A soft whine of electric tension filled the air; signalling the arrival of a temporal craft, the particular noise did not resemble any that were currently engaged in the temporal battles on this edge of the Time War. Slowly and methodically a time craft whispered into reality, the electric almost whispering tension in the air fading as it solidified its presence in the space.
For a moment, it remained in its new environment. It made no attempt to blend in, no attempt to be anything other than what it was.
Then the door to the inner environs of the time craft opened to reveal a Dalek and a human being.
"We're underground, were we meant to land underground?" Asked the Dalek in an uncharacteristically Dalek tone.
The human who followed the Dalek out shrugged as he waved something about gesturing with it in an almost expectant manner. "Not sure, it couldn't be as easy as last time."
The Dalek moved further away from the time craft, the human too moved on a parallel diagonal away from the time craft, as he did the door closed to its internal dimensions.
The human sniffed the air as the Dalek's eye piece swung around the cavernous space that their time craft had landed in.
"Something?" The Dalek queried.
The human wrinkled his nose. "Something doesn't feel right."
"Because you're sniffing the air like a Pakhar," countered the Dalek.
The human waved the device he was holding around, energy coming from it as he did so. "Strands of something around here."
"He didn't say exactly why this was a significant planet," mused the Dalek.
"I'm just glad we found him," the human said as he reached inside his cloak into a jacket he was wearing within its protections and squeezed something, throwing it into the furthermost section of the space the time craft had landed in. It bathed the area in a cold blue-white glow.
"Roaming around doesn't exactly fill me with glee, especially out here," the human said as he gestured at the strands of fibre that were around space.
After a moment he pocketed the object and removed an energy scanner from another pocket.
"Anything?" The Dalek asked in an arched tone.
The human shook his head. "Indeterminate, just..." he shook his head trailing off. "A feeling, nothing more," the human paused and smiled seemingly to himself at a joke he had made, but not vocalised. "We should probably split up, we can cover more ground that way."
"Very well, I'm going to exterminate anything that gets in my way," the Dalek said.
"As we're looking for her, that's probably wise," the human mock shuddered. "There's something about this place."
"I know," the Dalek drawled. "Corridors."
Harry watched Oswin turn off at one of the forked corridors.
There was something about this place; where they'd materialised, immediately when they'd stepped outside the Timeship he'd felt it, the way that Oswin moved, he could feel that she felt it. It had overwhelmed any of the remotest sensation of relief of finding this place.
Just finding somewhere to start looking had been a bit of an ordeal. After discovering that Ginny wasn't the only Ginny it had made him broaden the search for her biodata, and he'd made the executive decision to drift the Timeship backwards towards the outskirts of the edge of the Time War, or something like that. He'd imputed the vaguest of coordinates into the Timeship, and hoped it would work it out. He still wasn't entirely sure how he should feel about the TImeship, but...they had to start somewhere.
And here they were, the edge of the Time War, rippling against reality, or something like that. It put him on edge.
This dead planet felt...not dead. There was something to it...it definitely registered something when they'd materialised here. The very chatty Dalek Time Controller had indicated this is where they were likely to find Ginny.
As he walked along the corridors he wondered what sort of expedition had been sent here, to do what? He wasn't sure.
Whatever it was...it was making him nervous, like the space here, the dust and the copious amounts of...cobwebs? Were responding, reacting to him, maybe.
He heard the noise of extermination, much further away, but he put it down to Oswin blasting away at the cobwebs, she had said something similar to his feeling. That was why she'd come out of the Timeship in her Dalek guise, there was something...unnerving about this place, something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
It was like being in an old magical building, or down in the dungeons at Hogwarts, when he was a first year, all bottled up.
But why was it here on this dead planet?
"Cobwebs!" He heard Oswin shouting as a blast of projected energy ricocheted out along the corridor as a wave of sound.
Harry shook his head and tried to ignore Oswin blasting at shadows and tried to concentrate on the data that was being presented on his Ginny scanner; it wasn't much, the whatever it was around here was clouding the sensors.
It grated on all of his senses, something that he could barely even fathom. It was like nails on a chalkboard. It made him wonder if Oswin had the right idea.
According to the Dalek Time Controller, whom they'd found lurking with a fleet of saucers in the middle of the edge, near the wave...Harry still didn't quite understand the architecture and layout of the Time War or how it related to three dimensional space. Especially as it wasn't even as simple as a four dimensional event. It would need all eleven dimensions that he barely understood, plus some others thrown in for good measure.
Just finding this edge Time War felt like they were teetering on the edge, with basically luck that they hadn't toppled over the edge.
The small fleet of saucers seemed like it was an expedition, waiting to ambush, what he wasn't sure, there weren't any TARDISes out this far, that had been part of what unnerved him piloting the Timeship, they'd been able to get out here relatively easily. Easily at least compared to leaving the last saucer where he'd discovered he wouldn't just need to kill Ginny once but many times over.
The Time Controller had been lurking in its very own study when they'd materialsed on the saucer, and it had been very chatty after it had attempted to kill him. Which was especially galling considering both he and Oswin had established their rank on board the saucer to several Soldiers who were as courteous as a Dalek could be.
The Time Controller had...not so much explained, more presented its facts; that the Time Lords had come and gone, deploying a few of their weapons from the 'Omega Arsenal' during this – the 'First Segment' of the Time War, some of these weapons included 'Pythia elementals'. The Time Controller seemed to think this was significant, and Harry had feigned vague knowledge of it when the Time Controller had mentioned it during its presentation.
He knew of Pythia, he was sure the Doctor had mentioned it, long ago, probably. It was something to do with Gallifrey's deep and dark past history, when magic and superstition ruled rather than science and rational thought. Exactly what had changed and how that had happened Harry didn't know, or rather the Doctor hadn't told him, aside from 'oh, the Eye of Harmony, that's it Harry that's where it all started, old Omega with his hands, we had a bit of trouble with that'.
But what exactly they'd find here, aside from probably what they were looking for the Time Controller wasn't definite in its presentation of information.
Jabbing his wand out he aimed a spell at some of the thicker cobwebs to try and banish them; it didn't affect them much, but that wasn't proof that they were anything out of the ordinary, there were lots of things that you couldn't just banish.
That was never in the textbooks, about the exact extent of how some spells worked, it was like the textbook told one thing and the actual using it in reality another and the truth was a mix of both. Hermione had said something to the affect during one of their DADA sessions.
Harry frowned and wondered why he was thinking of Hogwarts, at a time like this. Maybe it was to escape the reality of the corridors, cobwebs and confines of where he now found himself?
He tried not to grit his teeth against these weird sensations of memory and...something else, something just off of his perception.
"Anything? Anything Harry?" The annoyed tones of Oswin echoed through the corridors. He wasn't sure if she was calling out to him or in simple annoyance.
When they'd materialised in outer-outer orbit...or space, they hadn't been able to materialise in a close orbit, the planet hadn't seemed anything out of the ordinary, not this weird sensation weird. Just a somewhat dead world.
He wished that they'd been able to have a saucer some with them, but they were on an expedition or ambush or something. Maybe Dalek central command or whatever just wanted a group of survivors on the edge of the start of the Time War, in case things went tits up and they needed a rescue from somewhere.
...of course, he knew that that would happen, just not with the fleet they had met earlier.
However he didn't like not having an attack squad of Daleks to back him up. Even though where they were here, the threat was intangible; just...cobwebs.
"And no sign of spiders...?" Harry wondered aloud to himself as he looked around some more, feeling his way around the space. It felt like whatever it was, was just on cusp of all of his senses.
Gesturing with his wand around again he mused on the corridors and a path to take. What he wanted was to find Oswin and go back to the Timeship. But this place was a lead, it was definitely 'other' if not exactly magical and so far he'd not seen any evidence of magic in the Time War except at the hand of a witch.
Something about them made him not want to touch them, the cobwebs, rather than the corridors, he suddenly realised this with a jolt, or it might have been the noise of Oswin exterminating the cobwebs nearby.
The realisation that they set them so on edge that Oswin had elected to come out of the TImeship in her Dalek guise, and had started exterminating the cobwebs almost immediately, two things she'd not done much so far.
Not with the same voracity as she'd done today.
"Oswin!" Harry called out in a wary tone; their communications had failed to function after they'd got a short ways down the corridor, likely whatever it was that had also indicated they'd need to forgo any regular torch and use necessitated the use of the bioluminescence packs, a lumos spell could only illuminate so much, especially if he needed to shoot at something with his wand.
"Harry," Harry felt the presence of a Dalek behind him; seeing her in his peripheral vision.
"Try not to exterminate any of the cobwebs, I feel like I'm working something out," he slowly said as he paused and began to go through his inner pockets again, hunting inside one of the pockets where he'd stuffed an expanding bag inside to try and locate a jar.
"Like something is just on the edge of perception," Oswin mused in her Dalek tones.
"It's like all the feelings of being in a magical environment turned up..." Harry trailed off as his fingers finally found purchase on a jar.
"Magical cobwebs?" Oswin made a noise that might have sounded like a snort of doubt, but as a Dalek her lights just seemed to light up for longer than usual. "Why, why do that?"
"Buggered if I know," Harry said as he scooped up some of the cobwebs and pushed it into the jar with his wand, sealing it up as he did so.
Disappointingly the surrounding cobwebs did not react, they didn't shift, they didn't grow, they didn't do anything, they were just; cobwebs.
"The ends, they look like they're melting," Oswin said as she moved forward aiming her gun at the ends of the cobwebs. "Maybe I should blast the edges, see what they do?"
Harry moved closer, "You've obviously got better eye sight in the gloom."
Oswin's eyestalk swivelled around to him and then back to the cobwebs.
They were melting, the edges, like some sort of residue left from potion making.
Looking at the jar he could see the edges inside it were slowly forming a mush as well, now that they were disconnected from the main bulk.
"I don't think Ginny is here," he said looking around. Whatever it was that was here, she wasn't, it didn't feel right. "Nothing feels right here."
"You've got that right, I've been on edge since we left the Timeship, thought blasting everything would make me feel better," Oswin gave a little bit of a twitch.
Harry gave her a smile, there was just so...so...he still thought he lacked the lexicon to really describe how he felt about Oswin, as a Dalek, in her human existence he could almost quantify what he thought, but as a Dalek, she was so much more perplexing. And when she switched, almost in the blink of an eye well, that was even more so...perplexing. In part it felt like it was bending to the point of breaking a part of his brain, trying to understand it. It felt natural, in a sort of animagus-magical sort of way, and then, not, like his brain rebelled against that sort of thinking. The Dalek before him was real and yet Oswin, her red dress and everything else was real too, he'd hugged her, felt the texture of the dress, her hair, it was...
"Hello, Harry?" Called a Dalek's voice, Oswin's.
Harry shook his head. "Distracted, puzzled."
"Do you think they're dangerous?" Oswin asked as she turned around the space, her eye and weapon moving in different directions as she surveyed the room slash larger bit of the corridor they were in.
Harry looked at the back of her as she moved around the room. "I challenge you Oswin, to name something around here that isn't dangerous. I feel like the sand beneath us could possibly swallow us up if we're not careful," Harry kicked it experimentally, it felt like it could.
"Aren't you chipper Harry Potter, is this what magic's always like?" Cynical tones of her Dalek voice teased. She at least sounded less irritated.
"Maybe splitting up wasn't such a good idea," he admitted.
"Feel safer now that I'm here?" Her gun twitched. "If you're finished, let's head back to the Timeship."
Harry nodded to her, "You lead the way."
"Why me?" She queried.
"You're the armour plated one," Harry said.
"You're the magical one Harry," Oswin countered, Harry glared at her eyestalk.
"You're carrying me if I get swept up-" Harry began.
He was interrupted by Oswin. "By a plot of your ex girlfriend?"
"Or something the Time Lords or their allies have left," Harry pondered as he led the way back towards the Timeship; following the path that he and Oswin had trod into the sand and dust.
It felt a relief to be inside the Timeship, even though it had none of the warmth that the TARDIS had. It was more like a cool...Harry wasn't sure. It certainly wasn't unwelcome, but it was very...modernist in here.
While it was a Dalek Timeship it didn't look like any Dalek ships or technology he'd been exposed to of late. Everything thus far was very warsomehow more so than the saucers he'd encountered before. Maybe it was just the sense, the feeling...the atmosphere of the Time War.
The Timeship was from an earlier period, it had a different sense about it, it was modernist, oddly calming and non-threatening, like it was from something that considered things beyond conquering and destroying.
Or maybe that was when they were all about that, and it was only now that they had to focus on the eleven or however many dimensions that their attitude to interior design had changed. Either way, the interior had an almost retro-future-modernist sort of look to it. In a similar to how K9 looked retro and chunky despite being from the 51st century or his original design had been at least.
"You think we can rest here or should we leave the creepy corridors first?" Oswin asked as she walked with him into the control room.
Nothing was registering as dangerous on any of the instruments, although nothing had registered as dangerous when they'd materialised.
Yet there was something.
"There's nothing dangerous..." he trailed off. "I didn't get shot at out there," he added.
"No, but we both felt it Harry, even as my armoured self, it was..." she screwed up her face in annoyed thought.
"The journey here was safe enough, but I want to investigate the cobwebs more, so maybe waiting here might not be a good idea," Harry said as he moved over to the controls and dematerialised the Timeship, shifting the controls for them to mostly just 'sit' in the vortex.
"There's nothing around us, here, I don't think," Oswin said in halting tones as she looked at the sensors.
"Hopefully out here on the edge of the cusp of the tip of the segment of the Time War there isn't."
Oswin just gave him a look. "Your command of the language is fascinating Harry," she commented and then softened her expression. "But I understand the lexical gap, it troubled me, when I first had to contextualise it..." she trailed off looking to the sensors again.
Harry looked at her back for the moment and peeled away to his 'work room'.
It was one of several rooms that were off the corridor that went around the control room; his bedroom was on the opposite side of the craft. Extracting the jar of cobweb material he put it on one of the benches and sighed.
The room itself was mostly empty, he realised he'd need to go and grab some of his wizarding materials upstairs where he'd dropped it all.
The 'upstairs' was reached by the central lift at the back of the control room. He had a feeling that the Timeship wasn't as infinite as the Doctor's TARDIS supposedly was.
But the upstairs that the lift went to definitely had a feeling of being the secondary space to the spaces his room, the food machine, weapons storage and other areas like that were.
It wasn't that the ceiling was lower, he'd measured that, it was just...maybe the lighting was different to signal that this was a different space. Maybe it wasn't at all different perhaps he was just projecting or something.
There was a large storage room up here where he'd dumped out the contents of his expanding bags, more or less. That hadn't been necessary, he'd ensured he brought the toughest of the tough expanding bags, both for daily usage and the bring his equipment in, but it was simpler to dump it all out than a pile of bags in the corner of a room.
He'd not really thought about this room since he'd dropped everything in here, finding Ginny, or rather that first Ginny had been easy enough, he hadn't needed all the materials he'd brought with him. Too easy, that was what he'd said or at least thought about that. Now it seemed a mammoth task.
Harry closed his eyes for a moment as he tried to think of what he needed to take down to his lab and looked around, stepping carefully between the not so much rows of items and gathered up one of the spare bags he'd left in here.
"I thought you were going to move some of this to your alchemy lab on the proper level," Oswin asked as she walked in looking around.
"I wanted to get stuck in to the search, and then I thought I'd leave it to a quiet time to sort out," Harry called as he grabbed another spare expanding bag and slipped a chest of potions materials inside it.
"And now?" Oswin asked as he moved around the room filling bags up with stuff.
"Now I need to do some magical research, I thought it'd be just point and shoot at Ginny," Harry said walking back over to the door, slipping a few other protective boxes and other equipment within another bag.
"Never that easy Harry," she said as she took one of the bags he was holding.
"Thought you might be having a rest," Harry wondered.
Oswin gave him a look. "Why'd you think that?"
"After..." Harry trailed off. "Shooting stuff as a Dalek, I thought..." he trailed off again as a look of gentle amusement played across Oswin's features.
"It's all still me Harry, just different," she said as they walked into the lift.
Harry opened his mouth but found that the moment to ask more questions about that had gone as they'd stepped into the lift.
Oswin had left him to unpack everything from upstairs, Harry was glad for it, he needed to do something methodical and allow his mind to wander and return to equilibrium a bit.
Harry exhaled and jotted some ideas down on a pad of paper as he pondered the web-like material that was now secured inside a hazardous material box off to the side.
He had a few potion bases brewing to test the cobweb material in.
From his testing of it so far with spells and energy scanners all he could discern from it was that it probably existed. But more broadly it was probably created through a magical means, maybe. But why it was there, what it was for and how were all questions that remained...questions.
Harry leant back on his chair and groaned, wondered why it couldn't just be so simple firing a spell at someone? He closed his eyes as he leant back, just trying to clear his mind, or think clearly, or...something. It felt like he had strands, or...webs, he smirked to himself as he continued to ponder the ceiling, with his eyes closed. There were all of these strands of information and ideas floating about and he wasn't sure what it all meant.
"Sleeping or are you still musing on the Timeship's aesthetics?" Asked Oswin's voice as she tapped him on the shoulder as he opened his eyes he saw a mug with something hot in it.
"Tea?" He took the proffered mug. He had brought an amount of tea with him, he'd even unpacked some of it. But Oswin seemed to be able to conjure it out of the food machine within the Timeship. Despite having read the manual the Eternal had provided more than half a dozen times he'd still not figured out the quirks of it.
"Thought you could use one, I did," she shuddered. "Too much shouting at cobwebs."
"They have enough characteristics that were it on Earth I'd have thought it were magical," Harry gestured a small phial that was behind a screen, a tiny amount of cobweb and a few drops of a prepared potion he'd brought with him. Together the potion and cobweb were currently arguing the differences of thermodynamics together.
"We're not on Earth Harry. And if your ego needs more stroking you're the foremost magical expert anywhere within a few parsecs of here," Oswin said in a tone that Harry couldn't work out if she was being sarcastic or not. Or he'd just spent too much time around or waiting for Judith to chime in.
Harry chuckled to himself. "I feel like if this were an alien problem I would be thinking 'wouldn't it be easier if the Doctor were here'. I think I might descend into hysterics if he turned up now."
"If anyone's going to get into hysterics it's me Harry, it took me decades to work out the other side of me. Yet here I am, working with the Daleks," Oswin said in a moment of cold clarity that revealed another part of her to him.
Harry opened his mouth to say something, but instead sipped his tea, whenever Oswin brought him tea it was always black and always seemed to have some tea leaf residue in it. Not that he minded. But it did make him wonder where it was coming from.
He'd thought about just asking the Timeship for some tea, but he still wasn't quite sure about the relationship he had with the Timeship. It certainly wasn't the Doctor's or even the Master's TARDIS. This temporal craft had an altogether different feeling about it. It was after all a Dalek craft.
But one he had crammed full of his stuff, slept in it, ate in it, showered in it, and plotted the next destination to kill a facet of someone he once considered a friend and partner.
"Not its aesthetics, just..." Harry trailed off as he picked up Oswin's earlier observation before she'd brought him the tea. It had stirred something as he, not for the first time thought back to Hogwarts, where life had been more complicated, or it had seemed like that. Where everything was neatly in houses and where sneaking into Slytherin seemed like a dangerous and cool thing to do. Gryffindor and Slytherin felt different. Bits of the castle felt different. And it wasn't just because Trelawney threw the incense around like she'd bought it in bulk or that the Slytherin common rooms were down in the dungeons, or that Griffindor was in a tower. There was something more...insubstantial.
The planet the Timeship had been parked on had an otherness to it.
"Like the TARDIS...and the Timeship and everything...not just telepathic, something..." Harry muttered to himself tapping the bench he was sat at in thought.
"You're muttering to yourself again Harry," Oswin smirked at him, at least he thought she was smirking, her tone of voice suggested that she was smirking.
Harry leaned back in the stool slash chair he was sat on in front of the bench cupping his mug of tea around his hands. "The Time Controller was very chatty wasn't he?" He mused on, pulling at another strand that had been in the back of his mind.
Oswin pulled the stool he was sitting on around and took the other chair in the room so he wasn't sat looking at the, now sealed up phial of not-cobwebs. "You said that after we left, after it had decided not to exterminate us."
Harry gave her a look that said he doubted she could be exterminated by it. "I was actually thinking about it and what my friend told me before I left-"
"Judith?" Oswin asked curiously.
Harry nodded. "Just because you're an ally of the Daleks, that doesn't stop them from being Daleks. Even if you've got whatever rank-"
Oswin interjected again. "They'll still be devious and manipulative, especially if they can get away with it."
"Especially" Harry repeated, taking up Oswin's comment "the more intelligent ones. And that Time Controller" he shook his head in thought. "The Eternal was too clever by half and this one seemed to think it knew what we wanted"
"Or needed" Oswin added.
"Especially after it worked out we were intelligent." Harry thought back to it. In a weird way it reminded him of the professors at Hogwarts, far too certain of its own intelligence.
"You think we should have pushed out rank more with the regulars?" Oswin asked.
"And let the Time Controller brood in its study," Harry nodded.
As the electric tension in the air, the whispering pulsing of the Timeship slipping into reality abated, Harry and Oswin stepped out to a waiting trio of Daleks. The regulars, bronze Soldier Daleks, the ones that seemed to be the overwhelming number of Daleks in the Time War.
"Sorcerer, Dalek Mage. You have returned. The Time Controller will be informed." One of them said by way of a greeting.
"No," Harry said in a short tone, in Dalek, his use of their native tongue gaining the attention of all three. "Take us to the command deck, I would speak with the Black Dalek or Saucer Commander. Do not inform the Time Controller."
"We obey," the three Daleks chanted as they moved in practiced ballet-style movement surrounding them, one either side and one leading the way.
"Off we trot magic man," Oswin commented as she looked back at the Timeship. "So which is it, that's in charge here?" She addressed the Daleks around them. "Black or Saucer."
The lead Dalek's eyestalk swivelled around to look at them as it continued its motion forwards. "A Black Dalek is in command of this saucer."
"Excellent," Harry praised in Dalek as the lead Dalek's eyestalk swivelled back around.
The Black Dalek was waiting when they walked out onto the command deck, it was stood observing a screen showing the other saucers around them and some other things to do with ship movements.
"Sorcerer. Dalek Mage," it drawled in a way only a Dalek could do so.
"Oswin," Harry said to his associate.
"Right on it," she walked over to a vacant position on the command deck.
"The Time Controller sent us to this planet, explain its importance," Harry demanded in Dalek again, exercising his skills with the native Dalek language to add weight to his authority here. It seemed to gain him some attention from the Daleks in the room and the Black Dalek seemed to be gazing even more intently at him, although maybe that was just his imagination. He couldn't be sure.
The Black Dalek looked at the screen and then looked back to him and then to Oswin.
"Your instructions were delivered by the Time Controller, it will explain." It said and looked over to the door that led to the Time Controller's study as it slid open.
"That's called passing the buck," Oswin commented, she'd managed to sidle up beside him without making any noise. Harry was getting used to her ability to do that, even in her red dress human guise.
While the door was open, no Dalek came out and none of the Daleks on the command deck seemed willing to trundle in.
Harry looked back at the Black Dalek who looked from Harry to Oswin to the door. "Time Controller, report to command."
"He sounds annoyed," Oswin commented beside him.
Harry looked to her. "You're the one who said throw our weight around, rank and all."
"I'm beginning to think the Time Controller's way outside the normal rank structure," Oswin mused.
"That'd explain why he's not showing himself," Harry paused. "Oh, look."
"My presence has been requested," the Time Controller trundled out of its study looking around the command deck, it stopped moving when it saw Harry and Oswin.
"Explain, why did you send us to this planet?" Harry cursed the planet for not having a name. He was loathed to read out its coordinates especially as he wasn't sure how you cited the temporal coordinates, relative to where they were or how they related when in a temporal craft. If he was honest with himself he only just had the flimsiest grasp on some things that he was doing.
"Explain?" It asked, as though it hadn't been ordered to do such a thing before.
"Explain to the Sorcerer why you directed the Sorcerer and Dalek Mage to the planet to seek their target," the Black Dalek repeated his question.
Oswin looked at Harry, Harry gave her an amused though surprised expression.
Harry again wondered if Dalek morale were a thing, after all they were here sitting on the edge of the Time War, doing a job of observation while the Time Controlled pondered in his study. But the Eternal, back in his own time had sent several Daleks into the temporal distortion trying to work out the Timship's malady and the Soldier's resolve, despite or maybe because of his questioning did not waver. The subject had formed part of one of the chapters of his Dalek Psychology book (currently titled 'Daleks: The Survivors'). He'd probably dedicate a subsection in his chapter on the Time War to it as well.
Although at times he wondered why he ever thought about writing it, who'd publish or read it after all?
"Yes, Time Controller, explain why you sent" Harry paused and remembered rank not names. "The Mage and I to that planet, did you listen to me when I was here last seeking the individual associating with the Time Lords?"
The Time Controller looked between him and Oswin before moving slightly more into the middle of the room. "There was data that suggested she was associated with that location. You gathered evidence of Time Lord actions at the planet?"
Harry started to open his mouth to confirm that they'd found the weird cobwebs but closed it. "Is that it? You sent us as a scout?" Harry demanded, continuing his questions in Dalek native, despite all the Daleks speaking English around him. He'd got into the groove of it now. "You sent the Mage and I on a wild-" Harry stopped himself and noticed out of the corner of his eye Oswin give him an amused look. What he wanted to say was 'wild goose chase', but that phrase didn't translate well into native Dalek. The Daleks no longer had a word for bird, let alone goose, the closest was 'small winged creature'. "A...a wild Drammakin Lake mutation chase looking into a planet that you didn't want to dip your plunger into?" Harry demanded, again out of the corner of his eye he could see Oswin silently clapping.
"Your investigation was worthy, information in the timelines suggested that the individual you are seeking may have been present, Sorcerer." The Time Controller seemed to add his rank almost as an afterthought. Which probably meant it was deliberate.
"How many other planets are there that you think that she may have been there?" Harry pondered and shook his head as the lights of the Time Controller lit up as it was about to speak. "Don't bother. Where is she, where would you have sent us if we came back, said she wasn't there and sent us on again?"
"We are not your scouts to do as you wish Time Controller," Oswin said in a cool tone.
"Reveal the data to the Sorcerer, Time Controller," the Black Dalek beside him edged forward slightly.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "I am sure I could extract the data from you computer systems Time Controller," Harry paused, switching to English as he couldn't be menacing and call up his lexicon of Dalek words to threaten the Time Controller all at once. "You're devious, you're manipulative."
"If you're fighting the Time Lords you'd need to think down to their level, and across the timelines Time Controller." Oswin added.
"Give us the information we need and we'll be on our way," Harry paused. "Make it difficult and I will take the information and upset whatever plans you have in motion," Harry paused and looked around the command deck. "I don't think these Daleks would care about your plans, sitting in wait for you."
Oswin had somehow shifted to stand beside him during his speech. "Bold move, might get you killed," she said softly.
"It's only the Daleks," Harry let out a slight laugh as he remembered where he was standing and what he was doing and when he was. "You shouldn't remind me Oswin."
"Just making sure you're still human Harry, you can't bark orders at a Dalek all of the time," she muttered as the Time Controller had taken the time that they're been conversing to consider what they'd said and looked like it was ready to speak again.
"The information will be provided to you Sorcerer," the Time Controller turned around to a console that was occupied by a Dalek, it turned around to look at the Time Controller and then to the Black Dalek.
"Allow the Time Controller access," the Black Dalek said in even more of a monotone than usual.
The Time Controller said something before swivelling around to the console. "The Time Lords have constructed several munitions factories on the following planets. Defensive and relay planets form part of this network. Your target may be located at the factories."
"Can't help but notice the non-definitive statement there Time Controller," Oswin commented.
"Interactions involving the Time Lords cannot be certain," the Time Controller countered.
"Even here on the edge of the Time War, emptiness raging against us, the rush of its wake lapping on the hull?" Harry wondered and then mused if his observation would be too poetic for the company he was keeping.
"They are unpredictable," the Time Controller continued on.
"Limited." The Black Dalek deciding now was the time to come back into the conversation.
Harry looked to Oswin who nodded that she'd got the information. "What's to stop me exterminating you now?"
"Why?" The Time Controller's tone suggested curiosity rather than surprise.
Harry shrugged, "Maybe you've just annoyed me, that we had to go to the planet of paranoia for nothing."
The Time Controller's eye swivelled between Harry and Oswin and to the Black Dalek.
Oswin took Harry's arm as they walked away from the lift back to the Timeship. "He's probably going to wonder why you asked that question and if you were telling the truth."
Harry shook his head. "Far too..." he trailed off as he failed to summarise his thoughts about the Time Controller. It wasn't just that he was annoyed being sent on a goose chase.
"It's the air of even greater superiority it shows," Oswin offered as they got to the Timeship.
Harry went to place his hand on the side of the ship that was the Eternal had said, and what was in the manual, that was how the Timeship read his biodata to allow him and Oswin entry, but he'd only half raised his hand and the door started to open to grant them access. It was a nice concession.
As they walked in and the door closed Harry finally allowed himself to relax.
"Better?" Oswin asked as they walked into the central room and she started to input the coordinates.
Harry nodded, exhaling. "I should have blown him up. The tension on that command deck was palpable," he paused and looked to the spinning modernist square line drawings on the wall that were motionless when they weren't in flight. He closed his eyes for a moment.
"Why didn't you Harry? No one would have objected. The Black Dalek seemed pissed on your behalf," Oswin asked.
Harry shook his head. "Because of where we are, I think."
"On the edge of the wave of the bow of whatever?" Oswin laughed.
"Were you tempted?" Harry asked opening his eyes to look at her.
Oswin smiled. "I'm not much for the conquering and destroying Harry. That's for the Daleks," Oswin paused as Harry reached past her to adjust the coordinates slightly, she looked at him with bright passion in her eyes. "I'm more than just another Dalek."
"Indeed you are Oswin," Harry pondered. "I never thought otherwise."
This chapter is sort of 'part 1' to next chapter's part 2. Or maybe this is the pre-titles sequence to next chapter's proper episode.
As last chapter mostly leapt head first into the action I wanted to give a little bit of a look into the scale of what Harry and Oswin are facing in a slightly more quiet setting.
I have been trying to use terminology of the Time War and the 'First Segment' is one such term that's used to describe the 'first bits' of the Time War. I'm still not exactly certain where the 'start' of the Time War is, but this chapter is about as early as there are words for it.
"Electric tension" is one of the few phrases I've found that describes the noise the Timeship (in the Chase / Master Plan) makes when it materialises.
Thanks for reading.