"Oh no," cried the Doctor. "He's turned the whole planet into mindzombies!"
Adric turned to Professor Taykov. "Can I join up with you?"
"You have no choice," said Professor Taykov. A mindzombie brought him the bowls from which they had been eating their fried zink brains. "See the telltale blue streaks? There was floroxyneodymide in your meal." He chuckled evilly. "Your last meal!"
"Mindzombies don't eat?" asked Nyssa.
"Quickly!" shouted the Doctor. He leapt over the edge of the balcony.
"What's going on?" Tegan asked Hensia, peering out the storefront window.
"Everyone who ate the zink brains is going out into the street and lining up in formation," said Hensia.
"Do you suppose there's a connection?" asked Tegan.
"They've all been turned into mindzombies," said Hensia.
"We've got to warn the Doctor - what's the quickest way to the Taykov Building?" Tegan asked.
"We can't go there!" said Hensia. "If the Doctor's right, that's where the evil music that destroyed Algol City is being written!"
"Are you going to let me go out there all by myself?" Tegan demanded.
"Okay," said Hensia.
On the balcony of the penthouse below Professor Taykov's, the Doctor's disappointment that neither Adric nor Nyssa had had enough will left to follow him battled furiously with his panic at being unable to open the glass doors to get inside. He turned back and saw two mindzombies successfully copy his balcony-drop maneuver (out of about half a dozen to make the attempt) just as the door opened of its own accord and an arm pulled him through. There were no lights inside.
"Hello," he said into the blackness, "I'm the Doctor."
About a dozen people turned on flashlights that each was holding on his or her own face. "We know who you are," said one, a small scruffy man. "We're the anti-zink underground."
"Ah!" said the Doctor. He tried not to let the rattling at the balcony doors distress him. "You knew that Professor Taykov's plot was going to be executed by means of the Sohnmas zink dinners?"
"No," said a large woman. "We're against the eating of zink because it's an endangered species."
"If Professor Taykov had timed his plan for Raddleday," said another woman, "and put his floroxyneodymide in the dassivit, he'd've got us too. Dassivits breed like ... well, like dassavits."
The Doctor looked over at the balcony doors. In the dark he couldn't see them, but he could hear the mindzombies' growing enthusiasm to have them broken through.
"We've petitioned Professor Taykov about outlawing the hunting and selling of zink," said the scruffy man, "and all he does is have his mindzombies hunt down the people who signed, and kill them. So we went underground. When he still hunted us down we stopped requiring signees to list their addresses -"
"All very enlightened, I'm sure," said the Doctor quickly, with his voice rising, "but I think we need to get out of here rather desperately!"
Professor Taykov turned to Adric and Nyssa. "So, you are already my slaves," he said to them.
"It doesn't ordinarily work this fast?" asked Nyssa. "Didn't it for all the people on the street?"
"How articulate you are," said Professor Taykov. "You must have an unusual intelligence, for so much of it to have survived the transition to mindzombie. What about you, boy?"
"What?" said Adric.
"That was a narrow escape," said the Doctor.
He and the zink underground now were in a room of theirs in the building across the street from the Taykov Building. He was still the only one without a flashlight.
"Look," he said, "is there really all that much chance of being detected here, or can we turn on the lights?"
"Oh, it's not that," said a little man with a pointy nose, big ears and a mustache, making him look like a mouse. The others called him Mouse. "We just haven't paid the power bill in a long time."
"Ah," said the Doctor. "Well," he said. "I don't suppose you have any plan for thwarting Professor Taykov's fiendish plot?"
The flashlit faces looked at each other nervously and shook their heads.
"I don't suppose you have any intelligence on the number of mindzombies there are, how widespread this Sohnmas plot of his will have been?"
"Well, just about everyone who celebrates Sohnmas, I guess," said Lysor, the scruffy man. "Dunno how many that'd be."
"I don't suppose," said the Doctor finally, "that any of you has the vaguest whisp of the slightest idea why Professor Taykov wants to turn the population of this planet into mindless automatons?"
"Hadn't thought about it much."
"Been occupied with this zink business, you see."
"Well," started the Doctor, "thank you ever so much for your help, but -"
"It might," said the large woman, whose name was Isie, suddenly, "it might have something to do with whoever it is that talks to Professor Taykov over the secret hyperspace transceiver in his office."
Tegan walked out of Hensia's music store and walked up to one of the mind-zombies, keeping pace with him as he marched with his fellows. "Excuse me," she asked him, "which way is it to the Taykov Building?"
The mindzombie picked her up and threw her over his shoulder in a fireman's carry, without breaking stride.
"Do you think I can't walk it myself?" Tegan shouted. "Would I have asked if I didn't mean to go there?"
He marched on, paying her shouting no attention. He paid her no more attention than necessary to keep her on his shoulder; even when she added pounding on his back with her fists and struggling for release into her routine, in the hopes of goading him into knocking her unconscious because it really was an uncomfortable ride.
The Doctor crept through the alley behind the Taykov Building with Lysor and Isie behind him. Darkness had fallen during the Doctor's escape; the three of them barely managed to avoid stepping in his remains because the daylight was gone.
"How are we going to get in?" Lysor asked.
"Well," said the Doctor, "you have the suite under Professor Taykov's - how do you usually get in?"
"Through the front door," said Isie, "but usually the building isn't swarming with mindzombies intent on making everyone into one who isn't yet."
"I thought you were an underground organization," said the Doctor.
"Great idea!" said Lysor; "we'll go in through the cellar."
"No, I meant - Oh, bother," said the Doctor, for Lysor and Isie were making their way to the side of the building and weren't listening to him.
There was a near-horizontal door set into the building, such as are usually seen on the cellars of farmhouses in motion pictures. The padlock stumped them for several minutes, until the Doctor actually tugged on it, and it developed that it wasn't actually latched. If the rest of Taykov's operation is this sloppy, the Doctor thought, it might be an even match with the zink underground ...
Tegan was gasping for breath as the formation of mindzombies turned down Taykov Boulevard. She had given up trying to escape and had settled for trying to wriggle into a position where the mindzombie's shoulder wasn't digging into her stomach.
Being held faced backwards, naturally she was unaware of the large hole in the street resultant from the Doctor's early attempt at diplomacy with Professor Taykov. However, though they were faced forward, the mindzombies by definition were not in the most alert frame of mind, and they paid the large hole hardly any more attention than Tegan, who didn't know it was there, did.
Tegan's first inkling that something was going wrong with the mindzombies' day was the wave of exclamations like "Oof!" and "Ow" that seemed to be moving toward her from the front of the formation. A fair amount of twisting revealed to her that the mindzombies were walking straight into the hole as if it they didn't see it, and stumbling about inside once there. This gave her just enough warning to renew her struggle to escape right at the moment that the mindzombie carrying her was suddenly distracted by not having anywhere to walk on any more. By now the pile of mindzombies was nearly filling the hole, so Tegan had only to climb over them and out, finding herself just outside the front doors of the Taykov Building.
"We need to get into Professor Taykov's office unobserved," said the Doctor.
"The elevator won't do?" Lysor asked. "He'll know we're coming?"
"Because of the cameras?" Isie added.
"He might just," said the Doctor.
They went past the elevator on the zink underground's floor. So far they had managed to avoid mindzombies by taking the stairs, but there didn't appear to be any between this floor and the one above it.
"Just a minute," said the Doctor. He motioned Lysor and Isie to stay where they were standing, and he walked to the nearer end of the corridor. Then he walked from there to the farther end. Then he walked back to Lysor and Isie.
"Got a cramp?" Isie asked.
"The corridor on the storey below this," said the Doctor, "is twenty paces long. So are all those below it. This one, however, is seventeen paces long, and so was the one above it. Yet from the outside all the storeys appear the same length. There must be a secret stairwell, or elevator shaft, that connects these two floors."
Lysor nodded. "Gotta have more than one exit from every floor of a public building," he said. "Not even Professor Taykov would dare ignore the Algol Building Code."
"His office is this way," said the Doctor, pointing at the ceiling of the nearer end of the corridor.
In Hensia's music store, Hensia was putting new stock on the shelves on the random assuption that mindzombies might be fond of late twentieth century alternative rock. Forbarb entered the store from the stockroom.
"Hensia!" he called, startling her. Hensia dropped the music toroids she hadn't stocked yet.
"You startled me," she said. "How did you get in?"
"I used Tintov's destabliser," he said. "Have you heard from him?"
"No, I've been occupied."
"He must get a signal through to us!" Forbarb worried. "Without the security codes from the Ploristan mother ship, the entire Querl offensive will be for nothing!"
"I thought Jebrontist could get them too," said Hensia.
Forbarb hesitated. "Jebrontist stopped transmitting yesterday. We fear the worst. I didn't want to tell you."
"Oh no! Does Carsistar know?"
"Yes. It was she who sent Tintov off."
"Jebrontist was the best of us," Hensia said. "... Oh wait. No, the second best."
"Yes ..." Forbarb fell silent for a moment, allowing Hensia her grief. Then he said, "By the way, what's with all those mindless people walking in step through the city?"
"Oh, those are mindzombies. Professor Taykov makes them."
In Professor Taykov's office a bookshelf swung away from the wall. The Doctor, Lysor, and Isie came out from behind it, and it swung back into place.
"Where is this secret transciever?" asked the Doctor.
"I dunno," said Isie. "It's a secret."
"It's over here," came Nyssa's voice from a darkened corner. Lights came up to reveal Nyssa and Adric, holding zombieguns on the intruders. Behind them, in an alcove exposed by the displacement of another bookshelf, was a two-way hypervideo set. "Professor Taykov knew you'd be back."
"Ah, Nyssa," said the Doctor cheerily, reaching into a pocket as Lysor and Isie cowered. "Have a walnut." He tossed a nut each to Nyssa and Adric. They snagged them out of the air with their mouths, like trained animals. Immediately even Nyssa became quite glassy-eyed.
"What did you do?" Isie asked.
"Nyssa gave me the hint, when she observed that mindzombies don't eat," said the Doctor. He sat at the hypervideo set as he spoke, powering it up. "It was probably the last thing she said while in her own mind; the bioelectrician in her giving me a clue I'd need. Floroxyneodymide is a proteinoid virus that shuts down a portion of mental activity. The introduction of new proteins accelerates the process past the point of organism viability. That'll be why mindzombies don't eat - they don't need to, and it's actually bad for them."
"Then why did these two eat the walnuts?" Lysor asked.
"And why did they snag them out of the air with their mouths, like trained animals?" Isie asked.
"Because ..." But the Doctor trailed off. The screen on the hypervideo had resolved into an imperialistic looking logo, all shields and spears and lions and dassavits. "Oh no," said the Doctor.
"What is it?"
"Professor Taykov is selling out your planet to the Stellar Empire of Dorndop. They're an insidious, evil people."
"Ought we to be ringing them up then?" Lysor asked nervously.
"It's all right," said the Doctor. "It's a voice-activated system, set to Dorndop standards, with a higher volume threshold than you or I would use. We need only avoid making any loud, discordant noises."
The Doctor, Isie and Lysor couldn't see it, watching the viewscreen, but as the Doctor said, "loud, discordant noises", through the bookcase entrance to the office arrived Tegan, with an angry, put-upon look on her face.
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