Chapter One

"Okay, so let me get this straight," Rory said as he stood in the console room with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. "You're going to get pissed and get information?"

"No, Rory," the Doctor said patiently, "I'm going to pretend to get pissed and get information. The Diablo Pub on Vega 17 is an excellent spot for information gathering. Most of the notorious and infamous stop to have a pint and gossip and share information. If we're going to find Professor Ruby and his Planet Dissolving Formula, this is the best place to go. Someone is bound to know where they took him."

"So how are you going to pretend to be drunk when you've never been drunk before?" Amy said.

"I've been drunk before, Pond," the Doctor said. "What makes you think I haven't?"

"Because I figured you were the type that hates losing control of himself and the situation and that's what happens most of the time when you get drunk."

"I do hate losing control but that doesn't mean I've imbibed a time or two in my lifetimes. Besides, I can control how drunk I become so I rarely lose control of myself or the situation."

River raised her eyebrows when he suddenly looked over at her.

"What?" she said.

"Just checking to see if you were going to say some smartarse remark to that," he said to her.

"Normally I would but we're in a hurry at the moment and I'll save the remarks for later," she said.

"Precisely. So…hold tight because our next stop is Vega 17," he said before he started working the controls on the console.


Vega 17 was a desolate planet in the middle of a distant galaxy. The TARDIS landed in an arid and rocky part of the planet and as they stepped out, Amy thought the landscape looked a bit like Tattooine from Star Wars. The only thing in the area besides the rocks and sand and dunes was a group of round and domed buildings that were painted an off white color and looked like they'd seen better days. The sand had drifted up to the sides of the buildings and accumulated there like tan snow. The buildings were large but as far as Amy could tell, none of them had any openings except a door. They trudged through the sand while the Doctor led the way and as they got closer, Amy noticed that time and wind had done some damage to the paint on most of the buildings and she could see a bit of concrete underneath the paint job in some spots. As they passed by the buildings, Amy heard the faint sounds of music, chatting and laughter behind the old weather-beaten wooden doors. None of the buildings had any signs and most of them looked the same so Amy had no idea how the Doctor knew where to go.

But after five minutes, the Doctor finally stopped at one of the buildings and motioned for everyone else to stop.

"How do you know this is the right one?" Rory said, echoing Amy's thoughts. "There's no signs on any of these buildings."

"I have an excellent memory," the Doctor said, tapping his temple. "And if you look here," he said, pointing to the door, "the name is carved into the door."

Rory peered at the door and noticed some alien symbols were carved into the wood just above the doorknob. The TARDIS hadn't translated them yet so they appeared to be a random bunch of lines and dots to him. The Doctor cautioned them to keep their wits about them before he opened the door.

Immediately, smoke wafted outside and Amy wrinkled her nose at the foul smell. Whatever the smoke belonged to, the odor was reminiscent of feces. Amy covered her nose and noticed Rory held his hand up in front of his own nose. The Doctor took River's hand before they went inside.

Once they were inside, the music and crowd noise increased. There was some dim lighting coming through the smoky air from large balls mounted onto the ceiling. But even though there were several of these light balls, it was still hard to see anything distinctly once the Doctor shut the door. The interior of the building looked larger than the outside and for a moment, Amy wondered if they were using Time Lord technology as the Doctor led them through some black lacquer tables to a black lacquer bar off to the right side where a purple squid alien was tending the bar and fixing drinks for assorted alien patrons. Behind the bar was some glass shelves with lighting under them, displaying bottles of alcohol. Amy sidled up to the bar with her husband while River stepped up to the bar with her spouse. Amy studied the labels on the bottles but all of them were unfamiliar.

"I'm afraid to try something, I never heard of any of these," Amy said to Rory as she gestured to the bottles.

"Yeah. The Doctor said to keep our wits about us so I have a feeling we shouldn't drink anything except water," Rory added.

The Doctor got the bartender's attention and he slid over to him on his tentacles.

"What can I get you, friend?" he said with a gurgly voice.

"I want a glass of North Star," the Doctor said, pointing to a bottle with red liquid inside it.

The alien nodded, slid over to it and used more tentacles to grab the bottle and set it on a counter below the shelves. Amy made a face when the alien curled a tentacle around a large glass and put it near the bottle.

"I don't think I'd want an octopus handling the glass I was gonna drink from," Amy said to Rory while the alien opened the bottle and poured the red liquid into the glass.

The Doctor thanked him when the bartended finished and gave him his drink.

"We're all together," he said before handing the bartender his credit stick.

"What would you like to drink, Miss?" the squid said to River.

"I'll have the same as my husband," River said.

While the bartender saw to her drink, the Doctor felt a tap on his shoulder and looked at Amy.

"That. Is it safe for humans?" Amy said, pointing to his drink.

"Yes. It's a lot like vodka," he said.

"Will we become horribly drunk on it?" Rory said.

"If you drink a ton of it. One glass won't hurt you though, I promise."

When the squid finished with River, Rory and Amy ordered the same thing and once everyone had their glass of North Star in hand, they walked to an empty table near the back and sat down. Amy took a tentative sip of her drink and was surprised to find it did taste a lot like vodka with a hint of cherry flavor in it. Licking her lips, she took a longer swig while Rory did the same. The Doctor was drinking his North Star while looking around the dimly lit room at the other tables.

"So what's the plan, Sweetie?" River said to him in a hushed voice.

"I'm looking for someone who's playing cards or games of skill. I figure if I can join in and become friendly, I can do a bit of chatting with my new friends and see if anyone knows anything about Professor Ruby."

"I think they're playing cards over there," Rory said, pointing to a table near the door.

The Doctor looked where he was pointing and saw someone holding five cards in his hand while he stared at them intently. Someone else on the other side of the table was laying a card down on the table and afterwards, he could tell there was some betting going on. The Doctor took a swig of his North Star, told his family to be careful and afterwards, ambled over to the table with drink in hand.


(One hour later…)

Amy tapped her fingers on the table, bored out of her mind. It'd been nearly an hour since the Doctor walked over and joined the card game and she could see him with his new friends, drinking heavily while he played whatever it was they were playing. She couldn't really tell for sure but she guessed from the Doctor's gleeful expression and the sour faces of the men near him that he was winning. By now, she, Rory and River had finished their drinks. Afraid to order another one since she had no idea how drunk it would make her, she tried to talk to her family but the music was loud and it was hard to raise her voice above it. Finally, River walked over and brought back a wooden bowl with tortilla chips in it along with a dip that was similar to salsa. So they ate and continued to wait on the Doctor. Amy looked over when she heard the Doctor's triumphant yell and she watched as he picked up several credit sticks from the table with a gleeful expression on his face. The other men threw down their cards in disgust and Amy figured that was the end of the card game. They did stop playing but the Doctor sat with them, drinking his North Star, laughing and chatting and Amy figured this was the information gathering part of his plan.

"Mother, Father, I'm going to go get us some nonalcoholic drinks. I think I recognized one brand of whisky," River said. "I'll be right back."

Amy nodded and munched on a chip while she watched the Doctor laugh and give a good natured slap to the back of the man beside him.

"Well, at least someone's having fun," Amy said, leaning into Rory's ear.

"How long do you think this'll last?" Rory said loudly.

Amy shrugged.

"I suppose it'll stop when he has the information he needs," Amy said loudly.

Rory nodded. He looked at the bowl, intending to pick up a chip and then froze.

"I…think the Doctor wants you," Rory said to Amy as he pointed.

Amy looked the Doctor's way and noticed he was nodding at her and beckoning to her. Amy pointed to herself and the Doctor nodded.

"Be back in a minute," she said loudly to Rory before getting up. "Tell River where I went."

"I will," Rory said loudly.

Amy walked through the tables towards the Doctor. He was pointing to her and saying something and now all the men were looking at her. Amy could tell they were appraising her as they gazed at her body and she imagined them mentally undressing her. She made her way to the Doctor, thankful he was there to protect her from any advances. It was then that she noticed that the Doctor didn't look drunk but he was acting like it. His friends, on the other hand, were extremely drunk and once again she was glad her friend was there to keep her safe since most of them were now leering at her.

"This is Amy. Amy, this is the gang," the Doctor said with a slight slur to his voice. "We need you to be an impartial referee for our next game so pull up a chair and have a seat."

Amy wondered what she'd have to be a referee for as she found an empty chair at the next table and slid it over to the Doctor's side. She could see River at their table and saw Rory pointing to her as he said something to his daughter. River stared at her for a moment and Amy waved in return. Then she saw River put her drink and Rory's drink down before heading for her and the Doctor.

"So…um…what's going on then?" Amy said to the drunken men. "What game are you playing?"

"Well, Duckie," a burly, disheveled man said as he leaned over towards her, "we like to call this game, I Dare Ya!"

The other men sniggered, except for the Doctor who was taking a swig of his North Star.

"So…you dare people to do things?" Amy said, not liking the sound of that.

"Spot on, Duckie. You're a smart one, you are," the man said.

Amy recoiled from the heavy alcohol on his breath and tried not to gag. By now, River had reached her mother and sat her drink down in front of her.

"What is this?" River said to her husband.

"Just a little game of skill, Hon. Nothing more," the Doctor slurred out.

River examined her husband. She looked at his eyes and noticed they were clear, unlike the blurry eyes of the men beside him. She knew he was pretending to be drunk but she wondered what the hell he was about to do.

"Pull up a chair, Darlin'," the Doctor slurred. "Help us out 'ere."

River found another empty chair, put it beside Amy and sat down. By now, one of the men was rising unsteadily to his feet and slowly making his way through the tables towards the left side of the wall. He was weaving as he walked and several men had to duck or get up when he staggered into their chairs. He picked up a large cardboard box from the floor and staggered back, nearly hitting several more people with the box before he made it back to his chair. He put the box in the middle of the table and sat down.

"This…box," the man slurred as he gestured to it, "contains several challenges. What we do is one person will pick something from the box and give it to the man to his left. That man has to do whatever the piece of paper says in the jar or on the side of it. If he doesn't, he's out of the game. The winner gets to buy another round for everyone here. Okay?"

"What do I do then?" Amy said, pointing to herself.

"You're here to make sure the game is played fairly and stop any fights," the man said to her.

"Fights?" Amy said softly to her mother.

"Don't worry, I'll help you if it comes to that," River said.

"I'll start then," the man said before getting unsteadily to his feet.

Everyone watched as he pulled back the flaps on the box and reached inside. He pulled out a small glass jar with a tin lid on it. Inside the jar was a folded up slip of paper. He handed it to the man on his left and the man unscrewed the lid, took out the slip of paper, unfolded it and read it.

"Sing your favorite song as loud as you can," he read aloud.

Amy and River shared a glance while the men all sniggered at that. The man was drunker than his friend and he nearly toppled over when he stood up. He managed to catch himself and he stood for a moment, getting his equilibrium back while the others drank and watched him. Then he took a deep breath and screamed out.


"Oh my God," Amy groaned as everyone in the pub shut up and all eyes turned towards their table. The only sound in the pub now was the blaring music and the man's caterwauling.


Amy turned beet red when she heard the sniggers at the other tables.

"Um…it's someone else's turn now," she said to the man. "You can sit down now and be quiet."

"I AM YOUR MAN, I AM YOUR MAN, DON'T YOU UNNERSTAAAAAAAAAAND?" the man wailed while most of the people in the pub laughed and cheered him on.

By now, Rory was making his way over to the Doctor, carrying his drink and River's while he navigated through the drunks.

"Okay, you can sit down now!" Amy said, slapping the table to get the man's attention. "You did what the piece of paper said; now sit your arse down!"

To her relief, the man stopped his off key singing and plopped back down in his chair, a triumphant grin on his face. He then remembered he had to pick and he managed to get to his feet again and reach into the box. He fumbled around and pulled out a medium sized jar filled with tiny purple mice in it. He handed it to the Doctor and Amy's eyes boggled when she saw the slip of paper that was pasted on the outside of the jar.


The Doctor read it while Amy made a face. He glanced at Amy and River, who now saw what the slip said and had a similar disgusted look on her face. The mice were tiny, about two centimeters in length and there were about ten of them in jar, wriggling and squirming all over each other while they squeaked. The Doctor looked at Amy with an impish grin on his face.

"You wouldn't," Amy said to him.

"Have to, otherwise I forfeit the game," he said to her.

"You're gonna eat live mice," Amy said.

"Trust me, Pond, I've eaten worse than this before," the Doctor slurred.

Amy grimaced when he unscrewed the lid and reached inside, trying to grab a Vorerat's tail while they squeaked and climbed over his fingers. He grabbed one by the tail and River quickly put the lid back on when he took his hand out. Amy stared at the little mouse, wriggling around in the air as it tried to get its tail free from the Doctor's fingers, and felt sick to her stomach. The Doctor, on the other hand, calmly raised the mouse up and craned his neck back. He opened his mouth and Amy flinched when he dropped the mouse into his mouth and quickly chased it down his throat with a swig of North Star. She glanced at the others and noticed that the men all had looks of disgust so she gathered that people didn't normally eat Vorerats. The Doctor took another sip of North Star and then proceeded to swallow two more rodents, each time chasing it down his throat with another swig of alcohol. Once he was finished, he screwed the lid on tightly and put the jar back in the box while Amy hoped that all this would be finished soon so they could get any information they could and leave.

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