RED = AL BLUE = DOCTOR LIME GREEN = STELLA VIOLET = MASTER
Lights flickered on and off on the console as the time rotor slowly came to a halt.
The Doctor had only just recently been sent a message from a friend, half a cosmos away. He sat on a wooden stool, waiting for the TARDIS to finally stop.
Lisa, he thought, we’re there.
Lisa had been kept in the dark ever since the Doctor had gotten some message from a once-upon-a-time friend. He wanted it to be a surprise. Said we’d all get a kick out of it.
The Doctor didn’t lend any hints to anyone of whom they were going to see, didn’t even let them read the message. He kept saying that he doubted any of them could read it, anyway.
He had plotted the course precisely and (without much as a by-your-leave) he was taking Lisa, Mat, Turlough and Tegan along for the ride, but Lisa didn’t mind. As long as she was with the Doctor, all was right as rain.
Of course, Doctor, but where exactly is THERE?
Wherever the stars may lead and exactly where is here. Coming?
Lisa grinned. Yes, be right there.
Tegan and Turlough came, somewhat unwillingly, from the back of the TARDIS, feeling that the antiquated machine had finally landed somewhere. Mat, however, was bursting with energy, as always.
“C’mon, Doctor, where we at?” Mat said, jumping up and down at the console.
The Doctor smiled at Mat, straightening his own blonde hair. “I’ll tell you once Lisa gets here.”
“Yur no fun….”
“Oh, but I thought you LIKED surprises?” the Doctor teased.
Mat just stuck his tongue out at him, and Lisa walked into the Console Room.
“Lisa, the Doctor won’t tell me where we are.”
The Doctor’s smile broadened. “All in good time, Mat, and we have plenty of that.” Ready for a hike, Lisa?
Lisa nodded. And I wore the correct shoes for it, too.
“Great, now that we’re all ready,” the Doctor said, spinning on his heels, grabbing up his coat and hat, and opening the doors all in a quick, liquid movement. “Onwards and so forth!” He sat his hat upon his head and slipped his coat on, walking out the doors…
…and onto a bright, sunny day, on a lush green pasture.
“And where are we?” Tegan asked, taking in the perfect picture. “This can’t be the Eye of Orion.”
“No, of course it isn’t,” Lisa agreed.
“Where?” Lisa asked aloud.
“Gallitrexia. A planet where one of my, umm, best friends lives. Shall we continue on? She did say that she would send a dragon to get us.”
She? Lisa asked.
“Dragon?!” Mat shouted. “There are dragons here?!”
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Tegan said, shying back towards the TARDIS.
“Nor do I. Are you sure this planet is safe, Doctor? I mean, dragons? Fire-breathing, flying dragons?” Turlough gulped.
“Some fire-breathing, lots flying, but only a few will hurt you. Shall we continue?” The Doctor walked onwards, towards the edge of the sparse woods beyond the hill of grass with all of his companions following, some more reluctantly than others, right behind. Lisa walked right up to the Doctor and hung onto his arm.
“So, who is ‘she’?”
“Jealous, are we?” the Doctor grinned.
“She’s a good friend of mine. She’s a lot younger than you. A Time Lady, actually.”
“So why didn’t she just come to you?” Lisa questioned. “She has a TARDIS, I’m assuming.”
“Oh, yes, but she said she had something to show me. Very important. Top secret, she said. Or wrote, rather.” The Doctor smiled at Lisa. “And she’s always getting herself into trouble, I’m really only here to check up on her. I’ve not seen her in a long while.” He tapped her nose. “And besides, you’re in for a treat if that dragon of hers comes to us in time.”
“Are you sure you’re headed in the right direction?” Lisa teased.
Just then, a large, red-scaled dragon flew over-head, knocking the Doctor’s hat off by the sheer force of wind it produced. The Doctor bent down to pick up his hat. “I’d say I was right on the mark.”
“Was that what I think it was?”
“Yup, Tegan! A DRAGON…,” Mat said, watching it land close-by.
It was a Norwegian Red; the Doctor knew this from a previous misadventure and told Lisa telepathically: I once met this one in my fourth incarnation. Or, at least, I THINK I did…. All of the dragons tend to resemble each other here.
The Doctor boldly strode up to the Red, not forgetting to bow beforehand. “Good-morning! You wouldn’t happen to be here to pick us up, would you?”
The Red cocked an eye-ridge at him. “It depends upon who you are,” he rumbled low.
“And he talks!” Mat shouted.
The Red snorted, leaving a lingering hint of sulfur in the air. “OF COURSE I TALK!” the dragon growled.
The Doctor quickly (and a little nervously) got up a bit closer to the Red, waving a small amount of smoke away with his hat. “I’m terribly sorry if my, umm, companion offended. No hard feelings?” He backed up just a small bit to get a better view of the red-scaled beast and furrowed his brows. “I say, you’re not the same one I’ve encountered before. You’re a bit large to be the same….”
The Dragon stopped him short. He scooped the Doctor up in one scaly, clawed hand and lifted him up, nose level, putting a scrutinizing look on the Doctor; trying to intimidate him a little bit, but also trying to figure out what he had meant by ‘encountered before’.
The only thing that the four left on the ground could do was shout at the dragon, which none of them did. 1) They had all lost their voices for a second; too scared for the Doctor to say much of anything close to a whisper and, 2) you never, EVER shout at a Dragon because, well, shouting is just not the polite thing to do and definitely not the most sensible.
(((Author’s note: And the fact that I didn’t want any screaming Mimi’s in this story. You get enough of them from the Television episodes, don’t you think?)))
Lisa looked more worried than the other three with her.
The Doctor just sat there in the reptile’s clawed hand, caught off guard for the moment. He reached for his hat that was by his side only to find that it was no longer there. It had drifted to the ground in the torrent of hot air that billowed from the Red’s nostrils.
The Doctor gulped, trying to push himself up on his elbows and regain his composure, waiting for what might come next.
“Doctor!” Mat shouted, finally regaining his voice. “I’ve got your hat!”
The Dragon turned sights upon the four at his feet, then looked back towards the Doctor again. “Doctor?” the dragon chuckled. “I suppose I have come to pick you all up after all.”
“Not sure if I want to have any of your hospitality, though,” the Doctor said, still in the Dragon’s palm.
“Only if you’re too stupid not to take it. Its rough territory between here and where Stella is….”
“Would you mind putting me down, please?” the Doctor asked, waving away more smoke. “Not to be disrespectful or anything, but – *cough* – the sulfur content in your, umm, yes, well….” He scratched his head. “Could I please be excused from this lecture? I seem to have lost my thesis paper.”
Doctor? Are you all right? Lisa asked him, worried more than before.
Perfectly, never felt better. The Doctor quickly stood up, a bit too quickly, and he stumbled over to the Dragon’s thumb. “Where was I? Oh, yes, could you please set me down, umm, Dragon?”
“You don’t want a ride?” the Red asked, a quaver, on the border of hurt and concern, on his voice.
“Oh, no! Of COURSE we want a ride; nothing better than a good race with the wind.” He quickly nodded to reconfirm his words, and then placed a hand on his forehead, sitting back down on the Dragon’s palm and leaning against his scaly thumb. “On second thought,” the Doctor winced, “Could you NOT put me down? I’ve gotten a slight headache….”
The Dragon could sense the worry that Lisa felt for the Time Lord he held in his hands and he quickly kneeled back towards the ground to allow her access to him. “My Lady, I do not know what is happening to him.…”
“I’m fine,” the Doctor mumbled, struggling to get back to his feet. “Just light headed.”
“That’s nothing new,” Lisa grinned. Just don’t die on me, all right?
“Yes, of course,” the Doctor said, lending a distinctly English drawl to his words, dismissing the thought of death straight away. He looked up at the Dragon. “Can… can my friends and I, and I… hop aboard and, once we’ve done so, can you whisk us away to… where ever it is that we’re going?”
“Who?” The Doctor closed his eyes for a few seconds, then reopened them, looking more dazed and confused than anyone has a right to look, setting eyes on Lisa for an answer.
Where is that note?
“What note? I’ve no note….”
“What’s wrong with him, Lisa?” Mat whispered to her.
Lisa just shushed him and took hold of the Doctor by his shoulders.
“Where is the note, Doctor? The one that you got from Stella, the one that told you to meet her here. Remember?”
He just looked at her blankly.
Is there anyone home? Lisa questioned.
The Doctor just stared at her, unmoving for a few seconds, blinked twice and then quickly grabbed her firmly by the shoulders, just as she had him.
“Well, yes, I’d say so, Doctor. What is it?” Lisa searched the Time Lord’s mind for something remotely close to an answer.
“Everyone aboard the Dragon, now!” the Doctor bellowed, getting back up to his feet.
“Sir, I do have a name.”
“I know that, Tersk, but just humor me for a while and take us to Stella?” the Doctor pleaded. “We may or may not already be too late.”
As Tersk, the Norwegian Red Dragon, took off through the clouds with his five passengers on his back, the four of the five started asking the fifth questions.
“But what’s WRONG with her?” Lisa asked.
“Who’s HER?” Mat teased.
“A Time Lady, Mat. Stop asking dumb questions!” Lisa snapped.
“Isn’t she the one we, I mean, I’ve met before?” Tegan questioned the Doctor. “On Florana, I mean.”
“Not to be rude or anything,” Turlough began. “But can’t this thing go any faster?”
The Doctor turned to look at all of them, in turn, as he answered their questions.
“Lisa, I don’t know what’s wrong. Mat, listen to you aunt. Yes, Tegan, she is, although this might be a different her than you remember. And Turlough, its not a THING, it’s a DRAGON; show a little more respect.”
He turned back around to pat the side of Tersk’s neck. “Do you think you could speed up a bit? Mind you, we are in a hurry.”
“Don’t you think you’ve worried me enough about Stella? I’m going as fast as my wings can carry me!” Tersk growled.
“Right,” the Doctor said. “Sorry about that….”
“We’re almost there, now, anyway.”
“Good, good,” the Doctor said, nervously.
“Doctor, what happened to you earlier?” Lisa asked. “Was it to do with her?”
“Of course. She knew I was coming. She, she seemed so confused. She… sent me images. Violent ones.” He turned to look at her. “They came by so fast that it caused me to act as I did. Confused, off balance.”
Why didn’t I feel that way?
Because I had blocked them from you. There are things that I’ve been keeping blocked from you ever since I got the letter from Stella.
Yes. The Doctor looked down below to get his bearings, feeling that Tersk was starting to descend. He spotted a small cottage off to the side of a dense forest with an enormous garden behind. “There it is!” he cried, hearts leaping.
After Tersk had landed, the Doctor immediately jumped down, only pausing to help Lisa climb down before rushing to the cottage door. He knocked on it thrice, yelling, “Stella! Stella, it’s me, the Doctor! Open up!” He knocked thrice more and, not getting a response, he tried the door. It opened quite easily. The Doctor swung it open and cautiously walked in. “Anyone here? Stella?”
No lights were on in the sitting room beyond the door and nothing was seemingly out of place. The Doctor walked quietly into the kitchen just beyond the sitting room - nothing. He was about to go check out the dinning room and library just beyond the kitchen when he heard footsteps right above.
“Stella?” he called and, getting no answer, he motioned the others to follow him quietly upstairs.
They found her lying on the floor in her bedroom face down, an undignified pile of Time Lady in red clothing.
The Doctor rushed to her side before the others with him could get through the door. He turned her over onto her back. Third self, he told Lisa. He grabbed for her arm and felt for a pulse - faint, but there.
“She’s still alive, but only barely.” The Doctor picked the red-head up off the floor and laid her down on the bed nearby. He opened one of her eyelids to find a dilated pupil underneath.
“Neural inhibitor?” he mumbled.
Tegan and Turlough wandered round the room, going closer to the other side where an immense bookshelf sat. Feeling that they weren’t going to be much help here, they browsed through the titles while Mat sat, entranced, at a nearby cage.
“ ‘Dragons through the Ages’. ‘Training Manual: What to do with a Hardheaded Red’,” Tegan read.
“ ‘Raising Sheep the Modern Way’ and ‘The Showman Shepherd’?” Turlough turned to the Doctor. “Who is she, anyway? Little Bo Peep?”
“No, Turlough. SHE isn’t, her other selves are.”
“Then why all these…?”
“Books? She considers herself one of the foremost experts on Animal Husbandry, Turlough. All of them do, leave it be.”
“Lisa! Come look! A baby dragon!” Mat pointed over to the cage he was staring into. A small black dragon sat, sleeping on a perch, head under his wing.
“No, Mat, not a ‘baby’ dragon. Miniature, similar to your average Shetland Pony,” the Doctor said.
“What? What’s a Shetland Pony?” Mat asked.
“Earth breed, never mind,” said the Doctor, who turned to Lisa. “She’s not going to wake up.” He paused for a second. “Black? Black, what, Stella?”
What? Lisa asked.
“She showed me black. Didn’t you see it, Lisa?”
“Well, yes, but….”
The Doctor turned back to Stella. “Black what?” He looked around the room. “Black shoes? Black Dragon?”
“Black book?” Turlough supplied.
Footsteps came from the hallway and to the door. “She can’t see,” a familiar voice said. The Master stood in the doorway.
The Doctor came round to the foot of the bed to face the Master. “What? What have you done to her?”
“ ‘Black’. She’s telling you she can’t see. She’s been shooting me ‘Black’ for the past ten minutes.”
“Funny,” Lisa glared at the Master. “I would have thought she was trying to tell us YOU were here….”
The Master ignored her for the moment. “Doctor, I don’t know what you’ve done to her, but she didn’t want to cooperate with me.”
“What I’VE done to her? Look at her! She’s a VEGETABLE!”
“Doctor, shouting won’t help.” He looked towards Stella. “She didn’t want to help me get rid of you and, now, I’ve tripped over my own feet. She’s hidden my TARDIS and now… and now she can’t tell me where it is.”
“Get rid of me? Oh, I see.” The Doctor came closer to the Master. “She played along for a while and then, when she caught the gravity of the situation, she turned against you. Typical of you, though, don’t get your way - kill.” He looked at Stella. “Stella, ‘black’ isn’t helping, here.”
“I wasn’t ABOUT to kill her!” the Master shouted. “She was going to be bait.” He stepped further into the room.
“Stay where you are.”
“You cannot deny my access to her.”
“I can and I will.”
The Master stopped where he stood. “Very well,” he sneered. “She told me she wouldn’t allow me to kill you, she was going to ruin my plans.”
“So, you stopped her with a neural inhibitor? Didn’t work very well, she still told me something was wrong.”
“So I see. She’s always been headstrong. Stubborn.”
“And you overdosed her. You could have stopped her hearts, stopped her from breathing! You could have killed her!”
“But I didn’t, and that’s what counts.”
“Even the strongest neural inhibitor only lasts about half an hour or so!”
“And so you see why I’m here.”
“You want my help? Don’t you think that, if I could do something for her, I would have done it by now?” the Doctor thought for a moment. “We’ll have to take her to someone who CAN help her. To Gallifrey….”
Piercingly bright colors flooded through the Doctor’s thoughts for a second.
“Stella, a simple ‘NO’ would have sufficed, but you don’t have any choice.” He glared at the Master. “Since I don’t know where her TARDIS is, we’ll have to take mine.” Lisa, I’m not leaving her with him. Would you mind going to the TARDIS and bringing it here? Just flip the first lever and turn the second knob a quarter turn to the left. And don’t be long….
Lisa nodded. Be back soon, Doctor. And she was gone.
“When Lisa gets back,” the Doctor said, anger wavering on his voice, “You will be allowed to come with us if you promise to follow three rules.”
“I’m listening,” the Master said, crossing his arms.
“One. You will not touch anything in my TARDIS unless instructed to do so.”
“Go on,” the Master smiled.
“Two,” the Doctor began. “You will not lay a hand on any of my companions, or Stella.”
“Do you really intend to keep her from me?” the Master cackled.
The Doctor gritted his teeth. “Indeed….”
“You stay in the console room.”
Just then, the sound of the Doctor’s TARDIS came from the air and, out of nowhere, a blue police box appeared and Lisa popped her head out of the double doors. Doctor, you aren’t intending to take him with us, I hope….
The Doctor looked a bit downtrodden. Lisa, he’s right. I can’t keep her from him. He smiled. Besides, keep your friends close - your enemies closer. He lifted Stella up off of the bed and carried her towards the TARDIS, where Lisa had opened the doors.
“There’s a couch in the console room. I pulled it out for you.”
“Master, I want to keep you in my sight. After you,” the Doctor said, waiting for his best enemy to walk into his TARDIS before walking in himself.
The Master only too happily walked in - something being planned, most likely.
“Come on you three,” the Doctor nodded to Tegan, Turlough and Mat. “In you go.” They came, though a bit uneasily. Each did not know what to think of the Master in the Doctor’s TARDIS; it was obviously not a good sign.
Lisa, they have to stay in the TARDIS when we land on Gallifrey. Can you tell them that? I’m, I’m going to be a bit preoccupied. The Doctor walked in, Lisa following after.
But… I get to come, don’t I?
The Doctor sat the red-headed Time Lady down on the over stuffed couch that Lisa had pulled out for him earlier, trying to keep his eyes on the Master.
Lisa, of course you get to come. I wouldn’t have it any other way. He smiled. Ten minutes, tops. Get Tegan, Turlough and Mat somewhere safe; there’s an entertainment room somewhere. They can’t come with us.
Lisa took the three deep into the TARDIS, while the Doctor set the coordinates for Gallifrey and, after he was done and the time rotor busily hummed, bobbing up and down, there was an awkward silence between the two men left in the console room.
“So,” the Doctor began. “How’s the, umm… ‘Universal Domination’ coming along?”
The Master glared at him.
“Yeah, well, my plans have gone pretty well, too.”
Silence. And it was like that for 10 minutes until Lisa came back, out of breath.
“All right, they’re fine. I’m ready.”
“Glad to hear.” The time rotor stopped just then and the Doctor let down the viewer. A few of the Chancellery Guards were waiting for them just outside. The Doctor picked Stella up once again and Lisa opened the doors. One of the guards came into the ship, gun raised at the Master.
“Put that down! Here.” The Doctor sat Stella into the guard’s arms. “Make yourself useful.”
“And what of him?” the guard asked, nodding to the Master. “I’ll have to get someone to take him to the prison.”
“No, let him come - there may be parental consent forms he has to sign.” The Doctor stepped aside from the door. “After you, Master.”
As the patrol came down the hall towards the infirmary, a tense guard was held against the Master. They took no chances, wanted no funny business. He was being held at gunpoint near the front - not something that hasn’t been done before.
The Doctor, on the other hand, brought up the rear with Lisa.
Parental consent forms, Doctor? Lisa asked, gravely. You can’t mean….
I do, indeed.
Funny. I never took him to be the fatherly type.
I never said he was. Biology does not a father make.
All right, all right. So… is she a bad egg? Lisa questioned.
Once upon a time, yes, but only because of the Master’s influence. He had… somehow interfered with the regeneration process between her previous self and this. He was able to turn her against herself, and me.
The Doctor nodded. She - under the Master’s influence, mind you - went back in time to kill her second self.
But… wouldn’t that have killed her, too?
And you… changed something to get her back onto your side. Lisa smiled. How, exactly…?
No, Lisa, stop. You shouldn’t even know about the Master.
So that’s what you’ve been keeping from me?
Stella is a bit, well, she doesn’t like for everyone to know. She thinks that if others knew, they’d take her for her father. Just let it be. He smiled. There’s a lot more to her than the Master.
Well, there’s… well, she’s got a lot of good points….
And you can’t think of any right off the top of your head at the moment? Must not be an awful lot….
Lisa had been waiting in the room with Stella, waiting for her to wake up but also waiting for the Doctor to come back. It had been nearly an hour and a half since the Doctor had left with a few of his fellow Time Lords on matters concerning the Master. It had been nearly an hour and a half since the Doctor had said that Stella would be fine. And she should have been up half an hour ago.
Lisa sat in front of the window, looking out at the sky, clutching at her arms - not because she was cold, but because she was nervous. She didn’t notice that the Time Lady lying on the bed nearby was stirring, she was too preoccupied to notice.
Stella opened her eyes just a bit, sighed, and tried to sit up. It didn’t work and, somehow, she ended up with her head dangling off the side, looking at a pair of upside-down golden yellow wings accented with sunlight.
Am I dead? she thought.
“What?” Lisa asked, turning around to find red hair dangling from the bed - and Stella’s face turning just as red. She smiled. “If you stay like that, you’re going to get a headache.”
“Who are you?” Stella whispered.
“I’m Lisa. A friend of the Doctor’s. Here,” she said, coming closer. “Let me help you up.”
“No,” Stella said, shaking her head. “I can do it myself….”
“Stubborn,” Lisa muttered, helping her up anyway, getting little struggle from Stella. “How do you feel?”
“Like Tersk just sat on me,” Stella answered, rubbing her head. “Where’s… where’s the Master?”
She wants to know where the Master is, Doctor… what do I tell her?
“Everything will be fine, Stella,” Lisa smiled.
Stella closed her eyes. “You didn’t answer my question….”
Lisa panicked. What should she say?
“Where am I?” Stella quickly asked, thinking she better change the subject.
“Is the Master here?”
Stella looked up at Lisa. “If you don’t tell me where he is, I’ll find him myself,” she said, a weak hint of a threat in her voice and determination in her eyes.
“Don’t think so, dear,” Lisa said, calmly. “You need to stay here.”
“No, I need to know where the Master is - if he’s here, he needs to be found. If he’s not here, I can rest. For a time.”
Lisa grinned. “He’s not here. Don’t worry your head over him.”
“Where are my shoes…?”
“You don’t need them.”
“If you don’t tell me where my shoes are, I’ll go barefoot.”
“And where are you going?”
“I’m going… to find the Doctor,” Stella lied, pulling off her blankets and swinging her feet over the side of the bed.
Doctor, Lisa pleaded. She’s more stubborn than I thought.
Just keep her there, I’m too busy to come down there and deal with her myself. Give her something to do. Keep her out of trouble.
That’s a laugh….
She likes puzzles, the Doctor offered. Whatever will keep her occupied and happy.
“Question,” Lisa began, going over to block the door.
“What about?” Stella asked, getting up to look for her shoes.
Lisa asked the first thing that came to her mind. “Have you been to Gallifrey before?”
“Of course,” she said, looking over to her. “I am a Time Lord, if you didn’t know.” She got onto her knees and looked under the bed. “Where’ve you put them? I know you’ve done something with them.”
“I’ve not touched your shoes, Stella; you don’t need them, anyway. Just sit down. Relax.”
Stella sat down on the bed to glare at Lisa. “The Doctor told you to keep me in here, didn’t he?”
“Stop pussyfooting around. I know he did.”
“Then why did you ask me?”
“Sure it was.”
Stalemate, Stella thought.
Stella looked, startled, at Lisa. “What did you say?”
“Listen, if I gave you your shoes… you promise you won’t go anywhere?”
“Yes or no - not a maybe, not a perhaps.”
“May-haps, then,” Stella smiled a childish smile, trying to look sincere enough.
“Yes or no.”
“You know, there’s an island on the planet Earth where the two mean the exact opposite. The Doctor should take you there one day, it would get you completely confused!”
“No, then. Oh well, there goes that walk that I wanted to take….”
“Oh, yes,” Lisa said, lending a sigh to her words, as if she had truly wanted what she had said.
“Anywhere, actually. I’ve been here almost two hours and I’ve been stuck in here. Never seen Gallifrey before.”
“Get me my shoes, then, and I’ll give you the ten-cent tour,” Stella said, as convincingly as she could. Perfect! I think I’m up to a bit of dodge the chaperone.
Lisa smiled. Being a mind reader had its perks - she’d know what move the stubborn red-head would make next and could counter it. She walked over to the corner and picked up the boots sitting there. “Here they are,” she said, whirling around and moving back over to Stella.
“So, where to first?” Lisa asked, trying to keep Stella’s attention. “Are there any kind of, um, ‘major attractions’?”
Major distractions is more like it. “Oh, of course, if you know where to look.”
“Let me guess. You aren’t going to tell me about them….”
Stella had been looking around more than trying to answer any of Lisa’s questions, looking for some sign of the Master or the Doctor. She stopped where she stood. “If I must, but they aren’t really attractions to me.” Stella sighed, giving up on her search for the moment. “If I had my bearings, I’d take you to see the statues of Rassilon, Omega and the Other.” Please don’t make me explain, it’d take too long….
Lisa smiled. “And who are they?” she said, trying to keep her attention as long as possible.
Stella frowned, thinking that this woman knew more than she let on. “They are the founders of Gallifrey.”
“Good guys, then?”
Lisa shrugged. “Of course. No one’s perfect.”
“Indeed,” Stella started walking again, picking up more speed than before.
“Know any good riddles?” Lisa asked, easily matching the Time Lady’s speed.
“Oh, come on, I know you know at least one.”
“And how could you know that?”
“The Doctor told me.”
“Did he, now? You know, you shouldn’t always believe everything the Doctor tells you….”
“And why not?” Lisa asked.
“Because he only tells half truths at times,” Stella smiled. “I only know so-so riddles, and none are very good, but I think I have a good one for you.”
It was Lisa’s turn to frown. “I meant tell me your riddle.”
“All right. ‘I am a house. I have no doors or windows, yet within my walls I hold the Morning Star. To release the Star, knock. What am I?’ ” …she’ll never guess…
“What?” Stella looked to her, shocked. “I can’t believe this. No one gets that one on the first try, not even the Doc!”
Lisa shrugged. “I like riddles.”
“Sure you do. He told you the answer, didn’t he?”
“Of course not. First time I’ve heard it, actually.”
“Sure it was.” Stella started to slow down, figuring she might as well save some of her energy if this winged wonder was matching her yard for yard.
“So… you like my wings?”
“Oh, yes, much like one of the Pegasus’s wings back home.” Stella paused and did a double take, then shook her head. How did she know I was thinking about her wings? “Right. We’ll take this left, right here.”
“Of course.” Doctor, are you finished, yet???
Lisa, when I’m finished, you’ll know. The Doctor sighed, walking along a corridor with the Castellan and Chancellor Flavia. “And you both know nothing of where he’s gone off to?”
“Doctor, if you haven’t been listening the last six times - no, we don’t.”
“Of course. Well, I’ll leave you two to it, then. I need to get back to my girls….”
“Doctor, if we are to catch the Master we’re going to need your help. You know him better than anyone else, I should imagine,” Flavia remarked.
“Oh, I could think of one other….”
“Really? And where might we find this ‘one other’?” the Castellan asked.
“I’d like to know the same, Doctor. If you are withholding information from us….”
“Yes, well, it has truly been a pleasure walking with you both but I really need to get going. Lisa’s having a hard time with Stella, I don’t want her wandering off just yet. Not with the Master out and about.”
“Of course, Doctor. We’ll walk with you, then.”
“Of course,” the Doctor sighed.
Stella stopped in her tracks. “Shh, listen.”
“Stella, what do you hear?”
“You saying ‘Stella, what do you hear?’ Listen, someone’s coming.”
There was a soft rustle of robes and the thud, thud of feet coming closer to the two women. Stella caught hold of Lisa and pulled her off to the side.
“Are we supposed to be out here?” she whispered.
“Yes or no, don’t toy with me!” she hissed. “Matter of life or death.”
“I don’t know. The Doctor didn’t say NOT to go out….”
“Perfect. Hide, you don’t need to get in trouble for me. Go, over there. And keep quiet!”
Lisa did as she was told and hid in a small closet off to the side.
Stella, on the other hand, sank down to the floor and just sat there, eyes closed. Please don’t let it be him, please don’t let it be him….
A man was coming down the hallway, turning onto the corridor where the two women were and he stopped. In front of Stella.
“Ah, my dear, I’ve been looking for you,” the Master whispered, taking his TCE from beneath his folds of robes. “Quite nice of you to come to me….”
“Father?” Stella asked, opening her eyes just a tad. “Father, is that you?”
The Master quickly hid his weapon back beneath his robes and got down, eye level, to Stella. “Of course it’s me, my dear. What happened to you?”
“I… I don’t know. Where am I? I woke up in a room, all alone, and I came looking for you.”
“On Gallifrey,” the Master answered. “Do you know what happened to you? What do you remember?”
“The Doctor and… and a winged woman. They tried to take me away from you.”
The Master cautiously asked: “And why was that?”
Oh, come on, Stella, think of something! “They wanted to hurt you… by hurting me.”
“Of course, my dear, and they almost succeeded. But I found you and brought you here.”
“Why did you leave me, then? Alone in that room? And why are you wearing red? It’s not your color.”
“Of course, Stella, of course. But I had to leave you there, for your own good. Did anyone follow you?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Good, up you go,” the Master said, pulling Stella back up to her feet. “I need your help.”
“I need you to find some components for my TARDIS.”
“Did the Doctor do something to it?”
“Precisely,” the Master smiled, thinking that he had his Stella back again. “Come along, my dear, we’ve got work to do.”
Lisa didn’t know what was going on. Doctor, she pleaded.
What is it now, Lisa?
The Master, he’s got Stella.
“What?!” the Doctor yelled, upsetting the two Time Lords at his side.
“Stella, the Master’s got her.”
Doctor, don’t worry. I think she’ll be fine, for now.
For now? What do you mean, for now?
The Master thinks she’s on his side. He thinks that somehow she’s reverted to her old self again.
The Doctor smiled. Very cunning, she’s got a good head on her shoulders. Where are you?
In a closet….
And where is that?
In a wall, somewhere a few corridors away from Stella’s room.
Why did you leave?
You told me to keep her occupied, she didn’t want to stay in there. I thought everything would be fine.
Yes, well, now it’s not.
The Castellan and Chancellor Flavia just looked at each other with somewhat bemused, confused glances. “And how, exactly, would you know this, Doctor?” Flavia asked.
“Lisa told me. Don’t ask, long story.” Don’t worry, I’ll be right there.
The door opened and Lisa grabbed hold of the person just beyond, hugging them with all her might.
“Glad to see you, too, Lisa,” the Doctor smiled, ruffling her hair just a bit. “Now, which direction did the Master go off in? We need to find him soon, I’m not sure if Stella can keep up her charades forever….”
“Charades?” Flavia questioned.
“Stella… is the ‘one other’. She knows him better than anyone I know and she can counter any move the Master makes, almost. She’s pretending to be on his side right now. Or, at least, I hope so.”
“They headed off that way, down that corridor,” Lisa said, pointing down the hall to the right.
“Right. We’ll have to get a search party together,” the Castellan began.
“No,” the Doctor cut in. “A search party will only endanger Stella. The Master might take her away from this place – or kill her – to get away.”
“But it will be the quickest way to find him!”
“And the most reckless.”
The two Time Lords stood there, glaring at each other.
“Fine! Do what you wish, you won’t get any help from me!”
“I prefer it that way,” the Doctor muttered under his breath. Lisa, we can find her on our own. Are you with me?
Of course, all the way. Whatever it takes.
Good. “Castellan, Chancellor - would you mind just… leaving this matter in our hands? Mine and Lisa’s, I mean?” the Doctor asked, looking towards the two.
“Of course we mind, Doctor!” the Castellan spat in anger.
Flavia put a hand on the Castellan’s shoulder. “Please. We’ll give you 12 hours, Doctor, and if you haven’t caught him by then we’ll send in a search party. Fair enough?”
“Fair enough,” the Doctor smiled.
“I can’t believe him, he’s going about this the entirely wrong way, Flavia!”
“And you blame him for it? He’s worried. He’ll find the Master quicker than you can.”
“Are you so sure?”
“You, and… you. Come with me,” the Castellan said, pointing to two guards. “Set your lasers on stun. We’re going to be searching for two of the most dangerous people you’ve probably ever encountered. One, the Master - I believe you’ve been updated on him. The other, his daughter - easily spotted, she has long, curly red hair. Last time seen, she was wearing a yellow, long-sleeved shirt, black slacks and a dark red duster vest. Are you ready?”
“Good, follow me.”
Treading on thin ice, here, Stella reminded herself as she walked down a shadowed hallway with the Master. Say something! “So, what exactly do we need, father? I can get it for you, you know I can!”
“No, Stella, my dear. It’s too dangerous.”
“No, its not, you know I can get it!”
The Master smiled, remembering when she had stolen a fluid link for him a few years ago. “Yes, I know you can get them. But I still don’t want you out and about, not without me.”
“Then come with me! Whatever you need, we’ll get it together. A father-daughter team, unstoppable. What do you say?”
“Convincing, my dear. All right, as long as we’ll go together.”
“All right! Now, where to first? I know, there should be a junk storage area right up here.” Stella dashed around the bend without a second thought of those pieces of machinery that the Master needed. She should have been paying more attention to what she was doing, however.
“Take her away,” the Castellan nodded, waving the two guards away from him. “I’ll be right with you, some pressing business I need to tend to.”
He didn’t even watch the two guards drag Stella away from the spot she dropped to; he rushed round the corner and quickly found the Master.
“Castellan, what are you doing?!” the Master erupted. “Where’s Stella?”
“Apprehended. She was playing you for the fool you are.”
“You really think she was on your side? Was she so willing to get you the things you needed that she blinded you for a time?” the Castellan chuckled. “She really is your daughter. At any rate, I need to get back to the Chancellor. I really shouldn’t be seen with you.”
“I’ll come to you when the time is right.”
Doctor, you know you can’t trust that Castellan fellow, Lisa said, walking along the corridors beside him. They had been just about everywhere imaginable without finding any hide or hair of either the Master OR Stella.
I never said I trusted him, just playing his game.
Of course. He’s playing a two-sided game of chess.
Exactly. When one side disfavors him, he runs, tail tucked between his legs, to the other team. The Doctor stopped and sighed. “I don’t know what’s become of them.”
“Can’t you, maybe, use telepathy? To find Stella, I mean. You did say she sent you mental images earlier. Why can’t you contact her that way?” Lisa suggested.
“Perhaps, Lisa, but she may not answer. And that… that’s what I’m afraid of, her not answering. For any reason.”
The Doctor nodded. “Perhaps you’re right.”
“Perhaps? That’s rich… I am right!” Lisa beamed.
The Doctor smiled and tapped her nose. “Perhaps.” Stella… the Doctor sent. Stella, can you hear me?
He sat there, waiting, but nothing came. He tried again.
“Doctor? Where are you?”
More importantly, where are you?
“I don’t know. I’m, I’m all tied up at the moment.”
“Sorry, I should have said ‘chained up’. From comfy bed to hallway to a bare, cold stone floor and chains.”
“Oy, there!” someone shouted from behind a door. “ ’Oo are you ’av’n a chat wid, ’ere, missy?”
“Myself, apparently. Do you see anyone else in here?!” Stella yelled.
“Sorry, miss, just doin’ me job.”
“Yeah, well, if ever you ’ear me talkin’ ’gain, you just keep your nose ou’ o’ me biznez, bucko. It ain’t polite to listen in on other folks’ conversations, ’specially when they’re talkin’ wid demselfs. Got me?”
Stella, please, control the volume of your voice. And when did you learn to speak like that?
“I can’ ’elp it, I pick it up at times.”
“It’ll take a wee bit, but I will. Eventually.”
Good. Now, do you know about where you are?
“No, but I do know where I’m not.”
“Hopeless,” the Doctor muttered to Lisa.
“What did you say?” Stella asked, a little irritated.
Helpless - no, that’s not much better.
“I’d say!” Stella yelled.
Look, we’ll be down to… wherever as soon as we can.
Let me do the talking, Lisa, the Doctor said, motioning her towards the doorway in front of them. A jail guard was sleeping in a chair that was sitting on its two back legs. The Doctor grinned as he tiptoed in - the guard was snoring. Stella was in the small cell behind him.
Doc! How’d you find me?
In that outfit? You’re hardly mistakable.
Ha ha, very funny.
I know. Lisa, would you like the honors? Just nudge him a little, he’ll do the rest, the Doctor smiled, taking the set of keys that were lying on the desk nearby and unlocking the cell door. He motioned Stella to come over - which she did without pause - and then undid the padlocks which held the chains together around the woman’s wrists.
Lisa peered over at the snoring attendant, then nudged him just a little on the shoulder. He fell over backwards and looked up at Lisa. “Now, now, missy! Wadya go an’ do a thin’ loik dat, eh?”
“More to the point, why were you sleeping on the job?” the Doctor quickly said, placing the keys behind his back. “You know, you could easily be replaced. Younger, more robust, energetic guards can easily keep up with certain people, now, can’t they, Drax?”
“Doctor? Is that you?”
“ ’Course it’s me, Drax. Now, do you know who that is?” the Doctor asked, pointing a thumb over to Stella.
“Well, no, not really. Dey just told me to keep watch….”
“They? They who?”
“Well, the Castellan and a lot of his guards, like. Dey drug her in here and told me to keep an eye out. Dey said she was a wild one, dat.”
Stella was getting a bit irritated. “Drax,” she said, tapping her foot.
“Wot?” Drax asked, finally looking over to Stella. “Oh, my… Rassilon, Omega and ’he Other. Is dat you, Miss Stella? If I’d known, you’d not be in that cage roit now!”
“Glad to hear that, Drax, but no need,” she said, stepping out of the door and allowing the chains fall, clinking upon the cement.
“Now, dat shouldn’a ’appened….”
“Of course it shouldn’t have. Here, catch.”
Drax caught the set of keys that the Doctor threw to him. “Well! Makes sense, don’t it?”
“Of course it does,” Stella said, putting an arm around Drax’s shoulder.
“Drax, will you be helping us?”
“ ’Course, Stella! Anyfing for friends.”
“Good! Then you’ll help us find the Master,” Stella said, guiding him towards the door.
“Now, hold on dere, missy. I’ll not be doin nuffink of da sort!”
“Afraid, are you? Fine, just stay there in your corner and just… stay there while we go and find him ourselves.”
“ ’Old on, there!” Drax bellowed. “I dinna say I was scared, did I? I’ve had my fair share of that bloke what calls ’imself your dad. You might not remember all of it, but I did help you out when you was ’ooked up to that wad of machinery what ’ad control over you. Not this you, but the you before you. And da ’im after ’im,” Drax said, pointing over towards the Doctor.
The Doctor was pretending not to listen, as he’s not really supposed to know about what happens in his future, now, is he?
“And if I remember correctly, your dad is what ’ooked you up to it, wasn’t ’e? The Doctor and Romana and Romana and all of your friends ’elped to get you free. I ’elped, too, and I ’elped to get that thing offa you. And I ’elped bring your dad back to set things roit, so don’t you tell me what I’m afraid of, Stella!”
“So you’ll help?”
“ ’Course I will. You don’t fink I’d let you get into more trouble than you can ’andle, do ye?” Drax said, smiling.
Way to go, Stella. Reverse psychology, the Doctor thought.
Reverse psychology? That was the weirdest form of reverse psychology I’ve ever seen….
Yes, well, she learned it from the best, the Doctor grinned.
Stella frowned. “Why is it that everyone assumes I’ll be the one to get into trouble?”
“Because your name was under ‘Most Likely to Get into Trouble More Times Than They Can Handle’ in the school yearbook,” the Doctor said, jokingly.
Stella ignored him for the moment. “Now, where to first?” I’d say somewhere to get a good meal, but that’s beside the point.
Lisa frowned and told the Doctor this, but he shook his head at her. If she really wanted it, she would have said it forthright.
“Let’s have a chat with Chancellor Flavia, I’m sure she’ll be able to shed a little more light on all of this.”
Mat made his way towards the Console Room, having nothing else better to do, his boredom being shared by Tegan and Turlough who were right behind him.
“How can we see what’s taking the Doctor and Lisa so long?” Tegan asked herself.
“Only one way that I know,” Mat said, smiling and pulling down the lever on the console.
“Don’t listen to his pleas, and don’t look him in the eyes.” As the Castellan turned his back on them, he muttered, “Simple minded buffoons…” under his breath and quickly walked away from where the Master was held captive, listening to the Renegade’s menacing threats until he was no longer within range of hearing. He had done the Master an injustice - he had betrayed him for his own benefits.
“My dear Stella, my sweet daughter. You have come to rescue me, no doubt,” the Master purred, rather cockily.
“Father, the only reason why I’m here is to see if the sparked rumor was true. And now that I have seen it to be so, I must be off.” Stella turned just slightly towards the door, making ready for her exit.
“Wait,” the Master said, almost pleadingly, grabbing hold of her shirtsleeve. “You can’t possibly mean to leave me here?”
“I have no choice in the matter, father,” she whispered calmly, placing a hand onto his. “I’m sure you’ll surface just fine on your own, you usually do,” Stella said, trying not to make direct eye contact. “I think the worst outcome of all of this will be imprisonment on Shada - no more, no less. Cryogenically frozen, perhaps.”
“You truly wish to see… what might become DEATH as an outcome?” the Master asked her, his voice quavering. Stella knew her father well, but she wasn’t quite certain if this wasn’t an act.
Stella sighed. “Of course not. I know death isn’t an option, couldn’t be. You’ll be imprisoned on Shada, I just know it.”
“You wish to see me caged? Prodded and poked at like some Earth animal in a zoo?”
“That’s not it at all!” Stella said, her voice rising an octave. She looked down at her shoes and muttered, “You can’t possibly understand….”
“Understand what? Why my own daughter won’t let me out of this confinement, this cage? THAT I don’t understand!”
“Exactly. And you never will,” she said, looking back up. “Because you don’t know me anymore.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Are you or aren’t you my daughter?”
“Of course I’m your daughter, but that has nothing to do with this.”
“Of course it does! My daughter, my own daughter, won’t let me go. You’re the greatest disappointment I’ve had in all my lives,” the Master sneered in anger. “I’ll tell you this much now - when I get out of here WITHOUT YOUR HELP, which will be very soon and I can promise you this, I WILL kill the Doctor. He has corrupted you to the point where you’ll no longer be of service to me. And after I have killed him, I will kill you.”
“You’d kill your own daughter?” Stella asked.
“AND your friends if you don’t let me out of here right now!”
The Doctor looked out from underneath his own TARDIS console at Lisa. “Of course I’m worried. I’m worried sick. What if she does something….”
She’ll regret later on?
The Doctor gave an exhausted sigh and then answered, “Yes.”
There was a silence, and then Lisa said startling news. “She’s let him out.”
“Stella, what have you done?!”
“Nothing, I haven’t…!”
“Done anything? What you’ve done is caused havoc, like always!” the Doctor shouted. “Why is it that every time something important comes around, you come along and mess things up?”
“I don’t mess things up!”
“Oh, you don’t? Do you remember anything in that small brain of yours?”
“I don’t have a small brain,” Stella huffed.
“Obviously you do if you don’t think you’ve done anything! Earth, for example. Twice you and your so called father went and disrupted things there!”
“But you can’t blame me for that!” Stella shouted, getting up to her feet to face the Doctor (even though she was still almost half a foot shorter than him) and shook her head. “You can’t blame me for that….”
“I didn’t say that I did, but you WERE there and everything went haywire!”
“And you’re blaming me!”
“No, I’m not! I don’t blame you for anything you did while the Master had control over you. You couldn’t help it. But, nonetheless, you WERE there and you DID help the Master. Stella, where is he headed? Where has he gone?”
She sat staring at the Doctor in what appeared to be anger - not hard for her to do, really. She might be mad, but she could just be buying the Master time.
“Stella, you need to stop thinking of the Master as your father and start telling me where he is!” he said, stepping closer towards her. “Don’t make me do this, Stella,” the Doctor said, anger in his voice.
“Make you do what, Doctor?” Stella said, daring him on. “Take advantage of me? Poor gullible Stella, can’t resist even the smallest bit of mind control. Would jump in the River Thames as soon as some one whistled? Is that it?”
“Stella, just tell me where he is! Why do you protect him so?”
“Because he is my father!” Stella shouted. “You should know that by now!”
“Surely, after all that he’s put you through, you don’t still care that deeply for him?!” the Doctor asked, horrified.
“Yes, Doctor, I do.”
“You leave me no choice, then,” the Doctor said solemnly, shaking his head.
“I’m not telling you,” Stella said, turning her head away.
“Listen!” the Doctor said, pulling her chin back around so they would be face to face again. “If you do not tell me where he is, I will personally put you back into those chains that we got you out of earlier. I will have you placed under arrest for aiding the escape of the Master and, perhaps, even put you on trial in his place. How would you like that, hmm?”
“Whoa, there, Fete. You’re bein’ a bit harsh on ’er, ain’t ye?”
“Doctor, you’re breaking her hearts,” Lisa said, looking up from the sidelines.
“How would you know, Winged Wonder?” Stella shouted aloud, making the Doctor look at her twice before speaking.
“Now, Stella,” the Doctor began, a rough edge to his voice.
“ ‘Now, Stella’, what?!” she shouted. “Why don’t you all just leave me alone?! If you’re lucky, I’ll go jump off a balcony!” she cried, then ran out into the hallway.
“Nice goin’, Fete.”
Lisa just sat there, shaking her head.
Stella ran until her legs got tired, finding herself in an abandoned hallway far away from everyone. She sat herself down beside the wall, sulking for the most part, but soon she collapsed into a fit of tears. This isn’t something that she would allow anyone to see, that’s why she ran. She thought she would be alone in this hallway.
Apparently, she was wrong.
“Hey, you’re the lady that the Master hurt, aren’t you?” a young boy asked. He had come upon her while she wasn’t paying attention. “Why are you crying?”
“I forgot,” Stella said shortly, looking at him for the first time. “Who are you? Who sent you?” she asked, quickly wiping away a few tears that remained.
“No one sent me; I came with my aunt and the Doctor and Tegan and Turlough….”
Stella frowned. “Where have Tegan and Turlough gone off to?” she queried before the youth could continue.
“I don’t know, exactly. They were right behind me, but I suppose they’ve slowed down by now.” The young boy shrugged. “I suppose they’re somewhere between here and the Doctor’s TARDIS.”
“Between the TARDIS and here? You mean the Doctor left you and the others behind inside the TARDIS all this time?” Stella asked, worried.
“Well, yeah. Lisa told us that we needed to stay inside because they didn’t know quite what was going on and we’d be safe in there….”
“Then why didn’t you stay?!” Stella shouted, getting even more worried for the two that had lagged behind him.
“We had gotten bored and it had been a long while since Lisa and the Doctor left with you and the Master. We thought we would come looking for them….”
“I’d tell you where Lisa and the Doctor are, but,” Stella said, trailing off, still wondering what mishap had fallen upon Tegan and Turlough. She shook her head to clear it and then rose to her feet, saying, “All right, then, come along.”
The Doctor paced around the room, thinking. Lisa sat over by Drax, content to let him think.
She knows you didn’t mean it.
“Does she?” the Doctor asked, stopping in his tracks, looking up.
“Does she, what, Fete?”
“Nothing, Drax, nothing. Just thinking out loud.”
Doctor, of course she does. She may still love her father, but you’ll always be her friend.
“I suppose. Right, I’ve made up my mind - Lisa?”
“Come on. We’ll go find her, wherever she is… and take her back home.”
“But… what about the Master?”
“We’ll let Gallifrey deal with him, Lisa. If Stella doesn’t cooperate, we can do nothing to help.” He looked so sad and so defeated, Lisa really didn’t have the hearts to argue with him.
And, at that moment, there was a knock on the door. The Doctor rushed over, hoping that it was someone with information pertaining to the Master or Stella. He was amazed to find Stella actually standing beyond the door, with Mat in tow.
“Mat! I thought Lisa told you to stay in the TARDIS!”
“Yeah, well,” Matt shrugged.
“And what made you change your mind, Stella?” the Doctor queried, no longer focusing on Mat.
“Doctor, Mat here just happened to stumble across me. Tegan and Turlough were with him, and now they’re not.”
“And, I take it, you’re going to help us now?” Lisa asked, peering over the Doctor’s shoulder at her nephew. “Hello, Mat,” she smiled. “How do you like our new friend, here?”
Mat shrugged again. “She’s all right, she gave me some of her Jelly Babies.”
Stella smiled down at him and ruffled his hair. “Fast friends, right Mat?”
“Right,” he said, smoothing his hair back down.
“Now, we need to block off all the TARDIS bays, alert Chancellor Flavia of our doings,” Stella said, producing a map of sorts from within one of her pockets and a red inking pen from another.
“Stella, what about the Castellan?”
“What about him, Drax?”
“Well, if you’re gonna go and tell Flavia, I don’t see why you wouldn’t tell ’im, too.”
“We don’t NEED to tell him, Drax. He’s sneaky, conniving, underhanded… and I don’t like him.”
And she likes the Master? Lisa asked the Doctor without getting an answer.
“He’s to stay out of this as long as possible.”
“Good plan,” Lisa nodded. “Now, what about your map? You’re going to point out places best to look, am I correct?”
“You know,” Stella said, tapping the pen against her chin. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear you could read my mind. But, then again, I’ve often heard Great Minds Think Alike. Would you help me roll this out somewhere?” Stella asked, gesturing towards her map.
“So, what’s the game plan?” Lisa asked, helping Stella unroll the map on a table inside the room.
“Well, I was hoping to catch my… the Master off guard,” Stella said softly.
“I see,” the Doctor said, coming over to listen. He placed his left hand on Lisa’s shoulder and his right on Stella’s. “But how do you propose to do such a thing, Stella? Surely, he won’t succumb to any traps. He’s too smart for that.”
“He fell for her act in the hallway,” Lisa said, looking up at the Doctor.
“I never said Stella wasn’t a good actress.”
Do you think he’d fall for it, again? Lisa asked him, not wanting Stella to hear.
“Who might what, Doc?” Stella asked, obviously hearing him responding to Lisa telepathically - she just hadn’t heard Lisa.
“Oh, nothing, nothing. Now, what were you going to show us?” the Doctor asked, not wanting to continue that topic with Lisa right now.
“Well, father said that he was headed in this direction,” Stella said, marking a course on the map from the detention block to the North Side with her red pen. “He told me to stay away from that side if I valued my life. I think he’s headed for the docking bays on the far side, here.” She took the pen and made an X at the bays.
“Where is his TARDIS, Stella? He told us that you had hidden it somewhere.”
“Lower level. You should have never let him come, Doctor.”
“I had no choice, Stella.”
And there was silence.
The Doctor no longer had a hand on Stella’s shoulder, but had his arm over them - over both his girl’s shoulders. “Stella, how would you like to be bait?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. She would have moved from him, but he had her there so that she couldn’t.
“What do you mean ‘no’? Stella, he’s not going to come to any of us. And we need to find Tegan and Turlough.”
“No, Doctor. Why is it that I’M always the bait?”
“Because you’re so good at it,” the Doctor said, smiling. “And you’re so gullible, everyone thinks you’re not there on your own.”
“Again with the gullible….”
“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”
Stella sighed. He had her, there. She WAS gullible. She fell on hypnosis in a snap, that’s why she didn’t like being the bait.
“Come on, Stella. We’ll be within five minutes away.”
“Five minutes is a long time.”
“Time is comparative, even for us.”
“But I could be dead in five minutes!”
“I don’t think so, somehow. He can always use you, Stella, no matter what you think. He’s very powerful when it comes to mind control.”
“Which is why I’m not going,” Stella said, crossing her arms.
“Stella,” Lisa began. “If worst comes to worst, Heaven forbid, the Doctor can fix it.” She didn’t know if this was completely true in all cases, but she thought she’d give it a try.
“Lisa’s right, Stella. When have you known me to not be able to fix things?”
Stella cocked an eyebrow at him.
“And my TARDIS doesn’t count, Stella….”
I can’t believe I actually let those two talk me into this….
Stella had been ‘wandering’ the hallways, looking for any sign of the Master, Tegan or Turlough. Drax had let her borrow his pocketknife, not wanting her to go out there unprotected. Said he had got it during his stay on Earth. Funny thing, though - it didn’t look like it came from Earth. Or, at least, not the Earth that SHE knew.
She didn’t know why she would need the thing, but Drax gave it to her for ‘just in case‘. She hadn’t had a weapon in over ten years and she felt… different. As if her entire molecular structure had shifted because of that small piece of metal. Sheer poppycock, she had told herself. It was only her imagination.
She stopped just briefly in her tracks to listen.
She could only hear faint rustling, but she assumed that it was a slight bit of static coming from the minute earphone the Doctor had instructed her to use. He had planted the microphone in the fob pocket on her vest.
The Doctor and Lisa were on standby until they were needed though static was to be expected, or so the Doctor told her. Not that anyone could hear it but her, of course. And she continued on down the hallway, turning right… and bumping straight into the Master.
“Funny meeting you here, Stella,” he said, grabbing hold of one of her arms so she couldn’t run in the opposite direction.
“Yes, funny thing, father, but I’ve heard something funnier. A space-horse walks into an intergalactic bar and the Martian bartender asks--”
“Don’t toy with me, Stella!”
“Why are you wearing school robes, father?” Stella asked, trying to sound more like her ‘old’ self, trying to sound concerned for him.
“Never mind that, why are you here?! I thought I told you to keep away!”
“Yes, well, you have. But I’m not letting you go anywhere without taking me with you. You really should change, red just isn’t your color.”
“Come with me,” the Master said, rather annoyed, dragging her along behind him.
“Stop… you’re hurting me, father!” Stella began, for he was, indeed, hurting her wrist. And on purpose.
“Stop your whining,” he hissed. “You’ll attract attention….”
The Doctor glanced at Lisa with a look of deep concern. He hadn’t counted on Stella finding or being found by the Master this quickly. And, surely, he didn’t expect the earphone to malfunction. Everything that was going on could be heard on their end, but from where Stella sat, she was in the dark.
Lisa went to comfort him, holding him close, saying, “She’ll be all right, Doctor. She’s a tough cookie.”
“No, she isn’t. She plays at being tough. She wants to be seen with hearts as cold as ice, but when it comes right down to it - underneath that gruff exterior - she’s soft. Vulnerable. And I’ve led her to slaughter.”
“No. No, you haven’t. She’ll pull through just fine. If she’s anything like the Master, she’ll resurface when you least expect her to.”
“I only hope you’re right.”
I’m ALWAYS right.
After a somewhat lengthy walk (or drag, in Stella’s case) the Master brought his newest captive to what appeared to be his own TARDIS, docked in the bay that Stella KNEW she hadn’t put it.
Before the red-headed Time Lady could get her bearings fully registered, the TARDIS door was opened and she was forced inside.
“Father, please, you’re hurting my wrist terribly,” Stella began once more.
He didn’t listen to her. Instead, he took her over to the console where he promptly locked the doors of his vehicle and then he spun his daughter around so that her back was to him. He grabbed her close so he could whisper into her ear, “I could kill you right here, you know. Right here at this very spot.”
Stella tried her best not to show fear, but she couldn’t help feeling afraid. She stood there, stock-still - hardly daring to breathe - hoping that the Doctor and Lisa were somewhere close by. She could feel the Master’s unoccupied hand pulling her hair away from her ear. She knew he had found the earphone.
“The Doctor can’t help you, now, my dear,” he purred. “This is MY territory.” He took the earphone into his hand and crushed it. Stella was only too glad that it hadn’t worked in the first place.
“How would you know if it was the Doctor? I could be here on behalf of the High Council, the CIA….”
“And they would use such… unsophisticated means of equipment as this?” he asked, indicating the crushed mechanism. “This is not something that they would send!”
“You know how I am with gadgets, father. They wanted me to use something simple.”
“Really? And only one sided? That’s not their style at all!”
“And what do you mean by that?”
“Surely you are not as dense as you play, child! You know full well what I mean!”
“Please, father, enlighten me.”
“A microphone, my dear, which would enable them to hear exactly what we’re saying even as we speak.” He paused, loosening his grip on her wrist.
“If so, I’ve no recollection of it, father. They gave me just the earpiece, so they could guide me down here.”
“You lived here for almost a century! You mean to tell me that, after all that time, you didn’t know how to get here?! Rubbish.”
“It’s true!” Stella said, turning just slightly to glance at him.
“So it is rubbish, then? Just as I thought. So, where is the Doctor and that winged wonder of his?”
“Oh, so you noticed her wings, too, eh? They are very pretty. Can’t quite place my finger on where she’s from, though. Knew a Pegasus with wings like hers once….”
The Master was getting annoyed with her babbling. He threw down the crumpled bits of earphone and grabbed Stella by her chin, turning her head so she would look fully at him, something she had been avoiding all this time. “Stop your prattling, you senseless fool!” he shouted.
Stella flinched and wondered where the Doctor and Lisa were right now.
“I’m going down there and I’m going to bring her back. He’s not going to hurt her, not when I’m the one who sent her down there,” the Doctor said, standing up and moving towards the door.
He turned to face Lisa, not wanting to be held back.
Doctor, the Master is right. It’s HIS territory. It’s best if you stay here, where we can both listen.
For however long THAT holds out.
It has so far, just calm down. Lisa looked at him for a moment and then smiled warmly as the Doctor came back towards the table. She’ll be fine, she thought to him, rubbing his back as he sat down again to listen…
Stella was hoping that the small microphone worked, or the Doctor wouldn’t even know what was happening.
The Master had thrown her to the backside of the console room after she had forced herself to not look him in the eyes. She had been unconscious for only a few minutes, though, and she slowly got herself back to her feet, not wanting to cause a wave of dizziness from getting up too fast.
“I hope I knocked some sense into you,” the Master said, coming in from the inner door she had been thrown beside.
“Knot likely,” Stella said, rubbing the back of her head and feeling a small welt growing.
“I surely hope that you reconsider,” he said, coming over to her, hands behind his back.
“Reconsider what? I’ve not been given anything to consider,” she commented, backing away from him just slightly, still rubbing her newly acquired bumps and bruises.
He just looked at her, watching her back away. He smiled. “Come here,” he said, waving her over with one gloved hand, the other still concealed behind his back. “Come, now, do as your father instructs you to, girl.”
Stella knew, in her mind, that she didn’t want to go. One foot went to him, though, without her even thinking about it. She shook her head, trying to clear it, looking down at the floor.
“Stronger than I thought,” he muttered. “I shall come to you then.” He smiled even more as he watched her back up towards the wall. “A corner will do just as nicely, my dear, go on….”
“What are you doing?” Stella asked, curiously eyeing his concealed hand. She thought there was something all too familiar about this, she just couldn’t quite figure out why. “I’m not a sheep, you can’t pen me up like one!”
“Indeed I can, my dear, you’re scared. You’re doing this yourself.”
“Where are Tegan and Turlough?” she asked, her voice wavering slightly.
“They are safe.”
“Not in here, they aren’t.”
“Witty, my dear, as always. They are safe, for now. Unlike you,” he said, trying to distract her enough to back her up the rest of the way into the corner.
Stella jumped as she felt her back come across the wall. This was it. She watched him intently, and then bolted for the door that he had just come out of.
The Master spun around, just barely catching a glimpse of red material make its way through the door. “You cannot hide from me, Stella!” he called after her. “Its only a matter of time….” He went to the console, pushing buttons, waiting to hear certain doors closing and trapping his newly acquired pawn.
The Doctor looked worried. He kept telling himself that she would be all right, but each time he did he found some other reason to worry. He got up and walked out of the door before Lisa could stop him again. He should have stayed there - he stopped in the middle of the hallway and fell to his knees.
Lisa! he called, doubled over in pain. Lisa, it hurts….
Before he knew it, Lisa was there beside him, cradling him against herself. Shh. Yes, yes, I know, she said, smoothing his blonde hair down.
“Hurts… bad,” he said aloud. “My hearts.”
Shh, it will be all right.
“Stella,” he gasped, trying to force the pain back, somewhat unsuccessfully.
She’s hurt, I know.
Stella had been in for a shock, literally.
She had known the Master’s TARDIS almost as well as her own - almost. She had run straight into what she’d never encountered before. An electromagnetic force field. A gate of sorts. She hadn’t been trying to pay attention to what lay ahead, she was more worried with what she had left behind her. And then she was zapped by a ‘humanoid’ bug light.
Who knows how many volts went into her body? She didn’t even know what had hit her - went out like a light as soon as she made contact.
After she had hit the floor, the Master made use of this time to figure out the best way to use his newest chess piece. He decided she would be best in the middle of the game.
Don’t know what’s wrong.
Neither do I, but I can bet it’s the Master’s fault.
Don’t blame yourself, Doctor….
After only a small amount of time, the Master made his way to the back. Towards Stella. Once he got to her, he was amazed - no longer was his daughter his daughter.
She was different.
The thought of regeneration had not crossed his mind when he set down the gate! She was no longer his daughter.
She stirred just slightly, her short, chin length red hair moving to hide her closed eyes. He could see her breathing, but was still in dismay that such a small amount of electricity could have done this - and that nothing could change it.
He bent down to get a better look at her, nudging her over just slightly to see her face. Her head lolled to one side, away from view.
She won’t wake up, he told himself. “Just as well. Leaves me with less work to do.” He stood up, kicked her once just to be sure, then stepped over her to attend to the two further back.
Lisa sat in the hallway with the Doctor, holding his hand. She knew he wanted to help Stella, but they both knew there wasn’t really anything that either of them could do. They really didn’t even know what was going on, but Lisa was beginning to come up with something.
“What is it, Lisa?” the Time Lord asked, not looking up.
Talk to her.
He shook his head. From the jolt his hearts had given him, he didn’t think she would answer. He had been somber all this time.
Try. She squeezed his hand in encouragement.
He nodded his head and gulped, squeezing back, figuring that he might as well try. He called out to her as he had earlier on. Not getting any answer, he tried again….
Stella rubbed her eyes. She could have sworn someone had woken her up, but no one was anywhere to be seen. She got herself to her feet and ran her fingers through her hair.
That’s funny. Her fingers had met straight hair. And not only that, but it was way too short!
She pulled down her bangs to see them for herself - she didn’t know what had happened. She could remember running, and then falling, but not cutting and straightening her hair!
Stella, can you hear me?
She paused, looking around. Not finding anyone in sight, she said, “I must be going crazy….”
The Doctor’s hearts skipped a beat. “She’s all right, just confused,” he said, sighing.
That seems to be normal for her, Lisa grinned.
The Doctor smiled and then said, Stella, it’s me. The Doctor.
“Doctor? Where are you?”
Where you left me, essentially. Where are you?
“Where you left me, I suppose….”
You’re in the Master’s TARDIS, Stella - are you all right?
“Perfectly, just need to find the door,” she said, getting up and wandering down the hallway.
Are you SURE?
“Yes! Wait, waitwait… I hear something.”
Probably your ears ringing, just get back here, Stella!
“It’s someone talking. Hold on, I’m gonna see who it is.”
“Don’t worry! Incognito and all that,” she said, smiling.
“Doc, don’t shout - they might hear you,” she whispered, then realized that no one could hear their conversation but her. “Never mind.”
The Doctor sat there with Lisa, shaking his head. “I hate it when she does that. Never listens. Right,” he said, getting himself up and dusting his coat and slacks off. “Ready to go get her out of trouble?” he asked, smiling, holding out his hand to help Lisa up.
I’m always ready for trouble - but I’m normally getting YOU out of it.
Stella rounded the corner, not really noticing that her vision had become fuzzy. She knew there were voices and, clear enough, there were three.
“You can’t do this,” one said, definitely female.
“Of COURSE I can!” Definitely the Master.
“Just wait till the Doctor hears about this.” Another male.
“His messenger’s out cold,” the Master snickered. “How do you suppose he knows?”
“He just does,” the female said. Stella supposed these were Tegan and Turlough, although she had only met Tegan once (that she knew of) and that was a long time ago. She’d never met Turlough before. When she was conscious, at least.
“He won’t be able to DO anything! I could kill you both here and now and he’d never be able to save you.”
“Why don’t you, then?” Turlough asked.
“Because, you stupid oaf, you’re of use, still!”
“Doctor,” Stella pleaded, muttering under her breath. “Doctor, I’ve found Tegan and Turlough!”
The Master cocked his ear around to listen, thinking he had heard someone in the hallway.
Stella, you really need to get out of there….
“No, Doc,” she whispered, quietly. “Tegan and Turlough…!”
I KNOW about Tegan and Turlough, already! You’re the one that I don’t want near the Master. They can take care of themselves.
“Oh, and I can’t? Is that it?!” Stella said, angry just to the point that she got just a bit louder.
The Master decided that someone was definitely in his TARDIS. Stella, perhaps? he thought to himself. He left Tegan and Turlough for the moment to investigate.
Stella, what is he saying now? the Doctor asked, trying to get her to pay more attention to the more important matters at hand.
“You’re trying to change the subject!”
Stella, keep it down - someone will hear you.
“Oh, sure, someone’s gonna hear me. He’s too busy in there bothering with those two to notice!”
“Those who don’t know what they’re talking about shouldn’t talk at all, my dear,” the Master said, coming up to her.
Uh-oh? Stella, I don’t like uh-oh, what’s wrong?
“Uh-oh is right. Who were you talking to?”
“Nobody,” she quickly said, standing up to her full height - perhaps she was trying to intimidate, but it wouldn’t get her very far.
“You’re not a very good liar, Stella….”
“I wasn’t talking to anyone. Do you see anyone here, father?” She lifted an eyebrow, looking at him and daring him to call her bluff.
“Yes, well, I suppose not. Which only means that, since you’ve regenerated, you’ve gone senile.”
“So I’ve regenerated, then? And I thought I was losing my mind.”
Regenerated? Stella, what has the Master done?!
“Nothing, nothing…” she said, quietly. “Just leave me to my devices.”
“A shepherd’s crook and wit, I imagine,” the Master said, a tone of sarcasm in his voice.
“Well, I wouldn’t say no to either. I’d lay you flat in seconds if I had a shepherd’s crook, though.”
Your shepherd’s crook is on Gallitrexia, I would imagine.
“Yes, I know where my shepherd’s crook is! Stop talking to me so I can concentrate,” she quipped, waving her hand to dismiss no one.
Stella, we’re coming to help.
“Huh,” she muttered. “Just what I need….”
“Stella, you need help,” the Master said, coming up to her side. She didn’t move.
“No, I don’t need your help. Thank you, but no thank you.”
We’re coming anyway. With or without your consent.
“Yes, you do, and I know just who can help you. Look here,” he said, putting on his best fatherly face, turning to face her properly and pointing to himself. “Does this look like a face that belongs to a father who doesn’t want to help his daughter?”
She squinted, looking at him as he had asked. “Oh, I don’t know… I think so, but I really can’t say.”
The Master put his arm around her shoulders and began leading her down to where Tegan and Turlough were. “Stella, if I didn’t know any better, I would think you’ve gone blind. I have something for you just back here.”
“You know, if I didn’t know any better, I would swear she enjoys not listening to me. If she had just gone out of his TARDIS like I told her to, none of this would be happening….”
Hey, you’re the one who got her to go down there in the first place.
Yeah, well, kick a man when he’s down, why don’t you? the Doctor said, stopping in his tracks. Anyway, you’re the one who proposed it.
I didn’t TELL you to send her down there; you did THAT on your own. Now come on! Lisa said, grabbing hold of his arm and pulling him down the hallway. Before it’s too late.
Don’t remind me….
“There,” the Master said, placing a small pair of spectacles onto Stella’s nose. “How’s that? Better?”
“Why are you doing this?” Stella asked, sliding the glasses down onto the tip of her nose. “Is this some sort of torture? Befriend me, THEN kill me?” she asked, squinting at him.
“They belong on the bridge of your nose, not the tip,” he said, sliding them back where they belonged. He had taken her towards Tegan and Turlough, and then past them, to a room with so many different things on shelves and tables. He had sat her down into a wing-backed chair and had been making her try on glasses.
Stella hated being treated like this, but didn’t think she had much choice. The Master had been fussing over her like a true father. She slid the glasses back to the tip of her nose. “If you must know - yes, that’s better.” She quickly slid them back to the bridge, crossed her arms and sulked.
The Master sank into the chair in front of her, sitting in it backwards, with his hands clasped and arms dangling off the back. “Now, my dear, where is the Doctor?”
Stella quickly looked up. “Why do you want to know?”
“Quickly, my dear,” he purred. “I haven’t got time to waste prattling with you!”
“Prattle all you like, I don’t KNOW where he is!”
Stella, where are you?
“Where do you think?”
“I haven’t the foggiest, that’s why I’m asking you. Either you cooperate, or I’ll regret having to do this.”
“Again with the regrets - just vaporize me and be done with it!”
“That can be arranged….”
Stella, don’t antagonize him!
She took off the glasses, not wanting to worry with them at the moment. “Please, don’t start. I’m fully aware of the consequences.”
“Oh, but you don’t. That’s the thing,” the Master said, lifting up a hand to replace the spectacles to his daughter’s face. “I need you. The Doctor values you too much….”
“Oh, so THAT’S what this is about, is it?”
What what’s about?
“You want me so you can get at him? Don’t you ever come up with any new plans?”
Stella, you’re not listening to me! What plan???
“You underestimate me, my dear. I won’t be the one to get at him,” he said, getting up, walking over behind Stella.
She tried to get up, but he pushed her back down into her seat and held her chin up, bringing a watch down in front of her face, swinging it to and fro.
Stella! What plan?!
“Something’s wrong, she’s not answering me….”
“And this is your clue to something’s wrong?”
“Lisa, this isn’t the time.”
Don’t worry about it, he said, shaking his head. “Just help me, all right?”
Will invisibility help?
“Now, my dear,” the Master purred. “I want you to go outside my TARDIS and wait.”
Stella stared straight ahead, nodded once, got up and walked from him.
“Wait,” the Master said, thinking better of the situation. He got up and went over to her, taking the glasses from her face. “That way the Doctor can’t reverse it,” he snickered. “I trust you know the way out?” He waited for her to nod once, then dismissed her again, placing the glasses into his coat pocket.
The Doctor and Lisa had found the Master’s TARDIS among the several dozen in the docking bay, then the Doctor proceeded to pick the lock on the door.
“Useful thing, this,” the Doctor said, not looking up from his work.
“And what is ‘this’?” Lisa asked, smiling.
“Keep quiet, I have to concentrate,” he said, dismissing her question at once, and then said, “Quick, hide!”
No need, Lisa said, grabbing him by the hand and making them both invisible.
They stood and watched as the door slowly opened and a woman with short, chin length red hair stepped out of the time machine.
The Doctor’s hearts jumped. He let go of Lisa’s hand (or is that Lisa let go of his, hmm?) and he grabbed Stella up into a big bear hug. “I thought we had lost you!” he said, softly. “I would have never forgiven myself….”
“What’s wrong, Lisa?” the Doctor looked over to her with a quizzical look on his face.
She isn’t thinking anything.
The Doctor hadn’t even noticed that Stella hadn’t hugged him back as she would have done any other time. She just stood there. A bump on a log, even.
“Stella…? Stella, what’s wrong?” the Doctor asked, looking back at her, shaking her ever so slightly.
Doctor, its no use. She’s under his influence.
“No,” he shook his head. “Not again. I lost her once to him, I won’t let him do this to her again. One day her mind is going to break with all of the hypnosis he puts her under.” He looked into her eyes, finding only a lifeless stare. “Come on, Lisa, we’re taking her back.”
Stella hadn’t wanted to move from where she stood in front of the Master’s TARDIS, but at least the Doctor and Lisa were able to drag her away. They knew, from her fixation to the spot, that the Master had told her to stay put.
They had brought her back to the room where Mat and Drax were sitting and waiting for them.
“Eh, ’Fete? Wot’s you got there, now, then?”
“Stop calling me Thete, Drax. That was a long time ago.”
“Ah, roit, then. ’Oo’s the lady, then, Doctor? New companion, or sumfink?”
“Its Stella,” Lisa said, glumly.
“Wot’s the matter wid her, then? She looked different just a moment ago.”
“Very astute of you, Drax….”
The Doctor closed the door and then busied himself with a piece of paper and pen, scribbling down a note. “Lisa, she’ll be fine where she is - come here.”
“What’s the game plan?”
“What?” the Doctor asked, looking up at Lisa. “Oh, right. As long as the Master is preoccupied he’ll stay where he is.” He quickly finished writing, then rolled up the piece of paper and handed it over to Drax. “Take this to Flavia - straight to her, no detours.”
“Roit, Doctor,” Drax said, taking up the letter and heading out the door.
Now, the Doctor said silently, taking out a pocket watch from his coat pocket, looking past Lisa at a motionless Stella. I just hope this works….
“What if it doesn’t? I mean, to just hypnotize her and sit her out there for us to find… just to put her back right?”
“Lisa,” the Doctor whispered to her. “Just let me try.” He got up and walked over to stand beside Stella, swinging the makeshift pendulum in front of her face. “Stella, can you hear me? Are you watching?” She stared ahead, unmoving. “Stella, please, listen to me. You need to break free. I know you’re in there somewhere!”
Stella sat there, staring up at him.
Its no use, he told Lisa, coming back over to sit beside her.
She’ll come around eventually, Doctor.
“Its almost as if she’s just a shell. And, for once, I can’t reverse it.”
Stella blinked once and shook her head.
As simple as that? Lisa asked, watching her new friend come around.
The Doctor was sitting there with his head in his hands and hadn’t noticed that Stella had stirred. “That’s not funny, Lisa.”
Mat jumped up from his quiet hermitage in the far corner and moved over to the Doctor and Lisa. “She’s not kidding, look!”
The Doctor peered over his hands at Stella who was awfully quiet, a hand in her pocket, looking as if she were listening to someone.
“Stella?” he asked.
She quickly looked up at him, not making a sound, eyes wide.
“You know, I wonder,” the Doctor mumbled, getting up and half running towards a desk on the other side of the room. “These were my rooms when I was here at the Academy,” he said, sitting himself down in the chair and opening a file drawer, flipping through papers. “At one point, I do remember completing a paper on hypnosis. Should be filed… aha!”
“No, found my paper on Gallifreian Flutterwings and other indigenous species.”
Find the paper.
As the Doctor continued to flip through files, Stella started to move towards the desk.
Stella kept her right hand in her pocket, watching the Doctor as he went though the filing cabinet. She came around behind him, watching over his shoulder.
“Stella, please don’t do that, you know how much I hate it….”
Lisa was watching the red-headed Time Lady intently. She noticed that her hand was moving slowly out of her pocket.
Kill him, NOW!
Lisa caught the glint of metal coming from Stella’s pocket. Doctor, look out! Before Lisa’s eyes, the blade made its way down onto the desktop, the Doctor having moved out of the way just in time, clutching at a folder.
“Lisa, hold her down while I go through this.”
Lisa didn’t have to be asked twice, she quickly held Stella’s arms before she could round back onto the Doctor, her strength being what it was she wasn’t a match for Lisa.
Stella tried to free herself from her capturer as the Doctor sat, cross-legged on the floor, browsing though his folder.
“And just what is going on here?” Flavia asked, walking into the room. No one had noticed that the door had opened and Flavia, Drax and a guard had entered just moments after the knife had gone down and the culprit had been restrained.
“Just a bit of exercise, Flavia,” the Doctor said, still looking for any piece of information that might be helpful in reverting Stella back to her original self.
“And may I ask what kind of exercise you three are participating in that one of your number needs to be restrained?”
“A necessary one, Flavia. Have you apprehended the Master, or are you just visiting?”
“Just visiting, I’m afraid. He wasn’t found anywhere in the TARDIS bays.”
“Wot’s this ’ere, then?” Drax asked, coming over to the desk and pointing out the knife. “Wot’s my knife doin’ ’ere, eh?”
“Your knife almost got me killed, that’s what its doing there, Drax.”
“Now I understand,” Flavia said, coming over to sit beside the Doctor. “She won’t come around, then?”
“No,” the Doctor said, miserably.
“Mat, could you find a bit of rope for me?” Lisa asked her young nephew who complied, finding quite a lot of twine stuffed in the back of the small closet in the room.
“Will this do?” he asked, holding out the jumbled mass of string.
“Yeah, just sit that down, grab the knife and cut a few pieces of it. Long enough to tie her up with.”
Mat and Lisa worked together to keep Stella in one place without anyone having to hold onto her. (Lisa really wanted to help the Doctor, you know - she could feel his hearts breaking little by little every minute that passed.) Eventually they had tied her legs together, tied her to the chair that the Doctor had been sitting in earlier, and tied her arms together behind the back of the chair.
Feeling that this would be good enough, Lisa quickly went over to sit by the unoccupied side of the Doctor, looking over his shoulder to see what he was looking though.
What have you found?
Nothing yet. There’s just so much information to go through.
Flavia looked over to Lisa. “Are you sure that’s such a good idea? Leaving her over there by herself?”
Lisa cocked an eyebrow at Flavia. “Is it such a good idea to leave you two over here without a chaperone?”
Flavia frowned. “Don’t be so childish….”
Don’t even say it, the Doctor sent, sensing she would have said ‘There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.’
Before anyone could say anything more, a guard rushed in, out of breath. “Flavia, the Master… has been captured. Your immediate attention is requested at once.”
A bit redundant, Lisa remarked.
Flavia stood up and nodded to the guard. “Doctor, I wish you luck on your search.”
“No need,” the Doctor said, standing up and handing the opened folder to Lisa. “I’m coming with you.”
Left alone with the crazed maniac….
Not alone. You’ve still got Mat and Drax, the Doctor smiled, heading out the door after Flavia.
“Just my luck,” Lisa mumbled. “Stuck in a room again and left out when things get interesting.”
Lisa found absolutely nothing in that folder other than the stark consistencies and truths about hypnosis. Great, Doc, just great. A fine time to skimp on your schoolwork….
Mat had found out that the desktop was rather comfortable and sat there, swinging his legs back and forth. “Find anything, Lisa?”
“No, Mat, I haven’t.”
“Now what will you do?”
“I suppose we’ll just wait….”
“For the Doctor to come back,” Lisa sighed, laying the folder down beside the chair she was sitting in. She had pulled it from its original place and brought it over to Stella so she could sit beside her. To keep an eye on her.
Drax had taken to pacing the room over and over again, saying nothing.
What is it, Lisa?
There’s nothing in here worth mentioning.
Nothing at all?
The Doctor raked his fingers through his blonde hair, trying to figure out what might help - even though this wasn’t.
Try to go through it again, I’m going to ask the Master.
All right, Lisa replied exasperatedly.
The Doctor got up from the chair he had been directed to sit in almost 15 minutes ago and walked over to Flavia. “I’m going to try to get him to answer a few of my questions, is that alright with you, Chancellor?”
“Of course, Doctor. You have only a few minutes, though. He’s to be taken to the courtrooms very shortly.”
The Doctor nodded his thanks and went quickly towards the Master who was shackled and chained to the wall within a cell surrounded by steel bars.
“Ah, Doctor. I doubt you’ve come to set me free, so what can I do for you, hmm?”
“What have you done to Stella?” the Doctor asked, holding onto the bars with both of his hands.
“Isn’t it plainly obvious, Doctor?” he chuckled.
The Doctor scowled, then decided to rephrase his question. “How do I reverse her condition?”
The Master smiled. “I would think that it would be as plain as the nose on your face….”
“Well it isn’t. You’re going to have to give me a better hint than that.”
“You aren’t focusing on the problem.”
“You aren’t helping,” the Doctor said through somewhat gritted teeth.
“Oh, but I am,” he grinned. “More than you might imagine.”
“I hope that you have something more substantial after I ask you this: What, exactly, did you do to get her the way she is now?”
“Come, come! Surely you have some cryptic answer for that!”
“Don’t make a spectacle of yourself,” the Master said, smiling, as a few guards came to take him off to the court room.
The Doctor came into the room, obviously upset and obviously angry. “Lisa, Mat, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“He didn’t tell you anything?” Lisa asked, already knowing the answer before he could say it out loud.
“He was absolutely NO help. Cryptic answers and an irritating smile.”
Where is he now?
On his way to the trial room. He should be there in the next few minutes.
“All right, we’re going,” Lisa said.
Mat jumped off the desk and stared up at Lisa. “Going where?”
“I’d quite like to know the same,” the Doctor said, his head cocked to one side, apparently still mad about the Master.
“Where else but the trial room? I’d quite like to know how to get her back to her normal self again, don’t you?”
“Well, for starters, we don’t really know what her normal self is like, now, do we? And what’s more, you can’t just go puttying about trying to get her back to the way she was, she’ll never be her again. Or, at least, not in this particular time stream.”
“Yes, yes, I know all that. Now, are we going or not?”
“Can I push her, Lisa? Can I, can I?” Matt asked, eagerly.
“Ah, Chancellor Flavia, how splendid to see you!”
“Under these certain circumstances, Master, I would think you would stay quiet. For once.”
“Can’t a doomed man have a few last moments?”
Flavia ignored him for the moment as she heard the chamber doors open, and then saw the Doctor stroll in, followed by his band of merry fellows. Well, not quite merry and not all ‘fellows’, but this was the first little bit of internal dialogue Flavia came up with. And she frowned as she saw Stella being pushed in by the young boy to whom she was never introduced.
“Flavia, pardon me for intruding, but under the jurisdiction of these wonderful Lords of Time I wish to ask the Master, here, a few questions pertaining to my good friend. Perhaps he will answer truthfully and less cryptic in front of so many distinguished Jurors.”
The Master chortled.
“Go right ahead, Doctor. He seems to be in the mood for talking.”
“There are… other means of interrogation,” Flavia remarked, casually reciting just a few ways out loud. “Hypnotism, torture. Force. The Mind Probe.”
From out of nowhere, the Castellan jumped up from the seat he had taken among the jurors. “You can’t possibly mean to put any one through that… process,” he spat. “It isn’t constitutional, Flavia, to put someone on trial for one thing and then question him by such means on another! Even he doesn’t deserve that!”
“You mean to tell me,” Flavia said, voice rising with her body as she began to stand up. “That this man – this lowly excuse for any of our race – doesn’t deserve to be put through his paces? I am beginning to wonder where your loyalties lie….”
“I meant no disrespect,” the Castellan muttered, sitting himself back down, his voice somewhat wavering.
Flavia turned back towards the Doctor and the Master, slowly returning to her seat. “Well?” she asked the Doctor, who had been watching the Castellan intently while he had been standing.
“Nothing so… brutal, Flavia. Even for him.” The Doctor could feel Lisa wondering why not and could see the Master’s ever so penetrating, yet softer gaze. “You seek to win a favor from me, Doctor?” the Master smiled. “You’ll never amount to Flavia,” he jested.
“Not a favor,” he replied. “More like a compromise. You tell me how to reverse the process… and I’ll have a talk with Flavia on your behalf.”
“No,” the Master said rather flatly. “I don’t need anyone to talk on my behalf!”
I can see where she gets it, Lisa said, indicating the bound Time Lady in front of her.
“…and I have already given you all you’ll need to know.”
When was that? Lisa asked the Doctor.
“Yes, when was that?” he asked himself aloud.
The Master complied with a suitable answer. “When I was behind iron bars, of course, Doctor.”
“Thanks for being absolutely NO help whatsoever.”
“Oh, you’re quite welcome. Quite welcome,” the Master chuckled.
Stop struggling, let yourself stay still. You’ll be free soon enough.
Stella knew that voice, but couldn’t obey it. She moved this way and that, her motions hampered by the rope around her and the chair. She had to get to that voice, make it silent, somehow.
The scent of celery wafted towards her nose - the Doctor was standing over her. Stop, still. Quiet.
She had to make him stop, she wouldn’t have listened to him anyway.
The Doctor had wheeled her out of the doors of the courtroom, deciding that it would be best after Lisa thought he might make a scene. He had been trying to get Stella to listen to him, but she just continued to move, trying to wiggle her way out of the ropes, it seemed.
Do you think she can see at all? Lisa asked him.
Almost positive, the Doctor returned. How else would he have hypnotized her to this level unless it was at a subconscious level that… he could just call upon her whenever he wanted?
Kill him… break free… kill… the voice droned on inside Stella’s head.
Well… does the Master wear glasses? she asked him.
Not that I know of, why?
Because he had a pair in his pocket….
The Doctor looked up at his friend, a glitter of hope in his eyes, smiling from ear to ear.
Lisa smiled back, positively beaming, towards the Doctor, taking off her own glasses and handing them to him. Try these.
It took four tries for them to sit the spectacles upon her nose from her moving all about the place, and even then Lisa had to keep the Time Lady’s head still while the Doctor placed the glasses upon the red-head’s nose. He then took out his pocket watch and swung it slowly in front of Stella’s face until he could see her head swing very noticeably in time with it, and then her eyes began to drop, her head falling to a resting place in midair towards her left.
“Good girl, Stella. I know you can hear me now. Nod once.” He smiled as she gave a very small, hard to catch nod. “You are a fighter and that can be a beneficial thing for you - no matter how you use it. You are to use it now; not against me but against the hypnosis the Master put you under. Take as long as you need, there is no pressure. There is no time limit. You are the one who fights. You are the one who wins.”
Is this going to work?
It had better, I don’t want to lose her.
Keeping my glasses on her?
Mmm. “Do you understand? If yes, give me another nod -” The Doctor smiled again when he spotted another subtle movement. “- and I will leave you to work.” Taking Lisa’s glasses from Stella’s face, he handed them back to their owner. I’ll be back - hopefully before she wakes - with her pair.
Watch out for jacket-mouse traps.
Walking through the doors into the court room as though he owned the place, the Doctor gave a small bow to Flavia. “I am sorry to make such a quick return but we believe your evil person has something in his pocket. Something that belongs to Stella. Hopefully he will not deny access to it, she’ll be very upset if it isn‘t returned directly.”
“So you’ve gotten her back on to your side, have you? She was supposed to help me.”
Flavia gave a stern glance to the Master. “Unless you are asked to talk, I suggest you keep your mouth shut. If you do not comply, it will be forced closed. Understood?”
“I suppose. I also suppose you are in need of these, Doctor?” He removed a pair of glasses from his coat and carefully raised them into the air. “If this is all you want,” the Master said, his voice lowered, “I would love to have my daughter see me. Before I’m… taken care of.”
“I’ll have to make sure its okay with Stella. And Flavia, of course. But we’ll see what we can do.” Taking the pair of spectacles gently from the Master, the Doctor gave a nod to Flavia. “I hope to speak with you later, if that is possible.”
How is she? Okay?
Moving just a bit, but you haven’t missed much of anything.
Good. The Master seems to want to see her before his end. He seems to think she’s absolutely fine, now.
Mat was sitting on the floor at the base of the chair, looking up at Stella. It surprised him, totally, to find her eyes opening slightly with her whispering: “Would you take these ropes off of me? I don’t like being tied down….”
The Doctor heard her and raised his hand to the boy.
Mat understood and backed away.
“Yes, Celery Man?”
“Being mean or making a bad joke?”
“Hard to say. Which do you prefer?”
“I’d prefer it if you would sit up and look at me.”
Stella huffed and pulled herself straight. “I can’t really see all that well. Seeing your colors isn’t all that terrible but it does get a bit annoying after a while. The celery helps, I could probably pick you out of a non-speaking, cricket-playing crowd.”
“And what? Throw knives at me?”
“Well… possibly. If that’s what’s needed, sure.”
“Is she going to be put in a cage? Like her dragon?” Mat asked.
“I don’t know if she’s a Good Stellie or an Evil Stellie yet. When I know, you’ll know.”
“Now wait a minute!” Stella yelled.
What do you want?
“That was a highly unwanted thing to call me, Doc.” Bowing her head to hide her face, she sighed. “Just, please, take me out of this rope; let me off of this chair; find me a pair of glasses. Or don’t - keep me here and leave me alone. I don’t blame you for wanting to leave me here.”
It wasn’t your fault you tried to stab me, you’re forgiven completely. The Doctor gently placed the pair of glasses on Stella’s nose, giving her a slight smile. “Is that better?”
“Wonderfully so. I’d hug you, but….” Blinking, she smiled. “Winged Wonder!”
“Call me Lisa.”
“Not Winged Wonder?”
“If you happen to be completely daft at some point, I won’t mind it so much. You seem fine at this point, so …just Lisa.”
“Well, Just Lisa, I’ll do my best not to call you silly names.” …unless I’m far away and she can’t hear me. That might be fun.
Lisa almost glared. “You won’t be far away enough for me to be unable to hear you.”
A single eyebrow lifted itself on the red-head’s face.
The Doctor finished un-knotting the twine, placing it neatly into his coat pocket. Just remember, Stella. If anyone seems to think you’re a bit off your rocker, you’ll be tied up again.
“Ah, yes.” Getting to her feet, Stella walked the small distance to Lisa with hands in her pockets and a smirk on her face. “Miss Wonder, do you read minds? Did I pick a very wonderful name for you? One that you don’t want to be uttered anywhere by anyone?”
“Doctor? Who is this woman, this cohort of the Master? Shouldn’t she be in court with him? We don‘t want her letting him loose when no one is watching. Don‘t want her doing his work while, when and-or if he is unable….”
“Ladies, calm down. Everything is fine. No more teasing from either of you, understood?” Getting small nods, the Doctor continued. “Now, Lisa, come with me. Stella, I want you back in my TARDIS--”
“But I want to help, too!”
“I want you back in my TARDIS so you are kept safe. Both you and Mat have no use for getting trapped, kidnapped, or… anything else. While we‘re still here, there are things that need to be done before we can leave.”
“Doctor, if my father isn’t out here, what is there to worry over?”
“People who wish to do you just as much harm, perhaps?” Waving a hand, the Doctor gestured for Stella to move towards him - which she did without a second guess. Lending a whisper to his words, taking her by the shoulders with both a gentle look and a gentle touch, he continued. “He has people here that willingly do his bidding, Stella. People who will do anything to please him, people who can manipulate others almost as easily as he can. You do better to be inside my TARDIS, with Mat, protecting him and yourself. You’ll do that, won’t you? For me?”
With down-cast eyes, a sigh and a nod, the Doctor was given an answer. Because Stella complied with an affirmative response, however, she was shocked to end up in a big hug afterward.
“Brilliant. Tag along, Mat - Stella will take you someplace safe. We’ll meet back up soon enough.”
Watching as the Doctor let go of the young woman, Lisa gave an inward sigh. Doctor, she’s very sad - she was hoping to win your favor back, I think.
Mmm. “Stella? Where would you like to go after this? I’ll take you anywhere you like before taking you home. Think of it as a reward.”
“I’ve done nothing for such treatment, Doc. Take me home and forget about adding me to your fellowship of companions - I’ll have none of it!” Turning her back to him, she began walking away - destined for the docking bay which held the Doctor’s ship. “Come along, Mat!”
Mat, of course, scampered after her before he was chastised by his aunt or loudly yelled at by the woman.
Why is she so upset? You’re doing her a favor, why can’t she see that?
Don’t worry over her, Lisa. She’s just a little hot under the collar; she’ll cool down soon enough, if I know her. “Right. Master’s TARDIS; retrieve Tegan and Turlough; reset the lock and make sure the Master can’t enter again.”
Giving herself a mental pat on the back for both her performance and her quick hands, Stella smiled. The Doctor had basically left her to her own devices, why not follow through here and there?
“Yes, Stella? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong, you silly boy!” Noticing him giving a slight wince at the tone of her voice, she stopped herself. “Sorry, sorry. Nothing’s wrong. I just wanted to ask if we’re going the right way, that’s all.”
“You won’t let me get off course, will you?”
“Good. Don’t need us getting lost, do we? How much further will it be, eh?”
“Well! Aren’t you the enigmatic encyclopedia?”
“Nothing, nothing. Nothing to worry your little head over. Aha!” Stella said, grinning after spotting the blue Police Box. “Here we are, then.” Taking a few seconds to find her copy of the key, she managed to open the door without a hitch. “In you go, Mat,” she said, holding the door wide and waving inward with her free hand.
“No, no - ladies first.”
“But, Mat, I insist. Youth before elders, in my eyes.”
“Aren’t I older than you? You just happened not too long ago….”
“I am far older than you are, don’t toy with me. If you do not enter first, you will hurt my feelings.”
“But maybe I like to hurt your feelings….”
“Child. Do you wish me to show you things you would rather never see in all your life? I can arrange it, if you choose. Your worst nightmares to the tenth power. To the one-hundredth, perhaps, if necessary. Right here and now, without the help of the TARDIS. Maybe even give you a taste, sway your choice….”
“No, no, I’m going!” Catching the warm smile emanating from the woman, he knew he had made the right decision. Unfortunately, as soon as he was inside the Console Room, he realized that he had been quite mistaken.
Stella did not follow the boy - instead, she closed the door and locked it, making certain that the boy would not be able to get out until she returned. Keeping her thoughts cloaked as much as she could manage, she traipsed through the docking bay to find a suitable swap for her father.
Eyeing a Type 64 B, the Time Lady dug about in her pocket for the item she was proud to have pilfered from the Doctor earlier: the universal lock pick. A few seconds’ time passed after her work began and the door graciously swung open as if to welcome an old friend.
Though she did not do very well with machinery, Stella understood the principle behind her own TARDIS’ chameleon circuit circumvention and went to work with this machine’s abilities to make them more like those of her own ship. Stealth over process, here, she reminded herself. This has to work, it just has to….
“Doctor, I’m not sure what’s going on with that friend you have. She’s a bit… muddy.”
“Muddy? How so?” Turning down another hallway in the Master’s TARDIS, the Doctor paused in his journey to question Lisa’s wording.
“Her mind is jumbled. Confusing. Tossed all together like a salad, though it seems to be coated with a dressing of some sort. One of those uniform reasons behind the general direction that all of her mental cogwheels are turning, though I must say I’ve not figured out what that reason is just yet.”
“Caesar, possibly. Not sure which part she’d be willing to play, but still.”
Lifting an eyebrow, Lisa was about to ask what exactly he meant by that quip but stopped herself short when she heard two people down the hall calling for the Doctor. “I think we’ve found them - come on.”
Having gotten all of her plans in order, Stella made her way back to the Doctor’s TARDIS, unlocked the door and made her way back inside.
“What did you go out there to do? You were supposed to be in here with me.”
“Lost my lucky inking pen along the way, no worries. See?” Stella said, smiling and fetching a red pen from her duster vest’s pocket to hold up for his viewing pleasure. “Do you know where a bit of parchment would be?”
“I need to draw up a contractual obligation between myself and my father.”
“So you needed your lucky inking pen to write your construction obliteration?”
“Contract, you silly goose!”
“…yes, that is the sound a goose makes. It is also the sound a truck might make when you are standing in it’s path of obliteration! You do nothing but vex me; I’ll find what I need on my own.” Turning to duck deeper into the TARDIS’ halls to find what she could use, she only took a few strides before stopping in her tracks. Closing her eyes, she muttered: “Why are you following me?”
“Because you need my help?”
“Go sit down on the sofa, that’s all you could ever possibly do that would be any good for me.”
“The Doctor has a small office to the right, here.”
Curious, Stella opened the door on her right to find a room in wood-tones with many intricate, handmade pieces of mahogany furniture. There was a writing desk on the far side with a stylish lamp sitting on the higher portion of the desk‘s shelving. “…okay, so maybe I was wrong. You can be helpful. Sometimes. When you want to be.”
Moving into the room - allowing Mat to do as he wished inside as long as he made no huge fuss - Stella made her way directly to the desk, pulling the desk’s chair away to take a seat and then tugging the drawstring for the lamp.
“Here you go!” Mat said, bringing rolls of sturdy paper to the desk, flopping them merrily onto the bare top. “Anything else?”
“No, no, thank you. You’ve done wonderfully, little one.” Taking all but one roll and placing them into a cubby on one of the shelves, Stella took the roll left on the desk and placed it so that it lay flat. Smiling, she clicked the top of her red inking pen and began to write.
“Yes, everything is as it should be, Tegan.”
“So she’s awake and moving about, now?”
“Yes, Turlough, she’s awake and moving.”
And still really hard to figure out.
Giving a mental shush, the Doctor smiled as he opened the TARDIS doors, walking in and… frowned when he wasn’t seeing anyone in the Console Room. “That’s strange. Where are they? She said she‘d be here with Mat….” Moving farther into the ship, he called both of their names - hoping to have an answer - and stopped right at his office door. “What’s going on, here? You should have replied ‘Here we are, Doctor!’ when I called your names!”
“That’s rather droll, don’t you think?” Stella muttered, putting finishing touches on her document. “Besides, I’ve been working. Can’t pay attention to frivolous things which are trying to catch me off guard and just wishing to throw me for a loop, now, can I?”
“Where’s Stella?” Tegan asked, peeking in and glancing around the room. She quickly put two and two together and deduced that the woman sitting at the desk with the furrowed brows was the woman she had thought was missing. “Oh, hi, sorry! How are you feeling?”
“Obviously oblivious of how unwanted I am - how are you, Tegan? Last time we saw each other I was blonde, wasn’t I?”
“And--” Blinking, Stella stopped herself and gestured towards another person peeking into the room. “And who is that?”
“She’s completely mental, isn’t she?”
“She hasn’t met you face to face before now, Turlough,” the Doctor warned. “If you’re not careful, she may bite - I can‘t protect you if she tries.”
“Isn’t it marvelous?” Stella chirped, forgetting completely the conversations she could be having with the two people behind the Doctor and pointing out her laborious efforts amassed on paper.
“Isn’t it just? Rather proud of it, really.”
Sighing, giving in to what his friend wanted, the Doctor put on a smile. “What is it, Stella?”
“She said it was a construction obliteration.”
“No, no - bad Mat! He can’t cling to words, Doctor, the poor thing. Associates words he’s never heard of with things they sound like. Contractual obligation. Between myself and father, he just needs to read over them and sign. Bit of personal protection for the future, if he holds his end.”
“Ah, yes.” Nodding to himself, finishing a read-through just before the Time Lady made to put the paper back down, the Doctor smiled. “Wonderful wording. I’m sure he would be proud of… you.” Pausing for a moment, his jaw still hung on the vowel, he made to speak again. “Were you planning on visiting him again? Stella, I’m not sure that’s wise.”
“I’ll have my glasses off the whole time, no problems there. Would you actually allow them to take a girl‘s father from her without letting her say good-bye first?”
“No. No, I think not. I’m supposed to see Flavia soon, anyway. We’ll see if we can set things together, check if it would be possible to have the two of you meet again before we leave. Your father said--” Taking another pause, both to think back and to figure out what was actually going on, the Doctor’s voice faltered.
“Hmm? What did he say?”
“You know, I can’t rightly remember. Something about wanting sweets, I think. Mumbling, the poor fool; he probably couldn’t believe he was actually where he was….”
What are you going on about? Lisa asked, peeking about the door. “Ah, yes, I see you’ve found her.” She’s still all muddled, Doctor….
Not now, he replied, waving a hand away in a dismissive fashion.
As soon as the woman opened her mouth, Lisa understood why.
“Not now, what?”
“Ah, yes, well! Earlier she was talking about trying to get you to reconsider going on an outing with us. I’d rather not see the two of you fighting - verbal or otherwise - so I was trying to nip it in the bud, as it were. After all,” he began, trying his best to put on his sad puppy face, “I’ve already seen a bit of tense words between the two of you. I’d rather not see any more of that, if you don’t mind?”
“Mmm. Fine. But, you know, it is quite a wonder that she would like me to be on board for much of anything.”
I’m going to leave that alone, she’s looking for trouble. “Quite.”
Watching the winged wonder move back towards the Console Room and taking the other two companions with her, Stella concealed the smirk she was feeling creep upon her lips. “Are we both to see Flavia? Seems odd, really; I’ve not had audience with anyone here since school… except upon their need or my supposed wrong-doings.”
“If you want to come along, say hello, I don’t see why you can’t.”
“Can I come, too, Doctor?” Mat asked, jumping up from the work table on the other side of the room.
“No, Mat. You’re to stay in this ship; it won’t take us too long.”
After the short visit to see Flavia to get things in proper order, the Doctor led his two ladies down to the cell in which Stella’s father was being held.
I still can’t figure her thoughts out, Doctor.
Regeneration - its normal to be like that, I think.
“What are you going on about?”
“Oh, silly me. I hate talking to myself, you tend to pick up my thought patterns so easily.”
“Might help if you didn’t mentally shout. Try whispering next time, Doc …I might not hear you.”
She’s right, you know. Giving a slight smile, Lisa placed her arm around his. Would you ask her why she’s… you know, not happy? I’d ask, but she might try to yell at me.
“Stella, is something troubling you?”
Giving a slightly defeated sigh, the red-head gave a short shake of her head. “No, I’m fine.”
“You’re not happy, though. I’m so used to you beaming, being a little ray of sunshine. You aren’t coming down with something, are you? Stella?” Turning his head to look directly at her, the Doctor noticed that she was watching the floor as she walked, holding onto her parchment with one of her hands and the crook of her other arm, with that arm’s hand holding her red pen tightly.
Is she afraid of him?
“Look, Stella, if you don’t want to see him--”
“No, its not that.”
“Then what is it? And don’t say ‘nothing’ to me, young lady, you’ve already put yourself into the line of questioning by your own wording.”
Stella gripped her pen tighter. “I’m afraid he will think of me as a disgrace. To see his own daughter, not bothering to help him out of this and then presenting him with something to sign?” Looking over to the pair beside her, she tried to keep herself from crying. “He might even call it his death warrant.”
“No, if he says anything of the sort, he doesn’t mean it. They are just words, Stella, remember that.” Stopping at about a dozen yards from their intended destination, the Doctor held out his hand. “Your glasses, if you would? He’s third down, right where that guard is standing.” Taking the pair of spectacles from the woman’s hand, he smiled. “Just ask if you can step inside, you shouldn’t have any problems.”
Nodding, Stella went down to the specified area and glanced over to the bars. Without turning back to the guard, she asked if she could go inside to talk with the prisoner and the guard complied without question.
“You mean to tell me you can move about without that pair of glasses I gave you?”
Taking a seat on the bench beside the Master, Stella gave a gentle pat to his hand. “I had them on until a little while ago, father. I do appreciate what you’ve done for me, don’t doubt me there. Please don’t doubt me there.”
“I can doubt you on whatever I wish. It is up to you, however, to prove me wrong. What do you have for me?”
“Something to read through and, if you are content with what is written, I’d like you to sign it.”
Taking the proffered roll of parchment from Stella, the Master glanced at his daughter’s face. “What is it, exactly? What do you want? No lies, no half-truths, just the pure facts.”
“I… want you to be happy.”
Giving a distasteful snicker, the Master shook his head in complete disbelief. “That isn’t true, is it? Otherwise you would have found a way to help me escape. And you would have come with me, completely, to help with whatever I needed you for, whenever I needed you. And because you haven’t, you aren’t my daughter.”
“Unroll that, please? Read it - if you sign it, you might be incredibly surprised with how much of a daughter really I am.” Watching his non-gloved hands instead of his eyes, she noticed he wasn’t bothering to do as she asked. “It’s a simple task, father. I did do my absolute best to make it visually appealing….”
“Do as Stella asks, or simply tear the object in half? Decisions, decisions.”
“Would you really want to be branded with making your own child--” Giving a quick gasp, she couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. “--cry?” she squeaked, realizing that the Master had managed to sit the document to the side before taking her by the shoulders, all in one quick series of motions. “What are you doing? There’s a guard…!”
“Is there? I’ve not noticed. I have noticed, however, that you’re trying to hide something. Look at me. You aren’t wearing your glasses, Stella, you can look at me.” Giving a slight smile when she finally lifted her head and glanced up at him, he took a hand off her shoulder and placed it gently under her chin, to tilt it ever so slightly upward. “What are you planning?”
“I’m, I’m planning to have a safety net, father. So I can be away from you.”
“Ah, but you will already have one, my dear. They’re putting me away, just as you’d like. An animal in a cage - that’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?” Seeing the way her face changed, he knew she had done something that would help protect him. The sincerity…. “You know I’ll be taken care of, don’t you?”
“In the best way possible. Just as long as you humor me, father.” Lending a whisper to her voice, she added: “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” With a slight wink, she gave him a smile.
Letting go of her chin, the Master tweaked her nose in a friendly fashion, then let go of her completely to retrieve the parchment. Unrolling it, he began to read it through.
She’s taking an awfully long time in there.
Getting the guard’s attention, the Doctor asked him to make sure Stella was okay. The guard made a quick check and came back down the hall to the pair waiting.
“They’re going over whatever that bit of paper has on it. I trust this is suitable, Doctor?”
“There hasn’t been anything… odd going on, has there?”
“Not that I’ve noticed.”
“Just be sure to keep an eye on them for me. I let her go by herself because she wanted to present her contract to him without any help from me. That, and we both knew he’d start in with his riddles and twisting of words before he’d do anything to help her if he saw me….”
“Of course, sir. I’ll put in a quick check every few minutes.”
“That’s all you’re wanting?” Seeing Stella giving a nod, he smiled. “Splendid. I can deal with only seeing you when you come for a visit. And,” he said, seeing her lift an eyebrow, “I can make sure we keep it completely friendly. No danger to either of us. You’ve done remarkably well, here… did you do this on your own? Or did the Doctor draft this for you?”
“What do you think, father? After all, he was too busy trying to free his companions from your TARDIS when I had the time to put this together….” Handing over her lucky red inking pen, she nodded to the paper. “Just needs your signature, that’s all. A father’s promise in red ink.”
Taking the pen, the Master signed his name as ‘Magnus, Lord of Time’ across the signature spot on the bottom of the contract. Just under that, he scribbled a little something in Gallitrexian - a short sentence, nothing special - and handed the pen back to his daughter before rolling the parchment up once more.
“Thank you.” Stella stood and gave him a quick hug, making sure to whisper in his ear before leaving. Backing away a few steps, keeping her eyes on him, she called to the guard to open the door.
“I see you’ve come to retrieve your puppet, Doctor.”
Gritting his teeth, the blonde Time Lord narrowed his eyes ever so slightly. “Come along, Stella. Before he tries to play games with us; he only sees you as his pawn, you know that.”
“Yes, Doctor, I’m coming.” Glancing down at her pen, she gave a sigh. “You know what, father?”
“What’s that, my dear?”
“You can use as much luck as you can get. Here,” she said, going back to him and handing over her pen. “May it do you as much good as it has done me.”
“Tell your mother I… wish her well. I’ll visit her when I can, soon as possible.”
“Did he sign?”
“What? Oh, yes, well, here,” Stella said, fumbling for words, thrusting the parchment towards the Doctor. “Signed and scribbled, didn’t have time to read it.”
Aww, Lisa cooed.
But its… so very odd, but sweet. In an odd way. Sort of, maybe.
Keeping her eyes on the floor, ignoring the random whisperings coming from the Doctor’s mind, Stella waited for the Doctor to either tell her what it said or set co-ordinates for her home.
He ended up doing both, at the same time. Handing the contract back to the red-head, the Doctor went to the console and got things together for their departure. “’I can not express my happiness in words. You’ve grown.’” Glancing up to watch the time rotor begin to bob when dematerialization set in, he smiled. “Apparently you’ve finally pleased him, Stella.”
“Father liked knowing I did all of it on my own, I think. He liked knowing that I didn’t ask for your help.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to go off on an adventure with us?”
“…home, Doctor. I want to go home.”
Glancing down at Stella’s lucky red inking pen, the Master waited. He waited until he knew she was far out of range. He waited until he knew no one was capable of seeing his escape.
The great disappearing act was about to begin.
“Thank you, Stella. I… I will keep my word until you regenerate again,” he whispered. Clicking the top of the pen to retract the ball-point cartridge, the Master vanished into his newest acquisition: a Type 64 B TARDIS. As soon as he set new co-ordinates, the ship itself dematerialized.
Inside the jail cell, the lucky red inking pen dematerialized, too. There were no sounds indicating such, however, and no one noticed the Master’s disappearance until it was entirely too late.