“I can't believe it.” Tegan sighed.
“It would be interesting to go down, wouldn't it?” Turlough mused. The Doctor came in. “Er, Doctor, we were—”
“Impossible. Time's up.” The Doctor went over to the console.
“What happens to them, Doctor?” asked Tegan.
“Knowledge has its limits,” he said. “Ours reaches this far and no further.”
Lilith cocked her head to the side. “You said this version of you was fun.”
The TARDIS shuddered. The Doctor frowned. “Stabilizers are failing. Have to get out of here.”
“It's a meteorite storm,” Turlough said, looking at the scanner.
The Doctor shook his head. “The TARDIS should be able to resist this sort of thing. The console's jammed!”
Everyone but Lilith grabbed onto the console. She just stood there with her arms crossed.
“We're being dragged towards the planet!” Turlough exclaimed.
“How?” Tegan inquired.
“Gravitational pull, probably,” Lilith guessed. “But that shouldn’t effect the TARDIS, should it?”
Tegan tightened her grip on the console. “Doctor, do something.”
“Don't panic.” A well-placed thump got the time rotor moving.
Lilith, who had been watching with amusement, giggled. “You’re not used to flying without stabilizers, are you?”
“Are they broken in your time?” the Doctor questioned.
“Nope, you just don’t use them.” She snickered. “They’re blue boring-ers, apparently.”
“‘Boring-ers’ isn’t a word,” Turlough pointed out.
Lilith shrugged. “Neither is ‘jiggery-pokery’, ‘wibbly-wobbly’, ‘timey-wimey’, or ‘spacey-wacey’, but he uses those anyway.”
“Are you sure the Doctor’s your father?”
“He gets weird in his old age.”
The Doctor cleared his throat and pulled the materialization lever. The TARDIS materialized as the meteor shower ended.
“Meteorite shower,” he said, poking his head out the doors. “My least favorite sort of weather.” A nearby woman groaned and he ran to help her. “Come along.”
Turlough helped him get her to her feet.
“This way.” Tegan waved them over to the doors. Inside was what Lilith assumed was a medical center. It was a rough and ready stone-built place with one patient lying on the top of a basic metal bunk bed. “In here; over here.”
Turlough and Tegan helped their person into the other bunk bed. A man sat his patient down on a step in the flooring. “We shall need the emergency supplies.”
“Leave it to me,” the Doctor said.
“Oh, thank you, sir.”
The Doctor and Lilith helped him carry the patient forward to another section, where there was a padded examination couch. “I shall need some antiseptic and bandages,” the Doctor instructed. He took off his jacket and handed it to Lilith.
“Look,” said the man, “I'm the Chief Science Officer. Who are—?”
“It would help if we could see what we're doing,” the Doctor interrupted.
The Science Officer snapped his fingers and beckoned an orderly, who held up a green lamp.
Lilith frowned. “A phosphor lamp?”
Turlough took it from the orderly. “These are a terrible fire hazard in this sort of container, you know.”
“Better hold it steady then, hadn't you?” the Doctor said.
“Oh, would you look at that?” Lilith muttered. “He’s rude and not ginger.”
Tegan studied the lamp. “How does it work?”
“Well, it's electron excitation. If you give them a shake, they get a bit brighter.” Turlough shook the lamp.
“Stop that, would you?” The Doctor turned to the officer. “Is this the best you can do?”
He looked at the Doctor, incredulously. “Yes, I'm afraid it is.”
“We need some proper lighting. Turlough, the TARDIS. I'll need the portable mu-field activator.”
“Doctor, you did say—”
“And five of the argon discharge globes.”
Turlough sighed and handed the lamp to Tegan.
“Oh, and all medical supplies,” the Doctor added.
“Anything else?” Turlough asked, almost sarcastically.
“Yes, you'd better give him a hand, Tegan.”
Tegan nodded. “Right-o, Doctor.” She gave the lamp to the officer.
“Don’t even think about it,” Lilith warned him.
A young girl brought over a tray of instruments. “This is my daughter, Norna,” the officer introduced. “And you—”
“Time for social niceties later. Better get started, hmm?”
Lilith raised her eyebrows. ‘You really don’t want to be here, do you?’
‘Get out of my head, Lilith.’
“Yes, well, you'll want soap and water first,” Norna said.
“Yes, good idea,” the Doctor agreed, putting on what the Tenth Doctor had called his ‘brainy specs’. Lilith laughed to herself.
“It's very good of you to help us, Mister…”
The Doctor took off his specs. “I'm not helping, officially. And if anyone happens to ask whether I made any material difference to the welfare of this planet, you can tell them I came and went like a summer cloud.”
He took his coat back from Lilith and noticed some people gathering in the doorway.
“They’re curious to know who you are,” the officer said.
“Perhaps you could ask them to move. They're rather blocking the air.” The Doctor picked up a piece of one of the meteors. “It's interesting. How often do you have meteorite showers?”
“Intermittently. Although the attacks have become more frequent over the last few weeks.
“The attacks?” the Doctor questioned.
“Oh yes. We're at war.”
He suddenly looked interested. “Really? With whom?”
“Well, that has yet to be determined,” the officer admitted. “As you can see, we're helpless.”
“Not if I have anything to do with it. How do you do? I'm the Doctor.” He offered the man his hand.
Lilith rolled her eyes. “So now that there’s a war to prevent, we can get involved.”
The man looked a little surprised at the Doctor’s change in behavior. “Oh, hello. My name is Range.”
Something behind Range caught the Doctor’s eye. “You've been keeping us unnecessarily in the dark, Mister Range. You didn't tell me you had a hydrazine steam generator.”
Lilith narrowed her eyes at it. It looked more like an old-fashioned boiler to her. Then she turned her attention to the Doctor.
His outfit wasn’t as ridiculous as it could be, but that stick of celery was just strange. Did every regeneration have a quirk like that? She wondered. She knew Two had his recorder, Four had his scarf, and Seven had his umbrella. And then there was her linear father’s obsession with bowties and fezzes.
“It's very interesting,” the Doctor was saying as he studied the hydrazine steam generator.
“It used to generate a basic form of energy, but we no longer have any fuel,” Range said. “This planet is without wood or any combustible material.”
“What about the colony ship?” the Doctor questioned. “Must have been brimming with gadgetry.”
“Oh, systems that could rebuild a civilization for us. Failure-proof technology.”
“What happened to it all?”
“My guess,” Lilith said, “it failed. I’ve been on to many unsinkable ships not to know what ‘failure-proof’ really means.”
“She’s right. Nothing survived the crash.”
Tegan ran in. “Doctor! Doctor, something's happened to the TARDIS. The interior door's jammed.”
“As if some tremendous force field’s pulled it out of shape,” Turlough said.
“It couldn't be the impact of landing, could it?” Tegan asked.
“The TARDIS? No, no, no. Probably just some spatial anomaly. You're getting carried away again, Turlough. One thing at a time. Where's the mu-field activator?”
“I'm trying to tell you. It's behind—”
“It's behind the interior door. Yes, of course.” The Doctor looked down at the phosphor lamp. “Excitation.” He shook the lamp.
Turlough protested, “You told me not to do that.”
“Oh, it's risky, but then so is operating in this gloom.”
“Don’t worry, Turlough,” Lilith said. “He doesn’t generally listen to his own advice.”
“Have you ever tried putting a higher voltage across one of these things?” the Doctor asked no one in particular.
“Doctor, the TARDIS!” Tegan insisted.
“Yes. There must be something on this planet capable of sustaining a steady voltage,” the Doctor mused.
Lilith rolled her eyes. “Dad, if there is something wrong with the TARDIS, shouldn’t we make sure she’s alright?” He ignored her.
“Lilith,” Turlough called from the doorway, “coming with us?”
Lilith shook her head. “Can’t. I have to stay with him.”
Tegan, Turlough, and Norna left.
“Tell me about this war, Mister Range,” the Doctor requested.
“Well, Captain Revere assumed that the barrage was some sort of softening up process. Heralding an invasion,” he said.
“So someone else thinks this is their territory?” Lilith asked.
“Frontios was quite deserted when we arrived,” Range said.
“So you did nothing to provoke an attack.”
“No. The few that survived the crash had no time for anything but bare survival. We worked to raise food.”
“Dangerous, surely,” the Doctor pointed out. “Out in the fields with the risk of bombardment.”
“Oh, there was no bombardment then. We had ten years of clear skies to stock the wreck of the colony ship with food, and then it began. Yes, the first missile a little over thirty years ago.”
“Thirty years? Your unknown invaders are certainly taking their time.”
“Unknown no longer, perhaps,” a new young man said. “Could it be that one of them calls himself the Doctor?”
Lilith rocked back on her heels. “Ah, we’ve reached the ‘leadership accuses the Doctor of being evil’ part of the adventure.”
The Doctor frowned. “Does it happen that often?”
“Not as often as you may think.”
“Look,” he said to the young man, “I'm not really here at all, officially. And as soon as I've helped Mister Range with arrangements, we'll be on our way.”
“Do you feel free to come and go as you please?”
“Going, yes, coming, no. We were forced down.”
“I see. You landed during the bombardment and yet you appear unharmed,” the young man said, suspiciously.
“I'm sorry, we didn't know there was a war on. At first we thought it was some sort of meteorite storm.”
“And what do you think now?”
“I think your shelters are totally inadequate and your warning system does nothing but create panic.”
The young man looked affronted. “I did not ask—”
“Your population has already fallen below critical value required for guaranteed growth and you're regularly losing new lives,” the Doctor continued. “I think, and you did ask what I think, I think your colony of Earth people is in grave danger of extinction.”
“Who are you to give me advice?” the man demanded. “I am the son of Captain Revere. The people of Frontios will not be cowed by these mewling words of defeat, Doctor. We may lack the outward appurtenances of might, but we carry our strength within us. We will win the war with the invisible aggressors whose missiles batter on our planet, and we will win the greater battle, the struggle for the future of our race.”
‘Admirable, but I still don’t like him,’ Lilith decided. ‘Can I hit him?’
‘No.’ “Absolutely,” the Doctor said aloud. “I wish you all the luck in the world. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to give you anything much in the way of help.”
“We're under no illusions about that, Doctor,” the young man snapped. “We can see for ourselves the results of your help.”
“The Doctor has helped,” Range insisted. “He's been caring for the sick, and he's going to arrange for some proper light by getting that thing—”
“The hydrazine engine!” He snatched a piece of tech out of the Doctor’s hand. “This invader has interfered with the great gift my father bestowed upon the people of Frontios.”
“I'm sorry,” the Doctor apologized. “I was working out a way of getting some decent light in here.”
“We people of Frontios are vulnerable, Doctor. Desperate, frightened even. But we are not fools.”
Lilith thought he looked like a fool when the Doctor tried again to explain how they had gotten to Frontios.
“No craft the size of yours is capable of traversing the universe,” the young man dismissed.
“If I had a spare millennium I might bring you up to date on time mechanics. Unfortunately, we have this lighting problem and a ward full of people needing medical attention.”
Another person came in and whispered something to the young man, whose name, Lilith caught, was Plantagenet.
“Another bombardment,” Range said, nodding towards the window.
“What? Again?” the Doctor asked.
“There's the darkening of the sky. Oh, it's all right, the Warnsman will sound his klaxon at the first sign.”
“You came with two more accomplices. They have been seen on the colony ship, aided by your treacherous daughter.” The last was aimed at Range.
“Paranoia. Your minds are being eaten away by the scale of the disaster we call Frontios. Can't you see this man is here to help us?”
“I say treachery, Mister Range. Are you guilty too?”
Range walked away, shaking his head.
“You know,” the Doctor said, “we can sort all this out in no time at all if everyone just stays calm. Now please, come and see the TARDIS. As an invasion weapon it's about as offensive as a chicken vol au vent.”
Lilith sighed. “I don’t think the old girl would take kindly to you comparing her to food, Dad.”
They all followed the Doctor outside. “Its lack of armaments can be an embarrassment at times. Oh well, this way.”
They ran into Turlough, who was half carrying on injured man. “Doctor.”
“Oh dear, what have we here?”
“It's the Warnsman,” Plantagenet said.
“Take him to the medical shelter,” the other man, Brazen, ordered.
“Now, what's this?” the Doctor asked Norna and Tegan, referring to what looked like a big bottle of acid on a cinderblock.
“The battery for the lighting,” Norna said.
“Brilliant! Take it inside. Hurry along.” Two orderlies obeyed. “Now, where's the mu-field activator?”
“We told you, Doctor. We couldn't get any further than the console room,” Tegan told him.
A meteor landed somewhere in the distance. “Doctor, can't we continue this conversation under cover?” Turlough suggested.
“Yes, indeed, in the TARDIS.”
One meteor landed nearby and everyone scattered. The four travelers took cover on one side, Brazen and Plantagenet on the other.
“A swift exit, I think. We've had enough of this planet,” the Doctor said.
“No arguments from me,” Lilith mumbled. They made to leave, but another strike drove them back into their hiding place.
“It's getting lighter,” Tegan observed.
“The attack's nearly over. Let's get out of here. Come on, the TARDIS.” They got up and moved out from under the tent.
Lilith’s eyes went wide. “Um, Dad?”
“The TARDIS!” Tegan gasped. “What's happened?”
“It's gone!” exclaimed Turlough.
All that was left was the hat stand.
The Doctor took a deep breath. “The TARDIS has been destroyed.”