He didn't need to get down to feel for the man's pulse to know that he was dead. The way he looked, the soulless vacant expression, and his eyes rolled back in the sockets, said enough. The fear that had taken control over him finally receded. He raised himself half up, and winced as he saw what the coroner had done. Now that his circulation started to flow again, the blood was gushing out of the cuts in narrow streams and puddled underneath his back. He took a white piece of cloth from the steel tray on the table and used it to press his folds of skin back against the flesh, closing the wound. It hurt like hell and he had to press his hand against his mouth to dampen the screams. Searching through the dead doctor's collection of medical instruments, he found a thick, bended needle and a roll of sterile thread. He took another piece of cloth and rolled it up tightly before he pushed it between his teeth. He then used the needle and the thread to sew the strips of skin together.
Somehow he had survived the horrible knife wound, the cardiovascular shock, and the dissection of the late doctor. And somehow, his mind seemed to have changed. No longer did it act on instincts alone. He could think. He could react. He could diagnose a problem and find a solution for it, even within a very short limit of time if he had to. It was that change that had occurred inside his head that had saved him from Albert Ansley. He wasn't exactly brilliant. His brains worked on the same capacity as that of any other normal human being, although he was perhaps just a little more clever than the average person. But for the young man who had lived for months in the darkness of ignorance, barely surviving as he tried to scrape a living in the underbelly of society, this new intelligence came as a ray of light in what would have been otherwise a continuation of a sad and savage existence.
When his wounds were closed and he believed that he had rested enough to not to pass out of pain, he swung his legs over the side of the table and tried to stand. He picked up the green cloth from the floor while deliberately avoiding doctor's Ansley's eyes, and wrapped it tightly around his shoulders. Then he limped towards the double doors, wincing with every step he took while his feet slipped constantly over wet stains of blood that seemed to have splashed over every surface of the room. He had reached halfway when suddenly, the sound of footsteps came from the other side of the double doors. He stumbled back, and hid himself behind the operation table. Crouching down next to Ansley's corpse, he held in his breath and listened.
"Here we are miss Noble. Your brother should be in the next room." The young nurse informed, looking at the poor woman with much compassion. "I'm sorry that doctor Johnson or doctor Ansley aren't here to speak to you so early in the morning." She hesitated for a moment and reconsidered, since this was not the standard procedure. "Perhaps you should wait for them before you go in."
Donna faked another tear and pressed the crumbled Kleenex against her cheek. "No, no. I need to see him now." She shook her head and bit on her lower lip, acting all teary eyed and emotional. "You see, I was never there for him when he was alive. I left him all alone, living in the streets with no one to take care of him. And now this." She burst into a good cry that deeply upset the kindhearted, but naïve young nurse, and she soon evoked the right kind of reaction from her, as the nurse put an arm over her shoulder and offered her a fresh Kleenex.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said that. You can go in and see him. I'll explain everything to doctor Ansley when he comes in. He is not too bad, he'll understand."
"Thank you." Donna hiccupped between two wails, and blew her nose loudly.
She waited till the nurse had left before she wiped the forced tears from her face. She was surprised that she could lie with such an ease, although she did watch a flippin lot of Eastenders on the telly. After she had found out from the night nurse of the trauma ward that the man she was looking for had died, she quickly came up with this plan to convince her that she was family. She didn't want to get the gentle girl into any trouble, but she had to get in. She needed to see him for reasons she did not understand herself, and the fact that she did indeed feel sorry for the poor man, helped her out in the drama department.
She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, and pushed the doors open.
Cold air slammed into her face, cooling down her damp cheeks. She walked towards the middle of room where a steel operation table stood. It was empty. A white human shape lay underneath, half hidden in the shadows. When she came closer she noticed the pool of blood around the man's head, and she saw the large red stain running from his neck down into the collar and the fabric of his white coat. Donna let out a cry. Her eyes caught sight of a something that moved in the shadows behind the corpse. She turned around immediately, but a hand snatched her leg. She lost balance and she fell face down, right on top of the deceased doctor.
She would have screamed her lungs out if it wasn't for the Master grabbing hold of her and pressing his hand against her mouth to shut her up.
"Ssst! Stop it!" He hissed. "Someone gonna hear you!"
Donna couldn't breathe. The Master's hand had covered over her nose. She shook her head violently and tried to kick and slap at him, but he forced her against Ansley's chest, pinning her down under his weight.
"Now stop it! Stop it and I'll let go."
She shut up, and looked at him, frightened to death. Then she recognized his face. It was the man who was stabbed yesterday. He stared back at her, with a look in his eyes that told her that he was almost as equally frightened as she was.
"So I'll let go of you now. But no screams. Right." He lifted his hand and Donna swallowed a lungful of air. She was still pinned down, sandwiched between this madman and a corpse. "What do you want?" She asked, her voice trembling, and then, remembering on what kind of lovely soft surface she was lying on. "Did you kill him?"
He didn't get the time to answer her question. The doors swept open, and rows of black military boots marched in. He panicked and pulled her further under the table. When she resisted, he grabbed a bloody scalpel from the floor and held it against her throat.
"Don't struggle!" He commanded, but his voice sounded lost, and scared. "Don't move!"
The soldiers of Unit peered under the operation table, and saw the Master, huddled in the corner, holding Donna in front of him as a human shield. They didn't hesitate one second to point their guns at his head.
"Let go of her." On of them ordered.
"No!" He yelled, pressing the blade into Donna's neck. "Leave me alone and let me go!"
The soldier who had been standing in the front line turned to his captain, but the senior officer only shook his head.
"We are not negotiating with you Master. Whether you let go of her or not, we are going to take you in. If there going to be fatal casualties, then so be it."
"Oy, thanks very much for trying so hard to save my life!" Donna yelled sarcastically. She looked at him. "The Master? Why do they call you that?"
He breathed in loudly through his nose and raised his chin. "I don't know." He muttered. "I don't remember. Do I need to remember?" He looked at her with a lost expression on his face.
"Master, this is your final warning. Let go of your hostage and come out with your hands empty and raised up in the air. Or we will start firing."
"I don't remember anything, you bastards!" He yelled from the top of his lungs, fear and panic getting the better of him. "Why can't you leave me alone!" He stared back at Donna, the knife clutched so tightly in his hand that his knuckles turned white. He put more pressure on the blade.
"No! No please don't!" Donna begged, fighting an uncontrollable flood of real tears now. "I saved you! Don't you remember me? You were stabbed by these kids, and I came to help you! Please, please don't hurt me!"
"Master!" The captain called. "This is your final warning. Come out now!"
"Don't hurt me." Donna cried. He hesitated, and Donna felt the cold sharp point of the blade lift from her neck. He looked her in the eyes and a hint of recognition slowly came into his mind.
"You told me your name." He furrowed his brows as he remembered. "You told me your name was Donna."
"Yes!" She nodded, fervently. Yes! Donna Noble!"
The Master lifted his head and shot a frightened glance at the Unit soldiers.
"Fire!" The captain ordered determinedly, and the room exploded in a rain of bullets, smoke and noise.
There was only a fraction of a second to react and to consider. He pushed Donna behind the massive table legs and dived after her, but the bullets pierced through him twice before he was down on the floor.
Lying on his side, with his view of the world equally turned a 90 degrees, he watched helplessly how the black boots closed in on him.
Back in the secret bunker, deep underground, the young private is once again watching over his six screens. The screen on his left hand side showed the point of view of a security camera inside a cell that was empty except for a wooden table and two plastic chairs. A woman in her early thirties, ginger hair, and an aggravated expression on her face, sat in one of them. Once in a while, she would look straight into the camera, and yell something nasty at who-ever was sitting at the other side, telling them to let her go. That she had done nothing wrong and she had the right to one phone call and if not, she would at least expected a decent cup of coffee, thank you very much. The young private ignored her abuse for most of the time, for he was too busy with working himself into yet another mental crisis. He had taken the arrest photo from the woman and had fed it into the EA data based. Initially, he was relieved that the comparison analysis came out negative. At least she was not dangerous. But then, the program did find a link to the classified Torchwood files. When he opened them, he found out that the woman's name wasn't Joanna Smith, as she had claimed after her arrest. She had lied to them. Her real name was Donna Noble, and about Donna Noble, such a bookwork on data was present in the classified files that it almost exceeded that of the Master. He went through all of it, absorbing one amazing fact about her after the other, and only stopped reading once in a while to glance at the woman in the cell in disbelief.
"God." He muttered to himself when he was finally finished. "That woman is a bloody hero."
"Private Lawson." Lawson turned, his military reflexes kicking in like clockwork, and he jumped up from his chair and saluted his officer. "Yes sir, yes captain Montgomery."
The captain studied the computer screens of the private's workstation. "What were you doing? I gave you orders to keep an eye on that Smith woman and screen her with the EA program. What is this?"
He peered over the private's shoulder at a left-open windowbox on one of the screens. It showed a file format that he did not recognize.
"Yes sir. I did what you ordered. I was watching her. I also ran a scan in the EA database. She came out negative."
"Just what I expected." The captain said, but there was clear relief in his voice. "She must be one of his new companions, a replacement for Lucy Cole. Honestly, how all these mad women can find themselves attracted to that vicious monster is a complete mystery to me."
"Sir, there was link to another data file." He pointed at the woman in the screen who was now pacing around in the small cell impatiently. "She lied to us. Her name is not Joanna Smith, but Donna Noble. According to the Torchwood files, she was a companion, not of the Master, but of the Doctor."
"Donna Noble?" The captain stepped up to the screen and moved the mouse over the right corner of the document. The Torchwood emblem appeared. "You broke into the Torchwood classified files?"
"I cracked the code sir, I don't know what's going on over there but their whole security shield is down. It used to be impossible to breach into their database but now it's as leaky as a sieve."
"You shouldn't have done that! Destroy that file immediately!"
"But the woman is a hero, sir! She saved us from the Dalek invasion and was a key figure in the destruction of the Dalek fleet. Surely we must notify the Unit seniors about her."
"Oh, they already know." The captain answered, and turned to explained to the astounded young private. "Captain Jack informed us right after the Doctor had returned the earth back to the solar system. Donna Noble is indeed a hero. That woman had saved us all." Captain Montgomery stared down at Donna, who was back in the chair and kicking the table out of frustration and boredom. "Such remarkable deeds for an seemingly unremarkable woman." He spoke softly to himself.
The private's face lit up. "But then we can just explain to her that we are on her side, right? She must understand that Unit is fighting to protect the earth from alien danger. She could help us with the Master and tell us what we need to know."
The captain shook his head.
"Didn't you read the protocol at the end of the document? We must not remind her of the Doctor! Something happened during the battle against the Daleks. She remembers nothing, and doesn't know that she used to be the Doctor's companion."
"But then how are we going to interrogate her? And what exactly happens if she does remember?"
"Look, I told you already too much. Can you just follow my orders? Delete the file, close the Torchwood database and sealed it so no one can access it any longer." The captain slammed his hand on the keyboard, making the private jump. He pointed a finger at the young man. "And don't mention any of this to anyone, understood? What Unit needs are good obedient soldiers, not a solitary smart aleck that wrecks databases in his paid time."
The private diverted his eyes from the captain's angry gaze. "Yes sir. I'm sorry sir." He said, ruefully. He sat back behind his station, and started to delete the Torchwood files.
Just when she had decided that it didn't matter at all what she did inside her cell, that no-one was going to come and pay any attention to her, an elderly military officer marched in. He saluted her, called her "mam" and told her that they should sit down and talk.
Donna stared at him angrily. "It was about time. I thought you were going to let me die of boredom in here."
Captain Montgomery removed his hat, ran his fingers through his silver hair and placed the hat on the table.
"Miss Smith. I'm sorry that we have to contain you here, but we needed to make sure that you are not involved."
"As far as I'm concerned, I am indeed involved, in some military kidnapping scheme that is. I let you know that I know my rights. I have done nothing wrong and you cannot hold me here for longer than 24 hours without a proper legal reason." She sneered. She didn't watch all those episodes of Ashes to Ashes without learning one or two things.
"I'm afraid that you are arrested by a special division of the military force, and not by the police. You don't have legal protection here."
Donna had to swallow hard. "You don't scare me." She bluffed. "You with your bunch of bully GI Joeys."
"We don't mean you harm. We just need you to cooperate."
She crossed her arms, leaned back and looked away in contempt. "I don't know anything."
"We saved you from that madman."
"You ordered your soldier boys to shoot me."
"We had no choice. We needed to contain him."
"Where is he? What the heck did you do to him?"
"He is contained, all according to the protocol of code 005."
"What is that suppose to mean?" Donna leaned forward, facing the captain with a face that burned hot with adrenalin.
The captain ran his fingers over the rim of his hat, and studied Donna's response.
"Miss Smith. He's a very dangerous man. He has committed more monstrosities that you could possible imagine. You shouldn't be so concerned about him." He leaned forward. His face was now so close to hers that she could count every line on his forehead. "He is murderer, miss Smith." He whispered to her, his voice sounded sincerely worried. "Please, don't let yourself conjure up any sympathy for the devil."
Donna felt the hairs in the back of her neck rise, but didn't show any sign of unease to the captain. She looked back at Montgomery's steel gray eyes and spoke without a quiver in her voice. "You want my cooperation. Fine. Take me to see him, and then I'll tell you everything I know."
She believed that she had gone mad, bluffing like that right in the face of a military commander from whose orders her life was depending on. And why was she so concerned about that homicidal madman who had attacked in the mortuary? The chief of these G.I. Joeys clowns was partly right. He did threaten to kill her. Only he didn't, and she actually had the idea that he had saved her from the gunfire by pushing her out of harm's way. Surely that did evoke some sympathy for the crazy man, but was that anywhere near enough to risk her own life for his?
What the hell was she actually doing?
She felt slightly dizzy again, and almost instinctively, she reached down her pocket and wrapped her fingers around the cool metal of the Master's ring. The captain let two armed men guide them out of her cell and down into a dark corridor. There were no windows or doors. The damp and earthy smell of rotting vegetation, told her that they must be somewhere underground. She looked at the captain walking beside her, trying not to show that she felt intimidated.
"This way, miss Smith." The captain smiled politely, and rest his hand behind his back.
They turned the corner into yet another dark and damp hallway. There was very little light, and she found it difficult to take up her surroundings. This passage way had no doors and windows either. So there goes my hope for a big green flashy sigh with exit on it. She thought. They must have hidden all the passages behind these concrete blocks.
Indeed, they stopped right in front of an apparently normal wall. The captain placed his hand on one of the blocks that didn't look any different from the others, but gave in when he pushed it. A small square opened in front of the captain's face, and a computer screen lit up.
-Activate voice identification- A metallic female voice spoke. -Please state your name-
"Jeffrey Montgomery." The captain said, loud and clear.
Voice recognized and access verified. Please proceed.-
Donna had expected that a door would slide open now and let them into the next room, but instead, another block of concrete opened up into an even tinier square and a small platform came out that lit up with a miniature screen showing a flashing bulls-eye.
- Activate fingerprint identification. Please place your right index finger on the screen. -
"God, it's like Star Wars." Donna mumbled, rolling her eyes. "Can't you guys just use a key?"
"Every high security measure is needed to protect what lies behind that door, miss Smith." The captain stated, he was slightly irritated, but was too well mannered to let it show. He pressed his finger on the screen and let the security system do its job.
-Fingerprint identified. Verification complete. Lord Jeffrey Montgomery, full access is granted.-
Now a secret door in the wall did slid open, and revealed a large space with blinding bright lights.
"Welcome to the Unit scientific development base, miss Smith." Captain Montgomery stated, and escorted her inside.
Donna looked around, amazed. There were men and women in white coats everywhere, staring at huge computer screens mounted on the walls. Everywhere she looked, there were consoles and stations and the constant humming of machinery. Military men walked among the white coats, strictly guarding each station. She noticed that at least 7 of them were vigilantly stalking around the platform in the middle of the vast room. A gigantic disk stood on the raised section, and was spinning around its axis at incredible speed. She couldn't believe her eyes, but it seemed that the disk was floating three meters above the ground, with no visible scaffolds or ropes to hold it up.
"That's impossible." She blurted out.
"That huge thing, is floating? In the air? On it's own?"
"Incredible, isn't it? I must admit that I couldn't believe it myself when I first set eyes on it. But the Valiant sphere is indeed floating in the air. It does not obey the laws of gravity."
"What is it?"
"It's a time converter. A brilliant and powerful machine, designed and built by Harold Saxon himself." The captain eyed at Donna, trying to figure out if there was any change in her face that might indicate that she had recognized the name.
"Harold Saxon?" She furrowed her brows. "I know that name. But where from?" She placed her finger on her lips while she racked her brains. "Wait! Wasn't he in the third season of Big Brother?"
"No miss Smith." Captain Montgomery said, suppressing a sigh of agitation. "Harold Saxon was our prime minister when the American president Arnold Winter was assassinated. Don't you remember any of that?"
"Really? Oh I am sorry, but I've never been much interested in politics."
"Right." The captain felt a headache coming up. "Then let me shortly recall these events to you. Harold Saxon was elected as prime minister of great Britain in 2006. Shortly after he came to power, he had the entire government executed and turned his term into a dictatorship. He even had president Winter murdered on international television. If that man was still in control, we would all have lived in fear and desperation."
"But we don't." Donna raised her eyebrow, confusion settling uneasily inside her like a coiling snake. She wished she had followed the news a bit better. "So what happened to him?"
Montgomery nodded to his men, and they took Donna by the arms and guided her to a screened off corner of the room.
"Oy! What's all this! Get your coal-shover's hands off of me!"
"I'm sorry miss Smith. But I think that what you are about to see is going to distress you, and I don't want any accidents to happen." Montgomery explained, marching in front of her. The screens parted and a white coat came rushing out, carrying a tray with tubes filled with blood.
"You asked me what happened to Harold Saxon." The captain said, and let the soldiers drag her inside. "Like I said. We contained him."
Next time: Donna finds out what project 005 installs and the secret of the Valliant disk is revealed.