Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A lost segment

Here, for the first time, is the Prologue to Time's Champion, featuring the Master roughly concurrent to The Mysterious Planet (from the Doctor's perspective). Enjoy! :)

Doctor Who
Time’s Champion

Darkness was the natural state of the chamber — no light had broken its blindness for so many years; and during those long, uninterrupted years not a single soul had disturbed the silence of the machinery woven throughout the cavernous space, which silence deafened every surface, down to the very walls. Until now.
SPACEChuckling. A smile flashes. Happiness — not a welcome aspect of the Master’s nature, but satisfaction and success were more than capable of uplifting his face in triumph. This face was illuminated by the light which radiated around his head, casting sharp shadows across the terminal where he sat. His deep black suit reflected none of this light, thereby making the Master’s chiseled countenance the only visible object floating still in the space; the rest was darkness.
SPACEHe was amused by the sights which he saw, visions which the light about his head afforded him. The source of this light was an ornately decorated gold circle which floated around, without quite touching, the Master’s head. And through this circle, the Master’s mind would be crowned with the greatest tool at his disposal-Knowledge, knowledge which could only be bestowed by the Matrix.
SPACEThe Matrix. What a concept it truly was. At the thought of it the Master drew in a breath with the deepest pleasure. How could one describe the Matrix in simple terms? Indeed, there were many simplistic terms by which one could attempt to define this masterpiece of technology: a Brain Storage System, the Ultimate Computer; the Repository of All Knowledge; the Sum Total of all the thoughts and experiences of the Entire Time Lord race; The Perfect Machine.
SPACEYet anyone trying to confine the Matrix to such a basic design was nothing more than the lowest simpleton, for through the Matrix, One could comprehend the Infinite! Here, within this vaulted pinnacle of Time Lord Technology, all preconceived notions of reality were challenged, refuted and discarded, and in this freedom from all supposed natural laws, the Matrix was the law unto itself.
SPACE“And yet,” the Master admitted inwardly, with just a glare of disappointment, “if only I had been its architect. It could have been so much more.” The Master’s smile faded into the shadows.
SPACENo more time for the shortcomings of the past; now comes the long-awaited future. The Master tensed his body and steeled his mind for the journey which he was about to travel. True, he had wandered down the Matrix’s pathways before, but this time was different. On this occasion, he was authorized. Authorized … The Master bristled at the allowance, noticing nearly too late that the future was already there …
SPACEThe Matrix is accessed. The Master’s mind revolves around it, twists about, dives into, crawls through, consumes within. The Master? Who is he? Why is he here? Why be alone, why not merge into light? No. The light is great and brilliant. The darkness is deeper. Unseal the mind’s eye, become the event horizon, focus the vision, attract the light, consume the light!
SPACEA drop creates a ripple as it falls into the depths of the sea. The drop struggles to direct itself against the crushing pressure of the surroundings; the rising tide of time’s fulfilling revolutions. The drop finds its bearings, buoys itself upwards, bubbles itself outwards, bursts, and breaks forth from the surface of the sea with the force of a tidal wave. The Master rises up from the depths of ignorance and lifts himself up to the height of prophecy. He arrives successfully. Time to think normally now.
SPACEThe Master stared about himself and continued to feel disappointed — just as it was around his body outside the Matrix, so was there only a void of darkness around his mind within. All of the Infinite at his disposal and it could only present itself in such a predicable manner. No matter, there would be time for creativity shortly. His gaze fixed forward, The Master strode ahead, taking no notice of his new form; he already comprehended his appearance. Whereas outside he carried himself within the acquired body of the Trakenite Tremas (which all the power of that planet’s Source could not support for much longer), within this mindscape the Master formed himself as all of what could be, and what he should have been - before Terserus, before the fire, and the whelp … Enough.
SPACEHe was whole now, and possessed different purposes in being here, although, like everything in his Universe, and most likely beyond, the paths which the Master pursued led back to only one origin — The Doctor.
SPACEThe Master sneered at all levels of his being at the thought of his enemy — he even had to force himself not to conjure up a mental image of the current incarnation. He had seen enough of that one, with his ever-expanding ego and his (incredibly) deteriorating dress sense, to afford irritating himself at the moment.
SPACENevertheless, one man’s irritation was now the least of the Doctor’s concerns, especially when compared with the united paranoia of the entire Time Lord community. With one part amusement and another part annoyance, the Master recalled such a pure expression of paranoia on the face of the Time Lord who had first involved him in this dangerous speculation.
SPACEAt that very moment a bright light flared before the Master’s face and he saw a flaming orb suspended directly before him. The Time Lord halted in his tracks, reminded of his current location, where one’s most private thoughts were always in the public eye.
SPACE“I do not require rehearsals!” he shouted, his head and eyes snapping upwards intensely. “Nor my intelligence insulted!”
SPACEDespite his disapproval, the orb’s flames scintillated outward, isolating the Master’s mind from the Matrix gestalt and began to boil away the surface of his memory. Within the fumy haze of his mind’s view, the Master saw, forming from the smoke, the words, “Just so you don’t get any unwanted ideas into your head.”
SPACEThe smoke gathered thick and resolved itself into the very memory the Master had recovered just before the orb had intruded him: the paranoid face of the indignant Time Lord …

* * *

“Co-Ordinator Vansell of the CIA. How inventive of you to visit me in my TARDIS. Unfortunately for you, I do not welcome visitors here, even when they are the most unmemorable of guests.”
SPACEVansell, his hands tensing at his sides spoke with halting defiance, “Before you exercise your property rights on me, I have something of great importance which even you must value — The Doctor. Ah, I see that I’ve touched the right nerve. Good. You may lower your weapon now.”
SPACEThe Master walked slowly towards his former acquaintance and, being appreciably taller, lowered his TCE to hover directly before Vansell’s eyes.
SPACE“Of course,” the Master replied with suave, agreeable tones. The deep shadows of the Master’s TARDIS suddenly contrasted even more with the brighter shades of pale on Vansell’s face. He swallowed briefly, and stated, “Thank you.”
SPACE“Now,” Vansell continued with care, “in the interest of co-operation, I will be brief. The Doctor has embarrassed the High Council with his interfering for the final time, and as punishment for his behaviour it has been decided that he must, once again, face the justice of the Time Lords.
SPACE“As Co-Ordinator and Special Representative of the Celestial Intervention Agency, I am come to inform you that President Niroc has appointed you to the position of Prosecutor in the forthcoming Trial.
SPACE“Upon accepting this honourable opportunity, you will be authorized to use any information pertaining to the Doctor at your disposal, including full and complete access to the resources of the Matrix itself. There, I have done my duty, and I may say I missed the pleasure in doing so. Nonetheless, the offer stands — Will you or will you not accept it?”
SPACEThe Master stood rooted before Vansell, his eyes wide and his breathing perfectly pressurized. Such arrogance from the little man on any other occasion would have made his unimpressive size irrelevant. However, the urgency in his manner and the audacity in his arrival proved one thing — his honesty. At least as far as honesty went when employed by the Agency.
SPACE“So,” the Master summarized, “the Doctor is once again unbalancing the scales of Time Lord Justice. And the Lord President, or should I refer to him as “Your Puppet,” wishes me to tip him over permanently?”
SPACEAt the Master’s inference, Vansell’s hands clenched more tightly than usual.
SPACE“The Celestial Intervention Agency obeys the will of the President of the Time Lords at all times; we value loyalty as a guiding principle,” Vansell countered defiantly.
SPACE“Yes, just as both the CIA and its Lord President are subject to the whims of the Doctor,” the Master retorted with sardonic relish.
SPACE“And now your 'Lord President' so wishes to escape the Doctor’s authority that he has committed the obvious offense in soliciting my authority. How desperate he must be.” The Master chuckled, his dark eyes narrowing in grim amusement.
SPACE“As well he should be. Against the Time Lords alone, the Doctor can succeed in confusing your crippled system long enough to survive, or, especially given the quality of its current representative, escape with no harm done to him. No, there is no victory the Time Lords could offer me; I could destroy the Doctor on any occasion.
SPACE“However, it is an impossibility come true that full mobility within the Matrix is an acceptable part of your CIA’s bargain, Vansell; one that even I can scarcely overlook. And what new secrets I may discover to help finally humiliate and destroy the Doctor …”
SPACEIt was enough.
SPACE“Very well,” the Master spoke with resolution, “I accept the position.”
SPACE“We felt that you would, though I will say that you’ve exceeded my expectations,” said Vansell with a sneer, his tolerable reserves of confidence replenished.
SPACE“Now, if you will put away your defenses, we can discuss the time and place of your searching the Matrix to prepare your case.”
SPACEThe TCE did not waver. The Master chuckled, his eyes narrowing in amusement.
SPACE“No. That is not agreeable. I already am perfectly capable of using your resources. Therefore, this conversation is no longer necessary.”
SPACEA repulsive sneer stretched along the Master’s mouth.
SPACE“As for you, my transparent friend, be assured that although I can tuck you away at any moment,” the Master reached behind himself and deftly danced his fingers across the switches of a console panel, “I authorize the CIA to do that in my stead.”
SPACEBefore a protest could force its way from Vansell, as usual, the slight form of the Coordinator sifted itself out of sight. The Master smiled. Suddenly, he started, blinking rapidly several times as if aware of some new development.
SPACE“Vansell,” he barked as he snapped his gloved fingers. On command, the said Coordinator reappeared in the console room, looking like an intruder caught in the light of his own guilt.
SPACEThe Master, with furious intensity advanced on the small intruder and snarled, “You assume to hypnotize me while I wield the power of the Matrix?! You deny who I am?!” With lightning speed, the Master raised his hands which ignited into brilliant flames, an all-consuming inferno …

* * *

A cold wind softly rustled through the Master. He sighed with pleased satisfaction. As the Master knew, Vansell’s trust in him was far from full and complete. Of course, as the Master also knew, the CIA’s trust in Vansell was equally secure. There was always an advantage to press.
SPACE“It would have been such an easy pleasure to kill him,” he thought to himself, “but some pleasures must wait for their proper time.”
SPACEWith this in mind, the Master continued to press forward in the darkness. Except it was not just darkness anymore. The Master halted and raised his eyes. For one of the few times in memory, even he could only gaze around in amazement. The creativity of the Matrix had demonstrated itself more capably than he had expected. In fact, since his last visit, that capability had grown — as had the trees.
SPACEThe trees stretched themselves up high into the air. So high were the lengths of their trunks that they seemed to stretch into each other — they were infinite. Each tree possessed many branches and these branches were so full in number and thick with foliage that the sky itself was composed of the interconnected network of the tree tops.
SPACEYet for all this detail the Master could only just perceive the barest outlines of this forest — the deep darkness of the land still clung to every surface, muffling each outline with an almost fuzzy glow. Carved precisely into the bark of each trunk were deep red coloured symbols of a curious design, “The ancient language of the Time Lords,” breathed the Master.
SPACEWith mounting enthusiasm, the Master sprinted over to the nearest trunk and pressed his fingers against one of the symbols nearest to the ground. The grooves of the carving appeared to have been scorched into the trunk, and there was a deep red colour sealed between the grooves of the symbol.
SPACEThis red seal possessed a distinct shine to its surface which glinted across the Master’s eyes. Upon closer examination, the Master saw that this red material was also pulsing in soft, rhythmic vibrations. His enthusiasm congealing into careful curiosity, the Master slowly extended his fingers and reached within the symbol to touch the crimson layer.
SPACEUpon contact, the Master was convulsing, his body pulsing in time with the symbolic rhythms. For a moment the Master felt as if his fingers were stretching into the tree itself, like a parasitic fungi attempting to bond with an unsuspecting host. It was an exhilarating sensation.
SPACESuddenly, as his eyes widened in agony, the Master himself felt the pains of invasion as the crimson seal bubbled outwards and began to flow upwards along his arms. As if caught in the path of a flooding river, the Master’s mind overflowed with images of another life …
SPACEThrough the eyes of one filled with ambition, driven by the need to climb the rungs of the social structure, until an assignment too dangerous to accept yet too enticing to deny lures one into scenes of peace and the backgrounds of war, a whirlwind life of parties and schemes, and just as one’s social concern replaces social ambition, an assassin’s bullet pierces both hearts and one’s eyes close on the last thing it will ever see … the Doctor …
SPACEAnother Doctor, the confounded comedian! The long regenerated face of his foe pierced clear into the Master’s mind and cut short the vision of the crimson rhythm. Seared by the sudden disconnect, the liquid seal retreated back into the carved symbol on the bark of the tree. Retreating a step, but only a step, the Master took a moment to steady himself.
SPACEAfter that moment, the Master considered the meaning of his vision. A name, Serena, wisped about the surface of the Master’s mind, like a lone leaf tossed about in a storm. The Master quickly crumpled the thought — domestics were not his concern.
SPACE“Another traveling companion of the Doctor foolishly duped into believing that life with the Doctor offers complete freedom from the stringent rules of the Universe,” the Master summarized with sneering amusement. As he knew all too well, a life with the Doctor demanded its own set of special sacrifices, with death always following close behind. And these days, death was creeping ever closer …
SPACETurning his mind from such abstract thoughts, the Master mulled over the meaning of his vision and the insight it gave him into the Matrix’s current dramatic persona. As a theory began to develop, the Master dropped his head, and was aware of his almost imprisoned feet among the densely tangled roots of the trees.
SPACEIn a moment, the Master realized why he had not seen the structure of the trees in the darkness before — they were the darkness. Each tree and root and branch and leaf was composed of the densest black material he had ever laid eyes upon. It had simply taken his new eyes some time to adjust to the dark.
SPACE“Well,” thought the Master, “even I need a lamp for my feet,” as he roughly kicked at the largest root near his foot which broke away with thick crunch.
SPACEImmediately, there was a high-pitched, almost feminine, wail, and, as the Master stared with rapt satisfaction, the crimson liquid which had so nearly overcome him flowed freely from the broken tree vein. Within the coloured stream, the Master could see the same images which the vision had contained, and many more, enough for an entire household of lifetimes.
SPACEAfter several moments, the gushing subsided and the tree, drained of its fluids, collapsed within itself and sank into the soaked mire. Fascinated, the Master knelt down and, fingering a sample of the red liquid, raised it to close to his eyes.
SPACEIt was blood, within which had coursed the entire lifeline of a Gallifreyian family. And he, the Master, stood in center of it all. For an instant the Master was caught up in the concept — of himself, the true stem from which branched off all of the infinite and intricate root systems of the entire bio-history of the Time Lords …
SPACEExtracting himself from the Matrix’s fertile soil, the Master began to ponder the significance of his surroundings — as the Matrix was a psychic generator capable of infinitely expressing itself, and therefore the landscape around him must have represented the entire webwork of the Time Lord mentality.
SPACE“Assuming this as a model,” the Master processed,” the trees must represent the various Houses of our race, with the roots symbolizing some kind of genetic relationship between the various Time Lord lineages. The branches and leaves must therefore also stand for every individual Time Lord that has ever lived. Such a family history. And the Doctor’s particular family House is …” The Master began to search for the correct markings on the tree trunks.
SPACEAs he searched, the Master discovered that although all the trees shared the same dark colouring, each one was represented by a different species. Some trees were regal in shape and stature, recalling that Household’s high birth and ranking, while others were cast in more modest and unassuming molds, as if to convey their less distinguished yet respectable histories.
SPACEOthers lay askew with broken trunks and rotted branches. Some patches of ground were completely barren, without any signs of having ever upheld a Household. Yet in such places the Master could feel the imprint of life and the shadow of a premature pruning, a death unnatural. This was a common enough lot in Time Lord Lives.
SPACEUndisturbed, the Master scavenged on. After enough time had passed to make the Master feel as if he had wasted his time, he saw it standing before him, though he was almost certain it only just now appeared. It was the Doctor’s tree.
SPACEThe curious thing was that it was just the Doctor’s tree; the markings on the bark bore only two symbols, the Greek letters Theta and Sigma.
SPACE“So,” the Master surmised, “the Doctor has cast himself off from his ancestry home in all ways. How thorough of him.”
SPACEAn equally singular, if not unexpected aspect of the structure, was that, in stark contrast to its peers, this tree was white with smooth translucent bark.
SPACE“Typical of the Doctor, the Master grimaced, “always obsessing with the need to be obviously grandiose.”
SPACEGlancing downward, the Master also discovered an even more striking feature of his old foe’s Matrix abode — its solitude. No roots connected the giant sprout to its neighbours (as there were none even nearby), and no leaves fanned out from the bare branches. Even here, in the Matrix, the Doctor was alone, a man apart from the rest. Once again, the Master softly marveled at how similar he and the Doctor really were.
SPACEDrawing on experience over confidence, the Master stealthily crept towards the Doctor’s impersonal representative; taking care not to forget how creative the Matrix could be in copying the Doctor’s own cleverness. Eventually, the Master reached the tree, and softly touched the trunk. Nothing happened. The Master shook his head and softly chuckled; the place where the Doctor’s secrets were most visible and there was no defense!
SPACEWith smug disapproval of his old foe’s negligence, the Master began to examine the two symbols carved into the bark, scavenging for the same flow of information as this tree’s more anemic companions had offered. Nevertheless, the Doctor’s tree offered as many secrets as it did defenses - its carved symbols were merely dark shadows of the Doctor’s history. Yet deep within the shadows …
SPACEThe Master leaned up and into the tree, and peered through the center dividing line of the bark’s Theta mark. Through the carving, the Master felt the gentle wafting of a cool breeze — the tree was hollow, no wonder there was no lifeblood to draw out. But there was a sparkle of light …
SPACEThe Master pushed back from the trunk. There was something inside the empty trunk, he knew it. With growing excitement at the chance of tapping into new knowledge, the Master began to circle the tree with quick, precise steps, searching for any weakness or entrance into the structure.
SPACEHe found the latter almost immediately, in the form of a simple, man-sized roundel. However, the Master was certain that such a prominent feature had not been visible a moment before. No surprise there.
SPACESteeling himself, the Master focused his will, and pushed against the round entrance. Once again, the tree offered no resistance and the surface of the roundel dissolved into the ether. The Master held himself back; this was too easy access.
SPACEThankfully, even in his Matrix form he had come with defenses, and pulled out a perfect replica of his TCE. He fired several beams of the potent energy, amplified here in the Matrix’s unreality, into the dark, empty space within the white tree. Still, there was neither a positive nor a negative response. His own paranoia sated, the Master straightened himself, and crossed over the boundary.
SPACEAll was silent, absolutely silent. There was no temperature; simply an empty pressure about the void. The Master could sense nothing in the space. Nothing of the Doctor was there. His frustration mounting, the Master circled around, searching for any structure or object — even a patronizing note from the Doctor was preferable to being made the fool! Then, without noticing when he first saw it, the Master was watching the light.
SPACEIt was the same light he had seen through the Theta mark, but just as outside, he could not see immediately see the light’s source. He stood still and studied the illumination. It was a small, dim sparkle at first but it was quickly increasing in intensity. And sound. There were many, indistinct sounds now echoing in the chamber. Almost by instinct, the Master stepped forward to hear them more clearly, and almost collided with another body.
SPACESnapping back, the Master stood with his TCE at the ready and took advantage of the growing light to identify his opponent, who stood with equal defense. In the rising light, the Master saw himself through a dark glass. He was standing in front of a full-length mirror. After a moment of incredulity, the Master lowered his weapon, cursing himself inwardly for his gullible moment. The light was bright enough now that the Master could see the mirror in complete detail, and he approached it for a full examination.
SPACEThe mirror had no frame, but hovered motionless by itself in the air. It held itself in a simple, rectangular shape, which rose up about eight feet high and five feet across, yet seeming to lack almost any depth, which lent to the object and almost ghostly presence.
SPACEThis touch of the immaterial was supported by the uncanny substance which formed the mirror: a material so bright and slickly smooth that even the Master’s eyes almost slid away from its surface. Notwithstanding, his gaze was fixed on the surface of the mirror, which was now blazing with light. The Master realized that it was the mirror itself that was the source of the light within the tree, but what had ignited its brilliance, his intrusion perhaps? The most important unanswered question was if the mirror also served as the source of the cacophony of sound which now cascaded into the Master’s ears, above which flood of sound a single voice drowned out all the rest — the Doctor. His hands curling over his ears, the Master focused his senses towards the mirror, and pierced into the light …
SPACEThe Master falls into the currents of the mirror’s life, and through it, he sees and hears the Doctor, but not at that moment - he sees the memories long washed away by the time’s currents. And what memories they are. The Master sees the Doctor, when he was first formed. The Master sees himself, just as new. Even now, they meet time and time again. They are on Gallifrey, the children of the Current Age, the Pride of the Time Lord nobility. Other faces rush about him, too fast for anyone short of Time Lord to recognize. Many faces are friends then, most are foes now, for both of them. Some faces are foes even then, foes that taunt and attack. They are at a river bank. One foe is with them. There is one in the water; there is one in the fire …
SPACEEnough! The Master broke away his gaze from the mirror. The past held no terrors for him, but there was nothing that lay buried there that would help him build his theatrical defense against the Doctor in the present. Even so, this mirror, which apparently was the Matrix’s direct link rooted into the Doctor’s personal history, was a deliciously valuable resource. “Perhaps,” thought the Master with eager anticipation, “I can plot my own way through the course of events.” With this determination in mind, the Master’s mind dove again in the rushing motion of the Doctor’s lifetime …
SPACEThe speed is intense, it leaves afterimages of Time Known. The Master slices through all the familiar friends and terrors of the Doctor’s experiences. There are so many, how can the Matrix count and order them and have room for anyone else? Some images repeat themselves thanks to the emotions attached to them-an English junkyard, the Daleks and the Cybermen, the Brigadier, the Earth and the Master, with face upon face. The Doctor also uncovers his own faces underneath: one old, one shabby, one dashing, one eccentric, one open, and one proud, proud to live. This is the Doctor that lives now. The Master rides upon the wave of this Doctor’s memories, sights filled with violence and danger: a barren world ravaged by the Gastropods; time displaced Cybermen lurking in the Underground; different factions of Daleks fighting amongst themselves over Davros; their creator; a Fairground hiding the loneliness a Guardian himself — The Celestial Toymaker, his astonishing imprisonment; murderous creatures of sound and conquering concepts of language; all of which lead up into this single, current day as the Proud Doctor, on a dead, silent world walks in step with the wretched Miss Brown, with hair somewhat longer and curled in a vain attempt to appear more attractive. They speak of their curiosity of this particular planet and announce the name of the world — Ravalox. Ravalox?! The wave crashes over …
SPACEThe Master retracted his time partially from the mirror’s image, somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer freedom of information he had received, and the knowledge it provided. So, the Doctor was investigating into the history of Ravalox! Indeed the Time Lords now had reason to compound their disdain towards the Doctor with fear — what he would do once he discovered that world’s familiar secret! The irony of the Doctor’s current situation could not escape the Master — although not there in person, once again the Doctor had entangled himself in the Master’s affairs; he had no hope for the success of Glitz and Dibber’s mission now.
SPACEThe Master stroked his beard. Never before had he felt so completely satisfied with himself. At long last, he had discovered the means to finally humiliate and crush the Doctor, once and for all. Of course, this tool was still quite a blunt instrument, but in time the Master would sharpen its capabilities. And there were so many other secrets still to uproot …
SPACEA sharp sound sliced deep into the Master’s ears. His eyes widened and he looked closely towards the mirror. A thin, hairline crack now ran across its center. Could this be some sort of trap, he thought to himself? With stiff defiance of any opposition, the Master stepped close to the glass surface and studied the crack. Somehow, although so thin, he could almost see … something behind the fracture. For the first time, the Master felt a pang of uncertainty as he knelt down, and pressed his eyes against the crack to get a better view. There was something beyond the mirror, something moving. Suddenly, the Master saw the Doctor again. But he was not alone. There was another face. It was …
SPACEThe Master screams in ripping agony as the mirror shatters and light bursts open his eyes. He falls into the oncoming brightness, and sees new sights, new sounds. He sees the Doctor as he is, and as he will be. He sees …