"What exactly are we doing here again?" Clara Oswald asked as she stuck her head out of the TARDIS. Despite being on a planet that was light-years away from earth, the environment looked eerily similar. Well, it actually looked more like something out of a sci-fi dystopia, but without the dystopia.
She closed the door and turned around to look at the Doctor.
He had promised to take her to a nice beach resort in the 31st century. It was only appropriate as they had been travelling for a month now and it was getting a bit tiring, so a vacation sounded wonderful.
"We're here because there are rumours that this is where kidnapped people are disposed of," he explained, pulling down a few levers so that the time machine wouldn't drift off while they explored the area.
Clara crossed her arms. "So what's the real reason we're here, Doctor?"
"The Crown Princess of Kalifax, who was kidnapped two weeks ago, is believed to be here," the Doctor explained, grinning. "The King of Kalifax announced that he'll give anything to the person who is able to return the crown princess safely to him."
The school teacher could tell the Doctor was going to make a ridiculous and childish request to the king. "What sort of reward do you have in mind?"
The time-traveller left the console and walked towards her, grinning. "We get to tour the biggest chocolate factory in the universe if we can find her."
Clara wasn't entirely sold on the idea of going to the space equivalent of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory since she had been really looking forward to a nice, relaxing day at the beach with her Doctor.
"Come on, don't you humans love chocolates?" he asked. "You have everything made out of chocolate - chairs, books and oddly enough, bunnies."
"Fine," she sighed in defeat. "But as soon as we find the princess, I want to go to the beach."
The Doctor grinned again. "That can be arranged – shall we?" he said, offering his arm.
She took his arm and together, they stepped out of the TARDIS. It had landed close to a busy market.
"How exactly are we going to identify this princess?" she asked.
He took out his Sonic Sunglasses and handed them to her. "It's not going to be difficult to spot her since she'll stand out, provided that she's not under some sort of disguise."
The image that she saw was that of a purple-skinned reptile when she put on the sunglasses.
They headed to the centre of the city where a street fair was being held. It didn't look that much different compared to one from the 21st century, surprisingly enough.
Some stalls were selling food, cuisine Clara had never even heard of before, while some were hosting a wide variety of games.
"Maybe we should split up and look around," she suggested. The school teacher had a feeling they weren't going to find kidnapped royalty being hidden away on this planet, let alone a street fair. Her kidnappers wouldn't be stupid enough to bring her here where there were lots of witnesses.
"No, I think it's best we stick together," the Doctor argued, eyes fixed on the readings given to him by his Sonic Sunglasses. "The Kalifaxans emit a strong signal when they're in distress or nervous, anxious, stressed - you get the point, and there's definitely one here."
He still hadn't answered her question.
"Ok, but I still don't see why we can't split up."
The Doctor glanced at her. "Because we are heading in the right direction."
She still had her doubts until she spotted a familiar purple-skinned reptile being ushered towards a large plain white tent by a tall man. Granted, she only saw half her face because she was wearing a robe, but what were the odds of seeing another one on a planet full of humanoid fish?
"Isn't that her?" Clara asked, pointing to the figure waiting in line.
The Doctor took off his Sonic Sunglasses to get a better look. "Yes, it is," he confirmed, as both hurried over to the tent connected to a tall building.
Before the two could catch up to them, the princess disappeared inside, and when the Doctor tried to pass through, his path was immediately blocked by two armoured guards.
"Wait your turn," said one of them, crossing his arms. "Get back in line."
"No, you don't understand," the Doctor explained. "The person you just let through is-"
"Wait your turn or we will not let you pass," the guard threatened. "You and your companion will enter once the Chief says so."
Clara grabbed the Doctor's hand and pulled him back. "We should just wait," she said, wondering who this so-called Chief was.
The Doctor continued looking around as he tried to figure out a way to get inside without alerting the two guards. It would seem there was only one entrance.
They stood in line for about thirty minutes until they were at the front, and somebody from inside the tent shouted, "Next!"
The guards let them through by pulling the flap of the tent.
There was a table in the middle with what looked to be a cyborg seated on the other side. He had a look on his face which screamed he was bored and tired of his job.
"Well, step forward and sit down," the Chief muttered, looking at a holographic monitor in front of him.
Slowly, the Doctor and Clara took their seats in front of him.
"Are you here of your own free will?" he asked.
The two time-travellers exchanged looks, finding it weird that they would be asked such a question.
"Yes," they agreed.
The Doctor looked around the tent. There was nothing else in there aside from a passage that had a sign that read 'Exit'. That must be where the princess had gone.
The holographic monitor turned green and the Chief grunted. They were telling the truth. Now all he had to do was wait for the scanners to make sure they were of sound mind.
"Sorry, it's taking a bit longer than usual," he sighed tiredly. Stupid ancient 30th-century computer. It was still scanning the man dressed in the red velvet coat. "Just checking some details and making sure you've consented."
Clara had so many questions running through her head. What was going on? Where does the exit lead to? Who is this Chief who apparently asked them if they were here out of their own free will? Is this some sort of security clearance protocol before they are allowed to enter the building? And most importantly, consented to what? Getting a background check?
She leaned closer to the Doctor before whispering, "What is this place?"
"Could just be a security checkpoint."
Truth be told, he wasn't sure what this place is. The Time Lord was unsure. He had made an observation earlier that people were lining up in pairs but that didn't reveal anything.
The monitor beeped before producing a green light. It looked like they were given the all clear.
"Right, state your names."
Once again, the time-travellers exchanged looks before the Time Lord answered, "The Doctor."
The Chief then reached down under the table and produced a blue cloth. He looked directly at the Time Lord. "Your left hand, please."
The Doctor stretched his arm before the cyborg wrapped one end around his hand.
It then occurred to him what was going on. "Is this-"
"Look, you can save the questions for later," the Chief sighed, before he told Clara to give him her right hand, and wrapping the band. "There are dozens of people waiting outside so just let me do my job."
The Doctor could see Clara giving him a look of uncertainty. "I think-"
"I hate this job, so please try not to make it any more difficult," interrupted the Chief.
The Time Lord leaned back in his seat, looking slightly nervous.
"This won't hurt much, just a bit," the cyborg explained before tapping on the holographic monitor. The band glowed.
Clara cried out in pain when she felt the palm of her hand burning. The Doctor remained silent, despite feeling the same sensation. He was racking his brain on how he was going to explain to Clara what was happening.
The Chief removed the band and Clara immediately checked her palm. She wasn't sure if it was a tattoo or if it was something that could be removed, but there was a Gallifreyan symbol etched in her palm.
"What… what is this… why is it in Gallifreyan?" she asked in confusion, staring at it.
"Section 12 of Article 1-9-6-3 states that the union between man and wife requires the marriage data to be written in the native language of the husband," the Chief explained as he put the band away. "You can find this information in the pamphlet," he said, wondering if they were truly here to get married. Then again, the computer would have said so if they weren't. It was never wrong. At the end of the day, it was none of his business, so whatever.
Clara looked up with wide eyes while the Doctor looked down at his own two feet.
"Marriage data?!" she exclaimed.
The cyborg's neutral facial expression remained neutral. "Yes, your marriage data – it contains everything from the name of your spouse to the date of your marriage."
The school teacher couldn't believe her ears. She had wed her best friend. She had married the Doctor. In the 31st century. "So, like a marriage certificate and a wedding ring combined?"
The Chief sighed. "This isn't the 21st century, madam, but yes, if you'd like to think of it that way."
"Is this permanent?" she asked anxiously. She didn't want to go walking around with a Gallifreyan tattoo on her palm.
"No and yes," he explained. "It'll disappear in two months-"
"Two months?!" she repeated.
"Two months, but you can view the marriage data by shining a UV light on your palm," he continued.
It looked like she was going to be travelling with the Doctor for another two months. There was no way she was returning to her lesson with the Year 10s with a wedding tattoo.
"Do you have any questions," the Chief said, looking at the monitor. "Mr Clara?"
"Uh, no," the Doctor replied quietly.
The Chief shrugged before reaching down once more and producing a small booklet which was labelled 'COUPONS'. So much for it being the 31st century. He tore off two tickets.
"The Wonderful Wedding Institute wishes you a happy and long-lasting marriage with plenty of children if you decide to have any," he said in a dry tone, lacking any enthusiasm, and handed Clara the coupons. "And we would like to send you on an all-expense paid honeymoon to the Floating Beach of Zangos – yay."
The Doctor coughed awkwardly while Clara raised her eyebrows. That was where they were supposed to go to before detouring.
"Thanks, I guess," she said, glancing to her right. Her new husband was awfully quiet.
The Chief then pointed at the exit. "Take the exit and from there, you can ask the Public Transport officer to guide you to the next space shuttle for Zangos."
The time-travellers rose to their feet and left without saying another word.
"Next!" they heard the Chief shout.
"I'm slightly confused," Clara confessed. "What just happened?"
"We got married because, if I'm right, the computer or A.I believed we wanted to get married – they used to use this technology back in the 29th century to interrogate criminals and it works 99 percent of the time."
The computer probably made an error when it came to them.
As they made their way to the Public Transportation Hub, Clara thought it might be a good idea to check if the Doctor was alright.
"You've been quiet."
He snapped out of his thoughts. "Sorry, just thinking," the Time Lord muttered. He was sure Clara wouldn't be pleased she was married to him, and he had been thinking of a way to cancel the union. "I'll figure out a way to annul the marriage once we get back to the TARDIS."
As she was about to open her mouth and tell him otherwise, that she found it funny they were wedded, a man dressed in a uniform greeted them before looking down at his tablet. "Hello, congratulations Mr and Mrs… Clara!"
"Thanks," she said quietly, glancing at her husband who was looking around. The school teacher wondered if their marriage really bothered her Doctor that much.
"Where are you off to?"
"Please proceed to platform 12 where a space shuttle will arrive in approximately ten minutes," the officer said before walking away.
"I found her," the Doctor uttered when he spotted the crown princess waiting in a corner with her spouse. She looked happy. "I guess we're not getting a tour of that chocolate factory."
He turned around, following the exit sign.
"Hey, where are you going?" Clara asked, catching up to him.
"To the TARDIS, of course - I'll figure out how to cancel the marriage."
"What makes you think I want that?" she asked.
He stared at her like a startled owl. The Doctor was really confused right now. She didn't sound pleased when the Chief had told them about the marriage data. "Isn't that what you want?"
"What I wanted was a nice vacation on Zangos," she stated as she wrapped her arm around his and dragged him to platform 12. "I think it's nice I get to spend it with my space husband."
"There's no need to add the word 'space' to everything, Clara," the Doctor grumbled, despite his chest feeling bubbly. "Would you like it if I called your microwave 'space-microwave'?"
"Only if you do something to it, but don't," his wife stated, arms still hooked.
"Does this mean you're not – you know – this marriage…," he stammered.
"It would be a shame to let the honeymoon offer go to waste," Clara said, winking before entwining their hands.
The Doctor had a feeling he was going to have a very exciting time on Zangos. The chocolate factory tour could wait.