Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 4,164
Author's Summary: The Master is to be executed. His last wish: to see the Doctor. His plan: to change places. And so the Doctor finds himself being taken for execution while the Master has the key to the TARDIS. As for Captain Smaarg, he's too concerned with paperwork. And Peri? She suspects nothing.
Characters/Pairings: The Doctor (5th), Peri, the Master
Recced because: As I was observing the other day, I find something very pleasing about Doctor Who stories told from the point of view of the hapless or oblivious characters who have fleeting contacts with the Doctor and his companions in the course of their activities, and this is in part one of those. It also reflects the way in which the best things about many official Who stories are their weird and wonderful supporting characters, even if the main supporting character in this case is one of the author's creation. As I've reflected before, there is a school of thought that frowns upon fanfic which focuses on OCs, but I personally have no problem with it, and when these characters are as engaging and well-drawn as they are here, they can actually be one of the real pleasures to be had in reading fic.
The author's summary above pretty much covers the plot of this fic, but the plot here is secondary to the aim of telling a very mid-80s Who story, for the most part from the perspective of the officious, bureaucracy-loving, mammalophobic alien official Captain Smaarg, who really can't be bothered with these Time Lords and humans messing up his paperwork with their adventures. When I say mid-80s, I mean the way in which this fic captures so well various features of that era, such as the Fifth Doctor's quiet exasperation with the universe, the Master's sheer dastardliness and Peri's attempts at diplomacy. You can vividly picture the wonky, overlit corridors the story almost certainly takes place within, and the characters' costumes recycled from old Baker-era stories, and I mean that as a heartfelt compliment to the author.
Smaarg himself is a delight to behold, a sort of reptilian Gordon Brittas, but without the unconquerable optimism or, frankly, the essentially good intentions. Nevertheless, for all of his lack of imagination and petty-minded pedantry, he is portrayed as somebody who genuinely does love his job and think that it is vital to the perpetuation of the greater good, while remaining blithely unaware up to now of the unpopularity his pettifogging has given rise to among his colleagues and, indeed, everybody else he encounters. It's quite an achievement on the part of the author to make this character essentially sympathetic, helping the Doctor save the day at least as much as he hinders him. The fact that the story is also at several points genuinely laugh out loud funny certainly helps.
So go and check it out. I hope you'll like it as much as I did.
“Well, I guess the Master got more than he bargained for when he tried to steal your molecule bomb. Now he’s to be dissolved in acid?”
“Correct,” hissed Smaarg. “It is merciful. And we have granted him his last request, to see your husband.”
“The Doctor’s not my husband,” said Peri. “We just kinda... travel together.”
Smaarg’s nostrils flared with shock. Not married? And travelling together, unchaperoned? He could not stifle a disapproving growl, but did his best to convert it into a tickly cough.
Aliens had such appalling ways, mammals particularly so. However, he perked up as he spent the next thirty minutes boring his guest with statistics about the flow of water needed to heat the complex and various other technicalities. He then sought to impress her for another fifteen minutes with the system he had devised for easy data retrieval from the different departmental indexes. All too soon it was lunchtime; so he thought he had better invite her to join him for a cage of live rats (today’s speciality). But just in time he realised that rats were mammals and quickly changed the subject.