The outside world had become a most confusing place for Anne. She was used to the busy streets of 16th and 18th century London, packed with pedestrians from all walks of life, sedan chairs, and horse-drawn carriages, and the smell of horse manure and wet straw on the road. But now, the city was swamped by a terrifying tide of traffic that filled the streets with a horrible noise and suffocating chemical fumes. Colorful vehicles zoomed by without any visible aid of horses, while the people sitting inside the weird shiny cocoons seemed at ease to travel at such a deadly speed without even a driver on the perch. More than once, Anne had attempted to cross the road, but finally didn't risked it, for every time she found a gap in the oncoming traffic, new metal monsters on wheels would suddenly appear. The most puzzling thing to her was that it seemed that no-one else was trying get to the other side. The crowd seemed to be perfectly content to walk on the same side as long as the streets were lined by shops.
"Hey, where are you going sweetheart?" A shaggy-looking man who had deliberately bumped into her asked. "Why are you wearing that dress?" His breath smelled of cheap alcohol when he belched in he face and she went out of his way as quickly as possible. "Hey I was talking to you! What are you? Late for Cinderella's ball? Are you dating prince Charming or what?"
She ignored his offensive calls, waving through the crowd just to get rid of him. Everywhere she went, people were turning their heads and staring at her. I have to get out of this dress, she thought. It was drawing too much attention, although it probably would have been worse if she had appeared in her execution gown, strapped in her bee-waste corset, and dressed like a French aristocrat who had fallen on hard times. Most of the women she saw in the streets were actually wearing what seemed to be riding trousers, and were dressed far more plainly than she was used to in fashionable 18th century France. How times had changed, she pondered. It wasn't until she heard the Doctor's voice rising above the racket of the traffic that she realized that she was being followed.
"Hey, the blond girl in the wedding dress. Please, stop running!"
She glanced over her shoulder, and saw a tall man in a long flapping coat, with spiked and scruffy hair and wild inquisitive eyes, flexing like a fish through the dense crowd to get to her. "Stop! The Doctor shouted. "Don't run!"
Needless to say that it didn't help. Spooked, Anne picked up her dress and ran even faster, her inch high heels barely touched the pavement while she pushed through the crowd with renewed boldness.
"Stop!" The Doctor repeated, noticing with great worry that she was getting away. How on earth that girl could run so fast on those impossible heels was beyond him. "Please stop! I am not going to hurt you! I just want to talk!" He tried.
But Anne didn't listen and kept fleeing from him in a white blur of lace. She was in such a state of panic that she carelessly jumped on the road once the cars had stopped in front of a red traffic light. She started meandering through the lanes of cars, but didn't make it to the other side in time. The lights turned green again and the traffic started to move, trapping her right in the middle of road. Anne swirled around, frightened like a deer caught in the headlights, while passing drivers hooted their horns at her to get the crazy bride out of the way. The Doctor was alarmed by a yellow sports car that turned around the corner. The driver's view of the girl was completely blocked by a large van parked nearby, and the roaring engines didn't make any effort to lower speed. By the time the driver did see her, it was already impossible for him to evade her.
Anne's breath stalled when she watched the bright yellow vehicle race towards her, the face of the driver that became visible through the front window was mirroring her own in horror, when a quick strong push in her back made her tumble forward. She heard a dull bump when her head hit the asphalt, followed by a mad whirlwind of screeching tires and the horrible noise of crashing metal and splintering glass.
Dazed by the blow, and feeling hot and heady like after she had too much wine, Anne scrambled up and dared to look around. An entire lane had come to a complete standstill, while a group of cars directly behind her had bumped into each other, causing considerable damage. She slowly staggered back on her feet. A small head wound dripped beads of blood into her left eye and colored her world in a red haze. On the road, right in front of her, lying on his side with his long coat rolled up around his torso and with his silver tie hanging over his face, was the strange man who had been following after her. A pool of crimson slowly spread underneath his spiky strands of hair. Anne stepped back in shock, just when a short bloke stepped out of the yellow racecar. His hair was thinning and he wore a fashionable T-shirt that greeted the outside world with the cheerful message Hi gorgeous. Meet the EX-man! Visible shaken by the accident, his pasty white face had entered yet another category of pale. "Is he alright?" He asked Anne in a small, unnerved voice.
"I…I don't know. I don't even know who he is." She clutched her forehead in confusion. "Why did he do this?" She muttered, realizing that the Doctor had just pushed her out of harm's way.
"You mean you don't know him?" The man asked, finding this difficult to believe. "But that fellow jumped right in front of me to save your life!
Anne shook her head wildly. "I'm sorry, but I have to go." She wanted to turn away, but the reluctant driver grabbed on to her.
"Please sir." Anne begged him. "This has nothing to do with me."
"You can't just go." The man told her, convinced she needed help. "You need to go the hospital. Both of you. You're probably in shock. Stay here and let me call an ambulance."
"I don't need to be seen by a physician. I am not injured! Let me go –" She stopped struggling when she saw a unusual wooden structure move through the lanes of stagnant traffic. A closed carriage, polished to a mirror-shine and as black as midnight, moved towards them, drawn by a four span of magnificent black horses. Her anxious heart felt a great wave of relief when she recognized the emblem engraved in gold on the door panels on the side. It was the symbol of alpha and omega merged into one, the sacred sign of the Watcher's order. They had finally come to collect her and bring her back home.
"What's going?" The little man from the sports car muttered, his grip on Anne weakened when he saw how fast the carriage was approaching. "Hey!" He let go of her and waved at the driver, frantically trying to warn him. "Hey! Keep out of the way! Can't you see that there has been an accident? Someone is seriously injured here!"
But instead of turning away or slowing down, the carriage actually increased speed, and kept heading straight forward. The man panicked and jumped aside, leaving Anne in the direct path of the four galloping horses. Just when she could feel the thunder of their hooves move the ground underneath her feet and vibrate up into her chest, the carriage made a sharp turn to the left. With a firm, strong grip, the driver pulled in the reigns, and the horses reared up high, causing the vehicle to come to an abrupt full stop. The door of the cabin slammed open and a man dressed in an 18th century horseman's outfit appeared, took off his hat and turned his face to the light. Anne sighed deeply when she recognized the scar running over his left eye.
"Thank God, Antoine!" She embraced the horseman tightly and kissed his cheeks. "I feared you wouldn't come."
"My sincere apologies milady. Our mistress made a slight miscalculation on the timing of the gap. Let's just say that we left on time, but arrived too late." He said with a little smile that quickly vanished when he noticed the blood on her face. You're injured." He said with great concern. Anne shook her head. "It's nothing serious." She reassured him in a soft voice.
"Why is she still standing there?" Another man shouted from inside the carriage, clearly impatient to get things going. "Get her on the coach! The next gap is in less than 11 minutes. We cannot afford to miss it."
Anne climbed inside the black carriage and took a seat near the window. Before she could take a last look outside, the man next to her pulled the drapes shut in front of her nose. "Did you get it?" He asked, narrowing his eyes. He wouldn't think twice of throwing her out in the streets again if she had not fulfilled her task, but Anne nodded and instinctively closed her hand around the silver locker near her heart. "Here." He told her, handing over a copper chain with a silver amulet attached. "Remember to wear the hook close to the skin, or the jump might not work for you."
Anne was still busy strapping the chain around her ankle when the carriage rocked on its springs. Antoine reappeared, and pulled the body of the Doctor inside the passenger compartment, while the driver stood on the footplate and helped with the Doctor's legs.
"What are you doing?" She asked, her green eyes wide. "That's the man who's been following me around. Why are you taking him?"
"Sorry milady." Antoine puffed, lowering the Doctor down on the floor between the seats. "We were told to bring back a tall, dark-haired man who crosses his path with our lady Anne. He fits the descriptions." Antoine crouched down and quickly fastened another set of copper chains around the Doctor's left ankle. "I'm just following the Watcher's orders."
"But he's dead. You'll be dragging along a corpse." Anne objected fiercely. Somehow, the idea of bringing this stranger back with them to the 18th century stirred up great worries inside her heart. She wasn't a superstitious woman, but she couldn't help to see the sudden appearance of this peculiar man as a bad omen, particularly when his presence here was actually predicted by the Watcher. "The jump wouldn't work for him. It does not transfer things without a life's light inside." She tried.
"He's not quite dead. At least not yet." Antoine answered, and demonstrated it by poking a heavy elbow in the Doctor's ribcage. The Timelord reflexively gasped in pain and surprise, but otherwise his eyes remained shut. Anne, freaked out by the sight, moved further away from their unconscious prisoner.
"That's enough Henri." Antoine told the driver. "Get us going. We'll tie him up when we are back after we make the jump." He shut the door and plopped down in the passenger seat opposite to Anne. Outside, the driver climbed on the box and with a snap of the reins to stir the horses, the carriage began to move.
"I'm not so sure this is such a good idea anymore." Wilf muttered, clutching his chest to check if he was about to have a heart attack or not. They had been running for at least 15 minutes with the Master pushing onward with the determination of a bloodhound hot on the Doctor's trail. Now they had finally reached the end of the street and there was still no sign of the other Timelord or the mysterious blond. Wilf was exhausted, for unlike the Doctor, the Master wasn't the least considerate of his human companion and wasn't trying to lower his pace to allow him to catch up with him. "Are you sure you have any idea where he went?" Wilf huffed, bending over with his hands resting on his knees.
The Master tapped his nose knowingly. "I can still smell him." He replied, and stuck his nose in the air and sniffed. "That way." He told Wilf and bolted in the pointed out direction.
"Oh right. Did anyone ever tell you lads that this is kind of disturbing?" Wilf commented, trying hard to keep up with him again. They reached the part of the road where Anne had just caused havoc among the 21st century London car-drivers. "What's going on here?" Wilf asked, noticing the car-wrecks and the traffic jam, which seemed to be caused by a short bloke with a receding hairline, who was busy pushing a sports car the color of a cartoon lemon to the side of the road.
"Yeah, yeah, I heard you! I'm working on it!" The man shouted over his shoulder, while the long line of waiting cars behind him kept honking impatiently. "I'm getting out of the way as quickly as possible!"
"Looks like an accident. Luckily nobody seems to be injured." Wilf noted, but the Master wasn't so sure. With a strange resolute expression on face, he went over to owner of the defunct car to have a word.
"Did you see a tall man in a striped brown suit running after a blond girl in a wedding dress?" He asked in a very direct manner. Wilf thought this was a rather peculiar thing to do. The man obviously had other things on his mind than to keep an eye out for run-away brides bolting through the streets, but to the old man's surprise, the owner of the yellow sports car started to nod fervently. "Oh yeah. I did. Him and that crazy blond you mean."
"What happened?" The Master asked impatiently.
"Well, she stood right in the middle of the bloody road, didn't she?" He answered, as his guilt had turned into misplaced anger. "I almost ran her over because I didn't see her. I couldn't have seen her. No-body could have seen her coming from that corner." Wilf noticed how the dignified fury on the man's face was quickly fading away as he addressed the Master, who kept staring at him, his dark eyes unblinking and his own expression set in stone. "I…I didn't see him" The man apologized. "It wasn't my fault I swea -" The rest of the sentence died in the man's throat, and sweat started to trickle down his fat neck. Suddenly, he felt like he was burning up with his heart racing inside his chest. It was those cursed eyes. It was like staring into the narrow slits of a hissing asp, right before it sunk its fangs into your face.
He-he came out of the blue. Just jumped right in front of me. I couldn't stop…I just couldn't stop." The man rambled.
The Master took his icy gaze from the whimpering man and crouched next to the ominous stain that spread beneath the tires. He dipped two fingers in the sticky red liquid, brought it to his nose, and breathed in the coppery scent.
"Um. Let me get my car out of the way." The man muttered, snapping out of what was a very terrifying experience. He was about to turn away from the strange man when a nasty blow struck him on the side of the head and send him reeling back till he smashed into the bonnet of his own vehicle. He had just enough time to spin around before a second blow hit his stomach. It made him curl up in pain and sink through his shaking knees. As the Master crouched beside him, he gazed up at the Timelord with absolute terror. "Keys." The Master whispered threateningly. Needless to say, the man didn't need to think twice to hand it over to him.
"What are you doing!" Said Wilf, absolutely shocked by what he had just witnessed. "What, you're molesting people and stealing cars now?"
The Master opened the yellow cardoor and jumped into the driver's seat. "Get in granddad! They're getting away." He barked at Wilf.
"What are you talking about? Who are getting away?"
"The men who have taken the Doctor and the girl." Said the Master. He had been extracting all what he needed to know, directly out of the man's memories. "They're on a black carriage, heading south."
"He didn't say a word about a seeing a carriage."
"Look, it doesn't matter! Hurry up or we'll lose them!" The Master shouted back, his eyes suddenly wild and menacing. Unlike the Doctor, he didn't find any satisfaction, nor feel the urge to explain his every move to Wilf. He turned the key and with one quick swipe of the laserscrewdriver over the dashboard, the five-cylinder engine came roaring back to life.
Wilf looked down at the injured man with guilt written all over his face. "I'm sorry but I think we have to borrow your car." Wilf apologized, hastily stepping over him. "I promise we'll bring it back." He added as a comforting note, before he took the passenger seat next to Master.
"No we're not." The Master stated firmly, glancing over his shoulder, he spun the car around.
Wilf was still struggling to fasten his seatbelt when the Master drove the car backwards up the sidewalk, sending the pedestrians fleeing left and right behind them, while he struggled to keep the monster car under control. Wilf felt a sudden pang of panic. "Do you actually know how to drive?" He asked. His old heart leaped up his throat when the wheels bumped back onto the road with a nasty thud that sent them both lurching forward.
"I had a personal chauffeur when I was prime minister." The Master shrugged, stepping on the gas as soon as the front wheels hit the asphalt. "I've watched him often enough to know how not to drive." He returned to Wilf a most maniacal grin.
"All right, that's it, we're done for." Wilf mumbled fearfully.
Not far away from the Master and Wilf, the black carriage was moving through the heavy London traffic on a much slower pace than the passengers onboard would prefer. While Antoine kept an eye on their prisoner, who had started to stir and moan as he rolled over the carriage floor, he also kept glancing down at his fobwatch. The dials were coming alarmingly close to midday, and they still needed to drive all the way around the city's grand park to get to their destination.
He stuck his head out of the window. "Can't we go any faster?" He yelled out at the driver, who shook his head worriedly in return. Henri was right. They couldn't possible go any faster, for the four-lane road was packed with traffic in both directions, and the four-span was caught right in the middle of it. The horses were forced to trot along on a slow pace. There wasn't even room for the carriage to turn.
"We can't go on like this. We only have minutes left before the gap appears." Antoine glanced at the sidewalk where in the distance, the iron gates that marked the entrance of Regent Park slowly became visible. "Take a shortcut." He ordered, slapping the side of the carriage with the flat of his hand. "Move to the left and go through the parklands."
The driver tipped his hat and started to maneuver the four-span into a narrow gap between two double-decker busses.
Meanwhile, the Master was getting very close, steering the yellow racecar down the lanes like a madman and swirling between the other vehicles with breathtaking speed. Wilf held on to his seat while he watched with sheer dread how the Master managed to swirl pass and dodge each of the cars he was overtaking with all the confidence and daredevil tactics of a cocky teenager racing on a Nintendo game-consol.
"There it is!" The Master pointed out a black coach at the other end of road. It was pinned between two lanes as it as tried to move to the left. "That's who we are after." And as if to underline his point, he flattened the foot-pedal and the car accelerated with a predatory roar.
Wilf felt his heart beat in his throat. "There's traffic all around us. You can't drive through all those cars to get there, you maniac!"
The Master wasn't planning to. He spun around and swept the vehicle off the road and onto the sidewalk again. Fully ignoring Wilf's very vocal objections, he raced down the busy high street while hooting constantly to get these thick and stupid pedestrians out of his way.
"There's something strange going on." Henri reported to Antoine. He showed him the fast driving vehicle racing over the sidewalk behind them. It cut through the crowd like a scythe would cut through a field of wheat.
Anne stuck her head out of the window to look back. She wasn't too happy when she recognized the yellow racecar. "That's the horseless carriage that almost ran me over! It's following us!"
"Get off this road, now!" Antoine ordered.
"Oh my God!" Wilf shouted when they barely missed a young mother, who was just in time to push her baby-trolley out of way. "I'm really sorry mam!" Wilf shouted back through the open side-window, and was quite surprised when the young lady stuck up her middle finger at him. "Women these days." The Master grinned at the sight in his rearview mirror. "No sophistication or grace whatsoever. Makes you yearn for the good old days, when they still knew how to behave well to please a man, and generally knew when the heck to shut up."
"You're a real pig, you know that?" Wilf told him. He didn't care what he said to him anymore, even if he was a dangerous homicidal alien. If they were bound to die in some horrible car accident, he better get all this off his chest anyway.
The Master just laughed, his eyes wild with excitement. With one quick movement, he changed gears and spun the wheel, heading through the iron gates that welcomed visitors into the green tranquility of Regent Park.
"They're gaining on us! Speed up the horses!" Antoine barked. The driver cracked his whip on the backs of the four-span and the horses went from a firm gait into a full gallop, scaring recreational bikers and kids on roller-skates right off the road.
"Watch out for that ice-cream van!" Wilf shouted.
The Master flung the car aside just in time to evade a whole bunch of kiddies who were waiting in line to get their ice-cream fix.
"Watch out for that tree!" Wilf yelled, and the Master swung the wheel to the other side to get the car back on the road instead of ramming it into the trunk of a very sturdy and unforgiving looking oak.
"Watch out for that dog!" Wilf exclaimed, pointing at the trembling cotton ball on four legs standing in the middle of road and was now impossible for the car not to hit.
"Screw the dog." The Master muttered under his breath, and drove right over it.
"You bastard!" Wilf screamed in ears. "You killed the dog!"
"It was a bloody poodle!" The Master yelled back. "Technically speaking, that's not even a real dog, but more a genetic accident." He added vindictively, and stepped on the accelerator, making the yellow car disappear in a cloud of dust.
"God heavens! It's faster than the devil on wings!" Henri exclaimed, witnessing with great worry how the yellow monster continued to swallow the distance between them. "We can't outrun it!"
"Get off! Get off the road!" Antoine ordered. "Take a shortcut! Drive the horses over the lawn!" He checked his fobwatch. "Quickly, there's not much time left!"
"Watch out for tha-" Wilf started.
"Would you just shut the bloody hell up!" The Master screamed. "I swear, you're driving me absolutely INSANE!" He spun the wheel around, and the car whirled like mad merry-go-round from hell, causing Wilf to grab onto his seatbelt for dear life.
"What are you doing, you madman?" Wilf yelled, while all of the blood ran from his face down into his toes.
"If they're taking a shortcut-" The Master answered determinedly. "So are we!"
He drove the car up the lawn, tires screeching and belching up dirt and grass in its wake.
"Get out of the way!" The Master screamed, hooting the car-horn at those lazy humans, who were, until very recently, enjoying themselves by having their picnics and wasting their time with a game of football, but were now fleeing for their lives. "Get off this lawn! Get out of my bloody way!"
Black smoke started to rise up from the bonnet while the Master struggled to keep his control over the slippery underground. Even worse, he had to lower his speed at several occasions because those stupid humans just didn't seem to be capable to move away fast enough. It gave the horses an advantage.
"It's slowing down! Keep going over the grass!" Antoine told Henri. The carriage kept heading southwards till they reached a narrow lane that was lined by tall trees and hedges on both sides. Henri drew a sigh of relief and drove the horses down the long green tunnel without reducing speed. "How long do we have left?" Anne asked, glancing nervously out of the window while a wall of leaves rushed by.
"One minute and 33 seconds." Antoine answered. "We're almost there milady."
"Is that devil's chariot still following us?" Anne was just taking a glimpse when the shiny monster appeared at the beginning of the tunnel, its back slipping dangerously close to the side of the narrow road, before the Master managed to regain his control over the wheel.
"Keep heading to the portal Henri!" Antoine told the driver. Aware that they were now out of the public eye, he grabbed hold of his musket gun.
"That's a bit strange to go hide out here in this narrow tunnel when you're getting chased." Wilf muttered.
"Oh they're trapped all right." The Master remarked with a predatory grin. "Let's take a better look at our fugitives, shall we?" He speeded up the car till it came only inches away from the back of the black carriage. The driver glanced over his shoulder nervously, but kept driving the horses onwards. Irritated that they just wouldn't stop, the Master rammed his bumper into the back of the carriage, and it jolted forward violently, causing the horses to rear and whinny in fright. The Master was about to repeat this move again when a man with one scarred eye appeared at the cabin-window, pointed the barrel of a musket at him and fired a shot. On reflex, the Master swung the car to the side, and the round bullet that was little more than a badly shaped metal ball the size of a marble, propelled through the front-window and pierced a hole though the metal frame at the driver's side.
"Holy Jesus! They're shooting at us!" Wilf exclaimed.
"Really? Those evil bastards." The Master deadpanned, hardly interested to mock Wilf's keen observation any further. He was more worried about the fact that scar-face was already preparing for a second shot.
"Did you get him?" Anne asked worriedly.
"Almost." Antoine replied while he loaded his gun with fresh gunpowder. "Prepare yourself for the jump lady Anne." He lowered the barrel of his musket on the windowsill to improve his aim at the two figures behind the front window of the tagging car. "Let me take care of our unwanted guests." He mumbled.
"Oh no you don't!" The Doctor was still lying on his back on the floor of the cabin, but with one well-aimed swoop of his flexible leg he kicked the barrel from the wooden frame. Anne shrieked when the shot was fired in the air and the bullet punched a hole in the ceiling of the carriage.
"What's going on?" Wilf had clearly heard the sound of a gunshot. "Are we hit?"
Before the Master could answer him, two lights descended from the skies and swooped down over the black carriage. They started to spin in helical loops, weaving around the wooden structure till they swallowed it entirely in a cocoon of dazzling white light.
"Oh my God." Wilf muttered. "It's happening again."
It may have been a trick of the eye, but for a moment, the entire carriage seemed to turn white, including the galloping horses. A flash of crackling energy exploded in front of the horse-drawn vehicle. It rushed over the four-span and the carriage and jumped over on the yellow racecar. The Master's breath stalled when the current hit him, lashing from the steering wheel onto his arms, numbing his reflexes and freezing every cell inside his body until its very molecular core, before it left his body again, leaving only a nasty metal tang in his mouth.
"Master!" Wilf shouted. "Watch out!"
He immediately snapped out of his trance and stepped full on the brakes, but couldn't stop the car from slamming head on into the back of the carriage. The master had just enough time to cover his face when the wooden backside of the cabin crashed into the front window, fragmenting it into a huge blooming spider-web while large wooden splinters stabbed into the dashboard. He felt a hot slash over the back of his arm, and heard Wilf scream his lungs out. A violent thud followed before the vehicle jolted to a full stop.
"Oh my God." Wilf opened his eyes to the alarmingly sharp end of a wooden beam, sticking only inches away from his face. "Oh my God." He kept muttering, while he patted down his chest to check on any lethal punctures. He called himself very lucky when he couldn't find any.
"Oh my…you're…you're bleeding." Wilf noted, he stared white rimmed at the Master, who was a most horrid sight with his right sleeve soaked in blood. "You're bleeding quite a lot!"
But the Master hardly heard Wilf. His mind was too occupied by the very obvious that seemed to have completely eluded the gentle old man. Ignoring Wilf's concerned ramblings, he struggled out of the car.
The black carriage had come to a complete standstill.
There was no noise except for the quiet tapping of the cooling engine and the heavy breathing of the exhausted horses blowing bursts of hot air out of their nostrils. In the nearby woodlands, a hidden bird chirped happily in the afternoon sun.
Still transfixed, the Master gazed at the partially destroyed carriage with a look of incredulity on his face. He didn't even notice that he left a trail of blood on the woodland floor. "Why did we stop so suddenly?" He mumbled, and while Wilf slowly and carefully worked himself free from behind the ruined dashboard, he stumbled over to the black carriage to take a closer look.
"Hey! What are you doing? Get away from there!" Wilf whispered urgently, fearing that the wounded Timelord had lost his marbles because he was in shock. "They were shooting at us just a minute ago, remember?" But the Master waved his worries away. "The driver is gone, didn't you notice?" He shouted back, and forced open one of the cabin-doors. When he stuck his head inside, Wilf could hardly watch as he half-expected to hear a gunshot that would blow out the Master's brains in a spray of crimson, but instead of this morbid spectacle, the Master climbed on board unhindered.
The dark claustrophobic place was littered with weapons and clothes. Two handhold muskets were lying ready near the window, while a carton box with gunpowder and ammunition was shoved underneath the seats. He also found two strange-looking contraptions, copper belts with well-crafted medallions attached. The symbol etched into the façade was hauntingly familiar, showing alpha and omega, merged in a triangle. The very sight of it made the Master's stomach tighten. His instincts pulled him to the most worrisome sights in the cabin, the heaps of clothes that were tossed on the seats and floor. On the window-seat, he found a cloud of lace and white synthetic fabric. A woman's wedding dress. When he went through it, he recovered an earring, a silver necklace, and all the way down at the bottom of the heap, a pair of white slippers adorned with pink roses. No sign of the bride. No sign of anybody. It was as if they had all gone up in thin smoke, leaving only their possessions behind. His apprehension awakened, he tossed the woman's shoes back on the pile, and almost stumbled over the Doctor's trainers. When he crouched down and looked underneath the seats, he found his companion's striped brown trousers and suit, with the Doctor's underwear and white shirt still tangled up inside. The Master went through the pockets, and retrieved the Doctor's fobwatch, sonic screwdriver, and nerdy black-rimmed glasses, and carefully put them away, knowing how much his companion valued them. He also fished out the Tardis keys from the Doctor's coat. Before he headed out, he noticed the tiny particles that drifted inside the cabin and slowly covered the interior with a silver blanket of dust. Like the Doctor had done before, he ran his finger over the windowsill and dabbed it on the tip of his tongue, tasting it pensively.
Wilf was waiting for him when he headed back outside. "And?" The old man asked with a worried expression on his face.
The Master put the keys away. "They're gone." He said in a solemn voice.
"What? What do you mean?" Wilf peered inside the empty cabin. Although he was fully aware of what he saw, he couldn't believe his own eyes. "How can they be gone? All those people inside that carriage. That chap driving the horses and that scary bloke who shot at us. How can they all just vanish?"
"They went through a portal, some sort of rift in time. They took the blond. They also took the Doctor." The words had hardly passed the Master's lips or they were starting to weigh down heavily on him. They took the Doctor. He had lost him. He was all on his own. Panic stabbed his heart when that painful realization hit him. He had not been alone ever since the Doctor came to rescue him from their doomed home-planet. Sure, he had lost sight of his moronic time-traveling companion once in a while, but not like this. Nothing like this. He couldn't smell him. He couldn't even sense his presence anymore. The Doctor was, truly, gone.
"Oh please tell me you do have a plan." Wilf muttered, but any hope he had was quickly fading when he noticed the miserable look on the Master's face. "Oh no, what do we do now?" Wilf cried out in desperation. "And Donna? What about her? How are we ever going to get her back without the Doctor?"
"Well." The Master mumbled, forcing his brilliant mind to claw itself out of the deep dark abyss that was caused by the Doctor's absence. "The answer is quite simple, isn't it?"
Wilf gazed up at him, raising his eyebrows.
"We need to get back the Doctor first." The Master told him. Forcing himself to keep going on the pure stubbornness of this logic, he started to release one of the horses from his harness.
Wilf had never ridden a horse before, and judging by the way the Master handled the black steed, neither had the Timelord. They still managed to arrive back at the church in one piece, but Wilf was quite relieved to feel solid ground under his feet after he let himself drop off the back of the huge animal.
"Dad!" Sylvia came rushing over and immediately dragged him aside. "What have you've been doing, you look dreadful!"
"I feel dreadful." Grimaced Wilf as he tried to readjust his spine and twist the kinks out of his old bones. "Can't imagine those posh people doing this for fun."
"You rode a horse? And you didn't even use a saddle?" Sylvia continued. "Have you any idea how dangerous this is?"
"There wasn't any time to go look for one. It was either get on the horse with him." Wilf gestured at the Master with his thumb. "Or get arrested by the police."
"The police?" Sylvia repeated. She was truly appalled now. "Dad, what the heck have you been up to?"
"Oh don't look at me. It was his fault. He stole the bloody car and drove it to pieces."
"And what happened to him?" Sylvia stared at the Master's blood-stained clothes with horror. "Were you in some kind of accident?"
"Wouldn't worry about him too much." Wilf told Sylvia, aware of the Master's remarkable healing capacity. "Look, we don't have time." Wilf hurried back inside the church, following the Master who had already headed straight for the altar at the back.
"What is he doing here?" Sylvia asked, following her father like an anxious mother hen. "I thought he said he didn't need to be here anymore? I was actually quite relieved."
Wilf shrugged back at her. He genuinely didn't know what the Master was up to, but at least one of them seemed to have a plan. The Master squatted down at the exact spot where the rift that took Donna had appeared. He examined it and drew his finger over the tiled floor. The Master stuck his dust-covered fingertip in his mouth and sucked on it thoughtfully. "These particles taste exactly the same like the ones inside the cabin." He muttered, pulling a face when the bitter aftertaste hit him. "Meaning that they must have jumped back through a breach that opens up in the same timeframe." He stared back at Wilf with a glint shimmering in his eyes and a smile dawning on his lips.
"Um, Master, are you all right?" Wilf asked.
The Master jumped back up. "I am more than all right old man. I am a BLOODY genius!" He roared, tapping a finger on his forehead. "The Doctor didn't want me to go after the girl and look what happened to him, he got abducted by a bunch of third-rate time-meddlers. Forget about saving your precious Donna, the git can't even save himself. Oh but he is in luck though." He grinned.
"He is?" Wilf mumbled, fearing that the Master, without the Doctor by his side to keep him in check, might have completely lost his mind.
"He got me!" The Master revealed, grinning like a very scary version of a Sesame street muppet before he burst out in a laughter that sounded indeed far from sane.
"Dad." Sylvia said, eyeing worriedly at the ever more deranged-looking young man. "I forbid you to talk to him again. Even if he a friend of the Doctor." She suddenly felt the ice-cold hand of fear clutch around her heart. "Oh my God." She whispered, covering her mouth in shock. "It's you! I knew I've seen that face before! Last Christmas, when the sky was falling and everyone was acting all crazy, you were that man who showed up inside our heads!" Sylvia shrieked, backing away from her living nightmare till she bumped her backside against a table that served-up the catering. In her panic, she grabbed the first thing she could get hold of and pointed it in the Master's face to defend herself.
"Now Sylvia." Wilf tried, holding up his hands in an effort to calm her down. "Listen to me my dear. You're overreacting. You really don't need to be afraid of him."
The Timelord cocked his head. "Now what are you trying to do exactly?" He asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
"I am NOT afraid of you!" Sylvia shrieked, and waved the blunt tableware in front of him.
"So you're going to what, spoon me to death?" The Master chuckled.
"Stop laughing!" Sylvia responded, offended by his rudeness, but also truly wanting him to stop that demonic laughter. "I am NOT going to be ridiculed by some MONSTER!" she shouted, while she kept aiming the soupspoon at him.
That wiped the smile right off the Master's face. "What did you call me?" He hissed, leaning into her.
Wilf jumped between them in a rare fit of bravery. "Sylvia, please stop provoking him. He's like one of those nasty guarddogs who will go for your fingers when you keep dangling a hand in front of his nose." He turned to the Master. "And you, you said you had a plan to get the Doctor and Donna back. Now come on then. Tell me. What is it?"
The Master was pleasantly surprised to finally see a little bit of fire burning inside the old man. "Does that mean you're coming along with me then?" He asked with a grin of anticipation.
"Oh no! No dad! No! You're not going with him!" Sylvia objected fiercely.
"Suit yourself. Donna is your granddaughter after all." The Master lured. "Just don't expect me to help her first. My priority is to find the Doctor. If you are not even interested in finding her, why should I care?"
"Don't listen to him dad! He's dangerous! He won't help us to find Donna anyway. You shouldn't go with him!" Sylvia pressed on.
"I'm coming with you." Wilf agreed, without hesitation.
"Splendid." The Master replied with a triumphant smile.
"Dad! I said no!"
"He's right. Donna is my responsibility. I have to go." Wilf told her, and turned around to follow the Master.
"No! You can't just go! Dad, I forbid it!" Sylvia shouted after them, but she was too afraid of her Christmas boogeyman to go after him.
"Now." The Master told Wilf, rubbing in his hands as they marched out of the church in long hasty strides. "Let's get back to the Tardis and see if I can remove the biolock."
"Biolock? What bio-lock?" Wilf asked, hurrying after him while trying to ignore Sylvia who was once again stamping her feet on the carpet. "The Doctor locked the Tardis?"
"He said I couldn't be trusted with her." The Master scoffed. "Not after that little incidence on the red planet." As if he was ever going to sneak off and fly the Tardis around the seven suns of the Barillonia all on his own again. It was an impossible task, even if he had not been blind stinking drunk and depressed as a suicidal lemming. "However." He took his laserscrewdriver out and spun it in the air most confidently. "It shouldn't take me more than a minute to crack it. You know what they say about unlocking a lock. It's as easy as driving a car..."
The Tardis control room was a different territory now that the Doctor had vanished and the Master was left in charge. The core was no longer bathing in the familiar, peaceful green glow, but flickered a dangerous orange, while the console that circled around the heart of the Tardis flashed with numerous warning-lights.
"You're not breaking anything, are you?" Wilf asked, observing the Master's action with a growing sense of unease. The Timelord was tackling the biolock that the Doctor had installed as a safety measure to keep the Master from controlling the Tardis in a manner that Wilf wouldn't normally associate with the handling of sophisticated alien technology. At least, the use of a crowbar and what looked like a hospital defibrillator did not immediately spring into mind when Wilf first heard the Master say that he was going to recalibrate the algorithm in order to reset the isomorphic coding. Wilf watched worriedly how the Master yanked out what looked like a computer motherboard and completely flattened it by applying violent blows with his metal rod. "If the Doctor could see this mess." Wilf muttered, shaking his head. "No sir. He wouldn't like what you've done to his machine."
"It's not a machine." The Master replied, keeping himself busy with unplugging a bundle of confusing wires from the console. "This is a Tardis, a living, breathing entity, born out of the fabric of time itself. She is almost as old as your joke of a planet. Give her a little respect." He added with much sincerity, before he yanked out another handful of wires from the Tardis internal drive, and drove the rest of them back inside with the back of the rod. "Almost done." He said, grinning with anticipation, he tossed the crowbar over his shoulder and picked up the two paddles of the defibrillator, placing one on each side of the exposed telepathic circuits. "You better stand back." He told Wilf. "All clear!" He shouted and fired a massive bolt of energy into the system to which the Tardis reacted by sounding loud alarm. All over the dashboard, over-loaded equipment exploded, sending dangerous sparks in the air.
"Are you sure you know what you're going?" Wilf yelled above the racket.
"Of course I know what I am doing!" The Master poked the tip of his tongue out as he concentrated on his task. "I am complete in control. I just need to teach our girl to stop listening to the Doctor and start listening to me." He added before he administrated another nasty zap.
"Our girl?" Wilf muttered while furrowing his brows.
"The Doctor's precious frigid little princess." The Master grunted, staring straight at the glowing orange core. "Oh how she hates to be touched by another Timelord. And he's not easy in sharing her either. If you didn't know any better, you would think they have already taken their marriage vows."
The Tardis core went from orange to angry crimson and the alarms became almost deafening in response.
"Oh shut it!" The master yelled and fired another bolt of energy into the circuits.
Somehow in his chaotic ways, he must have hit the right wire, for the alarms died down and with a sulky stammer the engines retreated into a low hum.
"Oh yes! That's much better." The Master noted not without satisfaction. The lights in the control room turned back to a soft green, and the monitors on the dashboard switched on. He tried to feed in some new coordinates. "Finally! It works." He sighed. "Right! Let's get going then."
"Go where? Do you know where to find the Doctor and Donna?" Wilf asked.
"I told you, we've got what we need." The Master brought out the Timpwarp's cocoon and turned to the cyber-glass core of the Tardis. "Now let's see if the Doctor's most precious companion has indeed learned her lesson. Or perhaps she needs to be further motivated?" The Tardis replied by quickly raising a small translucent capsule out of the console. The Master's lips curled into a content smile, and he dropped the white sphere into the container. "Have a little taste." He told her. "Let me know where you think this comes from."
As soon as the Tardis had taken back the capsule, complex calculations appeared on the screens. Then, with a shake and a jolt, the noise of the engines swelled on till the familiar wheezing sound signified their imminent departure.
"Oh yes. Good girl!" The Master grinned. "She has successfully picked up the link! He quickly checked the string of coordinates that flew by on the monitors. "Hold on old man!" He yelled at Wilf, his voice barely rising above the noise. "It looks like this going to be a bit of a bumpy ride!"
Donna was having what she thought of as one of her reasonably bad days. She could have considered this as her worst possible day ever, if it wasn't for that she had regained all of her lost memories of traveling with the Doctor. Having once been the Doctor's companion, she could easily recall days that were far, far worse. Still, considering that only this morning, she was convinced that she was getting married to her love of her life, only to be sucked through a gap in time instead, and to end up in smelly historic France in front of a ragged-looking mob, this wasn't exactly her idea of how this day should have gone.
"What am I doing here?" She asked out-loud, and immediately pressed her hands on her mouth when she realized that she just said that in French. She couldn't speak French. Not properly. She only knew two French words, which included bonjour and au revoir, and even those she couldn't pronounce without insulting the locals. It must be the Timelord meta-crisis, she thought. Although she could not recall everything what the Doctor knew and what was once absorbed by her limited human brain cells, she did still feel a bit odd. She was slightly quicker with her wits and a little more extensive in her knowledge. Considering the circumstances, she might call herself lucky. "I shouldn't be here." She muttered, struggling for breath. At first she thought it was because of her nerves, but then she realized that she was no longer wearing her wedding gown. "I'm wearing a bleeding corset." She gasped, looking down with incredulity at the rest of her outfit that to her, looked much like a strange carnival custom. "What is this place?" She glanced around and noticed the blood on the platform, the basket filled with decapitated aristocrats and the threatening wooden structure of the guillotine towering behind her.
"Oh you got to be kidding me." She mumbled. Two soldiers came up to her and grabbed her under her arms.
"Witch!" Yelled a mean-looking old woman. "She transformed herself! Look at her hair. Look at that face! The use of dark magic has drained years out of her."
"Oi! There's nothing wrong with this face! And have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?" Donna said, as the soldiers pulled back. The crowd was going mad. People were jumping beneath the scaffold and were trying to climb onto the platform to get to her.
"Witch!" They kept shouting. "Kill that witch before she tries to escape again!"
"What do we do sir?" The soldier asked, holding on to a very confused and frightened Donna.
"Get her under the guillotine again." The commander ordered. "And fast before they ransack the equipment!"
"Wait! What are you doing?" Donna shouted as the soldiers followed his order and dragged her to the executioner. "This is a mistake! I am not supposed to be here! I can't die in 18th century France! I haven't even been born yet!"
"She's talking all strange." One of the soldiers doubted. "And she really doesn't look like the woman who were trying to execute before."
"That's because she is a witch!" His comrade argued. "Look, she's wearing the same dammed clothes. It must be her."
They handed her over to the hooded killer, who closed his fingers around Donna's throat and held on to her like he was holding a chicken by the neck. "This time you won't escape me, madame." He grunted, eying down at the discontent public. "Marcel the mass murderer has a reputation to keep." He nodded at her her, and went through her red locks with his dirty sausage fingers. To her horror, he pressed his nose on her neck to breath in the smell. "Red." He grinned sheepishly. "Pretty."
"Get on with it you buffoon!" The commander barked. "Hurry up before this crazy lot tears down the place."
"Yes sir." The executioner complied, and bound Donna's hands behind her back with a coarse rope before he led her to the guillotine. When he forced her head down and sandwiched it between the two wooden panels of this grisly murder machine, Donna couldn't help but the reconsider her situation here. She had it wrong all right. This was, without a doubt, going to be the worst day of her life.
The Tardis landed with an unusual high number of bumps and shakes, and rammed into a cart filled with onions before it came to a full stop. The Master rushed outside, followed by Wilf who stepped into the dark alleyway with buckling knees. Curious, the old man looked around. On both side of the narrow street were high, five-story buildings with large window, most of them closed with wooden shutters. Everywhere he looked, the blue, white and red vertical stripes of the tricolores were dangling between the lines of drying laundry, while the pikes of the small cast-iron balconies were adorned with ribbon rosettes in green.
"Where are we?" Wilf asked. "I mean what time?"
"Judging by the sight and smell of this place, somewhere in France, before it was fashionable to invest in something as redundant as soap and public hygiene." The Master complained, pinching his nose to shut out the stench of rotting onions and the piss-filled open sewer that ran by the side of the road.
"You can almost cut it with a knife. Let's get out of here."
They quickly walked out of the back-alley and followed the flow of people in the main-street to a large open space where a huge crowd had gathered around a raised wooden platform. Soldiers stood guard in their blue and white uniforms, and had trouble keeping the tumultuous public at bay, even with their bayonets aimed at them.
"This a public execution place." Wilf muttered. "Look at that thing, that's a real guillotine."
"Welcome to 18th century revolutionary France." The Master announced.
"Those poor people." Wilf gazed at the group of miserable prisoners that were kept inside a penned cart. "They're going to chop off their heads!"
"Yeah well, there's nothing we can do about it. Besides, who are we to judge the quirky habits of the locals. For as far as I understand it, this whole decapitating fat aristocrats business is as much part of their culture as their strange fondness for everything pungent."
"Oh God, I can't watch." Wilf muttered.
"Then don't." The Master said with very little sympathy. "Look, can you stop dwelling on this subject? We're here to find the Doctor, but I can't pick up his scent in this overwhelming smelly armpit of a crowd, let alone trace him. Let's get a move on. This whole bloody butcher's parade has nothing to do with us anyway." He was about to wade his way out of the sweaty mass of foul human bodies, when Wilf spotted the girl in the blue dress who was being dragged to the guillotine. Although they were standing quite far away at the back, Wilf's old eyes clearly recognized the flash of vibrant red in the woman's hair.
"Oh my God. That's Donna!" He shouted out, and started waving frantically. "She can't see me! Donna I'm here. What is she doing up there? Oh no." He pulled back the Master and pointed out the unlucky prisoner who was now being locked between the wooden panels of the deadly contraption by the executioner.
The Master observed the dire situation with slight disappointment. "We've found your granddaughter? You would think that the Tardis would set her priorities right and find the doctor first."
"They're gonna kill her! Do something!" Wilf told him.
"Tell me, are you also this demanding when you're with the Doctor?" The Master complained. "I've never realized that keeping a human pet could be such a handful. Explain me this. Go rescue me that. Honestly, this is tiring, where is the fun in it?"
"Please! If you don't stop them Donna's gonna die!" Wilf begged.
For a moment, it seemed as if the Master wasn't going to give in, but then he rolled his eyes and sighed deeply before he started moving towards the scaffolds. He was closely followed by a very anxious Wilf.
Meanwhile, Donna was getting more frightened by the minute. "You can't do this to me!" She rambled. "I am not even a noble woman. I am from bloody Chiswick!" Locked in her uncomfortable position, she gazed over the crowd helplessly, hoping to find that one familiar face of the Doctor. He should be here, she told herself. Otherwise, why did she regain her memory and did she end up in revolutionary France. All this wonky Timelords and time-travelling stuff had to have something to do with the Doctor, who should by the way, get his boney space alien ass here real quick now, or her head was going to end up in the basket.
"Any last words?" The commander dared to ask again.
"Yes, as a matter of fact." Donna took in a deep breath and started yelling her lungs out. "Doctor! Where the hell are you! DOCTOR!"
"Get on with it." The commander ordered, sticking his fingers in his ears to block out the woman's hysterical screams.
The executioner smiled creepily down at Donna. "Here, let me get these pretty red locks out of the way of your pretty little neck." He brushed her hair away and then started hoisting up the cut-throat blade.
Oh my God. Donna thought. I am really going to die. They are going to chop my head off in 18th century France on my own bloody wedding day. And I even didn't get to be married to Shaun first!
She shuddered when the back of the blade hit the wooden support beam at the very top. Somewhere behind her, a drum ruffled to mark the moment of her death. Donna closed her eyes, and with the very last breath in her lungs, she shouted out over the crowd. "DOCTOR!"
"Wait! Stop the execution immediately!"
Donna's eyes flew open, her heart filling with new hope. She had anticipated that the Doctor had finally come to her rescue, but instead, a man she didn't know had jumped on the platform and was now standing next to her facing the angry mob.
"Get off the bloody stage! Who the hell do you think you are!" The bloodthirsty audience yelled back at him like one united multi-headed beast. "We want to see that rich witch bleed! Get on with it!"
The commander stepped forward. "Who the hell are you?" He was already gesturing to his men to come and arrest the intruder, but even under these threatening circumstances, the Master remained completely calm.
"I am a citizen of the republic." He proclaimed in a loud voice, replying more to the crowd than he was answering to the commander. "Just like you." He spread his arms wide and made a theatrical bow as if to introduce himself.
"All right. Who let this village idiot on stage?" The officer barked at his men. "Drag him off now!"
The crowd started to hiss and jeer at him. "Get off! You're holding up the execution! Off with her head and with that of yours if you don't piss off! What are you doing up there anyway."
"I am here to humbly ask you, the good citizens of this great city, to let this woman go." The Master answered, his voice clear and unwavering.
"What?" Came the response from the below. "But she's a bloody witch!"
"Yeah. I saw her change from a blond into a redhead. We can't let her go!"
"Is that what we truly believe in? Witchcraft?" The Master scoffed, looking around at all those sheepishly looking faces, he actually didn't have a doubt in his mind that he was indeed talking to a bunch of superstitious morons, but that wasn't the point he was trying to make. "You monsieur." He singled out one of the more dense looking farmers. One who was about to pelt him with rotting onions. "How can you believe in such preposterous ideas as magical transformations and still wear the tricolor, the citizen's tricolor, with pride? Don't we all know that superstition is a fallacy imposed to us by the king and the king's men, to keep his bright and brave subjects in chains? Aren't witch-hunts and inquisitions things of the dark Middle Ages, when ignorance and gullibility reigned? Surely we're now beyond that?"
A silence fell over the crowd as most of them had trouble to process what was just said.
"You mean…I am stupid to believe that she's a witch?" The farmer replied, narrowing his eyes as his mind struggled to produce this one thought. Donna shot a worried look at the Master, as if to ask what the hell he was trying to do here, but the Timelord replied with a cocky little wink of his right eye.
"No, no monsieur. Of course not! And that's the whole point!" He stepped forward, his posture radiated full confidence and pure authority. "Don't you see that by condemning this poor soul, we are allowing us to be manipulated, once again, by the aristocracy and clergy? They want us to remain dumb, like a flock of sheep, being herded into whatever shape they desire. I tell you, we are not sheep!" He slammed his fist into her hand to accentuate this ridiculous point. "We are enlightened men and women, brothers and sisters of the revolution. We are children of the teachings of Rousseau and Voltaire, and we will no longer fall for the traps set out for us by religion and the crown's authority. We can think for ourselves. We can see for ourselves, and what we see here, bowed down before you and left at your mercy, is not a witch." He walked over to Donna and grabbed her by her hair to show the crowd her face.
"Look at her." He told them in a dramatic voice. "Stare into this woman's eyes. These are the eyes of a mother, a loving spouse, a kind and caring sister, an obedient daughter, but not a witch. There are no witches. Only fools believe in them, and we, brothers and sisters, are no longer fools."
Nobody in the crowd, not even the soldiers, dared to contradict him in fear to be made to look like an complete idiot in front of the others, but then one smart ass who didn't know when to shut up stepped forward. "But…" Reasoned a fishwife of woman in the front. "Even if she's not a witch, she's still one of those court parasites. I still say off with her head!"
"Yeah." Agreed another of her hagged sisters. "I hate these rich aristocratic dogs! Let them die!" She jeered.
"Are you joking with me?" The Master responded, bursting out in laughter. "These tragic figures?" He gestured at the miserable looking lot waiting on the cart. "These half-starved men and women with wigs and clothes half-eaten away by moths and lice, their minds dulled by years of imprisonment, why in the name of reason would you consider them to be worth your wrath? They're just minor nobles, one generation back and they're just like you and me. Just take this sad example of womanhood." Donna cried out when he lifted her head again. "She's more built to work in the fields and to give birth to half-a-dozen of your children than to strut daintily at court. Every one can see that she is just as common as muck."
"Well…" The fishwife hesitated. "She is a bit bulky for a corset-queen."
"She doesn't really look like a noble woman to me." Pondered the farmer. "Well she did chance and all, but then, he said that bit didn't really happen…" The rotting onion started to slip out of his hand as the confusion was slapping him silly.
"Maybe we did indeed make a mistake." Opted a gullible milkmaid. "She is one of us, only dressed a little fancier."
The doubtful murmurs were like music in the Master's ears. "Brothers and sisters of the revolution." He exclaimed as he continued to preach his gospel of doubt. "We have reached the phase in the revolution of our beloved country in which the real enemies of the people have already been disposed of and we're left with the sad residue, the marginally well-off. Do we really need to murder them as well? We speak of equality and fairness. We believe in these ideals with our heart and soul. So what is their crime? Step forward if anyone here truly knows what they are." He paused. No-one in the audience moved a muscle, although the French commander did try to make a hesitant move.
"And even if we decide that we want to kill them to satisfy our anger, what's next?" The Master continued, grinning as he knew that he was now in full control of the crowd and could make them act on his will. "What happens when we run out of these sheep-goats? Will we turn on our own? Those who have little money, but worked and saved hard to own it? The butchers, the fishmongers, and farmers, will they all be next? And what if we run out of them too, do we start murdering the innocent for speaking out for their discontent, the people who starve in the street and who the leaders of the revolution have abandoned? How long before this reign of justice turns into a reign of pure terror?"
"He's right." Gasped the milkmaid. "We must stop and think about our actions."
"Hey, I own a fish stall." The fishwife muttered, you could almost see the grew wheels spinning inside her head. "He's talking about what's going to happen to me!" She concluded.
"He's talking about us, you idiot! We are the people who are going to be next if we don't stop this madness." Someone more sensible said.
"We can't keep on murdering the prisoners. Not without a fair trial."
"They had a trial. We went there last Friday to spit on them, you remember?"
The Master smirked and relished in the chaos that he had caused. He always felt good when he could use his natural talent for manipulation, but this was on such a massive scale that it was ecstatic, and he almost wanted to shut his eyes and drink in this moment like a plant would bath in the sun.
"This crazy shenanigan has been going on far too long." The commander said, finally getting his act back together. "Remove him and place him under arrest!" He told his men.
The Master calmly turned around to face two French soldiers marching on to him with their bayonets aimed at his heart. "You are under arrest!" Proclaimed the most senior of the two, but the mob at their feet didn't quite agree with this.
"Let him go! He's done nothing wrong!" The milkmaid yelled, trying to pull the soldier down by his boots.
"Yeah. He only said the truth! Unlike you, you lying dogs!" Protested the farmers.
"Let him go! He's one of us!" They jeered, and started pelting the troops with onions. "He's the voice of the people! Listen to him you bloody bastards! Show some respect for the true spirit of the republic!"
"Get rid of him now!" The commander barked.
The soldiers ran up to the Master and were about to jab him in his stomach when they were stopped by a hostile line of pitchforks pointing up from the angry crowd below.
"You touch him and I am going to stick this in your fat neck!" Yelled a fishmonger.
"We don't want this bloodshed anymore!" Exclaimed the fishwife. "I'm sick of watching people dying. This isn't the utopia that was promised to us."
"The government lied to us!" Concluded someone in the crowd, and this stirred up such aggression that the soldiers could no longer hold down the mob. People started to attack the wooden structure with whatever they could get their hands on, while others climbed on the platform and tried to topple over the guillotine.
"You know." The Master told the commander while he watched him worry about the desperate situation. "If you just let the redhead go, I promise I'll go away and stop talking to them." And he showed the officer one of his politest smiles.
The French officer had to swallow hard before he could finally give out the order. "Release the woman."
The executioner and the troops gazed doubtfully at their superior.
"Quickly. Before this escalates!" The commander barked, nervously keeping an eye on the raised pitchforks.
Donna gasped when they finally lifted the wooden block from her neck. Shaking, she moved away from the deathtrap. Her eyes went over the chaotic scene below and to her astonishment, she recognized one very familiar face.
"Granddad!" She yelled. "Is that really you?"
"Donna!" Wilf waved, he felt so relieved that she was finally safe. Donna rushed down the steps and ran to her grandfather.
"Thank you good sir." The Master told the commander. "Now if you could excuse me. I have more pressing business to attend elsewhere."
"What? Is this all?" The commander asked. "What about the other prisoners?"
"By all means, do with them what you like, why would I care?" The Master replied laughingly, a little puzzled by the question. "Keep up the good work though." He added with a wide grin and giving him a thumbs-up before he went down the steps, leaving him and his men to deal with the angry mob.
"Donna!" Wilf cried out and hugged her tightly.
"Gramps! Oh I am so glad to see you here! No wait, I don't mean here. Here is really bad. What are you doing here?" She asked, getting worried again. "Did the Doctor take you? Where is he anyway? I thought he would show up since I was in mortal danger, but in the end I had to be rescued by someone else. Someone I didn't even know. A not-the-Doctor. How is that for a loyal mate? Pretty lousy I would say."
"Donna…You're not hurt are you?" Wilf muttered, noticing the weird psychobabble. "Let me look at you."
"I am not ill gramps. I am just…actually I am quite angry that the Doctor didn't show up. What am I? A disposable friend? Last season's companion? He didn't even come to my wedding."
"Well, we didn't really tell him…" Wilf tried, just when the Master showed up with a huge content grin on his face.
"Ah…the human soul." He mused. "It's such a delightful instrument to play."
"You!" Donna told him, suddenly distracted from her Doctor-obsessed ramblings by his very presence. "What you just said was plain evil!"
"What? What did you tell them?" Wilf asked, for some reason, which might had something to do with the way the Master had mistreated the Tardis, foreign languages were no longer automatically translated inside to the human companion. Wilf's French was pretty rubbish, and he had hardly understood a word of what the Master had said to the locals.
"He's going to let the rest of the prisoners die." Donna told Wilf. "While actually he could have saved them. He just didn't care."
The Master crossed his arms and studied her. "Do you speak French?" He asked pensively.
"Yes. Yes Frederick, or who-ever you are." Replied Donna.
"You couldn't have heard me." The Master noted. "You were already halfway down the stairs when I talked to the officer." The Master mumbled. "Hang on." He pulled a face of true disgust. "Frederick?" He looked angrily at Wilf for an explanation.
"How come you can understand what he's been saying?" Wilf asked. "Donna, you never took any French language lesions before."
"I…I dunno." Donna stuttered, clutching her head, for she suddenly felt very dizzy. "It all kinda translates inside my head." She gazed up at the Master accusingly. "Why didn't you save the others like you have saved me?"
"Because…I am a evil bastard, apparently. The name is not Frederick by the way." He added sourly. If this was all the gratitude he was going to get for his troubles, he really didn't understand why he would bother to bring these humans home. Surely they never were this ungrateful to the Doctor. But he had little time to wind himself up about it, for over the heads of the restless mob, he saw the commander gesturing at him as he spoke to his senior officer, who turned and marched with a small troop of soldiers in their direction.
"Maybe we should be moving along before we all end up at the butchers." The Master commented. He pushed Wilf and Donna through the crowd towards the edge of the plaza, where they then fled into the extended maze of the backstreet alleys.
PLease comment and review if this story pleases you, it keeps me motivated to go on.