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Published on March 24th, 2007 | by Christian Cawley

Master of Survival

“The Time Lords of Gallifrey” series continues with a look at one of the most notorious names in the annals of Gallifrey…

Time Lord history is littered with renegades, outcasts of society whose contribution to the annals of Universe’s oldest civilization was to embarrass, to challenge and to attempt to overthrow. None of these individuals were as notorious as the Master.

Little is known of the Master’s early life. It is known that he and the Doctor were once friends, and although there have been rumours of a family tie between them, this has never been established. It is also strongly rumoured that the Master was earlier known as Koschei, and later by his title the Magistrate, and was just another Time Lord until events conspired against him, leaving him trapped in a black hole until he was able to escape at the cost of his remaining regenerations.

Believing the Master dead for many years, the Time Lords eventually discovered that he was still alive, and planning revenge against his former friend the Doctor; an amusing diversion for the urbane sociopath while he completed his main ambition – the reshaping of all matter, all of creation, to his plan.

Almost permanently equipped with a Tissue Compression Eliminator – used to mortally shrink the target and thus banned by most universal conventions – and his intense mental strength (handy for hypnotizing lesser forms) probably developed during his time in the black hole, the Master and the Doctor would lock horns on countless occasions both on Earth, Gallifrey, and in deep space.

While on Earth, the Doctor was able to provide resistance to the Master’s malevolent machinations with the assistance of his friends at UNIT, and some assistance from the Time Lords of Gallifrey. The Master and the Doctor were for a time evenly matched, as contemporaries they were similarly educated and similarly ingenious.

A case in point would be the resourcefulness displayed by the Master while imprisoned at sea following his attempts to summon the Daemon Azal. Trapped on a sea fort with UNIT-trained personnel equipped with knowledge of psychic training to avoid hypnosis, the Master nevertheless managed to affect an escape, utilizing the hitherto unknown Earth sea reptiles as an army, thus restoring him again to a position of strength.

Following several events which involved the Master locating and utilizing an alien race or alien technology hidden on Earth, a key alliance with the Daleks to ferment war against the Humans and Draconians in the 25th century would lead to his ultimate destruction. The plot was exposed by the Doctor, thus restoring the powerful alliance between the Humans and Draconians and preventing the planned Dalek conquest of our galaxy. Sensing betrayal, however, the Daleks made the Master top of their “Most Wanted” list, and as a result the Master vanished…

Former Celestial Intervention Agency member Chancellor Goth had aspirations to stand for president of the High Council of Time Lords at the time of the only recorded assassination of a Time Lord council member in history. While initially framing the Doctor for this heinous crime, it transpired that Goth – who had some years earlier voted to banish the Doctor to Earth – was in league with the Master…

Now a tragic, pitiful figure, devoid of his legendary charm and sophistication, the Master was emaciated, almost crippled, shrouded in a hood that was as decayed as he was. It has been rumoured that the Master was taken by surprise following an attempted kidnap of the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan; it seems more likely however that the Master was simply holding on to life for as long as possible, his artron energy sustaining him in the absence of regenerations until a new body was available. With designs on the Eye of Harmony – the sacred Time Lord power source – the Master was intent on reclaiming his former glory, and disposing of the Doctor at the same time.

Encountering the Doctor many years later, it was now apparent that the Master had finally taken leave of his senses. His ultimately successful attempt to pervert the ancient energy of the Traken Union – the Source – resulted in his acquiring a new body. His subsequent meddling on the planet Logopolis lead to the destruction of a sizeable portion of the universe, including Traken. With the Doctor’s intervention, the Master was prevented from holding the universe to ransom with imminent heat decay – but he was yet to be beaten.

Displaying a flagrant disregard for his own safety in a universe that was witness to a growing Dalek present, the Master continued with his insane plot to destroy the Doctor at the cost of all else. Creating Castrovalva, a seemingly tranquil retreat that was in fact an elaborate space-time trap, the Master intended to trap the newly regenerated Doctor and companions yet his prey escaped at the last minute, leaving the Master stranded.

This was the first of several occasions in which the Master escaped from almost certain death. Later escapes would include Earth’s prehistoric era, the Middle Ages and the numismaton flame on Sarn, at the mercy of a rapidly growing tyrannosaurous rex in the Rani’s TARDIS, frozen by a limbo atrophier in his own TARDIS and escaping from the immediately imminent destruction of the planet of the Cheetah People.

Yet these were small fry compared to the Master’s final galactic Houdini routine. As hostilities between the Time Lords and Daleks began to reach cataclysmic proportions, the Master was handed over to them to buy time for the Time Lords and pay for his earlier transgression against the Daleks. Requesting that the Doctor collect his remains, the Master was revealed to have survived destruction by the Daleks, existing as a morphant creature. Taking another innocent body, the Master planned to take the Doctor’s remaining regenerations, but instead found himself lost in the vortex, falling through the Doctor’s TARDIS’ link to Eye of Harmony.

Which brings us to the case of survival once more; rumours abound that the Master is alive, having somehow survived the Time War. Truth, or tittle-tattle, one thing is certain – as the ultimate survivor, one day the Master will return.

Image by Vendetta

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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