The Weapon

By Michael Mayo

The attack had come and gone in a flash; almost an if it were a dream, an illusion. The only evidence that something had ever happened was a heavily dazed Time Lord lying on the floor of the TARDIS console room.

The Doctor came to, ever so slowly and ever so painfully, while a burning headache ravaged his brain. Gritting his teeth, the Doctor pulled himself precariously to his feet. He wore odd attire for a being from such a highly regarded planet as Gallifrey; a white English cricketing coat, trousers and vest. Unusually, the costume suited his open, innocent features. His whole appearance instantly conveyed a sense that he was, in all respects, harmless.

The Doctor's headache had soon subsided, and the moment his vision had cleared properly, he began studying the TARDIS' central console. Various needle-registers on the console showed signs of having been fluctuating madly, only now they were losing their excitement and beginning to read 'normal' again. The Doctor scratched his head in frustration. Something had happened only moments before; what it was was the problem.

Breathing deeply, the Doctor closed his eyes. His memory of the event was only just returning; the flash was now very clear in his mind. What had caused it? The Doctor probed deeper. He remembered a warning light on the console... he remembered hearing the cloister bell ringing. Suddenly the Doctor's eyes opened. ‘Companions!’ he exclaimed in a burst of remembrance. Where were they?

The Doctor moved over to the interior door and pushed it open. What was her name, that nice Australian girl? Of course... ‘Tegan?’ yelled the Doctor. His only reply was the familiar hum of the TARDIS. Massaging a large lump he had found on the back of his head, the Doctor suddenly remembered that Tegan had been left behind at Heathrow airport. At least that accounted for one of them, the Time Lord thought.

Still slightly dazed, the Doctor wandered down one of the TARDIS corridors looking for his other assistant, Nyssa. Before long he came to the conclusion that she had vanished, and wandered back to the console room. There, the Doctor sunk dejectedly into a large, antique chair he had salvaged from some distant time, and began to wonder what had happened.

The TARDIS scanner suddenly came to life of its own accord. The Doctor, his interest aroused, stood. An image was forming... slowly, out of a swirling storm of interference. It created a picture of Nyssa, an attractive young woman in a burgundy coloured velvet outfit. Her expression, however, was full of fear, and as the picture sharpened, the Doctor could make out that she was snared in a thick black web made of gleaming metal.

‘Doctor!’ she screamed, ‘Help me!’

Full of urgency, the Doctor rushed over to the console and opened the voice channel. ‘Nyssa, can you bear me?’ he cried.

‘Yes!’ replied Nyssa, ‘Doctor... it's the-’ She was cut short as the picture changed from her to another, much more menacing figure... a figure clad in black and punctuated by a sinister black beard.

‘I must thank you Doctor,’ chuckled the Master, ‘for allowing your TARDIS' failsafe circuit to fall into such a state of aged impairment that I was able to not only slip in and kidnap Nyssa, but also give you a good thump on the head.’ The Doctor ran a hand over the back of his head and felt the egg-shaped lump again. No wonder he had a headache.

‘What do you intend to do with her?’ he asked.

‘Give her back to you, of course,’ said the Master. ‘After you and I have concluded some business. You don't think I would kidnap that unsightly girl for company, do you?’

The Doctor raised his eyebrows. The Master wasn't usually so blatant; he killed people and destroyed planets with the utmost of politeness. The Doctor could think of nothing to say.

‘I wish to propose a deal,’ said the Master, ‘and the only reason I turn to such a pathetic, sentimental fool as yourself is because you are still registered as a Presidential candidate on Gallifrey from one of your earlier visits there...’

‘And what about it?’ said the Doctor.

‘Well,’ replied the Master cheerfully, ‘because the Time Lords obviously forgot to remove you from the officials list after your candidacy was revoked, you still enjoy certain... Time Lord privileges. For instance, all TARDISes owned by officials are automatically able to pass easily through any Time Lord Planet-Shield. And it just so happens that the planet I wish to visit has a Planet-Shield, Doctor.’

‘What's its name?’ asked the Doctor.

‘Security One,’ said the Master triumphantly.

‘No!’ cried the Doctor. ‘That planet has been purposely hidden for centuries. I think we both know why!’

‘Hidden somewhere on that planet is the famous Transmutation Machine, Doctor. It's been there, unused, for millennia. With it, Doctor, I could control everything!’ There was a mad gleam entering the Master's hypnotic blue eyes. ‘It took me a while,’ he continued, ‘but my brilliance prevailed and I discovered the exact location of Security One. Now Doctor, listen carefully, these are your instructions. You will open up a hole in the Planet-Shield around Security One with your TARDIS and go in. I'll follow you through in my TARDIS. The moment I have the Transmutation Machine and am safely out of harm's way, I will return Nyssa to you.’

‘You should be locked up!’ cried the Doctor.

‘The Time Lords, in all their wisdom, could not bring themselves to destroy such a marvellous weapon. So they hid it.’ The Master chuckled, ‘Fitting, isn't it, that their own stupidity will bring about their demise...’ The Master laughed loudly, and slowly faded from view as the scanner shut down.

The Doctor studied the console. Already a long string of numbers were flashing up on the Data screen; obviously their source was the Master's TARDIS. The numbers dictated the location of Security One, a planet of many a Time Lord legend. A planet where, supposedly, the ancient ancestors of the Time Lords lay hundreds of deadly traps, and left many kinds of monster to roam the surface, hunting out anyone who came to the planet.

The Doctor wondered what he was in for.

Security One was green world; amongst its many little groups of green trees ran streams of cool, fresh water. The rolling green hills and the deep blue sky all added to an overall effect that the planet was, in fact, Earth. Of course, it wasn't, the Doctor reminded himself as he emerged from the battered blue box he called home. The TARDIS had materialised beneath a large green tree that was covered in leaves looking absurdly like hands.

A tree of hands, thought the Doctor cheerfully. Then his expression suddenly clouded... a tree of hands! Many a childhood poem about Security One had mentioned them. Horrified, the Doctor ran away from the tree - a moment before a thick green hand supported only by a thin stem, snapped at his head, narrowly missing and winning only a handful of air. The Doctor turned back to the tree only after he was sure he was well out of reach of it. Sure enough, all the 'leaves' on the tree were flailing about as if in a strong wind. Every single strong green finger was reaching out dangerously from every single horrible green hand... all in the direction of the Doctor. The Doctor shuddered when he realised that the TARDIS itself had been enveloped by the seething mass of excited killer leaves as they reached out at him. To attempt to return to it now would almost certainly mean death, the Doctor mused cheerlessly.

The Time Lord decided to wait around for the Master to turn up. As had been arranged, the Doctor had opened up a hole in the Planet-Shield around Security One and the Master had followed him through. The Doctor only hoped he would be able to rescue Nyssa before the Master got the Transmutation Machine - if, indeed, it was possible to get to the Machine without falling foul of any of the legendary horrors of the planet.

There was rustle nearby in some harmless looking bushes, and the Doctor suddenly grew alert. He heard more rustling... and then an inhuman growling. Before he could turn to run, a huge beast leapt out of the greenery and charged straight at the Doctor. The creature - a horrible mixture between ape and dog - flew onto the Doctor and tightened one huge black clawed hand around the Doctor's throat. Both fell to the ground.

The creature snarled, revealing huge, canine fangs that were already dribbling for the feast. With its free paw, the creature slashed at the Doctor's face. The Time Lord stopped the paw millimetres above his left cheek, holding it desperately with one hand. Almost suffocating under the weight of the creature, the Doctor began to realise that, like it or not, there was no way he could defeat the hungry monster single-handedly.

The creature's huge strength was overwhelming the Doctor, and its claws were about to cut through his skin when a slight humming filled the air - and then stopped. The creature roared out in agony, arching its back, then collapsed back onto the Doctor and was still. The Time Lord looked up from beneath the creature and saw a chuckling Master, happily aiming his pen- like Tissue Compression Eliminator at the Doctor. ‘What an interesting spectacle,’ said the Master, indicating the dead beast, ‘such a pity I can't let you die until I get the Transmutation Machine.’

The Doctor pushed the dead creature off himself and got to his feet. ‘What was it?’ He asked.

‘A Slerv,’ replied the Master, ‘you were lucky you were only attacked by one. They usually hunt in packs.’

The Doctor asked where the Transmutation Machine would be found. ‘Over there,’ replied the Master, pointing in the general direction of a hill. ‘Just a short walk. Now move.’ The Master waved his Tissue Compression Eliminator in the Doctor's face, giving a vaguely threatening gesture as he did it.

‘You know, this won't be much of a partnership if you keep pointing that gun at me,’ said the Doctor.

‘You surely don't think I trust you, Doctor?’

The Doctor began marching off down a slope, followed by a slightly bemused Master.

The entrance to the security complex that the Master was sure housed the Transmutation Machine was a weathered metallic cylinder, the width of a large door and at least two metres high. The Doctor stopped at its sealed entrance. ‘How do we get in?’ he asked.

The Master drew a small white card from one of his pockets. ‘With this,’ he replied, ‘I stole it from a museum on Gallifrey. No one worried, of course, but then they didn't realize that when this complex was built, it could only be entered with one of these.’ The Master slipped the card into a slot in the cylinder. ‘Of course, very, very crude by today's standards.’

‘Yes,’ agreed the Doctor as half the cylinder's exterior slid away to reveal a small compartment within, ‘DNA-Identification is much, much safer. You don't get criminals like you gaining access to places like this.’

The Master ordered the Doctor to enter the lift first. ‘In case there are any booby traps,’ he explained sinisterly. The Doctor stood in the lift for a few moments, and was then joined by the Master, who tapped a few buttons on a panel next to the door. The cylinder sealed shut, and seconds later it suddenly shot downwards into the surface of the planet at a very high velocity. The Doctor noted that the effects of G-force on the ride were minimal thanks to the anti-gravity cushioning installed in the lift.

When the lift came to rest, the door slid open to reveal a brightly lit white corridor. ‘Out,’ ordered the Master, and the Doctor stepped out of the lift, followed by his enemy. ‘Our goal is very close, now,’ whispered the Master. Still armed with the Tissue Compression Eliminator, he followed the Doctor down the corridor until it opened up into a large white room. The only feature of the room was the fact that one of its walls had been replaced by a large glass-like partition.

‘At last!’ gasped the Master, ‘The Transmutation Machine!’ He rushed over to the glass partition and gazed through it greedily. The Doctor joined him and saw the object of his desire: a small black box resting on a glowing white table.

‘How do you intend to get into there?’ asked the Doctor. The Master swung round on him, aiming the Tissue Compression Eliminator directly at the Doctor.

‘I have taken everything into account. A brief study of the Gallifreyan legends concerning this planet was all that was required in order to discover how to gain access to the Machine. Now - get back!’ The Doctor obeyed, backing away from the Master toward the opposite wall.

The Master, keeping the Doctor always in his sight, produced a small device and inserted it into a panel in one of the white walls. Instantly, a computer console extended out of the wall. It was equipped with a small screen, and rested at about the Master's waist-height.

‘What is it?’ asked the Doctor.

The Master poised a hand over the keyboard. ‘A teleport terminal, it's what the Time Lords once used to get directly from their TARDIS' to here when this complex was being built, thus bypassing the need to traverse the surface. Naturally it was deactivated when the complex was sealed. I intend to teleport myself into that room.’ He pointed into the room beyond the partition.

‘It won't work!’ exclaimed the Doctor.

‘Back!’ ordered the Master again, waving his Tissue Compression Eliminator. Reluctantly, the Doctor edged away. Satisfied that the pathetically good Doctor was at a harmless distance, the Master touched the keyboard - and suddenly huge blue bolts of lightening burst out of the keyboard and into the evil Time-Lord! The Master screamed as he was covered in a seething web of blue fire. He dropped his weapon and staggered backwards... straight into the glass partition. The blue energy surrounding him like a blanket suddenly dissipated into the glass, causing it to explode into millions of pieces!

The Doctor shielded his face and hands in his coat as he was struck by hundreds of fragments of glass that harmlessly bounced off him. When the explosion was over, he dared to look up. The Master was lying on the ground next to the table upon which was housed the Transmutation Machine. Blood was running from a large cut in his forehead, and he appeared to be unconscious. The Doctor stepped through into the second room and took the small featureless, black box that he and the Master had risked so much over.

As the Doctor studied the keyboard of the teleport terminal, now drained of the lethal energy that had lain in wait for anyone touching it, the Master began to stir. Unseen by the Doctor, the evil Time Lord opened his eyes and reached out for the Tissue Compression Eliminator, which lay only a few feet away from him.

The Doctor heard the movement, and turned to see the Master make a wild grab for his gun. The Doctor got there first and snatched up the Tissue Compression Eliminator, holding his enemy at gunpoint.

‘It seems I made a slight mistake,’ whispered the Master, ‘but luckily I took the small precaution of having a recall device!’ Unseen by the Doctor, the Master had been holding a small red button. Before the Doctor could stop him, the Master depressed the button and faded from view. ‘Goodbye Doctor!’ The Master chuckled as he vanished, his words seeming to hang in the air.

Left staring at thin air, the Doctor wondered why the Master had given up the Transmutation Machine so easily - to him of all people! Then the Time Lord remembered that the Master still had Nyssa captive aboard his TARDIS. Pocketing the Transmutation Machine, the Doctor moved over to the keyboard and punched in a series of commands. Within minutes he had located his TARDIS, and at the press of a key, the Doctor teleported back into the familiar white console room. He was greeted by the image of the Master, once again threatening him from the TARDIS scanner.

‘Now Doctor,’ said the Master, ‘as I mentioned before, a deal: the Transmutation Machine for your companion's life.’

The Doctor looked meekly away from the scanner. He couldn't let Nyssa die. He had to comply with the Master's wishes. ‘All right,’ he told the Master, ‘but under my conditions.’

The Master considered the Doctor's request, and finally agreed to it; why not humour the Doctor? After all, he was to be the Master's very first target the moment the Transmutation Machine was installed aboard his TARDIS.

‘I will materialise my TARDIS inside your TARDIS' console room, and there I will receive Nyssa and you will receive the weapon, agreed?’ said the Doctor.

‘Very well,’ replied the Master, ‘you can lock onto my TARDIS quite easily, and I will allow you entry into it.’ His image faded from the scanner.

Inside the Doctor's mind, an idea had formed. With a tinge of worry, he dematerialised his TARDIS.

The interior of the Master's TARDIS was jet black; an almost total opposite to the Doctor's, except that it was a slightly more advanced model. The Master stood studying his black console, whilst strung up within a web of metal above him was Nyssa. She stared down on the console from high up in the black wall, watching the every move of the man she hated: the Master. He had killed her father and destroyed her planet, and Nyssa wished for his death desperately.

‘My dear Nyssa,’ the Master remarked, ‘I am releasing you.’ He touched a button on his console, and Nyssa was suddenly free of the strong web that had barred her body from movement for so long. She fell down onto the floor of the Master's console room, collapsing into an exhausted heap - to be greeted by the familiar sound of a TARDIS materialising. She lifted her head to witness the arrival of the familiar blue Police Box that she'd travelled in ever since the destruction of Traken.

The door of the Doctor's TARDIS opened, and the Doctor stopped out. Sparing a glance at the Master, he rushed over to Nyssa and crouched down beside her. ‘Nyssa? Are you all right?’

‘Yes,’ replied Nyssa. ‘Just a little tired.’ She began struggling to get to her feet, and the Doctor helped her through the blue doors of his TARDIS.

‘And now Doctor,’ said the Master patiently, ‘The Machine.’

‘Yes...’ said the Doctor, turning back to him after Nyssa was safely in the TARDIS.

‘I might warn you Doctor, that should you dishonour our agreement, I will kill you.’ The Master produced a large alien blaster, much bigger than his usual Tissue Compression Eliminator. ‘The Machine, Doctor!’ reminded the Master. The Doctor sunk a hand into his packet and pulled out the small, but supposedly lethal, square box.

He reached out to hand it to the Master - but suddenly the Master's TARDIS violently tilted, throwing the Doctor into the Master's console and hurling the Master himself against a far wall. Angrily the Master fired his blaster at the Doctor - but the Doctor was already vanishing through the blue doors into his own TARDIS. The Master's console exploded in a shower of sparks.

As the Doctor's TARDIS dematerialised, the black console room began to shake violently. Slowly, a shimmering yellow haze flowed through the wall into the Master's TARDIS. Dropping his gun, the Master screamed in agony and clutched at his head...

The Doctor and Nyssa stood in the gleaming white console room of the Doctor's TARDIS. ‘It was a hunch,’ said the Doctor, ‘but it worked. I came up with the idea that it had been all-together too easy to steal the Transmutation Machine; I theorised that perhaps there may be some sort of defence mechanism built into the Planet-Shield itself that would attack any TARDIS or ship escaping with the weapon...

‘And there was,’ continued Nyssa, ‘it must have been some sort of Psycho-kinetic force.’

‘Yes. The Time Lords of old dabbled with such things. It attacked the Master's TARDIS because the Machine was aboard it at the time.’ The Doctor pulled the Transmutation Machine out of his pocket and held it up for Nyssa to see. ‘Watch,’ he ordered as he plugged it into a small socket in the console. Turning on the scanner, the Doctor and Nyssa observed a picture of a small green planet. Nyssa said, ‘Is that-’

‘Security One, it is.’ said the Doctor. ‘The Transmutation Machine works by changing any atoms in almost any radius into a single element which the user may choose. I now have the power to destroy this planet.’ Nyssa drew deep breath.

The Doctor adjusted the scanner again. This time, it showed a huge space station rotating slowly upon its axis. When the Doctor spoke again, his voice had hardened, and he wore a darkly inauspicious expression. ‘And this is a Time Lord space station, half way across the Universe... I could destroy that also.’ The Doctor stabbed a button on the console and the picture changed again, this time showing the interior of the Master's TARDIS. The Master lay unconscious on the floor, jammed into one corner of his console room. ‘...And the Master. It appears that he is still alive,’ said the Doctor in a ruthless tone.

‘Destroy him, Doctor,’ whispered Nyssa, ‘Get rid of him once and for all. Remember how he destroyed my world?’

The Doctor turned a dial and heard the black box fixed to the console begin to hum; it rose in pitch. ‘Do it, Doctor!’ urged Nyssa, ‘Kill him!’ Suddenly the pitch dropped and the box was silent again.

‘I can't,’ said the Doctor, and he turned off the scanner and removed the Transmutation Machine from the console. ‘It would make me worse than him. Besides, a weapon such as this should never have been created in the first place.’

The Doctor put the box gently on the floor of the TARDIS, then placed his foot delicately on top of it and smashed it to pieces.

This item appeared in Timestreams 1 (August 1990).

Index nodes: Fiction