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|The Word of Asiries|
|Main setting:||Unnamed planet|
|Printed in:||Doctor Who Annual 1968|
|Doctor Who annual|
|The Tests of Trefus||Only a Matter of Time|
The Doctor arrives on a planet where it is raining hard. He ventures out into the muck and discovers a couple of hooded figures, who mysteriously say they've been waiting for him. They've mistaken him for Asiries, the representative of the Raymah, the galactic leader. They explain that they are to take him immediately to Qar, the planetary leader. On the trip to the capitol, the Doctor and his party encounter some Tryods, a species of vaguely lupine animals. His travelling companions have little regard for the sanctity of Tryod life, but the Doctor notes some kind of sapience when he watches the way two of them battle each other.
Arriving at the capitol, the Doctor is brought before Qar. She demands that "Asiries" tells her the Raymah's ruling: do they have permission to begin the massacre against the Tryods? It seems that the Tryods are living on extremely valuable land where valuable minerals can be easily extracted. The Doctor tries to give the false answer that the Raymah disapproves of this plan, but word comes through that Asiries has arrived. Naturally, this exposes the Doctor as a fraud, but Qar seems lenient in her punishment. She simply orders he be taken back to the TARDIS and exiled.
The trip back to the Doctor's time ship is more eventful than Qar had implied, however. His escort stops before reaching the TARDIS and adheres him to a cave wall where the Tryods are known to feed. The Doctor is then abandoned, apparently to die. The real Asiries, however, is nearby. He finds the Doctor and sets him free. However the Doctor is his prisoner, because the Raymah has actually agreed with Qar - the massacre of Tryods is to proceed. While they are discussing these matters, Asiries accidentally falls into a spot of bother and requires rescue from the Tryods. The Doctor saves his life. Out of gratitude, he listens to the Doctor's reasons for not exterminating the Tryods. Asiries promises to put Qar's plans on hold while he returns to the Raymah to argue for a modification of his order. He takes the Doctor back to the TARDIS and gives him a stone he had earlier thrown at the Tryod as a memento.
The Doctor takes off in the TARDIS, unable to really appreciate the gift he's been given. When he later examines it, he realises it's paxltt, a substance found on only one planet. He then realises he's been the Tryods' planet before, but much later in that planet's timeline. He remembers now that the Tryods had evolved into the dominant sapient life-form, while the humanoids had died out. Apparently, the Doctor reasons, Asiries kept his word and successfully prevented the extinction of the Tryods.
to be added
- Like many early Doctor Who print stories, both comic and prose, the Doctor is referred to as "Doctor Who" or "Dr. Who". The word "doctor" is not even seen as a proper noun here when used on its own to refer to the character.
- Continuing the copy-editing inconsistencies in this volume, "the TARDIS" is here styled, simply, Tardis. Like the time machine in the 1960s Dalek movies, the author chooses to go without an article, and the editor fails to correct him.
- As in other illustrated stories throughout the annual, the Doctor is shown here wearing his stovepipe hat. Unlike most of the other stories, though, the text itself makes reference to the hat.
- The Doctor is described as having been travelling for "an interminable time" since the last time the TARDIS landed.
- Just as in The Power of the Daleks, the Doctor assumes the credentials of a representative from a higher government authority in order to put paid to the locals' schemes. The difference here is that he's uncovered as an imposter rather more quickly.