Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Sycorax
The Sycorax
The Sycorax
 Name: The Sycorax

 Format: Television show, Audio and Book

 Time of Origin: Came to Earth on Christmas 2006 and made contact again in the distant future; exact planet of origin unspecified.

 Appearances: "The Christmas Invasion", "Harvest of the Sycorax", peripherally involved in "Twelve Doctors of Christmas: The Christmas Inversion"

 Doctors: Seventh Doctor, Tenth Doctor; Third Doctor was peripherally involved in the Sycorax assault on Earth but didn’t face them directly.

 Companions: Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith; Jo Grant and Captain Mike Yates were peripherally involved in the Sycorax assault on Earth but didn’t face them directly.

 History: A straightforward one-shot villain, the Sycorax would normally be just one of many alien species The Doctor has faced, the race only being significant as they were the first species ever fought by the Tenth Doctor. In appearance, the Sycorax made a prominent visual impression, their heads possessing a prominent exo-skeleton that gave the impression they were wearing a bone helmet while their skin resembled exposed muscle, commonly wearing elaborate robes and known for taking trophies of body parts from condemned races. Sycorax ships were created from hollowed-out meteors, containing various rooms such as a main hall, a grand worship chamber and sleeping quarters, often using the molten core of the meteor as its fuel. The primitive themes of this culture explain their apparent belief in magic and witchcraft, such as referring to blood control as a 'curse' despite its technological origins, and may also account for their sense of honour and respect for the 'Sanctified Rules of Combat'.

The Christmas Invasion
The Christmas Invasion
Drawn to Earth by the recent launch of the Guinevere One probe, the Sycorax approached the planet on Christmas Day 2006 in an asteroid-esque spaceship, demanding that humanity surrender to them and give them half the population as slaves. In an attempt to convince humanity to surrender, they were able to use a sample of A+ blood that had been included in Guinevere One to use blood control, taking 'remote control' of everyone on the planet with A+ blood - approximately a third of the population - and forcing them to walk to the rooftops, apparently willing to make them jump off the buildings unless humanity surrendered.

With the Tenth Doctor still unconscious after his last regeneration and his companion Rose confused about what to do, she and her family attempted to retreat into the TARDIS, only for the Sycorax to draw the TARDIS up to their ship as they recognised it as advanced technology. Just as the Sycorax leader was stating that Earth would be gutted unless it provided a champion, The Doctor regained consciousness - tea that had recently been spilt in the TARDIS stimulating his synapses and getting his brain working again -, subsequently casually triggering the blood control; like conventional hypnosis, blood control could only make someone perform basic actions like walking, but lacked the power to override the human survival instinct.

Although the Sycorax leader arrogantly stated that he could still summon the armada to take this world by force, The Doctor ordered him to withdraw from Earth, taking a sword from another Sycorax and challenging the leader under the sanctified rules of combat; with The Doctor now fighting as Earth's champion, he could win Earth's freedom from the Sycorax if he defeated the leader in a duel. Although the leader appeared to win when he cut off The Doctor's right hand, The Doctor was able to regrow the missing limb - still being in the first fifteen hours of his new body, he retained enough regenerative energy to regrow his missing limb -, swiftly disarming the shocked Sycorax leader, taken aback at this display of 'witchcraft', and ordering the ship to withdraw in exchange for their lives (Although he subsequently knocked the Sycorax leader off the ship when he attempted to attack The Doctor even after the challenge had been defeated).

Unfortunately, as the ship departed, it was destroyed by an alien weapon that had been acquired at some point in the distant past by the mysterious 'Torchwood' organisation, leaving The Doctor disgusted at the loss of life even after the Sycorax had surrendered. Despite The Doctor's anger at this action, it appears that, with his defeat of the leader and the subsequent destruction of the Sycorax ship, Earth was successfully spared future visits from them for several years; the novel "Snowglobe 7" included a passing comment that the Sycorax briefly returned to Earth in the late 21st century with hostile intent but departed shortly after.

Coincidentally, the Third Doctor was peripherally involved in the events of the Sycorax invasion even if he never faced them directly ("Twelve Doctors of Christmas: The Christmas Inversion"); while repairing his TARDIS, the Third Doctor detected Harriet Jones's call for his assistance, and travelled into the future with Jo Grant and Captain Mike Yates to investigate. Although the three encountered Jackie Tyler and learned some of the key details about the current crisis after explaining that they were a past version of The Doctor Jackie knew, it took so long for the Third Doctor to work out what was going on that the Tenth Doctor dealt with the Sycorax himself, the Third Doctor's only contribution to the crisis being to release the Master from a tinsel-themed trap that he was caught in when he tried to make an alliance with the Sycorax in this time.

Classic Doctors New Monsters - Volume 1
Harvest of the Sycorax
(James Goss)
However, the Sycorax and humanity had a far larger confrontation with each other in the time of the Human Empire, at a point when major company Pharma Corps supplied the human race with an elaborate set of medications that literally controlled their emotional states ("Harvest of the Sycorax") (the description of these medications suggests that this event occurred some time after the Great Retrenchment ("Only Human") when humanity lost most of its standard technology and turned to biological sciences, although Pharma Corp existed at a point when humanity had begun to use more conventional tech once again). Seeking to ensure their monopoly, Pharma Corp's directors made a deal with the Sycorax to give them access to a vault on a distant space station containing blood samples from virtually every human being currently in existence, the specific samples increasing the power potential of the Sycoraxs' use of blood control to turn humanity into a slave force, the executives having already created a subtle retrovirus that would render them immune to the blood control. Fortunately, the Seventh Doctor arrived on the station in time to help mid-level executive Zanzibar Hashtag as her medications ran out, Zanzibar experiencing genuine emotions without drugs to moderate her as she helped The Doctor confront the Sycorax, even after The Doctor was captured by the Sycorax and forced to fight Zanzibar when he fell victim to blood control. Despite Pharma Corp executive Cadwallader attempting to maintain his deal with the Sycorax, The Doctor and Zanzibar were able to damage the blood control unit being used on The Doctor and then replace several key blood samples with the blood of a Sycorax priest Zanzibar had killed in an earlier confrontation (as well as Zanzibar confirming Pharma Corps' role in this attack as she had the anti-blood control retrovirus, having secretly purchased it without knowing its exact purpose beyond an executive perk). As a result, when the Sycorax attempted to use the blood control to take command of humans living on the ice colonies, they were instead left in a state of near-hibernation as they had nobody to give them orders, allowing The Doctor and Zanzibar to return the Sycorax to their ship and send it off to drift. They also took care to leave Cadwallader on board the ship with the comatose Sycorax, Zanzibar vowing to tell the rest of humanity what Pharma Corps had done while The Doctor dismissively speculated that Cadwallader may find a suitably deserted planet before the Sycorax woke up to vent their rage against him.
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at djfs@blueyonder.co.uk
 
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