The Dangers of Exceeding the Blinovitch Limitation EffectAlways the Third Doctor!;Jo Grant;Katy Manning;Jon Pertwee;Sequel to INFERNO;
The Dangers of Exceeding the Blinovitch Limitation Effect
Written by Jeri Massi
"Well," the Master said at last. "The real question is what to do with you."
"You promised to let me go," Jo reminded him.
He raised his dark eyebrows. "So I did , young woman. But are you sure that you want to go? Your version of the Doctor will come back to look for you, sooner or later, but are you sure that you want to wait for him where I found you?"
"Well, not in the other Doctor's TARDIS, of course" she said.
"It won't be there anyway," he told her. "The Doctor that I know cannot leave earth, but he is able to hop around a bit. He's gone by now. But that does not mean that he will not continue to survey that area."
She realized how dangerous it would be to wait unprotected for her own Doctor to return for her. She paused and looked doubtful. "But the Doctor---the Doctor that I know---will get back there," she said. "I need to warn him."
"Getting yourself killed will not aid him. Come on, let's find something for you to eat. Humans take food about every four hours, don't they?"
He stood up and led her to the small kitchen area. As Jo followed him, a tiny electronic fixture on the wall emitted a soft trilling. The Master abruptly turned, and his hand snatched at her. She froze without thinking and then ducked her head into her arm. He patted between her shoulders, down her back, and then pulled a tiny metal button from the inside of her belt.
"Oh that jackanapes!" he muttered. He held the tiny device up to the fixture on the wall, and the trilling stopped. Shaken, Jo looked from him to it.
"I do wish you would stop jumping around every time I move!" he exclaimed. "Normally I like humans to have a healthy fear of me, but you have too much of a good thing! You were wearing a tracking device. He never misses a trick!"
"Shouldn't you destroy it?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No. There's no point in telling him I've discovered his ruse. He knows where we are by now. Anyway, he knows where you are."
"Why me and not you?" she asked.
"You're the only one wearing a transmitter." The Master's eyes became thoughtful. "He wants to kill me, of course. But I am by no means the Doctor's only enemy." He raised his dark eyes to her. "You, now. You have frightened him. He'll have no idea how you got into his TARDIS or who you are." He looked down again and then abruptly turned to the kitchen area. "I will find you some food. And then I need time---to think!"
* * * *
"I am an old friend of Miss Grant's family," the Doctor told the Security Officer. "I assure you, my interest in her is only fatherly."
To the time lord's surprise, he saw a flicker of doubt in the young man's eyes. But then, goaded by some impulse to prove himself and not look foolish, Jimmy swiped the knife at him. It was an ineffectual swipe, something meant for show, and the Doctor suddenly realized that this human male---in spite of the severe uniform and promptness to draw the knife---did not want to kill him. He skipped back out of the way.
"Please," the Doctor said. "You don't want to kill an old man. Didn't you hear us on the stairs? She was just telling me that you take care of her."
"She cheats and she lies. It's not the first time I've caught her with someone in here!" he shouted. He lunged again, somewhat enflamed by his own accusation. The Doctor nimbly stepped around him and might have seized him by the shoulders but did not. Jimmy spun around again, and Kit pleaded, "Leave off him, Jimmy! He's from the old days. Dandled me on his knee and all that!"
"I'll bet he did. He'd like to do it again!"
To everybody's surprise---including his own---the Doctor backhanded him across the mouth and was out of range again before Jimmy could react. "How dare you speak either to her or to me that way!"
It stunned Jimmy, but it went a long way to show him something of the Doctor's character. Enraged by the blow, he lunged---this time intending to do damage. The Doctor slid his own long arm along the knife arm as it came in, ducked his head and turned at the hips, and had the young officer tied up in an arm lock.
"Drop it!" he snapped.
"I'll cut you to ribbons---"
The time for diplomacy was finished. The Doctor ran him into the wall so that he struck it with the side of his face and then pulled him back. "I said drop it!"
Dazed by the blow to the side of his head, Jimmy came to his senses and tried to pull away, and the Doctor ran him into the wall again so that he hit it again with the side of his head.
"Oh, please!" Kit exclaimed. "Don't hurt him. He wouldn't have really done anything! He only meant to scare you off"
"Drop it!" the Doctor shouted. But he was able to feel a small shock of surprise. Whatever she was, and whatever she did to make a living, Kit genuinely cared for this young man.
Jimmy dropped the knife, and the Doctor slid it across the bare flooring with his foot and then released him. Kit ran to him as he almost dropped to his knees. He caught himself against the wall. "Oh Jimmy! Are you all right? Can you hear me?"
She got under his shoulder and let him lean on her. Mystified, the Doctor saw honest concern and grief on her face, and a sudden, compelling expression of relief and gratitude on the young man's bruised face.
"I thought you'd taken up with someone else," he said.
"No, never!" She turned frightened eyes to the Doctor, but it was a fear for Jimmy. "You'd better go."
"Look---" the Doctor began.
Jimmy, dazed but relieved to have her under his arm, could barely raise his eyes, but he said, "She doesn't want you here. Go on, then. Leave us alone."
Bitter with chagrin and disappointment, the Doctor left.
The evening was settling over the bleak buildings when he emerged onto the deserted street. He looked around, pensive. There were things to find out and things to be done. But he had left Jo imprisoned in his TARDIS. The weight of being unjust to her had been settling on him with increasing heaviness through out the day. She was not good at waiting, and it had been hours. He must return to her and gain a promise from her to let him venture out again before taking her home. Telling her his status and talking with her about the events of the day would most likely win her agreement for a delay on returning home. Jo usually did pretty well if she received large doses of reassurance and affirmation. And---now that his own restlessness to get away from UNIT and get events initiated on this planet was satisfied---he was ready to get away from this grey city and its despairing citizens. He wanted Jo's company and the TARDIS environment before he ventured out again.
It was a thirty minute walk to where he had left the TARDIS, and he sighted the poster on the wall that was his landmark. But the street was empty and deserted. The TARDIS was gone. In the growing twilight he checked the concrete for signs of towing equipment, but there were no scratches in the paving, no telltale spatters of oil from heavy machinery, no lingering smell of petrol, no indications that his TARDIS had been dragged from its spot. It seemed to have moved away of its own volition.
* * * *
"Come on," Jimmy said to Kit after he had washed his face and she had poured him his beer.
She had done her best to make the front room of the flat comfortable, but the furniture was castoff stuff: items that Jimmy or his predecessors had rescued from the dumps of party members or officers. He threw himself onto the sagging sofa, sitting up against the arm, with his feet stretched down the length of the old cushions. He opened his arms for her to join him. She sat down between his legs and settled her back against him, then handed back his beer to him.
"You sure you're all right?" she asked, careful not to sound too sympathetic.
"Yeah. Crazy old bird. Crazy of me to think you'd go for him. Been enough beatings. Puts me in a right crazy mood, but then I can't go through with it. Not any more today." From behind her, he put his arms around her, careful not to spill the beer, and pushed his face into her hair.
She reached back and stroked the side of his head. "Interrogations?"
"Yeah. Blazes, Kit, I beat this lad until his eyes swelled shut. I was yelling at him to tell me anything. He could have lied if he'd wanted to. But he wouldn't say anything. Nothing. If they'd just say anything: make up a name, accuse someone who died last year, I'd shuffle 'em off back to the cells. But half the time they have to play the man---say nothing." He buried his face hard into the back of her neck, and she realized that today's subject must have been quite young.
"It's your job," she said at last, words that did not comfort him, but there was nothing else to say. Once upon a time, Jimmy had really believed that joining the Security Detail would protect the nation from its enemies. He had been young then, and his victims hardened old resistance men who had laughed at him and mocked him. Breaking them had been a challenge that he could never accomplish without assistance from his superiors. His prisoners has asked for no mercy, held him in contempt, and would have killed him if given an ounce of a chance. To this day he carried a scar across the left side of his chest from a piece of bed spring that one wily man had sharpened and used as a knife.
But now, suddenly, the prisoners were younger than he: pale young men who feared him. Their crimes were harder to define, crimes of thought and intent rather than provable actions. They were often dazed and confused by being arrested, and they flinched from him before he even said anything. Jimmy could handle the tough ones who sneered at him, but he had no defense against those who pleaded and cried and begged him to let them go.
"I think I hit him too hard. I think he's blind," he said at last.
"He could have talked, Jimmy. It was his choice." She rolled over in his arms, coming face to face with him, and put her arms around his neck.
"It's never that simple for those people. It wasn't even that simple for me at first," he said.
"But now we know it's that simple," she said. She rested her head on his chest, just under his chin. "If you upset the way things are, everybody suffers. Go along with it, and nobody gets hurt." He said nothing, and then she asked, "What did you want, anyway? What was he charged with?"
"Selling contraband. Radio equipment. We wanted to know who he got it from and if he had anybody willing to buy it."
"Then he was silly. Contraband charges aren't that bad. Those blokes know they run risks when they start buying and selling. He should have blabbed and gotten himself off the hook." She looked up at him. "I mean, it wasn't truck loads of stuff, was it? Just the odd bit of gadget?"
"That's all he was caught with. He's probably just a penny dealer. He's in for it worse, tomorrow." He bowed down and kissed the top of her head. "I need you, Kitten. Don't leave me. Please."
She stroked his chest and then opened his shirt pocket and pulled out a tiny memo book. She flipped it open. He looked down, watching in silence as she flipped it back and forth until she found the thin sheet she wanted. He saw it and wrapped his arms around her, comforted.
"Did you mark off today?" she asked.
"No, it's your turn."
She had to get up on her elbows on him to get the pencil stub from his pocket. With great satisfaction, she drew a tiny line next to an array of other lines Every group of ten lines was marked through.
"That's another day," she said. "How many left?"
"412," he told her.
She dropped pencil and notepad onto the floor and put her arms around his neck again. "I'm not going to leave you," she told him. "I'm going to leave with you. In 412 days we qualify for a farm. You'll have your service points in, and we'll have enough to get out of here." She snuggled down onto him, her arms still around his neck. "That means just 48 days, and it will be less than a year. That's not so very much."
He carefully set the beer down and stroked her hair. "My little planner," he said. "Always got your eye on something better. That's what worries me."
She rose up so that she could look down on him. "I'm looking for something better, but it's a future for both of us," she said. "If we both work at it, then it's ours. Just ours." Her eyes searched his. "f we can forgive each other for the things we do to get there and just keep moving towards it."
He kissed her lips. "I forgive you, Kitten. I know they don't mean anything to you. Do you forgive me?"
She answered very soberly. "Yes, I do. I forgive you. The boy should have talked. It's his fault, not yours. He chose to be stupid."
She held his face and kissed him and hoped that things would move quickly. She didn't want to talk about what he had done that day. She didn't want to think about the boy he had beaten. Just stay focused on the number: 412, and on giving Jimmy what happiness she could.
* * * *
The Doctor was trying to solve a riddle. Who could have piloted the TARDIS? Or had it removed itself? It had been known to behave in strange fashion from time to time. For hours, he searched around the streets and empty buildings, hoping that perhaps a small error in the drive system had made the TARDIS shift spatially by a hundred meters or so. But after a few hours, the scattered street lamps winked out all at once, obviously set on a timer. The darkness made further information gathering impossible.
Ultimately, if it had simply slipped its moorings in this world, it would drift around until it found him.
Perhaps, he thought, it had taken her back to her own world. He had not studied out the effects on the TARDIS of leaving one reality for another. Last time he had come here, he had done so with only the console and had not had a ready power supply connected to it when he'd arrived. But with its own power supply now intact, it may have gone seeking the universe from which it came. In which case, Jo was safe. But there was a problem in that she was still locked in. And, of course, it meant that he was stranded.
The only other possibility was that it had been picked up and carried away by some authority who saw it and realized that it did not belong here. He would have to go back and ask Kit who was in charge of maintaining the streets and where surplus items were unloaded. If this third possibility was the right one, then he was glad that Jo was locked inside, out of danger, and he knew that she would be glad to stay inside if she watched through the viewer and saw people trying to get in. He was not keen on the idea of her falling into the hands of the people of this world. Harshness and mistrust were too endemic to this society.
It was past ten by the time he started back to Kit's flat to wait out the night and talk with her again. As he started away, he thought he heard something skip on the sidewalk, the sound of an unwary shoe knocking a pebble across the chipped concrete. He stopped and tried to peer back into the darkness, but it defied him. Even his eyes could not penetrate it beyond a few feet, and he had to walk with one hand trailing along the wall of building.
He finally decided not to worry. Humans traveling this area would be even less able to see than he. If anything was back there, it was far more likely some nocturnal animal: cat or rat or some other luckless creature trapped in this grim and impoverished place.
The walk back to Kit's took longer in the darkness, but he at last found a niche in a doorway across the street from her tenement. Whether because there was an enforced time for all lights out, or because the people here simply retired early to prepare for another bleak day in this place, the lights were all off in her building. There was not a light showing on the whole street.
Some type of patrol officer carrying a heavy flashlight walked past, not seeing him in the recess. The Doctor flattened into it, head turned away. But the passing patrol man obviously had other things on his mind. On the very periphery of the light, the Doctor saw another figure dart back behind several garbage bins. Somebody else was also watching the building. The patrol man missed him as well.
For a moment, the Doctor considered the possibility that Jimmy had his own retinue outside to keep watch for him, but then he discarded this idea. A member of the elite intelligence organisation would not hide from the night patrols. And Jimmy most likely would not be too keen on having his relationship with Kit made public to his peers. She was, after all, a member of a family whose patriarchs had been found guilty of treason.
He could not go up until Jimmy left, and he could not go anywhere else with the patrols out. And the presence of the second man down the block made him wary of danger to Kit or Jimmy. He would have to wait to see what would happen.
* * * *
Jimmy was peddling his feet, kicking the covers down the bed. Not entirely caught by surprise, Kit pulled herself up. She had a small, battery operated lamp by the bed, and she switched it on. It shed only a faint glow that would not pierce the heavy blind drawn down over the window.
"I don't know what to say," he gasped. "I'm sorry. Isn't it enough?"
"Jimmy," she said gently.
"Please don't go away. I'll make it stop. I let some of them go. What about them?"
"Jimmy," she said again, more urgently.
"Please don't go away. I'll set it right. Just tell me what you want me to do!" This last was said on a rising note, his voice becoming louder and more plaintive. He woke himself up.
"It's all right," she told him. "There's nobody there."
"Kit, he saw me do it. He knows I did it, but he doesn't know I didn't want to. He only knows what I do, but not that they make me do it!"
She looked down at him and pulled the tangle of covers away from him. "He's not real. It's just a dream you have."
"No, he had that lad with him, under his arm, taking him away. He turned his back on me."
Jimmy sat up as she straightened the thin sheet and blanket. "I've sinned," he said at last. She opened her arms and took his head to herself, letting him rest on her. "I've committed sins that can't be forgiven," he said. But he willingly came down into her arms, his head pillowed on her.
"Then we've all sinned," she said. "And he turned his back on us a long time ago." She stroked his hair and hugged him around his head. He usually had this dream after days like this.
"Not sins like this. Not like this. Turn out the light."
She did, knowing that he did not want her to see him cry.
In the morning, he spoke roughly and coldly to her, embarrassed about the weakness she had seen. It was also a part of a ritual that he went through to get ready for the day, stepping in to character as the efficient young Security Detail officer. He criticized the way she kept the flat and he threw a half empty bowl of oatmeal against the wall. She looked on, cold and detached.
Just as it was in the evenings that Jimmy was afraid she would leave him, it was in the morning she feared that he would walk out and never come back to her. She could not afford to lose him, and she had pinned whatever hope was left inside her on their eventual escape from the city. So she did not throw anything back at him or shout at him. But neither would she knuckle under or cry in front of him. He wasn't getting any of that. She stood silent and cold and slightly impatient as he marched around the flat, buttoning up his shirt, looking for his boots, and shouting at her.
At last he was gone. As he went out the door, he said, "I might be back tonight or might not. Try to have the place cleared of blokes before I walk in, all right?" And he slammed the door. She did not fling back any comments about the lads he would be interrogating that day. One more inequity between them was that Kit could stand his jibes far more than he could withstand hers. She went to find a rag to clean the oatmeal off the wall.
* * * *
As dawn was at last spreading its slow glory across the sky, the Doctor saw the uniformed figure of his previous attacker emerge onto the street and look around. To all appearances the street was quiet and deserted. Jimmy squared his shoulders and strode away. Probably, the Doctor thought, he was one of the privileged few to own an automobile, but he had probably left it a few blocks away. After a few minutes, the person who had also been hiding and watching the apartment detached himself from the doorway where he had taken shelter.
He had obviously been waiting for Jimmy to leave. The Doctor considered that this might simply be one of Kit's regular customers, but he discarded that idea. A man planning to use her services would not wait all night in watch. He would come by appointment. The young man glanced up and down the street before crossing, and the Doctor felt a momentary shock as he saw the young man's face. It was Mike Yates.
Yates, the Doctor knew, also came from a family that had enjoyed a high social station. Most likely they had also suffered in the purges. The idea of finding a resistance movement had not left the Doctor, and now he purposefully followed Yates into the building, but at a distance.
* * * *
"You don't waste much time, do you?" Kit asked as she let Mike in. "You've got to stop coming here, you know. Somebody's tipped Jimmy off that there are men showing up here. He doesn't like it."
"He's picked a fine time to turn Puritan," Mike said, setting down a half carton of cigarettes on the small table. He saw the wet spot on the wall. "You two having a go at some target practice?"
"He just doesn't want it done here," she told him, her voice exasperated. "He's certainly not a Puritan."
"We have word that a chap from the other side of the city got picked up in a sweep," he told her. "Our best communications man, and he's got all the dictionary in his head."
"Jimmy talked about a young lad, blond and blue-eyed," she told him. "That him?"
"Probably. He looks very young."
"Well, he's not talking, but if he's your boy, Jimmy and his lot don't know about the communications angle. They want names from him, not code words. They think he's doing black market stuff. That's what he said last night."
Yates nodded. "We'll change the dictionary just the same, but at least we have some time."
"What is it?" he asked.
"I think they beat him blind. If they did, his radio days are over."
Yates swore. Jimmy had done by accident what he had not had the information to do on purpose.
"Your lad's in a bad way," Kit told him. "He held out yesterday without talking, but it might be time for him to take a pill if you can get something to him. Jimmy'll have to pass him up the line eventually."
"I'm sure he hates to do that." Yates' voice was bitter.
Kit ignored the comment. "Start meeting me off the market. There's a little grocery still open down there. You can't come here any more. It's dangerous for both of us."
"I've already told you, if he threatens or hurts you, all you have to do is say the word."
Her eyes flashed. "You promised me not to hurt him. That's our arrangement. He's not to be hurt. Not now or ever!"
Yates backed off. "All right, all right, if you still feel that way."
"I don't feel any way. But it's bad for business, luring people in to their deaths. And it will get me locked up, having a hand in any trouble for a member of the Security Detail. They're none too picky about who they punish."
* * * *
Morning found the Master still seated in an easy chair, his dark eyes fixed on the room's single window, which was a long and narrow bar of glass, too high to see out of, and too narrow to emit much light. Jo wondered if he had designed it that way, or if it were simply part of a room that he had refurbished for his own uses.
"I assume the Doctor---the Doctor that I know---is preparing an attack," the Master announced as she sat up on the narrow sofa. "It will take some skill on his part. We may have some time to prepare a suitable defense and counter attack." His face became concerned. "As much as the Doctor hates and fears me, he has never tried to attack me right in any of my lairs. He may be keeping a watch on the place, hoping to pick me off as I come in or go out." His dark eyes settled onto her. "Or he may have gotten it into his mind that he should add you to that grim collection of his."
"Why not get out of here?" she asked.
His eyes became more steady and more thoughtful as he regarded her. Mindful of his rebuke from the day before, she tried not to shrink back or look away. "You and your companion are stranded here," he told her. "You will never get the use of my rival's TARDIS, but I could let you use my own TARDIS as a means to return to your world."
Her eyes got hopeful, but he said quickly, "My services come at a price. I will help you, but you must help me, first."
"What can I do?" she asked.
"Ah, young lady. Not much. I have the equipment to contain him here." He surveyed the small apartment. "I need only to lay a trap for him when he attacks. My plan lacks only one vital element."
"What's that?" she asked.
He smiled at her. "Bait, my dear." He cocked his head. "That is how your services are to be rendered."