Doctor Who: Life with Theta

Death of a Salesman

The TARDIS had taken them back in Time, away from the Chronovores as they feasted on Tliuk’s willing body, away from the ravaged Earth, away from everything.

Koschei could almost smell the temporal shifts as they floated in the void, waiting for the slight <pop> that would signify their destination. With every hand at the controls save one, the trip almost seemed enjoyable. Almost. That little word... so full of meaning.

Keeping a hand on the brake-lever, he turned to look down the hallway where his friend floated in slumber within a newly rendered Zero Room, far from sympathetic eyes. He had programmed the new specs himself, none of that nonsense about the Doctor having jettisoned the last Zero Room during one of their more memorable confrontations at Castrovalva. He’d made sure Theta was more than comfortable. The man was affected. Koschei was almost surprised at how much seeing the Doctor practically near death made him quaver. Captain Harkness had wisely stayed away from them, letting the Master take the odd turn at caring and sharing. There were the triplets to attend to, after all. It wouldn’t be good form in front of the others if Captain Jack broke down, would it? Despite himself, he smiled, relishing the notion of domesticity as if rekindling an old love. The little idiots were probably concocting some scheme to spy on him, hoping to catch him mutilating Theta or some such nonsense. What use had he for destruction now? The Old One had taken everything from him, his anger, his sorrow, his reason for living. The madness, yes. That insanity of song, the constant drone of percussive bleating that had tormented him since he was nine years old. Gone. Lost in the embrace of teeth on flesh. Had Theta known what would happen if he stepped out of those double blue doors? Had he known how the perfect blue shooter in his bag of marbles would break? What was left of the Earth now was little more than a mass of empty space. He had said such when one of the girl scouts had asked. The albino, though... that one knew better than to open his mouth. That one had fangs, and a smidgeon of mental presence. Koschei could smell Theta’s influence on the man. One of his pet projects, no doubt. The Doctor had always been a rather fantastic hand when it came to sticking his long thumbs in other peoples’ pies. What was amazing about it was that he’d always pulled out a plum, or tried to. Why he’d sought to annihilate Theta every waking moment for close to a century was beyond him now, like a heavy veil of snow had iced over the landscape of his transgressions. With rigid calm, he forced himself not to wonder how long the storm of white would last as he checked this monitor, that readout, adjusted this array, kicked that sticky lever with far too much savour. He was far too busy for dreams today. He had a universe to save. But more importantly, he had a chance to save Theta. The more exquisite opportunity.

“Master?” Jenny said, tapping him on the shoulder after popping up from nowhere.

The TARDIS must have noticed he’d been off his feed and moved the one person who could handle him in for the kill. Brilliant timing they had, the old girl and the young beauty both. But then, they both loved the Doctor. Was there anyone the idiot hadn’t rubbed off on? “Want a pill pack?”

She held up a pale blue packet of nutrient capsules. “The TARDIS knows you haven’t eaten.”

“Well I don’t know what she’s been feeding you but she’s lying. Gallifreyans don’t need to eat but once every few days. Some every few weeks. So shift and leave me to my work. I need to discover the point at which the Chronovores entered this timeline, drag them back through and then plug the hole, with putty or something. Omega may have been a halfways decent genius, but I’m better, of course. The only other difference being that he’s still insane. Well, if Theta were with us he’d say differently, but he’s not quite up to a good row at the moment, so shoo.”

He slung a hand at her, waving long fingers in her face in a futile attempt to make her move.

“Well? What’s keeping you, Jenny girl?”

“You’re planning a suicide mission to the TimeStation, aren’t you?”

Where in the name of Skaro had that come from? Maybe she did take after that Messaline gene splicer after all. Wizard.

“Nonsense. I suppose you’re not going to leave until I force down one of those tasteless sustenance tabs. Well, let’s have it, then.”

He reached for the pack, but moved his fingers at the last second, clamping them to her temples, and with a hard mental shove, drove her into a coma that would last until he’d finished his work.

“Sorry, love,” he murmured, settling her gently on the white flooring of the room, the secondary console room.

He’d had that rebuilt too, in secret preparation for just this moment.

“This time I can’t afford to be saved. I’ve drugged all your little friends, by the way. Monkeys in a barrel, and what. But don’t fret. All of you will remember, because you were here. But I won’t. Because I won’t have been anywhere. So next time you see me, no more mister nice.”

His voice was much too soft for his liking, but she was nearly asleep. One feather touch on her thoughts, and he knew she had heard and registered every word. Soon the cloister bell was ringing like a clarion in his ears, and he smiled. It was time for him to make history. Again. A song came to mind, as he stepped out the double doors onto the main control room of the module at the exact center of the Milky Way, some ten minutes before it became so bloody active.

"Hair cut - simply terrible.

Neck tie - the worst.

Bearing - just unbearable.

What to tackle first?

Still, you've got possibilities,

Though you're horribly square.

I see possibilities;

Underneath there's something there... "

Then the doors closed behind him, and the TARDIS was gone.

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