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
The Doctor hesitated as he climbed the last few of the teetering flights of stairs. Through the thin door of Kit's apartment, he could hear faint voices. Jimmy was certainly there, but the Doctor was not entirely sure that Kit had forewarned her lover of his return.
The Doctor cautiously approached the doorway, then stood to the side and knocked. Jimmy himself opened the door.
"All right it's you then," he said gruffly, but he did not close the door on the Doctor.
"I've come to ask you for help," the Doctor told him.
"Help costs a lot these days, doesn't it?"
The Doctor shook the paper sack. "Nine bottles of best dark, and all I want you to do is listen to me."
Jimmy took a rather long moment to eye the Doctor up and down and then to stare hard into his eyes. Oddly enough, this inspection was carried out with a very open look of caution on the young man's face, rather than hostility.
"I'm not armed," the Doctor told him. "And I'm not going to ask you to do anything illegal. I just want you to look into something for me. It may benefit you in the end."
At last Jimmy stepped aside, and the Doctor entered. Kit's eyes fastened on him for a moment before her hard, skeptical expression returned. He realized with a faint flicker of hope that he had kindled some type of interest from her. If she had been born with a personality identical to Jo's, then there was still a capacity somewhere inside her for genuine friendship. Perhaps the rigors of this world had not yet rooted it up.
"Nine bottles of dark brew," the Doctor said, passing the heavy sack to Jimmy. Jimmy opened it up and peered inside.
"There's ten in here," he said as he counted.
"Well, one of them is for me," the Doctor told him.
Kit brushed past the Doctor to go to the kitchenette, and the Doctor effortlessly slipped the carton of cigarettes to her out of Jimmy's view. She just as neatly took them and passed out of sight for a moment, hiding them away.
Jimmy fished a bottle from the bag without argument and handed it to the Doctor. He extracted one for himself, then crumpled the bag closed and set it down against the wall.
"All right," the young officer said. "You wanted my attention. You've got it for as long as this bottle lasts me. So talk."
"As I told your young lady friend earlier, there is a man named Professor Stahlman who is undertaking to drill through the earth's crust and mantle and into the very core of this planet," the Doctor said. "The technology is sophisticated enough for the drilling to be carried out. But Stahlman does not adequately grasp the ramifications of upsetting the pressure equilibrium inside this planet. If he succeeds with this project, the change in pressure in the earth's structure will cause intense pressure on the weakest geological plates. There will be massive tectonic shifts."
"Earthquakes, you mean?"
"Also volcanic eruptions where they have never been seen before. It could destroy the entire planet."
"I never heard of this Stahlman fellow."
"But isn't there a core of government scientists? They use imprisoned scientists and engineers to work on their projects?"
"Labor camps, you mean?" Jimmy asked, offhand. But as Kit returned, her own eyes widened at the reference, and the Doctor wondered if she had spent any of her youth interred in such a place.
"There's one secured labor force for them that's thumbed their noses at the government," he said. "But it's all top secret stuff. None of those blokes go in or out and they can't have visitors. I hear it's a bit nicer on the inside, though, than most of the work camps."
"Prisoners just the same," Kit muttered.
"Here you, that's enough!" Jimmy exclaimed. The Doctor realized that Jimmy simply did not want her voicing that opinion in front of a stranger.
"But somebody must direct the labor of such a place," the Doctor asked. "If those people are forced to work on projects, there must be government scientists who run the projects."
"Oh aye." He took another swig of his beer and wiped the back of his hand across his nose. "I don't know their names. Ain't my department."
"But if Professor Stahlman is initiating such a project, and you were to look into it---"
"I might get my hand slapped. Good and hard." But Jimmy looked thoughtful.
"There must be officers over you who want to keep control of the labor camps and of the government scientists," the Doctor said persuasively. "If there are projects going on without your knowledge---without the express knowledge and approval of the Security Detail---"
"Yeah, yeah!" Jimmy snapped. But he was agreeing. "There are blokes who think they're too important to answer to the Security Detail. And the scientists have a right good time lording it over us because we don't have it up here like they do." He tapped his forehead.
"Tell your superiors that you have a friend who does have it up here," the Doctor told him, tapping his own forehead. "I can show them on paper the catastrophic results that will occur if Stahlman carries out this project. I can prove what I'm saying with facts, numbers, and physics. Build them a model if they want."
Jimmy looked both doubtful and thoughtful.
"Wouldn't a stint as a government overseer in a science labor camp be better than what you're doing now?" the Doctor asked. "Higher rank, better pay, and all you'd have to do is read reports."
"No interrogations," Kit said without thinking. He put his hand on her arm to still her but now he looked very tempted.
"All the same," he said, shooting a wily look at the Doctor. "What do you get out of it?"
"Young man, I am convinced that Professor Stahlman's project will destroy this earth!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Preventing that is my first priority. Beyond that---" He shrugged. "I suppose there is always room for advancement." He smiled in a faintly conspiratorial way. "A man with a good mind and good friends can go very far in this world."
"All right," Jimmy said. "I'll look into it." And then, to the Doctor's great surprise, the young Security Detail officer said, with very labored formality, his eyes down as though embarrassed, "Would you like to sit down, Doctor?"
"Yes," the Doctor said. "Thank you very much."
* * * *
Jo's pushing finally stopped and turned into a trembling that she could not control or hide from her captor.
"That's my sweet girl." He nuzzled her hair and kissed her ear and then her neck. "I'm not going to kill you, chicken," he said softly, pulling her head in and kissing her forehead and hair. "No. I'm going to let you live. Let you go back to him. That's the punishment for interfering with me. He'll wound you with a permanent, everlasting wound. And now, after this, you'll foresee it from him." He kissed her lips. He drew her in to himself again and became silent as he kissed her face, and her hair. "I'll be back, eventually. To kill him, and then you. But first I'll let him betray himself. You're going to know that he can never love you." He gently pushed her against the wall, gave her a moment, and let her open her eyes. And then he said, "He can never give himself to you the way you could have given yourself to him." A faint smile flickered around his lips as he saw that she realized that this was true. "Never."
He had removed all the strength from her, and now he lowered her in his arms to the rough floor. He came down with her, rolling her onto her back, her head in his hand. But then he slowly stood up, gazing down at her with the quiet expression in his eyes again.
"That will do," she heard him say. "That's enough to destroy you. You'll never go back to what you once believed in. He and I can both imitate the love that you want, but we cannot possess it. Take that knowledge with you and despair." Pain suddenly exploded through her midsection as he kicked her savagely, a single powerful blow that doubled her in two. She gasped for breath, gagged, and lost her vision. Whistling, he strolled away into the darkness.
* * * *
Though gratified at the sudden, uncertain hospitality of his hosts, the Doctor could not stay long. The curfew would soon fall, and besides that, he was uneasy about Jo. He was not yet used to the idea of the Master as a willing ally. And though this world's version of the evil timelord seemed to have become genuinely fond of her, the Doctor still wanted to monitor things. Though much of an improvement in this world, the Master was still amazingly offhand about being ruthless when he needed to be. And though he had showed some kindness to Jo, he was amazingly unconcerned about the doom that hung over this entire planet.
Kit and Jimmy also seemed relieved when he excused himself with many thanks and stood up to leave. The Doctor half suspected that Jimmy had wanted him to stay out of a fear of the dark and the night. Just as he went to the door, his eyes scanned the room and took in the drawn blinds and the bright lamps.
"You have trouble sleeping?" he asked suddenly, turning at the door.
Jimmy was so startled at the direct question he said, "Yeah, a bit."
The Doctor locked his eyes onto Jimmy's for a moment. "Not tonight," he said softly. He held Jimmy's eyes with his, and his expression became more mild. "No restless dreams, tonight, Jimmy. Not a sound. Only sleep."
Jimmy didn't answer, but the tenseness that was always a part of his face relaxed.
"Do you hear me, Jimmy?"
Amazed, Kit looked from the Doctor to Jimmy.
"Yes, Doctor," Jimmy said in a clear voice. He didn't seem to be in a trance. He only looked as though he were listening to something.
"Only sleep. From now until five a.m." The Doctor reached out and touched Jimmy's forehead. Then he nodded to Kit and said, "Good night. Thank you. I'll be back tomorrow evening."
Kit had meant to demand more cigarettes, but she was too dumbfounded.
The door closed after their strange visitor, and Jimmy looked down at her. "I'm awful tired, Kit," he said. "I'm going to bed."
* * * *
Just before curfew fell, the Doctor arrived back at the partially constructed building that was now home. He was cautious as he slipped into the doorless doorway. But in the glow from a single street lamp outside, he was able to make out the shape of somebody huddled on the steps. It was the Master. He had his weapon pointed at the Doctor.
"I'm the Doctor," he said quickly. "The other one, I mean. Jo's guardian."
"Guardian," the Master said with a sound of both amazement and sarcasm. "Come in then. See what he has done to her."
It was only then that the Doctor realized that somebody was with the Master. And the Master---all caution---still had the weapon trained on him.
"I was just at Kit's flat. Working on trying to track down Professor Stahlman," the Doctor said, using his story as a password. His double would not know these names. He realized that the other shape on the steps was Jo. The Master was sitting on the steps with her between his knees, her head against his chest, below his wound. He was holding her head with one hand, his arm over her. At the Doctor's report, the Master lowered the gun.
"What's happened?" the Doctor asked. "What's she doing out here?"
"She came down to turn on the water pump," the Master said. "When she didn't come back, I tried to come down to find her. But I didn't do very well. I was too weak. I went off my feet after about two flights. By the time I got down here, he had finished with her."
The Doctor knelt down by them. He rested his hand on Jo's face. She was cold, but breathing. "How did he get past your security measures?"
"It was my fault," the Master said. "He's genetically identical to you. After the security system accepted you inside, I forgot to reset it. So it accepted him. He shut off the pump, knowing she would come down to reset it. And when she came down, he attacked her."
"Attacked her? How---"
"I don't know. She was hysterical. I put her to sleep. It was all I could do. We've got to get her upstairs."
"All right." The Doctor stooped closer and gathered her up in his arms. "What about you?" he asked. "If you had a hard time coming down the stairs, you'll never get back up them."
"Come back for me. But now that I'm down here, I can see to the pump."
* * * *
After Jo was brought back to the apartment and the Doctor had assisted the Master up the many flights of steps, the Master re-set the security system. He brought out his medical bag but also brought out a syringe from a separate cupboard.
"What's that?" the Doctor asked. He had already stripped off his coat and was alongside the sofa, Jo's wrist in his hand, taking her pulses.
"A slightly magnetic solution, Doctor. It will give you a varied reading from your double. The system will recognize you and let you in."
The Doctor nodded and allowed the injection. He nodded for the Master to push up his sleeve for him.
"Consider it an addition to your natural magnetism," the Master said lightly as he pushed the tip of the needle in..
"Spare me your witticisms," the Doctor snapped.
"Better a light touch." But the Master withdrew the syringe, capped it, and set it aside. He turned to Jo. "You're not going to like this," he said. He opened the bag at his feet. "I'm familiar with our adversary. I have a kit prepared especially to examine his victims. Though I don't usually find them alive. That part remains a mystery."
He withdrew a hand held device like a wand that was attached by a thin lead to a flat palm-sized object that looked like a small mirror with the glass removed and the silvery backing showing. He ran the wand over her face and watched the flat object, reading it. "Saliva," he said. "His." He continued checking. "On her neck and throat as well."
"Scratches?" the Doctor asked.
"Not on her face or head." He continued the examination. "I don't think he removed her clothing." He ran the wand down her body. "No," he said. "Apparently he started a sexual attack and did not finish it. But she was in physical pain when I found her, doubled over. I thought he had raped her."
The Doctor shot him a glance as the Master wrapped the device up and stowed it in his bag. "He does that?" the Doctor asked. "Assaults human women that way?"
"Oh yes. And he has many variations. And then he does worse things. We ought to wake her up. Let her see my face first so that she won't be confused."
The Doctor allowed this, sitting back out of the way.
The Master put his hands on either side of her face. "Jo," he said. He did something quickly with his hands, a swift tap of his fingertips at the top and center of each eyelid to make the optic nerve flash. "Jo."
At the painless stimulus, she opened her eyes. For a moment she did not seem to know where she was, and then her wide dark eyes flicked over to him.
"You're safe," the Master said. "We brought you up here. I've re-set the security system."
She didn't say anything, but he saw that she understood him.
"The Doctor is here," he said, moving slightly. "Your Doctor. I've verified his identity."
She looked over his shoulder, saw the Doctor, and nodded slightly.
"Are you in pain, Jo?" The Doctor asked. "Did he hurt you?"
"Here." She touched a hand to the side of her abdomen. "He kicked me. It hurts---a lot."
The Master relaxed and leaned back as she spoke. The Doctor leaned forward. "All right," he said gently. "Let's take a look and make sure you're all right. Here?" He rested his hand on her side, ready to palpate her abdomen.
"No! No! No!" she screamed. "Get off! Get away!" She slapped his arm and hand away with many frightened blows of her hands. "Get him away! Get him away!"
The Master instantly inserted himself between them as the Doctor hastily pushed himself back from her and then retreated across the room.
The Master's eyes blazed. "That is quite enough!" he snapped. "Behave yourself!"
Jo instantly stopped and got better control of herself. "He will not touch you again, but you are not to behave that way," the Master ordered. "You can control yourself, and you will. Do you understand me?"
She nodded, eyes huge with fear.
"Lie down. I will see to you," he said. "Doctor, make tea and set on a separate pan of water. We may need to make a poultice."
She did not become hysterical again as the Master palpated her abdomen and pulled back her shirt above the belt to look at the sight of the blow. "Yes, it caused some separation in the muscle, but I think it will heal. May give you a little diarrhea," he said. "We'll have to watch for blood in the stool. But I think you'll be all right. Just sore."
"I'm sorry," Jo said.
"A time lord is fully aware of the limits of human beings," he said haughtily. "We excuse your fear, but you do not need to be hysterical."
"She's really very young," the Doctor said gently, almost apologetically, coming back from the tiny gas stove.
"Yes, yes." The Master's tone was dismissive. "Stay over there, Doctor, until she regains her composure. She may be young, but she ought to know by now who her friends are. And if you are going to cry," he added with a sidelong glance at her. "Do it quietly. I will not have you sniveling out loud. Lie down, and I will bring you tea."
She obeyed him. He stood, still hesitant on his own legs. As he walked past the Doctor, the Doctor lowered a hand to the Master's wrist. "She is quite young," he said. "You're too harsh with her after what she's been through."
The Master's eyes were still grim and sober, but he offered a faint smile to his ally. "You don't know humans all that well, Doctor," he said. "Let me have my way. This is better for her than sympathy right now. She will find that she can control herself. And by morning she will be very glad of your company again after putting up with mine. You may question her then and find out what he did and what he said. I need to scan her now for any new devices he may have planted on her."
* * * *
To Kit's amazement, Jimmy slept the night away without a murmur. He didn't even stir, except when she came to bed. He awakened enough to rest his head on her. She awakened several times in the night just to hear him breathe and to realize again that he was sleeping peacefully. In the morning, he was sweet tempered and gentle with her.
After he had eaten breakfast and was dressed, he made her tea, new tea with the packet he had planned on taking with him for his workday tea. Then he opened the blind in the front room and stood and watched the city wake up. She came and stood by him, and he held her in his arms. They looked out at the city together, just watching the sunrise.
"Do you have to leave?" she asked.
"Yes, Kitten. Every day I miss is a day longer that we have to stay." He stroked her hair. "But I'll be back."
"You'll look into Professor Stahlman?" she asked.
"Yes. I want to handle those scientists gently. The government's keen on them. But the men above me want to get a foothold among them. Maybe this is the way."
"You'll be careful?"
"Of course. Just routine questions."
He kissed the top of her head. "I have to go."
* * * *
As the tiny slit of a window admitted a bar of weak light to announce the morning, Jo opened her eyes. She turned and saw the Master, asleep on the floor, his face white. He had seen to her several times during the night, and in spite of his stern words each time, he had been gentle with her and thorough in his care. Yet he was not even recovered from his own wound.
She glanced around and saw the Doctor dozing in the easy chair. He was still in his shirt sleeves.
"Doctor," she said quietly.
His eyes instantly opened, and he regarded her with that mildness of expression that his double had so perfectly duplicated. And yet, Jo thought, it had been only a duplication.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"That wasn't you," he said in a quiet voice. "That was him. I've already decided to pay him back for it."
She extended her hand to him, and he came to the side of the sofa, moving with some deliberation to avoid startling her. His big hand swallowed hers, and her mind settled on this facet of her Doctor that her enemy had not known to duplicate. The evil and cruel Doctor of this universe would never know the comfort of finding the Doctor's hand on a strange planet or in the middle of danger. He would never guess that her own trust in her Doctor and their friendship had started from his willingness to give her his hand. It had even been the first step of her being awakened by him to the vastness of the universe and to the better qualities in herself that had come to life under his influence.
"Well, your grip hasn't suffered," he said gently. He lifted her hand and grasped it to himself between his hearts. "Can you tell me what he said to you, Jo?"
"He showed me things about myself," she said in a small voice. "Humiliating things about myself."
He was lost on this. His face and eyes were grave, but she could see he had absolutely no idea what his double could have shown her about herself that would humiliate her.
"You mean," he asked gently. "He made you think of humiliating things? Like the time we were climbing that fence at Devil's End and the barbed wire ripped your knickers off?"
"No," she said. And suddenly his complete incomprehension struck her as funny. She was bruised and humiliated and her spirit-if not her body---had been ravaged by the evil Doctor of this world. And yet, here she was, tempted to laugh. But it would hurt him, so she did not.
"There are things that humiliate human women, Doctor," she said. "Things that men can do."
"Yes Jo, I've seen that. I have," he said quickly. "But there's nothing humiliating in being a woman or being forced upon by a cruel man. You're still Jo. You're still of value to everybody who cares about you. The fault and the wrong are in him, not you."
She didn't answer him. At last he said, with great concern and hesitancy, "Jo, if you've found a place between my hearts, that's nothing to be ashamed of. If you've made me your very best friend, that's nothing to cause you fear or worry." As she still said nothing, he asked, "Was it because he had my face, Jo? And my voice? Did he use my features to torment you?"
"Yes," she said. She was surprised at his acumen, but she realized that he still had no true idea of what his double had said and done. For the Doctor's duplicate had not only showed Jo secrets about herself but about the Doctor as well. Sooner or later, he was going to find that scheme that would get him away from earth, and he would slip off without her. He would tell himself it was just a test or just temporary, but she would never see him again. She had really known that truth when all this had started, but now it was irrefutably brought home to her.
"The Master says that this Doctor never spares his victims," the Doctor told her. "Do you know why he let you go?"
She decided not to answer fully. "He says that he's going to kill you and then kill me. I think he wanted me to tell you that," she said. She remembered something. "He thinks that the Master is dead. He's guessing that you've been sent by this universe's High Council of the Timelords to assassinate him."
"Well he's arrogant, anyway," the Doctor said. She arched her eyebrows, but he missed the look. "Can you sit up?"
"Yes, it just hurts. Nothing serious." She let him help her to a sitting position, but as he did, she got a whiff of his cologne. "You both wear the same cologne," she said in a small voice.
"I'll switch. Might be a good security measure." He glanced around the room. "I'll borrow something from the Master. Whatever he's got will be more expensive than mine, anyway."
"Do you trust him?" she asked.
"He wants to get his job done," he told her without hesitation. "And he doesn't especially care about what humans bring onto their own heads." Then, to be fair, he added, "But neither does he approve of what my counterpart does to humans. He just seems determined to do his job and get out of here."
"The High Council might disapprove if he interferes here," she said. "Even to save the Earth. I get the idea that they don't like to be crossed at all, and they frown on initiative. They want him to do only exactly what they tell him to do."
"It does seem that way. I need to ask him more about this aberrational universe theory of his."
She glanced over at the Master, not seeing him close his eyes as she turned. "He's probably exhausted."
"I'll find us all some breakfast," the Doctor said. He went to the kitchen area, and Jo lay down again. The Master opened his eyes, his face deep in thought.
* * * *
Jimmy had a driver to worry about the way to the Engineering Work Force, which was the proper name for the project headquarters and labor camp where the dissidents from among the scientists and technologists were kept. During the drive, Jimmy read the dossier he had retrieved on Professor Stahlman. Jimmy himself was not a scientist and had been only passably good at mathematics in his abbreviated education. But he knew how to read records and he knew how to check a history. He could see from the files that Professor Stahlman was an enterprising man, very bold and charismatic among his inferiors. He had also heavily endorsed the party and the government at the right times. But his proposal for the drilling project, though quite carefully outlining the mechanics of how to go about it and documenting the cost factors, lacked any specifics on risk factors, safety, or geological effects. Several paragraphs in the outline were plainly marked as "TBS," the standard nomenclature for "To Be Supplied."
In spite of his dislike of interrogations, Jimmy was good at his job. He knew how to see through bluster and smoke screen, and he could read with a critical eye, especially when he knew what to look for. Stahlman's research heavily credited a German scientist and referred to numerous papers that this man had produced on the possibilities of utilizing subterranean resources for energy production. There was little other research presented.
At the Engineering Work Force headquarters, Jimmy was received more coolly than was usual for an officer of the Security Detail. But offenses like this did not ruffle him at all. He would come into his own eventually. There was already enough in the dossier alone to give him a good case against Stahlman and the whole project. But the collection of reports gave no indication of the status of the project, not even if it had received funding.
After many snubs and false trails, he was shown into the office of the Deputy Projects Manager.
"Well, uh, Captain Owen," the man said, sitting behind his desk and not offering a chair to Jimmy. "What can we do for you?"
"I'm reviewing the drilling project of a Professor Stahlman," Jimmy told him. "I'd like to know its status."
"Dear me, what has Professor Stahlman done to merit the scrutiny of your fine organisation?" the man asked.
"Nothing sir. We are merely checking expenses," Jimmy said. "The Security Detail tries to protect the budget of the country, as well as her borders."
"Very well, Captain. I shall take you down to the project area. We only have a few government men working on it, and nobody from the work force yet. Funding has been approved, but the Work Force is backlogged at present."
"Perhaps we can round up a few more for you," Jimmy said.
"Regrettably, Captain, the best minds seem to have fled the country. We can no longer even arrest them." He stood up. "It is this way."
Questioning the minimal staff of the drilling operation did not turn up much information, other than confirmation that Professor Stahlman was in almost constant contact with a German scientist named Haas who seemed to be guiding the project from afar. Nobody had ever heard of Hass before this project, and nobody had read his papers. But the project team was made up of government mathematicians and mechanical engineers; no geologists or physicists.
Jimmy at last ended his interviews and spoke to the Deputy Projects Manager before leaving. "The Security Detail has one or two points it still needs to clarify," he said. "We shall be back soon to continue our inquiry."
"Has anything displeased you?" the Manager asked. "Why not sit down and tell me about it?"
He was being conciliatory now that he realized the force of the Security Detail was about to come down on him. Jimmy shook his head. "I am neither pleased nor displeased," he said. "Just not satisfied that the requirements for a project of this magnitude have been met satisfactorily. I must initiate an inquiry. I'll be in touch."
He strode out. After a long moment, the Deputy picked up the telephone on his desk and dialed a few numbers. "This is twelve from the ravine," he said. "We have a problem. I think it needs to be fixed right away."
* * * *
Mike Yates was just closing up his office for the day. Everybody else was gone. The telephone rang. He picked it up.
"Meters," he said.
He knew the voice. "Yes."
"That Captain that you've been watching. He's becoming dangerous."
"How? Does he suspect the girl?"
"Possibly. He's arranging to close down the Project. We have four operatives in the warren, and they're all in danger. He was in there today, questioning them. He must be stopped."
"I promised the girl we'd leave him alone."
"Keep that promise, and you'll kill four of your comrades and ruin our one chance for freedom. The plans are in place for the power kick-out and the coup. If he shuts it down, we're all ruined."
"All right," Yates said. "I'll take care of it."
"Tonight?" Yates' voice was incredulous. "Doctor, that's impossible!"
"Get it done right, Yates. And get it done tonight. Or the four in the warren will go down on suspicion. I don't care what happens to the girl. But Owen must be done. Tonight."