Absolution: The remission of sins granted by a chosen emancipator of the Church of the Foundation. An emancipator hand picked from the Eutermesan masses and rewarded for obedience and total devotion, but governed by the laws of a timeless Universe to which, should he ever leave it, he may never ever return. Out here, amongst these wandering souls - souls who call to me and beg me to join them - those laws no longer apply.
Outside the Citadel, but still within the boundaries of the Barrier, guard commander Straith catches up with his colleague Phelgreth as he tends to the herds. He reports that the animals aren’t moving and seem rooted to the spot, perhaps scared by the fires. Straith is delighted as it was his own idea to set light to the spillage pits to give the Outlanders a bit of a shock. Phelgreth suspects they’re in for another quiet night, but just then he sees something at the edge of the Barrier. He points to one of the Black Angels which seems to be coming their way. To their horror, the flying creature begins to pierce the Barrier itself, even though nothing is supposed to be able to do that. Straith orders Phelgreth to sound the alarm, but the creature becomes ensnared, so the guards race forward and throw a net across it. The Angel screeches out in distress and lashes at them with its claws. More guards come to help them and eventually they manage to lift the struggling creature and carry it off to the crypt. Straith congratulates his sergeant, then leaves to inform the Overseer that they’ve finally managed to capture one of the beasts.
Later, Phelgreth approaches the caged creature to examine it more closely, then he arranges to have some food brought down from the kitchen. Straith arrives and checks that the beast is secure. The Black Angel is a strange looking thing with grey flesh, filth claws and leathery wings. It’s clearly more beast than man, or woman in this case, which means they themselves must be more man than beast. It’s been an exciting night, but now it’s time for Straith to turn in. Phelgreth still has two more hours before he goes off shift, so he asks for a hot sherva with a little something extra added to calm his nerves. He tells the Angel to get some sleep too, but the only response he gets from the creature is another screech of distress.
A voice calls out to C’rizz inside his head, beckoning the Eutermesan to come to them and be their salvation. The voice explains that a long time ago, the people of his world awoke one morning to a blinding flash. The planet shook so violently that millions perished from the tremors alone - but they were the lucky ones. At first they thought it was caused by a bomb or a meteor, but then the changes began. Many of them found their bodies distorting and undergoing severe corruption of their tissues, musculature and organs. Their very thought processes were also twisted and warped. Families and friends turned against each other and the streets ran with blood. C’rizz asks how long ago this happened, but the voice says he stopped keeping track after 900 years and many centuries must have passed since then. He says his people aren’t immortal and they can still die, but things have been slowed down. He didn’t die himself in the chaos and bloodshed for the simple reason that he led it. C’rizz asks what they want from him, but the voice tells him he must go, although they will meet again very soon…
Charley knocks on C’rizz’s door aboard the TARDIS. He answers her in a daze, having evidently just woken up from a deep sleep. Because of the mess he has to clear a space for her to sit down and she wonders whether he’s been spring-cleaning. The room is filled with objects from his home and she asks whether he misses it. He says he doesn’t and considers the TARDIS to be his home now. He even regards the Doctor and Charley as his family, yet despite this he has a feeling that he’s somehow incomplete. He asks her what the Doctor’s been up to recently and she tells him he’s twice burnt out something called a reciprocation circuit, materialised the TARDIS on the back of a giant prehistoric turtle, and nearly collided with a shiny, swirly, burgundy blob he kept referring to as the Bertram. In other words, a typical day. Charley decided it was best to keep out of his way for a while, so she came looking for C’rizz. She notices he’s wearing an unusual necklace and he tells her it’s made from the sun-bleached knuckle bones of scatterfish, creatures that live under rocks in the deserts of his home world. Then she picks up an object that looks really old and C’rizz immediately becomes uncomfortable. He asks for it back, but she playfully refuses unless he tells her what it is. He says it’s called an Absolver and it’s a religious icon from his Church. She thinks it’s beautiful and asks what the inscriptions say, but he tells her they’re just words from the sacred texts. The Absolver becomes active and Charley worries that she’s pressed something. It emits a blue light and although he tells her they’re just harmless minerals from home that glow whenever anyone agitates the box, he becomes extremely anxious and goes to take it off her. Before he can do so, she decides to take a quick look inside. He screams to her to stop, but it’s too late. Then all Hell breaks loose…
Phelgreth knocks urgently on Straith’s door and rouses him from his sleep. People can be heard shouting in the distance and the sergeant points to the sky which appears to be opening! Straith notices the Outlanders are retreating from the Barrier and running away in panic. Phelgreth wonders whether this means the Prophecy is coming true after all…
C’rizz can hear Charley calling for him, but she’s nowhere to be seen. He can’t see anything through the heavy fog as he stumbles along blindly, coughing from the awful stench, but then he realises there’s something else in the fog with them. He hears other voices that call his name and tell him they’re trapped. In a panic, he assures the voices that they’re all absolved - and then suddenly the voices disappear in an instant. Charley is next to him and he’s back in his room, as if nothing has happened. She tells him to calm down, but he blames her for what happened and says he warned her not to open the reliquary. She interrupts him when it becomes apparent there’s something wrong with the TARDIS. They race off to find the Doctor, but in the corridor outside they notice the lights are dim and it‘s starting to get cold. They can’t agree on which way to go to reach the control room, but when Charley chooses a route, they hear a ghostly voice warning them to go back. They head off in a different direction…
After receiving a summons from his daughter Lolanthia, the Overseer Cacothis rushes to her side. The Citadel is in uproar and everyone is panicking. She tells her father that the people want answers, so she’s convened a meeting so he can offer them his guidance. The people are looking to him for reassurance and he has an obligation to help. He’s done this before, but never during such troubling times. She reminds him that he calmed their nerves when the mysterious shapes first appeared in the heavens, and later again he was able to unify the people and restore order when madness seemed to rear its head. She asks him what he’s planning to tell them this time, but he admits that he doesn’t know yet and the people will have to be patient. First, he plans to make a visit to the chapel.
Charley and C’rizz make their way to the control room and find the Doctor at work on the TARDIS console. He tells them they’re just in time to witness either his masterful skill at saving their lives, or to experience the utter destruction of the ship. Although the odds are several thousand to one, he won’t tell them whether it’s in favour of living or dying. He explains that some sort of psychic interference has confused the TARDIS. All the safety buffers are down and it’s as if something has scrambled the ship’s brains. They’re now accelerating out of control through the Vortex. He asks Charley to hold a switch down while C’rizz prepares to throw a lever on the Doctor’s command. He’s going to try adjusting their trajectory to trip the dimensional flow slightly. If it works, it should stabilise their course. He gives the order and there’s a sudden explosion…
Straith and Phelgreth watch as the Great Beast Borarus approaches the Citadel, just as the Prophecy foretold. Even from this distance, they can tell that the creature is huge. Straith tells his sergeant to stay behind while he goes to report to their leader.
The TARDIS materialises and a relieved Charley lets go of the switch. The Cloister Bell starts to ring so the Doctor decides they should take a quick peek outside. He operates the scanner and confirms that they’ve stopped in non-planetary space, somewhere in the constellation of Aries. The whole area is filled with derelict spaceships including a Bazali pulse carrier and a Kolith weaver, the latter of which uses pre-cognitive technology to fabricate a destination so the resulting paradox of two co-existing zones of identical space and time forces the source sector to cease to be and the new woven sector to instantaneously snap into the resulting hollow, taking the ship with it. C’rizz thinks this is impossible, but the Doctor warns him not to tell the Kolith that or else their delicately balanced science would crumble, leaving them stranded in a void of implausibility. There must be hundreds of ships outside and neither they, nor the TARDIS, are moving. None of the controls seem to respond, but the Doctor notices the Cloister Bell has changed its modulation, which is unprecedented. Charley guesses this is a graveyard of spaceships, but the Doctor says it’s far worse than that. He thinks they’re in limbo or purgatory, trapped half way between Heaven and Hell.
Lolanthia calls the council meeting into session. Her father Cacothis addresses the people and says he knows they‘re anxious about the tremors and the infernal winds, but they should remember that since the time of the catastrophe, anomalous climatic effects have been commonplace. Although they’ve never experienced anything quite like this, he says he’s confident the situation can be resolved by an extended period of prayer. The crowd mumble in dissatisfaction and Lolanthia is incredulous that this is the best he can come up with. She says prayer won’t stop the showers of ash or halt the volcanoes. He turns to the crowd again and tells them they’re mistaken if they think he has all the answers. Their fate is, as ever, in the hands of the Forsaker. He urges them to remember the words of the Prophecy which says their punishment is to dwell in limbo awaiting judgement. Lolanthia pleads with him not to quote the scripture to them. He’s recited it to them often enough, but it doesn’t help the people walk out of the Citadel or stabilise the weather or heal the shattered souls beyond the walls. Cacothis tells her that right now, his Prophecy is all they have. He adjourns the meeting and leaves the chamber. Privately, his daughter accuses him of being superstitious to the last and leaving them to pray while their world tumbles down around them.
Charley is surprised by the Doctor’s claim that they’re stuck between Heaven and Hell. They see something on the scanner that might be the reason they’re here. It looks like a patch of empty space, but according to the readings there’s something inside it. They start to pick up non-thermal planetary radio emissions. Many celestial bodies emit them, but the Doctor suspects there’s something unique about these particular signals. He activates the filter adjustment and the sound turns into the agonised cries of countless lost souls, forever imprisoned within the shattered Hell of bleakness and despair. It’s known by many different names including Tartarus and Hades, but whatever people call it, every culture in the galaxy has equivalent stories of Hell. Who’s to say all those stories didn’t all originate from the same place - here! The TARDIS starts to shudder and the Doctor tells Charley and C’rizz they’re descending into the anomaly. He tells them to hang on to whatever they can find…
In his chapel, the Overseer Cacothis, in his other role as High Priest, calls to the Great Forsaker for help. He says a change has come upon their world and the people are looking to him for help, but he’s powerless to answer them and he asks the Forsaker what the new omens and auguries portend. His prayer is interrupted by the guard Phelgreth, who’s been sent to update him on the situation outside. He reveals that they’ve spotted a shape on the horizon, like a ball of smoke or liquid, but with things and faces swimming to the surface as the shape moves. He wonders whether it might be Borarus, otherwise known as Borarus the Formless, the Great Beast of Athligar and the Omega of Time and Space. Phelgreth asks if this means the Prophecy is coming true and Cacothis confirms that this appears to be the case. This could indicate that after 3,000 years they are finally to be released. Cacothis reminds the guard that the Prophecy ends when a pilgrim from beyond their world sacrifices himself to Borarus, filling the Beast with such melancholy that it will burst into a shower of crimson tears, never to rise again. Then, and only then, will their torment come to an end. The Overseer sends Phelgreth back to the battlements to see what the Beast is up to now, but the guard wonders what will become of the Outlanders - will Borarus destroy them? Cacothis believes this would be a merciful release for them, and privately he hopes the creature destroys every living thing in the wastelands…including Aboresh!
Aboresh is at that moment summoning together all his brothers and sisters in the wastelands. He tells them the vessel has already been opened and the freed souls within are now journeying to them across the immensity of space. He urges his people to call to them and help them find their way. Borarus needs such souls to feed upon, and with them will come the pilgrim who is key to their salvation. He will unite with the Beast and crush the Citadel, then victory will be theirs! Aboresh tells his brethren that with their assistance, he can bring the TARDIS to them. His followers begin to chant…
Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor warns his companions that their speed is still increasing. They struggle to hold on, but Charley is finding it difficult to block out the voices in her head. The Doctor urges her to concentrate and asks her to recite her favourite nursery rhyme. She begins the first few lines of “Oranges and Lemons” but she soon needs his help to continue. He assures her that any time now they’ll be at the heart of the anomaly and it’ll be like being inside the eye of a hurricane. True to his word, things start to stabilise and the commotion inside the control room disappears. He reaches out and touches the console, but it’s red hot. C’rizz notices that the dials and knobs are starting to melt. Then the impossible happens - the floor itself starts to crack open and the Doctor realises the TARDIS is splitting apart. They call to C’rizz on the other side of the room, but for some reason his legs are frozen and he can’t move. The Doctor tells him to jump or else he’ll be sucked into the void, but it’s too late. The floor completely opens up and with a scream, C’rizz topples in and disappears from sight…
C’rizz wakes up and calls for the Doctor and Charley. He’s unsure where he is, but it’s cold and there’s a wind blowing, which suggests he’s no longer inside the TARDIS. He hears a voice telling him the gateway has opened, assuring him he has nothing to fear from those who welcome the chosen vessel. From out of the darkness, he’s approached by hideous twisted creatures. As the voice tells them to seize C’rizz, the Eutermesan runs for his life…
The Doctor and Charley recover inside the TARDIS control room and quickly establish that everything is intact and back to normal. Unfortunately C’rizz is missing and there’s no telling where he could be. The level of psychic energy required to reconfigure the architecture of the ship in this way is incredible, but very unpredictable. Charley spots a military tank in the corner of the room where the bookcase used to be. The Doctor struggles to remember where he picked it up, confident that the kind of energy they’ve experience can only reorder existing things, not import new objects. Everything they had within the TARDIS is still somewhere in the ship, just in a different place, so hopefully that applies to C’rizz too. The Doctor can hear a faint noise, which sounds very much like a heartbeat. He tells Charley it’s coming from the TARDIS itself and says the ship is more than just nuts and bolts. He sets to work on the console but the controls are still hot. Charley spots something on his hand which he thinks is probably oil, but on closer examination it proves to be blood. More blood drips from the console and before long the entire column starts filling up. The Doctor and Charley try to evacuate, but then the entire column explodes, showering the room with blood.
In the wasteland, Aboresh orders his creatures to release C’rizz. He tells the Eutermesan to be at ease and C’rizz recognises his voice immediately as the one from his dreams. Aboresh explains that his brethren manipulated their minds so they could burn into his vessel. He assures C’rizz that his two friends are unharmed and he’s delighted to see that his spirit remains unbroken. They will need that for what is to come…
The Doctor and Charley recover from the explosion, unharmed but slightly sticky. The Doctor examines the blood and identifies it as the same type as Charley’s. Nothing like this has ever happened before, but the TARDIS is a living thing which means that if it goes badly wrong then some strange things can happen. He deduces that the ship is using its empathic circuits to let them know that she’s hurt. It may be a bit melodramatic, but so is plunging into the heart of Hell. The blood is real enough and has been synthesised from Charley’s own blood type. They hear another strange noise and the Doctor hopes it isn’t what he thinks it is. Just then, a group of Hellions, or gremlins to use another name, enter the room. They’re trans-dimensional parasites who home in on chaotic eddies in the probability stream. He becomes frustrated as they mischievously start playing around with any objects they can find lying around. He tells Charley they feed off improbability and the larger the odds of something happening or not happening, the tastier it becomes to them, so the TARDIS breaking down, splitting apart and exploding with blood must seem like a banquet to them. When the central column ruptured, the damage must have run deep and radiation starts pouring into the console room. If they don’t get out of here right now, they’ll both die, so they race towards the doors. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to isolate the console room from the rest of the TARDIS and tells Charley they won’t be able to go back in there for a while. Hopefully the repair circuits will kick in, seal the breach and start regenerating the central column. In the meantime, he suggests they try to find C’rizz, purge the psychic contamination and reactivate the TARDIS. When Charley asks him how they’re going to do that, he says he would welcome any suggestions.
C’rizz wonders what the brethren want with him and Aboresh explains that destiny brought him here because he’s the key to their world’s salvation. C’rizz remembers being told that this world had already been destroyed so he asks who’s left to save and Aboresh tells him the souls contained within his Absolver were released the moment it was opened. Those souls were confused and everything they knew in life was gone. They weren’t in the same Universe any more, so their pain and suffering drew them to this world, which is called Utebbadon-Tarria. The TARDIS was merely caught in their wake as they found their way here. C’rizz asks what’s so special about this place, but Aboresh says that’s a mystery. He decides it’s time C‘rizz saw Utebbadon-Tarria for himself…
Charley takes the Doctor to C’rizz’s room aboard the TARDIS and tells him what happened when she opened the Absolver. He’s never heard of an Absolver before but it explains the voices they heard. Charley says C’rizz seemed particularly nervous about it and warned her not to open it, but she didn’t listen. She finds the box and tells him about the blue light that shone beneath the jewel on the front, When she reveals that it’s a reliquary, the Doctor realises that whatever it contained has now escaped.
Aboresh takes C’rizz to see a psychic conduit which is held together by sheer force of his own will. He reveals that the Eutermesan also possesses the potential for such creation and he promises to show him how to master it. He then hopes C’rizz can use it to release his people from their torment. There are thousands of lost souls on his world and C’rizz will be their saviour. Aboresh warns him to brace himself, then activates the conduit. They disappear and re-materialise in the part of the wasteland where the Outlanders live. The air immediately starts to burn the Eutermesan’s lungs and he struggles to draw breath. Aboresh urges C’rizz to use his will to make the atmosphere his own. By concentrating, he’s able to change the air as easily as he can change the colour of his own flesh and within a few minutes C’rizz can breathe normally again. The air is sweet, like the atmosphere on his home planet. He’s never been able to do anything like this before, but Aboresh tells C’rizz it’s now time he addressed the people of this world. He doesn’t know what to say, so Aboresh tells him just to speak from his heart. His arrival here was foretold in a prophecy and the words he speaks now, he will always have spoken. With unusual confidence, C’rizz turns to the people of Utebbadon-Tarria and introduces himself. He admits that his arrival here was less of a surprise than he expected and in many ways, he foresaw it himself. He explains that his own people believe the dreams they have immediately before waking are the most prescient and his own dreams have been about a land of mist where lost souls wandered and called out to him to help. It’s a broken land, shattered by catastrophe and flooded with pain and suffering. He sees now that Utebbadon-Tarria is the world from his dreams and these are his people, the ones he’s come to help. The twisted abnormal creatures who stand before him begin to cheer.
Deeper inside the TARDIS, the Doctor shoulder barges a door, but it hasn’t been opened for centuries and resists his efforts. With Charley’s help, he eventually manages to force it open, but they are both covered in a cloud of dust and cobwebs. This is the quinary console room, which is similar to the console room they’ve just left, but smaller and dustier. The Doctor says he hasn’t used it in a very long time (if ever) which doesn’t surprise Charley as she thinks it looks and smells like an old lady’s parlour, but he‘s confident that if the psychic influence hasn’t contaminated it, this console should be fully operational. After giving it a friendly nudge of encouragement, the Doctor is eventually able to jump start the TARDIS, only to discover they’ve already landed. They hear loud banging as if someone’s trying to kick their way into the ship. They activate the scanner, but it isn’t working and the banging becomes even louder. Charley asks for reassurance that the TARDIS is impenetrable, but the Doctor seems reluctant to commit himself…
C’rizz remembers that in his dream, Aboresh admitted that he himself was responsible for co-ordinating the chaos that followed the catastrophe. Aboresh asks him to understand the madness of that time. The world had twisted from paradise into purgatory and no one apart from him was spared. When the people started to lash out at each other, they chose him as their leader to teach them and organise things, and then eventually they began to serve and obey him.
The Doctor asks Charley to stand back as he opens the TARDIS doors and the two guards Straith and Phelgreth enter, armed with pitchforks. They’re amazed at the size of the room inside and believe the Doctor and Charley to be demons. Straith demands to know how they bypassed the Barrier and got inside the Citadel, but the Doctor ignores the question and simply explains that the TARDIS is their home. Before he has the chance to stop her, Charley adds that they got here by magic and says the TARDIS is a magical travelling box. She theorises that because the guards are dressed like medieval monks, they couldn’t possibly understand how the ship really functions. The guards order them to accompany them outside and the Doctor promises to co-operate willingly as they need answers too.
Aboresh is fascinated by C’rizz’s achievements and admits that he himself has never been able to match his abilities. Although C’rizz didn’t even know he’d done it, his mind was able to touch the minds of his friends and he was able to see and hear them. C’rizz is confused as he believes the Doctor and Charley are standing right in front of them, but Aboresh reveals that his friends are actually inside the Citadel, which is over 70 leagues from where they are right now. C’rizz insists that they hurry to reach them as his friends are in trouble, but Aboresh tells him he’s achieved something for the first time in his life that he would never have thought possible. Does he really want to rush back to his friends, go back inside their spaceship and just fly away? He believes C’rizz was fated to walk upon this world and he should let his friends go as they’ve already served their purpose.
The Doctor and Charley are brought before a roaring fireplace and for a moment they’re worried they might get thrown into it. Moments later, Straith returns with their leader Cacothis and the High Priest explains that they’ve not had visitors for a very long time. What puzzles him is how they came to be here in the first place. The Doctor realises the Barrier everyone is talking about must be an energy barrier of some sort, but Straith tells Cacothis the strangers spoke of a magic box earlier. The Doctor quickly points out that ’magic’ isn’t really the right word, especially when you’re talking to superstitious people who might have a penchant for burning witches. Cacothis assures them they won’t be harmed and as long as they‘re not Outlanders, they’re both welcome here. He seems surprised when the Doctor nor Charley tell him they don’t know of the Outlanders and realises they truly are from beyond this world. The Overseer’s daughter Lolanthia arrives and dismisses her father as a superstitious fool, but her intrusion into a private meeting angers him. She points out that the arrival of two strangers in the Citadel is a matter which affects everyone. She greets them and asks if it’s true that they’ve really travelled to other worlds and possess some sort of space craft?
The Doctor offers to show the TARDIS to them, but Lolanthia and Cacothis are disappointed when he takes them to the police box outside. He agrees that it may appear to be just a blue wooden box, but just wait until they see what’s inside. He tries to open the door, but then whips his hand back in pain and says the ship actually bit him. Charley tries, but the TARDIS begins to growl and the Doctor warns her away. Slowly, the wooden frame of the exterior begins to transform itself into a stone equivalent. The Doctor says the ship’s chameleon circuit must have been infected and while it’s repairing itself, the TARDIS is trying to keep a low profile and has taken on the appearance of the stone courtyard, which was the closest material to it. Charley asks how long it will take to heal, but the Doctor can’t tell without access to the ship’s instruments. It looks like they’re stuck here for a while. Cacothis doesn’t understand what’s happened, but he says the two guests are welcome to stay with them for as long as they need. He asks his daughter to look after Charley while he shows the Doctor the rest of the Citadel. Before she leaves, Charley asks the Doctor whether he thinks C’rizz is still inside the TARDIS, but he doesn’t know. He just hopes that wherever he is, he’s safe.
C’rizz cries out in agony, but Aboresh assures him he can learn to control the pain. He urges the Eutermesan to channel and master it, to let the pain flow through him like sand through his fingers. Eventually, C’rizz begins to recover and Aboresh asks him why he deliberately prevented his friends from entering the TARDIS? C’rizz claims that he just wanted to make sure they were safe but Aboresh asks why he then encased the ship in stone instead of simply removing the lock? C’rizz admits it was the first thing that came into his head and his intention was only to keep them out of harm’s way. Aboresh thinks this is commendable and says his strength and ability is growing with every passing minute. He asks how it feels to wield such power, and C’rizz tells him it feels good.
Lolanthia shows Charley to the sleeping quarters assigned to her during her stay here. She apologises for the mess and says she’s not normally this untidy, but Charley says it’s nowhere near as bad as her own room aboard the TARDIS. In fact, this is a charming room and very tastefully decorated. Charley notices a beautiful woman in a portrait and Lolanthia says it’s her mother, Aurithca, who died a long time ago. Lolanthia can hardly remember her now and this portrait is all she has to remind her that she even existed. Charley says she must have been very young when it happened, but Lolanthia says she wasn’t…and in fact she hasn’t been young for many years! When Charley asks her what she means, she simply says that some days she feels older than her 19 years. Charley says she has days like that too, but at least the candlelight here is infinitely more flattering than sunlight. Lolanthia reveals that it’s been years since anyone here has seen any sunlight, which surprised Charley as she’d just assumed it was night time. Lolanthia confirms that they have eternal night here and their suns last illuminated the surface of Utebbadon-Tarria 3,000 years ago, or possibly even longer. The people here dwell in perpetual darkness now. Her father claims the Forsaker draped a sackcloth over their world, but she prefers to believe that they’re perceiving an atmospheric anomaly that simply defies explanation.
Cacothis leads the Doctor high up onto the Citadel battlements, which makes the Doctor wonder why they never thought of installing a lift. A huge clap of thunder fills the air, sending the monstrous deformed people in the wasteland into a panic. Watching from the top of the Citadel, the Overseer asks the Doctor what he thinks of the world beyond the Barrier. He admits that he‘s never seen anything like it before - pillars of flames, skeletal figures and airborne demons. As the Doctor looks across the infernal image, Cacothis welcomes him to Hell.
C’rizz calls to Charley to wake up. She stirs in her bed and tells him she’s tired. She asks where he is and he tells her to follow his voice. He says they’re going outside, to the edge of the Barrier itself…and perhaps even beyond it.
The Overseer offers the Doctor a hot sherva, which he finds delicious and which reminds him of some silver needle tea he once had in Tibet. Cacothis declines the invitation to join him and admits that he’s seldom thirsty these days. He asks the Doctor what he makes of the wastelands and he says it’s like the works of a painter friend of his called Hieronymus Bosch. He once posed for one of the artist’s triptychs, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, and he spent hours lying against a table because Bosch went mad if his models so much as twitched. Cacothis finds the words meaningless and the Doctor agrees that he really needs to curb that habit. He summarises the current situation and says the Overseer’s people are living in a bubble in Hell, protected from the inferno by an induction barrier which in turn prevents them from escaping. Cacothis asks how old the Doctor thinks he is, and the response is between 40 and 45. The man laughs, which tells the Doctor his guess was way off the mark. The Overseer explains that they’re a cursed people and even time itself has abandoned them. A clock chimes and Cacothis asks for forgiveness as he has duties to attend to. He invites the Doctor to make himself comfortable in his absence, but says that for his own safety he should avoid visiting the crypt. It’s not a question of what he will find there, but of what might find him. He says long ago, something dangerous from outside found its way in…
C’rizz brings Charley to the place he wanted to show her and calls to her to wake up. She opens her eyes and is delighted to find that she isn’t dreaming and she really is back with her friend. She moves towards him, but the Barrier around the Citadel is between them and it would be dangerous to come any closer. She can’t wait to tell the Doctor her news, but then she suddenly realises C’rizz hasn’t been moving her lips all the while he was talking to her. He explains that it’s something he’s learned to do and he can do other things too. She asks who he’s with and C’rizz invites his new friends to come out of the shadows. Charley recoils from the sight of them, but he tells her not to be afraid. He says they are the true people of Utebbadon-Tarria, the chosen people. Aboresh approaches and tells Charley he’s honoured to meet her. Just then, the voice of Straith calls down to her from the top of the Citadel battlements. C’rizz explains that the guard can’t see anyone else, only Charley, and he tells her she can respond if she wants. She calls back and Straith tells her to come back inside as it’s against the rules to wander the perimeter alone as it can ‘excite’ the Outlanders. She apologises and tells C’rizz she’s going back inside. He asks her to tell the Doctor only that they spoke and that they’d be reunited soon, but to say nothing about Aboresh and the others.
On the battlements, Phelgreth wonders what Charley was doing down there on her own, but Straith has no idea and dismisses her as a foolish girl. It may sound odd, but Phelgreth got the impression she was talking to someone. It certainly couldn‘t have been Borarus as the Great Beast is currently roaming the Wood of Suicides, no doubt looking for victims.
The Doctor catches Charley returning to the Citadel and asks if she’s having trouble sleeping. She can’t wait to tell him that C’rizz is alive and on the other side of the Barrier. The Doctor agrees this is good news, although he can’t work out how C’rizz is hoping to join them here. In the meantime, he tells Charley he’s been contemplating a full length mirror he found in the corridor, although he stresses he was looking at it, not into it. It’s impressive craftsmanship, but Charley notes that it’s covered in finger marks all along the edge. He suspected all along there was something behind the mirror, so he tries to prise it open and when that doesn’t work, he picks up a chair and throws it straight at the glass. It smashes and reveals a secret passage behind the wall. They climb through the hole and start exploring. They make their way down some steps and the Doctor suspects it might lead them to the key to everything that’s happening on this planet, or possibly just the wine cellar. They soon come across a locked door, at least six inches thick. A plate confirms they’re on Sub Level 2 and invites them to either enter their Alpha Red security code or display their retinas for scan. Neither of these options are available to them, so the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to open the lock.
Inside, they find a huge laboratory with a number of individual monitoring stations around the perimeter. The Doctor finds what he thinks is a projection unit, although he can’t imagine how much energy would be needed to power something that size. Charley notices the control panels have all been wiped clean, even though everything else in the room is covered with dust. They wonder who could be coming down here and playing with centuries old technology? Charley theorises that someone has been trying to get the equipment working again which would explain the smell of ozone, halide ions and sulphur dioxide, all of which leads the Doctor to suspect this place draws its energy from a geothermal source beneath their feet. Charley finds some structural blueprints which tells the Doctor he was only partially correct about the projection unit. In fact, they’re standing in the heart of a vast dimensional probe, which is dangerous to say the least and might possibly explain why the planet is what it is today. Cacothis mentioned something about a catastrophe and Lolanthia mentioned a sudden darkness which fell over this world. This suggests some kind of cosmic disaster, and most likely a home produced one. A botched dimensional experiment could have resulted in a localised inversion of the time-space continuum. The Doctor finds a document marked ’Citadel Industries’, which explains where the name of this place comes from.
Since C’rizz spoke to Charley, Aboresh has sensed less turmoil in his mind. C’rizz admits that it was good to see her again as they’ve been through a lot together. Aboresh says he would hate for anything unfortunate to happen to her, but C’rizz is confident that with his new abilities he can keep both her and the Doctor safe. For once, they can both turn to him for protection and the more powerful he grows, the more protection he can offer them. Aboresh decides it’s time to continue with his lessons.
The Doctor and Charley move into the next room, which appears to be an infirmary. There’s no mistaking that familiar smell of carbolic acid which is the same the Universe over. The Doctor starts going through
the cupboards, discarding anything he’s not interested in, until he finds a portable bio-scanner which is still in working condition. He tests it on Charley and confirms that she’s human. He has a theory about this place and thinks the bio-scanner is just what he needs to prove it. Charley is getting tired so she settles down on one of the hospital beds, but the Doctor says he’s likely to be another couple of hours yet so he suggests she goes back to her room upstairs and they can meet up again later. She doesn’t put up too much of an objection, especially when he asks her to keep an eye on Lolanthia.
Aboresh is very impressed with C’rizz’s achievements. He encourages him to harmonise his mind with the boulder he’s lifting so he can make each rotation as perfect as he can. C’rizz finds the effort exhausting as the boulder is extremely heavy and eventually his concentration fails and the stone comes crashing down to the ground. At that velocity he could have killed Aboresh, so he apologises, but Aboresh says he’s doing splendidly and in the wrong hands, C’rizz’s mind could become a lethal weapon. The next experiment will be learning how to control another mind. Aboresh suggests they begin with a primitive creature and move on from there. He invites C’rizz to follow him to the Wood of Suicides…
The Doctor listens to a recording on which Lolanthia’s voice explains how a scientific experiment was conducted. Things appeared to be proceeding on schedule and she revealed that they were hoping soon to begin punching the dimensional rift. She said it would be a shame that her mother won’t be there to see the look on her father’s face when they eventually break through. Suddenly, Cacothis enters the laboratory and angrily orders the Doctor to switch the tape recorder off. The Doctor admits he’s fascinated by what he’s been hearing, but the best is yet to come. They both listen as Lolanthia’s experiment starts to go wrong, then she calls for help as the roof starts to cave in. The Doctor switches the machine off and the Overseer accuses him of betraying their hospitality. He explains that this sector of the Citadel is forbidden as the Forsaker has declared it off-limits. Cacothis believes technology is profane and that the thoughts required to understand them are blasphemous, but the Doctor knows this wasn‘t always the case. He recognised Lolanthia’s voice and it was clear she had a considerable knowledge of science, but more importantly it seemed as though Cacothis and his wife were themselves in charge of the project. Cacothis dismisses this and tells the Doctor that much has changed since then…
Aboresh applauds C’rizz’s latest achievement - creating a living pyramid from the primitive creatures that live in the wasteland. C’rizz admits that it didn’t take nearly as much effort as he anticipated and it’s obvious his skills are growing exponentially. He admits that the feeling he gets is strangely pleasant, then he releases the creatures. Aboresh suggests trying something a little more complex. C’rizz thinks he means one of the mutants, but he actually has something much bigger in mind…
The Doctor demands to know why things in this society have tumbled backwards and Cacothis says it’s a punishment because they tried to play at being God. The Doctor assures him that mistakes happen, but he knows they were playing with fire from the very start. They shouldn’t have been tampering with dimensional engineering without proper safeguards - but where were the gravitic stabilisers and the breach induction loop? Cacothis insists that he always knew they weren’t ready and asked for more time, but the project was already behind schedule so the team started cutting corners. The Doctor realises this must have been a military operation and Cacothis admits that it was funded by the Ministry for Peace, but folding space is a very expensive process and they obviously weren’t doing it simply for the furtherance of scientific knowledge. At first they just wanted to probe other dimensions and look for things like minerals, but then the military saw the possibilities for simultaneous transfer of material from one dimension to another, and they thought not of exploration, but of war. Instantaneous troop movements to any part of the galaxy meant their enemies would have no forewarning of their arrival. They could just arrive, kill and conquer.
Cacothis says that regardless of the motives behind the experiment, it all went terribly wrong. In an attempt to widen the dimensional breach, he bombarded the projectors with ions but the relays exploded and the breach sheared through their world, ripping him in two. It literally bisected his body, but as he lay there on the laboratory floor, bleeding to death, he witnessed something beyond belief. From his own shattered torso, a new lower half emerged, complete with new bones and new tissues. Since that moment, he hasn’t aged a day and neither has anyone else in the Citadel. There have been no deaths and no births. This was many thousands of years ago - everything here is the same now as it was the day their world ended and nothing ever changes or evolves. Cacothis believes science itself became angry with them, so the people threw away their faith in technology. The Doctor points out that someone here is continuing the experiments, but Cacothis refuses to accept this and says it’s forbidden to enter these chambers. Just then, they hear someone approaching the laboratory…
On the Citadel battlements, Straith orders Phelgreth to gather together every man and woman who’s ever patrolled this rooftop. The Outlanders outside the Barrier seem to be restless and it’s making him nervous, but Phelgreth thinks they should be more worried about the Great Beast Borarus as he’s almost reached them. Straith argues that his sergeant isn’t seeing the bigger picture and just because Borarus is the biggest thing on the horizon, that doesn’t mean it’s the most important.
In the laboratory, the Doctor and Cacothis hide as Lolanthia enters the room and activates the external monitors. As she programmes the computer to bring the array back on line, Cacothis emerges from the shadows and angrily accuses her of blasphemy and having betrayed their sacred doctrine. Although shocked to see him here, she challenges him and reminds him she doesn’t follow his doctrine. She insists that because they made the world they way it is, they have a responsibility to un-make it. The Doctor spots a huge demon creature on one of the scanners and Cacothis identifies it as Borarus, whose arrival at the time of the Wasting has also been foretold in their Prophecy. Lolanthia dismisses this and tells the Doctor that despite its appearance, it’s nothing more than an energy amoeba and she’s confident it can’t get through the Barrier.
Phelgreth begins to panic as Borarus gets ever closer to the Citadel, but Straith assures him not to panic and says he’s prepared to stake his reputation on the Barrier holding the creature back. But then to their horror, the Barrier starts to split apart and the gigantic creature starts to force its way through. Straith orders his guards to sound the alarm…
In the laboratory, Lolanthia is amazed when she sees Borarus breaching the Barrier. Cacothis starts quoting from the Prophecy and the Doctor realises they’re not going to get any sense from him now. He asks Lolanthia about the power behind the so-called impenetrable Barrier, but she has no real idea and can only guess there are still residuals left in the power banks. The Doctor tells her they need to boost the power immediately, so she gets to work bringing the main generators on line. Just then, Straith bursts in and races over to Cacothis, who then orders him to arrest the Doctor and his own daughter on charges of blasphemy and lock them inside the chapel. The Doctor argues that with any luck they may still be able to stop this, but Cacothis refuses to listen and has them removed at once, then tells Straith to find the girl Charley and make sure she‘s arrested too. Once he’s alone, he plays back a recording of his wife Aurithca and sadly announces that their daughter has failed them both.
Straith and his men drag their prisoners away from the laboratory, ignoring the Doctor‘s protests that the lives of everyone in the Citadel depend on him reactivating the Barrier. They can hear the sound of screams and of walls crashing to the ground and Lolanthia realises Borarus is tearing the Citadel apart. Straith is keen to return to the fight, but the Doctor is sceptical about their primitive attempts at dealing with something that’s completely alien to their planet. Straith refuses to listen, but then a voice booms out of thin air and orders them to let the prisoners go. Lolanthia believes it must be the voice of Borarus, but the Doctor recognises it as C’rizz. He calls back to his friend, confused as to how he’s doing it, but glad nonetheless. Straith refuses to co-operate, claiming he’s not afraid of ghosts, but when he ignores another warning he is suddenly gripped by a terrible pain. The Doctor realises C’rizz is responsible and tells him to stop, but the Eutermesan insists that Straith must confess to his sins, and then pay for them. Only then, can he be absolved. Straith screams out in agony…
C’rizz calls out to Charley and pleads for her help. She wakes up and asks where he is, but he says he is everywhere and nowhere. He says he’s afraid as he can’t control it any more, but when she asks him what he means, he simply says confession, penance and absolution…
The Doctor tells C’rizz he can let the guards go now as he and Lolanthia have been released, but C’rizz says he’s lost control and can’t stop it. As Straith and the guards collapse to the floor dying, C’rizz begs the Doctor to help him. He thought that he could handle his new powers, but he now knows it’s too much for his mind. He tells the Doctor he has to go and then his voice disappears. With the guards still unconscious, the Doctor leaves to find Charley and orders Lolanthia to fetch her father and meet them both at the crypt.
Aboresh tells C’rizz he’s doing fine, but the Eutermesan is worried that he nearly killed the guards. His mentor assures him that would never happen and he believes C’rizz is stronger than any who have gone before him. The Barrier around the Citadel has been breached and that’s only ever happened once before, a long time ago. Now Borarus is at the walls and Aboresh’s army surges in support. He’s confident the Citadel will fall and then the punishment for the sinners who dwell within can begin. C’rizz realises Aboresh is holding something back and he says he needs to know everything if he’s going to help, but when Aboresh tells his new friend that his enemies took someone prisoner, he’s alarmed to discover that this whole things has been about a girl.
The Doctor takes Charley to the crypt and on the way, she reveals more about the secrets C’rizz told her. He chastises her for not telling him about Aboresh earlier, but she never realised it would be important. Just as Cacothis arrives with Lolanthia and demands to know what this is all about, the Doctor finds what he’s been looking for - the Black Angel who broke through the Barrier earlier and is now imprisoned in a cage, deep in the crypt. Cacothis warns the Doctor not to stand too close as the creature has been known to bite. The Doctor produces the bio-scanner he removed from the laboratory and uses it to collect some samples from the caged animal. He has a theory based on his knowledge that inversion barriers work by preventing genetically different material from passing through them whilst at the same time allowing right of entry to species with the same genetic code. He asks exactly how long the Black Angel has been imprisoned here and Cacothis tells him it’s been about two thousand years. He finishes examining the creature and then conducts the same analysis of Lolanthia. It’s a near perfect match, which confirms his theory. The Doctor explains that the creature and Lolanthia have the same DNA, which means they must be mother and daughter. The thought that he might have chained up his own wife for over two millennia is too much for Cacothis to bear, but the Doctor has no sympathy for him. The only reason they locked the creature up was because it was different from them, and all they had to do to establish the truth would have been a simple scan using equipment Cacothis himself has outlawed. The Overseer insists that the creature is mad and refuses to believe that it could be Aurithca, then he turns and flees from the crypt. The Doctor asks Charley to unchain the poor creature then stay with Lolanthia, while he races off after her father.
Straith returns to Phelgreth and other guards and learns that none of their weapons are having the slightest effect on Borarus and they have no defence against it. Straith suggests they use the lasers, but his sergeant reminds him they’re forbidden by law. Having recently been half throttled to death by a phantom, Straith has no time for such thoughts and orders a bank of lasers to be set up along the wall.
The Doctor tracks Cacothis down to the chapel, a place he sometimes comes to for introspection. The Overseer admits that he ran away because of the shame and guilt he was feeling, and it wasn’t just because he survived the inversion unscathed while his wife didn’t. He tells the Doctor there was another scientist in their group, a young, clever and handsome man who was adored by everyone. He was the genius who designed the Gyroscopic Core. As preparations for the great day drew closer, Cacothis began to focus all his time and energy on his work and his wife Aurithca became lonely and felt excluded. He suspected she was about to leave him for the younger scientist and when he confronted her, some terrible things were said. They separated, but neither Lolanthia nor the man he suspected of being Aurithca’s lover knew any of this. Instead, Cacothis sacked the man, and without the younger scientist’s genius, the project was doomed to failure. Cacothis has always been haunted by the knowledge that he let his vanity destroy their entire world.
Lolanthia is also haunted by the revelation that her mother was chained up and hidden from her for two thousand years. She tries to comfort the creature, then asks Charley what kind of world this has become. Charley tries to reassure her that at least her mother is free now, but Lolanthia is more determined than ever to get back to the laboratory. If she can reverse the rotation of the gyroscope, she might be able to weaken the Barrier or even destroy it. Charley is surprised as this is the only protection they have against the Outlanders, but Lolanthia points out that the Outlanders are their own friends and family, people like her mother. They hurry off before it’s too late…
Outside the Citadel, a full battle is taking place between the guards and the gigantic Borarus. Straith rallies his men and they begin to open fire with their newly acquired lasers. Amazingly, the beams seem to pass straight through the creature, but the guards have no choice but to continue firing. The Doctor and Cacothis arrive and the Overseer is horrified to see that his men has started using forbidden technology without his authorisation. The Doctor assures him not to worry as the lasers are having no effect anyway. He reminds Cacothis that they’re dealing with an entity made entirely of memory and thought, but fortunately the Doctor has an ace up his sleeve - C’rizz, who’s still in the wastelands. He needs to communicate with his friend and he plans to use an ancient Gallifreyan technique…which means going outside and shouting.
On the other side of the Barrier, C’rizz hears the Doctor calling his name. Aboresh tells the Eutermesan that he must order the Doctor to leave, and C’rizz agrees to try even though he knows the Doctor won’t listen. Seconds later, C’rizz physically manifests himself in front of the Doctor and Cacothis, causing the latter to believe he must be a phantom. C’rizz tells the Doctor to leave now, but he refuses to do so until his friend explains what’s happening here. C’rizz says he can’t and asks the Doctor to trust him. Before they can argue further, C’rizz fades away. He returns to Aboresh and tells him the Doctor wouldn’t listen, so Aboresh decides to proceed without him. He says they stand on the verge of total victory and they can’t turn back now. Behind them are a thousand dispossessed souls who C’rizz has unwittingly brought across space and time and delivered here, and together they will destroy the Citadel. C’rizz refuses to condone such an action, but Aboresh tells him he can’t stop it now.
When the Doctor and Cacothis return to the laboratory, they find Charley and the Black Angel watching Lolanthia as she tries to destroy the Barrier. The Doctor knows this will only serve to irritate Borarus, but he says anything that annoys the giant amoeba is fine by him. Charley asks him what Borarus is and the Doctor explains that it’s a pseudo-physical gestalt of the psychic emanations that she released from C’rizz’s Absolver. Charley realises this has all been her fault, but the Doctor quotes from Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and says they should condemn the fault, not the actor of it. She’s not to blame for the souls being in the Absolver in the first place and she released them by accident. He says terrible things sometimes happen by accident, but so do great things. There’s a sudden crash from nearby and Cacothis tells them Borarus is getting nearer. The Doctor says that unless the creature is stopped, it will consume this world, then the next, and quite possibly the Universe itself. And there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
Aboresh reminds C’rizz that absolution is what he does best and urges him not to turn away from his duty. C’rizz insists that he never meant for any of this to happen, but Aboresh knows that on his home world he would absolve those who had no future, which effectively meant absolving everyone. C’rizz argues that they had to be saved, but Aboresh says no one touched by C’rizz was ever saved. Everyone that felt the sting of his blade was damned, not absolved. He asks C’rizz to listen for their cries and the Eutermesan is overwhelmed by voices calling out for release from the endless night. Only C’rizz can save them by being true to himself. Suddenly C’rizz cries out in agony as his body begins to physically change. He falls to his knees and begs Aboresh to help him, but his mentor assures him he isn’t dying, but evolving. Aboresh calls out to their brothers and sisters and tells them the way is open. He asks them to follow him to the Citadel where Paradise awaits them.
Charley says it sounds like the Outlanders have broken through and she suggests they barricade the laboratory door. The Doctor warns her away as the door bursts open and Aboresh marches in, followed by a horde of deformed creatures. He grabs hold of Charley as a warning to the Doctor in case he‘s feeling heroic. He orders the rabble to silence, telling them they have access to the Citadel now, so they should go off and enjoy it because what happens here is none of their concern. The creatures move away and Aboresh rejoices in the peace. The Doctor realises straight away that this must be C’rizz’s new mentor and Aboresh says he’s been helping him realise his full potential as someone had to correct the damage done by the Doctor’s interference. He accuses the Doctor of taking C’rizz out of his home Universe where he was on the way to becoming a God, which the Doctor thinks sounds unhealthy. Cacothis tells Aboresh that he’s unwelcome here, but he refuses to leave without Aurithca - Lolanthia’s mother; Cacothis’s wife and Aboresh’s beloved. He’s not surprised that Cacothis never told his daughter the truth. No doubt he wanted to spare her heartbreak. Cacothis swears that he would have told her, but after the accident there seemed no point. Aboresh suggests there never was an accident. He knew even back then that his days in the facility were numbered as he was too intelligent for his own good. The last thing he wanted was to see Cacothis getting all the credit for the project’s success, so when he was sacked he sabotaged it by shorting out the projector’s rod cluster. Cacothis realises Aboresh is to blame for everything that happened, but Aboresh says he came to terms with his guilt a long time ago.
Cacothis calls Aboresh a murderer and lunges towards him, but Aboresh uses the sheer force of his will to stop him in his tracks. As Cacothis screams out in agony, Lolanthia begs Aboresh to leave him alone, but he says he’s waited too long for this moment. Cacothis falls to his knees, but refuses to beg. Charley urges the Doctor to do something, so he whispers to Lolanthia to adjust the turbine to maximum. If he can manipulate the resonance, he may be able to set up a telepathic interference pattern. He apologises to the others for the headaches they’re going to get - and then suddenly everyone cries out in pain. The Doctor calls to Cacothis to pull the red lever next to him which will open the central air shaft. With Aboresh standing directly over the hatchway, he’ll be sucked half a kilometre underground. But Aboresh mocks the Doctor and says even gravity can’t stop him now. Levitation is child’s play to a mind as powerful as his. Cacothis regains his strength and charges towards his enemy. As the Black Angel cries out, Aboresh asks her to witness his apotheosis and tells her they’ll soon be reunited for eternity. To his surprise, Aurithca turns on him instead and as she leaps onto him, he loses concentration and they both drop down through the open hatchway. His screams fade away as he disappears from view. The Doctor tells Charley to close the hatch, then he turns to the crying Lolanthia and tells says her mother saved them all. The least they can do is return to compliment and save their world.
The battle outside the Citadel is not going well for the guards and Phelgreth suggests they start withdrawing to the armoury. For once, Straith is in full agreement with him. Suddenly the gigantic Borarus creature lashes out and Straith is injured. Phelgreth offers to carry him to safety, but Straith believes that what‘s happened is the will of the Forsaker. He promotes his sergeant to the rank of captain and hands responsibility for the defence of the Citadel to him. Phelgreth knows he can’t succeed on his own, so he forces the wounded officer to his feet and drags him to safety.
The Doctor finishes his work on the instruments but tells Lolanthia she must only use it as a last resort. Charley asks about C’rizz and the Doctor says their friend may yet be able to salvage the situation. They both promise Lolanthia they will return and the Doctor reminds her once again not to throw the switch unless all other hope is lost…but as they head upstairs, Lolanthia mutters to herself that as far as she’s concerned, all hope is already lost. She throws the switch and the energy starts to build up.
On the staircase, Charley asks the Doctor about the device he just built for Lolanthia. He explains that it’s a Genetic Assimilator and he’s realigned the projector core to fold genes instead of space and time. If Lolanthia activates it, it’ll merge the genes of the Outlanders with those of anyone left in the Citadel. Of course that won’t be a good thing for him and Charley if they’re still in the building at the time as their genes will go into the melting pot too. Then he reveals that Lolanthia has probably thrown the switch already, which is why he built in a five-minute delay.
A few minutes later the Doctor and Charley successfully make their way back to the TARDIS and they’re pleased to see that it’s been restored back to its usual blue form. Suddenly the gigantic form of Borarus strides towards them, but just as all hope seems lost, C’rizz emerges from the shadows and orders the Beast to stop. Charley recognises her friend straight away, even though his entire body has been transformed and he now has the appearance of the Devil himself. C’rizz announces that he’s now as he should be and this is his true form. The Doctor tells him he needs to recapture all the lost souls and put them back into his Absolver, or else his pet Borarus is going to absorb every living thing in the Universe. C’rizz tells him he need not fear the Beast as it’s simply an extension of himself. He says the Absolver is worthless now and it’s already served its purpose. It was only ever an elaborate key to unlock a far greater vessel - the actual Absolver is C’rizz himself. The Doctor asks if this is what he was ‘constructed’ for, but Charley interrupts and insists that their friend is flesh and blood. The Doctor has a theory that C’rizz was actually built by his people for a specific purpose - as a living reliquary. C’rizz’s voice becomes darker and booms out. He acknowledges that the Doctor finally has some understanding of his true purpose, but Charley refuses to listen and insists that their friend is not a machine. The Doctor wonders if the Eutermesans were seeking immortality, but weren’t quite clever enough to achieve it. Instead, they created a vessel that would contain their thoughts and essences, preserving them beyond death in the hope that future generations would solve the problem of eternal life. C’rizz is that vessel.
C’rizz confirms that the souls that now make up Borarus were never inside the reliquary and were inside him all the time. The Doctor urges him to reclaim them, but C’rizz refuses to do that, arguing that Borarus is their destiny. He intends to save both his friends, but the Doctor says their absorption will be murder, not salvation. C’rizz insists that he’s not an angel of death, but of life everlasting. Charley implores him to think again - if he continues with this madness, the last two people who love him will be gone forever, but C’rizz still believes they will be saved and preserved, contained within him forever. The Doctor proposes that C’rizz absolve him if he must, but that he should let Charley go. C’rizz says he has no choice, but the Doctor points out that no one controls him and C’rizz is the master of his own destiny.
They hear a loud boom coming from within the Citadel. They realise their five minutes are up and the Genetic Assimilator has come online. Charley pleads with C’rizz to do something quickly or they’ll all die. The Doctor tells them it’s too late and suddenly the entire area is swamped by a wave of energy which passes over everyone and then disappears as quickly as it came. Everything is quiet and Charley wonders whether it went wrong, but the Doctor doesn’t believe that. Charley is delighted to see that C’rizz has returned to his normal form and C’rizz confirms that he absorbed the power of the Genetic Assimilator. The Doctor is worried this will break down his genome, but C’rizz says it was the only way he could save them. Aboresh had told C’rizz the Doctor had interfered in his development and held him back, but in fact he taught C’rizz how a person could be something greater than himself and can fashion his own destiny. The Eutermesan cries out in pain as the Assimilator starts to affect his DNA. C’rizz says the Doctor brought him the gift of time which helped heal many wounds, except for one. The Doctor realises he means L’da. C’rizz still misses her so much, but he’ll shortly be joining her. Charley starts to cry as she realises her friend is dying. C’rizz says he’s been running from his own salvation for far too long and it’ll be good to face it at last. Charley tells him there’s still more to see and more of the Universe to explore, but the Doctor knows it’s too late and they can’t do anything to help. C’rizz says he’s not scared of dying. From the distance they can hear the roar of the Beast Borarus as it finally bursts into a shower of crimson tears, and C’rizz knows he only has moments left. He says goodbye to f his friends and then slowly his body mutates completely until he turns into a pile of dust at their feet. As the Doctor and Charley recover from the shock, there’s a rumble in the air and then the sky opens up to reveal sunshine, the first the planet has seen for three thousand years. It’s C’rizz’s final gift.
The Doctor and Charley return to the TARDIS, which seems to have repaired itself. The Doctor is delighted that everything is be back to the way it was before and he starts to make plans for their next journey. Charley is horrified and asks how he can act like this. C’rizz is dead and he turned to dust in front of then, but the Doctor is all smiles as if nothing has happened. She accuses him of being glad that things have gone back to the way they were before C’rizz joined them. The Doctor is lost for words and although he knows what’s happened is painful for her, he doesn’t know what to say. She realises that he doesn’t share her pain and wonders whether he ever really cared for C’rizz at all. He tells her that’s not true, but she doesn’t believe him. He seems perfectly happy to just carry on and she thinks he must have preferred it before C’rizz arrived, when she was just a naïve little girl who hanged onto his every word. She becomes increasingly angry and says the only thing he really cares about is his wretched TARDIS. The Doctor admits that throughout his life, people have come and gone, and it’s not that he doesn’t care about them it’s just that everybody leaves eventually and when it comes down to it, there’s only him and the TARDIS. Coldly, Charley tells him she’s had enough and asks him to take her home. He reminds her that ’home’ means back aboard the R101, somewhere over France, but she’s made her decision. She goes to her room to pack and asks him to let her know when they’ve arrived. He tries to talk her out of it, but she reminds him that everybody leaves.
|Source: Lee Rogers