Trying to salvage the malodorous corpse of Empire of the Daleks, I locked onto the "rebooted history" idea. Why, I wondered, would this be a good thing? Who is to say a new history is better than the old? And if the Daleks knew they had a second chance, what if others twigged to this as well? If certain forces decided it was time to get off their celestial asses and start kicking ass. Another motivation was the flack RTD gets/was getting for always wiping out the Daleks and then bringing them back. The thing is, of course, that he doesn't really. I mean, Dalek has the Doctor - you know, the hugely traumatized manic optimist who repeatedly insists everything will sort itself out - insisting there are no Daleks left. Just like he did 45 minutes earlier. When he was facing the bloody thing in a darkened room. True, the Bad Wolf find-and-deleting every Dalek is a difficult one to get out of, since the Cult of Skaro's trick of not being in the firing line means that the Time Goddess didn't know or bother to change the events of the Tennant years. But we see the Cult of Skaro clearly escape, and Dalek Khan as well, the next story. It's only when Khan goes bonkers and determines to wipe out the Daleks absolutely forever that it starts to get silly the Eleventh Doctor won't have time to straighten his bowtie before bumping into the sods, but even then we get a fig leaf of Davros' cliched "demise" and all the void Daleks who escaped just like the Cybermen.
Basically, thought I, how could you really, properly write them out forever? Permanently?
Still not sure I have the answer, but that was a motivation.
OK, I'll be honest from the start that there's very little original material in this - much of it ripped off from the apocryphal-or-maybe-just-wildly-inaccurate 1960s Dalek Annuals and their pocket phrase book. Yes, Daleks have their own lingo, catchphrases, jokes and social taboos. Either that or Terry Nation was taking the piss like an emergency paramedic and a colostomy bag.
The plot starts with a bunch of cavemen being abducted by space aliens in sequences inspired by the Big Book of Conspiracies (with its brilliant observation that any conspiracy ultimately ends up being explained by aliens, even things like the Jonestown massacre, yet with the blunt admission that no one, really, has a better theory to explain these things). These space aliens are then seen in numerous Family Guy cutaways as scattered outposts of the Dalek empire are wiped out. The flying saucers appear, there's a flash and all the Daleks in the location fade away, their actions undone, the dead come to life. These aliens are slowly but surely erasing the Daleks from history, going from story to story and cancelling it out, for good or ill - for example, this means the galaxy starves to death without any Davros to sell off corpses as soylent green.
The Doctor and Dara are leaving the previous story when the TARDIS goes crazy and they watch freaky fractals on the scanner - blowing up all those time corridors the Daleks were using has had a longterm affect, and now all of time is being rewritten. The Doctor shuts the bitch up with a speech about alternate histories and such, and wires the TARDIS to fly through the time chaos to the last safe place in time, the place where the "old history" will remain the longest so he has a chance of reversing the planar shift and restoring the status quo.
Of course, that place is Skaro and in proper tradition, our heroes don't twig that until the end of the episode. In fairness, Skaro is a lot more than that quarry from B7: Games with a few Slythers and Varga plants (and this is where the annuals come in) as the planet is the size of Saturn, with HUGE continents, oceans and a permanent dark side. The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Dara to the Island of Gushing Gold, a kind of volcano that spews liquid gold, and so the beaches are littered with golden statues of all the unlucky prospectors that tried to pocket the stuff, kind of like Pompeii. In proper tradition, the volcano erupts and the TARDIS is turned into inaccessible bling, trapping our heroes on the planet. Actually, I have no idea how I was going to get around that obstacle... maybe the HADS would kick in or something.
THE TOURISTY REGIONS OF THE DEAD PLANET. AVOID THE BEEF.
But unsurprisingly the Doc and Dara aren't alone on this mysterious world. There's a bunch of humans on the planet acting as a survey team, using the old Dalek city as a base of operations (there aren't any Daleks here, needless to say). On a survey of a nearby island, one of the team goes mad and maroons the others, stealing their aircraft and flying off, only to land on the Island of Gushing Gold where it becomes clear that she's mutating into something nasty. The Doc and Dara manage to beat the mutant unconscious, bundle her into the aircar and fly off the island before it erupts, burying the TARDIS. They then manage to return the air car to the city to get the mutant "medical attention", and chat to the team leader over the radio. The team leader's called Tarrant. Yeah, I know.
The first episode would have reached something of a peak. The Doctor rapidly works out what planet he's on and why the metal city is strangely wheelchair-friendly, and Tarrant quite casually confirms they're on Skaro, and the only inhabitant they've met was in the city when they arrived and is now their scientific advisor (and has been providing a dry wit and Greek chorus from the shadows throughout the episode). The Doctor runs off to confront him as Dara wanders off and sees the medical attention that the mutant is getting - the team doctor is shoving her into a Dalek casing! The Doctor skids to a halt in the city control room as he meets the Scientific Advisor. I trust you're not going to be shocked to find it's Davros, in his Emperor Dalek casing.
The plot, such as it is, blurs from hereon in.
When the Daleks in Empire were trying to rewrite their own history, they realized pretty soon they needed to keep their creator safe and out of the way no matter how mad and annoying they found the bastard. So they rescued him from 1963 and dumped him on the deserted Skaro where he couldn't cause any trouble. Alas, between the Doctor and the aliens, the Daleks are buggered and none returned to protect Davros when humanity reached Skaro and put the planet up for real estate.
It turns out that something incredibly freaky is happening on Skaro, though. All the life on the planet is seeming evolving at an incredible rate, millions of years of development happening in days. The survey team, interested in this wierd phenomenon, investigate the strange life forms on the planet with Davros as their Lonely Planet Guide. It gets wierder since all the serpents and sand monsters and such are all seeming to be turning into the same creature - a kind of brainy octopus you'd normally see jammed into a Dalek. With every day that passes, more and more species lose any trace of their ancestry and turn into horrible green blobs with bad attitudes. Indeed, some of them are pure Dalek mutants.
EVOLUTION IN EASY STAGES...
For Davros, the implications are mind-blowing. The Daleks are the ultimate life form. Literally, the ultimate. No matter what, from jelly fish to rodent to smoothe chested archaeologist, it will evolve, sooner or later into a Dalek. It also means that, really, all that conquering and exterminating was a complete waste of time since EVERY "lesser race" is destined to turn into Daleks. What's more, when they reach the calamari stage, the process stops. The end result of life is Dalek and all they've managed over the years is to butcher their own relatives. Davros and the Doctor can see the irony, but it's not doing either of their heads any good. Especially as Davros assumed he was improving evolution, when all he had managed to do was peek at the end.
The Doctor points out that this evolution may only be local - life on other planets might not evolve the same way, but it's a feeble argument. More importantly, the Doctor wants to know why everything is speeded up on Skaro to the point even TREES are sprouting tentacles. Davros and Tarrant come to the conclusion that an artificial force is working on Skaro, turning the planet into some kind of laboratory. The genetic changes that occured to the Kaleds and the Thals were clearly the same force, but somehow the process has been cranked up to eleven for some reason.
Indeed, it's not just the native life that's evolving - the humans in the survey team are doing the same. That's why they've been going mad, then green, then slimy as individually they speed through their evolutionary cycle and turn into blobs. This is why the mutants get bundled into Dalek casings, which is the only hope to save the mutant's intellect and allow communication. This gets explained to Dara after she makes a complete fool of herself trying to stop it.
The Doctor, Davros and Tarrant do some research and the truth becomes apparent - Skaro is an artificially-modified planet, a giant laboratory to see how life develops. Those cavemen abducted by the aliens at the start were dumped here and evolved into Kaleds and Thals. They were united at first and when they were civilized and evolved enough they discovered the nature of the experiment and kicked out the aliens monitoring Skaro. But with their freedom, the two races began to fight until their civilizations began to collapse. In spite, the aliens turned up the "evolvotron" and the Kaleds and Thals began to evolve to adapt to the increasingly radioactive hellhole they lived in. Davros and his pals assumed it was the result of chemical weapons, not realizing that every generation on either side was a more evolved species than the one before.
However, the process has now got completely out of control and it won't be long before every living thing on the planet will be a Dalek mutant. The Doctor and Tarrant decide to try and work out where the "evolution" is coming from, leaving Dara and Davros in the city. Unsurprisingly, Davros isn't half as nice as he claims - he's got a plan, and what's more, has the body of a space alien in cryogenic storage. Meanwhile, the cliffhanger is either the Doctor or Dara realizing they are starting to mutate as well.
EGGS-STIR-MIN-HATE... THE DOCTOR STARTS TO THINK LIKE THE ENEMY
In the third episode, Davros takes over the 'human mutant Daleks' and thus the city. There are millions of new Daleks here just needing casings, and he sets the factories to work while the new Daleks are head off with butterfly nets to get the fresh mutants. Davros sees a new approach, with Daleks taking over planets and then shipping the natives for a brief stay on Skaro which will turn them into Daleks themselves. Whole populations transformed in hours with no drugs, viruses, time dilations... just acts of god. Davros knows that all life is destined to be Dalek, and he wants to be the boss of the Daleks. Dara's appalled and probably does something to justify her actions in the plot. Maybe she lets out the space alien or something.
After a whistle-stop tour of Skaro, the Doctor and Tarrant find an underground base where the 'evolvo' rays are spewing out of. The machinery or whatever isn't malfunctioning, but the controls have been locked. The Doctor suspects that this evolution isn't random at all and correctly guesses that Davros is the one behind the sudden increase in Dalek mutants. Alas, both the Doctor and Tarrant are now distinctly green and Tarrant becomes a violent, exterminating asshole. As the name would imply.
The episode cliffhangers when a fleet of Daleks descends on Skaro - these are the last survivors of the space alien jihad, who have fled their respective stories and come here in a last bid for freedom. They storm the city, exterminate the mutants and take Davros and Dara hostage. But the space aliens have followed them and it's time for one massive battle.
Things get even MORE foggy from this point.
The space aliens can't simply retcon the Daleks on Skaro. For some reason, here they have to use non-time-rewriting-stuff, maybe conventional weapons. The Daleks are spoiling for a fight and prepare for war. Some of the aliens break into the underground base and rescue/capture the Doctor. Meanwhile, Davros' own captive space alien is a bit pissed off at his treatment as well.
It turns out that the aliens who used Skaro were the Halldons, a truly awesome alien race who fought a time war with their enemies - whose name escapes me but they get a mention by RTD in his time war essay. The Halldons, accepting the truce the Time Lords declared between the two races, decided to take up a hobby of studying biology and used Skaro as a lab to study evolution. But the enemy were paranoid and convinced that the Halldons were trying to breed an army that could be used to wipe them out while the Halldons could have total alibi (after all, the Daleks want to wipe out everything, so no one would be suspicious if they exterminated the Halldon's enemies in the process).
Maybe they were right, I'm not sure, half of this I'm making up the second before I type, but Skaro was - at least at first - purely for educational purposes. But some faction of Halldon got to Skaro and decided that the Daleks WOULD be a pretty good army of assassins and deliberately tuned the machinery so all life would have to evolve into Daleks. Davros found this rebel Halldon and captured him, intending to use his evolving powers so Davros could become the one thing more powerful than a Dalek. The enemy, meanwhile, have decided to wipe out the Daleks from all of time to protect themselves.
Being a clever bastard, Davros pulls his ultimatum - I dunno, maybe he has a button that will blow up all the aliens so can force them to listen. Basically, he wants the Dalek Evolution ray turned onto every planet, like a searchlight that will turn every living thing into Daleks. The rebel Halldon then does something, maybe evolves Davros sooner than expected. I guess the Doctor would have to play a part in things too.
DAVROS SHOWS HIS TRUE COLOURS. QUELLE SURPRISE.
The end result would be the Dalek refugees staying on Skaro, waiting patiently in the belief that eventually all life will become Daleks and they must be ready to "lead" the universe when it catches up to their level. The Daleks basically decide to give up on the whole conquest of the universe and be patient. The twist of course being the Daleks have finally "grown up" yet not changed their DNA like everything else. Yeah, maybe the Dalek-mutated Doctor would be able to convince them of this - hey, if they can't trust the Bringer of Darkness, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Oncoming Storm, than who the hell can they trust? Besides, this will give the Daleks practice for what they would do AFTER they conquered the universe and ran out of people to exterminate.
The Halldons and their enemies make peace, while any surviving humans sod off and the Doctor and Dara leg it. And something happens to Davros. Not entirely sure what. He evolves though, he stops being a severed head and achieves enlightenment. That's what I was thinking of - Davros doesn't die or get blown up or anything that could easily be cheated out of with an escape pod or teleport. He stops WANTING to control the Daleks or take over the Universe. Maybe he gets de-evolved back to that young boy who loved nature and swimming or else turns into a Vorlon and finally "gets it" celestial intelligence wise.
So that was the epic end I wanted. The Daleks don't get nuked, they just get overthemselves. They finally see the funny side (so to speak) and even though they're still ruthless, unlikeable bastards, they finally realize they defeat their own desires going around killing people. They don't bang on about being superior because now they genuinely believe they are, and the maturity that comes with it. The schoolyard bullies finally grow up.
Plus the two high empires who agree to keep an eye on the Daleks to make sure they don't go back on their wicked ways, that'd be a help.
Of course, it couldn't end like that. Not for me. I'm too damn cynical. And pessimistic. So I'd probably add a scene when we find out that the enemies have been trying their own knife-in-the-back-weilded-by-a-race-we-created-accidentally-on-purpose, so the last bit would be a lab somewhere where the rival monster, the replacement Daleks would be created, Frankenstein style. I wonder what they would have been?
(throws back head and laughs like a madman...)