Paul Gadzikowski


Time and the Mark "Episode 4"

"I have to say, Jo," said the Doctor, "as unpleasant as this situation is, it's refreshing at least not to have run into the Master, like the first time the Time Lords took us off Earth. Or U.N.I.T.'s three most recent adventures."

"Oh," said Jo, "so this bit is set between 'Colony in Space' and 'The Daemons'?"

"That's what I said," said the Doctor crossly.

"So you're saying it's better to be chained up in a dungeon by strangers than someone you know?"

"Oh, certainly. You're afforded much more opportunity for idle speculation on your intended fate. Now, if it were the Master behind all this -"

The door to the dungeon suddenly clanked and opened, and seven of the palace guard entered, escorting High Yert Tobori. "You and the girl are very fortunate, Doctor," said Tobori as the turnkey unlocked the manacles which, having been built to restrain Yernish antennae, were holding the Doctor's and Jo's right hands over their heads. "You're to be allowed to see the results of your failure to bring my fiendish plans to a halt, before you die painfully."

"Oh no, not again," whined the Doctor.

"Your plans?" Jo asked as the procession proceeded out the dungeon door. "You've been plotting against the Yernish government? Of which you yourself are already the elected prime minister?"

"It was really General Sgnirehtfodrol's idea," Tobori confessed casually. "He paints such a vivid, attractive picture of holding the center of power in a pure totalitarian state."

"I suppose," said the Doctor as the ten of them crammed into an elevator perhaps big enough for three, "this General Sgnirehtfodrol is your chief of staff, having ascended to the position within the past half year, with a spotless exemplary record even though you'd never heard of him before his predecessor met with an untimely accidental death."

Tobori frowned. Guard Captain Nwadsnogard had to shift his left arms to make room. "When you put it that way," said Tobori, "you make it sound somehow suspicious."

"I do beg your pardon."

"The general is a most devoted henchman."

"Yes, that must be why you've come to fetch the prisoners while he waits upstairs in comfort."

The elevator arrived at the castle's top floor, the throne room level. The doors opened, and everyone fell out. Nwadsnogard had seen to it that the the Doctor and Jo were packed in last, so that now they fell under everyone else and were unable to make a break for it in the confusion of limbs and vestigial wings. The Doctor pegged the guard captain as a potential ally, for his intelligence.

The Doctor and Jo were marched down an octaroon carpet through the applauding Yernish court behind Tobori as a band played "God Save the High Yert" and military honors were rendered. The Doctor bowed modestly to all. When they reached the throne alcove the Doctor asked Nwadsnogard for two more chairs as there were none not already taken. Nwadsnogard was unresponsive.

"You may stop your clowning, Doctor," said the Yern in the most decorated uniform, from the chair to the right of the throne. "It will do you very little good."

"Clowning?" said the Doctor. "In any case, by what right do you judge what good my 'clowning' may do?"

"Surely you've guessed," said the general. He grabbed onto his antenna and pulled. It came off in his hand, dragging the skin, fur and scales of his head with it, revealing the lot as a rubber mask.

"Of course," answered the Doctor. "After all, in Old High Yernish 'Sgnirehtfodrol' means 'Master'."

"General Sgnirehtfodrol isn't a Yern?" said Tobori, aghast.

"He is a Time Lord, as am I," shouted the Doctor. "But he is the most evil person in the Universe! He commits unspeakable crimes as a matter of course in no more than the name of his own ambition! People and planets are as puppets to this person in his perpetual pursuit of power!" The Doctor fell abruptly silent, embarrassed at the spontaneous outburst of alliteration.

"Retcon that, he's impersonatin' an officer!" said Nwadsnogard, leveling his weapon at the Master. "You, yer under arrest! Over there, wit' the other prisoners!"

"Tobori, call the dog off," said the Master casually.

"No, he's quite right," said Tobori. "Serious matter, impersonating an officer."

The Master stared at him incredulously. "I'm giving you this planet as a toy! Our plans are this far from fruition!" He held the claws of one hand half an inch apart.

"I know. This is really going to cock up the timetable. Guards, take him away. The other two too, there's not going to be anything to see for a while yet after all."

The Master, still wearing most of his Sgnirehtfodrol disguise (the Doctor wondered idly how he kept the cilia in such authentic-appearing constant motion) was bundled off to the dungeon with the Doctor and Jo, who politely didn't giggle at his turn of luck, at least not loud enough to be heard over his cursing.

"Doctor," whispered Jo during the Master's inspired litany questioning the legitimacy of every single one of Tobori's ancestors by name, "why are we politely not giggling at the Master's turn of luck?"

"Because the only way that any of the three of us are going to survive this adventure," explained the Doctor, "is for the Master to swallow his pride, join up with us, and defeat Tobori's plan for his own vengeful reasons."

"Team up with the Master?" Jo said, nearly forgetting to whisper.

"He can't do it without our help, and we can't do it without his knowledge of Tobori's plans. It's obviously the only solution."

"Then why are we whispering? Why don't you just say this to him?"

"Because if it seems to be my idea he'll go all pouty and would rather die than do it."

"Such a bother, dealing with egotism like that, isn't it?"

"Yes. ...Say, now!"


Once the aliens were gone, Tobori sat in the executive throne, casually crossing his front legs. "Well, my lords," he opined, "I confess that - as you may have gathered from the words I exchanged with this 'Master' - I had invited you lot here so that you might witness the denoument of my plot to sieze the power from this august republican parliament into my own hot little authoritarian mandibles. Well, I still intend to rule this planet as absolute monarch; but Sgnirehtfodrol really was such a capable general, and I shall probably require the cooperation of all of you to fill his part. Are there any objections?"

"There certainly are!!" Yawetag of the north new hemisphere provinces, the opposition party leader, rose from his seat. "I have never been so appalled, in thirty years of public service, at the words of a chief executive of this government - even as loyal opposition - as I am today, right now, at this proposal of the perversion of this body into -"

Tobori got bored waiting for the end of the sentence and signaled with a tendril to one of the palace guard, who promptly burnt Yawetag to the ground. "On second thought, my lords," said Tobori, "I actually need only about three quarters of you. Any other objections?"


The Master had been pouting silently for almost an hour, sitting on one of the bunks in the cell - his discarded Sgnirehtfodrol costume a study in brownian motion on the floor beside him - before he finally said, "Of course there's only one solution."

The Doctor and Jo looked over from the other bunk in the cell where they'd been passing the time playing Twenty Questions, which the Doctor consistently won by choosing extraterrestial subjects.

"What is it?" Jo asked the evil Time Lord.

"Jo, that's cheating!" objected the Doctor.

"Not the solution to your stupid game!" snapped the Master, standing and crossing to them. "The only way that any of the three of us are going to survive this adventure is to join up and defeat Tobori's plan. I can't have my vengeance without your help, and you couldn't do it without my knowledge of Tobori's plans. It's obviously the only solution."

"Well said," said the Doctor.

"Then I'll kill you," said the Master.

"How pleasant to know where I stand," murmured the Doctor.

"First we have to get out of this jail, don't we?" said Jo.

"Yes," said the Doctor. "What do you think," he asked the Master; "the sick prisoner bit?"

"I told them you'd try that."

"The mealtime ambush?"

"I told them you'd try that."

"The Fizzbin gambit?"

"I told them you'd try that."

"The garbage chute escape?"

"I told them you'd try that."

"The diGriz doubleback?"

"I told them you'd try that."

"The Andromeda cross fake-out?"

"I told them you'd try that."

"How much more of this does there have to be," grumbled Jo, "before we've enough padding?"

"Is there anything you didn't warn them about?" asked the Doctor, a little annoyed himself.

With a quiet creak, the rear wall of the cell began swinging outward from its contact points with the floor, slowly toppling into the hallway behind the dungeon. Yert Eyesdognietomeht stood in the hallway with Nwadsnogard.

"I don't recall saying anything," answered the Master, "about the old freed-by-patriot-once-plot-is-exposed trick."

"Oh, you think you're clever."

"You must come quickly," said Eyesdognietomeht. "The only way for Tobori to be defeated is for you two Time Lords to join up and defeat Tobori's plan. The Master can't have his vengeance without the Doctor's help, and the Doctor can't do it without the Master's knowledge of Tobori's plans. It's obviously the only solution."

"Gee, I wish I'd thought of that," said the Master, not without dripping sarcasm.

"What shall we do?" asked Nwadsnogard.

"We must get back to my laboratory," said the Master. He strode past Eyesdognietomeht and Nwadsnogard and proceeded to lead the way down the hall. The Doctor caught up with him, and jockeyed with him to be the person walking in front, but since the Master was the one of them who knew where the party was going the Doctor's efforts were essentially doomed.

The room to which the Master led them was strewn with cables leading between various incomprehensible technological devices. One of them appeared to be a specimen refrigerator, cables leading in and out of the open door; but the inside of the door, instead of being shelves of jam jars, was roundels. The refridgerator was the Master's TARDIS.

The Doctor took one look at the arrangement and said, "A selective biosynaptic chronoosmosis depermeator?"

"Of course," said the Master.

"What's it for?" asked Jo.

"It's for selectively depermeating the chronoosmosis of biosynapses," said the Doctor.

"Can you nobble it?" asked Nwadsnogard.

"Better than that," said the Doctor and the Master simultaneously, surprising each other, "we can reverse the polarity of the neutron flow," by now they were each trying to rush through and finish before the other, "and run time backwards sononeofthiswilleverhavehappened!!" The Doctor finished first by a syllable and a half.

"Is this really going to work?" asked Jo.

"That depends," said the Master, as he and the Doctor began methodically to disconnect all the blue cables and reconnect them backwards.

"On what?"

"On whether," said the Master, "this is a four- or six- part serial."

"There are entirely too many fourth-wall breakdowns in this story," griped the Doctor. "That's where THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER went wrong, you know."


"You're certain that this is what they'll do?" asked Vice Yert Maercstsumidnahtuomonevahi.

"It's obviously the only solution," said Tobori.


"Finished," said the Master.

He and the Doctor looked up at each other from the last cable each had just reconnected. There was a short pause. Then they both rushed at the activation switch to beat out the other to turn the device on.

Just before either touched it there was a loud firearm retort, and the Time Lords jerked their hands back as the activation switch exploded under projectile fire.

The time-travellers turned to see Maercstsumidnahtuomonevahi and Guard Captain Enud at the head of Nwadsnogard's squad in the doorway. Enud's gun was smoking.

"Six parts," said the Doctor.


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