The Doctor shifted, resurfacing from the unconsciousness the psychic blast had delivered to his synapses. His senses were coming back into focus and something was in his hair. He tried to lift a hand to brush it away but found his hands wouldn't move. His eyes flew open.
He was in the Master's TARDIS. Someone was behind him where he lay on the floor, their wrists bound along with his. They were humming part of an aria from Carmen.
"You're awake," the person behind him said. The young man, the one he was still somewhat in denial about acknowledging to be who he knew him to be.
"Let's hear'La donna è mobile' next," he said.
"Nah. Rigoletto had nothing on the Master. Besides, he hasn't a daughter."
"Speaking of which, why isn't he gloating over us?"
"He went off to clean up. I don't know if you remember, but we all had a bit of a roll in the cakes. That velvet jacket you're wearing is probably ruined. The Master got a great purple birthday greeting on his chest in reverse."
There was a pause. "Seeing as you were here first, care to fill me in?"
There was another pause. "I can't tell you how sorry I am. I'm so, so sorry he pulled you in on this. I should've guessed it when I saw which regeneration he was in himself. At the same time, it's like old home week, you know? How're the chaps at UNIT?" The reply was evasive.
He couldn't tell if he was frustrated or relieved at the lack of direct contact with his mind. "Do I want to know exactly which regeneration you are?"
"Tenth body," the younger-appearing man supplied. "Been a while. So if I fill you in, it'll only be selected bits relating to this situation of course."
"I'd prefer it."
"Yes, you would. I'll make up for it; I'll throw in a few tips about cleaning crushed velvet for free."
"Will it explain why you're so lacking in appropriate attire?"
"What, do you think I go around in nothing but the Rani's kimono all the time?"
"Hello, Doctors," the Master's suave voice greeted them. "I assume you've enjoyed this little interlude and are getting nicely acquainted with yourselves."
They both craned around briefly to see him.
"Much better," the spike-haired chatty one decided. "Very much in the persona, so to speak. Do you keep an entire closet of those jackets?"
"You never were too creative when it came to fashion," the velvet one added. "More's the pity. But the gloves help."
Ignoring their commentary on his appearance, the Master gave a brief, confirming tug on the chain that still held the naked one's ankle then tapped something in his hand. They glanced up, expecting his psychic-rod again but this time it was something more familiar.
"That's my sonic screwdriver," both of them protested.
"Or rather, it's my…yours…the earlier one," the brown-haired one corrected, fumbling.
"Didn't your mother ever teach you not to steal?" the velvet one asked, almost more offended at the thought of his pockets having been rummaged.
"I'm merely using it as a small example of collateral," the Master smiled. "Your Brigadier knows you wouldn't easily be persuaded to give this up. It will be most useful to prove my case."
"That if he doesn't withdraw his men immediately and stop all interference, they'll never see their precious scientific advisor again." He pronounced the title with distaste.
"What, are you jealous?" the chatty one inquired. "I think it's really that you want them to call you the grand pooh-bah of science on this planet. Am I right? Jolly fun getting to see you being all evil again, by the way."
"Pooh-bah?" asked the velvet one.
The Master's gave him an odd look then looked down at the velvet one. "Regenerative stability deterioration?" he surmised.
"No, he's apparently just enjoying his stay. I, however, wouldn't mind the use of my limbs."
"Ah. Now, if you'll excuse me…" Their captor stalked over to the doors then glanced back. "The doors won't open for you, by the way, my TARDIS won't permit it. Just in case you allow any ideas to germinate in those heads of yours." He exited, and it closed up behind him.
"Germinate?" the brown-haired one echoed. "Did he really say germinate?"
"He did. And I think it rather prudent that we use this time to find a way out of the greenhouse, as no doubt he'll come up with something rather more secure for us before long. You know, old chap, I'm afraid I missed the bit where I ended up this way. Any idea what type of lock is holding our wrists?"
"It looked sonic to me. He's still using the one that he got from the Rani, so it can't be voice-patterned. Possibly a wave frequency pattern."
"A frequency, hm."
"Believe me, I've tried sustained notes in all the ranges possible with vocal cords, and then some. We'll need something else to generate it. I can't tell you what I'd give to have my TARDIS…our TARDIS, I mean. We'd get this off in a trice."
"She's back with the Rani, correct?" The velvet one felt the man behind him sag a moment. "And mine is back at UNIT. So that's out. How's that ankle-chain of yours attached?"
"I don't know. Events have been moving rather rapidly. Here," he grunted, trying to readjust so he could see it, then gave a little bark of laughter. "I recognize that model. I used to have an entire box of them, somewhere. Come to think of it, so did he. Simple vocal imprint. If I recall, your regeneration was one of the best at voices. Think you can you sound like this version of the Master?"
"Goodness, he was in a hurry, wasn't he? I can give it a try," grinned the white-haired dandy. "But what would he say to set a box full of locks on short notice? Oh never mind. I know what he would say." He paused, cleared his throat and intoned in a voice that made the other Doctor grin in self-admiration:
"I am the Master. Open."
"I don't believe it." the elder one said, shaking the cuff from his ankle, sending small chunks of drying cake across the flooring. "Can you believe it? I don't."
"Not really. But then I never did understand his stunning level of narcissim. All right, up we go then," the velvet one said. The two of them struggled to lever themselves upright, back to back.
"What is it?"
"My er…loincloth is slipping."
The younger Doctor chuckled. "Well, at least we haven't too much of an audience. Though I would suggest you…oof… borrow my cape if we meet up with the Brigadier. All right, let's get over to that console."
Back to back they shuffle-hopped over, moving with caution in case of proximity alarms. Standing sideways, they both scanned over the visible readouts and control settings.
"A neubulizing oscilloscoptic spatial teg!" the dandy admired. "Very nice. I had to cobble mine up from bits."
"I remember that now," the other said. "Has it blown up yet?"
"On my side, there." The two of them shuffled over to the array of knobs they wanted and stared at them where they gleamed, so close and so far away. "Any ideas?"
There was a hum and a faint crackle. A voice suddenly came through the console's speaker, and it wasn't the Master's.
"Master! Yes, it's me. Did you expect otherwise? Did you really think your childish deception wouldn't come back to bite? I assure you I don't find this amusing."
"The Rani!" the brown-haired Doctor whispered as the two of them flinched away from the vidcam. They could just see a tiny image of the Time Lady in question. She was waving a ball-point pen in her hand.
"I fully expect the missing piece to be replaced, in working condition, mind you, within the hour. I'll give you one chance to explain yourself. Then I assure that you'll be facing severe consequences. And don't think I'm bluffing. Out."
The tiny image disappeared, replaced by a blinking dot.
The older, chatty Doctor was grinning. "Think we should tell him he has a message?"
The other was thinking. "She'll be in touch, will she? And that's where your TARDIS is."
The grin vanished, instantly replaced with an intensity that focused on that blinking dot. "Of course. Bend with me. This way!"
"What are…" The dandy bent almost backwards, allowing his elder self to lean over the console, craning his long neck out to a set of tiny sliders beside the blinking vidcom screen.
"Ephh, affph. Bend to the left. I can…almost… almost….phht phht, God what a taste, doesn't he ever clean this console? Mmlhh. There, look, it's traceable!"
"What?" Bits of white icing skittered around the knobs as his other self turned his head, trying to see.
"The message she sent - oi, she must have been in quite a temper. She's left off the crystal cyphering."
"Well, that's a welcome break. Can you get a fix on it?"
"But how to get there?" he pondered. "This TARDIS won't respond to anyone but the Master."
"One thing at a time. Let's see if we can get this cuff-chain opened, shall we? Back that way again." They shuffled together around the circle and contemplated the array of knobs once more. "Can't do this one with teeth."
"Yes, some digits would be useful, wouldn't they?" the velvet one said.
"Digits! Toes! Here, lift me up!"
"Turning, the dandy allowed his elder to brace against his back, giving him a small flip upward then balancing. There was a fumbling behind him and he bent further, bracing his legs as he took the full weight of his companion on his back. He edged back towards the console, nearly tripping over a cake-crusted kimono.
"Got it!' the Doctor on his back was saying. He was running his toes over the knobs, turning and adjusting as he went.
"Nice to see I've found a way to put unexpected nakedness to good use," smiled the younger one.
A high tone vibrated through the room, then a lower one. The tone raised again, this time ululating rapidly beyond hearing.
There was a pop. "Fabulous!" the older one proclaimed, rolling from his younger self's velvet back. He held up his newly freed hands. "I'm much too clever for myself sometimes."
The dandy was returning his grin. Shaking out his arms, he quickly shrugged out of his cloak and whipped it around his other self, even as he was stooping to snatch up the kimono.
"Now," he said, clutching the cape around him as they both turned back to the console. "Time to find the Rani."
"What good would it do without a TARDIS? Are you thinking to lure her here? I doubt the Brigadier would appreciate having both of them to deal with at once, but how else…"
The brown-haired one held up a finger for quiet and grew very thoughtful. "It's the Master's TARDIS, true, but isn't there a reset on the imprint?"
"Only if its Time Lord is dead. Not much use there, is it?"
"I think I can do this."
"Do what? You can't convince it he's dead, at that level of psychic circuitry only the truth will matter. Deception is impossible."
"In my time, he is," the other said grimly.
The white-haired one grew quiet at this, shying away from any details. "Well, go on then," he finally murmured.