Monday, 15 January 2018

C is for... Cybermen (Cybus)

On a parallel version of the Earth, industrialist and entrepreneur John Lumic built a global business empire. He was confined to a wheelchair, suffering from a terminal illness, and his thoughts turned to the preservation of the human brain. In this way he could cheat death. At his factories in South America he began a series of experiments, creating an armoured steel body in which the brain could be housed. When the new cybernetic bodies had been perfected, he returned to the UK, hoping to convince the President to support his work. He suspected that he would be turned down, and so devised a plan to forcibly convert the population of London. He set up a conversion factory at the old Battersea Power Station and sent his lackey Mr Crane out to entrap a number of homeless people - luring them into a lorry belonging to one of his subsidiaries with promises of free food. They were then taken to Battersea where their brains were removed and deposited in the new steel bodies - becoming Cybermen. The suits were laced with an artificial nervous system. Determined to eliminate fear and pain, he included in their chest unit an emotional inhibitor. The circular panel on the chest had a letter C stamped into it - for Cybus, the name of his company.

Overpowering the populace was easy, as everyone wore earpods - manufactured by Cybus Industries - which provided news downloads as well as taking the place of telephones. Lumic used the occasion of Jackie Tyler's birthday party to launch his attack. Her husband worked for him, though he was also secretly communicating what he knew to a rebel group known as the Preachers. The President was at the party - as were the Doctor and Rose Tyler. As soon as he saw Lumic's research on Pete Tyler's computer, the Doctor realised that a parallel race of Cybermen was about to be born on this world.
Some of the Cybermen were destroyed by the energy from one of the TARDIS' power crystals, whilst another was incapacitated by an electro-magnetic bomb.
Lumic was himself converted, to become the Cyber Controller.
The Doctor was able to defeat his plans when he realised that Lumic's entire business empire was built on standardisation. He had Mickey Smith hack the computer records to discover the code which controlled the emotional inhibitors of every Cyberman and broadcast this using Rose's mobile, which was linked to the Cybus telecommunications network. With the inhibitors disabled, the Cybermen saw what they had become and suffered a fatal shock, their heads exploding in some cases. The Controller was destroyed in the burning conversion factory. However, it was realised that there were Cybus factories all around the globe, and Mickey elected to remain on the parallel Earth to stop the Cybermen from emerging elsewhere.

In the Doctor's absence, the people of the parallel world did not know how to deal with the Cybermen. They were confined to the factories, but it was argued that they could not be killed as they were a new form of life. It was then discovered that the Cybermen had vanished. Fractures existed between our Earth and the parallel one, and the Cybermen used these to travel across the Void between universes, mapping themselves onto this world as ghostly images. The experiments of the Torchwood organisation in London opened these fractures enough for the Cybermen to pour through, invading the entire planet. However, something else had come through the Void - a ship containing the last of the Daleks, known as the Cult of Skaro.
The Cyber Leader attempted to forge an alliance with the Daleks, but they declined. The original Cybus Cybermen killed with a powerful electrical charge, but they now also had energy weapons built into their forearms.

They were able to convert many humans before the Cult unleashed an army of Daleks from a captured Time Lord prison capsule. Daleks and Cybermen battled each other across London. The Doctor realised that anyone who had travelled through the Void became tainted with a form of background radiation. Were the fracture to be opened fully, those affected would be sucked back into the Void. The Doctor and Rose used the Torchwood equipment to open the breach, and the Cybermen and the Daleks were all pulled in. Rose Tyler became trapped on the parallel Earth, however, though she had her mother and Mickey with her, as well as the alternative version of her father.

Someone who had been only partially converted was Lisa Hallett, girlfriend of Torchwood operative Ianto Jones. He got a new role with the Cardiff Torchwood team, and smuggled Lisa into their base - the Hub. He employed a Japanese expert to try to undo the conversion, but she killed him and began draining power from the Hub to grow stronger. She attempted to convert Gwen Cooper, but the power was cut before this could begin. Ianto was ordered by Captain Jack Harkness to destroy her, but he couldn't bring himself to do so. Lisa was attacked by the pterodactyl which lived in the Hub, after Jack threw its favourite BBQ sauce over her. The team were able to escape, and Ianto was sent back in alone to kill her. A pizza delivery girl had found her way into the abandoned base, however, and Lisa used the conversion equipment to transplant her brain into the girl's body. She still wanted to convert Ianto, but was killed by the rest of the team.

A small party of Cybermen which had been pulled into the Void were able to escape using stolen Dalek technology. They emerged in Victorian London, setting up a base beneath the Thames. With the help of the governess of a local workhouse, Miss Hartigan, they abducted a number of children to use as slave labour to help construct a Cyber King, making use of whatever resources they could find. Some animals were converted into Cybershades, which could be used to capture or kill. These Cybermen had with them a number of info-stamps - cylindrical data packs which, when inserted into their chest units, could implant information. An overload of this data could destroy them, exploding their heads. A man named Jackson Lake, whose wife had been killed by the Cybermen, and whose son had been abducted, accidentally downloaded information about the Doctor - causing him to believe he was the Time Lord.

As the Cyberman plan neared fruition, a number of other workhouse governors were lured to a funeral and captured, adding their children to the workforce. The Cyber Leader intended for Miss Hartigan to become the controlling element of the Cyber King - a Dreadnought-class spaceship containing a full conversion factory. Her strong willpower meant that she could resist becoming enslaved to the machine, and she decided to use it to conquer the Empire. The Doctor and Jackson rescued the children before the Cyber King emerged from the river to begin attacking the city. The Doctor took to the skies using Jackson's TARDIS -  a hot air balloon - to confront Miss Hartigan. He was able to make her see what she had become, which destroyed her and the Cybermen. The Doctor then used the Dalek technology to send the Cyber King into the Void.

A group of Cybus Cybermen, under the command of a Cyber Leader, were brought into the alliance which aimed to trap the Doctor in the Pandorica - to prevent him from destroying the universe. The Pandorica was hidden in a cavern beneath Stonehenge. A Cyberman was left to guard over it, but was attacked and wrecked by local native tribesfolk. Even with its head and an arm broken off, it remained active - as did the components. The gun built into the arm could still fire energy bolts and deliver an electrical charge.

The head could move around on its own, and was capable of firing paralysing darts. The front of the helmet could open up in order to wrap itself around a new host. A full skull was seen within - showing that these Cybermen no longer simply transplanted the brain into the steel suits.
The Cyberguard was despatched by Rory Williams - or rather an Auton replica of him, also part of the Pandorica Alliance.

At some point in the far future, the Cybus Cybermen encountered those from our own universe and joined forces with them. The Cybus versions may have given the other Cybermen the idea to redesign themselves to look similar, dispensing with the redundant C-logo on the chest plate. The Cybermen of the 12th Cyber Legion, for instance, were identical in design to the Cybus Cybermen, even down to the helmet markings denoting the Cyber Leader. When the Doctor and Clara visited Hedgewick's World of Wonders, they saw a couple of empty Cybus Cyberman suits in Mr Webley's waxworks attraction, alongside non-Cybus versions.

Appearances: The Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel (2006), Army of Ghosts / Doomsday (2006), TW 1.4: Cyberwoman (2006), The Next Doctor (2008), The Pandorica Opens (2010), Nightmare in Silver (2013).

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