Three Daleks land on Earth outside a remote village. They spend several days sneaking around the countryside, alert to discover a particularly well-hidden laboratory. As they prepare to infiltrate it, two humans appear out of nowhere.
David and his younger brother Peter have pinched their uncle's laboratory keys, allowing them to hurry towards the lab's prize content: the Time-Conveyors. They had tried to get a glimpse of the machines earlier, when their uncle was hosting a press conference, but it had been far too crowded. They discuss some of what had been said during that meeting, while the lurking Daleks listened.
The Time-Conveyors are not yet perfected. Their uncle has not quite figured out how to make them go precisely where he wants them to go, nor is there a guarantee that the operator could get back home once they departed. That's why, the boys conclude, there are two of them. Mark Two is really a rescue ship for Mark One. Still, when their uncle demonstrated the machine for the gathered press, it worked flawlessly — so well, in fact, that the boys now just want to get a better look at the wondrous new technology.
As they circle the machines, they tempt each other with thoughts of using the Time-Conveyors themselves. Of the two, David is the more enthusiastic; Peter must remind his older brother they have come to look, not touch.
Suddenly the Daleks reveal themselves and block the lab's doorway. They tell the boys to stand aside. Announcing that they intend to take the Time-Conveyor back to Skaro so that their scientists can improve upon it, they enter Mark One and dematerialise. Instinctively, the boys rush into the Mark Two and give chase.
The "rescue" Time-Conveyor naturally hones in on the Mark One. The boys find themselves close to the Daleks, who have landed in a trench in the middle of World War I. The boys notice that the Daleks can't seem to work the calendar control well. They decide that their main objective is to get close enough to the Daleks to get into the Mark One and try to set it for home.
They try to approach the Mark One, but the incoming mortar fire has enshrouded the area in smoke. The boys lose sight of the Daleks and the Mark One. Through the cloud, the boys eventually see that the Daleks are taking direct fire. One takes multiple heavy ordinances simultaneously and explodes — though not before inadvertently helping the British by effectively repulsing the German offensive. The remaining Daleks move to depart. The boys return to the Mark Two and give chase.
The boys escape Flanders just before a massive shell detonates next to them. In an instant they're onboard a sailing vessel. They quickly see that their Dalek enemies are already aboard. The ship's sailors are running scared from one on the deck. They jump overboard, leaving the ship crewless. Noticing that one of the Daleks is itself close to the edge, David rushes forward and gives it a mighty shove. It topples over the side. The one remaining Dalek has little option. It retreats to the Mark One and dematerialises. The boys return to the Mark Two to follow, without having the time to notice that they're on the Marie Celeste.
The boys end up next in Pompeii, in the middle of the Vesuvian eruption. They immediately notice the Dalek has left the Mark One, so Peter makes a mad dash for it. The Dalek tries to return, but its progress is blocked by the screaming crowd of Italians trying to outrun the lava. Peter makes it to the Mark One and presses the return switch. David immediately follows his brother, leaving the last remaining Dalek to be buried in the lava.
Both Time-Conveyors end up back at the laboratory. They creep out of the lab, carefully locking it. As they go back towards the house, they pass by their uncle, who's relaxing on the terrace with a pipe. He wonders where his nephews have been, but they only say that they've just "been wandering about".
to be added
- This story so closely mimics the idea of The Chase that one of the locations is even the same. This is the second explanation about the mystery of the Marie Celeste which bears Terry Nation's name, and the second time that Daleks have been given as an explanation for that mystery.
- This story was later released as part of Terry Nation's Dalek Audio Annual, read by Matthew Waterhouse.
- David and Peter visit Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius in August 79. Other time travellers present for that event include the Seventh Doctor on two occasions, (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan, PROSE: The Algebra of Ice) the Tenth Doctor (TV: The Fires of Pompeii) and Jack Harkness on multiple occasions. (TV: The Doctor Dances)