||“The House That Ate Time” (1TD01)
by Nathaniel Torson
Game Master: Erin Players: Adam, Brian, Erin
Game Date: 6 July 2018; 28 July 2018; 18 August 2018
Characters: The (Nth) Doctor, The (Lost) Doctor, The (Zen) Doctor, Selene, Marilyn, K9
Adversaries: The House, The Weeping Angels, The Reapers, et al.
Allies: Howard Carter, John Smith
Time: 16 November 1891 CE; 2 August 1914 CE; 9 September 1988 CE
Space: Great Thrumpton, England, Earth; Valley of the Kings, Egypt, Earth; Montana, United States, Earth
Continuity: The first adventure featuring the Zen Doctor and K9.
Synopsis: In the tunnels beneath the Martian moon Phobos, the Doctor and Selene evade Ice Warrior extremists. Down the autumnal paths of nineteenth century New England, the Doctor and his trusty steed Marilyn flee the manifestations of a nightmare. And in the peace and serenity of his TARDIS, the Doctor’s meditations are interrupted by a warning from K9 concerning a temporal disruption. In one continuum-shattering instant, these three distinct incarnations of the same renegade Time Lord find themselves face-to-face, and the implications of such a convergence are nothing short of catastrophic.
The force that has brought three Doctors to the same deceptively nondescript basement vault is driven by hunger, an all-consuming hunger greater than the raging energies of the time vortex itself. It feasts on the transcendental flesh of god-like Chronovores, and it saps the artron emissions from prototype Sontaran timeships. Unchecked, it will devour the TARDIS whole. Putting aside their differences to investigate this ravenous presence, the Doctors discover that beyond the underground labyrinth stands a house unlike any other, where spacious halls and tastefully decorated lounges conceal an architecture that mocks the laws of physics, and each door and window opens onto a different time and place. Reality itself is but a pabulum here, for this is the house that eats time!
Deconstructing the deadly mysteries of this astonishing structure requires a coordinated effort across three distinct timeframes, moments in history infected by its corrupting influence. In each of these eras, a Doctor must face a gauntlet of terrors, for the paradoxes produced by this insatiable beast of an abode have attracted some of the universe’s most dangerous temporal parasites. But there is hope to be found in these distant times and places, for a lone figure is present wherever the Doctor ventures. Earth’s history and the survival of the TARDIS may depend upon the kindness and goodwill of one Dr. John Smith, an ordinary Englishman caught up in most extraordinary circumstances.
Three Doctors. Three timeframes. One monstrous threat. It’s time to bring down the house.
THE STARK walls of the console room seemed to radiate a soft white light, creating a feeling of warmth in otherwise sterile surroundings. A hexagonal console stood in the centre of the room, stretching up to a bright ceiling almost entirely covered by a canopy of intertwining leafy branches. The light filtering through the greenery threw patterns of shadows across the white walls. From the distance, the faint wooden sound of wind chimes wound its way into the tranquil room. In a far corner, a man sat in meditation.
With a sound like ice cracking on the surface of a deep, frozen lake, a metallic whirring broke through the calm. The noise grew closer. The man opened one eye, breathed deeply, and closed it.
The clamour did not cease, and soon a series of beeps accompanied the whirring. There was a loud thunk as something rolled across the threshold into room. This time, the man opened both eyes. His metal canine companion trundled toward him.
AS THE dusky twilight loomed over the rural landscape, the Doctor tied Marilyn’s reins carefully to the white picket fence, taking a few moments to calm the skittish mare. He took off his Panama and placed it crookedly on her head. Somehow, this seemed to mollify the horse; she nodded gently as if to register her appreciation. The Doctor smiled sweetly at her, but then his face turned grave as he turned to look upon the ramshackle, abandoned colonial house before them. All the while, Riddell was rifling through his knapsack a few steps away.
“So, then, here we are,” proclaimed the Doctor with a dramatic flourish. “‘The Shunned House.’”
Riddell drew alongside the Doctor, his face grim, and regarded the building before them with deep unease. “Here we are, indeed. Let’s get on with this.” In one hand he now held a silver crucifix, in the other a roughly fashioned wooden stake.
THE AFRICAN savannah thundered with the combined sound of hooves and military boots. An unlikely foursome kicked up huge swathes of dust in their wake as their sanctuary, a trusty blue box, began to grow from a mere speck on the horizon to resemble the unmistakable form of the TARDIS. Even as it grew closer, however, their pursuers edged ever nearer.
For all her adventures both in and out of the TARDIS, Marilyn was exhilarated at an opportunity to race on her home planet once again, her muscles rippling and her mane flowing resplendently in the warm breeze. The Doctor looked to be enjoying himself, too, grinning from ear to ear as he roared on encouragement to his trusty steed from the saddle. Rather less comfortable was Riddell, an accomplished horse rider himself but here looking and feeling altogether out of sorts, perched behind the Doctor and holding onto his midriff as if for dear life. Keeping pace alongside them, Flo demonstrated how his UNIT training had kept him in the peak of condition, his mighty Judoon legs powering through the wilderness.
THEIR FEET thudded onto the frozen tundra as the Doctor and Riddell jumped from the motionless train, breaking the silence of the night. It was pitch black save for the faint glow of lights from within the carriage, moon and starlight gazing down from the clear sky, and the light afforded by a gas lamp that Riddell was carrying in one hand.
The Doctor, casting a striking figure in a light tan trenchcoat as protection from the chill air, stepped out into the darkness beyond the glow from the train, then immediately gazed up to take in the night sky. “Earth, then,” he proclaimed. “Northern hemisphere, Anthropocene Age.” His nostrils flared as he took in a deep breath of the crisp night air, adding, “Post-industrial. Twenty-first century, I’d say.”
THIS WAS a delicate procedure requiring precision and the utmost concentration. His hand almost imperceptibly shaking and his brow furrowed into a intense expression of complete focus, a balding, professorial-looking middle-aged man in a lab coat held a pipette precariously over a bulbous flask. The flask, filled with a bubbling lime-green liquid, was poised above a flaming Bunsen burner and connected via rubber tubing to a maze of similar paraphernalia, a symphony of Erlenmeyer flasks, and test tubes. He was sat alone and by necessity in silence save for the gentle bubbling of the viscous liquid in the flask. The slightest error and the entire endeavour, representing weeks of work, would be ruined.
At this very moment there came an abrupt and urgent knock at the door. The scientist slipped from his stool and dropped the pipette straight into the flask in surprise, cursing loudly and coarsely in a broad American accent. Perhaps taking this outburst as an invitation, the door swung wide open and a distinctive figure stepped into the doorway.