DOCTOR WHO: THE FORTRESS CHILDREN
By Andrew Hawnt
By Andrew Hawnt
A terrified young couple, Tabitha and Mark, are being held captive as specimens on an alien craft full of avid collectors of sentient beings, a group of rich aliens nicknamed the Completists. The Doctor and Donna have stowed away on the ship after the Doctor intercepted a mobile phone transmission from Tabitha, and rescue the pair from the greedy Completists. Tabitha and Mark have experienced an incredible adventure, and as the Doctor returns them home to their council estate, they ask Donna all about her time with the Doctor, and the group become friends.
Upon arrival on their estate, the group discover its residents being kidnapped and teleported by hooded, robed figures. The Doctor locks on to their destination and bundles Donna, Tabitha and Mark back into the TARDIS. They give chase through the vortex, and materialize on board a gargantuan fortress station, which is hiding just outside our solar system. The Doctor leads the way, and the group of the skulk through the shadowy structure in search of the missing people. They come face to face with a squad of the hooded figures, who imprison them in a shimmering cell called forth from the walls of the craft. Donna and the young couple are terrified and angry in equal measure, and the Doctor reveals who these creatures are.
They are the children of the ship; Clones of the original inhabitants who have been creating generation after generation of themselves in order to keep their race alive. The Doctor demands to know why they are taking people. Surprisingly, they are happy to answer, but not so keen on letting these stowaways loose. They are recruiting new members of their family, organic members with bodies that won’t degenerate so quickly. They are offering the people a choice- if they want to stay, they may be trained and taught the ways of the ship in order to protect the masses of knowledge they have gathered on their travels in space. If the candidates do not wish to stay, they are returned home via a teleportation mechanism.
The Doctor and his friends are imprisoned for the time being as they gatecrashed as opposed to being selected. The Doctor and Mark are separated from Donna and Tabitha. Donna and Tabitha agree they should try and be enlisted to find out what’s going on and see if they can free the Doctor and Mark so that everyone else may be rescued. They make it known they wish to be seen for consideration as new candidates, and are taken away.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Mark have already escaped and are trying to get to the bottom of things. While examining the teleporter, the Doctor discovers it doesn’t send people home- it stores them elsewhere in the fortress. Pursued by the ship’s offspring and their robotic guards, the two of them find a massive repository of stored and frozen humanoids. Further investigation reveals these frozen people are being used as vessels to continue the lives of the ailing clones. Their minds are to be erased and their bodies used as vehicles for generations to come, in order for the ship and its children to wage war on the worlds that shunned them. The Doctor is furious. Just as he and Mark are trapped by the guards, he finds out that the willing disciples are not so willing. They are being brainwashed into joining. Either way, the kidnapped people never go home. The Doctor and Mark are taken away to be dealt with by the leaders of the ship, and their new recruits- the brainwashed Donna and Tabitha…
The Doctor and Mark are judged worthy of education, and thus entered into the program, and the brainwashing commences. As it gets underway, the Doctor manages to sabotage the machine and Mark escapes. The leaders discover the Doctor’s alien physiology and deem him essential to their continued survival- they will set about cloning him straight away. He is strapped into a sampling machine and his screams of agony ring out through the fortress as the process begins.
Mark finds Donna and Tabitha and confronts them. The guards grab him, and as they do, the girls wink at him. In the confusion they were able to distract the guards at the consoles and the process didn’t take. They’re okay…
As Mark is taken away and the Doctor is tortured, Donna and Tabitha manage to reverse the brainwashing on the council estate residents by following what the Doctor did to the machine. The people are freed, and an uprising begins, led by Mark, Donna and Tabitha after they rescue Mark from the guards. They arrive just in time to save the Doctor from any permanent damage, and free him from the machinery. Once he has come to his senses again he leads them to the cavernous storage chamber so he can get to work on the ship’s technology. As the guards battle with the makeshift human army, the ship awakens hundreds of its frozen prisoners as zombified soldiers against the Doctor and his friends. As all seems lost, the Doctor reverses the effects of the brainwashing and sets the teleporters to full strength, returning all of the prisoners to their respective homes all over the galaxy, and leaving the ailing clones powerless.
The Doctor rewires the ship’s technology, enabling the Clones to treat themselves for their weak bodies, meaning they can live real lives. Mark and Tabitha consider staying to help. After all they’ve seen, they want to see more. Donna reminds them how important home and family are, and they join her and the Doctor in the TARDIS. They return to their estate to discover a huge celebration underway. A street party for the rescued and the rescuers. As Tabitha and Mark are welcomed home as heroes, the Doctor and Donna leave quietly, off for the next adventure.