THE FROSTING OF ANGST
Down the long bleak corridors of time, through all the glories and disasters in Gallifrey's history, through all the machinations and hypocrisy of the colleges of the Time Lords, through all the rises and falls of all the galactic empires in all the universes that had ever existed, there had always been...
Gallifrey was a different place, then. For one thing, it existed. The spires of the Citadel shone in the sun, there were glorious, wondrous forests of silver leaves glinting against the burnt orange sky, and we thought the cake would never, ever run out.
Then there was a war. Cake became extremely hard to find. Time Lords were dying left and right, the cosmos's oldest civilization was drawing its final breath... the intricate tapestry of history was being unravelled, first in subtle ways, then in violent rips and tears that left no civilization untouched. The very phenomenon of time itself was in danger of being utterly obliterated.
Cake prices skyrocketed. Time Lords were driven to learning to bake their own. The only kind of frosting you could get your hands on was made out of anti-matter, and if you tried to spread it onto your cake, it and you and half the continent you were baking on exploded. Only too late did the Time Lords think to use these cakes as weapons against the Daleks. A gigantic space cake was baked...."
The third Doctor could not contain himself any longer. "Good heavens, man, isn't there anything in this entire cosmos that will persuade you to SHUT UP??!!"
The third and tenth Doctors were tied back-to-back, seated on the floor, on one side of a giant, gleaming white, oval-shaped cargo hold, on a space station in orbit around a desert planet, which was visible in a large curved window which started at floor level a few yards away from where they sat, and extended far overhead.
Doctor Three appeared very much as he usually did, in a frilled shirt, bow tie, and red velvet suit. Doctor Ten appeared very much as he didn't usually, in nothing at all, except for the third Doctor's opera cape draped over his shoulders. You see, the Master always thought of almost everything. There was always that one big thing he forgot about that caused his plans to come crashing down around him, but right up until he forgot that one thing, he always thought of everything. The Master had realized that if he tied the two Doctors together with one of them naked... (yes, that part will take some explaining) ... then the added insulation of the cape would prevent the Blimovich Limitation Effect, at least until he could get off of the station. He was presumably long gone by now.
Oh, I forgot about the cake. Doctor Ten had chunks and bits of chocolate cake strewn all over him, with a spiral of thick light green frosting on top of his head. You heard me. He was all naked with chunks of cake all over him and green frosting on top.
Ten spoke up, without the slightest hint of self-consciousness in his voice, despite his pasty complexion, all the goose bumps, and a device that looked suspiciously like a video camera aimed at them, many yards away. "I thought you wanted to hear what happened! This is the fall of Gallifrey we're talking about! You don't seem very keen on keeping up with current events, I must say..."
"I don't believe a word of it, you know," Three answered, with more of a grip on himself.
"What, Mr. Frilly, you don't quite swallow the cake? Big giant exploding doomsday weapon cake in space, just a bit far-fetched for you?" Ten replied.
"Frankly, yes," said Three.
"Imagine that.... not believing in the space cake."
"It doesn't matter anyway," Three objected. "In my existence, I can travel anywhere in time and space, without Gallifrey ever having been destroyed at any point in history, and the Time Lords are always very happy and healthy and stuffy, as always. I fail to see how your destruction of Gallifrey could possibly have happened."
"We-e-ll...... Someone drew up a handy multi-colored chart explaining the timey-wimey, the wibbly-wobbly, but I never got 'round to puzzling it out...." The Tenth's voice trailed off.
"So... who drew the chart for you, if the other Time Lords are all dead?"
"Hmmm..." Ten mused. "That's a poser, that is. Tell you what, I'll explain later!"
Three was irate. "We always say that, but we never do it. Don't you dare use that on me!" His rage continued to build. "I cannot BELIEVE that you used The Line on me! ME!!"
Ten smirked. "Yes I did, didn't I?"
"Of all the blasted cheek..." Three fumed.
Ten smirked even more. "Too late, already used it."
"On ME!! As if I were..."
"Temporally 'special'?" Doc Ten offered. "A tourist? A human being?"
"Yes!!" the Third spat out, quite red in the face at this point.
"Well, tough," Ten announced. "That's you sitting there, after The Line has just been used on you. Woe... is... you!"
Both men were silent for a few moments, then Three spoke up, still angry. "I wouldn't mind being tied up quite as much, if there were a chance of some decent conversation!"
"We-e-ll..." Ten welled again. ".... there is that giant radioactive lobster who keeps pestering us to play parcheesi with him... why don't you have a chat with him?"
If the Doctors had been part of the viewing audience, watching by way of the video camera aimed at them, they would have seen the camera pull back to reveal an enormous intelligent purple lobster, shackled to the far wall, taking up 80% of the cargo hold.
"Oh yes..." Doctor Three said. "I forgot about him."
The lobster spoke, in a high-pitched, penetrating shriek, that reverberated throughout the room. "The Master was nice enough to provide the game, and each of us at least has a leg or a claw free, and I'm sure we could play, if we all strained really hard to reach it!!!"
Three said, "Interesting sense of humor, that man."
Ten answered, "Yes, the jokes are always the high point of all my deadly encounters with him, I must say."
"Hey!!!" The improbable lobster yelped. "I just realized... I'm all naked and covered in cake!!!!"
Ten adopted a quizzical look, then eyeballed himself up and down, then broke into a grin. "Hey, me too!! What about you, Big Nose?!"
"No... and you know what they say about people who don't have big noses!" Three said.
"A rather desperate retort, which is easily disproven, as our video audience can clearly see, I'm sure."
Three was surprised. "Video audience?"
"Yes, see, there's a video camera just over your left shoulder and across the room," Tenth pointed out. "In this time zone, the Master is at the peak of his power, with several star systems..."
"We both know all this."
"Yes, but the lobster doesn't, and I don't want him to feel left out. As I was saying, El Meistro has four star systems under his control right now, and one of his means of maintaining power is the mass entertainment he provides. I imagine that we're being seen live on all six of his subject planets."
"If so..." the third Doctor started. "Then you seem remarkably unself-conscious, considering your current state."
Ten made an exaggerated face, as if he were carefully considering the point, or pretending to, even though Three could not see him doing it. "Yes... strangely enough, I don't find this the least bit embarrassing!"
"Not even with millions of people watching?" Three was taken aback.
"Millions you say...!! You think so, really?! Possibly pay-per-view, on enormous holographic screens?!" Ten was lost, with a big silly grin on his face. "Sorry, what was the question again? Nope, not embarrassed at all."
Three's frustration was growing once again. "So, you're a rude, chatty exhibitionist?"
"That's about the size of it, yeah! Oh wait...." Ten looked down. "No, THAT'S about the size of it, right now, anyway! I'm also Not Ginger... nope, not ginger there either! Not anywhere on my person am I ginger in fact!"
The third Doctor stayed calm, but clearly had little patience left. "I really don't see the necessity of pointing out what hair color you DON'T have. Over and over and over."
"We-e-ll, some of us seem rather confused about what hair color we do have, so I just like to leave no doubt in people's minds," the Tenth rambled. "Some people, say, just for example, just pulling a totally random example out of no place in particular... some of us might be blonde one week, then white haired the next, and sometimes even a bit brownish!"
We all have our limits, and Doctor Three had just reached his. "Sir, may I prevail upon you to SHUT UP!!!!"
A booming alarm sounded, with a deep bass tone so powerful that it vibrated the floor beneath them. Ten seemed especially startled by this. "AAAaaaa.... I would imagine that the Master has now reached a safe distance, and has triggered a countdown for some sort of very large bomb designed to destroy this station and us right along with it." Ten paused. "I hate lines like that, but I really couldn't think of anything else to say."
"Guys?!" The forty-foot-tall lobster shrieked. "I've just about worked both of my claws free, and once I'm loose, I think I can squeeze through that air vent in the wall, crawl to the power room where the bomb must be, because that's where it would do the most damage... and defuse it! That's my job on this station, security! Good thing I noticed that air vent, huh? Pretty clever, eh?"
The Doctors tried to look at each other, both with expressions which suggested that neither could believe what he was hearing. Three spoke first. "Do you really think... what's your name again?"
"Ig," Ig replied, brightly.
"Really? Well, Ig, my dear fellow, just take a look at that air vent. Take a long, hard look... and then tell me whether you think you will be able to fit into it. Remember... you're quite large, you're forty feet tall in fact, and eighty feet long."
Ig looked the vent over again, and Ten muttered, "No, I don't think he gets it. No clue at all!"
Ig turned back to them, somehow managing to smile. "Just watch!" He broke free of his restraints and in an instant was at the vent. As it turned out, the vent was 35 feet tall, and extended most of the way from ceiling to floor, and was twice as wide across. As Ig squeezed into it, Ten said, "Well, look at that. All he had to do was scrunch his head down a little bit! I really didn't think he'd fit! It looks as if we'll be free in just a few minutes!"
Three commented, "A good thing too, since we spent all this time arguing, that we might have spent trying to escape."
"I've found that whatever the emergency, there's always time for a good argument, or ten minutes of exposition." Ten answered. The booming alarm continued for thirty more seconds, and then stopped, its echo remaining for about ten more seconds. "There! And both Tardises are just down the hall! So once again, a giant parcheesi-playing radioactive lobster saves the day. We think it's an old cliche, but look, it really happens!"
They both visibly relaxed somewhat, and the third Doctor asked, "So why did the Master tie you up naked in the first place I wonder? I wasn't here yet when that happened."
The tenth Doctor adopted yet another exaggeratedly 'thoughtful' expression that the third Doctor could not see. "Oh... not sure I can make that completely clear at this time. I guess I'll just have to..."
The Third had a pleading tone. "In Heaven's name, don't. Just show a bit of restraint, there's a good chap."
"Oh good grief."
"Later!" Ten looked very happy, as Three groaned very unhappily. "Anyway," Ten continued, "It might have something to do with a slight thing that occurred... happened... took place... in the days at the Academy? The Master, you, us?"
"I'm sure that I have absolutely no idea what you mean."
"An occurence... a hap-pening if you will...." Ten went on, popping the 'p' in 'happening' rather loudly. "A thing that... happened..." his voice trailed off again. "A bit of twisted nostalgia on the Master's part, perhaps?"
Three tried to sound casual. "Well if it really is that, and I'm not saying that I necessarily have any idea what you're talking about, but if so... then why aren't I naked too?" He almost sounded disappointed.
"Well, I don't like to be rude, but..."
Just at that moment, Ig triumphantly broke down the mammoth main doors of the cargo hold, which fell onto the floor in front of them with a resounding metal clang/thud that one would really have to hear in person, to appreciate. He had a large scissors-like cutting tool in his left claw, that looked tiny as the gigantic lobster held it, and he reached down and carefully snipped the Doctors' chains apart, without a single mistake or scratch on either of them. "I've seen all those movies where a giant radioactive lobster who likes parcheesi saves everybody, and here I am doing it myself!!" Ig yelled.
The Master sat watching his seven-dimensional holo-TV in his palace bedroom in his underwear, and cursed loudly. "Everyone in the Local Group of galaxies has seen those movies, how could I possibly have forgotten about them??!! AAAAAA!!!!"