BLAST FROM THE PAST|
Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the Beeb, all I have is my Microsoft Word and an overactive imagination...
It was her first official visit to the Brigadier’s office since she’d joined, a month before. She thought she was doing well, but none of the other new recruits had been singled out for this sort of attention. It made her nervous.
Martha looked at the Brigadier’s aide, who gave her the nod, and she knocked.
She poked her head through the door, the rest of her following, as she noticed the Brigadier standing in front of an open fireplace, a log fire crackling merrily in its hearth. He looked up as she came in.
“Well, don’t just stand there, letting the heat out, Doctor Jones. Close the door behind you and take a seat.” He said, waving at an easy chair.
“Yes, sir.” She crossed the room.
He examined her from the corner of his eye as he ostensibly looked into the fireplace. “There’s no need to call me Sir, young woman, it’s not as if you’re in the military, after all. The name is Alistair, most people find my surname a bit of a mouthful…or, of course, you can always call me the Brig, that Doctor of yours seemed to take a delight in the name.”
Martha smiled at that. “The Brig,” she said, thinking that it suited him better than his real name. Some people seemed to be born military officers.
“You too, eh? he said, a glimmer of humour in his eyes. “Well, I just called you in to check on how you’re doing.”
“Fine, I think, Si-Brig,” she corrected herself. “The medical files UNIT have collated, over the decades, are amazing.”
“And you’ve already added to them, I hear,” he said. “I especially liked your file on the Chantho, fascinating stuff…” He looked around him. “Wait a minute…ahhh!” he sat into another easy chair with a sigh of relief. “I’m not as young as I was. Doctor Jones," he admitted softly. “Truth is, I was enjoying my retirement… but that’s the way life goes, I suppose.”
Martha nodded; the files she’d read, since she’d come to the base, had added considerably to what Jack had told her about the Brigadier, A smart cookie didn’t even seem to start covering it.
The Brigadier eyed her, his eyes sharpening. “Settling in okay?” he asked. “Not having any problems with the military or civilian personnel?”
“No Brig,” she said, with a small smile. “They’ve been amazing, to tell the truth.”
“Good, good,” he said. “It’s still a bit strange having so many civilians on the base, but we’re getting used to it. Have to work with what you’ve got, and all that, eh?”
“Si-Brig?” Martha said, as she suddenly got the feeling that this conversation wasn’t just about touching base.
“We’ve got a few irons in fire, Doctor, and you may be the person we need to snatch one of them out of the coals. Not all of UNIT’s missions can be solved with a gun, you know.” He snorted suddenly, with a laugh. “And the Doctor would have been most amused to hear me admit that,” he said. “Wisdom of age, I suppose.”
“You’ve got a mission for me?” Martha said, leaning forward in the chair, delighted. “What is it? Something new?”
The Brigadier laughed. “Eager, aren’t you?” he said rhetorically. “You kind of remind me of someone I once knew—”
“I just want one moment, I won’t be long!”
The Brigadiers eyebrows shot up as he stared at the door. “What the devil?”
“But Miss, you can’t go in there!”
“Just watch me!”
The Brigadier snorted out a laugh. “Speak of it, and it shall appear!” He chuckled as the door swung open.
The Brigadier’s aide had his hand extended across the doorway, a harried expression on his face. “I said you were busy, Sir, but she wasn’t having any of it,” he said, his eyes pleading.
A head, and a pair of eyes, peeked over his shoulder. “Brig, are you in there?” a feminine, yet strident, voice asked. “Go on, then, invite me in!”
The Brigadier sighed the sigh of the long suffering. “Let her in, Jameson,” he said. “She’s not going to give you any peace until you do.”
The aide moved out of the way, with great alacrity, and Martha got a good look at the gatecrasher as she sauntered into the room. A well-dressed and attractive brunette, somewhere in her forties… she didn’t seem the type to be barging into top-secret installations. “Hello there,” the newcomer said brightly, homing in on Martha. “You must be Martha Jones.”
“Uh, yeah,” Martha said, with a half smile. “I’m sorry, should I know you?”
The intruder laughed. “Probably not,” she said. “The Doctor doesn’t really like talking about his past companions, does he?”
“Past Companion?” Martha echoed, not sure if she’d heard her correctly.
“Didn’t the Brig tell you? Me and the Doctor used to bang around this place all the time, in the old days… Sarah Jane Smith, by the way, she added, with a grin. “Come on, I want you to take a look at something.”
The Brigadier sighed. “You really have to stop pulling this sort of stunt, Sarah Jane,” he said. “We’re both getting too old for it.”
“Oh, be quiet, you old fart,” she chided. “We’re not in our graves yet.” She paused. “In fact, I think you should have a look at this too – K-9!”
“Of course,” the Brigadier muttered under his breath, as a low whirr came from the outer office. “That’s how she got in, she brought the bloody dog.”
“The dog?” Martha echoed, as the metallic object rolled through the door. She let out a small bark of laughter. “Is that what I think it is?”
Sarah Jane grinned at her reaction. “K-9, this is Martha, Martha, K-9!” she said. “Show them what you have, K-9.”
A small compartment opened on the robot’s back, and a slim, metallic, cylindrical object appeared on the end of a pair of pinchers. Martha felt the blood drain from her face.
“My God, where did you find it?” she asked
“Sarah Jane gave her a piercing look. “You recognise it?” she asked. “It was found off the coast of Norway, apparently. A contact sent it to me in the mail. Kind of looks like the Doctor’s, doesn’t it? Except it isn’t, of course. I tried to get it to work, but no joy. K-9 said it has some kind of genetic passkey attached to it?”
Martha took a step forward, and leaned down. “May I?” she asked. Sarah Jane nodded, and the pinchers opened, letting the object fall into Martha’s hand.
Martha looked at it, her mind a thousand miles away, and in a year that never was; she shivered. “This is too dangerous to have lying about,” she said lowly. “The damage it could do in the wrong hands…”
Sarah Jane took a step forward. “Martha?” she asked. “What’s wrong? What is it?”
“It’s the Master’s,” she said, “And it’s not sonic, it’s laser… don’t ask me the difference, I never quite figured it out.”
“Oh!” Sarah Jane’s eyes grew round. “Oh, I say, it doesn’t shrink people does it?” Martha looked at her, not sure if she was serious or joking, and the Brigadier chuckled.
“Forty odd years later, and I’m still having these conversations,” he said, shaking his head.
Martha recovered. “I’ve never saw the Master shrink someone with it…at least, not in a ‘honey, I shrunk the kids’ kinda way,” she admitted. “But I did see him manipulate a person’s DNA with it, and age them, making them a shrunken shadow of their former selves, and sticking them in a cage,” She shuddered involuntarily. “I’ve also seen him use it to murder in cold blood - and turn the sound system on, weirdly enough.”
“Oh, they all do that,” Sarah Jane said dismissively. “Warms up the teapot a treat, too.”
The Brigadier snorted as the two women laughed, both knowing what the other was thinking.
“Those bloody tea leaves,” Martha said eventually, as she caught her breath. “Why can’t he use tea bags, like everybody else?”
“You think that’s bad, have you seen him eat crackers?” Sarah Jane asked. “With his butter knife, and his cheese knife, and woe betide you if you use the wrong one?”
“I’ve one better,” Martha declared. “I’ve seen him make a cuppa - with a bag on a string!” The two looked at each other, then burst out laughing again.
“Mariettas,” Sarah Jane gasped out.
“Ginger nuts,” Martha countered.
“More like completely insane,” the Brig muttered.
The two women ignored him as they giggled. “You know, you may think this strange,” panted Sarah Jane. “But, sometimes, I think he still raids my biscuit tin, when I’m not around. Just pops in, like, as if I’m the corner shop, and my kitchen is the biscuit aisle.
Martha squealed with laughter, leaning into Sarah Jane for support. “That’s… because…” she wheezed out eventually. “He does!”
The two collapsed into another fit of mirth, and the Brig threw a look at the heavens. “Are you two quite finished now?”
Sarah Jane wiped the tears from her eyes. “Yes, yes, we're finished… besides, it's nothing that a cup of tea won’t solve!”
It was enough to set Martha off again, which, of course, set Sarah Jane off, and the Brigadier muttered something under his breath about ‘the Doctor’s damned women’ as he strode to the door, and whipped it open. His aide, who’d had his ear pressed to the door, fell into the room.
“Sir!” he said, scrabbling to his feet.
The Brigadier eyed him coldly “Tea!” he roared, “Get it, now!”
“You heard me, man…and don’t let me catch you doing that, again!”
“Sir, yes, Sir!” he said, backing away.
The Brigadier’s voice caught him, just as he made it to the outer door. “Oh…and Jameson?”
“See if you can scrounge up some cheese and crackers, I’m feeling a little peckish, all of a sudden.”
His face grim, the Brigadier turned to look at the two women; but a glint of humour in his eyes gave the game away. “You two finished?”
“Yes, we’re done,” Sarah Jane said, as she slowly sobered
“Right then, this laser screwdriver thing, what do we do with it?” The Brigadier peered at the object in Martha’s hand. “Perhaps we could give it to the physics department, let them have a bash at reverse engineering—”
“No!” Martha said.
The Brigadier raised an eyebrow at the sharpness of her tone. “Why not? Something like that might come in handy, you know.”
“It’s just not a… good idea,” Martha said. “The Master put a lot of information into it, things left well enough alone. It definitely could do more harm than good…trust me on this.”
Sarah Jane gave Martha a piercing look. “There’s more to the story, isn’t there?” she said. “I saw what happened on TV; the Master proclaiming his name, killing the president, those things appearing…?”
“The Toclafane,” Martha said softly. “They were called the Toclafane.”
“What were they, exactly?”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
Silence fell in the room, as the three looked at each other.
“Some things don’t change,” Sarah Jane murmured.
“It seems not,” the Brigadier sighed.
“I’ll give it to the Doctor,” Martha decided.
“You have a way of contacting him?” Sarah Jane asked, her voice deceptively casual.
A ghost of a smile crept back onto Martha’s face. “I have something even better,” she said.
Sarah Jane folded her arms, and gave her a mock glare. “Oh yes? And what is that, do tell?”
“A cookie jar.”
“Oh good grief,” the Brigadier muttered, as the two fell into another fit of giggles. "As if one wasn't bad enough.”
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