The Sleeping Blood written by Martin Day was the first story in the 2015 The Companion Chronicles audio box set The First Doctor: Volume One. It featured Susan. This was a rare example of a First Doctor-lite story, set before any other companions joined the Doctor. This unique setting gave Susan the kind of spotlight she had never enjoyed on-screen.
When the Doctor falls ill, Susan is forced to leave the safety of the TARDIS behind. Exploring a disused research centre in search of medical supplies, she becomes embroiled in the deadly plans of a terrorist holding an entire world to ransom — and the soldier sent to stop him.
The Sleeping Blood (1)
On a tropical planet, the Doctor accidentally cuts his hand with an unknown plant, oozing a strange liquid. In the following days, he develops an infection which only grows worse; the TARDIS' medical supplies seem to offer no remedy, and every search from the Doctor and Susan for some antibiotics proves useless. Eventually, the Doctor ends up being too weak and is confined to bed, shortly before they land again somewhere. A desperate Susan decides to venture outside and look once again for a cure.
She finds out they landed in what appears to be a deserted medical facility; after exploring the place, she manages to reach what looks like a storehouse, with various drugs disposed on shelves around her. As she searches for a catalogue, an A.I. activates and asks her how it can be of assistance. To Susan’s request, the A.I. informs her she is on Rua, that the place is a research centre, and in this time nobody uses antibiotics because they developed nanotechnology. Nanomachines are now introduced inside the body when someone requires medical assistance, and they immediately cure any possible disease or wound.
Their conversation is interrupted by a little spider-like robot with a camera on its head, with whom Susan attempts to interact, only for it scratching her hand. Electing to waste no more time, Susan grabs some of the drugs and goes to find her way back. However, before she reaches the TARDIS, she is found by Kendrick, a member of a security team armed with a sort of mechanical armour three-feet tall and heavily armed. He doesn’t harm her, and merely brings her to meet his patrol men. On the way, he explains to her that they are here to find and stop the “Butcher”, a hacker who has taken control of the nanomachines and now is blackmailing the people of Rua, after killing one or two politicians to prove how dangerous he was. Kendrick asks Susan whether she is working with the Butcher, and believes her when she says she is not.
With his team reunited, Kendrick begins to develop a strategy based on surprise, assuming the Butcher doesn’t know they are here. This is immediately proven untrue when the Butcher’s voice comes out of a speaker, asking them to leave or else they will die. To prove his point, the Butcher kills one of Kendrick’s patrolmen, by controlling the nanomachines in her body.
The Butcher's Citadel (2)
Kendrick and his men are shocked by what happened: none of them ever had medical interventions, so it shouldn’t be possible for nanomachines to be in their bodies. Susan figures out that the Butcher controls the little security robots, and used them to inject the officers with nanomachines he can manipulate; she also guesses that’s what happened previously with her when the robot stung her. She then uses her superior knowledge of nanotechnology and her informatics skills to crack into the computer frame and reprogram the robots inside the team’s body, thus preventing the Butcher from killing them. She would then like to walk away back to the TARDIS, but Kendrick forces her to stay with them, half-pleading and half-threatening her, although he promises her that he will allow her to return to the TARDIS once it’s all over.
Susan and Kendrick’s team reach the Butcher (whose real name is Gomery) in his hideout, only for the officers to be stopped by the terrorist, using the nanomachines to prevent their metal walkers from working. Susan, being the only one without a walker, is the only one still capable of acting, so she reaches a console and, while the Butcher prepares himself to send his message to Rua, once again overrides his controls and takes hold of the robots, releasing the team. The Butcher tries to plead with her, to make her understand what he’s doing, but before he can go on, Kendrick shoots him with a gun and kills him, to Susan’s dismay.
True to his word, Kendrick escorts Susan back to the TARDIS and lets her leave. With the drugs from the laboratory, Susan manages to cure her grandfather. As he is recovering, Susan notices that one of the little security robots followed her inside the ship, and out of curiosity, she has it play the Butcher’s message. The message has Gomery revealing to be a biology engineer, programming the Butcher’s attacks because the recent medical developments on Rua had been kept for themselves by the rich and powerful. He also says they intended to use the technology to develop a new security system – actually a better way to control people. Intrigued and saddened, Susan uses the A.I. of the robot (the same one as in the centre) to gain more information and sees an exchange between Gomery and his dying grandmother. He wants to pay for her treatment, but she refuses his help, saying she’s dying not because of poverty, but because of old age.
Upon that moment, the Doctor, now completely restored, interrupts her and asks her what’s wrong. After Susan tells him all that happened on Rua, the Doctor comforts her: from where he’s standing, she saved his life, and for the rest, they must not interfere with the affairs of other people. When Susan reminds him that he did not have this views back home, the Doctor replies that now that they are travelling, they don’t have the right to manipulate other peoples’ histories; besides, it is debatable whether their actions would be for good. However, Susan can’t help but notice that her grandfather seems not entirely sure on the subject.
- First Doctor
- Four unnamed members of Kendrick's team
- Gomery's grandmother
- The First Doctor and Susan land on a planet with twin suns, but quickly leave after the Doctor cuts himself on a serrated leaf.
- Using its chameleon circuit, the TARDIS disguises itself as a large alloy cupboard.
- The name of the Earth colony Rua is derived from the Hebrew word for "wind" as the first settlers observed an extremely strong wind.
- The Time Lords developed nanomedicine thousands of years before the Doctor and Susan left Gallifrey.
- Kendrick refers to Superman.
- An Icosahedron is an object with twenty sides.
- This is the first Companion Chronicles release within a new pattern of releases, grouping four stories with one Doctor into a box set rather than as individual releases. It also marks a new form of box set, releasing it in a 4 disc jewel case as into 4 separate jewel cases contained within a cardboard sleeve.
- Art for this release was seen on a video on the official Big Finish YouTube channel. It was originally done as fan art by Simon Hodges and was used by the YouTube channel. The video has since been removed over some issues with copyright and image clearance and approval. The image can be found here.
- Given that the TARDIS' chameleon circuit is operational, this is one of the few Doctor Who stories in any medium in which the TARDIS appears in a form other than that of a police box.
- Susan refers to her and the Doctor's departure from Gallifrey. (TV: An Unearthly Child, The Name of the Doctor; AUDIO: The Beginning)
- Susan refers to the Mary Celeste. The Doctor would later be indirectly responsible for the disappearance of its crew in 1872. (TV: The Chase)
- The Doctor tells Susan that they must not interfere with the affairs of other races, echoing one of the main precepts of Time Lord society. (TV: The War Games) However, he will in time question this assumption. (AUDIO: Last of the Romanovs)