The drumming! It won't stop. No matter what he does, he can never escape it. The rhythm in his head was starting to overtake him, but he was soon brought back to the present as he heard Annie call out to him. "Sam! Hello, Sam? You okay?"
"Yeah," said the Master. "Yeah, I'm fine."
They were sitting at the bar having a drink after a hard day's work. Catching bad guys takes a lot out of a person; but being the bad guy isn't exactly effortless, either. So much planning, and then there's always someone trying to stop you- like the Doctor. But the Master got the last laugh. He recalled lying in the Doctor's arms. The Doctor was crying and screaming for him to just regenerate. Instead, he chose to die. Die? Yeah, like he'd ever actually choose to die! Avoiding death is one of his main motivations in life. The Doctor knew that, even called him out on it. So of course he would have a back up plan. The ring. It contained his biodata, kind of a mini Matrix Computer. He had based it on the Ring of Rassilon from that time he went to rescue the Doctor from the Death Zone. After all, they were friends once... And the Supreme Council did offer him a new life cycle.
He and the Doctor had been battling for a long time now, and the Doctor managed to always come out ahead. But guess what? The Master finally won. Well... Manchester in 1973 isn't exactly the greatest prize ever. But it has its moments. He looked thoughtfully at Annie. He watched as her eyes glimmered as she spoke of something that excited her.
It had been so long since there was another person whom he cared about. He left Gallifrey as an outcast centuries ago. The Doctor had been his last true friend, and look how that turned out. And then there was Lucy. He showed her the end of the universe. Finally, someone else was able to see the waste, too. At first it was just that he was flattered, but over time, he honestly believed it grew into love. That all ended when she shot him. That'll teach him to trust anyone... Oh, but Annie! She seems different; she really does care. Wait, what was he just saying about trusting people again...?
When he died, he awoke in 1973. There must have been a glitch in the ring.... There definitely must have been a glitch in the ring- DI Sam Tyler?! He hadn't signed up for this. A police officer- talk about poor job placement.
"So what do you think, Sam?" Annie asked.
"About what?" He hadn't been listening.
"About you and me seeing a picture this Saturday."
"Oh, yeah," the Master smiled. "I'd like that."
Gene sauntered over to the pair, holding a mug of beer in his hand. "Tyler!"
"Good work out there today."
"Thank you. That means a lot." The Master finally felt like he was fitting in to his surroundings. DI Sam Tyler could be going places soon.
"Geez, Dorothy, no need to get all sentimental now," said Gene.
Ray and Chris soon joined them and the conversation really got going. They were laughing at some stupid joke when all of a sudden the familiar four beats blasted in the Master's ears. He yelped in pain, and grabbed at the bar counter. "Are you alright, Sam?" Annie asked worriedly. "Do you need a doctor?"
The Master recovered and said, "A Doctor is the last thing I need. I'm fine; maybe just a little too much to drink?"
Annie backed off cautiously. She was very concerned over Sam's behavior, but let the moment end.
The Master had just started to forget the incident when the drumming became so loud that he let out a sharp scream and fainted.
He felt the cold, hard ground on his back as he opened his eyes to a blurred vision hovering over him. "Lucy..." he mumbled.
"Sam, it's Annie. Sam, can you hear me? Are you alright? Speak to me."
The Master slowly came to, and Annie helped him on to his feet and sat him on a stool. Nelson handed him a glass of ice water. It felt good down his throat, and he lifted the glass so that the condensation rubbed against his forehead.
"What just happened, Sam?" asked Annie.
"The drumming," he replied, rubbing the back of his head.
"I'm fine. Just give me a minute." He composed himself and said, "Must learn when to cut back."
"Pansy can't even hold his liquor," Gene piped in, slapping him on the back. Everyone moved on, but Annie didn't buy it, and stayed close to his side for the rest of the evening.
A few days later, the Master was sitting at his desk when Ray and Chris came in with a man they had put in cuffs. They forced him into the back room for interrogation. The Master didn't think anything of it as it was just normal procedure. But about fifteen minutes later, the front doors swung open as two men entered the police station. The Master froze at the sight of them. "I'd like to speak to your DCI," said a uniformed, dark haired man with a small mustache. In the next moment, Gene banged open his door and announced, "I'm DCI Gene Hunt, and who the bloody hell are you?"
"I'm Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart," said the man. "Head of UNIT. I understand that two of your fellows just brought in a man. He is to be handed over immediately for questioning."
"I'm not handing over nothing to you," said Gene. "I've never heard of UNIT."
"Now see here, old chap," said the other man who had come in; he was tall with white locks. "This is of grave importance and your hindering our operation may cause very serious negative repercussions."
"Look here, Nancy!" Gene shouted.
"You better let them have the guy, Guv," interrupted the Master.
"And why is that, Tyler?"
"Because they seem very urgent about it. And I mean, a brigadier. If you can't trust a military man..."
Gene stared at the Master harshly for a moment, then his face quickly softened. "Well, I suppose," he said. "But it ain't because of you, Tyler. I have a feeling in me gut that this is all on the up and up."
"Right," said the Master.
"Thank you," said the Doctor. He then turned to face the Master, "And you, too. You don't know how much good you have just done."
"No problem," said the Master.
"I'm the Doctor," he said, shaking the Master's hand.
"Inspector Sam Tyler."
The Doctor stared at him and paused. "Have we met before?"
"I don't think so. Does my face look familiar?"
"No," said the Doctor. "And that's the thing, but I feel I know you from somewhere."
"Perhaps we met when I was younger?" said the Master. "No, couldn't be. It's not like I've changed my features so drastically over the years; that would be quite impossible, wouldn't it?"
"Quite," said the Doctor, pensively, touching his fingers to his lips as he thought.
Chris and Ray brought the man they had in custody to the two visitors. The man was bruised and bleeding, though he hadn't arrived in that condition. "He's all yours," said the Guv.
"What's left of him," observed the Brigadier with a frown. He turned to the man. "Now tell me, Mr. Gordon, where is that device?"
"I don't know what you're talking about?" said Gordon defiantly.
"The one you stole."
"You obviously understand its significant value already," said the Doctor. "But think of its consequences."
"What does the device do?" asked the Master, his interest peeked.
The Doctor glanced at the Brigadier, then back at the Master. "To put it simply, it acts as a sort of television into the mind. It replays moments in your life for all to see."
"So no more skeletons in the proverbial closet," said the Master.
"You actually believe this, Tyler?" said the Guv. "I knew you were nutters, but I didn't think you could be this idiotic."
"Why shouldn't I believe him, Guv?" said the Master with a grin. "Anything is possible. If he had said this was an alien device from a superior race living millions of miles away, I'd have believed him then, too."
"Well," said the Doctor. "It is, in fact."
"You're both mad," cried the Guv. He turned to the Doctor. "You don't think you're from the future, too, do ya?"
The Doctor's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. "You're from the future?" he asked the Master.
"He thinks he time traveled here," said Gene. The Master stared at Gene with wide eyes; he had only ever told Annie about this. "Ya think I'm deaf, Sammy-boy?" explained the Guv.
"How?" asked the Doctor. The Master sighed, his bit of fun was coming to an end.
"Well, it wasn't in a big blue box, I could tell you that," said the Master sarcastically, lying back in his chair. "Really, Doctor! When are you going to fix that Chameleon Circuit?"
"Who are you?!" asked the Doctor, excitedly.
"You still can't guess, Doctor? And after all these years! I'm hurt...What if I were to grow a goatee?"
The Doctor fell back a few steps. "Master?"
"Finally. But I knew you'd get it eventually, Doctor."
"Yes, a few times," said the Master. "Actually, we might be breaking the laws of time right now; the last time I saw you, you were in your ninth regeneration."
"Ninth? Good gracious!"
"Wait," said the Brigadier, finally able to follow. "You mean to say that this fellow is the Master? The same man from the business with the Autons and the Axons and such?"
"The very same," said the Doctor with a frown.
"So he's managed to change his face, too?"
"Apparently," said the Doctor. "But I had thought you were on your final regeneration already?"
"Uh, uh," teased the Master, wagging his index finger. "No spoilers."
"What are you blokes talking about?" yelled Gene. "What's all this about changing faces?"
"You wouldn't understand," said the Master.
"Try me," said Gene.
"What would you say if I told you my name isn't really Sam Tyler?" he asked.
"Well then what the bloody hell is it?" asked Gene, on his last nerve.
"The Master," he replied.
"But what are you doing here?" the Doctor interrupted. "What's your scheme?"
"No scheme, Doctor. I'm stranded here without a TARDIS."
"The Time Lords got to you, too, aye?" said the Doctor, thinking about his own exile.
"No," he said. "It's a little more complicated than that, Doctor. Whereas yours is a punishment, mine is an accident."
"You mean the car accident, Sam?" asked Annie. The Master suddenly realized that everyone in the station was watching and listening to their conversation.
"I was never in a car accident, Annie. That was a lie. I'm not from Hyde, either."
"Sam, what are you talking about? You're not making any sense."
"I didn't think you would understand, Annie." Just then, the drumming grew louder, and the Master winced. The Doctor noticed.
"You alright?" he asked.
"The drumming," explained the Master.
"Yes, still," said the Master, greatly annoyed. "It won't ever stop."
"You know, he fainted the other day," Annie told the Doctor.
The Doctor looked towards the Master, "Is that true?"
"So what if I did," said the Master, defensively. "You only care about me when it benefits you."
"Nonsense," said the Doctor. "We were friends once, if you recall. And you're the one who has been trying to kill me. Not to mention murdering other innocent people."
"Oh," smirked the Master, meeting the Doctor's gaze. "I've done a lot worse than that. You just wait and see."
The Doctor frowned. "Maybe we should arrest you too while we're here."
"You ain't touching any of my officers," said Gene, who was very confused, but damned if he was going to show it..
"No," said the Doctor. "I have a better idea..." He walked over to a desk and wrote a letter, which he stuck in his inside jacket pocket.
"What's that?" asked the Master.
"Just a little note to myself,"said the Doctor with a smirk.
A few moments later, a familiar whooshing sound could be heard in the distance. "What did you do?" shouted the Master, jumping to his feet.
"If you can bend the rules, then so can I."
The station's doors opened wide as a tall, thin man in a pinstripe suit walked inside. He went right up to the Doctor so that they were face to face. "Brilliant!" he said with a smile. "Oh, I remember this cape, and the poofy shirt... You're a bit more wrinkly than I remember, though."
"Do I suffer from brain damage in my future?" said an irritated Doctor.
"Doctor, who is this man?" asked the Brigadier.
"Not another one!"
"Brigadier!" exclaimed the other Doctor, grabbing his old friend's hand. "How good to see you again. It's been a long time. But excuse me for a moment, there seems to be some business I must attend to."
"Now I know you're the Doctor," sighed the Brigadier.
"I saw the note," he said to his earlier self, pulling out his psychic paper. "Why did you summon me?"
"Look over there," the Third Doctor glanced off to the side. The Tenth Doctor turned to the specified direction and froze.
"Master? Bu... But you're dead!"
"Decidedly not," he responded.
"What are you doing here? And how did you get here?"
"Well, I designed a ring to hold my biodata. I wasn't actually going to let myself die. I mean, really now. And it's a good thing, too; always the women. Oh, Lucy! Such a disappointment."
"Who's Lucy?" asked the Third Doctor.
"His wife," said the Tenth Doctor.
"It's true. I couldn't believe it, either. She's human."
"What," said the Master. "So you're the only one who's allowed to fall in love with a human now?"
"You what?!" gasped the Third Doctor.
"It's not important for the moment," said the Tenth Doctor, hurriedly. He turned to the Master. "But where were we?"
"My wife," answered the Master.
"You have a wife, Sam?" asked Annie.
"Technically. Although, she shot me, so wouldn't that make her my widow? Well, no, I guess, since I'm still alive. And don't ask me for how long we've been married; that's a bit difficult to calculate, especially with that whole year that never was."
"Sam?" asked the Tenth Doctor, skeptically.
"DI Sam Tyler," said the Master proudly.
"Police officer? You?" said the Doctor. "You almost destroyed the entire universe and now you're putting petty thieves behind bars?"
"I know, right," said the Master, smiling. "But that's just the short-term plan. Maybe in a few years I'll run for Prime Minister."
"Stop it," said the Doctor angrily.
"Or maybe I'll just enslave the entire human race."
"Okay, that's it. You're getting on my last nerve."
"And what are you going to do about it?" sneered the Master.
The Doctor was silent.
The Master suddenly rose from his seat, saying, "Okay, I'm getting bored with this." He walked towards the door.
"Where are you going?" asked the Tenth Doctor.
"To steal your TARDIS."
"Oh no you don't."
"Fine," said the Master, pausing by the door. "Just as long as I get out of here. I'll even settle for that automobile of yours. What was it: Bessie?"
"Oh no you don't," said the Third Doctor.
The Master turned around to face them with a dejected expression. "I just want to leave." He let out a slight groan and rubbed his head. A smirk crossed his face as he leaned back against the wall. Looking down at the floor, he said, "Oh God! I'm pitiful."
"You can still come with me," proposed the Tenth Doctor.
"Haha... No, Doctor. I don't think that'll work out so well."
"No, maybe not," he agreed.
"Don't you like it here, Sam?" asked Annie, meekly.
The Master looked into Annie's eyes. "I do... but I don't. I can't explain it. I wasn't meant for this place."
"How can you say that, Sam?" asked Annie. "Think of all the people you've helped."
"You mean," said the Master, showing a slight smile. "'Maybe I'm here for a reason?'"
Annie smiled back, thinking of that time on the roof after she first met Sam. She slowly walked over to him. "Isn't there anything that could tempt you?"
The Master gently caressed Annie's cheek. "Tell me what I should do, Annie?"
"Stay," she said, as they gazed into each other's eyes. They were both about to lean in for a kiss when all of a sudden, the Master let out a piercing scream and collapsed to his knees.
"Sam!" shouted Annie, kneeling down beside him.
"Can you hear them?" he whimpered before passing out.
Both Doctors had also gathered beside the Master. "I've never seen him this bad before," said the Tenth Doctor.
"What's wrong with him?" asked Annie.
"The drumming. It's in his head. It's what drove him mad."
"Can you help him?" asked Annie, frantically.
"We can try," said the Tenth Doctor.
The two Doctors walked off to conference in the corner of the room. After some discussions, the Tenth Doctor asked, "Do you think it'll work?"
"There's no knowing until it's done," the Third Doctor replied, impulsively bringing his fingers to his lips as he thought.
They returned to the group huddled around the unconscious Master. "Gordon," asked the Third Doctor. "Where is that device? We need it to help him."
"I ain't telling," he replied.
Gene grabbed him by the collar and shoved him against the wall. "You tell us where it is or I'll beat the living shit outta ya!"
"Right. Fine. It's here." He pulled out a small electronic device from his pocket and handed it to the Third Doctor.
"What are you going to do with it?" asked the Brigadier.
"I'm going to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, thus negating the energy of brain activity it creates in the subject's head."
"In English, Doctor."
"Normally, this device magnifies brain activity through memory, but we're going to focus it so that it lessens the activity, namely the drumming in the Master's head," explained the Tenth Doctor. "It won't stop the drumming completely, but it should reduce its intensity." Thus said, the two Doctors set to work on the device. When they finished it, the Tenth Doctor pointed it at the Master, still lying on the floor.
All of a sudden, the station was filled with the percussion of four beats playing over and over. It grew so loud that everyone in the room was forced to cover their ears. It slowly died down, however, after a few minutes. Then, it was quickly replaced by an image of a middle-aged man with a goatee standing with the Third Doctor-MASTER: You must see reason, Doctor.
DOCTOR: No, I will not join you in your absurd dreams of a galactic conquest.
MASTER: (Exasperated.) Why? Why?! Look at this...
(The MASTER returns to the console and adjusts the view on the monitor. It expands to show numerous star fields.)MASTER: Look at all those planetary systems, Doctor. We could rule them all!
DOCTOR: What for? What is the point?
MASTER: The point is that one must rule or serve - that's a basic law of life! Why do you hesitate, Doctor? Surely it's not loyalty to the Time Lords, who exiled you on one insignificant planet?
DOCTOR: You'll never understand, will you? I want to see the universe - not rule it!
MASTER: Then I'm very sorry, Doctor!
(He raises his laser gun and takes aim.)
This image is quickly replaced by that of a rocky terrain. Another man dressed in black with a goatee, and a curly-headed man wearing a long scarf. In the background is an aged man, two young women, and a boy.
DOCTOR: We must pull our resources.
NYSSA: The creature that killed my father-
DOCTOR: I can't choose the company I keep!
MASTER: An alliance with you, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Under the circumstances, yes.
MASTER: If we do cooperate, there'll be no question of you ever returning to Gallifrey.
DOCTOR: If we don't cooperate, there'll be no question of Gallifrey.
TEGAN: Doctor, what are you doing!
DOCTOR (holding up his hand as a sign to silence): Wait. Shh. (To the Master) As Time Lords, you and I have special responsibilities.
MASTER (extending his hand): Together then?
This scene is then replaced by another. An image of Sam Tyler and the Tenth Doctor standing alone in a valley.
MASTER: Now it ends, Doctor! Now it ends!
DOCTOR: We've got control of the Valiant. You can't launch.
MASTER: Oh, but I've got this: black hole converter, inside every ship. If I can't have this world, Doctor, then neither can you! We shall stand upon this earth together as it burns!
DOCTOR (slowly moving forward): Weapon after weapon after weapon. All you do is talk and talk and talk. But after all these years, and all these disasters, I've always had the greatest secret of them all: I know you. Explode those ships, you kill yourself; and that's the one thing you could never do."
(He holds out his hand. The MASTER looks down at it.)
Give that to me.
(The MASTER hands it over.)
This image is replaced by another. Sam is sitting handcuffed to a radiator with Gene. A flustered man holding a gun approaches, reading an article.
REG: "Mr Cole was infuriated beyond reason with the injustices of a cheap world, obsessed with easy glory. A world that honors the profane, and delights in the sanctity of the self."
JACKIE: It is too florid, Reg. Our readers would have just skipped down to the bit about you shooting everyone. "This frightening day ended in a nuclear explosion of desperate bloodshed, as Cole, 59-
JACKIE: - finally unleashed his pent-up fury." I'll get the Carnegie award for this. Posthumously, of course.
GENE: How many'd you kill during the war, Reg? Not enough? None at all? Feeling unappreciated?
MASTER: Mr Cole was a man of unique intelligence, who never felt appreciated. He saw poetry and prose as a celebration of life. He saw in literature all the good things. Courage, fortitude, sacrifice. But in his daily life, he saw cowardice, selfishness, a desire for cheap glory. And so he felt alone.
JACKIE: You're in the wrong institution, Inspector Tyler.
MASTER (smiles): You don't know the half of it.
REG: I'm not lonely.
MASTER: No, but you feel...isolated.
REG: Like the Connecticut Yankee in the court of King Arthur. A man out of time. Stranded in a heathen world.
(THE MASTER nods)
MASTER: Which is why you have to prove yourself.
This image faded into darkness. There was silence in the room. After a few minutes, the Master's eyes flickered open. "Doctor..." he whispered.
"Sam!" shouted Annie with joy.
"What happened?" asked the Master. Annie helped him to his feet.
"You passed out," said the Tenth Doctor. "You're fine now. Well... as fine as you'll ever be."
"So what happens now?" he asked.
"I don't quite know," said the Tenth Doctor. "I'm a little hesitant to just leave you here, left to your own devices. No telling what you might do."
"Well, I don't know," mused the Third Doctor. "He has friends, a steady job... He doesn't seem to be harming anyone."
"I suppose," said the Doctor pensively. "But I feel someone should keep an eye on him. Maybe if I bring you back to the 21st century, Jack will agree to check in on you?"
"Um... don't you think my face might draw some attention in the 21st century?" said the Master. "I was an assassinated Prime Minister, remember? And I don't plan on regenerating any time soon."
"Oh, right," said the Tenth Doctor. "Well, I suppose you're staying here, then."
"And UNIT will keep its eyes on him," suggested the Brigadier.
"Sounds good," said the Doctor.
"Wait," said Gene. "So you mean to say that Sammy-boy here ain't really from... here?"
"Give the man a prize," said the Master sarcastically. "I'm not human, either, if you haven't gathered that yet, you slow-witted baboon."
"I always figured ya couldn't be of the same fine stalk as me-self, ya Nancy," said Gene, unphased. "So what are ya, then?"
"Time Lord," said the Master.
"I can make up names, too," said the Guv.
"No, for real," said the Master.
"Well," said the Tenth Doctor. "If we're done here, I'd like to be on my way- and forget all of this ever happened, hopefully. Please say hello to Jo for me."
"I agree," said the Third Doctor. "This is way too much, even for me... us."
"Well, if you're looking to forget," said the Guv, with a smile. "I got just the place. Pub!"
"Pub!" said the Master, grabbing Annie by the hand.
"You're buying, Sammy-boy," said Gene, leading the way.
The Tenth Doctor shrugged, "Why not?" He motioned for his former self to proceed. The entire party left en masse, and had quite a pleasant evening.