The 3rd Doctor and Jo have a hairy day at UNIT HQ when an alien follows them home in the Tardis.
“Around here, Jo.”
The Doctor pulled his Companion around the corner and they flattened themselves against the corridor wall. The Doctor peered around the corner, back toward the sounds of yells, gunfire and strange alien bellows.
“How did that thing get here?” Jo asked.
“Excellent question, Miss Grant.”
Jo whipped around to see the Brigadier standing behind her, gun drawn, furious under his mustache. “How the blazes did that thing get in my HQ!” he yelled at the Doctor.
“That hardly matters at the moment,” the Doctor answered.
The double doors at the end of the corridor burst open and Sergeant Benton and two UNIT soldiers came running through, the soldiers turned backwards, firing at the creature behind them.
It crashed through the closing doors, ripping them off their hinges. Seven feet tall from hoof to horn. It had the conformation of a large deer or horse, wide and bulky, covered with thick, matted grey-blue fur like a bear. It snarled and tried to rear, the single curved, black horn in its forehead gouged a furrow in the ceiling, forcing it back down to all fours. It glared, shaking its heavy head. It locked obsidian eyes on the retreating soldiers, ignoring the bullets that continued to bounce off it.
“This way!” the Brigadier yelled. His men veered around the corner and ran after the Brigadier as he sprinted down the corridor into the next section. Jo and the Doctor followed.
The Brigadier turned into the corridor that led to the outer door, but the Doctor sprinted past him, heading deeper into the complex. “This way, Brigadier! We can’t lead him outside!”
The soldiers and Jo followed the Doctor, the creature bellowed behind them, its bulk making it hard for it to negotiate around the corners.
“In here!” The Doctor slammed into the assembly hall and he and Jo herded the others inside. The Brigadier entered last, as rear guard, gun drawn, keeping an eye on the bellowing monster at the end of the hall. Suddenly the monster went misty grey and slipped around the corner like smoke. It galloped down the corridor with ghostlike grace, its hoofbeats pounding like the echo of a nightmare, its eyes locked on them. The Brigadier set off a shot. The bullet passed through the beast, drawing a streamer of mist after it, like shooting a cloud.
The Doctor grabbed him and yanked him inside, he slammed the doors shut and locked them, Jo jammed a chair under the handles.
“Well, that’s not going to keep it out!” the Brigadier protested.
“It might delay it,” the Doctor answered back. “Upstairs!” he ordered. He led the sprint across the folding chair strewn hall, cape flying, out the next door and up the enclosed staircase to the first floor.
They collapsed in the hallway at the top of the stairs, leaning against the walls, trying to catch their breath. Below they heard the door crash open, and the metallic cacophony as the beast stampeded into the mass of chairs. There was a below of outrage and the building shook as something heavy hit the floor. They could hear the sounds of thrashing, feel the trembling of the floor under their feet.
“Maybe we’re lucky and it broke a leg,” Benton offered as they all strained to listen. It had gone strangely silent.
The Doctor shook his head, “Those things can’t break a leg.” He looked at his young assistant, who was panting, propped against the wall. “You okay, Jo?”
“Yes, “ she gulped and caught her breath. “Why is it acting this way? It wasn’t like this yesterday.”
“You’ve seen these things before, Miss Grant?” the Brigadier asked.
“Yes, we visited their planet...” she looked at the Doctor.
“Melanchoria,” he supplied the name of the planet.
The Brigadier stared at them, eyes wide with disbelief. “You mean it followed you home?!” he bellowed.
“No,” the Doctor said repressively, before the Brigadier could continue with a rant. “Obviously it got into the Tardis somehow.” Jo looked down at her feet. “They’re not normally aggressive, Brigadier,” the Doctor said.
“Well, it’s aggressive now! Just ask Benton!” He waved to the burly young soldier who had taken up position with his men at the head of the staircase. “How’s the arm, Sergeant?”
“The bleeding’s stopped, sir.” Jo winced at the bloody kerchief that was wrapped around the sergeant’s upper arm.
“Nevertheless, as soon as this creature is contained, I want you to report directly to the sickbay.”
“Yes sir. But how are we going to contain it?” he asked. “Bullets just bounce off it, or pass right through it. Even a net won’t work. I told the men to fall back.”
“Good man. So, Doctor, how are we going to contain it?” the Brigadier demanded.
“Well, first off, we mustn’t let it get outside, or even see the outside. It can phase right through the walls if it gets a glimpse of sky. The only reason it is still even marginally contained is because it’s confused. It’s in a strange environment, cut off from its harem, with nothing but blank walls in its way. We must keep it that way. Tell the men to shutter the windows. Block all the exterior doors. We’ve got to keep it boxed up, if it gets outside we’ll never catch it.”
“Right,” the Brigadier nodded to Benton who nodded receipt of the unspoken order. “So how are we going to catch it? We can’t shoot it, rope it, or herd it, as Sergeant Benton proved when it burst out of your lab. I’d prefer not to have any more of my men injured.”
“Too right,” the Doctor agreed. “So we’re going to lure it. Jo, you had the whole herd following you around yesterday. Think you can pull it off again?”
“They were only following me because I was feeding them crackers,” Jo protested.
“Bloody big parrot,” the Brigadier muttered.
Jo stiffened and stood up straighter. “I’m willing to try, Doctor. But where’ll we get crackers? It’s between us and the Tardis.”
They could hear the creature moving around downstairs again, metal chairs screeching and clattering as it moved through them, but it sounded quieter now, calmer. Perhaps the larger area, space enough to move around in, was all it needed.
A sudden gunshot and an enraged alien bellow, was quickly followed by the thudding gallop of heavy hooves and army boots.
“Who the devil was that?” the Brigadier demanded. “I thought you told the men to fall back?” he turned to the sergeant.
“I did, sir. Someone must have thought they could get a lucky shot.”
“Some luck. Right, whatever we’re going to do, we better do it quickly. I can’t have an angry alien unicorn rampaging through my HQ. Sergeant, pull the men to the perimeter of the building. Block out the windows. Doctor, is there any weapon that might be useful against this thing? Fire? Magnetism?”
“No. It’s held together by a reactive kinetic field. Depending on its mood it can be as insubstantial as cloud or a solid as stone.”
“Figures. So what do you need to fight it?”
“ A bit of intelligence, Brigadier.” the Doctor said. “And a handful of crackers.”
They crept down the stairs, keeping an eye open for the unicorn. Benton and the Brigadier each split off with one of the men to go secure the building. Jo and the Doctor wended their way downstairs to the basement canteen.
“I’m sorry, Doctor,” Jo apologized, sorrowfully, a they scrounged for crackers in the kitchen. “I should have made sure the door was closed when I went inside to get more crackers. It must have followed me inside.”
“Don’t worry about it, Jo. For all that it’s mean and hairy it’s still just a deer. The Brigadier will get over it, and next time you’ll know to close the door, right?” He tilted her chin up to look at him, an understanding look in his eye.
She smiled at him. “Right.”
“Now. Where do they keep the infernal crackers in here? You’d think a military kitchen would be better organized!” He opened cupboards and rummaged through the items on the counters.
“Do you think it would like chocolate biscuits?” Jo asked, holding up a half eaten package she’d found in a drawer.
“Couldn’t hurt. I haven’t yet found a species that didn’t like chocolate.”
“You sure you want to do this, Jo?” the Doctor asked as they lurked around the corner, hearing the creature savaging the clothes press in the supply room beside them. The huge animal was banging against the walls, stomping and snorting with wall shaking force in its anger and fear as it trampled the spare uniforms.
“Yes. I can do this. They’re really sweet animals when they’re calmed down. Don’t worry about me.” She started to step around the door, then jumped back. The unicorn swiped its horn across the doorway right at her head level, leaving gouges in the doorframe on either side. She gulped, eyes huge, and turned to the Doctor.
“Do you suppose you could do that hypnosis thing on it,” she said, “like you did on Agador?”
The Doctor looked at her in surprise, then reached into his pocket. “Jo, that is an excellent suggestion.” He pulled out the sonic screwdriver, rummaged in another pocket and found the mirror attachment that he hadn’t yet set aside, he fitted the two together. “Can you reach the light switch?” he asked, nodding toward the room where the unicorn was still stamping and thrashing. “This works better in the dark.”
Jo took a breath, and nodded. She waited until the beast was on the far side of the room, then reached around and flipped off the light. The beast immediately roared its disapproval and reared, lashing out with its hooves. The Doctor snatched her back and jumped in front of her, twirling the mirror, and crooning a Venusian Lullaby. “Lockleed a partha...”
The Brigadier watched in disbelief, his men standing around him with their guns dangling in their hands, as the Doctor and Jo led the huge beast through the hallways. The Doctor walked backward singing to it as Jo laid a path of chocolate biscuits for it. Leading it, step by step, biscuit by biscuit back to the lab.
The Brigadier and his men followed in a herd, as the Doctor led the beast through the shattered doors of the lab, then over to the door of the Tardis. The Time Lord fumbled backward, pushing the doors open wide as Jo kept the creature calm by hand feeding it biscuits.
The Brigadier eyed the open doors of the Tardis, there was no way the creature would fit through those, but as the Doctor walked backward, crooning, the huge horselike creature followed him, and the doorway seemed somehow to expand, without changing size.
The seven foot tall unicorn passed cleanly through the doorway, with space to spare. The Brigadier blinked, the beast was twice the length of the blue box, but it disappeared completely inside.
There was a long drawn out silence as the men watched the Tardis, listening for sounds of trouble.
The Doctor emerged a few minutes later, casually pocketing his hypnotic screwdriver. “There we are, Brigadier. I’ve set him up in the stables and supplied him with plenty of grain. As soon as we’ve cleaned up things here, Jo and I will return him to his natural home.”
The entire crew of UNIT soldiers breathed a sigh of relief. Jo breathed a sigh of resignation as she looked around the shattered remains of the Doctor’s lab. It would take hours to clean all this up. She didn’t look forward to the Doctor’s acerbic remarks when he got a look at his smashed experiments.
“Right.” The Brigadier holstered his sidearm and turned to the men. “Captain Yates. Start a cleanup detail. I want this HQ running normally by nightfall. Sergeant Benton, report to the infirmary.”
His men nodded and left to start work.
“Right then, Doctor,” the Brigadier said, turning back with a resolute look on his face. “If you are going to keep going off on these day trips to other planets, I think we’re going to have to establish some protocols,” the Brigadier said.
“Oh, really, Brigadier,” the Doctor said in a long-suffering tone. “One little unicorn... It’s not like we went to Caulderon and brought back one of the fire apes.”
The Brigadier stared at him. “Protocols are definitely in order.”