Time and Again by Sarah Jane Smith

Summary: In 1978, UNIT headquarters is under siege from an old enemy, whilst in 2016 the final part of his plan comes together. Can UNIT work together, 40 years apart, to prevent time from changing forever?
Rating: Teen
Categories: Multi-Era
Characters: None
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2021.04.11
Updated: 2022.01.03


Chapter 1: 27th March, 2016, 10:37am
Chapter 2: 17th October, 1978, 10:00am
Chapter 3: 27th March, 2016, 12:13pm
Chapter 4: 17th October, 1978, 10:38am
Chapter 5: 27th March, 2016, 12:19pm
Chapter 6: 17th October, 1978, 11:21am
Chapter 7: 27th March, 2016, 1:02pm
Chapter 8: 17th October, 1978, 11:47am
Chapter 9: 27th March, 2016, 1:34pm
Chapter 10: 17th October, 1978, 12:13pm

Chapter 1: 27th March, 2016, 10:37am

Author's Notes: Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

27th March, 2016, 10:37am

“The Doctor’s laboratory?” Jo says, voice hovering somewhere between outraged and amused.

Kate half turns, sharing a quick smile with her. “Physical files take up a lot of space. And no one wanted to repurpose the room by removing anything so-” she swings the door open.

Jo’s hand flies to her mouth as she’s catapulted back in time. The room truly doesn’t look that different. The Doctor’s workbench still takes up one whole side, a few standard UNIT boxes, emblazoned with the familiar insignia, stacked along one end of it. The old rotary telephone and its wire is in the place it has always been. She pats the back of the equally familiar chair as she passes it, stepping into the room proper. She had spent many hours in that chair, smoothing over ruffled feathers as she chased up the Doctor’s impatient requisitions.

The far corner, where the TARDIS used to stand, has been left conspicuously empty. There are faint outlines of blue chalk still on the floor, a reserved parking space.

Much of the floor space however is filled with cardboard boxes filled with old fashioned lever arch folders, and even a couple of file cabinets, rammed up against one wall, but Jo can see instantly what Kate means. This is still the Doctor’s laboratory, it’s just had some things no one uses regularly dumped in it while he is temporarily absent.

Benton squeezes in beside her and together they survey the room for a long moment. His hand finds hers and he squeezes her fingers reassuringly for a second. She’s glad of the support. It’s plain weird to stand here again after all these years.

“You want us to go through all these, Miss?”

“Kate, Mr Benton, please. You’ve been retired for more than a decade, I think we can drop the formalities. But yes. These are - mostly - your missions, that’s why I brought you in. You’re more likely to recognise anything that’s been reported in a more-” she hesitates a second, “-circumspect way, and be able to fill in any blanks I might need to know. But there’s a lot of duplication, reports filed in triplicate etc. Anything you think we do need, pass it on to Osgood, she’s going to archive everything digitally.”

“Where is Osgood?” Jo asks, delighted to hear that her friend is here.

Kate rolls her eyes. “Exploring. She’s very excited to be in the original HQ.”

Even Benton cracks a smile at that. He’s fond of Osgood too. It’s been a long time since anyone was interested in his old war stories.

“All these years away from UNIT and I’m still doing the filing,” Jo jokes cheerfully, picking her way across the room to the workbench. She peers into the boxes on the far side, filled with a seemingly random assortment of bits and a bunsen burner that makes her ache with its familiarity, the Doctor’s regular tools and experimental pieces. She draws her hand back, unwilling to explore any of that yet and instead runs a finger through the thick layer of dust on one of the boxes.

“Nothing ever changes,” Benton says as he joins her.

“I can at least save you from making the tea,” Kate offers. “Two sugars, isn’t it, Jo. And for you Mr. Benton?”

“If I’m going to call you Kate, you have to call me John.”

“John, it is.”

“And the same as Jo, please. Strong and sweet.”

“Same as him,” Jo adds, and the tips of Benton’s ears turn, to Kate’s delight, rather red.

“I’ll bring them through, and the nice biscuits we keep for people who are inspecting us.”

“Brilliant,” Jo enthuses, looking up from the first folder that’s she’s heaved onto the bench and is now flipping through, “I love being important.”

“I like not having to keep to military time,” Benton says, “I remember when 10 o’clock sharp wouldn’t have meant quarter past 10 after a leisurely drive, and then a nostalgic walk around the place before we have to get to work.”

Kate laughs, and leaves them to get on with, promising to keep Osgood from pestering them for stories until they’ve done at least some of the boxes.

Benton and Jo empty the first box and have a quick look through the folders, discovering to their dismay, that there doesn’t seem to be any order at all.

“This looks like someone emptied a bunch of filing cabinets into boxes whichever way they fitted best,” Jo complains, slamming shut an accounts ledger that seems to be mostly detailing automobile part requisitions between 1967 and 1970. A huge cloud of dust rises from the edges, and Benton turns away to cough.

“Probably exactly what happened,” Benton agrees. “You know what downsizing is like. Anything that’s not immediately needed goes in the nearest box until someone does need it.”

Jo gives her tinkling laugh. “Yes, and then all the boxes are emptied all over the floor until someone finds what they need, and whatever’s left over is shoved back in, higgledy-piggledy.”

Benton doesn’t answer her, peering closely at a page. “Do you think we have clearance to read all of this?” he asks suddenly.

“I expect so, Kate would have said otherwise. Why, what have you found?”

“Oh, just one of the Brig’s old reports. Remember the incident at Devil’s End?”

“Do I?” Jo shivers, “I still have nightmares about it sometimes.”

“Well, I’d never guess from this,” Benton flashes her a quick smile, “The Brig wrote here you showed ‘extraordinary courage.’”

Jo gives a squeal more suited to the girl she had been in Devil’s End. “Does he? Oooo, let’s see.”

Benton passes over the file. “We’ll never get through this if we have to read everything.” He is roundly ignored, Jo now deep in the report he’s handed over, but with a good natured smile, he simply picks up another box.

For the next hour and a half or so, they sort contentedly. The ‘for disposal’ pile grows steadily. Jo puts aside the financial records for Kate’s approval, although she suspects that no one cares at all how much had been spent on boots in the mid 80s, and that these too can be disposed of. They get distracted occasionally, reminiscing about adventures and old friends. Jo is in charge of deciphering the Doctor’s reports, the old skill of reading his elaborate copperplate handwriting coming quickly back to her.

They are just thinking about taking a break and seeing if the kitchenette they remember being down the corridor is stocked with supplies for a couple of sandwiches, when there’s a familiar sound. It’s the roaring grind of a powerful engine, or wind through corrugated iron. Some single sheets of paper begin blowing, one stack gusting onto the floor, and as one, they turn to look at the chalked out corner as a blue box begins to appear.

Back to index

Chapter 2: 17th October, 1978, 10:00am

Author's Notes: Welcome to chapter two! This story is going to have alternate chapters split between the two time periods, I hope that's not too confusing for people. You get to find out who's in the TARDIS next week. Thank you to all readers, I hope you keep enjoying.

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

17th October, 1978, 10:00am

The Doctor and Alistair are pouring over a map of the Essex countryside when all of the alarms go off at once. They both look up, twin expressions of intense concentration, and the door opens sharply to admit Mike Yates.

“Report, Captain,” Alistair says crisply, though he has to shout a little to be heard over the racket.

“We’re under attack, sir,” Yates answers. “Those- Those things again. There’s more of them. They’re crossing the perimeter on all sides.”

“Our guards?”

Yates just shakes his head. “I can’t raise any of them on the radio.”

Alistair swears under his breath, and the Doctor feels much like doing the same. “Are they concentrated anywhere in particular?” he asks.

Yates shakes his head again. “They’re congregating at access points,” he offers.

“Get a squad together,” Alistair orders, “set up a defensive barrier at the main entrance. And set everyone else to barricading any other entry points. We can’t risk being flanked by having those-”

“Organic clones,” the Doctor supplies.

“-come through the windows at us. And have that alarm turned off.”

Yates salutes, and leaves as abruptly as he had entered. Alistair turns back to his scientific advisor who is radiating disapproval next to him. “Something to add, Doctor?”

“There’s no point in shooting at organic clones, Brigadier, they’re so much animated meat. Nothing short of a rocket launcher is going to stop them.”

“Well then, until Benton gets back with a rocket launcher, what do you suggest?”

The Doctor snatches up the map. “I’m going to stop them at the source. We know the Master is controlling them. I’ve got a few ideas how. I’m going to block him off. That’ll put a stop to him!”

“I’ll send a man with you.”

“Oh, yes. Someone to make the situation worse by firing bullets at it.”

Alistair huffs in irritation. “You can’t very well go alone.”

The Doctor is already heading back to his laboratory, footsteps sharp now the alarms have stopped, and dodging gracefully around soldiers taking up their positions in hallways and dragging heavy cabinets and benches into positions across doors. “I’m not one of your employees, Brigadier!” he says impatiently. Then his expression softens slightly. “Look, Yates is virtually the only experienced man you have here right now,” he waves a hand around the hallway he’s striding down. “This is a new deployment. I can’t take someone who’s still getting their head around the existence of extraterrestrials to deal with the Master. It would just be handing him a hostage. I do wish Jo were here.” He adds, even though they both know that she’s safer where she is.

Alistair’s mouth tightens, but he can’t deny that the men currently thronging HQ are all new recruits. Half of them have never even been in Earthly combat before, and whatever his reasons, the Master is much less likely to hurt the Doctor in a permanent way than a human he views as expendable. He hands his own radio over. “Stay in touch.”

The Doctor expertly checks the settings.

By now, they are in the laboratory, and the Doctor pulls the gizmo that opens the back door out of his jacket. He gives Alistair a slight smile. “I’ll be alright, old chap, just make sure you’re the same.”

Alistair checks his revolver and smiles grimly back.

However, as the door begins to raise they see upwards of fifty bottom halves of those things come into view. They begin to surge forwards, and the Doctor hastily reverses whatever he’s doing with his device, and the door swings closed once more. It cleanly shears through one of the things’ legs, and Alistair sees what he means. It’s not plastic, not like an auton, it definitely looks like a human leg, clad in a - now torn - non-descript black trouser, but it’s not bleeding and looks oddly shapeless, despite the knee and shoe. It reminds him, rather stomach churningly, of the relationship meat has to those disgusting chicken nuggets from McDoodles that Katie is such a fan of.

“Not getting out that way,” the Doctor says, rather unnecessarily. He chews on his lip for a moment. “Get that up on the workbench,” he orders, gesturing at the leg, even as he begins to pull the device he had half finished earlier out of another pocket.

Alistair doesn’t particularly want to touch it, but never let it be said he can’t follow orders as well as give them, and he does as he’s asked. The Doctor is pulling wires out of the mid section of the thing now, hastily reconnecting them in different ways and muttering to himself.

“That’s your teletropic thing, isn’t it?”

“In a moment,” says the Doctor, “it’s going to be my teletropic scanner, let’s see if we can reverse the polarity and transform the outward signal to a detector signal; see where it’s coming from. To be controlling hordes like this, the Master must be close. Once I know where he is, perhaps I can block him from here.”

Alistair watches him for a moment longer. “I’m going to check on the men,” he says.

The Doctor hums an affirmative, still focused on the parts he has spread out on the bench. Alistair watches as he jams a biro into the guts of the thing and wiggles it about a bit, but he has to go. He’s more use virtually anywhere else during an incursion than in the laboratory.

“Don’t let them get too close,” the Doctor cautions as he steps towards the door, still not looking up from his project. “They’re stronger than you, bullets won’t stop them permanently, but you’ve got no chance if one gets its hands around your throat.”

Alistair nods once, and steps out into the hallway.

He follows the sounds of shouts and shots, and makes it into the heart of the base, before running into his men, crouched behind a hastily constructed barricade.

It’s carnage.

The men are still exercising exemplary discipline, but it’s obvious from a single glance that they are losing. Instead of being spread out to form bottleneck points, they have already been pushed back into one knot. A steady wall of organic clones, all with the same disturbing blank mass where faces ought to be, are progressing unstoppably down the corridor. Here and there, he can see where some have been stopped, usually in pieces, but there are far more human bodies, sprawled and unmoving. He hopes most are simply unconscious, once they’re no longer resisting, the invaders seem to lose interest in them.

Alistair winces as one rank of clones doesn’t even bother to step over a downed form, all marching across him. He can see from the state of them that his men have done their best to put them down, not one of them is free from bullet holes and scorch marks. Their once pristine black outfits are tattered and torn, several have bare limbs where they are missing completely.

The Doctor, as always though, has been correct. Their weapons are having no effect and this veritable army seems unstoppable.

Yates turns to him as he makes his way to the front of those still standing. He looks rather the worse for wear, a rather nasty looking cut below the hairline dripping blood into his eye, and grimy with sweat. Under it all he looks pale, weakness from the unjury or fear, Alistair isn’t sure and wouldn’t blame him for either.

“Any suggestions, sir?” he says lightly, popping another shot off at the enemy, and Alistair watches as it hits the middle clone centre mass. It rocks with the impact, but keeps inexorably moving forward. Their very slowness is perhaps the most unsettling thing about them.

“Tactical retreat, I think, Captain. Let’s get a set of fire doors between us and them and regroup.”

Yates’ lips thin. Alistair knows exactly how he feels. Being forced to retreat within your own stronghold isn’t exactly the stuff of heroic tales. He doesn’t hesitate through, turning to give the command, and leading the men back down the hallway, Alistair bringing up the rear, thinking hard.

Back to index

Chapter 3: 27th March, 2016, 12:13pm

Author's Notes: A continuation of the current time period. We finally find out who is in the TARDIS. Just a short chapter this week, but a longer one is coming.

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

27th March, 2016, 12:13pm

Benton and Jo watch as the familiar TARDIS materialises in the corner, both move forward, joyful exclamations on their lips as the door opens. A tall thin man in an immaculate suit and a goatee steps out of the TARDIS.

“You!!” Jo gasps, stepping back and almost into Benton, who immediately flings out an arm to push her behind him.

The Master sighs, irritation stealing across his features. “Almost 40 years forward, and you are still here; the Doctor’s beloved pets.”

“Hey,” Benton starts.

The Master sighs again. “I really don’t have time for this. Apologies, Miss Grant, Sergeant Benton, but I have a prior engagement.”

He steps forward and Benton moves to meet him, hand curling into a fist at his side as he longs for his own service revolver. The Master pulls a too-familiar silver object out of his pocket and aims it right at Jo. “Please don’t do anything rash, Sergeant. I have no use for either of you.”

Benton scowls mutinously, but forces his body to relax.

“Thank you. Now, I am the Master, and you will obey me,” the Master’s voice goes low and deep.

“John, no! Don’t look at him.”

The Master gives his thin smile, “Now, now, Miss Grant, behave yourself.”

“It’s Mrs Jones now, you-” she argues hotly.

It doesn’t help, he just uses her defiance against her, snaring her eyes with his own as she glares at him. It flits across her mind - not for the first time - that the Master would be rather attractive if he weren't such a psychopath, then he’s speaking again, in that slow hypnotic register, and she knows she has to look away, blink, do anything to resist, but it’s like a wave of lassitude washing over her and she knows she should, but she can’t force her body to obey.

Beside her, she hears Benton repeating the Master’s words in a stilted rhythm, and she fights against it as hard as she can.

I am the Master,” the Master says again, voice resonating so she can feel it inside her bones. It’s as though he’s speaking from inside her mind.

“You- you-” Jo stutters, fighting with everything that she has. She won’t be controlled by him, not again, not here, not inside UNIT, and Kate and Osgood-

-and you will obey me.” His voice drops another octave.

And Jo’s mind buckles under the psychic pressure.

“You are the Master, and I will obey you,” she hears herself repeat, and then she doesn’t remember anything else.

Back to index

Chapter 4: 17th October, 1978, 10:38am

Author's Notes: Meanwhile, in 1978, the battle rages on.

Apologies for the delay, readers. I'm was incredibly swamped at work this weekend. Hopefully the next chapter should be up in a more timely fashion.

Imaginary internet points are available for anyone who can tell me the significance of the code to the armoury.

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described. This, however, is the most violent of the chapters as the battle increases. I don't think it's anything worse than the beeb would have aired, but those who are squeamish may want to be aware.

17th October, 1978, 10:38am

Behind the last set of fire doors, Alistair and Yates confer quickly, listing their knowledge of the situation (the Master’s army of seemingly unstoppable clones is bearing down on them, and he must be close by) and assets (their mostly depleted revolvers and thirty, mostly injured, raw recruits). It looks, Alistair has to admit, even if only inside his own mind, a bit bleak.

“Take two, and do a recce,” he orders Yates, see if there’s any exits we can use to evacuate the injured. Not that there are many uninjured, and regardless of cost, he cannot let this place fall to the Master, there’s too much here that the Master would love to get his hands on, he can’t risk the planet like that.

Unaware of his darker thoughts, Yates nods briskly, “Yes, sir,” then he’s off.

Alistair turns to the men he’s left with. “There rooms are offices,” he says, gesturing to the rooms leading off the corridor. Honestly, how had the Master managed to stage this attack for the one day in a thousand that his numbers of experienced operatives are this diminished? “Get whatever furniture you can move, we’re going to blockade these doors.”

They scatter, like children released from a classroom. Alistair isn’t really sure what use a barricade might be, but he knows that giving them a command to follow will stop panic spreading. He thinks again about how useful having this whole place wired up with explosives, for situations just like this, would be. He doesn’t relish the thought, but he’d like to know that if all else fails, he at least has a self destruct; death before dishonour. Wishing, however, is useless, so he pushes the thought, and the desire for a few ground-to-air missile launchers, from his mind.

He passes through the small groups of men, now tugging tables, chairs and anything else that isn’t bolted down, and laying it across the door. He gives orders and reassurance as needed and eventually makes his way to the rear, turning down the left hand fork and slipping back into the laboratory.

“Any luck?”

“I’m being as quick as I can, this is rather delicate, you know.”

“We are on rather a timeframe, Doctor. The barbarians are at the gates.”

The Doctor turns one of the dials on his contraption and it squeals loudly before he hurriedly twists it back into place.

“I can’t get a fix,” he snarls, frustration colouring his tone. “I don’t know how he’s doing it, but he appears to be exerting his control in a complete circumference.”

“Well...what does that mean?”

“It means he could be anywhere, and we’re no closer to finding him.”

“What about blocking the signal?” Alistair asks, ever practical.

The Doctor runs a hand through his unruly grey curls. “I can reconfigure this to do that, but I don’t have the power to block the strength of the Master’s signal. I could make a small area secure.”

Alistair looks around the laboratory, at its heavy double doors, the awkwardly shaped entrance that will bottleneck an enemy, at the emergency exit that the Doctor uses at the back. “Could you make in here safe?”

The Doctor’s eyes flit from wall to wall, eyes flickering as he makes some rapid calculations. “Just about, yes.”

“Then this will be our last stand. I also need a way to bring down those things.”

“They’re just meat, Brigadier, as long as they can move, they’ll keep coming. There’s no thought or intelligence there.”


“Do what you do best, Brigadier, fire rockets or missiles or what have you,” the Doctor snaps, irritation giving his tone an edge.

Alistair would quite like to ask if the Doctor actually has a missile handy, but he doesn’t have time for the ensuing tirade, so he just nods curtly and makes his way back to the battle.

For the moment, the barricade is holding, though the precariously balanced structure is wobbling as tremendous forces slam against it. Yates is back, his wound is bleeding more profusely than ever, and he’s now holding the top of his left arm, a rusty discolouration on his uniform speaking of a second injury.

“Form a line,” Alistair says calmly, and waits a few seconds while the troops form themselves up. “Shooting positions. Anything that breaches that, make it regret it.” Then he makes his way over to Yates. “Anything?”

Yates shakes his head.

Alistair eyes him for a moment. “Sit down before you fall down, Mike. We’re going to be busy in a moment.”

Yates gives a breathy laugh, and slides down the wall he’s leaning against. Alistair crouches with him, shielding him from the gaze of the men around them for the moment. “Let’s have a look at that head wound.” He doesn’t like how glassy eyed Yates is.

Yates rallies a little, “It’s fine, ears are still ringing but it won’t kill me. My arm though…” He lifts his hand away from the grip he has below the opposite shoulder, and Alistair sees a laceration that goes almost to the bone.

He’s approached from behind by one of the men, “Sir, sorry, sir, but there’s a first aid kit in-”

“Get it.”

“We need a way out, sir,” Yates says quietly from between gritted teeth.

Alistair nods brusquely. “The Doctor’s working on it. We just need this line for a bit longer.” The boy is back with the first aid kit now, Alistair looks up at him, “Thank you. It’s Williams, isn’t it?”

The boy, though Alistair knows he can’t actually be that much younger than Yates nods, looking pleased. “Yes, sir. Andrew Williams, sir.”

“Good man, get back in that line and hold it.”

Private Williams nods smartly and does as asked. Alistair opens up the kit. Accepting Yates’ self assessment of his head wound for the moment, he ignores it and digs out a bandage. “Alright, Captain, let’s see that arm.”

He dresses it quickly and efficiently. Yates hisses between his teeth as he pulls it tight. Alistair watches the bandage for a moment, but blood doesn’t immediately stain through. Perhaps it will hold until Yates can see a proper medic.

“There’s no way out?”

“None, we’re well and truly surrounded.”

“Anyway through to the armoury?”

Yates takes a moment to consider and his mouth pulls to the side. “Possibly. Risky though.”

Alistair stands up. “Thank you for that tactical assessment, Captain,” he says dryly.

Yates tries to fight his way back up to his own feet, but Alistair puts a firm hand on his shoulder to keep him in place. “You just sit there, Captain.”

Duty wars with outrage on Yates’ face. “I can-” he begins to insist.

“I don’t have the resources to carry you if you collapse,” Alistair says bluntly, and then softens the blow with, “besides the men need someone here to give the orders.” He holds Yates’ eyes long enough to watch rebellion bleed into acceptance, and then turns away, “Williams and...you.” He points at the least injured looking of the recruits, and then abruptly remembers his name, “Private Anderson. Come with me.”

He pats Yates again on the shoulder, and then leads the pair back down the hallway.

“Where are we going, sir?” Private Anderson asks.

Alistair eyes him, he looks even younger than Williams. “We are going on a resupply run. Captain Yates tells me there is still a way through to the armoury, and my scientific advisor has advised that an explosion of significant size will stop those things in their tracks.”

At the corner junction he stops, flattening himself against the wall and looking carefully around him. Risky was right, the armoury itself is undefended, but he can see three of the blank faced clones standing motionless in the corridor between them and it. They look like switched off machinery, utterly still, but Alistair knows that will change as soon as they feel challenged. He looks for a moment longer, but he’s reasonably sure that there’s nothing else in the hallway. All those rooms should have been locked, and there isn’t another junction. It’s likely that his only opposition is what they can see.

He pulls back to face the pair of Privates standing watching him. They’re both looking a bit wide eyed. Despite his dry mouth and his own misgivings, Alistair has years of command under his belt and he speaks with customary confidence. “There are three hostiles. I know they seem unstoppable, but we are going to stop them.”

“They’re not very fast, sir,” Anderson offers.

Alistair nods. “And they’re unarmed. Distract them, keep them moving after you. I’m going to unlock the armoury.” He hesitates a second. “If I am incapacitated, the code is 650114. It is your duty to get the explosives back to Captain Yates.”

He hesitates another second. This is hell of a first mission for anyone.

“Do not engage them. They’re far stronger than you are, just distract them and keep them too turned around to attack.”

“Yes, sir,” Williams answers after a moment, and if his voice isn’t very strong...well, he can hardly be blamed. Day one on the job, and he’s fighting super strong inhuman monsters.

Alistair takes a final second to lament that he’s going to be late home again, after faithfully promising Katie that he’d attend this evening’s hockey match. “Alright then, GO!”

They explode into the corridor screaming as though they are thrice the number. Anderson is right, the clones are slow. By the time they have fully straightened and turned to face the threat, Alistair is already halfway to his objective. He dodges the one that grabs for him and skids to a stop at the door of the armoury. He takes a moment to look behind him, and sees that Anderson and Williams have the clones well distracted. They’ve made a game out of running between them and slapping them between the shoulder blades. It’s working well, the clones are spinning between them, taking stumbling, shuffling steps, and they have all but ignored him. He slams the code into the keypad on the right of the door and it clicks as it opens.

He checks again, but the sounds, loud to his anxious ears, have gone ignored.

Alistair steps into the armoury, eyes running over the supplies on the shelves. He picks up the plastic explosive, neatly packaged in its safety container. He pockets a handful of detonators, and after a second of hesitation, a few grenades. He takes a moment to consider some of the heavier artillery, but he has injured in those hallways too. He won’t launch one of those under these conditions until he really has no other choice.

He has been inside the armoury a little over six seconds. He steps back out into the main hallway to prepare a sprint back the way he has come. He is gambling that these clones have been left here on guard and that once they have chased off their intruders, they won’t pursue them. He turns back to the fray just in time to watch one of the clones make a successful grab for Anderson, hand closing around his arm.

The Doctor had said they were unnaturally strong, but the sound as the bones in Anderson’s arm crunch together - more than a break, that was the sound of something fragmenting - is as loud as a gunshot. Anderson screams, high pitched and echoing and goes white to the lips. Alistair and Williams start forward in the same moment but, perhaps attracted by the noise, one of the other clones has come up behind Anderson and makes a grab for him too. This one jerks him away from his original captor.

Anderson’s second scream is choked off into a gurgle as his body tears like paper, literally pulled in half.

There is a shocked exclamation of horror; Alistair isn’t sure which one of them makes it. He steps up to his remaining Private and shoves him hard. “Come on, soldier, move.”

Williams takes a few stumbling steps, his eyes still glued to the macabre scene. “Run!” Alistair roars.

At the corner he stops, he pushes the box at Williams, who takes it with trembling hands. Alistair reaches into his pocket and pulls out one of the grenades. He pulls the pin and tosses it back towards the clones in the hallway. He regrets it, even as he does it. They might need these for the ones attacking, but he can’t not avenge one of his own.

He pushes Williams a few more steps forward, and the blast slams his teeth painfully together.

Williams is panting shallowly. Alistair stops beside him and softens his voice very slightly. “No time for that now, later...later we mourn them.”

Williams nods, and side by side they make their way back to the barricade being held by their comrades. They are only just in time, the doors are splintering, the barricade teetering. Some of the better marksmen are taking shots through the gaps that have now appeared. Yates is slumped against the wall, he looks barely conscious. He’s now accompanied by three Privates, and Alistair feels a pang of guilt that at least two of them must have been injured in the original assault. He should have noticed earlier. He assesses the situation in seconds and then sets some of them to laying charges. He might not have a self destruct button, but he can make them damn sorry for opening that door.

They finish with not a moment to spare, there’s a loud crunching noise and the left door is pulled away completely. They can now see the wall of approaching clones. There must be at least 100. Alistair dispenses the grenades he still has.

“Throw them over,” he orders, “let’s take out their back rank and force them to surge forward, take out as many as possible.”

The grenades fly, but despite hearing the resulting explosions, the mass of clones is too thick for Alistair actually to see if any fall. He hopes the Doctor is right about this. They don’t push forward either, still moving in their inexorable, ambling gait. The right hand door is pulled off and dropped underfoot. They are pressing against the barricade now. Not intelligent enough to try dismantling it, but the sheer weight of them will do it eventually.

“Hold,” Alistair orders. “When we detonate, we have five seconds to fall back to the laboratory.”

The centre of the structure creaks ominously.

“Someone get Captain Yates and the others ready to move.” Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Yates being hauled to his feet. He’s almost grey. “Take them now, we’ll see you there.”

Those left ready their weapons and detonators. ”Two more seconds,” Alistair says, as some chairs topple from the top of the barricade. They flinch back away from the splinters of wood. With a screech of wood on linoleum, the whole barricade slides a couple of inches towards them. A second wave of clones press in behind the first.

“Detonate,” Alistair orders, and once done, says, “fall back,” in the same even voice.

The doors to the Doctor’s laboratory swing shut just as the explosion rocks the whole building. His gizmo is whirring on the bench, letting out a high hum that makes Alistair feel as though his teeth are being drilled. The Doctor is on his knees in the middle of the floor looking over Yates and the other wounded. He’s murmuring quietly to Yates as he adjusts the bandage around his arm.

Alistair steps over to them and crouches down. “You going to live, Mike?”

Yates offers him a slight smile. “Probably, sir. I expect I’m going to regret that every time I reach for something for a while though.”

Alistair smiles back, and turns his own attention to the Private next to him with the injured leg.

“I’m fine too, sir,” the young Private says, though he sounds a bit watery.

Alistair casts a half glance at the Doctor who nods an affirmative and chews on his lip. “I thought there were more of you?”

“This is everyone on our side of the barricade. I’d like to get back out there and see who we can rescue. Never leave a man behind and all.”

“Quite.” The Doctor considers a moment. “The clones will leave them alone as long as they’re not attacking, and the Master doesn’t care about individual humans. The biggest danger is any injuries they might have that need tending to.”

“Yes. And unfortunately there’s a veritable army out there. That C4 will have got some of them but-”

“Oh yes, organic clones grow in a matter of days, the Master would have to be a fool not to ensure that he had numbers on his side.” The Doctor looks around. “Under the circumstances, I think we should fall back a little further.”

“To where?”

The Doctor stares at him the way he stares as Privates on the parade ground in incorrect uniform. “Where do you think, Brigadier? To the TARDIS, of course. I can’t fly her, but there’s plenty of space, and the medbay at least is fully equipped.”

More important even than that, the Brigadier knows from experience that not much which the Doctor wants to keep out can get through those doors. He doesn’t respond to the condescending tone. “Fine,” he stands, preparing to issue the order, and the main door to the lab opens.

Back to index

Chapter 5: 27th March, 2016, 12:19pm

Author's Notes: Kate finally arrives to see who has arrived at her base.

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described. This chapter also leans quite heavily on the Master's mind control abilities.

27th March, 2016, 12:19pm

“The Intruder Alert sounded,” Kate bursts into the old laboratory, “Osgood says the incursion took place in-” she trails off, eyes darting between Jo, Benton and the Master. Her gaze locks onto the TARDIS in the corner, and, almost against her will, her eyebrows arch slightly.

“Kate! Isn’t it wonderful?” Jo gasps. “The Doctor’s here. He’s come back.”

“The...Doctor?” Kate questions, she looks at Jo closely, searching for a hidden clue. She can’t read any message in her expression. Her face is open and happy, but her eyes are a little too wide, a little too bright.

“Yes, the Doctor.” Benton echoes.

His eyes are the same. Kate nods slowly, and then gives a smile of her own. “It’s wonderful to meet you, Doctor. Again.” She offers her hand.

“You have me at a disadvantage,” the man gives a pleasant smile. “You must have met a later version of myself. Kate, wasn’t it?” He brings her hand to his lips. “Enchante.”

It takes everything Kate has not to flinch or pull back, but she cannot tip their hand this early, she cannot risk being put under the Master’s hypnosis herself. Not while she doesn’t know why he’s here, and there has to be a reason for his theft of the Doctor’s TARDIS. Instead, she gives her most girlish giggle, the one that she really despises herself for having in her arsenal at all. “Dad always said you were charming...when it suited you.”

He eyes her narrowly for a moment and then the smile widens fractionally. “Miss Lethbridge-Stewart. Yes, I see the likeness.”

She’s gambling that he will enjoy having his old nemesis’ daughter giggling like a schoolgirl at his affected old school charm and won’t bother to put her under his control, not at the moment anyway. “Can we...Can I give you a tour, Doctor? The old place has changed since the last time you were here, and I know you’ll want to meet our new scientific advisor.”

He hesitates for a second, and Kate fights the urge to tense, but the files and psycho-analysis hold true. The Master cannot resist gloating and showing off his superiority and he cannot resist the opportunity to swan around the headquarters (that UNIT had once gone to a lot of trouble to keep him out of) as an honoured guest. “Of course. My mission can afford to wait a few more moments.”

The door opens once more, and Josh comes in behind them. “Ma’am, you didn’t report.”

“It’s alright, Josh,” Kate says with composure. “This is the Doctor, you can have the all clear sounded.”

Josh takes a step into the room. “The Doctor...wow!”

“Captain Carter,” and this time she puts a bite into her voice, “the all clear. And tell Osgood we have a guest.”

He snorts, “Oh, yes. Osgood won’t want to miss this.” He pulls out his radio and sounds the all clear, before moving back towards them. “It’s an honour, Doctor, truly.” Even Josh’s usual laconic expression is edging towards hero worship, Kate has to get him on his own long enough to ensure that he doesn’t fall into a trap. She makes a note to have all of UNIT’s old enemies regularly reviewed by everyone.

“We’re about to give the Doctor a tour, Josh. Perhaps you could show him around while I tell Osgood-”

“Oh, I won’t hear of it, Kate. I can’t wait to spend time with my old friend’s daughter. You must have plenty of stories about him.”

Oh, she does, and it’s her father’s voice she can hear in her mind now, cautioning her to keep her true feelings hidden until they can get the Master contained. She gives the high falsetto giggle again, and she sees Josh’s eyes cut briefly to her, but there’s no suspicion in them, only the wry amusement she had felt towards him a moment ago. “I can let Osgood know to expect you both, Ma’am.”

“Us all,” the Master corrects, putting an arm around Jo, “My companions will accompany us too.”

Kate looks at him closely for a moment. The Master is fearsomely clever, she has no intention of underestimating him, but there is nothing in his demeanor that suggests he does know that she isn’t as fooled as she’s pretending, and she does need to know why he’s here. “That would be helpful, Josh, thank you.” She wishes she could pass on a message. “And Josh?”

He turns in the doorway, insouciant smile back in place. “Yes, Ma’am?”

There’s absolutely nothing she can say that doesn’t risk giving the game away to the Master. “Tell Osgood to use her inhaler,” she jokes lightly instead.

Josh’s smile widens. “I’ll sit with her and keep her from getting too Osgood-y,” he promises.

It’s the best she can do, at least Josh is armed. She’d brought a weapon too, grabbing it after the alert sounded, and Osgood always has plenty of toys handy, even in a temporary workshop like the one she’d set up on the top floor.

Kate follows as Josh leaves, taking the lead, half a step ahead of the Master, and heading into a different part of the building. There’s little here of security value - well, there are plenty of paper reports, but she assumes the Master has easier ways of accessing those in a digital age. He’d actually been on site for half of these incidents anyway. She sees him looking around in interest. “This isn’t your primary Headquarters any longer.” It isn’t a question.

“No,” Kate weighs what she can and cannot risk giving away, “We’re based in London now. It’s lucky we were here at all really. This base is mostly used as a storage facility.”

“Kate just brought us in to look over some old records, Doctor. We’re going digital.”

It raises the hairs on the back of her neck at how normal Benton sounds. If she hadn’t recognised the Master, she would have no way of telling the difference. At best she might have scanned him and would have been taken in by his Timelord physiology anyway. She pushes that tendril of fear away as unproductive, she has recognised him and, of all the things that might still go wrong, at least that isn’t one of them.

The Master stops at one door, “The Brigadier’s old office.”

Kate hasn’t even been in there herself yet. “I-” She hears her dad again in her mind, voice soft and clear as he wiped a cut knee in the corner of a playground after being tripped by some childhood bullies: You’re fine, Katie, no need to cry and show that kind of weakness. She hasn’t thought of that in years, she had wanted nothing more than to sit on the ground and weep until he picked her up and held her, but that quiet statement and surety of her strength had given her the confidence to run straight back into the park and back to the swings. It works now too. “Would you like to see?” Her voice is perhaps a little tight, but steady.

The Master nods once, and Kate unlocks the door.

The office, like the Doctor’s laboratory, is untouched. The desk has a dust sheet on it, and the Master pulls it back in a move that raises a cloud of dust that fills the air with a musty smell of disuse.

Kate has a visceral sense memory of standing in this office as a little girl, bored and frustrated, but not allowed to go anywhere else because daddy’s work is top secret, I can’t have you just wandering around, you’ll have to be patient. Almost in a dream, she takes the few steps across the floor, shoes leaving imprints in the dust, and draws a finger down the old rotary telephone, the only thing left on the desk. She remembers him talking into it, irritably waving at her to sit down and get her homework out while he gave reports and instructions. Then she blinks the memory away, she has a situation of her own. This is no time for nostalgia, she can indulge herself later.

When she looks up, the Master is sitting in the chair behind the desk.

Kate swallows down both her first and second comments, even though what she wants to do is grab him by the lapels of his suit for daring to sit in that chair, as though he would ever be accepted as UNIT’s commander in chief. He runs a hand consideringly over the polished wood of the desk and Kate abruptly knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that if whatever plan it is that he has comes to fruition, this is the place he will use as a base. At least initially. She will not allow that to happen, whatever she has to do.

It’s actually Jo who speaks, “Doctor!” she sounds scandalised, “You can’t sit there! That’s the Brig’s chair.”

“She’s right you know, Doctor,” Benton chips in.

It crosses Kate’s mind that he’s much quieter than Jo - normal, but even so - and to wonder if his old UNIT training against telepathic control is fighting the Master. If so, he might be an asset later, if she can shake the Master’s concentration.

A flicker of cold rage crosses the Master’s rage, but he stands smoothly. “You’re right of course, my dear.”

“Where next, Doctor?” Kate asks, rage making her voice hoarse. “We’re a bit of a skeleton staff, just here for administration, but I can run to some cheese sandwiches and a cup of tea.”

“Kind, but no thank you, I’m here for business not pleasure, Kate,”

Kate decides that really really hates the way he uses her first name, as though they’re friends. The Doctor, the real Doctor, virtually never does that (occasionally, and only when he wants to really make an impression on her). He always treats her like a professional. She’s quite glad that she doesn’t have to sit opposite him and make polite small talk over tea.

“No, you mentioned a scientific advisor. We should speak to him.”

“Her!” Jo chirps up cheerfully. “You’ll like Osgood, Doctor, she’s just marvellous.”

Kate’s heart constricts in her chest. Osgood is their best chance of taking out a Timelord, but she’s also inexperienced at undercover, and is anything but military. She doesn’t think the right way to deal with a mind like the Master’s. She’s too nice. The Master - Missy - had been able to kill one of her Zygon doubles, and Kate doesn’t want to lose her Osgood.

She hates losing her people.

But despite all of that, despite the risks, she needs Osgood. She smiles a bit tightly and leads the Master towards the stairs. She pauses at the fire doors, and puts her hand on the wall, brow furrowing.

“Something wrong, Kate?” Benton asks.

“These cracks and scorch marks. There was some kind of explosion here, but I’ve definitely never read anything in the files. This building was never breached.”

Benton steps up beside her and looks the marks over. “Are you sure? This isn’t recent. I’d say this must be about 50 years old.”

Kate fights the impulse to look at the Master, but he speaks anyway. “The timeline is in flux. This must be damage done in the time I’ve left. I must speak to your scientific advisor, it is imperative that we prevent too much damage from being done. A battle here or there makes no real difference, but if UNIT were to fall or someone to die long before they were supposed to, well…”

He does a very credible impression of concern, and even knowing what she knows, Kate can’t deny that her instinct is to help him. If her dad dies in the past, she’ll never have a chance to reconcile with him, to learn about his life’s work, and even putting personal considerations aside, he had saved the world so many times. Earth needs him as much as she does.

She takes her hand off the wall, “This way.” Her steps echo in the stairwell. “What is it that you’re fighting in the past?” She doesn’t ask about her dad, no need to show that kind of weakness.

“A terrible menace.” He shakes his head. “A clone army has taken over this Headquarters. There is no way out. I left the Brigadier to fight and came here.”

Kate can feel him watching her and this time lets him see her flinch. He needs to believe that she trusts him for her next question, and she can think of no better proof of that than a display of her fear. His eyes feel as though they are peeling her skin off. “Why?” she asks dryly. “What do you need here?”

“I’m not entirely sure you’d understand, my dear, and I don’t have time to explain twice.”

She bristles a little at that.

“Don’t be rude, Doctor. Kate’s a scientist too,” Jo objects.

The Master looks at her curiously. “A scientist?”

They’re at the attic door of Osgood’s workshop now, saving her from being forced to answer. Kate pauses for just one more second and breathes out a quick prayer, then she pushes it open.

“Osgood,” she strides in, projecting as much confidence and command as she can manage. “The Doctor’s here; he has a crucial task for us.”

Osgood bounces forward, her familiar enthusiasm and smiles in place. “You! But-!”

“Inhaler!” Kate snaps, cutting off the definite wheeze in her voice.

Osgood instinctively obeys the order and cuts herself off to breath from the small blue inhaler. Her eyes seek Kate’s, looking for what Kate had seen in Jo, she supposes. Kate stares back at her and wills Osgood to be as brilliant as she knows she can be.

“Doctor,” Osgood coughs a little and puts the inhaler back in her pocket. “It’s amazing to meet you,” she sounds a little stilted, but her smile hasn’t wavered. “I’m such a fan,” she continues, “You’re, well, you’re wonderful.”

“I’m flattered, my dear,” the Master looks around the workshop curiously. “An advanced setup you have here, even if it is a little sparse.”

“Oh, yes. This isn’t my main workspace, we’re based in the Tower of London, normally.”

“The Tower?”

“Oh, umm. No. Actually, no. Not the real Tower. It’s our...codename for the Headquarters, you know what soldiers are like.”

There’s something predatory in the Master’s expression, and Kate tenses, but he just pulls up one of the chairs, crosses one leg over the other, and says, “Perhaps I should explain my purpose here.”

Kate moves to stand next to Osgood, facing him, and Jo draws close to the Master’s side, ever the loyal companion. Kate hopes she can get her out of the way when the time comes.

“I’ve done a sweep, Ma’am,” Josh appears from the back of the room, “It seems that the Doctor is our only guest.” He turns his attention to the Master, “Whatever you’re fighting back then, you’ve escaped it for the moment,” he says earnestly.

“And perhaps while you explain, Mr Benton would get us all some tea,” Kate says.

Before he can object, Benton has already turned. “No problem, Ma’am,” he says, reverting to old military instincts as the tension sharpens, “I remember where the kitchens are.”

Kate congratulates herself on getting one hostage out of the room. “Perhaps you should help him, Josh,” she pushes her luck and hopes the Master won’t object.

Josh falters slightly, “You want me to make the tea?”

“Was I unclear, Captain? I am capable of listening to a military briefing alone, you know.”

Josh’s expression goes blank, but he salutes and follows Benton without another word.

“And now perhaps we can get on,” the Master sounds impatient.

“Of course.” Kate answers. “Tell us what you need us to do.”

“I assume you kept all the technology that was left here when this base was abandoned?”

“The base wasn’t abandoned,” Kate starts, but as she says it, she feels doubt. She’s read the reports, this place was abandoned in ‘78 after the massacre that killed all the staff, she knows that.

Osgood looks at her.

Kate clings to the thought that they must allow the Master to believe that he has won, it’s the only way to get the information they need, whatever her own uncertainties. She squeezes Osgood’s hand in the dash dot dash dash beats of a morse code Y.

“Of course, Doctor.” If you know her well you can hear the strain and fear in her voice, but Kate doesn’t think the Master will be able to tell. She gestures to a rack of shelves at the back. “They’re all boxed and labelled.”

“Thank you,” the Master stands again, and makes his way to the shelves.

“What do you need?” Osgood asks, “Maybe I can help. I’ve been through most of it.”

“There should be a teletropic scanner.”

“A...A what?”

“A device,” he measures a distance with his hands, “about this high, made mostly of junk and,” his lip curls slightly, “taped together.”

This time Osgood doesn’t look over her shoulder at Kate, she edges a bit near to the Master. Kate is feeling that grey fog at the edge of her brain once more.

“There’s something like that in that one,” she points to a middle box on the top shelf and the Master pulls it down and looks into it for a moment.

Then he abruptly looks up from the box he’s peering into and gives her a vicious smile. “Are you feeling it?”

“Feeling...feeling what?” Kate gasps, fighting to keep her composure. No need to show that kind of weakness.

“The timelines are changing around you. Your whole life is about to be different.”

The memory of being a fourteen year old stood at her dad’s graveside slams into her. He’d disappeared, the grave had been empty, there was never anything in it, and she’d never known what had happened to him. “No,” she moans, “no, stop.”

The Master pulls a collection of seeming junk out of the box. “The Doctor’s teletropic scanner, if I could trouble you for a screwdriver, my dear?”

Osgood is flickering in and out of reality like some kind of ghost. Kate staggers over to her and makes a grab for her partially translucent form.

“Come now, Miss...Osgood, wasn’t it. Before you cease to exist, or at least, exist in this place at this time. A screwdriver.”

“Doctor, help her!” Jo cries out, panic in her voice.

“Now. I think the time for that charade has passed, everyone here knows who I am. I am the Master,” and he turns the machine in his hand on.

Back to index

Chapter 6: 17th October, 1978, 11:21am

Author's Notes: The Master explains (some of) his plan.

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

17th October, 1978, 11:21am

Those soldiers still standing point their guns at the man who walks in. The Master doesn’t look in the slightest bit bothered.

“Tell your soldiers to lower arms,” he says, sounding bored.

The Doctor stands slowly, and makes a point of peering around the Master. “You seem to be unaccompanied.”

“Oh, my clones have taken your base. Their last order was to overrun you. If you kill me, there will be no one to countermand that.” He smiles, smug and sure of himself.

Alistair flicks half a glance the Doctor’s way; the Doctor doesn’t take his eyes off the Master, scowling fiercely. There is a long, drawn out silence.

The Master takes a couple more steps into the room and looks down at the wounded. “Dear me, Captain Yates, you don’t look at all well. I hope this stalemate doesn’t drag on too long.”

Alistair knows well that he cannot allow concern for one of his men to override the security of the nation, but, for the moment at least, the Master does appear to have all the cards and he won’t be protecting the country with pointless posturing either. “Very well,” he says after another moment, “at ease.”

The soldiers around them begrudgingly relax.

The Doctor still hasn’t taken his eyes off the Master. “What do you want?” he demands.

The Master’s smile brightens, and Alistair sees the shiver of tension that runs down the Doctor’s spine. He shares it. That expression has never exactly heralded anything good.

“My dear Doctor, are you telling me that you don’t know?” he taunts.

The Doctor’s expression tightens for a fraction of a second, then he deliberately relaxes and smiles himself. “Oh, I know that you’ve been sending clones rampaging around the Home Counties, and if you think that base you’ve set up in the Chislehurst caves is a secret, you’re sadly mistaken. What I don’t know is why you’ve decided that marching into the most highly defended military base on the planet is a good idea.”

“Was it defended?” the Master asks with deadly politeness. “I hadn’t noticed.”

This time it is Alistair who feels his face freeze with an effort not to give anything away. His heart is pounding, impotent fury dumping more and more adrenaline into his bloodstream. The Master’s gaze is riveted on the Doctor, just as the Doctor’s are on him.

Alistair risks a step forward, if they can take the Master hostage…

“Don’t move Brigadier,” he’s suddenly holding the silver device Alistair has seen in action too many times, and with a grimace he stops.

“I thought you were about to gloat about your success, Master,” the Doctor snaps, and the Master swings his attention back to him.

“Gloat, Doctor? Surely not.”

The Doctor’s teeth grind audibly together.

“Perhaps I just wanted my own military base,” he continues in the same insufferable tone.

“What are you doing in those caves? There’s nothing down there that can interest you.”

There’s another silence. “Very well, I will make you a deal, Doctor. I will explain my terrible plan for you - in small words if you need me to,” the Doctor’s teeth squeak together again, “and I’ll let the Brigadier here collect his injured. All I ask for is your TARDIS.”

“My-” the Doctor looks behind him almost reflexively at the police box in the corner before spinning his attention back to the Master. “It doesn’t work, as well you know.”

The Master gives his shark-like smile again. “It will work for me, Doctor. It is your mind that is flawed, not your TARDIS.”

The Doctor doesn’t answer.

“Come now, Doctor. You must see that you have no choice. If I must, I can simply wait until my clones destroy you all and then help myself to the key.”

“Oh, very well.”

“The key then, Doctor. If you please.”

The Doctor’s scowl is back in full force. “I think not. Your explanation first.”

The Master pauses. “I will let you collect the injured, as a gesture of good faith. But I want the key, Doctor. You will simply have to trust me.”

The Doctor gives a long, slow blink, and nods jerkily. He pulls a key out of the inside pocket of his jacket, and throws it petulantly to the floor.

The Master’s expression turns vicious, enjoying the capitulation, but he stoops to pick up the key, twirling it between long leather clad fingers as he closes his eyes, putting his hands to his temples. His brow furrows as though he is concentrating hard and after a moment he says, “Very well, Brigadier, your stretcher parties may pass safely.”

“How are you doing that?” the Doctor demands sharply.

“Now, Doctor, I offered to tell you my plan, not disclose all my secrets.”

The Doctor’s mouth pulls but he subsides.

“Brigadier?” the Master gestures courteously towards the door, as though he has the right to allow anything in Alistair’s own headquarters.

Alistair’s lips thin, and he longs to go himself, but he knows this is where the real danger is. “Steele,” he orders the nearest Private, and one he’d noticed had been calm under fire, “you’re temporarily in charge. Take the men, take everyone you can find and-” the Master shakes his head. The Brigadier has never wanted to punch anyone so much in his entire life. “Bring anyone you can find back here.”

Steele looks between his commander and the Master. “Yes, sir,” he answers, and Alistair hopes he has enough initiative to see if there is a way to get out of the building without getting anyone else hurt.

“Well?” the Doctor demands as the soldiers hurry out.

For a moment the Master looks as though he is considering milking the moment, and Alistair fingers the butt of his revolver once more, but then he shrugs fluidly. “Very well, Doctor, my nefarious plan.” He moves deeper into the laboratory, walking over to the workbench, where he picks up a couple of items and makes a show of examining them. “You’ve been impressed with my clones, I take it?”

Alistair starts to say something, but the Doctor clamps a hand down hard on his arm, and he falls silent.

“Oh, yes,” he says casually, moving up to the Master and taking whatever it is he’s fiddling with out of his hands, “very impressive. Organic clones of course are terribly difficult to create,” he adds as an aside to Alistair, his tone making it clear the exact opposite is true, “only the very cleverest of scientists can make such complex creations.”

“Mock if you must, Doctor, but I have been refining the formula. My organic clones are stronger and more resilient than any other others of their type, and I have been creating something new.”

The Doctor’s expression sharpens, “Something new?”

The Master puts his hands flat on the workbench and leans in. Alistair takes advantage of his distraction to begin edging behind him. “Yes, Doctor. Using the techniques of the organic clone replicator, I have created an amorphous mass.”

“An amorphous mass? Whatever for? That’s nothing but a blob.”

“Is this a teletropic scanner?” the Master peers closely at the contraption the Doctor had been fiddling with earlier. “This is really most ingenious, Doctor, my compliments.”

“Thank you. Now tell me about this amorphous mass.”

“Oh, well, as you say, Doctor, a blob is most accurate. It will roll across the world, absorbing anything in its wake. It can’t be stopped by bullets, heat, cold….In fact, it’s quite unstoppable, Doctor. Even if the humans manage to blow it up, all they’ll get for their trouble is smaller masses. And it grows, Doctor, with each absorption. It should only need to absorb say 10% of all human habitation and it’ll be so large that it will start exerting a gravitational field of its own.”

Alistair takes another step towards the Master’s unprotected back. He’s holding his breath with the desire not to be heard.

“But why do such a thing?” the Doctor gestures wildly.

“Why not, Doctor? I am tired of this petty planet and the humans you love so much. Nothing here has convinced me they are a worthy species.”

The Doctor looks horrified, “And for that you destroy them?”

“Not necessarily. I have a way to end the destruction if humanity would rather give me the planet instead. In either case, not quite yet. That’s why I need your TARDIS, you see, it’ll take my amorphous mass about, oh, 40 years to grow, and I have no intention of waiting here that long.”

Back to index

Chapter 7: 27th March, 2016, 1:02pm

Author's Notes: Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don’t need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

27th March, 2016, 1:02pm

The world tilts sickeningly around her, and Kate is abruptly remembering the same events in two different ways.

Her dad’s funeral - Jo Grant collecting her from a rainy school hockey field and doing her best not to answer her questions until they had official word, but bursting into random floods of tears. And the day itself, mourners in blak and her mother forcing her into an overstretched dress that had itched.

And her dad guiding her through the shark tank that is Whitehall, being at her graduation, teaching her to shoot just after she turned twenty. His funeral, a state affair, filled with the great and good and interminable speeches, but she had grieved privately with her stepmother back at the house, and she had been gratified with the number of people who had come to her with quiet condolences and remembrances.

Her school friends not knowing what to say to her, they were only Third Years, it was the first time death had touched any of them. Sitting pale and silent in disused classrooms because silence alone was expected, silence in the company of others was painful.

But she had come into work the day after the funeral, a sombre suit and a pale face, but no one had known and no one had asked. She’d buried her mourning in the paperwork generated by minor skyfall events, and had made a point of completing the handful of tasks that her dad had still intended to wrap up.

She’d heard about UNIT and their work from Jo Grant and John Benton, who had been furious by how they perceived her mother’s lack of respect. She just kept repeating that he told her it was a desk job, and how could he possibly have been blown up by terrorists. She’d been young enough to not quite have finished looking at her dad with hero worship, she’d known he wouldn’t have lied to them without reason; known that it couldn’t have been a careless accident. She’d been seventeen when Jo had, once again, turned up at her school (and her heart sank just at the sight of her, the image of Jo waiting for her a deeply rooted memory of grief and tragedy) and taken her for food and told her everything. She’d brought Benton and proof. Kate had made the decision of the direction her life had taken that day.

So then...where does the canal boat in which she’d lived with Gordy fit? They’d been there for two years. An angry, stubborn, prideful expression of the rage she’d carried since her parents divorced when she was fifteen. Like her mother, she’d been hurt at the string of absences and broken promises, left in her father’s wake; but she hadn’t been willing to listen to the bile coming from her either. Dad put his work first, second and third, and they were lucky to make the list at all, but he wasn’t bad or cruel. She’d known that her mother would be furious at the unexpected pregnancy, so she’d stopped going home and she hadn’t spoken to her father in years. No one had known. She knows now that they would both have helped her, but at the time she had been equal parts afraid they wouldn’t and unwilling to accept help when they’d hurt her in the past. She’d finished her undergraduate degree, bullied the father into babysitting Gordy during her graduation - the last time she’d seen him - then started renting the canal boat, supporting them with freelance journalism for some science magazines.

UNIT was her life, the only thing that mattered. She’d been through and through the records, and they still didn’t know what had happened at the old Priory the day of the explosion, only that it had cost them a whole platoon of young soldiers and Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart. She believes, as do her closest friends, Jo and John Benton, that it also cost them UNIT’s elusive scientific advisor. After all, in the years since, the Earth has been ravaged by alien attacks, the dalek wars, the Sycorraxian abductions…

UNIT was her life and she worries sometimes that she has become her father, putting work front and centre. Her boys say they understand, but she wonders if they ever can, really. They know she does something important in the government but don’t - officially - know exactly what. Every now and again, when something truly weird crops up that can’t be hidden by some memory altering drugs in the water supply: the ghosts, the spaceship crashing into Big Ben, the Christmas Star, that truly odd thing with the moon...They know that’s when her hours are longest. They ask pointed questions sometimes, and they have long since stopped berating her for the Christmasses missed. She has actively blocked Torchwood from recruiting both of them, and worries that it isn’t enough to keep them safe.

Kate forces air into a too tight chest. She’s on her knees gasping, Jo is next to her, unconscious, and Osgood some paces forward, She must have grabbed for the machine at the last minute. Her breath is worryingly unsteady, Kate rarely hears her wheezing so badly.

“What are you doing?” she demands furiously of the Master.

The Master turns to look at her, and raises an eyebrow. “Are you still here?”

“Oh, I’m not going anywhere,” Kate spits in fury. She needs to move, she needs to do something.

Step one, she needs to be nearer to the Master to stop whatever he’s doing with that machine. Waves of disjointed, sickening memory are still crashing over her: joy, outrage, grief, deaths, births, successes, wars. She doubts she can stand for any real length of time.

She crawls over to Jo first, taking her pulse, slow but steady, and then a pace further forward to Osgood’s side and runs a hand through her friend’s hair.

“Kate,” Osgood whimpers, “Hurts.”

Kate digs into her pocket and pulls out Osgood’s inhaler herself, putting it to her lips.

“Come on,” she says to Osgood, and then repeats herself, snarling up at the Master, “Come on, isn’t explaining why I’m going to lose the part you most enjoy?”

He hums and places the machine on the shelf where the box it used to be in stood. “Do you really think knowing what I’m going to do will help you? Will you even understand it?”

Kate staggers unsteadily to her feet. “If it won’t help me anyway, why deny yourself the pleasure?”

He looks her full in the face, malice in every part of his smile now. “Kate, my dear, you don’t look well.”

It’s the best chance she’s going to get, he’s facing her fully, distracted, and for the moment at least, she’s standing. She lunges. The Master steps back, neatly avoiding her, but he isn’t what she’s aiming for. Gracelessly, mind reeling, she staggers past him and crashes into the shelving unit.

“You idiot child!” the Master shouts.

Kate’s vision is blurring. The room appearing in two different ways simultaneously - she’d made this place her headquarters when she’d taken command to respect their fallen/she hasn’t been here in years, it’s an obsolete storage facility - but she doesn’t need precision. Desperately, she sweeps everything from the shelves to the floor. The delicate looking contraption of the Master’s falls and shatters into fragments.

The world snaps back into a shape that Kate recognises. She’s Kate Stewart, commander of UNIT and leading them in a more scientific direction, her dad didn’t die until a few years ago, the Doctor is still somewhere in the stars.

Osgood is still wheezing on the floor, but her breathing abruptly loses the sobbing panicked edge.

Before Kate can say or do anything else, the Master is on her. He pushes her back against the wall, murderous fury radiating from him. She gasps as she slams into the shelves.

“You stupid little girl,” he snarls at her.

Kate smirks up at him, refusing to allow herself to feel small. “My apologies Master, was that important?”

She is absolutely certain he’s about to rip her apart, but instead he lets go of her. “No, nothing but a minor delay, Miss Lethbridge-Stewart, you haven’t changed anything,” he says tightly, veneer of propriety back in place.

Not Kate anymore, she notes, even if he is getting her name wrong. She must have gotten under his skin. Kate decides to call that a victory. She doesn’t correct him and instead allows herself to look away from him for a moment to check in on Osgood. She’s rolled over onto her side, propping herself on one elbow and breathing deeply. She focuses her attention back on the Master. He’s between her and the door. “What have I delayed?”

“You still think you can stop me?”

“I think it would be sporting to let me try.”

Surprisingly, the Master smiles. “You’re very like your father, you know. He was always outraged when he felt I was being unfair. What neither of you seems to appreciate is that I don’t care at all about being fair.

Osgood makes it back to her own feet. “You needed the teletropic scanner for something,” she says shakily. “I never knew what it was, but it obviously picks up some kind of control signal. It was always inconsistent in tests but...teletropic...does it pick up psionic energy?”

The Master glances over his shoulder at her, and gives her an appraising look. “Very good...for a human. Yes, the Doctor thought this would be able to pinpoint my location during our final fight.”

“But he was wrong,” Osgood gives her bright, if uncertain, smile, “All the files agree that you’re far more intelligent than the Doctor, he’s just...creative and unpredictable. I’ve always wanted to meet you, you could teach us so much, and I doubt you care much if we’re not ready. You’d be willing to let us make our own mistakes.” Osgood steps closer to him, smiling up admiringly at the Master’s bearded countenance.

Kate is absolutely flabbergasted, she’s never seen Osgood flirt before - unless whatever she and Josh have going on can be construed as flirting - and it’s frankly downright unsettling.

The Master however, doesn’t seem to sense anything, instead he is smiling back at her. “That’s very flattering, my dear. Usually, it’s the Doctor that Earth girls fawn over.” He gestures vaguely back at Jo’s unconscious form.

Pssshhhhh, him. No. Not at all. I mean he’s...the Doctor. But you. You’re…”

“The Master.”

“I- Yes. The Master.” Unease flickers across Osgood’s face, and Kate wishes she could see the Master’s expression.

Her own dizziness has now passed so she launches herself at the Master once more. “Osgood, run!”

Osgood gives her a terrified half look and then spins for the door, which opens into her face, taking her to the floor as Josh comes in. He doesn’t have any tea. “Ma’am, something’s happening downstairs, some sort of-”

“Yes, Josh, we know. It’s-”

“Doctor, is that why you’re here?”

The Master is now holding a small silver device in his hand. Osgood freezes, and Kate’s teeth squeeze together. She isn’t near enough to stop him, and the Master has always had a dangerously ready trigger finger. She opens her mouth, though she isn’t exactly sure what she’s about to say.

Josh bounces forward, actually elbowing Osgood out of his way in his enthusiasm. The hero worship is shining back in his eyes. “Is that the sonic screwdriver, for real?” He reaches out as though he’s going to grab for it, the Master pulls back, but not far enough. Josh had been going for his wrist.

A second later, and the Master is quite firmly in an armlock, Osgood is holding the tissue compression eliminator, and examining it closely. “I’ve always wanted to do experiments with this,” she says cheerfully.

“Josh?” Kate gasps in shock.

He rolls his eyes, and manhandles the Master over to the chair in the corner of the room. “I do listen to the briefings you know. And Osgood talks about the Doctor often enough, I do actually know what he looks like. This isn’t him.”

“No, it’s-”

“The Master,” Josh says with another roll of his eyes. “There’s no way you’d send me out to get tea unless it was someone that might take control of me.”

There’s a clattering on the stairs. “And that will be the backup I rallied.”

Kate composes herself, just in time for Benton and, pretty much everyone else that’s in the building, to come through the door. “Well done, Captain Carter.”

Josh still doesn’t look mollified. “I can’t believe you’d think I wouldn’t know the difference.”

“This is fascinating, but if you could either explain what you want from me, or let me go,” the Master begins. Josh jerks his arm higher and he falls silent with a hiss.

“Josh,” Kate admonishes.

“UNIT didn’t used to hire thugs,” the Master says silkily.

“Just...tie him up,” Kate says.

“Do you really think you can keep me here?” he sounds outraged.

Josh drags him to the chair, as, with a groan, Jo begins sitting up. Osgood and Benton hurry to her side.

“What...what happened? I remember-” suddenly she sits bolt upright, “Something was happening to time. He turned that machine on and time started to...go wrong.”

The Master laughs, a low rich sound that makes Kate’s skin crawl. “Not going wrong, Miss Grant-”

“Mrs Jones.”

The Master inclines his head and courteously corrects himself, “Mrs Jones. I am a Timelord after all. I was in full control. Oh, no. That was your history changing.”

One of the soldiers brings in another chair, Kate smiles at him and sits in it, settling opposite the Master. “Well then, you’d better tell us how and why.”

The Master glares at her.

“Now, please.”

Back to index

Chapter 8: 17th October, 1978, 11:47am

Author's Notes: In 1978, the Master is winning

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish’s UNIT: The New Series, although you don’t need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

17th October, 1978, 11:47am

The Doctor sputters in outage. “My TARDIS! What’s wrong with your own?”

“Oh, nothing. It’s quite secure, but much simpler to take yours. You’re about to have no further need for it.”

The Doctor’s scowl intensifies.

“And, of course, it means that you have no means of escape, so I am afraid this is goodbye, Doctor, Brigadier.” Alistair freezes once more as the Master gives him a small glance.

“Escape from what? Your organic clones? They’ll fail as soon as you’re no longer in this time stream! And your mass? We know exactly where it is, we’ll deal with it as soon as we leave here and you’ll be 40 years in the future with nothing but a second hand TARDIS to show for your trouble.”

Yates, the only conscious one of the men still left, drags himself to sitting, but with a grimace isn’t able to get any further.

The Master cackles, and Alistair takes another small step forward. He’s almost near enough to strike now. “I think not, Doctor. I have a remote relay, that will keep my hold on the clones for long enough to deal with you; you have no outside communications.” He smiles wickedly above his goatee. Then reaches out and sweeps everything off the Doctor’s workbench. The high pitched sound coming from the Doctor’s device abruptly stops as it shatters.

The Doctor looks from the pieces on the floor, to the Master’s face with unbridled rage and dismay.

“My apologies, Doctor,” the Master says in his smooth mocking voice, “Was that intended to keep you safe from my clones? No more, I’m afraid. I will arrive just as my mass is ready to be directed to the nearest population centre, and you will be dead. Still, with a bit of luck, your teletropic scanner will still be here, Doctor. A quick reversal of the polarity and I’ll be able to use it to call the mass remotely. As soon as I land, my attack will be all but instantaneous.”

Alistair takes his final step forward and strikes at the Master’s skull with the butt of his pistol. It’s a powerful blow that should take the Master to the ground, but he turns, quick as a snake, and grabs Alistair’s wrist, squeezing hard until he drops the revolver. The Doctor too springs forward, using one of his Venusian aikido moves, but the Master swings Alistair back into him and they both go stumbling back.

The Master gathers himself, readying both his own weapon and Alistair’s lost gun. “Any more foolish stunts?” he asks coldly. He skips sideways as Yates grabs for his ankle, attempting to his feet from underneath him. He kicks out sharply and Yates subsides with a soft grunt of pain.

The Doctor’s throat bobs in a long, slow swallow. “Let these men go,” he demands. “You don’t need to kill them all. It’s nothing but a foolish waste of life.”

The Master looks disgusted. “I have no intention of leaving a force in the past to work against me, Doctor,” he says irritably. “Besides, all it would buy them is a few years, the world will be ending in just a few scant decades from now.”

“Master,” the Doctor says in his very best I-am-being-reasonable voice, “destroying a planet is both cruel and pointless, and we both know it will do nothing but bring the Timelords down on your head.”

The Master shrugs. “The Timelords care for this planet even less than I do. Besides, an organic amorphous mass...far too low tech for Gallifrey to care. I’m not even interfering with the timelines, just...taking a short cut.”

“Master,” the Doctor appeals one more time.

The Master cuts him off. “Tell me, Brigadier, where does your family live? Do you think they’ll still be there in 40 years, maybe that’s where I’ll start.”

Alistair takes a single furious step forwards, and the Doctor grabs his jacket and pulls him back. He doesn’t say anything, he is still trained on the Master, quivering with rage. Alistair can feel the tension and fury running through his body.

At that moment, the door to the laboratory opens, and Steele comes back in with the rest of the squad. They are now carrying unconscious bodies, or helping those (just about) able to be on their feet. There is a pitifully small number of them.

“Is this everyone?” he asks, doing his best to keep the distress from his voice.

Steele looks back at him. He is almost grey and seems to have aged a decade in the last few minutes. “Everyone alive. There are plenty of corpses and...and parts.”

“Look at them,” the Doctor gestures furiously, “They can’t possibly do you any harm. Let them go.”

The Master hums thoughtfully. “No, I don’t think so, Doctor.”

He turns to open the TARDIS door.

“Stop him!” the Doctor roars, and Alistair and half a dozen of the least injured recruits leap forward, but, framed in the doorway, they can’t flank the Master and he is able to hold his own for the few seconds it takes for the main door to burst open against the outside pressure of the clones.

The Doctor looks back at them as they advance.

“So sorry, Doctor, but they have orders to tear you apart and then destroy this place completely. I hope you understand. The time has come for our final au revoir.” He slams the TARDIS door shut.

“Master! Don’t you dare!” the Doctor shouts, and from behind the blue doors they hear his high pitched laugh, then the engines of the TARDIS whir to life and cover it.

The Doctor can only stand in horror and outrage and look at his TARDIS as it flickers and disappears. Alistair puts a hand on his shoulder and is angrily shaken off, but he doesn’t have time to keep comforting the Doctor; the clones are advancing, a faceless and terrifying horde. He knows that they destroyed some dozens with the explosive in the corridors, but it doesn't seem to have made any difference.

He barks at the men to fall back.

The Doctor finally takes an interest in what is going on, and rushes back to his bench.

“Doctor, how do we stop them?” Alistair demands.

The Doctor looks at the fragments of his teletropic scanner on the floor, and the other bits and pieces scattered across the workbench, and he swaps a look with Alistair that tells him just how hopeless the situation is. Alistair grimaces back, and turns back to the troops, dirty, bloodstained and wide eyed as they wait for orders. They look painfully young. He thinks once again of the hockey match he will never arrive at.

“Alright,” he says calmly, “the important thing is that one of us gets out to pass the message on. The Master has something growing in the Chislehurst caves, it must be found and destroyed before he has a chance to deploy it. If you see a chance to run, you go for it. The fate of the country could be at stake.” He stoops and takes a gun from one of the fallen, the Master having taken his.

As one they back up, the wall of clones advancing with their sinister, shambling steps, hemming them in. The Doctor is still frantically playing with the equipment on his table.

“If you’re preparing a last minute miracle, Doctor, now would be the time.”

“I’m working on it,” he snaps, but Alistair can tell he doesn’t hold out much hope.

He fires once, and it hits the lead clone centrally, but, as before, has no effect. “Remember,” he says steadily, “the aim is for at least one person to escape.”

Back to index

Chapter 9: 27th March, 2016, 1:34pm

Author's Notes: Kate does her best to regain control of the situation, but will she be in time?

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don't need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

Sorry about the delay in this chapter, I've had a log few weeks at work, but this isn't abandoned.

27th March, 2016, 1:34pm

“How will you know I’m telling the truth?” the Master asks, sounding genuinely curious. “Really, Miss Lethbridge-Stewart, surely you know you have to do better than that?”

Kate smooths the folds out of her trousers, “It’s just Ms Stewart, actually.” She looks over her shoulder to Osgood, who comes forward at the unspoken command, patting Jo’s arm once more.

She digs through the detritus in the back of her bench, and comes forward with a small grey aerosol canister. “This is a truth enhancer.”

The Master’s expression goes through a number of fluctuations. “That won’t work on me.”

“Are you sure? Let’s try it shall we.”

The Master shies back as Osgood approaches. “You have no idea how it will react to Timelord physiology,” the Master points out. “It might poison me.”

Osgood falters, and Jo makes an unsteady way forward and looks at him critically. Her face is troubled. “Kate, something terrible is happening in the past,” she says quietly.

Kate can feel it too, something nagging vaguely at the back of her mind. The images that had assaulted her when the Master put on his machine have faded a little, but the image of her father’s funeral still stands out starkly. Jo’s face is similarly pale and drawn. “Alright, Osgood, hold on a moment. Captain Carter?”

“Yes, Ma’am?”

“Do you feel...normal?”

Josh looks surprised, “Shouldn’t I?”

“Ms Jones and I both feel...odd.”

“I am having a really terrible thought,” Osgood says.

“Which is?”

She turns back to the Master. “That machine you turned on. The Doctor was using it to detect psionic energy. But you were doing something else.”

The Master smiles back at her, “Very good. What else?”

Osgood’s steady gaze turns inwards, the way it does when she is thinking hard. “Well, the easiest thing would be to make it an amplifier. So...sometime in the past, you were using enough mental control that the Doctor thought he could detect it with that. And, if we assume you were using it just then to amplify the same mental control, that’s when our timeline started disintegrating, well, really fast.” She takes another breath of the inhaler.

“The point, Osgood,” Kate presses.

“I think he was calling something. Something he’d otherwise have to go and find. That’s why, when he was calling it, the disintegration sped up, and the reason you and J- Mrs Jones still feel strange, and Josh and I don’t, is because you were alive at the time where this disintegration starts. You can feel the effects of it, even though they haven’t been increased yet, but it’s stopped catching up with us. For the moment, anyway.”

“That makes sense, you know,” Jo agrees. “He recognised me when he arrived. And he’s the Master that we used to face, weekly it seemed sometimes.”

“Alright. Josh, Osgood, watch him.”

Kate moves to the back of the room. “Mr Benton, come and join us for a moment.” Benton moves to join them, and Kate hastily recaps Osgood’s theory.

“Now you mention it, Ma’am, I do feel a bit strange,” Benton agrees, “almost like I’m remembering...something.”

“Remembering what?” Kate asks, putting the bite of command behind her voice.

“Oh, I don’t know...something bad. I feel...it’s more a feeling than pictures, just...something terrible that happened, and guilt that it didn’t happen to me.”

The sense of forbidding in the back of Kate’s mind increases, “And you?” she asks Jo, with a hint of urgency.

“I...I don’t...did I ever pick you up from school? In the rain? No, I can’t have- oh,” her hand flies to her mouth.

“That’s what I remember too,” Kate says quietly. “After school, no one was there to pick me up after the hockey match, and then you, in that car.”

Benton looks between one and the other. “What?”

Jo is openly weeping as the feeling of loss crashes down over her. Kate bites the inside of her lip to the point of blood and doesn’t do the same. “There was an attack, here. On…” she closes her eyes, and knows the date her dad had died all those years ago, “17th October, 1978.”

“Yes,” Benton looks vague for a moment, “I know that, how could I forget that? That’s the day we lost the Brig and the Doctor!”

Jo’s breath hitches.

“What do you remember about the attack?”

Benton shakes his head. “I wasn’t there. I was collecting a requisition order, they sent me for munitions with a couple of lads. We knew when we found the Master there would have to be a big assault. Mike spent all morning complaining that he would have to manage all the greenhorns on his own.” He gives a sad smile with decades of pain behind it. “The Doctor was furious, he said that the Brig would just make things worse with explosions.”

“We always thought it must be those organic clone things,” Jo chips in.

As soon as she says it, another memory blooms in Kate’s mind with a spike of orange pain. “Yes, I’ve seen those reports. Faceless, unstoppable creatures, Captain Hawkins had taken some troops to Essex, that’s where the majority of them seemed to be, but...I can’t...what happened?”

Jo ignores the question. “The Doctor said it was the Master, he sent me, oh, I was so stupid! He sent me to do some research at a local delivery company, a place that hired out vans. He said the Master must be transporting his clones somehow. He just wanted me out of the way.” She smiles sadly through her tears. “Silly old fool, he never did value my skills, he was always trying to protect me.”

“You would only have died too, Jo,” Benton says quietly.

“No one has to die,” Kate says briskly. “My dad didn’t die until...until…” for a terrifying moment, she can only remember the 1978 date, “2011. And I’m going to keep that intact.”

She marches back across the room to the Master, sweeping her eyes over him and then to Josh. “No mind control this time,” she mocks.

“I wouldn’t dream of controlling one of your precious soldiers,” the Master responds with poisonous politeness.

Kate has no patience for swapping barbs. “Tell us about your organic clones.”

The Master looks positively delighted, “I should give your species more credit, Ms Stewart.”

“Osgood, the truth enhancer.”

Osgood steps forward and discharges the spray into the Master’s face.

“Kate! It might kill him,” Jo says.

“I’ll take that chance,” Kate says grimly. She leans forward, arms on the chair the Master is tied to. “What is your name?”

The Master’s face contorts as though he’s in pain. “The Master.”

“And is that your TARDIS?”

“No...it’s-” each word is dragged from him, “the Doctor’s.”

“That seems to be working. Osgood?”

Osgood is peering at a small scanner in her hand. “His respiration’s through the roof. He’s fighting it with everything he has, and with Timelord physiology...I would guess you have about 3 minutes.”

“Why are you here?”

The Master gives a vicious snarl. “I’m going to destroy your whole planet. Or take it.”

“How? Why do you need to be here?”

“My...my clones. They’ve been reproducing for forty years, I have an incalculable number of them just waiting for my command.”

“There has to be more than that.”

“The mass.”

“The mass?”

“It took time to grow, but now, it’s ready. It’s coming.”

“But what is it?” Kate insists and suddenly her radio springs to life.

The Master laughs. “It’s already been released. It’s coming. I expect it’s just reached the first population centre.”

The report coming through Kate’s radio seems to agree with him.

Osgood has dived for a computer screen and is typing frantically. “Uh, Ma’am, I think you should see this.”

Kate looks between her and the Master, white with fury, and makes her way to Osgood’s side. She’s into the BBC website, and viewing what looks like grainy mobile phone footage. On screen is a...thing. It looks like a partially chewed blob of gum. Whatever it is, it looks sticky, viscous. Whoever is holding the camera, they aren’t close enough to hear the squelch Kate can imagine all too clearly as it rolls along, tendrils sticking to the pavement as it rolls. It is a deeply unpleasant colour, like the skin of something long dead, and as Kate watches it rolls over the day to day debris of an urban area - rubbish littering the ground, a child’s bike. They are slurped up into the thing.

“Josh, we need you in a chopper.”

The Master laughs harshly. “You’ll have a good view at least, Captain Carter. You can’t stop it, it’s resistant to everything you can throw at it.”

“Not very much is resistant to missiles,” Josh says firmly, heading for the door.

“This is,” the Master taunts. “All you’ll end up with is dozens of them, each piece capable of acting autonomously.”

“You’re lying!” Kate snaps.

Osgood picks up her scanner and bites her lip. “I don’t think he is, Ma’am. He hasn’t quite fought through the truth enhancer yet.”

Kate compresses her lips into a hard line. “Go, Josh! Do what you can. At the very least you can give us eyes on.”

“I’ll go with you,” says Benton.


“I might not be able to fly a current helicopter, but I’m still experienced with civilian control, and when Kate stops this, you’ll want someone who can take charge of the cleanup crew.”

Kate nods once, feeling both buoyed and terrified by this confidence. She turns back to the Master. “How do we stop it?”

The Master laughs once more, but it isn’t the harsh mad sound any longer. Kate looks at Osgood and she shakes her head and lowers the scanner.

“There isn’t any more here, if we were in my usual laboratory...but this place just isn’t very well stocked.”

The Master brings his hands back in front of him, he drops the handcuffs that had been around his wrist to the floor with a curl of his lip. Then he removes one glove and massages his wrist briefly, before making a show of examining his nails. “You can’t stop it,” he repeats.

“There has to be a way, you must have a method of controlling it.”

He shrugs languidly. “Why would I bother? I have my TARDIS, and, at need, the Doctor’s, I can leave at my leisure and your planet will be consumed.”

The soldiers behind her pull their guns to bear on the Master.

“I don’t think it’s quite as easy to leave as you may think, Master,” Kate says warningly.

The Master stands, replacing his glove and dusting some imaginary lint from his suit. “I don’t think you can stop me, do you? Only I know the enzyme needed to shut down the mass, and I will give that to your people only if I am given unconditional rule of the planet. I need no more control than that.”

Osgood is tapping at her computer again. “Ma’am, I think I’ve found something.”

“Keep him here,” and Kate moves across to join her. “What is it, Osgood?”

“Well...only those of you who were alive during the first phase of the Master’s plan can feel the shifts in time, right? That means he hasn’t won yet, or I mean, hasn’t won in 1978 yet, it’s still in flux. And look at these records.” She spins the laptop to face Kate.

She’s looking at a too familiar obituary. “It still says 2011.”

“Yes, and I still remember meeting the Doctor in 2013.”

“What does it mean?”

“It means this shouldn’t be our problem. They defeated him back in the 70s, we just need to get him back there.”

“The TARDIS is still downstairs,” Jo interjects.

Kate looks at her sharply. “Can you fly it?”

“Oh no, darling. In my time, the Doctor could barely fly it.”

“And I have no intention of doing so,” the Master adds snidely.

“Alright, the first step is to get him into it. Then...I’m sure we’ll think of something. Oh, someone frisk him. We need the key.”

One of the soldiers steps forward, but before he can conduct a search, the Master hands him the key with a flourish. “Really, Ms Stewart, you needed only to ask. Not that it will do you any good, it isn’t a second hand Ford Fiesta, you know. Although, the Doctor’s TARDIS may as well be.”

“Search him anyway,” she orders, “the last thing we need is another surprise piece of weaponry.”

That done - some random objects Kate doesn’t care about, and an old style UNIT issue revolver that makes something in her heart grow cold - the Master is half escorted, half marched down to the old laboratory. Jo opens the door to the TARDIS and her breath catches again.

“It’s exactly how it was the last time I saw him,” she says, a catch in her voice.

“He isn’t going to die today,” Kate says firmly, “Or that day.”

“We need to get a move on,” Osgood is still clutching the laptop and frantically checking records. “There are some changes now. I have military records for you, Ma’am.”

“But I’ve never-” Kate starts, before stopping in confusion. Of course she has a military record, she signed up straight out of university, and completed her training at Sandhurst with the highest commendations. She tries to focus on the last time she saw her father (late for her birthday party, but arriving with a bouquet of flowers and a smile for his best girl/in his bed in the nursing home, insisting that she pour a second brandy in case the Doctor dropped by) and it all blurs together.

They stand in the doorway, looking at the console. “Now what?” Jo says, taking a hesitant step in.

Osgood hands her the laptop and moves up to the console, an expression on her face Kate has seen too many times. She paces around it. “Wow, the TARDIS! The Doctor’s actual TARDIS!”

“Focus, Osgood.”

“Right, yes.” She pulls her inhaler out of her pocket. “Well, the records say that the TARDIS has a telepathic component. Maybe we can get it...her to help us?”

The Master laughs derisively. “It takes a Timelord mind to fly a TARDIS, your petty human brains have no chance.”

Osgood ignores him. “Hello?” she says quietly.

There is no response, the TARDIS nothing but a ship with no pilot. The Master is still smirking, and Jo can feel the hot fear that she had once felt near enough weekly for the Doctor. She remembers numerous incidents of trying to convince someone to search for him to help him, and now she can do whatever she thinks best and she can think of nothing.

She follows Osgood into the body of the console room and lays a hand on the console. “Hello,” she echoes her friend. “Do you remember me?”

The lights in the interior come on, and Jo pulls her hand back, startled. They dim again.

“That was working, Jo. Keep talking,” Kate urges.

Jo puts her fingers back on the console, stroking gently like the Doctor does. Did. “It’s me, Jo Jones, or Jo Benton, it’s all a bit of a blur. I was Jo Grant when you knew me.”

The lights flicker in a way that Kate interprets as amused acknowledgement.

“Well, you see. You’ve been stolen.”

There is a hum, and the time rotor in the centre moves slightly. Quivering readiness.

“And, well, umm. We need you to go back, back to the Doctor. He needs you. At least, I think he does, he always said he needed you. He loved you ever so much, you know.”

The lights stay on, the time rotor engaged, but there is no further response. Jo turns to look at Kate with wide eyes.

“Now what?”

“I think…” Kate suggests, “We need to give her more information.”

There is another hum. This one sounds like a demand.

“I’m Kate, Kate Stewart,” she answers it, “I think you knew my father. We need you to go back to the 17th October, 1978, and we need you to take the Master with you.”

Another hum, this one angrier.

“He has to be there. The Doctor needs to know his plan.”

“Oh!” Osgod says suddenly. “Hang on, I can tell the Doctor everything we’ve discovered!” She starts frantically emptying her pockets and pulls out her phone. She looks at its customised case sadly for a moment. “Thank goodness I’ve got my photos backed up.” Then she pulls up a recording app and quickly gabbles everything they’ve found into it. “Do you think I should try again? That was a bit...confusing.”

“It will be fine,” Jo says with a weak laugh. “The Doctor’s brain is confusing.”

“How will we stop him tampering with it?” Osgood asks.

The TARDIS opens up a panel in one wall. The women swap looks and Kate shrugs. Osgood walks across the room and puts the phone inside the panel which swings shut and locks audibly.

“Do you think...does one of us need to go?”

“I will,” Kate says decisively. “I’ll have to change my name, and make sure not to run into my past self, but Osgood, you’d be wasted in the 70s and Jo, you already have a life in UNIT back then, here you have your husband and children and grandchildren, you can’t just disappear.”


“No arguing, we don’t have time.”

“Don’t you understand anything about time travel?” the Master mutters sulkily, “you have all the time in the world.”

Osgood paces around the console once more. “OK, well, there’s definitely something on this screen now, it’s all little circles and lines, some language I can’t read, but looking at the patterns...I’m guessing time space coordinates.”

“And that’s definitely the ready position, though the Doctor never really knew where we’d end up,” Jo adds.

“Alright then,” Kate says. She takes a breath.

“Oh, darling. Are you sure?” Jo asks, and puts her arms around her.

Kate returns the hug briefly, and then removes the older woman’s arms. “I’m sure, I don’t really see another choice.”

“As soon as the Doctor gets his blasted TARDIS working, you get him to bring you straight back here,” admonishes Jo, wiping her streaming eyes.

Moments later, Kate is almost knocked over by Osgood.

“Oh, Kate, I’ll miss you!”

Kate can feel the tears in her own eyes and throat, but now is not the time. She hugs Osgood too and then steps back. “Come on then, Master. Next stop 1978,” she says to break the silence, but as she turns towards him, he’s in motion.

A shot rings out from behind them.

“No! Don’t fire! We can’t risk damaging the TARDIS,” Kate shouts, even as she throws herself between The Master and the door. He barrels into Osgood, sending her backwards into Kate, she stumbles. Jo grabs her arm and is pushed backwards by her momentum.

The three of them half stagger, half fall over the TARDIS’ threshold.

The door slams shut of its own accord. They can hear the Master hammering on the far side of the door cursing and raging. The familiar grinding sound of the TARDIS fills the room as the machine comes to life.

Kate flings out an arm, pushing the others back. As they stand and watch, it flickers in and out, once, twice, and again, and then disappears.

Kate turns her attention to Osgood. “The files?” she asks.

Osgood looks helplessly around. “I think the laptop’s still on board.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, darling. I left it on the console.”

Kate racks her own mind, but that terrible imprint of her dad’s funeral is still there, something she knows she’ll be seeing in her nightmares for the next while, and she can’t tell if it’s a real memory or just the echo of one. She turns to Jo instead. “What do you remember?” she demands. “When was the last time you saw the Doctor?”

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Chapter 10: 17th October, 1978, 12:13pm

Author's Notes: Meanwhile, back in the past, the situation is grim...

Disclaimer: Not mine. All characters you recognise can be attributed to their original creators. This also uses the cast from Big Finish's UNIT: The New Series, although you don’t need to have listened to any to follow it. No profit is made from this fanwork.

Warnings: Some TV appropriate violence, non graphically described.

Finally complete! Thank you to all who have enjoyed.

17th October, 1978, 12:13pm

“We could use some more grenades, sir,” Yates says, tensely, propped as he is between the wall and one of the few soldiers still standing and lowering his empty revolver. “This isn’t making any difference and I’m out.”

“I know how to stop them!” The Doctor cries suddenly.

“Then do it!” Alistair orders, firing his own last bullet.

The Doctor runs a hand over his face. “I can’t,” he admits. “I need more power. I need my TARDIS. If this was the 90s or early 2000s, maybe I could do something with your mobile phones but-”

“Our what?”

“Oh, never mind. The point is, I’ve done as much as I can do.”

“Which is?”

“Not much,” the Doctor’s face crumples. “I am sorry, Brigadier, if he had left me my TARDIS…”

And then, just as Alistair is about to give his final platitude, about how it’s been an honour, as though summoned by the Doctor’s words, that familiar sound starts up once more. The Doctor takes a few steps towards the flickering shape in the corner, pure delight spreading over his features now.

“I told you she didn’t work properly,” he says joyfully, and is wrenching the door open virtually before the TARDIS has fully materialised.

The Master, enraged to the point of madness, practically falls out of it. His eyes are flashing, he’s dishevelled and looks positively deranged.

The Doctor only beams at him. “My dear Master. You’d best give your organic clones an order to stop now that you’re back with us.”

For a moment, Alistair thinks he’s angry enough to allow himself to be ripped to shreds out of spite, but after a moment, with a final glare, he jerks his hand in a harsh gesture, brow furrowed once more, and the clones stop moving.

There are a few seconds where everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

Alistair strides over, and grabs the Master harshly. “Arrest him,” he orders, handing him back to the men still thronged behind him. “Doctor?”

The Doctor pokes his head back out of his TARDIS, “Hmmmm?”

“We need to finish this,” Alistair reminds him patiently.

“Oh, yes,” the Doctor says vaguely, before ducking back in.

Alistair pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs deeply. He takes a moment to check that the Master is restrained. He is, and rather roughly too, Alistair isn’t sorry to see. “Watch him,” he says gruffly, and Yates wavers to a fully upright position, and nods. Alistair just hopes he doesn’t collapse into him.

Then the Doctor walks back out of the TARDIS with a long stretch of cable. He has the smallest recorder Alistair has ever seen in his hand. It looks oddly like the outside of the TARDIS, but he’s too used to the Doctor to bother commenting on it.

“What’s that?” he asks, as his ears pick out a girl’s voice, talking at some speed.

“This,” the Doctor answers, beaming with a paternal pride, “is your future, Brigadier.” He starts connecting his cable to the reassembled machine on his bench. And then glances up to focus his beam on the Master, fingers still working to fix the wire the way he wants. “You didn’t last long there did you? How embarrassing, Master, beaten by a group of humans.” He goes back to reconfiguring his wire.

“Doctor,” Alistair says urgently, what about the...the amorphous mass?”

“Don’t worry about it,” the Doctor says airily. “As he said, it’ll take 40 years to come to fruition. I’ll go up to the caves and disconnect it from its solution, kill it in utero as it were. Perhaps I’ll wait until Jo gets back, she’ll enjoy the trip.”

Alistair sighs again. “If you’re sure, Doctor.”

There’s a flash, and a fizz, and the teletropic scanner starts whirring and spinning. The organic clones in front of them begin to fizz and froth, white goo soaking their cheap clothes. Their faceless heads begin caving in,like punctured footballs.

“Urg,” says one of the recruits rather expressively.

They stand as the creatures slowly dissolve into puddles of sticky, viscous matter. The Master looks furious enough to start stamping his feet.

“That should be all of them,” the Doctor says, turning his scanner off. “The psychic link they share with one another and him should mean even the ones elsewhere around the country just suffered the same fate.”

Alistair looks around the room. Around him, men are shakily getting to their feet. “Right...I suppose I’d best start vetting a cleaning crew. And I need to check in with Captain Hawkins.”

The Doctor gives him a quick smile, and steps up to the Master, “And as for you, you’re a danger to all life in the universe.”

He tilts his chin up, “Going to kill me, Doctor?”

“Of course not, but this time I’ll oversee your security arrangements myself.” He looks old, and abruptly rather sad. “Come on,” he says to the men holding him. “We’d best take him somewhere secure. I’ll sit with him.”


“All sorted, Doctor?” Alistair asks as the Doctor enters his office without knocking.

The Doctor smiles slightly, “Amorphous mass reconstituted into its constituent parts, and the Master safely under lock and key.” He settles himself on the end of Alistair’s desk and they sit in quiet for a few moments. “The recruits?”

Alistair puts down his pen, expression turning grave. “Seven dead, a few with long hospitalisations ahead of them. But the majority will be fine. I’ve given Yates three weeks of R&R. My daughter isn’t speaking to me,” he adds ruefully. “I missed her match.”

“Well,” the Doctor says with an expression Alistair can’t parse. “She’ll forgive you.”

“Hmm. Was there anything else you wanted, Doctor?”

The Doctor’s expression opens a little, tucking away whatever thoughts are still lingering. “I have picked up some strange radiation spikes in Northumbria, I thought Jo and I would have a look.”

Alistair looks at the stacks of paperwork and reports still on the desk. “What about all of this, Doctor? How am I supposed to explain what happened here?”

The Doctor stands up, and heads for the door. “You’ll think of something Brigadier, UNIT always does.”

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