A difficult test for Kate

by ElsieMcC [Reviews - 0]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Mystery

The school nurse came out of the sick bay and consulted her list.

“Katherine Lethbridge Stewart?”

With an inward sigh at her full name, Kate said, “Yes,” and got up from her chair.

The nurse smiled and said, “in you go! No need to be nervous, it won’t take long.”

Kate hadn’t been feeling particularly nervous, but didn’t think she should say so. Instead, she walked calmly into the sick bay. The child who was waiting for his turn after her looked on in anticipation and curiosity. Today was the day when the class would be tested to see if they were colour blind, and a certain amount of speculation had taken place as to how this would actually be done. As it turned out, the test was disappointingly mundane, but an event that involved the whole year group was still something to make the most of.

The curtains had been drawn in the sick bay and in the dim light Kate could see a man sitting on a chair near a desk, where a piece of equipment had been set up. An empty chair had been pulled up to the desk.

The man looked at the list he had beside him and said, “Ah, Katherine, come in, my dear. Do sit down, this won’t take long.”

As he spoke, Kate felt a prickle of dislike rise in her mind. She wasn’t sure why, but there was something about this man that grated on her nerves. His voice was friendly, so were his words, but there was something about him that made Kate want to stay as far away from him as she could. There wasn’t anything she could do about that feeling, though, so Kate sat down and pulled the chair up so she was closer to the desk. The man stood up and turned a switch on the side of the machine. Kate looked sideways at him. He wasn’t especially tall, but somehow, he seemed to loom over her. He had dark hair, greying at the temples, swept back from his forehead and a dark goatee beard, (Kate had recently learned the term ‘goatee’ and was obscurely glad to be able to apply it.) He was wearing a dark suit with a white lab coat over it, and he had dark framed glasses, which he had taken off while he worked the machine.

“Now, Katherine,” he said. “I want you to look at the colours and tell me if you can see a number in the pattern. If you can see one, tell me which number it is. You understand?”

“Yes,” replied Kate.

“Good, now, look into the box and I’ll show you the first pattern.”

Kate followed the instruction, and saw a round pattern of coloured dots, with a number 2 picked out in a contrasting shade.

“Two,” she said.

“Excellent!” the man remarked, turning the switch to reveal another pattern. As the nurse had said, the test didn’t last long. Some of the numbers were more difficult to identify than others, but Kate managed to find them all.

“Very good,” said the man as Kate sat back and rubbed her eyes, which were tired from staring at the light. “Now,” he went on, pulling up his chair next to Kate and taking an optician’s lens out of the pocket of his lab coat, “I just need to have a quick look in your eyes. So just turn towards me and look at me. Straight into my eyes.”

The man’s voice seemed to have taken on a strange echo. Kate turned, as instructed, but her instinct was, once again, telling her that she shouldn’t be anywhere near this man. She raised her eyes to his face, her hands clasped in her lap to stop them shaking.

“Good. Excellent. Now Katherine, we are going to become very good friends, you and I. I am the Master, and you will obey me.”

At that moment it was if a switch had gone off in Kate’s head. She felt as if this man, the Master, could see right inside her mind. But there was something else. Right at the back, where Kate kept her most private thoughts, a little voice said ‘he’s trying to hypnotise you! Don’t let him! Remember what the Doctor said!”

A little while ago, when Kate had visited UNIT HQ, Jo Grant had mentioned hypnosis to the Doctor. The Doctor had talked about it a bit, how different people used different methods to hypnotise others, some used a shiny thing, like a watch or a necklace, some could just use their eyes and the strength of their personality. The Doctor had used the word “charisma” which Kate hadn’t really understood. Then the Doctor had talked about how to resist being hypnotised.

“Now, young Kate," he had said, "if anyone tries to hypnotise you, the best thing you can do is to distract your mind, so they can’t get hold of it. If you can say something over and over again, either out loud, or in your head, it will keep your mind busy and away from their influence. It could be anything, a nursery rhyme, or just a sentence, or even your own name, over and over again. Remember that, you never know when it might come in useful.”

Kate had made notes, as she always did when she was visiting the Doctor, but his advice had already lodged itself in her brain. So, as the Master bent closer and looked into her eyes, in her head Kate began to repeat to herself the first nursery rhyme that came to mind.

“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey…”

“Can you hear me, Katherine?”

“Yes,” replied Kate, while thinking “along came a spider and sat down beside her and…”

“I need you to fetch something for me, from UNIT headquarters. Will you do that for me?”

“Yes and frightened Miss Muffet away. Little Miss Muffet...”

“I will give you a picture of it. It will be in the Doctor’s laboratory.”

“eating her curds and whey…”

“When you have found it, you must bring it to me. I will meet you.”

“and frightened Miss Muffet away… Yes.”

“Good. Here is the picture. I have put it on the desk. When I tell you, you will take the picture and put it in your pocket. You will then forget that I have spoken to you until you reach UNIT. Do you understand?”

“Yes …along came a spider…”

“Take the picture, Katherine.”

Kate picked up the picture, folded it and put it in her pocket. When she had done this, the Master stood up and pulled back the curtain, saying, “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Kate blinked in the daylight. She looked at the Master questioningly and he said, “Yes, all done, off you go!” so she got off the chair and walked out of the room. The Master smiled as she left. This was an angle of attack that nobody would be expecting, not even the Doctor.

As Kate left the sick bay, she heard the nurse call the name of one of her classmates, who was the last on the list. Not really sure where she should go, and feeling small and frightened, Kate sat down on a chair and clasped her hands together in her lap, looking down at them as if they were strange to her. When she had seen the next pupil safely into the office, the nurse came over and knelt down next to Kate.

“Is everything alright?” she asked.

“Yes, thank you,” replied Kate, almost inaudibly, “it’s, the lights were a bit bright.”

The nurse looked at Kate’s pale face and said, “You do look a bit peaky.” She looked up at the clock above the sick bay door, then stood up and said, “it’s not worth you going back to class now, come and sit in my office and I’ll get you a glass of water.”

“Thank you,” said Kate, following the nurse into the office, where she was ushered to a large armchair and given a glass of water to sip. Kate held the glass carefully, she was feeling shaky still, and thought about what had just happened. She didn’t know who the Master was, but clearly, he was an enemy of the Doctor. Kate shuddered. She wasn’t going to steal this thing, whatever it was, but she wondered what would happen when she didn’t. Trying to reassure herself, Kate took another sip of water. The Doctor would know, she thought, he would be able to tell her what she should do. Or Dad, Dad would know. The bell for the end of school interrupted her thoughts. Heartened by the reminder that there were people on her side, Kate put the glass down, thanked the nurse politely, then went out to the school gates. Among the parents waiting to meet their children, Kate spotted Jo Grant, the Doctor’s assistant at UNIT. Jo smiled and waved and Kate smiled in return. Jo was a very reassuring person and her smile was irresistible. Kate began to feel less shaky and a bit more like herself. She ran over to Jo, who said,

“Hello Kate, ready to go?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“My turn to give you a ride today,” said Jo, smiling down at her young friend.

“Yes, I knew that Mummy couldn’t meet me because of having to go and see Auntie Maureen.”

“Right, well, you can come and see us for a bit instead,” said Jo cheerfully, opening the passenger door of her car for Kate to get in. Sitting in the front seat was a rare treat, and Kate enjoyed the drive to UNIT HQ in Jo’s Mini. When they drew up in the carpark outside HQ, Kate became serious again. She felt the drawing in her blazer pocket and took it out.

“What’s that?” asked Jo.

“I don’t know,” replied Kate. She was silent for a moment, then she turned to face Jo and said,

“Something really strange happened at school. I need to tell the Doctor about it. Is he here?”

Wondering what on earth could have happened, Jo tried to hide her concern and said with as much of her usual cheerfulness as she could,

“Yes, he’ll be in his lab as usual. Do you want to see him now, or have your tea first?”

Usually a meal in the UNIT canteen would have been irresistible, the strangeness of the setting and the difference of the food to what was usually served at home making it an exciting place for a child. Today, however, Kate said she would rather see the Doctor, so Jo went with her along the corridor to the lab. When they entered, the Doctor was doing some calculations on the blackboard, scribbling with the chalk and then impatiently scrubbing out some of the scribbles with the side of his hand and replacing them with new ones. He didn’t hear the door opening, so Jo cleared her throat and said, “Doctor,” at which he turned round, still distracted.

On seeing Kate he smiled and said, “Well, Miss Lethbridge Stewart, and how was school today?”

When Kate didn’t answer, he looked more closely at her and asked, “Kate? What is it, my dear?”

Kate flattened out the picture the Master had given her, and gave it to the Doctor. He looked at it in astonishment.

“But, where did you get this?” he asked.

Having had a bit of time to compose herself, Kate told him about the Master, and the attempt at hypnosis and how she was supposed to steal the thing in the picture from the laboratory. When she spoke about trying to resist the Master’s hypnosis, Kate lifted her chin defiantly and the Doctor smiled inwardly at a small girl defying the Master. His outward expression remained serious, though, and grew more serious as she went on. When Kate had finished her story, Jo bent down to hug her, while looking at the Doctor in horror.

“How could he?” she asked.

“Well, one thing you should know about the Master by now, Jo, is that he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Though I must say, I didn’t expect this from him.”

The Doctor paced up and down the lab, his hand on his chin. Kate and Jo watched him as he walked, until Kate asked, “What should I do?”

The Doctor stopped and looked at her and said, “The first thing you should do is sit down. No, (as he looked at Kate’s hurt expression) I’m not joking. You’ve had a very unpleasant experience and it has worn you out. Sit down and we will talk it over. Perhaps, Jo, you could call the canteen for some refreshments?”

“Of course,” said Jo, going over to the telephone.

Once Kate was sitting down, the Doctor pulled a chair over and sat down next to her.

“That’s better,” he said. “Now. We need a strategy. The Master is expecting you to deliver this circuit to him. He didn’t say where, or when?”

“No, he only said he would meet me. I don’t know how he would do that, unless he came to school again, I don’t usually go out by myself.”

“Very wise.”

“Doctor, what is the thing he wants?”

“It’s part of the mechanism that works the TARDIS, Kate. The Master is a Time Lord, like me and he also has a TARDIS.”

“Oh, but you said yours didn’t work?”

“No more it does, but some of the parts are still functional. And it’s one of these that the Master wishes you to steal.”

Jo put in, “The Doctor once swapped a part of his TARDIS with the Master’s so the Master’s wouldn’t work, but the Master got it back. I suppose another part must have broken and he wants to replace that.”

“Oh,” said Kate, not especially enlightened. She knew that the police call box in the corner of the laboratory was the Doctor’s TARDIS, but she hadn’t really thought too hard about what that meant. She had accepted the Doctor’s alien origins without comment, though she hadn’t really believed in them until she had begun to meet other, less benevolent extra-terrestrials. Now, it seemed that there was something inside the police box that the Master wanted. Kate looked at the box, considering it as if she was seeing it for the first time. Despite everything she had been told, it really didn’t seem likely that the Doctor had used it to travel through time and space. The Doctor smiled as he watched her thinking. A knock at the door heralded an attendant from the canteen with cocoa and sandwiches and the Doctor declared that they should pause to eat and then get back to the matter in hand, “once we have refuelled.”

Jo watched Kate surreptitiously as she ate. She was relieved to see some colour returning to the schoolgirl’s cheeks, although she still looked worried. Once they had eaten and Kate had slurped the last dregs of cocoa from the bottom of her mug, the Doctor stood up and pulled a watch on a chain from his pocket.

“Now, Kate,” he said, “you’ve already been very brave today, but I’m going to ask you to be brave again. I want to have a look at your mind, to make sure the Master hasn’t left anything nasty in there. Will you let me do that?”

Kate shivered, but then raised her eyes to the Doctor’s and said, “yes.”

“Thank you, Kate. I will be as quick as I can. Now, just look at my watch, follow it with your eyes, that’s right.”

The Doctor swung the watch to and fro on the chain and Kate watched it, not trying to resist. She could feel her eyelids becoming heavier as the Doctor quietly told her that she wanted to sleep. She did, more than anything in the world. Kate closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she found the Doctor looking at her, as well as her father, who looked both concerned and angry.

“Dad!” said Kate, stretching out her arms.

The Brigadier hugged his daughter, lifting her off the chair while saying, “Oof! You’re getting a bit big to be picked up, lassie.”

Kate tightened her grip, not wanting to let go of him. The Brigadier sat down and pulled her onto his lap. He looked at the Doctor.

“Well, Doctor?” he asked.

The Doctor smiled at Kate. “There’s nothing nasty lurking in there, Kate. You did a very good job of resisting the Master.”

“Oh good,” replied Kate.

The Brigadier looked sternly at the Doctor.

“The next time you want to hypnotise my daughter, Doctor, I’d appreciate if you’d tell me first.”

For once the Doctor looked contrite.

“I am sorry,” he said, quietly, “but I had to make sure.”

“Humph. Well now you have, what are we going to do?”

The Doctor was silent for a moment, then he said, “As I see it, there are three possibilities. Firstly, we do nothing. Kate doesn’t deliver the circuit. The Master realises that his hypnosis has failed, or been removed. Secondly, we give him the circuit. He completes his repairs and leaves the Earth.”

The Brigadier shifted Kate slightly and said, “or?”

“Or, we give him a circuit, but it’s sabotaged. We then follow him to his TARDIS and arrest him.”

“When you say ‘we’…” said the Brigadier, frowning.

“I’m sorry,” said the Doctor again. “If he is not to suspect us, the circuit must be delivered by Kate.”

The Brigadier’s frown deepened.

“Look, Doctor,” he said, “I want to see the Master brought to justice as much as you do, but involving Kate…”

“I know,” replied the Doctor.

Kate spoke up for herself, “I don’t know when the Master will come and get the circuit. How will you know where to find him to follow him?”

The Doctor began to pace again, then stopped.

“That’s the question. How will he be able to meet Kate without drawing attention to himself?”

Jo had been considering this. She said, “He pretended to be an eye specialist, perhaps he will do that again.”

“Come back to the school, you mean?” said the Brigadier.

“Hmm,” the Doctor was musing again. “Yes, that does seem the most likely theory.”

The Brigadier put Kate gently off his lap and stood up.

“Well,” he said, “whatever tactic we decide on, and my preference would be for the first, I must call my wife.”

The Doctor nodded, but said nothing. Leaving Kate in the laboratory with the Doctor and Jo, the Brigadier went to his office to make what he knew would be a difficult phone call.

Fiona Lethbridge Stewart was, predictably, horrified when she heard what her husband had to report.

“So, a criminal cons his way into our daughter’s school and tries to hypnotise her, and the Doctor is actually suggesting that we let her meet him again? Alistair, I can’t believe you would even think that such a thing...”

“My dear, of course I don’t. I don’t want Kate to have anything to do with this,” replied the Brigadier wearily, “but the Doctor...”

“Bother the Doctor! You’ve all got a job to do, I understand that, but not at the expense of our daughter’s safety. And you may tell the Doctor that, with my compliments!”

The Brigadier sighed, and Fiona's tone softened a little. “I’m sorry Alistair. But dealing with criminals is your job, not mine and not Kate’s.”

“Yes, yes of course. I’m sorry too, my dear. We’ll try and find another way.”

“Please do.”

“We will. Now,” said the Brigadier, changing the subject, “how’s Maureen?”

“Oh, you know, the usual disasters. She has asked me to stay tonight, but I thought... will you be able to take Kate home?”

The Brigadier frowned, “I could, but I wouldn’t be able to stay. We could keep her here, though.” (Kate had occasionally spent the night at UNIT before, sleeping on a camp bed in a room off her father’s office, and a set of children’s pyjamas and a bright blue toothbrush were some of the more surprising contents of the Brigadier’s desk.)

“Oh, very well. I suppose she’ll be as safe there as anywhere. I’ll see her tomorrow, and you too I hope.”

“Yes,” the Brigadier had another thought, “about school tomorrow...”

“I’d really rather she didn’t go, after today.”

“I agree...”

the Brigadier paused as the door open and Kate came in. He put out his hand and Kate came and stood by his side. The Brigadier put his arm around his daughter and said into the phone,

“Ah, there’s someone else here who would like a word,” then handed the receiver to Kate.

“Mummy?”

“Katie! Darling, Dad told me what has happened, are you alright?”

“Yes,” said Kate, “I think so. Are you coming home tonight?”

“I’m sorry, darling, but I’m not. You’ll be staying with Dad at HQ.”

“Oh, OK,” replied Kate, torn between disappointment at not seeing her mother and excitement at staying at UNIT for the night.

“Now,” said her mother, “I don’t think you should go to school tomorrow, in case that man comes back again.”

“Oh, but...”

“Kate,” said Fiona in a warning tone, “this man is a problem for your father and the Doctor to deal with, not you.”

“OK,” replied Kate.

“Right. Now, I’ll see you tomorrow, be a good girl and don’t get up to mischief.”

“I won’t.”

“Bye bye, Darling, can I speak to Dad?”

“Yes, bye bye.”

Kate handed the receiver back to her father, who said,

“Hello? Yes, dear, yes, I’ll call them in the morning. Goodbye”

Kate looked at her father nervously and asked, “Am I not going to school tomorrow?”

“I don’t think so, I’ll call them and tell them you aren’t well.”

Kate’s expression was still nervous, partly because she wasn’t sure she liked the idea of her father lying to the school, but also because of the Doctor and what he had said about the Master and the piece of equipment she was supposed to have stolen. The Brigadier smiled at his daughter and kissed her.

“For the time being, though, we’d better get you sorted out for the night. It must be very nearly your bedtime by now. Did you bring a book?”

“Yes,” Kate was rarely without something to read and had a storybook in her satchel.

“Good, we’ll go to the canteen and have some dinner and then you can get into bed and read. How does that sound?”

Kate tried to smile and almost managed it. “OK.”

“Come on then.”

The Brigadier stood up. He and Kate went to the canteen, where Kate was greeted with friendly words from the soldiers. Fiona was insistent that her daughter should not be, as she put it, a regimental mascot, but the members of the Brigadier’s team had a soft spot for their CO’s daughter, as was shown in the warmth of their greetings. Kate forgot her worries temporarily and blushed, then sat down with her father for their evening meal. The meatloaf, mashed potatoes and overdone green beans drew some grumbles from the soldiers, but Kate enjoyed it nonetheless, especially as it was followed by the kind of stodgy, jammy pudding with custard that she rarely had elsewhere. After the meal she was packed off to get ready for bed, and her father put up the camp bed and saw his daughter safely installed, before going to the laboratory to talk to the Doctor. Kate opened her book and tried to concentrate on the story. The camp bed was reasonably comfortable, but still very different to her own, and she missed the presence of Horace, her teddy bear. Looking up at the open door to her father’s office, Kate sighed, then looked down at her book and tried again.

The Doctor was pacing again. The Brigadier was leaning against the work bench and watching him, arms folded.

Eventually the Doctor stopped and said, “And that’s your final word?”

“Yes,” replied the Brigadier. “Kate will have no further involvement in this matter. It’s for us to deal with the Master, not her. We are keeping her off school tomorrow, in case he comes back and, as far as I’m concerned, he can whistle for that wretched circuit.”

The Doctor frowned. “Very well,” he said, “but I doubt the Master will give up that easily. If he has decided to get hold of this circuit, he will keep trying until he manages it, or until we catch him.”

“What’s so special about it anyway?” asked the Brigadier. “Can’t he just repair the one he’s already got?”

“It depends on how badly it’s damaged,” replied the Doctor. “The Master is a skilled technician, but some of the substances used to make these circuits aren’t available on Earth. If he needs to replace a part made from one of those substances, well, stealing the circuit from me would be his only option or he’d be stuck here...”

The Doctor’s voice trailed off and the Brigadier knew that the Time Lord was thinking of his own exile on Earth.

In order to bring him back to the matter in hand, the Brigadier said, “What do you think he will do when he doesn’t get it?”

“I don’t know, Brigadier, that’s the trouble. I suppose there is always a chance he might try and get it himself from the lab, but surely even the Master wouldn’t walk into the lion’s mouth. Unless...”

“Unless?”

“Unless we can use it to lure him here,” said the Doctor, his hand once more on his chin.

“Well,” said the Brigadier, “we will have to stand ready for anything. I’ll be in my office if you need me.”

“Hmm. What? Oh yes, thank you Brigadier.”

The Doctor was looking at his blackboard again, his mind far away. The Brigadier left him and went back to his office. He looked through the door to the side room and saw that, as he had hoped she would, Kate had fallen asleep over her book. The book was on the floor, where it had fallen from her hand, and one of her arms was hanging over the edge of the bed. Her father crossed the floor as quietly as he could and picked up the book, placing it on the chair near the bed that was serving as a bedside table, then he gently lifted her arm and moved it so it was resting on the bed. Kate stirred, but didn’t wake. The Brigadier murmured, “Sleep well, lassie,” then went out, closing the door gently behind him.

The next day, Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart had arrived at UNIT HQ and collected Kate, who seemed none the worse for her experiences of the previous day, if a little quieter than usual. The Brigadier waved them off, then went back into the building to get back down to work. Even without the threat of the Master, there was plenty to occupy the Commanding Officer of UNIT.

In the office, the school secretary looked up at the man who was standing by her desk and said, “No, I’m sorry, Mr... er... (she was sure that the eye specialist had told her his name, she just couldn’t quite remember it) but Katherine is absent today.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” replied her visitor, “I wanted to run a follow up test after yesterday. Nothing to be concerned about, you understand, purely a precaution.”

“I see, well, I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you when she will be back.”

“No, no of course,” said the Master. He walked away from the desk, pretending to consult his appointment book, while his mind worked on this difficulty. Was Kate really ill? He doubted it. Presumably the Doctor had somehow managed to detect the hypnotic programming and remove it. Meddling fool. It didn’t occur to the Master that Kate might have been able to resist his attempts to hypnotise her, no, it must have been the Doctor. So, now UNIT would know about the circuit and be ready for him. At least, they would be ready for him at headquarters. The Master looked at the secretary and smiled. He came back over to the desk and leaned forward until he was looking directly into the secretary’s eyes. She recoiled but, as he held her gaze, she relaxed, her eyes glazing over as if she was staring into the middle distance.

“Now,” said the Master, “you will find the address of one of your pupils and you will give it to me.”

“Yes, I will find an address and give it to you.”

“And once you have done that, you will forget that this conversation ever took place.”

“Yes.”

The secretary unlocked the drawer of her desk where the pupils’ home addresses and telephone contact numbers were kept. The Master smiled again. If the Doctor thought he would be lured to UNIT HQ after the attempt to use Kate failed, he was sorely mistaken.

Once they got home, Kate and her mother spent a quiet morning together. Fiona, understandably, didn’t want her daughter out of her sight for long, and Kate was happy enough to curl up in an armchair with Horace and read while she and her mother listened to the radio.

When the midday news came on, Fiona switched the radio off and said, “Time for lunch?”

Kate nodded eagerly, “Yes, please, do you want me to come and help?”

Her mother smiled, “No thank you, darling, I’ll give you a call when its ready.”

“OK.” Kate nestled back down in the armchair, and Fiona went through to the kitchen to prepare their meal.

As she opened the kitchen cupboard, she thought she heard a noise from the front of the house. Fiona paused and listened, but could hear nothing, so shrugged and carried on making the sandwiches, then rinsed some tomatoes and cucumber and poured out drinks, milk for Kate and fruit juice for her. Fiona set out the lunch on the kitchen table and went to the kitchen door.

“Kate!” she called, “lunch is ready.”

There was no response. Fiona was puzzled, Kate did have a tendency to bury herself in books, but she usually answered when she was called, especially as she would have been expecting the summons to lunch. Fiona waited a moment then tried again, “Kate, darling, lunch is ready,” but again there was no sound of footsteps or any reply. Puzzled and unnerved, Fiona went back to the sitting room. The scene that met her eyes when she opened the door made her freeze on the threshold. The largest of the front windows was open, as were the French doors to the back garden. Horace and Kate’s book were on the floor, and Kate was nowhere to be seen.
Fiona Lethbridge Stewart stood for a moment, her hand to her mouth, then walked into the room. She picked up the bear and the book, and noticed absently that the tartan motoring rug was missing from the end of the sofa. A bamboo table that stood close to the chair where Kate had been sitting had been tipped over and the remains of Kate’s morning cocoa were soaking into the carpet. Fiona righted the table and picked up the mug, almost in a daze. She went to the bottom of the stairs and called for Kate, then ran up the stairs and did the same. She looked out over the garden, but her daughter was not there. Finally, she came back down to the sitting room and looked at the open window, leaning out so she could examine the frame. The white paintwork was marked, she could see clear patches where the paint had been scraped away by something sharp. For a moment, Fiona sat down and put her head in her hands, but then she stood up and went to the telephone. While she waited for an answer, she looked at her watch and was amazed to see that only five minutes had passed since she had called to Kate from the kitchen. After what felt like hours, she got an answer,

“UNIT Headquarters, Brigadier Lethbridge...”

“Alistair!”

“Fiona, what is it, what’s the matter?”

“Alistair, Kates gone.”

When her mother had left to get the lunch ready, Kate had curled back up in her chair and returned to her book. Horace was wedged in beside her, his beady eyes apparently fixed on the pages. It was an exciting story; Biggles and his friends had been falsely accused of murdering a gold prospector and an angry mob had gathered outside the building where they had taken shelter. Buried in the adventure, Kate didn’t notice the French door opening at the back of the room. A sudden noise from outside the front window made her look up, however, just in time to see the window being pushed open and figure in dark clothes climb in. Kate gasped, then tried to scream, but a gloved hand covered her mouth, while another gripped her wrists. Kate struggled wildly to try and free herself, but the person holding her was too strong for her. The man who had come in through the window looked at his colleague, then, receiving a nod of confirmation, took the rug from the sofa and spread it out on the floor. Almost before she knew what was happening, Kate was lifted out of the chair and onto the rug, then wrapped round closely in the thick material, which stifled her cries and impeded her movements, though she continued to struggle. One of the men climbed out of the window and the other passed the squeaking, wriggling bundle to him, then climbed out himself.

As they walked quickly down the drive, the first man bent forward and said in a sharp whisper, “Put a sock in it, kid, do you want him to drop you? Because we aren’t fussed if you get there in one piece or not!”

At this, Kate stopped struggling. She was beginning to feel light headed and the pattern of the rug was dancing before her eyes. The men stopped at an unmarked van, which was parked not far from the house. One of the men opened the rear door and his companion put Kate down on the floor of the van. Kate heard the door slam and the passenger and driver’s doors open and close, and then felt the floor vibrating beneath her as the engine started. Kate tried to work our which direction they were travelling, but the noise and movement and the stuffiness of the rug made her head spin. She felt sweat prickling on her upper lip and a queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. The van went over a bump in the road, and Kate fainted.

The Brigadier’s reaction to his wife’s news was to sit down quickly and say, “What?” in such a penetrating whisper that it was audible through the closed office door.

Fiona repeated, “Kates gone. I went to get the lunch ready and I called her and she didn’t come. I came back to the sitting room and the door and windows were open and the furniture was in a mess and she was gone.”

“My God,” said the Brigadier, “you didn’t see anyone?”

“No,” replied Fiona, biting back the angry retort that had risen to her lips, “no I didn’t. Where is she? What have they done with her? Why would...” she paused for a moment, then went on in a cold voice, “It’s him, isn’t it? That person you call the Master. He has taken her to make you give him that wretched thing he wants. Isn’t it?” her voice broke on the last word and she turned away from the phone.

The Brigadier was silent. He had no doubt that the Master was responsible for Kate’s disappearance. Well, the Master would learn not to tangle with him, if he hadn’t already.

Becoming aware of the silence on the line, the Brigadier said, “Fiona?”

“Yes?”

“We’ll find her. Whoever it is and wherever they have taken her, we’ll find her. I’m going to send some people over to … (he nearly said ‘to keep you company’ but changed his mind) to check for clues and to stay with you in case they make contact.”

“Thank you,” replied his wife in the same cold, flat voice.

“They will be with you soon. I’m sorry, my dear but I have to stay here, you do see that, don’t you?”

“Yes, yes of course.”

“And I call you as soon as we have news. We will find her, my dear, I promise you that.”

The Brigadier waited until Fiona had hung up, then put the receiver back in its cradle with such force that the telephone bounced on the desk. He drummed his fingers on the desk top, then, hearing the sound of footsteps outside, opened the door and shouted to a passing soldier, “Private! Find Sergeant Benton, Miss Grant, the Doctor and Captain Yates and tell them to report to me immediately!” Having dispatched the startled soldier, the Brigadier returned to his desk and sat down, resting his head on his hand. Looking towards the window, he murmured, “Oh, Kate, what have we got you mixed up in?”

Kate opened her eyes. The van had stopped and, though she still felt hot, the panicky, queasy sensation had vanished. She couldn’t see anything except the rug, so she closed her eyes again and lay still, hoping to pick up some clues to her whereabouts. The van door opened and Kate was picked up again and carried a short distance. The man carrying her stopped, paused and must have gone through a door, because the sound of his footsteps changed. After a moment he set Kate down again, on a hard surface that might have been floorboards. Though the sound was muffled by the rug, Kate could hear male voices nearby.

“There you are, Guv,” said one.

“Thank you,” came the reply, and Kate felt a horrible shrinking feeling in her stomach as she recognised the voice, “I trust she didn’t give you any trouble?”

“She’s a real wild cat, that one,” replied the first man, laughing, “we had to wrap her up just to get her out the window. Mind you she quietened down after that.”

“Good,” said their employer, “here you are.” There was a rustling noise, then the men said, “thanks Guv,” and Kate heard their footsteps retreating.

There was silence for a few moments, then the rug around Kate’s face was suddenly pulled back. “My dear Miss Lethbridge Stewart,” said the Master, “I’m delighted you could join me.”

The “people” that the Brigadier had promised to send to help his wife turned out to be Jo Grant and Sergeant Benton. Fiona had been worried at who might turn up, but sighed with relief when she saw Jo and Benton coming up the drive. As soon as she saw their kind, concerned faces, Fiona felt as if something had melted inside her. Jo put her arms round Fiona, who, though she was not normally demonstrative to those outside her family, clung to Jo, almost as Kate had clung to her. Jo whispered “It’s alright, I’m so sorry, we’ll find her for you, we will,” and nodded to Benton, who went through to the kitchen. A few minutes later, they were all seated round the kitchen table, nursing mugs of Benton’s best tea. Jo asked Fiona to talk her through what had happened and made notes while she did so, and after excusing himself and putting down his mug, the Sergeant went to check the sitting room and the front and rear of the house for signs of the intruders. As Fiona told Jo all she could remember, Jo pushed the plate of biscuits that Benton had put on the table towards her and was pleased to see Fiona begin to nibble on one absent-mindedly. Jo was wise enough not to try and insist that her interviewee eat something, but if she could persuade her by stealth, that was all to the good. Benton had found few clues to the identity of the intruders. He had photographed and measured a boot print that he had found in some gravel at the end of the drive, but, to him, it looked like a standard size and make. The intruders had worn gloves, so there was no trace of fingerprints on the window or door frames and they had taken whatever tools they had used with them. Benton sighed as he walked down the drive and turned onto the pavement. As he walked along, looking from one side of the road to the other, his eye was caught by a wisp of red fabric caught in a hedge. Benton took out some tweezers and carefully removed the fabric. He held it up to the light and then put it in a bag to be tested. To the naked eye, though, it looked very like wool and might have come from the rug that had disappeared along with Kate. Benton frowned as he put the bag in his pocket. Feeling that he was being watched, he turned and saw an elderly man on the other side of the road.

“You with the police?” called the man. (Benton was in plain clothes, so as not to attract too much attention while he gathered evidence.)

“Er, yes,” replied the Sergeant, wanting to avoid involved explanations.

He crossed the road and said to the man, “Have you seen anyone hanging around here today? Two people, possibly three?”

The man considered; “There was a van parked here for a bit, not sure when it left, it was there when I walked into town but it’s gone now.”

Benton got his notebook out and asked the man to give the approximate time he had seen the van and to give a description of it.

“I didn’t see anyone with it, mind you.”

“No, thank you, Sir, that’s very helpful. May I take your telephone number in case we need more details?”

The man gave his number, then asked, “What is it? Burglaries? There’s been a lot of those round this way lately.”

Benton paused, then said, “Yes,” while his heart contracted at the thought of Kate being carried out of the house and thrown in the back of a van. He realised the man was looking at him curiously and pulled himself together.

“Well, thank you for your help, Sir. If we need anything else we’ll be in touch."

“You’re welcome, young man.”

Sergeant Benton waited until the man had walked away, then made his way quickly back to the house. Jo answered the door and asked, “Did you find anything?”

“I think so, but it might not be good news. I need to call HQ, quickly.”

“OK, we’re still in the kitchen.”

“I won’t be two ticks.”

Benton stood in the hall and spoke into his radio, giving HQ the description of the van, and the time it had been seen and telling them about the piece of wool he had found and the lack of fingerprints at the scene. Private Jenkins confirmed the details and Benton said “thank you Trap one, out.” And went to the kitchen to share his news with Jo and Fiona. When they saw his expression, Jo stretched out her hand across the table to Fiona. Fiona sat up straighter in her chair, as if steeling herself for bad news, and said, “Well, Sergeant, what did you find?”

Benton told her about the lack of clues in the house, but then told her about the van and showed her the scrap of wool.

Fiona held the bag up to the light, frowning, then said, “Yes, that looks like one of the colours. So, they put her in the rug and carried her out to the van?”

“It looks that way,” said Benton, quietly.

Fiona got up from the table and walked over to the window. When she turned back to face Jo and Benton, her face was set in an expression of cold rage.

“Then I hope you find them soon, Sergeant, and make them pay.”

“We will, Ma’am,” said Benton, hoping that he wasn’t lying.

The Master unwrapped the rug from around Kate, smiling at her as he did so. For a moment, Kate felt frozen with horror, then, as her legs were freed from the rug, she tried to get up and scrabbled on the floor with her hands and feet as she tried to get away.

The Master walked towards her, sighing, “My dear Katherine, or do you prefer ‘Kate’? You are wasting your energy. The door is locked and you cannot escape. Here,”

He held out his hand to Kate, who looked at it in revulsion.

“Oh, I see. Well, in that case,” the Master said, reaching down and grabbing one of Kate’s wrists, hauling her to her feet and holding on to her as she struggled.

“Do spare yourself this unnecessary effort,” he went on as he dragged her across the floor.

Kate looked round, trying to find any sign of anything that might aid her escape. The room was bare, save for a large, wooden cupboard standing against the wall. The cupboard looked old, the surface of the wood was dark and pitted and Kate could see where the varnish had been chipped. She tried to gather her strength for one last effort, but the Master was too quick for her. Before she could get away from him, he seized her round the waist and carried her into the cupboard. Kate’s eyes widened in amazement. The interior of the cupboard wasn’t a cupboard at all. It was a room, but not like any room she had ever seen. The walls were black with round, white lights filling them in rows from floor to ceiling. In the centre of the room was a hexagonal structure, standing on a pedestal. The surface of it was made up of grey, sloping panels and it was covered with buttons, levers and gauges. In the centre of the structure was a tall, transparent cylinder. The Master put Kate down on the floor and pulled a lever that closed the door behind him. Kate scrambled into a corner, trying to think. This must be the Master’s TARDIS, she thought, except it doesn’t look like the Doctor’s. Is the Doctor’s like this on the inside too? The Master came over and went down on one knee, looking at Kate with the same smile he had worn in the school sickbay.

“Well, here we are," he said. "You need not be afraid of me, Kate, I mean you no harm. Well, no immediate harm, anyway. You are simply here to help me.”

Kate looked back at the Master, trying to muster her mental defences in case he tried to hypnotise her again.

He went on, “As we were unsuccessful in our first attempt to secure the circuit, I have decided to take a more straightforward approach. I shall suggest an exchange; the Doctor will give me the circuit and I will give you back to your parents. I’m sure they will agree it is a small price to pay.” Kate looked down and the Master put his hand under her chin and raised her face. “Now, I don’t advise you to move from this room. My TARDIS has many rooms and you would get lost very quickly. If you try to hide, I will find you. Do you understand?”

Kate whispered, “Yes.”

“Good.”

The Master stood up and turned away, and Kate tried to edge her way towards the outer door. She didn’t know if she could get out, but she had to try.

The Master was adjusting something on one of the panels of the hexagonal structure, but he turned back quickly, saying, “No, no, no. I’ve told you. You cannot escape. And as I need to be able to keep an eye on you, perhaps it would be better...” he bent down and looked into Kate’s eyes. Kate immediately began to resist, the voice in her head chanting “this little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home...”

The Master gazed into her eyes for a few moments, seemingly puzzled, then sighed.

“Ah, I see our friend the Doctor’s influence is stronger than mine. Well, we shall just have to do this in a more old-fashioned way.”

He reached under the sloping panel and pressed on the side of the support. A door slid open and the Master reached in and drew out a length of rope. Kate struggled to her feet and tried to run, but he caught her by the wrists. The Master tied Kate’s wrists together behind her back, then tied up her ankles and took a handkerchief out of his pocket and tied it over her mouth. Having secured his hostage, he lifted her and carried her across the room, putting her down in the opposite corner to the door.

“There,” he said, “don’t look at me like that, child,” as Kate glared at him, “I asked you to keep still and you did not. I must warn you, if you do not cooperate with me, I can make your time here even less comfortable.” The Master’s brows drew together as he frowned, and Kate shuddered. Then, to her considerable surprise, he pulled a telephone receiver out of one of the panels and began to dial a long number. He looked over at Kate and smiled again.

“Now, my dear, we will see what your parents and the Doctor have to say about my little proposal, ah, yes,” he spoke into the receiver, “yes, may I speak to Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart please? I have some information that may be to his advantage.”

UNIT HQ had been buzzing with activity since the Brigadier had received his wife’s call. The Brigadier was in his office, coordinating the effort to find Kate and the Master. When Benton’s report had come in, Private Jenkins had been ordered to contact the local police, to find out if there had been any reports of suspicious activity in the area in the previous days (it was assumed that the Master had recruited a local criminal gang to carry out the kidnapping,) and to ask if they would assist with trying to track and locate the van. The request for information on local crooks had drawn a blank, but a team of officers was canvassing the area to see if it could be established precisely when the van had arrived and left and alerts were out for all traffic police to look out for it. The lack of a number plate made identification difficult, but the police were of the opinion that the kidnappers would probably abandon it as soon as they could. The Brigadier’s fingers drummed on his desktop once more as he waited for news. The Doctor had just returned from the laboratory, where he had been trying to construct an apparatus that would allow him to locate the Master’s TARDIS. As he was explaining the challenges this posed, the telephone rang. The Brigadier, who had been barely listening to the Doctor, waved at him for silence and picked up the receiver.

“Lethbridge Stewart?”

“A call for you, Sir.”

“Thank you, Scott, put it through. Hello, Lethbridge Stewart speaking?"

There was a pause and then a suave voice said, “Hello Brigadier. How delightful to speak to you.”

“You.” said the Brigadier, in a cold, flat voice, “Where is my daughter?”

He waved to the Doctor, who understood and went through to the communications room to ask the staff to start a trace on the call.

“Oh, she is quite safe,” replied the Master, “I shall prove that to you shortly.”

“I want to speak to her.”

“You shall, but first I...”

“Now.”

“Oh, very well, one moment...”

There was another pause and then a tiny, frightened voice said, “Dad?”

“Kate!” The Brigadier stopped and tried to control himself, then said, more quietly, “are you alright?”

“Yes,” said Kate, her voice a little stronger. “I, I’m sorry. I tried not to go with them, but I couldn’t stop them.”

“Precious girl,” replied the Brigadier, not caring if the Master, or anyone else was listening, “none of this is your fault. Wait for us and we will come and get you. I promise.”

“Thank you,” said Kate.

Her father could hear the tears in her voice and his hand gripped the telephone receiver as if it were the Master’s neck. After a short silence and the Master spoke.

“Well, Brigadier, are you convinced?”

“Yes.”

“Good. What I propose is a simple exchange. Kate for the circuit. Do you agree? I hope for her sake that you do.”

The Brigadier looked at the doorway, where the Doctor was standing, and said, “Yes.”

“Excellent. I will contact you again to arrange the handover. Oh, and Brigadier, please don’t try to do anything foolish, like trying a preemptive strike against me. You won’t find me and, should you attempt to apprehend me, Kate will suffer the consequences.”

“You dare...” the Brigadier fought to control himself, then said, “very well. We will wait for your call.”

“Good,” The Master paused and the Brigadier heard Kate’s voice shouting in the background,

“Dad! We’re in his T...” then there was a scuffling noise.

The Master returned, slightly breathless.

“It seems Miss Lethbridge Stewart has little regard for her own safety,” he said, “I can only hope her father has a more realistic outlook.”

With that he hung up.

The Brigadier put the receiver back in the cradle with exaggerated care and turned to the Doctor.

“Well, Doctor?” he said in a dangerously quiet voice.

“I’m sorry, Brigadier, they were unable to trace the call.”

“I heard Kate, she shouted something, ‘we’re in his...” and then she stopped, or was stopped.”

“TARDIS? Could it have been ‘We’re in his TARDIS?’”

“It could have been, I thought I heard a T sound.”

“That seems most likely,” said the Doctor, “and it would also account for your staff being unable to trace the call. Brave girl.”

The Brigadier gave a small smile and said, “Yes, she is. We must find her, Doctor, even if it means giving up that circuit of yours. You do see that, don’t you?”

The Doctor inclined his head, “I hope we will find her before the Master makes his move.”

“So do I. You were saying about your gadget?”

The Doctor tried not to wince at the description and said, “I’m afraid I have made little progress. A TARDIS causes disturbances in the time field when it operates, but, when it is inoperative it is much more difficult to track. If I can find the right frequency, I may be able to construct a homing beacon, but it will take time. I will persevere.”

“Do. And be quick about it,” the Brigadier paused, “please.”

“I shall.” the Doctor bowed and departed. As he did so, Private Jenkins put his head round the door.

“Sir? Report from the police. They’ve found a van matching the description abandoned on some waste ground just off the main road.”

“Good, Jenkins, send a squad over to check it and bring it here for examination. Once we get the timings confirmed, tell Scott to estimate the distances and draw up a search area.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Somewhat heartened, but still deeply concerned, the Brigadier picked up the phone and dialled.

“Miss Grant? Yes, please.”

There was a pause as Jo fetched Fiona to the phone.

“Alistair?”

“We’ve had some news, my dear...”

Kate’s eyes had filled with tears at the sound of her father’s voice. She had tried to speak calmly, but she was tired and scared. Just hearing him had put a bit of heart into her, however, and when the Master neglected to replace the handkerchief gag after pulling it away from her mouth so she could talk to the Brigadier, she decided to take a chance. As the conversation seemed to be drawing to a close, Kate took a deep breath and shouted, “Dad! We’re in his TARDIS!” but the Master dropped the receiver and lunged towards her, pushing the handkerchief into her mouth before she could finish the last word. The Master untied the knot and refastened the gag so that it was between Kate’s teeth, pulling the knot tight, then got up and went back to the phone. After his last threat, he hung up and glowered at Kate.

“You meddling infant! You won’t get another chance to do that, I can assure you.”

Kate looked up at him with a mixture of fear and defiance. The Master tutted in disgust and walked back over to the panels. Then he hesitated and went to the door opposite the entrance. He returned a moment later, carrying a triangular bandage. Kneeling down again next to Kate, he folded the bandage and tied it over her eyes.

“There, that will keep you out of mischief and serve you right for interfering. Now, I must leave you for a moment to finalize the conditions for our exchange. Remember, you cannot escape the TARDIS and, even if you were to do so, this house is secured against you. Do you understand?”

Kate nodded.

The smile returned to the Master’s face.

“Good. Then we shall get along admirably.”

Kate heard the door open and then close again behind the Master. For a few moments, her head went down and tears began to soak into the blindfold. Then, slowly, her breathing slowed and she tried to shift herself into a more comfortable position. Something in the pocket of her shorts was digging into her leg, so Kate tried to turn herself so that that leg wasn’t touching the floor. As she did so, it dawned on her that the thing in her pocket was her penknife. Could she? Would she have time to get it out of her pocket before the Master returned? And if she did, could she free herself? What else could she do? Kate decided to try. She twisted her hips to one side and tried to bring her hands round from her back in the opposite direction, feeling with her fingers for the opening of the pocket. Breathing heavily through the handkerchief, she stretched down and found the pocket, then tried to move her leg so that the penknife would be lifted towards her fingers. After what felt like an eternity, the cold metal of the knife casing touched her fingertips. Kate paused, then made one last stretch and managed to grip the knife between her fingers and pull it out of the pocket. As she turned back into a sitting position, the knife fell out her hand and clattered to the floor, but she scrabbled with her hands and found it and then turned it so that she could open one of the blades. Turning the knife slowly, Kate tried to see the rope around her wrists in her mind’s eye. She gripped the casing with the fingers of her left hand and felt the side of the blade slide up her wrist and then bite against the rope. Slowly and cautiously, with her ears straining for any sound of the Master returning, Kate began to cut through the rope.

The afternoon and evening were running slowly for Fiona, Jo and Sergeant Benton. Fiona had been persuaded to eat by Jo, who had sent Benton to the local takeaway with the instruction to buy the tastiest and most tempting things on the menu. By the time he returned, laden with foil dishes, Jo had taken advantage of Fiona leaving the kitchen briefly to set the table and, when Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart returned, she found her guests sitting down to a feast which Jo was busy dishing out. Jo passed a plate to Fiona and smiled.

“Here you are. You don’t have to eat all of it, but at least try something.”

Fiona sighed and said, “Jo, you are doing exactly what I would do to someone else.”

To which Jo replied, “There you are then, I must be right. Try some of the rice, it’s really good.”

Fiona pushed the food around a bit, but then the aromas proved too much to resist and she began to eat. Jo grinned at Benton, who smiled, but they both became serious again almost immediately. Since the Brigadier had called, there had been no further news and they were both painfully conscious that, in this case, no news was definitely not good news. They were just finishing the meal when the phone rang. Jo was nearest the door, so she went to answer it.

“Hello?”

There was a silence, then an uncertain, tired voice said, “Mummy?”

“Kate!” Jo said, loud enough to bring her companions from the kitchen, “Kate it’s Jo, your Mum is here, she’s alright. Where are you?”

“Jo!” it was more of a sob than a word. Then Kate seemed to steady herself, “I’m in the Master’s TARDIS. I don’t know where it is, but it’s inside a house. I think the house must be empty, there was nothing in the room I saw except the TARDIS, but, but it doesn’t look like the Doctor’s, it looks like an old cupboard. I tried to get away but he tied me up. I managed to get out of the rope with my penknife, and I think I remember which lever opens the doors, but he said the house is all locked up and I don’t know when he’s going to come back.”

Kate spoke rapidly and Jo could picture her anxiously watching and listening for the Master’s return. She said, “OK, Kate, I’ve got all that.”

“Thank you. I tried to call Dad but I couldn’t get through and I couldn’t wait, I don’t know how long...”

“No, you did exactly the right thing.”

Jo had been scribbling on the telephone pad and passed it to Benton, who read the words “Empty house, TARDIS disguised as cupboard” and went to the kitchen to radio HQ.

Kate, whose relief at speaking to Jo was gradually being subsumed by her nervousness at the Master’s imminent return said, “Jo, I don’t know what to do now. If I try and hide in here, I might get lost, and if I can’t get out of the house, he’ll find me and I don’t know what he’ll do to me.”

Jo turned so that Fiona couldn’t see her expression of horror and anger at anyone who would put a small girl in Kate’s position.

She said, quietly, “It’s alright, Kate. You’ve given us a really good clue to where you are. The Doctor is working on something to track down the TARDIS. Now. I think the best thing you can do is to pretend that you didn’t escape. I know it’s hard, but can you do that?”

Jo hesitated, she didn’t want Fiona to know what her daughter had been subjected to, but Kate said, “I can tie up my ankles again and do the blindfold and hanky in my mouth, but I can’t do my hands...”

Jo ground her teeth, then said gently, “Yes, that’s exactly it, Kate darling. Can you wrap it round and hold onto the ends?”

“Oh, yes, I can do that.”

“Good. It’s a horrible thing to ask you to do, I know how frightening it is, but I think you’ll be safer if he doesn’t know that you managed to get free. Do you see what I mean?”

“Yes,” replied Kate, “I’d better do it now.”

“Good girl. Where has he gone?”

“He said he was going to (Kate tried to remember the Master’s exact words) ‘finalise conditions for the exchange.’”

“I see. Right, you’d better get ready, but... just a moment,”

Jo passed the phone to Fiona, who said, breathlessly, “Kate? Katie are you there?”

“Yes, but I can’t get away. I had to tell someone what I’d found out, but I can’t get away, not yet anyway.”

Fiona tried to steady her voice and said, “I know, darling. But I know my brave Kate will do the best she can, won’t you?”

“Yes,” whispered Kate.

“Then I’ll see you very soon. You’d better go, darling, but I’m here and I’ll be here when you get back.”

Neither Kate nor her mother could bear to say goodbye, so Fiona waited until Kate had hung up and then put the receiver down herself. She looked at Jo, who was standing nearby, her face full of concern and anger.

“Thank you, Jo.”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t think of anything else to tell her. If he finds out she tried to escape, he... well, she’s given us some clues, and Sergeant Benton has called them in...”

her voice trailed off. The two women looked at each other in silence, then went back towards the kitchen.

In the control room, Kate sat for a moment with her head on her knees. Then she raised her head. The Master might come back at any time. He mustn’t know that she had tried to escape. Although all of Kate’s instincts were telling her to run, she could see the sense in Jo’s advice so she went back over to the corner where she had been sitting and picked up the ropes. Kate tied her ankles together, trying to make the knot match as nearly as she could and tucking the cut ends away underneath, then she picked up the handkerchief and put it back in her mouth, knotting it tightly behind her head. She made the remaining rope into two loops and put one over her right wrist, then fastened the bandage blindfold before putting her hands behind her back and hooking the other loop over her left wrist. She groped for the ends of the rope and pulled them tight, but couldn’t manage more than a granny knot behind her back so she left it and hoped the Master wouldn’t think to check. Her penknife was safely hidden away back in her pocket. Kate leaned back against the wall, trying to breathe evenly and not show the exertions she had just made. She hoped she had been able to help. An empty house with an old cupboard in didn’t seem much of a clue, now she thought about it, but it was the best she could do.

The Doctor was hard at work in his laboratory, making minute adjustments to a control panel. Attached to the panel was a round, green object, about the size of a tennis ball. The object had a metal casing and glowed faintly as the Doctor turned the dials on the control panel. There was a knock at the door and the Doctor looked up with an impatient exclamation as Captain Yates came in.

“Hello Doctor, any news?” he asked

“Not yet, I’m afraid. I feel sure I’m almost there, but I can’t quite find the right frequency.”

“Oh. What does it do?”

The Doctor smothered a sigh. “This, Captain, is my TARDIS homing device. It responds to telepathic signals that radiate from the TARDIS, so I can find her wherever I am.”

“Oh,” Captain Yates wasn’t sure what telepathic signals were, but he left that aside and asked, “and you think you can use this to find the Master’s TARDIS?”

“I believe so. If I can alter the frequency so that it homes in on any other TARDIS in the vicinity, but not on mine, I may be able to locate the Master. But I’m not sure how wide an area it will work over.”

The Doctor sighed again. The phone rang and, seeing that the Doctor was engrossed in his work, Yates answered it.

“Hello, laboratory, Captain Yates speaking? Yes, yes Sir at once. Yes, Sir.”

He hung up. The Doctor looked up, questioningly.

“We’ve got to report to the Brigadier’s office, he’s had news of Kate!”

At that, the Doctor abandoned his experiment and the two men hurried down the corridor to the office. They found the Brigadier issuing rapid orders to his subordinates.

“Scott, get onto the police and the local council, find out how many houses they know of that are abandoned or standing empty in the search radius.”

“Sir!”

“Jenkins, I want three squads ready to move in the next 15 minutes. No destination as yet, but stand ready.”

“Sir!”

“Brigadier,” said the Doctor, “you have news?”

“Yes.”

The Brigadier told the Doctor and Yates about Kate’s call, the details of which had been relayed to him by Sergeant Benton. When he had finished speaking the Doctor said, in a low voice, “Well done, Kate.”

“Yes,” replied the Brigadier, torn between concern for his daughter’s safety and pride in her ingenuity.

He paused, then asked, “Have you made any progress, Doctor?”

“Yes, I believe I have almost found the right frequency.”

“Good. We may need that to confirm the location.”

The Brigadier paused again and looked down at his hands, which were resting on the desktop. Captain Yates was puzzled, but the Doctor knew what his friend was thinking. He said,

“I know," he said, still in the low voice, "launching a pre-emptive strike could be risky. But...”

The phone rang and the Brigadier snatched up the receiver.

“Lethbridge Stewart."

“Brigadier, I am calling to tell you the time and location of our exchange,” said the Master, “I assume that we are going to make the exchange?”

“Yes,” replied the Brigadier in the same flat voice he had used earlier.

“Excellent! I will give you the coordinates.” the Master read off a series of OS coordinates and the Brigadier noted them down.

“Yes, got them.”

“Good. Now, I will meet you and the Doctor there in precisely one hour’s time. Just you two, no interference and no hidden back up. I need not remind you what is at stake.”

“No.”

“Very well. Kate and I will see you there.”

“Let me speak to her.”

“After the last time? No, Brigadier I think not.”

The Brigadier was about to protest, but the Master had hung up. The Doctor and Yates waited for the Brigadier to speak. He looked at the coordinates the Master had given him, then passed the piece of paper to Yates.

“Captain, take this to Scott, see if she is getting anywhere with the house and whether these will be any help.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Now, Doctor. Do we have any guarantee that the Master will behave honourably?”

“None,” said the Doctor. “On the other hand, if we act and are detected, we can guarantee that Kate will be in even more danger.”

“Yes. That’s it, isn’t it.”

The Doctor looked at the Brigadier with sympathy in his eyes. The Commanding Officer was in an impossible position.

“Then there’s that dratted circuit of yours. Are you prepared to give it up?” asked the Brigadier.

“If it means saving Kate, then I am,” said the Doctor, quietly.

He was about to speak again when Captain Yates put his head round the door.

“Sir, we’ve checked the coordinates, it’s a piece of waste ground, here...” he put a map on the Brigadier’s desk and pointed out the location. “If you go there, you’ll be completely exposed. There’s nothing like cover anywhere near.”

“Which is, no doubt, why the Master chose it,” said the Doctor. “Thank you, Captain Yates.”

Yates withdrew and was replaced in the doorway by Corporal Scott.

“Sir, I think we’ve found it,” she said, breathless after running from the communications room. She came into the office and laid a piece of paper on the map. “Here,” she said, “this is where the van was found. This,” she pointed to where Yates had indicated, “is the location for the exchange and here,” she indicated a third point on the map, “Is a property that has been empty for the best part of a year. It’s isolated, but close to the main road and the police say they’ve had an enquiry in the last few days because a car has been seen coming and going. They called the council and they said that the car belonged to an agent who was looking at the house.”

“And did this agent have a name?”

“Not that they could remember. And they couldn’t give a description either.” Corporal Scott looked up at the Doctor, “Could it be the Master?”

“Yes! Almost certainly,” the Doctor said. “Well, Brigadier?”

The Brigadier opened his desk drawer and pulled out his revolver.

“We move. I don’t trust the Master any further than I could throw him. About that circuit, you were going to say,”

“That I have an idea that will work better than bargaining with the circuit.”

“You’d better be right, Doctor, you know the stakes.”

“Yes,” said the Doctor, quietly, “yes I do.”

There was a brief silence, then the Brigadier said, “Right, you’ve got ten minutes to gather your equipment, Doctor, then we will be moving off.”

The Doctor inclined his head and was about to leave, when the Brigadier said, “One moment. How much surveillance is the Master likely to have?”

The Doctor considered, then said, “Provided they are functioning, he will have scanners that will show him his immediate surroundings, on a screen in his control room.”

“So, we may be spotted once we enter the house.”

“Yes, that’s the risk. But if we can achieve a stand-off, I believe I can suggest a resolution.”

“I hope so. Now, go and get your things ready and I must call my wife.”

The Brigadier turned away from the door and the Doctor and Corporal Scott left quietly, to give him privacy for his conversation. The Doctor hurried back to the laboratory and put on his coat, gathering the spherical homing device, which he put in his pocket, a small, insulated box and a length of cable with metal boxes attached to each end. He put the last two in a Gladstone bag, and then left, as rapidly as he had come.

Kate had not long been settled back in her corner when the Master returned. Seeing his captive apparently exactly where he had left her, he smiled broadly.

“Well, my dear,” he said, rubbing his hands together, “I have found the ideal place to meet your father and make the exchange. I will just telephone him and give him the news.”

Kate listened while the Master spoke to the Brigadier. She guessed that the Master’s last remark referred to her calling out and leaned her head against the wall. He wouldn’t let her talk to her dad again. The call over, the Master crossed the control room. At the sound of his approaching footsteps, Kate pushed herself as far back into the corner as she could, curling up her legs, making herself as small as possible. The Master sighed.

“As I have told you, my dear Kate, you have nothing to fear from me. Your fate rests entirely in the hands of your father and the Doctor. As long as they behave reasonably, I will too. If not...” he left the sentence unfinished and walked past Kate and through the door that led to the rest of his TARDIS. Kate listened as his footsteps receded. She was tempted to move, but decided that it would be safer to stay where she was, at least for the time being. Some time later, Kate wasn’t sure exactly how long, the Master returned to the control room and came towards her again. He bent over her and removed the blindfold. Kate blinked in the bright lights and looked at him.

“There, that’s better. Now, you will need to walk in a little while so …" The Master pulled a clasp knife out of his pocket and cut the ropes that were securing Kate’s ankles. She stretched her legs out and looked at him, questioningly. “No,” he replied, “I think that is enough for now. I can’t be sure you won’t try to get away again, or to call out. I hope you’ve learned your lesson in that respect, but, no.”

Kate lowered her head, as if in disappointment. As she did so, she tried to think of a way she could get away from the Master once they were out in the open. The Master smiled again and began to make adjustments to the console. As she looked round the room, Kate caught sight of a movement on the screen that hung in one corner of the room. She gasped, and watched as uniformed figures crept past, crouching in position around the TARDIS. As the Master looked at Kate, she averted her eyes from the screen and, in order to try and distract her captor, struggled to her feet, bracing herself against the wall. The Master watched her with amusement.

“Ah, independent as ever. Don’t go too fast, my dear, we still have time.” A sudden sound made him turn and he looked at the screen, but could see nothing. Frowning, he pressed a button to move the scanner and his frown changed to a scowl when he saw the Doctor standing outside the TARDIS. The Master lunged forward and caught Kate by her shoulder, dragging her across the room. Kate winced as his fingers dug into her shoulder. The Master flicked a switch on the console and said, “Will you never learn, Doctor? I present you with a perfectly honourable solution to our problem and you insist on trying to double cross me. Well, you leave me little choice but to make good on my threats.”

“No! Wait!” said the Doctor, his voice coming clearly through the scanner, “I am here to make you an offer. I have here,” he held up a small box, “a quantity of Lettstrium. Hand over Miss Lethbridge Stewart and I will give you this to repair your circuit.”

The Master laughed. “Really, Doctor? You refuse to honour the terms of our agreement and you expect me to trust you now?”

“The choice is yours,” replied the Doctor, “but I advise you to choose wisely. Come now,” he approached the TARDIS, “you know you there is no other way out for you. You are surrounded. Pull the lever on the console and open the door.”

Kate looked up at the screen. She saw the Doctor staring at the scanner and, suddenly, she realised that the Doctor was talking to her. She glanced behind her, then slipped the loops of rope off her wrists. As the Master stepped forward to argue with the Doctor, he loosened his grip on Kate’s shoulder. She ducked away from him, turned and pulled the lever. The TARDIS doors opened. The Master lunged towards Kate but she darted away and hid behind the console as two armed soldiers entered, followed by the Doctor. The Master raised his hands and sighed in resignation. The Doctor stepped forward, making room for the Brigadier. When Kate saw her father, she gave a muffled cry, came out from behind the console and ran into his arms. The Brigadier embraced his daughter, then gently removed the handkerchief from her mouth and lifted her up, carrying her out of the TARDIS. The Master looked at the Doctor.

“Well, Doctor," he said,"it appears the advantage is yours. I take it you do not have the Lettsrium?”

“Oh no,” replied the Doctor, “the Lettstrium is yours. Take it and repair your circuit. Then leave.”

“And what is to stop me from avenging myself on you and your UNIT cronies in the meantime?”

The Doctor put the box down on the console and stepped back out of the TARDIS, followed by the UNIT guards. They retreated a short distance from the TARDIS, their weapons raised. The Master looked at them, puzzled, then stepped forward. As he did so, the Doctor shouted, “NOW!”

A wall of green light flashed up in front of the Master. He stopped in his tracks and looked down. Stretching around the TARDIS was a length of black cable with a metal box at each end. One of the boxes had switches on and a soldier was still crouched down by the side of it having just thrown the switch on the Doctor’s command. The Master glowered at his enemy through the green light. The Doctor stepped forward again.

“This force field will last for long enough for you to repair your circuit. When you have done so, you can leave. Until then, you will be trapped.”

The Master looked down at the cable, then back at the Doctor.

“So, it would seem," he said, drily. "Very well, Doctor, I must hand you the victory this time. But don’t get too comfortable. I will return as soon as I am able to visit my revenge upon you and upon this planet.”

“Very well,” said the Doctor, calmly. He turned away, signaling to the soldiers, who followed him out of the room. The Master watched them go, with an expression of disgust, then gave a short laugh and went into his TARDIS. Outside the house, the UNIT troops had erected a temporary fence of barbed wire and a man was left on guard, to be relieved at regular intervals until a more solid barrier could be constructed to keep intruders away from the house. The Doctor made his way over to the Brigadier’s car, where the commanding officer was sitting with his daughter in his arms. Kate lifted her head from her father’s shoulder and looked at the Doctor as he approached. The Doctor smiled.

“Well, Kate," said the Doctor, "thanks to you, the Master will be out of action for a while.”

Kate was too tired to speak much, but she said, “Thank you.”

“And thank you, Doctor,” said the Brigadier. “Captain Yates will finish the mopping up here I must get this lassie home to her mother.”

“Yes, yes of course,” said the Doctor, “goodbye Kate.”

Kate returned the Doctor’s wave as the car pulled away. The Doctor stood for a moment, then walked back towards the house, smiling to himself. Captain Yates was issuing the orders for the troops to return to HQ and greeted the Doctor as he approached.

“Hello Doctor, ready to go?” asked the Captain.

“Yes, thank you Captain.”

“Good stuff.”

The Captain and the Time Lord walked together to their transport. As the Doctor climbed aboard Bessie, his beloved yellow roadster, Yates asked, “How long will the force field last?”

“Long enough,” replied the Doctor. “By the time the Master has repaired the circuit it will have started to decay, then it will subside completely.”

“But then he can get out?”

“Yes. I suspect that he will be eager to get away from Earth for a bit, having been stuck here,”

the Doctor frowned as he felt a pang of jealousy. The Master was stuck on Earth only for as long as it would take for him to fix his TARDIS, his own exile would last much longer than that.

Captain Yates asked, “Is everything alright, Doctor?”

The Doctor sighed, then smiled, “Yes, thank you Mike, quite alright. I’ll see you back at HQ.”

Captain Yates watched as the Doctor drove away, then shook his head and went back to his duties.

The Brigadier had radioed Sergeant Benton as soon as Kate was safe, and again when they were nearly home, so Fiona, Jo and the Sergeant were waiting at the door when the car swept up the drive. The Brigadier got out, followed by Kate. Kate ran to her mother, then her knees gave way as Fiona bent to hug her.

“My brave Kate, you’re worn out, aren’t you?”

“No, I,” said Kate, her voice muffled by her mother’s shoulder.

The Brigadier said, “No shame in that, everyone needs a rest once in a while.” He kissed his wife and nodded to Jo and Benton, who had stood back to give the family some privacy.

While Kate was hugging Jo, Benton said, “I’ve checked the windows and doors, Sir, it’s all secure.”

“Thank you, Sergeant.”

“If that’s all for now, Sir, we’ll be getting back to HQ.”

“Yes, thank you Benton, and thank you Miss Grant.”

The two UNIT agents departed, leaving the Lethbridge Stewarts alone. The Brigadier carried his daughter to the kitchen, where Fiona had prepared the sort of meal that might appeal to a worn-out small girl. The meal was followed by a bath. Understandably, Kate didn’t want to be separated from her parents for long, so her mother brought blankets and a pillow downstairs and the schoolgirl was tucked up on the sofa with Horace and her book, while her parents sat in companionable silence, the radio playing quietly in the background. It wasn’t long before the rustle of pages stopped. Fiona looked at her daughter as she slept. The colour was returning to Kate’s cheeks, but there were dark shadows under her eyes. The Brigadier came and stood by his wife, putting his hand on her shoulder. Then he carefully lifted the sleeping child and carried her upstairs, so she would wake up in her own bed the next morning.

As he and Fiona went quietly back downstairs, she said, “Sergeant Benton said if this sort of thing keeps happening, Kate will be after your job next.”

The Brigadier looked startled, then chuckled, “Perhaps, but I think we have a few more years before we need to worry about that!”