Thursday, November 5, 2009

7th Doctor - Alixion (i)

An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
Serial 7P/4 - Addiction
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Evil Insect Elixir

D O C T O R W H O

Serial 7P/4 - Addiction


Part One

Aboard the mighty time-ship TARDIS, the Doctor stalks up and down with the slow realization he’s finally run out of master-plans and intricate schemes battling the higher forces of creation and tricking evils from the Dawn of Time into blowing themselves up with some old Gallifreyan antiques the Doctor picked up at a car-boot sale on Dronid.

Desperately, the Doctor scans his 500 year diary for someone... anyone!... to begin a massive chessgame with innocent bystanders as pawns and the whole universe at stake, but he’s done them all. The ancient wolves of Fenric, the reconstituted Dustbin Umpire, Bertie Bassett, he’s been there, done that, angsted about it and acted like a complete bastard with a question mark fetish.

Worse, his new companion Kate Tollinger is beginning to twig at what a pathetic and uninteresting loser the Doctor is when he’s not acting as Time’s Pimp and defending the laws of the universe. In mad desperation to restore some of his street cred, the Doctor quickly finds one last entity in all of time and space who is so downright evil, monstrous and callous they need the Doctor to go out of his way to destroy them utterly to every last molecule:

"My bank manager!" the Doctor vows darkly.

Being an upper-class, pampered rich bitch, Kate has never had to suffer the pain and humiliation of trying to extend an overdraft with no credit rating whatsoever. But even SHE thinks this mindless vendetta against some tweed-wearing git for not forking out a few mazumas for the Doctor to neuter his robot dog is fool hardly and beggars logic.

The Doctor assures Kate that he’s not talking about some nonentity from a small branch of GalactaBank on Ursa Minor, he’s talking about the Brotherhood of Darkened Time, an order of druidic monks who wear cloaks and burn incense. Who also happen to be the finest accountants in all of creation and the only ones stopping higher evolutionaries like the Time Lords of Gallifrey from being arrested by the Shadow Proclamation for massive financial irregularities.

Proving his point, the Doctor immediately pilots the TARDIS to the Head Office of these outer-space bank-tellers – and arrives on a far distant asteroid honeycombed with tunnels and passengers like a worm-ravaged apple core. Kate is slightly unimpressed by this badly-lit underground maze of deserted and dusty passages, but the Doctor points out it’s a relief they’ve not arrived on a Monday morning when the place is REALLY busy.

Completely ignorant of the giant beetles scuttling in the shadows with their giant glowing red eyes, or of the mysterious hooded figure stalking their every movement, the Doctor and Kate wander around looking for a reception desk – idly noting the mysterious scratches in solid rock and the odd smell of rotting human flesh.

They finally notice the mysterious hooded figure who’s been walking behind them after he clears his throat very loudly and shouts "HEY, I’M RIGHT BEHIND YOU, YOU UNOBSERVANT TOSSERS!!!"

This turns out to be Brother Galen, a rather stressed accountant of the Brotherhood who shows signs of a truly cocaine-fueled superiority complex. Having listened to the Doctor and Kate waffle on for ages, Galen knows exactly who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and the Doctor’s inside leg measurement. It is only later the Doctor realizes neither he nor Kate mentioned such a measurement, and grows secretive and suspicious. Well, slightly more than usual, anyway.

Galen leads them to the Main Office – a Gothic church filling a cavern at the heart of the asteroid, lit by burning lanterns. It’s got a whole CS Lewis vibe to it, and Galen explains that this monumental architectural folly was constructed in a few hours by his fellow monks who were, like him, on a speed-crazed frenzy of efficiency.

It transpires that all of the Brotherhood of Darkened Time have their mental faculties expanded and their perceptions heightened by a delicate combination of a strict monastic lifestyle and very hard drugs. The end result is a bunch of coke-heads doing tax returns in perfect silence with pen and ink in quiet contemplation of the galactic stock exchange while their leader, Bank Manager Koporahn, grooves to ABBA’s "Money, Money, Money" played over his Hatichami Compact Disc Jog Person in the main study hall.

Using all their self-control, the Doctor and Kate manage to stop giggling too obviously at the sight of all these pathetic monks in silence twitching and sniffing white powder, while also noticing the beetle-shaped logo designs absolutely everywhere.

Finally granted an audience in the Bank Manager’s private office, the leader of the Brotherhood of Darkened Time immediately starts offering the time travelers’ a small forest’s worth of pamphlets about how hip and cool they’ll be to join the order of cosmic fiscal analysts.

The Doctor and Kate eventually get a word in edgeways and explain they are not new members to this incredibly suspicious and unconvincing religious banking scheme, whereupon the Bank Manager tells them in no uncertain terms to "get the fuck out of his life" and stop wasting his precious time.

Galen explains the Doctor is in fact a dissatisfied customer, and the Bank Manager reacts with a truly cruel and unusual punishment: he gives the Doctor a guided tour of their primitive abode, showing him the unhygienic toilet facilities, their small vegetable garden, their soul-crushing work which forces them to take massive amounts of cocaine to keep them going in an order where no one can talk or make friends or make love on top of the photocopier at an office party...

The Doctor and Kate are soon reduced to tears – but whether these are tears of sympathy or outright boredom we will never know! The Bank Manager has everyone have a complimentary can of "Beetle Juice 5000" energy drink (described by the World Health Organization as "Your Midlife Crisis Wake-Up Call" that gives a caffeine buzz of no shorter than eleven days and a resulting comedown of twenty-seven years).

The Doctor and Kate immediately make a run for it, checking the handy office layout map above the front door to navigate their way back to the TARDIS – only for Kate to continually insist that they’re going the wrong way and wandering deeper and deeper into the asteroid.

Finally the Doctor’s resolve cracks and he listens to Kate, who turns out to be absolutely right. However, this means that the map at the church was completely wrong – and designed to trick unsuspecting travelers straight into the forbidden caverns beyond.

The Doctor is amazed: this is clearly a clever trap which means that he has finally met a manipulative bastard as callous and morally bankrupt as himself!

"JACKPOT! Oh, if only Ace could see me now!" he whispers in awe.

Kate meanwhile points out that the Bank Manager can’t be THAT clever if he allowed her to drink the magical "Beetle Juice 5000" that, like all other members of the Brotherhood of Darkened Time, allows her to use more than 10 per cent of her brain power and thus remember the correct route back to the time machine.

Thus, not only is the Bank Manager as ruthless a chess master as the Doctor, he’s also got exactly the same awful bad luck and incredibly terrible contingency planning.

"Oh, this just gets better and better!" the Doctor cackles evilly, rubbing his question-mark umbrella with sinister glee.

But then the moment is ruined as he promptly trips over the bones of a monk picked clean by the nasty alien beetles that absolutely everyone in the audience have noticed patrolling the caves and even now are watching from the shadows while Sylvester McCoy does one last pratfall in his time as the Seventh Doctor.

Completely unaware of the mortal peril that they’ve just avoided, the Doctor and Kate race back to the monastery to make a complaint about the appalling health and safety standards on this asteroid. In order to communicate in a society where no one may speak, the Doctor forces Kate to wear a sandwich board with the words "ONE OF THE MONKS HAS DIED HORRIBLY – RUN FOR YOUR LIVES" written on it.

"Do you really think this will help the situation?" asks Kate.

The Doctor shrugs. "Who cares?"


Part Two

In their second interview with the Bank Manager, the Doctor notes that it’s rather convenient that the poor monk what got killed happened to be part of a cult that ensures he has no friends, family or indeed anyone that might ever notice he’d gone off for a walk and then been filleted like a Taiwanese chicken nugget.

The Bank Manager stares at him for a long time before quietly asking the Doctor, "And your point being?"

Realizing yet again he is finally confronting an enemy that WON’T suddenly blab all their evil plans at the slightest of provocations, the Doctor decides to play the long game. Or at least as long a game as he can get out of these painfully-under-running three-parters!

Deciding to tried and true methods, the Doctor suggests he and the Bank Manager go for a nice picnic in the dark catacombs outside leaving Kate to loiter around in the church looking for clues and stuff to justify her presence in the story.

In what could be a cunning bluff... or a REALLY cunning double bluff... or a NOT-AT-ALL cunning triple bluff... the Bank Manager agrees and he and the Doctor skip off, hand-in-hand, into the darkness while Kate quickly comes to the conclusion she doesn’t actually give a damn if any of these druggie accountants live or die anyway.

To pass the time, the decadent safe cracker immediately decides to break into the tiny communal vegetable garden and then wreck it as though it belonged to Blue Peter.

There she discovers what looks like an illegal distillery being run by none other than the Doug Anthony Allstars – a stand up comedy punk band from Australia whose mere presence in this story at all destroys the faintest hints of logic and credibility it may have once possessed.

So taken aback by this narrative black hole, Kate is taken completely by surprise as the three musicians beat the crap out of her and tie her to the chair, intending to make her a key ingredient in "Beetle Juice 5000"! Alas, for the purposes of dramatic tension, they are unable to explain what the hell they’re on about before Brother Galen clubs them unconscious, unties Kate and they run away through a secret passage.

The DAAS trio recover and muse on the deep irony that the rules of their order means they have no idea WHICH monk came to Kate’s rescue, so they’ll just have to dope themselves up with "Beetle Juice 5000" until their heightened perceptions make them work out the truth. Whereupon they can steal his ration of cocaine!

Meanwhile, the Doctor and the Bank Manager are creeping up a tunnel when the Doctor unleashes his final masterstroke – he has absolutely NO plan of any kind whatsoever! Which means, of course, that the Bank Manager cannot POSSIBLY have a contingency plan... unless, of course, he was expecting the Doctor to try and kung-fu-kick him to death while screaming "MORE TEA, VICAR?!?" in a strange falsetto.

Finally the Bank Manager cracks and offers to explain the whole evil plan, revealing the Brotherhood of Darkened Time was relocated to this asteroid as part of a complicated scheme to refine "Beetle Juice 5000" – once all the monks are addicted to it, the Bank Manager will use their mighty financial powers to make it THE energy drink of the new millennium and the Bank Manager will be filthy, stinking rich.

The Doctor nods at this diabolically ingenious scheme... before realizing that it doesn’t actually make the slightest bit of sense! How do yuppie accountants "refine" energy drinks? And how does making them solitary faceless monks help? And what does all this have to do with the things eating people on this asteroid?

Alas this has all been a cunning ploy to distract the Doctor while the Bank Manager drop-kicks him into a deep dark pit full of giant buck-toothed beetles that tend to rip human beings apart and strip their puny pink flesh from their weak little bones!

The Doctor gurns in suitably appropriate mortal terror.


Part Three

Luckily, there’s one more episode to go, so the Doctor quickly tries to talk his way out of the problem by making small talk with the ravenous alien beetles. Amazingly enough this works long enough for the Doctor to climb out of the pit and punch the Bank Manager in the kidneys until he falls into the pit instead.

Pausing momentarily to wax philosophically about how two equally-matched mental opponents have to resort to low-brow physical violence to resolve anything, the Doctor runs off very quickly indeed.

The Bank Manager meanwhile has a funky aftershave that stops the beetles tearing him apart and he sends the ferocious invertebrates after the Time Lord – but giant starving beetles are actually really rubbish at being blood hounds and go in entirely the wrong direction and scuttle into the church.

Yes, it seems the Bank Manager has made yet another fundamental mistake and sent the very hungry death monsters into an all-you-can-eat monk buffet and unsurprisingly they "forget" about his rules for only eating monks who wander into their territory.

This leads to some truly kickass scenes of monks getting shredded limb from limb by roaring flesh-munching insects, some of them snatching up female monks and flying around the room while biting her head off, and this amazingly cool bit where a monk hides behind a curtain but there’s already a beetle there and it rips his arms off... I swear, it’s only beaten by the bit where the only surviving monk makes it to the front door, opens it, and there’s this drooling beetle waiting right outside the door and it totally swallows him in one bite. Infuckingcredible.

...

What? I can’t enjoy insectoid monastic carnage all of a sudden? Screw you, so-called moral guardians! I’m maladjusted am I? Well, define "well-adjusted" you bastards!

Ahem.

The Doctor meanwhile, as is often the case in these sort of adventures, bumps entirely by accident into Kate and Brother Galen, and they alone survive the inevitable beetle massacre. The fact they are the main characters with speaking parts helps too, if you want to be completely meta-textual about the whole thing...

Creeping into the cavern next to the vegetable garden, the Doctor finds sacks of weird gunge that is the principle ingredient of "Beetle Juice 5000". "This goo," the Doctor soliloquizes, "WHAT’S IT FOR??!"

Deciding that the safest place to hide while the human population of the asteroid are drastically reduced, the Doctor, Kate and Galen hide in TARDIS. There, the amazing technology of the TARDIS console BBC Micro reveals the horrible truth – not only is the main ingredient of "Beetle Juice 5000" made entirely from the shit of the giant green beetles on this asteroid, but...

"BEETLE SHIT IS PEOPLE!!!" the Doctor exclaims in horror.

After the requisite Soylent Green jokes, everyone gets back to the plot. It turns out that if a beetle eats someone smart, eating that beetle’s excrement will make YOU smart. Thus, the Bank Manager has been letting the beetles eating smart people, using the beetle shit in "Beetle Juice 5000" to make people MORE smart, then feeding them to the beetles, over and over again in a cycle of ever-increasingly intellectual fecal matter consumption!

The Doctor is awestruck at the audacious manipulation of this Machiavellian scheme, while Kate and Galen are just incredibly nauseous about the whole damn idea.

The Time Lord realizes he is up against a foe that actually might be dangerous enough to finish off what Dustbins, Cybermen and Ice Cream Vendors could never dream of... and he might even kill the godlike Seventh Doctor and all!

"The Bank Manager may be able to sacrifice the Brotherhood of Darkened Time to create the elixir of pure mental power," the Doctor proclaims, "but I can whip up a complete revolution in under 25 minutes and bring down the entire infrastructure of the Bank Manager’s evil plan!"

However, it quickly strikes the Time Lord that all the monks have been eaten, so there isn’t anyone left alive to whip into a people’s army and fight for the Doctor. This revelation takes the wind out of the Doctor’s sails, but then he hits upon a completely novel plan:

"Of course! If the beetles have eaten all the monks, then I’ll just have to get the BEETLES themselves to rise up against the Bank Manager – that can’t be too difficult, can it, Kate?"

Kate, for her parts, thinks the Doctor is a "completely deluded little Scotsman with a barely-suppressed death wish" and leaves him to his suicidal attempts to promote socialist equality amongst a hive of man-eating monster insects.

Huffing, the Doctor strides to the pit of bugs and politely asks, "Could I interest you in a brand new lower intestine, sir or madam?" and in moments is taking tea with the hideous sluggy Hive Queen.

One thankfully-unseen sequence later, the Doctor is strolling towards the bloodstained ruin of the Church with an army of socialist beetles behind him. There they find that the Bank Manger and his sole surviving followers (unsurprisingly, the DAAS trio, who are the only remaining speaking parts from the Brotherhood of Darkened Time) are stocking up huge amounts of "Beetle Juice 5000" cans into a bitchingly cool planet hopper parked out the back of the church.

Easily capturing Kate and Galen, the Bank Manager demonstrates both his amazing chess master skills but truly badass credentials by shooting his remaining monks to make them confess where the Doctor’s got to – an act of lateral thinking and sheer nastiness that even Kate Tollinger, daughter of a bloodsoaked gangland boss, can appreciate.

As the Doctor and his army of beetles close in, the Bank Manager unveils his lethal and rather unwieldy doomsday device composed entirely of empty "Beetle Juice 5000" cans and some bubblegum. This dastardly mechanism does exactly what it says on the tin, and unfortunately the tin says "MIND RAPIST – GUARANTEED TO SUCK YOUR BRAINS OUT AND LEAVE YOU A CATATONIC LUMP OF FLESH".

Knowing that the Doctor will most likely be expecting him to start on his companion, the Bank Manager uses the Mind Rapist on Galen instead, but this double bluff proves slightly less than in any way helpful as the now-vegetable-ized monk knew nothing of any use whatsoever!

The Doctor arrives and the Bank Manager cunningly claims that this all part of his plan and all the Doctor has achieved is to tidy up all the loose ends on the asteroid. The Doctor retorts that this is precisely what he wants the Bank Manager to think, as he has been using the Bank Manager all along to affect the evolution of the Beetles. The Bank Manager retorts that this is just another layer in this onion of intricate villainy...

...anyway, eventually the Bank Manager threatens to blow Kate’s head off with a pump-action sawn-off shotgun. "Is THAT part of your plan, Doctor? Huh?"

The Doctor agrees that it is, which is why he’ll surrender himself to the Mind Rapist, allowing the Bank Manager to drain the Time Lord’s knowledge and use it to conquer the universe which is pretty much on the Bank Manager’s long-term goal list. In fact, he’ll conveniently put on a straightjacket to make it that much easier.

The Bank Manager asks precisely HOW the Doctor could possibly turn this situation to his advantage – and then realizes. "By all the Gods of Purgatory... HE HAS REVERSED THE POLARITY OF THE NEUTRON FLOW!" the Bank Manager exclaims in horror.

Yes, the Mind Rapist won’t suck the Doctor’s mind out through his eyeballs but instead grant him all the powers of a God of the Fourth, to create and destroy all of reality at whim.

"Why didn’t I think of doing that?" the Bank Manager explains, and then reverses the reversed neutron flow polarity and then activates the Mind Rapist, and its deadly force ravages the Time Lord.

"If anybody’s thinking of rescuing me – I suggest THEY GET THEIR SKATES ON!" the Doctor screams desperately, writhing in his straightjacket as his lives, his very consciousness is sucked away...

...and burnt onto a compact disc the Bank Manager pockets quickly pockets for future mischief.

Then, suddenly, the Doctor’s eyes pop open, glowing with abominable light. It turns out the little Scottish Time Lord has actually known precisely what he was doing all along – while everyone was arguing he drank an entire keg of "Bug Juice 5000" which has increased his mental power 100 times, and even after the whole Mind-Raping business has left him with godlike powers.

The Elixir-fueled Doctor laughs evilly, as the sugar buzz from a keg of energy drinks leads the Time Lord into what can only be described as "a voyage to trip-out city". Falling through strange geometric patterns and swirling clouds, the Doctor sees a hideous shadow rising above him: his Inner Fuckwit, brought to the surface by imbibing chemicals "too broad and too deep and way too illegal for the small screen".

"YOU ARE EVIL!" booms the monster. "YOU UNRAVEL TIMELINES AND JEOPARDIZE YOUR COMPANIONS! YOU CAUSE UPSET AND GRIEF, USE PEOPLE LIKE TOOLS, ACT AS THOUGH THE COSMOS IS YOUR GAME BOARD TO PLAY ON AS YOU WILL... AND SERIOUSLY, WHAT IT IS WITH THE QUESTION MARKS?!"

Facing the deepest, darkest facet of his own psyche, the Doctor promptly gives it a two-fingered salute.

This final battle between the Doctor and his own obsession to defeat evil abruptly ends as, out in the real world, the Time Lord suddenly goes cross-eyed and smoke starts to pour from his ears. Then he falls over and blows some saliva bubbles.

The Bank Manager takes a moment to come to terms with this latest of plot developments. After prodding the Doctor with his toe a few times, the evil mastermind comes to the conclusion that the Doctor ISN’T faking and is genuinely insane following the curb stomp battle from confronting what is rotten within himself.

"Which means, I win!" the Bank Manager laughs. "Plus I know more than you’ve forgotten! HA!"

To be on the safe side, the Bank Manager throws the gibbering lunatic into a confinement cell, just in case this is some final cunning stratagem. He then runs for his planet hopper spaceship, cackling, "The Doctor is finished! Forever! He’ll never be the amoral chess player on a thousand boards ever again! IN YOUR FACE, CARTMEL MASTERPLAN!"

Kate watches the space hopper take off, hurtling through a secret passage leading out of the asteroid and into deep space, and reflects that all in all today has been a rather strange day.

Aboard his ship, the Bank Manager quickly slides his CD-ROM into his navigation computer, granting him the secrets of time and space and power all of known creation...

...when the DAAS trio, a bit pissed off with all his murder attempts, promptly jump him, snap his neck, sing a little song, and accidentally send it hurtling through time and space to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean during the era of the First Great and Bountiful Human Empire.

Back on the asteroid, Kate is left alone as the completely insane Doctor babbles incoherently at the walls of his cell. "I fear I have lost my marbles!" he gibbers. "My plot is losing it! All of my eggs are in a strange basket and the square of my hypotenuse is nowhere NEAR the square of my other two sides! Oh cruel fate, I have made my escape but my mind is running amock!"

Finally sick of this inane chatter, Kate gags the Doctor to shut him up giving her a chance to emote and reflect how the Doctor has lost a battle against the evil in himself and been left so completely destroyed, an empty man with no trace of a soul left...

It is around now she discovers that the Doctor’s cellular contractual renewal handily covers "losing mind" as well as "damaging body" and the gagged-and-straightjacket-ed Doctor is twitching like a mordant epileptic watching that dodgy episode of Pok√©mon.

Suddenly, the Doctor’s skin glows a blinding white as he shifts, ripples and distorts inside his straightjacket which rapidly becomes too small for him. The rotund, grey-haired maniac breaks free of his gag and straightjacket – a completely new man.

Unfortunately, he’s not much saner than the last one.

"Waitress!" he yells at Kate. "Waitress! Getting a bit peckish in here! Could DO with a FEED! Waitress?!" he shouts and, convinced he can smell some poached salmon, immediately runs off out of the church back to the TARDIS, screaming for hors-d’oeuvres at the top of his voice.

Kate rushes after him, rightly guessing her chances of survival will be better with the fat psycho demanding "mutton dressed as lamb with mousse dressed as Marie Antoinette for desert" are higher than loitering around an asteroid of ferocious man-eating insects.

And so the story ends with the disturbing sight of the new Doctor, painfully squeezed into the old Doctor’s golfing gear, kicking the TARDIS console and screaming, "WHEN SHE GOT THERE THE CUPBOARD WAS BARE SO THE POOR MONGREL STARVED TO DEATH!!" at the top of his voice.

"Fear not this foul play, Kate," he adds, popping on a pair of pince nez spectacles. "For the game is not yet done until the final BARB ratings are tallied!"

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