"Your father and uncle say that these artifacts were sneaked out of the pyramids over a hundred years ago," Miss Sawyer said to Diana.
Diana glanced at her tutor from the confines of the wheelchair with a sort of rebellious boredom. The artifacts did not bore her, but Miss Sawyer did. As far as tutors and companions went, she was about the best for even temperament, but the worst for boredom. Boring talks, boring walks, boring everything. Even Miss Haversham, that old battle axe against whom Diana had shivered a lance or two of willpower, had been better than meek, agreeable, boring Miss Sawyer.
"Look at this dear old lamp, here, dear," Miss Sawyer said, bending down to scoop up a severely tarnished oil lamp from the display case. As she did, Diana deftly produced a metal fingernail file in her left hand, and nimbly lanced it through Miss Sawyer's stocking, right behind the knee where the nylon had bagged slightly. Miss Sawyer, not noticing the quick slice, straightened up with the lamp in her hand, examining it with reverence while a wide stripe ran down her right stocking leg.
"Isn't it so arcane?" she coo'd, more to the lamp than to Diana.
"What's that flat thing over there?" Diana asked, nodding at a gold disk in the furthest corner of the case. Miss Sawyer had to turn away from her and bend way over for that. As she did, both plump calves were exposed. Diana made quick work with the nail file, and the other leg quickly ran from knee down to heel. The pair of runs looked like racing stripes down the back of the well fleshed legs.
"It looks like a medallion of some kind. Probably am insignia of royalty. Would you like to hold the lamp dear?" Miss Sawyer asked. She dropped the lamp into Diana's hands so that she could examine the disk. "Oh dear, look at the time. I had better see where your tea is. Would you like to take the lift downstairs, dear?"
"No, bring the tea up, I suppose," Diana told her.
Miss Sawyer bustled away, oblivious of the deft sabotage to her stockings.
Diana picked up the lamp. "I wish you were Aladdin's lamp," she said, rubbing it with the cuff of her sleeve. "It would be a way out of here." She disconsolately turned it over to rub the other side, but some shift in the lighting of the room made her look up.
She gasped at sight of a tall dark haired man and dropped the lamp. He deftly caught it and then in the same motion dropped into an admirable bow. "What is your wish, my mistress?"
Boredom gave way to terror, but she had made it a habit to never be impressed with anything brought before her. Even now, with an intruder in the house, and her alone with him with several rooms and stairways between them and help, she was unwilling to scream.
"Who are you?" she asked. Fear made her voice a high pitched whisper.
He did not rise. "Only your servant, madam."
"You wished for me, here, Diana, and I have come. I am the genie of the lamp."
He looked up at her. "May I stand before your presence?" he asked.
Frightened, she nodded. "How did you get in here?" she asked. "I never heard you."
"Some would call it transmaterialization," he told her with a brief, almost sardonic smile. "But let us just say that you called me forth from the lamp."
She took the moment to get a better look at him. He wore a flaming colored cape. In fact, it was a cape of many colors, and the colors seemed to shift as he moved, so that it was hard to see exactly what the colors were. But underneath the cape he wore only black, and his moustache and beard gave his face a long, saturnine look.
"Who are you?" she whispered. Some sort of power and authority seemed to radiate from him, yet she knew that any lunatic could be firmly convinced of being a genie. A cover of authority and power could be learned.
"I have frightened my mistress," he said contritely. "I did not mean to." He retreated a step from her wheel chair. "How shall I calm my mistress's fears?" he asked, half to her and half to himself. "What small gift shall I give her as a token of peace?" He held out his open hand to her, turned his fingers from the palm outward, and somehow produced a glowing, glistening gem that he offered to her.
Hesitantly, she reached out and gingerly took it from him. Her fingers could not avoid touching his, and she shivered, half from terror, and half from the delight of the sheer adventure of what was happening.
She looked at the brilliant jewel. Actually she had very little use for jewels of any sort, and they did not interest her. But the wonder of how he had produced such a thing captured her interest, and she examined it carefully. "It's lovely," she said at last.
* * * *
"Doctor, that thing is putting a drain on the power supply," Brigadier Lethrbidge-Stewert shouted over the roaring of the Doctor's latest invention. "I demand that you shut it down!"
"Nonsense, Brigadier!" the Doctor shouted back, trying to be breezy in spite of the huge gauntleted lab gloves he was wearing and the hideous goggles that covered half his face. "It's got no more power drain than a coffee pot. You think I don't know how to make an efficient diamondizer?"
"I don't care what it is, shut the blasted thing off! You're interrupting operations!" the brigadier shouted. He spied Jo Grant over by the power controls. Intimidated by the cyclone like noise of the Doctor's latest invention, she was almost cowering behind the controls, as though expecting the "diamondizer" to explode. Such events had been known to happen with the Doctor's inventions. "Miss Grant, I order you to shut this thing off!" he roared.
A tremendous crackling interrupted them, and the Doctor waved frantically to Jo, who quickly threw the fail switch.
Exasperated, the Doctor ripped off the goggles and tore open the top of the diamondizer. It was a squat, drum-like container. For all the word it looked like nothing more sophisticated than a stainless steel candy floss machine.
It startled the Brigadier to see the Doctor begin pulling out long strands of some stiff, web-like material, almost exactly like cotton candy, but much less pliable.
"What in blazes is that?" he asked.
"It's ruined, that's what it is," the Doctor told him. "There was a power drop. Lasted only a fraction of a second, but it's ruined it."
"That's just what I wanted to talk to you about," the Brigadier told him. "This gadget of yours has caused abrupt power drops and surges in the last several minutes. They've shut down some of the finer sensing equipment. And there are reports coming in of power disruptions from here to the radio observation towers by the airfield."
Jo came around to the diamondizer.
"Ruined, Doctor?" she asked.
"Absolutely trashed," he said, exasperated.
"What are you working on, anyway?" the Brigadier asked him. "It looks like glass spider webs."
"Diamond," the Doctor said briefly.
"Yes. Using high speed and high pressure at careful modulations, I should be able to produce the filaments necessary for the TARDIS's cabling," the Doctor told him. "Takes some careful modulations to get the molecular arrangements I want, but this blasted power system is too unreliable." He glanced at the Brigadier as though it were the Brigadier's fault. "A surge or drop of only one one- hundredths of a second can destroy a day's work. And it just did!"
"Now Doctor, you cannot blame the British power system for your own device's failures," the Brigadier told him.
"You yourself just told me there have been surges and drops over half the countryside," the Doctor retorted.
"I was under the impression that those events were your fault," the Brigadier told him.
"Not a bit," the Doctor said. "The efficiency of this machine is one hundred percent. The power company won't even charge you for it."
"I'd like to see you explain that," the Brigadier began.
"It's fabulous, Brigadier," Jo chimed in. "He showed it to me. There are heat converters in the bottom. It converts the heat energy it produces back into electrical--"
"All right, all right Miss Grant," the Brigadier told her. He glared at the Doctor for a moment, and the Doctor looked thoughtful.
"Then what does drain off the power over half the countryside?" Lethbridge-Stewart asked. "Even if for only a hundredth of a second."
"Any operation that would require a great deal of power," the Doctor told him. "Or that produces a great deal of power."
"Do you think it's a tap on the power lines?" Jo asked.
The Brigadier nodded, but the Doctor shook his head. "No, that's not likely. I think maybe they were suppressed."
"Suppressed?" the Brigadier asked.
"Sorry--say, distorted. Strong momentary magnetic fields could interfere with the electrical transfer along power lines." He looked at the diamondizer regretfully. "I suppose I should set this aside until we've got this cleared up."
* * * *
Out in the hall, heavy foot steps trod on the top steps. "Oh dear, I've snagged my stockings somehow," Miss Sawyer was saying. Diana was about to glance at stranger to warn him to hide, but he was gone again. She looked down at the lamp. He had dropped it into her lap, and a faint resonance of motion from it made her wonder if he had really escaped into it.
Miss Sawyer entered, bearing the heavily laden tray with Diana's tea--far too many things, as usual. But of course Miss Sawyer would finish it all.
"Are you all right, my dear?" she asked. "You look as if you'd seen a ghost."
"No, I'm fine. Just tired," Diana said. "I think I would like to go to my room now."
"But your tea, dear--"
"I don't want it. I want to go to my room. I'll be down for supper later."
Resolutely, she wheeled herself toward the door, carefully turning so that Miss Sawyer would not see the lamp tucked between herself and the side of the wheelchair.
Miss Sawyer was not a person to object strongly to anything. In fact, chances were even that she knew it was Diana who had run the stockings, but she wouldn't say anything. Diana's father was paying Miss Sawyer enough to keep her in stockings and much more.
Alone in her room, Diana pulled the lamp out of its hiding place, took a deep breath, and gave it a rub on both sides. Nothing happened, and then his voice said, "I am behind you, Mistress."
She turned the chair. "What shall I call you?" she asked.
He smiled briefly, not warmly, but graciously, "All others in the universe refer to me as the Master," he told her. "But I am your servant. You must call me what you choose to call me."
"But what do you want?" she asked him.
"Mistress, it is what you want. Give me three days, and I will grant you any wish you name me."
"Three days?" she asked.
"Three days," he assured her. "What is your command?"
She hesitated. "I don't know," she said. She looked around the room, as though seeking an answer from the heavily laden bookshelves or the giant computer screen at the desk.
The answer startled him. "My mistress doesn't know?" he echoed.
"No," she told him. "How should I?" she asked helplessly. "I've never gotten a wish before."
"What about these?" He pointed at her useless legs. "Command me, and I will restore life to your limbs and give you strength within three days." It was almost a command from him.
"Do I only get one wish?" she asked in return. The quick retort startled him. She thought she saw a flash of anger--or at least annoyance--in the deep set brown eyes. But after a moment he bowed slightly and said, "Regrettably, yes, Mistress. I may grant you only one wish."
"Can I ask you questions first?"
"Of course. I am your servant."
She shifted in the chair to get more comfortable. "How old are you, Genie?"
His eyebrows gathered again, as though in some annoyance, but he said, "I am old, Mistress. By your planet's calculations, I have lived hundreds of years."
"And have you been places?" she asked.
"Many more places than mere humans could ever visit in all their lifetimes all put together," he told her.
"And you know things?" she asked.
"Things without number," he assured her.
"Like secrets," she added.
"Secrets, Mistress?" he asked.
"The way things work," she said. "The way the sun works, the way engines work, the way the universe operates."
He nodded ever so slightly with a slight bow, and she could see that some streak of vanity in him was pleased by the admiring question. "Of course, Mistress. These things are as plain to me as the books on these shelves are to you."
"Then I know my wish," she said clearly. Her sudden decisiveness startled him, and he looked at her sharply with his piercing eyes. "I want you to teach me," she said. "In three days, teach me."
"Teach you what?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said. "You pick. You're the genie, and you've been everywhere and done everything. If I give you three days, please teach me whatever you think you should teach me--whatever you can teach me."
He straightened up, and for the first time he looked clearly displeased, as though the question itself were some sort of affront. It frightened her, and she said softly, "Oh please. You must know so much, and I'm so lonely. Won't you show me some of the universe?"
He regarded her for a moment. "You have more spirit than most humans," he said at last. "You want knowledge more than you want the use of your legs?"
"Yes," she told him. "I want it more than anything."
"Very well," he told her. "You have asked a hard thing, but I will grant your wish."
* * * *
I don't know why you're so keen on this power thing," Jo said to the Doctor as he pored over the flickering surface of a huge oscilloscope screen. It was embedded into the counter top of the electronics lab at the UNIT science HQ.
"I mean, solar flares can interfere with power transmissions, can't they?" she asked.
"Yes, but not so endemically," he told her. "And not so pervasively in just the one region." He straightened up and tapped the counter thoughtfully. "Brief escalation of magnetic waves," he muttered. "Gyred up and gyred back down."
"What?" Jo asked.
"Phase neutralization," he told her. "Look, electricity and magnetism exist at right angles to each other on a power line, but both of them are characterized by wave motion. You've seen a drawing of an Alternating Current electrical wave, Jo, haven't you?"
"Of course," she said, and used her forefinger in the air to draw an uphill curve followed by a downhill curve. "Like that, right?"
"Hmm, well, I see your science training has not been in vain," he told her. "Well, if you join one electrical or magnetic frequency with another frequency that has exactly the same curve height but in reverse--" and he humored her by drawing first a downhill curve and then an uphill curve in the air-- "the two frequencies will cancel each other out. It's called phase neutralization. You could also say that the frequencies are identical but are 180 degrees out of phase with each other."
"I understand," she said. "I think. What you're saying is that it's possible to somehow erase the electricity."
"Well, to erase its effects," he added. "The electrons still flow, but there's no potential difference as long as the two inverse phases remain."
"But why would anybody want to do that?" Jo asked.
"Oh, I don't think anybody meant to neutralize the power in the countryside," he told her. "I think it was a side effect of something else."
"But what?" she asked.
"Or who," he added under his breath. She didn't hear him. He turned back to the oscilloscope. "For some reason, some local magnetic field very quickly escalated in frequency until it reached a high point and then it descended again very quickly. Maybe in total it lasted a fiftieth of a second. As it accelerated it came into reverse phase with the power system and neutralized it. As it decelerated it once again phased out power."
"I never noticed it," Jo said.
"No," he told her. "The human eye wouldn't catch it. The diamondizer is so delicate that its operation was disrupted and the strands I was building were ruined. Other sensitive equipment was also affected."
He sighed. "Something extraordinarily powerful." he said. "And local."
"I wonder what it could be," Jo said.
"Nothing made by humans," he told her. "Not in this century."
They were interrupted by the brigadier. "Well Doctor?" he asked. It sounded a little too much like a demand, and the Doctor bristled slightly.
"Well, Brigadier?" he asked in return.
"Have you found anything?"
"Some power source, not man-made, originated somewhere nearby," the Doctor told him shortly. "But it's not operating now."
"Not man-made?" the Brigadier asked. "What on earth does that mean?" He plucked the phone out of its cradle and barked into the speaker, "Get Yates in here." He glanced sharply at the Doctor. "If it's not man-made then what is it?"
The Doctor's retort was quick. "Get me my crystal ball and I'll let you know."
"Isn't there any way to track it?" the Brigadier asked him.
"Not unless it's activated again."
"Well what do you suggest we do?"
Captain Mike Yates strode in, nodded to Jo and the Doctor, and greeted the Brigadier with a salute. "Yes sir?"
"Get set up for triangulation," the Doctor advised. "It ought to be possible to locate the source of the magnetic field emission if we can identify it from several points."
Lethbridge-Stewart gave a curt nod to Captain Yates. "Get on it, then. The Doctor can give you the best coordinates. I want an armed detail with each detection squad."
"Oh, by all means bring the guns," the Doctor said.
"I won't grace that with an answer," the Brigadier mumbled. "Just tell me," he said to the Doctor. "Tell me who it could be."
Teh Doctor became cheerful. "Worst case scenario?"
"Of course. Let's have it."
"Any of a dozen races in the galaxy in this time belt could easily set up a station undetected and generate a huge burst of power--for whatever purpose."
"Hostile races?" The Brigadier asked.
"Actually, most of them are quite friendly. Just the sort you'd like to have over after church, if you don't mind all the extra arms on some of them--and some of the slimy feet."
The Brigadier grimaced. Jo smiled.
"One or two are hostile, of course," the Doctor conceded. "But why would they do this? Earth is all very nice for you, but it really doesn't have much to offer to a species that can already produce vast power with little effort."
"Well let's get down to brass tacks," the Brigadier said. "What about the Master? Could he?"
The Doctor became judicious. "Yes, with the right equipment. But since he's escaped from imprisonment, he's been without much of his equipment."
"Could it be done with lasers?" Jo asked suddenly.
"Could what be done with lasers?" the Brigadier asked.
"You know, the power interruptions," she said.
"Lasers?" he asked.
"I just read that Dr. Wilmer has come back from America," she said. "He's been working with their government on developing that--um laser satellite system they've been talking about."
"Laser defense system?" Lethbridge Stewart asked. "It sounds like a silly movie."
"The Strategic Defense Initiative," the Doctor told him. "Anyway---" and he calculated quickly. "That's what it will be called fifteen years from now. I think it's in the planning stages right now. Let's see--this is 1974--yes, it's a little further off--"
"Please Doctor, be serious," the Brigadier snapped. "Could lasers have any role to play in this?"
"Not as a source of power, and yet, what was that I read about the crystals . . " He suddenly straightened up. "Come on, Jo. Let's go for a drive," he said.
"A drive?" the Brigadier echoed.
"Right now?" Jo asked.
"Yes, right now. I think I would like to interview Dr. Wilmer after all, and from what I've read, he'll be less likely to turn me away if I show up with you on his doorstep." He winked at her. "Hope you don't mind."
"Weakness for the ladies, eh?" Jo asked
Lethbridge Stewart rolled his eyes only slightly. "Hmm, heard he's too much a playboy and too little a father." The disapproval was apparent. Both Jo and the Doctor glanced at each other. It was extremely rare for the Brigadier to speak disapprovingly of his own class.
"Ignores his wife and children?" Jo asked.
"Wife died years ago, but there is a daughter--shuttled off whenever he shows up," the Brigadier said. "But she's supposed to be brilliant in her own right."
"Hmm, well if he's out, we may get a word with her," the Doctor said. "Come on, Jo."
* * * *
"And so as speed increases exponentially beyond the relativity threshold, time becomes increasingly dependent upon the rate of acceleration." The saturnine genie who called himself Master gestured at the model he had rigged up for her from coat hangers, bits of wire, and Styrofoam peanuts. "The rate of interaction becomes more and trackable, even controllable, and so time travel is possible."
"I do understand the theory," she told him. "But that equation--I haven't gotten to calculus yet with my tutors. I can't calculate--"
"Never say that again!" he exclaimed. His voice froze her complaint, and she realized that he had even raised his hand as thought to bring it down across her face. She didn't move, either to flinch or to fight.
He lowered his hand. After a moment he said, "I have only ever taught disobedient children, Mistress. You must excuse my temper."
"It's no use," she said to him. "You're mind is capable of so much more--more even than my father's. "I'm trying to get it, but it's coming too fast!" She stifled a sob of frustration and weariness.
For a moment he seemed non plussed; then he said, as though putting out a feeler, "Are you too tired to go on."
"I want to go on. I only have three days," she said. "Just let me clear my head a minute, and I'll try again."
"No, no, this won't work," he said.
"But my wish--"
He raised his hand again, but only to signal that she need not worry. "I have a way that will help you, Diana," he said softly. "Look at me--look at me and let me tell you the equation very slowly . . . "
She obediently turned to him. "You're an impossible subject to hypnotize," he told her. "Unless you allow it. That means you are very intelligent. Now look at me, and listen to the equation and how to solve it. Listen very closely . . . :
He slowly repeated the lengthy equation and the step by step process to solving it. But this time, even as her body relaxed and her eyes fell to half closed, somewhere it was making sense to her at last. It was as though a door inside her mind, which had sometimes half opened to her but only briefly, at last now opened completely. She began to see it all in terms of the equations, of mathematical terms.
"It is all a language," she whispered. And then her eyes closed.
* * * *
The Ringed Beeches was a stately, if slightly run down, country house. Silent as always when in full gear, Bessie glided up the semi circular drive.
"Doesn't look like there's anybody about," the Doctor said.
"We should have called," Jo said.
"Didn't know the number!" he exclaimed jovially, pulling to an abrupt halt and setting the brake.
"We do have Information Services, Doctor," she said, following him out of the car and surveying the sprawling brick house.
"Well, come on then," he told her. "Through the front door and beyond."
"Perhaps we should knock first."
* * * *
Rising as soon as she fell asleep, the Master brushed down his dark jacket. He had dropped the use of the cape, as it had not impressed her at all. Somewhere in the back of his mind there was a doubt that he had mislaid his plans, that she was too old or too sophisticated a human to believe in genies. All the pieces had been in place. She was not yet adult, lived in seclusion, read all the right stories, and her father had the Egyptian and Arabic antiquities. Yet there was the fact that she seemed unimpressed with things like myth and magic.
In all his lengthy tutoring of her that afternoon, she had not touched him at all, but he felt as though she had. As strong and firm as her will was, she was human just the same. And every human, no matter how intellectually promising for its species, would still sweat--that continual evaporation process that they seemed so unaware of. They had bodily fluids everywhere, it seemed. Untidy, odorous, creatures. He shook his arms as though shaking off something disagreeable. Why hadn't she just asked for her legs back?
Well, it was time. He opened the door of the upstairs study, and just as he did, he heard the front door open, and familiar voices floated up the steps. The disrupter was in his pocket. He drew it and went out into the upstairs hallway.
"Hallo?" the Doctor called at the foot of the wide stairs.
"Look at that hall!" Jo exclaimed in a whisper.
"I don't think there's anybody here," the Doctor said. "Front door open and nobody home."
It was unbelievable. For years he had tried to trap the Doctor. Combated him with strategy and invention and even assistance from other races. And the Doctor had robbed him of time travel, imprisoned him on earth among the humans.
Yet suddenly, without any effort at all, he found himself with the Doctor in his sights and completely unaware of any danger. The Master leveled the disruptor and steadied it with his hand against the hallway banister. The Doctor was moving, but predictably. In a moment, he would step into the line of fire--and perish.