31 August 5192 (Earth Standard Date)
(One Standard Day Previously)
The thing with being a Time Lord was that they did have an excellent sense of time.
The problem with being a Time Lord was that they did have an excellent sense of time.
It was how he knew that Phillip had been screaming for nearly two days.
How a human throat could make those sounds for so long was horrifying.
Ward had tied Phillip to a chair, and then had fetched the mind probe, as Lucy had taunted the pair of them. She’d given up on trying to convince the Doctor to join with them without even elaborating on her idea of revenge, which was a disappointment as he’d hoped to rebuff her efforts after she’d done a bit of monologuing. It would have been something to pass the time.
For the first hour of the torture, the Doctor had tried to bargain with them to let Phillip out of the machine.
It hadn’t worked.
The second hour, Ward had started using physical means in order to convince Phillip to give up the codes.
That hadn’t worked, either.
The screaming had actually started during the third hour.
The Doctor wondered just how much pain Phillip could deal with.
Then he recalled the procedure that had brought him back to life.
As it turned out, the immortal could deal with quite a lot.
It was the original formula, the GH325. It was allowing Phillip to regenerate both his physical and mental injuries fairly quickly. There would come a time when it wouldn’t be able to keep up, and the damage would accumulate.
That was what had the Doctor very worried.
Phillip could take a lot of punishment. And he had, many times in the past. But nothing like this. He was trapped within the mind probe, and it was burrowing deep into his brain, trying to pull out the codes that Lucy and Ward wanted.
And yet, Phillip was fighting them.
The thing about a mind probe was that it couldn’t be fought. At some point, it would get past all of those formidable mental defences that Phillip had, courtesy of his own strength of will and the GH325, and the Doctor was quite honestly frightened that he wouldn’t be able to heal from that sort of catastrophic damage.
It went on…
Fourth hour, and he lost control of his bodily functions. Ward thought that was hilarious.
In the sixth hour, Ward got bored and left the room.
He didn’t come back until the eighth hour.
By that time, Phillip has screamed his voice out.
He sat there, bound into the comfortable chair by so many ropes he resembled a mummy, his mouth open, nothing coming out.
The Doctor wasn’t even certain he was breathing.
The ninth hour, his voice suddenly came back.
The tenth hour, Lucy seemed to lose interest. She and Ward had sex against one of the unbroken cases while the Doctor watched.
Honestly, what was it about this millennium and its lack of shame?
But what bothered him more was the fact that they seemed to get sexual gratification at Phillip’s agony. It sickened him.
The eleventh hour had Lucy reading the Darkhold.
The Doctor, while not being magical himself, could actually feel the build-up of power in the room as she read, the pages flipping faster and faster as she turned one after another, completely absorbed in what was on those cursed pages.
He didn’t at all ignore the fact that the writing on the cover was in Gallifreyan. Which was impossible considering it was a book that originated on Earth.
At least, he thought it did. Or maybe it had a version of the translation circuits, like the TARDIS?
He didn’t know a thing about the Darkhold, beyond what Phillip had told him…and that was far too little. It was a book filled with dark magic, and that was it. The Doctor needed to know more, and he was hoping he could get Lucy to tell him.
It would get his mind off his friend and those terrible screams.
The first time he attempted to ask about it was in the twelfth hour. Ward had slapped him to shut him up. Then he’d slapped Phillip for good measure.
Not that Phillip would have even noticed, so lost in his agony as he was.
It wasn’t until the sixteenth hour that he had another chance.
That left the thirteenth and fourteenth hours.
The Doctor had to suffer through those in silence, but that wasn’t nearly as bad as what Phillip had to suffer through.
And in the fifteenth hour the immortal lost consciousness.
The Doctor was pitifully glad of it.
However, it pissed Ward off. He tried to get Phillip to awaken by the simple expedient of beating him, and then left in a huff, saying he was going to get the resuscitator from their ship.
That left him alone with Lucy again and, without the screaming that had left his ears ringing, he posed his question once more.
This time, Lucy answered, as she cradled the large book in her arms as if it were a child.
“The Darkhold contains every dark spell ever written,” she answered, her voice somewhat dreamy, as if she was lost in her own thoughts. “In here,” she patted it proprietarily, “is the spell that will let me access the data print in the ring and bring my Harry back from the dead.”
“But what is the Darkhold?” the Doctor insisted. “Where did it come from? How did it get here?”
“It’s billions of years old, written by an ancient god. It was once called the Book of Sins, but that doesn’t really fit it all that well. It fell into SHIELD’s hands, and then was moved to Torchwood. Since Merlin was once the Head Archivist, we thought he’d know where it was, since our spy within Torchwood couldn’t find any mention of it in their files because it was above his security clearance.”
This was the first he’d heard they had someone inside of Torchwood. Phillip was going to be pissed off about that.
If his mind survived the probe, that was.
“So you kidnapped Merlin and used the mind probe on him.” The Doctor’s voice was full of scorn, but he just couldn’t help himself. Having seen what the machine was doing to Phillip, he could only imagine what had happened to his son.
“Of course! And he told us that he’d had the book sent here. It was really quite brilliant, if you think about it! Hiding a book among so many books…no one would have thought to come here! And then the Vashta Nerada had swarmed, and it became impossible for anyone to come and claim it.”
“Until you killed most of the Vashta Nerada,” the Doctor accused.
Lucy shrugged. “I can use the lifeforce that I took from them to help bring back Harry. It was an acceptable sacrifice.”
“Nothing is an acceptable sacrifice!” the Doctor raged. “The Vashta Nerada weren’t hurting anyone, as long as no one came here!”
“But I needed to come here to get the book. Killing them was the simplest solution.”
The Doctor narrowed his eyes. “How are you that powerful?” The magical bomb had been enough that Phillip had actually considered that Merlin had been responsible. The Doctor had seen the readings himself, and he could certainly understand why.
“It was an easy matter to steal some of Merlin’s own power to help me,” she bragged. “He truly is the most powerful of us all.”
It was becoming more and more apparent that Lucy and Ward had most likely killed Merlin. The Doctor mourned his son, even as he mourned the man in the chair. Phillip was showing signs of consciousness, and when he woke up the torture would begin once more.
Ward arrived back with the kit.
The seventeenth hour, the screaming began once more.
In the twentieth hour, Lucy left. The Doctor wondered just how they were managing to avoid the Vashta Nerada that had to have been regrouping in the area. It was as if neither one of them was afraid of the creatures.
In hour twenty-one, Lucy came back, wanting to know where the Doctor had parked the TARDIS.
The Doctor lied and told her that he and Phillip had come via the teleport.
Instead of going for him, they posed the question to Phillip.
Phillip kept on screaming.
It went on and on.
Twenty-four, and the Doctor thought he couldn’t handle it any longer. Anyone who would continually torture a person like that didn’t deserve any sort of mercy.
During hour twenty-five, the room suddenly got very cold.
The chair that Phillip had been secured to began to ice over, small crystals forming on the plush material. One of the ropes snapped as it became too friable under the onslaught.
Phillip’s magic was breaking free.
The Doctor tensed. He only had to wait, and both Ward and Lucy had left the room, most likely to have sex again…although why they’d felt the need to do that, he had no idea. Still, it gave the Doctor hope that they’d stay away long enough for the magic to do its work.
The Time Lord himself was practically hogtied, and wouldn’t be able to help at all. He could only watch as the ice crept about the room, up and over the screaming Phillip, until it eventually reached the mind probe mechanism.
It didn’t have a chance to work, however.
Ward came back in, and shot Phillip with an odd-looking gun.
The projectile struck him high on the chest, and the ice stopped its incessant movement.
The Doctor wanted to curse. Whatever those bullets were, they were some sort of anti-magic, and while chances were they’d do very little physical damage they’d cut off Phillip’s magic as if some sort of switch had been flipped.
Those are what they must have used to capture Merlin, he realised.
It wasn’t until hour twenty-seven that the immortal regained enough of his consciousness for the mind probe to be re-applied.
It was silent until the twenty-ninth hour.
Then the screaming began again.
It was at this point that Phillip began to speak, instead of scream, but it was at a whisper, his vocal cords destroyed.
“Let me die,” he begged hoarsely.
The Doctor shivered at the plea.
This had to have been how he’d been during the travesty that had been the TAHITI procedure. Phillip, strapped down to a metal table, and in so much agony he was pleading anyone who would listen to let him die. Hearing that from such a strong person was hearts’ breaking. How had Phillip’s own friend and boss done such a thing? Why had he submitted Phillip to this?
In hour thirty-three, Phillip’s vocal cords had regenerated once more. He’d gone into a litany of the same, screamed, sentence, “Let me die!”
In that moment, the Doctor wished he could. He wished he could end this man’s suffering. If he’d had the codes Ward and Lucy had wanted, he would have given them over willingly. What those two were doing was inhumane, and it was at that moment that the Time Lord once again renewed his Vow of Vengeance, this time for Phillip, who didn’t deserve to go through this again.
Once in a lifetime was enough. Even when that person was immortal.
Ward had laughed. Lucy had simply rolled her eyes.
It was then that the Doctor finally got it.
During that year with the Master, the Doctor really hadn’t witnessed the mad Time Lord’s torturing of Jack. Of killing him, over and over, and in as many ways as he could come up with. There had even been that one time he’d been told that the meat at the Master’s table had been ‘harvested’ from the ‘freak’ down in the bowels of the Valiant. But it had all been somewhat abstract for the Doctor, who’d been held up on the bridge of the airship, and had in many ways been insulated from what was going on down below.
So, he really hadn’t known what Jack had gone through.
If it was anything like what he was seeing now, he understood why Ianto had taken the Master’s life, even though the Doctor didn’t have the deep, emotional attachment to Phillip that Jack and Ianto had.
He’d never take Jack’s – anyone else’s – immortality for granted again.
The Doctor knew then that, while Phillip might come back from this, he would never be the same. That this was depraved, and would haunt the Doctor’s dreams for a very long time. If he could have, he would have gotten up and happily killed Ward for what he was doing to Phillip all in the name of resurrecting the very man who’d done almost the exact same thing to Jack Harkness.
Thirty-five. The Doctor tried to make a deal: he’d get the codes for them if they’d let Phillip go. There must have been something of the immortal left within the screaming wreckage, because he stopped screaming for a second and then, in a voice that sounded as if rocks had filled his larynx, had demanded that the Doctor shut the hell up and let them get on with it.
It had the effect that Phillip must have wanted: the Doctor pressed his lips together and didn’t say another word.
There was no way he wasn’t going to honour the request, even if it wrecked him as well.
In hour thirty-six, Phillip passed out once more. Ward tried to bring him out of it, and for about a minute the Doctor thought that the immortal had finally passed.
However, the resuscitator worked too well.
The screaming – now a rattling cry that was more of a harsh panting that anything else – started up almost immediately.
Thirty-eight, and Ward was getting seriously bored. He decided to take it out on the Doctor, but he wasn’t as imaginative as some of the torturers the Time Lord had spent time with in the past. He’d be sore, and bloody and bruised, but he would endure much like Phillip was doing in some unimaginable way that had the Doctor respecting him more and more, and yet cursing him for fighting the probe in the first place.
Thirty-nine, and Lucy was beginning to truly show her madness. The screaming was most likely the culprit.
“Why isn’t he breaking?” she demanded.
Ward was frowning at the question. “It must be his immortality. It’s allowing him to fight the mind probe.”
“And how long did you last in it?” the Doctor couldn’t help the taunt. Anyone else wouldn’t have made it through the first hour; he was well aware of just what such a device was capable of. The Time Lords had had their own version of it.
“Shut the fuck up!” Lucy shrieked. She launched herself at the Doctor, catching him across the face with her nails, raking four lines down his cheek.
She pummelled him with her fists, until Ward pulled her off. “He’s just trying to get to us,” he soothed her, holding him against his chest. “He can’t play his mind games with us if we don’t let him.”
The Doctor’s cheek stung, but he was gratified that he could rattle Lucy like that. Yes, it hadn’t worked on Ward, but that was fine. He could tell the man was getting impatient, and at some point he was bound to make a mistake.
He just had to be patient, as hard as that was.
Hour forty. Ward was hungry, and he and Lucy shared some prepared meals even as Phillip was begging once again to die.
The Doctor wanted to throw up, but there was nothing on his stomach to come back to visit.
At hour forty-one, the Doctor wasn’t sure how both Lucy and Ward were still awake. Surely, they would have stopped the torture long enough to get a nap?
Hour forty-two, he realised they’re taking some very powerful stimulants, which explained the lack of sleep.
The Doctor himself wasn’t sleeping out of sheer horror.
He very much doubted he’d sleep much in the next several years, not without nightmares.
It was in hour forty-six that Phillip, finally, broke.
It was almost two days into the pain and degradation.
The Doctor couldn’t help the relief he felt in the moment the first line of code fell from Phillip’s lips.
It took another full hour to milk him of every code he had, because he was having trouble speaking, as well as breathing. His heart must have been misfiring from all the abuse his mind and body had been put through.
He had to have been very close to death, and it had taken him that far for him to finally give in.
Ward triumphantly removed the mind probe.
Phillip slumped forward, completely and utterly unconscious.
“We have what we need,” he said. “I’m going to let Garrett know.”
“I’ll come with you,” Lucy volunteered. “I’m tired of this place anyway.” She picked up the Darkhold, clutching it tightly. “Leave them here. They can’t get away.”
“We’ll need to start the next phase anyway,” Ward agreed. “And, if the Vashta Nerada happen to show up…”
Lucy giggled. “It would be nice to sacrifice their lifeforce to bring Harry back, though.”
“Then we’ll leave the lights on.”
“I want to sleep in a bed, too.”
Ward wrapped an arm around her waist. “That is an excellent idea. I can think of another thing we can do in bed as well.”
He kissed her roughly, and the Doctor barely restrained from making a sarcastic comment. He wanted them to leave, not have sex in front of him again. Once was enough, thank you very much.
They did leave them alone then, in the silence of the dead Library around them. The Doctor was glad of the quiet; the screaming was done at last.
He looked over at Phillip, hanging limply from the ropes that bound him to his chair. There was blood caked in his nostrils and ears, testament to the damage his brain must have suffered under the assault of the mind probe. Bruises mottled his face, and his lip was swollen from the beatings Ward had given him, his clothes torn and soiled from his loss of control.
His hearts went out to the man. No one should have had to go through that.
Phillip’s head moved slightly, and a soft groan floated into the air between them.
“Phillip?” he called out softly, afraid of what he might see once the immortal was fully conscious.
Another groan, and Phillip was looking right at the Doctor. His eyes were hazy with pain, but they were aware, and the Doctor let out the breath he’d been holding. “Doctor?” it was more of a lip movement than any sound, but he could tell that Phillip knew who he was.
“You’re going to be alright,” he said, encouraged. His now semi-alien biology, the GH325, and the magic he’d accidentally inherited from Loki had done what the Doctor had thought impossible: it had allowed him to make it through the worst session of torture he’d ever witnessed. And some he hadn’t, his mind going back to Jack’s time on the Valiant.
Rough coughing came from the injured immortal, but then he spoke, his voice stronger. “I hope they bought it.”
“What?” the Doctor exclaimed.
A tiny, satisfied smile curved Phillip’s bloody lips. “Those weren’t the correct codes.”
“You gave…” the Time Lord spluttered in outrage. “Why couldn’t you have done that hours before and spared me the hearts attack I very nearly had?”
Phillip chuckled, but it descended into another coughing fit. “I’m sorry…next time I’m tortured for information I’ll try to break quickly and spare your delicate sensibilities.” His humour faded. “It was close. I had to make them believe I’d finally broken. But I was going to anyway. It was only a matter of time.” He rested his head against the back of the chair. “Thank you, Doctor.”
“Why are you thanking me?” He was confused.
“For not giving in. I know you wanted to.”
“You were in agony. I wanted…I needed to spare you anymore. You’d already been through enough.”
Phillip’s head rose once more. His eyes were clearer now, and back to that icy blue colour that heralded his magic returning. “And yet you went along with me when I told you not to bargain.”
“I wasn’t about to denigrate what you’d gone through when you asked me not to.”
He looked so very exhausted, and the Doctor wanted nothing more than to bundle him up in the TARDIS and let him heal for as long as it took.
However, he knew that wasn’t possible. They needed to stop Lucy and Ward from enacting their plan. “Do you think you might be able to use your magic to get us out of here?”
“You’re going to have to give me some time to regenerate my power,” the immortal admitted painfully. “I don’t know what Ward shot me with, but it’s muffled my abilities.”
“Take your time,” the Doctor encouraged, even though he wanted to be up and moving. He knew he couldn’t rush Phillip’s recovery, not if he wanted to avoid doing any more damage.
They still needed to find out what Ward and Lucy had done with Merlin. If his son was still alive, or if they’d killed him.
Although, from Lucy’s parting words, the Doctor doubted it. She would need power for whatever ritual they would be performing to bring the Master back to life, and his would have been perfect. The magical release would be tremendous, and Lucy wouldn’t want to risk not having enough to make the spell a success.
Phillip might have a chance to rest a little.
But they really needed to escape.
All they needed was a plan…