Blood-Dimmed Tide Episode Fourteen

Blood-Dimmed Tide

Episode Fourteen

Jeri Massi

"Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, I demand to know why I have been kidnapped by these three personal henchmen of yours and brought here," the Master snapped.

The Brigadier snorted. "Kidnapped indeed," he muttered dismissively. "I want to know about that creature you brought to Stangmoor prison."

"I refuse to comply with illegal agents," the Master retorted. "You and your officers have violated every article of prisoner rights ever set down in Geneva. I demand to be returned to my lawful escort."

"What are you blathering about man?" the Brigadier roared. "Answer the question!"

"I demand that you hear me out. What is going on?" the Master ordered.

He stood up from the cot in the tiny detention cell, and the two guards stepped closer, but the Brigadier waved them back. "We are under attack by that thing that you brought to this planet," the Brigadier told him. "And let me make this clear to you, my man. You are not on English soil; you are in the hands of the military in Israel, a nation rather well known for disliking invasions. They have a lot less patience with you than I do. "

"What do I care for your puny world politics," the Master snapped. "And what of the creature? It's dead. I saw the explosion that killed it."

"It is not dead. It is alive, and it has grown even more powerful than when you housed it in Stangmoor."

In spite of being masked by sunglasses, a faint spark of recognition appeared across the Master's face.

"You know it isn't dead," the Brigadier told him. "In Stangmoor even you could not resist it. Yet now it does not affect you at all. I want to know why. It preys terribly on the Doctor and yet does not seem to sense you at all. Not here, and not when you were imprisoned." He narrowed his eyes. "Yet you would not scruple against its wishes as the Doctor would. It would find you a much more willing ally. So why him and not you?"

The timelord let out a short laugh, appreciating the predicament of the humans. "Let it suffice that long after it has killed all of you with terrors undreamed of, I shall survive."

In one motion, the Brigadier drew his sidearm and jammed the muzzle of the gun to the side of the Master's head. The guards moved closer in case the prisoner should try anything.

"Oh no you won't," he said icily. "I'll be hanged before I let you loose. This government is in a state of military emergency, and I am governor of this bunker." He stayed still, his own eyes locked with the Master's sunglasses. Unexpectedly, Lethbridge Stewart used his free hand to knock the sunglasses away. Unafraid and unflinching, he stared into the Master's eyes.

"Let me make this clear to you," he said. "I brought you here in a last effort to stop the creature. Failing that, I will execute you before the creature finishes its work and kills us. You will not be let loose to work your injuries on other people or on other planets. Do you understand?"

The Master said nothing but fiercely locked his stare with the Brigadier's.

"Do you understand me?" the Brigadier roared.

"Yes," the Master said.

The battle of wills was interrupted when a soldier came to the cell door. "The machine from your headquarters has arrived, sir," he announced. "And the men are ready to go."

Lethbridge Stewart holstered the gun and strode to the door. "Have Miss Grant direct the moving crew to get the TARDIS up into the designated area," he ordered. "I'll be topside directly. You two, keep an eye on him." He turned to the Master as one of the guards opened the cell door for him. "I give you one hour," he said. "And then I will have you executed as a real and present danger to this operation." He strode out. The two guards followed and took their places on either side of the door. Angrily, the Master strode to the barred door. "I was kidnapped," he bellowed after the figure of the Brigadier. "This is illegal and an outrage!"

Up in the brilliant desert morning, there was no time for a long farewell. Stripped from its camaflouge and heavily shielded with conductive plating, the helicopter sent out silver rays of reflected light. The Brigadier quickly shook hands with all three men. Benton nimbly climbed in and took his place at the stick, and Alan loaded the chains inside.

"Good luck to you, Captain," the Brigadier said, shaking Mike's hand again and then saluting. Mike smiled, saluted, and said cheerily, "Back in a couple of jifs, sir. Give our best regards to Jo. She was at breakfast with us." He started for the helicopter, stopped, and turned back. "You'll look after her, sir?"

"Of course."

Yates nodded and turned away.

"All right," he said, clambering into the helicopter. "You both know the plan. Are you ready, Alan?"

Pulling the long slender chains from their crate, Alan replied with the required three words: "Yes I am."

"Let's go up, Sgt.," Yates ordered, and they ascended rapidly, with Benton controlling the stick. There was no radio, and most of the equipment was stripped out, but they were heavy from the extra shielding. They rose clumsily, and then Benton straightened the nose and they headed for the pillbox. A tail wind unexpectedly helped them along.

"Man, the desert's beautiful from up here!" Alan exclaimed as the shadow of the helicopter flew across the ground below them.

Nobody said anything else. Mike Yates scanned the skies for signs of fire bolts, with one hand ready to jettison the fuel. But Benton kept his eyes fixed straight ahead, and Alan seemed unconcerned about the danger. They all knew, in spite of the measures taken to enable them to lose the fuel, that if a fire bolt struck, there would not be time to throw a lever. And even if the fuel tanks were emptied in time, losing the fuel would surely make them drop out of the sky anyway. It was just a question of death by immolation or death by impact.

They traveled for a few minutes in silence. "There it is!" Benton exclaimed. He expertly swung the back end around and dropped the chopper down to the sand before the pillbox.

Yates tagged Alan's shoulder, and they jumped out of the craft. Alan reached inside, under the seat, and pulled out the two-man battering ram.

He hoisted it out, and he and Yates ran for the pill box. Benton scrambled out of the idling helicopter, grabbed a wrench by the seat, and started stripping off the extra shielding from the frame. It had been loosely bolted on to allow for a quick dismantling.

The ram was not necessary. The doorway was neither bolted or barricaded. The desert was bolt and barricade enough. They dropped the ram and raced inside, their chains out.

For a moment in the dimness they were forced to back against the near wall. Then Alan darted forward to the furthest end of the room, where the glassless, shutterless windows allowed for a cross breeze. A man's form lay on the dirt and broken cement floor.

"Let's go, Mike!" he shouted.

They hoisted the Doctor up, deftly wrapping him in the chains, and raced out with him between them. He didn't come around until they were bursting out into the blazing light with him. The helicopter had taken on the look of a skeleton with the shielding gone. Metal plates lay scattered around on the sand like the cracked remains of some giant shell.

"Who is it?" the Doctor asked. "I can't see."

"Alan and Mike Yates!" Alan exclaimed. "Keep your head down."

They threw him into the helicopter and clambered in after him. Before they were fairly in, Benton lifted the craft from the ground. The Doctor, flung behind the pilot's seat, stirred, and Alan fell atop him and tightened the chains, ready to lock him down to the framework.

"It's all right!" the Doctor muttered hoarsely. "It's resting."

Hesitantly, Alan looked down at him, but the Doctor made no other movement or sound, not to explain and not to struggle. He lay still, semi conscious. In the glaring light above the desert floor, Yates and Alan got their first look at him.

His clothing was in tatters, evidence of at least one escape attempt across the harsh desert. He had no shoes and no socks. Grime and sand made a mask over his face, and his hair stood on end, dirty and ragged.

"Any sign of fire?" Benton yelled over the helicopter's roar. They were hugging the ground, running fast and scared across the sand.

Yates guiltily looked around. "All clear!" he called back. The return trip seemed much more brief than the trip out had been. Benton quickly brought the chopper in before the underground bunker to allow Alan and Mike to take their burden and get out. Then he rose again to get the helicopter under cover.

Throwing off the chains, Alan and Mike rushed the Doctor down into the bunker. Jo met them in the hallway of the main floor, ready with the TARDIS key. The Doctor always had a spare hidden in the door frame. She held it up to show them, but the Doctor seemed unaware of her.

"It's no good," the Doctor murmured. "I can't fend it off."

"The TARDIS is here, Doctor," Yates said. "Quickly, Jo," he called.

She ran ahead of them, down the hall. She slid the TARDIS key into the lock. It resisted her as though the lock were rusty. As Yates and Alan rushed in and brought the Doctor closer, the lock suddenly yielded. The key went in smoothly and turned, and the door swung open.

Just as unexpectedly, the Doctor seemed to come to life. He shook off Alan and Mike and dived through the doors.

His leap propelled him to the floor of the control room on hands and knees. He hesitated and then let himself fall onto his face as he heard the TARDIS doors close behind him, locking him away from the creature. But then he made himself get up to hands and knees, and he crawled to the console, grasped the edge, and lifted himself to his knees. He rested his head against the console, unable to stand. For a moment there was only the agony and bliss of feeling the other presence completely leave his mind. It wrung a shudder of pain from him and a sob of relief. He opened his eyes but did not especially look at anything. It was enough to be on his knees in his TARDIS, his head against the console.

Something or somebody seemed to flutter near him and alight alongside him. Hands, tentative, touched his face, the tattered shoulders of his jacket, his head, his arms.

Somebody was talking and talking. Too weary to be annoyed or even puzzled, he looked to see who had come in with him, but his eyes were dried out and grimy. He could not see well. The hands, less frightened, touched either side of his face, and now he recognized the touch, the faint sweet smell of Jo's clothing and hair, and the eyes, which were all he could see.

"Jo," he gasped.

Her talk finally crystallized into words, the sort of words of tearful rebuke and chiding that a woman uses when she is overwhelmed with pity for a man who hates being pitied..

"Look at you, you're all over sand and grime," she was saying as tears spilled out of her eyes. "And you're in rags. Can you drink this, if I hold it for you?"

He felt the rim of a canteen at his lips, smelled the water and damp canvas cover, and he drank as she held it. Water coursed down his throat, slipped around his dry lips and ran down his chin, streaked the shreds of his jacket and shirt. After a moment he could hold the canteen himself. Her hand stroked his rough hair.

Then, trembling again, she tried to sweep away some of the dirt and sand on his face. Finally, he could speak again. His voice hoarse, he said, "I hurt you. I'm sorry I hurt you." He set down the empty canteen.

She tried to laugh, though his apology brought new tears to her eyes. "That wasn't you at all." She barely checked her voice from a sob. "Oh look at you. We've got to get you cleaned up so you can sort that thing out properly. We've got to get you some rest, and there's tea to make. I've got to find you some of your things to wear. Should I help you stand now?"

"But how did you get out of the tomb? We were entombed." His hands, rough from dehydration and dirt, hesitantly and gently framed her face. "I thought I-- I thought--"

"No, no it's all right," she insisted, her tears spilling over his dry fingers. "It's all right, Doctor. Won't you let me help you up? We need you so much now."

He nodded and let her assist him to his feet.

"You'll be all right once you get some water," she said. "And tea, and food. Come on then." Her arms tightly around him, she led him to the back rooms of the TARDIS.

He understood the custom of sitting up with someone, though it was the sort of human sacrament that he had never received. But after he had drunk thirstily from the TARDIS's vast water stores, and scrubbed and scrubbed the accumulated sand and grime off of his skin and out of his hair, and then dried off and donned the silk robe that the Kahn had given him, he found her in one of the back rooms, making up a bed for him. She had apparently made up her mind to nurse him back to health, under the impression that it would take days for him to recover from his imprisonment.

"Just give me an hour," he told her. He stroked her cheek and looked at her eyes as though he still could not believe that she was there. "An hour to rest and I'll be fit enough. I'll join you in the control room."

His request startled her, but her voice was a model of professionalism and agreement when she answered. "Of course, Doctor." And she went out.

He threw himself onto the bed, rolled under the cool covers, and fell asleep without hesitation in the safe, throbbing center of the TARDIS. But it was no surprise for him to wake up an hour later and find her seated in a Victorian chair alongside his bed, a tea tray on her knees. On the bedstand, she had placed a priceless Japanese water urn, with the small brazier under it lit to keep it warm.

As he opened his eyes, she smiled at him, not with tears any more but with the bright, optimistic smile that was uniquely hers. She brushed back his clean hair from his forehead. "Look, I can see who you are, now," she said gently. "You're that Doctor fellow we've been looking for."

With his skin scrubbed free of the desert accumulation, he looked much more his old self, and his incredible ability to heal was now in strong evidence.

He let out his breath, looked at her, and smiled ruefully. "I might have known," he said softly. "Whenever you agree with no fuss, it means you've already decided to do things your way."

"Did you really think I was going to go anywhere else?" she asked him. "After looking everywhere for you?"

"Have you been here by me for the last hour?"

She reached for the small urn, not answering. He saw the tremble of her lower lip. "Tea Doctor?" she asked.

"Yes, thank you."

He watched without comment as she poured the water to brew the tea and loaded a cup with rectangular cubes of sugar.

"How did you ever find me, Jo?" he asked.

She conquered her impulse to tears, smiled almost saucily, and put on an expression of being decidely pleased with herself. "We're a pretty crack outfit. Given half a chance."

"If ever I did doubt it, I don't doubt it now," he told her.

She could not resist stroking his hair back from his forehead again. The Doctor could withstand only so much sentiment before he became uncomfortable with it, and she knew it. But he did not resist the caress. He looked at her carefully. "You look worn out, Jo."

"I'm all right, now. I'll be fine."

"Tell me how you did it," he asked.

She could not resist being deliberately offhand about all that they had done to rescue him. His mouth was actually open in amazement as she finished up her account of everything to the present moment. And she told him everything, even their deception.

But at the moment, he hardly paid attention to the idea of what would happen when the Brig found out they really had kidnapped the Master. As she handed him his mug of tea, the Doctor struggled to a sitting position. "Well done, Jo!" he exclaimed softly. She dropped several petit fours from the tea tray onto a plate, glanced at him, and added two deviled ham sandwiches. She handed him the plate and stood to adjust his pillows for him so that he could sit more comfortably.

He leaned forward to accomodate her. "Honestly, Jo, I feel you hardly need me any more," he added with a sort of laugh of admiration between bites of sandwhich.

She stopped and looked down at him. He rested back against the pillows, sitting comfortably, and met her gaze. For a moment they said nothing, and then he told her, "You should have tea, too."

She sat down. His eyes, now clear and alert, rested on her thoughtfully for a moment. She didn't look at him as she poured her tea and passed another sandwhich onto his plate. "Thank you for sparing my life, Doctor," she said quietly. "You weren't even supposed to, not at that risk, but I'm glad you did."

"So am I, Jo," he told her. He set the mug onto his plate and used the back of his hand to stroke her cheek. "Hurting you would not have saved anything."

"But the soldiers--" she started, and then stopped. By now she understood why the soldiers resented her. Typical of Jo, in spite of her courage and accomplishments in the last few weeks, she was very capable of having her feelings hurt.

With another sweep of his hand he brushed her hair back. "What about the soldiers?" he asked. "tell me." She couldn't say it for a moment, but as the backs of his fingers took up her tears, she said softly, "They think it was wrong for you to trade me for the world. Their countrymen are dying because you saved me."

"No," he whispered. "No, it isn't like that." She felt a secret shame at her relief over being spared. But she realized that he understood her mixed feelings over his decision. "A person would have to be in that sort of situation to know what was supposed to be done," he told her quietly. "I could not do it. Not to anybody, and certainly not to you." She nodded with a short incline of her head, a gesture from Jo that showed that she did not understand but accepted his judgement.

"Jo, when all was said and done it would have taken me away anyway," he told her. "Will you forgive me? I hurt you dreadfully."

"It wasn't you," she began, but he hushed her with another touch of his hand on her cheek.

"Forgive me," he asked again. "There's more to guilt than consent, Jo. It used my hands. It has stained me with your blood."

"Yes, I forgive you," she told him, looking directly at him. "Gladly."

For a moment they said nothing, and then she said quietly, "Let me pour you more tea."

He said nothing else, hurriedly ate, and drained the cup she handed to him.

"I could get you somethimg more substantial," she began as he finished the last sandwich, but he was suddenly himself again.

"Yes, yes," he said absently. "Where are you keeping the Master, anyway? I think the first thing to do is interrogate him and see what he's up to." He looked around. "Where are my clothes? Did you find any?"

Their reunion was over. She stood up. "Over that chair," she said with a nod.

"All right, then. Have him brought in, will you?" he asked, "Since I dare not leave the TARDIS, he must come to me." He set aside the tea cup and plate. "I'll be out directly."

"You don't want a guard?" she asked.

"Inside the TARDIS? Oh no, it's not necessary. Unless you want to stay out there and keep an eye on him." And he smiled. "You'd be most welcome."

* * * *

It was well into the afternoon when the Master strode under guard to the door of the TARDIS and found it opening on his behalf. The Doctor met him in the doorway.

"Ah, Doctor," the Master said politely. "I congratulate you on your amazing rescue from the mind parasite."

"Why, thank you," the Doctor replied, genuinely surprised and pleased. In consideration of the desert he was wearing a white, coarsely woven shirt, khaki trousers, and knee-high boots. In spite of his scrubbing down, change of clothes, and a meal, there was a difference in his face, a hollowness in his eyes. But he was cheerful. "Very gracious of you to welcome me back," he added.

"Yes, I will find it so much more satisfying to watch you, as you watch it destroy your human pets--one creature at a time." And the Master beamed at him. "It almost makes my imprisonment worth the time and trouble."

"Don't be so blindly optimistic. I'm sure that before that happens you'll be shot trying to escape or while attempting sabatoge. You can never resist temptation, and you never do quite get it right, old boy."

He stepped aside and gestured. "Now come inside, will you? I would rather not risk letting that thing get wind of me."

The Master complied but handed the Doctor something as he entered. "It's probably not necessary down here," he said off-handedly. "I think the amount of silicate material above us will interfere with your own feeble mental transmissions. But since the Brigadier was determined that I should be used as slave labor in his little campaign, I cobbled that up for you this morning in the toy room that he calls a lab."

"You men stay out here," the Doctor told the soldiers, and glancing at the mechanism that the Master had handed him, he went back into the TARDIS.

The door closed.

"Ah, Miss Grant," the Master said as he walked to the console where Jo stood at the door control. "Back to your sweeter self, I see, now that you have the Doctor back. Not quite so ready to shoot me, I trust?"

She turned so that he could get a better look at her, and he saw a small holster strapped around her waist. "Very ready, since you ask. Doctor, you're not going to use that thing?" she demanded as the Doctor came in, still examining the object on his palm. He put his jeweler's glass into his eye.

"Oh, it's harmless, Jo," he said airily, holding it up between thumb and forefinger and getting a look at it in the light. "A big improvement on what I threw together last time."

The Master snorted. "Yes, from what I understand, your device went up in smoke. Typical. Entirely typical."

"Yes, well, I don't have your vast experience in dealing with these creatures," the Doctor said. "Now suppose you tell us why this creature has not located you. It knows you better than it knows me. It must hate you more, since you imprisoned it, and your mind is far more accessible to it--at least it was in Stangmoor prison." He let the jeweler's glass drop into his hand and then pocketed it. "So why don't you tell us why you've been invisible to it all this time?"

The Master shrugged. "A strong mind, Doctor, an indomitable will."

"Oh, yes, and what else?"

The Master leaned against the console and folded his arms, satisfied to be silent.

"Do you know that the Israeli government is now aware that you brought this creature to this planet?" the Doctor asked him. "And that the Jordanian government has also been informed of your history?"

"I am terribly frightened," the Master assured him.

"Well, you might want to consider it. I mean, when you come up on trial for your crimes against humanity, you will now have representatives from Israel and Jordan seated on the bench." The Doctor clipped the mechanism to the back of his left ear, frowned slightly, and then smiled at Jo, who was concerned. "And I mean," he added affably, "That somewhat tips the scales, doesn't it? England and West Germany oppose captial punishment, as do other European countries that will be trying you. But Israel and Jordan favor it. Puts you in a dicey spot--even if the Brigadier doesn't take the expedient of putting you up in front of a firing squad should things go against us here."

The Master frowned.

"Furthermore," the Doctor added. "You can be sure that some military organization will execute you if things continue the way that they are going. You can't get away across the desert--even in a helicopter--without being tracked, and if these humans start falling over like ten-pins before that creature's onslaught, they will hunt you down. You'll never get to your TARDIS. It's half a world away. You'll never even get to the border of the next country over."

"You and I could escape," the Master reminded him. "I could help you get away. I did before."

"Certainly--except that the timelords brought me right back," the Doctor reminded him. "And this time, I am rather committed to staying."

"They spotted your escape because you were dragging the entire mass of Axos with you," the Master told him. "Nobody could miss a signal like that. Are you so willing to stay here and be made a slave to that thing?"

"No, but I'm willing to stay to destroy it, and I intend to. I have a plan. THere is a way to kill that creature. I know how to do it now, though it will be costly."

"And you want my help?"

"Yes, and I want to know why that thing cannot detect you."

The Master stood up from where he had been leaning on the console and shrugged. "I am simply immune to its effects, Doctor," he said. "But I will help you build or concoct whatever device you need to destroy it. My options are limited, as you say, and I would like to give every appearance of cooperation, since my own life hangs on doing so. But I cannot make you immune to it."

He glanced at the Doctor with some superiority. "There are some places where that creature is not so powerful; some forces that keep it controlled. "

"Of course," the Doctor agreed. "I'm sure that in its own habitat it is held in check by native environmental factors."

"But this is not its native environment, so we will have to try what ever plan you can come up with."

"I've got one already. Look here." He fished into the pocket of his khaki trousers and produced a small notepad and a pencil stub. "Recognize this?" he asked, scribbling something onto it. Jo, looking on, gave a great start of surprise as she got a glimpse of the familiar sticks and balls arranged in hexagonal shapes. For a moment she feared that she was having one of her visions again.

The Doctor glanced at her as he passed the notepad to the Master.

"What is that?" she whispered. "Doctor, what does it mean?"

"It's a DNA ladder, Jo," he told her. "Do you recognize it? Did I get through to you?"

She looked at him, confused.

"I was trying to communicate it to you through the Sphinx," he told her gently. "That mental interface that I shared with it can work both ways, and I thought I might try to send out a message--boosted by the Sphinx's mental powers." He stopped. "I thought it never got through. It's why I thought you had been left entombed--"

"A protease flaw," the Master said, interrupting them as he examined the piece of paper. "Very useful in some creatures with a mammalian immune system." He looked thoughtful and then doubtful. "Not extremely efficient," he observed. "The protein chains are subject to attack. It wouldn't be very invasive after resistance is built up." He frowned. "Or against a creature with a high temperature."

"We'll need something easily terminated," the Doctor reminded him. "I don't intend to destroy half the earth with it--just the Sphinx."

"Kill that noble animal?" the Master asked, surprised.

The Doctor hesitated and looked grim. "We have to," he said after a moment. "The creature intends to make horrible use of the Sphinx; there's no choice."

Jo, still shaken by the realization that her visions had been deliberately transmitted to her, spoke up: "What will the creature do with the Sphinx? "

The Doctor glanced at her, and the Master looked up, interested in spite of himself.

"The mind parasite is now possessed of an excellent knowledge of human biochemistry," The Doctor reported. "It has powers of motion and transmission, but these are energy expensive. It has spent the last ten days using its own super-high frequencies to rewrite the Sphinx's genetic coding."

"To do what?" the Master asked.

"The creature--in effect--has already destroyed whatever the Sphinx once was," the Doctor told them. "It has transformed that beast into a fit receptacle for itself. Shortly, when the Sphinx is completely ready, the mind parasite shall inhabit it by directly implanting itself into the Sphinx's nervous system. It can change its own structure minimally, and it can--and has, to a large degree--change the Sphinx's nervous system."

"Why?" Jo asked, appalled.

The Doctor sighed. "For one, to give itself the form of the anti-Christ figure that the Western world fears so much. By bringing the Sphinx up from the sands, it shall seem to be fulfilling the prophecy of William Butler Yeats. It shall bring to the West--the most powerful hemisphere of the earth--the figure and the events that the West fears so much: Apocalypse--apocalypse and no hope of a second coming and rescue from evil. "

"Western governments will not believe such nonsense!" the Master retorted.

"What do Western governments matter to the creature?" the Doctor asked, his eyes once again going vacant and hollow. "It thrives on what people think and fear--common, ordinary, everyday people. When it destroys Bethlehem and takes its place of authority among the ashes there, it shall bring millions to their knees in fear." He glanced at Jo. "And then it will destroy Jerusalem, the holy city. And I'm sure that Rome will be next."

"But why the Sphinx!" the Master exclaimed. "It can do all this without a mammalian body!"

"The Sphinx can move with very little effort," the Doctor said. "It shall physically provide the creature with the image of the anti-christ as Yeats prophesied. In time the creature shall customize its vast, unused brain matter to transform it into an even better interface than I was. And the simple ability to move with muscular and skeletal power, to perceive through an ocular system and to conserve its power in a sleep that still allows for some limited sensory perception are all advantageous to it. It will still retain its ability to teleport itself and others, and to generate the destruction that we have seen so far. It will--in essence--gain all of the strength of the Sphinx and lose none of its own powers."

"And you think you can stop it with this?" the Master asked, gesturing with the scrap of paper.

"It's immune system is practically virginal from its long hibernation in the sands," the Doctor insisted. "As soon as the Sphinx next emerges, we must have that virus ready. We can lace its way to Bethlehem with it."

"It will never work! It's madness. Other viruses, pollutants, air currents themselves will interfere. And you can't get close enough to directly inject it or infuse its lungs with it."

"It's our only chance," the Doctor said grimly. "Open the TARDIS doors, please, Jo." She turned to the console.

"I will not play at this losing game of yours, Doctor!" the Master shouted. The doors behind him opened, and he saw that the soldiers were waiting outside. A tremor passed through his face as he realized that he had no options.

"At least," the Doctor said, gesturing for the Master to go out ahead of him. "In the end you'll have to face up to the destruction you've brought on these people. The one good thing about the creature is that it will bring you down with everybody else if it succeeds." He strode to the open door behind the Master and spoke to the guards. "Take him back to the lab that the Brigadier has set up. I'll be along shortly."

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