The Tardis’s hum echoed as it slowly anchored itself from the flow of time and space to settle into its latest destination.
As it arrived and became fully ‘grounded’, the door opened. A tall man took a careful step outside as he eyed his environment. It looked to be a factory, metal walkways and lights miles above his head showed how it could go on for miles. Tubes went in and out of the ceiling with green fluid flowing within them. This wasn’t obvious due a lack of windows to view the materials but the man had first hand experience with the chemicals, among other things.
He looked about the area and tapped the silver pendant on his right shoulder, an open flower.
“Rare flowers acquired, repeat, rare flowers acquired, bring delivery team to fuel station E. Over.” He tapped the flower once and ended communication.
A moment later ten figures in all white uniforms, armored, with black eye wear, gloves, and boots marched towards the Tardis. They were prepared, even though the machine was immovable they still placed four metal tubes around the Tardis’s perimeter that came to life once they were in position. The man stood aside, adjusting his gold-rimmed glasses and brushing a hand through his silver hair, making sure not a hair was out of place, while the uniformed figures entered the blue box and carried out two people.
One was a girl, dressed in black jeans, black boots, and a striped black-blue sweatshirt.
The other was a man with silver-grey hair, and suit that could belong to a music conductor pretending to be a wizard who had a look even when unconscious of fierce determination.
The metal flower send a small vibrated signal that was quickly translated into an ear piece in the man’s ear that only he could hear and comprehend thanks to the device.
“Excellent acquisition, Mr. Repo, I expect a full report of this in ten minutes time. I hope you’ve found something interesting.”
He could tell she was smiling and Mr. Repo even permitted himself a little grin.
It had been a surprisingly easy.
Five minutes earlier
The Doctor and Clara had finished up another adventure, parasitic androids seeking human hosts, typical Wednesday in Clara’s mind which usually was a flexible thing since time travel made the Doctor’s adventure’s go on for months before even a minute went by in her timeline. He had become a lot more flexible since they first started working with his latest incarnation, even smiling a bit but stopping before Clara could comment on it. No matter what happened, the Doctor was the one constant in her life, things stayed the same despite some changes and nothing fully drastic ever occurred.
She barely had time to recognize something new about the ship before a hand clamped over her mouth and a sudden prick stung her neck before everything started to fade. Clara just had enough time to see a man in a suit carefully lower her to the ground right before he fired a blast of electricity which struck the Doctor in the chest. He collapsed as well a moment later and the last thing Clara saw before her eyes fully shut was the stranger attaching some kind of device to the console of the Tardis. The hum of the great time machine starting to travel made her wonder where they were going as she drifted into darkness.
The Doctor, Mr. Repo mused as the four metal rods created a box of crimson light around the Tardis, cutting it off from the Time Lord, it had been among his tasks to eventually if possible acquire the infamous last of the Time Lords. It had always been a difficult task to locate even one of his incarnations mainly because they were all technically existing at the same time, all going through their own adventures along the same time line. It seemed impossible not to have one of them meet an earlier or later version more often. Time travel had made the task almost impossible until Mr. Repo came up with a curious idea. Among all the sequential information that could be gathered about the Doctor, one thing was almost always certain, trouble always occurred wherever he went. So he helped manipulate a situation out of the norm and suddenly out comes the Doctor to save the day. It was a rather impressive bit of ingenuity that saved everyone in that village, Mr. Repo admitted to himself, but he never allowed personal feelings to interfere with the job needing to be done.
No matter the being, all of them were fair game when it acquiring materials for HONEY and the intel on this particular catch proved it would be there most profitable yet.
* * *
The Doctor was no stranger to being captured and he had a surprisingly strong recollection even when struck by what seemed to be an antique (most likely current from the the way Mr. Fancy suit flourished the weapon as though it cost more than his car and wanted everyone to know it) Bolt Wasp, a crude electric device designed to neutralize any target while ensuring said victim was still intact.
He had heard of an organization that had been infamous for using such devices, but their company was rumored to have been burned to ground under mysterious circumstances. A little vague for the Doctor’s liking but considering his now being strapped to a table and Clara being someplace most likely unpleasant, he would think of something interesting. Part of him wondered sometimes if those occasional disasters he’s heard about were his own doing in some later timeline, that or the Doctor was simply unlucky enough to clean all of the Universe’s messes eventually. Ultimately it did not matter if this was preordained: they hurt Clara and that was more than enough of a reason.
Even with his hands and feet tethered by straps the Doctor knew the HONEY (now what did that stand for again?) troopers had taken his sonic screwdriver and probably a few of his other devices. Most likely the Tardis was out of reach as well since that was the second thing bad guys usually took out of play. So, that left the clothes on his back and his own flesh, bones, and organs. Keen fashion sense rarely helped anyone escape certain death but it did help him recognize small mechanical sensors attached to either side of his neck, his wrists, and two over his hearts. That gave him a very curious idea.
He rolled his hands slowly to get a feeling for his pulse. Whatever sedatives they had put into his body had now fully been metabolized so he could feel the blood flow through his body. Two hearts enabled him to handle all kinds of health concerns that limited most humans and his alien physiology gave him a good amount of self-control. Concentrate, he told himself, his pronunciation of the word became slower with each repetition. Eventually, when it became a millennium to even think a syllable, with his heart matching the flow, a slight high-pitched electric groan stated that the Doctor had flat lined.
While his body was inert, the Doctor was aware of his surroundings and could hear the people charging in. At least this confirmed how they wanted him alive, otherwise the first would have been a kill shot. Good for him but bad for everyone else, because somewhere in this facility was Clara who was in need of some help only a Doctor could provide. These little workers were his helpers, helping him off the table.
When one of them got close enough, the Doctor grabbed onto a Bolt Wasp placed on the hip for security purposes and zapped its owner. He grabbed something sharp as the worker fell a quickly cut through one strap. With his hand and amr free, he fired the Bolt Wasp at the other workers, keeping a timer in his mind about how much of a window was shrinking before too many workers for one overzealous bug zapper arrived. Once the first five were fully neutralized, the Doctor tossed the tool in his restrained hand and quickly got the rest of him free in a matter of seconds. His hearts were quickly pushed blood back through his veins along with adrenaline for what came next, the big escape.
He moved out of the room, minding the cameras and being annoyed by the lack of maps in the corridor clearly meant to confuse escapees. The alarms sounded so the Doctor at least knew he wouldn’t need to be lonely for long. The Doctor needed a way out quickly which meant either doing something stupid or really stupid. Footsteps convinced him to try the latter as he ran in the other direction from the louder pair. He heard what he needed to hear after rounding two more corridors, soft, panicked, footsteps. The Doctor followed the sound, opened the nearest door, and found a frightened young scientist. She wore a white lab coat too long for her that made her legs vanish as she cowered in fear.
The Doctor knelt down, slowly, and looked the looked the young woman in the eye..
“Where do you dump the bodies?”
“W-What?” She asked nervously.
The Doctor rolled his eyes as spoke more irritably.
“The bodies, the ones used up that aren’t good for morale, where are they deposited?”
“There’s an incinerator,” the woman muttered as she brushed a hand through her red hair. “But there’s no opening in it, just a lever for a latch to dump what’s left.”
“Well you’re going to put me in there and dump me.”
“You seem to like that word, gets on my nerves personally,” the Doctor turned and walked a few paces away so he could properly gesture the plan. “I don’t want to be here. You’re friends who want me here, the ones with the guns, because they always have guns, want me to stay. And here I am, no gun, no tools, and one friend who needs my help. So please, be impressed that I’m saying please and then get me out of here.”
The scientist was starting to regain her composure. She had been used to kinds of things that went on even though she heard nothing but noises. The less she knew, the better her chances but this would put her right on the path of getting noticed.
“They’ll kill me if I help you escape.”
“Only if I live,” the Doctor said with a sigh. “And I don’t plan to.”
The scientist was right about to ask ‘what’ but stopped herself for some shred of intellectual dignity. She knew just structurally that nothing could survive the twenty foot drop into the old ravine. But this stranger, he had a look in his eye, the kind earned by being one of the rare few that death thinks twice before coming to collect, the kind of man who survived no matter what.
For awhile and some afterwards, Katherine Valentine wondered what she helped survive that day.
They were able to make it look like an ambush. The Doctor skulked about as though he didn’t know where he was going which was the exact opposite. Katherine followed slightly, adamant about keeping an eye on the Doctor he made his way closer to the incinerator. Once inside the room, they saw the infamous lever on top of a console and two massive doors that would close shut but now wafted a corrosive smell of death and decay. The Doctor leaned over and eyed the cadavers, glaring at the clear signs of cruelty before their final moments and silently thanked whatever luck he had garnered that Clara was apparently not part of the pile..Katherine came up behind him, hands raised nervously as she no doubt was putting her life before a complete strangers. She hoped he hadn’t been lying.
“I’m sorry.” She muttered before her hands shoved the Doctor inside.
Katherine then ran over to the lever and slammed her whole into just so she couldn’t hesitate. She cried slightly as the latch opened below and tried her hardest to ignore the thud a second later. Katherine slipped to the floor as armed forces entered and ignored her frail form as they instead focused on the pile below. She heard one of the speak into a radio, missing every word except for the one that broke her heart.
At the bottom of the ravine the Doctor wondered in his final moments why he had been so stupid. But his mind flashed back to the Tardis, their abductor knew how to get on a Tardis. This meant among other things that his usual tactics couldn’t be used. The biggest problem with time travel when using so many forms was both the possibility of running into your former/latter selves and also the possibility that someone else was more familiar with the new face. The last one would spoil this desperate trick, everyone knew what the Doctor looked like but through great pain that fact could be altered.
The shock hadn’t damaged him enough to keep the regeneration energy from being active. Trick of the Time Lord, the change was initiated either by instinct or through extreme circumstances. He carefully dragged himself out of the bodies away from prying eyes above if any and focused. Golden bright energy would alert them to his location and plan but regeneration didn’t need to be a light show to work. So he kept it at a dim glow, a lit candle outside on a windy night. The image made him smile slightly, it sounded like hope which for once didn’t sound so childish. He saw his reflection in the a puddle of murky water, the last time he would ever have to bother with this face. He sent one last message to himself.
“Listen to me, whatever happens, don’t forget what we do. I am the Doctor, I save everyone I can. So whatever I got to be to do that, promise me, be someone who can help…” his last words trailed off as the energy swarmed over his body.
His pain vanished, like peeling dead skin, and the cough due to the ashes on the ground sounded lighter. Everything seemed to have been stretched and twisted a bit. The bodies made it difficult to figure out what had changed but the Doctor quickly realized some rather obvious changes. After a quick run over with now smaller hands, the Doctor rushed over to a larger pond in the hollow ravine and looked. The ashes made it hard to figure out a lot in terms of features but one thing was certain, the Doctor now had a woman’s face.
She looked up, getting used to how… snug… the suit was in certain spots but ignored it as she glared at the massive facility. Inside was Clara Oswald and some answer to who head the skills to breach the Tardis. As the regeneration fully settled the Doctor found the first words that embodied both the promise and confusion that needed to be sorted out.
“This had better bloody work.” At least she could sound annoyed and that was a blessing in any dark time.
The Doctor stood and carefully made her way from the piles of dead into the slowly dimming night sky beneath three large moons and contemplated how to stay among the living.
(Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor)
(Hayley Atwell as the 13th Doctor).