'Our lives are different to anyone else's. That's the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing.'
Corporal Thomas Felguard opened fire on the advancing troops. With a sickening scream his pulse rifle unleashed a salvo of energy bolts. He was hiding behind a small cluster of rocks along with a handful of others from the 4th Dunedain, his regiment.
His pulsed energy deflection helmet, or 'Drachy' as they were known, registered that their allies in the 12th Dragoons had been decimated. He had feared that they wouldn't hold out - the Philippino 25th Peninsulas were far too strong for them. He'd known some good people in the 12th...
Felguard fired again and ran to new cover behind a small ridge: this part of Australia was rocky and desolate, a hell of a place to fight in. His helmet viewscreen informed him that he'd scored a solid hit with the last burst, causing severe tissue damage, internal bleeding, and a 69% possibility of serious spinal injury. The reams of information about the injured man flew up the screen almost as a blur. He'd set the data-flow rate to maximum himself: he didn't want to know.
He hated that level of detail. It had nearly made him sick the first time he had gone into battle. The fact that he had caused such pain and misery. But - as he kept telling himself - it was either them or him.
It disturbed him that so many took pleasure from knowledge of the carnage they inflicted. He tried to keep out of circles like that. But it was getting more difficult. He was a conscript - hell, nearly everyone was a conscript these days. But many were now receiving the Minister for Justice's 'alterations'. They became better killers, and worse human beings.
When Corporal Thomas Felguard had joined the 4th Dunedin's regiment three years earlier, Minister Greel had suggested that he could turn the war in their favour by making his soldiers 'better equipped for battle'. Roughly translated, Felguard thought, he wanted to turn them into mindless killing machines.
Of course, things like this had happened before since the technology had existed, with disastrous consequences. But people rarely learned from their mistakes.
'Fall back,' screeched Felguard's senior officer over the helmet interlink. Great, he thought.
The infantry units of the 4th Dunedin drew back through the desert to their safely guarded Wyvern-class APC skimmers. The Wyverns were double length carriers with no visible windows, broad enough to take the soldiers' ammunition and other supplies. They were already hovering above the ground ready for departure.
Felguard got in through the rear access hatch. In the back were two rows of black seats each against a side wall, each row capable of holding ten soldiers. The compartment itself was well lit by a striplights. He strapped himself in alongside the dejected survivors in their green and grey combat gear, still wearing their helmets and clutching their weapons.
'We're going back to Terric Boew, lads,' announced the sergeant at the end of Felguard's row.
Corporal Thomas Felguard nodded, and sighed. 'Back to Boew.'
Fifty or so wyverns took off and retreated to New Zealand.
Through the vastness of space and time travelled what appeared to be a mid-twentieth century Police box. To its occupants it was known as the TARDIS.
To the human beings who existed at the time when the TARDIS's exterior was meant to blend in, it would have appeared impossible for more than a few tightly packed people to fit into the box. The TARDIS however didn't adhere to anything approaching what most people would have understood as possible.
Inside the time/space machine was an apparently infinite maze of corridors and rooms. In one of these rooms stood a man, apparently middle-aged, with a mop of dark hair and a face like a troubled clown, wearing a shabby frock-coat and baggy check trousers, a crumpled bow tie and a frayed white shirt.
The room in question was octagonal in shape, its white walls studded with circular indentations. In the centre of the room was an hexagonal console with a pulsating transparent column at its centre. In one wall was a set of large double doors which led out of the TARDIS, while
opposite was a single smaller door lead further to the interior of the craft.
The Doctor - as he was called by most who knew him - was deeply concerned by a small flock of starlings currently flying frantically around the console room.
'Jamie!' yelled the Doctor through the door to the rear. He looked around frantically, trying to keep track of the birds flying around the room. A young man, wearing a plaid kilt and denim shirt, came rushing in.
'What is it Doctor...? said the young man, before noticing the obvious and ducking to avoid an oncoming starling. He had a thick Highland accent. 'Och, I see.'
'Did you let these in Jamie?' asked the Doctor, waving frantically in the direction of a few passing birds.
Jamie looked up. 'Ah, well... erm, I don't think so...' he replied a little unconvincingly.
The Doctor had first met Jamie McCrimmon when he'd arrived in 1746 Scotland following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Jamie was the piper for the McClaren clan, who had been on the run from the English army. He had offered Jamie the chance to join them on their travels, and had since become a valuable friend, useful to have around on many
occasions. This was not one of them.
One of the starlings briefly landed on the console, before the Doctor shooed it off. 'You went into the TARDIS aviary, didn't you Jamie?' he asked.
'Yes, Doctor,' replied Jamie. 'But I was sure that I'd closed all the cages again.'
Feathers were now floating down all around the room. A few moments earlier the Doctor had arrived from further inside the TARDIS, after trying to repair another part of the machine, to find the console room in its current state. He was horrified to find some birds pecking at his recorder, and had managed to retrieve it still intact, much to his relief (and possibly the disappointment of anyone else who would now
still have to listen to him).
'What's all the noise?' Zoe, a very small, elfin-featured young woman came into the room and saw what was going on. 'Oh, what have you done now Jamie?'
'It's not my fault I tell you!' replied Jamie.
'Well, these starlings didn't just appear from nowhere,' said Zoe matter of factly. She was still wearing the plasticised jacket and skirt that she'd been wearing during their previous adventure, an encounter with the crystalline menace of the Krotons.
Zoe Herriot had first met the Doctor whilst she was a librarian aboard a space station. She was a genius, almost equivalent to the Doctor. Aliens known as the Cybermen had attacked the station, and it was with the help of Zoe and Jamie that the Doctor managed to defeat the Cyberman threat. Afterwards Zoe stowed aboard the TARDIS, and despite the Doctor's misgivings, was thoroughly enjoying their
'Well, however they got here,' the Doctor decided, 'They can't stay here, or they could damage the TARDIS. We can worry about whose fault it is later!' The Doctor ducked out of the way of a few birds as he went towards the console.
'I think the best thing would be to let them go,' the Doctor continued, darting around the console flicking switches and pushing buttons. 'I'll try and set us down somewhere that they'll be able to survive and not do too much ecological damage. I just hope I get them out of here before they start, er, leaving us little presents...' The Doctor gave a wry smile. Jamie and Zoe looked at each other and sighed.
Jamie had never fully trusted the TARDIS to take them where they wanted to go...
The echo of an alien engine sounded through a green valley on a grey cloudy day. A blue hazy image began to appear on the side of a large hill. As it finally appeared solid, it lost its purchase on the hill, and toppled slowly towards the valley floor...