The sensation came over the Rani without warning, the vaguely-familiar connected her people shared. It washing over her in the middle of her meeting with General Harry Sark and leaving her as quickly as it had come. But its meaning was clear; her shielding was breaking, and the Gallifrey project had been thwarted by him of all people. She had no idea how or why he'd been drawn to the experiment, but it was unmistakably his doing; she could sense his pride as it teetered on the verge of smugness, and it filled her with disgust.
"Took you long enough," she murmured, licking her full red lips with anticipation. "Oh, but I've been such a bad girl all this time, and you never even knew I existed. But now you do, and the real fun begins…"
General Sark looked up from his desk, scowling at the attractive young woman muttering away before him. "I'm sorry, Ma'am," he said, patience slowly wearing thin, "but who are you talking to? Need I remind you that this is a confidential meeting, and if you are communicating with an outside party then you are in severe violation of UNIT rules."
"Oh, lighten up Sarky," she purred, and instantly he was back under her thumb, his head hanging as he blushed deeply. She looked over him at her reflection in his office's window, and revelled once more at what she saw; she absolutely adored this body, and had been so careful not to bring any harm to it. It had power all of its very own.
Externally, she looked no older than late-twenties, her piercing emerald eyes the only sign that the body contained a soul centuries older. Her face was without blemish, and, aesthetically, was what these primates would classify as 'drop-dead-gorgeous', but which to her was just another weapon in her arsenal; she only had to flutter her eyelashes at any random passer-by and they were her willing slave forever (she hardly ever had to resort to her old mind-control techniques anymore – not that they weren't still fun). Lustrous jet-black hair fell across her shoulders and over her pefect curves, only helping to add to her arsenal. Her recent regeneration had been so kind to her, and she would be eternally grateful for the power she now possessed. After all, what man on Earth could resist a ravishing beauty and brains? She was willing to bet even the infamous Doctor would be hard-pressed to refuse her in this body. Oh, yes, this was real power.
It was a long while before General Sark spoke up again, and when he did she didn't like what she had to say. "Project Lazarus is proceeding on schedule, Ma'am," he stated as he tapped away at his computer console.
"I'm afraid 'on schedule' is no longer acceptable, General," she sighed, resting her hands on his desk. She knew he could see, that he was looking; she wanted him to look. It kept him obedient. "Already the enemy is nearing upon discovering our project. And you really don't want that to happen. So," she added with a deep sigh that she knew strained her against the constraints of her low-cut crimson dress, "the schedule needs to be accelerated. Immediately."
"I'm… I'm sorry, Ma'am," he gasped, his face flushing a similar shade of crimson, "our tech-teams are working as fast as they possibly can backwards-engineering these… nanogenes? They're far beyond anything we're currently possible of."
"Benefits of time travel, darling," she drawled as she traced a black-varnished nail along his cheek. "Besides, I thought that's what your boys were best at, Sark? Backwards-engineering alien technology."
"You may be mistaking us for the old Torchwood, Ma'am," he replied duly, pulling his head away from her caress as he tugged at the wedding band on his left hand. He was trying so hard to remain faithful, she mused. That just made the game all the more delicious. "They were the ones who routinely gutted anything extraterrestrial for use within the British military. We rarely get the opportunity."
"Then get some of the Torchwood technicians in," she ordered, "speed things up! You haven't got much time, and I should know."
"Really, Ma'am?" he asked, a frown setting in. "Before today you kept assuring me the future involved Project Lazarus being a complete success and a key weapon in fighting off every alien invasion attempt for decades to come. And now we're in risk of failing?"
"Time can be rewritten," she snapped impatiently. "Especially by him," she added with a disdainful hiss.
"'Him', Ma'am? Who's 'him'?"
"No one you need worry about yet," she assured him. "Let me worry about him for now – you just focus on getting those Torchwood scientists in to work on the project."
"Afraid that's out of the question," replied Sark sadly, "they were all lost in the Canary Wharf incident."
"Oh? Cybermen or Daleks?" she asked, her curiosity piqued.
The UNIT general paused to give her a long, hard look. "Does it matter?" he asked finally, "It was a tragedy. That's all there is to it. If the Doctor hadn't intervened…"
"Ah, yes," she growled, stroking her chin, "the precious Doctor."
"Oh? Do you know him, Ma'am?" he asked curiously, "What with you being a time-traveller and everything I'd imagine you must have at some point in time. Or is it times?"
"Can't say I've had the… pleasure," she lied. "But one does hear the many, many stories and legends."
"Yes, well… if it weren't for him the Canary Wharf incident could very well have been the end of the world."
"Oh, no," whispered the Rani as she turned the monitor of the general's console around to read the status reports on the second-generation of the Gallifrey project. "We couldn't have that… not yet."
Next Time: The Earth stands on the brink of alien invasion (again). Only this time the enemy aren't attacking solely to conquer, they're playing a game amongst their species' four clans to earn the right to rule the others. And they're keeping score. But the Earth has a champion that they've called upon, and the Doctor is determined to win.
S1E3: The Gamerian Invasion
A/N: There you have it, the horror is finally over! But the real troubles have only just begun for Martha and the Doctor... that is, if y'all still wanna read them...? Let me know in a review!