Hey y’all! I’ve got two new chapters of a Scream of the Shalka fanfic up on AO3: Hold Me Fast. It centers on Alison Cheney, 27-year-old Black British woman with a highly tuned bullshit detector. She’s the companion to an alternative Ninth Doctor, as well as an alternative [and robotic] Master, also aboard the TARDIS. After getting mind-fucked by the Shalka and then a psychic vampire, she feels entirely out of fighting spirit, yet also desperate to regain some semblance of control. Of course this leads her straight to my other favorite Doctor Who character, the Master, in her search for answers.
In this excerpt, though, she’s not there yet. She’s just talking about words and wars and weariness.
So, sine gladio, Alison became a warrior cum verba – with words. She asked where the Black girls were in the mural on her school’s main lobby wall. [Well, you have to understand that it was a different time when it was painted.] She wondered why her history book’s Holocaust chapter had just two lines on pink triangles. [When one is attempting to condense thousands of years into a single volume, one inevitably runs into space constraints.] She wrote stories about people like her. [It was quite clever, but we just didn’t feel that the, erm, political overtones were appropriate for a younger audience.] And she learned, in skirmish after skirmish, that she could fight with all her strength. But so many institutions worked against her, just by the very structure of things. And she was only one person, and sometimes she just wanted to break down weeping in someone’s arms.
That’s always been her deepest dream actually – her deepest dream, as well as her deepest shame. She wants a place where she doesn’t always have to have her sword or her tongue or any of her weapons at the ready. She wants peace in which there is no contest as to whose witticisms will win. She wants a time when there are no right words because silence and stillness are enough. She wants to set aside her power, just for a moment, just for an hour, without worrying that she’s going to be oppugnata or dominata – exploited or overruled.
That’s part of the reason she’s drawn to kinky stuff. If you do it right and respectfully, you can create little islands of satisfaction and safety in a messy, painful, careless world. But it’s so damn hard to do that – to find peace – in any context, kinky or otherwise.
It’s hard, Alison knows, because, if you really want to find the strongest part of you, the source of all your power, you have to let go of something. Maybe it’s the idea that, if you pretend that something doesn’t bother you, then it really, truly is irrelevant, however much the injustice stings. Maybe it’s the belief that someday you’ll be recognized as masterful and incisive, rather than remarkably articulate, but angry. Maybe it’s the notion that you’ve always got to be strong because your mum, your aunts, and your gram are watching, and you can’t let them down because that would be like letting down every woman who’s gone before you. Whatever it is, you’ve got to sacrifice something.
She knows intellectually about the necessity of yielding [the illusion of] control, but she has been trained never to give anything up. She’s going to blame it on the words of war again, but English this time, not Latin. It’s a poem that her dad taught her, William Henley’s Invictus, and its last stanza especially is her ward against weakness, her spell for strength:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll:
I am the master mistress of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus, or, in Alison’s case, invicta for the feminine, is Latin for stalwart, enduring, and, above all, indomitable. Of course, none of those words have any application to her current state, as she’s on a spaceship, God knows how many light-years from home, curled up in the fetal position on her bed, after having been mind-fucked twice by aliens in about four weeks.
Hey I love your blog an your art an I was wondering what or who is the Shalka Doctor? I'm a huge whovian but I've never heard of him
Back in 2003 there was this Flash-animated Doctor Who series that was produced and broadcast on the BBC’s website. It was called Scream of the Shalka, and was written by Paul Cornell (the writer of various DW novels/comics, as well as the more widely known stories from RTD Who, “Father’s Day”, “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”). During the time of its production, the DW series had not yet been revived and the creation of SotS was a way of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original show.
This was the very first story that portrayed a proper (non-spoof) Ninth incarnation of the Doctor. They were voiced by Richard E. Grant (aka Shalka!Doctor, aka REG!Doctor)
However, before the webisodes were even released and made official, there were people behind the scenes trying to convince the BBC to produce a brand new series. Once Russell T. Davies was hired as showrunner and Christopher Eccleston was officially cast as the Ninth Doctor in the revived series, the characters and events of SotS were immediately pushed to the side and are now typically designated as “non-canonical” material (read: separate timeline from New Who).
So yeah. It’s often dismissed because it doesn’t fit with the new series, though imo that is a huge plus, for a variety of reasons (and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy both anyway)
Some additional points:
in this alternate universe, the Doctor and the Master are travelling together in the TARDIS
The Master (voiced by Derek Jacobi - hello! Two for you, Sir Jacobi) inhabits an android body (constructed by the Doctor, with the Master dictating preferences re appearance etc., naturally) because his physical body was destroyed in events that occurred prior to the story. He is literally unable to leave the TARDIS (for reasons that are not quite clear) but despite the unstable and complicated history between the himself and the Doctor, they’ve evidently been together long enough to have gotten to the point where they’ve reached an understanding and get along well. Descriptions of the TARDIS interior (in the novelisation) indicate that they’ve made it a shared home for both of them
Alison Cheney, the primary human character, is voiced by Sophie Okonedo. She is awesome x100000
David Tennant has a very small (uncredited) role in the animation as a caretaker, because when the audio for the animation was being recorded, he was in a nearby studio recording a radio play. When he heard about it, he managed to convince the director to give him a minor part (aw)
RTD is quite harsh about REG’s performance in SotS but he thought the story itself was excellent
Paul Cornell wrote a novelised version of SotS which was published in 2004. If you’re going to pick between either reading the book or watching the animation, read the book.
Cornell unambiguously states in his notes that the Doctor is asexual (thank you Paul)
The Doctor thought for a moment, glancing between the soldier and the alien. Then he decided. “Keep an eye on it for a moment, eh? I’m just popping out to do…” And then he realised he had no excuse at all. Might this chap think he might wish to use the bathroom? No, he thought, let us not, as they say, go there. Besides, he had already used the word ‘do’ and he had no intention of finishing his sentence on that basis. “…Something eccentric!” he finally said.
‘Scream of the Shalka’ by Paul Cornell
Let’s not go there? About bathroom visits? Doctor, are you saying something about Gallifreyan bodily waste disposal?
*laughter and still chuckling the Doctor says* “You’ve reached the good ship TARDIS. We are all busy at the moment. *chuckles on* "Leave a message after the peep and we will try to get back to you before your call.”*still laughing and obviously to the Master* “Stop that!”
“He really should change that message” comments the Master
__________________________________________________________ Now I understand why is this so legendary for the Doctor/Master shippers !
When you hear this, there is no doubt what they were doing after the record was taped…