Liz Shaw put away her notes, checked that her current project was safe and snug and would keep over the weekend, hung up her lab coat, picked up her jacket and left. She had her weekend off for the whole of five minutes before she realised she had forgotten her bag and had to return for it. As she opened the door to her office, she was nearly run down by a man who didn’t stop and only mumbled a quick apology before he was gone. Liz sighed in irritation, she had recognized the red hair of Professor Armets at once. The Professor had taken up residence only a few months earlier and though undoubtedly brilliant, he also had an extremely condescending and superior manner, and a tendency to treat himself with other people’s possessions without asking first. She had known for some time he would one day make her lose her temper, and now, she felt, the time had come. He had no excuse to come into her office in the first place, and a quick look around told her he had helped himself to the very notes she had just worked on.
Yes, the time to tell him a few well-chosen words was definitely here. Liz would miss her bus, but she could not allow Professor Armets to pilfer other people’s work like this. Liz irritation made her heels clatter fast and loud against the floors, echoed even louder up a staircase, and she had time to see a glimpse of Professor Armet’s before his own office door closed on him. Liz was there in a few fast paces and didn’t bother to knock. The door flung open, and she was rewarded on seeing yet another door close on the Professor, this time to a utility cupboard.
The man was not only annoying; he was childish too if he thought he could hide from her in a cupboard. Liz caught the door just before it could close properly and wrenched it open. It was more difficult than expected; the door was heavy and moved slowly as if it really didn’t want to open. An odd, but somewhat familiar grinding noise filled the room, and the floor was suddenly not there. Liz hung on to the doorknob with both hands, meeting the surprised and annoyed glare of the Professor. He took hold of the doorway with one hand, and then actually tried to pry her hands away, despite her suddenly very precarious situation. Liz lost the grip with one hand, flailed desperately and took hold of the Professor’s arm instead. The cupboard lurched, for a terrible moment Liz thought they would both fall out, and then another lurch send them both inside, tumbling over each other, and then Liz knocked her head on something and the world went black.
When she opened her eyes again, the sound had stopped, and she also thought they had stopped moving. The Professor was standing by a console which must be what she had knocked her head against and was frantically pushing buttons and muttering under his breath. Liz looked around. The room didn’t look exactly as the Doctor’s TARDIS had done, but it was similar enough for her to realise it must be another one, even before Professor Armets gave her a furious glance and spoke.
“Stupid woman- you have damaged my TARDIS!”
Liz was about to relate the little fact he had been trying to push her out into a time-traveling void when she noticed something.
” Your face is slipping.”
A distinct crack was showing at Professor Armets right temple, and as he gingerly felt it, it cracked even further. He looked very dour.
“You could at least pretend to be properly upset.”
“Why should I? This is a TARDIS, so I assume you are a Time Lord, and that thing on your face is obviously a mask. Very well made, I must say, but still not particularly upsetting.”
He sighed and tugged carefully at the mask and the whole thing slipped off his head. Liz watched with interest, she would never have guessed it wasn’t the man’s real face before it had been damaged. But when the mask was fully removed and Professor Armets ruddy face and unruly red hair made way for an olive complexion with neat dark hair and beard she felt a twinge of fear. She was still attached to UNIT, and she read all the security briefs very carefully, and she easily recognised the Master.
He gave her a slight bow. “I see further introduction is unnecessary.”
Then he returned to his console, and for several minutes he continued working it, before giving up.
“It’s no good- she needs new parts.” He glowered at Liz again. “You realise you have got us stranded in the 17th century without a functional TARDIS?”
” You shouldn’t have tried to push me out then. I would have ended god knows where if you had managed.” She paused. “Wait, stranded in the 17th century?”
He nodded and patted the console with affection. “My TARDIS always gets herself where she can be repaired. We just have to find whatever it is she needs.”
He opened the door and then stepped back politely. “After you.”
Liz gave him a suspicious look. “Are you going to kill me as soon as I turn my back?”
“As tempting as that is I feel it would be counterproductive. You are rather clever despite being a human, and for the moment I think our chances to get out of this mess is better if we work together.”
“Fair enough. I promise not to kill you either, despite stealing my notes.”
The Master looked a bit surprised at her answer but opted to not retaliate, and Liz walked past him through the door.
Outside Liz looked around with curiosity. Her first impression was of being indoors, but a second glance around made her revise her impression slightly. Indoors, yes, but on a ship, not in a house. The space they had stepped out in was obviously some kind of storage room with several trunks standing along the walls, which was decorated in a functional manner with weapons of various and ancient design. The Master’s TARDIS, Liz noted, looked like an oak cupboard in the same style as the trunks. The Master saw her looking and said rather smugly.
“You notice that I keep my TARDIS chameleon circuit if a good working order.” He looked around, waving some kind of electronic devices and pointed at a casket in a corner. “That one, I think.”
The casket was looked, but the Master obviously had a talent for breaking into things and opened it quickly. It contained piles of paper, and after a quick search, he extracted a piece of parchment which looked remarkably like a treasure map covered with letters Liz assumed was in chiffre.
“A treasure hunt? Really?”
“In a sense. This was written by the Arkxedii, and I assume it will provide at least a clue to how to get my TARDIS in working order again.”
“My dear Miss Shaw- not even I are up to date to all codes and chiffres the universe provides. This will take a little while.”
He bent over the paper and Liz leaned closer too, even if the scribbles told her nothing. So engrossed they were they didn’t notice they had company until someone shouted at them
“Stowaways! A Spaniard and a half-naked wench!” Both Liz and the Master looked up in surprise. Several rough-looking men were staring at them from the doorway. Also, Liz noted with dismay, brandishing nasty-looking flintlock pistols in their general direction. She was suddenly and completely sure they hadn’t just gatecrashed a ship, but a pirate ship, manned, of course, with pirates.
“I beg your pardon!” The Master looked outraged. “I am certainly not Spanish!”
The men entered the room, the pistols now all pointing at the Master who prudently raised his hands, though he pocketed the parchment without being noticed first. Liz seemed to have been deemed harmless as the only thing the pirates threatened her with was several lecherous glances at her legs. Mini-skirts had not been fashionable in the 17th century.
“Well,” she said to the Master who, at the moment, made a very good impression of being meek and subdued. “Don’t just stand there. Aren’t you supposed to be a criminal mastermind and able to get out of dangerous situations with ease and flair?”
The Master coughed. He seemed slightly embarrassed. “Normally yes- but I usually take the precaution of having the upper hand, to begin with. And I may have been a trifle careless with my regenerations as I’m currently on my last one. Something I haven’t got round to rectify yet. If I get shot now I will, I’m afraid, die. And I’d like to point out my demise would leave you in this time period for good.”
Meaning, Liz realised, it would be up to her to do something. The pirates had been listening to the Master looking a bit confused, and at the moment Liz seemed forgotten. There was only one thing to do, she supposed. As a child she had not wanted to become a scientist; no, she had nurtured dreams of becoming a fearsome pirate queen. And though her parents had gently explained it was not a viable career anymore, they had let her take fencing lessons. And she had been good. Liz had won several championships, and she still kept up in her spare time. She took a deep breath and went for one of the swords hanging from a wall.
Perhaps because of her superior technique or because the pirates were unused to fencing women, but it was easier to fence the pirates into capitulation than expected. To be fair, she had good help from the Master who, as soon as no one looked at him anymore, took care to arm himself with a pistol and started to threaten the pirates closest to him.
“What do we do now? Liz whispered to the Master as they were hustled out on deck amidst loud cheers. Clearly, the pirates felt the best way to save face after having been defeated by a woman, was to have a party.
“Celebrate, I think”, the Master answered back. ” And tomorrow we will have a suitable vessel to take us wherever we want to go.”
“My dear Miss Shaw; we have been a bit too busy to make that out yet, don’t you agree? For now; I hope you like rum.”
Much, much later, after uncounted glasses of rum, Liz leaned into the Master and whispered. “You do realise that one this adventure, it is you who are the sidekick?”
The Master didn’t answer, but Liz noticed he downed his glass quickly and grabbed the bottle for a refill with perhaps more eagerness than the quality of the rum would call for.