(London, Earth, 2009)
Harry and the Doctor have just sat down to lunch when it happens: a sort of tingling flare behind the Doctor's eyes, not quite so intense as the one he felt when the Master had opened his fob watch, but still absolutely unmistakable. He stands up so quickly his chair tips over and crashes to the floor. Harry stares at him in such honest innocent astonishment that even through the shock, the Doctor's hearts turn over.
He can't very well leave Harry alone here, which means-- "In the TARDIS," the Doctor says. "Quick."
"But what about lunch?" Harry protests, following him to the door.
"Lunch can wait," the Doctor says shortly.
Being in the TARDIS with Harry Saxon is disconcerting nearly to the point of pain. He shuts the door neatly behind them, stands with his hands lightly holding the edge of the console, and watches with intrigued incomprehension as the Doctor sets coordinates for London, two minutes ago. He's soft-spoken and polite and for all that there is still a sort of hardness in his face; it isn't madness, just determination.
"What's so bloody urgent?" he asks now.
"Another Time Lord," the Doctor says, pulling the handbrake. The TARDIS lurches into the vortex. "Not-- not one I know."
"But--" Harry says, but they're already landing, and the Doctor's running for the door, so Harry sighs in a long-suffering sort of way and follows.
The Doctor's less surprised than he might be to find that they're in front of a shop that reads JONES & SON: HARDWARE AND RETAIL, BOUGHT AND SOLD. That's clever. That's damn clever. He runs in to find Martha and Leo staring at a girl of about eighteen who's holding an open music box and looking astonished. She closes it slowly, lays it on the counter, turns to the Doctor, and says, quite calmly, "Hello."
"Hi," the Doctor says, feeling distinctly as though he's just been punched in the stomach.
"Do I know you?" the girl asks hopefully.
"Er. I'm the Doctor."
The expression on the girl's face changes subtly from hopeful to wary. "Oh," she says. "Er. That's wonderful. I'm Qworenn."
"Sorry," the Doctor says. "I-- I mean. That's a lovely name! I don't. Know you."
She shrugs in an awkward, one-shouldered way. "You wouldn't have. I was still at the Academy." She looks around with a frown. "But-- where is everyone?"
The Doctor finds he can't quite speak; he feels Harry standing beside him, staring at the girl with great interest, and is visited with the sudden desperate wish for the Master to be standing next to him. The Master would know exactly what to say; probably he would say This idiot burned them all, but at least that would be something.
Martha comes to his rescue. "There isn't anyone," she says. Qworenn looks around at her in faint astonishment, as though surprised the human can communicate, but Martha goes on, completely unfazed, "Your planet's gone. It's just you and the Doctor." She takes a deep breath. "Right now. Doctor--" and she tosses him what appears to be a cosmetics case. He catches it, faintly bewildered, takes a closer look, and stares at her in astonishment. "We were looking for Harry's," she says, "but Lidia-- er, Qworenn came in here with that music box, and I..." She looks faintly embarrassed. "Well, I wanted to be sure I wasn't going mad, so I asked her to open it."
"It's all right," the Doctor says. "Qworenn? Do you have any idea what's going on?"
"Yes," Qworenn says, frowning a little. "This is Earth?" At the collective nod, she looks slightly less worried. "And the year?"
"Two-thousand nine," Martha offers, and Qworenn looks abruptly worried again.
"We were supposed to come to the thirty-first century," she says, a little nervously.
The Doctor's heartsrate picks up. "We?"
"The evacuees," Qworenn says, looking distinctly uncomfortable now. "But-- I don't think it went quite right. I mean, some of the Dalek ships had already gotten through the transduction barrier, and--"
"Start from the beginning," the Doctor hears himself saying, absolutely quiet and calm. Martha elbows Leo; Leo hurries to pull up some chairs, offering the first to Qworenn, which seems to calm her somewhat, and when the Doctor stays standing, Harry takes his arm and pulls him gently into his seat.
"I-- was only at the Academy, I told you," Qworenn says, a little nervously. "I didn't really know too much. But-- when the Dalek emperor launched the first fleet at Gallifrey itself, that's when the orders to start evacuation came."
"Who gave the orders?" the Doctor asks, swallowing. "Romana?"
"I-- don't know," Qworenn says, looking a bit surprised. "It wasn't that organized, I mean-- they just shoved a lot of chameleon arches at us, stuck us in a few Type 70 TARDISes, and told us the courses were already set, just pull the handbrake and put on your chameleon arches."
"Who are they?" the Doctor demands. "Who gave you the arches? Was it on Romana's orders?"
"Just-- just some of the professors," Qworenn says, looking alarmed. "I don't think it was official. I mean, the President had been preparing some of the void ships, but of course the Daleks went for those first--"
"I know that," the Doctor snaps. "I saw that. That's why-- that's why I thought--"
He becomes suddenly aware that Harry's gripping his right arm, Martha his left shoulder; both of them are watching Qworenn steadily, but he knows they're both really paying absolute attention to him, and that's somehow steadying.
"Sorry," he says. "Go on."
"We tried to stick to the plan," Qworenn says. "I mean, the one the President laid out. We were to evacuate to thirty-first century Earth and lay low." She swallows. "The professors were talking about-- about trying to evacuate the Matrix, too, I mean, take its main access out of the Citadel and put it in-- keys of some sort. Only one of the explosions had scattered the keys, and they weren't sure what to do, so they decided they just had to get the students out." She takes a deep breath. "And when we got into our evacuation TARDIS, I put on my chameleon arch, so I don't know why we're here. This century, I mean. The TARDIS was supposed to stick us all in a scenario together, but..." She gestures helplessly. "Twenty-first century co-op, working at a launderette? The manager was a grumpy old man. Human as they come."
Why didn't she tell me?
I would have run.
The Doctor takes a deep breath. "Romana. Tell me. Is she alive?"
"I don't know, Doctor," Qworenn says, and she obviously understands the look that crosses the Doctor's face, because she adds, "I'm sorry."
He waves it away. "And you have no idea where anyone else is? Any of the other evacuees?"
"No," Qworenn says apologetically. "I mean, logically some of them would be in London. This year. Since I am."
"The Silver Devastation," Harry says unexpectedly.
Everyone turns to stare at him. He looks as surprised as any of them, but he says, looking steadily at the Doctor, "Is that allowed? If it just came into my head? Or do I have to have dreamt it?"
"No," the Doctor says. "Go on."
A brief wry smile flickers across Harry's face. "It. Just seems important. That's where I found my--" And blank shock comes across his face. "Where's my ring gone?"
"What, the one with the Lazarus Labs logo on it?" Martha says. When everyone turns to stare at her, she shrugs. "Well, it did. Those two sort of lines of bubbles? Lazarus Labs. Prydonian kept the logo, so I've been seeing it too much. I don't know, I thought maybe it was a little thank-you gift cos you and your wife had donated money."
The Doctor turns back to Harry in sudden excitement. "You're Harry Saxon," he says. "Do you remember Lucy?"
He's not too surprised to see Harry's shoulders shift uncomfortably, nor to hear Harry say, "Just-- just funny bits and pieces. But I... do remember Lazarus Labs. I think-- I think we designed the logo. Lucy and I. Lucy was just so happy I had some power and influence, she wanted to use some of the influence for frivolous things. So my ring came before the Labs." He makes an impatient gesture. "But it's gone. I can't think where. I had it on election day, I know that."
"You had it with you when you took off with the Doctor last year, too," Martha says, rather dryly. "Doctor?"
"He definitely had it in medieval France," the Doctor says, "because King Louis VII had one too."
"...Am I the only one here who's really confused?" Leo asks into the pause.
"No," Qworenn says.
"No," the Doctor says, grinning suddenly and leaping to his feet. "We're going to the Silver Devastation." There's a general outcry of whats and whys. He waves them off. "Martha," he says, "when I said the Master was gone, you thought I meant he'd taken the TARDIS and left."
"Hold on!" Qworenn says. "The what? Who?"
The Doctor chooses to ignore this; when Martha nods, he goes on, "But someone who knows how to operate a chameleon arch would know how to work the TARDIS." He finds that he's grinning and can't stop. "But the Master couldn't have done it, because I programmed the TARDIS to not respond to any of his flight commands. But I didn't do it for anyone else, because no human can work the TARDIS properly and if there are no other Time Lords there's nothing to worry about, but if there are other Time Lords-- even Time Lords in human form retain some knowledge, especially around Time Lord technology--" He turns to Harry. "If the manual circuits fail--?"
"Telepathic backup," Harry says, "although technically the manual is backup."
"See?" the Doctor says, beaming around at the others' startled faces.
"He's the Master?" Qworenn demands.
"What's going on?" Leo asks.
"Yeah, but even if some human Time Lord decided to get back at the Master by sticking his Time Lord bits on some other planet or in some other time," Martha says, "why d'you think it's the Silver Devastation?"
"Irony," the Doctor says simply. "It's where Yana was found. But if that's not good enough, we can just go look at the TARDIS travel log. Automatically records previous coordinates." He grins around at them. "Come on!"
They all run back out to the TARDIS; Qworenn's snort of faint derision for the old model, and Leo's quiet breathed wow, are far less important than the way Harry and Martha go with him straight to the console and watch as he pulls up the TARDIS' last trip before Ireland: not Xi Cephei after all, but the Silver Devastation, 5523. "Hah!" he says, grinning triumphantly at Martha and then Harry, who both grin back at him. He turns. "Qworenn! Shut the door, will you?"
She does, looking mutinous.
"Right!" the Doctor says, pulling the handbrake, and off they go.
The Silver Devastation, Martha discovers, is more or less exactly what it sounds like. It spreads around them in all directions as far as the eye can see, endless acres of cold, silvery sand. A shivery wind causes the sand to slide smoothly across itself and bite at their ankles. Even the star above them is a brilliant white, the sky grey. Leo's mouth seems stuck a little way open, and Qworenn, after a few seconds of hesitation in which it's quite obvious she wants to stay with the ship, sighs in a long-suffering way and takes his arm, setting off after the enthusiastic Doctor.
Which leaves Martha walking with Harry.
"All right," Harry says after a moment, "what's this Master bloke like?"
Martha glances sideways at him. Harry Saxon, like John Smith, carries himself a little differently than his Time Lord self did. His movements are looser, easier, more genuinely friendly. He gives her a look of guarded honest curiosity.
"Not nice," Martha says.
"I guessed," Harry says, "given that girl's reaction and the way the Doctor won't tell me a damn thing. ...How not nice?"
Martha considers. They're here to get the Master back, and she very much doubts he'll mind that she told his terrible deeds to his human self. More importantly, though, the Master and what he has done are terrifying, and Harry, strange though it is to think this, seems like he's a decent bloke. Sane, anyway. Not evil. And Martha remembers quite well John Smith's horror at hearing about the Doctor-- about the Doctor, who is far greater than the Master will ever be. She remembers seriously wondering if John Smith would choose to open the fob watch. And if she heard that she was really anything like the Master, she'd flat-out refuse to change back. This wouldn't be a bad thing. This would be a very, very good thing. And it's not as though the Doctor's alone, if he'll only think about it for a moment: there's Qworenn, trudging away ahead of them, and there's that cosmetics case Martha found, and if Qworenn's to be believed, there must be hundreds of Time Lords hidden in London alone. Maybe if Harry refuses to change back, the Doctor will see sense.
"You took over the world," she says. "For a year you took over the world. You went to the end of the human race and you brought them back to the twenty-first century and you used the Doctor's TARDIS to build a paradox machine so those future humans could kill their ancestors, and then you made the world burn."
Harry stares at her.
"Sorry," Martha adds.
"I-- I suppose the paradox collapsed," Harry says weakly.
"Yeah," Martha says.
They walk along in silence, their feet slipping a little in the sand. Martha glances behind them; the TARDIS is sitting forlornly in the distance. The Doctor seems to know where he's going, though.
"Why are you talking to me?" Harry asks.
Martha looks over at him in surprise. "What?"
"You. Talking. To me. If I did that to the world."
"I don't know," Martha admits, staring at Leo's back some ways in front of them. "Maybe because you're actually acting horrified this time."
They lapse into silence again. The Doctor has picked up the pace a little; accordingly, so does everyone else, slipping and sliding a bit more in the sand.
"Him," Harry says. "What about him? I don't mean, why does he talk to me; I mean, why does he want the Master back?"
"Before?" Martha shrugs. "I'd've said because he didn't want to be alone. Now... I have no idea."
"Oh, I do," Harry says. "He's damn well in love with him."
Martha rather unceremoniously falls over.
"Are you okay?" Harry asks anxiously.
"Yeah," Martha says, getting to her feet and starting onwards. "I mean no! He's what?"
"The Doctor," Harry says. "In love with the Master. I thought it was sort of obvious."
"I wouldn't have noticed," Martha says. "Since I wasn't really travelling with both of them." All the same, she's starting to have a horrible sinking feeling. She hadn't really considered why the Doctor was so determined to keep the Master around, aside from the obvious. A desperate and perhaps slightly unhealthy desire to not be alone had really seemed like a good enough reason to her. Or at least a reasonably sane one.
They fall silent again, but don't have a lot of time for reflection, because the Doctor's given a gleeful shout of triumph. Martha sees him bend down, pick something up from the sand, and come running over to them. It's a fob watch. He grins and hands it to Harry. "Here we are. Go on, open it."
Harry stares at it for a long moment and then hands it back to the Doctor. "No," he says. "Thanks, but no."
The Doctor gives him a look of utter astonishment. "What?"
"I don't want it," Harry says, enunciating very clearly. "I don't want to be a-- a mass-murdering megalomaniac. Thanks."
"Who told you that?" the Doctor asks, going very still.
"Me," Martha says. The Doctor turns to her with a look of shocked betrayal that twists into utter fury, but she stands her ground. "You're not alone again, Doctor. There are hundreds of Time Lords. In London. Let the Master go."
"Yeah, I think I'm all for that plan," Leo puts in.
"But he has information we need!" the Doctor says with a note of panic in his voice.
"You think he might," Martha returns.
"Doctor," Qworenn puts in, "this is the Master we're talking about. They only resurrected him for the Time War. The Time War is over. Let him be over too."
The Doctor looks around at them all quickly in turn, and Martha is shocked to see something like real fear in his face. "No," he says. "I-- We need him. Don't you see, this isn't going to be as easy as just telling a bunch of young people to open their trinkets! Martha, you've already found at least one more component of a chameleon arch in your brother's shop. Not everyone has theirs. And Qworenn-- you've told me, you weren't with anyone else, even though you left with them. Something's gone wrong. And we still don't know where the Master's ring fits into this, or Ingram and her hospital. The Master will know. Please."
"No," Harry says steadily.
"Please," the Doctor says again, holding out the fob watch.
"If he won't, just throw it away," Qworenn snaps, and reaches out. The Doctor jerks his hand back.
What happens next happens so quickly Martha nearly misses it: both the Doctor and Qworenn seize the fob watch at the same time, it opens, and something flies out and hits Qworenn in the neck. She falls over backwards with a look of astonishment and promptly explodes, in a spectacular golden way. Then she sits back up, with a different face, her hair short and spiky and her clothes not fitting properly, and she laughs in a slightly drunken way. "Never done that before."
Martha, Leo, and Harry stare at her.
"What the hell just happened?" Leo asks after a long shocked pause.
"Regeneration, I think," Harry says a bit blankly.
"Mmhm." Qworenn stands up a little unsteadily and dusts herself off, grinning. "That was a rush."
"That was a trap," the Doctor says, staring down at the open fob watch in his hand. "Some sort of-- dart. Instantly lethal."
"Wonderful," Harry says. "Everyone wants me dead."
"Looks like," the Doctor murmurs.
"So you'll forgive me for not wanting to try opening anything suspect ever again," Harry says tightly, and fishes a little velvet box, the sort in which rings and trinkets are kept, out of his jacket pocket. He tosses it nervously from hand to hand.
"I think we should get back to the TARDIS," the Doctor agrees.
"Makes sense, though, doesn't it," Martha says, as they turn to head back. "I mean, someone clever enough to turn the Master human would probably be clever enough to know the TARDIS logs destinations, and leave a trap."
"That means half the stuff that looks like chameleon arch components back in London might be rigged," Qworenn puts in. She seems slightly less punchy now. "This is gonna make things complicated."
"Yes," the Doctor murmurs, frowning.
They all walk in silence. Leo's sticking close to Martha now, probably because he's beginning to suspect she's the only other sane one among them. After all, of the other three of their number, one has just completely changed appearance, one wants to bring back a sociopathic mass murderer, and one is still nervously tossing a jewelry case around.
"So that's it, then?" Martha asks as they reach the TARDIS. "No more mad searches for the Master's fob watch or whatever it is?"
"That's--" The Doctor cuts himself off and stares at Harry. "Harry, what is that?"
Harry stops tossing the jewelry case back and forth and blinks at it. "This? I don't know. I just found it in my pocket, that's all."
"...What's in it?" the Doctor asks.
Both Martha and Qworenn realize a fraction of a second before Harry responds. "No, don't--!" they say as one, but too late: Harry's opening it, and gold light is streaming out.
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