This story is going up on my Birthday. It is dedicated to the Memory of Roger Delgado, who played The Master with sinister panache during the era of the 3rd Doctor. I claim no ownership of the Dr.Who characters and only write out of enjoyment of the wonderfully indelible marks they've left on me.

Thank you.


The Master had escaped...barely. And as primitive as these Earthmen were, their bullets could still do even a TimeLord damage. He clutched at his shoulder and sucked in air through his tightly clenched teeth.

Damn them, and damn The Doctor for, once more, foiling his plans.

The Master no longer looked too closely at his plans in the sense that he was seeking any real gain or power on this puny planet. Without really admitting it to himself, he simply had come to enjoy the suffering, the pain, and the work he could cause his dear old friend...his dear old protecting his adopted humanity from harm. Their falling out had not had anything to do with had happened centuries before The Master had even heard about this rock. But as The Doctor had grown more and more attached to the place in a way that disgusted the mercurial TimeLord, The Doctor had presented his nemesis with an Achilles' heel that he couldn't ignore. To hurt The Doctor, The Master would make these periodic stabs at the things The Doctor loved.

The Master had lost the capacity to love long, long ago. Love was for children and fools and The Master was neither. Like a child who sets aside short pants for long, he'd known that it was a path he couldn't find profit in. It was a weakness, and he was glad to be rid of such. Maybe, before he struck the final blow against The Doctor one day...maybe The Doctor would come to realize he had been right to strike it from his character like the cancer it was.

This escape had been messy and nearly disastrous for him however. He had taken great satisfaction in using his Tissue Compressor on the U.N.I.T. drone that had shot him. Taking long enough in his flight to enjoy the strangled scream of the soldier as the compression ray shrank his soft tissues faster then it shrank his skeleton causing the victim's limbs to buckle and snap like dry tinder. The Compressor was a devastatingly painful way to die.... he deserved it. But now The Master was left with the humiliating prospect of being caught by these lowly creatures. Yes...he knew The Doctor was pursuing him as well...and while it would rankle him to be caught by his great would be almost unbearable if his capture was accomplished by something as pedestrian as a chunk of lead buried in his flesh. He stumbled forward...but his steps were becoming less sure. His legs felt both heavy and insubstantial at the same time. He was losing too much blood and his TARDIS was too far away. He suddenly came to the horrible realization that his life could end. The thought of a universe without his presence frightened him.... but more frightening was the thought of dying before he could destroy his enemies...especially The Doctor.

As he leaned wearily against a tree he tried to sake off the lethargy of the blood loss. He cursed the foulest curse he could think of in High Gallifreyan then listened to his own breathing as he tried to slow it and tried to do the proper meditations to allow his body to slow the bleeding.

Through the dense tree line he heard more then his breathing and hurried hearts. He heard a voice and lay his back flat against the tree and held his weapon high in front of him. He thought he had just about lost them! He listened. It was definitely a human voice...two.... one was male...the other was almost inaudible.

He crept forward. Through the foliage he saw two humans enacting their own drama.

The human male twisted the arm of the woman kneeling in the dirt of a garden path. "I asked you a question bitch.... or maybe you're as deaf now as you are stupid!?" The Master watched him lean down toward his shaking victim. "I saw you smile at the green grocer today. Didn't I?" The man's face grew redder then his hair. "You do it again and I'll kill you! You hear me? Do you?"

Instead of speaking the girl kept her eyes down, but The Master could see her tremble from where he was hidden. The Red Headed man flung her away from him backwards. "Remember what I've told you. I'm the only one else. I've marked you. You're mine." He spat on her back and walked away. "Have a lovely day."

As the man receded down the road and a stab of pain lanced through The Master causing the girl to jump up and look around. The Master raised his weapon and stumbled forward.

His plan wasn't well thought out. That didn't disturb him as it should, but he was no longer forming careful, ordered plans. The plan now? More or less to kill the girl, and the man if he came back, and to hide in the cottage in the small clearing until his pursuers grew weary. The fact that he was bleeding his lives away and would most likely not live out the next hour didn't enter his mind...much. He knew enough of the seriousness of his dilemma to be even more antagonistic toward humanity they he already was naturally. He advanced on the young woman with raven tresses. She appeared ready to cry out at the sight of him, but she didn't. Instead she glanced down the lane the man had left down then stood and took a step toward him. He pointed his weapon at her. She was making this absurdly easy, for which he was grateful for in his weakened condition. She looked frightened. Good. Murder could be a tension reliever he'd found. And her's would do. But as he came within striking distance he saw the look on her face change. She looked at his shoulder...not at his weapon...not at his dark gaze, and her face softened and she removed the apron she wore and tore it in front of him.

"You're hurt!" She exclaimed and took the torn swatch of fabric and raised it toward him. The look on her face was without fear, The Master snarled. The world started to slip past him at great speed. At nauseating speed. His eyes blurred. He saw large, gray eyes widen and he was suddenly seeing them recede down a dark tunnel from a strange angle. And blackness took him.


Miranda barely caught the man as he fell....lowering him to the ground and looking into his midnight eyes just before they rolled up into his head and shut with a fighting flutter.

Miranda looked over her shoulder again, back down the lane. Braken would kill her if he saw her helping this man. It would be best to run into the village and try to get help for him there. But then again Braken would still kill her. He would never believe a man just dropped unconscious in her lap. And Chief Constable Hager would believe anything he wanted about Miranda and probably arrest her for hurting the gentleman. She looked at the dark furrowed brow and the wound bleeding freely and knew that if she were damned in any case for what was happening, that she would rather take her chances with this man, then face the certainty of damnation and punishment if she went for help. She set about dragging the man inside her cottage as quickly as possible. On the way to the cottage she did stop to drop the metallic wand down the well. She somehow knew it was a weapon of some sort and she wouldn't allow it in the house.

Once inside she managed to get him up into her bed and remove his shirt. She pulled down her Grandmother's books and the catgut and sutures. She had helped more then a few injured animals but a man was different. Still, by the time she had finished she was pretty sure the nicked artery was sealed and that the stitches would all hold. The man's ashy face was showing some color and he breathing steadily. She dressed the wound with alcohol and boiled dressings and cleaned the room up and started a hot soak for the man's shirt and jacket. Then filling a bucket with hot bleach and lye laden water she washed down the path the man took all the way into her home and then tossed the water out into the woods. She heard the dogs in the distance and the men...the soldiers.

She looked back at the cottage anxiously and knew they must be searching for the man she had just helped. She could call out to them. They would believe her...they weren't villagers...they weren't Braken

The man must have escaped for some reason. He had waved the funny looking metal stick at her, enough so that she realized it was probably some sort of weapon. But could she really judge him? Maybe he had good reason to run. And maybe he was misjudged. She certainly knew that she was, though you couldn't find one person to defend her. Most probably not. More then likely he was dangerous. So why help him?

She ran for the box of black pepper and a large can of coffee and began to spread it throughout the surrounding woods.

She laughed a little. Playing with fire....felt...good. She was helping him out of sheer bloody-mindedness! It's not like anyone had ever helped her before. She'd lived like a hunted animal for nine long years and the only thing left to fear was death and even the idea of that was becoming a promise of peace and not so frightening. And as little as she was made her feel alive. And she liked that feeling. It told her that Braken and the village hadn't broken her down completely yet. It told her that some of her Grandmother's stubborn fire still burned.

She thought of the man's stark and dark looks. Sympathy for the devil? She mused. One of these days that fire would consume her.

She ran back into her home and took the dress she wore and what was left of the apron and burned them in the stove. Then she put on a fresh green linen dress and started dinner, checking her patient occasionally.

She heard a soft moan and turned. The man wasn't conscious, but he did look feverish. She picked up a bowl of water and brought it to the bedside and sat down. Dipping a washcloth in the cool water she brushed the cloth over his skin. She took a closer look at him while she worked. He was an older gentleman. Maybe fifty. He wasn't very tall. 5'7 perhaps? Still...taller then her 5'3 height. Though older he might be, he wasn't soft or jowly like the old men in the village. He was well proportioned beneath the boxy jacket. A little barrel-chested but very nice to look at...exotic.

He was lean and his musculature was less aged then his face which was lined grimly, yet handsome in a dark, she felt silly thinking it, sinister way. Then she smiled to herself as she brushed the wet cloth over his frowning lips and over the goatee. He looked like Satan himself.

She felt the tears well in her eyes at the same time she laughed softly. So she was in league with the devil? It was about time.


Time had lost meaning to The Master....and that was saying a lot considering that Time was his business. When his nightmares didn't plague him he could barely concentrate on the healing meditations he had learned long ago due to the fire that burned through his mind and limbs. The pain could be more then distracting. Then in, the most heated moments of nightmare and throbbing hurt, he would feel his skin grow cool and his forehead would un-crease from the tense exertion he was using. As his fever lifted slowly he could catch a melodic humming. The words of lullabies that he didn't interrupt, but couldn't understand. For a while the words were just soothing sound and meaning washed over and away from him as unimportant. He sighed. He slept.

When he woke he did so in a start and he wished he hadn't because his head hurt from the sudden awakening. He heard singing, the melodic humming that had soothed his sleep and he settled back for a moment to think. He didn't remember much. He remembered coming to a cottage and a man and a woman being mocked...

He remembered...he was going to kill her.

He smelled something cooking and as horrid as most human food was, the smell was good and his stomach protested and emptiness that spoke of a day or so of unconsciousness. He tried to lift himself into a seated position and fell back with a grunt. He felt a wave of disgust crash through him. Weak as a kitten.

The singing voice quieted and a head looked around the door followed by a young woman of about 20 to 25. She smiled shyly.

"Are you hungry?" She asked simply. He scowled at her and she looked at him with concern. "Are you in pain? I can make some tea that will help it."

"Where am I?" he demanded imperiously.

She looked up from the platter she carried in. "Well Ladywell is about 2 miles down the road. You are in my house. You were hurt."

"You didn't call a "Doctor"?" he asked suspiciously. It would be like his nemesis to leap from behind the door to announce his defeat.

"No." She looked around. "You're safe. The dogs lost your scent before they entered the woods around here."

He stared at the girl as she set aside the platter and step closer to him sitting, uninvited, on the edge of his bed. She leaned forward and put an arm under his and around his back and he stiffened. "What are you doing?" he asked sharply.

She didn't seem to notice the sharpness in his tone. She hugged him to her as she pulled back and with a quick motion pulled some pillows behind him so that he was sitting. "I'm helping you to sit up...I don't want stew on my bed linen." She said calmly. "Don't worry. I am pretty sure the tracking dogs are confused. I hate fox hunters and used coffee grounds and pepper and bleach to seed the woods and clean the paths. They won't bother you. No one can see into this room and I have many locks and latches on the bedroom door. They can't find you here."

The Master did note all the locks and the boarded and shuttered windows. He noted that they seemed to have been like this original, prior to his arrival. She was hiding too.

He was more then impressed with her quick mind in turning aside the dogs. He was certainly glad that if he had to fall into some compassionate fool's was at least a fool with some healing skills and a quick wit...if not a feeling of self preservation. He smiled.

He would have asked more but the stew she placed under his nose was enticing and as he ate, not altogether bad. He ate as he watched her. She would glance his way occasionally but appeared embarrassed by her curiosity and would drop her gaze. "You know I'm wanted by the authorities then?"

She nodded as she sewed what appeared to be his jacket.

"I didn't think you'd want to go to hospital." She stood, setting aside her sewing and reached for his dishes.

For a moment the idea that a servant, properly under his control, might be beneficial. He grabbed her arm and she looked down at his hand then up into his eyes. Her eyes were large, soft, and gray as a rabbit's pelt. Soft. Her arm tested his grip, but she didn't panic. "Look into my eyes girl!" he ordered her.

He reached forward with his mind and felt her's. Or tried to. Her mind was quick and agile and seemed to skirt away from him before he could take hold of her will. Her mind was one of the few resistant to his persuasion. It had happened before...even a few humans were resistant to his hypnotism, though that was extremely rare. But, remarkably, this pretty young girl seemed to be one of that rare breed. The attempt to control her now doomed her in its failure. She was no good to him with her will unbound to his. She would have to die. For some reason that bothered him for a moment that he put down to his weakened condition. He picked up the knife that sat next to the butter.

"You have nice eyes." She said softly. Still looking into his. Her swanlike neck held her delicate, heart shaped face near his. Her demeanor was unafraid. Her pale throat bare to him. Like a lamb to the slaughter.

He was not all that concerned by human discomfort, He looked at killing as either a pleasure or a chore, depending on the victim or his mood, but he decided he would be as quick as he could be. She wouldn't feel much pain. His hand increased its grip on the knife handle.

"You also have two hearts. I think that's why you are healing faster."

The Master stopped his hand and stared. He placed the knife beside him under the covers and released his grip.

"What did you say?"

"I said you have two hearts." She continued picking up the platter. "I think the increased blood flow must take more blood to the injured area and speed the healing." She looked away embarrassed. "But I might be stupid. I'm no doctor....I'm sorry..."

The Master cocked his head and watched her go into the kitchen beyond to wash the dishes. "No my dear, you are correct. You don't sound terribly awed however. You would be surprised how many civilizations have hailed me as a God simply for having two pulmonary organs and a fast healing factor."

"Or maybe accused you of being a demon?" She asked quietly, not at all incredulous of his statement.

The Master chuckled. "Ohhhh yes. Many more have called me that."

The girl grinned slightly, but didn't look up from the soapy water.

While she washed up, he watched silently from the bed. She was a small thing. Petite. Not unattractive for a human female. In fact...not unattractive by any stretch. He had always been amazed by The Doctor's ability to surround himself with pretty little pet, after pretty little pet without seeming to notice them as anything other then the attractive decorations they seemed to be.

But he didn't think he'd seen many as attractive as his hostess was. She was, by all appearances, an innocent. Her clothing was oddly out of time. Where modern young ladies on this cheap hospice of a planet wore skirts so short that they left nothing to the imagination, this girl wore her skirt blow the knee and demurely. The color of the dress played up her porcelain skin and the roses in her cheeks. And by the tone in her arms and what he could see of her legs she was used to hard work.

She may not be under his control. But he decided that his commutation of her death sentence was simply a case of not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs just yet. As long as she was proving helpful....he'd allow her to live. Besides, he rationalized, she hadn't finished repairing his jacket and he really didn't feel up to hiding in a cottage with a rotting corpse and he was still to weak to hide it. He could wait. In the meanwhile he allowed his mind to puzzle over her and found himself a bit annoyed that he bothered to puzzle over a mere human.

He looked around and found the 'cozy' cottage resembling a prison cell the more he looked at it. Boarded windows...multitudes of locks....a pantry stocked with non-perishables. He had remembered chickens and a garden outside and he found himself pleased that she seemed to like her privacy.

"And your gentleman caller?" He asked with a small smile. "Does he visit you often?"

She dropped a dish and it shattered. Frozen like a deer cornered by hounds, she stared blankly for a moment at the shards at her feet her breathing suddenly short. The Master's smile left as he pondered the response to the question.

"He...He...He doesn't come by often..." she stammered awkwardly turning her head away. Her voice grew thin and choked. "Sometimes when he's drunk . Mostly he waits until I pass through the village to bother me."

Not that it mattered, but The Master needed to fit a name to this. The girl was disposable, but she had acquitted herself well enough to deserve the courtesy of using her name he decided. Part of his mind rebelled at the notion of becoming to acquainted with his victim. The snake doesn't make nice with a mouse after all....the hawk doesn't pet the rabbit before he snaps its spine with its talons. Still...he reasoned....what else did he have to do for now?

"What is your name girl?" His voice held just the edge of a demand. He grinned seductively.

The girl looked at him. Her eyes met his without the fear he had seen at the mention of the redheaded man. As though her life was so full of fear that she had none to spare in fearing him no matter how misguided such a mistake was.

"Miranda..." she said softly. "Miranda Ravenscroft."

The Master nodded. Satisfied that they would be left alone. He watched her pick up the shattered glass and resume cleaning, her face now clouded and fragile. They were all alone.


She found herself frightened and exhilarated at the same time. She had never invited a man into her house and she knew what would happen if Braken found out. She had no doubt he would make good his promise to kill her. So to help this man she knew she risked her life....and that recklessness scared her. Strangely she felt safe with this strange man. She knew...when he'd grabbed her arm...that he could have killed her. But it hadn't made her afraid. Braken was her only fear...her all-consuming fear. To die by any other means would have been a surprise, but not as frightening. She had seen the glint of the knife the man had secreted under the covers. She wasn't stupid. But she also knew that he had released her. He had had the opportunity and the means and still he had released her. He may be wanted, but she was positive it was not for being rash.

His dark gaze followed her as she worked. They didn't speak much. She would quiet her singing a few times when she caught herself, realizing that her guest might not appreciate the habit she had developed to fill the empty air of her cottage. But she noticed he'd never complained either.

He was a powerful presence...even in his injured state. His black hair and beard were shot through with silver streaks in a dramatic fashion. And though he had laughed at her suggestion of his devilish appearance she couldn't help but find herself drawn to the irony that she looked as though she was holding court with Satan himself...just as the village contended she did anyway.

She did not crowd him. She had a feeling he would resent feeling smothered. But as she stepped up to the bed holding her small tray of bandages, she could not identify the feelings she was feeling. She berated herself for the bats that suddenly filled her stomach as she sat on the edge of the bed.

"I...I need to change your dressings....?" She smiled shyly. "I don't know what to call you."

He scowled for a if her proximity was distasteful...but it seemed to pass and he smiled. "What would you name me child?"

She had removed his bandages and was astonished to see that the wound was healing very much faster now. She didn't stop herself in time and she found her fingers brushing the pinkish scar that was forming at the edges of his wound as it closed. She felt him draw back slightly at her touch...a shiver under his skin passed through her and she dropped her hand, embarrassed by her actions.

She closed her eyes for a moment then opened them slowly.

"I would call you Lucifer." She picked up the peroxide bottle and a cotton ball and began to clean the wound.

This produced a toothy grin that enhanced her naming. He nodded as she applied a new bandage and he settle back into the pillows that propped him up.

"You may call me that...." he allowed with a magnanimous humor to his answer. "Or you may call me...Master."


Peter Braken was feeling good. He was, without need to brag, the defacto ruler of Ladywell. Everyone knew it. Be he mayor or pub owner. They all deferred to him. It was his birthright. His Grandfather was Lord Braken. Legendary Chief Magistrate. Feared. Respected....but mostly feared. His father was a war hero...and though he lived on a meager allowance and held no degrees himself. He was Lord of the village...and he dared anyone to forget it.

Chief Constable Hager certainly didn't. He had long been in the pocket of his family....ever since his grandfather's day when the young constable proved useful at making indiscretions disappear. Grandfather had been wise to see that the dutiful officer received his well-deserved promotions. He waved the chief over to his usual spot in the Iron Horse Pub.

"Oy...Hager!" Braken became more common the more he drank, but didn't seem to notice and would have fought anyone who suggested it.

The Chief Constable sat down heavily beside him. Which would have been the case anyway since years of good pay and low expectations had made the, so-called, lawman fat and lazy. extra dense sheen of sweat was causing Hager to shine like glass under the low amber light of the smoky pub and it made Braken laugh.

"You look as if you've actually been working!" He smiled mockingly and took another drink.

The Chief nodded his jowly head and moaned. "Damn UNIT men and their scientific adviser...some doctor! Had me and my men out searching for some escaped criminal and they won't let up. I keep telling them that the man is miles away by now...or dead."

"Dead?" asked Braken, his interest peaked.

" of the UNIT fellas shot the man before the blighter killed him." Hager sighed. "No doctor or hospital has seen hide nor hair of I says he's probably cold as a mackerel. But that Doctor fellow says that can't be." He huffed. "Like he knows or something! Anyway...he's had us out searching for the last two days...for nothing! The dogs lost the scent at the edge of the woods." He laughed into his pint. "Maybe the Doctor will get on all fours and lead us to him....but I doubt it!"

Braken's face darkened a bit. "The woods?" he asked. "Whereabouts?"

"Near the Witch's house."

"A Witch!?" Guffawed The Master loudly slapping his knee. Miranda backed away, her face turning bright pink.

"Grandmum was the witch. Or at least they called her that. She had second sight and a big mouth. She made the mistake of informing people that Chief Magistrate Lord Braken's only son was going to die. Two days later Major Braken was playing with a Gerry grenade while drunk and blew himself and three fellow officers to kingdom come. Of course the Brakens tell everyone he died a war hero. After that Lord Braken led the condemnation of Grandmum. Had the vicar bar her from the church. Tried every legal trick to take her house and land. But he couldn't. When he came one day to try and buy it away from her she laughed in his face and told him he would choke on his words and die within the year. He died of cancer of the lungs within 6 mos. Choking and screaming he'd been cursed by Grandmum. My Mum went to London to get away from it all and met Dad. But things got worse."

"Your Grandmother had a venomous streak...I like her." The Master smiled, leaning back and chuckling. "What happened next? How did you become a witch?"

The Master was feeling stronger and even though the girl was working under her own free will, so long as her will benefited his, he would allow the situation to continue as it was. In fact, things were going so well it was almost as though he had planned it this way. He was surprisingly jovial need of entertainment. And since the place was devoid of anything really entertaining...he decided to press Miranda for her pathetic story. She had been nervous...unwilling to had taken most of the day to finally wheedle this much from her. He could see it cost her to tell it. It hurt her to tell it. This registered with The Master but his nature was one long accustomed to taking his entertainment at any cost. He watched the girl touch a picture on the mantle. A man and woman balancing a baby between them.

"My parents died in a fire when I was six. I was sent to live with Grandmum."

She sighed. "For years I watched Peter Braken, the Major's son, bully and goad Grandmum. Try to take her land." She smiled slightly. "But Grandmum was cagey and locked it all up tight with barristers and by paying all her taxes well into the future and setting up a fund that kept paying them." She closed her eyes and took a breath. "Nine years ago when I was 16, Grandmum was struck by a car while walking home. No witnesses. No one was ever prosecuted."

The Master smiled. "Braken."

Miranda nodded. "Peter Braken came by the cottage after the funeral. Offered...demanded to buy the land." Her voice was tense. Strained now. He had to strain to hear her and it irritated him.

"I refused to sell. I cursed him and his family, called him a murderer...I demanded he leave." Miranda turned and left slowly. Looking over her shoulder at The Master, her voice was suddenly hollow, her eyes dead except for the tears that stood in them. "He didn't leave."


The Doctor knew that The Master was alive, and still on Earth. Both were dangerous. Not that he would kill his foe, but he really couldn't say he wouldn't sigh with relief and go get tea if he had been found dead.

But he was still alive...The Doctor could feel it in his bones. And though he wasn't certain enough to pinpoint it's location, The Doctor knew that The Master's TARDIS was near. The search would continue the next day if he could route the fat policeman into doing a decent search of the woods.

He'd found coffee grounds and pepper in the foliage...not items The Master would have. Someone was aiding him, and the TimeLord could not imagine a human doing so that was not being controlled by him. Someone was in grave danger and The Doctor would do his best to help that unfortunate person before it was too late.


The Master's jovial mood had flown. The rest of the day had passed in uncomfortable silence. He was feeling resentful...suddenly very bitter. How dare she?! How dare she ruin his mood by allowing her tale to intrude on his thoughts. He had pressed her for the story, he admitted, but as mundane as it was he hated to think of any other concerns outside the ones he had for himself. And she'd ruined that. The strange, reclusive, intelligent (for a human) girl, was effecting his thoughts more then she should. Does a carpenter care about the feelings of a hammer? She was a tool...and when she broke or proved useless she would be cast aside and a new tool would be used. Isn't that the way it should be?

He had slept fitfully and when he awoke in the night he had decided to try his legs in the comfortable anonymity of the darkness. He was dizzy for a moment as he stood, but it went away. In the blackness of the shuttered cottage prison he rotated his arm slowly, testing the shoulder, removing the bandage. He touched the thin silvery scar that was left and shook his head.

She was no ball of fluff. Her assessment of his situation and her solution to his trackers was nothing less then ingenious, and her skills in healing were impressive for a child who was cloistered and taught by an embittered old woman. Had she the proper guidance she would have made a formidable surgeon perhaps. He growled to himself as he realized his thoughts had wandered to her again. She was a tool....a tool!

His Gallifreyan eyes adjusted quickly to the blackness and he could see far better then any human could even in the inkiest dark. Crossing the threshold of the doorway separating the kitchen from the bedroom he saw her and was taken aback for a moment. She sat at the small kitchen table with her head resting pillowed on her arms. Her face relaxed in sleep, messy strands of black silken hair falling in front of her closed eyes like a widow's veil. He simply stared at her. He had certainly upset her routines...he knew that. It couldn't be help if she was to serve him. So why did he suddenly feel discomfort to realize that while he recuperated in her bed, she had slept like this for the last four nights? Did a castle lord ever think of scullery maids sleeping in the ashes? His hand balled in a fist. What was happening?!

He was nearly ready to leave. He could kill her now. Be done with it. No more thoughts that made him angry...made him restless. He could reach out his hand now and snap her slender neck like a twig. She would never wake. He would be doing her a favor. He looked around. Yes...a favor. No more bullies. No more fear.

Despite her knowledge that he was wanted...hunted...she had never shown any fear of him. He looked around again. Maybe she had an empathy for that? Feeling hunted. Maybe that was the dynamic that was lacking. Her fear of him. He didn't deal with people unless they were under his complete will from either hypnosis or out of abject fear. He knew immediately that Braken controlled her with fear. She had been taught to fear him from her experience with him. He understood the feeling of power that gave him. Without fear, he was powerless with her and that rankled him bitterly.

In her sleep she whimpered, bringing him out of his thoughts. Her eyes closed tight against her nightmare, her tears making a mockery of all he had designed himself to be...had prided himself on being. The fact was he laughed at the amateur, Braken. He had himself killed worlds...he could recount centuries of death at his hands. What did Braken have? The sloppy murder of an old woman and the rape and bullying of a child? The Master could remember whole populations bowing at his feet, of delight in fear and torture. His hand reached out and touched the curve of her throat. He could feel her single pulmonary pulse...could see it in the dark. He was evil and he knew it and relished it. He was every bit the devil humans believed in. It would be quick.


She screamed, her head snapping upward into black air. The touch she felt retreated and she fell backwards scrambling across the floor. He was kill her...she had seen it in the dream. She would die by his hands and she was terrified. Braken!

"Stay away from me!" she cried out. "Please Braken...go away!!" She shook in the dark. Maybe he had seen her taking care of Lucifer. He was making good his threats at last. Her heartbeat so loud she could hear it in the dark. He'd find her. Hands grabbed her in the dark and lifted her to her feet. She was nearly paralyzed with terror now.

"It's me Miranda." The voice was strong, rich, not the course guttural voice of Peter Braken. It took her a moment to register the voice in her terror and sleep fogged mind.

"Lucifer?" she whispered quietly in case Braken should hear her.


She felt faint and though he tried to stand her upright her legs buckled. She heard him grunt as her weight put strain on his injured shoulder, but he didn't let her fall. She felt him in the blackness, his small, long fingered hands were strong and he held her at arms length until she stood without falling. In the dark she jumped as a match flared to life and a lamp on the table was lit by her guest. He stood, dour and grave. His dark gimlet eyes burned in the shadows of the amber light as he looked down on her. Unlike the Brakens he DID look the part of the autocratic lord. Not for the first time she found herself looking at him with a feeling she almost couldn't recognize because she'd never felt it before. A pain that ached inside her heart...burned in her stomach...made her weak with its intensity. She had lived most of her life in fear, so much fear that she sometimes wished she would die just to end it all. As she stared into Lucifer's eyes she suddenly knew she did want to live. She took a deep breath and threw her arms around him and laid her head on his chest and sobbed.

"I was so scared." She told him. "I was...but I'm not anymore." She listened to the steady, powerful dual beats of his hearts and she wanted to listen to them forever.

He didn't return the embrace...his head moved from side to side as if to avoid her hair and she heard him growl. She pulled back. "I'm sorry."

His eyes were like black fire. "Do you fear me child?" His voice was hard and brittle. He left her standing and walked around her appraisingly. She felt his gaze on her skin. "You're shaking." He commented casually.

"It's not fear...I am tired...and....and I'm just tired." She stammered.

He leaned in and she could feel his breath behind her left ear. "But you're not afraid."

She shook her head.

"You should be."


He had been a split second from doing it. From killing her. Then she had cried out and scrambled away from him like he remembered others doing in the centuries. But this was different. She was in terror of another and when he'd reached her she had relaxed in his arms like he was a hero. He was no hero. Heroes were selfless, heroes were often kind....heroes gave hope...heroes were weak. When heroes failed they felt the pain of others. The strong felt for themselves.

He hadn't killed her. What did that make him? Not a hero, and certainly not strong. When she'd embraced him he felt a flaring inside him almost a rage. Now he circled her like a hawk. One excuse was all he wanted. One spark of fear. One moment of power given to him and he could do it...he knew he could be free.

"Do you know why I'm wanted?" He whispered as he circled.

She shook her head.

"I murdered a guard....and I liked it." He chuckled. "You should have seen it...the scream...the bones cracking. Wonderful."

Her eyes widened.

"I've killed many, many times...on many different worlds...over centuries."

To her credit she never bothered questioning the fantastic nature of that statement.

"Does that surprise you Miranda?"

He was surprised himself when she shook her head. "No...I don't think it does." her voice was quiet.

"But you do not fear me?"

She looked down at her feet and then up again as he stood in front of her, his beard pointing at her nose as he looked down on her.

"No." she whispered.

He felt the burning rise in him. "You trust me?"

She nodded.

He laughed in her face. "You named me Lucifer girl! You believe "The Father of Lies"?"

"You've never lied to me." She answered. "You've never treated me stupid, or disbelieved me, or wronged me. You are the only person I think I've ever trusted before."

She tilted her head up and The Master was intrigued by the almost defiant look in her gray eyes...the challenge. The invitation.

Her proximity, the closeness of her body to his was making rational thought difficult.

How long had it been? Not in three decades maybe more. He had lived over 900 years, he was no monk. Even the almost monastic Doctor, who would never consider a dalliance with one of his pets, could claim centuries more experience then any human male. The Master could, himself, boast much more in the arena of such conquests.

He could recall invitations...mostly from fellow powerbrokers as himself. Women wishing to gain an edge. Often the offers were to save a loved one's life...and there were more then his fair share of woman taken without invitation. Much as the oafish Braken did. But he could not remember any woman looking at him with such open invitation without any expectation for reward or advancement. Someone who simply wanted....him.

The rage welled, he grabbed her roughly in his arms and drew her to his chest. The kiss was savage, threatening to consume them both. The hands that could snap her neck now caressed her throat.

She was fumbling, an innocent, despite her experience with Braken, and though she burned with the same need as his did, she hesitated...she was finally showing fear. The Master found himself comforting her fear of their touches....their explorations...remembering her pain. The Master found a new power in all of this blossoming inside him. The power that comes from comfort, from mentoring, from teaching. He restrained his urges with some difficulty, but the restraint was rewarded with a growing confidence in Miranda, as she learned, surprisingly from him, that such contact didn't have to be uncomfortable....there didn't have to be fear or pain. And while his mind roiled with the lesson that he didn't have to cause fear or pain, he had no idea what the ramifications of such a lesson would be. For now he carried Miranda back to her bed... their bed.


Braken watched the cottage. The witch's scream. The dim light that had burned brightly through tightly shuttered windows....muffled voices....shadows that past by the covering slats as they drifted to the back room...the bedroom...the extinguished light.

He took a long drag on his fag and stomped it under his foot. The knife in his belt heated by his fury.

The stupid little bint was deliberately disobeying him. She had her orders. Since she was too stubborn to get out of Ladywell he had made it clear to her that he was her first and her last. It was simple. So much as a smile to a man and he'd punish her. If he found she'd ever been with another man he had threatened death. And he kept his word. Not that he didn't expect this all to end in her dying some day. He'd already decided years before that even if she left he would have killed her complete the end the curse....and just because he wanted to make sure she suffered. But the last 9 years had been a diversion for him. The stalking, the beatings...the annual...reminder of her first time. He was furious that she was making him end the fun.

Not now though. Not yet. He wasn't alone in his suspicions...that UNIT fellow...The Doctor had been seen skulking around the outskirts of the property by Hager. No. not yet. Besides he would need a scapegoat, and who better then an escaped murderer that the slut was hiding. It would serve her right and he wouldn't have to explain a thing to Hager afterwards. Not like he had to after the bitch told on him when he'd done her the first time. No...this would be scott-free.


She woke to find Lucifer watching her as she lay in the crook of his arm. She wondered if he spent most of his time looking so dour. His smiles were rare but very attractive...they sent chills through her. And despite what he'd told her last night...the confession he'd made without any remorse or seeking of absolution. She felt more safe in his arms then if she were far from Ladywell, hidden in the safest vault at the end of the world. She didn't speak and neither did he for a long time. Maybe he was as afraid as she was that it had all been a dream and they might wake from it if disturbed.

She was almost embarrassed by her wantonness of the previous night. It was her desire from almost the very first day while she tended his wound...but she never would have acted on it in a million years for many reasons. Threats. Fear of being touched. Fear of being rejected. But never any fear of him...never of him. And now she looked in those black eyes, those wise, ancient eyes and she wasn't afraid of anything now.

She wasn't living in a dream. She'd lived a stark and dreary half-life so long that she wasn't imagining he would stay with her or that she could follow him when he finally fled. But for the moment she was actually happy. And she wasn't going to throw that gift away.

As she thought this Lucifer rolled up and propped himself on an elbow. He placed his other hand to her cheek softly.

"I can't stay."

And though she knew the truth of it, hearing it still stabbed her in the heart. She'd hoped for just a little more time.

"I know." she answered calmly, her voice just breaking by a fraction, but he noticed.

He looked uncomfortable. "I want" He cleared his throat. "Thank you for helping me."

Somehow she knew that this gratitude was hard for him to express. It made the effort an honor somehow.

"You're welcome." She said closing her eyes briefly. Opening them she looked him in the eye. "You're not human."

He smiled. "No. Far from human."

She took in the smile and the thrill it gave her. "You spoke of many worlds hailing you as a god or a devil. I thought you might be delirious at first. But maybe I knew when I first saw you." She looked down brushing his chest with her hand. "Can you tell me what you are?"

"My world despises me as much as this world does so the name of the planet isn't important. What I am is a TimeLord." He announced this with pomp and pride. This was obviously a title that was earned as much as hereditary.

"TimeLord?" she whispered to herself letting it roll through her mind majestically and he must have recognized the awe in her tone because he puffed up a bit with the ego involved.

"Why are you here?" She asked and he looked up and then down as though searching for the answer on the ceiling at first.

" a long and depressing story, my dear." He chuckled. "The result is, I'm being pursued by a fellow TimeLord named The Doctor who doesn't hold with my.....methods." He shook his head. "I must retrieve my craft and leave."

"Where is your craft?" she said hopefully. "Maybe I can help?"

He shook his head. "It's in the village. I can find it." It was goodbye. And she knew it and didn't fight it.

She smiled sadly. "I understand."

He looked at her oddly. Part sadness...part wonder. "I think you might....more's the pity for that understanding.."

She felt the tears well up in her eyes. "Shhhhh..." She leaned in and kissed him gently. "Don't leave yet. Please...just a little while longer."

He didn't speak. No words were needed for most of the day.


The Doctor knew it before the door opened. He knew it as if The Master was linked to him telepathically. Which, in a way, he was. Though in a way not even The Doctor could truly describe. He thought he was prepared for anything.

The insufferable Chief Constable Hager stood beside him. He had gone into florid detail about the wickedness of the woman who lived in this far-flung cottage. Indeed. The Doctor was prepared for anything...except for her.

The child who greeted him at the door wore a pink dress, long out of date and patched in places. Long black hair escaped the quick knot she wore it in at the base of her slender neck. Her large eyes craned high to look into his as she was just a tiny thing. Smaller even the Jo. She smiled shyly and squinted at the light that poured over The Doctor's shoulder. She was....lovely.

The Doctor stood straighter and smiled. "Miss Ravenscroft?"

"Yes?" She answered in almost a whisper. "Can I help you?"

The Doctor bowed slightly and prepared to introduce himself but was interrupted by Chief Hager.

"Right Girl!" He huffed. "You can stand out of our way and let us search your place, is what you can do." He attempted to push his bulk forward .

"Constable!" Shouted The Doctor with annoyance. But it did no good. What did stop the Constable however was a scowl from the girl who put herself in his path until his bulk struck her.

"You!" She said. "Are not invited."

The Constable made a choking sound. "I'll have none of your cheek girl...or I'll put you in a cell fast as you can say "scone"!"

"I think not!" said the girl with a touch of haughtiness. "Unless you can produce due cause, a warrant, then I don't have to let you anywhere near my property!"

"You won't get anything from her. The stories I could tell....Lord Braken could tell you all about her lying ways..."

The girl looked at him with blistering contempt. For some reason Hager stepped back under this though he'd not expected her to behave in the manner she was behaving.

"And any story you or that murderer would tell would be just that....stories." Her voice was ice. The Doctor was alarmed by the use of the word "murderer" but the dynamics of this exchange would have to be explored later...there was no time.

The Doctor smiled broadly. "May I speak with you Miss? Inside?"

The girl looked at him for a moment. Something passed in her expression...worry maybe. Then it was gone, replaced by a naturally sweet smile and manner.

She nodded. "Since you've been so polite. Yes Doctor...come in." She looked toward the door. "But he stays out."

"Absolutely, my dear."

As the door shut behind them she offered him a seat and he accepted. She sat opposite him and looked at him curiously.

He immediately pulled his pocket watch out and hung it before her eyes. "Please watch the watch, Miss."

She did so...and continued to do no effect.

She wasn't being controlled through hypnosis. The Doctor was almost stunned. He looked at her demeanor and couldn't decipher any duress.

"Where is The Master, Miss Ravenscroft?" He finally asked outright.

"Who?" She looked at him with a slightly more contrived innocence.

The Doctor had no time for this nonsense. He leaned forward and placed his hands on her forearms.

"Please...Miranda....tell me. I will protect you."

"I don't need yours, or Chief Hager's protection." Her voice oozed venom.

"If I came back without Hager? Would you talk to me?" He pleaded.

"With or without Hager, Doctor, I don't need your protection."

The Doctor stood. " are playing a dangerous game if you think that you can trust anything The Master tells you. Please reconsider."

"Thank you for your concern Doctor, But I shall be just fine." She smiled and did seem genuine in her appreciation over his hopes for her safety.

After leaving the house The Doctor was deep in thought...the seething Hager waddling beside him.

He was speaking out loud...not to Hager who mistook his talking as conversation.

"Very interesting."

"She's seen him?" Hager hissed.

The Doctor picked up his pace down the road. He shook his head impatiently. "She says no. I never got a chance to introduce myself...but she addressed me thrice by my moniker."

He quickened his pace leaving Hager behind as he stopped to speak to a sour looking red-haired man who was passing them on their way into Ladywell.


The Master burst from the other room and picked her up and kissed her as if he had done it all his life.

"You were brilliant, my girl!" He settled her on the ground reluctantly. She had handled The Doctor and the Chief with poise and fire. Indeed The Master had worried when she actually invited his nemesis in. But he applauded the subtlety of it later.

No doubt his friend had his suspicions...of course he did. But Miranda had bought him time.

He was dressed fully in his shirt and black jacket. If it weren't for the severity of his looks he might be mistaken for a priest. He looked at her with concern spreading on his face. She was smiling, but she looked pale under it and her chin trembled.

He scowled and drew her next to him. "You should leave here now." He looked around. "This place is too small for you."

She nodded. But he could see the light fleeing from her eyes as she spoke. "I will...I promise."

He frowned deeply and held her at arm's length. " won't. You are saying that to please me."

She looked ready to protest, but he held his gloved hand up.

He shook his head. "You have nowhere to go and this village will make your life hell for helping me."

She looked down and said nothing.

"You will come with me then." It wasn't a question. It came out in a huffing rush as though he had no idea it was going to come out. He blinked slowly and looked down into her eyes, as the realization of what he proposed sank in to both of them.

She looked ready to burst with joy and The Master found himself smiling quite shamelessly...inanely...suddenly as impetuous and spontaneous as a schoolboy. He would take her along. The Doctor had his companions. Why should he deny himself this pleasure? Yes...and sometime in the future, if he grew tired of her, he could leave from harm.

She was kissing him somewhere in this thought for when he opened his eyes he could see her eyes inches from his and tears of joy standing in them and wondered at the idea that he could ever

"I will travel to the village...go around and through the woods. Not the village road." He detailed the plan. "Be ready. I will be back with the TARDIS before dawn. Don't pack much...I will take care of all your needs." He smiled and tipped her chin up and kissed her again. "I will take care of you Miranda...I promise."

Then into the sunset he moved, catlike, into the woods behind the cottage and lost sight of her when he looked back.


Braken had seen the kiss. She had been keeping that criminal hidden! The slut! The dead slut! While she waved to the bastard behind the small house Braken slipped in the front door of the cottage. He waited for her in the bedroom...behind the door.

The witch looked so vibrant. So unlike the corpse he screwed each year to remind her who was boss. Her hair had come undone from it's bun and hung down her back like a black banner waving as she ran into the bedroom and going through drawers.

"You're not leaving without a goodbye kiss are you witch?" Braken stepped out from behind the door and closed it locking the many locks. Turning toward the shocked Miranda he lifted the long knife he carried and allowed the lamplight to play off the blade as he advanced on her.

"I'm leaving Braken...the house is yours. the land...everything." Her voice was strong. Annoyingly so. "Take it and get out. Get out have what you want!"

He backed her into the wall. "I've changed my mind about what I want slut." He began cutting the buttons off her dress, admiring how her chest heaved with each flick of the knife, until he reached up and tore the dress open and slammed her head against the wall.

She looked up at him, dazed. "I told you I would be your first....and your last."

Her scream was muffled by his mouth.


The Doctor walked slowly toward The Master where he stood unlocking the door to his TARDIS, which, as it turned out, was disguised as the War Monument in the center roundabout of the village square. The street was deserted. The time had just struck 9 pm. The Master raised his hands in mock resignation.

"My dear friend!" He smiled menacingly. "And here I am without a weapon to greet you with properly."

The Doctor looked sourly at him. "Like you greeted the guard you killed?"

The Master bowed. "My friend...we play this out again and again. You may keep me for a time but I will always release myself and we will always meet again."

The Doctor looked at him with tired suspicion and nodded.

"What if I offer you a respite from that?" The Master asked.

The Doctor adjusted the collar of his tweed cape and flicked away some lint. But he didn't answer.

The Master continued. "I wish to leave here and never return to your pet planet or to Gallifrey."

The Doctor cocked a white brow at him and made a harrumphing sound.

"And why should I believe you?"

"You have no reason to my dear friend...none whatsoever." The Master grew suddenly solemn. "But you did meet her."

"THE GIRL!!?" exclaimed the Doctor. He advanced on The Master not quite sure what he wanted to do to him. "What is your game? What does it have to do with the girl? Are you holding her hostage?"

To The Doctor's surprise The Master seemed very insulted by the suggestion...genuinely hurt.

"The girl is no hostage!" He countered strongly. "She is!"

Now the Doctor stood gaping at his fellow Gallifreyan as if frogs were suddenly coming out his nose.

"Does she know that?" He laughed.

The Master drew himself up. "She is waiting for me right now."

"What can you teach that child?" The Doctor demanded. "In what ways will you corrupt her? In what ways have you already?" The Doctor had almost no basis of comparison for this situation. The Master was his opposite in every way. Good to gray areas with him.

As if The Master had read his thoughts...and its possible he could have...he looked gravely at his dearest enemy. "In over 700 yrs of battle and conflict, have you ever known me to share my TARDIS with anyone. To invite anyone into our TimeLord sanctuary?" The Master took on an expression...brief, but pleading for understanding. "Have you ever known me to care about anyone?"

The Doctor was silent. He knew the answer was no. And The Master knew he knew.

"Then the better question, old friend, is...after just five what ways has she corrupted, changed, me?"

The Doctor stepped back in surprise. "You know these May-December romances never work." He quipped sarcastically. How he wanted to believe the germ of hope that The Master's words spread into him. He wanted to believe that something as simple as a connection to anyone besides himself may actually change this wretched villain. But how could he allow himself to trust? He couldn't keep the poisonous skepticism from his voice.

The Master smiled. "Or perhaps...they've just never worked for you, old man. How many pretty girls and boys have you chosen as companions? And none...ever...struck your fancy?"

The Doctor opened his mouth in shock and closed it tight glaring at The Master with contempt.

"Don't bother denying it." The Master declared. "I believe you traveled with your own granddaughter for a time. Where is your bride Doctor? Where is your child Doctor? You loved. But what happened? Did she leave you or did you get her killed?" The Master was driving his point like a truck driven by a suicide bomber. "I am your peer Doctor. Not your child. You have had centuries of companions...paramours. Do not think to counsel me on that arena when you have yet to make a success of it yourself!" The Master's look of contempt was withering. "You are no model to follow."

The Doctor blinked and shook his head. "You're serious...aren't you?" He was incredulous. "You can't be but you are! Do you think she has any comprehension how dangerous you are...any idea how dangerous traveling with you could be?"

"I told her all." He said quietly. "And she still helped me." He stopped and waved a hand in the air as though unable to find words to express what he was feeling so deeply. "She has asked for nothing...I have promised her nothing...nothing other then to take care of her. To protect her."

"Protect her!?" The Doctor shouted. "From whom? Yourself?"

"From this Village, for one!" The Master countered. He advanced on the Doctor with anger in his voice. "You accuse me, and rightly so, of evil deeds...but have aligned yourself with evil this time...YOU...not I!"

The Doctor felt an uncomfortable pricking at the base of his skull...he felt he was missing something he should be remembering...something he meant to do but didn't. "I don't understand." He said with misgiving.

"Your protection you offered her. PROTECTION! And there stood your fat constable...Hager."

The Master looked smug...self righteous...The Doctor began to fear he had miscalculated somewhere.

"Hager is a bought man...and the one who bought him is Lord Braken." The Master jabbed a finger at his nemesis. "The same Braken who has systematically raped and tormented that girl for nine years! And the same Hager that turned a blind eye to the assaults and a deaf ear to nine years of pleading!! Doctor...I have spent less time in prisons then this girl has spent locked in that cottage hiding from Braken and Hager." He turned and continued to unlock the door. "Her life will be in extreme danger from Braken if he finds out I've been with her."

The Doctor took in a painful and full of revelation. He remembered the name Braken...remembered the man in passing...IN PASSING!

"You said she would be in danger?" His tone alarmed The Master. He turned quickly.

"Yes. why?"

The Doctor shouted. "Quick...get us to her then ...we have no time to waste!" He quickly followed The Master into his TARDIS. "Hager and I passed Braken walking up the Woodland road in the direction of Miss Ravenscroft's cottage at sunset."

As the familiar whine of the TARDIS kicked into life and they readied her for flight the only word The Doctor heard The Master speak was a heartbreakingly low and desperate.


The Master was overwhelmed by a feeling of dread. He worked the controls carefully and landed in the garden of the cottage with The Doctor, inexplicably in tow. He ran from the TARDIS and burst through the door of the small house with the other TimeLord taking long strides behind him.

"Miranda!" He called. "Miranda!" He desperately hoped to see her fly into the kitchen to greet him with soft kisses and warm hands. But all was silent.

He stood in front of the door to the bedroom, which was cracked slightly. He lifted his hand numbly, noticing it shook as he did so. He rested it against the smooth wood and pushed slowly.

The tableau unfolded in sprays of red.

The Doctor gasped in horror as he came to a stop behind The Master.

For a moment all he could do was stare at the blood. It wasn't as if he was unfamiliar with the sight. He could recall maybe a dozen scenes on different worlds where he had been the cause of them. But this took on a more shocking effect. Like the desecration of the most holy of temples, this place they had shared, the bed spattered with spray. It was numbing.

So numbing that he almost didn't hear the faintest of moans. The Doctor called his attention to it with a sharp rap on the shoulder from behind. A long rawboned hand pointed past him.

"There! Behind the bed!"

The Master sprang forward and lifted the edge of the bed and threw it to the side the force of the act cracking the plaster down the blood stained wall.

She lay on her belly her hair fanned out around her like Medusa's...matted coils of black and red glistening. The Master pulled his gloves off with his teeth and he dropped to his knees beside her, gently turning her over to rest in his lap. He brushed the wet hair from her face and was startled to hear her draw a rattling breath and choke on the pain that lanced through her with the effort. Her right arm was broken. Snapped clean between the hand and elbow and both hands where stabbed and slashed in classic defensive patterns. Her thumb on her left hand dangled...nearly severed.

Slashes and deep gouging stab wounds punctuated her chest and stomach and back. She was so pale below the red stains that The Master took a shocked pride that she had managed to hold on for as long as it appeared she had. But as he looked up into the eyes of his old enemy and hoped for his pronouncement that all would be well. All he saw was a sad, sorrowful shaking of The Doctor's white haired mane.

No last minute heroic rescue...that was not in the cards for her...for him.

He touched her cheek and saw her eyelids flutter open. Her soft gray eyes caught his and she smiled.

"I'm sorry." She whispered softly.

The Master shook his head. "For what my dear?"

"I can't stay with you...I want to...but I can't." Her eyes brimmed with tears. "I fought him. I fought so hard." She smiled proudly. "I never have before."

The Master smiled back. "I bet you surprised him."

She nodded and a cough brought up blood to tinge her pale lips.

"I wasn't afraid of him though." She was so calm it rattled The Master. He didn't know a human could face death this way. As much as Braken tried to debase her she still carried a dignity that couldn't be touched.

"I know you weren't afraid. You were angry." His voice hardened. "I'm angry."

She nodded, her eyes alight with a fire he knew she kept deep inside. Kept where he found her passion on the first time they shared their bed. She smiled broadly. "Do you know what I say Lucifer my love?"

He felt his chest tighten at the word "love". An ache grew inside him he didn't know could exist...and a rage.His voice pitched lower. "What my dearest?"

Her smile became radiant, Her eyes held purpose. She was ablaze. "I say...Devil Take Him!"

And he leaned down and kissed her gently as she sank away from him, her lips cooling before her words.

He lifted his head and looked down at her slack face.

He ran his tongue over his lips, tasting the request sealed in her blood and smiled. "Yes, Miranda, I think the Devil will."

He lifted Miranda in his arms a little surprised at how much heavier she seemed then when she lived. The Doctor blocked him as he attempted to leave.

"I'll take her." The Doctor offered. "I'll see that she's buried."

The Master recoiled. "Stand aside Doctor. This planet had grown too small for this didn't see the treasure it had in her and rejected her. I won't have her resting in its prison dirt for these apes to spit on. I promised to take care of her...and I will."

The Doctor put an unwanted hand on the Master's shoulder and he felt ice crawl through him as his old enemy tried to spout his pernicious platitudes. "Does that promise include seeking vengeance?"

The Master felt his heart constrict painfully.

"Oh yes...old chap...oh yes." He pushed past the startled Doctor. He spoke over his shoulder without turning. "But, don't worry, there is plenty of vengeance to go around." He laughed. "For this ungrateful, hateful rock you like so much. And for you, Doctor. Or do you forget? You said you would protect her. Even as you led one of her tormenters to her door. You said you would protect her!" He spat bitterly.

He looked back and The Doctor looked at him helplessly. Shamed. Weak. A hero.

"But, for now, justice will be better served...once I have found Braken!" He challenged. "Of course you can try to stop me from harming him." He glanced down at the blood that still dripped wetly from Miranda's body to pool at his feet. "If you truly believe that he would receive the justice he deserves from a court in this land."

He turned and strode to his TARDIS with his burden.

The Doctor did not try to stop him.


Inside the TARDIS he stopped for a moment and bowed his head. No one alive had ever seen him weep. And ironically he knew this was still true. But he hoped, for the first time in his atheistic life, that she could see...somehow...


Braken drank his pint at the bar. He'd bought a round for his mates and had given them smug looks when asked what he was celebrating. His clothes were clean. his hair wet from the shower he'd taken. The bite marks and scratches were mostly covered by the sleeves of his jumper all except for the lines that crossed his face and side of his nose. Those, he said, were from being attacked by his mother's old cat.

The exhilaration...the rush he'd felt was intense. He had felt the same rush when he'd struck the old lady in his car, to a lesser extent. It was greater then any of the times he'd taken her, or beaten her. There were only a few surprises and disappointments.

The biggest surprise and disappointment was the way she fought him. Angrily...without fear...viciously. It would have been much more enjoyable to have her begging...sobbing....pliable as he'd done his work on her. Instead she'd scratched and bitten and cursed and struck out again and again. He couldn't slash her without her coming up again to bite him or curse him. Spraying him until he was covered in her hot red blood. When she finally laid still he was so exhausted he didn't think he could make it back to the manor undetected. He was lucky the staff had gone home earlier to take their Sunday with their families. He'd stumbled inside and put the bloodied clothes in the furnace and stood in the shower and re-lived her final moments with great satisfaction as her blood and his release circled the drain.

Now it was time to celebrate...and to plan.

Yes...the feeling, he decided, was too good not to live again and again.

He looked around at the women in the pub. Too good.

Then the pub erupted in screams including his own. A column of fire of biblical purportions appeared in the center of the room. Those nearest the door made a mad scramble for it, but the flames, frightening and orange red pushed back anyone else who dared to try escape.

Braken was cut off completely as he pushed men and women both aside to save himself.

After the initial shock the patrons were staring in a stunned silence when the flames suddenly parted and a figure stepped out of the holocaust. Women screamed and some fainted. A few of the drunks fell on their knees and began to wail and pray. Braken stared numbly...stupidly.

The figure that emerged surveyed the room calmly. Dressed in black from head to toe his saturnine features causing still more women to faint. Braken stood...something familiar....

Then he saw the blood. The stranger's jacket wasn't just black. Some of the blackness was darker in places and glistened slightly in the light of the column of fire which all noticed, didn't burn the man standing in it's midst. The stranger smiled and raised his hand and it halted all sound in the room. Everyone stared at the hand covered in blood.

Then Braken knew. The escaped man. The man the witch had been kissing. But he wasn't the only man to recognize the wanted felon. Hager, who had been at a table with his fat wife jumped to his feet and waddled forward. "OY! You! You're the one the UNIT men want!"

The man smiled broadly. "And you, my rotund friend, are one of the criminals I want."

The black eyes reflected hellfire as the stranger lifted his other bloody hand, which held a shining metal tube. "May I extend my thanks to you, chief constable, from the Witch of Ladywell."

Hager grew wide-eyed. "What's this cheek!?"

A beam of red light stabbed out from the tube's hollow end and Hager screamed. The flesh around him seemed to boil down...bubbling and reducing quickly while bones began to snap like crackers and punch through the shrinking leather in bloody gashes while Hager's screams became the torturous squeal of a strangled kitten and a mangled doll of a man lay where the chief constable had stood a moment before.

The building erupted again in panicked screaming as the man took slow aim at a few of the loudest screamers, for seemingly the fun of it. By the time the remainder of pub-crawlers realized that silence was keeping them alive there was already eight broken dolls lying in mangled poses at their feet.

The sanguinary man scanned the room and Braken tried to duck behind a table but it was too late. There was a deep chuckle and the free hand pointed toward him.

"You!" He beamed, his eyes seeming to create their own inferno and not just reflecting the flames around him now. "You! Come Here!"

Braken looked around hoping the finger pointing at him was a mistake. He knew it wasn't...and he knew why the man was pointing him out. Miranda...the witch. He had used that title to describe her as his father and grandfather had used it to describe her grandmother. Without any serious belief that she really was a witch. But now Braken wasn't so sure. This hell wasn't conjured by a mere girl. He backed away shaking his head. The creature laughed. He addressed the room.

"Who ever delivers that sniveling imbecile to his knees at my feet, I will allow to live!"

In an almost choreographed unison all his mates and the women of the pub grabbed him by his arms or legs or hair of neck and hefted him upward as he screamed, until they brought him crashing to his knees so hard he felt his right kneecap shatter. He fell on his side and held his leg to his chest looking up at the stranger as his friends receded to the farthest walls they could. He whimpered pathetically.


The Master lowered himself onto one knee and examined the quivering mess at his feet and chuckled sourly.

"This wasn't how you expected things to turn out...was it?" He asked in a conversational tone. "Now you imagine me to be some sort of demon...don't you?"

Braken looked at him with eyes that reminded the Master of a frightened horse's.

He reached out his hand and placed it on Braken's head relishing the flinching motion the animal made. As Miranda's blood attached itself to his head marking him like a brand The Master cooed reassuringly.

" friend. Don't fret so." His voice was low...only Braken and he were in the room for all he cared or noticed.

"I understand." The Master nodded. Braken focused on his words, clearly confused.

" do?" He squeaked.

The Master chuckled so softly. "Oh yes. The feeling you get when your victim screams. The glazed look of fear in their eyes," He paused and looked at him closely. "Much like yours right now. OH YES! The culmination...the halting, strangled breaths as their life drains away. Delicious....powerful. Yes, I understand."

The exultation in his voice was almost enough to seduce the pathetic human. Despite his great fear he sat up slightly. "Yes...and wanting to do it again. Do you want to do it again too? After?"

The Master smiled. "Indeed I do. But do you know why we need it over and over?"

Braken shook his head. He was enthralled.

The Master whispered. "Because , my friend, death robs us of our sport." He grinned as he shared this. Braken nodded, hanging on his words. "Imagine if we could make our victims suffer mortally, terminally, excruciating agonies...but never allow them the release of death. Imagine keeping them suspended that way for years, just for our amusement?"

Braken nodded and smiled idiotically.

The Master stood over him slowly and his face transformed. He glared at Braken. "I'm glad you agree with me." He purred. "Because I have a new toy I want to play with....and I can't think of anyone I'd rather play with...then you!"

With a flick of his wrist a metal box appeared in his hand and an energy field lanced forward and seized Braken in a stiffening, shocking embrace, lifting the man up with a yelp. The man's eyes flooded again with terror as The Master led the trapped rat through the door of the TARDIS.

"Don't worry Braken...I won't kill you." The Master chortled low. "I promise."


If he had a name, he no longer remembered it. Speech wasn't required, so he didn't bother. Though there were memories of speaking...speaking to the other one.

Time was unimportant, so was food, or drink...though he could remember drinking if he tried hard. But trying made things worse.

He couldn't remember the look of any other place outside this room, though he knew other places existed. And he couldn't remember ever being anyplace outside the Neural Web One word was ever present when he thought about a name that this place needed.


It was a simple word and it meant pain...pure and simple...pain. No food, no drink, no need. The web that suspended him in Hell fed, hydrated and recycled waste. The black threads, which held him taut, threaded through his entire nervous system alternated and undulated in a way that always kept the pain fresh and raw. As new as the first moment he arrived in Hell. The web even healed while it hurt so that he never became numb to the agony he felt.

He knew he was in Hell because he deserved punishment...but he couldn't remember why. He thought it had something to do with the other one but he didn't bother trying to ask anymore. His only release was the occasional periods of unconsciousness, which were enforced in Hell. No dreams, no nightmares, just blessed blackness for a short time. Then with a shattering shrieking of nerves and bone he would be awake again and still in Hell.

But the Blackness was coming...he sighed. Temporary relief...but all he looked forward to.


The Master walked into the innermost sanctum of the TARDIS...the place where the Eye of Harmony pulsed behind its closed port, linking all TARDIS' to the heart of the power source that resided on Gallifrey.

The walls and floor and ceiling were black granite and light was dim...refracted by colored glass shards set in niches along the walls.

The Master didn't give so much as a glance up at the web that hung near the corner of the ceiling like a great cobweb. He enforced these brief unconscious periods so he could forget about the mindless brute that suffered above. To enjoy the quiet. He was here to visit Miranda.

Blue sparks would sometimes light the edges of the stasis field that kept Miranda in what looked like a blissful sleep. And The Master's skills had sealed wounds seamlessly so to aid the illusion. The altar...dais on which she lay was black marble, polished to a glasslike shine. Her dress was silk and daring and red as blood, as was the pillow her head rested on. Her hair was perfectly groomed and shining. Her skin was warm and her lips pink...her lashes brushed the tops of blushing cheeks. All an illusion. But he still worshipped here.

He sometimes hated her for making him feel anything. But then he would be grateful to her for the lesson she'd taught him.

He would be careful from now on. Never again would emotionality, or kindness stay his hand. He was proud to say he was more ruthless then ever. The punishment in the neural web for Braken was as much a tribute to regaining his cruelty as it was to punish the man who had stolen his last vestiges of decency. Never again.

But each time he looked at her he knew...if he could do it all again...he would.

He brushed his fingertips over the well-worn brass plate on the side of the dais on which she lay. A habit, it had become. Something he did before leaving her to her rest.

It read...