Pay the Piper was a comic story published in the 468th issue of Doctor Who Magazine. The story ends on a shocking twist as the Doctor loses the TARDIS after putting it up for auction in a plan to save Clara.
Part 1: Pay the Piper Edit
The Doctor and Clara have arrived at the Temple of Infinite Profit on the Seventh Moon of Koth, maintained by the money-worshipping religious order known as the Mandalax Tide. This religious order has a collection plate the size of Birmingham, and it has acquired a Matter Translation Portal. On the psychic paper, the Doctor has received a message from the other side of the portal reading, "Have you heard the Piper pay?" Sensing the fear and desperation in the message, he and Clara enter the portal.
They emerge in the Obsidian Mainframe, where people can submit goods from anywhere in the galaxy; these goods are converted into energy, sold, and turned back into matter in a portal to the buyer. The Doctor and Clara are similarly information as opposed to matter right now, though death in the Mainframe applies to the real world as well.
Using his psychic paper, the Doctor is able to determine the approximate location of the message sender. As Londi Kalo drives the time travellers in his taxi, the Doctor expresses dislike for the money obsession prevailing in the Mainframe, though Clara points out the importance of money for healthy living.
The Doctor traces the message to Auction House #9999, an infamous building where people have been rumoured to enter without exiting. Londi, having already agreed to a full day with the Doctor and Clara, nervously enters alongside them.
Inside the Auction House, the travellers observe several bidders, including holographic heads of bidders who cannot afford being there in person. The Doctor repeats the physic paper's question to Steward Hazz, who gives him and Clara masks and escorts them to the Incognito assembly. The masks are actually encryption screens that block any form of identity trace, as no one wants to be seen there...
Mr Minus appears at the front of the room, selling a group of five telepaths known as the Kindred of Fel. To save the creatures from becoming food (the power of telepaths can supposedly be transferred by eating), the Doctor bids an absurdly high amount on them. Telepathically communicating with the Kindred, he discovers that Mr Minus took them from their home world and disallowed them from hearing each other, putting them in a state of perpetual loneliness. The Doctor threatens to have Mr Minus arrested, but Mr Minus responds by automatically engulfing his hand in fire. He repeatedly swipes at the Doctor, getting him into pieces and eventually destroying him altogether...
Part 2: Sweet sorrow Edit
An angry Clara steps on stage and demands Mr Minus bring the Doctor back, a task he claims impossible. Instead, Mr Minus offers Clara for bidding.
Despite Mr Minus' claim, however, thanks to his use of data regeneration (comparable to cloning, but used on digital codes) the Doctor miraculously assembles himself nearby Londi's car. Thanks to his link with the Kindred, the Doctor is able to see the selling of Clara, who the bidders view as delicious-looking. The Doctor realises her only chance of escape would come if he bought her, and he orders Londi to take him where he came from.
Meanwhile, Strul expresses disbelief at Lakka's claim that the Mainframe is limitless. After all, it has never dealt with any real crisis, and may not know how to cope were one to come...
As Mr Minus explains to Clara, he came from a society that appreciated beauty and shared everything. Mr Minus was frustrated by his lack of assets of his own, and became obsessed with greed. After telling this short tale, Mr Minus starts the bidding for Clara.
Suddenly, the TARDIS arrives on the scene. The Doctor offers to bid the TARDIS starting at only five pounds, and the bids start coming in incredibly fast. After a few mere minutes, the bids are in the quadrillions, flooding the system and putting the entire Mainframe in danger of crashing. To cope with this potential danger, Lakka is forced to shut down all operating systems.
Even without power, Mr Minus has ways of killing the Doctor. But before he does so, Clara frees the Kindred from their chains, allowing them to spread their thoughts. They send their feelings of pain, fear and loss to the entire audience, allowing it to share something for the first time. Mr Minus too appears to be recognising his true, sympathetic self for the first time. Seeing this potential catastrophe has also convinced Strul not to invest in the operation.
However, the Doctor's TARDIS gets its final bid. Just as the Doctor and Clara attempt to enter the vehicle, it vanishes...
Meanwhile, Lakka and Strul are discussing the Doctor. The latter notes that she purposefully pointed the Kindred in the Doctor's direction, as the two beings transform into their real selves: Danny Fisher and Annabel Lake respectively. Patrick Lake explains that they can now monitor every transaction in the Obsidian Mainframe. He also notes that the aliens were saved, and the Doctor gets a heroic moment... "everybody wins."
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