Donna and Rob were in a cab on their way to the hospital. Just when the driver spun the car around the corner and they arrived at the main-entrance, Donna's phone rang.
"Donna!" The Doctor shouted through the speaker while he kept one finger in the other ear. "Thank Gallifrey, I thought it was blocked!"
"Doctor, I've found him! I've found the Master." Donna answered excitedly. "At least I think it's him. He's renting a flat in the city under that bogus name Oakdown that he likes so much."
"That's not a fake name Donna. That's actually his real name."
"His name is Master Oakdown? Get out of here! Seriously?" Donna concluded, finding it a bit pompous and therefore very much like him. "Anyway. I went to his apartment, and found all this laboratory stuff just sitting there on the kitchentable. There were piles of notebooks filled with weird Timelord scribbles, oh and we found a cat that was turned into a dog or something. Also, he's living with this girl who's got a sister named Anne. Now is that a strange coincidence or what?!" She cheered proudly. "Who would have thought hey, Donna Noble, first class detective! I felt like Dana Scully from the X-files! She's ginger too you know."
"Donna, focus please! Where are you now?"
"I am at that hospital where that girl's sister supposedly is, and I am about to go inside. Can you read my coordinates off my cellphone?" She asked while she handed over a tenner to the driver. "I can also give you the address, hang on a minute."
"No. No listen, I am not coming."
"What? What do you mean, not coming?" She stopped while Robert kept walking to the revolving door. "Oh that's typical!" She replied, getting miffed. "It wasn't easy you know! It's not everyday that things go that smoothly for me!"
"And I appreciate the effort, I really I do, but I can't come. Not right now." He paused. There was no easy way of saying this. "I am locked up. I am in prison."
"What? Why would they…Did they finally take you in for not paying all those parking-tickets you keep stuffing in the back drawer of the kitchen counter?"
"It's River Song, she found me, and arrested me. Locked me up in a stormcage on board of a Judoon spaceship. That woman! Oh that woman is really something special!" He ranted with an annoyed grin. "You know that she took my sonic screwdriver, but then forgot to take away my cellphone? How's that for logic?"
"Hang on, I am not getting half of this. Professor Song from the library? I thought she was dead. You saved whatever was left of her inside that library computer."
"Yes but she could time-travel remember? This is a younger version of her, which reminds me, if you happen to bump into River Song, not a word about what's going to happen to her in the library."
"Okay." Donna said, remembering how the poor woman came to her end. "Spoilers right? But why did she lock you up?"
"She doesn't want me to go find the Master. She believes that I am in mortal danger. Donna listen, I can't get out. I tried to convert my mobile into a digital key but I just burnt my fingers on the blimey forcefields. There is no other way…" He paused before he pushed the bad news out in one breath. "You'll have to bring the Tardis to me."
"Wait a minute…You want me to fly the Tardis? The great blue box with all the weird handles and buttons and dials, and not one steering wheel in sight because you thought the dashboard looked so much cooler without one…You want me to fly that thing, to you?"
"Really…It's not that difficult as it sounds." The Doctor replied, scratching the back of his head.
"Do you know what's going to happen? Seriously. I am going to crash and die. I am going to blow myself up after flying into some gigantic star, and you are going to spend the rest of your life locked up in that weather-cage."
""It's a stormcage actually. Thank River Song for that, I really didn't fancy getting frostbites this time." The Doctor rambled on. "It will be fine, promised!" He continued lightheartedly. "Just keep me on line, and I will guide you through this."
Needless to say, Donna was not really convinced. "What about the Master?"
"We will get to him as soon as you break me out, but for now, leave him alone! Do you remember where we parked?"
"Of course I do. On the parking lot, next to a red car with fuzzy dice behind the front window."
"Splendid…That was three days ago. Can't expect the car to be there anymore of course. Shopping area. Busy parking lot…" The Doctor mumbled. It's a good thing that the chameleon circuits were still bust. Otherwise he might have had the bonkers idea to hide the Tardis from the Master by masquerading it as another car. Donna would certainly have never found it again.
"Well I can't miss a big blue police box, now can I?" She told him, getting irritated. "I am actually not that far away." She replied after she checked the coordinates on Google maps. "I think I can get there in less than 10 minutes." She started to walk.
"Hey! Where are you going agent Noble?" Robert asked, noticing that she wasn't following.
"I've been called away for other duties." Donna lied, facing Rob as she walked backwards. She shrugged her shoulders apolitically. "Sorry but I have to go."
"What about Cathy? You said she was in danger!"
"And she is! Look I'll come back with re-enforcement. I promise."
"But…what am I suppose to do? Should I check on her?"
"No! Whatever you do, don't go in there and try to find her on your own!" She told him, remembering the Doctor's urgent warnings about the Master. "Just wait for me here. I'll be right back." She added, hoping that they could indeed return to this point in time with the Tardis after she had successfully busted the Doctor out.
Rob watched Donna hurry away. He hesitated, getting more and more frustrated and worried about Cathy. "Sod this." He muttered, he went inside.
"Here. Secure this on her head." The Master ordered Cathy as he handed her some sort of exotic looking helmet. "Fasten the straps tightly. This connection is absolutely vital till her mind is digitally stabilized. It must be kept on at all times during the transfer, or else all would have been for nothing."
They had transported everything that they needed from their flat to Anne's room in the hospital. The supercomputer that the Master had created was standing ready, connected with long wires to the electrodes that were imbedded into the helmet. When he switched on the machine and checked on Anne, he briefly touched her hand. The contact immediately stirred up memories, and he recalled the way she had looked at him that very last time he had called her his wife. Unwanted emotions surfaced, and he quickly let go.
Outside Anne's room, Robert had just stepped out of the elevator of the 11th floor in search of Cathy, only to find the entire intensive care unit to be frozen in time. He bumped into two statue-like nurses who had stopped while they were wheeling a laid up patient down the corridor, and hit his elbow on a rock-hard tray with medical tools that a surgeon's assistant was carrying on his way to the operation room. "I am sorry." He squeaked, absolutely freaked out by the strangeness of it all. No-one reacted. The people around him were standing perfectly still like they were just cold inanimate objects. Even the air seemed to be stagnant and dead, with no trace of the typical hospital antiseptic smells that Rob dreaded so much.
"Hello?" He asked, realizing that his voice carried an eerie echo in here. The sound was not only bouncing off the walls, but off the stationary people too. "Hello?! Is there someone who can hear me? Cathy! Cathy are you here?"
Cathy looked up and turned her head to the door. "Did you hear that?"
The Master didn't reply. He was too busy feeding in the required codes to start up the program. With nimble fingers he typed in the sequence and summoned two windows on the screen placingthem side by side. Each one of them showed a map of a brain. One of a human, and the other one of a Timelord. He was going to separate Rassilon's mind from that of Anne, extracting it from the dormant queen and storing it inside the machine. White dots that constitute the map started to appear as the transfer successfully was initiated.
"Did you hear me? There is someone outside." Cathy repeated more urgently.
The Master just turned to face the door when Robert stumbled in. "Cathy!" Overwhelmed by relief, he rushed over to his friend and hugged her tightly. "Thank God I found you! I thought you've turned to stone like that lot outside! What the bloody hell is happening here?"
"Rob! Why are you here? You really shouldn't be here!" Cathy answered, horrified.
"I came to get you out. There was this police woman, she came to work to investigate the murder of professor Duinkerk. We went to your flat and we found all this weird stuff in your kitchen, and did you know you had a barking cat in the apartment?!" Her friend rambled.
"Yes Rob, I know." Cathy glanced over at the Master, trying to read his reaction to Rob's uninvited presence.
"And then she warned me that you were in danger. She told me your new flatmate was a freaking psychopath. Is that true? Were you with him? Did he hurt you?"
"What? No, he didn't." Cathy replied, getting confused. "Rob, please calm down first. What woman, who told you that?"
"A police woman. Flaming red hair, a lot of attitude…what's her name…Dana, Dena…"
They both turned and looked at the Master.
"Her name is Donna Noble. The Doctor's metacrisis freak, and possibly the most irritating and obnoxious woman in the entire universe." He walked up to Rob, eyes blazing. "You've led her here, didn't you?" He hissed accusingly.
"Is this him?" Rob asked Cathy. Then he finally noticed the strange contraption on Anne's head and the weird devices that were placed around her bed. "Get behind me Cathy." He urged her, pushing her back and shielding her off. "Oakdown is it? That police woman was right. You are dangerous! What the bloody hell are you doing to her sister?"
"I am trying to save her." The Master stated coldly. "And you've led the one man who can stop me straight here, you IDIOT!" He screamed, going from calm to mad rage within a blink of an eye.
"Please don't!" Cathy begged, placing herself between the two men. "Robert, listen to me. I know how this looks, but he's really trying to help me. Just…don't provoke him!"
"Cate, this is crazy." Rob grabbed her firmly and pulled her aside, hoping to bring her back to her senses. "That bloke has Anne hooked up to some-sort of weird Frankenstein machine. Any sane person who takes one look at this knows that this will never work! You can get her killed!"
"Enough!" The Master raised his hand and a blast hit the young man full in the chest and smashed him with his back against the opposite wall. Silenced and restrained, but not time-frozen, Robert screamed in agony as the Master forced his legs and arms to spread apart while he pulled on every limb in a different direction.
"No! NO!" Cathy shouted, horrified. "No don't do this! Let him go!"
"Shut up." The Master spat vindictively. He had read Robert's mind and knew that Donna went back to get the Doctor. Spiteful that this bumbling idiot had spoiled his plans, he was absolutely determined that he should suffer and turned his hand slowly to force the bowels inside Robert's belly to twist and twist and twist…
"Stop it! You're killing him! Stop it!" Desperate to put an end to this, she ran over and slapped the Master hard in the face. "Stop it now!" Cathy yelled…and then froze with her hand still half in the air, terrified of his wrath.
Slowly Master spun around, leaving poor Robert to suffer in silence as he turned his deadly attention on Cathy.
"How dare you to raise your hand at me."
"I…I…I didn't." Cathy stumbled, backing away from him, and seeing perhaps for the very first time, how truly frightening he was. Gone was the eccentric and annoying man she had been living with for the last few days, and out came the monster.
The Master grabbed her wrist painfully. "You wretched little creature!" He spat, and slapped her so hard that she spun around and crashed into a screen.
"Your life has no other purpose, but to serve me!" He pointed out.
"What?" She muttered as she scrambled away, completely terrified by his mad outburst of rage."What do you mean?"
A spiteful grin dawned on his face. "Cathy Summerfield, the girl who had lost everyone except for her little sister. Who would do everything to bring her back just to silence her guilt. The girl, who drew the shortest straw, because she cared." He crouched down beside her, and whispered into her ear while the machine continued to run tirelessly to separate Rassilon's consciousness from that of Anne. "Do you even remember when Anne was born? Do you actually have any recollection of her from before the accident?"
Flashbacks of her childhood came to her. Happy moments from when her parents were still alive, birthdays, Christmas days in the snow, picnics in the park, summer holidays at the seaside. In all, she could remember them. Her mother, her father...their love and devotion to her…but Anne did not exist in that blissful past.
Anne was never born.
"I placed her in your life. I took your parents from you, so you would feel responsible for what happened, and be motivated to take care of Anne. You grew up with a desire to save your sister, a desire that I have implanted in your heart by manipulating your guilt and sense of loneliness. Your drive to excel in science, your whole academic career, your entire life was planned by me, because I needed you to hide her. To keep her safe."
Cathy gazed back at him, her expression numb. "Anne is not my sister."
"No. She is not." The Master gazed longingly at Anne who had started to stir. Her lips parted, taking in short gasps of breath.
"Who is she?"
"She is Anne Boleyn, the Tudor queen, and my beloved wife. Rassilon stole her from me. I searched everywhere, and I did anything in my capacity, even move time and space itself to get her back. You see…he cursed her. She can't wake otherwise her mind will burn…but now, with your help, I can bring her back." He turned to Cathy, eyes filled with determination. "Once the extraction is complete the meta-crisis shall be undone, and she will be able to wake up and remember me."
"You…you used me." Cathy whispered. A tear spilled down the corner of her eye.
"I needed you. I needed you to help Anne." He told her in a matter of fact voice.
"Why me?" She cried.
"My dear child. It could only be you. Always." The Master whispered. He did not want to be aware of it, but a knife turned in his hearts when he saw her tears. He suddenly understood far too well how she had suffered. What he had actually put her through.
"You've ruined me." Cathy said softly. "You've destroyed my life, took away everyone I have ever loved. Only to satisfy your own selfish goals!"
"You have all the right to hate, but don't put the blame on me Cathy Summerfield." He responded, angry with himself for letting his guilt take control over his emotions. "It's the fine workings of time that has locked us both in this most unfortunate bargain and has sealed it in the time-stream of reality. Fate and the devil has choosing you, not me."
The Master stood up and walked over to the supercomputer. On screen, a red pop-up window alerted him that the transfer was for more than 98% complete. He almost had Rassilon's complete mind trapped inside the data-sequence like a ghost inside the machine, but that wasn't all what the Master desired. He needed him alive. "No!" Cathy muttered when a second helmet was in plugged in. She remembered what had happened to the dog and the cat and feared for her friend's life. "No please don't!"
The Master ignored her pleas and fastened the helmet on Rob's head and switched it on. A violent current passed through the connecting wires and Robert convulsed when the mind of a Timelord was forced into the mind of a ordinary man, flooding it like a ferocious swarm of parasites that completely destroyed his own sense of self. His fears, his joys, his kindness, and his love for Cathy, which he had kept hidden this time, were all erased in a matter of seconds. Cathy screamed as she watched him being engulfed by the aggressive golden light. "Stop it you monster! Haven't you done enough to him?!" She sobbed in helpless rage. "Stop it! Stop it!"
But Master only had one goal in mind; to restore Rassilon back into a body made of flesh, which he maim and torture, and blood that he could spill.
And here you are my vainglorious master. He who has deformed my life and warped my soul. He who thought I was unworthy to be a Timelord, and has brought me so much misfortunes and grief. Open your eyes and see me. Open your eyes, for I am the divine instrument of your destruction!
Robert's eyes snapped open and stared at him. His pupils were alight with an intense red glow. He opened his mouth and a beam of hellish heat shot out. His features contorted, flashing back and forth from the hated face of that of Rassilon's last incarnation, screaming in anger and agony, and that of the dying human.
The Master watched this horrific transformation with a deranged type of joy, and laughed as he witness how Rassilon fought ferociously, unable to escape the iron grip of the other Timelord.
"Master!" Rassilon sneered, enraged by the humiliation. This was followed by a scream of pure agony as the bones inside the human's skull began to crack under the immense pressure.
The Master shut his eyes and leaned back ecstatically, drinking greedily from each second of this most precious act of vengeance. "Oh yes... That is indeed my name." He whispered with a smile made stone. "And hearing you say it like this sounds like the most gracious heavenly music to my ears."
"How dare you!" Rassilon hissed as he read into the Master's mind and understood what he wanted. "You're but a diseased, miserable little WORM! You are not worthy of my GLORY!"
"My lord president." The Master replied. "I've been waiting for a very long time just to show you exactly how unworthy I can be."
He pulled him up, and immediately the room exploded in a blaze of gold that swallowed up the two Timelords in a violent storm of plasma light. With his hand on Rassilon's throat, the Master lifted the tyrant from the ground while his fingers narrowed around his windpipe. His victim screamed as the weak human shell combusted by the violent contact between the two Timelords. The white glow that came pouring out of Rassilon' s mouth swirled and slithered into the master's eyes. His hand began to shake when the internal fire that ravaged Rassilon flowed into him, but he forced himself to hold on, absorbing the savage waves of energy into his own body.
"How does it feel to die, Rassilon?" The Master hissed. The heat of a million stars burnt under his skin. He stared at his nemesis, saw what he recognized as fear lurking inside those ancient soulless eyes, and laughed madly. "If it was up to me, you would die, and die, and die again!"
The machine behind him sounded alarm. On screen, the maps of the two minds were still displayed, each with its own unique neuron-firing pattern. The extraction was nearing its completion.
It was at that exact moment that Anne's eyes suddenly flew open. Cathy witnessed her awakening and was startled by her appearance. The Tudor queen looked soulless, tortured by her horrible experiences as the cursed bride. It was as if her ruthless lord and master had extorted all that once was good in her and had replaced it with darkness.
The woman who Cathy had once thought of as her beloved sister sat upright in bed and turned her eyes on the two Timelords, still locked in their deadly embrace. "Oh Yes, Yes." Anne breathed. Her voice was devoid of emotions except for a deep rooted hatred. "Kill him my love. Kill him for me."
The Master felt his hearts fill with pure joy when he finally heard her voice, and encouraged by Anne's words he tightened his grip on Rassilon. Soon my love. Soon you shall be free from this devil's hold, and we will be together again. You shall rule by my side and we shall be glorious!
You've ruined me. The Master told Rassilon, overflowing with hatred and self-loathing. Because of you my whole life was empty…meaningless. All that I have done…All those who I have lost…and loved. All because of your cowardice and selfishness!
Rassilon's eyes bulged out and stared back at him accusingly, two steel-grey bullets digging into his soul.
Memories flashed in front of his mind's eye, but they were not his own. The Master saw Cathy, sitting in the backseat of her father's car, playing with her favorite toy bunny. A grain lorry thundered from out of nowhere onto the one-lane road, but her dad managed to hit the brakes in time, and the deadly accident was avoided. Images of Cathy growing up, turning from a bright young child into beautiful young woman who was loved and cherished by her parents. She went to college, then university to follow her dreams to study arts. She met her first boy friend when she was 16, and had her first kiss at 17th birthday. Then she met Robert Finkel, a bumbling young scientist with great potential and a kind and caring soul, and she fell deeply in love in him. There was no doubt that Cathy Summerfield would have found true happiness and her life's dreams would all have been fulfilled, if it wasn't for his cruel interference. He had taken a innocent child from her time-stream and he had ruined her, just like Rassilon had destroyed his childhood.
Who's the monster now, lord Master? For when I look into your eyes, I can only see the reflection of myself. The teacher and his reluctant pupil. The creation resembling the creator.
"No." The Master muttered, shaking the visions that Rassilon's had forced on him out of his head. "You are wrong! I am not you!" From the periphery of his vision, he saw Cathy standing next to Anne. Alarmed, he swirled around and saw her madly pulling out the electrodes out of Anne's transfer helmet while the machine was still running. His wife clutched her head and cried out a beastly scream.
"No! The Master shouted at her. "Her mind is not yet stabilized! If you stop the process now it will kill her! You will kill your own sister!"
"I have no sister!" Cathy replied bravely, and removed another handful of connections, making Anne fall back into bed, squirming of agony. "I have no one. Except for him." Cathy muttered softly, finally realizing now what Robert had meant to her.
"Cathy Summerfield, I order you to stop!" He barked.
The screen of the supercomputer flashed red with warning lights. It immediately activated the emergency program and started to extract Anne's mind to the hard drive to preserve it in digital form.
"Let him go or I will destroy her."
"You stupid cow! Robert is dead. You can't save him! If I let go you're only sparing Rassilon's life!"
"I don't care!" She cried out, heartbroken and confused. "You have lied to me before…Now let him go!" Her fingers tightened around the last connection wire. "You know I mean this."
The Master had to choose. It was either Rassilon or Anne. Slowly he let go of his arch nemesis and Rob's tormented body dropped to the floor.
Cathy wanted to run to him, but Anne clung to her arm, digging her nails so deep in her skin that she drew blood.
"What have you done to me!?" She shrieked, tossing her head manically. "My head, my head is burning! It's burning!" Cathy watched in wide-eyed horror as Anne's flesh started to melt like a wax candle in the flames, turning her beautiful features into a grotesque mask of peeling skin. Frightened to death, Cathy pulled away from her, taking out the remaining electrode, and the dying Tudor queen burst into hellish flames.
"Anne!" The Master rushed over to her, but came too late. Anne's hospital bed was set ablaze, and she was trapped inside an inferno, screaming in torment as the fire consumed her. Desperate, he ran back to the computer trying to salvage what ever was left of her mind, only to find a message on the screen stating that the transfer was incomplete and Anne's file was damaged beyond repair. Realizing now that all was lost, his brilliant mind collapsed, abandoning all rationality to give in to rage and insanity.
"You did this." He hissed, turning to Cathy. "You took her from me!"
He grabbed her by her throat. A severed cable sparking with violent energy flew in his other hand.
"Go on then…What are you waiting for?" She said, trying to be brave. "Do it. Kill me, just like you killed my parents."
The warning lights on the screen continued to flash violently. There was still a small chance. He might still able to transfer Anne's damaged mind into Cathy, but he would have to sacrifice the girl in exchange for preserving his wife's life.
Cathy spat in his face. "You're a monster." Speaking out each syllable with bile burning in her throat. "You've already taken everything from me that I love, why not take my life as well."
He tried to bring the deadly cable down on her, but his resolve crumbled when he looked into those tear-welled eyes that were so full of hatred and self-loathing.
For when I look into your eyes, I can only see the reflection of myself.
The last lights on the screen vanished. The short window of opportunity had passed. Anne was gone.
Cathy couldn't believe that she was still alive. "Why?" She sobbed almost resentfully. "Why did you let me live?"
"So you might take you revenge, one day." He muttered. Mad with grief, and trapped inside this insane reasoning, he let her go.
JUSTICE, lord Master. He heard Rassilon's voice whisper to him behind the blackened bars of his burning prison. JUSTICE.
The Master wheeled around only to discover that Rassilon was gone. His mind unraveling and plunging deeper into a downward spiral, he let out a savage cry of rage and pushed Cathy out of his way to start pursuit.
"That was about time." Doctor muttered as the Tardis doors opened inside his cell and Donna came stumbling out. "What took you so long?"
"I got lost. Took the wrong turn around that funny solar system with the twin suns."
"You were – There is satnav onboard for crying out loud, how did you manage to still get lost?"
"Oy." She warned. "I nearly crashed into a black hole trying to fly that thing. A bit more gratitude, spaceman!"
"Come on then, lets get out of here." The Doctor rushed inside the Tardis and immediate started to prepare her for departure, stepping around the console, flipping switches and spinning dials. When the Tardis was ready, he pushed the final button to fire her up…and then the engines died.
"Oh no! No no no no, not now!" The Doctor shouted in frustration, running around to check her vitals. They all looked normal. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
He tried again, but now the engines simply refused to start.
"What's going on?" Donna asked, getting worried. "I didn't wreck her, did I?"
"Oh no." Doctor sighed when the penny finally dropped. "River! River River River!" He lamented. "Sometimes I just wished you weren't so blood clever!"
"What is wrong?"
"She left open the reception but blocked the transmission wavelength of the Tardis." The Doctor explained, annoyed as hell. "Which means that the Tardis can get in, but cannot get out." He added and slammed his hands on the console.
So we're stuck. We're both stuck." Donna muttered. A static noise came from a half-hidden speaker in the corner of their cell, followed by the voice of River Song.
"Thank you Donna Noble. You're the Doctor's companion, aren't you? I am so very pleased to finally meet you, especially when you bring me such pretty gifts. And sweetie, I did not forget to take away your cellphone. Of course not. Not really."
"Oh stupid stupid me!" The Doctor responded, and slapped his forehead.
"What does she mean?" Donna asked, still puzzled.
"River tracked down your coordinates from where you've set off." The Doctor replied, kicking himself. "And let me guess, you have eavesdropped on our conversation as well?!"
"Oh sweetie, you know me so well!" She purred through the speakers. "Thanks to Donna, we now know where to find the Master. Oh and that alarm you heard before was from our undercover agent inside the Infinity cult. He was trying to contact us to lead us to Felix Grant. So you see my love, everything is going to turn out just fine. Let me take care of everything. You just make sure that you stay alive."
"River! I am begging you, don't go after the Master!"
"This is River Song, over and out." She said with a little smile, and ended the transmission, just when a UNIT soldier came to report to her in the central control room.
"What is it?" River asked, keeping a keen eye on the monitors. One of them showed the Doctor inside the stormcage, hitting his head against the bars in frustration.
"It's mocking bird again mam. This time we have successfully homed in on his signal. We now have the exact coordinates of Grant's spaceship."
"So what are you waiting for? Send out the units. We are going to take him in."
"What about the Master?"
"Oh, to deal with him, I will need something special." River replied with confidence. She hoisted herself inside a black shiny suit, made of an impenetrable type of synthetic fabric. "I want a groundtroop of 500 of your best warriors to back me up. This time, don't go stingy on the Judoons. The more savage the better. As for weapons."
With her hand resting on her hip she punched in a button and the wall opposite to her slid open to reveal a hidden room filled to up the ceiling with guns. Strolling inside, she inspected the impressive the arsenal.
"I am spoiled for choice." She commented and picked out two large plasma guns to hold them side by side. "The perfect accessories for a girl on a date with the devil himself." She added with a thin smile curling her lips.
Rassilon fled out of the hospital. His human vessel was disintegrating rapidly. His legs were growing weak, bone grinding painfully against bone, causing him to stumble forward like an old man. Aware that the Master was close on his heels, he hurriedly crossed a road with heavy traffic. Staggering between the honking cars, he just avoided to be hit by an oncoming bus.
The Master followed him. His stride was determined and his posture was deceptively calm, but inside he was blinded by savage, murderous rage. Like a bloodhound that was only fixated on finding a wounded deer, his senses were completely oblivious to his surroundings, and he crossed the same road without the least of effort to avoid the deadly traffic. A truck that approached him head-on blinded him temporary and he squinted his eyes against the harsh lights. Aware that he could no longer evade the jaywalking lunatic, the alarmed driver hit the brakes hard, but the Master just raised his hand and the air around him solidified, creating an impenetrable force field. The truck rammed into it and the Master kept walking, unharmed.
Why are you still running Rassilon? The Master whispered, sending out a telepathic message to his wounded enemy. You know you can't hide, and you can't survive for long in that human wreck. A merciless grin appeared on the Master's lips. Give up my vainglorious lordship. This cat and mouse game is such a waste of time. Just let me catch you and I promise I won't do anything to you that wasn't done to me.
Rassilon fled onto a busy building site where three enormous hoisting cranes were positioned surrounding a square pit. Above the pit, builders were busy raising a metal skeleton of a new office block. Nearing the site, the Master followed his target with cold calculative eyes and made a small gesture with his hand. The metal of a nearby crane groaned loudly. Then he closed his fingers like a claw, and the supportive lattice structure contorted and gave.
Rassilon looked up in horror when the tower crane keeled over like a monstrous tree falling, threatening to crush him. He jumped down into the concrete pit, just in time before the crane came down on top of the network metal beams, folding them double. The Master waved with again with hand and a second crane came down on top, adding to the weight till the beams gave and the whole skeletal structure came crashing down with a terrifying noise, burying the fugitive underneath.
As the dust settled, the Master walked against the stream of fleeing builders, an avenging angel of death out on taking his price. He burned a hole through the wreckage and found Rassilon, trapped underneath two metal beams.
"Like I said, I won't do anything to you that wasn't done to me." The Master said, and with a malicious grin he set the structure on fire. Laughing, he watched how his hated foe became entombed inside an inferno of scorching metal.
Justice, lord president. Remember what you told me when you left me to rot inside that burning cage?! JUSTICE.
"Stop with whatever you are doing."
From the periphery of his vision, he saw a woman in a shiny black suit pointing two plasmaguns at him.
"Step away and put your hands on the back of your head." River told him. "And don't try anything funny. You're surrounded."
Slowly, he spun around to face an impressive army of heavily armed Judoon and UNIT soldiers. Each of one of them had locked their aim on him, ready to fire on River's command.
"River Song." He muttered, distracted for a brief moment from his crime. "You are River Song."
"Don't play that amnesia trick on me, bad boy." River warned him. "It may work on the Doctor, but I don't exactly share his warm feelings for you." She squinted her eyes and studied his new face. He might have regenerated, but to River who had seen the Master at his worst, his mental health seemed to have even further deteriorated. He had a mad and bewildered look in his steel-blue eyes that she didn't like at all.
"River Song. Yes of course. How could I have forgotten about you?" A cold calculative smile crept up his lips. "The Doctor's wife! What a wonderful surprise! How nice of you to drop by, really."
He approached her, apparently oblivious to the fact that he was currently the target of her entire squadron. "Back away." River warned him. "Don't get any nearer or I swear to God, I will fire."
He just ignored her and looked up at the sky expectantly. "Is the Doctor not coming?"
"Oh you would like that, wouldn't you? Not a chance!" River replied with a mocking smile.
"Are you sure? I had half expected to see him showing up by now. You know, jumping out of his Tardis, all excited like a manic Jack in the box, wearing that moronic smile of his like a badge for good behavior. Why wouldn't he?" He continued, suddenly turning bitter. "At least he still has plenty to smile about. He still got his bloody wife. My wife is DEAD!" He shouted into her face.
River backed away from him. She didn't want to show it, but she was actually frightened by his erratic behavior.
"My wife Anne." The Master continued in a softer voice, visibly touched by grief. "She is gone."
"What are you doing with that man down there in the pit?" River asked, mistaking his sadness with insanity. She stepped a little closer to take a better look at the situation. "He's on fire!" She commented, horrified by the scene.
"I know, and isn't that glorious?" He replied to her with a joyless smile as he took in a deep breath. "He's suffering in a hell of my design. Oh how I wish I could extend his torment till the end of eternity!"
"You're a mad…Madder than you ever were!" River replied, disgusted by his inhumanity.
"You're not here to stop me from enjoying myself, are you?" The Master gazed at her with contempt. "Because if you are…" He made a swift gesture with his hand and the flames in the pit flared up, setting a group of her men on fire who were standing too near the edge. "Go help them!" River screamed to the others. She shoved a gun in the Master's face, but instead of being frightened, he took the barrel and guided it to his forehead. "Come on then River Song." He challenged her, laughing madly. "Pull the trigger. Let's see how fast you are. But remember, if you fail, I am going to send you down to join him."
She could see in his eyes that he meant it. Her heart was leaping in her throat. Before River was forced to make a horrible decision, a harsh blinding light came down from sky. They all gazed overhead. High up in the stratosphere, an enormous aircraft was hovering over them. Her breath stalled when she recognized its familiar form. It was the Valiant, an earth-based warship that the Master's previous incarnation had once designed to take control over the human race. Unknowing to him, the great ship had been taken over by his enemies.
"It's the flagship of the Infinity Corporation." One of the UNIT officers shouted. "What are they doing here?"
"The man in the pit." River noticed, not without alarm. "He's gone. That must have been a teleportation beam."
"No." The Master shook his head. "NO NO NO NO! You cannot take him from me!" He screamed, frantic and enraged as the airship left the earth's stratosphere and disappeared into outer space. "RASSILON!" Tears of rage and frustration flooded his eyes. "Come back! YOU COWARD!" He fired a blast into the sky, but it failed to even reach the Valiant. Crazed with anger, he turned on River's men, his fury now focused on punishing the innocent. Spreading his two hands, he raised the fires from the pit and let it loose on the UNIT and Judoon soldiers, burning them alive. The rest of the squadron opened fire, and the Master was blasted by a canon of lasers and bullets, but none of it seem to be able to harm him.
River Song was pulled away by a UNIT officer. "Mam, this is spiraling out of control. You're not safe here. You have to leave."
"I am not a coward. I am not going to leave my men behind." She objected.
"With respect mam, there are not a lot of men left." The UNIT officer had hardly finished his sentence when he was hit and combusted into flames before her eyes. Shocked, River sent out of an emergency warning to the rest of her crew. "All units retreat! Repeat all units retreat! This is an order!"
She dived down just in time to get out of the way of an enormous fireball that blasted a group of Judoons into oblivion. Crawling on her stomach through the debris, she saw how two human soldiers lying nearly. They were on fire, rolling themselves over the ground, screaming as they were consumed by the blaze. "Retreat!" She kept shouting desperately, while the death toll mounted and the cries of the injured and dying filled the sky. "Retreat! We can't stop him! Retreat!"
When she finally heard the footsteps, she bravely turned around to face him. Her body froze when she saw him slowly raise his hand. It was as if he was holding to hellish ball of light. As he released it on her, she shut her eyes and twisted her wristband to activate her teleporter, fleeing the scene as one of the last survivors of her doomed mission.
The Doctor sat in the corner of the cell and was taking apart the loudspeaker in an effort to convert it into something that might help them escape.
"Any ideas yet?" Donna asked hopefully.
"Three so far." The Doctor answered, keeping himself busy. "All of them are rubbish."
'Well, whatever you are doing right now might work, right?"
She had hardly finished her sentence or the Doctor threw what was left of the speaker on the floor and stamped on it in pure frustration.
"Okay." He rubbed his hands, and paced around nervously. "Four. Four completely rubbish plans so far. What next? Think brain, think!"
"Doctor." Donna mumbled weakly. She didn't feel too well, and suddenly collapsed on the ground. When she regained consciousness, the Doctor was looking down at her, his brows knitted into a worried frown, while he cradled her head in his arms.
"What's going on?" Donna muttered. "Did I just faint?"
"Yes. This is happening quite a lot to you lately." The Doctor remarked. "Tell me Donna, do you remember anything?"
"Yeah. I remember just sitting here on the cot and becoming dizzy. Then suddenly all the lights went out."
"That's not what I mean. Do you remember what happened after you lost consciousness?"
"You mean like in a dream?"
The Doctor nodded.
Donna searched her memories. "No… I don't think I actually had a dream."
"You were struggling in your sleep, shouting out a name." He didn't want to tell her, but she had almost done this every night since they've left Saltsea.
"I could have just forgotten it. That's quite normal, right? You don't necessarily remember every dream you ever had."
"Perhaps." The Doctor studied her intensely. "Donna, can you tell me about the last three nights? What did you dream?"
"I…" She paused, and gazed at the Doctor, looking very lost. "I don't know anymore."
River Song stood in front of the stormcage. Her armor was torn and battered, and her cheeks were stained with soot. She didn't need to say anything. The defeated look in her eyes told him enough.
"How many?" He asked with heavy hearts.
River swallowed, and looked down shamefully. "487 soldiers from my platoon of 500. You were right. We didn't stand a chance."
"487 souls." The Doctor muttered. "That's a hell of a price to pay to prove me right."
"I am sorry my love." River said, torn by guilt.
"Don't tell me that you're sorry!" The Doctor replied angrily. "Go out there and tell this to the families of the men you've lost! And all because of your stupid recklessness!"
"I did this to save you!" River blurted. "Can't you understand, I cannot let you die!"
"River. Everyone dies. In the end that's not what truly matters. What does matter, is how we are remembered." He came close to her, leaning his forehead against the bars of his prison. "Let them remember me as am now, the Doctor who bravely faced his final fate."
River swallowed hard and shook her head.
"Please River. I can't do this. I can't put things right if you don't let me. I need your help."
"What do you need?"
The Doctor returned to her a sad smile. "An Ood in the snow."
They landed on the white planet of the Oods, galaxies away from the war-fleet of the Shadow proclamation that patrolled the Earth's solarsystem. When the Tardis doors opened to the frosty landscape, the Doctor stepped out and inhaled the air. He followed by Donna and River and two armed soldiers. One was Judoon, the other one was human.
"Ah! Much better." The Doctor commented, stretching is legs and arms to get them going again after being cooped up for so long. "Although I can't believe there is any use in dragging these two along." Meaning the two soldiers. "We already have this on our wrists." He lifted his arm to show her the wristbands. "It's a bit of an overkill, don't you think?"
"They are here for your safety Doctor." River replied calmly.
"What? One brain and one muscle? Together they probably make up only half a functional being."
"You see! It's not an overkill at all." River smiled cheekily. She turned to the UNIT soldier. "Check their wristbands."
"Again?!" The Doctor nagged. "You've checked these things 7 times already."
"I am just making sure. These teleporters are your only life lines. Don't try to escape back to Earth Doctor." River Song told him sternly. "As soon as you get as close as the milkey way, your wristbands will be activated, and you will be transported back inside the stormcage. Remember this. I am not going to give you a second chance to kill yourself."
"If these are working teleporters, why did we still need the Tardis to get here?" Donna asked.
"Because these things are just child's play compared to what a breathing living Tardis can do. We have not only traveled in space, but also in time. We are, in fact, in the far future, millions of light years away from Earth." River said, staring in the Doctor's eyes.
"The Tardis is here to amplify the signal. It supplies a link to the teleporters to get us back to the warship when they are activated." The Doctor added.
"And they are activated by almost anything." River told the Doctor with the most confident smile. "I mean it my love. Try to start up the Tardis engines, switch on the lights in the control room, or even if you're just touching one tiny insigfinicant button on the console." She snapped her fingers. "You'll be back in your prison in an instant."
"Listening to you, I figured I have never truly left." The Doctor complained.
"It's for your own good." She straightened his tie affectionately. "Go find your Ood in the snow, and visit those wise men. Listen to their prophecy and use your clever head to find a way for us to help you."
"River." The Doctor grabbed her hand. A tiny spark went over when the wristbands touched. "Thank you." He told her sincerely.
River Song smiled sadly at him, then turned and walked away in the snow. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Donna Noble." She told the Doctor's companion as she activated her own wristband. "I hope to see you soon. Safe journey back." She disappeared in a flash of blue light.
"Come on then." The Doctor told the others. "No time to waste. We have to get to the frozen city. To the Ood elders. Now if I remember it correctly, it's that way." He pointed at a white hill that seemed not so different from the other snow-covered hills nearby. He walked a few paces, then hesitated and spun around to go in the opposite direction. "I know everything looks pretty much the same, but trust me, there's still plenty of landmarks to work with." The Doctor rambled as they started their journey through the snowy landscape.
"Doctor." Donna noted. "She didn't remember me."
"Who?" The Doctor asked, not really paying attention. He was too busy trying to figure out where the hell they were. It turned out that his sense of direction was a bit more rusty than he had thought.
"River Song. She didn't know who I was."
"Of course she doesn't. This is a younger version of her. She has not even met you yet."
"No I know that." She rolled her eyes in impatiently. "I mean the older one. The River we've met in the Great Library. She didn't know who I was. It doesn't make any sense. I've met her now, didn't I? The younger version of her should have remembered me."
The Doctor slowed down his pace, his mind turning fast. "Yes…That is strange." He looked at her, eyes wide. "And you, you don't remember any of your dreams."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Donna asked, confused.
"Nothing." The Doctor muttered. "Nothing and everything. It could be a coincidence, but then again, what are the odds." He wheeled around, and started running.
"Is he always like that?" The UNIT soldier remarked, raising a puzzled brow.
"Doctor?! Doctor? What's going on?" Donna shouted, running after him.
"Don't know!" He yelled back as he plowed his way through the snow. "Going to find out!"
As soon as River Song materialized in the central control room of the Judoon warship, she immediately requested a status report on Felix Grant.
"Mocking bird called while you were away, mam." One of the senior officers reported. "They have moved. Felix Grant is no longer located onboard of the Infinity flagship."
"Where did they go?" She asked leaning over his shoulder to get a good look at the information displayed on the numerous screens.
"Apparently, he has boarded the old UNIT airship, the Valiant. The latest breadcrumbs that mocking bird left us is pointing out its coordinates. At this moment, the Valiant is orbiting the Earth, flying over the northern hemisphere near Saint Petersburg, latitude 59°56′N, longitude 30°20′E. " He paused and gazed at River Song. "Are you all right mam?"
"The Valiant." River whispered, recalling how the Master's target was rescued out of the inferno. "What are they all doing on the Valiant?"
"Mam? Your orders?"
"Where is our fleet that we've sent out to collect Grant?"
"They're already on their way back. As soon as we knew that Grant had been translocated, I gave out the order to request their return. They are all within 2000 miles of the Earth's orbit, ready to strike at your command."
"Excellent captain." River told him. "That gives me 15 minutes to change."
"Mam?" The captain lifted his brows in cofusion.
"You don't expect me to pop over to the Valiant, just like this?" She commented with a witty grin. "At least let me grab a few more guns to go with this outfit."
"Of course, mam." The captain replied, and reopened the weapon storage for her.
The ice cave looked exactly like he remembered from his last visit. The six Ood elders were sitting in a circle around the fire, joining hands while they shared their dreaming when the Doctor and his little gang wandered in.
"Ever thought of not doing this inside an ice cave?" The Doctor noted lightheartedly. "Seriously, a roaring fire and a ceiling made out of ice." He looked up at the stalactites hanging from the ceiling and grimaced when a drop of icewater dripped down on his neck. "Oh that was really unpleasant!" He complained, shivering. "Don't you get that all time when you just sit here, constantly? I mean, there are cave with stone ceilings on this planet."
"Doctor." Donna, whispered. "Shut up."
"Come sit with us Doctor." The eldest and wisest of the Ood elders told him. "Join us in the dreaming."
"You will join." The others repeated in a chant. "You will join. You will join."
The Doctor sat down in the circle. The two Oods next to him grabbed hold of his hands. "Just like the last time, nothing to panic about." He muttered to Donna who was following all this with a worried expression on her face.
"You came here to see the future." The eldest said. "Are you sure that you are prepared?"
"Yes, show me what you've shown River Song." The Doctor replied bravely.
"We cannot show you that."
"Why not? Oh come on, don't be daft. There is no need to be soft on me. Just give it to me straight, I can take it." He shut his eyes and braced himself.
"We cannot show you because that future has already passed. It no longer exists."
The Doctor opened one eye and peered at the Elder. "What?"
"The shapes of things to come are shifting, constantly moved by the events that took place so many years ago. What we have once seen was the end of all creation, the destruction of time itself, beyond that, there was only darkness."
"Yes. I know. I came here to prevent this from happening. So show me the future and let me think of a solution."
"You cannot help us Doctor."
"Of course I can. It's all I've ever done. Now stop talking like that, and show me my future!"
"Then I can only show you this day, Doctor."
"What? But that's rubbish! What kind of prophecy is this if you can only predict where I will be this evening or this late afternoon? You showed River Song far more than that!"
"There is nothing more to show you. Your time shall end. It will end, today."
"My time…" The Doctor froze when the cold grasp of fear got a hold on his hearts. "How will it happen? Show me!"
Violent images flooded into his mind. Donna, River, the Valiant and Felix Grant flashed before his mind's eye, before it slowed down to that one fated confrontation inside the Tardis, where the Doctor finally faced the Master.
"Doctor, what's happening? What do you see?" Donna asked, extremely anxious after catching a part of the Ood's prophesy, but the Doctor didn't respond.
"There can be no other outcome." The wise elder told him. "I am sorry Doctor."
"I see…" The Doctor muttered gravely, his face has turned white. "What happens after today? Show me."
The dreaming commenced. It took him to a nightmare future where time was disintegrating and all of the great civilizations in the universe lay in ashes. The fabric of reality was ripped apart, leaving a festering wound that allowed the dark swarms that lived in the cold void in between to crossover. The universe was now at the mercy of the demon army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres, and over this ruthless band, there ruled a vengeful and merciless Timelord god.
For the first time in his long, tired life, the Doctor was overcome with a deep sense of helplessness. Never had he given up before, not once, not even when all odds were stacked up against him. Now after being confronted by this horrific future, one that was inevitable, set in stone, he abandoned all hope. The whole of creation shall be left in the dark, screaming for mercy, but mercy would never come, for today, the Doctor's song will end.
As the Doctor stood amid the ruins of his beloved Earth overlooking the devastation, all that mindless hate and destruction, his hearts wept. There is no point. He thought. Not in any of it. The dices have rolled and we have lost.
We all have lost.
There is still hope Doctor. The Oods whispered. For even when Pandora's box is opened, there is still a last light remaining, shining in the darkness. Look again more closely, the answer lies safely hidden in the past.
His mind's eye transported him back to Saltsea, where on the night before the Master's regeneration, Donna woke up from a horrible dream. A dream that she could only half-remember.
"It looked like him. It looked like the Nightmare Child…And I know him." She told him. Her eyes lit up with a shock of realization.
"What? What is it?"
"That face." She told him in an unsteady voice. "That man in the mirror… I couldn't quite place him at first. It was as if he was in the wrong time and the wrong place, but now - now I do remember him. I am almost sure that it's really him."
She was tired and light-headed, drunk on the ominous prophesies that spilled out of her mouth in feverish ramblings.
"Doctor, I know it sounds crazy, but you have to believe me, but I know that man, I've known him all my life. He's…He's…"
"Donna." The Doctor whispered as his mind finally worked it all out while the last remnants of the memory passed. "She's the key. The last light that came out Pandora's box…And River couldn't remember her in the Library."
The Doctor's eyes snapped open. He immediately tore away from the circle. "Hate to be rude again, but I really have to go." He told the Oods, and grabbed Donna on his way out. "Thanks for showing me the light!" he shouted back over his shoulders.
"What's going on? Why are we leaving so quickly? Do you have a plan now?!" Donna asked as she ran along with him. They were followed by the two soldiers.
"I think I have a plan. Well, sort of plan. And guess what? It's not rubbish this time!" The Doctor told her with a mad smile on his face.
"Doctor, what did they show you? Why were they talking about your ending?"
"Did they? I didn't catch that part." The Doctor lied, and faked another broad smile. "You see I was trying very hard to concentrate on a new plan to make sure it wasn't rubbish. Can't think and listen on the same time. Most geniuses can't. Take Albert Einstein, the man was just horrible at listening and half of the time that I've met him he told me to shut up." He glanced over shoulder. "Are you two still following us?" He sounded annoyed.
"We're just following orders sir." The UNIT replied. "Professor Song wants you back on the ship after you've spoken to the Oods."
"Does she now." The Doctor replied. "And what if I refuse to go?"
"Then we activate your bracelet via remote control." The soldier said with his hand on his wristband, ready to push the button.
They were back where they've left the Tardis. The Doctor stood in front of the door with his hands in his pockets.
"You know what? Maybe you should. Anyway, let me pop inside for a sec to put my coat on. Don't know if any of you have noticed, but it's freezing out here." The Doctor hugged his arms around his chest and shivered to make his point.
"You've been outside for more then an hour dressed like that, and now you're complaining?" Donna remarked.
The UNIT soldier was also not that easily fooled. "Like I said Doctor, the professor wants you back on the ship immediately after your visit. There is no need for you to grab your coat. We're leaving right now!"
"I take you're the one with the brains then. Funny I thought it would be the Judoon. They say you're often surprised by the silent ones, but in this case." The Doctor studied the Judoon's blank facial expression, and waved a hand in front of his beady eyes. "Nah, probably not."
"What are you doing?" Donna whispered to him. "You know you can't use the Tardis to escape. It's locked."
"I was just going to get my coat! Seriously why is that such a big deal?" The Doctor responded, faking being offended. He pulled open the Tardis doors and stepped inside under loud protest of the UNIT soldier. Donna was about to follow him when he stopped her.
"What?" Donna asked.
"You're not coming with me." The Doctor whispered to her.
"Why not?" She had long figured out that the Doctor wasn't only going back inside to grab a piece of clothing that he didn't need, but she didn't understand why she was not allowed inside the Tardis.
"Donna." He told her, glancing at the others. "Listen to me carefully. You must absolutely try to remember what I am about to whisper into your ear. It wouldn't make any sense to you now, but it will, after this day is over, you will remember him, and you'll know what you have to do. It is of the utmost importance."
"Oh my God." Donna gasped. "You're going to leave me behind."
"Because you're too important. I can't take you along. It's too risky. If something happens to you, that's it. It would be game over for all of us."
"You're going to die, aren't you? That ending that the Oods were talking about. It's your death!"
"Doctor! I warn you one last time, step out of the Tardis!" The UNIT soldier barked, and held his hand on the button of his remote.
"Remember me Donna Noble." The Doctor told her, and kissed her on her forehead. "And remember what I tell you now." He leaned closer to her. His voice was the softest of whispers, but she heard him, loud and clear. Then he pushed her back and shut the doors, leaving a very shocked and teary-eyed Donna standing outside in the snow.
"Doctor!" The UNIT soldier shouted. "You're not going anywhere!" He punched in the button and they all vanished in a bright blue flash.
The first thing Donna sensed was the soft vibration of the engines under her feet. Then the bars of the stormcage materialized around her. She was back on the Judoon warship, and was once again safely locked up on the prison deck.
"I told you Doctor." The UNIT soldier said rather triumphantly at the other side of the bars. "Resistance is futile." His eyes grew wide when he noticed that Donna was the only one inside the stormcage. There was no sign of the Doctor or the Tardis.
"What happened?" He checked his wristband, but the system was still online and he couldn't find a flaw. "How is that possible?!"
"The Doctor has escaped." His Judoon colleague concluded, speaking out-loud for the first time.
"Yes." Donna muttered, a tear dripping down her chin. "Yes he did."
The UNIT soldier walked up to her and pointed a teaser gun at her chest. "He was talking to you. You must know where he went. Tell me!"
Donna calmly looked up at him. She was not the least intimidated. "Isn't that obvious?" She said quietly. "He went to save our lives."
Just one more chapter left before this story ends! Please review and comment and the final chapter will be up next Saturday.