"Right," said the Brigadier.
"Well, it's all very dull and dreary," said the Doctor, tossing the file back to him. "Should go over famously."
The Brigadier rolled his eyes. "Right," he said, tucking the file smartly under his arm and marching out as Jo arrived for the day.
"Good morning, Doctor," said Jo. "What are we doing today?"
"Nothing!" grinned the Doctor. "The Time Lords really are devious, you know."
"And this has to do with taking a day off - how?"
The Doctor motioned at his workbench, littered with equipment from his attempts to return his dematerialization circuit to functionality. "They exiled me knowing I'd work myself into a fit trying to repair the TARDIS myself. They depended on that, believing I'd make myself too stressed to actually accomplish it."
"And it only took you, what, three years to figure this out?"
"I'm not going to do anything today," said the Doctor smugly.
Two Time Lords watched the Doctor and Jo on a monitor.
"I told you he'd figure it out," said one Time Lord to another.
The second Time Lord shrugged. "No matter. Every day he takes holiday is another day longer before he bypasses our defeater."
"Our target is UNIT HQ," said Ngort. The Pirstinoid Advance Force gathered around the table where their leader had settled his map. "Intelligence reports say that their weaponry is primitive projectile technology effective no where else in the universe."
"Why are we concentrating on one small thinly-manned base with no energy artillery?" asked one soldier, Flinct.
"They are a special planetary taskforce for defense against extraplanetary invasion."
"That little rabbit hutch?" asaid Hyfiss.
"That's their planetary headquarters?" Flinct said.
"No, it's a branch office," said Ngort. "But this one post has to be the primary objective of the Advance force's first strike. It has defeated forty-seven alien invasions of this planet in three years."
The Doctor and Jo strode out of the UNIT lab to Bessie and got in, the Doctor first depositing a picnic basket in the back seat.
As they strapped in the Doctor turned to Jo and said, "I'm really going to enjoy spending the day away from this place." Before he could even start the car, five spaceships of radically different designs dropped out of the sky. Aboard the Pirstinoid, Pallok, Gwywr, Ninginging and @!~% spaceships, five captains turned to five ground commanders and said, "Who the hell are they?"
(Of course that's a loose translation. The idiomatic Gwywr expression used, for instance, would literally be, "Why is this intestine so crowded?")
Jo made much the same inquiry of the Doctor. She had to do so twice, as during the first time she spoke he was distracting both of them with his desperate attempt to get them both into the shelter afforded by crawling under the car.
"The saucer-shaped one is the Pirstinoi," said the Doctor as they lay prone under the car. "The one with three hulls connected by nacelles is the Ningningning. The others I don't recognize."
"Why are they just hanging there?" Jo asked. The spaceships seemed to be sizing each other up.
"They're sizing each other up," said the Doctor. "If no one initiates hostilities, they may all frighten each other off."
"Sir, look!" Benton charged into the Brigadier's office and pointed out the window. The Brigadier and Yates got up and looked out. "There're five of them."
Yates assessed the situation and turned to the Brigadier. "Open fire, sir?"
"Right," said the Brigadier.
"Steady ... steady ... " murmured the Doctor under Bessie.
"Are they leaving?" asked Jo. "Isn't that one moving off a bit?" she added, pointing at the @!~% ship.
"I think so. The next few seconds are critical," the Doctor said, as Benton and a squad charged out of a nearby building and began shooting.
"Intestines!" cursed the Doctor in Gwywi. All five spaceships moved to hover over the dozen UNIT men and bathed them in energy weapons. One soldier fell to the ground smoking as the others scattered for cover. "Come, Jo, back to the lab while everyone's distracted!"
They wriggled backwards out from underneath the car and ran for the door, the Doctor pausing to grab the picnic basket. Once inside the lab he overturned the basket onto his workbench and began picking the sandwiches apart.
"These are the troops that have secured Earth from invasion time and time again?" wondered Toomel, the Pallok ground commander, as the ship touched down. "I've never seen such ineffective weaponry."
"We're down," confirmed the pilot.
"Move out!" bellowed Toomel to its troops. The hatch/ramp fell open and and it led them into a shower of leaden projectiles which they barely noticed.
The Brigadier and Yates watched from a window, as Benton's squad was joined by another, in firing on a group of things that looked like floor lamps, whose advance was slowed thereby not one whit.
"I suppose," speculated Yates, "one of the five will be susceptible to bullets?"
"Right," hoped the Brigadier.
"Doctor," Jo wondered, "why are you picking the sandwiches apart?"
"I'm looking for the pickles."
"Doctor," started Jo, "why ..."
"Aha!" The Doctor, having collected some half-dozen pickle chips, swept the remains of the sandwiches off the bench onto the dustbin and picked up a tube-shaped device with a slot in the side. He began putting the pickle chips into the slot one at a time and then peering into one end of the device, as if it were a miniature telescope for which he was swapping out differently powered lenses.
"I recognized the aliens who've landed once they came out of their ship," said the Doctor as he worked. "They're Pallok. They're vulnerable to a particular shade of green. Ah!" The Doctor, peering through his device at the pickle chip in it, swept all the others into the dustbin. "Where's that high-powered flashlight?"
The Doctor and Jo walked out onto the grounds of the UNIT base. The Pallok were standing in the middle of an open area, neglecting to be gunned down by the constant fire from the UNIT men. The Doctor shined the high-power flashlight through the pickle-lensed device and aimed the conglomerate mechanism at each Pallok in turn, who tipped and fell over just like floor lamps in an earthquake. Then the Doctor ran up to the Pallok ship - Jo right behind him - and shined it into the front windshield.
"That'll immobilize them for six hours," said the Doctor.
"Will all these groups of aliens be that easy?" Jo asked.
The Doctor had just noticed that none of the other four spaceships were in sight when he heard behind them something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a voice.
^O%&+# +=`^^ $#^E it said.
The Doctor and Jo turned around and were confronted by not quite something; or rather several of them. Jo began to raise her hands.
"Keep your hands down!" the Doctor snapped. "These are @!~%. They're from a different reality than ours."
"Is that why I can't seem to focus my eyes on them?"
"Yes, exactly," said the Doctor. "They're not real when they're here, not really here, if you follow."
Oddly, Jo seemed to. "Why should I keep my arms down?"
"They're known to mistake the raising of arms for an attempt to */= their )(@&," explained the Doctor.
Meanwhile one @!~% had somehow manifested several objects that had some semblance of shape. It held one of them up to the Doctor and Jo, and the words "WAlK THIS WAY" appeared in midair as the @!~% began herding them toward the motor pool.
"If I could walk that way," muttered the Doctor, "I wouldn't ];\} :*`-% &]."
Benton had ordered cease fire when the floor lamps had gone down and the Doctor and Jo had charged their ship. Just then Yates had called on the hand radio.
"Brig's laying on reinforcements," Yates said. "Meanwhile, the aliens are fighting among themselves all over the grounds. Let them, and we'll pick off the last ones when they're exhausted."
"Yes sir," said Benton, instead of, "Right, we get to take on the ones that're tough enough to beat all the others. Perfect," and signed off.
Corporal Palmer tapped his shoulder. "Something funny, Sargeant."
In the mood for a laugh, Benton looked up to see the Doctor and Jo being taken captive by - what? He couldn't decide whether it, or they, looked more like telly snow, inkblots or Gerald Ford. "You're with me, Corporal," he said, motioning for everyone else to stay put as he moved to follow.
"Yes, yes, I know, Lethbridge-Stewart," said the defense minister into the phone. "You're always calling me for help, and I'm always ignoring you, and it always turns out you were right. But it just shows you UNIT chaps always muddle through, doesn't it? You'll be just fine this time too. Goodbye." He hung up.
"What troubles me," said the Doctor, "is why they're all here."
The @!~% had installed the Doctor and Jo in the back seat of a jeep and surrounded them there, and now seemed to be waiting for something.
"They want to conquer Earth, don't they?" Jo said. "Isn't that all they ever want, the Axons and the Sea Devils and that lot?"
"They had reasons," the Doctor insisted. "The Sea Devils wanted Earth back. The Axons wanted to suck it dry."
Jo interrupted eagerly, "What on Earth - literally - could possibly interest this diverse group, let alone all at once so suddenly? Is that what you mean?"
"And if it is so interesting," the Doctor said ominously, "who else might be interested?"
As the Doctor spoke there was a mechanical whine in the air. "What's that?" Jo asked.
"It's a transmat. Someone's teleporting in."
"Another ->!~?" Jo asked.
"@!~%," the Doctor corrected. "No, they don't need transmats here - in a sense they're constantly teleporting, hundreds of times a second, just to be here. No, this must be an ally or allies of native origin."
Suddenly there was someone else in the motor pool garage. Someone the Doctor recognized.
"I should've known it'd be you," said the Doctor.
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