Subscribers to Big Finish’s line of Doctor Who audios have had a bit of an extra treat appear in their download folders over the last week – a free audio book of Twilight’s End, a Doctor Who short story Mark Wright and I wrote back in 2007.
It’s an interesting little story and one I haven’t reread since it was first published in Short Trips: Defining Patterns (Big Finish, 2008). It was originally planned to come out the same month as a main-range Doctor Who audio that would feature Nimrod and the Forge from our previous stories, Project: Twilight and Project: Lazarus. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, that drama – which was set to take the Forge in a completely different direction – didn’t happen. So, Twilight’s End came out on its own.
For a while it looked like Twilight’s End would be the last appearance of Nimrod and co, that is until we were invited back to write Project: Destiny, which was released last year.
However, the Project: Destiny that wrapped up Nimrod’s story was quite different to the one that had originally been planned. Originally ‘Project 3’ was supposed to come out in 2006. The Forge was going to be given a new Director, much to Nimrod’s disgust. In the opening scene, our villain would be called to the Director’s office to find Ace sitting in his boss’s chair with Hex on the phone, arguing with someone at Whitehall. Then a door would open and the Seventh Doctor would stroll in. Just before the sting of the opening titles, the Doctor would utter the immortal line:
“The Forge works for me now Nimrod – and so do you!”
While the main plot did have some similarities to the recorded Project: Destiny, the ending was quite different. Nimrod was to end up a fugitive agent, on the run from the authorities, while Ace and Hex would leave the TARDIS to rebuild the Forge as a force for good. The following month a new spin-off series was due to be launched, continuing Ace and Hex’s adventures.
Of course, when the release date was pushed back to 2008, Torchwood had put pay to that last idea. After all, we couldn’t have two former companions running black-op organisations from subterranean bases in the Doctor Who universe could we?
One day, I need to dig out all the notes for the abandoned Project. I’ve just found one file on my hard drive which includes a scrap of dialogue from Ace and Hex for the end of episode four. It’s very rough, but it shows where we were going:
Hex: Do you think he’ll be alright, Ace? Without us, like…
Ace: Do you think he’ll go too far, you mean?
Hex: Well, yeah.
Ace: Knowing the Doctor, I doubt he’ll be alone for long. I hope.
Hex (Changing the subject): You know, I can’t believe we signed up for this. A ruin of an HQ, a security chief who hates our guts and the most dangerous collection of xenotech on the planet. Where do we even start?
Ace: Oh, I’m sure we’ll think of something. Come on Hex, we’ve got work to do.
As I said, it needed some work, but it would have been fun to see where it led to.
So, Twilight’s End is a curious little beast. There are a few things in there that now don’t sit that comfortably with the story we eventually told in Project: Destiny and there’s other hints of tales that might have been – but I’m glad it’s been given a new lease of life.