Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The GBCCPS Season 3

2013 sees third series of prose Companion Chronicles, shorter than the previous two, sets out its stall from its bizarre subtitle onwards. These stories of the Doctor are not told by friends or enemies, but people who barely know him and invariably never will. The larynx-twisting Logorrhea of the Lookers-On sounds more like a hideous bowel complaint than the premise of a story. Does anyone really care what passers-by think of our heroes and their adventures when they aren't in a position to judge either? That could be why some stories abandon even that idea...

Guess how many of those stories don't feature the Doctor at all.

Ace and Sailor Jack: On the Overland - Al B Dickenson
Another NA-style epic and prequel to the equally-gargantuan The Boys Upstairs, the very premise was so off-putting I could barely face reading it regardless of the quality. Even the fact the narrator seemed convinced Ace was a man doesn't entice me. There's gangsters, a train, the Doctor being manipulative, if that's enough encouragement, enjoy. I didnt.

It’s Only Hydrus If I Fail - David Hogan
A corrupt dystopian colony is overthrown by the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric while those on the ground watch on in bewilderment. Despite some flair and wit, there are no surprises and the story unfolds as predictably as a falling stack of dominoes.

When Harry Met Lucy - Samuel Marks
Shortly before the events of The End of Time, Martha gets the lowdown from Lucy Saxon about life with her husband over the Season 3 finale. By necessity covering a lot of ground already explore, Master/Lucy fanfics have picked the best ideas already. Lucy Saxon's life sucked before, during and after and while there is a surprising ending the road getting there is straightforward and dull.

A Dream of Horror - Andrew Jero
A near-death experience for Nyder - if that's what actually happens - ensures this story lives up to its name in this Prisoner-esque like questioning of reality. While it's frightening and unsettling, it has no answers, offers no clues and the Doctor has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

The Irregularity - Jake Reynolds
Bad Wolf told through the eyes of the Controller. Great prose, but another piece written around a minor character in a RTD season finale so there are no twists or surprises.

Of Death - Philip Boyes
Only Jangy Giggins would be bold enough to write an epic novella formatted to such a professional degree based entirely on an offhand comment by Joshua "Lemon Bloody Cola" Wynne that he would like to be stabbed to death by Hannah Murray. A solo older Seventh Doctor encounters a hilariously gothic ancestor of Ben Chatham who is being haunted by his descendent's demise in a Hannah-Murray-knife-massacre. Lovecraft, Sparacus and LBC implode in a story so well written hardly anyone would realize it's a pisstake of the Land of Fiction's most infamous son.

The Lonely Assassins, An Anthology of Mystery by L. Nightingale - Steve Fiori
Blink retold by Larry Nightingale and his encounters with Clive Finch, LINDA and Amy Pond. Entertaining, fun and gives the Weeping Angels the brilliant nickname of "the Stone Bastards" but it doesn't add much to the TV story or the character.

Horrors of the Mind - Elinor Ekman
Dr. Todd from Kinda returns in another dream-reality tale of scientists, Daleks and the Fifth Doctor and Turlough. Although the set-up is interesting and unusual, the main character is so different from her last appearance she might as well have been someone else and it commits the cardinal sin of having her knocked out and missing the resolution of the story. Nonetheless, there's real potential here.

...He Kindly Stopped For Me - Andrew Weston
The Eleventh Doctor and Clara encounter the sole survivor of a terrible war. A neat short tale, with the nature of the narrator being kept secret until the end and probably the only story that really gets the object of the exercise, showing someone's life entirely changed by a brief encounter with the Doctor.

Logan’s Run - Samuel Marks
A lovely sequel to Season 1's The Devil's Rock as the Tenth Doctor and Logan Hawk (the pretend space adventurer actually completely out of his depth) encounter a planetary catastrophe engineered by a Sycorax and Logan finds himself having to finally walk the walk after talking the talk. It takes a leaf out of BF's book by creating a new companion (or rather recurring character) and if Logan were to return in future tales I for one would certainly not complain.

And in the usual final analysis:

Highlights - Of Death, ...He Kindly Stopped For Me and Logan's Run

Lowlights - none of them were truly awful, but the rest weren't successful while AASJOTO of course couldn't even provide enough enthusiasm to read it.

Following on from The Epistles of the Enemy, it is clear that the format can only been tampered with so much and Logorrhea of the Lookers-On has granted a formula that constantly threatens to alienate the reader. Three stories fail to do more than put spins on TV episodes, keep the Doctor at such a distance that you'd be forgiven for being surprised when he turns up at all. Creating brand new characters who go through a proper arc and tell an exciting sci-fi romp at the same time is not easy and it's easy to spot which ones went where. Ultimately, the whole saga lacks the memorable punches or even interesting takes on the Doctors themselves with the Fifth making any impact.

Better luck next time.

Review - The GBCCPS Season 2

Following the success of the first season, 2012 saw the return of The Companion Chronicles Prose Series but this time with a twist - they would no longer be Companion Chronicles but Epistles of the Enemy, and told from the viewpoint of the Doctor's foes rather than his friends. BF of course had attempted something similar with Mastermind, given a certain character fits the format like a black velvet glove but while the Master appears in four of the stories, he only actually narrates one. There are fewer stories (apparently a Voord-based epic was unable to be used) and unlike the previous year there is no attempt to make sure there's a story for every Doctor

Stories from the villain's POVs - more fun than it sounds...

Fimbulvinter by Meg MacDonald
Fimbulvinter is a term from Norse mythology and basically means "Winter Is Coming", which is appropriate in this tale of the child Doctor and Master growing apart following their viewing of the Untempered Schism and exploration of Gallifrey's mountains. The story is told of the view of a strange wild animal they encounter and their very different reactions. A very downbeat and brutal tale.

Fish Fingers & Mustard by Paul Parncutt
An out-of-control TARDIS crashlands in a Leadworth backyard, bringing two very different characters together in a tale of mutal mistaken identity. I can't praise this story enough, or go into any further detail without ruining the plot twists but this is a brilliant melding of the RTD and early Moffat eras as the two main story arcs seamlessly wind into each other. Brilliant.

I, Zygon by Al B Dickerson
One of the surviving Zygons from Broton's group meets up with the Fourth Doctor again and tell his story. An excellent character piece that shows how truly strange and alien the Zygons and their technology are, but has sadly been overwritten by their return in Day of the Doctor. Even so, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this as the definitive take on the Zygons and a must-read for anyone who wants to try and do the shape-shifters justice. Worth looking out for.

Cold Fusion by Samuel Marks
The Eighth Doctor investigates a Silurian colony under a seaside town and unwittingly unites lovers from two different species. A rather silly, unengaging story that treads the same sort of ground as the Paternoster Gang. Perhaps before Madam Vastra was introduced on TV, this would have been mould-breaking and original but as it is it the most dispensible story in the series.

The Rise and Fall of Richard Knight by David Hogan
An excerpt from the diaries of a businessman who unwittingly aided the Master and fell foul of the Third Doctor, Jo and UNIT. A nice quintessential Pertwee tale, but the understandably-biased narrative means it can be easy to miss precisely what Knight did wrong. A clever, witty little story.

How We Killed A God by Steve Fiori
On her deathbed, Madam Kavorian reflects on the scheme to kill the Doctor when she gets a visit from the very much not-dead Eleventh Doctor. A clever tale filling in a few unanswered questions and doesn't contradict the later Time of the Doctor, but the portrayal of Kavorian as a noble demon rather than the lip-smacking sadistic witch grates badly.

You Are Not Alone by Fionna MacDonald

A vignette by the Jacobi Master as he uses the chameleon arch, abandoning the Time War when he hears the Eighth Doctor has perished. Impressively written and well-thought out, especially given the author is a young girl with learning difficulties.

The War of Jenkin’s Ear (And Other Stories) by Nic Ford
The Kandyman hunts down the Seventh Doctor in a bar at the climax their endless feud. Like the Doctor, you'll probably be wondering "what endless fued?" and the Kandyman is more than happy to fill in the gaps in this demented and warped anthology celebrating all that fandom recoils from - Season 24, Vervoids, Nimon, time-travelling carrot cake... If by the end of this story you're not demanding the Kandyman return to the TV series then you obviously haven't read it. I loved this one.

Silencing the Beast by Meg MacDonald
Following his ordeal on Midnight, the Tenth Doctor sends Donna away while he deals with a voice in his head determined to break him. A genuinely unsettling character piece, though while it may not have anything to do with the Dream Lord, it's impossible not to imagine Toby Jones' sneering tones while reading. No answers are given and no closure is offered. Highly-recommended.

Anagram of the Kaleds by Nic Ford
Just as last year, Ford again decides to provide a comedy skit rather than fit with the format but at least it's fun and entertaining. This sees the creation of the Daleks as a 1970s workplace sitcom with the first Kaled mutant a sarcastic ex-lollypop man and Davros his accident-prone supervisor. If you thought Genesis of the Daleks needed more velcro, custard and wise-cracking squids, this is for you.

The Rallax Operation by Al B Dickenson
Another massive tale, thankfully split in two and with a more engaging narrator. The Tenth Doctor bumps into Garron and Unstoffe and things pretty much go to hell from thereon. These stories have often blended Classic and NuWho together, but it's hard to beat this version with Garron fearing the wrath of "the rhinos" and Unstoffe frightening the Doctor by knocking on a window four times. The story ends up with a cast of characters that form a band more worthy of television exploration than anything Torchwood has managed to offer. A great way to round off the series.

Highlights: Fish Fingers & Mustard, Silencing the Beast, TWOJEAOS, The Rallax Operation

Lowlights: How We Killed A God, Cold Fusion, Anagram of the Kaleds

With fewer stories, the slant towards the New Series is far more notable and the emphasis on the Doctor is obvious but thankfully none of the stories go for the cheap trick of saying a villain was really the good guy all along even when the Doctor is portrayed as a sinister, nightmarish. Nonetheless, the strike rate is hugely impressive and thankfully lacks the recurring motiffs and repetition of the previous season. Frankly, this is a format Big Finish is missing out on.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review - The GBCCPS Season 1

Just posting my thoughts on the fan-written Companion Chronicles on the interweb. These are all PDF documents, published in 2011, with a mock Big Finish cover on the back page and formatted to be very easy on the eye, giving a decent crack o'the whip to the New Series in the days when BF was off limits.

With the recent demise of Big Finish's beloved Companion Chronicles - which featured every Classic series companion at some point bar Mel - it's no surprise that fans have carried on the tradition. The prose version of these stories is, in a way, closer to the original conception of "talking books" than the nigh-on-full audio dramas like Solitaire or The Jigsaw War. Presented with mock CD covers in neat PDF formats, the GallifreyBase series has gone through four different iterations and proving itself as flexible as its progenitor..

Classic Series Companion Chronicles, worthy of Big Finish...

My 2000-Year Diary by Rory Williams (Plastic) - Al B Dickenson
Exactly what it says on the tin. In the starless Big Bang universe, Auton Rory tells some of his hijinks to Richard Dawkins as they wait for the Pandorica to open. A kind of cheeky cross between Blackadder and Forest Gump as Rory encounters various historical characters, it fits so convincingly into the episode I'm hard-pressed to work out which bits are entirely the author's own imagination - though Rory being a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's Sandman is probably one of them.

Right of Passage - Nic Ford
Leela's first trip in the TARDIS brings her to a crucial point in her own childhood and she and the Doctor find themselves caught in a predestination paradox. Interestingly, the Sevateem are portrayed as a bunch of boring stick-in-the-muds rather than the hair-trigger killing machines one would expect - they're more likely to force you to clean the latrines than take the test of the Horda and Leela's apparently been desperate to get some real excitement. I could forgive that given how fun the story is, but it features my pet hate of forgetting that they were using the wooden control room at the time. This isn't exactly complicated stuff!

A Case of Jo - Declan Lynn
An abandoned diary of Jo as she goes undercover in a woman-only business that's been leaving mutated radioactive corpses everywhere. Jo's portrayal as a hysterical screaming feminazi almost works, but it falls into the old Sparacassian trap of being all build up with a villain who barely gets their wikipage entry out before they're all killed. Avoidable.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving - Betawho
Curiously abandoning the idea of the first person narrative, this is a simple character piece as the Sixth Doctor and Peri encounter versions of themselves from a parallel universe - a moustached brunette eyepatched Doctor dressed as Captain Jack and Peri in leather fetish catsuits. I'm not sure if the twist is that they're evil (shock!) or that they have a much healthier relationship than the "real" TARDIS crew.

The Devil's Rock - Samuel Marks
One of Martha's stories told during the year that never was, appropriately enough celebrating the Tenth Doctor. This is a tale of their encounter with an Ace Rimmer like space hero who is clearly better at this thing than the Doctor, but like Jack in The Empty Child the Time Lord soon reminds us all why we prefer him. A great little story with a nice sequel hook.

Internal Monologue - Simon Berian
Intriguingly told entirely through dialogue, this story has Wilf and the Nobles coping with an alien incursion with only a very surly (and very out of character) Second Doctor from Season 6b. The writer can pull off apocalyptic horror (Wilf is infected with a mind parasite) and cheerful romp (amnesiac Donna using psychic paper) but can't really find a balance between them. Uneven and at times exasperating.

Halloween on the Powell Estate - Andrew Wylie
That's Halloween as in the Buffy episode where the costumes turn their wearers into monsters. Cut and paste into Aliens of London and there's not much else to say. The prose fails to make the monsters scary, the logic of the solution doesn't make sense and the idea an elderly Rose would treasure this story because it was the only time the Ninth Doctor was domestic rather undermines the point of The Christmas Invasion.

The Wow Factor - David Hogan
Strongly rooted in Big Finish, this is a Bonfire Night tale of the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard fighting Chameleons on the high street in a sequel to The Faceless Ones that never takes the obvious route. Nonetheless it's very rushed and the main flaw is it's just a story with Charley in it, rather than a story of an event that really mattered to her.

The Tomorrow People - M Roderick Grant
Anyone expecting a Homo Superior will be disappointed. No sooner has Mickey joined the TARDIS than he finds himself trapped in a white void where the Captain "Mary Sue" Jones fighting the Mara. While the initial dreamy Mind Robber-like horror is effective, the plot is an incoherent runaround. When the regulars are more in character when they're evil, you know it's trouble.

The NuWho Companion Chronicles...

Hell In High Heels - Andrew Weston
A reasonably routine and straightforward tale of the Eleventh Doctor and Amy teaming up with River Song to deal with a crashed spaceship, made interesting by being told from River's POV and her quiet despair at the time paradoxes and secrets she has to endure behind her irritatingly smug facade. Enjoyable.

The Boys Upstairs - Al B Dickenson
A mammoth tale of timey-wimey body-swapping alien-ghost stuff that outstays its welcome. Ace as a narrator rapidly becomes wearying, whether it's her just-joined-the-TARDIS self or the cynical post-Doctor self in the future. It stopped making sense long before I stopped caring, probably around the time a character was revealed to be their own mother. The cover's not good either.

Twelve Hungry Men - Nic Ford
A silly little story of the twelve Doctors (the agreed eleven and Peter Cushing) gatecrashing a cake shop and trying to decide what their next incarnation should be. There's a very nasty sting in the tale which still works now Capaldi has been cast. Short and enjoyable, in direct contrast to the previous story.

Amazing Grace - Matt Powell
Grace Holloway lives in a perfect world where she has everything she wants, and the Eighth Doctor tries to snap her out of it - and the methods he uses are shocking to say the least. Like so many of these stories, it involves enemies from the future attacking the Doctor's past and companions being placed in false environments. You could tell Season 6 was on at the time. Even so, it's worth reading.

The Price of Wishes - Andrew Weston
The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa recover from the loss of Tegan and Adric by visiting an alien carnival where a fortune teller gives Nyssa a chance to live in a world where The Keeper of Traken had a happy ending. So far, so Turn Left but the resolution to the story is one of the biggest gut-punches I've read and not seen before. Nyssa continues to bring out the sadist in whoever writes for her. Recommended.

Dust - Meg McDonald
The newly-regenerated Ninth Doctor is caught up in a mine collapse and befriends one of the miners he meets, a young girl called Keegan. Nothing not seen elsewhere, but competently done and the characters are engaging but it's hard to reconcile the contented, easy-going Ninth Doctor with the one we see on TV.

A Ding-Dong Merrily Up High - Steve Fiori
The Tenth Doctor and Donna gatecrash a sophisticated Christmas party at the top of a skyscraper in the year 6000 and then the Daleks attack. The characterization is spot on, with the device of Donna retelling the story to her grandfather, but the plot goes nowhere and resolves itself with such ease it almost seems insulting that the revamped bronze Daleks to be used as generic canon fodder. That aside, another great tale.

Elephant in the Room - Nic Ford
Dodo Chaplet is never a popular choice to be written about and those that have give her particularly unpleasant time. This story is no exception but it also ties in the various nasty fates of the Chaplet girl in this metatextual tale set between episodes two and three of The War Machines. Another story of the Doctor's companions being innocents caught in the crossfire from enemies from the future, it nonetheless postumously gives Dodo a dignity she never had on screen.

The Seven Year Switch - Paul Parncutt
Clearly saving the best till last, this story sees Eleven, Amy and Rory investigating a captured Time Lord weapon that a dictator is using to literally turn back time in seven-year increments. So, as the TARDIS crew try to stop him, they steadily become younger and younger and need to remind themselves of their future with the psychic paper. Clever, funny, heartwarming and surprising, this is a well-written tale.

All things considered, in the final analysis there are more hits and misses even though things are understandably skewed onto NuWho and timey-wimey assassination plots. There's enough variety in tone and prose to keep one interested, but given Companion Chronicles are character pieces it's exasperating how many stories fail to remember their narrators are supposed to have a personality - while Elephant in the Room ironically turns this into a strength, Twelve Hungry Men can't even be bothered to have a companion.

In summary, the standout greats - The Seven Year Switch, The Price of Wishes and The Devil's Rock with honorable mentions to The Elephant in The Room and M2KDBRW(P).

The standout duffers would be - HOTPE, The Tomorrow People, The Boys Upstairs.

Definitely worth taking a look at, or as Twelve would say: google it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Voord Is The Word: Ossuary

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...)

This adventure takes between Moebius Trip and Butterfly Wings

It took nine days of uninterrupted work to excavate the object. Night followed day and day followed night as the sand-blowers were used constantly, peeling away layer after layer after layer. Calls from the colony became ever more frequent as the Pilot tried to find out what was going on; her requests would have been deliberately ignored if anyone had enough time to answer them.

As the week stretched on and the workers fought against fatique and dehydration, the nature of the buried object became more obvious. It was a steel zeppelin that had landed out in the desert and gradually been buried. Although primitive in design it was constructed of a technology far in advance of anything the human race had encountered; even a million years of harsh dust, sand and erosion under ultraviolet glares had not so much as scratched the hull.

But like any halfway decent cult, the Esoterics had an answer for anything.

It took very little discussion or imagination to adjust their mythology to fit around this new development. They had already believed their prophets had lead them out of the Milky Way to the edge of the frontier, that destiny had guided them to be underpaid skivvies to the mining corporations and terraforming combines. And now fate or coincidence or blind chance had ensured that they and they alone had uncovered the artifact.

As the tenth evening drew in, they uncovered a hatchway in the underside of the airship. It was unlocked and the mechanisms that opened and closed the portal still functioned perfectly; their durability was as mysterious as their nature. The inside of the zeppelin was cool and pitch-dark, with a strange fetid rubbery smell that caught at the back of the throat far worse than any dust or sand.

Poygarne was the first to enter the craft, and not merely for his rank. The others were afraid to go a place no human life had ever been - except, perhaps, in nightmares of course. But their faith and loyalty was not so easily tested and they followed their leader into the dark, into the intact derelict as though walking into the gaping mouth of a beast that might only have been sleeping.

It was obvious that their excavations were nowhere near complete. The airship they had uncovered was the tip of the iceberg, with a far larger construct still underground. Either that, some of the brothers joked, or else it was somehow bigger on the inside than it was on the outside.

Poygarne himself was uncertain if they had uncovered a crypt or a tomb or an underground city. Certainly if it was an airship as it appeared, it was some kind of cargo freighter - the vast oval hold they soon found was filled with polished metallic caskets like hexagonal hat boxes stacked one atop the other. They numbered in the tens of hundreds, and there was no telling if this was the only hold.

The brothers reverently opened the first of the caskets and then another. Each one contained a strange helmet designed for a humanoid head with two visors for eyes, a barred grille for a mouth and two V-shaped horns that curved along the sides like fins. Sprouting from the snout of the visor at the front of the mask was a black antennae ending with recievers that were either circular, triangular or crescent shaped.

Poygarne cradled the helmet in his hands, marvelling at the strange flexibility of the material. It seemed to weigh less than nothing and it tingled ever-so-slightly against his fingertips. A transporter of helmets seemed odd, at least until they discovered the vulcanized rubber suits at the bottom of each container. A uniform, perhaps? The dress of an army older than mankind.

"O Great and Powerful Synthesizer of All Matter And Life," he sang softly to himself. "Lord of the Primeval Chaos, Mightiest of All Creators, your faithful children have traversed the sunless gulfs of eternity to bear witness to your resurrection. Could this ritualized garments be intended for us to wear?"

So saying, Poygarne threw back his hood, placed the visored mask over his face and pulled the helmet down over the back of his neck. The headpiece seemed to stretch and then contract, as if making itself comfortable over his skull. Such intelligent fabrics were commonplace and expensive, and none were really surprised that the helmet could personalize itself to the wearer.

But then Poygarne began to scream in agony.

Eventually, the screams stopped.

And by that time the creature wearing the helmet was no long Poygarne.

Voord Is The Word: Legacy of the Voord

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...)

This adventure takes place between The Second Coming and Knight-Fall

The star-studded canopy over the warm pink-coloured world of Lakertya was normally a monochrome realm of infinite white stars against pitch blackness. But now a navy-blue police public call box was spinning towards Lakertya, and it seemed this splash of colour was a sign of more to come.

Suddenly a beam of light sliced through the night towards the TARDIS. The bolt of energy exploded into multicoloured shards like fragments from a shattered rainbow. Tossed hither and tither, police box was struck by another bolt and then another. The bombardment continued, like a swarm of multicoloured insects chasing the runaway time machine as it struckled to break free.


"Hold on, Mel!" yelled the Doctor over the din, frantically re-setting controls on the console. "Hold on!"

Mel clung on to the edge of the console as the room shuddered and swayed around her. "What is it?" she shouted, unnerved by the sudden onslaught. "What's attacking us?"

The Doctor spared a glance at a monitor display. "Focused beams of radiation!" He shook his head in disbeleif. "I don't know how I missed these readings…" He hauled himself to another panel and studied the read-outs. "It's coming from the planet Lakertya!"

"Oh, the people down there don't like us!" observed Mel wryly.

"If memory serves, they're peaceful people so I don't under—"

The Doctor's words were lost to history as a series of explosions burst from above, brilliant white sparks showering down from where the walls met the ceiling near the scanner screen. The vibration rippling though the TARDIS increased wildly, and the Doctor and Mel were flung against the console. Before them, warning lights flashed madly and several video-screens lit up with the words DANGER – RADIATION PENETRATING OUTER PLASMIC SHELL! flashing anxiously.

"Just how deadly is this radiation?" shouted Mel, then realized she couldn't feel her fingers wrapped around the console edge. The numbness was spreading through arms, down her legs, a kind of strange cool sleepiness. "I must say... I'm feeling pretty peculiar,” she complained, her head suddenly too heavy for her neck to support.

The Doctor was suffering the same groggy disorientation as he struggled to keep hanging onto the console. "You... you should be all right, Mel, don't worry," he called, surprised at how slurred his voice had become. "You may lose consciousness, but I'm afraid..."

With a sickly groan, Mel passed out and fell to the shaking floor with a jolt that drove the air from her lungs.

The Doctor blinked and peered muzzily over the controls at her inert body. It was getting harder and harder for him to think. "Mel? Mel!" he shouted, but she didn't react. He let go of the console and collapsed to his knees beside her and fumbled to check the pulse at her neck. "Oh, she's out cold!" he realized miserably. "Oh, Mel... what I was going to say was 'it's deadly to Time Lords'."

The buffeting control room was making him nauseous and the Doctor grunted, slumping back onto his haunches. "Oh, so that's it?" he sighed, barely able to find the strength to speak. "Oh well." The next jolt slammed him onto his back, staring up at the underside of the control console. He grunted, but didn't have the energy to get back up. His whole body had gone numb as though he'd been given a general anesthetic. “Oh, I've had a good innings... all those lives I've lived... I hope the footprint I leave will be light but apposite...”

It's far from being all over, murmured a voice that seemed both inside and outside his head. It was a man's voice, soft with a Scottish burr to it.

The Doctor tried to focus his gaze. "Who said that?" he groaned in bewilderment. "Who is that? Who's there?" Then his eyes rolled up in his head and he lost conscious. A strange silver-blue glow was starting to gather itself around his hands and face, burning brighter and stronger with every passing moment. The Doctor’s facial features blurred like a wax mask melting, swirling like quicksilver.

The TARDIS suddenly lurched to the right, and the glowing Time Lord rolled onto his front. On the other side of the console, Mel slithered slightly away from her friend and the toolkit by the exercise bike collapsed with a loud clattering. Neither of them moved as the strange cacophony of sound reached a crescendo.


Engines howling in protest, the TARDIS tumbled and rolled from fresh impacts. The salvos of glowing light seared unnerringly towards the boxlike shape, straining the dimensional bonds that held the time-space craft together. The automatic systems took the only remaining course of action to escape the blistering energy pulses raking across the exterior - precisely what the instigators of the attack intended.

The TARDIS had been forced into a landing...


The intense enslaught was making the central console shudder and rocked between the unconscious bodies of the occupants. The whole interior creaked and groaned as the TARDIS began a series of emergency dimensional shifts to seek shelter on the planet Lakertya.

Suddenly the time machine was plunging through reality like a rollercoaster in free-fall...

Ikona took a chance. He broke cover from where he'd hidden at the cliff-edge and prepared to run, even though he'd be clearly silhouetted against the skyline. The invaders' attention seemed focussed elsewhere, their black forms distinct against the treeless, boulder-strewn plateau below. Lakertya had not always been so barren, colourless and uninviting. Not before the Voord came.

There was a strange disjointed racket above him and Ikona realized the Voord were turning to identify the source. He threw himself to the ground and twisted his head to look up at whatever was causing what sounded like a cavalry of tortured horses whinneying in agony. As he watched, Ikona saw a rainbow of ever-changing like curve out of the salmon-pink sky and onto the plateau.

A dark blue shape plummeted through the atmosphere, caught like a leaf down a drainpipe. The air above the sand shimmered yellow, green, purple and then with an enormous juddering thump it was suddenly all over. The TARDIS was standing on the barren rock as though it had always been there.

The Voord surrounded the strange box, having clearly expected its arrival.


Inside the TARDIS, all was now calm and still. Mel still lay unconscious on the floor by the wall. The Doctor still lay on his front, concealed on the other side of the console that didn't quite hide the strange fiery glow engulfing his head and hands.

With a low purring sound, the outside doors opened. The leader of the Voord strode over the threshhold and regarded the lifeless forms on the control room form. Its companions followed it into the TARDIS; one of them advancing towards Mel.

"The human is of no relevence," barked the leader in a stern voice. "The Time Lord is our quarry."

Two Voord moved around the control room to the Doctor's lifeless body, reaching out with their webbed claws to roll him onto his back. As the Time Lord lay face up on the floor, the regeneration process completed itself. The silver-blue blur of distortion his facial features had dissolved into finally stopped shifting and swirling, reforming and settling into a new arrangement.

The blonde curls were now short dark hair framing the eyes, nose and mouth of a completely different man. The exotic multicoloured clothes sagged, hanging in folds over a shorter, narrower body. The Doctor had changed, the regeneration triggered precisely as they had planned.

For a moment the two Voord seemed to stare, entranced, at the prone figure on the floor. Then, without a word, they picked him up between them and carried him out of the TARDIS as they had been instructed.

A new era was beginning.

Voord is the Word: The Voord-Makers

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...) 

  This adventure takes between Circus of Destiny and Hex

Calistillo looked down across the Ascension Hive, her eyes blazing in triumph. From her high gantry, he could see hundreds of newly-harvested citizens, lined up and waiting for her command. The final few citizens stumbled to their feet and took their places in the rows of wetsuit-clad, masked warriors. The helmets covered their dead, empty faces and their useless former identities. They were nothing but creatures for her command. This is what it would be like when she ruled all of Voord Magnii, Calistillo thought - the endless, exquisite fleeing of absolute power.

Calistillo's expression soon soured. "Not enough," she said softly. "Only a few hundred of all the people in the land. They huddle and cower out their in the silent ruins when they should have answered the call to battle, to ascension! All willing volunteers are now this legion but there are still more recruits out there. We shall harvest them and enlighten them by force. The time has come for the army to march! Seek all citizens within the city. Locate, retrieve and harvest," ordered the Queen of the Voord. "Stalk the streets, hunt down any who walk in open, break down the doors and take those who hide indoors!"

Her subjects nodded to indicate their compliance and the monstrous figures strode out of the chamber with unhurried strides. The Voord had been given and order and they would not rest until they had achieved what was required of them. They were better than the living creatures they had once bled and feared and died.

Of that, Calistillo had no doubt and the Voord knew no other truth.


The Voord marched out of the Hive and down the zig-zagging walkway that connected the tower to the thoroughfares opposite. The sunlight filtering down through the ocean sky was reflected off their polished helmets and glinting antennae. They made their way out into the city, a massive certainty in each measurd step of their flippered feet. As they entered the main street, the two rows of Voord dispersed with pairs heading off down steps and sidestreets, their deceptively-faceless helmets scanning the shadows for movement.

Down on the street level, those citizens still outdoors looked up in surprise at the dull, rhythmic slapping noise from the overcity above. The noise grew louder and nearer and men, women and children stared open-mouthed as they saw a phalanx of glossy black figures come into view on the transverse ramps. The dark shapes advanced towards ground level like an inexorable black wave, their huge triangular head glinting in the shafts of daylight between the debris-strewn upper levels.

Some screamed, and many ran in the panic. Others stood their ground and were wrestled and overcome by the superhuman-strong creatures with their unblinking visor-like eyes. They took hold of their victims in headlocks and bodily carried them back to the lifts and stairwells to return to the Hive. Despite the hundreds of Voord leaving the tower, there was easy access for them to return with fresh material for the harvest.


Trying hard not to panic, Peri and Ailysan carely retreated back along the columned arcade. As they reached the mouth of the arcade, a midnight-black shape slithered into the daylight and barred their way outside. Simultaneously a second Voord appeared at the entrance they'd fled, trapping the pair in the arcade.

Peri looked between the two expressionless monsters; they stood motionless and silent, to the point they could have been statues. There was no clue that they were even aware of the fugitives they had captured. But just as she felt confident enough to risk making a move, the Voord ahead of them drew its dagger.

Ailysan seemed mesmerized as the sunlight glinted and flashed on the polished blade, lighting up the empty oblong sockets in the front of the Voord helmet. It was unfeeling, empty, dead and she found herself wondering who the poor creature had once been, if they'd ever known each other... and now they never would. Anything human had been burnt out and replaced and now there was nothing but Voord.

And soon that would be their fate as well...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Voord is the Word: Retribution

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...)

 This adventure takes between Way Down Yonder
 and The House That Ur-Cjak Built

Turlough's stomach churned yet again at the foul stench from Vaeta's burned flesh. He'd hoped he would start to get used to the smell but by now was beginning to think it would put him off cooked meat for life; still a long life as a vegetarian was better than a shorter one as a carnivore. He glanced across to Nyssa, but she was as inscrutable as ever, watching as Vaeta and Kalfin exchanged barbs.

"It is most unexpected to encounter you again, Vaeta," the Voord leader intoned. The dead voice was an impassive as the mask it emerged from behind.

"I'm sure it is." Vaeta mangled a bone between his scarred, mangled jaws and spat them into the dark corner where the rest of his meal lay decomposing out of sight. "You probably thought we were all dead."

"You have proved your longevity. What do you want with us?"

Vaeta plucked the blade from Kalfin's belt, as though fascinated by the glinting knife. He dragged it across the doorframe with a spray of grey dust. "We want revenge. Justice. To claim what is ours." He turned, the point of the knife slicing through the air close to the chest of the captive Voord leader.

Turlough flinched, expecting the Voord to be killed in front of them.

Kalfin didn't flinch or even react to the threat. If anything it seemed bored. "Such originality. Do you have a specific grudge against the Voord or is to assuage your guilt and shame? You all knew the risk of the harvest and price of failure if you were deemed unworthy."

"Your machinery was at fault!"

"I had forgotten how pedantic you could be," Kalfin mused.

"We did all we were asked of, and more. We did not fail."

"Yes, you did," retorted Kalfin. "You joined the Voord to swell our ranks and aide our cause. You failed miserably to do either. Did any of your honestly expect gratitude and rewards? Did you think we would grant you a commendation for being useless?"

Vaeta was quiet for a moment. His rasping voice was tight. "None of us expected to be left to die."

"Yet you are still alive," the Voord pointed out. "How nice for you."

"But many of our friends and colleagues and family are not. The Voord butchered them."

Kalfin stepped forward. Everyone was so fixed on the argument between them, no one made a move to restrain the prisoner. "But Vaeta, you are Voord. You are still under our control - or why else would we be talking this this? You cannot lure us halfway across the galaxy and then deny we have no influence over your behavior. I never thought you naïve." Had the Voord leader still possessed a face, Nyssa was sure it would be twisted into a cold smile.

"You are here so we may kill you," hissed Vaeta angrily. "We are not fools!"

"That fact remains open to debate, I am afraid."

The guards limped forward and seized the Voord's rubbery arms, seizing it.

"Don't mock us!" shouted Vaeta. "Or I may kill you here and now!"

"Do I not recieve a last request before I die?" asked Kalfin innocently.

"You have one."

"Just one," said the Voord, and swiveled its helmet to look at Turlough and Nyssa. "You time travelers shall save my life. If you do not, if you allow me to perish than in a few zeniths I will be unable to rescind the order to execute your companions Tegan and the Doctor."

"What?" Nyssa explained.

"You're bluffing," accused Turlough calmly, but he was far from certain.

"Fear is more powerful than money," Kalfin said. It turned to Vaeta. "Do you still trust them to be your allies now I have their friends' lives under my control? Even if you kill me now, Vaeta, can you be sure they won't turn against you? Let us see just how little it takes to make your little commune tear itself apart!"

"Vaeta," said Nyssa firmly. "The Doctor is far more use to you alive than Kalfin is to you dead."

"The Doctor is a Time Lord," hissed Vaeta, pressing the tip of the knife into the side of the Voord's torso above its right hip. "He can regenerate to survive whatever execution Kalfin has ordered."

"Maybe but Tegan can't!"

"Then at least I can avenge her death ahead of time!" the ringleader laughed and plunged the knife deep into the sensitive nerve cluster in the Voord's side. A wet, muffled grunt of pain emerged from the grille in the mask and Kalfin convulsed against its guards. Vaeta twisted the knife first clockwise then counter-clockwise and then tore it loose. The triangular helmet sagged forward, dragging the Voord's body free from the guards and onto the filthy floor of the metal shack.

Vaeta regarded his dead enemy for a moment and then turned on his heel to face Nyssa and Turlough.

"And now we must decide what to do with you..."

Voord is the Word: Syncretic Interface

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...)

This adventure takes between Hebos and The Torson Triumvirate

The Doctor, Adric and Nyssa dashed over the wooden footbridge to the other side. Soon they were pushing their way through the trees and bushes, unaware one of the Balancers was watching them through the branches of a thick shrubbery. The balancer lifted his wrist-communicator to his lips and whispered a report to control.

"Where are we making for?" asked Adric worriedly.

The Doctor led them swiftly down a dirt track. "As far away from the compound and the spaceport as we can get. We'll be safe there..."

"We will, perhaps but we can't leave without Tegan!" Nyssa gasped.

"You're forgetting the TARDIS, Nyssa," the Doctor replied. "If we can get inside it in time..."

A little ahead, a Balancer emerged from behind a thicket of trees and raised his rifle. The shrill discharge echoed throughout the woods and the trio scrambled down a hillock. Up ahead was a familiar blue shape - only for armed Balancers to spring in front of the TARDIS and bar their escape. "Back the way we came!" ordered the Doctor.

They turned to run, but found themselves facing Jolsko and more Balancers waiting for them.

"Oh no," gasped Adric.

The Doctor raised his hands. "All right, all right, we give in."

"The chase is over, I'm afraid, Doctor," said Jolsko calmly. "Time to begin something new."

"Oh good," said the Doctor cheerfully. "Would it be you people realizing what you're doing will destroy untold billions of lives, perhaps?"

Jolsko smiled and shook his head. "We have been pledged to a task and we will not stop now. The new syncretic interface your young friends have created needs to be tested on a strong, rebellious mind and you, Doctor, are the perfect candidate."

"I'd rather die, if it's all the same to you," replied the Doctor flatly.

"I'm afraid you don't have a say in matters, Doctor. That is the point of the exercise rather."

Jolsko clicked his fingers and the Balancers advanced on the Doctor. Strengthened by deep-seated loyalty, Adric hurled himself on the nearest guard but was easily caught and forced to his knees, as were the Doctor and Nyssa.

Another technician stepped forward, carrying the Mark II helmet. Stepping up to the Doctor, he raised the helmet to lower it over the Time Lord's blond head.

Jolko paused to savor the moment and then nodded. "Welcome the Voord bloodline, Doctor."

"No!" shouted Nyssa, but it was already too late...

Voord Is The Word: The Fate of the Voord

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...)

This adventure takes between Multiface and The Sea of Fear

"The accused have been found guilty on all charges," declared Lord Savran, the scroll held between his clamp-like hands. "The totality of the crimes they have committed amount to the highest treason: crimes that endanger the very infrastructure of the Galactic Federation. In sentencing the accused species, their observed moral codes, history of interracial cooperation and loyalty to the Federation ideals of tolerance and quality have been taken into account but none have mitigated in their favor. All records of the Voord bloodline confirm that they prioritize their own conquest and advancement over the safety and rites of Federation citizens. There is no doubt at all that the Voord leaders are fully aware of their actions, the non-validity of said actions, and the likely consequences..."

Alphek stared up at the Martian delegate, inscrutable under the strange facemask. It did not display any sign of being concerned at what was happening, or even that it was paying attention as the sentence of the entire Voord species was passed.

"This court cannot find any reason to exonerate the accused in any way of the crimes they have committed against the Galactic Federation," concluded Savran. "The sentence is therefore that the entire Voord bloodline suffer extinction beyond all possibility of molecular preservation. The neural relay connecting the Voord Alphek to the rest of Voord kind will be overloaded with psychotropic energy until saturation and finally disintegration occur. Within the hour, every Voord in the universe will be dead."

The distinctive chimes of the court procedings rang out through the Judgment Chamber, and the Draconian guards lead the unresisting Alphek onto the illuminated podium. The huge transparent tube descended slowly from above, covering Alphek's helmet, then shoulders, torso, legs and finally sealed shut.

The Doctor and Sarah ran through the archway onto the observation gallery overhead.

"He's not doing anything!" Sarah exclaimed in surprise. "He's just going to let them do it!"

The Doctor watched as the Alpha Centauri delegate shuffled over to the control panel, reaching out several tentacles to grasp the final alignment switches. "There's something more to this. Alphek's not the sort to perish without a fight, even if the Federation had agreed to spare his race..."

"But there are no Voord on the station, no ships nearby, there's no one else here on Alphek's side except Alphek himself!" Sarah protested, trying to understand. "And he's just letting it happen!"

Alpha Centuari threw the final switch, and the glass tube around the Voord leader filled with a white, boiling light. The Voord trembled on the spot, twitching and shaking as the antennae on its mask-snout started to blaze in sympathy. Cracks began to form in the horned helmet, the metallic surface starting to peel and degenerate. The antennae was now a white-hot ring of light and Alphek twisted convulsively.

"Something is wrong!" squeaked Alpha Centauri. "The energy overload is not being transmitted!"

"What's that mean?" asked Sarah, confused.

"It means the power isn't passing through Alphek into every other Voord - it's all being focussed on Alphek and Alphek alone. But he can't possibly withstand that bombardment!"

"I'm not sure about that," Sarah muttered.

Alphek's helmet was an unrecognizable horror of peeling, twisted metal. The antennae had melted and fused into the mess atop the Voord's neck, glowing with incandescent heat. Alphek's voice echoed around the chamber, far richer and stronger than ever before.

At last! I have won! The long fight is over and we Voord are the victor! Your torrent of death is not sweeping away but instead is filling my mind full to bursting with more strength than ever before!

"That's what he wanted all the time!" the Doctor gasped. "He's not dying, he's transforming... evolving!"

I shall be the leader of you all, the monarch that all shall obey! Nothing can stand in my way now! The Federation is mine! No planet in and galaxy, no cosmos in the universe can resist me. All life shall bow down, all thought will worship!

Sarah recoiled in horror. "It's all been a trap..."

The stars themselves will lie beneath my feet, and all the voices of creation shall cry my name in triumph! Alphek! Alphek! ALPHEEEEKKKKKK!!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Voord Is The Word: The Voord Paradise

(An ongoing series set in a Divergent Universe...)

This adventure takes between The Herdsmen of Aquarius and The Imps

As they made their way back up the hill, Polly still felt sick to her stomach. She could still smell the dying man's hot, coppery blood as the shaman had ripped the crossbow bolt from his side. Polly still couldn't believe that these people - humanity in the far future - had become so backward they refused to believe in anything other than faith healing. Like the Doctor had said, even Neanderthals and cavemen had better medical treatment.

She knew Ben was just as upset, though he was much better at her at hiding it. As for the Doctor she couldn't tell if he was upset, angry, amused or even thinking about what had happened at all. All she could be sure of was that he wanted to find Jamie, with or without the help of the last of mankind.

"So, I guess we're going have to look for the Voords on our lonesome, then?" Ben guessed.

The Doctor peered through the treeline of the hill. "Well, we know that the villagers aren't going to help us. They'll probably spend the next few weeks in mourning."

"Well, they all knew the poor man," Polly argued. "In a small town like that, they were bound to be upset when he died."

"Not so upset they'd argue with that crazy witchdoctor though, are they, duchess?"

Suddenly there was a rumble from behind them. They turned and saw the early evening sky turned a dazzling purple by a firework flare that illuminated the whole village.

"What's happening?" yelped Polly, startled.

"Maybe they're letting off firecrackers for the funeral," suggested Ben. He didn't sound convinced.

"No," gasped the Doctor in a grave voice. "It's the Voord... they're attacking!"

He pointed with his recorder to the south of the valley, and Ben and Polly saw dozens of jet-black eel-like figures running into the village, firing their rifles. The villagers were mowed down even as they reached for their pitchforks and crossbows. As the attackers came closer, they could see the leader of the Voord was not wearing one of the distinctive helmets and his face was a mess of scar tissue and bare muscle - but even at this distance it was clear his expression was emotionless, business-like. He shouted simply to be heard over the din, and there was nothing but cold determination in his voice as he bellowed orders to his followers.

"Exterminate them! Kill them all! Burn the last of Darwin's children!"

As if on cue, a young girl of no more than seven ran out from a hut and approached the attackers. "Stops! Stops! Please!" she wailed, only for the Voord leader to aim his blaster at the little girl's unprotected head.

Polly was on the verge of screaming when the attacker lowered the rifle. Instead of killing the child, he effortlessly grabbed her by the scruff of her tunic and threw her into the arms of one of the Voord. "Still young enough to be harvested! Take it back to our lair!"

Even as the Voord slithered away with the struggling child, her mother ran through the confusion and flames at the edge of the village. She saw her daughter being taken away and ran to reclaim her, screaming in desperate hysteria.

She barely made three steps before the Voord leader blasted her down. He barely spared the dead mother a glance as he advanced into the village, smoke still rising from the barrel of his blaster. "We shall proceed!" he ordered.

Ben looked in horror at the burning village. "They're murdering every one of them!"

"There's nothing we can do for them, Ben," said the Doctor, voice thick with disgust.

The whole valley was now lit by the blazing village, and the sound of gunfire was drowned out by the screams of terror and agony from the helpless townsfolk. Polly felt the warm giddiness of unconscous approaching, on the verge of fainting. "So that's what happens to the last human beings on Earth?" she said, tears in her eyes.

"No," said the Doctor bleakly. "There's still Jamie. We've still got save him!"

"Least we might save someone," Ben agreed.

They continued up the hill in silence.