Sunday, 10 February 2013

Doctor Who (Game B) Session Write-up - Das Metallreich Part 2


N.B. What follows is a prose narration of the events that took place in a roleplaying game session. It can be regarded as a kind of Doctor Who fan-fiction, except that all the events are driven by occurrences in-game and is presented in first-draft quality. It is not intended to fully recreate any events or characters from any previous Doctor Who episode, book, radio series or comic, with the exception of some iconic villains. Even The Doctor is a reinvention, starting out as a first-regeneration Timelord with little history; Perhaps how the Doctor may appear in a different reality. It cannot, therefore, be wrong on any canonical continuity. It exists within itself and is presented purely for reading pleasure and to inform role-playing experiences. Thank you :)

You can read Part One of Doctor Who - Das Metallreich here.

Chapter Four – The Metallensturmtruppen


    Georgie's mouth was frozen in an open gape of horror. None of the group moved.
    The robotic soldier stopped still for a moment, craning its head this way and that, taking in the surroundings. The Doctor wasn't sure if it could see them, or if its sensors were based on sound on some other kind of sense. The machine didn't appear to have any kind of sensors in the front of its black, featureless dome of a face.
    The Doctor edged around one of the worktops. The robot seemed to crane its head around, following the Doctor's motion.
    It seemed to be reacting to sound, The Doctor thought, but no theory was worthwhile without testing the hypothesis. As the robot began to lurch forward, The Doctor raised an arm in the direction of one of the metal decorative shield bosses that hung at regular intervals around the workshop. He focused his metal energy and the shield rocked back and forth on its mounting.
    It came free and clattered to the ground with a loud ringing.
    The robot stopped in its tracks and arched around, staring at the source of the disturbance.
    Georgie and Captain Seager backed away, heading for the cover of a stack of wooden crates in the corner of the room. Captain Seager was fairly light on his feet, but as Georgie's shoes clipped off the hard workshop floor, the robot swung its attention back in their direction.
    They both froze, but the robot began to advance decisively towards Georgie's position.
    Quickly, The Doctor stared about the room for options. He noted the low-hanging bulb lights, suspended across the ceiling amid looping electricity cables. His eyes narrowed and he focused his metal strength upon breaking the cable and bringing it down upon the robot soldier's metal frame.
    The Doctor raised his hands and pointed at the light fittings, for focus. Georgie and Captain Seager watched in wonder as a section of the lighting array pulled away from the ceiling in a shower of sparks and arcing electricity, seemingly yanked free by the The Doctor's will alone.
    The exposed wiring dropped onto the metal figure below, resulting in a smacking, burning noise. The robot dropped to one knee with an electrically modulated cry of agony, pulling at the live cables which had welded themselves onto the surface of its body and were overloading its electrical systems. With an effort of strength, the robot looped the slack cable around an armour-plated arm began to pull hard.
    Georgie took the distraction as an opportunity to duck behind the stacked boxes in the corner of the workshop. Captain Seager steadied the German machine-gun against a worktop and tried to fire a burst shot against the robot's head. The shot went wide and Seager cursed.
    Cables snapped tight across the ceiling as the robot exerted itself against the wiring. The Metallensturmtruppen pulled hard on the cable and the distribution box on the far wall finally succumbed to the incredible force and tore free from of its housing, plunging the workshop into a terrible blackness.
    Georgie breathed heavily in the dark, the silence broken only by the distant alarm and the writhing of the injured robot. She could hear grinding metal as the artificial man dragged itself up onto its feet in the black gloom.
    Low-powered emergency lights along the wall glowed into life, spilling murky red light over the workshop. The Doctor's eyes adjusted in time to see the hulking machine drawing itself back up to its full height. Under the red lighting the white portions of the Swastika painted on the black robot's chest seemed to glow eerily.
    “Aufhalten!” Captain Seager shouted, in an attempt to talk the machine into stopping. When he had been given his German language training before the mission, he had never imagined that he would be using it to communicate with a metal man! The robot turned its blank face in the direction of Captain Seager.
    The Doctor felt a heavy shape against his ankle. Looking down he could see a welding kit and cylinder resting against one of the work counters. Seeing an opportunity while the robot was distracted by Captain Seager, he grabbed it up quickly and fired the flame into action. The Robot looked around at the last minute as The Doctor strode forward and pressed the hot jet into a gap between the robot's armour plates.
    The robot gave an electronic howl of pain and turned in the direction of the Doctor, murderously.
    Georgie could see that the robot was about to harm the Doctor and grabbed at a heavy wrench on the worktop. She hurled it at the machine, but it bounced uselessly off the armour.
    The Robot strode toward the retreating Doctor, its steps quickly turning into a charge which exhibited incredible speed and force.
    The Doctor felt as though he'd been hit by a steam train. The Robot's tough shoulder smashed into his arm and chest, knocking the wind out of him and sending him stumbling into a worktop. The welding equipment was knocked from the Doctor's hand, smashing onto the ground in multiple pieces. The robot's momentum was completely unchecked as it crashed forward and clattered into the stone wall.
    Moonlight flooded into the chamber as the stone wall collapsed outward under the weight of the charge. Cold air and stray snow-flakes blew in around the hulking figure and the room seemed much lighter. Beyond, the steep snow-drenched slope was visible, leading down to the trees and the village beyond at the bottom of the valley.
    The Doctor looked at the welding equipment on the floor. It looked a little beyond repair, but the fuel cylinder looked intact.
    As the robot turned and looked set to charge back toward him, The Doctor shouted to Seager, “Captain, the cylinder!” With a flash of mental strength, the Doctor caused the cylinder to slide across the floor, near to the robot's feet.
    Seager cursed again, seeing that the cylinder was slightly out of his line of sight. He raced out from behind his cover and lined up his shot. The robot turned toward him as he moved and began to charge. Seager squeezed the trigger gently and a cluster of hot metal slugs tore through the air. The bullet smacked into the cylinder, cracking the metal and igniting the pressurised gas inside.
    Georgie could feel a wave of heat on her skin as a fireball erupted in the wall breach. The robot was engulfed in flame and the pressure blasted cracks into its black armour. Wiring and complex parts were now visible through considerable gaps in the metal plating. The Doctor and companions watched as the flames licked around the damaged-looking robot's body.
    A recording of a voice crackled out from a box in the far wall of the workshop. Captain Seager's German wasn't good enough to understand it and Georgie didn't understand all of the words, despite hearing it in her native English thanks to the translation circuits in the Tardis. Only The Doctor understood the words clearly: “Experimental Laser Weapon charged and ready for use.”
    The robot charged wildly out of the fireball, racing into the room towards the source of the voice. The Doctor was knocked aside once more as the robot charged by. He could see the robot stumbling towards a cabinet on the wall. Presumably the experimental weapon would be inside. He knew instinctively that he didn't want to see what it did.
    He got to his feet, looking for options to slow or destroy the robot. What he saw froze both of his hearts. From the storage chamber whence the metal killer had emerged there were glimmers of more motion.
    Georgie stared as two more black-clad metal soldiers strode into the room. Now they had to face three of them.
    “We have to get out of here!” Seager shouted to The Doctor, who nodded, vigorously.
    All eyes turned to the breach in the stone wall and the snow-clad tree-line leading down to a nearby settlement.
    The Doctor's eyes darted around the room, looking for options. Suddenly he smiled an incredibly broad grin.
    “Grab a shield each!” The Doctor yelled, indicated the various decorative bosses around the walls, “and follow me!”
  
    The Doctor grabbed at a nearby shield and ran out through the opening, cackling happily. This was what he travelled the universe to do: crazy stunts and adrenalin-fuelled chases. He could feel an itch deep within his soul waiting to be scratched and he realised it had been too long since he had attempted anything this reckless.
    As his feet took up a familiar stance on the primitive shape of the metal shield, his mind wandered, unbidden, into an unwelcome memory: the memory of a boarding adventure on another world in another time. He remembered the heat of the lava on his skin, even through the suit. He remembered the low hum of the plasma board beneath his feet and the laughing of his companions. Then he remembered sudden, unexpected catastrophe followed inevitably by screams and death. He remembered angry eyes, blaming him for surviving when others had not returned. He remembered losing... her.
    He shook his head, physically, to expel the memory. This was a completely different place and time and the icy surface that picked up speed and began to race by beneath him was an extreme opposite of the burning magma of that faraway volcano.
    The Doctor looked around to check on Georgie and Captain Seager's progress. Both had cleared the breach in the wall and were picking up speed down the hillside, the soft snow forming a perfect slope. He laughed and waved at them both.
    Captain Seager's returned The Doctor's cheerful wave with a salute. His military training had covered a number of scenarios, but sliding down a snowy hill on a concave disc of metal had not featured. Nevertheless, his extensive training and growing practise with the Rocket-Pack had given him a greater instinct for balance and travelling unprotected at high speed. There was a exposed spur of granite protruding through the hillside and the snow, but Seager found it was little difficulty to lean his weight on the shield and skirt around it gracefully.
    Georgie was less comfortable and in no position to respond to The Doctor's cheerful calls. She had watched how he and Captain Seager had mounted their shields and tried their best to emulate them. She cried out as the board picked up pace and raced down the steep slope.
    The Doctor grinned, seeing that his companions had safely escaped and grasped the basics of this new snowboarding/tobogganing hybrid they had inadvertently created. He laughed out loud, suddenly. He wondered if he had created a new sport on this planet – assuming they lived to tell the tale.
    As he regained his concentration and looked ahead of him once more, he saw that his lack of attention had diminished his chances somewhat. As he approached the tree-line very, very fast, he saw a fallen tree lying directly across his path. Sizing it up, he couldn't see any way that he could swerve around it at either end; he was heading almost exactly for the centre point.
    He realised he would have to perform a tricky manoeuvre – something that future adrenalin-junkies on this world would one day refer to as an “Ollie” – in order to try to get over the log. As the wall of fallen wood grew terrifyingly close, The Doctor kicked down with his back foot, taking advantage of the natural curve of the metal shield, and launched his makeshift snowboard up into the air. He pressed down with his leading foot to level out.
    With a sudden shock he calculated that he would not clear the obstruction. The Doctor's shield clipped the edge of the fallen log, the impact resonating up through his legs. As the shield landed at an awkward angle he almost lost his balance and only just managed to swerve to avoid a tree of the upright variety that sped towards him out of the gloom. All things considered he wasn't demonstrating as natural a mastery of this invented sport as he had hoped.
    Georgie was also terrified and in danger of a serious injury. The glances she had dared to take filled her with frustration as she watched Captain Seager weave and bob expertly and gracefully between the trees and around obstacles. She was determined that she could master this skill as well as any man, no matter how well trained he was. She saw it as her duty to perform to the best of her abilities. She kept that in mind as an overhanging branch whipped her painfully in the face and her shield ricocheted hard off an exposed boulder.
    The Doctor was veering and swerving dangerously left and right; clearly this was much harder to do than he had remembered. He winced and lost his balance totally as his attempt to skirt around a large rock failed and he smacked the edge of his shield viciously. His knees buckled and he dropped down into the centre of the shield, holding the edges with his hands and getting his centre of gravity as low as possible. He knew he didn't look as cool as he felt he ought – but at least he might make it to the bottom in one piece.
    The last of the trees swished past the three travellers and they found themselves clear of the tree-line. They each slowed naturally as the steepness of the slope began to bottom out into a flat plain. Georgie gasped for breath and tried to regain her composure as she came to rest.
    The Doctor rolled off his board onto his back, cackling loudly. “Woo!” he explained, “that was what I needed to clear the dust out!”
    Captain Seager stepped off his board and kicked down on the rim. The metal shield obediently sat up and jumped into his grasp. He stuck it down in the snow firmly and reverted almost immediately to his training, glancing around him to determine their new situation. He looked back up at the castle. He could just about see the breach in the wall, with some light smoke drifting up into the dawn sky. They would be followed eventually, but he could see no sign of pursuers.
    He turned his attention to their immediate surroundings. A row of low buildings was a little way off from them. They had almost slid naturally into the main road of an apparently deserted village.  
    As the companions nodded to one another in silent agreement, they trudged carefully towards the buildings, silhouetted by early morning light. The Doctor was convinced he could hear the sound of shutters snapping shut.

Chapter Five – The Village

    It was Georgie who first broke the silence. “I don't recognise any of the buildings, Doctor,” she said, “We could probably do with a spot to lay low in for a few minutes.”
    The Doctor extended a long finger in the direction of a squat barn-like building, “I'd say that's probably a farriers. We can recover ourselves in there.”
    The door to the farrier's workshop was unlocked and the companions slipped inside. The Doctor sat on a bench and began tending to his injuries as his arm felt quite painful.
    Georgie assisted The Doctor, while Conrad sat down to inspect the damage to his helmet. It was buckled in a few places, but not beyond his ability to repair. It was essential that he kept the helmet in good working order as from bitter experience he'd discovered that the slightest dint in the surface or bend in the rudder caused his rocket pack to be much harder to control.
    Conrad pulled a pocket wrench out of a pouch in his trouser leg and started to beat out the metal shape, trying to balance between keeping quiet, but exerting enough force to make a difference.
    “Here,” The Doctor said, reaching into his inside jacket pocket and pulling out a metal stick with a glowing tip, “try mine. I think it has a setting for helping alloys to remember previous shapes.”
    Conrad took the gadget from The Doctor and inspected it. Unconvinced, he pointed the glowing end at the side of his helmet and pressed the switch. It made a noise loud enough to make Conrad jump – a sort of buzzing, squealing noise – but he had to admit it was quieter than the wrench. Conrad's eyes widened as the buckle in his helmet folded back into shape to form a perfectly smooth surface, as though it has never even been scratched.
    “Nice gadget, Doc!” Seager enthused, “where can I get one?”
    The Doctor smiled, flexing his arm against the binding which Georgie had helped him wrap around his elbow. “Not for a few hundred years,” The Doctor replied.
    Georgie interrupted, “If we are going to be traipsing around the countryside, Doctor, can I get a change of clothes? My dress is ruined!”
    The Doctor considered for a moment and said, “We'll probably have to raid a washing-line, if you're up for the mischief?”
    She looked at him, curiously. She couldn't understand what kind of man he was. In the lab, facing up to the robot, he had seemed like the most fierce and resourceful soldier she had ever met, while out in the snow – and now talking about thieving from clothes lines – he had the honest joy of a playful child.
    “What manner of man are you, Doctor? I am quite sure I have never met your like.”
    He met her gaze, dazzling her with his brilliant eyes. How could he explain to her that she was staring into eyes of more years' experience than she could fathom? In the end, he settled with a simple explanation: “I'm … an adventurer.”
    She tutted, “I see. I imagine that our American friend here is just the same?” Conrad gave a thumbs up and went back to inspecting his helmet, while Georgie continued, “but what were those metal men?”
    The Doctor frowned, “I've seen similar machines, although not of that exact design. They are automata of a kind. I would have like to disassemble one to see how it ticks, but I suppose we were outnumbered and outclassed and sadly I didn't get the opportunity.”
    “I got a good look at those blueprints, Doc,” said Conrad, “I can probably redraw them for you if you'd like.”
    “You only saw them for a minute!” Georgie spluttered.
    “I have a pretty good memory,” Conrad explained, “that's how I ended up on these kind of missions. If I see something, I can always remember it, down to the finest detail.”
    “Remarkable!” enthused The Doctor, “it's an ability I always admire!”
    Georgie picked up her bag and, sifting through its contents, said, “I'm certain I have some paper and pencils in my satchel.”
    Conrad set about scribbling on the paper, talking as he worked. “Y'know, I'm real surprised to find you two English folks here. You're the last people I would have expected to see. What are you doing here?”
    “We are on our holidays, what do you think?” Georgie replied, curtly.
    “This wasn't really our intended destination,” The Doctor explained, “we just sort of arrived here by accident.”
    Georgie pointed at The Doctor, “He kidnapped me!”
    The Doctor held his hands up in a placatory fashion and said, “I think that is perhaps an exaggeration.”
    “Hmph,” replied Georgie.
    “But where have you come from?” Georgie asked, “All the Brits I know of are in refugee camps. Or so I thought.”
    “Ahh, right,” muttered The Doctor, more to himself than anybody else, “we might be in a different time-line...”
    “Timeline?”replied Conrad, “What do you mean?”
    “Sorry, umm,” the Doctor began, hesitantly. “It's a little difficult to explain. Just imagine many infinite universes in parallel, each following a different courses of events. If you have the suitable technology, you can travel between them and through time.”
    “Yesterday I would have said you were mad!” George stated, “but from what I've seen today there must be some truth in what you say. You're certain less of a worry to me than those monsters back at the castle and all these strangely-dressed soldiers.”
    The Doctor gave a wry grin. “Thank you,” he said, his voiced dripping with irony, “I shall take comfort from that.”
    “Well, it's the first time I've seen those machines,” Conrad said, to Georgie, “but the soldiers are pretty commonplace. We've been fighting them for 30 years and we fight them all the time. How have you not seen them before?”
    “Why?” asked Georgie, “What has happened here? Why are we at war with Germany?”
    The Doctor and Georgie sat and listened and Conrad explained the shocking history of Earth. He told them of the bombs that feel from the sky in 1905, creating huge firestorms that destroyed cities and villages alike across Britain, France and Spain. He told them of the radioactive mists that still swept through the British wastelands, killing or sickening all it their path. They listened, dumbstruck, as the Nazi fanaticism swept across Europe, becoming a mobilised military force overnight. Their core motto was that only by uniting with a strong military could they defend against these kinds of attacks in future. Conrad then told them of the refugees, desperately packed onto boats and shipped across the Atlantic to get away from the poison and the soldiers and of the seemingly unending war between the Americas and Europe.
    “But, most of the time,” Conrad explained, “our biggest war is against the technology. The Nazis seem to make so many advances. We're struggling to keep up! If it weren't for the invention of our Radium-powered weapons and these Rocket Packs, we'd never be able to get spies in and out of Europe.”
    “Hmm,” considered The Doctor, “In this time-line, it would seems that the Germans have a technological advantage which would not seem inconsistent with them receiving assistance from elsewhere.” He scratched his chin and continued, “Yes, they've definitely been getting help which is giving them an unfair advantage. But quite why people would want to assist them and to what ends... we'll need to find that out!”
    Georgie nodded, “we need to stop them. What happened to the King? What about the Prime Minister?”
    “England has a temporary Government for its own people within the refugee camps,” Conrad explained, “I think some of your leaders survived and made it away. The rest were elected once they were Stateside. Not many Royals survived, through. The heir to the throne is an 8-year old girl, born in the refugee camps if you can believe that! President Hughes has promised them ongoing sovereignty of the refugee lands until the Brits can be resettled.”
    The Doctor frowned, “President Hughes?”
    Conrad nodded, “President Howard Hughes. He invented this!” Conrad slapped the side of the rocked pack on his back. “It was this invention of his and many others that finally gave us a block against Nazi invasion.”
    “Well I am disappointed were weren't able to get one of those automata,” The Doctor mused. “I wonder if I makes sense to double-back to the castle to try to capture one for investigation?”
    “We should probably try to find out what intel this town offers,” Conrad suggested.
    Georgie chipped in, “I agree. Plus, those machines are very powerful. We will need dynamite or something to defeat them. They seemed unstoppable, like Mary Shelley's monster!”
    “They certainly took a lot of damage and kept going,” replied the Doctor, although his attention was only half with them. In his head, he had become aware of a group of minds searching for them. They were agitated thoughts, frightened and aggrieved. Their thoughts were beginning to form the coherent shape of the Farrier's workshop. They were about to be discovered!
  
    The Doctor decided they should step out to meet them rather than being huddled suspiciously in the dark. That seemed, he thought, to create a more honest-looking first impression.
    They were met in the street, almost immediately, by a group of burly locals. The pitchforks and solitary shotgun they carried between them indicated that they were not at all pleased to see the newcomers.
    “They look like locals, rather than soldiers,” observed Conrad.
    A stocky, middle-aged farmer pointed an antique – but still very likely deadly – hunting rifle at them and accosted them. “Get out of our village!” he shouted at them, “You're not taking anyone else! We'd die sooner than let you take our people.”
    The Doctor was about to speak when Georgie stepped forward, drawing herself to her full height and walking gracefully, despite the dishevelled state of her dress. “I am a lady, sir,” she informed him. “and mean you no harm. These two gentlemen, as extraordinary as they are, also mean you no harm, I assure you. We have no desire to hurt you or to take anybody away. Please, we are just looking for shelter.”
    Conrad had been given a certain amount of training in German during his time in the US Rocket Corps, but he struggled to follow this exchange, whereas Georgie seemed to be completely fluent.
    The farmer with the rifle stepped past Georgie, as though not having the strength to confront someone with such a sympathetic and ladylike manner, while seeking an outlet for his rage. He approached Seager, whose black, bug-eyed helmet seemed a more fitting subject of his ire. He waved the rifle and yelled, hysterically, “you're not having any more of our children!”
    “Please, sir, “ Georgie fluttered her eyelashes and tried to calm the man down with a gentle hand placed on his arm. “In my time I have been a Nanny. I understand that you love your children. None of us would ever harm them.”
    The man seemed to sag, broken. He dropped the point of the rifle down to the floor. “We just want our children back,” he murmured in lost, broken tones.
    Georgie clasped his arm, reassuringly, “we'll help you find them, I promise!”
    The Doctor stepped in, saying “who do you think is taking your children? Is it anything to do with that castle.? We've only just escaped, ourselves!”
    “We don't see where else it could be coming from,” said another man at the back of the posse. “We go to sleep and night and when we wake, more of our people are gone. We don't know where they are being taken or what they are using them for!”
    The Doctor considered. He had seen evidence at the castle of odd new technology and experiments. The disappearances from the village added to his feeling of unease. He said, “I wouldn't put anything past the people at the castle.”
    “If they take any more people, there won't be a village left!” another villager cried out in anguish.
    “Agreed!” Georgie said, beaming at this new fragile concord, “they must be stopped!”
    “We will need to get back into the castle,” The Doctor explained, “are any of you aware of any patterns relating to guard changes or anything that could help us get back in, unobserved?”
    The villagers talked between themselves for a moment. The stocky farmer turned back to The Doctor and said, “We tried demanding entrance before, to see our people and those devils turned us away, denying all knowledge of them. But we know they've taken them because one of the villagers escaped and told us.”
    “What was happening to them?” The Doctor asked.
    “Said they were being used as slaves,” the man explained eventually introducing himself as Mikkel. “They were being made to build... something. But he was weak and he died of an odd illness we've never seen before.”
    The Doctor looked troubled, “what were his symptoms?”
    Mikkel explained to the Doctor the ordeal which the escapee had been through. The Doctor recognised the symptoms at once, saying “it sounds to me like Advanced Radiation Poisoning. Harmful amounts of radiation over a significant period of time. He'd must have been working with some advanced technology.”
    Mikkel listened to him, intently. Despite this bleak prognosis he seemed to brighten, saying, “are you a Doctor? If we can get our people out of the Castle, can you help them?”
    “I'm not exactly a medical doctor,” The Doctor told them, “but I can assist in getting the villagers back.”
    The villagers relented a little at his words and began talking amongst themselves over what this could mean.
    Conrad pulled The Doctor aside, “we're massively under-supplied for returning to raid that castle, Doctor. Those robots are unstoppable!”
    The Doctor shook his head, as if waving away considerations of an open assault. “There was talk of a supply convoy,” he explained, “we could stow aboard that somehow and get in with the deliveries?”
    “We'll need weapons, though,” Conrad reiterated, “do the villagers have any explosives?”
    The Doctor tapped the villagers' ringleader on the shoulder and restated Conrad's question through the Tardis' translation matrix. Mikkel shook his head.
    “We have little enough to protect ourselves as it is,” he explained, “the soldiers have left us with barely enough supplies to survive, let alone weapons and explosives. But, if you can come up with a plan we have agreed to lend out strength!”
    The Doctor nodded in acknowledgement. “Do you have any chemical stores?” he asked, aware that his advanced knowledge may well allow him to create an explosive compound out of as-yet undiscovered chemical properties.
    The villager considered, effort furrowing his careworn brow even further. “You want the Apothecary?” he asked.
    “Certainly,” The Doctor replied, “although that's a rather old-fashioned term.”
    “He's an old fashioned feller,” the man replied, with the slightest hint of a laugh. “He's the closest thing we have to a medic, if you want him to look at that arm of yours?”
    “Yes, please,” The Doctor replied, keeping his true interest to himself; although, he realised, he would be grateful for a more practised medic to look over his injured arm.
    They were led over to a house in the centre of the small town. After knocking, they were greeted indifferently by a world-weary gentlemen with a flash of white hair. Mikkel introduced them while the man inside the house eyed the The Doctor up and down. His eyes widened as he heard the story.
    “I hate to do this,” he said, gruffly, “ but things are desperate. I would normally help strangers with no question, but I'm afraid it's going to cost you. You must give your word that you will help us to get our people back from the castle. I'm sorry to be poor with my comforts, but we are where we are.”
    The Doctor was unused to be being held to ransom for medical care, but he could appreciate the painful situation the villagers found themselves in. With a nod he led his companions silently inside and the Apothecary set to work on the The Doctor's arm, neither offering nor expecting conversation.
    Eventually, The Doctor managed to coax him into some chit-chat and asked him about the chemicals he had within the house. The Apothecary wrinkled his brow as he tried to call to mind the various bottles in his stores, “you can always take a look and see if there is something appropriate.”
    “Something like this?”
    The Doctor and the Apothecary looked up in surprise to see Georgie in the doorway. She was holding a bottle of medicinal alcohol with the stopper removed and a piece of torn skirt rammed into the neck.
    Seeing The Doctor's surprised look, Georgie told him, “we suffragists are aware that sometimes we need a big gesture to be noticed! I learned to make these over the summer.”
    The Doctor felt a sudden cold against the skin of his chest, followed by a startled noise from the Apothecary. The Doctor looked at him, to see him staring at his stethoscope in alarm. Presumably, The Doctor thought, he'd just spotted the double heartbeat. It was time for a distraction.
    He stood up, flexing and inspecting his arm with approval. “I think,” The Doctor informed Georgie, “that I might be able to make something a little bit more impressive than that.”

Chapter Six – The Raid

    The Doctor had been gone a while and Georgie was getting restless, while Conrad seemed to be quite happy dozing on a nearby chaise.
    Georgie approached the Apothecary carefully. “Excuse me, sir,” she began, “I don't suppose you know where I could get a change of clothes?”
    The Apothecary's eyes flicked over her shape, quickly and he gestured for her to follow him. He led her into a dusty side room and grabbed some clothes from a wardrobe, placing them almost reverently on the bed.
    “These were my daughter's climbing clothes,” he informed her, “they are tough, warm and practical. She used to go walking in the hills all the time, until she...” He faltered.
    Georgie didn't know what to say, but found that Captain Seager was suddenly standing in the doorway of the room.
    “She has been taken?” Conrad asked.
    The Apothecary nodded, silently.
    “Describe her to me,” Conrad instructed him.
    The Apothecary walked past him to a fireplace in the main living-room. He picked up a picture frame and handed it carefully to Conrad.
    Conrad studied the picture, memorising every line and curve on her face. She was a beautiful young woman, with curls of raven-dark hair falling across a face which laughed without care. She looked a little like his own Jenny, so far away now back home in the States. He could almost feel her picture in his jacket burning against his ribs.  It was hard to imagine such a beautiful and carefree girl being taken by the Nazis for slave labour.
    “Try to bring her back to me,” the Apothecary said, catching Conrad's eyes. Conrad nodded, purposefully.
    They were broken from their thoughts by a jubilant cry from The Doctor. He burst in with a bottle of clear, slightly sparkling liquid. He explained to them that the black metal armour of the robots seemed to be a familiar substance. He thought that this liquid could be used to melt the armour from a robot, if the need arose.
    “So,” The Doctor asked, enthusiastically, “how do we get into the castle? Captain Seager could fly in and find a door through which the rest of us could gain access?”
    Conrad shook his head, “last night's storm has passed. It's unlikely my rocket pack's trail would go unnoticed. We could climb up the hill and see if it's possible and safe to get back in through the hole we created?”
    “They'll be watching that area,” The Doctor told him.
    Conrad replied, “You think?”
    “It's what I'd do,” The Doctor said, giving an embarrassed cough, as if ashamed to be revealing such a cold and calculating side to his nature.
    Conrad turned to the Apothecary, “when is the next supply convoy?”
    “There ought to be one first thing tomorrow morning, I imagine,” he replied.
    “They come through the village?”
    The Apothecary shook his head, “no, they bypass the village and follow the main track through the forest up to the castle.”
    “So,” began The Doctor, the wheels of a plan turning in his head, “if we put a tree down in the road, the truck will have to stop and we can hijack it and drive it up to the castle?”
    “It will not be that easy,” the Apothecary told him, “they travel in convoy.”
    “Will the villagers help us?” Conrad asked, hopefully.
    There was a slow and considered nod from the Apothecary. “I think,” he said, after a few moments, “there are a few that will lend their strength if there is a chance of getting their people back.”
    The Doctor slapped his hands against his coat, decisively. “That sounds like the best plan we have!” he announced.
    Good,” exclaimed the Apothecary, suddenly animated. “I will speak to Mikkel and Gunther. They will be in the gasthaus soon, drinking the day away. Will you come?”
    The Apothecary led them out of his house and over to the village inn. The main bar was almost empty, only occupied by a few depressed-looking men, staring into their beers.
    Mikkel was perched on a corner of the bar, his shotgun propped up beside his leg. Conrad walked over to him and explained the plan, quietly. He asked whether or not Mikkel could round people up to help.
    The embittered villager scratched at his chin, smiling at the prospect of payback. “I can pull together five men, including myself,” he told Conrad. “Between us we have three hunting rifles plus my shotgun. The convoy should be a lead open car – what you Americans call a Jeep -  with a driver and two soldiers. The cargo truck will just have a driver.”
    “Is there anybody else who can help?” Conrad asked.
    Mikkel sighed, “the rest of the village is old women or crippled men. All the strong and healthy people have been taken to the castle.”
    Conrad smiled in acknowledgement and turned back to The Doctor and Georgie, “that's eight of us all together. Should be enough.”
    Georgie was impressed that Conrad had naturally included her. In her life she was so used to being excluded from important or dangerous or difficult work that she had naturally assumed she would have to argue to be involved in their plan. Were things so different in America, she wondered, or was it that The Doctor had brought her to a future where woman were finally considered equals?
    Conrad turned to The Doctor, “when we take the convoy, what do we do with the soldiers?”
    Georgie's voice cut through, “We shoot them.”
    The Doctor and Conrad turned in shock to face her.
    She continued, “they are the enemy, are they not?”
    “We're not taking any hostages?” Conrad asked her, surprised.
    “I say,” Georgie explained, “we are too few and it is too risky.” She was resolute.
    “I must say I'm a little shocked,” The Doctor explained, “I would have expected a more genteel attitude from a lady of your era.”
    Fire flashed in Georgie's eyes as she rounded on The Doctor. “Genteel?” she exclaimed, “I saw the Boer war, Doctor! This is a time of war.”
    “The Boer war?” The Doctor asked, confused, “Aren't you a bit young to have been a nurse?”
    “No,” she explained, “I lived there with my grandfather and I saw enough. He raised me because my own parents had been killed. War is war and we simply have to get on with it.”
    “But I thought you hated weapons?” The Doctor asked, confused.
    Georgie signed, “I do. But when our enemy has such terrifying weapons, what choice to we have but to use them?”
    The Doctor's face darkened. He had seen that argument throughout his studies of history. It always ended the same way. “Well, I think we should try to avoid killing them if we can,” The Doctor attempted, in a conciliatory tone.
    “I suppose they might be useful to us alive, in any case,” Georgie conceded.
    Mikkel got up off his bar stool and hefted his shotgun onto his shoulder, slightly drunkenly. “So,” he said, slurring ever so slightly, “what exactly is the plan?”
  
    The Doctor, Georgie and Seager had all been found lodging in adjoining houses around the village. There were plenty of unoccupied houses, given the amount of villagers who seemed to have been snatched away to the castle. Conrad found these homes eerie, frozen in a moment of time when their owners had been suddenly stolen from them.
    While the others struggled to sleep, Conrad was trained to put the mission out of his mind and take rest when he could find it. He couldn't afford to face the morning raid tired.
    He was woken by the sound of gunfire and shouting from the street. There was yelling and calling in German. He looked around and saw that there were no lights on in his house. Good, he thought, it would look deserted.
    He slid noiselessly out of bed, and padded over to the front window. In the central avenue of the village, a German staff car had pulled up and three occupants were standing around it, calling – almost mockingly – to the houses around.
    Conrad tried to switch his brain into German; they were saying something about more workers. It sounded like: “We need more volunteers to support the Glorious Reich. There is work for you to do. Submit yourselves to us willingly and we will not search the town for you.”
    He grabbed up his flight jacket and pulled it on, before placing his shiny, bug-eyed rudder helmet on his head. Expertly and silently he hoisted the rocket pack onto his shoulder and strapped it across his chest. He grabbed the Radium pistol from the dressing table and shoved it firmly into the holster.
    Conrad quickly moved back to the front of the house. He could see the soldiers getting impatient, trying to decide which house they would search first. Conrad had to bite back the urge to burst through the door and take them all on by himself.
    Instead, he searched around the house and found a door out to the back yard. He managed to open it quietly and stepped out into the bracing night air.
    There was a small fenced garden area with bushes and a large central tree. Conrad skirted around, using the foliage for cover until he had a view across the street.
    Movement in the shadows opposite caught his eye. He could see The Doctor emerging from a house opposite, slipping into a side alley. Conrad managed to catch The Doctor’s eye and pointed down the street towards the soldiers. The Doctor nodded, understanding.
    There was a burst of gunfire from up the street. Conrad was grateful that it was away from their position. But, where was Georgie!?
  
    Georgie had been sleeping only fitfully and had heard the car drive into town. At the sound of the gunfire she had leapt out of bed and stared about her, survival instinct kicking in.
    In that moment, surprised from her bed by the sounds of war she was carried back in her thoughts to the dark days of the Boer conflict and the night her father had rescued her from almost certain death.
    Tonight was a different time and a different war, but Georgie found herself automatically scanning the room for exits. That there was a back door to the house was excellent news, but what of the others?
    She crept over to the front windows and carefully peered through the netted curtains. She could see more of the soldiers they had seen at the castle, striding around their vehicle, calling for the villagers to come out.
    Georgie watched for a long while, refusing to move until the situation changed. After a while she could hear the soldiers debating loudly which house to begin searching.
    There was movement in the house opposite and Georgie saw Mikkel, the villager who had agreed to help them, crouching down by his window. He was holding his shotgun tightly and not being quiet. The soldiers had heard a sound and were turning in his direction to investigate.
    Once the soldiers had turned their backs to her, Georgie waved frantically to Mikkel. He looked up over his window-sill, waving to her in return. She tried to make a gesture to him that she was going to escape out the back. He waved a gesture of understanding, but did not move.
    Georgie held her breath.
    The soldiers stepped up onto the porch of the house and one of the men, who seemed to be an officer in charge, peered into the window on the opposite side of the house from where Mikkel was crouching.
    Mikkel had seen the movement, though, and Georgie watched in horror as the village raised his shotgun and blasted both barrels at the Nazi leader.
    The soldiers yelped and the officer ducked away as broken pieces of glass washed over him, cutting his face, neck and his hands where he raised them to protect himself.
    Another soldier spotted where Mikkel was crouched and smashed the pane in with the butt of his rifle. Without hesitating he aimed the weapon and put a shot into Mikkel. Georgie saw Mikkel slump to the floor, but could not see if he was alive or dead.
    The soldiers were shouting, barking orders at each other. The officer was enraged now, chastising his subordinates for their carelessness and instructing them to break in the door.
    Georgie bit her lip as the third soldier strode up to the door and began kicking on the fragile wood with his heavy boots. She looked at where the soldier with the rifle was pointing his deadly weapon at Mikkels helpless form. She couldn’t bear to watch. They had promised to help him, but now he lay dying in his own home.
    The soldier had, by now, managed to kick the door in. Georgie breathed a sigh of relief as she saw Mikkel moving, dragging himself back across his floor, away from the soldier, struggling to reload his own weapon. The soldier strode over confidently and punched Mikkel hard. Mikkel fell unconscious.
    Unable to bear any more, Georgie determined to end the bloodshed. In desperation and unable to think of any better way to intervene, she flung open the front door and ran out into the street, yelling “stop!” at the top of her voice.
  
    Conrad cursed under his breath as he watched Georgie run out into the street. She stopped dead as one of the soldiers spun around and levelled his rifle at her.
    “Stop right there!” came the call from the soldier,
    Georgie was looking all about her, searching for evidence of The Doctor and Conrad. Conrad managed to make eye contact with her.
    “Run,” he mouthed, lifting up his Radium Pistol so that she could see he was ready. To his amazement, Georgie simply shook her head and held her hands up as the soldier strode over to her.
    “Don't shoot,” Conrad heard Georgie say, in perfect German, “take me to your commanding officer.”
    Conrad punched the ground in front of him in frustration. He balled his fist again and felt the reassuring grip of the Rocket Pack’s throttle under his fingers.
    Looking over to the soldiers with determination, Conrad fired up the Rocket, illuminating the bushes all around him with orange fire.
    The soldier looked around to see the source of this noise, but could react in time. Conrad skirted low over the ground, the heat of his rocket flame leaving a trail of steam in the snow. He tackled the solder at waist height and hoisted him up into the air.
    The captive soldier stared at Conrad in horror, only seeing his own reflection in the opaque black lens of the metal helmet.
    The German Captain was shouting orders again now, striding out into the street to try to line up a shot at this flying man.
    Conrad twisted back around and flung his cargo towards the Captain. The helpless soldier flailed his arms and legs uselessly in the air before crashing to the ground in a silent heap. The Captain managed to step deftly aside and called to his other trooper for assistant.
    Quickly, Conrad pointed his Radium Pistol at the enemy Captain, still zooming towards him almost vertically down. He fired of a shot of blinding green radiation and looped back upward into the sky.
    The German Captain was illuminated by the glow of the shot for a moment and then slumped to the floor.
    Conrad jumped as he heard a bullet wizz by him and looked down to see the other soldier, firing wildly into the air with his MP40.
    There was another loud report and Conrad looked down to see that Georgie had picked up the rifle from the dead soldier and was trying to get a shot off at the remaining soldier.
    Her shot had gone wide, but it surprised the soldier enough that Conrad was able to loop around and get off another expert shot with his Radium Pistol. The soldier croaked painfully as the energy from the weapon burned every cell in his body and he, too, dropped to the ground.
    The fighting over, the Doctor rushed over to where the German Captain lay. “He’s not quite dead,” the Doctor reported, grimly, “but the amount of radiation he’s absorbed from that weapon will kill him in minutes.”
    Georgie threw the rifle away from herself, partly disgusted by the events of the battle and partly and her own failure to shoot straight.
    The Doctor said to Georgie, “it’s a good job you missed. A uniform full of holes won’t be much use to us!” She looked up at his open, honest face and couldn’t help but return his gaze with a slight smile.
    They rushed into the house to check on Mikkel as Conrad dropped back down to the ground, his descent as graceful as a falling leaf.
    Mikkel had regained conscious, but The Doctor could see clearly that he was too wounded to play any further part in their plans, despite Mikkel’s protestations.
    They carried him to the Apothecary’s house and placed him on a bed, while the Apothecary immediately set about bandaging the man’s gunshot wound.
    “Will you carry on with the raid,” the Apothecary asked the Doctor, earnestly, “I will take Mikkel’s place if I have to!”
    The Doctor smiled, “and waste the car that those soldiers have dropped into our laps? Certainly not! In any case, that patrol will be missed if they do not return. I suggest we wear their uniforms and return to the castle. We can pretend that Georgie is a captive.”
    Georgie huffed, “why should I have to be the prisoner?”
    “Because,” explained Conrad, “there are no women among the castle’s soldiers. So it’s either that or we have to find a way to strap down your bazookas.” He gave her a roguish grin and her cheeks burned.
    “Well,” said the Apothecary, “I’m still coming with you!”

Chapter Seven – The Lion’s Den

    The German staff car bounced quickly up the rocky road to the castle and it was not long before they saw the gate appear.
    As the soldier appeared in front of them and commanded them to halt, Conrad suddenly felt very naked without the Rocket Pack and helmet he had hidden beneath the seat, in favour of this enemy uniform.
    He brought the car to a stop. The guard looked them over, noting the prisoner in the back seat next to the Apothecary, who was keeping his helmet brim low so that his advanced years did not give him away.
    The Doctor leaned across Conrad to address the guard. “We've only captured one,” The Doctor said, cheerfully, failing to sound disappointed. “Shall we, umm, take her for interrogation?”
    The guard rolled his eyes, “Who would want to interrogate her? What could the villagers possibly know that is of any value? Put her in the workshop with the others!” With that he walked away and raised the barrier.
    Conrad drove through the castle gate, frustrated that the guards instructions hadn’t hinted at a direction to the slave’s workshop. In a flash of inspiration, Conrad realised he should follow the most worn path as that is where the majority of heavy traffic would have been going.
    The signs of wear went around to the right, in front of the main house which dominated the centre of the castle site. As they approached an interior bailey wall, they could see the huge section that had been cut out of it to allow access to a massive workshop. What had once been a courtyard had been roofed over with corrugated iron and turned into an open plan factory. Gaunt-looking slaves barely looked up as they approached in their car and parked in a marked space between the right side of main house and the workshop.
    Getting out of the car, Conrad made a show of roughly pushing Georgie ahead of them, sending her into the workshop.
    Inside, they could see guards strolling between the large workbenches. There were four work surfaces, one in each corner of the workshop. Every one had a bustling group of workers around it. Above these, about halfway up the wall, a metal gantry ran around the sides of the room to an upper office.
    In horror, they realised that the stiff, threatening guards which patrolled the upper gantry where three of the robotic horrors they had faced in the laboratory. Each was armed with a heavy and dangerous-looking rifle.
    The Doctor muttered under his breath to the group, “don't get too close to any guards. Somebody is bound to realise that they don't recognise us.”
    He looked around to see if his companions were heeding his words. Conrad simply nodded and Georgie gave him a flicker of subtle recognition.
    The Apothecary was clearly away in his own world. Ever since they came into the workshop his eyes had been desperately scanning the faces of the slaves to see if his daughter was in here.
    Conrad gave him a dig in the ribs. “Try not to be so obvious,” he warned him.
    “You don't understand,” the Apothecary replied, quietly, “she feels so close now!”
    “We'll find her,” Conrad assured him, hissing under his breath, “but we need to avoid blowing our cover!”
    The  Apothecary acquiesced, trying to be less deliberate in his searching, but told Conrad, “The most important thing for me is to find my daughter. I know we have to get everybody out, but I have to know what has become of her!”
    Conrad nodded, gently. “I understand,” he said.
    They jumped slightly as an officer strode up to the edge of the gantry and shouted, “You, men! Drop off your captives and make your way to the Commandant's office!”
    Conrad waved back uncertainly and croaked, “Ja!”
    “We need to come up with a plan,” said the Doctor, urgently, “Georgie, try to find out what you can from the prisoners. We’ll come back for you!”
    Georgie nodded, “I'll try to find out what work they are doing.”
    The Doctor looked around, cautiously. “We should go,” he muttered to Conrad, conspiratorially, “I have no intention of getting caught out in the commandant's office and sooner or later somebody is going to realise we're not keeping our appointment.”
    He spied an electric speaker system around the walls of the workshop and said to Georgie, “I'll try to broadcast a message over those speakers, if we need to signal you. I don't know what the plan is yet, but you may need to get everybody out, quickly.”
    “You!” barked a soldier nearby, suddenly approaching the Apothecary, “Take the new prisoner over to Work Group B!”
    The Apothecary nodded and gripped Georgie by the elbow.
    As he made to move away, Conrad gripped his arm and said, insistently, “Meet us outside in five minutes!”
    Defiantly, the Apothecary retorted, “when I've found my daughter!”
    “We won't wait!” Conrad warned him.
    A peaceful look came over the villager’s face. He smiled at Conrad kindly, almost resignedly. “You do what you must,” he said, “I thank you for bringing me this far.”
    Conrad and The Doctor watched with concern as their new friend strode away into he workshop with Georgie, amongst the guards, slaves and deadly metal robots.
  
    Work Group B, where Georgie had been assigned, seemed to be working on cutting the black metal they had seen on the Robot Soldiers. The tools seemed very advanced. Georgie recognised very few of them but she was handed an object shaped like a child’s catapult, which had an arcing beam of electricity across the “arms”. It seemed to cut through the metal very effectively.
    The lady working next to her was much older than Georgie. Almost too old to be working, Georgie thought. Eventually the older lady leaned across to speak to her.
    “You new?” the lady asked Georgie.
    “Yes, I am.”
    “When did they take you?”
    “This morning,” Georgie sighed, thinking back to the events of the raid. That’s how it must have been for all of these people.
    The lady made a sympathetic click with her tongue, “I'm sorry to hear that, dearie.”
    “What is this place?” Georgie asked her.
    The lady shrugged, “we don't know, it's just The Factory. They dragged us here to work.” After a pause, she leaned closer and asked, even more quietly, “Are you from the town. Is there anybody left?”
    “There's a few,” Georgie replied, honestly.
    The lady sighed, sadly. “It feels like everybody I've ever known is either here, or gone...”
    Concerned, Georgie asked her, “is everybody here still alive?”
    “There've been deaths,” the lady told her, “Malnutrition is rife. And where we have to sleep is disgusting. Many get sick. Then there are those taken off…”  She trailed off.
    “What about them?” Georgie pressed.
    The woman’s face grew dark. “We don't know,” she said, “They are taken away for what the soldiers call ‘tests’. They are never seen again.”
    Georgie looked around carefully, before asking, “How may guards are there watching us?”
    The woman instantly shot her a warning stare. “Don't you go thinking that way!” she snapped, “The best you can hope for is to knuckle under and hope this will all blow over.”
    “Yes,” Georgie replied, gently, “But sometimes action is called for, surely?”
    “Well,” the woman snorted, “You'll be here long enough. You can count the guards for yourself. There's been a few that think your way. All they've done is gotten themselves and others killed!”
    “But isn't that better than to work for the enemy?” Georgie asked.
    The woman screwed up her nose in disdain. “What enemy?” she demanded, “these soldiers are our people. It's our own government forcing us to do this work.”
    “Well!” Georgie said, looking for an argument that may get through, “would you be doing this otherwise?”
    “Certainly not!” replied the lady, disgusted, “I'd be on my farm.”
    “Well, then!” Georgie pressed, sensing a victory in the debate, “If they are holding you against your will, then they are your enemy, King and Country or not!”
    The lady shrugged, “They're the ones with the guns and the robots. There's little we can do.”
    “Robots?” Georgie asked, innocently.
    “Oh yeah,” the lady replied, “Those big metal soldiers we're making for them.”
    “How long have you been doing this?”
    The lady squinted and looked at the ceiling, as if this would aid her memory. “Oh I don't know,” she said, eventually, “three months, maybe?”
    “And how many robots have you worked on?” Georgie continued.
    “Here, I don't know!” the lady protested at Georgie’s barrage of questions. “We just work on the parts that come through our hands. I don't know how many go into a single robot. All the work groups are working on different things.”
    “You must know how many times you've made the same component!” Georgie insisted.
    “I tell you I can't keep track,” the lady snapped at her. “All I know is we were being guarded just by soldiers for weeks. Suddenly, two weeks ago, the robots started appearing, so they must have enough parts now.”
    “You pair!” came a stern voice from behind them. Georgie looked around to see a soldier. “Stop talking and get on with your work!” he commanded.
    Georgie opened her mouth to protest, but thought better of it and returned to the workbench, her head low.
  
    The Doctor and Conrad had moved outside, trying to figure out a next move. They were painfully aware that they were loitering and some soldiers back in the direction of the front of the house had noticed them. They began to walk around to the back of the castle.
    “Explosives will be in that main house,” Conrad suggested, “We should try to find a back entrance.”
    They almost walked into a pair of guards by a back door to the main house.
    The soldiers straightened as they approach and asked, “anything we can help you guys with?”
    The Doctor thought quickly, “Oh, we've come to relieve you from duty. The commandant wants to see you.”
    One of the soldiers rolled his eyes, “Really? Oh well. While we're gone, try not to spill anything.”
    The pair of them headed through a small door set into the back of the massive house.
    “Try not to spill anything?” Conrad repeated, confused, as he and The Doctor took in the enormity of where they were standing.
    Piled up against the back bailey wall were barrels upon barrels market “Fuel.” A green camouflage net was stretched over them to disguise them from the sky, causing the light to fall across them in dappled shapes. Parked in front of the fuel dump was a large tanker.
    “I think I have a plan,” said The Doctor, grinning.  “Our primary goal is surely to destroy their manufacturing capabilities?” Conrad nodded in agreement. “We could drive the fuel tanker into the workshop and try to detonate it,” The Doctor continued, “That would do a great deal of damage. Obviously we'd like to get the villagers out first.” He thought for a moment, “But, we probably haven't got long before those soldiers realise we've sent them on a wild goose chase.”
    Conrad climbed up through the driver’s door and looked in. “The keys aren't inside,” he reported, “There must be a fleet office nearby where they store the keys.”
    “Let me try mine,” announced The Doctor and pulled his faithful Sonic Screwdriver out of his pocket. He pointed it at the ignition. Nothing happened.
    “Oh,” expressed The Doctor, disappointed.
    “Hang on,” Conrad said pointed to a small shed at the far end of the fuel dump, “that's probably it.”
    Conrad left the Doctor staring dolefully at his impotent Sonic Screwdriver and walked over to the shed.
    Inside was an old soldier, reading a book. He looked up as Conrad entered. “Yes?”
    Conrad struggled to gather his best German. “Good day…” he attempted.
    “Good day,” the old soldier repeated back, politely.
    “I've been told to get the keys,” Conrad told him.
    The old man gave him an impatient look and indicated a row of 20 hooks, each bearing keys. “I have lots of keys, see for yourself,” he said, “What are you looking for?”
    “We've been … asked to move the fuel truck,” Conrad attempted, struggling to think of the right word for tanker.
    The old soldier looked at him curiously. “That's a strange accent you have there, boy,” he commented, “where are you from?”
    Conrad faltered.  “Munich...” he offered, hoping that was sufficiently far enough away to be considered exotic.
    The old soldier rolled his eyes. “Figures,” he said and grabbed a key off the rack and tossed it to Conrad.
    Meanwhile, The Doctor had decided to buy them a little time. He headed over to the back door that the other soldiers had disappeared through and pointed the Sonic Screwdriver at the lock. There was a hiss and a puff of smoke as the metal in the locked melted and reformed into a solid mass.
    It wasn’t before time. As The Doctor stepped back there came an impatient banging and rattling from behind the door.
    As Conrad came running back over, The Doctor told him, “we'd better hurry, that won't hold them. I’ve checked the tank and its full of fuel. You drive the truck and I'll use the Sonic to signal an evacuation in the workshop!”
    As he stepped down from the cab, a group of four German soldiers came running around the corner of the house, shouting, “stop!”
    Instinctively, Conrad hit the accelerator and drove straight towards the soldiers. They raised their machine guns to fire at him, while Conrad threw his own MP40 out of the window to The Doctor.
    The Doctor picked it up for effect, albeit with no intention of pointing it at anybody. Instead, he focused his gaze on a nearby tower of fuel barrels and concentrated his thoughts.
    The top barrel swayed left and right and eventually the power of The Doctor’s telekinesis caused it to break free and roll fast towards the soldiers. Two of the soldier were forced to stop aiming at Conrad and dive to one side.
    The remaining two soldiers opened fire. The windscreen crashed inwards and The Doctor gasped with concern as a pair of bullets shredded into Conrad’s shoulder and splattered blood across the seats.
    The other soldier aimed downwards and fired at the wheels. The nearside tire blew out, violently and Conrad fought to keep the tanker under control, while struggling at the same time with the pain and weakness in his shoulder.
    The tanker smashed into the stone wall of the bailey. Metal grinded against the wall and the tanker gradually choked before coming to a halt, the engine stalled.
    The Doctor look around the corner of the main house to see even more soldiers running their way.
  
    Georgie could hear the commotion from outside and guessed it was The Doctor and Conrad, but felt powerless to do anything. Focusing on her own task, she managed to count the guards: four on the workshop floor, one by each work group. There was another guard that periodically returned, up on the gantry, with an irritated look on his face. She smiled to herself in realisation that he was still waiting for The Doctor to report in. As well as those men there were the three robot soldiers, looming over the slaves, ominously.
    Of the slaves themselves, there numbered about 60, of both sexes and a wide range of ages.
    Avoiding upsetting the older lady again, Georgie asked the woman on the other side of her, “these tools are strange! How long have you been using them? Where does this technology come from?”
    “I don't know,” the woman replied, noncommittally, “They were shipped in from outside.”
    “What metal is this?” Georgie asked.
    “Oh we don't know that either,” the woman continued, “It's all shipped in from outside. I just cut it to the pattern.”
    Sensing that she wasn’t making progress, Georgie changed tack. She nodded towards the human soldier on the gantry. “Who's the frustrated-looking man up there?” she asked.
    The woman raised an eyebrow, “That is Uberleiutenent Strauss. He manages the workshop.”
    “Is he from the town?”
    She shook her head, “He's not a local. He took over the castle when the army moved in.”
    “There were people living here before?”
    “Oh yes,” the woman nodded, “Years back – before the war – there was a noble family, but the army have been here since the war started. Strauss is alright, but don't get on his wrong side. If you get on his wrong side he'll send you to Commandant Jurgens and then you're in trouble!”
    “I presume,” Georgie pressed, “that people who go to see him never come back?”
    The woman shrugged, “Several haven't.”
    Georgie leaned in a little closer and said, “Suppose I wanted to talk to somebody about getting out of here, who would you recommend?”
    “Ha,” the woman scoffed, “I'd recommend you keep your mouth shut!”
    “There must be somebody here that wants to change things?” Georgie insisted.
    “Where would we go? If we left the castle they'd just come and find us again and it would be the worse for us.”
    “Not if we did things differently,” Georgie suggested, “With their weapons and guns we could create our own army and be free.”
    “Even if we could,” the woman argued, “that's just here. What about the rest of the country, or even Europe?”
    “Europe's a big place,” Georgie offered, hopefully, “There must be some resistance?”
    “Look,” the woman said, kindly, “I know it seems terrible here at first, but we're not that badly off. You look at what's happened in other countries. Look at what happened to England!”
    Georgie tried not to think about the story Conrad had told them about England's dreadful fate.
    “Well, all I can say is,” the woman continued, “nobody wanted to see happen here what happened in England. So, to be honest, building these robots may be for the best. Maybe they will be our protection against the fire that falls from the sky.” She stopped, as she could see Georgie's troubled face. She said, kindly, “Look, I used to think like you. Even up to a couple of weeks ago I thought about it. But since I've seen these robots – seen what they do to those who run – I wouldn't try anything now. These robots are inhuman. They seem to know exactly where you are moving and to fight one is certain death. They are lethal.”
    “Whatever you say, you are still a slave,” Georgie told her, suddenly defiant, “These things you are building will never be good for you. You're just an accessory to your own end!”
    “I suppose you're right,” the woman conceded, sadly, “But what can we do? How can I help?”
    “You can point me in the direction of someone else who thinks like me!”
  
    The soldiers commanded The Doctor to drop the machine gun. He did so.
    At the same time, soldiers were shouting at Conrad to get out of the truck.
    Conrad was fighting against the pain, desperate to find some way out of this trap. He tried to fire the engine again, hoping that he could mow through the soldiers and get out. The truck failed to move and his actions were met only by the sound of warning gunfire in the air.
    Seeing The Doctor’s own look of surrender, Conrad moved to climb out of the truck. Realising he would be searched, Conrad stowed the Radium Pistol under the seat as he climbed down. At least it should still be there if they could get away.
    The soldiers began to pat them down, searching them for weapons.
    As the soldier searched The Doctor, the Timelord tried, psychically, to divert the soldier’s attention – a little mental manipulation he knew might cause the soldier to overlook his inside pocket. The Doctor realised he must be tired: his attempt to trick the soldier’s mind fell flat and the man’s hand knocked against the weighty shape of the Sonic Screwdriver. He reached in and took it out, looking at it curiously.
    “That isn’t a weapon…” The Doctor attempted, but the soldier gave him a hard stare and pocketed the device.
    “What did you do to this door?” the soldier demanded, pointing at the useless lock of the back door.
    “I, umm, jammed it,” The Doctor explained, apologetically.
    “Well, unjam it!” the soldier demanded.
    “I can't,” The Doctor told him.
    “Sheiser!” exclaimed the soldier and fired his machine gun into the lock before kicking the door in.
    The Doctor and Conrad were manhandled through the door and into the main house. The small door led into what must once have been a kitchen. They were led through into a large, ornate hall bedecked with Swastika flags and dominated by a sweeping staircase.
    Conrad was now staggering with the pain in his bleeding shoulder as he and The Doctor were pressed up the stairs at gunpoint. They were led to an official-looking door, padded with lush red leather.
    They stopped and the soldiers knocked on the wooden outer panel of the door.
    “Yes, what is it?” came a gruff reply from inside.
    “We have prisoners for you, sir!” the soldier replied.
    “Very well.”
    The soldier opened the door and they were led inside to a large room. At the far end was a big mahogany desk, across which sat a sharp-faced, powerful looking man.
    “You will be respectful before Commandant Jurgens!” the soldier barked at The Doctor and Conrad, before stepping back to take up a sentinel position by the door.
    Commandant Jurgens got up from his desk and approached them. He walked up and down in front of them a couple of times, seemingly trying to make his mind up about something.
    Eventually he stopped in front of The Doctor and waggled a decisive finger in his face. When he spoke, the Timelord’s blood ran cold.
    “Doctor…” said Commandant Jurgens.

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