Fingers sorted through the components. Weighing, rejecting, selecting, implementing.

The parts were quickly assembled, placed in the alloted places and slotted in the alloted slots, with mechanical, efficient noises and mechanical, efficent movements.

The final component of the FN FAL 7.62 mm rifle was snapped into position, and the eight year old girl took off the blindfold, smiling.

Jo Grant clicked the stopwatch, and turned the face towards the two-way mirror, sporting the smile that tries to convey that everything's fine, but only empathises the increasing panic of the wearer.

On the other side, seated behind a table strewn with notes, the Doctor watched with steepled fingers and an inscrutable expression.

Standing closer to the mirror were the Brigadier, Yates and Benton, wondering wether to be impressed or worried.

"Fifty-seven seconds from field-stripping to reassembly."

"Not bad for a little girl who never saw a modern military rifle in her life."

Yates leaned in closer to Benton. "Want to see how she goes with some of those M-16's?"

"Quite unnecessary, my dear Captain." The Doctor raised a sheet of paper. "We have a complete list of what the Master imprinted her with, all we were doing were making sure if it took."

The Brigadier looked back at the little girl, then back at the Doctor. "But why? Why kidnap eight children from a school, kill seven and give ..."

"Flash Imprint, Brigadier. Sontaran cloning technology. Chemically dose the brain to make the visual cortex more receptive, make take in and retain vast amounts of imformation. Then feed the information to the subject visually, using ... say a TV set, or something along those lines. Genetics aside, that's how Sontarans can create millions of battle ready soldiers in minutes."

Yates looked at the girl, dismantling a Browning Hi-Power pistol. "Very effective."

"Not for the other seven."

"Alien technology being used on human children. The Master hadn't enough data to properly adapt the machinery."

The Brigadier was scanning the documents that the Doctor had printed off from the Master's captured machinery. The M1911, the M1 Carbine, the Remington 870 ... the Heckler & Koch MP5, the Uzi, that new Desert Eagle, something called a Glock ...

"Teething troubles aside, it doesn't explain why the Master would give children a comprehensive education in nearly every weapon on the planet ..."

"Because you're looking at the wrong document." The Doctor brandished another piece of paper before handing it to Yates.

"... Ancient Egypt ... Mayans ... Greece ..."

"Surely it's obvious."

"I'm afraid not."

The Doctor stood up. "The Master was creating a disposable asset."

"He wanted to use a child?"

"Not exactly ..." the Doctor rubbed the back of his neck. "... the Master, using time travel, could deposit a small amount of money in the past, and arrive in the present to a fortune. Or he could purchase a painting from a penniless Van Gogh and sell it now for millions, correct?"

"Go on."

"These children, every one of them, were from an upper class background. Heirs to titles, families of means, political influence."

The Brigadier thought of the ensuing headache the parents of the dead children could create. "Yes."

"We all know how the Master likes to unearth ancient weapons and use them ... plunder dead races and the cause of their downfall. Uxarieus, Devil's End, the Silurian Colony off the south coast, Atlantis. However, he has to do all the research, all the dirty work himself, because he can't trust anybody else not to be tempted ... and hypnotised minions have little initiative ..."

"He was creating ..." Yates looked at Jo. " ... an assistant?"

"An asset. He invests now, twenty years from now, when her grateful parents have taken her back in, thankful she's unharmed, the Master makes a phone call, reactivates her conditioning. Trained to fight, intelligent enough for him to delegate critical tasks, and even though her personality's intact, completely loyal and obedient. And her position in society can open doors that would be closed to others, another plus." The Doctor moved closer to the mirror. "If the Master hadn't underestimated how missing children motivate the authorities here, we would never have found out. Would have done the procedure on his TARDIS instead of in an abandoned warehouse."

"And if we'd known the kidnapper was the Master, he wouldn't have hypnotised the arresting policemen and escaped."

"Doctor, do we have to worry about any more potential children being brainwashed like this?"

The Doctor took another piece of paper. "Unlikely ... from the looks of these readings he'd just acquired the technology, and beginning his trial and error. I suspect he was just ... having a go. Now that UNIT will be monitoring child abduction cases from now on, he'll just move on."

"What now?"

"Take her home after I eliminate as much of the programming as I can."

"As much?"

"Brigadier, the Master selected children because their minds, their brains are still developing. Capable of accepting and absorbing fantastic amounts of information. What the Master put in there, she's learned for good. I can eliminate the obedience conditioning, but I intend to leave the rest well alone."

"So you can remove the Master's programming."

"You can spell 'lobotomy', Brigadier?"

The Brigadier let the Doctor into the interview room, restraining that long suffering sigh before turning to Yates. "How long can we persuade her parents to leave their daughter to our care?"

"A well connected Lord and Lady, sir? Who's child has been abducted, returned, then taken again without any explanation by a U.N. military agency?"

The Brigadier picked up his cap from the table. "Sargeant Benton, try and hurry the Doctor along while Yates and I try to stop the girl's parents from declaring war on Geneva, would you?"

The two officers left, while Benton glanced at the interview room; the Doctor had placed both his hands on the girl's head while talking softly, Jo patting her back in a reassuring fashion.


"Are you a real soldier?"

Benton looked at the little girl he was escorting to the mess hall. After seeing her stabbing between her outstretched fingers with a pair of sissors at high speed, Benton was going to make sure she was let nowhere near the armoury. Yes, the Doctor said she wasn't going to be like Frank Sinatra in that film, but Benton had a pretty good idea what any curious child would do in her situation.

"Yes I am."

The girl smiled. Bloody hell, she was going to break some hearts someday.

"What's your name?"

"Sargeant Benton."

"I'm very pleased to meet you Sargeant Benton."

"Are you going to tell me your name then?"

"Lara. Lara Croft."