16 : The Sound of Drums (Part 1)
Violet groans in annoyance and looks down at her handmade Sonic device - a watch to be precise. The three of them should be there by now considering that Violet entered these exact coordinates into Jack’s Vortex Manipulator when she fixed it without any of them noticing. Moments later a vortex appears, blowing the rubbish around, followed by the Doctor, Jack and Martha.
“Oh, my head,” the dark-skinned woman complains.
“Time travel without a capsule,” the Doctor mutters. “That’s a killer.”
“Still, at least we made it. Earth, 21st Century by the looks of it,” Jack muses. “Talk about lucky.”
“That wasn’t luck, that was Violet.”
“The moral is,” Violet states, walking over to the three and startling them. “If you’re going to get stuck at the end of the universe, get stuck with two ex-Time Agents and a Vortex Manipulator.”
Jack grins and pulls the physically younger girl into a tight hug, her own arms wrapping around his middle and pressing her face into his chest. For him, the Doctor and Martha it’s only been a few seconds, or minutes at most, but, for Violet, it’s been months trapped in this time under the watchful eye of the Master - even before he got elected as Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Forcing herself to pull away from her former lover, Violet sends him a warm smile before hugging the Doctor, allowing herself to relax in his arms as his scent and body engulf her. His presence and hold is comforting in many ways, and it’s much different to the way that Jack’s presence and hold affects her, but she doesn’t mind at all. Moments later she breaks away from the older Time Lord, also smiling at him before turning her attention to Martha as she speaks.
“But this Master bloke, he’s got the TARDIS,” Martha reminds the Doctor. “He could be anywhere in time and space.”
“No, he’s here,” the Doctor says in a low voice that’s bristling with something dark. “Trust me.”
“Who is he, anyway? And that voice at the end, that wasn’t the Professor.”
Jack fixes his long coat. “If the Master’s a Time Lord, then he must have regenerated.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means he’s changed his face, voice, body, everything. New man.”
A beggar is tapping the rhythm of the start of the old Who theme on his tin mug. Di di di dum di di di dum.
“Then how are we going to find him?” Martha demands.
“I’ll know him, the moment I see him,” the Doctor explains. “Time Lords always do.”
Violet rolls her eyes and gives Jack a disbelieving look. You didn’t at the end of the universe, but I did.
“But hold on,” Martha exclaims. “If he could be anyone… We missed the election. But it can’t be…”
A series of public television screens on lamp posts are broadcasting the news, and all Violet does is stand with her arms crossed over her chest as the three other Time Travellers stare at it with shocked eyes. The new Prime Minister is walking down steps with his wife, and it’s the Master, much to the Doctor’s disbelief.
“I said I knew that voice. When he spoke inside the TARDIS,” Martha remembers. “I’ve heard that voice hundreds of times. I’ve seen him. We all have. That was the voice of Harold Saxon.”
The Doctor has an incredulous expression on his face, not sure how this can be happening. “That’s him. He’s Prime Minister. The Master is Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Master and his wife?”
“This country has been sick. This country needs healing. This country needs medicine,” the Master says on the television. “In fact, I’d go so far as to say that what this country really needs right now, is a Doctor.”
Violet lets out a groan as the Doctor and Martha take off, leaving the half Time Lord standing with her head dropped back and her eyes shut, a strange, defeated moan leaving her mouth. Opening her eyes, she looks over to Jack and holds out her hand, inviting him to take hold of hers before the two chase after the Time Lord and the doctor-in-training. To neither’s surprise, they find themselves at Martha’s home after the long run, and Jack instantly pulls out his phone to attempt to call Ianto or Gwen.
“Jack, who are you phoning?” the Doctor demands. “You can’t tell anyone we’re here.”
Jack pulls the phone away from his ear and hangs up. “Just some friends of mine, but there’s no reply.”
Martha fetches her laptop and hands it to the Doctor. “Here you go. Any good?”
“I can show you the Saxon websites. He’s been around for ages.”
“That’s so weird though. It’s the day after the election. That’s only four days after I met you.”
“We went flying all around the universe while he was here all the time,” the Doctor sighs.
Violet snorts and sits on a chair. “I’ve been here for months. Almost ran into you two the other day when the hospital was taken to the moon by the Judoon.”
“You going to tell us who he is?” Martha asks, ignoring what Violet said.
“He’s a Time Lord,” the Doctor says shortly, eyes fixed on the laptop screen.
“What about the rest of it? I mean, who’d call himself the Master?”
“That’s all you need to know.” He rapidly presses buttons. “Come on, show me Harold Saxon.”
A series of web videos are pulled up on Martha’s laptop, and their echoing support for “Harold Saxon” fill the room, deafening Violet before she stands and leaves the room for a moment, the cry in her head becoming piercing being this far away from the Master. She isn’t sure what has brought on her sudden need to be close to the other Time Lord, but it is becoming increasingly irritating and painful the longer she is away from the murderous and genocidal maniac.
She stays outside for a few more minutes before heading back inside. Hearing noise from the kitchen, she walks in and finds that Jack is making four mugs of tea - three white and one black, and all with sugar.
“But he’s got the TARDIS,” Jack tries to reason. “Maybe the Master went back in time and has been living here for decades.”
“No,” the Doctor rebukes.
“Why not? Worked for me.”
“When he was stealing the TARDIS,” Violet murmurs, sipping her tea. “The only thing I could do was fuse the coordinates when he was taking her. I locked them permanently. He can only travel between the year one hundred trillion and the last place the TARDIS landed. Which is right here, right now.”
Jack looks over at Violet with an impressed expression. “Yeah, but a little leeway?”
“Well, eighteen months, tops. The most he could have been here is eighteen months,” the Doctor informs. “So how has he managed all this? The Master was always sort of hypnotic, but this is on a massive scale.”
“I was going to vote for him,” Martha says quietly.
“Well, it was before I even met you, and I liked him.”
“Me too,” Jack says with a shrug.
The Doctor instantly jumps on them. “Why do you say that? What was his policy? What did he stand for?”
“I don’t know. He always sounded good.” Martha starts tapping the rhythm; the drum beat that echoes in the Master’s head. “Like you could trust him. Just nice. He spoke about. I can’t really remember, but it was good. Just the sound of his voice.”
“That. That tapping, that rhythm. What are you doing?”
“I don’t know. It’s nothing. It’s just, I don’t know.”
A fanfare blares out from the laptop and a pop up says “Saxon Broadcast All Channels” and the Doctor turns on the TV, the Master appearing on the screen with Lucy off to the side. Just seeing him makes the crying in Violet’s head lessen slightly and she sighs out in relief, sagging and taking a seat on Jack, still sipping her tea and watching the screen with her centuries old eyes.
“Our lord and master is speaking to his kingdom,” the Doctor says sarcastically.
“Britain, Britain, Britain,” the Master says. “What extraordinary times we’ve had. Just a few years ago, this world was so small. And then they came, out of the unknown, falling from the skies. You’ve seen it happen.” Film clips appear on the screen as he continues to speak. “Big Ben destroyed. A spaceship over London. All those ghosts and metal men. The Christmas star that came to kill. Time and time again, and the government told you nothing. Well, not me. Not Harold Saxon. Because my purpose here today is to tell you this. Citizens of Great Britain, I have been contacted. A message for humanity, from beyond the stars.”
A small silver sphere appears on the screen and Violet goes rigid, the cup falling from her grasp and shattering on the floor, tea spilling everywhere. “People of the Earth, we bring technology and wisdom and protection. And all we ask in return is your friendship.”
“Ooo, sweet. And this species has identified itself. They are called the Toclafane.”
The Doctor frowns in confusion. “What?”
“And tomorrow morning, they will appear. Not in secret, but to all of you. Diplomatic relations with a new species will begin. Tomorrow, we take our place in the universe. Every man, woman and child. Every teacher and chemist and lorry driver and farmer. Oh, I don’t know, every medical student?”
The Doctor turns to look at Martha, then turns the big old cathode ray tube TV around to see sticks of explosive strapped to the back. With a single cry of “out!” from the ancient man, the Doctor grabs the laptop and runs out into the street, Martha following instantly. Violet stands automatically and Jack makes it a few paces before he realises she isn’t following him, turning and grabbing her wrist before exiting the building just as the first floor of the converted house explodes with a massive fireball smashing the windows.
“All right?” the Doctor asks, looking around at his companions, gaze lingering on Violet longer than necessary.
“Fine, yeah, fine,” Jack assures distractedly, attention trained on Violet. “Look at me, Violet. Hey. Violet, look at me.”
Violet looks at the immortal alien whose death she’s witnessed with dull eyes. “I’m fine, Jacky Boy. Just a little numb and in shock is all.”
“How long has it been since you’ve…?”
“New New York, New Earth, year 5, 000, 000, 053. That was a few months ago.”
“Damn it, little love.” With a glance over at the Time Lord and doctor-in-training, Jack pulls out the familiar injector. He presses it to the inside of Violet’s arm and injects the cold substance into her body before stuffing it back into his trench coat. “You good now?”
The crying in Violet’s head sounds like it’s underwater and her head feels empty again, a sigh leaving her as she drops her head against Jack. “Thanks. I’m good now.”
Martha goes to her Vauxhall Corsa and climbs in the driver’s seat, and the Doctor getting in the front passenger seat. Jack slides into the back with Violet and, by the time the latter closes the door behind her, Martha is already speeding down the road, narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic. The Doctor cries out “corner!” and the dark woman swerves around it, sending Violet tumbling into Jack as the other of her species grips the dashboard tightly.
Minutes later they’re being shot at. Martha turns the car round as bullets slam into it, and Jack yells for her to “move it!” moments before the rear window is shattered as they drive away. The immortal alien orders Martha to ditch the car just as it begins to rain, and then the silly woman decides that it’s time to make another call, much to Violet’s distress as she and Jack head to an underpass. The Doctor and Martha join them moments later, and then the former’s phone rings.
The Master’s voice comes through the speaker. “Doctor. Violet.”
“Master,” the Doctor greets in a tight voice.
“I like it when you use my name.”
“You chose it. Psychiatrist’s field day.”
“As you chose yours. The man who makes people better. How sanctimonious is that?”
“So, Prime Minister, then.”
“I know. It’s good, isn’t it?”
“Who are those creatures?” the Doctor demands. “Because there’s no such thing as the Toclafane. It’s just a made up name, like the Bogeyman.”
“Do you remember all those fairy tales about the Toclafane when we were kids back home.” In an instant, the Master switches gears. “Where is it, Doctor?”
“How can Gallifrey be gone?”
“And the Time Lords?”
“Dead. And the Daleks, more or less,” the Doctor informs. “What happened to you?”
“The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I’d be the perfect warrior for a Time War,” the Master explains. “I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it. I ran. I ran so far. Made myself human so they would never find me, because I was so scared.”
“All of them? But not you, which must mean…”
“I was the only one who could end it. And I tried. I did. I tried everything.”
“What did it feel like, though? Two almighty civilisations burning. Oh, tell me, how did that feel?”
Violet goes rigid beside Jack, and the immortal places a comforting arm around her.
“Stop it!” the Doctor snarls.
“You must have been like God,” the Master continues.
“I’ve been alone ever since. But not anymore. Don’t you see? All we’ve got is each other.”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
Violet can’t help the sharp laugh that bursts free until she claps her hands over her mouth, eyes wide.
“You could stop this right now,” the Doctor pleads. “We could leave this planet. We can fight across the constellations, if that’s what you want, but not on Earth.”
“Why do you say that?”
Violet’s breathing halts at the next words to escape the Master’s mouth.
“The drumming. Can’t you hear it? I thought it would stop, but it never does. Never ever stops. Inside my head, the drumming, Doctor. The constant drumming.”
“I could help you. Please, let me help.”
“It’s everywhere. Listen, listen, listen. Here come the drums. Here come the drums.”
“What have you done? Tell me how you’ve done this,” the Doctor all but cries in exasperation and desperation. “What are those creatures? Tell me!”
“Ooo look. You’re on TV.”
“Stop it. Answer me.”
“No, really. You’re on telly. You and your little band, which, by the way, is ticking every demographic box. So, congratulations on that. Look, there you are.” The Master laughs and Violet glares up at the CCTV camera. “You’re public enemies number one, two, three and four. Oh, and you can tell handsome Jack that I’ve sent his little gang off on a wild goose chase to the Himalayas, so he won’t be getting any help from them.”
Jack goes still beside Violet, and she reaches her arm across her body to squeeze the hand of the arm around her shoulders.
“Now, go on, off you go. Why not start by turning to the right?”
The Doctor looks up the CCTV camera and hangs up the phone before zapping the camera with his Sonic Screwdriver. “He can see us.”