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Subject: 3rd Doctor - The Gold Eaters rss

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Gary McCammon
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(I think I'm getting the hang of this, now - the Action Reference Sheet helps immensely to keep straight what you can do, when! This story went MUCH more smoothly.)

"And I am trying to explain to you, Sir Reginald, that UNIT's actions in this case were perfectly valid!" The Doctor shoved the folder back across the desk to the official seated across from him. "The buildings in question were condemned by the council, and the fact that UNIT demolished them before the council could is something you'll have to take up with them! Now, if you're quite finished, I have some very important work I need to return to. Good day!"

Sir Reginald Parsloe-Fotherington of Her Majesty's Ministry of Science gathered up the folder and shoved it into his briefcase angrily. He was not used to being challenged so brusquely, and from a man so oddly dressed! "Good day, sir!" was all he could bring himself to say before standing and leaving the office.

The Doctor shook his head. It just never stopped with these Earth humans...!

Liz Shaw poked her head through the door. "It's okay, Liz, the great beast is gone. Now let's see to that TARDIS console."

Liz shook her head. "It's the oddest thing, Doctor - that was Sir Reginald who just walked out, and yet -" She waved a telex. "- we just received notice that Sir Reginald was delayed due to illness and couldn't see you until at least Tuesday!"

The Doctor leaped up from his chair and strode over, taking the telex from Liz. He examined the paper.

"Then who just left...?" Liz asked.

The Doctor rubbed his chin. "Odd, most odd. The mysterious signals at the tracking center yesterday... and now this... ...It would seem the game is afoot."

"Is what, Doctor?"

"Oh, something an associate of mine used to say. Come on, Liz - we need to talk to someone at the space tracking center!"

As they stepped outside to the Doctor's yellow roadster, the Doctor froze - something large had just run under the car! A rat? Or -?

"Liz," the Doctor said, calmly. "You're closest to Bessie. Look in the boot; there's a set of electrical cables there." She produced the cables. "Now, carefully, carefully - drop them around us, in a circle. NOW!"

The thing lept out from under Bessie just as the cables hit the ground. There was a sound of crackling, a smell of ozone and burnt circuitry, and the next thing she knew Liz saw the Doctor holding a slug-like metal beast, easily the size of a small dog!

"Easy, Liz, it's dead. A Cybermat. A scout for an old foe - the Cybermen!"

"The what?"

"I'll explain later. Right now, we need to see the Brigadier. We'll need UNIT's assistance for sure!"

A short while later the Doctor had gathered Liz, Sergeant Benton, and the Brigadier, and told them of his suspicions.

"Good lord, Doctor, do you realize what this means? The Ministry of Science has just developed a bacteria capable of digesting gold! It was intended as a weapon against foreign economies, but in the hands of Cybermen -!"

The Doctor nodded. "Without gold, their greatest weakness would be eliminated. Where is this bacterium?"

The Brigadier grinned. "That's the one bright spot, Doctor. We have it here at UNIT for safekeeping. I assume you'll want to have a look at it yourself?"

"Spot on, Brigadier."

A mere two hours later the Doctor examined the culture he had made from the Gold Eater strain, force-grown through tachyon emissions from the TARDIS' console. He nodded in pleasure at how well it had turned out as he carefully drew it into a syringe and injected it into a ampoule of inert nitrogen. He heard the door behind him open.

"Excellent! Liz -"

But as the Doctor turned, it wasn't his assistant... it was Sir Reginald, and obviously the fake Sir Reginald, flanked by a pair of Cybermen soldiers.

"Doctor," the Cyberfake said. "So wonderful to see you again. And so efficient! Come with us, please, so we may avoid unnecessary violence."

With a sigh, the Doctor crossed the lab. "Good, Doctor. Now, please lead us out. We need to speak to you in private."

The Doctor led them down the corridor, looking for a chance to escape. Just down the hall he heard voices - someone was approaching!

"- quite an extraordinary recovery, I must say," one of the people said, as the Doctor and his escort turned the corner - and came face-to-face with Liz, the Brigadier, Sgt. Benton, and - the real Sir Reginald!

Both bureaucrats froze, staring at each other. "I'll... I'll be dashed!" said the real thing.

"LIZ! BRIGADIER!" the Doctor shouted, as the four UNIT personnel dodged out the side door, hauling the still shocked Sir Reginald with them, into the car park where Bessie waited. They piled in and sped off, Cybermen shots crumbling brick around them. A panel truck peeled out of the car park behind them, the fake Sir Reginald at the wheel, Cybermen surely hidden in the back.

It was a brave chase, but a short one, the panel truck seemingly leading them through back alleyways until it blocked them into a dead-end. The Doctor and the humans stepped down from Bessie as the aliens jumped from the truck, followed by a tall Cyberman with a transparent headpiece - a Cyber-Controller. The Cyber-Controller's voice was unctuous and frighteningly human, without the clipped speech of his soldiers.

"Doctor. So good to finally meet you. It's been fascinating, but we require the culture, now, please."

"So you can release it and conquer Earth? I think not!"

"Come, now, Doctor, you're delaying the inevitable. Please deliver the vial to us."

The Doctor stepped forward. Liz gasped. "Doctor," she whispered. "You... can't."

The Doctor looked at her over his shoulder, took another step towards the Cybermen - and threw the ampoule at them, shattering it on a Cybersoldier's chestplate!

The Cyber-controller laughed. "Foolish organic!You doom yourselves!"

"We're not the ones doomed, Controller."

Indeed, the mechanical men were staggering, as if in pain, and even the fake Sir Reginald looked strained. The Cyber-controller stepped back.

"GOLD! but... HOW? HOW?"

The Cybermen collapsed, one letting off a single shot, which grazed the Doctor's head. The Doctor collapsed and Liz ran to him.

The UNIT men and Sir Reginald examined the now immobile aliens... dead, obviously, with faint traces of gold on them, as if painted there with a gilt brush.

A short while later, the Doctor opened his eyes. He looked around - a cot in UNIT HQ, with Liz seated nearby. She leaned over him.

"No, Liz, no. I'm fine."

"What happened, Doctor?"

"Simple, really. A small mutation - reversing the organism's metabolic flow!"

"So, instead of eating gold... it deposited it!"

"Yes! And the nitrogen in the vial kept it inert. As soon as it hit oxygen, the mutation was activated."

"So the Cybermen thought it was still the gold eater! Clever!"

The Brigadier entered. "Ah, Doctor, so glad to see you well. Liz? I think he deserves some rest. We have some reports to fill out, you know."

The Doctor sank back as they left. He hadn't told them the awful truth... that the blaster bolt hadn't caused him to collapse; instead, it was shock, the shock of the Timelords finally catching up to him. They had removed the knowledge of dematerialization from his mind... and, he knew somehow, nobbled the d-mat circuit on the TARDIS.

He was now an Earthman, trapped on this planet as much as they were...
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Nate K
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Nice. Sounds like a fun adventure.
 
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