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The Sandman was the thirty-seventh monthly Doctor Who audio story produced by Big Finish Productions it was released in 2002. It featured the Sixth Doctor played by Colin Baker and Evelyn Smythe played by Maggie Stables. This story introduced the Clutch and the Galyari to the Doctor Who universe.

Publisher's summary Edit

The Clutch is a fleet in constant motion, ships jostling for position, in an endless migration between the stars. For the Galyari, forbidden by an ancient curse from settling on a world ever again, the Clutch is home. But the curse travels with them...

The Sandman, a figure of myth and folk-lore, preys on the young and old alike. He lurks in the shadows and it is death to look upon him.

All too soon after the TARDIS arrives, it is evident that the Doctor and the Galyari share a dark history, and Evelyn is shocked to discover that, on the Clutch, it is her friend who is the monster.

The Sandman, according to the tales, also goes by the name of the Doctor...

Plot Edit

Part 1 Edit

In deep space travels a large fleet of ships called the Clutch, which is led by a reptilian race, the Galyari, but populated by hundreds of races. A Galyari nursemaid tells a group of children the legend of the Sandman, who takes the skins of misbehaving children. Suddenly the story becomes terribly real, and the children die in agony. Their mother, trade director Nrosha, feels their pain, and takes security Commander Brel and his patrol with her to the nursery...but it is too late. The Sandman, also known as the Doctor, has struck again.

Two years later, the TARDIS arrives on the bridge of a transport ship owned by a star gypsy named Mordecan. The Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe alarm him at first, but manage to calm his nerves. He carries them with him to the Clutch, where he has an appointment. Accompanying him is his anxious partner, Nintaru. Evelyn marvels at the sight of the fleet, like a massive school of fish in coordinated grace...and then they dock with the ships. Irritated, Mordecan lets them out into the fleet, but warns them that they must return before he leaves in three days if they want their blue box back. He warns them to avoid the Warrens, a dangerous area of the fleet; and he urges Evelyn to get rid of the Doctor. Meanwhile, Orchestrator Shol, the Galyari responsible for the coordination of the fleet, has his own problems; he meets with Nrosha, who is sure the Sandman is returning, and reminds her that despite her past tragedy, she must continue to carry out her duties. For the moment, those duties include monitoring Mordecan; and she promises to do so, though she does not respect Shol’s wishes.

While the Doctor and Evelyn set off, Mordecan contacts Nintaru’s and reviews their agenda; Mordecan must first meet Nrosha, but then they will meet another contact in another ship, as they have done in the past. Nintaru’s anxiety grows; the Galyari have stringent trade laws, and are not happy with what she is selling, but she intends to go through with it—especially as this is the last shipment. Meanwhile, Evelyn notices a strange thing: none of the Galyari will look directly at the Doctor. She suspects something is going on, and her thoughts are verified when he breaks into the Orchestrator’s control centre. He intentionally trips the alarm, knowing it will summon the Orchestrator to him. He explains that this is a valid technique for him, as the Galyari have no grasp on a criminal mindset; this means, however, that they punish severely any criminal that does face justice. While they wait, the Doctor plays with the controls for Traffic, the central computer that coordinates the fleet, and learns it is being controlled from an auxiliary command centre. Orchestrator Shol arrives, and the Doctor becomes haughty and arrogant, terrifying the Orchestrator. When Evelyn confronts him about it, he tells her she is wrong about him; he IS the monster they believe him to be.

Part 2 Edit

The Doctor’s behaviour continues to shock, as he dictates to Shol that the Galyari must cease their trade in weapons, a problem which reappears every few generations despite the Doctor’s efforts. Shol reluctantly agrees, though he knows it will make his people poor. Meanwhile, Mordecan talks business with Nrosha; he has brought a shipment of sunbirds, which the Galyari regard almost reverently, as they themselves descend from an avian species. He realizes she is more troubled than usual—and she becomes even more so when he reveals that his unwilling passenger was called “the Doctor”—the alternate name of the Sandman...

The Doctor orders Shol to tell Evelyn about the history of the Galyari and the Sandman. Shol explains that their homeworld, Galyar, was overrun by vermin who burrowed in the ground. When an army of conquest under the command of famed General Voshkar returned to the world and found it in ruins, they fought the vermin, but were defeated by a monster called the Sandman. The Doctor is that monster; he appeared and overwhelmed Voshkar’s army, and ordered the general never to return to the world. He then took the skins of the fallen as trophies. Voshkar left, but raised a second army of twenty thousand soldiers, and returned. Though he had some success against the vermin, the Sandman returned, wearing the skins of the dead, and the Galyari could not look on him without pain. The Sandman stated he had given the vermin, the Cuscaru, intelligence, so that they could oppose the Galyari. He cursed the Galyari to never live on a planet again; and more, he crushed the planet’s Srushkubr, its Memory Egg, to dust. The Doctor explains this part of the story to Evelyn; the Srushkuby is an organic data bank of sorts, which holds the race memory of the Galyari, and to which all of them are bound. Every Galyari colony world has one; Shol balks at the idea that Galyar was just another colony and not the homeworld, but the Doctor insists it is so. The Doctor admits that he did curse the Galyari, so that they will not curse others.

With Mordecan’s information, Nrosha contacts Commander Brel, who is investigating more mysterious deaths. She persuades him to come with her, insisting that they may be able to kill the Sandman and end the nightmare now. Tempted by the thought of being the hero who destroyed the Sandman, Brel agrees, and joins her en route to the command centre. Meanwhile Mordecan makes his way to the Warrens and to an unmonitored terminal, from which he transmits a current map of the Clutch to Nintaru so that she can meet with him at their appointed rendezvous.

Despite Evelyn’s disgust with the Doctor, Shol agrees to the demands, if the Doctor will end the recent unnatural deaths. The Doctor knows nothing of these deaths, and is caught off guard, but plays along, and gets Shol to describe the deaths, which began with Shol’s own predecessor as Orchestrator. That death began after a meeting with Mordecan, but the sale proposed at the meeting fell through with the Orchestrator’s death. Since then, others have died, and it has been attributed to the Sandman. The Sandman would, in the past, only take skins shed during the “growth sickness” that all Galyari periodically undergo; but now the skins are being taken before they are shed, killing the victims. Evelyn and the Doctor are horrified, especially upon learning that trade director Nrosha’s young were early victims. The Doctor promises to end the deaths as soon as he meets with Mordecan—but they are interrupted by Nrosha and Brel, who burst in. Through the pain of looking at the Doctor, Brel opens fire.

Part 3 Edit

Brel’s inability to look directly at the Doctor throws off his aim, and the Doctor and Evelyn retreat, destroying the door lock on the way out. They flee through the Clutch, and notice the lights flickering as they do; this indicates there is a cloaked security drone watching them, tapping into the somewhat-incompatible power system. The Doctor captures the drone and begins rewiring it to find Mordecan, but before he can finish, an announcement is made: this ship is leaving the Clutch, and is about to be detached from its neighbours. Evelyn manages to make it to the airlock and into the next ship, but the Doctor, delayed by his electronic work, does not.

Nrosha takes the Doctor’s flight to mean he fears death. Shol fears what may come of this if they fail to kill the Doctor, but reluctantly complies; Nrosha sends out patrols to track the Doctor but not attack him, leaving Brel to press the attack. When the door is prepared, Brel sets off; Shol seals himself and Nrosha in, and warns her that if Brel fails, he will kill the Commander so as to appease the Sandman. Meanwhile, Nintaru becomes aware of the extra patrols, which make her more anxious than ever. She warns Mordecan, and changes her route to the rendezvous. En route, Mordecan meets Evelyn in the Warrens. She asks about his meeting with the previous Orchestrator, but he says that all he did was connect the Orchestrator with Nintaru before the deal fell through. He does not know what merchandise Nintaru peddles, but he knows it was unusual.

The Doctor’s drone has caught the transmission between Nintaru and Mordecan. When the ship docks in a new position, the Doctor finds Nintaru and questions her; as he does so, they pass through one of many aviaries in the fleet, and the birds attack Nintaru. The Doctor helps drive them off, and explains the genetic connection between the Galyari and birds—which, as it seems, leads the reptilian Galyari to revere such species. Nintaru reveals her own species—the Cuscaru—and learns that the Clutch is nearing Nintaru’s world—a planet once called Galyar. He knows that the Galyari rename every colony world Galyar, and have often forgotten that each world is not the homeworld—so it is with Nintaru’s world. The Cuscaru also have a version of the legend about the Sandman and the early conquest over the Galyari; and when they detected the Clutch approaching, some years earlier, they connected it to the legend, and began seeking a solution. They found trace elements in their soil which must have come from the Memory Egg; and, collecting the fragments, they set out to return them as a peace offering. That mission became a trade mission, but failed; now, Nintaru continues it in secret. The Doctor realizes there are yet larger stakes; when he destroyed the Srushkubr, it released neural energy that forced a mutation on all the Galyari who were present. If the egg’s ashes come into contact with any of those mutated Galyari, it will mean disaster—in fact, it may already have done so.

Shrol is unable to wait patiently, and resumes his duties—but he is unable to contact his sub-Orchestrator, Korshal, in the auxiliary command centre. It seems the Sandman has struck again, although the Doctor is nowhere near that area. Meanwhile, Mordecan and Evelyn arrive at the rendezvous point, waiting for Nintaru and their secretive contact. When the trade deal under the former Orchestrator fell through, this was the only option. Mordecan warns her that the contact is unpleasant to look at; if Nintaru is smuggling drugs, as Mordecan suspects, the contact seems to have sampled them. Nintaru and the Doctor arrives, but when she reaches for her merchandise, the Doctor reveals he has stolen it, to prevent any Galyari from having contact with it. The contact grows angry, and comes out of the shadows to attack—and calls the Doctor by name.

Part 4 Edit

Brel arrives, having tracked the Doctor, but is stunned by the sight of the monster. Mordecan snatches Brel’s gun and kills the creature. It proves to be a Galyari skin, empty inside. Brel still plans to the kill the Doctor; to stop him, the Doctor removes his coat and waistcoat, revealing that it serves as a sort of camouflage to the Galyari, who are highly sensitive to bright, clashing colours. This is tantamount to admitting he has no supernatural powers; but Brel lets that go in the face of a more important issue: once, the Galyari also had a power of camouflage, much like chameleons on Earth. Brel realizes that the walking skin is something requiring analysis, and he summons a medical team for Nintaru; but at that moment, they are interrupted by a broadcast summons. Its voice comes from the auxiliary command centre, and is familiar to the Doctor. It claims to be the new Sandman, and the new Orchestrator of the Clutch; and it will let every non-Galyari depart, if only they bring him the Doctor.

The Doctor has Brel connect him to Shol, and transmits the image of the husk monster. He explains that fragments of the ancient Srushkubr are present; as well, the previous Orchestrator was a descendant of the long-dead General Voshkar. The Doctor can expose and eliminate their tormentor, but it will require letting him into the sacred cultivation chambers. Nrosha objects, but Shol realizes the truth: the Doctor could easily get there in his TARDIS; instead he is asking for their help. Nrosha cannot abide Shol’s decision to listen, and takes a patrol to the auxiliary command centre, trying to prove Shol wrong. Meanwhile, leaving Nintaru to recover, the Doctor goes with Evelyn, Mordecan, and Brel to the aviary to collect feathers, which they will need for the cultivation chamber. He explains that the legend wasn’t quite right; the Cuscaru were the natives of this Galyar, and were just becoming intelligent when the Galyari colonised it. The Doctor helped them to mount a defense, and so gained access to the Srushkubr, and realized he would need dead Galyari tissue to interface with it. This, he obtained from the battlefield; but he was found harvesting skins by the Galyari soldiers. He acted the part of a monster in an attempt to get Voshkar to leave peacefully; the retreat was only temporary, but by the time Voshkar returned, the Doctor had gained control of the Srushkubr. He used it to drive the Galyari away, and destroyed it, blasting them with the neural energy which imprinted them with a fear of him—the Sandman, as they knew him. However, the neural energy was enough to irradiate the soldiers, and that contamination was passed down through many generations. Contact with Nintaru’s fragments unleashed the energy, creating a new Srushkubr. That Srushkubr, filled with malice, was formed around a living core, but has been adding skins to itself ever since—thus creating the husk monsters. Still, as they now embody the racial memory, Brel cannot shoot them.

Still, this racial memory—and the control of it afforded by the Srushkubr—will allow the Doctor a plan. He uses the feathers, along with Galyari skin cells and his own blood, to create his own Srushkubr inside the cultivation chambers. He sends Evelyn and Shol to the command centre, and gets Brel to have all the Galyari seal themselves behind secure bulkheads. He takes Mordecan to the auxiliary command deck to confront the Sandman and then transfer Traffic control back to the main command centre. The plan is not lost on Shol or Evelyn; they realize that the one the Galyari have considered their nemesis, is now working to save them all.

The corridor outside auxiliary command is full of bodies and husks. Only Nrosha, in her hatred, managed to fight her way past the husks; but, the Doctor finds, it was in vain, as the Sandman has torn her apart. The Sandman reveals himself: he is Voshkar reborn, as his mind was the strongest in the race memory. Now he will lead his people to retake the Cuscaru world and make it Galyar again. The Doctor angrily tells him that the Sandman—as the Doctor created the legend—was no killer; he merely harvested shed skins and planted fear, which kept the Galyari from harming anyone else. Under Voshkar, the Clutch will become a war fleet; and this, the Doctor cannot allow. Voshkar attacks him, and in the chaos, Mordecan transfers control back to Shol. Shol opens all the internal bulkheads except those behind which the Galyari shelter. Throughout the fleet, the birds—at the telepathic suggestion of the Doctor—flood the corridors from the aviaries, attacking the husks, who cannot fight them off. As the husks die, Voshkar is steadily diminished, until, wracked with pain, he dies.

Later, at the Doctor’s suggestion, Shol drops the old charges against Nintaru, who acted in good faith without knowledge of the trouble she would cause. Since the Cuscaru world still contains the ashes of the ancient Srushkubr, the Clutch will bypass it, for the sake of safety. With a new era dawning for the Galyari, the Doctor and Evelyn depart in the TARDIS.

Cast Edit

References Edit

Species Edit

Notes Edit

Doctor Who Magazine 323 sandman

Art by Martin Geraghty featured in DWM 323

Continuity Edit

  • AUDIO: The Bone of Contention takes place on the Clutch prior to the events of this story. The Galyari and Mordecan appear in both stories.

External links Edit

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