‘You’ve brought us when?’ Amy’s strident tones shatter the peaceful silence of the woodland clearing. There’s something odd about the ensuing and continued silence, Rory thinks as they follow the Doctor, but for the moment he can’t think what it is. But it shouldn’t be that quiet...
‘Hush, Pond — you’ll wake the natives,’ the Doctor remonstrates, but he doesn’t sound that bothered, and he’s not actually being all that quiet himself, Rory thinks — just as the skin on the back of his neck begins to prickle. He suddenly realises what is wrong with the scenario in the same instant as a figure steps out from behind a tree and grabs Amy. In one swift and horrifying movement there’s a knife at his wife’s throat and nothing at all he can do about it.
‘Woah! Doctor...’ Rory yells warningly, and the Doctor, who had spun on his heel at the sound of Amy’s startled and quickly cut short yelp of surprise, holds up a warning hand.
‘Yes, yes, I see — but there’s nothing to worry about. I know this man. Don’t I, Master?’ The Doctor smiles and confidently approaches Amy and her captor, who doesn’t seem to share the Doctor’s good humour. He’s a roughly-dressed man of late middle-age dressed in what Rory supposes is contemporary for the period — English Civil War — and he has a very sharp-looking knife pressed against Amy’s throat. She looks terrified, her pale hands clutching ineffectually at the man’s sleeve.
‘Be still, or your whore will die!’
‘Hey, that’s enough of that!’ Rory yells. ‘She’s my wife!’
The man’s eyes flick briefly towards Rory and back to the Doctor. ‘Then sir, you are a fool to allow your woman out in such a state of undress!’ He has a horrific scar bisecting his left eye and long, unkempt hair. A full beard completes the picture and Rory has no doubt but that here is a man accustomed to violence. He opens his mouth to protest and then realises that he has no idea what to say. He can only suppose that the man is referring to the mini-skirt, since Amy is otherwise covered from head to toe.
‘Oh, very good, very good...’ the Doctor claps his hands together delightedly, and Rory shoots him a startled look. What the hell is he playing at?
‘Doctor...’ he says warningly, but again the Doctor holds up a hand.
‘Be quiet, Rory.’
‘You are a physician?’ the scruffy man asks. The Doctor has stopped his advance and seems a little annoyed.
‘You know who I am; don’t pretend otherwise. How did you escape?’
‘Doctor...’ Her captor must have released the pressure on her throat somewhat, allowing Amy to give voice to her fear. ‘Do something!’
‘Be quiet, woman!’ The man pulls his arm back warningly, but Amy begins to struggle in earnest and Rory suddenly realises that the man is not as in control as he might think he is, as Amy gets a hold on his sleeve and tugs. The knife wavers for a moment, and then Amy is elbowing sharply backwards and the man doubles over and gasps, the knife dropping to the forest floor. She snatches it up and dances backwards with her prize, just as the Doctor darts past her —much to her surprise- to crouch beside Amy’s attacker, who has fallen to his knees, breathing heavily. Amy suddenly looks uncertain — surely an elbow to the stomach wouldn’t cause such a severe reaction?
‘Are you hurt? Let me see — this is no time for pride, Master! Move your hands!’ The man snarls something incoherent and continues to clutch at his stomach, breath hissing through his teeth.
‘Amy, are you all right?’ Rory is too busy hugging his wife to pay much attention to anyone else for a moment or two, but slowly he becomes aware that the Doctor is trying to get his attention.
‘Rory- if I could have you over here, please?’
‘Sorry, what?’ He pulls away from Amy to see the Doctor crouched beside the bearded man, who is clutching his stomach and groaning quietly. The Doctor holds up a hand — it’s covered in blood.
Rory’s nursing instincts kick in and he’s beside the Doctor in a moment.
‘That’s a lot of blood,’ he comments as he begins to make his way through the layers of none-too-clean clothing. ‘I don’t think he’s just cut his finger.’
‘Maybe that’s why he asked if you were a Doctor,’ Amy offers, seemingly recovered from her ordeal as she joins them. ‘I thought you said you knew him? Cause he doesn’t seem to know you, does he?’
The Doctor frowns. ‘No. But I don’t think he’s chameleon arched... he wouldn’t have the technology, for one thing. Although....’ and he rises to his feet and wanders off, stroking his chin and deep in thought, clearly content to leave Rory in charge. The man finally gives up the struggle to remain on his knees and sinks sideways onto the ground. Rory swears and scoots closer.
‘Who d’you think he is, then?’ Amy asks as Rory finally peels aside the last layer of blood-soaked fabric to expose the man’s torso.
‘No idea — but he’s in trouble. You’ve reopened a wound that’s a few days old, and it needs cleaning...’ he looks up. ‘You don’t seem to mind that I’m bothered...’
Amy pats him on the arm and shrugs. ‘Course not, silly — it’s what you do, isn’t it? But if he tries anything like that again...’
‘He won’t be trying anything for a while,’ Rory mutters as he takes a pulse. ‘And maybe not at all if we don’t get him cleaned up, get some antibiotics into him.’ He frowns; the man’s skin is cold and clammy. ‘He’s going into shock.’
‘Doctor!’ Amy leaps to her feet and hurries after the Doctor.
‘Amy...don’t get all shouty and angry at me, please. There’s a reason we came here...’
‘I’m sure there was. But Rory says this guy’s in trouble — his wound is infected and he’s going into shock. Are we going to help him?’ She frowns.
‘What did you call him? Master? Is that his name?’ Her expression tells him exactly what she thinks of that.
‘Yes, of course we’re going to help him, and ....maybe. Come on.’ The Doctor turns on his heel and rejoins Rory and his patient.
‘The wound’s infected, Doctor. It needs cleaning and he needs a course of antibiotics, and fluid for the shock. I don’t suppose you have anything like that in the Tardis?’
‘I can get hold of anything ... not so sure about the antibiotics, though. Nasty things. Still, let’s get him on board, shall we, and run some diagnostics.’ The Doctor rubs his hands together as if relishing the prospect, but Amy can see a muscle ticking in his jaw. He’s worried, and that’s never a good thing.
‘Hello... what is your name?’ Rory leans down and speaks slowly and carefully — it’s just occurred to him that if this man really is from the fifteenth century then he may not understand modern slang or idioms.
‘Ed..ward.. Sexby...’ the effort is too much for him; Sexby’s eyes roll up into their sockets and he slumps back to the ground, unconscious.
‘Really?’ The Doctor raises his eyebrows and looks thoughtful.
‘Damn,’ Rory mutters. He knows that name, doesn’t he? But right now, who Edward Sexby might be is less important than making sure he continues to be Edward Sexby....together, he and the Doctor lift Sexby and carry him carefully over the few yards back to the Tardis. Once inside, they find a new corridor just inside the door which leads to what looks like a sickbay of sorts.
‘I didn’t know you had a whole hospital ward in here, Doctor,’ Amy exclaims, and wanders around the gleaming space, touching the equipment as she goes.
‘There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Amelia Pond...’ the Doctor says absently as he and Rory deposit the injured man onto a couch with diagnostic display panels set into the foot board.
Under the bright lights of the Tardis, Rory can see that Sexby isn’t quite as old as he’d first thought — his beard does have flecks of grey in it (as does his hair when his battered and sweat-stained hat is removed) and clearly he spends a great deal of his time out of doors, as his weather-beaten skin attests; but he actually looks as if he might be in his mid to late thirties rather than late forties/early fifties as Rory had first thought.
‘So who is he, Doctor?’ Amy asks as her husband deftly removes Edward’s clothing to expose a tanned and battered torso, covered in scars — war wounds, by the look of them. There’s a livid gash across his right rib cage —from a sword? The edges are red and angry looking; clearly its infected.
‘He’s an old...friend. Possibly. It’s equally possible that he isn’t, in fact, and that the likeness is purely a co-incidence...but I don’t usually believe in co-incidences... and the Tardis did bring us here, so...’ The Doctor begins a systematic search of Edward’s clothing. He pulls a face — none of the clothes are particularly clean, and in the warmth of the room (which the Tardis seems to have judged as appropriate for the patient’s condition) the aroma of sweat-stained fabric is starting to make itself known.
Rory and Amy glance at each other; ‘The name is kind of familiar,’ Rory says. ‘What year did you say this was, Doctor?’ But even as he asks the question, he remembers; Sexby was a soldier during the English civil war; he’d fought on both sides but eventually turned against Cromwell and was imprisoned for plotting to assassinate Oliver Cromwell. If Rory remembers his history right, Sexby can’t die now... ‘Blimey,’ he says. ‘Edward Sexby... so that’s what he looked like!’
‘Yes, that’s him... apparently,’ the Doctor remarks. ‘Well, come along, Nurse Rory — do your thing...’ he waves a hand at the diagnostics. ‘there should be some .... stuff ... in those drawers there.’
Rory pulls open one draw and then another and examines the contents of the drawers, which are set into the bed, and is quietly impressed by what he finds. The diagnostic display - once he’s worked out how to use it - reveals nothing unexpected and he quickly assembles a saline infusion, and another with a broad spectrum antibiotic. He wonders vaguely how the Doctor had come by the drugs and why he would even have them — for himself and Amy, perhaps. He wonders too, which medications work on a Time Lord’s physiology — they look so similar to humans that surely there must be similarities. Not for the first time Rory wishes for the chance to examine the Doctor properly, but he seems almost disgustingly healthy. But Edward appears to be one hundred percent human as far as Rory can tell, and he’s in definite need of treatment...
‘That should do the trick,’ he murmurs as he cleans Sexby’s skin with an antiseptic wipe and deftly inserts one line into the back of his hand and another on the inside of his arm. ‘The antibiotics should take effect very quickly — he won’t have any immunity to them at all.’ He looks up to see the Doctor staring at him. ‘What?’
‘Nothing, Rory, nothing. Oh, well all right ...you never cease to amaze me, you humans. Not so long ago this man was holding a knife to Amy’s throat - and now you’re trying to save his life. Marvellous.’ As he speaks, the Doctor is rummaging through Edward’s clothing, clearly searching for something. Rory and Amy watch him silently. What is he looking for? Whatever it is, he doesn’t find it, and steps back, frowning.
Rory nods. ‘I took an oath, Doctor. But if he tries anything like that again, I won’t be so amenable.’
‘Understood.’ The Doctor circles the bed, staring at its occupant, still frowning. He rubs his chin and starts to mutter to himself. ‘He’s human; one hundred per cent human. Have I misinterpreted? Or have you, old girl?’ and he touches one of the screens, which promptly displays Edward’s internal organs.
‘Why do you say that?’ Amy wants to know, fascinated as she watches Edward’s heart in action. It’s a slightly scary thought that if something were to stop that incredible organ in its tracks, Edward would die within minutes. We should have two, she thinks; one for back up, just in case.
The Doctor doesn’t look up. ‘Because it’s possible that he’s a chameleon-arched Time Lord,’ he says almost reluctantly, as if now he’s not entirely sure.
‘But I thought you said you were the only one left?’
Rory’s head swings back and forth as he follows the conversation — plainly the fact of the Doctor’s orphan state is news to him; but he says nothing, knowing how easily the Doctor is distracted. Particularly if the subject matter is something he’s uncomfortable with, as here.
‘Well yes, I am...in a manner of speaking. It’s a long, rather boring and frankly quite horrible story and I really don’t feel like telling it right now.’
‘Sorry,’ Amy says, but her tone implies that she’s far from that and will want to hear it at some point. The Doctor knows this, Rory sees, and he doesn’t seem happy about it.
‘So... we should leave him to recover,’ the Doctor says. ‘I’ll just go and set co-ordinates...’ he’s halfway to the door when Amy speaks up.
‘Er, hang on Doctor.... where are we going?’
‘I don’t know, Pond — where would you like to go?’ The Time Lord’s face brightens. ‘I know an amazing place where....’ and then his expression sobers, as if remembering something.
‘I think what Amy means, Doctor, is; are we taking him with us?’ Rory nods in Edward’s direction.
‘Well, of course we are.’ The Doctor is edging towards the doorway now, clearly ill at ease.
‘But Doctor — he’s from the sixteen-forties! Won’t all this,’ she waves a hand to encompass their surroundings, ‘blow his mind?’
The Doctor stares at her. She’s right, of course... but only if Edward isn’t actually a chameleon arched Master. But if he is, where is the device containing the Master’s memories and biological code? Sexby doesn’t have it on him, so he’s hoping that the Tardis might take them to it. He hasn’t really given much thought about what will happen to the human Edward if she doesn’t, because in his hearts, he believes that this man is the Master; he just doesn’t know it. But the history books claim that Sexby died a few years from now...
‘It’s a risk I have to take.’
‘Why?’ Rory finally chips in. ‘Who is he, Doctor?’ There’s something niggling at the back of Rory’s mind as he speaks; something that’s quite important...a Prime Minister? But then it’s gone and he stares back at the Doctor, suddenly indignant as he realises that this is his and Amy’s historical past the Time Lord is quite possibly about to mess with. He says as much.
‘He isn’t pivotal,’ the Doctor assures him, and brightens again as if he’s only just remembered that this is the case. ‘Nothing he does affects the outcome of the civil war, he has no family... and in fact, if Edward Sexby was the Master all along then he was always going to disappear from the scene... I’m just making it happen a little sooner, that’s all.’
‘But he plotted to assassinate Cromwell,’ Rory protests. ‘You can’t just remove him from history...’
‘He was one of the men who did that, yes; but you and I know that it didn’t succeed, don’t we, Rory? So it hardly makes any appreciable difference ....’ The Doctor stops, annoyed. He still isn’t used to having his authority questioned by his companions (for all that Amy does it quite often) and turns on his heel and walks out.
‘I don’t like this,’ Amy mutters. ‘What’s he being so cagey about, all of a sudden?’
‘I don’t know,’ Rory turns back to Edward, who murmurs in his delirium.
‘But I’m not happy about this. Supposing his disappearing means that someone else has a go, and succeeds? All the history will change, won’t it?’ Edward groans, and Rory checks his pulse again, the old-fashioned way; a hand on Sexby’s wrist, and counts. After a moment or two he lays Sexby’s hand back on the bed. ‘I’m going to stay with him for a while; I might need to up the dosage. I gave him a reduced dose because a normal one might be too strong; but either way he’ll need monitoring over the next few hours.’ He frowns. ‘What I don’t get is how he can be human and Time Lord at the same time. Do you know what the Doctor’s talking about?’
Amy shakes her head. ‘Nope. But I do know one thing — the Doctor’s got two hearts. This bloke has only got one. So I don’t know where he gets the idea that he could be one of the Doctor’s people. I’m going to try and find out.’ She leans over Edward’s prone form and kisses Rory. ‘I’ll see you in a bit.’
‘Okay.’ Rory watches Amy as she hurries from the room, and marvels yet again that here he is, in an alien spaceship, hundreds of years from their own time and treating a man who might also be alien but is, on the face of it, from England’s Civil War period. He shakes his head. You couldn’t make it up, could you....
‘Doctor, how can Edward be a Time Lord? He’s only got one heart. And you’ve got two, haven’t you?’ Amy follows the Doctor into the console room and sits down on one of the seats arrange around the flight deck.
The Doctor looks across at her from his position at the Tardis scanner. ‘He’ll have used a chameleon arch.’ At Amy’s blank look, he sighs, knowing an explanation will be necessary. He has little time for them, partly because she won’t understand most of it, and what difference will knowing it make to her anyway? He pushes aside the memory of an agitated Martha goading him into remembering his own identity... ‘It’s a device we use to hide ourselves when in great danger; it changes our biology to whatever form we choose at the time — usually human because our bodies are broadly similar so the process is quicker than if, say, we decided to disguise ourselves as a Bugblatter beast from Traal.’
‘Hmm, nice name. But...is it permanent?’
‘If you lose the depository, yes, it will be. Single most dangerous form of escape ever. But its particularly effective when it works and that’s why every Tardis carries an Arch.’ Warming to his subject, the Doctor reaches upwards and yanks down on a lever — a pair of what look like headphones drops down and bounces gently in front of his face. He grabs them and looks at them thoughtfully. ‘There are two depositories — one you take with you,’ and he presses one of the earpieces, releasing a small circular object into his palm. He holds it out to Amy, and she takes it from the cool fingers, turning it over in her hands.
‘It looks like my Great Grandfather’s watch,’ she says. ‘He used to wear it in his waistcoat, on a chain.’
‘A fob-watch, yes.’ The Doctor takes it back from her and presses it back into place with a click. ‘The other one stays here. Both contain the bio-data of your original form. The other is a back up, just in case you lose the other one. Luckily, the Tardis carries spares...’ He stares at the device, his thoughts clearly far away. ‘I wonder...’ he releases the arch and leans forward to press a few buttons on the console.
‘But why does it look like something from Earth? I mean, do you, or did they have fob-watches on your home planet?’
The Doctor shakes his head. ‘Oh, I dunno — I think I just liked the era. A fob-watch is rather elegant, don’t you think? Besides, the Gallifreyan equivalent rather stands out like a sore thumb in most places ...’ his eyes take on a sad, faraway look.
‘So it’s a fob watch for when you want to be human, and... what else?’
‘Nothing,’ the Doctor admits. ‘Earth is my favourite planet, so it’s odds on that I’d need it there more than anywhere else...’ he clams up, as if he’s said too much. But Amy’s curiosity won’t let it lie.
‘Why?’ She circles around the console so that she can look him in the eye. He doesn’t look at her, seemingly suddenly intent on whatever it is he’s doing.
‘Why what?’ the slightest hint of irritation sharpens the words.
‘Why is Earth your favourite planet? Of all those planets out there... what’s so special about Earth?’
‘No particular reason.’
‘Oh, come on, Doctor! There’s got to be a reason! You can tell me... why is it such a big secret?’
‘It isn’t a secret. It’s just not something I talk about, that’s all.’
‘Excuse me, Doctor, Amy — I think you need to come. It’s Edward...’ Rory is standing in the doorway between the sickbay and the console room. He looks worried.
The Doctor’s turn of speed leaves both Amy and Rory standing, Rory having had to step aside to avoid being bowled over. ‘What were you doing?’ he hisses to Amy as they follow in the Time Lord’s wake.
‘Tell you later...’ Amy whispers back; they’re too close and the Doctor, for all he often pretends a slight deafness when he doesn’t want to hear something, does in fact have very keen hearing.
‘Whoa there, calm down Edward, you’re perfectly safe, take it easy...’ Interestingly the Doctor has stopped calling Edward ‘Master’ and instead uses the name they’d been given. It has no effect on the man who is lying rigidly on the bed, his whole body shaking with fright as he looks fearfully around him.
‘What — what manner of — of t-trickery is this?!’ Sexby manages to gasp out between clenched teeth. His eyes are bright with fever and sweat rolls down his face.
‘Please, Edward, don’t be frightened. It’s just a room — a room on a ship. You were injured, and very sick. We’re trying to help you,’ Amy pushes in front of the Doctor and talks soothingly to the terrified man. He must have been desperate and in pain, and probably delirious; she’s prepared to forgive him for the earlier assault.
Edward eyes her doubtfully but he seems to calm a little, almost as if it belittles him to show fear in front of a woman, even one as low in social standing as it seems he believes Amy to be.
‘A ship, you say?’
Amy can see his mind working frantically, perhaps trying to assess how far they’d been from the coast, and wondering how long he’s been here.
‘Yes, that’s all. I know it looks a bit strange to you, but we’re not trying to hurt you, I promise.’
Rory steps forward. ‘I’d like to examine you, Edward, with your permission?’ He’s worried that the fever isn’t going down, and holds up a traditional thermometer. The Doctor boggles, as if even he didn’t know that the Tardis possessed such a thing, but quickly steps in when Edward’s breathing quickens.
‘It’s all right — this little tube has a substance in it which reacts to heat. We can measure your fever by it.’ He looks at Rory as if to say ‘Are you mad?’ and flicks his eyes down to the diagnostic panel — where it displays Edward’s fever as forty degrees Celsius, or one hundred and four Fahrenheit. Another figure displays the Gallifreyan equivalent and the Doctor’s eyes widen. This is not good. Bad enough for a human, but for a Time Lord... he has to remind himself that the Master is, to all intents and purposes, a human at this moment in time. He forces his panic down. Rory has medicated him, it’s just a matter of time, surely...
Rory follows the Doctor’s gaze — he’d thought to use the thermometer as something less unfamiliar to Edward, but as he watches, the readings increase to 104.5 and he realises that they don’t have time for niceties.
‘Edward,’ he says calmly, ‘your fever is worsening, possibly due to the ... potions... I gave you. It’s all right,’ he adds hurriedly as Edward’s eyes widen, ‘they will work, but because your body is not... accustomed to them, things may get worse before they get better. I’m going to need to help them do their job...’ he looks up at the Doctor. ‘Doctor, do we have any ice? Anything cold, just to help bring his temperature down?’
The Doctor nods, seeming to shake himself. ‘Yes, yes, of course... Amy?’
Amy moves as if to follow him but Edward’s hand suddenly shoots out and he grabs her sleeve.
‘Angelica... don’t go...’ he mutters, his eyes rolling as he fights the fever. ‘You must...’ and he starts to shudder violently.
‘He’s fitting!’ Rory exclaims. ‘Doctor — we need that ice, now!’ Deftly Rory slices through Sexby’s shirtsleeves and pulls them away, and then fumbles with the complicated looking ties at the front of his trousers. Sexby seems to recover and pulls Amy down until she’s almost in his face.
‘Whore! Angelica is worth twenty of you! Take your hands off me!’ Edward tries to push Amy away but she grabs his arms and leans over him.
‘Edward, you must calm down, you’re making it worse. Hush,’ she tries, but Sexby rolls his head from side to side, no, as his arms flail at her.
‘Where’s that ice?’ she gasps as she continues to try to hold the delirious man down.
‘Here, here!’ the Doctor appears with a champagne bucket full of ice —where he’d got it from Amy hardly likes to imagine but wonders at a ship which carries sophisticated medical equipment and drugs and has ice in a champagne bucket to hand. The Doctor looks as if he’s about to simply upend it over Sexby and Rory grabs it just in time.
‘Thank you Doctor, I’ll take that!’ He gently shakes the bucket so that the crushed ice pools around Sexby’s neck —where it starts to melt almost immediately - and shakes more over his torso. He grabs one of the torn sleeves and folds one of the ends over. He thrusts it at Amy, who reluctantly releases her hold on Sexby to take it.
‘Hold one end open,’ Rory instructs her, and begins to shovel handfuls of ice into the open end. When he has what he considers sufficient in the fabric tube, he folds the other end over and then takes the other end from Amy and places it over Sexby’s forehead.
At first there’s no appreciable difference, but slowly the shuddering eases, and eventually stops altogether. By the time all the ice has melted, Sexby is calm and sleeping.
‘Wow,’ Amy says, bemused by it all. The Doctor steps forward to take Rory’s hand. He pumps it up and down vigorously.
‘Well done, Rory — that was spectacular!’
Rory nods, pleased and awkward at the same time. ‘I think the antibiotics just kicked in,’ he mutters. ‘But the ice did help.’
‘So what happens now?’ Amy asks as Rory briskly but gently cleans up his patient.
‘He needs to rest, let the drugs kill off the infection... when it’s calmed down a bit and the swelling has gone down I’ll stitch that wound. A few days and he should be as right as rain.’ He pauses. ‘I’m a bit worried about what’ll happen when he wakes up again, though — he was terrified. Doctor, what do you think?’
‘I think that as soon as he’s able to walk, we need to get him to the chameleon arch,’ the Doctor says firmly. Rory frowns, having no idea what the Time Lord is talking about, but Amy turns to the Doctor, surprised.
‘Oh — did you find it then?’
‘Find what?’ Rory asks, wishing that they would just go away now and let him get on with his job. ‘Oh, Doctor — have you got any clothes that might fit him? Only...’ he indicates Sexby’s torn and soaked clothing. ‘I don’t want him catching a chill...’
‘Oh yes, I’m sure I can find something...’ the Doctor mutters. ‘Come along, Pond — Nurse Rory has got that look in his eye...’
‘What look?’ Rory wants to know, but the Doctor and Amy are already half way to the door.
‘Fine, ignore me why don’t you,’ Rory grumbles, before turning back to his charge. He deftly removes the sodden clothes and drapes him in the towels which he finds in a third drawer.
‘Doctor, what did you mean about the Arc? Did you find Edward’s watch? Only I didn’t see one...’
‘No, no, I didn’t.’ The Doctor hurries on through the winding Tardis corridors, heading deeper into the ship. Amy has to jog to keep up with him.
‘Well... if you didn’t find it... what will you use?’ She stops in her tracks, struck by a sudden thought. ‘Doctor — you’re not going to... well, turn him into someone else, are you? Can you even do that?’
The Doctor stops and turns, so that Amy cannons into him. He sets her straight and stares at her indignantly.
‘Amelia Pond! That would be murder! Of course not!’ He resumes his journey.
‘Well then, how can you put the machine on him without his fob watch?’
‘Ah, but that’s it, Amy. I think I do — have a copy, I mean. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before... its how he survived the first time! Oh, he’s a wily one, that Master! No wonder he was coming apart at the seams in the Wastelands... that Master must have been a copy, a facsimile! He’s still here! Been here all along!’ He stops, turns to Amy and grips her hands, jerking them up and down in his excitement.
‘Doctor, what are you talking about? And you’re hurting me, ow...’ she pulls her hands away and the Doctor lets go without appearing to have noticed.
‘Come on, let’s find our friend some clothes and then I’ll check the repository. But I’m certain I’m right; it’s just the sort of thing he’d do.’
Rory is sitting with a mug of tea, feeling quietly satisfied that he’s done all he can for Sexby and that it’s just a case of waiting for the drugs to do their job. He’s still worried about how the man will react when he comes round though, and ponders the advisability of sedating him. Not enough to knock him right out, but just enough to relax him so that Sexby isn’t worried by his strange surroundings. He tries to imagine what it might be like to come from that period in history and to suddenly find yourself in the Tardis, and remembers how sick and disorientated and how, well, shit-scared he’d been (if he’s honest) the first time he’d come on board. Only the knowledge that Amy had been travelling with apparently no ill effects had calmed him down enough that he didn’t run screaming for safety. And at least he had a frame of reference to help him cope. Sexby will have none of that — even trains hadn’t been invented in 1645. An aircraft would probably have freaked him out, but a space ship? Rory tries to imagine a future scenario that would have the equivalent shock factor for him and can’t. And, well, that’s almost kind of the point, isn’t it?
He sips at his tea and watches Sexby sleep. It’s funny, but there is almost something kind of familiar about him... which is ridiculous, of course. If this really is him, it’s pretty damn amazing.
But Sexby still seems familiar, and the memory feels recent...Rory tries to imagine him in modern dress, and fails. The beard is the problem, he thinks. It hides his face and makes him look far older than he is. It’s also not very clean or well-trimmed; it’s a bit like trying to imagine a tramp in top hat and tails... Maybe, if he gave him a bed bath and a shave... no, that’s out of order, he realises. When Sexby wakes up, he can have a shower and he’ll be fine. Besides, he’s lived with the beard for a while, it seems, and in comparison with modern standards his clothes are a far worse state of affairs. He wonders what happened to them — he’d dropped them on the floor and they’d gone by the time he’d finished with the towels but he doesn’t remember seeing them go. The Tardis, he suspects. At first it had freaked him out to discover that the ship habitually launders and presses and then returns their clothes to them overnight. He pictures a little army of robots working away in the bowels of the ship to ensure that everyone on board has clean clothes for the next day. It explains why the Doctor only ever seems to wear one outfit —with the occasional change of shirt or tie - and why it never gets smelly — he has his own personal maid/butler all rolled into one. Rory had tried staying awake once to see if he could see how it worked, but he hadn’t managed it. He suspects the Tardis of putting sedatives in the air system to make sure he won’t, even though explaining that to Amy would make him sound paranoid. It’s just one more of the many mysteries surrounding the Doctor, he thinks.
Sexby sighs and mutters in his sleep, and Rory wishes they would hurry up with the clothes. Even a sheet would be nice, even though the temperature means that they aren’t strictly necessary. Rory has already removed his windcheater, and is still slightly too warm because there’s no way he’s going to be taking his own clothes off... He realises that he’s in danger of dozing off and sits up straighter in his chair just as Amy comes through the door with an armful of clothing. She dumps it onto the empty couch and wanders over to the bed, her eyes looking the naked Sexby over. She blinks when she gets to his groin, then grins and shoots a mischievous look in Rory’s direction and in spite of his training, Rory blushes. He quickly stands up and jerks his head towards the door; Amy shrugs and follows him out into the console room.
‘It’s perfectly natural,’ he whispers to her, not wanting either the patient or the Doctor to overhear. ‘It doesn’t mean anything, and you shouldn’t really be looking.’
‘Well, if you’d find some sheets and cover the poor man over, I wouldn’t be, would I?’ She raises her voice slightly. ‘Doctor, haven’t you got any sheets in your sickbay? Only poor Mister Sexby needs something to cover his modesty.’ She tosses her hair at Rory and smirks. ‘is that tea? Bet you didn’t make me one...’
At first the Doctor doesn’t appear to have heard her, and then he looks up absent-mindedly. ‘Oh, you just need to ask for them. Sorry, didn’t I say?’
‘No, you didn’t,’ Rory mutters and returns to the sickbay. When the Tardis responds to his whispered requests by the sudden appearance of a drawer which contains sheets, pillows and blankets, Rory sets about making Sexby more presentable. Why hadn’t he thought of that...?
The night is uneventful — Sexby sleeps right through, and although Rory has the distinct impression that the Doctor is slightly irritated by his insistence that he stay with the patient ‘in case of complications’, Rory is left alone with Sexby and even manages the odd cat-nap himself, when he isn’t running through what he remembers of the history of the Civil War and wondering if he’s imagined Sexby’s resemblance to someone more recent. He’s not hugely into political affairs but there’s something niggling just at the back of his mind... but it’s no good, he can’t recall it. He has just drained the last of his coffee — brought to him by a sleepy-eyed Amy- when Sexby begins to stir. Here we go, he thinks, but decides not to call the Doctor or Amy. He’s been told many a time by senior staff that he has an excellent bedside manner — this might be his greatest test.
‘Good morning, Edward,’ Rory smiles as Sexby opens his eyes and looks around the room in bewilderment. ‘How are you feeling?’
Sexby looks him up and down as if assessing what danger Rory might pose. Clearly he finds him unthreatening because he closes his eyes briefly before opening them again and frowning.
‘Well enough, sir, well enough. I should thank you for your ministrations... and apologise for anything I might have said or done in my sickness. I did not know my own mind, I think.’ He raises himself on his elbows, wincing a little.
‘Are you in any pain?’ Rory comes closer, since it doesn’t seem as if Sexby is inclined to attack him.
‘A little.’ He raises the sheet and examines his wound, his expression startled. ‘Were I a superstitious man, sir, I might think you a witch. How is it that you affected such a cure so quickly?’
Rory inclines his head in acknowledgment of the indirect compliment. ‘Herbal remedies, Mister Sexby; they are common in my part of the world. I am pleased to see you so well recovered.’ He’s slightly on edge, worried that he’s got the language all wrong, but Sexby seems to understand him well enough; or at least, he doesn’t remark on it.
‘Then I thank you. How long have I lain here?’ Sexby looks quickly around the room again and shudders, and then carefully keeps his eyes on Rory. Clearly he’s not a man given to panic when in his normal frame of mind.
‘One afternoon and one night,’ Rory tells him. Now he finds that he’s actually rather enjoying the challenge of phrasing his replies so that Sexby can understand them. ‘You must be hungry — would you care for breakfast?’
Sexby nods. ‘But first... where may I relieve my bladder?’
Oh shit. Rory has no idea how to present the Tardis’ ultra modern plumbing in terms Sexby will understand, so he merely puts down his cup and points to the doorway set into the wall behind the bed. ‘It’s through there, sir. I think it’s all pretty self-explanatory...’ He averts his face as Sexby clambers carefully down from the bed —stopping to stroke his hand curiously along the strange —to him- material the unit is constructed from, before he pads unselfconsciously into the bathroom. He doesn’t close the door. There follows a short silence once Sexby has relieved himself and then the sound of running water as he figures out the taps. Rory briefly considers explaining the flush button but decides better not. Sexby might end up inventing the loo centuries before its time and who knows what changes that might make? He wonders if the Doctor is ever seriously tempted to experiment... he must be, mustn’t he?
‘Where are my garments?’ Sexby demands when he returns to the sickbay. He’s still pale but seems to have the constitution of an ox as he circles the bed, his eyes widening as he sees the colourful display of the monitors. He spots the pile of clothes on the couch and looks them over doubtfully. ‘These do not belong to me. Where, sir, are my garments?’
‘Er... in the laundry, I think...’ Rory tells him. ‘We thought these might be suitable for now.’
Sexby fingers the cloth, intrigued. ‘Hmm. Strange cloth, and very finely woven.’ He seems about to say more, but changes his mind. ‘These are a good fit,’ he says, shrugging into the shirt and wincing as the material slides against the still slightly pink scar on his abdomen. He’s healing very well, Rory notes.
‘Yes, indeed,’ he smiles, relieved as Sexby pulls the trousers on, after examining the zipper with wonder. ‘Fit for a gentleman!’
Sexby looks at him through narrowed eyes. ‘I, sir, am not a gentle man,’ he growls. ‘I am a soldier.’ He fumbles with the cuff buttons for a moment or two then huffs impatiently and rolls the sleeves up. ‘These smell like a whore’s wardrobe,’ he mutters. ‘You would make me a fop, I think.’
Rory isn’t quite sure what to say to that, so he just shrugs. ‘It’s the custom... where we come from,’ he says.
‘Well then, you had better hope that we do not find cause to fight,’ Sexby says with a smile. ‘For I would smell your soldiers a full day’s march away.’
‘Yes, yes...’ Rory grins back. He rather likes Sexby, he realises. Just so long as he doesn’t insult Amy again... but there’s something even more familiar about him now that he’s dressed in a normal shirt and suit trousers. If only he could remember who Sexby reminds him of...
‘You spoke of food, sir,’ Sexby reminds him.
‘Oh — yes, of course. Follow me,’ and Rory heads to the kitchen. Well he hasn’t been told to keep Sexby confined to the sickbay, has he?
‘Where are my weapons?’ Sexby asks suddenly, as if he’s only just remembered them.
‘Er... I’m not sure, actually,’ he confesses. I think the Doctor may have them. Don’t worry,’ he adds, as Sexby scowls. ‘I’m sure you’ll get them back, you know, when you... leave.’
‘Hmm. You are the strangest of folk,’ Sexby announces as he sits at the table and waits for Rory to serve him. He’s evidently decided that as the house guest, he’s entitled to be waited on.
‘Why do you say that?’ Rory asks, whipping eggs into a pan (the Doctor always has a good supply of eggs, Rory has noticed) and dropping bread into the toaster. The smell reminds him that he himself hasn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon, and he adds two more slices of bread and two extra eggs.
‘Your self-proclaimed Physician does not heal, but has his servant do it in his stead. And the servant who doctors has no servant to cook his breakfast... what strange land do you come from?’
Rory shrugs. ‘England. A small village...’ he shouldn’t say any more, he realises.
Sexby makes no reply to this but Rory can sense the other man’s eyes on him as he activates what passes for a hob on the Tardis and the halogen waves agitate the eggs until they’re nicely scrambled. He hasn’t asked Sexby if he likes eggs but figures that a man who seems to live rough probably isn’t too fussy when it comes to his food. He butters the toast, spoons the egg onto it and places it in front of his guest.
‘There you go,’ he says. ‘Enjoy.’ He fills another plate for himself and by the time he’s sitting down, Sexby has started, eating hungrily and with little grace, forgoing the knife and fork and breaking the bread and using it to scoop up the egg.
Sexby gives Rory an odd look when he picks up his cutlery, but says nothing. He looks suspiciously at the tea , but when he sees Rory downing what is his second mug of the day, he takes a cautious sip and soon the mug is empty. ‘A strange concoction,’ he remarks. ‘But agreeable.’
Just as Rory is clearing away the plates and wondering what to do with Sexby now (he doesn’t think asking him to help wash up would go down too well), Amy pokes her head around the doorway, looking furtive. She doesn’t seem surprised to see Sexby up and about, but smiles quickly at him; Sexby inclines his head in greeting. Rory sees his eyes flick to Amy’s legs and away again, as if he’s embarrassed. For the first time Rory begins to understand why Sexby had assumed what he did — by the standards of his time, Amy is practically naked; a man of Sexby’s generation would have been lucky to catch a glimpse of so much as an ankle unless it belonged to his wife or a prostitute. Wow.
‘Rory, can I have a word?’ Amy flicks her eyes towards the corridor, indicating that she doesn’t want to talk within earshot of Sexby, but before Rory can answer, Sexby has turned around in his chair and then is up on his feet and walking towards her.
‘I would know the whereabouts of the Physician,’ he states. As Amy notices Sexby is wearing the clothes the Doctor has picked out for him, her eyes widen and her mouth drops open. ‘Uh...’ she says, and steps backwards to allow him past.
‘Well? Direct me to him!’ Sexby has clearly had enough of their hospitality and Rory is suddenly very glad that he doesn’t have his weapons.
‘He’s just down there,’ Amy almost stutters, pointing down the corridor which leads directly onto the console room. Sexby (still barefoot, Rory realises, and wonders if that had been deliberate on the Doctor’s part or if he simply hadn’t thought of it — either is possible) stalks away with remarkable agility for a man still recovering from a stomach wound, and Rory wonders if perhaps he isn’t part Time Lord after all.
‘What?’ he asks as Amy watches Sexby go and then turns back to him with a stunned and bemused expression on her face.
‘Oh. My. God...’ She exclaims, and does that strange thing with her eyes when she thinks something is obvious and Rory is an idiot for not seeing it.
‘It’s him. Isn’t it? It’s actually him. How ... well, I shouldn’t even ask, should I, because this is the Doctor we’re talking about, after all...? Rory, how can you not have recognised him?’ she almost shouts, grabbing his shoulders. ‘I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, but it took the clothes to make it click... the beard doesn’t help of course...’
‘You too? Well, actually, I did think there was something kind of familiar about him, to be honest, but I couldn’t work out why, and I still don’t know. Tell me.’
‘Prime Minister, Rory. Ex. And dead. Oh, for heaven’s sake — Harold Saxon! You remember? He killed all his ministers just after they won the election only nobody knew for a while, and then he shot the American President on live TV... you must remember! Everyone was talking about it, we talked about it... oh, Rory!’
‘Saxon... oh, oh, yeah... blimey!’ Now Rory sees it... take the beard away and trim the hair and yes... ‘bloody hell... so how come... no, that’s just not possible. He couldn’t have been both of them... could he?’
‘Rory, you know as well as I do that nothing is straightforward where the Doctor’s concerned! Of course it’s possible! What the Doctor was saying earlier... it makes sense, now.’ She frowns. ‘I was worried that he was going to use this chameleon arch thingy on him and kind of... overwrite him, if you like. But if the person he’s going to replace him with is a man who killed all those people... and his wife disappeared, she’s in prison but nobody knows why... I mean they reckon he’s dead so maybe she killed him - but if the Doctor brings him back...’
‘Hang on — are you saying that Prime Minister Saxon was a Time Lord? An alien? Running our country?’ Rory doesn’t know whether to be alarmed or angry at first, but settles for the latter. ‘Look, if that’s it, then he’s going too far — bad enough that the Doctor could be messing with our history but now we find out that another one of his people was Prime Minister?! No way. I’m not having that, he can’t bring him back or overwrite him or whatever it is he’s planning on doing. Come on Amy, even you can see that’s not right... we’ve got to stop him!’
Amy nods. ‘Yeah. Yeah, I think you’re right.’ She looks sad as much as she’s angry though, but Rory doesn’t give her time to weaken.
‘Come on, Amy. Let’s go and find out what’s happening down there, before the Doctor does something really stupid.’
Sexby marches down the strange hallway, intent on regaining his weaponry and his clothing, or at least his boots. They’d cost him a considerable sum and are weather-proof and comfortable. He suspect his captors (for he has no doubt that’s what they are, for all that they’d tended his wounds and fed him) of removing his possessions with the intent to keep him disarmed and off-guard. Well, they are not military men that much is clear, or he would be but bound and beaten; and if their blood needs to be spilled, he will not shirk from it. He feels remarkably well and suspects some manner of sorcery, but the servant —who is also a physician! - does not lie well, and had seemed genuine enough in his concern; so perhaps all will be well.
He enters the strange circular chamber from above and has to stop and take a deep breath to calm himself as he gazes down on what must surely be the devil’s work.... strange apparatus, glowing as if alive with noises like nothing he has ever heard before... the whole dwelling seems to breath around him, as if he is the belly of some strange creature and he truly does not know what to make of any of it. Even the air tastes strange, and there are no windows through which to see God’s firmament... he wishes suddenly for nothing more than to awake on the forest floor, to find it had been but a nightmare, perhaps induced by the fever of his wound. But closing his eyes and opening them again has no effect and realising that he appears trapped within his dream, he squares his shoulders and enters the devil’s lair...
The Doctor glances up, having seen his bare feet padding silently down the walkway. The thunderous expression on the other man’s face only confirms his belief that the Tardis is correct — somehow the Master has chameleon-arched himself into a seventeenth century human. It’s typical of him that as Sexby he’d attempted to overthrow a key historical figure — even arched, his latent personality had been struggling to assert itself. Of the historical records which state that Sexby died imprisoned and insane, the Doctor has no doubt that they were falsified — the Master must have regained his memory and escaped, only to go into hiding again.
The Master he’d met in the wastelands - who now languishes on a time-locked Gallifrey, if he’s still alive - must have been a copy of himself that the Master had hidden somewhere before Lucy had shot him — or perhaps it had been the copy that had died on board the Valiant? The Master’s skill at evading death is nothing new, and the Doctor realises that he might have a dozen or more copies scattered across the universe, all just waiting to cause trouble for whichever unlucky soul stumbles across them. He has to admire his tenacity, and his skill at prolonging the inevitable. And here you are, he thinks ruefully, about to aid and abet him.... I shouldn’t. I really, really shouldn’t.... but he knows he’s going to do it anyway. How can he not?
‘Ah, Edward,’ he says cheerfully. Charm to disarm... worth a try, anyway. ‘I must say, you’re looking a lot better. How are you feeling?’ He clambers out from under the console where he’s been making a few adjustments. Luckily he’s just finished...
Sexby stops, not fooled for a moment but willing to talk the talk, it seems.
‘Well enough, physician, well enough. You have my possessions, sir. Kindly return them so that I might intrude on your hospitality no longer.’
‘Oh, your sword and your boots, you mean... jolly nice boots, I must say. Don’t worry, they’re safe enough, and you can have...’
‘I did not enquire about their welfare, sir, I demanded their return. You will oblige me or answer to my fist!’
The Doctor backs away slightly as Sexby advances on him, fists clenched at half-mast. He looks furious, and more than able to take the Doctor on, even in his weakened state.
‘Of course, Edward, of course. But first, can we just have a little chat, hhmm? I mean, it’s not often that I get to meet such a distinguished figure as yourself... you’re quite famous, you know.’
‘What do you know of me? Are you an informer?’
‘Me? No, no... I’m just an interested observer, really. I mean, ‘Killing is no murder’, that’s a pretty... well, radical view, don’t you think? And decent of you and your men to give Oliver fair warning. I mean, I’ve known you to take out an entire cabinet in one sitting... not to mention entire civilisations. You get my drift, I’m sure.’
Sexby stares at the Doctor as if he’s mad. ‘I have murdered no-one sir, save but in the line of duty.’
‘Or for pay, since we’re talking man-to-man here, hmm? But what would you have got out of the Time Lord-Human empire, eh? I mean, I’m surprised you’d want to sully your bloodline, given your contempt for the human species as a whole. So what was it all for, eh? To annoy me? Well, ten out of ten for that, at least.’ He edges backwards around the console, feeling his way across the panels until he judges that he’s in the right place. He just needs Sexby to take one more step...
‘You speak in riddles, physician! As for contempt... you are earning mine, sir! Now give me my weapons ....’ Sexby steps forward.
‘Doctor! No!’ Amy’s shriek startles both antagonists, but the Doctor recovers first and hauls down on the lever he’d been holding in readiness. Sexby throws himself forward at the Doctor but he’s too late to avoid the chameleon arch headpiece which drops down from above him and clamps itself to his head — a chin guard releases itself and curls under his jaw to latch onto the other earpiece and Sexby is trapped. He roars with rage and tugs at the contraption, scratching his face in the process, but to no avail; the device is well and truly locked on.
‘I’m sorry, Edward, really I am — but I can’t leave you here. If you were to recover your memories the damage you could do is... well, I’m not prepared to take the risk. And I can’t take you with me as you are — I’m not a cruel person, I’m actually not. I’m a good man who sometimes has to do horrible things... now don’t struggle — it’ll just make it harder.’
‘Doctor — you can’t bring Harold Saxon back, you can’t! You do know what he did, don’t you?’
‘Amy, be quiet. He’s not Harold Saxon; he’s a Time Lord and he’s called The Master. I can’t leave him here, not now that I know who he is — Sexby’s time line isn’t fixed so the Master could create havoc with Earth’s history if he’s left here.’
‘Sir, you are an agent of the devil!’ Sexby snarls; realising that the device is securely clamped around his head, he stops struggling and glares at the Doctor. He’s breathing hard and Rory, hot on Amy’s heels, can see that he’s still weakened by his recent injury.
‘You will burn in hell for this!’ Sexby continues, but it’s clear to them all that he is as frightened as he is angry.
‘Oh, I don’t think so,’ the Doctor tells him. But in fact the Doctor is less certain than he was about what he’s about to do; if Sexby is a chameleon-arched Master, he should be showing signs of recovering some residual memory by now. He wouldn’t have expected it from the wounded and delirious Sexby (although sometimes memories will surface when the conscious mind is not so much in control) but now, when he’s fully conscious and has heard enough possible trigger words... but there’s nothing; no spark of recognition of either the Tardis or himself. He remembers how Yana had begun to suffer after their arrival — simply hearing Martha and he talk about the Tardis and time travel had been enough to convince the Professor to open the watch he’d long thought broken. Is he about to make a terrible mistake? But the thought of leaving a potential Master in England’s seventeenth century to do who knows what... no, he has to be sure, has to push Sexby as far as he can. And if Sexby is not the Master, and he dies... he was meant to die in a few short years’ time in any case, and left no family behind that the history books know of.... all the same, the Doctor wishes that he’d had the time to check forward a few years after this time line, to be certain. As Sexby continues to glare at him, sweat running down his weather-beaten face, he makes his decision, and flips the switch.
For a moment, nothing happens, except that Amy moves closer to Rory and they all stare at Sexby, who appears transfixed; his eyes are no longer focused on the Doctor but inward, to whatever images are suddenly pouring across his mind.
And then he screams, bringing his hands up to his head as he tries to pull the device off.
‘Doctor, do something!’
‘It’s all right, Amy — sometimes it’s like this. When I turned myself into John Smith...’ he shakes his head, and remembers another moment, when he’d come back to himself — standing there in the abandoned cottage, Martha talking at him and Joan looking on with horror as the man she thought she knew turns into someone else, someone other... and it hadn’t been like this. He hadn’t even needed the watch, had he? Something is wrong... he adjusts the control, easing it back to slow the upload of the Tardis’ back up copy of the Master’s mind, left on the ship when he’d had control of her during the year that never was.
But it’s too late — the upload is complete; the device releases itself and Sexby wrenches it from his head and hurls it away from him; but the Tardis is already automatically retracting it and the device shoots up into the ceiling and tidies itself away.
Sexby stands, panting heavily in the sudden silence as he looks around him; and then he draws himself up to his full height and smoothes down his clothes — slowly his expression hardens as the Master takes over. His haughty stare takes them all in; Amy, Rory and then back to the Doctor. His features twist in a sneer and he chuckles; a low menacing sound. Amy claps her hand to her mouth — she doesn’t know exactly who this not Sexby-not Saxon man is, but she doesn’t like him one little bit.
‘Well, Doctor — this is a new low, even for you... Isn’t it?’
The Doctor, wanting to believe but still uncertain, holds the Master’s stare, until the other snickers. ‘Cat got your tongue, Doctor? Perhaps you haven’t yet learned how to talk, is that it? Look at you...someone’s obviously feeling touchy about his age, I’d say...’ as if wanting to demonstrate how much of threat the Doctor doesn’t pose to him, the Master turns elegantly on his heel, to run appreciative eyes up and down Amy’s body. She glares right back, frightened but trying to hide it. Rory steps slightly in front of her, as if trying to shield her from the Master’s lascivious gaze.
‘No. You do not stare at my wife like that, Mister.’
The Master raises one eyebrow at him, as if to say ‘Oh yeah?’
The Doctor almost seems to shake himself, and steps forward, his face carefully expressionless. In truth, he isn’t sure how he feels now that the Master is back. Best play it by ear, he thinks.
‘Master... such a good job that you left a back up copy when you left, don’t you think?’
The Master whirls back to face the Doctor. ‘Ah, you can speak! Wonderful! What fun we’re going to have! Now then, why don’t you introduce me to your little pets and then Ginger here and her little man can go and make some tea — cake would be nice too, dear, if you have it — and you and I can play catch up.’ He looks down at himself, and wiggles his toes, frowning. ‘Hmm — no shoes? Frightened that I might run away, Doctor?’ He grins disarmingly; but behind the facade, his eyes are cold and hard.
‘Hey, you — I have a name!’ Amy pushes past Rory to stand beside the Doctor. ‘And if you want tea you can make it yourself, you...psychopath!’
‘Amy...’ the Doctor puts one hand on her arm and touches a finger briefly to her lips. ‘You really don’t want to antagonise him.’
‘No, you don’t...’ The Master smiles. ‘I see that you’ve got one with some spunk this time, Doctor. Well done!’
‘Now stop it, the pair of you. Amy, Rory — a cup of tea all round would be very nice, if you don’t mind. Why don’t you go and make some while I lay down a few house rules for my guest, here?’
Amy pouts for a moment or two, but Rory comes to stand beside her and exert gentle pressure on her arm, pulling her away from the two Time Lords. She glances at him and then at the Doctor. ‘Oh, all right, I’ll go and make the bloody tea — but don’t think I’m making a habit of it!’ She flounces away, red hair bouncing behind her, and Rory follows her up the stairs.
‘What is it with you and the Earth girls, Doctor, hmm? And going for couples now, eh?’
‘Never mind them. What were you doing, skulking around during a pivotal point in England’s political history?’
‘Pivotal, was it? Really? Tell me more.... Doctor, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. The last thing I remember was dying in your arms, thanks to that bitch Lucy.’ His eyes narrow. ‘Where is she? You haven’t got her stashed away somewhere too, have you? Because if you have, there’s a thing or two I’d like to say to her...’
‘She’s dead, and well you know it.’
The Master’s eyebrows leap up his forehead. ‘Really? Well, I do hope it was painful. Pity though... I’d quite like to have seen the look on her face when she realises that I’ve come back from the d-dead....’ he suddenly shivers, and his face contorts for a second and then he grins again as if nothing has happened. ‘How did she die? Was it you? Or wait; it was the freak, wasn’t it?’
The Doctor gives him a puzzled look. ‘Sorry, not buying it. Although.... ah, of course, the back up memories would only go up to that point... a telepathic link to the Tardis via... what was it? The signet ring? Yes, of course, that’s how you did it! Ingenious, I have to say. But if you’re trying to tell me that you don’t remember the rest of it then I’m sorry, I don’t believe you.’ But what possible reason would he have to lie about that?
The Master stares at him through narrowed eyes. ‘Doctor, there is no ‘rest of it’, as you put it. That body died. Mmm, now I come to think of it, how do I look now? The voice is very similar, though, isn’t it...?’ He blinks. ‘And I still have the drums... well, I’ve grown rather fond of them, I suppose...’
Something starts to niggle at the corner of the Doctor’s thoughts; he pushes it down, firmly, and reaches up to the moveable scanner. Tapping in a series of commands on the keyboard underneath it, he turns it to towards the Master just as the readout changes to a reflective surface. ‘Check out the look, Master,’ he says quietly, and watches the other man’s face as he sees his own reflection. He doesn’t seem happy.
‘What?! What have you done, Doctor? This is...’
‘Harold Saxon, yes. So was the Master who died on the Valiant a clone, or the original? Which are you?’
‘No...It wasn’t meant to happen like that...!’ the Master’s face is very pale now, and he’s sweating rather profusely. The Doctor tries hard to keep the disappointment from his voice.
‘Actually, I think it was... but you don’t remember the explosion at Broadfell, or being captured by Naismith’s troops? Do you remember Rassilon?’
‘Rassilon...? What has he got to do with anything...’ the Master suddenly sways, and reaches for the edge of the console with which to steady himself. He winces, and holds a shaking hand up to his head. ‘My head... hurts...’ He staggers against the console, and the Doctor steps round it to steady him. His expression is mournful.
‘I’m sorry, Master... I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done this...’
‘What... are you talking... about, Doctor?’ the Master grinds out with an effort. ‘What’s wrong... with me?’
‘Technically speaking, it’s not what’s wrong with you that concerns me,’ the Doctor tells him, helping the Master to the seat at the edge of the flight deck.
‘Stop talking... in riddles!’
The Doctor puts one hand on the Master’s forehead and takes his pulse with the other. He sighs. ‘Meta-crisis, Master. That’s what I’m talking about. And you know what that means.’
A groan forces its way from the Master’s mouth and he shudders. ‘That’s impossible! I’m not...oh...’ he closes his eyes and swallows audibly. ‘Then why am I wearing Harold Saxon’s body? Answer that!’
The Doctor shrugs and shakes his head. ‘A sheer fluke. Or possibly, like me, there is a tiny smattering of human DNA in your lineage... just enough to give one of your regenerations more than a passing resemblance to his distant human ancestor... who knows?’
‘Don’t be ... ridiculous!’
The Doctor’s reply is lost when Amy and Rory reappear, Rory carrying a small tray holding four mugs of gently steaming tea; they both look startled to see a very pale Master being held more or less upright in the chair only by the Doctor, who looks worried.
‘What happened?’ Amy asks, looking for somewhere to put the tray down. She settles for the floor.
‘You were right, Amy.’
Amy does a theatrical double-take. ‘Excuse me; was that the sound of an apology?’
‘Yes, Pond, it was. Master, I think we had better resolve this situation as quickly and as painlessly as possible.’
‘No! I will not go back... uh...’ The Master’s face suddenly contorts in pain and he presses the palms of both hands to the sides of his head. ‘My mind...is burning...’
‘Hang on, have I missed something here?’ Rory appears at the Master’s elbow. ‘Look, I know who he is now, more or less — evil ex-Prime Minister alien who travelled back in time, yes?’ He swallows. ‘And I’m not condoning all those terrible things... but this man is very sick. His temperature must be at least...’
‘Yes, yes, I know all that. We need to take the Master’s mind out of Sexby’s body — a human brain can’t hold a Time Lord consciousness for too long; Edward will die if I don’t do this. Take his arms, please, and hold him tight.’ Rory doesn’t look happy, but he does as he’s asked, pulling the Master’s arms behind him and holding him very firmly.
The Doctor darts back to the console and a moment later the chameleon arch drops back down. Grabbing it, the Doctor brings it round behind the Master and deftly slides it onto his head. The chin strap locks into place and the Doctor touches it. ‘I’m sorry.’
The Master jerks his head backwards, almost breaking Rory’s nose. ‘No! No-no-no!’ He struggles, but he’s too consumed by fever and the breakdown of the Meta-crises to be very effective. Rory holds on tight; he can feel the waves of heat radiating from the Master’s body and he hopes that the Doctor will be quick.
‘I’m sorry,’ the Doctor says again as he presses the button. The Master screams, a blood-curdling sound which brings tears to the Doctor’s eyes. Rory shuts his eyes, and Amy looks away from the Master’s tortured expression. No one deserves this.
It’s over within minutes — the device releases, and the Master —no, Sexby, Rory reminds himself- slumps unconscious to the floor. Rory quickly kneels beside him and checks his pulse; it’s rapid, but begins to slow even as he counts. He looks up at the Doctor.
‘I think he’ll be okay,’ he tells him.
The Doctor doesn’t look relieved, or even pleased that they’ve just saved a man’s life — he looks bereft. ‘Good,’ he says quietly, and moves around the console. He doesn’t seem able to look at Sexby anymore, and after a moment’s aimless fiddling with the console, he sighs.
‘We should take him back,’ he says.
‘We should never have taken him in the first place,’ Amy says quietly, but she walks up to the Doctor and puts her hand on his arm. ‘I’m sorry that you lost him, Doctor,’ she says quietly. ‘I’m sure he must have been a good person, once....’
‘More than once, Pond, more than once... but yes, you are right and I was wrong and I should probably listen to you more than I do.’
‘Hmm. Now that could be kind of worrying... Doctor, what did you do with his clothes? I mean, we can’t really put him back wearing those, can we?’
‘Clothes...’ the Doctor seems bemused. ‘Oh, yes, I suppose... well, I imagine the Tardis will have repaired them by now... she usually does....’
‘I’ll check,’ Rory says. ‘Just keep an eye on him, will you?’ Rory has moved Sexby into the recovery position. ‘He’s sleeping but I don’t know how long he’ll be out for.’
‘Okay,’ Amy says, and perches herself on the chair beside the sleeping man. ‘So was this Mister Sexby really a Time Lord? I’m guessing not, but why did the Tardis bring us to him?’
‘I don’t know, Amy. Either she’d picked up on resemblance quite by chance, or there is a very distant connection... we’re all made of the same essential stardust, if you go back far enough.’
‘Okay... well what about Saxon, then. That was the Master, right?’
The Doctor nods. ‘Yes, that was him. Unfortunately.’
‘So where is he now, then?’
‘Most likely dead,’ he says quietly after a moment’s pause. ‘The last time we met, I... he was disintegrating. He saved my life, and most likely ended his taking revenge on... well, you don’t need to know about that.’
‘You haven’t searched for him, then?’
The Doctor bows his head. ‘No.’ He sighs. ‘I didn’t see any point in it — even if he is alive, I can’t reach him. He’s in a time lock.’
Amy looks at him sceptically. ‘Come off it — you’re the best lock picker I know! Are you telling me that you haven’t thought about it? Doctor?’ she nudges him when he doesn’t reply, and eventually he looks at her sideways.
‘Amy, I forbid you to speak of this to me ever again. It’s not possible, and even if it were, I would be doing a very bad thing were I to do it. He tried it —though it wasn’t really his fault- and it killed him. Probably. Ah, Rory...’ relieved to have a distraction, the Doctor grins hollowly at Amy’s husband as he returns, with his hands full of Sexby’s clothing. A couple of scabbards complete with swords dangle from his shoulder.
‘Can someone please take these from me? They weigh a ton...’
Edward Sexby groans, and rolls over as something cold and wet drips onto his face. He sits up with a start as he realises that the weather has turned inclement, and that the tree he’s lying under will not provide shelter for much longer. He must have succumbed to his wound... but then how is it, he muses as he puts a hand to his abdomen and feels no discomfort, that I am still alive? He pulls aside his shirt to see a healthy and healing scar. Another memorial to battle, he muses, and climbs stiffly to his feet. He looks at the sky and sees that a few hours have passed, but the light feels wrong, different... he shakes his head. He needs food and a proper shelter for the night...
The Doctor, Amy and Rory watch on the Tardis monitor as Sexby starts to skin the dead rabbit; believing himself to be unobserved and at home in his own environment, Sexby is deft and efficient at building a fire and a simple shelter from materials he finds easily in the forest. They’d watched as he’d woken up, pondered his sudden recovery and then located his tethered horse and the rabbit he must have killed earlier that day.
Amy claps a hand to her mouth to stifle a yelp of surprise (even though the Doctor has put the Tardis slightly out of sync with its surroundings,
rendering it invisible to Sexby, and he can’t possibly hear her) as three men creep up behind him and club him over the head. They string him up by his feet and hoist him high above the ground.
‘Doctor! We’ve got to do something!’ Amy begs. ‘They’re going to kill him.’
‘No they’re not... I told you, he doesn’t die for a good few years yet, Amy. Watch...’
A slight figure on horseback takes the three antagonists by surprise, wounding two of them. When the figure removes the scarf covering its face and Sexby’s rescuer is seen to be female, Amy punches the air and whoops with delight.
‘That’s my kind of woman!’ She cheers.
The Doctor and Rory look at each other.
‘Time to move on, I think,’ the Doctor says.