO MAIN DRIVE SWITCH... DECISION AS TO WHETHER ALIEN IS DESTROYED WILL BE LEFT TO PILOT..." He turned from the screen and crossed to the central console. Dodo turned to him and said, "You can't just destroy the alien for no reason." The Doctor frowned and said, "The decision is mine, and mine alone." He stood silently in thought. His hands clutching both lapels of his frock coat. After a moment, he moved his hands to the console to steady himself and announced,"Before I despatch it, or if I despatch it. I will want to know its reason for disturbing my peace." After he said this, he realised that he would have to keep his dark side in check. Dodo started to plead with him; "I don't care what you say. Whatever happens please don't kill it." He looked at her and uttered, regretting his earlier statement; "Of course I won't kill it! What sort of a barbarian do you take me for!" After this his hands returned to his lapels...

The bridging unit signalled to the Intruder that it had finished its task. He reached towards it, his fingers making contact. As they touched it, his entire body was thrust through the gap it had created...

The Doctor heard Dodo scream, "Doctor quickly! Look at the wall!" As he looked, he could see what had alarmed her... The shape of a body was slowly emerging from the fabric of the roundelled wall. After a moment, it resolved itself into the shape of a man. As it became totally corporeal, you could see he was wearing a grey suit and a striking silver waistcoat. On his shoulder sat a smiling silver spider. The Doctor looked at the new arrival with contempt and said, "Who on earth are you sir! What do you think you are doing interfering with my vessel?" The Intruder looked at the Doctor, and said, "I want this vessel, old man... Please don't try to stop me. I wouldn't like to damage any of you tissues." The Intruder now stood before the Doctor, whom he seemed to tower over. The Doctor stared at him and said, in an icy tone, "Don't try to intimidate me, boy. In my time, I've been threatened by the masters of the art... To be perfectly frank with you, I don't think you measure up to any of them!" The Intruder laughed and then replied to the Doctor, "Very tough talking from an old man that is on the verge of total cell rejuvenation." He then tried to probe the Doctor's mind for more information, but the Doctor realised this and set up a mental block. "Well, well." The Doctor paused and then continued, "Tried to have another rummage through my mind, did you? Unfortunately, you won't get away with that parlour trick again." The Doctor laughed. The Intruder seemed to shrug this off. He crossed to the console and started to set co-ordinates.

He detected a movement behind him. He sensed it was Dodo. Without looking, he clicked his fingers... Dodo found that she couldn't move a muscle. The Doctor crossed to the opposite side of the console to the Intruder. He said, "I hope Dodo is unharmed." The Intruder looked at him and nodded. He then reached for the drive switch... The Doctor saw this and said, "I really think that you should reconsider this folly." The Doctors face looked grim. The Intruder said to him, "Whatever you say now cannot stop me. I require this craft." The Doctor considered this, and said, "Very well, carry on with this madness. But on your own head be it!" The Intruder flick the drive switch to the 'ON' position... To his annoyance, the Intruder was sucked into the dimensional containment field. He was now trapped without escape... The Doctor peered at the little figure within the centre of the field. As he looked he said, "I did try to warn you, my dear fellow." He gave the containment field a loving pat and walked back to the console. As he approached it, he could see that Dodo was starting to recover from her paralysis.

The quaint little cafe was closed, then again it always was. Inside it, there were eight tables in all, each of which had a red and white checked tablecloth on it. There were also salt and pepper shakers, and gleamingly clean knives, forks and spoons. If you looked towards the only window in the cafe, you could see that the curtains matched the table clothes. If you were of a mind to draw the curtains, and look out of the window, you would get quite a shock. The sight that would greet you wasn't one of a peaceful street scene, that you should have expected, but one of a vastly infinite starry void. The cafe seemed to be suspended in space...

Dodo was recovering from her paralysis remarkable fast. The Doctor put his arm around Dodo, and led her from the console room. As they entered the corridor the Doctor said, "After all that excitement, I think we both could do with a nice rest and some refreshment. Don't you agree my child?" She replied, "I think you're absolutely right." They decided to head to the lounge...

In the corner of the quaint cafe, sat a man and women. She was a tall, slim blonde dressed in a blue satin dress. He was blonde, as well, and wore a grey suit and tie. They were the cafe's only customers, and they had been here for quite a time. For longer, in fact, that they could care to remember. The couple sat at opposite sides of one of the tables. They held hands across it. A faint blue glow enveloped them, and they stared intently into each other's eyes, or was it each other's minds. The man said, in her mind, "Can you take time back, to where we were before this trap was sprung?" Her mind spoke back to him, "No, I'm not able to here. I think there must be some kind of barrier." His mind replied, "So, we really are confined in this place for the foreseeable future." Her mind added, "I think we may be trapped here for eternity!" It seemed there was no escape for the couple. Unless, of course, they were helped from outside...

Time passes... The Doctor had enjoyed a refreshing rest in the lounge, he now felt relaxed. He had left the lounge and now stood in the console room, in front of his prisoner. "So my friend, it seems that you have a lot of explaining to do." He peered into the containment field's interior. The Intruder looked back at him. "I've already told you that I need your ship, old man." The Doctor replied, "I'm afraid that your explanation just isn't good enough. I need to know why." He paused, "And please address me as 'Doctor'. I personally find that being referred to as an old man, is most tiresome." The Intruder considered this, and said, "Very well Doctor. I'll tell you all the information you need to know... I have to rescue two valued colleagues of mine. I need your vessel because it has the ability to cross the barriers that imprison my friends. If I don't get them out they will be trapped forever..." The Doctor considered this, "I don't suppose it crossed your mind to ask for my help, young man... No, instead you try to waylay my ship, and carry on regardless of the consequences." At this moment, Dodo chipped into the conversation. She had just returned to the console room because she had heard voices. She said, "Will you two please stop bickering. I've heard most of the conversation. Doctor, are you going to help him or not?" The Doctor gave her a stern look, with which he could have melted icebergs, "If you'd please refrain from butting, in like some ill mannered horse, I was just about to make a decision, my child!" Dodo remained silent, and looked a little ashamed... Then the Doctor left the console room, followed by Dodo. He had decided to let the Intruder stew for a while...

Time passed... The spider scuttled across its owner's shoulder and then whispered into his ear. He considered what it said, and looked at the spider and said, "Yes, you could be right, maybe it would have been better to have just asked the Doctor for his help in the first place." The spider looked at him in an 'I told you so' sort of way. The Intruder considered the spider's look, and said, "It looks as if I'll just have to wait for the Doctor's answer."

The Doctor's footsteps echoed down the corridor towards the console room. They stopped outside. The doors to the console room opened and he stepped through them, and crossed to the console. He checked that the co-ordinates that had been earlier laid into the co-ordinate sub-system were still there. Luckily they still were. The Doctor gripped his lapels once more, and turned from the console. His attention was now focused on the containment field and it's unhappy resident, who floated aimlessly in it's interior. He stared deeply into the Intruders eyes and said, "Very well. I have considered what you have said to me, and I have decided to help you in your quest." The Intruder looked at him and smiled the broadest of smiles. The Doctor returned the console and deactivated the containment field, and as he did so the Intruder was released from its centre. Outside the compression zone of the field, he soon returned to normal size. He was now free. He looked at the Doctor and said solemnly, "Thank you." The Doctor replied, "I hope sir, that you do not give me any reason to regret my actions!" He paused, and then continued, "I will leave you the honour of starting our journey." The Intruder went to the console, and then engaged the main drive. The central column began its rhythmic rise and fall; it also pulsed with raw power. The Intruder turned from the console and said, "Well Doctor, at last we are on our way." The noise of dematerialisation filled the room...

Outside, the sound of the TARDIS leaving filled the now shadowy garden. As it faded away into the vortex, the only proof left of its presence was an area of grass, yellowed and compressed into a large square. There were also two old deck chairs. Still they might be of use to whoever stumbled across them...

The cafe still stood suspended in space. The couple still sat inside it. They had managed to generate a field of stasis around themselves. They had soon discovered that as well as the physical barrier; there was also a time and energy-draining field. If not kept in check, it would drain the life force from the couple. The creator of the cafe had decided that mere imprisonment was not enough; he had decided that the couple would be slowly destroyed. This was the price they had to pay for being so good in their particular area of expertise. There was, as on Earth, always a price to pay for success...

Darkness was all around. A hand fumbled for the light switch on a bedside lamp... Click... Then there was light! Dodo's hands rubbed her startled eyes. She was resting on the deluxe four-poster bed in her quarters. She closed her eyes again and thought. Her thoughts wandered to the Doctor's promise of a forthcoming visit to London. Maybe she would go home at last. After a moment another thought struck her, and she sat up in bed... The Doctor had always said the directional systems were faulty, but then how could the Intruder get to his destination? She got off the bed and decided to bring this little inconsistency to the notice of the Doctor. She left her room and shut the door. She turned the key in an ancient mortise lock, and then pocketed the key. She turned and walked off down the corridor. Before she had a little chat with the Doctor, she was going to pay a visit to the TARDIS library...

The stars twinkled brightly in the void, and shone on the little cafe. Adjacent to it the fabric of the space-time continuum shimmered for a second, then the familiar shape of a blue police box slowly melted into existence. It seemed that the outside help the occupants of the cafe had hoped for seemed to have arrived. As usual the cavalry always arrive in the nick of time! The TARDIS slipped into hover mode as near to the cafe as possible. It couldn't get any closer because of the protection shield around it...

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor and the Intruder looked at the view of the starfield and the cafe on the scanner screen. The Intruder commented to the Doctor, "It's a strange sight, isn't it?" The Doctor replied, "I can assume that any passing vessels cannot see this spectacle." The Intruder said, "Yes. We are, at the moment, in the centre of a reflection zone. Any sensor scans are just bounced back at the vessel." The Doctor adjusted the scanner focus control. The image became sharper, and the Doctor peered at it. He then said, "There doesn't seem to be a door." He then continued, "I think we are going to have a little problem getting into the cafe, my friend." The Intruder looked at the Doctor and nodded... "In that case, I think that I should inform Dodo of our current situation." The Doctor bid the Intruder farewell. He left the console room in search of Dodo...

The couple in the cafe stirred within their self-generated stasis field. They could sense another of their kind near to them. Their minds tried to reach the newcomer, but the shield around the cafe prevented them from achieving contact. At last the help they required had arrived. All they had to do was wait...

The TARDIS library was housed in a vast cathedral like vault, or so it would appear to the casual observer. Dodo wandered up and down its dusty aisles. It appeared that no one had been here for quite a while...

Her footprints trailed behind her on the dusty floor and the sound of each footfall echoed around the walls. Dodo was searching for any information on flight systems; she even hoped to find the TARDIS flight manual, if such a thing existed. She stopped and sighed, then said to herself, "It would be a lot easier to find some kind of index." As she said it, an old desk appeared in front of her. In front of the desk was a cracked leather chair, and on the desk was an old ledger. On the ledger's dusty cover were the words: LIBRARY INDEX. Dodo sat in the chair and opened the ledger. As she did so, the whole fabric of the library changed. It was no longer an ancient dusty vault filled with ancient books, it had now become an ultra modern computer complex. The chair she was on was also changed into a modern swivel chair, and there was no longer a dusty ledger on an ancient desk. They had been transformed into a stainless steel desk and a top of the range computer. It would seem that the library's previous incarnation was not functional; it was just for the Doctor to impress his companions with. It was to confuse them more like, thought Dodo. From her seat she rubbed her eyes, and then pinched herself to prove she wasn't still asleep in her room. "OUCH." Apparently she wasn't asleep. Now convinced of that fact, Dodo looked at the computer keyboard in front of her. She found the index key and pressed it, and then she selected the key for what she was looking for. The computer displayed the information, and it also spoke it too. It said, "FLIGHT SYSTEMS: INFORMATION SECURITY CODED." Dodo looked puzzled and asked, "Who security coded it?" The computer was silent for a while. Then it replied, "THAT INFORMATION IS ALSO SECURITY CODED... I WILL REQUIRE CORRECT CODE FOR ACCESS..." On hearing this Dodo reached over and hit the computers off switch. Just after she did that, the ancient surroundings that had greeted her on arriving returned to view. Then she got up from her chair and left the library. She decided to head back to her room...

Crackle... A spark ran through the structure of the cafe... Its very fabric shuddered as a spark of power coursed through it. The spark ran through to the cafe's rudimentary nervous system. Apparently it had just noticed the arrival of the TARDIS, and for a moment it's cafe like appearance melted away to be replaced by a large glutinous living mass. As it pulsed, dark brown veins could be seen through it's transparent pinky mass. The pulsing stopped for a moment, and then the pinky mass reformed itself into the shape of the quaint little cafe once more. This time it would be ready for any attempt to reach it's occupants...

A warning light flashed on the TARDIS console. It winked away to itself for a while. Then the Doctor noticed it, and went over to examine it. "Ah! It would seem that our friend has finally noticed our presence." The Intruder looked towards him and questioned, "What makes you think so Doctor?" The Doctor peered at him and replied,"That light always illuminates when the TARDIS has been scanned by a detection beam... I do wish you wouldn't question me so." He paused and then continued, "It also means that our defence force-field has engaged." The Doctor then cocked his head to hear the sound of the defence field in operation. To his irritation, he could hear nothing but the normal hum of the TARDIS. The Intruder looked at him strangely. "What's the matter?" He asked. The Doctor did not reply. He just clenched his hand into a fist; the Intruder thought the Doctor was going to hit him... The Doctor then raised his arm aloft and brought his fist down sharply on the console, near the winking light... There was then a click; suddenly the familiar hum of the TARDIS was joined by the sound of the active force field generator. The Doctor looked back to the Intruder and said, "The ships old systems sometime need a little bit of coaxing." He paused, "Not unlike myself, my boy!" The Intruder looked puzzled and asked, "Where did you learn such a primitive trick?" The Doctor smiled fondly. "An old earth technician taught it to me... The strange thing is that it always seems to work on any equipment, any where in the galaxy!" The Intruder considered the Doctor's words, and a worried look crossed his face. "I'm glad to see that I am in such capable hands, Doctor..." Then a rather stern look flashed across the console room from the Doctor...

Dodo was once again back in her room. She was still wondering about the Doctor's apparent inability to pilot the TARDIS. She had an idea that quietly scratched at the back of her mind...

Time passes... The Doctor turned to the Intruder, "I think it is time to make our move." Then from the console room door came a voice, "Are you absolutely sure, Doctor?" He peered at Dodo, who was standing in the doorway, "Of course I am sure, my child... Please do not worry yourself unduly." Dodo went over to the Doctor. "Doctor. There's something that's been bothering me. It's about the way you have trouble in piloting the TARDIS... It seems strange that the Intruder has had no problem in flying it here." The Doctor looked at her and frowned, "That, my dear is complete nonsense..." She started to object, but the Doctor raised his hands to silence her. He then said, "At this moment I cannot discuss this foolish idea, but I will after this escapade is over. Let that be an end to the matter for the moment!" Dodo nodded in agreement, "Okay Doctor, I'll look forward to it." There was a pregnant silence between the Doctor and Dodo, the Intruder decided to intercede at this juncture and he said, "I'm ready when you are." The Doctor replied tetchily, "Very well, my boy." The touchy old Timelord returned his attention to the console. He began to program the co-ordinate subsystem. After a moment he completed his task, and reached for the main drive switch an flicked it on... In the centre of the console the column began its rhythmic rise and fall. They were finally on their way...

The cafe shuddered again in the inky, starry void. It had detected the movement of the TARDIS, and in a split second it increased its protective shield. Now nothing would be able to penetrate it. Nothing except the light of the stars...

The console room shook with the vibration, and sound of the over strained Demat-motors... "What's happening Doctor?" Dodo screamed over the noise. "Obviously Dodo, it would seem that the ship cannot penetrate that edifice!" He pointed angrily towards the image of the cafe on the scanner. They all were suddenly flung across the console room... "We must carry on!" The Intruder pleaded. The Doctor responded thus, "If I push the ship anymore the motors could burn out completely! Then we would really be in a fine pickle indeed. I am not willing to be the cause of our being stranded, or worse still destroyed!" With that said, he rose from the floor, where he had been flung, reached over and switched of the drive. The screaming motors lost their voice, and the normal sound of the console room returned. All TARDIS systems settled down to normal.

The Doctor addressed his companions, who were picking themselves up from the floor. "I think that we need to put our heads together, and come up with a new strategy!" The Intruder and Dodo both, still woozy, nodded in agreement...

Still blissfully unaware of what was happening outside, the couple in the cafe sat happily smiling at each other. Still enveloped by a self-generated stasis field, they stared deep into each other's eyes...

The Doctor stood in deep thought his silver locks ruffled in a serious way. To his rear were still Dodo and the Intruder. He looked once again at the cafe on the scanner, looking for the elusive way in. He zoomed in on the cafe's only window, and looked at it's interior.

Inside he could see a couple sitting at a table, as if deciding what to have to eat. The whole scene seemed tranquil. As he watched, he heard a voice behind him. It said, "Have you managed to find a way in yet, Doctor?" The Doctor replied, without turning, "I have not, young man... It would seem that, even with your faith in the TARDIS, that we cannot reach you friends." As Dodo heard this exchange, a thought occurred to her. "Doctor... If nothing can penetrate the cafe, how come we can see through the window into it's interior?" On hearing this, the Doctor spun around to face her. He exclaimed, "Out of the mouths of babes, my child! Eh... Out of the mouths of babes!" The Intruder also turned to face Dodo, and smiled. "Of course! If we can see it, then light must be able to get in!" He exclaimed. Dodo regarded them both with a look of puzzlement, and said to them both, "So, excuse me for being thick, what use is that to us? We can't become a beam of light and shine into the cafe... Can we?" On hearing this, the Intruder's face dropped. He looked as if he had just dropped and got fluff all over an ice cream, that he had just bought with his last money... The Doctor was strangely enough still smiling. The news didn't seem to worry him in the least. He announced, "Odd as it may seem, my dear. We can, or could, do just what you suggest... If a certain component of my ship was functioning properly." Dodo and the Intruder glanced at each other, and then at the Doctor, in amazement...

Words echoed through the couple's minds, like drafts in the rafters of an old cobwebbed barn, from one to the other. The female's mind spoke, "Someone has tried to gain entry, but they have failed." The male's mind considered what she telepathed, and replied, "I'm sure they will try again... Do you know who it is?" The female answered, "All I can sense is that it contains three beings... One is a human; one is a specialist of ours, and the third... I don't know... Wait! All I know is that he is ancient, and steeped deeply in time!" There was a pause, and then the male's mind asked, "Do we know the specialist?" There was another pause, but she didn't answer. She looked at him and smiled...

Time passes again... The unceasing cogs of the universe turn... In a black void two beings sit by a table, at opposite sides to each other. On the table was a chessboard. The game doesn't seem to be going well for the black pieces; in fact it seemed that the game was all but lost. The owner of the white pieces smiled at his opponent. The owner of the black pieces looked at him and said, "I'm not beaten yet." His ominous laugh echoed around the void...

Pieces of the TARDIS chameleon system were strewn about the console room, and the Doctor's legs could be seen protruding from under the central plinth of the console. Dodo surveyed this scene of carnage. She whispered to the Intruder, "I hope he knows how to put it back together again." They both smiled, but luckily the Doctor did not hear her comment. Suddenly, the Doctor shot up from under the console. He was clutching a circuit board in his hand. He suddenly announced to all and sundry, "NO! NO! NO!" There was silence for a moment. Then he continued, "This will just not do! I cannot repair the chameleon system. We still have the same problem as before." The Intruder asked, "Can I have a look at the board, please?" The Doctor considered his request, and passed the board to the Intruder. He studied it for a moment. The Intruder passed his hand over the board. He thought for a moment and said; "I think I can repair this board for you. But I will need some help." As he said this, a small silver spider scuttled from the Intruder's grey suit pocket. The spider yawned and looked at it's master and smiled. The Intruder stared at the spider for a moment, then the spider smiled again. Without a moment's hesitation, the spider climbed onto the circuit board in the Intruder's hand. As soon as it was in place, the Intruder closed his hands together around the spider and the faulty board. There was a great bright spark from his hands, and a moment later he tossed the newly repaired board back to the Doctor. "I think you will find that the board is now repaired... There's one problem though. I don't know how long the repair will last." The Doctor ignored what the Intruder said, and he eagerly plugged the board back into the console plinth. Almost immediately one portion of the console's six panels retracted, and with a shower of dust a keyboard slowly rose from the gap. The Doctor watched with anticipation. He looked like a child that had got something he had always wanted. As it fully extended itself, the Doctor went to the keyboard and began to type happily...

Meanwhile outside, the outer shell of the TARDIS shimmered unpredictably. The usual police box changed into, in quick succession, a Greek pillar, a Sedan chair, a comfy settee and then into a beam of light. It would seem that the Doctor was a little rusty in block transfer codes...

Back within the TARDIS, the Doctor and Dodo watched the Intruder intently. The Doctor suddenly asked, "Shall we go?" Both the Intruder and Dodo nodded in unison. The Doctor replied to their nods, "Very well... Once more unto the breach!" He reached for the main drive switch and turned it on. Once more a familiar wheezing sound filled the console room, and they were on their way... This time the TARDIS met with no resistance. They passed through the fabric of the cafe as easily as an elephant would pass through the eye of a needle... An elephant sized needle...

The cafe shuddered with the arrival of a beam of light. It tried to absorb it into its digestive tract, as it did with all light. After a moment, the cafe shook. This was it's equivalent of a hearty burp! It seemed to have a bit of indigestion. The same kind you get when visiting a Burger King on a Friday night! The indigestion problem was unusual for the cafe; it normally had no trouble extracting nourishment from light that penetrated it. As it recovered, it noticed that the blue box had gone. The simple nervous system of the cafe wondered if the two occurrences were linked.

If they were, it would have to find a way to deal with it. To this end, as it was always hungry, the cafe decided to increase its nutrition cycle...

Within the beam of light TARDIS, the Doctor looked at the power level meters on the console. He frowned. They informed him that there was a steady drain on the usually endless power of the TARDIS. He just could not account for it. "Come over here and look at this, my dear fellow." The Doctor announced. The Intruder crossed to him and looked at the offending meters, and said, "I think the cafe is trying to leech power from us. It would appear that our presence has made our host a bit hungry." The Doctor's frown deepened. The Intruder continued to speak, "We'll have to be very careful in rescuing my friends." The Doctor's mood did not improve and he replied, "Must you state the obvious, sir?" With this, the Doctor decided to check the outside environment and after checking all the instruments said, "The air seems to be breathable and there is no trace of radiation... I think now would be a good time to leave the TARDIS." The Intruder and Dodo both agreed, and the Doctor operated the door control. As the double doors crept slowly open, the console room lights dimmed as well. This was due to reduced power levels. The Doctor tutted as the trio left the TARDIS and entered the cafe. As they left, the lights in the console room died... In the corner of the room, above the fault locator, the display screen flashed and spoke a message, "TOTAL POWER FAILURE: IMMINENT... BACK UP POWER: SYSTEM FAULT... TIME TRAVEL FACILITIES: WITHDRAWN... SPACE DRIVE SYSTEMS: INVIABLE..." With a final click, the TARDIS shut down. It would seem that the cafe had just destroyed the only way of escape...

The interior of the cafe pulsed as it detected the footsteps of the Doctor's party. It thought about this invasion of it's interior and decided to re-naturalise back to its proper form; it did this very quickly... Gone was the form of the quaint little cafe, and a sickly gold, red and yellow hue of organic tissues seemed to melt from the wall of the cafe. This was it's true interior...

The Doctor, Dodo, and the Intruder felt a change... They found themselves not in the cafe, but in the interior of a living being. The Doctor looked around and commented, "This reminds me of the story of... Have... What was his name? Ah, I remember... Jonah, yes. Jonah and the whale!" Dodo replied, "Lets hope we survive this like Jonah did." The Intruder appeared puzzled by this exchange. He asked them both, "What are you talking about?" Dodo replied, "It's not important really. It's just a bible story about a sailor that was eaten by a whale." The Intruder shrugged his shoulders and said, "Okay. Thanks... It would seem that in this reality I do have a lot to learn." The Doctor's party paused for a moment as they took in their new surroundings... The only things that had remained recognisable were the Intruders friends. They seemed to be sitting on two fleshy nodules that had grown from the floor of the creature... They only other thing that was unchanged was the TARDIS. It was almost the same, but it had reverted to its police box shape. Strangely enough this had now, because of where it failed and the length of time it had been stuck, become the chameleon circuits default setting. There seemed to be no getting away from its blue painted looks... The Doctor noticed the familiar looks of the TARDIS and looked toward the Intruder... He said, "I thought you had managed to repair it properly." The Intruder relied, "Well nobody's perfect!"

Suddenly there was a ripple in the fabric of the floor... The Doctor announced to all and sundry, "Well... It would seem that we are inside something's stomach." He paused, and then said with a sly grin, "Let's hope we do not give it a belly ache. Eh?" The Intruder and Dodo stared at each other, and then at the Doctor in disgust. He simply smiled at them...

Back within the TARDIS, in the very heart of the console, the silver spider detached itself from the faulty chameleon system board. It had sensed something was wrong. It stood still for a moment... It seemed to have a headache and felt a distinct lack of energy... A few had seconds passed since detachment, and the spider was regaining it's former strength. It waited for a few more moments, and then formulated a plan of action... It would interface with the TARDIS master computer and find what the problem was. To this end, the spider decided to convert its structure into a form that could easily navigate the endless trails of TARDIS circuitry... There was a flash inside the console... Then, in a second the spider entered the veins of the TARDIS... It only took nanoseconds to reach the master computer it sought, and a few more to establish a link. The spider found almost no power. In fact the computer was about to totally shut down. The spider took stock of the situation, and it decided to use some of its own energy to instigate a back up program to protect the computer against the cafe's energy absorbing field. At least there would be some power left to affect an escape. After doing this, the spider disengaged from the computer and resumed its usual spidery countenance. It also regained its familiar size. It scuttled from the innards of the console, and then made it's way to the top of the central column. It sat in the middle and waited for the return of its master...

The two strange beings were still playing chess in the void. Only this time the tables had turned. "It is almost over... I said I wasn't beaten." The owner of the black pieces announced smugly. The owner of the white pieces replied, "There are still a few avenues open to me." He smiled politely at his opponent. Only time would tell, as it always did...

The Intruder crossed to his friends; they didn't seem to notice him. He ran his hands near to them, and the thin blue glow that enveloped them. The Doctor addressed him, "Are you sure that your colleagues are all right in there? They seem to still to me, my boy." Dodo also looked on at them, and said, "They seem calm to me. Just like they were safe and warm." The Intruder answered the queries; "They are perfectly safe for the moment. The blue glow is self generated." He suddenly stepped back form the couple. "I think I just felt the walls start to contract." He said alarmingly. With this, the Doctor decided to scrutinise their surroundings once more. After a moment he said, "I really think that we should move with more haste. I would be most relieved if you could hurry up, sir!" On hearing this, the Intruder suddenly clasped both hands together and a familiar glow returned to them. He reached toward the enveloped couple, and touched the haze that covered them... After a second the blue aura that surrounded them disappeared, it simple melted away. Then, moments later, the couple arose groggily... The Doctor and Dodo looked on anxiously...

The creature that used to be a cafe and that the Doctor's party now wandered around in, was most irritated. It decided to absorb the creatures that tickled it's stomach lining. To this end its gastric juices began to move towards its belly. From what it could gather about the creatures, the organism was in for a rather good meal.

That thought made its stomach wall contract with eagerness. All the time it had been the cafe, the creature had been content to get its nourishment from absorbing light and energy from nearby stellar masses. Now it was going to feed on a five-course meal. After all, a long time had passed since the last time it had tasted flesh...

Tap... Tap... Tap... The silver spider tapped one of its eight legs on the top of the central column in a show of impatience. How long was his master going to be? Would he be unharmed? Thinking about those questions was making the spider even more impatient... Suddenly it spun around to look at the open doors of the TARDIS, and cocked its head to one side. The spider waited eagerly for any sound...

The couple's eyes popped open, they were finally fully aware. They stared at each other for a moment, and then at the Intruder who smiled at them. After a short while, the couple saw the Doctor and Dodo... The Intruder asked the couple, "Are you feeling better?" The blonde female replied, "All the better for seeing you." The Intruder glanced towards the female's companion and said, "I am happy to see you too." The blonde male said coldly to the Intruder, "You took your time. Didn't you." The Intruder looked most hurt. He responded to the male, "Well... What a nice attitude. I could have left you trapped forever." As this exchange between the Intruder and the blonde male seemed to be over, leaving a pregnant pause, the Doctor decided to make his presence felt. He gripped his lapels and spoke with a voice of command, "If both of you have finished, I think that now would be a good moment to effect a departure from here. Don't you all agree?" The couple took note of this. They both found themselves wondering who the old man was...

Gastric juices flowed towards their final destination. It wouldn't be long before the reached the bile ducts in the walls of the creature's stomach. Once the acid arrived it would start to seep in where the food still irritated. The creature thought the stomach upset would be worth it, just for the meal...

The Doctor frowned and walked up to the stomach wall. He peered intently at something that had caught his eye. He noticed that a large bulge was appearing from the tissue of the wall. He called the Intruder over to get his opinion. As they looked, a liquid started to leak from the bump. The Intruder touched it, and with a cry of pain quickly withdrew his hand. The Doctor noticed and asked, "Are you hurt, my boy?" The Intruder replied, "I've had worse... Doctor, that liquid seems to be highly corrosive." With this the Intruder showed the Doctor his hand... All the flesh had been stripped from the fingers, and red shreds hung from the bone... The Doctor looked as if he was going to be ill. The Intruder then smiled and said, "Don't worry it is not as bad as it would seem." He then held his damaged hand in the grip of his other. As he gripped, a deep golden glow flooded from his hands... In a second, he held his damaged hand once again towards the Doctor... To the Doctor's relief and amazement, the Intruder's hand was completely regenerated. The blonde female crossed to the pair of them. She put her hand tenderly on the Doctor's shoulder. She said, "Don't worry about him, he really likes to show off!" The Doctor frowned at the Intruder, who smiled back at him... The Doctor decided to put what had just happened down to a strange sense of humour. He considered the bumps, which had now appeared all over the stomach wall, and came up with an analysis.

The Doctor said, "I have just realised that the bumps must be bile ducts. Therefore, the liquid must be some sort of digestive fluid." The Doctor paused to take in the looks of his companions... There was a look of fear on their faces. He took that in and then continued, "Unless we all want to be items on a menu, I suggest we all make our way to the TARDIS." There didn't seem to be any objections... As they reached the TARDIS and entered it, all the bumps on the walls started to split. The corrosive fluids started to slowly ooze down the walls, and start to fill the floor area. Luckily the Doctor's party were safe inside the ship. Unluckily, unknown to the Doctor, there wasn't enough power to close the doors...

The creature started to feel it's fluid starting to flow into its stomach. It wouldn't be long before it tasted and enjoyed the taste of organic matter again...

Five people burst into the console room, and darted into complete darkness... The Doctor announced to everyone, "This just will not do at all." He went immediately to the console to close the doors. Click... The Doctor tried the switch again. Click... The doors stayed defiantly open. The seemingly endless power of the TARDIS had stopped. As he stared out of the doors, the Doctor could see the corrosive juices. They began to reach the step at the foot of the TARDIS. It would soon be seeping into the console room... From its position on the central column, the silver spider could also see the sight that had been seen by the Doctor. It selflessly decided to do something about the situation. The spider scuttled down the side of the console and began to make its way towards the open doors... The Doctor considered the problem and looked worried. He shouted to Dodo, "Go to the tool room and get me the manual crank handle. Hurry my child, or we will all die!" The Intruder and the couple were also worried, but decided to let the Doctor handle it. The Doctor cast his eyes back to the open doors again. He noticed that the juices were now being sprayed out at a faster rate... As he looked back into the console room, he noticed a very fine silver thread had appeared across the open doors. He peered closer and now he could see a small silver spider weaving a web. As it completed the web, the spider jumped from its beautiful creation and crossed to the Intruder. The Intruder knelt down and let the spider climb on his hand. He then placed it on his shoulder and said, "Well done my little friend." He then went to the web, which now extended from the floor to half way up the doors, and touched it with an outstretched finger... There was an intense flash... Suddenly the web was gone, and in its place was a sturdy sheet of silver material. The Intruder said, "There. That should hold for a while." Just as the sheet fully solidified, the juices rose to a level just below the top of the sheet. Slowly the fluid began to inch towards the top... Dodo raced to the tool room, and pushed open the door violently. The tool room itself always reminded her of a vast DIY shop. Rows of different tools and equipment. Suddenly a thought occurred to her. How on earth was she going to find a crank handle in all this space? It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack... There was then a strange noise, and as if by magic the shopkeeper appeared. It would appear that the TARDIS had read her mind. Before her now stood a strange sight... He was an old man with a moustache. He had a pair of round grandpa glasses perched on the end of his nose. The old man was wearing faded blue dungarees; check shirt, flat cap and hobnailed boots. He also wore a name badge, which read 'MR. QUICK'. Dodo asked him where she could find a crank handle.

He replied, "If you go to aisle 99, I think you will find what you are looking for." He paused and then asked, "Or would you like me to get it for you?" Dodo considered this for a moment. She decided against it because the old man looked very frail. Dodo replied to him, "It's okay grandpa. I'll get it myself." She smiled at him and said thanks, and then made a quick dash to aisle 99. In a moment, she had found the object of her search. Dodo screamed, "YES!" She grabbed the crank handle and made a run for the door. As she passed the old man, she shouted, "Thanks!" He smiled at her and doffed his flat cap. Dodo rocketed through the door, and then down the corridor to the console room... Meanwhile, back in the tool room. The old man said, to nobody, "Youngsters today." After a second, he faded away into oblivion once more...

Corrosive gastric juices threatened to engulf the console room... CLANK... Dodo dropped the vital crank handle on the floor as she skidded to a halt. She narrowly escaped butting the console. The Doctor immediately started fumbling for it in the darkness. As he did so, a soft blue light softened the gloom. It seemed to be emanating from the palm of the blonde female. "I thought you might need a night light." She said smiling. The Doctor replied to this blonde beauty, "Thank you my dear. Your help is most illuminating." He chuckled at his little joke. Suddenly his hand grasped the crank handle. He picked it up, and crossed to an area of roundelled wall near the doors. He quickly placed the handle into a small recess. The Doctor began to try to turn it, but his efforts proved to be of no avail. He turned to his companions for help. He chose the blonde male and asked, "Would you mind having a go at turning this confounded handle... It would seem that I am too weak to do it." The Doctor glanced at the level of the juices, and barked an order at the blonde male in a tone of voice that would make an army sergeant weep, "HURRY UP MAN!" On hearing this the blonde male crossed to the handle, and in one sharp circular movement began to turn the handle very fast. To everyone's relief the main doors slowly creaked shut... The Doctor slapped the blonde man on the back and said, "Well done, sir. You really have the strength of steel." The man just looked at the old Timelord and smiled...

The creature was most upset. It had just registered that it had been denied a meal. Still not to worry, it thought. All it had to do was to increase the acidity of its juices to penetrate the strange blue box that hid the tasty morsels of flesh. The creature would just have to wait for a little longer, and it was very good at waiting...

 

The gastric fluids that now engulfed the TARDIS seemed to change. They were slowly becoming more destructive, and were beginning to eat away at the outer plasmic shell of the ship. Normally this wouldn't happen. But due to the lack of energy, the TARDIS defence fields were not functioning. Without these, the safety of the Doctor's party would soon be violated and they would be destroyed. Their fates seemed to be in the lap of the gods...

"It's your move." The owner of the black pieces announced to his opponent, who promptly frowned at him. The owner of the white pieces replied, "My friend... If you wish to play the game, you will have to have a little more patience." He then paused for a moment and said, "Rome was not built in a day."

His opponent considered that and said, "That may be so... But I do believe it was destroyed in less." The owner of the black pieces continued, "Your elementals are never a match for my transient beings... Just accept your forthcoming defeat..." His opponent simply smiled and went back to contemplating his next move in the game...

From the gap between the console room main doors, liquid began to drip on the floor. On contact, it began to melt the fabric of the floor. An acrid smell wafted to the noses of the occupants. "What are you going to do?" Dodo pleaded. All eyes in the room alighted on the Doctor... "Well... Without any power, there is very little we can do." He stood with his hands on his lapels once more. He had a look of seriousness on his face. He went to the console and checked the power readings... All the meters were at zero. The Doctor turned back to his companions. "We seem to be stuck here. Trapped like pickled onions in a jar." The Intruder had listened intently to the Doctor. He then said, "If it's only a case of power, I think my colleagues and I can supply it... " The Doctor seemed hopeful, but then a frown crossed his face. "The TARDIS needs a specific type of energy... Its called Artron energy." The Intruder replied, "I'm sure I can synthesis the required energy... After all I am a specialist!"

Back in the void, the chess players were still locked in the mental combat of the game. The game was now proceeding better of the white pieces. The owner of the black pieces was worried; it seemed as if the tables had been turned...

The Intruder and his two friends linked hands together around the console. Power flowed through them, and a shining glow surrounded them. The eerie light fully lit the console room, and all was deathly quiet. He suddenly rested his glowing head against the telepathic circuit receptors on the console... The silver spider watched the proceedings from its usual place atop the central column. Dodo's voice broke the silence. "I hope this is going to work. The acid is starting to flow faster and faster." The Doctor replied, "So do I my child... So do I..." They both looked towards the human triangle that was formed around the console... The Intruder suddenly spoke, "If you set the co-ordinates, we are ready to supply the power." He paused... "Are you ready?" He asked. The Doctor nodded his agreement. The Intruder and his friends tightened their grips on each other's hands... Them glow that enveloped them passed from the Intruder's head into the receptors and then into the TARDIS circuitry... In seconds it had reached the power core, which began to pulse with new life... "Now Doctor!" The Intruder screamed. The Doctor rushed to the drive switch and flicked it on... There was a bright burst of light, and then everything went black... Except for the rising glow from the central column as it happily rose and fall. Five figures were shaking each other's hands silhouetted in the column's glow...

"I do think you'll find that you are in check mate." The owner of the white pieces announced to his opponent. "You lose again, I'm afraid." The owner of the black pieces looked at him in disgust. He suddenly got up and swept all the pieces from the board in a fit of pique... "Care for another game?" His opponent asked... In one fluid movement, the owner of the black pieces sat back down. With a click of his fingers, all the pieces were back in place on the board.

When all was back as it had been the owner of the black pieces said, "Same game, different pawns?" His opponent nodded his agreement. He said, "As always my friend." They both smiled at one another...

 

The creature that used to be the cafe convulsed with pain. Ripples of complete agony coursed through its very being. As it's prospective lunch departed, the creature was turned inside out and sucked into the rift created by the TARDIS. The creature's component molecules were scattered all over the space-time continuum. It simply ceased to be. It had expired. It was a dead cafe. Still, that's what you get when you have eaten something that disagrees with you...

The lights in the console room were now at their normal level. After leaving the cafe and its energy-damping field, the usually limitless energy of the TARDIS had quickly returned. The TARDIS now hung, quietly spinning, in the vortex. The Doctor had his arm around Dodo. He addressed the Intruder, "Well done my boy." He pauses. "Not to forget your colleagues." The blonde man and woman smiled at the Doctor. They both said, "Well one good deed deserves another." The Doctor left Dodo and crossed to the console once more. He said to the Intruder and his friends, "Now that we are out of trouble. Where can I take you?" The blonde woman spoke, "This is as good a place as any." The Doctor looked puzzled. "Please make some sense, my dear." She just smiled at him and said, "This is our home." She paused for a moment, reconsidering what she had said. "No. I'll rephrase that... This is our workplace." The Doctor looked even more puzzled... She smiled again. "I think I've said a little too much. All that remains is to say thank you." The Intruder suddenly clicked his fingers. The Doctor and Dodo watch in amazement as the main doors opened of their own accord. The blonde man and woman walk towards them, and then disappear through them. As they vanished into the vortex, the Doctor heard the blonde female call out, "Are you coming?" The Intruder called back; "I'm coming... Tell him that as well..." The blonde man's voice replies, "I'm not deaf..." The Intruder smiled and crossed the console room to join his friends in the vortex. Just before he crossed the threshold of the doors, he stopped and turned to look at the console. He had the look of someone who had forgotten something. Suddenly he put two fingers to his lips... A sharp whistle echoed around the console room... Almost immediately, there was a flash of movement from on top of the central column... The silver spider jumped from the column and scuttled towards its master. It ran up the Intruder's trousers and across his jacket, and took pride of place on his right shoulder. The Intruder waved the Doctor and Dodo a fond farewell. He then walked through the doors and joined his friends in the vortex...

Moonbeams permeated the stillness of the garden. They reached two abandoned deck chairs... All was quiet... All was still... The sudden arrival of the TARDIS shattered the silence... As it became solid, the door suddenly opened. A head furtively glanced about, and then the Doctor hurried out... He crossed to the deck chairs, and folded them up. With one deck chair under each arm, he entered the TARDIS. A few moments later, it melted from view once more...

"Have you chosen you're new pawns yet? " Asked the owner of the black pieces. "You really are too old to be the White Guardian."

He continued. The White Guardian looked at the owner of the black pieces and said, "You on the other hand, are totally suitable to be the Black Guardian." The Black Guardian looked at his opposite and quietly muttered, "You know the time of chaos is near again." He finished his sentence with a sinister laugh. It echoed through the void. The White Guardian stared at him and replied, "Near. But not yet." The Black Guardian laughed again, and promptly vanished. He was gone for the moment, but just like a bad penny he would always turn up again. The White Guardian still sat at the chessboard. He was looking at an image of the Doctor that had formed above the board. He said to himself, "Well. It would seem that I have found my champion." It seemed as if the Doctor would be hearing from the White Guardian at sometime in the future. The White Guardian asked himself, "Which shall it be? Champion or pawn?" He then also vanished, and so did the void...

A nagging doubt still nibbled at Dodo's mind. This time she wasn't going to let the Doctor fob her off... It was now a few hours after their last escapade, but still the doubt was there. She wandered the endless corridors of the TARDIS in search of the Doctor. Behind her back she carried a concealed object... Evidence of her doubts... Now finally she had trapped the wily old fox in its lair...

The Doctor sat quietly on the lab sofa enjoying a cup of tea. The door of the lab suddenly opened and Dodo entered. She had the look of confrontation on her face. The Doctor smiled at her... She sat down beside him. She concealed something beside the sofa. The Doctor tried to look but could see nothing. "Cup of tea, my dear?" He noticed a slight look of anger cloud her face. "No thanks Doctor. I'd just like some straight answers." She said angrily. The Doctor tried to calm her. "Answers to what? Eh?" Dodo started to calm slightly and replied, "Doctor. Have you always been able to control the steering of the TARDIS?" The Doctor looked guilty and said, "Of course not." This reply seemed to make Dodo angrier, "I want the truth!" She shouted. The Doctor thought he still could control the situation. He calmly replied, "I can honestly say that I have no idea how to steer this craft." This seemed to annoy Dodo even more. The Doctor smiled to reassure her... Now Dodo moved in for the kill... She said, "If what you've told me is true, then what's the hells this!" She reached to the side of the sofa and picks up the TARDIS flight manual... She dropped it smack on the Doctor's lap... Dodo had caught him out completely. The Doctor looked at the manual; a look of shame crossed his wrinkled face. He said, "Oh dear. It would seem that you have tumbled my little game. So this would seem as good a time as any to come clean." Dodo replied, "Go on Doctor, I'm all ears." The Doctor stood up and started to pace to and fro across the lab. He stopped suddenly and said, "My dear... Do you realise how boring life would be if you always knew were you were going?" Dodo replied, "That's not the point... The point is that you've lied to me." The Doctor looked at Dodo and said, "That's not important... The thing is now I must resolve this little problem." Dodo looks on in disgust; "You're nothing but a selfish old man." The Doctor replied, "I won't give up the only excitement in life... The excitement of the future." Dodo started to back away from the Doctor... As she did so she said, "There's no way I'm going to forget this. I'm never going to let this drop!" The Doctor considered what she said... He replied, "Oh but you will..." Suddenly he crossed over to Dodo. He placed his ornamental ring against her forehead...

He spoke softly to her, "You will forget all about this. You will forget..." Dodo slowly lost consciousness, and the Doctor moved her back to the sofa. She was sleeping peacefully... His secret was now safe once more. With a swift movement, he grabbed the flight manual from the sofa. This time he would hide it in a better place...

The street seemed empty. Empty except for the odd Londoner rushing by. All was quiet. The sound of the TARDIS landing broke the calm. Nobody seemed to notice that a new police box had appeared from thin air. The box was nothing unusual in London in the swinging sixties. The most unusual thing in the vicinity wasn't the TARDIS, but the newly opened Post Office tower that dwarfed the skyline... After a few minutes the Doctor and a newly amnesiac Dodo came out of the doors. Dodo looked around her familiar surroundings... She was home... The Doctor hung an 'OUT OF ORDER' sign on the TARDIS doors. He went to Dodo and put his arm around her. They talked for a moment, and walked off down the street. They would soon be involved in another adventure...

 

Next Weeks Episode...

The War Machines