Seeds of Doubt

A Doctor Who fan fiction

by

Douglas Neman

I'd been there six months when he finally arrived, as I always knew he would.

It happened on a beautiful spring day. I was sitting on my front porch, resting my aching bones after the recent planting, admiring the sunshine, when that infernal machine of his appeared in the field across the road, 50 yards in front of the house.

He scowled at me every step of the way, like a school teacher sending a child to the principal's office, waving that ridiculous umbrella back and forth. His most recent companion tagged along, her backpack probably chock full of explosives, looking brave and scared at the same time.

He stomped right up to the porch, jabbed his umbrella into the ground, and snapped, "What monstrous atrocity are you up to this time?"

I sighed.

"Hello, Doctor. How has the cosmos been treating you?"

"Don't play the innocent with me. Save it for the locals. I imagine they're all under your thumb by now." Without even asking permission, he ascended the steps and looked quickly around the porch, then glanced inside the house.

"Come on. Out with it. What exactly are you doing here? If I remember our little script well enough," he sneered, "this is the part where you can't help but boast about how clever and powerful you are!"

Well, of course, I had no choice but to tell him, obviously.

"Well, I guess I was pretty clever," I said. "All of my land, as well as all of my neighbors', was going to be flooded by the new hydroelectric dam they wanted to build. We held protests and town meetings of course, but that wasn't quite good enough. So I organized a forum, wherein the electric company met with me and my neighbors, and I proposed a solution. I showed them how to construct an energy wave."

"You did what?"

"I showed them how to construct an energy wave."

"I heard you the first time! What are you doing giving that kind of technology to a grade 4 civilization? Don't you realize the consequences?" Then he paused, as if he had just heard something for the first time. "And since when did you become a farmer?"

"This is a grade 5 civilization, not a grade 4."

"Don't quibble with me!"

"An energy wave is grade 6. And as you know perfectly well, it is all right to give any civilization a piece of technology up to one grade higher, as long as proper care and instruction is offered and, if accepted, the Time Lord making the donation spends one month with the native population dutifully carrying out that instruction and guidance. Which is exactly what I did."

"Are you sure?"

"I checked with the Castellan's office myself. You may, too, if you wish."

He was silent, his eyes boring into me.

"But why?"

I sighed again. "I just told you. They wanted to build a dam and flood my land, just after I'd bought it. I couldn't let them do that. So I showed them how to send an ultra-high radio frequency through their own sun, bounce it off a satellite on the far side, and back again. The carrier wave picks up raw energy and carries it back, ten times as efficiently as direct solar heating."

"I know how it works," he scowled.

"Yes, but I was actually explaining it to your young friend, who was standing there looking confused. Anyway, they loved the idea. The first satellite is due to be launched within the year, and plans for the dam were immediately scrapped. Everyone's happy. Incredibly clever, don't you think?"

"Yes," he said quietly. "But what are you doing here?"

"Farming."

"But why?"

I gave him a suitably blank look, I can assure you. "To make things grow. That's the purpose of farming, Doctor. You put lots of seeds in the ground, you water them, you care for them, they sprout up, you walk the land, you breathe the air, and the plants are harvested for food-"

"I mean why are you, the Master, here, now, farming, instead of killing and plundering and threatening and blackmailing and grabbing for power like you have done for almost every century that I have known you?" he bellowed.

"I've retired."

"WHAT?" he shouted. His face shook and spittle flew, so worked up he was.

"I've retired."

His fists were clenched, his breathing hot and heavy. In all the years I'd wanted revenge, if I'd known my retirement would have had the effect it did, I'd have tried it long ago. However, my main concern now was his health. I was afraid the poor fellow was going to asphyxiate! I ran inside to fetch a glass of water. When I came back and offered it to him, he slapped it aside as if it were poison.

"Of all the arrogant – this time, you've gone too far! I don't know what you're doing here, but I intend to free everyone from your hypnotic spell and ensure the safety of whatever it is you're after!"

"My dear Doctor, come and sit down. Here, come on. You too, young woman." I sat them both on the porch swing and sat back in my rocker.

"Now, Doctor, time and time and time again you have both defeated me and saved my life. Never have I won the upper hand with you, and always you have given me another chance, which I always returned so very ungraciously.

"However, I have now retired. You see, I finally realized that I wasn't better than you. My constant attempts to pull the wool over your eyes was never really more than a tantrum. I now see that my behavior is rather like a young man who comes in second place in a foot race, but continues to bellyache and moan about it, even long after the lights have been turned off and the stadium is empty. So I've given up trying. You've won, and I've lost, and now, I'd like to live the rest of my days here."

"Why should I believe you?" the Doctor asked cautiously.

"Well, I suppose you really have no reason, but I would like to point out one thing."

"And what's that?"

"That after all these years of believing in my good nature, in believing in the fact that I could be rehabilitated, that I could do wonderful things, how could you so disbelieve it, now that it's actually happened?"

There was silence on the porch. The birds sang. The breeze brought in the smell of beans and primroses from over the hills.

"You're welcome to stay here, if you wish. After all you've done for me, my home is your home. I've plenty of space."

His companion's mind was boggling, I could tell. I think she wanted to crawl inside herself and die, so shocking was my revelation. The Doctor, of course, just looked thoughtful.

"Yes," he finally answered. "Yes, we could stay here. For a while. What do you say, Ace?"

I could tell she didn't like the idea one bit, but I couldn't blame her, of course. She seemed to glance at the Doctor's TARDIS across the road.

"Sure," she finally answered, a bit too brightly. "You'd probably get lost without me, Professor. Lets," she hesitated, "lets just not wander too far, shall we?"

"Excellent!" I clapped my hands together. "But you'll have to hurry up with your things. I need to show you the guest rooms and show you around the kitchen. It's my night to lead the devotional readings, and I don't want to be late. I'm afraid you'll have to have dinner without me tonight, but I'll be home around 8:30."

So I gave them a tour of the house – showing off, I must say, my wonderful taste and ingenious construction, for I did build it. I pointed out which of the two refrigerators in the kitchen was my TARDIS and which was the real refrigerator, and then I had to leave.

"Oh, something that might interest you, Doctor," I told him on the way out the door. "To do my part to protect this lovely planet which I now call home, I monitor all of local space. My long-distance scanners have picked up an advance squad of Cybermen on their way here. They'll arrive in about a week. I was trying to come up with a suitable way of handling them, and now that you're here, I'm sure they'll be no bother at all. The two of us should come up with something soon. Cheerio!"

And that, of course, is the last I saw of them.

 

The courtroom was silent. Everyone, including the judge, was leaning forward, spell-bound by the incredible story of this lovely, giving man.

"So you're saying that this Doctor fellow stole our sacred mask?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes, I'm afraid he must have," the Master answered. "He fancies himself a do-gooder, but he's no better than any common vigilante. He probably thought he was doing you a favor by stealing your holy relic. Cybermen are particularly vulnerable to gold, you see, and since your mask is the only gold on the planet, he helped himself to it. It was completely unnecessary, of course. I could have found some way of dealing with the Cybermen without the use of gold, but, ohhh," the Master gave a shiver, "when the Doctor heard the word 'Cybermen,' he must have rushed off at once, and taken your mask with him, for he and his companion were long gone when I'd returned. He'll probably return it any day, now, expecting you to treat him as a hero – if he remembers at all."

"If he remembers?" the judge was aghast.

"Oh, yes, quite. The Doctor often forgets things. His hearts are in the right place, but the mask is nothing to him, and he could just as easily toss it aside, let it collect dust in some cupboard, or even wear it to some silly fancy-dress ball..."

Everyone in the courtroom began talking and moaning, openly shocked and ill, some of them crying and leaving, unable to hear any more of what might happen to their supreme holy symbol.

The judge nodded to the bailiff, who solemnly swung a heavy hammer and struck a brass gong. The deep, metallic bonnng rolled around the room, restoring order.

"Counsel," the judge was shaking, "I want you to issue an immediate warrant for the Doctor's arrest. He and his companion are to be arrested on sight, using whatever force is necessary. Every available man is to look out for his strange blue box."

"I will be happy to provide you with photographs," the Master chimed in.

The judge nodded his thanks. "And release the Master. My dear sir –" he climbed down from his bench, hands outstretched, "– how could we have ever suspected you of any such thievery. Please accept my humblest apologies." He bowed low.

"Your apologies are most gratefully accepted, magistrate. I perfectly understand your fears and worries, knowing, as you do, that the mask is rumored to hold an ancient power within it. Who knows what might happen if it were to fall into the wrong hands?"

"Whether or not the old legends are true, it is still our most valuable treasure – a mask shaped from the face of Anderon, the God of Fire and Time himself. We must get it back. Oh, you will help us, won't you?"

"Of course," the Master bowed. "Rest easily, Magistrate. For all intents and purposes, the mask is already back where it well and truly belongs."

The judge clapped his hands together. "Oh, that is wonderful news!"

"Yes," the Master grinned knowingly. "Isn't it?"

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