Friswell stretched out an arm to present the pristine village to the disbelieving eyes of the Doctor, and cried, “A snow globe at the bottom of the ocean!” Just below them at the foot of a hill, stretched row after row of identical gingerbread style houses each with a fir tree in their front gardens.
“This is something indeed!” said the Doctor as he knelt to pinch a handful of snow between his fingers.
“Terraforming,” said Friswell, answering a question that seem to hang in the air between them. “We get everything: snow, sleet, rain; even rays of sunshine on some days.”
“Extraordinary, you’ve redecorated, I actually don’t mind it. That’s a new sensation. And I take it, you’re the caretaker?” murmured the Doctor as the snow turned to droplets in his reddened fingers. The mark he had left was the only blemish in the snow he could see for miles around him.
“Exactly. The last of us I’m afraid. I’m to lock up when you leave,” he said forlornly, fingering a large set of keys at his side; one for the elevator, one for the main door, one for the outer shell…
“And what is that?” he said.
“What’s what?” said Friswell, looking around him for what had attracted the Doctor’s attention.
“Under the fir tree…” he said, rising to feet as he crunched a path towards what appeared to be a collapsed snowman. The Doctor stood before the mound and, delving into his worn jacket pocket, removed his sonic screwdriver; whizzing the device over the snow, he stared at the readings with disapproving eyes.
Friswell felt an unease creeping up his spine as he approached him. “Doctor, I really think we should get to the matter at hand,” he said.
“Oh, I think we just have…” The Doctor said to himself.
“What is it?” he said.
“Just a snowman,” said the Doctor as he returned the screwdriver to his jacket. The news seemed to please Friswell, who running a hand through his blonde hair, turned back towards the village. “Yes, just a man buried under some snow,” said the Doctor.
Friswell spun around, dropped to his knees and began clawing at the snow. Beneath lay a large, now rather blue man, dressed in a suit and jacket. Underneath his hand lay a rather large hexagonal tin which even in death he clung to tightly.
“Who could have done this?” cried Friswell.
“The list of suspects is rather small, don’t you think?” smirked the Doctor.
“Now listen here!” spat back Friswell.
“Oh, I know it wasn’t you. Well, not directly at least. It’s really rather simple when you think about it… Open it,” said the Doctor, gesturing towards the tin next to the body. Friswell bent down and, brushing the remaining snow away, he wrapped his arm around the tin, pulling the lid off. Peering inside, Friswell suddenly seemed more confused than ever.
“Chocolates!” said the Doctor. “And, I might add, he’s left the wrappers in the tub! Always a bit of a no-no with me.”
The Doctor smiled and began to walk away from the body. Looking up at the artificial sky above, he could just make out the curvature of the glass dome protecting them from the gallons of sea water beyond.
“Do you know why I created this place?” said the Doctor as the disbelieving Friswell walked to his side. “It was supposed to be a refuge of sorts. A home for those dispossessed by the Time War. A home on the farthest planet from any conflict hidden away at the bottom of an ocean protected by a layer of a poly-carbine found in Dalekanium. Impregnable.”
“It’s vast, Doctor.”
“I have a lot of sins,” he said as he slowly began to walk back up the hill.
“Trouble is, Doctor, you made it too well,” said Friswell. “This far away from conflict, war restrictions just become restrictions. The rest of the universe is on rations and the dispossessed under their protective dome can’t understand why they should go without.”
The Doctor smirked; he seemed to look beyond Friswell, who, suddenly aware he had gained the confidence to question him, was doubly aware that it had now abandoned him again.
“My dear boy, you are correct. Which is why men like you are here; you and your partner over there. I take it you called me for a ride home?”
The Doctor knew! He knew everything.
“Quite,” said Friswell, trying to steady his nerves.
“So someone makes contact with the outside world speaking on behalf of an entire population crying out for the luxuries the war has denied them. But, that’s not it, is it? There’s something else…”
“We wanted the carbine…” he said gloomily.
The Doctor adjusted his bandolier and marched towards Friswell. “Hmm, like lifting the lead off a church roof!” he spat. “It was you who made this place visible! You who made everyone flee! You who brought the war here! The nerve. The contemptible nerve! Do you know why he died? Greed, nothing less than greed.”
“… He ate himself to death?”
“In a way… The problem with the poly-carbine you stole, is that it’s alive! It’s fitting, really, that to create the ultimate killing machine something else must die. On Skaro, the element is docile but here, under terraforming conditions, it’s really quite… alert. Tell me, where did you store the chocolates? I take it you smuggled them in?”
“That was their last request. Hundreds of tins. Doctor, you don’t say…”
“Oh, I do! The carbine simply soaked into the tins. You probably absorbed some of it while stealing it. And then he ate a chocolate, then another, and then another until the carbine was of a sufficient level to harden around his organs. Protecting him to death.”
“But Doctor, what of the others? The ones who fled the dome? They have the same sweets!”
The Doctor could see the TARDIS now sat in the garden of one of the abandoned houses; he delved into his pocket and removed the key; turning back towards the chasing figure of Friswell.
“My dear boy, you really are a spiv!” the Doctor said. “The answer is simple: they share. I’ve already alerted those who escaped the armada. Share. Take one, take two even, and pass the tin on. If they take a handful, why, it might even be enough to protect them from a laser blast… yes, yes. I may have inadvertently saved them again… Are you coming?”
Friswell stood before the threshold, listening to a distance whirl of unknowable machinery beyond. He looked the Doctor in his eyes and suddenly saw the pain of forever chasing an ideal in trying times.
“Doctor, is this as good as it gets?” he said.
The Doctor considered the question, weighing up the implication of condoning anything the men had done. He knew the armada were hours away from destroying the dome forever, wiping any trace of the Doctors attempt to remind himself that he’s still capable of doing good – even when in doing so, he somehow lost a part of himself.
“We survive. And we learn. That’s enough for now,” he said as he walked into the TARDIS.