His eyes snapped open back into reality. He was sitting in the cage with the comatose Master still wrapped in his arms. Gently he lowered him on the grid.
Screams came from the other side of the chamber. Through the iron bars, he saw Neil and the others, being surrounded by a horde of giant centipedes, a group of flesh eating zombies, and an angry crowd of middle aged men waving dangerously with rolled up sheets of papers. He could only guess that the last and most unusual addition to the fearwaves came from Neil's phobia.
"Doctor! Help us! Please!" The young scientist yelled, when a prominent senior lecturer grabbed him by his arm and pulled him away from his other teammates. The digital Doctor tried to intervene, but the fear-wave creature passed right through him as if he was a ghost.
"Doctor!" Aurelia screamed, sinking through her knees. She faced a horrific arthropod that had raised itself up in air with its multiple pairs of teeth-like claws wriggling dangerously at her. "Do something! PLEASE!!!"
The Doctor jumped out of the cage and ran towards them while twisting and turning his sonic screwdriver to amplify the filter. Then he raised it and let the blue plasma light blast over the nightmare creatures, washing them out of his companions' minds.
"Doctor!" The digital Doctor swirled around. "You're back! I'm sorry. I know I've promised, but I couldn't. The fearwaves were becoming too strong, and there wasn't enough energy left to keep me in solid hologram form. Everything went into sustaining the asylum simulation. I couldn't offer them any help."
"What's happening here?" The Doctor breathed. His sonic screwdriver was still emitting the signal to protect them from the fearwaves, but its core was quickly getting overheated. "Why are the fearwaves gaining in strength?"
"I don't know, but it has something to do with the Master. I don't know what happened in the simulation, but these humans aren't safe. The Ark is rejecting their presence, and it wouldn't stop till all of them have cast themselves down the stairs and have been reduced to corpses."
"Then they have to get out." The Doctor said firmly, and grabbed hold of Neil and Aurelia, dragging them behind him. "Come on Will!" He slapped the dazed young man across the face. "WILL! Wakey wakey! No more zombies! Come on! I'm getting you out of here!"
Ushered by the Doctor, the group of young scientists quickly recovered from their fears, and followed him to the flight of stairs. The Doctor adjusted his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the invisible joint, making it appear again. The overloaded device gave off an angry spark and he grimaced when it burned his hand. Still he held on to it, realizing that it could give any minute, and that they had no time to spare.
"GO! Everyone of you! GO!"
The human companions jumped through the blue membrane of the portal. Before the Doctor followed, he turned to his digital clone. "I'll be right back as soon as these kids are on their way! In the meantime, PLEASE, don't let him do anything stupid!" He then turned and vanished into the blue waves.
The ground and the walls of his white cell were trembling as if caught in an earthquake. The Master kept his head down in the shadows when the digital Doctor appeared.
"I did what you told me." The digital Doctor stated, his face grim with concern. "He's getting those humans out of the Ark."
"I heard you in the distress call. A job well done." The Master cheered joylessly.
"I don't understand this. Why do you want him to do this? Have you lost your mind completely? Is that it? Master, you can't let anyone leave the Ark. They are allowed to get in, but you can't let them get out, not without ripping a hole through the protection shield. Not without destabilizing the structure and endangering ourselves."
"Oh so you would care then?" The Master laughed, raising his head to him. "Fascinating, a program that is more afraid to die than his creator. I know I've not been that well, but that is one seriously fine piece of programming! I should congratulate myself."
"It's not that I care. I am not afraid, not for me. You made me that way. You made me resemble the Doctor." He studied with heavy hearts how the Master continued to giggle insanely, pretending not to be affected by this all. "You always do this, don't you? It doesn't matter if it's a simulation or reality, you'll always get yourself into trouble, sabotaging every chance on happiness, and ruining your life beyond saving, beyond redemption –"
"Stop it!" The Master snapped. The crazy smile had faded from his face. "Stop being like him!"
"I can't. As much as you can't stop feeling guilty about what you've done, or stop loathing the monster that you've become." He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, and froze with his eyes wide with realization. "That's what this is all about, isn't it? The final act of punishment. You're going to send yourself to hell!"
"I said STOP IT!" The Master raged. Never had the truth been spoken. His creation's words cut right into his hearts.
"You lied to him. You told him that he could come back for you once the others were saved, because you knew you could always count on the Doctor's kindness, his empathy for the human race." The Doctor spun around, casting his angry, tear rimed eyes on the ceiling. "Oh my poor deranged Master! 2000 years of solitude, of suffering and madness and fear, waiting for this one moment, this one light in the darkness to arrive, and you would extinguish it just like that with a bitter lie, because you think you can no longer stand the light. Because you still think that you're not worth any mercy!"
The digital Doctor covered his tear-strained face with his hands. Then let out a frustrated cry. "You IDIOT! And I can't, I can't do anything about it! You won't let me! I have to sit here and watch you die!"
"I would still appreciate a little help." The Master spoke in a soft voice. "I need you to unlock the door for the Doctor."
The digital Doctor staggered back, shaking his head. "That would tear everything wide open. Master, please, you still have time to reconsider this! Don't do this!"
"You still work for me, don't you?" The Master pressed on, a mild irritation sounding through his voice.
"You are asking me to assist you in your suicide!"
"Not ask. Don't be ridiculous. I never ask." The Master looked his creation right into the eyes, and just for a moment, it was his old, confident self who was back in charge. "No my dear Doctor. I demand it. Now go. Go and obey your Master!"
They ran down the stairs while the tower wall heaved and caved dangerously. It was if they were made of carton and rain had soaked into their cores, melting away the solidity of the structure. The steps of the stairs themselves became dangerous death traps, collapsing right under their feet. The Doctor shot an anxious glance back and saw that whole sections of the staircase behind them fell with a thunderous sound and disappeared into the abyss.
"Don't look back!" He just caught Aurelia as she was about to turn around to look at what had caused all that frightening noise. "Keep your eyes on the steps, and hurry up!"
They rushed down with the destruction hot on their heels. Finally they reached the end of the staircase, and the Doctor let go a sigh of relief when his feet touched the ground. Neil and the Doctor dashed towards the doors and pushed hard, but it would not yield. Will and Aurelia came over and they all tried together driving their shoulders against the wood.
"It's no use Doctor! It's locked!" Neil uttered. "We can't get out!"
"What do we do now?" Will asked. They all stared at the Doctor.
"It's because of that lock." The Doctor shot an anxious look at the clockwork embedded in the floor of the hall. His hand tightened around the sonic screwdriver. He couldn't use it to try to dismantle the complicated machine. One more task for the overloaded and overheated mechanical tool and it would break down completely, leaving them all exposed to the brainwaves.
"Doctor! Look!" Aurelia pointed. They all cast their eyes on the staircase where the digital Doctor appeared out of thin air. His partly translucent frame was projected in a faint blue glow and trembled in static as the tower inner structures crashed down around him.
"My dear Doctor." The digital Doctor said, and held up his version of the sonic screwdriver. "Let me give you a hand with that."
He threw the sonic in the air. As it flew in a wide arc through the sky, the translucent blue transformed into solid gold metal, before the Doctor caught it in mid air. The digital sonic had become a solid hologram with the same properties as the original. "Oh, that's very clever!" The Doctor smiled. "Actually I shouldn't say that, or you people will think I am dead-arrogant."
"Doctor!" Aurelia urged as large parts of the staircase came sailing down and plunged into the ground, only a few meters away from where they were standing.
"Right!" The Doctor jumped over the ruins to the middle of the hall where the clockwork was still ticking, but the two rusted handles were dead-bolted to their spot and were still pointing at 12 o'clock. He flicked on the second sonic and let the blue light beam cast down into the clockwork innards. Somewhere in the darkness beneath, sitting between the larger cog wheels that had stopped dead to gather dust, was the tiny lock that prevented the gears from turning. With one well-aimed blast with the sonic, he removed it from the mechanism, and with a loud grinding noise, the gears started to turn.
The door slowly opened, revealing the burnt orange light of dawn at the horizon. The Doctor lips turned into a cocky smile as confidence rushed through his body.
"Now, I want you to get on the raft as quickly as possible! I'm bringing you all back to the cruiser!"
The others didn't need to be told twice. They rushed out of the tower and jumped into the raft. The Doctor had just boarded the vessel when the lake suddenly started to tremble violently. It sent large waves of diamonds splashing against the sides and lifted the raft up in the air.
"Hang on!" The Doctor yelled. He started the motor and drove the small vessel away from the tower. His hearts froze when he saw that the doors of the entrance were closing, and the Ark itself started to sink away into the lake.
"Oh no! No! No! NO! NO!" The Doctor yelled, as he realized what was happening.
"Doctor!" Neil screamed. "The waves are getting higher! We'll turnover!"
The Doctor kept staring at the Ark as it disappeared underneath the waves.
"Doctor!" Aurelia leaned forward and yelled into his ear. "We have to go! We have to go NOW!"
The Doctor snapped back into action, and steered the vessel over the turbulent surface. "Oh no! NO! You're not doing this!" He yelled, as he rushed back to the silver shore. "I won't let you!"
"There is the beach!" Neil pulled on the Doctor's arm. "Doctor! We're almost at the shore! You have to pull back!"
The Doctor didn't answer, didn't even turn to look at him. It was as if Neil and the others had vanished, had become insignificant to him. All he wanted was to get these humans back on the ship and return to the Ark before it was too late. His right hand tightened on the steer while his left swept down and clutched the gear with a white-knuckled grip.
"Hang on!" He yelled and pushed the gear all the way down, sending the graft flying over the foam of the shoreline and right onto land.
The simulation was failing. His surroundings flashed from the bleak void back to the white chamber so fast and so often that it hurt his eyes to just look at it. The digital Doctor was there, still by his side, loyal to him till the very end.
"They're gone, the Doctor and the others, they've left the Ark." The Doctor informed his master.
The Master stared at the ceiling. "Good." He whispered. His voice was lost in the loud destruction of the tower that echoed into the simulation. "It won't be long now."
"You have to stop. What you're doing is madness." The digital Doctor tried. "The Doctor knows. He won't leave with the others. Even if the tower is sinking all the way down to the bottom of the lake, he would come back and try to dig you out. He would try dying! You're stubbornness is only going to ensure his downfall!"
"I won't take that idiot with me into the grave." The Master reassured his creation in a hoarse voice. "You have to lock him inside the cruiser once he's onboard. Knowing these humans, they will take care of the rest."
The digital Doctor didn't move a muscle.
"Do it!" The Master sneered.
"There you go!" The Doctor hastily whizzed his sonic over the dashboard. They had arrived safely at the landing site of the cruiser, and had already boarded the ship. The others were standing around him in the cockpit in a semi-circle. Neil had strapped himself down in the pilot seat and was ready to go.
"I've upgraded the autopilot, polished the planet navigation system, and boosted up your engines, just in case. You will be able to get the hell off this planet without me." The Doctor swirled around and pushed towards the back.
"Wait! You can't go back there! The whole place is going to hell!" Aurelia snapped.
"Doctor, she's right. The tower must have already disappeared underneath the surface by now, and the lake is highly unstable." Neil urged.
"I don't care. I have to go back!" The Doctor was almost at the cabindoor when it suddenly closed. The lights went on inside the cabin and the cockpit warninglights flashed from red to green.
The Doctor tried the handle, when it didn't turn he put his shoulder against the door and pushed. "Neil! Why did you do this? Open the door!"
"Open it NOW!"
Neils fingers flew over the dashboard, trying every button that could unlock it, but none of them worked.
"It wasn't me! I didn't close it!"
The Doctor rushed back into the cockpit, just when the cruiser's dual engines burst into life.
"I didn't do anything! I swear!" Neil said with his hands away from the steering wheel. The Doctor stared nervously out of the cockpit window. The glittering surface of the diamond lake had vanished, and the shifting dunes in front of them were collapsing, sinking away into a massive, gaping hole in the planet's surface where once the Ark had stood.
The Master said he knew he was going to come back for him.
He said that he had a smart-sharp mind. He gave him a complement.
The Master gave the Doctor a complement.
When in the name of stone-cold logic, did that ever happen?
"Oh IDIOT that I've been!" The Doctor sneered, realizing that the Master had tricked him. "The Master lied to me! That poor deranged sod, he lied to me!"
A siren inside the cockpit went off and the Doctor and the others were swept back ferociously when the cruiser launched itself into the sky.
"Oh no, you don't!" The Doctor struggled back up. Fighting against the gravity, he pulled himself forward on the legs of the seats.
Neil was still sitting in the pilot seat and had grabbed onto the steering wheel with a white knuckled grip. However, the cruiser seemed to have a will own its own.
"Turn back!" The Doctor yelled above the roar of the engines. They were high up in the air, reaching the planet's stratosphere with the black void of space beckoning at them through the thinning clouds. "I have to go back!"
"There is no control! I can't steer the ship!" Neil responded desperately, just when the Cruiser coursed through the last crimson clouds and into outer space. Neil saw from his side window how the red-sky planet started to spin faster and faster, being swept up by the roaring heart of the black hole.
"Doctor!" He yelled in fear and stunned amazement. "The planet! It's disappearing! It's falling into the black hole!"
The Doctor stared at the fast turning orb, his hearts paralyzed by fear. He aimed the sonic screwdriver over the controls. The control screen of the cockpit flashed from blue into black, and green letters started to scroll over the display.
REQUEST MANUAL STEERING REJECTED
On and on it went, sending the Doctor clutching on to his hair in despair.
"You can't do this!" He muttered, his voice rising with his anger and desperation. "Master, you can't, you can't DO THIS!"
The message on the screen flashed awkwardly. The Ark must have a limited range. Quickly, the Doctor aimed the sonic back on the controls, and the black screen vanished to be replaced with the original blue. He slapped at the side of the console and the manual steering came back on. Neil stared worriedly at the Timelord.
"I'm not going back Doctor. That planet is doomed."
"Get out of that seat!"
"You can't do this. We'll be dead even before we could land on the surface!"
"I'm going back. What ever it takes, I'm going back to get him."
"Doctor, you're the cleverest man I've ever met, but this is madness." Neil urged, trying to talk some sense into him. "You can't save him. It's too late. Doctor it's too late."
The Doctor shook his head stubbornly and was about to pull Neil away from behind the steering wheel when a hard blow hit him on the back of his head. He swirled around and saw a frightened Aurelia standing behind him, holding a busted camera in her hands. He swirled back towards the cockpit, his legs turning into soft stone.
Before he reached Neil, his world turned black.
"Their ship is finally leaving the solar system." The digital Doctor continued to report. They were still together, inside the tiny cell with the white walls. It was all that was left of the simulation. All that the program could still sustain while the core systems were shutting down one by one. Outside these walls, there was nothing but a cold black void, the remnants of the Master's broken mind.
"And he can't come back?" The Master asked.
"One of the humans knocked him out. He won't be able to interfere."
A small smile of relief played on the Master's lips. "He will be alright. He may be hurt, and his pride may be dented, but he will survive. He always does."
"What about you? What is to become of you?"
A long and burdened silence followed as the old fear of death clutched onto the Master's hearts.
"If you don't want to die, then why did you do this?" The digital Doctor dared to ask. He was brought to the brink of desperation by the Master's mad stubbornness.
"He can't save me. Don't you think I've tried to get out? Before I've created you as my guardian, I've tried about everything. There is no way, no way I could think of to leave this planet and escape death."
"But why didn't you let the Doctor try to save you? What's so horrible about giving yourself a chance to leave this awful place and trading it for a bit of star-light on your wretched face? Master, why didn't you even try?"
For a moment, it seemed that the Master was going to serve him another one of his snide remarks, but instead, he turned away from him.
"It's too late." The Master mumbled, shielding his head with his hands. "It's all too late. Nothing left but yesterday's regrets."
The digital Doctor stared ahead, forcing back his tears. "Do you want me to run another simulation for you?" He finally asked. It was all that he could still do for him. "There is not much energy left, and most of the systems are down, but perhaps I could still run something small, to keep your mind away from all this. Something you want to remember, or a place that you might want to visit for the last time."
The Master shook his head. "No. No it's alright." He gazed up at the digital Doctor, his eyes shone with fear and regret. "For the last 2000 years I've been dreaming, caught in an endless night of illusions to keep myself from screaming. For once I want to be brave and to stay lucid. When the end comes, I would like to know that it really is the end."
"Master. Please let me help. For old time's sake."
The Master stared silently at the digital Doctor whose grief and empathy was mirroring that of the real Doctor high up in the sky.
"Help me by shutting it down. Please. This travesty of a life. Let it finally cease. Shut it all down for me."
A tear glided down the digital Doctor's face as he followed the Master's orders. The white washed cell crumbled down, revealing the dark void of emptiness that lay beneath the thin layer of deception. Finally, even the Doctor's frame started to fade.
"Farewell my Master. It's been my honour to serve you."
The Master stared at the blue vanishing light, and smiled bitterly while his hearts filled with sorrow and dread. "Goodbye my Doctor, and thank you."
The Doctor dissolved into the darkness that surrounded the Master. He was no more.
The first thing he saw when he opened his eyes again was the fasten-seatbelt light flashing frantically in the trembling overhead locker. Then he remembered. The Master.
He struggled to get up but found himself strapped down in the passenger seat.
"Get these seatbelts off! I want to get out of this chair, right now!" He snapped, and turned his head to the side.
"Oh no! We're not going to do that!" Aurelia said, who was strapped down in her own seat next to him, and was holding on the armrests firmly while the cruiser shook form side to side. "I'm sorry Doctor, but you're not taking us back!"
"The Master! I've to get to him! He's still down there!"
"Don't you hear me? We don't want to die because of him! We don't even know him! How could you expect us to risk our lives so that your conscience could be cleared? How can you be so selfish?!"
The Doctor pressed his lips together and looked out of the window. There, lying already a good distance behind them was what was left of Gallifrey. The massive globe was quickly spiralling towards the centre of the black hole. The red clouds had vanished. It had evaporated with the intense heat that was released with its eminent destruction, leaving the black hostile surface visible to the naked eye. One third of the planet had already gone. The rest of the orb glowed dimly in the vortex, the surface of the planet cracked open like a giant egg, showing the burning lava stream oozing up from underneath.
Aurelia was right. The planet was lost.
And the Master, he was lost with it.
The Doctor slumped back into his chair. Defeated and all of his hope vanishing with the disappearing planet, his eyes quickly welled with tears.
"I'm sorry." Aurelia said softly. "I didn't mean to."
He was brought back from his sorrow when a massive turbulence hit the ship, violently shaking them out of their seats. The doctor's seatbelts snapped, sending him flying through the cabin. He knocked his head against the overhead locker, and for a short moment, his vision blurred.
"Doctor!" Neil yelled from out of the cockpit. The Doctor found himself lying on the floor in the aisle between the 2 rows of seats. He lifted himself up and pushed forward to the cabin.
"Doctor!" Neil glanced over his shoulder, but kept his hands steady on the wheel that shook like mad. "I'm sorry, but we had to restrain you-"
"What's happening?" The Doctor gazed through the cockpit window. Bright rings of blue and green plasma light appeared at the dark horizon and rushed towards them in waves. Another one hit the cruiser and shook the vessel like it was a metal tin cane being kicked around by a group of over-enthusiastic schoolboys. The Doctor held on to the back of Neil's seat for dear life.
"What's are these Doctor?" Neil asked fearfully, while struggling to maintain control over the vessel.
"Forcefields!" The Doctor yelled as the turbulence brought the struggling engines to an ear-shattering roar. "Huge, powerful barriers of negatively charged energy that were set up to keep trespassers at bay from the doomed planet. Now that the planet is destroyed, they are shutting down and collapsing into themselves!" The Doctor's eyes suddenly grew wide in realisation. Before Neil could ask him another question, he turned on his heels and quickly headed back to the cabin.
"Doctor, what are you doing?" Aurelia asked, frightened when saw the Timelord take out his sonicscrewdriver. "No! You can't take us back! We'll die there, you selfish idiot!"
"Doctor, I can't let you." Will struggled with his seatbelt, eager to stop him.
"Stand back, both of you!" The Doctor held up the sonic and activated it. "I don't want any of you ending up inside!"
"Ending up where?" Will asked, finally able to free himself out of his seat he stood between the Doctor and Aurelia, only to be knocked down again when the third wave of turbulence sent him reeling backwards into the aisle.
"I don't want you to end up inside the Tardis." The Doctor said, and let the blue box materialize around him. He was inside the console room, standing near the Tardis door, and heard Will and Aurelia shouting his name at the other side.
He swung the door open. "It's all right! I'm going to leave in my own spaceship." He said, and smiled cheekily at Aurelia while bouncing impatiently on his toes. "By the way, this is my spaceship, it's called the Tardis. Well it's actually more than a spaceship, but I don't want to brag. Don't have to time. I couldn't get to the planet in it before because of the barrier fields. They had locked it for Timelord technology, but now that they are removed, I can hop back to Galligrey in a jiff!" He beamed, exhilarated.
His human companions were a bit slow. "H-how d-did this wooden box get in here?" Will stuttered.
"Oh never mind that." The Doctor said. "You guys get yourself to safety. Get your asses back to the university, and start writing all those important papers you were whining about." He turned and was about the slam the door shut. "Oh and tell Neil to stay away from black holes and mysterious planets from now on! Even the great Charles Darwin took only one voyage to get inspired for his masterpiece, if he can do it, so can Neil Armstrong. Seriously, you're not the field type of scientists."
He went back inside and locked the door. Within seconds, the Tardis core started to churn and whizz, and the blue box disappeared right in front of the astonished faces of the two young scientists.
The darkness was closing in on him. He sat in the void, lost, alone, and frightened.
He was oh so very frightened.
The world outside was coming to an end. The monster in the cage locked up in the highest chamber of the tower would soon die, its corporal vessel smashed into atoms by the violent forces of the black hole. They would be dispatched as a cloud of dust and be sucked into the deep black pit, falling away forever without ever touching the ground.
He hugged himself tightly and closed his eyes. Softly he sung to himself, his inner voice broken and trembling.
"Hush child, the darkness will rise from the deep, and carry your soul down into sleep."
Slowly, he rocked back and forth, back and forth, as he tried to lull his mind into eternal slumber.
"What's happening? Doctor? Will? Will someone please tell me what's going on?" Frustrated, Neil shouted from the cockpit all the way back into the cabin.
Will and Aurelia both returned to the front of the ship to face a very puzzled pilot.
"Where is the Doctor? I heard a strange sound coming from the back. Some kind of horn or something. What was that all about?"
"You tell him." Aurelia bumped Will's shoulder.
"Me? But I don't even have a clue of what just happened!" Neil muttered.
As it was in her habit to do so, Aurelia rolled her eyes. She was about to try to explain what they had witnessed when the control screen flashed again to reveal a rhinoceros clad in full battle gear.
"Oh what the hell is happening now!" Neil exclaimed, almost irritated.
"That's a Judoon soldier!" Will breathed in shock.
"What does he want?" Aurelia asked.
The image of the Judoon steadied through the static. The soldier opened and closed his mouth, as if he was speaking.
"Quickly, put on the sound! Underneath the dashboard, at your right!" Neil pointed. "And don't forget to switch on the translator!"
Will turned on the volume, and the harsh voice of the Judoon soldier rang through the speakers.
"Bo kro no do zo so vo- entering the forbidden zone. I repeat, one of your spacepods is entering the forbidden zone. Call it back at once!"
"Spacepods? We don't have any spacepods onboard! What's he rambling about?" Neil asked, and shot a glance at the others.
"I think he meant the Doctor." Aurelia said. She quickly decided to elaborate on that when she saw the confused frown on Neil's face. "He just left in his blue bo- in his spaceship."
"I repeat. Call back your spacepod back at once!"
"Spaceship? Where the hell did he get a spaceship from?" Neil swirled around and pushed the reply button. "We didn't send out the spacepod! We cannot call it back!"
"Call it back immediately, or we will blast your ship out of the sky!"
Shocked by the Judoon soldier's threat, Aurelia pushed down the reply button.
"Didn't you hear what he said? We didn't send out the blue box! It's the Doctor! He's going back to the planet on his own initiative!"
If it was possible for an alien with rhinoceroslike features to frown, the Judoon soldier was definitely doing it right now. "The Doctor?" He replied with a slowness that bordered on mental retardation.
"Yes! The Doctor!" Aurelia snapped. "That crazy what-lord who came here to free the nightmare child. THAT Doctor!"
"You were with the Doctor?"
"Yes! Yes we were. And where were you by the way the first time we went to that cursed planet? We're already on our way back, you moron! We almost got killed! Protective outer space police monitoring, my arse!"
Neil pushed her away from the transmission station.
"I'm terribly sorry, she didn't mean that!"
The image of the Judoon soldier disappeared, and was replaced by that of a human, a man in his early forties, dressed in a grey suit of fine and expensive taste. His hair was combed back to reveal a widows peak. The greasy smile on his face carried from side to side, but lacked geniality, sincerity, or even the faintest touch of humanity.
"I must apologise for mister Baines' rude behaviour. He is not used to speak to beings with a fully developed frontal lobe like your gracious selves."
The man in the grey suit beamed another sterile smile into the screen.
"Now, this situation seems to be getting rather out of hand. It's better that someone with a higher authority and with more cortex capacity takes over and handles this crisis."
"Who are you? What do you want from us?" Neil enquired.
"My name is mister Foks. That's Foks with a K and a S. I'm speaking to you on behalf of my client the Shadow Proclamation. Your friend the Doctor has entered the forbidden zone without my client's consent. According to the strictures set out by the Shadow Proclamation, mister Baines here has now every right to seize your transport and technology, or like he prefers it, shoot your vehicle right out of the sky."
"We didn't know." Neil glanced nervously at Aurelia. "He left on his own. I think he went back to save his friend."
"Oh yes. This nightmare child that your lovely co-passenger informed us about. Tell me mister –excuse me, it is mister Kadish, isn't it?" Mister Foks stared into the transmission screen with suspicion.
"Uhm, yes, yes mister Foks?" Neil sweated. Suddenly he feared that this was going to end badly. The man's eyes, they seemed to look right into his soul.
"Now tell me, mister Kadish." He spoke out the name with a peculiar slowness as if he tasted the lie between his lips. "- did the Doctor by any chance mention the name of his friend to you?"
This was it. This was the end.
He felt the sharp hot sting of agony course through his corporal vessel. He feared it would be the first of many.
Frightened out of his mind, he kept his eyes shut, and tried to stop sensing anything what was happening to that monster in the tower. He forced himself to focus all of what remained of his fractured mind onto the words that he whispered in the dark.
"The darkness will rise from the deep. It will carry your soul down into sleep. The darkness will rise from the deep, and carry your soul down into sleep."
The void started to shake as it was torn apart. His mind began to feel dazed as more and more flashes of violent pain ripped through his body.
"Hush child. The darkness will rise from the deep, and carry your soul down into sleep."
He became aware of a light that grew in the periphery of his vision, followed by a harsh wind and the familiar sound of a whizzing engine. He fluttered his eyes against the swirling air and saw that the light was quickly gaining in brightness, till it became as blinding and radiant as the sun, and cast away the frightening darkness that had surrounded him. In the middle of that light stood the Doctor's Tardis.
The door swept open and a tall, shadowy figure dashed towards him.
The void was collapsing into itself. His body broken, his mind was swiftly extinguishing like a candle in the wind.
The last thing that the Master saw, the last image that was imprinted into his dying brain, was the sight of the Doctor, sweeping him up from the ground and carrying him away from the darkness.
Mercy will arrive from above.
And carry you back into the light.
The water was tranquil today. He saw it through the large window of his bedroom that flooded with the warm light of the orange burnt sky. At the horizon lay the silver shoreline, behind that were the windswept hills of mount Perdition, glowing red as the beams of the late afternoon suns brushed over the flowing sea of red grass.
He came off his bed and stepped with his bare feet on the vinyl. It felt cool to the touch. Hesitantly, he came closer to the window, digging through his mind while he kept his eyes fixed on the scenery outside. He frowned. There was something not quite right.
"Do you remember something?"
The Master turned around. The Doctor was sitting cross-legged on his bed and beamed a reassuring smile at him.
"Are you sure about this?"
"The sky, it's orange. I thought it used to be red."
The Doctor jumped up from the bed and came to stand by his side at the window. "Nah, your mind is all jumbled up. It was orange, I am one hundred percent absolutely sure about it."
The Master cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Well, maybe it was tad darker. Persimmon would be a good guess, with a bit of tangerine." The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck.
"I like red. I prefer red. A touch of burgundy would be nice."
"Let's keep things authentic shall we. You don't want it to turn out like the last time."
"Last time?" The Master looked at the Doctor with a puzzled look on his face.
"Ah, you may not remember that. Which is good." The Doctor nodded, gently guiding him back to the bedside. "You don't need to remember everything at once. Wouldn't be wise."
"Doctor." The Master looked up at him as he let him sit down again on the bed. "Why am I locked up in here?"
A shadow of anguish flashed over the Doctor's face. He quickly composed himself. "You're not well. I want to take good care of you and make sure that you're safe. That's why you're here. Don't get confused now. This isn't a prison. You're not a prisoner, and I am not your jailor. I am your guardian, and you are my ward."
The Master nodded slowly. It was stupid of him to forget about it again. The Doctor had told him so many times, but his mind seemed to slip constantly, never being able to hold on to a single thought. "Am I going to get better again?" He felt embarrassed for he was sure he had also questioned the Doctor about this before, but he couldn't remember what he had told him, and he really needed to know. He was worried.
"Sure you are! Don't be daft." The Doctor smiled hopefully. "Of course you'll get better, and then I will to take you out of here in a heartbeat. That's a promise."
The Master nodded again and gazed through the large window where outside, the twin suns were starting to set over the hills. The old familiar sense of dread conditioned into him after facing two thousand years of sunset by his own, rose up from the pit of his belly.
"It will be dark soon." He whispered, his eyes large with fright, but holding himself together to not let the Doctor see his fear.
"I'll stay here with you." The Doctor said, giving him no need to go ask for his help. He knew the Master like the back of his hand.
"Yup, just like last night. And the night before." The Doctor said. Actually, he had spent all the nights in here with the Master ever since he had rescued him from the tower. Every night he had stayed with him, making sure that his troubled mind would find peace, and keeping his nightmares at bay. It was only that the Master couldn't remember any of his efforts.
"But, don't you need to leave? Go somewhere? Save a planet, go and visit one of your human companions?"
The Doctor shook his head determinedly. "I'll stay here with you as long as you need me. As long as it takes for you to get better."
"And what if it takes years?" The Master snorted.
"I'll stay right here by your side."
"A hundred years?"
"I'll pop out and rent some DVDs, get a couple of books out of the library. Perhaps take up a hobby. Origami seems interesting. We'll manage."
The Master sighed and rolled his eyes, exhausted by the Doctor's persistence. "What if I'll never get sane again?"
"I didn't expect you to get sane." The Doctor smiled cheekily. "Now you wouldn't be you, you wouldn't be my Master if you weren't a bit of an eccentric sociopath, would you? Now as long as you don't kill, main or hurt anyone, I'm fine with a tad of insanity."
The Master, finally lost for words, just shook his head and smiled back at the Doctor.
They remained silent for a while. The two last Timelords in existence, two childhood friends, sitting on the bed side by side as they watched how the twin suns both travelled the final part of the day's journey over the sky. Outside of the simulation, the Doctor's Tardis continued to circle around the black hole that had devoured the black planet with the red sky. It was suspended in time. Inside, the Master was still unconscious, strapped down on a cot. The Doctor was by his side, and held his head gently against his own, determined to let his sound and rational mind heal that what was broken. Lost in his quest, all of the time in the universe could pass, all the planets could be grinded into dust, and all the stars in the sky could extinguish one by one, but it would hold no meaning to him. Nothing in the whole wide universe would ever mean anything to him again if he couldn't keep himself to that one single promise.
Hang on in there, Master. I'll get you out. I'll take you to the stars. You watch us run Timelord. All the way through the dangers and wonders of the galaxy.
You watch us run.
"Oh Doctor." The Master laughed, as if he could suddenly read the Doctor's mind again. "You are one arrogant, sanctimonious, and overly sentimental bastard, you know that?"
Outside of the bedroom, the twin suns were setting over Gallifrey.
That was it people. Thank you all for reviewing and for reading my psychobabble! For those who wanted a hard copy of the story, you can go to my author's profile or to find out more. I have also added the last two tracks and the rest of the soundtrack can also be found on my author's profile page. I've started on a new story and will post the first chapter up in two weeks time, so expect the Doctor and the Master to be back in "Judoon Justice", hopefully the first in a series that is heavily focussed on a Timelord and his madman, travelling together through time and space. Last but not least, please let me know what you thought of "His Silent Mind", your reviews are absolutely motivating!