THE DOCTOR and the Master, it seemed, were on equal footing. They were circling one another, round and round the central console. The Master kept pace with the Doctor, following behind to flick those switches and punch those buttons that he had forgotten, never missing a step. Selene and Mohana—who had chosen to stand far apart in the dimly lit control room—were left to watch the unfolding scene with a mixture of wonder and bewilderment. During one of his frantic orbits, the Doctor nearly collided with the bearded android in black. “Step away from the console,” he snapped, pulling at his cape. “I don’t want you touching anything.”
“You don’t?” the Master said, raising his voice in mock offense. “If I hadn’t taken charge of this antique capsule of yours you’d be living out your remaining regenerations in the Dark Ages. How quickly we forget.”
He wasn’t wrong. The Doctor had been growing more impatient and irascible by the day. With the Master and this Indian concubine in tow, he hadn’t even taken the time to ensure that Selene was aboard before dematerializing at Kingdom Kernow. “He has trouble with ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’” Selene interjected.
The Master turned on his boot heels and his piercing stare was upon her, pinning her to the spot. In an instant she was the centre of attention, and the intensity of it unnerved her. “Indeed. Believe me when I say that you, my dear, have my sincerest gratitude for your role in my… resurrection.”
Selene shrugged and offered a weak smile. “I enjoy a challenge, and you are—”
“You are to leave her alone,” the Doctor said sharply, his attention still fixed on the controls. A rumble reverberated through the control room as the TARDIS took flight.
“Civilized society is built upon good manners,” Mohana said slyly from her side of the control room, her gleaming eyes on the Doctor, “but there is something enticing about a man with an impenetrable façade.”
The Master lifted a finger as if to reply but was instantly silenced.
“Her, too!” the Doctor shouted.
The Master sighed. “I think it’s shameful, don’t you? The way that he treats his travelling companions like pets. And now I find myself enlisted among those unenviable ranks.” He turned slowly, placing both hands upon the console, and leaned forward to confront the Doctor. Suddenly the charm he so often injected into his commentary was missing from his voice. “Why? Why have you done this? Why am I here?”
The Doctor paused in his calculations just long enough to return the android’s accusatory stare. “Don’t ask me. Ask the Time Lords.”
“Ah! The strings are pulled from Gallifrey!” Shifting to one side, the Master pressed at a nearby keypad and then took a moment to review the readouts before him. “And yet, here we are, spiralling through the vortex toward the dismal blue ball they call the Earth. Tell us, to what do you owe your obsession with this suburban nightmare of a planet, Doctor?”
“It’s his favourite,” Selene offered.
“Mine, too.” Mohana said with a smirk.
“If you can hold back your condescension and your mockery,” the Doctor said wearily, conceding, “then perhaps you can help me.”
The Master tugged at his black gloves briefly before reaching for an array of dials. “I’ve been trying,” he hissed.
“Norfolk. England. Earth. We need to return to the seaside village of Arrowdown, about three decades prior to our last visit. The Divinity are waiting.”
There was a gravity in the Doctor’s statement that silenced everyone in the cavernous control room. After a moment of listening to the time rotor wheeze and groan as it rose and fell in the central column, the Master broke the silence. “You never learn, do you?” he said softly, bitterly. “You cannot rid the universe of evil, Doctor, no matter how desperately you might try. You cannot save your pet planet, no matter how many times you might intervene in its history. The Divinity. You want to face them again? Your companion. Your freedom. Your sanity. What will you lose this time?”
The TARDIS landed with a sudden thud and the dinging of a tinny bell. In a flash the Doctor consulted his pocket watch and then made a show of buttoning up his greatcoat. “Fears are to be faced,” he said and, as he stepped toward the doors, he paused to look the Master in the eye. “And evil is to be kept close at hand.”