Name: Watchlar of the Eternines
Time of Origin: Originated in another dimension; Watchlar made contact with Earth in 1831; was technically ‘killed’/erased in an alternate version of 2003.
Appearances: “Reckless Engineering”
Doctors: Eighth Doctor
Companions: Fitz Kreiner, Anji Kapoor; Trix MacMillan appeared briefly and observed the events taking place in secret,
An interesting detail about Watchlar’s encounter with The Doctor is that it essentially served as a miniature version of the more long-term crisis that the Doctor was dealing with when he confronted him, as Watchlar attempted to manipulate a human agent to take action that would result in the destruction of his race while saving Watchlar’s species by posing as a highly-evolved version of humanity from the future.
When Watchlar first appeared in our universe, he and two other representatives of his species, the Eternines, were able to make contact with Earth in 1831, extracting an aspiring poet called Jared Malahyde and presenting themselves to him as representatives of a highly-evolved form of mankind from the far future. Claiming that mankind had reached a point where they would evolve beyond corporeal form, Watchlar and his associates told Malahyde that they required an agent in the past to ensure that mankind would evolve to become them, Watchlar transferring himself into Malahyde’s body so that he could oversee Malahyde’s work. Under Watchlar’s guidance, Malahyde entered into a partnership with engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel – Malahyde having briefly met Brunel before Watchlar contacted him -, the two men working together to develop a new process for manufacturing steel with greater ease, allowing Brunel to construct his dream projects several years ahead of schedule, such as the SS Great Britain and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, while Malahyde constructed the Utopian Engine, a device that Watchlar claimed would allow the Eternines to travel into the past on a large scale to assist humanity on the steps that would lead to humanity evolving into them.
After twelve long years of work, research and setbacks, the Engine was finally completed, and Watchlar took full possession of Malahyde to activate it, but, due to initially-unrevealed circumstances, the Utopian Engine apparently malfunctioned and caused time to accelerate on Earth’s surface. While buildings and objects didn’t suffer as they were not subjected to the treatment of the elements during this time, and plants generally survived as their seeds were underground, most animals died out as their life spans were naturally shorter than forty years, and only children under ten were able to effectively survive the assault due to the ohealth standards of the time killing older humans due to the violent shock of the sudden aging. In the subsequent chaos, most of the aged infants died due to their inability to cope with their new states, while ‘children’ under the age of five regressed to a cannibalistic, feral state, knowing enough to survive on a basic level while lacking the ability to fully develop socially. The rest of the aged children eventually managed to rebuild some kind of society despite the lack of adults and the obvious shortage of meat, eventually convincing themselves that the ‘Cleansing’ – as it came to be known – was God’s will out of an absence of any other explanation for what had happened to them, with God deciding to ‘purge’ the human race and start anew in Year Nought, sparing only the innocent children.
Malahyde, by contrast, found himself still alive and unaged inside his house, proximity to the Utopian Engine having not only protected him from its effects, but also generating a temporal shield of an unspecified nature around the house that caused time to pass at a far slower rate inside the shield than it did outside. The precise ratio of the time-flow difference was unspecified, but it included four days outside the shield amounting to an hour and twenty minutes inside, four months inside the shield equalling ten years outside, and, by the time The Doctor arrived in this reality in the new year 160 – which would have been the year 2003 if the Cleansing had not occurred -, Malahyde had only aged five years. Maintaining a degree of contact with the world outside his house, Malahyde occasionally hired servants and traded goods to sustain himself, building a wall to hide the truth from the outside world and allowing his guards to assume that he was his own son, guarding the Utopian Engine in the hope that Watchlar would one day return.
This continued until the year 160 – for Malahyde, five years since the Cleansing -, when his latest servant Aboetta returned to her village after receiving news that her father was dying, encountering the Eighth Doctor, Fitz Kreiner and Anji Kapoor during her journey; the three TARDIS travellers were currently investigating recent damage caused to the walls of reality by their foe Sabbath (“Time Zero”) that was causing alternate universes to ‘compete’ for the role of the ‘main’ universe, with the Cleansing reality the currently-dominant world. Having learned about the Cleansing’s history from a travelling priest, the five of them returned to Malahyde’s house, where The Doctor learned Malahyde’s version of events, only to be left with further questions as the Utopian Engine was clearly not the time machine Watchlar had claimed it was, matters becoming more confusing when an attempt to examine it sent his companion Anji through a dimensional rift into what was later revealed to be Watchlar’s real dimension. Travelling back to the moment when Malahyde activated the Engine, The Doctor attempted to stop him – aided by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who had coincidentally been visiting Malahyde At the time he was about to activate the Engine and ran into The Doctor at the door of Malahyde’s house -, but only succeeded in turning the Engine off after the Cleansing had taken place. Attempting to avert this timeline, The Doctor and Brunel travelled back to the day when Brunel and Malahyde had first met in the hope of preventing Malahyde being used by Watchlar in the first place, but although they were able to rescue Malahyde’s younger self – simultaneously recovering Anji from Watchlar’s dimension -, The Doctor returned to Earth in ‘2003’ only to find that the Cleansing had still taken place.
Returning to Malahyde’s house, The Doctor determined that the Utopian Engine had been intended to accelerate some dimensions of time and divert the energy from the resulting temporal friction into Watchlar’s dying dimension to save his world while dooming Earth, but The Doctor’s interference during his trip to the past had caused the program to abort before it was finished; while The Doctor had caused the Cleansing, he had been able to prevent it from causing all life on Earth to age to death. Although it appeared that it was now impossible to restore the world that he and his companions knew, when The Doctor linked the Utopian Engine to the TARDIS to shut down the temporal shield around the house, it released Watchlar from the machine and allowed him to possess Aboetta, revealing that Watchlar had hidden in the Utopian Engine to generate the temporal shield. With Watchlar threatening to reactive the Utopian Engine and complete his original work, The Doctor was forced to use the link between the TARDIS and the Utopian Enginge to turn time back to the moment when Watchlar had originally contacted Malahyde, The Doctor arriving in the timeline where he had rescued the past Malahyde from Watchlar while the alternate Brunel died in the future to give them time to escape. Although this feat had also erased the world they’d witnessed in the future, The Doctor was solemnly certain that he had taken the only action available to him to stop Watchlar and his people from destroying Earth completely. Precisely what happened to the Eternines is unknown; given that the Doctor encountered no trace of them since that encounter, it may be that their attempt to contact Earth via Malahyde was a last-ditch effort that deprived them of the last of their power, leaving them without the necessary energy to attempt such a feat again and forcing them to simply accept their now-inevitable extinction.