Sunday, December 13, 2009

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


The monster crashes through the doors and charges at the dining lord, grabbing hold of the screaming Cyrian. The Doctor very deliberately throws himself backwards in his chair, attempting to back-flip out of it. Alas, he manages to bang his head on the floor and groans. The Rani is backing away, scrabbling at her control bracelet, not taking her eyes off the monster.

CYRIAN: Please! Help! PLEASE!

The Doctor leaps unsteadily to his feet and snatches up a sword, standing right behind the monster. The eye in the back of its skull blinks at him. The Doctor roars with dangerous fury.


The monster turns its head slightly. In its POV, its four eyesights fuse into just one, the Doctor wielding the sword. The monster roars and the Doctor starts to the look less confident. Suddenly, he flings the contents of a goblet into the fourth eye, the only one still open. The monster roars, blinded.

DOCTOR: Four eyes and you didn’t see THAT coming?

The Doctor shoulder-charges the monster, grimacing as he makes contact with its oily fur. The monster howls in confusion and lets go of Cyrian, blindly clawing at the air. Its quadraview is a bloodshot blur. Its other three eyes blink. The Doctor grabs Cyrian and drags him to the door, protectively.

CYRIAN: You saved my life!

DOCTOR: Don’t read anything into it, my lord, it’s what we doctors are for. [louder] Now then, I know we don’t quite see eye to eye but I’m trying to look at it from your point of view...

CYRIAN: Are you trying to mock its ocular capacity?

DOCTOR: [shrugs] Not intentionally, but it IS starting to look that way...

The monster growls. The Doctor glances at the Rani, on the other side of the hall, seemingly ignored by the monster. He mouths “Run!” at her, but she shakes her head and crouches down. There’s something in her hand. The monster takes a step forward, its eyes slits.

DOCTOR: You’re after me, aren’t you? I thought it was the tar-dice that drew you to my room, but it’s me, that’s why you’re not there now... unless there’s more than one of you. But it doesn’t matter. You’re intelligent. I can see, er, tell that. You came here for something, something I can provide. What is it? It’s all right, you can tell me, I’m a doctor!

The Rani throws something onto the floor, it skitters across the boards and comes to a halt before the Doctor and Cyrian. They peer at it – one of the thin ampoules from her bracelet. The monster growls and peers down at it as well. They are unified in their bafflement. The monster snarls and raises a clawed foot to crush the ampoule. The Doctor suddenly understands.


Too late, as there is a brittle snap and a puff of smoke from under its hoof. The monster roars. The Doctor is horrified, and soon so is Cyrian. A thick green fuzz engulfs the hairy foot. The creature roars in pain as the green fuzz spreads up its leg and smothers its chest. The monster’s roars become a strangled gasp and it collapsed, panting to the floor. The Rani approaches, a look of cold triumph on her face.

CYRIAN: What... what’s happening to it?

RANI: A concoction of my own design, Lord Cyrian. That creature’s oily skin has microbes in abundance. My contamination merely interbred with those microbes and bloomed into a spontaneous fungal growth.

CYRIAN: [way past confused] ...fungus? You mean, mushrooms?

DOCTOR: [aghast] Yes, boy. That’s what’s smothered it. Mushrooms in the mouth, the nostrils, the trachea, the lungs... [to the Rani] What’s to stop the lichen spreading off that corpse and onto us?

RANI: You think I’d have used it if there was any danger of that? The contamination is self-eliminating. See for yourself.

The green fuzz rots away, revealing a heap of hairy bones. Even as the trio watch, they crumble and buckle, as if being ground to powder by an invisible foot. Soon, there is just dust.

DOCTOR: You didn’t need to do that, your majesty.

CYRIAN: It was trying to kill me!

DOCTOR: Two wrongs don’t make a left turn, Cyrian! That creature was sentient. It understood the words we used, the concepts. Now we’ll never know why it came here or what it wanted...

RANI: But I’m sure we will all agree it proves your experience last night was real and not the result of night terrors. Do we not, my lord?

CYRIAN: ...yes. [chastized] Yes, of course. I apologize, my lord. Your squire, what he said, was true.

DOCTOR: Yes. You do that. But if there are other animals like this, they will not be best pleased by this. This could be thought of as an act of war, did anyone think of that?

CYRIAN: It attacked us first!

DOCTOR: When was that ever a good enough reason for bloodshed?!

RANI: You know more about bloodshed than I, Doctor!

The Doctor stares at her.

DOCTOR: Do I, now? Do I really? [contemptuous] I beg your indulgence, my lord and lady, but I think I shall retire.

Throwing the sword aside noisily, the Doctor strides off.


The castle is silhouetted in the moonlight.


The Doctor is pacing back and forth as the Squire makes the bed. The Doctor’s been ranting for quite a while now.

DOCTOR: ...and there was nothing left but dust. It was horrific, David, completely horrific! If she’d wanted it dead, I could have run it through with my sword. Much quicker and cleaner.

SQUIRE: You said you did not want to kill it.

DOCTOR: So she took it upon herself to slaughter it in cold blood.

SQUIRE: My lord, the Mistress was clearly trying to protect you.

DOCTOR: Oh, was she? Odd how her protection so conveniently killed that poor beast before I could talk to it. And she destroyed the body so it could not be examined. I doubt I will be able to persuade her to leave the castle now the point is proven... indeed. You know, David, I might be becoming paranoid. But suppose, just suppose, the Mistress Rani summoned that beast?


DOCTOR: To prove it existed. To take away the excuse to leave. Before it arrived, David, she was acting strangely. As if my desire to find the truth was some kind of bluff and I was truly trying to undermine her.

SQUIRE: That cannot be so!

DOCTOR: Maybe.

SQUIRE: If she did not want you to leave, why cause the beast to arrive in the first place?

DOCTOR: I don’t know. [angry] I never know! I have read countless books on innumerable subjects and still there are times I think my mind is empty! Why can I never remember anything important. What I do remember makes no sense.

SQUIRE: Such as, my lord?

DOCTOR: If I could explain them to you, David, they would make sense, wouldn’t they? [sighs] I live in a castle but I do not know how I came here. I am happy but I am not satisfied. This blue box. I don’t remember anything about it, but every fibre screams that I SHOULD!

The Doctor wrenches open the wardrobe door.

DOCTOR: Look at this for example!

He holds out the patchwork coat.

DOCTOR: Why is this in my wardrobe?

SQUIRE: It belongs to you, my lord.

DOCTOR: Why? Look at it! It’s hideous! It’s also far too large for me. Why would I ever have owned something I don’t like and doesn’t fit me?

SQUIRE: [shrugs] may have changed your tastes since then. And perhaps lost some weight?

DOCTOR: I’d have had to lose height as well for that to make sense, David. No, this coat isn’t mine. That’s the only explanation.

SQUIRE: It was with you when you first came here.

DOCTOR: How do you know?

SQUIRE: I was the one who chose your garments, my lord. I did not make that, it was already in the wardrobe. Ergo...

DOCTOR: ...ergo I brought it here. But why? Maybe there’s something in the pockets...

The Doctor reaches into the various pockets and pulls out junk which he hands to the baffled Squire.

DOCTOR: Telescope, magnifying glass, ball of string, flashlight... without batteries...

SQUIRE: My lord?

The Doctor looks thoughtful.

DOCTOR: Well, they’re all useful objects. I might as well keep them.

He stuffs the objects into his tunic pockets and tried another pouch on the coat. He takes out some more junk, handing each item to the Squire.

DOCTOR: Some sort of passport marked “galactic”... some bifocals, a handkerchief, a brooch. Gold. Aztec I think?

He pockets that. He starts to shove the others into his pockets as well.

SQUIRE: But you don’t need looking glasses, my lord!

DOCTOR: You never know. [takes out more stuff] A yo-yo. A broken stalk of metal... a car aerial?

SQUIRE: What’s a car aerial?

DOCTOR: know, I haven’t the faintest idea. I best keep a hold of it until I do. You never know when things like that might come in handy. I remember on Mars... [takes out two books] I don’t think I’ve read these. Best hang onto them. [pockets them] Now, what is this?

He takes out the folder of business cards, unintentionally letting them spill out into a kind of plastic scarf. The Doctor and Squire take opposite ends.

DOCTOR: [reads] “Archimedes”.

SQUIRE: [reads] “Zola”. What are these things?

DOCTOR: I’m not certain. I’ll read through them tonight. Uh, fold them up, would you, David, there’s a good squire. What ELSE do we have in here? [takes out card] “This card merits a life-time membership to the table-tennis club of Alpha Centauri. You may keep this card, sell it, or use it in whatever manner you see fit.”

The Doctor tosses it away, thinks again, then snatches it out. He pulls out of his old coat a recorder, a cricket ball and a bag of sweets. Without commenting, he shoves them all in his pockets. He upends the coat and spills out objects onto the floor. The Squire examines them.

DOCTOR: Anything?

SQUIRE: I think these are fireworks, my lord, but I’m not sure.

DOCTOR: Fireworks? I’ll keep them. They might come in handy. Very good for unblocking volcanic ducts. What’s that?

SQUIRE: Some kind of docket. “Great Western Railway 1901”.

DOCTOR: Hmm. Unused. Best hang onto that.

SQUIRE: Some loose coins I do not recognize.

DOCTOR: The currency might be odd, but loose change is always sensible.

The Squire picks up an oil can and looks at it confused. The Doctor shrugs, trying on a fox mask and then turfing it. He starts shoving the last objects into his tunic coat.

DOCTOR: So. Assuming these belong to me, what do we know?

SQUIRE: You carry a lot of unnecessary clutter, my lord?

DOCTOR: The telescope suggests I’m used to seeing wonders at a distance but the magnifying class suggests I’m equally versed in examining things up close. The ball of string and torch indicate a familiarity with poorly-lit mazes. This passport shows I traveled between many separate places... I was a traveler, David. I once knew worlds beyond this castle.

SQUIRE: Assuming it WAS you.

DOCTOR: Well, yes, that’s a given. Perhaps I was friends with the owner of the coat. Mayhaps we traveled together across the Boriatic wastes? [sighs] I wonder what became of him. Anything else in the coat?

The Squire checks it over.

SQUIRE: Just some badges shaped like cats. Oh, and this.

The Squire hands over a square pocket mirror.

DOCTOR: [curious] Some kind of puzzle box?

He cracks it open to show his reflection inside.

DOCTOR: It’s some kind of locket with his likeness in it... [frowns] Hang on. His image, it’s MOVING! It’s mouthing words! MY WORDS! David, look at this, that face is copying every word I say exactly in time!

The Squire peers at it.

SQUIRE: My lord?


SQUIRE: That’s your reflection. It’s a mirror.

DOCTOR: But that’s not my face, David!

The Squire patiently angles the mirror so it reflects both their faces.

DOCTOR: [quiet] That’s not me. I don’t look like that. [worried] David. What do I look like?

SQUIRE: Ah, you are... medium of size. Perhaps a little smaller. Your hair is short, dark and sleet. You have eyebrows that made you look sad, your eyes are storm grey, a pointed face...

DOCTOR: No, no, no! I don’t look like that! I’ve got... a mop of fair curls! A cherubic face beaming with vast intelligence under a noble brow, full-lipped and sensual, something slightly feline about the eyes...

The Doctor runs his hands over his head and hair.

DOCTOR: [aghast] David. My face has changed.

SQUIRE: Nay, my lord. You have always looked like this.

DOCTOR: Then my memory is playing tricks. I do not remember this face!

SQUIRE: That makes sense, my lord. Your memory has been troubling you for some time. It’s why we started searching this coat in the first place.

DOCTOR: I never suspected the trouble was so fundamental. I don’t just have trouble remembering my past, I have trouble remembering who I am. What I am. [troubled] David! Why are you backing away from me like that?

The squire has not moved.

SQUIRE: My lord?

DOCTOR: Oh. Oh dear.

His eyes roll up in his head and he falls backwards...


The Doctor crashes against the stone floor and groans. Alarms are blaring, there is the sound of running footsteps, screams, gunfire and explosions. He looks around in shock.

DOCTOR: David? David! Squire! What’s happening? Where am—-

There is the sound of energy weapons, and an explosion tears through the wall behind him. Dust and stone falls as the wall starts to collapse. There is another blast and a microwazed corpse in the red and white of a Chancellery Guard topples into view, crashing onto the floor. The Doctor, startled and freaking out, scrambles away.

DOCTOR: No... this isn’t real. It’s not happening. It’s not reality, it’s a... [rubs head] think, think, think! One locksmith doesn’t make a summer! As below as above! A metaphor! That’s it! This is a sign of something that’s happening, a ripple, an echo.

The Doctor looks around. More explosions and gunfire are heard.

DOCTOR: The walls are breaking down. The attack is winning. But who’s attacking? Who’s being attacked? Maybe it’s amnesia. And my memory is fighting it. But who’s who? Who’s winning? [thoughtful] I wonder which side I’m on?

The Doctor’s eyes widen and he whirls round, sensing someone moving through the smoke of battle towards him. It’s a white and gold Dalek.

DOCTOR: I’m not entirely sure what you represent, but I doubt it’s very nice.

The Dalek stares at him for a moment.


The Dalek fires. The Doctor dives and the shot strikes the wall behind him. The stone shatters in an electric red blast. The Dalek fires again and again, missing the Doctor as he scrambles frantically over the rubble.

DOCTOR: Something so Freudian can’t POSSIBLY be healthy!

There are jagged white X-shaped flashes of light. The Dalek rocks and jerks, spasming and letting out a drunken noise. More Chancellery Guards have arrived and are firing on the Dalek. It turns to face them, only exposing more of its shell. The Dalek manages to let off a few shots before it explodes, taking most of the guard squad with it.


The Doctor scrambles through a shattered wall and onto the side of a rocky hill. The air is orange and thick with smoke. The alarms and explosions can still be heard quite clearly. The Doctor struggles to keep his balance.

VOICE: What are you going to do with yourself now the war is over?

VOICE: There are always other wars.

The Doctor looks around, scared and helpless. Fissures and split are opening in the rock around him. He sees gullies filled with gushing lava. Great explosions of flame swallow the landscape. The Doctor coughs and chokes, trying to climb back into the city. A Dalek glides out of the smoke and rubble and stares down at the defenseless Doctor. He’s almost in tears as the world shakes around him.


A hand slides over his shoulder. He whirls around to see the Rani standing right behind him, a cold expression her face.


The Doctor is now lying on his bed. The Rani stands over him. There is no sign of the Squire.

RANI: You were having a nightmare?

DOCTOR: Yes... [smiles] Just a reaction to the creature attacking us as we dined, Mistress. One minute’s sleep before midnight is worth six months in a leaky boat. [sits up] I thought you might come to check on me.

RANI: You were correct.

DOCTOR: Are there more of those animals outside?

RANI: Does it matter?

DOCTOR: It does - IF they continue attacking.

RANI: They won’t.

DOCTOR: How can you be sure?

RANI: I won’t allow it.

DOCTOR: You didn’t prevent it happening.

RANI: [icily] I was distracted. You now have my full attention.

DOCTOR: Do you still believe I came up with this plot as an excuse to leave the castle?

RANI: [shakes head]

DOCTOR: What makes you think I would have done such a thing?

RANI: It is the way things are.

DOCTOR: Will we EVER leave the castle?

The Rani turns to look at the police box.

RANI: One day.


RANI: [to herself] When order is restored. When things are no longer imperfect. When the dragon is slain.

DOCTOR: Dragon? What dragon? How many monsters live in this land of ours?

RANI: You are quite safe, my Lord Doctor. You and Cyrian alone have been chosen for my protection against any and all.

DOCTOR: Why? Why choose me?

RANI: We have known each other since we were children.

DOCTOR: I don't remember that.

RANI: It was many years ago. People often forget their early memories.

DOCTOR: I begin to wonder if I have forgotten more than I know.

RANI: I wonder that too. It is one of the things that makes you fascinating company.

DOCTOR: Fascinating?

RANI: Indeed.

DOCTOR: More fascinating that Lord Cyrian? Or less fascinating?

RANI: You fret too much over the boy. He is not your rival.

DOCTOR: If you say so.

RANI: I suppose it is only natural for you to think that. There are only the two of you for now.

DOCTOR: Two of us? What about the servants?

RANI: They will never be your rivals.

DOCTOR: I would think it foolish to underestimate them.

RANI: They are mindless and obedient as servants should be.

DOCTOR: My squire is neither.

RANI: He is the exception that proves the rule.


RANI: If there was no sense of life or emotion in his demeanor, no spark of intellect or passion, you would have no confidant. No companion. And you need a companion, my Lord Doctor. I knew that right from the start.

DOCTOR: From the start?

The Rani smoothly changes the subject.

RANI: You and Cyrian are both very important to me. More, you are the perfect opposites, night to day, yin to yang. Devoted admirers and... intellectual equal. Your manners and morals may have put us at odds in the past, but I have never forgotten how ferocious your intellect is.

DOCTOR: I remember no such quarrels. In fact, as I think again, my memories of living here, with you, only cover a matter of months. There is nothing beyond that. Nothing. Blankness. I have no past. [frowns] Doesn't everyone have a past?

RANI: Once. But things changed. Now, everything is different. A new universe.

DOCTOR: Out with the borrowed, in the blue?

RANI: Something like that.

DOCTOR: [quietly] My memory is limited.

RANI: It is best.

DOCTOR: Did you somehow... affect my memory?

The Rani doesn't reply, but continues to meet his gaze.

DOCTOR: You have the power to do so.


DOCTOR: I would be surprised if you didn't.

RANI: You think I have reshaped you according to my desires?

DOCTOR: It would explain a few things.

RANI: And if I had altered your memories, would it matter?

DOCTOR: It would satisfy my curiosity, Mistress.

RANI: But how would it make you feel?

The Doctor returns her stare.

DOCTOR: You are my queen, the most important thing in my universe. You have done so much for me, given me all I could want. If you took it upon yourself to meddle with my brain, change the most fundamental aspect of my soul, then I don't doubt for one minute it was done for the most noble of reasons, with my best interests at your heart. Hearts.

The Rani reaches out and strokes his cheek.

RANI: All of my power wasn't enough to give me exactly what I wanted. I could only manage devotion or intellect. I wanted both.

DOCTOR: And so Cyrian...

RANI: [interrupts] Are you pleased that you received intellect, my Lord Doctor?

DOCTOR: ...perhaps.

The Rani's expression is plain. Wrong answer.

RANI: Perhaps?

DOCTOR: Did I receive intellect? How could I be sure?

RANI: My word is not enough?

DOCTOR: I don't doubt your word, Mistress Rani. I doubt my own capacity to understand.

The Rani smiles.

RANI: Cyrian is devoted to me. It cost him his genius.

DOCTOR: You bring him as many books and tomes as you do for me.

The Rani takes a slender book from her robes.

RANI: Books like this?

DOCTOR: Like two peas in a pod flock together.

The Doctor examines the book and flips through it.

RANI: It is one of Cyrian's favorites.

The Doctor examines the print. It is in the Arabic scrawl of Gallifreyan, but in very large print and there are pictures as well.

RANI: You will notice the vocabulary is simple, the print large and the pictures detract from the text and take up valuable space on the pages. It is a book for a child as that is all he can manage.

DOCTOR: A nursery book.

RANI: Quite.

DOCTOR: For Time Tots.

RANI: Doctor.

Her voice is warning, but the Doctor's almost entranced.

DOCTOR: [lost] "And in the Great Days of Rassilon, five great principles were laid down. Can you remember what they were, my children?"

RANI: Doctor!

The Doctor screws up his eyes in sudden discomfort.

DOCTOR: Devotion and intellect. [dazed] There's so many things I don't understand.

RANI: Then, my Lord Doctor, do what you always do.

DOCTOR: Mistress?

You have questions. You must seek the answers.

DOCTOR: But you said I cannot...

RANI: Seek answers within. Not answers without.

She turns her head. The Doctor follows the gaze. They both look at the TARDIS.

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