Doctor Who – Dalek Mark III Travel Machine Combat Training Manual – Atkinson, Tucker and Rymill

There was a prediction within the Matrix that warned of the possibility, even the likelihood, that the Daleks would destroy all other lifeforms and become the dominant creature in the universe, and a decision was made, though likely conceived and executed within the Celestial Intervention Agency to allow the High Council deniability, that an agent should be sent to redirect their timestream, to make them less aggressive, to introduce a weakness into their biological makeup which could be exploited, or, should the other options fail, to prevent or curtail their creation and excise their presence from history completely.

Regrettably for the Time Lords, the outcome of the mission was not optimal, the individual they selected to undertake it one of their more eccentric operators who frequently improvised and demurred, allowing himself that most dangerous indulgence of becoming involved in the lives of individuals who, from a temporal perspective, were mere sparks long ago turned to ash and dust; had the plan succeeded, history might have been very different, the need for the extraction of the data compiled within the Dalek Mark III Travel Machine Combat Training Manual never coming to pass.

Instead, the Daleks were entombed but not destroyed, trapped in a bunker beneath the surface of their dead planet alongside the remains of their overthrown creator Davros where their hatred for all beings other than themselves grew and festered, a malignancy which would eventually manifest in their revenge, leaving Skaro and encountering other species upon whom they would unleash their limitless aggression expressed in the policy of total extermination.

The Time Lords, possessed of the near limitless power of the Eye of Harmony held beneath the Panopticon in Gallifrey’s Capitol which gave them mastery over space and time yet blinded by a disinclination to become involved with what they regarded as the lower species until the growing crisis had already passed the point of easy resolution, they vastly underestimated the capabilities of their ruthless adversaries who rightly ascertained that the covert action to prevent, delay or subvert their very creation was of Time Lord origin.

Crucially, Dalek time travel technology, though apparently primitive, if such a word can be extended to cover the applied circumvention of the fundamental physical laws of the universe, initially developed as an extrapolation of Time Lord technology, whether seized, otherwise obtained, or simply observed, has in some ways become superior to the template upon which it was based, a huge cause for concern which meant that the Time War was not over before it began despite what the Time Lords might have optimistically envisioned.

Rendered in English by Richard Atkinson and Mike Tucker with copious visual data interpretations by Gavin Rymill, a collective whose previous Matrix extract focused on extended observation and analysis of the adaptable functions of the Type Forty Travel Capsule, the Dalek Mark III Travel Machine Combat Training Manual is a summation of the direct experience of that same reluctant agent known as the Doctor, gathered so the Capitol Guard of Gallifrey might become familiar with the imminent threat of the Dalek forces.

Where Dalek: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe expanded on what was definitively known, drawing on apocryphal secondary sources and offering speculation, expanding beyond a core of established, verifiable knowledge, the Dalek Mark III Travel Machine Combat Training Manual is a strict account of events as witnessed, organised as field reports detailing specific encounters and interspersed with cross-referenced distillations of intelligence on various aspects of the enemy, their weapons, strategies, variants and all-too-few weaknesses.

Presented non-chronologically, there is a timeline to establish the context of the encounters, and told from the point of view of the Doctor’s experiences there is a bias towards his favourite planet, the Earth, with a cluster of data points around the 20th and 21st centuries, indicating the Daleks prefer a level of technological advancement which allows them to make swift use of a culture, adapting existing planetary infrastructure, but not so high effective resistance can be mounted against them.

The aftermath of the first great war on Skaro once described by Harry Sullivan as “a war of attrition in reverse” as dwindling supplies meant the once advanced Thals and Kaleds regressed in the technologies with which they fought each other, in contrast, the Daleks, mutated orphaned child race of the Kaleds, when they left Skaro gained access to resources, either through alliances or the enslavement of planetary populations, their later conflict with the Time Lords – precipitated by that very assignment which took Sullivan to that wasteland battlefield on ancient Skaro – demonstrated rather to be one of alarmingly accelerated escalation.

Abandoning the tools of their early campaigns, the representation of the Slyther perhaps rightly reduced to the size of a postage stamp and their later allies the Ogrons receive little more discussion, while events are not entirely consistent – temporal anomalies are to be expected, in the flexible circumstances – there are key questions to which answers are not yet forthcoming, the sudden disappearance of the “new paradigm” after its equally swift spontaneous emergence, and the mysterious purpose of the Dalek designated “Eternal” to name but two.

The Dalek Mark III Travel Machine Combat Training Manual a comprehensive overview of the species, it is also interesting in what it unconsciously reveals of the Time Lords, using the Doctor as a pawn yet offering minimal support, reliant on his knowledge yet dismissing his insight where it diverges from their beliefs, presenting themselves as a uniform society yet as composed of factions as the Daleks themselves, though absent the genetic imperative to exterminate deviation, instead infected with a condescending indifference to outsiders and a willingness to compromise their fundamental standards, ironically contributing factors in the Doctor’s decision to abandon them.

Awkward questions such as the morality of reconditioning Dalek combat units to be used as weapons of war against their own kind, such as occurred by happenstance with “Rusty,” his personality inverted by exposure to trionic radiation, are never raised, sidestepped as conveniently as the supposedly immutable Laws of Time, the dereliction of which first prompted the Time Lords to reluctantly engage with the Daleks when they began their dangerous experimentation with time travel before abandoning adherence to the Laws themselves when it became a matter of their own preservation, another double standard shared between the two equally matched opposing powers whose conflict counts the rest of the universe as collateral damage.

The Dalek: Mark III Travel Machine Combat Training Manual is available now from BBC Books



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