10: So Full Of Artless Jealousy Is Guilt

‘The unfortunate effect of an unstabilised time field,’ announced Count Scarlioni as he switched off the machine. ‘I shall do the same thing to the whole city unless you reveal to me how to stabilise that field.’

Duggan looked down at the remains of Professor Kerensky and then back at the Count. ‘You're mad!’ he hissed. ‘You're insane... inhuman!’

Scarlioni nodded. ‘Quite so,’ he agreed. ‘When I compare my race to yours - human - I take the word inhuman as a great compliment.’

Romana stepped between them. ‘Count, you must have realised by now that I'm not from this planet,’ she said calmly. ‘Why should it bother me if you destroy Paris?’

Duggan's mouth dropped open in sheer amazement. ‘What are you talking about?’ he cried. ‘That's...’

Scarlioni cut in. ‘You've had more than enough warnings,’ he snapped. ‘Kill him, Hermann.’

Hermann flicked back the hammer on his pistol with his thumb and his features broke out with a malicious smile. Duggan closed his eyes and prepared for death.

‘No!’ shouted Romana.

Scarlioni signalled to Hermann to stop. The butler very reluctantly lowered his gun. The disappointment on his face was clear. Scarlioni glared at Romana triumphantly. ‘You do care! I think you've answered your own question. Not a very clever bluff.’

‘All right,’ she said, ‘what are you trying to do?’

Scarlioni studied her face intently. ‘You agree to co-operate, then?’

‘Just tell me what it is you want done and I'll see.’

‘Excellent.’ The Count turned to his sulking butler. ‘Hermann, take Mister Duggan away and lock him up. I shall keep him as an insurance policy,’ he told Romana as Hermann locked Duggan back into the cell, ‘since it is unfortunately not possible to kill him twice.’

Romana shrugged. He could not say the same about her.

‘Now my problem is this,’ Scarlioni explained. ‘Four hundred million years ago, the spaceship I was piloting exploded while I was trying to take off from the surface of this planet.’

‘That was clumsy of you,’ commented Romana.

‘A calculated risk. The spaceship had sustained considerable damage previously. I was in the warp control cabin and when the explosion occurred I was flung into the time vortex and split into twelve different parts which lead, or have led, independent - but connected - lives in times in this planet's history.’ Scarlioni nearly smiled. ‘Not a very satisfactory mode of existence.’

Romana frowned. ‘So you want to reunite yourself?’

‘More than that.’ Scarlioni did smile this time. ‘I want to go back to where my spaceship is... was... and stop my original self from pressing the button and attempting to leave the planet.’

Romana burst out laughing. ‘And you were hoping to do that with this lot?’ she asked, pointing at Kerensky's machine.

Scarlioni weathered her hysterical outburst impassively. ‘You underestimate the problems with which I was faced. My twelve various selves have been working through history to push forward this miserably primitive race - ‘ and Romana would be the first to agree with such a judgement ‘ - so that even this low level of technology would be available to me now.’

‘But this won't work!’ Romana insisted. ‘Put yourself in that bubble and you would either regress back to being a baby again, or,’ she indicated the crumbled remains of Kerensky, ‘go forward to old age.’

‘I had worked out a way,’ Scarlioni admitted, ‘but it would have taken rather too long. Now, with your help, I shall be able to return with ease.’

There was a moment's silence. They both knew what it was he would ask of her.

‘Build me a field interface stabiliser,’ he ordered.

Romana sighed and reluctantly agreed; after all, it appeared she had no choice.

The Doctor was forced back at gun point by one of Scarlioni's thugs. ‘...Well you see, I'd like to make an appointment to see Count Scarlioni at his earliest convenience if you don't mind...’ Hands raised, he entered the lounge, followed by the thug. He bumped into a cleaning maid. ‘Ah! At last, someone in authority! I wonder if you'd be kind enough to tell Count Scarlioni that I wait upon him, please?’ The maid bowed, said something in French, and left. ‘Thank you!’ the Time Lord called after her.

The thug gestured with his gun for the Doctor to sit down. ‘How could I refuse such a well-spoken request?’ said the Time Lord with a grin, and sat in the same Louis Quinze chair that he'd used on his last visit. It looked, he thought, suspiciously like the one that had been in Leonardo's studio. ‘Hello, old faithful,’ he said to the chair and gave it a pat, bestowing upon it the level of affection he usually reserved for his TARDIS.

He looked up at his guard. ‘So how's your end of the deal?’ he enquired conversationally. ‘I suppose a job like this is well paid, hmm?’

The thug said nothing. The Doctor recalled a similar conversation he'd had all of four hundred years ago. He had a very finely-tuned sense of déjà vu. ‘I sometimes thought about becoming a thug,’ the Doctor went on, ‘but I've never really had the right face for it, don't you think? Or the hair. How many thugs have you seen with curly hair, eh? Not many, I'll bet. Still, I'm also too tall. Did you know that one planet in the Andromeda system actually has a height restriction on thugs? You're only allowed to be five foot seven. Don't ask me why.’ He frowned. ‘Oh, you didn't.’

The thug seemed barely aware of the Doctor's presence. The Doctor considered testing how much the guard noticed by trying to escape, but he did not really want a bullet in the back of his head as evidence that the thug was actually paying attention.

‘Silent type, eh?’ The Doctor smiled. ‘I once knew a boy like you...never said a word. Very terse. Well, I said to him, ‘There's no point in talking if you've got nothing to say’. He did well in the end, though. Name of Shakespeare.’ He gave the thug a thoughtful stare. ‘Ever read any Shakespeare? No? Oh well. How about you, Countess?’

The Countess stood in the doorway. She nodded as she entered the room. ‘A little.’ She went over to the far side of the lounge where she twisted the head of a small statue. A panel in the wall slid open to reveal a hidden bookcase. ‘We have the second Quarto of Hamlet...’

‘There are only five extant copies of that in the world,’ said the Doctor, impressed.

‘Really?’ The Countess didn't miss a beat. ‘We have twelve.’ She ran her fingers along the spines of several volumes and then found the one she was looking for. She then passed the book to the Doctor. ‘The first draft,’ she said casually.

‘The author's foul papers...’ The Doctor's eyes widened in surprise, to her pleasure. ‘These have been missing for centuries!’ he exclaimed in a reverent whisper, as he flicked carefully through the pages.

‘It's quite genuine,’ the Countess assured him.

The Doctor nodded. ‘I know, I recognise the handwriting.’

‘Shakespeare's?’

‘No, mine,’ he replied quite seriously. ‘Will had sprained his wrist writing sonnets.’

The Countess raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

The Doctor browsed through the book, sighing affectionately. ‘Wonderful stuff,’ he enthused, and then found a passage of text which he read aloud. ‘‘To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.’’ The Doctor stopped reading, and frowned. ‘‘Take arms against a sea of troubles?’ That's a mixed metaphor!’ Suddenly he seemed to be angry. ‘I told him that was a mixed metaphor, but he would insist!’ He fumed as he glanced at the surrounding text, his own handwriting crossed out and replaced in the margins with Will's.

The Countess was by now laughing uncontrollably. ‘Oh Doctor,’ she said, wiping tears from her eyes, ‘I'm quite convinced that you're perfectly mad!’

The Doctor grinned. ‘Nobody's perfect,’ he replied, and suddenly his features became all stern. ‘Do you think I'm mad because I say I've met William Shakespeare?’ He held up the book. ‘When Will died he left behind no books, no manuscripts, no letters, nothing. Where do you suppose your precious Count got this from, then?’

Her face betrayed concern, and she defensively snatched the book back. ‘He's a collector,’ she said quickly. ‘He has money and contacts.’

‘Contacts,’ the Doctor echoed. ‘Human contacts?’ he enquired casually. ‘How much do you really know about him, eh?’ He studied her worried expression. ‘I think rather less than you imagine...!’

Hermann bolted down the stairs into the laboratory. ‘Excellency!’ he shouted.

The Count cut him off in mid-sentence. ‘Don't tell me,’ he predicted. ‘The Doctor's here.’

Hermann was somewhat taken aback. ‘Why... yes, sir! So I've only just been told by the maid...’

A cruel smile formed at the corner of Scarlioni's lips. ‘I knew it!’ he hissed. ‘Bring him down here.’

‘Yes, sir,’ replied Hermann obediently, and retreated back up the stairs.

Romana looked up from her work assembling the components for the field interface stabiliser. ‘Count, I suppose you...’

He cut her off in mid-sentence as well. ‘Shut up,’ he snarled, ‘and get on with your work.’

Romana too was taken aback. She glared at the Mona Lisa, still perched on its stand. ‘I bet you never got treated like this,’ she muttered.

Romana was wrong, and had she known it, she would have probably been very surprised.

‘How long have you been married to the Count?’ the Doctor ventured.

The Countess lit a cigarette and took a puff before answering. ‘Long enough.’

‘Long enough... oh, I like that!’ The Doctor smiled. ‘I do like that! Discretion and charm - so civilised! So terribly unhelpful!’

‘Discretion and charm...’ She smiled. ‘I couldn't live without it, especially in matters concerning the Count.’

The Doctor nodded. ‘There is such a thing as discretion,’ he told her. ‘There's also such a thing as wilful blindness.’

‘Blind?’ The Countess laughed. ‘I help him steal the Mona Lisa - the greatest crime of the century - and you call me blind?’

‘Yes!’ insisted the Doctor, quite seriously. ‘You see the Count as a master criminal, an art dealer, and you like to see yourself as his consort.’ His voice lowered to an urgent whisper. ‘But what's he doing in the cellar?’

The Countess shrugged. ‘I don't know! Tinkering... every man must have his hobby.’

‘Man?’ The Doctor raised an inquisitive eyebrow. ‘Are you quite sure about that? A man with one eye...and green skin? Ransacking the great art treasures of history so that he can make a machine to reunite himself with his people, the Jagaroth?’ He chuckled. ‘And you didn't notice anything,’ he scowled. ‘How discreet... how charming...’

But the Doctor's words failed to have the desired effect; the Countess was once again laughing hysterically.

Hermann entered the room, gun in hand. ‘Excuse me, My Lady,’ he said courteously, and then sneered at the Time Lord. ‘Doctor, the Count is very anxious to see you in the cellar.’

‘Well I'm very anxious to see him,’ the Doctor replied approvingly, ‘otherwise I wouldn't be here.’ As he was led out by Hermann and the thug, he stopped momentarily and looked back at the Countess. ‘Think about it,’ was all he said, and then the three men left.

The Countess' mirth quickly subsided as the Doctor's words sank in. She thought very hard about everything he had said. Suddenly she recalled something she had once seen that had disturbed her, and extinguishing her cigarette, she went over to the hidden bookcase and put down the manuscript of Hamlet. She searched through the bookcase, taking each book out and putting them neatly in a pile on the floor. Then she found what she was looking for. She opened the cover of a book to reveal a hollowed interior with several scrolls hidden inside. The first one she opened - Gallileo's map of the heavens - she put aside; the second scroll was the one she was after. She went over to the table, brushed aside various items in order to clear adequate space, and unrolled the scroll out across the surface of the table.

It was an ancient Egyptian papyrus which documented the hierarchy of life in Egyptian society from its supposed beginnings and in order of importance, illustrated with the animal-headed figures of the Egyptian gods. She brushed the dust from the parchment as she examined the pictures clearly. Whoever said that pictures spoke a thousand words had been right.

Along from the line of men, on to cats and then through to gods was a vision that confirmed her fears. As with the rest of the representations of bipeds, it had a pink, masculine body and wore a white robe. But the difference in this case was that the head was a large green reptilian blob, with a single eye in its centre...

As her heart thumped wildly inside her chest and her temperature rose, the Countess began to entertain the fearful notion that the Doctor may have been right...

‘Ah, Count!’ cried the Doctor as he was once again led down the stairs into the cellar. ‘How lovely to see you again. I wonder if you could spare me a moment of your time...’ His eyes strayed to Romana, who was working on a piece of equipment the Doctor found disturbingly familiar. ‘Ah, Romana! Hello, how are you? I see the Count broke you in as a lab assistant. What are you making for him - a model railway? Gallifreyan egg-timer?’ The Doctor's voice lowered and became deadly serious. ‘I do hope you're not making a time machine. I shall be very angry if I find out you are.’

The Count spoke. ‘Doctor, how lovely to see you again,’ he said pleasantly. ‘It seems like only four hundred and seventy four years since we last met,’ he couldn't resist adding with a smile.

‘Indeed... indeed.’ The Doctor grinned. ‘I so much prefer the weather in the early part of the Sixteenth Century, don't you?’

‘No, I don't think so,’ replied Scarlioni bluntly.

The Doctor's face fell. ‘What did your last lab assistant die of?’ he enquired.

‘Cellular acceleration,’ said Scarlioni, indicating the pile of dust in the central pad of the Cellular Accelerator.

A sudden fear gripped the Time Lord. ‘Where's Duggan?’ he asked, staring at the ash.

‘Get me out of here!’ he heard a familiar voice call.

Relieved, the Time Lord turned and saw the detective peering out through the bars of the cell door. ‘Ah, there you are Duggan. Behaving yourself? Good, good.’ The Doctor turned back to Scarlioni. ‘Now then, Count, this is what I've come to say.’ He drew himself up and for a rare moment was deadly serious. ‘If you're thinking of travelling back through time, you'd better forget it.’

The Count gave the Doctor a benign smile. ‘And why do you say that?’

The Doctor's smile was just as wide. ‘Because I'm going to stop you,’ he stated matter-of-factly.

Scarlioni shook his head, laughing. ‘On the contrary, Doctor, you're going to help me.’

The Doctor gave a frown of mock surprise. ‘I am?’

Count Scarlioni nodded. ‘You are indeed, and if you do not, it will be so much the worse for Mister Duggan, this young lady, yourself, and several thousand other people I could mention if I happened to have the Paris telephone directory on my person.’

The Doctor shook his head. Here once again was the serious side of the Time Lord that few adversaries of this incarnation had seen. ‘That sort of blackmail won't work, Count, because I know what the consequences would be if you get what you want. I can't let you fool about with time!’

The Count laughed at the hypocrisy of the Doctor's words. ‘And what else do you ever do?’ he accused.

‘Ah, but I'm a professional,’ the Doctor replied firmly. ‘I know what I'm doing. I also know what you're doing.’ He glared at Romana, who held a device in her hands which he feared was now complete and fully functional. ‘Romana,’ he ordered, ‘put that equipment down.’

Scarlioni smiled. ‘Doctor, I think we can dispense with both your interference and your help.’ He examined the device Romana had constructed. ‘Your friend has done her job very well indeed.’

‘Count,’ pleaded the Doctor desperately, ‘do you realise what would happen if you try to go back to a time before history began?’

‘Yes, yes I do.’ The Count gave a short laugh. ‘And I don't care one jot.’ He nodded to Hermann. ‘Lock them in the cellar. They shall stay long enough to watch my departure. After that, you may kill them in whatever manner takes your fancy.’ He was aware how much pleasure he denied his butler when he rescinded the order to kill Duggan earlier. He hoped this would amply make up for it. ‘I shall make my farewells to the Countess,’ he said, and then departed, leaving the delighted Hermann to escort the two Gallifreyans back into the prison cell.

The Countess stood in the lounge.

She was quite calm. Her eyes were red from crying. The doors opened and Scarlioni entered the room. He smiled at her. She smiled in return and raised the gun in her hands and levelled it at him from across the room.

Scarlioni frowned. ‘My dear?’

‘Close the door,’ she snapped.

Amused, the Count gave her a smile but complied with her request. He turned back with an expression on his face that inquired if she was satisfied.

She was. She held the gun quite steady. ‘What are you?’ she asked simply.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘What have I been living with all these years?’ she cried, her calmness dissipating. ‘Where are you from and what do you want?’

Scarlioni thought this over for a moment. ‘If I may be allowed to answer those questions in reverse order,’ he said, crossing the room towards her, ‘what I want is a drink.’

‘Stay back!’ she warned as he came closer and picked up a glass from the tray.

‘Will you have one?’ he asked as he poured cognac into the glass.

Put it down!’ she shrieked.

Scarlioni stopped and realised that, like the Doctor, his wife was deadly serious. He shrugged and put both the glass and the decanter back down on the table.

‘Now,’ she said, calm again and steadying her aim, ‘who are you?’

Scarlioni's face became a blank, unreadable mask. There was no emotion, no feeling in his tone. ‘I am Scaroth,’ he said.

‘Scaroth,’ she whispered, unable to believe what was happening to her. Perhaps, she wondered to herself, she had hoped that at the last minute all would be well, everything would turn out all right.

‘I am the last of the Jagaroth,’ said Scaroth. He laughed harshly at her horrified, disbelieving expression. ‘It has not been difficult keeping secrets from you, my dear. A few fur coats... various trinkets... a little nefarious excitement...’ He paused to tear off a bit of loose skin dangling from his forehead.

‘Who are the Jagaroth?’ she demanded.

He turned away and looked across at the mirror. His human facade looked back at him. ‘The Jagaroth...’ he murmured. ‘An infinitely old race,’ he told her, ‘and an infinitely superior one.’ He smiled. There was no further need for disguise. ‘I shall show you what you want to know, my dear,’ he said, turning back to face her.

She frowned. His skin was peeling away, faster by the minute. Suddenly she saw that his face was puffing up, as though his glands were swelling uncontrollably. But it was not puffing up - she realised that his face was actually bulging, puckering, as if some unseen force was pushing the skin outward. She let out a silent scream as a crack suddenly ran down the side of his face and an entire chunk of it fell away. The same thing was happening all over his head - skin, hair and features were all falling away to reveal the creature beneath.

It was more horrifying than her worst nightmares. The green head was covered in scales and two tentacles protruded from the side of the face. The one eye with a green pupil in the centre of the forehead throbbed with evil.

It spoke. The voice was fierce and guttural. ‘I am Scaroth!’ the creature screamed.

Tears streamed down her face. She steadied her aim as the creature approached her and fired a shot directly into what she believed would be its heart.

Her knowledge of Jagaroth anatomy left a lot to be desired.

Through me my people will live again!’ the creature declared as it came closer. She could have sworn it was sneering at her. She fired another shot into the creature's chest. And another. And another.

I'm glad to see you're still wearing the bracelet I designed for you, my dear,’ said the thing that had once been her husband as she fired another bullet at it. ‘As I said, it is a useful device!

Reaching forward, the creature twisted the top of the ring on its finger.

The Countess felt a surge of pain up her arm and she dropped the gun. Crying uncontrollably, she fell to her knees and tried in vain to tear the bracelet from her wrist. She failed.

The pain was searing further up her arm now. It moved up her neck and into her brain. She gave a final scream of agony before the pain overcame her and she fell forward on to the floor.

Such a pity...’ Scaroth knelt down to caress his dead wife's neck. ‘Goodbye, my dear,’ he said with a note of regret in his voice. ‘I'm sorry you had to die... but then in a short while you will have ceased to have ever lived...

Picking up her discarded gun, the creature turned and left the lounge, leaving the corpse of the Countess Scarlioni behind.

Quite dead.

Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Epilogue