To Catch a Fox

By Philip M. Parneker (aka Mark Phippen)

'Stand and deliver!'

The driver pulled hard on the reins as the horse leapt out in front of him, its masked rider firing his pistol into the air as the horse pulled back onto its hind legs.

As the carriage came to a halt, skidding on the ground, wet with the pounding rain, a furious, rotund face came to the window.

'What is the meaning of this?!' bellowed the face.

'This, my dear chap, is a hold up. Would you kindly get out of the carriage?'

The rider's voice was rough, but there was a haughtiness there. An oik who had bettered himself, perhaps?

The rider pointed his pistol at the driver. 'You: scram.'

The driver needed no further prompting, and he had disappeared into the dark forest that surrounded the road before the passenger had even opened his door. As the man stepped out, it became apparent that his rather large bulk had filled much of the carriage. Indeed, it was hard to see how the young girl who followed him had sat alongside him.

'You can take what you want,' said the man, offering his purse, 'but please let us go.'

'I'm afraid I won't be doing that,' replied the masked man, now dismounting his black steed. 'You have an appointment to keep with some friends of yours.'

The large man blanched visibly, looking around him furtively. 'What do you mean?'

'I mean this wasn't some random hold-up. I've been looking for you. And with the help of Babs here, I've finally found you.' The man was removing his mask now, to reveal a craggy, lined face with twinkling eyes, and a cheeky smile.

The big man turned to his companion, puzzlement etched on his face. 'You! You led me here, you whore!'

'Well, what else did you think I would come out on a night like this with you for?' replied Babs.

The man looked crestfallen. 'I thought... I don't know what I thought! I don't understand any of this! What on Earth is going on?'

'Ah, but that's the point, isn't it?' the craggy faced rider replied. 'Or rather, why on Earth?'

Realisation dawned on the man. 'So, you know.'

'Yes, we know. We know that you are not human, we know that you are a fugitive from your own race, the Fahdiddlyquaqua. A war criminal. A creature so unremittingly evil that I simply cannot allow you to remain on Earth in this time period.'

'So what now?'

'Well, I'm expecting some visitors about...' the night sky was lit at that moment by a brilliant blue light which fell from the sky between the trees onto the road in which they stood. '...now,' the man with the pistol finished.

A rich, deep voice boomed out across the forest. 'Torbor of the Fahdiddlyquaqua, you are accused of being a war criminal. Your deeds in the Tylum war lead to the deaths of millions of innocent lives, killed to satisfy your quest for purity in the Fahdiddlyquaqua race. For this you must now return to Fahdiddly to face trial. May I remind you that resisting arrest for this crime may lead to summary execution. Step into the light, or be obliterated on the spot.'

The large man, the Fahdiddlyquaqua, turned and glowered at the man and woman. 'I'll survive this, mark my words. I'll escape again, and when I do I'll track you down. Vengeance will be mine!'

And with that, the man stepped into the light, and in the blink of an eye, both he and the blue beam were gone.

The man brushed his hands together. 'Another job done.'

'You were magnificent, Doctor!' said Babs, hugging him.

The Doctor's eye's boggled. 'Careful, love, you'll crush me with that chest of yours!'

'Oh, you are one!' giggled Babs.

The Doctor's reply was interrupted by an urgent bleeping sound, coming from the Doctor's pocket. The Doctor reached in and pulled out a small, green device, glowing with each beep it emitted.

'It's the Brigadier! He must be in trouble.'

Babs turned to the Doctor. 'It's a shame we have to go,' she said, 'I must say, you do look the part. A right Dick Turpin.'

'Never let it be said that my Dick is anything les than impressive,' replied the Doctor with a smile. 'Come on, let's see what the Brigadier wants us for.'

As the Doctor and Babs entered the Brigadier's office, an apparently empty room greeted them. They were about turn around and leave when they heard a high pitch squeal from behind the desk. Exchanging a glance with Babs, the Doctor coughed loudly.

The rather rotund form of Corporal Bell shot up from behind the desk, smoothing down her crumpled and ill-fitting uniform, red faced at the sight of the newcomers.

'I...er...um...' she said, and dashed from the room. The Doctor gave a hearty chuckle as the Brigadier pulled himself up from behind the same desk, his tie askew and his shirt undocked.

'You could learn to knock, Doctor,' he bellowed, his nostrils flared even more than usual.

'You old dog, Brigadier. I didn't know you had it in you!' The Doctor's craggy face looked like it had been in the bath too long, creased even further by the broad grin on his face.

'Hattie... Corporal Bell merely had something in her eye. I offered to get it out for her,' the Brigadier spluttered.

'I bet you did!' cried Babs, her previous professional demeanour in front of her superior finally cracking.

'Miss Babs!' the Brigadier replied, a little crossly, 'May I remind you that you are still a member of UNIT, even if you are permanently attached to the Doctor here.'

'Yes sir. Sorry sir.' Babs tried to keep a straight face.

'So why have you called me back, Brigadier? Evil maggots? Lizard men? Murderous manikins?'

'The Master,' the Brigadier replied.

'Oh, not him again! Does he never give up?'

'It seems not. Had him in our top security prison, too. Managed to hypnotise the Governor, arrange an invasion by some prehistoric fishmen and invent some kind of device that fed on people's fears. Kept us tied up while he slipped out the back door. Quite why they built a back door in the prison, I'll never know. Anyway, he's free now, and up to his old tricks. Thing is, this time he's asking for you.'

'How do you mean?'

'Keep's calling UNIT HQ, asking if you're back yet. I think he's getting impatient. Seems he has something he wants to tell you.'

'Isn't UNIT HQ's number top secret?' Babs asked.

'Well, it was meant to be, but they went and put it in the phone book, didn't they? Had the cheek to charge us to change it, too! Well, with UNIT being strapped for cash we...'

'Yes, yes, Brigadier, but what did he want?' the Doctor asked impatiently.

'Wouldn't say. He would only talk to you. Had some pretty nifty technology blocking his call, but we managed to get round that. We've pinpointed his location to a tower block in Peckham.' The Brigadier handed the Doctor a piece of paper.

'Leave him to me, Brigadier. The Master and I go way back.'

The Brigadier nodded. 'Be careful out there, Doctor. Call me if you need backup.'

The Doctor held the door open for Babs, ushering her out. 'Will do. Oh, and Brigadier...'

'What?'

'Your moustache is slipping.'

The Doctor closed the door behind him.

The building was like a monster; a huge grey beast towering over its prey, windows like a thousand eyes looking down on them, the double doors at its entrance a gaping mouth, ready to devour them. Babs instinctively pulled back as they approached.

The Doctor looked at her, a puzzled look on his face. 'It's only a building. What the matter with you?'

Babs hugged herself tightly. 'Can't you feel it Doctor?'

His craggy face screwed up into a frown, the lines of his face folding into deep crevices. 'Feel what?'

'The evil. The whole building feels like it's made from pure evil,' Babs took another step back, 'I can't go in there.'

'Don't be daft,' said the Doctor, chuckling slightly, 'it's just a building you silly moo.'

Babs bristled at that. 'I am not a silly moo, Doctor!'

'So you're coming in then? Good.'

The Doctor marched off toward the building, leaving Babs little choice but to follow.

'Fourth floor,' said the Doctor, consulting his time-disruption device, which was giving off a steady ping-ping noise that increased when the Doctor pointed it toward the ceiling.

'Doctor, this place is deserted,' pointed out Babs, as she followed the Doctor up the first flight of stairs, 'but some of this graffiti is fresh. What happened to the people?'

'What indeed,' the Doctor replied over his shoulder, 'hopefully we'll find some answers on the fourth floor.'

They reached the fourth floor, the Doctor's device going wild, pinging rapidly and increasing as they made their way along the balcony until they reached the door to flat 57.

'This is the one,' the Doctor indicated, retrieving his sonic screwdriver from his pocket.

As he did so, the pinging device reached a crescendo, the 'ping' so high-pitched that Babs had to cover her ears. Finally, the device could take no more. It exploded in a shower of sparks.

'It must have overloaded,' said the Doctor, looking glumly down at the remains of the device on the floor. 'That was my best one, too.'

The reason for the overload became apparent as soon as they entered the flat. Amid the clutter, the take-away cartons, empty larger cans and unwashed plates of a typical bachelor pad, stood a familiar six-sided console, its gleaming white panels standing out against the purple wallpaper of the flat. Installed in one wall was the screen of a scanner.

'It's your TARDIS!'

'Not mine, the Master's. It looks to me like he's stuck here on Earth. No wonder he's playing games with us - he must be bored out of his furry skull.'

'So he's trying to fix the console?'

'It looks like he's given up on that. Look at this,' the Doctor indicated a cable running from the console to the black and white TV that sat in the corner of the room. On its screen were two white blocks, one on each side of the screen. Bouncing between them was a small white dot.

'Pong!' exclaimed Babs.

'It's little wonder with all this rotting food around,' said the Doctor, breaking into one of his cheeky grins. 'Come on, let's see what clues we can find.'

The flat turned out to be disappointingly ordinary. Well, besides the Gallifreyan technology dotted around the place. Aside from an alarming moment when the Doctor tried to set free the contents of a lava lamp, convinced it was a Egalitritian from the planet Galmar, the only item of interest they found was something the Doctor long-windedly called a 'Protective Illusionary Security System - Optical Fear Factor' device. A small black box that the Master had plugged into the console.

'This little device is probably the explanation for your sense of foreboding when we approached the building,' the Doctor explained, 'and the reason why this entire building is deserted.'

'Why, what does it do?' asked Babs.

'It instils fear in the hearts of men. And women, come to that. No one will come near this place, and the residents who already lived there would have asked to be moved. The council must have been sympathetic. There's something almost tangible about the sense of evil here. Mind you, I'm only guessing; it doesn't actually bother me that much.'

'No, you're right, that's exactly how I feel. Oh, come on Doctor, let's get out of here before this place really freaks me out,' Babs pleaded.

The Doctor nodded. 'I think you're right; there's nothing else to be gained from staying here. I'll just disconnect the...'

As the Doctor's hand reached out to the plug that fed the TARDIS console with electricity from the mains, a bolt of energy shot from the plug, striking him in the chest, and throwing him across the room.

'Doctor!' cried Babs.

The Doctor was lying on the floor, groaning, but he was conscious. Babs signed with relief. The relief didn't last long though; with a sudden slam, the door to the flat swung shut. Babs tried the door, but it was locked firm.

'We're trapped!' yelled Babs.

'Stop panicking and find the door controls, you silly old trout,' said the Doctor weakly from the floor.

Babs was about to do as she'd been told when the scanner suddenly began to open - to reveal the grinning, malevolent face of the Master.

'So I see you've found my place. Nice of you to drop by. Sorry I couldn't be there myself, but you know how it is. Still, make yourself at home.'

'So, it was a trap,' muttered the Doctor, still lying on the floor. 'I should have realised it was far to easy to walk in here.'

'My dear Doctor, you're so wonderfully predictable.' The Master said in his cultured tones.

'Well, I must say, you certainly foxed me this time,' said the Doctor, attempting one of his trademarked guttural laughs, but only managing a faint chuckle.

The Master was obviously annoyed. 'Be careful, Doctor. You know that's still a touchy subject. And it won't do to make me touchy when I have you at my mercy.' The Master was waving his bushy tail, an instinctive reaction whenever he was riled.

'You still haven't told me how it happened, Master,' the Doctor replied.

'It was your fault, Doctor. You left me to die on that desolate, dying planet after defeating my last plan for universal domination. But that planet wasn't as dead as you thought. Its inhabitants found me, nursed me back to health. In return I gave them power and knowledge they had never dreamed of.'

'But there was a price for your survival, wasn't there Master?' the Doctor pressed. His voice was growing stronger.

The Master grinned, revealing sharp teeth. 'I prefer to think of it as an added bonus. The planet began to change me, make me one of its own. It gave me this powerful new form.'

'Powerful?' The Doctor was incredulous. 'You're only twelve inches high!'

'Nevertheless, Doctor, it is you who cower before me!'

While the Doctor and his nemesis talked, Babs was franticly pushing buttons and pulling levers, hoping to find the controls for the door. Or, failing that, she would settle for closing the scanner to avoid having to look at the evil, long snouted face of the Master. The controls were different to those of the Doctor's TARDIS, and it took her a while to realise why - they were designed for the small, furry hands of the Master.

Eventually she found a lever, right at the top of the console, near the central rotor. The Master had crudely written 'DOORS' next to it in felt-tip pen. 'I've found it Doctor!' she said as she leaned over the console to pull the lever.

The Doctor was groggily getting to his feet. 'Careful Babs, it might be...'

As Babs pulled the lever, two panels in the console opened below the lever, and out shot two clamp-like devices that immediately grabbed Babs by the chest, pulling her down.

'...booby trapped,' finished the Doctor.

Shaking his head to clear the last of the haziness, the Doctor leapt forward and tried to pull Babs free of the console. She was stuck fast. The Doctor rolled his eyes. 'What did you go and do that for, you silly bint?'

'Help Doctor!' screamed Babs, 'Get me free!'

'I'm trying! The Doctor shouted back, 'But I'm afraid it's got too strong a grip. And let's face it, there's a lot to get hold of!'

On the screen the furry form of the Master was in hysterics, throwing his head back with laughter.

'Let her go, Master, or I swear I'll have you stuffed!' The Doctor shouted at the screen.

'You'll have to find me first,' the Master grinned back, 'but I've been a sport - I've left a clue that should help you. If you survive of course!'

'What do you mean?'

The Master simply threw his head back and gave a long, repetitive laugh, before looking right at the Doctor. 'Boom boom!' he said. The screen went black, then lit up with a countdown. They had two minutes.

The Doctor turned back to Babs. 'We've got to get out of here!'

'I quite agree Doctor, but unfortunately this console has other ideas.'

'I'll have to disconnect the power, there's nothing for it.'

'But another shock like that could kill you next time!'

'I'll have to take that chance,' the Doctor replied, 'I'll be ready for it this time. There are things a Time Lord can do to shield himself against this sort of thing.'

'Then do it. Get me free before this place blows sky high!'

The Doctor steeled himself, felt the power of his Time Lords curse through him, as he reached out to remove the plug from the wall socket. As his hand neared the plug, the electricity arced out across the space between them. After the initial jolt, the Doctor managed to steady himself, feeling the energy flowing through him as the powers that he had learnt to control under the tutelage of an old and mysterious Time Lord on his home planet of Gallifrey fought against all that the electricity board could throw at him.

Slowly but surely the Doctor's hand edged nearer and nearer the plug, until finally his fingers could grasp it and pull it from the socket. Immediately the clamps holding Babs released their grip, and she pulled herself up from the console, rubbing her sore chest.

The Doctor was lying on the floor, eyes closed, body still. Fearing the worst, Babs ran to his side and placed her head to his chest. Hearts still beating. Phew.

She slapped him twice about the face and his eyes snapped open. 'Thank you,' he said.

'Thank you Doctor. How did you do that?'

The Doctor looked at the timer; they had forty seconds left. 'I'll explain later,' he said, pulling himself to the floor and taking Bab's hand. 'I'm hoping that with the power off... aha!' The door swung open and they raced into the corridor. Babs' made for the lift, put the Doctor pulled her back. 'We'd stand a better chance on foot if the bomb goes off.'

As they charged down the stairs, Babs pointed out that they were no closer to finding the Master than they had been before visiting this place. As they pushed open the doors at the entrance the Doctor told her that on the contrary, they had learned something very important. As they ran across the car park in front of the building Babs' asked him just what exactly they had learnt. As they threw themselves to the floor, the building behind them exploded in a huge fireball that sent masonry up into the air and onto the surrounding wasteland. As the Doctor and Babs picked themselves up, the Doctor explained.

'The Master works for the council.'

'How do you figure that one out?'

'How else would he have got planning permission for that?' he said, pointing to the statue.

How Babs had missed it, she would never know, but there, towering above them, was a golden statue of a forty-foot high, sharp snouted, bushy tailed fox.

The council offices were a marvel of Sixties architecture; square and functional. Characterless.

The foyer was not much better. One or two sorry looking pot plants had been placed next to the plastic stackable chairs of the reception area in an effort to brighten the place up. This may have worked better had anyone bothered to water them.

The Doctor and Babs walked up to the high counter, evidently designed to keep the staff as far away from the riff-raff as possible. The Doctor rang the bell. Even that sounded dull.

After some considerable time, a woman sauntered unhurriedly into reception, a bored, totally disinterested look on her pockmarked face. She was chewing gum, an act that made her seem even less interested in actually doing her job than she actually was. Which was no mean feat.

'Yeah?' she asked in a voice that matched her expression.

'I'd like to see Mr. Masters please,' the Doctor asked politely.

'Well, ya can't, 'es in a meetin'.'

'It is very urgent,' the Doctor insisted.

'Sorry,' replied the woman, in a tone that suggested she was anything but.

'Tell me, have you noticed anything about Mr. Masters? Anything odd?' The Doctor asked.

'Waddaya mean?' the woman replied, chomping on her gum.

'Well, for instance, have you noticed that he's a twelve-inch high fox who walks on his hind legs and talks?'

'The council are all for this equal opportunities stuff, ain't they? Mr. Masters can't 'elp bein' 'ow 'e was born, can 'e?' replied the woman.

'No no, of course. I just wanted to make sure I had the right Mr. Masters.'

'Come on Doctor, we're wasting our time here,' said Babs.

'You're the Doctor?' asked the woman.

'The very same. You've heard of me perhaps? I am rather famous for my acts of bravery. You've heard tales of my derring do?'

'I'm not interested in your derring do, fank you very much,' the woman opened a drawer, taking out a small envelope. 'Na, 'e left a note for ya. Said ya might be comin' in.'

The Doctor took the envelope and opened it straight away. The letter inside was written in immaculate script.

My dear Doctor,

I'm so glad to see that you escaped from my little trap at the flat. It would have been so... disappointing had you been defeated so easily. Not in the spirit of the game. And that's exactly what this is, isn't it? A game. I think it's time we admit that, because once we do we can start to play properly. And I know you want to play, don't you? Well, just in case you don't, how's about a little incentive. Let's say I'll, oh, I don't know, release a Chronovore into Earth's dimension to see what happens. Don't like that? How's about I use my brainwave modulator to turn the world's domestic animals on their human keepers? Killer sheep, murderous cows, you get the picture. I haven't decided yet, but rest assured that whatever I do it will be very very evil.

So, I advise you, dear Doctor, to read this very carefully. It contains a clue to my current whereabouts, if you're clever enough to work it out:

My first is in cards, but not in deal

My second is in ball, but not in wheel

My third is in spin, but not in turn

My fourth is in arrive, but not return

My fifth is in money, but not in cash

My sixth is in roulette, but not in splash

Good luck, Doctor! Hahaaahaaaahaaaahaaaa.... Boom boom!

'The fiend!' Shouted the Doctor, 'He knows how much I hate riddles!'

'It's not difficult, Doctor,' replied Babs, 'a bit too easy, if you ask me.'

'Oh, it's easy enough,' the Doctor glared at her, 'but look at those rhymes! Some of them don't even make sense as clues! Splash? What does that mean? Only a truly evil mind could devise such a cruel puzzle.'

The entrance to the casino was guarded by a mean looking bouncer who had taken one look at the Doctor's rather eccentric get up and decided from the off that he wasn't getting in.

The Doctor tried to appeal to the large, skinheaded man's sense of civic duty.

'You don't understand! An evil mastermind is threatening to destroy the universe! It's imperative that I am allowed into the building!'

The man starred impassively ahead. The Doctor turned to Babs.

'I was hoping to avoid this, but I'm going to have to hypnotise him. Stand back.'

Babs did so, and the Doctor produced a pocket watch on a gold fob, which he proceeded to dangle in front of the bouncer's eyes. The impassive look on the man's face didn't change, and his lack of movement indicated that the Doctor's plan was working.

Until, that was, the bouncer reached out and grabbed the watch, crushing it in his fist, and throwing its mangled remains at the Doctor.

'Now get lost,' the man said, 'before I do the same to you.'

The Doctor and Babs made a hasty retreat.

They sat on a park bench, watching an old man taking pictures of the ducks in the lake. The Doctor's face was glum.

'Innit marvellous,' he said, 'fallen at the second hurdle. If we don't get into that casino the Master will do something incredibly evil.'

'Why can't we just use the TARDIS?' Asked Babs.

'That would be cheating!' The Doctor replied, 'and besides, the old girl's not very good at those short hops. Last time I tried it I ended up in a different dimension.'

'You didn't tell me about that!'

'Didn't I? It must have been before your time.'

'So what was it like, this different dimension?'

'Horrible. Imagine a world where there is no laughter, where plans never go wrong with hilarious consequences. It felt so unreal. Wrong.' The Doctor's eyes were staring, unfocused, into the distance as his mind drifted back.'

'It sounds awful! What happened?'

'Absolutely nothing. It was as if the people had lost the plot. Or worse, there was no plot. People were so... directionless. Pointless. I tracked down some familiar faces while I was there; Lizzy, my previous companion was a barmaid in a tatty little pub, Bernard Benton was a used car salesman, and the Brigadier was a maths teacher at a public school - can you imagine!'

Babs chuckled. She could just see the Brig putting up with a load of snotty nosed little oiks. 'And they didn't recognise you?'

'Oh no, they recognised me alright. As someone who should be dead. Heart attack, apparently.' The Doctor's face was pale, as he recalled the event.

'What's that?'

'I don't know. I've never heard of it. It's certainly not something that happens in this world.'

'Thank goodness!'

The Doctor nodded. 'Life was just so humdrum. The only excitement people got was from something called "teevee"'

'What was that?'

'A little box that sat in the corner of every living room, spewing out 'entertainment' in the form of stories about people with slightly less humdrum lives than those watching them.'

'But when would they have time to watch this stuff? Surely all the alien invasions and criminal master plans kept them busy?'

'There were no alien invasions or criminal master plans. Where's the fun in that?'

'I couldn't live like that, with no fun.'

'Neither could I,' the Doctor replied, turning to the camera. 'Could you?'

The old man behind the camera who was snapping away, taking pictures of the ducks, shook his head. 'It sounds like no life at all.'

The Doctor nodded. 'Exactly. I got away in the end, made it back to this world of reality, where everyone knows their role, has their part to play, the direction they are going. I hope I never leave it again.'

'Well, we can't sit around here all day, feeling sorry for ourselves,' Babs replied, 'come on Doctor, jump to it.'

The Doctor leapt to his feet. 'Of course! Babs, you're a genius!'

'I am?'

'Absolutely! The roof of the casino is only a few feet higher than the roof of the ah... gentleman's club next door. Now I happen to be very well acquainted with the proprietor of said establishment who I'm sure could be persuaded that his roof might need a hitherto unwarranted inspection.'

'You might have warned me, Doctor. How am I meant to climb in these high heels?'

As expected, the owner of the club was only too willing to let the Doctor, who she described as 'one of her best customers' onto the roof with Babs, who, for her part, was wondering why there were so many women in a gentleman's club. Must be ladies night, she guessed.

The gap between the buildings was very small, but the climb once across was steep, with no footholds. The Doctor, as always, had a plan. Disappearing back into the club, he returned with a rather long and viscous looking whip. Babs figured it must have been used in some kind of ceremony or something. They did that, didn't they, gentleman's clubs? Or was that the Masons?

Brandishing the whip with ease, the Doctor threw it back and cast it like a fishing rod towards one of the casino's turrets across the gap, where it wrapped itself around the protrudence and pulled itself tight like a rope.

The Doctor climbed up first, fixing the rope more securely when he reached the turret. He then beckoned Babs across.

'I'm not exactly built for this kind of thing, Doctor!' She wailed.

'Don't worry, it's perfectly safe.'

'How many times have I heard that before!?'

'Well, I'm usually right,' the Doctor replied. 'Nine times out of ten.'

'Well, I've lost count, so here goes.' So saying, Babs gripped the whip-come-rope and began to haul herself upwards.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver made short work of the relatively primitive electronic lock of the manager's office, and the door slid open with a 'shhtuck'.

As the Doctor and Babs slipped inside, a scene from a horror movie confronted them. Hanging from a coat hanger over the manager's desk, was the skin of a man. Slack and wrinkled, eye-sockets empty, it hung like a ghoul. Babs gasped, then gathered her wits as she noticed the clothes that hung loosely from the body. 'Doctor, that's...'

She was interrupted by a screech from behind the desk.

'I sincerely hope that's Corporal Bell again,' said the Doctor.

But the being that emerged from behind the desk was considerably smaller, and just a little hairier that Corporal Bell. As the Master rose to his full height, Babs strained to see his legs, but they were hidden, as always, behind the desk.

'So, you found me,' said the Master in his cultured tones.

'Well, I'd certainly say that we've found the mastermind behind this charade,' replied the Doctor.

'As, I say, Doctor, you've found me.'

'Oh, Master, can't you see you're being used!' the Doctor was edging nearer to the desk as he spoke, 'you're as much a pawn in this game as I am. You're just a puppet!'

'I don't know what you're talking about,' the Master replied, his voice wavering, 'now get back before I have to use this.' He pulled a small, black wand from an invisible pocket and waved it menacingly at the Doctor.

'Izzy wizzy, let's get busy,' said the Doctor, 'wrong show. Wrong puppet!'

As he said this, the Doctor leapt forward, ignoring the much squealing and waving of wand from the Master, and grabbed the furry Time Lord's head, and pulled hard. The Master's body came clean away, to reveal a small, slimy green hand waving nakedly from beneath the desk.

'I think you should come out now,' said the Doctor, throwing the now lifeless puppet Master into a nearby bin.

Gingerly, the being behind the desk stood up. It was tall and spindly, with a narrow face that was almost entirely filled with large, saucer-like eyes.

'What is it?' asked Babs, her eyes wide with horror.

'That, my dear Babs,' replied the Doctor, 'is the true form of our old friend the Fahdiddlyquaqua.'

'That explains the human suit!' cried Babs. 'I recognised it when we came in. It was that old duffer Sir Messingham.'

'I've waited two hundred years for this moment,' said the alien, 'two hundred years of mind-numbing boredom, locked up in that prison cell. All thanks to you. The long life of my race has been both a curse and a blessing; a curse because I had to live so long in captivity, but a blessing because now, finally, I can exact my revenge on you and your whore, Doctor!'

'Stop calling me that!' yelled Babs.

'So,' said the Doctor, laying a placating hand on Babs shoulder, 'now you've got us here, what do you plan to do with us?'

'I'm going to kill you. Slowly.'

'How unimaginative. I had hoped for something better from the mind of an intergalactic war criminal.'

'It will suffice. Just to see you die will be pleasurable enough.' The Fahdiddlyquaqua opened one of the desk drawers and pulled out a gun and handcuffs. 'Now, on your knees and turn around.' The Doctor and Babs did as they were told, and the alien roughly handcuffed their hands behind their backs, placing his gun on the desk as he did so. 'You will die on your knees, Doctor. A position I'm sure your companion is all too familiar with.'

'One more crack like that and...' began Babs.

'You'll what? Cry? You're at my mercy now, girl!'

'How do you imagine that you'll get away with this? UNIT are on their way, you'll never get passed them,' the Doctor pointed out.

'I think you'll find they're not, you know,' replied the alien.

'What do you mean?'

'I've kept them rather busy with some plastic loving friends of mine,' the Fahdiddlyquaqua said with glee.

'You don't mean...'

'Yes! I've arranged a Tupperware party! You know the Brigadier and his men can't get enough of those little plastic tubs.'

'You evil swine! You know the UNIT budget won't run to Tupperware! You'll cripple them!'

'That's the idea, Doctor. Then this world will be defenceless!'

'Hang on, I thought your vendetta was with me?' the Doctor said, a puzzled frown on his face.

'Oh, it is, mainly. But I thought, hey; why not take over the world while I'm at it? It's what we aliens do, you know.'

'I do have one question, before I die,' the Doctor said.

'And what's that?' the alien's interest was piqued.

'Why pose as the Master?'

'To get your attention. For UNIT to take me seriously enough to call you back to this time period. When I heard the Master has escaped from his prison, I used his persona. It worked, didn't it?'

'I must admit, that you had me fooled for a while,' replied the Doctor, 'but there's one thing I should tell you before I go.'

'And what's that?'

'You'll have to come a little closer. It's a secret.'

The alien moved closer.

'It's about Miss Babs,' the Doctor whispered.

'Your whore? Go on.'

'She has a rather special skill.'

'I bet she does! And what is it?'

'Escapology.' the Doctor said, a smile breaking out over his gnarled face.

The alien spun around to find Babs standing next to the desk, his gun in her hand.

The Doctor stood up behind him. 'And I'm not bad at it either,' he said, holding up his free hands, 'studied under Houdini, you know.' He threw the cuffs to the Fahdiddlyquaqua. 'Put them on,' he said, 'and we'll take a trip to UNIT headquarters. I'm sure we'll be welcome at the party. And afterwards I expect they'll find you a nice new cell to spend the next few centuries.'

'Noooooooooooo!' cried the alien.

'...and when I turned round, they were all wearing false moustaches!' The crowd erupted with laughter as the Brigadier completed his monologue.

'Oh, Brigadier, no matter how many times I hear that, it still makes me laugh!' cried Babs.

They were celebrating the capture of the Fahdiddlyquaqua, now safely ensconced in a top security prison (although not the same one as the Master has been held in) and out of harms way. Babs looked around at the sausage rolls and pineapple on sticks, all held in little Tupperware pots that covered the table in the mess room. However would they eat all that? Then she remembered the gentle giant that was Bernard Benton and realised it wouldn't be a problem.

'It's a good job the Ministry approved further funding for UNIT,' said the Doctor, munching on an egg roll.

'Oh, yes,' replied the Brigadier, 'we would have been in serious trouble if aliens had decided to invade. We'd have had nothing to defend ourselves with besides ten ton of little Tupperware tubs!'

Corporal Bell came into the room carrying two more enormous plates of sandwiches.

'Careful with that, Hattie,' called Babs, 'those look heavy to me.'

'Nothing I can't handle,' replied Bell, and promptly fell flat on her face, the large heavy plates landing on her head. Matron was called, and she arrived, full of concern. She seemed, relieved, however, when she saw it was Corporal Bell lying on the floor. 'She'll be all right,' she said, dismissively, turning her attention to the Brigadier, 'for one nasty moment I thought something had happened to you.' And she pinched his bum.

The Brigadier blushed. 'Ooooh, Matron!'

And they all laughed.

As the medics carried the considerable bulk of Corporal Bell along the corridor towards the infirmary, they were surprised when she sat up on the stretcher and ushered them away.

'I'm quite all right,' she insisted, ignoring their protests, 'I'll just go for a lie down in my quarters.'

As the medics reluctantly left her, Bell sighed a deep sigh, and began to pull at the skin at the back of her neck. With one hard tug, she pulled the human skin from her body to reveal the green skinned alien inside.

'So, I mean nothing to him, do I? Prefer that whore of a Matron does he? Well, we'll see about that. Vengeance will be mine!'