The Doctor stared at Johnson. For a moment they gazed at each other and neither were going to concede to the other. They stood like animals waiting for the opportunity to pounce and flight, weighing each other up and looking for a gap in the other's defence.
A noise came to them and they suddenly turned to find themselves facing the Dalek. A look of shock and surprise fell over them. The Dalek fired a shot. It cracked the air and struck the floor at their feet, driving them back. They stumbled over each other trying to get away and eventually the Dalek became too close for them to run any further.
'It's going to kill us!' Johnson moaned.
The Doctor had stopped cowering and stood upright over the war 'tank'. 'No,' he said levelly, 'It could easily have done that if it wanted to.' The Doctor stepped forward and bent down until he was peering down the Dalek's eyestalk. Both held their ground, the atmosphere was thick, almost unbreathable.
'Leave!' the Dalek grated coldly, 'Leave at once!'
'Are you alright, old thing?' the Doctor asked chattingly, 'You don't sound your usual self.'
'You will leave!' If you stay, you will be killed. This is your final warning!'
Johnson skipped up behind the Doctor, using him as a shield. He tapped the Doctor on the shoulder and hissed, 'That wasn't a Dalek voice.'
'No, it wasn't,' the Doctor replied, 'It was far too broken and weak for a conqueror from any planet.'
A bright idea suddenly came to Johnson and he laughed unconvincingly, 'It's one of my crew having a joke!' and called out, 'Reegan! Willis! Is that you?'
The Doctor bolstered Johnson's support and marched forward. 'Let's get this Dalek machine open. Help me lift the lid, would you?'
The Dalek did not attempt to escape, but stayed exactly where it was. The Doctor felt around the edges of the dome which sprouted the eye stalk until he snagged hold of the release catches.
Positioning the dome correctly he snapped the catches upwards and the dome became free, Awkwardly, the Doctor pulled upwards and lifted it clear.
The Dalekanium from which it was made was heavy and armoured inside as well as out. He dropped the object to the floor and looked inside the machine. A look of revulsion crossed his face and he turned away for a moment before glancing back.
Johnson leaned over ignorantly and instantly regretted doing so. It was a full grown creature, blue skinned and covered with large pores in its skin. A number of tentacles stretched outwards, wrapped around controls of varying designs. It was as large as a human torso, and on its top were two large staring eyes which peered down the tube which was previously connected to the eye stalk. It was dead.
The skin had broken open in a number of places, as thou an intense pressure had been applied, and the innards leaked over the motor sensors built into the casing. The eyes had turned yellow and were bulging outwards, spilling to one side of the creatures face. It was like a mass of jumbled entrails wrapped in a bag that was too small to hold the amount present. The blue skin was fading, and a sharp stench filled the air, far worse than any that the Doctor could remember.
Johnson held his stomach, blurting, 'Look at the putrefaction! It's almost dissolved!'
'Yes,' the Doctor agreed unsteadily, this Dalek has been dead for months. Disgusting, isn't it?' he added unnecessarily.
'I don't get it thou,' Johnson continued, 'How did that thing move around?'
The Doctor shook his head. 'IT, didn't!' he insisted. 'The life force gained some sort of control over the machinery in the casing. Then, all it needed to do was motor the thing around and force the remnants of the Dalek's vocal chords to speak for it.' He glanced at the machine, assured that it would not do anything now. 'Should we leave?'
Johnson retrieved the dome and replaced it on top of the machine. With a small amount of coaxing it clicked into place. Johnson kicked the Dalek and turned to the Doctor.
'We've got several hours,' he said, 'I don't see why we should at the moment.' He looked at the Doctor waiting in hope of the answer he wanted. 'You don't look as if you want to leave anyway.' he noted.
'Like I said,' the Doctor replied immediately, 'I want to know what happened here, and that includes a good look at the alien life-force.'
Johnson's hand flicked to his gun belt. 'What's your connection to all this?' he demanded.
The Doctor shook his head and rolled his eyeballs. 'You still don't trust me, do you?'
Johnson crept closer, his hand matching the contours of the pistol. He was shaking slightly, and an unsettled fear crossed his features. He snapped, 'You came part and parcel of this place. How can I trust you? So far one of my crew has been killed, I've nightmares come true, and you still think you're controlling the whole damned mission!'
The Doctor waved with a dismissive gesture turned on his heels and began to walk off down the corridor. 'I only do what I think is right. I'm a traveller, so I don't get tied up with personal concerns. I'm not ignoring the death of your crewmate, but I will never give up because of it.'
'Traveller? From where?'
The Doctor continued walking in a straight line, refusing to answer. Johnson's blood pressure leapt severely and he drew the gun out of its holster.'I could have killed you, and still could, Doctor!' he shouted, 'And no-one will know about it!' He began to fluster, sweat poured off his brow. 'Tell me all you know. We could share the credit for any discovery that's made!'
There was no response.
'Damn you, Doctor, this is serious! Answer me!' he pleaded, 'Don't be so ignorant that you'll just carry on alone without my help, because you need us to back you up!'
An insane fever gripped his brow and he activated his pistol, set it to kill and aimed it at the Doctor's back. 'Stop! Or I'll shoot you now!' he screamed in desperation.
The Doctor heard the whine of the now working gun and stopped. He turned to face Johnson and found himself looking at a frightened man with a gun in his hand that could go off at any moment. Johnson didn't know what he was doing.
'You wouldn't shoot,' the Doctor said soothingly.
'No,' the Doctor replied shaking his head, 'Guns scare you...live by the sword...'
Johnson fired a single shot over the Doctor's head. He began to run towards the strange figure who had dived to the floor.
'You're the only one who'll die!' Johnson laughed insanely. He reached the Doctor's prostrate form and covered him. As he tried to get up, Johnson grabbed his left lapel with his free hand and threw him against the wall. He rammed the nozzle of the gun against one of the Doctor's temples. 'Shall we work together, or will you be wanting an early retirement?'
'It seems I haven't any choice,' the Doctor mumbled.
Johnson pulled the pistol away and stepped back. The Doctor slowly got to his feet and raised his hands. Johnson waved them down and replaced the pistol into his holster. The Doctor relaxed a little.
'Alright,' the Doctor conceded, 'We stay here, agreed?'
'And we make decisions together,' Johnson intoned, 'Agreed?'
'And you'll keep your gun in your holster, agreed?'
'Because I wont need to use it again, agreed?'
The Dalek had gone. During the battle of words it had disappeared back to where it had come from. A faint hiss could be heard in the distance.
'Is that gas?' Johnson asked.
'I don't think so.'
The floor began to tremble. The Doctor spotted a tannoy speaker on the wall and pointed. He said it was the sound of static in the system. A faint sound was starting to rise above the random noise.
'It's trying to communicate with us,' the Doctor said.
The sound became more audible.
The two walked towards the speaker as the voice's strained whisper built to a loud crescendo.
'Leave me. Leave me! LEAVE ME!'
Down in the lower levels three crew members had assembled themselves into a group and were taking stock of their surroundings. Elson had established himself as the temporary leader of the group and had then been able to lead his subordinates, Matthews and Gilbert on a trek further down inside the underground chambers. They had noticed that the further down the corridors they were, the walls were less and less damaged.
Breaches became warps, and they in turn became solid, smooth and untouched. Eventually they had reached what seemed to be an area untouched by the force. The focal point of the corridor was a door which was uniform and bland, with a control panel to the left designed for specific Dalek control. When Elson had at first seen the door he was surprised to see it as it was.
'Look at it!' he breathed, 'There's hardly a scratch on iit, nothing like the others we've seen.'
'How about getting it open?' Matthews asked.
Gilbert shrugged and stepped back. 'Should we?'
Elson knew what he wanted. 'Get on with it,' he ordered, 'Go on!'
Captain Johnson and the Doctor made their way up to the control room. They discussed what should be their next course of action. Johnson was stubborn, intending that the mission should be completed at all costs. Similarly, the Doctor did not want to leave either, his curiosity was fully aroused. However, being alien and therefore almost outside normal concerns he questioned his motives, and thus Johnson's.
Johnson wouldn't discuss it, seeing it as a form of surrender that he never got in his day.
'It wants to leave us in peace,' the Doctor insisted.
'I'm not going,' Johnson replied and clammed up, refusing to say more.
The Doctor suppressed a smile. It was the reaction that he had really wanted, but he was still unsure whether Johnson was continuing for the best motives. The Doctor did not doubt his own.
Johnson's communicator beeped and he answered the call gruffly.
'It's the Daleks in the control room, sir,' the voice panicked loudly, 'They've just been seen on their way down through the lower levels. Two are dead after they were exterminated, sir. There were seven of them. They're all on the loose!'
Elson forced the door. It slid aside easily, he sensed that the grease was still fresh after all this time, but dismissed the thought soon after. How could it be?
The room beyond was dark and the air was fresh. He ordered the torch to be taken in ahead of himself. No point in all of us dying, he thought. The scene it illuminated was astonishing. Computer consoles of incredibly complex design covered every wall. Cables sprouted from every plug and socket, across the room, and into the devices set within a circle at the centre of the room.
They were scanning devices, all of them capable of picking up totally different and subtler radiation waves. Prongs extended towards the centre with uncanny precision, as if holding a wild animal at bay. At the centre of all this was a black stone. It was about three metres high and had an immediate shape of an oblong set upright, but corners along its length were squared off at forty-five degrees to each plane. This was done similarly around the structures base and summit. It was jet black, and reflected a parody of images on each surface. It stood with stoic difference, and dominated the equipment around itself.
The three stepped back gingerly. Elson was sure that he could hear something, very faintly, like a hum or a sigh from the lips of a soul waking from a deep sleep.
'We'd better inform the Captain,' Elson remarked cautiously.