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: 2021.05.09


Index

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 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.”

“Then-”

“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.

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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.

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