Monday, 5 May 2014

The Armageddon Chrysalis

"There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought."

This interesting story alternates showing the Doctor's point of view with a first person narration by the evil monster Voorvolika, with his bits in bold to emphasise how scary and powerful he is. Cthulhu says that Voorvolika is one of his friends.

The Armageddon Chrysalis begins with the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan already in peril, having been knocked out by Voorvolika before they even had a chance to leave the Tardis. It is as if Voorvolika was so keen to nom them that he couldn't even wait for the story to start before capturing the Tardis.

The Doctor wakes up and only has time to discover that the Tardis is very low on energy before he falls unconscious again. Then it is time for Voorvolika's first paragraph.
The thing had been given many names, but men called it Voor-volika. Those who had seen it had compared it with a vision of hell. Voorvolika meant evil. Those who had seen it and felt its touch had died. Voorvolika knew that some were feeling its touch now. A tiny thing called Tardis. Living beings whose names would come to it soon. Energy. Voor-volika was hungry. Voorvolika was feeding.

The Doctor wakes up again and this time Tegan and Nyssa are awake too. We get filled in on how they came to be captured by Voorvolika - the Tardis was "approached by an object of immense size" and then they were knocked out. Not much of a flashback really.

Nyssa has gone to look out the window in the "observation room". She screams so the Doctor and Tegan go to where she is and then they look out the window and see Voorvolika (well, a bit of him) too.

The thing pressed up against the thick plastic of the observation port, totally obscuring anything else. Here and there, grotesque suckers adhered to the plastic, releasing sickly white fluids which oozed slowly downwards. Elsewhere, the body crushed inward, fist-thick veins and arteries pulsing with life.

Voorvolika contacts Nyssa telepathically as he begins to nom her energy, and she learns his name. Then we get another Voorvolika bit.
The beings were aware of Voor-volika now. Voorvolika could sense it. What were their names? What had it learned from the one called Nyssa? The names. Tegan. The Doctor. Yes, Voorvolika had touched the one called the Doctor before. It was a strange name, but it had energy. Voorvolika wanted to feed. Voorvolika wanted the energy of the names.

Voorvolika seems to place importance on names, and it is interesting that he gets the Doctor's name from Nyssa, so that if "the Doctor" was not his real name but just what Nyssa knew him as, then he would not know the Doctor's true name.

The Doctor realises that Voorvolika is trying to drain all their energy, so he decides to use the same plan as in Timelash.

No, not that Timelash.

The episode of UFO that is also called Timelash (and which isn't as good because Paul Darrow isn't in it).

In UFO's Timelash Ed Straker takes a dangerous drug to counteract the baddy's effect that is slowing everybody down by speeding him up. The Doctor takes a drug to counteract Voorvolika's effect that is draining everybody's energy.
B929 energy concentrate is a highly potent drug; ten drops have been known to give a man sufficient energy to destroy an army, twelve drops have been known to make a man literally explode with uncontrollable power. The Doctor gave himself eleven drops.

The Doctor puts on a spacesuit and takes a device from the Tardis console for use in his plan later (we don't get to know what his plan is at this point; it is like Mission: Impossible). He then goes outside the Tardis into Voorvolika and it is time for another Voorvolika paragraph.
The tiny being called the Doc-tor was going to fight Voorvolika! He was there, now, ready to enter the body. It could not be permitted! What was he going to do? Voorvolika touched the mind of the being called the Doctor and it knew. The Doctor would die! Voorvolika would touch him more than it had touched any-thing else! The Doctor would touch Voorvolika. All Voorvolika had to do was wait!

Naughty Voorvolika wants to give the Doctor a bad touch.

The Doctor walks around inside Voorvolika and sees the "remains of other beings and ships" that had already been nomed by Voorvolika.
The Doctor hoped that one day another like him would not gaze into the walls and see the shape of a small, dark blue police box.

Voorvolika catches the Doctor in a good old-fashioned sliding walls trap (so much for "All Voorvolika had to do was wait!") and begins to crush him. But because Vooorvolika is trying to squash the Doctor using the inside of his body, the Doctor escapes by squeezing a nerve.

Pain! Voorvolika has never felt pain! Voorvolika must fight! Voorvolika must survive!

"Touched a nerve there," the Doctor doesn't quip, because Davo had some class. As we come to the last page, the Doctor comes to the chamber where Voorvolika keeps both his brain and heart.

It was a grotesque combination of a brain and heart, fused in symbiosis like Siamese twins.

The "brain-heart" attacks the Doctor with energy lightning, but it is the Doctor's turn to trap Voorvolika:
He knew that he had just commenced perhaps the worst fight of his life, and it was one in which he had no intention of fighting back! As he felt the searing heat of the energy columns begin to penetrate his suit, burrowing fingers of flame through the material to search out his flesh, the Doctor looked at the measuring device and saw that his plan was working. Already, the needle had begun to move up the scale...

I am Voorvolika! Voorvolika must not die! Voorvolika must multiply! No! The thing called the Doctor has tricked Voorvolika! The tiny, feeble thing has beaten me! Voorvolika weakens! Energy! So little energy! Voorvolika must kill! So little ener...

...and that is the last of Voorvolika's bits. While this sort of Trojan Horse plan is not an entirely original way for the Doctor to beat the baddys (The Web of Fear, The Masque of Mandragora, and The Myth Makers, to name but three), it is a fitting resolution to this story. Especially as it turns out that Voorvolika is not killed by this, only drained and forced into "suspended animation."

This is a very good story. It is well paced over the course of its seven pages, managing to be scary and exciting with the pictures reinforcing the text, and Voorvolika is an interesting creation, evocatively described.
The Armageddon Chrysalis ends with the Doctor speculating about a possible return for Voorvolika in the future...

As the Tardis spun off through space, the Doctor remembered feeling the mind of the thing touch him. He remembered knowing in that instant that it was totally evil. And he remembered learning with horror exactly what the thing was; an immense galactic grub which slumbered in a chrysalis state, waiting until the day it had fed upon enough innocent souls and space-craft to multiply itself in a terrifying form!
One day, when the effects of suspended animation finally wore off, the thing would awake again and once more begin to prey on life. On that day, thought the Doctor, a certain Time Lord would have to make sure he was nearby. He was not looking forward to it.

1 comment:

  1. This is similar territory to some of James White's Sector General stories where characters go inside giant creatures (to cure them rather than kill them off, though)