Friday, 31 December 2010

A World Without Angels – Part 2

Ok, so it's still not finished, but I thought, being that it's the last day of the year and all, I'd put a shorter part 2 out there (which means that there will now be a part 3 too!) so that you didn't all forget that I existed! It's been a very busy time of late (new baby, Christmas) which is why nothing's been written for a while. Still, hope you enjoy this bit for now!


A World Without Angels – Part 2

    River darted around the console with indecent speed, trying desperately to ensure that she was on the right course. The note she'd found in her pocket whilst they'd been in the wreckage of the Byzantium shouldn't have surprised her, but did. It was his handwriting, undoubtedly, but not him, not this Doctor. She wasn't sure when or how it had appeared there. Was it merely some temporal manifestation? Would it cease to be once she'd done what she needed to? At present, she wasn't certain, but all she knew was that she had to follow these coordinates.

    There was a name listed with them, not one that she'd seen before. She'd heard it, one of those words that had passed down through time, almost becoming legendary. She remembered the Pandorica, though her memories of that were starting to become confused. She shook her head, remembering what had occurred – later for this Doctor, but already in her past. How he'd saved the universe once again; how she'd nearly been stuck forever in the very ship she was now piloting to ensure that that very event still took place.

    She looked down at the paper once again. Was it his writing? She was certain at first, but certainly looked familiar. She'd seen his script a thousand times, she knew the games he liked to play with words. Yet this, this was different. The location in coordinates she didn't understand, but the ship seemed to. The flight was going smoothly, and she'd had time to change back into the elegant black number she'd been wearing when she'd met him this time.

    It hadn't taken her mind off the note for long though, and she stood, staring at it, at that word. Yet, just as the Doctor hadn't believed in the Pandorica, River had never thought of this as anything real. It was a myth, nothing more.

    The TARDIS began to land as silently as it had left Alfava Metraxis. River checked the environment outside; air was breathable, but it was artificial. She checked the scanner, unsurprised to find the enclosed environs of a teleport station.

    She opened the doors, stepping out elegantly into the abandoned metallic shell of what once had been a thriving enterprise. The power was evidently limited to life support and, by the looks of it, one teleport booth.

    Wasting no time, River stepped into the cubicle, punching in the word from the paper. The coordinates appeared, the booth powering up immediately. Seconds later River was gone, the last of the power draining out of the station though momentarily leaving her destination illuminated on the display.





    The lighting in the craft was minimal. Amy tentatively moved further into it, scanning around for any sign of familiarity. There was an ominous noise all around her, rather feint now though perhaps once stronger and louder. It sounded to Amy like a mirroring of her own beating heart, steadily thumping as she ventured into the unknown.

    As she looked around she noticed three immobile figures, the shapes of which were all too familiar. It seemed like only days ago – had it been longer? She wasn't entirely sure – that she'd first seen them.

    She kicked one experimentally. No movement. "Ha! Beaten already Dalek! From what the Doctor said you were supposed to be the most feared beings in....ever. And look at you!" Despite her rather bravura performance, she was terrified inside. She knew not to under-estimate anything she came across in her travels with the Doctor, and this was no exception.

    She walked around the other apparently dormant creatures – three in total – eyeing them warily. As she passed each one, she rapped on the upper part of the casing, fully expecting at least one of them to move or speak. She circled them, racking her brains as to why they hadn't moved or even flinched.

    "Something is definitely not right here." She paused. "What would the Doctor do?" Amy saw a heavy looking something on the floor, and with all her might hefted it up and swung it at the nearest Dalek. "C'mon, move! I know you're not dead!" She swung again and again, hitting the casing repeatedly. Still no reaction. "Ok maybe, just maybe, I'm wrong and you all died in this crash. But why here? Why now?" She used her foot to kick at a Dalek, immediately regretting it. Luckily, no one was around to hear the language that followed.

    Amy, nursing a bruised foot, slowly made her way to the control panel at the front of the ship. As far as she could discern, half of the instrumentation had been burned out in the crash, the rest indecipherable to her without the aid of the TARDIS. There was little light coming from any of the sections, save for one half-sphere shaped protuberance. In her mind she could see why it was shaped as such, allowing the Daleks the ability to 'touch' the control, to manipulate whatever system of the ship that it pertained to. Even though she knew deep down that she shouldn't, she felt inexorably drawn to it, as if it were reaching into her mind, willing her to place her hand on it. She shook her head to be free of the force, trying to think of the Doctor, Rory, River, anyone or anything to focus her thoughts elsewhere. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, the object was still in front of her, and her hand was moving ever closer to it.

    Amy closed her eyes, desperately seeking to avoid touching that part of the ship. She had no idea what it would do, but it didn't feel in anyway safe or right or good. Opening her eyes, she could see that her hand was now hovering over it, her other arm gripping onto it, trying to pull it away. She knew that if she weren't so frightened of what might happen she'd laugh at the ridiculousness of the scene unfolding before her.

    Then, it happened. Her hand touched the control, fingers splayed around it. She stayed perfectly still, expecting the Daleks to move, yet they did not. The feeling that had forced her to reach out to the control in the first place was an overwhelming sensation throughout her body now, and her thoughts were shifting in perspective. Rory...that name meant something, but what was it? As hard as she tried, she could no longer focus on him, even picture his face.

    River Song...a name to be feared. Was that right? Surely not, they'd just been...what? No, it was fading, the memory dissipating the faster she tried to recall it. And then there was the Doctor. With his...striped, that wasn't right, his...leather jacket and cropped hair, no, that wasn't it...wavy hair, velvet coat....question mark umbrella...yellow trousers...fair hair....and....and....

    Amy's mind fought harder, attempting to remember him, the Doctor. She kept trying to bring him back in front of her, to imagine the picture of him that had been in her mind mere moments before...yet it wouldn't come.

    It was then that it happened, the image now clear. Not the actual visual likeness of the man, more what he represented. Burning deep into her brain were words that Amy had not known before, words that she had no reason to believe would ever relate to him. Yet, her perception was altered, memories shifted, changed, twisted to fit a new morality.

    The Oncoming Storm. The Enemy. He must be stopped. He must be EX-TER-MIN-ATED.




    The room was no different, save for the absence of the Doctor. The man stoked the fire, the embers floating in the feint breeze from the flue. In an adjacent chair to his own sat the other figure, the one the Doctor hadn't noticed before his abrupt departure. He was sat, a newspaper wide open, shielding himself from the view of any who glanced in his direction. It was no accident that he wasn't seen; that was exactly how he'd wanted it to be.

    The man stared across at him, waiting for the newspaper to lower, for his companion to speak about the events that he'd helped set in motion, but nothing was forthcoming. The screen that the Doctor had been watching was now shimmering, no fixed image visible.

    He thought about attempting a dialogue with the other, but thought better of it. He moved to the screen in an effort to resolve the problem, ready to pull wires or even use physical force should it be necessary.

    "It's not broken. The timelines are in flux. Until the Doctor does something you won't get any clear picture." The newspaper remained where it was, but the voice behind it was very clear; a trace of an accent possibly. "That's assuming he ended up in the right place. I have a feeling that things aren't as clear cut as they could be." The other paused. "And I should know."

    The man took a moment before responding. "And...and why is that?"

    The other rose, and pulled a small gun-like device from an inside pocket. "If I told you, I'd have to kill you." It was the smile on his face that let the man know that he wasn't joking. That and the searing heat that burned into his body as the end of the weapon glowed red.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

A World Without Angels - Part 1

So, a split finale! This here is part 1, and part 2 should follow on Wednesday, so I hope you enjoy this first part. After that, next weekend (or maybe a little later) will be the Xmas Special, which should be good fun and also will set things in motion for series 3...but more on that later.

For now enjoy the 11th Doctor and Amy, and come back for part 2....

A World Without Angels

    "Night's coming. The sun's gone, no clouds. Look at the stars, out in force tonight. But you're not here anymore. No one but me." He looked out at the sky with his one good eye, a look of sorrow crossing his face, mirroring the thoughts running through his mind at that moment. "I should have got in the way, should have saved you. At least I would have lived. Probably."
    He turned where he stood, away from the view out across the sea back in to a small pile of rocks marking what seemed to be a grave. The best he could do. A tear trickled down his cheek as he knelt to the ground, touching it with reverence. He barely held back further tears as he spoke. "Goodbye, Amy Pond."


12 Hours Earlier
    Everything was calm. All around the sea was still, the wind a gentle breeze. The storm had passed, the danger disappearing into a crack in time, forgotten. The journey out of the ship had been simplicity itself comparing to surviving amongst killers who almost defied logic.
    River stood, watching the Doctor comfort Amy, reassuring her that everything was fine now. River knew that no matter how calm things seemed there was always something that could potentially go wrong; especially if the Doctor was involved. She looked down at her wrists, trapped once more within the bonds of confinement. It could be freedom this time, she knew that. Yet, since the Angels had disappeared without a trace, would anyone know what had happened? Would they assume she had crashed the ship in an attempt to escape? Probably not, but she could never be sure.
    It was then that the plan began to formulate in her mind. He'd forgive her – he always had. And she'd wouldn't strand him here indefinitely – she couldn't; her own past depended on him. She watched in her periphery as he approached her, all the while thinking of the exact moment it had to be done.
    She glanced at him, then continued to look straight ahead. "" she raised her arms and looked to him, "handcuffs...must it always end this way?" She smiled playfully at him, noticing the smile on his own face.
    He leaned in. "What now?" He moved in front of River, his back to her momentarily.
    "Prison ship's in orbit. They'll beam me up any second. Which is why I've got to do this now." She reached forward, hands still bound, and plucked the sonic screwdriver from his pocket. Before he could object, she deftly released the catches on the handcuffs, placed them on the Doctor, and watched as he and the guard assigned to escort her were teleported away. 
    As he disappeared, she couldn't tell if it was a look of annoyance or amusement on his face. "Sorry sweetie, but I'll be back before you know it. And so will you."
    Whether he heard or not she wasn't sure, but the Doctor's departing cry of "Amy!" immediately alerted his companion to the situation.
    River was already running, Amy trying her best to keep up but falling behind. The situation on the Byzantium had drained her both mentally and physically, and she had little energy left. She watched helplessly as the older woman reached the TARDIS, clicking her fingers to open the doors.
    "River, wait! What are you doing?"
    River turned in the doorway. "Don't worry. Everything will be fine. At the moment there's something very wrong with the Doctor's timeline, and since I know he won't do anything about it, I have to."
    Amy was about to respond, but didn't get a chance before River continued. "And before you say you'll come, I can't let you. I can't tell you either, but you'll have to trust me." Amy watched as River closed the door and the TARDIS dematerialised soundlessly.
    "What choice have I got?" she said to herself, the solitary figure on the now deserted beach.


    The Doctor whirled around, dizzied by the effects of the teleportation device. "No, no, no, no, no, NO! Where am I, who are you and where is Amy? And River? And...and...." He tapped the side of his head, thinking. "It'll come to me, give it a minute. The old synapses tend to get a bit scrambled TARDIS! See, told you it'd come to me. The old synapses tend to..." He paused. "Did I just say that?"
    The cleric next to the Doctor looked slightly puzzled. "Say what sir?"
    The Doctor waved a hand around to dismiss the issue. "That's not the point. The point is why am I here? I'm presuming you meant to pick up Doctor Song, and if I'm not mistaken last time I looked I wasn't female. Unless I've regenerated again. Oh no, surely not. No, wait," his hand reached up to his face. "Ah, there it is, nice prominent chin. Still me!" He whirled around. "No, sorry. Distracted again, but more importantly I need to get back down to that planet. I need to get Amy away from there and that needs to happen now. So, zap me back down there and we'll forget all about it."
    The Doctor gave a short smile at the cleric, proffering his bound wrists. Yet, the cleric seemed unwilling to move, expressionless, simply staring at the Doctor. The Doctor waved his hands as best he could in front of the cleric's face, but no movement was forthcoming. He walked towards him, all around and prodded the man hard in the chest.
    Still no reaction.
    "Now, that is very interesting. And a little bit scary. Not a stasis field, I'd feel it. Some kind of time bubble? Perhaps, but why here? Why now? Is it some kind of residue from the crack or something far worse in fact and..." He stopped, suddenly realising that no one was there to listen. "This, Amy Pond, is why I need you around. If I start talking to myself I'm going to start going a little bit cuckoo and me plus bonkers isn't a good combination, so first things first. How do I get off this ship?"
    From nowhere, yet all around, came the sound of laughter. Not mocking or harsh, but a familiar gentle chuckle that the Doctor recognised all too well. The Doctor turned, and the source became readily apparent.
    In a wall was set a small screen on which was the face of an old man. Receding white hair and an aristocratic brow almost looked down at him, or would have had the screen been placed higher.      
    "So my boy, you've ended up here! Not where you should be, not where you should be at all!"
    The Doctor looked at himself, remembering how young he'd once been. "Now anytime I see me there's always some terrible danger so you showing up here is really very not good. Where are you broadcasting from?" He paused. "That's assuming you're not a recording, but then the time fluctuation here would seem to indicate that that's not possible, so..."
    The other Doctor coughed. "When you've quite finished! Where I am is of little importance at the present, but it'll all become clear in time. Your friend here has a message for It's all very confusing!"
    The Doctor raised his hands. "Yes, and I'm still in handcuffs! Tied up, stuck on a ship circling a planet that up until a couple of hours ago was full of rampaging statues, and now trapped in the middle of some time distortion! How is this getting any better any time soon?"
    He'd been unaware of the change on the screen, his younger self moving aside to reveal another figure. The one who'd seemingly trapped him in this situation.
    "Sorry sweetie! But trust me, there's a very good reason that I did what I did. Hold still." She pointed the sonic screwdriver – his sonic screwdriver – at the screen. Not wanting to question exactly how it had happened but grateful all the same, the Doctor nodded his thanks as the cuffs fell away from his wrists.
    "River! Where exactly are you? I thought this was your way off Alfava Metraxis, and now you're, what, on the other side of the galaxy?"
    She smiled at him, that same smile that seemed to somehow pierce through any hostility he could possibly have towards her. "Oh, much further than that. Can't say any more now though..."
    He waved his hands in irritation. "Yes, spoilers, I know. But why are you contacting me? You've trapped me up here for a reason."
    "So that I could send you this message of course." Her face turned from playful to serious in the blink of an eye. "When the time bubble bursts you'll have seconds to use the teleport to get back to the planet. I can tell you two things and two things only."
    The Doctor gesticulated. "Well hurry it up then. I know what these things are like! Get. To. The. Point."
    River raised an eyebrow. "Alright, keep you bow tie on! So, first of all remember that it will get better, but before it does it's going to get worse. A lot worse."
    "Right, worse then better. Ok, I can do that. What else?"
    River turned, looking behind her. "They're coming. But it's imperative that you stop them, make sure you count..." 
    With no warning at all, she seemed to disappear. Her and the other Doctor. No one was on the other end of the communication link, just a background of some kind of corridor. Yet in the background the Doctor was sure he could see...He cut the link quickly, dashed over to the still static cleric.
    Just managing to wrestle the teleport controls from the man's grasp, the Doctor closed his eyes and pressed a button.
    And vanished.


    Amy looked around at the deserted beach. No Doctor. No TARDIS. No River. She picked up a stone, skimming it across the water like she had as a child. Then another, and another, though the novelty had worn off by the time number four was picked ready for throwing. She dropped it back to the ground, cursing under her breath. 
    Looking up at the sky she noticed darkness beginning to creep into daylight. "C'mon Doctor! If you're not back here on the count of 5 then..." She stopped, realising that there was nothing she could say that would have any resonance, any real worth.
    She kicked the stones under her feet, holding back the urge to cry. All that she'd been through and now she was here, deserted on some alien world while the Doctor and his 'wife' were off on some jaunt. 
    It was then that she saw it, above her head. Fire streaking, setting the heavens ablaze. Amy wondered if it could be a meteorite or a comet, but the rate and shape of its descent didn't ring true with that theory. She'd not seen enough of them to be certain, but she was fairly sure it was some kind of spacecraft.
    "Whoever it is, they're going to need help, and since I'm all ALONE," she looked to where the Doctor had been minutes ago, "I'll have to do it by myself." She just stopped short of imitating the Doctor's "Come along Pond!" realising that that way lay a step closer to madness. 
    The encroaching darkness made it hard to find a safe path to where the ship was headed, as did the sulphurous air. Suddenly, and with an almighty noise, it made its presence on the planet felt, green-tinged smoke billowing up from where it had crashed.
    Amy pressed on, eager to arrive at the site and assist in any way she could. If she'd learnt anything in her short time travelling with the Doctor it was that wherever she went there was always someone in need of help. It didn't concern her that she could be walking into danger; she had no qualms whatsoever. Was she too trusting? She certainly wasn't naive. All those years waiting for him saw to that.
    As she drew nearer to the crashed ship the smoke became thicker, clogging her lungs, forcing her to use the sleeve of her top to try to breathe through. She shielded her eyes as best she could, the fumes stinging her eyes causing tears to fall in an attempt to clear the dust from them.
    The wreckage was becoming clearer, though Amy wasn't sure exactly what it was the remains of. It looked like...but it couldn't have been...could it? She shook her head, and the image before her eyes seemed to change, as if she'd not really seen the true form of the craft. Now it looked nothing like she'd ever seen before; battered metal, the exact shape of which she couldn't discern through the flames. She could see that a door appeared to, not a door. It seemed that the craft had been ripped open upon impact, the metal pulled apart like a tin of sardines.
    "Hello!" Amy shouted in the hole. "Is anyone alive in there?" Gingerly, she inched further forward, peering into the blackness of the ship. For a second, she swore she saw the image of a woman, slightly older than herself with dark hair, reaching out to her. In a moment she was gone.
    "Ghosts now Pond? C'mon, pull yourself together girl!" She attempted to reassure herself, but while outwardly she may have appeared her usual fiery self, inside she was scared. Her mind raced back to the Doctor, to him vanishing, to the TARDIS. None of these memories were of much comfort; she was still alone, with no apparent way off this planet. Then she thought of him, of Rory, and she smiled. Her breathing calmed, her resolve strengthened. Under her breath she muttered, "I'll coming back for you Rory Williams. We've got ourselves a wedding to have!" With that, she stepped into the darkness.


    The Doctor pivoted on one foot, spinning three hundred and sixty degrees. "...and this isn't Alfava Metraxis. So where is it? Can't trust this nasty 51st Century technology, full and bugs and glitches and...hello..." He stared at the clock on the wall. "Now that is not a piece of 51st Century technology, rather," he walked over to it, drawing in a deep breath, "early 21st century. So either someone is rather fond of antiques or somehow that time bubble has sent me back in time. Marvellous!" 
    A roaring fire was ablaze in a rather ornate looking hearth, two plush armchairs adjacent to it. From one of the chairs rose a man who stared at the Doctor for a full minute, the Doctor returning the gaze, a somewhat puzzled look on his face. The man then stepped forward, offering a hand in greeting.
    "Apologies, Doctor, but I had to be sure it was you."
    The Doctor took his hand and shook it a little uncertainly. "Riiiiight. So, you know me, but I have no idea who you are, what you are, where I am, when I am – well, a little bit on that one, early 21st century?" The man shook his head. "In that case I'm completely at a loss. So, let's start at the beginning and work from there."
    The man smiled. "Doctor, there are far more pressing matters than the trivialities of who, where and when."
    The Doctor seemed affronted. "Well I rather like those 'trivialities'. I need to get my bearings, find out what's going on. It may not be important to you, but it is to me. So," the Doctor took a seat in the other armchair, "explain."
    The man stood up to his full height. "I can do better than that Doctor, I can show you. Observe." The man pointed to the clock the Doctor had been inspecting, the fascia now replaced with what appeared to be a small screen. The Doctor peering intently at it, recognising the figure of Amy immediately. She seemed to be in a hurry, following a trail of dense black smoke that concealed her exact movements.
    "Doctor, Miss Pond needs to be stopped. If she enters that ship..."
    The Doctor turned away from the screen to stare expectantly at his companion in the room. "Yes? What if she enters that ship? What if she goes inside in an attempt to help any fallen or wounded?" And then he understood. "But how can you know what'll happen? You'd need some kind of prognostication device, some way to navigate the timelines to see all possible outcomes and...that's exactly what you've got, isn't it?"
    The man nodded slowly, no sense of victory or pleasure in his action. Before he or the Doctor could speak came the noise. Soft at first, but building gradually. It came from the screen, like a heartbeat only harsher, more metallic.
    The Doctor whirled round in horror. "No, no, not there, not now." He grabbed the man by the shoulders. "With all this power you have, you must be able to get me back there and you need to do it now. Amy Pond is about to walk into an ambush."
    The man put a hand out to silence any further words from the Time Lord's lips. "Of course I can, but you see you may not get there in time. It's a calculated risk Doctor, and there are those who will attempt to prevent it."
    "Haha! They've got no chance! I'm the Oncoming Storm; who's going to get in the way of that?"
    The man shook his head, reached over the Doctor and pressed a button set into the arm of his chair. "For your sake and for hers, I hope no one will. But be warned, this might not have a happy ending."
    The Doctor smiled. "Oh it will, and I'll make sure of that. Any trolls to be vanquished, I'm your m...." And with that he disappeared.
    The man looked wistfully at the space the other had occupied. "Good luck Doctor, the universe is counting on you."





Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Enemy Within

The penultimate story of series 2! Good grief, where's the time gone? What this means is that next week is finale time...and the week after is Xmas Special time! So, a busy couple of weeks for me! Anyway, back to this week, and it's the return of Matt Fitton who, after working wonders with the 8th Doctor last time, has done it again!

Enjoy it, it's another corker!
The man held himself with dignity and an air of aloof superiority despite the fact of being secured to his chair with chains. His chestnut curls were trimmed to an inch above his stiff white collar, which was encircled by a black silk cravat. A short black velvet jacket, over a waistcoat of silver brocade and smart charcoal trousers completed the look.
Alistair looked at him through the one-way glass, and felt a shiver as the man turned his head to gaze in his direction and seemed to fix on him with blue-gray eyes. The prisoner smiled, his lip curling with arrogance, then moved his head in a beckoning gesture to his unseen observer.
'Do come in and chat. I'd offer you a brandy, but I seem to have mislaid the key to my drinks cabinet.' He paused, lips pursed and surveyed the room's bare walls as if for the first time. 'And my drinks cabinet.'
Alistair glanced through the file in his hands one more time, before passing it to the sentry on the door.
'I'd definitely keep a close eye on this one,' he advised the young private as he waited for the door to be unlocked.
'Yes sir, Brigadier-General Sir.' The boy saluted, and Alistair entered the cell.
The prisoner once again gave a haughty smile. 'My dear Lethbridge-Stewart. What an unexpected pleasure.'
Unperturbed, Alistair pulled up a chair and settled himself across the table from the man. It was relief to be off his feet at last.
'Who are you, and what have you done with the Doctor?' He paused for a second, looking into the prisoner's icy blue eyes. 'Hang on... you're not him, are you?'
Striding across the Cloister Room in triumph, the Master hardly noticed the two bodies lying on the stone floor among the leaves. The transference had been even more successful than he dared hope. He shook the twisted manacles from his wrists, and threw down the spiked metal crown, twisted and burnt by the final burst of energy.
He didn't even glance at the dessicated husk sinking among the ceremonial Time Lord robes.
On his way to the Control Room, he missed the fact that dead leaves were falling thicker and faster around the surrounding columns. And most essential of all, he failed to see the great stone eye, just recently shining with light and energy, begin to fade and slowly, inexorably, close.
'Thank you, Doctor,' he breathed as he felt the blood – the Gallifreyan blood – pulsing through his veins. He ran a hand through his thick brown hair as he walked. Something of a change, but perhaps he'd keep it. The clothes, on the other hand, would certainly need attention.
He reached the console room at last. Yes, the Gothic appealed – that could stay too. Amused by the Doctor's candle-lit library, he strode onto the central dais and flexed his fingers over the controls.
'Thank you.' He started to chuckle.
'You're welcome...' came a strangely familiar voice at his ear. 'But I do wonder just how long your gratitude will last...'
Instinctively the Master spun round, but there was nobody there. He began to flick switches, turn dials, and press levers. But as he did so, each control he touched seemed to flicker and cut out. The lights across the console grew dimmer with each adjustment. Growing increasingly frustrated, he hit the console with a fist and reached up to pull down the scanner screen suspended above.
<LOCKDOWN INITIATED> was all it showed.
'No!' Frantically, the Master now raced to reach every last glimmer of life on the console, and coax it to do something. Anything, apart from fade and die.
The voice came again. And this time he knew precisely where it came from.
'Ooh. You don't want to be pressing that. Or that. Did you really think it would be that easy?'
'Doctor, this is impossible. What have you done?' he shouted in rage.
The voice explained. 'My predecessor was nothing if not a planner. And you've triggered his Emergency Shutdown. You know, I'd be looking for the door control unless you want to spend the rest of your – sorry, my – lives in a cold, dark room. Though I promise I'd be the best of company.'
The Master located the lever as the last lights faded on the console. The whole room was getting darker already, and the toll of the Cloister Bell was slowing and fading to nothing.
He turned and ran for the slowly opening doors.
'I will have your machine Doctor, and I will keep this body!'
'Oh don't you worry, I'm not going anywhere,' came the Doctor's voice from the back of his mind. 'Ever.'
'So, you remember nothing about Greyhaven and the Martians? Miss Summerfield? Miss Pollard? Malebolgia?'
The man just shrugged at each reference.
'You're not even pretending to be the Doctor, are you?'
'Come along, Lethbridge-Stewart. I knew you were a plodder, but surely even you can work this out.'
Alistair fixed his gaze on those piercing eyes. Something behind them was familiar, but he was sure now that it wasn't his friend in there.
He took in the black velvet, the leather gloves, and the man's bearing. The arrogance. It was the arrogance that sealed it.
That, and the report he'd just read, which detailed the destruction of one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.
'Good Lord, I suppose if the Doctor can do it again and again, there's no reason why you can't too.'
The man sat back in his chair with a triumphant smile and applauded. Slowly.
Alistair gave him a cold stare of his own.
'You'll be pleased to know we've kept your cell warm.'
The man seemed relieved. 'At least there'll be the chance of a decent cup of tea back in Blighty. The Californians are so very eager to please, but they seem incapable of letting the leaves stew for the right length of time.' His expression changed to one of seriousness.
'Yes. I am the Master, and I am more than happy to obey you.'
He grinned.
From his vantage point on the lowest strut of the south tower, the Master could see the deserted Golden Gate Bridge stretching out before him across the water toward the dusty brown Marin Headlands.
He turned to face the source of the gathering noise. Sirens and helicopter blades from the forces assembled at the edge of the city. This was more like it. After months of skulking in the underworld, he was finally getting the recognition he deserved.
It hadn't been particularly easy, to marshal the necessary resources and put his plans into action. But he had relished the opportunity to put this new body through its paces.
He brushed an invisible speck of dust from his black velvet sleeve with a leather-gloved hand.
Finding a decent tailor had been a particularly testing period.
Then there had been the other trouble. The Master concentrated intently, cleared his mind, allowed his thoughts to breathe.
The Doctor's residence in his mind had been gradually diminished, through an intense programme of self-hypnosis, meditation, and sheer force of will. He thought back to how he must have appeared in those first few weeks – wandering the streets, arguing incessantly with himself. Like a hundred other madmen on the streets of San Francisco.
Step by step, day by day, he had gained more and more ground from his old rival. Until he was finally able to set his own agenda and follow it through. After all, when it came to matters of the mind, he was the Master.
What precisely had happened to his old enemy, he wasn't entirely sure. Simply dormant, he suspected, gathering his strength for a renewed barrage. But he had formulated a plan to ensure he would be rid of the Doctor for good.
It had taken time, but he had acquired materials, facilities, and recruited assistants – both willing and not so willing. At the end of the current financial year, the San Francisco State University would be contemplating some rather unusual budgetary decisions in its Science and Engineering faculty. But the results would be seen by the world.
The Master contemplated the silver box in his hand. Once activated, it would send a signal to release the steel-devouring parasites he had developed and grown in the lab, and which were now deployed at intervals along the cables of the sunset-red suspension bridge. He had also arranged some on the north tower: he thought the collapsing effect might prove pleasing from this position.
A cherry-picker commandeered by the armed forces had pulled up below, and was slowly raising a platform toward him. He surveyed the array of armed men surrounding his tower and felt the weight of their assembled weaponry aimed at him.
It was good to be back.
'Mr Mayor, I see my transport has arrived.' The Master spoke into a microphone on his lapel. Hands-free was safest when scaling tall structures – he knew from experience.
As the rising platform drew level with his own, he raised both arms in surrender, and allowed one of the four soldiers to take the silver control unit. He could see more vehicles drawing up below: this time bearing the familiar winged insignia of UNIT.
'I see you have been as good as your word. Such obedience will not go unrewarded.'
He stood in silence with his armed companions until he was returned to earth. Then, he allowed himself a small smile as UNIT guards took over the escort duties and directed him toward a waiting trailer.
As they frisked him for weapons and prepared the manacles, the Master considered for a second, then pressed one hand to his breast pocket and activated the slimline secondary control unit he had secreted there.
It was a pity to let all that hard work go to waste.
'So you hold an entire city to ransom to get what you want. Then go ahead and destroy the bridge anyway when you do?'
'What can I say? It's been a while. I suppose I just got caught up in the moment. I'm so glad it got your attention.'
Alistair narrowed his eyes in contempt. He'd relished the time away from this room. A few hours for a wash and brush up, then more briefings while the Hercules was prepared and loaded with the… other cargo.
And further special arrangements had been made. He glanced at the attaché case he had brought with him and placed on the table.
'You don't change, do you? Well, now you're UNIT's problem once again. I wasn't due back to the UK till April. Happened to be in the next state, and I'm quite happy to take an early flight to make sure you get there in one piece.'
'A flying companion? Marvellous. Only, please don't hog the seat-arm. And don't have your headphones on too loud. I do find that noise irritating in the extreme. Do you know, will it be chicken or beef?'
There was a knock at the door. It opened, and Alistair nodded to the young private, who stepped aside as an upright trolley, furnished with straps, buckles and padlocks was wheeled into the room.
The Master threw his head back and gave a short laugh. 'Taxi for Mr Lecter! My, my... You're really not taking any chances are you?'
Alistair stood as the accompanying soldiers manoeuvred the prisoner into the restraints.
'Where you're concerned, we've learned not to. The hard way.'
He followed the gurney and its occupant through the corridors. His joints were feeling particularly stiff today, but it didn't do to let the men see you struggle. He might have to seriously consider using that cane after all. To make matters worse, the flight stockings were starting to itch already. He wouldn't bother with the blasted things, but Doris did worry with all the long-hauls he'd been taking recently.
The prisoner made the odd jovial comment to his guards, but Alistair stayed well out of his eye-line. He felt responsible for the damnable fellow, but wanted as little to do with him as possible.
At last they reached the waiting Hercules, and the Master was wheeled up the cargo ramp. He laughed aloud again as he saw a familiar blue oblong shape lying in the otherwise deserted hold. There was the sound of marching footsteps as a column of troops began to file on board.
'You found her then? I did think about leaving a note. But it probably wouldn't have lasted. Terrible area for crime... Gangs... Muggings...' The Brigadier walked round to the front of the trolley and the Master threw him an inquisitive look. 'Shootings?'
Two of the UNIT troops took position on either side of Alistair: the young guard from earlier, and a young woman. Alistair handed his attaché case to the boy, who held it up so he could enter the combination.
'Oh yes. We're not as clueless as you think. We've pieced together some of the facts. A very confused report from a motorcycle officer. A gunshot victim picked up at the same scene, whose records mysteriously disappear. As does his body.
'Then his surgeon disappears too – a pretty young thing by all accounts.
'An ambulance driver from the same hospital – also vanished. His wife found murdered in her bed.'
One corner of the Master's mouth ticked upward. Alistair flicked open the case.
'Not to mention your face. It's been seen before. By me. As has that gunshot victim's, from the hospital closed-circuit television.
'I'm not entirely certain how it all fits together yet, but somehow I think you've switched places with the Doctor. We have you; we have his TARDIS – so I'm sure that sooner or later he'll turn up. But until he does, we'll keep you both securely under lock and key.'
'Who needs in-flight entertainment when I have you, Brigadier? I'd applaud you again, but…' The Master glanced regretfully down at his cuffed wrists.
'Don't you worry,' Alistair said as he picked something up from inside the case. He held out a syringe to the female officer. 'The only concern I'll have on this flight is whether or not you snore.'
The young medic loosened the Master's collar and pulled away the cravat.
'Don't lose that. It's bespoke.' He gave the medic a disconcerting grin again, as she pressed the needle to his neck. 'You don't seriously think knockout drops are going to work, do you?'
Alistair allowed himself a smile. 'Not your common-or-garden knockout drops, no. But this is a very special variety, prepared by Miss Elizabeth Shaw, and kept on stand-by at all international UNIT command centres. Tailored to your own physiognomy, I'm given to understand. Time Lord knockout drops. I believe a Doctor or two may have helped with the recipe.'
Alistair took some pleasure in seeing the prisoner's composure finally shaken. The Master's eyes widened, and he struggled as the syringe's contents made its way into his system. 'No, no, no, no… No!'
'Such a fuss about such a little prick…' Tutting to himself, Alistair went to take his seat for the flight.
The Master never even heard the engines fire for take-off.
He looked out across the bright white void.
He could make out a figure. For want of anything else to do, he made his way toward it.
It was the Doctor, of course. As he had been: in that ridiculous long green velvet coat, the hair unruly and chaotic. He was humming a jaunty tune.
Floating in front of the Doctor was a battered navy blue suitcase with the lid hanging open. He was folding a garishly coloured patchwork quilt into a more manageable size. Wait – he glimpsed a lapel... It wasn't a quilt at all.
'I was wondering when you might turn up,' the Doctor addressed him without looking up.
The multi-coloured coat had gone. Into the suitcase. Now, the Doctor was weighing a black furred Astrakhan hat in one hand, and a broad-brimmed floppy felt one in the other. He dropped the Astrakhan into the case and took a rolled-up cream Panama hat from under his other arm. He unfurled it and looked up.
'You can never have too many hats.' The Doctor looked into the middle distance and furrowed his brow in concentration. 'Or is it heads? Too many heads? I always get them confused.' He dropped the two hats into the case and faced his visitor.
'So, how've you been?'
'You are still here after all, Doctor. Or am I just dreaming you?'
'Oh, I'm as real as you want me to be. You're the Master here, after all.'
The Doctor was now lowering a black umbrella into his luggage, holding it by its curved red handle. Despite being far too long to fit, the umbrella disappeared into the case.
'I will be rid of you soon enough Doctor. I have plans.'
'Ah yes, you and your plans. You always have plans. Ridiculous and convoluted plans, but always endearingly predictable.'
The Master narrowed his eyes. 'Tell me, if I am so predictable, what is my next move?'
'Well that's just too easy,' the Doctor smiled, pointing a wooden recorder at him. 'You're giving yourself away, Master, or should I say, Professor… Keller.'
The Master looked down. In front of him had appeared a black dome, fixed onto a short opaque column. It sat on top of a flat base equipped with dials and meters. He looked down at himself, seeing an immaculately cut charcoal Saville Row suit, and in his left hand, a large and opulent smoking cigar. He touched his silver-grey tie, then his own face: he felt bristles on his chin, a moustache, a Roman nose, and a high, distinguished brow. He looked at his reflection in the highly-polished surface of the machine.
He was himself. He chuckled malevolently.
'Always good to see a familiar face, Doctor. And how fitting that you should be aware of the engine of your own destruction. The Keller machine was built to manipulate and contain the mind. I spent some time in Switzerland working on several prototypes, which your UNIT friends saw fit to seize. They will yet prove useful.'
The Doctor was ignoring him, and humming the tune again, adding the words of the chorus as he folded an extravagantly frilled shirt into the case.
'Off she went with a trumpety-trump. Trump. Trump.' He looked up again. 'Trump. I'm sorry, were you saying something?'
'I'm glad to see that you are preparing for departure, Doctor. But what does one pack for oblivion?'
The Doctor looked at the floating blue case as if seeing it for the first time. 'Oh, this old thing? It's not for me. No, no, no, not for me at all.' He grinned at the Master and promptly vanished.
The Master frowned, strode over to the case and looked inside. There was no sign of the Doctor's rag-bag of clothing and accoutrements. Inside was just black: folded black velvet, with a pair of neatly folded black leather gloves resting on top, beside a pair of large black sunglasses.
He picked up the glasses, looked at his reflection once again.
And saw the Doctor's face staring back.
The Master awoke with a start. He flexed his arms. Free once more.
A blank white ceiling filled his vision. He blinked twice, then sat up and took in his surroundings.
As good as his word, the Brigadier had brought him back to England. He recognised the place as one of the UNIT holding facilities in the shires. He had passed through a few of them on several previous occasions en route to more secure accommodation. It looked like the security here had been upgraded considerably since his last visit. Beyond the bars he could now see a further transparent barrier: glass or plastic of some sort, with a key-card entry system.
His sparsely furnished cell contained a bunk, a sink, a bucket, and not much else. It was around ten feet square, painted white – quite recently if his nostrils were not mistaken.
Reminded of his confrontation – or was it hallucination? – the Master ran his fingers over his face once again. Yes, the Doctor's stolen features were still his. There seemed to be no ill effect from the tranquilising drug, but his wrists were sore where the straps had chafed. Lethbridge-Stewart would be made to pay for that indignity.
He turned his thoughts to more important matters. The Master concentrated. Closed his eyes. Found the still point.
'Come out Doctor, where are you?'
'I know you're there somewhere…' He thought he sensed a presence – but catching him was like holding onto a dream on waking.
His old enemy was obviously not going to be summoned on demand: but soon that would not matter. He would be forcibly ejected from wherever he was hiding.
The Master looked around the cell once more. There was a camera in the top corner above the bunk, protected by a perspex screen.
He stood and rattled the cell's bars.
'I'm afraid I've been taken ill. Would you like to open my cell to check on me?' he called down the empty corridor.
Beyond the bars and the glass wall that enclosed them – bulletproof, he assumed – two armed UNIT soldiers jogged into view.
He could see a third and a fourth taking position at either end of the corridor. Each of them had a key-card dangling from their belt.
'I'm so sorry. I thought I requested a room with a view,' he smiled apologetically at the two men. They waited for a moment, then shrugged to each other, turned, and walked away.
The Master sat on his bunk, removed his jacket and attended to a loose thread in the cuff of his shirt.
Everything was proceeding according to plan.
The Master chose not to dream. He had far too much self-control for that.
But at moments of rest, instances of reflection, there was… something.
A drumbeat.
No, not a drum. It was more than that…more than a rhythm.
A tune.
Dum-de-dum, diddy-dum diddy-dum. Dum. Dum. Dum.
In his meditation it vaguely annoyed him, but no more than that.
And when he was awake, it was dismissed, and he continued with his work.
Four days later, the Master removed the last of the latex disguise from his face. He discarded the light blue engineer coveralls, and retrieved his favoured velvet jacket from his holdall. He shrugged it on and looked around.
The Black Archive. Its contents were his for the taking.
But there was only one thing he was interested in. He pulled the stolen PDA from the holdall and consulted the schematic. He needed to be three levels down.
Quickly, he found the elevator, reached the right floor, then searched the stacks with a pen-torch.
At last, he found the crate marked K-S-9906753. Taking the crowbar from his holdall, he made short work of the container. Inside were smaller metal boxes, holding some of the by-products of his experiments in Switzerland. And one more vessel: a foot-long black, translucent tube. It clicked smoothly open at his touch to reveal a shifting black plasma which coated the inside of the capsule. The Keller capsule.
He worked quickly, using the circuitry from his hold-all to rig a temporary control panel for the capsule. He fed the dormant cloned cells from the other metal containers into the main capsule. They were rudimentary copies of the original alien parasite, but they should suffice. Of course, most of the Keller technology was reliant on the power of the mind, so it was just as well that he was the Master of such things.
He concentrated on the capsule: he saw the void within, ready for its new occupant. He sought through the furthest reaches of his mind, visualising the Doctor. Seeing him fall, watching him slip down, down, down the elephant's trunk.
No, that wasn't right. He checked the control circuitry.
Perhaps instead, he should connect the elephant to the elephant. The Master shook his elephant to try to clear it. Shook his… head.
He looked up and straight at a mirror image of himself. No, not himself.
The Doctor.
'Time to say goodbye to the circus, Master.'
'What are you doing… to… me? Doctor…'
'No. Not doing… Done. Past tense. I've just been telling you what you wanted to hear. You are the Master of my mind, that sort of thing.'
'What have you done… to my mind?'
The Doctor took on an admonishing tone, as if scolding a small child. 'Again, no. Not yours. Mine. You've been an unwelcome guest. One who's stayed too long and drunk all the milk. Finished the bread and not been to the shops. Left the stereo on full blast and hasn't turned out the lights… You get the idea.'
'But I subdued you. I reduced you to a whisper in your own consciousness.'
'But a whisper was all I needed. To keep you busy. And plant little suggestions of my own. Get captured by UNIT. Break into to the Black Archive. Find the Keller experiments. I knew you'd find a way.'
'You mean, this, the Keller capsule-
'-was my idea.' The Doctor paused for a response. Receiving none, he continued, 'You're welcome.'
The Master had no words left. The Doctor's smirking face made a mockery of all his planning, all he thought he had achieved to get to this point. All part of the Doctor's trickery.
The Doctor loomed above him, growing larger by the second. Laughing.
'Please, Brer Fox, whatever you do, don't throw me into the briar patch! You should really extend your reading material beyond Sun Tzu, you know.' The laughter stopped abruptly as he ran his hands through his shortened locks. 'And what have you done to my hair?'
No, the Doctor wasn't growing. The Master was shrinking. He felt himself slipping, falling back. Back. Into the capsule.
'No… Please, Doctor. Have pity…'
'Pity, you say?' The Doctor's face hardened, eyes narrowed and a steely tone entered his voice. 'One word, Master – Grace. As soon as you'd used her to open the Eye, you killed her. I made sure she was the last. I couldn't stop you from doing most things, but at least nobody died by these hands.
'You want dominion over creation, yet all you do is destroy. Well, that ends. Now.'
The Master felt as if the ground had been pulled from beneath him, and his only sensation was one of falling. An everlasting drop, never knowing when the final jolt might come. In a last desperate bid to assert his existence he used all the energy of his failing mind to call out to his foe.
'I… Am… The … Master… And … You… Will…'
'Oh, do shut up.' The Doctor snapped closed the lid of the Keller capsule. Then blinked as the lights across the whole floor flickered into life.
Alistair made his way down from the gantry surrounding the archive crates. He was alone: he'd refused an accompanying bodyguard, though troops were stationed outside. He'd brought his stick though – just in case.
'Is it… you, Doctor?'
The Doctor raced over to meet the old soldier at the foot of the stairs and gave him an enormous hug.
Shrugging off his attentions, Alistair pointed his walking stick at the shining black pod on the floor.
'He's in there, is he?'
'What's left of him. The Keller capsule contains the consciousness: it has an affinity for negative thoughts, so he's like catnip for it.'
The shifting plasma inside the pod swirled madly. For a second Alistair could have sworn he saw a face – a demonic, furious face.
'Well done, Alistair.'
'I can't take all the credit. You basically told me what I needed to do on the flight over. Let him escape and gain access to the Black Archive. But don't make it too easy. Or obvious. You were remarkably talkative for a man who'd been rendered unconscious.'
'Sorry, I had to rush. I didn't know how long the sedative would give me. But you trusted me - it could easily have been a ruse.'
'Well, you did keep breaking into a rather rousing rendition of Nellie the Elephant. Somehow, I can't see that being in his repertoire. Oh, and you asked after Doris, too. Something else I can't imagine him doing.'
'Oh yes. Nellie's been a great help. You see, I could build my own little enclave inside his consciousness through repetition – a chant, a song, any old nonsense, just to create a barrier and stay under his radar. I haven't been this me for very long, you see. I needed some time to regroup – to find myself, if you like. Although, when there are eight of you, it's hard to get lost.
'Eight now is it? And they all live in there? Inside your head?' Alistair peered at the sincere, earnest face with its frame of dark curls.
'After a fashion. And believe me, there are some very strange fashions… By the way,' the Doctor stretched his fingers in front of his face to mime a prominent proboscis, 'He sends his regards.'
He was now searching the pockets of the unfamiliar jacket, then felt at his collar and finally produced a silver key on a chain around his neck. 'The TARDIS?' he asked.
'It's right outside, Doctor.'
The Doctor scooped the Keller capsule under one arm, and placing his other over Alistair's shoulder, he swept him back toward the elevators.
'Now, if I haven't already exhausted your generosity, Alistair, I just need to ask one last favour…'
'I'm alive!' cried the victorious Master as the unfettered life-force pulsed through the ravaged cadaver he inhabited.
All but vanquished, the Doctor himself felt the last vestiges of energy being drained from his body. The Eye of Harmony was acting as a conduit for the elemental forces, channelled through the filter of the Time Vortex. He had never been so close to nothingness.
'This… can't be… how it ends!' he cried in despair.
Then he saw his chance. As his living energy was drained, there was a void in his being, which – if he concentrated on the Eye, on his TARDIS's Eye – he could use in a last ditch bid for survival. His was the Gallifreyan body, the natural home of these forces: his opponent's was barely more than an animated corpse – and a human one at that.
He extended his final, summoning thoughts toward the Eye, and through it to his enemy's body, replete with the living energy of two Time Lords. With all the strength he had left, he held open the channel. The emptiness in his own being acted as a vacuum, pulling back the whole: Doctor and Master together in one mind and body.
His mind and body.
Exhausted by the effort of will, the Doctor's essence retreated and hid. Trapped within the confines of his own mind, virtually powerless, he felt the burning as the energies of the Vortex suffused his body, melting and twisting the metal that held him. At the same time, he could feel the Master's control growing, bolstered by the power of the Vortex and sheer will to survive.
Then, he felt nothing.
'Now what?' he wondered.
He suddenly seemed to find himself in an empty white void.
No, not empty.
There, in the distance, he could see figures moving slowly toward him.
Seven of them.
Of course, it had burned his eyes like billy-o, but Alistair hadn't protested. Odd thing was, right after looking into that shaft of light, Alistair could swear that his joints felt a little less stiff. And he was getting the feeling back in his left shoulder. Suddenly the great stone ball in the middle of the – Cloister Room, was it? – had started to shake. It seemed to split, and gradually opened – like some sort of immense eye.
The Doctor had stood over it, watching in silence. Then he'd dropped the black Keller capsule into the swirling energies within. With a glance toward one of the archways, he had turned and walked back toward the Control Room.
Alistair had followed his glance and started in shock at what was there.
Now back in the Control Room himself, he was wondering if he'd imagined the sight. Actually, now he concentrated, wasn't his vision a little better too? Alistair blinked and took in the Gothic arches and elaborate columns around the TARDIS central dais.
'I see you've redecorated. A bit ostentatious isn't it?'
The Doctor's face was set in concentration as he watched the TARDIS controls flicker back into life. 'My predecessor: he got rather melodramatic in his old age. I have to say, I rather like it.'
'Erm, Doctor. I couldn't help noticing, but there appeared to be a couple of bodies back there…'
The Doctor frowned in silence. Then looked up at the scanner: he pulled the screen down on its extended arm. 'Temporal Orbit? What's a Temporal Orbit?' He looked into the middle distance for a moment, the suddenly slapped his own forehead. The Doctor's face lit up as he practically danced around the console. 'You sentimental old thing…'
Before Alistair could ask who on earth he thought he was talking to, the Doctor was racing back toward the Cloister Room where two of the luckiest humans on the planet were waking.
From death.
The boy would be an administrative nightmare. Chang Lee was wanted in his own country in connection with a number of criminal activities, but the Doctor had been most insistent. He shouldn't be allowed to return to the US until January 2001 at the earliest. Discipline was what he needed, and so Brimmicombe-Wood could take him under his wing. Alistair was sure he'd be fine with him.
The surgeon – who had proved just as feisty as Alistair had come to expect from any female acquaintance of the Doctor – still seemed undecided. He had offered her a flight home, but Dr Holloway seemed rather taken with the Doctor's company.
She was in the TARDIS now, as Alistair said goodbye to his old friend outside in the UNIT grounds.
The Doctor seemed to be in two minds about something. He started a tentative query. 'Those things you were telling me – him – about… Martians?'
'Oh the Ice Warriors at British-'
Suddenly the Doctor clamped his hands over his ears. 'Shh-shh-shh! I mustn't know. Not yet. I've only just become me. Can't wait to see what I get up to.'
'Well, I'm sure you'll be fine. Do take care of the young lady won't you?'
There was a glint in the Doctor's eye that took Alistair by surprise. 'Don't I always, Brigadier?'
'Just… look after yourselves.' He began to walk away from the TARDIS. 'Oh, and Doctor,' Alistair called. 'If you're going to San Francisco…'
'Be sure to wear some flowers in my hair?' the Doctor flashed a grin. 'Sorry Alistair, go on?'
'They may need some help with a rather large bridge-building project.'
'Ah yes. Sorry about that. I had some control over what he did, but not necessarily how he did it.' He rubbed his chin as if considering several possibilities. 'But my destination is rather dependent on my passenger,' he glanced through the open TARDIS door, then stepped toward his old friend. 'Thank you, Alistair…' The Doctor took his hand in both of his and shook it warmly.
'Always a pleasure, Doctor.'
'I'm so glad I'll be seeing you again, though mum's the word, eh?' With a conspiratorial wink and a smile, the Doctor disappeared through the door. Alistair could hear the two of them gabbing away inside.
'So, Grace? Straight home? Or perhaps you'd like a little detour first? The moons of Rigel Beta are rather spectacular at this time of year…'
'And what time of year is it?'
'Any time you like. This is a time machine after all. Now, where was I…?'
The door closed, and the TARDIS lantern began to flash as the engines started their rumble.
Alistair's lips settled into a wry smile. He shook his head as the familiar blue box faded from view.
Some things never changed.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Malleus Maleficarum

A little later in the day than usual, but it's finally here! Rachel Morgan has tackled the Third Doctor this week, and there are one or two surprises...
Malleus Maleficarum

    Words have power, they can control reality itself, if you know how. The right word in the right place at the right time can change the world. Imagine if Brutus was three hours late to that meeting and the others had given into their fear, would Caesar have survived instead of being assassinated? Maybe. What if one tired old woman had acquiesced to the strange demands of a bigot and moved to the back of the bus, would a large segment of a society still be brutally oppressed simply because of the melatonin levels in their skin cells? Possibly. Words have power, they have meaning, and they are a part of our very culture. They define us in ways we can barely comprehend sometimes, they can free and imprison with equal ease.

    Tomás de Torquemada was angry and anger was a pox upon the soul. Only the blood of that accursed witch Sabrine would cleanse himself and the land of Italy and by extension the world of her foul evil. She taunted him everywhere he went, always killing off his best guards and leaving him vile reminders of his failure to capture her and cleanse her soul of her disgusting ungodly ways. "Muerte de la vil bruja Sabrine!" Death to the vile witch indeed.

    "Italy." The Doctor, travelling meddler and wine taster, announced proudly, like he'd just had 8 draws come up in the football pools. "You'll love Italy, Sarah Jane." His careworn face rearranged itself into a wide smile. "Fine wine, good food, excellent table conversation. As I said to Alexander the Great, you can't visit Italy without trying the food."
    "I never know when you're being serious." Sarah Jane Smith, reporter, replied. "You drop more names than a back bench MP filling in at a royal gala event because his boss got plastered in the jaguar before he got there. Of course what we really need is a woman prime minister, she'd soon sort you lot out."
    The Doctor smiled wistfully. "Be careful what you wish for!" He gave the controls a quick once over, air, gravity and radiation levels were all in the clear. Then with the flick of a switch he opened the doors. "After you m'dear."
    "No." Sarah smiled. "After you." If there were Daleks or Ice Warriors out there she wanted the Doctor to use as a shield before she came up with a great plan to defeat them, or offer them an exclusive interview if things went that way instead.

    Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, so they say. They're wrong of course, Chocolate Oyster Surprise is, but it's still a good saying all the same. Power is a catch-all term for a lot of things. Wealth, the ability to buy what you want, is one form of power. Influence, the ability to get someone to do what you want them to do, is another sort of power. Position, gaining a job or title that has inherent properties to give the bearer more gravitas than they otherwise would have, is a third form of power. Then there's physical power, the path of violence, self destructive in the end as the attacker inevitably becomes the attackee. The mere threat of violence as a form of control is used by the bully, someone with no real skill or ability except the means to intimidate others into doing things they themselves are unable to do.

    Sarah Jane felt sad as she moved along the streets. What she really wanted was to be back on Peladon, in the arms of Thalia. They both knew it couldn't last; they were women of two very different worlds, neither of which were very tolerant of homosexuality. In many ways Peladon was as backwards as the city she was in now, and yet they had made alien contact a dozen times over and shown remarkable maturity about it all. She thought of her own times, the people there were much less tolerant; half the world would welcome alien visitors with open arms and the other half with loaded guns.
    The Doctor was an alien, he was strange and magical and wonderful and yet for all of that there was something desperately sad about him. She knew he'd recently lost a close friend, Jo, as she'd gone off to get married and start a life in Brazil with him. That sort of thing was not for her, and she wasn't the settling down kind and if she ever was then it wouldn't be with a man that was for certain. Unless it was some sort of sham marriage to a gay man so they could both present as a married couple in public and in private they could be with their preferred partners.
    She thought back to her brief relationship with Claire. Claire had been three years older, twenty years more cynical and had actually burned her bra in public, much to the astonishment of her fellow radical feminists who were all talk and no action. The problem with Claire was and is that Claire only loves Claire. Sarah Jane felt that if she could get a mirror and a tape recording of her own voice then she'd have her perfect woman.

    Jacques Duvall was not remotely French; in fact he wasn't even human but a Frenchman in an Italian city is just foreign enough to be excused the sorts of social faux pas that a native would never make. Like all agents of the Eternals he'd had his whole physical appearance changed so that he looked like one of the local inhabitants of the world he'd been assigned to. Last month he was something more akin to a centipede and the month before that he was pretty much a splodge of goo in a lake of more goo. His ongoing mission was to track down the last remaining Carrionite terrorist and deliver her to his masters for a reward and a respite from being assigned another mission for a cycle of rest and relaxation on a pleasure planet: resident or visitor didn't matter as long as he got some time off to do his own thing which was basically drinking a great deal, playing cards and most likely waking up the next day with a horrific hangover. He was delighted that he'd been able to do this on work time on this particular planet. If it wasn't for the stupidity of the natives he might almost like it.
    Jillian Duvall was currently the wife of her best friend and business partner. Being an uber-macho alpha male personality, the irony of being female on this planet was not lost on her. The Eternals installed the typical background information of the human species in their heads and she'd honed her figure into a solid mass of she-muscle and sinew so that she was far stronger and more powerful now than she was the last time she was a biped humanoid species. She could cope with the weird biology, strange clothing fashions and even the footwear but the next man to goose her would get his arm ripped off slowly and painfully.


    The streets were bright and open and they entered a wide plaza that was full of merchants selling everything from food to clothes to all sorts of jewellery and there was even a stall that sells manure. Sarah Jane wrinkled her nose and moved to the other side of the Doctor. "Let's go somewhere upwind of this lot."
    "You can tell a lot about a civilization by the way the use their manure." The Doctor began a long lecture. "Most use it to fertilize their crops or in building non-permanent structures. In your time they simply pump it out into the sea and hope the consequences of such ecological terrorism don't happen in their life times. I'd tell them that it will but they wouldn't listen to me. There's nothing so firmly closed as the human mind in denial."
    For a brief second Sarah Jane wondered if the Doctor suspected that he knew she was gay. She'd been careful to keep things like that hidden behind false names and the like. Her first girlfriend Christine had been referred to as her boyfriend Chris to all the girls in the office. She could talk freely about things then, it was a simple code and one she personally hated but people were bigoted about trivial things like sexual orientation. Allowing themselves great privileges and powers to those in a majority like themselves and harshly and often savagely denying the same things to those a little different simply because they didn't want them to have them out of arrogance, ignorance and spite. One day a marriage between two women would have equal value to that of a woman and a man, she'd seen the future, it happened and she dearly wished she could stay there and find a woman to marry but travelling with the Doctor was even more exciting and it would scoop her a ton of journalistic awards when she published her articles.

    Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger knew they weren't the only team of bounty hunters on this dull little world, but they were the best. They used the native species to do their work for them. All it took was a little time to learn the local language and then they could produce their propaganda as and when required. In time the locals would think of looking for Carrionites as their own idea, so what if the more stupid of the species got carried away and the more intelligent used the opportunity to get rid of their rivals. The actions of lesser beings were hardly their concern.

    The students were weak, inferior beings. The gift of creation was wasted upon them with their dull minds and vacant eyes. They were barely above the beasts in the fields in her opinion. Sabrine wanted the company of an equal, a woman with a truly gifted intellect to match her own. She was rapidly coming to the conclusion that her time of this planet was wasted in her search to find an apprentice, she'd all but given up hope on finding one woman who could open her mind to the Carrionite way.
    A true mistress of the Carrionite teachings had to have four essential qualities: A thirst for power, a need to submit to authority or exert it as requires, a certain creativity regarding retribution and most importantly the necessary mindset to know the natural superiority of the female of every species over their inferior males, something even the Daleks knew to be true as there had never been a male Dalek bred since Davros' earliest experiments.
    Obedience was necessary because without complete submission to the will of her teacher the acolyte could make a mistake and her training would lead to an inferior end product. Every trainee must put aside her personal quest for power when she was but a pupil but never forget it completely or she would never be a truly successful wielder of the magic. It wasn't enough merely to defeat an enemy, anyone could do that; what set a student and later a mother apart was her creativity in selecting the perfect spell to vanquish her foe to elicit a certain amount of irony and pleasure from the act. As the magic was borne from life, so the potential to create life was key in the shaping and honing of a true mother; males were not allowed access to any of the craft secrets as they would merely destabilise the complex magical fields that a female worked with and shaped to her needs.

    Jacques and Jillian approached the tall white haired man. He was obviously an alien; they could tell from his eyes and the cursory biometric scan of his system revealed little in common with the natives of his planet. "Are you here for the bounty too? We've never seen a hunter like you before."
    "Certainly not one who carries any weaponry." Jillian ran her hands over the man's body; it was muscular but not bulky. Strong and powerful but also agile and spry. He was a tracker, a stalker, a predator of guile and cunning. He was a wolf while they were more like mighty bears. "What's this?" She took out a small metal tube. "It's not very big at all is it?"
    "Madam." The Doctor smiled. "It's not what you have it's entirely how you use it." The Doctor held out his hand. "That is a sonic screwdriver, a handy tool. I have no use for weapons."
    "You're a cocky one." Jacques smiled. "I think I like you, no one lives as long as you have without being good at what he does."
    "My dear sir no one I've met has lived as long as I have," the Doctor said sharply. "I'm over two thousand years old."
    "Bullshit," Jillian replied. "You got your own spectrox mine?"
    "A what mine?" The Doctor asked. "Never mind, I'm here with a friend doing a little sight seeing. If you would be so good to allow me on my way?"
    "Of course," Jacques replied with a mock bow. "Come along Jillian, let us leave the man to enjoy his, what was it? Sight seeing? Yes. Do enjoy."
    "Complete amateur," Jillian scoffed.
    "He mewls like a prattling buffoon, but his eyes are sharper and colder than the meanest son of a nebula who gave us this job. He's up to something alright but unless he gets in our way I really don't want to cross paths with him. Something about him says we'll come off worst and I don't want that blemish on our records, you know they don't forgive mistakes."


    Sarah Jane saw her as a coweled figure, all shadowy and vague. Yet she could sense the power around her. It was intoxicating and she was drawn to her like a magnet to its opposite pole.
    "Come let me borrow, give your heart to me, daughter of tomorrow." Sabrine chanted the simple spell of attraction.
    "Hello." Sarah Jane said simply. "I'm called Sarah."
    "Nothing could be fairer than a pretty flower called Sarah." Sabrine smiled. "You have potential. Tell me what do you know of the power of women?"
    "Everything." Sarah Jane smiled. "We're changing the world where I come from. It's been a long time coming but now we're taking what is owed to us."
    "Could you have the strength to take the whole world?" Sabrine mused. "Do you want the power to control men like puppets? To ride the sky like a hawk? Do you yearn to learn how to control the very elements themselves? I can teach you all of this and more."
    Sarah Jane wasn't quite sure how much of the strange woman's words were boasting and how much were truth. Obviously she was some sort of alien but she suspected that any alien that wanted to help womankind couldn't be a bad alien. "OK, I'm all ears."

    Tomás was annoyed. "Es más difícil de honor de una mujer en una ramera house." He hated women in general because he was a priest and intelligent women in particular because they tended to speak out against the god-given right of men to rule the world in his name.

    The Doctor looked around and saw a distinct lack of Sarah Jane Smith. At first he thought she'd just wandered off to see things for himself, but Sarah Jane was a reporter, she was always asking him questions, not because she wasn't intelligent but because she was intelligent and constantly wanted answers to all the questions that she could think of. If she wasn't here then it was highly unlikely that she wandered off on her own, more likely some third party had intervened to either kidnap her or lure her away somehow.
    "Lost your mare then have you?" Jacques sneered at his rival. "You're rubbish at this, give it up and be a gardener or something harmless like that."
    "Have you seen Sarah Jane?" The Doctor asked. "Have you kidnapped her?"
    "Us?" Jillian scoffed. "Do me a favour. We wouldn't know we'd beaten you fair and square if we cheated. We may be scoundrels, rogues and thief-takers but we do have a code of ethics. We'll best you, believe that, but to be the greatest we have to earn that right. Abducting primitives and holding them hostage? We're more the shoot people dead type. Know what I mean?"
    "Besides we know who took your precious little filly." Jacques grinned. "She did, the one we're all after. I had my gun lined up on her and then they started talking. At first I thought it was a trap of yours, a decoy. That made me angry, but then I saw them smiling and walking off and I realised that she'd got to your strumpet and turned her against you. Oh how I laughed then."

    Sarah Jane smiled as she felt the power of the Carrionites within her skin. She felt so good, so alive, so in control of herself. With a word she would blacken the sun and darken the sky. She could turn the moon red and boil the seas. She was power, she was control, she was the instrument of Carrionite freedom. She would save her people, she would rescue them. She would give them justice, liberation and freedom. She would be their saviour. They deserved to live, they deserved to exist, they were much more worthy than mere human beings. She felt sorry for humanity and was glad that she'd left that species far behind.

    The Doctor could sense the wrongness of it all. Space-Time was being warped, horribly twisted and mutilated, it was the cosmic equivalent of a fire alarm going off inside of a fire station – it was that dangerous. "Where are they then?" He protested. "That sorry collection of traffic wardens will be skulking around here somewhere, they always send someone to keep an eye on things."
    "Who are you on about?" Jacques asked.
    "My people," the Doctor sighed. "The Time Lords. They always turn up when someone starts meddling with the laws of time and space. They won't let me get the job done without someone, somewhere, keeping an eye on me."
    "So you're not a bounty hunter?" Jillian asked.
    "Never make assumptions," the Doctor lectured. "It can be very dangerous to get the wrong idea about someone. Someone here is meddling with the laws of reality, without any idea of what will happen if they make a mess of things. There are creatures outside of reality that would get in and eat as much of it as they can before they burn up because the laws in here are different to the laws out there. It would be like a snowman forcing open an oven and then climbing inside to eat the gingerbread man." He followed his well-trained nose to the source of the trouble. He saw Sarah Jane with a strange alien woman. "Sarah, come over here, quickly."
    "Don't tell me what to do." Sarah felt like she was in a dream, she could do anything she wanted to do. "I'm a free woman."
    "Yes you are, Sarah Jane Smith." The Doctor smiled. "However you're in terrible trouble, that woman is up to no good. She's meddling with forces she can't comprehend."
    "He just wants to take our power from us." Sabrine smiled. "Men can't be allowed to tell us what to do anymore."
    "I agree," said Sarah Jane. "Leave us alone, Doctor."
    "I'm afraid I can't." The Doctor sighed. "If I can feel the distortions in the space-time continuum then my people certainly can. They have machines that can measure the direction in which an electron spins around an atomic nuclei when it's located on the other side of the universe."
    "Leave us!" Sabrine hissed, before seeing the bounty hunters. "It's a trap!" She let loose a bolt of energy at the three interlopers.
    "What?" The Doctor gasped as the energy pulse hit him in the chest, stopping both of his hearts.

    Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger looked down at their completed work. They knew that the church hated women almost as much as they did. Both had been spurned by strong-minded women who would rather do without a husband than agree to be their wives. To them it was only proper that a woman should be the subordinate servants of men, and with their new treatise they could manipulate others into getting rid of all the strong-minded women by labelling them as witches and servants of Satan. It was a clever ploy because the church was always looking for ways to promote its anti-female agenda. To them only a man could create life and the fact that women were living proof their religion was a false one constantly burned in their guts like fire and acid.

    "Get them!" Jillian led the charge.
    "We must fly," Sabrine said to her new acolyte.
    "How?" Sarah Jane asked.
    "Kill them both!" Jacques snarled gleefully. "Slowly though, I want to savour these deaths."
    "From land to air man doth try to imitate the birds and fly but only women can ride the sky!" Sabrine lifted Sarah up into the air as she flew them both to safety.
    "That is bull shonk!" Jillian snapped, letting off a hail of bullets at the escaping women. "Grak it all to Rall."
    "They killed the old man too," Jacques sighed. "Let the locals deal with his corpse, we have to begin the hunt anew."

    It was as if time stood still and then reversed itself for a moment. The unseen coweled silvery figure watched as the red lightning flared all around the room, expanding and then contracting again on its target. The Doctor screamed once before clenching his jaw shut again. He would not give into the pain, he would not give his enemy the satisfaction of knowing he was losing, dying. The pain surged and all was quiet for a single moment. A stillness filled the air and the Doctor knew he was going to die. There was too much damage to heal naturally, nothing natural could save him now. Only Rassilon's gift could renew him and he'd never managed that before without help. The first time the TARDIS had helped him through it, he'd been so weak, so arrogant, refusing to relinquish that life almost at the cost of everything. Then his own people had forced him to regenerate. Oh not at first of course, that would be too easy. No, they made him their puppet, promising the offset of his sentence for every mission he partook, until that last time, the Ice Warriors. No, don't think about that now. They could have saved everyone but they took him out of time and made him endure his renewal under medical conditions. He'd been perfectly aware of what was happening. They called it compassionate, to stretch it out for ten whole days to make sure every cell was revitalised fully. A wild regeneration had to be better, uncontrolled, truly random. Anything could happen. He could end up with two heads, or none at all. The perfect moment of clarity passed and all was pain and suffering once more and then the Doctor died.

    It wasn't supposed to be like this. The world never felt so strange, so peculiar, so bizarre. All of her moods were filtered through one emotion, one feeling, one need, one craving, one all-consuming fire. Love. She was in love! Falling deeper and deeper into its fiery embrace with every moment. She loved it and feared it. Love was the opposite of what she wanted. She wanted a life free of attachments, commitments, connections, bonds. She was her own woman, all of time and space were hers to visit and explore. Now all that was changed, fundamentally, forever. She couldn't imagine doing all of that without him now. The stars were meaningless if he wasn't there to see them with him. Worlds were just places unless they were walking on them arm in arm looking deep into each others eyes and knowing that they were there together.
    The bitch killed the Doctor! Sarah Jane snapped out of her power trip and glared at her now former teacher. "He was my friend!"
    "He was just a man," Sabrine snarled. "We are superior to him in every way."
    "Lady, you'll never be superior to him." Sarah Jane knew she couldn't defeat her teacher with magic, so she used physical power. She lashed out with a tiny balled fist and knocked her rival to the floor. "He was a better teacher than you! He taught me all about love, compassion, mercy, justice, everything that makes a woman strong. You have nothing to teach me, your ways are not those of the women of this world. Though they are tied down now they will rise up, they will regain their power, they will be free. I am their legacy. Women's liberation is not about freeing ourselves of male domination, its about empowering ourselves to be the women we want to be, to define ourselves in our own way. Your way is just an endless cycle of slavery and you can't even see the bars on your prison Sabrine, I pity you. Words are all you have. Well I have words and actions. I am the word and deed."

    The pain had ended. There was a tingling to the body. Everything was new, brimming with life and energy. Skin, cold and naked. Eyes, twenty colour vision, as good as ever. Smell, phew, the stench of the grave.
    The Doctor sat up and saw a man faint. "That's unusual." Long dark hair fell into the eyes. "Very unusual. I'm a girl!" No, it couldn't be that random could it? "My voice! I am a girl!" The sight of her own breasts confirmed matters. "How's this possible? No one said I could turn into a girl! I'll have to wear bras now for the rest of my life – lives possibly." She looked back at the unconscious man. "Am I that ugly?" Then she realised that she was in a primitive mortuary. "Oh, I've just risen from the grave. I guess they don't see that sort of thing very often. I remember Drax did that once many years ago, some sort of prank that ended up as a religion or something like that. Clothes, I should probably find some. Naked women are usually frowned upon by every major species, except the Nudoes of Nudos of course. Must avoid going there if at all possible, I really don't want to be that sort of woman."
    She eventually wrapped the off-white shroud around her chest to make a primitive sort of dress before leaving the room; before the unconscious man awoke with questions she'd rather not ask just now. "Maybe I should investigate shoes?" The cold floor was rough and couldn't be doing her new skin any good at all. "Flats or heels? Now that is the question I'd have asked Will if I was the me I am when I was the me I was when I rewrote his play for him. Then again I'd probably just seize up and stammer a lot."
    For some reason the idea of attractive men made her mind work in odd ways that it had never worked in before. Obviously human males were out of the question, except as friends, but Drax was pretty cute and the Master had a rugged quality about himself even though he was completely insane.
    She decided to head back to the TARDIS to find something that could fit her new self and the idea of trying on every single outfit at least seven times filled her with positive vibes, it could be fun selecting a new clothing look. After all, clothes very much make the woman and she wanted something that had a classy look but was hard wearing too.
    "Maybe I should do something with all this hair too? Start off with something simple, something nice and feminine."

    Tomás looked at the guards as they began to surround the home of the witches. "Hoy tenemos que hacer Voluntad de Dios."

    The Doctor tried on a skirt, it fitted nicely, flattering her legs, but it wouldn't do for a lot of running about in and she always ended up doing a lot of running…for some reason or another. Trousers it'd have to be, but there was nothing wrong with the odd skirt or pretty dress for a nice relaxing formal occasion, like a dance or a party. The idea of letting a man take the lead with her while dancing seemed right and proper so she gave it no more thought as she moved on to finding the right blouse that conveyed a sense of sensible businesswoman mixed with flighty Time Lady of leisure.
    The bra straps were still digging somewhat into her shoulders and she was beginning to suspect that she'd have to investigate learning out how to adjust them. At least the knickers were a comfy one-size fits all affair. It was odd how very different her hips and bum were now but the briefs fitted her new shape perfectly. Well that was what they were designed to do after all. She suddenly became aware just how little she actually knew about women and here she was now one of them.
    They say be yourself, but what woman can walk perfectly in a pair of heels the first time she tries them on? Maybe she'd just stick to something plain and sensible for her first time in public? A nice trouser suit and subtle make up, jewellery and nothing really extravagant like a push up bra.

    Sarah Jane studied the ancient texts, looking to see how the power of words could reshape the universe. "I see, language replaces mathematics as the basic underpinning of the structure of the universe. That's an interesting point as we've had a lot of experience in my time with the use of propaganda to control people."
    "Exactly." Sabrine smiled. "Words have power, the right words spoken in the right order can create beauty beyond words or unleash a nightmare."

    The Doctor emerged from the TARDIS feeling much more like her new self, at least what she wanted her new self to feel like. Gone were the baggy ill-fitting flares and smoking jacket. Gone was the frilly shirt and far too big shoes. In their place she wore a simple brown trouser suit that fitted and flattered her new feminine figure. Comfy pink converse boots adorned her feet, totally girly but also practical and over it all she wore a long dark blue coat that added just a hint of swooshy super heroine quality to her look. It had been either this or something that made her look like a tart and to be honest with herself she'd rather look like a lady of time than a tart, at least until she got herself a boyfriend. "Now to save Sarah Jane from that slapper."
    Had she just decided she wanted to get herself a boyfriend? Best not to think about guys just yet, it would distract her and complicate things and besides what would she actually do with one? She had a wife a long time ago and a son. Would she really have to be his wife and have his kids? One might be nice, two better, three superb. No she wasn't the settling down kind, her new hormones were just distracting her with weird thoughts about men with their muscles and hairy bodies and mouths you just wanted to snog for ages and ages…stop that woman, get a grip! Rescue Sarah first, then fantasise about guys later.

    Tomás almost had a fit when the strange woman incapacitated half of his guards. "Aprovechar su!"
    "I don't think so." The Doctor has not the expert in Venusian aikido that she used to be but she was still pretty handy with the old self defence. "Someone really should have said no to you a long time ago. I'm here for the creature that ensnared my friend with her lies and deceits."
    "Yo le detiene!" Tomás lunged at the offensively dressed woman but she almost broke his jaw with her fists. "¿Qué manera de diablo estás?"
    "I'm the woman that devils are scared of." The Doctor replied and walked on into the house. "Hello, Sarah Jane?"
    "Who are you?" Sarah Jane asked. "You're wearing trousers. I'm the only woman here wearing trousers."
    "Death can't keep a good Doctor down." The Doctor replied. "How do I look? I still feel a little woozy. Hearts are both fine, skin a lot softer than before. The hair's new but I'll get used to it. I have no idea how I managed to get this bra on so quickly, never having worn one before now. Still all in all I think I'm fine. It could have been worse I suppose. Come on Sarah Jane, stop gawping there's a good girl and let's get back to the TARDIS."
    "Doctor?" Sarah Jane was completely confused. "Is that really you?"
    "Yes, do you think I should undo another button on this blouse or would that make me look too tarty? It's a fine line between wanting to exhibit your femininity and basically giving men an excuse to look at your cleavage and not your face when they talk to you."
    "You're a feminist?" Sarah Jane was surprised and proud of the woman who may be her former best friend. "What about Sabrine?"
    "I think we should leave her to the tender mercies of those tasked with the duties of tracking her down," the Doctor replied. "They may have some mercy, while I have none."
    "How can you be the Doctor?" Sarah Jane asked. "He was full of mercy and compassion. He was a good man."
    "Yes I was him, now I'm me," the Doctor replied. "I am the woman that people do not cross, I am the line that none shall pass. I am the retribution of the victim, the merciless avenger of the abused. I am the approaching tempest and all shall fear my advance. I am the Doctor."
    "Pretty words," Sabrine sneered. "I name thee, Lady, hearts of ice and fire. I name thee for all time, Doctor!"
    "Is that supposed to impress me?" The Doctor asked. "That's not how a naming goes, now is it? I win the fight, by truth and light, I name thee thus: Carrionite!"
    "Nooooooooo!" Sabrine screamed and flew backwards out of the window to escape the looming hurricane.



    "Got her!" Jillian said as she held the Carrionite firmly in her grasp. "Your word magic doesn't work on female flesh, your species' one true weakness. Send a woman to catch a woman, and that was a woman's great plan. You're going to love to hate our boss, she's very unforgiving."
    Jacques smiled at the Carrionite prisoner and teleported himself and the two women to the hall of the Eternals. "Captain Wrack will see us shortly."
    "You're a traitor to your gender," Sabrine chided Jillian. "You're doing men's work for them."
    "Oh I'm hardly a man." Captain Wrack smiled as she appeared in the room. "And neither is he anymore." She waved her hand and Jacques became Jacqueline. "Now you can hardly say you weren't tried, convicted and executed by your peers can you? I don't care much for the lesser species, they're either useful to me or they're not, but I do so very much hate a hypocrite. You see your species is divided along lines of its own making, instead of working together you drive yourselves apart. It's quite sad really, women should be proud to be women and likewise with men. Instead you're always trying to compete in silly little ways to prove nothing of consequence. I find you guilty of being inferior; Sabrine of the Carrionites, your crime is banishment from existence!"

    Tomás watched as the evil Sabrine was taken up to heaven by two angels. He wasn't sure why one of them was female but who was he to question God's will?

    Sarah Jane looked at the strange woman who called herself Doctor. "Is that really you?"
    "Yes and no." The Doctor replied. "I have all the memories of the man you knew but this me is entirely new. I'm a brand new woman literally, who I am from now on is a mystery to us both but I'm looking forward to finding out more about this new me. For instance I don't seem to like chips anymore, or the colour yellow. I now like red wine more than white and I really think we need to talk. You've been unhappy for a long time now, Sarah Jane. I think I was too preoccupied with myself to realise that you were deeply in love, back on Peladon. So that's where we're going, I'm taking you home Sarah Jane, to the woman you love."
    "I…how did…thank you." Sarah Jane hugged her friend.

    Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger finished the last line of their wonderfully spiteful misogynistic text when the door was kicked open and the papal Swiss Guard burst in and arrested them both for slandering the holy mother of Christ.

    Queen Thalia was delighted to see the love of her life return. "Sarah!"
    "Your majesty!" Sarah Jane smiled as they hugged and then kissed.
    "I'll be back, for the wedding," the Doctor promised. "I love a good wedding, I can be your bridesmaid Sarah. Never been a bridesmaid before."
    "You will always be welcome here on Peladon, Lady Doctor. I pronounce you a noble woman of my court. The mines of Mount Borias will be yours, we'll look after them for you until you return."
    "You do me a great honour." The Doctor smiled. "I wonder if I should pay a visit to my old friend Lord Haszid on Draconia? His reaction to my new me will be interesting to see. I'll see you both later."
    The Doctor left the court room as Sarah Jane and Thalia began to kiss and hold hands once again.