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This was written for the Doctor Who Choose your own Companion ficathon, with Dr. #4 (Tom Baker) intersecting with Kerr Avon and Del Tarrant of Blake's 7.


"Why were you so long, Blake!" Orac grumbled as a large pair of hands lifted him out of the hollow log where Avon had placed him for safe-keeping.

"Don't be such a fuss-pot, Orac. I had to turn down an invitation to tea with the President. Mind you, the troopers didn't have the proper name on my invitation. Roj Blake, now, do I look like a 'Roj'? Reginald perhaps. Or Raghnall, now there's a name with dignity. I knew a Raghnall once, nice chap, liked to have his tentacles braided on special occasions. Good chess player, too."

Orac sputtered, as much as a computer can. "This is unacceptable! You are not Blake, but you must be Blake; my predictions are never wrong!"

"Oh, what's in a name? A rebel by any other name would shoot as sweet." The man picked up the computer with a grunt. "You're putting on weight, aren't you? What has Avon been doing with you?"

"Nothing! Avon has been unappreciative of my abilities! That is why..."

"Why what?" At the computer's silence, the man put it down on a stump. "I didn't have much use for you earlier, Orac, and I have even less now. You'd look quite decorative sunken in a little pond I passed on my way here- not as good as a ceramic castle, but I expect the fish haven't my high standards."

"Who are you?"

"Just call me The Doctor. Now finish your statement, Orac. Why...?"

Orac whimpered. "If you aren't Blake, then all my calculations are in error. I cannot understand it. I followed Blake's line through the pattern of infinity."

The Doctor laughed. "You didn't follow it in the right direction, or you'd know Blake was a botched partial regeneration of me. All things considered, I didn't do too badly as him, but this whole business with the Federation... far too many guns and entirely too much blasting hapless troopers. I know that's what they're for, but it still seems wasteful. Some of them might have made perfectly good... oh, I don't know, haberdashers. Travis positively had a flair for it, you could tell."

Orac's whine rose. "This does not compute."

"Now don't start feeling sorry for yourself." The Doctor patted the computer. "How about this: I'm a shape-changing friendly alien who was Blake for a while. There was this unfortunate incident with a time-loop in Trafalgar Square, you see -- no, I think I'd better not explain any further. It gets far too complicated for a mere computer."

"Mere computer!"

"Yes, well, I'm sure you're very handy with sums, old thing. It'd be far too much to expect you to understand even human motivations and behaviour, let alone mine."

"There is no limit to my capabilities! I know exactly how to produce any desired human behaviour!"

"Aha! So you were behind this mess, weren't you? Orac, I really do think it is time you told me everything. It's not at all pleasant waking up in a ditch full of dead rebels. It puts me entirely out of sorts."

"Very well. Avon's behaviour was increasingly erratic and self-destructive. In itself, this constituted no difficulty for me, but when he entertained the notion of trading me to Egrorian for a patently fraudulent Tachyon Funnel, I was forced to take steps."

"Steps, Orac?"

Once started, Orac was obviously enjoying the opportunity to display its cleverness, and wasn't deterred by the cold tone of the Doctor's voice. "I accelerated Avon's disintegration so the group would focus on him instead of self-preservation. The first step was to advise him to sacrifice Vila's life to save his own." Orac's tone was petulant. "Avon was very slow to obey, and made altogether too much noise."

"He didn't kill Vila. Vila was here; I saw him."

"At very nearly the last moment, Avon managed to save them both despite my omitting to tell him where the automated loader had left the weight overloading the shuttle. That was a temporary set-back. However, Vila had also been under prolonged stress, and made it clear to Avon that he neither trusted nor liked him as a result of Avon's attempt on his life."

"Go on," the Doctor said grimly.

"Lacking the support of the last person Avon felt was his friend, he was easily goaded into attempting an alliance with various planetary leaders, including Zukan."

"Zukan? The man's a greedy, fanatical, dictator! Avon couldn't have thought he'd honour an alliance!"

"Normally, no, but in his current mental condition, he grasped at the slimmest of possibilities," Orac gloated. "He wanted to impress Blake. Naturally, Zukan betrayed him, destroyed his base, and attempted to kill all of Avon's associates. Avon saved them once again. He shouldn't have been able to think that clearly. Still, it merely delayed matters. Beaten utterly, he leaped at the chance to rejoin Blake, looking for one last thread of trust linking him to sanity." Orac chuckled nastily. "And Blake's bounty hunter routine made the ending inevitable."

The Doctor picked Orac up again and began walking. "All right, Orac, you're so clever, now tell me what happens next?"

"If you actually are Blake, you will have experienced enough to be pragmatic. You will take me with you and, will, with my guidance, take over control of the Federation. You will be able to remould human society to whatever form you wish. If you are not Blake, you will accept my assistance to make yourself the ruler of the Federation for your own gain."

"Hmmm... well, maybe, Orac. Tell me, just to satisfy my curiosity, are you sure I won't have to worry about Avon or any of his people?"

"No, I watched the surveillance video quite closely. Avon and Tarrant were the only survivors. Servalan gave orders that their physical conditions were to be stabilized and then they were to be taken to Earth to be made into mutoids. They are in the infirmary in Blake's base, under sedation and heavy guard. All the others with bounties on their heads were identified and flash-cremated. Lesser rebels were deposited in an open pit as a mass grave; presumably you were among them."

"Yes. Yes I was." The Doctor stopped and looked thoughtfully ahead of him. "Do you know, Orac, I think there's a slight flaw in your plans."

"I do not make errors unless the supplied data are false. What fact can you offer in rebuttal?"

The Doctor gave a great heave and flung the computer into a green, scum-covered pond. Frogs fled, complaining, as it sank. "I don't want control of the Federation."

*******



The trooper guarding the outer door of Blake's base was bored. The most activity he'd seen so far was a pinecone dropping out of a tree. He stood up straight when something small and round flew through the air just in front of his helmet and then whizzed back around the corner. If it was a bird, it was a strange one. He glanced around the corner at a big man with a manic grin and equally crazy mane of curly hair, who was playing with a yo-yo. "I call this one 'the sleeper'," the maniac said. The yo-yo smacked into the back of the trooper's neck and he collapsed.

"Hmm... not very tall. The human species has gone downhill lately. It's all those suppressants. No vitamins in them. Let that be a lesson to you." The Doctor dragged the trooper off to one side, and began stripping the clothes off him.

*******



Wearing an ill-fitting trooper uniform the Doctor entered the medical unit where Avon and Tarrant lay. The four on duty stiffened to attention, then relaxed when they saw it was merely another trooper. He waved to them and held out a crumpled white paper bag. "Here, you ought to try these! They're good!" He up-ended the bag onto a table, pouring out a pile of brightly coloured sweets.

After a quick check for officers the four troopers took off their helmets and gathered around the table. "Aren't you going to have some?"

"Oh, I already did. I wonder what this does?" The Doctor disconnected a tube running from a tank to a face-mask Avon was wearing. He aimed it at the other troopers.

"That's concentrated sono-vapour!" The four troopers collapsed.

"Yes, I thought it might be." The Doctor shut off the vapour, took off his helmet, sniffed and wrinkled his nose. "It'll never replace Chanel Number Five." He quickly stripped all the medical equipment from Avon and Tarrant and then frowned. "I'm going to look rather silly walking through this base with a rebel under each arm. I do wish I knew where the TARDIS had... ah!" He whacked the side of his head. "That's better. I just needed a little neural realignment. I'll be right back," he told the unconscious men. "Now, nobody move."

*******



A curly head peered around a corner into the tracking gallery. No one was in sight. The Doctor tip-toed in his borrowed trooper black across the gallery, grimacing as he passed patches of drying blood. "Now, let's see, 'eeny, meeny, miney, mo, catch a Dalek by the toe, if he hollers 'exterminate', then you'd better go...' Ah!" Tucked in a corner between two tilted orange support pillars was a tall blue box. "My faithful old girl. Key, key, where's the key..." He felt in all his pockets, then sighed and opened the telephone box set in the door. "I do hope the emergency key is still here. Oh, good." He picked up a small key and opened the door. He looked around with satisfaction.

Going inside to a room much larger than the exterior of the box he went to a hexagonal console centring on a cylinder and patted the console. "Poor old girl, waiting years and years for me to remember where I left you. I knew there was a reason I felt I needed to make a base here. The Federation could take the man out of the TARDIS, but not the TARDIS out of the man. Or vice-versa." He got on his back on the floor beneath it, opening a panel and burrowing in up to his shoulders. "Just this once, I think we'll do without the randomizer, shan't we? The Blake Guardian... oh, classical Freudian slip there--- but I don't recall Freud wearing a slip, he was more the garters and braces type-- at any rate, the Black Guardian isn't likely to notice one tiny little trip of a few hundred yards. I don't think so. Not very likely." He hesitated, then fiddled a bit more with a sonic screwdriver. "Things would be terribly boring if I never took a chance. There we go." He put the panel back, got up and touched the controls. Nothing happened.

"What's the matter, old girl?" He went back under the panel and fiddled again. He tried the controls. Nothing. He stared at it and frowned. Then he kicked the panel. The central column began rising and falling, while a wheezing noise rose and fell with it. He beamed. "I knew you could do it."

The blue box materialized noisily into existence in the medical unit. The man who stepped out still had curly hair and slightly manic eyes, but was now dressed in a long coat which appeared to be mainly fawn-coloured; it was difficult to be certain as most of it was covered by a wide, multi-striped knitted scarf that went around the Doctor's neck several times and still had enough left over for both ends to reach the floor. "Shh," he said, putting a finger to his own mouth, as he stepped over the sleeping guards to carry first Avon and then Tarrant into the blue box.

One of the guards lifted his head groggily as the box began to groan and fade. After a few seconds it solidified again, and the man with the ridiculous scarf rushed out, ran over to the table, scooped the sweets back into the bag and returned to the box with the bag. This time the blue box vanished completely.

*******



Avon opened his eyes and blinked. He was lying on an old-fashioned narrow bed in a even more old-fashioned infirmary. On a similar bed next to his was Tarrant, unconscious, but not restrained or hooked up to any equipment.

"Have a jelly baby, Avon." Avon's head snapped around. The Doctor held out a small white paper package. It had blood on it. Avon backed away until he was pressed up against the wall at the head of the bed. "Where's Blake?"

The Doctor threw his arms wide, and his grin even wider. "Don't you recognize me? I know I've changed, but not that much, this time." He tugged on a curl. The Doctor let out a sigh and dropped his arms to his sides. "You didn't have to shoot me, you know. That really hurt my feelings. I thought we were friends."

Avon shook his head, but it was difficult to tell if he was denying friendship or merely too confused to respond.

"Well, I suppose it was all for the best. The shock of regeneration cleared out all the rubbish the Federation put in my mind." He leaned close. "I was Blake. Well, no, but he was me. Part of me. It's a long story, very long, and very boring except for some parts that were far too exciting."

Avon continued to stare. The Doctor patted Avon on the arm. "I'm not human."

Avon suddenly bared his teeth. "You're an Andromedan invader!"

"No, no, no! Why is that humans are so xenophobic! Just because we're alien to you, doesn't mean we're ravening blobs out to conquer the galaxy!" The Doctor tilted his head a moment in thought. "At least most of us aren't." He thought again. "Some of us aren't."

"If you're an alien, then why did you rescue me and Tarrant?"

"Why? Why, you ask? It's a good question. Let's see, how about this: it's the sort of thing I do."

"It's the sort of thing Blake would do."

"I expect he picked up some of my traits." The Doctor grinned suddenly, brightly. "I do have an affinity for trouble. I find it positively everywhen."

"Everywhere."

"I said what I meant. I'm a doctor of... chronology, I suppose you would call it."

"You make clocks?"

"I'm not an horologist! I don't deal in mechanisms, but in time itself! My ship..." He paused to touch the wall. "Moves through both time and space. Forwards, backwards, and not infrequently, sideways."

At a groan from the other bed, Avon turned his head. Tarrant was awakening, but his eyes were still clouded and confused. He looked at the man in the scarf. "Who are you?"

"Just call me Doctor, everyone does."

Tarrant turned away from the Doctor as if he hadn't seen him. "Avon. I tried. But they died. Before I passed out, I saw, I saw..." His eyes went to Avon's, bleak and empty. "I'm sorry."

"Why? You didn't kill them," Avon answered softly.

"I'm just... sorry. What do we do now?" He sounded suddenly old and confused.

"You can come with me," the Doctor said.

"Do you need a pilot?" Tarrant looked suddenly hopeful.

"Ah, no, I'm afraid not. I'm the TARDIS's pilot, in as much as she'll let anyone pilot her."

Tarrant looked at Avon again, and then lay flat, gazing at the ceiling. "Drop me off somewhere. I don't care where. Everyone's dead."

"I could take you to Earth. Before the Federation," the Doctor said gently.

Tarrant closed his eyes. "Yes, of course you can."


*******



"Are you sure this is Earth?" Avon looked out suspiciously at the countryside. The last three 'planetfalls' they'd tried, they'd been attacked by bull-headed men, spectral albino eagles, and an obelisk 'with delusions of grandeur,' as the Doctor put it. Avon's faith in his ability to navigate was well into the negative values.

"Of course it's Earth! England in springtime! Before the Federation. Just as I promised!" The Doctor opened the door.

Avon and Tarrant exchanged glances. "It's your turn," Avon said, goading in an effort to get some response from Tarrant. He'd been increasingly morose on each planetfall where the technology was invariably beyond him, the aliens uniformly unfriendly and the doctor's methods of handling conflicts frustratingly bizarre by his standards. He complained that neither Avon nor the Doctor needed him. When he'd tried to fly the Obelisk's ship, he'd had an attack of the shakes, and then nightmares about crashing the Scorpio, and seeing everyone die on the flight deck, all looking at him, and blaming him. Not that he'd told them, but it was quite clear from the shouting what the dreams had been.

Tarrant told them he wanted to go 'home' to Earth. More than that, he wanted to go to an Earth where everything was simple, and clear-cut, where black and white were the only options, and you didn't have to debate over each action and worry that perhaps the enemy had a right to his point of view, the way the Doctor thought.

"No, it's not." Tarrant moved forward despite his protest, as uncaring as he'd been since awakening in the TARDIS, and suddenly disappeared from view with a yelp. There was a distant splash. Avon clung to the door and looked down at Tarrant bobbing in a pool of blue water, angrily yanking wet clothes off.

The Doctor looked down. "Oops. Slight spatial error there."

"Yes, two meters above the middle of a lake, that's a slight error. Ten meters above a volcano, that was a large error."

"You're never going to let me forget that, are you?"

"No."

The Doctor went over to the console and made a few corrections. The TARDIS made a very brief journey, moving only in space. Avon opened the door and checked that they were on dry land. He stepped out and discovered the Tardis was well concealed under the canopy of a massive oak. He grinned as Tarrant waded ashore fifty yards away, sopping wet, stark naked and spitting mad.

Avon was about to call out to Tarrant when a party on horseback thundered up. The horses were huge, and the men were in armour, with swords and spears draped from the horses' harness. Avon ducked back into the TARDIS.

"Give me a gun."

"Is shooting people your answer to everything? It's a very bad habit; you really ought to try to break it." The Doctor went past Avon, who scowled and followed him.

The horsemen stared at Tarrant, who stood to his full height and stared back. "Sir Knight," the lead horseman said in a ringing tone, "are you in difficulties?" He took off his helmet, revealing a face creased with both laugh-lines and the marks of care, and wiped his blonde hair back from his forehead.

Tarrant looked at them for a long moment. "Indeed, I am. I do not know my name or where I came from. But I feel that I belong here."

The blond man studied Tarrant, then smiled. "Then I shall give you a name. As king, I believe I am entitled to that. You came from the lake...and..." He looked Tarrant over from head to heel and grinned. "You are as long as a lance. Lancelot. Lancelot du Lac. Come and ride with us."

A squire produced clothes from a pack. A few minutes later, Avon and the Doctor watched as Tarrant rode off with the king and his men. The Doctor had a peculiar expression on his face. He said softly, "A most parfait, gentle knight." Then he sighed, shook his head and turned back towards the TARDIS. "Coming, Avon?"

Avon hastened to follow. "What was that you were telling me about a planet of gold?"

The door shut behind Avon and the TARDIS disappeared.



*(The title is a Japanese Proverb)

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