Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Veraxils
Audio - The Witch From the Well
The Witch From the Well
(Rick Briggs)

 Name: The Veraxils

 Format: Audio

 Time of Origin: Exact dates unspecified, but existed in Earth’s past up to the mid-seventeenth century; at least two of the species survived into the twenty-first.

 Appearances: "The Witch From the Well"

 Doctor: Eighth Doctor.

 Companions: Mary Shelley

 History: A unique race with a tragic history, the Veraxil were a particularly difficult encounter for The Doctor, as he encountered their race in its twilight rather than at its height.

One of the older races in the universe, being active long before most of Earth's encounters with alien races, Veraxil technology relied on Odic energy, an alternate science based on harnessing the paranormal, creating a science that was capable of manipulating the universe in a manner that was closer to art than science, with an energy that contradicted every other natural law of physics to the point that it was indistinguishable from magic. Tragically, this resulted in most other races that encountered the Veraxils denouncing their science as heresy, although The Doctor believed that the Veraxils had come to accept this and simply tried to remain out of the way where they could.

The Doctor encountered the Veraxils when he decided to investigate a witch scare that occurred in the village of Tranchard's Fell in the seventeenth century, after the Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley witnessed what appeared to be a witch attacking an excavation team investigation an old well on the outskirts of the house Tranchard's Folly, which had been built on the location where Tranchard's Fell had once been. Accompanied by twins Finicia and Lucern, who claimed to be the children of the local landowner, The Doctor and Mary travelled back in time to learn the origin of the witch, The Doctor speculating that the Veraxil were involved due to the powers displayed by the 'witch' and the report of lights in the sky over the nearby hill of Vetter's Torr.

Travelling to the village after discovering a locked barn near the TARDIS's arrival point, The Doctor was just in time to save local midwife Agnes Bates from being lynched, ignoring the anomaly of Finicia and Lucern being recognised as the earl's children as nothing more than a family resemblance when Agnes not only talked about other planets and spaceships, but even recognised him as the 'Lord of Time'. With witch-pricker Master Kincaid coming to the village, The Doctor met with the local squire at a sermon performed by the newly-arrived Kincaid while Mary took the twin back to the TARDIS, the squire revealing that the scare was caused by the discovery of five desiccated bodies being kept in the locked barn. When The Doctor was attempting to distract Kincaid's team of mercenaries as Mary and the twins returned to the TARDIS, the twins took the TARDIS back to the twenty-first century via use of the TARDIS Fast Return Switch ("The Edge of Destruction" ("Inside the Spaceship")), leaving The Doctor to deal with the witch scare‚?¶ unaware that younger versions of Finicia and Lucern were present in this time.

As The Doctor made contact with local woman Beatrix Butcher while seeking a guide to Vetter's Tor, back in the twenty-first century, Mary was forced to try and find the twins after they vanished while she was unconscious due to the turbulence the TARDIS experienced flying without The Doctor, unaware that the twins had discovered the mysterious Witchtower Configuration in Trenchard's Folly, resolving to use it against the witch. Searching with Beatrix, The Doctor discovered a large hole in the ground with an entry-hatch leading to the Veraxil spaceship, discovering an anomalous non-Odic-energy-based power cell, a broken transmutation matrix that suggested the Veraxil had taken human form, and a Locic Containment Web designed to contain Odic energy, containing a demon-like alien known as a Falcoun flux-imp. Unable to free the imp as it was already too weak, The Doctor simply remained with the creature as it faded so that it wouldn't die alone, but the panicked Beatrix betrayed The Doctor as an agent of the Devil before he could determine why the Veraxil would want to contain Odic energy after using it for so long. With Kincaid twisting The Doctor's warnings of aliens to claim that Agnes Bates was the Devil, The Doctor was thrown into a cell with Agnes, learning that she had been blamed for the death of the squire's wife when she died giving birth to the twins‚?¶ as well as realising that she had the ability to channel Odic energy.

When the twins visited them in their cell, The Doctor realised that the twins were really the disguised Veraxils when they attempted to scan Agnes and Beatrix with the Witchstar Generator, Agnes escaping detection by The Doctor convincing her to focus on the mundane. Revealing that they were searching for other creatures able to channel Odic energy, the Veraxils intended to condemn The Doctor as a witch to prevent the possibility that he might interfere with their mission, but after Kincaid sentenced The Doctor to burn, The Doctor convinced Agnes to explore her powers, prompting the Veraxil twins to retract their earlier accusations, although Beatrix still died of smoke inhalation. Learning that Agnes was the twins' mother - the squire's wife had been dying of the pox, with his affair with Agnes concealed by exploiting his wife's confinement to attribute it to pregnancy -, The Doctor believed that the Veraxils had vowed to save others capable of harnessing Odic energy, taking them home for safety, but Agnes revealed the horrible truth; the Veraxils, having been condemned as heretics by other races for centuries for their use of Odic energy, had turned against their own history, containing the Odic energy they once used as a power source and tracking down and destroying all other Odic sources as part of a twisted holy quest. The Witchstar Generator drained Odic energy, having killed the farmers upon their arrival by accident as it detected the minute traces of Odic energy present in all races rather than the quantity required to manipulate it.

Alone in the future, Mary discovered Alistair Portillon, the squire's descendant and owner of Trenchard's Folly, but was puzzled when he revealed that he had no children, subsequently learning that they were trapped in the house by a force field. When Alistair attempted to call for help from his study, he found that the phone lines were useless before the witch attacked, only to be trapped by a force field located around Alistair's desk. With the witch immobilised, Mary took Alistair to the TARDIS library so that they could search for more information on the Veraxil, learning that the Witchstar Generator - known to Alistair as family heirloom the Witchstar Pendant - was designed to detect and trap Odic energy based on technology found in the Hecatrix Dimension, allowing the users to reverse the damage caused by Odic energy. Hearing the witch scream, Mary began to consider the possibility that the witch was the victim, with this theory being further confirmed when the twins attempted to drain her power with the Witchstar Generator, Mary noting that the witch became more lucid as the power was taken from her.

Back in the past, as the twins attempted to kill Agnes, they were interrupted by Kincaid, who took the Witchstar Generator and set it in reverse on The Doctor's instructions, but this accidentally released the Odic energy all at once, forcing Agnes to absorb it in an energy surge that elevated her power and turning her into an insanely destructive monster, the monster attacking the village as Kincaid's men attempted to stop her. Stuck for options, The Doctor and Kincaid returned to Vetter's Tor, where The Doctor found an empty Locic containment web, although Kincaid was killed by the witch before The Doctor managed to reach whatever of Agnes's mind remained within it, encouraging her to enter the containment web so that she could be contained until The Doctor could save her. The 'well' where the witch was contained was then covered by a stone covered on Locic runes - carved by The Doctor with the sonic screwdriver -, with the squire taking custody of the Witchstar Generator, not wanting to leave it with The Doctor, even as his words had inspired enough doubt to ensure that the squire wouldn't leave the Witchstar to his children. In a last confrontation, The Doctor condemned the Veraxils for their destruction of the best of Earth, noting that the loss of Agnes and her children had cost Earth a change to evolve.

Back in the future, Mary recognised the released witch as Agnes from their brief encounter during the lynching in the past, attempting to order the twins to take her back to The Doctor. When Mary threw the Witchstar into the Locic shield around the house, the resulting explosion caused by the disrupted technology killing the Veraxils as they were more vulnerable to the Odic energy release, Agnes apparently collapsing after the loss of the Odic energy that had sustained her for so long. Using the Fast Return Switch, Mary returned to collect The Doctor just as he had parted company with the Veraxils of the past, the twins vowing to wait for the centuries it would take for the witch to be released to stop her. As The Doctor was reunited with Mary, however, he revealed that what he had trapped in the Locic containment web was merely Agnes's Odic energy; he had rigged the field to filter out Agnes's energy while leaving Agnes herself unharmed, with the 'witch' Mary had seen in the future merely a wave-form patterning itself after its last host. With the twins vanished, The Doctor and Mary left Agnes to find a new village to practise her craft in, using her knowledge of herbs rather than her natural powers.

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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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