Episode 4: The Unwelcome Child

The TARDIS lands on Alpha Centauri IV, known as Ixion by its inhabitants, the native Cygni. The year (Earth Era) is 5007. The Artist explains to his companions that the natives on this world are silicon-based, crystalline life forms, though very similar to humans in form. They have a shared empathic bond throughout their entire race, which has allowed them to live in peace and harmony for over a thousand years.

The crew emerge from the ship into what appears to be a startlingly mundane office. The designs of the art, furniture and decorations are futuristic and alien to their eyes, but still the place is entirely recognizable. They all take note that the TARDIS appears to have taken the form of an abstract alien sculpture (and the Artist notes that it's of a passe style).

Suddenly, in dashes a beautiful humanoid woman, though she appears to be made entirely of bluish crystal. She sees the Cast, stops dead in her tracks, then focuses on the Artist, and a smile beams across her face. She rushes to him, sweeps him up in her arms, and cries, "It's so nice to see you! It's been so long!"

Don says to James, "You know this is the first alien we've encountered that doesn't want to kill him!"

The alien, who the Artist introduces as Shala (pronounced SHALE-uh), says, "Why would we want to kill him? It's thanks to him that the Daleks didn't destroy our world during the Great War! And let me just say that it is an absolute THRILL to actually meet human beings face-to-face! You're going to be such celebrities here!"

After a brief getting-to-know-you discussion during which Shala pieces together that the Cast is actually from Earth of the past, she says to the Artist, "you've arrived just in time for the rise of the Unwelcome Child."

"Splendid!" the Artist replies, and turns to the Cast. "Wait until you see this."

Shala explains to the Cast that the Unwelcome Child is a natural phenomenon that occurs once a month and is lovely to behold, but that upsets the balance of the racial empathic bond, as it causes a very small percentage of the populace to experience violent and psychotic tendencies. To minimize damage, these unfortunates voluntarily submit to incarceration in a sanatorium for the 64 hours (two Ixion days) that the Unwelcome Child visits.

Snide comments are made about how that happens to women on Earth, much to Emilie's irritation.

Shala leads the Cast out onto a veranda, where they look on as a red dwarf star explodes over the horizon, painting the entire sky blood red. The Cast is awestruck. For a moment, Shala looks off-balance and disturbed, then shakes it off and seems normal again. The Artist, too, looks wistful and sad, but in a different way. When the Cast asks him what's wrong, he simply says, "Nothing. I'm fine."

Shala then turns to the Artist and says, "I hate to impose upon you, when you've just come for a visit, but may I speak with you? Your friends are welcome to come along, too, if they'd like. In fact, it might be best if they do."

The Cast accompanies Shala to a lounge that appears to be made entirely of glass, giving the impression of walking on air. When they sit in what at first appear to be marble benches, the seats immediately become cushioned and mold themselves perfectly to the Cast's bodies. The Artist promises to get the Cast some before they leave.

Shala looks out the window, diamond-like tears forming and dripping down her cheeks as she explains that the violent tendencies amongst their people have gotten worse in recent months, and that a new "religion" has arisen, calling themselves the Sect of the Red Queen. This religion seems to worship the Unwelcome Child, and revels in the base, violent tendencies it represents. Some of them have withdrawn themselves from the emotional bond shared by the Cygni, and others have used the bond to poison still more minds to their cause. They have begun sacrificing people to their false god once a month, leaving the bodies in the town forum, exsanguinated apparently from having their throats slashed. Still more recently, the sect has targeted government officials, leaving Shala (a councilor in the Matriarchy) afraid for her own life, as well as for the safety of their world.

The Artist, of course, pledges his help, and the Cast go to check out the town Forum.

As they search the area, finding little more than a small pool of blue, dried Cygni blood, the Artist notices a young man running from the sanatorium towards the council chambers. He gives chase, the Cast in tow. When the Artist calls out for him to stop, he looks behind him, sees human beings, and practically falls over his own two feet in awe, but quickly recovers and says, "I just don't have time right now!" then continues on his way, bursting into the Council building and screaming, "Mistress! Someone! Help!"

Shala comes down the stairs and the young man explains that there has been a breakout; all of the convalescents in the Unwelcome Child wing of the sanatorium have burst their doors and escaped. Shala says she will call together the council and get the military mobilized, and asks that the young man, an orderly at the hospital, take the Cast to see the damage.

At the scene, they find the doors to the cells blasted off their hinges, and the staff murdered by what the Artist declares were sonic blasters, an illegal and dangerous form of weapon. Emilie uses her psychic abilities to determine that the terrorists broke in, slaughtered everyone, freed and armed the convalescents, then escaped down a service tunnel under the Forum.

Time Lords being the reckless species they are, the Artist plunges headlong down the service tunnel and the Cast finds themselves beneath the city, where they are quickly captured and taken prisoner by the Sect of the Red Queen, who reveal that they know more than they well should when they remove the Artist's sonic screwdriver without even needing to search him. Likewise, they frisk the rest of the Cast and find Chuck's sonic screwdriver. They bind the Cast and march them to a room, where the Artist is strapped to a chair and an oddly emotionless Cygni orders them bring a silver circlet referred to as "The Crown". When the Artist sees the circlet, he panics and begins screaming and flailing around as the rest of the Cast are dragged from the room*.

The Cast are locked in a cell with two Cygni guards left nearby. The Cast manage to escape their bonds, but seem trapped in the cell while the Artist is being tortured outside. They notice that one of the Cygni guards, who seems completely emotionless, has a subtly flashing LED on his hip, a sign that is disturbingly familiar to the Cast.

Meanwhile, outside, the Artist's torture goes on, while a Cygni whispers in his ear that all he has to do is "Join her. Beg her to make it stop, beg her forgiveness, and it will all go away."

The Artist manages to rebuff the temptation, and demands to know who "she" is. The response is, "The Red Queen, the Empire Builder, She who turns the Red Sun to the Black Void. Her. The Other."

Then the crown is unceremoniously removed, launching the Artist back to the real world, and sending him crashing to the floor, unable to stand, move, or think straight. His captors inform him, "She has what she needs, and has told you what she will. When she is ready, you will find one another."

He's then dragged off to what appears to be a temple room.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...er, cell...

The Cast is trying to come up with an escape route, when James hears, very faintly, the sound of a sonic screwdriver and the LED on the "Cygni's" hip explodes as he falls backwards, screeching and writhing in pain, leaving behind not a Cygni, but a very dead drosmian. Then, a gorgeous Cygni woman wearing a flowing cape seems to step out of the wall, overcomes the Cygni guard by whipping her cloak around him, then removing it, leaving him looking utterly disoriented, and hitting him with a palm strike to the throat. Then she rushes to the cell, looking extremely paranoid, her eyes darting back and fourth, her head swiveling near-madly, and whispers, "I don't have much time. If I get you out of here, can you help your friend?"

The Cast says, "absolutely."

She kneels down to study the lock, and they hear the sound of a sonic screwdriver again, but do not see one. The lock clicks, and the door opens. Then she tells Chuck, "The sonic screwdrivers are locked in a golden box in the main temple chamber." She turns to the Cast. "The psychic collection matrix is there as well. You have to help him destroy it. I need to go get word to the authorities. Good luck."

She gives them quick directions to the temple complex, and then...is gone.

The Cast grabs the sonic blasters from the dead guards, and heads towards the chamber. They fight their way past seven Cygni cultists, gaining more sonic blasters in the process, and eventually find their way to the temple chamber, where the Artist is being held and laughing maniacally. Across the room, they see an enormous machine that looks like it was constructed from a TARDIS control panel, except that the pulsing heart is blood red instead of blue, and it's covered with tiny radar-dish-like protrusions. Emilie and the Artist sense that it's both collecting and emitting psychic energy. The Cast also targets five Drosmians hiding amongst the Cygni.

The battle is joined, but when the Cast takes out the Drosmian network, revealing them for what they are, the Cygni are confused, allowing the heroes an opening. They run for the machine, blasting Drosmians as they go. Chuck obtains the sonic screwdrivers. Emilie is shot and downed, but Davan manages to stabilize her. The Artist begins collecting sonic blasters and jamming them into the machine, then, with the help of Chuck, uses the sonic screwdrivers to network them together while yelling, "Run for your lives!"

Don and James take out three of the five Drosmians; the other two trans-mat away.

The Cast runs, along with the very confused Cygni, out of the room. The Artist and Chuck stop at the doorway, extend their sonic screwdrivers, and activate them, blowing the machine sky high. All of the affected Cygni suddenly seem completely disoriented and lost.

That's when the Cast hears what sounds like a TARDIS, though higher-pitched and whinier than the Artist's. The Artist recognizes the sound as a different model of TARDIS de-materializing. He runs back to the temple chamber to find the words, "We shall meet again," emblazoned upon the walls.

The authorities are waiting to take the Sect members into custody, and Shala arrives with them, saying the Matriarchy got an anonymous tip. When the Cast asks her about the cloaked woman, she is confused; she's never heard of a Cygni wearing a cape and knows no one meeting that description.

The Cast spends a few days on Ixion, the first humans to visit the world and hailed as heroes and celebrities. At the end of their visit, James suggests they head off to Woodstock, which everyone is agreeable to. The Artist activates the TARDIS, and off they go...except that when it lands, he notices that the heart is no longer beating, which he says is a very bad thing. He tells the Cast, "Wait here," and steps outside to find himself on a barren, dead world with a sickly green sky. His heart sinks, and he re-enters the ship.

"We have a serious problem," he says.

"Where are we?" is the question that comes back at him.

"We're on Skaro. The home planet of the Daleks."

* The Circlet is an illegal form of Gallifreyan tech called a Crown of Thorns, which creates a virtual Hell for the victim, constructed of all the past traumas they've ever experienced. With the proper psychic collection matrix, it can also be used to implant or withdrawal memories and information from the victim through the torture it imparts.

The Crown of Thorns

Memorable Quotes

The Artist: "They're big and blue and crystalline."
James: "Sounds like the Blue Man Group!"

Chuck: "Is there anything else we should know before we walk out there?"
The Artist: "Yes, but it's easier to show you as we go along than to explain. So come along!"
Don: "Whoa! Hold on a second...does this require a helmet?"

The Artist: "Some of the Cygni get a little... violent once a month."
Emilie: "Sounds familiar."
James: "Sounds like my exgirlfriend."

Emily: "Keep laughing, Chuck. You just wait until my 'Unwelcome Child' comes to visit."

The Artist: "If you want, I can look into getting a few of those chairs before we leave."
Don: "I'd like that."
James: "Put seatbelts on them."

Emily: "Do you want me to get 'I'm Psychic' tattooed on my forehead?"
The Artist: "...Yes."

The Artist: "We come in peace?"

Emilie: "I'm like a Bond Girl!"

Chuck: "Drosmians... Not to be confused with Bosnians."

Chronicler: "The Sonic Screwdriver doesn't shut off the machine. But you do hear a loud, high-pitched beeping coming from the sonic blaster in your other hand. It's getting louder...and faster...and louder...and faster."
Daryl (Chuck's player): "I'll toss the gun far away...where there are no people...I hope."

The Artist: "It doesn't work that way, Chuck. Build your own time machine!"

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