The Twelve Doctors (2013)

Dedicated to Mr. Battle, on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of one of the greatest television works of art ever written, Doctor Who.

    "Why must we wear these ridiculous numbers?" asked an indignantly multi-colored Six to Seven, who was fiddling with his question mark umbrella handle.    
    "I suppose it's a way of simplifying things," said Seven, over-emphasizing his already-heavy Scottish brogue for dramatic effect.  "Still, it does make one wonder…"
    "Wonder what?" interrupted Five, perhaps a bit more sharply than he had intended...after all, the indignation of having to wear a vegetable on his lapel was bad enough, but having to wear faux-celery was too close to faux-celebrity for his liking.
    "It makes one wonder if the number..."
    Seven trailed away sentimentally.
    " all they will remember..."
    Like a lost puppy dog, the Scotsman rolled his eyes toward the heavens as he continued his lament.
    " know..."
    He almost gulped.
    "...when we're gone?"
    "Don't be morbid," admonished Six, the garish attempt at his usual Time Lord clown-suit bulged by his now-prodigious girth. 
    "Besides, I'm told there is a very good chance..."
    With an exaggeratedly sarcastic deference, he announced the Good News like an underpaid trumpeteer proclaiming the arrival of his King.
    "...'His Highness'..."
    Magnanimously, he waved his hand.
    "...will make an appearance."
    Interrupting from the doorway and clad in his usual hat and scarf, Number Four proclaimed his arrival in his usual, most dramatic fashion.
    "What, Christ is coming to dinner, too?"
    His profound basso voice rumbled the walls to their very timbers as he grinned salaciously.
    "No one told me this was going to be 'The Last Supper'."
    "Don't get him started," mumbled Eleven.  "You know how he is about religion."  He pointed with his prodigious chin as he tugged at his tweed lapels.  "Tommy used to be a monk, you know."
    "Kiss up," said Ten, smacking the fez off Eleven's head.  "What, did you google him before coming here, just to drop some trivia on us?"  Sarcastically, he snorted.  "Always trying to impress…"
    "Now, now," said Nine, bending over to pick up the displaced fez.  "Let's keep the domestics outside, thanks."  
    Eleven snatched the fez from Nine.
    "Oh, you should talk," he said to his benefactor's ear-to-ear 'Northern' grin.  "If it weren't for you snogging Captain Jack, setting the precedent, so to speak..."
    He almost whined as he glanced at Ten.
    "...the two of us would've had a much easier go of it…"
    Eleven straightened his bow tie and sniffed indignantly.
    "…with the ladies."
    "As if," snorted Ten.
    He rolled back on his heels.
    "You might impress the eleven-year-olds with that bow tie..."
    Snarking a grimace of a grin, he squinted at his successor.
    "...but lock you in a room with a real lady..."
    He trolled.
    "...and you wouldn't know what to do with your sonic screwdriver."
    "Speaking of screwdrivers..."
    Coughing from a corner of the room, Number Four inquired most politely with a toss of his multi-colored scarf.
    "...where's the barkeep?"
    Blinking his famously bulging eyes, he nodded sagaciously.
    "I could stand a pint or four right about now."
    "I see they gave you your number, too," said Eight, empathetically inspecting Four's medallion with a passing smirk.  "How charming."
    "Indeed," said Four, easing his weary old frame into his chair at the table.  "You might say they've got us ordered for St. Peter, with me being next in line for the 'pearly gates'…"
    Offering a flash of a lethal smile, he grinned knowingly.
    "...but it might be the other way 'round..."
    He winked at Eleven.
    ", cradle-bait?"
    Four barked out a laugh, beaming his famous teeth.
    Interrupting from the rafters came an insightful yet ponderously inquisitive glare.
    "If that's true, then I'll be trouble," said Twelve, another Scotsman, to Four.  "I may not be as elderly as yourself, but neither am I quite so spry as my illustrious predecessor."
    "Pish, tosh," said Eleven.  "You've got plenty of gas left in the tank."  He smiled slyly.  "Why, you're just getting started!"  Like a fanbois, he nudged closer.  "Tell us, how goes the filming?  Give us a hint, eh?  No doubt you'll be searching for Gallifrey next series?" he said, hands engaged in an overeager surgical scrub.
    "Lips," said Twelve, pulling index finger from corner to corner of his mouth.  "Sealed."
    "Not even The Seal of Rassilon could overrule Auntie Beep's non-disclosure agreement," intoned a dark figure, shadowed inside an alcove at the head of the table. 
    All nine actors turned to watch Eight-Point-Five emerge from out of nowhere.
    "Aw, hell, what is he doing here?" exclaimed Nine.  Shaking his head and snorting derisively, he moaned.  "Mister 'Johnny-Come-Lately' here to steal a little more thunder?"
    "Settle down," said Ten to Nine, brushing some lint off Nine's leather jacket.  "They did ask you to come back."
    "I don't do one-night stands," said Nine, slapping Ten's hand away.  "And I don't do bloody reunion specials."  He frowned.  "Might hurt 'me film reputation."
    "You're right," said Eight-Point-Five, voice quivering ever so slightly with age but lacking none of his reputed conviction.  "So they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel and settle for little old me."
    He smiled.
    "So sorry to disappoint."
    "Hold on, that's not what I meant…" said Nine.
    "Gentlemen," Eight-Point-Five began as he waved.  "If you will kindly take your seats..."
    All business, he intoned.
    "...we can begin."
    The nine actors took their places at the long Gothic table, leaving three tall-backed chairs empty.
    Draped over each of the three vacant seats were medallions labeled "1","2", and "3" respectively.
    Eight-Point-Five stood at the head of the table, cleared his throat, and loosened his cravat.
    "As you know, we represent something special.  Few television productions have survived half a century, and each of us has played a role in that success."
    Nine snorted.
    "Some more than others."
    "But the longevity of this show was not due entirely to its popularity," Eight-Point-Five continued, "...nor to its profitability for The Corporation."
    Looking closely at the assembly, he explained.
    "The show survived because it started with a plan."
    "What kind of plan?" said Six, frowning as he rubbed his pussy-cat lapel pin with a lazy finger.
    "The kind of plan that takes fifty years to implement," said Eight-Point-Five.
    Acknowledging the room, he nodded.
    "The twelve of you have all been chosen for a most daring mission..."
    Pausing for dramatic effect, he lowered his voice a notch.
    " that I will explain momentarily."
    "The twelve of us?" said Five.  "By my count, there's only ten..."
    He pointed.
    "...and that includes you."
    "I'm just a humble intermediary," said Eight-Point-Five.  "My purpose is to support..."
    He nodded.
    "...rather than to lead."
    "And what's this about a 'mission'?" said Eight, brushing a stray locket of his luxurious coif of hair out of his eye.  "I thought this was going to be a private party for some rich VIP."  With a heavy sigh, he propounded upon a common truth.  "Another 'wine and dine'."  With a glance down at his recently-modified pseudo-pirate uniform, he wondered aloud.  "Why else make us wear our old costumes?"
    "That's what I'm getting at," said Eight-Point-Five.  "But first..."
    With another ominously dangerous drop in the tone of his voice, he concluded.
    "...we will need to fill those empty chairs."
    "A little too late for that," said Ten, gazing at the vacant seats representing One, Two, and Three.
     "Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die..." recited Seven, somberly removing his off-white Panama hat and bowing his head, "...passing through to eternity."
    "Have a little faith, Hamlet," said Eight-Point-Five to Seven.  "When you operate in the circles I do, you start to see all sorts of..."  Mysteriously, he implied.  "...strange things."
    "Here we go again," Nine threw up his hands.  "Here comes the 'Mr. Big Movie Star' routine."  Ruffling his black leather jacket, he pointed angrily.  "You know, I've done my fair share of big-budget films, too!"
    Holding up his hands, Eight-Point-Nine surrendered.
    "That's not what I meant."
    He prodded.
    He opened the satchel bag hanging from his shoulder and removed a strange cube, placing it on the table.
    The actors stared in wide-eyed amazement.
    The cube was a paradox. 
    It was liquid and solid. 
    It was red and blue and green all at once, and then again, it was no color at all. 
    It glowed shadows...
        ...its substance was opaquely transparent...
   morphed into innumerable shapes while maintaining the properties...
                ...of a cube. 
    It roared in silent rage.  
    It was alive.
    "Remarkable!" said Four.  Tilting back the wide brim of his brown hat, he marveled openly.  "What is it?"
    Eight-Point-Five peered into the queerness of the cube, which cast a greenish light upon his grizzled features.
    "It is the Medium," he told them.
    "The Medium?" said Seven, twitching his white Panama hat in hand.  "As in a séance?"
    "Preposterous!" exclaimed Six.  Brusquely, he brushed aside Seven's question mark umbrella, which had somehow wandered into his domain, and scowled down at Seven.  "It's always death with you, isn't it?"  Dramatically, he condemned his successor.  "Death, death, death!"
    "Actually, he's right," said Eight-Point-Five.  "This is the Medium for the séance that we are about to perform."
    "About to perform?" said Eleven.  "You don't mean…" he said, glancing nervously at the empty chairs and half-rising from his own, "...oh, no, no, no, no, no!"
    "Sit, and calm yourself," said Eight-Point-Five to Eleven, placing a gnarled hand upon Eleven's bony shoulder and guiding him back into a seated posture.  "I thought with age came wisdom?"  Lightly, he admonished.  "Clearly, you must have learned something from your time playing the role?"
    "Sarcasm," deadpanned Twelve.  "I think we're gonna get along just fine."
    Eleven crumpled heavily into his chair with a wrinkled frown.  "I don't like this."  He mumbled.  "Not one bit."
    Eight-Point-Five lifted his medallion to the assembled actors, its blue and gold striped ribbon slung around his neck.  The medallion was a circular golden disk with an ornately engraved number "8.5" carved into its face in Time Lord script.  "The numbered medallions you are wearing are biometric devices," Eight-Point-Five said,  "Very advanced technology, so I'm told, delivered to us from some friends in one of the secret services in the 'States, though it's hard to keep track of exactly which one these days, there are so many of them."
    He almost chuckled before proceeding.
    "These medallions contain a collection of microscopic machines, so tiny that a billion of them would scarcely span the tip of a needle," he said, turning the medallion slightly to reflect the torch light.  "And these machines have been programmed..."
    He lifted a brow.
    " resurrect the dead."
    The audience of actors reacted with snorts of derision, some chuckles, and murmurings of disbelief.
    "Neat trick," said Six, straightening his coat, the one that looked as if a child had vomited an entire box of Crayola crayons upon it.  "'Resurrect the dead, indeed.  Why, if you could to that, perhaps you might apply your powers to a few of the careers in this room…"
    "Starting with yours," murmured Seven, then quickly changing gears said aloud, "Do you mean to imply that these mir-r-r-r-r-raculous machines will reanimate the physical r-r-r-r-remains?"  Curious, he leaned forward.  "Might we be visited by zombies this evening?" he said, his bushy eyebrows performing enthusiastic push-ups at the thought.
    "Not exactly," said Eight-Point-Five.  "In the same way that a cyborg is part man and part machine, those who are resurrected by use of this technology consist of material partly derived from original biological matter, such as DNA and other such structures, and partly derived from supercomputer projections."  He began to pace the perimeter of the room like a lecturing professor, passing behind the seated actors.  "Consider this:  It is no secret that an enormous volume of information is being collected by the espionage services.  E-mails, text messages, photos, audio recordings, even mundane details such as banking account usage, payment schedules, internet browsing history, time spent on various websites, even keystroke patterns.  A seemingly endless quantity of data is being generated from our usage of the internet."
    "So Big Brother loves to watch," Five noted with a shrug.  "So what?" he asked, growing bored with it all and bouncing a cricket ball off a nearby wall. 
     Eight-Point-Five neatly intercepted the ball.
    "Data reveals patterns, and patterns can lead to truth.  What if all of this collected information could be synthesized with the biological material into a hybridized mixture of the original person and the simulation?"  He peered down at Five.  "Would that not be much like resurrecting the dead?" 
     Tossing the ball back to Five, Eight-Point-Five resumed circling the room.
    "I don't know," said Four.  "The only thing my bank account statements say about me is that I'm poor, so as long as we're all getting paid to sit here and listen to this rubbish..."
    He grinned.
    "...please, do continue."
    "People are data," Eight-Point-Five said.  "What we do, and how we do it, makes up who we are.  We live in a universe composed of information.  And with the proper handling, that information can be presented as any reality we so choose."  Stopping behind the empty chair reserved for One, he reached down into the seat and lifted for all to see...
    ...a small gunmetal grey box. 
    Connected to the box and running under the table into the floor was a heavy cable. 
    "These boxes contain the same microscopic machines that reside within each of your medallions," Eight-Point-Five explained.  "The boxes also hold biological material acquired from your dead comrades." 
    Almost reverently, he returned the box to the chair and continued to walk to the foot of the table. 
    "And here," he snapped his fingers, whereupon a soft whirring of machinery accompanied the elevation of a podium, "is the control panel for the séance." 
    Eight-Point-Five stood behind the podium, and looked down at the single, large green button labeled "ON". 
    "All that is required is a simple press of this button, and the room will do the rest."
    "I don't understand any of this," complained Seven.  "When do we get to go home?"
    "Let me simplify," said Eight-Point-Five, "When I press this button, the biological information will combine with the microscopic machinery that have been pre-programmed with all of the available information that exists related to your predecessors.  The machines inside each of your medallions will scan you and extract the relevant information that each of you possess..."
    He waved his hand.
    "...that relates to the fictional character you each portrayed..."
    He nodded.
    "...which is an essential component of the lives of your predecessors."
    A strange glow overtook his saturnine features.
    "And then, all of the microscopic machines will be channeled through the Medium and reconfigured into the resurrected forms of your former colleagues.  All that is required," he glanced up at an unobtrusive security camera hanging over his head and trained on the table, "is your verbal permission to proceed."
    "Codswallop," said Six.
    "Breathtaking," said Eight.  "And to think he could say all of that with a straight face?"  He snorted.  "He really is one of his generation's finest actors."
    "Why should we believe you?" demanded Five.  "Prove it."
    "I told them you might be skeptical," said Eight-Point-Five, "so they agreed to a little demonstration."
    "Who agreed to a demonstration?" asked Nine.
    "Let's call them our 'Superiors' for the moment," said Eight-Point-Five.  "Now, pay attention." 
    Eight-Point-Five reached into his coat and removed his sonic screwdriver. 
    "I think you all recognize this," he said.
    "Yes, it's our old friend 'deus ex machina'," said Five.  "I thought we had killed that thing off during my time..."  Heavily, he sighed.  "...but no such luck."
    "This one," said Eight-Point-Five, "is a simple remote control for the room."
    He paced.
    "I am about to temporarily borrow all of the microscopic machines in this room to prove that what I've been telling you is..."
    Dramatically, he paused.
    "...indeed, the truth." 
    He pressed a button on his sonic screwdriver. 
    The tip lit a bright green, and the familiar pitch whined like a broken piccolo trill.  
    Simultaneously, all thirteen of the medallions began to glow with a warm golden light. 
    The startled actors watched in stunned silence as thirteen streams of liquid light poured out of the medallions and flowed into the Medium. 
    The syrupy light beams seemed to carry countless swarming particles, difficult to discern but all moving with purpose into a swirling torrent of crazed activity, and the actors watched as the light beam connecting Eight-Point-Five to the Medium changed color into a heavenly sky blue before, much to their collective astonishment, they watched as Eight-Point-Five regenerated...
    ...just like on their television show. 
    His features morphed with a burst of energy, reassembling into the face and body of their long-departed colleague, Number One, an old man with a hawk nose, a shock of shoulder-length white hair, and piercing blue eyes. 
    Then, another explosion of energy, and the features became fluid again, before composing themselves into the face and body of the cosmic hobo, Number Two, with his happy/sad eyes, puppy dog expression partially hidden by a mop of overlong black hair reminiscent of the style made famous by that rock band that knocked Sinatra off his perch as King of the World. 
    And then, yet another burst of regenerative power, and the hobo was replaced by the dignitary, Number Three, with his curly white hair and mountainous nose.
    After a final burst of regeneration, Eight-Point-Five was back. 
    The network of light beams flicked once before disappearing, and the medallions were dark once more.
    Stunned silence hung like heavy drapes. 
    Eight-Point-Five sagged, steadied himself with both hands on the table for a moment, then stood erect. 
    "Those were empty shells," he said.  "Bodies only.  No spirits, no minds.  For the purpose of demonstration, it is more economical to use my body for raw material.  But when we perform the real séance, the microscopic machines will use a tremendous quantity of energy to actually reconstitute three temporary new bodies for our dead friends."
    "It must be a trick," said Six, quietly.  "Special effects."
    "No tricks," said Eight-Point-Five.  "It's all real.  And I need you all to agree to participate in the séance."
    He leaned forward ominously.
    "You must verbally agree, for the camera," he stated with a glance toward the ceiling.  "And then, after the séance, we can proceed to the real business."
    "What, there's more?" asked Eight.
    "Much more," he replied.  "But first?"
    He delivered the final verdict with certainty.
    "The séance."
    He looked around the table and met every set of wide-open eyes.
    "Do you all consent?" he asked.
    As the shock from the demonstration continued to wear off, the actors began to discuss and debate what they had seen.  There was much drama, much emotion, much heart-pounding and soul-searching, much analysis...
    ...but, in the end, they all agreed to participate.
    "Very well," said Eight-Point-Five.
    He smiled.
    "Thank you for your service, gentlemen."
    He pressed the big green button.
    "Let us proceed."
    The effect was anticlimactic, for there was no need for special effects this time.
    Eight-Point-Five had pressed nothing more than a button.
    And then?
    Simply, the once empty chairs were filled... One...
            ...and Three.
    "Oh, dear," said Two.  "Something seems to be amiss."
    "Great balls of fire!" said Three.  "Who in blazes are all of you chaps?"  Then, noticing One and Two sitting nearby, Three said, "Oh, good grief!"  He rubbed his neck.  "Not you two again?"
    "The dandy and the clown," said One.  "The two of you are like a bad penny…you keep turning up!"
    "Gentlemen," said Eight-Point-Five, "Your attention, please.  Our time is short, and we have much work to do."
    "I say," said Four to Three, "You're looking remarkably vivid for a ghost."
    "A 'ghost'?" said Three, indignant.  "I don't believe in 'ghosts'."
    "Oh, you would do very well to step gently here," said Two.  "Some of the things that go 'bump' in the night really do cause one to experience what might be called, 'the shivers'."  He shuddered.  "Very real," he said, rubbing his arms.  "Much like this draft I'm feeling."  Turning an eye, he wondered with a child-like expression.  "Is it me, or is it cold in here?"  Annoyed, he inquired.  "Could someone please turn up the thermostat?"
    Three looked down his nose at Two and said, "If you would stop bothering with that infernal fur coat of yours, you wouldn't be feeling so cold."  He took in two lungfuls of air.  "Yes, I find the temperature in this room to be quite bracing, myself."
    Two snorted, dander rising, and said, "The only brace you'll need is one for your backbone after I plant my foot up your backside, you pompous old…"
    "Now, see here…" began Three, as he and Two proceeded to talk loudly over one another in a heated argument.
    "I do so love to watch myself bicker," said Four, holding his scarf up to his cheek like a child clutching a security blanket.
    "Careful," said Five to Four.  "You're starting to slip around the 'fourth wall' again."
    While Two and Three argued, Six bullied Seven and Ten shared hair care tips with Eleven.  Nine crossed his arms and pouted while Eight and Twelve discussed the merits and demerits of slumming it on television whilst trying to ignite a film career.
    "Enough of this nonsense!" announced One, taking to his feet and stomping his cane on the stone floor with a reverberant crack that commanded the attention of the entire gathering.  "What is the meaning of all this?"  He turned an evil eye toward Eight-Point-Five.  "Now, look here, my good man..." he stood taller and said, " have the look about you of someone who possesses some measure of authority.  Pray, do tell us..."  He demanded.  "...exactly what in heavens is going on here?  Hmmm?"
    "Gentlemen," Eight-Point-Five said, addressing One, Two, and Three, "you are experiencing a mild disorientation, a side effect of the procedure, one that will pass quickly.  Please, be seated, and allow me to be the first to welcome you all back..."  He waved an unimpressed hand.  " the land of the living."
    Number One tucked his cane under his arm, tugged at his lapels, and turned his chin up.
    "By which you imply that we were previously deceased?"
    "Yes," said Eight-Point-Five.
    "All of us?" asked Two.
    "Just you three," said Eight-Point-Five.  "You have been temporarily restored for a purpose."  Confidentially, he leaned closer.  "We need your help."
    "With what?" asked Three, tilting his neck.  "What could possibly be so important as to disturb our..."
    Chock-full of skepticism, he inquired.
    "...'eternal slumber'..."
    He continued.
    "...if, as you claim, we are returned from the Great Beyond?"
    Simply, Eight-Point-Five clarified.
    "Copyright?" said One.  "Explain yourself, and quickly."  He pulled himself up to his full height.  "I haven't all day, you know."
    Eight-Point-Five snapped his fingers, and the control podium descended into the floor, disappearing into the mysterious machinery that surrounded the room.  "This may take some explaining, sir.  Please, make yourself comfortable, and I will tell you everything."  
    Number One harrumphed, then lowered himself into his high-backed chair with all of the regal dignity he could muster.  "Very well," he said.  "Proceed."
    Eight-Point-Five turned to address the assembled twelve actors.  "You all have portrayed one of the most iconic characters in the history of mass media.  Your faces are recognized the world over.  As I mentioned earlier, for a television programme to last a full fifty years is an accomplishment that is impossible without a plan."
    "Fifty years?" said Two.  "Oh my giddy aunt!"  He bemoaned.  "We've been gone for a while, it seems."
    "Extraordinary!" said Three.  "I never would have expected it to last quite so long."
    "What's this about a plan?" said One.
    Eight-Point-Five's eyes darkened.  "There has been a war going on...a  secret war, unbeknownst to the vast majority of humanity."  His eyes hooded.  "A covert war that has raged for hundreds of years in which certain forces have manipulated the world in ways that have led..."
    Sadly, he spoke the truth.
    " global domination."
    With the unmistakably dire tone of a man who has seen far too much horror to be able to report in polite company, he summarized.
    "In short?"
    He concluded like a hammer-blow to the skull.
    "Humankind has been conquered."
    "Conquered?"  Incredulous, Four tossed his scarf to the side.  "By whom?" he demanded.  "Surely not by the Daleks, eh?"
    "Nor the Cybermen," said Seven with a wink.
    "Perhaps the Terrible Zodin?" asked Two, with an impish glint in his eye.
    "Worse," said Eight-Point-Five.  He delivered the news with the cold, hard certainty of a world weary warrior.
    "Bankers?" exploded Six.  "Oh, no…not bankers!"  He scoffed mightily as he leaned over the table.  "Are they going to impose some evil overdraft fee on our accounts?"  He snorted.  "Heaven forbid!"
    "This is no laughing matter," said Eight-Point-Five.  "Nor are these your local, everyday bankers."
    Patiently, he explained.
    "These are the International Bankers, men with no allegiance to Crown or Country, men for whom the only objective is enormous personal profit, at any cost."
    "Reminds me of Morgus, the villain in my final story, 'The Caves of Androzani'."  Five sniffed.  "Nasty piece of work."
    "Good example," said Eight-Point-Five. 
    He elucidated.
    "These men have been operating behind the scenes, beginning almost four hundred years ago.  They were the force that led to the overthrow of Monarchy and the rise of ideologies like Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism, three sides of the same coin, if one could imagine a three-sided coin, for these are all forms in which people are ruled by a small group of men."
    He waved his hand.
    "Capitalism is rule by those who control capital.  Communism is rule by central committee.  And Socialism is rule by social ownership.  All three inevitably fall under the control of the State."
    Carefully, he connected the dots.
    "And all three are tools used by the International Bankers to manipulate world events, to control the course of history in ways that lead to maximum personal profit..."
    His eyebrows lowered.
    "...for them."
    "Sounds like someone needs to be fitted for a tin-foil hat," said Nine.  "You may want to cut down on your subscription to 'Conspiracy Theory Monthly'."
    Derisively, he snorted as he twirled a finger next to his temple.
    "It's starting to go to your head."
    "That's one of the ways in which these men maintain secrecy," said Eight-Point-Five.  "They not only manipulate world events, they also manipulate words."
    He pointed.
    "Just like Orwell predicted, these men turn our very language against us to confuse the issues."
    Plaintively, he gestured.
    "Just look at the term 'conspiracy theory'."
    He nodded.
    "It now connotes insanity, suggesting that anyone who believes in such an idea is automatically a crackpot.  In reality, a 'conspiracy theory' should be called 'conspiracy hypothesis', for it is an assertion that a group may be involved in deliberately criminal acts."
    He mugged a shrug.
    "Thus, by clouding the meaning of the term..."
    He concluded.
    "...well-intentioned people are diverted from examining the truth about claims of criminal activity."
    A dawning realization clearing away the storm clouds of confusion that occulted his heavy Scottish brows, Seven breathed.  "Diabolical."  Warming to the idea, Seven inquired.  "So, you're telling us that a group of men has secretly been waging war upon humanity for centuries in order to rule the world?"
    "Something like that, yes," said Eight-Point-Five.  "And they have succeeded."
    He nodded.
    "You see, their chief mechanism of power is central banking."
    "You mean the Bank of England is evil?" said Four.  "I think that much is common knowledge."
    "Yes, but it's worse than the general public's displeasure we all feel toward these institutions," said Eight-Point-Five.  "Over the centuries, the International Bankers have arranged matters such that their privately owned banks are granted monopolies..."
    Expounding, he waved.
    "...over the entire money supplies..."
    With a counterfeit edge to his voice, he summarized.
    "...of each of the respective nations within which they operate."
    He shrugged.
    "Thus, in England, the Bank of England, a privately owned bank, has a monopoly on the pound.  In the U.S., the Federal Reserve, another privately owned bank, has a monopoly upon the dollar.  And so forth."
    Like a school teacher delivering a fundamental truth, he lowered his eyes.
    "Now, you all know what happens when private corporations gain a monopoly?"
    "They can set the price for their product," said Twelve.  "So you're saying that these private corporations determine the price of money?"
    Incredulous, his shock of eyebrows shot up.
    "Why, that means they would have total control over the entire world economy!"
    "Excellent!" said Eight-Point-Five.  "You are finally starting to understand."  He nodded.  "These International Bankers scientifically create booms and busts in all markets, and with the foreknowledge of what's to come, they invest shrewdly in order to profit from the seeming chaos that they, themselves, have engineered."
    "No wonder my bank account reads zero," said Four with gloom abundant, "It's just like the time I visited the casinos in Macao."  He sighed.  "The house always wins."
    "Indeed," said Eight-Point-Five.  "And it gets worse."
    He continued.
    "For these men aren't content with simply rigging money markets and global economies."
    He shook his head with obvious loathing.
    "Oh, fact?"
    He delivered the news.
    "They use war as a tool to boost their profit."
    Almost grinding his teeth, he explained.
    "Death and destruction are deployed without the merest hint of remorse.  Untold millions have been killed, all in the name of wealth for these privileged few, these parasites upon the hide of humanity.  Every single war fought over the past several hundred years has been...:
    He scowled.
    "...a bankers' war."
    "If what you say is true," said One, "what can we do about it?  We are mere actors..."
    Glancing at Two and Three, he pointed.
    "...some of us not even alive."
    "Your role in all of this, your greatest roles, are yet to come." said Eight-Point-Five.  "For your television show has been a grand experiment."
    Pacing the room, he expounded.
    "Certain counter-forces have aligned themselves to fight these International Bankers, and to do so?"
    He leveled his gaze.
    "We must overcome the most insidious aspect of their evil rule, namely?
    His voice dropped a note.
    "Mind control."
    Almost hissing, he drew a picture for all to see.
    "The International Bankers employ the use of Mass Media to control and manipulate the thoughts and emotions of humanity, and they have been very effective in doing so.  But…"
    Eight-Point-Five snapped his fingers. 
    From hidden speakers buried around the room came the Theme Music to their television show. 
    The mysterious bass line…followed by the ghostly melody…an eerie, slightly ominous tune…beautiful in its simplicity, yet wonderfully complex in structure…
    "Have you ever wondered why this music is so powerful?" Eight-Point-Five asked. 
    With no answer forthcoming, he proceeded.
    "The answer is design."
    He explained.
    "Every single aspect of our television show was designed to overcome Mass Media mind control..."
    He peered closely.
    " open the minds of the viewing public to possibilities beyond that which has been simply fed to them most of their lives."
    Remembering his visit to an American public school with a shudder of dread and horror, he elaborated.
    "Using the most advanced techniques available in music, visual arts, writing, psychology, sociology, and essentially all of the most current areas of science and knowledge..."
    He almost preened.
    "...our television show has been crafted for maximum impact upon the public..."
    His intensity stiffened.
    " loosen the bonds of conformity and ignorance..."
    His voice rose in a crescendo.
    " prepare them for the moment when we reveal the truth to them..."
    He pounded a fist into palm.
    "...a truth that has been hidden from them for all of these centuries..."
    He delivered the coup-d'état.
    "...that they are, in fact..."
    With a growl of righteous indignation, he stated the truth.
    "...slaves to the International Bankers."
    Ten snorted.
    "So, what..."
    Sarcastically, he pointed.
    "...are we to be spokesmen, then?"
    Politically-correct, he chuckled.
    "Endorse the revolution, eh?"
    "To a point," admitted Eight-Point-Five.  "For, you see, those counter-forces I mentioned?"
    He smiled.
    "Our 'Superiors'?"
     With a mounting sense of wonder at their foresight, he almost lectured.
    "Not only did they employ the greatest scientific and artistic minds they could muster to fight the International Bankers..."
    He crossed his arms behind his back as he circled the long table.
    "...they also employed the finest legal minds on the planet."
    He took a deep breath.
    "And these legal scholars have worked tirelessly for fifty years, working within the legal system through copyright and property law, to prepare for this meeting..."
    He swept the room with his gaze.
    " which all twelve of you..."
    He glanced at his wristwatch.
    " of this moment..."
    He almost beamed.
    "...possess full and total ownership over not only your likenesses..."
    He clucked.
    "...but also over that of the television show itself..."
    He pointed at his temple.
    "...and all of its intellectual content."
    Astounded, the reconstituted form of Three leaned forward urgently.  "What?"  He scoffed.  "You mean we own the show?"
    Two stammered.  "But we're just actors!  Paid to do the job.  How could we own the show?"
    "As I said," Eight-Point-Five explained, "it has been a monumental legal undertaking..."
    He understated.
    "...but ownership of the programme has been given over to the twelve principals in the production..."
    Tilting his head, he pronounced.
    He tried to hide a hint of disdain.
    "...the twelve of you."
    He chuckled.
    "A Council of Twelve, perhaps?"
    He smirked.
    "Now, make no mistake."
    He dropped his gaze.
    "Those counter-forces, namely our 'Superiors'..."
    He lifted both brows.
    "...would have preferred to take control of the show themselves, but legally, it was not possible."
    Circling the room like a vulture homing onto its prey, he rubbed at his chin.
    "The best they could manage was to place it into your hands and hope that you would do what must be done."
    "And what, precisely, must be done?" asked Eleven.
    "You must use this program in the manner in which it was designed."  Eight-Point-Five drove his point home.  "It is a weapon.  A mind weapon.  If deployed properly, it can be used to liberate mankind from the chains of slavery.  You can use this program, which has so captured the imagination of the public, to educate, to inform, and to teach people exactly how they are being controlled, how they are being used, and most importantly, to teach them how to free themselves."
    "Sounds like quite an undertaking," said Five.  "And how exactly do we accomplish this?"
    "You twelve were selected for the unique blend of skills and talents you possess."  Acknowledging, he nodded.  "Some of you are brilliant writers, some extraordinary artists.  Some..." Eight-Point-Five said, glancing at Four, "...have a genius of personal charm.  Each of you speaks powerfully to some segment of humanity.  How often has the question, 'Who is your favorite Doctor?' been asked?"  He nodded along with the rest.  "You each hold sway over a demographic, and together, you can craft a powerful message, delivering it to humanity embedded within..."
    He smiled.
    "...a simple television show..."
    He chuckled.
    "...and with any luck, we can disrupt the powerful mind control of the Mass Media."  Hopefully, he nodded again.  "Humanity may finally be able to think for itself."
    "This has really been the most extraordinary evening," said Four.  "Now, I strongly suggest we take our leave of this rather barren place, and discuss this matter in more detail elsewhere."  He slapped his head with the palm of his hand.  "Why, I know just the place!  There's this small pub, about half a block from here, that always seems bigger on the inside than on the outside.  Should do well to hold the lot of us.  Let's pick this up over a few pints, eh?"
    The crowd of actors agreed, and all thirteen men left the room.
    On the table, the Medium sat alone, glowing in veiled confusion and omnipotence, and wondering…
        ...what on Earth was the point of it all?