Luckily, Donna had not forgotten how to use the laserscrewdriver to open doors, for by the time they arrived at the apartment, the Master was already half-unconscious. She dragged him inside, careful not to leave any bloodmarks on the expensive carpet in the hall outside. If the neighbors noticed anything strange, they would certainly call the police. She dropped him on the sofa and went to look for bandages, which she found in the medical cabinet in the bathroom. When she returned, the Master was already sound asleep. His eyelids fluttered fast as if he was dreaming. Carefully, she peeled off his doctor's coat. The fabric was crusted with dried blood. There were two entry wounds the size of a pebble at the left side of his torso. Donna caught her breath for a moment when she saw all the blood congealed around the gun wounds, and hesitated if it was the right thing to do to rely fully on the Master's own healing capacity.
"No…" The Master mumbled. His voice was so weak it was hardly audible.
Donna bent over to him and put her ear close this mouth.
"Oh all right." She realized that he must have been listening to her thoughts again, but at the moment, she didn't mind. "I promise you I won't."
She ripped the bandages into thick strips and dressed his wounds. Then she went into the bedroom and took the sheets off the bed. She wrapped them firmly around him, and tucked a pillow under his head. Then she sank down in the seat in the corner next to the large windows and stared down at the busy street below, wondering what she had got herself into till her eyelids became heavy.
She woke up early in the morning with the clean-shaved face of the Master hovering only a nose length away from her.
"Good morning sunshine." He grinned a not unpleasant grin. "Did you sleep well?"
Donna rose up, but immediately felt stiff in her shoulders and back. Fancy Italian design or not, it remained a seat in which sleeping comfortably was impossible. She stretched the kink out of her neck. "Have you been up for long?" She noticed that the Master was still eyeballing her without so much as a blink. It made her feel uneasy.
" Only for a while. You were sleeping, so I went to take a shower, got myself shaved and selected some clothes from the wardrobe. The man who lives here has an absolute vile taste. It took me hours to find something decent."
"But, are you all right then?" Donna studied him from head to toe. The Master stood firmly without support, and he did actually look a lot better, with the color returning to his cheeks. He was dressed in an ensemble of a two button black suit, a white shirt, and black pleats trousers, but no shoes or socks. When he caught her staring at his bare feet his wriggled his toes.
"Like I said. It's hard to find something that doesn't make me look like an imbecile. The man has socks with cartoon characters on them, and his shoes look like a dog has used it as a toothbrush. I would rather die than to be seen alive wearing those."
"So…you've completely recovered?" Donna reached out to where the bandages had been. The Master rolled his eyes and lifted his shirt. The wounds were closed and only two tiny scars remained. Donna tentatively touched them with her fingertips.
"Two little scars. That's all. They're probably gone by tomorrow. You won't see a thing." He tucked his shirt back in.
"What happened to the bullets? Didn't you need to get them out?"
The Master dug into his pockets and held out two blood-crusted bullets in the palm of his hand. "They were expelled while I was asleep. Can't say there aren't any advantages for being a Timelord." He dropped the bullets in the ashtray on the coffee table that was tastelessly shaped like a large waterlily with a chorus of ceramic frogs sitting on it. "Makes all those times that people want to rip your hearts out for only the curiosity of it more than worthwhile."
Donna sighed out of relief. "God, you guys are amazing!" She exclaimed, and threw herself in his arms and hugged him firmly. The Master was absolutely stunned by this sudden display of warm human sentiment and sympathy, and froze at the spot, but Donna didn't notice how embarrassed and uncomfortable he was. "Now I'm sure that everything is going to be all right! All we have to do now is to find the Doctor, and he can get us back to 2008."
The Master pried Donna from his chest. "Stop your ramblings for a moment, I don't exactly want to go back to 2008."
Donna's smile vanished from her face. "But we can't stay here. My mom and granddad are going to worried sick."
"Well, that's not my problem, is it?"
Donna stared back at him in astonishment. "But…I've saved your life."
"And I've saved yours at the Unit headquarters." The Master stated coldly. He straightened his collar and brushed the wrinkles out of the fabric of his suit. "Anyway, if those Unit soldier boys were right, than I ought to find out more about what had happened to me when I stay in 2006, the year that Harold Saxon came to power. Going back to 2008 is not going to help. I thought you wanted me to come more in touch with my former self. Didn't you try to sell me that self-discovery crap before?"
She shook her head and paced around in the apartment. "Why are you doing this?" She asked, her voice trembling.
"Doing what?" He laughed.
"I thought you were…I thought you were like…"
"Like who? Your precious Doctor?" He burst into laughter. "Donna Noble, where did you get that preposterous idea?" He mocked on the edge of being cruel. "And isn't it a bit racist of you to just assume that I'm kind because your favorite pet Timelord used to be nice? Oh come on! Even you can't be that stupidly naïve."
She wanted to strike him, but the Master was fast now that he had fully recovered, and stopped her by grabbing her hand in mid-air. To her surprise, he didn't hurt her this time.
"I warn you." He threatened in a low voice, and let go of her.
"I want to go find the Doctor." Donna spoke, as calmly as she could force herself to be.
"You're staying here." The Master grabbed a bottle of Scotch from the drink cabinet and poured a glass full.
"You can't stop me." Donna rushed towards the hall, but the Master drew his laserscrewdriver and pointed it at her. Donna suddenly froze.
"Oh I think I can, actually." He ushered her back into the livingroom, placing his hand at the small of her back. "Sit" He half-commanded and handed her the Whiskey. Donna stared at it for a while before she tentatively took it from him. The Master sat down on the coffee table and stared at her, unblinking.
"Donna Noble." He mused, and touched his upper lip with the tip of his laserscrewdriver in contemplation. "You know, the more I look at you, the more I…" He paused, furrowed his brows, and leaned over to her so close that she could smell the expensive aftershave that he had spayed on earlier that morning.
"You look so familiar. I mean, sure, you saved me in that park when I was still bonkers in the head. I do remember that. But there is something else. I have a feeling that I remember you from even before that. I think that you may actually have something to do with my obscure past." He bit on his lower lip as he studied her face. "Can I be right? What do you think? Hmm?"
Donna was sitting very still, holding her drink untouched in her hands. She eyed at the Master without moving her head.
"I think you are a dangerous crazy man. I think that you ought to be locked up for your own good."
"Oh do you?" The Master chuckled. "And what drove you to this luminous conclusion?"
"You…you did something to my mind. I didn't want to walk back, and I certainly didn't want to sit here and have a drink with you. But somehow, you forced me to do this. You imposed your will on me."
"Ding ding ding! You're absolutely right." The Master laughed with a boyish sense of joy. "A round of applause and a big fluffy teddy for the lady!"
"It's absolutely appalling!" Donna spat. "You're a vile egocentric monster. I should have left you in UNIT, let those white coats keep you there for the rest of your worthless life."
"Well, you can't say they didn't warn you." He thought he couldn't be affected by Donna's harsh words, but he actually was. It certainly drained the fun out the situation.
"You can't keep me here. Let me go!"
"Why can't I?" The Master took the glass of Scotch out of her motionless hands and took a good sip.
"Because… Because you can't just take over other people's mind, order them what to do at your whim, and leave them at your mercy. Don't you remember how those UNIT soldier treated you? They hooked you up to that horrible machine and kept your body and mind completely paralyzed. If you have experienced that, and you're as clever as you claim to be, than you can figure it out for yourself why you can't do this."
She gazed up at him. The Master crossed his arms while nursing his drink in his left hand. He studied the dark honey colored liquid as it swirled in the glass, but avoided her eyes.
"It's because it's a wicked thing to do." She blurted out in anger, but hoping fiercely that he would understand. "Do I need to spell it out for you? It's WRONG!"
"I've enough of this." The Master muttered to himself, and turned away from her. As soon as he walked away, Donna felt his icy grip on her mind evaporate and she regained control over her own body. Her limbs and shoulders relaxed as if her whole composure was letting out a sigh of relief.
The Master's back was still turned as he stood silently in front of the large windows. He gazed down at the passers by below, studying them as if they were a colony of ants.
"You may go." He spoke slowly, as if the decision actually pained him.
She didn't get up from the sofa, and kept staring at him.
"I said, you could go now." He finally turned to face her. "Now piss off will you before I change my bloody mind!"
Donna jumped up and ran out of the apartment, slamming the door behind her. She took the stairs instead of the elevator, and didn't stop running till she was outside, standing in the street in front of the flat. Her hart was racing, and toiled with a strange concoction of anger, fear and frustration.
"Calm down Donna." She muttered. "Don't let that lunatic get inside your head." But she couldn't help herself from looking up to the second floor. The Master was still standing in front of the window. He looked lost.
Donna shook her head to clear her mind of him, and turned away.
It wasn't until she had walked at least 4 blocks away from the Master that she realized that she didn't actually had a plan to find the Doctor. Before she met up with the other Timelord in 2007, she had already been trying to contact him for over a year, and it had taken considerable efforts on her side. She had occupied herself for months with screening the daily newspapers for unusual reports. Anything remotely alien was investigated. She remembered how she had run after each unusual event that took place that year after her disastrous wedding. The London hospital that was transported to the moon, the Lazarus biotech company that was destroyed by a monstrous creature, and the spaceship that threatened to crash into Buckingham palace, she had lived through it all, but each time, she had been too late to meet up with the Doctor.
Her steps slowed down as her courage sank down into her feet. How on earth was she going to find him if she had failed the first time around?
She stopped walking. Somebody bumped into her back and complained.
"Oh please." She responded, agitated. "Don't make such fuzz about it. You're now what? A minute late for your appointment with a mug of ale in your favorite pub? Is that what your sad life is all about?"
The man who had been grumbling at her walked away with hasty steps.
Donna snorted, and without much interest, watched how the man crossed the street and joined a group of people standing in front of a large video display set up in front of a crowded pub. She had half-expected that the men gathered outside were watching a football match. Instead, the large screen was showing the BBC's live coverage from the parliament. Donna, although she had spend most of her life single, had experienced her fair share of men to know that most of them were as interested in politics as they were in women cosmetics, so she decided to investigate.
She pushed forward in the crowd till she got a good view and addressed an office worker who stood next to her.
"Hey, what's going on?" She asked, casually.
The man glanced over his shoulder at her, but quickly returned his gaze to the television screen.
"It's Harold Saxon. He won the election by a landslide of a majority." He said it with a sense of pride and admiration. "He's going to address his supporters in a live broadcast, we're all waiting here for him to deliver his speech."
"Right." Donna mumbled. "So he's going to appear in a minute or so then?"
"Didn't you read the schedule in the Radio Times?" The man snorted. "His speech is at 19:00 this evening. It' only what, 16:30 in the afternoon."
"But, that's more than an hour from now." Donna gazed at him in astonishment. "You're not gonna stand here and wait till he's on, are you?"
"Of course I am. What if I miss anything? Sure, my girlfriend at home is going to tape it, but you know how women are with electronics. It's too risky. It would be like missing out on the coronation or something."
"Coronation?" Donna gasped. "What are you saying, he's not the bloody king of England."
"No, of course not! He's more than that! He's bigger than a king. He's the Lord protector of our nation." The man actually became a bit teary eyed when he said it. "It's our Harry who keeps England safe from alien attacks. No thanks to those bloody Americans. Now if you would excuse me, they are about to broadcast one of his campaign commercials, and I don't like to be disrupted while I'm watching." He turned to the screen, his eyes ablaze with what could only be described as a blind fanaticism that would have suited well for the average Nazi soldier just before he got himself killed for his beloved Fuhrer.
Donna backed away from him. "This is not happening." She muttered under her breath, while a sickening sense of unease crept up her spine. She studied the people around her. They were all like that. Men and women, holding their pints in their hands without taking so much as a sip, silent to each other but staring a the screen with wide-eyed anticipation. The commercial came up, and the Master's face beamed from the wide screen. He spoke, charmingly, and enigmatically, his manners full of promise of integrity and great leadership. He was awkwardly handsome, although in any rational view, his nose could be considered too pointy and his eyes a bit beady, like that of a weasel. But he came over as very charismatic, even desirable. His wit made every one laugh at the right moment, and his passionate words made all of them feel proud to be British, while it instilled fear into their hearts for the so-called extra-terrestrial terror.
Donna's mind wandered, she thought about his lips, and that beautiful stern mouth that she should have kissed that morning, with him being so achingly close that she could feel his breath on her skin. She recalled how safe she felt when he took her hand in the dark amid the chaos of the UNIT headquarters, and she realized that she missed him, and that she wanted to be with him, more than that she wished to find the Doctor…
"No no no no no!" Donna shook her head violently and tore her gaze off the screen. "Oh no! No you don't! You're not going to play that trick on me."
She got rid of all those Master-worshipping thoughts immediately as she realized what was going on.
He was brainwashing all these people.
She stared around as if suddenly awoken from a pleasant dream, only to realize that she was now trapped inside a nightmare. Only this one was real. There was something horribly wrong with the broadcast, he must have messed it up to make everybody believe that they trusted Harold Saxon. She stepped away from the screen, keeping her eyes on the ground. But when she turned another block her eyes fell on the pamphlets stuck on about every surface in the streets. Vote Saxon! Saxon is your man. Against the imminent alien threat, trust Harold Saxon. Everywhere she looked there were Saxon campaign posters with the Master's greasy smile beaming back at her, faking his compassion and care for a better future of Britain.
She kept on walking, fleeing away from this world that seemed to worship Harold Saxon like a demi-God. The unease had grown into a fear, and she racked her brain for what she could remember about these particular events. To her surprise and frustration, it was still very little, even now that the memories the Doctor had once sealed off were restored to her. She recalled watching the election on the telly, but not thinking much of it except that she actually wanted Saxon to win, and she had voted for him like everybody else. She remembered an incident on that military airship where indeed president Winters was assassinated by the alien race Saxon had introduced to the nation and the rest of the world as being benign. But even as the American leader was reduced to dust in front of the cameras, and Saxon proclaimed himself to be the only true Master and Lord of humanity, even as the fear struck down hard on Donna and his family, they didn't question his decision to seize total power, and kept their heads down without even an attempt to offer resistance.
Donna now finally realized that they had been all mind controlled by the Master, forced to accept any ridiculous lie that he imposed on them. He had altered their thinking and had turned them into a blind flock of sheep, gathered together to be ushered to the slaughter. The very idea that the pitiful man she saved from the streets had done such a detestable thing to her and her family angered and frustrated her greatly, but she forced back these emotions and tried to keep a clear mind. The only thing that Donna didn't understand was why, as far as she could recall, no real slaughter had happened afterwards. It was as if one moment, the Master was about to bring down the whole of humanity, and in the second he was shot down like a dog by one of the guards and the crisis was over.
Donna knew the Master to be better than this. So what had truly happened? Who had stopped this madness in the past and had prevented the Master from carrying out whatever evil plan he had in mind.
"The Doctor." Donna whispered. Of course, it must be him! He had saved us, like he always did. Suddenly, the fear that had gripped her heart started to melt away. The Doctor was here. She wasn't alone. Not anymore.
And she now knew exactly how to find him.
It was already starting to get dark when the Master finally moved away form the window. He sat down in front of the large flatscreen tv and switched it on while his mind kept turning like a uncoiling snake. He poured himself another glass full and leaned back, while he ran his finger over the rim of the glass.
With every channel on the British Island broadcasting the new prime minister's live speech, it wasn't exactly luck that he finally saw his past-self, sitting in the cabinet room at number 10 Downing street, ready to address the nation.
"Well well well." The Master laughed, but it sounded hollow and joyless. "Look at that, doesn't that handsome devil look familiar." He sat a little closer to the screen.
"Britain, Britain, Britain." Harold Saxon spoke, and as he spoke, the whole nation listened, breathlessly and mesmerized.
"What extraordinary times we've had. Just a few years ago, this world was so small. And then they came, out of the unknown, falling from the skies."
The Master almost choked on his drink. "Oh you cheeky bastard!" He blurted out, and grinned to himself. "Using national television to infuse alternating brainwaves into the feeble minds of these earthlings. Very neat!"
Footage followed, showing attacks from different alien races, and all the while, the prime minister of Britain kept talking, about how dangerous the world had become, how they needed him to make it a safer place again, and how they should trust him.
"Oh they must love you." He smiled, and threw a good gulp of Whiskey down his gullet. "Drive allconsuming fear into their hearts to paralyze their rationality, and let the brainwaves do the rest. Simple but effective. I can see now why those UNIT clowns wanted me dead."
"Time and time again the government told you nothing. Well not me. Not Harold Saxon. Because my purpose here today is to tell you this—citizens of Great Britain…I have been contacted. A message, for humanity, from beyond the stars."
As if it was given a sign, at the same time that the Toclefane appeared on screen to salute the human race, the future Master's own silver minion crashed through the window pane and landed next to him on the sofa in a sea of glass shards.
The Master remained calm and carefully picked the pieces of broken glass out of his drink.
"You know, you could have just tapped on the window pane and I would have let you in." He stated.
The Toclefane apologized, but its Master and lord was too busy with concocting a plan to listen. On the flat-screen, Harold Saxon announced that tomorrow, the alien race would present themselves to the world and diplomatic relations with an alien species will begin. The Master finished his drink and turned off the television. His ever-busy mind churned like an efficient super computer.
What's the matter my Master? –
The Master didn't answer, but paced up and down in front of the broken window. He hardly noticed that he cut his feet on the many shards imbedded into the carpet.
What happened to that Donna lady? –
"Hmm? Oh she's gone. Good riddance too."
She was very annoying, wasn't she, Master? –
"Ha! To the point to being unbearably obnoxious! But now that I have a plan and a purpose, I no longer need her around to complicate my affairs."
-You've got a plan? – The Toclefane's metallic voice rose in excitement. –Is it a brilliant one, Master?-
The Master turned his head, his face adorned by a cocky smile.
"I don't need that goody-goody-two-shoes pompous Doctor to find out more about my past." He spread out his hands and gestured around. "I'm in the middle of it, experiencing everything while history is being made. All I need to do is to get a bit closer to my former self than I am now."
But isn't that dangerous? What about the paradox it will create?-
"I won't create one if my past-self doesn't find out about me. Finding Harold Saxon should be easy, but I need a good disguise to hide myself from him."
You are referring to an electronic personal deception field. –
"Exactly. Only, I would need one that works so efficiently that it can even overtake my own telepathic abilities. In other words, I need a device so good that it could even deceive myself."
-But such brilliant device does not exist Master.-
"Oh you can certainly not find it on sale in the local department stores." He took his laserscrewdriver out of his breast pocket. "But what does not exist can be built, as long as I've got the right parts, that is."
The Toclefane understood what was about to happen, and accepted it.
I gladly sacrifice my life for my Lord and Master. – It stated with its emotionless metallic voice.
"Glad you offered. Now I don't need to say please." And without a moment of hesitation, he shot the Toclefane out of the air.
Next time: The Master and Donna meet again, on board of the Valliant.
In the meantime, if this story pleases you, please leave a review or comment. It motives me to wrote more.