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moon of saturn

PART TWO OF THE MIN TERR TRILOGY

Sticks and stones. The sling shot. The bow and arrow. The spear. The caber. The catapult. The cannon ball. The flying bomb. The V2. The spud-gun. The scud-missile. The cruise-missile. The hair-dryer, and the cuddly toy...

Yes - you've seen them all! But now - it's the one you've all been waitin' for! The ultimate projectile! So, stick yer fingers in yer ears, coz it's comin' your way...

The Doctor was homesick, and this worried him deeply. It was his youthful urge to roam the Universe and see for himself the multitude of manifestations of the life-force which had led him fleeing from his home planet, thus breaking many of the fundamental laws of Time Lord society, and for this he had very nearly paid with his life. Why, then should he desire to return? The question was all the more perplexing considering the particularly adventurous spirit with which he had been endowed in this, his third incarnation.

It made him very bitter to reflect on just how cruelly the Time Lords had punished him: his induced regeneration and brought out in him such a restless, fearless soul - and one which had been trapped on twentieth-century Earth! Strange...now that he had, at last, regained his freedom to travel along the highways of time and space, he was haunted by memories of home...home. Indeed, during his imprisonment, all he had had, in many ways, were memories...memories of the life he once led. Since his recent pardon, he had endeavoured to educate his young Earthling assistant, Josephine Grant, in an appreciation of the citizens and cultures of the cosmos. But now, for whatever reason, he wished to return to Gallifrey. The Time Lord society was one of immense secrecy. This was one voyage he must make alone.

The Doctor was singing as Jo came into the U.N.I.T. laboratory. She found him gathering various pieces of scientific equipment together.

'Going somewhere?'

'Y-e-s...' he answered abstractedly, and resumed his singing.

'Where?'

'Seriously, Jo, I'm afraid you can't come with me this time.'

The little ditty was taken up again, embellished from his wonderful store of vocal effects.

'What's that song you're singing?' she asked

'Really, Jo,' he laughed, 'how can I expect to educate you in the cultural wealth of the Universe when your musical appreciation extends no further than the current hit-parade? As it happens, I was reciting an Earth song about a chap who happens to be feeling rather homesick..'

He continued the lecture with his back to the girl. She gave the lab doors a god push, and then sneaked into the TARDIS. Having concluded his reminiscences about his old friend Percy French, he turned around only to see the lab doors swinging to and fro. He must have hurt her feelings. Poor Jo...

~~~

Well, it certainly didn't look like Gallifrey. The TARDIS scanner showed a barren, white sandy world domed with a yellow sky. He was disappointed. He had so much wanted to return home. Home is where the heart is. The problem was that the Doctor had two hearts, and one of them wanted nothing at all to do with this morbid fascination with nostalgia. It won. Here was a new world to explore. He opened the TARDIS doors and stepped outside.

Jo had hidden herself a little too well in the TARDIS, for she had lost herself in the maze of corridors and only managed to find her way back to the control-room about half an hour after the ship had landed. However, stepping from the TARDIS, she (unlike the Doctor) did into find herself on a plain of white sand, but in a plain grey room - small, metallic and dull. In one corner sat a rotund little man in neat steal-grey uniform, dozing on a metal stool.

'Excuse me,' she half yelled in a panicked yet polite tone.

'Stone me,' he grumbled dazedly, lost in a dream. 'Oh should I know the name of some card dealer on "Rocket Trail"? I ask you'

'Pardon?' said Jo, giving him a good shake, 'Have you seen the Doctor?'

'Oh, 'hello Miss,' he laughed, coming round and jumping to attention. 'Now, where 'ave you come from then? Out of the TARDIS? Now, you sit down there. That's right. Hasjat's the name - Deputy Security Officer Hasjat!'

~~~

The Doctor was lost.

He normally had an excellent sense of direction. However, surrounded as he was by oceans of sands, there were no points of reference here, except the odd dune or two which, whenever he tried to retrace his steps by them, seemed to have shifted their position. He felt giddy and light-headed, with a temperament verging on extreme paranoia.

This was a dead world, and as such its atmosphere could hardly be said to be conductive to the sustenance of life. Perhaps the sterile air (unfed, as on Earth or Gallifrey) contained a slightly psychedelic element which was effecting the Doctor's perception of his situation. If only he might gaze through the smooth yellow clouds, he could at least ascertain the identity of the planet by the stars above.

Was this Gallifrey? Yellow clouds...white sands...he was sure he had used the correct co-ordinates. If this was Gallifrey, then something was terribly wrong.

Just then, there came a faint and muffled rumble from behind him. He was almost to tired to look, but look he did. Several monstrous war vehicles tumbled over some dunes towards him. He made no attempt to escape. With base-sections like U.N.I.T. jeeps, their headlights blazing in the heat-haze, they were huge conical brutes; a man's head could be seen at the top of  each cone, though there were probably more men inside. Each vehicle had a canon fitted to his mid-section. Indeed, these "jeeps" were...rather like crude interpretations of something more familiar. But the Doctor was too tired to consider the likeness any further. He collapsed in the sand before them...

~~~

Jo was frightened and confused. How did this man come to be in possession of the TARDIS? Where was she? Where was the Doctor? She began to cry.

'Oh, come now madam,' said Hasjat, 'Don't take on so! Now, pull yourself together. Come on...you have to shape up for the interrogation.'

'Interrogation?' Jo screamed.

'Well...ahhh...err...'Hasjat began to explain, clumsily. 'More of a friendly little chat with the C.O., actually He was the one who told me all about the TARDIS...Well, not all about It, of course. Now, don't be afraid. You'll like 'im. Stone me, 'e does 'ave away with the ladies. Can't 'elp admiring 'im! You'll like 'im no end, miss.'

Jo looked at Hasjat's beaming smile, which changed, almost unperceived, to a sad, yet belligerently comical expression which had the aspect of a bloodhound. She began to brighten up. Perhaps this Commanding Officer, if he knew about the TARDIS, was a friend of the Doctor's and knew where he was.

A green light-bulb flashed in one corner of the room, and a panel slid open in the ceiling through which a metal ladder descended to meet the floor.

'He'll see you now, miss,' said Hasjat, motioning to the ladder, 'Don't do anything I wouldn't do eh?'

Hasjat's attempt at mirth was not appreciated by Jo as she climbed into the blackness above her head. Blackness - the room above was completely dark. After some fearful sounds, alight was flashed in her face; a warm, soothing light There was a deep chuckle from somewhere, followed by a voice, warm and soothing...

'My dear Miss Grant...' (Well, need I tell you who it was?)