“You know, as dungeons go, this isn’t one of the better ones I’ve been chained up in,” mused the tall, skinny, for some reason very naked, man with the unruly spiked hair.
“What about the Maggot Pit of Koth, old fellow?” asked the white-haired man with the crushed velvet suit, matching cape and extravagantly frilled shirt. He cast an appraising glance around the dank brick cellar in which they were currently confined. “I think this is really rather pleasant by comparison to that…”
“Weeellll, yeeahh…” the naked man allowed. They were currently seated back to back in the middle of the floor, beneath the single dangling light bulb, both wrapped in what appeared to be a couple of dozen metres of heavy-duty chain, secured by a large, rusty padlock. They were also slathered in the remains of what was apparently a very large cream cake. The white-haired man’s crushed velvet was quite ruined. “I didn’t mean in terms of, well, grottiness,” the unclothed one went on.
“Grottiness?” the man in velvet wondered, raising his eyebrows expressively.
“Yeah, you know; grotty, icky, skeevy, grimy. Grotty.” The naked man looked around them too. “I mean, if you’re going to judge a dungeon on that, then this is one of the nice ones; I just mean, the cellar of a cake shop is a bit… Well, I’ve been held prisoner in the scented seraglios of insane Ottoman viziers, in the Death Maze of Caliban XIV; the infamous Torture Garden of the deranged Tyrant of Splink.”
“Ah, I think I see what you’re saying, old chap,” the other replied. “It lacks a certain cachet, is what you mean. The kind of place where they’d let anybody in.”
“Cachet.” The naked man broke into an enormous grin, his current status of chained-up, unclothed and covered in cake momentarily forgotten. “I like that; good word, that. Cachet.” He pronounced it in a toothily exaggerated fashion.
“The Tyrant of Splink…” chuckled the man in velvet, shaking his head. “Quite the most obnoxiously conceited man I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.”
“Weeell, apart from me,” the other suggested.
“Yes, apart from me, that is,” he agreed.
“And he had such a lovely singing voice.”
“Indeed he did,” the dandy conceded, and hummed a few bars from Madame Butterfly. “The last thing heard by many an unfortunate prisoner. Actually,” he added, thoughtfully, “that gives me an idea. If you could just be quiet for a moment…” He fell silent, and then started to hum again; a strange, low sort of tune that set the teeth on edge.
“What are you doing?” the other asked after a while.
“Ah.” The naked man was silent for a while longer. “You’re trying to find just the right note to resonate the lock open, aren’t you?”
“Very good, old chap; I’m sure you remember the time Houdini taught us how to do that.”
“Oh, old Houdini,” the naked man reminisced. “He was a character, wasn’t he? Brilliant, brilliant fella. Five foot nothing, but there wasn’t a chain in the universe that could…”
“I rather thought that I asked you to be quiet,” the dandy pointed out. “And they say I namedrop…”
“You know, I could do that with the sonic screwdriver,” the naked man said, “if I could just…ah.” He looked down at himself. “Sorry, I forgot; naked.”
“And when all of this is over,” the dandy told him, “you will have to tell me exactly how you ended up like that.”
“Well, it’s a long story…”
“It certainly seems like it might be.” The man in velvet grimaced in annoyance: “Unfortunately, I dropped my screwdriver when I was trying to rescue you from that Gateauxian upstairs.”
“Ahh, I had him exactly where I wanted him,” the naked man claimed. At that moment, the cellar door opened; a black figure was silhouetted in the light at the top of the stairs.
“I trust, my dear Doctors, that you are managing to keep yourselves occupied down here?” their visitor smoothly intoned. “Making your own entertainment?”
“Yes, we’re quite all right, thank you very much,” the man in velvet replied.
“I can see that you are,” their captor said, genially, as he descended the steps. He was wearing a black Nehru-style suit and black leather gloves, and sported a black goatee beard; never a good combination.
“Yep, maintaining our stiff upper lips,” the naked man agreed, quite happily in the circumstances.
“And not just your lips,” the Master observed, with a sneer and a downward glance; the naked man turned red. “Good to see that I can still make an impression.” He paused, dramatically, while taking a puff on his large Havana cigar. “Well, Doctors, it has been pleasant to see both of you here today, but you should know by now the consequences of meddling in my plans; it will be a pity to kill you, but unfortunately you leave me with little choice. You know how it is.”
“Oh, you don’t mean that,” the naked man grinned. “You’d have done it a hundred times by now, if you meant it.” He was looking up at his captor with what could only be described as an expression of wistful glee; happiness tinged with sadness. “It takes me back,” he half-whispered, “seeing you like that; with the Chairman Mao suit and the cigar and everything. I mean, in my time, you’ve gone all kinky and zany and sing along to bad pop music, but…” He looked around again at the dungeon, at the chains and at the Master standing over him, and his grin became even larger: “The good old days, eh? Go on, show me your Tissue Compression Eliminator,” he urged. “Better than that laser screwdriver rubbish. Oh, go on…”
“I don’t like to cast aspersions,” the Master said to the man in velvet, “but is he…quite all right? I know that regeneration trauma can be a terrible thing…” He winced, casting another glance at the naked man: “Bad pop music?”
“He’s been through a lot in the intervening incarnations, I think,” the dandy theorised, before getting back to business: “Listen to me, old fellow, this hare-brained scheme of yours, you’ll never get away with it,” he defiantly declared.
“Oh, I rather think that I already have,” the Master smiled sardonically. “At noon today, the combined leaders of the Free World convene at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen’s birthday; I just hope they enjoy the cake I baked them…because I know the cake is going to enjoy them…” He laughed, seemingly quite pleased by his own villainy.
“Sorry to break it to you quite like this, old friend,” the man in velvet replied, “but as we speak, that baker’s delivery van of yours is being intercepted by the combined forces of UNIT, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Air Force.”
“It seems that you think of everything, Doctor,” their captor spat. “Even so, I have contingency plans; together, I and the Gateauxians will yet bring this miserable planet to its knees!”
“Don’t you realise that the Gateauxians will betray you the moment they think the time is right?” the dandy demanded. “They’re not interested in helping you take over the planet, only in consuming its inhabitants!”
“Oh, my dear Doctor,” the Master laughed, “you know me better than that; to do that, the Gateauxians would have to betray me before I betrayed them, and I already have my plans carefully laid for just such an…”
“Traitor!” slurred a mushy, guttural, slobbering voice from the top of the stairs. All three occupants of the cellar turned their heads to see the malevolent mass of cream, sponge and strawberry jam flowing down the steps in the Master’s general direction. “We always knew that Time Lords were not to be trusted!”
“That’s a bit rude!” the naked man protested.
“You fools!” the Master told the approaching tide of vengeful cake. “Can’t you see that I was trying to gain their confidence in order to find out how much they knew of our plans? Don’t fall for their transparent attempts to drive a wedge between us…”
“They’re not listening to you, old chap,” the dandy observed with a certain grim satisfaction. “They know you all too well.”
“Back!” the Master commanded as the cake backed him into one corner of the cellar. “Back! I command it! I am the Master and you will — aaarrgghhh!”
“And that,” said the man in velvet appreciatively as the Master screamed and the padlock fell open, “was just the note I was looking for.” Quickly, the two visitors freed themselves from the chains. “You know,” said the dandy, taking off his cape and throwing it over the other man, “I do rather think that you ought to cover yourself up.”
“Thanks for that.” He cast a glance at the corner, where a figure writhed and struggled in the middle of a mass of cream and cake. “Do you reckon we should…?”
“Rescue him?” The man in velvet rubbed the back of his neck thoughtfully as he gave that some consideration. “Well, as you say, he probably doesn’t mean it when he keeps saying he’s going to kill us.” He quickly adopted a dramatic martial arts pose before springing dynamically to the rescue: “Hi-ya!”
* * *
“Good Lord,” said the Brigadier. It seemed like the only rational response at that particular moment. The Doctor was, after all, walking towards him across the road from the abandoned bakery, seemingly covered in cake, as was the chap with him, who appeared to be clad in only the Doctor’s cast-off cloak. And they had the Master between them, who was also covered in cake, as well as being wrapped up in some rather secure-looking chains. After a few seconds contemplating this sight, the Brigadier managed to collect himself sufficiently to start issuing orders: “Sergeant Benton! Take some men and make sure that bakery’s clear; there might be more of these…cake monsters in there for all we know.”
“Yes sir! Careful now, lads; I’ve seen lots of strange stuff since I joined UNIT, but this takes the cake!”
“I’ll do the jokes, Sergeant Benton…” the Brigadier muttered as the soldiers trampled across the street, guns at the ready.
“Doctor, are you all right?” asked Jo, anxiously, as she rushed over from the Brigadier’s car.
“Miss Grant,” the Master nodded politely.
“Yes, quite all right, Jo,” the Doctor smiled. “Nothing a good cup of tea wouldn’t put right.”
“Yes, well, I suppose it is nice to have a cup of tea with your cake,” the other Doctor mused, wiping a large lump of cream and jam from his face and then licking it off his fingers. “And that’s really good, actually. My compliments to the chef!” He clapped the fettered Master on the back rather affectionately as he said this.
“We came as soon as we got your message,” the Brigadier said, holstering his gun. “Cake monsters?” he asked, sceptically.
“Yes, the Gateauxians,” the Doctor confirmed, grim-faced. “A rather unpleasant species indeed, from the outer reaches of the Confectar Cluster.”
“Cake monsters?” Jo asked, incredulously. “Are you putting us on?”
“Think Autons,” the naked man advised them, with a grin. “Only, instead of plastic, their thing is…cake.” He shrugged, helplessly: “Don’t ask me why, it’s just…well, that’s all you need to know; cake Autons. “Cautons”, you could call them.”
“You could, if you were of a particularly asinine frame of mind,” the Master agreed.
“Now, be quiet, there’s a good chap,” the velvet clad Doctor advised, although it was not clear which of them he was speaking to.
“You should have waited for us to get here before you went in,” the Brigadier admonished him.
“And while I was waiting for the sclerotic military machine to overcome its hidebound inertia and actually start moving,” the Doctor retorted, “the Master and the Gateauxians would have gotten clean away.”
“Yeah,” said the other Doctor, drawing the cloak more securely around himself for modesty’s sake. “And plus we wouldn’t have got to sample this excellent cake.” He turned to the Master again: “I’d offer you some, but you look like you’ve already bitten off more than you can chew.”
“Well, that’s always been the Master’s problem, old fellow,” the younger Doctor smiled: “He thinks that he can have his cake and eat it too.”
“Please, spare me your attempted witticisms,” the Master groaned; he looked almost relieved when a couple of UNIT squaddies dragged him away to one of the vehicles.
“So, who’s this then, Doctor?” Jo asked, casting a confused glance at the naked man, who coughed and rather self-consciously attempted to disappear into the folds of the cape.
“I was just about to ask the same thing myself,” the Brigadier agreed, suspiciously.
“And how did you end up covered in…?” Jo blinked in mystification: “And what happened to his clothes?”
“Jo, Jo, Jo,” the Doctor beamed, as they all walked off together, “there’ll be plenty of time for explanations later. Now, about that tea…”