Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 5862
Author's Summary: Moscow, 1938. Stalin's terror is at its height. Day in and day out, torture and murder are routine in prisons notorious for their brutality. So why would the Doctor want to bluff his way into such a hell hole? The answer lies in something far worse, something rapidly closing in on the Earth.
Warnings: None listed. But it does have some violence and shows the physical results of torture, as well as dealing unapologetically with the tactics of brutal regimes.
Recc'ed Because: I don't read very much Ninth Doctor fic, but then this story is not like most Ninth Doctor fic. I love stories that are grounded in the truth of history, stories that show that the author is writing what they know and grounding a fantastical tale in the details of an era or a setting. In true New Who fashion, this story uses a historical setting as the backdrop for an alien invasion, but it picks an era that I think the series itself would be hard-pressed to do well, in a 6:40 kid's slot. And in the best New Who fashion, it compares the fantastic horrors of an earth-destructing alien menace to the mundane and much more terrifying horrors of simple human brutality. This is a story of Nine traveling alone, his damage shown only obliquely through his uncompromising solutions and an almost ruthless ability to compartmentalize, but also showcasing his tenacity, skill, and passion for saving the human race despite their failings. It's a story of the power of fear, with aliens and middlemen all characters in their own right. If you're looking for an adventure that deals with the dark themes of human history, definitely give this one a read.
Yezhov visibly gulped.
“I... was not informed.”
The Doctor shrugged and gave him a hard stare.
But the duty officer would insist on being useful. “Here is the order, comrade, signed by Comrade Stalin himself!” He thrust the telepathic paper under Yezhov’s nose. Yezhov took it and carefully read what he thought he saw.
“It is indeed Comrade Stalin’s signature,” he said. Then he seemed to freeze like a waxwork. He was obviously thinking it through.
In this culture of dread, the Doctor could guess what was going through his mind. This is very strange, he would reflect. Why would Stalin be interested in this prisoner? Why summon this man from Georgia to collect him? Why is there no car outside to transport them? Have I stumbled across something secret? Something perhaps embarrassing to Stalin? In which case, better that Stalin should never know I found this out. Make no further comment, but walk on. But what if this letter isn’t genuine? What if this is an escape and I let it happen?
The Doctor watched the frozen Yezhov, whose eyes alone betrayed his conflict, as they seemed to dart back and forth like a sort of metronome.