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The Doctor hastily established a force-field but one of the Cybermen had made it into the opposite corridors and managed to kill most of the colonists before finally collapsing beneath their collective fire. The Cybermen continued down the corridor.

This pattern continued for about five minutes with the Cybermen overrunning various positions as the Doctor attempted to use his force-fields to protect the colonists and guide the Cybermen, he hoped, to their doom.Then he saw that they were almost on top of Ace.

~~~

Ace had heard approaching shots and had been ready for the past few minutes. Then they appeared from around the corner. She had encountered Cybermen before and so she knew how deadly they could be, fortunately she was also aware of their weaknesses. ‘Remember to aim for their respirators,’ she shouted to the colonists around her as they opened fire.

She saw two of the Cybermen collapse to the ground as one of the colonists at her side, a young man named Rob, whom she’d been getting to know rather well while they had waited, was thrown against the wall behind them with a gapping hole in his chest.

Ace took better cover as she recommenced firing at the Cybermen, shouting ‘Keep low!’ hoping others would hear her cover the deafening roar of weapons fire.

It soon became clear that they would have to fall back as the Cybermen bore down on them and the defenders began to fall with alarming regularity.

Back in the control room the Doctor, staring intently at one of the monitors, muttered, ‘Drop back, Ace. Come on, Ace, don’t push it.’ He knew he would have to put up the force-field soon that would cut off the colonists escape route otherwise a path would be clear right to the control room and the Cybermen would by-pass the remaining strong-points.Ace was just about to give the order to fall back when a hole appeared in the shielding she was hiding behind at about leg height. Pain tore through her as metal fragments charged with the residue of the Cyberman's weapon ripped into her arm and leg. She wanted to scream in pain but managed to give the order to fall back as the shielding to her left exploded.

Ace saw six twisted bodies collapse to the floor but the remaining defenders made it down the escape corridor. She knew that has had to drag herself down the corridor before the Doctor put up his force-field.‘Ace!’ the Doctor shouted in alarm as he saw her fall from the blast that tore into the shielding in front of her. He saw several more colonists collapse as the other shield blew apart and the remaining fighters retreated down the corridor. That left just Ace and then he could put up the force-field. ‘Come on, Ace.’ he whispered.

Ace realised that she was going to have to get a move on as the Cybermen approached from around the corner. She saw two collapse under the retreating shots from the defenders. An explosion followed by a shower of sparks from above her, and made her turn to see a shattered security camera hanging limply from the wall.Now blind, the Doctor knew that he would have to throw the switch for the force-field before the Cybermen made it through. ‘Good luck, Ace.’ he said and flipped the switch to the on position.

Ace left the force-field crackle into life behind her as a wry smile crossed her face. She felt her hand automatically closing around a can of nitro-nine that she had hidden in her pocket before taking up her position with the colonists. She saw more Cybermen marching around the corner. ‘Come and get me then!’ she shouted, as she flipped the top off the canister and set the timer. As she bent her arm to throw the explosive she remembered all the times that the Doctor had warned her about using explosives in confined spaces. She ducked behind the remaining shielding as the can sailed through the air towards the invaders.

The Doctor’s eyes ran over the monitors on the wall searching for any sign of Ace. Where was she? There was a chance that she could make it down the corridor that he was guiding the Cybermen down ahead of the enemy. Assuming that she was still alive. ‘Come on, Ace, please…’

The flames of the explosion washed over her but the shielding protected her from the worse of the blast. She pulled herself into an upright position and saw about thirty twisted metallic bodies gathered in front of her. ‘Ace.’ she said in a voice full of pain. Just then she heard a flickering behind her and she turned to see the force-field flashing as it tried to re-establish itself after the blast from the explosion.

Five minutes later, the Doctor stood having guided the Cybermen through all but two of the strong-points. He still hadn’t seen any sign of Ace and now the Cybermen were almost at the heart of the base. The Cybermen approached the penultimate ambush.

Dwight had personally joined this attack on the enemy, knowing that it failed the base was likely to be overrun. By now the defenders had been reduced to the ragged survivors from the other defence lines. He fell as though the occasion called for him to say something, so with a dry voice chocked with fear and sorrow he said solemnly, ‘People of Minardi, you have fought well for your colony and for your freedom. We are almost all that lies between the attackers and the heart of the base. We must stop them.’ and that was all he was allowed to say as a shot from the Cybermen guns tore into the wall behind him.

The Doctor saw the Cybermen approaching the defence point, their numbers now small after so much resistance but the defenders only numbered about ninety. Things were going very badly.

Dwight gave the order to fall back as the defence shield exploded towards him, where stood about thirty Cybermen.

~~~

Doctor Bates stood in the infirmary treating some of the injured that had made it back. He heard gunfire from the corridors outside and knew that if that line fell he would be dead. He went about his business, patching up the worst of the wounded and attempting to stabilise them.

All of a sudden, the door burst open and a group of colonists rushed in. ‘Take cover! They're here!’ one of them shouted as he leapt behind a computer terminal which exploded in a shower of sparks as one of the metallic monsters calmly entered the room.

Bates ran into an adjourning room where Jane and her daughter Minardi sat, crying in their bed.

The Doctor saw the last defence wall fall and knew things were about to come to an end. The colony had been devastated and either group were about to fall. The Governor burst into the room with a group of colonists, as a Cyberman calmly pushed back the doors and entered the Doctor said, quite calmly: ‘I’ve failed.’

Bates heard gunfire in the next room. He heard screams of agony both human and mechanical. He turned to Jane who wept and said, ‘She never had a chance to live.’ Bates felt a fire pass through him as he was blasted onto the bed.

The Doctor saw a Cyberman fall and rushed forward and seized its gun. Only six colonists and six Cybermen left standing.

He fired.

Jane lay in her bed as the Cyberman turned towards her and raised its gun. She screamed as its head exploded from a shot from the other room.

A person was pushed through the wall, his spine twisting into an unnatural shape, a silver hand wrapped around its throat. The Cyberman pushed his way through the new doorway and brought its gun up to point at her.

The Doctor screamed in agony as the final Cyberman wrenched the gun from his hand almost snapping his wrist. He felt its steel grip close around his neck. If only he’d been a bit quicker at shooting, this last Cyberman would have been dead. He already knew all of the other colonists lay on the floor. He had to roll quickly to the side to avoid the falling Cyberman.

‘Professor, are you alright?’ he heard a very welcome voice say.

Before he could answer a spine chilling cry came from the infirmary. He got to his feet as quickly as he could snatching up the nearest weapon and staggered to the infirmary.

The Cyberman fired. Jane began to giggle hysterically as the weapon failed to discharge its bolt of death. The Cyberman walked over to the bed and brought its fist down on her head. A baby screamed.

The Doctor burst into the infirmary and saw a hole leading into the room where he knew Jane was. ‘No!’ he cried in a chocked voice as he leapt into the room. He took in the situation instantly: a Cyberman on the floor along with a colonist, Bates slumped over the bed, Jane’s wrecked body lying there clutching her screaming baby and a Cyberman stood over her bringing it’s fist down towards the child. He fired at the soulless monster.

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