Monday, 12 February 2018

D is for... Daleks (Part 1)

The Daleks were created on the planet Skaro by the scientist Davros. His people - the Kaleds - had been engaged in a centuries long war with their rivals, the Thals. The conflict had begun with advanced weaponry, but had descended into a war of attrition. Both races became entrenched in their protective domed cities, facing each other over a wasteland in which Mutoes roamed - the scarred victims from both sides, cast out by their own people. Davros headed a special scientific elite unit, with its own troops, based in a bunker close to the Kaled dome. Here he experimented to achieve what he believed would become the ultimate genetic form for the Kaled race. This was little more than a tentacled brain. To survive and move around, he devised a mobile life support unit for it, based on his own wheelchair. The Mark III travel machine would totally enclose the Kaled mutant. It would have a single eye-stalk on its dome, and at the front of its casing it would have a sucker-tipped utility arm and a powerful energy weapon. Davros called this fusion of mutant and machine a Dalek - an anagram of their race name. Davros' ambitions for his new creatures went beyond mere survival for his people. They would - and should - become the ultimate creations in the universe, able to conquer all others. He began further experiments on the mutants, conditioning the creatures to pursue the goals he had set for them without any emotional inhibition such as pity or compassion.

On learning that his own government was going to put a stop to his work, Davros betrayed the Kaleds by giving the Thals a means to destroy their city. He blamed this treachery on one of his scientists - a man named Ronson. He was the first person to be exterminated by a Dalek - the first of millions. Davros then sent the Daleks into the Thal city to kill its inhabitants, who had let their guard down in their celebrations. The Doctor had been sent to Skaro at this time by the Time Lords. They had foreseen a time when the Daleks would dominate the universe, and they wanted him to stop their creation, or at the very least make the creatures less belligerent. Davros had underestimated his own creations, however. They activated the Dalek production lines without his approval, and turned on his own supporters. He had conditioned the creatures to be hostile to all other lifeforms, and never to act in obeisance to any other creature - and that included him. Davros attempted to stop the production lines, but he was exterminated before he could do so. The Doctor, with the help of a group of Thal survivors and Mutoes, had the bunker sealed. He realised that he had merely delayed the emergence of the Daleks.

The Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks had been during his first incarnation, not long after he had forced schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright to accompany he and his grand-daughter Susan on their travels. The TARDIS had landed on Skaro, in the middle of a petrified forest. Exploring, they had discovered a vast metal city which appeared to be deserted. However, it was occupied by the Daleks, who dwelt beneath it. Ian was incapacitated when shot in the legs by one of their weapons. Locked in a cell, the travellers discovered that they were suffering from radiation sickness as the atmosphere of Skaro was heavily irradiated, fallout from the ancient war between the Daleks' forebears and the Thals. The Daleks were closely monitoring the radiation levels, as they wanted to escape from their city and reclaim the planet. These Daleks could only move on metal, drawing static electricity up through the floor to power their casings. When they learned that some of the Thals still existed, they wanted to use their anti-radiation drugs to free themselves from their casings. The drugs did not work, and they realised that they were now dependent on radiation to survive. They therefore decided to further irradiate the atmosphere, which would kill the Thals.

The Doctor and his companions escaped from their cell by pushing their Dalek guard onto a Thal cloak which acted as an insulator - cutting off the power. The mutant was removed from its casing so that Ian could get inside and pretend to be escorting the others. The Daleks used Susan to lure the Thals into a trap, offering food and other supplies as bait. Ian was able to warn most of them, though their leader was killed. Once back in the forest, the Doctor learned something of the history of the Daleks and the Thals. It transpired that an essential component of the TARDIS had been left behind in the city, and so the now pacifist Thals had to be encouraged to help the travellers fight against the Daleks. The Doctor argued that the Daleks would find a way of emerging from their city to destroy them, so they would be acting in self-defence. The Daleks were governed by a ruling council, and they were about to vent highly irradiated gases into the air. The Doctor and Susan were recaptured and tried to reason with the creatures - but to no avail. Ian and Barbara joined an attack on the city, during which a vital piece of machinery was damaged, causing the Daleks' power to drain away.
In hindsight, these Daleks were probably the descendants of the ones trapped in Davros' bunker - which the city may have been built over. Cut off for centuries, their technology may have regressed - leading to them only being able to move around on the metal floors, whilst their ancestors had been able to travel outside. The Doctor and his companions believed that they had seen the end of the race, but this proved not to be the case. The Daleks had either only become inactive, or there were others elsewhere on the planet. Alternatively, before they degenerated, some Daleks had already left the planet and established themselves elsewhere.

When the TARDIS materialised beside the Thames in London, the Doctor and his companions found that they were 200 years in Ian and Barbara's future. The planet had been invaded by the Daleks. The Doctor mistakenly thought that these Daleks hailed from an earlier era, whereas these ones were more advanced in design, able to travel across space and conquer other worlds. To move around, they now had power collection discs mounted on the back of their casings. The invasion had begun with a bombardment of meteorites which carried a plague infection. Once resistance had been crushed, the Daleks moved in in force to subjugate the survivors. The Daleks were commanded by a Supreme, with a black casing. They operated on a number of captured human beings, mentally conditioning them to become their servants, called Robomen. They were needed as there was only a small force of Daleks on the planet. The Dalek scheme was to mine a shaft in the heart of England to remove the planet's magnetic core, using a bomb to blast through the final section. They would replace this with a motive unit so that they could pilot the entire Earth like a giant spaceship. The Doctor and his companions joined forces with the resistance movement and infiltrated the mining operations in Bedfordshire. Ian was able to deflect the Dalek bomb down a side shaft, whilst the Doctor and Barbara used the Daleks' voice command system to order the Robomen to turn on them. The bomb detonated, creating a volcanic eruption. The blast struck the hovering Daleks saucers, destroying them.

At some point the Daleks encountered the equally warlike Morok race, as the Doctor and his companions discovered one as an exhibit in the Morok space museum on the planet Xeros. Vicki told the others that she had read about the invasion which the Doctor, Ian and Barbara had experienced, though she did not know what the Daleks looked like. The Doctor made use of the exhibit when he hid inside it to evade capture. When the TARDIS left Xeros, its progress was being monitored by the Daleks.

These were of a much more advanced design. In place of the collection dish they now had a series of vertical slats positioned round their mid-section. The Daleks had also developed a space-time machine of their own, bigger on the inside just like the TARDIS. The black Dalek Supreme sent an execution squad to track down the Doctor and his friends to exterminate them. The Doctor was forewarned after the Space-Time Visualiser he had picked up on Xeros showed their departure from Skaro. The ship was on the planet Aridius when the Daleks arrived. They were armed with a seismic detector which could locate the TARDIS. The Daleks captured a number of the native Aridians and forced them to dig the ship out after it had become buried in a sandstorm. They then ordered the Aridian leaders to hand over the Doctor and his companions, or be killed themselves. One of the execution squad was destroyed after it was lured into a trap, falling down a hole to be attacked by a Mire Beast. The Doctor and his companions fled, with the Daleks in close pursuit. After a brief visit to the top of the Empire State Building in New York, the chase took them to a sailing ship in the mid-Atlantic. The appearance of the Daleks caused the superstitious crew to leap overboard. One Dalek fell overboard trying to capture them. The vessel was the Mary Celeste...

The TARDIS next materialised in what appeared to be a haunted house. The Doctor thought they would be safe here, as he thought they had arrived in part of the human imagination, but it proved to be a terrestrial fun fair exhibit. The Daleks were attacked by an automaton of the Frankenstein Monster and forced to flee. Vicki had become separated from the others, who left without her, so she stowed away in the Dalek craft. Here she witnessed them creating a robot copy of the Doctor, designed to infiltrate their party and kill. The pursuit came to a conclusion on the planet Mechanus. The robot Doctor was discovered when it called Vicki 'Susan'. The Doctor attempted to impersonate it to make the Daleks think it had succeeded, but they saw through the deception. The Doctor and his friends were then captured by the Mechonoids, who lived in a vast city above the planet's jungles. The Daleks knew of these robots, and launched an attack to seize their prisoners. They battled with the giant spherical robots. The Doctor had built an anti-Dalek bomb. This was detonated and the ensuing fire destroyed the city. Ian and Barbara then used the Dalek space-time machine to get back home, self-destructing it when they got to London.

In the year 3999, the Daleks assembled an alliance of alien races from the outer galaxies on the inhospitable planet of Kembel. The meeting was to plan for the invasion of the central star systems - beginning with the Solar System. A Dalek spaceship had been spotted in the area, and so a Space Security agent, Marc Cory, had been despatched to investigate. The Daleks had seeded the jungles with Varga Plants, genetically modified vegetable creatures which could move around and infect people - making them homicidal before turning them into Varga Plants. These plant forms were bred on Skaro. Cory discovered the Dalek plan, but was exterminated before he could warn the Earth authorities.

A year later, the TARDIS arrived on Kembel. The Doctor encountered another Space Security agent named Bret Vyon, who had come looking for Cory. The dead man's recording of the Dalek plan was discovered and played back. The Doctor managed to get into one of the alien alliance conferences and learned that the Daleks had created a new weapon - the Time Destructor. This was powered by a core containing taranium, supplied by Mavic Chen. He was the Master of the Solar System and Vyon's superior. He craved even greater power and so had allied himself with the Daleks. Discovering that there were enemies in the jungles nearby, the Daleks used flame gun attachments to burn down the foliage and flush the Doctor and his friends out. The Doctor stole the taranium core and fled the planet in Chen's spaceship with Bret and his companions Steven and Katarina. They planned to go to Earth and warn the authorities, but the Daleks were able to divert the ship using a magnetising ray, causing it to crash-land on the prison planet of Desperus. The Dalek ship sent after them also crashed - leading the Supreme to order the destruction of its crew for their failure. Katarina died when she sacrificed herself to eject an escaped convict out of the airlock where he was holding her hostage.

Bret was later killed once they had reached Earth - shot down by his own sister, fellow agent Sara Kingdom. She and the Doctor and Steven were accidentally transported to the planet Mira in a matter-transmission experiment. Chen claimed to have arranged this deliberately, as Mira was close to Kembel. Daleks were sent to capture the Doctor and his companions, but the invisible Visian creatures attacked the Daleks pursuers, allowing the Doctor, Sara and Steven to escape. Steven's experiments to create a fake core caused him to develop a temporary force-field. This allowed the Doctor to regain the TARDIS after the Daleks forced them to land back on Kembel. Once they realised they had been given the fake core, the Supreme sent another space-time machine after the TARDIS with Chen on board. The Daleks captured the time meddling Monk in ancient Egypt, as he was in pursuit of the Doctor himself - seeking revenge for having been stranded in 1066 England. The Monk was ordered to assist in helping retrieve the core.

The Doctor was forced to give the core to Chen in order to free his companions, just as Egyptian warriors attacked the Daleks. The Doctor was able to get the TARDIS to Kembel using the stolen directional unit from the Monk's ship. Steven and Sara found that the Daleks had abandoned their base, but then found that they had relocated to a more secure position deep beneath a nearby mountain. The Daleks had turned against their allies, locking them up. Steven and Sara freed them, so they could return to their respective worlds and warn them of the Daleks' treachery. Chen, his sanity gone, attempted to take command of the Daleks, only for them to exterminate him. The Doctor stole the Time Destructor and activated it on Kembel. Time began to run forwards, killing Sara. Steven was able to reverse the device and the Daleks were regressed to an embryonic state before the machine burned itself out.

The Doctor did not meet the Daleks again until just after his first regeneration. The TARDIS arrived on the planet Vulcan, which had an Earth colony established on it. A crashed space capsule had been found in the mercury swamps and this had been taken into the colony by the scientist Lesterson for study. He had opened it and found a number of inanimate Daleks, which he believed to be robots. He succeeded in reactivating one, and it pretended to be benevolent - claiming that it would help the colonists. To do this, it required power and materials. A revolt was brewing in the colony, and its leader - head of security Bragen - saw in the Daleks the perfect weapon for their struggle. Although he had only just regenerated, the Doctor found that the Daleks recognised him - implying that they knew him from his own personal future. The Doctor found that no-one would heed his warnings about the Daleks, as Lesterson proceeded to give them everything they asked for. Too late, he discovered that they had set up a production line to create a huge army of new Daleks. They took advantage of the unrest, exterminating any colonist they encountered irrespective of which side they were on. The Doctor sabotaged their power supply, creating an overload which destroyed them.

The Daleks then set a trap for the Doctor. They had been drawn to Victorian England by the time experiments of the scientist Theodore Maxtible and his friend Edward Waterfield. Waterfield was forced to travel forward to the 20th Century to arrange for the TARDIS to be stolen - bringing the Doctor to his antiques shop where a time travel machine was located. The Doctor and Jamie were then brought back in time to Maxtible's home in 1866. The Daleks wished to understand the Human Factor - those values, skills and attributes which had so often led to their defeat. In order to isolate this, the Daleks forced the Doctor to conduct an experiment on Jamie - monitoring his actions and reactions as he was tasked with rescuing Waterfield's daughter Victoria. The Daleks claimed that the Factor was to be introduced into the Daleks, and a trio of inactive units were used to test it. Instead of cunning and guile, they exhibited a playful friendliness. The Daleks were then recalled to Skaro, and departed leaving a powerful bomb behind. The Doctor used one of their time machines to follow them, along with Jamie and Waterfield.

On Skaro, in the heart of the Dalek city, the Doctor met their Emperor for the first time. This was a huge immobile Dalek, linked by cables into the Dalek control systems. It was protected by its own special guards, which had black domes. The Emperor revealed that they were not interested in the Human Factor at all. Rather, it would help them identify the Dalek Factor. This was to be used to turn human beings into mental Daleks, and the Doctor's TARDIS would be employed to spread it throughout Earth's history. An attempt to turn the Doctor into a Dalek failed, as he was not human. These Daleks did not know that he was an alien Time Lord. The Doctor reversed the process, so that more Daleks became humanised and began to question their orders. A civil war broke out amongst the Daleks. The Emperor was attacked, and soon their city was in flames. Watching from a nearby hillside, the Doctor believed that he was witnessing the final end of the Dalek race...

When the Doctor was later captured by his own people and put on trial for his interference in the affairs of other races, the Daleks were one of the foes which he used to illustrate why he felt compelled to act in the way he did.

Appearances (Part 1): The Daleks AKA The Mutants (1963/4), The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964), The Chase (1965), Mission to the Unknown (1965), The Daleks' Master Plan (1965/6), The Power of the Daleks (1966), The Evil of the Daleks (1967).
Cameos: The Space Museum (1965), The War Games (1969).

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