The Master now lowered his fist, and lowered his gaze. "I'm sorry, Doctor."
Then in a flash he lunged over the desk at the Doctor. The Doctor jumped in his chair, staring wide-eyed at him.
"I am the Master!" he barked. "You will obey me!"
The Doctor stared into his eyes. Then he said, "You are the Master. I will obey you."
The Doctor showed up at the detention building with orders for Ben and Polly to be released from holding. He ignored their questions, asked for and received detailed directions from the captain to get to the Master's atomic science enclave, led Ben and Polly out the door, and promptly headed off in the wrong direction. When they tried to correct him or ask him anything he hushed them until they'd returned to the TARDIS.
"Doctor, what's going on?" Polly demanded.
"There's another bloody Great War on!" Ben said.
"Yes," said the Doctor. "This Master of theirs is a time traveler from my planet."
"Yours?" Ben and Polly were stunned.
"Yes. He was trying to accelerate Earth's technology, but he's been seduced by power. He started out doing the wrong thing for good reasons, but now it's all just about him. He's out to conquer the universe now. But he's only just realizing it himself."
"How did he take over Germany?" Polly asked.
"He's acquired a powerful hypnotic skill. It almost worked on me. I let him think it had. ...It must make him an awesome public speaker."
"So what do we do now?" Ben asked.
During this discussion the Doctor had been considering the big red button on the TARDIS console that would send a distress signal to the Time Lords. There was nothing he could do to undo the Master's interference, except to call them. Reluctantly he pressed the button.
As he talked about the Master's hypnotic ability he checked the console readouts. His distress signal wasn't getting through. There was a hypertemporal signal damper field enveloping the planet, undoubtedly generated by the Master's TARDIS. It was keeping the Doctor's signal from getting out. It also explained why the Time Lords were unaware of the Master's meddling in the first place. Unless the Master's interference in Earth's history was part of the Web of Time ... no, that was too horrible to think about.
The Doctor sighed, half in relief. One day he might have to surrender himself to the Time Lords as a last resort (and on that day this trick of the Master's would be given away, learned of by the Time Lords from the TARDIS's records - hopefully not by then irreversibly woven into the Web of Time); but that day wasn't today.
"Well," said the Doctor, "we can't undo it ... Perhaps we can fix it."
"Fix it?" Polly said.
"Fix it how?" Ben said.
"There's someone I can go see ... if I can move the TARDIS without leaving the spacetime-stream of this causal event."
The Doctor had never moved the TARDIS in space without moving in time before. He required ten minutes' silence of Ben and Polly while he set coordinates and checked power linkages. Then, with everyone's fingers crossed, the Doctor set the TARDIS in motion. They watched breathlessly as the central column rose and fell for about half a minute and then fell still.
The Doctor scurried to check his instruments.
"Well?" Ben said.
The Doctor looked up, grinning. "Pumpkin patch," he said.
Ben and Polly failed to react.
"Famous translation error," the Doctor said, moving to the doors. "The project was set up in the campus squash courts." He dashed out of the TARDIS.
Ben and Polly stepped out of the TARDIS to discover a large hall filled with the accoutrements of applied physics. The only person in the room was an American in his shirtsleeves pumping the Doctor's hand. They exchanged pleasantries in the languages of higher physics until Ben and Polly wandered off to look out the windows. This actually suited the Doctor; he wasn't sure whether he wanted any witnesses to what he was about to do.
"But this must all be old hat to you," said the Doctor's friend finally.
"No," said the Doctor sadly. He waved at their surroundings. "This is all new to me. At least in this setting."
"In this setting?"
"Your adversary is one of mine," the Doctor said, and explained to his confused friend about the new history the Master was making, and why.
"So we're supposed to be inventing things." His friend waved at the room as the Doctor had. "It's working."
"But at the cost of such evil," said the Doctor. "And I can't tell you whether you'll defeat it. Not won't, because it's a rule, but can't, because with this new history I don't know."
"I wouldn't listen anyway."
"But don't you see, all bets are off," said the Doctor. "There are no rules because nothing is known. ...I could help."
The other man got very quiet as he realized what the Doctor was saying. But once he saw it, he shook his head. "No thank you, Doctor. Bad enough we should build it ourselves, without it being given to us."
The Doctor raised his left hand palm out and placed the first two fingers of his right vertically under his nose. "He would. He may yet."
"And that's the evil we're fighting against, isn't it."
"What now?" Polly asked as the three travelers boarded the TARDIS.
"We go back," said the Doctor, stepping to the console, "and do what we can."
But either the Doctor moved too quickly, or he was too overconfident with his recent successful piloting; or perhaps the old girl just couldn't hold a course twice in a row. "Oh no," said the Doctor. "The TARDIS has fallen out of the causal stream."
"Meaning?" Ben asked. But he knew. Polly was too horrified to ask.
"As far as our travels are concerned, the timeline we've just left is permanent," said the Doctor. "The Master's damage to Earth's history shall go unrepaired."
The Doctor's companions saw a terrible sadness on his face for a moment. But then he smiled an apparently unforced smile and said, "Well, let's move on then."
One day shortly after the Doctor had returned them to their own time - strangely enough, to the very day they'd left with him - Ben and Polly met for lunch. Polly had several histories of World War II with her.
"Half my mates and officers are different people now," Ben said. "The other ones were killed in the war, or their fathers were."
"The Allies built the bomb first, but Germany was already defeated," Polly said. "Everyone says Hitler committed suicide and the body found. But there's nothing about the body not being human."
"Maybe they didn't notice," said Ben after a moment, "or covered it up."
"I just hate to think that that awful Master escaped and is still running loose destroying people."
"Don't worry, Duchess. Even if he did get away, the Doctor had his number. He'll take care of the Master if he hasn't already."
Polly nodded; but somehow she was still uneasy.
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