'Code blue?' the Doctor winced. He was almost offended. 'That's just for the exploitation of minerals andother resources.'
Renshaw didn't care that much. It meant that at least there was no real urgency for a Dalek relief ship to arrive. However, looking around she still wanted to make pieces fit into place. She shrugged. 'Maybe they found something.'
The Doctor sniffed, 'Such as?'
'If we carried on looking, we might find that out,' Renshaw snapped back. This Doctor was either a bigot or an intense chauvanist pig, she decided. Damn cheek!
The Doctor proceeded to ignore her and continued to wave his arms around with mounting indignance. 'It's almost as if the whole base simply collapsed and the Daleks switched themselves off.'
'A Dalek suicide squad?' Renshaw laughed.
The Doctor suddenly remembered that she was there and looked at her with humour in his eyes. They shone brightly, like polished ebony. 'Deciding that they couldn't take it any more?' he burst out, sarcastically and shouted, 'Bye, bye cruel Universe!'
They both started to laugh. Suddenly a new message appeared on the screen and Renshaw was left to finish her laugh alone. It crumpled to an unsatisfactory halt. She was engrossed, eyes blazing at what was written:
"DATA: 0773/4/9640. MINERAL LOCATED. UNIDENTIFED. ORDERS: INVESTIGATE. PROGRAMME STARTS 044. TRANSFERRED TO SECURITY CODE YELLOW."
'They never cared for a detailed account of what they got up to,' the Doctor moaned, 'This is very unhelpful.'
The voice cut the air sharply and the two turned quickly to find a worried member of the crew hurrying over, concern and panic flooding over his features. He was beckoning for attention in the middle of the floor.
They rushed over to him and faced him expectantly. He couldn't find it in him to force the words out.
'What is it?' Renshaw's clearcut voice brought him to the reality of the situation. He stammered in rushed speech what he had to say.
'It's the Daleks,' he gibbered, 'when we counted them there were eight. We've just checked again and one of them is missing!'
The Doctor exploded and rushed around the room. 'Are you sure you counted them right the first time?' he yelled.
'Which way did it go?' the Doctor asked quickly.
Reegan couldn't answer.
'Did you see it leave?' The Doctor continued unabaited. He caught Reegan's demolished expression and stood over him threateningly. 'Why didn't you see it go?'
Reegan looked down doefully. 'I was outside, with Willis- '
'You left your posts?' Renshaw exclaimed. She steamed cooly, 'Why?'
Reegan couldn't meet her eyes. 'We were smoking.'
'You fools!' she shouted. 'Not only have you usurped your duties, but you've also filled your lungs with that Andromedan filth!'
'Now, if you were to try the old Earth type tobacco- ' The Doctor was cut short by Renshaw.
'Where was it?' she asked.
'Here,' Willis indicated, 'God knows what it's doing now!'
The Doctor bent down and began to study the floor in rapturous concern. He followed the dust trail out of the door and then returned to the control centre, with the slightest trace of anger on his face. 'The crew have disturbed the dust out there too much for us to follow the trail. All we're left with is where it once stood.' He rounded on Willis once more: 'You and your friend Reegan are a bunch of incompetent morons!'
The two officers stood alone in slience for a few seconds. Renshaw made a note that when the time came for her to give them their debriefing she would give them a very hard time. She was contemplating taking that course a step further, when the Doctor suddenly reached over and grabbed her communicator from her belt. She started to protest, but the Doctor had it already and was pressing the call button.
'Captain,' he said 'Get up here!'
Johnson was unused to being commanded and from the other end of the line came a muffled squark of surprise. It was quickly replaced by a loud bellow. 'What?' he roared, 'Who said that?'
The Doctor seemed likely to begin attacking Johnson again and given the present circumstances Renshaw felt that this would only lead to the wasting of valuable time. She snatched the communicator back, deciding that she would not make excuses for the Doctor on the gorunds that Johnson already knew who had spoken and that she would only get into trouble for interceding. Interesting as the Doctor undoubtedly was, she could not afford to stake out her own reputation on his behalf.
'Captain Johnson, this is Dr. Renshaw. It's one of the Daleks, sir. It's gone missing.'
The reply came immediately. 'I'll be there directly.'
Renshaw didn't look at Reegan or Willis, but turned their back on them. 'You'll be lucky if you don't end up facing a Court Martial for this,' she said menacingly, 'You've put the whole crew in danger.'
'What's been happening?' he demanded sourly 'Reegan and Willis, I hope you've been up to standard, you're both on an extended probationary period as it is.'
'Never mind that now,' the Doctor interceded, causing Reegan and Willis to breath heavy sighs of relief. 'You can deal with bureaucratic nonsense later,' he continued, making the two breathe back in once more. 'That Dalek needs to be found!'
Johnson looked about to explode once more, but then calmed. Even thou the Doctor was giving orders again, they seemed to be very sensible ones.He let it pass, just this once. 'Alright, sound the general alarm,' he instructed the two guards nearby, 'Red Alert. I'll let everyone know what's happening.'
Further down the corridor, something stirred. Light from the control room glanced across its frame. It had returned for a moment, waiting for information. The Dalek listened intently to Johnson's plans and worked out the most convenient way of avoiding the security net that he was setting up. Then, the Captain had finished, it slipped under the veil of darkness once more and vanished.
Johnson replaced the communicator in his holster and took out his gun. It glinted evilly as it reflected the dull light of the room. The Doctor looked at it in distaste. Johnson waved it in front of his eyes and then looked up suddenly.
'Okay, let's go!' he ordered. 'Everyone is going to check all the nooks and crannies in this place before we leave.' He started to walk towards the door with his men in tow. 'We'll find your Dalek, Doctor.'
In the lower levels of the base, a crew member was walking along his section. In a few moments he would be back with Phillips and able to talk. He detested such duties as corridor watches and always did his best to avoid the monotony such services could render unto the victim. There was nothing happening anyway, he thought, the whole thing was one of Johnson's countless drills. As he neared Phillips' section he called out: 'Hey, did you hear that, Phillips? Red Alert! Again!'
A muffled cry was followed by the sound of something heavy falling on the metal floor. He stood stock still and waited. A faint creak reached his ears and he held his breathe.
He almost hoped that something would happen but it didn't. A few minutes later, he began to creep forward once more, thinking that it was all just a false alarm. When he was finally convinced that there was nothing there he walked openly and with billowing confidence into Phillips' section.
He laughed. 'Hey, Phillips!'
Facing him was the Dalek. He froze, a faint gargle coming from his lips. With lightening reflexes he snatched the communicator from his belt and shouted: 'Captain! It's down here! It's here!'
A single bolt from the Dalek's gun sent him charred fragments crashing into the wall opposite. He cracked, breaking into a hundred blackened, brittle pieces which scattered themselves across the surface of the floor. The embers, licked by flames, stayed lit for several minutes after the Dalek had departed even further into the depths of the base.
The Doctor, Renshaw and Johnson belted down a further anonymous corridor searching for the now, dead member of the crew. The Doctor had led them down conduits and sub hall ways but eventually he put up his hand and the group drew to a halt.
'Did you get a fix on his position?'
'You can't,' Johnson replied, shaking his head, 'It's simply an intercom.'
The Doctor looked at him. 'Then we'll never find him.'
'You're only saying that because you've got us lost.' Johnson replied. The Doctor gave Johnson a sneering look.
'You know something?' he rumbled.
Johnson was unimpressed. 'What?'
'I think we're lost.' The Doctor pointed forwards. 'It must be this way.' He raced on down the corridor with Renshaw and Johnson in pursuit. They were tired of following this real life clown around the base, especially since he professed knowledge that he obviously didn't possess. They arrived at a massive gash which had slashed its way through the walls of the base. The Doctor stared outwards.
Johnson drew level with him. 'Hold on,' he said, before suddenly being drawn to a halt by what the Doctor had seen outside. Renshaw followed suit and was amazed.
'You know, I don't think the Daleks had anything to do with this wreckage.' He noted wisely. He pointed outwards.
A vast ball of energy was hovering over the nearest hill overlooking the base. It stood like a huge, brilliant white, oval column. Thunderbolts cascaded from its sides and ran through the ground into the depths below. Totally silent, it hung there, waiting. The grey coloured clouds were driven into obscurity by it's presence and the light it omitted washed over the faces of the three looking out.
'That is the cause of the devastation here...' the Doctor exclaimed.