Enlightenment and Persuasion have walked in on the Doctor and his friends. They now look human. A man and a woman, created from a sketch Tegan drew. Pale, impassive, handsome, impeccably-groomed people in clothes that Tegan thought fashionable. They look like she modelled them on First Class passengers on Concorde. The Jet Set.
Persuasion hands round drinks. Nothing more persuasive than that.
Enlightenment is explaining her transformation from frog to aspirational 80s princess. She speaks in cut-glass vowels and icicle consonants.
“We enjoy the most advanced technology in the universe,” she claims, her voice suffused with nonchalant arrogance.
She was kissed by technology.
“The dominant emotion on planet Earth is fear,” says Persuasion suavely. Yes, that’s always how the ‘natives’ look to the ‘explorers’. Fearful little things. “When last we were there, our reception was hostile.”
Tegan, a woman from a nation built on the destruction and subjugation of ‘natives’ by ‘explorers’, is not fooled.
“Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me,” she sneers.
“Well, we must read your history books,” says the Doctor. There is no better way to learn about the mindset of the rulers of any civilisation than to read their official history books. You can read a lot between the lines.
“You will be welcome to do so,” says Enlightenment, “but first it will be necessary for me to instruct you in our computer languages.”
There is, it goes without saying, no conceivable possibility than a non-Urbankan might already have the ability to read Urbankan books.
“One couldn’t wish for a more enchanting teacher,” says the Doctor. He almost seems to be flirting with her.
“A very elevated one,” adds Persuasion, regarding this insolent bug with lofty amusement.
“Enlightenment,” says the Doctor.
“Minister of Enlightenment,” Persuasion corrects him. Just so you know where you stand.
“Yes, of course,” replies the Doctor, his eyes icy with contemptuous understanding, “And you must be Minister of Persuasion.”
Of course, every ‘civilised’ nation that ever set about conquering the ‘primitives’ always thought themselves superior, always thought they were bringing the benefits of their ‘advancement’, always said they were helping the child-races to grow… or at least to stop being a hindrance in lands they were too inferior to use properly.
And such ‘civilised’ nations always aimed for ‘hearts and minds’, always brought their greater ‘wisdom’ with them as a justification and a gift, holding it before them as they invaded and conquered and slaughtered and enslaved.
And they always needed – need – their Ministers of Enlightenment. And Persuasion.…