It occurs to me that since this blog reads newest to oldest, I should probably add some sort of navigation to the tops of these posts. I’ll go back and insert this in the others. 😉
The Masque of the Baron
EPISODE SEVEN: in which the Masque begins in earnest
Terri slumped disconsolately against the stone wall of their prison, immediately feeling her back dampen. They were not far from the Seine. She sneezed.
“Bless you,” said Adam and the Doctor in unison.
She looked up. The Doctor looked tired. Adam looked apologetic. His expression only reminded Terri of what had transpired not ten minutes before, which made her very annoyed. “Adam,” she said, keeping her voice firmly under control, “just what do you think you’re doing?”
Adam started, managing to look both hurt and confused at the same time. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“You know damn well . . .,” she began, trailing off as she remembered the Doctor. He didn’t know about the Watchers. Or about his Chronicle. Terri squirmed mentally as she pictured telling her superiors that the Doctor was something even less human than an Immortal. Suddenly she realized that the unassuming alien was staring curiously at her. Unnerved, she turned back to Adam and said, “Who are you, really?”
Adam sighed. “Well, you’d’ve worked it out eventually,” he said. “I’m Methos.”
Terri started. –Methos? she thought. It doesn’t make sense! Why would Methos become his own Watcher . . . . No. On second thoughts, it makes perfect sense, she thought.
“Ah,” was all she said.
“Excuse me if I’m interrupting something,” said the Doctor politely, “but could one of you elaborate? I’m afraid you both seem to know something I don’t.”
Adam — no, he’s Methos, thought Terri — sighed again. “I’m not only an Immortal but . . . I’m the oldest Immortal.”
The Doctor frowned. “I still don’t follow. If you’re immortal, how can the Baron ‘sacrifice’ you? And why does it matter that you’re the oldest?”
Terri bit her lip, unsure of what to do. She winced as her tooth struck the sore spot she bitten earlier.
“Where to begin?” muttered Methos.
Now Terri spoke up. “Tell him about the Game,” she said.
“Well,” began Methos, “when two Immortals fight, . . .”
Michel sat calmly in the darkness below Paris. He was very happy. Already, his people’s raids on the establishment had won the notice of the police and the media. At least sixty men who’d stood in their way were now dead in the streets, including two policemen.
And in a few minutes, the best would begin. A small dose of terror on the MÃ©tro, a warning . . . a taste of what was to come.
Michel frowned briefly. It would not be pleasant, especially when it came time to clear the bodies from the underground trains. But if it had to be, then it had to be. The opression could not continue.
And he had already spent too much time sitting. Michel leapt decisively from his seat and went off in search of the Baron.
“Well,” said the Doctor, “we can’t hang about in this cell any longer,” he said. Already they had spent too much time there, growing damp instead of growing closer to a solution. What Adam — Methos, he corrected himself — had just told him was worrying him tremendously.
Methos looked up in surprise at the Doctor’s words. “Are you saying we have a choice in the matter?” he asked.
The Doctor smiled. He prided himself on his skill in escaping dungeons. “I’ve escaped from stronger prisons than this. Don’t worry,” he said, and brandished his new sonic screwdriver proudly.
“What’s that?” asked Terri.
“A sonic screwdriver,” answered the Doctor happily. “Our way out,” he said. He moved to the old, oaken door, pressing his ear up against it. He heard a single pair of footsteps, retreating into the distance, and then silence. He smiled.
“How’s that going to get us out of here?” asked Methos, disbelieving= ly.
The Doctor frowned at the ancient Immortal. “Have some faith, my good man. Just because you’re five times my age doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know.”
Methos frowned back. “Five times?” he answered, still skeptical. “But that’d make you a thousand years old. That’s not possible. You’re mortal.”
The Doctor grinned. “Yes, and I’ve died six times already. I told you: I’m a Time Lord. We live a long time.”
“So,” said Terri, “do Time Lords ever die of old age?” Then she blushed. “Sorry . . . I shouldn’t have said . . . I was just curious. No offense.”
“None taken,” replied the Doctor brightly. He found himself growing rather fond of Terri. He put his ear back the door for a moment. There was no sound, so he activated the sonic screwdriver and got to work on the lock. “A Time Lord, if he keeps in good health, can live up to 12,000 years. Hardly any do. It would be terribly boring.”
“I can relate to that,” said Methos, chuckling.
“Indeed,” said the Doctor. “But you can’t imagine how tedious life is back on Gallifrey!” Three of the lock’s six pins slid neatly back and the Doctor smiled, pleased. “The High Council operates on a strict policy of non-intervention,” the Doctor said, frowning as Terri chuckled for no apparent reason, “discouraging travel and encouraging people to sit and gather dust.”
Another pin slid back and the Doctor spared a glance at Terri and Methos, who were grinning like idiots. He frowned severely at them and returned to his work. “I mean, how could I possibly have stayed behind, dedicating my life to the study of the Gallifreyan flutterwing?”
The last two pins slid back and the Doctor turned. “What ever are you smiling at?” he asked the two humans.
Terri answered. “Oh, nothing,” she said, grinning from ear to ear.
“If you’re smiling at nothing, than my name’s Rassilon,” said the Doctor. “Look, I’ve got the lock open. We can go now,” he said, pushing the door open a crack and peering cautiously around it. There was no one there, so the three of them all filed out into the hall.
“I’m impressed,” said Methos.
“Hush,” said the Doctor. “We must keep quiet. Follow me,” he said, leading them away from the illuminated route and into pitch blackness.
“Do you know where you’re going, Doctor?” whispered Terri.
“Yes,” replied the Doctor shortly, thinking hard. “I’ve been here before, a long time ago. A group of gypsies showed me the way.” And he fell silent, leading them on by touch.
Terri blinked furiously at the sunlight that was stabbing into her dark-adjusted eyes. They had just emerged from a manhole cover, much to the surprise of the alley cat sitting atop it. The Doctor was apologizing to the cat, while Methos was brushing rock dust off his clothing.
Getting from the old catacombs into the modern storm sewers had required crawling through a very rough and very narrow tunnel. She was glad to be out in the open air again, after half an hour of dank stuffiness. She breathed deeply, happy to taste fresh air. Then the Doctor’s voice cut in on her reverie.
“Terri, Methos,” he started.
“No,” interrupted Methos. “In the open, call me Adam,” he said quietly. Terri thought about this and realized that he was absolutely right. If any of the other Watchers found out who he was, they’d have an apoplectic fit. And if another Immortal found out . . . . She shivered. It was still very difficult for her to think of Adam as the kind of person who routinely cuts off other people’s heads.
The Doctor was talking again. “We need to work out what to do,” he said. “As my TARDIS is out of the question . . .”
“Why?” asked Terri.
“It’s bound to be guarded,” replied the Doctor. “As I was saying, as we can’t go there, we should find some place to talk.”
Methos — no, thought Terri, I might as well go back to calling him Adam, since it’s what I’m used to and what he wants — nodded. “Why don’t we just talk and walk?” he asked.
The Doctor seemed to consider this for a moment, then he nodded and set off towards the river. Adam turned to follow and Terri jogged to catch up. “So,” she said, trailing behind the two men, “what do you think he wants?”
The Doctor shook his head. “I don’t know,” he replied, a sharp edge to his voice, “but it can’t be good.”
Adam nodded. “I only wish I knew who he was,” he said. He suddenly turned, walking backwards to face Terri. “You’ve been researching people like the Baron. Have you heard of him?”
Terri sighed. “I’d’ve told you by now,” she said. “There’s no Immortal called the Baron There isn’t even anyone remotely like him, in any of the books!” she said, throwing up her hands. She almost tripped over the Doctor, for he had stopped suddenly.
The little Time Lord turned. There was a curious look in his eyes. “What do you mean, ‘in any of the books?'” he asked.
Terri swallowed, hard. She looked at Adam for support. He shrugged apologetically. There was little street traffic, which relieved Terri immensely. It was half past noon, and a nearby electronics shop wore a sign proclaiming that it was closed for lunch. “Well,” she said, “there’s an organization called the Watchers that . . . well, that sorta keeps tabs on the Immortals.”
The Doctor frowned. Terri felt her heart sink into her stomach. –He must have worked it out, she thought. He must have figured out that I’m his Watcher, and now he’s pissed at me, not that I can blame him.
But much to Terri’s relief, the Doctor simply said, “Well, you don’t need to ‘keep tabs’ on the Baron. He’s not an Immortal.”
“What?” asked Adam, surprised. “But he must be. I Sensed him. And if he isn’t Immortal, than what is he?”
The Doctor shook his head. “I’m not sure,” he said. “But he’s a very powerful telepath, more powerful even than most Time Lords. Far too powerful for a human. And he spoke of travelling, of finding . . .” The Doctor trailed off for a moment. Terri supposed he was thinking back to their meeting. “. . . of finding ‘no morsel as tasty as your kind.’ Or something like that.”
Adam shuddered. “Yes,” he said. “I’d blissfully forgotten that.” A television screen in the electronics shop caught Terri’s eye. It was displaying a terrible scene. Mutilated corpses were strewn across the floor of Le Printemps, a large department store. “Look,” she said, her voice quaking. Her two companions followed her gaze and started at what they saw.
Le Printemps had closed. What else could they do? The dead bodies belonged mostly to customers, although two off-duty policemen had tried to stop the carnage, in the end only adding their corpses to the travesty of justice. Witnesses said that the villains were mostly children between 15 and 18.
“Too young to drive,” said the Doctor, “but not too old to kill.” There was a hardness in his voice. “And to think I wondered what he needed them for.”
The scene shifted from Le Printemps to a subway. No one quite knew what had happened, but somehow a panic had broken out on board the train, just before it arrived at (ironically) Place de la Concorde. A hundred and six people had died, some stabbed, others trampled by the panicked crowd as it tried to escape its doom. There were a few survivors, all of whom talked of hearing disembodied voices telling them that there was a bomb on board, ready to explode at any moment, that they were unfit for modern life, that they were going to pay for their oppression.
No bomb had been found. Nor was there any kind of recording device. The two events were linked only by proximity of time: they occured within twenty minutes of each other.
“Doctor,” said Terri, her throat catching on the words, “I just thought of something.”
“What’s that?” asked the Doctor.
“Back when I was starting out as a Watcher,” she said, “I remember reading about an Immortal who was killed in the French Revolution.”
Adam gasped. “Yes!” he said. “I know about that one too! He was guillotined in place of his friend, Connor MacLeod.” His eyes had grown very wide. “He was killed by the Terror. Do you suppose . . .”
“. . . that the Terror was engineered by the Baron?” finished the Doctor. “It’s entirely possible.” Terri felt her heart grow cold. Thousands had died in the Reign of Terror.
“We must stop him,” said the Doctor. “Before it’s too late.”
Terri shivered. It would be a long time before she could retrieve her Pugeot and go get some sleep. For that matter, she reflected, it’d probably be a long time before she could sleep soundly anyway.
She shivered again, wondering how the Doctor remained so impassive through all this horror.