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The Sleeping Beast was a short story published in the 1978 Doctor Who annual. It starred the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, but was notable for also including a prologue featuring the Second Doctor.


Trying to escape from a cosmic whirlpool in which he'd been trapped by the stinging butterflies of Phlok, the Second Doctor has landed on the planet Rimba. There, he meets a young Guerner named Swee as he is burying a scroll under the former site of his house. He explains that his people are a nomadic species who, to satisfy their ravenous hunger for plant matter, settle on a new planet every few centuries, and that they are today on the cusp of their next migration. Befriending Swee, the Doctor stays for two weeks, helping with the preparations and partaking in the celebrations, before watching sadly as the last of the Guerners place themselves in suspended animation, beginning a journey to "goodness knows where" that might last as long as a million years.

However, two regenerations later, the Fourth Doctor discovers the location of the Guerner transport fleet thanks to pictures from the Grindian exploratory satellite. Landing the TARDIS, he daydreams about his original encounter with Swee for a few moments, before Sarah reminds him to switch on the TARDIS scanner. What they see on the screen immediately shocks them — the Guerners are awake and carrying weapons, with Swee as their leader — and moreover, the place the TARDIS has landed resembles Houston mission control on Earth. The Doctor walks out and attempts to greet Swee in a traditional Guerner fashion, but the Guerner reveals that he is not Swee; his name is Nass, and he immediately has the Doctor and Sarah arrested. Taken before a grim council of Guerners, the Doctor runs through various possibilities in his mind, confirming that he is 23000000 years in the future of his first encounter with Swee, and that the "hall" is indeed the control room of one of the Guerner Transport Ships.

It transpires that the fleet is being relentlessly attacked by a huge robot known as the Sto-cat, one of many sent ahead of a full invasion force by a race of conquerors known as the Kryptolians. The Sto-cat's own victorious cries claim that Kryptolians have recently arrived to activate him, leading the Guerners to the assumption that Sarah and the Doctor were those infiltrators. However, the Doctor realises that it is the radio-active blast from the Guerners' ships' own reactor that was mistaken by the Sto-cat's sensors for an activation signal. Informing the Sto-cat of its mistake, the Doctor convinces it to go back to hibernation.

He then tells the Guerners to return to their suspended animation for a few days. As he explains to Sarah, he has realised that the Guerners' memories of their past life are erased whenever they go into suspended animation; once awakened, they then settle into a personality or persona well-suited to their new environment. Awakened under the threat of the Sto-cat, Nass and all the rest were beginning to turn into mirthless warriors. Thus, it is best, for the greater good, that they have another roll of the dice and wake up in peace, not knowing of the tragedy they went through upon first landing.

Stepping out onto the planet that will become the Guerners' new home, the Doctor and Sarah are startled to discover that the Sto-cat (to whom they'd only spoken over the ship's communications system, without actually seeing it) looks like a stone Sphinx. They realise that the Great Sphinx of Giza on Earth is another Kryptolian robot, and wonder how long a Brelian year lasts, and thus, how long humanity has until their own bespoke Sto-cat wakes up from its era-spanning slumber.




  • This story is one of many licensed stories to have posited an origin for the Great Sphinx of Giza in the DWU.