The Masque of the Baron
EPISODE FIVE: in which the Doctor gets in trouble as usual
“This is not possible,” Terri stated, mainly to reassure herself of her own sanity. She and Adam had just followed the Doctor into an old-fashioned police box ( –So the rumors at UNIT were true, she thought) which was significantly larger within.
“Oh, of course it’s possible,” said the Doctor, not turning as he strode across the room to a large, octagonal structure supported on a plinth in the center of the room, giving what Terri supposed was the console a fond pat. A glowing plexiglass column emerged from the center of the structure and was supported from above by four steel girders.. As the Doctor began flipping switches, Terri looked around for Adam.
Her colleague was staring in open amazement at the interior of . . . what was it the Doctor had called it? The TARDIS. There was a pleasantly lit space to the left which was clearly a study, containing an impressive number of books, a worn overstuffed chair, and a very dusty phonograph. Everything was placed in exactly the right spot, right down to the individual dust motes, giving the place a very dream-like quality.
“I’m dreaming,” said Adam, echoing Terri’s thoughts.
The Doctor turned and fixed Adam with his peculiar gaze, grinning happily. “You most certainly are not dreaming, young man.”
Adam broke from his reverie and stared at the Doctor. “Where do you get off calling me ‘young man?’ You don’t know how old I might be.”
Terri stared at Adam. The situation was rapidly moving beyond Terri’s range of experience. “Uh, Doctor?” asked Terri.
“Yes?” he answered.
“Who are you really?”
The Doctor sighed fondly. “Always the same questions,” he said, shaking his head. There was a peculiar, almost nostalgic smile on his face. “Who do you think I am?”
This gave Terri pause. She looked to Adam for support, but he merely shrugged, his face creased with worry. She bit her lip, then turned back to face the Doctor. “I don’t know,” she said, honestly.
The Doctor raised an eyebrow at her, but did not comment. Instead, he returned to flipping switches on the central structure, which Terri took to be a control console of some kind. “Come here, both of you,” he said. As they approached the console, he pulled a lever. Terri’s attention was immediately drawn upwards by a peculiar sound. She gasped as the ceiling was replaced by a holographic representation of outer space.
“What . . . what is *that*?” she asked, awed.
The Doctor chuckled. “Oh, just the Universe,” he replied. “Look,” he said, pointing at a distant galactic cluster. “That’s the Coma Cluster. My people call it Kasterborus.”
The two Watchers stared blankly at him. “So?” asked Adam.
“That’s my home.”
The coin finally dropped. Terri’s eyes widened. She was left speechless by the enormity of what the Doctor had just said.
Adam was not so speechless. “You mean to tell us that you’re . . . an alien?”
“Quite,” said the Doctor. “I’m a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey. And there’s something going on in this city that requires a Time Lord’s attention.”
Terri finally got her voice back. “But . . . it’s just a couple of murders.” She was very worried. If the Doctor was not an Immortal after all but an alien . . . well, it did explain an awful lot. But it was her duty to keep him from knowing about the Immortals. So she couldn’t let him get involved in a murder in which the killer was very likely Immortal.
The Doctor, meanwhile, had pulled down a monitor that was suspended from one of the girders. He was punching in values on the console and watching the results on the screen. “I felt a distinct temporal distortion at the scene of the first slaying.”
Terri frowned. The Doctor was speaking technobabble gibberish. “Say that in English, please,” she said.
He smiled apologetically, then sobered. “Someone has been altering Time,” he said. “Look at this.” And he indicated the monitor.
The two Watchers stepped around the console to stand behind the Doctor. Numbers were flowing across the screen, white on blue, totally incomprehensible. Terri looked up at Adam, who raised an eyebrow in response.
“Ah, Doctor,” said Adam. “I’m afraid we don’t understand.”
“There are several spikes in the artron energy levels in the Time Vortex,” he replied. “One of them coincides with the approximate space-time coordiantes of the first killing.”
“So?” asked Terri.
“So, Miss Johnson,” replied the Doctor, “there is no such thing as ‘coincidence’ when you’re dealing with Time.” He turned back to the console and began setting controls, flipping switches, and turning dials.
“What are you doing?” asked Terri.
With a melodramatic flourish, the Doctor flipped a final switch. The metallic spikes in the plexiglass column in the center of the console began to move, accompanied by a horrendous grating sound. “We’re leaving,” said the Doctor.
“Where are we going?” asked Adam calmly.
The Doctor turned to Adam, a curious look in his eyes. “Do I sense skepticism, Mr. Pierson? We’re going underground.”
“Why?” asked Adam, still calm as ever.
“Just who . . . no, never mind,” said the Doctor. “We’re going to the location of the second time distortion.”
This made Terri worried. “Um, Doctor?” she said. “Isn’t that dangerous? I mean, if the killings coincide with the temporal whatchamacallits, won’t the killer still be there?”
The Doctor smiled faintly. “Brave heart, Terri.”
“Huh?” she asked, bewildered.
The Doctor shook his head as though to clear it. “Oh, nothing. You just reminded me of someone I once knew,” he said. “I’m taking us to four hours after the fact, anyway, so it should be safe.”
— Famous last words, thought Terri.
The Baron smiled contentedly at Michel, the early morning sunlight slipping off his dark form like water off a duck’s back. They stood together in the Baron’s favorite place, the Place de la Concorde. “Well, my dear child, it seems you’ve made quite an impression,” he said. “Even more of an impression than my old colleague Maximilien.”
Michel did not know that the Baron meant Maximilien Robespierre. And even if he had known, he would not have cared. Michel loved the dark Baron more dearly than he loved his own life. For the Baron had brought surcease from the horrible pain that had plagued Michel for seven long years, filling the void with purpose.
“It is all thanks to you, mon ma=EEtre,” he replied modestly.
“No!” replied the Baron, smoothly and effieciently. “I merely unlocked your destiny!” He faced Michel and gripped the boy’s shoulders, reflecting momentarily that the boy was quickly becoming a man, although a man of the Baron’s making. “All that strength, that power, that just vision! That, my friend, is yours, not mine.”
Michel smiled happily. “You have great faith in me, mon Baron. I shall do my best to live up to that.”
The Baron gave a most convincing display of pride and joy, biting his lip and then boldly embracing Michel. He kissed the boy twice, then stood back. “There shall be justice in Paris, my friend. And you shall bring it. No more shall the bougeoisie crush their children beneath them.”
Michel took up the refrain with idealistic fervor. “No more shall they bind the masses up with drugs and television! No more shall we follow blindly to another man’s future! No more shall we be oppressed by our elders! No more!” he cried out, startling a young woman and her poodle. The dog growled at the Baron, who paid it no heed, but smiled happily.
All was progressing perfectly.
A loud, grating sound echoed through the old sewers of Paris as the TARDIS materialized, causing the rats to squeal in fright as they scattered into the darkness. Two boys, scarcely above the age of consent, silently observed two men and a woman emerge from the blue police box. They met each other’s gaze and nodded. One slipped silently into the murky shadows while the other remained to watch the strange newcomers.
“I don’t believe it,” said Adam, staring at the high ceiling of the underground chamber. Terri picked her way around him, wrinkling her nose at the foul stench of the place.
“What’s that smell?” she asked.
“Death,” replied the Doctor, mysteriously.
“Oh, come off it,” said Adam.
The Doctor took no notice of Adam but immediately began poking around. Terri, meanwhile, grabbed Adam by the elbow and gave him a remonstrative stare. “Adam,” she said, warningly. “Don’t overstep yourself.”
“What?” he asked, incredulous.
“Just watch it,” she hissed in his ear. “He’s not what we thought. We need to learn from him.” Adam replied with a warning glance of his own. — Terrific, she thought. On top of everything, now Adam’s acting wierd.
“Come and have a look at this,” called the Doctor from the other side of the impossible police box.
“Go ahead,” said Adam, turning away. Terri shot one last exasperated look at his back and trotted over to the Doctor. He was kneeling over a pair of motionless dark forms, a look of sorrow on his face. She gasped when she saw what he’d found.
Two boys, probably in their late teens. Both were quite dead. One boy, facing up, had a very nasty looking burn across the left side of his face and neck and a sticky mass of blood around his midsection. His coat, slashed open just above the waist, hung oddly, as though . . . as though . . . . Terri fought back nausea. The boy’s abdomen had been slashed open.
The other boy lay on his stomach. Terri did not know that the Doctor had rolled the boy over to prevent her seeing the boy’s disfigured face. The sewer rats had already begun their work.
“This is clearly the work of the same murderer,” said the Doctor, rising from the corpses. “Now all that remains . . .”
The voice rang out, echoing in the subterranean chamber. Terri and the Doctor looked up, startled, to see a teenaged boy pointing an assualt rifle at them. The boy was looking over his shoulder, calling to his comrades, a group of a dozen or so boys, all armed.
“Oh, dear,” said the Doctor. He sighed, putting his hands up in the air with the easy motion of long practise. Terri turned and looked behind for another escape route. But there was another boy behind them, keeping his pistol trained on them.
“Hands in the air,” said the first boy, apparently the leader. Terri wondered for a moment why the boy was speaking English, but did not dwell on the issue, as she felt the cold muzzle of a gun in her back.
She cast a despairing glance at the Doctor. He met her eyes as though to say not to worry, he had a plan. Not terribly reassured by this, Terri looked for Adam.
But Adam was gone.
She didn’t have time to wonder where he’d got to, for their captors were taking them away. For a brief moment, all Terri could think was “take us to your leader.”