7: I Have Heard Of Your Paintings Well Enough

The Louvre was as silent as a mausoleum. Romana and Duggan made their way by torchlight as quietly as they could through the building. In every chamber and every room they were presented with the same picture - security staff unconscious, innocent expressions on their faces.

‘I thought the Louvre was meant to be well-guarded,’ whispered Romana.

‘It looks as though every alarm in the place has been immobilised,’ Duggan observed. ‘A fantastic feat.’

‘The Count's got some pretty fantastic technology,’ Romana reminded him.

‘How much nerve gas would it take to fill a building this size?’

‘Nerve gas?’ Romana frowned. ‘No, that would take far more men than we've seen in the Count's employ to deploy. The authorities would have been alerted in moments. And we'd hardly be wandering through here unaffected, would we?’

‘So what do you suppose he's done?’

‘Some sort of sonic pulse, I suppose. With equipment like that bracelet, they could easily knock out everyone in the building with minimal effort.’

As they entered the section that housed the Mona Lisa, the torch beam fell on the huddled form of a security guard lying face down in front of them. Duggan quickly examined the man, and saw the fatal bullet wound. ‘Another alarm's been immobilised,’ Duggan quipped.

Romana scowled. ‘You've got a pretty cynical attitude to life, haven't you, Duggan?’

‘Well, when you've been around as long as I have...’ Duggan hesitated. ‘How old are you anyway?’

‘A hundred and twenty-five.’

‘What?!’

Romana shone the torch beam around the gallery walls. ‘It's gone!’ she exclaimed. ‘The Mona Lisa's gone!’

Sure enough, the section of wall where the famous painting had been displayed was now empty. The protective glass screen was propped up against the wall nearby, and the red light beams still shone down across the space, but there was no painting behind them.

‘That system should be absolutely impregnable!’ exclaimed Duggan in disbelief. ‘It can't be turned off!’

‘Someone's managed it somehow,’ replied Romana sourly.

Duggan went up to the wall. ‘The only way to get at the painting is through...’ In his demonstration Duggan waved his hand through one of the beams. Romana sank her face into her hands as alarms sprang to life throughout the vast building. You could have heard them miles away.

‘Hells bells!’ yelled Duggan over the din.

‘That's what it sounds like!’ Romana agreed. ‘Let's get out of here!’

‘Split up,’ Duggan advised as they ran up the nearest staircase until they were at ground level. ‘We'll meet back at the café.’

Romana glanced around the darkened room. ‘How do you suggest we get out?’ she enquired.

Duggan pointed. ‘See that window?’

‘Yes?’

In reply Duggan charged, and took a flying leap. A further cacophony of alarms began screaming as he catapulted through the window, a shower of glass following him. Romana sighed, and hurriedly made her way towards the recently-formed escape exit route. In the distance she could hear approaching police sirens...

Professor Theodore Nicholai Kerensky awoke with a throbbing headache. Uneasily, he got to his feet and looked around for the tall, curly-haired man who seemed to understand temporal theory better than himself, but the laboratory was empty. He staggered over to the cell, hoping to find the stranger in there, but it had been also been vacated.

The hole smashed in the brick wall however aroused his curiosity, and he climbed through into the small inner chamber. The first thing he saw was a painting.

‘Mona Lisa!’ he gasped in sheer astonishment.

Then he saw the other five paintings. He shook himself to make sure he was not still asleep.

‘Mona Lisas!’ he corrected himself.

He was startled by a groan, and knelt down to find, to his additional astonishment, the unconscious form of Count Scarlioni. The Count was muttering something, and Kerensky leaned close to pick up the faint words.

‘Doctor,’ said Scarlioni, ‘would you care to explain to me exactly how you come to be in both Paris, 1979...’

‘...and Florence, 1505?’ finished the man who called himself Captain Tancredi.

The Doctor was seated in a chair at a table in Leonardo's studio. The soldier stood at the door, and Captain Tancredi loomed over the Time Lord with a venomous glare in his eyes. ‘I'm waiting, Doctor.’

‘Well,’ said the Doctor, ‘I do get about a bit, you know.’

Tancredi raised an eyebrow. ‘Through time?’

‘Yes, I suppose so.’

‘How, exactly?’

The Doctor seemed to recall having been in this very situation but a few hours ago, in a different time and place. He wondered if the same strategy of deflection would work a second time. ‘I don't know,’ he said with the same innocent grin that had infuriated the Scarlionis, ‘I just don't seem to be able to help myself. There I am, just wandering along, minding my own business, and then pop! Suddenly I'm on a different planet, or maybe even in a different time... but enough of my problems. What are you doing here?’

Tancredi considered the Doctor's question. ‘Very well,’ he conceded at last, ‘I shall tell you. The knowledge will be of little use to you as you will shortly die.’ He paced slowly to the other side of the room and then, after further hesitation, turned back to face the Doctor. ‘I am the last of the Jagaroth,’ he announced sternly. Any trace of humour, irony or charm had vanished from his features. ‘I am also the saviour of the Jagaroth.’

The Doctor gave him another of his grins. ‘Well,’ he said in a jovial tone, ‘if you're the last of them, then there can't be all that many about to save...’ The Doctor broke off as the full implication of Tancredi's words finally registered. ‘Did you just say Jagaroth?’

Tancredi was surprised. ‘You've heard of us?’ he enquired.

At last the pieces seemed to fit into place. The events of the past few hours and the alien face he had seen in the energy field of Kerensky's machine connected themselves with what Tancredi was now telling him and distant memories of childhood, distant memories of a cold Gallifreyan day spent with his mentor away from the mundane daily life of the classroom. ‘Jagaroth... yes, you all destroyed yourselves in some massive war... what...’

‘Four hundred million years is the figure you are looking for, Doctor.’

‘Is it really? How time flies,’ quipped the Doctor flippantly, and then his voice took on a serious tone. ‘So what are you doing here?’ he asked again.

‘Surviving,’ the Captain replied bluntly. ‘The prime motive of all species.’ The Doctor frowned, so Tancredi elaborated. ‘We were not all destroyed. A few of us escaped in a crippled spacecraft and made planet fall on this world in its primeval time. We found it to be uninhabitable.’

The Doctor nodded. ‘Yes, well, four hundred million years ago it would have been a bit of a shambles...no life to tidy it up.’

Tancredi continued with his story. ‘We tried to leave but the ship disintegrated. I was caught in the warp field and splintered. Those splinters of my being are now scattered through time - all identical, none complete.’ Tancredi stared at the Doctor. ‘I am not, however, satisfied with your explanation. How do you travel though time?’

‘Well, as I said...’

Tancredi turned away in frustration at the Doctor's persistent evasiveness and noticed the TARDIS standing unobtrusively in the corner. ‘What is that box?’ he demanded.

‘What box?’

That box!’

‘Oh, that box! I don't know, I've never seen that box before in my life... ah!’ The Doctor caught sight of a painting propped up on an easel beside the TARDIS and, leaving his seat, darted over to investigate it. It was a woman with no eyebrows and in his mind's eye the Doctor could see her seated in this very room, complaining and cussing. ‘The original, I presume?’ he smiled as he examined the brushwork. ‘Completed in 1503... it's now, what, 1505, and you're getting the old boy to knock off another six for you, which you then brick up in a cellar in Paris for Scarlioni to find in four hundred and seventy four years’ time - that's a very nice piece of capital investment!’

‘Doctor, I can see that you,’ observed Tancredi in tones identical to Scarlioni's, ‘are a dangerously clever man. I think it's time we conducted this conversation somewhat more formally.’ He turned to the soldier. ‘Hold him here,’ he ordered, ‘whilst I collect the instruments of torture.’ The soldier obediently came over and held the blade of his sword close to the Doctor's throat.

Tancredi opened the door. ‘If he wags his tongue,’ he advised the soldier as he left, ‘confiscate it.’

The Doctor frowned. ‘How am I supposed to talk if you confiscate my tongue?’

‘You can write, can't you?’ he heard Tancredi call.

For a few minutes they waited in silence and then the Doctor looked up at the soldier. ‘He's mad, isn't he?’

The soldier remained impassive.

‘Must be a tough job humouring him,’ the Doctor went on.

Still the soldier said nothing.

The Doctor frowned. ‘You don't believe all that, do you?’

The soldier frowned back at him. ‘What?’

‘All that nonsense about Jagaroth spaceships...’

The soldier's reply was blunt and to the point. ‘I'm paid simply to fight’’

The Doctor nodded. ‘Yes, but when you think about all that stuff... Jagaroth spaceships and things...’

‘When you work for the Borgias,’ interjected the soldier, ‘you believe anything.’

‘The Borgias?’ hissed the Doctor. He nodded for what was not the first time in this conversation. ‘Yes, I see your point.’

‘As I said, I'm paid simply to fight.’

‘As I said, I see your point.’ The Doctor brushed the point of the soldier's sword away from his face. He reached into his coat and the soldier immediately tensed. ‘No,’ the Doctor reassured him. He held up a small Polaroid camera. ‘It's all right.’

The soldier frowned, far from convinced. ‘Come on,’ the Doctor urged. ‘Smile!’

The soldier wrinkled his face into a sort of contorted snarl.

‘Lovely!’ said the Doctor approvingly, and took his picture. When the photograph emerged from the camera, the Doctor held it up for the soldier to see. ‘There we are! Isn't that nice?’

The soldier frowned and came nearer. The Doctor held the snapshot out. The soldier leaned forward to look at it. As he did so, the Doctor quickly brought his fist up to meet with the soldier's jaw. Much as he resented resorting to Duggan-like tactics, the Doctor was still impressed at how quickly the soldier toppled backwards without a sound, and collapsed on the floor.

The Doctor didn't waste a moment of the time he had bought himself. He ran over to the Mona Lisa. Six boards of canvas, all the same size as the finished painting, sat on a stool beside it. The Polaroid camera disappeared back inside his coat and in its place he pulled out a chunky blue felt-tip marker pen. He dropped to one knee, placed the first canvas board on the floor, took the lid off the pen and wrote ‘THIS IS A FAKE!’ on the clean white canvas in large capital letters. He then pulled the second canvas off the pile and, putting it on top of the first, again wrote ‘THIS IS A FAKE!’ in the same large, clear writing. He worked his way through the pile until all six boards had ‘THIS IS A FAKE!’ written on them. He replaced the pile on the stool, putting the top board face-down so that when Tancredi returned he would not notice that they had been defaced.

Next he took out a writing pad and tore a sheet of paper from it. He dashed off a quick note with the felt-tip pen but formed all the letters backwards so as to render them unintelligible. He placed the note on the table by the canvas boards, and then snatched up a small mirror which he placed, standing on its side, next to the letter so that it reflected the words into a readable form.

Dear Leo, Sorry to have missed you, hope you are well. Sorry about the mess on the canvasses, just paint over, there's a good chap.  See you earlier, love, the Doctor

The Doctor turned to leave but before he could even contemplate entering the TARDIS he found himself facing Captain Tancredi.

‘Just about to pop off through time again, Doctor?’ the Captain enquired. ‘How very discourteous, especially when I had just gone to all the trouble of fetching the thumbscrews!’

The Doctor sighed. This just didn't seem to be his millennia.

Count Scarlioni's eyes flickered open. It was dark but he could make out that he was lying on his back. A strange creature, looking like a startled bird, was looking him right in the eye. As his eyes regained the ability to focus he recognised the creature.

‘Kerensky,’ he muttered.

The Professor leaned closer. ‘Yes, Count?’

Scarlioni peered into the gloom. ‘Where am I?’

‘You are in Paris, of course!’

‘Paris... perhaps it was a dream...’

Professor Kerensky had sat in stunned silence while Scarlioni had deliriously rambled about Doctors, da Vinci and time travel. ‘Who... who are you?’

‘I am who I am, Kerensky,’ the Count replied curtly, and struggled to his feet with the Professor's assistance. ‘I am the one who is paying you to work. Now get to it!’ The Count felt his forehead. He could feel that the skin was starting to peel off. ‘Time is short.’

‘But...your face!’

Scarlioni rounded on him. ‘You pick a quarrel with my face, Kerensky? Take care I do not pick a quarrel with yours, for I will use instruments somewhat sharper than words.’

‘Who are the Jagaroth?’

‘So!’ the Count exclaimed. ‘It was not a dream!’ He pointed at Professor Kerensky. ‘The Jagaroth...you serve the Jagaroth. Now work!’

The Professor frowned at the Count's statement. ‘It... it is the Jagaroth who need all the chickens?’ he asked, puzzled.

Scarlioni burst out laughing. ‘Chickens? It never ceases to amaze me that such a giant intellect can live in such a tiny mind!’

The Count's laughter was abruptly stifled.

There was a voice in his head, a distant sound, calling to him from the past. He closed his eyes and thought back four hundred million years. Scaroth... said the voice. Scaroth...Scaroth! He opened his eyes and stared accusingly at the terrified Professor Kerensky. But the voice continued its chant. Scaroth...Scaroth!

‘I must think,’ the Count whispered. ‘I must have time to think...’

‘What have you been making me work for?’ Kerensky pleaded. ‘I thought we were working to save the human race!’

‘The human race?’ The Count gave a short sharp laugh. ‘We are working for a far greater purpose...on a scale you could not possibly conceive.’ He looked Kerensky in the eye. ‘The fate of the Jagaroth is in my hands. You will work for my purpose willingly...or unwillingly!’

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