He hadn’t heard from her – nor of her – since the Time War. And now, here at Near Enough, the Doctor sees why that is so.
The space station was aptly named: in safe orbit the first stars in all the universe, stars that were only three years old right now. Well, three years after they started burning. Not the neighborhood of the Big Bang – no way to see anything, not that early.
The Rani had manned this station alone during the Time War – defending the dawn of the universe from the Daleks. One woman - one o so glorious woman! against uncounted armadas.
She’d won - we all did, insofar as much as was possible, considering the stakes and the combatants - but the dying Dalek fleet on the edge of this solar system (empty, this early on, without anything local heavier than – not now) had lashed out in its last moment of conciousness… rupturing the station.
The Rani was mummified. The Doctor looked at her, ran one spacesuited hand along the contours of her face, never touching, always a centimeter from her toughened skin. Skin that, in life, was so alive. Not since the ages before the Gallifreyans became the Time Lords has there been a mummy of their species.
“We disagreed from time to time,” he says, not sure why, but it feels right that he do so, “but show me somebody I’ve never disagreed with, and I’ll wager I’ve never met him.” It tugs at his hearts, being so close, and yet so distant. The Rani is borderline dead: finish the job, and she’d regenerate, coming fully to life.
He can’t feel her, can’t sense her presence…but doesn’t dare wake her, can’t bring himself to unleash her upon the universe. If not for recent memories of the Master with the Toclafane, he would. He’d bring her back.
So, not feeling her, he aches.
She was blonde now.
She was doing a favor for a friend when she re-met the Master: Ace was teaching. Seeing some guy coming in and sitting down halfway through her lecture, she did the only reasonable thing.
She called on him. “You there! Why don’t you tell us what’ll happen in a Big Crunch scenario.”
“Very well,” he replied, crisp and smooth. “If such an event were to occur, everything in the universe would slam into each other with all possible force, until there remains only a single pinprick of matter and energy. A pity it’ll never happen.”
“What makes you so sure?” one University student asked.
But Ace didn’t need to hear his answer. She could see it on his face: absolute certainty. This here was no tragic philosopher, and she’d lay odds that he wasn’t from UNIT. That left… a time traveler. “I’d like a word with you after class,” she told him. If he was the Doctor in some new regeneration, she had some choice words for him. More than a few, in fact. Just up and vanishing like that! Leaving her all alone.
He’d been right behind her, just two steps. Then he was gone, and without even a sound from the TARDIS those yards away at the time.
After the class ended for the day, this man came down to the teacher’s desk Ace was using. “Yes?” the Master asked.
“What’s your name?” Ace wanted to know.
“John Smith,” pulling out his wallet and showing his psychic paper badge. “Lately, Harold Saxon, Ministry of Defense.”
‘John Smith.’ That’s one of his pseudonyms. “Professor?”
“Oh I’m afraid my teaching days are long behind me.” Though I do believe there’s still a lesson for the Doctor.
“Sorry, you reminded me of a f- of somebody I used to know.”
“No worries then. What was his name - I might know him.”
Saxon made a big show of astonishment. “As it happens, I do know the Doctor. He – oh, I really shouldn’t say.”
“Really shouldn’t say what?”
Looking contrite and awkward, “The Doctor may have fallen in the Time War.”
Time War? Anything to do with his vanishing on me?
“I was there, at the end of the universe, and that was the last I saw of him.” Shaking his head as it to clear out the cobwebs, “Seeing as I’ve got a TARDIS, would you care to come with me? We can look for him.”
That was before Ace saw the end of time, in all its stark and horrid barrenness. It touched her mind, touched her in a way neither Fenric nor the Destroyer had been capable of.
This is an AU of _Keeper of Traken_...no Ainley!Master
Nyssa was done her tending for the day, and was about to walk away from the statue, when –
“Who said that?” she asked, looking all around, seeing nobody.
Answered the statue, “Walk around me,” she was instructed.
“Okay,” Nyssa said, and walked a circle around the statue. Found nobody there. “Now where are you?” standing before the object.
And before her very eyes, a man emerged from the statue. Or ‘emerge’ was a pale shadow of what he did – step through the solid-looking object, his edges shimmering until he was fully departed from it.
“You’re hurt!” Nyssa exclaimed, and wrapped her arms gingerly around him, walking him to a bed where he could be properly tended to.
He permitted the manhandling, but once they were got to a bed, he gripped her arms by the wrists. “And what of you?” the Master asked.
“What of me?” she asked, puzzled.
“What do you want?”
“I want for nothing.”
“Good. But I did not ask what you want for – I asked what you want.” A deliberate pause to ensure she understood, “I can read your mind, if need be. So can the Doctor.”
Not my intended reaction. Still… “Envy, in a small measure. And of the one who had tended me before your appointment.” Finding what he was looking for, the Master used it to guide him as he kissed Nyssa on a very sensitive spot of the Traken lady’s face – more hormonally-charged than the lips of a human.
Soon enough they had collapsed onto the bed, Nyssa never stopping her tending to him, though, not wanting him to be harmed.
“But what about -?” Nyssa started to ask, only to be shushed. “She’s tended your – to your -” ship? base? refugia?
“She is a tool,” the Master soothed her, whispering to her. “You are more.”
“Thank you,” she said.