Doctor Who: The Panopticon Patsy
Featuring the Second Doctor
By Shaun Collins
The pain was the surprising thing. He knew the change was happening, he’d experienced it once before. Of course, that had been incoming, not outgoing. Who knew regeneration could hurt quite so much? It was a bit like dying.
The truly unfair and agonizing part though, was that it wasn’t his choice. Not that any Time Lord got to choose the time of their regenerations (there were a few capable of the feat, but not many) but this was a punishment forced on him by the stagnant, bureaucratic Gallifreyan Time Lord regime. The one he’d run from to begin with.
It wasn’t fair.
Just as he’d resigned himself to it, the pain stopped. The Doctor took stock and opened his eyes.
He was still in the tribunal chamber of the Time Lords. He was still standing against the wall being frowned at by the buffoons, and—most surprisingly—if the mirrored surface behind their scowling faces was accurate, he was still him.
His features hadn’t changed.
He supposed he should have been grateful, he supposed maybe even a little humble.
Instead he started shouting.
“What’s the meaning of this? Can’t you even perform a simple forced regeneration without mucking it up? No wonder I left. Of all the idiotic, imbecilic…” The Doctor trailed off, realizing no one had moved. No one had even blinked. The man standing before him—what was his name? The Junior Councilor? Goth? And there was another insult to injury, how dare they demean him by having a Junior Councilor in charge of the trail?
“Calm yourself, Doctor.” Came a new voice, cutting through his thoughts.
The Doctor whirled, quite surprised to see a man standing behind him with his arms folded before him, dressed in ornate Time Lord robes.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Coordinator Vansell.”
“Coordinator of what?”
“The Celestial Intervention Agency.”
“CIA? Never heard of you.” The Doctor huffed. “And what does the CIA do?”
“Much like yourself, we intervene.”
“Intervene? In what?”
“Places, situations, lives.”
“I’m being put on trial and sentenced to exile for intervening and there’s a whole agency dedicated to the practice?”
“Well, not yet, but there will be.” Vansell said.
The comment seemed to deflate the Doctor’s anger a bit. He turned away from Vansell and looked at the tribunal, still frozen inexplicably where they stood. “You’re projecting from the future, aren’t you? Must be an enormous power drain.”
“It is. Which is why I’d like to get the point of my contacting you. I’ve come with an offer…”
“We’re calling it ‘Project 6B’”
“Nonsense. 6B? What gibberish is that?” The Doctor complained. But Vansell could see he was intrigued.
“We need you, Doctor. As even my illustrious predecessors surmised,” He said, indicating the tribunal, “there is evil in the universe that must be fought, wrongs to be righted, dangers to be faced. The Time Lords of this time are far to ridged with their idealistic dogma to allow for such thinking. But I come from a more… enlightened time. We think you are the man for the job.”
“Oh, I see.” The Doctor said, mulling it over. “And does this mean commuting my sentence?”
“More of a postponement. I’m afraid we cannot offer clemency.”
“But… well that’s outrageous! Why should I agree to such ridiculous terms? Why I have half a mind to-“
“Please Doctor, you’re hardly in a position to argue or threaten, and as I’ve said, my time is short. We can do nothing about your sentence, because from our perspective, you’ve already served it. Altering the time stream in that way would be catastrophic and unforgivable. BUT, if we were to lift you out of your current time stream and allow you to work for us for a while, in our present, then return you to your time…”
“You’d be breaking the laws of time!” Said the Doctor.
“Nonsense. At most we’d be bending them a little.”
The Doctor had his finger raised, mouth open as if to launch into another argument, but paused mid-thought, obviously considering. “Yes, I suppose that might be allowed.”
“What do you say, Doctor?”
The Doctor clasped his hands behind his back and began to bounce on the balls of his feet. “I’ll need access to the Tardis. My Tarids.”
“With a few modifications, of course.” Agreed Vansell. “We’d have to be able to keep in contact with you.”
The Doctor frowned. “Hrmm. Well yes, yes of course. Oh, and Jamie and Zoe. I couldn’t possibly go anywhere without them.”
“I’m afraid at the moment, that’s not possible—“ The Doctor made to cut him off, but Vansell rushed to finish, “but perhaps we can make that allowance in the future.”
The Doctor dropped back onto his heels and brought his hands back in front of him, fiddling his fingers. He looked a bit like a petulant child. “Oh crumbs. And when my service is done?”
“You’ll be returned to this very second to continue on your normal journey through time.”
“Will I remember? Or will you wipe my mind too?”
“I know the answer my cohorts would give. I’d prefer to tell you we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
“I see. What if I refuse?”
“I sever the link, time resumes moving forward and you go into exile with your new face and persona.”
The Doctor shuddered, remembering the swirling faces before him and the hideous one the Time Lords had chosen for him. “Best to postpone that disaster as long as possible. I accept.” He gave a little bow. “Now what?”
“You go to your Tardis, and we’ll bring you to us.” Vansell said, smiling. For some reason, the Doctor was reminded of a shark. “Oh, and Doctor? Welcome aboard.”