MARCO POLO

EPISODE 7 - ASSASSIN AT PEKING

by JOHN LUCAROTTI

first broadcast - 4th April 1964

 


1. THE ROAD TO KARAKORUM

(IAN and PING-CHO have confronted KUIJU about the stolen TARDIS.)

IAN: Tegana ...

(Suddenly, TEGANA appears in the clearing, clutching his sword. PING-CHO screams as TEGANA grabs hold of her. IAN moves the dagger further towards KUIJU's throat as TEGANA moves closer.)

I'll kill him.

(TEGANA waves his sword impassively.)

TEGANA: Do so. He is of no importance.

(IAN hesitates as he moves the dagger millimetres from KUIJU's throat ...)

Come ... come ...

(TEGANA tightens his grip on PING-CHO.)

IAN: Will the mighty War Lord kill a child as well?

TEGANA: If in my way, as you are.

IAN: And Kublai Khan? Is he in your way too?

TEGANA: I serve Noghai. And with that, he will rule the world.

(TEGANA indicates the TARDIS.)

IAN: Only the Doctor can make that work.

TEGANA: Noghai's sorcerers will reveal its secrets. Now, enough of this game.

(TEGANA extends his sword, just as LING-TAU and a group of warriors burst into the clearing.)

LING-TAU: Disarm them!

(The warriors quickly move through the party, confiscating IAN's dagger and TEGANA's sword. KUIJU suddenly makes a run for freedom ...)

Stop him!

(One of the warriors quickly intercepts KUIJU, and delivers the bandit a fatal blow with a sword. Kuiju cries out in agony ...)

(to the warrior) You fool! I did not command his death.

TEGANA: (to LING-TAU) My name is Tegana - the War Lord. Get rid of these men.

(TEGANA indicates the warriors surrounding him.)

LING-TAU: I am Ling-Tau, captain and courier in the great Khan's service.

(TEGANA indicates IAN, PING-CHO, and the TARDIS.)

TEGANA: They were trying to steal the Khan's property.

IAN: That's not true.

(LING-TAU looks uncertainly at IAN and PING-CHO ...)

LING-TAU: I remember both of you. You were with Messr Marco Polo's caravan.

PING-CHO: (pointing to TEGANA) He is the thief - we caught him with that.

LING-TAU: Pardon me, my lady. I have not the authority to judge in this dispute. It's a matter for the great Khan.

TEGANA: Then take us to Shang-Tu.

LING-TAU: The great Khan has left the summer palace at Shang-Tu, my Lord. You will see him in Peking.


2. PEKING PALACE - THRONE ROOM

(Marco POLO's party has arrived at Kublai KHAN's Peking palace. In the throne room of the palace, the DOCTOR and Kublai KHAN are playing backgammon. Kublai shakes his head in amazement as the DOCTOR wins yet again ...)

DOCTOR: My game?

THE KHAN: You're too good for us at backgammon.

(The DOCTOR chuckles.)

Tea?

DOCTOR: Please.

(The KHAN rings a small bell. One of the servants strides forward to serve the KHAN and the DOCTOR.) .

THE KHAN: (noticing the DOCTOR has kept notes) Oh, that is our reckoning?

DOCTOR: Ah, yes it is, sire, yes.

THE KHAN: What do we owe?

DOCTOR: (placing on his spectacles) Oh, thirty-five elephants with ceremonial bridles, trappings, brocades and pavillions; four thousand white stallions, and twenty-five tigers.

THE KHAN: That's not too bad, so far.

DOCTOR: And the sacred tooth of Buddha which Polo brought over from India.

THE KHAN: Oh, that? What else ... what more?

DOCTOR: I ... I'm very much afraid all the commerce from Burma for one year, sire.

(Suddenly, there are the sounds of someone approaching. The KHAN becomes terrified, as he realises that the DOCTOR's notes are still on the table.)

THE KHAN: Oh, the Empress - hide it, hide it!

(The DOCTOR quickly pockets the notes, as the EMPRESS makes a grand entrance into the room.)

EMPRESS: Winning, my love?

THE KHAN: (smiling broadly) One wins, one loses, my dear.

DOCTOR: The great Khan is far too modest, my lady.

EMPRESS: (suspiciously) You're not wagering are you? You know how it affects your gout.

(Kublai KHAN merely smiles, unable to respond. With a haughty look, the EMPRESS strides from the room. Kublai Khan winces as another stab of pain passes through his body.)

DOCTOR: How charming!

THE KHAN: Charming indeed, and yet there are moments, old friend, when we wish... our character were more like that of our lamented grandfather, Genghis. Did you hear of him?

DOCTOR: Genghis Khan? No, I didn't meet him, I ... but I have heard of him. Yes.

THE KHAN: Oh ... he was the warrior of the family. Nothing frightened him. We are the clan of the statistician and the administrator ...

(Kublai's attention turns back to the backgammon game ...)

Oh, she will be furious with me when she finds out what I have lost.

DOCTOR: Oh, then you've lost nothing, sire.

THE KHAN: No, no, no. These are bets of honour.

DOCTOR: Well, one more game then, and if you win, you can take it all back again.

THE KHAN: And if you win?

DOCTOR: Well ... err .... Marco Polo has taken away my caravan and given it to you, sire. Ah ... if I win, perhaps I could have my caravan back again?

THE KHAN: No, not that. No, take something else. The Island of Sumatra - we can't give you Marco's gift. We haven't even seen it yet.

DOCTOR: But none of this is important to me, sire. You see, win or lose, you can have it all back again. But if I win, my ship... TARDIS comes back to me, hmm?

THE KHAN: (impatient to return to the game) Let's play at that stake.

(Just as they are about to start another game, there is a knock at the door.)

Oh, go away!

POLO: (from outside the room) It's Marco Polo, my Lord.

THE KHAN: (to the DOCTOR) Oh, Marco Polo. Well, would you object to one interruption?

DOCTOR: No, no, no.

THE KHAN: Enter.

(Marco POLO strides into the room, holding a scrolled parchment.)

We are too busy for that, Marco. Be brief please. Be brief.

POLO: As my lord commands. The War Lord Tegana has arrived in Peking. When he reaches the palace, shall I bring him directly to you?

THE KHAN: No. No, we'll grant him an audience as soon as possible. Oh, we want to tell you something Marco. We owe half of Asia to our friend at backgammon.

POLO: It is unusual for you to lose, my Lord.

THE KHAN: Oh ... he is a fortunate one! But our friend here made a truly royal gesture which we have accepted, although it might upset you.

POLO: Why should it do that?

THE KHAN: (indicating the backgammon board) That's our last game. Our losses against your gift to me.

POLO: (aghast) The caravan?

DOCTOR: Ah yes, Marco, we're playing for the TARDIS ...

POLO: But my Lord ...

THE KHAN: Well?

POLO: (solemnly) Nothing, my Lord. I will leave you to your game.

(The DOCTOR chuckles as POLO leaves the room dejectedly. The final game of backgammon commences ... both the DOCTOR and the KHAN reach for the dice.)

DOCTOR: My throw!

THE KHAN: But ... yes, your throw.


3. PEKING PALACE - OUTSIDE THE THRONE ROOM

(Outside the throne room, POLO meets up with BARBARA and SUSAN.)

POLO: You will not believe this, but I swear it's true. They're playing backgammon for your caravan.

BARBARA & SUSAN: What!

POLO: If the Doctor wins, he has won back "TARDIS".

BARBARA: And if he loses?

POLO: He's lost everything.

SUSAN: Oh, Grandfather will win. I hope ...

POLO: The sly old fox - the Khan hasn't even seen it yet, and he's taking it away from me.

BARBARA: Then, this will solve everything. You've made your gesture and given the TARDIS to the Khan, so he should let you go home. And with any luck, we can go home too. So we'll all have what we want.

SUSAN: Yes, all except Ping-Cho.

POLO: Yes, I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about her, Susan. Her future husband is already in Peking.

SUSAN: What in the palace?

POLO: Yes, there is to be a banquet tonight in his honour, at which six thousand guests will attend.

SUSAN: Six thousand!

POLO: He's a very important man.

BARBARA: He must be! When is the wedding?

POLO: Tomorrow morning.

SUSAN: Poor Ping-Cho ...

(At that moment, LING-TAU strides into the room.)

LING-TAU: My lord, Polo.

POLO: Yes?

(POLO peers closely at LING-TAU.)

Oh, you're the courier who brought me the message from Shang-Tu, aren't you?

LING-TAU: I am my Lord.

POLO: It's a pleasure to see you again.

LING-TAU: No my Lord, I fear not.

POLO: Why? What is wrong?

LING-TAU: Two members of your party, the lord known as Ian, and the lady, Ping-Cho, are being held under guard.

POLO: Why?

LING-TAU: They're accused of stealing the Khan's property.

BARBARA: The TARDIS.

(LING-TAU nods.)

POLO: Well, who accuses them?

BARBARA: Tegana!

LING-TAU: Yes, my lady.

BARBARA: That man!

SUSAN: Wait! But Grandfather's going to win back the TARDIS, so no charges can be brought.

POLO: Susan, you don't take your prize until you win the game.

(At that moment, the DOCTOR strolls into the room, with a weary expression on his face.)

SUSAN: Grandfather!

(The DOCTOR remains silent, continuing to keep the pained expression on his face.)

Grandfather, you've not lost?

DOCTOR: (waving a paper note) He gave me this - the consolation prize. A piece of his paper currency.

(The DOCTOR chuckles wryly as he waves the money about.)

SUSAN: Oh, grandfather!

(The DOCTOR continues to chuckle.)


4. PEKING PALACE - PRISON CELL

(POLO and LING-TAU are talking to IAN and PING-CHO in the prison cell. POLO has just heard the full version of events from IAN's point-of-view.)

POLO: You have told me all?

IAN: Everything from the moment I found Ping-Cho.

POLO: And you distinctly heard Tegana say that the Khan was his enemy?

IAN: Yes, Tegana said 'I serve Noghai, and he will conquer the world.' Ping-Cho heard it as well.

PING-CHO: Distinctly, Messr Marco.

POLO: (turning to Ling-Tau) Ling-Tau, did you hear this?

LING-TAU: No, my lord. I did not.

POLO: That's a pity.

IAN: You mean our word isn't strong enough against Tegana's?

PING-CHO: There are two of us, Messr Marco.

POLO: No, Ping-Cho. Ian must stand trial alone.

PING-CHO: Why?

POLO: Your husband-to-be has asked the Khan to excuse you. He promises to take you away from Peking as soon as the marriage ceremony is over.

PING-CHO: And the Khan has agreed?

POLO: You are to be married tomorrow morning.


5. PEKING PALACE - THE THRONE ROOM

(The TARDIS has been brought into the throne room. Kublai KHAN and TEGANA are inspecting it.)

THE KHAN: So this is our flying caravan! Thank you for recovering it for us, Lord Tegana.

TEGANA: Good fortune gave me the opportunity of serving the great Khan.

THE KHAN: The lady Ping-Cho has been excused of complicity in the theft.

TEGANA: The Khan shows much wisdom and compassion. What crimes she committed were done under the influence of others.

THE KHAN: Crimes! Who else was there?

TEGANA: The old magician, my lord, tried several times to regain the caravan.

THE KHAN: (surprised) Were there other attempts to steal it? Marco did not mention them to us.

TEGANA: Is that not natural, my lord, that he would wish to guard them?

THE KHAN: You have served us well.

TEGANA: In dealings with Mongols, like ourselves, yes my lord, but he is as they are. And does not one's loyalty first lie with one's own kind?

THE KHAN: Your point is taken, Lord Tegana.

(POLO enters the throne room.)

Marco, thank you for our gift.

POLO: I am the Khan's obedient servant.

THE KHAN: We are glad to know. But then, there were other attempts to steal the caravan? Why did you not invoke our laws?

POLO: To have done so would have been unjust, my lord. Our laws are alien to them.

THE KHAN: They were on our soil, therefore, subject to our laws. Why did you not invoke them?

POLO: The caravan belonged to them, my lord.

TEGANA: (impatiently) My lord, I can hold my peace no longer. Forgive me.

(turning to POLO) How can that be? You claimed it in the Khan's name?

POLO: It was wrong of me to do so.

TEGANA: You wear the Khan's gold seal. It gives you your authority to take what you will.

POLO: When the cause is just. This was not.

THE KHAN: What was it then?

POLO: Selfish.

THE KHAN: What did you hope to gain?

TEGANA: He wanted to force you to let him return to Venice.

THE KHAN: (shocked) You wanted to bribe us, Marco?

POLO: I'd hoped you would allow me to return home, my lord.

THE KHAN: Your gift has failed. It is ours because we won the right to keep it in a game of chance. Where is the key?

POLO: In my quarters, my lord.

THE KHAN: Bring it to us after the banquet, and then, we'll examine our prize.

POLO: (sadly) My lord, you do me a great wrong.

THE KHAN: We are distressed and angered by your conduct, Marco. Please think about it.

(POLO dejectedly leaves the throne room.)

You'll also attend us after the banquet, Lord Tegana. We'll discuss the terms of our settlement with Noghai. But we ... be on guard against you.

TEGANA: (surprised) What have I that the Khan should fear?

THE KHAN: The power of persuasion.


6. PEKING PALACE - THE THRONE ROOM (LATER THAT EVENING)

(Later in the throne room, Kublai KHAN is with the EMPRESS. The EMPRESS is crying, and wiping her eyes with a silk handkerchief.)

THE KHAN: And in the middle of the feast! How shall we tell her? Terrible! Horrible! Terrible and horrible! Horrible and terrible!

(PING-CHO enters the room. The Khan immediately takes her hand kindly.)

Oh, here you are, my child. Come, we have something to tell you. A tragedy has occurred at the table tonight.

PING-CHO: Tragedy, my lord?

THE KHAN: Your beloved husband-to-be so anxious to be worthy of your love, drank a potion of quicksilver and sulphur - the elixir of life and eternal youth - and expired.

EMPRESS: (in tears) Come into my arms, child. Let me share your grief.

THE KHAN: You're overdoing it, my dear, the child is dry eyed.

EMPRESS: (outraged) Oh, ungrateful wretch! Do you not weep for your lost love?

PING-CHO: My lady, I grieve an old man's death as all would do. But how can I weep for a love I have never known?

THE KHAN: Tell us Ping-Cho, do you wish to return to your home in Samarkand? Or would you like to stay a while in our Court and brighten all our days?

(At that moment, POLO and LING-TAU enter the throne room. PING-CHO looks at LING-TAU with a look of wonder in her face and then turns back towards the KHAN.)

PING-CHO: If I may, my lord, I would like to stay.

THE KHAN: So be it.

(The KHAN notices POLO for the first time.)

Wait, Marco.

(turning back to PING-CHO)

Tell us, my child, your opinion of the travellers from a distant land?

PING-CHO: They are my friends, my lord. As they will always be.

THE KHAN: Thank you, Ping-Cho.

(to POLO) Wait, Marco. Let that young officer escort lady Ping-Cho to her quarters.

(It seems that the KHAN had got the look. LING-TAU nods, and escorts PING-CHO back to her quarters. The EMPRESS leaves as well. KHAN is left alone with POLO.)

She is forthright and honest. We trust her, as we once did you. Our mind dwells upon your conduct, Marco, and we've decided that you have to prove yourself worthy of our trust. If you fail this to do, we take from you our patronage, banish you from our Court, and let your enemies fall upon you. You have the key of the caravan?

POLO: Yes, my lord. But you would be well advised to have the Doctor with you when you open it.

THE KHAN: Fetch him, Marco, fetch him. No, wait! Not until our audience with the Lord Tegana is concluded.

(POLO bows, and walks off. He meets TEGANA on the way out.)

POLO: I underestimated you, Tegana.

TEGANA: No ... you overestimated yourself.

(POLO and TEGANA glare silently at each other.)


7. PEKING PALACE - PRISON CELL

(In the prison cell, IAN is talking with the DOCTOR, BARBARA and SUSAN.)

SUSAN: The Khan won't even see us.

DOCTOR: (grumpily)No, we've tried everything.

BARBARA: What's Tegana's game?

IAN: Well, we can be quite clear about that. Tegana said "I serve Noghai, and he will conquer the world", with the help of the TARDIS.

DOCTOR: I always knew Tegana was a two-faced villain.

SUSAN: Yes, well that doesn't help Ian, does it? He's got to take the blame.

BARBARA: I wish I could remember what it was the Khan said that upset Marco so much.

IAN: What's it matter now?

BARBARA: Well, it was something about Noghai and Tegana.

SUSAN: I'm sure Tegana was behind that bandit raid. But why?

DOCTOR: It wasn't just my ship then. Whatever double-game Tegana is playing, he must have decided upon a long time before we appeared on the scene.

BARBARA: I remember!

DOCTOR: Hmmm?

BARBARA: The Khan was furious because Noghai had moved his armies from Samarkand to Karakorum.

DOCTOR: And that's why he delayed Marco Polo's caravan - to give Noghai more time to move his armies nearer Peking.

IAN: Yes, that makes sense. Even so, why should Kublai Khan fear Noghai? He has an enormous army, and he's already defeated him once, surely.

DOCTOR: Yes, but what you have to take into account where battles are concerned, dear boy, are its leaders. Kill the leader, and where are you? What happens? The whole army dissipates itself into chaos and utter confusion. It's happened throughout your history time and time again!

SUSAN: Grandfather, do you mean to say Tegana's going to assassinate the Khan?

DOCTOR: Exactly, and what could be a better answer then to disorganise everything here. It gives Noghai the perfect answer to overrun the country.

BARBARA: But then, we must get to the Khan before Tegana kills him, otherwise ...

IAN: I've had it.

DOCTOR: Yes - we've all had it.

SUSAN: Look, how are we going to get Ian past the guard?

(The DOCTOR rubs his chin in thought, and then moves towards the door. He rattles the door.)

DOCTOR: Guard! Open the door.

(The guard opens the door, and enters the room. Suddenly, the DOCTOR trips the guard with his walking stick. While the guard stumbles to the floor, the DOCTOR and his companions quickly race from the room. The guard jumps to his feet and pursues them.

A short distance from the cell, the four time travellers arrive at a junction in the corridor.)

SUSAN: Which way?

IAN: (pointing) Let's try down here.


8. PEKING PALACE - THE CORRIDORS

(The chase continues through the corridors of the Palace. But eventually, the luck runs out for the Doctor and his companions. They run into Marco POLO and a guard.)

IAN: Marco ...

POLO: Ian, what are you doing, you fool?

IAN: Marco, you must stop Tegana! He's going to kill the Khan!

POLO: (pointing to Ian) Seize him!

(The guard grabs IAN.)

IAN: Marco, listen to me, Tegana ...

POLO: (to the guard) Take him back to his cell, and keep him under close surveillance.

SUSAN: But Messr Marco, you must ...

(But before the guard can move, LING-TAU rushes into the area.)

LING-TAU: My lord!

POLO: What is it?

LING-TAU: A messanger has just arrived. Noghai's army is marching on Peking.

(Everyone is shocked. In particular, the DOCTOR and his companions deliver cries of 'we told you so' to POLO.)

POLO: Tegana's in the throne room with the Khan now.

DOCTOR: Well, then, look, somebody must protect him!

POLO: (indicating the scrolled parchment) Hold that, Doctor, and stay here, all of you.

(POLO sprints to the throne room.)


9. PEKING PALACE - THE THRONE ROOM

(In the throne room, Kublai Khan and Noghai are discussing the terms of peace.)

TEGANA: Your terms of peace are hard, my lord.

THE KHAN: Tegana, those who rise against us must be humbled.

TEGANA: They shall be honoured. I promised Noghai to make an end of this matter.

(Suddenly, TEGANA draws his sword. An attendant immediately rushes forward to protect the KHAN, but is swiftly killed by TEGANA. TEGANA approaches the Khan ...

POLO: Tegana!

At that moment, POLO bursts into the room, drawing his own sword. A frenetic fight occurs between POLO and TEGANA. The sword fight moves throughout the throne room. Slowly, POLO gains the upper hand ... TEGANA is forced into a corner.....

Eventually, POLO manages to knock the sword from TEGANA's hand. POLO quickly picks it up as LING-TAU and the other warriors rush into the room, and surround TEGANA. A few moments later, the DOCTOR and his companions walk into the room, chattering amongst themselves.)

THE KHAN: (triumphantly) We warned you, Tegana, those who rise against us will be humbled. You must die.

(The warriors draw their swords and approach TEGANA. But before the warriors have their chance, TEGANA grabs a sword and impales himself. SUSAN screams. The dishonourable member of the expedition has taken the honourable way out...

POLO turns to one of the guards, and indicates TEGANAs body.)

POLO: Take him away.

(The guards immediately obey POLO's instruction. POLO quickly hands the two TARDIS keys to the Doctor.)

Doctor, take the keys quickly!

DOCTOR: Thank you.

POLO: Now go!

DOCTOR: Thank you.

POLO: Go!

DOCTOR: (to SUSAN) Come along ...

(The DOCTOR's group rush into the TARDIS. Susan hurriedly says her goodbyes to PING-CHO ...)

PING-CHO: Susan, goodbye.

SUSAN: Ping-Cho...

PING-CHO: Your caravan, quickly!

SUSAN: Goodbye!


10. INTERIOR - TARDIS

(In the TARDIS console room, IAN and BARBARA watch as the DOCTOR sets the co-ordinates. As soon as SUSAN enters, the doors are closed.)


11. PEKING PALACE - THE THRONE ROOM

(The TARDIS dematerialises from the throne room. Kublai KHAN watches with POLO and PING-CHO as the caravan disappears.)

POLO: I'm sorry, my lord. I had to give them back their flying caravan.

THE KHAN: If you hadn't, the old man would have won it at backgammon. And it is true ... a flying caravan ... there's something for you to tell your friends in Venice.

POLO: (shaking his head) No, my lord. They would not believe half the things that I have seen in Cathay.

(POLO pauses to reflect on the DOCTOR and his group.)

But what is the truth? I wonder where they are now ... the past or the future ...

(POLO stares thoughtfully into the sky ....)


NEXT EPISODE - THE SEAS OF DEATH


Doctor Who
WILLIAM HARTNELL

Ian Chesterton
WILLIAM RUSSELL

Barbara Wright
JACQUELINE HILL

Susan Foreman
CAROLE ANN FORD

Marco Polo
MARK EDEN

Tegana
DERRIN NESBITT

Ping-Cho
ZIENIA MERTON

Kublai Khan
MARTIN MILLER

Kuiju
TUTTE LEMKOW

Wang-Lo
GABOR BARAKER

Ling-Tau
PAUL CARSON

The Empress
CLAIRE DAVENPORT

Sword fight arranged by
DEREK WARE


Title music composed by
RON GRAINER
and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Incidental Music
TRISTRAM CARY

Story Editor
DAVID WHITAKER

Designer
BARRY NEWBERY

Associate Producer
MERVYN PINFIELD

Producer
VERITY LAMBERT

Director
WARIS HUSSEIN


Transcribed by
BRUCE ROBINSON

Script Adaption / Editing / Additional Description
LEE HORTON

Corrections by
JULIAN HAYLOCK
MAL