Yeah, strap in, it’s more of the inevitable “everybody learns the other show’s premise” encountered in most crossovers. 😉 Also some more schoolgirl French, and a flashback, and some quaint technology — marvel as a pocket pager is presented as something impressive. 😛
The Masque of the Baron
EPISODE SIX: in which some secrets get revealed
The sun shone a dirty yellow, its light sullied by the smog that overhung the city. The Baron smiled happily, joyful at the prospect of the coming Masque. He looked forward to the terror. He always did.
Michel was not so happy. “This,” he said, pointing indignantly at the yellow haze obscuring Montmartre, “is yet another manifestation of the oppression of our people, is it not, mon maître?”
The dark Baron turned to Michel. He said nothing, but smiled all the more. Michel was an excellent pupil. Almost as good as Robespierre. Of course, Robespierre had been a bright man to begin with. All he had needed was the flame. Michel required so much more tutoring. But then, Robespierre’s independence had cost him his head.
“What do you think?” asked Michel suddenly.
The dark man regarded Michel solemnly. “The pollution of the air,” he said, “is merely a metaphor for the pollution of the mind.”
Michel frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Television, my friend,” replied the Baron. “Newspapers. Radio. The World Wide Web. Misinformation easily and subtly fed into the mind.”
Michel gasped in awe. “What would I do without you, mon ma=EEtre?”
Outwardly, the Baron smiled fondly and modestly. Inwardly, he smirked. It was never this easy with Robespierre. It was almost this easy with Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula, but never was it so much fun. He laughed happily and threw an arm around Michel. “Never fear, my friend,” he said, smiling. “Never fear.”
“Never fear,” said le Baron Lucien Noir, leaning back in his seat in Robespierre’s sitting room, having just poured himself a fresh cup of tea.
Robespierre himself was standing at the window, peering out at the citizens below. “Never fear? Is that all you can say?”
The Baron did not answer immediately. Instead, he brought his teacup to his mouth and took a sip. It was very sweet. “Now, now, my friend. Hébert is dead.”
“But the bloodshed!” breathed Robespierre, turning from the window. There was pain on his face. “We are making a poor example of ourselves.”
“You and I?” asked the Baron.
“No, no, no,” said Robespierre, shaking his head. “The Republic! And I still think it was a bad idea to outlaw Christianity.”
The Baron raised an eyebrow at this. “But the Cult of the Supreme Being was your idea, Maximillien.”
“Religion is necessary for order,” replied Robespierre, sinking into an armchair opposite the Baron. “The only problem with Christianity was it’s insistence upon dichotomy. All men are created equal, my friend.”
“Who told you that?”
“Lafayette, I think.”
“And look where it got him.”
Robespierre looked up. “Yes, I know.” He sighed. It had been very distressing when Lafayette had been executed. “Even the best men can fall away from the truth.”
The Baron set his tea aside and looked into Robespierre’s eyes. He saw a very tired man inside. Perhaps he’d been pushing the Frenchman too hard. “What’s happened?” he asked, knowing full well the truth.
Robespierre had become paranoid.
“There are still Hébertist factions,” he replied. “But none are man enough to show themselves.”
–Small wonder, thought the Baron, thinking fondly of Madame Guillotine.
“I think . . .,” began Robespierre, choking back his words as though stricken with grief. “I think that Danton is one of them.”
The Baron affected sympathy, knowing that Danton had always been a good friend and supporter of Robespierre. –All the better, he thought to himself. Danton was a known friend of Robespierre’s and a stout defender of liberty. And there was no evidence of insurrection. “I am so sorry, my friend,” he said.
“It is the price we pay,” replied Robespierre, a hardness growing in his voice. “When one crusades for virtue and liberty, one can hold no quarter.”
The Baron nodded with determination. “As always, my friend, you are right.” And he took his leave of Robespierre, content.
A week later, Danton was dead. Over the next five months, over 2,500 others followed his steps to the guillotine, including the Baron’s sacrifice. And the dark Baron was exceedingly pleased.
“I am very pleased,” said the Baron, patting Michel on the shoulder. “You have done much, and will do much more, my friend.”
Michel actually blushed with gratitude. “Thank you, mon maître, but I do not think I deserve such praise.” He smiled. “It is you . . . .” He broke off as his brand new pager went off. He unclipped it from his belt and read the LCD readout on the little device.
“What is it?” asked the Baron.
“Beta group has taken prisoners.”
“Where are we going?” asked Terri. They’d been walking for ten minutes, along a convoluted maze of ancient sewer ways. She was now thoroughly lost. She devoutly hoped the Doctor knew where they were.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” replied one of her captors. He was a red-haired boy, probably about 17 or 18 years old. He seemed to be the leader of the group.
Terri looked to the Doctor for support. He looked across at her, seemingly at perfect ease. “Don’t worry, Terri,” he said. “When we get where we’re going, we can talk about this reasonably. I’m sure it’s all just a mistake.”
Terri stared at the Doctor, astonished by his cheerful attitude. “How can you be so calm?” she asked. “They probably think we killed those two boys.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” replied the Doctor. “Don’t worry, though. I’ll think of something!” Terri was about to reply when she noticed the Doctor’s fingers drumming on his umbrella. He was worried.
Terri bit her lip. She wondered if Adam had gotten away. She hoped so. He was a wonderful researcher, she reflected, but he wasn’t really cut out for violent stuff.
Then she remembered the meeting with the strange Baron and wasn’t quite so sure anymore.
“Ah, here we are!” said the Doctor, brightly. Terri looked up. They were entering another large chamber. This one showed signs of habitation, with lots of tables and chairs, and people scurrying everywhere. The walls wore so many layers of graffiti that it was impossible to tell what color they’d been originally. But the most recent layer of spray-paint had followed a clear pattern.
“Where are we?” Terri asked the Doctor, whispering with awe.
“Some kind of headquarters, I should think,” he replied, gazing at his surroundings with a keen interest. As they progressed into the room, a large mound of stolen goods became visible. “On second thoughts, it looks more like a dragon’s den.”
“So where’s the dragon?” asked Terri.
Suddenly, the group came to a halt. Terri felt a firm grip on her shoulder, restraining her from moving further. Somewhere in the distance (or perhaps only in her mind — she was never afterwards sure) there was a deep thumping sound, not unlike a great heartbeat. Not a single person made the slightest sound. Then she heard footsteps. She turned. And gasped at what she saw.
Striding proudly into the room were two men. One was a young man, younger than Terri, who walked with a spring in his step and fire in his eyes. But it was the man behind who stole all Terri’s attention.
It was the same dark stranger who’d accosted her and Adam in the caf= Ã©.
“I had to ask,” she whispered to herself. Although the younger man walked in front and although the younger man seemed to carry the authority, it was the dark Baron who was the dragon. Terri was sure of it.
She bit her lip, hard. She tasted blood, but did not let off.
The two men drew near and halted in front of them. The red-headed teenager broke away, snapping his assault rifle up in something resembling a salute. “Comrade Michel,” he said, addressing the younger man. “We found these two poking about the meeting hall. They found the bodies.”
The young man — Michel — turned to the Baron and whispered a question. The Baron whispered back. Michel turned back to the group and said, “Let the prisoners stand on their own, comrade Jean.” Their captors backed off immediately, nevertheless keeping their guns at the ready. “They are civilized, and must be questioned in their own manner.” He turned to the Doctor and Terri. “Who are you?” he asked.
Without a moment’s delay, the Doctor stepped forward, doffing his hat. He extended his hand to Michel, saying, “Allow me to introduce us. I’m the Doctor, and this is Terri Johnson.”
Michel stared at the Doctor’s hand, but did not shake it.
The Baron, meanwhile, stepped forward, interposing himself between the Doctor and Michel. The Doctor did not flinch in the face of the Baron’s dread gaze. Terri found herself admiring his stamina. She remembered what it was like to be pinned in those strange eyes.
“Interesting,” said the Baron. “You are not like other men,” he said.
The Doctor smiled flippantly back. “Oh, I know,” he said.
“Do not provoke me, mortal,” said the Baron, and turned away dismissively. The Doctor appeared quite crestfallen. Terri sympathized.
“What do you mean?” asked the Doctor, indignant at being dismissed so easily. But the Baron ignored him, swinging his terrible gaze over to Terri. She shrank back, but was pinned in his green and black stare.
“Child,” he said, “where is the old one?”
Terri shuddered in the grip of the man’s strange eyes. “I . . . I don’t know . . .” she managed to say.
“Your companion,” he continued mercilessly.
“Who?” she asked, bewildered. The oldest person she’d talked to today was the Doctor. He couldn’t mean Adam, since he was scarcely older than Terri herself.
Unless . . . .
But before she could pursue the thought, a blinding, searing agony shot through her temples. She gasped in pain. Bright bubbles of light exploded across her retinas and she felt her body recede, driven away by electric storms of terror. Or was it her mind that was fleeing? She didn’t know and couldn’t think, except about the merciless pain that assaulted her disembodied mind. For a moment she perceived a brilliant viper, striking at her brow, and then felt the double stabs of its fangs, sinking deep into her consciousness. And then she was falling, falling, falling down a deep spiraling well that went on forever and ever and ever and ever . . . .
And then, mercifully, she passed out.
“What have you done?” shouted the Doctor, watching Terri collapse to the stone floor. He flew to her side and lifted her head from the floor. None of the armed teenagers moved an inch to help.
“She will regain consciousness shortly,” replied the strange, dark m= an.
This response did not satisfy the Doctor. “Just who do you think you are?” he said, looking up at the man in fury.
The dark man smirked. “I am the Baron, Doctor.”
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed. “That’s hardly an answer.”
“Then tell us who *you* are, Doctor,” replied the Baron. The Doctor frowned at this, but bit his lip and kept his peace.
“Oooooh,” said Terri, stirring. “What happened?” she asked, sitting up, a hand on her head.
“I think the Baron made a forced entry into your mind,” he replied. His soft blue eyes had gone as hard as stone.
“Very perceptive, Doctor,” replied the Baron. The Doctor stood and helped Terri to her feet. He was very worried. He still didn’t know who or what the Baron was, but he was developing some very nasty suspicions.
Meanwhile, the Baron had returned to stand at Michel’s side. “The woman lost track of her companion back in the meeting hall, comrade Michel.”
–And with any luck, thought the Doctor, he’s far away from here by = now.
“Jean!” called Michel. The red-headed teenager stepped forward. “Take some people back and search for . . .” He paused and conferred with the Baron. “Search for a twenty-five to thirty-five-year old man with dark hair. He’ll answer to Adam Pierson.”
The Doctor heard Terri gasp with surprise. He leaned across to her and whispered, “I was right. The Baron dragged that out of your head.”
Her eyes widened. “But how?”
The Doctor smiled ruefully. “I’m afraid our friend the Baron is a highly trained telepath.” –But trained where?, he wondered to himself. And what did he want with Michel and all these lost children?
Once again, the Doctor had some very nasty suspicions. He remembered the Daleks on Nekros and shuddered.
Before he could dwell on the thought, there was a shout. Jean had already returned. “Comrade!” he shouted. “Luc’s team found him not ten minutes ago!”
The Doctor turned to watch Jean and another group of heavily armed teenagers leading Adam into the room. He sighed.
Adam was brought up to stand next to the Doctor and then released. “Well,” he said, smiling ruefully at the Doctor, “this isn’t what I had in mind when I slipped away.”
“At last,” said the Baron. The Doctor started. There was a curious pleased excitement in the Baron’s voice. It reminded the Doctor eerily of Davros. “My sacrifice,” he breathed, so quietly that even the Doctor barely heard.
The Doctor’s eyes widened. “No!” he said, outraged. “Whatever you plan, Baron, I will not allow it!”
The Baron turned to meet the Doctor’s gaze. “And what do you know of it, little man?” He smirked. The Doctor found himself getting very tired of that smirk. “Every time, Doctor, I take my sacrifice.”
“What are you talking about?” asked the Doctor.
“In all my travels, little mortal,” said the Baron, “I have found no world with such . . . such tasty morsels as creatures such as your friend.”
The Doctor turned to look at Adam, whose eyes had grown very wide. “What’s he talking about?” he asked Adam. But Adam merely stared past the Doctor in mute astonishment.
The Baron spoke. “His name is not Adam Pierson,” he said.
Suddenly Terri gasped. The Doctor turned to see her staring at Adam — or whoever he really was — with newfound fear. “Oh, no . . . don’t tell me,” she said. “You’re . . . Immortal?” she breathed.
“Well, . . . yes,” replied Adam.
–Well, thought the Doctor. This certainly answers a lot of questions. “I rather thought you seemed a bit . . .,”
“. . . older than my years?” Adam finished for him. “Yes. Sorry, Terri,” he said, casting an apologetic glance in her direction.
Terri looked fit to be tied. But she had no chance to answer. The Baron began laughing. The sound of his laughter chilled the Doctor, piercing his hearts with a twinge of icicle sharp fear. For a moment, he wondered why he was afraid.
“Lock them up,” said Michel. Hands clasped around the Doctor’s arms, dragging him away. There was no use resisting. Not yet.