“… definitely the Admiral,” the 8th Doctor Flesh says softly to the TARDIS from his nice comfy high back chair, “…it was the only real choice, wasn’t it dear? It was, it was. It’s obvious really, because I was the very model of a modern Major General once, wasn’t I, and once I pull this wire and clip this doohickey here… attach this thingamajig to that bit there… oh wait that was the electric teapot. Oops. Was that the Admiral I just tripped over and broke? Oh it was, wasn’t it? Damn dyspraxia- this Flesh is failing, then. I’d better be quick. Ah, hm. Well, then. Hello, Amberola! And Dear, thank you so much for inviting me! And bringing the party favors to the console room. Always that.”
He stands for a moment with the flat of his hand against the TARDIS’ center console, then lifts the top of the standing old honey-colored Amberola; it slides off into his hand.
Just then a view screen drops down a bit too quickly on a periscope, smashing onto last week’s luncheon napkin (on which he is certain he scribbled the meaning of the universe for a fan at the party) and a treatise on the proper accord for dancing in one’s teacup with the tiny unicorn people of Flibbertigibbet.
The Master’s face and hands seem to be at odds through the viewfinder, as though the man is uncertain whether to tie his converse laces or wrap them around an absent neck… his fingers are twitching that-a-way, see? Obviously, he craves a freshly- greased garrote for his birthday. What a queer request for a party favor.
The Master seems to be mumbling something about… oh what is it?
The Eighth Doctor Flesh cranes his neck, arching his ear to the shuffling muffle of sound.
“… all blonde girls named Rose… this annoying... back when he was… annoyed me too… want to strangle…”
“…Oh, garrotes are so last week. How about a nice pickled onion instead?”
“You -are- a pickled onion, oh ye worm of man’s imagining. WE HAVE FIFTEEN SECONDS BEFORE THIS PARTICULAR WINDOW IS CLOSED! But oh jellies what’s the use. You give me hives, you wonderful dolt. See you in an hour or so, when the next shift in the field rolls along!”
The Eighth Doctor twirls around merrily, the lid of the antique radio balancing in the light fingers of one hand as though it’s a tray of hors d’ oeuvres.
“I suppose I should drop it now, hrm?” he asks the TARDIS, his red velvet shoulders drooping a little along with the rest of the waistcoat.
The vitrola Amberola’s heavy lid falls squarely on his foot, but at least he’s found what he’s been looking for.
His death note, written on a blue post-it and stuck on the inside of the vitrola.
He doesn’t blink.
“Ah, pain clears the mind; it’s time to work. I need a dual-plane temporal wrench, my silver-plated Double Fanucci set, a lock of Rose’s hair and a cauldron, oh and…” he clicks the list off the fingers of his free hand, “…in about an hour Koschei, I mean the Master, I mean Koschei, my but I’m whirly today, will be on the television again, nattering at me to fix that stupid problem of his. But I’m melting, look at that!” he holds up a glove, all lumpy and drainy and full of white liquid, like a blown up balloon filled with glue. “Temporal grace me, would you? I need to speed things up without going out like the wicked witch before I’m quite ready.”
An hour passes.
Koschei’s face appears in the screen again.
“I feel like a vitrola after it married a rainstorm and had an argument with a solar flare,” the Eighth Doctor Flesh slurs slowly, from a mouth now little more than a steaming pile of white on the floor. “And since I’m unavailable at any number, one of us will have to get Rassilon. He’s the only other one of us who has had contact with…That One… well, besides me. I don’t feel good. Do I look like curdled milk? Have I married a pudding? I feel like I did. A blood pudding? A Yorkshire? Black? Bread? White? Brown? Plum cake and cheese perhaps, or a nice fruit plate? No?”
The Master waits for a moment, looking on the talking pile of white goo. Then he says, “Yes, yes I get it. No need to speak the words. And speaking of sorry, the honeymoon was always over for me, you big lump. Where is Rassilon now? Do -you- know where he was going?”
The goo says nothing now; it just bubbles, a pale riveting pool of hot spring mud.
The Master’s mind springs to a thought of his escape route, installed behind the console of the hidden com room.
Rassilon can fly a shuttle, he reasons, clutching and releasing his hoodie like a worry doll. It stands to reason he found the button for the first part of the flight plan in the… and if he did, he must be on the return trip by now… as planned. The Doctor must have planned it; the bastard plans everything else. Kind of. Possibly. Maybe-probably. Idiot. Hopefully.
The Master then turns to Rose/Rosette and says, “You know what I want. Send it.” Then his fingers stab out weakly and he says, “Engage.”
But his eyes say, “…don’t tell him I’m a trekkie or I’ll turn you into kuchen dough, Little Miss Yellow Annoying.”
Once more a milky effigy, Rose/Rosette giggles as she sends the message through the point between Gallifrey’s two suns, the signal piggybacking on the TARDIS and riding on the tiny violin’s undetectable temporal contrail, hidden just enough, timed just so with three seconds to spare. It will make it through the mine cloud’s blind spot without detonating everytime, everywhere.
It must. The shuttle must be reached.
And Rassilon must hear.