GALLIFREY. A VERY LONG TIME AGO…
“What kind of idiot would steal a faulty TARDIS?”
The First Doctor and Susan bustle into the TARDIS – but there’s someone behind them. “Sorry,” the figure says. “But you’re about to make a very big mistake.” She’s Clara Oswald, and she was born to save the Doctor.
I don’t know where I am. It’s like I’m breaking into a million pieces and there’s only one thing I remember. I have to save the Doctor. He always looks different – A flash of a colourful jacket and then a scarf – But I always know it’s him. Sometimes I think I’m everywhere at once, running every second just to find him – the Seventh Doctor dangles from a cliff on Iceworld – Just to save him – Bessie speeds past, the Third Doctor at the helm – a ponce in a frock coat and a clown in a fur coat – the Fifth Doctor floats in a reactor chamber, his image shimmering – But he never hears me – Victorian London – Almost never. I blew into this world on a leaf – Dave Oswald stumbles into the road – only to be saved by Ellie – I’m still blowing. I don’t think I’ll ever land. I’m Clara Oswald. I’m the Impossible Girl. I was born to save the Doctor.
Madame Vastra visits Clarence DeMarco, a doomed man, haunted by the whispers in the babble of the world. The blood of 14 women is on his hands. Yet there’s still something that can save him from the rope: “The Doctor. The Doctor has a secret, y’know. He has one he will take to the grave. And it is discovered.”
Vastra calls a conference.
– The trap is set for the Doctor’s friends/ They’ll travel where the Doctor ends. –
Strax is in Glasgow, in the middle of destroying some very pleasant primitives, when he’s handed Vastra’s urgent message. “Sorry, Archie,” he tells his opponent. “I’m going to have to ask you to render me unconscious.”
THE MAITLAND HOME, 2013.
Clara is busy making her Mum’s soufflé. “How can it be your mum’s soufflé if you’re making it?” asks Artie. “Because, Artie,” she replies, “it’s like my mum always said: the soufflé isn’t the soufflé, the soufflé is the recipe.”But she’s interrupted by Vastra’s important message:
My dearest Clara,
The Doctor entrusted me with your contact details in the event of an emergency, and I fear one has now arisen. Assuming this letter will have reached you as planned, on April 10th, 2013, please find and light the enclosed candle. It will release a soporific which will induce a trance state, enabling direct communication across the years. However, as I realise you have no reason to trust this letter, I have taken the liberty of embedding the same soporific into the fabric of the paper you are now holding. Speak soon.
Clara falls to the floor –
– And into the conference call. She’s surrounded by Vastra, Jenny and Strax, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background. They all sit comfortably around a table, drinking tea drawn from one of the Silurian’s favourite memories. “Time travel has always been possible in dreams,” Vastra explains.
And then Professor River Song arrives.
After introductions, they get down to business: DeMarco has exchanged space-time co-ordinates for his life. The location of the Doctor’s greatest secret. Clara asks what this secret is – but no one knows. It’s a secret. And if she’s still entertaining the notion that she is the exception that proves the rule… What is the Doctor’s name?
“I know it,” River tells them.
Vastra says that there was one word that saved DeMarco’s life: Trenzalore. She replays exactly what DeMarco told her and River realises their misunderstanding. But too late. Jenny feels something; almost as if someone were passing over her grave. It suddenly dawns on her: she forgot to lock the doors before falling into this dream state. “Someone’s broken in. Someone’s with us. I can hear them.”
A tear rolls down her cheek. “I think I’ve been murdered.” And she fades away.
Under attack, Vastra and Strax wake up, and are surrounded by Whisper Men, strange creatures in Victorian garb and ashy-white faces, like cloth stretched over a skull.
– Tell the Doctor. Tell the Doctor. Tell the Doctor –
They infiltrate the conference call as well, only River and Clara there. “Tell him what?!” River yells. And the Great Intelligence appears.
“His friends are lost forever more/ Unless he goes to Trenzalore.”
And then Clara wakes up.
The Doctor is there, supposed to be looking after Angie and Artie… who have eluded him and are now at the cinema. He looks at his impossible girl; she’s sombre, confused, scared. “What’s wrong?”
She tells him about the conference call; about Clarence; about the Whisper Men; about Jenny and Vastra and Strax and River; about the Great Intelligence; and about Trenzalore.
They go to the TARDIS and the Doctor extracts the time-space co-ordinates from Clara’s memory. He knows what Trenzalore is, of course: the one place he must never go. “The Doctor has a secret, y’know. He has one he will take to the grave. And it is discovered.” Clarence wasn’t talking about his secret being discovered. He was talking about the Doctor’s grave.
But he has to go there: he has to save the Paternoster Gang.
Vworp! Vworp! Vworp! Vwo-orp-orp-orp!
The TARDIS dematerialises but then realises where they’re heading. The console blows up and the whole ship shuts down, orbiting the war-stricken planet of Trenzalore. “So that’s where I end up,” the Doctor says, mournfully, opening the TARDIS doors to have a look at his final resting place.
He turns off the ship’s anti-gravs – and the TARDIS plummets towards the planet.
It crash lands in a battlefield graveyard, the collision having cracked one of its exterior windows. They then spot another TARDIS. It’s the Doctor’s TARDIS – of the future. “What else would they bury me in?” he says, rhetorically. “When a TARDIS is dying, sometimes the dimension dams start breaking down. They used to call it a size leak. All the bigger on the inside starts leaking to the outside. It grows.”
Clara then sees River. “Don’t speak; don’t say my name,” River explains. “He can’t see or hear me. Only you can. We’re mentally linked. It’s the conference call. I kept the line open.”
– This man must fall, as all men must/ The fate of all is always dust. –
The Whisper Men are there! They approach the time travellers, just as the Doctor notices another gravestone: River’s. Thanks to the professor prompting her, Clara convinces the Doctor that River can’t be buried here. It’s a false grave; a secret entrance to the tomb!
“Yes, of course!” the Doctor yells, pressing his sonic screwdriver to the stone. “Makes sense. They’d never bury my wife out here!”
And the ground gives way beneath them.
– The man who lies will lie no more/ When this man lies at Trenzalore. –
TO BE CONTINUED…