Thank you all so much for reviewing this story. A lot of work went into it, so it's good to see that it's appreciated. Special thanks goes to Edzel2, who is tireless in her efforts to keep the odd spelling and grammar mistakes out of each post. A big hug and many thanks Edzel2!
It's very quiet now. There is only the sound of the Tardis. Her calm, regular breathing as she sleeps her dreamless sleep. Outside these four wooden walls, the universe toils on, worlds are created and lost, civilizations rise and fall, lives start and end. But here inside the Tardis, time is sealed inside a vacuum, creating a place of stagnation, a micro-cosmos in hibernation. In here, there is only a dying Timelord, locked away in his dusty past, while it is slowly being forgotten by the present.
I close my eyes for a moment. I'm holding my body so very still that the Tardis might think that I've fallen asleep, but I'm actually trying to recall the events that have shaped my life. Allowing my mind's eye to take the journey back into my past, I can once again see that peculiar courtroom in the heart of a London cathedral. I remember the righteous Judoons and the cunning mister Foks. I can see Wilfred Mott and the Ladies Shadow Architect, a wise and ancient soul split in three entities who are about to judge the crimes committed by a sinful and deranged Timelord. And I remember the endless rows of victims who are waiting in the benches. Each one of them is a haunting face that represents a violent and unnecessary death.
He didn't know. He had never found out afterwards, but I've kept something from the trial. It's a silver globe, inscribed with one of the accusations. There had been many, with each of the globes representing the ruthless crimes that were committed. Together they had burdened the conscience of the accused.
In the end, it had sealed his fate.
You shall not steal. And yet you've stolen.
You shall not commit violence. And yet you've attacked those who were innocent.
You shall terrorize none. And yet you've threatened many.
You shall not slain men and women. And yet you've murdered.
You've killed so many.
I shook my head to clear it from these pitiless thoughts. Where is your story, old man? Can't you finish anything nowadays? Your mind is slipping. You're being distracted by the darkness that soon will come to reclaim your soul. Didn't you promise, a long time ago, to tell it exactly as it happened? No rhymes, no embellishments, no justifications.
And please…no self-pity.
After all these years, after all what you have done to make amends, Why is it still so hard to tell the truth?
I let the silver globe roll in the palm of my hand. The green glow of the heart of the Tardis reflects in its smooth surface, making the metal shine. Slowly, my memory of that day returns, wading through layers of darkness, it surfaces like a string of bubbles from the deep.
I wonder, not without remorse, whose ruined life it is that I hold in my hand.
It was hard for Wilf to tell how long they've been kept inside the tiny cell. He woke up after what seemed to have been a long period of sleep, and found the Doctor already awake, standing in front of the bars and staring silently into the corridor. Two Judoon soldiers marched by, just when Wilf rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
"Yo, Jo, Ko, Ko, Mo, Zo!"
"Huh, what? What's happening?" Wilf asked as they open the cell door and entered.
"They are taking us to the Shadow court." Doctor said with a grim expression on his face.
One of the soldiers cuffed their hands behind their back. Then both the Doctor and Wilf were moved out of tiny chamber and taken down the corridor.
"Wo, Ko, Zo, Zo, Do."
"What does he say?"
"That the cuffs are standard procedure. Once in the court room they will be removed. We're not considered prisoners." The Doctor explained. "But we're expected to stand as witnesses to the Master's crimes."
"But that means we can be offer him some help, right? Well, at least we can lie."
"They won't allow us to lie."
"What, they make us swear on their alien bible?" Wilf joked.
"No, it's just impossible to tell a lie when you're facing the jury of judges."
The soldiers guided them down a narrow tunnel that ended into a small vaulted room.
"Is this the court?" Wilf asked, unsure what to expect from these aliens.
"It's just a transport portal. The court room isn't onboard of this ship. The Shadow court is a moving court. It travels with the Shadow fleet from galaxy to galaxy. The court could be anywhere in the nearby solar systems. We're going to be teleported over there."
"Oh no, not those things again." Wilf muttered when the soldiers hooked him up to a transmission belt. "I was nauseous last time they beamed us up here."
The Doctor raised his hands up and let the Judoon connect him to console. When they were ready, one of the soldiers hit the big red button on his belt and initiated the teleportation.
Bright plasma light engulfed the chamber, and Wilf felt a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, just like the last time. It was followed by the loss of solid ground under his feet and a drifting sensation of weightlessness. Curious, Wilf wondered if, when he opened his eyes, he would still find his limbs attached to his torso, or whether he was now just a cloud of atoms being beamed through space to their secret destination.
Before he could muster enough courage to take a peek, he felt the comforting re-stabilization of gravity, followed by a very unpleasant jolt that played havoc on his poor stomach.
Fighting the dizziness, Wilf slowly opened his eyes again.
He gazed around while the last of the plasma light slowly died down. They were standing inside a huge gothic chapel, a magnificent high-vaulted building that was laid-out in a cross-shape. Heavenly light poured in through the large glass-painted windows and threw color-rich patterns on the white marble floor.
"Hang on." He muttered, while the soldiers guided him and the Doctor down the nave, passing by the rows of cherry wood benches. "This can't be somewhere on a different planet." He stared up at the ceiling, which raised at least seven levels up in the air. "I know this place."
"Oh, you've been to Westminster Abbey then?" The Doctor said absentmindedly. He was busy counting the large number of armed Judoon soldiers who were standing guard in the two arcades that flanked the central hall.
"Is this what it is then? Westminster Abbey?" Wilf asked. "No wonder I recognize it. I'm not one for churches though. Too cold, but I've seen this on the telly with the service last Christmas. Why are we here? I though we were supposed to go to court?"
They had reached the quire, a short space between the central high altar and the nave where the choirboys sit during service on the two rows of wooden benches. The Judoon soldiers halted. They removed the Doctor's and Wilf's handcuffs and gestured with their guns that they should sit down. They did what they were told.
"This is it, this is the court." The Doctor explained. "Like I said, it is a moving court. The Shadow Proclamation does not have headquarters of operation. They move to where the crime needs to be judged, and borrow places on nearby planets for that purpose."
"But won't people notice?" Wilf said in astonishment as he watched a man-sized droid roll down the aisle on its four wheels. It was carrying scrolls of paper and a leather briefcase underneath each mechanical arm. When it dropped a scroll accidentally, it went in reverse and drove backwards to retrieve it. As the droid bowed forward to pick up the scroll, a number of silver balls the size of small apples spilled out of the briefcase and rolled underneath the benches. Showing some artificial form of distress, the diligent android went after them.
"Aren't they afraid that the dean could walk in on this? Or people who might come in for service, or tourists?" Wilf mentioned, struck by the weirdness of the situation.
"That won't happen." The Doctor said. "The Judoons have isolated this abbey. Placed it just a second later or earlier out of time. In other words, nobody will notice that this place has been hijacked to run a Judoon justice court, because it happens before or after anyone on Earth enters this particular church."
Wilf watched with fascination how a group of Judoons emerged from the arcades, wheeling in a large construction and placing it at the right side of the high altar. It looked like an old fashioned beam-balance with a gilded frame and horizontal lever. Large copper pans were suspended from chains from each end. Then he glanced back into the nave and saw that some of the rows were filled with men and women.
"Right." Wilf mumbled. "And who are these folks then? Are they also aliens? They look pretty human to me."
Doctor stared at them. "They're not human." He said with a burdened voice. "At least not anymore."
"What are they then?"
"T-they're g-ghosts?' Wilf stammered. "What are they doing here?"
"They're not real ghosts. Just electronic visualizations of the imprints they've left behind after they've died. They were the Master's victims. Summoned from his memories to testify as witnesses against him."
"But…there are so many."
The Doctor stared at those empty faces, and recognized Lucy, Chanto, Ravenius, and Redgrave and many others. They stared back at him with eyes that were dull and lifeless like marbles.
"Qo, Ko, Ko."
The Master was dragged in. Fitted in a blue prison outfit and barely touching the floor with his bare feet, he looked miserable and drained. A white collar with a green flashing light was fitted around his neck, and his hands and ankles were manacled and linked by a rattling chain, weighing down his arms. He kept his head bowed.
"Master!' Doctor rose from seat. He wanted go over to him, but the Judoon soldier held him back.
The Master looked up. The sight of the Doctor brought a shimmer of hope on his face, but then he noticed the ghostly witnesses seated in the rows. His eyes became large and fearful. He wanted to turn around and run away from that wall of cold accusing stares, but the Judoons officers only dragged him further into the room. They went over to a glass booth that was installed next to the central altar, and threw him inside before sealing the door.
"Master! It's alright." The Doctor waved at him. "I'm here. I'm here."
The Judoon pushed the Doctor back to the bench.
"Xo, Xo, No!"
The Doctor reluctantly obeyed the officer. He sat down again next to Wilf, but he kept his mind open to reach the Master.
It's alright. Don't you worry. I'll get you out of here. I promise.
The Master sunk down on the floor and huddled up with his back against the glass. Silently, he begged with his eyes for the Doctor to not abandon him. The Doctor answered with a small encouraging smile, and crossed his hearts.
Xo, Zo, Lo, Ko, Wo."
The court ghosts all rose from their seats in unison, while the Judoon soldiers exchanged their guns from the left to the right hand side and stamped with their feet twice on their floor.
"We're supposed to stand." The Doctor whispered to Wilf. He quickly got up on his feet. Wilf followed his example.
Two women entered. They were dressed in wide silver gowns that shone like the moon, and strode down the aisle most graciously, as if they were gliding over a beam of moonlight. They wore long silver wigs that resembled those worn by judges. When they passed, Wilf caught a glimpse of their faces. He was struck by their serene beauty, and their similarity.
"Doctor." He whispered. "I'm not sure that I saw it right, but are those twins?"
The two women were closely followed by a third, who was dressed in all black. Her wig was white as virgin winter snow. Her features were identical to that of the others, but as the faces of the first two ladies showed absolutely no emotion, when the Lady in black caught sight of the Doctor, she had a look in her eyes that betrayed her agitation.
"God, are they triplets?" Wilf asked again.
The Doctor shook his head. "They are the Ladies Shadow Architect. The ones in white are the Ladies of Reason and Moral, the one dressed in black is the Lady of Compassion. It is said that the race of the Shadowers is as old as that of the Timelords. There are not many of them left after the destruction of their planet, but each child of the Shadow race is born with his or her identity split in three. Two of them will be ruled by the mind, one by the heart. They will be the ones who decide over the Master's fate."
As he spoke, the Lady Shadow Architect in the black gown passed by, and threw a fleeting glance at the Doctor.
After they ascended the steps up to the high alter, the two ladies in silver sat down side by side on the seats that were prepared for them on top of the platform. The lady in black took the seat that was placed one step below.
"The Shadow race has evolved over millions and millions of years. They are as ancient as they are wise, with their minds ruling over their heart." The Doctor further explained to Wilf with his arms crossed over his chest.
Mister Foks made an appearance. He strode towards the high alter confidently, climbed the staircase with a spring in his steps, and whispered into one of the silver robe Ladies's ear.
"And now, it seems, the lawyer is getting a hold over Reason." The Doctor said, watching him worriedly.
"Is that that nasty man again? That mister Foks?" Wilf muttered. "Oh, that can't be a good thing."
Sitting too far away to hear what was being said, the Doctor only saw how Foks pointed at Wilf and answered the Lady of Reason's questions. She then looked at the old man, and gave a slight nod of understanding that stirred up anxiety in the Doctor's hearts.
Mister Foks, who functioned as the court prosecutor, ran the trial with the efficiency of a seasoned bookkeeper. He summoned the court-ghosts to the witness stand, and let them speak out, one by one, the sad misfortunes that had befallen them by the Master's hands. The court-ghosts answered his questions in toneless voices, as if they were dictating stone-cold facts to a machine, while their faces remained expressionless masks. The Doctor explained to Wilf that they could no longer express their true feelings of grief or anger, or anything-else, because they were but a recollection of memories, kept within a fading physical form. These people were not truly present, they were like writers, who had left their thoughts behind in print on paper, while the mind that had created it had decayed and had been returned to dust. Wilf watched how each one of them was asked by mister Foks to point out the man who had destroyed their lives, and all of them had pointed at the Master.
There were men and women, and even children. There were humans and Timelords, and other alien races, so strange and exotic that Wilf had never even dreamt that they existed. There were people who were close to the Master. His father, his lifetime-companion, his wife.
As the trial progressed, Wilf couldn't suppress a growing sense of indignation for the injustice that these victims had suffered. Most of all, he couldn't understand why these crimes were committed. He couldn't imagine a boy killing his father, or a husband, pushing his loving wife so far that she would try to kill him, twice. He couldn't imagine a man with such a deranged soul that he would take pleasure in torturing another conscious being, or would find joy in pointless murder.
The Doctor remained silent during those initial hours as mister Foks presented his case. He kept his eyes on the Master who, with each witness summoned by the prosecution, gradually lost his courage to look the audience in the eyes. By the time the prosecutor questioned the last of the witnesses, the Master was already reduced into a pitiful heap of misery coiled up on the floor.
During the trial, the droid that had carried the suitcase and the scrolls, acted as a scribe. Wilf, who had wondered what those silver orbs that fell out of the suitcase were for, discovered that they were used for recording. The droid would swallow the bare metal sphere into his body, and record each accusation and each testimony given by the victims on the smooth metallic surface, before spewing it out and placing it on a large silver bowl placed in front of the witness stand. Soon, the tireless scribbling of the little droid amounted to an impressive pyramid of silver balls that was then presented to the Ladies Architect by a Judoon officer. By the way the officer buckled his knees as he carried the bowl, Wilf could tell that the load was heavy.
"What are they going to do with those things?" Wilf asked. The Doctor didn't reply, but nodded grimly at the scale.
"You mean they going to weight it? Against what?"
"Justice." The Doctor said, following the plate of silver orbs with an anxious gaze as it was bought to the balance.
"But that's nonsense. Justice is a concept, an idea. It isn't a real, physical thing, and it certainly doesn't weight anything."
"It's composed of reason and moral, and it weights as much as the person who reflect over it thinks it is worth. As it happens, the Ladies Architect believe that there is nothing in the entire universe as essential as justice."
The two silver robe ladies both took a feather from their head ornaments of their wigs and placed it on a second silver tray that was presented to them. The two white feathers were carried to the balance as well.
"They're not going to weight that pile against those feathers, are they?" Wilf commented. "If that's so, the Master won't stand a chance."
A Judoon picked the two feathers up from the tray and let it drift down on the right copper pan of the beam balance. Not surprisingly, the weight of the two feathers did not move the scale. Then another Judoon officer emptied the tray with the silver balls into the left copper pan and the balance swayed, taking a dip to the left hand side. Wilf had half-expected that the left pan would crash on the floor due to its heavy load, but surprisingly, the balance swayed back towards the right, as if the weight of the two feathers could counteract the load of the heavy metal balls. The Doctor watched anxiously how the balance flung from left to right and back again, till it finally settled down, with the left pan hanging slightly lower than the right.
The Doctor sank back and rubbed in his eyes, fearing that it was now all over.
"Please. Please. Lady in black." The Doctor muttered. "Lady of compassion. Please speak out your voice." He gazed up at her with begging eyes. You came to me last night. You know my reasons for defending him. You alone understand why this man needs mercy.
The Lady in black showed a change of expression as she contemplated. Persuaded by the Doctor's compassion for his fallen friend, she picked a black feather from her wig and gestured to an officer to add it to the others. As soon as her feather touched the copper pan, the scale swayed gently from side to side, till it stopped perfectly still in equal balance.
"Yes!" Doctor sighed out of relief. It doesn't mean that the Master was out of danger, but al least there was now a chance for a more lenient verdict. Perhaps the court wouldn't sentence him to death, but exile him instead, or sent him to lifetime imprisonment. Perhaps they would spare his life.
Mister Foks turned the corners of his mouth downwards and glared at the Doctor. This wasn't what he had expected. Still, a good prosecutor should always come to court well prepared to defend his case.
He climbed the stairs and briefly communicated with one the Ladies in silver at the back. The Lady of Reason's eyes glided over the room and rested on Wilf. She nodded firmly and sent out two Judoon soldiers who came over and collected Wilf from the bench.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Wilf asked, as one of the officers grabbed his arm and dragged him away from the Doctor. "Where you taking me?"
"What do you want with him?" The Doctor made an attempt to rise up from his seat but was pushed back down by the remaining Judoon officer. "Let him go, he did nothing wrong."
"Stay calm Doctor, the prosecution has good cause to bring the human Wilfred Mott into the case." The Lady Reason explained.
The Judoon brought Wilf over to the witness stand where Mister Foks was waiting. With his gun pointing at the old man, the soldier encouraged Wilf to step up the platform.
"I will now summon to the witness stand, Wilfred Mott, who has seen the atrocities and crimes committed against the human race by the Master in the year 2006 on the planet Earth." Foks spoke to audience in a clear voice.
"What are you talking about? What has he done?" For as far as Wilf was concerned, the Master didn't show up in his life until that horrible Christmas of last year. He was quite sure that he hadn't dealt with him before.
"Wilfred Mott, do you know who this man is?" Pointing at the accused cowering inside the glass booth.
"Yes, he's the Master."
"Do you also know him by another name?"
"No. Unless he has an alien name that he never uses. But this is also what the Doctor calls him."
Mister Foks leaned towards Wilf. "Are you sure?"
"Uhm. Well, he also kinda looks like Harold Saxon." Wilf pondered, suddenly remembering more than he though he would. "But it can't be him." Wilf scratched over his head and frowned.
"Who is this Harold Saxon?"
"He was our prime minister elect for a short while, but the lad went insane."
"What happened to him?"
"Well, he had something to do with the American president's death, but – I dunno, I suppose the news reports weren't very clear. One day we had him as our prime minister, and the next he was removed from office and was replaced by Gordon Brown. I'm sorry. It's all a bit hazy. It's really strange, normally I'm very good at remembering stuff like that, and I do follow the news."
"You can't remember?"
"No, I don't."
Mister Foks nodded knowingly. "My lady judges. The victims present here at court today are but a fraction of those who were murdered by this tyrant. Unfortunately, the mind of the accused had severely deteriorated and not all of the victims could be retrieved from his memories. Ironically, those who are present owe their claim for justice solely to the good Doctor, who had helped the accused to regain his recollections. I'm sure that you are all aware how his work has benefited the case so far. However, there are also victims whose memories were, on purpose, not restored by the Doctor. These were the human victims on Earth, in what the Doctor called the year that never was."
"Objection!" The Doctor yelled. "You can't charge the Master for those crimes!"
"And why is that? Because they didn't happen in your eyes?" Mister Foks looked back at the Timelord with a pompous expression on his face. He took the scroll handed over to him by the droid and waved it in the air. "Let me inform the court of what I've found in the court's archives, filed under unchargeable violations against time." He began to read from the scroll in a loud voice for all to hear. "It was recorded by the Shadow Proclamation that in the year 1221454 of the court registry, on the planet Earth, the Timelord called the Master took the disguise of Harold Saxon and rose to power as the prime minister of England. Using a paradox machine that he had created, he breached the fabric of reality to let a regressed and murderous form of the future human race enter into this reality. After overthrowing the Earth governments by force, he exterminated one tenth of the human population on his first day of his tyrannical rule." He looked up from the scroll at the lady judges and slowly turned to the Doctor. "That's 680890000 souls. Murdered in cold blood. You're telling me that all that bloodshed didn't happen?"
"It did happen." The Doctor admitted, guiltily. "The Master, he did kill all those people…but…but I reversed it. The paradox machine was destroyed and time was turned back to before the Toclefanes entered our universe. Please, lady judges, you can't let him charge the Master with this."
"You objection has no ground and is denied." Moral and Reason said, speaking out their decision in unison. "Proceed with your case, mister Foks."
Mister Foks turned back to Wilf with renewed confidence.
"Now mister Mott, please don't be frightened." The sly prosecutor said. The malicious glint in his eyes slowly turned crimson as he approached. "The process won't hurt you. At least not physically."
"What are you doing?" Wilf muttered, slowly backing away from him, but like many others before, he couldn't resist staring into Foks's prying eyes.
Lost in that devilish and mesmerizing gaze, Wilf was brought back to 2006, and saw what had happened in that year that was erased from history. He witnessed the terror and the bloodshed of the initial days, before his family and neighbors were led away from their homes and condemned to work as slaves in brutal concentration camps. Wilf remembered how his daughter Sylvia fell severely ill and how he had found her lifeless body, stiff and cold, covered underneath a grime threadbare blanket in the barracks on a freezing winter morning. He remembered being forced to drag her to a pit and bury her in an unmarked grave with numerous other victims. He saw in his mind's eye how Donna's spirit and body was broken by the cruelty of the guards after she was caught stealing food from the kitchen larders. She was made to stand in the courtyard and was executed before his eyes. The snow stained crimson where her head hit the ground.
"Stop this. Stop this, please." Wilf pleaded, unaware that hot tears were streaming down his cheeks.
But Foks continued relentlessly, and hungrily extracted the hidden imprints from those phantom events in order to generate new witnesses for the trial. The nave filled with a large group of additional court ghosts of the victims that Wilf had encountered, and the Doctor watched with horror how the ghostly forms of Sylvia and Donna appeared on the benches.
"You can't! You can't do this!" Yelled the Doctor.
"That's another 50 victims, brought back from obscurity." The prosecutor spoke triumphantly, finally tearing his gaze from Wilf. The old man slumped forward, shocked by what just had happened, he had to steady himself with both hands on the stand.
The scribe droid had swallowed a new silver sphere and was processing the new accusations like mad.
"Stop writing! Stop putting that down!" The Doctor ordered desperately.
"It's the truth Doctor." Mister Foks said accusingly. "A truth that you wanted delude by a telling a lie."
"Listen to me, all those people were saved. No-body died by his hands. I saved all of them!"
Mister Foks let the Judoon officers carry a heartbroken Wilf back to the benches.
"That doesn't make him less guilty of what he had done." Foks objected, crossing his arms over his chest and raising his chin in the air. "If anything, we could consider you an accomplice of his crimes for the way you keep defending him."
For a brief moment the court fell silent. With a hopeless expression on his face, the Doctor watched how the guilt-ridden Master shielded his face with his hands to hide himself from the new victims.
"My lady judges, I would like to proceed by summoning the Timelord called the Doctor to the witness stand." Mister Foks spoke as he entered the last phase of his defence with calm and confidence.
Doctor glared up at mister Foks, his eyes flashing with apprehension.
"You are you afraid to tell the truth, are you?" Foks said with a polite smile. For now, he was a man on top of his game.
Doctor stepped forward silently, and braved the persecutor's challenging stare.
"Like I said, there were more victims." Mister Foks continued, without taking his eyes from the Doctor. "In total more than 5447120000 souls died by the accused's hands. That was 80% of the planet's population. Mister Mott provided only a limited link to the imprints for he was restricted to his own experiences, and to him the horrible events were completely reversed. However, the Doctor here was in the eye of the storm. To him, that year of Harold Saxon's reign was not erased from history. His bonds with the victims are as strong and uncorrupted as yesterday's memories."
"If you want me to incriminate the Master by summoning those victims to court. You know I won't participate." The Doctor protested determinedly.
"My dear Doctor, do you think you really have a choice?" Foks laughed.
Foks stared into the Doctor's eyes. A Timelord mind's could be a like strong fortress, impossible to penetrate, but Foks was created for the very purpose to look into a man's soul. No matter how strong the mind, he could breach through the defenses with ease.
The Doctor gasped as the unwanted memories surfaced in his mind and was shared with the prosecutor. The decimation of the human population, the genocide that followed in the months after, when the Master had kept him and his companions as prisoners on his ship. How he had made him stand on the bridge and watch as the good people of Earth, women, men en children were rounded up and slaughtered, burnt, and eliminated. Foks grinned as he collected these violent images, extracting the immense human tragedy from the Timelord's mind and turning it into new witnesses. As a result, the benches filled up quickly till every space was seated with a lost soul.
"5447120000 victims in total, my lady judges." Foks spoke dramatically. "That's more than ever can be fitting inside this chapel. All them suffered and died under horrible circumstances, all by the hand of that tyrant."
Foks tore off his gaze, and the Doctor slouched down, drained of his strength. The droid eyes glowed red as it finished with recording the additional charges and spat out one crimson globe on the silver tray.
"Place the accused's crimes against the human race on the scale." The Ladies of Reason and Moral ordered.
Two Judoon officers were needed to lift the tray with the red orb. They placed it in the left copper pane. This time there could be no doubt, the scale dropped rapidly at the left hand side, and the sheer load of the Master's crimes made the pan clattered on the floor. The orbs scattered over the ground and rolled in every direction, while the feathers drifted down gently, landing next to the upturned pan.
"For the accused, it is finally doom's day. The day of reckoning." Foks said, triumphant in his conclusion. "My lady judges, I hereby rest my case."
"We have reached a verdict." Lady Reason spoke first. The severity of her tone made clear the gravity of his offences. "I find the defendant Timelord called the Master, who has been accused of crimes against humanity, namely murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and cruelty committed against any of the registered conscious races by the shadow Proclamation - guilty."
"Guilty." Lady Moral said, sharing Reason's decision.
The Doctor's eyes turned to Lady Compassion, who breathed out deeply as she caught the look on the Doctor's face.
"Guilty." She finally admitted, and hereby sealed the Master's fate.
The Doctor shook his head, unable to accept the verdict. "Oh you are a self-righteous bunch." He said quietly. "Top drawer hypocrites. Especially you." Doctor nodded at mister Foks.
"What are you implying, Doctor?" The prosecutor raised an eyebrow at his protests.
"Judoon justice, a contradiction in term, that's what it is. What is justice here in this court but the title of a pantomime, with the accused already sentenced the moment he is charged with the crime?" The Doctor ridiculed.
"Don't mock the court of Justice, Doctor." Lady Reason said in an icy tone.
"Mister Foks has presented the evidence to us. We've heard the accusations and the accounts of the witnesses and the victims." Lady Moral commented while her eyes remained cold and hard as sapphires.
"We've reached a verdict within the rules of Shadow law." Reason and Moral added in unison.
The Doctor continued to shake his head. "Those court ghost's you've summoned are not victims. At least not the real victims. They're just cyber-ghosts, most of them conjured up by the conscience of the very man you try to condemn. If something should be held in doubt by reason it should be the reliability of the memories of a man who's conscience is ridden with guilt!" The Doctor argued.
"You're implying that our system is flawed?" Reason inquired, visibly offended by the allegation.
"Oh I'm not merely implying, I know it for sure! Your system is flawed, because it would only condemn a man who has a conscience, who has come to a moral understanding of what he had done wrong." The Doctor raged.
"What are you trying to do Doctor? You're twisting the facts, ridiculing the courses of justice!" Mister Foks objected.
"Well then, charge me for it! But I won't stop. The Master cannot fend for himself. Even if you would allow him to speak, which would never happen here in this bogus court. There are still things that needed to be said in his defense." The Doctor stepped forward, his hands folded as if in a prayer. "Ladies of justice, don't you see what I'm trying to make clear to you? Without his sense of guilt, the Master wouldn't be able to supply the prosecutor the imprints of his victims. Like my wise old friend Wilfred Mott had pointed it out to me, a remorseless man would have forgotten those crimes, and would stand in court with a clean conscience, simply because he wouldn't be burdened by one."
"This is preposterous. You cannot blame the system!" Foks ridiculed.
The Doctor ignored him and nodded at the prosecutor. "Take mister Foks here, for example."
Foks huffed in indignation. "And what about me sir?"
For the first time that he came to court, the Doctor smiled. "A mind-melt works in both directions, mister Foks. As you were staring into my soul and investigating my conscience, I could see into yours. And you know what?"
The Doctor leaned forward on the witness stand towards the astounded prosecutor. "I couldn't find one."
"What are you implying, that I am without a soul? Without a conscience?" Foks laughed nervously.
"Tell me mister Foks." The Doctor said, raising his chin in the air. "You with your polite smile and correct mannerism and machine-like efficiency in handling criminal charges. Your actions are always so precise, and flawless. It's a level of functioning that couldn't really be expected from a living being who is controlled by a messy tangle of neurons and a concoction of confusing emotions, could it? I wonder, who has exactly created you?"
A sly smile crawled over Foks's lips as he actually considered the Doctor's description of him as a complement. "Well spotted Doctor. The Judoons created me. I'm an android. I don't deny it. It's a fact. But it's one that's rather irrelevant to the case. Besides, the Shadow Proclamations knows what I am. They do a background scan before they let anyone join the force."
"An android, without conscience, practicing law, acting as the prosecutor for the Shadow Proclamations. Now what's wrong with that picture, hey?" Doctor asked with eyebrows raised.
"Mister Foks has served the court of justice for many years. His records are thus far unblemished." Moral defended him.
"Really? His conscience is unblemished too I reckon. Since he doesn't have one. The perfect civil servant to judge, but never to be judged. However, I did find the digital recording unit on past events inside mister Foks's mind. To you and me, the non androids in the room, that's his memory. What I have discovered in there - let me say it's rather blemishing." Doctor clacked his tongue and stared at Foks with a cocky expression on his face.
"My database has nothing to do with the case at hand." Foks objected nervously.
"Au contrary, it proves my point. Tell me mister Foks, where is your sidekick, your infuriating rhino-friend, mister Baines?"
"How should I know. His presence is not required at court." Foks snapped.
"Lady Compassion, please do me a favor and ask mister Foks about what he has done to mister Baines. He can't lie off course when you ask him."
"Mister Foks." Lady Compassion asked as she complied to the Doctor's remarkable request. "What have you done with mister Baines?"
Like all the other who had once been questioned by the Lady Shadow Architect, Foks was compelled to tell the truth. "I – I got rid of him." He stammered.
"You mean you forced him to resign?"
"No." Foks replied, forcing himself to keep his answers short.
"What have you done with him? And be precise." The Lady asked again, her suspicion aroused by Mister Foks's unusual cryptic reply.
"I've tricked him to have a word with me in the transmission room. Then I corrupted the console and activated the teleporter. He was sent out in transmission without clear destination coordinates."
"So, you killed him." Lady Compassion concluded.
"Yes." Foks admitted reluctantly.
A communal gasp was heard in court.
"There's more. Ask him about mister Baines's predecessor, mister Croup, and the Judoon officer before that, mister Solfol." The Doctor pressed on.
"What did you do to mister Croup and mister Solfol?" Moral and Reason asked infurious voices.
"I killed them." Foks admitted almost immediately as he realized that his game was up and he could no longer hide the truth.
"You killed all the officers that you worked with and couldn't stand. Because you got so irritated by their stupidity and clumsiness. You thought they held you back so you removed them from your side." The Doctor explained.
"They deserved it." Mister Foks spat, allowing his temper to slip. "They were such morons, simpletons with more muscle than mind, most of my precious time was wasted on trying to clean up the mess behind them. My Ladies of justice, I was just trying to optimize my workforce. As you know, I'm very passionate about my job!" Mister Foks defended himself.
"Spoke the guilty man without remorse." The Doctor stared at the lady judges seated on the high altar, knowing now that they understood him perfectly. "And yet, if you would try to judge him using the same system that you have exposed the Master to today, mister Foks would be found not guilty and be cleared of any charges. His database is not linked to a conscience, so therefore it could never supply a functional connection with his victims to gather the evidence against him." He put his hands inside his pockets and strolled forward with his chin raised in defiance. "Your justice system is flawed because a remorseless criminal would walk free, while an criminal who is ridden by remorse will be charged fully for his crimes and will have to pay for his honesty with his life."
"I've heard enough." Lady Moral spoke, reluctant to see the Doctor continue. "Officers, take mister Foks into custody."
"You can't do this to me!" Mister Foks struggled to free himself. "I was acting with the best of intentions. I was doing this for the good of the force."
"Mister Foks, you are charged with the crimes against Judoon officers Baines, Solfol, and Croup. Any appeals will be further assessed in the court of justice. Take him away." Lady Reason ordered, without pity for her former loyal assistant, and eager to remove this visible stain on their records out of sight as quickly as possible.
The Doctor watched how Foks was escorted from the courtroom. Wilf sat quietly opposite of the witness stand, and catching the Doctor's eyes he returned him a brittle smile. The old man was still shaken by the hideous things that he had witnessed inside his own mind after being exposed to mister Foks. Luckily for him, the effects weren't long-lasting and the fake memories were already starting to subside back into the fog of sub-consciousness.
Reason beckoned the Doctor to come further forward.
"As for you Doctor. You have made your point." She said, her voice as calm as a frozen river.
"We cannot claim that our system is flawless." Moral continued.
"Then retract the last accusations." The Doctor demanded. "The crimes of Harold Saxon have all been reversed. By the laws of logic, you can never accuse him of these crimes."
"Even if we did, Doctor, our verdict will remain the same." The two silver ladies answered in unison.
"But the scale wasn't tipped towards the Master's crimes. The feather of lady Compassion brought everything back in balance. You have to be spare him!"
"My dear Doctor. Our court has two functions." Moral explained, her voice finally betraying a hint of compassion for the Doctor's case. "One is to bring justice to those who are the victims. You're right that we cannot base our verdict too heavily on the court-ghosts, for the crimes against them would weigh far more in a remorseful man's conscience than in the stone cold heart of a ruthless soul. However, the second function of our court is to prevent future transgressions. If such heinous crimes like those that were committed by the Master does not receive the maximal penalty, what kind of example would be set for future generations? How do we then prevent equally ruthless men from doing the same?"
"But you can't!" The Doctor pleaded, realizing that the death penalty still stood. "Please. Let me take full responsibility over him. I swear on my honor, I'll be his guard day and night from now on. I'll make sure he won't hurt anyone. Please, give him another chance!"
"This is not an option Doctor."
"Ladies of justice. I'm begging you, make him not into an example of your hunger for retribution, but of your compassion!"
"I'm sorry, but the verdict stands." Reason stated.
"The Timelord called the Master, on the accounts of the indictment on which you've been convicted-" Moral continued.
Lady compassion swallowed hard. "This jury sentence you to death." She added softly.
"No! You can't! Not now he has finally come to his senses! Please!" The Doctor begged.
"The penalty is to be carried out immediately, and shall be recorded for prosperity as a warning." Moral and reason spoke, their voices once again turning efficient and cold.
The Master watched with hollow eyes how the Doctor continued to appeal for him, although he knew in his hearts that the case was lost. Like a child who knew it had done wrong, and had anticipated a beating, it felt like he wasn't quite there now it was finally happening at last. Numbness slowly spread throughout his body as he waited in silence till most of the Judoon officers had cleared the courtroom. Only the Ladies of justice and the witnesses remained. The Doctor, still unable to accept the verdict, kept pleading when two remaining guards acted as executioners headed to the console connected to the booth. There they activated the execution program, and a threatening drone rose from the bowels of the machine, triggering a harsh circle of light that hit down on the Master.
"Stop this! Please! You can't do this!" Panic grasped the Doctor's hearts as he realized what they were about to do. He ran forwards to the booth, but was held back by the two Judoons who grabbed him harshly by the shoulders.
"I'm sorry Doctor, but there is nothing you can do for him now." Lady Compassion said ruefully. She lowered a black veil over her face, a ceremonial gesture that was mimicked by her split egos Moral and Reason who hid their indifferent faces behind veils of white lace.
"Master, I'm sorry. I tried." The Doctor uttered, his voice a miserable, burdened whisper. His hands clenched and unclenched helplessly by his sides. I really tried. A tear glided down his cheek. You're right. I am an idiot. I'm not smart enough to save you. I'm so sorry.
The Master shook his head, his eyes filled with an unexpected kindness and understanding that refused to hold the Doctor accountable for his fate. The relentless drone from the machine became a threatening roar that drew up the Master's gaze at the circle of dilating light that would bring his eminent doom. His eyes became tearful. Now the final moment was upon him, he felt the last of his strength seep out of his body and his courage evaporate. A frightened whimpered escaped his lips. His hearts were pounding in fear.
No. Look at me Master. Keep your eyes on me. The Doctor pleaded.
The Master averted his eyes from the blinding light, and stared across the courtroom at the Doctor. He looked at him for strength, and found some measure of comfort in his caring eyes. He was thankful that in these final moments of his life, he was still given these precious seconds. For 900 years they had lived as mortal enemies, but now at least, hey would be parting as friends.
He could not speak, nor tell the Doctor with his mind the words that were weighing too heavily on his hearts. In silence, he bid his dear childhood friend farewell.
It happened so fast. There was hardly time for the Doctor to act. The blinding light turned a fierce crimson. Its deadly radiance filled the entire booth and engulfed the Master, who let out a blood-curling scream.
The Doctor lurched forward but was kept back by the Judoons. "Stop this! Stop this PLEASE! I beg you!"
But there was no mercy to be expected from the three judges who sat on their raised seats on the altar. Silent and unyielding they were, like heartless stone statues. Pinned in his position, but so achingly close, the Doctor had to watch helplessly how the 500000 rads of radiation penetrated each living cell of the Master's body and ripped it apart. The Master sunk through his knees, wrecked by pain, he tossed his head from side to side, while shielding his eyes from the obliterating rays with twisting arms, but there was no way to escape the pitiless beams. His face contorted in agony. Collapsing on the floor, he yelled out madly before his hearts burst in his chest.
The Doctor's screams for mercy joined that of his dying friend, in one final moment of communion.
The Judoon executioner finally drew back the lever. The lights in the booth dimmed, and the sound of the machine died down.
It was over.
The Judoons let go of the Doctor, who sank through his knees and sprawled upon the floor. It felt as if the Master's executioners had ripped him open and had cut out his hearts.
Hours had passed since the execution, and the Judoons had left the courtroom, taking with them the alien artifacts that would otherwise raised suspicion when the humans discovered them in the abbey. The court ghosts had also disappeared, vanished into thin air the moment the Master perished. Their existence in this world was no longer needed. The Ladies of Justice had also left. Moral and reason strode out of the courtroom without looking at the Doctor, who sat on the floor with knees pulled up against his stomach, a captive of his own all-consuming misery. Only Lady Compassion had halted her pace and had waited for a moment, quietly standing near the doctor while hesitating to comfort him. Finally, she decided that no kind words could help the wretched Timelord overcome his grief. She would have to let time mend his wounds.
"You have four hours before we let the abbey rejoin the earth's timeline." She said to Wilf. "Stay with him."
"I wouldn't leave his side. Even if the devil makes me." Wilf reassured her.
She laid a hand on Wilf's shoulder, and smiled kindly at him before she left.
In the end only Wilf and the Doctor remained. The Master's lifeless body lay on the floor, still on the exact spot where he had fallen after the execution booth was teleported back to the ship. A curled up, frightened figure, his last gaps of agony were still visible on his features. His eyes were mercifully closed.
"Doctor, are you alright?" Wilf asked sympathetically. He didn't want to disturb him in his grief, but he did realize that soon the extra time granted by the Lady Architect would run out.
The Doctor wiped his nose with the back of his hand. His tears had dried into salty stains on his cheeks. He felt cold and numb. Dead inside. His hearts had turned to stone.
"I know you're still grieving, but we have to do something with his remains."
The Doctor gazed back at Wilf.
"You can't just leave him here for all to see. We need to bury him, maybe there is a certain Timelord ritual…"
"Oh Wilf." The Doctor sobbed. The memory of the last time that he had to perform the Master's funeral rites struck him in his hearts like a knife and he could no longer hold back his tears. Wilf took the grief-struck Timelord in his arms and let him cry on his shoulders.
"Just let it all out." Wilf shushed. "Let it all out. There is no shame in it."
The Doctor buried his face in the old man's jumper, choking on his tears. This was all his fault. No matter what his reason would try to convince him later on, how it would claim that the Master had only harvested the violent, pitiless death that he had sowed with his past cruelties, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself. In his hearts, he would always believe that the Master's life had been destroyed because of him. That was the unforgiving burden of guilt that he would have to carry with him for the rest of his life. There would be no opportunity to atone for his crime, no chance for redemption.
The Lady Shadow Architect did not know it, but she and her split-egos had not only judged over the Master's fate, but also over his.
They had condemned him for life.
There was just a tiny movement of the fingers. Just a twitch, nothing more. Still. For someone who was believed to be a corpse this was one hell of an achievement.
A second twitch. This time of the leg. As if he was kicking in his sleep. The Doctor was too much caught up in his grief to notice it, but Wilf saw the movement in the periphery of his eyes. He glanced over the Doctor's shoulders at the Master.
A gasp for air, followed by a soft cough.
Wilf's eyes grew wide in shock.
The Master's sucked in a deep breath of air, straining his lungs. Then his eyes flew wide open, as if he was waking up from a frightening nightmare. He rose to an upright position, wheezing for air and coughing violently.
"Doctor?!" Wilf breathed, and tapped the Timelord on his shoulder.
The Doctor spun around. "Master?" He muttered through his tears. Like Wilf, he couldn't believe what he saw.
The Master continued coughing, but stared back at the Doctor with a glint of alertness in his eyes.
"Master!" The Doctor yelled, and crawled towards him.
"What?!" The Master said aggravated, while still trying to regain his breath.
"Doctor, he's speaking!" Wilf pointed at the Master. "He couldn't do that before!"
"Yes, 500000 rads of radiation did give a bit of a spark to my bedazzled brains. It triggered the neurons to heal more efficiently. Thank you for pointing out the bloody obvious, granddad." The Master muttered sarcastically, while he rolled his head over his stiff shoulders, making it crack most satisfactory.
"They didn't-" The Doctor stammered. "They didn't kill you."
'No, they didn't, but they came pretty close." The Master grinned. He looked down to check his arms and legs and traced with his fingertips over his face, feeling his cheeks and brows, and pinching his nose. "Not close enough." He sighed. "I'm healed, but I'm still trapped in this cursed body." He looked up at the Doctor and giggled insanely. "500000 bloody rads and still no regeneration." He spread his arms out. "How much would it take?" He exclaimed.
"Doctor, not that I'm not happy for you or anything, but why is he still alive?" Wilf asked.
"I don't know." The Doctor muttered. "It's…it must have something to with his accelerated healing capacity…Rassilon." The Doctor's eyes were bulging as his mind quickly strung all the facts together. "Off course! It must be Rassilon! He only brought you back to make you suffer an agonizing death. He never thought that you would actually survive the destruction of Gallifrey. Master, Rassilon's cruel act of retribution has actually saved your life! He has made you -"
"Immortal." The Master finished the Doctor's sentence, and smiled as he realized the very irony of it. "By Gallifrey, I know the vile vicious bastard is dead, but…oh how I just wish he was still alive to choke on this."
The Doctor launched forward, his eyes shining with tears of joy, keen to take him into his arms.
"What the hell are you doing?" The Master said, alarmed, he recoiled from the Doctor.
"Oh come on! Just one hug, you crazy sociopath! One tiny little hug! It wouldn't hurt you." The Doctor cheered, with relief washing over his face.
"Stay away from me!" The Master kept backing away till he reached the foot of the altar. He waved his hands anxiously at the Doctor. "Seriously, stay away."
The Doctor, who thought that the Master was just his acting like his grumpy old self, ignored his warnings and rushed over to him. He wrapped his arms around his chest. The moment they collided, a massive transfer of radiation energy coursed through the Doctor's body, paralyzing his muscles and ripping through his cells. His hearts tottered like an old clock and threatened to stop beating. But before that could happen, the Master grabbed hold of the foot of the altar and diverted a part of the violent energy into the steel and stone construction. The Doctor gasped, and his eyes rolled back in their sockets as he slipped out of the Master's arms like a boneless bag of skin.
The Tardis is so kind to remind me that it is almost time. Although I'm not eager to leave this world, I know she is right.
I'm so very tired. My legs buckle, my back hurts, and my head is stuffed with cobwebs. I cannot think clearly. All I want is to lie down and sleep.
Sleep, and let eternity lay claim me once more.
I know I can shut my eyes and lay in peace. I've done my duty to him. The Doctor. The man who had given me a second chance in life, a new beginning. Soon, I will face him again with no regrets or shame in my hearts, because I know that I've lived that life that he had given me to the fullest.
My old hearts rattle unsteadily, my pulse is weakening. My old body feels cold and drained.
I lay down in bed. Still fully dressed. At least I would like to appear decent when they find me. I rest my hands on my chest and close my eyes.
I wonder if I will dream of those days gone by, those windswept hills on our beloved home planet, two children of Gallifrey running and screaming up to the sky. Or perhaps I would see, in my final moments, the two Timelords that we have become, that we once were, running side by side as we explore all the dangers and wonders of the universe.
Doctor, my dearest, oldest friend. You always ran faster than me, although in life, I've never admitted it. But you were always able to find the right track quicker than I did. But eventually, I'll get to our destination. I'll get there in the end.
I can just see him standing there, waiting at the top of the red slopes of Mount Perdition, waving down at me with that silly grin on his face.
Without a moment of hesitation, I run up the hill to join him.
When he opened his eyes again, he was surprised to be onboard of the Tardis with Wilf's concerned face hovering right above his nose.
"Doctor, are you alright?"
Except for a strange feeling of déjà-vu, his dry throat and stiff muscles that screamed murder when he tried to use them, he was actually fine. He was lying on his back in his own bed, fully dressed, but covered under a double layer of blankets. Slowly, he shook his head and let the recollections of what had happened come back to him.
The first thing that entered his mind was the Master.
"Wilf where is the Master?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, he's outside your bedroom."
Doctor's eyes went wide. "He's in the console room?"
He rushed out of the bedroom and ran down the corridor, followed by nervous Wilf. When he dashed into the console room he found the Master leaning over the controls. He had managed to break the chains, although the manacles were still secured around his wrists and ankles, and he was still wearing the white collar with the detection device around his neck. He was dancing around the Tardis core with a mad happy grin on his face.
"Ha! My dear Doctor, came back to join us from the dead? Can't blame you, it didn't agree with me either." He held a screwdriver upside down in his hand and whacked down the handle on the Tardis controls without much consideration.
"Hey! Stop that! What are you doing?"
"Just trying to hit some sense into it. The old girl won't listen to me one bit. She must remember the last time we went out together, she was kinda jumpy when I tried to fix her up with the paradox construction." He started tapping on the keyboards like mad. "Still, I think she's just playing hard to get."
"How?" The Doctor asked, running his fingers through his hair. "How did you get here? Who showed you where the Tardis was?"
"Granddad did." The Master nodded at Wilf. "He was worried about you. Thought you died on us. I told him to drag your dead corpse back to the Tardis. So you can absorb the healing powers of the core to help you restore." He giggled. "Really, you can't be but amazed by the sheer gullibility of these humans." He snorted.
"I-I though it would save you. And he told me he would help." Wilf looked puzzled. "Hey, does that he was lying to me?"
"Yes you moron." A giddy smile swept over the Master's face. "It does." He gave Wilf a smug wink.
"Master! Step away from the controls, you're not completely right in your mind yet." The Doctor touched the side of his temples to accentuate this rather urgent message. "You can't fly the Tardis. You need rest!"
"Oh hush, you stick in the mud spoil sport! That's the last time I let you tag along." He pointed accusingly at the Doctor. "I could have just left you stranded with old prune face over there. All I needed was the Tardis."
"Well why didn't you leave us alone?" Wilf asked, afraid that they have become the hostages of a mad homicidal alien. "Why did you trick us to come onboard?"
"Because it's more FUN!" The Master said, rolling his eyes because of the pure stupidity of the question.
"No please, be gentle with that, you can't force it!" The Doctor yelled in panic, but the Master ignored him completely and pulled down five levers at the same time, sending the Tardis in a mad spin.
"Master, stop this!" Doctor yelled, holding on to the console with a white-knuckled grip, but the Master was bouncing around the console room, exhilarated and drunk on the sheer pleasure of being alive and able to interact, he felt an unbound energy flowing through his limbs.
"Make me!" He threw back his head and laughed, and stabbed the buttons at random. Sparks came off the Tardis's core, setting the consoles on fire. Dangerous flames flared up. The core trembled violently, shuddering the windows and the very ground beneath their feet.
The Master looked at this mad chaos, and laughed joyously, while the Tardis continued to buck like a stubborn mule stung by an angry wasp.
Wilf clung on the railing for dear life, while the Doctor finally managed to place himself in front of the console.
"We're crashing!" He screamed as he checked the flashing readouts on the monitors.
"Oh absolutely!" The Master grinned madly, and spread his hands up in the air, enjoying every minute of it. "But you know what, as long as it's not on that rotating ball of dirt called Earth. I don't bloody care!"
The Doctor managed to slip his hand inside his breast pocket and took out his trusted sonic screwdriver.
"I'm afraid you'll be very disappointed." He muttered, and raising an eyebrow, he quickly whizzed the sonic over the navigation board.
Okay, folks, this was it for Judoon Justice. Please let me know what you thought of the story, it keeps me writing. The Doctor and the Master (and Wilf) will return in two weeks time, on April the 10th in the next installment of the A Timelord and his Mad man series called "A murderous feast". NB: for those coming from LJ and having trouble submitting a review: just hit the review button underneath, you don't need an account to review, just fill in a a name.