“How would you like it if I used one of these on them?”
The Questioner held up his glowing implement, waving it in every sooty face. It was ever so amusing how they kept begging him to let them go. Begging. Him. Ah yes, they’d all done it, would do it, sooner or later, some with the usual boring array of tentacles, some a bit more exotic with fluid filled sacs that filtered air and produced vibrations through that mechanism. Some even looked remotely human... but he couldn’t see how he could compare himself to the stinking apes, they were little more than monkeys, spilling forth like rats from their filthy, sprawling cities. Those cities, filled with the dust of monkeys past, were part of what had choked the life out of a once amusing pastime of his. He took no pleasure in it now, though he still felt drawn to go through the motions for the benefit of his newest guest. One had to keep up appearances when one was demonstrating one’s schedule to such a good acquaintance as this. It just wouldn’t do to bore his old friend to death, even if the friend was an insufferable codger. Well, he was older, still. Of course he didn’t look it, but no gentleman worth his salt could afford to be seen in public without his... cravat. Or his caveat, for that matter. Hah. He snorted loudly. He had never been a gentleman. Never a gentleman, always a cad. A cad with a honey tongue cast in fine Argentium.
“It doesn’t matter what you do to them, you know... ” rasped the visitor after releasing a faint moan, sounding as though he had nearly choked somewhat recently on something fairly unpalatable, as there was a certain whitening around his deep brown eyes, while a grand, if finite, amount of blood stained his face and shirt like so much bright wax on a sealed missive.
“So, then! I see you’ve become a cannibal since last we met! You’re certainly going down in the world. But oh, I know what you’re thinking.”
He swept forward in a wave of retaliatory glee he could no longer feel, and clutched his friend by the chin, swiveling both their heads and shoulders toward the bodies what dangled from the shipping hooks above them.
“You’re thinking what did I do to deserve this? Well look in the mirror, my friend! What’s sad is that you honestly thought you’d won! You! The ape loving hypocrite whose first initiation into the wild world of blood and gore was the slippery slope of adolescent pedocide! How fitting that we should be so close now. I mean, we are old friends, after all!”
The visitor shook his head in sadness. This was no way to end it, but it had to be done. No more killing. No more but one more death need be on his conscience to-day. Nothing left but to end it, to murder what he had begun. So he took off his shirt, his soft good cotton shirt, and let it drip from his fingers to the floor. It made a smear on the dirty concrete, near his bare and elegant toes. His long hands, pale and smooth from prolonged exposure to the waters of the bay, found his near hairless chest and flattened gingerly against the heart there, his left one.
“Oh, ho ho! Is that what you’re going to do? Do you really think I’ll let you?”
Rightly so, old friend. I mean to release you from your suffering.”
Theta Sigma reached into his pocket, drawing a glinting round unto the dim light of the warehouse.
“I am sorry,” he said, his lips nearly bruising with the words as he stared up at the two living, thinking, still breathing creatures dangling from the filthy, long discarded meat hooks. Still, as with so many times before, he knew he could not say the words enough, so he simply uttered the rest of the line, licking the edges of his mouth as they dried like grapes in the sun with the effort of holding back everything he kept close for fear of disclosure.
“I am so sorry, for all of you. Koschei has done terrible things in his long life, but I am the true reason for his madness. Please. I ask that you allow me to free you from this place, from this pain. Here, I will let you down.”
Koschei, or rather he who was the Master, smiled at his old friend.
“Ah, this won’t work. I have you now. You’re finally on my side of the fence, tasting each wretched, seething moment of my own personal Hell. Happy tormenting! By the way, where’s that fire haired infant you were leading around with the American? She has something I need.”
“And I don’t?”
Theta Sigma held up a coin, one of hers.
“You know, these have decidedly pre Solian markings, yes? Course I imagine that’s why you wanted them so badly. They look remotely like Old High Gallifreyan, once they’re properly shined up. Now, Koschei, you really have to rethink your hoarding habits. It could get quite messy, all stuffed up in a Grandfather Clock like a held sneeze. Rather like an old dragonne, one shouldn’t wonder. Don’t you? Or shall I call you Smaug?”
“What, wonder why you continue to annoy me? No. Keep on subject, you senile old git. My TT capsule works just fine, thank you, actually no thanks to you, now that we’re about it. What are you babbling at?”
“If she works just fine, where is she?”
Theta didn’t have to smirk as he crossed to the first hook and undid the knots, then levered the unconscious alien to the ground. Koschei was already fuming. Really, the older man was far too easy. Besides, he was in no mood to show off. He just wanted to get out, and quickly, before...
“What are you doing? You can’t do that! They’re mine! I hired them, not you. Doctor, you-”
But the Master did nothing as The Doctor stood after checking the first alien’s vitals and then moved to free the second.
“You can’t hinder me anymore, Koschei. I am my own man. And I have the only access to these you shall ever see.”
Theta could see his old friend cringe bodily, shrieking away from him as the glint from the offending metal of the coin he was thumbing danced over everything in the room.
“... if you let me see them, Doctor, I could translate! Help you unlock their mysteries! I know you want to!”
“Ha. Not a chance, Koschei. I was Lord President once, absconded out of boredom and abdicated my post, remember? Besides, I’m a genius. I’ve already done it.”
The Master sighed, audibly, scaring more than a few birds from the relative quiet of the warehouse’s upper covering. “Score one for the monkey loving ingrate! So what does it say? Eat at Pythia’s?”
“Very funny, Koschei. Actually you weren’t so off the mark, as it were. It’s a recipe for a spell, of sorts.”
Theta grinned at the Master like a cheeky 30’s moll, and the man just stared back at him, as though someone had relieved him of his manhood and forgotten to pay the bill.
“Of sorts! Bollocks. I thought you decided not to believe in that ridiculous gobbledygook, Theta. What’s come over you? Have you been at the ginger beer again?”
Oh good. I’ve got him talking. Maybe he won’t notice it so quickly when I do it, then.
“Koschei. I want you to know something.”
The Doctor took his other hand out of his pocket and produced a bag that clinked. He held up the coin he was playing with then, and flipped it over and over in his fingers, letting the gleam of light again play across The Master’s face.
Koschei could feel it; the temporal signature of those coins, felt it as he felt Theta’s presence before him, looming like a pall.
“What are you doing, Theta? Can’t we talk about this? I don’t want to end up another Brother of Mine in one of your mirrors!”
Theta looked at his old friend sadly.
“Oh, Koschei. You’re a shadow of your old self -quite literally- and you don’t even know it. I would have saved you if you’d let me, but now, I ‘m not sure I can. I’ll just use this and contain you until I find a way to dampen those drums of yo-”
The Master made a flurry of mad grabs for the single glinting coin then, but the Doctor slipped away from him, always twisting just out of his reach.
“It’s time, Koschei,” Theta Sigma whispered softly, rubbing a thumb across the burnished gold of the raised symbols etched across the coin.
Then the two humans, the warehouse, everything near them, even the docks outside... all was caught up in the flare of bright gold that echoed through the Berlin skyline like a rocket to the moon.