ESPIONAGE ON ICE
By Margaret Price
Author's notes for the beginning of Chapter One.
This story takes place around an actual event. On May 28, 1983, the Grímsvötn volcano located within the western part of the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland erupted and continued to erupt until June 1. The eruption was preceded by minor earthquake activity that began in December 1982 - March 1983 and increased gradually in April and May.
Therein ends reality. I have taken serious liberties when it comes to topography and location. But hey, that’s why they call it fiction.
Several Million Years Ago, There Was A Crash
Deep space was a cold, empty place. Endless expanses of nothingness between the sprawling galaxies, their enormous spiral arms seeming to hang motionless in the black void. A billion suns scattered throughout the ever expanding universe. It was an awe inspiring sight that was completely beyond the comprehension of the small reconnaissance drone’s programming.
The drone moved through deep space, searching out a suitable target, its programming clear on the exact parameters required. Strategic location in the galaxy it approached was paramount, followed by a suitable atmosphere. The presence of any intelligent life was of no consequence unless any advanced technology was detected. And if it was, it would be eradicated.
The drone’s sensors activated automatically as it approached the third planet in the system. The blue-green planet had abundant life, none of which registered as possessing any technology. The atmosphere was clean and unpolluted, which only served to verify the lack of advanced technology. There was also an abundance of water, covering nearly two-thirds of the planet’s surface. An added bonus, which the drone logged and highlighted.
The drone moved in closer, its recording program dutifully collecting the data on this seemingly ideal location.
Suddenly the tiny ship shuddered, an internal alarm sounding. The sensors evaluated the source of the problem and attempted to compensate. The drone had ventured too close to the planet and was now caught in its gravitational pull. More systems kicked in, attempting to correct the orbital trajectory.
The outer skin of the ship started to glow as it skimmed along the planet’s upper atmosphere. Internal systems started to overheat. More alarms sounded, and an automatic distress call went out as the craft moved into the atmosphere, flames erupting around it.
Were there anyone on the ground at the time, they would have seen the alien spaceship falling as a fireball from the sky and crashing on to the ice covered surface of a large island in the planet’s Northern Hemisphere. Steam rose in huge plumbs around the superheated craft, the ice turning to water boiling up around it. As the glacial ice cooled the skin of the damaged vessel, it slowly sank into its depths, eventually vanishing from view.
As the years turned to decades and then millennia, the alien craft became buried further in the ice, becoming part of the landscape, forgotten by its creators and undiscovered by the lifeforms that eventually evolved on the blue-green planet that was later called Earth.
Treasure Buried In The Ice
It was just another earthquake.
Well, not even an earthquake.
Just a tremor.
These were the thoughts that went through the seismologist’s mind as the tremor from the Grímsvötn caldera in Iceland’s glacial ice cap of Vatnajökull was recorded. It was May of 1983, and they had been recording activity since December. And, after all, earthquakes were not exactly unheard of in Iceland.
“What’s happening, Eric?” a voice asked, bringing the man back to reality.
Eric turned, seeing his supervisor standing over him. He nodded in the direction of the device. “Another tremor on Grímsvötn,” he replied blandly.
His supervisor frowned at the readings. “Looks like the volcano’s getting restless, doesn’t it?”
Eric shrugged. The Grímsvötn caldera was located in the western part of the ice cap. An ice cap that was the largest in Europe and not exactly the most accessible. “Should we warn those volcanologists that their pet project might literally blow up in their faces?”
“I have a feeling they’re painfully aware of that, Eric,” came the amused reply. “Anyway, they’re getting daily updates.”
“What good that will do. Since when can anyone predict a volcanic eruption?”
* * *
The tremor that Eric’s machinery had detected had been felt by the team investigating the ice cap. The caldera lake was covered by an ice shelf nearly two-hundred metres thick, so studying it “up close” was a bit of a joke.
The theory at the time was that the tremors were being caused by brittle failure of the crust above and around an inflating magma chamber. The hope of the team was that this might cause cracks to form in the ice field that would allow them to take samples from deep within the glacier.
It was the day of this particular tremor that a large fissure was discovered in the ice field. It was several kilometers long; ten metres deep at its shallowest point, and several hundred metres at its deepest.
While this discovery was exciting initially, it paled in comparison to what the team discovered when they ventured within. In one area, protruding from the ice wall, was what looked like a space ship. Were it not for the fact the “craft” was still partially buried in the ancient ice layer, the team leader would have called it a hoax. Perhaps the area had melted and refrozen after the eruption of 1972.
A battery of photographs were taken and immediately sent off along with a report of the finding, although the team leader had his doubts as to whether anyone would believe a word of it.
He could not have imagined what was to follow.
* * *
The photographs taken by the volcanology team did more that grab the attention of their recipients. They grabbed the attention of several government agencies. Within hours of their appearance in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, the news of their existence, and that of the spaceship they purported to show, was being broadcast through an elaborate spy network.
Within forty-eight hours, copies of the photographs and report appeared in the Headquarters of the KGB in Moscow, NATO in Bonn, and UNIT in Geneva. The head of the latter of these agencies was the least skeptical, as alien incursions and artefacts had been the purview of UNIT for more than twenty years. The KGB and NATO, however, were more interested the military implications of the artefact. Each was determined to get hold of the object before the other. And if this meant killing anyone who got in their way, than so be it.
* * *
The Chief of NATO headquarters in Bonn, West Germany sat looking at the report with more than a little skepticism. Alien artefact indeed, he thought. He had been contacted by a Colonel Crichton, the head of UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, in London. They did not hit it off as the Colonel practically ordered NATO to steer clear of the operation.
Just thinking about the conversation made the Chief’s blood boil. “Stay out of our way,” the Colonel had said. God damn limey! Who did he think he was, ordering him around like that?
The Chief looked down at the file. He would have to assign someone to investigate this matter and retrieve whatever items could be compromised by the KGB. A small smile came to his face as the candidate came to mind. He would send Iron Klaus and kill two birds with one stone.
In his last mission that involved NATO’s cooperation with UNIT nearly three years ago, Iron Klaus, Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach had had the audacity to survive a gunshot wound that should have been fatal. As bad as that was, he had also been recommended for a commendation by the then head of UNIT, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Everyone had congratulated the Chief on having such a remarkable agent, while inwardly he wished the man were dead.
Now, perhaps, he might get his wish. He sent for the Major and sat humming a happy tune as he waited. With luck, the man would take all the annoying alphabets with him and get the whole lot of them killed in one stroke.
* * *
The Major appeared at the door to the Chief’s office and his superior just glared at him, his good mood evaporating. Iron Klaus. Damn the man, did he never change! He had worked with him for how many years now, and he looked as thin and muscular as he had the first time he’d laid eyes on him. While he himself was working on another belt size around his middle.
Having observed his Chief’s obvious ill temper, the Major casually took a puff on his cigarette, moving a stray strand of his long dark hair out of his face. “You sent for me?” he said blandly, knowing his tone would irritate the man further.
“Don’t just stand there!” the Chief snapped. “Sit down. You have an assignment.”
The Major listened as his assignment was laid out, silently puffing away on his cigarette. Iceland. A glacier in Iceland. Why not just make it the North Pole and have done with it? He eyed the Chief, reflecting that he would make a good Santa Claus and should be shipped of the North Pole on permanent assignment.
“Do you have any questions, Major?” the Chief asked, trying and failing to keep the joy from his voice.
“When do we leave?” the Major asked coolly.
“Immediately, if not sooner. Who will you be taking?”
“I’ll need agents A, B and Z, I should think,” the Major replied. His operative agents were designated by letter and were appropriately referred to as the alphabets. “I’ll leave Agent G to run things while I’m away.” Seeing the gleam in his superior’s eye, he snapped, “And keep your lecherous ass away from him so he can keep this place from falling apart while I’m gone!”
The Chief gave a derisive snort. The Major rose to his feet, flicking the ash from his cigarette all over the papers on the desk before leaving.
“I hope you die from frostbite!” the Chief yelled as the door was slammed in his face.
Summoned by UNIT
“Doctor, I don’t believe this,” Jason was protesting. “We’ve been trying to get to Earth for how many years and now that we finally manage it, you’re telling me we have to go back?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m telling you,” the Doctor replied firmly. He was standing in front of an open roundel in the TARDIS console room. Inside was an odd looking device he had told his companion was a space-time telegraph. It had a stream of tape issuing forth, a portion of which was in the Time Lord’s hands. He had left a twin to the device with UNIT HQ in London, having giving specific instructions that it not be used except in an emergency.
Jason gave him a dubious look. He and the Doctor had only just left the Earth after assisting in a combined effort of UNIT and NATO to remove and destroy an alien device that could have annihilated all life on the planet. It had been the Alterran’s first visit to Earth and had come about after years of abortive attempts.
It seemed to Jason that only minutes had passed after the TARDIS dematerialized that the device in the roundel had sprung to life. After reading the message, the Doctor announced they were returning to Earth.
“Are you sure that’s not the message Alistair said he was sending?” Jason challenged.
“It isn’t from Alistair,” the Doctor informed startlingly. “It’s from a Colonel Crichton in the year 1983.”
Jason scowled. “How far out is that from when we left?”
The Doctor was already at the control console resetting the coordinates. “About three years, give or take a month or two.”
The Doctor looked up and grinned. “Just look on the bright side, Jason. You’ll finally get to use your new UNIT paperwork.”
“Double swell,” his companion replied unenthusiastically. “Now I get to be shot at all over again.”
The Doctor gave him a disapproving look.
Jason pulled out the UNIT paperwork and frowned down at it. “This won’t be expired by then, will it?”
Before the Doctor could reply, the room was filled with the sound of the TARDIS materializing. The time rotor nestled into the center of the central control console. “Well, you’ll be able to find out. We’ve arrived.” He pulled the door lever, opening the exterior door. He took a long frock coat from the hat stand near the door and put it on, winding an impossibly long scarf around his neck before striding out the doors.
Jason sighed, looking down at himself. Might as well change too. His body shimmered as he transmuted, his clothing going from shorts and a tee-shirt to a light-colored long sleeve shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. This will have to do, the Alterran thought before following the Doctor out of the TARDIS.
* * *
As Jason sat listening to Colonel Crichton explaining the situation to the Doctor, he found himself wondering if the man was deliberately ignoring him or if he had somehow managed to finally master the art of invisibility along with his ability to transmute. After the Doctor had introduced him as his traveling companion, the Colonel had not even graced him with a sideways glance. Granted, he had taken on the appearance of a nineteen year old human male, Jason thought, but that did not give the man the right to summarily dismiss his presence in the room. He ran a hand through his tangle of black curls, and gave a loud sigh.
“Are we boring you, young man?” the Colonel asked sharply, finally turning to look at him.
Jason gave him an innocent look and then looked around. “Oh, are you talking to me, Colonel?” he said astringently. “I thought I’d become invisible.”
The Doctor cleared his throat and gave his companion a warning look. It was ignored.
“It’s bad enough that I have to sit through this epic tale of espionage that could easily have been related in a few sentences,” Jason said as he got to his feet. “But to be summarily dismissed as insignificant is insufferably rude. I’ve met lunatics with better manners than you.”
The Colonel’s mouth dropped open in amazement. “Is this boy always so…blunt, Doctor?”
“This boy,” Jason replied sharply, “is more than twice your age, Colonel.”
The Doctor nodded when the officer turned to him for confirmation. “He’s over a hundred, in fact,” he said mildly.
“I would think the man running UNIT would realize that not everyone who appears human actually is. Especially when that someone happens to be with the Doctor,” the Alterran snapped angrily. He threw a glance in the Doctor’s direction. “Since you obviously don’t need me, I’m going back to the TARDIS. I have work to do in my lab.” He did not wait for a reply and stormed from the room.
* * *
When the Doctor returned to the TARDIS, he found his companion in his lab sorting though his herb collection and recording his most recent acquisitions. K-9 was at his feet, happily supplying any pertinent information as to classification.
“You were a bit hard on the Colonel, don’t you think?” the Time Lord observed mildly.
Jason looked up, his blue eyes seeming to glow as they caught the light. “Maybe. I’m just so sick of—” He broke off, wondering how his friend would take what he had to say. “No offence, Doctor, but I’m getting tired of playing second fiddle to you all the time. I have been around a long time and I do have a brain in my head, y’know.”
The Doctor gave him a knowing look. “You’ll pardon my saying this, but I think your blueblood is showing just a tad.”
The Alterran’s eyes flickered. He was an aristocrat by birth and had an agreement with the Doctor to keep his “Lord Krystovan” persona in mothballs during his time in the TARDIS. “You don’t have to be a Marquis to recognize a boor, Doctor.”
“At least he didn’t accuse you of being an American this time round.”
Jason could not help but smile at this. For some inexplicable reason, the TARDIS telepathy circuits, which translated the spoken language on whatever planet they happened to land, had chosen to give Jason what would be considered an American accent on Earth. And very probably everywhere else they had landed, he reflected.
“So, now what? Is it off to Iceland for us?” Jason asked as he pushed his collection aside.
The smile on the Doctor’s face broadened. “No, actually. We have one stop to make first.”
His companion’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. There was something in his friend’s tone that made him weary. “And…” he said guardedly. “Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like where we’re going?”
“According to Colonel Crichton, we may well find ourselves up against the KGB again.”
“Oh, this just gets better and better,” Jason moaned. “I thought you said the Cold War ended in the future. Glasnost, perestroika and all that.”
“I’m afraid we’re three years from start of the thaw in the Cold War,” the Doctor replied. “And old Mikhail doesn’t take office for another two years.”
“So, the KGB are still a bunch of gun toting thugs.”
“That’s putting it bluntly, but yes.”
“Let me find my bullet proof vest, then,” Jason said as he got down from his stool.
The Doctor turned, leading the way out the door. “Actually, that’s not the problem.”
“Getting shot at isn’t a problem?”
“The problem is they may already have the artefact in their possession.”
Jason nodded. This made sense. “And…”
The Doctor threw a quick look over his shoulder. “We may need help stealing it back.”
Jason stopped dead in his tracks. “Doctor, you don’t mean…?”
“Mean what?” came the Doctor’s amused voice from out in the corridor.
“If you tell me we’re going to the North Downs, I may have to do you an injury.”
“Alright. I won’t tell you.” This was followed by a delighted laugh.
Jason closed his eyes and groaned. “Someday, Doctor, I will kill you,” he said as he vanished through the door.
We Need A Favor
“I can not believe I’m back here again,” Jason remarked as the Doctor pulled up to the front of Castle Gloria in the North Downs.
Despite the fact that it had been nearly three years for those on Earth, for the Doctor and Jason it had been only a day. Their last adventure had involved having to steal some alien artefacts resembling simple, Earth objects. They had been assisted in this by Eroica, an international art thief whom many considered the best in the world. He also happened to be the Earl of Gloria, was openly homosexual and quite possibly the most outrageous personality Jason had ever encountered.
The adventure had not only been nearly fatal to Major Eberbach, it had come very close to costing Eroica his life as well. It was only due of Jason’s incredible skill as a surgeon that either man survived at all. The event had been very traumatic emotionally for the Alterran, and the Doctor had indulged his desire to remain on Earth long enough to take in some sites and center himself again. After nearly a month, Jason had announced that he was sufficiently recovered to continue traveling in time and space—only to have to turn around and return to the scene of the crime, as it were.
“Look on the bright side, Jason. You know what to expect this time.”
“That’s what’s worrying me.”
The Doctor laughed. “Jason, Dorian may not even remember us. It has been three years, you know.” He went straight to the door and rang the bell.
Jason actually laughed at this. “Doctor, you are as unforgettable as Dorian.”
A servant came to the door and looked the pair up and down with a distinct air of distaste. “May I help you?”
“Then again, I could be wrong,” Jason said under his breath.
“Is Lord Gloria in residence?” the Doctor asked politely.
“His lordship is not receiving visitors,” the servant replied and started to shut the door.
“Oh, he’ll see us,” the Doctor said happily and pushed passed the astonished servant, striding into the foyer, his apologetic companion following behind him.
“Sir, I must protest!”
“Oh, must you?”
The servant blinked, uncertain how to respond to this.
“Now, just be a good chap and tell Lord Gloria that the Doctor and Jason are here to see him,” the Doctor ordered.
By this time the servant had recovered himself and was trying unsuccessfully to steer the Time Lord back to the door. “Sir, I’ve already told you, his lordship is not receiving visitors.”
The Doctor neatly extracted himself from the servant and turned to his companion. “You aristocrats are a touchy lot.”
“Don’t look at me. Our agreement notwithstanding, I rarely use my title,” the Alterran replied. He looked around the large open space. “I’ll bet sound carries well in here,” he observed mischievously.
A smile started to blossom on the Doctor’s face. “Just call out, you think?”
“Why not? We’ll take a page out of Dorian’s book and go for broke,” Jason said, looking the Doctor in the eye.
The smile on the Time Lord’s face widened. “A deep breath and on the count of three…”
* * *
Eroica was in an office on the second floor listening to his accountant, James, who was happily extolling the windfall profit that had been made after his last thief. Apparently, a painting that Eroica had removed from the home of some minor peer of the realm had another hidden inside that was worth more than the work he had stolen.
Eroica had heard the car pull up, giving it only enough notice to glance toward the window. Then he became aware of a disturbance going on downstairs and went to the door, hearing voices from the entryway. Before he could get annoyed that the orders he had given not to be disturbed had been ignored, he heard two voices calling out, “Dorian!”
“What was that?” James demanded. He was a nervous individual as it was, and the unexpected voices severely rattled him.
“I appear to have visitors,” Eroica replied, pulling the door open.
“What if it’s that dreadful Major again?”
“I doubt he would be singing my name at the top of his voice,” Eroica observed aridly. “More like he’d be screaming my name between obscenities.”
The voices called a second time just as he appeared at the top of the stairs. “What is all this—?” His visitors turned to face him, and Eroica felt his heart miss a beat.
* * *
Once the Earl had gotten over his shock of seeing two ghosts suddenly appear at his front door after nearly three years, he ordered tea on the veranda and had his unexpected guests join him.
The Doctor laid out exactly why they were there and what they needed him to do. He then asked pointblank if he would help.
Eroica sat back in his chair, idly twirling one of his long blond curls around a finger.
As the thief thought things over, Jason reflected that he had not changed at all in the three years that had passed in a blink. He was still the young, well-build man he had seen descending the main staircase in his outrageous persona of the Earl of Gloria. He also still had the most amazing mop of long blond hair that the Alterran had ever seen. The only thing that he had not done since their arrival was make any kind of overt sexual advances, and Jason wondered if this was because the Iron Major was not around to be appalled by it.
“Well?” Jason said finally. “We’re asking nicely this time.”
Eroica’s face lit up with a bright smile. “Yes, you are, you—”
“—you dear sweet boy,” Jason said at the same time. “I wondered how long you could go without saying that at least once.”
Eroica could not help but laugh at this.
“How much?” a voice suddenly whispered from the bushes.
Jason blinked and looked over at the Doctor. “Do I want to know?” he asked before turning to look at the talking bush behind him. “What are you doing in there?” he asked the bush.
Eroica gave an irritated sigh. “James, come out of there and stop annoying my guests.”
“They’re not guests. They’re employers,” James retorted as he came out from the shrubbery.
The Doctor sat back and laughed. “Yes, I suppose we are at that.”
James puffed out his chest proudly. “How much?” he asked again.
Jason had recognized the small, dark haired man from his last visit and gave a small sigh. James was quite possible the most irritating skin-flint he had ever encountered. A mischievous look came to the Alterran’s eye and a wry smile to his face as he asked evenly, “How much do you want?”
James gave him a dark look. “I am trying to have a serious negotiation here, young man. Kindly do not make jokes.”
Jason sat back in his chair, his amusement clearly visible. “I am serious. I happen to be very wealthy.”
The accountant’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “How wealthy is very wealthy?”
The Doctor laughed. “There’s a good question. I supposed it depends how valuable you consider a diamond that’s been pulled out of thin air.”
“Not quite thin air,” his companion retorted. As an Alterran, Jason was a silicon-based life form and creating a diamond, another crystalline structure, was as simple as changing his clothes. He held out one hand, closed it into a fist and then opened it again, revealing an enormous, multifaceted diamond in the center of his palm. “It’s easy, really.”
James looked at the diamond in Jason’s hand, his eyes goggling. He turned to Eroica, stammered out several unintelligible things and then fainted dead away.
The Doctor gave the inert form a steady look before turning his gaze to Eroica. “It seems negotiations are concluded,” he observed aridly.
The Major had sent Agent Z ahead to the NATO office in Reykjavik to coordinate efforts and procure what he would need on the ice cap. When he and the alphabets arrived the following day, Z informed him that that a Soviet tanker had appeared that morning reporting “mechanical” problems. It was currently anchored off the eastern coast of Iceland, conveniently close to the ice cap, and had requested permission to remain there until the repairs were completed.
The Major ordered Agent Z to continue to monitor the tanker while he went to the ice cap with A and B, neither of whom was very happy about it. The three were flown by helicopter to the remote area in the western portion of the glacier. The volcanologists had marked the area containing the artefact out with flags, which were clearly visible from the air. The fissure ran from North to South and stretched out for several kilometres, the marked out area being near the northern tip. The Major had the pilot do a quick sweep of the area so he could check to see if the KGB had arrived before him.
“What is that dwelling I see?” the Major asked, pointing to what looked like a large hut.
The pilot craned his neck. “That’s the base camp those scientists left behind,” he replied.
The Major nodded and continued to scan the area. He did not like the fact that the hut was there. The KGB could be inside and he would have no way of knowing it.
He ordered the pilot to set them down on the southern end of the fissure containing the artefact, much to the consternation and grumbling of Agents A and B who were forced to unload all of the equipment.
“We’ll set up base camp here,” the Major ordered, looking around the barren surroundings and cursing his Chief and everyone he was even remotely related to at the same time. When he realized the men were staring at him, he glared at them. “What are you waiting for, imbeciles? Room service? Put up the shelter!”
While the men alternately complained about life in general, the harshness of their surroundings, the unfairness of this assignment and the difficulty of the assembly instructions, the Major studied the map of the Vatnajökull ice cap and the Grímsvötn caldera it contained. It was enormous, there was not getting around it. Eighty-one thousand square kilometres of ice. Fortunately, the area he wanted had been highlighted, as had the base camp used by the scientists. He had taken advantage of the topography, making his base camp in a valley in the ice field. Now if the KGB did appear and venture in his direction, they would not see his camp.
The Major looked up, seeing the men still struggling with the tent. He was relieved to see that it was not a green or sand camouflage type. It was a very sensible white and would effectively hide their presence. He reflected that it was probably a good thing he had had Agent Z procure their supplies. If he’d left it up to the half-wits who were still struggling with the tent poles, he would probably have ended up with a red and white circus tent.
* * *
For once, the Major’s seeming paranoia had not been in vain. At the same time the alphabets were struggling with the shelter, four KGB agents were stowing their equipment in the hut. They seemed to open their parkas as one, being relieved to be out of the chilling wind on the glacier. One of them went to the stove in the center of the room, made certain it had fuel in it and lit the flame, holding his hands up to it to warm them.
The leader of the group observed his subordinates with some pride, pulling off his hood to reveal his bald head beneath. Were the Major present, he would have instantly recognized him as Mischa the Cub, a KGB man he had frequently butted heads with. To say the men disliked one another would have been an understatement. In fact, it was common knowledge that they hated one another and there were ongoing wagers in both camps as to who would kill the other first. It was even money on the Major shooting Mischa, and slightly higher on Mischa actually killing the Major with his bare hands.
* * *
Once the opposing KGB and NATO camps were settled in, they journeyed to the artefact. When the Major’s group arrived, they found a metal ladder affixed to the side of the ice that had been placed there by the volcanologists. The Major looked at the considerable distance he had to descend before leading the way down the ladder. Agent A was to follow, leaving the unfortunate B to keep watch in the bone chilling cold.
“Stop whining like a woman,” the Major snapped as he vanished from sight.
“I’m going to freeze to death up here, Major,” B protested. “I’ll be a frozen log when you come back.”
“Then we’ll use you for firewood,” the Major snorted.
The agent gave an appalled squeak.
“Mein Gott,” the Major moaned as he jumped the remaining distance to the ground. “You’d think you’d never been in the snow before.”
“I never thought I’d say this,” B said quietly to A, “but I think I liked Alaska better.”
“I can always arrange a transfer for you!” the Major called up to him.
Agent A had to stifle a laugh at the horrified expression this produced on his comrade’s face. “Just keep moving around and stamp your feet,” he said before vanishing from sight. Once he reached the bottom of the ladder, he waited as B lowered down the duffle bag they had brought with them. He did not know what the Major had packed inside, and was dreading finding out.
Agent A found the Major studying the alien object protruding from the ice. “It looks much larger than I thought,” he observed. “Those useless photographs didn’t give any indication of scale.”
“Are we supposed to chip it out of there?” Agent A wanted to know, dropping the duffle bag at the Major’s feet.
“Ja. I think that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do.” The Major expected to hear a dozen protests. When this did not happen, he looked up, doing a double take when he saw the horrified expression on A’s face. He turned to follow his gaze, stiffening visibly when he saw Mischa the Cub and two others standing several metres away, each with a gun in his hand.
The Major would learn later that the KGB men had been in the fissure when he and the others arrived. They had apparently heard them approaching and had hidden themselves behind a jagged outcrop in the ice wall until their arrival. The Major wanted the kick himself when he heard this. He had been so busy trying to get out of the wind he had overlooked the obvious chance to walk the length of the crack to see if anyone else were inside.
“Major Eberbach, fancy meeting you here,” Mischa said happily. He looked up and saw the aghast Agent B looking down on the scene. “You, come down here. And don’t try anything or the first bullet I fire is into the Major’s skull.”
The Major and his men were relieved of their weapons and then the officer’s hands were bound in front of him. He was thrust against one wall, and a gun was held to his head. His men were then ordered to begin chipping the artefact from the ice.
The work went on for several hours until the light of the long arctic day finally started to wane. Night lasted only a few hours at this time of year.
After climbing the ladder, the KGB men led their prisoners back to the hut where they grudgingly fed them. Since they planned on using them as forced labor in the extraction of the artefact, they would have to keep them healthy. At least, until they were no longer of use to them.
Mischa had spent a good deal of the day taunting the Major on how easily he and his men had been captured. What a coup this would be for him in Moscow when he returned with both the artefact and the famous Iron Klaus.
The Major had shocked everyone by not responding to any of the Russian’s taunts, choosing instead to remain steadfastly silent. To his amusement, he discovered that the longer he remained silent, the more irritated Mischa became. It soon became a game, seeing the reactions he could elicit with a sideways glance or bored sigh as he casually smoked his cigarettes.
Agents A and B, on the other hand, were of the opinion that their leader had finally lost his mind. He was supposed to be yelling and screaming obscenities, not standing there casually smoking while they worked themselves to death.
As the group entered the hut, Mischa heard the Major give a bored sigh and finally snapped. He took the German by the throat, and pulled his face close to his own. “I know what you’re playing at, Major,” he snarled threateningly. “You won’t be so cool when you’re inside the Kremlin.” He punctuated his remark by landing a fist across the bound man’s jaw, sending him sprawling to the floor.
The Major thought he would bite through his tongue, but he did not respond. As long as the Russian needed him as a means of keeping his men in line, he was not in danger of being killed. He glared at the Russian, wiping the blood from his mouth and reflecting in satisfaction on how his gamble had paid off. He had goaded Mischa to the point where he could get close enough to remove his gun from his coat without the Russian realizing. Perhaps he actually had learned something useful from that irritating pervert Eroica after all. Now all he had to do was wait for the opportunity to escape.
And TARDIS Makes Three
The TARDIS materialized on the ice field to the East of the artefact. The NATO camp was to the South, the KGB completing the triangle to the North, all parties having arrived within hours of one another and taking up positions approximately the same distance from the artefact.
The Doctor activated the scanner, seeing nothing but a sea of white. “Incredible, isn’t it,” he remarked. “Millions of years of history frozen in time in the middle of a volcanic crater.”
“With earthquakes going on daily,” Jason rejoined. He gave the thief a sideways glance as he came up beside him.
“And just what am I doing here, again?” Eroica asked pointedly as he draped an arm over Jason’s shoulder and started playing with his curls.
“Aside from mauling me, you mean?” Jason replied astringently. The man beside him gave him an innocent look through his eyelashes and blew him a kiss. He could not help but laugh. “Dorian, you are incorrigible.”
“That’s why you love me, Jason, dear,” Eroica replied, fluttering his eyelashes.
“If we could keep to the point,” the Doctor broke in, returning everyone’s attention to the task at hand. He turned a dial and a map of the area came up on the viewer. “The volcanologists had a base camp set up near the site,” he explained, pointing at the map. “Now that it’s empty, I wouldn’t put it past the KGB to commandeer it for their own base of operations.”
Eroica nodded. That seemed logical. “And?”
“I’d like you to see if they are indeed there and…er, help yourself to anything that they would find necessary in order to remain here.”
The Doctor smiled broadly. “Anything.”
“Doctor, Mr. James will love you forever for this.”
Jason could not help laughing at the expression this produced on the Time Lord’s face. He cleared his throat before saying, “Doctor, I hate to throw a spanner in the works, but exactly how do you expect Dorian to carry anything across that?” He nodded toward the screen and the obvious distance the thief would have to cross.
The Doctor smiled knowingly and crossed to a cupboard, pulling it open. His companion, in the meantime, sighed heavily. “We could be here all day,” he said quietly to Eroica, who was still happily arranging the curls in his hair.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Eroica whispered seductively.
Jason gave him a sideways look. “You keep that up and I’ll lock you outside.”
“Oh, Jason, you’re so cruel to me,” Eroica said in a tone of mock petulance.
“Annoy him too much and he’ll do it,” the Doctor rejoined without turning. He gave a small cry of triumph as he produced a small tapestry sack from a truck. He got to his feet, kicking the door closed as he turned around. “Here you are, Dorian. A sack for your loot.”
Eroica and Jason exchanged a dubious look at the sight of the small bag. It looked hardly large enough to hold a grapefruit, let alone a room full of equipment.
“You’re joking?” the thief said sourly.
The smile on the Time Lord’s face broadened. “Ah, but you don’t know the best bit. This isn’t just an ordinary sack. It’s a pocket dimension.”
Eroica was now completely baffled. He heard Jason catch his breath and looked down at him. It was obvious he knew what the Doctor was talking about.
“Doctor! How long have you had that?” Jason asked accusingly, disengaging himself from the thief and crossing the room.
The Doctor thought a minute and then waved a hand in the air. “I’ve no idea.”
His companion gave him a dark look, taking the sack from him and looking inside. “We could’ve used this—” He broke off, looking up. “I could’ve used this a dozen times over!”
“You can’t expect me to remember everything,” the Doctor said defensively. “Not all of us have total recall, you know?”
Jason responded with a low growl before explaining to the increasingly fascinated Eroica that the sack had properties similar to the TARDIS, which meant it was bigger on the inside than on the outside. The thief could put anything he wanted inside and would still be able to hide it inside his coat.
Eroica took the sack, his bright blue eyes sparkling. “I can put anything in it?”
“You could put a tank in it, if you were so inclined,” the Doctor replied. “The opening expands to accommodate what’s being put inside.”
“I don’t suggest you try hiding in it, though,” Jason injected. “You may not be able to get out again.”
Eroica gave him a sideways look, putting the sack inside his coat. “I’ll take everything that isn’t nailed down.” With a wry smile, he added, “And maybe even that.”
Jason gave him an amused look before turning to the Doctor. “So, I take it while Dorian’s stealing the KGB blind, we’ll be trying to get to the artefact without getting shot at in the process?”
“Yes!” The Doctor reached into his pocket and pulled out the dog whistle, holding out to Eroica. “You’d better take this. When you need to get back into the TARDIS, just give it a blast and K-9 will open the doors for you.”
Eroica looked down at the automation, seemingly forgotten beneath the console. “Like this?” He gave the whistle a blast and K-9’s head came up. “Master?”
“Just testing, K-9,” Eroica informed, patting the dog on the head.
“Test unnecessary, Dorian Red Gloria,” K-9 replied.
Eroica winced. “K-9, just call me Dorian.”
“Affirmative. Dorian.” K-9’s tail wagged.
The thief laughed and then looked up at the Doctor. “When do we get started?”
The Death of Iron Klaus
The Doctor and Jason were surprised to find the artefact had been partially chipped free of the ice, and doubly surprised to find it unattended.
“Somebody’s certainly been here,” the Doctor observed.
Jason was looking at the piles of ice heaped to one side. “Did that report say anything about those volcanologists trying to dig this out?”
“Not that I recall.” The Doctor ran his hands along the exposed section of what he and his companion recognized as a space ship or possibly an escape capsule. “There’s an edge here,” he said, running his fingertips along the smooth surface.
“Here, let me have a go.” Jason put a hand on the ship and stood motionless a few seconds. He had the ability to scan anything he touched in the same manner as electronic sensing equipment. “That’s a hatch alright.” He stepped back, looking thoughtfully at the ship. “It’s in amazingly good shape, too. Even after crashing and being frozen for who knows how many millennia.”
“Several hundred thousand, I should imagine,” the Doctor replied as he pulled out his sonic screwdriver and set to work on the hatch. “I think I’ll probably have to warm this up a bit before it’ll open.”
After a few minutes, the Doctor stopped and looked up. “Did you hear something?”
Jason was standing with his head cocked to one side and was obviously tuning his incredible hearing in on the sound. He nodded. “Sounds like…voices,” he said quietly. He looked at the Doctor, adding in a serious tone, “It doesn’t sound like Dorian, either.”
“Our friends from Moscow, no doubt.”
“Great.” Jason gave his friend a steady look. “Will you be alright on your own?”
“Okay. I’ll go see who our visitors are.”
“Just be careful!” the Doctor said seriously. “All jokes aside, Jason, I do not want to be pulling any more bullets out of you.”
Jason blinked. The Doctor very rarely showed an emotional side, and to have him voicing his concerns in so blunt a manner was a bit of a shock. “I’ll be careful,” he promised, receiving a disapproving snort in reply
Jason had to fight not to smile and turned, following the sound of raised voices. As he drew nearer, he could tell one thing. They were definitely not friendly. There were at least three separate voices, possibly four, and the language they were speaking was not English. It was much too guttural. Whoever they were, they weren’t exchanging social pleasantries, either.
The floor of the ice fissure moved steadily upward and Jason came to an opening at the end, seeing it connected to another fissure that ran in the opposite direction. This glacier is cracking up in more ways than one.
Suddenly a man appeared at the top of the ice more than ten metres above him. He seemed to be running and, to Jason’s surprise, had a gun in his hand. He was shooting at someone who was obviously shooting back. As the Alterran watched in silence, he saw the man jerk back and then plummet to the ice shelf below. He landed heavily on his back, and Jason heard the distinctive sound of bones breaking at the same time, causing him to wince. Ouch.
The two who had obviously been shooting at this individual suddenly appeared and looked over the edge. They were very large, with heavy, chiseled features. KGB thugs by the look of them. God, I really hate these guys! One of them had his hood pulled off of his bald head and Jason could not help wondering why he wasn’t freezing. Not the kind I’d invite to meet the family, he observed as the men holstered their weapons. The bald man nodded in satisfaction as he took in the inert form on the ice below. He picked up the gun dropped by the unfortunate man and started to laugh. Then he turned, patting his comrade on the back as he moved away from the edge.
Jason had withdrawn into the shadows while the assassins were taking in their handiwork As soon as they were gone he went to the motionless form on the ice. One of the man’s arms was twisted at a bad angle and was obviously broken. His head was turned away, his long dark hair and part of his hood covering his face. The Alterran brushed the hair aside and froze, staring at the face of the man lying on the ice.
No. Please, no. This can’t be happening. Tell me I’m having a nightmare. Not on my second trip to Earth. It’s just too cruel. Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach!
Jason had to remind himself that he was a Healer, first and foremost, and pulled himself together. He carefully examined the unconscious Major’s injuries. Notwithstanding the bullet he currently had lodged in his shoulder, he also had several broken bones, a concussion from the fall and a possible injury to his spine. It was this last injury that most worried Jason. That and the fact that the last thing the Major needed was to be lying on a slab of ice. He would freeze to death long before his other injuries killed him. He needed to be kept warm and dry so shock wouldn’t set in. There was only one way Jason could accomplish all of this and carry the gravely injured man without hurting him further.
Jason returned to his true form, which he was fond of saying was not even remotely human. His cream-colored main body was large and bulbous having sapphire blue crystals evenly spaced around the circumference. Below this, numerous tendrils snaked their way to the ground, yet only brushed the surface as he hovered in the air.
The Alterran very carefully entwined the unconscious officer in his tendrils before gently lifting him from the ground. He paused long enough to adjust his energy field, increasing the oxygen levels and the body temperature in the tendrils holding his passenger in order to keep him warm. He then turned and slowly started back to where he had left the Doctor tinkering on the alien artefact.
“You are in bad shape, Major,” he said quietly. “You’ll be safe enough with me, though. And if I’m very, very lucky, you’ll stay unconscious until I can get back to the Doctor.”
This was not to be. Jason had scarcely started moving when the Major regained consciousness. He gave a low moan of pain before opening his eyes. He struggled to focus, finally taking in the extraordinary being that held him, his eyes growing wide. To his added astonishment, the creature spoke. “Don’t panic, Major, you’re in no danger.”
After his encounter with the Doctor, the Major had made inquires about UNIT’s scientific advisor and the agency’s activities. He soon learned that the alien invaders he had scoffed at actually did exist and had on several occasions been repelled by UNIT forces with the aid of the Doctor.
Because of this foreknowledge, the Major had not been surprised when he learned of the alien artefact in the ice. When he finally saw it in person, he had concerns as to what it actually contained. It seemed too much of a coincidence that this alien creature should suddenly appear at the same time the object was being removed from the ice. So, logically, it must have come from the artefact.
The Major’s logic was completely sound. It was also totally erroneous, as he would soon learn.
“What do you want of me, creature?” he demanded, trying very hard not to show the terror he was feeling. He was unaccustomed to feeling fear and was annoyed with himself for actually having the capacity to experience it. He was also in a great deal of pain, which only added to his current feeling of helplessness, and he found himself wishing he knew where he gun was.
For once, Jason could not fault the man for being defensive. “Major, it’s me, Jason. Jason Krystovan,” he said calmly. “We met in London at UNIT HQ about three years ago.”
The Major looked at the extraordinary aberration holding him immobile, unable to take in what he was being told. “UNIT…?” How does this creature know of UNIT?
“Klaus, it’s me!” Jason said forcefully. “The stupid boy who saved your life!” He was hoping his having called the Major by name, which he hated, would snap him out of his stupor. He was partially successful. He saw the man’s dark green eyes cloud over with anger.
“What are you?” the Major asked, his voice having recaptured some of its usual fire.
Jason heaved a sigh of relief. Finally! “I’m an Alterran. You already know that. I’m the Doctor’s traveling companion.”
“The Doctor…?” The Major’s mind finally snapped into focus. UNIT, the Doctor, the wretched boy that the pervert was so infatuated with, the TARDIS…
“With the Police Box?” he asked at last.
The Major tried to move, but Jason held him fast. “No, Major, stay still. You’re badly hurt.”
“Let me go—”
“Dammit, Major, hold still!” Jason snapped impatiently. “For once in your life would you listen to someone other than yourself! You have a bullet in your shoulder, several broken bones, a concussion, and you may well have a serious spinal injury. If you start moving around before I can treat you properly, the only way you’re going to chase bad guys is from a wheelchair!”
The Major immediately stopped moving, although it was obvious he was not in the least happy about it. “If…you are who you claim, how is it you look like this?” he asked logically.
“I can change form, remember? This is how Dorian and I got away from the KGB in the Mediterranean.” Jason saw recognition flash across the Major’s face and felt his body relax in his grasp. Finally, he’s got it! “Are you warm enough?”
“Warm? It’s freezing—!” The Major broke off when he realized he actually was warm. In fact, it was the warmest he had been since he’d set foot in the bloody country. His hand was near one of the tendrils and he could feel the heat radiating from it. How did he do that?
“How…? Why are you here?” he asked at last.
Jason gave an amused grunt. “I was going to ask you the same question.”
“It’s My Job.”
Jason did not know he wasn’t the only one to witness the Major’s fall. Eroica had also witnessed the event, and now believed the officer dead.
Eroica had gotten to the hut and was just about to peek in one of the windows when the Major suddenly burst from one of the doors. As with Jason, he was incredulous to see the Major on the glacier. He heard the sound of raised voices and dropped to the ground, watching from the shadows as three men burst from the building in hot pursuit of the Iron Major.
Eroica chanced a quick peek in the window and saw Agents A and B sitting on the floor, bound hand and foot. Another KGB man was watching them from the far side of the room. The sound of raised voices on the ice returned his attention to the Major and he followed, being inwardly grateful that he had chosen to wear all white on this outing. With any luck, he would blend in with the glare and be invisible to the KGB men currently haring after the Major.
He could see the men far in the distance, waving their arms, the sound of their raised voices floating back over the ice. Then he saw the Major fire and one of the KGB men went down. A shot from another sent the officer spinning over the edge of a fissure in the ice. Eroica had to fight to keep from screaming as the Major vanished from sight, a hand clamping over his mouth to keep the sound from escaping.
Eroica stood staring, not quite able to get his mind to accept the reality of what he just seen. Dead. Iron Klaus was dead. As he continued to watch, he felt tears starting to burn his eyes.
As Jason watched from below, Eroica watched from above as the men laughed over their victory, igniting a flame of anger inside him. He saw Mischa the Cub picking up the Major’s gun as a trophy and rage overcame his grief. How dare he touch the Major’s prized possession!
As he moved to hide himself among the jagged chucks of ice, Eroica vowed to recover the trophy from the Russian. After that, he would decide on how best to avenge the Major’s death.
* * *
The Doctor gave a small cry of delight at the sound of a click. The hatch gave a small pop and hissed open slightly. He was just putting his fingers in the gap when he heard his companion‘s voice.
The Time Lord did not even turn. “You’re just in time. I’ve got it open.”
“And I’ve got the Major,” Jason replied calmly.
“What?” The Doctor turned sharply and was taken aback by what he saw. His companion was in his true form and holding the severely injured and now unconscious Major Eberbach. “Good grief. Where on Earth…?”
“For an inaccessible ice cap, this place is turning into Grand Central Station,” the Alterran remarked before saying seriously, “Doctor, I’ve got to get the Major to the sickbay. He’s in really bad shape.”
The Doctor nodded and held out his arms, allowing the Alterran to entwine him. Since the TARDIS was on the side opposite the ladder, the only way up or down was with his companion’s assistance. “Can you handle the both of us?” the Doctor asked as the tendrils tightened around him.
“Just hold still and I should be able to manage. It isn’t that far to the top.”
“Jason, it’s nearly eighty feet.”
“Then hold still so I don’t drop you,” the Alterran said as he started to rise into the air, carrying the Time Lord and his precious cargo with him.
“I’m not sure how thrilled the Major is going to be when he learns who we brought with us,” the Doctor remarked as he was gently set on his feet.
“To be honest, Doctor, I don’t really much care what the man thinks one way or the other,” Jason replied bluntly.
The Doctor looked over his shoulder as he led the way to the TARDIS. “Jason, I know you and he didn’t get along—”
“Save it, Doctor. The man is a Major League Pain-In-The-Ass and couldn’t get along with anyone if his life depended on it.”
“That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?”
“So sue me.”
* * *
As soon as the Doctor had the TARDIS door open, Jason was inside and making straight for the sickbay. The Doctor tried to assist the Healer as best he could, although in his true form, Jason could move incredibly fast and at times left the Time Lord behind.
It was nearly an hour later before Jason announced that his patient was out of danger. It was only then that he slowed down, his seemingly frenzied movements taking on a more normal pace.
It took a few hours more before the majority of the Major’s injuries were treated and healed. His bones were set, grafted and repaired with a device even the Doctor was unfamiliar with. The bullet was removed from his shoulder, the wound treated and sealed with a synthetic skin. To the Healer’s relief, the injury to the officer’s spine was not as severe as he feared. It was very badly bruised, but none of the vertebrae had been damaged. The only thing Jason could not heal completely was the concussion, which would have to heal on its own. He even went so far as to clear out the filth that years of smoking had deposited in the man’s lungs.
When he finally finished, Jason took a seat and waited for his patient to wake up.
“Do you want me to sit with him?” the Doctor offered.
Jason gave it very serious consideration before shaking his head. “No, like it or not, it’s my job.”
The Doctor nodded. “I’ll be in the console room.”
* * *
While Jason was working on the Major’s injuries, Mischa the Cub was calling for a helicopter to transport the agent who had been killed in the exchange of gunfire. After informing the horrified Agents A and B of the death of their superior, he ordered them back to the artefact to continue digging it out.
Eroica watched all this from a window and slipped into the hut on one side when the KGB dragged the protesting alphabets out on the other. He knew he had only a few minutes before the Russian returned to lounge in the comfort of the warm hut while his men froze their asses off in the cold.
Hearing the Russian thundering orders, Eroica made a quick visual sweep of the room, seeing the Major’s gun lying on the top of an open duffle bag. With a smile, he retrieved the weapon and slipped it into a pocket. Now it’s my trophy, he thought in satisfaction.
Suddenly Eroica heard Mischa just outside the door and looked around. There was nowhere to hide! He looked down at the bag in his hand and prayed that for once Jason was wrong.
* * *
“Aside from a mild concussion, you’re completely healed,” Jason was saying to the Major, adding, “And I even cleaned all that glop out of your lungs, so you’ll find breathing is a bit easier, too.”
When the Major had finally regained consciousness, the Alterran Healer told him what had occurred and how he came to be in the TARDIS sickbay. He also told him why he and the Doctor were there and that they had brought Dorian with them. While the Major was irritated that Eroica was there, he found himself amused that the KGB would soon find their base camp plundered by him. If nothing else, he was a very good thief.
The Major suddenly realized that he was wearing only a long hospital-type gown. “Where are my clothes?” he practically demanded.
“Over there. The TARDIS laundry got all the blood out and repaired the damage from the bullet hole.”
The Major gave a snort of disapproval and struggled to sit up. When Jason tried to help, his hands were slapped away.
“You’re welcome,” the Healer snapped impatiently.
“Do you expect me to become like that pervert and fawn all over you now?”
Jason crossed the room, taking the man’s clothes and throwing them at him. “No, Major. But I did just save your life. Again! Would it really kill you to say thank you?”
“I should thank you for doing your job?”
Jason gave a low growl. If he did not leave now, the Major would be requiring his services again. “K-9 will take you to the console room when you’re ready.” So saying, he stormed from the room, slamming the door behind him.
The Major heard the sound of a second door slamming. He got shakily to his feet, and put a hand to his head. Yes, he most certainly had a concussion. He pulled out a cigarette and looked at it a moment before finally lighting it up. Then he checked over his clothes and was amazed to find they had indeed been cleaned and repaired. There was no sign of the bullet hole anywhere.
After the Major was dressed, he found K-9 patiently waiting for him outside the room. “Take me to the…” He frowned. What was that room called again?
“The Young Master has ordered that I take you to the console room, Major,” K-9 informed.
The Major nodded approvingly. Finally, something in this ship that could follow orders.
Goodbye To The Alphabets
Because of the interruption from his companion, the Doctor had not opened the hatchway. He had, however, left it ajar, much to the delight of the KGB.
After some struggling with the frozen hatch, it was finally levered open. The KGB men were beside themselves when they saw that the artefact actually contained something of value. The unfortunate Agents A and B had to struggle again to remove what appeared to be a robot from inside the cramped interior of what could only be a space ship.
After much grunting and groaning, the frozen robot was out and being carried, with more grunting and groaning, back to the base camp. As the group was climbing out of the fissure, they saw the helicopter carrying Mischa the Cub and the body of the downed agent fly overhead. The KGB men waved frantically to their superior in a futile attempt to signal him of their discovery
Mischa saw his men waving and simply waved back, thinking they were making their way into the fissure rather than out again.
It was not until one of the men remembered the R/T in his pocket that he was able to contact the helicopter with news of the robot. The Russian told them he would send the helicopter back for them at the hut. Since there would not be room for the alphabets, he gave orders for them to be eliminated once they reached base camp.
At the base camp, the Mischa the Cub had scarcely left the building when a small sack under a table came to life. Eroica had looped the chain of the dog whistle over a small button on the front, hoping this would keep him from getting lost inside the pocket dimension. To his delight, it had.
As he crawled out of the sack, he reflected that there were no words in his considerable vocabulary to describe the interior of the pocket dimension. The only thing that came to mind was that it was very, very big.
Eroica took a moment to get his bearings again. He watched as the helicopter took off and inwardly wished he had an anti-aircraft missile to launch at it—and the skill to actually hit it.
Turning from the window, he smiled as he took in the contents of the room. This was going to be fun. “Like taking candy from a baby,” he said as the first item vanished into the sack.
Within an hour, Eroica had stripped the hut clean. The only thing left standing was the stove in the center of the room, which he had left because he preferred not to freeze while he worked.
The sound of voices alerted him to the return of the KGB and he looked out a window, seeing Agents A and B carrying what looked like a frozen body between them. The two remaining KGB men were following behind with their guns out.
Eroica turned and took in the completely empty room. Then he looked at the sack in his hand and an evil smile came to his face.
* * *
Agents A and B entered the hut and stopped dead.
“Don’t stop, you two,” came an angry voice from behind them. “Move.”
“It’s empty,” A said, turning to the KGB man behind him. He was rewarded with a shove that sent him staggering further into the room. It also caused him to lose his grip on the robot and it fell to the floor with a loud clang.
“What do you mean empty?” the man snarled. “It can’t be—” He broke off, looking around in blank astonishment. “What the hell?”
His partner found a small sack lying on the floor and opened it.
What happened next shocked them all.
A blond vision in white suddenly sprang from the sack like a genie from a bottle. He had an enormous smile on his face. He also had a wooden chair in his hands, which he promptly brought down onto the head of the nearest KGB man, knocking him into an unconscious heap on the floor.
Taking their cue, Agents A and B sprang at the other KGB man, dragging him to the floor and sending his gun spinning across the room.
Eroica used what was left of the chair to subdue the struggling agent before finally greeting the stupefied alphabets. He told them what he had done and they in turn told him of the discovery of the robot. They also told him that the helicopter was due to return for the KGB men, who were supposed to eliminate them before leaving. Eroica suggested that they hijack the helicopter themselves and use it to return to Reykjavik.
“Do you know how far away that is?” Agent B protested.
“Not really,” Eroica replied breezily. “At least it’ll get you off this bloody glacier.”
Agent B was forced to agree with this. He was not all that pleased when the thief announced he was keeping the robot. Before he could stop him, Eroica had slipped it into the magic bag from which he had appeared. Since B had no idea how the thing worked, he doubted he would be able to retrieve it. His only consolation was the fact that the Major was dead and therefore could not scream at him for letting Eroica spirit away the artefact they come after right under his nose.
* * *
Eroica watched in some satisfaction as the helicopter lifted off, bearing the alphabets to safety. That was for you, Major, he thought. For all his show of disapproval, he knew the officer would have wanted his agents safely away from the KGB.
Eroica turned, looking back at the inert forms on the floor. Before leaving, the alphabets had taken great pleasure in binding the KGB man together.
“Let them get out of that,” Agent A had said, giving one of the men a savage kick. It was all too obvious that none of them cared for these men.
As the helicopter vanished over the horizon, Eroica started back toward the TARDIS with his booty, and the added bonus of the robot from within the alien ship.
The Ice Cap Opens
Eroica arrived at the TARDIS only to be told by K-9 that the Doctor and Jason had returned to the artefact. It seemed that this was the place to be, he reflected as he left the Police Box and started in the direction of the fissure. The ground was shaking more often now and he moved cautiously along the ice, taking care not to step on any cracks that might decide to open up beneath him.
He was so busy looked down that he failed to see the figure approaching and only looked up when he heard the crunching of footsteps. Eroica had to hold a hand up to shield his eyes from the glare of sunlight reflected off of the snow and ice. All he could make out was a silhouette against the vast white ice field. Blood hell, not the KGB again. Then he remembered the Major’s gun in his pocket and pulled it out, aiming it at the stranger.
“I have a gun, whoever you are!” he called out, wishing he didn’t sound so frightened.
“I would be concerned if I thought you could actually hit me, idiot,” came the Major’s voice.
Eroica felt all the blood drain from his face when he heard the familiar voice. “Klaus…” he said in a small voice, lowering the weapon. He tried several times to make a coherent sound and finally managed to say, “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
When he saw the space ship was open, the Major decided to try and find his agents rather than stay and see how the Doctor and Jason would attempt to descend the distance without any equipment. The Doctor suggested that he take K-9 with him, since he no longer had his gun. The Major had agreed with this and was making his way back to the TARDIS to retrieve the automation.
As the Major drew nearer, Eroica noticed that the steam he had been seeing was not the officer’s breath but the smoke from the cigarette in his mouth. “I am hard to kill,” came the succinct reply.
Eroica gave him a look through his eyelashes and held out the weapon. “I relieved Mischa the Cub of this. He’s under the impression that he killed you.”
The Major snorted, taking the weapon from the thief’s hands. He inspected it quickly, satisfying himself that the Russian had not damaged it. Looking up, he said, “And you believed him?”
“Major, as far as I know, the only way to get that away from you is to kill you,” Eroica replied truthfully. He did not mention that he had also witnessed the Russian shooting the officer and could not help wondering if Jason had had a hand in the German’s miraculous return from the dead. It would not be the first time.
The Major started toward the TARDIS and Eroica fell in beside him. He told the officer of the events that had taken place at the KGB’s base camp and the escape of his agents in the helicopter Mischa the Cub had sent for his own men. He omitted telling the Major about the android, thinking this might be best revealed when the Doctor was present.
The Major was amused that the Russian should be annoyed in such a manner, although he did not show it. “Where are the KGB agents now?” he wanted to know. He did not like the idea of having any KGB men on the loose and was slightly annoyed that his agents had left them behind, despite the fact that there wasn’t room for them all on the helicopter.
“Last time I saw them, they were sleeping like babies in their base camp,” Eroica replied innocently. “Your agents gave them a lesson in knot tying.”
Before the Major could reply, the ground started to shake and they heard an ominous cracking beneath their feet.
“I do not like the sound of that,” Eroica said nervously as he looked around.
Then two things happened at once. A crack appeared behind Eroica and the Major, and the ground vanished from beneath the thief’s feet as a section of the ice broke away. The next thing he knew, he was dropping through space and landing heavily on a ledge. He managed to push himself back against the ice wall before falling debris carried him to his death hundreds of feet below.
Once he recovered his senses, Eroica looked up, seeing the Major looking down at him, a stunned expression on his face. Are you surprised I survived? Or just hoping another tremor will knock me off?
Suddenly the Major was yelling at him. “Give me your hand, you stupid limey! Or do you want to stay there and wait for the KGB to find you?”
Several things flashed through Eroica’s mind, the most preeminent one being that the Major was making a show of saving him so he could “accidentally” lose his grip. He threw a quick glance downward, seeing the yawning chasm beneath. Oh, what the hell. I’m going to die one way or another.
Eroica got to his feet and grabbed for the outstretched hand, feeling the Major’s fingers clamp around his wrist like a vice. He grabbed the Major’s wrist with his other hand. A second later, the German was pulling with all his might.
As he was raised slightly, Eroica grabbed out with his other hand, pulling up on the top edge of the ice. At the same time, he kicked against the wall, struggling to find any foothold he could. He managed to find a crack in the ice and jammed his toes into it, levering himself up and finally managing to get one knee over the top.
In the distance, he could see the TARDIS standing out in stark contrast against the surrounding white of the glacier. Then he saw the KGB men, one of whom was taking aim at the Major’s back. Using the momentum from being pulled over the edge, he launched himself at the officer, knocking him to the ground.
“Get off me, you pervert!” the Major snarled.
“Certainly, Major. But I think I should warn you, we’re about to be shot at,” Eroica replied as he rolled off of the Major.
A split second later, a shot rang out and the Major was rolling onto his stomach, his weapon straight out in front of him. “Stay down!” he snapped, not taking his eyes from the approaching men.
One of the KGB fired, but it was obvious that they were fighting the same glare that had blinded Eroica.
“I thought you said my men took care of them,” the Major said accusingly.
“They did. Obviously, they escaped.”
“And where did they get the guns from if my men searched them?”
Eroica cleared his throat. “I never said they searched them.”
“Verdammt idiots!” The Major let loose a stream of obscenities, vowing to use the incompetent alphabets for target practice the next time he saw them.
The ground shook again, throwing the KGB men off of their feet. Then to the astonishment of the watching pair, the ground opened up, swallowing their would-be assassins, who vanished from sight, their cries echoing from the depths of the yawning chasm.
Eroica stared in stupefied amazement. “I don’t believe it.”
“Good riddance,” the Major snorted as he put his gun away.
Eroica rolled onto his side and propped himself up on one elbow. “You realize, Major, that we’re trapped here. Completely cut off from the TARDIS.”
The Major looked at the Police Box and the gaping hole stretching out for who knew how many kilometers in either direction. A hole that was now between them and it. Then he looked behind, seeing the gash in the ice that he had just pulled Eroica from. “So it would seem,” he replied blandly. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and wordlessly offering one to the thief.
Eroica accepted the offering and the light, leaning back and taking a long drag on the cigarette. “You know, it’s funny. They say these things will kill you.”
The Major gave him a steady look. How many times had he promised himself that he would be the one to kill this irritating faggot? Now he was going to die alongside him. There truly was no God.
Look What I Stole
“I hope you two are comfortable!” came Jason’s clear voice over the ice.
Eroica and the Major exchanged an amazed look before turning to see Jason and the Doctor on the opposite side of the crack the thief had nearly fallen to his death in.
“Not really,” Eroica called back. “But it’s the best we can do under the circumstances.”
“We’re all trapped on the wrong side of these damned cracks,” the Major observed darkly. “I knew I was going to freeze to death in this bloody country.”
“They’re appearing everywhere as the earthquake activity increases,” the Doctor informed knowingly. He threw his companion a quick glance. “Jason and I were on our way to fetch you both. I think we’ll all be safer in the TARDIS.”
“We thought so, too,” Eroica replied. “Unfortunately, the KGB got in the way before we got there.”
Jason stiffened visibly and looked around. “KGB? Where?”
The Major gave a wry smile, taking a satisfied puff on his cigarette. He nodded back to the crack in the ice. “They’re on their way to hell down that hole over there.”
The ground shook momentarily and Jason shot a nervous look in the Doctor’s direction. “If we’re going to do this, I suggest we do it now.”
The Doctor nodded, turning to the others. “Hang on a bit, we’re coming to join you.”
Before the bewildered Eroica and Major could respond, Jason had returned to his true form and was carrying the Doctor over the crack in the ice. He set the Time Lord gently onto his feet, but did not return to his human form. The implications of this action were suddenly blindingly obvious.
The Doctor grinned at the amazed looks on the faces of the men still lying on the ice. “Now, who wants to go first?” he asked happily.
* * *
As they approached the TARDIS, Eroica gave the dog whistle a long blast. A moment later, the door to the Police Box swung open.
“With all these cracks opening up, I’m going to have to move the TARDIS into the fissure with the artefact,” the Doctor informed as he strode into the console room.
“Why?” Eroica wanted to know.
The Doctor gave him a steady look. “So I can destroy it. Naturally.”
“Destroy it?” the Major said in surprise. “I was not sent here to destroy it, Doctor. I was sent to recover it.”
“Major, that ship is empty. It’s of no use to anyone.”
Eroica cleared his throat. “It’s empty now, Doctor.” He suddenly had everyone’s attention. “The KGB found something inside and had the Major’s men drag it back to the hut.” With a grin, he added, “So I stole it.”
The Doctor took the sack the thief was now holding out to him and knelt down on the floor. He opened the bag and peered in. “Just what did you steal, anyway?”
“Everything that wasn’t nailed down.”
“And then some,” the Time Lord remarked. “Fortunately, the most recent will be on the top.” So saying, he reached in, startling all save Eroica when he pulled the android from the tiny sack.
“Good grief,” Jason muttered, watching as the Doctor set the automation onto its feet. It was almost his size, completely silver, and absolutely featureless. There were two indentations that were probably supposed to be eyes on the blank face. It had thin, almost stick-like arms and legs. Clearly this robot had been designed for the inside of the capsule and not heavy labor.
“So, this is what was inside that capsule?” the Major observed, looking the android up and down.
“Yes. Not very impressive, is it?” Eroica replied blandly.
Jason rolled his eyes. “It’s not a piece of art, Dorian,” he said sharply. “It’s a utility robot of some sort. They’re not exactly known for their esthetic beauty.”
“Yes, I can see that.”
The Doctor was examining the automation with an expert eye. “It’s in remarkably good condition. From the state of that capsule, I’d expected to find anything inside in pieces.” He looked over to K-9. “What do you make of it, K-9? Will it still function?”
K-9’s sensor ears twitched. “Insufficient data, Master.”
“I was afraid of that.”
Jason was suddenly apprehensive. “You’re not thinking of activating it, are you?”
The Time Lord threw him a sideways glance. “Why not?”
“I don’t know. I have a very bad feeling about that thing all of a sudden.”
“Whether it functions or not, I will be taking it back to NATO headquarters,” the Major announced startlingly. All eyes turned to him.
“You will, will you?” the Doctor replied astringently.
“My orders are to retrieve the artifacts in the ice,” the Major stated matter of factly.
“Major, didn’t you learn anything the last time I saw you?” the Doctor practically demanded.
“What I learned is my superiors do not appreciate when their agents return empty-handed,” the Major said coldly. “I have my orders and intend to follow them.” To the surprise of everyone, he drew his weapon and pointed it at the Doctor. “You will take us to Bonn, Doctor.”
The Doctor looked at the gun and the man holding it. “And if I refuse?”
“I wouldn’t advise it.” This was Eroica, who knew the Major far better than anyone. He knew the cold look of determination in his dark, green eyes. If he had to kill to achieve his goals, he would, without a moment’s hesitation.
“Are you saying he’d actually shoot the Doctor?” Jason gasped, not quite able to take this in.
Eroica looked from one to the other. “In a heartbeat.”
“There’s loyalty for you,” Jason said derisively.
“What do you know of loyalty?” the Major spat back. “You come and go as you please. Never having to stay to clean up the mess he’s made.” He shook the gun in the Doctor’s direction to make his point.
Jason gave him a stricken look but could think of nothing to say. The Major was right, and he knew it.
The Major’s eyes narrowed. “After you left, I had your file sent to me, Herr Doctor,” he informed coldly. “You’re very good at fighting aliens, but not very good at taking responsibility. You leave that to others while you go off in your fabulous machine.” He held out his free hand to take in the console room.
Before the Doctor had the chance to respond one way or the other, the android suddenly juddered and emitted a number of buzzes and clicks. It was as though it were coming awake as its body moved to stand erect, its eyes glowing a dull yellow. It swiveled its head to take in its surroundings before fastening its attention on the nearest person, this being the Doctor.
“Identify,” it said a flat, mechanical tone.
The Doctor’s eyebrows went up. “Well, I’m the Doctor,” he said happily. “And this is Jason, Dorian and the Major.”
The android latched onto the military rank and turned to the Major. “You are in command?” it asked tonelessly.
Before the stunned officer could reply, Jason broke in sharply, “No. The Doctor’s in command.”
The android turned to the Alterran, its eyes flickering as it did so. “Silicon based genetic structure, confirmed. Classification: Alterran. Confirmed. Identify faction.”
Jason blinked, exchanging a mystified look with the others. “Faction?”
“Anti-Royalist division. Identify faction.”
“Anti-Royal…” Jason’s mouth dropped open as he realized what the android was and he felt his heart miss a beat. “You’re an Anti-Royalist drone. A seeker!” he gasped, still not quite believing it himself. He took an alarmed step back, finding himself against the control room wall.
“Confirm,” the robot stated flatly before repeating, “Identify faction.”
The others had been listening to this exchange in some bewilderment. “Jason,” the Doctor said mildly, “if you could enlighten us?”
Jason shot a quick look over at the Doctor before returning his attention to the robot. “It’s almost too incredible…” he replied, shaking his head in disbelief. “This thing dates back to before the Empire. Before Krystos. Before the Great Seal! When all the different houses were fighting amongst themselves.”
“What was—is—its function?”
Jason met the Doctor’s inquiring gaze steadily. “To seek out and eradicate the members of the Royal Bloodline.”
“What?” The Doctor threw a horrified look in the android’s direction. This was not what he expected to hear. It did, however, explain his companion’s obvious terror. Jason was a member of the Alterran Royal Bloodline, a trait identifiable by his sapphire blue eyes, which was the only thing he could not change when he transmuted.
“What does that mean?” Eroica wanted to know, now completely lost.
Jason closed his eyes and swallowed hard, pressing himself against the wall as the android turned to face him squarely. “Identify faction,” it repeated.
“I don’t have a faction!” the Alterran practically screamed back. “That ended millions of years ago!”
The robot buzzed as it analyzed this statement. “Insufficient data. Genetic traits, confirm. Royal Bloodline, confirm.”
“Doctor, shut it off!” Jason shouted as the chest of the robot started to open.
A split second later, a small box attached to a wire shot from within the automation’s chest, attaching itself to the terrified Alterran. The instant the object latched on to him, Jason screamed as ultrasonic pulses shot through his body.
The Doctor had no idea how he had even activated the android and was prevented from even trying to shut it off when it roughly knocked him to the floor.
Another scream was torn from Jason’s throat and he sank to his knees, his body shaking violently. To the horror of those watching, he suddenly turned completely white, small fractures appearing on his skin and clothing.
“K-9!” the Doctor called. “Destroy that android!”
“Master.” K-9 glided forward, firing his laser. It had no effect.
The Doctor cursed under his breath. “It’s shielded against lasers.”
Suddenly the Major was holding his gun against the android’s head. “I doubt it’s shielded against this,” he stated flatly and pulled the trigger, blowing the robot’s head into pieces and instantly ending the Alterran’s torment.
Jason let out a low moan and collapsed into an unconscious heap on the floor. The Doctor was instantly at his side, turning him onto his back. He yanked the offending box attached to the wire from the boy’s chest and threw it across the room.
“K-9, status report. Quickly!” he ordered.
K-9 glided over to him and extended his sensor disk in Jason’s direction. “Scanning.” After a few seconds, he reported, “Sensors detect thirty-five percent lattice damage. Energy levels and life signs at critical levels, Master.”
Jason was completely white from head to foot and covered with fine fracture lines, both telltale signs of the damage to his crystalline cell structure and the lattice holding it together. He was breathing in small, shallow gasps, his body shuddering from time to time.
The Doctor rose to his feet and crossed the room pressing a button on a wall panel. A bed silently slid out from behind it. When he turned back to his companion, he saw the Eroica had already lifted him from the floor and was carrying him to the bed.
The Major came over and watched in silence as the Doctor checked his companion again, covering him with a blanket. When the Time Lord looked up at him, he met his accusing gaze steadily. “You still wish to destroy the capsule?” he asked calmly.
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Yes.”
The Major nodded. “Then I suggest you get on with it.”
“And the android?” Eroica asked. “What of that?”
“I say blow it back to hell,” the Major replied as he lit a cigarette.
The Doctor exchanged an amazed look with Eroica. “You’ll forgive me, Major, but…what’s the catch?”
The officer gave him a steady look, blowing smoke into the air. “Catch?”
“Yes. A few minutes ago you were willing to kill of avoid going back empty-handed? I can’t believe you’d just change your mind for no good reason.”
The Major met his accusing gaze steadily. “Did I say I didn’t have a reason?” he snapped defensively. “I’ve seen what this boy—this Alterran—can do. Like you, he has incredible power, but doesn’t use it.” He threw a glance in the shattered android’s direction. “If that…thing can do this to him in less than a minute, what could it do to the people of this planet? I’d be an idiot to give that kind of technology to the imbeciles in Bonn.”
The Doctor blinked, stunned by the validity of the Major’s argument. “And your superiors?”
The Major gave a derisive snort. “This time, Doctor, it’s my decision to return empty-handed. If my superiors don’t like it, they can go to hell along with that android.”
A Very Loud Bang
The Doctor reset the coordinates, materializing the TARDIS at the base of the fissure in the ice beside the partially buried capsule. He and the Major collected all of the pieces of the android and placed them inside the capsule. Eroica kept watch over Jason, who had returned to consciousness for a few brief minutes before passing out again.
“How do you plan to destroy this?” the Major asked as the Doctor leaned into the capsule.
“If I can find it, I can trip the auto-destruct.” The Doctor studied the instruments, running his hands over the panels.
“What will that do?”
“It will vaporize this capsule, its contents and a sizeable chunk of this glacier,” came the succinct reply.
The Major’s eyebrows went up. “You are planning on not being here when that happens, I hope,” he responded aridly.
The Doctor smiled broadly. “Oh, we’ll be long gone by then, Major.” He continued to struggle with the instruments and finally cursed under his breath.
“What’s wrong?” This was Eroica, who had come to the TARDIS doorway to watch.
The Doctor gave a growl of annoyance and extracted himself from the capsule. “I can’t get into the panel I want. My fingers aren’t small enough.” He threw a quick glance over at the TARDIS. “If Jason were fit, he could do it by altering his hands.”
“Why not let the thief do it?” the Major suggested, much to his listeners amazement.
Eroica gave him a bright smile. “Is that an endorsement, Major?”
“You may be an idiot, but you are a good thief,” the Major stated flatly.
Eroica shrugged and crossed to the capsule. “I’m warning you, Doctor,” he said as he peered into the alien craft. “I’m not very good with machines.”
“Just think of it as disconnecting an alarm,” the Time Lord suggested as he directed the thief’s efforts. Within a few minutes, Eroica had succeeded in tripping the ship’s auto-destruct.
“Excellent!” the Doctor enthused. “Now, I suggest we all retire to the TARDIS before this creates a very loud bang.”
* * *
The Doctor dematerialized the TARDIS, rematerializing again several kilometres directly above the alien craft. He switched on the scanner and the three watched in silence as the capsule exploded, taking a large portion of the surrounding ice field with it.
“Won’t that register somewhere?” Eroica wanted to know.
“Undoubtedly,” the Time Lord replied. “But they’ll just pass it off as being another one of the tremors. Anyway, today is May 28th, 1983, isn’t it?”
Eroica exchanged a puzzled look with the Major. “Yes…” he replied hesitantly.
The Doctor nodded. “Well, after a great deal of seismic activity, the volcano will erupt around noon today, local time.”
“We’ve been walking around on a live volcano!” the appalled Eroica gasped.
“Changes the whole dynamic, doesn’t it?”
Everyone turned when Jason spoke. His voice was weak, but clear. The Doctor smiled broadly and crossed the room in what seemed like three steps. “I was wondering when you’d wake up again,” he said calmly. While his face was all smiles, his eyes were filled with concern.
Jason gave a weak smile. “Is it over?”
Eroica came up beside the Doctor and received a tired smile. Jason patted the side of the bed, inviting him to sit beside him, which he did.
“Don’t look so worried,” Jason said calmly. “I’ll be okay. The Doctor and K-9 know what to do for me.”
“Well, K-9 at least,” the Doctor replied playfully.
“Did you know about the volcano?” Eroica wanted to know.
Jason’s eyes flashed up to the Doctor and then back to the thief’s face. “No. I’m not as good as the Doctor at not interfering with historic events. I tend to want to change things.”
“That would drive me mad.”
“What makes you think it hasn’t me?”
At that moment the console started to beep for attention. “Incoming transmission, Master,” K-9 announced.
The Doctor frowned and crossed to the console, flipping a switch when he arrived. A voice started coming from the speaker, bringing an amused smile to the Eroica’s face. It was Mischa the Cub looking for his helicopter.
“Is there any way of responding?” the Major asked suddenly.
Eroica saw the evil look come to the Major’s face. “He’s going to enjoy this,” he remarked, bringing a puzzled look to Jason’s face. He didn’t know the Major could enjoy anything.
“Paval, respond!” Mischa’s voice was saying. “You should’ve been here hours ago!”
The Doctor hit the switch and held a hand out to the Major, inviting him to speak.
“Are you looking for you helicopter, Mischa?” the Major asked as he lit yet another cigarette.
There was a pause. “Who is this?”
“Don’t you recognize my voice, you stupid Russian toad?”
“Is this a joke?” Mischa replied. “What are you playing at, Paval? Get that helicopter back here!”
“I never joke,” the Major replied, blowing smoke into the air. “I always knew you were an idiot, Mischa. I just never realized how much of an idiot until now.”
The Major took another drag on his cigarette, clearly enjoying himself. “Finally. I thought I would have to spoon feed you.”
“How the hell—?”
“Shut up, you fat pig, and listen. You’re men are somewhere between the glacier and hell, the artefact is in millions of very tiny pieces, and your helicopter is in the possession of my agents.” The Major paused to take another drag on his cigarette. “And the NATO office in Reykjavik will very likely be interested in knowing why a civilian tanker has a military helicopter onboard.”
“You fucking Kraut!” Mischa snarled before cutting the transmission.
The Major looked over at the Doctor to see him smiling back at him. “Now, Doctor, I need to contact Reykjavik to see what damage my agents have done to the rest of Iceland.”
Long Road To Recovery
Jason had been moved from the console room to the bedroom just on the other side of the inner door. The damage he had sustained in less than a minute’s time would take weeks for his system to repair. The Doctor had offered to take him to an Alterran medical facility as soon as they left Earth in order to speed the healing process, but he had yet to make a decision on this.
Eroica came to the door and frowned. Jason was still snow white and covered with fine fractures. He looked like a piece of porcelain that had crazed after years of neglect.
Jason opened his eyes, seeing the concerned look on the face of the man in the doorway. He waved him in, a small smile on his face. “Are you appraising my value at auction?” he asked quietly.
Eroica gave him an amused look as he sat down on the bed. “I don’t think I’d get much for you. You’re broken.”
“Hey, I’m an antique,” the Alterran retorted. “Over a hundred years old.”
Eroica smiled only to have his usually cheerful face cloud over again. “Jason, you can stay at Castle Gloria for as long as you need to,” he invited suddenly.
Jason blinked. “Castle Gloria?”
“I’ve already talked to the Doctor,” Eroica went on quickly. “He told me you’re going to be laid up for a long time. You might as well spend it somewhere…” He paused taking in the stark white wall of the room. “Somewhere less sterile.”
Eroica gave him a wry smile. “All kidding aside, Jason, I thought we were friends.”
Jason could not help but smile at this, having said the same thing to Dorian the last time they had met. “Touché.” He gave him a sideways look. “This isn’t just a ploy to get me into one of your beds, is it?” he asked playfully.
Eroica smiled brightly and made a show of brushing his long blond curls away from his face. “I don’t know what you mean, you darling boy,” he said innocently.
“He means he’s not interested, you pervert,” came the Major’s voice from the door.
Eroica turned the innocent look in the Major’s direction. “Interested in what, Major? I was just inviting him to Castle Gloria to recuperate.”
The Major snorted and waved a hand in the air. “He would do better in the solitude of Schloss Eberbach,” he said without thinking.
Eroica gave him a stunned look, turning to the equally stunned Alterran.
After a moment, Jason said quietly, “Dorian, would you excuse us, please?”
Now it was the Major’s turn to be surprised. He had gone to the door to inform Eroica that the TARDIS had materialized in London and that the Doctor wanted him. He was hoping the pervert would realize he could leave and would do so.
Eroica left closing the door behind him, going to the control room to find the Doctor happily working at the console. He glanced up as he entered.
“There you are!” the Time Lord said brightly. “I knew the Major would find you.”
Eroica frowned. “Find me?”
The Doctor looked up again. “Yes. Didn’t he tell you I was looking for you?”
Eroica shook his head and threw a quick glance over to the inner door. “No. He’s in talking with Jason.”
“I know. Is it safe for those two to be in the same room together without a referee?”
“In his present condition, Jason’s hardly likely to inflict any damage on the Major.”
“What about vice versa?” Eroica took a step closer to the door and listened. “I don’t hear any shouting, either. That’s worrying.”
The Doctor drew a deep breath. “I’m not going to worry unless I hear gunshots.”
* * *
After Eroica had left, the Major and Jason stared silently at one another before Jason finally broke the silence, “I owe you an apology, Major.”
“You do?” This was news to the Major. No one ever apologized to him. Then again, he never apologized to anyone else, either.
Jason drew a deep breath. This was not going to be easy. The man was insufferable. “You and I haven’t exactly hit it off, Major. But you did, well, go against your orders to save my life. And for that I thank you.”
“To hell with orders,” the Major snorted, waving a hand in the air. “My superiors are imbeciles.”
Jason gave a small smile. “And you were just doing your job?”
The Major drew himself to his full height. “That’s correct. Finally you see that I’m a professional.”
“Major, you are more than that. I don’t know how many professionals I’ve met who refuse to think for themselves. They fall back on that age old excuse that they were just following orders. I can only thank God that you’re not one of them.”
The Major blinked. The numerous angry retorts that flashed through his mind were stopped when he remembered that the boy—the man—in the bed was an alien. How could he know the implications of his statement? I was just following orders. The catch phrase of the Nazis in the Second World War. The German people, his own people, still lived under the shadow of that horrific event.
Suddenly the Major realized he was actually being complimented. He was not one of the mindless sheep. He did not just follow orders. Hell, he rarely ever followed orders!
He looked at the Alterran and saw that he had drifted into sleep. After a minute, the Major turned to leave, throwing one last glance over his shoulder. “Thank you, Jason,” he said firmly. Then he left, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Jason opened his eyes at the sound of the door closing, a look of the ages passing across his tired blue eyes. A small smile came to his face and he closed his eyes again.
“You’re welcome, Major.”
* * * END * * *
Espionage On Ice © 2005 Margaret Price with Miss Sindeniirelle is an original work written for the enjoyment of Doctor Who & From Eroica With Love fans everywhere.
No copyright infringement is intended.
Doctor Who original series broadcast on the BBC. Format © BBC 1963
Doctor Who and Tardis are trademarks of the BBC.
The From Eroica With Love characters belong to Yasuko Aoike.
The story and all other original characters are © Margaret Price