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
As the Doctor pushed back Jo's head, she heard a tremendous crack. She thought for a moment that it was her own neck, bur then suddenly the weight fell off her, heavy and limp as a sack of coal. She opened her eyes to see the Doctor, her Doctor, looking down at her in shocked concern.
But as soon as he pulled her to her feet, she exclaimed, "The Master! We've got to help him."
From down the street, a police whistle shrilled at them. Her own Doctor got one startled look at the timelord crumpled at his feet, the mirror image of himself. Then he dropped the chunk of concrete he had used as an improvised kosh and joined her at the Master's side.
"He's alive!" Jo gasped. "Help him, Doctor! Please!"
"All right, all right!" The Doctor had no idea what was going on, but the sight of his own double had knocked home the truth that his theories about the unique natures of timelords were incorrect.
"He's got this heavy thing wrapped round his chest!" she exclaimed.
The Master moaned. Jo was trying to rip the fallen timelord's shirt open. The Doctor gently pushed her hands aside and used his penknife to tear away the shirt and cut open the fasteners on the blast vest. "Fat lot of good that did him."
"Well it almost worked!" The Master opened one glaring eye. "Shut up and fix me, or else kill me and be done with it. But don't let the High Council get me."
"I'm not going to kill you." But as the Doctor got the top of the vest pulled away, fresh blood welled up everywhere in the Master's wound. The whistle shrilled again.
"Here you! What are you doin' to that man?" a police man asked, running up. His uniform was blue rather than the black of the military, but he seemed none too friendly.
"He's been shot!" the Doctor exclaimed. "By that man over there! The one who---" He stopped and caught himself. The fallen double of himself was gone.
"That way!" Jo shouted, pointing to a corner. "Look, there's the knife he dropped! He must have gone that way!" The discarded knife, as well as dribbled of blood from the wound in his leg, made an unmistakable trail.
"We're not leaving this man!" the Doctor snapped at the police man. "Go get him. I koshed him with that bit of rubble. He surely cannot get very far!"
The policeman ran off in the direction of the fleeing time lord.. Moving quickly, the Doctor cut the front of the Master's shirt away in strips, and then pushed the piece of blast vest against the wound. The Master let out a shout of pain but nodded. "Hurry up," he gasped.
"All right old boy. I'm going as fast as I can. Help me, Jo. Tie these strips from his shirt end to end. We've got to make a bandage that will go around him." He pulled his own handkerchief from his shirt pocket. "Add this to it."
"How bad is it?" the Master asked.
"Didn't transmit through the bones, but it's sprung leaks all through some arteries. You're bleeding too fast. Can't you slow it down?"
The Master closed his eyes and nodded in weariness. In another moment he was deeply asleep. His skin became cold. Jo glanced up at the Doctor in concern. "He's helping us, Jo," he told her. "Shutting down so that he won't bleed to death. Let's have that bandage. Help me get him wrapped up, and then we've got to get away if we can. It won't do any of us any good to be detained by the police."
* * * *
Carrying a wounded and sleeping (and ice cold) body through the streets was difficult and awkward. What saved them was the incredible inefficiency of the local police patrol. They had to hide a few times in doorways or under stairways in disused but open buildings. Otherwise, the police were marvelously adept at missing them entirely.
All the same, it was exhausting work, and the jostling and hurrying kept the wound bleeding. By the time that Jo had led the Doctor to the top floor of the partially constructed building where the Master had built his lair, they were both spattered with blood and badly winded.
The door to the apartment had no door knob and no visible lock. The wall simply opened a portal automatically at the Master's presence. They were admitted. The wall sealed up again,, and they set their patient down on the long, narrow sofa.
"He's got medical supplies here," Jo said. She pointed to the low cabinet where he had retrieved his medical bag for her the day before. "In there."
"All I can do is clean the wound, try to stop any more bleeding, and then let him heal himself," the Doctor said, going to the cabinet and rummaging around. "Fortunately, as a timelord, he ought to be able to do that within 12 to 24 hours."
"Go all cold, you mean?" she asked. She had seen the Doctor go into a coma-like state before, his body becoming as cold as ice and all signs of life in him going too low to be read.
"Yes. His damaged tissue will regenerate. The vest slowed down the blast from that gun, and his own body is a bit more impervious to energy discharge weapons than a human's would be." He found what he wanted in the cabinet and returned to the Master.
"Let's get the rest of his coat and that vest off."
They stripped him to the waist. The Doctor cleaned the wound, which was actually a network of smaller wounds, most the size of slits, that had penetrated around his bones. He was then able to apply a better pressure bandage, but it was apparent that the Master's core temperature was dropping further now that he was at rest. The Doctor found a couple blankets in a cupboard and draped them over him.
"He's as comfortable as I can make him now," he said at last. He glanced at her. "Now what about you?"
She shook her head., her eyes averted from him "I'm all right. No more than scratches."
"I'll see to them. That was a pretty near thing that I interrupted. Can you tell me what's happened? How did you get out of the TARDIS? And where is the TARDIS?" He strode to the kitchen area and washed his hands before returning to her. During that brief intermission, the air between them, he noticed, suddenly became quite charged, with all the intensity one felt before a summer thunderstorm.
"I think I can capsulize it for you," she said, her voice suddenly very precise. "After you told me to get out of the lab, you then ordered me to help you in this monstrously stupid attempt to get to this planet. At which point I was brought along because you failed to give me insulated gloves when I threw a switch. To make up for your error, you imprisoned me in your TARDIS, only it wasn't your TARDIS. Your TARDIS is still sitting in two pieces in the lab at UNIT. What we materialized in was the TARDIS of the Doctor in this world. He's an arch criminal who apparently has some type of collection of young girls he has murdered over the last few years. The Master stepped in and saved me from being added to that collection, because you---of course---were gone, having assured yourself that I could not interfere with this mad experiment of yours. And because---as usual---you had no true idea of what you were mucking about with."
Her eyes flashed at him. "It turns out that I'm no more a danger to this world than you are. A good deal less, I should say. But to get our return fare from the Master, I had to agree to help him. So I did. I was to be bait for the Doctor of this world. He and the Master got into an exchange with those energy blasts, and the Master got the worst of it. I was just about to have my throat cut, when you showed up in the nick of time and saved me. Thank you, Doctor, for saving me from a danger that you created for me and then abandoned me to. Thank you very much. And I do not need my cuts and bruises looked after by you!"
She would have stomped out, but there was no where to go, and so she stalked across the long room and sat in a chair as far away from him as possible, with her back to him.
"Well, I suppose that you could interpret my actions that way," he said at last. She did not turn around.
He stood up, restless and irritated because he knew he had been wrong. "You know, if you had just done what I'd told you right off, you wouldn't be here," he said. "I told you to report to Yates."
"Believe me, I wish I had!"
And then she started to cry. Soft sobbing that told him she was thoroughly worn out and frustrated and in need of his comfort and assurance. He had truly hurt her.
He softened his voice and spoke persuasively to her back from across the room. "Jo, I do see that I hurt you. My actions were cavalier and unkind. I am sorry. I am truly sorry." He carefully approached her. "I'm sorry I spoke so roughly to you in the lab. It all seemed so clear---that I would pop over here, try to set things right, and then pop back."
"No you wouldn't," she sobbed. "You would never have come back. You would have traveled in this universe forever. That was your real plan. You never think of anybody but yourself!" She took in several sobbing breaths and then said, "All you want to do is thumb your nose at the High Council. You don't care who you hurt so long as you can do that! They were right to exile you! You deserve it!"
He settled his hands on her shoulders, gently, thinking she might shrug him off, but she did not.. "Maybe I toyed with that idea," he admitted. "And I do apologise. But Jo, honestly, I couldn't have gone very long without you to look after me." He leaned over her. "I do like the thought of getting away. I get carried away with it sometimes. It's like a good and happy daydream of mine." He stroked her hair. "But you know I would have to come back and get you. Don't you remember Atlantis?"
"No!" she exclaimed. "Except I sat in chains all night with you waiting to be executed."
"Yes, I remember that." He stroked her hair again. He knew that she remembered. The Master had mocked him for being unable to let her die. Even with the universe at stake, the Doctor had been unable to sacrifice her to destroy the Master's hold on Kronos. The fault of his mercy had raised much laughter from his enemy.
"But you still had to lock me in your TARDIS like a naughty child. Or a criminal!"
He stroked her hair. "I'm sorry. Won't you forgive me? Forgive me again?" he asked. He rested the side of his face on her head. "You can come with me now if you want. I think you're going to see some painful things in this world. But I'll keep you with me."
She looked up at him, her eyes and face all wet with tears, her eyes large and still unhappy. "No," she said, but not angrily. "I have to stay with him. He's my friend." Reminded of her duty, she got up and crossed the room to the sleeping timelord. Jo had not said it to hurt the Doctor. It was only a reminder to him that the Master had been shot defending her, and had continued to shoot after being wounded to save her. But if she had wanted to hurt the Doctor, she would have been gratified. A look of sharp pain went across his face. And for the first time, the very first time since Devil's End, he realized that there might exist people who could win Jo away from him. He could lose her. He followed her to the side of the Master.
"But will you forgive me?" he asked. "Will you go back to earth---our earth---with me when the time comes?"
"Yes!" she was surprised at the question, and then she said, "Yes on both counts."
"I am sorry, Jo. I have been selfish." He put his arms around her and was relieved when she instantly came, her tears still falling, but her anger gone. She nestled into his waistcoat, needing his comfort. There was a little sighing breath that Jo gave when she sought him out, the sound of her troubles being let go, of rest and trust once she had found him in a strange or dangerous place. She was unconscious of it, but he had become accustomed to it It was the sound---when they were in danger---that told him she had stopped fretting and could rest; the sound when she was grieving that told him she would recover her spirits soon, the sound of her confidence in him. Now, as her tears stopped and she let out that little sigh, he forgot himself, clasped her head between his hands, and kissed her forehead.
"I'm not angry any more," she said, thinking he needed further assurance. "But I ought to stay with him if you have to go out again." She hesitantly smiled up at him, her face between his hands. "It's a little hard to get used to, but I think the three of us are actually on the same side right now. Sort of. And he won't hurt me."
"No, I saw that he was intent on getting you away from that hideous version of me." He folded her in again, his big hand covering her head and holding her to the softness of his waistcoat. But he was a little startled with himself. He had kissed Jo before, to comfort her, to make her feel solidarity with him, even as part of earth celebrations. But this was the first time he had kissed her to reassure himself. He cautiously looked down at her, wondering why he felt so uncertain with her. It was the same Jo. Her own mind, in fact, was already back on their new adventure.
She shivered slightly. "I wonder if there's a version of me in this world."
He hesitated. "Of course," he said at last.
"Strange, isn't it?"
"She's suffered more than you," he said softly. "And lost more. And has had no real . . . guidance.'
"You've met her?" she asked.
He nodded gravely and stroked her hair. "You'll probably meet her. If this is a pitched battle to stop Professor Stahlman, we're going to have to rely on her and some of her . . . friends."
She was cautious but curious. "Did she like you right away?"
He smiled ruefully. "Not quite." He drew her in again, insistent. "Let me see to you," he said coaxingly. "You've bashed your hands against the pavement and skinned your knees and shins and who knows what else. It won't take a minute."
"I don't want you to treat me like a little girl." Her voice was still slightly resentful as she peeped up at him again from under the shelter of his shoulder. "I can look after myself."
He bent his head close to hers. "I just took care of the Master. Was I treating him like a little girl?"
She had to smile. "No. Don't be silly."
"You could call him Shirley or Flossie or something and see how he likes it." His eyes twinkled.
She laughed outright. "Stop it."
Then his eyes became more serious. "If you're going to stay with him, then I want to see to you while I can."
"Well where are you going?"
"To try to convince a young Security officer to look into what Professor Stahlman is doing." He let her go and hesitated. Again, he felt that odd uncertainty. "You can still change your mind and come with me."
"No, I shouldn't leave him." She took a step back and held out her hands towards him, palms upward. "All right."
The thin strip of sky visible through the bar-like window was becoming dusky when the Master opened his eyes to see the Doctor standing over him.
"What are you doing?"
"I was looking for cigarettes," the Doctor said. "You must have some. They're better than the official currency."
"In the cabinet next to the medical kits."
"Right. I need to take some with me."
"Very well." He watched the tall, white haired timelord cross the room.
"You're awake much sooner than I thought," t he Doctor said. "Feeling better?"
"Weak. Where is the young lady?"
"Asleep in the easy chair."
The Master glanced in the other direction and saw Jo curled up in the easy chair, a blanket over her.
"It is quite alarming to be in your power," the Master said at last. "Though I scolded her several times for feeling the same way about me."
The Doctor retrieved two cartons of ten packs each and came back to the sofa. "I understand that this universe's version of me is quite nasty."
:"Exceptionally so, and I am quite put out with myself when I consider that I fired no fewer than three shots at him and did no more than inconvenience him."
"Trying not to hit the girl?" the Doctor asked.
The Master looked thoughtful. "I'd never admit to it. It's enough to bring me up before the High Council on a charge of treason."
"I'm indebted to you for sparing her," the Doctor said. "And for looking after her."
The Master's eyes became even more thoughtful. "She's an odd little thing," he said slowly. He glanced over at her. "Would you part with her?"
The look in the Doctor's eyes quelled the Master for a moment, and then the Doctor---with some difficulty---remembered that this universe's Master had saved Jo at some cost to himself.
"What are you asking?"
"I just meant," the Master said, "That she's a loyal little thing. Very useful to have on a quest as dangerous as mine. Charming, brave, and obedient."
"And free," the Doctor said. "She's not my prisoner! It's not my right to keep her or sell her!"
"You locked her in your TARDIS!"
"That was to prevent an accident. And, by the way, I have apologized to her." He started to walk away and then turned back. "And she has forgiven me."
The Master tried to sit up but could not. He gave it up and said gently, "I wasn't thinking of buying her. I was going to try to persuade her. She could stay with me for a while, help me, and then I could send her on home."
"Well, you could ask her, but I don't think Jo is going to be much interested in a prolonged visit here," the Doctor said. He tried to hide his annoyance with the other timelord's open interest. With an effort, he made his voice casual, "Besides, if we are not successful here, Professor Stahlman will manage to destroy this planet within a year or two."
"Yes, so the young lady said." The Master's attitude was offhand. "It is quite unavoidable. If not a rogue scientific experiment, then another war would do it. I plan to have finished with the Doctor---my Doctor---by then."
The Doctor knew that it was time to go. Normally he would have simply left, but he strolled over to Jo and gently rested his hand along her cheek. She woke up and looked up at him.
"I have to go," he whispered. "I'll see you later." He stroked her cheek. She gave his hand a squeeze, smiled at him, and curled down to continue her nap. The Master eyed her as the Doctor crossed the room. The wall opened its portal for him to pass through. Jo would have fallen back to sleep again, but as the portal closed, the Master let out a soft groan.
Her dark eyes opened. He groaned again and stirred as though uncomfortable.
Jo lightly leaped up, discarded her blanket, and crossed to him.
"Are you all right?" she asked gently.
"Could I have water?" he asked her.
She hurriedly retrieved water for him in a tall glass. She had to hold up his head to help him drink it. When he had finished about half of it, he nodded and said, "Thank you, my dear. You have taken good care of me. I am very grateful."
She thought a moment and then sat down by him on the hard backed chair that the Doctor has used.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" she asked.
"I'm just so uncomfortable from this blasted wound," he told her. "It's healing, of course, much more quickly for me than it would for you. if you had received it." He tried to shift his weight around, as though restless. "I wish you would just take my mind off of it. Can you just talk to me?"
"Why not tell me about yourself and your own home?" he asked. "It must be quite different living in a version of this country where there were no purges. Tell me, did you have a pony as a little girl?"
* * * *
Back in the England that he knew, the Doctor had often turned up his nose at the public transportation system. The buses, he had often noted, were loud, bad smelling, and emitted pollution with their inefficient engines. Now, however, he had reason to wish for them. It was a very long walk to the Green Door Tavern, and he was not entirely sure that he would find what he wanted there.
However, after some discrete whispers to the man behind the bar, he was allowed into a very narrow back room. The bar man demanded first to see the cigarettes and was very satisfied with the quality of the carton that the Doctor showed him from under his coat.
"I reckon that's good for a few bottles of dark," he said.
"Ten," the Doctor told him. "And a sack to put them in."
The bar man scratched his head and looked doubtful. The Doctor narrowed his eyes. "I can see I'm wasting my time," he said. Turning away, he would have walked out, but the man said, "All right."
The exchange was made, and the Doctor strode out with his parcel.
* * * *
The Master's suite was not only equipped to ward off intruders, it was also well stocked with many fine amenities not easily found on this planet. But one of it's drawbacks was a pump that that was often shut off when the city water was low. As Jo tried to run water to make tea, the spigot over the tiny sink coughed out on drop of water in an apologetic way and was then dry.
"There's no water!" she exclaimed, coming back to him.
He frowned. "The city authorities again. They keep a flow sensor on the pump out back. It shuts off when it reaches a certain point. He turned his head and nodded to a drawer under the medical supply cabinet. "There is a key in there. You'll have to go all the way down the steps and out to the back to re-set it." He looked doubtful. "Perhaps we should let it wait. I don't like the idea of your being outside alone."
"You don't have the place surrounded with alarms?" she asked.
"Well, yes, I do." He frowned. "You won't set them off. My system recognizes people I have admitted unless I re-enter them as dangerous entities."
"Well, then that hideous version of the Doctor won't risk coming in, will he?" she asked.
"I suppose not." But he still looked doubtful.
"Oh, come on," she said coaxingly. Jo already knew perfectly well that the Master was pleased with her companionship. He liked her happy conversation and her expressiveness, and it was easy to charm him now that she had lost her fear of him. She perched on the edge of the sofa. "I'll pop down and be right back. Is there a lock on the pump?"
"No, just a re-set switch. Turn the key, that's all. It will re-set. I suppose it's all right." But his dark eyes were still not entirely sure. He made as though to get up, thinking he might go down instead, but then thought better of it.
"I'll be right back!" she promised. She practically skipped to the wall. The portal opened, and she went out.
It was a long trek down to the cement foundation. The building was one of many partially completed construction projects that had obviously stood unattended for a year or more. It was unlighted, and the steps were dim when they faced west between the landings. But the twilight had not yet settled down entirely, and she could just see her way.
The doorway at the bottom had no door. She ran across the concrete flooring and was suddenly caught by the throat. Her outcry was choked off. She was slammed backward into an unfinished brick wall. In the dimness, she saw him: the Doctor, the Doctor of this world. Only four or five hours earlier she had seen him struck on the side of the head with a massive chunk of concrete, and yet now he was apparently unharmed. He had recovered much more swiftly than the Master.
"You don't really understand the intellect you are dealing with, do you, Jo my dear?" He said, pushing her into the wall as she tried to push him away. "Did you think I was going to passively disappear, now that I've killed that bounty hunter for the High Council? Did you think I would fear to confront my own other self and kill him as well?" He pushed his fingers across her forehead, partly a caress and partly a threat. "Where has he gone? I saw him leave. Why did he leave you?"
She realized that he thought the Master was dead. She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth, willing herself to endure whatever he did to her.
"Oh, this is too predictable." His voice was disgusted. He pulled her out from the wall and pushed her back into it, slamming her head and shoulder blades into it. Her eyes snapped open. Then he pressed into her.
"I'll give you one more chance to answer. Where has he gone?"
She was too afraid to close her eyes against him, but she only fixed her eyes on his face, looking---even in that cold expression---for some hint of the Doctor that she knew, something to hold onto in her mind.
In spite of his anger, his own eyes became puzzled. "Why do you look at me like that? What do you see in my face?"
She didn't answer.
"I'm going to tell you something," he said softly, his eyes close to hers. "I use my little beauties for many pleasures. But they're not all dead. Not yet. They give me an elixir of life when I need it. Helps me along when I'm wounded." Her heart froze. She didn't understand how he could do what he was hinting at, but she believed him.
"After today's little excursion, I just happen to have a slot or two open in my collection," he said. "Shall I bring you to my TARDIS? We have grand times there."
"I can't stop you." Her voice was shaking.
"You should have heard the little one today, crying for her mother at the very end. Who will you cry for, chicken?" She didn't answer. She had to wall him out. She closed her eyes, but he took her head between his hands, and she opened them again. He was almost nose to nose with her.
"Tell me where he is. Did the High Council create him? Has he been sent to assassinate me? And what is your purpose? You are only a human." He suddenly made his eyes persuasive. "I'll kill you quickly, Jo. It's better than what the others get."
She didn't answer.
He bent his head closer, his eyes reading hers, looking into her. And suddenly he was amused. "I see what it is. You're ready to die for him? Why? For this?" He kissed her lips, his own lips suddenly light and gentle. It startled her.
He looked down at her and laughed. The Doctor's face, his hands, even the smell: expensive clothing and cologne. "And this?" He kissed her again. He smiled down at her. "You idiot. You think I might use you and discard you for my pleasure because I'm evil; and he wouldn't? because he's good?"
He relaxed his body, carefully wrapped his arms around her, and drew her into himself, not roughly, his expression suddenly mild and patient, his eyes on hers. She couldn't help the thrill that ran through her. She pushed to get away, but not with as much strength as she might have used.
He didn't fight with her. Instead, he touched her neck lightly on the side with a lingering pressure, and then moved his fingers down her back. With a gentle and warm precision he pressed them into her spine at several different points. The strength faded painlessly from her right leg and right shoulder, replaced with a numb and languorous warmth. He settled her in his arm so that she would not fall and held her securely.
"That's better. I take some of my little chickens this way. They don't know whether to be pleased or frightened." He filled his eyes with a gentleness that she had seen in her own Doctor before, and then he held her face in his hand and kissed her again, gently, with warmth. "That's what you want," he whispered. "I'll give that to you. I'm not so bad, am I?" He looked down at her. "Yes, it's still there in your eyes, chicken. Everything you feel for him." He kissed her again.
"Why are you doing this?" she asked when she could.
"Don't tell yourself that he wouldn't discard you," he said to her. "He would, and he wouldn't even know it. But you would know it. He would be telling himself that he'll come back to you, that he's got just a brief jaunt to make, a necessary detour from the life that he has promised to give you. And then he would go. He can't stay. He can't stay with anybody. It's true for all of us: We've been bred and conditioned to be solitary." His arms were strong but not rough as he embraced her again. He stroked her hair back from her face. "Perhaps you have made him sense his loneliness, and perhaps you've assuaged it. But you haven't changed him." He touched the side of his face to hers.
"Stop it," she said.
"Why, Jo? You like it. Your eyes are so big," he whispered, looking into her eyes again, "all hopeful and frightened." His voice and eyes were gentle and coaxing, his hand gentle as he caressed her lips with his finger tips. "It's no good lying to me, or lying to yourself in front of me. You want this. I can see it in your face and your eyes. Any moment now, you're going to give in. I want you to."
He touched her lips with his kiss, touched her cheek with his lips, pressed the side of his face to hers. "Jo," he whispered. "Jo, I'll give you whatever you need. Only, stay with me. Don't leave me. I understand your love now. I want your love." He looked down at her and kissed her. She couldn't stand the torment of having her own hopes pulled out like this and recited, set against the torment of genuine desire that he was calling up in her.
"Stop it." She began to cry. "Please, stop it."
"Oh Jo, don't cry. I don't mean to frighten you." He kissed her forehead and ran his nose along her nose, his forehead touching her forehead and brow. "You've found your place between my hearts. Stay with me. I'll love you as a human man would do. I'll love you forever. Stay with me." He held her chin and kissed her lips.
For a moment it was nothing but agony, hearing him recite her own deepest hopes---the ones that she knew could never come true. She felt the confusion of senses under his eyes and voice, and she knew that she could not escape this monstrous version of the Doctor, who---in spite of his perverted appetites and crimes---understood with perfect clarity her close tie with her own Doctor. She could not escape him, and she knew she would never escape what he was saying to her and what he was doing.