The Roman was so close with his feelings that he betrayed no reaction to the Doctor's words.
"All but this last will happen to you, too," the Doctor added.
"Did you have to put it that way?" Grace whispered sharply.
Caesar still didn't react, except to say, "Take them away," to the guards, who led the travelers off by their chains.
"I've called you here today, Senators," Cataline addressed the assemblage in the Hall of Jupiter, "to introduce you to myself - as your new First Consul - and my new ally Cyberus - your new Second Consul."
"No," said the Cyberleader, standing next to Cataline on the rostrum.
For none of the senators present was this their first sight of a Cyberman, though none present had been at the battle on the outskirts of Rome, because each had been escorted to this meeting by one of the metal men - in several cases apparently directly from the baths with no time to dry or dress.
Cataline had thought that the days of his being interrupted while orating to the Senate were over. Actually, he was quite right. "What do you mean, no?" he asked the Cyberleader.
"Your consulships are irrelevant," said the Cyberleader. "Your senate is irrelevant. The whole of the usefulness of any human here to the Cyber race is to keep order among the rest."
"You told me I would rule the world!" Cataline objected.
Without any word of command from the Cyberleader, all the armed Cybermen posted around the hall opened fire on Cataline with their Cyber weapons. After a few moments there was nothing left of Cataline but screams echoing in the senators' minds.
"Promises to aliens are irrelevant," said the Cyberleader.
Without moving his lips Crassus murmured to Cato, "Still, I'd believe what he said about usefulness if I were you ..." Cato, who was one of the Senators brought from the baths, seemed not in a talkative mood.
"We have got to get out of here!" the Doctor shouted at the sentries. Since Rome had no prisons - or at least none Caesar trusted to hold the Doctor - the sentries were holding them in Caesar's office in the High Priest's quarters of the People's House, where the High Priest's household resided with the Vestal Virgins.
"Do you really think they'll suddenly believe it now that you've said it seventeen times?" Grace complained. "Or what is the threshold number?"
"Earth's history has been changed!" The Doctor turned on her. "The Catalinian revolt was already over, even if he still had troops in the hills of Italy. For the Cybermen to install him in Rome will unravel the Web of Time! The damage to the space-time continuum itself is already irreparable, unless I can get to the Cyber time machine - the device that caused the damage - and use it to put itself into a degenerative time loop so it will never have existed and these events will never have taken place!"
"Why are you compelled to go over this again every half hour?"
Just then Caesar came in, and addressed them without preamble. "Cataline and his allies' leader Cyberus called a meeting of the Senate. When Cataline tried to install them as consuls he was struck down by his allies' lightning bolts, and the Senate was threatened with the same if they don't cooperate."
"'Cyberus'?" Grace said.
"If they were a triumvirate of Cyberleaders," said the Doctor, "they'd be Rome's three-headed gatekeeper to the afterworld."
"If the Senate was meeting why weren't you there?"
Caesar had to tear his mind away, if not from the Doctor's pun then from the concept "triumvirate", to answer Grace. "I was chasing you two through the streets of Rome when the Cybermen gathered the Senators."
"Then you owe your safety to us," said the Doctor brightly.
To Grace's surprise Caesar nodded. "You said that the Cybermen would destroy Cataline when they were done with him, and it was so."
"Oh," said the Doctor. He seemed surprised and disappointed that Caesar was convinced now. He must have been looking forward to the challenge of browbeating Caesar into his point of view.
"What must be done?"
"Earth's history has been changed!" the Doctor told him. "The Catalinian revolt was already over, even if he still had troops in the hills of Italy. For the Cybermen to install him in Rome will unravel the Web of Time! The damage to the space-time continuum itself is already irreparable, unless I can get to the Cyber time machine - the device that caused the damage - and use it to put itself into a degenerative time loop so it will never have existed and these events will never have taken place!"
"Are we good for an hour now?" Grace asked.
"But first," said the Doctor, brandishing the shackles on his wrists, jangling the chains, "if you could take these off, it would be ever so kind."
"Our mission is complete," reported the Cyberleader to the Cybercontroller aboard the Cyber ship moored in the Cyber (formerly Martial) Field. "Earth history shall now proceed from this point as we direct."
"All humans shall be Cyber-converted by the time of the return of Mondas to this solar system, two millenia from now," said the Cybercontroller.
"The Doctor is not yet destroyed," said the Cyberleader. "He will attempt to interfere. Historical precedent suggests he will be largely or entirely successful."
"That is why two millenia have been allowed for the completion of the task."
"Then, when Mondas arrives, there will be an entirely new Cyber race on Earth, one that shall have defeated the Doctor, and we shall be its leaders," observed the Cyberleader.
The Cyberleader underwent an independent thought. (These sometimes come to Cybermen despite their best efforts.) "It seems illogical that such a new race should ally with an inferior one, even of fellow Cybermen."
Two thousand years later the Cybercontroller and the Cyberleader were both in the Planetary Control Room when the hail from Mondas came through.
"People of Earth," it came. "This is the Cybercontroller of Mondas. According to crosstemporal communications we have received, you are Cybermen and have prepared Earth for Cyber use. Respond."
The Cybercontroller of Earth flipped a comm switch. "That is correct. You, however, are inferior pretenders who cannot even destroy one humanoid Doctor with the mere ability to travel space and time at will."
"Doctor?" the voice said. "We know of no Doctor."
"Not knowing of the Doctor is irrelevant." The Cybercontroller cut off the contact, and said to the Cyberleader, "Open fire."
An observer from space - such as those on the approaching Mondas - would have seen Antarctica swing away from the bottom of Earth as if on a hinge, which it was. Revealed behind it was a gun bore some thousands of miles across, which said observer would have just known was the muzzle of an energy weapon powered by the molten core of the planet itself, by the way sparks miles across flashed inside it in what was obviously an effect of its warming up. If said observer were on Mondas, however, this would be the last thing he, she or it ever observed, as afterwards he, she or it - like Mondas and everything else on it - would have suddenly been composed of too many pieces, of too sub-microscopic a size, for the complex processes of optical data gathering and information analysis.
"Test fire successful," said the Cyberleader.
"Prepare to leave orbit and conquer the universe," said the Cybercontroller.
The Cybertemporophysicist stepped into the control room and stood behind the Cybercontroller as that functionary continued to oversee the departure for Earth from its orbit.
"You recall my warning," the Cybertemporophysicist said.
"We have undone Earth's history!" insisted the Cybercontroller. "We defeated the Mandragora Helix. We suppressed the Silurians and the Sea Devils. We have destroyed Mondas. All these actions were ours!"
"And were part of Earth's history already," the Cybertemporophysicist replied. "Until we perform a major interplanetary action that was not part of the history we wish to subsume, it is still theoretically possible for the Doctor to foil our plan."
"Course, Controller?" the Cyberleader asked.
"Take us into firing range of Earth's sun," said the Cybercontroller.
"What astonishing power," said the Doctor. "I hope you all wore your sunblock."
He was hiding in the workings of the giant ray gun with about a dozen young women, of ages ranging from sixteen to twenty-six. Though none of them were more closely related than first cousin once removed, they all had the surname Caesar; and their given names were all different variations on Gaia, Julia and/or Grace. They all wore skintight black outfits with assortments of lethal weapons clipped to their belts, but even after two thousand years the Doctor still wore the Victorian outfit he'd nicked in San Francisco, albeit with patches on the elbows.
"Mondas has been destroyed," reported Julia Grace, watching her commtap.
"Wish it had been that easy for me," said the Doctor.
"Preparations are under way for the planet to leave orbit."
"Finally! Now's our chance," said the Doctor. "The damage to the space-time continuum itself is already irreparable, unless I can get to the Cyber time machine - the device that caused the damage - and use it to put itself into a degenerative time loop so it will never have existed and these events will never have taken place!" The Caesar girls ignored him as they ignored the color of the sky.
"Navigational deflectors are online and powering up," said Grace Gaia, studying the readout of a sensor device of her own.
"Once they're up 23%, the protoid emanations will scatter the circumradiation fields keeping their time travel device cloaked from our trackers," the Doctor said. "Then all we have to do is get to it! That's where they'll be keeping the TARDIS too."
"I'm getting something!" said Gaia Julia, who held the tracker. They all looked to her expectantly as she paused. "Got a fix on it!"
"Where is it?" asked the Doctor.
"Well, you know the twenty-two-square-mile area where Grace Julia calculated it would probably be?"
"The time machine's just the other side of that from here."
"Let's get a move on," said the Doctor, starting off. "We only need to get there without being spotted."
"Halt!" came a Cyber voice from the halflight ahead of them. "Do not move, humans!"
"Firing range of Sol in thirty seconds, Controller," said the Cyberleader.
"Shall the destruction of Earth's sun be sufficient deviation from Earth's former history to destroy it?" asked the Cybercontroller.
"Very likely," said the Cybertemporophysicist.
One or both of them may have been experiencing a temporary fit of emotionality and been speaking with actual irony. We'll never know.
"That was a lucky escape," said the Doctor.
The little group of infiltrators surveyed the room they had arrived in. The TARDIS sat next to what could only be the Cyber time machine. The Doctor walked up to it and pressed a large orange button on its side.
"That ought to have done it," said the Doctor, stepping back toward the TARDIS.
"Done what, freeze me to death?" Grace complained, shouting over the Antarctic winds as she jumped about to keep warm. "Didn't you say we were landing at ancient Rome?"
The Doctor observed that Grace was very cold and her blouse was rather thin. "Yes, all right, let's try again," he said.
Grace led the way into the TARDIS. As he followed the Doctor wrapped his arms around himself for warmth. He frowned momentarily, feeling the elbows of his coatsleeves, as if something he expected was missing. Then they were inside and the TARDIS was gone.
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