Authors: Randall Farmer
The Good Doctor’s Tales
Randall Allen Farmer
Copyright © 2013 by Randall Allen Farmer
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work, in whole or in part, in any form. This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, organizations and products depicted herein are either a product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously.
Books by this Author
The Commander series:
Once We Were Human
Now We Are Monsters
All Beasts Together
A Method Truly Sublime
No Sorrow Like Separation
In This Night We Own
All That We Are
The supplementary Commander Series books:
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio One
All Conscience Fled (The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Two)
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Three
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Four
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Five
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Six
No Chains Shall Bind Me (The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Seven)
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Eight
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Nine
Focus [coming later in 2013]
99 Gods: War [coming later in 2013]
99 Gods: Betrayer [some time in 2014]
99 Gods: Odysseia [some time in 2014]
The Good Doctor’s Tales
~ Folio Nine ~
This novella length document is a collection of short pieces, stand-alone and otherwise, related to “All That We Are” (Book Seven of the Commander series). As with the extra features common to DVDs, the various parts of “The Good Doctor’s Tales” are not essential to the story “All That We Are” tells; instead, they add to it.
Before the Battle in Detroit
“Trouble,” Sir Dowling said, from his guard post on the roof of the candy shop, distance and brick walls making his voice barely audible even by a Noble. Earl Sellers turned away from the television set, where everyone else in the Nobles’ household sat watching the Times Square New Year’s Eve countdown. “Big trouble. We’ve got cop cars and unmarked cars rolling up en masse.”
Earl Sellers untangled himself from Pam and stood, sniffing and metasensing. Police. Normals! He crouched, ready to charge the front door and fight.
“Evac plan 2,” Master Occum said, reaching into Sellers’ mind and likely the minds of the other Nobles, steadying him and damping his combat urges. “No Transforms, but we’ve got juice traces everywhere on these guys. Dammit!”
moved, fast. He shut off the television, ran down the hallway to the rear of the old shop and over to the weapons locker, his responsibility for a plan 2 evacuation. Money, weaponry and food were essentials, as were those Commoners who couldn’t move quickly. In plan 2, everything else was non-essential, or responsible for moving themselves. They had rehearsed this evacuation many times, and prepared accordingly. The weapons locker, for one, had straps on it for carrying, backpack style, by a man-form Noble.
They were all in their man-forms today, and had been ever since the Inferno get-together over Christmas. They should be able to pull off a plan 2 evacuation. If two or more of them had been in their beast forms, or too beastly to be able to carry, Master Occum would have gone with plan 3.
Count Knox, carrying Frank, one of their male Commoners in his arms, almost tripped over Sellers as he returned to the hallway with the weapons locker on his back. The open back door let in a blast of cold night air and the women Commoners had already gone through, led by Suzie, on their way across the short alleyway behind the old candy factory. They waited there, protected by strategically placed high-piled trash on either end. Duke Hoskins trotted by, an impossible load of food from their emergency stores in a specially designed carry-all on his back, their cash box in his arms. Five strides later, he was across the alley and in front of the women, leading them into the small picture frame warehouse on the other side of the alley, and then up the exit stairway.
Earl Sellers would have liked to fight, but as he moved, he realized how bad such a fight might be. He might be able to survive dozens of rounds of small arms fire, but their Commoners wouldn’t. Yes, the
Noble terror roars would frighten and scatter most normals, but far too many police would react to the terror by firing blindly, not only endangering the Commoners but any innocent bystanders crazy enough to remain in the area. And, with that many police, and with tactical support and advice from the FBI, who were always involved when Transform issues arose, plenty of the attackers would be firing Monster-stopper rounds. Enough of those, and even the Nobles wouldn’t last long.
The owners of the picture frame warehouse
weren’t aware of the exit stairway; Master Occum had found the stairway a week after they moved in to the old candy factory, hidden behind a false wall in an alcove near the frame warehouse’s loading dock. They had worked at night for a week to turn the false wall into a hidden doorway. Always have an escape route, Occum had said. Now, they would see if their escape plans would be able to save the Nobles’ household.
Boston was an old city, riddled with boarded up and bricked up passageways that had served as hiding places and
secret storage areas during the old Underground Railroad and Prohibition days. This one led to a piece of an abandoned sewer line, where they had found a separate passage leading to a formerly bricked up entrance to the basement of what was now a plumbing supply storefront. They had long ago fixed that bricked up entrance and replaced it with an emergency entry door.
Sellers hoofed it down the passageway, and on the way
passed the two rooms that still stank of old whiskey. The Duke put down the food and money and cracked open the doorway. Sellers heard nobody near and nodded. The Duke pushed the door the rest of the way open, in the process forcing a rack of copper pipe fittings to the side with a screech of metal on concrete. He made his way through the open door and in a moment returned to give the all-clear. The household quietly made their way through the basement and up to the shop itself, a small place of only four aisles, all filled with baskets and racks of plumbing supplies.
“The cops still
aren’t in our lair, but they’ve made it into the blocked off alley,” Hoskins said. He kept his voice low, a whisper in the dark shop.
“Any sign they know we’re now two blocks away?” Master Occum asked.
“Nothing yet,” Hoskins said. A police car rolled slowly by on the street in front of the shop, sirens and flashing lights off. Looking for trouble.
Sellers took a moment to calm down and think.
His urge to fight diminished, replaced now by his responsibility to protect the Commoners. Now, escape sounded like a wonderful plan.
to from here?” Count Knox asked Master Occum. Their evacuation plan had many options at this point. “Master Occum, there’s a phone here in this place.” He nodded at the counter. The household had used the phone many times for local calls. “Shall we call Inferno, and get their help?”
“How do you know they aren’t the ones behind this?” Master Occum said.
Knox shrugged. “Why would they do any such thing?”
on purpose, but consider how many visitors they had over the holidays,” Hoskins said. Master Occum nodded.
“The timing here is very suspicious, which does make me suspect one of their guests blew our cover,” Occum said. “There’s also FBI involved here, meaning we need to worry about wiretaps
, on this phone or the Inferno phones. Focus Rizzari’s warned me about such things many times. Right this instant we all need to be thinking like Crows – cautious and paranoid.”
So?” Hoskins said.
“So we’re leaving town,” Master Occum said. “That place you found for us in New Hampshire,
your grace, sounds perfect. We’ll go to Portsmouth on my boat, and hoof it from there.”
Earl Sellers winced. He hated Master Occum’s boat, especially when he had to hide down in the hold. The reek of fish was nearly enough to knock him out. He hated it
even worse when he and his fellow Nobles got drafted into doing boat maintenance.
“We’d best be
moving, then,” Duke Hoskins said, heisting the food satchel over his shoulder. Master Occum nodded, and the Duke led them out to the street, and away.
None of the four police vehicles
who passed them noticed them, as they walked to Master Occum’s leaky excuse for a boat down the back streets and alleys of South Boston. Without numbers on their side, nobody noticed Chimeras unless the Chimeras wanted notice.
Walls. Towers. Blocks with sharp corners and odd angles, all stacked and melded and
painfully overlapping. A harsh foreign intrusion into her well maintained domain.
Yes. There. The unknown hiding
within the hostile fortress was indeed a Crow. The Madonna had never experienced anything like this in the Dreaming – she had encountered fortresses before, but those prior fortresses had adapted themselves to her reality. This cubist oddity looked like something from another universe.
“So, who are you?” Annie
murmured to herself. She swirled reality around her Dream-self and attempted to fly over the fortress wall. The wall climbed as fast as she did.
“You won’t succeed that way, honey,” someone male said, followed by a cackle. Her mind made the man’s dreaming voice sound high-pitched and nasal. She turned to the voice
, and didn’t like what she dreamed.
He rode a horse, and his horse walked on air
, giants above the cubist fortress. He was as Picasso-like as his fortress and his horse was worse, little more than two dozen cubes stuck together in a vaguely horse shape.
“Wandering Shade,” Annie said, suddenly chilled. She didn’t
understand how she knew, but this was him, the enemy. She had dreamt of him before, and recently, but he had appeared as a stereotypical ghostly lawman, easily daunted in the Dreaming, and only a signer. A fool for seemings, she hadn’t investigated. “No longer faking weakness, I see.”
“I no longer need to,” he said, and chuckled.
He rode his horse closer, to stop about thirty feet from where she floated, even with the top of the ever-growing fortress walls. They shrank as they came close, and were only slightly larger than life sized by the time they ceased their approach. “You do present a conundrum. You would make a nice enslaved Focus for my charges, with all your tricks and powers, but I find I can’t stand you in the slightest. Even enslaved, you would disgust me.”
t sneers dripped from his words. “Are you threatening me?” She didn’t care for the endless plain around the fortress and created a stream to wander through the tall grass. A few trees. A wild rose bush. Made the place seem more like her Dreaming, not an echo of a foreign intrusion.
“No threat, honey. A prediction.”
Pre-dick-shun. He was getting to her, and she attempted to stop his influence.
“You have nothing I fear,” she said
, anger and annoyance brightening her Dreaming presence to where she cast shadows. “What, you’ll send your Patriarchs after me? Oh, wait. They can’t even stand up to two Arms and a Crow.”
comprehend the intricacies of my plan?” Cackle. “I thought you knew everything.” He paraded his cubist horse around her, a circle leaving a faint dross trace in the Dreaming. She recognized a confinement trick, and shrugged out the simple counter to it. Was he this much of a fool to think such a simple trick would work against her?
“Mayhem is no plan.”
She had attempted to analyze Wandering Shade’s plans many times, and came up with nothing more complicated than ‘cause trouble’. If he had any long-term strategies, he kept them well hidden from her tricks.
“Surrender, or I’ll do to you what I
plan on doing to the bitch in Detroit,” Wandering Shade said, his voice falsely deep. “I’ll have the vaunted power of the Focus Council in my back pocket by mid-Summer. I’ll have
destroy you, and there won’t be anything you can do to stop me. Unless you decide to break your word and run.”
Uneasy, Annie sank her dreaming form back to the ground
, near the comfort of a willow draped over her stream.
’m aware of the vow you took when you fled Europe,” the enemy said. “You vowed never to run away again, as you did from the Purifier.”
“Are you the Purifier?” Annie asked
, fear now coloring her words. That would explain Wandering Shade’s hidden power and knowledge.
“Thankfully, no,” Wandering Shade said. “Unlike him, I don’t have any delusions of Godhood. I’m just a Crow.” He paused and cackled. “I’ll tell you what. If you surrender to me, I won’t kill your household.” He led his cubist horse down to the Dreaming ground beside her.
Her willow and stream now stood a hundred yards away. “You wouldn’t want to lose your fifth household, now would you?”
Impossible. Nobody but her knew any such thing.
“Surprised that anyone has penetrated your secrets?” Wandering Shade said, and cackled. “Arrogant bitch.”
“If you know so much, then why bother with Detroit?” Whatever
he planned there. All she grasped of his plans were that they involved violence on a massive scale, and that Focus Wini Adkins, an active enemy of the Madonna’s, was his ultimate target. She had plans afoot to help the other Focuses and their households, but Adkins was on her own.
“You’re a worse hypocrite than even the ruling first Focuses,” Wandering Shade said
, dodging her question. Where his dream horse touched the dream-ground, the ground lost its texture and became cubist unreality, sand grains the size of fists. “You’re a worse tech hoarder than they are. If they only knew what you can do, and what you have mastered, they would turn on you in an instant. Perhaps…I’ll
them.” Cackle. He and his horse continued their circle around her.
she said, in disbelief. Few Crows had the mental discipline to understand the intricacies of Focus households, and those who did, didn’t have the skills to understand the meaning of what they metasensed and observed.
“How about the fact that if someone
instantly turns a tagged male Transform into a full-blown Psycho” deep into juice withdrawal “it destabilizes a Focus’s juice buffer and can kill her?”
No, this Crow did not understand.
“That will only happen if she’s a young Focus,” Annie said. Back when she had been a new Focus, back when nobody knew what was going on, the French authorities had given her a Psycho to tag, while she was half-asleep and half-dead from low juice. Her juice buffer had destabilized – not that she even realized back then she
a juice buffer – and the destabilization had untagged her household, sent her to the edge of withdrawal, and drove her unconscious. She had woken up mid-autopsy – the first of far too many Focuses to have that experience – and found the authorities had killed her entire household. That loss still haunted her dreams, but it wasn’t anything she blamed herself for, save for her occasional ‘if I only knew then what I know now’ thoughts.
Wandering Shade laughed.
The horse pawed the ground as it circled and more rich grassland turned to cubist sand. The willow and stream fled farther. “Or, how about the fact that if you cut a Focus off from her household, and one of her Transform women goes Monster, it can start a chain reaction that takes out the entire household?” The French authorities had allowed that to happen as well, the event that had sent her underground, and sparked her refusal to ever again cooperate with the authorities. She didn’t respond. “Or how easily you can enslave a Focus by making her Transforms brain dead.” The mobster who had kidnapped her and her household in Montreal had found that out by accident.
What was his point? His argument made no sense.
“Of course I’m hording such evil knowledge,” Annie said. “Nobody should do such things.”
“Then why don’t you tell them about the Focus attendant trick,” he said. “The one allowing you to replace your fallen Focus attendants with ones discarded or tricked away from other Focuses. Oh, wait, you would need to tell them all the useful things you c
an do with a Focus attendant first, wouldn’t you?”
, finally realizing the psychological game this Crow played: he was attacking her self-confidence. This bastard had been spying on her, and doing so for years. He knew, and exploited, her fears. “I have my reasons.” She had found at least five ways she could have killed herself by using Focus attendant-based juice amplification tricks. She couldn’t in good conscience release any of the Focus attendant-based tricks until she had the entire suite codified.
“Oh, I’m sure you do, and I’m sure it’s a good rationalization,” Wandering Shade said.
His dreaming circle complete, a 20 foot circumference of sand cubes in the grass, he turned his dream horse toward her and backed away from the circle, activating it. If the trick had worked, it would have given Wandering Shade control over her emotions. Instead, her counter turned the attack into dream butterflies, which fluttered around her, blue and annoyed. “Now, are you going to be a smart Focus and surrender, or are you going to get all stupid and make me destroy you?”
“Come on and try,” Annie said
, speaking of events both here and in the outside world. “I’ll take my chances against your Patriarchs, your Hunters, or even your ridiculous plan to turn the American Focuses against me. Even with your false Commander, you don’t stand a chance.”
“You don’t know jack shit, do you
?” Wandering Shade said, abandoning his attack. “I don’t understand where you got this ‘false Commander’ crap from, but the General and his Major Transform-enhanced military tricks,
, will destroy anyone and anything you deign to put up against me.”
Annie feigned defeat
, cowering from his words, while howling in glee inside her own mind. Wandering Shade wasn’t an East Coast Major Transform! He didn’t know about the Commander dreams.
He had no idea how doomed he was. “I’ll be waiting for your army,” she said, radiating false fear. “The day you come for me, you’ll finally understand true Major Transform power.” Her lie was as bald as
one of his giant grains of sand.
She slunk away and left Wandering Shade behind, as he openly celebrated
what appeared to him as a massive psychological victory.
Wandering Shade expected the Detroit fight to be an easy
win. Without realizing it, the fool had given her a weapon of unimaginable proportions.