A poster on GB stated that they would like to see the Master come back after TEOT thus: washed up on a beach in a bay somewhere, having fallen out of the void....
Title: The Way Back (5/?)
Genre: Doctor Who
Characters: Simm-Master, the Doctor (Eleven), Joshua and Abigail Naismith, Martha and Mickey Jones-Smith, etc, OCs....
Rating/Warnings: Adult themes throughout –some bad language, sex and violence.
With heartfelt thanks to my Beta, Jinxed.
The Master looks around at his captors with disdain. He’s unable to say anything, however, because he’s bound and gagged for the second time within recent memory. UNIT had obviously taken a leaf from Naismith’s book. And although he is ferociously hungry, it’s not the desperate need to consume raw protein that his damaged body had previously needed simply in order to stave off complete dissolution but rather that he is simply hungry. Presumably whatever process had catapulted him back to Earth had somehow repaired the damage done by Lucy’s potion but it’s left him in a weakened state.
He wishes Lucy were here so that he could gloat over her failure to give her own death some kind of meaning. He’d actually been rather fond of her in his own way until she decided to put a bullet in his gut. That had been the end of a useful relationship as far as he’s concerned.
The sound of the UNIT commander pulls him back to the here and now. Strange, how not having that insidious drum-beat inside his head allows him to spend more time in it than he can ever previously remember doing. He wonders if this is a permanent thing, or if they will return. His mind is a strangely silent place now and he isn’t at all sure what to make of it. It feels...odd, as if he’s forgotten something important.
‘Mister Saxon!’ Stafford’s tone is irritated, and the Master regards the human with interest but without fear. He glares at him, testing his psychic muscles, seeking a chink in the man’s mental defences. Even the least psychic human has some ability to block another’s influence, but most of them don’t even know they have it. Others feel the touch of other minds but reject the premise. Stafford is one such.
‘Don’t try your mind games with me, Mister Saxon.’
My name is the Master! He feels Stafford’s mind close against him and smiles behind his gag. He’ll bide his time with this one; he might be useful.
‘Remove the gag,’ Stafford instructs an aide, who does so. The Master licks dry, cracked lips and waits.
‘I want to introduce you to someone,’ Stafford announces perfunctorily. He signals to the visored trooper standing beside the door, who turns to open it. A man in a white coat doesn’t walk in so much as scuttle, his eyes (huge behind thick corrective lenses) darting left and right nervously.
He’s not nervous so much as curious, the Master thinks. Who on Gallifrey is he? He’s not at all elegant, appearing clumsy and badly co-ordinated. The Master wonders idly if the man is brain-damaged and decides that he really doesn’t care one way or the other. Why has Stafford brought such a man here? More importantly, what does Stafford want with the Master?
‘This is Malcolm Taylor, our scientific advisor.’
Aha. This should be interesting, then. No doubt he’s as clever as the rest of them – which is say, not very.
‘Mister Taylor did some sterling work on wormholes a while back,’ Stafford says conversationally. ‘And he’s well acquainted with the theory of Time Travel.’
The Master’s left eyebrow lifts quizzically as he stares at Stafford and then turns his gaze on Taylor; eyes say quite clearly, ‘Oh, yeah?’ If you’re so well-acquainted with it, why are you still here? Taylor doesn’t react at all, and the Master concludes that he has zero psychic ability. That’s a shame.
‘I can see that you’re sceptical. If I mention the Doctor, and a race called the Tritovores to you, will that convince you that he knows what he’s talking about?’
The Master hides his surprise – trust the Doctor to get involved with those shit-eaters. He probably tried to get them to clean up their act... He shrugs. ‘I’ve heard of them,’ he says noncommittally, but it seems as if it was a rhetorical question. He swallows painfully, his throat dry – no doubt from the cocktail of drugs his bloodstream has been polluted with. He’s not about to beg this man for water though. Show no weakness...
‘Malcolm, why don’t you explain how Mister Saxon can help us?’
‘Me? You want me to... oh. Righty-oh, then.’ Taylor does a curious little dance of indecision before sidling to a position in front of the chair where the Master is restrained. It’s obvious that he knows exactly who Harold Saxon really is but can’t quite decide whether to be frightened of him or not.
‘I’ve ascertained that wormholes can be used as corridors or gateways to other places...other planets, maybe even other universes and other times. What I haven’t quite got the knack of is a way of tracking them reliably. Flighty little buggers they are, popping up randomly all over the place...’
‘Do get to the point, Taylor.’ Stafford is impatient.
The Master sees the tiniest flare of anger in the look Malcolm throws Stafford before he quickly drops his eyes and mumbles deferentially, ‘Yes, sir, of course sir.’
Not quite the fool you pretend to be, then...
‘We know that you travel in time as well as space, Mister Saxon. UNIT records say that you’re known to the Doctor, who is also a time traveller. We’re on the brink of a breakthrough and since we haven’t seen the Doctor in a while... and you’ve come along, so to speak...’
‘What do you want from me?’ In fact it’s obvious to the Master what it is they want and since he no longer has access to a Tardis this could suit him very well; although he’s been used once already by Naismith and is not pleased to find himself in a similar situation with UNIT.
‘Don’t play games with me, Mister Saxon. I know that both you and the Doctor are members of a race known as ‘Time Lords’. I know that you can rejuvenate your bodies when mortally injured. I know also that the two of you have been using this planet and its people as a battleground for your petty squabbles for hundreds –perhaps even thousands- of years, and that a few months ago some of your people were preparing to destroy Earth, to knock it out of orbit by materialising a planet in the same area of space that Earth occupies.’
‘You have done your homework, haven’t you,’ the Master observes in a mocking tone. He’s beginning to feel slightly feverish again now that the drugs are wearing off but he’ll be damned if he’ll show any weakness to the bullish Stafford. If he can get Taylor on his own, though... even without psychic ability he might perhaps be turned...
‘Yes, Mister Saxon, we have.’ Stafford glares at him.
‘Then if you know all that, you know very well who I am. At least have the courtesy to address me by my proper name.’
Stafford smiles without humour. ‘You’ll never have Mastery over Earth or its’ people, Saxon – so for that reason I will not use your title.’
‘It’s not a title, you pathetic little man! It’s a name. Use it.’ He glares at Stafford, who merely stares back, his eyes hard and flat. Intractable bastard...
‘Of course, we could simply dispense with your services, since Mister Taylor here is well on the way to cracking the codes; particularly since we’ve obtained some of the Naismith technology. Including a rather spectacular gemstone...’
The Master stiffens for a fraction of a second, but realises that Stafford must be bluffing. Why would he have bothered to bring him here, otherwise?
‘Really...? And what makes you think that would be of any interest to me?’ The white-point star? If Stafford does indeed have it, then how by the horns of Nimon had it survived? He’d seen the Doctor destroy the transceiver; the link had been snapped. If the star survived does that mean the Doctor is dead? Because if he survived, it would be unlikely he’d leave the diamond just lying around... a strange feeling of loss wells up in his chest but he’s not given time to contemplate it before Stafford start to flap his lips again.
‘Oh come on, Saxon ... don’t take me for a complete fool!’ Stafford leans forward, hissing into the Master’s ear. ‘I know from eye-witness accounts that it was central to the appearance of the red planet. I also know that you were instrumental in its appearance. Since we have the diamond and the wrecked machinery I’m willing to bet that you could recreate that effect.’
The Master stares at him.
‘Now why would I want to do that? And perhaps more to the point, why do you?’ There’s no way in hell that he is ever going to be helping anyone to open that gateway anytime soon, and certainly not before he regains his memory of what happened there – if he ever does. Suicide without a get-out clause is not generally his style; he’s still coming to terms with his rash decision to attack Rassilon but he’d been so angry... humiliation restarts a slow burn in his gut at the memory of the Lord President’s treachery. His whole life...dictated by another! If he could only.... fever floods his veins and for a moment he’s back in the gate room under Rassilon’s scornful gaze...
Stafford watches in fascination as the Master’s gaze seems to turn inwards and he stiffens in his restraints, jaw and fists clenching in what looks very much like anger. Only when the Master begins to emit an enraged snarl does he react.
‘Saxon!’ There’s no reaction, so Stafford steps forward and backhands Saxon across the face. The alien looks stunned and disorientated for a moment before focusing on Stafford.
‘You’ll regret that,’ he says in dangerous tones. ‘And you didn’t answer my question.’
Stafford takes his time replying.
‘You may be aware, Mister Saxon, that Earth has been visited by extra-terrestrial creatures in ever-increasing numbers during the past few years. There are several organisations whose sole purpose is to try and defend us against these alien incursions – UNIT and the now defunct Torchwood I think you are familiar with, but there are also an ever-growing number of cowboy outfits – do-gooders, mercenaries and some very misguided individuals who simply have no idea of what they’re dealing with. We need to have a cohesive and all encompassing force. Without it, we’re at the mercy of any marauding species who might fancy a pop at us. We need an effective force and we need the technology to deal with these creatures in such a way that they won’t bother us in the future.’
‘And you think the Gate is that technology?’ The human doesn’t have any idea, does he? Either of the Gate’s real purpose or of the danger posed by opening a link to Gallifrey, even if such a feat is possible, which he doubts. Even though he can’t recall in what circumstances he left it, the Master has no doubt that if anything remains of Gallifrey it will pose a considerable threat to anything Earth can offer up as defence.
‘I do. Eye witness accounts detail how a number of people were transported into the building via this machine, not to mention a planetary body whose orbit almost destroyed our own. They were banished when the machine was partially destroyed. It stands to reason that if the technology exists to bring them here in the first place, we can also send them – or an army of our own – back to wherever they came from.’
‘You don’t know what could be waiting for you on the other side,’ the Master points out.
‘There will be risks involved, of course. Collateral damage is unavoidable in times of war.’
The Master laughs, then. This human is ruthless... In other circumstances he might have been someone the Master could have worked with. As it is, he’s a complication he can well do without.
‘You’d better show me what you’ve salvaged, then...’ He has not the slightest intention of helping Stafford but as with Naismith, he’ll play along for a while.
‘Release him.’ Stafford stares at the Master. ‘Any funny business and you’re dead. How many times can you regenerate?’ The Master glares at him but says nothing.
One of the soldiers steps forward to release the restraints one by one. The Master stands, trying not to show his discomfort as blood rushes back into limbs too tightly restrained. He still feels feverish, weak and groggy from his long period of sedation, not to mention hungry. He hopes that they will feed him before too long.
‘Take Mister Saxon to the lab.’
The Master resists the urge to turn on the thug who shoves him forward with the butt of his weapon. He’ll bide his time...
‘So how do you know Harold Saxon?’ Mina asks as they speed through the countryside.
Martha doesn’t answer immediately. How much should she tell Mina? It’s obvious that she knows very little about the Master’s Saxon persona and seems to believe that he needs rescuing from UNIT. Martha’s considered take on the matter is that in all likelihood they’ll soon need rescuing from him, although Mina’s revelation that he’d been found half-drowned and hasn’t recovered properly before being taken by UNIT is a little worrying. Where is the Doctor when they need him? He hadn’t been anywhere in evidence when the 456 came back, which is worrying in itself – he’s always seemed to have a sixth sense for when the planet is under threat. What had kept him away?
Nor had he been around this last Christmas, when everyone was having nightmares and a strange red planet which had appeared briefly in the sky had caused worldwide panic and chaos, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and all manner of problems. In the UK many buildings had collapsed and a there had been a steep rise in psychiatric admissions in the months following it as people tried and failed to come to terms with or make sense of what was going on. Martha and Mickey had naturally heard of the destruction of Broadfell and knew it was no co-incidence that Lucy Saxon was among the dead. She’s been waiting with a quiet sense of dread ever since.
‘He’s the ... acquaintance of a friend of mine,’ she eventually offers.
‘I get the feeling that he’s a lot more than that,’ Mina says darkly. ‘Not being funny, but how does a quite frankly ordinary Doctor have friends in such high places?’
Martha laughs without humour. ‘Well I wouldn’t call a sociopathic alien Prime Minister exactly high profile.... but okay, I get your point. Look, he’s not the only alien I know, okay?’
Mina sighs. ‘You know I used to enjoy those science-fiction shows and films... somehow they don’t seem quite so appealing anymore. So are you going to tell me the rest of it?’
So Martha does, remembering that there’s always RetCon to fall back on. She tells Mina all that happened during the missing year. When she’s finished, Mina blows out a shaky breath.
‘Well... it all makes a weird sort of sense of a lot of things, I suppose.’ And to think that monster was in our home... Toby... And yet she can’t forget his vulnerability as he’d convulsed in front of her, how he’d calmed as she’d gentled him afterwards.... she shakes her head – murderer or not, alien or human, he’s still entitled to medical care. To deny him that would simply make them as bad as he is.
Martha seems to intuit Mina’s train of thought. ‘Don’t get sucked in, Mina,’ she warns. ‘The Master can be very persuasive. He’ll use you and discard you without a second thought. I’ve seen it.’
Mina smiles wryly. ‘Thanks for the warning.’
‘We’re almost there.’ Martha remarks a moment or two later. ‘I’m going to park up here; we’ll walk the rest of the way. Don’t want to go alerting them...’
Martha leaves the vehicle partway up a fire track leading into a wooded area, out of sight of the road, and they trudge the two hundred yards, shivering as sleety rain begins to fall. Mina thinks of Toby on his camping trip and hopes he’ll dress sensibly. She looks at the UNIT base through Martha’s field glasses in despair.
‘How on earth are we going to get in there?’
Martha’s mobile beeps softly in her pocket and she swiftly pulls it out.
‘Mickey...where are you? Really? It’s okay; really it is... okay ... we’re parked up on the fire track. Okay.’
‘Mickey,’ she says unnecessarily. ‘He’ll be along in a minute.’
Mina smiles briefly. ‘I’m glad.’
Mina glances up and down the corridor, flinching as she hears a distant alarm going off; Martha and Mickey were drawing the guards away, the plan being for Mickey to deal with them while Martha doubles back and helps Mina to get the Master back to the car. From what Mina has said about what happened earlier, Martha had deduced that he would likely be less suspicious of Mina and hopefully less likely to hurt her. How he’ll react when he sees herself and Mickey she’s less sure.
Martha and Mickey seem to be taking an age and Mina decides not to wait any longer; she runs up the corridor, opening each door and checking inside. Most of them are empty apart from equipment whose use Mina prefers not to speculate on; but it’s obvious that UNIT are quite accustomed to holding prisoners. What else they might do with them is not clear but Mina gets the strong impression that the Geneva Convention isn’t being strictly adhered to...
The door to number 43 bears a notation on the dry wipe board pinned to the wall beside it: ‘Saxon’. Well, that was easy, wasn’t it? She opens it and slips inside, closing it quietly behind her, amazed that it hasn’t even been locked.
The room is in semi-darkness. Should she flick the light on, or would that set off some kind of alarm? She waits a moment or two to give her eyes time to adjust, then makes her way to the bedside. She can see that its occupied but little else, so she reaches up to the overhead lamp and flicks it on.
‘Oh my God...’
Saxon (The Master, she reminds herself) is strapped to the bed, gagged and blindfolded. She can see from the rise and fall of his chest that he’s either unconscious or sleeping. Do these people know nothing? What if he vomits?
With a sound of exasperation she sets about releasing the restraints, starting with the gag and then the blindfold. Saxon doesn’t react at all and she lifts an eyelid. Not concussed, but definitely drugged. As she releases the half dozen straps holding him to the bed she notes that the sleeves of the slightly oversized sweatshirt – Brian’s, she remembers with a jolt - he’s still wearing have been pushed up his arms and there are fresh puncture wounds in several places, mostly in the crook of his elbows. Clearly they’ve been taking samples. A Cannula is taped to the front of his right hand. She contemplates removing it then decides against it, in case Martha needs to give him an antidote to whatever they’ve drugged him with. She quickly looks around for a chart and is relieved to see it in the usual place at the foot of the bed. He’s also hooked up to a heart and BP monitor, both with the sound muted. The alarm is still active though, so she quickly de-activates that, noting as she does so that his pulse is racing. She recalls Martha telling her that his species have two hearts, which would account for such alarming readings in someone who is unconscious.
She studies the chart. They’ve used Phenobarbital to sedate him, but the dosage is way above what would normally be used. His skin is still very cool to the touch, hardly much higher than when he was arrested. This isn’t looking good for a rescue attempt.
She’s terrified that any minute now the door will fly open and a hoard of armed UNIT soldiers will gun them down. Why did she ever think this was a sensible thing to do? A sudden vision of Toby weeping at her funeral chills her to the core. How could she have possibly put this stranger before her own son? She turns back to Saxon, determined to make it out of this place alive. Once they’ve got him out, Martha and Mickey can do what they damn well please with him – she wants out.
‘Mister Saxon!’ She leans in close and whispers loudly in his left ear. As a nurse, she has some idea of which stimulant drug will counter the sedative but the information is no use if there isn’t any readily available, which a quick search of all the cupboards and drawers confirms to be the case. So they’re either going to have to carry him out, or rouse him somehow. She tries again, raising her voice slightly. It will all come to nothing if she’s overheard.
‘Mister Saxon – Harry.... Master!’ She tries every name she can think of, and is rewarded a few seconds later when he sucks in a shaky breath and begins to stir and mutter.
‘What the fu-’ she clamps a hand over his mouth hurriedly.
‘Be quiet!’ she hisses urgently, putting a finger to her lips for added emphasis. ‘Martha, Mickey and I are here to get you out. Can you walk?’
Saxon’s hand shoots up to pull hers away from his face.
‘Get your hands off me, human!’ He hisses back, his face dark with anger.
‘Look, do you want to get out of here? Because I certainly do, and if you keep shouting like that then I don’t think we’ll make it, okay?’ She hisses back, angry herself now at his ingratitude and high-handed manner. It seems that Martha is right, and she wonders again why she and Mickey are going to so much trouble for the ungrateful bastard. She at least has the excuse of not really knowing him.
Saxon glares at her for a moment or two longer then flings her arm away, pushing himself up into a sitting position so that she’s forced to step back out of his way.
‘Fair enough. And where is the delightful Miss Jones now?’
For a second Mina can’t think who he means, she’s so preoccupied with marvelling how the hell he can be practically comatose one moment and fully conscious the next, even if he looks distinctly pale.
‘Oh, you mean Martha? She ...’
‘Yes, of course I mean Martha,’ he spits, putting an unpleasant inflection on the name. ‘Who else would I be talking about since you just mentioned her?’ He rolls his eyes rudely and swings his legs round so that his feet are touching the floor. ‘Help me, girl!’
It’s a long time since Mina has considered herself to be a ‘girl’ and his use of the term brings home his other-worldliness more than anything Martha might have told her. Not knowing quite what to say in response, she falls back on her training and steps to his side, deftly putting one hand behind his back and the other under his elbow to support him as he levers himself onto his feet. He’s whey-faced and sweating profusely and she can feel him trembling with the effort of remaining upright. Suddenly his legs buckle and Mina finds herself trying to support his whole weight.
‘No.’ she lowers the arm supporting him and eases him back onto the bed. For a second or two he fights her then exhales loudly and sinks back onto the mattress. His head drops forward so that his chin is resting on his chest and Mina puts a hand under it and raises his head, the better to see if he’s still conscious or not.
‘Stay with me, Harry!’
‘That’s not my name...’ he murmurs quietly.
‘Well, Harry, Master, whoever you are... you need to stay awake if you want to get out of here.’
‘Why would I want... to do that?’ His lucidity of just moments earlier seems to desert him as the drug re-exerts its hold.
‘You like being trussed up and experimented on, do you?’ Mina casts a nervous glance at the door; it’s gone conspicuously quiet out there but there’s still no sign of Martha or Mickey. What if they’ve been captured? Where does that leave her?
‘What do you mean?’ He’s suddenly alert again, dark eyes boring into hers.
She gestures to the medical chart lying where she’d dropped it at the foot of the bed. ‘I’m a nurse, Harry – I understand these notes. They’ve been taking blood and tissue samples from you and it looks as if they’ve tested your reaction to various drugs, too. I’m not surprised you can’t stand up straight, to be honest. But you really need to fight it if we’re going to escape. Can you do that?’
The Master snatches up the chart and quickly scans it. How much of it he actually understands Mina isn’t sure but it obviously makes enough sense to annoy him.
‘Bastards!’ He flings the clipboard aside angrily and pushes himself up from the bed again. ‘Get me out of here, now!’ He stumbles towards the door and she has to hurry to catch up to him as he wrenches it open and disappears into the corridor beyond.
‘Great...’ she catches sight of him disappearing around the corner at the end of the corridor and sprints after him. Turning the corner she starts to panic – which way did he go? And how the bloody hell can he even do that after being on the verge of collapse just moments earlier?
The answer comes sooner than she expects – she remembers that the way out is to her right and runs down the corridor at full pelt, only to all but fall over the Master’s crouching form as she turns the corner. He’s practically on his knees, hands and head leaning against the wall as he tries to remain conscious. Sweat is pouring from him and Mina realises that he’ll need to be rehydrated very soon at this rate. The drugs are crippling him; if he were human he’d be risking heart failure – at the very least, he should be out cold. What the hell is Stafford playing at? If she ever gets out of here she intends to report him to the highest possible authority.
She’s struggling to haul the Master upright when she hears the pounding of feet coming towards them.
‘Oh, my God... come on, Harry, come on!’ In her panic Mina forgets that he doesn’t seem to like being called by that name, but the Master doesn’t appear to have noticed as he struggles to remain conscious and upright.
‘Mina! Thank God! Wondered where you’d both got to...oh shit, this isn’t going to help one little bit...’ Martha thrusts her weapon at Mickey, who promptly covers the corridor with it. ‘Master, come on, get up. Don’t be such a wimp!’
‘Martha!’ Mina is shocked at Martha’s offhand tone.
‘You need to get him riled up when he’s like this; otherwise he’s just not going to...ah. Hello!’
Martha’s manner might be cheery, but her face tells a different story as she and the Master stare at each other for precious moments.
‘Miss Jones...’ he murmurs, blinking sleepily at her.
‘Martha! Hurry up!’ Mickey hisses from his position at the corridor junction. ‘They’re gonna be here any second now!’