Secret location, somewhere near London : 2009
They had pulled over to the side of the road, and Avon was beginning to feel decidedly exposed as he studied his surroundings. There wasn't a sign of civilisation in any direction, and he knew that this century's satellite surveillance technology was barely worth the name.
It made him feel uneasy.
"Your friend is late," he said, shortly, as he straightened.
"Give her a chance," Gwen told him, as she took another fried vegetable chunk out of the paper bag she was holding. Avon wrinkled his nose as she ate it. She seemed to be enjoying her meal, but he was actually beginning to feel nostalgic for the tasteless food supplements on the Liberator.
"Are you sure you don't want a chip?" she asked, mistaking his attention for interest.
"No, thank you," he said flatly.
"You haven't eaten since we've left Wales," Ianto pointed out.
"I'm sure they're very appetising," Avon said. "But I think I'll abstain, for the moment. I seem to remember heart surgery was rather a messy business during this time period."
"Ah, sarcasm," Gwen snorted. "Didn't see that coming!"
Ianto's phone began to ring, and Avon glared at him impatiently as he answered it. "Yeah, we're here…where are you?" There was a distant rev of an engine, and Avon raised an eyebrow as a vehicle appeared over the top of hill.
"Forget I asked,"" Ianto said, before clicking the phone closed.
"Lets hope your Martha Jones is as trustworthy as you say, I have little liking for being marooned in this century indefinitely," Avon said.
"Trust me, the feeling is mutual," Ianto drawled, as the jeep pulled up beside their SUV, and a petite young woman jumped out. He recognised her from the video feed at the hub.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," she said, once she was within earshot. "They'll court-martial me for sure."
"Sorry, hun, we didn't have time to go through the proper channels and, with the Master involved and the Doctor not answering his phone, we need to act fast," Gwen said hurriedly.
A frown crossed Martha's face. "He always answers his phone," she said quietly. "Something's wrong."
"You think he's in trouble?" Gwen asked.
Martha gave her a wry smile. "The Doctor is always in trouble," she said.
"Reminds me of someone I know," Avon said.
She gave him a cool look "And you're Kerr Avon, man from the future, running around in Jack's body," she said.
"Funny, you don't seem in any way fazed by that," he said.
"I've seen stranger things," she said, as she opened her boot and pulled out a carry bag. "We need to move fast. The IDs will be good for a few hours, but no longer." She opened the bag, and revealed a pile of uniforms. "Put these on."
Ianto smirked as picked up one of the red caps. "I always wanted one of these," he said
Gwen rolled her eyes. "So Jack told us…. repeatedly," she said.
An Unnamed Planet: Third Century of the Second Calendar.
Jack's new cell was a little less steam punk than the last cell the Master had held him in, but the chains were still unbreakable and firmly attached, and the food was still awful.
One thing had changed, however. The Master now hit like a girl.
It hurt a lot more.
"Tell me what the Doctor's plan is," the Master hissed, crouching over him, and giving him a disturbingly attractive view of her breasts.
"I told you, the Doctor doesn't even know you're still alive," Jack muttered, through his swollen mouth.
"Oh Jack, Jack, Jack, why don't I believe you?" the Master said.
"You have a cynical nature?"
As surreal moments go, even Jack had to admit this made it into his top ten. The Master smirking down at him, sporting a skimpy black leather feathered concoction, that wouldn't seem out of place on a stage, in a Gothic rendition of the Follies Begiere. This was even a little too camp for his tastes - and that was saying something.
"Is this where you break into song and tell me how a Tardis is a Time Lady's best friend?" he asked aloud, wondering if he was suffering from a concussion, as he usually came up with a better comeback.
The Master was evidently thinking the same thing. 'Jack, Jack, Jack, is that really the best you can do?" she drawled, 'We'll definitely have to change that.' She pulled a slender metal cylinder from her cleavage, and Jack resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he unscrewed it. The Master seemed to be having a lot of fun with his new persona as a femme fatale. It would be funny if it wasn't so terrifying.
A metallic, artificial arachnid crawling out of the tube.
"Do you like my new friend?" the Master asked, in that deceptively friendly tone she used
when she had something particularly nasty in mind. Jack watched as the tiny AI extended its eight legs and skittered down the side of the tube, only pausing when it reached the back of the Master's hand.
"I'll admit, I'm not exactly overcome with warm and fuzzy feelings," Jack drawled, trying not to show the fear in his voice. "Where are the others?"
"They've been made…useful," the Master purred, not taking her eyes away from the glint of the artificial spider's legs are it crept up to the tip of her forefinger.
"And what are you going to do with that?" he asked reluctantly.
The Master glanced up, and smirked evilly. "Do you want to hear a little Gallifreyan history?" she asked softly. "The real stuff, not the censored drip the Doctor has fed you."
"Yeah, because you're Mister Truth and Honesty," Jack drawled.
The Master's smile widened. "Once upon a time, before the age of Rassilon, the Time Lords were a powerful and cruel race, who killed for power and sport. During that time, they created many devices designed to hurt and humiliate and kill. We were very, very good at it."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Does this speech have a point?" he asked.
"Oh, I always have a point," the Master said. "And this time, my point is the Chameleon Arch."
"What's that got to do anything?" Jack asked softly.
The Master smiled widely. "Everything." Her finger flicked, and the arachnid fell onto his shoulder. Jack twisted in his restraints, but he couldn't shake the little machine's slow and inexorable climb up his neck.
"What's it going to do?" Jack asked hoarsely as the artificial arachnid homed in on his ear.
"It's going to steal your memories," the Master said. "And hack you genome sequence, just like the Chameleon Arch was originally designed to do...isn't it pretty?"
The Black Archives: 2009
It looked like a very well kept warehouse, hidden in the middle of nowhere; its security was laughable. The hairs at the back of Avon's neck rose. "I don't like this," he said softly, as they pulled in front of the building's entrance. "It's too quiet."
Martha frowned. "He's right," she admitted. "Someone should have come out to meet us by now."
Gwen leaned forward in her chair. "You reckon it was the IDs?" she asked.
Martha shook her head thoughtfully. "No, we'd be surrounded by now, if that were so," she said. "Something else is going on here."
Avon pulled out a gun. "Let's get this over with," he said grimly.
"Hey, where did you get that?" Ianto asked sharply.
"I liberated it from your armoury before we left; any more inane questions?" Avon asked flatly.
"We don't have time for this" Gwen said, as she hopped out of the jeep. Avon sighed as the others followed suit.
"Why is it I always end up with the heroes," he asked rhetorically. "It's never good for my health." He jumped out after them, gun raised, as they pushed though the Archive's main doors.
"Something is definitely up," Martha said, as they eyed the empty corridor. Gwen and Ianto pulled out their guns, and Avon eyed Martha, who remained empty handed. "Where's your weapon?" he asked.
"I'm a Doctor," she said briefly. "I don't use guns."
He threw her a disbelieving look. "What, exactly, are you hoping to do if we encounter resistance? Subdue them with your bedside manner?"
"I'll think of something," she said, with a crooked grin. "I usually do."
"I feel so reassured," he drawled, letting her lead the way…all the easier for her to draw fire. After all, Avon thought, if she insisted on making a martyr of herself, who was he to object?
"I'm picking up something strange…an energy spike," Ianto said, looking at the PDA screen in his hand.
"Direction?" Martha called back.
"Below us," Ianto said, "In the archive proper."
Gwen sighed. "Anyone else thinking that this feels like a set up?"
Avon threw her a dark look. "Is that a joke?"
"Children, children, no fighting in the corridors," Ianto muttered.
"The main elevator is straight ahead, but there is a service elevator at the other end of the building. Whoever it is, they may not know about it."
"Better than nothing I suppose," Ianto said with a grim look. Martha led the way down a side corridor, moving cautiously. Avon eyed the closed doors on either side of them. Not a sound, not a hint of a whisper.
"Wait," he hissed lowly, he moved against the wall, and gently prodded a door open a couple of inches. He spotted the body on the floor beyond. It was official, somebody had gotten here before us. Damn it, he hated it when he was right.
"Well, that's torn it," Gwen muttered, over his shoulder.
"We don't have time for this," Ianto said. "Let's go."
They found their second body in the elevator, and Avon watched as Martha checked for a pulse, and them grimly rolled the corpse into the corridor. "Let's go," she said coldly, and Avon found himself re-evaluating her yet again. The doors slid closed and the elevator trundled downward. It was longer trip than he'd expected, and the elevator was old and noisy.
"They're going to hear us coming," Gwen said, voicing his thoughts aloud.
"Against the sides," he said, and they silently followed his order as the doors opened.
A solitary woman waited for them, standing between them, and a huge cavernous space, that Avon presumed was the archive.
"Lucy Saxon," Martha breathed.
"Not exactly," the woman drawled lazily, "Although she is nearby." She raised her hand and showed off the signet ring that rested on her forefinger. "The silly woman thought that she had the willpower to overcome me, and force me onto this thing, through the vortex manipulator." She smiled slowly. "She was wrong."
"Servalan," Avon bit out.
Servalan blinked, and laughed out loud. "Avon? Is that you?"
"As if you didn't know," he hissed, taking a step forward, gun raised.
Servalan snapped her fingers, and a line of troops stepped out of the shadows.
"They're the same species as the ones who broke into the hub," Ianto said quietly.
"You don't say," Avon said flatly. "What a coincidence – what do you want, Servalan?"
"Why, isn't it obvious?" she asked archly. "I want the same thing as you. I want to go home."
Avon took a moment to digest her words, before he came to a realisation. "The Master has your body," he said.
"So it seems," she agreed.
"Is that bad?" Gwen asked softly.
"Servalan is the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation. Whole worlds crumble and die at the flick of her signature…yes, I'm guessing it's a very bad thing."
"Oh, Avon, you always know how to say the nicest things."
"Only a psychotic would think that, Servalan."
"And you should know," she countered, with a knowing smirk.
Ianto rolled her eyes. "Why don't you two just get a room, and leave us out of it."
Servalan quirked an eyebrow, and Avon smiled humourlessly. "No thank you, I do have some inkling of self preservation."
"And yet I see an alliance of sorts in our future," she said. "Unless, you've become inordinately fond of this century, and your new…body." Her eyes travelled up and down, and Avon found himself strangely discomfited.
"What do you propose, Servalan?" he asked.
"An exchange of information, what else?" she said. "Shall we begin?"
An Unnamed Planet: Third Century of the Second Calendar.
This was not the first time the Master had tortured Jack. He remembered with crystal clarity, those long days and nights on the Valiant. It was hard to forget the burning intensity in the Master's eyes as he had gouged out his name in his chest with a table knife and watched with greedy eyes as he healed in front of him. And that was only the beginning. After a few months, he got really inventive.
And yet, it seemed that no matter how long Jack lived, there was always something that could surprise him and, as the spider burrowed into his neo-cortex, and tore though his memories, what struck Jack was not the searing pain, but the answers the Master sought.
Was he hurt? Did he cry? Is he all alone now?
The pyre burned high in Jack's memories, and the Master gave a long sigh of pleasure.
"Good. Now tell me what you did with her."
"Her?" Jack asked, wincing as he heard the crack in his own voice. How long had he been here? How far had that thing dug into his mind.
An image formed in his mind. A slender blonde, fragile and broken, a weapon held in her nerveless fingers. He saw her through the Master's eyes. "Like Rose,"he thought.
"Like Romana," the Master added.
"I don't understand…" And Jack didn't. What had the Master's poor plaything got to do with anything?.
And then the Master's thoughts flooded through him, and he understood. She had the ring. She was supposed to follow him, once she'd found out what he'd needed to know.
"Did he suffer. Is he alone."
"You're one fucked up individual, did you know that?" Jack said aloud.
"I'm a Time Lord, boy, it kind of comes with the territory. Didn't you realise?" she asked, with a terrible, grim smile. "Shall we begin again?"