CHAPTER 1 - Heeled: Detained
Awareness snuck it's way into the Doctor's mind despite the work it had to go through to get past the heavy blanket of medicated unconsciousness. Behind his weighted lids, his eyes shifted, sensing they were being shrouded from something rather unpleasant. Not sure he actually wanted to find out what it was just yet, the Doctor allowed himself to drift back to unconsciousness for a little bit longer.
The insistent knaw of awareness once again tried to pry him from sleep seventeen minutes later. This time, he felt a bit more inclined to heed it's call. Allowing his eyes to drift slowly open, he was surprised to find his vision more than a bit fuzzy. Working to clear it by trying to focus, he found that only foggy blobs continued to fill his view. Closing and re-opening his eyes did nothing to change the scenery. Okay. Vision useless. Check. If there was a tally, that was definitely on the 'not good' side.
How about hearing? Closing his eyes again, he concentrated on the sounds around him. Soft female voices whispering to each other and quiet shuffling noises filled the air. Female voices? Well, at least his ears were working, as were the auditory processing centres of his brain. One for the 'good news' side of the tally.
How about his memory? The Doctor concentrated on trying to recall how he'd gotten here, wherever 'here' was. Hazy tactile memories of bumping along in the back of a vehicle greeted him. Sadly, along with that came the unwelcome scent memory of stale urine and sweat. Well…that wasn't one for the 'good news' side of the checklist. He had no idea where he was or how he got here. He definitely wasn't on the TARDIS… he could feel she was a good distance from him, but at least likely on the same planet. If the cup was half full, he could add that to the 'good news' tally.
What did he remember? He recalled landing the TARDIS and regaling Rose with… Rose!
His eyes popped open. Where was Rose?!
"RO-" A bolt of electricity tore through his throat and pulsed through his body. Then, as quickly as it started, it stopped. Feeling the pain and paralysis finally recede, his hands flew to his neck to find a thick collar of some kind clasped snugly against his skin. Feeling around it for some sort of clasp, he found none. It was seamless. Must be a fluent polymer of some kind.
Not anxious to bring that sort of pain about again, he decided against calling out once more. At least until he figured out how to neutralize the unit currently holding his voice hostage. At least he assumed that's what it was for.
But where was Rose? Where was he for that matter?
Once again trying his eyes out, he looked around. Still fuzzy, but improving. It appeared he was in a small enclosure of some kind. The walls were dark as was the ceiling, but the front was clear. Some sort of cage. Were there bars? He was unsure, as his eyes weren't allowing for that much detail yet. Reaching out from where he lay on the floor… on a blanket presumably… he felt in front of him. Yup. Bars. Figured. The good news was that at least they weren't made of wood.
Reaching down into his pocket for his sonic, he… damn it. No pocket. Shouldn't have been a surprise, really, given the way today was going. Right. No pocket. No suit. Just pants. Once again, if the cup was still half full, he'd add a tally to the 'plus' side given the fact he was at least wearing something and wasn't lying there naked. Been there, done that. Jack Harkness had been there for that one and he could at least thank the Gods that that particular situation was not being repeated. Waking up being spooned by a randy Time Agent was not his idea of a good time. Unless, of course, the time agent happened to be a particular blonde female of the human persuasion, that is. He sighed. That was never going to happen. Not that he didn't want it to happen. It just couldn't. There. Now stop thinking about ravishing Rose Tyler and concentrate on a way to find said human and get her off this planet.
First, however, he needed to sort out where he was and what was going on. Deciding to continue by cataloguing his bodily functions, he focused on taking stock of his body. That was when he realized his muscles were uniformly aching. Only mildly, but still, the feeling was there. Time Lords rarely had aching muscles, but a good six milliampere shock like he received earlier would do it every time. Continuing his analysis, he realized his thigh and his… right buttock… were bruised. Bruised. Hold on…
Doing an internal analysis, he wasn't surprised when his suspicions were confirmed. He'd been drugged. Not once, but twice, if the two sites of injection were anything to go by. Bloody hell. Well wasn't that just wizard. Certainly explained his fuzzy eyesight and hazy memory. Further analysing his own chemistry, he was relieved to find that the effects should soon be completely worn off. Probably in a matter of ten minutes, give or take 30 to 40 seconds. Brilliant. All he had to do was wait.
He decided to listen to the noises around him in the meantime and hope that nothing drastic happened before he at least knew how he had gotten here. Getting himself into a sitting position, he closed his eyes and focused on the female voice speaking very quietly from somewhere close by.
"Was down by the river before they caught up with me. I thought I'd actually made it, but I was still in range I guess, cause it got me in the shoulder. I really thought I'd made it," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. The Doctor heard her begin sobbing.
"There, there, love. No point cryin'. Where did you think you'd go, anyhow? Not like there's a community of humans out there havin' a life of their own bein' left in peace to live as they'd like. Don't know what you were runnin' from anyhow. At least you had a decent family you were with. Mine tossed me out on my arse as soon as they saw the arthritis settin' in. Damn bastards. Who's goin' to take me now? No one, that's who. I'm gonna die in here. You'll see," the older sounding woman said bitterly.
The Doctor decided to chance a few words. Maybe if he was quieter… "Excus-"
A zing of electric energy shocked him, but not as strongly as last time. Still, it was enough to silence him again. Damn it.
"Oi… new guy…" the younger woman's voice said, not unkindly, "stop trying to talk, yeah? You're only makin' it worse for yourself."
The Doctor's vision was still a bit foggy, but he could now make out quite a few more details about his surroundings. Certainly enough to notice a hand sticking out angled toward the front of his cage from the cage beside his. "I'm Onyx" she said. "Don't try to tell me your name… it'll just hurt.
The Doctor stuck his hand out of his cage and touched hers in thanks. She patted his hand back. "Oh! I thought you were a just a teenager, maybe… not knowin' to keep quiet, but you're not, are you? Mable - I think he's a stray! I've never met a real stray before!" she said excitedly, obviously still trying to keep her voice down. Turning her attention back to him, she said, "I wonder where you're from? I've always thought there was somewhere out there where humans could go if we escaped. Somewhere safe? With lots of food?"
Stray? Lots of food? A sick feeling was churning in his stomach. He was beginning to understand exactly what kind of trouble he was in. What kind of trouble Rose was likely in as well. The thought made him feel ill.
Just then, he heard a door slam open somewhere across the room. "Hey ho, guys! Suppertime!" a jovial male voice sang. From all around him the sound of movement issued in the cages. He could now make out the bars very clearly and could actually see that across from him was another row of cages. Pink hands gripped bars in the cell across from his, and he thought he could make out brown hands poking out of the cage beside that one. Beside his cage, Onyx began making a small 'Mmmm' sound, which was echoed by the other women in the room. Other people… presumably males… began thumping their fists on the bars. He heard metal grating on metal and then the scraping of something sliding across the floor. The sound was repeated four times before the Doctor finally got a look at the life form causing all the commotion. It was… large. At least fifteen feet tall. And scaley. Definitely scaley. A reptilian species. Well that narrowed the list of planets he could be on by 134 119, anyway. Another tick on the 'plus' side.
The specimen in front of him had four arm-like limbs with hands sprouting no less than eight long fingers each. It was bipedal, but looked like it's species hadn't always been so in its evolutionary history. It's face was quite humanoid in appearance, though the mouth and nose stuck out in a bit of a snout. It looked like its ancestors may have had a tail, but this one didn't. At least not one he could see. It was clothed in a solid blue one piece outfit… probably a uniform of some kind.
The huge being bent down and scooped something out of a bag he was dragging behind him. Then, lifting the metal grate at the bottom of the Doctor's cage, he slid a metal bowl toward the Doctor. "Here you go, fella," he said kindly. Humming and thumping continued to issue around him, but the reptilian male squatted down to look at the Doctor more closely. "I wonder what your story is," he mused. "Well, we'll get you sorted. A good looking fella like you… you'll be adopted in no time."
Bloody hell. Yup. It was exactly what he'd feared. He was in some kind of pet 'rescue' outfit that 'saved' pets from having to exist in nature so they could be placed in caring homes where they could live out their natural existence in, at best - extreme boredom, and at worst - an abusive living hell. And apparently, on this planet, humans were considered pets. Fan-freakin'-tastic.
Watching the large reptile move around the room from the inside of his cage, his anxiety began taking on even more shape. He was stuck here. And if he was available for 'adoption', then what about Rose? Was she in the same situation somewhere else in this facility? Making an effort to think about the last time he'd seen her, he was desperately relieved to find that his memories of how he'd gotten here were finally accessible.
He'd landed the TARDIS here on the planet Epsilon Eridani b, as humans identified it, but it was better known as Danaris Prime to it's inhabitants and the rest of the galaxy. Well, that explained the reptilian species. It was a hot, sandy planet, which, unusually, had a plentiful water supply as well. Perfect for creatures such as these.
Oblivious to any possible threat, he and Rose had blithely begun exploring, as they tended to do. After a bit of a trek, they'd come to the outskirts of a Danarian settlement… a city, really. He remembered telling Rose that he'd never been on this planet before, but that he'd heard it was an advanced, basically peaceful one. There had been a civil war about a century back, but the data banks told him that the century he'd chosen for them to visit was basically a harmless one. And that's when he'd been shot with a tranquilizer.
Sighing, he moved his hand instinctively to the spot on his leg where the first dart had pierced him. Tender. He recalled yelling to Rose to run, but after that there was nothing. He did remember, however, waking in the back of a moving vehicle and being shot again. Before passing out again, he now recalled the gun-toting being saying something about this being the first time he'd ever needed to use two darts on one human.
The room around him was quiet now, with its inhabitants all eating what the massive creature had provided. For its part, the lizard looking being was now rolling the bag of food closed and stuffing it under a shelf. The Doctor considered his options. Maybe this creature would help him? Perhaps if he asked nicely? But how could he do that with this bloody collar around his neck effectively silencing him?
Well, he had to try, didn't he? But first he had to get the giant's attention. Moving to the bars, he banged on them for a moment, hoping that might get the creature to turn around. It didn't. Hmmm. He needed something with a bit more… ah. He banged on the bars again, but this time in the beat of a familiar Gallifreyan children's song. The repetitive rhythm caught the giant's attention and he turned in curiousity.
Having caught the large creatures eyes, the Doctor smiled and gestured to his collar and then pantomimed taking it off.
The Danarian smiled in response. "Hello, there fella," he said happily. "You'd like that collar off, wouldn't you?" he said kindly, clearly not expecting a response.
But that's exactly what he got. The Doctor nodded his head in a big 'affirmative' and looked hopefully at his captor. If he was right about this being, he suspected he might actually have a sympathetic 'ear' in him.
But rather than the positive response he'd hoped for, the Danarian's mouth popped open and a look of horror crossed his reptilian features. "Drit!" he exclaimed. "Did you just… answer me?!" The Doctor nodded once again, hoping against hope that this creature could accept what he was seeing.
"Dear Kila! Are you… wait. Let's see if you can understand something else," he said, more to himself than anyone else. Then, directing his next command directly at the Doctor, he said, "Pick up a piece of food and give it to me."
Knowing an opportunity when one presented itself, the Doctor complied by bending down, picking up a bit of dry brown 'food' and reaching out of the bars with it toward the Danarian. The large reptile's jaw dropped in wonder as he reached out to take the piece of food the Doctor was offering him. "Well drop a dried bridla on my back. I've never…" he said in awe. Then, his eyes lighting with another idea, he said, "Pick up your blanket, fold it in half, and put it in the corner."
Hating the fact that a being of his intelligence was being ordered about like a trained seal, he nevertheless quickly moved to do as he was told. He couldn't afford to waste an opportunity to communicate with this being. This was his best chance of finding Rose in any timely manner. The Danarian responded as he'd hoped, and, completely flabbergasted, opened the Doctor's cage. Gesturing to his collar once again, the Doctor looked imploringly up at the reptilian being. "Will wonders never cease," the Danarian whispered reverently, laying out his hand on the floor to entice the Doctor to come forward. Never one to disappoint, the Doctor moved slowly out of his cell, standing at full height, but still looking way up into the face of the Danarian, despite the fact he was kneeling. "You're some kind of miracle, you are!" the Danarian said reverently. "I have to tell Marklin about you. He'll never believe me!"
Just then, the door of the room opened and another Danarian walked in. If it was possible, this one was even taller than the one the Doctor had been interacting with. "Ommer, what have I said about playing with the humans? You've got a job to do… we're not paying you to prattle away your time with them. Now, the small white human… 'Cloudy', I think she's called, is slated to get her shots and the pens in room 11 still need tending to," the new Danarian said, clearly unimpressed with Ommer's attempts to bond with the humans in his charge.
"Sorry, boss," Ommer said, a bit deflated. Gently shuffling the Doctor back in his cage by patting him on the arse to encourage him to move, he was about to click the cage door shut when the Doctor made a break for it.
Dashing through the crack of the rapidly closing cage door, the Doctor made a run for it, deftly racing between Ommer and his boss to get to the open door behind them. "Damn it!" he heard Ommer's boss say as the Doctor made it out into the hallway. Which direction? The hall stretched seemingly forever in both directions and doors lined both sides. Rose could be in any of them, assuming she was even here. Maybe she'd escaped? With any luck she was waiting for him at the TARDIS. Oh… if that were only likely. Once again, given his luck today, he figured the chances of that were slim to none.
He didn't have much time to contemplate all of this however, as the two Danarians quickly appeared in the hall behind him and made to grab him. He managed to lunge just in time to miss the bosses attempt to nab him, but as he jumped he felt an arm reach around his waist and easily lift him from the ground. Ommer had somehow managed to swipe him up as he dodged the boss and now had him unceremoniously tucked under his lower arm so his arms and legs dangled toward the ground in a decidedly undignified way.
"Whoa, fella!" Ommer said, ruffling the Doctor's hair with one of his many free hands. "Sneaky little devil," he said reprovingly.
Ommer's boss huffed from somewhere behind him, "Bloody strays." The Doctor could hear the boss mumbling to himself as he stalked away.
"Never mind him, fella. He's always like that," Ommer shared, turning to go back into the room the Doctor had originally found himself in. "Now you need to behave or the boss'll have you put down. Wish I could take you home, but the wife'd kill me!. Already got two humans and a Silurian as it is," he sighed, opening the Doctor's cage and untucking him from his armpit. Putting the Doctor down in the middle of the floor, the large creature once again ruffled the Doctor's hair and pat his back before quickly pulling back from the cage and closing the door rapidly before the Doctor could dash out once again. Ommer then retreated from the room flicking out the lights as he went, apparently off to do his bosses' bidding.
The Doctor watched the Danarian leave and felt his hope fading. It looked like he was stuck here for the time being. Sitting in a dark cement floored cell with nothing but a blanket, a food bowl, a hose like water source hanging at waist height through the bars, and a hole in the floor in the corner to relieve himself in, the Doctor decided he might as well settle in for a bit. There wasn't anything he could do at the moment but wait, which ate at him. He'd been in much worse situations than this before, but it wasn't himself he was worried about. He was more worried about his jeopardy friendly companion who was out there somewhere on her own.