Doctor Who: Life with Theta

Angels with Dirty Faces, Redux

“He doesn’t know us,” murmured the Solian on the right, the one who was missing the arm.

“Indeed. That would seem to be the case.”

The Solian on the left was quite different, pale and thin and silver-eyed like a piece of exquisite driftwood on an equally exquisite beach. But the Old One had slept too long without flesh. He stood on the soft green stuff called grass and scrubbed a softly tapered limb through the messy brown mass atop what must have been his head and swayed.

“You need sustenance, my Lord. The time you have spent asleep has surely taxed you. However, my siblings hunger mindlessly for this world. Perhaps you could... dissuade them by... satisfying your own hunger?” Tliuk whispered the words at the Old One’s shoulder like a mantra.

Snapping claws together then, the Chronovore fashioned a white cloth from the ethers and gently draped the man’s bare skin.

“There now, Master. It is not the best solution, and before you awoke you would have been most vehemently against the idea. But you also know it is the only way.”

Silver-blue eyes watched this, noting stance, depression of feet, the fall of shoulder. Then Aloysius Pendergast mentioned this observation to Captain Jack. The Captain, too, had been watching.

“Jack. The Chronovore seems to be worried the Doctor may consider breaking fast with us.”

Pendergast was careful to speak only within the Captain’s mind, being a man somewhat less inhibited by the Doctor’s brand of absolute-with-conditions pacifism. Yet, much like The Doctor he knew when to fire a gun, and had done so, many times, another trait not quite dissimilar to those of the man Jack had come to love. His tone was not without amusement, but the situation was still inconceivably grave, a fact the albino FBI agent never failed to make clear with his lack of expression.

“Tliuk,” said Pendergast, not bothering to meet the creature’s alabaster gaze, “... the Doctor has just given birth to triplets within the Ship. And, he has stated before that we humans were made in the image of the Time Lords. So, I think it wise to try a little experiment. What do you believe might happen if we brought the newborns out here, where he could hear their cries? As I recall, human males can lactate given the proper instinctual incentive. If we were to-”

“I was aware of many things before your sun was golden, Solian Child.”

Tliuk gave a smooth little smile, showing multitudes of fangs as he waved down the agent with a whitewashed wrist.

“I have no wish to see your world destroyed at the jaws of my less discerning brethren, just as I know my Lord would not have, when he was still only a Time Lord. Just as I have faith he yet will not. Do as thou wilt, for I would see my Lord regain his faculty.”

The strangeness of thick sound interrupted everything then, and the TARDIS doors slipped open once, just long enough to let a slim man through with a hostage.

“Having a problem with arousal, Captain?” the Master quipped, striding up to Jack with one hand stuck fast in Jenny’s hair.

“Is that really necessary?” Aloysius said with a cringe set to his jaw. Jack knew he hadn’t seen that look on anyone but The Doctor. He would have remembered such a grimly determined face. If... when they got out of this, the agent was going to meet his team. Aloysius Pendergast was better than any of them.

“Oh, are you drooling over the bureau suit, Captain Harkness? How posh slut of you. One would guess you were already undressing him with your eyes, but let’s not be vulgar.”

The renegade Time Lord flourished a wrist, swaying the bones of his fingers like a cat dangling a bird from his mouth as he looked the only other Time Lord present up and down and up again, the thin smile crusting his lips dry and thick as old blood. “Why, Theta... look who I’ve got. Considerably more than a jar of dirt, I think. Although, that was a brilliant touch with the hand in the jar. Very Middle Victorian Cabinet Chic. Then again,” He roughed up the girl’s honey hair, digging his fingers into her scalp and taking in her scent with the heavy thirst of the starving. “She smells like Gallifrey, and she’s not half bad with her tongue. I wonder if she does windows?”

The Master’s hands crept across Jenny’s mouth and forced it, pinching her tongue between two slim fingers. Then he waggled it like a toy on a string at the unmoving Time Lord become Old One who once had been the Doctor, grinning as a child should grin when presented with the asked-for gift on naming day.

“How did you do it? How did you lift the Pythia’s curse? I want to know! You’ve got four children! Tell me how or she dies! Then I start the adoption process.”

“Pythia?” a soft murmur from the Old One. Tliuk ignored The Master and came to his Lord, a leaf in silks against the winds that bore the Chrononivorous horde as countless of the Time-hungry creatures hovered above them, eager to feed. Soon they would descend...

The Master followed a distant screech of frenzy upward and saw them, staying above the fray like vengeful angels.

“Well. How nice of you to invite friends, Doctor.”

He met the silver eyes of one beast, thrusting his hand out toward the Old One in gesture.

“I’m the oldest one here, but do eat him first. He’s far more annoying!”

“If the situation weren’t so grave, I would almost find it entertaining. What say you, Jack?”

Aloysius mused, pursing his fingers in a pyramid across his pelvis.

Jack allowed himself a slight grin, feeling some of the cold leave his bones at the possibility of action.

“Have something in mind?”

“I broke out of prison once. A remote operation set up months in advance by two dear friends of mine.”

“It must have been hard on you. Did the guards find out? Did the prisoners?”

“One almost did. I had to incapacitate him. And telling the prisoners was the key to begin with. But, I was forced to kill an inmate.”

Aloysius turned and stared at the Master and his silent captive.

“I would rather not have to do that again. However... ”

This was all Jack needed, and he gave a nod to the other man, a signal that he understood the game the agent was playing.

“It’s all right, Agent. We all have done what we had to. Him most of all, and I’m no exception either. I’m also a lot older than first glance would tell you.”

Jack kept talking, straining hard to distract the Master with words while he spoke to Tliuk with what limited telepathic talent he possessed.

“Don’t kill this man, Tliuk. Your Lord may not forgive you. We will free his daughter in secret from inside the Ship. She will want to fight, and is more than capable. Help her.”

He left the Chronovore with that thought as they both rushed back inside the TARDIS.

“Oh, they left you out here to rot. How’s that for complacency? I always said they were damnable little rats. Never could see why you stuck around with monkeys. Watching Ushas squirm was far more amusing. Wasn’t it, Jenny girl?”

Another blood-stultifying pinch, delivered to her right cheek. This was good, she thought. He hadn’t noticed yet. The Temporal Grace Shield had started fading almost as soon as the two men had re-entered the TARDIS.

But soon, the sound of rustling reached every ear, and footsteps were heard. Just two, two quiet footsteps on soft grass, squelching wetly in the thick sludge of mud and rain-damp, rocky ground. Someone rising to their feet. Then the Old One turned to his acolyte and said three words. Only three little words, but even before they were spoken the Master could feel powers shifting, changing, Timelines roiling with the weight of the newly-awakened Power before him. And he knew fear at these words, which echoed thus, in chorus upon chorus, layer and layer and layer of music so clear. These were the patterns that had once broken worlds like glass. A relic of the Before Time what had pierced the Universe. Three words like distant bells of war.

“I will feed.”

Then, the Ancient who once had been a Time Lord spun upright like a backwards top and lunged for The Master’s chest.


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