Hearts

Chapter 12

Kate awoke to pitch darkness and cold. She stretched slowly, finding her muscles stiff from hours of lying on the cold metal floor. She stood and slowly felt around her prison. She could reach up and touch the ceiling, reach out a hand and find the wall. It was basically a solid metal box, six feet by six feet on all sides. Enough so she could stand and walk a step or two, but not really pace. There was a small air vent on the ceiling, and a drain on the floor. There was no sound, save that which she made herself.

So it was to be isolation and sensory deprivation then. Good, that was a game that would take time, which meant the Master thought he had time. He must not realize the free members of Torchwood had probably already alerted UNIT and the rest of the world of the threat. At least she hoped there were free members of Torchwood, surely the Master would have used Jack's team against him if he had captured any of them.

Hopefully this Doctor fellow everyone kept talking about would hurry up and show. It sounded like he could defeat the Master. Barring that, the Earth and its protectors would have to save themselves. Trapped as she was, Kate's main priority was keeping the Master from using her to get into the TARDIS.

She could deal with this situation. It might drive a human a bit crazy, but she was a Time Lord and could withdraw into her own mind. She could live in her memories in a way a short-lived mortal could not.

She sat down and leaned against the wall. She was shivering now. It really was cold. She was thirsty, hungry too. She forced herself to ignore the needs of her body. She closed her eyes and escaped the unnatural darkness around her to find the quiet within herself. There was a presence waiting for her.

Kate clawed at her own head in panic. The Master wasn't in the cell with her, but she could sense him in her head. He must have found a way in while she was unconscious. This time he had shifted in carefully, not doing any damage, but he was there like a slow spreading poison.

She tried to throw him out, but he was too interwoven within her psyche. She couldn't disentangle him without destroying her own mind. The Master's presence wasn't powerful enough to influence or control her, but it let him shift through her memories.

She could feel him tugging one forward from where it was securely suppressed, bringing it to the front of her mind.

She was walking in the first city she came to after leaving home. It was late and cold. Rain drizzled lightly against the new blue coat she had bought with forged currency. It was a bit too big for her, but she didn't care; it was warm, and it reminded her faintly of Jack. She had not yet given up the hope that Torchwood was looking for her, and would find a way to bring her home.

She was so lost in her thoughts she almost didn't notice the faint sound of footsteps following her. A month earlier she might have thought nothing of it, but time in this city had taught her caution. She tried speeding up her step and listened; the steps sped up. She slowed for a moment; the steps slowed.

She considered running, but where would she go? She couldn't lead this person back to the TARDIS, and most streets were abandoned at night. She slipped her hand into her coat pocket and gripped a can of mace she had made a few days before. She turned and faced the approaching footsteps. The shadow of a man paused about a block away.

Kate called out to him," I know you're following me and I'm not scared. I'm armed and not afraid to shoot. Just turn around and walk away, and this does not have to get ugly." She spoke with far more bravado then she felt, something she had always been good at.

The figure didn't move. "I'm warning you!" she snapped, holding her ground. Suddenly a cold blast stuck her from the side, sending static pain through her nervous system. Kate fell to the ground fighting for consciousness. She could just make out a woman with a laser stepping from an alley, before her eyes closed.

She awoke to find her hands and feet bound, a cold metal floor beneath her cheek. She heard voices and kept her eyes closed.

"Where do you think we'll get the most for her, the Danubian slave market maybe?" said a man's gruff voice.

"Not there. She's too rare for that. I think she's the last of her species, whatever she is. That might mean we can get the most from scientists. There's more than one government that would like a chance to examine a before-unseen humanoid." The second voice was that of a woman, more practical and more intelligent than her gruffer companion.

"She's an awfully cute little thing to let be dissected. If were just going to sell her as a lab rat instead of as an exotic slave I might as well have a go at her first."

"No you won't. Whatever we decide, the girl's worth more unharmed. If you need to get off, go find a common whore." The woman snapped.

The man made an angry snarl, "I don't know why I work with you, you spoil my fun."

"You hunt with me because I make us lots of money, at least before you drink up your share of it."

"Point taken. So what governments are we going to contact?"

"Actually that's plan B. I thought we might try to sell her to a rare species collector first."

"I thought most of them wouldn't buy sentient species."

"Some will, especially Seritac's.They tend to consider all other species to be less than sentient. I know one very wealthy Seritac collector, with an impressive private zoo. He might be interested in this girl. I'll get his bid first."

Kate opened her eyes to slits to take in her environment. She was lying in what appeared to be the cargo bay of small transport. Near the front of it, a muscular man and a small shrewish woman were sitting by the ships controls arguing. They weren't paying any attention to her. Good.

Strange, they had only bound her with torn cloth, not even bothering with metal or magnetic cuffs. They must not have thought she was very dangerous. That, or the woman had wanted to avoid the bruises that struggling against harsher materials would have caused to Kate's wrists, and the damage those bruises would have done to her "value".

Kate tried to wiggle out of the bonds, or tear the fabric, but the knots were good. She glanced around, looking for a way to cut her bonds. There was a jagged bit on a nearby crate. Not the brightest captors were they, leaving her near a way to break her bonds. They must have been used to prisoners too terrified to try and escape. Kate's fear only drove her on. Carefully she inched her way over to the crate, and hooked her bound hands around the edge. She moved the knotted cloth quietly and quickly against the jagged edge. She couldn't help but scrape the skin of her wrists while doing it; she was too scared to care. Better to bleed now than find herself in a slave market or zoo.

After a few painful minutes of yanking, while keeping a cautious eye on her captors, the fabric tore silently. She quickly knelt and unbound her feet. Staying crouched, she slipped completely behind the crate. She registered vaguely that the screen at the front of the ship was showing a planet side image, in fact an empty warehouse. There appeared to be only one exit from the ship, and it was in plain view of her captors. So she would have to fight instead of run. She needed a weapon now. They had taken her coat, and with it her mace.

Her eyes lit upon a blaster sitting on a console, not too far back from the arguing pair. Their voices were getting louder, their attention focused on the debate between them. Kate had lost the thread of their contention a while ago, so long as they stayed distracted.

She crawled forward carefully and slowly until she reached the end of the crates that provided her cover. For the final stretch she would have to go directly behind her captors. She prayed to whatever goddesses were listening and, scrambling to her feet, bolted to the console.

The woman noticed just as Kate's hand closed around the weapon. Kate fired as the woman was turning around drawing her own weapon. Kate had never fired a weapon before, but it was simple tool and her opponent was only a few feet away; all she had to do was point and click. A red blast shot from the weapon and tore apart the woman's head. The part of Kate that wasn't running on adrenaline registered with horror that the blaster had not been set to stun as she had thought, and that she had just killed. The part of her that was focused on survival was too frightened to care.

The man tried to lunge at her, but she dove out of the way and fired again, missing three consecutive shots and then hitting him in the shoulder. He fell to the floor, howling in pain. Kate trained the weapon on him.

"Hands where I can see them now!" Her former captor released his grip on his useless right arm and held up his left. It was stained with dark red blood, human blood. Kate fought the urge to retch-why did her attackers have to be human? Of all those out there she could end up fighting, why her own species? The scent of iron-rich blood and death, confined in the small shuttle, sickened her.

"Don't kill me," pleaded the man.

"How did you find me?"

"My friend," he said motioning at the dead woman, "she had a scanner that picked up unusual bio signals. We scanned the city to see if there were any rare species worth kidnapping. Yours showed up, humanoid body, two hearts, low body temp. We'd never seen the like before. You were alone, vulnerable, easy to catch."

Kate found anger beginning to bubble up "and you just thought you could grab me off the streets and sell me like an animal?"

"Well, yeah." Kate was never quite sure if she fired on purpose or if her fingers just clenched. Red blossomed across the man's chest, and he collapsed, convulsing. After a moment the convulsions ceased, and he lay dead.

The blaster tumbled from Kate's hand. The urge to run welled up in her overwhelmingly. She noticed her coat sitting forgotten on the back of one of the chairs. Out of impulse she snatched it up.

Then she ran to the hatch on the other side of the ship and slammed the open key so hard her hand stung. The door swung open and she dashed across the warehouse, flung open a door, and fled into the night. To her credit, she made it three blocks before she vomited in a dark alley. She leaned against a wall, trembling and sobbing, until the last of the adrenaline eased from her system.

Then she calmed herself, pulled on her coat against the night chill, and tried to get her bearings. All the same, it took her until dawn to find her way back to the TARDIS. When she got there she jammed a set of likely looking coordinates into the navigation system and activated it. She didn't care where she went as long as it was far away.

Kate's eyes snapped open with a gasp. Only blackness greeted her. The Master's voice echoed inside her mind and all around her. "You remember what it's like, don't you, to be small and helpless, to be overwhelmed by fear and terror. You didn't handle that situation very well, did you? You broke your own code and killed."

"I had no choice," she hissed.

"Oh did you really? I'll grant that the woman might have been almost an accident, but what of the man? Did you kill him because you had to, or because you were angry? You weren't good or clever enough to do better than you did. Now doesn't that make you just another selfish person, full of hate and fear, only a few steps higher than me in your own self-righteous view of the world?"

"Get out of my mind, you bastard. What the hell do you want, anyway?!" Kate screamed at the darkness.

Suddenly her prison was suffused in light, as a section of the wall opened. Kate blinked half blindly at the Master. He leaned against the opening like a languid cat.

"I wanted you to see who you really were."

"I know who I am. If nothing else I know that." Kate stood slowly, sheltering her eyes from the light with her hand. She feared him, she feared him so much. She needed to run and hide, but there was nowhere to go. Like a trapped rat, she had no choice but to stand her ground, and keep her face defiant.

"Oh do you really. You're playing so hard to be the little heroine, protect your friends, do what's right, but that's not what's in your heart. You're neither noble nor good the way your friends are. You're just a selfish frightened child who cares most about her own survival, a trait that I do admire in you. I certainly understand the importance of personal survival at all costs."

"And so what if I am. Does it really matter if I'm not as bloody kind and magnanimous as Jenny, or brave as Jack? They can be my heart and valor for me. I still have enough strength in me to resist you." Kate lowered her hand and raised her eyes meet the Master's cold gaze. It was like looking into the eye of a hurricane. She felt both drawn in and repulsed.

"Oh, it matters. Don't you see that you're a burden to them, that they are infinitely nobler than you? How many times has Jack died trying to protect you? Could you do that? You've got thirteen lives, and you haven't risked even one of them for your friends. And, Jenny, do you really think she doesn't notice your pettiness? You don't think it disturbs her how quickly your willing to resort to killing? She doesn't stay with you out of love, but because she knows you need her. You'd be far too dangerous without her keeping you in check. She knows, and she's just too nice to give up hope on you."

"That's a lie!"

"Are you so certain? Do you like this woman you've become, cold and sharp as flint? Filled more with necessity than pity, more prone to anger than kindness. What would the child you were before think of what you've become?"

Kate crossed her arms. She wasn't going to let him get to her. "So I don't like myself. Not like I'm the only person with that particular issue. Why do you think that's going to get me to open the TARDIS?"

"Because of what I can offer you. I could de-age you and clear your mind of all memories since you left Earth. I could give you the last eight years back, return you to who you were. Make you innocent, and kind, and idealistic again. You could pick you life back up where you left off, be the child your mother lost."

Kate slumped against the wall. She felt as if the breath had been stolen from her lungs, the very marrow from her bones. It was a trick, she knew it, so why was it so hard to see that?"

"What good would it do me to return to my former self if I then had to live in an Earth under your dominion?"

"I won't be conquering the earth by military force this time, at least not completely. Been there, done that, want to do something new. This time I'll be a little subtler, spread my influence bit by bit, make a game of toying with your planet's governments behind the scenes. It wouldn't have such a big effect on day-to-day life in Cardiff."

Kate closed her eyes. She wanted this, she wanted this so much, but to accept it would be the most selfish thing she had ever done. It would be suicide as far as her current self went, but maybe that would be for the best. "Would you release Jack and Jenny?"

The Master gave her a long look. "How gullible do you think I am? No, of course not. They stay on this ship, but you wouldn't miss them, I'd make you forget them."

And that was exactly the wrong thing to say. The Master thought he understood her, but he didn't not truly, not completely. He had looked inside her mind, but his experiences were too different from hers to truly comprehend what he had seen.

Kate took a deep breath; felt the stale recycled air of the ship heavy in her lungs. She knew this story. She knew this story well. Looking back would destroy her, even if it was what she wanted most in the world. She was many, many things, but a traitor would never be one of them. Jenny-she couldn't let go of Jenny. Those bright eyes, that warmth, she couldn't let go of that.

"Did you really think I would abandon them? I might be willing to destroy all other parts of myself, but the part of me that loves them, that part deserves to live."

"They don't need you."

"I think that while facing a monster like you, I'm exactly what they do need."

"Oh really?" rather than angry, the Master seemed mostly amused and curious. "So you've made up your mind. You won't take the way out I'm offering you, so I suppose you're going to fight me. Go on, then, hate me, and give your all to destroy me. It's the least you can do for this ridiculous universe and your pathetic friends. Let's see what kind of monster you become before all this is said and done. Will even Jenny be able to love you then?"

As the Master opened his mouth to laugh, Kate struck out. The Master hadn't completely untangled his mind from hers, which left him vulnerable. She pushed the link back to him, crashing into his mind like a rock through a window. She cast about quickly looking for any weakness she could use against him. She knew she didn't have long before he marshaled and threw her out.

The madness, the drums, the cold of it all was almost overwhelming, yet she soon found what she was looking for. It wasn't well hidden, it couldn't be. It was too central to everything that the Master was.

Kate was forced painfully back into her own mind, and the link between them snapped. Kate tumbled to the floor, landing hard. The Master clutched at the doorframe, trembling violently. The fury in his eye went beyond hatred.

Kate stood weakly, strange confidence flowing through her. She knew the Master's deepest secret. "You're in love. You're in love with the Doctor!" she crowed. "In your own sick, twisted way he's the center of your universe. You do everything you do because of love, to bring him closer to you, to compete with him. For all your narcissism, love is the emotion that rules you."

The Master had crossed the room in a split second and slammed her against the wall, his hand on her throat. His eyes of fire stared into hers. "Never speak of that again!" He snarled and then threw her down. A cold smile crossed his lips. "In fact I think I might just have to suspend your ability to speak altogether." He knelt and pressed the laser screwdriver against her throat. Kate felt something lock and contract in her voice box. She tried to curse but no sound came out. "While I'm at it, I think in true Shakespearian style I might just take your writing and hand signs as well." Kate writhed as connections in her brain snapped and sealed off.

The Master stormed from the room leaving Kate where she had fallen. As he departed he snapped at a waiting guard, "Put her back in the brig with the others. I'll deal with her again later."


Chapter 13: Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Kate landed back in the cell with a painful thud. She was regretting not trying to kick them in the kidneys when she'd had he chance. She spat at their retreating backs.

"Kate!" The blond toddler threw her small arms around her. Normally a happy three-year-old couldn't do Kate much damage, but she was pretty sure her ribs were a bit bruised. She was too tired to push the child away. She couldn't bring herself to think of the little girl as Jenny. It was too strange.

Jack stood from the bed where he had been dozing and wrapped his hands around the bars that separated their cells. He looked at Kate, sadly taking in the ugly bruising on her throat and the exhausted look on her face. "He tortured you?" It was more a statement then a question.

Kate nodded slowly. She tried to speak but no sound came out. Jenny laid a finger against Kate's lips. "The Master stole her voice."

"Oh Kate," murmured Jack. She had never seen him cry, but he looked close at the moment. There was so much weariness in those ancient eyes. Kate was another in a long line of innocents who he had failed to protect. She stood, wincing slightly, and walked over to the bars. She took his hands in hers, trying to somehow convey that she was all right. He seemed to understand.

"Is the TARDIS safe?" he asked softly. Kate nodded.

"Good. Hold out as long as you can. If he gains access to a time machine, it's all over."

She realized he was slipping a small scrap of cloth wrapped around something into her hand, she quickly stowed it in a pocket.

Jack whispered into her ear "It's aspirin, I got it off one of the guards. When you get the chance use it against the Master, it will kill him." Kate tried not to think about how Jack had gotten the pills from the guard.

They sprang apart at the sound of approaching footsteps. Jenny whimpered and dove under the coat to hide, scowling out from within the dark folds. She seemed to be progressively acting more and more like a child with all the fears that came with it. The Master walked triumphantly across the brig walkway. Two guards were hauling a battered-looking Ianto Jones behind him. The young man had a split lip, and his normally meticulous clothes and hair were in disarray. It was the first time Kate had ever seen him unshaven.

"Guess who got caught trying to sneak back into the Hub to access Earth's global defense system!" crowed the Master. He delighted in the panicked look that came across Jack's face at the sight of Ianto in danger.

"You're very fond of this man, aren't you?" The Master laid a possessive hand on the side of Ianto's face making the Welshman flinch and Jack snarl. "I'm sure I'll be able to use him to get some information out of you about Torchwood. I'll admit your team is a little bit more coordinated than last time. I'm still looking for that Welsh girl, and the annoying doctor, but I'm sure I'll find them soon. So tell me, Jack, any idea where they might be hiding? You'll have to tell me, since I can't read your bizarre, fixed-point-in-time mind "

Jack bit his lip and looked away. "Why haven't you just taken the memories from him like you have Kate and Jenny?"

The Master gave an exasperated sigh. "Your little pet took retcon when he was captured. His memory's a blank for the last couple days. No use to me at all except as a tool against you." He ruffled Ianto's hair. "Now what will it take to get you to talk, Jack? I could start breaking his bones. Or…" The Master paused and held up a finger, "I could toy with his mind like I have with the girl's, his frail little human mind might just snap. He's got such horrible memories, most of them your fault."

Jack spoke quickly. "I don't know where my team is. Gwen wrote contingency plans for any situation where I was captured and they were on their own. I specifically never read those plans, so I wouldn't be able to betray them."

The Master looked distinctly not amused. He released Ianto to slink closer to the bars of Jack's cell. "Now, you could be telling the truth. Which makes you and your little pet both useless to me. You won't stay dead, but he will. You could also be lying, which for your friend's sake I hope you are. Either way I intend to torture him until you admit the truth. If nothing else it should be amusing for me." The Master turned back to Ianto and tapped him very lightly with his index finger on the center of his forehead.

Ianto tumbled back, his calm control instantly gone. His eyes went wide at some sight within his mind. He began to tremble and sob, screaming Lisa's name, begging Jack not to kill her. The Master observed it all like a like a cat meeting a canary with a broken wing.

Beginning to stride away, he snapped his fingers, "put the Welshman in the cell with the freak. Watching his lover suffer might give the good captain a change of heart."

Jack's cell was opened and Ianto was unceremoniously tossed in. Jack caught the trembling man before he hit the floor. Upon seeing Jack through his memory-reliving haze, Ianto began to curse him, and struggled desperately to get away. Jack tried to hold him still, to calm him, but he couldn't.

While sustaining a black eye and none too few kicks he managed to carry the hysterical man over to the cell's only bunk. Ianto instantly scrambled to the far corner of the bunk, placing his back against the wall like a cornered rat. Jack tried to get close enough treat his cuts and bruises as best he could, which considering their current resources, mostly consisted of scrubbing off the dried blood with a wet handkerchief. Ianto was too hysterical though, and after getting clawed across the face Jack gave up. He withdrew to the opposite end of the cell.

Jenny tried to call to Ianto reassuringly through the bars, but he didn't seem to hear her. Her soft child's voice had no place in the world Ianto was trapped in. Kate retreated to her own bunk and averted her eyes. No need to see a friend frightened and helpless. She's spent quite enough of her life like that.

Eventually, hours later, Ianto did calm down as the memory finished playing out. He slumped against the wall, his eyes gradually coming back into focus. Jack watched him hesitantly.

Ianto motioned silently for Jack to come closer. Slowly, still expecting another outburst, Jack did. He sat on the very edge of the bunk. Ianto cringed at his proximity, but forced himself to overcome it. He leaned over to speak to him in a hushed voice. "I…I can't remember much, but I know help is on its way." This said, he wearily slumped into an exhausted faint. Jack helped ease him down, hiding both his despair and hope behind his own tired expression.

The guards came for Kate when she was fast asleep curled up in her coat. It was the first deep sleep she had had since her capture. She was groggy as the two guards pulled her from the cell. Kate wondered if the Master had given them specific orders not to let her get a solid footing, or if they were improvising. There was clearly no practical need for two grown men to so roughly manhandle such a small woman. Jenny watched angrily from a corner of the cell. She had learned by now that it was useless to try and fight the guards while she was trapped as a child. Where once her body had been a deadly weapon, she now lacked the strength to even bruise an opponent.

"If you cause her any more harm than you've been ordered to, I will track you down and kill you slowly when this is all over!" Jack yelled at the guards. They ignored him. Kate watched her surroundings intently as she was pulled through the ship. It was all ninety-degree angles, long corridors, and cool steel. It could have been made by almost any square-loving species, during any time period. There was no writing or insignia to hint at the ship's creators.

They passed through one more identical doorway and back onto the bridge where Kate, Jenny and Jack had first arrived. The guards released her and she shrugged away from them, rubbing her wrists resentfully. She looked up and breathed a secret sigh of relief to see Earth whole and unchanged through the massive window. From a distance it looked all right, anyway.

Then her eyes focused on the center of the room and she stumbled. Another nightmare among a litany of such waking dreams awaited her. The Master was standing beside her TARDIS, which bore its usual garden shed appearance. He stood behind a kneeling dark-haired girl, one hand solidly on her shoulder the other pressing a handgun against the back of her neck. Stephanie's eyes were closed, her breath slow, and her whole body trembling violently with fear.

The Master smiled at her over the girl's shoulder. "Yes, I know the gun is a bit barbaric. Personally, I prefer blades as my weapon of intimidation. However, I have it on good authority guns are what humans of your time period find most frightening. I do try so hard to accommodate the local culture." Kate glared at him, having no voice to curse him.

The Master twirled the weapon in his hand. "It does bore me having to resort to this cliché, you know, using a hostage to get what I want-it's so unoriginal. It's much more fun to tempt and corrupt. But you're determined to play the hero's part, so now I get to use the Achilles heel of that archetype against you."

Kate spat at him. The Master smirked. "I was originally hoping to try this particular threat with your mother as a hostage, but she's proving difficult to find, so this child will have to do. I saw in your memories that you did care about her very deeply once, even if you've abandoned her now. You'll protect her though; she reminds you too much of your lost innocence not to. Now no more preliminaries, open the TARDIS or I shoot her."

Kate wavered uncertainly on her feet. Stephanie's eyes shot open.

"Kate don't you fucking dare! He's going to kill me no matter what, so don't let him use me against you first." If tears hadn't been leaking out of her eyes her fearlessness might have seemed genuine.

The Master patted her condescendingly on the head. "I must say she's rather brave for a human, that or just very young. She hasn't lived long enough to fear death the way you and I have. Will you give her a chance to learn to curse the darkness, or do I end her now?"

"Don't listen to him!" hissed Stephanie.

Kate took a step forward and then drew back, shaking her head violently. The Master laughed.

"Ah, you want to save her, but you don't think I'll keep my word. Consider the situation, though. Your TARDIS is set to isomorphic controls, and neither of us knows how to change that. Which means I need your continued cooperation to use the TARDIS, not just get into it. Keep me happy and the girl lives."

Stephanie slumped and remained silent. Her fear for her life was finally winning out against her better intentions. She didn't have it in her to tell Kate to refuse the Master again.

Kate bowed her head in defeat. If she were nobler she might be able to refuse; after all, the universe mattered a lot more than the life of one frightened girl. But she didn't have the strength to watch a dear friend die. The hero in her caved in to the flawed mortal.

She walked to the TARDIS and laid her hand against the door. She still had to find a way around the anti-coercion program she had created. She had made it years ago though, when her own psychic ability and understanding of her bond with the TARDIS had been weaker. It was surprisingly easy to lock her subconscious away from her beloved ship and give it access to only a shallow surface level. On this level she thought the command, "Open."

The TARDIS wavered uneasily at first. It knew something was wrong. She could feel it nudging gently at her mind and shoved it back. It broke her heart to do so, like kicking a dog. She repeated her order in her mind, "Open." There was a pause and then the lock clicked and the door slid open.

The Master released Stephanie, shoving her towards the guards. "Take the girl down to the cells. Do not harm her." The guards were gentler with Stephanie, helping her to her feet and leading her away. Whether this was because they hesitated to be rough with one of such a young age, or obedience to the Master, Kate could not tell.

Kate watched Stephanie go silently, holding her gaze until she was gone. The Master laid a hand on Kate's shoulder, making her flinch. "See, like all gods I can be merciful," He whispered in her ear.

Kate shook him off angrily. The Master just grinned in triumph. "I must say I'm glad I took your voice. It spares me having to listen to whatever speech or curse you might make now. I prefer my minions silent."

He motioned into the TARDIS. "Now you go in first, in case you've felt the need to set any traps. Just remember, try anything and I still will kill the girl."

Kate obeyed and went in first. She could feel the TARDIS tense when the Master stepped over the threshold, ready to expel him if she gave the command. She mentally soothed the TARDIS like a frightened horse.

The Master took in the golden light of the TARDIS like a king surveying his domain, running his hand along the console possessively. He made an undignified yelp of surprise as the metal burned him. He sucked on his hand and whirled to glare at Kate. She shrugged. The TARDIS was acting on its own initiative. The Master thrust his hands into his pockets, eyes narrowed now as if threatening the ship itself.

"Now, to business. You should be relieved to know I don't even need you to do anything partially unethical today, just send out a message to the only other TARDIS in existence. The frequency is Gamma Delta five two Alpha into the ships communications frequency."

Keeping a cautious eye on the Master, Kate did. The ship made a sound much like a phone ringing, and a fuzzy holographic screen popped up over the console. After a moment there was another beep and the image solidified into that of the interior of another TARDIS. A skinny young man with ruffled brown hair blinked at the screen and fiddled with a blue screwdriver until the image came into focus completely. "Hi there, whoever you are. Hold on a minute, I've almost got the transmission solidified," he told the screen in a chipper manner.

He dropped the screwdriver when he saw who was on the other end. "Master?"

"Ah, Doctor, I love hearing you say my name."

"You're dead. I watched you die. I grieved. I burned your body."

"And yet, as you can see, I was not quiet dead."

"How?" The Doctor pulled on a pair of glasses and blinked, not completely believing what he saw.

"It was simple, really. As usual I had a back up plan. When it was clear I had lost, Lucy shot me. I put my consciousness into a ring as I died. Lucy retrieved the ring. Then I took possession of her body, and regenerated as a Time Lord. Poor dear didn't realize her mind was going to be erased completely."

"That's creepy even for you."

"I try to be original."

"I'm assuming this isn't a social call. What do you want?"

"What, you think I don't just seek your charming company? No? Alright then, the surrender of you and your TARDIS would be a good place to start."

"Which I would do why?"

"Because I have your daughter."

The Doctor's eyes went wide with shock and desperate hope. "Jenny? Is that you? Did you regenerate?" he asked Kate.

Kate shook her head. The Master laughed. "Oh no Doctor, Jenny is locked away safely. I even put her in the form of a child to keep her out of trouble." He pointed at Kate "This girl is Rodageit's kid. Remember him? Mad scientist sort of fellow, went to school with us, always blowing stuff up?"

The Doctor nodded slowly, still not quite believing the Master. The Master continued, "Apparently he fancied humans, or at least got stuck on earth long enough to develop a taste for them. I found his half-blood daughter there."

"And she's working for you now?" The Doctors eyebrows knit. He was looking at the Master, but he was asking Kate. She shook her head forcefully and stamped her foot for emphasis. She was really getting sick of having only one way of expressing herself.

The Master waved his hand dismissively. "Yes, but under coercion and blackmail of course. She'd happily strangle me if she could. I think her propensity to violence shows promise. I might be able to cultivate it to my advantage, especially now that I've separated her from the goody-two-shoes influence of your brat. They had a nauseatingly cute pair bond; I was quiet happy to sever it when I de-aged Jenny."

The less malicious of the two male Time Lords seemed to be having a rather hard time taking all this in. The former prime minister gave an annoyed huff.

"Well enough about the younger generation. They're rather boring, anyway. We both know this is about us."

Kate could have sworn the Doctor smiled ever so slightly. "It always has been." He straightened up. "Surely we don't need to bring anyone else into our fight, do we? Release your hostages and come away from Earth, then I will gladly surrender."

The Master seemed almost tempted, but still suspicious. "Will you give me your TARDIS?"

"You know I can't do that." The Doctor looked truly sorry.

"Well then I can't confine this to just us. I expect you to appear at these coordinates ready to surrender. If not, I can't be accountable for the state of your daughter's health. Kate, cut the transmission."

Kate did. She watched the image of the strange man fade to static. She wondered sadly if the skinny bloke in the suit and glasses was really all the hope Earth had left.


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