The Missing BBC Books “Myths & Legends” story: Underworld of the Daleks!

UNDERWORLD OF THE DALEKS by Richard Dinnick
Illustrated by Adrian Salmon

Through the ruins of the forest stumbled the shell of a man. He was as pale as a shroud and wore bulky metallic components on his neck and head. His clothing was old and dusty as if he had been stored somewhere like an object. He lurched through the uprooted trees and broken root clusters, hitting a severed tree stump. He sprawled forward to tumble down a steep bank, before coming to halt in a jarring mound of limbs at the bottom.

When his eyes opened their gaze fell on a one-storey cabin, nestled within a line of living trees. The man’s scrambled brain recognised it, superimposing memories of early times, happier times. His mouth took the form of a smile, but it was a ghastly facsimile.

He rose and with the last vestiges of his strength, marched towards the house. Behind him he could hear whistles being blown, monotone shouting and the dreaded voice; the one that haunted his nightmares. The one he had heard before they had forced him into their machine and made him what he now was.

“EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”

Only the door stood between him and his goal now. He smashed through it with his fists and barely noticed the startled look on the two occupants as he crashed to the floor.

They were both sitting at the kitchen table sipping weak broth from wooden bowls. One had greying hair and looked gaunt, the other was barely out of childhood but still looked as if he had lived many more than his sixteen years.

The older man jumped up from the table, his chair clattering to the floor. 

“Giopé!” He rushed forward and cradled the unexpected arrival in his arms. “Giopé.”

The younger man hung back, uncertain of what to do.

“Rydicé, it’s your brother! Come!” The older man had tears in his eyes now.

Rydicé hesitated.

“He’s a Roboman, dad.”

“No,” their father shook his head. “No. He came home. See? Robomen don’t do that.”

The man who had once been Giopé looked up at his father. He smiled his first real smile in a long time.

Father,” he managed, barely a whisper.

“I’m here.” He squeezed his son’s hand. “You’re home.”

Giopé closed his eyes, a peaceful expression on his face at last. “Home.”

Suddenly, through the open door came the dreaded creature: a bronzed cone with a dome at the top and hemispheres on the skirt section. A single eye on a rod and two appendages at the mid section: a weapon and a manipulator arm.

It stopped and swivelled its eyestalk to examine the room, before returning to the father kneeling on the floor, cradling his elder son. It’s dome lights flashed as it spoke.

“EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”

A hideous ray shot from the creature’s gun, bathing Giopé in a blue light so intense his skeleton was illuminated for a second. He threw his head back in a silent scream and was dead.

A hideous ray shot from the creature’s gun

Rydicé cowered behind the table, but his father was enraged. He jumped up and shouted in the creature’s eyepiece.

“All you do is kill, but you’ll never know the love of a family.”

The creature pushed the distraught father up against the wall with its manipulator arm, the rubber sucker at the end jammed into the man’s throat.

“Da-leks-have-no-con-cept-of-FAM-I-LY.” It almost sang the last word.

“No,” the man managed to say. The Dalek released him and he moved away, holding his bruised throat.

Two Robomen came through the smashed door and stood, flanking the Dalek. One had flat brown hair and a scar on his cheek. The other was a woman, her hair cut short in a jagged style.

“You-are-Fi-eus. You-are-a-sup-port-worker.”

Fieus looked up at the Dalek now. His eyes red with sorrow and anger.

“I was a doctor. I look after the poor souls you have working on the excavation.”

“Doc-tor,” the Dalek said. It almost sounded like the creature did not like the word or even feared it somehow.

“This-was-your-son.”

“Please, just leave us alone.” Fieus had taken a seat at the kitchen table now. He was broken.

“ANS-WER!”

Seeing his father could not bring himself to reply, Rydicé stepped forward.

“Yes.”

The Dalek rotated slowly to face the boy.

“You-are-also-the-des-cen-dant-of-Fieus.”

“Yes.”

“Ro-bo-men-num-bers-must-be-main-tained.”

There was a silence as the meaning of this statement sunk in.

Rydicé frowned. “Me?”

Again, Fieus flew from this chair. “NO!” he shouted, pounding uselessly at the Dalek with his fists.

The Roboman with the scar moved forward and restrained Fieus. The female one took Rydicé by the arm.

“You-are-val-uab-le. You-will-not-be-pun-ished. THIS-TIME,” the Dalek said. It turned and moved towards the door. “If-you-op-pose-the-Da-leks-a-gain-you-will-be-EX-TER-MIN-AT-ED!”

“Dad!” Rydicé cried. “Help me!”

Fieus strained, but the woman was strong beyond her natural ability. She stared at him, hollow-eyed.

Do not resist,” she said in a flat monotone.

“I’ll come for you!” Fieus shouted after his son. “I’ll find you! I will save you!”

The Dalek paused in the doorway. “You-will-not-save-him. He-will-be-rob-o-tised.”

Then the Dalek left and the Roboman forced Fieus into a chair.

Remain here,” she said.

Then she stalked away from him. But then she stopped. Fieus wondered if she, too, was about to break her programming.

Dispose of this body,” she said. “You should burn it.”

Then she stepped through the door, leaving the house grey and silent.

As the detention group moved away from the cabin a single anguished cry pierced the still of the evening.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

Discurus was a mining colony and given the planet’s distance from the war it had not been given a military escort when the settler ship had set out from Jahoo. So when the Daleks arrived, resistance – as the evil creatures had let it be known via telebroadcast – was futile.

There had been almost six thousand men, women and children on Discurus when the Daleks attacked. The town they had built over three years had been all but destroyed and the inhabitants taken away to the mine.

The conquest was an easy one for the Daleks but a puzzling one for the colonists. Why come here? At first they thought that it was for the naturally occurring plutonium the planet harboured.

Indeed, the Daleks had set their base at the mine works in the forested hills near Fieus and his wife’s home. But the Daleks were not mining.

The more intelligent inhabitants were turned into Robomen, the Daleks’ disposable guard dogs. The less intelligent, the older, the weaker and the younger were all taken and forced to work in the excavations.

Fieus escaped the initial roundups because his simple house was built half way between the town and the mine. He was one of only three broad-spectrum doctors on the colony world and served both the community and the mine.  His wife, Nyad, had been killed in the first days and to save his sons, Fieus had agreed to help look after the slave work force.

Many called him a collaborator but he did not see it that way, there was nothing he could do to fight the Daleks. They had removed all technology on pain of death the moment they had secured the planet. There was no way of communicating with Jahoo – or anyone else for that matter.

So he chose to help in the only way he could: to ease the suffering of his fellow Jahooi. He used what medicine he had to give pain relief, mend broken bones, stitch wounds and even deliver a baby once. That had been the worst day since his wife died.

The Daleks had killed the child less than an hour after the birth. The mother had been forced to return to work an hour after that. Fieus had been called to her attempted suicide later that day. She had thrown herself down a shaft but it was not deep enough and she was still alive when Fieus got there. She had lost an arm in the fall and was conscious – in agony. He only had a very limited supply of the strongest, opiate-based painkiller. But he used it all on her. She was dead in less than a minute.

The Daleks let him live on in his wooden cabin looking after his two children. They had agreed not to make them work in the excavations. But when Giopé reached his “majority”, the Daleks had come for him. Unbeknownst to Fieus, they had already tested his son. He had passed the intelligence tests. He hadn’t told his father because he thought it meant something special and wanted to surprise him.

Two years passed. Fieus went to the camps every day. He was forced to gather whatever he could from the remnants of the forest – any native plant or fungus that had a medical property was used. It was primitive, but it meant he could still help his people.

By now the workforce was much reduced. There were less than a thousand. The excavations neared completion. Sometimes he had caught a glimpse of Giopé through the mesh fence. The man who had once been his son had been issued with a whip. He used it unsparingly to motivate or punish. Every time Fieus had seen it crack on the skin of the workers was an indelible mark on his heart.

It was while he was watching his son that Fieus had first noticed Sepho. She was well fed and clothed, moving among the workers: a smile here, a whisper there. He thought she was some kind of overseer at first. But that was the Robomen’s job. Then she’d seen her taking jewellery from a woman and giving her a bread roll in return.

She was the camp’s “fixer”: a collaborator and black marketeer. She was despised by all the workers despite being almost as vital to their wellbeing as Fieus was. He’d never met her because he had never needed to. Living outside the camp gave him and Rydicé a privileged life – food and shelter were not luxuries everyone could boast.

As he sat at the kitchen table with the twilight upon him, a chill draft coming through the broken door and no lanterns lit, Fieus knew he had one chance.  He had a plan and he needed Sepho’s help. He looked across at his dead son. Yes, even Giopé would have a part to play.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

By early morning, Fieus was ready. He left his home for the last time and, clutching his medical bag, made his way along the bottom of the steep bank to an area of the forest now known as the “mix”. It was called this because it had several purposes. It was a warehouse zone, where all the food, fresh water, clothing, digging equipment and building materials was stored. Those who worked in the warehouses also lived there – former technicians who now looked after the Dalek inventory.

And Sepho. She lived on the far side of the mix. Fieus had to cross the complex to reach it. At this time of the morning, though, the thoroughfares between the warehouses were deserted. It was so still and quiet, Fieus could even hear a checker bird cawing in the mist. It must have found some dead animal and was celebrating its feast of carrion.

He had never been to Sepho’s before but had always imagined she lived very well from the spoils of her activities. So it came as a shock to see that her “home” amounted to little more than an old tool shed, less then half the size of the cabin that Fieus owned, squat with a single door and a lone, high window running the length of the leeward side.

This narrow opening was curtained with hessian. Fieus could see a light illuminating the room within dimly, throwing strange shadows on the drape.

As he reached the narrow door, he paused to gather himself. He could hear Sepho moving around inside. This had to work. He knocked. The moving stopped.

“Who is it?” Her voice was soft, not how he had imagined. He thought he might even recognise it. But that was foolish. It was definitely tinged with fear, though. Like so much about Discurus now.

“Fieus Orr,’ he said. He kept his voice quiet but firm. “The camp’s doctor.”

“What do you want?” Sepho’s voice came closer.

“To talk,” Fieus said. “Can you open the door?”

There was a clunk as a heavy bolt was drawn back. Then another, and a third. A key was turned and Sepho opened the door just wide enough for Fieus to see her close up for the first time.

In the flesh, Fieus could see Sepho was only a few years younger than him. She was wearing an old, cream-coloured nightdress and her long brown hair was unkempt. It was clear she’d only just woken. She might have looked vulnerable except for the nasty-looking hunting knife she was also holding.

Sepho looked him up and down and her shoulders fell, visibly relaxing.

“Wait,” she said and closed the door. The key turned once more.

Fieus did as he was told, casting nervous glances around him as the mix began to come to life. He turned, nervous, as a generator started up somewhere nearby and the bare electrical bulbs started to flicker on the buildings they festooned. The mist was lifting slowly and Fieus now saw a handful of figures moving from their dormitory buildings to the cookhouse.

The click of the lock made Fieus turn back to the door as Sepho opened it. She was dressed now in a worn coverall. He stepped gratefully inside.

He had half expected the tiny shed to be a strange collection of food and tools that Sepho might sell or trade, but there was none of it. She must have a separate building for the storing of her illicit goods.

Instead, the room was like a traditional bedroom or living room. A small bed lined one wall: crisp white sheets, nice blankets and a quilted bedspread. Beside this was a small table with a 2D photo and a hurricane lamp, an old-fashioned book and mug.

Along the other wall was a line of high cupboards beneath which ran a crude dresser. A bowl of water, a camping stove and some expensive looking desk ornaments sat incongruously together.

Fieus put down the medical case.

“What’s in the bag?”

“Medical kit,” Fieus said. He didn’t want to tell her just yet.

“So?” Speho asked. She flopped into the only chair. “What can I do for the incorruptible Doctor Orr?”

Fieus smarted. She used the word “incorruptible” as if it were a slur. But he swallowed his angry reply. He needed her on side.

“I need your help.”

She laughed humourlessly. “I worked that out. I mean specifics.”

“I need to find out where the Daleks have taken my son.”

“What’d he do? Use the wrong fork at a Dalek dinner?”

“They took him for Robotisation.”

Sepho’s face changed. She actually looked concerned. “I’m sorry,” she said. “There’s no getting him back from that.”

“Do you have a plan of the Dalek mine?”

“Mine?” Sepho laughed. “You have kept yourself in your own little world, haven’t you? It’s not a mine! It’s a HADE.”

“What’s a hade?”

“H. A. D. E. Hidden Armoured Dalek Encampment. They’re not mining. They’re hiding!”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s some strange thinking from their high-ups. Put an army into hiding. Freeze them somehow. Wait for the enemy to pass and then attack from the rear.”

Sepho stood up and moved to the stove. She took a pan down and lit the fire with a match. “You eaten?”

“How do you know this?”

Speho took two eggs from the cupboard.

“I get around.”

She beat the eggs together and then added some powder from a pot and some water from the bowl.

“Mix eggs?”

Fieus frowned. He was hungry. Perhaps he should eat. “Thank you,” he said.

Sepho nodded. “I haven’t got a map.”

Fieus bowed his head. He couldn’t do this without a map.

“But I know where the process room is.” She turned to face him, a lop-sided smile on her lips. “I could show you.”

“Really? That would be…”

“For a price.”

Fieus nodded. Of course. This was Sepho after all. He was prepared.

“I’ve got some family jewellery in the bag,” he said.

“That’ll do for the eggs,” Sepho replied over her shoulder. As if on cue, the eggs sizzled in the pan. “But I’m going to need something much more valuable than baubles for my personal assistance.”

“I don’t have anything else,” he said. “What about my home? The cabin. You can have that.”

Sepho served the eggs in wooden bowls and gave one to Fieus before sitting on the bed. “Sit,” she said. “I don’t want your cabin.”

Fieus sat. “What then?”

Your help.” She forked some egg into her mouth. 

“Mine? How can I help you?”

“OK,” she said through her mouthful. “No one else knows this, but it’s almost over. We’re all gong to get killed.”

What?”

“Final part of the Dalek plan. Robotise the young, strong, intelligent ones. Kill the rest. I’m afraid our generation don’t count as young.”

Fieus almost grinned. “I could have told you that!”

Sepho smiled at him. Her grey eyes twinkled momentarily and then became dead slate once more.

“The Daleks go into hibernation. The Robomen kill the rest of the Jahooi, destroy all the buildings, and then guard the HADE from anyone who comes sniffing. Eventually – I guess pretty soon – even the Robomen die. So no clue the Daleks were ever here…”

“When is this happening?”

“That’s’ the thing,” she said. “Tonight.”

Fieus looked down at his bowl. They would have to move fast if he was going to save Rydicé.

“That’s why I need your help. I was going to see you today. But you’ve saved me the trip. The med-centre. It’s right next to the Dalek hanger.”

“You’re going to steal a ship?” Fieus laughed.

“Don’t condescend to me, medicine man. You have no idea who I am.”

Fieus scoffed. “You’re Sepho. Everyone knows that.”

“They do. But they’re wrong. My real name is Tanis.”

“Tanis? The pilot?” Fieus knew the name well. On the voyage. On the colonly ship. She had given the daily updates. That’s why he recognised her voice. “But you’re a hero!”

“Huh. Not many people think that any more. They hate me. But I’m going to get out of here. I’m gonna to take as many as I can with me. You, too, if you make it.”

“How do you propose to get into the Dalek hangar?”

“I propose to sneak about. Like I always do. How do you propose to get in the process room?”

“My bag.” Fieus smiled.

Sepho knitted her brows. “Show me,” she said.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

The main entrance was a fair walk from the mix. Carts were used to get the supplies between the two. But today there didn’t seem to be any carts going to the works. Probably because – if Sepho was right – the construction work was complete. So Fieus had to make the journey on foot.

Two Robomen were standing guard and a Dalek was gliding back and forth between where the two gates had been set in concrete pillars and the inner, electrified fence. Fieus wondered if the Dalek or the Robomen knew what had happened at the cabin. Did they have a news network? A briefing update? Would they be suspicious?

Trying not to show his nerves, Fieus approached the nearer of the two Roboman and had to put his medical bag down to fish out the plastic pass from his shabby, grey jumpsuit. The Roboman took the pass and put it through a laser scanner. The machine gave the same high-pitched tone of approval it had given every day since the Daleks had built the camp.  Automatically, the zombie-like man with the metal collar and head device operated the gates.

Once inside, Fieus walked up the slope towards the second fence. He tried not to go too fast. He tried not to appear furtive. Yet the Dalek still approached him. Why? The Daleks never suspected him before. It stopped in front of him. Its blue iris focussing on his left hand.

“Halt!” the Dalek growled.

Fieus did as he was asked.

“Why-do-you-carr-y-a-con-tain-er?”

“It’s my medical bag,” Fieus said. “I’m a doctor. I tend to the workers.”

“You-have-not-carr-ied-it-before.”

“I have a particular case that requires more heavy-duty surgical instruments than I normally use,” Fieus said. He didn’t smile. “I’m sure the worker can be returned to optimal fitness. I thought you wanted the workers fit?”

The Dalek’s eyestalk rose to look Fieus in the face.

“O-pen-the-con-tain-er.”

“Really? It’s just…”

“O-PEN!”

Fieus put the old leather bag down and opened the clasps along the top. He prised the two edges apart.

“Step-back!”

The Dalek rotated slightly and extended the sucker into the bag, all the while, scanning it with its unblinking eye. The creature withdrew its arm again, but this time it was holding something.

“This-is-a-ser-rated-weapon. Its-use-is-pro-hib-it-ed. Ex-plain!”

“It’s a surgical saw,” Fieus said calmly. “I may have to amputate the man’s arm. It’s not a weapon.”

“Its-use-is-pro-hib-it-ed!” The Dalek swung away from Fieus. “Ro-bo-man!”

The nearest Roboman came forward.

“Dis-pose-of-this-it-em!” The Dalek then swung back to Fieus. “Take-the-con-tain-er. Move. Move!”

Fieus picked up the bag and resealed the clasps. Then without looking at the Dalek, he moved to the second gate. He passed through the inner gates and walked briskly towards the med-centre. For once he did not have his head bowed. Instead he took in all that was going on.

Sure enough, the activity was all on the surface. Huge piles of topsoil that had been piled around the site for months now were being pushed into place, covering the concrete and steel Dalek encampment. Burying it like a coffin.

As Sepho had pointed out the med-centre was adjacent to the vast Dalek hanger. A small golden saucer ship took up most of the space. But beside it were assorted vehicles: a dozen smaller, silver shuttle saucers and a squadron of patrol ships that had three legs or prongs and mimicked the Dalek shape.

Naturally, this was one of the most heavily guarded sections of the HADE. The entrance itself was as wide as the town had been. Scores of Daleks patrolled this opening, backed up by a platoon of Robomen.

Fieus tried not to think about it and instead entered the med-centre. He greeted the administrator, Nekiyé, a half-deaf old woman and passed into his “surgery” – a white-washed room with a simple desk and chairs.

Now he just had to wait for Sepho’s signal. He couldn’t think of her as the pilot, Tanis. He could scarcely believe it. The idea that this might be an elaborate trap had crossed his mind, but he had no choice but to trust her.

He didn’t have to wait long. A worker dressed in the remnants of a drab olive suit burst into the reception area. He was thin and gaunt and out of breath. He quickly told Nekiyé that there had been an accident in one of the corridors. A blast door had crushed someone’s leg and Fieus was needed immediately.

The corridor was angled oddly, with its ceiling sloping up from right to left. Fieus had to stoop as he ran so as not to smash his head on the jutting metalwork. Some distance down one of the side corridors, Sepho was waiting for him. She was leaning against the wall, picking at her fingernails, nervous.

“Ow. My foot,” she said as Fieus approached. She gave a not altogether convincing smirk and beckoned him to follow her.

“Do you definitely know where the process room is?” Fieus asked.

“I get about,” she replied.

“That’s not a ‘yes’,” he said, catching her up.

She gave him a sideways glance. “Look, I know roughly where it is.”

“Roughly?” Fieus almost squeaked. “This is spectacularly dangerous as it is. We don’t want to be wandering about aimlessly. What are we going to do if we get lost? Ask a Dalek for direction?”

“We won’t be aimless. Trust me.”

Fieus decided that arguing was pointless and the pair fell silent. He just had to hope Sepho did know where she was going. Roughly. As they walked, the corridors echoed ominously with a far-off dripping or perhaps the whirring of a machine. Fieus felt a shiver up his back.

They reached a three-way junction and Sepho stopped. She looked worried.

“What is it?”

“This is as far as I’ve been,” she admitted. “I know the process room is down one of these corridors.”

They looked first one way and then the other. Both directions looked identical: they led away from the junction in straight lines for about 50 yards and then turned a corner, one to the right, one to the left.

“Well?”

Sepho bit her lip. “It’s guesswork, but I reckon… down here.”

She started to move but Fieus pulled her back, clamping his hand over her mouth and flattening them both against the wall. Sepho frowned and rolled her eyes. Fieus jerked his head to the left and took his hand away.

In the dull shine of the metallic walls, a figure was approaching. It wasn’t a Dalek, so it must be a Roboman. They were in luck. It passed by them and continued to the right, disappearing around the corner.

“Time for your fancy dress,” Sepho said.

Fieus put his bag down and opened it. The medical saw had worked well as a distraction. From within he took out a couple of metal implements. One was a Roboman neck brace and the other the control crown, both gleaned from Giopé’s corpse. Fieus put both in place and Sepho checked they were secure.

“Good to go, Robo-doc,” she said.

Fieus went to move but she stopped him.

“Hold on. Here.” She scraped some dirt from her coveralls and carefully dabbed it around his eyes. “Perfect!”

Fieus nodded, adopted a vacant look and started propelling Sepho down the corridor, gripping her arm. As they moved deeper into the HADE’s depths, they began to hear a strange, rhythmic double heartbeat. Fieus hoped that it was the Robotisation process.

The two intruders had almost caught up with the other Roboman, when he made another sudden turn and vanished from sight through a side door. Fieus and Sepho approached the curved opening with caution. The heartbeat was now very loud.

Through the arch they saw a multi-levelled control room. Several bronze Daleks attended to computer panels while Robomen stood guard at the entrances. The one they had followed walked up to a Dalek and handed over a report tablet.

Unlike the others it was completely black and very shiny, the lights from the ceiling and the machinery reflecting off its dome and skirt. This must be the encampment commandant. Fieus had heard about it but never seen it. The black Dalek took the tablet with its sucker arm, which pulsed as it manipulated the touchscreen.

“REPORT!” A much deeper voice boomed.

The black Dalek turned to face the Dalek that had spoken.

Sepho and Fieus stared as a much larger Dalek glided from its position above the control room. It left the dais and hovered in mid-air before descending to the floor of the chamber. It was bulkier and coloured blue; both its appendage and gun arm much larger then those of its black and bronze counterparts.

A much larger Dalek glided from its position above the control room.
It left the dais and hovered in mid-air

Fieus knew this was not the right place, but fear had nailed him to the spot. These strange, new Daleks held an almost hypnotic fascination and he couldn’t take his eyes from them.

“Fin-al-earth-move-ment-is-com-plete-Da-lek-Strat-e-gist. The-HADE-is-now-un-der-ground.”

“IMP-LE-MENT-the-fin-al-phase-of-the-Dalek-plan,” the Strategist Dalek boomed.

“I-o-bey,” the black Dalek turned and moved to a console. A screen lit up above it. “Ev-ac-u-at-ion of Rob-o-men will be-gin-in-600-rels.”

The numbers on the screen began to count down. A bronze Dalek intoned each one: “5-9-9-rels, 5-9-8-rels…”

“Re-peat-to-all-Rob-o-men: once-e-vac-u-a-tion-sig-nal-is-giv-en-all cor-ri-dor de-fen-ces-will-be-act-i-vat-ed.”

“I-o-bey.”

“An-y-de-vi-a-tion-from-e-vac-u-a-tion-will-re-sult-in-im-med-i-ate-EX-TER-MIN-AT-ION. No-one-must-re-turn-to-the-HADE. No-one. No-one!”

“We’ve got to get out of here!” Sepho whispered urgently. She moved back the way they came and Fieus, with a final glance at the Dalek command, followed her.

Sepho began to run the moment she was round the first corner. She stopped at the three-way junction.

“I’m going for the shuttle. Give me your pass!”

“What about Rydicé?”

Sepho gesticulated at the other corridor. “It must be that way!” She went to go and then turned back. “You know what that blue Dalek said? It means that once the signal is given you can only move in one direction: out of the base. Anyone who tries to double back will be killed.”

“Why would I want to double back?”

Sepho shook her head. “No idea,” she said. “Good luck!” And she ran off down the corridor.

Fieus took the passage they had yet to explore and quickly found himself at another archway. Inside was a large room with cells along one wall with clear plastic doors. In the centre of the room was an operating table and against the other wall was a line of cylindrical chambers with large, conical headsets. Within them stood three people, their faces covered by the devices. A gentle humming filled the air.

Without thinking, Fieus ran forward. “Rydicé!” he called, desperately trying to see if one of the Jahooi going through the Robotisation process was his son.

“Dad!” The shout came behind Fieus. He turned and saw his son pressed up against one of the plastic doors. There were other people also staring through the other doors. Fieus cast about for the control that might unlock the doors and found them on the far side of the last cell.

A dozen people came streaming out, men women and teenagers. Rydicé threw himself into his father’s arms. He was weeping. “You’re here,” he kept repeating.

“I promised you,” Fieus said. “I told you I’d save you.”

The gentle humming ended abruptly and Fieus broke off the embrace. Something had changed. The others had fled into the corridor, leaving Fieus and Rydicé alone.

“What’s wrong, dad?”

Before Fieus could answer, the conical headsets in the cylinders began to rise as one, revealing a line of newly created Robomen. Rydic’s eyes widened in horror as the line stepped forward in unison.

Fieus, who was still wearing Giopé’s Roboman headpiece grabbed Rydicé and began marching him away from the exit.

The other, real, Robomen did not question this and left the room via the arch.

‘Where are we going?” Rydicé asked.

“We can’t go back that way. They’ll kill us. Why would I be taking a prisoner away from the process room? We’ve got to find another way.”

The boy nodded and followed as his father began to explore the far end of the chamber. There was no other exit, but Fieus found an access panel in the wall and quickly removed it with the scalpel he was carrying in his pocket.

Just then, one of the Robomen returned and saw the man and his son.

You are not a Roboman,” it said flatly. “Stand up.”

“Get in,” Fieus ordered his son, pointing at the access panel.

Halt.” The undead creature now had a whip in his hand.

Fieus sprang across the room like a man twenty years his junior. He struggled with the Roboman, the scalpel still in his hand. The Roboman threw Fieus against the processing equipment and then cracked his whip, catching the man across the arm, wrapping itself around it. Fieus used this to yank the Roboman towards him. As the creature stumbled forward, it fell on to Fieus and then froze before slumping to the floor. The medic’s scalpel was protruding from its chest.

Without a second look, Fieus followed his son though the access hatch and pulled the panel roughly back into place. It would have to do.

The access space was narrow and it was difficult to manoeuvre. It was cold in there. very cold. This must be the cooling system for whatever refrigeration system the Daleks had.

When their progress was blocked by bulkier machinery, they had to clamber down a level to continue, but Fieus was confident they were heading away from the HADE’s centre now. It was also now much colder and Fieus could see his and his son’s breath blooming in the frigid air.

Rydicé found another access hatch and, having left the scalpel embedded in the Roboman, Fieus had to improvise a screwdriver from the machinery around him.

Less than a minute later they were out of the access space. But what they had entered was far worse. Sepho had said they were hiding an army down there. And she was right.

Fieus and his son were backed up against the perimeter wall of a storage bay the size of a forest. But it wasn’t trees that populated this woodland; it was Daleks. Row upon row of bronze Daleks: all in semi-hibernation. They were shifting from side to side on the floor like seaweed caught in a gentle current. Some of them were making murmuring sounds, although their dome lights were not flashing.

“Dreaming Daleks!” whispered Fieus, trying to stop his teeth from chattering and trying to make his son feel better. “I wonder what in the world Daleks dream about!”

“Us. Dead,” replied Rydicé. “You’ve led us into a death maze! How do we get out?”

Fieus patted his son’s shoulder. “I’ve got us this far. I’m not going to give up. Look!”

He pointed at a gap in the Dalek ranks. It was just wide enough for one Dalek. The gap extended for several rows and then it turned.

“Why are there spaces between them?” Rydicé asked.

“You’re right, Rydicé, “ Fieus said with a smile. “It is like a maze! I suppose they need room to manoeuvre or for one specific Dalek to leave its rank without disturbing the others.”

“You don’t actually know,” Rydicé said.

“No. But we don’t need to know why they do it. We just need to know where it goes!” Even in the middle of a slumbering Dalek army his son was being a teenager. “Come on!”

Fieus stepped away from the wall and started tiptoeing down the aisle between the metal creatures, shaking now from the cold. Rydicé followed, an anxious expression on his face. He was so busy looking at each and every Dalek he passed that he did not notice when his father stopped to get his bearings. He walked straight into him and knocked him against the nearest Dalek.

They both held their breath as the creature jolted into its neighbour. Then, slowly, the eyestalk on the second Dalek began to rise.

“Ext,” it said, with a dim glow to its lights. “Ex-ter…”

“Move!” Fieus began to run now, dragging his son by the hand. The aisles seemed to lead in all directions, but they were not irregular or designed to confuse like a maze would. Fieus could see the way out – a large door on the far side of the chamber. That would undoubtedly lead to a corridor that would lead to the outside world.

They ran together, father and son until they reached the door. The activity had made them warmer. Where they had been a few moments ago, several Daleks were now stirring. They could hear the monsters’ muted exclamations becoming louder with each second.

Fieus waved his hand in front of the control and the door rose with a slight grating sound. A nearby Dalek’s eyestalk began to glow with its characteristic blue light. Rydicé moved through and Fieus followed, closing the door behind him.

Then the alarm started sounding. Their 600 rels was up.

Now they were sprinting down the wide corridor, and ahead they could see a rectangle of fading daylight.

They reached the end and Fieus collapsed against a wall. Behind them the corridor was filling with Robomen. They were evacuating the HADE. And their orders were to kill all the surviving Jahooi.

To their left, Sepho had secured a shuttle and was waving to them, shouting. There were dead Robomen scattered across the ground, there had been a battle here. And now Sepho was a resistance leader, rallying her troops, saving their people.

Saving their people!

There would be those not in the camp. Those not on the shuttle. They would not be saved. Fieus turned back to see the Robomen closing on them from a distance.

“You have to go on,” Fieus said. “Her name is Sepho. She’s actually Pilot Tanis. Convince the people, Rydicé. She’s a good person. She’s going to get you out of here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m so, so proud of you.” He kissed Rydicé on the forehead. “I love you. Too much. Now go!” He turned Rydicé around to face down the slope towards the shuttle. The boy looked back at his father with realisation spreading across his face. Sepho knew what was happening, too, and was running across the landing pad to grab Rydicé.

Fieus gave a salute to both of them, a smile to his son and then ducked back into the corridor, running towards the Robomen like a warrior of old: teeth bared, shrieking a guttural battle cry.

The Dalek’s automatic defences identified the nonconformity and were activated immediately. Across the HADE, all the auto-lasers started shooting indiscriminately, slicing down the Robomen until they had all fallen. It took less time than a checker bird takes to give its warbling cry.

Sepho bundled Rydicé into the shuttle and quickly took the controls, bringing the ship off the landing pad in a blast of exhaust fumes. There were no windows to see out of, just computer projections of their surrounding. Rydicé never saw his father again. But he did have the privilege of sending the distress signal to their home planet of Jahoo, telling them about the Dalek invasion and the bravery of his father.

As for Fieus, his dying thoughts were of Rydicé and Giopé, his wife Nyad and the knowledge that at least he had not failed all of them.

THE END


A message from me:

If you liked this missing tale from Myths & legends, you would probably enjoy the others that did make it into the collection – including another Dalek story as well as ones concerning Cybermen and Weeping Angels, Great Vampires and Sontarans!

You can find it in hardback or kindle format at Amazon. That, too, is also illustrated by the magnificent Adrian Salmon – to whom huge thanks go for allowing me to use his awesome artwork for this missing short story.

Thank you.

R x

Reviews are in for The 13th Doctor Volume #0…

Not long to go now until The 13th Doctor Volume #0: the Many Lives of Doctor Who hits the shops, shelves and sites and reviews are starting to come in from around the comics industry. I am happy to report they are all resoundingly – and hugely – positive.

Here’s a taste:

“…a celebration of the character’s lengthy history.”

 – Hollywood Reporter

“Some things are worth stopping the presses for… The result is a book full of great Easter Eggs and special references for passing fans and diehards alike.  Along with Dinnick’s great voice for each incarnation of the Doctor…  This may be one of the biggest comic book issues of the year.”

 – Borg

 

“…serves a wonderful celebration of all the Doctor is and all that she will be.”

 – Geeks WorldWide

“…a great jumping-on point for the new series.”

 – ComicCon.com

“The ultimate Doctor Who celebration, a perfect beginner’s guide and a brilliant tribute for long-term fans!”

 – Comic Crusaders

“Definitely worth the wait…excitement is very evident in the world of comic books as Titan Comics…Writer Richard Dinnick is joined by a whole host of talented artists who have put their skills together to bring the new Doctor to life… So much Who goodness in such a short space of time!”

 – Two Geeky Chicks

The 13th Doctor Volume #0: the Many Lives of Doctor Who is available to pre order:

On Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US)

On Comixology (UK) 

And will be on sale soon at Forbidden Planet and all good comicbook shops!

The Cosplay, the Message and the Impact: a 13th Doctor story…

I posted the following story on Facebook and the lovely reaction to it made me think I should give it a wider audience. A year ago last week I dressed up as the newly announced 13th Doctor – Jodie Whittaker – at San Diego Comic Con. I had great help from two wonderful people – expert cosplayers both: Taylor Deatherage (costume) and Elly Glavich (make-up).

The fact that a man was cosplaying the first female Doctor even made the genre news site – Bleeding Cool. Somehow, they managed to totally miss my message which I had pummelled everyone with – that the vociferous backlash on social media against a woman in the part was at best a pathetic knee-jerk and at worst undiluted misogyny of the worst kind.

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I was trying to say: “It’s going to be OK. Jump on board!” and also to send a message to women in every corner of Whodom – including my daughter – that I was 100% behind the decision and the casting and was seriously excited about it.

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My move surprised a lot of people – including fellow Who scribe Paul Cornell (above) as I turned up to one of my Titan Comics signings in costume.

I should say that although I love fancy dress parties I have never cosplayed before and don’t foresee another instance of cosplay in the future. This was a one-off for a serious cause.

What, you are asking, is the point of this story?

Well, fast forward to this year’s San Diego Comic Con. I am doing a lot of work with Doctor Who and BBC America and even the 13th Doctor, so I was invited to the prestigious BBC America Doctor Who Party.

I met Jodie – who was amazing. She is such a kind, joyous, force of nature. Always smiling, always positive, always welcoming. She introduced herself and I told her how excited I was about her casting and how thrilled my Daughter, Emily, was about getting our first female Doctor.

She asked how old Emily was and I told her she was 13, but about to be 14 in the next few days. Jodie immediately demanded my phone and recored a lovey message for her; one that mirrored my own reasons for dressing as her the year before.

Wonderful, right?

I did not tell her about my cosplay outing the year before. However, while chatting to new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, someone told him about it and said there was a video of it.

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He asked to see so I showed him…

When I’d shown it to him he dragged me back over to Jodie to show her! As it was playing she said “Yeah. I’ve seen it. My husband showed it me and said ‘if this is how much the guys who *write* Doctor Who are behind you, you’ve got nothing to worry about!’.”

I told her that was thew whole reason I did it. And she looked at me and said “That was you??” Chris told her it was and she smiled and grabbed my phone (again!), pausing the video at the point where I take the hood off to reveal my face. “You even got my roots!!” she exclaimed, laughing. She then gave me back the phone and made me pose with the paused video and took a photo of me!

Yes, Jodie Whittaker took a photo of me at Comic Con!!

And, of course, I tool one with her, too.

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But I am so thrilled that by donning her costume to show support for women fans of the show, it had reached Jodie herself and had made her feel less anxious about the reaction to her casting.

Job totally done. 🙂

I am Writing for the 13th Doctor

I am seriously over the moon to confirm that I will be writing for Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. In an upcoming 62-page comic special we will see the newly regenerated 13th Doctor looking back at her previous lives for inspiration to take with her on her new journey and a peek forward, too.

Published by Titan on October 9th 2018, Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – Volume #0 The Many Lives of Doctor Who will have two gorgeous variant covers – one by Claudia Ianicello and one by Will Brooks.

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Writing for every incarnation of theDoctor – even the one he’d rather forget: the War Doctor – and each accompanied by his many friends. From Ian and Barbara (London 1965!)  through Sarah Jane Smith and Romana right up to Bill, the comic will serve as a prelude to the new TV series and also as a jumping on point for those who know nothing about Doctor Who!

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One of the most exciting aspects of this projects is the fact I get to work with so many different artists – each one providing the artwork on a different Doctor – including those I have long wanted to work with but never have.

The line up includes Gioriga Sposito, Mariano Laclaustra, Arianna Florean, Iolanda Zanfardino, Neil Edwards and two of my 12th Doctor collaborators, Brian Williamson and Pasquale Qualano. Finally, I am seriously delighted that I get to work – at last – with Rachael Stott. Rachael is the official artist on Titan’s 13th Doctor ongoing series (to be written by Jody Houser) coming this autumn.

All the artists have produced seriously magnificent work and I can’t wait for you to see their artwork. Every frame is a masterpiece.

The GN won’t be out in time for San Diego Comic Con, but I will be signing my 12th Doctor collections at the Titan stand.

Although I probably won’t be in costume this year… 😉

 

Here be Dragons… well, Monsters.

I love Doctor Who. To anyone that knows me or has heard of me, that shouldn’t be news. But I mean I have always loved it… probably ever since I sat on my brother’s knee as a baby and watched Patrick Troughton’s last year as the Doctor.  I can’t remember it, but his brainwashing paid off!

Mum used to tell me stories about Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and how he would whisk us off to safety in the TARDIS to a planet where nothing could hurt us. And my emotional connection to the show was cemented forever…

Ever since then, I’ve been writing Doctor Who stories. And not just writing. I used to plan out everything – drawing the monsters, the costumes, the spaceships, even the weapons!

The other day, I was going through my stuff and fond some folders with a few of those stories and a few of the alien races I crated back when I was a teenager. Some of those have gone on to appear in my professional produced Doctor Who work.

I put a couple of the images up on Twitter and they seemed to go down well, so I thought I’d stick those on here, too, and add some more to the mix.

First up are a couple of “group shots” featuring the Sherridell, the Doradans and the Shiri. (My use of the colon/dash is killing me!)

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I don’t want to say too much about any of the races in this update as they might still turn up in one form or another. But I think you can see that the Shiri are badass space marauders. They basically invaded and stripped planets of their natural resources – from minerals to people. Nasty.

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The Doradans later became the Volsci for my Big Finish audio drama “Paradoxicide” (part of the 150th release, Recorded Time and Other Stories). By then they had become an all-female race of combative alines who are genetically engineered from embryos harvested from other races

The Volsci have a very strict caste system. All military Volsci wear dark grey/black body armour, veined with power conduits especially at the neck, wrists and trunk. Their skin tones do vary, although they are generally dark with black hair. They also wear Romans-style helmets. The central “plume” of these matches the colours of their “veins”.

Although there are many ranks, the three main ones are the officer-class CENTURIA (green), the terrifying INQUISA (yellow) who are powerful telepaths and experts at interrogation (and mental torture), and the regular troops, the MILITIA (red).

They are set to appear again in a new project coming soon!

In the next image we see a further three – Dom Raavi (leader of the Shiri) puts in another appearance and we meet the Torrinese and the (unimaginatively named) Phoenix.

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These time-travelling avian lifeforms went on to become the Ra’ra’vis, who have appeared in two stories so far – my first Doctor Who comic strip for IDW, Time Fraud (drawn by Josh Adams) – and cropped up in last year’s Doctor Who: Myths & Legends (drawn by Adrian Salmon).

Going through these lever arch files (I think re-purposed from school), I’ve found a whole load of sketches for aliens that didn’t even get names!

Although, I think the guy on the far right is an Inquino from a story idea of the same title. That may one day see the light of day. Who knows? As to the others… well, clearly a dog (perhaps my Cubil Terroriers??), something based on a Siamese Cat (!) and a bear thing!

I did two sketches fo this next one and i have no recollection of who or what he or she is… maybe I should have a “name the alien competition’!!

He doesn’t look very happy. Was he a cactus? A lizard? Who knows? Who. Knows.

I didn’t just come up with my own creations. I also wanted to play with all the main villains. So, yes! Of course, we have the Daleks. The story I had in mind was set on a jungle planet and I wanted to pay homage to the Dalek emerging from the Thames or the sand or even being spray-painted.

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So, I had a camouflage Dalek appearing from the undergrowth (a few decades before those Ironsides)! I also had a Commandant Dalek – the one in charge of their base. He has pulsing/flashing lights in his sense spheres. I’d still love to see that design aspect!

I also had a go at the Cybermen. I loved the 80s designs but (whisper it) I never liked the Cyber Controllers with their egg heads. I thought (think) they look a bit silly (the updated Doctor Who seemed to concur with Controllers simply showing off their brains…). So, I dubbed mine a “Co-ordinator” and made him more badass by giving him “evil” eyes and going back to Revenge of the Cybermen for a design aspect – the ridged handles!

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Next time, I’ll take a look back (and forward!) at the creatures and races I’ve created since becoming a pro including: DahensaSiccati, Shoalies (now called Mermin), Omsonii, Metraxi, the Tyk, PathicolsPelikorti, Haxeen and Stena

 

 

 

Full Covers revealed for 7th Doctor Comic

The final covers of the Seventh Doctor comic, for which I am writing the back up strip have been revealed in all their gorgeousness. They bear the the new Doctor Who logo – which I love – and lines up my name beside some pretty big Who luminaries. 🙂

Ben Aaronovitch (writer of the TV stories Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield as well as the runaway hit novel series, The Rivers of London) and Andrew Cartmel (former script editor on the show, the force behind the famous “Cartmel Masterplan” and author of the bestselling Vinyl Defective series of books) are penning the main story, Operation Volcano – all edited by the legendary John Freeman!

 

The art for this is being provided by the awesome Chris Jones who did the stunning artwork for the Third Doctor mini-series with colour by Marco Lesko. I am so thrilled that Jessica Martin – who is an amazing polymath when it comes to talent: actor, singer, comedian, writer and artist – is on art duties for my back up strip – A Hill of Beans. The colour on this will be provided by Charlie Kirchoff, who was on colour duties for my very first Doctor Who comic back in 2012.

Jessica played the character of Mags in the 7th Doctor story, the Greatest Show in the Galaxy and is not only bringing her artistic skills to bear on the project but also drawing Mags, created by Stephen Wyatt, as she is the guest star in the story.

 

 

The covers are all spectacular and have there are four variants as well as a blank “sketch” cover: A by Alice X Zhang, B by Will Brooks, C by Chris Jones himself and D by Simon Myers.

The comic launches with a double issue in June and you can pre-order it now.

Exclusive Cover revealed for my Gallifrey One convention 12th Doctor Comic

I am delighted to announce that Titan Comics have teamed up with the number one Doctor Who convention on the entire planet – Gallifrey One – to produce an exclusive cover for the event in February.

The cover features the wonderful Matt Lucas (as Nardole) and the inimitable David Bradley (as the First Doctor) alongside the Gallifrey One logo for this year: “The 29 Voyages”.

I will be attending the convention in Los Angeles between the 15th and 18th February and signing the exclusive alongside the stars of the TV show.

IMG_2269Shaun Lyon, the showrunner of the event said: “Pretty damn cool… an exclusive Titan cover for the convention written by a guest Richard Dinnick, featuring our guests on the cover David Bradley and Matt Lucas.”

The comic that bears this awesome new cover is the 12th Doctor #3.12, the penultimate part of both the third year of the book and of my four part story, A Confusion of Angels.

This featuring the Weeping Angels (Blink, Flesh & Stone, The Angels Take Manhattan, etc) squaring up against the Host (Voyage of the Damned).

Regulars: Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, Pearl Mackie’s Bill, Mat Lucas’s Nardole and Michelle Gomez’s Missy are caught in the crossfire…

My First Doctor Who Comic Colection – Coming in 2018

Titan Comics is collecting my three-issue story, The Wolves of Winter into a hardback and softback graphic novel in February 2018. The story features the 12th Doctor and Bill alongside a crew of Vikings and a party of desperate Ice Warriors and a few blasts from the past he wasn’t expecting!

WoW - 12 vol 6Here’s the blurb and a great quote:

“In Bill’s first comic adventure, the TARDIS crashes into the heart of a Viking camp! It seems that a terrifying alien force has taken hold over the icy kingdom. As the snow melts, the Doctor realises that he is about to face an unwelcome face from the past…”

Comparisons to the show aside, this is a fantastic comic. Every element – the story, the art, the colors – work together in perfect harmony. – Kabooooom

 

The release will also include my one-shot story, The Great Shopping Bill, which sees Bill find a missing girl in the largest supermarket n the galaxy – the Ubermarket! But not everything is as it seems…

You can pre-order this new collection on Amazon now.

 

Covers revealed for the last part of my 12th Doctor Story, The Hordes of Heaven!

The covers for the final issue in year three of the 12th Doctor story run have been released and they are spectacular! As the title and the blurb might have suggested, this story – The Hordes of Heaven – features the return of the Weeping Angles! And now we can see them on the cover.

So join the 12th Doctor, Bill, Nardole and even Missy for one last trip before the third year draws to a close.

Below are the amazing covers for that issue, due in shops come February . Cover A is by Blair Shedd, Cover B is a photo masterpiece Weeping Angel extravaganza by the brilliant Will Brooks and Cover C is a great Groundhog Day homage by Simon Myers.

 

This is the last in the run for 12 for a while as Titan takes its Doctor Who ranges on hiatus for a few months.

What happens next? You’ll have to wait and see! It’s a cliffhanger…