I awoke in utter darkness, my head aching in a weird, pounding way. Slowly I sat up, groaning quietly and trying to remember what had happened and how I had gotten here.
Where even was I?
My hands fumbled around in the darkness, reaching nothing but the floor beneath me. Wood? There was a seam, another one. The material felt warm. Definitely some kind of wood. No walls. None I could reach from here, at least. Also, the fact that I was able to reach around meant my hands weren't tied together. Were my feet? No.
Carefully I lifted myself from the ground, always holding my hands over me, in case there was something I could bang my head against. It was so horribly dark... As soon as I stood, my head started to spin. There was no way to tell how wide the space around me was, no way to orient myself or to get my mind to keep its balance.
With a sigh I sat down again, tried to look at my hands. Was there really no light at all? Or...
I gulped, my heart suddenly pounding fast and painful in my chest. Had I gone blind? Had the Master done something to my eyes? The glasses on my nose were also missing.
Right, he had taken it, before sending me to sleep. Hypnotism? Was that why he had come so close and touched my head? I reached up, feeling for my temples as if it would do anything.
Well, there was nothing to gain from sitting around. Carefully I got to my knees and fumbled the ground in front of me, inching a little forward and repeated the process. If I was blind there could be an unseen drop right in front of me, and I wasn't in the mood to fall to my death.
I didn't get far, though. Probably one or two meters, at most, when my hand suddenly touched cloth. I poked whatever was in front of me.
"Stop that," someone hissed. "And be quiet."
"Master?" I asked perplex, keeping my voice low. The surprise vanished quickly, however, got replaced by annoyance and a little anger. "What did you do to me?"
I felt his hand on my arm and got dragged forward, falling against his shoulder. Inwardly I got myself ready to fight, but he didn't do anything else.
"Why can't I see?" I whispered, trying to ignore that he still held my arm. Somewhat clumsy I sat down next to him, shoulder to shoulder.
"Because it's dark, duh!" he hissed back, his eye-roll practically audible.
Alright. At least something.
From nearby there were steps, coming closer and closer. The Master tensed and his hand snapped to my mouth to prevent me from making any noise. Not that I had intended to, unknowing as I was. If there was something dangerous outside, I sure as hell didn't want it to eat me!
The steps halted right in front of whatever place they were in. Time stretched to a small eternity, the silence making my heartbeat appear unbelievably loud. It took me a second to realize I was clutching the Master's sleeve with both hands, but I couldn't bring myself to let go just yet. Only when the steps proceeded and eventually vanished did I unclench my fists and let out a breath.
A chuckle resounded through the dark. "Really, you should be more afraid of me than anything else."
"Better the devil you know..." I muttered and relaxed a little.
My response brought out another chuckle and I felt him move away, getting to his feet and doing something. A strip of blindingly bright light flooded the room, made me flinch and hold an arm over my eyes.
"Don't make fuss, human. And come quick, before the Doctor is back."
"The..." I took my arm down and blinked a few times to get used to the light. It wasn't that bright, actually. A quick look back with squinted eyes also revealed we had been in some completely empty room. Not even windows. That really made me wonder what its purpose might be. "Just now... that was the Doctor?" I tried again, barely able to wrap my head around this.
"Yes, now shut it and come." The Master roughly grabbed my wrist and dragged me out.
Now that there was light again I felt how much I missed my glasses. Being extremely short-sightened doesn't necessarily mean you automatically run into everything, it's not a blurry filter over the world, like you see in movies. You still have a full 3D vision and can make out shapes and what is nearer and what is farther away; but none of it is really sharp and it's impossible to read anything.
"Can I have my specs?" I dared to ask. It was more annoying than anything else without, my eyes constantly squinting like a reflex to see a little better.
"If you behave," the Master quipped.
Our way lead through a weird corridor. Its walls were hexagonal in shape, the material varying from dark woods to glaringly white plastic, grey metal and sometimes even things like red crystal... or was that glass? It all was weirdly familiar.
"Isn't that the TARDIS?" I concluded after a while, remembering the only short trip I had into the insides. "How big is this ship? I mean... dimension. Or whatever. Where is it even?"
"Where's what?" the Master absently asked, appearing as if he was concentrating on something. Maybe on finding the right way.
"This dimension. The blue box moves around and is a portal to here, isn't it?"
He stopped and gave me a look, then shook his head and continued the way, still holding my wrist. By now he had loosened his grip, though, not causing me pain any longer.
"It's inside the box. I don't suspect your meagre brain to comprehend it."
"Huh... cool," I mumbled.
The Master turned his head to me, this time with a curious enough look that even I could make it out.
"What?" I made puzzled. "It's not as if you're going to explain it to me, are you? And besides... humans aren't even capable of proper space travel, so how would one like me understand any of this?" My voice got sadder the more I talked and I glanced at my feet.
"What do you know, then?" he drawled, sounding exceptionally bored. "What have you learned in your little unknowing human life?"
At that I stayed silent. We reached a new area that was made of dark, polished wood, giving the corridor a somewhat foreboding look. The Master snickered.
"Go on," he mocked, "impress me with your knowledge."
"I... don't have any," I mumbled. "No one ever gave me the chance to learn anything useful."
With a cold lump in my stomach I remembered all the years I had spent trying to get an apprenticeship somewhere. Anywhere. But as soon as people met me in person it always ended the same way... Humans just don't like weird people.
The grip around my wrist got stronger, his fingers digging into my skin a little. Suddenly he hissed and let go of me so unexpected I almost bumped into him. The Master pushed a hand against my shoulder to prevent it, his face close enough I could see his eyes somewhat, now dark and angry, but... not at me?
"Wh... what is it?"
His hand left my shoulder and he took a step back before he almost hurled around to stride away so fast I had difficulties following, for a moment.
"Humans are disgusting," he mumbled to himself.
"And there you wonder why I want to get away from them," I uttered as quiet as he had.
The Master huffed. "That includes you."
"Yah... I know. An autistic brain sadly isn't enough to count as different species," I joked. "Although people certainly treat one that way."
There was some sort of low growl coming from his direction as he lead us to a set of fine wooden doors.
"So, that's what I saw?" he asked while peeking inside a few rooms, only to pull his head out immediately again and stride to the next.
"Saw? What do you mean?"
He waved a hand in my direction, nose vanished behind another door. "Skin contact. I held you. Saw some snippets. Nothing distinct. But..." He slammed the door shut, scrunched up his nose and regarded me with another look I couldn't decipher. "Felt like you don't have a single positive memory."
Perplex I glared at him, for a variety of reasons. Too many at once for my mind to put it all in order. I blinked a few times, but it was no help.
"You... saw my memories because you held my wrist?" I tried.
He was again looking into another room and I gathered a quick glance inside, squinting my eyes almost completely shut to see what was there. It was tiny, not more than a broom cabinet, but filled with a collection of spider webs. Not just any. Some were quadratic, some even three-dimensional, others glowed purple in the dark and some glittered as if one had strewn some fairy dust over them. It seemed as if someone was collecting those in here. And maybe they were something else entirely. It was hard to tell.
"Time Lords have an affinity for touch telepathy," he explained, what surprised me. The smug tone in his voice, however, gave away why he bothered to explain anything at all to me. "I am one of the best among them."
Alright, telepathy. Then again, he also could hypnotize people, as far as I had gathered. So maybe their kind simply possessed such traits. After all, they were still aliens.
"Any kind of skin contact works," he went on, searching room after room. "But the temples are usually the most direct way to another mind."
Immediately it brought back the memory of our last encounter, of how close he had gotten and...
"Oh," I made. "That's what you wanted from me..."
"Can't hypnotize you directly, so I thought..." He paused, eyeing me. "Why the heck do you look so relived now?" His lips pursed visibly. "Humans are almost not psychic at all, it should scare the crap out of you!"
"A... am I?" I hadn't noticed my expression changing. "Uh, well... I mean... err..."
"What?" He spat.
Why was it so important for him to scare me, I wondered. And then the refusal to regard any personal space.
"Just don't like people so close," I mumbled and watched my shoes, absently detecting that the floor was a weird greyish rubber material. "I already had people act on me like you did... and I thought..." I shook my head. "Well, forget it. What are you even searching here?"
The low chuckle told he was satisfied with himself. Of course he was.
"Oh, so there is something you fear more than death?" he concluded happily. "When I was about to kill you, you afterwards just snuggled up on me like an annoying cat!" he spat with a scowl, that vanished quickly as he stepped closer to tower over me with a now wicket grin. "You don't like me so close?" The Master leaned down a little. "Why? It's not because you fear I might take your life, isn't it?"
I swallowed and contemplated taking a step back. Not that it would help. He could simply follow. Instead I shyly looked him in the eyes. Such swirling depths. So ancient and cruel.
"I... thought you wanted to..." my voice faded to an almost whisper, "... rape me..."
He blinked. Once. Twice. Then he scrunched up his nose in visible contempt and stood straight. "Don't be disgusting, ape. Who'd dirty themselves with vermin such as your kind?" The Master shivered dramatically to make his point clear.
I let out a breath and relaxed. Meanwhile he opened another door. "Where the hell did that bloody ship hide the room?" he grumbled annoyed and looked up into the air. "I'm not going to apologize for the Paradox Machine!"
A weird little hum was the only answer.
"That... might not help," I mumbled, earning myself a dark growl.
The Master rubbed the bridge of his nose, looked at the air again and pointed at me. "How about you get me where I need to go and I won't harm this human?"
Another hum and a soft bristling as if from electricity now was palpable. A second later a path of golden light appeared on the ground, pulsating in an almost annoyed manner. The Master chuckled.
"Good old girl, maybe I'll be nice to you for a while."
"Where are we going?" I wanted to know.
He regarded me with a huff, as if even speaking to me was below his dignity. But then something changed. I sensed it more than anything else, some weird shift in the way he felt. I couldn't place the feeling, though. The Master took a step closer and reached out for me. When I instinctively twitched back, he stilled, slowed, but then reached further and grabbed my hand, this time, only to drag me along again.
"I need a place to hide you from him."