A Custom Vehicle

by Primsong [Reviews - 7]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, General, Series

The Brigadier tapped his swagger-stick impatiently against his thigh as he paced, reflecting that one never truly appreciated the convenience of radio communication until it wasn't available. His scientific advisor was scribbling out some kind of incomprehensible equations on a bit of paper, something to do with those power outages. He was half-inclined to interrupt him just to help pass the time. Where were those sentry reports?

"Sir!" Benton said, entering with the barest salute. He was out of breath with the running. "All the companies and auxiliary staff are accounted for, but…"

"Yes?"

Benton sort of gulped. "No one's seen Captain Yates, sir. And Miss Grant has also gone missing."

"Jo?!" The Doctor came to his feet. "Jo, here? Why didn't anyone tell me? She was supposed to be on holiday."

The Brigadier looked grim. "She came back early and followed us here. I'm sorry, Doctor, it went clean out of my head after everything lit up like that. They must be in that building, then."

"I'm afraid so. Most likely somewhere on the upper floor, near the ship."

"Are those chaps likely to be armed?"

"I don't know… it's possible. They aren't inclined towards carrying weaponry, but are bound to have some sort of defensive measures just in case."

"Very well." The Brigadier turned to issue some sort of directive and simply stopped, his mouth still open. There was a crackling whump and everyone's hair frizzed on end as a shimmering electrical dome formed around the building. There was a strange silence as all the assorted jeeps, trucks and generators went dead again.

"Or they might just generate a force field," the Doctor observed.

"Right."

--

Up above, off the vacant sitting room, Jo Grant and Mike Yates took turns watching for any movement in the other room, it being all they could see. It was quiet. Their captors went up and down the ladder a couple times, but remained silent. The small boxes off to the side gave little scritching noises that made them surmise some small animals had also been boxed up.

"I feel like a mouse," Jo observed.

"A mouse?" Yates raised an eyebrow and waited for details.

"Yes. Haven't you ever seen those little pasteboard boxes they put them into if you buy one at the pet store?"

He shook his head. "I only had dogs."

"Well, they're like this. A box with holes punched around the top for air."

"I had a friend who had a pet snake once. It ate mice."

"Ew!"

"Sorry."

"Are you thinking they might eat us?"

He gave an uncomfortable shrug. "Why did you come in here, anyway?"

"They threw me in!"

"No, I mean in the house," he smiled, then grew more serious. "It sounded like you were talking to those…things."

"I was, or I was trying to."

"But…why? What possible point was there in endangering yourself that way?"

"Well, no one else was."

"What? Endangering themselves?"

"No, talking to them. No one had tried talking to them. You were all just setting up lights and guns and things. It was all just so beastly. I had to try."

"But look at what they've done to you!"

"We still don't know why they've done it," she said stubbornly. "It could be a misunderstanding."

"You are amazing." Yates shook his head. "I don't know whether to be horrified or to admire your optimism. I'm sitting here wondering if they're going to turn out to be vampires or something and you're still just wanting to make peace with them."

Jo considered this. "I'm really not as brave as I look, you know. I was positively terrified out of my wits trying to play diplomat."

"Then why did you?"

"Well, because the Doctor wasn't there," she said, as if this were the most logical thing in the world.

"What?"

"He wouldn't want them all shot up, you know. He's always going on about how we need to at least try talking to other creatures and such. How they aren't all bad if you communicate with them."

Mike rolled his eyes. "Well, next time leave it up to him, will you? Must have taken ten years off my life when I saw them catch you like that."

She looked around the box, steering to other topics. "It's getting so stuffy in here."

He leaned back against the wall. "Yes. I hope they'll at least remember to bring us some water."

The air was suddenly filled with static, lifting their hair on end.

"What's that?" Jo asked with wide eyes.

"I wish I knew," Yates answered, he shifted to look out one of the holes and a blue arc of static electricity snapped between them.

"Ow!" they both said and unaccountably laughed.

--

Mr. Babcock had just come back out of the canteen tent, hot tea in hand, when the force field dome crackled into place. He dropped his tea right on his shoes. Lit by the shimmering force field's light, his face looked even greener than might be expected.

Two men strode past him. They didn't even give him a glance.

The Brigadier paced beside his long-legged scientific advisor, watching the Doctor's static-filled hair floating around as they looked over the boundaries of the force field. "Well, Doctor. What now? We can't reach them through that, can we?"

"I expect they're trying to lift off," the Doctor said, looking up toward the roof again. "And if so, they'll engage their drive."

"What will that do?"

"Well, first it will knock out your power again. Thoroughly."

"Then?"

"Suffice it to say, I doubt that building will survive the lift-off procedures. You better get warn your men they'll need shelter. It may explode."

"Explode? The ship or the building?"

"The building." He looked grim. "And if their hostages aren't on the ship itself, I doubt they'd survive it."

"How much time do we have."

"I expect not much."

There was a hiss of static from the nearby jury-rigged radios and everything but the force field went silent and dark.

"No," the Doctor amended. "Not much at all." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

--

"Dead. All of them. All we have left are our projectile resources, sir!" the lieutenant saluted.

"Very well. Stand by for orders."

"Sir!" the man turned and jogged away from the tent, his small kerosene lamp swinging in his hand.

"Projectile resources? Guns? You're going to shoot them?" the Doctor asked in disbelief.

"One of the good things about gunpowder, Doctor. It's non-electric."

"Good thing? What if Jo and Captain Yates are on that ship? Or has that even occurred to you?"

"Yes. I was hoping you might be able to advise on how we could best wing it."

"Wing it? A spaceship? Brigadier have you lost your mind? This isn't a pheasant-shoot."

"What can we do?" the Brigadier snapped at him. "Everything else is dead!"

"Not Bessie."

"What?"

--

In front of the crackling, humming field that surrounded the house a small, yellow car was carefully wheeled into place.

The Brigadier stepped back as the little roadster roared to life, sounding even louder with all others silent. The men gaped as another dome of energy formed, this time crackling and humming into place over the Doctor and his car. The Brigadier gave him a salute.

The Doctor didn't hesitate a moment, but gunned her straight for the conservatory. Bessie shot bouncing up the steps, her own field morphing with the one around the building and then releasing her like a bubble as the yellow car continued, roaring across the patio.

She crashed straight through the panes, shards of glass and twisted pieces of sill shattering and shrieking around her, repelled by the force field that kept her safe. He skidded her to a stop on the brick flooring inside, skewing her around as he did so to orient her for an escape.

Ramming off the lever for the field, he leaped from the car, tiny bits of debris still raining down from his entrance. Looking about briefly, he headed for the stairway. Above him, the humming vibrations were growing louder.

Quickly searching the rooms, he found no trace of either the alien men, Jo or Yates. Then he found the sitting room, with its metal ladder and blue lights. He looked up at the base of the ship through the hole in the ceiling. The ship's entry port was already sealed. He put one hand on the ladder, trying to think of how he could get the alien's attention enough to get them to open it back up when he heard her.

"Over here!" Jo was calling, waving an arm through one of the holes in a large box.

Whirling around, his eyebrows raised and he ran to them, pausing to consider the exterior of the box. "Ah, here we go." He flipped a latch.

The lid opened and he was looking down at the two rumpled humans, extending a hand.

"Are you all right?"

"Just a bit cramped," Jo said, clasping his arm and letting him help her out.

Mike climbed out after her, rubbing his stiff legs. "Thanks," he said. "Now what?"

"Now we get out of here," he said and turned to lead the way back across the room with it's strange metal ladder and lights. The humming and throbbing sounds were growing stronger every minute.

"Oh, wait! We can't leave the animals!" Jo ran back into the small room, opening tabs on boxes.

"Jo!" The Doctor and Yates both said with a mix of frustration and affection.

"Help me!" she called, throwing a small box at Mike, who fumbled at the catch and jumped slightly as two bewildered field mice ran out over his hands.

The Doctor came back in and grabbed her arm, physically towing her out of the room. "There's no time!"

"But…" she was still opening boxes she'd stuffed under her arms as she went. Two pigeons burst into the air and bumped around the room as he half-dragged her out the door and back down the stairs.

"Sorry, Jo," the Doctor said as they ran down the steps and back to the ruined conservatory. "We have to get back to Bessie. This whole place is about to go up!"

Two beetles scurried from the box in her hands, making her give a little scream and shake them off. "Mike!" she called back over her shoulder. She couldn't see him around the Doctor's flaring cape.

"I'm here. I'm coming!" he panted behind them. "Where are the aliens?"

"In their ship! Get in the car!" The Doctor nearly threw Jo into Bessie, Yates scrambling into the back seat as he reached for a lever on the lower dash and rammed it all the way up.

Jo's wide eyes grew even wider as a now-familiar crackling filled the air and a faint dome formed around the yellow roadster. She looked back at Mike and almost giggled, his eyes were round as dinnerplates and his hair waved around from the static.

Then the building exploded.

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