A/N: OMG, I live! I'm so sorry, everyone, for not updating in ages. I was working on my original fantasy novel (which is thankfully better written then this fic) and I didn't get back to this until now. Then I watched Sound of Drums the other day... and yeah... :) So here it is, one more chapter to go. Thanks for your patience, folks!
Chapter 6: Best Served Hot
He grinned as he watched them dropping dead, one by one, eyes wide and pained. There were only a few things in life (the Doctor's unbridled suffering being one) that were sweeter then a sight such as this.
When he was satisfied they couldn't do him any harm, the Master ventured back into the the mass of wires, again utilizing his trusty screwdriver to restore the oxygen. He then threw open the door, pausing at the guard who was trying to claw his way up the wall with his injured leg.
'Oh, sorry, I forgot you were there, how rude of me. Don't get up,' the Master grinned and went to the wall. 'I think this was what you were looking for?' he pulled the corded phone off its cradle and handed it to the guard. 'Here, be a good tin soldier and call Greer. Tell her the Master's on his way to the rocket silo.'
He gave the appropriate number a call and patted the injured man on the head before sauntering off through the door, whistling again.
His TARDIS was an old and welcome sight (and still in the guise of a Rexellan 4 tree), it practically hummed at his presence.
Reaching into his coat, he found the hidden pocket with his spare key, a pocket that would only open for him. Isomorphic pockets, you ask? Yes, only someone as brilliant as the Master could come up with such an excellent idea.
Twisting the key in the lock, he stepped across the threshold and into his ship. He felt a wave of power wash over him; with his TARDIS he could practically do anything he pleased, go anywhere...
But no, not yet. Revenge first. Sweet, delicious revenge, best served hot and with a dash of sugar. He couldn't stop grinning as he went to the console and keyed in the co-ordinates.
A loud wheezing echoed over the halls of the bunker and the Time Lord was gone.
Greer looked to one of her lab-coated scientists.
'Is it true?' she asked, voice shaking slightly. The Doctor stood up and allowed the scientist access to his computer terminal. He glanced at Miles and the others, surprised that they hadn't yet wrestled the weapons from the few remaining guards. For once they all seemed notably quiet.
'Yes, ma'am, it looks accurate,' the scientist spoke, his accent thick. The Doctor finally allowed himself to breath a soft sigh of relief; Greer would surely believe him now.
She lowered her head, muttering something. Then she gripped her pistol tighter and glared at the floor, seemingly coming to a decision. She looked to the guards. 'Find that damn Time Lord and bring him here!' Three of the men departed immediately.
'He's gone,' the Doctor said.
'What? How can he be gone? He needed someone to drive him to the silo.'
'No, he's already left, in his TARDIS,' the Doctor continued. 'Go on. Check and see.'
Greer's fell face, her mouth opening slightly. 'That's impossible,' she said, not sounding very convinced. 'His ship is under heavy guard. He couldn't possibly!'
'Oh, he'll have figured out a way to get to it long before now,' the Doctor stated grimly. 'You should've listened to me earlier; the Master can't stand being used. Now he wants revenge and he's gonna take it on this whole planet.'
The Doctor was about
to ask her to check again, but just then a loud rinnnng
broke the stiff silence that had settled over the room. A guard
immediately picked it
'Ma'am,' he said, 'the Master's escaped... we've got injured and dead people down in containment room six.'
'Get people down there to help them!' the Doctor spoke up when Greer said nothing, his tone commanding. When the guard hesitated, he added a resounding 'Now!'
Even without orders from his leader, the man seemed to realize that the Doctor's suggestion was the right action to take and he hurried out of the room.
'Well? You believe me now?' the Time Lord turned back to Greer.
'Can the launch be stopped from here?' Greer spoke to her scientist.
'Supposedly.. but..' the scientist responded, 'he's overridden the controls.. so I don't think--'
'Let me, I'm brilliant with computers,' the Doctor sat down when the scientist moved, 'think he might've forgotten that.' Again, his fingers flew over the keys, the monitor going through screen after screen.
He paid no attention to the sounds and footsteps behind him, brow furrowed in concentration. He knew a moment later that both Miles and Jones were standing over him, but he paid them no mind.
'Come on.. come on..' he muttered, running decryption protocols invented in the future so the system couldn't stand up to them. He was almost there... almost to the deactivation screen, hidden away so deep...
Suddenly a loud BEEP sounded from every computer around the room and the screen before them flashed up a bright blue screen, lined with bold white letters. The Doctor could practically hear the Master's voice in his head as he read them to himself, picturing his nemesis standing there and wagging a finger at him mockingly.
Ah, Ah, Ah, Doctor! Nice try, but you didn't say the magic word!, they read. Evidently the Master hadn't quite forgotten his fellow Time Lord's brilliant computer skills.
'Oooh, blue screen of death,' the Doctor muttered, running his fingers through his messy hair, 'disables the system when someone runs new encryption protocols. He knew I'd try. Bit clever, really.' He admitted the truth before he could stop himself.
'You can't stop it?' Miles spoke up from beside him.
A few more button pushes confirmed Miles' words, as the computer beeped defiantly at him. 'Not from here, no,' the Doctor said.
A loud beeping turned everyone's attention to a schematic by the far wall. Greer's scientist moved toward it. 'We are losing power, all across the continent, the stations are shutting down.' Red lights on the panel turned off one by one. The Doctor suddenly imagined the Master turning a few dials and throwing a switch at the rocket silo; he must've turned off all the power.
'"The darkness has come",' the Doctor muttered, again making with the quotes. Tolkien seemed appropriate in this case.
Suddenly the room was bathed in darkness, the soft buzzing of the computers ceasing as they, too, lost power. The Doctor jumped up, turning to look at Miles and Jones, his Gallifreyan eyes adjusting to the darkness before he fished through his pockets and produced a torch.
'That's it!' he declared, flipping on the light so its bright beam lit up his smiling face. It was clearly obvious, now that he thought about it.
'We dun follow,' Jones was the first to speak.
'The Master, he shut off the power. That means he didn't actually program the nuclear reactors to explode. Course not, he couldn't; somebody would've noticed. So he's gotta do it from his end, but the fail safes would guard against that, that's why he shut everything off. He'll have to-- Oh! Oh, thats brilliant!'
'You're.. complimenting him?' Miles blinked.
'Nawh! Never! I've just found the flaw in his plan. He's always got one,' the Doctor grinned.
'What is it then?' Jones demanded.
The Doctor was about to answer when his eyes, then his torchlight, combed the room and he realized it was rather bare save for the remaining rebels and the scientist. 'Where's Greer? I need to find the TARDIS.'
'She left,' Jones said, 'didn't you hear? Went off to the rocket silo to stop this stuff. Now, are you gonna tell us--'
'What?' the Doctor exclaimed. 'No, no, no!' He walked away from the computer, glaring at the floor. 'That's exactly what he wants! She can't stop him!' He turned to the nearest scientist.
'How long does it take to get to the silo?'
'Umm.. about.. fifteen minutes,' the white-coated man replied.
'Fifteen... right! Plenty of time!' He grinned at the man. 'Thanks for that. Now, have you seen a blue box recently? A police box? Tall, wooden, sort of.. rectangular?' He made a gesture to indicate the size of his beloved ship.
'Yes, a few hours ago,' the scientist replied. 'The Master brought it back here before he went out to get you.'
'Brilliant, knew he would,' the Doctor said. 'So, where is it then, then?'
'I could show you--' the scientist began.
'Right,' the Doctor said, 'one sec.' He turned on his heel, threw open a desk drawer and withdrew a small disk. 'Never leave home without one.' He stuffed the disk in his pocket and looked at the scientist, handing him the torch. 'Right then, lead the way, allons-y.'
Throwing open the TARDIS doors, the Doctor ignored Jones and Miles' gaping and usual denouncements of "it's bigger on the inside!" that were so often stated they had almost become cliché.
He threw his coat over one of the pillars before going to the console and withdrew the disc from his pocket. 'Off we go then, to the rocket silo!' he threw the handbrake and the ship did its usual rocking, knocking both his passengers off their feet.
'OW! Kinda bumpy, ain't it?' Jones exclaimed. He didn't bother getting up off the floor. /p
'Well,' the Doctor shrugged, 'she never was very fond of short trips.'
'So, we're flying?' Miles asked, clinging to the console for dear life. 'All the way out to the rocket silo?'
'Nawh! Dematerialization! That's what TARDISes do; disappear one place and reappear in another. Only way to travel.' The Doctor kept his eyes on the monitor as he explained, the screen going through several pages of Gallifreyan text.
'Doctor,' Miles said, 'before we land, you have to tell me. I've been wondering – how exactly did you escape the guards before?'
'Hmm? Bit easy, really,' the Doctor said, still not looking up. 'The Master; he obviously wanted me to escape, wants me to be there in his moment of triumph, since he's so full of himself, thinks I can't stop him--'
'Doctor!' Miles interrupted his spiel, looking at him impatiently.
'Right, sorry. Anyway, basically, they put me in a room after we got here and left me on my own, so I left the holographic copy of myself and shifted off into the ventilation shafts. Like I said, bit too easy.'
'Oh..' Miles seemed slightly disappointed, as though he were expecting something much more grand. The Doctor, however, paid it no mind. He knew he only had a few moments to finish what he was doing and the worry that his ship might arrive a little too late nagged at him. Why was it that the military never listened and always thought they could solve everything with the use of force? The Master surely knew that, too, and would use it to his advantage.
The central column stilled and a loud boom sounded throughout the ship, indicating that they had landed
The Doctor withdrew the disc from the console and stuffed it back in his pocket. 'Time to go, you two.'
Inside the rocket silo, the Master finished programming in the rocket's trajectory and the timer for the nuclear explosion. Inside the little enclosure that made up the control room was a window giving a view of the rocket, a door leading out to it via a bridge and his TARDIS for his easy escape.
Intruders Detected! A red screen on the control panel bleeped annoyingly at the Master. He checked the current radiation output within the room before switching off the alerts. He already knew Greer and her little tin soldiers had entered the complex.
With one last look out the window and at the rocket, he pulled down the little black lever that began the countdown – T-Minus fifteen Minutes. It was plenty of time for him to kill Greer before he had to make the final adjustments, lock the system, and then escape.
'Time Lord!' He turned, one hand holding the laser screwdriver on the panel behind him, it's setting already on kill. General Greer and several soldiers burst into the room from one of the two entrances, their guns trained on him. The door they had come through slammed shut behind them after a button press from the Master.
'Stand down, stop the countdown!' Greer ordered, her eyes blazing with delicious fear.
'What?' he casually tapped out the cursed drumbeat on
the panel behind him. 'Getting cold feet? I thought you wanted to
rule the Calken System. I should've known
'I mean it!' she interrupted him, much to his annoyance. 'Turn it off and surrender. I know what you're really doing here. You're going to kill us all.'
'Ooh,' he put a hand to his hearts, 'I'm hurt.You'd believe the Doctor over me. Do you know he's always been a great liar; says he's your friend, but he's really just gonna stab you in the back.' For a moment his eyes flashed darkly, the mask broken by memories long past. But only for a moment.
She brought her weapon up, finger going to the trigger, her dark eyes narrowing. He noticed how she trembled and knew why at once. 'You turned off the power everywhere, show us how you did it so we can fix it,' she said.
'Oh, alright!' he threw up his arms, the laser screwdriver still sitting behind him. 'I'll just do exactlyas you say because you told me to! I'm scared now!' He rolled his eyes and folded his arms before continuing: 'I should tell you; firing a gun in here might not be a good idea,' he brought both his hands forward and made a grand gesture while mouthing explosion to illustrate his point.
Greer hesitated, the weapon quivering in her hand even more now. Looking behind her, the Master saw that her soldiers were also trembling. Many of them didn't seem to notice.
'Why should I believe you?' Greer demanded, even her voice was shaky.
The Master lifted his eyebrows, just daring her to fire, knowing he was quicker then her, that he could have the laser screwdriver armed and fired before she could now that her arm was trembling so violently. She brought up her other hand to steady herself, looking back at her men and seeing they were feeling it, too. 'W-what have you...' she started, but found herself unable to finish. Her men stumbled slowly to the floor while she staggered a little, desperately trying to keep her footing.
'Oh, you're wondering why you can't control your movements?' he grinned suddenly, his brown eyes shining sadistically. He stepped toward her, screwdriver in hand. 'The radiation, General, you forgot to check the meter, didn't you? I've heard it's incredibly painful.' He indicated the wall, where a meter informed anyone who dared look at it that the whole room was full of karnium radiation.
'Y-you're not...' Greer stumbled again, finally falling forward against the Master. He grabbed both his arms, his grip so iron that she dropped her pistol. He could feel the sweat on her skin, knowing it would soon be joined by her own blood.
'I'm a Time Lord,' he declared, 'we're immune.'
She stared back at him, opening her mouth to speak, her whole face masked in horror. She had never looked so afraid, so pathetic in the whole time he'd known her. Her facade of the soldierly leader was gone now.
'W-Why.. a-are.. you.. d-doing..' she tried to finish but couldn't her lips trembling and her eyes wide.
He placed a finger to her mouth. 'Revenge,' he whispered, his tone cold as ice. 'You thought you could use me! Me! Did you really think I was gonna help you conquer this useless star system? If you actually cared about them, you might be thinking about how all your people are gonna die because of you.' He grinned at her, his tone suddenly changing like the flip of a coin, his voice cheerful and upbeat again: 'Oh, by the way...' He slammed his fist into her chest, sending her sprawling to the floor. He laughed, clapping his hands together with almost-childlike glee.
He looked back at her men, noting they'd all passed out from the pain. She soon would, too, but not yet. Not before--
'Master! Stop!' Ah, at last; that desperate voice; the voice that his name was so suited to. A slight shiver crept up his spine as he turned to the door nearest him. There he was on the other side; the Doctor. His eyes blazed with desperation, a look the Master considered most precious.
'Doctor!' he turned, grinning at the other, 'you got here just in time. We've got about...' he checked his watch, 'seven minutes till nuclear holocaust! I'm still waiting on your "brilliant" scheme to save the day."
'Please, just--' But this time the Master didn't let the Doctor finish; he turned and fired a bright yellow laser into Greer's chest. She fell over with a cry, blood staining the floor, her dead eyes wide open and staring up at him.
The Doctor said nothing; his face clouded over with that sick moral rage, his eyes showing the sorrow he felt at the loss of life. It was the same look he gave the Master just after he'd destroyed Regalia Minor.
'Ooh, what, Doctor; no word of protest? No "ohh, why'd you have to kill her!"? The Master burst into laughter, the look on the Doctor's face was pure class! 'I could talk about this all day, but you'll have to excuse me; I've got to finish destroying this little planet. Good luck getting through that door without your precious sonic screwdriver.'
Giving a little wave, the Master turned and threw open the door to the rocket, walking across the catwalk. He spared the Doctor one final glance, seeing his enemy was no longer visible outside the door. It was his move now.
The Master grinned to himself as he walked; the first time he'd beaten the Doctor at Regalia Minor it had been truly sweet, but this time it would be even better, like a drug you had to work very hard to get.
T-minus 6 minutes till the end of the world.
More soon! I swear I will finish this! Just one more chapter to go!