The Sound of Our Voices was the second and final part of the fourth story of the Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor comic story series published in 2014. It saw ARC joining the TARDIS crew and completed the backstory of August Hart.
Still trapped aboard the SERVEYOUinc research satellite, Alice and the Doctor must unravel the mystery of the creature codenamed "ARC" — while staying one step ahead of its whisper-quiet rampage through the station!
But there's something essential the Doctor's missing — something he's overlooked.
Can Alice help him see it, in time to save her life... or is the story of the Doctor's favorite sarcastic library assistant doomed to end in the icy depths of space?
In a toilet of the United System Research Base, a bulking strange shape towering above John Jones keeps saying: "ARC, ARC." Clearly impressed, Jones asks if it can play guitar. Just as the creature tries to touch Jones, Alice Obiefune shouts for him to move and sprays the creature from a fire extinguisher. With both the creature and Jones temporarily blinded, Alice tells the latter to go towards the sound of her voice and not let the creature touch him. Alice is happy she managed to save Jones' life, but he is not sure. He thinks the creature just wanted to be friends. Left alone in the toilet, the creature tries and with difficulty succeeds in repeating Alice's phrase: "the sound of my voice".
In the interrogation room, August Hart is pointing his gun at the Eleventh Doctor while Dr Janet Rutherford is hiding behind the Doctor's back. Holding his sonic screwdriver in his right hand, the Doctor says it will be hard to explain. Thinking that the Doctor pleads not to kill them, Hart begins outlining a rather standard cover-up story: Dr Rutherford is in league with the Doctor, they try to sabotage Dr Ballard's great work and Hart has to shoot them when they lunge for his weapon. The Doctor interrupts him, says that he meant explaining how he is going to disable his weapon. At that he indeed disables the weapon with a flick of the sonic screwdriver. Hart switches to hand-to-hand combat, but the Doctor expertly dodges his heavy punches, simultaneously asking what Hart is so worried about. Hart is completely focused on physically hurting the Doctor and does not notice Dr Rutherford sneaking from behind and knocking him out cold with his own now disabled weapon. She's afraid she has killed him, but the Doctor assures her that ten years later Hart is absolutely fine. As they leave Hart cuffed to the table, the Doctor shows interest in the "great work" of Dr Ballard. Since Dr Rutherford does not know, he proposes to investigate.
As Alice drags Jones away from the gents toilet, she explains that she was in the ladies when she heard the strange sounds ARC makes. She then rushed to Jones' help. ARC pursues them along the corridor, trying to repeat Alice's phrase again. Suddenly, at a junction, Alice and Jones bump into a security guard, who tells them "No running in the corridors! It's against the health and safety..." That's all he manages to utter before ARC's hand extends and grabs the guard's head. With his eyes bulging, the guard drops to the ground and lies without motion. ARC tries a new phrase now: "No running." Alice and Jones actively disagree.
Another security guard finds Hart in the soundproofed interrogation room and frees him from the cuffs. He also tells Hart the news that Chief Administrator Peter Cartwright is in a coma. Hart now has the operational control of the station.
The Doctor and Dr Rutherford reach the laboratory wing and find an enormous titanium vault-style door protected by a tenth-generation quantum-liquid-deadlock seal encryption blocking the entrance. Dr Rutherford is afraid that whatever attacked Rodney Mellors and others is still inside. And the Doctor confirms he wouldn't be able to break through the encryption with his sonic screwdriver. But the door turns out to be unlocked from inside, with a pass code. Dr Rutherford finds it strange as all people were evacuated from the wing.
They walk in to find a spacious room with a big square platform lined by white spheres, some of which are broken and exude white smoke, at the centre. Various remotely-operated instruments, including knives, pliers and syringes point at the platform from all directions. The Doctor tests the scientist asking to describe what she sees. Not suspecting a trick, the scientist repeats that she may not get all details right as she never saw this setup before. She then identifies the platform as a containment cube, a force-field for dangerous specimen. The white spheres are power cells, which are burned out, meaning that the field failed or was breached. The Doctor, however, was more interested in the "sharp pointy things". Dr Rutherford explains that these are probe units that can penetrate the holding field and deliver stimuli such as electric shock to the subject. For her, this is a normal testing facility. The Doctor is completely enraged by this description. To him, this is a torture chamber. He is extremely disappointed that Dr Rutherford can't see people behind the experiments conducted.
The angry Doctor marches to a computer and, using his screwdriver, quickly finds the relevant information. The file is deadlock encrypted except for the title. But the title is enough: Notes on Autonomous Reasoning Center. This explains the "what", the room explains the "how" and the SERVEYOUinc logo in the corner of the screen answers the "who". The only remaining question is: "Why?"
Alice and Jones finally reach Hangar 18, where they left the TARDIS. But instead of the safety of the ship, they find Hart with a security detail blocking their way. Hart orders to shoot their kneecaps to get the Doctor's attention. Fortunately, at the same moment the Doctor walks into the hangar from the lab wing with Dr Rutherford in tow. This prevents any violence and, while Hart keeps threatening the Doctor, the latter calmly suggests that Alice and Jones' distress means they should expect a visitor soon. Indeed, ARC's massive bulk appears from the corridor leading to the rec room. Even the Doctor's companions are scared, and Hart starts ordering: "On my signal! Aim and..." With everyone's attention elsewhere, the Doctor pulls out the sonic screwdriver and repeats the trick of disabling everyone's weapons. He is proper angry now and promises that neither ARC will kill anyone nor will the Doctor kill Hart, provided that he stands down. Taken aback, Hart obeys and decides to let the Doctor deal with ARC.
Having explained how things stand to Hart using his language, the Doctor turns to ARC and suggests that what one needs is "language communication". ARC repeats the word "Signal", uttered previously by Hart. The Doctor continues that ARC is not an it, it's people, a sentient being. More than that, the "Autonomous Reasoning Center", of which ARC is an abbreviation, is a walking and talking mind. The Doctor explains that the accusations against Dr Rutherford were intended to mask years of torture of ARC.
Alice asks why then ARC was trying to kill Jones. But there were no deaths, the Doctor corrects her, just comas. "ARC", says ARC and extends a gigantic hand over the Doctor. Unperturbed, the Doctor continues thinking aloud. What could ARC want from Jones? Alice suggests it could be revenge. But revenge is too complicated and human, the Doctor explains. A mind like ARC wants to learn. All ARC was trying to do was learning information from others. Comas were just an unfortunate side effect.
And it seems that ARC is indeed beginning to learn to communicate verbally. As in confirmation, with some difficulty ARC manages to say "the sound of my voice". The Doctor says that now ARC is trying to understand others by talking to them. Dr Rutherford surprises earns the Doctor's praise by finishing his thought that, when you understand, you don't need to destroy.
At this, the Doctor extends his hand to ARC and introduces himself. Very carefully ARC shakes the Doctor's hand and replies with flawless politeness.
Cartwright is back in his office and quite happy that the other victims have also been restored from coma by ARC. He thinks that now that they found a way of communicating with the creature's mind, they can learn how its body works. Hart asks where ARC is. It turns out that the Doctor volunteered to escort it to Ballard's lab. As furious Hart explains that the Doctor has nothing to do with the Ministry, they hear the sounds of the TARDIS dematerialising. Cartwright is not too bothered by this because his job is secure.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor and Alice watch how Jones shows ARC around. Alice sees parallels between ARC and the Doctor himself. She also understands better now why he takes companions. The Doctor suggests to take her to her landlord, but she decides to travel some more first.
- Eleventh Doctor
- Alice Obiefune
- John Jones
- August Hart
- Dr Janet Rutherford
- Peter Cartwright
- United System Research Base security guards
- The Doctor disables Hart's weapon with his sonic screwdriver using harmonic resonance and counterfrequency.
- The Doctor once saw a tandem penny farthing.
- The Doctor considers the titles of Around the World in 80 Days and Murder on the Orient Express to be very informative.
- Alice Obiefune thinks that video games and Turkey Twizzlers are responsible for people doing less sports.
to be added
Original print details
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- John Jones is staring at ARC in the toilet while the Doctor and Dr Rutherford are staring down the barrel of August Hart's weapon. (COMIC: Whodunnit?)
- The Doctor reassures Dr Rutherford that she hasn't killed Hart because he'll meet the Doctor again ten years later. Later he tells Hart to expect disappointment and corn dogs in his future. (COMIC: The Friendly Place)
- The visit from ARC landed Cartwright, Mellors and others in a coma. (COMIC: Whodunnit?)
- Experiments on ARC were led by Dr Ballard. (COMIC: Whodunnit?)
- Alice Obiefune surprises Jones by calling him a twenty-year-old rock star from the sixties. (COMIC: What He Wants...)
- The Doctor quotes himself, saying "There will be no battle here." (TV: Battlefield)
- Dr Rutherford says that, when you understand, you don't need to destroy. This is a repudiation of Hart's earlier statement that you do not need to understand if you can destroy. (COMIC: Whodunnit?)
- When the Doctor was refusing to take Alice back home, she accused him that he takes people to travel with him as pets, as strays. (COMIC: Whodunnit?) Now she understands that he needs to be able to see things through somebody else's eyes. And for that he needs friends, not pets or strays.
- Seemingly talking about ARC, Alice describes a weird alien who escaped from his cage to see the world. Based on what little the Doctor told her, she tactfully hints at his own fate. (AUDIO: The Beginning)
- Peter Cartwright refers to ARC as "the creature's mind" and mentions its body. The Doctor will later learn whose mind ARC is. (COMIC: Four Dimensions)