|The Message of Mystery|
|Main character(s):||Susan Foreman|
|Printed in:||The Dalek Book|
|Dalek annual - The Dalek Book|
|The Oil Well||The Secret of the Mountain|
The story also had a puzzle element to it. The story tells the tale of how Susan helped the Daleks decode a message, but it ends with her not having actually revealed that message to her captors. The reader is then given the tools Susan is purported to have used — the so-called "Dalekode" — to untangle the mystery themselves. Despite the reader interaction, the answer is certainly a part of the story and the correct answer to the puzzle is an integral part of the narrative.
Centuries before they embarked on universal conquest, the Daleks on Skaro receive a message they cannot decode. Nervous, they begin preparing for war footing immediately. Meanwhile, Susan Foreman borrows her grandfather's TARDIS for a short trip to Venus. Instead, she lands in Skaro's petrified jungle. She is quickly captured by the Daleks, who believe she might be responsible for the mysterious message, and taken to the Dalek City. She tries to escape, but they soon overwhelm her again. They force her to try to decode the message by threatening not to feed her unless she helps.
Susan stands up for herself and gets the Daleks to back down a bit. They will feed her first, then she will decode the message. They concede the point, and their admiration grows for the young girl. As she talks to them some more, one Dalek in particular grows fond of the young space-time traveller. He doesn't want her to decode the message, because that will mean she has to leave Skaro.
Susan takes a look at the message and uses what she calls "Dalekode" to solve the puzzle. She begins to laugh in delight. The Daleks respond fearfully to the sound, which they've never heard before. Some of them are so afraid that they topple over. Susan doesn't understand what's going on, and runs off to the TARDIS.
Just as she nears her grandfather's borrowed ship, she finds one Dalek waiting for her - the one who'd grown so fond of her. It begs her not to go, but she leaves anyway. In the aftermath of her departure, the Daleks keep watching for enemies until one Dalek uses the notes Susan had left behind to decode the message, which says: "Peace and good will to all".
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- This is the only story in all Dalek annuals to make a positive reference to the Doctor and the Doctor's TARDIS.
- This story contradicts the televised series in a number of ways:
- There is no precedent either for Susan flying the TARDIS solo or the Doctor allowing anyone to "borrow" his TARDIS. Nor, as the story implies, could one pilot the TARDIS back to wherever its crew had been dropped off, as at this point in the Doctor's life he could not control the TARDIS with such precision.
- Neither Ian nor Barbara are mentioned in this story, making it is unclear if it takes place before or during the time they were travelling with the Doctor and Susan. Thus, either this story or The Daleks would be her second encounter with the Daleks, but in neither one does she seem to recognise them, and they don't recognise her in the latter.
- The Daleks' characterision is very different from all other stories: they secretly like Susan, admire her courage, are fascinated by her, and one Dalek even wants her to stay with them. Also, laughter is shown to frighten the Daleks to the point that they literally topple over in fear; this has never had this effect on Daleks in any other story. Furthermore, the Daleks are able to leave their city, which they couldn't in The Daleks.
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