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A Seasonal Tale

By David Ronayne
(based on an idea by Lee Middleton)

The nights were getting colder; either that or his body was wearing a bit thin. As he trudged through the snow the old man noticed a few more aches and pains, but he fully expected to get a few more years out of his body. He was first to admit that his current form was past its prime, but he had grown rather attached to it.

The snow was getting deeper around the hut; perhaps a snowplow was in order. He'd get the workers on to it tomorrow. The palm-print lock on the hut door also powered up the atomic generator in the underground hangar. He rubbed his hands together, partly because of the cold and partly in glee. Soon he'd be off again. He gave the room a few seconds to warm up before pushing the door open.

There was a man waiting for him inside. He was wearing a bowler hat, pinstripe suit and was carrying a black umbrella and briefcase, anticipating fashion by around two hundred and fifty years.

‘You took a while,’ the old man muttered, ‘I was expecting you soon after I arrived. It would have saved me a lot of time.’

The man in the business suit seemed confused by this outburst and it took him a few moments to reassert himself. ‘I have been sent by the High Council to apprehend you on charges of gross interference in the development -’

‘Oh, don't be silly. I learnt my lesson after that fiasco last time. All I'm doing now is spreading a little good. Now if you'll excuse me I have an appointment I'd like to keep.’ He made for the door but the man in the suit barred his way.

‘It's these appointments we'd like to talk to you about. Given the current population of this planet, the distances involved and the schedule you seem to have imposed upon yourself, you would have to be travelling at supersonic speeds. By the time the native inhabitants of this world will have developed that kind of technology the population increase and geographical distribution will require an average travelling velocity of...’ he paused to do a quick calculation on his fingers, ‘...around Mach 369. Do you think this kind of technological infringement is acceptable? And we are not even looking at payload considerations here. What are you using; matter compression? Trans- dimensional bubbles? We know your TARDIS hasn't been used since you escaped the ice world.’

‘Now look here, young fellow-me-trouser, I wouldn't come in here quoting the laws of time in that anachronistic suit. It's people like you that have left me stranded twice now. It's just a hobby to keep an old man sane.’

‘Old? You're not old. You're still clinging on to your first body - and I wouldn't start knocking dress-sense either.’

The older man looked offended. ‘These robes were the height of fashion on the ice world, and the colour - well, it's like the old school tie really, and heliotrope is really handy if you get lost in a blizzard.’ He glanced down at his frayed sleeves. ‘Granted it's a bit worse for wear and has faded a bit, but they can still see you a mile off out there. Anyway I can't regenerate now; it took me ages to grow this beard.’

‘You've been running this operation for how long? A couple of centuries?’

‘Something like that, and it should keep ticking over after I'm gone.’

‘I seriously doubt it. We're shutting you down completely. We're even going to rip out and replace all your underground facilities. You realise that this is one day going to be the site of a major Arctic tracking station? We may have to mind-wipe some of your accomplices, but that's really only a minor detail. Without your money-making schemes I doubt if anyone will have the capital to keep this racket going.’

The old man smiled. ‘Someone will find a way. Probably the parents. Terrans are more resourceful than most of us give them credit for.’

The ground shook as the stockpiles of paints and chemicals exploded in the buried factories. The Time Lord once known as the Monk watched sadly as the snow settled over the disturbed land. Behind the hut the hangar doors opened and his transport was led out one last time by a group of technicians.

The sleigh was pulled out to the T-Mat station. ‘It's hardly your usual form of transport,’ observed the Time Lord High Council representative.

The Monk shrugged. ‘Short hops in the Ship were becoming a bit dodgy. The old thing needs an overhaul. Anyway this has a certain something about it.’

The Time Lord councillor studied the animals pulling the sleigh. ‘Are those creatures animatronic?’

‘Of course. The real ones were rather difficult and too slow for my purposes. I could never get them to go in the right direction either.’

The ensemble went past and the Councillor frowned. ‘The lead one appears to have blown a fuse.’

The Monk frowned, looking down at the reindeer's glowing nose. ‘Yes. I always meant to fix that...’

This item appeared in TSV 46 (January 1996).

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