Saturday, December 5, 2009

If *I* Had Written Time And The Rani (ii)


Night has fallen over the land. A few lights glow in the castle windows. In the woods opposite the castle, something shuffles through the foliage, rasping breathlessly. We see nothing more than a glimpse of something hairy, browny-pink

We cut to the creature's POV: four images sweeping back and forth, blurring and dissolving into each other of the woods behind, bushes on either side and the castle ahead, all tinted sepia and brown, like an old photo. The images fuse into a crystal clear image of the castle, focussed on the tower where the Doctor lives. There is a light shining.

With a faint, predatory growl, the creature breaks cover.


The Doctor lies asleep in his bed, seemingly peaceful. Then he frowns. Gradually dissolve into:


An endless, almost featureless desert. Dust rolls around at knee-height under the baking sun. A few establishing shots to show how empty and barren this world is. The sun glows in the sky. The Doctor stands beneath, shading his face with his straw hat. He looks around. He is alone in the desert.

The Doctor, at a loss, starts walking through the sand. His footprints disappear almost instantly. The atmosphere becomes more sinister. Not just a lifeless desert, but almost haunted. On the wind, there is a familiar voice, whispering bitterly.

VOICE: Ten million years of absolute power...

The Doctor whirls around in surprise.

DOCTOR: Hello? Who is that?

VOICE: ...that's what it takes... to be really corrupt...

DOCTOR: Hello?

VOICE: Ten... million... years...

The Doctor now stands before an eroded stone monolith, a huge hexagonal pillar worn away as if melted. Visibly carved into it is the Seal of Rassilon. Awed, the Doctor approaches it and looks at three strange carvings in the stone.

DOCTOR: [awestruck] Ten million years...

He traces the uppermost inscription with his hand. A mechanical whisper is on the wind, but the Doctor doesn't hear it, busy translating the strange hieroglyphics before him.


DOCTOR: [reading] "Kill one living thing and you are a murderer..."


He moves to a lower inscription.

DOCTOR: "Kill a thousand living things and you are a conqueror..."


His hand stops at the lowest inscription.

DOCTOR: "Kill every living thing and you are God."

The Doctor suddenly backs away, as if afraid. On the wind there is the faint sound of alarms ringing, gunfire, an explosion. We zoom in on the Doctor's face as he tries to control his breathing, but the terror in his eyes is palpable.


He stares up at the ruined monument. It dwarfs him, but both are tiny specs in the desert. There is nothing else. We zoom out until there is just desert.


The Doctor's eyes snap open, but he stays where he is.

DOCTOR: [dazed] Gallifrey? That's in Ireland... [not so sure] isn't it?

There is the sound of leathery wings beating. The Doctor's expression turns grave. The flapping wings get louder and closer.


We see the creature's POV locked on the tower as it closes in. It can fly.


A three-fingered claw rises up over the window frame, hauling the rest of the (so far unseen) creature into the room. It makes open-mouthed pants like a hungry, tired dog along with the occasional grunting growl. Hairy, clawed feet shuffle over the wooden floor. Silhouetted against the light from one flickering candle, we can only make out its shaggy form and large, bat-like ears. The head shifts fractionally.

The creature's POV breaks up into four images, compass points of the room. Image after image swirls into focus and out again, as the creature scans the room. The bed is empty. There is no sign of the Doctor. The police box is still shut. The noises the creature makes are becoming angrier.

The creature turns in a circle.

POV: again it sifts through its four eyes, scanning the room with the same result. Suddenly all the images coalesce into one view - the wardrobe in the corner. The creature growls triumphantly.

The hideous misshapen shadow falls on the wardrobe doors. A long pause, and then the clawed hands all but rip the doors apart to expose... neat hanging outfits. The creature tears into them, searching for something that manifestly isn't there. The wardrobe is just a wardrobe and the clothes just clothes. The claws finger the patchwork coat.

POV: its colours are muted. The creature brings the coat closer and sniffs, then drops the coat, discarding it. More views of the room swirl into existence, now with a loud sniffing sound. A growl of frustration, and the views focus onto the open window. Growling and panting, it charges for it.

The room is now empty. For a moment there is the heavy sound of bat wings, then that too fades into silence. A long pause. Suddenly, the Doctor slides sideways out from under the bed, like a mechanic emerging from under a car. He looks terrified. Feverishly, he rises and, keeping low - under the edge of the window - crawls around the room to the door. He tries it. It's locked. He tries it again, but it's no less locked.

DOCTOR: David! David [louder] Squire! Open this door! Open!

He chokes off his cries and looks fearfully at the open window. He doesn't want to risk it hearing him and coming back. Inspiration strikes and he grabs the strange key and tries it in the lock - no good. The Doctor looks wildly around the room, but there's nowhere to go. He's totally trapped.


Dawn breaks. Everything is beautiful.


The squire opens the door to the room and enters, looking cheerful.

SQUIRE: Good morrow, my Lord, I-

He breaks off as he realizes the room is now full of candles, all lit and melting. There's enough for a whole church and thus the room is quite well lit. The squire looks around in confusion then freezes as the tip of a sword is placed at his exposed throat. It is the Doctor, still in his night clothes and still furious.

DOCTOR: Why was the door to my room locked?

SQUIRE: [fearful] It's the way things are, my lord! All doors are locked when we retire!

DOCTOR: You're saying I've been locked in my room every night and no one bothered to mention this before?

SQUIRE: My lord, please, you never did ask...

DOCTOR: What if there was an emergency! I would have been trapped - didn't that ever occur to you? What if there was a fire?

SQUIRE: We're near the top of the tower, sir, any such blaze would be doused long before it reached us!

The Doctor advances, forcing the squire to back away, the sword still at his neck.

DOCTOR: And if it didn't?

SQUIRE: Then I'd unlock the door, my lord!

DOCTOR: So you have the key!

SQUIRE: Yes, my lord!

He pulls an old fashioned key from his belt and offers it up.

DOCTOR: And if you heard me in distress, you would have unlocked the door?

SQUIRE: On my life, my lord!

DOCTOR: Then where were you last night?

SQUIRE: In bed!

DOCTOR: You didn't hear my cries?

SQUIRE: Nay, my lord! I didn't hear a thing! What happened?

The Doctor frowns and lowers the sword, his anger and suspicion instantly turning into thoughtful puzzlement.

DOCTOR: I'm not sure. Something... someone... broke into this room in the dead of night. [points with sword] Through that window.

SQUIRE: But we are so far up...

DOCTOR: Yes. I heard wings.

SQUIRE: No man can fly, my Lord. Can they?

DOCTOR: Not in this world, David. But maybe it's not from this world.

SQUIRE: My lord, there are no other worlds.

DOCTOR: [startled] There aren't? [sadly] No, I suppose not. But explain this, David. It was some kind of thief, breaking into the castle would be far easier closer to the ground. And if it was some kind of winged being, they would have gone for the very top. Ergo, whatever this creature's providence, it went specifically for this room. This room is important to it. And what's important about this room, David?

SQUIRE: You, my Lord?

DOCTOR: I fancy so, yes. But then the question emerges, David - why now?

SQUIRE: Why now?

DOCTOR: This being wants me, but has never once troubled me before. It was by pure chance I was awake, you know. Had I been sound asleep I would have been helpless and that thing would have had me without any resistance. Any night I've been here I could have been abducted, so why did this creature not strike sooner?

SQUIRE: Maybe it was not ready, my lord?

DOCTOR: Perhaps. But it gained entrance with ease, David. And if it can fly... No, there's something wrong here. Something must have changed. Something that only now would be enough to summon the forces of darkness...

The Doctor slowly turns and looks to the police box.


SQUIRE: My lord?

DOCTOR: That thing! It was put here last night and within hours something broke into my quarters - the connection is obvious! A bat in the hand is worth nine in the box! That box, that tar-dice, summoned the creature here, like some kind of mating call! We must get rid of it!

SQUIRE: But it was a gift from the Rani, sir.

DOCTOR: A gift that endangers the life of the receiver is no gift at all, David. I shall reject the gift, but not she who gave it. I dare say she was unaware of the danger it put me in.

SQUIRE: My lord. But I still fail to understand one thing.

DOCTOR: Then you're doing better than I am, David, I'm completely bewildered.

SQUIRE: How did you escape this creature?

DOCTOR: Mmm? Oh, I hid under the bed. Luckily for me, there wasn't something else lying in wait. [sighs] Oh, David, I never knew I could feel such terror. In all my years, I never... I could barely breathe, I was so scared. My heart hammered in my chest so much I might as well have had two beating as one! And yet...

SQUIRE: Yet, my Lord?

DOCTOR: It wasn't that creature that scared me. I was gripped by fear before I even sensed its arrival, before I had any reason to. So something else scared me.

SQUIRE: More than some flying monster looking for you?

DOCTOR: Yes. A dream, I think...

SQUIRE: Ah. A nightmare, my lord.

DOCTOR: No. Not a nightmare. The nightmare was when I woke up and there was monster in my room. There was nothing like that in my dream. I was... somewhere else. Not the castle, not the estates around. I was... I don't know.

SQUIRE: You never leave the castle, my lord. None of us do. It's the way things are.

DOCTOR: The mind is never bound to a location, David. I've dreamed of other places before, other times, other worlds...

SQUIRE: Such things would scare me, my lord.

DOCTOR: Fear of the unknown. Hah. Is there any other type of fear? No, what I feared I feared because I understood. I had uncovered something in that dream so terrible, so awful, so... so much so that some slavering monster attacking my wardrobe was a relief.

SQUIRE: I hope I never encounter something that horrible, my lord.

DOCTOR: I hope you don't either, David. I really do. [claps hands] Down to business. David, I want you to organize this tardice thing out of my rooms at once. I also want you to ask around, but be discrete, about wild animals or thieves. Don't panic anyone, tell them it's just an idle curiosity of mine.

SQUIRE: There have been some deaths at the farms, my lord. Some of the sheep are found dead in the morning.

DOCTOR: Oh? Some sort of disease?

SQUIRE: I know no disease that cuts the throat, my lord. But it was not the work of wolves or bears, though.

DOCTOR: Dragons then?

SQUIRE: No, my lord.

DOCTOR: Pity. I'm always rather fond of dragons.

SQUIRE: My lord, the cuts are not what kills the poor beasts. Whatever does it, they say, drains the blood out from them, sucking them dry. No animal does that, at least not and leaving the body behind.

DOCTOR: Fascinating. A vampire?

SQUIRE: A what, sir?

DOCTOR: No. No, not a vampire. I think. And vampires would never be satisfied with the odd sheep. No, they'd prefer human beings. So something like a vampire. Something capable of extermination.

SQUIRE: "Extermination"?

DOCTOR: [worried] Did I say that? I didn't mean to. I meant, I meant... what did I mean? Ex... sanguine! Yes! Exsanguination! The draining of blood. Not extermination at all. [frowns] I'm starting to get scared again. [shudders] All right, David, so as I have instructed you. I must speak with the Rani...

SQUIRE: But my lord...


SQUIRE: You are still in your night clothes!

DOCTOR: I am. All right, David, investigations afterwards. Get my brocade vest and my suede cloak, please. [to himself] Be they ever so humble, clothes broaden the mind.


It is now afternoon. The Doctor is pacing along the battlements beneath the tower containing his room. He examines the stonework with a critical eye, then rubs his hands over it, dissatisfied.

DOCTOR: No scratches. So it didn’t climb up or down.

The Doctor sighs and starts walking.

DOCTOR: It must be the fresh air. I can barely remember what happened last night. Did it climb in through the window? Were the shutters closed? How long did it stay in there? Did I really hide under the bed? That doesn’t sound like something I’d do. But does that make it more or less lightly?

He hears some laughter and voices. He peers over the battlement to see, on a different path stand the Rani and Cyrian. Cyrian is trying to fly an exotic-looking kite but with absolutely no success.

RANI: You face a choice, Lord Cyrian. Either walk to the west side where the breeze is blowing away from the castle, or save the toy for another day.

CYRIAN: I can make it work here!

RANI: You cannot.

The Doctor is amused at Cyrian’s frustration.

DOCTOR: [to himself] You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows... or else your face could stick like that.

He turns and heads off. Below, Cyrian finally gives up on the kite.

CYRIAN: Mistress Rani...

RANI: Yes?

CYRIAN: I’ve been reading of late.

RANI: You should have told the Doctor, it would have impressed him no end.

CYRIAN: I read of other Ranis, other queens and their lands. Catherine the Great of Russia, Za Panto of Oxyverugamosa, Caliban of the Apus Cluster...

RANI: Those queens are in the long distant past. Time has flowed by. This is a new age, where such queendoms are miniscule and of mere academic interest. It is to compare this castle to one made of wet sand on a beach – pointless. We are above and beyond such puny trifles now.

CYRIAN: Indeed, Mistress Rani but...

RANI: Do go on, Lord Cyrian.

CYRIAN: What do you rule, Mistress Rani? I mean... what is the name of this country?

The Rani looks out over the countryside.

RANI: Names. Words. To the peasants that roam this estate it is Lakertya. To others, beyond, it is Sigma Epsilon-Gamma. Yet more refer to it as Miasimia Goria. And in the ancient and long forgotten tongues it is Tetraptaryarbus. So many different titles, yet all describing this one place. To decide on the name, you must decide who you are.

CYRIAN: But you rule here, do you not, Mistress? It is your right to name it?

RANI: I rule this world, Lord Cyrian. I rule the worlds beyond. I rule more than I could comfortably name.

She gives him a deep stare.

RANI: I rule more than all of your ancient monarchs put together, and I am infinitely more powerful. At the snap of my fingers I could order this entire planet destroyed – or reshaped to better suit my whims. [softly] With power like that, naming becomes a very trivial matter.

Cyrian hasn’t quite understood all this.

CYRIAN: Oh. Are you native to this land, Mistress?

RANI: As much as you are. [briskly] The wind has dropped entirely. Your paper construct will have no further use today. Let us prepare for dinner.

CYRIAN: [nods] Mistress Rani.

They both head off.


Servants are clearing away the remains of another supper. The Doctor has discussed events with the Rani and Cyrian.

CYRIAN: Well, Lord Doctor, that is certainly a tale.

DOCTOR: [heckles rising] A tale? Do I take it you think it a mere story?

CYRIAN: Monsters eating sheep, flying into your rooms...

DOCTOR: I have the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

CYRIAN: You were half-asleep! You admit you had a nightmare!

DOCTOR: I admit nothing. Lord Cyrian, are you really so feeble-minded you think I’d try and scare you with a ghost story? This really happened! Besides, my squire confirms the death of cattle and sheep. Their bodies drained of blood. It’s been happening more and more often since the last summer solstice!

CYRIAN: Rogue carnivores...

DOCTOR: Carnivores eat meat, not blood, you ignoramus! No successful predator remains undetected by leaving uneaten food in the meadows – even with such unsubtlety, they’d be on the verge of starvation by now!

CYRIAN: You have not seen any of this evidence for yourself, though, have you?

DOCTOR: My squire reports it as fact.

CYRIAN: Your knowledge is second-hand, then?

DOCTOR: That still makes it several hands higher than any information YOU might possess, boy! Why doubt my squire’s integrity?

CYRIAN: You said yourself he didn’t answer your cries.

DOCTOR: He says he didn’t hear them, and I believe what he says.

CYRIAN: Still, I think your squire may be... encouraging your imagination.

DOCTOR: Such unwieldy words, Lord! Be careful not to lose your grip on them!

CYRIAN: You insult my powers of reasoning yet refuse to employ your own! You have conjured up this fantasy of blood-sucking, flying beasts – for whatever reason. Your squire humors you, comes up with stories that allow you feed your fantasy, embellish your story. In his way, he’s doing his best to help you.

DOCTOR: You think I can’t tell the difference between truth and fiction, BOY?!

CYRIAN: Then show me some evidence to the contrary, OLD MAN, and I will gladly concede the point!

The Doctor leaps to his feet.

DOCTOR: Then I shall! Mistress Rani! I request permission to leave the castle and inspect the farms myself – not only has my own sanity been questioned, but the truthfulness of my faithful servant has been called into question! Such a quest will decide things, I’m sure!

The Rani finally looks up from her food.

RANI: No one leaves my castle. [to the Doctor] It is the way things are.

The Doctor looks beaten. He sits down, sulking.

DOCTOR: The way things are. Yes, quite. This is the way things are and I detest that state of play! There is something rotten in the state of Dalek!

The Rani looks at him, surprised, but he doesn’t noticed.


A shadow fills one window. Something shuffles through. Two clawed, furry feet thump into the floorboards. A familiar panting growl.


As before. Cyrian looks up sharply.

CYRIAN: What was that?

DOCTOR: [brooding] What?

CYRIAN: That sound. It was so strange.

RANI: I think I heard it too. Like gas escaping from something. But not continuous. Breathing?

DOCTOR: [dismissive] Oh, probably just a servant eavesdropping.


A misshapen shadow falls over the double doors. Two clawed hands brush the wood.


The Doctor is still sulking.

DOCTOR: I cannot remember a time outside these castle walls. Do you, Cyrian?

CYRIAN: [troubled] No. I do not think I have even been outside.

DOCTOR: Oh? I thought you yourself had just returned from a trip.


Unbeknownst to the others, the doors are starting to shift as someone pushes at them. A slight scratching occurs.

DOCTOR: You were away for six days and returned with the Rani.

RANI: Lord Cyrian’s memory has been effected by his illness.

DOCTOR: [interested] Yes, and you still aren’t well, are you?

CYRIAN: [defensive] I’m not the one hallucinating monsters in my wardrobe!

DOCTOR: You’re the one who got out of this miserable hole and then managed to forget anything beyond its borders!

The Rani sounds almost hurt.

RANI: Is it really so terrible here?

CYRIAN: No... no... but... [awkward] Did anyone hear that noise?

DOCTOR: [mutters] More starting at innocent noises.

RANI: [to Cyrian] It’s all right, my Lord. You needn’t say more.

DOCTOR: [contemptuous] He probably can’t think of any more to say, Mistress Rani. But I can. This castle is my home. It is warm and beautiful and all anyone in their right state of mind could wish for. I can imagine many a man never wanting to leave such munificence. But the grass is always greenest before the dawn. We envy that we cannot have.

CYRIAN: And what do you not have, old man?

DOCTOR: Freedom.

RANI: [scoffs] You have the free reign of the entire castle, Lord Doctor, a privilege restricted only to I, Lord Cyrian and yourself.

DOCTOR: But don’t you see? There are things out there, in the dark, with hostile intent. They have been content with farm animals, but now they attempt to penetrate this fortress. Attempt? No, they succeeded.

The doors are flexing now, but everyone is looking the wrong way to spot.

DOCTOR: We need to be able to defend ourselves, and to do that we need knowledge and to get knowledge requires investigation. I can only investigate so much in this castle!

The Rani’s temper is starting to flare.

RANI: Of course. The perfect excuse to leave. You have impressed me truly this time, Doctor. Much better than your previous stratagem.

DOCTOR: "Previous"?

CYRIAN: "Stratagem"?

RANI: [scornful] Oh yes, you’d only leave the castle to spend more time with me, that I, your Mistress Rani, is all that matters to you!

DOCTOR: [outraged] And you do!

The Rani’s expression changes ever so slightly. She rises, as if expecting the Doctor to suddenly turn violent.

RANI: [wary] You KNOW, don’t you?

DOCTOR: [bewildered] Know? Know what?

Cyrian rises, shaking his head.

CYRIAN: That is the limit! Mistress Rani, I take leave of this madness...

He turns to face the doors... just as they burst open revealing the creature in all its hideous glory: a repulsive cross between ape and rat with large pink ears and oily brown fur. There is one bloodshot green eye in the front of its head, two at the side and a fourth and the back. Its mouth opens to show razor-sharp teeth and a thick forked tongue. Cyrian screams as the monster charges straight towards them, its claws hurtling for his throat...


Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Ooh, is that the cliffhanger?

I really am enjoying this thus far. A very gentle and cosy story - you're doing a lot with only a couple of sets and characters at the moment.

Youth of Australia said...

Ooh, is that the cliffhanger?
Yeah, end of part one. All the stuff with the Tetrap is a late addition to the plot.

I really am enjoying this thus far.
Does seem to be one of my most popular works.

A very gentle and cosy story - you're doing a lot with only a couple of sets and characters at the moment.
Yeah. I think it's the first time I've written Doctor Who with the budget of Youth of Australia... even down to dinner arguments about which member of the household is a bigger idiot...

Dream sequence wasn't too much then?

Oh, in case it weren't obvious, Cyrian is the Rani's fey butler from Dimensions in Time. And his name's pronounced "Sir Ian".

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

...never seen Dimensions in Time and only read the script the one time a few years ago so, no, that wasn't obvious at all.

I actually really liked the dream sequence. The line about killing everyone and becoming a god was very chilling.

(Tying this in with Time War a little - or was that the original idea of the Gallifrey script?)

Loosely on that topic, is Gallifrey on the cards for the 'missing stories' that Big Finish are doing? I think they mentioned four and that they didn't have the rights to The Ultimate Evil which I thought would have left them a bit short..

Youth of Australia said...

...never seen Dimensions in Time and only read the script the one time a few years ago so, no, that wasn't obvious at all.
It's not that bad. Well, part one isn't that bad. Then it turns into a kind of visual LSD trip.

Cyrian was also played by Sam West, who was Morbius for Big Finish.

I actually really liked the dream sequence. The line about killing everyone and becoming a god was very chilling.
Yeah, I read it in a textbook at school and it hung in my mind ever since.

(Tying this in with Time War a little - or was that the original idea of the Gallifrey script?)
Oh yes. "Gallifray" by Pip and Jane would have been a big story by any definition, not only featuring the Master trying to take the place over (much as he does in their Trial ep) but the Doctor being forced to blow the planet to smithereens. This was going to be a massive part of "softening up" the Sixth Doctor apparently - or at least explaining why he was such an asshole (the Doctor had picked up cosmic vibes that he was destined to do this and reacted by trying to keep everyone at bay by acting like a dick, Mr. Darcy-style).

Loosely on that topic, is Gallifrey on the cards for the 'missing stories' that Big Finish are doing?
Not this year (which is Season 23) or next year (which Season 27 and some rather crummy adaptions for Companion Chronicles - yes, we NEED to hear Frazer Hines narrate Prison in Space. WHERE THE FUCKING ROSECRUITIANS, HUH?!?!)

I think they mentioned four and that they didn't have the rights to The Ultimate Evil which I thought would have left them a bit short..
TUE would have been made by Wally Daly the writer demanded an amount of money the Nation Estate would have deemed "unreasonably excessive". So they couldn't be arsed.

As "Gallifray" consisted of a few paragraphs and a lunch conversation, I'd doubt it would be made. Though, if Pip'n'Jane are up for it, they always say that they had the perfect Sixth Doctor finale in their heads and Baker himself rates them very highly.

...mind you, I don't even know if the duo are still alive.

Meantime, I might type up the version I worked out in my head one long weekday while sitting in my Santa throne...