The Toymaker was not very happy as he marched down the isles of sleeping telepaths to find his newest addition. He had used her skills quite effectively to probe the Doctor’s scattered memories and dredge up his worst fears. But not everything the Doctor saw was of his choosing. The most blatant disregard for his will was just before he dismissed the visions, the Doctor saw a glimpse of all of his past lives. He had not planned that and there was only one who could have done it.
He stood over the girl who was just as deeply asleep as when he had left her. There was not a trace of free will coming from her and yet he didn’t have full control over her powers. There always was a time period where he would have to learn a new skill that he acquired, perhaps that was the only problem.
But he couldn’t see how his lack of understanding of her power could be the cause for inadvertently giving the Doctor some level of encouragement. Still, the girl was under his power… there was no mistaking that.
He looked at her for a moment before he decided that she couldn’t possibly be the cause of the problem. Her mind was completely siphoned off and forced to swirl in chaos with the others. She probably didn’t even know her own name anymore, let alone able to work against him.
Anji realized their mistake immediately. Separating in a place like this was probably the worst thing that they could have done. She still had the map, but that meant that Fitz didn’t. She hoped that it may be possible for him to find his way out but it would be pretty difficult now.
Turning back around to face the hallway, she realized that it wasn’t going to be very promising for her either. What had been a wood paneled hallway with plush red carpet was now two wooden walls with a narrow beam running down the center. Either side of the beam was about six feet of open air and a drop into complete darkness.
Glancing over the edge of her little area that was still a full sized hallway, Anji couldn’t see a bottom but she could feel a rush of cool air that signaled that it had to be a very long ways down.
“Great, now I get to do this maze on a balance beam,” she muttered. “I certainly hope that Fitz at least found an easier route. Of course he’ll be lost in no time.”
Taking a deep breath, Anji carefully placed a foot on the beam. Glancing at her map, she formed a mental picture of the course she had to follow and then stepped onto the beam with both feet. As she went, she glanced behind her and realized that the section of beam that she had just left was disappearing. As usual, there was no going back. She had to get the right path or she would literally be left high and dry.
Fitz swore to himself when he realized how stupid they had been. And then he swore again when he realized that Anji still had the map. Turning around, he faced the twisting hallways that he had been looking at for some time now. He shook his head and decided that the best he could do was press on.
And so he did. And on, and on. Without the map, he kept coming up to dead ends or found himself going in circles. He lost all track of time as he became more and more lost. But, somehow, he managed to come across another room with a choice of doors.
“Well, I hope this means that I’ve gotten to the right place, finally.”
But there was nothing to help him make a decision. He realized that the map probably would have given a clue at this point, but of course that was still with Anji. He let out a frustrated sigh for about the hundredth time when he had this thought.
“Ok, well it’s up to chance again,” he said as he pulled a coin from his pocket. Flipping it up and catching it, he placed it on the back of his hand. “Heads,” he said. “Alright, to the right it is.”
But no sooner than he opened the door than ropes sprang from the dark opening as if they were alive and wrapped themselves around his wrists and ankles. They pulled tight and yanked him through the doorway as the door closed behind him with a loud click.
The Doctor sat down in the white landscape that he was left in once the mirrors vanished. He was still recovering from his climb and wanted to take whatever respite his was given.
But, as he sat there, he realized that he was slowly going numb. Not so much in the way that he was loosing feeling, but his mind was going blank. Where normally he had thoughts tumbling over each other inside his mind, now it was getting quiet.
“What new trick is this?” he said as he stood up. He began to walk around the empty area, but slowly a landscape began to come into focus. He was walking through a garden path.
“Hmm, a pleasant place. I hope Anji gets to travel along something like this. As well as…”
But the Doctor suddenly paused as he couldn’t remember the name of his other companion who was still working on the maze. As he stood there, the memories of even having another companion began to fade.
Part of him was grasping at what little he still had, but another part couldn’t remember why he should care. Before he knew it, he was strolling pleasantly down the path again. One by one, what memories he still had were fading, leaving him both peaceful, and empty.
He didn’t even realize it when he wandered into a cold white room and sat down beside a pile of life-sized toys as if he had just had his own strings cut.
The Toymaker smiled to himself at his new accomplishment. He was able to completely wipe the Doctor’s mind. That meant that he wasn’t going to be doing anything without the Toymaker first putting the thought in his head.
True, he hadn’t really destroyed the Doctor’s memories, just shifted them out of his reach. There would come a time that he would want the Doctor to know everything, but right now, he was out of the way while his companions sealed their own fate.
Of course, it looked like Fitz had already done so and with slight shrug of his mind, the Toymaker cast Fitz aside like an unwanted toy and turned his attention to the last companion. He could end it, but it was so much more fun to watch them dance before he squished all of their hope.
Fitz was dragged like a puppet down the hallway and pulled into what looked like a large closet. There he was thrown in just like the toy he was feeling like. His strings were propped up somewhere above his head and he was left sitting with his legs sprawled in front of him and his arms just slightly raised.
Glancing around the room, he saw other dolls and puppets of his size. He began to wonder if everything here was big, or if he had shrunk.
Suddenly his eyes fell on what he had originally taken for another doll. It wasn’t a doll at all.
“Doctor!” he cried.
The Doctor sat across from him, staring blankly into space. The only reason Fitz knew that it was the Doctor and not a doll that happened to look like him was the slight rise and fall of his chest as he breathed and the drying sweat that glistened on his forehead.
“Doctor! What’s going on! Where are we!” he called again.
But the Doctor didn’t respond. He just sat there, staring mindlessly at nothing.
“Hey! It’s me! Fitz! Snap out of it!” Fitz was just able to manage enough movement to wave a hand. He saw the Doctor’s eyes shift slightly at the movement and focus on his hand. Fitz took a breath as he saw how empty and lifeless his friend’s eyes looked.
“Doctor, what did he do to you?” Fitz said with a breathless sigh. “Can you even hear me?” he asked.
The Doctor blinked at him.
“I’ll take that as a yes. I don’t know what happened to you, but I can’t help you like this. Can you get me out of these ropes?”
The Doctor blinked again, but didn’t make a move.
“Come on Doctor. It’s me Fitz. Your friend. We’ve been through a lot together. Something has to still be rolling around up there. All I need is for you to get me loose and I can try and help you.”
Blinking again, the Doctor stared hard at Fitz. “Fitz?” he said, stretching each sound out as if it were a foreign word that he was trying for the first time.
“That’s right, I’m Fitz,” he said encouragingly. “And you’re the Doctor.”
“Fitz,” the Doctor said again, only with more certainty.
“Yes, that’s me. Can you get me free?”
“You’re Fitz,” the Doctor said as if it were a new revelation as he stood up.
“Yes, your friend.”
The Doctor half walked, half stumbled across to where Fitz was tried and plopped down in front of him. “Your Fitz, my friend.”
“That’s right Doctor. Can you get me out of this?”
“I’m Doctor?” he said, forcing the word from his lips.
“God Doctor, what happened to you? Yes, you’re the Doctor. I’m Fitz and somewhere around here are our friends Anji and Phaze.”
“Anji… Phaze…” he whispered.
Fitz watched as his eyes suddenly began to come back to life. Watching his face, it was as if he were coming back from the dead.
“Fitz!” the Doctor suddenly cried as he launched himself at him, grabbing him in a huge hug. Fitz swung back on his ropes from the sudden shift as the Doctor nearly crushed him.
“Doctor! I’m glad you remember me again, but I’m still a little tied up here,” he said after a moment.
Backing off the Doctor nodded, “Yes, I see that. Just a moment.” He reached into a jacket pocket and pulled out a small pocketknife. “I’ll have you free in a second.”
As the Doctor worked at cutting him free, Fitz began to ask what was going on. “Doctor, what happened to you? You were all blank on me a minute ago, didn’t even know your own name.”
“I’m not sure what happened. But that’s exactly right. Somehow my entire memory was wiped clean. Well…” he paused while cutting Fitz’s left hand free and thought a second before continuing. “I suppose it was more like I couldn’t access my memories rather than them being wiped.”
The Doctor now had both his hands free and was working on his ankles.
“Meaning the Toymaker has learned rather quickly on how to work Phaze’s abilities.”
“Phaze? Where is she? I thought she was with you?”
The Doctor straitened now that he had finished freeing Fitz and looked at him sadly. “I dropped her,” he said. “I let her fall and now the Toymaker is using her somehow against us. She told me that this whole place is being generated by telepaths and that the Toymaker wanted her for that reason.”
“So this whole place is…”
“It’s all in his mind. The Toymaker is using the telepaths to create everything that we see.”
“So none of it’s real.”
“It’s real enough in the sense that we can feel it and interact with it and it can still hurt us, probably even kill.”
“I was afraid of that.”
“But the question is, why are we together? If the Toymaker wants us out of the way, presumably since we were both left in this closet, then why let us work to get each other out?”
“For that matter, why did he let you regain your memories?” Fitz said. “You were pretty useless the way you were. I thought that it was probably just another way for him to taunt me to have you here but not able to do anything.”
The Doctor thought for a moment before saying, “I don’t think that it was the Toymaker’s intention to put us together.”
“I think that letting Phaze go was probably the best thing I could have done. Too bad I didn’t believe her at the time.”
“Never mind. I think we need to find her and Anji quickly before the Toymaker realizes that we’re not where he left us.”
He turned and went out the door that Fitz had been pulled through and they entered the maze again.
Anji carefully lowered herself down to take a bit of a break. She sat on the beam with both legs dangling off either side. It was hard work maintaining her balance like that, not to mention nerve racking.
She sat for only a minute before she felt a void behind her, quickly looking, she realized that the beam was still retreating even though she wasn’t moving forward. Her bottom was now partially hanging over the edge. Quickly scooting forward, she climbed to her feet again as quickly as she could. But the beam continued to vanish and as she took her next step, her heel slipped back off the edge.
She spent a terrifying moment where she tried to regain her balance and teetered with her arms wind milling through the air. But it was no good, her foot slipped the rest of the way and she began to plummet through the darkness.
The Toymaker smiled as he sensed Anji falling. He was a little sad that she hadn’t made it much farther, but the terror that his new powers told him that she was experiencing was quite fulfilling. He shoved the thought of Anji from his mind like another forgotten toy and began to contemplate what he wanted to do with Fitz and the Doctor.
Anji screamed as she fell through the nothingness around her, knowing that the bottom had to be rushing up to meet her. There was no escape from this one. She had finally made her last false step.
But just as she had given up on herself and slammed her eyes shut, waiting for impact, she realized that she couldn’t feel herself falling anymore. There was light now behind her eyelids where there had been darkness a moment before.
Opening her eyes, she found herself lying on her back in a white room. As she got up and looked around, she saw piles of disregarded life sized toys lying about. In the corner there was what looked like thick puppet stings hanging from the ceiling, but they had been cut and the puppet was missing.
Suddenly the door behind her burst open and the Doctor and Fitz rushed in.
“Doctor! Fitz!” she cried, hardly believing what she saw.
“Anji, are you alright?” the Doctor demanded as he quickly came up to her.
“Yes, I’m fine. What’s going on?”
“We heard your scream,” Fitz said to her, as the Doctor looked her over.
“I fell. At least, I was falling when suddenly I was here.”
The Doctor gave her a piercing look before he turned and said, “We have to find Phaze right away. I think that she is about to be in a lot of danger.”
“Why?” Anji asked. “Where is she?”
Fitz grabbed Anji by the arm and got her walking so they wouldn’t loose the Doctor. “She’s with the Toymaker,” he explained.
“He’s using her,” the Doctor said. “Although I suspect that she is using him just as much. She’s working behind his back to get us safe but I think that now that the Toymaker thinks that we are all taken care of, he’s going to come looking for us again.”
“He means me and him,” Fitz said.
“Yes, he probably thinks that you’re dead now Anji and I’m off somewhere without any memory of who I am and Fitz is tied up like a puppet somewhere else.”
“But we’re all fine and together,” she said, a little confused on what was going on.
“That’s because Phaze is trying to help us. And when the Toymaker finds out that we’re not where he thinks we should be, he’s going to know that it’s because of Phaze.”
“And he’s not going to be very happy with her, is he?” Anji summed up.
“But how do we find her?” Fitz asked.
“I don’t…” but as the Doctor was talking he opened a door and walked through it. On the other side was another white room but this one was warehouse sized. Stretched in front of him were rows and rows of steel tables with a person lying inert on each one. In the center of the room was what looked like some giant control station where wires that were attached to each of the people all led to.
“…Know,” he finished as Fitz and Anji came in behind him.
“What is this?” Anji asked.
“I think it’s what we’re looking for,” the Doctor said as he began moving forward again.
The large control column in the center had a domed shaped top where charges of electricity gently licked the inside in regular and even patterns.
“What is it, Doctor? And who are all of these people?” Anji asked.
“It’s some type of control center for all of these people’s minds,” the Doctor answered as he continued to make his way towards the center. “They are all telepaths that the Toymakers has taken. He’s connected them somehow and is using their powers himself.”
“That’s what you mean about Phaze then,” Anji said. “She’s hooked up to that thing too, only she’s helping us somehow even while the Toymaker is trying to use her against us.”
The Doctor smiled, “Exactly. Though how she’s able to bypass him is beyond me. By the looks of this, the Toymaker is siphoning off the conscious minds of the telepaths, leaving their powers in easy grasp for him.”
“Doctor!” Fitz called out. Both he and Anji turned and saw Fitz stopped, looking at a person a few feet to their right. “It’s Phaze!” he told them as they quickly joined him.
“Quick, can you wake her up?” Anji asked as she came up next to Fitz.
“I’m not sure,” Fitz said as he reached down to pull off the wires from his friend. But before he was able to touch them, the Doctor grabbed his hands.
“Not yet, Fitz,” he told him.
“Why? You said we had to find her. That she was in danger.”
“And she is. But I think that if we disconnect her now, we won’t have any hope of getting out of here. Somehow she has taken control here, but if we remove her, then control goes right back to the Toymaker. We have to disable his advantage before we can wake her up.”
“How?” asked Anji.
“We need to shut that thing down,” the Doctor said as he pointed to the control that they were nearly next to now. “Stay here. I’m going to see what I can do.”
The Doctor turned and went over to the controls, examining them closely.
“HOW CAN THIS BE!” a voice roared around them.
“You’re supposed to be dead or disposed of!” A very angry Toymaker appeared between the Doctor and his companions.
“We’re not really here you know, it’s just all in your head,” the Doctor told him as he turned to face the Toymaker.
“I left you empty, Doctor,” the Toymaker nearly growled. “And you!” he said spinning around pointing at Anji, “You were dead. I watched you fall!”
“But you didn’t watch me hit,” she replied.
“And I left you tied up, out of the way,” he said pointing and Fitz.
Fitz shrugged, “I got cut free.”
“How! HOW! I control everything here! I AM IN CHARGE!”
“Not any more, I think,” the Doctor said as he pulled a large lever on the control. There was the sound of power winding down as the electricity that licked the inside of the dome suddenly discharged and spread down the wires to the bodies on the tables.
“NO!” the Toymaker screamed.
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “I’ve released them, and they are not going to be very happy with you.”
The bodies all arched with the sudden jolt of electricity and then relaxed again. Only a moment later, they slowly began to move and flex hardly used muscles. It was like watching Frankenstein’s monster slowly come to life.
“No. They can’t. I control them. I am their master.”
“Not any more you’re not,” Phaze said as she too slowly sat up. “You only had control because they weren’t able to work together. But you made a mistake. You put someone in with them that was able to hear them. I can read minds and that is all that was in that ball where you shoved us. I was able to bring order to the chaos.”
The Toymaker looked around the room in fear as more and more of his victims came back to life.
“Phaze helped them to work together,” the Doctor said. “It was their lack of communication that prevented them from fighting you. But put together, their strength was more than a match to your will.”
The Toymaker was slowly backing away from the Doctor, getting closer to Fitz, Anji, and Phaze. Reaching out, Fitz grabbed the Toymaker and held him fast. “Going somewhere?” Fitz asked.
The Toymaker didn’t even bother to make a comment. He just simply vanished.
“Where’d he go?” Fitz asked.
“He knows that he can’t hang around here any more. He’s lost another round,” the Doctor said as he came back over to his companions.
He reached out to Phaze who sat on the edge of the table and placed a hand on her face. “Are you alright?” he asked her.
She nodded. “I will be. I just need some rest,” she said wearily.
“I imagine you do,” the Doctor said. He turned around and saw that many of the other people were coming around. Some of them were walking over to them.
One man came forward and looked past the Doctor to Phaze and said, “It was you, wasn’t it?”
Phaze looked at him and nodded. He smiled back at her. “Thank you. We were so confused and disjointed. Thank you for giving us order again.”
Phaze nodded and was going to say something, but a wave of weary dizziness struck her. Fitz reached out and steadied her as the Doctor turned to the people and said, “she helped you, but at a cost. It took all of her ability to bring you all to order and she’s very drained now.”
The man nodded as he said, “We understand. And thank you as well Doctor. She told us that you could help us and she was right. I think that one here could help you back to your ship where she can be comfortable again.” Stepping back, a woman stepped up beside him and came up to them. Another man followed her.
The woman placed a hand on Phaze and another on Fitz. Suddenly both disappeared. Anji gasped but the Doctor nodded and turned to the first man and said, “Can I help you at all? Or are you able to get back on your own?”
“We can manage, Doctor. And, tell Phaze thank you again from us.”
With that, the other man stepped over and took the Doctor in one hand and Anji in the other. The next thing they knew, they were standing outside the TARDIS and Fitz was helping Phaze inside.
“Take care, Doctor,” the man said to him before he vanished again.
“Doctor?” Anji said. “What about the Toymaker? Won’t he try to get them again?”
“He might. But he doesn’t stand a chance against all of them at once. He was only able to collect them before one at a time.”
“But he’s still out there. And I’m sure that he’s even angrier with you now.”
“Yes he is,” the Doctor admitted as he led Anji into the TARDIS. “But he’s not going to bother me again for a while, I think.”
“Why’s that?” Fitz asked.
“Because he’s going to have to devise an even worst treat for me and it’s going to be hard for him to top this one.”