Four: Days of Reckoning II
"Oh no, you don't!" The Master pulled the handbrake, severing the energy flow from the sonic to the console. "End of the universe. Have fun. Bye, bye!" He cut the speakers.
"Doctor, stop him!" Martha yelled. The two humans still fought with the door, and so she changed pleas. "Help us. They're getting in!"
Before the horrified eyes of the Doctor, his beloved TARDIS dematerialized. No…
"Silent enim leges inter arma." (Silent are the laws amongst weapons.) – Cicero
"Theta!" Martha's desperate voice cut through the Doctor's haze. "Theta, help us!"
In a book-perfect about face, he turned towards the door and pushed; then, he grabbed Jack's wrist and opened the flap of his vortex manipulator. "Hold still!" he ordered, beginning to work on it with the sonic. "Don't move! Hold it still!"
"I'm telling you, it's broken. It hasn't worked for years," Jack argued.
"That's because you didn't have me." Pocketing the tool, he put both his and Jack's hand on top of the device. "Martha, grab hold, now!"
With everyone holding on to the manipulator, they vanished, and reappeared on top of the silo mountain, out of view from the futurekind. "Why did you bring us here, and not back to Earth?" Jack cracked his neck and shoulders.
"Ow my head."
"Travelling through the vortex without capsule or Chronos shielding, that's a killer," the Doctor muttered. "I may, just may be able to get us back to the right time, but I'd rather not risk bouncing." Pulling out a small data crystal, he handed it to Jack. "Can you connect your manipulator to this and send a cross-temporal signal?"
"Sure, but who is it going to?" Jack pulled out a small cable from the device and connected it to the all-purpose plug on the back, causing the crystal to glow mauve and the device to beep.
"There are only two working and used TARDISes in existence. One just got stolen…" Whoosh-whoosh-vorp-whoosh, and a door appeared in front of them, this time looking as if it had bought its outfit in the boutique of a (neon green) fly agaric on an LSD trip. "The other is my mother's."
The door opened, and the Professor walked out, an incredulous look on her face. "What in Omega's name are you doing at the Time of Reckoning?!"
"I thought that was a myth, a fairy-tale you tell little children," the Doctor replied sheepishly. "You're telling me it's true?"
"Look up, and really, look. All of you. They say to be careful what you wish for, but…"
They did as she said, and Martha gasped. "I thought I had been seeing things… how can they be still there?"
"The Scorpion and Kasterborous, the Eighteen and the Seven," Jack whispered. "It's like Chantho said. Children of Time and Space."
The Doctor stared into the dark sky. "All these centuries I thought it to be just a story. It says, 'when all matter has burnt out, the Keepers of Time and Space would call all that survived until that day to a special place, and then unmake all that is but what they own, in order for everything to be reborn.' This is…"
"The Time of Reckoning, Operation: Great Reset. Freeze your core systems in a Chronon/creation loop making them stuck into the same year, so they won't be affected. Reverse the echo-remnant of the Big Bang, the first spark – dark energy – and poof, everything matter, including dark matter and singularities evaporates back to energy, ready to condense into new matter. They had 100.005 Trillion years to plan it," the Professor dismissed. "Worked out all the risks, got out all the errors, protected themselves from the stunt. Now. Why in the Nine Hells are you at the Time of Reckoning, and why is your TARDIS gone?"
Not able to help himself, the Doctor pointed at Jack. "He jumped the TARDIS."
Martha couldn't help it. She laughed, causing the men to stare at her. "Sorry, sorry. I'm sorry, but, the image…"
The Professor laughed as well. "Remind me to draw that. But, it explains a few things – your TARDIS is not comfortable with universal facts, is she. Where did you find him anyway?"
"1941, during the London Blitz. Tried to con me with a Chula ambulance full of unprogrammed nanogenes," the younger Time Lord explained. "Ended up as a fact in the year 200.100 due to an encounter with the Bad Wolf entity."
"The Time Vortex consciousness? Which idiot…" She stopped herself, listening to Jack's (lack of) temporal output. "Don't tell me it was her."
"I would be lying. And we have other problems. Big problems. The Master stole my TARDIS."
"Koschei?" The Professor scowled at his expression. "Come in. We can talk in the Vortex."
"I think we should…" Jack jumped back as she glared at him. "Or we can hang in the vortex and think of a proper plan." Old eyes. Really old eyes!
Following her inside, they watched as she launched the TARDIS into the Time Vortex, and started a few scans. "If we are at the Days of Reckoning, there should be a signal to a safe planet protected from the Reset chain reaction."
"The silo we were on top on, the humans in it were going to 'Utopia'," Martha answered. "Could that be it?"
"Utopia?" The Professor chuckled, especially as the holographic HUD showed the results. "Look at that. It's so typical for the Queen of Dreams."
The Doctor and Jack checked the transcript of the modulating message. "A one-hundred stanza song, irresistible even as 'just' a signal," Jack finished. "And I think we haven't introduced ourselves yet. Group Captain Jack Harkness," he smiled.
"The Professor, Lord High Valeyard of the Seven, Head of House Lungbarrow, and his," she waved at the Doctor, "mother. And you can try all you like, I won't even react."
"Don't worry. I am not so callous to hit on a widow who's clearly still grieving." Jack shook his head. He might be a flirt, but he had his ethical standards. Among them was "don't take advantage".
"'Come to Utopia. Witness the New Time.' Kaletiel's song, all across all of reality, calling the survivors. Queen of Dreams, the great siren, the Grand Herald of Creation," the Doctor mused. "What's that signal?"
"I figured that if the Master had hidden here – by the way, how did he do that, use the Chameleon Arch or what? – his TARDIS must be around somewhere, and that's her locator signal," she pointed at the screen, where a sequence of numbers pointed out the presence of another TARDIS. "Locking on, Valeyard Protocol 27 – TARDIS scoop No. 4."
"We're at the end of the universe, an apparent madman got Theta's TARDIS, and you want to scoop up another TARDIS?" Martha gaped.
"And have a cup of tea, some time to think. Unlike the Doctor, I can get us where and when I want to accurately."
"Tea!?" the trio exclaimed. They got no answer – the woman was in full Valeyard mode, hands downright dancing over the console.
"Scoop complete," the TARDIS Avatar finally reported. "I put my little sister into the hangar."
"Molto bene," the Professor smiled, but then scoffed at their flabbergasted faces, pulling the handbrake again. "Il n'existe pas de maux et de malaises si grands qu'une bonne tasse de thé ne peut diminuer." She left the console room.
They followed her in stupor. "Wasn't that Heroux?" Jack asked. "And why didn't we hear it in English?"
"It was," the Doctor confirmed. "And my mother has a tick, she keeps the language circuits off. Keeps her language skills sharp."
"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea," Martha translated as they entered the Professor's library. "You really believe…"
In answer, the Time Lady pointed at the lounging set in the middle – a "Kosmos High" by 'extremis', Belgium. "Sit, and wait. I'll be right back."
Much to their embarrassment, not even ten minutes later, they had proven the Belgian 1900's philosopher very right, and they had relaxed into the set, surrounded by the sweet scent of Illawarra tea. "What now?" Martha wondered, reaching for another sandwich.
"Whatever the Master is planning, it's not good. We need to go after him," the Doctor sighed, munching on a banana-and-cream-cheese sandwich, an arm around Martha.
"I agree, but I suggest you all have a good night's sleep," the Professor snarked lightly. "I doubt we will have much once we start."
Jack nodded grimly. "That's a given."
One and a half relative days later, in a soft whirl of air, a tall black filing cabinet materialised in an alley, standing innocently against the wall of one of the houses. The rolling flap opened, and out came the Doctor, Martha, Jack, and finally, the Professor: It was her TARDIS. "Well, here we are. Do you have everything?" The tall woman was dressed into a knee-long white jacket with black trimmings and a black standing collar with golden and silver embroidery – the uniform of the Lord High Valeyard, as usual with black pants and sonic boots. Closing the rolling flap, she threw on her cream coat to cover the ghostly ensemble.
"I think so," the Doctor nodded.
"All I need I have on me," Jack shrugged.
"Good, because I am going to send her away. I can't risk that idiot getting his filthy halfling hands on my TARDIS," the tall woman flipped her own wrist computer open and pushed a few buttons. Closing the roll flap, she flipped it closed again, and twisted the two outer rings clockwise, causing the vessel to vanish. "Done. He would be suicidal to try to get her now."
"Where did you send her, if I may ask?"
"Antarian Military Archives, Slot 25-45-001. Also known as the Reality Observatory."
The Doctor stared at his mother in utter disbelief. "That-that-that's…"
"Kaletiel's realm, yes. I still am the Lord High Valeyard, technically. Hence, I have access. Now, let's go."
They entered the main road. "Still, at least we made it. Earth, twenty first century by the looks of it. Talk about lucky," Jack grinned.
"That wasn't luck, that was me," the Professor dismissed. "Or do you mean the stunt which put you on top of the silo?"
"That, yes. How come you can land that precisely anyway? He never did that."
"His TARDIS is an observer type. And a bigger cloudcuckoolander than both of us together. It's meant to be manned by six people at once. He's flying alone, turning it into a performance," she shrugged as they sat down around a public sitting area.
"Ah. The moral is, if you're going to get stuck at the end of the universe, get stuck with an ex-Time Agent and his vortex manipulator," Jack tapped the device mounted on his wrist.
"But this Master bloke, he's got the TARDIS. He could be anywhere in time and space," Martha argued.
"No, he's here. Trust us," the Doctor shook his head.
"I tracked the TARDIS here. He's here," the Professor agreed.
"Who is he, anyway? And that voice at the end, that wasn't Yana," Martha frowned.
"If the Master's a Time Lord, then he must have regenerated. I think Chantho shot him," Jack concluded.
"Great. He's changed his face, voice, body, everything. A new man," Martha shuddered. "Then how are we going to find him?"
The two Chronarchs however paid no attention, as for some reason, the homeless man on the other side of the road, was tapping a peculiar four-beat pattern against his mug. Di-di-di-dum, di-di-di-dum. Do you hear that, Janayi?
I do, Theta. There's something wrong here. "We'll know. The moment we see him, we'll know," the Professor answered.
"Time Lords always do. And if it fails on me, it won't fail in her case. He can't break Valeyard training," the Doctor shrugged. "She can identify any Time Lord."
"But hold on. If he could be anyone, we missed the election. But it can't be," Martha looked around, spooked. Everywhere, the ads for Saxon (Vote Saxon) were plastered all over the walls and lamp posts.
The Doctor and the Professor stood up in slow motion, facing the public viewscreen showing the news, Martha and Jack following in tow. "Mister Saxon has returned from the Palace and is greeting the crowd inside Saxon Headquarters," the anchorwoman intoned.
"I said I knew that voice. When he spoke inside the TARDIS. I've heard that voice hundreds of times. I've seen him. We all have. That was the voice of Harold Saxon," Martha exclaimed, a little panic sneaking into her voice, mixed with disbelief.
"That's him," The Professor confirmed, the eyes turning blue in anger.
"He's Prime Minister," The Doctor breathed. Then, he noticed his mother's eyes. "Calm down, Janayi. Your eyes are changing."
"I can't help it. He makes my blood boil." Now, her eyes seemed to flash. "The Master is Prime Minister of the UK."
One of the photographers urged the Master to kiss the woman beside him. "The Master and his wife?" The Doctor was shocked.
The Master stepped away from his wife and in front of the cameras. "This country has been sick. This country needs healing. This country needs medicine. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that what this country really needs right now, is a Doctor, and maybe even a Professor."
The Chronarchs stared at each other, the eyes wide with anger, realization and shock. "Game on. The challenge is issued," the Professor stated grimly.
"It is. And he definitely knows you're here."
They raced into Martha's flat. "Home," the young woman breathed.
"What have you got? Computer, laptop, anything," the Doctor demanded. Then, he noticed Jack trying to call someone on mobile. "Jack, who are you phoning? You can't tell anyone we're here." He put on his glasses, signalling his switch to Action mode.
Of course, Jack was in the middle of calling the Torchwood Hub, hoping to get some help. "Just some friends of mine, but there's no reply." He put his mobile away as Martha handed over her laptop.
"Here you go. Any good?"
"I can show you the Saxon websites. He's been around for ages," the Torchwood leader said, taking the laptop from the pair.
"That's so weird though. It's the day after the election. That's only four days after I met you," Martha pondered.
"That's time travel for you, dear," the Professor dismissed. "Mind you, the last two years of the Time War? To me, that were twenty years. That's how long it took to chase that madman into the White Space."
"We went flying all around the universe while he was here all the time," the Doctor pushed his hand through his hair.
"You going to tell us who he is?" the young woman demanded.
"He's a Time Lord."
"Oh please," the Professor scoffed. "He's an overgrown brat with the emotional range of a two-year-old, and the jealousy of a 60-year-old, throwing an eternal tantrum. I think he's still stinging from getting his ears yelled off by me and his father."
"Yeah, well. But that was 900 years ago," The Doctor conceded, but he noticed that her eyes hadn't changed. "Your eyes are still blue, Janayitrita."
"If there's a person Koschei hates and admires as much as he hates and admires you, it's cloudcuckoolander old me," she sighed. "And you know me. I know what he's capable of, and it gets all my alarms ringing, but he doesn't hold a candle to an insane Rassilon under war for me in the fearful person department."
The Doctor sighed again. Daleks, Cybermen, Demons, Despots, monsters – no problem for the two of them. But a Time Lord, a son of House Oakdown of Gallifrey? And as insane as the Master? In peacetime, this would have warranted an entire squad of the Valeyards to be deployed. With the High Valeyard in charge. And a Death Warrant in place. The only thing as dangerous as a psycho Time Lord he could think of was an angry and psycho Antarian Supremacist, like the madwoman who caused the Celestial Civil War. He could see why the only thing the Professor feared were the Master's plans and actions – he was a very low calibre compared to Rassilon, although he never quite understood why his mother feared nothing more than the Designer and Black Holes. Well, the Master is 14.731 years younger than her.
"What about the rest of it? I mean, who'd call himself the Master? And why does he hate you?" Martha asked.
"More reasons than I can count. And it's not much there is to know about him, lairelai."
"It has more to do with what we represent, and the number of times he got stopped by one of us. All that was good and strong on Gallifrey. Remember what people call me?" the old woman reminded her gently.
"Law of Gallifrey," Martha finished. "Oh god."
"Yeah. Same category – The Doctor."
"Anyway. Jack, show me Saxon please," the Doctor cut off.
Martha turned to her answering machine. The only message on it was from her older sister, Tish. "Martha, where are you? I've got this new job. You won't believe it. It's weird. They just phoned me up out of the blue. I'm working for–" She cut it off. "Oh, like it matters."
Jack showed the two Time Lords first a few ads for the election, which were surprisingly devoid of politics, and then the actual page. "Former Minister of Defence. First came to prominence when he shot down the Racnoss on Christmas Eve." He turned to the Doctor, who sat now on the sofa. "Nice work, by the way."
"Rose further when he stopped a pride of Almatian Tigers. Was that you?" Jack asked the Professor.
"I was lucky. Usually, one hunts these beauties in a group – but these were actually pets. Domesticated," the woman shrugged. "Approached right, they're just big kitties. Watchcats for telepaths. All you need is some catnip."
Martha took control of the laptop. "But he goes back years. He's famous. Everyone knows his story. Look. Cambridge University, Rugby blue. Won the Athletics thing. Wrote a novel, went into business, marriage, everything. He's got a whole life."
These slogans give me the creeps, taruelai. 'Trust me'.
True. They don't make sense from a political point of view, janayi. "Let me have a look. Would you make some tea please?"
"Sure." Jack vanished into the kitchen and made four mugs of tea. "But he's got the TARDIS. Maybe the Master went back in time and has been living here for decades," he called.
"No," the Doctor denied, taking his feet off the desk when Jack returned with the mugs.
"Why not? It worked for me," the ex-Time Agent wondered, remembering his version of the 20th century.
"When he was stealing the TARDIS, the only thing I could do was fuse the coordinates. 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."
"Yeah, but a little leeway?" Jack turned to the other Chronarch, who furrowed her brow in thought.
"Eighteen months. Tops, the most he could have been here is eighteen months," the Time Lady answered finally.
"So how has he managed all this? The Master was always sort of hypnotic, but this is on a massive scale," the Doctor wondered.
"Technology? Use something to project your presence all over the country. I've seen the likes for transmitting disaster alerts on other worlds," the Professor mused.
"Same here," Jack nodded.
"I was going to vote for him," Martha said suddenly.
"Really?" The Doctor was a little astonished.
"Well, it was before I even met you. And I liked him," Martha explained.
"Me too," Jack admitted.
"Why do you say that? What was his policy? What did he stand for?" the Doctor demanded to know.
Jack took a breath, but didn't answer. It seemed odd to him now.
"I don't know. He always sounded good," Martha answered, sounding dreamily, and started tapping that four-beat-pattern. "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."
The Professor narrowed her eyes at the tapping. "What's that?"
"That!" the Doctor pointed at her hands, "That tapping, that rhythm! What are you doing?"
Shocked, Martha stopped, pulling her hands off the sofa. "I don't know. It's nothing. It's just, I don't know."
They were interrupted by the laptop playing a fanfare, announcing a Saxon Broadcast on all channels. The Doctor turned on the TV. "Our lord and master is speaking to his kingdom," he snarked.
"Britain, Britain, Britain," the Master spoke, sitting in the cabinet room where only an hour ago, he'd gassed the whole cabinet. "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. 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." He stopped, and his image was replaced with a video, depicting a glittering metal sphere.
"People of the Earth, we come in peace. We bring great gifts. We bring technology and wisdom and protection. And all we ask in return is your friendship."
Rassilon's insane underpants, that's idiotic. The Watcher-Guardians for Earth would never allow this… the Professor shook her head. First contact is planned for so around 2080, not earlier!
I know that. What is he playing?
"They are called the Toclafane."
"What?!" both Time Lords yelled.
The Master continued. "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?"
They stared at each other in shock. The Doctor turned the old cathode ray tube TV around to see a (rather obvious) bomb strapped to the back. "Out!" Grabbing the laptop, they ran out into the street, seconds before Martha's flat exploded. "Are you alright, lairelai? Jack?"
"Fine, yeah, fine," Jack assured.
He turned to Martha. "Martha?" She was dialling on her mobile. "What are you doing?"
"He knows about me. What about my family?" she asked.
"Don't tell them anything!" the Professor warned. This game is way too dangerous.
"I'll do what I like," she glared. "Mum? Oh my God, you're there. – I'm fine. I'm fine. Mum, has there been anyone asking about me? – I can't. Not now. – Don't be so daft. Since when? – You said you'd never get back with him in a million years. – Dad, what are you doing there?" The way her father spoke rattled her cage. It couldn't be… "Dad? Just say yes or no. Is there someone else there?" The answer Clive Jones gave shook her world. "Dad? What's going on? Dad?" She snapped the phone closed. "We've got to help them!"
"That's exactly what they want. It's a trap!" the Doctor warned to no avail.
Martha went to her car, leaving the others with no choice but following her. "I don't care." They raced to the Joneses' family home. Not caring about the no-phone law, Martha called her sister. "Come on, Tish. Pick up." Listening to Leticia, she was powerless to hear her older sister being dragged off as well. "What's happening? Tish!" Snapping the phone closed, she accused the Doctor, "It's your fault. It's all your fault!"
They arrived just in time to see Francine Jones being stuffed into a van with Clive. "I was helping you! Get off me!" she protested, not unlike a WWII collaborator. "Martha, get out of here! Get out!" she yelled.
The armed police took positions. "Martha, reverse," the Professor ordered. "Get out, now!"
Making a quick three-point-turn, Martha barely managed to avoid the hail of bullets, although they managed to shoot the rear window.
"Move it!" Jack yelled, and they sped away.
"The only place he can go is Planet Earth. Great!" she snarled.
Jack, boss of a rather shady group of misfits was already thinking ahead. "Martha, listen to me. Do as I say. We've got to ditch this car. Pull over. Right now!"
They left the Corsa in an underpass near a shopping centre. "Martha, come on!" the Doctor urged.
It had started to rain, and Martha was on the phone again. "Leo! Oh, thank God. Leo, you got to listen to me. Where are you? – Leo, just listen to me. Don't go home. I'm telling you. Don't phone Mum or Dad or Tish. – You've got to hide. – On my life. You've got to trust me. Go to Boxer's. Stay with him. Don't tell anyone. Just hide."
"Ooo, a nice little game of Hide and Seek, I love that. But I'll find you, Martha Jones," the Master cut in. "Been a long time since we saw each other. Must be, what, one hundred trillion years?"
"Let them go, Saxon. Do you hear me! Let them go!" Martha yelled.
The Doctor took the phone from her and took his mother's hand so they could speak as one. "We're here."
"Doctor," the Master whispered. "And from your tone, it's also… Professor."
"Master," the Doctor acknowledged, barely stopping his mother's sarcasm dripping into his voice.
"I like it when you use my name."
This time, it was clearly the Professor speaking. "You chose it. Psychiatrist's field day."
"As you chose yours. The woman who knows it all and teaches and the learned man who makes people better. How sanctimonious is that?"
Unshaken, the Doctor/Professor entity continued. "So, Prime Minister then?"
"I know. It's good, isn't it?"
"Who are those creatures? Because there's no such thing as the Toclafane. It's just a made up name, like the Bogeyman," the mother-son duet demanded to know. "I used to ban that word from Lungbarrow grounds."
"Do you remember all those fairy tales about the Toclafane when we were kids back home, which you heard only when you came to the Academy, and not earlier?" He paused, switching from the conversational tone to menace. "Where is it, Doctor? Professor."
"Gone," they answered.
"How can Gallifrey be gone?" he hissed.
"And the Time Lords?"
"Dead, or as good as." The Doctor took dominance. "And the Daleks… more or less. What happened to you?"
"The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I'd be the perfect warrior for a Time War." At that, the Professor scoffed. He had been shaking in his boots when he was a kid, and it hadn't changed much when he became an adult at 125 when he faced her – unlike him, she wasn't afraid to die, as had been the other Valeyards and renegade Time Lords. "I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it. I ran," he admitted, just proving the ancient woman's point. "I ran so far. Made myself human so they would never find me, because I was so scared."
"All of them? But not you two, which must mean…"
"I was the only one who could end it. And I tried. I did. I tried everything," the Doctor answered. Only being one entity with his mother stopped him from sounding broken, for her fury at the Master was burning in his mind.
"What did it feel like, though? Two almighty civilisations burning. Oh, tell me, how did that feel?" the sadist whispered.
"Stop it," they demanded.
"You must have been like God."
"That's highly overrated," the Professor cut in.
"How did you survive, you old fossil?" the Master snarled.
"I've not always been The Professor, remember, brat? There are places Time cannot reach," she hissed. "Like the White Space."
"Another crash-landing? How typical."
The Doctor shook his head. "You could stop this right now. 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?" they asked.
"The drumming." He started tapping the four-beat-rhythm. "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."
The Doctor shot his mother a look, who nodded reluctantly. "We could help you. Please, let us help."
"It's everywhere. Listen, listen, listen. Here come the drums." He increased his hypnotic output, tapping louder."Here come the drums." A man leaning against a wall nearby started tapping it as well.
"What have you done?" They walked up to the cab centre in front of them, followed by Martha and Jack. "Tell us how you've done this. What are those creatures? Tell us!"
"Ooo look. You're on TV."
"Stop it. Answer!"
"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 quartet watched in shock a breaking news report, announcing them all as a group of terrorists. It showed images of them from Lazarus Labs in the Doctor's and Martha's case, Jack's was a copy of his Torchwood service file, and the Professor's was probably a copy from the TARDIS data banks. "…Known as the Captain, and finally, this woman known as The Professor. They are known to be armed and extremely dangerous," the BBC reporter intoned.
"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," the Master snickered. "Now, go on, off you go. Why not start by turning to the right?"
Doing as he said, they spotted a CCTV camera. "Camera. He can see us," the Professor realised. She pulled out her infrared sonic screwdriver and fried the camera's circuits.
"Oh, you public menace. Better start running. Go on, run."
The Doctor let the phone sink down, and let his mother go. "He's got control of everything."
"What do we do?" Martha asked, a little dazed.
"Without my group, we've got nowhere to go," Jack glowered.
"Doctor, what do we do?"
"Run, Lungbarrows. Run for your lives!" the Master yelled into his end of the phone call, just before the Doctor cut the connection.
"We run," the Chronarchs concluded, dashing off through the shopping centre, their human companions beside them.
Later, at night, they sat around a table in an abandoned (Torchwood, unknown to the Doctor) warehouse as Martha snuck back in, carrying takeaway food. (How they managed to keep her laptop going was anyone's guess.) How could things go to hell so quickly? While it had been only four days on Earth, to the Doctor and her, it had been nearly a year. And I have no idea how long it has been for the Professor.
The Doctor greeted her with a kiss. "How was it?"
She took a second to take solace in his presence. "I don't think anyone saw me. Anything new?" she asked the three.
Jack held up his wrist strap. "I've got this tuned to government wavelengths so we can follow what Saxon's doing."
"Yeah, I meant about my family," she clarified, turning to the woman at the laptop.
The Professor looked up, accepting the carton of fish and chips. "It still says the Jones family taken in for questioning. Tell you what, though. No mention of Leo."
The other three sat down. "He's not as daft as he looks," Martha smiled, then faltered. "I'm talking about my brother on the run. How did this happen?"
"Nice chips," Jack interrupted.
"I agree," the Doctor smiled, munching his way through the serving.
"So, Doctor, Professor, who is he? How come the ancient society of Time Lords created a psychopath?" Jack demanded.
"And what is he to you? Like a colleague or…"
"He's an insolent brat who doesn't know his place if you ask this old fossil, but that's just me," the Professor grumbled. "Can't believe he's a child of Oakdown House. But it accounts for his careful planning; they're thinkers."
"Well. A friend, at first," the Doctor answered.
Remembering the House name of the mother-son pair, Lungbarrow, Martha bit down the next question, something about brothers (she really had watched too much TV). "What happened?"
"Betrayal. Simple as that. And to Janayitrita – speaking to an elder as an equal and mocking the family bonds," the Time Lord continued.
"Ouch," she winced, remembering the woman's borderline obsessiveness concerning family.
"But all the accounts of Gallifrey made it sound so perfect," Jack frowned.
At that, both Chronarchs sighed. "Well, perfect to look at, maybe," the Professor shrugged. "Corruption comes in many forms – in the case of Gallifrey, it was stagnation and arrogance. And our founder was a total and utter loon. But it was still a look to remember."
"It was. It was beautiful. They used to call it the Shining World of the Seven Systems." The look on the Doctor's face turned into that awfully familiar look Martha had come to know over the last months when he spoke of home: guilt, sorrow and longing at war with each other. "And on the Continent of Wild Endeavour, in the Mountains of Solace and Solitude, there stood the Citadel of the Time Lords, one of the oldest and mightiest races in the universe, looking down on the galaxies below. Sworn never to interfere, only to watch. Children of Gallifrey, taken from their families at the age of eight to enter the Academy. And some say that's when it all began. When he was a child. That's when the Master saw eternity. As a novice, he was taken for initiation. He stood in front of the Untempered Schism. It's a gap in the fabric of reality through which could be seen the whole of the vortex. You stand there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child."
The Professor took over. "There are three possible reactions for an Initiate. In my time, the third reaction didn't occur because the Schism we looked into was natural, maintained together with the Antarians. The Space-Weavers look into Schisms to open their minds to the Planes and Realities. They keep a Mind Saris, a telepathic healer around to protect the young minds. After the dispute, the Council switched to the artificial near the capital, originally mainly used by the Visionaries," she mused. "Looking into the Schism serves three purposes. First, it awakens your time senses – bit like throwing a kid into water so it learns to swim. Just, without the Saris, you can drown. Second, it measures just how sensitive you are to time, and third, your reaction will tell what will become of you in the future."
"Your personality is revealed in that very moment. How you handle things, how you approach a crisis. Those with normal time senses would become inspired, see time in its infinite majesty and be awed. They became the innovators, creators and craftsmen of our people. Those who are highly tuned to time, however, they would feel the weight of responsibility for All of Time and History on their shoulders, and flee in terror. It's really a little much for an eight-year-old, no matter which race," she continued. "It is kind of an irony. Those who run initially become the protectors, healers, fighters… and leaders. Nearly all Lord Presidents of Gallifrey were runners. At least those who were any good." The Professor shook her head. "The Master was neither of these. He was the final category. Some are too small, too weak of hearts and spirit, and will drown in the power and infinity of Time… and go mad, temporarily or completely." She leaned back.
"What about the two of you?"
"I'm a Valeyard, a fricking policewoman, what do you think I did?" the Professor smiled.
"You ran?" Looking from mother to son, Martha understood. "That's what you meant. You're runners."
"Took five senior Academy teachers to catch me," the Doctor smiled sheepishly. "And then I fled to my room in school, embarrassed to bits."
"He thought he'd embarrassed the Name, until I told him that nearly all of us ran. Just a matter of changing the direction when you become an adult." She smiled at the memory. She had come home from a rather difficult case and had wanted to pick up Theta for his traditional trip after a successful viewing, only to be confronted by the embarrassed Academy staff stating that her son had done exactly the same as herself: locking himself into his room, crying.
Both Jack and Martha could see why the young Doctor had been under that kind of misconception – the (adult) Professor was a standard of her own to live up to. "Old family, huh?" Jack remarked.
"Oldest," the Doctor admitted. "Never really stopped running."
Just then, Jack's bracelet beeped. "Encrypted channel with files attached. Don't recognise it."
"Patch it through to the laptop," the Professor ordered.
Cat's out of the bag I suppose, Jack thought. "Since we're telling stories, there's something I haven't told you."
As he connected the Vortex Manipulator with the computer, the characteristic modern logo of Torchwood – the T made of hexagons – popped up on screen. "You work for Torchwood." It was more an accusation from the Doctor than anything else.
"I swear to you, it's different. It's changed. There's only half a dozen of us now," Jack defended.
"Everything Torchwood did, and you're part of it?"
The Professor studied him intently. "He's not just a part of it. You are Torchwood, aren't you?"
"The old regime was destroyed at Canary Wharf. I rebuilt it, I changed it, and when I did that, I did it for you in your honour, Doctor," Jack finished. "Yes. I am Torchwood. How did you guess?"
"An immortal in charge of an organisation, the corresponding person becomes the whole of the organisation in time. Everyone else is technically manpower. What we say, goes, what we believe in, is," the Valeyard answered. "By the time he," she nodded at her son, "was born? Most people couldn't even really remember what the High Office of the Valeyards worked like without me. So stop it Theta."
Jack nodded. It certainly made sense – in fact, he himself had more than once referred to himself as being Torchwood.
She clicked play on the video message. On screen, the reporter Vivien Rook appeared, the face grim. "If I haven't returned to my desk by twenty two hundred, this file will be emailed to Torchwood. Which means if you're watching this, then I'm… Anyway, the Saxon files are attached. But take a look at the Archangel document. That's when it all started. When Harry Saxon became Minister in charge of launching the Archangel Network." The message ended, and Vivien was replaced by a diagram of a satellite network.
"What's the Archangel Network?" the Doctor asked.
"I've got Archangel. Everyone's got it," Martha answered, holding up her mobile.
"It's a mobile phone network. Because look, it's gone worldwide. They've got fifteen satellites in orbit. Even the other networks, they're all carried by Archangel," Jack explained. "It's easier than the earth-bound antennae."
The Doctor shot his mother a look and pulled out his sonic, scanning Martha's phone. "It's in the phones! Oh, I said he was a hypnotist. What did you say, janayi? A projector?"
"A satellite network serves just as well as an amplifier and projector. All you need is an access node," the Time Lady nodded.
"Wait, wait, wait. Hold on," the Doctor continued. Tapping the phone against the table, it started to beep in that blasted four-beat-pattern. "There it is. That rhythm, it's everywhere, ticking away in the subconscious."
"What is it, mind control?" Martha wondered.
"No, no, no, no, no. It's subtler than that. Any strong-willed person would question it; that reporter did for example, and from the look of it, your father too. But contained in that rhythm, in layers of code, 'Vote Saxon. Believe in me.' Whispering to the world. Oh, yes!" he exclaimed in realisation. "That's how he hid himself from me, because I should have sensed there was another Time Lord on Earth. I should have known way back. The signal cancelled him out."
"Low level autosuggestion, combined with telepathic interference," the Professor concentrated. "But that rhythm… why four-sixteenths? Why do I know it…" She slapped her forehead. "Fossilised, rusty old antiquity. Of course I know that beat. You should know it too, Theta… like your own…"
"Like…" His eyes went wide as a hand went to the upper left of his chest, then the upper right. "Like my own heartbeat; the heartbeat of a Gallifreyan Time Lord. One-two-three-four, one-two-three-four."
"But why would he use that?" Jack wondered. "Not exactly a logical choice."
"He always complained about hearing drums in his mind, ever since his initiation," the Doctor remembered. "What if it weren't drums… but his own heartbeat?"
"He always wanted it to stop. But that way, it won't stop until he dies. Permanently," the Professor finished.
Jack looked up. "Any way you can stop it?"
"Not from down here. Not without an access point. But now we know how he's doing it," the Doctor smiled.
"And we can fight back," Martha smiled.
"Hell yes," the Professor smirked. "But before we launch into action mode… I think this is a good time to do some things, Theta."
"Like… oh." The Doctor blushed slightly. "I don't think now is the best time."
I am not going to take your constant evasion now, Theta Sigma. Besides, hope in the face of an adversary of that level is important. Sometimes, you have to run towards something, she hissed into his mind, causing him to wince. The 'tone' she'd used was essentially her Head-of-House mode, which didn't know the meaning of disobedience. (He'd done that once, and it hadn't ended well.)
Jack and Martha observed the staring contest with a mix of amusement and interest. I wonder what this is about.
"Some things you only get to do once. Those things you want to do right and at the perfect time," he protested nonetheless.
"Your father asked 21 times. And misplaced the first."
"Okay, it just… well, it doesn't feel quite right to ask right now."
"If you hadn't crash-landed in the year 100 trillion, would you have asked her? I think not. You've been sitting on that for a month." She glared. "Why is it always you do things only at gunpoint so to speak? It's always been like this. And that's exactly why it's right."
"Well because I don't want to do it at gunpoint," The Doctor admitted. "I want to do it right."
"Just ask her to be allowed to ask. That's all I am asking." She shook her head. "Life's too short, taruelai. And afterwards, you need to shut down your mind, like a Valeyard. Koschei will use whatever is in you against you, and it doesn't matter for him if you have asked or not. But it will strengthen us if you ask now."
"I… I know." Only a day ago, his mother had 'uploaded' the mental training regimen of a Valeyard into his mind. The techniques were frightening, the resulting emotional state being a blank slate, mostly running on cold, ruthless logic, but the mind a fortress during lockdown, impenetrable and undetectable to anyone not a Valeyard, and, most frighteningly, still very much capable of understanding emotion. In his case, it would serve to protect anyone he loved – his mother, Jack, and ultimately, Martha. But it only worked fully if you had something to cling to. His mother and most other Valeyards had used their familial bonds, but… "I…" Frustrated and at war with himself, he ran his hands through his hair again, mussing it. Finally, making a decision, he turned to Martha, rummaging through his pockets. "No more running from myself," he whispered.
Martha turned away from Jack and frowned as she faced the Doctor. The last time she'd seen him that confused had been after Farringham, when he'd confessed that he was in love with her – and terrified of the fact. "Theta? What is it?"
"Let me see your hand," The doctor said holding out his own, closed around something. When she gave him hers, he placed a small object into it. "Can you hold onto this for me? It's very important, and older than me. Also, there is something I need to ask you when this is all over."
The almost-doctor stared down at the thing in utter astonishment. You've got to be kidding me. In her open palm laid a platinum ring, holding a clear silverish jewel with an unusual fire, stronger than even that of a diamond, cut as a round brilliant; a blue, tech-grade tritanium necklace was looped through the ring. But no matter how much she blinked, the ring and chain didn't disappear, sparkling in the firelight instead. "I… You…"
Gently, he closed her fingers around it, and kissed her briefly. "This whole mess has horrible timing. I've had plans for this… But I was just making another of my show-offs out of it. So, here I am, promising that I will ask."
"…where did you get it from?"
"It was my mother's. Funny thing. As you just heard, my father put in an outrageous effort in getting my mother to say yes, courting and pursuing her for 100 years. And the day she finally gives in and says yes…" he grinned into her hair, "he misplaces the ring and thinks he's lost it, and buys a new one. Just after giving her this one, he finds the original in his other robes."
"This was your engagement ring?" Martha whispered, turning the head to the Professor.
The Time Lady nodded slowly and held up her hand. "I still have the first."
"That's not a diamond, is it."
"No. It's a Gallifreyan moissanite, Silicon Carbide, set in platinum. On Gallifrey, natural moissanites were more common than on Earth, and preferred by the Oldblood Houses for their superior brilliance," she explained.
"It's beautiful." She took the long chain and put it over her head.
"That it is," The Doctor agreed, holding her close. "Listen, both of you. The Master is a Time Lord, like us, with the same inherent abilities. And as we said, he hates us with all he is. And he will not hesitate to use anything I care about against me. So, if he finds out just how precious you are to me, and yes, you too, Jack…"
"He'll get at us, just to get at you, and get at you to get at the Professor," Jack finished. "You're going into mental lockdown so he can't get in, not showing affection."
He nodded grimly; then, he tried to disentangle himself from his beloved, only to find she wasn't letting go. "Martha. Lairelai, please. I cannot… he'll follow the emotions back, and get in, please–"
She silenced him with a kiss. "I love you, Theta," she whispered into his ear before stepping back. "But it wouldn't matter if there was no Earth to come back to, so," she put the chain with the ring under her shirt, "until we've dealt with the Master, I'll keep you hidden, close to my heart." Her expression turned to steel. "Now, let's save the world."
"I said it before, I'll say it again. I really like you, Martha," the Professor smirked, turning off the laptop.
Twenty minutes later, the two Time Lords had modified four TARDIS keys and the Professor's Chronos Controller with small pieces from the disassembled laptop and Martha's phone. "Four TARDIS keys. Four pieces of a TARDIS, all with low level perception properties because TARDISes are designed to blend in. Well, sort of," he conceded, thinking about her fried Chameleon Circuit. "But now, the Archangel Network's got a second low level signal. Weld the key to the network and, Martha, look at me. You can see me, yes?"
Martha nodded. "Yep."
He put the string with his key on it around his neck, and immediately, Martha found it difficult to look straight at him. Jack chuckled, knowing the effect all too well from the Hub's 'invisible' lift. "No, I'm here. Look at me," the Doctor waved.
"It's like I know you're there, but I don't want to know," she answered.
The Doctor pulled off the key. "And back again. See? It just shifts your perception a tiny little bit. Doesn't make us invisible, just unnoticed."
"It's like being covered in goo and everyone ignoring you because of that," the Professor explained. "Never doing that again. Had that twice in one week when I was 197." She shuddered.
"What about you?" Jack nodded at the (ex-)Valeyard's wrist device.
"Mine is a little more powerful than that. Observe." Putting it around her right wrist, she touched two of the nodes on the outer ring and twisted it counter-clockwise… and she vanished.
"Where…" Suddenly, something tapped him on the shoulder. "What the hell?"
"And back again," the Professor deactivated the tool. "It's a Perception Blocker. It makes it impossible for your brain to register any awareness of me to form. Your eyes see me, your ears hear me, but it never reaches the actual brain, being considered unimportant. The tech is meant to stop even a Time Lord to perceive me. It's dimmable though. What you saw was maximum output, totally erasing me. It doesn't stop people from perceiving what I am doing I'm afraid. If I break a cup, it will be noticed. I'll dim it down a little for moving around. Combined with the Archangel network, I turn into 'I was never here'." She pocketed the key. "That's reserve before you ask. And as long as you wear yours, we're very much visible to each other."
Leaving the warehouse, they walked into the night, their keys in hand. "Don't run, don't shout. Just keep your voice down. Draw attention to yourself and the spell is broken. Just keep to the shadows," the Doctor advised, stopping.
"Like ghosts," Jack stated.
"Yeah." They put the keys around their necks, and the Professor activated the modified Blocker.
"That's what we are now. Ghosts," she finished.
An hour later, they watched the landing of the US President Winters, and his rather glib exchange with the Master (who had big fun making fun of Winters). In a zipper gesture, he finally said, "So America is completely in charge?"
"Since Britain elected an ass, yes. I'll see you onboard the Valiant," the American snarled, turning away.
Now that's what I call character, the Professor snickered.
Nail on the head, huh.
After Winters had driven away, a Police transporter arrived, and out came the Jones Family – Francine, Clive and Tish, who were greeted rather mockingly by the Master, complete with him cocking a snook. "Oh my god," Martha whispered, standing between the two Lungbarrows.
"Don't move, dear," the Professor warned, putting a hand on her arm.
"I'm going to kill him," Martha hissed.
"What say I use this perception filter to walk up behind him and break his neck?" Jack wondered darkly.
"Now that sounds like the Torchwood I know," the Doctor glared.
"It is a viable plan," the Professor sighed. "But, he's still a Time Lord criminal off planet, which makes it my job. Again. Killing him would be quick and dirty, but I'm not sure it would stop his plans. Capture is preferable."
"It's still a good plan."
"I'm not here to kill him. I'm here to save him," the Doctor argued. "We have to try at least."
"I am not saying anything against that. But if you fail, I'll let Jack's idea have a shot," she warned. "He's too dangerous to run about."
Meanwhile, Jack was checking his vortex manipulator, accessing the Torchwood database. "Aircraft carrier UNSS Valiant. It's a UNIT ship at 58.2 N, 10.02 E."
"How do we get on board?" Martha asked.
"With the Vortex Manipulator, thanks to the revamp," Jack held out his arm. "Coordinates set." All hands on Jack's bracelet, they vanished.
They appeared at dawn in one of the Valiant's engine rooms, hanging onto various barricades. "Oh, that thing is rough," Martha complained.
"I've had worse nights," Jack grinned, cracking his back. "Owh. Welcome to the Valiant."
"It's dawn?" Martha went to one of the portholes. "Hold on, I thought this was a ship. Where's the sea?"
"A ship for the 21st century, protecting the skies of planet Earth," Jack explained. "United Nations Sky Ship Valiant."
"A mobile cloudbase," the Doctor finished, looking out as well. And that's what it was – a flying airport, held high in the skies with a series of massive turbofan jet engines.
The Professor turned away. "The Master is on the top deck of the 'island'. I think it's the bridge," she concentrated, looking up. "And then people wonder why I prefer Sonic the Hedgehog. I feel like playing Super Mario," she muttered. "Only gods and loons love high places."
"We don't have much time. Let's move," Jack shook his head. "And this is a bit more like Metal Gear Solid."
"I prefer Splinter Cell and Tenchu," she answered as they ran.
The Doctor and the Professor stopped suddenly as something scratched at their awareness.
"We've no time for sightseeing," Jack growled.
"No, wait. Shh, shh, shh, shh. Can't you hear it?"
"I'm surprised Jack can't, he's a telepath too. Not trained?" the woman asked.
"Not really. And hear what?"
"Doctor, my family's on board," Martha said, worried.
"Brilliant," the Professor grinned.
"This way!" he called, following the 'sound' through a series of corridors to a storage room on Level 4, the others close on his heels. "Oh, at last!" The Doctor's TARDIS stood amongst a few stacks of boxes against the wall.
"Oh yes!" Martha laughed.
"What's she doing on the Valiant?" Jack wondered. But as they entered, their elation was replaced quickly with horror: The normally green and golden lights of the console room were replaced by a sinister red glow, and the ship's Cloister Bell rang continuously. "What the hell's he done?" The console and the Time Rotor were surrounded by a huge cage, and pipes connected the cage to other parts of the ship.
"Don't touch it!" both Chronarchs warned.
"I'm not going to."
"What's he done though? Sounds like she's sick," Martha frowned. "And why can't I hear her?"
"It can't be," the Doctor whispered.
His mother stood rooted on her spot, the time-related senses working overtime. Her eyes were wide with horror. "No, no, no, no, no, no, it can't be. He didn't do that to her, did he?"
"What is it?"
"He's cannibalised the TARDIS," the Doctor answered.
Jack, Torchwood Institute Director and ex-Time Agent walked up to his old friend, hoping desperately to be wrong what his training and his senses told him. "Is this what I think it is?" He looked up to the edges of the cage.
"It's a paradox machine," the mother-and-son duet confirmed.
The Professor finally moved closer and tapped a simple gauge at the side of the cage. "As soon as this hits red, it activates. At this speed, it'll trigger at Oh-eight-hundred-and-two."
"First contact is at eight, then two minutes later…" Jack worried.
"What's it for? What does a paradox machine do?"
"Usually holding a paradox in place," the Professor answered.
"More important, can you stop it?" Jack demanded. These were the things the Time Agency originally had lived for, putting out small fires to prevent big ones…
The Doctor shook his head, now squatting down beside his mother. "Not till we know what exactly it's doing. Touch the wrong bit, blow up the solar system."
"More if you really screw up. And we don't have time to listen to the circuitry. It looks like he fried the Avatar module too."
"Then we've got to get to the Master," Martha concluded.
"Yeah. How are we going to stop him?"
"Oh, we've got a way," the Doctor dismissed, looking up. "Sorry, didn't we mention it?"
While President Winters held a long-winding speech, the quartet snuck onto the bridge/conference room through a side door. Making their way quietly to the back, Jack whispered, "This plan, you gonna tell us?"
The Doctor held up his TARDIS key. "If I can get this around the Master's neck, cancel out his perception, they'll see him for real. It's just hard to go unnoticed with everyone on red alert. If they stop me, you've got a key."
"Yes, sir," Jack nodded.
"I'll get him," Martha added grimly.
"You try stopping me," the Professor replied, pulling out the backup key.
Just then, Winters was finished with his speech, and four metal spheres the size of a midi-basketball appeared around him, mocking him for not being "The Master". "Where's my Master, pretty please?" the first, a female sphere asked.
"Oh, all right then. It's me. Ta da!" The Master got to his feet, stepping into full view of the cameras. "Sorry, sorry, I have this effect. People just get obsessed. Is it the smile? Is it the aftershave? Is it the capacity to laugh at myself? I don't know. It's crazy."
"Saxon, what are you talking about?" Winters demanded.
Crossing his arms, the psycho turned around to the American. "I'm taking control, Uncle Sam, starting with you." He turned to the first sphere. "Kill him." She didn't hesitate: Extending her weaponry, she fired at him, blasting him to cinders. Chaos ensued, with everyone pushing themselves into the corners, the Master applauding amidst of it, laughing. "Guards!" he called, causing the guards to point their weapons at the civilians around. Lucy Saxon approached her husband from the side slowly while he jumped up the stairs, facing the cameras. "Now then, peoples of the Earth. Please attend carefully."
Now or never. The Doctor took off his key and ran forward, only to be stopped a metre before his target by (cliché, anyone?) two men in black. "Stop him!" They had quite some trouble with him, no surprise if you thought about it… But they had him on his knees. Whoooosh. The Professor stormed forward, boots accelerating her already. "And the dust cloud!" He took a gun from one of the guards and pointed at the Doctor. "Forget it, fossil! I don't think you can take the last of your precious bonds snapping!"
A screeching sound, like metal on metal, was the answer as the Valeyard skidded to a halt, glaring as the guards surrounded her. Deactivating the perception blocker, her face was pure murder. "Psycho!" Her sonic boots had left an impressive scratch mark on the floor.
"Is that really necessary!" the Doctor hissed.
"I am not stupid enough to let the one person capable of reducing five different Lord Presidents to tears with mere glaring and a few choice words run around free." He handed back the gun. "We meet at last, Doctor, Professor. Oh, ho. I love saying that," he laughed.
"Stop it! Stop it now!" the older man yelled.
"A boy with the biggest inferiority complex this side of the Celestial Civil War, how pathetic is that? Can't you see it's all pointless now?!" the Professor thundered, now surrounded by a group of guards.
"The Most Exalted and Most Ancient Great House of Lungbarrow, once boasting the highest number of loomed cousins per generation and the highest overall member number of an astounding 230 people, leading the Prydonian Chapter together with House Scaltata, reduced to a fossilised abomination and a cloudcuckoolander. What of your familial bonds is left?" he mocked. "As if a perception filter is going to work on me. And look, it's the girlie and the freak. Although, I'm not sure which one's which." He looked back at the Doctor. "Though it makes sense. You do love finding lost and pathetic creatures to keep around and make you feel better about yourself, don't you Doctor."
Ticked, Jack ran forward, his key in hand, and was promptly shot by the Master with a beam weapon. He fell onto his back, dead, Martha running over immediately.
"Laser screwdriver. Who'd have sonic and infrared sonic? And the good thing is, he's not dead for long. I get to kill him again!" the maniac grinned.
"Master, just calm down. Just look at what you're doing. Just stop. If you could see yourself," the Doctor pleaded.
"Why can't you just give up?" the Professor asked. Her memory was long – it was true he ticked her off, but she also remembered the hopeful teen who had been put off and saddened by her and her family's hospitality and warmth. "Why can't you let it go?"
The Master sighed, and shot the cameras a look. " Oh, do excuse me. Little bit of personal business. Back in a minute." He turned to the guards. "Let them go."
The guards threw them to the floor. "It's that sound. The sound in your head. What if we could help?" the Doctor stated.
"Oh, how to shut him up? I know. Memory Lane." He sat down in front of them. "Professor Lazarus. Remember him and his genetic manipulation device? What, did you think that little Tish got that job merely by coincidence? I've been laying traps for you all this time. And if I can concentrate all that Lazarus technology into one little screwdriver? But, ooh, if I only had the Doctor's biological code. Oh, wait a minute, I do!" He stood up and opened a big metal briefcase standing on the side-table, revealing Jack's tank with the Doctor's hand. "I've got his hand! And if Lazarus made himself younger, what if I reverse it? Another hundred years?" Before they could react in any form, he aimed the tool/weapon at the Doctor, causing him to scream and convulse in agony as every cell in his body was aged by force; four guards held the Professor on her knees so she wouldn't interfere.
Unnoticed, Jack woke from his death, and quietly removed his vortex manipulator, handing it to Martha. "Teleport."
"We can't stop him, not now. Get out of here. Get out," he hissed.
Just then, the Master stopped, and the Doctor fell to the floor again, right in front of his mother, looking at least 100 years old. "Doctor? I've got you," Martha whispered soothingly.
Horrified, the Professor shot forward, the hands glowing with golden Artron energy. "Theta – Let me go, you punk!" Before she could touch her son to reverse the damage however, the guards had grabbed her again, and the Master locked a metal ring around the Time Lady's neck, causing the glow to vanish. "What in Omega's name did you do to me?"
"Artron Energy Transfer. A lost ability of the Golden Age of Gallifrey, similar to the healing touch of an Antarian. And you, a living relic of that time, who has never needed to regenerate in her nearly 16.000 years of life before, are running over with that energy, and knowledge no normal Time Lord can have these days. Lady Lungbarrow," he hissed. "So, I blocked it. It's useless to anyone but yourself now. And don't try to pry that thing off with your screwdriver – you'd lose your head, and that would make even you regenerate."
"You fricking halfling should have never survived your looming. Son of the most vain and lazy slut I ever had the misfortune to meet, not even considering bearing you. What must your cousins have thought of you? No, she insisted to use the loom although your father was fertile and a capable geneticist, halfling," she spat, causing him to flinch. In retaliation, he slapped her into the face. "You still can't take it, can you. The embarrassment of his House, not being born, Koschei," she snarled.
"This is hardly the point, fossil. Now, to you, Miss Jones." The fury on his face was replaced by the earlier glee. "Ah, she's a would-be doctor. But tonight, Martha Jones, we've flown them in, all the way from prison!" he yelled, waving at the main door.
Martha got up in shock, seeing her family being led in by the guards. "Mum…"
Francine's face was running with tears of regret. "I'm sorry." Martha turned away and took the Doctor's arm again.
Sensing one last chance, the Professor used the interruption to mount the last weapon she still had in her arsenal – her mind – and began a mental assault on the Master, the lethal version of mindbending. "Try this!"
Caught by surprise, the Master staggered back under the force which reminded of the woman's most menacing epitaph: The Raging Sea. Some of the attacks contained images which didn't even have names, horrific memories from 15.400 years of Valeyard service, several wars, and knowledge often far beyond anything he knew, a crushing tsunami of pure animosity. "You…" Knowing that he wouldn't survive one-on-one, he aimed his counterattack not at her or the Doctor.
Noticing the change in the duel – he didn't even try to defend himself properly, the shield was paper-thin – the Professor looked at the surroundings in alarm. He's attacking the Joneses! She switched to defence, shielding the minds of the humans around her. But doing so, she spread herself thin, up to the point she couldn't cause damage any longer. "Bastard." She ceased the attack, and, to her relief, he stopped his assault on the humans.
"All fair in love and war, Professor. Tsk, tsk, tsk. You nearly had me there. But that's the beauty of it. You're predictable. A Valeyard, a Head of House. You could have utterly destroyed me, forever, even if I regenerated, if only you wouldn't protect all these pesky stupid apes," he snickered. "The strongest psychic to be born in 200.000 years on all of Gallifrey, an heiress to the powers of the ancient Pythia, only matched by her sister, her brother and her sons, and she cannot even defeat a Newblood halfling, choosing to defend a bunch of nothings instead."
Breathing heavily, the Doctor shook his head at his mother. "Enough, Janayitritariene." He glared at the Master. "The Toclafane. What are they?" The Master knelt down in front of him, feigning having problems to understand him. "Who are they?"
"Doctor, if I told you the truth, your hearts would break," the Oakdown answered, putting his hand to his chest.
Taking the prompt, the Time Lady scanned one of the spheres with telepathy, causing her to flinch. The Master laughed at her reaction. "What did you do to them?! What did you do to them?!" she thundered. "You ruin everything you touch. What did you do to them?!"
"Is it time? Is it ready? – Is the machine singing?" two of the Toclafane spheres demanded.
"Two minutes past." In a theatrical gesture, he looked at his watch, and then, he climbed the stairs to face the camera again. "So, Earthlings. Basically, err, end of the world. Here. Come. The Drums!" In an outrageous demonstration of his usual insipidity, the Master played 'Voodoo Child' over the intercom in the very moment the Paradox machine activated. A red tear split the sky, and myriads – six billion, according to the Master – of the floating metal spheres descended from the sky, down to the great population centres, and, on his orders, they slaughtered 670 million people – one tenth of the total population of Earth.
Unnoticed from the Master, Martha slipped out of view of the cameras, a lone tear running down her face, and, with one last look to her family, Jack and the two Lungbarrows, she activated the Vortex Manipulator, a black fob watch around her neck… and vanished.
The Master didn't really care. Instead, he gestured towards the two other Chronarchs to come up to him, which the Professor did grudgingly, gently carrying her son up to the window. "What is it with you and mass-murder?"
"A speechless Lungbarrow, I like that." Both The Master and Lucy Saxon smirked at the beaten pair. "And so it came to pass that the human race fell, and the Earth was no more. And I looked down upon my new dominion as Master of all, and I thought it," he paused, "good."
Martha crash-landed on the hills of Hampstead Heath, watching London ablaze. "I'm coming back," she vowed.
TBC in Days of Reckoning III