With only a few rounds left in his gun, the Brigadier encouraged the Doctor to join him in a tactical withdrawal. The ghosts came after them, stepping through walls whenever necessary before resuming their attack. The Brigadier has seen many men fight and was used to the look of anger and panic in their eyes, but the phantoms had completely expressionless faces, devoid of anything that could be described as human. The Doctor believed they might be dealing with a psycho-plasma matrix or even photogenic matter, but the Brigadier suspected he was plucking technical jargon out of thin air.
They Brigadier took the Doctor to the medical ward in the hope that he could work out the cause of Konrad’s illness, but they found his friend had got much worse. The Doctor discovered the level of the alien compound in Konrad’s blood was even higher than those logged in the autopsy reports. The Doctor used a device to bring the Kolonel around and the man begged the Brigadier to forgive him. He mumbled incoherently for a while, then slipped back into unconsciousness. Major Schrader arrived and ordered his men to take Konrad into another laboratory which he claimed was better protected. He told the Brigadier their attackers now included 1940s soldiers, Roman legionnaires, knights and even barbarians, but he was unwilling to discuss the situation in the presence of the Doctor as he considered him to be a security risk.
The Brigadier regretted indulging Schrader earlier and now he insisted that the Major tell them what’s going on. Kriegeskind Castle was as much a research centre as it was a military base and Project 995 was one of their most secret ventures. It concerned a plant discovered in the jungles of South East Asia. It was alien in origin and had the potential to dwarf the most dangerous weapons in the world. UNIT was asked to conduct a series of trials and they discovered extracts from the plant could produce incredible enhancements in the mental and physical abilities of the test subjects. Konrad had chosen the subjects, but because he was unwilling to ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself, he took part too. After all the previous invasion attempts, he knew they were in a fight to defend their planet from forces with technology centuries in advance of their own. They needed better weapons to help level the playing field…or failing that they needed a better breed of soldier, one that could defeat an alien invader on their own terms.
Konrad and Schrader had come to believe the only way to defend Earth was to modify human beings and Project 995 was an attempt to create a super-soldier. Schrader insisted that no one was coerced into volunteering and everyone knew the risks - but they all died except for Konrad, and shortly after that the incursions started. Schrader said he believed the time shifts were the result of an alien aggressive force trying to sabotage the project and he suggested the Doctor himself, as an extra-terrestrial, may secretly be an agent for the invaders. He accused the Brigadier of allowing the Doctor to infiltrate UNIT operations in Britain and then he announced that he’d already taken steps to ensure that neither Kriegeskind nor Project 995 fell into the hands of the enemy.
Schrader had initiated the Arc Light Protocol - an operational command code that the Brigadier knew only too well, since it was originally his idea to create it. Arc Light was a last-ditch solution, a kind of scorched earth policy. In the event that a UNIT facility was in danger of falling to enemy forces or that something within it came to represent a threat to the world at large, the entire base would be “sanitised”, effectively wiping it off the face of the earth. They had no more than four hours before a bomber air strike obliterated the Castle and everything within a two-mile radius!
Elsewhere in the Castle the battle with the phantom soldiers continued unabated. The Doctor remained in the lab trying to cobble together some equipment while the Brigadier armed himself and took the fight to the enemy. But for every ghost the UNIT troops destroyed, there seemed to be another ten close behind him. They advanced in waves, one after another, as if history itself had come to kill them. It dawned on the Brigadier that the men he was fighting alongside, plus those down in the lab, were all that remained of the UNIT forces at Kriegeskind, and with each passing moment, their numbers were diminishing. He gave the order for the men to disengage and fall back to the medical wing where he hoped they could fortify their position.
In the lab, the Doctor had identified the plant that was used in the experiments. It was a very rare extra-terrestrial phylum from the galaxy M33 that drifted through space in a dormant condition until it could take root on other planets. It was quite benign in its normal state, but it contained psychotropic elements that could stimulate radical biological changes in humans and cause the subject to develop uncontrollable psychic ability. It became clear that the phantom invaders weren’t coming from the past at all, they were part of Kriegeskind’s own history being conjured up from the very stone of the castle itself. The Doctor explained that ancient places always captured a trace of the emotions spent within in, and if those energies were strong, they could linger like a psychic mark. The test subjects were all soldiers, attuned to the bloody business of warfare. When the alien plant altered their minds, their latent psychic powers reached out and drew the echoes of battles from the past to them. This also meant that with five of the six subjects already dead from the poison, the psychic force must be resonating from the only remaining survivor of Project 995 - Kolonel Heinrich Konrad.
Schrader refused to believe a word of the theory and his behaviour began to sound manic as he accused the Doctor of being an alien invader in-waiting. The Brigadier suspected the pressure of the situation had become too much for him and he was disturbed when Schrader refused to countermand the Arc Light Protocol. He regarded the Major as a fool who’d given in to his fear and allowed it to rule his every waking moment. Realising they were wasting their time, the Doctor returned to the laboratory and started work on building a psionic counter wave to halt the phantoms.
The Brigadier rallied the men, determined that if he was going to die here, at least he’d go down fighting. The phantoms continued to advance slowly down the corridors so he ordered his men to fire short controlled bursts from their rifles. He was chilled by the thought that if they died, they too might become new additions to the army of ghosts, haunting this place until the end of time. Instead of facing them head on, the phantoms started walking through the walls and then the Brigadier heard the blood curdling scream of Major Schrader. He raced into the medical ward and saw the Major impaled on a Roman’s sword. The enemy had changed their tactics and were flanking the UNIT personnel by walking through the walls to catch them unawares. The Brigadier and his men eventually managed to beat them back, but it was too late to save Schrader.
During a pause in the attacks, the Brigadier found himself listening for the sound of the approaching aircraft, unsure whether he’d even be able to hear it this deep inside the castle. Kolonel Konrad briefly woke up and started muttering incomprehensibly, but the Brigadier tried to stop him as his ramblings were upsetting the junior officers. He wanted to give Konrad something to ease the pain, but there was no cure as the alien plant had meshed itself into his body, changing him irrevocably. It was only by some quirk of biology that he’d been able to survive this long, but he’d lost his mind in the process.
Suddenly the phantom army attacked again, coming from every conceivable angle and carrying swords, axes, maces and machine guns. It was easy to hit them with return fire, but the UNIT soldiers were badly outnumbered. The Brigadier knew Konrad was the unwilling source of all this death and destruction and just for a moment it occurred to him there was a single round left in his gun. He didn’t mind taking the life of an enemy, but could he really kill a comrade and friend in cold blood? The Doctor interrupted his thoughts and showed him the device he’d just finished making. It looked more like a work of art than a practical device, but the Doctor flicked a switch and the phantoms immediately stopped and remained frozen in their positions like statues. The Brigadier touched one and was chilled right down to his bone. The Doctor explained that his counter wave was nullifying the effect of the psychic field inside the castle. The Brigadier was quietly pleased, but he knew it could only be a matter of minutes before Arc Light was implemented. The Doctor didn’t know how long his wave would remain operable so he ordered the Brigadier to get the surviving soldiers away as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately the Doctor needed to remain behind to keep the machine in check. The Brigadier volunteered to take his place as the Doctor was far more valuable to UNIT and to the Universe than he was, and it looked like there was going to be another huge argument between them - but then Kolonel Konrad spoke to them from his bed and said he’d do it. Perhaps because of some side effect of the counter wave, some element of the man Konrad once was had returned. The Brigadier checked that he was alright, but Konrad blamed himself for everything that had happened. He thought he could defeat their enemies by becoming like them, but instead all he did was unleash an even greater threat - the uncontrolled pain and horror of a thousand battles. The Brigadier told him the Arc Light bombers were still on their way so Konrad formally reassumed his post as commander of Kriegeskind and ordered the Brigadier to leave immediately. Then he said goodbye to his old friend and told him not to look back.
The Brigadier led the evacuation from the castle and noticed there were some new additions amongst the phantoms - men in UNIT uniforms! The group moved as quickly as they could. The bombers appeared on the horizon and the Doctor grabbed the radio from the Brigadier urgently and said they still had time to call them off. He contacted Konrad and told him they were all clear, then they listed as Konrad used the radio back at the castle to speak to air command. The Kolonel read out a code word, but the Brigadier knew it wasn’t the abort code. Seconds later, the bombers struck and Kriegeskind Castle was completely obliterated as a firestorm swept in…
The Brigadier took some small comfort from the fact that Konrad, Kriegeskind and the phantoms all perished together. Every trace of the alien plant was also atomised, along with all the other research material. The Brigadier later made sure the entire sorry affair was committed to a sealed file so it couldn’t happen again. In his rush to protect his world, Konrad had let his judgement slip, but he paid the price for making the wrong decision. The Doctor told the Brigadier he was sorry about his friend, but the Brigadier realised it all came down to the choices they made - Konrad’s choices at Kriegeskind and his own choices at Wenley Moor. They’d both done what they thought to be right.
Years later and Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart has never forgotten the choices made and the consequences thereof. He’s determined that when the next threat comes to this planet - and it will - they won’t defeat it by making themselves as alien as their enemies. He knows that if we sacrifice everything we are, then there’s nothing worth defending any more. The one thing that makes us unique is our humanity. He pours himself a drink and makes a toast to absent friends, comrades in arms and old soldiers…