Master Home Truths.
"Why are you showing us all of this, Doc?" Graham turned to the Time Lady, tired of seeing all of these past battles between the Doctor and the Master, which seemed to stretch endlessly into the past.
Finding out the insane Harold Saxon was the Master…that had been bad enough, although it explained a great deal, although the so-called Year that Never Was had horrified all three human members of Team TARDIS; the psychotic Time Lord had devastated Earth, taking advantage of the lack of other Time Lords who would have prevented the massive changes to history created when the Master's use of the Paradox Machine built into the Doctor's own TARDIS, enslaving the human race who he forced to build a war-fleet with the Toclafane, forging a so-called Time Lord Empire when the Doctor had made it clear the Time Lords would never have wanted or even allowed such a thing.
Graham had nearly cheered when that version of the Master was shot before he remembered the bastard had clearly survived; he had, and he had gone on to break the time-lock thing containing the Time War and quarantining it from the rest of the universe so the Daleks and the other horrors contained inside it didn't get out, resulting in the insane Time Lord President Rassilon trying to destroy the entire universe. While Graham was grateful towards the Master for stopping Rassilon from killing that version of the Doctor, he hadn't enjoyed watching how the Master's new body, that Mary Poppins-like-woman who was clearly a few raisins short of a fruitcake, came up with that sick plan of building an army of Cybermen using dead bodies which went on to convert new bodies.
It was too much like what they'd seen during the time of the incarnation of the Master who'd fought in the Time War, he had become increasingly ill, especially as how Missy was shown to be on the point of redemption before encountering the 'Harold Saxon' Master, but there had been signs she had no intention of changing, but the Doctor had been blind to it; it wasn't until Bill had been injured and transformed into a Cyberman that Graham guessed the Doctor's last self had realised the Master was irredeemable although if she still harboured hopes the Master they were familiar with could be helped after everything he'd done so far, Graham would begin wondering if the Doctor was senile.
Graham was expecting a reply, but he didn't like what he got and neither did the others. They didn't like the way the Doctor stared at them with disbelief and more than pitying contempt. They'd seen the way the Doctor had looked at Tim Shaw, Epzo, Krasko, Robertson…. It was the same look, they had never expected - or wanted - the Doctor to look at them like that.
"You mean you haven't worked it out, yet?" The Doctor said, gazing at them in disbelief. "Y'know what, I'm starting to rethink how intelligent humans are. The answer is right in front of you! You've been watching it for the last couple of hours! How hard is it for you to get the message!?"
"Oi, don't speak to him like that-!" Yaz snapped in defence of her friend, hurt over what the Doctor had just said.
"What do you expect?!" The Doctor shouted, her eyes narrowed with anger and pain; she clearly didn't like being like this, but it was clear she was tired and fed up with having to explain everything when the answer was clear - at least to her. "How many times have you seen the Master come back?"
Yaz, Ryan, and Graham went quiet as they realised what it was that the Doctor was trying to tell them.
The Master always seemed to come back.
They had witnessed the Master be caught in explosions of ordinary energies and temporal energies. They had seen him be shot. They had witnessed the Master stealing bodies, either when he was nearing the end of his own regenerations, or shortly after he had been disintegrated by the Daleks. They had seen the Master shoot Missy, for god's sake, and she had survived (granted, they couldn't believe that Missy had become the Lumiyat and was later shot by her earlier self, making all of them wonder if Missy and her own predecessor were just more insane to even go that far;), and yet the Master had come back for sure.
"That's why I've brought you to the Hall of Renegades. I wanted you to realise the Master comes back, and he comes after me again, and again, and again with his petty schemes and attempts to kill me, just to hurt me because of some perceived slight I made against him years ago. I wanted you to see you were wrong. He will come back. He always does. I wasn't thinking about showing you here," the Doctor went on, admitting the truth to them, while she gazed around the room with real contempt. "I hate this room," she admitted, "I hate the message that it spreads."
"What is the message?" Ryan asked, fearful the Doctor would lash out at him for asking a question with an answer she believed was obvious.
The Doctor sighed. "The Time Lords believed that everything in the universe would fall apart if anyone left Gallifrey and began travelling the universe," she explained before she shrugged, "although there is a degree of truth to that, its not a disaster if you're careful. A Time Lord is linked to a system called the Web of Time, allowing us to make any possibility in the universe a probability. For instance, you saw those events in my lives and those of the Master; because we were involved, they happened, and any attempt to change them would cause incalculable damage.
"In order to stop more Time Lords doing the same, and causing damage to history, the High Council in all of their infinite wisdom came up with this, deciding to show young Time Lords what being a renegade meant. It went both ways, of course; you can't tell people what to think, and this place inspired more Time Lords than stopped them. But I can't help but hate the message this room is sending out, no-one has the right to be something or someone different from the norm."
The Doctor walked away from them, and she stopped near Drax's statue, smiling when she caught sight of the female version of her old friend (she noted this female Drax resembled Constance Clarke, and Tallulah from New York during that mess with the Cult of Skaro), wishing Drax were here right now. In fact, she wished the Time Lords were still where they'd been the whole time since Rassilon set up the transduction barriers.
But no. It was just her, again, while the Master was also out there.
And she was still no closer to finding out why the Master had wiped out their people - that mess with the Eye of Harmony back in her fourth life had made sense after her fourth self had pieced together what it was the Master was after and what he wanted and it was just one thing, but so far there was nothing to tell her what the Master meant by the Timeless Child thing (she needed to find a way of accessing the buried image of a child standing by those buildings, hopefully, it would give her a valuable clue).
And she had looked.
Ryan, Yaz, and Graham knew she had been coming to Gallifrey whenever their backs were turned and she had the opportunity of leaving and then coming back quickly enough once she was sure they'd be alright, but what they didn't know was she sometimes drugged them before they headed for bed so then she could break the dimensional ripple Gallifrey was currently located in. The drugs were strong enough to keep her friends under for hours, giving her plenty of time to check out Gallifrey and try to reconstruct the Master's steps so she could work out what he had done.
It was obvious he had looked in the Matrix, it was the only place she could think of that would provide the Master with the knowledge that far back. Unfortunately, no matter how hard she had tried, no matter what tricks she'd picked up during her time as President, she was simply incapable of finding out anything about the Timeless Child but she wasn't going to stop looking until she discovered what the Master had learnt.
"I knew the Master would come back," the Doctor whispered, knowing the humans would hear her since their attention was focused on her anyway, "but until now, I'd no idea Missy had decided to make a stand, instead of just running away and leaving me to cope with the Cybermen. But I knew the Master would come back. He always does."
"Doctor, I'm so sorry; I-," Yaz looked down as she wondered what she could say to make this less bad than it already was. She looked up into the Doctor's face, and she was chilled when she saw the Time Lady staring at her without any kind of warmth.
"Sorry? Sorry for what? Sorry for forcing an ultimatum on me; I admit I made my fair share of mistakes by not telling you what the Master has done, and what I'd said to Graham, but I don't know about you but forcing that ultimatum on me was beyond cruel," the Doctor's voice was dark with disappointment, and her expression forbade any possibility of an argument.
"Why did you keep what happened to Gallifrey a secret?" Ryan asked, his expression grim.
The Doctor sighed, "Do you remember when I showed you the events around Demon's Run? The moment I reached Rory and Amy, they pulled away from me. I had caused them so much pain and grief with my poor judgement, and questionable, thoughtless decisions; when their own daughter chided me with that speech about how I frighted everyone I encountered on my travels… I spent weeks, months, years changing my approach. I stayed in the shadows as best as I could, just to avoid Kovarian and her little order. I started getting more and more secretive, and it passed to my future two lives."
The Doctor turned so she could face the other statues of the Deca, catching sight of the Rani. "I was obsessed with finding the Master, with wringing the truth out of him… when he sent that hologram of himself, saying he would tell me more but he wanted me to find out on my known, so he'd get his wish it would result in a blow… I had just about had enough.
"I am so tired of that things' games. I am sick of him waltzing through the universe, murdering everyone in his sight - either with a gun, a laser screwdriver, or a Tissue Compression Eliminator - I just wanted the truth. The Master claims he wants power, that the only truth in the universe is to rule or serve. He doesn't get the fact even if he dominated half of the universe people are going to rebel, and the more people he murders, the more they will fight back. He believes just because he is a Time Lord," the Doctor spat out the title like it was poison, stunning the three humans, "he is invincible. He's not. He can still die. All someone has to do is find a way of killing him, and when he begins to regenerate, they merely have to shoot him halfway. And then he is dead. The Daleks have a massive empire, but while they hold their captives under a tight grip, they do not just massacre people on a whim as the Master does; the Daleks are one of my worst enemies, but even I know they only kill when they need to."
The Doctor paced up and down the room, her body language showing just how angry she was. "But all the Master does is kill, kill, and kill while claiming he is taking control of the whole universe. He's a murderer. But like a fool, I have not really taken any action against him when anyone else in my place would have either tried to kill the Master until he was out of regenerations or in a moment between life and death to make his suffering worse - believe me, I can imagine people wanting that punishment for him, considering what he's done over the centuries - but not me. No, all I do is try to persuade him to look at what he's doing, and make him stop but I know it won't work. The only reason I do it is to make people better," she sneered the words.
Ryan, Yaz, and Graham were listening with increasing worry as the Doctor prowled the room like an angry animal. They had never seen this side to the Doctor before, they had never ever expected her to berate herself in this manner before. But what worried them the most was the implication the Doctor was actually thinking it would be a good idea to kill the Master.
They could understand the logic. They didn't have a lot of experience of the Master - they might have encountered him just the once, but the viewer showing the Master's past and how he'd tried on many occasions to take over the universe or kill the Doctor, or both depending on the scheme - but they had watched as he laughed about the murder of the original O. But at the same time this was the same woman who had told Graham if he tried to get revenge on Tzim-Sha, she would kick him out of the TARDIS. They knew the Doctor could be a hypocrite at times, but why should she be allowed to break the rule and they couldn't?
"Look at Bill. Missy's predecessor," the Doctor spat, "took a friend and turned her into a Cyberman. She was right about Missy the whole time; okay, at the end Missy might have changed her mind, but her betrayal still hurts. And I ignored Bill, dismissing her warnings even though she had faith in my abilities. How sick is that? A virtual stranger who didn't even know Missy personally until I introduced her needed only a few minutes with her around, and she knew Missy could not be trusted over me, someone who'd known Missy for centuries! I should have known better. I was so desperate to get my old friend back I was willing to endanger lives; Bills' and Nardoles'. What does that say about me? Do you know what I think; I think over the years I moved away from my original self's opinion the Master being irredeemable. And look where it got my Fourth, Seventh, tenth and twelfth selves? Dead. My fourth, seventh, tenth and twelfth selves died because of the Master's schemes. And when I thought Missy had abandoned me, I saw her for what she was. And that opinion has not changed. The Master is irredeemable. He does not want to change. Missy never did; that spark she had at the end does not count. I see that now."
"As for keeping Gallifrey a secret…. I often asked myself about the wisdom of keeping it secret," the Doctor went on, shaking her head, "I wanted to tell you…. But what could you have done? How does knowing I'm all but the last of my kind once more change things? In any case, why should it considering you are leaving anyway?"
"What?" Yaz gasped.
"Where'd that come from?" Ryan asked.
"Doc, we never-!"
"DON'T PLAY GAMES WITH ME!" The Doctor screamed as she lost her patience with them all, making the three humans take a step back as they caught the real fury on her face. They had never seen the Doctor this angry with them before, and it scared them. "A few hours ago, you were clamouring in the TARDIS telling me that you wanted to go home, just because I wanted to keep my feelings to myself! Did it never occur to you I might want to be left alone to brood? Did it never occur to you it might be something I do, bottle up my feelings and think about them on my own? I am really sorry I pushed you away, but when you ganged up on me I decided to show you what's happened to my world. I brought you here to finally make wake up and see the Master will come back, regardless of what your stunted little brains tell you. What, did you really think I would spend so long studying the TARDIS, going off on my own, looking for signs of the Master if I didn't think he'd survived?! Do you think I'm stupid? It certainly seems that way!"
"But, Doctor, we….we no longer want to leave..," Yaz said in a small voice.
The Doctor wasn't touched at all. In fact, it only made her angrier. "I thought I just told you not to play games with me. Don't insult my intelligence by saying that just because you know what the Master has just done you've just changed your minds. I am not stupid; you had become tired with the way I was acting, so you decided to just leave me to it. It's only now you understand what's been going on, you want to stay."
The Doctor glared at Yaz as if daring her to contradict her. Yaz swallowed and looked away. The Doctor's eyes turned to Ryan and Graham, and they were no better than Yaz.
With a sneer of disgust, the Doctor turned and walked away from them.
"Come on, you three want to go home, then you'll go home. And if I travel with anyone again, I will not make the same mistakes I have made with you."
As she finished that, the Doctor closed her eyes, thankful the three humans couldn't see the tears in her eyes. She knew it would be pathetically easy for her to claim the Master had destroyed something else that was good in her lives, but not this time. No, this time it was because of her own stupidity this had happened.
When they reached the TARDIS, however, the Doctor turned and faced them, her expression blank. "Okay, I've changed my mind. You can all stay, but don't you ever play a cruel game like that with me again," she said before she pulled the main dematerialisation switch, and the TARDIS left Gallifrey.
As the TARDIS entered the vortex, the Doctor didn't bother with the controls like she normally did. She just left the console room so she could head deep into the bowels of her ship so she could weep in private.
Until the next time.
In the meantime, please let me know what you think.