This is a Doctor Who story that I wrote in early 2016, less than a year before the series explored similar superheroic themes in ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’. Hope you enjoy it and take it in the humorous manner in which it was intended. Meanwhile, in New York city…
Captain Miracle rose from his chair, his close fitting silver-blue costume struggling to contain his powerful muscular chest. His steely gaze swept over the assembled ranks of the Brigade of Justice, resplendent in their equally colourful costumes.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” his voice was like liquid velvet in a titanium mug; “As you know, we have been operating at a reduced capacity since Jupiter Joe returned to his home planet in order to free his people from the dread clutches of the evil Emperor Gargon. After much hard contemplation in my Fortress of Solitude, I have taken it upon myself, as chairperson of the Brigade of Justice, to appoint a replacement member.”
The assembled titans stirred in their seats. They didn’t much like change and they didn’t particularly like the idea of having a leader, but Captain Miracle had been democratically elected, so there wasn’t much they could do about it.
“Allow me to introduce you to…” he paused for dramatic effect; “The Doctor!”
All eyes turned to a darkened corner of the table where an unfamiliar figure was seated. He was a small crumpled man in a small crumpled linen jacket, offset with a brightly coloured paisley pattern tie and scarf. Even the Dragoneer, whose costume sported an ornate depiction if a huge fire-breathing dragon, thought that his question mark pullover was a bit OTT.
“Good evening,” the Doctor doffed his straw hat in greeting.
The Doctor’s presence ruffled a few feathers in the Brigade of Justice, not least with Condor Girl, who regarded him with a sneering glare. “And what is your power, little man?”
The Doctor exhaled theatrically. “Y’know, all kinds of things, but mainly confusion. Confusion and bafflement, that kind of thing.”
“Do you practice hypnotism?” questioned Mesmerica – Mistress of Mesmerism.
“Oh yes, I’m well into that,” nodded the Doctor. “But not in such a way that would tread on your toes, dear lady. Mainly I just sort of pass unnoticed-“
A snort of derision came from the chair where the Invisible Avenger sat.
“-And keep my powers hidden, if you know what I mean,” completed the Doctor.
There was a moment’s awkward silence.
The Knight Watchman suddenly turned towards Captain Miracle, the heavy black leather of his costume creaking like a thousand wrung wallets and his voice sounding like he’d been gargling broken glass. “What the hell were you thinking bringing this guy on board, Cap?”
The Captain spread his hands in a gesture of placation. “Now give the guy a chance. We’re all about equality and diversity here. I believe this gentleman has a lot to contribute to the Brigade of Justice.”
“Is that his costume?” sneered Condor Girl.
“If that is the costume that he has chosen,” said Captain Miracle fairly; “Then we should accept his lifestyle choice.”
“I do not like his name,” declared Robot Rex, who had remained silent up until this point in the conversation. “The Doctor does not project the appropriate air of heroic authority.”
The Doctor, who had been helping himself to the peanuts in the centre of the table – which all of the other heroes were pointedly avoiding – leaned back in his chair and flicked one into his mouth. “I’m open to suggestions,” he munched.
“Okay, he’s a man of mystery with all the question marks and stuff,” began Captain Miracle; “So how about Doctor Mystery?”
The Doctor shook his head. “I don’t care much for that.”
“Doctor Enigma,” suggested Mesmerica.
“Too much of a mouthful.”
“I’ve got it,” suggested the Dragoneer, “Doctor Who…?”
“No, that’s just awful.”
The Knight Watchman slammed his gloved fists on the table. “Goddamit! What difference does a name make? Just swear the guy in for cryin’ out loud and we can get on with our freakin’ business!”
Ever the diplomat, Captain Miracle agreed that they could sort out a name for the Doctor at a later stage. With great reverence, he went and brought a huge leather-bound ledger bearing the crest of the Brigade of Justice.
“This is our most sacred oath,” he opened the huge book in front of the Doctor. “You must swear allegiance to the Brigade of Justice if you are to join our ranks.”
The heroes looked on as the Doctor skimmed quickly over the oath, mumbling the words to himself as he traced them with his finger in the book. He chuckled slightly to himself.
“What’s the goddam hold-up?” boomed the Knight Watchman. “Just say the words.”
The Doctor smiled and shrugged his shoulders in a slightly embarrassed way. “Look, I’ll be honest with you people – I didn’t come here to join your Brigade of Justice.”
Slowly, and with great suspicion, the members of the Brigade began to rise from their chairs.
“I needed to get into your headquarters and this was the only way that I could think of,” the Doctor explained.
A figurative alarm bell sounded. Captain Miracle triggered a switch on his utility belt and heavy metal shutters slammed down over all the windows and doors.
In an instant, the members of the Brigade of Justice were out of their seats and in defensive mode. Captain Miracle raised his fists, ready to fight; Condor Girl spread her wings to an impressive breadth; sharp hackles raised on the back of the Dragoneer and his face became strange and reptilian; Robot Rex’s shoulders folded out, transforming into battle armour; Mesmerica – Mistress of Mesmerism weaved complex runes in the air with her slender fingers and the Knight Watchman pulled a pair of fear-some black batons from his backpack.
Invisible Avenger probably did something too, but it was difficult to determine what.
They surrounded the Doctor.
“Whoever you are and whatever you want,” growled the Knight Watchmen. “You won’t be leaving here in one piece.”
The Doctor gestured at the shutters. “I take it these are designed to withstand powers at least equal to your own?”
“They are,” nodded Captain Miracle.
“Excellent,” said the Doctor. He took a small device from his pocket and pressed a button on it. A loud CLACK sounded from the shutters, as if locks were shunting into place.
“Now we’re all trapped,” purred the Doctor.
The Captain worriedly flicked the switch on his belt but the shutters refused to re-open. “What did you do?”
The Dragoneer lunged for the Doctor, trying to grab the device, but with an ornate flourish, the Doctor made the device disappear like a stage magician.
“Amateur sleight-of-hand won’t help you,” snarled the Dragoneer. “Mesmerica can see right through your cheap magic tricks.”
But Mesmerica looked worried. “It’s… not there,” she stuttered. “That device is no longer in this room.”
“Ta-da!” smiled the Doctor.
“There must be a way out of this prison,” the Knight Watchman raised his batons. “How about I beat it out of him?”
“Now there’s no need for that,” objected the Doctor. “Now let’s all sit back down, have a nice cup of coffee and I’ll tell you why I’m here.
Nobody sat down and no coffee was forthcoming, but Captain Miracle agreed that they would listen to what the stranger had to say, in the interests of the Brigade’s policy of fairness.
“I am here,” the Doctor began; “because your organisation has been infiltrated.”
“Yes, by you,” said Condor Girl.
“No, no, no. Much earlier than that. There is an alien being among your ranks.”
“Ah, I see your misunderstanding,” Captain Miracle lowered his defences. “Jupiter Joe was a member of this group, but he’s returned to his home planet in order to free his-“
The Doctor cut him off mid-sentence. “Not Jupiter Joe. I’ve been to Jupiter – lovely planet, bit gassy. He was one of the good guys. No, this alien being is a shape-shifter, an evil sleeper agent intent on conquering the Earth. And where better to start than in the very ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?”
“I think we’d know if there was an alien in here,” said Condor Girl dismissively.
“Would you?” queried the Doctor. “I’m an alien and you didn’t detect me.”
“Then how do we know that you’re not the guy?” snarled the Knight Watchman.
“Because if I was an alien shape-shifter intent on infiltrating your ranks, then taking on the appearance of a complete stranger and alerting you to my existence almost immediately would be an incredibly stupid plan.”
The Brigade had to agree that the Doctor had a point.
The Doctor began to pace the room. “Now, with all your amazing powers, I’ve not doubt at all that the six of you could work out for your selves who is the alien. However, the alien will always lie and mislead, so you could end up going round in circles!”
“But you can work out who it is?” asked Captain Miracle.
“Well, I can tell you who it’s not for a start,” explained the Doctor. “The Invisible Avenger. Our shape-shifter can alter his physical appearance to show the outer image of anyone but he can’t emulate transparency. So, with his unique gift, the Invisible Avenger is out of the equation.”
“Phew!” sighed the Invisible Avenger.
“This is like that Twilight Zone episode,” grimaced the Dragoneer; “Would the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”
“Yes,” smiled the Doctor. “Only in that they never did identify the Martian and they all died in a bus crash. Spoilers, by the way.”
“So, when did all this happen?” the Knight Watchman demanded. “How long has this alien infiltrator been among us?”
“Not very long at all,” the Doctor explained. “In fact, I think it would be safe to say that it has only really come among you in the last couple of weeks.”
“What about the body?” asked the Dragoner.
The Doctor was confused. “Body…?”
“The body,” stressed the Dragoneer. “The body of whoever this thing from another world has taken over. Where is it?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Probably disintegrated I would expect. Or eaten.”
“Eaten?” Mesmerica looked very shocked. “What kind of a shape changing alien creature is this exactly.”
“A particularly nasty one,” explained the Doctor with undisguised relish.
Robot Rex took a step forward. “May I there-for eliminate myself from suspicion?” he asked. “My outer shell is composed of Indestructium Alloy™ and consequently both indigestible and undisintegratable.”
The Doctor raised a finger. “A very pertinent point, Mr Rex. Your robot body could not be disposed of without a trail of evidence, so you can indeed be eliminated from the list of suspects.”
The members of the Brigade of Justice looked round at each other to see who was left. “Which leaves us with Captain Miracle, Condor Girl, The Dragoneer, Mesmerica and the Knight Watchman.”
“This is a crock,” growled the Knight Watch-man. “Why are we even listening to this guy? He turns up here and tells us that one of us is an alien. We don’t know who he is or where he came from!”
Captain Miracle turned on his colleague. “You seem very eager to dismiss, Knight Watchman.”
“Now wait a minute,” growled the black clad superhero. “Are we really gonna let this guy turn us against each other?”
“That’s not my intention at all,” protested the Doctor.
“But you’re not discouraging it,” said Condor Girl.
“Well, naturally not,” purred the Doctor. “For only though conflict can the interloper be tricked into revealing himself… or herself.”
Robot Rex moved across the room to a huge computer bank which dominated one whole wall of the chamber. “The Brigade’s supercomputer LEXUS will perform a scan of this entire room and reveal who is the non-human among us.”
The Doctor shook his head. “That won’t work. The shape shifter has a uniquely complex genetic structure – it duplicates its victim down to the smallest DNA strand.”
“Very convenient,” snarled Condor Girl.
“However,” the Doctor continued. “There is a way that we can use LEXUS to detect the alien. It has travelled in space and has therefore picked up a unique radiation signature. If you allow me to reconfigure your supercomputer, I can make the necessary changes to detect that radiation signature.”
Captain Miracle stepped forward, suddenly concerned. “Now, wait just one cotton-picking minute. We’ve listened to what you have to say very patiently, but you must be aware that if you reconfigure the core processor of LEXUS, you will have to lower all of the defences of Brigade HQ, leaving us vulnerable to any kind of attack.”
“That’s insane,” snapped the Dragoneer. “We can’t allow that.”
Disquiet spread among the assembled members of the Brigade and the Doctor did his best to calm them. “You will all be perfectly safe. While the defences are down – which will only be for a moment – you will be under my protection.”
“Your protection?” sneered the Knight Watchman. “What can you do?”
“Individually, very little,” confirmed the Doctor. “But I told you I’m an alien, didn’t I? Well, I’m actually a representative of the secret police force on my home planet of Proxillion and a highly armed battle cruiser from the Proxillion space fleet is in orbit around this planet, offering us its full and total protection.”
An uncertain silence fell over the room.
“Proxillion?” said Robot Rex finally. “Sounds made up to me.”
The Doctor turned on the mechanical man. “Well, naturally you won’t have heard of it, but it’s a big deal over in Galaxy 4.”
“Really?” Robot Rex sounded unconvinced. He paced the room and lowered his mechanical body into one of the chairs. With a hiss of hydraulics, he crossed his metal legs. “Tell us all about Galaxy 4.”
For the first time, the Doctor’s confidence seemed to waver. “Well, it’s… y’know… beyond your understanding. There’s a lot of complicated political stuff going on.”
“I’d love to hear about it. I’m a big fan of politics,” said Robot Rex. “Let me just slip out of something a bit less comfortable.”
The heroes looked on in amazement as Robot Rex reached up and removed his head. Or, at least, what appeared to be his head. It was in fact a heavy metal helmet. And beneath the helmet, hair soaked with sweat, was the face of the Doctor.
“What the hell is going on?” exclaimed the Knight Watchman.
“Is Robot Rex the shape shifter…?” asked a confused Mesmerica.
“Not really,” explained the Doctor’s face on Rex’s body. “In fact, you were right when you said that the Doctor could be the shape shifter – well, what you thought was the Doctor. The real Doctor is me, disguised as Robot Rex.”
“I’m confused,” said Mesmerica, expressing the general demeanour of the room.
“Allow me to explain,” said Doctor/Rex, rising from his chair. “I am the real Doctor; a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey – I don’t know where this Proxillion nonsense came from – and I’ve been in pursuit of this shape shifter for months now. I met the real Robot Rex on his way back from Jupiter and told him about my predicament. He reasoned quite rightly that the alien would target the Brigade of Justice and together we worked out this plan.”
The real Doctor, still part dressed as Robot Rex, circled the fake Doctor, who now looked shifty and uneasy.
“I have to admit,” said the real Doctor; “I was as surprised as anyone to discover that the shape shifter was impersonating me. A quite surprisingly complex double bluff!”
“You flatter me, Doctor,” said the fake Doctor, his face blurring and his clothes seeming to melt away. As the others watched the person that they had known as the Doctor gradually morphed into a blue-skinned octopoid creature with a single pulsating red eye in the centre of its bulbous head.
“He’s an ugly sumbitch,” commented the Knight Watchman, adopting an action stance. “I can see why he would want to change his appearance!”
The Doctor continued. “I had to be certain of his intentions, of course. When he started to talk about lowering all of the Brigade’s defences, there could be no doubt.”
“All very clever,” the shape shifter spoke in a warbling hiss. “But I did not come here either unarmed or alone. There is a ship in orbit around the earth, but it contains an invasion force of my fellow shape shifters, poised to attack the earth.
The Doctor smiled. “I know,” he said and triggered a communicator in his mechanical armour.
The scanner screen above the main table flickered into life, showing Robot Rex – the real Robot Rex – at the controls of his Brigade Ultrajet.
“Do you have them in your sights, Rex?” asked the Doctor.
“Affirmative,” replied Robot Rex on the screen.
“Then do what you judge is necessary to protect the Earth,” instructed the Doctor grimly.
Far up in Earth orbit, Robot Rex opened fire on the shape shifter invasion force. With an enormous ball of fire, the threat to the human race was eliminated utterly.
The shape changer hissed and bared its teeth. Immediately, the members of the Brigade of Justice went into offensive mode. The Doctor took a step back and let the heroes go into action.
It didn’t take the aggregation of superheroes long to deal with the interloper; Captain Miracle advanced on him with a deluge of righteous super-powered punches, while the Dragoneer slashed at him with sharp claws. Mesmerica weaved a complex spell to keep him subdued, while Condor Girl swept down from the ceiling and dropped heavy things on his head.
It didn’t take long before the octopoid fiend was trussed up in an unbreakable rope from the Knight Watchman’s utility belt and looking very sorry for himself.
“Now that this dude is sorted out,” said the Knight Watchman, panting for breath; “What do we do with him?” He pointed a gloved finger at the Doctor.
Robot Rex appeared on the screen once more. “You must not be hard on the Doctor,” he instructed. “He was working with me to capture the alien creature. The requirement for subterfuge was unfortunate, but it was the only way to lull the creature into a false sense of security.”
Captain Miracle approached the Doctor with a hand to be shaken. “Well, I guess we owe you some thanks, Doctor,” he said. “You weren’t wrong when you said that you were a master of confusion.”
“Actually, that was him,” corrected the Doctor, indicating the alien. “But I’ll take the compliment anyway.”
“You’re a handy man to have around,” said Captain Miracle as he helped the Doctor out of his Robot Rex disguise. “Any chance you might want to join us for real?”
The Doctor shook his head. “No thanks, Captain. This superhero business is all a bit too noisy for me.”