Of course, he actually currently has six broken bones and Bert, the bloke who has taken breaking the Doctor's bones on as a sort of occupation, has promised to break at least thirteen more. He went so far as to describe how each would break, and the Doctor couldn't help but wonder how a man with such an eloquent manner of speech, articulate vocabulary, and gift for stunning descriptions wound up in the middle of this prison planet.
Not enough good writers out there, but telling Bert so only resulted in a broken femur on the Doctor's part. No one can take a compliment nowadays, it appears.
It's been one of those weeks. Of course, being a non-linear, non-time-subjective time traveler makes judging exactly how long of a "one of those" he's been having not particularly easy.
As it is, he hasn't much cared for the turn of events that have ended him in a situation in which six of his bones are broken and two more look like they're giving in to the pressure to be like the first.
So, given the rather unpleasant nature of his state, one might ask what, exactly, has brought our hero to this place? For the more philosophically angled readers, one might say that the path of the Doctor to the prison planet torture chamber was written with time itself. As it is, the Doctor would say it all started yesterday.
The original intention of landing on this planet was to take a holiday somewhere that wouldn't remind him of his companions. It's been getting harder to do, as he's taken them all to so many damn places that it is hard to keep track of which is which until he gets nostalgic and then it's impossible to dig himself out of that.
So, he picks a place he knows he hasn't taken his companions. Terra Croata during the height of the inquisition. It's ideal, he thinks. After all, when would he think to take a companion somewhere this violent, dangerous, and completely unlivable? Then again, he realizes the folly of this idea when he tries to find a shop that sells chips (he is on holiday, after all), and realizes there was a massive food shortage.
So, he's hungry but at least he isn't moping over Rose, Jack, or Martha. The three of them seem to be on his mind lately, but that's probably just because the TARDIS seems so quiet with no one else to talk to. While he loves the TARDIS, the TARDIS is rather mute and doesn't do much talking back (though she is an excellent listener and he is often left with the feeling that she understands him).
Anyway, as he's walking down the mud-lined streets, he has the misfortune to step on something sharp that pokes through his trainer and stabs him in the big toe. Now, it's not the sort of stab that might make one unable to walk, it simply causes one to cry out in alarm, and perhaps cause a small bloody spot on one's sock.
After swearing under his breath, he leans down to remove the offending stabbing object from his shoe, only to find that it is a tiny ball with a needle attached to it. He immediately believes that he's stepped on someone's drug utensil, and he immediately remembers walking the streets of Baltimore with Rose and falls into that nostalgic state he promised himself he wouldn't fall into. He also thinks that he really should head down to New New Earth's medical facilities and get tested for blood poisons (which also snaps him into another nostalgic funk for both Rose and Martha). While he's unlikely to die from a blood disease considering his Time Lord health defenses, it's probably best to check.
He steps forward again, only just missing another needle poking up from the muddy ground. Half-buried, it appeared. He kneels down, as he often does, to check on what exactly, happened here. The entire road before him is positively littered with these little needles, all poking up in an identical fashion.
And that is, of course, when he realizes that the object in question is not a drug user's needle, but rather a well-placed trap. The liquid within must be some sort of
Many hours later (or less, it's always difficult to tell), the Doctor finds himself strapped to the table we found him on at the beginning of this story. The entire building is dark, dank, and reeks of all sorts of unpleasant smells that the Doctor would rather not recognize. His head's a bit hazy, and he chalks that up to being drugged by the needle and he feels a bit grateful for that. Being all sorts of drugged up means that he's not going to be able to recognize---oh, no, wait. He knows what that smell is. Oh, yuk.
This is the point where Bert arrives. Bert is actually not the main villain in this scene, but he's there. Big and hulking and all the wonderful adjectives that describe an unwashed, egg-guzzling caveman; that's Bert. In front of him is a skinny, vulture-like man in a business suit that goes by the name "Niska" and talks in a strange accent that the Doctor doesn't actually recognize.
The man begins to quote Freud, and whenever a torturer starts to quote Freud, it makes the Doctor's genitals ache with the thought of what exactly anyone quoting a pioneer in sex education might have in store for him.
As it is, this Niska bloke is more interested in the topic of Castration Anxiety. The word "castration" makes the Doctor cringe, but the topic itself is really about helplessness. The exact concept, according to Niska, is the fear that a man's father will castrate him when he finds out about his attraction to his mother. Human ideas, and the Doctor's not entirely certain why he's being told about them, but he listens anyway. The idea isn't the castration itself, it's the complete helplessness. Being unable to prevent one from losing their own manhood because they can't fight back.
So, the Doctor does what he figures anyone in this sort of situation would do. Ask what exactly this torturer fellow with a funny accent and Bert have in mind for him.
Niska starts to talk about the War, which is a fairly good tip-off to the Doctor that the man is anything but what he appears to be. He then says that he's got to make the Doctor be where he was during the War, in order to find out who he truly is.
There's a cheeky joke in there about reversing regenerations, but the Doctor can't get it out before the first bone in his hand is broken by a pair of pliers (that would be the proximal phalange on his left index finger). Niska sits in a corner and watches eagerly as Bert gets to work.
So! By the time we get back to where we were, the Doctor has his right femur, left collarbone, left jaw, two proximal phalanges and one metacarpal bone all broken, and Bert and Niska have just gone out for tea. It's quite frustrating, actually, and while trying to recover his wits despite the intense pain, the Doctor is wondering if it would be rude to call out something along the lines of "whenever you're ready" or something like that.
The next bones are not going to be particularly pleasant, and seeing as the Doctor can't figure out how to get himself released and he hasn't got a companion to come rescue him (which is really a laugh, actually, because it was never that way just around ever), and with the current state of his femur he's not going to run away.
If Niska was going for helplessness, he's pretty much achieved it. Which is funny, because in all the times the Doctor has been completely helpless he's usually found himself sulking or being overzealously anxious, but right now he's calm. Completely, totally calm.
His hand burns, and he thinks about Martha, telling off Nurse Redfern by showing her the bones of the hand. Completely brilliant woman, completely unwilling to let him just be a coward. Brave beyond words, she was. He remembers the moment he first truly realized that, when they lay on the floor of the Valiant, the world whisking around them. He saw her. His intelligent, brave companion.
His leg aches, and he thinks about Jack. Running down long corridors with his faithful friend. He remembers how much he didn't like Jack at first, how much the man changed in such a short amount of time. He wishes he was still a coward, but it's impossible, in the Doctor's mind, for Jack to be anything but a hero. A man who would lose it all (and had) in order to save others. His loyal, heroic companion.
His jaw throbs, and he thinks about Rose. Touching his face and telling him everything would be okay. It's such a very her thing to do, now that he thinks about it. Making light of a serious situation no matter how terrified she was. He thinks about how she wanted to give it all up for him, and he doesn't doubt she would have, if the universe let that sort of thing happen. His brilliant, strong companion.
Niska re-enters, and tells him that this is not the time for being quiet, he wants to hear screams or something like that. The Doctor lets out a laugh, and this seems to startle both Bert and Niska. Which is fantastic, really, because he hasn't managed to get much more than pain out of them since this whole silly kidnapping business began.
Niska demands to know what he has to laugh about. After all, he is so helpless that he is like those humans he travels with. Helpless.
Oh, but they're not helpless, they never were. The Doctor replies, and the smile on his face widens. And neither am I.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,723