The Doctor and Ace had their thumbs out while Lilith stood there with her arms crossed. “I refuse to believe that we are hitchhiking. This is not happening to me, I have a vortex manipulator. What are we hitchhiking for?”
“We don’t know where we’re going, Lilith. We don’t have coordinates.”
Lilith made a face as a car drove straight passed them.
“Don't stop, then! I don't care!” Ace shouted at the car. She stuck her thumb out at another Range Rover coming their way.
“I don't think this'll stop either,” the Doctor said.
“Don't be such a pessimist, Professor.”
The Range Rover stopped and a bearded Irishman called over to them, “Where are you heading?”
“Northeast,” the Doctor replied.
“Right, climb aboard. Come to see the dig, have you?”
The Doctor got in front while ace and Lilith slid into the backseat. “Ah, archaeological dig?”
“Archaeologists,” Lilith snorted.
“Yes, actually,” the driver said. “Oh, sorry, haven't introduced myself. I'm Peter Warmsly. I'm site manager for the Carbury Trust Conservation Area.”
“I'm Ace, and this is the Doctor and Lilith.” Ace shook Warmsly’s hand.
“The dig, as a matter of fact, is a hobby. A battlefield.”
A loud boom came from somewhere to the east. “What was that?” Ace wondered.
“The military use the area as a firing range,” Warmsly said. “Never understood why.”
“Blowing the occasional chunk out of the earth keeps them amused,” said the Doctor.
“Sounds like my sister,” Lilith muttered.
“It didn't sound like a shell,” Ace mused.
They drove on for a few more minutes before stopping. The Doctor, Lilith, and Ace got out and Warmsly drove off. The Doctor checked the wind direction with his finger and brought out a small machine with an antenna and a large knob on the end.
“Professor?” Ace frowned down at a group of military men.
“Yes,” the Doctor mumbled, distractedly. “The transmission's definitely coming from over there.”
“Dad, look.” Lilith turned him around. The beeping from his machine got faster.
“It's a missile convoy,” Ace said.
“A nuclear missile convoy,” the Doctor corrected.
“How do you know?”
“It has a graveyard stench.”
They ducked under a barrier across the track as something crashed to earth nearby. “Didn't sound like a shell,” Ace said again. “More like a couple of rockets.”
“Close,” Lilith murmured.
They hid from running soldiers. “What we need is something to help us.” The Doctor searched his transdimensional pockets. “Wait a minute. Ah yes, of course! I never thought I'd need these again.”
He took a pair of passes from his hat and gave one to Ace. “This should remove a few obstacles.”
Ace looked at the pass. “Who's Elizabeth Shaw? I don't even look like her.”
“Oh, never mind. Just think like a physicist. Lilith, er…”
Lilith took an ID holder out of her pocket and showed him with a smirk.
“Psychic paper?” the Doctor guessed.
Lilith grinned. “Had to swipe it from you before I left my linear TARDIS, but I knew it would come in handy.”
They walked into the UNIT mobile command post. “Excuse me, Brigadier Bambera?” Lilith held up the psychic paper. “I’m Lilith Taylor, scientific advisor for UNIT in New York. These are my associates, Dr. John Smith and Elizabeth Shaw.”
“Now, what seems to be the problem?” the Doctor asked.
“Excuse me?” Bambera demanded.
“Well, you've had an explosion in your electronics, haven't you?”
“An electro-magnetic pulse effect,” Ace said.
“A nuclear explosion, usually.”
“I think I would have noticed a nuclear explosion,” Bambera sniffed.
“Yes, well, they are conspicuous.”
Ace crossed her arms. “Well, if there was no nuke, where did the energy pulse come from?”
“All systems failures were the result of a minor technical difficulty.” Bambera held up the UNIT passes. “I don't know where you got these from, but I intend to find out. Show these two out.”
“I'd just like to say three things,” the Doctor said.
“What?” Bambera sighed, exasperated.
“Yeti, Autons, Daleks.” Then he added, “Cybermen, and Silurians!” He and Ace left.
Bambera turned to Lilith. “Now, you can help, Miss Taylor?”
“Do you know who the Doctor is?” Lilith questioned.
“Then you’re of no use to me. How can you be a part of UNIT and not know the Doctor? He was right; Lethbridge-Stewart was a far better Brigadier than you.” Lilith turned on her heel and ran to catch up to the Doctor and Ace.
“Weren’t you going to stay and help?” the Doctor asked.
Lilith rolled her eyes. “You should know by now that you’re not going anywhere without me.”
“Nothing has changed in the last seven hundred years.”
“Good to know I’m consistent,” Lilith said. “So, the Yeti. That was your second regeneration, right? The first time you met the Brigadier?”
“If my memory serves.”
Bambera ushered them into a car.
“We could have walked to the hotel, you know,” The Doctor said as they drove passed the TARDIS.
“No problem. I thought you'd like to see Vortigern's Lake.”
“Vortigern. That's an interesting name.”
“Yeah, fascinating,” Ace said, sarcastically.
“What's your name, by the way?” the Doctor asked.
“Brigadier Winifred Bambera.”
‘Winifred?’ Lilith mouthed to Ace, who shrugged.
“There are many secrets in names. Vortigern is old British for High King,” the Doctor informed them.
Ace looked at Bambera. “Your convoy's stranded by the lake of the High King.”
They reached the inn where a young Asian woman was getting out of a car and the Doctor raised his hat to her. Bambera drove off again. The Doctor, Lilith, and Ace went inside to the bar.
A man was clearing glasses off a table. “Can I help you?”
“Yes. I'd like to book two rooms,” the Doctor said. “One for myself and one for my two young friends here.”
“Yes, sir. Long journey?”
“Er, quite a distance, as it happens.”
“Then you'll be having a drink, sir?” the man asked.
“Yes, please,” Ace said.
“Why not. What do you have?”
“What we have, sir, is possibly the finest beer in the area, even if I do say so myself. Perhaps the best in the country,” the man bragged.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. “Really?”
“He makes it himself in a converted barn at the end of the garden,” the Asian woman said.
“It's in the CAMRA guide. We call it Arthur's Ale.”
“Vodka and coke, Pat,” she ordered.
“Glass of water, please,” the Doctor said. “Lilith? Ace?”
“Iced water, if you can.”
“Oh, vodka and—”
“Ace,” the Doctor warned.
Ace sighed. “Lemonade, please.”
The woman smiled. “Good choice.”
“Anything but the beer.”
“Hello, I'm The Doctor.” The Doctor shook her hand. “This is my friend, Ace, and my daughter, Lilith.”
“There we are, sir,” Pat said, putting down the glasses. “Five pounds, please.”
Ace frowned. “How much?”
“This is 1997, Ace,” Lilith reminded her. “Even the near future is a whole different planet.”
The Doctor tipped a bag of various objects onto the counter, rummaged through it, then handed Pat a coin. “There, a five pound piece.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Shou picked up a circular object with moving legs. The Doctor plucked it from her hand. “Do you mind? It's a very valuable piece of coinage.”
Lilith crossed her arms. “Dad, was that an ancient Transic cort?”
“Of course not, Lilith. Don’t be ridiculous.”
“So you've met Peter?” Shou asked.
“Mm,” the Doctor confirmed. “Very knowledgeable fellow.”
“That’s one way of putting it. He's got this thing about King Arthur. Digs things up out of the ground by the lake.”
“Well, he is an archaeologist,” Lilith pointed out, making a face.
Shou shrugged. “Can't see it myself, all that patient scraping about. You know, I get the urge to bung half a kilo of TNT down the hole and bring it all up in one go.”
“Now you're talking!” Ace laughed.
“The point of archaeology is to carefully recover the past, not disintegrate it,” the Doctor said.
“Wouldn't make much difference. The only half decent thing Peter's ever found is that scabbard.” Shou nodded to an old brass-edged scabbard hanging by the fireplace, which had 1684 carved into it. The Doctor went over to examine it.
“You could use something with more brisance,” Ace suggested.
“More brisance? Than trinitrotoluene? Like what?”
“Tell you outside.”
“He gets upset when I talk about explosives.”
Lilith snorted. “A bit hypocritical of him.”
“Why’s that?” Ace asked.
“Hating explosives? You know, he met my mother when he blew up the building she worked in.”
Ace’s eyes widened. “Seriously?”
“Cross my hearts.” Lilith got up and went over to where the Doctor was studying the scabbard.
“Interesting, isn't it?” asked the blind woman in a nearby chair.
The Doctor hummed in agreement.
“I wish I could see what it looks like. I can feel its presence sometimes. Touch it.”
The Doctor touched the scabbard. “My, it's hot. No, no. Now it's cold.”
“Every so often I get the strangest feeling about it,” the woman said.
“What kind of feeling?” Lilith questioned.
“Oh, that it's waiting for something. Stupid, really.”
“Waiting for something, or someone,” the Doctor murmured.
‘Someone?’ Lilith wondered.
‘You never know.’
‘You know something,’ she accused.
‘Nothing for sure. Not yet.’
Lilith hesitated. ‘That woman, Shou, she said that Warmsly’s a King Arthur nut. There’s something I should probably tell you.’
Warmsly stormed into the inn. “Elizabeth! Ah, I need to use your telephone. The one in my car isn't working.”
Elizabeth, who was cleaning the counter, pushed a candlestick phone to him. He spoke at it.
“Yes. Call. External. Sedgewick. Carbury Trust.”
“Mister Warmsly, just the person,” the Doctor said. “This scabbard.”
“The line's dead.” Warmsly muttered.
“This scabbard. Where did you find it?”
“Here, locally. Why?”
“Where?” he questioned.
“For the scabbard's worth—”
“Ten of the sword,” the Doctor finished.
Warmsly nodded. “Said Merlin. Yeah. Hey, careful with it. It was found here, at the dig by the lake.
The Doctor took the scabbard from the wall. “What period?”
Warmsly hung it back up. “Does it matter? Eighth century AD.”
“No, no, no. It's been waiting around longer than that.”
“Okay, the scabbard was waiting,” Lilith allowed. “But for what?”
The sound of a loud explosion rang through the air. Lilith and the Doctor ran outside to where Ace was talking to Shou. “We'd better get the Doctor.”
There was a smoking hole in the barn roof. “Good idea,” the Doctor said. “Did you see it?”
“And?” he prompted.
“It looked like a bloke.”
“A bloke,” the Doctor repeated. “Flying through the air?”
“And then through a wall,” Lilith added.
Once outside the brewery, the Doctor turned to Ace and Shou. “You two stay here.”
Ace rolled her eyes. “Be serious, Professor.”
“What's going on?” Shou questioned.
“You'd better ask the Professor.”
“What's going on?”
The Doctor and Lilith put their fingers to their lips. Lilith winked and they all went inside. It was dark.
“I can't see anything.”
Someone, not one of the four who had just entered, groaned. The Doctor found the light switch and flicked it. A knight in full armor was sitting against a vat.
“Is it an android?” Ace asked.
The Doctor poked it with his umbrella, and then touched it carefully. “No, it's a human.” He took off the helmet to reveal a blond man, who opened his eyes and stared.
“Merlin. Against all hope.”
The Doctor looked surprised and Lilith bit her lip. “Um, Dad? About what I was saying earlier…”
“You've got it wrong, mate,” Ace said. “This is the Doctor.”
The knight removed his plate armor to reveal chain mail. “Oh, he has many faces, but in my reckoning, he is Merlin.”
“You recognize my face, then?” the Doctor questioned.
“No, not your aspect, but your manner that betrays you. Do you not ride the ship of time? Does it not deceive the senses being larger within than out? Merlin, cease these games and tell me truly, is this the time?”
“Time for what?”
“Thou dost not know? Truly?”
“Do you think he'd be asking if he did, tin head?” Ace snapped.
“Why, the answer to Excalibur's call. The time of restitution; the time when Arthur rises to lead the Britons to war.”
“Vortigern's Lake, of course!” the Doctor said, excitedly. “Can you walk?”
“Can someone tell me what on Earth is going on?” Shou asked.
The Doctor helped the knight to his feet. “Well, if my hunch is right, the Earth could be at the center of a war that doesn't even belong to this dimension.”
Lilith flinched at the mention of a different dimension, not liking the reminder of where she had been in the past and where she was going in the future.
Bambera burst in with a machine gun. “Freeze! Everyone stand nice and easy.”
“Listen, Winifred. We've got to be somewhere urgently, so please get out of the way.”
“You're all under arrest. You and your freaky friends.”
“Who are you calling freaky?” Ace demanded.
Lilith’s hand drifted toward her blaster, but the Doctor stilled her arm. “I can sort this out,” he insisted. “Look, if I can just explain.”
Another group of knights came in. “Kill them!” the leader ordered. “Kill them now!”
Lilith swore in Gallifreyan.