The Book of Five Rings

Episode 10

The Master's right hand shot forward, gloved fingers extended. They rammed into the man's throat like bullets as the luckless guard's mouth opened in a silent yell. Like some demon of war, the Master pushed into the first lunge with all his weight. He maintained the thrust into the man's larynx, bearing him down to the floor, as the guard, paralyzed and unable to breathe, slowly collapsed. Falling to his knees, the guard gave one convulsive jerk of his body and then fell to the ground, dead.

Through the open doors, a free standing console that looked like some sort of security checkpoint guarded the entry into the corridor. The Doctor jumped clear of the Master and the guard. He ran forward through the open doors into the gleaming corridor, scanning the reflective walls with quick glances, his laser gun ready. The security station had been manned only by the single guard. Beyond it, the hallway made a long, straight line towards what looked like a large plant floor. Bits of some enormous machine were visible through the opening at the other end. The Doctor, satisfied that an alarm at their intrusion had not yet been sounded, slipped behind the high, sturdy operator's console of the security station and examined the controls. The small station had an operator's panel facing the doors and one facing the long hallway.

"Quickly, while the door is open," the Master hissed to Mags, and she helped him slide the dead guard's body back through the doorway. Jo followed. Nobody said a word of either praise or blame for the killing of the guard. With their own lives at stake against horrible deaths, it was taken for granted that they would kill to save themselves. Yet there was something in the promptness of the Master's actions that spoke volumes. Then they realized that the guard's weapon was in the Master's hand. The door behind them closed, sealing them inside the innermost circle of the huge complex.

From the plant floor ahead, two more security guards appeared, saw them, and raced down the corridor towards them, drawing their weapons. There was no time to duck for cover, and the Doctor fired twice. One of them fired at him before being hit, but the shot either had no effect on his metabolism, or it went wide and missed.

"Quickly," the Master said, pointing with his free hand up the walkway. "Before more of them come!"

Mags suddenly gasped, folded both arms across her chest, and fell to the floor. Her visor fell with a clatter. The Doctor turned to her, startled, and saw the Jo was on her knees. She threw one agonized look at him and then went down on her hands. Before he could get to her, she fell prone on the floor. "It's--it's collapsing inside," she gasped. The Doctor looked from her to Mags to the sealed doors. His eyes darted to the Master.

"What's happening to them?" he demanded.

The Master dropped by Mags. "Her heart has stopped--no, it's in arrhythmia. It's--" He leaped up and looked wildly around. "It's a cyclic dispersion. It's negating their internal energy rhythms." He raised the weapon and looked around wildly, seeking the source of the frequency emission. "The source is sealed behind the walls!" he exclaimed. Then he called, "The security guards--get their vests!"

He ran up the hall to the two men who had fallen in the brief volley of fire with the Doctor. The Doctor understood him at once, turned, and stripped off the vest of the security guard who had died in the doorway. He jerked and pulled it off and got it around Jo. Quickly, he carried Mags up to the Master, and they wrapped a vest around her.

"If you want Miss Grant alive, see to it that her heart has resumed," the Master said as the Doctor deftly removed the guns from the guards. "I'll take care of this one."

Uncertainly, the Doctor glanced at him.

"Miss Grant may need cardiac assistance!" the Master exclaimed. "This one does!" The Doctor hurried back to Jo, but he was wary enough to keep one eye on the Master. It had not escaped his notice that his enemy was now armed.

"Here they come!" the Master shouted as the Doctor checked Jo and found a pulse in her neck and the sound of breathing. The Doctor drew the gun. The Master and Mags were up the walkway by the dead guards, without cover.

Coolly, the Master fired as more security guards entered the hall, their handguns ready. The Doctor fired over the console, taking advantage of its cover. They drove back the assault for a moment, and they took advantage of the pause to quickly pull Mags back behind the cover of the console.

"Well, they know we're here," the Doctor said.

The Master glanced back at the way they had come. "We've got to keep those doors behind us sealed."

"What human would want to come in here without a vest on?" the Doctor asked him. "Those chaps out in the body organ plant don't have them. They'd be dead two minutes after they entered."

"It's a good way to keep out intruders," the Master admitted. "And to avoid internal espionage. But I'm sure that they have vests stored somewhere out there for emergencies." He glanced over at the Doctor. "And besides, they don't need to come inside the doorway to shoot us through the doorway."

"Cheerful fellow," the Doctor said. He was scanning the walkway ahead, but he let his glance drop to the console. "The designers of this were probably more concerned with keeping people out in an emergency than in getting them inside," he said. "It shouldn't be too difficult to pull that cover off and over ride any remote access signals that would open the door."

"Please feel free to test your theory Doctor. We haven't much time," the Master said. He looked down and saw that Jo was lifting her head. "You'd better stay down, Miss Grant," he told her. She looked puzzled and glanced uncertainly at the gun that the Doctor had placed by her.

The Doctor grimaced. Another small platoon of men appeared briefly up the hallway, and the two timelords opened fire, driving them back.

The sound of the door behind them opening and the sizzling sound of one of the guns jerked their heads around. They were in time to see one of the plant workers in the doorway collapse from a gun blast. The Doctor's hands scrambled over the security console, finding the control sequence that would close the doors. But the image of Jo, face white as death, eyes hard with both fear and determination, was one that would remain in his mind. Her compact body was folded neatly into a perfect policeman's firing posture, designed for long range shooting with a handgun. She lowered the gun as the doors closed.

The Doctor had to step out from cover to the open side of the console to remove the panel that protected the circuitry. He gingerly did so, keeping one eye on his old adversary. But the Master seemed intent on keeping the Doctor covered from enemy fire up the walkway. The Doctor ripped the cover off the console. "What about Mags?" he asked.

"She must be more sensitive to the frequencies they use," the Master guessed, looking down at her. "She's breathing."

"There, that's done for the door," the Doctor said after a moment. "Pathetically easy. I've disconnected the logic circuits that allow remote access. The doors should stay permanently sealed. They'll have to cut through them to get to us from that end."

"Cor," Mags exclaimed in a whisper, coming around.

The Doctor pointed up the walkway toward the plant floor. "Jo, take a position to fire this way." He edged back behind the console to check Mags, but stopped when he saw that the Master was already lifting her head from the floor.

"What hit us?" she asked. "Where's me visor?" The Master helped her sit up behind the cover of the console.

"A low frequency, high voltage signal hit you," the he said. "The human body runs at between 40 and 60 Herz, and it is possible to arrest the human heart by subjecting it to wavelengths that are similar to what it needs to operate. The signals phase out the electrical signals that the body generates and uses."

"They're doin that to us?" she asked. "Even now?"

"This room and that walkway are constantly bombarded with them," he told her. "Anyway, that is my guess. It discourages intruders."

"I was sure discouraged," she agreed. "Don't it affect you two?"

"Not much," he told her.

She eyed him up and down with her wide green eyes. "You 'ave got a heart in there somewhere, don't you?"

"I have two hearts, my dear," he said, looking into her eyes, and he suddenly smiled. For a moment his voice took that tone that seemed to go through her like silvery arrows.

"Looks like they're getting ready for a sortie," the Doctor called to them. "Mags, there's a gun by your side. Take it and use it if you can."

They waited under cover and watched in silence as more of the security detail assembled at the other end of the hallway.

"It's not going to be a rush," the Master said, standing cautiously and peering over the console. "They're grouping to arrange a defense so that we can go no further."

Up the walkway, they saw hands gesturing as somebody in command pointed positions for different groups of the remaining security force to retreat to and defend. In twos and threes, they retreated away from the mouth of the walkway, while two of their number watched the four intruders from either side of the entry to the walkway.

"How many do you suppose are left?" the Doctor asked.

"Just under a dozen?" the Master guessed. He used his free arm to help Mags to her feet. She straightened the heavy, padded vest that they had given her and then looked at the gun she'd been given.

"What sort of weapon is this?" she asked. "Sonic?"

"No," the Doctor said, not looking at her as he watched the walkway. "They use sonics back in the processing plant area to ensure that the organ samples are safe from stray fire. These are much more deadly."

"Some type of energy bolt," the Master said. "I've seen similar type before. It shoots clustered packets of photons that disperse on impact."

"If one of these bolts hits you," the Doctor warned, "It will penetrate pretty far, owing to the low mass of photon energy, and then it will radiate out in destructive paths until the energy is spent."

"Cor," Mags whispered.

"You'd do well to get hit on bone," he said. "The greater the density of its target, the less damage it will do, but it will still be rather ugly."

"And thin bones don't count," the Master added dryly.

"The vests won't protect us?" she asked.

"No, my dear. They are simply shielding devices to deflect the low frequency assaults," the Doctor told her. "An energy bolt would rip right through them. The resulting decrease in energy wouldn't even be noticeable."

Jo had remained crouched in a firing position on the right side of the console, nearly out of sight. She had not participated in the conversation. Suddenly she fired, and one of the two guards at the top of the walkway, who had been edging out to get a shot at the standing intruders, fell. His partner on the other side ducked back behind the corner.

"Well done, Jo!" the Doctor exclaimed. He glanced at his own weapon, the laser gun that the Master had given to Jo. "How reflective do you think those walls are?" he asked with a nod at the gleaming walls of the walkway.

"Fairly high," the Master told him. "They must be designed so that this security station can view the walkway at a glance."

"And I'd say the length of the walkway is a uniform twenty metres," the Doctor said. "And I'm about six metres out from that wall, so the distance from me to that guard is about 20 metres and a half, taken in a straight line. A laser ray could come at him from a 60 degree angle off that wall and hit him."

"Reflecting off a surface like that will diminish the laser's power," the Master told him. "It's not refractive."

"We only need to make him think he's been hit," the Doctor told him. "Ready, Jo? Come over on this side." She nodded and crawled over to the left side of the console, then took up her stance.

"Oy, sounds like they're tryin' to cut through behind us," Mags warned. A muffled hissing behind the sealed doors gave evidence of cutting torches at work.

"One crisis at a time," the Doctor replied. "Stay under cover, Mags, and watch that doors."

"Ready, Doctor," Jo said.

The Doctor cautiously positioned himself at what he judged to be a 60 degree angle to the man up the walkway. He judged with his eye, threw himself across the console, and fired at a 60 degree angle to the reflective wall opposite the guard.

The diminished laser blast was too fast to see for more than an instant. The man shouted and fell back from the corner, and Jo leaped forward into the walkway to get a shot. She fired, missed, ran forward in a sideways crouch with the gun ready, and fired again as the man scrambled for cover.

"He's down," she said, quickly retreating back to the console.

"Very nice work," the Master complimented them.

"I'll say," Mags agreed, impressed.

"Jo's a trained agent of the crown," the Doctor reminded them. "And I have always enjoyed Trigonometry. Let's go before they cut through that door"

"Well if Jo's trained for this and I'm trained," Mags told him. "We can go up and take positions on either side up there. I've done lots of work for the casinos, bustin' into places to get back money or catch swindlers."

"Do it," the Master directed. The Doctor glared at him.

"One dies, we all die," the Master told him. "Let them do what they're best at. There's no shortage of danger, here or there."

Jo and Mags had a brief consultation and then ran forward and took their positions against opposite walls without trouble.

"We've got to go from cover to cover," Jo said, She peered into the open plant floor.

"What is that thing?" Mags asked, as they got a real look at the interior plant for the first time. The interior plant floor was taken up with a superstructure of machinery shaped like half an egg laid lengthwise along the floor. A few operator stations dotted the area that surrounded it, but it was obviously the item of central importance. It was about fifty feet at its highest point and was about 150 long on the outside.

"So this is their inmost ring? What the heck is it?" Mags asked.

They waved the timelords forward. The Doctor and the Master stayed against the wall and came up behind Mags. They also peered out at the floor.

"Oh no," the Doctor exclaimed as he saw the giant egg-shaped machine.

"You recognize it?" Mags asked without looking at him.

"How did they do this?" the Master whispered. "How did they get this technology?

"What is it?" Jo asked.

"It's a time tunnel," the Doctor told her. "They're developing time travel. That explains why the TARDIS could not operate. This thing is interfering with the spatial and temporal stability of the area."

"Can we shut it down?" Mags asked.

"We must destroy it," the Master said. "And we must destroy whoever designed it."

"What in thunder for?" she demanded.

"We must not let them develop time travel," the Doctor said. He stepped away from the wall to get a better look at the superstructure. Down the walkway, the doors suddenly burst open and a small crew of attackers poured in.

"Doctor!" the Master shouted. He threw his shoulder into the Doctor, pushing him across the walkway into the opposite wall, and fired at the doors, shooting down two of the attackers. Retreating from the unexpected assault, Jo and Mags spilled onto the plant floor, firing blind at the doors down the hall and desperately seeking cover.

The two attackers who had been hit fell to the floor, and the others stopped in pain and confusion, then collapsed as the low frequency emissions did their work. There was no time to express surprise at the small team that had come in without vests. The two timelords spun around to add cover fire for Jo and Mags. They raced to one of the operator stations on the plant floor and took cover behind it.

The Master pointed at them. "Over there! They made it. Quick now!"

One of the attackers from behind them, less sensitive to the specific frequencies used, fired off one shot. It struck the Master in the back. He shouted and fell into the Doctor.

"Save 'im!" Mags shouted from their hiding place, but the Doctor was already dragging his adversary to the cover that the girls had found.

"Will 'e live?" she asked as the Doctor got him behind cover.

"Jo, watch our backs!" he said. Without questioning further, Mags turned to watch front.

The Master groaned, his teeth clenched. "Looks like you've got what you want, Doctor," he said.

"Your shoulder blade deflected much of it," the Doctor told him.

"The energy is consuming the tissue inside," he said through his teeth. "The wound it created is widening."

"What if we get 'in into that time tunnel thing?" Mags asked.

The Master drew in a breath with a gasp. "The time tunnel, Doctor. You know what it is. You know where they got it?"

The Doctor looked at him blankly.

"Back in school--the physics project," the Master gasped out through his clenched teeth. "We were just boys. I was the designer of the project. About a dozen of the honors students worked on it. You were one of them, too. Blast it , Doctor, it hasn't been that many regenerations!"

The Doctor gasped in recognition. "It's ours!" he exclaimed.

"They must have devices to read memory," the Master said. His voice was losing its strength. "They took the design from me while I was their prisoner."

"You don't remember telling them?"

"No. And I wasn't imprisoned for more than 36 hours before I escaped. But that is the primitive time machine that we designed."

"So they took it from your memory. Well, it gives us a slight advantage. At least we know the layout and design of it," the Doctor said.

"Now!" Jo exclaimed, and she and Mags fell out into the open and fired at a sortie that was ready to rush.

"We can't stay here," Mags exclaimed, scrambling back. "It's too open."

The Doctor glanced at the operator's station where they had taken temporary refuge. It was a much less grand affair than the security station in the hallway, smaller, with less functionality.

"I can get the door to the time tunnel open from this station," he said. "But I have to over ride the security interlocks on it."

Eyes closed, the Master nodded. "I'll help you if I can. Tell me the wiring scheme."

"Is 'e going to die?" Mags asked the Doctor again.

"Not right away, at least," the Doctor said.

"I'm first to that egg-thing's door," she told him, taking the Master's weapon from his hand and holding it up in her left so that she had a matched set.

"Killing yourself won't save him, Mags," the Doctor said.

"Someone's got to provide cover for you to get him through," she replied. "Jo, you cover me once I start runnin'. I'll cover you three when you cross the floor."

"All right, then," the Doctor said. "The door to the time tunnel is that way, at the narrowest end of the structure."

She turned her back to him and pointed herself at the path she would have to take to get to the door.

"There's lots of cover," Jo whispered. "But it's what's lurking behind some of it that's dangerous. What's left of that security force is hiding across the floor."

"You shoot at anything that pops up between me and the outer wall," Mags said. "I'll fix me sights on what's between me and the great egg."

"All right," Jo said. "I think there are only five or six left."

"It's still better this way than dyin' by dissection," Mags said. She set one gun down and pulled out a cigarette. She put it, unlit, in her mouth, then drew out the switchblade and handed it to Jo. "Take your choice with this if they get the upper hand," she said. "If you don't fancy being captured."

"Stop talking about defeat," the Doctor ordered as he worked, but Jo took the switchblade.

"Mags," the Master gasped.

Mags shot him a glance. Blood was expanding out under him in a slowly widening pool.

"What is it, Sin?" she asked. "I'm in the middle of rescuing you."

"Take this from around my neck," he said.

Head down, she glanced around and leaned over him. She pulled a thin chain from around his neck. A medallion of dull gold hung from it.

"It's a personal force field," he told her. "The charge is low. But it might help you."

"It sure didn't help you," she said quietly, as she hung it around her own neck.

"I didn't have it activated," he retorted, opening his eyes to meet her glance with an expression--however pained it was--of both contempt and superiority. "The last I used it was when we crossed the floor together. It shielded us both."

"All right," the Doctor said, his hand inside the wide stem of the operator's station. "The door is open."

"It won't last more than two minutes," the Master told her. "Simple trigger switch on it." He had lifted his hand, and she took it.

"Thanks," she said. "Hang on a little longer. Here goes, Jo."

Mags leaped out with a high jump, attracting fire like a mop topped lightning rod. She rolled forward and set off. Only then did she flip the trigger on the medallion. She came around the largest operator's stations and met four of the diminished security force. The energy bolts were sizzling around her, and she felt several strike her, but the force field discharged them to ground. As she retreated back from the assault without firing, Jo picked off one of them. Then Mags lifted her two guns and fired, rolled to the floor, and wrapped her legs around the leg of the last one, catching him in a leg trap. He was struck by a bolt, but whether it was from Jo or an accidental blast from friendly fire, she did not know.

As she leaped up to cover the rest of the ground, she felt a humming sensation that flared up and then diminished, and she realized that the personal force field had quit on her, drained of power. She got behind cover of one of the smaller remote stations, checked, and ran for the door to the time tunnel. It was open. She dashed through and covered the interior with her gun, but nobody was inside.

She backed up to the doorway and peered out. Nothing moved out on the floor. She glanced back inside, double-checking to make sure it was safe. The interior was small, even cramped. In the center stood an archway, silvery and emitting a powerful hum. There was no cover to shield any attackers. She leaned out of the doorway and waved.

A moment later, the Doctor appeared, the Master flung across his shoulders in a bleeding heap. Jo came immediately after him, covering his back. But if there were any defenders left, they were thinking better of any more suicidal tactics.

The Doctor came through the doorway and quickly dumped the Master to the floor. As Jo came in, he grabbed hold of the door where it had slid back into the wall. He pushed and pulled on it and manually closed it.

Mags rolled the fallen timelord onto his stomach and ripped apart the ruined black tunic. After a moment, Jo helped her. They got his shirt off and looked at the wound. The Doctor went into a wall panel and pulled out copper wire.

"What about 'im?" Mags asked.

"This is for him," the Doctor said. "We can discharge the photon energy that's ripping him apart. Fortunately, we timelords are a little more resistant to energy than you humans are, but the pain must be terrible. Run this wire as deeply into the wound as you can."

In pain herself from all these exertions after her own injuries, Jo looked even more white than she had looked out in the processing plant. Mags grit her teeth, took the cabling, and did as the Doctor directed. He handed her a second wire, this one loose at both ends, and instructed her to run it from the wound to ground.

"This isn't to harm him," the Doctor said, working in the wall. "Stand back, Mags, and don't touch the wires."

He did something in the wall, and the Master gave a convulsive jerk and cried out, then was still.

"That did it," the Doctor said. "The energy followed the quickest path to ground, through the short wire."

"He'll live?" Mags asked.

"He should," the Doctor said.

"What now?" Jo asked. "What is this thing?"

The Doctor raced over to the control station set against one wall. "It is time travel in its most primitive form," he said. "It's a fixed travel beam--or tunnel--that forms a link between this location and a receiving station somewhere across space."

"That doesn't sound like time travel," Jo said.

"In a limited way, it is," he told her. "You pass through the arch, and it deposits you at the other end, without time having passed. It's the very first step to time travel." He ran his hands over the controls and nodded, satisfied. "Yes, I recognize the design." He glanced at Jo and Mags. "This is the best design possible with a limited energy source. These people cannot attain to getting into the Vortex yet because they lack the limitless energy required to do so. But they have overcome the spatial limitations of time. They can travel in the present without time passing."

"'ow long until they get that limitless stuff?" Mags asked.

"I don't know--as long as it takes them to figure out how to supernova a sun and harness the energy," he told her. "We mustn't let them get that far."

The Master stirred. "Mags," he said. "Help me."

She knelt by him and helped him to roll onto his back. "Get the coordinates of the other end," he said to the Doctor. "And then destroy this. Use the self destruct."

"We never designed a self destruct sequence for this," the Doctor reminded him.

"They must have," the Master said. "They must. It's a secret operation--"

"All right, old chap. Save your strength," the Doctor told him. He continued to search the controls.

"It makes sense," Mags agreed, wadding up the Master's white shirt to press against the wound in his back. "Gimme a hand, Jo." She looked up at the Doctor. "I mean, I've already linked it to the Golden Group," she said. "They must have it set to be destroyed if anybody gets too close to the ring."

"Yes, yes," he said, checking the controls. "They've added such a sequence. Now what? If we destroy this end, there's still the other end." He looked at them. "They can rebuild it if they've got the drawings and information and a model on the other end." Nobody answered him, and he turned back to the control panels. He worked for several minutes. "All right," he said at last. "I've got the coordinates of the site on the other end of the tunnel, and I can rig a destruct sequence that apparently ties in with the rest of this operation. We can bring them down easily enough. Destroy this whole lot."

"And us with it?" Jo asked.

"No," he told her. "I can re-set this thing. It will use the TARDIS as its receiver. We'll go through the archway and come out inside my TARDIS." He glanced at them. "Can you two lift him? We'll need to act very quickly."

* * * *

"Ah, be it ever so 'umble, there's no place like 'ome," Mags said with a grin as the Master opened his eyes. "'ow are you, Mr. Sin?"

He looked up at her and took stock. "My superior regenerative abilities are closing the wound rather quickly," he said.

She put a cigarette into her mouth and lit it. "I lost me blamed visor in that plant."

"Where are the Doctor and Miss Grant?" he asked. He was occupying the same cot where Jo Grant had recovered.

"Jo's all done in," she told him. "She collapsed just as soon as we got through. The Major's lookin' after her." She held the cigarette out to him. "Take a drag?" she asked.

He allowed her to put the cigarette between his lips. He took a long drag and nodded. She removed the cigarette.

"So we're all going to the destination that he found at the other end of that time tunnel thing at the plant," she told him. "Assumin' you agree."

"And the plant?" he asked.

"Destroyed. Right down to the ground. Or up to the ground, I should say," she told him. We pulled you through the tunnel and got back here. But the whole ground shook when the place went up. Sorry you missed it." She took a drag and held the cigarette out to him. He nodded, and when she put it between his lips, he seized her wrist in his hand, not roughly, but possessively. He inhaled from the cigarette, then moved her hand away so that it rested on his chest.

"Ah," she told him with some admiration. "The Major told me to watch out for you. Says you do what pleases you. Love domination and power and all that." She looked down at him, her green eyes sparkling good naturedly.

"I do," he admitted. He raised his other hand to frame the side of her face with it and was satisfied to see that behind her air of cheerful disregard, the touch of his hand did unnerve her. "I take what is best for myself," he told her softly. "Because I know how to value what is best." He stroked her cheek. "I love what is beautiful, and bold, and agile, and I am always determined to make it mine."

"Ah now, Sin," she said, trying to sound light hearted, but her voice shook slightly. "I'm just a gutter snipe to you, and you've made that pretty clear."

"All human culture is beneath my contempt," he told her quietly. "If I disregarded you at first, it was my mistake." Still keeping her wrist imprisoned in his one hand, he used the other to brush her curly hair back from her face. "but not because I thought your station was beneath that of any other creature's." He looked into her eyes. "Do you really imagine that others are as brave as you, my dear? You were designed for danger, and when I saw you in danger, I saw the real you, call her what you will."

For the first time, this hint that she was not really Mags Hardbottle, the galaxy's premier detective, got through to her. Her eyes were suddenly vulnerable. "The--the Doctor said you was smooth," she replied.

He seemed not to hear her. "What am I to do when this is over?" he asked her. "Are you to be left to the casinos again?" He stroked her cheek and touched her eyebrow with his finger tips.

"The Major bought me off the casinos," she faltered.

"You love time travel, don't you?" he asked. He traced the lines of her face with his fingertips. She said nothing. He had his eyes on her eyes, and she did not turn away. "You love it, because you were born for it," he told her. "What other greatness have you been born for?" His hand slipped behind her head with a gentle but inescapable pressure. "Shall I show you?" He released her wrist and slid his arm around her. "Come here."

She let him pull her closer, and he kissed her gently on the lips, then turned her head with his hand so that his beard softly touched the side of her face in a caress of his cheek against hers. It was a tenderness that she had not expected. He kissed her ear. She lifted her head. "No," she said in a shaken voice. "No, this isn't the right thing."

"Why should you resist me?" he whispered. "This is what you want, to be free and brave, to come and wander the stars." And she let him draw her down so that their eyes and lips were close. "You gave me your friendship outside the plant when you went into danger with me," he whispered to her. "Now, I give you mine." They kissed again.

"Oh, excuse me," the Doctor's voice said. "How very awkward."

Mags had too much dignity to jump back like a nervous child. She straightened up and looked at the him. The Doctor's eyes were steady, but behind the steadiness there was evidence of shock and dismay.

Mags leaned against the side of the bed and took a drag on the cigarette. "We ready?" she asked.

The Doctor relaxed and crossed to the Master. "We're going to Earth," he told the other timelord. "Earth in this time stream. Not sure if Mags had a chance to tell you. We're making for the coordinates we took from the time tunnel inside the plant."

"And what do we do once we get there?" the Master asked.

"We've matched the coordinates to the Earth Atlas," the Doctor told him. "It's a place called the Knowledge Foundation, run under the auspices of the Golden Group. We have to infiltrate them and get the design drawings for the time tunnel. If we destroy it on their end, and destroy their information banks on it, we can probably guarantee that they won't be able to build another one."

The Master nodded and took the cigarette from Mags' hand. He inhaled and looked thoughtful. "So we must infiltrate, investigate, and destroy." He smiled. "Exactly what I like best." He exhaled and his glance fell on Mags. "Well, second best," he corrected himself.

"So the truce still stands," the Doctor said.

"Of course, Doctor. I did save your life in the plant," the Master reminded him.

"For which I'm grateful," the Doctor assured him. "With your permission, we'll get on our way."

The Master nodded. The Doctor went to the console. The Master held a hand out to Mags, but she seemed not to see the gesture. Brows knit together, she went and stood against the wall. Thoughtfully, but with fingers shaking, she pulled out a fresh cigarette for herself and lit it. Unaware that he was looking at her, she did not see the smile of satisfaction that crossed his face.

Episode Eleven is now online!
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