The Swords of Kali was the three-part second story of the Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor comic story series published in 2014-2015. The story was published in two versions, the other version titled The Swords of Okti.
The Swords of Kali version
In the distant past, the land that would be India played host to a war between ancient aliens, whose cross-temporal battles contributed to the country's rich myths and legends. Kali, oldest and deadliest of these creatures, was thought defeated long, long ago; her body scattered throughout time to prevent her return. But her psychic essence could not be killed... nor her millennia-long quest for vengeance.
Now, in the 23rd Century, she is on the brink of resurrection. And with India at the forefront of human spaceflight, it's not only Earth that falls to her predations if she succeeds – but the whole cosmos!
The Swords of Okti version
In the distant past, the land that would be India played host to a war between ancient aliens, whose cross-temporal battles contributed to the country's rich myths and legends. With India at the forefront of human spaceflight, it's not only Earth that falls - but the whole cosmos!
In a race against time, and across it, the Doctor and Clara must gather secrets, intelligence and allies from across India's past, present and future - if they are to survive!
Madhya Province, India. 1825
Late evening in the jungle, two young Indians, a husband and wife, share the warmth of their campfire and a modest meal with other fellow travelers, a middle-aged man and a bent female completely wrapped in a red cape. The couple are traveling to Madhya, where the husband will work for the British Sahib. The man pokes fun at the cloaked figure thinking she might be old enough to remember the time before the British became their rulers.
The man's two accomplices, acolytes of Thuggee like him, suddenly attack the couple from behind and start strangling them. Two bullets find the two attackers as the bent woman, who turns out to be quite young, throws down the cape and unloads her two guns. The remaining Thuggee recognises her as Rani Jhulka, who hunts and kills robbers and murderers like him. He draws his blade intending to devote her death to Kali, but Rani's blade finds him first. She advises the young couple not to continue on their journey as that way leads to death. She, however, plans to go exactly that way.
Fortress Scindia, Madhya Province
A formidable Fortress Scindia is lit by the fool moon. Unnoticed by the guards, Rani jumps from a nearby tall tree to the wall, stealthily makes her way along it, and climbs into a window. Once inside, she continues her trek, until she hears a roar from behind a closed door and a strange voice replying some nonsense about teeth and grandmas. Rani unholsters her guns and kicks open the door... to see the Twelfth Doctor held by a huge hideous monster with sharp teeth and claws. Seeing her confusion, the Doctor offers that the choice whom to shoot shouldn't be that hard in this particular case.
Florence, Italy. 1505
Leonardo da Vinci is painting Mona Lisa using Clara Oswald as a model and asks the Doctor for his critical opinion. The Doctor notes that while Leo failed to capture Clara's likeness well, he DID manage to capture Clara's smile perfectly. Clara is amused that SHE is the person in the famous portrait. The TARDIS telephone rings. The call is from Tiger Maratha.
Mumbai, India. 2314
Tiger is calling from Mumbai from year 2314. He travelled with the Fourth Doctor and was given the phone number in case he needed help. And help he needs, against a timeless evil. He is afraid to say more lest somebody is listening. The Doctor immediately agrees to help, takes Clara, and departs Florence. As Tiger hangs up the phone, a dark shape descends from the ceiling of his apartment. Its touch drains all life from him leaving a desiccated husk standing in the middle of the room.
The TARDIS materialises on Tiger's balcony. When the Doctor and Clara step into the room, they see the back of Tiger's body and do not immediately realise they are too late. Using his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor determines that the cause of death was similar to a vampiric attack, only working on a molecular level. Suddenly, a now adult Priyanka enters the room and thinks the Doctor and Clara are the killers. Priyanka does not recognise the Doctor with this new face and wants to call the police. But when he calls her by her name and offers her jelly babies, she remembers the Fourth Doctor doing the same when she was younger and starts hugging the Doctor, causing some awkwardness.
Two police officers break up the happy reunion intending to arrest the Doctor. The only question is: how did they know about the crime if Priyanka did not call them? Turns out they are not here because of Tiger's murder. They are investigating a complaint from Scindia-Corp who accuse Tiger of theft. While cuffing the Doctor, the police request access to his records and information about some artefact. The Doctor easily gets rid of the cuffs and, acting in unison with Clara, they hit the police officers hard enough to be able to run onto the balcony. By the time the officers reach it, the trio is safely away.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor asks Priyanka why Tiger would do business with the Scindia family. She does not know because they did not speak much lately. Her father did not approve of her training to become a space pilot. But Clara has a more basic question: who are the Scindias?
In the headquarters of Scindia-Corp, waiting for the report from the police officers, the patriarch of the Scindia family, Chandra Scindia is watching an infomercial praising the family and its space-age program. The main topic of the infomercial is Haven, a spatial city designed to house millions of people. The is planned for tomorrow. The orbital city is to become fully operational tomorrow and is supposed to free people from poverty, overpopulation and environmental chaos. The infomercial also introduces notable members of the Scindia family, including Sonam, the commander of Haven. Chandra, however, detests these "angelic avatars" of himself and his family members. He looks forward to revealing their true selves.
The police officers arrive. Chandra has seen the footage from their eye-cams and is not amused by the fact that they let the Doctor and Clara escape with Maratha's daughter. As he turns the conversation to the goddess controlling their fates, his words become gradually more threatening and other Scindias from the infomercial, Sonam, Aamir and Karisma, sneak up to them from behind. Suddenly, Chandra transforms into a monstrous shape (similar to the one Rani and the Twelfth Doctor encountered in 1825) and challenges the two officers to fight them. But they are no match for the monsters.
The Doctor pilots the TARDIS to Fortress Scindia, which the family keeps under much tighter guard than their business headquarters in Mumbai. Using his sonic screwdriver to shield them from security systems, the Doctor finds a room that exists in four dimensions, that is both here and somewhen else. As he presses a shift button on one of the statues, he theorises that the room or maybe even the entire fortress exists simultaneously in other time periods. But Clara and Priyanka are not behind him anymore: he has been shifted in time. The voice behind him belongs to another star of the infomercial, Vikas Scindia, who promptly transforms into the familiar monster form. It is then that the Doctor issues his teeth and grandma remark that caused Rani to break into the room.
She fires both pistols into the monstrous shape of Vikas. The Doctor sniffs the air and tries to guess the year. He's wrong by 14 years, and Rani calls him a madman for not knowing it is 1825. The Doctor, on the other hand, is more worried that ordinary bullets might not be enough for the kind of creature they encountered. Rani's solution is simple and effective: decapitate the body. The Doctor introduces himself, and the the temporary allies walk away from the room.
Fortress Scindia, 2314
Meanwhile, back in 2314 Priyanka is worried about the sudden disappearance of the Doctor. Clara is, of course, used to that. But Priyanka has a point. If the sonic screwdriver, which was preventing their detection, is gone... As if to answer her question, more than half a dozen four-armed creatures descend on them from the ceiling.
Rani is telling the Doctor how, back in in Hyderabad, she loved a woman named Khair-un-Nissa Kapoor. After she was killed by a Thuggee, Rani devoted her life to hunting them down and killing them. She is a bit surprised to confide these thing in the Doctor, but he assures her that for him any love is better than any hate. He also gently warns her that this quest for revenge may rob her of the very things Khair valued in her. Meanwhile, they reach a huge cavernous room with a gigantic statue of a four-armed female figure holding four swords in each hand. Throughout the room, strange "demon-lights" with open mouths, are levitating in the air on anti-gravs.
Clara and Priyanka are running away from hideous four-armed assailants who call themselves "the chosen of Kali". They almost reach the TARDIS, when Clara is captured. She manages to throw the TARDIS key to Priyanka and tells her to talk to the TARDIS and make her take her to the Doctor.
When Rani and the Doctor reach the base of the statue, he realises it contains a necro-cloud, sentient life-forces harvested either for sustenance or to be stored as a power source. Rani can feel that Khair is in there too. The same four-armed creatures suddenly appear and prepare to attack them in the name of Kali. The Doctor notes that they must have stealth capabilities coded into their DNA.
Priyanka managed to lock herself in the TARDIS and, following Clara's advice, tries talking to the ship, like she did as a child. She asks to take her to the Doctor. The central column begins moving.
Rani and the Doctor are fighting the four-armed creatures, she with the pistols and sword, he by reprogramming the flying demon-lights. Just as they start thinking the opponents are winning, the Doctor recognises the sound of materialising TARDIS, and both make it to the safety of the ship. The Doctor introduces Rani and Priyanka, and the latter tells him the news about Clara being taken.
Fortress Scindia, Madhya Province, 2315
The four-armed creatures, who prefer to crawl over the ceiling, bring Clara to the rooms of Chandra Scindia himself. He takes her mobile phone and, over her protests, calls the Doctor.
Meanwhile the Doctor has brought Rani and Priyanka back to Tiger's apartment. Taking a photo of himself with Tiger from the wall, he accidentally turns on a holo-message recorded by Tiger in case of his death. In the message Tiger explains that he was hired by the Scindia family to find four swords of Kali, that Chandra Scindia provided him with a proof she really existed. He located the four temples where the swords had been hidden and attached their coordinates to the message. He also succeeded in retrieving three of the swords when he started hesitating in the Scindias' motives. Interestingly, the swords were protected by more than the usual death-traps of the ancients. There was also extra-terrestrial technology and killer androids. He felt a hint of evil when transferring the third sword to them. But the decision whether to return the fourth sword to the Scindias was taken from him. When he arrived at the fourth temple, it was in ruins, the sword was gone and two monstrous corpses were lying on the ground. The problem was that the Scindias didn't believe his story. Hence, he decided to contact the Doctor and record this holo-message as an extra insurance. He also wished his daughter to follow her heart and apologised for opposing her career before. As the message ends, the TARDIS telephone rings. This is the call from Chandra Scindia.
Before the interview with Sonam Scindia, a newsflash shows a wave of spaceships, each carrying thousands of families taking off towards Haven. They leave Earth to live in the orbital city to escape the problems plaguing the continent of India.
Chandra Scindia looks at the launching rockets from his window marvelling at human life, as the Doctor and Rani walk out of the TARDIS to negotiate. The Doctor is surprised as he thought Kaliratha such as are only interested in death. Chandra is surprised the Doctor has heard of Kaliratha. He did. Kaliratha were four-dimensional beings who styled themselves as deities to feed on the life-forces of their followers. They used totems, like Kali's four swords, to channel their four-dimensional powers. With them, they could slice through the fabric of time and space. Among other malevolent species, Kaliratha were wiped out or incarcerated after the Hyperion War. Chandra confirms that Kali was defeated, but they—her most loyal disciples, whom she granted immortality by lacing their genetic structures with her own DNA—have worked tirelessly towards her resurrection ever since. They just need the last sword, and Chandra wants the Doctor to procure it. The Doctor naturally refuses, but Karisma Scindia puts on the camera feed with Clara onscreen. Clara is tied under the nozzles of a rocket scheduled to launch in ten seconds. The Doctor is forced to agree to the deal, despite Rani's protestations. To avoid any chance of trickery on his part, Chandra sends Aamir and Karisma with them on the sword-retrieving mission.
After the Doctor, Rani, Aamir and Karisma leave in the TARDIS, two four-armed creatures bring Clara to the same gigantic statue of Kali that the Doctor and Rani found in 1825. Chandra informs here that her life was never really in danger because he has different plans for her. He wants her to host Kali upon her return to Earth. They lock Clara in a chamber at the bottom of the statue and release the souls of the dead into it. Thick violet smoke fills the chamber hiding Clara from view. Then four blue hands appear. As Chandra bows offering a sword, a figure exits the chamber; he tells his goddess they have also prepared her clothes. Its Clara, now possessed by Kali; she is now twice her height in the tattered remains of her outfit and possesses four arms, blue skin and glowing green eyes.
The Doctor leads Aamir and Karisma to the fourth Sword of Kali. They then transform into demons and threaten to use the sword on him. The Doctor then reveals that they have arrived two weeks before Tiger did, and that them taking the sword now is why he was unable to find it. He also recalls that Tiger found two "monstrous corpses", which he suggests are the corpses of Aamir and Karisma. The pair are then struck dead by a security system put in place by the Alliance of Races. The Doctor, Priyanka and Rani then flee from the security robot.
At Haven, Alia Bhonsla is reporting on a guided tour she is being given by Sonam Scindia. Sonam thanks the crew involved in building Haven, and introduces Roshan Ranjeev, India's most famous astronaut, who is now the deputy commander of Haven. Sonam then reveals her demon form before choking Roshan to death. Sonam then shuts down Haven's emergency systems and gravity core, causing all of its citizens to fly around as Haven begins to fall towards the Earth.
The Doctor explains that the Kaliratha are four-dimensional entities, and that they use the swords as conduits for their dimension-breaking powers. He then gives Priyanka a telepathic transmitter which will allow her to stay in constant communication with the Doctor via the TARDIS. Priyanka waits in the TARDIS while the Doctor and Rani return to Chandra with the fourth sword. Chandra explains that the citizens of Haven's lives will be channelled into the necro-cloud to feed the resurrection of the Goddess Kali, and reveals that Clara has been taken over by the spirit of Kali. Kali then demands that the Doctor bows before her.
The Doctor challenges Kali to take the fourth sword from him. Kali then fights the Doctor and Rani. During the fight, the Doctor gives Priyanka instructions for piloting the Haven via the telepathic transmitter. Kali takes the sword, only for the Doctor to reveal he has hidden his sonic screwdriver inside. Instead of murdering and enslaving people, the fourth sword now releases all of the souls Kali has captured. These escaping souls turn on Kali and destroy her. The spirit of Khair-un-Nissa tells Rani to find others to love. After Kali is defeated, Clara is left on the ground unharmed.
After successfully preventing the Haven from crash-landing, Priyanka thanks the Doctor. He tells her that her father would have been proud of her.
- Twelfth Doctor
- Clara Oswald
- Rani Jhulka
- Tiger Maratha
- Priyanka Maratha
- Sonam Scindia
- Chandra Scindia
- Aamir Scindia
- Vikas Scindia
- Karisma Scindia
- The Chosen of Kali
- Alia Bhonsla
- Roshan "Rockets" Ranjeev
- Acolytes of Thuggee
- Mumbai police officers
- Twelfth Doctor
- Clara Oswald
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Fourth Doctor
- Priyanka Maratha
- The Madhya Province is in India.
- The male traveler offers chapatis and dal to his fellow traveler.
- Indians call British sahibs.
- The roads in the Madhya Province are not safe because of dacoits and acolytes of Thuggee.
- The Twelfth Doctor repeats Little Red Riding Hood's words "what big teeth you have, grandma".
- Leonardo da Vinci reacts to the TARDIS telephone ringing by exclaiming "Dante's Inferno".
- The Doctor recalls disguising himself as a nun to escape the Church of Vindication's inquisitors.
- The Doctor is wondering if there are precogs police officers in Mumbai's.
- The police is investigating a complaint by Scindia-Corp.
- Seeing the vampiric-like cause of Tiger Maratha's death, a police officer calls the Doctor Nosferatu.
- Tiger Maratha's wife was killed in the Rama-16 space disaster.
- The Scindia family invested in the Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Mission in 2014.
- Vikas Scindia is a popular Bollywood leading man.
- According to the Twelfth Doctor, India in 1839 should smell of lotus flowers, jasmine, ripe mangos, flame-of-the-forest trees, burning fires, spices, and a tinge of cow dung.
- Worried whether Vikas is dead, the Doctor asks Rani Jhulka if her bullets were tipped with anti-matter, or packed with nano-explosives, or dipped in the venom of a Myrax-Six viper-skorpion.
- Rani asks if the Doctor is an agent of the British East India Company, the commercial arm of the British Empire.
- The Doctor quotes from Alice in Wonderland when he says, "Curiouser and curiouser".
- Rani and Khair-un-Nissa Kapoor agreed to meet at the Mallela Theertham Falls in Nallamala Forest.
- Hyderabad in India is ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad.
- Lanterns in Fortress Scindia in 1825 are equipped in anti-grav technology.
- To learn that Chandra Scindia is the Master of Thuggee, Rani dangled one of his dacoits over a tiger pit in Calcutta.
- Clara recalls unpleasant smells on the Northern line in summer.
- The phone number of the TARDIS is 95475949.
- Kali was renamed Okti, and the story therefore renamed The Swords of Okti, in the UK trade paperback and several other releases, despite Doctor Who Comic running the story unchanged. The list of correspondences between the versions can be found in the following table:
|The Swords of Kali||The Swords of Okti|
|deity/Hindu goddess||Celestial/avatar/celestial avatar|
|Hindu mythology||Indian history|
- Starting from Part 2, which was released in January 2015, the year 24th-century part of the story takes place in jumps from 2314 to 2315. No narrative explanation such as the proximity of the New Year is provided. In particular, the Doctor introduces Priyanka to Rani as "trainee astronaut, 2315" despite last seeing her in 2314.
- An image of Danny Pink appears on one panel; to date, it is his only appearance in a Titan comic story.
- Clara appears to be borrowing a shirt from Priyanka at the end of the story, as Kali's top was too big for her; immediately after Clara changes back, the Doctor lends her his coat to cover herself. Though it appears Clara kept Kali's trousers until she can get to the TARDIS wardrobe.
- Leonardo's words "For whom does that unearthly bell toll?" are a paraphrase of the title of the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
Original print details
to be added
- The Twelfth Doctor calls himself "more Scottish" than his previous incarnations. (TV: Deep Breath)
- Clara Oswald references multi-tasking her life, while thinking of Danny Pink. (TV: The Caretaker)
- The Doctor offers Priyanka Maratha jelly babies from his cigarette case. (TV: Mummy on the Orient Express)
- It is revealed that Clara was the model for the Mona Lisa. The Fourth Doctor was involved in an affair revolving around the painting (TV: City of Death) and an alien presence at one point took over the painting and caused havoc for Sarah Jane Smith. (TV: Mona Lisa's Revenge)
- The Doctor says he taught Harry Houdini everything he knows. On other occasions, he gave credit to Houdini for his escapology know-hows. (PROSE: The Sorcerer's Apprentice et al.)
- The Doctor mentions the Jagaroth. (TV: City of Death)
- Clara tells Priyanka to tell the TARDIS where to fly (TV: Hide) and she subsequently is granted access to the TARDIS' telepathic circuits. (TV: Listen)
- Clara, who as Kali grows to gigantic proportions, remarks that she enjoyed being taller without having to wear huge heels. (TV: Time Heist)
- In 1825, a Thuggee suggests an elderly woman might remember the time before the British took control, which happened 69 years earlier, in 1756. Since then, India has been run by the British East India Company on behalf of the British government. (PROSE: All-Consuming Fire)
- Leonardo da Vinci compares the Doctor's opinions with the eruption of Vesuvius. The Tenth Doctor was partially responsible for the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and managed to save only one family, that of Lobus Caecilius. (TV: The Fires of Pompeii) Later the Twelfth Doctor will remember that he took Caecilius' face during his last regeneration (TV: The Time of the Doctor) to remind himself to always save people. (TV: The Girl Who Died)
- Leonardo refers to the TARDIS telephone ringing as bells tolling. A monk in Cumbria in 1207 had a similar reaction and called it "the bells of Saint John" because of the sign on the side of the TARDIS. (TV: The Bells of Saint John)
- The Eleventh Doctor interacted with the Indian Space Agency in the 24th century to save Earth from the Silurian Ark. (TV: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)