BBC Studios have announced a new Tenth Doctor story to be released later this year. Set directly after the events of The Waters of Mars and just before The End of Time, this new story will focus on the Tenth Doctor in his final days. It will also feature his Ninth and Eighth incarnations in an epic story played out across multiple platforms. Time Lord Victorious will see linked releases in numerous formats from all the publishers and producers of Doctor Who material, including Penguin Random House, Doctor Who Magazine, Titan Comics, Escape Hunt, Big Finish Productions, Eaglemoss Hero Collector, Immersive Everywhere, Maze Theory, BBC Books and BBC Audio.
So far details have been limited and many questions remain. Could Christopher Eccleston reprise his role of the Ninth Doctor for some of the productions? How will the story link in with the existing Doctor Who chronology and mythology? So far two novels have been announced – The Knight, The Fool and The Dead by Steven Cole and All Flesh Is Grass by Una McCormack. The larger Time Lord Victorious story that links both books is set within the Dark Times at the start of the universe when even the Eternals were young. Multiple incarnations of the Doctor must defend the universe from a terrible race called the Kotturuh, creatures who spread through the cosmos dispensing mortality, literally pitting life against death. Billed as a “whole new Time War” but set back in the Dark Times, could the Kotturuh be linked in some way to the Great Vampires that Rassilon fought in the first Time War? Only time will tell, but as new releases are announced there is sure to be mounting excitement for Doctor Who fans everywhere.
To celebrate the impending release of Time Lord Victorious the DWCA have included below a tale of the Time War that is set within the ruins of the first Time War, originally published in Zerinza Volume One.
“There was once an old hermit from the mountains of south Gallifrey. He used to tell me ghost stories. I like a ghost story. Do you want to hear one? It’s about a race of giant vampires. They came out of nowhere, and swarmed and swarmed. They swarmed all over the universe. And they were so strong that one single vampire could suck the life out of an entire planet. We Time Lords hunted them down across the universe in a war so long and so bloody that we were sickened of violence forever. So powerful were the bodies of these great creatures, and so fiercely did they cling to life, that they were impossible to kill. Rassilon ordered the construction of bow ships, swift vessels that fired a mighty bolt of steel that transfixed the monsters through the heart. For only if his heart be utterly destroyed will a vampire die. When the bodies were counted, the King Vampire, mightiest and most malevolent of all, had vanished, even to his shadow, from time and space. Hence it is the directive of Rassilon that any Time Lord who comes upon this enemy of our people and of all living things, shall use all his efforts to destroy him, even at the cost of his own life.” – The Fourth Doctor, State of Decay
Elegy for a Tardis
Written by Darran Jordan (Tlancyravel created by Scott Marshall)
She fell like a burning angel through the raging depths of a dark ocean, her thoughts scattered into an incoherent wail of cacophonic cloister bells. There was no way of knowing how long she had been falling, for here there was no time with which to measure. In the moments between now and now there was only thought and fear. She tried to grasp hold of herself once more, tendrils of her mind reaching out tentatively, looking for something of familiar gravity around which to orbit her fractured pieces.
There was no time here in the vortex, but time had obviously passed within the confines of her inner dimensions. The central column still rose and fell in her console room, but there was no sentient life with which to commune anymore. The telepathic circuits fed back only static, as her senses alerted her to the skeleton draped theatrically across the console, one bony digit reaching frantically for the fast return switch. Forever reaching, never touching, it was like some Michelangelo tableau substituting man with Time Lord, God with TARDIS.
Poor Tlancyravel, she thought, he had been such a precious pet. She had tried to protect him as time had shattered around them. So many shards had fallen, each of them holding the per-fect pearl of his endlessly replicating alternate deaths. Struck by a lightning bolt in Blackpool. Shot by the Chancellery Guard while descending Mount Perdition. Drowning in the Lake of Mutations on Skaro. Converted on Telos then destroyed in a battle against the Cryons. Ripped to shreds by a Raston Warrior Robot. Poisoned by the monk on the hillside above the ancient house of Lungbarrow. Or simply dying of old age, his regenerations used up, his last body finally wearing a bit thin. He would have been honoured by the High Council, bodily carried by them on a bier decorated with the ancient swirling symbols of Gallifrey, his aged intellect for-ever preserved within the glorious mesh of the matrix. The Time War had changed all that. The possibilities had been multiple, the shards of them cutting deep. Linking them all like jewels on a necklace was the central thread, a long sharp wound that had cut them both down in one jagged slash. “The Nightmare Child,” he had screamed, “it is upon us!” Then he had leapt at the console, falling into his final death as the monster had torn through them like autumn leaves in the breath of a furnace.
As she fell deeper into the vortex she became aware of singing around her, deep and sonorous, rising and falling like the waves of temporal energy that rippled through this impossible place. Towering around her in concentric circles like the inner walls of a deep well, hovered the combined might and wonder of the Chronovore ranks. These were the waters where they swam, braving dangerous currents to taunt and tease each other in games. They played like children while the Time War raged, refusing to take sides or lend hands. They claimed neutrality when-ever anyone dared to ask, but perhaps their reticence was more to do with the injury one of their own had suffered at the gun stalk of the Special Temporal Dalek.
Lord Upnash-Karatar, high Chronovore of the dark vortex, rider of the winds of time, eater of centuries and devourer of ages, had underestimated the purity of Dalek rage and was not keen to risk a similar error again. Still, he led his people in song whenever one of the TARDISes fell in battle. He had a fondness for the ephemeral, composing elegies of impossible beauty with which to honour those soon to be no more. She felt his gaze upon her as she plummeted. Be-side him hovered Chronos, healer of Dellah, destroyer of Atlantis, a being beyond either good or evil. Wearing the silver semblance of a beautiful woman, the Chronovore watched her fall with tears streaming down her cheeks. Their song lingered on long after they had been lost from sight, but in the end even that faded. She was gathering speed now, tumbling headlong into those regions of the vortex where none dared to venture, except on their final journey.
Despite the impossibility of mapping a region none could traverse, there actually were names for these places, although who had named them, when or why none could rightly say. Dramatic titles without sense or subtlety, they suggested the self-important tone of some Gallifreyan noble from days long gone. Perhaps great Rassilon himself had walked this path, although it was more likely to have been one of his subordinates, dying nameless so the dicta-tor scientist could claim the glory as his own. From games to scrolls to sashes to keys, he had stamped his name on everything he could, knowing well that history remembers best that which is shaped by words.
The name given to the shattering rapids beneath the shoals of the Chronovores was the Teeth of Yssgaroth. There the broken bodies of great bowships still stung and snagged at those few who passed this way. Giant winged skeletal forms lay embracing the bowships, clasping them through broken ribcages to their missing hearts. These were the tombstones of the last great Time War, a battle so ancient it was remembered now only as myth, as a bedtime story told to Time Tots to frighten them into submission. Propaganda to ensure they would stand tall before the Untempered Schism, refusing to run else they bring dishonour to their ancient houses.
Tlancyravel had stood tall when his time came, a proud boy of noble bearing and the dream of a glorious future. How would he have felt had he known then that it would all end here? A poor sad skeleton, lost and forgotten, drowned by the undercurrents of time. She remembered the first time he had touched her, in the bays of the temporal workshops beneath the Citadel. They forged singularities there, tying them like balloon animals as their time ships grew like coral in the solar oceans of pocket dimensions.
She had been presented to him without fuss or ceremony, designated Type 70, her outer plasmic shell no more than a featureless grey box. But he had seen her beauty and she remembered the dazzling colours of his emotion, rushing to her through the telepathic circuits. He had re-moved the black glove from his right hand and pressed the smooth warmth of his palm against her body. A spark of artron energy had passed between them, a connection that he did not speak of, not to anyone, only to her. She was glad he was with her still, even if it was only the bleached bones of his body that remained. He had loved her in his way, as she had treasured him. It was only right they were to remain together forever, here in the heart of eternity.
As she spun uncontrollably through the Teeth of Yssgaroth she felt the dark star alloy of the ancient vehicles slicing through her dimensions, scattering pieces of her into the waters of her wake. The library, the swimming pool, two art galleries and a boot cupboard were cut from her body, quickly sinking into the morass behind her as she was swept ever on. She bounced off the hull of one of the great bowships, spun through the eyehole of one of the giant vampire skulls, and shot out through the last of the rapids into the tranquil pools beyond.
She rested for a moment in the shining still that someone had once named Staircase of the Sisterhood. It was not a safe port however, for these calm waters were infested with the Shimmer Sharks. Silver bodied finned bullets of pure energy, they sucked dry those who were washed up here, feeding frenzies frothing the gentle mirrored calms into terrifying torrents. There were those who hypothesised that these unthinking monsters of pure instinct were nothing less than those who had fallen prey to the Time Lord De-mat. Removed from time, edited out of continuity, they extruded back into reality in liquid shapes of ravenous mercury, hunting for a revenge they could no longer comprehend. She felt their sharp fins as they circled about her, but before she could contemplate how best to defend herself, the school changed course and swam on. They sensed she was dying and saw no meal in her. Satisfied and resolute she paddled onward, making her way from pool to pool as she continued downward, ever down.
There were other sights to see along the way, other dangers to avoid. She made sure to keep to one side of the Island of Omega, avoiding being drawn into the pull of the whirlpool known as the Eye of Discord. She kept her distance from the broken wreckage of ancient time ships, failed experiments and forgotten explorers of civilisations that had risen and fallen countless times while these relics were preserved forever in the energy shoals, insects in amber. Finally, after carefully swimming on as best she could, the core of her being flickering and fading as she did, she finally reached the last place that was a place – the last location in the vortex with a name – Bad Wolf Bay. Beyond the lonely seclusion of this lay only the waterfall, a vast energy cascade that tumbled away into inky dark. None who wished to live would ever have chosen to go near it, but that choice had been taken from her by the Nightmare Child. She was dying, the cracks in her shell threatening to fracture her into pieces at any moment. After her perilous pilgrimage she was barely able to hold enough of herself together, her inner dimensions already leaking through the damaged semblance of her outer plasmic shell. Without hesitation she hurled herself over the precipice, and fell. And fell. And fell.
It resolved slowly out of the darkness, at first a tiny point, growing gradually larger, ever larger. This was a mark not of its size, since it was truly vast, almost endless if concepts of distance held any value in the place between places. Rather it was an indication of just how far away it really was. As she fell toward it she took in its shape and texture, its gleaming white surface decorated by circled roundels. She found it beautiful. Her kind knew it only as the Reef, a secret that was passed from TARDIS to TARDIS, never even hinted at to any not of their kind. Had an ancient Gallifreyan ever come here they would have gifted it with another name. Without doubt, they’d have christened it the TARDIS Graveyard, for in the end it was to this place that all TARDISes came to die.
“We made it,” she sent to Tlancyravel, but the sad skeleton did not reply. She felt his bony hand upon her console, sensed ruptures on her outer shell, fractures on her surface at the place where his palm had first connected with her. The cloister bells reached their crescendo. The central column burst, scattering bones on a wave of white hot energy. Finally she let go, her shell exploding to spill dimensions in an endless rain. Hat-stands and phone booths and art-works and jewels, these and many other impossible things rained down as she was reduced to her constituent parts, torn asunder, reft and bereft upon the Reef. Slowly the many parts sank into the glowing coral, absorbed into the great mass of interwoven life, growing like a forgot-ten garden, beautiful and wild. Amongst folios, food machines, screwdrivers, sofas and clothes, the random bones of Tlancyravel shifted and sank with her. They were together forever now, unique pieces of coral in the endless ivory graveyard. Casualties of war, they were not lost, not completely, merely altered. In the secret depths of the vortex there was peace. But elsewhere, the Time War raged on, and more angels would fall before the conflict ended.