Storytime! Sleeping Beauty

However, on the basis of what we have observed, we can say in general now that the Federation is a biological fortress armed by the nature of its species. The fortress may be easily penetrated. When this occurs, it turns into a complex of unpredictable but always deadly traps.

— The Demon Breed, by James H. Schmitz

"Things are very strange round here, at the moment," Katarina said.

Izzy raised her eyebrows. "Aren't they always?"

"There is definitely something the matter with Polly. Last week she took it into her head that the Master was not a Time Lord, but a herald in the service of the King of Spain, and refused to let him in. The next day she remembered nothing of the matter."

"She could always have been replaced by an alien shapeshifter." Izzy drained her glass, and looked at Katarina's sceptical expression. "That sort of thing does happen, you know. See if Varne can spot anything."

"But if she is an impostor, and Varne exposes her, the Proprietor will be forced to dismiss her. And then who shall guard our doors against intruders?"

"I see what you mean. Perhaps you'd be better off with Daleks. They've worked wonders at the crêche."

"Daleks are not to be trusted," Katarina said flatly.

"So everyone tells me. But these ones haven't tried anything funny."

Katarina shrugged.

"Merely by saying that," she said, "you have guaranteed that they will, and quite soon."

"Wherever did you get that attitude?"

"I studied under Cassandra. It rubs off."

Izzy laughed, and bade her good evening.

- * -

At the time, Izzy had been quick to dismiss Katarina's fears. But the next morning she found herself looking more closely at the Dalek guardians than she had for some time. They patiently gazed back at her, and expressed their wish — or was it a command? — that she should "HAVE A NICE DAY."

By the time she sat down and opened the storybook, though, that momentary flicker of unease had long since been driven from her mind by the everyday crises of running a playgroup.

Izzy / Narrator :
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen.

[The generic Royal Palace, as in all the other fairytales. The Eighth Doctor and Benny are sitting on the thrones.]

Izzy / Narrator :
They said to each other every day of their lives "Would that we had a child!" and yet they had none.

Doctor / King [flatly] :
Would that we had a child.

Benny / Queen [seductively] :
Well, you know what the necessary conditions are for that. And frankly, I can't wait.

Izzy / Narrator :
Sssh! This is a children's story. Anyway, when the Queen was bathing, there came... a frog out of the water?

[Benny is relaxing in a foaming bath, a glass of wine in one hand. Suddenly a rubber toy frog surfaces beside her.]

Frog [in K9's voice] :

Benny / Queen :
All right, that's weird, but it could have been a lot worse. I was expecting a Terileptil or something.

[She squeezes the frog.]

Frog [in K9's voice again] :
Mistress. Your wish shall be fulfilled. Within the year you shall have a daughter.

Izzy / Narrator :
And as the frog foretold, so it happened. Though how it knew I have no idea.

And when the daughter was born, the King ordained a great feast, and invited not only his relations, friends and acquaintances, but also the wise women, that they might be kind and favourable to the child. There were thirteen of them in the kingdom, but he only had twelve gold plates for them to eat from, so one had to be left out.

Doctor / King :
What? I'm sorry, but that's the lamest excuse I ever heard. Why couldn't the thirteenth have had EPNS or something?

Izzy / Narrator :
I don't know and I don't care. The story says that's what happened, so that's what happened. The feast was celebrated with all splendour, and as it drew to an end, the wise women stood forward to present to the child their wonderful gifts.

[The wise women stand up one after the other.]

Romanadvoratrelundar I :

Thalia :

Romanadvoratrelundar II :

Camilla :
Long life.

Rodan :

Flavia :
Ability to hold her drink.

Romanadvoratrelundar III :
Good dress sense.

Ruathadvoraphrenaltid :
A lucky streak.

Serenadellatrovella :

Iris Wildthyme :
A good singing voice.

Katura :
Responsible behaviour.

Izzy / Narrator :
And when eleven of them had had their say, in came the uninvited thirteenth...

[Eldrad (the female version) throws the doors of the hall open.]

Eldrad :
In the fifteenth year of her age the Princess shall prick herself with a spindle and fall down dead!

Izzy / Narrator :
And without speaking one more word she turned and left the hall.

Eldrad :
It doesn't say I can't do evil laughter, though, does it? MWAHAHAHAHAHA. [She leaves.]

Izzy / Narrator :
Everyone was terrified at her saying, when the twelfth wise woman came forward, for she had not bestowed her gift.

[Barbara stands up, dressed as an Aztec goddess.]

King / Doctor :
I suppose you can't undo that prophecy, can you?

Barbara :
Reverse the prophecy of the neuron flow? Not entirely. Here's the best I can do: The Princess shall not die, but fall into a deep sleep for a hundred years.

King / Doctor :
I suppose that isn't so bad. But to be on the safe side, I'll have all the spindles in the kingdom burnt.

Izzy / Narrator :
The maiden grew up...

[A montage shows the passage of time.]

Izzy / Narrator :
And she was so lovely, modest, sweet, and kind and clever, that no-one who saw her could help loving her.

"Was her name Mary Sue?" Baby Tegan asked, pointedly.

Izzy / Narrator :
No, her name was Rosamond.

[For the first time we see Rosamond. She's played by Vicki.]

Izzy / Narrator :
It happened one day, she being already fifteen years old, that the King and Queen rode abroad; and the maiden was left behind alone in the castle. She wandered about into all the nooks and corners...

[Another montage. Vicki opens doors marked ON NO ACCOUNT OPEN THIS DOOR; she walks straight past signs saying NO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL; she presses buttons marked DO NOT PUSH. Spikes drop from the ceiling behind her. A huge rolling ball follows her down a ramp, getting closer and closer until she turns left at the last minute. Death-trap after death-trap misses killing her by the skin of her teeth, while she remains completely unaware of any of them.]

Izzy / Narrator :
At last she came to an old tower.

[Vicki opens yet another door, ignoring a huge yellow triangular hazard sign bearing the image of a black poppy. Inside is Sarah Jane Smith's attic, complete with Sarah Jane herself and Luke. Both are sitting in front of Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith is displaying a complicated waveform. On a tray in front of his main screen is a collection of egg-sized pods, over which beams of red light are continually passing.]

Vicki / Rosamond :
Good day, mother. What are you doing?

Sarah :
We're trying to decode these pilot's logs.

Luke :
Mum found them in the remains of a crashed escape pod.

Sarah :
So Mr. Smith's trying to analyse them and see if we can work out who the aliens were and what they were escaping from. It could be vital.

Vicki / Rosamond :
Will it take a long time?

Sarah :
Oh, should be done in a couple of hours, I'd say.

Vicki / Rosamond :
Sorry, I don't think I can wait that long. See you later.

[She goes to the door and tries to open it. The handle comes off in her hand.]

Sarah :
Oh, dear. I'm terribly sorry. Luke, can you fix it?

[Luke bends over the door.]

Luke :
The grub screw seems to have sheared off. We'll have to get someone to open it from outside.

Sarah :
Mr. Smith, can you patch me through to someone outside? Mr. Smith!

[No answer. But there is a faint hissing noise from somewhere.]

Sarah :
Gas! We've got to get out of here, now! Luke, can't you get that door open somehow?

[Vicki picks up a pair of pliers that are lying conveniently at her feet. She tries to turn the shaft where the door handle was; her hand slips.]

Vicki / Rosamond :
Ow! I've just scratched my hand. On whatever you call that bit of the door.

Luke :
That's the spindle.

[The gas suddenly begins to pour out of vents all over the room. Everyone drops to their knees, coughing.]

Mr. Smith :
Eldrad sends you all her best wishes. Sleep well. [He chuckles evilly.]

[The gas swirls around the unconscious figures of Sarah, Luke and Vicki.]

Izzy / Narrator :
And this sleep fell upon the whole castle - on the King and Queen, the horses in their stalls, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons on the roof, the flies on the wall.

[Another brief montage shows the occupants of the castle falling asleep.]

Izzy / Narrator :
Then round about that place there grew a hedge of thorns...

[We see the castle surrounded by a vast prickly hedge.]

Izzy / Narrator :
And a rumour went abroad in all that country of the beautiful sleeping Rosamond; and from time to time many Kings' sons came and tried to force their way through the hedge;

[Steven arrives, and tries to push his way through the hedge.]

Steven's voice :
Ow. I'm trapped. Can someone help me out, please?

[Ben arrives.]

Steven's voice :
Keep away, or you'll get caught in the thorns.

Ben :
Don't worry, mate, I know what I'm doing.

[He disappears into the hedge.]

Steven's voice :
So, what you're doing is 'getting trapped as well', yes?

[Jamie arrives.]

Ben and Steven's voices :
Keep away, it's dangerous.

Jamie :
Ach, ye're nothing but a bunch of Sassenach weaklings. Creag an tuire!

[He draws his dirk and plunges into the hedge.]

Ben's voice :
Told you so.

[Mickey arrives.]

Ben / Steven / Jamie's voices :
Whatever you do, don't try to get through the hedge.

Mickey :
Come on, I'm not a complete idiot. I'm not going in there.

Izzy / Narrator :
Yes you are.

Mickey :

Izzy / Narrator :
Because the script says so.

Mickey :
Oh, all right then.

[He disappears into the hedge.]

Jamie's voice :
Well, there's a surprise.

Mickey's voice :
If anyone else comes, they'd have to be a real nitwit not to listen to four of us warning them off.

[On cue, Harry arrives.]

Ben's voice :
Shall we even bother?

Steven's voice :
What would be the point?

[Harry enters the hedge.]

Izzy / Narrator :
The thorns held fast together like strong hands, and the young men were caught by them, and not being able to get free, there died a lamentable death.

Mickey's voice :
What? Now just hang on a minute...

[Ace, Sara, Polly, Samantha Briggs, Bettan and Rose arrive. They are wearing camouflage gear and backpacks. Ace also has a sergeant's stripes.]

Ace :
Don't worry, boys, girl power to the rescue. Squad... Just a minute. Briggs!

Samantha :
Yes, Sergeant?

Ace :
What are you doing here?

Samantha :
Understudy, Sergeant.

Ace :
Yeah, I guessed. Where's Waterfield?

Samantha :
Don't know, Sergeant.

Ace :
Yes you do. She chickened out, didn't she?

[Samantha stares straight ahead and says nothing.]

Ace :
Scared of a few stupid plants! I'll give her scared next time I see her.

[The squad try not to giggle.]

Ace :
And if Waterfield doesn't show, Heriot should be the next on the list. Where is she?

Samantha :
Don't know, Sergeant.

Ace :
"Don't know, Sergeant." She's been eating too much fresh fruit, that's what it is. [She twitches uncontrollably.]

[Again, the squad shakes with barely-suppressed laughter.]

Ace :
At least Smith had a proper excuse. Playing an old crone. Cushy number, I call it. Now, don't you go letting her down!

Bettan :
No, Sergeant.

Ace :

[They snap to attention.]

Ace :
Check your equipment!

Sara :
Gardening gloves. Check.

Polly :
Hedge trimmer. Check.

Samantha :
Protective clothing. Check.

Bettan :
Shears. Check.

Rose :
Pruning saw. Check.

Ace :
Nitro nine. Check. All present and correct.

[They all don gardening gloves and heavy coats. Then they disappear into the hedge, their progress marked by the sound of shears, sawing, power tools, and the occasional 'ouch!'.]

Izzy / Narrator :
Come out of there at once, you lot. I'm not having you ruin the story.

Samantha's voice :
Hold still, Jamie, I've almost got you free.

Mickey's voice :
Look out, that's sharp.

Sara's voice :
Stop complaining, it's only a little scratch.

Ben's voice :
Here, be careful what you're doing with that thing.

Rose's voice :
Oops. Sorry.

Izzy / Narrator [louder] :
Come out or I'll send the Lambton Worm in after you.

[To more sounds of extreme gardening, the squad emerge, with their rather scratched and tattered princelings in tow.]

Izzy / Narrator :
You lot are incorrigible. On the bright side this should stop the likes of Leela complaining about strong female characters.

Now, where were we? Many a long year afterwards there came a King's son into that country—

At this point someone took the book gently out of Izzy's hands. She looked up, startled, into the face of Nyder. He smiled at her and carried on reading. She attempted to snatch the book back, only to find that someone standing behind her had tied her to the chair. A gag was thrust into her mouth. She looked over her shoulder, and discovered Mercy Hartigan, one finger to her lips. Behind the unwholesome twosome were the three Daleks who had supposedly been on guard, their guns trained firmly on her.

Nyder / Narrator :
The King's son heard an old man tell how there should be a castle standing behind the hedge of thorns.

[Davros is sitting beside the road in his chair. We do not see whom he is addressing.]

Davros :
Many Kings' sons tried to pass the thorn hedge, but were caught and pierced by the thorns, and suffered a miserable fate.

Nyder / Narrator :
Then said the young man, "Nevertheless, I do not fear to try."

[Pull back to reveal that the 'young man' he was talking to is Dalek Jast.]

Dalek Jast :

Nyder / Narrator :
And when he drew near the hedge of thorns...

[Ominous Hebrew chanting. Dalek Jast approaches the hedge. Behind him a squad of flamethrower Daleks fire up their burners. More Daleks rise into the air and float over the top of the hedge.]

Dalek Jast :

[The flamethrower Daleks open up on the hedge, which goes up like dry tinder. The hovering Daleks land in the courtyard and blow the gates off their hinges.]

Nyder / Narrator :
When he reached the castle-yard, he saw the horses and brindled hunting-dogs lying asleep, and on the roof the pigeons were sitting with their heads under their wings.

[The Daleks glide through the ashes of the hedge into the courtyard.]

Dalek Jast :

[They start mowing down the horses, hunting-dogs and pigeons.]

Nyder / Narrator :
And when he came indoors, he exterminated the flies on the wall, the cook in the kitchen, the kitchenmaid, the King, the Queen, and of course Princess Rosam—

A dull boom shook the nursery, and the room was filled with thick black smoke. Izzy tried to throw herself to the floor, but being still tied to the chair, she found herself unable to.

"Ha, foul intwuder," came the sound of the baby Sixth Doctor's voice. "Let's see how well you cope wiv papier-mashy in the eyestalk."

"MY VISION IS IMPAIRED!" shouted a panicky Dalek. "I CANNOT SEE! EMERGENCY!"

Izzy, trying to blink the smoke away from her stinging eyes, glimpsed dim shapes running to and fro. Surely those two toddlers were little Nyssa and Tegan, but why were they dragging what appeared to be a huge elastic band tied together from thousands of smaller elastic bands?

By vigorously shaking her head, she managed to shift the gag.

"Will someone please untie me?" she shouted.

"Sorry," Baby Ace briefly appeared through the murk, dragging a length of clothesline. "We're a bit busy."

"INFRA-RED INOPERATIVE," a Dalek voice screamed.

"Fools!" snapped Nyder's voice. "Switch to radar!"

"Chaff bomb, Zoë!" Ace called, and disappeared again.

Another explosion rocked the room. This time, the thick smoke was accompanied by a shower of gold and silver paper cut into tiny pieces.

"You ill-bred little brutes!" Miss Hartigan's voice shouted. "Put me down at once, or I'll have the lot of you flogged!"

"Take the strain," Peri's voice came from somewhere near the window. "Pull!"

An ominous low-frequency twanging filled the room.

"Let go!"

The resounding sound of an immense BOING mingled with shattering glass and the rapidly-receding scream of a Dalek.

Nyder suddenly loomed out of the smoke.

"You fiends," he snarled at Izzy, and drew his gun.

"What? What have I done to you?"

The vague shapes of toddlers were briefly visible around his feet, distracting him for a moment.

"Nothing," he replied, getting his anger under control. "But this will make me feel better—"

He took a step forward, only to find his shoelaces had been tied together, and he toppled forward into a wheelbarrow of wooden bricks. Leela and Susan took one handle each and pushed him away.

Before Izzy could see any more, a third smoke bomb went off. Since it was obvious that none of the children had the slightest interest in untying her, she tried to free herself from the ropes. Fortunately Miss Hartigan, whatever her other admirable — or otherwise — qualities, hadn't been an expert in knot-tying, and before too long she was free.

"Smile, please," said Baby Isobel's voice, somewhere in the smoke, and a searing flash of light went off. As Izzy tried to blink the afterimages away, the room resounded once more with that ominous BOING, and more glass breaking.

Izzy stumbled forwards and tripped over a skateboard that someone had left on the floor. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because as she fell awkwardly to the ground a Dalek extermination beam passed through exactly where she'd been standing.

"Dalek over here!" Dodo's voice shouted. "Anyone got a splat-gun?"

Obviously someone had, because her question was almost immediately followed by a number of damp-sounding impacts and a cry of "Hey, that was me!" from baby Adric.

"One more time!" Peri's voice called.

Now she was closer to toddler's-eye level, Izzy was able to see more of what was going on; the smoke didn't seem to be such a problem down here. Most of the tots were tugging at lengths of clothes-line, which in turn connected to the mighty coil of elastic bands she'd seen earlier. As they dragged it backward, a party of boys pushed the third Dalek into position just where the band had been...

"Let go!"


The Dalek, screaming "ELEVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.....", was caught by the elastic and hurled through the French windows into the outside world. Somehow, despite the devastation caused by the previous two ejections, it still managed to find unbroken panes to smash through on its way.

"That'th the lot." the baby Sixth Doctor said, climbing off a table and wandering in Izzy's direction.

"We haven't used up all the bombs," Liz's voice said from somewhere behind Izzy. "There's still four of them here."

"Be a shame to waste them," said little Ace.

Not only was the ensuing detonation four times as loud as the previous three, and four times as destructive, it also managed to set off the sprinkler system.

- * -

Izzy finished towelling off the last of the children and looked round ruefully at the state of the crêche. Still, the story remained unfinished, and the children weren't going to be satisfied until that was rectified.

Fortunately, the book had been dropped face down on a table, so its cover had protected it from the worst ravages of the sprinklers. She picked it up. Those Daleks would have to go, for a start.

Izzy / Narrator :
You're all going to think this is a terrible cop-out, but here goes. Just as the Daleks were about to exterminate the people in the castle, a void opened in time and space and sucked them all in.

[As in 'Doomsday', the Daleks are sucked screaming into the void. We briefly see the 'girl power' squad again; they are holding Rose down by main force to prevent her being dragged away.

The void seals itself.]

Izzy / Narrator :
Now all we need is a replacement prince.

[Captain Jack bounds into view, and salutes.]

Izzy / Narrator :
Right. Get on with it.

[Captain Jack enters what's left of the castle, makes his way to the tower, finds Vicki / Rosamond asleep, and kisses her. She wakes.]

Vicki / Rosamond :
My hero!

A few of the little girls smiled happily. The rest of the children seemed to feel that gagging noises were more appropriate.

Jack :
Charmed, I'm sure. But hey, isn't that Sarah Jane Smith? The one and only? Honoured to see you again, ma'am. And your computer's kinda hot too.

Vicki / Rosamond :
Hey! I'm over here...

Luke :
I think he's too busy talking to Mum. Probably boring grown-up stuff. Want to go and get a milkshake?

Vicki / Rosamond [with a smile] :
Only if you're paying.

Izzy / Narrator :
Then they went downstairs together, and the king awoke, and the queen, and the whole court. And they lived happily ever after. THE END.

- * -

Davros gazed on his two bedraggled subordinates, his electronic eye tinting them faintly blue.

"I find myself very disappointed in both of you," he said.

Miss Hartigan looked down, in case they were standing on a hidden trapdoor. Then she looked up, but as far as she could see there was no anvil, piano, safe, or any other kind of heavy weight hanging over them.

"I have tried to establish good working relations with the staff at the crêche," Davros continued. "And with this ridiculous stunt you have placed all of my careful preparation in jeopardy."

"You're trying my patience," Miss Hartigan said. Her voice remained level, but her fingers were twitching with rage. "You know perfectly well that this foolish plan was your idea from first to last. I was only brought in at the last minute when your previous associate got cold feet. Why I ever let you talk me into this—"

"Please do not interrupt me," Davros replied calmly. He pressed a switch on his chair. One of the Daleks behind him moved its gun fractionally and fired. Mercy collapsed to the floor, temporarily paralysed.

"It seems to me," he continued, "that our organisation should do its best to make amends for the damage you have done. Therefore, once Miss Hartigan has recovered the use of her legs, the pair of you will proceed to Look Who's Talking, apologise, and offer to help tidy up. It may not be diplomatic to take Daleks with you this time."

He turned away from them, and glided into his inner sanctum. The Daleks followed him.

Nyder looked down at his fallen colleague.

"Don't worry," he said. "He won't have us killed. Though after you've been involved in as many of his plans as I have, you might not think that such an advantage."