Chapter 7: Under Siege

A shimmering blue curtain of energy sprang into life across the doorway.
Almost at the same moment, the blasters fired; their shots dissipated against
the force field. Gia and Zoe exchanged relieved glances.

"So that's it?" Victoria asked. "We're safe now?"

"No, we're under siege," Jamie said. "If yon fellows find another way in,
or yon force field breaks--"

"It won't last forever," Gia said. "I used an ethanol fuel cell for power.
When it runs out of ethanol, that's it."

"How long have we got?"

"Depends if they try to blast it down or just wait us out. Either way, we
need to decide what to do now."

"We need to do all sorts of stuff," Samantha said. "Problem is, there's no
way we can do any of it on this side of a locked door."

Isobel looked at her recall discs. "Do you think we could use these? I
mean, if we used them to get back to the Round, and then had the Doctor
send us back to different parts of the ship?"

"We don't know if he would," Victoria said. "He might say there were rules
against that sort of thing. You know what he's like."

Jamie nodded. "Aye, I do. But we could send you back, and you could ask
him. If he says Yes, he can send you here and you can tell us. And if he
says No, you'll be safe at the Round."

Victoria shook her head. "Certainly not. I'm staying here with you."

"So we'll have to find some other way to deal with these Logicians," Zoe

Jamie looked up. "The Logicians?"

"That's who Lissa -- Lieutenant Malmsten -- said she was working for.
They're a secret society or something." Zoe had crossed to one of the racks,
and was methodically searching through its contents. "They say they've got
the finest minds in the Galaxy working for them. Why, have you heard of them?"

"Aye, I've met one of them before. And so's Victoria. Klieg, he called
himself. He wasnae so clever as he thought he was."

"Why, what did he do?"

"He thought he could recruit the Cybermen to his cause," Victoria said.

"Really? He must have been mad!"

Victoria shivered at the memory. "That much is quite certain."

"Isn't that a good thing?" Isobel asked. "For us, I mean. If they had a
nutter like that working for them, maybe the rest aren't as clever as they
think they are."

"Lissa said they'd planned for all possibilities," Zoe said.

"Oh, yeah?" Samantha said. "You think they're ready for kamikazes?"

"What's one of them?" Jamie asked.

"Look, we've got these things, right?" She held up the recall discs. "So
we can do things, and not worry how to get out of it afterwards. I mean,
they think there's stuff we wouldn't do, 'cos we'd die. But we know there's
a way out, so we could do it."

"I see," Zoe said thoughtfully. "They wouldn't be able to predict our
behaviour, because they don't know we have that ability."

"Half a mo'," Samantha said. "Gia. That force field thing's working, so how
come you're still mucking about over there?"

"Finally someone asks," Gia said. "I'm making a T-Mat base station."

"I thought those were as big as a house and weighed tons."

"If I had access to the technology from my time, yes, but we're centuries
in my future." Gia held up a tube, about the length of a pen but thicker,
decorated with sunflowers. "This is from a child's toy, and broken at that.
I can use it to replace a circuit that would normally be too big to fit in
this room."

"So you can beam us to anywhere on this ship?" Jamie asked.

"We shall have to see. I haven't finished it yet. Plus we've only got the
one fuel cell, so it'll drain the forcefield every time we use it."

"So we can't go anywhere." Isobel glanced around for something to sit on,
found nothing, and reluctantly lowered herself to the floor. "Is there
anything we can do while we're here?"

Gia shook her head. "I can't think of anything. Other than not distracting
me with unnecessary conversation."

They sat in uneasy silence, listening to the sounds of footsteps coming
and going outside, until Gia said "I'm ready to test." She crossed to the
far side of the room, drew an X on the floor, then took a small can of
grease from one of the racks and placed it in her improvised teleporter.
"Can you all stand back from the target, please?"

The group gathered by the workbench. Gia flicked a couple of switches,
then pushed a group of three sliders to their full travel. The can winked
out of existence; a moment later, a ragged hole was blasted in the floor,
some way to one side of the X. There was a brief, hot rain of metal shards
and burning grease.

"Oh dear," Isobel said.

"Good job ye didnae try it on one of us," Jamie added.

Zoe crossed to the hole and peered at it. "What happened?"

"Looks like the circuit I used for reintegration containment isn't up to
the job." Gia absent-mindedly wiped her hands on her costume. "I don't think
that's something I can fix. At least, not with what I've got here."

"At least you've made us another way out," Samantha said. "Didn't someone
say Emmi was in a room downstairs?"

"Yes," Victoria said.

"Then let's go." She gingerly touched the edge of the hole, found it cool
enough not to burn, and lowered herself through it.


Within a minute, everybody -- except Gia, who'd reluctantly agreed to stay
behind and keep an eye on the force field -- had reached the sickbay where
Emmi was being held. Cautiously, Jamie pressed his ear to the door.

"So, you're still resisting, are you?" Malmsten's voice was saying. "Let's
see how long that--"

Jamie flung the door open, and hurled himself at Malmsten, grabbing her
right arm. Samantha secured her left, while Isobel caught her by the legs.
Zoe and Victoria hurried across to the operating table and set about freeing
Emmi from the machine. Under the dome, sharp electrodes were pressed against
her skull, and each one needed to be removed with care.

"Hurry up," Jamie called. "Yon Lieutenant's a frisky one."

"I've got her gun," Samantha said. "Take it, someone."

Victoria took the gun, leaving Zoe to detach the last few connections and
help Emmi to her feet.

"What are we to do with the Lieutenant?" she said. "We can't let her go."

"Shoot her," Emmi said. "She's a traitor. That's what she deserves."

Victoria shook her head. "I couldn't do that."

"Then give me the gun and I'll do it!"

"Certainly not."

"I really wish I hadn't lost those handcuffs," Isobel said. "Can't we tie
her up with something?"

"Yeah," Samantha said. "Zoe, you know what to do."

"I haven't got enough skirt left!" Zoe protested. She looked around, and
noticed Emmi's long white gown. "But Emmi has."

Emmi went pale. "No! This outfit cost thousands. It's a genuine 23rd century
antique by Lucas Vallejo..."

"Get a move on!" Jamie shouted.

Victoria handed the gun to Zoe and grasped the hem of Emmi's skirt. "Believe
me," she said, "if you come away from this with nothing worse than a ruined
dress, you'll be blessing your good fortune."

Before long, Emmi's gown had become a ragged miniskirt and Malmsten was
securely bound and gagged.

"We ought to make sure they don't put Emmi in that machine again," Isobel
said. "You know, if they happen to recapture her."

Zoe aimed her captured gun, and fired several shots into likely-looking
bits of the machine. Its control panels flickered and went out.

"Good enough?" she said.

"It'll do. Come on, let's get out of here."

The party retraced their footsteps, returning to the room below their
improvised redoubt. A dim blue glow came from the hole in the ceiling, with
the outline of a head silhouetted against it.

"Gia?" Jamie called.

"Here I am," Gia's voice replied.

"We've got Emmi. Can you help her up?"

With assistance from above and below, Emmi was hoisted through the hole
into the storeroom. Isobel followed; as Jamie was beginning to lift Victoria,
the sound of running footsteps could be heard outside.

"There's someone coming," Samantha called. "We'll try and lead them off.
You keep Emmi safe."

Accompanied by Jamie, Zoe and Victoria, she hurried out into the corridor.


Gia tweaked the last few circuits into place, and threw a switch. Another
force field glowed into life, covering the hole in the floor.

"And now we're locked in again," she said. "Of course, two force fields
will last half as long. It's a pity there isn't more alcohol here."

"I suppose what we drank last night isn't any help?" Isobel asked. "You
can't extract it from our bodies somehow?"

"Sadly, no. Still, we're making some progress. Emmi's safe -- well, she's
not being brainwashed any more. 'Safe' might be a bit optimistic."

"No kidding." Isobel tried to push her hair out of her eyes. "Is it just
me, or is it getting stuffy in here?"

"It isn't just you," Gia said. "Someone must have shut the air recyclers

Emmi shook her head. "That wouldn't make any sense. The crew need air just
as much as we do."

"Perhaps they can shut the air off in sections. They could stay in an area
with good air and leave us to suffocate."

"That's an outrage!"

"Well, there's nothing we can do about it."

"Isn't there?" Isobel asked. "Couldn't we do the same to them?"


"You know that teleporter of yours?"

"The one that doesn't work," Gia said pointedly.

"Yes, that one. Couldn't you beam something into that oxygen room Victoria
was talking about?"

"It would explode." Gia looked up, realisation dawning in her eyes. "And
take out their entire oxygen supply. That would throw a spanner or two in
their works."

"But we need to breathe as well," Emmi said.

"Ah, but only until we get rescued. And there aren't as many of us. Let's
see... Isobel, see what you can find by way of ammunition. A canister of
nails would be ideal."


"There's someone round that corner," Jamie whispered. "Between us and the

"Then what are we waiting for?" Samantha asked. "We're supposed to be a
distraction. Let's do some distracting."

Victoria nudged Zoe. "Please can I have the gun?"

Zoe handed the gun over without demur. Victoria aimed carefully at the
furthest visible ceiling light, and fired. The light exploded, raining
sparks; as it did so, Victoria pointed her gun around the corner and fired
again. As she ducked back, whoever was around the corner returned fire,
hitting the far corridor wall.

"Run!" she said.

They ran.

"They're probably sending people round the other way to cut us off," Jamie
said, as they rounded another corner.

"This place is a maze," Samantha grumbled. "Why'd they have to put all
these passages all over the place?"

"I think it's so they can easily access all parts of the inner hull," Zoe
said. "The corridor we're in would go all the way round the ship."

"So all anyone's got to do is stay where they are and we'll run into them
coming the other way?"

"Well, yes."


Jamie grabbed them both by the shoulders. "There's someone coming!"

"Ahead or behind?" Zoe asked.

They listened.

"I think it's both," Victoria said. "We're surrounded."

Samantha kicked open a nearby door, revealing a dimly-lit chamber full of
huge metal cylinders. "Better go to ground for a bit," she said.

"How will that help?"

"It won't help us, but if they're trying to dig us out of here, they
aren't going after Emmi, are they?"

She took a step into the chamber. Before she could take another, there was
a distant thud, and a terrible splintering noise. High-pitched alarms began
to wail; a moment later, choking black smoke began to fill the corridor,
seeming to come from everywhere at once.

"What's happening?" Victoria asked.

Zoe had already dived for a panel on the wall, marked with a stylised green
icon of a breathing mask. "Oxygen failure!" she said. "Some lunatic's blown
up the air recycler."

Samantha hurried after her. The smoke was already catching at her throat.
"Hope it's one of our lunatics," she said, choking. "Can't breathe properly."

"Here, have this." Zoe handed her a transparent facemask, attached to the
wall by a tube. "Jamie?" She looked around, but the smoke was now thick to
the point of impenetrability. "Stay here. I'll find Jamie and Victoria."

She disappeared into the smoke, returning after a worryingly long time with
Jamie. Both had streaming eyes and were coughing furiously.

"We can't find Victoria," Zoe managed. She pressed one of the oxygen masks
to Jamie's face, snatched another for herself, and took a deep breath. "You
can't see anything in this."

Jamie's coughing fit subsided as the oxygen mask took effect.

"That means those Logicians could sneak up on us," he said soberly. "We're
sitting ducks here."

"They'll need the masks too, won't they?" Samantha said. "Unless they've
got spacesuits or something."

"I daresay someone's breaking out the spacesuits right now," Zoe said.

A chime sounded through the smoke, followed by the captain's voice.

"Oxygen systems fatally degraded. All hands, abandon ship," he said, simply.
"Repeat: All hands, abandon ship."

There were distant sounds of hurrying feet -- some seeming to head in their
direction, some away. The trio crouched down, trying to make themselves
inconspicuous. Running footsteps approached, and went past without slackening
their speed. As they faded away, other distant sounds could be heard: the
clang of hatches, and the brief hiss of thrusters.

"Now what?" Samantha asked.

"We still need to find Victoria--" Jamie began. He broke off. A wind was
blowing in their faces, sweeping the dense smoke away. In the corridor ahead,
two figures were visible. Victoria was lying prone and motionless by one of
the walls, perhaps ten metres away; between her and them, with an oxygen
cylinder in one hand and a gun in the other, was Captain Tseng.

Chapter 8: Send Her Victorious

Back to Contents Page