The TARDIS landed with its usual groaning noise. This time it was Rose’s turn to stare at the door with uncertainty. She didn’t want to go out there. They were on Earth, 2010. Christmas Eve. The Doctor had calculated that this was the most likely time that they would find the Master. And that was the last thing that Rose wanted to do.
But what she wanted to do didn’t matter. She had to. The whole of time was at stake.
She made a step towards the TARDIS doors but stopped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see the Doctor looking at her in a way that was a little too familiar. He wanted her to sit this one out.
‘I know you don’t like staying on the side lines,’ he began, ‘but, please – just this once – stay here.’
And this time Rose almost wanted to agree with him. She wanted nothing more than to stay as far away from the Master as possible. But there was one thing that was stopping her. Something that she couldn’t ignore.
‘I’m not leaving you to do this alone,’ she told the Doctor. ‘I’m not the only one who suffered at his hands. And he used to be your friend. I know how hard this must be for you.’
Something that Rose wanted to call love shone in the Doctor’s eyes for a moment before the concern returned. ‘He stopped being my friend a long time ago,’ he said. ‘I have no illusions that we could go back to how we were, even if he is the only other Time Lord out there.’ Rose opened her mouth to protest but stopped when the Doctor gripped her hand in his. ‘Please, Rose,’ he begged. ‘Just stay here. You don’t have to face him again. I promised that I wouldn’t let him hurt you again and I intend to keep that promise.’
There were a few tense moments where they just stared at each other before Rose finally admitted defeat. ‘Okay,’ she agreed.
The Doctor let out an audible sigh of relief and leaned forward to kiss her forehead. ‘Thank you,’ he said, softly.
He made to leave but turned around at the last minute and walked back up to her. She didn’t have time to ask him what he was doing before lifted his hand to the back of her head and brought his lips to hers. ‘Stay here,’ he whispered once he had pulled away from the kiss. ‘Stay safe.’
This time he did leave and Rose sat down on the jump seat to begin her nervous wait for him to return.
She waited five and a half hours before she decided she couldn’t take it anymore and left the TARDIS.
Rose had no idea where the Doctor may have been (she should really ask him to carry a mobile phone on him one of these days) so she had decided that the best place to start would be to go see Wilf. He had been in the Ood’s visions and that meant that somehow he was connected to whatever was going on here. Night had fallen by the time she had gotten into the right area of Chiswick and she was more than a little jumpy. A stray cat had darted across an alley a few blocks back and she had had her sonic screwdriver out in an instant, pointing it at the animal threateningly. She hadn’t been entirely sure how it would have helped her fight off the imagined assailant but she had seen the Doctor do it before so there must have been something in it.
To be fair, she had good reason to be a little on edge. The Ood’s visions had shown her held captive by people who, more than likely, were in league with the Master. And that was a situation that Rose was keen on avoiding. So if overreacting to every little sound she heard meant that she would be ready if anyone were to try and take her, so be it.
It was such a pity that tranquiliser darts made no such sound.
Rose cried out, more out of surprise than pain, as she felt the sharp tip of the dart hit her neck. She pulled it out and stared at with blurry vision before she fell to the ground and all went black.
Rose groaned as she woke from a groggy sleep. She sat up and rubbed the spot on her neck that was unusually sore. It wasn’t until she took in her immediate surroundings – a damp room that was lit only by candles and torches – that she remembered what had happened.
Well, that explained her sore neck. The bastards had shot her with a tranquiliser dart. So much for avoiding the Ood’s vision.
‘Mrs Saxon,’ said a woman's voice, making Rose jump to her feet. She wasn’t alone in the room. Along with Rose, there were about seven other people, most of which standing in the shadows at the edges of the room, making a circle.
‘You’re a hard woman to find,’ continued the woman who had originally spoken. She was middle-aged with blonde hair and dressed in sophisticated black clothing. She turned to the woman next to her, an older looking woman with fair hair and a serious face (Rose recognised her as the woman who had picked up the Master’s ring in the Ood’s vision). ‘Miss Trefusis, if you will prepare.’
Miss Trefusis gave a curt nod and left the room.
‘Who are you lot, then?’ asked Rose, looking around the room at the others. ‘What’s all this about?’
She didn’t get answer.
‘Make her kneel,’ said the blonde woman who was obviously the leader of the group. One of the people behind Rose grabbed her arm and tried to force her to the ground. When Rose resisted, another person joined in and she had no choice but to succumb. But they couldn’t stop her from glaring at the woman in front of her. ‘There are those of us who never lost faith,’ explained the woman. ‘And in his wisdom, Harold Saxon prepared for this moment. He knew that he might die and he made us ready. Tonight, Mrs Saxon, he returns.’
Rose tried not to shiver at those words but she suspected that she had failed in that regard. Thankfully no one noticed. Miss Trefusis had returned. She held out the Master’s ring.
‘As it was written in the Secret Books of Saxon, these are the Potions of Life,’ said the blonde woman as the ring was put into a bowl that was on a stand in the centre of the room.
‘The Secret Books of Saxon?’ asked Rose. ‘Seriously?’
Even in death, the Master was overdramatic.
An array of unpleasant looking liquids were also poured into the bowl and Rose decided that now was her only chance to try and stop this. These people obviously had no idea of who the Master really was. They didn’t understand the threat he posed.
‘Look, I don’t know who you lot think Harold Saxon is,' she said, 'but, trust me, you don’t want to find out. He will kill all of you without a second thought. Please, whatever you’re doing, just stop.’
But she was once again ignored.
‘Miss Trefusis, the catalyst,’ said the leader of the group and Miss Trefusis moved towards Rose, her expressionless face revealing no indication of her intent.
Rose tried to get to her feet but she wasn’t quick enough. Miss Trefusis grabbed the back of her head with one hand and used the other to wipe a tissue across Rose’s lips.
‘What was all that about?’ asked Rose as Miss Trefusis walked back into the centre of the room.
‘You were Saxon's wife. You bore his imprint. That's all we needed. The final biometrical signature.’
‘Please, you don’t know what you’re doing,’ Rose begged but it was no use. Miss Trefusis dropped the tissue into the bowl and a flash of light erupted from it. The blond woman backed up a couple of steps, obviously not expecting such a violent reaction. Soon the beam of light that was coming from the bowl turned into a swirling vortex.
‘Please, stop this,’ Rose tried again. Maybe it wasn’t too late. ‘If the Master comes back, he will kill all of you.’
But the woman’s shock at the burst of light had faded and she now looked more resolute than ever.
‘We give ourselves that Saxon might live,’ she said. Her words were more than just a promise made in retaliation of Rose’s plea; they were an offering.
Rose watched in horror as a light appeared in the centre of each of the bodies around the room and flowed into the vortex in the middle. It was like it was sucking their very life force from them.
‘Don’t do this,’ begged Rose. ‘He’s lied to you. Saxon isn’t even his real name!’
‘And this was written also,’ shouted the woman as she and the others lowered themselves to their knees, arms stretched out wide, ‘for his name is the Master!’
At the woman’s declaration, a figure formed in the centre of the vortex – a figure that Rose had hoped never to see again. Rose scrambled to her feet and stared in shock at the half naked form of the Master.
‘Never. Never. Never. Never. Never dying,’ he said, his eyes displaying an insanity that shocked even Rose. ‘Never dying! Never dying! Never dying! Never dying!’ He threw his head back as he laughed… he looked exactly how he had done in her dream.
After his inane laughter had died down, his eyes focussed on Rose. ‘Oh, Rosie,’ he said, holding his hands out to her. ‘My sweet Rosie. Did the widow's kiss bring me back to life?’
Rose couldn’t seem to move, she was frozen in fear. All the nightmares she had had over the past week had suddenly become frighteningly real.
‘Can't you hear it, Rosie?’ continued the Master as he placed his hand on his ears, as if trying to block out some incredibly loud sound. But Rose couldn’t hear anything – just the swirling wind of the vortex. ‘The noise? The drumbeat louder than ever before. The drums. The never-ending drums.’ He lowered his hands back down to his sides. ‘Oh, I have missed them.’
Suddenly the contents of the bowl started sparking ominously.
‘No!’ cried the Master before looking back up to Rose. ‘Something’s wrong. The bio signature has been contaminated. What have you done?’
‘Did you really you would be the only one to ever kiss me?’ asked Rose, proud of how steady her voice sounded despite the fact that she was trembling inside.
‘But it would take more than mere human,’ he spoke the word like a curse, ‘to contaminate…’
Realisation dawned on him and he opened his mouth to say something more but he didn’t get the chance. More sparks erupted from the bowl, so intense that they almost blocked the Master from Rose’s view entirely.
Now would probably be a good time to get out of there.
Finally, Rose’s legs started working and she didn’t look back as she ran out of the room. She had no idea what was happening but she assumed that the Doctor’s DNA had gotten in the way of the bio signature that had been collected from her lips and now the Master’s resurrection was going haywire. With any luck, it would backfire completely and Rose could get out of the building (which looked to be some sort of prison) before the whole place went up in flames.
But when had Rose ever been that lucky?
She was almost out of the building when the explosion happened. The force of the blast sent her flying forward through the air and she landed face first on the ground. Bricks from the prison wall rained down on her and for the second time that night, Rose lost consciousness.
The Doctor walked back into the TARDIS in a foul mood. He had been out almost all night but he had found no trace of the Master or the woman who had picked up his ring.
‘Rose?’ he called out as he closed the door behind him and walked up to the console. He expected her to come running into the console room but after a minute or two had gone by with no sign of her, the Doctor began to worry. He briefly considered going searching for her in their bedroom or the library but decided it would be quicker to do a scan of the TARDIS. He had a nagging feeling that he shouldn’t be wasting time with a fruitless search.
Thirty seconds later the console beeped and confirmed what the Doctor had feared. Rose was no longer on the TARDIS. He growled in frustration. He knew he should have come back sooner. What the hell was he thinking staying out so long? Of course she would have gone out to try and help him. She was never one to stand by and do nothing. He should have known better than to leave her in the TARDIS. He had been trying to protect her from what the Ood had foreseen but, in doing so, he may have made it happen.
He grabbed the TARDIS phone and dialled Rose’s number. He let out another frustrated growl when it went straight to voicemail. He slammed the receiver down and headed back towards the TARDIS doors, his coat billowing behind him. He had to find Rose before the Master did. He just hoped he wasn’t too late.
Joshua Naismith watched the video that was playing on his laptop. It was footage of Broadfell Prison from the previous night. The prison had been destroyed in an explosion that nobody knew the cause of. Well, almost nobody. For Joshua had good intelligence that the prison had been where a man had been brought back into this world. A man who could make all of Joshua’s plans become reality.
The door to the study opened and he cast his eyes away from the computer screen to watch his daughter, Abigail, walk in. ‘I think we might be in luck, darling,’ he told her as she placed a hand on his shoulder and leaned down to get a better view of the laptop screen. ‘It's last night's footage from Broadfell Prison. Take a look at this.’
Joshua skipped the video to the most interesting part. At first the image showed nothing but the bright flames that had engulfed the ruins of the prison, but then a silhouetted figure ran across the camera’s view. The figure ran too fast to be distinguishable in any way but Joshua was almost certain of who it was.
‘Someone survived!’ gasped Abigail. ‘Do you think it's him? Oh, that would be such a Christmas present.’
Joshua chuckled. He got up out of his chair and turned to face his daughter. ‘You just leave it to-’ He was interrupted by a knock on the door. ‘Come in,’ he called and two men in sharp suits entered the room. They were carrying an unconscious woman in their arms.
Abigail almost squealed in glee and Joshua’s smile grew. ‘Is she still alive?’ he asked and the men nodded. ‘Good. If we wish to gain the help of Harold Saxon, it will be most useful to have his wife in our care.'
He instructed the men to tie Mrs Saxon up and to let him know when she regained consciousness. Then he and Abigail walked out of the study and into Joshua’s favourite room. It was the biggest room in the house and was beautifully lit by the sun that shone through the domed glass ceiling but that wasn’t why he loved it so much. The reason why Joshua liked this room above all others was because of what was inside it. His master project.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he addressed the scientists in the room, ‘it seems help is at hand. Christmas is cancelled. Prepare the gate.’