"Hold up your ID card where we can see it, sir," said one of the armed guards. Chris, shaking a little, did so. There was a red beam like a laser that hit the card, and a beeping sound. "OK, sir, confirmed. Move out of the way please."
A little shell-shocked, Chris did as he was told. Forgetting him already, the guards continued to train their sights on the elevator door as it closed and the elevator spun off in a new direction. Barely prepared to believe what he was getting away with, Chris ambled off to the side.
"Don't look so worried," said a woman with a clipboard. "There's an intruder somewhere about, that's all. Where are you heading?"
"Uh, C Wing."
"This is all C Wing. Where have you come from?"
"Security. I'm, er, I was told something about a blue box? About two metres tall, looks like a cupboard?"
"That was quick, they only brought it in ten minutes ago. I'll show you where they've put it. Only it's not blue, it's more green."
"The jade-" Chris stopped himself just in time.
"Yeah, jade, that's the word I was looking for. Do you know what it is?"
"They say it's a matter transmitter, used by the..." Oh goddess, what was the enemy called again? "Er, the Alliance. They beamed down onto the planet with it, to get past our borders."
The woman raised an eyebrow. "Gosh. How terribly exciting. Well, it's down here. I expect you'll want to book it into quarantine for a few days."
"That's right," said Chris, praying to every god he could think of that Roz was safe.
* * *
The truck had at some point come to a halt and then nothing had happened for what seemed like ages. Eventually, the pagoda was lifted, carried for a while and then up-ended until it was the right way up. There was lots of muttering from outside, but the scanner was unhelpfully showing most of a blank wall and Roz could barely make out anything of any use beyond the odd shadow.
She had her armour on and her blaster at the ready. She alone could open the door — she hoped. Chris was somewhere about but her first priority had to be to retrieve the TARDIS.
There was silence for something like fifteen minutes. Then someone came into to the room. "There you go," said a woman's voice. "Let me know if you need anything."
Roz heard the door close behind the woman, and footsteps approach the pagoda. She kept as still as she could, listening out for any sound. It was with some shock that she realised someone outside was trying to open the door. Worse, they appeared to be succeeding. Roz stood with horror as the jade door in front of her swung open.
She reached for her blaster. She had just a moment to register that the figure was wearing a uniform. She raised the blaster and pressed the trigger.
The figure ducked out of the way, but she still caught it a glancing blow on the side of the arm. "Stop Roz, it's me, Chris!" the figure said.
Roz ran out of the pagoda. It was indeed Chris. "Oops," she said. "Are you hurt?"
Chris was dabbing gingerly at the wound. "Singed. It'll smart in the morning, but I'm OK."
"I've got you an ID card. I'm betting the TARDIS is somewhere nearby. Unfortunately I've blown our cover. However, thanks to this place being so sprawling and badly organised, no one's quite realised yet. It's like a dinosaur that's stubbed its toe, but the message hasn't made it all the way to the brain yet. But when it does-"
"We're in trouble. OK, let's get going."
* * *
They found a small room with a terminal nearby. First Chris used the system to get Roz's retinal scan on her fake ID card. Then she stood guard at the door while he continued working on the machine, trying to find some reference to the TARDIS.
"Come on," muttered Roz.
"I'm working as fast as I can," grunted Chris. "This is pretty primitive tech. I think this looks most promising. It's a report of a series of experiments on a subject brought in several months ago. Abilities include being able to disappear for minutes at a time. Vanishing into thin air."
"Could be the TARDIS."
"Yep. They say they've tried various means to stop it from doing so, but no details. Looks like they've been successful."
"Stop it from doing so? I would have thought that was what they stole it for."
"Unless it was trying to escape."
"Makes sense. So they've managed to keep it a prisoner. Doesn't really explain the whole Allen Road situation."
"No. But that can wait. It's kept in a room on the next floor down. Let's go."
* * *
More armed figures emerged from the lift. They flashed their ID cards and moved aside. "Security. We're here to take the new item to quarantine."
"Oh. One of you lot's already dealing with it," said the woman with the clipboard.
"What? That's impossible, we were the first to hear about it, we came straight away."
The security guards glanced between each other. "The saboteur?"
"Cruk. I'm sorry, I just assumed."
"Never mind that now. Where is he?"
* * *
Chris and Roz were about to leave the room when several guards ran past outside. Roz gestured to Chris to keep quiet for a moment. The guards looked as if they were heading towards the room with the pagoda in. When the coast was clear, they left the room.
Chris led the way towards where they hoped the TARDIS was. They made good progress for a minute, but then a siren went off and the tannoy voice, now familiar to Chris, boomed out at them. "Intruders are in C Wing, floor B. All security personnel authorised to use lethal force."
"That's bad," said Chris. "The pagoda's on floor C, so somehow they know where we are."
"Haven't seen any security cameras — at least, no obvious ones."
"Well, we're nearly there now."
Just as well, because as they moved down a lengthy corridor they heard behind them the door burst open and several pairs of footsteps come towards them. They picked up the pace as the occasional blast of energy travelled past them.
They reached the door Chris had indicated as containing the TARDIS. Chris swiped his ID card at the reader. But there was a buzz and the door didn't open.
"Cruk. Now they've identified me they've revoked the card."
The footsteps where getting nearer, and the blasts, although still missing them, were missing by smaller margins. Roz instinctively swiped her own card. Chris panicked for a moment because he though it wouldn't work — after all, she was as much an intruder as he. But the door beeped and unlocked, and before they could think about it, they entered. As they did so, Chris realised that they might not know to revoke Roz's card, given that he'd used a fake name.
But if the adjudicators thought they were out of hot water yet, they were mistaken, for there was no TARDIS in here.
It was a prison cell, or at least that was what they first thought: equally it could be a private hospital room. There was no decoration to the room, and hardly any furniture, just a bed that looked uncomfortably hard and a barred, high window. And no way out other than the door behind them. The only other thing in the room was a girl. She looked to be in her late teens and had curly dark hair and wide, scared eyes. She was sitting on the bed, pulling the covers up towards her in fright.
They had only seconds to decide what to do. Roz spoke first. "Where's the TARDIS?" She seemed to be directing it as a question at the girl, but the girl just continued to cower.
"You... you can't be here! You're in my head!"
"Oh great," muttered Roz, "this is a looney bin. Look, listen to me, this is vitally important. We're looking for a tall, blue box. We must find it quickly."
"Don't speak in the waking!" wailed the girl. "You can't be here!"
"I can assure you we're very much here," said Roz, "more's the pity. I'm Roz Forrester, this is Chris Cwej. We mean you no harm. If you're a prisoner here we can help you but you must help us now."
But it was too late. The door opened and the guards came in. "Freeze!" said one.
"I'm Roz and Chris!" screamed the girl on the bed. It was such a piercing and unexpected thing to do that everyone was momentarily rooted to the spot. Then, if it were possible, the girl did something even more surprising. She started to moan, "No, don't make me do it, don't do it, I'm a good girl, I do what I'm told, please no." Then she screamed again, and it was fairly clear why. Something had... happened, to reality. A tear or rip, between them and the girl. Through the rip they could see what looked like a void, or vortex. And before anyone could react, the girl was swallowed up by the rip and vanished.
Chris and Roz had a split second to make a decision. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, Chris made the instant decision that wherever the girl had escaped to, it might not be as scary as the room they were in. Without further thought, he hurled himself at the tear and was consumed by it.
The tear started to get smaller, as if reality were asserting itself and denying the possibility of a flaw in its perfection. Roz had no choice, really. Just as the hole was about to close, she dived through it. As she did so, she felt a blast from one of the guard's weapons fly past her, but it was too late. In an instant, she and the guards were in different dimensions.