“And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad. The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had.”
The Master is searching, but he’s not entirely willing to admit he’s searching for the Doctor. That seems too desperate, too lonely. But it’s true. And since he’s alone in this building, it seems like a waste of energy to try to deny it. He can’t quite describe how anything is different; the Doctor is his adversary, the reason for so many of his devious schemes. It frightens him that he can’t remember the source of his discontentment any more. The drums had overwhelmed it, many years and many regenerations ago. He wonders what exactly the Doctor did to him, that dark day on Gallifrey, where he looked into the Doctor’s eyes and saw only forgiveness. Forgiveness, and that crushing sense of burden the Doctor always carried. It had to be some trick, had to be. But that wasn’t really the Doctor’s style, that was his style. And he found that he didn’t really have any ulterior motive for finding the Doctor. There was no trick, no ultimate plan to destroy him or steal the TARDIS.
Is this what the Doctor had meant to do? Or had that just been a side effect of removing the drumming? That ceaseless drumming that had been with him every hour, of every day, for almost a century. It was gone. He remembered being afraid, afraid of what he might be without the constant sound of the drums. Afraid that they were a fire that burned within him, and if it were extinguished, there would be nothing left of him but a charcoaled shell.
But he had been wrong. Instead of a fire, it was an anchor, an anchor that tethered him to the bottom of the sea. And he had been drowning, all this time. He had no idea. How could he have known? But it had defined him, of that he was certain. And he was finding it rather difficult to sift through the broken pieces now that it was gone. There had been so much anger, so much bitterness that had soaked him so thoroughly. Who was he now, if not the Doctor’s sworn enemy?
He had woken in a warm grassy field as a completely new man. The vortex manipulator hadn’t worked again, of course, no doubt to do with the Doctor’s meddling. But he wasn’t as bothered by that as he was by the fact that he didn’t know where he would go if it were working.
Everything just felt off, and he had never really had that before. He was afraid. It was different than the fear he had felt when he had been resurrected to fight the Dalek’s. He still remembered the icy dread as he watched their entire empire spread across the front lines, watching as it bore down on Gallifrey. But this fear, this fear of the unknown. That was somehow more powerful than the day he had fled the war. It filled him with a sense of humility, and he was not a humble man.
So now he was searching, at first it had been for a purpose, something to do with his newfound…life. But now he knew, he was looking for the Doctor. In all that time he had spent as a time lord, he had generally spent it alone and it had never bothered him. But it did now, as he worked in this old factory, no company save his own shadow. His memories haunted him, with so little to distract him. The silence in his mind was deafening.
He caught glimpses of his past; faces, names. Old, long forgotten moments. He remembered his time as Professor Yana and wondered if he really was such a bumbling old fool. But he immediately regretted thinking it. That man had lived with purpose, and responsibility. He had taken it upon himself to save humanity; he built them a ship, a ship that would take them away to somewhere safe, where they could live out their simple lives. He remembered Chantho, and how cruel he had been in the end. He wasn’t entirely sure, but he felt as though he regretted his actions. He pushed that thought away, remorse was a weakness, no matter what the Doctor had done to him, he would not let it diminish him.
There. His attention was drawn back to the simple screen. What was that? The TARDIS? No, too small, too insignificant, and yet, it was making a remarkable blip on his crude radar, so it was definitely something. He felt a grin stretch across his face, feeling some sense of direction for the first time in weeks. Even if it were just an excuse to delay the inevitable meeting with the Doctor, he would take it.