1st Doctor
Mother Russia
by Marc Platt

Cover Blurb
5.Mother Russia
Written by Marc Platt
Directed by Nigel Fairs
Sound Design and Music by David Darlington

It's 1812 and the Doctor, Steven and Dodo get ready to spend their winter in a Russian village. The French are on their way, but that's not the only invasion the travellers will have to deal with.
  • Read by Peter Purves as Steven Taylor and featuring Tony Milan as The Interrogator.

    Time-Placement: Steven mentions just having had a holiday in Tombstone and performing ‘The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon‘, so this story must come between The Gunfighters and The Savages.

  • Released: October 2007
    ISBN: 978 1 84435 290 6
Episode One
(drn: 33'36")

For some reason, the man interrogating Steven Taylor kept insisting that Steven was an impostor and that he was the real Steven. The Interrogator’s eyes changed from brown to grey and then to black as Steven recalled his most recent adventure with the Doctor - in particular, he remembered the flames as the city burned closer and the angry mob baying for blood. Steven‘s whole life flashed before his eyes in a single second…and then he couldn’t remember anything any more. The Interrogator encouraged him to take his time and assured him it would come back…

Dodo knew the TARDIS had landed on Earth because she recognised its familiar smell, even in the wrong time and in the wrong country. The Doctor was certain they’d arrived in England, but when Dodo pointed to some black squirrels in the forest, he blamed the ship’s navigators for the error. Nevertheless, the Doctor said they’d had far too much excitement lately and this seemed the ideal place for a proper holiday.

Steven let the peace and quiet set in before chasing after the Doctor and Dodo. It was Spring and the woods where they’d left the TARDIS felt fresh and new. They soon reached a village of wooden houses and the local Russian serfs made them welcome and provided them with copious amounts of cabbage soup and pickled mushrooms. The villagers were eager to hear of their travels and asked if they’d seen the Tsar or Napoleon? They were worried that the French were planning to invade and the Doctor realised the year was 1812. However, they were 50 miles from Moscow so he was sure they’d be safe.

The land was tied to the estate of Count Gregori Nikitin, so the Doctor, Steven and Dodo decided to visit him. The Count and his family seemed equally delighted to welcome them to their home and they asked much the same questions regarding Napoleon.

The Interrogator accused Steven of insinuating himself into local society with a tissue of lies. Steven pointed out that at least they didn’t steal or kill, but the Interrogator argued that for some people that was a matter of survival.

It didn’t take them long to fit in and by the end of dinner, the Doctor had been offered the post of tutor to the Count’s young son Alexi and Dodo was hired as a companion to his ten-year old daughter Olga. Steven felt at a bit of a loose end, but the Doctor told him to relax and just enjoy himself, so he spent his time walking and reading. He even took up fishing and spent weeks sitting on the riverbank idling the time away. He became friends with Glasha, one of the local girls, and Semian Borisovitch Stazoff, a forester who taught him how to hunt. Every day they would walk through the forest and Steven learned much about the local wildlife, including the wolves and brown bears. It was so different to his life in the towering city complex where he grew up.

The Doctor was pleased Steven was settling in well, but told him not to get too comfortable. Dodo believed the Doctor was disappointed to be so close to Moscow during such a historic year and not get the chance to see it as it was once was. Dodo admitted she was enjoying herself here, but she said she didn’t want to stay forever as it was too quiet. Steven disagreed, but deep down, he knew it couldn’t last. The next day, Steven and Semian stumbled across the TARDIS in the forest where it was gathering moss. Semian revealed that some of the villagers believed the Doctor was a magician who kept his soul inside the box. Semian was due to marry Glasha soon and he asked Steven to be his best man.

The Interrogator told Steven that Semian was an important man whose knowledge of the land was in his blood. He knew this because he’d tasted it. Steven refused to react, so the Interrogator asked him about the wedding. Steven struggled to remember what happened, but he did recall that Russian weddings were very complicated and were full of rituals that lasted for three days.

With the threat of invasion over their heads, Count Nikitin had sent 30 of his serfs to join the local regiment and he even suggested Steven join up as well until the Doctor insisted he needed him as his secretary. The Doctor had reconsidered their position and decided it wasn’t safe for them to stay here after all, but he and Dodo agreed not to say anything to Steven until after the wedding.

On the first night of the wedding, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo stayed at the home of Glasha’s family, with the bride’s party in one room preparing the dresses while the groom’s party stayed in the next room getting drunk. Dodo wanted to join the men, but the Doctor told her off for being such a tomboy. Suddenly, one of the old village babushkas burst in and said there were strange lights in the sky. High above the trees, the sky was full of explosions. The serfs thought the invasion had arrived and they all fell to their knees, but the Doctor realised it was actually a space battle taking place above the atmosphere. There was a blinding flash as one of the ships was damaged and Steven saw an object spinning across the sky before crashing to earth, just north of the village. Semian wanted to investigate but everyone else was too afraid, so Steven went with him into the dark forest.

Steven and Semian followed the glow that flickered from the crashed ship and found a half shattered escape pod buried in a small crater. They could see damaged instruments inside, including a weird medical set up that suggested the pilot must have been wired into the ship itself. Although there was no sign of the occupant, they found some unusual tracks which Semian said weren’t made by any man or animal he knew. Semian went ahead and Steven soon lost sight of him in the trees. Suddenly the massive shape of a huge bear reared up at Steven out of the gloom and as it stared into his eyes, it spoke to him with a deep voice. Then with one swipe of its claw it knocked Steven unconscious.

Steven woke up to the sound of gunfire and explosions in the distance. He didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the Battle of Borodino, where the French lost 35,000 soldiers and the Russians lost 45,000. He saw torchlight approaching and heard the voices of the Doctor and Dodo. They carried him back to the house, and although he wasn’t badly injured, his mind felt like it had been turned inside out by the bear‘s eyes. Semian hadn’t returned and Glasha had locked herself away and was refusing to see anyone. With the alien still out there, Steven was determined to go back to look for his friend, but word soon arrived that Semian had turned up in the village.

Steven found Semian standing in the road with the other serfs keeping their distance and Steven noticed his clothes were torn, as if they no longer fitted him. Glasha arrived, still in her wedding dress, but Semian didn’t seem to know her. He announced that this wasn’t his home and then charged towards Steven, as if to attack him. The Doctor fended him off with his walking stick, then asked him what he’d found in the crashed ship. Semian’s eyes seemed to change colour to jet black. He identified the Doctor as a scientist and accused all scientists of treating others as mere specimens. Steven asked Semian if he’d been attacked by the bear, but the forester said the bear was just the start. Glasha’s mother pushed her way through the crowd and threw a cup of holy water in his face, telling the other villagers he was cursed. Several of the men grabbed him and threatened to string him up, but instead of struggling, he just looked at them with contempt. As the Doctor sent Dodo to fetch Count Nikitin, Glasha’s mother turned on him too, accusing him of bringing magic to their town. Then the crowd turned against then and accused them of being spies for the French.

As things began to turn ugly, Semian was dragged away, but then a convoy of carts laden with sacks appeared on the road with men, women and children trudging wearily alongside. Word soon got around that these people had fled their homes because the French invaders were coming! Napoleon had won at Borodino and with the Russian forces in retreat, his army was now marching on Moscow. Unfortunately this village was right in its path. The Doctor admitted to Steven that he and Dodo had always known this was going to happen, but they‘d decided to keep the information from him.

The Interrogator mocked Steven - just when he thought he’d found somewhere that he belonged, it was taken away from him. Steven didn’t know whether he was referring to the village or the TARDIS, but the Interrogator said life is always a disappointment, no matter what you decide.

The Doctor was determined to find Semian to ask him if he’d seen the alien. The refugees had moved on, but now the villagers themselves were in a panic. Dodo returned with Count Nikitin, who announced that his family were heading for Moscow and that the Doctor’s group should be ready to leave within the hour. The Doctor warned him that the French were heading there too and he advised the Count to stay out of their way as the invasion wouldn‘t last long. Suddenly they noticed some of the village buildings were on fire - the serfs had gone crazy and were trying to prevent the French getting hold of their homes and possessions by burning everything. The Count regarded the villagers with disdain and rode off back towards his house. The Doctor tried to persuade the serfs to stop what they were doing, but to no avail. Steven’s priority was to track down the alien invader so he found Glasha and asked if she knew where Semian was, but the bride’s mother refused to let her speak to them. Before she was dragged away, Glasha told them Semian had been taken to the Ice House and he would be put on trial tomorrow.

Steven knew of the Ice House - a well that had been cut deep into the rocks nearby so that ice blocks could be stored for the Summer months. The Doctor, Steven and Dodo went there but found the doors were locked and no one was around. Steven smashed the lock and they entered the dark cold tunnel inside. Semian lay shivering on the floor and the Doctor suspected he had hypothermia. They lifted him out and saw that his skin and hair had turned white, which reminded Dodo of animals who change their fur with the seasons. The Doctor asked Steven and Dodo to fetch the medical appliance from the crashed spaceship while he took Semian to the TARDIS.

Steven and Dodo removed the equipment from the crashed escape pod, but then Dodo spotted a human foot protruding from under a bush. It was the dead body of Semian Borisovitch Stazoff. His neck had been twisted violently and his clothes had been removed. It was clear the person they thought to be Semian was an impostor. Steven and Dodo raced through the woods and reached the TARDIS quickly, but the doors were locked and the Doctor wouldn’t answer their calls. Then they heard the engines starting and the ship began to dematerialise…

Episode Two
(drn: 34'05")

Steven told the Interrogator he couldn’t avoid reality forever, but the man said they’d be busy for quite a while as they had the whole of Steven’s life to get through. Steven suspected the Interrogator was scared of stepping back into the present, but the man said he should be too. The Interrogator demanded to know who the Doctor was, and warned that he wouldn’t accept ’scientist’ as an answer because he regarded scientists as cold, analytical wolves. He told Steven he’d already tried to tease the Doctor apart to find out how he worked, but it was like walking blindfold through a maze. Steven continued with his story…

The ghostly image of the TARDIS remained in the air for some time and then there was a strange lurch in reality and the ship returned to its solid form. Inside, the Doctor looked pale and weak and the furniture had been overturned as if there’d been a struggle. He told Steven and Dodo that Semian had became violent, but Steven told him the real Semian was dead, so it must have the survivor from the alien ship. Dodo asked the Doctor why he tried to leave in the TARDIS and he apologised for his confused behaviour. He checked that they’d brought the medical equipment from the escape pod and said it was time they were gone, but Steven refused to leave while a murdering alien was on the loose outside. The Doctor ignored him and asked his companions to set the controls, but when Dodo told him they didn’t know how to work the ship his eyes flickered with rage. Steven was angry with the Doctor, so he picked up the alien equipment and stormed out the TARDIS.

Steven ran back to the village and found the place deserted, with many of the buildings burned to the ground. He hid the medical equipment as he heard the rumble of carts and marching footsteps approaching. He ducked for cover as an entire army moved past, stretching as far as he could see. It was the infantry and cavalry of the French Army, followed by line after line of artillery. Dodo appeared and urged Steven to bring the medical kit back to the TARDIS. Steven said he still wanted to track down Semian’s murderer, but Dodo told him to forget about that and think about Moscow. A group of older soldiers, including Generals, appeared at the back of the marching army and Steven recognised one particular officer from his history lessons - it was Napoleon Bonaparte. Dodo’s voice took on a hint of darkening menace, and then something struck Steven from behind and he was knocked unconscious.

When Steven came round he found himself being looked after by Glasha, who said she’d found him in the woods. There was no sign of Dodo and Steven feared she must have been taken by the soldiers. Glasha hadn’t seen Dodo, but she says she saw the Doctor step out in front of the soldiers. She couldn’t hear what he said, but they were all laughing like old friends, especially the General with the big hat who was in charge. After the Doctor spoke to the soldiers, a platoon was sent into the woods and they came out carrying the big blue box and carried it away with them. The soldiers found the Doctor a horse and he rode alongside Napoleon. Glasha said this all happened yesterday and the army had long since gone. Glasha asked Steven if he’d found Semian, but he didn’t answer. As he was leaving, Glasha’s mother whispered to him that she’d found Semian’s body and she was pleased that someone had made him pay for what he’d done, although she said she’d never reveal the truth to her daughter. Steven left in despair.

Steven discovered that the medical kit he’d hidden earlier had disappeared. Glasha provided him with Semian’s horse and gave him some food for his journey. Then Steven headed off in the direction of Moscow. For two days he rode at full speed, worried about the Doctor and Dodo and wondering what had happened to the alien. Every village he passed through had been burned to the ground, no doubt by their own people before the French army arrived. There was no evidence of fighting as the Russians were already weakened by the events at Borodino. No one was there to defend Moscow and the holy city had been abandoned, ready for Napoleon’s army to just walk in.

Steven eventually arrived on the outskirts of Moscow and admired the spires, cathedrals and palaces from a distance. Already a column of smoke was billowing up from the east of the city. The gates were shut, but Steven had no problem getting inside as the soldiers were only stopping people from leaving. The streets were under French martial law with a strict curfew, but the soldiers were so busy with their looting, it was easy for him to slip past them. Steven knew the Doctor was likely to be inside the walled Kremlin so he didn’t waste time going there. He told the drunken office in charge that he had information for the Emperor and he was allowed in. As he was escorted through the square, he saw the TARDIS parked on the steps of a great palace.

Steven was eventually taken to a great chamber overlooking the grounds where a cluster of generals and officers were examining reports and dispatches around a large table. Napoleon, in full uniform, sat at the head of the table, listening to the Doctor‘s advice on how to handle the occupation. The Doctor told Napoleon he should summon the Governor of Moscow and get him to sign a formal surrender, then he should demand the same from the Tsar so the whole of Russia would be handed over to France. As Steven was brought over, the Doctor looked at him and Steven saw a glimmer of anger and terror in his eyes. Steven was worried he may have upset one of the Doctor’s schemes, but when he claimed to be an old friend, the Doctor denied this and accused Steven of following him around like an unwanted dog.

Steven asked to speak to the Doctor alone and Napoleon dismissed the other officers, but remained there himself with his personal guards. The Doctor and Steven began to argue and Steven felt utterly betrayed when the Doctor accused him of sympathising with the Russians and of coming here to assassinate Napoleon. As Steven protested, he was grabbed by the guards and, in the confusion, he made the mistake of referring to Napoleon as a tyrant. Napoleon said he owed the Doctor a great debt for helping them find a safe route into Moscow and then the Doctor revealed that his plan was to make Napoleon the Emperor of the whole world. Napoleon ordered Steven to be taken out and shot. Steven was bundled outside where a group of soldiers were lounging around. An execution squad was quickly assembled and a row of rifle barrels were pointed in his direction.

Steven became confused as he knew the story couldn’t have ended like this. The Interrogator demanded that he remember more…

Just as the soldiers were about to fire, the Doctor’s voice called out and ordered them to stop, claiming that the Emperor had changed his mind. Dodo joined them and Steven accused both his friends of abandoning him. The Doctor asked the guards to take them back to the Emperor and as they were walking, he explained to Steven that the alien from the crashed ship was a shape thief who’d killed Semian and taken his shape.

The group returned to the chamber where Napoleon was still standing next to the Doctor. The real Doctor introduced himself to Napoleon, who then stared at both Doctors in utter confusion. The false Doctor accused the newcomer of being a devil in disguise, but the real Doctor explained how he was able to escape from the impostor’s knots and said his charade was at an end.

The Interrogator told Steven he hated being called a thief, but Steven insisted that’s what he was. The Doctor had said he was infinitely adaptable and in any given environment he would evolve into the ideal lifeform. The Interrogator said that being inside the TARDIS was better than any primal world, and in such a technologically superior place, what else could he become than the Doctor?

The two Doctors accused each other of being an impostor and they both circled around the room. The guards just stood and stared until Napoleon took charge and pointed to the false Doctor and said he’d been with him all the time. The real Doctor asked Napoleon if he genuinely believed the other Doctor’s assurances that he would win the war and as Napoleon looked closely at the two men, he noticed something strange in the false Doctor’s eyes and he finally realised the truth.

The fake Doctor grabbed Napoleon and held a knife to his throat. Then suddenly a bell started ringing and people shouted out that there was a fire. Everyone panicked and Napoleon staggered over to the window to see the sky alight with flame. The fake Doctor escaped and the others chased after him, out into the grounds. Steven caught up with the impostor by the TARDIS door and forced his way in, with the real Doctor and Dodo close behind him. The alien was already at the console, operating the flight controls - but the TARDIS just shuddered and refused to respond. The real Doctor told the impostor that his ship wouldn’t recognise him. The alien may have been able to copy him in detail, even down to his brain pattern and genetic codes, but it was still nothing more than an impersonation and the TARDIS would never be fooled.

The fake Doctor revealed that he’d been made by scientists, the ones he hated so much. He clutched the medical kit to his chest and explained that he was the ultimate infiltration unit, designed to fit in anywhere. He’d been programmed to go straight to the top person…and kill them.

The Interrogator couldn’t remember when he was last himself. Perhaps there wasn’t any real person left at all now. He remembered the scientists sitting in their laboratories, coldly analysing his genetic performance and he remembered destroying them and running away. He regarded himself as a spy, not a murderer, and said the death of Semian was an accident. He’d taken the form of the bear in the forest, but he didn’t know his own strength. Steven pointed out that the Doctor offered to help and give him a new life away from Earth, but the alien turned him down. The Interrogator said he couldn’t escape his nature, so rather than trust a scientist, he had another plan in mind…

The alien changed his shape again and right in front of the Doctor, Steven and Dodo, he evolved into Napoleon Bonaparte. The Doctor pointed out that Napoleon was destined to lose the war, but the alien said he’d still have the rest of Napoleon’s empire. He ran out of the TARDIS and returned to the palace, desperate to find the real Emperor. From the window, he saw Moscow burning as once again, the Russian people had elected to burn their own homes rather than allow the French to take them. The real Napoleon had already left, taking his army with him. The alien returned to the streets and straight into the path of the angry Russian mob, now determined to see off any remaining soldiers. Before Steven and the others could intervene, the mob lifted the alien high above their heads and carried him away.

For some reason, the man interrogating Steven Taylor kept insisting Steven was an impostor and that he was the real Steven. The story turned in Steven’s head, like the whole of his life flashing before him, and for a moment he couldn’t even be sure that it wasn’t Steven Taylor who was being carried away by the mob. But the Interrogator didn’t want his final performance to be taken away from him…

The crowd disappeared into the smoke and there was nothing Steven or the others could do. They hurried back to the Kremlin and watched the city burn. The last of the French invaders were leaving, but Steven knew they wouldn’t get far as the Russian winter was coming. Right on cue, the first flakes of snow started to descend through the smoke…

Source: Lee Rogers

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