“The only memory I can leave you with is the information you’ll need when I regenerate.”
“When you, Mom, and Uncle Jack got teleported into killer TV shows.”
“Yes. You’re going to wake up on the TARDIS alone, but don’t panic. The Old Girl will be able to show you what is going on in each show. It’s important that you pay attention because when I escape is when your vortex manipulator will start working again.”
“And no matter what, you can’t take the vortex in my place, no matter how much you want to. My regeneration is a fixed point in time, I need to die there.”
“Remember, Lilith, your mother and I love you.”
“I love you too, Dad. I’m ready."
Lilith groaned as she forced her eyes open, head pounding. What the hell had happened?
Transmat, Game Station, Dad’s regeneration.
She frantically checked her vortex manipulator, desperately trying to search for one of her companions’ bio-signatures. It didn’t work, she couldn’t even teleport out of the TARDIS. Lilith was stuck.
She swore in Gallifreyan.
Turning to the console, she checked the monitor. It was flickering between three different shots. One showed Rose, one showed Jack, and the last showed the Doctor. All of them were unconscious.
Lilith’s stomach tied itself in knots. Nothing good was going to come of this adventure.
The Doctor- Big Brother
The Doctor’s eyes snapped open “What is it? What's happening?” He fell out of a small spinning cupboard.
“Oh my God!” A blond girl in sweatpants and a sweatshirt came rushing over. “I don't believe it! Why'd they put you in there? They never said you were coming.” She helped him stand.
“What happened? I was…” He immediately fell over again, face first onto a rug.
“Careful now. Oh! Oh, mind yourself! Oh, that's the transmat. It scrambles your head. I was sick for days. All right? So, what's your name then, sweetheart?”
The Doctor was very unsteady on his feet. “The Doctor, I think. I was, er. I don't know, what happened?” Back in the TARDIS, Lilith flinched. That wasn’t normal.
“You got chosen,” the girl told him.
“Chosen for what?” the Doctor asked.
“You're a housemate. You're in the house. Isn't that brilliant?”
Over by a pink screen with a stylized eye on it, a young man in a t-shirt pouted. “That's not fair. We've got eviction in five minutes! I've been here for all nine weeks, I've followed the rules, I haven't had a single warning, and then he comes swanning in.”
A dark-skinned young lady in pink shirt joined. “If they keep changing the rules, I'm going to protest, I am. You watch me, I'm going to paint the walls.”
“Would the Doctor please come to the Diary Room?” A mechanical voice requested over a loudspeaker.
The Doctor went through a door with the stylized eye on it and sat in a large red chair.
“You are live on channel forty four thousand. Please do not swear,” the voice said.
“You have got to be kidding.”
Rose- The Weakest Link
Rose woke up on a studio floor. A dark-skinned man was bending over her. “What happened?” she asked, dizzily.
“It's all right. It's the transmat,” the man said. “Does your head in. Get a bit of amnesia. What's your name?”
“Rose. But where's the Doctor?”
The man ignored the question. “Just remember do what the android says. Don't provoke it. The android's word is law,” he warned.
Rose frowned. “What do you mean, android? Like a robot?”
“Positions, everyone! Thank you!” a woman yelled.
“Come on, hurry up.” The man helped Rose stand. “Steady, steady.”
She is wobbly on her feet. “I was travelling, with the Doctor, a girl named Lilith, and a man called Captain Jack. The Doctor wouldn't just leave me.”
“That's enough chat!” the woman shouted. “Positions! Final call! Good luck!”
“But I'm not supposed to be here.” Rose protested, following the man.
“It says Rose on the podium. Come on,” he said.
Rose took her place behind the podium labeled with her name. She was next to the man, whose podium was labeled ‘Roderick’. “Hold on, I must be going mad. It can't be. This looks like the—”
“Oh my God, the android. The Anne Droid!” she gasped.
Light shone on the robot. “Welcome to The Weakest Link!”
Jack- What Not to Wear
“Here we go again. We've got our work cut out for us.”
“I don't know. He's sort of handsome. Has a good lantern jaw.”
“Lantern jaws are so last year.”
A pair of droids- one tall and thin, one short and curvy- had Jack lying on an examination table. There was a rack of clothes nearby. Jack pushed himself up onto his arms warily. “Sorry, nice to meet you, ladies, but where exactly am I?”
“We're giving you a brand new image,” tall droid said.
Jack struggled to sit up. “Oh, hold on, I was with the Doctor. Why, is there something wrong with what I'm wearing?”
“It's all very twentieth century. Where did you get that denim?” short droid questioned.
“A little place in Cardiff. It was called… the Top Shop.” Jack said.
“Ah! Design classic.”
“But we're going to have to find you some new colors. Maybe get rid of that Oklahoma Farm Boy thing you've got going on.”
“Just stand still and let the defabricator work its magic.”
“What's a defabricator?” Jack asked. A beam shot at him that disintegrated all, his clothes. Lilith looked away from the monitor. Ew. “Okay. Defabricator. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Am I naked in front of millions of viewers?”
“Absolutely!” the two droid chorused.
“Ladies, your viewing figures just went up.”
Lilith face palmed.
The Doctor- Big Brother
The Doctor was checking a door with the sonic screwdriver. “I can't open it!” he said through gritted teeth
“It's got a deadlock seal,” the blond told him. “Ever since Big Brother five hundred and four when they all walked out. You must remember that.”
The Doctor walked over to an alcove with a picture in it. He scanned it with the sonic. “What about this?
“Oh, that's exoglass. You'd need a nuclear bomb to get through.”
“Don't tempt me,” the Doctor muttered.
“I know you're not supposed to talk about the outside world, but you must've been watching,” the girl whispered. “Do people like me? Lynda. Lynda with a Y; not Linda with an I. She got forcibly evicted because she damaged the camera. Am I popular?”
“I don't remember,” the Doctor said.
“Oh, but does that mean I'm nothing? Some people get this far just because they're insignificant. Doesn't anybody notice me?” Lynda with a Y looked legitimately worried.
“No, you're… you're nice. You're sweet. Everybody thinks you're sweet.”
Lynda smiled. “Oh, is that right? Is that what I am? Oh, no one's ever told me that before. Am I sweet? Really?”
“Yeah,” the Doctor nodded, “dead sweet.”
He looked over his shoulder and frowned. “It's a wall. Isn't there supposed to be a garden out there or something?”
“Don't be daft. No one's got a garden anymore.” Lynda said. “Who's got a garden? Don't tell me you've got a garden.”
“No, I've just got the TARDIS,” the Doctor said absently. His eyes widened. “I remember.”
“That's the amnesia!” Lynda cheered. “So what happened? Where did they get you?”
“We'd just left Raxacoricofallapatorius. Then we went to Kyoto. That's right, Japan in 1336, and we only just escaped. We were together, we were laughing, and then there was this light, this white light coming through the walls, and then… and then I woke up here.”
“Yeah, that's the transmat beam. That's how they pick the housemates.” Lynda explained.
The Doctor was silent for a moment. “Oh, Lynda with a Y. Sweet little Lynda. It's worse than that. I'm not just a passing traveller. No stupid little transmat gets inside my ship. That beam was fifteen million times more powerful, which means this isn't just a game. There's something else going on.”
He went over to one of the eyes on the walls, which Lilith assumed were cameras. “Well, here's the latest update from the Big Brother house. I'm getting out. I'm going to find my friends, and then I'm going to find you.”
Rose- The Weakest Link
“Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen. Thank you, people. Transmitting in twelve, eleven, ten…”
Rose tried to protest again. “But I need to find the Doc—”
“Just shut up and play the game.” Roderick snapped.
“All right, then. What the hell, I'm going to play to win!” Rose decided.
“Three, and cue!”
Anne Droid started up. “Let's play The Weakest Link. Start the clock. Agorax, the name of which basic food stuff is an anagram of the word 'beard'?”
“Bread,” a man answered.
“Correct. Fitch, in the Pan Traffic Calendar, which month comes after Hoob?”
“Is it Clavadoe?” a woman replied.
“No, Pandoff. Rose, in maths, what is 258 minus 158?”
“One hundred!” declared Rose.
Roderick stood up straighter. “Bank.”
“Which letter of the alphabet appears in the word dangle but not in the word gland?”
“E,” he responded.
“Correct. Colleen, in social security, what D is the name of the payment given to Martian Drones?”
“Default,” another woman said.
“Correct. Broff, the Great Cobalt Pyramid is built on the remains of which famous Old Earth Institute?”
“Er, Touchdown?” another man guessed.
Rose giggled and Lilith rolled her eyes.
“No, Torchwood. Agorax, in language, all five examples of which type of letter appear in the word facetious?”
“Vowels,” the first man said.
“Correct. Fitch, in biology, which blood cells contain iron? Red or white?”
“No, red. Rose, in the holovid series 'Jupiter Rising', the Grexnik is married to whom?”
“How should I know?” Rose laughed. Lilith cringed.
“No, the correct answer is Lord Drayvole. Rodrick, in maths, what is nine squared?”
Lilith bit her lip. Things were not boding well for her mother.
Jack- What Not to Wear
Jack was posing for the two android in a new outfit.
“It’s the buccaneer look. Little dash of pirate and just a tweak of President Schwarzenegger,” tall droid said.
“Er, not sure about the vest. What about a little bit of color to lift it?” Jack suggested.
“Absolutely not!” short droid chided. “Never wear black with color. It makes the color look cheap and the black look boring. Now, let's talk jackets.”
“I kind of like the first one,” the captain commented.
“No, that's a bit too much Hell's Angel. I think I like the shorter one. Look, waist length, nice and slimming, shows off the bum.”
Jack shrugged. “Works for me.”
“Once we've got an outfit, we can look at the face. Ever thought about cosmetic surgery?”
“I've considered it, yeah. A little lift around the eyes, tighten up the jaw line. What do you think?”
“Oh, let's have a bit more ambition. Let's do something cutting edge.”
Lilith noticed that the taller droid had exchanged its forearm for a chainsaw. Uh oh.
Rose- The Weakest Link
“So, Rose,” the Anne Droid turned to her. “What do you actually do?”
“I just travel about a bit.” Rose shrugged. “Bit of a tourist, I suppose.”
“Another way of saying unemployed.”
Rose frowned. “No.”
“Have you got a job?”
“Well, not really, no, but—”
“Then you are unemployed. And yet, you've still got enough money to buy peroxide. Why Fitch?”
“Er, I think she got a few of the questions wrong, that's all.” Rose said, a bit miffed about the peroxide comment.
“Oh, you'd know all about that.”
“Well, yeah, but I can't vote for myself, so it had to be Fitch.” Fitch was sobbing silently. Rose looked at her, confused. “I'm sorry, that's the game. That's how it works. I had to vote for someone.”
“Let me try again.” Fitch pleaded. “It was the lights and everything. I couldn't think.”
“In fact,” the Anne Droid said, “with three answers wrong, Broff was the weakest link in that round, but it's votes that count.”
“I'm sorry. Please. Oh God, help me!” Fitch cried.
“Fitch you are the weakest link. Goodbye!” A barrel came out of Anne's mouth and a beam disintegrated Fitch.
“And we've gone to the adverts!” the floor manager announced. “Back in three minutes.”
Rose stared at the place where the woman had been only moments before. “What's that? What's just happened?”
“She was the weakest link,” Roderick explained. “She gets disintegrated. Blasted into atoms.”
“But I voted for her!” she said disbelievingly. “Oh my- This is sick. All of you, you're just sick! I'm not playing this.”
“I'm not playing!” the young man called Broff yelled. “I can't do it. I'm not. Please, somebody let me out of here.”
The Anne Droid came to life. “You are the weakest link.” Broff ran across the studio, but got zapped by Anne. “Goodbye.”
“Don't try to escape.” Roderick warned Rose. “It's play or die.”
Lilith’s eyes stayed glued to the screen as she watched more horrors unfold.
In the Big Brother house, the dark-skinned woman was voted off. With tearful goodbyes, she stepped through the door to her death. “Evicted from life.” Lynda had said. Lilith repeated the words with disgust. How on earth were these games considered legal?
Jack, to Lilith’s extreme discomfort, got his clothes defabricated again. The two droids turned out to be complete psychos who wanted to cut his head off and apparently replace it with a dog head. Jack managed to pull a gun out of nowhere, at least Lilith hoped it was nowhere, and kill the droids.
By the time he had done that, the Doctor had decided to get forcibly evicted by damaging a camera with the sonic. It proved to be a good escape plan, as the disintegrator beam didn’t go off. He offered Lynda his hand and they exited the house together.
When I escape is when your vortex manipulator will start working again.
Lilith pressed a button on the tech on her wrist and was transported to the Doctor’s side. “Uncle!” she cried, throwing her arms around him in a hug that he immediately reciprocated.
“You’re safe,” he breathed.
She pulled back and looked at him with worried, chocolate colored eyes. “No. None of us are.”