Author's note:

This story came about because my son, who is a bigger DW fan than even me, had created some animated DW adventures using retro 1980's technology and posted them on line. I jokingly remarked that he should try to do a 'historical' and he jokingly replied that I should write one! The result was a three-part script, which is 'novelised' below.

This Doctor is a hypothetical one somewhere between McCoy and McGann. His companions are Bella (a kind of failed Auton) and the famous living snowman, Splinx (don't ask!)

THE QUEEN OF ALL BEAUTY

PART ONE

Handmaidens come, handmaidens go.

In the court of Queen Cleopatra of the Nile, they went more often than might be expected; usually into the lake outside the Queen's palace in Alexandria, weighed down by rocks. It was not that they were, as a breed, particularly clumsy or inefficient but the Queen was fickle and every so often she felt her beauty challenged.

The latest two had lasted longer than most. They were known as Handmaiden A and Handmaiden B – christened thus by the Queen as she felt their real names were rather too cute (although how the names 'Fetid' and 'Putrillo' could ever be considered cute remains beyond the realms of understanding).

On this day of days we find A and B attending to their Queen in the bedchamber of her Alexandrian palace. A was busy combing Cleopatra's dark bob and B fussed at the Queen's nails with a buffer.

The Queen herself stood immobile, transfixed by the radiant glory of her image in the full-length mirror.

"Am I not the fairest of all?" murmured the Queen.

Handmaiden A jumped in with a well-prepared response to this most rhetorical of questions. "Oh, mighty Cleopatra. Your skin glows like the sun and your hair is as silk."

The Queen cocked her head at this, nodding sage agreement "And will the great Mark Anthony succumb to my charms when he calls upon me this very day?"

B jumped in this time,"How can anyone resist, your majesty?" she said, in time to shining the royal fingernails.

"Then all Rome will be mine for the asking."

"Indeed, then you will truly be the Queen of All Beauty,"

Good old A, thought Cleopatra. The Queen smiled at her image in the mirror. She didn't see the cracked teeth or the crooked nose. She didn't see the wonky eyes or the flappy ears. She saw Queen Cleopatra of the Nile.

The Queen of All Beauty.

Elsewhere in the palace the Tardis announced its arrival with a roar of assembling molecules.

The Doctor was first out of the ship, confirming his view on the scanner that they were not in fact, on the beach at Weston-super-mare, but in a stylised corridor of some elegance.

He cast a quick glance over the fixtures and fittings, which included an upright sarcophagus, covered with gold-leaf hieroglyphics.

"Hmm. We appear to have arrived in the Ptolemaic period in Egypt. Unless I'm mistaken.

Bella and Splinx, standing at his side, were used to this kind of pronouncement from the Doctor by now, having travelled with him for some time.

Bella was a drop-dead gorgeous blond girl. Confident, erudite and prone to wander off (although she had yet to fall over and sprain her ankle). Her only minor fault was that her insides were made of plastic, as befitted a former servant of the Nestenes.

Splinx was an animatronic snowman, which is all you need to know, really.

"Looks like a boring old museum to me," said Bella, plunging into despond almost at once

The Doctor and Splinx were examining the sarcophagus and exchanging knowing looks.

"Don't wander off until I'm sure it's safe," said the Doctor.

But Bella didn't hear him. She had wandered off.

Captain Farad Ullah Baba Al-Rachman (thankfully known universally as 'Captain Fubar')

sat in the tiny alcove of the palace courtyard, sheltering from the fierce noon-day sun. He had fed and watered the Queen's favourite camel and was mightily annoyed that he had to do so.

He was after all, chief of palace security, but it seems that the Queen had written this into the job description. The last security chief to object had been found floating in the lake, his head and feet some half-a-mile apart. So Fubar fumed but raised no objection.

The camel couldn't care less as long as someone fed him. He was tethered by the far wall, eyeing Fubar with some disinterest, its jaws moving steadily from side to side.

As Fubar was contemplating a return to duty a pretty blond girl wandered out, shielding her eyes at the sun.

Fubar scrambled to his feet, eyes narrowing.

Pretty. She was undeniably pretty. She was also an outsider, dressed in an unknown fashion. Certainly not Egyptian. Fubar knew everyone in the palace. The word 'SPY' flashed up in his mind.

"Female! Stand still on pain of death!" Fubar used his most intimidating baritone, supported by a swishing of his sword as he approached the girl.

"I'm doing no harm," said the girl, eyes darting this way and that. "I was only looking to top-up my tan. I'll go if you like." She half-turned away, towards the door back into the palace but Fubar grabbed her arm.

"Are there more of you?" he asked. He was suddenly alarmed. Not today of all days...

"Er...no." The girl was rattled and answered rather too quickly.

Fubar led her towards the door. "I will take you to the Queen. She will want to question one as...fair...as you."

He dragged Bella through a labyrinth of corridors and up stairs until he pushed her into an ornate chamber.

There stood two women, gobsmacked.

"I found her in the courtyard," said Fubar. " Hold her for the Queen. I am going to look for others." Fubar turned on his heel and exited at pace.

The two women were amongst the ugliest that Bella had ever seen, and she had met a lot of creatures since travelling with the Doctor, so that's saying something.

Handmaiden A took Bella by the arm and looked closely at her with crossed -eyes.

"Oh, she's not going to like this..."

"One so fair," said B, through her protruding over-bite.

"What are you talking about?" asked Bella.

"The Queen surrounds herself with women like us." There was a knowing sadness in A's voice.

"Like you?" Bella thought she may already know the answer to her question.

"Well she didn't select us for our beauty -" B shut up as a gong sounded and a woman in long robes swept into the room. She paused as she saw Bella then peered at her, like a hunting dog.

Dog being the operative word, thought Bella. Another one to add to the list of the afflicted in this benighted place!

"An intruder...here to steal my Mark Anthony away from me you harlot!"

And her breath stinks as well, thought Bella. Hold on, what did she just call me?

"Who are you calling a harlot, Pig-Face?" Bella's blood was up.

Handmaiden A screamed and B tottered in a near-faint at this lese-majeste.

Cleopatra took a step back, as if struck." You blaspheme! I am Cleopatra, reincarnation of the goddess Isis. I am the Queen of all that is Beautiful."

Bella was enjoying herself, pricking the bubble of this particular conceit. "So the history books say. Seems they were wrong!"

More squeaks from the trembling Handmaidens.

The Queen reached into a small casket by her bedside, extracting a hissing green asp. She advanced on Bella with the thing held out in front of her.

Bella tried to back away but the Handmaidens gripped her arms.

"Your sacrilege means death." whispered the Queen.

The asp was almost in Bella's face. She wasn't enjoying this any more.

"BELLA !" called the Doctor, surprising the tethered camel in the courtyard. "Why do they always wander off?"

"It's in the job-description of your female companions," trilled Splinx, at his side.

In the alcove, Captain Fubar's eyes widened as looked at first the Doctor, then the Devil-Creature at his side. He had secreted himself here again, hoping to find more intruders but he could not have envisaged this.

Fubar un-slung the spear from his back and stepped forward with undeniable bravery in the face of the supernatural.

"What in the heavens is that?" The Doctor and Splinx both half-turned at Fubar's words. "Begone, Devil-Creature!"

The spear flew unerringly across the courtyard, hitting a surprised Splinx dead centre.

There was a tinkling sound and glass shards fell from the snowman, who staggered back.

"Oh no!" Splinx trilled in shock.

"What is it?" said the Doctor.

"My stasis unit is disabled! " Splinx held up his arm. Water was dripping from it as the merciless sun beat down.

The Doctor didn't know much about his frosty companion but knew enough to know that his frozen form was held in place by an internal stasis unit which regulated his temperature even in climates such as this.

Helplessly he watched as his friend disappeared before his eyes. In no time at all Splinx was nothing but a puddle, soaking into the sand of the courtyard!

PART TWO

"SPLINX!"

The Doctor snatched up a filament crystal box from the sand. It was about the size of a fist, rectangular and its centre had been shattered by Captain Fubar's spear.

"Look what you've done!" he said, angrily, looking up at the chief of palace security.." This was the only thing holding him together!"

Fubar gazed down impassively, almost snug."I was only doing my duty and defending my Queen, Cleopatra from her enemies. You will come with me!"

The Doctor bent over the puddle that had once been his friend. "Oh, Splinx!"

As Fubar reached down for him the Doctor shovelled up a handful of dry sand and threw it into Fubar's eyes. He fell back cursing and the Doctor leaped at the blinded man, giving him an almighty two-handed shove to the chest.

Captain Fubar staggered across the courtyard, trying to keep his balance. He succeeded only in falling into the flank of the tethered camel at the far wall.

Whether it was the camel seizing its chance or mere serendipity, it lashed out like a bucking bronco with his left hind leg, catching Fubar on the temple with its hoof. Fubar went down like a sack of potatoes, stunned.

"Bravo!" said the Doctor, approvingly. He crouched by the puddle, which was beginning to evaporate. "There's just a chance that I can reconstitute you, old fellow, if I act quickly enough. We need some Artron energy from the Tardis and a jewel to replace your broken crystal. First we need somewhere to store you before you evaporate completely. But where..."

The Doctor glanced frantically around the courtyard for some kind of receptacle but there was none. Or was there...His eyes focused on the camel and, more specifically, its hump!

He ran over to the camel and untethered it. Staring deeply into the limpid dark eyes of the beast he planted a hypnotic suggestion – a Time Lord trick. "You are very thirsty...very thirsty..."

He led the camel across the courtyard, where it lapped at the puddle of water in the sand voraciously. When the water had gone the Doctor patted the camel's hump and pressed against it. "The ship of the desert," he whispered." I don't suppose you can hear me, Splinx, but you should be safe in there for now. I've got an hour at most before you are lost forever. But where am I going to get that replacement crystal in this place?"

An image ran across his mind. It was Fubar, speaking. 'I was only doing my duty and defending my Queen, Cleopatra from her enemies.'

"Cleopatra! The famed Jewel of Isis! That should fit the bill !"

The Doctor re-tethered the camel. "Hang on in there, Splinx. I'll be back!"

"I bloomin' well hope so!" thought the essence of his friend from his dark, burbling hidey-hole as the Doctor ran hell-for- leather back into the palace.

Just as it seemed the asp was about to strike Handmaiden A suddenly interposed herself between Bella and the serpent.

"Mistress, stop!"

Astonished by the effrontery, Cleopatra lowered the asp. "What is the meaning of this? Out of my way!"

"Mistress. I have just had a brilliant idea!"

"It had better be good enough to save your life you miserable wretch! Explain yourself."

A took a deep breath. "Your majesty, you wish a liaison with Mark Anthony. One which will bring you unlimited power over all Rome."

"And?"

"He is reputed to be the most handsome man of the civilized world. And yet you..."

"Don't say it!" wailed Handmaiden B, with genuine terror.

"I am the Queen of All Beauty. We will make a fine pair."

"My lady...look in the mirror along with the prisoner."

Frowning, the Queen stood alongside Bella, looking at their reflections. They stayed in that position for a very long time before a single tear trickled from the Queen's left eye and rolled onto her cheek. Cleopatra reached for a nearby goblet and dashed it bodily against the mirror, shattering it.

"I'M UGLY!" she wailed."Mark Anthony will never be my consort!"

"That's my idea," said Handmaiden A. "Let this beautiful girl greet Mark Anthony in your guise!"

There was a charged silence as the Queen pulled herself out of the shock of her revelation. "Hmm," she said."It might just work at that. Once he is bewitched I will pull all the strings. The power behind the throne."

"Hold on a mo," said Bella. "Don't I get a say in all this?"

"Not really," said Cleopatra.

Bella folded her arms defiantly."Well, I'm not going to do it!"

Handmaiden A wafted a posy of herbs under the girl's nose. "The fragrance of Morpho will make her pliant to your bidding, Your Majesty."

Bella's eyes closed.

"You are a resourceful one, Handmaiden," said Cleopatra. (A little too resourceful, she thought. The Lake of Alexandria will be receiving a new occupant after this day). The Queen turned to Bella and spoke soothingly...hypnotically in the girl's ear. "You are Cleopatra of the Nile; re-incarnation of the goddess Isis...and you will do my will..."

The Doctor was beginning to despair. It was as if he was caught in a vast game of hide-and-seek in this maze of a palace. He had to hide repeatedly from guards as they marched down corridors, pressing himself into an alcove here, or behind a wall-drape there. He was trying to ascend to the upper levels, where he figured he might find the Queen's apartments.

He glanced desperately at his gold-hunter and saw that time was running out for Splinx. "Come on, Cleo. Where are you?"

He dived behind a huge ornamental urn as Handmaidens A and B shuffled around the corner, side by side. A was carrying an elegant turquoise robe, carefully folded in the crook of her arm. "This is her Majesty's finest robe."

"She will look radiant. The famed Jewel of Isis tiara will complement it perfectly," said B as they drew level with the Doctor's hiding place.

"Mark Anthony will be putty in her hands."

As they hurried off the Doctor emerged, rubbing his hands together. "Mark Anthony? The Jewel of Isis? Cleo here I come!" He hurried off after the two handmaidens.

The Doctor had concealed himself behind an ornate wall-drape outside The Queen's bedchamber. It hadn't been easy following the handmaidens to this point. He had nearly been caught on a couple of occasions as Egyptian soldiers roamed hither and thither.

He was fretting now as the handmaidens had been inside the Queen's chamber for a good quarter of an hour. Time was slipping away for Splinx in his unique predicament and the Doctor had just about decided to risk all and barge in regardless when the door opened and the two handmaidens emerged backwards, bowing and scraping.

"Your majesty looks radiant..."

"A glittering jewel of the Nile..."

They closed the door and made off down the corridor and around the corner.

The Doctor emerged from his hiding place. "Well, I've no time to stand on ceremony."

He barged through the door into Cleopatra's ornate bedchamber. The Queen stood in front of a mirror. A broken mirror.

The Doctor cleared his throat. "I am sorry for this intrusion, your majesty, but time does not permit formality. I am the Doctor and I am here to relieve you of the famed Jewel of Isis."

The Queen turned slowly to face him and the Doctor jumped with surprise.

"Bella! What are you doing here, dressed like that?"

Bella's eyes flickered momentarily. When she spoke her voice was a quiet monotone.

"No...not Bella. I am Cleopatra, Queen of All Beauty."

PART THREE

The Doctor knew a trance when he saw one. He waved his hand across his friend's face and snapped his fingers at her, It looked like a deep one. A spinning mirror and the old Venusian lullaby was called for but he didn't have the time. The sight of the famed Jewel of Isis glittering in the tiara on Bella's head reminded him of the urgency of Spinx's predicament.

"Sorry, Bella. No time to spare!" He snatched the tiara from her head. There was no reaction. "I'll be back for you later."

He turned to go but found himself face to face with Cleopatra, who had crept up behind him from her hiding place in an ante-room, leading off the bedchamber. In her outstretched hand was - you guessed it - her hissing, spitting favourite pet.

"So, we have a common thief amongst us!" The words spat from her goofy teeth.

""Er, Queen Cleopatra, I presume," said the Doctor, backing away. "Your portraits do not do you justice." He reached a wall and stopped, the asp inches from his face.

"Do not mock me, thief. My eyes have been opened this day. Just as one kiss from my pet will close yours – FOREVER!"

The asp arched, ready to strike.

TINKLE!

Cleopatra's eyes rolled up into her head and she slumped senseless to the floor at the Doctor's feet. The asp slithered off under the bed thinking maybe that today wasn't his day after all.

Standing over Cleopatra, remains of a broken vase in hand, was a smiling imposter Queen.

" Bella! I thought you were under a spell !"

"Naah. They tried to use some kind of herbal vapour on me but it didn't work, I just played along with old sour-puss here."

The Doctor's eyes narrowed. Bella's plastic-based physiognomy had saved her.

"Where's Splinx?" asked the girl.

"He's kind of got the hump at the moment," responded the Doctor, hearing a mental cymbal clash accompany his lame joke.

"Eh?"

"You'd never believe me. But he's in trouble and we need this jewel to get him out of it. Come on!"

The Doctor grabbed Bella's arm and they left the bedchamber running.

Captain Fubar got to his feet groggily and looked daggers at the placid camel in the courtyard.

"You will be kebab before this day is out, my friend. But first I must attend to the Queen's safety." He staggered into the palace, tenderly rubbing a lump the size of a golf ball on his forehead. He accosted two passing soldiers. "You two, guard that courtyard entrance. Let nothing or nobody in or out. Understand?"

The soldiers saluted, fist to shoulder and took up their positions as Fubar made off for the Queen's bedchamber on unsteady legs.

The Doctor and Bella observed the guarded doorway to the courtyard from their hiding place behind a bronze statue with some dismay. They had dodged and weaved their way back with some alacrity, only to find the exit guarded by two stout men of the palace retinue.

"We need to get out there quickly," hissed the Doctor.

"Leave this to me." Bella took the Isis tiara and placed it on her head before emerging to stride regally towards the two guards.

"Guards! You know who I am?"

The men scanned her, noting the royal attire and the glittering bejewelled tiara on her head. The snapped to attention as one.

"Yes, Your Majesty!" they chorused.

"Murderous assassins have been located in my very bedchamber. Attend at once!"

The guards saluted and ran off in step. As they went, one said to the other."That's the first time I've seen her close-up. A lot better than the lads told me..." The other nodded his agreement.

The Doctor emerged from his hiding place. "Well done, Bella. Bring that vase from the plinth over there would you. We're going to need a receptacle."

He took the tiara from the girl and used his sonic screwdriver to prise out the central glittering jewel. After a little gentle persuasion the Doctor managed to insert the jewel into Splinx's statis unit, which he had pulled from his jacket pocket.

"Good, it fits."

They went out into the courtyard where its only occupant, the camel, regarded them with disinterest. Bella went over to stroke its nose which it found quite agreeable, all in all, and certainly not worthy of one of its trademark kicks.

The Doctor took the vase and disappeared behind the camel's rear end.

"Bella. We need to frighten it."

"Eh?"

"Scare it. Shout Boo or something!"

"Boo."

"Louder!"

"BOO!" Bella jumped back as the camel lurched up, wild-eyed.

Bella heard a steady stream of liquid flow into the vase held by the Doctor. She wrinkled her nose. (The Essence of Splinx suddenly felt a shift in his rather comfortable location)

The Doctor emerged from behind the camel with a frothing vase full of liquid.

"All we need now is Artron energy from the Tardis. Come on, Bella. Only minutes left!"

Queen Cleopatra awoke furious as Fubar gently slapped her face.

"Thank you, Fubar. That will be quite enough. I don't want any bruising to my beauty -" She broke off as she remembered that she was, in fact, pig-ugly. "What is happening?"

The whole palace guard is roused, your majesty. We will find them -"

Fubar broke off as running footsteps approached. The pair of guards misdirected by Bella burst into the room.

"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Fubar

"Captain! We were directed here by the Queen herself, at the courtyard door!"

Cleopatra staggered to her feet. "Fools! It was an imposter. Come quickly! I'll have your heads for this..."

As they rushed out one soldier whispered to the other,"The lads were right after all. Phew, what a minger!"

The Doctor handed the vase full of you-know-what to Bella as he fumbled with the Tardis key.

"Doctor, Quick!" yelled Bella, as hurried footsteps approached. The Queen, Fubar and the two soldiers hove into view around the corner, pulling up with surprise at the sight of the police box.

The Doctor ushered Bella inside ,and waved a cheery hand to the Queen, at the same time tossing the jewel-less tiara at her feet.

"Apologies, your majesty, but my need is greater. I'm sure you'll find a replacement."

The door slammed shut.

As the Tardis' engines roared into life the two soldiers hurled their spears at it but they clattered uselessly against the far wall as the Tardis faded away.

For a moment the little group blinked, uncomprehending, at the place where the police box had stood. Then the Queen turned her head. "They've escaped. What did I say about your heads?"

Fubar cleared his throat, about to speak when Handmaidens A and B bustled up, hands wringing, in a state of high excitement.

"Your Majesty! He is here. Mark Anthony has arrived and awaits your pleasure!" twittered A.

"The throne-room is ready, Your Majesty," said B.

Cleopatra felt a sinking feeling in her guts. "Oh curse this day!"

The Doctor stood at the central control console, adjusting switches and aligning controls with the precision of a quantity surveyor.

"Will it work?" asked Bella, anxiously.

"I'm not sure if we caught him in time. The Artron energy is used when reconfiguring the Tardis. The stasis unit should retain a pattern for Splinx in its memory core. A kind of after-image...right. I'm ready. Pop the unit into the vase please."

Bella did so.

"Fingers crossed..."

The Doctor threw a big switch. The lighting in the room flickered on and off. Lightening forks of many colours struck the vase which stood alone near the hatstand.

The vase began to swell then burst into fragments. First there was a snowball, then a bigger snowball. Eyes, arms legs and a mouth appeared.

The lighting returned to normal. The Doctor and Bella held their breath,

"Whoo...WHAT A RUSH!" trilled Splinx."Thanks, Doctor."

The Doctor waved his hand dismissively, as if he had just been thanked for holding a door open for someone.

"Are you OK ?" asked Bella.

"Fine. But I'd rather not talk about some of the places I've been today. Why are you dressed like that, Bella? Off to a ball?"

"Long story," said the girl. "Doctor?"

"Hmm?"

"The history books say that Cleopatra and Mark Anthony were an item. They ruled together; had children. Haven't we just mucked that all up? Changed it?"

The Doctor turned away from the controls to face his friends. He gave them a big wink.

"I think we can let history take care of itself."

The throne-room was packed. At one end of the red carpet that cut through the assembly sat Cleopatra, dressed in her robes of state, sitting on a massive gilt throne. She was veiled and her eyes downcast.

At the other stood a tall man, dressed in Roman armour.

There was a flourish of trumpets.

"His Excellency, Mark Anthony. Consul of Rome!" announced a herald.

"I have travelled far for this moment, my lady. Your beauty is renowned the world over."

The Queen looked up and lowered her veil. "Then, my lord, your journey has been in vain. See the truth of my ugliness and you will be gone within the blink of an eye." A fat tear rolled down the Queen's cheek.

Mark Anthony, the handsomest of the handsome, stepped forward for a better look. He squinted through his cross-eyes, and stroked his miss-shaped chin. His jug-ears twitched and his nose, broken and twisted, sniffed above his protruding overbite.

"Oh, I dunno. I've seen worse."

THE END