Engines Of War
“I’ve had many faces. Many lives. I don’t admit to all of them. There’s one life I’ve tried very hard to forget — the Doctor who fought in the Time War.”
The Great Time War has raged for centuries, ravaging the universe. Scores of human colony planets are now overrun by Dalek occupation forces. A weary, angry Doctor leads a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against the Dalek stronghold but in the midst of the carnage, the Doctors TARDIS crashes to a planet below: Moldox.
As the Doctor is trapped in an apocalyptic landscape, Dalek patrols roam amongst the wreckage, rounding up the remaining civilians. But why havent the Daleks simply killed the humans?
Searching for answers the Doctor meets Cinder, a young Dalek hunter. Their struggles to discover the Dalek plan take them from the ruins of Moldox to the halls of Gallifrey, and set in motion a chain of events that will change everything. And everyone.
An epic novel of the Great Time War featuring the War Doctor as played by John Hurt.
Read by Nicholas Briggs
Part One: Moldox
As the Great Time War rages on throughout all creation, human resistance fighters on Moldox battle the Dalek forces that have occupied and devastated the surface of the planet. Cinder, a young woman who lost her family after the Daleks invaded when she was only 7 years old, sits waiting to ambush a Dalek patrol. From her elevated position among the wreckage, she spots one Dalek and four Skaro Degradations – two ‘Gliders’, one spider-like in appearance, and the last appears like that of an ordinary Dalek but with a huge cannon for a weapon. With fellow resistance member Finch acting as a distraction, Cinder aims her weapon, a Dalek gun previously salvaged off a dead Dalek, and fires it at the Degradation with the cannon. The Degradation is damaged but survives and the patrol is alerted to Cinder’s location. Cinder quickly fires at the ordinary Dalek, killing it, but the Degradations attack and Cinder is sent tumbling down the hill towards them.
Above the planet, the TARDIS materialises near the Tantalus Eye, alerting the fleet of Dalek saucers. The man piloting the TARDIS, who used to refer to himself as the Doctor, engages the Daleks in battle, ramming the TARDIS straight through two of their ships. He is reinforced by the Fifth Time Lord Battle Fleet under the command of Captain Preda. The Time Lords succeed in forcing the Dalek ships into retreat. However, they are then attacked by Dalek stealth ships exiting the Time Vortex. The entire fleet of Battle TARDISes is wiped out while the Doctor’s TARDIS is sent plummeting to the planet below. He nearly manages to dematerialise but the TARDIS, seemingly aware of what is about to happen, shuts down all vital systems to prevent serious damage. Back on the surface of Moldox, Cinder recovers and destroys the two Gliders. Finch then appears, looking for Cinder. The cannon is turned on him and fires. Cinder is horrified but immediately forgets why, suddenly believing herself to have planned the ambush alone. The TARDIS then crashes, destroying the Dalek with the cannon and causing the spider Degradation to flee. Cinder approached the upturned box, gun in hand even though it is now out of power. The Doctor emerges from the up-facing doors and then quickly orders Cinder inside as the Degradation reappears. The two are safe inside the TARDIS as the Degradation tries to break in but relations are tense as Cinder finds out the Doctor is a Time Lord. The Doctor shrugs off her concerns having seen this behaviour before. The Degradation eventually leaves but the TARDIS has to power itself up again before it can depart. Cinder begins warming up to the Doctor once she realises the TARDIS could be her chance to leave Moldox behind and she offers to take the Doctor to the resistance camp in the city of Andor to be somewhere safe for a while and so she can grab some more supplies.
Jocelyn Harris was the popular governor of Moldox before the Dalek occupation, but when the invasion came, she betrayed her people and helped the Daleks out of fear, a decision she regretted but saw no alternative towards. Now a Dalek prisoner, she is summoned before the Eternity Circle, with all five members present in the audience chambers. The Dalek Emperor addresses the Eternity Circle via visual link, orders a report on the progress of the War as they plan to assault Gallifrey and demands to be shown a demonstration Of The Daleks’ new Temporal Cannon. Another Dalek with a cannon enters the chamber and Jocelyn is used as a test subject. Despite her pleas, the Dalek fires on her and she suffers the same fate as Finch.
At the Andor camp, the Doctor and Cinder meet up with Coyne, the person who taught Cinder how to fight. Cinder had hoped to avoid that meeting as it made her feel guilty about her hopes to leave Moldox in the TARDIS. After the two of them eat, the Doctor learns that the Daleks have been taking people prisoner rather than killing them. Determined to investigate, he has Cinder show him the place which is believed to be the Daleks’ base of operations. On the way there, they hide behind more rubble as a Dalek patrol passes with a collection of prisoners. After they pass, another Dalek spots them. Cinder destroys it but they are forced to leave quickly before more Daleks arrive to investigate. they come across an abandoned house, the upstairs of which provides a view of the Dalek base. Ten prisoners are lined up and Cinder is right in her fears that they are to be executed, yet the Doctor is worried there is more to it. Cinder recognises another Degradation like the one with the cannon she encountered earlier but the Doctor claims they are not Degradations; it is something new. The cannon is fired, killing four prisoners at once. But Cinder forgets this, remembering that there were only six prisoners to begin with. The Doctor realises what is going on. He saw a sign of it when he first met Cinder – the TARDIS had picked up two human lifeforms before it crashed. One was obviously killed but Cinder did not remember anything when the Doctor asked her about it, nor did she remember who used to own a now-empty bunk back at the camp. The Daleks have created a weapon that removes its victims from history.
The Doctor and Cinder sneak into the base’s courtyard undetected and enter one of the Dalek saucers landed there. Most Of The Daleks are present in the heart of the ship so the Doctor and Cinder stay in the outer corridors. they come across a Dalek laboratory containing five Dalek casings made out of glass and inside, humans are being mutated into Daleks. The Doctor remarks that Daleks are not as interested in racial purity as they once were but also notes that they are to be used as cannon fodder, as the ordinary Daleks view them as being of lesser value. Cinder tears up some cables, allowing the humans inside to “find peace.” they cross a gantry connecting the saucer. It too is only lightly guarded. The Doctor explains Daleks likely have little interest in Moldox itself and instead have plans for the Tantalus Eye, so they are stationed at other, more important bases. He knows they have already harnessed the Eye’s power for their Temporal Weapons. they enter another lab and the Doctor examines a screen, learning the Daleks are in the process of cloning Daleks for their new Temporal Weapons paradigm, and that they plan to use the Tantalus Eye to erase Gallifrey from history.
In the next room, they find hundreds of vats of the cloned Kaled mutants. The Doctor breaks the coolant system to kill the mutants, declaring this is something he should have done a long time ago. It sets off an alarm. In the next again room are manipulator arms, gunsticks, Temporal Cannons and other Dalek attachments. The Doctor takes one of the cannons as a Dalek locates them. He shoots it with the cannon but it yells “Expunge!” and proves immune to it. Cinder destroys the Dalek with her gunstick but now the whole base is alerted to their presence. they exit the saucer as more Daleks gather in the courtyard – among them standard drones, the three known types of Degradations and even Black Daleks, silver Daleks with blue domes and a white Dalek. Cinder shoots out a distant gantry, causing the Daleks on it to topple onto the squad below. She urges the Doctor to go back for the prisoners while she battles the remaining Daleks before more arrive. The Doctor reluctantly complies and heads back towards the saucers. As Cinder fights her way out of the courtyard, one of the saucers explodes as a result of the Doctor sabotaging the coolant system. The Doctor then reappears with the surviving prisoners who revolt against the Daleks and overpower them. The Doctor and Cinder flee and make it back to the TARDIS which is ready to take off but Cinder is surprised when she finds that the Doctor is not yet ready to take her away from the War as was their deal. Instead, he throws the Dalek cannon on the floor and tells her he needs to take the weapon to Gallifrey to warn the Time Lords of the Dalek plan or it could spell Dalek victory in the War. He will take her somewhere safe later. Cinder accepts but tells the Doctor she is coming with him. The Doctor reluctantly agrees for the time being and dematerialises the TARDIS.
A Dalek reports the rebellion to the members of the Eternity Circle. Their progenitor was rendered inoperable and their clones unviable. The Circle declared it unimportant as the new paradigm is now ready to be put into widespread use and the other progenitors on the Tantalus Spiral are to be transmitted their instructions. At last, the Dalek confirms that the energy signature of the Doctor’s TARDIS was identified. The Circle declares that the plan nears completion and that the Predator will soon be in their possession.
Part Two: Gallifrey
Karlax is monitoring several Dalek engagements with the Time Lords through many different periods of history when an alarm goes off and he is summoned by the Castellan. A ship is trying to enter the Panopticon, thwarting all Time Lord attempts to eject it as the pilot knows all their protocols. Guards swarm into the room as everyone fears that the day has come that the Daleks have found a way to breach the sky trenches and other defences and invade Gallifrey. The tense situation dissipates as the Doctor’s TARDIS appears. The Doctor intentionally caused all the panic to get everyone’s attention and he demands an audience with Rassilon. After much bickering with Karlax, he and Cinder are taken to the War Room where Rassilon resides. Rassilon asks the Doctor how his search for the Master has gone but the Doctor doubts anyone will see him again for a long time. He moves on and warns Rassilon about the Dalek Temporal Cannons and their plans for the Tantalus Eye to wipe out Gallifrey. Rassilon calls a meeting in the hall of the High Council of Gallifrey to which the Doctor is invited, and Cinder also attends but she is not allowed to take part and is watched closely by Karlax. After the Doctor warns the rest of the Council of the danger, it is proposed that the Time Lords use the Tear of Isha to close the Eye. The Doctor is utterly opposed to this as it would wipe out every living thing in that sector of space – twelve planets – and Cinder also speaks out, much to the Council’s annoyance. Rassilon speaks to the Doctor and Cinder alone later and tells they he will consult his possibility engine to see if the Tear can be used without collateral damage but he is still determined to use it.
Once Rassilon ejects the Doctor and Cinder from the hall, the two watch in secrecy and see him use a console to teleport out of the room. The Doctor follows him and ends up in the Death Zone outside of the Tower of Rassilon, where Rassilon himself was entombed until his resurrection at the start of the War and where Borusa had once tried to unlock the secrets of immortality. When the Doctor finds Rassilon, he also finds him consulting a mutilated Borusa connected to numerous wires and cables, his face perpetually alternating between his previous incarnations. He has become Rassilon’s possibility engine, able to see all possible futures which Rassilon intends to use to discover how best to fight the Daleks. The horrified Doctor’s presence is revealed by Borusa and Rassilon almost kills him with his gauntlet but he refrains. they ask Borusa about closing the Eye with the Tear. Borusa claims there is no way the plan can work without causing the death of billions, and that the era of the Time Lords draws to a close, whether the Eye is closed or not. Rassilon reasons that closing the Eye will give them more valuable time to prevent such a disaster. He still plans to use the Eye as the death of billions of humans is of no concern to any Time Lord other than the Doctor. they both leave the Dark Tower to return to the Capitol, the Doctor realising his own race is becoming every bit as evil as the Daleks.
Back in the observation lounge, Cinder grows impatient waiting for the Doctor and so tries to explore to retrieve some useful information. Karlax stops her as she leaves the room and takes her to the Castellan so they can use the mind probe on her, so that Karlax may validate the Doctor’s claims about the Daleks on Moldox. It starts and Cinder sees her own memories on a screen: the Daleks invading her home and killing her family before she hid under the bin; Coyne teaching her how to aim a weapon; 12 year-old Ash teaching her how to pick a lock before he was killed later that night; waiting by herself on top of a roof during a rainstorm to ambush a Dalek patrol with a mine; sharing her first kiss with another girl named Stephanie; Finch whom she had forgotten up until now, erased from existence by the Dalek Temporal Cannon; her recent meeting with the Doctor and their infiltration of the Dalek base. Soon Karlax has learned everything he wanted to know and leaves while the Castellan lifts Cinder up to take her somewhere to recover as she slips into unconsciousness. He fears that something Cinder had said earlier was right: the Doctor is a changed man and might kill somebody for this.
Rassilon and the Doctor return to find Karlax waiting for them. Rassilon instructs him to call the High Council for another meeting. The Doctor, now confident that the Time Lords won’t listen, resolves to find a way to stop both them and the Daleks by himself and leaves to find Cinder. Later, he storms back into the High Council chamber and demands to know what Karlax has done with Cinder, who was not in the observation lounge. Karlax denies knowing anything but the Castellan tries to calm the Doctor down and opens up a secret control room in the chamber with a harp. Inside, Cinder managed to tell the Doctor they used the mind probe on her. In rage, the Doctor attacks Karlax, almost strangling him against a wall until Rassilon subtly threatens to use his gauntlet, which has the same abilities as the Dalek weapons. Using Cinder’s memories to come up with a battle strategy, the Council finalises the plan to use the Tear but the Doctor vows to stop them. Rassilon has him arrested and they are sent to a cell beneath the Capitol.
Cinder recovers a few hours later and asks the Doctor about escaping but the Doctor had tried everything and his sonic screwdriver won’t work on the door. Cinder eventually takes out a bracelet her brother Sammy made for her. After breaking it, she successfully uses it to pick the lock. As they head for the impounded TARDIS, they run into a guard. The Doctor tries to reason with her but Cinder promptly punches her in the jaw and knocks her out. As more guards give chase, they discover the under croft where thousands of damaged TARDISes are left to die. The TARDIS sends a signal to the sonic screwdriver to act as a beacon and the Doctor and Cinder find her and make it inside as the guards find them and attack. As the Doctor tries to take off, however, nothing happens. The Castellan arrives and informs the Doctor that the TARDIS no longer had access to the correct protocols to leave Gallifrey and the Doctor and Cinder are to return to their cell. The Doctor appeals to the Castellan to let him go. The Castellan knows as well as the Doctor that what the High Council plans to do is wrong and someone has to stop them. The Castellan lets them go, urging them not to let his sacrifice be in vain and the TARDIS leaves.
Karlax enters the Death Zone as Rassilon consults the possibility engine seeking to know the best time for Commander Partheus to deploy the Tear. Borusa states the timelines are now unclear – there is a random factor. Karlax appears and informs Rassilon of the Doctor’s escape. Rassilon realises this is the random factor and decrees that the Doctor must die. He gives Karlax this task and he is to be backed by the Celestial Intervention Agency. If Karlax fails, he is not to return. It is his life or the Doctor’s.
Part Three: Into the Eye
The Doctor disposes of two tracking devices left on the TARDIS, one of them on the Dalek cannon which the Doctor believed he had left on Gallifrey. He sends Cinder to get some rest and some new clothes. She wakes up hours later, worried about how much time that they have wasted, but the Doctor explains that in the Time Vortex, no time passes externally. they are then found by five Battle TARDISes piloted by Karlax and the CIA and the Doctor realises Cinder was implanted with a third tracking device before they used the mind probe on her. The Battle TARDISes attack with time torpedoes, the Doctor claiming they temporarily trapped the TARDIS in a stasis bubble. The timely arrival of Dalek stealth ships leads to the destruction of all five Battle TARDISes. The Doctor then rams the TARDIS through an approaching stealth ship, explaining he had shields installed to protect the TARDIS from the likes of time torpedoes and they weren’t stuck at all, just buying time. they hide among the wreckage of Karlax’s TARDIS and materialise on top of him, bringing him on board. Still alive but dying from exposure to the vacuum, the Doctor and Cinder take him to the Zero Room where he can regenerate. The Doctor is willing to give him a second chance.
A Time Lord armada engages the Daleks in the Tantalus Spiral as the Doctor arrives and lands inside Commander Partheus’s TARDIS where the Tear is being kept. The Doctor and Cinder hijack the TARDIS, the Doctor knocking out one of the pilots and throwing away Partheus’s pistol while Cinder keeps watch over them with her Dalek gun. The Doctor travels to the end of the universe and primes the Tear as he prepares to launch it into a red giant, the last star in existence that is still waiting to burn out. Partheus tackles the Doctor so Cinder launches the tear as the two of them fight. The Tear causes the collapse of the star. Partheus recovers the pistol and points it at the Doctor, who doesn’t defend himself but reminds Partheus he just stopped him from becoming a murderer. Partheus lowers the pistol and orders them off his ship. The threat of the tear wiping out the Tantalus Spiral is gone but the Doctor and Cinder still have to thwart the Daleks and avoid the Time Lords no doubt seeking to kill them. The Doctor claims that they only thing they can do is return to Gallifrey. Cinder calls him insane. The Doctor agrees.
The TARDIS lands in the Death Zone and the Doctor states his intentions to rescue Borusa and take him to the Eye of Tantalus. After they are chased across the Death Zone by a huge carnivorous lizard, they find three more Time Lords in a cave who are just like Borusa, constantly changing between the past and what would have been their future incarnations: early experiments of Rassilon, which Cinder names Interstitials. they all gather around a fire and the direction of the smoke indicates another way out of the cave, meaning they are close to the Tower but they chooe to rest for a while longer. As they do, the Doctor and Cinder spot a number of cave paintings painted by the Interstitials: one of them sees the Doctor next to the figure of a woman with blond hair and a tall red flower; a circle of five Daleks surrounding the silhouette of a sixth; the TARDIS flying into the Tantalus Eye; a thin man with long curly hair; a tall man with a blue suit; a man with a cape and bouffant white hair running from a silver robot; and a woman with red hair lying still in the TARDIS, which worries Cinder. Some of these the Doctor does not recognise as they are from his future. Soon the five of them enter the Dark Tower and retrieve Borusa, who agrees to help the Doctor as long as the Doctor agrees to end his suffering afterwards. After they move him to the TARDIS, many more Interstitials appear to see them on their way. The TARDIS leaves the Death Zone.
Returning to the Eye, they see a huge cannon comprised of three moons charging itself with radiation from the Eye. This is the Temporal Cannon the Daleks are going to use to win the War. The Doctor surrenders to the Daleks, much to Cinder’s horror, as it is the only way he can see of getting closer to the Eye. The Daleks bring the TARDIS on board the command station and bring him before the Eternity Circle. they reveal the huge casing of the Predator Dalek and they intend for the Doctor to be placed inside and become the Dalek himself. With no hope of escape, the Doctor and Cinder hug each other tightly but suddenly the TARDIS materialises on top of them, piloted by a man with dark skin and blue eyes – the newly regenerated Karlax. However, Karlax has not had a change of heart; rather the Doctor intentionally left the door to the Zero Room unlocked, expecting Karlax to try and escape, so he set the TARDIS to home in on the Time Lord tracking device implanted inside Cinder. Still intent on following his orders from Rassilon, Karlax tries to shoot the Doctor but Cinder pushes him out of the way and takes the hit from Karlax’s pistol. Furious, the Doctor dematerialises the TARDIS without Karlax, leaving him at the non-existent mercy of the angry Eternity Circle.
Cinder dies peacefully but the Doctor comes up with a plan to save her, using the full potential of the possibility engine – it doesn’t just tell the future, it can make it a reality as well. He flies the TARDIS into the Tantalus Eye, telling Borusa to make real the timeline in which Karlax died and Cinder lived. But then he realises he only has one chance to stop the Daleks and Cinder sacrificed herself to give him that chance. He changes his mind and tells Borusa to make real the future in which the Daleks no longer have sway over the Tantalus Spiral and the new paradigm of Temporal Weapon Daleks are never dispersed. As his last act, Borusa does so, wiping the Eternity Circle, the Dalek fleet and all the patrols of Dalek and Skaro Degradations on all the planets of the Spiral out of existence. When the Doctor regains consciousness, Borusa is gone, the Dalek occupation is ended and Cinder is still dead.
On Moldox, the survivors set about rebuilding. The Daleks are a forgotten memory but the Doctor knows the memories will eventually resurface. After three days, the Doctor finds the location of Cinder’s old homestead. He digs up the skeletal remains of her mother, father and brother from the ashes and gives them a proper burial along with Cinder, whose real name the Doctor also discovered and he writes it on her grave. Before leaving, he makes one final promise to her: he is going to end the War.