The Doctor woke up in a room reminiscent of the TARDIS console room. He knew it wasn't the same room because he couldn't feel the TARDIS's mind entwined with his own. Who would do such a thing? Make him think he was at home when he wasn't? Full memory flooded back: After having dropped off Mel, who he hadn't met yet, the Doctor had gone to Earth in 1969 on a whim. He remembered he was gassed while visiting a friend of his, but had forgotten about his respiratory bypass system. Now he woke up here.
Looking out the window, he saw a quiet picturesque village, with fountains and people dressed in brightly colored capes. They all wore the same badge, one of a bicycle with a number in the larger
wheel. The Doctor was intrigued, and, stepping outside his little cabin, he noticed the sign by his door read 17, Private. So at least he knew his address. A man in a dark blue jacket and horizontally striped
shirt tipped his boater hat to the Doctor as he walked by. "Beautiful morning, Number 17."
"Ah, hello, I'm called the Doctor—"
"Eh? Must be new. I'm Number 83, by the way. Pleasure to meet you." "But surely you have a name?"
The man, Number 83, grew a little nervous. "We don't speak of such things here." "Oh? And why is that?"
"I think Number 2 will want to speak to you. You'll find him at the Green Dome."
The man gestured to where the Green Dome was. The Doctor set off in that direction, and was struck by the atmosphere of this village—whispers of brass band music floated up the hill, floral scents abounded, mingling with the salt air of the sea, bright colors assailing one's optic nerve, friendly faces, cheerful smiles; and yet behind it all there was some dark sinister feel. It just felt wrong.
Arriving at the Green Dome, the Doctor rang the doorbell. Bong…..a deep noise implying great depths within. A little midget butler motioned for the Doctor to enter, and the Doctor did so, the cogs of his Time Lord brain working furiously.
"Come in," came a voice from the inner chamber. The metal door raised and the Doctor entered to find a very unique style of décor.
"Ah, you must be Number 2," said the Doctor to the woman. She was tall, slender, red-headed, with the sort of face you expect from a showgirl but with intensely blue eyes.
"I'm known as the Doctor."
"Here you are known as Number 17."
"If you insist." He really didn't like the idea, but he wanted to cooperate for now, as he worked out what was going on. "Why have I been brought here, anyway? Seems a bit odd."
"You are a very strange man, Number 17." "Oh?"
"Two hearts? A very interesting lung system, and a brain with an extra lobe. Fascinating." Not enough to warrant kidnap, thought the Doctor bitterly."So you abduct me?"
"You're dangerous. We are in the midst of war, as I'm sure you know." "Ah, the Cold War? And which side am I a threat to?"
"Come, Number 17, I'm sure you can respect that we must keep that secret."
The Doctor fidgeted as he paced. He was really starting to despise this place, a candy-coated
"Are all the people here dangerous? To you, I mean?" Number 2 had a mischievous smile on her face. "No, and yes." "That," protested the Doctor, "is hardly helpful."
"You are also interesting to us because you don't seem to exist."
"I most certainly do exist. I think therefore I am, and I do a great deal more thinking than I daresay you do."
"You have no records. You were not born. You have no family. You have no past. The only record I can find of someone matching your description dates from the Industrial Revolution, and that can hardly be you."
"It's not like time travel is possible," he added with a grim smile.
"Indeed not. Yet, here you are. That is all. I'll send Numbers 29 and 38 to help you with your clothes."
"Eh? I rather happen to like these clothes."
"You don't understand, Number 17. Conformity is the object of this society. You most certainly do not conform."
"May it ever be so," said the Doctor pointedly as the Butler began to usher him out. "Can't say it was a pleasure to meet you."
Upon leaving, he bumped into a rather stern-looking man, ocean-blue eyes and brown hair. He seemed to move at a furious pace, as if everything he did was urgent. He too did not wear a number-badge. The Doctor apologized as his telepathic senses were bombarded by feelings of anger, desperation, homesickness, determination, and rebellion from the man. The man did not apologize back.
The Doctor looked into his closet only to find that rather than his typical wardrobe, there were dark blue jackets of identical style to what the other prisoners(?) were wearing. Grey pants, simple shoes, striped sweaters. And on all of the jackets, a badge labeled 17.
"I will not wear these ridiculous clothes," he told the air. "I'll sleep in my own before I'll let you dictate my fashion."
He wandered his little room, noting the detail of it all. It was nearly identical to the TARDIS console room, but of course the console itself didn't work. What a pity too. And of course, it was just as big on the inside as it was on the outside. A wall raised up to reveal his bedroom, full of simplistic silliness. An orange lava-lamp was perched on the windowsill. Perhaps in his first regeneration he might have liked the décor, but not in this one.
Exiting his house, he decided to scout out this Village. He recognized faces, people who had gone missing during the Cold War. Scientists mostly, though the odd politician popped up here and there.
"I wonder what the average IQ of a place like this is?" A human chess set was sprawled out on the lawn, and a game was in progress. "White wins in six moves," the Doctor noted. Continuing his exploration, he saw some faces he knew from World War Two lounging around the Old People's Home.
No sign of the TARDIS though. Pity. The soundtrack for his wanderings was a nice and cheerful Bizet piece, which the Doctor didn't care much for, as well as hollow laughter from down in the square.
He wandered up to the hospital, simply labeled "hospital" and entered.
"Ah, here for your physical, Number…?" The man looked for a number badge, but did not see
"Doctor. And no, I'm not. I'm just looking 'round." And indeed he did, finding an room marked aversion therapy, and another with no label at all, wherein rows of people sat, blindfolded and
straitjacketed, doing foot flexes to annoyingly simple repetitive music. The more he saw, the less he liked. "Thank you," he said to the nurse who had been escorting him. "That's all."
All in all, he was glad he didn't have a traveling companion on this adventure. What they would have done to poor Peri…still, he admitted to himself, he would like someone he could trust to bounce ideas off of. He wanted out, but he didn't want to just abandon all these people. It was funny, he reflected. Cybermen, no sweat; Vervoids, easy as pie. The moral dilemma he faced now…that was another matter.
He entered the restaurant, ordered a simple salad, and as he ate, he thought. I'm going to have to figure out why the people haven't left. It's not a psychic field—I'd have felt that. Could be mass brainwashing. Or perhaps there's a simple defense mechanism that functions as a deterrent. I shall find out, thought the Doctor. Over in the corner, hastily eating a sandwich, was the strange man. Keeps to himself, doesn't he?
He saw the way no one said anything too private, as if surveillance was perpetual. Yet another thing the Doctor didn't like. He respected privacy and individualism, and this place shattered both those values.
There was a commotion outside, which everyone went to investigate. A young man, perhaps 30, was running, pursued by a large white…thing. Spherical, and roaring, like a great big amoeba, six feet across. The Doctor watched in horror as the thing caught up to the young man right outside the restaurant. The Doctor ran over to help fend it off, but in doing so, ended up with the thing attempting to smother him. He felt the membrane pressing against his nostrils, mouth, eyes. It would kill him if he weren't careful. Lucky for him, he was a Time Lord. He blacked out as he engaged his respiratory bypass system.
Waking up in the hospital, the Doctor looked around groggily. "Poor fellow," a nurse said.
"What? Who? Where am I?" Curse his confusion.
"You're in hospital. You had a nasty encounter with Rover. I must say, though, your recover y time is remarkable."
The Doctor bolted to sitting position. Blast it, he thought, they've taken my clothes! He was wearing a hospital gown. "I've got to help that poor man!"
"Human beings shouldn't be given numbers," he snapped.
"It was his own fault. He shouldn't have tried to escape. Number 134 is dead."
Cold-blooded murderers! The Doctor was furious. He got dressed in the horrid standard outfit,and marched off to see Number 2. On the way, he passed a funeral procession for the man, disgusting the Doctor further by playing a cheerful march rather than a funeral march.
"How dare you," he spluttered as he entered Number 2's room. "You have no right to condemn a man to death simply because he wanted some measure of freedom!"
The globe chair swiveled around to reveal Number 2. It wasn't a woman. It was a man, on the
"Tell Torchwood we can't wait! Let's discuss this later." He hung up. "Where is she? Where is Number 2? I demand to speak to her this instant!"
"I am Number 2. My predecessor was relieved of duty for talking too much. You may speak to
"I refuse to see innocent people first numbered like cattle, then slaughtered by your pet balloon! It's inhumane! No wonder this is a secret organization. This place would be shut down if anyone found out the truth!"
"Number 17, do calm down. He was a rebel. A bump in the road to peaceful life." "He was a person! He had a mind, he had thoughts, he had a name!"
"Number 17, I will forgive you for your insolence if you stop now. Otherwise we may be forced to take drastic measures."
"Drastic measures? You swine deserve to have someone stand up once in a while and say no, I will not be ground down like wheat! I sorely wish there were more in this Village of like mentality!"
Number 2 muttered to himself "We'd best keep him away from Number 6…"
The Doctor, being of superior hearing, filed away the comment in his mind for future use. "Number 17," continued Number 2, "We here in the Village are kind to our citizens. We show
them the utmost generosity in life."
"Kind? Kind? You heartless monsters wouldn't know kindness if it ran up to you and shot you point-blank with a staser-pistol! Taking away a person's freedom of identity is hardly kind!"
"Think of it, Number 17. The citizens of this Village are from all nationalities, all languages, and if they knew one another's names, there might be untold violence."
"I see your point."
"Then you agree with our philosophy."
"I most certainly do not. What percentage were kidnapped from their homes? 99 per cent? How many have children, husbands, wives, parents, siblings, mourning for the unknown whereabouts of their loved ones? Tell me that being forced away from everything you've ever known and loved is kind."
"My name is the Doctor. You don't show me the respect I deserve by addressing me in that fashion, I will show the same lack of respect to you."
"Alright then, Doctor," (he pronounced it as if it were an alien word) "You seem to be an intelligent man. Reasonable, thoughtful. Surely you can see why we're doing what we're doing."
"I can indeed. That doesn't mean I enjoy it."
Number 2 switched on a light and the Doctor was suddenly held in a transfixed grip, as if hypnotized.
"Now, Doctor, what you will do this evening is this. You will go to your bedroom, you will fall asleep. You will pretend this incident never happened. You will, from this point forward, answer to and introduce yourself as Number 17. You will not rebel any longer against my authority. Now what are you going to do?"
"Point out that you're a fool. I've had anti-hypnotic training and it takes a weak mind to be put under your pathetic spell." The Doctor turned and walked away.
The next morning, the Doctor met with Number 6 at the Café. Number 6 was obviously convinced that the tall, curly-headed man was either out of his mind or working for the Village.
Having failed to convince Number 6 that he was genuine, the Doctor began to look for signs of rebellion in Village-born teenagers. There was none. But here was something curious, a young man dressed in top hat and frills was singing and behaving very oddly. The Doctor smiled.
"Excuse me, sir,"
"Heya daddy-oh, who are you?" "My name is the Doctor." "Name! Hallelujah!"
"I was wondering…" The Doctor took the young man off to the side and told him the plan. The Doctor would disable the security systems while the young man (who was evidently Number 48) would cause chaos in the Village square, inviting everyone to leave. Normally the Doctor was anti-chaos, but in this case, it might be the only way he was going to save all these people.
"Tomorrow night at sunset."
The Doctor spent the next day scouting out the territory, looking for areas in which to start messing with wires. He had a number of close calls, including an encounter with his next-door-neighbor, Number16, a rather elderly man.
"So, Number 17, I'm wondering what job you're going to be taking on here in the Village." "Ah, well, I was thinking about applied temporal mechanics in five dimensions."
"Eh? How's that again?"
"Never mind. Probably the shop."
The old man wandered off, probably trying to figure out what the Doctor had meant. In the meantime, the Doctor had found the perfect spot.
Evening came to the Village. The Doctor was ready, had disabled the systems by rerouting the electrical impulses so that even though the system was off, no one would know. He made his way to the square where a crowd had gathered to see Number 48 dancing and singing. Most had looks of disgust, some had amused looks, while others looked downright frustrated. Suddenly some children (evidently friends of Number 48) had set off some minor pyrotechnics, causing chaos. The Doctor stood tall and shouted to the crowd.
"Now's your chance! If you want to get out of here, follow me!" He set off running, glancing behind him to see Number 48, Number 6, and those three children following him. Turning back to the front of him, he realized there was a wall of peacekeepers in front of him. They grabbed the entire
group, wrestling them to the ground. The Doctor heard splutters of annoyance from Number 48 and the children, and angry grunts from Number 6. There was nothing for it now but Venusian Karate.
Breaking free of the grip of the guards, the Doctor had time to barely notice how dark it had gotten. He ran, aware that the others wouldn't make it. His superior cardiovascular system gave him all the advantage he needed as he ran faster than any human could. The approaching sound of Rover alerted him to the fact that he wasn't away yet, and he focused his mind, forcing himself to run faster and faster, he turned to see how far away Rover was—
The Doctor fell to the ground, wind knocked clear out of him. With his head turned behind him, he hadn't been able to watch where he was going and ran into something. Head aching, he felt what it was. It was wooden and vaguely squareish. The TARDIS! Shoving the key into the lock, he managed to get inside just as Rover grazed his back. Assured of his safety, the Doctor looked at the scanner. He then tried to fix the coordinates of the location, but no readings showed. He looked at why. Some sort of field barrier that wasn't Earth technology. He could only assume that an alien ship had crashed and the Village had taken the technology.
Setting the TARDIS coordinates to the planet Xephroxia in the Kural system, he dematerialized. It was time for a holiday.
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