Rallying The Troops

by Agent X39 [Reviews - 1]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Drama, Humor, Romance, Standalone

Rallying The Troops
Part One: Spanner in the Works
Mike Yates was loitering around the UNIT garage workshop, but he wasn’t there to look at the little Edwardian roadster parked there. Not while he had the lovely Jo Grant to admire instead. Sitting in the front seat holding a clipboard, she was busy ticking items off a checklist, as the Doctor, looking intently at the engine and tapping various components with a large wrench, recited them:
“Fuel Injection.”
Lounging against a workbench, while trying to avoid getting oil stains on his uniform, the Captain, somewhat undiplomatically and definitely unwisely, expressed his true feelings about Bessie.
“Don’t know why you bother with this old crock, Doc. It belongs in a museum or a scrapyard. You really should get yourself something swanky like a Ford Capri 3000E. Fancy buying one of those myself. Speedy and stylish. The ladies love them, don’t they Jo?”
He flashed his best flirtatious smile at her. Jo did not return it. She put the clipboard down on the seat beside her, wagged her pen at Yates and gave him a very hard stare.
“Well I don’t. I think Bessie is a darling. I love driving with her. Well, not too fast and not in the rain, but she’s a sweet little thing. Don’t be such a meanie Mike.”
The Doctor, removing his head from under the bonnet, smiled at the look of chagrin on Yates’ face, then at Jo for defending Bessie’s honour. He had heard far too many negative comments about his beloved car and was always pleased when someone besides himself championed her.
“Thank you, Jo. I’m sure Bessie would say the same if she was able to. That might very well be your opinion Captain, but there are sophisticates like myself who can recognise craftsmanship and elegance when they see it. People such as these for instance. “
He reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out a letter and passed it to Jo. She quickly read it and said:
“You’ve entered Bessie in the London to Brighton Vintage Car Rally! Oh, how exciting! It will be just like being in Genevieve!”
The Doctor grinned at her obvious enthusiasm.
“Chap at the club told me about it. He’s on the board of the RAC and said it would be right up my street. I have got to remove some of her modifications like the HyperDrive so Bessie fits the entry criteria and then off we go. Normally to take part vehicles need to have been built before January 1st 1905. Bessie is a bit younger than that but good old Teddy had a word and she’s been granted one of the places they offer cars that don’t fit those requirements.”
“When is it Doctor?” Jo asked.
“It takes place on the first Sunday in November. That’s the 7th this year. It goes from Hyde Park to Brighton mainly following the old A23. It’s about 54 miles so it should take us a few hours to complete it. You and I could both do with an outing and a pleasant drive in Bessie to the seaside and back will be just the ticket.”
A few more items were ticked off the list, and with the checks completed, the Doctor and Jo went to see the Brigadier to give him their news. Captain Yates tagged along with them, hoping to get back into Jo’s good books after his faux pas with Bessie, and curious to see the Brigadier’s reaction. It was sure to be noteworthy.
Part Two: Brighton Seafront or Bust!
They found the man in question in his office, discussing duty rosters with Sergeant Benton. The Brigadier’s response to the Doctor’s plan was exactly as they had expected. Not a positive one.
“So, to enter this dratted race, you have to remove all the bits you’ve added to that car of yours, all at UNIT’s expense I may remind you, and then you’ll put them all back again at even greater expense? How do you think I’m going to justify all this to Geneva Doctor? Whole thing sounds like a load of expensive nonsense if you ask me.”
“I didn’t ask you Brigadier and it’s a rally not a race my dear chap. And thankfully Teddy doesn’t share your opinion. You know, General Edward Werrington. We were discussing it only yesterday. He’s very keen on my taking part. Perhaps he could call you so you can express your concerns to him personally?”
The Brigadier was a good enough soldier to recognise when he had been outmanoeuvred. Blackmail was such a dirty word but this was what this amounted to. He knew where this was heading. A quiet word in Werrington’s ear would lead to the General having a quiet word in Geneva’s ear and finally his superiors having a not so quiet word in his ear, reminding him of the need to keep the Doctor sweet as he was one of UNIT’s most valuable assets. As well as a pain in the Brigadier’s backside.
“The Queen will be taking part as a passenger this year as it’s the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the first rally. Might get a chance to talk engines with the old girl. Dab hand with a spanner, I recall.”
“Well, I guess I can’t stop you and Miss Grant from taking part. But perhaps you should go along too Yates, to keep an eye on....I mean, keep them company. “
The unspoken implication behind the Brigadier’s statement was that someone was needed to stop the Doctor getting close enough to the Queen to get an opportunity to call her ‘old girl.’
“And with Her Majesty being there, I’m sure that having some UNIT personnel along as an additional security measure would be most appreciated ......”
The Brigadier paused as if the proverbial lightbulb had gone off in his head. He had realised how to turn this whole sorry situation to his advantage. He resumed talking in a seemingly casual manner.
“So, this drive ends up in Brighton you say?
“Well it is The London to Brighton rally. Were you not listening man?”
The Brigadier ignored this and continued.
“On second thoughts, I think it might be better if I accompany you. The Queen’s attendance seems to merit a more senior UNIT officer being present, no offence Captain. So, I’m afraid you’ll have to stay behind and man the fort Yates. Can’t have us both absent from HQ.”
“No Sir. You’re absolutely right.”
Yates replied politely, if a tad icily, as any dreams he might have had of snuggling up to Jo (purely for warmth of course) on Bessie’s back seat went up in smoke. The Brigadier added, almost as an afterthought:
“And I’ve got an old friend in Brighton. Maybe I can arrange to meet them when we get there.”
RHIP thought Yates, ruefully. Benton, who had stayed silent during all this, suddenly piped up.
“I saw the rally a few times when I was a nipper. It goes through Lambeth on the way out of London. Used to wish I could take part myself one day. I’ve always had a thing about cars. My Uncle Bill, he ran his own garage and I’d help him out. He taught me all I know about fixing engines.”
The Brigadier was not overly impressed by this heart-warming tale.
“Thank you, Benton. Fascinating I’m sure.”
Jo, an unabashed sentimentalist at heart, seized on this with both hands:
“Oh, but that is such a sweet story!
Let Sergeant Benton come with us. Please Brigadier? We’ve got a spare seat after all.”
He was about to dismiss Jo’s request out of hand, when she pre-empted any objections he may have had with the use of some impeccable reasoning:
“It wouldn’t just be lovely for the Sergeant. If we’re going to help protect the Queen we can always do with some backup. And he can help us with Bessie if we should break down on the way.”
The Brigadier wasn’t in the mood to argue with logic like that so didn’t try to. Anything to stop this whole situation from taking over his entire day.
“Oh, very well. You can come along too Benton.”
He looked at the Doctor who merely shrugged to show he had no objections to the arrangement.
“Thank you, Sir!”
“Oh, thank you Brigadier!”
Jo and Benton both looked like it was Christmas and they had got everything they put on their list to Santa. The Brigadier was starting to feel like he had only got coal in his stocking. He could feel one of his headaches coming on.
Part Three: Costume Drama
But if the Brigadier had thought that his decision meant that the subject was closed, he was wrong. Jo then turned the conversation to, of all things, Edwardian apparel.
“I can’t wait to decide what to wear. I think I’ll choose a lovely period frock. And the Doctor can.....” she paused, looking at his ruffled shirt, and velvet smoking jacket, and stifling a snigger continued ...” go just as he is!”
“I’ll also need something to wear to keep me warm of course. Like a fur coat. And a travel rug. And a brolly in case it rains. Ooo and a big hat! I’ve got pictures of my granny Iris wearing some fabulous ones! I’ll have to dig them out for you to look at. Everyone says I’m the spitting image of her.....”
Seeing the increasingly resigned look on the Brigadier’s face, and having often been on the receiving end of her flights of fancy, the Doctor felt a pang of sympathy and attempted to curb Jo’s unbridled enthusiasm.
“I’m sure the Brigadier doesn’t need to concern himself with your costume Jo.....”
Her musings about her own outfit having been interrupted, Jo now turned her attention to Benton and the Brigadier.
“Oh, you have to dress up as well. You can wear some antique Army uniforms!”
“Oh, really Miss Grant, I think that’s taking things a bit too far....”
“Oh, please Brigadier, everyone will be doing it and it will be so much fun. I can just picture it. You will both look very dishy!”
Benton was quite chuffed that Jo thought he was dishy. Captain Yates, by the look on his face, wasn't. He was already not happy with the Brigadier and Benton going instead of him. The fact that it appeared that Jo might fancy either or both of them just made everything worse. He seethed to himself quietly in the corner of the room. The Brigadier wasn’t sure how he felt about Jo’s assertions about his appearance. A bit of flattery never hurt anybody, but he steeled himself to resist her pleas. But she turned those puppy dog eyes of hers on him. They never failed. His only thought was that he hoped no photographs would get in the papers. He would never live that down at the next reunion dinner.
“Oh, very well. I guess we don't want to draw attention to ourselves.”
Although driving along in a vibrant yellow car wasn’t exactly blending into the background, he mused.
“I can rustle up some costumes from the TARDIS wardrobe. I’m sure there will be something suitable there for you all.”
The Brigadier appeared rather sceptical at the Doctor’s remarks. That police box of his didn’t look big enough to fit a wardrobe in, let alone one full of historical military uniforms. And why would he keep women’s clothes in there? He did not want to think too closely about that if he was honest.
“I’m bound to know someone who can get some for us. I suppose my tailor could run up some costumes if necessary.”
Of course, he could. The Doctor knew somebody who could do anything, it sometimes seemed to the Brigadier.
“Well I believe we can discuss all this at some other time. I’ve work to do as do you all I believe.”
Captain Yates took the hint and went off to find someone to shout at for a bit to cheer himself up. The others lingered by the doorway.
“I can give you a hand getting Bessie ready if you like Doctor. After work of course. “
Benton said, adding the last bit so the Brigadier could not accuse him of slacking off from his duties.
The Doctor declined this kind offer in a characteristically ungracious manner.
“Bessie has a much more complex engine than any old banger you might have ‘mucked’ about with in your youth Sergeant, so I won’t be requiring your help thank you very much!”
Jo sought to lessen the blow of this churlish response and tease the Doctor at the same time.
“Don’t worry Sergeant, it’s nothing personal. He gets terribly jealous at the thought of someone else messing about with Bessie! She’s a one-man car!”
“Nonsense Jo. I don’t mind other people driving Bessie. But she’s a sensitive lady. I won’t allow just anyone to have a fiddle under her bonnet.”
The Doctor looked bemused as Jo started laughing helplessly, Benton bit back a grin, and the Brigadier, moustache suspiciously twitching, suddenly found his paperwork extremely interesting and stared down at it.
“What do you all find so amusing about that, may I ask?”
With no-one willing or capable of explaining, the Doctor sniffed haughtily and went back to the garage. Bessie was far easier to deal with than most humans. The same thing applied to Tardises. Well at least ones that worked properly.
Part Four: Hyde Park and Ride
A few weeks later, having attended the swanky reception for the rally participants on the Saturday, the UNIT team had stayed overnight at the Doctor’s behest in the equally swanky RAC clubhouse in Pall Mall. Early on Sunday morning, they drove in Bessie to Hyde Park. Her daffodil yellow paintwork and lamps were gleaming and her passengers were all looking resplendent in their costumes. The Doctor was his normal dashing self, all ruffles, velvet jacket and flowing cape. Jo was in a fabulous black and white dress with a matching hat and a leopard print stole. The Brigadier thought his uniform made him look unnervingly like a photograph of his late grandfather that he had been shown as a boy. But he had also brought his normal one along in a suit-bag so he could change when they got to Brighton. And Benton would not have looked out of place bellowing across an Edwardian parade ground in his Sergeant’s dress uniform
The Doctor and the Brigadier were chatting with General Werrington, whose own car, a 1901 Wolseley Gasoline Carriage, was parked some distance away from Bessie. The Doctor and the General were happily talking about their cars, quoting figures about spark-plugs and fuel consumption and the like and making detailed and boastful comparisons of their respective vehicles’ capabilities:
“5 hp! My dear Teddy, if this was a race, you wouldn’t see Bessie for dust! I can get at least 50 miles an hour out of her if necessary! More with a good wind behind her!”
The Brigadier was trying not to look so bored that it appeared insulting and definitely trying not to yawn. He wished he had stayed in the car and sent Benton over instead. This was much more his sort of thing. In fact, he was beginning to wish he had sent Captain Yates along as he had first planned. But he couldn’t look like he was snubbing a General. Or seem like he didn’t consider the Queen’s care and safety worthy of his personal attention. Not the done thing on either count. At least there were the delights of Brighton to look forward to when it was all over.
Meanwhile Benton and Jo were sitting in Bessie, admiring the other cars as they drove past, checking the route map and eagerly discussing the journey ahead. The rally was to start at 8.am. The oldest vehicles were the first to depart and so Bessie, being a relative youngster, and her passengers were going to be amongst the last to leave, about an hour and a half later. As the Doctor had stressed before, it was a rally not a race and there were no winners or losers. But the rules clearly stated that no vehicle was permitted to exceed an average speed of 20mph or they would be excluded from the final results.
As the Doctor was safely out of earshot, they joked that without her HyperDrive, it was a safe bet that they wouldn’t get Bessie to reach anywhere close to that speed, regardless of the Doctor’s declarations to Teddy Werrington, so that wasn’t a concern. As long as they got to the finish by the 4.30pm cut-off time, they would be fine. And everyone who did would receive a Bronze Medal. They both thought that it would look nice hung up somewhere at UNIT HQ. Maybe in the mess. Or they might be able to find a more suitable spot in the Brigadier’s office. Of course, that was only if the Doctor didn’t nab it to put in his laboratory first.
Amongst the multitude of ancient and unusual vehicles that were arriving, a vintage Rolls-Royce 10 hp, stood out mainly for the fact that it had a BBC film crew, in an equally vintage car, following it. It was being driven by a handsome, dark-haired man with a pretty blonde woman sitting next to him in the passenger seat. As they drove past, Jo excitedly beeped Bessie’s horn in greeting and they all waved at each other. The Doctor, who had returned with the Brigadier from their chat with the General, climbed in the driver’s seat and casually remarked:
“The fellow driving that Rolls-Royce looks exactly like someone I used to know.”
“Perhaps it is him or maybe one of his relatives?”
“That’s highly unlikely. Although it’s possible that it might be one of his ancestors.”
Jo looked puzzled and said:
“Don’t you mean a descendant Doctor?”
The Doctor smiled enigmatically and said nothing. Before they could question him further, the marshals announced over the tannoy that all participating drivers and their vehicles should prepare for departure. It was almost 8.am and the Queen was about to wave the first cars off and then join the rally herself. The Doctor switched the ignition on, told them to fasten their seatbelts and began to drive in a stately, if slightly bone-shaking manner, to join the queue for the start line on Serpentine Drive.
Part Five: Get Your Kicks on the A236
Somewhere, in a lay-by on a road both to and from Brighton....
It had been convenient for the Master and his plot to kidnap the Queen that horse boxes were an everyday occurrence in this neck of the woods. It could prove very difficult to distinguish one from the other. Even one that was a TARDIS in disguise. As was his wont, he had recruited a ragtag bunch of petty criminals to do the dirty work. They would be wielding the weaponry. He had bigger fish to fry. The moment he had read about the Queen taking part in this ridiculous rally, his mind had begun working overtime. The publicity for the rally had been all over the press and television. That her whole itinerary for the day was always published in the Court Circulars made the whole caper so much easier to organise.
Her Majesty’s car, a 1901 Daimler first owned by Edward VII, had been amongst the first to leave Hyde Park and reached Brighton relatively early. After a drive along the Prom and a luncheon to mark the rally’s Anniversary, the Queen was being driven to Plumpton Racecourse to see one of the Queen Mother’s stable of horses run there later that afternoon.
The Master’s plan, as per usual, was both dastardly in its aims and overly complicated in its methods. He was going to use a hypno-raygun, constructed out of items he just happened to have lying around the Tardis, to reflect his hypnotic gaze off the driver’s mirror into his eyes and mesmerise him into pulling the car over to the side of the road. The Queen’s entourage would be removed from the car, which would then be driven into the waiting horse box. Her Majesty would be trapped. Thereafter, he could make any demands he liked, safe in the knowledge that he was holding her captive in probably one of the most impenetrable places in the known and unknown universe.
He would ask for a ransom of £100 million. Or the Crown Jewels. Or total control of the country. Or maybe all three. He hadn’t made up his mind yet. Perhaps he would toss a coin. In any case it was a totally fool proof scheme.
On the day, the whole thing went like clockwork. The driver was mesmerised. The heavies’ van blocked off the Jaguar Mark 2 containing the royal protection officers, the Daimler stopped by the roadside and the dazed driver, the Queen’s personal secretary and her Lady in Waiting were dragged out and unceremoniously shoved into the back of the Transit. The Master, who had been waiting casually by the horse box as if he did not have a care in the galaxy, slid gracefully into the driver’s seat and drove the Daimler up the ramp. Once inside, he got out of the car and hit a button on the central console. The ramp slowly rose and then closed with a loud click. The whole enterprise had only taken a few minutes. The Queen and the Master were now by themselves inside the Tardis. They just looked at each other for some seconds, the Queen somewhat bewildered by the whole situation and the Master delighted beyond all measure by his plan coming to fruition. The impasse was finally broken by the Master bowing his head in a gesture of respect, which was slightly ruined by the Tissue Compression Eliminator he was pointing at her, and said in his characteristically overblown manner:
“Your Majesty. Welcome to my Tardis. Please make yourself at home. If my demands are not met, I’m afraid that you may be here for some time.”
The Queen responded to this declaration with a look of absolute disdain. She was not amused.

Part Six: Kidnap? Not Bloody Likely!
Due to Bessie’s relative youth, the UNIT team were in the last group to leave Hyde Park, and once they left the streets of London behind, had proceeded at a relatively sedate pace, on some occasions reaching a heady 9 or 10 miles an hour. There was no need to rush. Brighton was not going anywhere. Benton sat in the front seat, map reading. Jo, who the Doctor didn’t allow anywhere near a map after she had gotten them lost one too many times, was in the back next to the Brigadier. One of this pair was having a ball, happily waving at fellow competitors and spectators alike. It wasn’t the Brigadier. He wasn’t fond of driving in Bessie normally and he could not wait to take this ridiculous uniform off. And he was eager to get to Brighton to meet his friend. Although he had perked up a bit when they pulled into a lay-by and stopped for some lunch. Jo and Benton happily tucked into some sandwiches and a flask of tea she had charmed the staff at the RAC into providing them with, while the Brigadier and the Doctor respectively accepted and refused the refreshments on offer.
“Another sandwich Sir?”
“Thank you, Benton. These aren’t too bad. Much better than those dreadful fish paste ones we get from the NAAFI.”
“They are very good Doctor. Are you sure you won’t have one?”
“No thank you. And don’t get any crumbs in the car.”
After finishing their food, they had driven on for a few minutes, when suddenly Jo said:
“Can anyone else hear gunfire?”
“Well there are a lot of guns in the country, Miss Grant. It’s probably a farmer scaring off crows or maybe there’s a clay pigeon shooting range nearby?”
The mystery of where the gunfire was coming from was quickly solved by the scene they came across further up the road. A man wearing a balaclava was firing a shotgun over the heads of a group of men crouching down behind a Jaguar. More balaclava-clad men stood behind a battered old van holding cudgels and looking menacing. Meanwhile a vintage car was being driven into a horse box by a man dressed in black. Both driver and passenger were instantly recognisable. It was the Master! And he had the Queen at his mercy.
The UNIT team immediately went into action. The Doctor, not even waiting for Bessie to come to a halt, sprang from the car. He ran straight over to the horse box and used his Venusian Aikido to easily dispatch the two masked figures guarding it. The Master, who had foolishly chosen this moment to lower the ramp and see what all the noise was about, was distracted long enough that the Queen, regaining her equilibrium and seizing her chance, aimed a mighty blow to the back of his head with the royal handbag. She did not miss. The ramp having fully lowered, the Doctor leapt over the prone body of the Master and jumped in the Daimler just as the Queen got in the driving seat.
“Your Majesty, please excuse my presumptuousness but may I suggest you put her in reverse and get us out of here right now.”
The Queen was not used to being told what to do but wisely wasn’t going to argue right now. She expertly changed gears, looked over her shoulder and sped down the ramp.
The Brigadier had automatically followed the Doctor out of Bessie. He had shouted across to the protection officers that they were from UNIT so they wouldn’t get shot in the mistaken belief that they were somehow involved in the kidnap attempt. Luckily, they weren’t using their weapons for fear of hitting the Queen or the hostages in the van. He rushed straight into the thick of the action, brandishing his pistol. Most of the thugs, stunned at the sight of an armed man in an antique army uniform coming at them, and not really being paid enough to put up with this sort of thing, put their hands up and surrendered. The rest leapt in their van and tried to escape as the protection officers, no longer under fire, ran over to assist the Brigadier and protect the Queen.
Benton had quickly grabbed Bessie’s steering wheel, moved across into the driving seat and had performed some manoeuvres worthy of a Hollywood stuntman to stop the criminals fleeing the scene, blocking their path, executing some tight turns, swerving towards them and eventually forcing them against the crash barrier and trapping them there. Jo was hanging on in the back seat for dear life but managed to bash the shotgun wielding thug with her parasol as he jumped from the van and ran past her. She might have been on the petite side but could pack one hell of a wallop when it was needed. It was a good job it was November. That parasol was never going to keep the sun off anything ever again.
Thanks to their combined efforts, the kidnap attempt had failed. But in the midst of the confusion, the Master had gathered his wits, raised the ramp and escaped, driving away to hide among the multitude of horse boxes going to and from the races. It was going to be like looking for a Tardis in a Haystack. Again.
Part Seven: The Royal Road to Success
Once they were rounded up and held at gunpoint by the protection squad, the hapless hoodlums all pleaded ignorance as to the true nature of the incident. The man with the shotgun was especially keen to clear the matter up:
“Kidnapping the Queen? I don’t know nuffink about all that. The geezer with the beard said it was a joke between him and some of his posh mates. Said he’d pay us 100 quid each and no questions asked. I only fired the gun to give ‘em a bit of a scare. I weren’t even aiming properly. Didn’t know they were coppers, did I? If I’d known wot was really going on, I wouldn’t have touched it with a flaming barge pole. Honest guv I’d never hurt her Majesty gawd bless ‘er..”
As they waited for the regular police and their Black Marias to arrive to take the criminals into custody, the Queen came over to thank the UNIT team personally. She had brushed aside the loud protestations of her protection squad and staff, especially the trio who had been stashed in the van, who were desperate to get her away from all of this lunacy.
“Doctor, despite the unpleasant circumstances it is nice to see you again. I am most grateful that you were able to come to our assistance. “
“The pleasure was all mine, your Majesty.”
“And who might your companions be?
“Ma’am, may I present to you
Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart, Sergeant John Benton and Miss Josephine Grant. “
They all saluted or curtsied as was appropriate. Benton was so nervous he nearly did both.
“Thank you all for what you have done today.”
“It was an honour and a privilege, Your Majesty.”
“Your intervention was done with excellent military precision I have to say. What branch of the services are you with?”
The Brigadier replied:
“The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, Your Majesty. The Doctor is our Scientific Advisor. Miss Grant is his assistant.”
“Ah UNIT. You’re working with them now are you Doctor? I hope you are no longer having anything to do with that other group. You know the Welsh one?”
“Absolutely not, Ma’am.”
It came as a surprise to the others that the Queen appeared to both personally know the Doctor and what UNIT was. She had also taken the whole it’s bigger on the inside Tardis situation completely in her stride. But on reflection she was the Queen after all. And the head of the Armed Services. She probably had seen and knew a lot more secrets than any of them could imagine.
Benton was too dumbstruck to say anything and Jo was thrilled beyond belief that she was actually meeting the Queen. The Brigadier’s main concern, after he had made sure that everybody was safe, was to stop the Doctor from saying or doing anything that would get them all locked up in the Tower.
“Do you know who that ghastly man was? Not a friend of yours I hope Doctor?”
“Unfortunately, I do know who that scoundrel is, Ma'am. And he is no friend of mine. But have no fear, I will track him down.”
“I’m sure you will. You usually do so if one recalls correctly from our previous encounters.”
The others were all dying to hear about those, but realised that this wasn’t the time to ask. Although the Brigadier in particular made a mental note to find out about the Doctor’s dealings with royalty. Purely for security reasons. Not idle curiosity at all. The Queen then turned her gaze towards the little car parked next to her Daimler:
“Your car is very ..... yellow isn’t it?”
Jo cheerily replied.
“Oh yes she’s just like a canary! She’s called Bessie, Ma’am!”
“Really? Did you name her that after my illustrious predecessor Good Queen Bess, Doctor?”
“Well such a fine vehicle deserves only to bear the name of a fine lady, Ma’am”
The Brigadier could have sworn that the Doctor then gave the Queen a very ungallant wink. Well there goes my pension, he thought gloomily to himself. But the Queen didn’t seem to mind. Or was, as befitting her rank, far too well-bred to show it.
“Well I sincerely hope that all this nonsense will not stop you from completing the rally in time.”
The rally! They had forgotten all about it. And the failed kidnapping had taken up an awful lot of time. They all made their polite but hurried farewells and drove off.
Unfortunately, they soon had to stop at a petrol station as Benton had used up quite a bit of petrol going all Stirling Moss with his racing moves. While they waited for him to fill up her tank, the Doctor bemoaned this and all the other offences that he said the Sergeant had ‘committed’ against his poor car:
“It will take me hours to get the crankshafts back in full working order! Lord only knows what you have done to the poor old girl’s tyres! And you had better not have scuffed her paintwork!”
Bessie was tougher than she looked and was still roadworthy. But despite pushing her to the edge, while remaining below the race speed limit, they finally drove across the finish line after the sun had set, the 4.30pm deadline long passed. The race officials were sympathetic but were adamant. Rules were rules and there were to be no exceptions. Luckily for them Teddy Werrington happened to be at the finish line when they arrived. He had stayed after the luncheon, watching the various vehicles arrive and was somewhat perturbed as to where the Doctor had got to. He had then been contacted by someone he knew in ‘A’ Division of the Met Police, the section in charge of Royal security, who informed him what had taken place en route. He therefore decided he should have a word or two in his RAC and professional capacity to smooth things over with the adjudicators. It was the least he could do. He took the officials to one side and had those few words.
Bessie’s passengers couldn’t hear the conversation but the Doctor’s superior hearing had managed to make out a few phrases.
“...personal assistance to Her Majesty...Very hush hush...Club’s Patron after all...would be most grateful...“
Having had their minds ‘changed’ for them, the adjudicators came over to the Doctor and said that due to extenuating circumstances they had been recorded as having completed the rally in time and Bessie would feature in the final results. Once the officials had left, they thanked Teddy who waved it all aside:
“No need for all that. Least I can do. You have done your country proud today. Jolly good show. But you won’t be getting mentioned in dispatches I’m afraid. We’ll have to hush it all up. Can’t have people thinking we’re incapable of taking care of the Royal Family. So, no honours for services rendered. Just the satisfaction of knowing you kept Her Majesty safe. But I guess you UNIT people are used to all that top-secret stuff what!”
They all nodded. They were used to their efforts being kept off the radar. It wasn’t to be “Arise, Sir John Benton” or “Dame Josephine Grant” just yet, it appeared.
“I hope you manage to find the fellow who organised this whole thing. Can’t have someone like that wandering around the place causing trouble. Give me a shout if you need any help. I’ll see you next week at the Club then Doctor. Oh, and mustn’t forget to give you this. Well done everyone.”
The General handed the Doctor their Bronze medal, nodded his farewells and left. They all looked at the small token. It didn’t look like much but they had definitely earned it the hard way.
Part Eight: Pocket Rocket
Despite their success, both in foiling the Master’s plans and in completing the rally, the Brigadier wasn’t happy. As they were so late in arriving, he was sure he must have been stood up. However, at that very moment, out of the foggy evening gloom, a small, very pretty blonde woman emerged from the crowd and shyly waved at him. The Brigadier smiled. Tapping the brim of his hat with his swagger stick in acknowledgement, he made an announcement to the others:
“I’m going to stay here tonight to tie up some loose ends with the authorities and get the train back tomorrow. You three can drive back to HQ and fill everyone in on what happened.”
“I thought Captain Yates was coordinating everything with the security services and the police Sir? As well as organising our lads to search for the Master.”
But Jo had noticed the woman and the way she and the Brigadier were looking at each other and elbowed Benton in the ribs to stop him talking. After a bit of miming and gesticulating from Jo, he realised what was going on and shut up.
“I presume that’s your friend in Brighton, Brigadier?”
“Yes, Doctor, her name is Doris Wilson. She’s the widow of an old Army colleague. We have known each other for a long time. “
The Doctor could have prodded the Brigadier mercilessly for more information but decided against it. The Brigadier deserved to find some happiness after his divorce. He hadn’t seen him look this way in a long time. He would reserve his teasing for another day.
“Well I hope you both enjoy your evening Alastair.”
The Brigadier looked surprised at the Doctor’s use of his first name. He rarely did that. He thought at first, he was being sarcastic. But soon recognised the sincerity behind his words.
“Thank you Doctor, I’m sure we will. I hope you all have a safe and peaceful journey home. I’ll see you all tomorrow. Good night.”
The Brigadier got out of Bessie, taking his valise and suit-bag with him, and walked over to Doris.
“Hello Alastair.”
“Hello. Sorry I’m so late. Had a bit of bother on the way. Couldn’t be helped, I'm afraid.”
He paused, uncharacteristically unsure of himself.
“I wasn’t sure if you would wait for me.”
She playfully tutted at him and brushed a speck of dirt from the front of his uniform. Then rested her hand on his chest, smiling up at him.
“I will always wait for you. Especially when you arrive looking this handsome. Very dashing.”
He glanced over his shoulder to see if the trio he had left in Bessie were watching. They were doing a good job at feigning indifference while obviously paying very close attention. But he found he didn’t care at this moment. They were a family. A dysfunctional one but family nonetheless. They kept each other’s secrets. He shook his head ruefully and bent down to peck Doris on the cheek. Arm in arm, they walked away, anxious to make the most of their time together.
“That’s a lovely car you came in.”
“Yes, fine little thing really. Maybe I’ll get myself something like her when I retire.”
The Doctor watched them leave, and hoping to thwart Jo from rhapsodising about the romance of it all, clapped his hands and said:
“Well I’m famished! How about some fish and chips? I’m afraid I’ve left my wallet in the Tardis so one of you will have to pay. I’ll give it back to you when we get home.”
Jo and Benton were accustomed to the Doctor ‘forgetting’ to carry any money on him so didn’t say anything. They went and bought the food and then sat looking out to sea. They ate in silence, broken only by the angry squawks of the seagulls wanting to steal their chips and an ominous warning from the Doctor:
“Neither of you had better put your greasy fingers on Bessie’s upholstery or you can clean it off yourselves!”
Once they had finished their meal, the Doctor said they would have a much quicker drive back to HQ. Jo asked how they would do that, as Bessie’s capabilities had been restricted for the rally. The Doctor jumped out of the front seat, popped the bonnet, took a small contraption from his inside jacket pocket, and stuck it on the engine.
“Temporary Hyperdrive Adapter! I always carry one in case of an emergency. We’ll be back home in no time, speed limits permitting of course.”
An exasperated expression, eerily reminiscent of the one often worn by the Brigadier, fell across Jo’s face. She was not impressed and made that perfectly clear:
“You carry everything in those pockets of yours except for the really important stuff like money! You still owe me for the last three meals I bought, not including this one! And you’re on a much higher salary than either of us!”
Sitting next to her, Benton nodded in agreement at her statement. The Doctor was shocked.
“Have you been snooping through my personnel files? Or talking to Payroll? How else would you come to that conclusion?
With an air of mock innocence, Jo replied:
“Well your club membership must have cost you a packet. Those velvet jackets don’t come cheap either. And neither of us could afford to run a car like Bessie on our wages. So obviously you must be loaded!”
While the Doctor was spluttering with unrighteous indignation at the statement, Benton was quietly shaking with laughter. Jo had collapsed into a fit of giggles. The Doctor turned and glared at them both, but any vexation he was feeling crumbled at the sight of Jo’s pixyish face. He smiled gently at her and said:
“You win Jo. Then the least I can do with my ill-gotten gains is use them to get us all back to UNIT. Just in time for a nightcap in the lab I think.”
Jo pulled herself together, sat back demurely and tapped the handle of her battered parasol on the back of the driver’s seat.
“Thank you Doctor, that would be the perfect end to a very ‘interesting’ day. Home then and don’t spare the HyperDrive!”
The End
Dedicated to my dad, who named all his motorbikes and bicycles after a girl. And my Great-Aunt, Annie Mabel, the girl in question.