"Let's get out to the command site," the Doctor said, sweeping up his cape from the workbench. "They'll have the triangulation calculated by the time we get there." He snatched up the radio set, and they hurried out.
The command site had been hurriedly set up to accomodate the detection devices. Under a pavilion, Captain Yates and one of his specialists were at an unfolded table, plotting the coordinates on a waterproof topographical map with a wax pencil.
The young Captain looked up as they entered. "Doctor, Miss Grant," he said. "I think we've got something for you."
They joined him at the table just as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart pulled up. He leaped out of the jeep almost before the driver had pulled to a stop. "Well?" he demanded.
Mike Yates deferentially made room for him at the table. "Is this the best you could do?" the Brigadier asked at sight of the map.
"The signal was too brief, sir. Not all the sites could get a proper fix on it," Yates told him.
"Radius of about a half mile," the Doctor observed, running his finger along the circle that the specialist had drawn over the points on the map.
"Look, that's where the Ringed Beeches estate is," Jo said, pointing. "It falls within the circle."
The Brigadier glanced at her. "Dr. Wilmer's residence," the Doctor told him.
"What's he got to do with it?" Lethbridge-Stewert asked.
"Nothing that we know of yet," the Doctor told him. "But he may have something that somebody would want--knowledge of the Americans' new laser defense system that they're developing."
"Don't need an electro-magnetic field to kidnap a man," the Brigadier said. "Or to bribe him, for that matter."
"I wonder," the Doctor began, and then stopped himself.
"What, man?" the Brigadier demanded.
The Doctor looked annoyed, but he said, "I wonder if we're mistaken about this field. What if it's just a by-product of something? Or what if it's not intended at all to disrupt power? Suppose it were meant to do something else, and the disruption is just unavoidable?"
"The more we investigate this thing, the less we understand it," the Brigadier observed.
"Good," the Doctor told him. "That means we are truly on the way to enlightenment. Anyway, Buddha thought so."
Jo refrained from rolling her eyes. "What now?" she asked.
"Send a search team out to Wilmer's place," the Brigadier said.
"Brigadier," the Doctor exclaimed, exasperated. "Throwing men and arms at a problem won't solve it. If Wilmer is doing something that he doesn't want us to know about, he's surely clever enough to resist a frontal assault on his privacy and to hide whatever he's got."
"Well what do you suggest?"
"A simple phone call may open the door for us."
"I'll give you until morning," the Brigadier told him. "Other wise, we start a sector by sector search of the area at dawn, with the Ringed Beeches as the starting point."
"Oh very well, then!" the Doctor snapped.
* * * *
The tendril of light became a lasso of light that circled her head.
"Stop it!" she exclaimed. "Stop it, please! I don't know what it is!"
To her surprise, the voice of the Master spoke from right alongside her. She had not heard him step into the ring. "It's all right, Diana," he said. "It's just examining you. It won't hurt you."
She found his arm and grasped it. "It doesn't feel right! It's not right!"
"They won't hurt you," he said sternly, with a tone that stopped her protests. But she hid her face in his arm, and through the clutch of her fingers, he could feel how frightened she was. He wanted to shake her off but did not. Instead he spoke into the mouthpiece which he had clipped to his collar.
"Please recede," he said quietly. "You're overwhelming the girl."
The light receded. After a moment, the sense of the presence became less intense, and Diana anxiously looked out from the Master's arm.
"I told you it's all right," he said softly, and he was pleased to see that she responded quickly to his voice. Her will was strong enough to resist hypnotism, but he saw he could condition her to open her mind and will to his voice. She looked up at him.
"They only want to see you," he told her.
"Are they your leaders?" she whispered.
"No!" he snapped, sharply displeased. "I am the Master! I have chosen to work with these beings for my purposes."
He had thought to show her his displeasure, but she was too relieved by the news that he was in control to be afraid of his anger.
He spoke into the mouthpiece on his collar. "She is my liasion into the household."
As he spoke, there was only a slight visible change in the room, hardly perceptable.
"Can they hear you?" she whispered.
"The mechanism transfers my voice to a medium they can understand," he told her. "It's broadcast to them at the upper end of the spectrum of light. They read the light signals the same way that you would hear vibrations in the air as sound." He pulled out the ear piece for a moment to show it to her. "When they communicate, the mechanism translates their light signals for me into sound through this ear piece."
"But who--" she began.
"Quiet, Diana. I must listen," he told her. She instantly subsided, but she kept her near hand wrapped like an iron band around his wrist, holding his arm against her head. It was a distraction. Her humanity was not the less repulsive to him, yet there was something compelling in her insistence that she was safest with him.
* * * *
The conversation between the Master and the bright array of lights lasted only a few minutes, but it was carried out in a murmur on his part. Diana, though frightened of the presence that seemed to be alive and yet at the same time not really a being as she had always understood creatures to be, could not keep her eyes open. She sensed how strong and vital a person he was, and there was a sense of safety in being under his protection. And so in spite of this strange life form so close to her, she began to nod off.
His voice brought her back, commanding, impatient with her for dozing. "Diana, you and I haven't finished yet."
She instantly opened her eyes. The array of lights was gone, the wine cellar dark again. "Yes," she said quickly, but it was hard to focus on him.
The Master looked at her in resignation and chagrin. The hour was past midnight. She was utterly spent. Forcing her to stay awake was not an option at this point.
He changed his tone. "Poor girl," he said gently. "I have worn you out," he said.
"They--it left?" she asked.
"You could call the array either they or it," he told her. "It's a colony of creatures that functions as a single life form. But we shall talk more of them later."
From the floor above, they heard a door slam.
"That will be Father," she said, and she yawned in spite of herself. "Today was the housekeeper's afternoon off. She won't be back until tomorrow. She's visiting her mother. If you want to talk to my father alone, this would be a good time."
"No, Diana," he told her. "No, I am more than content to be allied with you."
She brightened at his words.
The wheelchair ramp that led into the cellar was long and included a landing for her to rest on the way back up. He nodded at it. "Can you manage that alone? I don't want him to hear my footsteps."
"Oh yes," she said. "But what about you? Where will you spend the night?"
"You needn't worry about me, my dear," he assured her. "I'm a genie, remember?" And he smiled reassuringly at her as though they shared a private joke.
"So you are," she agreed, returning the smile. "Genies don't even need blankets?"
"I'll be fine," he told her. "I can trust you not to say anything about me to your father?"
She looked back at him, at his dark, dark eyes, with perfect honesty and openness, as though she knew that he could look into her mind to a certain degree, and she was glad to meet the inspection. "You can trust me with anything," she told him. "Anything, Master."
He easily saw that she was being honest with him. He smiled again. "That's my girl," he said approvingly. "I'll find you tomorrow."
"I'll get rid of Miss Sawyer, my tutor," she promised him.
She wheeled herself up the ramp and through the door to the kitchen.
* * * *
"Diana," her father greeted her with as she wheeled herself toward the stairs. "What are you doing up at this hour?"
"Sorry Father, didn't have time to be obediently in bed before you got back," she told him, rolling past and moving towards the centre stairs.
"That's enough cheek, Miss," he told her. He had a drink in his hand and the day's mail in the other hand. "What's this report I'm getting from UNIT? The answering service gave me word that two of their people came in today and couldn't find anyone about. Where were you, then?"
"I've taken up jogging," she said coolly. She lifted herself from the wheelchair to the lift chair and reached for the wheelchair to fold it up. From habit he set down drink and papers and helped her. "Actually I spent most of the afternoon and evening upstairs in the study. I was working on some calculations," she told him.
He put the folded wheelchair in its slot behind the lift chair and stepped back.
"Well I've called them back and made arrangements for an early morning meeting with them tomorrow," he told her. "We won't want to be disturbed. You may have your breakfast upstairs if you like." It was not really an offer but a command.
She was about to send the lift up to the second floor, but she stopped and asked, "Why not just meet with them at the Intelligence offices?"
"Too much bother getting them cleared," he said. "They'll be fine coming here. They know the way."
"Where are the Intelligence offices?" she asked. "Or is that a big state secret too?" She put just the right amount of sarcasm into her voice to annoy him.
"No it's not a big state secret," he told her. "We're using a research lab up at the university, if you must know."
She let out a laugh of disdain at the thought of the small labs at the university. "Must be quite a let down after the American research facilities."
"We don't do too badly," he said. He did not enjoy talking to her, and she knew it, but there were elements of guilt to play upon in him, and she knew how to push the right buttons.
"Building American defense lasers in a university lab?" she asked. She smirked at the idea.
"Of course not," he said. "Just demonstrating one of the crystals I developed. Doesn't take much. Britain will never need to develop its own full scale laser defense system. But we ought to know how one works. The whole thing rests on using synthetic crystals in the tuning. Naturally occurring crystals are inefficient in space for laser tuning."
So that was it. "Good night," she said suddenly. "I'm very tired."
Without another word to him, or even a glance, she activated the lift and rode upstairs.
* * * *
A glorious morning extended long cool fingers of light across the sky. Bessie was once again covering the narrow road with barely a hum of her engine. In spite of the loveliness of the early summer weather, it was still too cool at that hour to be quite comfortable. Though the Doctor was oblivious to the wind chill created by the draft of riding in an open car, Jo Grant huddled down into herself and folded her arms tighter.
"I hope Dr. Wilmer's got coffee ready," she said.
"I understand he always sets a good table for his guests," the Doctor said cheerfully. "Can't wait."
"What do we do once we get there?" she asked. "I mean, how do approach him?"
"We improvise," he said confidently. "I'll know once we talk with him a little bit just how open he's being with us. If the feeling is right, I'll just ask him directly if he's doing anything to create that electro-magnetic field or if he knows what's been creating it. Here we are!"
He cheerfully stomped the brake, and the car halted without any skid or forward motion.
Dr. Wilmer received them in the dining room. Coffee and an excellent English breakfast were laid out on the sideboard.
Wilmer was too polite to really talk business while eating, and through the meal he conversed with them about several topics. Most of his attention was focused on Jo. He was charming and likable. But after they had finished eating and had their second cups of coffee in hand, they adjourned to the next room, and he invited them to state their business. From that point on, he spoke mostly with the Doctor.
"We've been getting some radio distortions and the like in the area, Dr. Wilmer," the Doctor told him. "Wondered if we could enlist your aid."
"Well man, you're the science advisor at UNIT," Wilmer said with a laugh. "Can't you sort it out? Doesn't seem like such a problem, does it?"
"Actually it is, Dr. Wilmer," the Doctor told him. "We're picking up evidence of a powerful electro-magnetic field. It's also interfering with power transmissions."
"Hmm." Wilmer did not seem interested. After a moment he said, "Perhaps solar flares."
"What we really wondered, sir, was if you had anything running on site here that might be doing it," the Doctor suggested. In the background, the whine of a small motor started up. The Doctor knew it would be the lift on the stairs. He shot a glance at Jo and threw a look at the stairs to tell her to meet the daughter. It would be good to cover all bases.
"No, not anything here at the house," Wilmer was saying as Jo crossed the room to greet the young girl who came down on the lift.
"Diana," Dr. Wilmer said, and he barely hid the annoyance in his voice at sight of her. "I thought you were taking breakfast upstairs today."
"Finished that ages ago," Diana said. "I thought I would come down."
"She does this on purpose," Wilmer muttered to the Doctor, but the Doctor took advantage of the moment to go and greet her. He crossed the room and extended his hand. "How do you do, my dear?" Her eyes suddenly fixed on him, startled, and she shook hands with him. For a moment a look of recognition crossed her face. He was surprised.
He introduced Jo to her, and though the young girl said hello to Jo, her attention seemed riveted on him. Her father interrupted any conversation they might have had. He joined them, and his voice was sharp when he spoke to her. "Diana, have you prepared your lessons for Miss Sawyer?"
"Yes Father. Seems like yesterday she was trying sort out the War of the Roses, but I think I helped her understand it better before she left."
The Doctor smiled at her joke. Dr. Wilmer looked uncomfortable. Jo, sensing the next thing to do, took Dr. Wilmer's elbow and said, "Oh Dr. Wilmer, I did mean to ask you about those flowers you've got out back there? What are they?" She nodded to the window that faced out onto the garden. "I've heard you're a great gardener," she said enthusiastically.
"Yes, but I don't have time right now, Miss Grant," he sputtered, but the Doctor, talking with Diana, moved so that he put his back directly to Dr. Wilmer. Wilmer capitulated and let Jo lead him to the window.
As they walked away, giving the Doctor and Diana some privacy, her voice became quiet and much more gentle. "Pardon me, Doctor, but, did you say you're in the military?"
"I advise them to a certain extent, my dear," he told her.
"You remind me -- of a genie," she said hesitantly. There was a deliberate hint in her words, and her eyes were expectant, but he was non-plussed.
"A genie?" he asked, puzzled.
At the window, Wilmer turned. "Diana, what nonsense are you talking?" he demanded.
She rolled the chair back, her eyes fixed on the Doctor's face. "Perhaps you'll just pop up sometime," she said. Like genies do."
He had no idea what to answer, so he said, "That would be delightful. But I'm a little rusty on granting wishes."
"I'm sure you would do very well," she said. "Good morning to you."
She turned the wheelchair, wheeled herself atound the wide base of the stairway, and and went down the corridor that led to the east side of the house.
"You must excuse her," Wilmer said, flustered. "Sometimes I don't know what to do with her."
"Quite all right," the Doctor said. "She seems like a very bright girl. How old is she?"
"Oh, fifteen or sixteen or so," he said dismissively. The Doctor shot a sharp glance at him.
"As you were saying," Wilmer said.
"Yes," the Doctor told him. The Doctor suddenly made up his mind. "Well, UNIT will be searching the area today for some clue of the origin of the disturbances. Hope you don't mind. Your estate showed up as being close to the center of the area of energy field. They will want to search the grounds."
"Surely not the house?" Wilmer demanded, bristling.
"I don't know," the Doctor told him, somewhat coldly. "You may want to take it up with the Brigadier. I suppose that's the place to lodge protests. Thank you for breakfast, Dr. Wilmer. Are you ready, Jo?"
* * * *
It was over an hour later when Diana returned to the second story of the great house. Her new mentor was waiting for her as she wheeled herself into the study. "Is it the tuning crystal?" she asked. "Is that what you want? My father told me about it last night."
He glanced at her quickly. Instead of answering, he said, "What has happened to your tutor?"
"I called her and told her I was sick today," she assured him. "She gets my sick days off with pay, so she doesn't kick up a fuss when I take a day."
He smiled at her. "And your father?"
"Already gone to his lab," she reported. "That Doctor fellow and his girl friend are gone, too. They came to ask him about something else--not the laser crystal."
He nodded briefly. "Yes, the array told me that somebody has been tracking me."
"Tracking you?" she asked.
He sighed and admitted, "Yes. My amazing magic tricks require a great deal of energy. Transmaterialization is energy expensive, even though it isn't sustained for more than a fraction of a second." He looked at her and suddenly smiled. "At least you enjoyed them." Then he shook his head. "But I think I must resist the temptation to simply appear and disappear."
She smiled back. "I can try to get that laser crystal for you," she offered.
"No, my dear," he told her. "I can manage that. I have another job for you. But first some questions. Your father has a safe in the house?"
She nodded. "In the wall in the scullery. It looks like a fuse box."
"Ah, very clever."
"I'm afraid I don't know the combination."
"That's all right. I can manage that." He produced a local map. "I'd like you to show me where the university is. I thought we might drive over there tonight if you like."
Her eyes lighted up at the suggestion. "You mean, sneak into the lab?"
"Precisely. Perhaps we can arrange a rendezvous there."
"With the Doctor?" she asked.
"I would like to."
"Was it he yesterday at the foot of the stairs?" she asked. "Is he your enemy? He seems so much like you."
"We have been adversaries," he admitted carefully. "And yet we also have worked together. It may be time to negotiate if we can, but I wish to do so on an equal footing."
* * * *
"Funny thing about that girl," the Doctor said to Jo as he carefully weeded out the burned wiring from the ruined board in the TARDIS panel. He had removed it from the console, and it was now resting on a board frame on the work bench. He let the jeweler's glass drop from his eye to his hand as he took a break from the detailed work.
Jo had become proficient at etching boards under the Doctor's tutelage, but today her job was no more complex than stripping common copper wire for him. She sat across from him, armed with the steel toothed stripper, a small coil of bared wire at her elbow. She shot a glance at the damaged board on the workbench and made a mental note to go for a finer grade wire at the first chance.
"Tea, Doctor?" she asked. She stood and crossed to the cabinet on which the tea pot was waiting with their cups.
"Thank you," he agreed.
"It almost seemed like Diana knew you," Jo said, answering his comment as she poured the tea.
"Didn't it though?" His voice was slightly troubled. "Or perhaps recognized what I was."
"But how could she do that?" She brought the tea to him. He took it up and gratefully drank from it. The telephone beeped. Jo was pouring tea for herself, so he picked it up. "Hallo?"
"Doctor, this is Diana Wilmer."
"Diana!" he exclaimed pleasantly, and shot a look at Jo, who set the tea pot down and watched him, surprised. "What a pleasant surprise to hear from you," he said.
"I wondered if we could meet, sir?"
"Certainly, my girl. Would you consider being my guest for dinner? I'll bring Miss Grant along and make it a pleasant threesome."
"No, no, that won't be possible sir. I was thinking of something more discreet."
Jo was looking at him with eyes that could burn holes in him with impatience. He slid the mug toward her to askfor more tea.
"Do you know where the labs are on University Drive, sir?" Diana asked.
"Yes," he said. "Rather an odd place to meet."
"I have to show you something. It will be easier where I have the equipment," she said. "I have to show you something that my father didn't tell you."
"I see. Shall I come right now?" he asked.
"Oh no, not until tonight--midnight," she said. "I can get the doors open. Just follow the open doors until you come up to Room 204."
"Shall I come alone?" he asked.
There was a hesitation on the other end. He wondered for a moment if Diana was alone.
"I guess it's all right to bring your assistant," she said at last.
"All right, Miss Wilmer, I'll see you then," he said. She rang off. Back at her end of the line, in the study at Ringed Beeches, she looked up at the Master. "Was that all right?"
"Splendid, my dear," he said.
At UNIT HQ, the Doctor returned the telephone to its cradle and glanced at Jo.
"What did she want?" Jo asked.
"To meet us," he said. "Tonight at midnight." He raised his eyebrows. "How very dramatic!"
"Early mornings and late nights!" she said with good natured resignation.
* * * *
"Let us resume the discussion of the relationship of time and space," the Master said to Diana. "As you recall, my dear, we discussed the equations for relativity of speed and time, but that's rather a long way round of looking at the matter. I want to talk with you about what we have come to call the Vortex."
"A place?" she asked.
"Well, only a place in that it is the one place that is no place at all," he said. "I think you can understand it better in terms of mathematics. Let me prove to you how such a place--or non-place--can be." He reached for a sheet of paper and began writing notes. "Between any two points in any line or on any plane, there exists a differential, which we call Delta . . " he began. Soon, she was completely immersed in his discussion, working out the bits of the equations that she could handle, plotting some of the trajectories that he demonstrated for her.
It was fascinating, gripping, but exhausting. She forgot about lunch. The day was slipping away. They would have to leave soon. She anxiously saw the sun starting to slip toward the horizon. Already they had set up a few pillows in her bed to fool anybody that would check on her that night. Everything was in place. But she wanted to learn this material before time ran out and he left her.
"Are you sleepy, Diana?" his voice asked.
"No, no, not at all," she insisted, working frantically at the paper and calculator.
"It's all right, dear," he said soothingly. "You may rest if you like."
"I want to learn it before you leave," she said. "Please let me try to learn it."
"Open up that door in your mind," he told her softly. "I helped you before. Can you do it now?"
"No," she said helplessly.
"You must relax. Relax and don't be afraid of not getting it. Relax," he said.
She nodded and took a breath. "I'll try."
"Relax. Look at me and let me help you again," he said. She looked at him in desperation. "Oh," he said softly. "Just relax. You're over tired. It's all right. Just relax." The door in her mind did open again for her. She began to understand, but something else was happening. Her eyes were too heavy. She thought to quickly jot down the correct form of the equation as her mind told her what it should be, but she could not lift the pencil. "That's my girl, just relax," he said. "I want you to rest now. Rest, and your mind will tell you the answers."
And it did. The numbers and figures--all the dancing deltas--lined up as in a pageant, and she understood. The Vortex, that which could not exist in matter, could exist mathematically. There was a place after all, where matter did not matter.
A long time later, she opened her eyes to see flourescent lights above her.
She swallowed and tried to sit up and found that she couldn't.
"You're awake," the Master said, and his voice sounded surprised.
They were in a science work room. She realized that he had brought her to the lab at the university. It must be close to midnight. She tried to look at her watch and realized that she could not lift her arm.
"You've tied me to my chair!" she exclaimed. She looked at him. "What are you doing?"
He was locking a padlock from a short chain that ran from one of the tables to the left wheel of her wheelchair.
"Don't scream," he said.
"I never scream," she protested. But she stared at him in bewilderment and hurt feelings.
"I meant for you to stay asleep," he said, standing up and pocketing the key. "I didn't want to frighten you."
"You're making a trap," she said, realizing the truth. "He is your enemy. You're baiting a trap for him, aren't you?"
"Yes," he said. "I've rigged up an electrical eye across the doorway. When he steps in he will interrupt the signal; when it reconnects, it will activate a switch to a detonator."
"A detonator?" she asked. "A bomb?"
"Yes, Diana," he said. "I'm sorry. It's a priority to eliminate him. He is a deadly enemy to all my plans."
"It will kill me, too?" she asked.
"It will destroy this room and that section of the hallway." He reached into his pocket and withdrew a capped syringe. "You will be asleep when he sees you, and he will enter to wake you up, not realizing his danger." There was a blanket on the table. He set the syringe down, shook the blanket out, and then flung it around her, hiding the ropes.
"But I'm your friend," she protested, meeting his eye as as he pulled the blanket around her shoulders and adjusted it. "You said I could help you."
"You are helping me," he told her. He straightened up and uncapped the syringe. For a moment he held it up to the light to check the dosage. He glanced at her. She had her eyes fixed on the syringe, almost not able to comprehend what was going on. "I had intended just to dope you," he said. "So that you would not be aware of what was happening. But there's more than enough here. Would you prefer a lethal dose of this?" he asked her. "The Doctor will never get close enough to you to know anyway. And this will ensure that you will feel no pain." She closed her eyes a moment, clamping them closed as she negotiated such a choice. Then she nodded. "Yes. Yes, better from you."
He glanced at the clock. There was less than a minute left. Down on the first floor, he heard voices. "Tilt your head, my dear," he said, guiding her with a finger on her jaw.
She obeyed him without resistance. He pushed his thumb down on the artery in her neck under the angle in her jaw. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. "Thank you though, for teaching me like that." He inserted the point of the needle into the artery and guided it carefully. "This isn't what I wanted, " he said lightly. "You truly are a brilliant young girl," he assured her. "But small claims must give way before great ones."
He tried to make it sound easy and reasonable, as though he were simply extracting a tooth. He injected the full amount. She took in her breath as he removed the syringe. For a moment, his urbanity gave way to something else. "It's really not what I would have wanted otherwise," he said. "But I am the Master, and he has thwarted me too long."
Her eyes were already getting heavy, but she spoke. "Nobody who is Master," she said slowly. "Nobody who is master truly . . sacrifices their friends . . . to kill their enemies." She took in a long breath and her eyes closed, but she said, "Hand of Master . . never forced."
There was a side door that led to an adjoining lab. He quickly gathered up his few tools and hurried out through that exit.
Out in the hallway, the Doctor and Jo were counting the door numbers.
"There's an open one," she said, pointing up the hall. She ran up and looked inside. "Oh, she's asleep. I wonder how long she's been here."