Dodo backed away as the stranger advanced on her, a pistol in his hand.
"Please," she said, but her throat was so dry she couldn't say any more. It didn't matter, anyway. The man wasn't paying the slightest attention. Apart from the fact that his gun was aimed straight at her heart, he didn't seem to realise she existed.
Calmly, professionally, the man squeezed the trigger. Dodo closed her eyes.
After a few seconds, she realised he hadn't fired. She opened her eyes, in time to see the man pull the trigger again. The gun still didn't fire.
"Now, there's a thing," an unfamiliar voice said. "I'd say it'd be pretty obvious to an unprejudiced observer that there was a force field covering the area causing copper-shelled bullets to expand slightly in the barrel and jam your gun. You'd think the military would've paid more attention to that little trick of WOTAN's, wouldn't you?"
Dodo managed to tear her eyes from the man with the gun. Standing in the doorway of the bedsit was another man, skinny, brown-haired, wearing a blue suit and running shoes. In one hand, he was holding a silver rod with a blue end.
"Sorry I didn't knock," he added casually. "The door was open."
Throughout this monologue, the first man, the one with the gun, had been repeatedly and uselessly trying to fire at Dodo. Finally, he seemed to realise that there was something wrong with his weapon, threw it down, and pulled out a flick-knife.
"Oh, no you don't!" the man at the door said. He pointed the gadget he was holding at the knife, which disintegrated in a shower of screws and springs, its blade falling to the floor. "Dodo. Over here. Now!"
Dodo took a hesitant step or so in the direction of the door, but her would-be killer wasn't giving up. He snatched up a chair, and swung it at her. She threw herself to one side, hearing a variety of crashes and splintering noises as the man's blow swept her meagre collection of photographs and mementoes to the ground, shattering them.
Before she could get up, the man was bending over her, his chair raised. Then he stiffened and fell to the ground. The second man stepped over the body, the silver rod in one hand and an empty syringe in the other.
"Up you get," he said, flinging the syringe to one side.
Half-a-dozen questions contended in Dodo's head. Before she could ask any of them, she was being pulled to her feet. Her rescuer sniffed, and his eyes widened.
"Gas!" he snapped. "Dodo, we've got to get out of here! Now!"
"How do you know my–" Dodo broke off as she was dragged out of the bedsit and down the stairs. She substituted a question with wider terms of reference. "What's going on?"
"History wants you dead!" the man replied, steadying Dodo as the tatty stair carpet came loose under her feet. "It doesn't care how. Shot, stabbed, blown up, broken neck. And I'm here to stop that happening!"
"History?" Dodo dodged to one side as a flowerpot fell from above, shattering on the staircase in a shower of earth and clay shards. "What do you mean?"
The man with her didn't answer, but he didn't need to. At the bottom of the stairs, he'd made for the back door, which normally gave onto a noisome yard containing half-a-dozen dustbins. The door was standing open, and through the gap could be seen something Dodo recognised: the corner of a London Police Box.
"TARDIS," she said, dreamily.
"Yes. TARDIS. Travels in time and space, bigger on the inside than out. Come on! Do you want to die or something?"
Before Dodo could answer, an explosion shook the building. Parts of the ceiling came down, showering both of them with burning debris.
"That'll be your gas ring," the man said. "We need to get out before the main goes up."
Dazed, bruised and bleeding, Dodo allowed herself to be dragged from the ruins of the life she'd tried to build. As they left the house, something fell from above, thumping her on the shoulder, but that seemed to be history's last throw of the dice. The TARDIS doors closed behind her, the engines roared into life, and the glowing green pillar in the centre of the console began to rise and fall.
"And there we are," her rescuer said. "Let me introduce myself properly. I'm the Doctor, don't worry about why I look different from before."
"What... what's all this about?" Dodo managed to ask.
The Doctor stared at her, a terrible hunger in his eyes. "History says you were murdered in that bedsit. Well, history can go and take a running jump. You're going to live, Dodo Chaplet. You and your unborn child."
"My child? How did you know I was going to have a baby? I haven't told anyone."
"Oh." Dodo felt suddenly, horribly, sick.
The TARDIS ground to a halt. The Doctor flung the doors open.
"Here we are," he said. "Tisiphone. Human colony. A few centuries in your future. Should have done this last time. Still, practice makes perfect. See you both in twenty years."
Dodo suffered herself to be led from the TARDIS, and stood, hugging herself, as the blue box faded away. Around her, unfamiliar buildings painted in metallic colours stretched into the distance. A warm breeze was blowing, but she shivered nonetheless.
Twenty years, she thought, and patted her stomach. Twenty years, knowing he's going to come back for you.
She wondered whether being shot would have been a lighter sentence.
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