The Masque of the Baron
EPISODE EIGHT: in which our heroes fight back
“I still think this is a bad idea,” said Terri.
“Nonsense,” said the Doctor as he used the tip of his umbrella to lever up the manhole cover. “We’ve got lanterns this time.” He beamed up at Terri.
Terri sighed and the Doctor returned to his work. “I would appreciate some help,” he said.
Adam bent down and helped the Doctor lift the cover free. “She’s probably right, you know,” he said.
The Doctor met Adam’s eyes. He sighed inwardly. The whole plan was a gamble, yes. But then, it was always a gamble, wasn’t it?
But he couldn’t tell the two humans that. It would only worry them unneccesarily.
–What about worrying me unneccesarily? asked a little voice inside of him. The Doctor had no answer.
“I know,” said the Doctor finally, looking Adam in the eye. “But we can’t afford the delay of contacting the police or military. We must get to my TARDIS as quickly as possible.” And he slipped down the manhole.
It was very dark and dank at the bottom. But it was also empty, which was the Doctor’s main concern at the moment. “Come on down!” he called. “It’s quite safe!”
The two Watchers followed him down into the murky darkness of the manhole. Terri landed with an “oof” and cast a recriminating glance at the Doctor.
Switching on his lantern, the Doctor peered at the walls with interest. “Lime,” he said, indicating the crystalline fuzz growing out of cracks in the brick walls. “This sewer will take us there much quicker.”
“That’s very nice, Doctor,” said Adam, a tone of irritation in his voice.
“. . . and the terror continues unabated. In recent developments, an ultimatum was delivered to all the major news agencies . . .”
“Switch it off,” said the Baron, sitting in the vast and nearly empty meeting hall. Only Michel was with him.
Michel stood and turned to face his mentor. His face was glowing with pride. “We have won,” he said. “They are listening to our words, they are hearing the truth! We have won!” And he threw his hands exuberantly up into the air.
The Baron chuckled and Michel dropped his hands to his sides. “We have won the first battle, my friend,” he said. “But the war has just begun.”
Michel felt his heart sink. “But . . . but they are frightened,” he said. “And so they listen! They cannot help but to understand that we are right.”
“No,” said the Baron, decisively. “Society will fight back.” Michel sank to the floor in distress. He had caused so many deaths this day. Could it possibly get any worse?
The Baron leapt out of his chair and knelt down before Michel. “Be strong!” he said, gripping Michel firmly by the shoulders. “You must not give up now. It is too late to turn back.”
Michel nodded. –The Baron is absolutely right, he thought. I cannot go back now. “I’ll try,” he said, smiling wanly.
“Good,” said the Baron, grinning proudly. He patted Michel reassuringly on the shoulder, but the young man was not comforted. “Have you sent out a search party yet?”
Michel was glad to talk of something else. “Yes. The prisoners should turn up any minute now.”
“Good,” repeated the Baron, a curious tone to his voice. “Very good indeed.”
Michel blinked. For a moment, he wondered at the Baron. He’d heard something new in his mentor’s voice.
It sounded an awful lot like lust.
It frightened him.
“Here we are,” whispered the Doctor, poking his head up above a pile of stone. Terri and Adam both peered over the rockfall as well to see the TARDIS, standing in the middle of the high chamber they’d materialized in not twenty hours before.
–Was it really only last night? Terri asked herself. So much had happened in between that she’d quite lost track of time. “Well,” she said. “What now?”
“We turn off our lanterns,” said the Doctor. Terri made a face at his back. She’d already switched off her battery-operated lantern.
“I mean, what’s the plan?” asked Terri.
The Doctor did not answer immediately. Adam prodded him in the shoulder. “Doctor,” he said. “Time is essential, you said.”
“I know,” replied the Time Lord. “I was trying to work out our best approach to the TARDIS.”
“I say damn the torpedos and just run for it,” said Terri.
Adam grinned at her. “What ever happened to your caution, Terri?” She stuck her tongue out at him.
“There isn’t time for this,” interrupted the Doctor. “I think it would be best if we slip quietly along the rock wall over there, under the catwalk.”
“And then what?” asked Terri.
“Then we nip into the TARDIS, pick up a few things, and go,” replied the Doctor.
“Like what?” asked Adam.
“Oh, just little things. Like the dimensional stabilizer. If my suspicions are correct, we’ll need it.”
“And if not?” asked Adam.
The Doctor grinned and replied, “Oh, I’ll think of something.” Not for the first time, Terri wondered how he kept so calm in the face of such malevolence. She felt as though she were preparing to fight off an F-14 with a bow and arrow.
“So,” she said, trying to sound bold in spite of her fears, “what does this dimensional thingumabobber look like?”
“It’s a vital component of the TARDIS,” replied the Doctor. “It’s located on the underside of the console, next to the warp ellipse cut-out.”
“Thanks,” said Terri sarcastically. “That really helps.”
“Well,” said Adam, an impatient pitch to his voice, “you can show us what it looks like when we get there.”
“Right,” said the Doctor. He rose from his crouch behind the rock pile and began picking his way towards the TARDIS. Adam followed.
“Wait for me!” called Terri. The Doctor cast her a reproachful glance and Adam gestured frantically for her to be quiet. “Oops,” she said, shrugging apologetically.
But she had no time to catch up to them.
A band of half a dozen teenage boys leapt out of hiding, ambushing Adam and the Doctor. Terri was startled to see Adam swiftly draw his sword and attempt to ward off the attackers. For one calm moment, Terri wondered where he kept the sword, since she’d never noticed it before.
“Terri!” called the Doctor, frantic.
But she was paralyzed by indecision and did not know what to do. She watched as three boys quickly overpowered the little Time Lord. “Run!” he shouted. “Save yourself!” And then one of the boys struck him on the head with a blackjack.
Terri gasped to see the Doctor fall unconscious just as easily as anyone else. She didn’t know why; she supposed that she’d expected him to be somehow stronger than an ordinary man.
Adam fared no better. Apparently, the boys had been briefed on how to take him down, because instead of trying to overpower him, they simply shot him.
“No!” cried Terri as Adam fell limply to the ground. “Bastards!”
“Who’s there?” barked one of the boys. Terri stood indecisively for a moment longer. Then, as four of the boys began trussing up the prisoners, the remaining two readied their weapons and moved quickly towards her position.
Without a second thought, Terri turned tail and fled into the dank darkness of the catacombs. Even the overpowering musk of centuries of decay did nothing to slow her flight.
“What about the woman?” asked Jacques as he peered into the darkness after Terri.
“Leave her,” replied Luc, wrapping a length of nylon rope around the Doctor’s wrists. He gestured for two of his comrades to do likewise for Adam. “These two are the only ones of consequence.”