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page sixteen

Suddenly Peace was standing above us. 'What are you just sitting there for? What about Uncle Jack and Gladys?' 

'Oh, sod! How are we supposed to catch them?' I cried.

It was at that precise moment that, with a series of clunks and an abrupt purring roar, Gamma's doors opened and she came alive. As we piled in I had an absurd fleeting recollection of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and wondered if the Professor ever owned a car like her, and then the doors slammed, we spun in place and shot like a rocket toward the temple. Seat belts snaked around us and locked. Good thing, because we may not survived. Gamma drove like a maniac with a severe phobia of roads. We hurtled in a straight line through parking lots, backyards and across streets. We bounced inside as the town sped past. Peace, her eyes still wet with tears, looked at me and laughed. Then we all were. Somehow, despite the tragedy we'd just left and the uncertainty of what we'd encounter at our destination, we were enjoying this insane, dangerous ride. Then, with the remains of a shattered fence still hitting the ground behind us, we shuddered to a screeching halt. Gamma shut off with a ticking sigh. Our belts uncoupled and the doors flew open.
We barely glanced at Alpha as we dashed into the building and through the temple. We raced up the hall. We were temporarily delayed as we all tried to pass through the closet at once, but pounding up the hidden stairs seemed to take seconds. Just as we reached the upper door we heard two loud reports. 

The door was locked.

'Ace!' cried the Professor, 'Deal with this door!' I reached into my pack. He pulled Peace back around the corner as I set a five-second fuse, placed the canister and scrambled to join them.

The nitro-9 obliterated the door and a good part of the wall and floor. Ears ringing, we  leaped over a gap into the room and stopped in horror. 

It was a glimpse of Hell. A sphere of flickering red light illuminated the centre of the room, its glow casting the beds and machines in sharp relief against the darkness beyond.

At the centre of the glow was the blood-red, flaming aspect of Smokey I'd seen the day before. The three pilgrims writhed in agony below him. Jack and Gladys lay together on the floor in a spreading black pool of blood. Peace ran and knelt by them.

'What are you doing, Saint Germain?' bellowed the Professor.

'Do not interfere, Time Lord!'

'But this is murder!'

'This is retribution! Retribution and protection for my people!'

The Professor ducked under Smokey and rolled to the nearest bed. His hands flew over the apparatus. Smokey wailed and flickered green for a moment and the pilgrim's body stopped convulsing. He drew a shuddering breath, and then the flames erupted again.

'No! What are you doing?' boomed Smokey as the Professor lunged for another bed. He stopped, grasped in mid-air, and was flung into the darkness. I was in motion before I heard the distant clatter of his landing. I reached the bed and did what I'd seen Jack do. Nothing happened. I felt Smokey's attention focusing on me and remembered what he'd said yesterday, 'Don't interrupt! I am boosting the projectors!' Oh, bugger, what was I supposed to do? What had the Professor done?

(Peace is the answer, child.)

(Is now really the time for hippie philosophy? Honestly!)

(No, Peace. Go to her.) 

(Oh. Hey, who the hell are you?)

I felt an invisible touch as I saw Peace moving toward me, purpose in her eyes and outstretched hand. 

'I am Luuna' she'd said yesterday.

(I am Luuna) says the voice in my head.

Peace and I are lifted before the snarling red face. Our hands reach, miss, reach, clasp. His mind shatters the barriers. Two who were four become one.

I am Luuna. 

'What?!' I cry, on the mountain. 'Luuna was in ME?!'

I look down on my child, he who never outgrew the needs of the flesh. But I can not judge him. Just as he'd quickened the womb of a peasant girl centuries ago, I had done the same with Sally Spenser and produced the container Peace. 

'He was. The Doctor put him there.'

'No! I can't believe it! I won't believe it!'

'He had to! He could not put him in Peace – the combined spirits would have been unstoppable! He could not have put him in Sally; she would have been immediately engulfed. He could not take her into himself – the risks were unimaginable. But you were safe. You were strong. You were the perfect prison.'

The little Time Lord has crept back and is adjusting the two remaining beds. He is an annoyance and I prepare to swat him. 

'He zapped Luuna into me with that little saucer?'

'He did, Ace. He recognised the device's function when it fell to the floor and then he slipped it in your pack.'

'That's why Luuna called me a thief! How did she know?'

'I told her. The saucer held the spirit of Gladys Kraft; when it fell she was released for a time and Luuna was transposed. You were unaware, but I repaired the device as you hid in the closet.'

Will I break his bones? Scorch his mind? Pop his hearts?Turn his blood to acid?

'Oh, you ratbag! You sent me to the forest, didn't you?'

'And informed Luuna where you'd gone, yes.'

'You're a proper Quisling, you are.'

I make my decision, ignoring the clamorous voices within.

'I acted from loyalty to my father and my people. I have seen the error of my ways. Did I not reach through time and call the Doctor in the TARDIS? Did I not save you from the explosion?'

'The one you caused? Killing Sally? If you say so... Hey, how did the Professor make the saucer work?'

'While you wandered the town, he returned to his machine and fashioned a remote control. He and Sally pursued Luuna and Peace to the forest.'

'Then Sally shot Luuna to save me, got it.'

'What? No, Dorothy, you did, a few hours ago, between the Heart and Red Banks.'

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