Author's note: Prologue: Wherein a prisoner has no name and an ex-president offers assistance.
Something looks wrong about the stars.
It's not just that the Master hasn't seen them from this angle in what seems like a lifetime, although that's true. He feels a faint ache in his chest as he stares up, trying to capture this picture before it's gone forever. But something is wrong, different. Just different enough to make him uncomfortable, not enough to be striking.
But, it's only to be expected. Stars move over the centuries after all. And he's been gone a while.
He wishes he could see the stars from on top of a hill covered in red grass, like old times, instead of through bars. He wishes he could pull out his telescope and point to all the constellations, laughing at Theta as he struggles with them and eventually gets ridiculous and says he doesn't need to know what stars are called because planets are more interesting. Theta always loved planets, burning with life. The Master always loved stars, burning...well, just burning, really. Theta isn't here now, though. And if he had a telescope, he'd be able to see the Daleks hovering in the atmosphere. He knows this. But prison has made him a bit of a sentimentalist.
The door opens, and he looks around to see Romana enter. She is tired, and she looks sad. She has wrinkles and stress lines all over her face. There is one long scar on her cheek.
"Ma-" She stops and corrects herself. "Koschei."
One of his punishments was that his name had been revoked. He was just Koschei now, a child once more, too young even to pick a name. The ultimate insult.
"Romana." He acknowledges. "Are you here to escort me to an execution, or is this a personal call?"
She sighs. "Personal."
"Oh, goody." He says softly. "Yes, we do all die, and no, I can't recreate my escape for you. Thanks for playing, come back next week."
"I'm not here to ask you questions." She says. "I'm here to offer you a proposal."
"My schedule is booked with staring out the window for the next few hours, could you come back later?"
She glares at him. "Listen to me, Koschei. This is important. The Doctor's life depends on it."
That makes him listen as nothing else would have.
"Go on." He says.
She sits down next to him on the dirty cot, angling to look him in the eye.
"I don't want the Doctor to be alone." She says. "You don't want to die. We could find a mutual goal in there, don't you think?"
"I think I already said that I can't recreate my escape." Koschei reminds her.
"Not locked in a cell, you can't, no."
He raises his eyebrows. "Continue."
She lowers her voice so she won't be overheard, speaking in a deep, important tone. "I've made a deal with the Rani. I know, I know, but desperate times and desperate measures, you understand. She found out that they were going to leave her behind when they ascended. She's offered me her extensive laboratory if I can get you out of prison. She told me this idea she had, almost poetic, really, where the only people left after the war would be the three renegades they tried to condemn to death."
"And you agreed?" Already, his mind is racing with the possibilities. If he had access to technology like the Rani's...
"The connection to Earth...persisted for a while after the portal closed. We got faint signals, and most of it was the Doctor, ranting. Ranting and screaming about how he didn't want to die." She looks solemn. "I'm worried for him. He can't handle loneliness. Even you would be better than nothing."
Koschei nods, stands, and smiles.
"A renegade scientist, a makeshift laboratory, a former president and I on a dying planet covered in Daleks. I think I can work with that."
I will try to update this about daily. I have more written but I need to tweak it. The best way to keep me writing is to review and critique. :)